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Everything posted by Vondy

  1. Well, yes. You build an all or nothing body transfer (or whatever the equivalent convoluted 6e method is) that requires an OAF "ritual slaughter knife" and an OAF "human victim" and Incantations "ritual mumbo-jumbo and campy creep zingers" and define the special effect as "human sacrifice driven life-force transfer" Then you take that body to fuel your necromancy spells. Even better if you are creating undead of some sort and need a Bulky OAF "suitable corpse." After all, you just made one...!
  2. I prefer pulp fantasy, gothic horror, and swords and sorcery to conventional fantasy, which is generally synonymous with "high fantasy" for most people. Though more "cultural," I also find the traditional Robin Hood ballads and Arthurian myths are more my speed than, say, Tolkein and his imitators. I find Moorcock hard to read, but I Lieber, REH, and Aspirin and crew's work.
  3. That's an interesting tidbit. He also said in an interview "None of us (writers) know how big Sanctuary is. Its as big as it needs to be for the story." We used Sanctuary as a home-base during our "desert adventures" phase, but then returned to Lankhmar, which is what I'll focus on if I reboot. The main setting divergence is just that Sanctuary, the Rankan Empire, and some Hyborean cities are on my Newhom.
  4. I unexpectedly received a box from my mother containing the notes and character sheets from my long-running "old school" D&D campaign. This game ran for years, from childhood to young adulthood. I haven't seen this stuff in 20+ years. After the nostalgia wore off I though "I really need to translate this into hero (something I considered doing "way back when") and reboot it yet again. Post One. Real World History. My early D&D campaigns were shared with an eponymous co-GM so that we could both play. We originally used Lankhmar as its base city. We didn’t know much about Newhon. Our only reference was the Newhon Mythos section of Deities & Demigods (1980) and a beat-up copy of Swords and Deviltry. We decided that the Northmen, in addition to Kos, worshipped the Finnish Pantheon, while Bacob and Hecate became Lankmari demigods. That covered religion. We ran a lot of modules. Newhon’s Great Salt Marsh and Sinking Lands were perfect stand-in locations for a lot of the 1st edition modules from “The Known World” and the Hool River / Marshes region of Grayhawk. These modules often featured reptilian or amphibian monsters. We saw far more Bullywugs, Lizard Men, Sauhagin, Troglodytes, and the Yaun-Ti than we did the standard “evil” humanoids. They also seemed to fit better with Newhon’s weird pulpy groove. It didn’t occur to us not to include demi-humans, but with the exception one long-running dwarf and elf, the vast majority of player characters were humans with a smattering of half-elves thrown in. There were an awful lot of fighters, thieves, and fighter-thieves. No one liked playing clerics and, with the exception of a long-running illusionist, we had few mages, and none of those advanced past the mid-level range. Our heroes were very much “freebooting mercenary adventurers” and “loveable rogues.” Most NPC mages were Fire Mages, Snow Witches, Necromancers, or Scribes and Alchemists (Dragon Magazine). So, magically speaking, the traditional D&D wizard acting as “mystic artillery” was not a prominent fixture in our games. We weren’t too far off the S&S mark. Our characters relied far more heavily on potions, scrolls, dusts, powders, and disposable items (e.g., wands). Permanent magic items were rare and often were often cool “utility” items rather than weapons and armor. That was the zeitgeist for magic. When Lanhkmar: City of Adventure (1985) was published we snapped it up. It was much clearer about how Newhon should differ from generic D&D. I had also read Swords Against Death at this point. Over time we derated demi-humans as new PCs and either removed those races or sidelined them to the hinterlands along with the more common “evil huanoids.”. One long-running and nigh-iconic half-elf PC became “some demigod’s bastard.” We also implemented the supplements interesting, if not-quite satisfactory, system for “white” and “black” magic. We then decided to play-through a series of desert-themed modules and homebrew adventures (including a pastiche of Tower of the Elephant). These were set on the far bank of the Eastern Sea. I hadn’t done much reading that would cover that part of Newhon, but I had read Thieves’ World and had Chaosium’s Thieves’ World boxed-set (1981), so we used Sanctuary as our base city with a handwave towards it being on the frontier of the now-decaying Rankan Empire. Hyperborea’s Shadizar and Sukhmet also made appearances. One notable interpolation was that the Scarlet Brotherhood made an appearance as the shadowy hand of fallen Quarmall. The campaign closed with the heroes returning to Lankhmar. The rebooted Lankhmar campaign focused more on character-driven stories and personal drama, which often vibed like a “D&D Telenovela,” but around this time the shift to 2nd edition was taking place and a lot more Lanhkmar materials were being published for D&D. I had also read a lot more thieves world, farfd and gray mouser, and conan stories at this stage. I ran the homebrew stuff (the 1985 book has pages of maps with places to record homebrew notes for locations) while one of my players ran the modules so that I could trot my own characters out every so often. The rebooted game was much truer to the swords and sorcery milieu in general, and Newhon in particular, but we also managed to work in some eldritch and gothic horror elements, which jived really well with Newhon’s “weird.” Beholders, mind-flayers, reanimated flesh golems, necromancers, and the occasional vampire were a thing in this game. Anyhow. That’s the history of my long-term campaign and how it developed (without going into the character's crazy backstories). Next up: What old-school modules were played alongside the homebrew adventures?
  5. I really think you have to start with the theory of the magic before looking at the point cost of spells. This goes hand-in-hand with approaching it from a world-building rather than a game-mechanics perspective. Approaching these questions from a "make it cheaper" or "control player behavior" perspective will yield less satisfying results than approaching them from a "how does it work?" or "what are you trying to simulate?" perspective. Or, more succinctly, you've described the mechanics, but what are the effects ? So, let's ask this question: What style of magic are you simulating? What about magic causes side effects and what is the nature of those side-effects? Does working with magic cause psychic shock (mental blast)? Does it overload the nervous system (energy blast)? Do elemental energies get out of control and also hurt the caster (energy blast or RKA)? Does working with spectral / illusory forces lead to disassociate hallucinations (metal illusions or entangle)? Does the caster pay for power with their own life force (body drain)? Does casting spells sap the will (ego drain)? Does working with the black arts express itself as physical corruption over time (cumulative transform)? You have a mechanical / mathematic model. What is it modelling? Insofar as you have a coherent explanation for a material in-game effect the build is appropriate. Or, at least, that's my 2AP. This would be an excellent way to simulate the deleterious effects of black magic in Lankhmar / Newhon.
  6. Many of these studies, which are numerous enough to be reaching the meta-analysis stage, were done on children who are in school today. So, not just us "old fogeys" who grew up reading hard-copies. The issue isn't cultural habits. Its how our brains, which are wired to work with all five senses in a a three-dimensional space, are wired.
  7. Vondy


    I've run two games with "high nobles." #1 In the first one of the protagonists was the (eldest) bastard daughter of a baron and, at the time, one of his father's vassal's daughters. The PC had initially been sent to an orphanage by her mother's kin, but her father saw to it she was apprenticed to the kingdom's master harper when he became baron. He didn't acknowledge her for a long time, but she became popular at court, was informally dubbed "the lady of the strings" by the king, and became embroiled (along with her friends) in a lot of intrigues, mysteries, and general oddball adventures. Her existence infuriated the baron's estranged wife (an earl's daughter whose father happened to be the baron's liege). This provided her with a decidedly unpleasant rivalry. Fortunately, the baron's wife's antics were so scandalous and over the top that her father finally decided the social consequences at court were too high and stopped shielding her. The baron, using the PC as a lever in his "scorched earth connubial warfare." decided to acknowledge her and, after seeing to it his other two daughters who out of the running (one was sent to study to become a priest and the other was married off to a son of one of the earl's rivals), ultimately acknowledged the PC as his heir. For a while she was the constable of his keep (and put her two compatriots up as permanent houseguests). We ran numerous local adventures and they dealt with an abusive local lord, a corrupt hundred bailiff, scheming nobles and land politics, a haunting, brigands who heisted a bishop's tithes on the road, and an angry dryad and her faerie attendants who terrorized the woodcutters and charcoalers working nearby with nightmares as well as some intrigues around a slowly erupting civil war. Her father died very early in the war when his liege pulled a face-heel turn and left he and his forces exposed on the battlefield to be slaughtered. Now baroness, believing her liege was on the losing (and worst) side she turned to an Earl whom she and her friends had saved from assassination very early on in the game. The earl who had become an intimate friend with a lot of unresolved sexual tension over the course of the campaign, provided the PC and her friends refuge. A widower (45 years to her 28 years) whose son had died leaving him without a male heir, he offered to secure her barony and "birthright" in exchange for her hand in marriage, which she consented to. Our PC, now a countess, brokered a deal between her new husband and a faction of three royal barons, two sheriffs, and an earl (arguably the most influential one in the country) who were backing a popular candidate for the throne. Failed crops, a hard winter, a fire in the capitals granaries, and subsequent grain riots and widespread banditry delayed she and her compatriots from leading a contingent of soldiers to retake her keep, but it was ultimately done, and shortly thereafter a decisive mass-battle was fought nearby with her husband and his allies coming out on top. Her barony was made a royal barony under the new king. She ensured her friends were knighted for their (truly insane) heroics and appointed them bailiffs of some choice nearby manors. When last we saw her she was heavily pregnant with her Earl's new heir and her barony had been placed in the royal domain, making her a countess and royal baron. The player, however, has been agitating to play her again. One option is to have the party become re-embroiled in court intrigues aimed at getting one of the other PCs appointed to a vacant nearby sheriff's position... thereby launching them back into the fray. #2 I had a player ask to play the heir of one of the kingdom's earls who, in a fit of guilt over a sin, made a vow to walk barefoot to a distant abbey as penance. He departed on this journey, quite uncharacteristically, incognito and without warning. This happened during the lead-up to the aforementioned civil war. This prompted his father to send a group of men to shadow and watch over him, but not to interfere unless absolutely necessary. The earl-to-be was rescued from brigands by the other PCs (a group of traveling thespians with a penchant for swindling and picking pockets) who were traveling in the direction of the abbey and invited him to travel with them (not knowing who he was). They got involved in some early shenanigans and he finally had to admit who he was when his shadows started creating total paranoia with the other PCs. They helped him give the shadows a very ignomious slip and invited him to join them as an "actor" on their journey to triennial thespians guild meeting that occurred in a kingdom to the south. They had numerous crazy adventures (in which his knightly skills proved invaluable) both on the way and at the great fair where the "thespians convocation," but word came of the civil war back home and he insisted on returning. His friends very begrudgingly agreed to follow him back, but they ended up snowed in half-way back and spent the winter, very uncomfortably, in a town where they had ripped more than one person off. Fortunately, the used his position to get them lodging at the kingdom's royal castle, where the players solved both a murder and an assassination plot. When spring came they set off again for home, but upon arriving he discovered his father (the face-heel turn earl mentioned above) had just lost the final decisive battle of the war. His father was beheaded and he was taken into custody and expected to be beheaded as well. His friends, however, had other plans and hatched a wild Rube Goldberg machine level of complexity plot to set him free. This did not exactly go to plan, but when last we saw them, they were riding hell-bent-for leather on stolen warhorses towards the western highway and the kingdoms beyond. Fare thee well, my friends, fare the well.
  8. Searchability is definitely a plus. And some people can learn just fine from e-copies. However, there are a goodly number of studies that show, for most people, retention is somewhat lower when learning / working from e-copies than from physical texts. In addition, some learning styles are more spatially and tactilely oriented than others. Some people's brains place the information they read in the spatial context in which is was read. Their minds, at least subconsciously, remember where on the page the information was, how the printing and paper were, etc. There are exceptions, of course, but I'm not one of them. I have excellent retention when reading from hard-copies, which means I don't need to search that often, and generally know exactly where to look when I do. If I read it from an e-copy I remember far less and am constantly searching.
  9. You could retroactively insert an accomplice or employer the kid was working with who decided he was loose-end that needed tying up. After all, if the kid is a bad liar and the accomplice the PCs are on to him his corpse might be the only clue they care to drop.
  10. I have a weird non-issue in that whenever I go to the Hero store I am often confronted with the option of PDF or hardcopy + PDF. I know the PDF is essentially a free add-on and I don't have to download it, but I always want to ask "could I just have the hard-copy ala carte, please?" Electronic copies are like carbs. As I get older, I find I don't want or need as many. 😈
  11. Disclaimer: I've been gaming for 40+ years now and am selective about the "old school" games I bother with. I'm not a game hoarder and, nostalgia aside, I dislike curating large file archives. I also dislike reading e-copies. Their fine as searchable references, but not for reading. That said, my rule of thumb is that if an out of print game I'm interested in has become copyright orphan, or the copyright holder has no intention of publishing it, I will download a PDF. However, if a work is in print, or was recently in print, or is an electronic only product from a still existing company, I will pay for any e-copies I download and use. Fair is fair. The truth is, I'm old school in that I much prefer print copies for my shelf. if one can be obtained at a market price I consider (subjectively) reasonable, I prefer to get one instead. Most of my e-copies are references for B/X, AD&D 1e and 2e, and Flashing Blades. But, with the exception of rare hard-to-find unicorns, I delete them when I hunt down a shelf-copy. For me its a lifestyle thing. From my perspective: Why clutter your life with things you will never actually refer to or use?
  12. I think the Heroite bias is to assume everything you find in the books are options to pick and choose from when worldbuilding and genre-simulating. That is not how the average D&D player, or even the Wizard's writing team, seems to relate to it, however. They seem to have taken the generally laudable notion of player agency straight past reasonable into its logical extreme. The general 5e D&D culture seems to maintain is that limiting options to build a more coherent filled with more relatable stories and protagonists is "autocratic." That, and even with limited options, I still wouldn't like how it plays. Its not a bad game, per se, but I find the experience it provides decidedly unsatisfying.
  13. My long-term gaming group has been playing online with discord video-calls. We used to play all kinds of genres and systems, including Hero, but for the past 18 months all they've wanted to play is varying iterations of D&D 5e. It has some interesting ideas, but I really don't like the way it plays. The more options the devs introduce the more restrictive and bland it feels. When the cool races and classes from individual editions and settings all get lumped into core they lose their distinctiveness and it just becomes nonsensical kitchen-sink fantasy. Loss of focus means loss of vision.
  14. Scintillating Elf-Babes. Yummy.
  15. The post you are responding to is almost six years old and I haven't been active on the Hero Boards for over two years. I only ended up seeing the comment notification because the boards auto-populated while I was headed to Hero Forge. Fire away with the comments, but all things considered, I'm a pretty low-yield choice of interlocutors these days. Merry Christmas and more power to you for reading whichever comic books you prefer! 👍
  16. Some might look at a situation in which the same 10-12 counties (out of 39) consistently decide who our governors will be introduces inequalities of representation and disincentivizes compromise and cooperation. Inslee carried: 10. We've had 5 two term governors from the same party in a row. That's right: 40 years running. Senator Cantwell won 12 counties in 2018. She carried all 10 counties Inslee did plus Callum and Clark... both on the West side of the mountains. Senator Murray won the same 12 counties. In other words, people 29 counties do not have a governor who carried their county and people in 27 counties do not have a Senator who carried their county. That has been true +/- a county or two for the people in those counties for almost two decades (senators). Cantwell only spent one day in Eastern Washington during the 2018 campaign for fast photo-ops in Yakima and the Tri-Cities. We do not have an electoral college at the state level, or a way of ensuring our politicians can't just ignore most of the state, its problems, and ways of living, when running for elections or pushing policy decisions. Pugetopolis calls the shots for everyone, always, in Washington. In "every county?" It carried a majority of votes in 12 of 39 counties... the same ones that voted for Cantwell and Murray. Our initiative system bypasses the check of the state senate and legislative process and allows for the tyranny of the majority. It is inconsistent with our representative republican system of government. Now, before you assume "That Dave is a right-wing nut" I will point out that I voted for Derek Kilmer (D) for Congress and Jay Inslee (D) for governor and Hutchinson (R) for senate. At the state level, I voted for two Republicans and one Democrat for the legislature. All won. That I'm represented at several levels of government does not mean a great many of my fellow Washingtonians have recourse to anyone other than their state representatives, who can be cut out of the process by popular initiative. That. Is. Not. Right.
  17. Esenor Keep will be out as an official Harn product in 2019. I'm working on a trio of other official articles now, as well.
  18. I am hoping to have more for you: A new fanon location in Tashal in January-February. An officially published write-up of Caer Esenor in 2019. The line-editor and I are editing/polishing the draft right now.
  19. I have no idea what you people are talking about.
  20. I'm glad some may find it useful. There are a few anachronisms in it. There is a discussion about that (with criticism fair and otherwise) on the HarnForum.
  21. A good while ago I had an idea for a Harn article called "Haldana Row" that covered three houses and their inhabitants in the city of Tashal. It grew into five houses as a shared project with another writer and is now complete and available as a free download on Lythia.com. HALDANA ROW My sections are Gevel & Clodya's House, Aethel Atan's House, and Elendsa House. Gevel, Clodya, and Aethel are my long-time "iconic" fantasy characters. I reworked these as "playable versions" that could be grounded in a place. The other two dwellings, as well as the maps, are by Matt Roegner. The art is by Richard Luschek, who does all the official Columbia Games art for Harn. Harn itself is generally presented more as low-fantasy medieval realism, but you'll note I depart from that a bit. I like a bit of gothic horror, noir, pulp and swashbuckling action in my games.
  22. Perhaps so! But if we do, then its time to own that several prominent officials in previous administrations have been given a pass and should have been indicted or impeached as well. We have not traditionally uttered the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" or sought impeachment over what is presently on the table. Its premature. Bill Clinton's impeachment was for obstruction and perjury because he lied about a blowjob, not because he got one. And he remained in office because it was overreaching nonsense. No one sought to impeach Clinton over his pre-1992-election hush-money agreement with Gennifer Flowers. It wasn't a "high crime" or even a "misdemeanor." If all of that was overreaching nonsense then, its overreaching nonsense now. What does that leave us with? A quite probable campaign finance violation. For that I give you Barack Obama (fined), Hillary Clinton (still under investigation), Bob Dole (fined), John Edwards (acquitted). Only John Edwards faced criminal charges and his career only ended because he resigned. Obama and Dole both remained in office and won subsequent elections. And Hillary seems to think she should run again. I sat down and read every single page of that AG report on her conduct front to back and the difference in treatment between the two candidates' malfeasance astounds the mind. "Misuse of assets, failure to supervise, and dereliction of duty" could easily be applied to her tenure at State and her campaign is still being investigated. Are you willing to give me "high crimes and misdemeanors" for it? I'm not saying the Cohen-Mantafort revelations aren't sordid, unseemly, unacceptable, potentially criminal, and totally unbecoming. Or that its not potential grounds for impeachment. I am saying, however, that defining what we have at this juncture as "high crimes and misdemeanors" would be highly inconsistent, largely unprecedented, and very likely improvident. The GOP is meaner, more disciplined, and better funded than the DNC. They will remember and they will say turnabout is fair play. They will vow and get their revenge. If we are going to define this as "high crimes and misdemeanors" then a good many officials from the past several administrations should barred from ever holding office again. I'm much more patient and circumspect when it comes to serious matters of state. I'd rather wait for some real meat and not waste my time pouncing on scraps. This nonsense is just an apertif. It whets the appetite, but it doesn't satisfy. I'm waiting for something more.
  23. I was promised treason and collusion. What I've been given is a campaign finance reporting violation and the shocking revelation* that Donald Trump cheats on his wives. Its the political equivalent of kissing your sister. A total let down. We may yet get to collusion, or an actual crime stemming from said collusion, but so far all we have are some very reasonable suspicions. To quote Robert Mueller "I only know what I can prove in court." Reasonable suspicions are legal bupkis. We need more. We may yet get more. But, at present all I have is a lot of hyperbole and speculation and premature excitement. A garden variety financial reporting violation and a politician who once appeared on Playboy stupidly covering up a dalliance no one is surprised about? Is that what were calling "high crimes and misdemeanors" these days? Warren G Harding, who is a much better analog for Trump than Nixon, paid his mistress $5,000.00 a month to keep quiet while he was president. It was the Tea Pot Dome scandal that mattered. Not Nan Britton or Carrie Phillips. Where's my bloody tea pot? Obama was fined "bigly" for reporting violations, the FEC has an open case into Clinton's campaign, and Edwards was acquitted for paying off a mistress with campaign funds. Does all of this sound banally familiar? Don't get me wrong. I would love to see Trump go down in a great big blazing ball of flames, but... talk about the legal equivalent of a box office dud. Its like the remake of a sequel to a remake. If we want to impeach the man for his manners and his morals, let's be honest about what we are on about and get busy. Otherwise... I'm still waiting to get me some tasty treason. *Irony intended.
  24. History: On September 3rd, 1998 the Starr Report citing 11 impeachable offenses (including perjury and obstruction of justice) that President Clinton was potentially liable for was given to the Judiciary Committee. On October 3rd the committee confirmed Sonya Sotomeyer for SCOTUS. Two days later, on October 5th, that same committee voted to recommend the House open an impeachment inquiry into the president. On October 8th the House opened said inquiry and on December 19th they voted to impeach him. On January 7th, 1999 the trial in the Senate began the trial. On February 12th the Senate held a vote with 45-55 on the perjury charge and 50-50 on the obstruction charge. The president, ultimately, was not removed from office and went back to work. The point of all this, aside from my being a fan of due process and waiting for the facts to settle? If you think the Senate should put a hold on a SCOTUS confirmation because a president may be found to be an unindicted co-conspirator you are likely to be sadly disappointed. If that were the norm/rule, Sotomeyer would not be a Supreme Court Justice today.
  25. I appreciate you comments on craft and the actors experience. I would not dream of disputing it and find it illuminating. However, I was making a left-handed reference to something more specific and, in my mind, more culturally insidious. Ergo, assertions such as "to play a lesbian Jewish superhero you must be a Jewish woman who identifies as a lesbian." I'm Jewish and, quite frankly, I don't care if an actor playing a Jew is actually Jewish insofar as they are respectful and put in the study and work to do their subjects justice. Donald Sutherland did fine in Uprising, for instance. He himself expressed concern over playing a Jew until his Jewish co-stars told him to get over it. They wanted him there for his talent and what his name would bring to the movie. Some ethnic groups might be less convincing in terms of "how Jews look," but a lot of Caucasian, Latino, and Arab actors could pass for Jewish as easy as kiss-your-hand with a modicum of study and work. And, there are Kai-Feng and black Jews (the descendants of freed slaves from the American south) out there. They just aren't what people expect, but a good screen-writer could make it work and I wouldn't have a problem with it in most cases. To that same end, Sarah Shahi is straight and yet managed to play one of the most popular characters on the L Word. You don't have to be an avowed lesbian to play-pretend being one on camera. The current identitarian trend is, quite ironically, extremely exclusionary. Ideological didacticism produces inferior cultural product and makes qualification demands that have little bearing on the competence or quality of the artist. Four examples of transidentitarian acting...
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