Monday, November 29, 2004

Beware the Communist, Children! (also beware the communist children, they bite)

It was Warren Ellis who directed me to this

And it's true, children! Beware! The Red Pinko Communist is a wiley foe, for he does not fear death! He does not believe in God and thus does not think he will be condemned to Hell for his crimes! He wishes to subvert your good, honest, American way of life by offering to give equal rights to all! God forbid that one man should be equal to his neighbour! By god, his great-grandfather's slaves worked to make him as wealthy as he is now, and look at that filthy immigrant Irishman beside him, who works hard but is held back by a glass ceiling! Why, that was the way the world was MEANT to run!

And remember, children, that J. Edgar Hoover, who has never worn women's underwear in his life, says that Communism is the greatest threat to the world he can imagine! And if J. Edgar Hoover says it, it MUST be true!

This message brought to you by the American anti-Socialist Society Hopefully Opposing Latent Emmigration of Socialists (ASSHOLES). This message does not reflect the views of Bard, this blog, or anyone associated with it. Beware the Communist, Children! is a Degenerate Dilletante production.

Tonight's Mage LARP

Tonight's game was GREAT. My character was really useful, and is becoming the information hub of the Traditions of Toronto thanks to being...well frankly thanks to being the only person who pays attention to the media and knows how to use a computer. I acted as the computer-reading-brain-medium-guy for Genesis, a Virtual Adept who was an Awakened computer program who lost his original host body. It was fun.

Then we found out that an important mystical object owned by the local Nephandus was at a bank. Since tonight was the big attack on him, we wanted to get it to see if we could weaken him. There were problems:
1) The people sent to do this were my PC (7r4d3m4rk, Virtual adept media hacker), Genesis (being mediumshipped through me), Greg (Hermetic who apparently is the reincarnation of Hercules or something), and Elizabeth (Ecastic, very jumpy). None of us had any useful Spheres, or knew anything about crime.
2) THe bank had Technocratic guards and security systems.

What ended up happening went something like this:
7r4d3m4rk (from here on in being referred to as "I" or "me") and Elizabeth, with Genesis piggybacking my Correspondence spell, scryed into the bank. At that point an armoured car pulled up outside and started loading and unloading stuff. Then we tried to come up with a plan. Greg used his Truck'o'Many-Things to provide me with a used coffee cup, and assuming a hunch and some bruises I then acted like a homeless man. Using the fact that people are programmed to ignore the homeless, I used a Mind 2 effect to convince the armoured car and security people I was harmless. Meanwhile, Genesis hacked the security system to distract them. I tried to sneak into the bank while they were distracted, but failed and was slammed against a wall with a gun to my head. Genesis hacked the system further to make the guy monitoring the security cameras think the guard had shot me. His horrified "BOb, what the hell are you doing?!?" was used by me as a focus for Mind 2 to make him dreadfully afraid of his gun. Then I ran away.

Meanwhile, with the HUGE distraction, Greg snuck into the bank. He fought some people, killed one, and was nearly killed by another. At that point, the bank doors opened, and there stood I, Elizabeth, and two of our Chantrymates who had just arrived: Quinn, our deacon, and Jake, The New Guy (well, new the chantry). So, through a mixture of Jake, Quinn, and myself, with some informational help from Genesis, we managed to convince the security people (all of whom turned out to be Technocratic agents) that we were higher ranking Technocrats than they were. Then we proceeded to get the badly injured Greg out and get what we'd come for.

The funny thing was, the whole attack was a series of fuck-ups after fuck-ups, but all the fuck-ups ended up helping us out. When I sent a frenzied radio call to the armoured car crew telling them that there was a spree of armoured car hijackings in their area, and then blanked out their radio signals after that, it only added to convicing the Technocrats that this was all just a drill...and that they'd passed, and the armoured car people had failed.

Later on in the evening, we went for the final big assault on the Nephandus. This contained two amusing points:
1) Genesis, who has been trying to assimilate people into a weird neural link to further his quest for Ascension, assimilated me. Then fifteen minutes later was promptly annihilated by the one Werewolf PC in the game (he was the only survivor of the previous Werewolf LARP in Toronto), thus freeing me. I never even fully understood the ramifications of what had happened.
2) We found out that the weird warded house that the Nephandus lived in worked on horror movie physics. To optomize our work there, I proceeded to use my great knowledge of the media to slip into the framework of the movie. First, I used Time scrying to ask the question "What sort of horror movie physics are we using that would be nessecary to destroy the house?", and used Forces 2 to make myself invisible by saying "I'm the geek, the geek always survives because the monsters ignore him". it worked...I only took a single point of lethal damage.

Overall, it was a really good game. There are only two more to go before the game ends, so I think things are just going to keep getting better. Huzzah.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Green Lantern thought stuff

Among other things tonight, I think I have thought up a concept for a GL Elseworlds that I shall attempt to script.

I also give these three Green Lantern oaths. The oath does not have to be sworn when the lantern is recharging the ring, but they often are so the wielder can reaffirm his or her beliefs in the corps and their duties.

There is the classic Hal Jordan:

"In brightest day,
In blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil's might
Beware my power
Green Lantern's light."

There's the lightless:

"In loudest din or hush profound,
my ears catch evil's slightest sound.
Let those who toll out evil's knell,
beware my power:
The F-Sharp Bell!"

And there's the slightly fuzzy and romantic:

"The cosmos through,
in every part,
one thing endures:
a loving heart.
Against the knaves,
who'd quell this song,
Green Lanterns stand,
to right the wrong!"

I am apparently Linus

Linus Van Pelt inspired the term "security
blanket" with his classic pose. He is the
intellectual of the gang, and flabbergasts his
friends with his philosophical revelations and
solutions to problems. He suffers abuse from
his big sister, Lucy, and the unwanted
attentions of Charlie Brown's little sister,
Sally. He is a paradox: despite his age, he can
put life into perspective while sucking his
thumb. He knows the true meaning of Christmas
while continuing to believe in the Great

Which Peanuts character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

My thanks and amusement to JasonK for pointing me at this one. I don't take many online quizzes. I took one to see which Batman villain I was, and apparently I'm the Joker. I took one to see which country I am, and apparnetly I'm Canada (on the State quiz I think I was either Rhode Island or Washington, can't remember).

Saturday, November 27, 2004

"...and when everyone's super, then NOONE will be"

It occurs to me that in The Incredibles, Syndrome was downplaying himself a lot. He really WAS a Super all along. He just was too busy looking at the people who had big physical powers to realize what he had himself. He invented rocket boots when he was...what? 12 years old? He invented his own super suit and powers. He could have been one of the great heroes, but instead he fell into a spiral of only seeing his physical weaknesses and forgetting the greater powers he posessed within his rather bulbulous head.

Furthermore, Syndrome evidences a sort of democratic sentiment towards superpowers, at least in the Athenian sense. If you see the "natural" Supers as the oligarchic elite of superheroing, then Syndrome acts as a major democratic threat. One of the big threats that the character poses is the fact that he intends to make superpowers availible to everyone, essentially extending the franchise of superhumanity to the "rabble", the people who's place it was to be saved rather than to do the saving.

What this means is that, while not exactly villifying Mister Incredible and friends, it puts a new take on the very idea of being a superhero. Is it only the powers that make the hero? If so, why? Oligarchies always need a specific class to extend oligarchic rights to, most often based on wealth, land, or birth. If you consider the Supers' "wealth" to be in power, and the fact that their powers seem to be genetic, then superheroism and supervillainy is a family matter, and while it may be very wide, it is essentially a closed franchise.

The threat that Syndrome reprsents, thus, is the idea of breaking the franchise, breaking the oligarchic group of superhumanity. He is the Everyman who has made himself super; the novus homo, as the Romans might say. He then wishes to bring this to others, so that people can then choose what to do with powers. They can choose whether or not to have powers, and what they will do with the powers that they then have. In the end, this means that the old Supers who naturally had powers are relegated to the same level of society as everyone else. Rathern than being special or unique, they are just ordinary.

And people don't WANT to be ordinary. They want to be unique. And thus Syndrome's vision of the future is a real fear for the Supers who have always seen themselves as special by defining themselves as special and non-powered people as "normal".

However, while Syndrome envisions a more uniform future, a true democracy where no one can be unique because EVERYONE is "unique", perhaps his future would end up more like Top Ten. Perhaps the "Syndrome Future" would unlock the possibility for other people to be super gadgeteers and thus take their own unique takes on the gadgets that empower them, especially if there are people just like him: gadgeteer supers who have always been cowed into thinking of themselves as normal because of the more amazing physical powers of their more potent Super cohorts.

Not really sure where to go with this. More later. Now, off to finish running the season finale of my Buffy: The Vampire Slayer Role Playing Game series Maggie: The Vampire Slayer.

Comics and Superhero Thoughts

For those of you not familiar with Kurt Busiek's Superman: Secret Identity Elseworlds, I must urge you to immediatly purchase the TPB that compiled the four book series. The basic premise is that the Kents of Petersville, Kansas (IIRC the town name) have a son, and decide that it would be cool to name him Clark. Clark Kent gets all manner of shit heaped on him for being named after the single most popular fictional superhero of the 20th century. He starts off viewing his name as a curse, but when he finds himself floating thirty feet off the ground one night while camping in the woods, his view of things change. Gifted with the powers of Superman, Clark is forced to question his own origins, his purpose on Earth, and his place in the world. It isolates that quality of "uniqueness" that all teens feel set them apart, and magnifies it. And that's only in the first book.

With a narrative presented in the form of type written journal entries, Secret Identity provides a fantastic view of a man struggling to cope with life, love, a terrible name, and the superpowers associated with his namesake. Later on he deals with parent hood, and at the very end the emergence of other superhumans.

It is a fantastic book, filled with Busiek's unique, believable style of writing that made Astro City such a treat. There are no super fights here. It's about one man trying to find his place in the world.

It has become my essential resource for pointing to what the pinnacle of comic writing can be. I look at different takes on popular characters as reintepreted through different universes. Ellis' "The High" from StormWatch, Busiek's "Samaritan" from Astro City, Omni-Man from Kirman's Invincible, Strazincki's "Flagg" in Rising Stars, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Everyone does a different take on Superman, and yet in every case comes out using the model of Clark Kent to show a different world.

Superman is iconic. That's a given fact. But perhaps its not the cape or the tights, the journalism gig or the stupid glasses. The powers are the classic mythic attributes given to the gods: the strength of one hundred men, the ability to walk away from even the greatest battle without injury, the powers of flight and uncanny perceptions. And its the duty that goes along with them. Like the gods, Superman and those like him are motivated because being greater than human, to them, isn't just a state of being; its a way of life. While we may hold policemen, politicians, and doctors to a higher moral standard because of their jobs, superheroes hold themselves to a higher moral standard, I think, because if you are beyond humanity you either look at things in one of two ways: you are beyond human morals to the point where none apply, or you must exemplify and go beyond human morals so that all apply.

I suppose I'm rambling now...its 3am, so sue me. But there seems to be an implicit duty in gaining superpowers in the comics. Perhaps its simply a plot conceit, but look at things differently when you can fly, or lift tanks, or move faster than the eye can see. Whether its something you like or not, it affects you deeper than just the physical. For already moral individuals, the power brings a heightened sense of their own morality. Temptation of the human variety becomes temptation of the superhuman variety, and perhaps it is in resisting the temptation to do so much evil that results in the reason for superheroes to do so much good.

And on the flip side, those without morals before they gained powers have no moral compass to guide them afterwards. If they couldn't resist the temptation to steal, or rape, or murder before, then they are less likley to be able to resist the temptation to do those things on a greater scale when they become greater beings. Or perhaps some become acutely aware of their immorality when faced with the temptation of super powers, and find the moral compass and guidance they lacked.

...and dear god, I think I just came up with the foundations for a religion there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I'm not American, but...

Tomorrow is Turkey Day in America. As Tycho over at Penny Arcade commented, Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays where the focus is on the animal being eaten rather than gods or whatever. Christmas is about presents, it's a sad capitalist fact. But Thanksgiving is about eating turkies. Lots of turkies. And very possibly putting them in your co-worker's offices (...or at least, directing them there, as in the 2nd season episode "Shibboleth" of The West Wing).

In memory of all the turkies that are about to be eaten, very possibly with stuffing, very hopefully with gravy, and unfortunatly with cranberry sauce, I now present to you:

Turkey: The Feasting

Turkey: The Feasting is yet another a simple, diceless game about slacker college students trying to put together a Thanksgiving dinner with no time to spare. All tests are resolved with a simple "rock-paper-scissors" challenge (best two out of three if you tie, unless your Major would change this [see below]). The objective of the game is to compete with other slacker college students who want the last couple turkies for THEIR Thanksgiving dinner, the guy at the beer store who refuses to believe you're 21, and trying to beat up your room mate for the drum stick.

The theme of Turkey is hunger. You are hungry. You want food now. Preferably with gravy on it, and hopefully not burnt to a crisp or frozen raw. This means that you may have to work for it. That is unfortunate.

The mood of Turkey is sturborn slackerness. No one wants to get the turkey. But once they get assigned to it damned if they're going to let that bird get away. The other mood of Turkey is humor. You want to be the only person who's not doing anything, so you can drink beer, watch football, and maybe find a live turkey to throw in someone's closet.

There are four main traits in Turkey. They will fluctuate as the game goes on.
-Slack. Slack represents just how much you've been able to get away with. You can spend six Slack to make the opposing team lose a point of Turkey. If you go over ten Slack, at all, even by one point, your buddies throw you out of the house and you get to call Mom and Dad from a pay phone and beg to come home, even if you have to apologize to Aunt Ruth for funneling beer into her cat, Fluffy, last Christmas. You can spend Slack to try and convince other people to do stuff for you. Slack opposes Duty.
-Duty. Duty measures how much you're welling to do and go out of your way to do to make this work. If you spent five hours and fifty bucks at a fake ID place to make SURE that you could get beer for your buddies just for this special occasion, you get Duty. If you pocket half the turkey money to buy the last few issues of Hustler that you missed, you lose Duty. You can spend five points of Duty to gain a point of Turkey. Duty opposes Slack.
-Hunger. Hunger is the enemy. When you gain Slack or Duty, you also gain Hunger. If you get to five Hunger, you lose the game because you passed out on the couch and no one noticed. Hopefully someone finds you after dinner and nurses you back to health with some pumpkin pie. But then again, maybe not. You lose Hunger whenever you eat something, but since eating something brings you to the attention of your friends, you lose Slack. Also, since you're a starving college student who has no money, if you want to eat you also could lose a point of Duty instead because you stole some turkey money to get food.
-Turkey. Turkey measures how far along you and your team is on getting the meal done. You can cash in five points of Duty for a point of Turkey. You can cash in six points of Slack to make the opposing team lose a point of Turkey (as you go over and bug them and slack with them). You need 10 points of Turkey (or just more than your opponents) to win.

Teamwork (aka "Character Generation")
The players pair off into two to four teams. They will all compete against one another. One player can decide to play an entire team, in which case each controls three students. Each student needs a one word first name, last name, or nick name (so Mike, Blackwell, or Big Ears all perfectly suitable ways to name someone who's full name is Mike "Big Ears" Blackwell). Each student gets a Major, a Turkey Job (shopper, beer buyer, cooker, cleaner, or driver, note that teams don't need all five), a favourite beer (pick a brand), a favourite football team (pick one), a meat preference (Light or Dark), a sauce preference (Gravy or Cranberry, though some perverse people use breadsauce), a favourite 'tater (mashed taters, roast taters, baked taters, boiled taters, etc.), and a favourite veggie (the poor sod that takes "brussel sprouts" is a sad man indeed).

If your Major is in English, History (of any sort), Philosophy, Geography, Languages or Religion then you're an Artsy and are good for talking out of their ass and being artistic. If your Major is Science (of any sort), then you're a Geek, and win on all ties when it comes to being smart. If your Major is Engineering, you are called an Engineer, you suck, and you win on all ties involving pranks and being a ponce. If your Major is Nursing, then, congradulations, you're a Nurse, and win on any ties to make sure that people don't die (and also for talking your way out of getting beaten up when you suggest that deep frying a frozen turkey might not be smart).

Scrawl all this down on a piece of paper.

The Six Degrees of Turkey
There are six primary steps for a winning team. First off, the GM sets some prices and how much money each team has. They have to stay inside their price range, unless someone wants to take Negative Slack by calling Mom (at the GM's discretion).
1) Buying the Bird
It's the day before Thanksgiving. There won't be enough birds for everyone. The GM should throw in a couple NPC teams just to make things amusing. You'll have to sneak, steal, bargain, beat, and buy your way to finding an edible bird.
*Finding and buying a bird awards two points of Turkey.
*Hunting down the turkey awards one Hunger to everyone involved. The person who fights for the bird the most takes another point of Hunger.
2) Beer Barter
Thanksgiving is nothing without beer. Argue with your friends about what brands to get, and how much. Try to convinc the guys at the counter you're really 21. And fight with everyone else to try and get the last case of whatever beers you like.
*Succesfully getting the beer nets you one point of Turkey.
*Beer Barter awards one Hunger to everyone involved.
3) Taking Out the Turkey
The next step is defrosting the turkey enough to cook it. Here's where things get fun. People can gain Duty (jumping in a hot bath with a cold turkey), and Slack (strapping the turkey to the hood of your Chevy and driving home) by finding creative ways to bring the bird to an edible temperature. Remember, you've got less than a day till dinner time.
*Succesfully defrosting the bird in a clever way awards a point of Turkey.
*The poor idiots who take their time to deal with the Turkey take a point of Hunger.
*Those sitting on their asses and doing nothing gain a point of Slack.
4) COOKERU! (to quote Chairman Kaga)
The fourth step is to cook the food! Presumably you got all the other trimmings, but frankly the turkey's the only thing that matters. You've got to hunt out, and send out last minute scouts to find, the fixings and stuffing. And a roasting pan. And make the Engineer make the oven work. This is a time factor. And a health factor.
*Succesfully cooking the turkey awards one point of Turkey.
*The whole process is heavily taxing and gives out two points of Hunger. Its around this time that people should start worrying about how hungry they're getting. But never fear, the next stage is...
5) Gluttony, My Favourite Sin
Now comes the REAL challenge: you've got everything cooked, but there ain't quite enough of everything to go around. Fight over the taters, duel over the gravy, and battle over who gets that drumstick! This is the time for the Engineers to get clever with their pranks, the Artsies to whip out the scorning monologues, and the Nurse to try to revive the Geek who's choking on a brussel sprout.
*The Hunger of all is immediatly satiated and drops to zero.
*Surviving the feast awards two points of Turkey.
*This is also a good time to pick up, or spend, Slack and Duty. Because your last chance will be...
6) The Great American Game (No...the OTHER One)
Its time for football. And beer. Couch space and chips are primo. And one slacker at someone else's house can ruin it all by stretching out the full length. This is also a time to kidnap people's couches, short out their TV antennas, and pray that you do it in enough time to still catch the game.
Finishing the night off in a drunken bacchanal frenzy nets one final, automatic *point of Turkey. After this, its up to the efforts of others to see things through.
*This is your last to spend those last ditch points of Slack and Duty.
*All this work can wind up quite the appetite, so people may be getting loads of Hunger before they have a chance to get the pork rinds.

The Morning After (aka The End)
When all's said and done, the day is over, and everyone's passed out drooling, tally up the points. The team with the most Turkey wins. Their players should get some pork rinds, a case of the import beers, and the best seats to watch the game. The absolute losers should be the ones who have to wash the dishes.

Turkey: The Feasting a game for the whole family...especially if the whole family consists of four totally hetero college guys living in the same house and griping about how much the beers cost...

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

If there are any professors in the audience...

...if anyone reading this is a university professor, please, I would like some speculation to the following question:

How is an in-class essay superior to a take home essay?

I'm not saying the in-class essay is the hallmark of a bad professor. My favourite professor of the past two years gave us an in-class essay. But my issue is with the fact that...well, you're doing all the research. A paper is a paper, and I'd think that typed ones double spaced in size 12 Times New Roman on single sided white paper stapled together at the top left-hand corner would be easier to read than 2 exam booklets crammed full of a badly hand written essay.

I'm honestly questioning this methodology.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

When web-comics makers die

I wonder what'll happen when the makers of fine webcomics die. Do some of them will their property to someone else? Do the comics simply die, one day totally unfinished? Or will web comics evolve and be copied over and over like the cast of DC and Marvel? Will we one day stand around the table and tell our grand-children about when we used the read the original adventures of Gabe and Tycho, and not the new adventures of Cyber-Gabe 2.0 and Chibi-Tycho as written by Humdrum Bill and his robotic monkey, Spunky McDoodle? Will Piffany IV patch up Nodwick XXXVIII in "The New Adventures of Nodwick and Friends" (the standard DC naming convention being if you can't think up something original, steal an old name and add Roman numerals to the end)?

More to the point: Why the hell do I think of these things?

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Dead Like Me: The RPG (a short diceless RPG in exactly 2100 words)

I got bored last night while watching Dead Like Me and started thinking what a wonderful little diceless game it would make. Much like my idea for a Ginger Snaps game, this one is mainly psychological roleplaying, but with a bit more humor.

The basic premise of the game is that you're a grim reaper. You died, and just before you did another reaper pulled your soul out of your body to save you the pain of death. But you filled his quota of souls, so he got to go to Heaven and you got stuck with his job. Ain't death a bitch?

Now you're a grim reaper, harvesting the souls of the soon-to-be-deceased so that they can go to the pearly gates and you can eat waffles. You presumably work with other reapers, most of whom are probably more experienced and way cooler than you. And you probably have a big boss reaper who's job it is to give everyone their assignments.

The game would probably start with a group of relativly new reapers, learning about death, undeath, and the consequences of fucking with both. They take souls, hold down shitty day jobs to pay for their places of residence (reaping pays nothing, except in theoretical good will), and interact with other people to keep themselves sane.

Character Generation
To start, make up a normal person's name. Jim Carson, Kate Berger, whatever, these are normal names. Darkclaw Ravenshadow, Mortis the Avenger, and Gorlog Kills-His-Enemies-Swiftly-With-Sticks are not.

Next, figure out what your life was like before you died. Put some thought into this. What were your parents like? Did you have any siblings? Did you go to school? Etc. His profession prior to death will decide what sort of stuff he can do(a plumber can fix drains) and can't do (a plumber cannot fly a military jet plane). Most reapers seem to be from relativly mundane professions, because its normal life (and unlife) that's more interesting to live in.

Next, think up how you died. This can be tragic, funny, weird, or just plane mundane. Maybe you jumped off a cliff and didn't realize the water below was a tad shallow. Maybe you got a piano dropped on you. Maybe you were shot in a holdup. Whatever. If you had a particularly funny, ironic, or stupid death, you might want to think up a funny nickname that other reapers might give you (unless you want to get named by the which case expect to hear things like "Hey, aren't you the Toad Licker?"). How you died also affects who you can reap. "You reap what you sow", as Rube said. If it was an external cause, congradulations, that's an easy quota to fill. If you died from the Typhus plague in Athens in 429BC, you may have a problem. Generally most reapers seem to be divided between External and Internal (diseases, cancer, poison, etc.) causes.

Figure out who you are now that you're dead. Your alternate identity...though don't bother making up facts for it. Its fun to lie like a rug as you go along, especially if it means you can create the family you always wanted on demand.

Lastly, figure out what your day job is (you may not have one yet, you may have to go find one...which can be hard when you have no resume), and where you live. Most reapers squat in the appartments (or houses...the best appartments and houses they can find) of people they reap. Generally this means you've got a few months rent payed, all the furniture you need, and hopefully some food in the fridge and a decent CD collection. This generally means that most new reapers live in dumps and have to fend off cockroaches, mould, and the desperate relatives of their former residents, at least until they can find a better place owned by a richer person. Additionally, since many don't HAVE jobs per se, many reapers steal money, jewlery, and other objects of monetary value off the people they reap. Its just good financial sense (hey, THEY'RE not using it anymore).

The Rules (As Such)
The rules are very simple: the GM acts as your boss reaper, gives out assignments to the different PCs, and expects them to muddle their way through whatever other life situations he heaps on them. Every time a character collects a soul, he gets a point. The GM sets an arbitrary, secret number. Each time a PC reaches this number of souls, he goes to Heaven, and the player makes a new character.

Reapers have two main powers. Neither of these have any sort of systems attached. Often, their effects should be decided on a case-by-case basis. They are:

Taking Souls. A reaper can take someone's soul just before the moment of their death, though its possible to take it beforehand (which would be a bad things if that person wasn't slated to die for a while yet, like they suddenly drop dead, or go pscyho, or die inside, its up to the GM for any given situation). All this requires is a moment's touch. NOT taking a soul is a VERY bad thing, as it means that the soul is trapped in the body until a reaper comes along and takes it out again (which can be horribly tramatic in these days of buzz-saw autopsies).

Immortality. Reapers are undead. They can't die again. You can shoot them, stab them, poison them, run them down, blow them up, cut them up, throw them away, and just like cockroaches they come back again. There's no specific healing time given, but generally assume that unless a wound would seriously incapacitate a reaper (their arm was ripped off), it has no effect on them beyond some whining and moaning. Blunt force trama, similarly, has very, very little effect, and it shouldn't be too much of a problem to walk away from low-speed car accidents and falling out of third story windows onto the lawn below. Poisons and drugs CAN effect reapers, but they get over it once they've suffered the symptoms that should have caused them to die. Depending on the substance, this can take minutes, hours, or days. Also, if a reaper is suitably damaged, they may be mistaken for dead and locked in the morgue. This is just plain unpleasent, but opens much amusing RP possibilities.

The Rules of Death
The rules of death are pretty simple. The main one is that reapers take a person's soul before that person dies, so the soul is unecumbered by grief, pain, or regrets and can safely pass into Heaven (which appears as a glowing blue version of that person's favourite place or thing or desire [ranging from glowing circuses to climbing back into the womb (don't ask)]). This is the natural order of things. Of course...everyone's gonna want to fuck things up sooner or later.

Cheating Death. If a reaper deliberatly acts to keep someone from dying, bad things happen.
-If they save that person from dying at the moment when that person SHOULD die, and leave the soul in, that person will wither and die inside. They may become serial killers, they may lose all emotions and become drones, they may go stark raving nuts. Whatever it is, it ain't pretty.
-If a reaper intervenes to make sure that someone never arrives at the location of their death, generally the effects are bad...really bad. Because the world has a plan, and when you cheat the plan to do one good, you may realize that it opens the path to a whole lot of bad (save one person, and the car crash he was supposed to die in instead occurs with a bus load of school children, none of whom were wearing seatbelts). The universe abhors a vaccuum, and wants things to balance out. Also, generally, on a more personal note this leads to the Gravelings declaring open war (breaking stuff, tossing furniture at them, running cars into them, etc.) on the reaper until they feel that the undead guy or girl has suitably learned their lesson. It should be noted that sometimes, through no fault of a reaper's own, someone misses their appointment with death. That's fine...just so long as no reaper intervened.
-If the reaper doesn't take a soul before the person dies, their soul, when removed, is damaged with all the crap that happened to them before they were reaped (so autopsy scars, death wounds, etc.). If you leave a soul inside a body for too long, they can quite easily go insane from the isolation and sensory deprivation. Its best to get their souls before all that happens.

Going Home. Reapers can never go home. They no longer look like they did when they were alive (at least to non-reapers). Their family wouldn't recognize them. Attempting to contact their family, however, is bad for everyone involved. It causes the family pain...and it removes some of the reaper's memories of their life. Trying to get your mom to believe its you by telling her about the time you were ten and you spilled Uncle Frank's beer all over the cat will just end up with you staring at her and stuttering...and then completly foregetting, permanently, what you were trying to tell her (that is, you forget that part of your life, its just a blank).

The Note. The boss reaper gives out notes from envelopes he receives from a mysterious shadow. The notes give the name, location, and Estimated Time of Death (ETD). No descriptin of the individual is given, and the nightmare if every reaper is to have to find a soul at a family reunion ("I'm looking for a B.J. Herzog!" "Aye, well, this' a Herzog Ho-Down! We got ev'ry Herzog from here t'Athens, Georgia here t'day!"). Some detective work may be required. A note generally looks like this:

B.J. Herzog
65 Jane Ave.
ETD 9:31 AM

The GM sets the world for the players. He plays all the various and sundry NPCs, the most important of which is the boss reaper that the PCs work under. The boss reaper is delivered an envelope on a regular basis by a mysterious shadow who slips it under his door. The envelope contains the names, adresses, and times of those who are going to die. The boss then writes it down (or who knows, he could email it out if he's saddled with some techno-saavy reapers, or phone message it...whatever) and hands it out to his reapers. He also takes jobs himself. Generally, if everyone's getting together, this will be at some sort of restaraunt, store, shop, park gazebo, or whatever where the group regularly meets (this an excellent chance to have the PCs touch base on a daily basis).

The GM also portrays the actions of the Gravelings, who cause accidents. Generally very focused on their job, Gravelings can become the PCs' worst nightmares if they fuck with them too often. Cheat death, and expect a Graveling to hound you till you set it right. Gravelings look kind of like whispy undead monkies, can climb vertical services with the same skill as horizontal ones, and are generally too fast for most reapers to catch or hit (however much they might want to). They don't talk, but they are fantastically annoying if you get on their bad side.

Also, the GM should feel free to portray a toad. There are always toads around, often big, fat yellow and orange ones. The reasons for this are steeped in mythology, and the nuances are generally lost on people that have never heard the story. Suffice to say, toads herald death, so stay away from Amazonian pygmies bearing narcotic gifts.

Group Play
One option to make the game more interesting while the PCs go out and reap souls on their own is the Group Play method. In this game, the GM focuses scenes on each PC doing their job, and puts the other players into the role of NPC co-workers or bystanders. THis is done by giving each player a typed paragraph or two on the character they will be portraying, with some history and personality notes. The players then take on these NPC roles while the central reaper PC goes about his or her job. When the scene shifts to another PC and player, the GM hands out different NPCs to the other players. This continues and thus ensures that everyone gets to play someone, and every character gets equal spotlight without forcing people to sit around on their asses and do nothing.

And That's A Wrap
That's pretty much all the stuff you need to play. Its a game of psychology and social interaction, not beating people with lamp posts. It's a game about life, death, undeath, and all the stuff that comes in-between. Enjoy!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Fucking Masks (a super-hero story in 635 words)

The eyes were like fish eyes, flat and staring, ever unceasingly staring up. They bored at the back of Detective Wilson Willow's head as he tried to look at the deep claw marks in the walls, tried to pay attention to the minute details gouged into the sheet rock and plaster. The floor was covered in newspaper clippings, mainly Nobilis, but he could spot some Raven, Windstorm, Midnight Crescent, and a few other names that didn't make the papers all that often. The Black Phantom's autobiography was dog eared, and the first fifty pages of Jebediah Heathrow's confessions as a masked man of mystery in the 1930s were flung about the body, and the rest of the book scattered the floor amid the clipping. The hamster padding of a dead fanatic at least soaked up some of the blood, coloring every mask into the same shade of wet crimson.

It was obvious from the place that the late occupant had been a bit of an obsessive. The entire appartment was practically a shrine to the profession of superheroism. Judging by the fact that the entire wall facing East Street had been ripped clean off and thrown into the adjacent tenament building, someone had been rather less than impressed. The plastic that now covered the remains of the wall kept the cold wind out, keeping the papers in place, but the snow that it was driving hard had stuck to the plastic, a shoddy insulation against the low temperatures of a winter in America's North. The single, bare bulb screwed into the ceiling to replace the demolished light fixture gave off a half-hearted luminesence, staining the blood black.

The main room had mixed living room and bedroom, with the couch-bed joining the desk, computer, and television on the street six stories below, while the kitchen and bathroom had been left relativly untouched. Fingering the hole, Wilson turned to one of the numerous, faceless blue-uniformed officers swarming the room, taking pictures and gathering evidence. "Thompson", he said, forcing the name up from his memory, "We got a name for what did this yet?"

Looking up, a little in surprise, Officer Thompson flustered. "No, sir. Not yet, I mean. I mean, Forensics is still running the pictures...maybe we'll get something soon."

Wilson nodded and sighed, "Never a mask when you need one, eh? Well, we've got photos. Tell the guys outside that they can cart away this corpse whenever they want. We sure as hell don't need it anymore. I want every book in this place catalouged, especially anything that the perp damag...ah hell. He broke just about everything here. I'm going over to talk to the neighbours. You guys fine here without a babysitter?"

"Uh, Detective? I think you're gonna want to see this!" called back one of the uniforms, the ones who were checking out the bathroom. Squelching across the crimson stained newsprint, Wilson sighed and walked into the amazingly pristine bathroom.

"For an obsessive weirdo he sure kept things clean. Now, McNally, what have you g...well, shit on me." he said, looking over at the hidden panel the uniforms had pulled out of the wall. Folded neatly inside was the all too familiar red and black jumpsuit, executioner's hood, and the small satchel filled with rune-carved bones.

"Hey, Detective, you think that guy out there really was Hellsing?" nervously injected Officer McNally over his shoulder.

"Well, let me just say that I bet there's a patent liscence in there for his name, costume, and signature superpowers. Hell, I guess it explains the marks out there. They weren't made by our perp...I bet we find ashes on his hands for one of his Summoning Bones. Demon probably went berserk after he died, ripped the place apart...which puts us back to square one again. Fucking masks."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

For those who wonder what the hell Girl Genius is...

Airship Books, the company that produces Girl Genius has kindly put up the first issue, and The Secret Blueprints, online. Issue 1 is wonderful, and the Secret Blueprints introduce all the main characters as well as the setting history.

I highly recomend reading them.

For those that are annoyed that I have yet to post further rules stuff and clarifications, I apologize. I just spent a few days writing a 4000+ word Changeling adventure for my local Camarilla domain, as the STs were holding an adventure contest (I get XP and Prestige Points...and if I win, I get MORE stuff, how could I lose???), and a few other thingies. I'll do the further work soon. God I hope I get Acrobat for Christmas, it'll make my life so much easier.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Self Restraint

I commend my self restraint. Today I bought Coteries for Vampire: the Requiem and The Queen & Country Scriptbook. I did not, however, buy the two core books for Fireborn, despite how cool they look, nor did I pick up Ghost Stories for World of Darkness.

...then I went out and got a calzone, which sort of broke that wonderful train of things.

...but I did. At least I did some studying and other work. That's good...


Sunday, November 14, 2004

Absolute Planetary and Other Stories

I spent $59 on Friday. On one comic. I have no regrets... I keep telling myself.

Absolute Planetary combines the first 12 issues (encompassing the first and second TPBs), plus the script for issue 1. It's also bigger than a gaming book (well, not as big as Nobilis, but then again the big flowery N is the coffee table book of the RPG world), comes with a nifty slipcover, and is on high gloss paper that makes even the bitchy waitress in the diner that sells coffee flavored with dog piss look amazing.

I have no regrets.

In addition to all this, I think I have a new favourite campy spy movie. The mid 90s remake of The Avengers is a truly wonderful, if weird and campy, little flick. John Steed has become my personal hero, if for no other reason than the fact that he takes out five thugs with his umbrella and without having to unbutton his suit jacket. Forget James Bond, even though I am a fervent Roger Moore-as-Bond fan. PLus...Uma Thurman in a catsuit. What's not to like?

Now, if the video store had done my other order correctly, I'd have also gotten to watch The Court Jester, an old BW musical comedy that I have only ever seen stocked at this one, small town video store. For those that haven't seen it, find a copy. It has great, snappy, humorous dialogue, some great little intriguing mixups that could only happen in an opera, and some great musical numbers.

Finally, I saw the Justice League Unlimited episode "Dark Heart" on Friday, written by one of my comic book pantheon, Warren Ellis. Ellis outdid himself. The dialogue is FANTASTIC:
Atom: "There could be some trouble, Patti. I blame you."
Patti (the lab assistant): "Why me? What'd I do?"
Atom: "Because I have to blame someone. I'm a professor, I can't be wrong."
and a short while later:
Batman (having just been shot down): "I could use some air support. Preferably soon. I'm falling. And I can't fly. At all. You know, I could use that air support about now-" (and then Superman caught him)

The episode had some great homages to Ellis' other works, such as a short monologue given by Ray Palmer about nanite space craft that is very similar to one given in Global Frequency about "flock humans". J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, in one scene is talking about using the Watchtower as a giant fusion cannon and you can almost see him as Henry Bendix, the crazy Weatherman from StormWatch. And finally, many of the scenes and situations seem like something that the Planetary crew or the Authority would get themselves involved in. Plus Ellis managed to bring a great deal of life and personality to the Atom, who's always been a second- or third-string hero. It was beautiful all over, and there was nothing about that episode that I didn't like.

The Story of Work and the Phone(s)

So work wanted me in on Friday. Or possibly Saturday. I really don't know. All I know is that I went home to Oakville on Friday afternoon after spending the day out and about after class, only to realize that I'd left my phone in the cradle. There was a message on the counter at home that my boss wanted me to call him at the restaraunt. I couldn't get ahold of him. I went to the cottage, as planned, on Saturday and played phone tag with Frank (my boss, the owner of Il Posto) on Saturday. Finally I got home today to discover that he'd wanted to find out if I could work on Saturday, though I'm still not 100% sure. Since a) I don't normally work Saturdays unless its a big emergency, and b) this whole thing was a big fucked up communication error, I doubt I will be in trouble, though I think some apologizing is definitly in order.

Friday, November 12, 2004

And so it begins

There are few shocks like walking into work one day to find that your immediate supervisor has been fired. More to the point, that you were there the day before to pick up a paycheck, had a lengthy discussion with the owner on your hours and what you'd been doing, and the subject was never mentioned. I was surprised this morning when I was informed that the reason that the owner was working on the line with us kitchen grunts was because the chef had just been fired a few days before. Joy.

And now, with the Christmas Rush looming over our heads like a boulder made of solid money and propelled down a stone ramp onto a startled Indiana Jones by tribes of hungry natives, we are faced with being a man down, with two guys in training and more dishwashers than you can shake a feathered spear at.

So now they want me in more. The problem is, I don't WANT to be in more. I'm perfectly happy as I am. Money's money, I suppose. And I only have three exams, and I probably will end up on three or four days a week. Hey, as long as I get my Fridays (Justice League) and Sundays (LARP) off, I think I can manage. And besides, January's the slow season, when no one without a kitchen job can get one to save his life, because everyones just spent their cash on Christmas and is tired of fancy food.

A sidenote

JasonK got me thinking on comic scripting. I'm thinking of turning "A World Without Doors" into a comic about a rogue chef on the run from the catering cartels. I figure if Anthony Bordain (my personal culinary hero) can write a novel about a kitchen grunt in an Italian restraunt with the mob and the FBI after him, I can write about at teleporting chef trying to outrun the kitchen mafia. Maybe I'm just weird that way.

Also, I'll be posting rules for Clanks, Constructs, and other crap for Girl Genius tomorrow, probably. I worked out most of the rules at work tonight, I just have to fit them into the system. JasonK also reminded me that I need to create rules for how fast Spark points (Machine or Daring-Do [which Jason corrected to "Derring-Do"]) recover, and have to clearly differentiate between effects 1) and 2) for Daring-Do stuff (differentiate between the coincidental luck changes from Dramatic Editing and the mental/physical conditioning of Effects). I'm hoping to get Adobe Acrobat 6.0 for Christmas, so who knows...I may turn this all into a short PDF document.

I think I'm about ready to make a lengthy post on the Defenders of the Empire soon. I think I can write a short essay on Four-Color Victorian society from my notes so far.

That is all, Citizens.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Girl Genius AND a system mechanic conduscive to the use of High Science within a randomized simulationist exercise (coloquially "Roleplaying Game")

I now have both TPBs of Phil Foglio's Girl Genius. For those not familiar with the comic, it tells the exploits of Agatha Heterodyne, a budding superscientist in a Europe ruled by superscientist monarchs. It's sort of like Adventure! and the Sons of Ether from Mage: The Ascension meets Castle Falkenstein.

Its a setting that'd be just perfect for an RPG. So...I propose the following little fiddling with the Mage system.

Characters do not have levels in Spheres. Rather, they have effectivly access to all levels of all Spheres. Mages are referred to as Sparks. The trait Spark replaces Arete, and is a trait that runs on the sheet from 1-10, but can theoretically go higher. A starting level Spark has the trait at 2, and each additional level costs 3 Spark Points. There are two kinds of "spells": Machines and Daring-Do. Machines are external objects that can function outside of the Spark's presence and can do virtually anything. Daring-Do represents astounding feats of physical and mental prowess. These are represented by two seperate Spark Pools. At character creation, a player also has 20 Spark Points, and no Freebie Points. Spark Points, however, work something like Freebies:
Spark Points
+2 Attributes (1SP)
+3 Abilities (1SP)
+3 Backgrounds (1SP)
+5 Machine Pool (2SP)
+1 Daring-Do Pool (1SP)
+1 Spark (5SP)

The Machine Pool
The Machine Pool is a pool of points used to build devices, equal to the character's (Spark+Intelligence+Science)x4.

The Base Effect of a given machine is equal to the total level of Spheres involved, multiplied by the cost of the highest Sphere (so a lightning gun that performs a Forces 3 would cost 9 points). A Spark cannot spend more points on a given Effect than five times his Spark score. A machine can hold more than one Effect, though each Effect's cost is calculated seperatly.

The Activation level governs how many dice are rolled to activate the power. The Base Activation rating of a device is 1. Each MP spent after this raises the Base Activation by an additional level, to a maximum of the builder's Spark.

The base time to formulate a machine is a day, the base time to build a machine is a week. These times can be lowered as such:
1MP=formulate in 12 hours/build in a day
2MP=formulate in an hour/build in 12 hours
3MP=formulate in 10 minutes/build in an hour
4MP=formulate in 1 minute/build in ten minutes
5MP=formulate in a round/build in a minute (sort of like a super-McGuyver)

The base difficulty to use a machine is 8. An Efficient machine reduces the difficulty by one for each MP spent, to a minimum of 4. An Unefficient machine lowers the overall cost the device by one for each additional level of Difficulty, to a maximum of Difficulty 10.

If the machine can deal damage, it deals damage as per the Spheres used. If it deals Aggravated Damage, buy Prime 2. Prime is not required to power a device (so lightning guns don't need it to produce lightning blasts from "nothing").

A machine has a Use Pool of 5, meaning that it can be used 5 times before it has to be repaired. Each MP spent grants another 5 uses. 5MP spent allows the device to use its abilities without fear of running dry. If a machine fails in over half its uses, it breaks when it runs out of Uses and must be rebuilt. A botch costs 5 uses and counts three failures.

Machines start at size 5 on the following chart. A device has a base of 5 Stability Levels (Health Levels). Each point of size by which it is decreased lowers its SL by one, lowers the difficulty to conceal it (base 10) by 1, and raises the difficulty to hit it (base 6) by 1. Each size by which it is increased grants an additional 4 SLs, makes it impossible to conceal, and lowers the difficulty to hit it by 1. Each point by which its size is altered costs one point.
1-a large bug
2-a coffe cup, a pistol
3-a human infant, a rifle
4-a human child, a large rifle
5-an average human, base size of a device
6-a gorilla
7-a car
8-an elephant, a cannon
9-a passenger airplane, a zepplin
10-a city block, a fortress

Calculate all the costs together and subtract from the Spark's Machine Pool. This is for when the Prototype of a given machine is made. Take the final cost and divide it by 4, this is the total cost to duplicate the machine afterwards. Machines can be fixed by Sparks other than those that build them, and their designs can be copied, though at the full normal cost, by other Sparks as well.

I'll work up some special rules for Clanks and Constructs and post them later on.


Daring-Do represents feats of incredible physical and mental prowess as performed by Sparks. When Gilgamesh fights Agath's Clank in Beetleburg, he performs a rather incredible act of Daring-Do by kicking the Clank's components in such a way that he reverses its programing. He and his father then run across the city at great speed, without breaking a sweat, yet another aspect of Daring-Do.

A character has a Daring-Do Pool (DP) equal to his (Spark+Wits+Stamina+Charisma). Daring-Do can be used for three different purposes.

1) One point of Daring-Do can lower a given difficulty on a 1-for-1 basis, lowering it by a maximum of the character's Spark rating. This can apply to gadgets as well, representing the character's luck and ability to "kick it and make it go faster". This can also be used offensivly to raise an opponent's difficulty, costing 2DP per +1 Difficulty (to a maximum of 10).

2) An Effect can be used. The Effect MUST be what Mage: The Ascension would class as Coincidental, and cannot use a Sphere with a rating higher than 3. The cost is equal to the total number of Spheres involved. The character then rolls his Spark trait to determine how many successes were gained. There are some rare individuals who can use 4 and 5 dot Sphere effects under Daring-Do (martial arts masters with a withering touch, psychics who can astrally project, etc.), but are quite, quite rare. The total cost of the Effect is equal to the sum of all Spheres involved.

3) Daring-Do can be used identically to Dramatic Editing in White Wolf's RPG, Adventure!. For those not posessing this fantastic volume, negotiate with the ST just how many DP it would cost for a stroke of luck ranging from finding a spare para-chute just before the airship goes down, to the Clank that's about to kill you conveniently running out of power just before it strikes the final blow.

That's All for Now

Yeah...that's about it for now. I'm tired, and this has been a really long post. But I hope that this brief system digression has been of some interest. On my next post on this I'll formulate rules for Clanks, Constructs, vehicles, and the Gadget trait so you can have some funky gear starting from character creation.

On the off chance you're at the University of Toronto...

Come along and get free munchies. I tried to pick some of the best episodes, and though I really wanted to fit Mask of the Phantasm and Return of the Joker in, I just couldn't find the time or space, and wanted to showcase a greater number of episodes than just big blocks of movies.

The Dangers of One-Click-Buy

One-Click-Buy's a danger, yes,
For it puts accounts to emptiness.
Experimentation is not advised
Neither to look, to see, or analyze.
I just lost $75, you see,
On DVDs for my set TV.
Thankfully they're the ones I want,
Rather than something stupid bought to taunt.
Now my pitiful rhyme is done,
I hope my lyrics were somewhat fun.
At least I'm not Trimalchio,
He makes up stupid rhymes to with dinner go.
(Yes I am a Classics geek,
Except I failed first year Greek)

Monday, November 08, 2004

Edwardian Dragons

From "A Treatise on Draconus Europus Nobilis, the Noble European Dragon, and Its Vulgar Cousins" by Doctor Archibald Theodore Elliot Maximillian Telac of the University of Applied Draconic Studies, London. Pub. 1908

...under the assumption that "dragon" is a term representative of a single species without divergent parts. Such individuals are as like to associate the Greater Vulgar American Mountain Dragon with the Noble Russian Wyverns that live only in the Ural Mountains.

As such, precious page length is to be wasted on the catologuing of the five main distinctive types of dragons.

Dragon denotes a reptillian, most often no less than fifteen feet in length and seldom surpassing three hundred, with one pair of wings, four legs, and a tail. A dragon commonly is grouped into Lesser, denoting a dragon of no more than fifty feet in length, and Greater, denoting a dragon of more than fifty one feet in length. They are further divided into Noble, denoting a dragon that posesses additional properties beyond its claws, teeth, and flight, and Vulgar, denoting a dragon without such qualities, and commonly posessing wings that lack the ability to fly. The Noble dragons typically posess a form of natural self defense expelled from the mouth, generally either fire or some other noxious substance either in the form of a gas or a liquid, but some have been able to expel blasts of freezing winds, sands, and solid objects. Other common abilities include avisbility, the ability to dissapear from sight; quickened regeneration capabilities; and a variety of other specific talents. Most notably, the Lesser Noble London Belfry Dragon is known for its ability to expel great gouts of steam from its mouth, making it very useful as a source of propulsion and power for airships and buildings.

A drake is a reptilian creature with four limbs and a tail, lacking a dragon's wings and commonly never exceeding a length of fifty feet. Lesser drakes typically grow to fifteen feet, while greater drakes can reach fifty feet, and occasionally longer. Drakes commonly have a greater speed of ground movement than dragons, owing to greater muscle mass around the legs, and some are even able to balance on their tail to stand on their hind legs, though this is a capacity generally held by the Lesser Drakes and much less commonly by the Greater of the species. Drakes, universally, do not posess any sort of breathable form of offense, though some Noble drakes posess a sort of "aura" which generates either extreme heat or extreme cold, and some secrete acid or other noxious substances from their hide (such as the Greater Noble Gobi Drake which secrets acid and posesses skin which creates an electrical charge upon contact.)

Third is the wyvern, characterized as a large reptilian, typically between ten and thirty feet in height, with a pair of back legs, wings, and a tail. Wyverns are typically not classed by size, but are simply divided into Noble, denoting wyverns who posess some form of poison, either in their bite or their tail, and Vulgar who posess no such apparatus. Generally wyverns are found in very cold climates, and seem naturally adapted to such areas. The skin of a wyvern, either Noble or Vulgar, is highly toxic, and should not be consumed.

A fourth category is the wyrm, which is characterized as a long, snake like reptile, typically no longer than fifteen feet, posessing a single set of frontal legs, and lacking wings. Wyrms are classed into the very common Lesser, who do not exceed fifteen feet, and the rare Greater who have been noted to grow as long as fifty feet. The wyrm typically attacks its prey by constriction, like the American anaconda. They do not posess a poisonous bite or any other unconventional properties.

The final category is the serpent, denoting reptiles without limbs, measuring up to five hundred feet in length. Lesser serpents do not exceed one hundred feet, while Greater serpents have been known to crush entire sailing ships whole, devouring the crews alive. Serpents are typically aquatic and amphibious, rarely venturing on to land, and devouring animals such as whales and sharks for sustance. They are very rarely seen on land, but when such is the case they have been known to move with incredible speed. They posess no additional capabilities of interest.

The general intelligence of dragon breeds is below human, though they do appear to posesss a certain animal cunning that makes them exceedingly dangerous unless raised and handled properly. His Majesty's Dragonic Guard are skilled dragon riders with a long, proud tradition stretching back to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. A case study of dragonic intelligence can be found...

More political commentary

A top aide to Bush today made a statement about gay marriage, saying that the President was really hot to enshrine the ban in the Consitution so that "activist judges cannot make decisions without the people's input". Now, maybe its just me, but isn't the job of a judge to interpret the law without the people's input? The judges make sure that the law is followed, and act (or are supposed to act) as a non-biased arbitrator in matters of the law. The people, on the other hand, are completly biased, and thus cannot really be trusted to interpret the law. This all sounds horribly right wing in thinking, but when you minimalize the role of the judicial branch and start specifically making laws so that judges cannot state the illegality of them, then you're getting perilously close to giving the government absolute control over the laws and their interpretation. You end up like Rome under the dictators and Emperors: each one trying to gain all their power (at least for a while) democratically with the stated aim of "restoring the republic".

So will that excuse be rehashed by the Bush government, stating that they want to "ensure safety and decency"? I wonder if we will, thus, see increasing powers given to the government over the judicial branch, with more laws that Bush wants put into place passed right over the courts' heads to keep judges out of it.

Funny story: defense attornies during the McCarthy/HUAC trials were subject to investigation and prosecution by HUAC.

Changeling and LARP

So I was at a Changeling game tonight. The game was set as November 1st, the day after Halloween. October 31st in Changeling is Samhain, the one night of the yaer when all the Changelings get to be evil and mischevious. I play a character who could loosley be called the "Post-Industrial Steam-Tech Luddite Impetus". He's not a Luddite. He does things with technology that causes people to BECOME Luddites. So for Samhain, when no one can remember anything they did that day, I seem to have ripped off half the parking meters in TOronto (netting some $30-50 in loose change), and changed all the water in the street sweeper-car-truck-thingees with pig's blood. All I know is what I read in the In Character news articles, and the fact that Innis woke up drenched in pig's blood, covered in pocket change, and carrying a leather satchel with a variety of fiendish tools, rings of keys, and various pieces of crap in it.

The game itself was also amusing, I think I've found a motley to attach myself to, made some friends, and got a contract to design several voting booths for the mystical, chimerical city of Streethaven. There were some logical issues when the guy contracting me said he wanted the voting booths to dispense food, as chosen by each candidate, when you vote for them, to ensure that the rat-folk, the hungry inhabitants of Street haven, vote. I have logical issues with the fact that candidates will be adverstising "Vote For Oak, His Machine Gives Cupcakes!". The vote is for Mayor of Streethaven. Democracy and capitalism. Well, my character IS American.

I am also full of pineapple, rice, beef, and red curry. Life is good.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

A World Without Doors

(I blame the following story on Julie, who lives down the hall. She suggested how cool the world would be if we could all teleport...this was in addition to our musings about how useful it would be to have six arms, or be telekinetic. Many hands do indeed make light labor.)

Now that everyone can go anywhere they want, there aren't anymore borders. I mean, its kind of pointless to have borders when a guy can be anywhere within or without of them when he wants. Of course, tourism's now a world industry, and war has become pretty much pointless because people can decide to not be where the shooting is.

But its not all sunlight and roses. How do you keep a mass murderer in a jail when he can be wherever he wants? You can't. The corporal and capital punishment are pretty much universal now. And even they're pretty hard to do. Of course, murder's virutally impossible, because people can choose not to be where the murderer is.

You meet so many interesting people, especially now that the world economy's gone. Everything's electronic, because...well, money's useless when you can't keep it safe and secure...and what with tourism being so big and all. Of course, there's still the communication barrier, but I mean you pretty much HAVE to be fluent in three or four languages now if you want to be understood. Unilingual people are just so dull.

Buildings go up so quickly. Without the need for doors, you just throw some windows in and you're set. No elevators, no stairs, no doors. Just the foundations, and the floors, and the windows. Of course this means that you get restaraunts that are just tables and a bar. All the foods brought in from fancy central distribution facilities (which is pretty much how all franchise places work, anyway). The food-sweat shops of South-East Asia were in the news just last week, people too poor to live anywhere, so no matter where they go they need to do menial labor just to make ends meet. Sure you can go anywhere, any time, but if you don't have job skills or a way of getting them you've still got problems. But...not so much, of course. Global hobos and all that.

They're talking about a space program. Of course, they'd need supplies, enough to get a man on the moon, then onto Phobos, then onto Mars. But if you keep leapfrogging, you could be out of the solar system in a week. They still haven't figured out terraforming, or how to properly colonize other planets, but you can book a room on the ISS, so we may just have to start moving materials and constructing more stations farther out.

It's a brave new horizon, this world without doors.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Incredibles

Dear god...I'm speechless.

The movie was FANTASTIC (he said, avoiding the obvious pun). I won't give spoilers, but suffice to say that it was one of the best animated superhero movies I've seen in quite a long time. It certainly ranks up there as my favourite Pixar movie.

The costumes were great, and there was a lot of characterization. You really get to know the characters quite well, and no one really ends up lacking in personality. THe power effects were fun (there's nothing like watching an overweight brick bounce as he fights something), and the characters were nicely put together. Violet's voice took a bit of getting used to, it's very low and nasal and kind of grates a bit, but it really comes off well.

The villains...Bomb Voyage? Mimes are scary enough...but mimes that blow things up? Gah! And the main villain...the only thing I have to say is that they ripped off a science-hero I'd played a while back named Captain Orion, who's bracers could do pretty much the same thing that Syndrome's gauntlets did, right up the the explanation of their power source as "zero point energy". All very nice.

Finally, or perhaps first, the film has once again had the return of the animated short, which in this was a short musical number involving a sheep, some gophers, and a jack-a-lope. It was humorous, really, though the jack-a-lope's tail looked a bit more like a furry fin on his back. And still, no animated short can compare with "Attack of the Chub-Chubs" from Men In Black II.

This movie has made my brain percolate. I'm going to be thinking weird, mundane superhero stuff for the rest of the day...gah, I wish I had full run of my comics collection right now. I really want to re-read Top Ten.

My Trinity d20 review on has been posted.

I give two warnings:
1) It's over 5000 words long
2) It's not positive. I was dissapointed by the book, overall. It had its good, but it was outweighed by the bad.

Digital cameras

Dammit, but JasonK is right. I want this. Spiffy tech...really spiffy tech. If you're going to get a digital camera, might as well go all the way.

A World of Nothing But Shrimp

Anya: "Oh ok. Umm. Say you really like shrimp a lot. Or we could say you don't like shrimp at all. 'Blah I wish there weren't any shrimp you would say to yourself.'"
Buffy: "Stop you're saying it wrong! I think that Jonathan may be doing something so that he's manipulating the world and we're all like his pawns."
Anya: "Or prawns."
Buffy: "Stop with the shrimp I am trying to do something here!"
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 4.17 Superstar

A world made entirely of shrimp. That means that you could have shrimp, that swim in seas of microscopic shrimp, who are composed of cells and atoms shaped like shrimp. Then you could bigger shrimp, that breath shrimp, and are eaten by shrimp that make Jaws look small...

...or a world with shrimp that walk on two legs, and wear clothing made of shrimp, and have biotech designed from shrimp...

...and now I'm just going to have nightmares...

Friday, November 05, 2004

Well, I did it.

I dropped Greek. I just can't do it anymore, not for marks. The prof's a nice guy, and has agreed to let me stay in the class until next term, when I have a different class in the time slot. So I'll continue to study it for the time being, but it thankfully won't affect my GPA.

I feel dissapointed, though. I hate giving up, giving in, or admitting defeat. I hate asking for help, and I hate losing my pride. Well, I've done all 5 of those today, so I guess thats me losing a point of Pride, losing a point of Hubris, and hopefully trading them in for a point of GPA. it worrying that I can phrase my life in terms of an RPG?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Food Economy

Alexander: "I bartered my ride home for a slice of pizza."
Me: "You live in a pizza-based economy."
Alexander: "Ecosystem. The basic unit of food is the pizza slice."

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Little Endless Storybook

Tee hee...tee hee...*maniacle giggles*

This book is beyond words. Its a little pricey (about $14 CDN) for its size (its pretty thin), but its worth every penny. Its one of the best DC/Vertigo humor pieces I've ever read.

I'm smiling. Combine this with a Japanese dinner tonight, I can almost forget who the President is (though that may be the sake).

The Election

I had a big post done up about the election, and the problems that I have with Bush. An internal server error ate it.

I wrote another post summarizing the missing post...and I had it copy-pasted to a text file to post later...but instead I copy-pasted an internal servor error message over it by mistake.

Minding that I'm a Canadian...

...very simply, I think that there's some bad times ahead with Bush as president. I disagree with most of what he stands for, and I don't think that he values human life in the slightest despite claiming to. I'm not talking about abortion, I think women have the right to decide what happens in their own bodies. I'm talking about the fact that he has murdered thousands of Iraqis, many of whom had the misfortune of being in the wrong place when the bombs hit, and the fact that he's sent over a thousand of his own countrymen to their deaths, with no end in sight. I furthemore do not think that he values human rights beyond his own, highly stilted and perverted view of the religion he claims to practice.

What do I look for in a world leader? Compassion, tolerance, mercy, intelligence, logic, peace, and utter lack of religious fanaticism. George W Bush embodies none of these qualities.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Sandman and 1602

Oh, since there might have been confusion:

I've read the first 5 TPBs of Gaiman's Sandman. And the two Death TPBs. And several other related works. I am not wholly uneducated on the subject.

Also, I finished 1602 today. Wonderful stuff. Gaiman did a fantastic job on it, and I am most impressed. There was some very clever characterization and use of different characters to fill different roles. Nick Fury as a swashbuckler is intuitive enough...but Captain America as a Native American bodyguard? I'm still trying to figure out what Marvel character Virginia was supposed to be. I think there was a character in Alpha Flight who could change into animals, but only white ones. I have to say that, by far, Fury was my favourite character in the book. But then again, I have a thing for swashbuckling spymasters (there just aren't enough of them). Reed Richards was neat, but he just came off as far, far too modern for my tastes.

Ginger Snaps II

Just finished watching Ginger Snaps II. Very seldomly do sequels, especially sequels in horror movies, live up to the original. Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street just got stranger and stranger as they went along, eventually concluding with the two antagonists beating each other up in a somewhat similar vein to the question "Who'd win in a fight? Superman, or the Incredible Hulk?"

Ginger Snaps II, however, is a wonderful followup to the original. I think it really captures some of the central themes of the original movie, as well as the dark yet almost Tim Burtonesque suburban setting (ok, a mental hospital isn't really suburban, had that Burtonesque feel that the original did), but also makes itself into its own movie. The opening scene is one of the most disturbing I've ever seen...and it's just of a girl shaving her legs (and back...and hands...and chest...all without showing any actual nudity). The cinematography was fantastic, and the costumes were perfect. I still hate the Beast, who's costume gets a reprisal in the sequel, as its just a second-rate knockoff of the werewolf done in An American Werewolf in London. The prosthetics leading up to it were, though, simply astounding and very beleivable, once again like the original.

There were some fantastic plot twists, though some you pick up on right away, or at least expect, and part of the fun becomes seeing just HOW they occur. Some of the most harmless characters aren't, and some of the sleeziest get a few redeeming moments.

All in all, it's quite a good movie. Now...I just have to wait for the third to get on the 7-day Rental rack at Rogers so I can rent it cheap...

Werewolf game thoughts

Building on my last post, I'm thinking of a Werewolf game idea.

It'd be a small game, one or two players. The basic concept is that they have just been bitten by a werewolf. They have between one full moon and the next to find a cure, kill themselves, or turn into a werewolf. The job of the GM is to put the PCs in situations where they will need to face their humanity, or inhumanity. The PCs havea a beast that is divided into Urges: Bestial, Sexual, Controlling, etc. When the PCs encounter a given situation they can choose to try and resist the urge that would dominate that situation. If they resist it, they have to face the terrors of that situation and very probably come out the worse for it. If they give in, they can accept the wolf within and use it to overcome the situation. The more they let the wolf out, the more of a monster they become. If they can go 29 days in which they hold off the urge more than they succumb to it, then they are cured. If they succumb to it more than they resist, they fall to the beast. During this time, of course, they can also hunt for other cures (very possibly more, or less, painful...including main-lining wolfsbane or silver nitrate, neither of which are survivable normally, but if you succumb to the could survive, and paradoxically also have a greater likelyhood of turning into a monster...ain't life a bitch?).

Of course, if you also incorporate my previous idea into that, then each PC could also be harrased by past lives as a werewolf...including possibly humoerous scenes in London porno theaters where the ghosts are "just trying to be helpful".

I get such strange ideas at this hour of the night.


Been watching Ginger Snaps II for 7 minutes now, and already I'm thinking about werewolves and stuff.

Common theme that occurs between this movie and An American Werewolf in London:spirits of dead werewolves (well, in AAWIL it was victims, but still).


...I'm wondering. Werewolves are a representation of base, primal urges and animalistic actions. It's sort of a condensed rage and psychosis that's transmitted, normally, through injury from one carrier to a victim. At the same time, its also a spiritual ailment that metaphysically generates additional mass and causes the body to change itself rapidly to assume a new form, typically under the stimulus of the new moon.

Now, there had to be a patient zero. A first werewolf. He or she bit someone, and that person was also turned into a werewolf. The short timespan of action, around the full moon, explains why they didn't just slaughter everything. But the process of being turned into a werewolf is also symbolic of both a rape (in the initial attack) and a rebirth, so that symbollically links all werewolves by blood.

Given the primal spiritual aspect of the werewolf, then, perhaps the rage that they carry inside them is an expression of the first werewolf. And then, perhaps, theres some form of semi-reincarnation that occurs, as one werewolf is able to look back down the line at the spirits of the werewolves that have come before him, stretching back along the different branches of the werewolf family tree back to the first, big daddy werewolf.

...which then goes to explain why you, Mister or Missus Werewolf, are walking down the street some day when suddenly some guy dressed like a Scottish miner comes out of an alley and engages you in a conversation that only you can see and here.

In other words, not only does becoming a werewolf ruin your social life, it also turns you into a raging screwball. Well...more so than you'd be if you just turned into a towering, 7 foot tall man eating monster three days a month.

The end.

The Defenders of the Empire

I'm reading Bramn Stoker's Dracula at the moment. I read it years and years back, but I must have skipped over large sections because there are parts that I just don't remember reading (like Dracula climbing down the walls with his head facing the ground, like a squirrel or a lizard).

...and this leads into ramblings about a game setting I'm working on.

For those that don't know, I'm working on a DC Heroes RPG setting that I call "Defenders of the Empire". The setting is essentially an attempt to put late 19th century society into a 4-color comic perspective. There is, of course, the heavy influence from Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen on the general appearence of things, and I've been working on Victorian-era supertech for stuff like most houses having radio-like devices which I call tumbler boxes (which function via vibrations broadcast over cities that are picked up by crystal tumblers on the tops of peoples houses and transmitted to boxes which produce tinny radio-type stuff), or Victorian air forces that look like Victorian-styled WWI era aircraft.

There is, of course, the key team of the British Empire, who give the setting its name. They're basically the Justice League, complete with a leader who was found in a strange metal vessel in Stone Henge and can fly, is superstrong and invulnerable, and can shoot beams of heat from his eyes.

The setting also features reduxes of famous Victorian (and a few Edwardian, and one 1920s) characters, including John Carter (a telepath and astral projector who, despite being American, joined the Defenders of the Empire), Doctor Moreau (a super-villain who was forced to live in seclusion by a world that didn't understand his experiments), Dorian Gray (who's now more the setting's Vandal Savage than anything else), Ebenezer Scrooge (who's like Lex Luthor, with Bob Cratchett as his henchman), and Tarzan (as a travelling superhero, Tarzan being his codename).

One game that I'm going to be running for a friend is entitled "Jonathan Harker: Agent of Her Majesty", which postulates that the events of Dracula were a clever fiction to cover up the ACTUAL events. The actual events being that Her Majesty's Government has a division that handles supernatural threats to the Empire. Agent Harker and Agent Mina Murray are sent to Romania to stop a Count Dracula (who they know to be a vampire...which is about all they know, they've got a lot of theories on what a vampire is, and how to stop one, but no proof) from joining the Destroyer's of the Empire (the equivilant to the Injustice Gang).

As is obvious, the setting borrows heavily, and steals outright, from DC Comics. There's also a lot of homages to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Victorian-era literature, and a good deal of insanity to actually figure out how to smush people into rolls. There are also a lot of just plain made-up villains (Igor makes an appearence as a hunch backed super-scientist villain-for-hire) and heroes (the Imperial, a direct Superman reference), which make the setting amusing.

Comics and TV

I finished the second Sandman: Mystery Theater TPB yesterday. Beautiful stuff. While the art isn't Guy Davis (which is dissapointing, Davis' earlier stuff was a bit rough but still nice), it really fit quite nicley together, and there's a nice reconciling of Welsey Dodds' appearence. You can really see how his face would have evolved into the man that Jack Knight met in the Starman arc "Sand and Stars". The first story "The Face" was a nice, classic 30s crime story set in New York's Chinatown, complete with ridiculous prejudices on the parts of most of the characters. "The Brute" was a lot more...well brutal. There were a lot of plot twists, some nice, some not. I disliked the way one of the characters, who seemed initially quite nice and pure hearted, turned into the absolute lowest of scum...but that plot twist did what it was supposed to do, I was uncomfortable with it and didn't feel it was nessecary to the story.

Also finished the fourth Fables TPB a few days ago. Fables is a series that never ceases to amaze me. Whenever I think the writers have hit the top of how weird they can get with modern fairy tales and how cool the stories can be, they go one step further and just leave me gaping. I mean, considering that the first book is a murder mystery being investigated by the Big Bad Wolf, the second involves Goldilocks as a 1960s-70s era Californian Communist grad student, the third had conspiracy galore...and the fourth involves war with puppets. It sounds all so weird, which is initially what made me not buy the books in the first place, but once you get back the rather odd plot blurbs on the back, the books...gah. The art is fantastic, the plots are brilliant, the characterization is stunning, and it all just blends together so well that you're just taken aback by the genius of it all.

Additionally, I picked up the large, hardcover copy of Neil Gaiman's 1602 today. I haven't seen anything written by Gaiman, aside from the Death TPBs in years. I'm sure he's still been writing it, I just haven't been seeing it. I haven't had much of a chance to read the book yet, but the art's quite nice and the story is just amusing. I mean...Nick Fury as an agent of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I? Beautiful!

Lesse...movies. Well, I picked up the two Batman: Beyond DVDs last week ("Dissapearing Inque/Tech Wars" and "School Dayz/Spellbinder"). They had, collectivly, some of my favourite episodes on them (namely "Shriek" and "Splicers", though "Spellbinder" is good to), though the "School Dayz" story-arc is already included on the "Batman: Beyond, The Movie" disc. So I've been watching, and re-watching them, which has also caused me to rewatch my Batman: The Animated Series DVD collection, and my Justice League discs.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Mage LARP and food

Mage LARP tonight. I managed to stay in costume for nearly an hour or so, but after that I just had to take it off. I had trouble with hearing through the bandages, I had no peripheral vision, and I couldn't read my frickin character sheet with my sunglasses on.

It was a great, and quintessential Mage game. We got attacked by Technocrats, we dealt with spirits, we tried to solve problems, and we argued. A lot. We argued A LOT. Which was fun. I also got shot...with plasma. But Mind 1 creates a wonderful seratonin buzz, so that worked out all right in the end (after someone did some judicious healing on me). I also got a Paradox backlash that made my character dead on paper. Remember that scene from Hackers? The one that goes like: "You were enquiring about a Special Agent Richard Gill, sir? I'm sorry, but he's dead." "I'm WHAT???"

One of my best quotes of the night: "The New World Order. They're like a bunch of me's, only less obnoxious and less geeky."

Most amusing action: Trying to guilt a Technocrat into not shooting someone by projecting images of puppy dogs and Jesus into his mind to make him think of peace. He rebelled against the puppy dog images. Apparently Technocrats hate puppies. A true sign that they're all evil.

I also came up with a t-shirt slogan: "Everything I Know About Third Degree Burns I Learned From a Plasma Cannon". Mind the plasma cannons. They hurt. A lot. REALLY a lot.

There were also many sweets. One of the players brought a lot of food, from home made baklava and shortbread (dear god was it good shortbread), I brought macaroons, someone brought brownies...etc, etc, etc. I'm stuffed.