Sunday, January 29, 2012

Getting It On, Online

"There's just the two of us, Margaret.  I can't think of a way to  occupy ourselves."

If you don't have a regular gaming group, playing a rpg can be a pain in the rear.  Is gaming online the same as playing in person?  No, of course not.

However, this techno-marvelous century makes it easy to get your game on, if you're willing to play online.

My experiments in running Labyrinth Lord via Gchat have been mixed; the game is fun, the people are great, but the tools are a slight impediment.  Also an issue with that game: the time-slot is only two hours.  It's hard to get into sufficient mischief in just two hours; there's a reason con-game slots are always four hours long (or longer).

Now that I'm rocking the shiny new laptop, it won't be long before I'm running stuff online with ConstantCon.  That will involve a webcam, a mic, and a Google Hangout, like all ConstantCon games.  But I'd like to play in a couple first before I stick my neck out - guess that's only natural.  Finding the right time of day/night to do this might prove an interesting challenge.  Worth noting that any ConstantCon games I run will be FLAILSNAILS compatible.

Further, there's Aethercon, an online convention coming up in November.  They're offering space to whoever wants to register to play and run, any game, all using the latest version of the Traipse software (cheekily called 'Pious Paladin').  Chat functions, dice functions, and a map all in one.  I will definitely be running a couple of Wampus Country games at Aethercon in November, so check out their website and FB page, and keep an eye on this space for further announcements. 

That aside, it might be time for some Gchat or Hangout-based pick-up gaming in the near future (of the "short-notice let's do this damn thing" variety, perhaps).  If you're interested in maybe matching wits with the Wampus Country, drop me a line in the comments below.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Massacre Mesa

You know how sometimes you'll get an idea, and it'll lead to another - and another...  In the last week or so I've had a couple idea-chains like that fire off, and I'm trying to knit them all together in my mind to make a nice mini-hexcrawl area with a couple of adventure sites.

Currently, the region includes:
* the Vulture-Men of Buzzard Gulch, greatly expanded with hooks
* Massacre Mesa, where an entire town died mysteriously overnight.  Twice.  Some people never learn.
* a medium-sized dungeon associated with the Mesa, and the very strange villain within
* the Potbelly Mine (mini-dungeon thing), where the miners went looking for metal and instead found madness
* Hotfoot's Oasis, a trading-post with NPCs and such
* Coyote Falls, where the coyote-folk gather annually to demonstrate their cunning and cleverness in praise of Father Coyote the trickster...and the PCs can compete, too, in hopes of winning the god's odd favor
* a weird encounter/location involving a crazy gold-panning prospector who's fallen in love with a nereid
"And this one time?  Last summer?  I totally tricked a giant into eating his own poop.  No, guys, seriously.  Completely gross.  I laughed so hard prairie dog came out my nose."

Getting all these worked up is going to take a little time - particularly the larger of the two dungeons - and I want to make sure that each 'bit' has potential ties to the others.  Not in terms of 'plot' necessarily, but to make it feel like a unified area you'd want to adventure in a little bit before leaving it behind for something else.  I'm tempted to draw stuff up in Hexographer, to keep me motivated, but I know darn well I should just do a checklist and start knocking stuff out.

Anyway, if I can get this stuff done, I'll bundle it all up as Mysteries of Massacre Mesa and post it for download.  Deadlines help, of course, but I do have other (game and non-game) stuff going on...maybe by Spring.

The Limb Gypsies

This one's essentially a 'reverse' Hamburger Soup post - ie, not something The Boy said, but something which came out of my mouth in response to the boy.  Weeks of Hamburger Soup sensitivity immediately turned the phrase into game-fodder.

[trying to close the car door] "Get in there, kiddo.  You keep sticking your arm out there and I'll have to take off your arm and leg and sell 'em to the gypsies."
"Gypsies?  What gypsies?"
"I dunno.  The Limb Gypsies.  Now get in the car".
"Terrible luck about those kissing-maidens, sir." said Bertram.  "Never fear, we'll have you back on your feet in no time, and at a very reasonable price, too, if I may say so."


Wampus Country has its share of wanderers, from babbling desert madmen to peripatetic traders.  One wandering group, however, has managed to leave a bit of a dread legend in its wake - and that is the Limb Gypsies.

Never seen in town, the Limb Gypsies are always encountered on the road - so the tales go - and usually not long after someone has lost a limb.  The mercenary Hugo the Barn-Burner came across them not forty-eight hours after losing his left foot to a bear, and it is said that the mysterious beauty Driselda Diamond procured her own prosthetic arm from these gypsies mere hours after losing her own in a trap-laden ruin.

The Limb Gypsies are oddly attired, dressing in a rather antique mode, with long coats and feathered hats, eschewing any modern sartorial sense; in all reported cases there are six or seven of them, mixed male and female - perhaps an extended family unit.  They arrive on the scene on horseback, along with a brightly-painted cart strung with bells.  The lead gypsy - sometimes called Bertram - has been said to ride a snow-white jackass.  Bertram himself is clean-shaven, which is unusual enough in Wampus Country, and wears a linen bandage wrapped around his left palm from a purported woodcutting accident recently incurred.  The other gypsies do not speak, but will lean in close and whisper wordlessly to Bertram from time to time.

Inside the cart, in addition to bedrolls, cooking utensils, and the like, are several boxes of hand-carved wooden limbs.  Arms, legs, feet, and hands have all been mentioned in the tales, all tossed haphazardly in crates, but beautifully carved from exotic woods.  If asked, Bertram says the wood is 'crimson mahogany from beyond the desert' and little more. The limb gypsies offer to sell a replacement limb to the recent amputee, and at a seemingly fair price given the obvious craftsmanship (only a few dollars or gold pieces each).  Each limb proffered is a very nice match for the one lost in terms of length, circumference, shape of the digits, etc.  The prosthetics bear no straps or rivets, but elbows, knees, ankles, and knuckles are well-articulated.  Once the deal is sealed, Bertram fits the new limb to the stump of the old; and, strangely enough, the gypsies always seem to have just the right 'part' to fit the injury, whether it be a full amputation or something less.

As the new wooden limb is pressed up against the buyer's flesh, the weird wood reaches out to grip the stub, and bonds for life.  Almost immediately, the wooden limb functions fairly well - in a matter of days, it is as dextrous as the limb it replaced; fingers move as directed, wooden legs allow a nice swift run or kick, and so forth.  Of course, everyone assumes there is gypsy magic - or something beyond it - at work.  The cost paid and the limb fitted, Bertram and his family depart, continuing on down the road.  Once out of sight, they are gone - turning back down the road to catch up with the limb gypsies is to no avail.


If fitted with a limb gypsy prosthetic, the following occurs to a character:

1) Within hours, the limb is at full functionality.  Dexterity, nerves, pain sensation, the whole nine yards.

2) The replacement limb reacts like flesh, but is still wooden, and the recipient should be careful around fire and the like.

3) The character's new limb may (25%) develop extra 'abilities' over the course of a few days, per the table below.  If a character has two of the same limb (both arms, for example), the total chance of extra abilities jumps to 75%, but only one ability is rolled regardless.  Having more than two gypsy limbs is...a bad idea.

ARM:  1-2 +1 Strength; 3-6 +1 AC if the arm bears a shield or a parrying weapon and is unencumbered by heavy armor, as the arm occasionally parries blows on its own.

HAND:  1-2 +1 Dexterity; 3-4 the hand apparently can play the piano or harpsichord, and elects to do so when the opportunity avails; 5-6 the hand writes long, rambling letters in an unknown language while the character is sleeping.

LEG: 1-3 increase land speed by five feet or so; 4-6 add 25% to jumping distance.

FOOT:  In times of great stress that would stimulate the fight-or-flight response, the foot sprouts roots and attempts to (save vs paralysis) stick to the ground; the rootlets easily penetrate stockings, shoes, and boots, but are stopped by metal footwear.  The roots are easily cut with a blade, but not easily yanked from the ground.

4) All treants, dryads, and the like are immediately hostile to the character.

5) After 1d4 weeks, the receiving character slides one step along the alignment spectrum toward Chaos.  Another 2d4 weeks, another step toward Chaos if necessary.  (If using nine alignments, continue steps first toward Chaos, then toward Evil, every 2d4 weeks.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Putting Out Fires

A well-meaning but dim-witted wizard's apprentice casually selects a new career.

Nothing says 'Monday' quite like a laptop crash, right?  So I have a shiny new laptop, but I lost all the awesome public-domain pics I'd been squirreling away for blog-use.

Time to start again!  And get used to Windows 7.  And Google Chrome.

And it feels like I haven't produced a blogpost in ages, even though the last was on Friday.

Anyway, more to come, no worries.  Will be back in the groove presently.  Lots of half-formed ideas percolating about.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wining & Dining

Just after supper-time at the Smiling Jackalope, one of River-Town's more pleasant establishments.  You can tell the place is upscale from the fancy lamps, and also because no one in the picture is dead or on fire.

Although frontiersmen in Wampus Country usually combine fresh game with hardtack and call it a meal, in the towns one will find a fine selection of saloons, taverns, and ordinaries.  Availability of any particular food, and its price, will vary widely, but the below gives a good idea of what food and drink cost on the edge of the frontier.

Prices are in dollars and cents ($1 = 1gp = 10sp = 100cp).  Both coins and paper money are common in Wampus Country.

such as one might find at a saloon or ordinary
Standard tavern/inn combo: good breakfast 40 cents, a good dinner 50 cents, a good supper 40 cents, lodging 12 cents, making $1.42 per day; while a common breakfast, dinner, and supper cost each 10 cents less or $1.12 per day

Boiled mutton with oyster sauce, 10 cents
Roast beef with lima beans, 10 cents
Pig's feet, soused or in batter, 10 cents
Beefsteak and onions, with fried potatoes, 10 cents
Stewed mutton with bread, butter and potatoes, 5 cents
Buckwheat cakes with honey, 5 cents
Clam chowder, 5 cents
Cup of chocolate (hot chocolate), 5 cents
Chicken pot pie, 20 cents
Porterhouse steak, 25 cents
Baked apples, 5 cents
Stewed prunes, 5 cents
Roast turkey and currant jelly, 25 cents
Hot oatmeal mush, 10 cents

such as one might find at a restaurant in River-Town or the like
Ox tail soup, 1.00
Baked trout in a white sauce, 1.50
Roast beef, Stuffed lamb or mutton, 1.00
Pork & apple sauce, 1.25
Curried sausages, 1.00
Stewed Kidney in a wine sauce, 1.25
Beef stewed with onions, 1.25
Tenderloin lamb, green peas, 1.25
Baked sweet potatoes, boiled potatoes, cabbage, squash, .50 (each)
Bread pudding, mince pie, apple pie, cheese, stewed prunes, .75 (each)
Brandy peach pastry, rum omelette, jelly omelette, 2.00 (each)

you want ice? double the price.
20-ounce bottle of soda (orange, grape, root beer, sarsparilla, ginger ale, etc), 5 cents
Pint of common beer, 5 cents (example: local brew, Northern Star, Swordsman)
Pint of upscale beer, 8 to 10 cents (example: Thunderbolt lagers, Blue Tiger Ale)
Sparkling bubbly, 5.00 (bottle)
Pale sherry, 3.00 (bottle)
Madeira, 4.00 (bottle)
Claret, 2.00 (bottle)
Short-mead or metheglin, 2.00 (bottle)


Pork, 11 cents/lb
Bacon, 12 1/2-15 cents/lb
Salted or corned beef, 8 1/2-9 cents/lb
Fresh beef, 4 1/2-5 cents/lb
Lambs, 2-2.35/cwt
Goats, 1.75-2.00/cwt
Beef, 2.50-3.00/cwt (live weight)

Hogs, 4.00-4.50/cwt

Veal calves, six weeks old, 3.00/cwt
Turkeys, 30-35 cents each 
Hens, 8.5-9 cents each
Eggs, 6 1/4 cents per dozen
Hard bread, 9-10 cents/lb
Beans, 10 1/2cents/quart

Flour and meal (per cwt, 100 pounds)
Wheat flour, 2.25-2.50
Rye flour, 2.25
Oats, 30-55 cents
Corn meal, 1.50-2.00
Bran & shorts, 60 cents
Maize, on cob, 22-27 cents

Family markets
Eggs, 16-18 cents/dozen
Buter, 16-18 cents/lb
Green apples, 2.00-3.25/barrel
Potatoes, 18-23 cents/bush(el)
Common salt, 2.20/bbl (bushel barrel)
Hams, 12-14 cents/lb
Cheese, 12-14 cents/lb
Codfish, 5-6 cents/lb
Whitefish, 3.20/half barrel
Table salt, 20-25 cents/sack
Brown sugar, 7-9 cents/lb
White sugar, 10-14 cents/lb
Coffee, 15-20 cents/lb
Tea, 50-75 cents/lb
Molasses, 40-50 cents/gallon
Vinegar (cider), 25 cents/gallon
Dried apples, 9 cents/lb
Dried peaches, 20 cents/lb
Cranberries, 12 cents/quart
Squash/gourds, 1.00/cwt
Raisins, 12-20 cents/lb
Honey, 25 cents/lb
Lemons, 2-3 cents/each
Sweet potatoes, 2.00/bushel
Squashes, 2-3 cents/each
Lake trout, 8 cents/lb
Currants, 12 cents/lb
Lard, butter, or tallow, 8.5-9 cents/lb
Chocolate bar, 5 cents

The above is kludged together from a sampling of food prices in the U.S. between 1800 and 1880, adjusted in places where there was seeming weirdness.  Note that I have not yet banged these costs up against standard D&D costs whatsoever - that's the next step.  I'm hoping that the gp=dollar works out pretty cleanly.