Monday, December 29, 2008

Grappling and Other Fancy Combat Maneuvers

(I think I've finally figured grappling out to my satisfaction. Aside from the part where I wonder if these rules are needed at all, that is. Your thoughts are welcome.)

When you make an Attack or Saving Throw it can be described any way you want, but the only mechanical effects are those told by the dice: You may well be a whirlwind of flashing steel slicing through enemy necks. You might escape death by inches, turning aside a killing spear thrust with the force of your chic chi parasol. And when it comes to the slingshot you may as well have ten thumbs and astigmatism for all your luck hitting the broad side of a battle cruiser. But in game terms that just means that your sword hit for 10 points of damage; you saved for half damage, and your sling bullet missed.

If you want more lasting mechanical effects, you can try combining your Attack or Save rolls with other abilities: A Psi-Knight might combine a Melee Attack with Command Matter in an attempt to disarm his opponent. A Doxy might Seduce a foe into Saving her by Throwing himself in front of a charging rhinoceratops -- if she makes her Seduce and Saving Throw her victim takes the damage.

One case of this is grappling, submission holds, wrestling throws and so forth. You start a grapple by stating your intention to restrain your opponent, then rolling a Melee Attack* combined with a Feat roll. If your Attack roll fails there is no grapple. If both Attack and Feat roll are successful you have grabbed hold of your foe! The foe gets to defend with an opposed Feat roll, which doubles as a Saving Throw for purposes of damage.

If both grapplers make Lesser Feat rolls they cancel each other out in the struggle for dominance, but the better success (lower roll) can make an unarmed Melee Attack on the other. The Feat roll still doubles as a Saving Throw.

If both grapplers fail Lesser Feat rolls neither can make an Attack roll but either can choose to step out of the grapple and flee, resume normal melee, etc.

If one attacker succeeds at a Lesser Feat and the other fails, he can immobilize his opponent or make an unarmed Melee Attack. If he was previously immobilized he can break his opponent's hold. In all cases, if grappling continues he gets to subtract his Strength score from next round's Feat roll.

If either combatant rolls a Great Feat they may automatically hit with a melee attack (no roll needed) or perform a more spectacular maneuver such as a body slam, suplex, throw, etc. This is based on the character's stated intention at the beginning of the round. If they haven't stated a special combat move they may only take the automatic melee attack. JM adjudicates the results, especially in cases where both fighters make a Great Feat roll.

Creative fighters may find other abilities such as Sneak Attack, Sneak, etc useful in grappling but that is up to the player to suggest and JM to adjudicate.

* OK, smart guy, or a Missile Attack for those of you armed with lassos, bola constrictors, rubberband lazers, etc.

Monday, December 22, 2008

777 Gods of Vanth

Conventional wisdom holds that God City is so called because the Vulkins who opened Vanth to Galactic commerce posed as angels and divine beings in their dealings with the benighted natives. "Technology came to Vanth when the Vulkin Star Empire established a starport there to begin trading, but they were careful to present themselves as supernatural visitors from the heavens, and the starport is known as God City," writes Henry Riley in the Vanthian history Encounter Critical.

However, as Riley goes on to note, "nobody really believes God City is the home of 'angels' anymore." Yet the name persists. One reason for this must surely be the influence of the Institute for Deist, Immortalistic, Omniscientific and Theological Studies -- the IDIOTS. Founded during the height of Galactic trade with Vanth, the Institute sent exploring scholars to gather sacred texts and relics from across the face of Vanth. In so doing the Institute itself became a place of pilgrimage for both the devious and the devout, who sought in equal numbers to con and to convert the scholars. In due time an entire temple district sprang up, centered on the IDIOTS, such that 777 gods are said to live in God City.

It's my hope to compile a list of all of these gods in their hundredfold glory, beginning with the few below. I welcome any contributions my readers might have in the field of Vanthian religious studies as well. Please post any information on gods, demigods, godlings, Great Old Ones, sentient AIs, genius loci, legendary heroes and household saints in the comments and I will compile them in a master list.

1. Arugulon, The Green Giant.
2. Bongo
3. The Century Toad, who dwells in the hollow core of Vanth, or so some say (cf. Great Writhing Wormhole).
4. Conical Lint Creature, the Sleeper in the Darkness Beneath the Bed.
5. Count Worbinu, god of vampires and vorvons.
6. Esquivel
7. The Great Writhing Wormhole, the howling space-time vortex said to dance mindlessly at the center of Vanth. Placated by its worshippers with horrifying rituals of jazz flute. Repudiated by the followers of the Century Toad (cf.)
8. Hodgmozandias, Who Invents All Facts and Despairs. Patron saint of encyclopedeists, trivialiers, and liars.
9. Huron the Oathsome, barbarian godling.
10. Jubilex the Squishy
11. Phlugg
12. Smelt, War God of the Deep, He Who Came From Beyond the Stars to Spawn in the Sea; rogue klengon fish god.
13. Sun Ra and his Myth-Science Arkestra.
14. Manos, The Hand or Hands of Fate (see footnote in Comments section below).
15. TX-47 Beta, prototype Artificial Omniscience.
16. Voola & Kinos, the ur-vulkins. Though revered, the First Mother and First Father are not worshipped by more than a handful of defiantly illogical vulkins. Most vulkins regard them as a foundational myth rather than historical figures. However, several cargo cults centered on the pair sprang up in the wake of the Vulkin Star Empire's first contact with savage Vanth.
17. Zabu the Immodest
18. ZZZy, the Penultimate God.
19. Kitt Hatare, goddess of cats and temptation [Peace be upon her]
20. The Dude, He Who...well, surely you know.
21. Xagyg the Trickster (about whom see comment below)
22. The Egg of Coot, "...a giant thickly hided egg, pure energy....that...carries out its activities through the use of surrogates which it controls or has programmed." Scholars vehemently deny that Xagyg and the Egg are one and the same, though it is acknowledged that their sects overlap.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Watch out all you rock an' rollers...

Some news and notes...You'll probably have noticed two new faces by now. We've had some changes to our roster, with two new players joining us! Tavis will be playing the warrior Thorax, and Jonathan will run Oolak, apish Psi-Knight. Welcome aboard fellas!

Sadly, Dr Rotwang has left the game, overburdened as he is with running PbEM games at work and workshopping new stand-up routines. I mock him out of love; Quazarn and his antics will be missed.

In general news, I've added blog post and comment feed links to the sidebar, which make for a handy way to keep up with the game. That said, at the moment we have a player with a busted internet connection and another moving, and the looming holidays as well. Understandable if posting is a bit light over the next week or two. Spare a post when you can, and Bog bless you, every one!

Oolak, Level 1

Player’s Name: Jonathan

Character: Oolak
Class: Galactic Knight Apprentice aka Psi Witch
Current Level: 1
Race: Planetary Ape – Mutated (2)
Mutations: Crinkly Skin; Magic Birthmark Companion

ADA: 7
DEX: 13
ESP: 17
INT: 7
LEA: 7
LUC: 10
MAG: 10
ROB: 11
STR: 9

Hit Points: 12

Missile Damage Bonus: +2

Lbs. of Psychic Force: 1


Alchemist: 19%
Appease: 38%
Argue: 34%
Blind Attack: 34%
Camping: 23%
Clue: 19%
Command: 59%
Command Energy: 53%
Command Matter: 52%
Conjure: 3%
Consume Alien: 3%
Crowd Manipulate: 35%
Enrich: 19%
Ensorcel: 74%
Experience Bonus: 2%
Great Feat: 13%
Guard: 53%
Happenstance: 21%
Invisibility: 49%
Labor: 70%
Lesser Feat: 61%
Logic: 49%
Machine Friend: 28%
Magical Attack: 23%
Meld: 50%
Melee Attack: 45%
Missile Attack: 64%
Mistaken Identity: 13%
Monster Friend: 24%
Psi Resist: 37%
Psychic Implant: 47%
Read Minds: 51%
Restore Courage: 40%
Saving Throw: 51%
Scholarship: 19%
Seduce: 20%
See the Future: 8%
Sneak: 45%
Sneak Attack: 48%
Steal: 23%
Survival: 40%
Unpleasant Order: 50%


Dagger Damage: 1-4 Range: ½” Scare: 17%
Mace, Greater Damage: 1-6 Range: 1-1/2” Scare: 31%


Small Bow Damage: 1-6 Short: 9” Long: 45” Minus: 6%


Gold Credits: 103

Wilderness Garb, Utility Belt with Pouches, Canteen, 60’ Rope, Lantern, Camping Gear, 1 Week Rations

Thorax, Level 1

Name: Thorax
Race: Human
Class: Warrior
Level: 1

Mutations: Cranial Feelers

ADA: 13
DEX: 12
ESP: 9
INT: 7
LEA: 8
LUC: 13
MAG: 4
ROB: 14
STR: 18

HP: 16
Melee Damage +8
Missile Damage: +2
XP: 50
Bare Hands Damage: 1-6
GCs: 0

Alchemist: 8%
Appease: 56%
Argue: 34%
Camping: 63%
Clue: 29%
Command: 41%
Command Energy: 18%
Command Matter: 14%
Conjure: -3%
Consume Alien: 10%
Crowd Manipulate: 16%
Enrich: 24%
Ensorcel: 15%
Experience Bonus: 1%
Great Feat: 41%
Guard: 69%
Happenstance: 28%
Invisibility: 78%
Labor: 92%
Lesser Feat: 100%
Logic: 35%
Machine Friend: 40%
Magical Attack: 6%
Melee Attack: 111%
Missile Attack: 59%
Mistaken Identity: 16%
Monster Friend: 10%
PSI Resist: 10%
Psychic Implant: 7%
Read Minds: 20%
Restore Courage: 21%
Saving Throw: 18% (28% save by shield)
Scholarship: -1%
Seduce: 0%
See the Future: 2%
Sneak: 20%
Sneak Attack: 42%
Steal: 19%
Survival: 42%
Unpleasant Order: 70%

EQUIPMENT: Dual-Bladed Psi-Knight Saber Hilt (broken, used as black hole metal club), wilderness gear (too small), modern grenade, iron-shod shield.

INOPERABLE EQUIPMENT: power lighter, witch indicator, self-adjusting trephanation kit, pan-species prophylactic.

Dual-Bladed Psi-Knight Saber Hilt stats: DAMAGE: 2-12; RANGE 1"; SCARE 28%
Modern Grenade stats: DAMAGE: 1-12; RANGE hurl; -10% per 1”


ESCAPED FROM THE RADIUM MINES OF THE NETHERWORLD! Inside, where no one can see, Thorax sheds a tear for his parents. Alas, Mandible and Ovipositor were too afraid of the Great Sky Light to join him in his desperate break for freedom. But they taught their son well: always tell the truth, obey the insectile overlords, call all men brothers despite whatever hideous mutations the glowing ore has blessed them with. Someday, Thorax will re-enter the cracks in the mountains near God City from which he crawled into the light, and he will set his people free.

TAUGHT BY THE GREATEST OF PSI-KNIGHTS! Thorax always knew he wanted more than the waxy but filling scrapings from an overlord's dermal gland. But he had no idea what more there was to want until Razbap, Mind-Master of the Dual Blades, crashed down from the surface world through the roof of a mine tailing chamber. The fall sorely injured the mighty knight, who ordered the amazed Thorax to keep his distance lest he be consumed by the psionic transference of pain. The young slave took every opportunity to return to the chamber and learn from the crippled master. He eagerly absorbed the lore of the surface world, the potent tricks of the psi-knights, and most eagerly of all the seven highly effective routes to stimulate female desire. He learned, too, to weave his cranial feelers into his dreadlocks and pass for normal. Eventually the day came when Razbap had nothing more to teach his student, and bid him climb towards the light. Thorax refused to go without the wounded psi-knight--only to discover that all this time, nothing truly remained of Razbap but a pile of his clothing and gear. Thorax had been instructed… from beyond the grave!

BROKE AND DESPERATE! Thorax has no gold credits to his name. Shortly after emerging, blinking, into the world under the sky he was accosted by a group of ruffians who insisted that he repay them a large sum of said credits. This case of mistaken identity, brought about by Thorax's having donned Razbap's characteristic gear, thoroughly confused the ruffians (especially as they noted that the clothes were obviously the wrong size for the hulking human). Thorax was similarly confused by the persistence of these aggressors in not yielding to his mental dominance. Eventually the situation degenerated into violence, to the great relief of all involved. Thrashing the thugs reassured Thorax a great deal, but the truth is that he hasn't eaten for days and is beginning to realize how thoroughly he is out of his element.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Brawl: Thugs to the Left of Us, Bruisers to the Right...

...Here We are, Stuck in the Middle Again

Buck and Zarko don't have much time to gloat over the fallen giant, and Creature's thirst goes unquenched. Their crew of fighters is hemmed in on all sides by some of the meanest looking hombres left in the arena. Bob the Fighter, Leeplo the Man-Frog and Schleppy the Tote-Golem have fallen, along with most of the new recruits who joined you overnight.

Buck, Zarko, Creature and Hobson stand back to back in a shrinking ring of fighters. Suddenly there's a break in the gauntlet! Brawlers are flung aside as a new challenger barrels through the line. He's either a stretched dwarf or a squashed ogre, a ginger-bearded brute wearing a sateen jacket and and a cocky sneer. Gold chains and a silver trumpet hang from his neck.

"Ok you, bridesmaids, the rehearsal's over. Let's see how you do against a real man." Jabbing his thumb into his chest, he continues, "Me!

Aarn, Son of Aarn.

I don't mean to toot my own horn...but toot, toot." He raises the trumpet to his mouth and gives forth a piercing blast, then lets it fall to his bear-like chest. Grinning wickedly he drags his thumb slowly across his neck.

Aarn, Son of Aarn from a suggestion by the inestimable Jeff Rients

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The multiplex moons of Vanth crowd overhead...

Notes on a few of the moons, planetoids, space islands and shipwrecks orbiting Vanth.

Altostratus Aeries of the Hawk-Men: Battleflights of the Blessed. 'Nuff Said.

Sun Ra with the Organum CosmicThe Ark of the Sun: The Myth-Sonic Space Ark of the demigod Sun Ra, trapped in a null-sound field by his ancient enemy the Overseer. Audio technicians conjecture that the proper quadraphonic array might be used to free the Ark.

Omnibrow of the Vorvon!Citadel Carcosa: A floating citadel built from black and green stone mined in unknown quarries, inhabited by mad scientists, demonologists, cryo-lich warlocks and vorvons. Their society, such as it is, centers on the pursuit of obscure ingredients needed for their weird rites, eldritch wizardries and controversial child-rearing practices. Also, they are cannibals (with apologies to Geoffrey McKenna).

The Midas Fleet and the Second Golden Planet: A legendary planetoid made entirely of gold, orbited by the remains of the Midas Fleet who sought to exploit it. A vast, unguarded treasure floating in space, but sages warn that none may touch planet or ships without also turning to gold. (swiped from Ryan North's Dinosaur Comics, particularly the alt-text.)

Weed Man of Thool, wriggling its sticky budsUltiMax Thool:
One of the galaxy's most notorious prisons, carved from the sentient skull of a Greater Void Dragon, your basic hive of scum, villainy, weed-men, boar-tuskers and brain bankers. Towed into Vanth orbit by slime pirates, who have long since abandoned their Petri Saucers but are said still to rove the high atmosphere (vide Scott Driver's Thool & Wilderlands).

Days of the Week, Vanth


SARFFday is shortened from "it'S All Right For Fighting Day." Moonday is the start of the week and each new month. Debate rages in scholarly arenas over which moon is honored by Moonday, since at last count Vanth had 76 moons and planetoids in orbit, to say nothing of the asteroids, half-built destruct-orbs, cloud cities and floating citadels that crowd the night sky. Thus the isolation of Vanth since the failure of the galactic nav-beam: without assistance only the most agile of pilots dare try to navigate through the maze. Most who have risked it have wrecked, the drifting hulks of their ships becoming part of the orbital debris.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What the How?

Seems a little slow ramping things up here at our new demesnes. Hopefully you've all got the blog in subscribed in your feeds? In addition, make sure to subscribe to the comments of the current play thread with the link next to comments box at the bottom of the page. My plan is to use the comments section for ongoing play, occasionally making a new blog post when it seems appropriate.

If you have any questions or suggestions, leave a comment. Otherwise I hope each of you can check in on the Against the Giant thread before the weekend. It'd be cool to get a little bit of gameplay in before the holidays.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Come all ye roving gamblers!

Hey dudes, welcome back to the game!

This is just a quick OOC post to mention some plans for the blog:
  • copying, pasting and editing previous gameplay and posting here
  • adding posts for character creation, houserules, and game procedures
  • posting the odd bit of setting detail that comes to mind
If there's anything you'd like to see let me know.

The Brawl: Against the Giant

PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER: ...Everything's golden with Newton's Own Philosopher Stone!

COLOR COMMENTATOR: It sure in't golden for The Creature and his boys though Bob. They're gettin' clobbered out there!

PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER: They certainly are, Clubber. He's had a strong showing for a first-time fighter, but it looks like the Frankenstein from the North is on his last legs. He may have met his match in Mini-Magog.

COLOR COMMENTATOR: I'll tell ya, with giants the short ones are the meanest.

PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER: And Creature can't count on backup from his crew either. They are surrounded. It looks like the other top contenders are making a coordinated move while they're busy with the giant and the Elf Mauler Scholars. It's unusual to see such a large crew, isn't it Clubber?

COLOR COMMENTATOR: Yeah, but the thing is they ain't done much. That Creech and his main boys have done almost alla the fightin'! I don't care how tough you are, ya gotta de-luh-gate a little.

PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER: Well the whole crew is in the thick of it now, Clubber--

COLOR COMMENTATOR: It's beat 'em down or be ground meat, Bob.

PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER: --and they're getting beat down all right. Looks like Keyyalaypkleeplo--

COLOR COMMENTATOR: Say that three times in a hurry.

PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER: --It's Leeplo for short, and he's down, along with the homonculus Schleppy the Tote-Golem and Croakwattle Dan the Lizard Man. Here's a fighter we we haven't seen before! Now where did he come from?



Suddenly and without preamble, a slick dude with a zoot suit and a suspiciously tall hat pops out of thin air! It's this guy!

"You fellows," he says in a familiar voice, "will not believe the day I've had." As his friends stare at him dumbstruck, he says...

"It's me! QUAZARN!"

"NEVER," he adds, "trust a doxy in a pants suit," and without a word more he charges Mini-Magog and bops him in his middle nose. The giant grunts softly, then smiles. Grabbing a hand full of collar and a pant leg the giant picks up his new attacker, spins twice, and tosses him over Creature's head. How high would a fly guy fly if a fly guy could fly high? The question's moot: zoot suit lands on his snoot.

The giant continues spinning into a whirling dervish punch, trying to take out The Creature as well but he loses his balance, sprawling in a heap in front of his Frankenstein foe...

['s your move Wulf.]

Meanwhile Buck faces down Professor Pain, the elf struggling to his feet after catching the sharp end of a elbow in the neck. Before the Prof can stand Buck taps him gently with his club and he crumples like a bad report card. Buck spins around. "Any other stupid elf dipshit in target range?" he thinks. The orangutan Philimon's just gut-punched one of the others, but the Head Masher's just knocked out Bob the Fighter!

Zarko, as is his wont, lurks near Creature. If the sudden appearance of Quazarn was startling, he's downright baffled when he notices Hobson Twofoot standing next to him. Zarko's head hurt like hell, and the laws of space and time seemed to have called in sick. Just another day in Vanth.