Monday, July 3, 2017

Thoughtlets: Seven Heavenly Virtues as Foes

From here

Make it so that these aren't exemplars but enforcers; they don't just embrace the virtue but demand that others do so as well.
Charity goes after equipment, stealing, sundering, and disarming. 
Diligence can specialize in conditions, using things like stunning and daze to keep people from "showing off."
Humility can be a master of fear, to keep his foes in their place. 
Kindness might trot out emotion-manipulation magic to ensure an appropriate amount of opprobrium on the part of sinners. 
Patience has weaponized slow as well as spells/techniques that can entangle targets. 
Temperance is an expert with dispel magic and no one gets to benefit from "doping" in her presence.
As for Chastity? They are an expert at Grappling. They can wrap around you like a snake, twist you into a pretzel, and hog-tie you in the course of two rounds. Lead in with a Stag Horns charge or a Snapping Turtle Clutch reaction to a missed attack to grapple, then follow it up the next round with a Rapid Grapple to maintain as a move action, pin a swift action (or just invest in a lot of Stealth and Bushwack them), and then tie them up with your standard action. Or be really weird and stack the Grabbing Style and Tatzlwyrm Claw Style's Rake to grapple three people at a time: one in either hand and a third with your legs.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Thoughtlets: Writing characters with wings

Writing characters with wings

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Thoughtlets: Non Combat Encounters

From here

Ideas for non-combat encounters/events
For when you want some variety for your tabletop RPG.  These events will also give your players a chance to use character skills they don’t often have opportunities for.
  • Natural Disaster - Have the town the PCs are in catch on fire and see what they do!  Do they cut their losses and run?  Do they heroically try to save trapped townspeople?  What do they do about the aftermath?  Natural disasters are an interesting challenge because there can be lots of danger and drama without necessarily having a villain.  It may also get your PCs to use skills they don’t commonly have a chance to.  You could also try floods, earthquakes, raging storms while at sea, etc.
  • Powerful Fortress - Put one of your party’s goals in a location where they won’t be able to prevail through combat alone (Example: a fortress where they are vastly outnumbered).  Your players will have to rely on either stealth or guile (or both) to accomplish their goal.  The pacing of such events can be frustrating to some players, but few sessions are as rewarding as a creatively executed heist or infiltration.
  • Dangerous Crossing - Give them a dangerous physical obstacle to overcome.  A canyon, or a raging river, or quicksand or an old battleground littered with traps and mines.
  • Festival - Have the PCs encounter a festival or tournament!  With lots of contests! This could be a good opportunity for them to build their fame and fortune (especially if you allow gambling).  Some of my favorite sessions have involved festivals.
  • Entertainment - Put the PCs in a situation where they have to entertain someone.  What do they come up with?
  • Letter - Have one of the PCs receive a letter, either from an NPC they’ve dealt with before or from someone involved with their backstory.  This is a good way to make the consequences of their actions seem more real.  You can also use it to introduce new plotlines/sidequests.
  • Crafting Challenge - Put the PCs in a situation where they need to craft something in order to accomplish their goal.  Maybe they need to make something in order to fix a mechanism?  Or in order to satisfy some local gift-giving custom?  Or they need a forgery?  Maybe as part of an exchange for something else they need?
  • Lost and Found - Have your PCs discover someone or something that is clearly lost.  Maybe they find an infant in the wilderness.  Or a key with a strange inscription, or some kind of talisman.  Throw in a clue or two to present your players with a tantalizing mystery.  
  • Inhospitable Wilderness - Have the PCs go somewhere it’s an effort just to survive.  A barren desert, a treacherous swamp with poison gasses, a forest so dense the ground never sees the sun, or even the bottom of the ocean.  Test their endurance and survival skills!
  • Dinner Party - Have the PCs be summoned to a formal event!  Test them on the battlegrounds of social grace and etiquette!  Even better if it’s in a dangerous environment or an alien culture.
  • Thief - Have something important stolen from the PCs.  See how they handle it.
  • Needle in a Haystack - Give the PCs something very difficult to find.  Like a single specific housecat in a sprawling metropolis, or a legendary weapon of which there are many fakes/copies.  
Really, if you need any more inspiration, look at your player’s character sheets and see if they’ve invested any points in a skill they haven’t gotten to use much.  Then invent a challenge they could feasibly use that skill for.  If you can’t think of a situation that could be helped by an Appraise, Craft: Calligraphy or Handle Animal check, you need to practice your own creative problem solving skills!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Thoughtlets: Making an Effective End Times Cultist

Response to this reddit post.


I personally would take out pages from my own life experience, as while not one myself, I have relatives who are members of one of those "We are living in the last days" Christian churches.

This whole thing rather amuses me as Groteus has the "Look absolutely loony to most people," "THE END TIMES ARE UPON US, REPENT SINNERS," and "BLOOD MOONS" aspects that my own family members sport.

So with my observations I would suggest the following:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Writing Prompt: White House DnD

Prompted here

Sessionmaster: "So we open in the tavern…"

Pence: "Can we not open in a tavern? I can't be around alcohol without my wife present."

Sessionmaster: "It's just imaginary alcohol, Mike, and your wife isn't a player character in this world."

Pence: "My Paladin archetype replaces the Divine Bond class feature with an Angelic Companion, whom my character has bonded to in holy matrimony. She does not approve of alcohol."

Sessionmaster: "...fine. We begin in a… coffee shop? Is that okay?"

Pence: "It's fine."

Sessionmaster: "Okay, good. Because I DMed for Romney at the 2012 Republican National Convention, and boy those Mormons are weird with not liking caffeine.."

Trump: "Haha. Mormons. That's one letter away from being Morons. Great people, I'm sure. But weird. Unfortunate name. Sad. But funny."

*Trump holds up a hand for a high five and a giggling Steve Bannon high fives him.*

Bannon: "Good one, sir."

Sessionmaster: "Anyway, we open in the coffee shop, introduce your characters."

Pence: "I'm Michael, Human Holy Paladin of the One God…"

Trump: "You always play yourself as a human paladin. It's boring. Not interesting at all, Mike. You even do it all day with that LARPing thing…"

Pence: "What LARPing thing?"

Trump: "You know, that whole going around "God is with me, must do the will of god" thing. I mean you're probably having fun. But it's just weird for all of us. Very weird."

Pence: "I'm not LARPing. This is who I am."

Trump: "Oh."

*Bannon wrinkles his nose and leans over to Trump, whispering in his ear.*

Bannon: "Well, at least he's not wearing elf ears or orc tusks."

Trump: "Ugh. Yes. It's an improvement over Chris Christie. Showed up to every session painted green in a loincloth with a battleaxe. No way I was going to spend my presidency having to deal with that every week. Not fun to look at. Very bad."

Kushner: "I'm playing a Dwarven Rogue and…"

Bannon: "Man, everybody is playing what they know. I'm not surprised you're playing the precious-metal hungry, big-nosed, short…"

Kushner: "And what are you playing? I bet you've got six skill points per level, a d10 hit die, and an animal companion."

Bannon: "I uh… I totally don't.

*Kushner reaches across the table and grabs Bannon's sheet.*

Kushner: "Yup. To the surprise of no one Steve's playing a White Power Ranger."

Sessionmaster: "Guys, if you're going to be disruptive to the game I'll…"

*Everyone is quiet as Vladimir Putin walks in, takes the bowl of cheetos from the middle of the table, and then walks out again.*

Trump: "It's okay. He does that. Totally fine. Everything is good. Very good. Perfectly normal."

Sessionmaster: "So you're all sitting in the coffee shop, when there's a disturbance outside. Roll perception."

*Everybody rolls their dice.*

Kushner: "17."

Bannon: "13."

Pence: "Gosh darnit, 4."

Trump: "49. I have the highest Perception score. Just the best, really. My doctor said that I have the highest Perception score of any US President's character ever."

Sessionmaster: "I… um… can I see your sheet, please? I'm not sure how you managed that at level 7."

*Jeff Sessions reaches over the table to grab Trump's sheet, but Trump pulls it away.*

Trump: "No. No. You can't see my character sheet. The IRS is auditing my character wealth by level. So I can't show it to you. Very personal. Very private. Very hush hush."

Sessionmaster: "Okay, then run down your bonuses for me."

Trump: "I rolled a natural 20 because I have the greatest dice. The best dice, really. They're these gorgeous, expensive solid gold dice. I just saw them in the gaming store one day and I couldn't help but grab them."

Sessionmaster: "So that's 20…"

*Sessions waits for Trump to continue, but Trump has his phone out and appears to be browsing Twitter.*

Sessionmaster: "And the rest of it?"

Trump: "Huh? Are we still talking about that? Fake news. Totally fake."

Sessionmaster: "As the Dungeonmaster General, Donald, I can get you banned from organized play, you realize."

Trump: "Okay, fine. Plus five from Wisdom, because I am obviously the wisest. Plus four from my racial bonuses, plus four from my super awesome ultra masterwork item, and the rest I'm adding in because I need to compensate for all the stat rolls and skill points and items that Crooked Hillary illegally stole and gave to illegal immigrants during those presidential election games."

*Sessions sighs and pinches his nose, this is going to be a long night.*

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thoughtlets: Seven Deadly Sins as Temptors

From ShifterCat here.

For a while now, I’ve been discussing a frequent problem with anthropomorphic portrayals of the Seven Deadly Sins: six of them will be drawn to elicit disgust… except for Lust, who’ll be a bodacious babe. It’s like, “Yes, straight male audience, here are the parts of yourself you should fear. Plus that one, who is totally the fault of evil wimminz.”

Which: no, guys, you can’t have it both ways. Either portray ALL of them as tempting, or ALL of them as horrible warnings. And if you’re going with the latter, then Lust ought to be a man in a dirty raincoat, lurking outside a schoolyard.

(Credit where it’s due: Edmund Spenser, way back in the sixteenth century, portrayed Lust as a gross dude in The Faerie Queene.)
I was discussing this with Christopher, and he asked, what might the Seven Deadly Sins look like if, instead of simply embodying their sin, they were designed to elicit that sin?

Here are my ideas:

Wrath is primarily a talk-radio host, though he also publishes his rants in book and blog format. He whips his audience into a fury against a host of enemies, some obvious, others ill-defined. On social media, he commands a veritable army of internet trolls. His followers are both sore losers and sore winners: as long as dissenters exist, they cannot consider themselves victorious. And that will never happen, because Wrath is always ready to point out a new enemy.

Gluttony looks like a kindly grandmother. Everything that comes out of her kitchen looks, tastes, and smells absolutely delicious, so it hardly seems like a burden when she chivvies you to eat, even when you’re already full. But she always makes far too much, and throws out all of her leftovers. Meals that could have fed a soup kitchen for a week congeal in a dumpster outside, crawling with maggots.

Avarice is a corporate lobbyist. He convinces the rich that they owe the public nothing, and the poor that they are but temporarily embarrassed millionaires. At his smiling suggestion, laws restricting businesses’ power are jettisoned, or else rendered powerless. He speaks of “the free market” as though it were a wise and benevolent deity, though he has also been known to argue Social Darwinism and Prosperity Gospel without even pausing for breath.

Vanity is a motivational speaker. She tells her audiences that they are all especially gifted and deserve everything they want -- they just have to focus on it really hard. Anyone who tells them that they’re being selfish, or evading other responsibilities, is just dragging them down; anyone to whom bad things happen brought it on themselves by being so negative. Her Facebook page shares a lot of pseudoscience and conspiracy theory, framing believers as smarter than the masses.

Sloth comes off as a good-natured stoner. He’s always happy to share his shabby couch and his coffee-table covered with game controllers, TV remotes, and an endless assortment of substances to drink, smoke, or inject. Schoolwork can wait. Tell your boss you’re sick again. Someone else’ll do the other stuff. Just take it easy. Don’t be a buzzkill.

Envy runs a string of popular magazines. The cover models are Photoshopped into impossible beauty; the ads feature products well out of most readers’ price range. The text portions contain “health plans” that are recipes for failure, celebrity gossip that is by turns fawning and venomous, and advice columns warning against “man-stealers” or “girl-stealers”.

Lust is a pick-up artist. He doesn’t simply advocate promiscuity, but employs an entire dialect encouraging straight men to think of women as objects to be evaluated, used, and discarded. Though his focus is primarily on heterosexual males, he also argues that it’s “naturally masculine” for gay men to treat their partners in a similar fashion.