BashCon 2018
uncle_gnoll
BashCon 2018 came and went this past weekend. It was pretty low on the BashCon organizational cycle (which exists because no one on staff ever has more than three years of experience). The facility is still wonderful in any case, and I usually spend my time hanging out with people I already knew, anyway. I managed to get in two RPG games (one of which ran two sessions) and two board games, which may be some kind of record for me.

Got in an hour later than planned on Thursday night, but I hadn't been pushing since my primary Thursday plan (conversational meal with Toledo Denizen Jody D.) had already been cancelled, and the fog along the way was thick enough to be stressful. I had once again failed to acquire contact information for any of the other people I might see, so just checked in and drove off to IHOP for supper. Might have gotten in on a Crawlspace session that took place a hundred feet from my room, but then would have missed my best IHOP meal ever. Oh, well.

Friday I still had made no contact, so went to a movie (the most recent "Maze Runner"), and then rushed back to the room to complete the LAST installment of a Neopets thing that has been going on since September, wasn't available until 3:00 PM, and had to be done THAT DAY to get full credit. Ten minute game took five tries and two hours to finish (It was NOT a game you could dive back into immediately; you needed to take time out to breathe.). Headed over to the University of Toledo, got checked in almost instantly, spent some time in conversation with Toledo Denizen Bryan S., and then made contact with what seems to be called "The Perytons" for an RPG session.

The game was a wild west variant of "Stay Alive", which is itself a zombie focused contemporary variant of "Tunnels & Trolls". Designer Jerry T. used an actual railroad to railroad his herd of cats to the main challenge site, and THEN the Powers That Be chased us out of the hall an hour before the scheduled end time. We decided to attempt to finish the game the following evening.

My evening ended with a great conversational meal with Robin (the original Peryton) and Tom (Robin's husband and co-conspirator). We have known each other, on line at least, since I started hanging out on the Trollhalla board in mid-2008, and it is always good to spend time with them.

Saturday I made a half-hearted effort to get to Jerry's 10:00 AM game of "Circus Imperium", but fatigue and sanity won out. I staggered into the con noonish, got registered for the 2:00 PM "Circus", hung out, and played two rounds of a very cool prototype game called, "Mental Blocks", which was a lot of fun. I hope it comes out; I enjoyed it a great deal. "Circus Imperium" is a giant sized con presentation of an out of print chariot race board game that evolved from an attempt to game the pod races from "The Phantom Menace" that failed due to loss of rights. It was a pretty good game and a great presentation, though I had to wonder what it might have been like with "Formula De" style speed dice. (My brain never stops tampering with the rules.) Saturday evening saw the conclusion of the Jerry's dimension hopping wild west game, and a room party back at the hotel that was kept small by surprisingly heavy snowfall.

Sunday morning brought a D&D 2e session, again under the indefatigable Jerry T. It was the first time I had played that particular flavor of D&D, and with the largest gaming group: 11 players. It makes me wonder how EGG used to do it, in the old days, with 15 to 20. Still, it was a good group, and a good game. Jerry did a great job of keeping everything moving, and making sure the Big Bad was in range to be killed just before the clock ran out. The gang then migrated to a local Mexican restaurant for food, conversation, and post mortem (and a fair amount of GenCon planning); Tom and Robin were the last to hit the road, after which I considered hitting another movie, and instead just blodged. Eventually I revisited IHOP for the worst IHOP meal I had ever had, and went to bed early. On Monday, the fog came back to escort me home.

Uncle G'Noll

Game-Story Synergy
uncle_gnoll
I have been messing about with D&D for more than 40 years; I get drawn in by any number of cool things about the game, and then walk away when my level of irritation with other aspects of the game gets too high. I have invested significant time and money into most (but not all) of the game's several incarnations. The story below is a product of this process.

One of the main drivers of my D&D approach-avoidance cycle is the way the game deals with wizards. I HATE the original Jack Vance inspired slot-based magic system. And yet I am ALWAYS drawn to wizard characters, and the idea that wizards are primarility motivated by the desire to find and learn new spells appeals to me a great deal.

I pretty much avoided D&D during the 1990s, but when 3rd Ed. came out in 2000, I invested in it, and started to mess around, as I usually do, with the idea of a stand-alone character. D&D has NEVER been friendly to stand-alone characters; the earliest incarnations of the game assumed parties of a dozen or more. 3rd Ed. shifted this to a more reasonable default party of four or five., but it still left starting wizards pretty much unplayable as stand-alones. On the other hand, 3rd Ed. was REALLY friendly to the idea of multi-classing, and I started to play with the idea of a character that started out as a barbarian and then became a wizard.

Except... The narrative is flawed. The gap between the illiterate combat monster and the scholarly magic user is just too hard to bridge. Someone suggested that the narrative path from barbarian to sorcerer would be much more plausible, except that I didn't WANT a sorcerer, whose magic was pretty much inflicted by the universe, I wanted a wizard, who dredged his magic out of an unwilling universe by force of will. I mulled it over for a while, and then got distracted by something shiny, and the idea went dormant.

And then along came 5th Ed., and the magic system for wizards was just a bit less Vancian, and the process of multi-classing was even less painful, and the idea of building a character who started as a barbarian and then became a sorcerer and THEN became a wizard was narratively reasonable. It isn't an EFFICIENT process, and will likely drive the min-maxers crazy, but that has never been the way I have played, anyway. FIRST, you build the narrative, THEN you fire up the min-max engine. So it all works, and I REALLY like the result.

/////

She was born to fisherfolk in a small coastal village. Her parents had named her "Emerald", for her eyes, but she had never really taken to the name. It had always struck her as a name that evoked silk and porcelain, and she had known, from the time she was very young, that she was a creature of leather and steel. The itinerant soldier to whom she had gleefully surrendered her virginity had called her "Rusty", and she had taken the name to heart. A few months later, when she talked her way onto the crew or a trade ship, she had introduced herself as "Rust", and "Rust" she remained.

She proved to be a more than competent sailor; her childhood had taught her to "hand, reef, and steer", and she was fearless in the rigging. She also proved to be fearless in a fight; what she lacked in mass she more than made up in quickness and ferocity. She drifted from ship to ship, and eventually found a home among a crew of pirate hunters, who were only too glad to take on a rigging monkey who could also fight.

There came a day when she distinguished herself; bad luck had isolated her in combat with two enemies, and she had triumphed, AND been noticed doing so. At their next landfall, her crewmates had bought her every drink she wanted, and she had taken full advantage of the fact. She ended up in the company, and eventually the bed, of a charming stranger who shared her red hair and green eyes.

The next day she got sick. She spent several days in a near-paralytic haze of fevered hallucinations. Her shipmates took her to a local healer, and when it became clear that no one knew when, or if, she would recover, they left her belongings with the healers, and sailed away only slightly behind schedule.

She was different when she recovered. The first thing she noticed was that the texture of her skin had changed; she was nearly covered with extremely fine scales. They weren't obvious, except to the touch, but they were there. Over the course of a few days, she realized that there was a language in her head that had not been there before; she had to take thought, whenever she spoke, to make sure she was using her birth tongue, and not the other. She noticed that a casual doodle she had scratched in the dirt was a word, and a bit of experimentation showed that she could read and write the mystery language, even though she could NOT read and write her birth tongue. She asked the healers for advice, and they were baffled and more than a little afraid. They directed her to the local scholar, a wizard named Drellan who might be able to help.

She found the wizard and told him her troubles; he asked some questions, had her try a few mental exercises, and determined that she had become a sorcerer. Apparently one of her distant ancestors had been a dragon, and the knowledge she now had, and the powers that went with it, had been dormant in her, waiting for something to trigger them. The new language in her head was Draconic, a language that Drellan recognized but could not speak or read.

Rust wanted to know what she should do next; Drellan told her that he knew little of the sorcerer's path, but distrusted it. He explained the difference between a sorcerer and a wizard, and the reasons for his prejudices as fairly as he could, given that he was speaking through those very prejudices. Then he proposed a trade: He would take Rust on as an apprentice, and in exchange, she would teach him Draconic. Rust thought for a moment; she had no ship, she was still exhausted from her illness, and she had little money. She determined that "apprenticeship" would include room, board, and no duties she was unwilling to perform, and accepted.

/////

So here we have a barbarian becoming a sorcerer, and set on the path to becoming a wizard, without ever breaking the fourth wall or in any way addressing game mechanics. That is hard to do in RPG based stories...

Uncle Gnoll


Another Book Review
uncle_gnoll
And here we have another book review that is negative beyond what my conscience will allow me to circulate on a general basis. I have been aware of, and interested in, the setting of this book for some time, and a friendly acquaintance has been involved with it. When the novel came out, I was intrigued, but I am only reading about one text novel a year at this point, and gave it a pass. When it came out as an audio book I was much more interested, and planned to buy it at some point. Then I was offered a review copy, and I agreed to read and review it. As it happened, I was unable to collect the review copy, and chose to just buy the book anyway. I am rather glad of this, as I am certain the publisher wants nothing to do with the review below.
City of the Gods: Forgotten
by M. Scott Verne and Wynn Mercere, read by Christopher Thomson

An audio book is of necessity two things: an audio production, and a piece of prose. Both parts need to work reasonably well to produce worthwhile entertainment. In the case at hand...

My enjoyment of this book was impaired from the outset by the fact that this book uses different voices for each character, and employs sound effects. These techniques are popular with some consumers, but unfortunately I am not one of them; I find the effects distracting at best and annoying at worst. I found narrator Christopher Thomson's lower-middle-class British accent distracting as well; the narrator was a third person omniscient voice, and Thomson's accent simply had too much character. (A parallel for readers from North America: Imagine how jarring it would be if the narrator for a story set in New York City had a thick southern drawl for no good reason.)

When it comes to the prose, I found the novel to be significantly over-written, full of trivial details that were meant to inspire wonder but only produced boredom. On the other hand, I found the characters fairly engaging, and was intrigued by the plot. Or rather, I was intrigued by some of the plots; the novel attempts to juggle a romance, and a mystery, and a political thriller, and a military story all at once, and in the end is less than successful at all of them.

My favorite thread was the mystery, though as the story advanced, I began to suspect that I would be offended by the solution, and I was unfortunately correct. In a world that begins with the premise that all of the various gods of history exist and are valid, to then delare that one specific pantheon is supreme to all of the others if a betrayal of first principles, and I WAS offended when this proved to be the case.

I do not regret buying or consuming this book. This is not exactly a recommendation.

Paul Haynie
September 27, 2017

Dave Arneson's True Genius, by Robert J. Kuntz
uncle_gnoll
Dave Arneson's True Genius, by Robert J. Kuntz

(A review.)
Rob Kuntz's RPG pegigree is excellent. He was a more of less daily visitor to the Gygax household from the late '60s to the mid '70s; he participated in the seminal November, 1972 session at the Gygax house when Dave Arneson, game master, ran his original RPG for Gary Gygax and a few others; he was co-author of the original "Gods, Demigods, and Heroes" D&D supplement. One would think that his opinions on the history of RPGs would be significant.
In this self-published book, Kuntz makes a number of controversial assertions: That there was exactly ONE stroke of creative lightning that led to the commercial RPG; that that stoke of creative lightning struck Dave Arneson; that Arneson foresaw the myriad ramifications and possibilites of the RPG, and strove to produce them as part of his project; and that subsequent developments of RPGs in general, and Dungeons & Dragons in particular, have diminished the brilliance of Arneson's original vision.
Kuntz fails utterly to prove the first, third, and fourth assertions, and succeeds at the second only because it was already generally acknowledged as a conditional. That is, IF there was only one bolt of lightning, it DID strike Arneson, but there are generally held to have been three (Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and David Wesely are generally acknowledged to be the father, grandfather, and great-grandfather of D&D respectively.)
It is at least dimly possible that Kuntz is unaware of the failure of his arguments due to the truly epic opacity of his prose; he might not have noticed that his signal to noise ratio was near zero. When he is attempting to seem erudite, as in most of this volume, he fills labyrinthine sentence structures with crowds of slightly misused polysyllables. One does not so much read this book as translate it.
There is one passage of this book that is both clearly written and worth reading, at least for the student of RPG history. Five pages of the book are devoted to the events of the autumn of 1976, during which time Arneson, "Dungeon!" creator Dave Megarry, Kuntz's brother Terry, and Kuntz himself, resigned their positions with D&D publisher TSR.
This book's $19.95 cover price is not unreasonable for 72 pages at micro-press rates. It is a bit much for five pages of tolerable journalism and several dozen pages of essentially meaningless pompousity. I may buy a copy for my own library, but I freely admit to being obsessive.

August 21, 2017

Tiny Epic Quest Comments
uncle_gnoll

Now that I have played the game once, and THEN read the rules and carefully examined the pieces...

We missed a few things. First, in scoring, Legendary Weapons are worth four victory points each; this is listed on page 19, and at the bottom of the score card .  Second, you don't have to declare a quest when you start down a temple track. To the contrary, you can actually complete more than one quest at the same time; note the word "both" under the first bullet point under "Exploring Temples" on page 15 of the rules. Third, red goblins turn green immediately when a meeple passes through or enters their spaces. Fourth, meeple limits per space are all over the place: Only one in goblin portals, only two of different colors in a given temple, one of each color in grottoes or at obelisks, and no limit of any kind at castles. Fifth, you get the "Idling" bonus if you have at least one meeple in ANY castle, not just your own.

Finally, I made up the following, which has all of the hard to see details written out. Having a copy of this in circulation would make things MUCH easier, I think, since the castles and temples are easy to identify from any angle or any reasonable distance. (LiveJournal has mangled the line breaks; some reformatting will likely be needed, but it should all go on one page.)

*****

Tiny Epic Quest Location Details  

Blue Castle — Hydra Spell — Hydra 

Green Castle — Rabbit Spell — 4 

Red Castle — Bear Spell — 7 

Yellow Castle — Hawk Spell — 9  

Read more...Collapse )

Five Lortzian Games
uncle_gnoll
At Steve Lortz's memorial, mention was made of his involvement in gaming, but the speakers for the most part didn't understand just how central gaming was to his heart. It is worth mentioning that, on his last day on the street, the last thing he did before he collapsed was buy miniature figures. Here is a short description of his three published games, and of two that never quite got into print.

"Perilous Encounters" (Chaosium, 1978) - This was a straight up fantasy miniatures game, using only D6 and intended to play fast and easy. It became the Chaosium's unofficial house miniature game, and they offered a "Dragon Pass Conventions" supplement for the price of a SASE that filled in everything for the more peculiar creatures in Chaosium's world of Glorantha.

"Panzer Pranks" (Chaosium, 1980) - This was a hex grid based WWII tank game, intended as a parody of every other game of the type. There was a "swamp" scenario that usually ended with every single piece on the board sinking into the muck; there was an optional rule that allowed every piece on a side to transfer all of its movement points to a single piece (producing the occasional hypersonic tank), and a scenario involving a magic Coca-cola machine that made the US forces invincible as long as they were close enough.

"Quactica" (Skirmisher, 2008) - This was something of a second edition of Perilous Encounters, with a change of focus. Where PE was intended to present a generic fantasy world, Quactica presented a world full of anthropomorphic animals, particularly Steve's beloved ducks. There was talk of a Quactica RPG to follow, but it never materialized.

"Dark Worlds" (unpublished) - Sometime in 1978 or 1979, Steve's brother Kurt had the idea to base a role-playing game on the works of HP Lovecraft. Steve had ties to the Chaosium, and the Lortzes pitched the game there. Chaosium acquired the gaming rights to Lovecraft's works, and Kurt, with Steve and a group of friends, went to work on developing the game. Kurt built a game system from the ground up. When Kurt presented the game to Chaosium, they looked it over, and then asked Kurt to please convert the game to their established "Basic Role Playing" system. They also wanted Kurt to jigger the rules to make firearms less effective. Kurt gave it some thought, and refused. Chaosium then recruited Sandy Petersen, who turned the Lovecraft material into a game called, "Call of Cthulhu," which became a huge hit. There are interesting contrasts beween the two games, the basic mechanical changes notwithstanding. "CoC" models the fundamental despair of Lovecraft's work, with every player character descending slowly and inevitably into insanity. "DW", on the other hand, puts the players in the position of being the only truly sane characters in the game. Unspeakable evil is encroaching, and the players are the only ones who know it, or are capable of believing it. "DW" still feels a great deal like Lovecraft, but it also occasionally allows the players to actually WIN. It's interesting to speculate how different things might have been if Kurt had been able to work out a compromise with Chaosium. I have never believed that despair and inevitable loss was a necessary part of the appeal of "CoC".

"Arr! Scurvy Dogs" (unpublished) - This was a skirmish level pirate game developed with and for the gaming club that Steve ran when he was a teacher at Summit Academy in Indianapolis. Each player controlled eight or nine single character figures to accomplish specific ends. The basic game had three players: pirates, colonial military, and islanders. Each group had special abilities and unique victory conditions. It could be played with up to six players, with two conflicting pirate groups, two conflicting military groups, and two conflicting islander groups. Steve came up with many different scenarios over the years, and it generated a LOT of good stories; I got to play it once, at GenCon in 2008. Steve had a big case with all of the terrain and pre-painted figures for everything. He never actually wrote the rules down, for some reason, just the character sheets, and the necessary player materials. He seemed reluctant to let it get out of his hands, for some reason, which was a shame, because it was a GREAT game.

Uncle G'Noll

Hyena's RPG: The Shopping List
uncle_gnoll
So I am weaving an RPG out of 40 very odd years of scraps. Here is the design brief:

FAST, intuitive, NON-RANDOM character generation. I may throw in some random options for players who insist on the "play what the dice give you" ethic, but I will do it reluctantly. Material possessions will be handled by fiat, mostly. If it makes sense for characters to have something, they do; if not, not. (Think in terms of the ten minute set ups of OD&D and T&T.)

Fast, evocative, BLOODY combat. Combat should generate good stories, and terrify the players. Simplify weapons and armor down to irrelevance. (My model for combat is RuneQuest I/II.)

An internally consistent magic system that allows for a BIG range of character power. (GURPS is probably my main model, but there is input from all over the place.)

An economic system that I believe in, to whatever level of complexity is possible, when I get around to it. Everything will be based around the "historical minimum wage" of 1/10 ounce of 90% silver buys a day's unskilled labor (valid pretty continuously from 500 BCE to 1500CE...).

Game Design
uncle_gnoll
One of the things I have wanted for most of my adult life is to be involved in an on-going RPG campaign. Unfortunately, reality has gotten in the way. First, my schedule has generally been erratic and incompatible with pretty much everyone; second, I have seldom been at liberty to commit to more than about one game a month (and solid campaigns are most likely to be weekly); third, it is axiomatic that if you want to have a regular game, you ought to RUN that game, and I am a poor game master, and don't enjoy the process to get any better at it.

But this year I am going to try to change that. Maybe if I were a better GM, I WOULD enjoy it more. Maybe. It is time to find out. If I am going to become a better GM, I need to have a game that I REALLY like, and that means I need to compile forty years of RPG notes into something that resembles an original RPG. I have no intention of trying to publish the thing, so I am free to steal concepts indiscriminately. I think that there is a good chance that there is a decent game lurking under all of that fossilized rumination; we shall see.

(For those who want to avoid this kind of thing: Game blogs will be clearly labelled as "Game Blogs", just like this one.)

Uncle Gnoll

Cragspider the Conqueror
uncle_gnoll
One of the best gaming experineces I ever had took place during the winter of '76-'77, most likely during January of 1977, when I participated in (and eventually won) a five player game of "White Bear & Red Moon". If you aren't a game geek, and in particular a Glorantha geek, the rest of this won't mean much. Just sayin'.

For those who don't know, WB&RM is a hex grid fantasy war game that came out in 1975, largely because creator Greg Stafford hadn't encountered RPGs yet. The idea of playing an individual hero in a war game was pretty much in the air at the time, and while Arneson and Gygax got there first, they weren't the only runners in the race. WB&RM is evidence of that. The game was intended for two players, with a three player option; at its most basic it was a battalion-level medieval war game. But then you added giants and dragons and heroes and REALLY powerful magic, and it became something else altogether.

Our game was the brainchild of our host, Steve Lortz.He had two copies of the first edition of the game, and he selectively combined the countersets (with a few special handmade counters thrown into the mix) to make a five player game. The standard game featured the Lunar Empire in the northwest, and the Kingdom of Sartar in the southeast. The factory three player game added the Kingdom of Tarsh in the center of board. Steve added "The Conferation of the Four Hooves" in the southwest, and "The Outcasts of the Abandoned Lands" in the northeast. Guess where *I* planted my flag?

The multitude of independant forces in the orignal game were all assigned to one faction or another, reinforced with duplicate counters as seemed appropriate. Tarsh was bolstered with the Dragonewts and Delecti the Necromancer and his zombies (and the first edition zombie rules were SICK); I think a King of Tarsh token was created (though Delecti may have been declared king instead), and the Inhuman King was promoted to superhero. The Four Hooves consisted of the Black Horse Troop, the Grazelanders, and the Beast Men. The Feathered Horse Queen ruled, and Ironhoof (I think) was made a superhero. The Outcasts got Cragspider as queen, Androgeus as superhero, the Dwarf, the giants, the Tusk Riders, and the Walktapi (who spent most the of the game fighting each other, and multiplying thereby).

Steve did a bit of advance role-play by producing a typewritten policy statement to the extent that the Lunar Empire would make no aggressive move, but would annihilate anyone that moved against it, written in wonderfully pompous and florid prose. The game began at about 6:00 PM.

The Hoofers set up on the Lunar border; everyone else hunkered down to see what would develop. The outlying Dragonewt cities died quickly, since no one wanted them in their back yards; the Inhuman King sacriced the troops in the Dragon's Eye to Delecti every turn (creating a HUGE zombie army very quickly); the walktapi tore each other apart (or was it a mating dance?) in the Dwarf Run. The Hoofers crossed the Lunar border, and Steve (as the Lunar Emperor) waved his position paper in the other players face, theatened annihilation... and the other player retreated and marched his troops south and east to attack Sartar. A genuine battle eventually took place along the Sartar border, and the Tarshites eventually went walkatpus hunting. Steve and his Lunars stayed behind their borders and watched, thought the Tarshites sent enough forays that way to keep the Crimson Bat fed.

As this was going on, Steve's sainted mother brought out a meal every two hours or so. That was kind of amazing.

I practiced some kind of weird persuasion on the Hoofer player; I used the black dragon to fly my biggest giant into a ruin in the Grazelands, and convinced the Hoofers to leave him un-molested. I have no idea what I said; given that I was bound by a real-world vow of truth at the time, it must have been interesting. I also convinced him to launch the Hound of Darkness across the zombie hoard, where Keener Than (in my control) could catch him. Each pass reduced the zombies by 50%, and eventually we killed Delecti (and *I* ended up in possession of the Hound...).

Once Delecti was dead, I made my move. Cragspider hit the Dragon's Eye with the Pillar of Fire, and Tusk Riders rushed in to defend the ashes. Trolls marched into Boldhome, which had been left unguarded, and that wandering giant strolled into the similarly unguarded Queen's Post. Suddenly three players had two turns each to dislodge my troops from their respective capitals or surrender any units not stacked with their superheroes. The Sartar player shocked everyone by surrendering outright. The Tarshites and the Hoofers blustered a bit, looked at the time (about 6:00 AM) and conceded that I had won the game without surrendering their positions. Steve laughed a lot. We packed up, and went home to bed.

It's all impossibly non-canonical, for many, many reasons. But still, in some obscure corner of the multiverse, there was at least one moment when Cragspider the Firewitch was the undisputed Queen of Dragon Pass, and her commanding general began an affinity with trolls and orcs and gnolls and, well, monsters that is still going strong 38 years later.

Uncle Gnoll

BashCon 2014
uncle_gnoll
BashCon XXIX was this last weekend, and I have now attended three times in a row. This is turning into my favorite con. The facility is great, the size is about perfect for me, and I know just enough of the regulars to make it comfortable.

I had trouble getting out of the house on Friday morning, actually failing to make it in the morning at all. I arrived at the con an hour after Tom Loney's traditional Friday night T&T game started, and I opted to not try to insinuate myself into the game in favor of socializing with some friends I had made the previous year and crashing early for a good night's sleep. The socializing went well, the early night not so much. But then, I have always had a REALLY hard time walking away from conversation.

On Saturday I ended up playing in three different Peryton Publishing games, run in turns by PeryPub's owners. First, Tom Loney ran a play test of his "Glow" post apocalyptic T&T descendant; I played an android art historian (No, really.) in the company of two four-eyed mutant animals. We bypassed a couple of Tom's traps by virtue of the usual combination of cleverness and paranoia (WHY have you been carrying a bicycle on your back for fifty miles, and we didn't NOTICE it?), and generally had a good time. We also, apparently, burned up our daily ration of cleverness before noon.

After lunch, four of us took on Robin Lea and "Qalidar: Resistance", a contemporary techno-fantasy in which the players try to discourage trans-dimensional corporations from exploiting a hole in the universe and making things worse. We cleverly avoided a few opportunities to question friendly locals in favor of bluffing our way into the local Corp building, mugging a guard, failing to hack the computer with magic, and getting trapped in a storage closet with heavily armed hostiles waiting to ambush us outside the door. At that point, apparently, the stupid pills wore off, and we were able to escape without leaving any friendly bodies behind. We did kill a completely innocent forklift, though...

After a supper break, Tom ran another player and me through a session of his "Crawlspace 13" game, in this case a Hammer Films inspired vampire scenario. I played a Van Helsing analog, and somehow found myself playing the character in the "Igor" voice: Upper class English, singsong, with a SEVERE lisp. I lisped my way through words the human tongue was never meant to lisp, and the table had a great deal of fun with it. This was good, because I REALLY botched the scenario, accidentally trapping the vampire INSIDE the boarding house when I sealed the apertures. Most of the NPCs died, and the vampire ran off with the sweet young thing. Oops.

Anyway: Not enough sleep, lots of good gaming, and lots of good conversation. Kwai Chang the Dragon Caine (think about it) was a big hit; I got stopped and complimented on him several times. Shout outs to Trollhalla denizen Jerry T. and his son Liam, and to Bryan S. and Jody S., in addition to the aforementioned Tom and Robin, for making it a great time.

Uncle Hyena (who is also G'Noll in some universes)

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