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Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday

Time for some light begging. I promise, this is the last time I'll mention it*. 


Since this is Cyber Monday, and all you good little geeks and geekettes are buying online things for friends and family, please consider buying my first published work, Undefeatable #12: Cavalier. When I wrote it I was given the choice between being paid by the word or to take a percentage of the sales, and I took the percentage. (No, I'm not going to mention the actual figures, that would be unprofessional.) 

So the more of them that get bought, the happier my Christmas will be, and since I'm a struggling artist every little bit helps. To sweeten the deal I even made a freebie download which contains two Cavalier Orders, one which is in the regular Undefeatable (Order of the Wolf) and one which hasn't been published until now (Order of the Chimera).

Please help support a geeky gamer girl and toss some money my way. It'll only cost you $1.25, and if you play Pathfinder it is TOTALLY worth the price. I'm very proud of the work I did and I know you'll be satisfied with the result.

Thank you!


* Totally not the last time

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Status Report

Sorry for falling off the planet for the past few days. It's been my usual complaint of frequent, crippling headaches, combined with burning seething hatred at the enforced pre-holiday cheer. Bah humbug.

I plan to have something entertaining written tonight, but my body could defy me yet again. Either way, here is your State of the Palette report for Fall 2010:
  • Sales of Undefeatable #21 are coming right along, and I thank you for that. Please keep it up and refer the product to people who play Pathfinder, or at least don't mind contributing 6 bits to a struggling writer. I'm working on something else for LPJ, having to do with the Summoner (and no, it's not a collection of feats) but it's proving rather elusive as it requires a fair amount of psycho-ergonomics, if that makes any sense.
  • I have been offered the position of Staff Writer for an e-zine called Zombie Research Daily, which is being produced by the Zombie Research Society. My area of expertise will be mental survival, including psychological preparation for a zombie outbreak, and how to stay sane during one. I find it humorous that my editor's first response to me was "You are mental."  (Well duuuh. :P)  Our first issue should be some time in January. 
  • I am also in discussions with Adam Thompson of Unicorn Rampant, who is interested in having me author an article (and perhaps more, if it is received well) about Pellatarrum. This is fantastic news, as it gets my setting the publicity I so desperately crave, and it gives me hope I might actually be able to make a living as a writer/game designer. 

I will of course let you know how all of these develop, once the details have been finalized.

 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WNW: TSA Hijinks in Taiwanese

I assume you're already familiar with the latest TSA kerfluffle, what with John "Don't touch my junk" Tyner starting it all and then Penn Jillette raising the stakes with actually pressing charges and talking about a lawsuit.

I find it mildly amusing that both of these events happened on the same day, November 13.

I find it fucking hilarious that the invasive, useless, make-work agency that is the TSA is about to get its ass handed to itself as the Internet rises up like some beast of swift judgment and strikes it down in the same way that the Cook's Source plaigiarist got owned.

So here's some Taiwanese animation that satirizes the situation.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pellatarrum: Bonefields

In Pellatarrum, funerary rites are taken very seriously. Given that 6 hours of every day are spent bathed in negative energy -- which is pretty much the standard definition of "unholy magics" -- making sure that your dead are properly laid to rest and are unable to rise from their graves and terrorize the living is a high priority for survival. Sadly, even when the proper funerary rites are performed, a small but significant percentage of the dead manage to reanimate in one form or another.*

What all of this means is that when a Bonefield appears, it's the result of at least three mistakes in basic funerary protocol, and that level of sloppiness is what gets towns wiped from the map.

After a large battle (and by large I mean a fight between at least two units of at least company-size or greater), sometimes the bodies are not recovered for burial at home. Sometimes this is due to high-order magic rendering the corpses unidentifiable, or because everyone in the battle died and no one was left to take their dead soldiers home. This is mistake number one.

Mistake number two happens when the bodies for both sides are dumped into a mass grave. This happens more times than you would think: if large groups of men have been fireballed until they resemble crispy sticks, it's really hard to tell whose side a person is on, or if you're burying him next to the guy who had fatally stabbed him in the guts. This is doubly true if the people doing the burial are farmers who weren't involved in the battle and would just like to have their arable land back, thank you very much.

The final mistake is what makes all of this so very tragic, because it is so very basic: there is no priest nearby to perform funeral rites and consecrate the land. Even if mistakes one and two were made, this simple act will prevent the formation of a Bonefield. Sadly, the devastation inherent in points one and two pretty much guarantee that if there were any clerics at the battle, they are dead, routed, or accompanying a high-value person (such as nobility) far behind the lines of battle for extended healing in a place of safety.

So what you have now is a large concentration of well-armed and usually highly-skilled men who died in conditions of rage, terror, and extreme agony, who are dumped into a charnel pit with their mortal enemies, and whose sacrifices aren't remembered because there are no tombstones for them and no way for their families to properly mourn them. This is the seed of a Bonefield.

Like all seeds, however, it takes time to grow. For as long as the soldiers have families to remember them, they remain dormant, if troubled, spirits. There is nothing overtly malevolent about the Bonefield; just feelings of general unease about the place. Perhaps the crops are stunted, or the water tastes bitter, or everyone who passes through it during twilight hours has horrible dreams that night. But it is nothing more than a slightly spooky place of rumor and superstition... until the last living person to remember a soldier who died there breathes her last.

Then it is harvest time, and it is the living who shall be reaped.

The dead within the Bonefield, driven by hatred at their mistreatment and whose last thoughts were of warfare and bloodshed, claw their way out of the ground and assemble in military formation. They are not simple skeletons; they are Skeletal Champions, and they will wage war against the living.

Whenever their relentless march takes them to a village, town, or any other population center without suitable defenses. Undead engineers create siege engines; undead wizards and clerics cast spells; undead rogues sneak over the walls to murder the guards and open the gates; and undead warriors swarm in to kill every living thing in sight. But that isn't the horrible part.

No, the horrible part is what happens afterwards: after the slaughter, the bonefielders take the bodies back to the original charnel pit, and bury them in the same unmarked mass grave. This becomes their supply cache for new bodies, and if a bonefielder is destroyed in battle while there is still a body in the grave, his spirit will return to its resting place and animate another body at midnight.The only way to truly destroy a bonefielder is to remove all of the bodies within the pit, and then consecrate the ground. This is much harder than it sounds, because after the initial assault, the town itself is dismantled and used to fortify the burial pit against attack. In addition,while the properties of a bonefield are such that it prevents the the bodies within it from rising as anything other than skeletal champions, there is nothing preventing the creation of incorporeal undead (ghosts, spectres, etc) as a result of the wholesale slaughter of towns and villages. Indeed, many of these undead become permanent guardians of the bonefield, safeguarding it from attack while the rest of the army is on campaign, bringing back fresh bodies for supplies.

The moral of the bonefield is simple: pay respect to fallen soldiers, or they will wreak vengeance upon those who do not recognize their sacrifice by destroying what they once protected. 




* While many towns and villages in Pellatarrum aren't happy to see adventurers come tromping through their homes, disrupting the local economy and filling the heads of youngsters with foolhardy notions, they will always roll out the red carpet when they need an undead problem re-deaded. More than a few unethical groups have turned this into a pretty decent racket, with a Cult of the Dark cleric animating the local dead so that the rest of his party can come into town and "solve their problem" for a hefty fee. Needless to say, Paladins of the Light hate these folks with a screaming purple passion.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Curse/Or: Chapter 5, Scene 2



"The doctor will see you shortly," the receptionist had said, but between Teresa's anger and the growing pain in her hand it had felt like that was hours ago. Sitting on the paper-covered examination table in an antiseptic room, with only the hiss of central air and the slow ticking of a clock to keep her company, it felt like yet another place where time entered and never left.

"Had to lose my temper, didn't I?" she groused, kicking at the paper tail that dangled below her feet. "Had to blow up. Had to stomp off. Had to leave all my fucking books in the waiting room…"

She noticed the valve labeled "PURE OXYGEN" in the wall behind her, and for a moment considered using the last vestige of her dwindling magic to force the valve open and set the whole room ablaze.

"You won't do it," said a familiar voice. The computer monitor on the cabinet across from her woke from its sleep mode with a low hum to reveal Netty's face. "It's too fast for your liking. You prefer the slow, painful route, smoking yourself to death over decades."

"Fuck you," she answered reflexively, not wanting to admit the truthfulness of the words. "You think you know me, but you don't. I'm more than data in a file. You push me hard enough, I will burn this whole thing down just to spite you."

Netty tut-tutted. "Ms. Reyes, your anger is entirely misdirected, but I shan't try to dissuade you from your assumptions. Instead, I ask you this: what if I want you to burn everything down?"

She glared at the screen. "You just try me."

"No, I am completely serious," Netty continued. "I know that you are exceedingly well-read, surely you have not missed the inherent occult symbolism of grouping you with Mr. Yarrow and Mrs. Fulcrum. There are three of you – a trinity, a prime number, the minimum number of sides to create a polygon. Young, middle-aged, and old; maiden, mother, crone. Creator, nurturer, destroyer. Judge, jury, and executioner."

"Wait just a goddamn minute," she interrupted. "You put me in the crone position?"

Netty shrugged. "Atropos suits you. Yarrow, as you surmised earlier, is still a virgin, and do you truly wish to debate your parenting skills?"

There was a loud popping sound deep within the monitor as electronic components heated, failed, and caught fire. Thin plumes of toxic smoke rose from its vents as the picture froze, warped, and died. "No," she said to the darkened screen. "Nothing to debate."

The smoke alarm above her began to shriek, sounding much like the high, shrill note of a cat with a burning ember tied to its tail.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Khaotica Korps, Assemble!

I don't know if you guys have noticed, but there is a particular brand of craziness which is going around right now. I noticed it last week, and I was certain that it was I who was insane.

"This is madness," I thought to myself, and then I immediately started looking for Spartans in tight leather briefs because that, at least, would make some sense to me. Alas, Gerard Butler was nowhere to be found, and instead I found myself kicked into the bottomless pit of dyschronia, from whence I had no idea what month it actually was.

Please tell me: this is still November, right? We still have about two-thirds of a month left before December even begins, yes? An entire national holiday (if you're American) that we must eat our way through before we begin the long national nightmare which is the Christmas shopping season? I'm right, yes? I didn't have an unexpected fugue state or accidentally time-slip?

Then can someone please tell me, why the fuck have all the stores started playing Christmas music? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like the moment Halloween was over, every retail store in existence just sort of bypassed the entire month of November. I'm even seeing signs promising pre-Black Friday sales.

What we are seeing here, dear readers, is the steady creep of Christmas backwards through time as it consumes other, lesser holidays into its ever-increasing maw. Heed my words, soon the decorations and carols will go up the day after Labor Day, and that's when we'll know we are well and truly Kringled. How long before the already-sanitized terrors of Halloween melt into festively merry ghouls and red & white striped bats? How long before Fourth of July fireworks are not fired off into the air, but dumped from above by a hapless parachuter wearing a Santa suit? What happens when our children lose their deductive reasoning, powers of observation, and competitive edge because they never had to search for Easter eggs, instead being able to simply find them in a multicolored heap under the blinking lights of the decorated Easter Shrub in their living rooms?

I implore you, all of you, to think of the future. Soon, "Christmas in July" will be a quite literal event. When every day is Christmas, then the holiday itself will lose its meaning as it collapses under the weight of continuous commercial mediocrity. Don't believe me? Look at the original purpose of Valentine's Day (hint: it was a Roman fertility festival) and these days it is single-handedly propping up the greeting-card industry. It might as well be called Hallmark Day, or You Are Obligated To Buy Shit For Your Woman Day, because at least then that would inject a much-needed bit of honesty into the whole affair. But I digress...

Just imagine, for a moment, the implications inherent in the Christmas season starting earlier each year. Imagine the lines, the craziness, the feeding frenzy of shopping lasting longer. Imagine how you will be expected to spend more and have a more lavish holiday simply because of the sheer weight of expectation that comes with having a larger build-up. Imagine Black Friday every fucking weekend.

That burning sensation you feel? It's just your pocketbook being sodomized by a peppermint candy cane. But don't worry, it was lubed with eggnog first.

My friends, we need to make a stand. We must fight back now, before the last six months of the year disappear into a cinnamon-scented event horizon. This is where we draw the line and say "Ho, ho, hold it." If you are reading this, then you have been drafted into the ranks of the Khaotica Korps, and it is our sacred duty to Fight the Fat Man.

But this task is anything but simple. We need to push Christmas back into its rightful place before it consumes everything, but as it stands right now, it is far too large for us to counteract directly. So instead, we must fight a guerrilla war against it, undermining it through the time-honored Discordian tradition of mockery and mindfucking until it is sufficiently weak enough.

Therefore, I am handing out Khaotica assignments early this year. Your mission: counteract this preemptive act of Christmas by any means necessary. This would be much easier if Thanksgiving had its own set of holiday songs (Adam Sandler's tune notwithstanding, though if you can blast that on a regular basis, you're stronger than I am) but since we are dealing with a force that threatens to devour other holidays, it's only fair and fitting that we should array any and all other holidays against it. I recommend a mix of Easter, 4th of July, and leftover Halloween decorations. Sticking a sparkler into a chocolate bunny while blasting Michael Jackson's Thriller, for example, is a good start. You'll get more than a few odd looks, but if you're a Discordian you should be used to this and immune to shame. If someone asks you to take down your display, mutter something about this is how you observe your religion and ask why you're being repressed when we are supposed to be living in a religiously tolerant society. Or perhaps you could darkly impugn their lack of proper holiday spirit. Regardless of which approach you take, I strongly recommend you brush up on Lord Omar's Primer for Erisian Evangelists. Remember that folks are touchy about religious tolerance this time of year, so be sure to use that to your advantage.

What you must keep in mind, fellow Khaoticians -- what we all must be mindful of -- is this very key, very simple truth: holidays are special because they do not last forever, and anyone who wants to keep extending them into unnatural spans is likely selling you something.

Sometimes Greyface comes to us wrapped in Christmas colors.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A cool, free thing for you

So, remember that nifty Cavalier order I wrote up last week? It's been prettied up and PDF-ified, and is now available for free at RPGNow. And the best part is that it's not just the Order of the Chimera -- you also get the Order of the Wolf, which is one of the two orders I wrote up for Undefeatable #21: Cavaliers. So now you can quite literally try before you buy -- you can read my stuff for free and decide for yourself if you think my work is good enough for you to spend $1.25 on it (it is). And hey, it's free stuff! Who doesn't like free stuff?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WNW: Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death

Yeah, some of you may have seen this before, as it's been kicking around for over 10 years now. Still, it was new to me until just recently, and since my friend Chris Bridges is both writing a time travel story for NaNoWriMo and has just finished watching the latest Doctor Who series on DVD, I figured I'd post this here for his (and your) amusement.

Also, I couldn't think of anything else to put here. So enjoy. And I apologize for the big stinky commercial right in the middle of it. :(

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Curse/Or: Chapter 5, Scene 1



Teresa had expected a cramped, dismal waiting room in some desperate no-name clinic, filled with cheap plastic seats and screaming children and reeking with the delicate bouquet of "eau de ammonia and ass." Instead, it reminded her of the first-class section in an airplane: the seats were wide and comfortable, the d├ęcor was tastefully understated, and it smelled of lightly-perfumed professionalism. Even the receptionist slightly resembled a stewardess, with her long perfect hair and brilliant blue eyes, though her figure made her look more like a high-class call girl who had been poured into an office-casual dress.

Of course, considering that they weren't at an ER at all, but a plastic surgeon's office on the outskirts of Las Vegas, the receptionist (whose name was Candi or Barbie or something else equally saccharine – Teresa hadn't bothered to pay attention) probably served double duty as a billboard for the doctor's skills with cosmetic enhancement. Given the young woman's obvious 'qualifications,' there was no doubt in Teresa's mind that the surgeon was very, very good at his trade.

"So Esther," Teresa said, tossing the corpse of another broken-and-consumed paperback onto the coffee table, "why exactly do you call her 'Mister Netty'? Seems pretty damn feminine to me, with the lipstick and painted nails and all."

Yarrow, who had been fidgeting his coins with boredom, spoke first. "Netty isn't a he or a she. The conscious mind of the Internet doesn't need gender. Any avatar it adopts is deliberately androgynous, allowing the mind of the viewer to fill in the details. You see feminine features, so to you Netty is female. Fulcrum here perceives Netty in a more masculine way, and therefore to her it is male." He smiled at this, pleased to be able to answer a question within his sphere of authority.

Teresa shot him a sidelong glare. "And I bet that whatever it looks like, you jerk off to it."

Yarrow just stared at her, open-mouthed, his expression a mixture of shame and bewilderment. Teresa could practically hear the gears turning inside his head as he desperately sought for the proper comeback. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said in a sing-song voice, "has your buddy the Internet not shown you what masturbation is?"

Esther's eyes snapped upwards with a quick hissing inhalation of breath, the needle of her stitchery poised between her fingers like a miniature poisoned dagger. "You leave him alone," she said, in that intense mom-voice which promised ultimate suffering while remaining perfectly composed. "We have done nothing but help you since we found you, Reecy: saved your life, got you fed, got you cleaned up, gave you hope, and all you've managed to do is hurt everyone you meet. God love you, girl, is there anything that don't make you angry?"

"Cigarettes," Teresa answered. "Which I ain't had any of since you and boy wonder there kidnapped me. And I saved your lives, not the other way 'round, 'cause if I hadn't smoked the Pink Peril there – and don't think you don't still owe me an explanation for what that shit was – she'd have popped you both."

"And what about you?" she continued, somewhat less quietly. "You're all God-this and God-that, got all the answers to everything and knows what's best for everybody. Well, let me tell you, concha, you ain't my mother and you ain't his, and you're letting a face on a fucking screen jerk you around and tell you what to do! Why the fuck are you even here, anyway? You're, like, a bake sale away from being a one-woman church social, why are you hanging out with a baby-killer like me and a know-it-all atheist like him?" Without waiting for an answer, Teresa stood up and stormed towards the receptionist. "The doctor had better be goddamn ready to see me now, because if I have to spend one more minute with these people there's gonna be blood across your carpet."

Candi-Bambi just nodded, her eyes wide in shock, and ushered Teresa towards the nearest examination room before buzzing for the doctor.

"Your… mother?" Yarrow ventured towards Teresa's receding form, like a child using a new vocabulary word for the very first time.

"That's right, baby," Esther said, reaching out to pat him on the knee. "You tell her."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WNW: This is what it's like in my brain. All the time.

No, seriously, my brain is really a lot like this.

This morning, as I was waking up, my unconscious mind invented a new euphemism for vomiting: "the German Yawn." It makes perfect sense, if you ask me. Sprechen sie Deuuuuuuuuutsch?

I blame the idea-pooping gnomes that live in my brain.




Link.

Monday, November 1, 2010

And now, a treat

 In order to entice you good folks to buy my latest writing creation, UndeFEATable #21: Cavalier (available for a mere dolla-twenney-five at RPGNow and DriveThru RPG), I now present to you a free Cavalier Order. I had originally intended to include this with my manuscript but due to its multi-class nature it didn't quite match the theme of the piece. Still, it is a very nice Order, and it deserves to see the light of day.

The Order of the Chimera

This order is exclusive, eclectic, and extremely odd, as it is composed solely of summoners who have chosen to adopt the trappings and mannerisms of cavaliers and ride their eidolons into battle as armored knights. It appeals mainly to halflings and gnomes, as their small size allows them to ride their eidolons at 1st level, but larger riders are not unknown. It is generally treated with disdain by cavaliers of other orders, who see the Order of the Chimera as farcical and insulting, and not a true order. Cavaliers of this order are only too happy to demonstrate their combat prowess, and more than one has left the field of honor victorious after answering a challenge made by a purist.

Prerequisites: Summoner class level 1; eidolon one size larger than the summoner with the Mount evolution

Edicts: The cavalier must always ride his eidolon into battle and fight alongside it (dismounting during battle to fight on foot is allowed, however.) He must never allow it to face danger while he remains in safety. He is not allowed to ride any mount other than his eidolon.

Challenge:Whenever an Order of the Chimera cavalier issues a challenge, his eidolon receives a +1 morale bonus on all attack rolls against the target of his challenge so long as the cavalier remains mounted upon it. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels the cavalier possesses.

Skills: An Order of the Chimera cavalier adds Acrobatics (Dex) and Spellcraft (Int) to his list of class skills. In addition, he gains the Arcane Strike feat for free.

Order Abilities: A cavalier that belongs to the Order of the Chimera gains the following abilities as he increases in level:
Right Makes Might (Ex): At 2nd level, the cavalier adds one-half his class levels (rounding down) to his summoner levels, but only to determine the base statistics of his eidolon. Spells known, spells per day, saving throw, base attack bonus, and other special abilities are unaffected.
Warrior Mage (Ex): At 8th level, the cavalier gains the Arcane Armor Training feat. If this feat is already known, then Arcane Armor Mastery is gained instead.
We Ride As One (Su): At 15th level, the cavalier gains the Life Bond summoner class feature.

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