Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Magic Item Through Tech

Heh, haptic shoes, ladies and gents.
They lead you by giving you signals to your feet not exactly the slight pull I mentioned with these magic shoes, but I figure close enough.

Hat tip to Boing Boing.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

After the Regatta

It's been a year since I DMed last.  We previously left our party after one of them had one the Regatta Gloriosa.  Now the adventures continue:

Anonimo - Rogue

Aphrodisia - Cleric
G - Cleric
Oma - Fighter
and various hirelings

We rolled on the Fad of the Day chart and negotiated the answer to mean bling was in season.  Which is fitting because there would be a procession from the docks to the central cathedral.  That is because in winning the regatta G secured the right to change the city's religion for a year.  

So, Shopping & Dragons happened for a while as players tried to bling themselves up.  I am horrible at estimating prices and may need to just buckle down and develop my own simplified price lists for the city as well as maybe develop a mini-game to make it more engaging for everyone.

After the blinged-out crew finished the procession there was a banquet attended by all the most important families in Ulminster.  After many courses of some of the city's famous delicacies there was a toast.  Suddenly one old priest lurch back and melted into a tarry substance.  Chaos erupted, people running and screaming it was an ill omen.

The party investigated the body but there wasn't much left except his staff that had scratch marks around the tip.  G asked the Captain, his diety, for the power to speak with the dead and was granted it.  After asking a few questions they determined the old dude had no clue what happened to him, but he mentioned a strange word "sevreson."  Asking around, the party ended up talking to Learned Henry who informed them that sevreson was a rare, rural digestif and proceeded to sing a song about it.  Talking to another old priest Bonny Burleson who was the deceased roommate, they found he often snuck off to the cellar, for what they assumed was a snort of the stuff.  On searching the cellar, though, they found nothing resembling the rare liqueur.  G asked the Captain for gudiance and they were led to a rack in one corner of the cellar that could be swung out.

On the other side of this secret door they found a natural cavern with a keg.  on top of the keg was some tarry substance that looked like a rat had died and its foul fluids were dripping down near the tap.  They just began searching the caverns when we stopped for the night.

Oh, I forgot, Aphrodisia can see the future and had a dream of a scantily clad person clambering up a wall in the cathedral to steal a jeweled cross.  and several times during the evening (procession, banquet)  strange masked figure appeared. 

So, about the last two notes-- I'm trying to plant seed for a thriving Snake cult they can chose to investigate (the scantily clad thief) and also start escalating some craziness in the world related to people donning masks that will occur whether they get involved or not.

Backing up, while super simple, this is the first time I've ever ventured into something mystery-like.  It seemed to go ok.  I didn't even think about the cleric's ability to speak with the dead, though.  So, next time I try something like this I should have weird clues for the dead person to give.

Also, I introduced Henry and Burleson specifically so that the players would have different avenues to find out about things.  They are two of my three ideas for distinct knowledge npcs (the Veteran and the Storyteller).  It was a bit of a rusty start, but hopefully it will become more fruitful.

In addition to thinking about pricelists I mentioned above I want to create my own version of Chris Hogan's Fad of the Day chart.  I think the idea is brilliant, but I think I might be using it slightly differently than he intended,  I mostly want something fresh and potentially funny to differentiate social interaction each session.  So, I need less support from the chart for repercussion for not following the fad and more help with what the fad actually is.  I'll share it if I make it.  Hope you are all have fun gaming with friends.  See you next post.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New York Public Library public domain works

The New York Public Library recently started sharing public domain works in its collection online here.  I read about it here.  Looks like a possible new source for interesting game art.  I worked this up in about an hour:
But the unfortunate thing is they charge you $50 to get the high definition files.  Not a problem for me working with silhouettes, but I thought the colors on the original for this were nice and all you can get is a version with pretty bad jpeg artfacting:
Anyway, thought I would share.  Hope your new year is starting nicely.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


"The spirits that inhabit masks can be capricious, even savage creatures. There are reports of mask-wearers being led on chains to prevent them from attacking onlookers. Some mask-gods, such as the Egungun of the Yoruba, are thought to be able to kill an unmasked person with a single touch. One Tibetan mask was removed from its shrine only once a year in preparation for its ceremony. It was then kept overnight in a locked temple, while monks chanted prayers to prevent its malicious spirit from breaking free. Villagers for miles around barred their doors. Among the Ilahita Arapesh of Melanesia, ritual killings were carried out by a man in a state of possession by the appropriate mask."
 A quote from this essay that seemed pretty creepy and gameable.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Time in the Wasteland 2

There are spoilers in this post.  Go finish the game, then come back.

Another aspect of Fallout 4 that entranced me was the settlement system.  A wasteland is only a wasteland until some knucklehead like myself decides to start cleaning up and organizing it.  The game allowed you to scrap rusty car bodies, tires, and fallen trees.  I spent hours just cleaning up the areas around my settlements.  It took me a few tries, but I found an efficient hub-pattern of supply lines that connected the resources scrapping gave me, making them available to build useful new structures in any settlement.  Clothing and arming my settlers was another fun time sink. that made clothing found in the wasteland meaningful, in much the way that requiring materials for repairing things made scrap more real.

In the beginning of the game I was anticipating big changes involving restoring society, like getting bottling plants back on line or resettling cities like Concord.  With all the defenses you're able to build and the emphasis put on how happy settlements are, I also thought there would be a big struggle for the hearts and minds of these little towns by the factions in the game.

Unfortunately neither happened.  And, as I slowly learned how settlements worked I had less and less interest in messing with them.  For example, no matter how clever or overpowered your defenses, if you don't go to help when a settlement is attacked, it will lose and be conquered.  Which makes a certain design sense because then it makes the player want to drop everything and rush back to help, right?  Well, except a settlement that is completely overrun pops back to it's full population the moment you travel back.  And it takes only a tiny hit in happiness. 

In fact, the only way for settlers to truly die, seemed to be when I did travel back to help them and the battle was a rough one.  And you want to talk about rough battles, the irony of a leveled-world is that the higher in level I get the worse the world gets for everyone around me.  As a 90th leveler you don't want to return to a settlement unless you want to see everyone slaughtered around you.  So the game trained me to leave settlements to their own devices and ignore their cries for help.

What are Settlements for?
I had hours of fun playing Fallout 4, and no game is perfect, but Bethesda made some design decisions that seemed to work against it's own goals.  Maybe these aspects of the game are related to different play styles and I'm blinded by my own preferences, but let me continue talking about settlements to explain what I mean.

So, players can have fun dressing and arming settlers and cleaning up and building in a settlement.  That's enough of a reason to have them.  Well, to have one, or two, or even a few.  But 30?  Having places to set up artillery seems like an good reason to have a well-developed network of settlements, except the times I found artillery useful were very few.  You basically have to have some enemies in a walled-in area they can't run and engage you, for the slow artillery to be helpful against them.  And by the time that you have a well-developed network of settlements, you're probably powerful enough to just go in blasting anyway.

I think the best reason for settlements as little outposts for exploring the world.  You have a safe place to rest and heal.  You can dump all the junk you find in local ruins and with the supply lines feature, you don't have to worry about hauling most of it anywhere else.  As you go up in level you can make shops and sell the items the supply lines won't transfer.  Settlements make for perfect little outposts in a exploration

Except . . the game pushes you to fast travel.  Early on it gives you missions that are randomly spread all over the map.  Some of the settlement missions are time sensitive.  Because of this hopping and rushing around it made sense for me to pick a place to set up a home base.  Once I did that fast traveling back to it became normal procedure and all those many settlements became superfluous in game terms. 

I think to make the settlements more than aesthetic time sinks, Bethesda had to either limit fast travel in some way-- which would make them useful explorations bases-- or make the plot involve the settlements somehow.  The latter seems so obvious, so almost there, I wonder if it was planned and got cut.