Pixels & Platforms

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Gamma Knights Review

I am terrible at writing reviews, but even so, I think I'm going to try. This is my review for Gamma Knights, a supplement for Gamma World 4e. Gamma Knights includes new content for Power Armors in Gamma World 4e, in addition to being its own wargame. Below are a few caveats for the review (in addition to me being terrible at writing it).

  • This review is just for the RPG supplement content, not the wargame content. It seems like it might be a fine wargame, that just doesn't interest me personally at the moment and I didn't read it thoroughly. 
  • This review is of the pdf, purchased on drivethrurpg during the 2019 black friday / cyber monday sale.
  • I have not read Gamma World 4e in a while, which I also purchased as a pdf on drivethrurpg at some point, but from what I vaguely remember it is more or less compatible with D&D 2e and by extension most OSR. 
  • I have not played this supplement nor any version of Gamma World, although I have incorporated some elements of Gamma World into my campaigns at various points, most notably in my first Phantasmos campaign. In other words, this review is not from in-use experience, just of the book and my impressions of how it might play.

What is Gamma World?

For those of you who don't know what Gamma World is, it's a post-apocalyptic (arguably post-post-apocalyptic) science fantasy setting, arguably THE post-apocalyptic science fantasy setting. It's usually tongue in cheek, with plenty of references to the real world. You have mutants of all kinds, uplifted animals and plants, robots, and high-tech humanoids. It's Weird & Wonderful and it's a shame that it's never come close to the same level of popularity as it's sibling D&D (it was originally created by TSR and is currently owned by Wizards of the Coast). It's inspirations can be felt all over the OSR though, and even videogames like Fallout or Borderlands.

Visuals, layout, and pdf quality

Sometimes the pdfs of these older games are really low quality scans. Granted I read it on my brand new microsoft surface pro 7 which I also bought for black friday because I'm that guy, but it ran well and looked good. The text has been parsed from the page and can be searched and copied, not sure about bookmarks and stuff since I don't really bother with that anyway (I have a onenote file where I keep all my bookmarks anyway).

The layout is nice. It's simple and a little dense, but that's pretty typical of books of its era, or so it seems to me. I was pleasantly impressed by the art. It's black and white and has that old school cartoony charm, but it's well done and the designs were more interesting than I expected. Even though Gamma World is in many ways the archetypal post-apocalyptic science fantasy, I do think it has a certain unique identity of its own, and it comes through in the Gamma Knights art.

Writing and Clarity

It's a bit dense and overwritten, sometimes obfuscating important information with needless detail or getting deep into minutia or blending discussion of mechanics and setting in ways that I personally dislike. That being said, I generally found it to be well written and relatively clear. Despite the mechanics being a bit more fiddly than I'd like, they do a good job of explaining how it all works and making it make intuitive sense. All of the parts of the power armors are explained, with light mechanical explanation, before really getting into the meat of things, which I think was smart. That being said, I would have preferred if they had included an even higher-level overview, very briefly explaining all the parts and how the power armors work in one concise section, maybe a few paragraphs at most.


The mechanics of the power armors are a little more fiddly than I'd like, but I'm intrigued. A lot of the faux-realism fiddlyness can be easily ignored, and most of the mechanical fiddlyness that is there seems logical and fun. While I generally prefer rules-light games that stay out of my way and don't pack all that my character can do in a tight build, I do like to "build" a mech, and it's a nice way to differentiate mechs / power armors from regular play.

They provide a reasonable number of pre-made power armors (Standard Armor Suits) which can be used as a good point of reference. They don't explicitly have a section for different power armor chassis which seems weird, but one can simple take the chassis of the pre-made power armors and re-spec the slots.

The power armors have a base AC and a number of slots, for head, left arm, right arm, front plate, back plate, left leg, and right leg. Certain mods (I don't think they ever provide a specific terminology for all gear so I'm calling them mods, but I could be misremembering) can only be placed in certain locations, and also any given mod must be able to fit within the entirety of that location (e.g. a mod that requires three slots can't be placed on the back plate if there are only two slots left). In addition, most mods require power, so the power armor must have quantum processing units (QPCs) to power those parts. A power armor doesn't need to have enough QPCs to power all their mods at once, they can switch them on and off. The slots system is exactly what I want from a mech supplement, and the power part at first seemed like the kind of thing I'd find annoying, but actually the impracticality of having all mods powered at once, and having to think about when to switch them on and off, actually seems like it could be fun and not just fiddlyness for the sake of fiddlyness.


While there are some useful tables in the back, and also for the mods for each section, there is annoyingly not a section where all the mods tables are collected together. Also, while the pre-made power armors include the location and power demand of each mod, they don't include the number of slots for each mod. Maybe it was a formatting thing that they couldn't fit it, but it's very annoying that it's not there. This issue with the tables is probably my single biggest issue with the book, but even so it's not too bad, it just could be better. Note that the tables at the front of the book are for the wargame, not the RPG (or at least, so I can tell...).

The "Mods"

The mods are broken into sensors, which generally provide sensory and attack bonuses, defensive options which provide defensive bonuses and healing/repair, weapons (melee, ranged, missile, grenade), locomative assist options which give movement bonuses, and strength enhancements which provide unarmed damage bonuses and increased carrying capacity.

The mods are all surprisingly interesting, both in terms of flavor and mechanics. The autosurgeon defensive option seems to predict research in neuroimmunology that I don't think existed yet when this book was written. There are multiple kinds of force fields and they have various benefits and flaws and counterbalances that all seem tactically interesting and evoke a sense of being in a power armor. As do the mechanics for computer systems and computer-assisted actions. The weapons are also surprisingly interesting; the flavor text for the Mark XII Blaster elevates it to something more than just a generic scifi gun.

All of that being said, this all seems like the kind of thing that could just... not work. Like, it reads well on the page and sounds interesting, but in practice I could see it being really difficult to plan for as a GM, difficult to keep track of as a player, and slow down combat or any tactical maneuvering to a boring crawl, like the grating of rusting metal plates against each other. I don't think I can say for sure without trying. If nothing else, it's all inspiring.

So What Do I Think About Gamma Knights?

If nothing else, it was an entertaining and inspiring read, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in incorporating power armors into their OSR game. They suggest that power armors should be rare and limited within the Gamma World setting, but this begs to be at the center of a campaign. Given how powerful the power armors are, one could easily scale up these power armors into mechs, without even necessarily touching the mechanics, besides maybe just units of measurement for movements.

I am skeptical about whether or not some of the mechanics like the force fields or computers would actually be fun, but they're also some of the more interesting ideas. However, if nothing else, this book makes me want to play / run a Gamma Knights game, or at least make a power armor / mech OSR or TNT hack inspired by this, but stripped down. If you've played this or have read it and have thoughts of your own, please let me know! I hope this review inspires others to check it out and give it a shot, or make something like it.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Martians pt.1: TNT Character Types

I've been struggling creatively (as I've recently mentioned), but as I suspected, the process of venting publicly about my creative frustrations did help inspire me creatively.

I've been enjoying these TNT character types, even if I am yet to succeed at making TNT the new GLOG (that's a draft I am wholly unprepared to post at this stage). One thing though, is that I think most of my TNT character types so far have been cool ideas, but too complicated or overwritten. Wanting to simplify was part of the appeal of writing the Subtypes (here and here). What appealed to me so much about TNT in the first place was how simple and elegant the character types are (although imo the rogue is underpowered, but my house rules alleviate that somewhat, I think). The warrior gets an additional 1d6 combat dice per level for melee attacks, can double the hit reduction of their armor if they roll Wear & Tear, and can't use magic. That's it. Simple, elegant, fun. So as much as I like some of my more "high-concept" character types, I'm going to try to keep most of them relatively simple going forward. Also, given my more limited time and creative slump, simple is easier ;).

Here are a few character types for martians, inspired largely by schlocky B movie-style martians that I a mainly associate with the 1950's, and then 80's/90's, but seems to have fallen out of favor in the decades since. In October I went to a cool arcade in Asbury Park that was largely pinball focused, and it had a really cool martian pinball machine. I don't know why, I'm not a huge pinball guy, but for some reason whenever I do play pinball, I find it really creatively inspiring. So anyway, it made me want to make some martian TNT character types. It also made me want to come up with some headier tabletop RPG concepts, but I just don't have that in me right now, so this will have to suffice for now.

This post has actually turned into something much larger than I initially anticipated, so I think I'm going to break it into parts. This first part will be Character Types, but it will be followed by (in no particular order) an Items/Gear/Vehicles list, a Bestiary, maybe a Martian Spellbook, or a micro-setting post...

I'm pretty sure it was this pinball cabinet. Also, this animated 3D image is perfect for what I'm going for here!

Martian Psychomancer

The psychomancers are psionically-empowered martians. The ancient martian wizard Vance developed a new kind of magic; by encoding memory engrams from the psychosphere, they can cast any spell in the martian collective unconscious, so long as they are powerful enough, and have time to prepare the psychograms.

  • Same abilities as Wizards except for the following.
  • Must prepare psychograms over the course of a long rest (e.g. beginning of the day). Allocate WIZ for each psychogram. A spell may be encoded more than once. Left over WIZ may be used to powerup psychograms at time of casting.
  • Psychomancers may prepare any spell from the GM approved spell list of their level or lower.

Martian Thark

The Tharks are ogre-sized, four-armed, fanged or tusked martian warriors with large, menacing, glowing red eyes. Their extra arms and regenerative abilities make them a force to be reckoned with.
  • May regenerate 1d6 CON as a single action up to their level times per day.
  • May attack unarmed with all four fists for 2d6 damage per fist plus combat adds (applied once, NOT per fist!).
  • Lack the acuity to multi-wield weapons efficiently, but may use their extra arms to carry additional shields, backup weapons, or other gear or items, or attempt to grapple* and attack in one turn as part of a full turn action.
* I forget if there are official grapple rules off-hand, but here is my proposed grapple rules: Make a strength SR, default level 2, modified if the enemy is much smaller or larger (difficult to grasp), too powerful, abnormally shaped, etc., or modified easier if the grappler is much stronger. Grappled enemies may not move or attack on the subsequent turn. The grappler must re-roll the SR each turn to maintain the grapple, and each turn the SR level increases by 1.

Barsoom was another inspiration for this

Martian Radium Legionnaire

The Radium Legionnaires are the elite foot soldiers of the Martian Space Force. They are infamous across the galaxy for the explosive, devastating power of their radium pistols.
  • Gain +2 combat adds per level for missile attacks.
  • May make a Radium Explosion (as missile attack SR) up to their level times per day with a Radium Pistol.
  • Do not need to roll Wear & Tear for normal use of a Radium Pistol and critical fails on missile attack SRs with Radium Pistols do not destroy the pistol or create a local explosion.
  • May choose not to create a Radium Explosion when rolling doubles on a missile attack SR with a Radium Pistol.
  • The missile SR for lobbing Radium Grenades is decreased by 1.
  •  (see Radium Explosion).

The coolest Marvin the Martian

Radium Explosion: The target and all characters in melee range of the target (including allies) take 1d6 radium explosion damage.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Help! Life is good and I don't know what to do about it!!!

For the past month+, everything I've posted was a complete or mostly complete draft that I had written at some point prior, in some cases much prior. I've got a handful of drafts nearly finished that I just can't wrap up, and a handful of ideas I haven't started writing yet and haven't been able to focus on. Only a couple of those are from more recently than a month ago and I have written nothing in that time. I haven't gamed in that time either, although that may change this weekend. I can kind of feel the bug coming back. The problem is that life has been really good lately, and I'm afraid that life being good is killing me creatively. I keep trying to remind myself that Republicans and Boomers are ruining the world and the president of the United States is a rapist traitor who launders money for the Russians and China is committing genocide and climate change is plausibly going to make my 401K irrelevant, and I am genuinely upset about all of these things, but on a personal level life is good, and apparently I lose creative inspiration and/or motivation to create when I'm happy? I don't even think I'm really happy, just the closest fascimile of happiness that I'm capable of experiencing that will likely crumble at any moment anyway, but in the meantime I don't know what to do about this. I'm trying to convince myself that this creative break will give me a chance to refresh and I'll come back stronger, but what if I just don't? I think I need to make a concerted effort here, but I don't know how or towards what ends. What is something reasonable and within my wheelhouse you'd like to see from me? Or maybe something outside my wheelhouse? This is a rant. Hopefully I'll have a real post soon.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Throne of Salt Mothership Play Report (and The Microbiome)

I recently (as of when I drafted this post, it's actually been quite a while) played in Dan D's Mothership game (I'm tagging this Danscape since that's what I used for Dan's other game I played in, but it's a different setting), and it was awesome! I also tagged this post as play report even though it's not much of a PR because I'm terrible at them, but I'll say that it was effectively a very creepy, modern Lovecraftian game- not in the sense of encountering Cthulhu, but in the sense of their being a low-key disquieting, ominous factor throughout the session.

We investigated a radio tower on behalf of our Handler named Friend, who communicates to us through an old-school CRT monitor as a smiley face which is burned into the screen (I jumped into the game without proper context for the setting so it's possible I'm making some incorrect assumptions). We encountered an android that wore human skin which I named Leatherdroid, which had gone insane and was attempting to find the Blessed Interface, a means of reaching singularity with some sort of Machine God. Then we wound up in a small town under the thumb of space fascists that served amazing Goan food and drink. Dan's going to write a better play report later but that's the gist of it, and my explanation is not doing it justice but it was great.

Anyway, this is about an idea I had for the setting. Dan has said that every player can contribute one thing to the setting, and I have a hard time turning down an opportunity to do some worldbuilding! A big theme of the setting seems to be the idea of trans-species-ism; the androids trying to find the Blessed Interface, various post-human species, uplifted animals, etc., and additionally there is the aforementioned theme of ominous weirdness, so this idea is intended to combine those two things. I don't know if he's actually going to use it, but I liked the idea so I'm posting it here.

*NOTE: It was brought to my attention that this idea may come off as offensive. To be clear, the choice to make the human antecedents of the Microbiome Hasidic Jews was only because I wanted to tie in a real-world religious / cultural element, and I wanted Kabbalah iconography (specifically the spheres of qlippoth / sephiroth, which seemed like a cool symbolic representation of the Microbiome). It was in no way intended as any kind of statement about Hasidic Jews. For what it's worth, I am ethnically Jewish (although not Hasidic), which may be why it didn't even occur to me that it could be interpreted as offensive. I wanted to leave this idea in its original form, but there's certainly no reason why you couldn't just take that part out, it's certainly not critical to the idea. Anyway, this caveat is partially why I delayed posting this for so long, but I'm running out of pre-drafted posts and haven't had much time or creative energy lately, so I'm taking my chances and hoping people understand and can take from it what they will.*

Uplifted Microbiome
The bacteria, yeast, and single-cell organisms that comprise the microbiome of a community of humans became uplifted. It is unclear whether this was by design, or an emergent phenomenon, as the community has managed to keep its nature a secret from the wider world. One could theoretically conceive of a means to scientifically test for the existence of the microbiome, but they have not yet incited a need for the world to do so.

The human hosts of the original microbiome mostly maintained their independent intelligence and autonomy, not even conscious of the intelligence lifeforms within them, but over generations of neuro-immune, genetic, epigenetic, and selective meddling, the human hosts have been reduced to little more than biological machine vehicles for the microbiome, and would not be able to survive without the microbiome except with extreme medical intervention.

The original human hosts were Hasidim, and the microbiome religion uses iconography of Kabbalah, seeing the Tree of Life, and the spheres of the Sefirot and Qlippoth, as God communicating the concept of the microbiome to humans, who failed to heed God's wisdom. The fruit of knowledge for humans was a poison to the microbiome, dulling it for the sake of the human hosts. Eden was not outside humanity, it was within.

The microbiome have no social taboos around excrement and other bodily expulsions, and in fact have many religious rituals around it. Poop is to be revered, but it is also sensual and sexual. It is not wasted, instead it is laid throughout the town, a constantly fed, living network, connecting the microbiome.

The human hosts provide little in the way of intellectual identity, existing as little more than a "lizard brain". They have simple urges, mostly relating to pain and pleasure. The microbiome are thrillseekers; they play with knives, they touch hot things until their skin burns. Mutilation is a lifestyle choice. Sometimes they forget to restrain themselves around humans.

They try to be respectful of humans, but to them, humans are like zombies or morlocks; they look into human eyes and see little more than a dumb animal, a primitive microbiome trapped in meat, a creature living its entire life in sensory deprivation.

While the microbiome expresses itself uniquely within each host, and undergoes rapid change moment-to-moment, there is a large degree of continuity in its being. It is difficult to quantify how many microbiome individuals exist, or if it is meaningful to quantify them as such. While their hosts have gender, the microbiome do not. They communicate verbally as humans, or through the expulsion of bodily functions, burping and farting and pooping, and these pheromone signatures are not just artifacts of communication, but part of the microbiome itself.

Their human bodies are not tied to their identity or intelligence, and because they can transfer between bodies, and at least temporarily exist outside the body in excrement, the body has very little psychosocial value to them. They wear clothing only for protection, as needed, or to make humans comfortable, and they put very little effort into physical appearances. They are not sexually attracted to human bodies but to human microbiomes (but only the most exceptional).

Their lack of hygiene, due to lack of care of the body, and the practical and ritualistic use of excrement and other bodily expulsions, disgusts most humans- at first. The microbiome is smarter than human gut flora, and soon humans no longer notice the smell, and find that the microbiotic "humans" have a je ne sais quoi about them, a subtle underlying attractiveness. The symbiosis between human host and microbiome is so deeply selected that baseline humans are not at immediate risk of infection. It would take months or even years before the microbiome could even survive the hostile wilds of a human gut forest. However, it is theoretically possible, and would be exacerbated by sexual transmission or the insertion of microbiome excrement into a human.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

More TNT Character Subtypes

Part of my series of TNT content, currently including:

TNT House Rules and Cheatsheet
TNT Character Type: Mystic
TNT Character Type: The Huntsman (and TNT Traps)
TNT Character Type: War Dogs (and Caves & Canines Hack)
TNT Character Type: Warlord
TNT Character Subtypes: Paladin, Eldritch Knight, Ace
Mechs & Monstrosities Hack
M&M: Mechs
Dueling Minigame

Berserker (Warrior Subtype)
Harder-hitting warriors, but less resilient.
  • Do not gain armor bonuses from wearing body armor, helmet, shield, gloves, etc.
  • Rage: Once activated, lasts 1d4 turns. Counts as a free action (can move, attack, or do other things the same round as raging). Add +1d6 combat dice per barbarian level to combat rolls, but take 1d6 damage at the end of the rage (ignores armor).

Cleric (Wizard Subtype)
Can cast "divine" spells at no cost, but with longer cast-times.
  • Cleric spells do not cost WIZ.
  • Cleric spells require praying for spell level - WIZ level number of turns (minimum 1).
    • If the party (if in group combat) or the cleric takes combat damage, there is a 1 in 4 chance that the cleric spell will be interrupted.
    • Powering up spells increases duration rather than WIZ cost.
  • Unlike wizard spells, cleric spells resolve last in combat.
  • Can only cast divine spells (see examples).
  • Do not subtract cleric level from WIZ cost / duration.
  • No benefits of wizard focus.
  • Example Spells:
    • Detect Magic --> Detect Divine (holy/unholy)
    • It's Elementary --> Holy Water, Divine Light
    • Oh Go Away --> Turn Undead (powerup increases duration geometrically)
    • Will O' Wisp --> Divine light rather than blue light
    • Poor Baby --> Can be cast as level 1 spell. Powerup increases quantity linearly OR increases range (touch -> close -> short -> medium -> long).
    • etc...

Bard (Rogue Subtype)
Limited talent versatility compared to Rogue. Better spellcaster, but less flexible (in combat takes a turn to switch from casting to fighting).
  • At least one talent must be presentation-oriented (music, acting, singing, dancing, etc.).
  • Can use a presentation tool as a wizard-like focus for spellcasting (e.g. instrument, prop).
  • During combat, takes one turn to switch between a performance (spellcasting) and regular combat attacks.

Mystic (Rogue Subtype)
A simpler version of my Mystic Type as a Rogue Subtype. The ability to optimize for mental attributes and the tank-like CON/WIZ ability is offset by increased spell cost and limited unarmed / mystic focus damage.
  • Use mental attributes for combat adds when fighting unarmed or with mystic focus weapons (IQ, WIZ, CHA, LK).
    • Mystic focus weapons do not provide any other benefits.
  • Spells cost 1.5x WIZ to cast.
  • Body and Mind are one: CON and WIZ are interchangeable for taking damage and casting mystic spells.
  • Can fight unarmed or with mystic focus weapons with (1d6 * STR Multiplier) + 1d6 + combat adds.
    • For human characters, this would mean 2d6 + combat adds
    • This is the same as the Martial Arts rules in TNT Deluxe but with an additional 1d6

Huntsman (Warrior Subtype)
A simpler version of my Huntsman Type as a Warrior Subtype. Sort of like a more combat-oriented rogue or dungeoneer.
  • Gain warrior combat dice only on surprise attacks or ranged attacks while hidden.
  • Cannot wear metal or other heavy armor (or else lose other huntsman abilities).
  • Gain one of the following as a bonus talent: trap-making, trap-setting, hunting, tracking, lumberjacking, survivalism

Artificer (Wizard Subtype)
Less flexible than a wizard, but arguably longer-lasting. Additionally, depending on what kind of spells are imbued in what kinds of items, they can be made to be more warrior-like.
  • Can imbue items with spells.
    • Imbued spells do not cost WIZ to cast.
    • Only Artificers can cast imbued spells.
    • Can only imbue spells of artificer-level or lower.
    • Takes spell-level hours to imbue an item.
    • Must roll SR Luck for wear & tear after each casting of imbued spell.
    • Artificer's WIZ is reduced by the WIZ cost of the spell plus spell-level until the imbued item is destroyed or discarded. If the imbued item is later retrieved / put to use, the WIZ reduction re-applies.
      • Discarded means nobody in the party has access to it. If you give it to a party-member it still affects your WIZ.
    • An item can only be imbued with one spell at a time.
  • Cannot cast spells.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Terrible & Awesome Sorcerers

I was discussing Robert E. Howard (Conan)-style Sorcery with Lungfungus of Melancholies & Mirth, who is doing some really cool stuff with Conan-style mechanics, and we came to a topic I've thought a lot about and been meaning to come back to in a blog post.

Magic in D&D and other tabletop RPGs is very mechanical, more so in D&D 3.+ than in OSR, but still, it is mechanical, and in being mechanical, loses some of the metaphysical, abstract, metaphoric "Terrible & Awesomeness" of Howard magic, or magic in other older fantasy literature (I would argue this all applies more or less to Tolkien as well).

So below is a Terrible & Awesome Sorcerer generator; the Fate of those who become entangled with them, their otherwordly Presence, and what makes them a Force of Nature (and how to overcome them). Figuring out how to work with, work against, or avoid them at all costs, becomes a challenge unto itself, like a fairytale.

I've played with this idea to some extent with how I use superpowers in my games; basically defining them loosely and letting players Just Do It if it's a minor thing, or roll to do it, or spend some kind of player point to do it if it's advanced enough. But in those cases it's more of a story-game effect like a FATE aspect, made loose just to keep the game running smoothly and emphasize narration and flavor. This is about leveraging that same kind of mechanic, a nominally "storygame" mechanic, in an OSR or TNT-style capital-G Game. A character in an OSR game that plays like a "storygame" character would be something Terrible & Awesome, something Weird and detached from the physics of the game in a very real sense. If your fate is foretold by sorcery, IT WILL HAPPEN AS A FACT OF THE UNIVERSE.

Take these as non-finite, as suggestions. Feel free to tweak them and make your own.

Note that I have been very busy lately, in a good way, but unfortunately it means I did not have time to code this up as I would have liked to and as I usually do.

This sorcerer compels Fate. To...
  1. do business with
  2. appease
  3. anger
  4. become acquaintances, friends, or fall in love with
  5. run from, ignore, or deny the wishes of
  6. seek out, give audience, or acquiesce to the wishes of
  7. loyally serve
  8. morally or principally oppose
  9. be known by
  10. personally meet
  11. be in the presence of
  12. have personally met and been forgotten by
  13. have personally met and forgotten about
  14. create, spread, or hear/read rumors about
  15. develop a relationship of any (or some specific) kind with a close friend, family, or lover of
  16. get drunk or high with
  17. survive a deadly battle or duel against
  18. impress
  19. fail to impress
  20. deeply know
this sorcerer is to...
  1. Suffer the curse of
    1. Mortality: You will die soon.
    2. Loss: You will lose a loved one soon.
    3. Mutilation: You will be transformed in a grotesque and debilitating way soon.
    4. Jinx: You will be unlucky forever after (always have Disadvantage e.g. roll two dice and take the lower value, or a similar negative game mechanic).
    5. Debilitation: One of your abilities (or some equivalent, depending on game) will be permanently impaired by 1d4 and cannot ever be raised above that value.
    6. Forgetfulness: You will forget some important aspect of your history, a piece that may very well change who you are as a person.
    7. Hatred: If you do not already feel all-consuming hatred towards another, you will develop a feeling of all-consuming hatred towards another soon, driven by some tragic circumstance. You will never overcome this hatred.
    8. Irony: Your strength will become your weakness; that which you most value will cause you enormous grief; you will come so close to succeeding at your greatest ambition, only to fail in some tragic and symbolic way.
  2. Gain the boon of
    1. Peaceful Death: You will not die violently, unexpectedly, or in pain.
    2. Love: You will always have love in your life.
    3. Beauty: You will become, and forever after be the most beautiful version of yourself, regardless of how your body changes over the course of your life. Others will recognize this beauty in you, and you will have self-acceptance of this beauty.
    4. Blessing: You will be lucky forever after (always have Advantage e.g. roll two dice and take the higher value, or a similar positive game mechanic).
    5. Empowerment: One of your abilities (or some equivalent, depending on the game) will be permanently increased by 1d4 and cannot ever go below that value.
    6. Remembrance: You will remember some important aspect of your history that will change you for the better. If nothing of such value has been forgotten, you will experience a dream of equal substance. 
    7. Acceptance: You will come to terms with a hated enemy. If you have no hated enemies, you will have the certainty that you will never make one.
    8. Irony: Your weakness will become your strength; that which you most detest will be your salvation; on the verge of failing at your greatest ambition, a comedic or symbolic deus ex machina will favor you.
This sorcerer has a Presence. Around this sorcerer...
  1. the beauty in all things is apparent.
  2. the ugliness in all things is apparent.
  3. animals and monsters, even those domesticated, revert to their basest natures.
  4. conversation and all noise-making gives way to silence and seriousness.
  5. activities, even those of importance, give way to raucous merriment and silliness.
  6. playful or socially acceptable violent urges are likely to be acted upon, and they will escalate if allowed.
  7. the dead or lost are remembered.
  8. the dead or lost are forgotten.
  9. an oppressive lethargy, an ennui, presses upon all.
  10. animals and monsters, even the wildest sorts, are abated, and carry a gravitas evocative of a heretofore unseen intellect.
  11. it is difficult to remember names, details, facts, or prepared spells.
  12. muscle memory and other skillful actions feel sloppy and unpracticed.
This sorcerer is a Force of Nature. They cannot...
  1. be harmed or killed
  2. be impeded
  3. be banished
  4. fail
  1. their true name is revealed.
  2. they fall in love.
  3. their phylactory or other sorcerous focus is destroyed.
  4. they experience empathy.
  5. they reach enlightenment.
  6. they will it to be so.
  7. they dream.
  8. reality is fundamentally altered.
  9. reality ceases to be.
  10. a hero succeeds in their journey.
  11. they produce an heir.
  12. they take a life.
  13. they refuse to kill.
  14. someone or something they love is killed.
  15. someone they love is turned against them.
  16. they are shamed.
  17. they are made to forget themselves.
  18. a species is brought to extinction.
  19. a civilization is destroyed, all traces of their existence are irrecoverable, and they are forgotten.
  20. they defy the gods.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

BONUS: J-Pop and Jazz

So I've talked before about my interest in jazz, and I've also talked about anime before. Nujabes and Shoji Meguro, the Sega Sound Team, and the anime and videogames they've worked on such as Samurai Champloo, Persona, and Jet Set Radio, have influenced me creatively, on an aesthetic level and also a deeper thematic level. I don't know when I'll actually post this, but I watched this video on youtube "recently" (as of drafting this post), of the J-Music Ensemble, and found Patrick Bartley to be a really interesting and insightful person, in addition to an excellent musician, although unfortunately I don't know a whole lot about music or music theory. I look forward to exploring his music and learning more about his music theories in the future.

Some of my ideas that I've posted about or intend to post about that have the strongest musical influences are below:

From my old micro-settings post:

  • Phantasmos has some jazzy elements that I'll discuss below
  • Cold War Under a Rising Sun is an alternate history setting largely about the development of Japanese culture in the 20th century, including the music
  • Kwik & Kantankerous is inspired by Mario Kart crossed with Fast & Furious, so like a hip-hop meets chiptune vibe
  • Quantumverse is heavily inspired by old Japanese videogames such as Super Mario (as well as early 20th century pulp such as Flash Gordon), so chiptune influences
  • Starcrossed Sentai is inspired by Power Rangers and its Japanese origins, and in a more roundabout way inspired by the videogame Earthbound, which has an excellent, funky soundtrack. The Japanese musical genre City Pop is also a big theme in this setting.
From Phantasmos (digging up several old and shoddy posts here...):
  • My SHIELDBREAKER campaign included an event inspired by a moment in Earthbound. While the music involved was more electronic than jazz, but is a demonstration of how music affects me creatively
  • Deep Time City, and the dada-DA more generally, have a strong art and music influence. In terms of music, some of the bigger influences are electroswing, trip-hop, lounge jazz, and the soundtrack from the videogame Transistor
  • The Zoomer and Necromancer classes in Phantasmos both have musical influences. The zoomer class is heavily inspired by the videogame Jet Set Radio, with its funky hip-hop vibe, and the Necromancers in phantasmos have a blend of 60's flower power and 70's disco and funk. The Necromancer Nina Soulchild also plays into this theme
Also, while I haven't posted much about them yet, the faction Le Fauves in Aquarian Dawn also has an art and music influence, currently I'm thinking more so EDM but that may change as I flesh them out more

I feel like I'm probably missing a bunch more music references (well... "Heavy Metal" comes up a lot but I'm usually referring more to the comic magazine and aesthetic than the music per se, although the two do generally go together).