Friday, December 31, 2010

Shooting Down 2010

When Matt "Lo Man's Land" Loman decreed yesterday on Twitter that he was going shooting today, I was excited for him. So excited, in fact, that I decided to go shooting today as well. Not only was it an opportunity to symbolically shoot the old year down, after months of forced Christmas cheer and family visits, I was ready to kill something.

Now, the last time I went shooting, I did all right but I knew I could do better. Today, I did better.

Erin has leveled up Firearms skill to Level 2.

This is me at 25 yards. Same rifle, same bullets. Much better shot grouping, yes? I'm kind of annoyed at those two errant shots in the 9 ring, but it's obvious that most of the bullets went into the bullseye.

Heartened by this success, I shifted lanes and decided to try my luck at 50 yards.

Slightly worse grouping, but most are still within the 9 ring.

Less impressive, I'll admit. The biggest problem I had was that at 50 yards, I couldn't see the bullet holes against the black background, even at max scope magnification. I actually had to aim at the white parts off to the side just so I could see where the bullets were hitting (hence the tight shot group on the middle left. Once I could see that the bullets were more or less going where I wanted them, I was able to shoot with greater confidence.

I have defeated the 25 yard range. The 50 still eludes me... for now. But I shall soon master it, with the aid of non-black targets.

So... how was YOUR day of shooting, Lomie?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fruit Oaty Girls Auction eBay Link

Due to circumstances beyond my control, the auction did not begin last night. However, it is live as of this moment.

Also due to circumstances beyond my control, the auction will end this Sunday, rather than next Wednesday. Oh well! Just make sure you aren't hung over two days in a row and everything will be shiny.

Remember, this is a once-in-a-lifetime level of rarity, so bid big and bid often!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Big Damn Auction: Fruity Oaty Girls

Now that Christmas is over and my brother & his girlfriend have gone back home, I can resume blogging. Hooray!

First off:  Big Damn Thanks are in order for the winner of the last auction, Marian Call's personalized "Bootleg" CD. The winning bid came in at five hundred and ten dollars. That is huge. That is amazing. I'd thank the winner personally but eBay keeps the auction winners anonymous and I want to respect his privacy. I don't know if the guy just wanted the CD that bad, or if he was looking for an excuse to give to charity, but either way... rock on, dude. Can I get a "Hell yeah!" ?

Now it is time for the next auction, and all of you guys who were willing to bid $100+ for the CD are going to be glad you still have your money, because this next item is very, very shiny.

The next item in our Big Damn Auction is a set of Fruit Oaty Girls bobblehead maquettes. Produced by Quantum Mechanix (visit their website for more details on this product), these maquettes are limited to 1500 numbered sets, but only THIS set has been signed by its creator Geoff Mandel -- the graphic designer behind Serenity (as well as many other movies and TV shows).

In addition, not only is the box itself signed, but the sub-boxes within it -- containing the maquettes of Jadem Cinnamon, and Sage, as well as the display stand which comes in the shape of a Fruity Oaty Bar -- are also signed. That's not one but FIVE signed pieces of merchandise!

(Note: the display stand and maquettes themselves are not signed, only their boxes. This was done to keep them in their original packaging, and therefore in mint condition.)
This is a once-in-a-lifetime level of rarity and no true Browncoat can bear to be without it.

Bidding starts tonight, 12/28, at 10 pm Eastern time, and will run for a week. The bidding will begin at $69.95 but I don't think it will stay there for long!

All the proceeds for this auction will go to help Jean Bauhaus, whose mother-in-law, Gina, died unexpectedly earlier this month without a will or insurance to cover the burial, and whose father-in law needs long-term medical care (diabetes, emphysema, schizophrenia). In addition to the funeral and medical bills, Jean and her husband Matt also have to clean up Gina & Rob's old apartment, moving furniture and making it ready for new tenants. There are also legal matters to attend to and creditors to satisfy.

We all know how hard it is to lose a loved one, and we all know how tough it is financially in this recession. Can you imagine what it must be like to be struggling to get along, only to have to bury your mother and find a nursing home for your father at your own expense? Now add to that the awful timing of this tragedy happening near Christmastime, and you know what Jean and Matt are going through. Fortunately, they are both Browncoats, and we take care of our own.

Product Details
(from the Quantum Mechanix website)
Created by Serenity Designer Geoffrey Mandel, the Fruity Oaty Girls Bobblehead Maquette Set includes the cheery trio of Fruity Oaty girls, display base and special Verse packaging. These hefty bobbleheads are cast in solid polystone resin and hand painted, with neck joints mounted on springs so they can move to the beat. Even the base – shaped and labeled just like a real Fruity Oaty Bar – is solid resin and color keyed, so girls can easily find their designated slots.

Sage, Cinnamon and Lavender will bring the shiny to anyone's day. Each girl stands 4.5 inches tall, not including the base, and comes in her own individually branded full-color box. The Fruity Oaty Bar base has its own unique box. All four boxes are nestled in a full-color master carton that's been designed to look like a standard shipping crate from The Verse.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bootleg Auction eBay Link

Just to be doubly sure, here is the link to the eBay auction.

Bidding is now open and will continue until 10pm Eastern time on Saturday, 25 December.

Oh yeah, just to be clear: the person actually eBaying it, wyrrd, isn't me. It's C.A. Bridges, fellow Daytonian and friend of mine.

Big Damn Auction: Bootleg

It feels like it's taken forever for me to get this thing in motion, but it can't be helped. This is the holiday season, after all, and most folks are either on their way to visit family, friends and loved ones, or have already arrived and are away from/too busy to check their email.

So what I've decided to do is stagger the auction in chunks as pieces become available I already have 3 pieces lined up, with the possibility of more to follow. That way, instead of there being a whole bunch of neat stuff that people want but can only bid on one, it's arranged so that if you don't get what you want there's the possibility that you can get the next nifty thing on down the line. 

The first item up for our Big Damn Auction is the rare and out of print Bootleg CD by none other than Marian Call, the Geek Goddess of Song and sultry chanteuse of fandom. This is her own archival copy, donated in the spirit of Christmas charity and generosity.

To make this CD even more valuable and desirable, Marian will:
  • Dedicate the CD to the winner
  • Autograph the cover
  • Smooch it with lipstick

So not only is this CD rare, it will be personalized and, if you're into biological sciences, you might be able to clone your own Marian Call from the DNA left behind by her lip-print.

This is the link to eBay auction.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime level of rarity and no true fan can bear to be without one. Bidding will start at $12.99 US (its original price). The auction begins tonight at 10 pm Eastern time, and will run until 10 pm Saturday, December 25. Can you think of a better Christmas present for a hard-core fan?

All the proceeds for this auction will go to help my friend (and fellow Browncoat) Jean Bauhaus, whose mother-in-law, Gina, died unexpectedly last week without a will or insurance to cover the burial, and whose father-in law needs long-term medical care (diabetes, emphysema, schizophrenia) but whose applications to nursing homes have been rejected due to lack of money or his age (he's 57). In addition to the funeral and medical bills, Jean and her husband Matt also have to clean up Gina & Rob's old apartment, moving furniture and making it ready for new tenants.

We all know how hard it is to lose a loved one, and we all know how tough it is financially in this recession. Can you imagine what it must be like to be struggling to get along, only to have to bury your mother and find a nursing home for your father at your own expense? Now add to that the awful timing of this tragedy happening near Christmastime, and you know what Jean and Matt are going through.

CD Details 
(information taken from Marian's blog with permission)

This CD includes live cuts that have had a limited or private release, live cuts never before released, and a couple of preview tracks from the upcoming album (live cuts, not studio recordings, which will probably not be released in the future). The audio is not perfectly mixed and mastered; the songs are mostly live bootlegs.  This is homebaked music — as in, burned on my laptop.  This is INDIE MUSIC IN ACTION.  The CD’s come with Marian’s homeburn guarantee — if the disc doesn’t work, I’ll make and ship you a new one from home, cuz I actually care about you since you’re ordering something weird like this.

Track List:
  1. Got to Fly (live at the Snow Goose) — the world premiere; first time ever in public
  2. Sugar Sugar Sugar (the gift shop of Wild Horse Rescue Ranch in Arizona) — preview from Something Fierce
  3. Vera Flew the Coop (Live at Whole Wheat Radio)
  4. I Wish I Were a Real Alaskan Girl (Snow Goose)
  5. Flying Feels Like (Lestat’s)
  6. Whistle While You Wait (Snow Goose)
  7. Good Old Girl (Live at Whole Wheat Radio)
  8. Dark Dark Eyes (live at Lestat’s)
  9. I’ll Still Be a Geek After Nobody Thinks It’s Chic (The Nerd Anthem) (Snow Goose)
  10. Fall Love (Whole Wheat Radio) — about bats. Bats aren’t bugs. Not scheduled for studio release, though I like it
  11. Highway Five (My Dad’s Living Room) — preview from Something Fierce, my next album
  12. Vanilla (with Commentary by Marian Call) — since I know you were wondering why I’m not sexy
  13. The Volvo Song (Lestat’s) — in which I forget the words; one of two times in over 300 performances
  14. I Think We’re Good (My Dad’s Living Room) — about springtime in Alaska. Not scheduled for studio release
  15. Never Did Catch Her Name (But She’s My Wife) (Basement Recording) — about Yo-Saff-Bridge of Firefly. Not scheduled for release.

For folks interested in hearing a sample of her music, I suggest this YouTube playlist.

WNW: Creative Profanity

I have to admit, I learned some new combinations watching this video. It's nearly a year old, but it's the first time I've seen it, so perhaps some of you haven't seen it as well.

Enjoy, you candy-cane dildoing Santa sodomizers.(NSFW)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

When you can't run, you crawl. And when you can't crawl, when you can't do that... find someone to carry you.

This is an update on my friend Jean, whom I blogged about yesterday.  She's posted a follow-up on her blog, but in case you aren't the link-following sort I'll reprint it here.


That's the word that describes how I felt when I saw Erin Palette's blog post, and I felt it even more when I saw the e-mails from Paypal telling me that people actually gave. You guys... you guys made me cry, all of you. And in the good way, which is a nice change from the other kind of crying I've been doing a lot of lately.

I have to tell you that just last night, I was telling Matt how, when my dad died, and even further back when each of my grandparents passed, how my family was overwhelmed with people showing up and knocking on our door to bring food and love and sympathy and company, to make sure we were taken care of and that we knew we weren't alone. That hasn't happened with his mom's passing. His mom and step-dad valued their privacy and didn't have a ton of friends and neighbors and church family and what have you. My family is close by and they've given emotional support and let us know that they're available if we need anything, but otherwise most of our friends are long distance. So last night we were really feeling isolated and alone.

But you guys have given us the Internet equivalent of friends and neighbors knocking on our door bearing casserole dishes and comfort. And today we also received an outpouring of love and support from some of those long-distance friends. So now we're assured that we're not alone, and that means so, SO much to us both.

Thank you. Erin's right--I don't like to ask for help, especially this time of year when it seems like everybody's struggling to afford their holiday obligations. But I can't deny that we need it. The cremation wheels are already set in motion, and we can't undo that, but we've made our peace with it, so it's okay. But we have other needs, focused primarily on taking care of the living. I don't know whether we'll incur legal fees in getting power of attorney over Matt's step-dad's finances. There will be the cost of getting his things moved to the nursing home, and getting the rest of the apartment cleared out. And we still have to plan some kind of memorial service for Mom. I told Rob that we'd try to get a nice urn for him to keep her ashes in--I have no idea how much those cost. So the expenses are piling up, but you guys have helped to offset them, and Matt and I are going to sleep a little better tonight because of that.

Thank you, again, from the bottom of our hearts.
The TL;DR version is "Thank you so much for your donations, they mean the world to me." And I want to thank you as well, because Jean is a dear friend and this is the first time I've ever been able to do anything to help her through her troubles (2010 has been a very rough year for her.) Thank you for helping my friend, thank you for caring, thank you for renewing my dwindling faith in human goodness and charity. It isn't important how much you gave; all that's important is that you gave.

But... all of this was merely Phase 1 of what I am calling "Operation: You WILL have a Merry Christmas if it's the last thing I do!" or OYWHAMCIITLTID, or OY WHAM for short. Phase 2 of OY WHAM is a charity auction of high-value geek stuff, most of it Firefly-related (Jean is a Browncoat, y'all) but with some comic book and other stuff thrown in for flavor.

I'm still working out the logistics and nagging people to donate, but this is what we have so far:
  • An autographed and smooched copy of Bootleg, a CD by artist Marian Call which is out of print and otherwise unavailable.
  • A complete set of Fruity Oaty Girls maquettes, signed not once but FIVE TIMES by Geoff Mandel, the graphic designer for the movie Serenity in which they appeared: once on each girl, on the candy bar stand, and on the box which holds the entire shebang together. It hasn't yet been determined if this will be sold as a lot or broken up into separate auctions; we'll do whatever we think will bring in the most money. 
  • Some kind of autographed comic book (either a Common Grounds graphic novel, or the Twilight Guardian "pilot season" comic, or maybe even both) by Eisner nominee and friend of this blog, Troy Hickman.
  • and hopefully some other stuff by people from whom I've shamelessly asked to donate. 
I don't have a definite time for when the auction will start; I'm still working out logistics from donors and the person who has offered to use his eBay account. I'm thinking it will take at least the weekend to get things ironed out, but the very moment things are finalized and up for bid I post the news here, on Facebook, Twitter, and pretty much anywhere else I can yell and be noticed.

In the rare even that someone reading this wishes to donate to the charity auction, please contact me immediately at

Thank you for your support of my friend Jean in this trying time. Let's carry her for as long as we can.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Please help my friend

I hate having to say this, but since I have a bit of a reputation as a kidder and a tease and a storyteller, I want to say right upfront that this is NOT a joke, guys. I swear on everything I hold holy that I am being 100% serious here.

I have a friend named Jean Bauhaus and her family has suffered some devastating losses recently. Not only is her father-in-law in the hospital, but her mother-in-law (his wife) died suddenly and unexpectedly a few days ago. The really shitty thing about all this is that not only do they not have the funds to bury her (like she wanted), they don't even have the funds to cremate her and now Jean has had to go to the social services office and apply for a county-funded cremation. 

Jean will probably be pissed I'm telling you all this, but she posted it on her blog and Facebook page, so I'm not breaking any vow of secrecy here.

Now my friend is way too proud to ask for help, so I'm going to do it for her. I am asking you -- I am begging you -- I am pleading with you to please donate some money to her family so that they can bury her mother-in-law the way they want.

I know some of you might say "Well it's her own fault for not having a life insurance policy," but be that as it may, funerals are for the living, not the dead. Jean and her husband, Matt -- who I would like to stress lost his mother right before Christmas -- now can't afford to bury her, and once she's cremated they can't very well un-cremate her at a later date when they have more money.

So please. This is me, on my knees, asking everyone who can hear my voice to please donate even a little bit of money to my friend. This is Christmas, the season of miracles of charity and giving. Even if you only donate a dollar, that's one dollar less they have to scrape together.

She is a good person. Helping her is a good thing. Even the smallest act of kindness will be rewarded. 

I can't figure out how to make a permanent link to her PayPal account, but there is a donation button on her website, about halfway down on the right-hand side. If you follow the link it will say "JM Bauhaus Enterprises" because she is a writer like me. She isn't expecting people to donate, and she certainly didn't expect me to write this post. But I ask you, please do this one decent thing to help a family I know and care about, and help her husband bury his mother the way she deserves.

Please do this for my friend this Christmas. Thank you, and bless you for helping.

Curse/Or: Chapter 5, Scene 3 (first part)

It was another thirty minutes before Teresa was finally seen by the doctor, due to the confusion engendered by a screeching fire alarm and the subsequent efforts to shut it off before the fire department kicked the doors down. Dr. Rauche was a small, troll-like man, with thinning gray hair that was migrating down from his head and into his ears and nose. There was appreciable irony in the concept of an ugly man who nonetheless made people beautiful. She wasn't sure if he simply did not give a shit how he looked, in which case she admired his self-confidence, or if he compensated by working in a field where women begged him to put his hands on their bodies to improve them, in which case she admired his honesty of purpose. Either way, she found his physical ugliness refreshing, and the way his eyes were almost popping out of his head as he took her blood pressure nearly made her laugh. "Something wrong, doc?"

He blinked owlishly before removing the stethoscope from his ears. "Ms. Reyes, I have honestly no idea how it is you're still alive."

Now it was her turn to look perplexed. "What, the gunshot? I thought you were one of Netty's people, you were used to all this mystic hoodoo shit."

He shook his head. "No, not the gunshot. Even if we ignore the manner in which you were healed, people have survived far worse injuries with the appropriate medical care. What I am talking about is this," and he indicated the gauge on the pressure cuff. "Your B.P. suggests you're moments away from a stroke. Your lung function is terrible, and your breathing sounds like bits of gravel in a blender. When I get back the results of your bloodwork I fully expect to see a toxic level of nicotine and other carcinogenic substances."

He absentmindedly chewed the end of his pen as he consulted her chart. "According to your history here, your diet is horrible, you haven't engaged in any form of meaningful exercise in recent memory, and for the past twenty years all you've done is lie in bed and smoke." He looked up at her from his little rolling stool. "According to all of this data, just the effort of standing up should kill you. I've no idea why you aren't dead yet."

She briefly considered telling him about Tommy, just to see how he would react to the concept of a magical cancer-spreading tumor. "Clean living, I guess?"

He scoffed, repositioning the pen deeper into his mouth. "Please. There's nothing at all clean about how you live. I could probably pave my driveway with the tar in your lungs. This goes beyond any sort of healing, magical or otherwise. According to this data, not only shouldn't you be alive, but you can't be alive. No human being can operate under this level of hypertension and emphysema and still move, let alone survive a gunshot." His back teeth had gotten hold of the pen and were going at it vigorously.

Teresa snapped the fingers of her good hand to get his attention. "Yeah, I'm a miracle of medicine. Are you gonna do something about my hand or not?" she asked archly, shoving the wounded appendage under his nose as the doctor, lost in his thoughts, leaned forward out of unconscious habit. The tip of the pen in his mouth hovered above her hand, still fused and bandaged to her lighter. It pulsed warmly with magical power, and suddenly the end of the cheap plastic pen was aflame.

Monday, December 13, 2010

This is just cool

I think maybe I have this seasonal depression thing under control.


Still, I'm having a hard time getting motivated today, so I figured I'd share with you this video I just discovered. If you're a fan of the Battlestar Galactica reboot, you will greatly enjoy this; if you're not a fan, I hope you like the music anyway.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

OK, I take that back, THIS amuses me today

Because right now the thought of blowing shit up is appealingly cathartic.

Seasonal Depression

Gah. I must be suffering from seasonal depression, even though I don't exactly feel depressed. I'm just exhausted all the time, for no real reason. I have zero energy and no desire to do anything except  sit in front of the TV and vegetate.

Wait, that's not entirely true. I have the desire to write, except I don't have the energy or imagination to write anything other than this half-assed entry. There's something I wanted to do for Pear Harbor Day, which was yesterday, and by the time I get around to it I fear it will be too late for the entry to have any meaning whatsoever (although honestly it wasn't going to have much meaning anyway).

I am so fucking tired of this holiday season and it's only going to get more "in my face" festive in the coming weeks. Please, someone kill me now. Or at least supply me with enough booze that I pass out until after Christmas. A coma sounds delightfully restful.

I know it's Wednesday and I'm supposed to post something wacky, but nothing seems funny to me right now. It's all fake. Everything about this time of year is fake, including the forced sentiment we have to endure in order to avoid being called grinches.

I'm not a grinch, or at least I don't think I am. I don't want to take anyone's Christmas away. I just wish there was some way for you to have yours without foisting rampant commercialism and false cheer on mine. You know that hush you get in a church when the lights go down, right before the candles start lighting up and the congregation sings "Silent Night"? That moment, that pregnant pause, is my ideal Christmas moment, and all I want is to celebrate it.

Unfortunately it's being drowned out by the glitz and schmaltz and lights and carols.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Odd but amusing

I frequently investigate the URLs which refer to my site, and sometimes I find the oddest things. Today, that odd thing is this link, which has referred someone to my site at least twice now.

I am particularly fond of this picture on that site as well:

I'm not sure why, but there's something slightly sinister about that tree. I think I will have to do something creative with that picture.

Saturday Shooting

Today I did something remarkable: I actually managed to put on pants, leave my house, and get on down to the firing range like I've wanted to do since summer.

 I took my .22 bolt-action Savage 46, aka "The Rev", with me and put about a hundred rounds through him. (Yes, him. Guns are boys. Obviously .) This was the first time in over 15 years that I'd been shooting, and I wanted to get a feel for the rifle and also sight in my scope (BSA Sweet .22).

Several hours and a hundred or so rounds later, I had this. Not bad for the first time in 15 years, eh?
 For those of you who are curious:
  • 40 grain, .22 Long Rifle ammunition
  • 25 yards to target
  • Shots were either unsupported or had an elbow on the firing table. No bipods, blocks, or other cheats.
Despite the fact that my shot group was consistently low (which annoys me greatly), I think this is a credible showing given how long it's been since I last shot. But there's room for improvement and I know I can do better.

I came home feeling like I'd just leveled up. What a great day!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

An Open Letter to Trollsmyth

Posted here because my reply to his post was too long for his comments section.

Yours is a position I have heard several times before, and each time it leaves me shaking my head. In this reply I am going to detail exactly what is wrong with this system, and why it is good to have to at least SOME rules about social interaction.

First I shall establish a few facts for those who are reading. Prior to writing this, I talked to Trollsmyth over IM and asked him the following questions:
Erin: I believe your thesis to be "We do not need rules for social interaction because that is what talking in character, i.e. role-playing, is for."

Trollsmyth: Yep. For certain values of "we."

Erin: How would you define "we", then?

Trollsmyth: People who want a game about social interaction.

Sir, your thesis is flawed. Allow me to point out these flaws to you. 

Your System is Open to Abuse
Let us say that I am an unethical type of gamer – perhaps not a cheater as such, but one who is willing to exploit gray areas in order to have a more powerful character – and I am playing in a game such as this. My immediate thought will be "Since social actions will be carried out through role-play alone, and without consultation of stats or rules, Charisma will become my dump stat because I won't need to roll it ever and I can count on my natural quick wits and ability to improvise to keep me afloat. Meanwhile, all the points which would have gone into social skills can now go straight into combat abilities, which I will be rolling quite frequently."

Congratulations, you (the DM) have just made your problem worse. Would you care to do the same for mental skills and have puzzles etc. be handled with player brains instead of character abilities? Wonderful! Now I can dump all that as well and become even more of an unbalanced twink. And when you call me on it, I will argue with you that I am just playing the game the way you laid it out, where (obviously) the only mechanics which matter are those for combat, and everything else is player ability.

Good luck getting the genie back into that particular bottle. Even if you win that argument, it's a fair bet that the rest of that game session is a total loss. 

Your System is Not Fair to the Players
Conversely, sometimes I want to play someone who is far more skilled than I am. What if I, the player, have no social skills whatsoever, but I still want to play a smooth-talking seducer or a quick-witted scoundrel? Well then I am screwed, because it doesn't matter what my Charisma score is, because you won't let me roll it (no rules for interaction, remember?) and I am forced to embarrass myself in front of friends as I fumble an attempt to be suave.

The same holds true for mental abilities. Too bad for the player who wants to play a genius if he's not one himself. Again, he is unfairly penalized for wanting a character who is greater than himself, and once again the attitude that "Only combat stats are important because they are the only ones which have rules attached to them" reigns. If I were this player, having made a social or brainy character only to be effectively told that it didn't matter what my PC's Intelligence or Charisma was, I would loudly complain that I had been screwed and I would quit your game immediately.

Your System is Prejudiced
Do you require your players to actually swing swords to determine if their characters hit in combat? Do you require them to perform acts of dexterity to adjudicate success with lock-picking? No? Then why do you require actual performance of actual social abilities? Especially since, as I have mentioned earlier, not everyone is comfortable talking in character? Are they somehow less deserving of a game they can enjoy? Are they simply not welcome at your table? Or are they forever doomed to be the big stupid beatsticks and meatshields of the party?

In Conclusion
Unless you are gaming with a group of theater majors or other actors, odds are excellent you will have at least one player with sub-optimal social and communication skills. You state that "Festooning [social interaction] with mechanics undercuts [the game]. The players never really care about the in-game reality, because they're too busy dealing with mechanical bits that have been bolted on top of them," but in my experience, mechanics are sometimes the only way to make sure that some players are given a fair chance to shine. The shy girl who wants to play a social butterfly and be popular for a few hours; the slow-thinking guy who wants to pretend that he is brilliant and on top of every thing; these people are disenfranchised with your system, and worse, those players who are smart and quick-witted and smooth-tongued are probably going to run roughshod all over them.

I am not advocating a bloated rules system to be tacked onto social interaction. But I very, VERY strongly feel there should be at least some rules, because your system as stated is not fun for a significant chunk of the gaming population. Role-playing is supposed to be inclusive, and your approach is exclusionary.

Your post is titled "Support, not Replacing." In that vein I urge you thusly: support your players, or you will certainly be replacing them.

Erin Palette

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

WNW: Ugly Furniture

This video sounds like a Patton Oswalt routine. That's a compliment, by the way.

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 décor 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.


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.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Halloween Trick


Unidentified Male #1: Hello?

Unidentified Male #2: Fuck you, Nick! Fuck you!

Nick: What? What'd I do? Who is this?

Unidentified Male #2: You know what you did, you sick fuck! God, I hate you so much right now!

Nick: Matt? Is that you?

Unidentified Male #2: Who else would it be?

Nick: Um, honestly, I didn't expect anyone to be calling me after midnight, so when my cell rang I thought it was my family calling with some bad news. So why're you freaking out, dude?

Matt: Don't pretend you don't know.

Nick: Humor me for a moment.

Matt: [subject audibly sighs] Fine. You emailed me a link to that fucking Maze Game, and at the end of the third level that Exorcist chick popped up and screamed at me. You know I scare easily, Nick! That is so not cool! I thought we were better friends than this! I deserve better!

[pause of several seconds]

Nick: Matt... I didn't send you a link.

Matt: Bullshit!

Nick: Hand to God, dude. Listen to my voice. Am I laughing? No. Would I be laughing if I sent a "scare the shit outta Matt" link and you called me all freaking out? Yes.

Matt: Uh...

Nick: Yup.

Matt: But why did it have your email address? Did you get a virus? Might be time to run a malware scan.

Nick: Hey Matt?

Matt: Yeah?

Nick: I wanna ask you a really strange question.

Matt: Um, okay...

Nick: Is there a part of your body that feels cold right now? Or are you just like hot with adrenaline?

Matt: Oh, um, I'm still shaking from the scare. And I'm covered in cold sweat.

Nick: That's all?

Matt: Well, the back of my neck is really cold and the hair is tingling...

Nick: [voice is firm, almost to the point of shouting] MATT.

Matt: What?

Nick: Okay, I need you to listen to me right now and most importantly, do not freak out on me.

Matt: Um, yeah, saying things like that really doesn't make me any calmer...

Nick: I need you to promise me that whatever happens, you will not turn around.

Matt: What?

Nick: Don't turn around. Just don't. Don't move your head. Keep facing forwards.

Matt: [in a weak voice] Why?

Nick: Do you have that really weird feeling that someone is standing behind you, looking at your neck?

Matt: If I didn't before, I sure as hell do now...


Matt: Okay, okay. What's going on, Nick?

Nick: What you sense behind you is what sent you that email.

Matt: [unintelligible whimpering]

Nick: Urban legend says that there are fear demons out there who send you links to games or YouTube videos that scare you. They feed off of that fear. And the more scared you get, the more powerful they become.

Matt: [unintelligible whimpering]

Nick: If you hadn't been such a wuss, all that would have happened was that you'd jump a bit, the fear demon would get a bite, and move on. But you freaked out so much it's like Thanksgiving over there.

Matt: [unintelligible whimpering]

Nick: If you turned around now and saw it, you'd probably have a heart attack from sheer terror. So don't turn around.

Matt: [weakly] What do I do?

Nick: It's easy. Are you in your bedroom?

Matt: Yes.

Nick: Okay. Remember when you were little and scared of monsters, you'd hide under the covers and feel safer?

Matt: Yeah.

Nick: That's what I want you to do now. Slowly, without turning your head, get up and walk over to your bed. Take off your shoes and cover yourself with your blanket.

Matt: What about brushing my teeth?

Nick: Dude, do you really want to look in the mirror right now?

Matt: Point. Um, should I take my clothes off?

Nick: Dealer's choice. If you do, though, do it quickly. Being naked around this thing will only make you more scared and it stronger.

Matt: [rustling sounds] I'm getting in the bed now. Gonna take my clothes off under the covers.

Nick: Good idea. Now for the tough part: turn off the light.

Matt: Oh god.

Nick: Matt, you have to turn the light off, otherwise you'll never get any sleep and it'll feed off of you all night.

Matt: But... I'm so scared...

Nick: You can do it. Just stick your hand out and turn off the lamp. It'll be okay.

Matt: [more whimpering, then a sigh of relief] Okay.

Nick: It didn't grab your hand, did it?


Nick: Hahahah. Sorry. So, you all snuggy-tight in your blankets?

Matt: Yeah. Now what?

Nick: Now you hang up and try to get some sleep.

Matt: How?

Nick: Beats me. But that's the only way to win.

Matt: Okay. Thanks, Nick. Appreciate it.

Nick: Hey Matt, before you go to sleep...

Matt: Yeah?

Nick: Do me a favor and look at your phone.

Matt: [shuffling noises suggest phone is pulled away from face. Screams follow] OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD IT DIDN'T DIAL OH GOD OH GOD

Nick: I'm your Fear of the Dark, Matt. Thank you for turning off the lights and covering your head. I'm in here with you, now. Sweet dreams....

[phone disconnects]


(This story is dedicated to a certain someone on the west coast. You know who you are.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Please buy my stuff

 LPJ Design's UndeFEATable #21: the Cavalier has officially gone on sale at For the low, low price of $1.25 -- what you'd spend on a soda & a candy bar -- you get 15 feats and 2 Cavalier orders, all painstakingly hand-crafted with care and precision by your local lurking goth gamer girl. These feats will last you much longer than a snack ever will, and are undoubtedly healthier. In addition, each time you purchase, I get some money and am one step closer to becoming a successful writer.

Thank you!   :D

WNW: that giant f'ing Q

I have been sick since Tuesday night. As such, I have a hot date tonight with a bottle of NyQuil.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh, for a muse of fire...

Tonight, for all intents and purposes, my project (which I teasingly hinted at on the 12th) is finished. I've seen the proofs, made some final corrections, and now it's just a matter of waiting until the weekend for it to be officially released.

But today is Saint Crispin's Day (and oh, how I wish I had saved last Monday's video for today), and I really do feel like I have achieved a rather monumental victory here, because while this isn't my first professional writing credit, it is the first to actually (and proudly!) bear my name. It was also very difficult to write, because it was mostly crunchy rules stuff and I freely admit I'm more of an idea person than a rules lawyer.

Still, I have to say this project turned out pretty damn nifty, if I do say so myself, and I have to give a large portion of credit to my friends who listened to me whine, let me bounce ideas off of them, and in more than one occasion came up with a brilliant solution which I shamelessly stole before brazenly passing it off as my own idea.

So I would like officially thank, with great proclamation and splendour, those allies who helped me in my hour of need:  Patrick W., Mxyzplk, Shawn Sage, and -=horsefly=-. Huzzah to you, good sirs! Huzzah! HUZZAH!

That's all very well and good, Erin, but when are you going to tell us what this product is, precisely?

Ah, yes. Sorry about that. My project, as many of you correctly deduced, was a collection of Cavalier feats for Louis Porter Jr. Design's UndeFEATable line. This was harder than it sounds, because not only do I feel I am weak in the mechanics department, but also because the first time I read the cavalier class I was underwhelmed. "Big whoop," I thought to myself, "it's basically another beatstick with a taunt ability and some mild group buffs." This is not the kind of attitude one wants to have when one is writing specifically FOR the cavalier.

So as I saw it, my first job was to make the cavvy awesome and interesting, and the mechanics would naturally flow form there. I was fortunate in that history and literature and folklore are chock-full of examples of knights, and I gleefully mined them for inspiration. This gave rise to the Knightly Feats, which allow you to emulate various types of knights (some from literature, some from the tarot) by expending uses of your Challenge ability to fuel other powers. Want to be a treacherous, bullying black knight? Take Knight of Swords. If instead you'd rather be more dashing and flamboyant in the tradition of Dumas, Knight of Wands is probably more your speed. And if you really want to imitate the Green Knight of Arthurian legend, well, we can accommodate you there as well.

Then there are the fun concept ideas, like Sheriff or Quixotic. (Consult your GM before taking these.) There are the obligatory "engage ass-kicking mode" feats like Vendetta and Crusade. And of course there are the utility powers that nearly everyone wanted during the playtest, like Extra Challenge and Improved Mount.

But the best part for me was writing the two new Orders. After I re-read the cavalier entry in the Advanced Player's Guide, I realized that it was missing a critical concept: that of the knight-errant. I split this concept into two distinct groups: those who quested after something (like the Grail knight), and those who swore to defend a specific thing (like the Hospitallers, or the archetypal Knight Who Bars the Way.) These became the Order of the Wolf and the Order of the Citadel, respectively.

I am very, very proud of this achievement, and here upon Saint Crispin's Day, I ask you to join me in my victory.

(And buy the PDF when it comes out. It'll be cheap and I get a chunk of the proceeds!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Some inspiration

Another hint on what I'm working on... I'm watching this video quite a bit for inspiration.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday Night Monster

This is making the rounds on teh intarwebz, but in case you haven't seen it, this is the last word in Old Spice parodies:


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Hard Day's Knight

I don't wish to Cavalierly toy with your feelings, so I thought I would tell you that posts may be a little late (or non-existent) because I am currently writing 2.5k words for a game designer as a kind of audition for freelance employment. It may take me all week, but when I am finished Porting to Louisville, it shall be a Feat most remarkable.

I cannot say more at this time, but if you look for clues, I am certain you shall Find your Path.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

A brief meditation on fantasy economics

Note: I am SO not an economist. I don't even claim to be good at math. Therefore, this is not a serious discussion of fantasy economic viability vis-à-vis reality.

If you've played fantasy RPGs for any length of time, you have certainly collected a fair amount of gold coins. Gold is the coin of the adventurer's realm, as it were, with silver relegated to being pocket change and copper worthy only of a sniff of condescension. I want to a little bit of mental re-alignment here to show how skewed that mindset it.

Peruse the equipment lists of your preferred fantasy RPG. Ignoring specific numbers and certain oddball outliers (flint & steel, I'm looking at you), we begin to notice certain trends:
  • Subsistence-level items, like a loaf of bread or a mug of ale, cost copper pieces. 
  • Sustainment-level items, like tools, basic clothing, and nightly shelter cost silver pieces. 
  • Things which cost gold pieces are either truly expensive tools or luxury items (and if you're a peasant, a sword or a suit of armor is a luxury)
So let's do a bit of role-playing and put ourselves into a magical medieval society.  Since we are all reading this essay on a computer, it's reasonable to assume you have a regular supply of food, shelter, education, and entertainment. That immediately puts you well ahead of 90% of the fantasy populace, who eke out a living in what we would consider to be third-world conditions. They aren't illiterate because they're stupid; they're illiterate because they are too busy herding or farming or otherwise keeping their family fed to have time to study books, and when they get home in the evening they are too exhausted to do much of anything except eat their dinner and go to bed. They aren't dirty because they're slobs, they're dirty because they toil at jobs which make them filthy on a regular basis, and water is too precious to be wasted on daily bathing when they're just going to get dirty tomorrow.

For these people, copper is the only kind of money they use on a daily basis. They may occasionally see a silver if they have a particularly lucrative business (like a smithy) or if they sell livestock. They have never even seen a gold piece, much less touched one, and if you gave them one it would likely be more money than their family has ever had before. You, however, would be closer to a well-off merchant: you see silver all the time, occasionally some gold, and maybe once in your life you've seen a platinum piece.

Now let's apply this to the real world. A copper piece is worth roughly a dollar. We buy (cheap) meals for $5 - $10 all the time, and think nothing of it. It's disposable money to us, but to the lower classes -- those below the poverty line, on welfare and food stamps -- a dollar can make the difference between eating and going hungry.

Silver pieces aren't quite worth twenty dollars, but the $20 is so ubiquitous (as a result of ATMs) that it suits our purposes. This is where we, the middle class, spend most of our wealth: clothes, entertainment, quality food, entertainment, and either fuel for our cars or bus/train/cab fare. These things cost tens, but not hundreds, and while we may buy a lot of them we typically don't spend this money frivolously. A twenty, to us, is like a one or a five to a panhandler -- a basic unit of currency worth getting out of bed for.

Gold is for things which cost hundreds. Now it's important to note that in fantasy games, society does not yet have advanced metallurgical techniques and super-efficient assembly lines, so prices are often what we could consider exorbitant for consumer goods because of the cost of the raw materials and the time spent crafting them. But skip the Goods & Services table and look at the prices for armor and weapons. My father bought a handgun last week, and I came along because I think guns are neat. I did a lot of looking and window shopping while he picked out his gun, and I came to this conclusion:

Expect to pay $300 - $500, baseline, for a gun. It doesn't matter if it's a rifle, a shotgun, or a pistol, they simply don't go lower than $300 unless you buy used -- at which point you have to wonder if you're getting a discount because of a downward quality adjustment. The really, really good items, like a Desert Eagle .50 or a tricked-out AR-15 with a scope and a laser and a forward grip and all the other bells & whistles, can run over $1000. These would be roughly equivalent to a masterwork weapon.

And then there's this beast, which might be considered a +1 BFG of Ass-Whupping. Puts the price of a magic sword into perspective, doesn't it?

So in conclusion: fantasy games should run on the silver standard, not gold. The fact that adventures don't get out of bed for anything less than gold should serve as yet another indication that they are not, in fact, normal people, and their attitudes and goals are extraordinary rather than baseline. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pellatarrum: Energy Channeling

I had originally intended to include this with yesterday's posts about priests but I was a goof and forgot. Once again. here be crunchy mechanics. I apologize if this is a bit brusque, but I have been struggling with this all day and have decided I was over-explaining things. So I'm going to jump right in and see if folks pick up on it immediately, and attempt an explanation if they don't.

Energy Channeling vs. Elemental Disorders

Individuals suffering from Despondence are vulnerable to Turning and Commanding by clerics with the Turn Undead and Command Undead feats, respectively. Suffering from Despondence does not automatically make the sufferer undead, however, and does not make them vulnerable to any other effects which specifically target undead, unless they already possessed the subtype.

Similarly, those suffering from Mania are vulnerable to Turning by those with Command Undead, and Command by those with Turn Undead.

Priests with the Elemental Channel feat and either Turn Undead or Command Undead may also effect those people whose elemental disorder matches the subtype (air, earth, fire, water) named when the feat was chosen.

Hopefully this is clear. I hate trying to express a concept in exacting rules-legalese.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pellatarrum: Priests

While I have tried to avoid crunchy mechanics as much as possible so as to make this setting accessible to the widest number of players, the fact remains that I am a player of Pathfinder/D&D 3.5 and sometimes talking about mechanics is unavoidable. I am confident that those of you who do not use these systems will be able to make all the necessary conversions (or ignore the whole thing as appropriate).

At character creation, Cleric PCs must choose a priesthood to join: the Church of the Light or the Cult of the Dark. This choice affects their starting alignments and domains.

Church of the Light clerics:
  • must be within 1 step of Neutral Good; however, Lawful Neutral is also permissible.
  • always channel positive energy.
  • receive their spells at dawn.
  • have access to the following domains: Air, Animal, Community, Earth, Fire, Glory, Good, Healing, Plant, Protection, Repose, Sun, Water, and Weather. Paladins who have cleric levels also have access to the Law domain. Specific races have access to other domains (detailed later).
  • have access to the following subdomains from the Advanced Player's Guide: Cloud, Day, Defense, Family, Feather, Fur, Growth, Heroism, Home, Honor, Ice, Inevitable, Light, Metal, Oceans, Purity, Restoration, Resurrection, Seasons, Souls, Storms, Wind.

Cult of the Dark clerics:
  • must be within 1 step of Neutral Evil; however, Chaotic Neutral is also permissible.
  • always channel negative energy.
  • receive their spells at dusk.
  • have access to the following domains: Air, Charm, Darkness, Death, Destruction, Earth, Evil, Fire, Luck, Madness, Trickery, War, Water, and Weather. Anti-paladins who have cleric levels also have access to the Chaos domain. Specific races have access to other domains (detailed later).
  • have access to the following subdomains from the Advanced Player's Guide: Ash, Blood, Catastrophe, Cloud, Curse, Deception, Fate, Ferocity, Ice, Insanity, Loss, Lust, Metal, Murder, Night, Nightmare, Rage, Smoke, Storms, Thievery, Undead, Wind.

Racial Domains:
  • Dragons gain access to the Knowledge domain and the subdomains of Memory and Thought.
  • Dwarves gain access to the Artifice domain and the subdomains of Construct and Toil.
  • Elves gain access to the Liberation domain and the subdomains of Freedom and Revolution.
  • Gnomes gain access to the Magic domain and the subdomains of Arcane and Divine.
  • Halflings gain access to the Travel domain and the subdomains of Exploration and Trade.
  • Humans gain access to the Nobility domain and the subdomains of Leadership and Martyr.
  • Kobolds gain access to the Rune domain and the subdomains of Language and Wards.
  • Orcs gain access to the Strength domain and the subdomains of Ferocity and Resolve.

EDIT: I hasten to point out that Clerics do not have the spells and abilities of every domain listed; rather, they are available to be chosen at character generation. Clerics are still limited to 2 choices of domain.

All druids and rangers are members of the Gray Cabal. Other classes are capable of joining this priesthood but this is rare and requires DM approval. Of course, any PC without alignment restrictions may become a member of a Gray congregation.

Gray Cabalist priests remain unchanged from their descriptions in the Pathfinder RPG.

The Fine Print

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