Monthly Archives: September 2010

New Earth

Gliese 581g is the 6th planet in the Gliese 581 system located in the Libra constellation. Astronomers have determined 581g is neither too hot nor too cold for water to exist in liquid form, it also appears to have an atmosphere and gravity. All of these thing point to the possibility of sustaining life. This leads to two exciting possibilities, first life may have already developed there and second, it could be a possible location for colonization at some point in the future. Unfortunately we will probably not know either of these things for a very very long time. Gliese 581g is 120,000 billion miles away, considering at our current technological level it would take us theoretically 85 years (realistically  more like 50,000 years) to reach our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, a mere 4 light years away, traveling to Gliese 581g is WAY out of our league.

In my book this is pretty exciting stuff. Okay, I have excepted I will never get into space, the Challenger accident ended serious space exploration for a generation, we are only now recovering. However, this has never deterred me from dreaming the dream of every 8 year old boy of someday visiting another planet, I may never get there, but now I know there is a chance some distant decedent will someday walk on Gliese 581g and maybe even call it home.

Edit: I updated the travel times to Alpha Centauri

Finally, a laptop to satisfy PezWitch

The Origins System EON17 laptop is a monster system starting at $2500. It has an i7 processor, 2 NVIDIA 480M video cards in SLI, 24 GB of RAM, Blu-Ray optical drive and three hard drives. My guess is this machine gets about 3 minutes of battery life, but who cares, this thing will laugh at you for playing World of Warcraft and demand you put a worthy game in it.

Sick friends

I just learned Frank Stevens is in the hospital after an emergency amputation of his lower leg, I have no idea the cause of this. Back in the day, we use to goto Franks house and play D&D in his basement. I have not seen him in many many years, but as I remember him, he always had a dirty joke and the offer of a beer ready for anyone visiting his home. He is also the man who got me interested in joining the National Guard, I am not sure it was the wisest choice I ever made, but it certainly had a great effect on my life.

Frank, I wish you well.

The cake is not a lie

Here is what the cake looked like after I finished with it.

I loath being middle aged

We went to Fredericksburg yesterday, just for an afternoon excursion. This morning I am really beat, my right knee and lower back are killing me. I also seem to have some odd muscles aching me in peculiar ways. Normally I am pretty okay with getting older, but only because it is better than the alternative. However, today, with my body being in direct rebellion, I really wish I was 25 again, heck, I’d settle for 35.

Happy Birthday Pezwitch

Today is my Wifes birthday. Evey year I make her a cake, which is practically the only cooking I do beyond the bbq. As you can see from the picture below, some years are more successful than others.

The cake was made with three 9 inch round pans. the first two I baked cake made from a cake mix and spruced up with pudding mix, sour cream and 4 eggs. The third pan I pressed ice cream into. Once the baking was done, I stacked them with the ice cream in the middle and frosted it. Later today I will decorate it with some white frosting and strawberries. For some strange reason PezWitch has been walking around the house all morning mumbling “The cake is a lie.”. I think I should have gotten her a bottle Prozac for her birthday rather than a Kindle.

Oddly quiet week

Nothing of interest is bubbling to the surface of my mind today. Tomorrow is PezWitch’s birthday. I will probably have something to say then.

My Character, Take 2

In my last post I talked about rolling up my next characters, I made the following rolls; 8/21, 12/60, 13/52, 7/63, 11/71, 17/86, and 5/76. I then went on to build a Gnomeling Thief/Cleric. Since then I got to thinking about how I wanted my new character to actually play out. He is basically a thug who prays to an equally thuggish god, neither of whom are particularly enlightened.

In the comments for that post, I said I always hated being ineffective in combat and all a high Wisdom nets me is a few extra spells. I am thinking it might be better to set Wisdom just high enough to get the the two bonus 1st level spells but not high enough for the bonus 2nd and 3rd level spells, which I think is 14. Then up my Strength to 18 to get a +3 to hit and +6 to damage to help increase combat effectiveness. Of course, if you think about it, all I really need is a 9 Wisdom to be Cleric.

The second thing I wanted to look at was weapons. Historically Clerics have a bad choice of weapons, being limited to blunt type weapons. This locks them out of high dice and multi dice damage weapons. Last night I remembered Kenzer & Company listed Frying Pan in their Equipment Guide as a weapon and I remembered it did ridiculous amounts of damage. Sure enough when I looked it up, Frying Pan does battle axe type damage. Of course the book also says it is appropriate for bar room brawls, but no self respecting warrior would ever run around the country side using one as a weapon. My thought was, well, I am neither a warrior nor self respecting, so I should have no trouble using it at all.

I also went with Gnome this time, because Gnomes get slightly more BP. I also took common as my primary language and eliminated Gnome. The saved BP allowed me to take Opportunist, which gives me a bonus 5% to any percentile roll, a huge bonus for any thief. I added Culinary Arts as a skill to help justify the Frying Pan weapon choice. I think this version of the character is going to be far more fun to play than the original.

Here is the new stat block;

Str 18/11, Dex 16/10, Con 12/21, Int 9/21, Wis 14/02, Cha 5/01, Com 3/63
Race Gnome, Class Thief/Cleric, Level 1/1, Alignment Chaotic Neutral, Hit Points 26
Quirks/Flaws – Misguided, Chronic Nightmares, Enmity Towards Assassins
Skills – Common 100%, Religion 30%, Culinary Arts 19%
PP 15% OL 20% FT 15% RT 15% MS 35% HIS 35% DN 45% CW 45% RL 0%
Talents – Ambidextrous, Follow Through Healing, Opportunist
Leather Armor (AC6), Frying Pan x2 (3d4/2d4+1/1d8), Back Pack, Cloak, 27 GP.

My newest character

So this Friday, David is going to run a HackMaster game. We spent some time last game discussing what we wanted to do as a party. I always loved the idea of a theme party, where all the characters have something in common. This was first tried by us back in the early 80′s in a campaign dubbed the Children of the Scar, where we were all siblings. I don’t really remember much about the campaign, the plot was over reaching and the story muddled. Then a couple years ago we tried it again, by building a group of Zealots, which was mildly amusing. So this time around, we decided we should all be thieves, multi-classed with something else. The party is essentially, the boys from the hood. After some discussion, it was decided Scott and Thor would play a Thief/Fighter, Bruce would play a Thief/Magic-User and I would be a Thief/Cleric.

I pulled out my GameScience dice and rolled my stats. I rolled; 8/21, 12/60, 13/52, 7/63, 11/71, 17/86, and 5/76. Since I am playing the Thief/Cleric, I put the two highest rolls on my Wisdom and my Dexterity. Of course I embrace the dump stat and assigned my lowest rolls to Charisma and Comeliness. so my initial assignment was as follows; Strength: 11/71, Dexterity: 13/52, Constitution: 12/60, Intelligence: 8/21, Wisdom: 17/86, Charisma: 5/76 and Comeliness: 7/63. Because I chose to play the Thief/Cleric, I am limited to gnome or gnomeling (Part gnome,part halfling), I choose gnomeling, only because to my knowledge no one had ever played one. The following is the stat block for my newest character.

Str 12/21, Dex 17/02, Con 12/10, Int 9/21, Wis 18/11, Cha 5/01, Com 4/63
Race Gnomeling, Class Thief/Cleric, Level 1/1, Alignment Chaotic Neutral, Hit Points 26
Quirks/Flaws – Misguided, Chronic Nightmares, Enmity Towards Assassins
Skills – Gnomish 100%, Common 19%, Religion 31%
PP 50% OL 25% FT 10% RT 10% MS 30% HIS 30% DN 30% CW 50% RL 0%
Talents – Follow Through Healing, Ambidextrous
Leather Armor (AC5), Club x2 (1d6), BackPack, Cloak, 129 GP.

Review: Points of Light

Product Summery:
Name: Points of Light
Publisher: Goodman Games
Author: Robert Conley
Line: None (Generic)
Cost: $12.99
Pages: 48

Points of Light is a setting, not tied to any particular game system, although it refers to NPC’s as Class/Level, Fighter/5 for instance and monsters are described by Hit Dice. This product is what is best described as a classic sandbox setting. The idea is instead of a linear plot adventure where the characters have a villain, and a goal to obtain, the sandbox game presents the characters with nothing more than a fist full of rumors and the GM develops the plot on the fly as the players decide which rumors to follow up and which adventure to take on. My friend Bruce is the master of this sort of game, while I tend towards the more linear style.

The layout and appearance of the product are good, but not spectacular. The art is nice, again nothing outstanding, but no really bad pieces either. There is an index, but unfortunately I didn’t find it overly helpful. It would be infinitely better had it listed each location by map and hex number.  The big area maps are good and the author made the extra effort of including little maps of significant towns and even a couple of buildings.

Points of Light gives us four areas to play our game in. Each area description starts with a 100×100 mile map, the maps are divided in 5 mile hexes, each hex is numbered for easy reference. Although not every hex has an entry, the way things are mapped out and described, each and every 5 mile hex has potential for the PC’s to get into all sorts of trouble, to the delight of Roll Players everywhere. This very much reminds me of the old Judges Guild Wilderlands campaigns, if you were a fan back in the day, you will appreciate this all the more. Each area has its own flavor and its own set of challenges, to quote the press release;


The fall of the Bright Empire left warring factions in its wake. As savage barbarians and wicked humanoids roam the land, the last bastions of civilization cower behind their crumbling city walls. A dark age has come, and none may live to tell the tale.


On the frontiers of the Great Kingdom, the nations of men, elves and dwarves join together against the wicked elves of Nighportal Keep and the Orcs of the Bloody Fist. A realm is yours for the taking, if you can carve it from the wilderness.


Two factions clash over war-torn fields, battling for dominance in a civil war that that has torn a once-mighty empire in two. When brother strives against brother, and blood runs in the streets, who will emerge to unify the broken land — and at what cost, peace?

The Swamps of Acheron:

In the Outer Planes, amid fetid swamplands and ice-choked mountains, the fell god Sarrath holds court. In a realm where gods stalk the earth, will you dare to take a stand, or will you succumb to evil’s siren song and take up the Serpent Banner?

The only thing that irked me about this, was these areas do not necessarily fit together, which may or may not be a good thing depending on who you are. Someone on another blog, mentioned he thought each map was actually the same area, but at different points in history, with time separating them rather than geography, which I found mildly interesting. I suspect I will be more inclined to use them as different areas in the game world and time period.

The running theme through all the areas is the major political power in the region the Bright Empire has collapsed and two conflicting factions, the followers of Delaquain, the Goddess of Honor and Justice (Chaotic Good) and Sarrath, the God of War and Order (Lawful Evil) are fighting to fill the power vacuum. The other gods mentioned are; Veritas, the God of Truth and Law (Lawful Good), Thoth, the God of Knowledge and Wisdom (Neutral), Azeel, the blood god (Chaotic Evil) and Hathor, Delaquain’s mother (??). However none of the others are as significant as the first two. Plenty enough to keep Role Players interested in the religious and political intrigue of the setting.

Overall, this is an excellent product and in this day and age of $50 books, for $12.99 this is a bargain as well. There are a couple of minor issues, but no show stoppers. If you are looking for a nice setting built specifically for an open ended campaign, this product is for you. If you are the sort of GM who needs a hard bound book and multiple supplements for your campaign setting, you should avoid this product.

Summery (Scale of 1-5):
Appearance and Layout: 3
Game Mechanic: N/A
Setting: 5
Overall: 4