Friday, May 15, 2020


this is actually about my perception of the primary difference between B/Xish games and Storygames

It’s no small secret I dislike the label OSR, and not just because of loud fascist shit-fucks. Old School Renaissance describes basically none of why I like those games. Simplicity, modularity, broad cross compatibility, none of that really sprung from the bloated minds of Gygax, et al.

In fact, I find Gygax to be a thoroughly mediocre game designer, but that’s not really the point of this.

(Also there’s I reason I turned comments off on this blog, and a big part of that is because I like writing vaguely B/Xish rpg content sometimes. That draws a shitty crowd. Full stop. Before somebody decides to tell me they’ve had a very different OSR experience, I don’t fucking care. People who shout “OSR!” the loudest [and lets be real Gary Gygax stans] tend to be right wing assholes of the worst types.)

Anyway, the thing I actually love most of all about OSRish games is that most every design choice grants primacy to the imagined physical space. Even the “rulings not rules” folkways of the scene support that. The freedom of action it gives you as a player, to know that you’re gonna get reasonable outcomes from manipulating the imagined environment. That’s the ticket.

(The creativity this encourages still astounds me; there was this dance battle with the orc tribes in the Caves of Chaos, and it was just sublime, omgolly. Fucking rad af. I get to be in that campaign tomorrow, yay! Long way from the caves though… well those caves.)

From my limited experience with story games, it seems like rather than physicality, specific narrative structures (often genre tropes) are granted primacy in all aspects of design. That’s not bad; I just don’t like it.

It kinda ties into how I don’t really like Monsterhearts (as a system)* for exactly the same reason I entirely dislike 3.x/Pathfinder. In both games, the only way to affect your roll is to know the system. System Mastery is the only Player Skill that’s rewarded. Meh…

I want to pretend to be a fuckup in an imagined space, thing that get in the way of this, I don't like.

So I’d much rather play Labyrinth Lord so I can be the smol, pink, and evil pegasus, that I need to be.

*I positively adore the particular campaign I’m in, and I do like the XP system. However, until I finally grokked the system well enough, I basically hated making a die roll. The way information is presented in that book is very difficult for me to parse, and parsing that system is super necessary.

In contrast, some of the best players I’ve played with got no fucking clue how Hit Dice or THAC0 or any that shit works. Yet, they can tell me their plan, and I can let them know what die to roll. Creative problem solving is the name of the game, and granted heavy bonuses by me and other (subjectively) good GMs.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

self indulgent character backstory

to make sure no one accuses me of being OSR again, this is my Troika! Longshot City character's back story ;]
(I rolled new hero takes up the mantle on the oh fuck your superhero is dead now or w/e chart so Burning Sage 2.0.)


Kay Humfort, the Original Burning Sage

Stephanie Potnick, Burning Sage 2.0

Her fist fell like a hammer from heaven. The future senator on top of me went limp. His hand slid off my mouth, but I couldn’t scream. I just kept choking on the memory.

Kay Humfort, my former Organic Chem TA, pulled me out from beneath him, and into the fiercest hug I’ve ever felt.

“I’m here,” she whispered into my ear.

Then she apologized, and kicked him in the stomach until I managed pull her away.

“I’m sorry, Steph,” she slurred. “None of it means anything.”

Kay gestured broadly with the half empty beer mug she’d somehow held onto.

I didn’t know what to do. My crush become hero was too drunk to stand. So much had happened in the last 10 minutes. I sent one shaky hand towards hers.

She gripped my hand with a smile before dropping the mug with a giggle.

“Let’s get you home, young lady.”

We sat on a bench for 10 or 20 long minutes. She never let go of my hand until she sat me in a cab.

“None of it means nothing, Steph. I tried... really… believe that, but, but I don’t. I think it can be better.”

She kissed me on the forehead.

“I think it can be better, Steph,” she said with closed eyes and a tilted head.

I was 16.

I was 16 years old.

My parents still pushed me into college classes. The stress pushed me into drinking. The trauma pushed me into self destruction.

Three years later, I saw her gunned down on live TV. She was only a few blocks away.

She held a burning torch, and fought a police robot. A fucking robot firing automatic weapons in a crowded downtown area!

I think she shouted, “I’m here!” shortly before she was gunned down. It’s was hard to make out. The feed got cut, and the tapes destroyed.

She’d renamed herself Burning Sage and wore a daisy as an eyepatch, but it was Kay. I’d been following her, and slowly piecing together the good she was trying to do beneath all the chaos she caused.

Then she died while I watched. I could hear the gunshots, echoed on TV.

Kay was there, and now she is not.

So I’m going to try to be there, Kay.

Like a hammer out of heaven, I will be there.

– Burning Sage 2.0

Saturday, March 28, 2020

She drove here from Mars, and she’s in charge now.

 a life inspired background for Troika! the other world's favorite rpg... 

Mars is over now. Mars was really just bullshit anyway. You’re over it.

You’re so over it, you drove your beautiful, but otherwise mundane car all the way here. It was a masterfully commanding, dramatic, and completely surreal moment. You’re not sure exactly what the fuck happened, tbh.

What you *are* sure of is that you are NOT going to be told what to do anymore. You’re in goddamned charge, now.

Cute Top
Those Gloves She Said You’d Never Pull Off, Fuck You Jessica
Your Favorite Jeans
Your Softest Hoodie
Comfortable Shoes
Your Beautiful, But Otherwise Mundane Car ½ Tank of Gas
Keys to a Life You Left Behind
Cute Keychain
Diamond Ring

Advanced Skills
3 Boss
2 Drive
1 Art (Player’s Choice)
1 Throw Hands

screenshot taken a few moments after I decided to write this background

Friday, January 24, 2020

I'm going to pretend to be a pony tomorrow (GM willing of course)

I like Cozy Glow's whole deal. Small, adorable, evil as fuuuuck. HER FACE IS SO CUTE!

So anyway, if it's cool w/ Nick, I'm going to play as Cozy Glow, a character from My Little Pony, in a Labyrinth Lord game tomorrow morning.

This is the Class, because there needs to be more manipulative, tiny, villainous, saccharine Pegasi out there in the world, ya know?

 Cute-Evil, Little Pegasus  for succinct fantasy role playing games with saving throws and the usual six stats, you know the ones.

Description, so like, you are sooo cute, and adorable and gosh, gee, golly. Your very friendly as well, attentive to your friends. You're oh so thoughtful with gifts, and pretty clever. You're also more evil than sin.

It's just so much easier to get people to do what you want when they're your friends.

 Game Words 

Max Level: 10
Primary Stat: CHA
Hit Die: d4
Attack: as Wizard or w/e
Advance: as Wizard
Saves: as Thief
Special Business: 1. You can Fly, unless your wings get like broken. 2. You have a 50% skill in eavesdropping. This goes up by 5% with each additional Level. 3. You are like 13 years old, and a small, small little pegasus. Your Strength has a -4 Penalty. 4. You are small, small little pegasus child. You sure are cute! and nonthreatening! +1 to Reaction Rolls. 5. You are so cute!

 End of Gamewords. 


Also, my RPG book about Permian Era critters is very much inspired by My Little Pony. There are more Dimetrodons, though. So that's a thing.

Very Pretty Paleozoic Pals, currently close to funding on Kick Starter. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Concerning the Church of God-most-Censorious

Symbol of God-most-Censorious:  the Scepter of Divine Authority crossed by the Censorious Eye Unblinking.
It can be represented several ways.

Brethren, hear me. So long as there is man so too shall there be sin, so too must God keep his steadfast Censorious (Blessed) Eye cast upon us! And still shall death be meted upon us…

In each moment, hold tight the reins of your lustful eyes, withdraw your wronging hands, and keep watch upon your disgusting souls! Come to your graves as clean as you can, and God may grant you mercy. A dreaming hereafter rather than the other, behind, burning ice forever screaming.

Let us pray. (See us. Have Mercy!)
    -- Supreme Inquisitor Twale the Elder from Greater Sermons vol II

At its most basic level, the Church teaches one simple lesson:

Evil is human : human is evil.

There is no salvation, merely mercy. Men cannot be good. The abayence of evil is all we might strive toward.

Should the weight of your sin outweigh the heft your restraint, a damnation of burning ice and unending screams awaits you. Should your restraint have tipped the scales instead, a long and Dreaming afterlife will be yours. 

Praise God-most-Censorious, in his limited mercy.

Unsurprisingly, the Church is hierarchical in nature.

Of all the teeming masses of living men, only one man approaches actual morality, the Supreme Inquisitor.

He¬ alone may hear the will of God-most-Censorious.

He whispers God's will to the Inquisitor Generals.

The Generals relay the words of God unto Inquisitorial staff. Then through the Byzantine and circuitous hierarchy of subordinates is the message given to the Speakers. And they then speak truths to the people.

From separate traditions, three further types of Holy Orders serve beneath the Yoke of Eyes.

Brother-Monks practice flagellant asceticism. They are visible abeyance to please the Eye of God.

Sister-Nuns perform the duties of women who have abandoned their post. Functionally, this amounts to running orphanages and feeding the poor.

Mendicant Friars encourage charity wheresoever they roam. Both sexes are accepted into these orders.¬¬

Most terrible of all, God-most-Censorious heard him and answered. Cleansing is His great mercy.

¬ Always a man. God's a man. Men must be in charge. Blah, blah blah. Patriarchal bastards that they are.
¬¬ Most major Heresies originate amongst the Friars.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Pretender of Wyrms

A new player character class for succinct fantasy games with saving throws and the usual six stats. You know the ones...

The folk of the village sometimes go strange. It comes in the wet season, when the dung in the cobb becomes noisome, and the crickets in unison scream. 

A man who's scarce touched a silver penny might mutter to his daughter about stolen gold and sharpen his teeth. A beloved aunt may begin to eat naught but the tails of newts and press fish scales into her skin.

When they steal sail cloth, blankets, and the like, rapid deterioration ensues. Soon the sad, quixotic soul slides into relentless delusion. They'll sew and tie together the crude likeness of a dragon and believe themself the beast. For teeth, they keep knives and get frightful good with them; dragons have to bite.

They don't breathe fire, but they sure got it in them wide, unfocused eyes. Terrible flames.

Advance, Hit Dice, and Saves as Fighter.

Fearsome Teeth - When wielding two knives or daggers, the Pretender of Wyrms attacks as though a fighter one level higher and does damage as a longsword. Fearless, certain, and quick.

When wielding anything else, they attack as a level 1 mage. 

Disconcerting Presence - Subjects with hostile or angry reactions toward the subject, must make a morale check or be overcome with fear (not necessarily flee, but be loathe to touch or move near to the Pretender of Wyrms). O they don't move quite right, too hunched and lurching/ dear gods the sounds they make/ the terrible earnestness of their demeanor.

  • If your campaign has carousing rules for bonus XP, Pretenders of Wyrms may instead hide their loot in a trap-guarded lair.
  • Pretenders of Wyrms should start play with 1d6+1 knives, a crude dragon costume, and an insatiable thirst for gold, silver, gems, fine silks, and colorful tapestries.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Playtest #5 --- SkipJunkies][MeatRunners

Meth Bribery: fortunately this guy hates Tim / Drugs / A well executed ℞obbery / Doing Drugs and Making Mistakes and Making more Drugs.

Character -][- Player
Ted Teddy -][- Angus
Shiny Bright -][- Evlyn
Paw Graw -][- Ian
Skuzz -][- CK
Philomena Burroughs -][- Fiona

So far they've only been to BioSpace (aka the Infinimeat), and the City State of Entrada pictured above.

  • It began out in front of the Infinimeat COffice, everyone from before (Ted, Shiny, Philomena) just got paid. Philomena knew Skuzz, and Skuzz just got off a failed Meatrun with Paw Graw.
  • They all decided to go through with the pharmacy robbing plan, and just barely caught the tattooed pharm-tech getting off work on this, the next day.
  • I rolled “irreverent” on the disposition chart b/c I dunno what kinda day this dude had. He’s into the free meth they’re offering. E’rybody rolls on over to the Büket O Blüd, which is Hugo’s scene to a T. (Hugo = the Pharm Tech)
  • Philomena talked Hugo into slipping them a hated coworkers’ keys. He agreed and told ‘em to buy a bottle of cough syrup 1st thing tomorrow morning.
  • A whole shitload of X was purchased and consumed.
  • They spent the evening and some of the night in the spacer district at The Cancellation Machine, a droning goth club.
  • Heron and Opiates and through scrounging, the ingredients for Purple Drank were obtained.
  • They crashed at Tambry’s place, and went to grab the key card first thing in the morning. Skuzz asked a question of an employee to guarantee the Philomena’s successful palming of the poorly hid key card.
  • LATER... At 3 am, after everyone got a hippy scarf (personally select by Tambry) to hide their faces, and they headed to the closed pharmacy.
  • Philomena went in the front and managed to scrounge the Alarm code from a note by the register, before it went off. She then let everyone in through the back.
  • The junkies got professional all of a sudden.
  • Shiny rolled in and spray painted every visible camera and the spots she thought there were pin cams. Then stood lookout w/ a lazer piztol.
  • Philomena directed the plunder while Skuzz popped open all the prescription cubbies with Ted’s magnet.
  • Meanwhile, Paw Graw expertly opened all the OTC cough syrup locks, and Ted tossed ‘em all into a sack.
  • Shiny spraypainted a heart on the floor, on the way out, and they absconded with the loot.
  • Tambry was grateful but withdrew into her room.
  • Lots of drugs were manufactured and done. Philomena and Paw freaked out after pushing past tolerance. Shiny and Ted ODed, but survived.
  • Skuzz cobbled together an improvised retort and cooked up a distillate from those narcwhal parts they gang kept. He probably burnt it, but the substance seemed to have some psychoactive effect. Started the process again, but with far more success.

Now I gotta write up a simple, consistent way to determine type of drugz and #bags each dealer has available.

Maybe they’ll eventually take a skip job.

I also need to work out biological and cybernetic enhancements.

Finally, I've decided to make drugs count for XP only upon doing them, or selling them.

(Formerly, just obtaining the drugs got you the XP, but keeping track of drugs you've taken vs obtained and did you get the XP, and do all of them get doubled, o wait did I get these xp from this one... blech.)