Author Archive

Notes on a Feng Shui Oneshot

April 2, 2011

I typed these up for another locale and then I thought I might as well post ’em here. This is the sum total of the notes I scribbled on three sheets of paper to run a Feng Shui adventure the other month; it carried us through six hours and two sessions. I’ve added a few explanatory notes in brackets.


Air Wars

January 7, 2011

I have no idea if this is anything like Car Wars, but it has a turning key and the preview scenario says something about customizing jets, so in my brain it’s Car Wars in the sky. I may be doing an injustice to someone by this. Either way: 3D papercraft jet models!

Fiasco What?

December 2, 2010

I should maybe explain what Fiasco is.

Comprehensive Fiasco Playset Listing

December 1, 2010

Hey, I got curious and wound up with this list of Fiasco playsets. It’s as complete as I can make it; the last update was January 19th, 2011. I’ve tried to provide enough information about each one so you can get an idea of whether or not it’s up your alley. The Bully Pulpit playsets are in order of publication; the third party playsets are in alphabetical order.

Latest additions: Liquidation, a playset about modern retail.

Current count: 49 playsets (one in Italian), plus one translation.

Serpent’s Skull Conversion: Backgrounds

September 21, 2010

Mostly a thought exercise, but here are some D&D 4e conversion notes for the Serpent’s Skull Player’s Guide from Paizo. If you’re unfamiliar with the model: Paizo publishes a free introduction to each of their Adventure Paths. The Serpent’s Skull path has pirates, jungles, and Robin Laws fiction, so I’m all over that.

The bulk of the Player’s Guide is background and notes on why particular races or classes would be on this adventure. This needs no conversion. The interesting conversion bits are the Campaign Traits, which correspond roughly to 4e backgrounds. I say roughly because they are somewhat more immediate than 4e backgrounds — e.g., you can take Boarded in Cheliax, which says nothing about your background beyond where you got on the ship. Still, I think the 4e background rules still work well.

The Player’s Guide says that characters may take two campaign traits; in 4e, a player may take up to six backgrounds, but only one of them provides any mechanical benefits. That rule remains. The actual conversions follow the break.

Shilling Q&A

August 18, 2010

If you read this you’ve probably already seen me shill this sucker somewhere else, but I’m not proud and we only need six more commitments before it becomes a real boy.

So: there’s this site called Stack Overflow, which is a place where programmers can ask and answer questions. Imagine Yahoo! Answers, but without all the ads and fourteen year olds who want to know where they can watch True Blood free streaming online. There’s a reputation system, so you can vote up good answers, and if you get enough reputation you get to be an editor, and so on. This all works surprisingly well.

I myself dig the sysadmin-oriented offshoot, Server Fault. There are a couple of other official sites in the family. There’s also been a lot of “hey, you should do a site for cooking/the English language/Zen gnosticism” talk, so they came up with a proposal/beta scheme for new sites, to make sure there’s enough support for any random proposal.

Stage two is the bit where a proposal needs to get 300 people who’re willing to say they’ll use the site. Stage three is beta! The roleplaying site is way close to stage three, so click on over, maybe take a look at those other links first to see if you like the way these sites work, and commit. It’ll be fun.

AP: Prophecy of Crows

August 18, 2010

Prophecy of Crows is my 4e Greyhawk game. It’s pretty cool. I have good players, and it’s a good setting. Right now I’m working on making everything grounded: heightening the importance of the towns and the NPCs and bringing character relationships to the forefront.

One of the characters decided to spend a lot of money on throwing a goodbye party in Storport, which is where the first few sessions happened. Hopefully they’ll be back! That’s going to be a great opportunity to have NPCs express desires and so on, but it couldn’t happen this last session, cause the character’s player wasn’t there.

Instead, I set it aside for a flashback and I had the players who were there write down an incredibly embarrassing thing that happened to their characters during the party. “Don’t show anyone!” Then I took them and shuffled them up without looking and dealt them back out. “OK, this is something you happened to see during the party, totally up to you what you do with it.”

Now the characters all have a non-adventuring point of relationship to each other. Not that they didn’t before but adding another one doesn’t suck, and the players all seemed to like it.


August 9, 2010


DC Universe (cause I like the Green Ronin guys and it’s also M&M 3rd edition)
Apocalypse World (rarely does a lumpley game have nothing for me)
Parsley pack (been wanting this for a while, cheap amusement, $20)
Five sets of dice (2 sets of Chessex for each of me and Susan, one set of Gamescience for Susan)
Lots of Alea Tools magnets
Some miniatures


Peter Seckler’s Nixie Queen LFR My Realms adventure (one of three)
Two LFR specials for our paragon level characters (in your face, Ice Queen Iyraclea)


Ram (20 minute wait, not sure how we did that)
Alcatraz (way worse than previous years, boo soggy Reuben)
Buca (mmm, lots of Italian)
Steak ‘n Shake (tradition)
Cafe Patachou (seriously go here for breakfast)
the usual food court stuff

Chatted with:

Chris H. (too briefly)
Chris McG. (also too briefly)
Matthew G.

Missed sadly:

Ivan (BOO, I shoulda scheduled or something)
I’m sure tons of other people

Ah, Gencon, you are always about a week too short. No con crud this year, because we took lots of multi-vitamins and rested and drank a ton of water. We discovered rather late that the multi-vitamins had a coffee-cup sized dose of caffeine in each one. BUZZ.

Drivin’ To Gencon

August 3, 2010

Gotta game. Gotta game without dice and pen and paper and stuff. So…

Everything you do, you’re either Awesome, Good, or Average. That way this can be the AGA system. Since you have no paper, you don’t have to build your character on points or anything — you can decide on the fly how good you are at things. You’re not Bad at anything, formally speaking. If you suck at doing a thing, you can just say you fail at doing it.

Don’t forget circumstances. If you’re Awesome at penchak silat but you just had the crap beaten out of you, maybe you’re just Good at it right now. Or maybe not. Who am I to say?

If you’re trying to do something you’re Awesome at, you just win by default. I am an Awesome lawyer, so I win my motion for continuance. Or I win the trial if that’s the appropriate granularity. Sometimes your opposition will be better than Average, however. So you just slip down a notch. Here:

Awesome vs. Bad: You win utterly
Awesome vs. Average: You win
Awesome vs. Good: You’re just Good for this one
Awesome vs. Awesome: You’re just Average for this one

If you’re trying to do something you’re Good at, the GM puts a coin in one of her hands. Secretly. It can be a rock or a breath mint or whatever, the coin bit doesn’t matter. You pick a hand. If you get it right, you win!

If you get it wrong, you’re down by one beat. The GM describes how the conflict is going, with your opponent pulling ahead a notch. Or you describe it, depending on where you want to put the narrative power. Again, who am I to say?

Then you do it again. If you guess wrong twice in a row, you lose. If you guess right once, you win. I have not figured out the probabilities here but I think they’re pretty good for you. They should be; you’re Good at this.

If you’re trying to do something you’re Average at, you do the coin bit again. If you guess wrong twice in a row, you lose. To win, you have to guess right twice in a row. Barring your ability to outguess your GM, this should be even odds, right? I think so.

More charts:

Good vs. Bad: You win
Good vs. Average: Guess right once to win
Good vs. Good: You’re Average!
Good vs. Awesome: … hm.

OK, if you’re Good but you’re up against Awesome opposition, you have to guess right twice in a row without guessing wrong. GMs: don’t be dicks. Failure should move the story along. It’s failure for the PC, not for the player!

There. Now I can roleplay in the car.


July 12, 2010

Great interview with James Tabor, who wrote a book about the world’s deepest caves. Like over a mile deep. This seems like it ought to be great dungeon inspiration; I’ll report back once I’ve finished the book.

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