Thursday, April 18, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 18

Day 18: What are some underlying messages in your work?

Witches are cool. Haunted houses are awful places in my world.

I suppose the underlying message I want to convey is that as long as everyone is having fun (and no one feels hurt or left out) then it's all good fun.

There is no wrong way to play.

Also, let people enjoy the things they love.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Magic School: Idle Thoughts

Been busy this week.  I am part of a team that is building a new Masters of Social Work program.  It is great because this time I am NOT in charge of it, one of my really qualified co-workers is heading it up and I am really looking forward to working with him in his "Senior" role.  We are the same level so this is a nice switch and will give me some freedom to work creatively at a more "on the ground" level.  Last time our roles were reversed and he got to do the cool fun stuff while I had to mind all the details!
Remember, the reward for hard work is more hard work.

I was in my home office yesterday and two minutes before our video conference meeting started I noticed that my notebook was still out in my car.  So I grabbed the closest thing, my son's D&D notebook.  While sitting through the meeting I keep a set of parallel notes on D&D-ish social work program.  If is SOOO half baked right now and may never, ever see the light of day. But I was amused.

But it got me thinking on larger Magic School ideas and how they tie into my desire of "Back to Basics" this year.

Bruce Heard is over at his blog and online quietly building all sorts of great stuff for his Calidar world. Recently his big project is one I am REALLY dying for; Calidar On the Wings of Darkness. This product will include his magic school for his country of wizards.  Bruce gave us much of what we know about the Great School of Magic located in Glantri City.  If that work is any clue, add 32 more years of game development and writing and that gives me a hint of what we might see in On the Wings of Darkness.

His latest post also helps me figure out which flavor of Basic I am planning to use.  While my great love is B/X Molday/Cook/Marsh D&D, a strong  case has been made for BECMI flavor of Basic.  Plus I have my snazzy new Rules Cyclopedia thanks to POD so this is a good thing for me.
I just like the idea of crazy Magic School hijinks using the Basic rules.

Speaking of the Great School of Magic.  A new-to-me blog, the Breath of Mystara, pointed out a great resource to me, a 555 page PDF on the Great School of Magic.

Seriously that is a lot of material.

Another interesting bit that came up for me yesterday was this fun little character creator for making your own Hogwarts student.
https://www.deviantart.com/hapuriainen/art/Hogwarts-student-maker-302435099

For fun, I did one of me and my iconic witch Larina.  This would have been back when she had brown eyes and her hair was a bit darker.



For my magic school, I have not thought of "houses" really. but think about how important they are to the Harry Potter world and fandom.  EVERYONE has a house they think they belong to.   In my mind, I was more focused on the "Colleges" which is what we did in actual college/university and grad school.

I have also been following Dave Chapman's discussions on a Harry Potter RPG (hypothetical RPG that is) and taking a lot of his advice to heart.

Now I need to work more on my idea of "High Witchcraft", but more on that later.

April TTRPG Maker, Day 17

Day 17: How Does Your Identity Influence Your Work?

This is related to yesterday's post.  But let's break it down into how I see myself.

I am an aging Gen Xer
Not a Baby Boomer (thank you!) and not a Millenial.  I grew up on a diet of MTV, horror movies on basic cable and later on VHS.  I learned to program a computer to get the software I needed (no aps or stores yet).  So I have learned to make do with what I had available and then create the rest.
My books are often the games or supplements I wanted to play in the 80s but no one had written.
So I also have a preference for some older games. I am not saying they are better (and if you spend anytime here you will know I play and love a lot of new games) I just find them fun. I like them.

I am a Midwesterner
I grew up in the mid-West.  My high school was in the middle of two corn fields. We lived through the Satanic Panic of the 80s so "of course" everyone knew of someone that knew someone that saw a Satanic altar.   I got the see the power behind a social movement early on and in your face full color.
This also affects my next bit of identity.

I am an Atheist and Skeptic
I grew up as an Atheist in a town whose claim to fame is the number of churches they have.  Look I love writing about ghosts, witches, magic, and gods. I just don't believe in any of it in real life.  None. In a very significant way, my early explorations into RPGs (D&D in particular) and mythology was a way of dealing with being the only kid in school* who didn't believe in fairy tales.  * I have since learned through the wonder of social media that I was not the only one they were just as afraid as I was to say anything.

I am a Father
Becoming a husband and father is one of my greatest achievements in life.   Yes, I have had plenty of other really great achievements; my education, my degrees, my books.  But being a dad.  Nothing ever comes close to that.  I write games I want my kids to also enjoy.  I want worlds that they would want to play in.

I am sure there is more.  I used to have a professor that said culture is like a tackle box that someone shook up.  It is very difficult to pull out one thing or separate one from the other.  I think that is true here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 16

Day 16: How does your environment inform your work?

I have talked about this one before.

I grew up in the midwest in the 70s and 80s.  My "adventures" were often road trips. My backgrounds included a love of horror movies, a mother who knew some of the most blood-chilling stories I have ever heard, and a fascination for mythology and the occult.

It was a heady brew that only the alchemy of the 70s and 80s could produce. 

In my books, I want to recapture the feel of finding some lost occult tome of the 70s.  Something a little subversive, a little dangerous and a little outside of the reach of the normal people out there.

Hammer Horror + Occult 70s + NWoBHM from the 80s gives you the environment I grew up in and what informs all my RPG creations.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Ghūl and Ghūla

This was inspired by some recent readings and thought it would be fun to try out.  More Basic D&D fun!

Ghoul, Demonic (Ghūl)
Armor Class:  4
Hit Dice (HD): 5d8+7 (29hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claw, 1 bite, + Paralysis and Ghoul Fever
Damage: 1d4, 1d4, 1d6
Special Attacks & Defenses: Ghoul fever, paralysis (2d6 turns), shapeshift, undead
Move: 90’ (30’)
No. Appearing: 1d2 (1d3)
Save As: Fighter 5
Morale: 10
Treasure Type:  B, C
The demonic ghoul also called a ghūl or ghūla, is a much more dangerous version of the ghoul and ghast. This creature appears to be more monstrous than the common ghoul, though there still plenty of similarities to attest to their relationship. Demonic ghouls are believed to be corpses with a demonic spirit inhabiting their body. Similar in a way to vampires.
The demonic ghoul has the hindquarters of a donkey, sans tail, and sometimes the horns of a goat.  They have the same ability to paralyze others, including elves, and are given away by their stench.
Where ghouls and ghasts feed on corpses, the demonic ghoul is not above providing their own corpses by hunting and killing humanoids.  They are also known to eat living children.
The demonic ghoul can also shapeshift into hyenas and can assume the form of the last person they devoured.
The female demonic ghoul, the ghūla, can also pass as a living human woman. It is said they will lure prey back to her lair to seduce and then feed on them.  Children born to these women are still-born but will grow up to become ghouls on their own. 
Demonic Ghouls are undead and turn as Mummies.
Ghoul Fever is a disease caused by the bite of demonic ghouls.  The victim must make a save vs. Poison or become infected. One full day after this failed save the victim loosed 1d3 Constitution and 1d3 Dexterity points.  At this point, they must make two consecutive saves vs. Death to survive.  A fail on one save adds one more day to the disease and another loss of points. Two fails results in death.
A humanoid who dies of ghoul fever rises as a ghoul at the next midnight. A humanoid who becomes a ghoul in this way retains none of the abilities it possessed in life. It is not under the control of any other ghouls, but it hungers for the flesh of the living and behaves like a normal ghoul in all respects. A humanoid of 4 Hit Dice or more rises as a ghast.
Ghoul fever is also present in 10% of all ghouls and 25% of all ghasts.

April TTRPG Maker, Day 15

Day 15: Favorite Tropes to Subvert?

Halfway there!

Favorite Tropes to Subvert?  ALL OF THEM!

But seriously, a few come to mind.

You will never, ever see a "Women in Refrigerators" situation in one of my games.  No woman will ever be killed to forward a male character's arc. Never. 

You will never, ever see rape as a means of helping to build up a character as via a Rape-and-Revenge arc. As in when you take a character down to their lowest levels so they can be built back up into something more powerful.  I guess the trope could be called the "I Spit on Your Grave" trope.

Most of all you will never, ever see a "Bury Your Gays" or a "Dead/Evil Lesbian cliché" in anything I publish. Ever.

"But", you may ask "what if the story calls for it?"
Sorry, but no. Time to write a new fucking story then.

"But aren't you giving 'special treatment' to a certain group?"
No. And also fuck you, go write your own fucking games and don't buy mine if that is what you think.

These are my lines in the sand.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 14

Day 14: Are Your Game Mechanics and Characters Intersectional?

My mechanics are math which is about as non-intersectional as you can be. Math is math.

Again, not to sounds like a broken record, I go back to my key philosophic design foundation; Is it fun?  Everything else flows from that.

Now to be fair.  I DID write The Witch: Aiséiligh Tradition AS I thought a radical feminist witch group would look like in a D&D/Fantasy world. 

Here I did play with concepts of power and gender as they related to the archetype of the witch.  I based it on the "Reclaiming Tradition" in modern Wicca who have decided that they need to reclaim the name "witch" and make it their own positive label.

The Aiséiligh are in a very real sense my Social Justice Witch class.  Lawful, Good, and sick your patriarchal shit.

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