Sunday, March 30, 2014

More on the Steelhead Landslide, Washington State

I take both a personal and professional interest in this tragic event.  It's close to home, and may become the worst landslide disaster in the state, eclipsing the 1910 Stevens Pass slide that took out two passenger trains.  And as I mentioned, I work for a geotechnical engineering firm - and although I am not an engineer, I support our geotechs in ground water issues, including the monitoring of a number of local landslide sites.

So the analysis from the scientific community is coming in, even as the cleanup and recovery continues.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Girls at the table, or different people play differently

Reblogging this article by Uri Kurlianchik, a gamer, youth activity director, and former writer for Wizards.  Per his words, this article got him blacklisted at Wizards for being scandalous.

So I read the article and kept waiting for the inflammatory part, or the controversial part, or the knuckledragging mouthbreather part. But couldn't find them.  That's because Uri works and plays with kids, observes kids, and like any good teacher or mentor, 'gets' kids.

This article likely rubbed folks the wrong way because some people have been conditioned to suppress the appreciation of differences. (I don't know the whole story, but knowing trolls and forums, can make some inferences...) There seems to have been an attempt over the last generation or so to downplay the differences between the sexes rather than accept them as being complimentary to one another.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Recovering Traps with Illusion"

Topic Tuesday: Recovering Traps with Illusion

Snkt the Kobold was furious!  Brrzt had claimed Snkt’s masterpiece trap, the Scorpion Slinger, as his own!

Fortunately, Snkt had his original design drawings on tanned dog-skin, and retained the services of Gnomish barrister Lobik Bizzgear of Bizzgear, Finenozzle, Castfuzz, and Schwartz, LLP. 

With nary a blink, the gnome lawyer, a master of charm and misdirection, played on the jury’s fear and suggested the defendant’s mirage was madness, then in a scintillating burst of confusion, cutting down Brrzt’s false script, leaving the jury dazed and swayed to the evidence of Snkt’s garbled text and sending Brrzt down the lonely road.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Stillaguamish Landslide

Well, this slide made national news, heard it as lead story on NPR this am - the current morbid tally is 14 deceased, 176 still unaccounted for:


A friend asked me on FB what my impression was - I'm not an engineering geologist or geotech, but I work with them (and am therefore qualified to play one on TV).

"Mor" and More, or why my villain is not likely to be named Mr. Fluffykins.

Happy Monday!


Literary names associated with villainy, darkness, evil.  All sharing the syllable 'mor.'  Why does this syllable keep popping up in the baddies' names, and why does it immediately indicate to us "Hey, this is the villain of the story."?

'Mor' is an example of a phonestheme: a part of a word that carries a connotation not because of etymology or formal definition but just by association.

So although the 'mor' syllable buried in the names may sound similar to the latin root 'mor' (death) - root to such dark words as morbid, morgue, and mortgage (literally "death pledge"), it does not specifically reference that root.  However, it references our familiarity and impressions of the root, lending atmosphere and weight to the literary bad-guy names.

Probably not a villain

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Hiding Artifacts inside Villains" Part II

I had started this entry when my wife suggested another option for "hiding" artifacts, which became my prior post.  I completed this second theme-post, then noticed Talysman's theme-post entry.  So I had to incorporate that, as well...


The Naga Snonhin has consolidated and retained her power and influence in the Fens for a generation.  Tales spread of her being seemingly killed or dismembered yet rising the next day to led her serpentmen to take revenge on whatever group foolish enough to attempt to force their way into her domain.  Tales of horribly burned survivors and smoldering encampments spread.

Her resiliency has not gone unnoticed by the mage-scholars of Quoomes.  Two winters ago, they sent the battle-mage Essbanon and Teller the Unking to the Uskh Alters.  As they suspected, the Alters were not abandoned, but had been re-established by the fire-cult of Fyss.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"Hiding Artifacts inside Villains"

"Hiding Artifacts inside Villains"

The fleeing wolf-riders were swift, but the Plains Elves on their axe-beaks rode them down.  It had been a long hunt, with relays of riders and birds, many dropping from exhaustion, as so many gold coins spent in a risky investment.

But they were desperate.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Barbie in Plate Mail

Via a friend of a friend:

A Kickstarter to create 3D printed Barbie suits of armor.

""Barbie has had many occupations over her long and storied career," Rodda wrote in the description of his Kickstarter. "Astronaut, veterinarian, pinup, and princess more times than I can count."

"She has not, to my knowledge, [dressed up as] as Brienne of Tarth until now," referring to a female knight in HBO's "Game of Thrones.""

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jason Webley vs. Neil Gaiman

So I discovered Jason Webley - a local itinerant busker/performer/destroyer of accordions a few years back...

I knew, from some of his videos, that he hangs out with Amanda Palmer...

Friday, March 14, 2014

"Studying Followers for Heaven or Hell"

Talysman, as "President" of the "OSR Blogowners Association", has made a campaign promise to tackle the problem of stale blogging topics.  Through the use, of course, of a Random Topic Generator.  I'm assuming that the topic is open to significant interpretation - discussion seeds w/r.t. roleplaying or GM-ing, as monster or NPC creation, adventure hooks, scenes, items or relics.

Today's Tuesday Topic: "Studying Followers for Heaven or Hell"

Here we have Followers of Heaven studying a Follower of Hell who studies, well, other Followers of Hell.


His Holy Father, the Padah of Ossrit, keeps the theocracy safe from the forces of Chaos through the studious and aggressive efforts of his Inquisitors.  These scholar-warriors carry with them voluminous knowledge of the myriads of demons, their powers, their influence and the cults held in thrall by these dark forces.  Through disciplined study and deduction, the Inquisitors root out the cults that threaten to undermine the Padah's heaven-sent order.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Random NPC: The Shovel Knight

Not sure where the idea for this guy popped up, but I think he fermented after some discussion on the use of a shovel or spade as a weapon.

Quick history: During WWI hand-to-hand fighting, the bayoneted rifle and trench knife often got tossed aside in favor of a sharpened entrenching tool, which could cut or smash through flesh and bone and not get hung up.  The Germans make good use of entrenching tools in their defense of the trench in this scene from All Quiet on the Western Front (shovel-swinging action starts at about 2 min):

And in more recent popular culture, the 'Spetsnaz' (Russian special forces) shovel has shown up as a favorite survival/fighting/zombie-whacking trope.  Cold Steel's cheesy hacking and throwing infomercial shows their replica version in fine form.  (Be the first on the block to have one of these bad boys!).

Friday, March 7, 2014

This is what treasure looks like.

Ok, you killed the goblins.  You find in their bedding 101 silver pieces, a few pieces of broken jewelry, a couple of small silver ingots, and a silver cup...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Catholics had some pretty cool +1 swords...

Here's a list of historical weapons wielded by warriors and nobles in the name of one sect of followers of one of our favorite Invisible Sky Gods.  (Yes, I'm being a bit flippant and sacrilegious).  That said, look at the stories/myths behind these weapons, and how they stack up against (or perhaps influenced) the weapons of fantasy: Glamdring, Stormbringer, Grayswandir...

(and yes, there are plenty of other legendary swords and weapons of both Western and Eastern culture that likely informed classic and modern fantasy writing and gaming).

We've got swords made with relics from dead saints, a sword broken/blessed by an angel, a lance that killed a dragon (or Wyrm), and a spear used to kill a god (or son of a god, depending on how one interprets their Trinity).  If those qualities don't score you at least a +1 for your weapon, I don't know what will...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wood Water Filter

So I'm a geologist as a career/vocation/hobby/toomanyrocksinthehouse...

More specifically, a hydrogeologist - concerned with the study of ground water - its occurrence, use, movement, purity or contamination.  Water is one of those irreplaceable resources - I know this from growing up farming, I see it in the current state of affairs of the allocation of and competition for the resource, and it will become more and more the center of competition and conflict has time goes on.

That said, the primary health concern in the developing world is potable water (followed by sanitation - getting rid of what our bodies have processed).  So I follow publications or news items regarding low-tech and/or innovative water resource methods.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dungeon of Lost Coppers follow-up


Dyson posted up all 64 entries in a gallery here:  The number of interpretations are quite cool, especially the number that integrate water - either within the dungeon, or incorporating the original dungeon space as an island.  Mine's buried in there somewhere.

Also - I doubt that I'll make it past the initial screening round on Erik's OSR Superstar shakedown, but all entrants did get a copy of the Dagger for Kids youth RPG.  I haven't had time to take a close look at it, and my kid is older than the suggested age range - but I am a bit of a rules-hoarder, and will likely pull elements from it - especially for rules-lite options.

Back to the caves

Wife (upon sorting and clearing various hair-care products from the bathroom):  "I wish we could just go back to the caves when we only had some sticks and berries for decoration."

Me:  "Ugg! Teela come out from behind tree!  Sticks in hair look fine!  Ceremony of Drums not wait - daystar almost to high point in sky!"

Sunday, March 2, 2014

+1 swords with a bit more

So a few of the blogosphere are rehashing the old trope of  "You've found a +1 sword." Make them a bit more, a bit special...

Where did I park my bandwagon?

Tonight's selection of +1 swords with a bit more...


This rusty-appearing long sword was enchanted by a dwarven sorcerer with a vendetta against the troll tribe that decimated his village.  Close inspection of the pommel will find that the black 'gem' mounted there is actually a petrified troll's eye...  The Trollhunter pulses when a troll is nearby and inflicts an extra 1d8 damage against trolls.  Damage inflicted by the sword upon trolls does not regenerate (although other damage will - the troll will have a permanent HP deficit from the sword damage).  The sheath is of a mottled gray skin that seems to pulse and crawl a bit on the scabbard.

One of the suggestions to add a bit more character to a magic weapon is to incorporate a liability or use cost to the weapon.