Friday, June 27, 2014

The Asparagus Factor

I know what I like, and I know what doesn't appeal to me.  On a good day, I understand the 'why' behind those things.

This might be a good day.

Over at Rotten Pulp, the learned Mr. Mack has posted about those adventures he calls Negadungeons; those encounters, typified by the much-vaunted "Raggian screwjob", which leave the delvers inevitably worse off, insane, accursed, and wondering why they ever set foot in this place (and sometimes crumples up the campaign world and tosses it in the bin as a by-product).  I have no issue saying that I do not typically like this kind of adventure - and this criticism applies to a number of Call of Cthulhu classics, I'm sorry to say - and do not typically use them except perhaps for occasional inspiration and cannibalization.

Mr. Mack thoughtfully explores the nature of the "negadungeon" - you should read his post if you haven't already - and explains that rather than being "hahaha screw you, players" exercises in GM onanism, the negadungeon is instead its own animal.  For whatever reason, reading that over tonight, the whole thing clicked.  These kinds of adventures are not adventures at all - in the literary sense - but an attempt to do a horror story in rpg form.  Yes, this should be obvious, as I mentioned Call of Cthulhu scenarios, but for some reason even though I've always understood the connection, it took tonight to have the epiphany that the reason I don't like many of these scenarios is because they're trying to be horror stories rather than adventure stories.

You'd think that would be self-evident.  It wasn't.  Perhaps you can see how, measuring these kinds of "adventures" against, y'know, actual adventure stories, they would not measure up in my mind.  I don't much care for horror stories or movies, either.  Is there something about that negative catharsis whatever-you-call-it (no doubt Professor Shear can supply a very fine Greek word) that just plain does not appeal to me?  That might be it.  I don't mind occasionally watching or reading something about a protagonist who descends into darkness and madness and bad choices and whatever; but it would rarely be my first choice for entertainment (for what it's worth, I'm working my way through Breaking Bad now, and enjoying it), and the chances of it becoming my favorite ahead of innumerable comedies and real adventure yarns is effectively nil.  There's a place within adventure, within fairy tales, within pulp, for the frightening, the uncanny, and the gross-out, but to me, their best position is within the framework of the adventure genre.  An ingredient rather than a meal.

So I get it now, even if I still don't like them.  Much in the same way I will not eat asparagus, yet can appreciate my wife's enjoyment of the fetid stalk, or coo appreciatively as the wizards on Chopped unveil a glorious bundle of white asparagus (which, one assumes, grants urine the aroma of fine Madagascar vanilla), I think I can appreciate the craft and cleverness in a "negadungeon" or horror scenario.  But they just don't do it for me, I guess.  Nothing wrong with that, although there may be some rabid dogs out there who would gladly foam at the thought of a plebian misunderstanding obvious genius; but let us not pay much attention to rabid dogs.

If, by the way, your mind went directly into the gutter with the above sentence about my wife enjoying a fetid stalk now and then, that's completely fine; I like double entendre, wordplay, and "naughtiness" of Benny Hill levels.  I just don't much like horror, it seems.

If a pull-quote is necessary, let it be "Raggi-style adventures make my whiz smell bad."  Jim would like that.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A World of Heroes: Part Two (Abject Villainy!)

Part Two recounting characters and concepts for a superhero-verse created by an eight-year-old...

The Awesome Ones - from the previous post - are opposed on a global scale by an organization so evil, it can only be called --


Formed years ago as a foil for the Awesome Ones, the League of Super-Evil represents the ultimate villain team-up.  Although its roster has varied across the years, its central objective has not: to destroy the Awesome Ones (and take over the world and stuff).  A partial listing of their historic membership follows.

The devil of the crossroads, promoted from tempting blues musicians, he now torments super-heroes.  Naturally he is a rival of Saint Dozen.  Demon John appears to be the big mystical baddie of this superverse.

Once a drug cartel enforcer, he manifested the ability to control minds and quickly rose in the ranks.  He runs both the cartels and (secretly) the government of Mexico using a secret identity.

An albino gorilla (I can't make this stuff up), Pure Gorilla wishes to destroy everything he considers impure.  Which, of course, varies from day to day.  Obsessive, super-strong, and very dangerous.

Some sort of martial artist/assassin type.

He fell from the sky in a meteor-ship!  He has somewhat-vast cosmic powers!  He shoots star-energy from his fingertips!

(This could have gone way worse than it did)
"He's like Green Lantern, only he's brown.  And he summons dragons."
"Does he have Green Lantern's powers, but brown?"
"No, he has an old magic ring that's brown, which summons dragons."
"So he's nothing like Green Lantern at all."
"Well, his name is."

Peru Man is from Peru (naturally); he can fly and shoot beams from his eyes and things.  That's about it.  Personally I imagine he has a mystic/ancient-alien origin and has Nazca lines all over his body like circuitry-tattoos or something, but that's all me, not the Boy.  And, full disclosure - when we play superheroes lately, I am typically assigned to be Peru Man.  Serious bias on my part.

"Idaho Ghost was a guy in Idaho who died but now he's a ghost and can walk through walls and levitate things with his mind but he's super angry about something so he does bad stuff."

Saint Zero is the opposite number of Saint Dozen - a man who had all the potential for goodness sucked out of him.  Other than being unkillable, he has no superpowers, but commits many crimes and hurts people.  (The Boy is not familiar with the term "serial killer" but that's totally the vibe I get here).

I don't have any details on this villain, but he/she/it sounds pretty horrifying.

A teenage lad who, via his remarkable ability to shapeshift into human waste and swim rapidly through water pipes, has made an underworld living as an assassin.  Think about that for a second.  Dude's an assassin who can come up through your toilet.  Ass-assin, I guess.

Next time: the wild card teams!  The nefarious New Land Gang, and the second-tier heroes of X-Encounter.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A World of Heroes: Part One

Not much going on in Wampus lately, so let's talk about spandex.

For the past several weeks, each day the Boy has come up with one or more superheroes or villains, which he insists we write down for him, each added properly to one of the hero- or villain-teams he has invented.  As weird as it all is - you can imagine the powers and names a nearly-nine-year-old might come up with, and I have so say I feel blessed only one character has fart-related powers - it's been intriguing watching him come up with things that are somewhat consistent, self-referential, etc.  He builds on what has come before, and things have their own sense of logic.

At first I was going to take some of his more outlandish heroes and villains and give them a fatherly "touch-up", as we sometimes do for Wampus content, but I think this time maybe the Boy's creations should stand on their own.  Thus, the beginning of this multi-post series covering his world of heroes.  We start with the greatest hero-team of all, the Awesome Ones; but soon enough we'll hit the villains and cover the Boy's first attempts to play Marvel Super Heroes (FASERIP).  I have no idea if anyone but us will get any use out of these concepts, but it's certainly a walk through a kid's brain.

The Awesome Ones are the world's premier superheroes, with a deep bench and a global reach.  They have secret bases all over the world, and travel between them using high-tech rocket-planes.  Below are listed a mixture of their current and original lineup.

The legendary Saint Dozen is perhaps the best-known and greatest-beloved superhero in the world.  In addition to being a skilled athlete, martial artist, and detective, he has been gifted the special abilities of twelve different saints, which he may use one at a time.  Saint Dozen can conjure flame, talk to animals, disappear and reappear [1], and heal others.  When Saint Dozen is around, other heroes defer to his experience and leadership.

Dr. Emergency's arrival at the scene of a crisis is a welcome sight; she possesses the heightened and combined abilities of a medical doctor, paramedic, police officer, and firefighter.

Once a sheriff in the wild west, Ray Cowboy was abducted by aliens who experimented on him and left him in stasis in a desert cave.  When he awoke in the 21st-century, he had not aged, and had crazy robot eyes that gave him new senses and the ability to shoot death-rays from his eyes.  Now he fights crime in the modern day and tries to solve the mystery of the aliens and why they altered him.

Formerly a professional Ukrainian soccer player, Soccer Boy has the ability to conjure and shoot powerful soccer balls from his mouth.

Defense Patriot was injured in Afghanistan and medically discharged from the Marine Corps, but became an FBI agent.  While on an investigation, she witnessed the earthfall of the strange meteroid-ship which contained Mister Universe [2].  Bathed in the unearthly radiation and pollution of the meteroid gave Defense Patriot her armored skin and uncanny agility.

Captain Africa is super-strong and can shoot strawberries from his eyes.  Little else is known of this mysterious hero.

The "S" stands for "stretch".  Every universe needs a stretchy guy.

A bounty hunter, British Jam's ability to fly [3] has assisted him in tracking down many a criminal.

A young girl who knows many things and can think like a supercomputer.  There was some sort of weird accident and the entire population of Burlington, Vermont was vaporized, but their memories and part of their brainpower were transferred to this girl who was at the epicenter of the event.  Burlington speaks of herself in the third person plural, which is nice and creepy for a twelve-year-old.

Born with the mystical ability to transform himself into a key which matches any door he touches.

Next Time:  we meet the world-beating, villainous membership of the League of Super-Evil!

[1] I am reliably informed that this power is not invisibility.  It sounds more like a delayed teleportation the way the kid describes it.

[2] A rather nasty villain.  We'll get to him in Part Two.

[3] Flight powers are waaay underrepresented in this universe relative to your bog-standard comic assumptions.  So far, anyway.  For all I know, tomorrow he'll come up with eight dudes who can fly.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Four Familiars

Lately a short work, On the Conjuration of Unique and Fashionable Familiars, has appeared in certain River-Town bookshops frequented by sorcerous types.  The author is listed as one Elsie Dodge, who my sources tell me is a wizardess of middling repute.  Miss Dodge's thaumaturgical researches, as detailed in the pamphlet, have yielded a few interesting twists to the summoning of familiars.  By following her instructions - which involve a convex mirrored surface and a peculiar arrangement of chess-pieces - while casting the standard 'Find Familar' conjuration, the creature that appears may be one of those described below (a d4 is acceptable).

A tall, stick-like bird which, in its stiller moments, might be taken for a mop due to its wild shock of dreadlock-like feathers, typically a bluish-grey; they also have notably large beaks.  The borogove is not suited for combat, or riding, or really much of anything, a flaw of which it is keenly aware, making it continually miserable and just awful to be around as it sighs deeply for attention.
Familiar Bonus: The miasma of depression and self-loathing which surrounds the borogove bird has a tendency to disrupt emotion-bending magic nearby; any sentient within ten feet of the borogove receives a +2 to all saves versus fear or emotional manipulation.  Also, should you ever need a sympathetic link to a dimension of para-elemental angst, the borogove is it.

An early, lizard-like mammal from the dawn of time, the tove feeds by boring holes in cheese using its corkscrew-like proboscis; in some fancy extraplanar restaurants, toves are employed to make Swiss cheese.  Despite a fondness for time-pieces, the tove's chief attribute is its penchant for nimble activity, coupled with a naturally slimy, mucus-covered hide which makes it deucedly difficult to grab as it gimbles to and fro.
Familiar Bonus: The sorceror bonded to a tove receives a +2 on any rolls to escape grapples, wriggle out of manacles or rope, or anything else sufficiently Houdini-esque.

These small green piglets make a horrible wheezing, whistling, chuffing, screaming, whining sound basically all the time, and never seem to sleep.  Successfully owning a rath involves either deafness - itself an impediment for a wizard - or the cleverness required to figure out exactly what sort of inanimate object your particular rath wants to suck on as a pacifier; typically a certain kind of rock, a salad fork, left shoe, or other seemingly mundane thing.  The rath will happily suckle its chosen object in perpetuity, cuddling up in a near-fetal state, and not actually needing to be fed.  When the pacifier is removed, the rath will immediately resume its ridiculous cacophany.
Familiar Bonus: When the rath is outgrabing, sonic effects within thirty feet are partially countered, either giving targets +4 to resist (for save-able issues) or sometimes actually nullifying the spell entirely (an audible glamer, for example).

This vaguely humanoid impling better resembles a chicken's egg in both shape and size; it bears a humanoid face, often sporting a wide grin or, alternately, a sour expression.
Familiar Bonus:  The wizard who is bonded with a humpmonculus may consult with it on matters of history or linguistics, providing a +2 to any rolls to that effect.  The GM should, however, roll a d20 each time the humpmonculus eggman is consulted; on a 1, the advice is completely rotten.

Painfully obvious, perhaps, what I'm currently reading to the Boy at bedtime.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tales from the Book of Aqueducts

Recently the Boy has been inventing longtime readers know, when the Boy is productive, his efforts are quickly transcribed, given a veneer of Daddy-dream, and added to the Wampus canon in some fashion or another.


The Book of Aqueducts is an ancient codex from the Long Ago which scholars believe predates the rise of Koz and perhaps dates back into shrouded antiquity.  Its actual age is difficult to pinpoint, for it has chief amongst its curious enchanted qualities the inconvenient yet amazing habit of rejiggering all of its illustrations to portray the characters as of the same species as the reader.  Thus, the Book of Aqueducts itself could perhaps come down to us from the Simian Era, or even the legendary Time of Owls - we may never know.  Historians and some wizards often read copies of the Book; the original is kept under lock and key, as a wondrous object and historical treasure.

The tome itself is oversized by today's standards, bound in the purple hide of an unknown extinct creature.  The cover bears no title; it is known as the Book of Aqueducts due to the small, geometric marginalia designs which feature on many pages, which resemble pipes or waterways not unlike those used during the time of the Peacock Throne, yet far more complex - more like tiny labyrinths.  Some scholars who have studied the original Book say the marginalia have a hypnotic quality in person, and may be some sort of living code or interplanar map, indecipherable to modern eyes attached to smaller brains.  Although several relatively faithful copies of the Book exist, only the original has "proper" enchanted illustrations every few pages which animate to tell the story and sometimes even change or add meaning to the written narrative which may vary depending on the reader.

"...discussing with dear Professor Plinst our favorite tales from the Book of Aqueducts, and of course I mentioned the Travails of Poom, specifically that wonderful illumination in which the beleaguered boy knight Poom draws a whistling-sabre and decapitates the Three-Eyed Baron.  Plinst recalled it differently, insisting that when he had read the same tale in the original codex, Poom was depicted strangling his foe and spitting upon the corpse.  Wishing to settle it as a bet of honor, I sent a letter to a mutual acquaintance who lived near the city where the Book was on tour that summer, instructing him to go and read that specific story and make note of the illustrations, but not alerting him to what Plinst and I expected to see.  Well, you can, no doubt, imagine what happened.  A month later I had a letter from my friend, describing the very satisfying animation of Poom defeating the Baron in a lengthy quarterstaff duel, while noting that the text itself merely says 'killed'.  There was no doubt then that the question was settled."  -- Harcourt Runcible

The frontispiece of the Book of Aqueducts depicts a continent unknown to man, and the endpapers yet another continent.  Both feature prominently in the tales within the book, and much scholarship has been spent analyzing whether the strange lands in the stories are intended to be representative or satirical of ancient city-states, to no consensus.  Some of the countries are obvious fairy-tale sorts of destinations which exist for a narrative purpose, or are merely a humorous mention within the flow of a story; others seem like plausible stand-ins for contemporary political rivals or a historical lesson valued by the authors.  Perhaps strangely, the maps do not change, as the other illustrations do.

Below, some notable places from the Book of Aqueducts:

The land of Norbread is ruled by a clever young Prince-Regent who defends his land against the rapacious Grand Duke of Hambonia in The Tale of Two Dead Brothers.  Norbread itself seems rather vanilla compared to some of the nations in the Book; it is primarily a long valley dotted with farms, known for its apple cider.

A Grand Duchy with a large standing army, Hambonia is the aggressor in more than one story, with stock phrases describing the waves of green-clad Hambonian soldiers pouring through breaches in city walls.  The people of Hambonia prostrate themselves before idols of a deity called the Celestial Pig, and their soldiers carry destructive man-powered firearms called blunderpipes, which are halfway between a blunderbuss and bagpipes.

Outsiders know the deserts of Bejje as a white sand waste where people live in very tall houses that stick up out of the sands like spikes.  As the desert is constantly shifting and rising like a tide, they must add more levels to their house every few years, and of course the lower levels are all buried by sand.

In the valley of Boggdoggle, nobody can stand a straight line, so everything is built and crafted in curves and circles and the people live in spherical houses.  The standard of beauty is such that it is quite advantageous to be very fat and as spherical as possible, a cultural feature which factors heavily into the plot of The Princess Who Was Cursed To Eat Only Butter.

The rocky badlands of Eepgato are populated by near-naked savages who ride great cats as steeds and drive humongous scarabs before them in battle; they are ruled by the cruel, immortal Pharaoh Kwaytunkhamun.  The Pharaoh beseeched his sorcerors and scientists to make him deathless, and they succeeded - but also drove him mad.  A distant cousin and legitimate heir to the crown, the Princess With Blue Hair, hides in exile amongst the barbarians of the dunes, biding her time to regain the throne.

The many baronies of Pleplackia are now united as a single republic, having previously been one kingdom, and before that, squabbling city-states.  The beneficent guidance of King Moofus II - now Prime Minister Moofus - has been a stabilizing influence on an area once riven by sectarian conflict, as told in The Story of Six Wandering Knights and alluded to in Poor Little Ashen-Tongue.

The city of Naupiqistan is said to be invisible unless you're inside its walls, but surely that is where any curious traveler would wish to be.  At the center of Naupiquistan's red-cobbled streets lies the Unknown Library, which contains a thousand mysterious books which seem blank unless read by moonlight, in a mirror.  Each page of one of these books contains a secret which no-one knows; and once you read the page, it disappears, for now someone knows the secret.  Sadly one cannot then learn a second secret, for all the books of the Unknown Library will be blank to your eyes forevermore.

There are a great many other nations mentioned in the Book of Aqueducts, from the mountaintop abbeys of Eeglopolis, populated by balloon-people, to the floating casino-island of Lobster City.  No doubt debate as to whether these lands are real or imagined will continue long into the future.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Super-Exciting News - On the Way to the Printer!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that the adventure I've been working on these past few months is headed to the printer right this very minute!  We all wanted the first published bit of Wampus Country to be something really special, and this surely is it.

Fetid Curse of Baron Fuckula is a 32-page old-school super-lethal adults-only adventure dealing with the return to (un)life of the most nefarious sodomy-vampire ever to walk the worlds.  This is a no-holds-barred, heavy death sludge-metal, absolutely gonzo, ridiculously twisted adventure sure to make your players convulse with some strange admixture of joy and revulsion.  Once your PCs are in the dastardly, moist clutches of Baron Fuckula and his transgressively-shaped minions, your campaign will never be the same.  Only the most adult and metallic metal-adults will survive the grisly revelations of the Viscous Looking-Glass!  The adventure includes a small hexcrawl map detailing the Throbbing Hills, as well as a fold-out, full color map of the ruins of the Flaccid Tower, and an envelope so that you can send me your character sheets when instructed to do so by this groundbreaking adventure.  As soon as I have a proof in hand, you'll have pictures of the interior, which features some amazing art that's chock full of semi-naked people doing horrible things to one another which may or may not have anything to do with the adventure itself.  Have no fear, the whole shebang is dual-statted for LotFP and FATAL.  Look out, ENnies, here we come!

Remember, I'm not a writer, I'm a 'creative'.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

GADCon After-Action Report: In Which I Find Some Paths And Very Nearly Die Quite A Bit

I spent most of my weekend a mile from my apartment playing Pathfinder at a local con, GADCon (GAD = 'Games And Dice').  Here's the after-action report.

Bottom Line: I had quite a bit of fun at this Pathfinder-heavy weekend and look forward to returning next year; I enjoyed my four sessions of Pathfinder Society despite the many differences with the sort of thing with which I'm accustomed.

Prologue:  Not much Pathfinder under my belt previous to this weekend, and really not that much more 3.5 during that period.  I knew GADCon was Pathfinder-heavy; specifically, Pathfinder Society (PFS), which is Paizo's organized play (OP) program.  I had poked around learning about PFS and how it works back in the fall when some pals were opening up a gaming store and I was doing some event research/organizing for them, so I had a good general idea of how the OP worked, but no firsthand experience.  Further terminology for the uninitiated: in the Pathfinder rpg setting, there is a Pathfinder Society organization, which trains and sponsors Pathfinders who explore and solve problems and crap.  Professional adventurers with membership in a global adventuring guild, essentially.

Headed over to the hotel, got registered, and helped Travis carry in box after box of stuff for CardBoard Gaming's table in the vendor room.  I don't know how he crammed so much stuff into that Honda Civic.  We both wrapped it up in time to get our seats at two separate tables of a "PFS for Beginners" session, which involved character creation and running a scenario called The Confirmation - basically meant to be a graduation mission for baby Pathfinders.  As a fun bonus, we new folks were given snazzy character folios (these are a player reference thing with pockets, a dry-erase charsheet, etc).  The scenario that followed was pretty straightforward - the standard beginning exposition, some wilderness travel, and then poking around in some caverns.  Altogether a decent beginner scenario (although I think the swarms were a little much for new players with level 1 PCs).  So far, so good.  Had a great time joking around and playing my new PFS PC, Noorzad the Incredibly Handsome, the Flower of Katapesh.  He's a vain daredevil of a bard, as you might imagine.  Over the course of his three sessions, he went into negative hit points nine times.  Nine times.  I swear I wasn't doing anything particularly stupid and was not getting more combatty than a bard should reasonably be expected to be.  Nine times.  This is less of an issue than you might think, in the long run, because everyone in the Society carries a wand of cure light wounds.  Not everyone can use one, mind you, but it's considered polite to buy your own so you're not draining the cleric's resources.  Will I ever wrap my head around the "treat magic wands like cheap magic potions" concept?

Recognizing that I am no longer 25, I didn't sign up for an 8am session on Saturday.  Instead, I focused on final prep for my 2pm Labyrinth Lord game.  Now this is a bit of a saga.  I had only one player prereg for my game; I also knew that Van (who plays the fish-man Rashidan Lochbottom in the Wampus Country campaign) was driving up to play, and Saturday morning one of the con organizers said he had someone coming in who would probably want to play something old school.  Well, none of that materialized in time.  Van and his friend were running an hour-plus late thanks to interstate traffic, the pre-regged player didn't show, and the rumored third person didn't show either.  I stood in the hall and tried to recruit people, but there really weren't any "idle" folks - at a small, focused con, this didn't surprise me; everyone seemed to be already committed to either a PF game (well duh) or involved in a Netrunner tournament going on in the second room.  So we're at "mildly disappointed but not actually surprised", which is kind of a weird place to be, I guess.

I grabbed the con organizer, related the tale of woe, and asked him at what time I should call the slot; not because there was competition for the table and chairs, but because, come on, I signed up to run a game, not sit somewhere for five hours and wait to run a game, right?  He said we'd waited long enough to call it, and besides, they needed a cleric over at his table.  (The classic jokes are classic because they're true.)

Next thing I know I'm sitting down to play in a game run by the local Venture Lieutenant (PFS regional organizer), a scenario called Ruins of Bonekeep (Level One).  This is a PFS 'special scenario' that actually comes with a "YOU COULD SERIOUSLY TOTALLY DIE IN THIS SCENARIO GUYS I AM NOT FREAKING KIDDING" warning on it, which is, I gather, kind of a huge deal from a PFS point of view.  I wasn't super worried, though, as I wasn't playing my shiny new bard - Bonekeep was meant for seventh-level characters.  So I was handed a standard-issue pregen (PFS has these), the cleric.  What this means in Society terms is that when one of my actual PCs hits 7th level, he can then claim whatever benefits ("boons" etc) I earned as this pregen.

Here's my review of Ruins of Bonekeep: this is the most fuck-you of all the fuck-you dungeons I've ever been in.  Some of you will find that exciting, others repulsive.  If Society people (in or out of character) don't make jokes about "Boned-keep, amirite?", they're asleep on the job.  Bonekeep has a lot of "yeah, nothing works against this thing" and some "failed save?  run away for ten minutes" and a good bit of "take damage anyway, yes all of you".  And despite an ostensible necromancer theme, it's a funhouse, no doubt.  A lethal funhouse.  We survived (I'll go ahead and say "barely"), we even looted some decent stuff, but man.  Not in a hurry to run back there.  One of the PCs was a ninja, and he looked like a serious badass.  You ever play in a game where there's a class you know nothing about, but just watching the dude play is like a long commercial for how much fun that class probably can be?  Yeah, it was like that.
Picture taken immediately after my cleric was mind-hosed to flee from the [redacted] in the next room over, ran through the door and was immediately surrounded by four large elementals (one of each type), who proceeded to shout at her in elemental languages and then murder her face.  She went negative, but did not actually die due to a combination of the following words: tengu, wizard, invisibility, dimension door.  Seventh-level characters are no joke, people.

After the lubeless joy of Ruins of Bonekeep, I ran across the street for pizza with Van and Tyler, then it was a hurry-hurry back to the hotel for --

So PFS has these scenarios called "specials" that they only run at cons, and they tend to be multi-table affairs where the actions of each group matter to some larger goal, perhaps in differing ways depending on the level spread ("tier" in PFS parlance) of the table.  Saturday night's scenario was one of these, Siege of the Diamond City, and it was pretty interesting.  Not in the setup - "city is besieged by demons" - but in the execution.  As a group of level one and two PCs, we were not expected to contribute by killing a metric ton of invading demons (thank goodness), but we did have a series of (nonliteral) firefighting duties throughout the night.  Some fights with looters and mercenaries, some convincing of guards, this that and the other.  Our actions contributed to the color condition of whatever quarter of the city we were in (green/yellow/orange/red etc), and having someone at the center of the room call out as the conditions changed was pretty exciting (although, wow, the dude could've been way louder; do they not teach how to project to a room in school anymore?)  The whole bit culminated in a good-guy counterattack during which the high-level tables took the fight to the demonic generals, the mid-tier folks were stuck in against the ranks of lesser demonoids, and we low-level schmucks fired siege weaponry from the ramparts in an attempt to take out the enemy siege towers.  All this - I presume - interacted in some measurable way, such as our ballista shots preventing the demon-towers from spawning more horned beasties, etc.  Pretty neat; I'd like to read the internals on one of these.  We had an overwhelming victory at the end, but according to the chronicle sheet we were handed there were four or five possible outcomes depending on the group's total efforts.

Exhausted, I rolled in for one last session at 8am (not sure I would do this again; originally I was in an afternoon slot for Sunday, but then Cub Scout stuff got moved because of snow... anyway, I was in a morning game and needed to bolt immediately after).    This morning's scenario was The Ciphermage Dilemma, and long story short, I hate pirates as adversaries, but I hate paladins who prevent their party members from doing anything resembling threatening or bluffing or psy-ops or intel-gathering way more.  I will admit that when I grabbed the pirate's corpse and made it puppet-talk to his buddy ("Gee I wish I had told these guys what they wanted to know, then I might still be alive and able to see my kids again") as part of an Intimidate roll might have been over the top.  But seriously, the guy was killed in combat when he and his pirate pals were trying to murder us in the face.  Good does not mean stupid and there were no "authorities" in that crapsack pirate armpit of a city.  We stab pirates.  Stab them.  Anyway, it was an okay scenario, nicely run; I think I was probably too tired to fully appreciate some of its nuances, but them's the breaks.

That's the initial info-dump...  I'll probably have more "thoughts" about Pathfinder Society in the weeks to come.  Fun was had, would do again.  I'm exhausted and cannot think deep thoughts at the moment.

This large slice of pizza, from a joint named Slice, is called a "Baltimore Belly Burster".  It has bbq sauce on it, and is topped with Old Bay roasted chicken, Natty Boh bratwurst, and bbq pulled pork.  It. Was. Fucking. Amazing. You. Guys.