Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Glory Days


This is a response to Sameoldji’s video about the darkside of tabletop role playing games, no not people worshipping Satan or sacrificing hamsters to Cthulhu but the dawning realization that many of us spend far more time buying and reading and kabitzing about tabletop rpgs than we ever do actually playing them.
Well, full disclosure, I have gone over to the dark side. My life has been stop and go with tabletop games since the very beginning and my last big spurt of activity began circa 2000 and ended with the release of D&D 4.0. I looked. I saw. I sniffed. The system stank. And that was it for me.
D&D 5.0 came out and looked a bit better but my life had changed. Free time is expensive and as an adult it is impossible to not feel pressured to justify every expenditure of it. The reason you are reading a written response and not watching a video response is because I can pound one of these out in less than half an hour. A proper video takes at least an hour to film and prepare, even when it’s only a few minutes long.
Every second counts.
Every minute is expensive.
Would I like to play again? You bet! But is it worth carving up my life and rearranging it to somehow shoehorn in a weekly game, which will inevitably be Dungeons & Dragons because that is all anyone can seem to agree on these days and which will also reveal itself to be yet another round of the same old game we’ve always been playing?

No, not really.
This is actually a major driving force behind the Red EFT. It is not just me hammering out my dream system to show the world what a tabletop RPG can be. It is also me trying to find a way back into gaming, a way to justify the expenditure by calling it work. Yes, I do have to do this - it’s my job. Wouldn’t that be a nice thing to say about your next game? My plan probably won’t work, but I have never been one to let an absolute certainty of failure stop me before. Sad. Sameoldji uses that word over and over in his video to describe the situation. He uses it so much it almost sounds like a dramatic recitation of Donald Trumps twitter feed. I disagree, because to me the word sad implies pathos. It is a way of calling someone pathetic without being blunt. I think a better word is regrettable. It’s not actually wrong but it certainly isn’t right either. In my comment on it I compared it to the song Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen and said that for many of us this is what our relation to gaming has become.




When I go online at night to see what’s on Google+ or YouTube (my two main sources for all things gaming) this is my replacement for heading down to the local bar to drink a few rounds with the townies and talk about whatever we might have in common. And it is not a sad replacement. It is a good replacement, because I was born left-handed and forced to be right-handed which carried with it the unintended consequence of causing me to stink at anything which involved throwing or catching a ball. I was actually quite athletic as a kid, just so long as it didn’t involve anything with the word Ball in it. Baseball. Basketball. Football. I don’t have anything interesting to say about them and I dread being stuck talking to someone who does, so there really is no place for me in your average sports bar.

Dodgeball.

Strangely enough, I was actually pretty good at Dodgeball but I’m not sure if that counts.
Now, when Glenn Hallstrom does a review of an old RPG I once played - that peaks my interest. I don’t know Glenn, have never met him. We probably live a thousand miles apart, but when he posts a video and I write to him about it and he does an After Hours video in response. It feels as if I know him. It feels like we’re old friends sitting at the same bar chit-chatting about whatever as Ivan Mike serves us up drinks.
It’s not an empty bar either.
Runeslinger is not too far away, half-watching Star Wars on the TV screen. Tim Harper is throwing darts with Nolinquisitor. Mark Abrams and Asif are at a back table discussing what needs to be done to make the world right again. Venger Satanis is racking up another high score on the pinball machine, standing like a man who once had a hot girl hanging off of each arm but now has a wife and kids waiting for him back at the house. Shawn Driscoll is hogging the Traveller machine. Again. Dr. Pulsipher is in the corner booth practicing his monologs for class. It's a bit dry but not uninteresting. Every now and then Zak Sabbath blows through with a horde of SJWs on his heels. Personally, I think he loves the attention. James West, Jens D, Megan Burke and a whole bunch of others are scattered about. It’s actually a pretty populous place. So is it really so wrong?
This is not to imply that these people are not active gamers. It could very well be that I am the only one among them. It is meant to say that there is more to the matter of role playing games than simply playing the games. Eventually everyone needs to sit down and play a game. There is no substitute for actual experience, but playing the games is not the end-all and be-all of gaming.

I’m not a big Bruce Springsteen fan and Glory Days is not my favorite song. I think it's a little too up-beat for its subject matter. Yet it does end in an interesting way. Nothing overly dramatic, just a guy pitching balls at a plank in an empty field. Eventually, his kid shows up to knock one into the outfield, not too far behind him is mom and the station wagon ready to drive them both home. You can’t help but feel a bit sorry for the guy because we all know there is no going back. The guys he used to play ball with have all grown up and are no longer in any shape to play ball even if they could find the time to do so. This guy is stuck. His glory days truly have passed him by. And that is where table top role playing games have the edge over high school sports. No matter what age you are at you can find a way back. You may not be able to pull off one of the weekend-long marathon adventures of your youth, but these games can still be played to great effect. As time goes by it only gets harder to pull one together, but there is always hope.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Save Vs Gravity

Yesterday, I fell off the roof.
It hurt.
Holy fuck did it hurt.
I haven’t felt pain like that in years.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when my sister’s family came for a visit. My brother-in-law (and don’t these stories always seem to start with a brother-in-law somewhere) was watching a football game and remarked about how bad the picture was. I don’t watch TV much and when I do I usually watch Hulu or Netflix, but Scott was right. The signal was as scrappy as a youtube video from a decade ago. The commercials in between the game were fine but the feed of the game itself were so pixellated you couldn’t make out the score.

And it was on all the channels.

So I decided to cut the cable and give Comcast the boot. I looked around and ended up buying a Mohu Sky 60 Outdoor HDTV Antenna. It has a beautiful picture and if you can get by with PBS and Network TV I can’t recommend it enough. However, you will have to go up on the roof to install it.

In a way, I should have seen the fall coming. Premonition alarms had been going off all over the place. The day before yesterday I had written the Politics of Pricing blog post which prominently features a guy falling through the air, a screen grab from the New Order video Bizarre Love Triangle which is filled with people in suits flying through the air as if they had just flung themselves off a skyscraper, a video I had playing on a loop in the background while writing the post.

While tacking up the cable I even paused to look over the edge of the roof and wonder how much damage I would take if I were to - I don’t know - suddenly and inexplicably somersault over the edge of it. In the Red EFT this calls for a Save Vs Gravity. You take 1 hp of damage per foot fallen, in this case 10 to 12 feet, which is then ameliorated by a Body check. Fail and you take full damage. A terrible fail does double damage. A critical fail does triple. Succeed and you take less. Damage type is determined by what you land on. In my case, the ladder itself, which I think qualifies as blunt damage.

I even remember scoffing at the Mohu instruction manual with its warnings to never work alone and to always have someone holding the ladder you are working on. I’ve been up and down off the roof countless times.

Silly manual, I know exactly what I’m doing….

What eventually got the better of me was an aging plastic rain gutter the ladder had been propped up against. No problem going up, but on a trip down the plastic cracked. It was just enough to upset the footing of the ladder and send it flying out from under me. I went down, caught the edge of roof with my rib cage, flipped over backwards and plummeted. My butt hit the deck hard enough to crack a plank in it like a karate master.

First came shock. Surprise from the simple notion that I had done something as stupid as fallen off the roof. Quick on its coattails was an immense wave of pain and swearing, enough swearing that in an earlier age I would have landed myself on Santa’s naughty list for at least a decade. Finally, I started to grab around, check all the parts which were hurting (pretty much everything), and then laughed, happy to find nothing broken. Bruised all to fucking hell, ripped to shit (this is Florida, I was wearing shorts), but nothing broken. Thank God.

I wandered inside for some iodine and bandages, then wandered back outside to finish the job. Which is why I am actually writing this post. In role playing games there has been an endless debate over the after effects of damage. Usually, it comes down to one of two methods. The first is the Gygaxian method where you simply ignore it until that last hit point is gone and you die. The other is a more modern method where taking damage causes your character to take performance hits until you curl up and die. Normally I would say that the latter is the more realistic and that the Gygaxian method is just a necessary evil of a table-top game. In retrospect? Neither works.

Granted there was a period in which I was stunned by the damage (something that I don’t ever recall happening in an RPG), but after that wore off I found myself swept up by a surge of adrenaline and endorphins which would last for the rest of the afternoon. Instead of a performance hit, my character should have taken a performance boost. I found myself unable to cool down. After patching myself up, I immediately went back out, put up the ladder in a safer location, and finished the installation. When that was over I was still spinning like top so I took the dog out for a nice long walk, even though the bruises on my legs were turning as purple as plums.

It wasn’t until later in the evening that a certain stiffness would begin to set in. Now, at 7 on a Sunday morning, I am as rigid as a board. Typing is tough and it takes the help of my right hand to bend the fingers of my left hand into the middle finger I would gladly give to Comcast if they could see such things. Now my character would experience a performance hit.

So, to a degree, I have to side with the Gygaxian method. Our bodies instinctively see any damage taken as a threat to its existence and will respond with whatever it takes to make sure we continue to survive.

Of course, it could also be that I didn’t take enough damage. If I had broken a leg in that fall and sat up to find a femur sticking out of my leg, spurting blood like a fountain? Yeah, fuck that. I would have called it a day.

Then there is also the mechanics. How do you quantify all of this without unbalancing the rest of the system? How do you figure out when that moment of excitement ends and the stiffness begins? How much of a penalty should be taken? And is this even worth all the overhead in game time it would take to implement such details at the table? After all, it was just a simple fall, barely a footnote in most adventures.  In the end, I have to side with the Gygaxian method. If not for the reality of it all then for the convenience.

I wonder if Gary ever fell off a roof?



Fuck Comcast.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Politics of Pricing

Recently, I have been watching Dr. Lewis Pulsipher's videos on how to price downloadable digital content. And no I did not throw myself off a bridge right afterwards.

Tempted, but no. . . .

I’m more about books than video games, but this did push me to think about the never-ending headache which is the matter of figuring out what to ask for what you create. Striking the right balance is no easy feat. Too far to the cheap side and people will dismiss it as crap. Too far to the expense and they will laugh in your face. The margin seems to be growing thinner every day. Like a tightrope walk across a razor wire, you have to wonder what will happen when the two sides eventually cross and the price which once was too cheap becomes too expensive.

Enjoy the freefall.






A TALE OF TWO PRICES

It seems to me that when it comes to prices every product has two of them, a Value Price and a Buying Price.

The value price is a static price. It is the most anyone could be expected to pay for an item. Its real purpose is to give an impression of worth. The prices printed on dust jackets are value prices.

The buying price is a flexible one. It is set by the economic climate and the state of a product’s lifespan. The .99 cent sticker slapped on the dust jacket of a book relegated to the remainders table? That is a buying price and a miserable one at that.

The problem with the internet is that it runs like a vending machine. You post your book for sale, set the price, and only occasionally check in to see how it is doing. In many ways, this set and forget method is a good thing. You can sell stuff without having to be present to make the transaction. You can also be passed over by millions and left clueless as to why, which is what I think instigates the notorious race to the bottom.

My book isn’t selling. It must be that the price is too high. 
I’ll drop it down as low as it can go and make up for the loss with bulk sales.

Bulk sales which never come because your internet price is both a value and a buy price. At $0.99 cents you have relegated it to the trash bin. Unless people know that your book should retail at $14.95 they’re not going to be excited to find it for $0.99 cents.

Maybe this is why coupons and special promotions are so important. They allow you to maintain the appearance of value while enticing people to buy at a reduced price. Which would you rather buy? A book that normally sells for $14.95 but today can be had for $4.95. Or a book that always seems to sell for $0.99?

BE HONEST NOT MODEST

Publishing has a lot in common with fishing. To be a good fisherman you have to go where you know the fish hang out. You have to offer them something which resembles what they normally eat. You let them nibble the bait a bit before setting the hook. Then you drag your reader into the boat, skin and gut ‘em and fry them up for dinner.

Kidding!

Although this also shows where the parallel stops. A fish you only catch once. A reader you want to catch over and over and over again and have them happy to come back for more.

Personally, I think you should write for yourself and then your friends, and maybe if it makes sense you should sand off one or two rough edges to make your work more palatable to that big effluvial mess known as the market. At least that way you will never disappoint those who matter most. Ultimately though, you do have to go to the market, see what is for sale and decide where you want your book to sit. If you notice that most of the ebooks you love and respect are priced between $8 and $12. That is where you want to be.

But my book isn’t worth $8. It’s not good enough. 
I would pay $2.99 for it, but that’s about it.

Then why are you publishing it? It’s obviously not done yet. Is it a stinky cover? Get a new one. Is it unpolished writing? Do another rewrite. If the whole thing simply sucks then consider it practice. Push it aside. Do not publish it. If you can come back to it later and build it up to something worth publishing then do so. Otherwise, you are doing yourself a favor by leaving it behind.

Modesty is a good thing. It keeps people from coming across like self-aggrandizing jerks. But it can also be creatively stifling. Overly modest people often start to believe the effacing they do to themselves, that their place in the world is beneath greater people. They repeat this belief until they conform to it and ultimately are left with a low level of being with no way out. It is just as much a trap as bragging way above and beyond the obvious.

Modest or immodest? I think the most important thing is remain honest. When it comes to the end point of publication I think writers need to step away from themselves, forget all the work they have done or what they may be asking themselves to continue doing and just look at the work objectively. See it as someone who just came across it on the internet.

Honestly, how much does it seem to be worth?

And what could be done to make it worth more? As in those aspects you can control. Waving a magic wand and turning yourself into Stephen King doesn’t count.



NO SILVER BULLETS

It is also good to realize that there is no silver bullet price, no point where you can price your work and make automatic sales. The sale will come down to how good your work seems when first encountered. Continued success relies on how good it actually is. We may want the internet to change this but it never will. Even with kickstarters which sell promises instead of product, failure to deliver will eventually come back to kick the kickstarter in the butt. It's just a matter of time.

The world is a very unfair place. Established authors will continue to fart on paper and have it sell millions while unrecognized geniuses panhandle the interstate exits. But anyone who looks back at their grand failures to realize that they tried hard and what they created did deserve to succeed. They will at least find contentment, if not continued hope for the future. The author who looks back to find a bunch of half-baked works with ugly covers and reams of scrappy typo-ridden pages, all priced to sell at bottom of the barrel prices?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Murdering your Dungeon Darlings

If you haven't picked up on this already, god knows I seem to sound off on it endlessly (at least to myself) I FUCKING HATE WORD LIMITS. It doesn't matter if this is "tell a story in 500 words or less" or "your story must be 2,000 words maximum" or "let's write a one page dungeon."

IT IS A STUPID GOAL TO SHOOT FOR.

And yes that is me shouting at you like a crazed subway lunatic with a drippy six-inch meatball parmesan.

Yet, at the same time, I will admit that there is no glory in splatting down words for words sake. Whatever you write, you should use as many words as you need to evoke an idea, not a word more and not a word less. As James V West pointed out, Isle of the Lizard God and The Shattered Temple are absolutely fantastic one page dungeons. They are the placemats you will find lying in wait for you under the greatest Grand Slam breakfast in Valhalla. But, if you were to play them with your friends and do it right if not rules as written you still would find yourself flipping through a bunch of books and spending valuable in-game time doing all those things that a normal adventure module should have already done for you. Both would only be improved by a few more pages of the stuff they might force me to waste time looking up.

Adventure modules are not novels. You can curl up with them for a good long read on a cold winter's night, but they are actually reference materials, things you glance at during a game. I like mine with big fat margins providing a lot of white space I can write notes in. Yes. Fat margined modules make the rocking world go round! The fewer long passages of text they contain the better they generally run. At the same time, a good adventure module should also have some substance to it. It should be there to help you create a sense of place, maybe even help you describe that dangerous corner of the world with a few florid words in (heaven’s forbid!) a text box.

If this can be done on one sheet of paper then more power to you. Otherwise, paper is cheap. Give that adventure what it needs to breathe. Murdering your darlings for the false god of appeasing the stunted attention span of the internet is just going to cause beautiful dead babies to pile up at your feet.

And nobody wants to see that.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Like Some Acknowledgement?


I look at other games, often catch something I don't like and wail, "oh my god why did you do that!!!" Sometimes I even go so far as to write the author about it (which they absolutely loooooove, not) but of course - duh - it's hard to change a game system after it has been dressed up and shipped out the door.

Well, here is your chance to wail at me for making the stupid mistakes I make - before - the game has passed the point of no return. I need some feedback. The link below leads to a zip file containing the white pages of the system books as well as a few scans of some sample characters. Take a look. Tell me what you think, and I will put your name in the acknowledgments section once it is published.

Red EFT RPG White Pages

And if you don't want to be acknowledged but still want to tell me what you think. That's fine too. My email address can be found at the top of each PDF. Just be sure to include the phrase Red EFT in the message title so I can keep track of it.

So, what is the Red EFT RPG?
This is the latest and hopefully - last - incarnation of a game I have been designing, destroying and rebuilding since the early 90's. I would call it a medium-weight universal rpg. Something a bit more involved than Risus or the Black Hack but not nearly as big and cumbersome as Pathfinder or D&D. As a kid I got my start with Moldvay's B/X D&D and that has always struck me as the perfect amount of heft a game should have. Although the Red EFT is using something called "Fantasy Sandbox" as its starter kit and is very D&D inspired, it is not strictly a fantasy game. I chose that direction simply because it seemed easy and familiar. My actual goal is a bit more ambitious.

Your Actual Goal?
Yes. Total Global World Domination.
Just kidding.
Global World Domination would be redundant.
Since the late 90's I have been working on a way to create a computer program which would allow people to build and share their work online. The game would be developed over the internet but played in the traditional table top fashion. It started off as a windows app that used FTP with angelfire accounts and has since grown over a number of iterations to become a PHP/JQuery driven web-app.

The problem I've been running into all these years (and have been too deep into to realize) is that I have been spending far too much time developing the site and not enough fine-tuning the game. Every time I would make a change to the system it would take about four times as much time to update the site to match it. This created a Sisyphus style situation where whenever I would get near completion I would look at the system, discover a bunch of core changes which needed to be made and that rock would roll me back to zero.

About two years ago this happened again, but this time PHP was to blame. PHP 7 changed the way it accesses databases. It was a small change but one that would mean rewriting hundreds if not thousands of pages of code. I almost canned it right there, but I decided I would rebuild the site and system one last time. This time, however, I would make a critical change. I decided to push the site aside and work at hammering down the game in its entirety before redesigning the site.

Now? Maybe the game is not completely hammered down but it is pretty damn close, about as close as I have the time to make it. I have a different website which I have been reprogramming and will be ready to fly in February. After that release I am hoping to gut it down to a platform that I can use to build the new Red EFT site on top of, as well as that site redesign. Which means I also need those rules ready to go.

So this is it. I am getting too old to spend so much time designing tabletop RPG systems. There will not be another one, so tell me what you think about it or forever hold your peace.

And Happy New Year!



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

On Escapism



I was a problem daydreamer as a child. Teachers would tell my parents, “he’s a smart boy but his mind is always off elsewhere. He doesn’t pay attention in class.” I have no idea what my parents would say. They were probably off drifting themselves, looking out the window of the classroom, thinking about sailing on the Hudson. You might even be able to snap your fingers before their face to elicit a, “huh? What? Where were we?”

The nuts rarely fall far from the trees.

One thing nobody ever did was stop and bother to ask me what I was daydreaming about or - more importantly - why I was daydreaming.

What I daydreamed about was myriad. I dreamt about the typical things: flying through the asteroid belt blasting space aliens, skiing away from James Bond villians, but I also spent time quietly pondering bigger subjects. Where were we before we were born? What happens after we die? Where did the old gods go? How long can my toenails grow if I stop cutting them? And what kind of a jerk was Einstein for positing the idea that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Didn’t he realize just how hard that was going to make it for me to travel to alien worlds? I so wanted to give that old guy a wedgie.

I also daydreamed about more mundane things. We moved around a lot when I was young. Back in the 70’s & 80’s you might write a letter or two to your old pals in another town but gone was gone. Phone calls were expensive and awkward. It was far easier to conjure them up in your imagination and somehow know how they would act and react to all that was going on. I may not be a great fiction writer, but I am sure that key to understanding how the fiction I have written actually manages to work is this. I know how to daydream. Early on I learned how to conjure up old friends and see the world through eyes which were not my own.

Time Optimized


Why I was daydreaming is a different matter. From an adult’s perspective I was wasting time. Once you are out of school it is easy to look back on that time - which seemed unfathomably long when you were in it but ridiculously short once out - and see it as a time that should be spent learning and preparing for life. Obedience equals success. A child who does not learn to jump through all the hoops that society places before them will eventually end up a circus carney with three wives in four states and a rotten case of meth mouth.

Well. Speaking on behalf of the fourth grader I once was - don’t be a doodie head - I was not wasting time. I was optimizing it. When you daydream you are awake, alive, thinking about the things that concern you most. Especially as a child, you are doing what you can to milk the most out of every waking moment. Remember how hard it was to stop thinking when you were that age? My mind was a top that spun non-stop. I know this because once - around 4th or 5th grade - I sat in my bedroom and performed an experiment. I wanted to see just how long I could go without thinking anything.

“Okay, don’t think of anything.”

“Alright, I’m not thinking anything.”

“Nosiree bob. Nothinng at all is going through my minnnnnnnnndddddd.”

“Okay. I’m thinking of something. I’m thinking about how I don’t want to think of anything. So shut up and stop thinking. Do it! Total shut down of all cognitive functions in 5. 4. 3. 2. 1…”

“Do rockets launch at 1 or at zero?”

“Stop it, already! Damn it! Your thinking again!”

“Okay, no thoughts whatsoever, starting NOW!”

“Hmmmmmmmmm.”

“No that doesn’t count. You can’t make humming noises either.”

“I want nothing. Total silence, right now-”












-SNAP-

“Owe! Fuck! That hurt!”

Yes. I am totally serious. I remember trying not to think of anything and having something like an electric whip crack shoot through my brain from ear to ear. It physically hurt. And of course it released the backup of babbling thoughts that normally coursed through my mind. I also used the f-word even though I was supposed to be too young to know it. What can I say, I was a quick learner.

Now? At forty five? I wish my brain operated that way. Nowadays it goes blank on the drop of a hat. Somehow, back as a child, I knew that the excitement and energy of the moment was not to be wasted, that someday I would grow up to become an adult, one of those ricketty wrinkly creatures whose lives did not look like much fun at all. From this point of view, my time was being wasted when it was spent learning how to do square roots by hand. And honestly, when was the last time you used a sine or a cosine in daily life? Once and only once, outside of high school, I found myself using a cube root. Ironically enough, it was for a role playing game which used a computer program to help calculate creature height from an approximation of mass. Even then, I didn’t perform the calculations behind the cube root. I just figured out that one was needed and the computer did the rest.

Necessary Escapes


Which brings me to the matter of Escapism. It’s a tricky subject because the sad truth is that my teachers were right. With the exception of the guys in suits standing at the very top of the social ladder, people are rewarded for their obedience. Success in the adult world depends on the ability to go day after day to some mind-grinding job and do anything which is asked of them whether they like it or not. Those who do not conform to this reality usually end up pan-handling highway interstate exits (sorry kids, not everyone can grow up to be a circus carney). Of course, conforming to society’s desires doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t end up panhandling interstate exits either, but that is another topic for another time.

People need to escape. They need to spend their time in a way that makes sense to their inner selves. We call it wasting time but only as an appeal to social norms. In its own way, admitting that wasted time is actually being wasted is a groveling show of conformity to the grand design of social subjugation. It says, “yes I agree. I need to make some money to stay afloat and that is all that really matters, but the truth is my job sucks just as much as your job sucks and I need to have some fun or I am not sure if I will be able to continue performing my sucky job.”

So in its own way, escapism is a good thing. It helps society by empowering our own necessary conformity. Yet too much of it can be destructive and the world is filled with companies of people whose mind-grinding job is to provide it, often feeding like parasites off of the unhappiness of others. Actually, many of them are even worse than parasites since they don’t care if they kill their hosts or not. For the makers of malt liquor and mmorpgs it’s all the same game. Get as much money as you can out of as many people as you can and if you happen to destroy someone’s life along the way there will always be some other sucker coming down the pike to take that sucker’s place.

And that is why I support table top role playing games. Granted they are not completely off the hook. I think they often cost too much, move too slowly, can be cloyingly uncreative and make too many demands on the people who play them, but - solo modules be damned - you cannot play a tabletop RPG on your own. You cannot play them at work. You cannot play them on your cellphone. You have to actually gather with your friends and be social to make one work. You can, however, dream about them in the meantime. Which is as good a way as any to weather yet another boring board meeting that will ultimately add up to nothing.

Time should never be wasted. It should be spent wisely to get the most enjoyment out of life that one can possibly get, and if this means doing a little daydreaming while the man has you stuck doing something dull, boring or mind-numbingly mundane - then so much the better.

BTW, this post was inspired by two other talented daydreamers Jens D and VB Wyrde. Check them out sometime.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hobgoblins!

I've been having a lot of fun writing up monster descriptions. Here's what I did for the hobgoblin, modelled after a gym teacher I used to have....

Hobgoblin

Size Large 1.5.
Action 2d6. Body 1d8. AC 12/9. HP 21. Stun 14. PP 8.
Speed: Walk 3.
Attacks 2d8, MP +1, Snap -1:
     Battle Axe, Reach 2, Sharp 1d8+1, Parry -1, Snap -1.
     Morning Star, Reach 2, Sharp 1d8, Snap -1, Parry -1.
     Bullwhip, Reach 6, Impact 1d6, Flexible, Snap -2, Grab.
     Halberd, Reach 4, Sharp 1d12, Snap -3, 2hds.
     Punch, Reach 1, Blunt 1d4+1, 2nd. 
Advantages: Infravision +1d. Hard As Nails +3d.
Inclination: Violent Evil.
Traits: Angry. Brutal. Callous. Optimistic. Thick.
Environment: Plains. Hills. Underground. Mountains. Forest. Urban.
No. Appearing: 1d6.

Rare Subhumanoid. Hobgoblins are of absolutely no relation to goblins. Or at least that is what most goblins would like to have the world to believe, despite the fact that the average hobgoblin markedly resembles a giant somewhat obese goblin with pebbly green skin and more chin than forehead.

Hobgoblins do not share in the goblin's tendency towards sour detachment and snide pessimism. Strangely enough, hobgoblins tend to rank high among the world's natural optimists. Hobgoblin philosophy believes that there is no one who cannot be positively motivated by the crack of a bullwhip across their shoulders. There is no problem which cannot be solved by hacking away at it with a nasty looking chunk of metal. Many would consider this to be a brutally simplistic outlook on life. Hobgoblins often answer such criticism by mounting their critics severed heads on their halberds.

Hobgoblins are also notable for having an incredibly dull sense of touch, which may be key to understanding the inherit brutality of the species. The slice of a knife or the touch of a hot coal merely stings them, so they lack the general sympathy which might otherwise lead them to understand why non-hobgoblins do not enjoy regular beatings. This especially extends to elves who they despise for their extreme delicateness and sensitivity to all things.


The Hobgoblin view on life is quite simple. The world has grown soft and weak and hobgoblins exist to toughen it up, largely by beating it to a pulp, and there is nothing they enjoy more.