?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Sat, Oct. 21st, 2017, 03:59 pm
Lootcrate Review: October 2017

I'm reviewing (in brief) each month's standard Loot Crate, so I have something I can point friends to when they're curious about whether to sign up. For the record, I'm also a member of Loot Wear Socks, which I think is an absolute must-have for any geeky sock fanatic; I've never felt like I didn't get my full money's worth there, so I'm not going to review them (consider them to consistently score B+ to A+).

Basically each review is going to state what value I feel that I, personally, got out of the box, compared to the $20 cost of it. The dollar amounts are not MSRP, but instead what I'd have been willing to pay for such a thing (or the value I expect to get when I trade it in).

Loot Crate: October 2017

"80s" Ghostbuster T-Shirt: I like what they did with the colors, but I'm not really a big Ghostbusters fan. I'm torn on this one. $8

Stranger Things Diorama: If I were a fan of the show, this would probably be nice, but it's definitely a "fan-only" thing, so I'll trade it in and expect to get about $5.

Thor vs Loki Phatmojo Scene: Adorable! Chibi Thor and Loki fighting over a chibi Asgardian throne! I probably wouldn't buy it on its own, but I'm glad to have it. $10

Buffy TVS "Mr. Pointy" Bookmark: Neat, inexpensive, "filler item" idea -- a laser-cut wooden bookmark that looks like her stake. I like it, but can't give it a super high value. $2

DLC: As far as I can tell, all we get is a "free gift for Marvel Puzzle Quest" that's nothing more than what already comes with MPQ! That's so disingenuous that I'm taking off value: -$2

Vampire Pin: An ugly, generic vampire. Why? $0

Mjolnr Box: Much like last year's "Harley's hammer" box, this one becomes Thor's weapon. I like the idea, but wish the art were better. $2

Total Value: $25 (125%)

Wed, Sep. 20th, 2017, 12:47 pm
Lootcrate Review: September 2017

I'm reviewing (in brief) each month's standard Loot Crate, so I have something I can point friends to when they're curious about whether to sign up. For the record, I'm also a member of Loot Wear Socks, which I think is an absolute must-have for any geeky sock fanatic; I've never felt like I didn't get my full money's worth there, so I'm not going to review them (consider them to consistently score B+ to A+).

Basically each review is going to state what value I feel that I, personally, got out of the box, compared to the $20 cost of it. The dollar amounts are not MSRP, but instead what I'd have been willing to pay for such a thing (or the value I expect to get when I trade it in).

Loot Crate: September 2017

Wallace Corporation T-Shirt: Huh? Oh, it's from Blade Runner. I'm not enough of a fan to know the name of the company. I'll probably re-gift this. $0

Star Trek "Mirror Broken" Comic: The origin of Mirror Universe Data . . . man, that is a really specific origin story. Not something I really wanted, so I think I'll keep this sealed to maximize its trade-in value, which I'm guessing will be $1.

Wooden R2-D2 "IncrediBuild" Kit: Sometimes I feel like I'm the only geek in the world who doesn't like Star Wars. So, more than most crates, it's important that you assess your own value here. For me, it's the trade-in value which I'll peg at $5.

Alien "Queen Takes Bishop" Mini-Fig: A very cute figurine depicting a cool scene. I don't plan on keeping it, but it's definitely something I appreciate. Trade-in estimate of $3.

"Loot Bot" Pin: Surprisingly adorable! I probably wouldn't have bought it on its own, but I'll wear it. $2

DLC: Not working! Supposedly, there's a Ghost in the Shell comic, but it isn't up on the site yet, and no indication of what the other DLC might be. $0

The Box: Cog Crispies: This may seem weird, but I love this box! It's a faux cereal box that may be the greatest gift box ever -- so much detail, from hilarious Nutritional Facts to games on the back. I'm really impressed. $5

Total Value: $16 (80%)

Wed, Sep. 6th, 2017, 07:47 pm
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: The Sorcerer revisited

Antoni Ten Monros' Pyramid 3/82: Magical Creations introduced the sorcerer to GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. It's a great article and well written template, but with the benefit of a few years' hindsight, I have some suggested changes to help maintain game balance. Please note that this is not errata, as nothing in the article is a mistake; think of this post more as clarifications and suggested house rules. In particular, this is how sorcery works in our DF games.

Rituals and FP Cost

Alternative Rituals (Sorcery, p. 7) are in effect. Optionally, the GM may allow the additional rituals from "Super-Sorcery!" (Pyramid 3/105: Cinematic Magic) on a case-by-case basis; note that this is a permanent change to how your character works magic.

However, experience has shown that it can be unbalancing for sorcerers to invoke alternative rituals to cast repeated spells with no FP cost in a fight. Because of that, the following rule is in effect: Every sorcerous spell with no FP cost takes the longer of normal casting time or (1d+1)/2 seconds to cast (round up). Roll for this when beginning to cast; if you don't like the result, you can abort, wasting your action this turn. In most noncombat situations, you can simply ignore this limitation.

Damage Limits

Instead of limiting dice of damage by Sorcery Talent, your limit is 1 + (Sorcerous Empowerment level)/2. Round down. (Exception: If your Sorcery is Limited in any way, round up; this makes focused blasters more viable.) A spell can do up to 1d+1 damage per level and still respect this limit; past that, the GM will need to adjust the limit proportionately.

Sorcery Max Damage Sorcery Max Damage
1 1d (2d*) 7 4d (5d*)
2 2d 8 5d
3 2d (3d*) 9 5d (6d*)
4 3d 10 6d
5 3d (4d*) 11 6d (7d*)
6 4d 12 7d

* If your Sorcerous Empowerment is Limited.

Secret Teleportation Spell

This can't be learned as a normal sorcery spell and should cost the full 100 points. (This might qualify as errata; I need to discuss it with Kromm.)

PK's "Costs Fatigue" House Rule

Per my house rules, Costs Fatigue should be -10%/level instead of -5%. Therefore, the version bundled into the Sorcery power modifier needs to be weakened slightly. As such, all indefinite spells cost 1 FP every 10 minutes instead of every minute.Precis - A few suggested changes to the sorcerer, a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy template from Pyramid 3/82: Magical Creations.

Tue, Aug. 22nd, 2017, 03:33 pm
Loot Crate Review: 2017 August

I'm reviewing (in brief) each month's standard Loot Crate, so I have something I can point friends to when they're curious about whether to sign up. For the record, I'm also a member of Loot Wear Socks, which I think is an absolute must-have for any geeky sock fanatic; I've never felt like I didn't get my full money's worth there, so I'm not going to review them (consider them to consistently score B+ to A+).

Basically each review is going to state what value I feel that I, personally, got out of the box, compared to the $20 cost of it. The dollar amounts are not MSRP, but instead what I'd have been willing to pay for such a thing (or the value I expect to get when I trade it in).

Loot Crate: August 2017

Adventure Time "Nice King" & Gunter Figure: This depicts the Ice King in a rare moment giving love to Gunter. I'm a huge AT fan, so I'm glad to get this, though it isn't a scene I'd have chosen to display. If you loved the scene, double the value. $10

Legend of Zelda "8-Bit Map" Link: This is brilliant. I don't normally include links, but here. Turning the original map into the original Link works so well, and really appeals to my old-school gamer side. $25

Lord of the Rings Color-Changing Cup: I'm surprised by how much I like this. It's so classy and simple, the glass is heavy, and it's tinted with this cool amber oumbre. Frankly, even if the Elven runes didn't change color (white to red), I'd have wanted this. $15

Lord of the Rings Isengard Art Print: I realize that art prints are actually fairly expensive, but I've never understood why; they're just printed pictures on paper. And I found this one kind of dull and lifeless. Obviously, track down a pic before deciding for yourself, but I'm giving this one away. $0

"Loot Crate Coat of Arms" Pin: Cute, if a bit generic. I get where they were going with the "all-pewter" design, but it makes it very hard to see any details. $1

DLC: A skin for the video game Gigantic and an issue of the "Ladycastle" comic. The former isn't useful for me and the latter just wasn't good at all, though at least I now know not to waste my time on the series. $0

The Box: Cardboard Shield: Has a shield you can punch out and decorate yourself. Really basic, but might be fun for kids if I had any. $0

Total Value: $51 (255%)

Sat, Aug. 19th, 2017, 06:47 pm
After the End (Dragon House Campaign)

Precis - Setting info for a new After the End campaign. A world ravaged by cosmic rays, disease, and aliens, oh no!

(Setting info for a new After the End campaign -- a world ravaged by cosmic rays, disease, and aliens! And yes, the aliens here are stolen from the Traveller RPG, though heavily adapted to fit the needs of this setting.)


  • Dallas Briggs: Hulk/Melee Specialist + Hardy (Nick)

  • Edward Calloway: Tech/Inventor + Experienced (Wayon)

  • Karylee Riley: Doc/Medic + Blessed (Rabbit)

  • Lydia Thompson: Scavenger/Looter + Tech/Repairman (Amanda)

  • Michael Hollister: Trooper/Soldier + Trader/Sweet-Talker (Josh)

  • Zoie Elisa Benson: Hunter/Survivor + Learned (Lynne)

Setting

Hazards: Mutants (Cosmic Rays). Disease (Mega-Virus). Aliens; Gangs, though few in number and hated; Paramilitaries (X-Factor).

Primary Cause: Cosmic Rays

A pulsar from a distant galaxy hit Earth. It wiped out all radio/wi-fi and fried most computers and complex electronics. It mutated prions (below) along with the DNA of complex life, though effects of the latter would take a generation to appear. It irradiated certain minerals in specific situations (e.g., under high pressure against a trapped pocket of water) to produce muonic compounds (where an electron in one of the compound’s elements has been replaced by a muon).

Secondary Effect: Mega-Virus

The pulsar radiation mutated prions so that they could survive as microscopic airborne “spores,” which could be inhaled by new subjects. This allowed a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases to spread as quickly as viruses, inflicting everything from Fatal Familial Insomnia to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease on a large portion of the populace. These specific diseases are no longer an issue (everyone alive today descended from an immune survivor), but weaker, mutated strains are.

Secondary Effect: X-Factor

Because muonic compounds are used in ultra-tech “hyperfusion” reactors, a few alien groups have made a living “chasing” pulsars so they can mine these compounds. As a useful side effect, they can often find additional resources and/or make new scientific discoveries from the indigenous flora and fauna. At least three alien species are known to currently inhabit Earth: the K’kree (“Centaurs”), warmongering six-limbed bovines who detest any race that, like humanity, kills other beings for food; the Fteirle (“Aslan”), humanoids who vaguely resemble lions and seem to have a wide range of motivations; and the Droyne (“Chirpers”), small, winged, humanoid lizards who tend to keep to themselves and exhibit hive-mind traits. (All three have variant DNA and are thus immune to Earth diseases.) In addition to these aliens, the Vargr (“Canids”) have become a presence on Earth; these are semi-upright, barely sapient, mutated wolves whose evolution was almost certainly accelerated via alien interference, though it is unknown which alien species is responsible.

Technology and Timing

The End came at some point in the mid-21st century (early TL9). That was about three generations ago. The aliens have demonstrated TL10^ tech, with the occasional experimental TL11^ gizmo. Most of their gear is designed to self-destruct if used by a member of any other species (or, in some cases, anyone who isn’t an authorized user). Some hardened computers survived, and new computers have been created, but they’re rare outside of alien enclaves.

Campaign Scope

The PCs are based in Drumlin, a walled settlement of about 800 people in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. (Its specific location is unspecified, to avoid becoming slaves to Google Maps.) The mayor, Carmella Hahn, manages to keep the populace in line through a combination of charm, good sense, and strict laws. The Drumlin militia, headed by Captain Jerome Flannery, help to keep the town safe.

Sat, Aug. 12th, 2017, 09:45 pm
Rifts 8/12/17

(I'm posting this summary for a player who missed the game. Sorry about the lack of context for anyone else reading it!)

Xavier had gotten a good look at the 1st and 3rd floors, and a quick glance at the heavily guarded 2nd floor. Given his recommendation, along with Lee who found an air-vehicle hangar on the roof, the team decided to enter from the top. Rugby headed out of town to provide a long-range "shell the ziggurat" distraction if they were made. Akira cast True Invisibility and Exalted Conceal Arcana on everyone in the group (for -6 to further Spellcasting rolls!) and amazingly, they were able to fly in on Tiamat without being detected and land (poorly) on the roof.

Xaver opened the hangar roof and Lee took out the guard within. They found a TK Flyer (a mid-sized ornithopter TW vehicle), a closet full of parts (which they loaded into the flyer, with plans to steal it), and a cool astronomical observatory room that Lee rigged to blow up. They headed down to the 2nd floor and were taken aback by the number of guards there, so Ellie teleported everyone directly into what they thought was the main experiment room. It was, but the room also had magic-analyzing runes that alerted the four occupants -- Sir Aloysius Velde, another mystic knight, and two necromancers -- to the teleportation, and they used Exalted Detect Arcana to see the party. A fight ensued in which the party won, using relatively quiet attacks, so while Tiamat held the door, Lee (who'd recorded Sir Velde's voice) was able to impersonate Velde enough to keep the outer guards from entering.

The group looted the bodies and also found a Lightning Rod and Iceblast Shotgun in a supply closet. Then Akira and Xavier double-teamed the arcane lock and got into the deeper ritual room, which had one guard (knocked out by Ellie), a few vampires strapped to upright tables, a bunch of alchemical reagents, and a TW computer mainframe. Akira and Xavier double-teamed the computer to get key info, including how the ritual worked (short version: dose vamp with alchemy, necromancer channels PPE for a ritual, mystic knight rechannels the PPE into the vamp, both now have partial control over the vamp . . . in theory), and that at best they've been able to hold control for a few days, but not reliably.

The team strapped a bag of key reagents to Tiamat, rigged the rest to blow up, and teleported first to the library (where they stole a bunch of books, and Lee rigged yet another grenade to blow) and then to the hangar to steal the TK Flyer (and, yes, rig another freaking grenade trap). With some psychic and magical help from Tiamat, Xavier was able to fly out without attracting attention, and amazingly Akira had kept up both True Invisibility and Exalted Conceal Arcana the entire time, which let the group get away and rendezvous with Rugby.

Fri, Jul. 21st, 2017, 01:33 pm
Loot Crate Review: 2017 July

I'm reviewing (in brief) each month's Lootcrate (standard), so I have something I can point friends to when they're curious about whether to sign up. For the record, I'm also a member of Lootcrate Socks, which I think is an absolute must-have for any geeky sock fanatic; I've never felt like I didn't get my full money's worth there, so I'm not going to review them (consider them to consistently score B+ to A+).

Basically each review is going to state what value I feel that I, personally, got out of the box, compared to the $20 cost of it. The dollar amounts are not MSRP, but instead what I'd have been willing to pay for such a thing (or the value I expect to get when I trade it in).

Loot Crate: July 2017

TMNT Van Classic T-Shirt: Retro and simple in a good way, and I like that the dark-green color both fits the concept and is an uncommon T-shirt color; I have too many black shirts and white shirts already. $20

Bob's Burger of the Day: A box set of recipe cards from the show? Oh hell yes, sign me up! As both a foodie and fan of the show, I rate this very highly; if you're neither, knock it down a few pegs. $15

Futurama "Slurm" Coozies: Does anyone actually use coozies? They seem to exist as just a promotional item. As coozies go, these are cute, though. $2

Rick Sanchez "Peace Among Worlds" Figure: Okay, a custom fig of Rick giving the double-bird is hilarious. I'm only a mild fan of the show; if you're a superfan, you're probably willing to murder for this. $10

Gene Burger Suit Pin + DLC: Like I said, huge fan of Bob's Burgers, so I would've actually bought this pin. I'll actually use the DLC (bonus items for Animation Throwdown), as that game is a decent timewaster, but I wouldn't have paid for it. $3

The Box: Bob's Burger Board Display: As with most LC boxes, this makes a great gift box, but it has a double-use as a (pre-scored) display for the Burger of the Day recipe cards, for when you're cooking with them. Great idea! $3

Total Value: $53 (265%)

Fri, Jul. 14th, 2017, 12:08 am
A Socratic Dialogue on Humor and Self-Awareness

This is an excerpt from one of my favorite rants of all time, by the Grand Clavister, with one minor edit to keep the focus on the most intriguing part: the idea that humor is the best metric by which we can measure self-awareness, intelligence, and cultural evolution. You can find the original, full version (which focuses more on religion and the Church of the SubGenius specifically) here; I wanted to make this particular excerpt handy so I can refer to it easily.
Read more...Collapse )

Tue, Jun. 27th, 2017, 02:54 am
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: New martial artist power-up Talents

Precis - New Talents to help martial artists boost their esoteric skills based on attributes other than DX.
While GURPS Dungeon Fantasy's Chi Talent is a powerful advantage -- and a bargain! -- it does make it harder to create a focused martial artist. In addition, the gulf between a martial artist's DX and all of his other attributes/characteristics is so wide that it makes it very difficult to excel at (e.g.) IQ-based Chi Mastery skills without feeling like you'd be better off just focusing on the DX-based ones. That's why I've created the following Talents, which are available for martial artists only. I made sure they were evenly balanced between IQ, HT, Will, and Per, since anyone who wants to focus on just one has a simpler way to do so (just buy that attribute/characteristic up).


Focused Chi Talents
5 points/level

Martial artists may use these Talents to improve their Chi Mastery skills. However, do not take all three, as you are better off simply spending those 15 points/level on Chi Talent. In fact, a martial artist may always pay the difference to convert a level of one or two focused Talents to full Chi Mastery. With GM permission, a starting martial artist may trade in one or both levels of Chi Talent for an equivalent number of character points spent on these Talents.

These Talents do not provide a reaction bonus. However, every full three levels of these Talents (whether in one Talent or multiple) give +1 on all rolls to use Chi Mastery abilities and count as a level of Chi Talent for the purpose of meeting prerequisites.

Your Chi Talent level plus your level in any one of these Talents cannot exceed the campaign's limit on Chi Talent (usually 6). For example, if you have Chi Talent 4, you could take at most two levels of any of these Talents. The GM may allow exceptions to this rule.

Path of Insight

You have an almost supernatural awareness of the connection between the body and the mind. Add its level to Autohypnosis, Breath Control, Precognitive Parry*, Pressure Points, Pressure Secrets, and Sensitivity*.

Path of Life Force

You are adept at channeling your inner strength to powerful effect, from hostility to healing. Add its level to Breaking Blow, Esoteric Medicine (Chi), Flying Leap, Kiai, Power Blow, and Zen Archery.

Path of Mist

You slip away from both the perceptions and attacks of others, a silent threat in the darkness. Add its level to Body Control, Blind Fighting, Hypnotic Hands*, Invisibility Art, Mental Strength, and Mind Block.

* From GURPS Martial Arts, if you allow martial artists to take skills from that book.

Wed, Jun. 21st, 2017, 02:07 pm
Loot Crate Review: 2017 June

I've decided to start reviewing (in brief) each month's Lootcrate (standard), so I have something I can point friends to when they're curious about whether to sign up. For the record, I'm also a member of Lootcrate Socks, which I think is an absolute must-have for any geeky sock fanatic; I've never felt like I didn't get my full money's worth there, so I'm not going to review them (consider them to consistently score B+ to A+).

Basically each review is going to state what value I feel that I, personally, got out of the box, compared to the $20 cost of it. The dollar amounts are not MSRP, but instead what I'd have been willing to pay for such a thing (or the value I expect to get when I trade it in).

Loot Crate: June 2017

B&W Spider-Man Q-Fig: A variant of this figure, but with a web instead of a camera and in black-and-white, ostensibly as an homage to the Daily Bugle's front-page covers. Trouble is, Spider-Man has always been a vibrant, colorful character. Even his black suit was bold and full of contrast. This figure is just gray on gray on black on gray. I'll be trading this one in at McKay's, so the value is what I expect to get from doing so. $5

"Transforming" Optimus Prime Classic T-Shirt: There are a lot of retro Optimus Prime shirts out there, but most just show his two modes as static poses. This dynamic scene of him transforming is really cool. I'm a sucker for good (non-Bay) Transformers stuff! $20

Hulk-Hand Cereal Bowl: No. It's just a small green bowl with screen-printed fingers around the sides. Seen on its own, you'd be hard pressed to realize at first that it was supposed to be the Hulk. This is a dollar-store quality bowl, so I guess it's worth something? $1

DC New 52 Mini-Poster Book: A very cool collection of the best posters from DC's New 52 series, either to enjoy as an undersized "coffee table" book or to tear out and hang up. The only downside to the latter is that you can obviously only hang 20 up, because they're double-sided. I plan to make a 4x5 mosaic of my favorites and hang it somewhere as a big poster. $10

Jekyll and Hyde Pin + DLC: The pin is attractive, representing the original character rather than one of the recent remakes. I have no use for the DLC (a new character for the Power Rangers mobile game). $2

The Box: Cardboard Optimus Prime: I love that each Lootcrate box is usually useful and cool in its own right, usually because you flip it inside out and use it as a gift box. This month's box took some work though, with a cut-and-assemble Optimus Prime in truck mode! Since I have a Transformers display already, this is a nice addition. Note that the value here is what I'd pay for a kit like this in a store, as a fan. $3

Total Value: $41 (205%)

10 most recent