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Annual Xmas Pirate Santa Repost

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It's that time of year again! Despite -- or perhaps because -- I celebrate a secular Xmas, I am a huge fan of Santa Claus in all his weird and wonderful forms, and this post remains a perennial favorite of mine. Some year when I'm less busy writing my own setting and working on mystery projects, I'll try to get that Dionysus encounter linked below written up into an adventure, or maybe create some stats for St. Nicholas and his crew. Today, though, enjoy this Xmas repeat.
An encounter for Pirates of the Spanish Main:
When the crew is in port during December, they encounter a strange figure at the tavern:  The old man is short – barely five feet tall -- and heavy-set.  A white beard frames his fleshy face and laughing eyes twinkle above a broken nose.  His knuckles are calloused – the hands of a brawler – and a length of heavy chain wraps around his thick stomach.  Three jingling bags of coins are tied to his belt.  He raises his mug to you and smiles. Rugged sailors and crus…

The Christmas Morning That Almost Wasn't and other Xmas presents

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I wrote a Savage Worlds Christmas adventure for kids: The Christmas Morning That Almost Wasn't.

I feel like I barely know myself right now; I don’t even like kids and yet I wrote a deliberately child-friendly module. It’s not 100% free of snark, but the adventure is shockingly earnest and maybe even wholesome. Weirder, though, is that I think it might actually be a good adventure.

Typical of several adventures I’ve written, it’s accordion-shaped: it can be very short or very long depending on whether you stretch it out. The basic mission is pretty simple, but there are a lot of diversions and encounters that a GM can use to a single-session game into an epic, multipart quest.

(Well, as epic a quest as a bunch of talking baby animals can go on…)

On Christmas Eve, a foolish living snowman named Harald takes the magical Hourglass of Eons and sneaks away from Santa’s Castle to deliver it to Imp of Winter, Jack Frost. Now several young animals must track Harald through the snow and fore…

Rogue One (SPOILERS)

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Last night, I saw Rogue One at a private screening arranged by a friend of Robin who apparently makes more money than either she or I do. It was tense. It was thrilling. It was easily as good as any of the three films people usually rank as the best Star Wars movies. I wish I could think of some spoiler-free insights to write about, but unfortunately, OH MY GOD I WANT TO TALK SPOILERS SO MUCH!!!
So, let’s do that after the cut. (First, though, we watched the special edition-ized original trilogy to prepare ourselves for new Star Wars, and there’s this one thing that is just driving me nuts. Adding back in the Jabba scene to A New Hope was not necessarily a terrible idea, but most older fans agree that Han walking on Jabba’s tail was kind of ridiculous. I mean, if Jabba was so scary, why didn’t he kill Han Solo on the spot for that slight? Lucas said at the time that he did it as a way to work around the blocking from how the footage was originally shot with Jabba just being a big, ugly…

Savage Rifts® X Fairy Tail: Devil Slayers and God Slayers

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"We ran like hell after those crazy kids told us to skedaddle. Damn our luck, but the rift we came through had closed up. We thought for sure that we were stuck in that crazy dimension.


"Then we spotted the telltale blue-white glow down in a forested valley a couple of days out from that city. We rushed there as soon as we could and were struck dumb by the sight.


"One guy.


"One guy slaughtering wave after wave of demons. Freezing them in place and shattering them with a single blow. Cascades and walls of purple ice trapping dozens at a time...


"When he was done and the way was safe, we humbly dragged our tired and broken bodies through the rift and back to our Earth."


- Derek Platt, former rogue Glitter Boy pilot

Though the origins of the magical schools called Devil Slayer and God Slayer Magic are obscure (possibly pointing to origins more ancient than Dragon Slayer Magic), what does seem self-evident is that both forms are supplements to the normal path of…

More Al-Qadim Thoughts

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Since I can’t get my brain to concentrate on anything really creative, let’s muse for a moments about the races of Zakhara in the setting of Al-Qadim.

One of the surprising and forward-thinking aspects of Al-Qadim is that all of the usual fantasy races (elves and dwarves, orcs and goblins, etc.) live peacefully side-by-side, integrated as citizens of one nation and worshippers of one religion. I want to like this a lot more than I do; as much as I appreciate the inherent message that all sentient species can learn to come together (like in Star Trek), it just feels weird in a fantasy setting. 

I mean, if elves live for 1,000 years and they’re part of the same society as humans, why haven’t they all risen into positions of power? I mean, 20 years at the same job gets me a parking place, so surely 100 years or more gets you into upper management? Why isn’t every pasha an elf? Why isn’t the royal family?

Given that Zakhara (the in-game name for the sub-continent on which Al-Qadim is set) i…

Savage Rifts® X Fairy Tail: Dragon Slayer Paradigmatic Framework [Spoilers]

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“Yeah, I know there’s a big frakkin’ hole in it! Why else do you think I’m willin’ to give away a Glitter Boy?

“How’d it get that hole? That crazy pink-haired burster I was tellin’ you about punched that hole in there. He gathered this big ball of fire around his hand – around his whole body, tell the truth – and then that blue cat flew him at me, and – BLAMMO!

“The thing is, he had some friends that kinda acted like bursters too – in, y’know controllin’ some element the way a burster does – but they weren’t usin’ fire. There was a lightning guy and a metal guy and a wind girl – and some much weirder magic-users – but it was Pinkie the Fire Kid that punched a big, meltin’ hole in my Glitter Boy.

“And then he pulled me out and head-butted me.”
- Derek Platt, former rogue Glitter Boy pilot
[SPOILERS follow for Fairy Tail]

SECOND-GENERATION DRAGON SLAYER
Over 400 years ago, a civil war raged between the dragons of Earth Land. Most dragons thought of humans as nothing but prey – dominating tha…

Savage Rifts® X Fairy Tail: Madōshi (魔導士) VENUS Package

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“It weren’t like that pink-haired Burster and his cat were the only problem… Yeah, I’ll get back to him, but like I said, the two of ‘em weren’t the only problem.
“Like I said…
“Listen, kid, I know you’re curious about the Burster, but I want you to understand that my pals and I didn’t get our asses handed to us by just some kid and his cat. They had friends.
“There was this naked guy throwing ice at us – and this half-naked chick with a minotaur in tow – and this gal in armor. Jebus wept, she was scarier than the pink-haired guy.”
– Derek Platt, former rogue Glitter Boy pilot
MADŌSHI V.E.N.U.S. (Venturers, Experimenters, Navigators, and the Unusually Skilled) PACKAGE

The powerful spellcasters of Earth Land – called madōshi (魔導士) in their own world, but known on Rifts® Earth as mages or wizards – have studied the magic of their world with all the intensity and devotion of any masters of magic. In doing so, they have discovered how to tap deep into a person’s Potential Psychic Energy, bu…

A Mirage Appears Before Me

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The leaves have nothing on how changeable my moods can be.

The current duet game is a modern paranormal romance/urban fantasy game borrowing heavily from Changeling : The Dreaming, but not quite using that setting’s mythology (I should be using either Fae Nightmares or Marchland for Savage Worlds, as I own both, but I just can’t seem to penetrate either of those books.) A few weeks in, though, and I find myself fantasizing about running an Al-Qadim campaign.

Al-Qadim, for those not familiar with it, was AD&D 2nd Edition’s setting of pseudo-Arabian, 1,001 Nights-inflected adventure. I bought the first book – Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures – and first boxed set – Al-Qadim: Land of Fate – back when they first came out, but never ran the setting. As a fan of the Forgotten Realms, I was put off by the rather high-handed tone the new setting took toward the older one, calling out the cultures of Faerun as backwards and barbaric compared to the civil and cosmopolitan lands of Zakhara.

I reali…

fiction in progress

I'm not sure what this is besides practice for me at writing fiction again after years and years away from it.
I'm sure some people are wondering why I'm not writing some The King is Dead fiction instead of some kind of weird Forgotten Realms fan fiction; the simplest answer is that I'd need to do more expository heavy lifting than I feel comfortable with at this point. (I am so, so out of practice with fiction.)
I'm going to update this page directly as I write more. I've got a wacky idea of maybe sticking in an appendix of character stats or something like that and selling this at the Dungeon Masters Guild -- if the story actually comes together. If I get far enough with it that putting it up for sale seems likely, then I'll probably stop uploading to here.



"Zzar.”

Elonwy looked up, an eyebrow arched in confusion. Tombold stared back at her, a handful of coins in his bloodied hand.

“What the hell is zzar?” she asked, turning back to patting down the hobg…

Observations After a Game of Dungeon World

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I finally played a game of Dungeon World this weekend, and I’m conflicted about my responses.
I had a lot of fun. One of Robin’s old buddies ran the game, and he did a great job of keeping everyone engaged and active. I played a barbarian, so I got to be dumb and hilarious. Everyone had a good time.
EDITED TO ADD: I’m slightly more awake than when I started this post, so let me add some more things I liked about Dungeon World. The lack of a formal initiative or turn system means the action scenes really move with the fluidity of fiction, rather than the stilted (and sometimes inexplicable) fashion of most RPGs. Since classes in Dungeon World do damage based on their class rather than their weapon, it also meant that I could have my barbarian fight by using stunts like head-butting his opponent or throwing it against the wall rather than whipping out my sword for everything. The focus on the fiction also means that otherwise dull choices (like whatever the Help action is called) remain e…

Savage Worlds: The Power of Superstition

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Whether it’s an unscrupulous real estate developer using it to scare the masses or a cloaked vigilante using it to frighten criminals, fear of the supernatural – superstition – plays an important role in many settings where – just like in the real world – the supernatural does not exist. A disguised swamp buggy equipped with a flamethrower convinces the inhabitants of Jamaica that Dr. No’s Crab Key is home to a dragon. Sherlock Holmes quickly deduces that a rash of bloodsucking is merely a distraction from a mundane murder attempt in “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire.” Zorro scares the pants off some lancers by painting a glowing skull on the wall in phosphorous in “Zorro Hunts a Jackal.” Indeed, the “female Gothic” tradition of Ann Radcliffe, Charlotte Brontë, and others usually hinges on the supernatural elements having scientific explanations, the better to show that the true terror is the selfish, morally bankrupt desires of the male antagonists.

While the existence of the fa…

"'Manos' The Hands of Fate" Heroes for Savage Worlds

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For the awful protagonists of "Manos:" The Hands of Fate, I decided to be honest and stat them up as real Savage Worlds Novice characters. In order to preserve their incompetency as much as possible, I had to spread around the skill points quite a bit, and not have them take a full set of Hindrances. I'd be tempted to give them a few more Hindrances from the Horror Companion, but that would ironically only make them more competent, so I didn't.
Now get out there and run the worst one-shot you've ever played!



Margaret Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6 Skills: Driving d6, Fighting d4, Intimidation d4, Investigation d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Repair d4, Stealth d6, Taunt d6 Charisma: +4; Pace: 6; Parry: 4; Toughness: 5 Hindrances: Yellow Edges: Attractive, Danger Sense Gear: a head-scarf? 

Mike
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d8 Skills: Driving d8, Fighting d4, Intimidation d6, Notice d4, Persuasion d4,…