Friday, October 31, 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Iron Kingdoms, Part 2: The Philosophy Behind the Iron Kingdoms


Iron Kingdoms Charter Guide Cover by Matt Wilson


How do you distinguish yourself in a crowded field of settings that have been produced both professionally and independently? For Privateer Press the answer to that question came in the form of a complete re-evaluation of how a fantasy setting should handle the magic-technology dualism, where one can only thrive at the expense of the other.
". . . Typically in genre of fantasy, there is an implicit, preconceived notion; magic and technology are so vastly different that one cannot exist if the other is already firmly entrenched. Some of the principles in the writings of literary masters of fantasy such as J.R.R. Tolkien, H.G. Wells, and Michael Moorcock allude that one encroaches upon the other; that one must give way for the other to take hold. Epic wars are fought, with the sides and their beliefs serving as allegorical agents of magic or technology, chaos or law. The creators and developers of western Immoren - the homeland of the Iron Kingdoms and other territories - have made the conscious decision to sidestep this notion and approach their fantasy environment from a contrasting perspective. In western Immoren, magic and technology not only co-exist, they complement one another. Certain technologies in this environment bend the laws of physics through the application of magic.  To date, mechanika - a melding of science and sorcery, technology and magecraft - is the foremost example of these complimentary forces in the Iron Kingdoms . . ." (Martin, pg. 7).
By abandoning the traditional magic-technology dualism that has dominated the standard fantasy role-playing game setting and instead embracing a new philosophy for the setting where the two are able to not only co-exist, but thrive, Privateer Press has freed themselves from many of the typical constraints found in fantasy role-playing games. Guns, traditionally a taboo in most fantasy role-playing games, can not only be easily found in the Iron Kingdoms but are actually a critical component for one of the new core classes (the Gun Mage, CG pg. 104) and for two of the new prestige classes (the Pistoleer, CG pg. 124, and the Rifelman, CG pg. 128). Mechanical war-machines reminiscent of Japaneese anime are found throughout the setting with two classes dedicated to servicing and improving them: the Arcane Mechanik (CG, pg. 88) and the Bodger (CG, pg. 93). 

The change in philosophy behind the magic-technology dualism has an added consequence for Privateer Press in that they have completely changed how the people within the Iron Kingdoms understand magic.
". . . Without a doubt Caen [the world of Iron Kingdoms - Charlie] is very much a fantasy world, but it is one that has proceeded into a new era of development. Rather than cast off the mantle of magic and spirituality, these elements are firmly embraced by the proponents of science and technology. Rather than viewing the concepts as incapable of coexistence, the inhabitants of western Immoren assimilate everything together, seeing magic, spirituality, science, and industry as parts of a greater whole. They have developed ways for everything to work in tandem, tapping the arcane and fueling it with science, taking mechanical apparatuses and enhancing them with magic. Even the principles of magic are seen as a physical science of sorts, every bit as real and applicable in the kingdoms as the principles of physics, biology, chemistry, engineering, and mathematics . . ." (Martin, pg. 7).
For me this was one of the first moments when I began to truly fall in love with this setting. When Privateer Press elected to make magic another form of physical science it was essentially saying that through hard work and a concerted effort anyone can learn some mastery over magic. The move to a systematic form of magic that can be replicated as uniformly as creating baking soda is a move that quite frankly reinvigorated my imagination and love for the hobby at a time when I desperately needed to find some reason to stick with it. 

Yet as I'm rereading the Character Guide for the first time in several years I'm struck by the notion that this understanding of arcane magic could easily be extended to divine magic as well. The idea that ". . . the inhabitants of western Immoren assimilate everything together, seeing magic, spirituality, science, and industry as parts of a greater whole . . ." (Martin, pg. 7) seems to lend itself to the notion that divine magic is approached in the same way. That's something that I had never noticed before, and quite frankly it's an idea that I really like.

For the moment let's consider that with magic, spirituality, science and industry all being codified into organized systems where every spell can be as easily replicated as building a factory or making soap that the world of Immoren is on the cusp of a major Renaissance. Indeed it probably should have already happened were it not for two factors that will color all else that comes after: the Orgoth occupation, and the Wars of the Iron Kingdoms. In the next part we'll be looking at the Orgoth and their impact on the continent of Immoren


Feel like you're missing something?
Part 2: The Philosophy Behind the Iron Kingdoms
Part 3: The Orgoth

Cited Texts
Martin, Joe and Matt Willson. Iron Kingdoms Character Guide. Seattle, WA: Privateer Press, 2004. pg. 7

Abbreviations
CG - Character Guide
WG - World Guide
LL - Lock & Loaded
LM - Liber Mechanika
MM1 - Monsternomicon v1
MM2 - Monsternomicon v2
WFT1 - Witchfire Trilogy 1
WFT2 - Witchfire Trilogy 2
WFT3 - Witchfire Trilogy 3
NQ# - No Quarter Issue#

Monday, October 27, 2014

Iron Kingdoms, Part 1: Capturing My Attention

Iron Kingdoms Charter Guide Cover by Matt Wilson
 
In the winter of 2004 I picked up the Iron Kingdoms Character Guide for the first time and fell in love. The setting was so vastly different from anything that I had ever encountered that it was like a revelation. Up until I picked up that book I had always limited my games to what I considered the classical fantasy tropes. Knights fought dragons and rescued princesses who never seemed to buy enough security guards to kill the god damned dragons that kept kidnapping them. 

Everything changed for me in November of that year when I discovered the Character Guide. Just picking up the book and looking at the cover had me holding my breath. I wanted to play those characters. I wanted that metal beast covering my back; but more than anything else I wanted my games to have that sort of gritty feel that the cover projected. 

I spent the $40.00 for the nearly 400 page book and raced back up the mountain to start reading one of the best role-playing game books I've ever purchased. In the coming weeks I would buy the World Guide, Liber Mechanika, the two Monsternomicons, Five Fingers: Port of Deceit and pray for more books to come out. Unfortunately for me the miniatures line based on the Iron Kingdoms role-playing game would take off and come to dominate Privateer Press' efforts; eventually leading the company to relaunch the line in 2012 with their own rules system forever disentangling the system with the Dungeons and Dragons system.

My love for the setting and the wonderfully nuanced world of Immoren has not been diminished by the publication of the new editions of Dungeons and Dragons or Privateer Press' own system.  Instead it seems to have only intensified. Over the course of the coming months I'm going to be working my way through the Character Guide, the World Guide, Liber Mechanika, a whole slew of supplemental articles from the Privateer Press website, Monsternomicon I, and Monsternomicon II steadily building a unified understanding of the game as I first encountered it and fell in love with the setting. Along the way I'll be updating the classes for Fifth Edition and making the setting work the way I need it to for my games, and hopefully for yours as well. 


Feel like you're missing something?
Part 1: Capturing My Attention

Abbreviations
CG - Character Guide
WG - World Guide
LL - Lock & Loaded
LM - Liber Mechanika
MM1 - Monsternomicon v1
MM2 - Monsternomicon v2
WFT1 - Witchfire Trilogy 1
WFT2 - Witchfire Trilogy 2
WFT3 - Witchfire Trilogy 3
NQ# - No Quarter Issue#

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Money, It's a Drag?

I'm beginning a major delve into the Iron Kingdoms and very quickly I've discovered that the conversion rates on the various coinage in the setting are giving me conniption fits. A large part of the problem is that the money conversions aren't given to me in a format that my brain can quickly convert. That's a me problem though, and not some issue with the book. All the same as I'm working with the conversions I started thinking about the various settings I've played in and it occurred to me that I've never played in a setting where the coinage required conversion. Let me restate that: I've never played in a setting where converting the coinage between the various currencies mattered in a way that went beyond their names.

Now it's entirely possible (and even probable) that the problem has been that the various Dungeon Masters I've played under had no interest in dealing with the headache of converting and just glossed over the whole thing. -- But I don't mind dealing with those sort of things because it's an opportunity to overcome the problems I encounter. So why haven't I done it before?

Thinking back over the last decade of being a Dungeon Master it seems that my players have rarely chosen to go outside their starting nations. I think that comes from the fact that I tend to have them starting either in island nations or on the borderlands away from the majority of civilization. While the borderlands could certainly have multiple currencies floating about I usually have them playing with coins that matter by their weight so having a Golden Orb, Drab, or whatever doesn't really matter so long as it's actually gold and meets the standard weights. 

Reading the Iron Kingdoms Character Guide makes me wonder if I haven't been missing out on an opportunity to introduce a little bit of verisimilitude to the game that would actually make the game more interesting. I can certainly see the negotiations being argued for the most valuable currencies and my players converting their bulky, lower value, bulk coinage into the higher value currency and investing in foreign banks. Lots of room there for underhanded dealings and intellectual robbery . . .

What about you cats? Do you use currency conversions that go beyond name only? Does it bog your games down or does it make things more interesting?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A New Campaign? At Dyvers? You Don't Say!

One of the major projects I've been working on in the background is setting up a new campaign. Over the last few years what I would consider my core group has steadily broken up because that's how life works when you move cities multiple times and have jobs, families, children, and all the responsibilities that come along with being an adult. Sure I've been able to string together the occasional one shot but nothing has really gone for a full campaign.

Now since the last full campaign I ran, which ended with a self-sacrificing total party kill where they kicked the bad guys back into the last century before the last one fell, ended in 2010 after my lovely bride graduated college and got her first teaching job a lot has happened. Step now has four children. The Mighty She recently got married to a lovely young man who is righteously terrified of her. Biggboy's mom and dad have had some serious health problems. The Master Planner has just moved back to the state after a brief sojourn out west. And I've been all over hell and finally come back to the foot of the mountain.

So I've been e-mailing the Mighty She, Icarus, Step, Biggboy, and the Master Planner to set up the best day for all of us to play. Right now it looks like Friday will be the best day for us to play; but the question remains: what the fuck am I going to run? 

In the past I've either run in Greyhawk or in my homebrewed world (which they destroyed a few years ago), so this time I'm thinking seriously about going into the Iron Kingdoms. The problem is that even using only one of the setting books is a massive chore as Privateer Press put out some serious fucking documents. I think the Character Guide is nearly 500 pages and so too is the World Guide. Don't get me wrong they're absolutely beautiful but intimidating to try and fully immerse yourself in the setting as I've done in the past with Greyhawk. 

Son of a bitch. I just realized something that I want to do and it's another god damned rabbit hole. Fucking A.

Dyvers Interviews: The RPG Pundit



As the proprietor of the the RPGsite, creator of the new OSR game Arrows of Indra, a thriving blog, and a consultant on the newest edition of Dungeons and Dragons it could be argued that the RPG Pundit has never had a wider sphere of influence or been more important in the hobby. With his increased prominence, however, have come controversies as adversaries old and new have made serious charges against him in a concerted effort to stymie his rise.

To his friends the RPG Pundit is a clarion call in the wilderness of the internet, caustically fighting against those who argue that we should wage our societal battles over our games by projecting issues onto them. To his critics he is a Machiavellian troll that uses every occasion to manufacture a reputation built on intimidation and harassment. They point to his use of hyperbolic language as an indictment of the man and to minimize his role in the hobby. Yet with all the effort that has been expended on maligning the Pundit he has continued to grow the RPGsite and to thrive where few others could have hoped. To better understand this controversial figure I asked him for an interview and he graciously consented.

DYVERS: Since taking over the RPGsite you've often been recognized as both one of the great voices for liberty by allowing most any topic associated with role-playing games to be discussed, and harshly criticized for not tightly controlling what is discussed on the site. How have you been able to ensure that the RPGsite has had such free reign and have you ever regretted your decision to let it be so free-wheeling?

RPGPundit: It's fairly simple really.  I wanted a group about RPG discussion. I don't feel the need to engage in petit-powermongering, unlike the admins of most rpg-related forums who enjoy controlling other peoples' lives in the most meaningless way possible as some misguided attempt to alleviate a sense of meaninglessness in their own lives. I have, in other words, the courage of my convictions.  Many of my opponents talk about being 'inclusive', but their idea of that word seems very funny to me: they are only 'inclusive' of anyone who does not directly disagree with them.

Over on theRPGsite, ANYONE can come and post.  We ban people only for what amounts to "site disruption", not for the subject matter or ideological slant of their posting content.  So the only people who get banned there are people who post illegal material, or engage in activity like spam-posting, person-stalking or off-topic-posting through multiple threads, because we will not have literal sabotage of the site.   But in respect to IDEAS, theRPGsite is the only really Inclusive place for gamers to talk. And the proof of that is in how there are people there who've racked up literally tens of thousands of posts over the past near-decade who have routinely and regularly called me an asshole and like just about everything I disagree with in RPGs.  And they know they post there without fear of reprisals.

To sum up: we ban less people in a YEAR than rpgnet sometimes bans in a day.

DYVERS: I mentioned in the introduction that your use of caustic and hyperbolic language has often been a source of consternation for your critics. They tend to see comments like "Bruce Baugh can go Fuck Himself with a Spoon" as the sort of language that drives people away from the hobby and stifles their ability to fully participate therein. Given that speaking so brashly is going to antagonize these people do you ever find yourself second thinking the use of such phrases? Do you view their criticisms on the language you use as valid? If not, why?

RPGPundit: I would think that the things that would drive people away from the hobby are things like Bruce Baugh deciding that its ok for him to intentionally and with full premeditation make up lies about someone being a homophobe, in an effort to sabotage the latest edition of D&D, and then do everything he can in order to cover up any proof against or denunciation of his lies.

That's why Bruce Baugh can go fuck himself with a spoon. If anything, I was too kind, because at the time of writing that article (when Bruce Baugh was only busy deciding he could intentionally ruin an RPG because he though the fans of those rpgs should be "punished" for liking such a childish game), I had no idea the depths of just how immense a sack of putrid shit the man is.

If you want to ask people about "stifling their ability to participate" in the hobby, go ask Bruce Baugh why he intentionally LIED about me being a homophobe/transphobe, posting a social media post that claimed I was against the inclusive language in the new D&D 5e rules when in fact I've always been wholeheartedly for it, and then deleted and blocked any attempts by people to point out that I had in fact issued multiple statements of support for the inclusivity of 5e.  I would very much like to see the RPG-related media put that question to the sad pathetic fucker over and over again. Forever. Or until he personally apologizes.

This is why we must speak brashly.  The other side stabs people in the back, and has no problem with deception, misinformation and OUTRIGHT LIES because they feel that there's no such thing as "truth", only ideological success. So they have no morals whatsoever, they have no limits to what they're willing to do and feel no problem with lying or other totally dirty tactics to take down people they think are getting in the way of their cause (said cause being ultimately to be the ones who get to be in control of the RPG hobby). I don't lie. So the only way to respond to these assholes is outrage, to point out very clearly just what kind of scum they are. If you were falsely accused of being a homophobe by someone who absolutely knew they were lying about you, just because they want to stop you from being able to influence the hobby, don't you think they deserve nothing less than total contempt?

DYVERS: Your critics often bring up your use of the word "swine" for those you disagree with as a reason why you shouldn't have any validity attached to your criticisms and that people shouldn't attempt to engage in civil discourse with you. Sage Latorra actually went so far as to write an article, Swine Flew, where he picked a series of quotes from your use of the term to demonstrate why your involvement in any company was reason enough not support them by purchasing their products. It's almost as though they have taken the term as an insult on level with a racial epithet and not as the rather innocuous insult it appears to be to me. When you began using the term what significance did you intend for it to impart to your readers, and did you intend for it to take on the greater significance that it has? Have you found that using the term has limited your ability to participate in discussions outside of the RPGsite?  

RPGPundit: Sage Latorra was understandably upset that Wizards of the Coast wanted their next edition of D&D to be ideologically influenced by someone like me (whose analysis of the RPG scene has been proven right time and time again) rather than a neo-Forge-theorist like himself (who have always gotten absolutely everything wrong about what makes RPGs successful, and whose ideas were part of the relative failure of 4e D&D).  But of course, it’s more useful for them to use "he uses bad language and is mean to people" rather than "he disagrees with what we think should happen to RPGs and we want to stop him" as a rallying cry, you get more people behind you if you make it about niceness than about ideology.  But at least, back then, you could say that to Latorra's credit that he didn't engage in doxxing (unlike many of the other people on his side who would later attack me and others in the 'consultantgate' fiasco), and at least, even though it wasn't his real primary motive for trying to have me fired from WoTC, most of what he was saying in that article is technically true: I DO use bad language and I am mean to my opponents (though who the fuck knows why that should in any way have anything to do with my qualifications in game criticism, design and consulting? - since when do we need people to always be 'nice' as well as being great at something??). So yes, on the scale of elementary-school morality of telling on the teacher because Billy said a dirty word, Sage Latorra at least wasn't lying; you can't say the same about almost anyone else on the Outrage Brigade during the later 'consultantgate' thing, where they posted brutal, blatant and horrific lies about me as soon as they realized "but he's a big meanie and we just don't like him!" wasn't going to convince anyone I'm technically unqualified for the job I was given.

As for the original significance and context of "Swine", it was a term borrowed from Hunter S. Thompson. He used that term in a variety of ways, but in essence it meant 'authoritarian hypocrites' (sometimes more authoritarian, sometimes more hypocrite).  So I was using it in largely the same way in the RPG context, to refer to people who feel a desperate need to make RPGs about something more than just a game (be it "art", "academia" or lately "social engineering"), and who usually feel the need to IMPOSE this vision of theirs on other gamers, by force if necessary (because they are using the hobby to satisfy their need to feel like they're doing something worthy with themselves: be it that they're a great 'artiste' for playing WoD games, or a 'profound intellectual' for talking about GNS/Forge theory, or being a great social crusader for complaining about how Aleena the Mentzer-box D&D Cleric looks like a prostitute in spite of being fully dressed in head-to-toe chain mail or how killing a goblin is actually a cleverly-disguised metaphor for murdering Latinos or some other bullshit like that; and because they must have the participation - again, forced if necessary- of the 'unwashed masses' of lesser gamers in order to confirm their fantasy-idea of themselves).
So really, I don't think people are off the mark for saying it’s a serious thing to call someone.  I take 'fascist' and 'hypocrite' to be much more serious insults than, say, 'dogfucker'.  And I have no problem with the annoyance the Fascists and Hypocrites of the tabletop RPG hobby have felt with this word becoming part of the recognized rpg-discussion lexicon and being used against them when they are being fascists and hypocrites. 

I found it has pissed off a lot of people who realize that they match the definition of Swine, but that hasn't really "affected my ability to participate in RPG discussions", so much as the utterly FALSE accusations these Swine have MADE UP about me, like that I'm a homophobe, transphobe, racist, or sexist, or that I've doxxed people (when in fact, the Swine love to doxx me on a regular basis, it’s the first, cheapest thing they do to attack me), or dumber things, like that I'm a Republican, or a Christian Fundamentalist (that's particularly funny).

So people who've never actually talked to me personally before sometimes do approach me with a wrong idea about me, but that's not because of "swine", it’s because of all the LIES the Swine regularly and repeatedly make up about me in an effort to stop me from getting in their way.


DYVERS: Over the last few years you have increasingly become a favorite target of, as you are so fond of calling them, the Social Justice Warriors. What really kicked off this animosity? Was it the fallout from James Desborough's In Defense of Rape article and your very public defense of him (see For Pseudo-Activists, Lying About Rape Threats is OK if its "for the cause" for more) that brought their attention or had you already been a target before that incident?

RPGPundit:  Sorry, first I have to clear something up.  I almost NEVER call them "Social justice warriors".  That's a stupid term and it utterly fails to describe what these people are; calling them that suggests they actually really fight for social justice, which would be a wonderful thing and not an insult at all.

That's why whenever possible, I avoid using "SJW".  I call them PSEUDO-ACTIVISTS, which is not as short but is much more accurate: they are NOT 'social justice warriors' because they don't really fight for social justice; they improperly ABUSE the idea of 'social justice' for their own cheap purposes, using 'social justice' as a mask to let them manipulate people and movements, make power-grabs for their own purposes, sometimes make money for themselves, and to shield themselves against criticism.

I would be ridiculously happy if no one ever used "sjw" as a term again, and called these people Pseudo-Activists, which is what they are. Alternately, "the Outrage Brigade" is also acceptable.

As for when I started fighting with the Outrage Brigade, I think something has to be understood: almost everyone who is today involved on that side of the conflict were, only a few years back, part of the Forge/Storygames crowd who were trying to take over RPGs back then, but not in the name of Social Justice; rather, they were trying to remake RPGs along "theory" lines and make gaming into a deep intellectual pursuit (controlled by them, the self-styled 'deep intellectuals', of course).  It was only when it became very clear that their theories were utterly bullshit (both from a commercial perspective and from the perspective of the types of games the vast majority of RPG gamers prefer to play), after the Forge closed down, that these exact same people started talking about social justice. In fact, I had PREDICTED that this was exactly what they'd do [see RPGPundit called it on the year of the Pseudo-Activists and The Pseudo-Activists Swine, Revisited for more], on my blog, a couple of years back just before the first really big "moral outrage" events started to happen.

So I had been a "target" long before the event you somewhat incorrectly describe as "the fallout from James Desborough's article".  I would describe it as "the time about 100 Swine MADE UP the utterly false rape-threat claims about James Desborough and then when confronted with this fact chose to keep right on repeating a proven LIE"; because these people are mostly all the same people I've been fighting from the Forge for the last 10 years.  It’s just that now they're pretending that it’s about RPGs being 'socially just' rather than about RPGs being 'academic' or 'artistic' and had no problem with writing or running games like Poison'd or Maid that featured (and encouraged!) violent and sadistic rape [For Vincent’s comments on rape in Poison’d click here  – Charlie] of the sort that Desborough would never even dream of.

DYVERS: With the release of Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons your name was revealed as one of the consultants - something that you had discussed beforehand and that your critics openly called you a liar over - and many of your former antagonists took the opportunity to claim you were a bigot who had consistently attempted to drive people from the hobby through harassment and intimidation. At the time it seemed that many of them believed that if they put enough pressure on you and Wizards of the Coast that your name would be taken out of the books and that you would cower before them. After witnessing some of what you went through I've been curious to know how you were able to withstand their attacks, and often outright lies, about you? Considering what you went through did you ever contemplate giving up and walking away from the RPGsite, from your blog, or from the hobby as a whole?

RPGPundit: How did I withstand their attacks?  Well, it's simple: I have a moral compass.  Unlike my opponents, I actually care about Truth. I know that something that isn't true will ultimately (though not always immediately) lose out to the truth.  The truth is the best rhetorical weapon you can ever use, and because my opponents believe there's no such thing as truth (being, for the most part, hopeless relativists), they can never wield it effectively. 

The Pseudo-activists almost can't help but LIE, because they can barely understand the concept of what "true" is anymore.  And thus, they dug their own grave by the torrent of lies they vomited out about me (and another consultant, and some other opponents of theirs in the hobby).  The end result of what they did was to bring attention to me, make me more famous, double my blog readership, make me more money, and utterly and totally discredit themselves.  There are now links and records kept of all the times they've lied (The latter being necessary because the pseudo-activists have often tried to go back and delete or edit stuff to hide when they've been caught out in a lie), and we've set up a permanent thread on theRPGsite (see This is Why We Don't Like You for more) in order to show a permanent and immutable record of cases where these Swine have been caught out in lying, general misbehavior and even clearly conspiring to make up lies about their opponents.

I won't pretend that there weren't times I was under enormous levels of stress during 'consultantgate', and extremely frustrated by just how low these assholes will sink in their willingness to lie, how absolutely nothing seems to be sacred to them (people's reputations, dead friends, family members, children -again, all because 'truth' is practically meaningless to them). But (even discounting the personal profit I made from their backfired efforts) if the positive result of this is that the next time they try to do this to someone else, people will be able to stop them in their tracks because no one can buy into their bullshit anymore, that makes it totally worth it.

DYVERS: Moving on from the difficulties you've experienced in recent years I'd like to talk about Arrows of Indra. I don't recall ever seeing another game set in India and until your game appeared it had never occurred to me how fascinating a campaign set there could be. How did working on this game compare to your previous projects? Was it more satisfying creatively? How has it performed compared to your previous projects?

RPGPundit: I'm really glad you like AoI. And yes, India is a fascinating source of adventuring material, with Arrows of Indra touching only a small part of the vast wealth of legends and mythology there. 

Every project I've worked on was hugely satisfying; for Lords of Olympus (for example, I got to write up what is without a doubt the most complete guide to Greek mythology ever printed for an RPG!). What was perhaps more creatively satisfying for me about AoI was just that I was doing an accurate and respectful treatment (in the sense of being based on the original myths, and not on cheap stereotypes or tv or film knock offs) of a cultural setting that had never ever been really properly and accurately done before.  I was glad to be able to make a game that is of a detailed and intricate non-European cultural context but presented in such a way as to be approachable to all gamers; and not about trying to intentionally be weird for its own sake or demand that the reader first educate themselves on pre-requisite subjects in some snobbish attempt to actually make the setting less accessible.  I WANT everyone to play in epic fantasy India, to be able to do so easily, and to have fun doing it; the goal was also not about trying to make some 'social message' but about showing just how awesome a setting Epic India really is.  So rather than beating the reader over the head with some kind of heavy-handed "you must like this" attitude that usually wins over no one, I think I have won over quite a lot of people to realize just how cool Indian mythology and Indian culture in general is, by focusing on the fun and not on smug lecturing.

As far as how it has performed, I'd say very well.  It has sold really well on PDF and print, and while Lords of Olympus still might be a slightly better seller overall it also had a year of sales before AoI got in print, so both those games are really neck and neck as far as being my most popular and successful.

DYVERS: What went into your decision to publish the game through Bedrock Games as opposed to self-publishing the game?

RPGPundit: I've never published any of my games. I don't believe in that.  It’s a bullshit idea that some Swine came up with a decade ago that said "everyone MUST publish their own games!", as if that makes your game better or makes you a better person for doing so. 

Now, if you want to publish your own games, great. Go wild. But the idea that I, who am a great writer but in no way a great editor, layout man, artist, businessman or computer whiz, should have to do all the work myself to get some kind of bullshit indie hipster-cred is just moronic.  I would much rather take advantage of my relative fame to team up with tried and tested publishers (like Flying Mice, Precis Intermedia, Bedrock Games, or DOM publishing -- Swine: there's an enemies - list for you, go out and whine about how bad they are so that they all get a lot of attention and money!) who actually know what they're doing, and want to work together with me to make a superior product.

I could never have done anything nearly as stunningly beautiful a book as the full-color print edition of Lords of Olympus, for example.  Nor would I have been likely to find an artist as skilled as the one who did the borders and cover image of Arrows of Indra (which, by the way, is the first RPG rulebook ever - to my knowledge- to feature a heroic transgender character on said front cover).  The distribution network that Flying Mice, Precis, and Bedrock have means that I don't have to worry about trying to push my game myself.  I don't have to focus on production or on sales, I can just do the one part that I do best: writing.

DYVERS: In some of the reviews for Arrows of Indra I have seen comments that the game's setting feels more like an Indian's view on their popular history of India as opposed to the actual history. Do you feel that this is an accurate reading of your game?

RPGPundit: I hadn't actually read that before, its a pretty fascinating assessment.  I can see some of his point of view.  Arrows of Indra is NOT based on "actual history".  It is based on Epic Indian Myth.  Because of course actual history did not have flying chariots and arrows that could blow up cities and poison-spitting seven-headed giant snakes. But furthermore, it didn't have the civilizations (or at least not the grandiose and epic civilizations) that the Mahabharata depicts.

However, I would slightly disagree with the author of that review, in that this is not so much Epic India as modern Indians would imagine it, but Epic India as it would have been contextually depicted in its own time.  So for example, one of the reasons why things like Tantra or the Advaita concept or even sophisticated notions of Reincarnation are barely touched-upon is because all of these were things that were in fact later developments after the vedic period.  Likewise, I made a point of the caste system in AoI being more malleable (that is, people can shift castes, in theory, though its not easy) because this is how it historically was in that period, whereas its very much not that way today.  This choice was at least as much for design reasons as for some kind of concern with historical accuracy, because it made the game easier to run.  Karma, in the period before Krishna, was largely all about performance of proper ritual and avoidance of the taboo, so the Holy/Neutral/Unholy spectrum for Alignment does that really well, and its much less of a hassle than having to deal with some kind of tricky and not-worth-it calculation of Karma Points or something along those lines.  It is also true that I sometimes mix up Northern and Southern Indian material, sacrificing accuracy for the sake of completeness. And yes, the vision of AoI is very Vedic, mostly North Indian, and not Jain or Buddhist (the Buddha wasn't alive yet!).  This should not be seen as some kind of ideological choice but purely a setting-design choice.  What I really wanted to avoid was some cheap mishmash where it was all just a jumble, like some early "asian" RPG settings that were mostly inspired by Kung-fu movies and where you had Han Chinese, Ching Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asian, and Mongolian stuff all mixed up with no sense or reason to them at all.

I would disagree, though, about the part about male-oriented.  It's true that I didn't make up some class or rules for a "respectable female Noble" class or something like that, though really there's nothing to stop someone playing one, or even making up said class, hopefully without resorting to cheap social-mechanic rules.  But I made a point of making the AoI setting one where female characters could theoretically take up any adventuring class, and could with relative ease handle certain ones (and a non-evil witch would, pretty obviously, just be a female Siddhi/magic-user character).  Yes, it's not strictly culturally accurate, because you don't see Radha or Queen Kunti going around slaughtering asuras with a bow, but it seems wrongheaded to say that I've just ignored women because I figured it would be more fun for women to get to go out and fight monsters instead of sitting around the court showing how respectable they are (in MOST campaigns; of course, in some campaigns you could make it all about everyone sitting around the court trying to act respectable!).


DYVERS: While the Arrows of Indra is an OSR game, and can easily be converted to other OSR style games, I have to ask if you have any plans on taking the setting and modifying it for use with other systems that might not be as compatible, such as Fifth Edition D&D or Pathfinder?

RPGPundit:  There is no immediate plan, but nothing is ruled out.  I'll point out that I neither play nor have consulted on Pathfinder, so IF there's AoI material for either of those games, you can guess which one it'll be for!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesdays are for Dancing!

Lately I've had so many projects going on in the background that it's been difficult for me to fully concentrate on giving the blog its full attention. So I'm paring back a bit on the background noise so that I don't end up putting this thing on the back burner - especially since this is one of the things I do that brings me a lot of joy.

That said the little boy has just informed me that it's time to dance so I'm off. See you cats in a bit.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole Again

So I'm looking into an old thing that happened in the community because I got real interested in how a certain story began and then spiraled completely out of control. Two things come to mind in digging: 1) what the fuck is wrong with people; 2) why the fuck do we waste so much time lying about each other when the truth is so much more powerful?

More later.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Blaming You Is Easier Than Dealing with My Own Hang-ups

It's depressing reading about the way that people have used the case of Zoe Quinn to prove their preconceived notions about gamers and "The Hobby" (which is a monolithic entity that we can all be dumped in because we play games - regardless of the type). Because of Zoe's situation suddenly we're having to watch that bullshit hatchet job's revival which throws everyone back into the fire. Everything is being linked to each other; role-playing games, video games, card games and anything else that differs from the main, arterial flow of what's considered an acceptable pastime is steadily being brought together to form yet another enemy to focus on instead of teaching people to be decent fucking human beings.
This is a test

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Hunting Party, Part 5: Fire and the Knights



Poot led us inside the Lifetime Loser's Lounge and down the hallway to our table. I expected to find Neverwas standing at the end of the table like some faux-general waiting to read us the riot act; finding Little E and Tweedledum flanking him on each side was a surprise. As we sat down he announced, "I'm going to be giving you all one last chance to resend your actions in killing the tavern before I shift your alignments for killing an innocent life."

Poot's head tilted to the side as Icarus spoke, "I don't understand why you would shift our alignments?"

Before Neverwas could respond Poot raised his hand up and said, "Hold on. You said we took an innocent life? As in one?"

"Well," Neverwas began, "what I meant to say was that you took innocent lives."

"How many," Poot asked with a smile, "or is this one of those occasions when you're going to start shifting the goalpost so you can declare a minor victory?"

Twedledum stifled a laugh as he sat down, "Tell them, Neverwas, how many innocent lives are we talking about here?"

It doesn't matter, I interrupted, because there were no innocents in that tavern. Neverwas stared at me from across the table with his mouth hanging slightly askew. I tested them by the articles of our faith and they were clearly non-believing sinners.

"So you killed them all," Little E finished for me. "Surely you can't be arguing that slaughtering all those people would be excused by any good faith?"

I stared back at Neverwas as Step answered for me, "We're all Christians in here?"

"Yeah," Neverwas said after a slight pause.

"Christianity is a good faith, right?"

"Yes," Neverwas said with obvious confusion playing across his face.

"Well, if history can be believed, then Christianity has killed untold millions of non-believers because their faith in other gods was a sin."

"Check and mother fucking mate," Tweedledum said as he slapped his hands together. "I told you that you wouldn't be able to get them on that one."

Neverwas shot him a look, "I'm not trying to get them."

Then stop with the empty threats and let's get on with the game, I said.

As the game picked back up it became clear that Little E and Tweedledum were there to help Neverwas deal with us. While they weren't technically secondary Dungeon Masters their opinions carried enough weight with Neverwas that they were able to cause him to rule against our initial plans to escape through the basement. They smiled proudly each time that they were able to find some fault in our logic.

After half an hour of this Poot looked over at me and whispered, "Okay, now how do we deal with three Dungeon Masters?"

The Master Planner slid a note over to Poot and said, "By playing smarter."

The Master Planner, Step, Icarus, and I threw all the dead bodies down into the basement as Little Boy and Poot took the ladder from the library to the roof and made a bridge over to the next building. The basement crew poured liquor over the bodies and everyone else headed upstairs as I started making a show of praying for the poor, misbegotten bastards we'd put to the sword when Neverwas broke in. "Someone's trying to get in the front door."

When it rains it pours, I said as I lit the basement on fire, and yet there's never a drop to drink.

"What?"

I'm heading up the stairs and to the roof.

"Fine," he said with that snide smile playing across his face again. Then the doors broke. I say broke but really it should be: they blew off the fucking hinges as more than two dozen knights charged into the lobby. "They see you."

Oh thank god, I said as I moved my figure up to the roof, I was afraid that we might not have a deus ex machina moment in this game. Poot pulled up the rope we were using to climb to the roof and we raced across the bridge with our fates in the d20s we tossed into the center of the table.

Everyone made it safe across and Neverwas gave an evil grin as he said, "The knights have made it to the roof."

"Good," Little Boy said, "I'm going to toss my torch onto their roof."

"Okay," Neverwas said as Little E slapped his forehead.

"So are they on fire," Little Boy asked.

"What?"

"He drenched the roof in oil," E said into his hands. "The whole damned thing should be on fire."

"That's fine," Neverwas said with a shrug, "they race across the ladder."

"Excellent," Icarus said. "I kick it off the edge of the roof." Neverwas stared at him as Tweedledum guffawed.

"I think we should end it here," Neverwas said quietly.

"That's fine," Step said, "but first we need to know if all the knights die from the fall."

"Yeah, they die," he said.

So did we level?

Feel like you're missing something?
Part 5: Fire and the Knights

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Questions about Rary and Robilar

I'm looking into Rary and Robilar for an upcoming post and I'm kind of stumped on resources. Does anyone know of some good resources to use for researching the duo?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I'll Set the Bone with Glue and Hate!

I've been a little bit absent from the blog for the last few days because we've been over at my Mom and Dad's place helping out. Dad had knee replacement two weeks ago and there were quite a few projects that needed help. So I came on up and have been helping him out over the weekend and through the remainder of this week. I should have more posts coming later but I just wanted to give everyone a heads up on what's going on right now.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Dynamic Dungeon, Burning Dungeon Masters Out Since 1977



For many Dungeon Masters the Dynamic Dungeon represents the best of both worlds. Monsters begin the dungeon's exploration in set positions like in the Static Dungeon but then they begin to react to the players' actions as in the Ideal Dungeon; only instead of having to account for each individual's actions the Dungeon Master only has to concern herself with the creatures in close proximity to the players. 

This type of dungeon exploration represents a vastly more complex style of play for the Dungeon Master than the Static Dungeon as the amount of things she must account for expands exponentially.  As a result a glut of materials have been produced, both officially and by enthusiasts, to help Dungeon Masters account for everything from crowd mechanics to guides for figuring out what sort of sculptures are in the dungeon. Without exaggeration there are products that have been produced for practically any possible situation you could encounter in the dungeon's exploration and that's where the trouble for this style of dungeon comes in to play.

Consider for a moment that as a Dungeon Master you invest a substantial amount of your free time into making your games better. You draw maps and work on situational responses to your players actions, filling countless spreadsheets and notebooks up with possible resolutions. You read blogs and articles that offer advice and then you come to the table having spent a significantly greater portion of your time preparing for the game than actually playing it. Then you begin run the game and you're flipping through your innumerable resources trying to apply the correct solution to your players' actions. Suddenly the game really isn't all that fun anymore because you've burnt yourself out. Dynamic Dungeons are incredibly fun to explore for players and Dungeon Masters alike as they offer a greater challenge for each; however, there is a real danger in preparing too much for the exploration of these dungeons. So how do you guard against over preparing and burning yourself out?

The simplest answer is that you have to know the difference between necessary information and the superfluous glut of information that can easily overwhelm you. Learning the difference between the two is often accomplished through the difficult process of actual play experiences and thankfully there are a lot of actual play reports floating about online (see Dyvers Actual Play Reports for some examples), but if you don't want to go reading through the vast swath of play reports circulation about then the best advice I can give you is be flexible and don't marry yourself to any guideline, rule, or chart when determining how to run a dungeon. Remember, you're playing this for fun too and if any of those makes it harder for you to enjoy the experience get rid of them.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go take a Sharpie to the grapple rules in my 3.5 Player's Handbook.

Feel like you're missing something?
Part 3: The Dynamic Dungeon, Burning Dungeon Masters Out Since 1977

[NSFW] Friday Artfest: Gurls! Sex! by R. Crumb

Gurls! Sex! by Robert Crumb
R. Crumb is one of those controversial artists that people either love or love to hate. Personally I love his artwork. This piece in particular features a lot of the things that make me such a fan. His line work is incredible and his ability to simulate various fabrics and colors of flesh just amazes me. Then when you look at the outlines of each woman's body they have this amazing strength to them that creates this sexual power that radiates off the page. Yet even in a strong piece such as this you can see the weakness of Crumb's art. The black woman's hand looks like it's malformed. The blonde woman has the stereotypically small head and the black woman speaks with a borderline offensive style of speech.

For Crumb's critics the overt sexuality of his women overcomes any appreciation for his artistic ability. That is a pity, because not only does Crumb have some of the best line work I've ever seen but the ease with which he pulls off satire and social commentary are unparalleled. If you'd like to find more of Crumb's work I highly recommend The Complete Crumb collections. In particular the first three Volumes are outstanding  (with Vol. 3 staring Fritz the Cat) and the ZAP Comics Collection is really worth picking up (even if they're very expensive).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Static Dungeon Is the Same, Is the Same, Is the Same . . .


In the beginning we all play with Static Dungeons where the orc in 5A is waiting for us with his treasure chest so that we can pick up 20,000 copper pieces and swim in them like the dungeon exploring Scrooge McDucks we all secretly want to be. Then we get a few dungeons under our belt and suddenly the Static Dungeon becomes a problem filled with Quantum Ogres and that derisive shake of the head from the veteran players as the new kids continue to wade in the shallow end of the pool.

We're shamed away from the simplicity of the Static Dungeon and what happens to so many of us is that we trade the simple pleasure of the Static Dungeon for the complexity and added difficulty of the Dynamic Dungeon. As Dungeon Masters we increase our workload by taking into account the way that sound reverberates in the dungeon or the restlessness of 30 orcs who haven't killed, eaten, or screwed anything in the last four hours. Yet this trade-off begs a question: in increasing the difficulty of the game have we increased the amount of fun we're having?

With the Static Dungeon a lot of the more complex problems that a Dungeon Master encounters are eliminated. The dungeon is stocked ahead of time with treasures, traps, and monsters; only unlike the Dynamic Dungeon, they all stay put. You don't have to pull out a compass and determine if the orcs in 6B can hear the players talking as the walk up hallway 6Q, and if so, how do they react. 6B will be a battle because that's where the orcs are.

Essentially the biggest benefit to running a Static Dungeon is that it allows the Dungeon Master to focus her attention on what the players are actually doing and not on trying to juggle the reactions of her monsters and the motivations of the various factions playing for power within the dungeon (which can be a lot of fun if done correctly). Instead her monsters react to the players in predictable patterns often ascribed in the modules she's running and all the Dungeon Master has to do is follow along. By simplifying the Dungeon Master's responsibilities it allows her to focus on the fun aspects of running and not on the bookkeeping and added complexity that often comes along with the Dynamic Dungeon.

I can't honestly tell you that running a Static Dungeon will be more fun than a Dynamic Dungeon, or attempting to run the Ideal Dungeon; but I can tell you that if adding complexity to the game takes you away from the fun aspects then simplifying your game is the answer. Yes being simpler does mean that running the game is easier, but that doesn't mean you aren't having a good time. 

Now if you'll excuse me, there's a ogre in next room guarding a big ass treasure chest and I forgot to take my money bath this morning. 


Feel like you're missing something?
Part 2: The Static Dungeon Is the Same, Is the Same, Is the Same . . .

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Answering Questions About the Great Blog Roll Call 2015 Edition

Occasionally I get questions about how I write the Great Blog Roll Calls and I wanted to answer some of them out in the open where everyone could see them.

"How many blogs do you actually read 
for the Great Blog Roll Call?"


I haven't added anyone to the list that I haven't read. This year I've got over 400 blogs in the can with nearly fifty of them new to me.

"How many entries of each blog do you read 
before writing their entry?"

In past GBRCs I would read the previous six months of entries in order to make sure that I had a decent grasp on the blog and what the author was attempting to do with it. This year I'm attempting to read the entire year's worth of articles so that I can create more accurate descriptions and provide future readers with good introductions.

"When is the new GBRC going to post?"

I'm shooting for a mid to late January release.

"How do I get added to the list?"

You can either drop me a note here, on one of the older GBRCs, or shoot me an e-mail. If you send an e-mail be sure to title it GREAT BLOG ROLL CALL REQUEST so that I can scoop you out of the junk mail filters.

"When is the cut off to ask to be added?"

The best thing to do is to ask before I publish it so that I can make sure you're on the list. That said, I try to add everyone as quickly as possible though sometimes Blogger is buggy and I think it's updated only to find that it has not (which has happened to me multiple times with the 2014 version).

"Will you be adding buttons and banners for the GBRC 
that we can use for our blogs this year?"

I'm working on them currently.

The Ideal Dungeon is a Lie (and Probably Made of People)



There's an idea in this hobby that comes in and out of vogue every so often that goes like this: the only correct way to run a dungeon is to make it a dynamic environment where the verisimilitude of the world can be maintained. These Ideal Dungeons exist in a world apart from the traditional game. They have markets, food supplies, and all the necessary accouterments that come along with a living, breathing society; essentially existing in a parallel faux-world with our own. The proponents of this ideal dungeon often admit that carrying it through completely can be difficult, but they maintain that it is well within the reach of any Dungeon Master worthy of his title. 

It is my contention that the proponents of Ideal Dungeons haven't successfully put their idea into play as it's complete and total bullshit. Don't get me wrong. I'm not arguing that you can't have markets and the like to help present a hint of reality to your players in the hopes that they'll be more immersed in the illusion of the game. That is not only completely within the realm of possibility but can often be faked with a good chart (see Megadungeon Trades by J.D. Jarvis for more). Yet for the most ardent supporters of the Ideal Dungeon using charts robs the dungeon of its true potential as you've not captured reality and are only presenting a pale and sickly caricature in its place.

Simulating reality is not easy under the best of circumstances and it becomes increasingly difficult when you have to take into account all of the individual variables that come with the Ideal Dungeon. Let me put it to you this way. For the Ideal Dungeon to truly exist each individual creature within the dungeon would have to be named, have a personality, and act according to its needs on their turn; AND the environment would have to adjusted according to the actions of the players and creatures after each acted to reflect the amorphous nature of reality within a living ecosystem.

As a Dungeon Master running the Ideal Dungeon you would have to allow each of the players to act and then have each of the individual creatures within your dungeon act according to their unique wants and desires. Then you would have to adjust the environment accordingly (resources used, grown, and so on). Extending this operation out logically your players would act for one round and then the hundreds (or hundreds of thousands) of creatures populating the dungeon would have to go with each individual acting separately of the whole. In other words your players would have their turn and three months later they would take their next action. 

It's because of the impossibility of the Ideal Dungeon that most Dungeon Masters actually run Dynamic Dungeons, where the creatures react to the players actions, or Static Dungeons, where the creatures are always in their assigned locations. Tomorrow we'll talk more about each of them and their benefits and drawbacks for play.

Feel like you're missing something?
Part 1: The Ideal Dungeon is a Lie (and Probably Made of People)

New Profile Picture

So I've been screwing about for the last few hours with paint.net and it suddenly became a really great fucking idea for me to change my profile picture. I mean, we all know that I'm not a giant, fuck-off bear reading a book so what does it really matter?


Here's the new picture for the profile. I decided that since I'm dovetailing into a bit of post apocalyptic gaming lately that I wanted to go with something that had that feel - at least for the moment. What do you guys think? Should I keep it or should I go back to the bear?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

5 / 439 Down and Other Cryptic Notes

Work on the Super Secret and Incredibly Stupid project continues at a slower pace than I would like but with the sheer volume of things that I'm having to do it's not all that surprising. That said I need a slight break from the monumental project so I'm asking you all to help me out with a much needed distraction.

So tell me what are you guys into right now? What's kicking ass and you're excited to get more of in the coming weeks?

The Blair Witch Project is Bullshit

Nearly fifteen years ago I was sitting in a friend's living room watching the Blair Witch Project. There were ten of us crowded around his big screen tv (his family had the only one that any of us knew of) and the crowd was pretty evenly mixed between the girls and boys. It was supposed to be a scary movie so that crowd should have been a winning combo - except it wasn't. See as the movie starts I'm sitting in between my buddy Phil and this pretty blonde who believes that touching hands is the start down the slippery slope of eternal damnation.

The movie starts and we're greeted with that bullshit introduction proclaiming that this is a "true story." Now at the time we weren't inundated with the concept of false documentaries so this was a major linchpin in building the fear. So the movie is going along and they're in the woods with their gps and trying to find the right direction to go. At this point everything is still in the buildup and we're starting to see those creepy little hanging stick men.


Then one of the boys, I can't remember which, looks right at the sun and says, "We need to go North." And so saying he walks right towards the sun. That was the moment that broke the film for me.

Now I completely understand that there are some people in this world who don't know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west - hell lots of people flip those two all the time. But there are only two possible answers when looking at the sun for which direction you're heading and north isn't one of them! From that moment on every inconsistency (and there are a lot) popped out like a sore thumb and the movie was about as terrifying as petting a puppy.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Trying to Find the Future by Looking Back at You.


Reliving the previous cycles of edition wars and the associated outrages over race, sex, and all the other moral offenses can allow you to weather the current tempests by providing you with the long view on things. "This too shall pass," is a maxim that will cross your mind time and again as you see the latest controversy flare up and sides are taken; but there's a danger in too frequently living in the past. You become dull and repeat the old standards (Gary said . . .) without consideration for the wider implications. Worse still you stagnate.

I think that most of us would do anything to avoid that stagnation and I think that's why so many of us latch onto the most relevant topics of the day, clinging to them like they were a life raft to relevancy. We want to matter and to have people listen to our words of wisdom. We all want to be the blog that people check first thing in the morning and the last one they check in the evening. We want to be thought of as smart and clever so we use our biggest words when we write and pray that no one realizes that we had to look up their meanings before posting that latest article. 

It's easy to naval gaze once you start seeing success and to constantly remind everyone that you broke this important story or that you've written this article that everyone read on reddit. Doing that though is the first step backwards towards becoming the sort of myopic topic of derision so many people make fun of when it comes to this hobby. So how do you remain relevant when you're holding onto the past?

I don't have all the answers, but sometimes I just want to say these things out loud.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Hunting Party, Part 4: Recipe for Disaster



Five turns came before I was up and each brought with it the death of some nameless non-player character. Clearly we were making the most of our surprise round, and now it was time that I pushed our advantage further and permanently took the night for our side. Neverwas had already begun to rally and was making a big show of rummaging through the miniatures bin and pulling out figure after figure, lining them up alongside the battle mat. "You're up," he absently said to me, "not that it's going to do you a lot of good. Who are you attacking?"

Attacking, I innocently asked. I think you've misunderstood this situation. I moved my figure over to the doors and said, I'm talking.

That got his attention and he stopped pulling from the bin to look at me. "Talking?"

Oh yes, I said with a smile.

People, please forgive the haste with which my companions - all righteous men of faith and honor - did dispatch with these foul agents of dark powers. We were lead to this village by the hand of the One, True God to bring back the light to these blighted lands. It was He who drove our footsteps to these doors and brought recognition to our eyes of the evil that stood amongst you and plotted your downfall into the never ending abyss where the sins of your lives would tear at you for all of eternity.

"The One, True God," Neverwas said with a curious look on his face.

I tilted my head, I hear that some of you have never heard the words of Trithereon, the Blessed Light of Righteousness.

"The fuck is he talking about," Neverwas wondered aloud. "Who the fuck is Trithereon?"

I shook my head and looked at each of the Lively-Roberts Clan in turn. Kinsmen it is seems that the stain of evil has reached deep within these lands turning their hearts and minds away from our Lord. Shall I do them the courtesy or should we offer unto Him that which is His?

Looks of puzzlement met me across the table but Poot caught the look in my eye and with a wave of his hand said, "Courtesy is but part of our Lord's many virtues and far be it for a Son of Trithereon to fail to show it."

A nod of my head in thanks and then I said, Our Lord, the One, True God, Trithereon, is the hammer of righteousness wielded against the sinners and usurpers of this world and the many realms of the heavens above and hells below. It was He who told His faithful to cross the lands of man and bring to bear the fury of their Lord against the invading armies of the humanoids, demi-humans, and savage realms. And it is He who now offers all of you the chance at redemption free of your past sins if you but convert now. 

Neverwas stared at me with a slack jaw and seemed to be lost for what to say next. Too bad, I said, the evil that has choked this land is too strong for them to break. I slid a chair under the door handles to keep it from being opened. Pity us Lord, for we must put them all to the sword. 

"What?" Neverwas practically shouted.

Kill 'em all. No one lives. What came after was an orgy of blood carried out in fifteen minutes. The end result was the death of thirty-six patrons, five guests, and all ten members of the staff. When Little Boy had killed the last living soul we began the grim task of piling the bodies in the basement, looting everything, and preparing for our escape unseen by the forces of evil that so clearly surrounded us.

"Time out," Neverwas called. "I need a minute, so let's call a smoke break. Be back here in fifteen minutes."

We rose out of our chairs and managed to make our way outside where I was able to watch Neverwas call Little E and the World's Greatest Liar over. I could only guess what their animated conversation entailed, but I had no doubts that they would soon have him settled down and moving against us again. Step, I called out, can you do me a favor and go get everyone's character sheets. 

"Why," Step asked as he drew a long drag off his Camel menthol. "Something up?"

I'm not sure, but I have a feeling that we need to share notes. 

He took a look inside and nodded, "Yeah, we might just."

As Step went in I turned to everyone else, We need to come up with a game plan because I don't think he's going to let me run that far again

Little Boy laughed, "You think? Jesus Christ, I had no idea where that was going."

Never mind that right now; you guys are going to have to figure out how far you're going to go with me on this fanaticism thing so I know how far I can push Neverwas.

"You were right," Step said as he came outside with the character sheets, "they're in Little E's office trying to figure out how to get back at us for the slaughter. I heard them talking about changing all of our alignments."

"I've got that covered," the Master Planner said as he lit another filterless cigarette. "Everyone just needs to make sure that they've got Trithereon down as their god."

"Why," Icarus asked. "I usually don't pick a god."

"If we're all true believers in the faith then it was a righteous act that can't be viewed as just us killing for the fun of it."

"It's a shield," Little Boy said as he twisted his lip. "fuck why don't we do this more often?"

Because it's hard as fuck all to maintain, I said. I picked Trithereon because I knew there wasn't a lot out there about the guy and that I could mold him to our needs. He's the god of retribution and that's the side of things that I'm playing up. If he tries to call me on it I can always play us off as a splinter church. 

"You've certainly got the crazy down well enough," Poot said with a  laugh.

Had to go dark before he could. 

"Yeah, about that," Icarus said, "how far are you taking this?"

Far as we need it to go, Icarus. 

"Wish we had Biggboy with us," the Master Planner said. "We could really use one more bloody hand to keep him off his game."

Can't help that right now.

"I can push right through anything he throws at us," Step said, "but I'm worried that he's going to try and isolate us."

It's what I would do.

"So how do we keep that from happening," Little Boy asked.

"We've got to ensure that we're always paired up with the right people," the Master Planner answered. "We need to set our marching order so that Icarus is out front, Charlie's in back and Step is in the center. That way our warriors are always near wherever the fucker is going to come at us."

Look, I'm going to multi-class as a cleric when we level. Step do you want to do the same. Two cleric / fighters should be enough to keep the whole group going until we can make him let us bring Biggboy in next session. 

"I'm fine with picking up the extra class," Step said, "but if we're bringing Biggboy in next session do we really need to multi-class?"

"We can't always count on Biggboy showing up," Icarus said. 

"I keep forgetting about that," Step said as we all got quiet thinking about Biggboy. "I'll multi-class too."

"Heads up," Poot said, "Neverwas is coming."

We all turned and watched him push the glass door all the way open. "Enough smoking. Time for you guys to get back at it."

"Bet your ass," Poot said as he threw his cigarette down and led us back in.
Feeling like you're missing something?
Part 1: Careful What You Wish For
Part 4: Recipe for Disaster

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