Saturday, March 31, 2012

Avengers TV spot

Still having problems with the main computer (posting this from laptop), but I did want to link to the latest Avengers trailer, a short TV spot:

Also, another look at those mysterious aliens...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Once again, delays

Our main computer has picked up some sort of bug, which had made logging in here problematic.  I can post from the laptop if needed, but for the moment getting the desktop fixed is the main priority, so there may not be any blog posts in the immediate future.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Tobes of Hades

No one will ever mistake me for a graphics designer, but hopefully some of you will get a chuckle out of this anyways...(click on image for larger pic)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

V&V Vednesday: Nemesis

Character Name: Nemesis     Real Name: Sandra Parsons    Side: Good
Gender: Female      Height: 5'9”     Weight: 160 lbs     Age: 33

Physical Description: A tall, athletically built female with shoulder-length black hair, blue eyes, and reasonably attractive facial features.  Her costume is a simple back bodysuit, complete with goggles and gas mask, and an image of the scales of justice as her chest insignia.  She also has a belt and bandolier that holds her various grenades and weapons when not in use.   

STR: 13     END: 16      INT: 15     AGL: 18     CHA: 13

Level: 5th     XP: 17,504     Basic Hits: 4     Hit Points: 20      Healing Rate: 1.6/day
Movement: 47”      Power: 62      Carrying Capacity: 304 lbs     HTH Damage: 1d6    
Damage Modifier: +3     Accuracy: +3     Detect Hidden: 12%     Detect Danger: 16%     Inventing: 45%     Inventing Points: 1.5     Reaction Modifier: -1/+1      
Training: reduce PR for Power Negation

Heightened Attack: +5 damage to all attacks
Heightened Defense: -4 to be hit from all attacks
Heightened Physical Prowess (acts similar to Heightened Strength A, Heightened Endurance A and Heightened Agility A, bonus may be split between those three attributes as desired): +5 END, +6 AGL
Natural Weaponry (martial arts): +2 to hit, +4 damage in unarmed combat
Psionic Ability: Power Negation (range 8" (INT/2) radius, negates all powers in range, does not affect talents or technology, does not affect magic items unless PR or mental command is required to activate, does not affect physical abilities that are natural to alien races, PR=8 per turn originally, reduced to PR=4 through training)


Areas of Knowledge
Military, Police

Auto-Pistol (+3 to hit, 1d8 damage, 108” range, 15 bullets/clip)
Auto-Rifle (+4 to hit, 1d10 damage, range = 180", 30 bullets/clip)
     armor-piercing rounds (treats Armor and Invulnerability as if damage were doubled)
     high-explosive rounds (+1d8 damage)
     fragmentation rounds (treats Armor and Invulnerability as if damage were halved, but any damage done to target is doubled)
Dagger (+1 to hit, +1d2 damage)
Goggles (IR & UV vision)
Gas mask (provides the Chemical Power defense against gas-based attacks)
Kevlar bodysuit (Invulnerability 6 pt vs ballistic attacks only)
Tear gas grenades (2d8 damage done directly against a victim's Power score, 3” radius, -4 to hit in, out, or through the gas due to obscurement)

Character Notes/Origin/Personality: Upon graduating from high school, Sandra Parsons signed up for the Marines.  After completing basic training, Sandra was sent to Afghanistan, where she served two two-year tours of duty.   She was well-liked by her officers and fellow soldiers, and served her time with distinction, earning both a Bronze Star and a Silver Star, as well as picking up two Purple Hearts along the way.  It was in Afghanistan that she first discovered her ability to negate superpowers of anyone possessing them in her immediate vicinity, during a firefight with a metahuman Taliban terrorist.

Having had enough of the war, Sandra didn't bother to re-enlist after her second term ended.  After coming home, she spent some time in college, and after getting her degree eventually joined the police force, becoming a detective after a couple of years.  During this time she used her ability to negate superpowers three different times, helping to stop various supervillains while never revealing her special ability.

The local police force was more often than not dirty, and Sandra was following a trail of corruption among her fellow officers to see just where that trail led.   The reward for her diligence wound up being a locked room full of explosives, designed to end her snooping once and for all.  It almost did; it took her almost a year for her to fully recover from the injuries she suffered, during which time she let the world assume she was dead.  When she did return, it was as the masked vigilante Nemesis.

Her initial mission was to ferret out and deal with the corrupt police officers who were involved in the attempt on her life.  She eventually succeeded in that task, although the fact that she killed several dirty cops along the way won her few friends among the law enforcement community.  She has since expanded her mission to fighting crime and corruption in general; she normally deals with non-powered opponents, such as mobsters and street gangs, but she is not adverse to facing metahuman opponents - her ability to negate superhuman abilities, combined with her deadly arsenal of weapons, has resulted in the deaths of more than one supervillain.

Campaign Use: If the PC's hold to the traditional 'no killing' rule that many superheroes do, then conflict between the PC's and Nemesis is a fairly easy thing to bring about.  Nemesis may wish to target a criminal or supervillain that the heroes (for whatever reason) need to protect.  Nemesis will not kill superheroes, no matter how much she may disagree with their methods, but she isn't above humiliating a superhero who is a bit too reliant on the metahuman abilities.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trollslayers - The Wall of Thorns

Nobody knows the origins of the Wall of Thorns, or just how long the Wall has existed.  Its existence is noted in various religious and historical tomes that date back over a millennium.   Many speculate that the Wall is the creation of the gods; other surmise that it was somehow created by a great empire whose borders spanned where the Wall now resides.

The span of the Wall runs several hundred miles, generally in a north-south direction, separating the Known Lands from the unknown western part of the continent.  The Wall ends at a mountain range to the north, and a canyon to the south.  No river or stream crosses the Wall.

The height of the Wall varies, but generally ranges from 30 to 40 feet high.  It's width, when it can be measured, is usually 10 to 15 feet deep.  The branches that make up the Wall are extremely tough and durable, and the thorns themselves are razor-sharp.  Moreso, the thorns are also poisonous.

While not a simple thing, the dedicated can usually find a way to make their way to the other side of the Wall, with a bit of effort.  The branches and vines can be physically cut and cleared, although this must be done with great care due to the poisonous thorns.  They can also be burned, but this is also dangerous, as the smoke given off from such a burning is also deadly to breath.  Those with access to magic or sufficient architectural/engineering skill can of course make their way over the Wall.

Whenever a part of the Wall is cut/damaged/burned, for whatever reason, it regrows at a rapid rate, and usually within days is once again whole.

Poisoners and other assassins sometimes journey to the Wall to gain access to the poison secreted from the Wall's thorns.  This is not without its dangers - the branches that can remain immobile in hurricane winds can also suddenly sway here and there in the slightest breeze, and more than one would-be assassin has been slain by the very poison they sought to acquire.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Music Monday: "Godzilla"

You're either going to get his, or you won't.  If not, then no amount of explanation will convey to you just why this so so frikkin' awesome.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Capsule review: John Carter

Short review: if you haven't seen the John Carter film yet, do so ASAP (if you have already seen it, you probably don't need an excuse to see it again).

Slightly longer review: John Carter is a highly enjoyable action-adventure romp, a fun Summer popcorn film that just happens to be released in the early Spring, the type of film that really benefits from being seen on the biog screen.  Drenched in pulpy/swashbuckler goodness, it is evocative of action films from older eras, the type that Hollywood doesn't make too often these days: if Douglas Fairbanks or Errol Flynn had made sci-fi epics back in the day, it would be something like this.

The story is based heavily on Burroughs' first Mars novel A Princess of Mars, with a fair chunk of The Gods of Mars (the second Mars novel) and a bit of The Warlord Mars (the third Mars novel) thrown in for good measure.  This may not please Burroughs purists, but overall, the changes work, and work well (Dejah Thoris is a much, much stronger and more interesting character here than she was in the original books).

Is it perfect?  Of course not.  There are a few nits I could pick (I would have liked for the red planet to be a little more, well, red), but nothing that seriously hindered my enjoyment of the film.  It's a good film, one that deserved better marketing from Disney, and could do without negative reviews from film critics who trash it out of hand (as so often happens to sci-fi films that don't purport to be deep and meaningful).

Don't believe me?  Check out my friend Greg's passionate plea on why you should see the film, as well as Erik Kain's piece on why you should ignore the critics who are trashing it.

And finally... I really, really want a Woola.  Damnit, Disney, where's my Woola toy?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Professor M.A.R. Barker 1929-2012

As has been posted on several other gaming blogs, the Tékumel Foundation has announced that Professor M.A.R. Barker, creator of the world of Tékumel and the Empire Of The Petal Throne RPG, passed away on Friday.

R.I.P., Professor.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Japanese trailer for the Avengers

Okay, just a quickie here.  The new Japanese trailer for the Avengers film is up.  Most of it is footage we've already seen, but there are some new shots of the aliens and their ships, and we also get to see Hawkeye in action a bit.

Also?  Heli-fucking-carrier.

Attack of the real world

Haven't posted much recently, may not do so for at least a few more days.  Real life, and all the messy details that entails.  Apologies.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Music Monday: "Shadows"

Who says shadow beings have to be malevolent?  Some can be downright playful, especially when they have the right bard to duet with.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Trollslayers - Religion

From a gamemaster's point of view, religion in Trollslayers is essentially agnostic: the gods may, or may not, exist.  Most believe, of course, but none in this lifetime may know for certain.

Most gods are defined by one or two (usually intertwined) major facets of daily life (i.e. sky/weather, sun/fire, earth, love/desire, death, etc) as well as a few lesser themes that tie thematically to the greater whole.  For example, Aurtan is not only the god of the sun and fire, but also inspiration, madness, creation, destruction, and metalworking.  Most gods that humans worship are not, from an outside perspective, either 'good' or 'evil', but rather are more dualistic in nature - the sky god Gwyntcalon gives both gentle rains and lethal thunderstorms.  Of course, there may be varying approaches to worshiping a god within splinter branches of the same faith.  While many priests of Basla, goddess of death, abhor and fight against the undead, other priests of that goddess study and actively use necromancy, working with and using the undead, perhaps even striving to some day become undead themselves.  As in our own world, some of the most bitter religious feuds are not between different faiths, but instead between different factions of the same faith.

In game terms, most priests are Experts, and being a priest is their Profession.  The gods, if they do exist, do not grant their acolytes any special abilities; priests must learn any spells (assuming they are capable of doing so) as would any Expert.  As with other Experts, any spell that falls within the domain of their faith (a light spell for Aurtan, or a weather spell for Gwyntcalon, for example) can be purchased/learned at the usual cost, otherwise it is doubled.  A priest's area of faith also defines their Profession.  Priests of Eilide, the earth/nature goddess, would gain the usual +1 bonus to any skill rolls involving tracking, herb identification, dealing with animals, etc.  Also, most priesthoods will also gain that bonus when dealing with others, dependent upon that religion's role in society.  Priests of a faith that is the local state religion might also be adept in dealing with bureaucracy and legal matters, while the followers of an outlawed religion might be more skilled at subterfuge and stealth.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

V&V Vednesday: Arclight

Character Name: Arclight     Real Name: Alyona Sokolov     Side: Evil
Gender: Female      Height: 5'7”     Weight: 140 lbs     Age: 21

Physical Description: An somewhat average looking Caucasian female of Slavic descent with blonde hair and blue eyes.  Her costume (if you can call it that) is very minimalist - knee-high boots, a bikini top and bottom, a choker collar, and a domino mask, all in white.

STR: 10     END: 13      INT: 10     AGL: 15     CHA: 11

Level: 2nd     XP: 2,496     Basic Hits: 3     Hit Points: 7      Healing Rate: 0/9/day
Movement: 38” (running), 572" (flying)      Power: 48      Carrying Capacity: 161 lbs      
HTH Damage: 1d4     Damage Modifier: +1     Accuracy: +2     
Detect Hidden: 8%     Detect Danger: 12%     Inventing: 30%     Inventing Points: 2.0
Reaction Modifier: -     Training: Strength

Absorption (light-based attacks): gains 2 pts of Power for every point of damage that would normally be done by a light-based attack.  Also, can gain one point of Power per minute from sufficient ambient light (sunlight, strong indoor lighting) that her skin is exposed to.
Flight: 130 mph (572") - this is much more taxing than most flying characters have to deal with, as PR cost is 1 pt per turn, not per hour.
Force Field: can only use the 'Force Screen' option; can not be used as a Pummeling attack.
Heightened Expertise: +4 to hit with Light Control attacks.
Light Control:  range 30", 2d8 damage, PR=1.


Areas of Knowledge
Transportation, Crime

Character Notes/Origin/Personality: The daughter of Russian emigres who moved to the U.S. and the fall of the Soviet Union, Alyona was something of a problem child, falling in with a local street gang during her teenage years.  As she got older, she became the 'wheelman' for various armed robbery attempts.  Eventually arrested, she spent a couple of years in juvenile hall, to be released on her 18th birthday.

She drifted a bit on her release, committing small crimes, a little more careful not to get caught again. Eventually, she wound up joining the Scarlet Queen's gang of henchman, putting her skills as a driver to good use.  Things weren't going too bad for her, all told; the Queen paid her minions fairly well, and those that got captured usually got rescued from jail fairly quickly.  It wasn't a bad gig, from her way of thinking.

However, as the Queen's superpowered followers grew in number, so did the number of superheroes who came into conflict with the Queen and her minions.  One such foe was Nemesis, a vigilante who injured and killed several of the Queen's non-powered henchman, as well as seriously injuring a couple of her superpowered followers before being forced to retreat.  Alyona was one of the henchmen seriously injured by Nemesis, her throat slashed by the vigilante's dagger.

Alyona was rushed by her compatriots to an underground doctor who asked no questions and took cash up front.  The doctor managed to save the young woman's life, but could not restore the damaged vocal chords; Alyona would never be able to speak again.  As a form of compensation, the Scarlet Queen gave Alyona a choice to be bestowed superpowers; Alyona accepted, despite the risk; she hoped that if she survived whatever new abilities would be granted her would somehow be able to restore her power of speech.

Alyona survived the process, gaining several light-based powers, but nothing to heal her destroyed vocal chords.  This has left Arclight (as she is now called) conflicted.  She is grateful to the Scarlet Queen for her new abilities, but on some level she also blames the Queen for what has happened to her.  For the moment, she still follows the Scarlet Queen - the Queen's minions and followers are the closest thing to family she has these days - but under the right circumstance she might betray them, if it benefited her enough.  However, she knows that despite her powers she's not really cut out for solo activity, and that the chance of her getting any followers of her own are fairly slim, so the payoff for such a theoretical betrayal would need to be extraordinary, enough so that she could start a new life entirely.

Overall, Arclight is a fairly solid (if somewhat unimaginative) team player, and generally works well with others, despite whatever misgivings she may have.  Two things might override her willingness to work with others.  The first is if an opportunity shows up to somehow heal her damaged throat.  The second is a chance to revenge herself against Nemesis.  Either of these situations would probably cause her to forsake whatever mission or goal her allies are set upon, abandoning her compatriots if necessary in favor of her personal obsessions.

Campaign Use: As noted above, Arclight will usually be encountered as part of a team.  Despite her defensive abilities, she knows that all it takes is one good blow to take her out of a fight, and so she works in tandem with others.  She will often try to blind foes so that her allies can more easily take them out of the fight.

If needed as a solo villain, she will probably be encountered trying to find a way to heal her damaged throat, perhaps kidnapping or coercing a healer like Sanadora towards that end.  In such an instance she might make a good threat for an inexperienced solo superhero.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

If Disney's did 'A Game Of Thrones'

Sure, A Game of Thrones is pretty fucked up at times... but adding Disney characters into the mix makes it really fucked up.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Music Monday: "Stealin'"

While several Uriah Heep songs were inspirational for many early D&D players ("The Wizard", "Rainbow Demon", "The Magician's Birthday"), my favorite of their tunes sounds (to me, at least) more like it belongs in a Wild West RPG campaign...


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Four years later...

...we still roll the dice, when we can.

Ernest Gary Gygax: July 27, 1938 – March 4, 2008

Just watch out for those random encounters while on the astral and etheral planes, okay?