Wednesday 5 June 2024

We need to talk.

 I've known people whose lives were destroyed because someone lied about them. Some of them lost everything and recovered. Some of them died. 

When you live in Ukraine after 2014, that's how it is - you see propaganda directed straight against you, you learn that a bomb exploded at the apartment of someone that you know, you talk to people and you see hungry monsters in their eyes when they repeat the lies you've heard many times before. 

And Ukraine doesn't have the monopoly on being lied about. 

So I need to say something. 

And again, here are the links. 

Article interviewing people who lied about Zak, and admitted it.

Audio recordings from that same article.

I'm so tired of this shit after ten years. Ten years of watching people mindlessly repeating the worst possible lies.

Monday 27 May 2024

So Mike Mearls.

As you probably know, Mike Mearls used to work on D&D. 

Now Chaosium decided to hire him. 

And people who lied about Mearls when he worked on D&D, and never stopped lying, are now putting extra effort into telling lies. 

Specifically, there's a completely made up story about Mearls "giving Zak S a list of people to harass". 

How can we know that it's completely made up? 

Because people who spread it admitted that they lied. 

Here's the archived article where the liars admit that they lied.

Here's the audio recording of them doing it. 

Interview Audio Clips from "The Worst People You Have Never Met"

Here's Olivia Hill admitting that yes, the interviews happened and she talked to the author of the article. 

Here's Patrick Stuart doing the same. 

My point is, if you see someone claiming that Mearls and Zak harassed someone, or Mearls helped Zak by giving him the imaginary "list", or something along the line - these people are either honestly mistaken or lying. 

If you see someone claiming that "they know it for a fact", these people are definitely lying, because you cannot know something that did not happen for a fact. 

And if you see it, please help the people who are mistaken to see their mistakes, and please address the lies so that other people are not duped into believing the liars. 

Thank you. 

Friday 26 April 2024

Answering Jeff Rients's twenty questions for our Krynn game

We're still stuck in Spidernesti, so this is what I mean when talking about "land".  

What is the deal with my cleric's religion?

Kiri-Jolith is a good god of war. Kind of Athena, only male and without an owl, I suppose? Sounds kind of lame in comparison, frankly.  

Where can we go to buy standard equipment?

The economy is currently in ruins thanks to the whole land being cursed. Maybe the local elves have some stuff they can sell you.  

Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?

Your friends has helped to rescue Theros the blacksmith several weeks ago. He'd probably be grateful enough to make something like that for you, if you can find him - he was last seen in Qualinesti.

Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?

King Lorac, trained and tested by the masters of High Sorcery. He's also, unfortunately, quite mad.

Who is the greatest warrior in the land?

Besides your lost friends? Probably one of the captive elves at the weapons factory. 

Who is the richest person in the land?

King Lorac, again. 

Where can we go to get some magical healing?

Your fellow cleric.  

Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?

Considering the current political and clerical situation on the continent, your best bet would be to swear loyalty to Takhisis. Her priests can do that.

Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?

As a matter of fact, yes - the Red Robes at their Towers of High Sorcery. Technically, there's just one tower where they currently gather, the other four were either destroyed or cursed. 

Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

 The Tower of Depressed Spiders. 

Where can I hire mercenaries?

The weapons factory (if you free them from the spider slavers).  

Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?

Your religion is outlawed in a large part of Ansalon. Also, kenders are outlawed in some barbaric cities. 

 Which way to the nearest tavern?

 There's a canteen at the factory, probably.  

 What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

Currently, it's the dragonarmies. Good luck.  

Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?

I believe we've cleared this by now.  

How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

Minotaurs control some sea-side towns. They love this kind of entertainment.   

Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

 I cannot tell you. It's a secret. 

What is there to eat around here?

Roasted goblins are said to be amazingly succulent and filling.  

Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?

Besides the ones you already found, yes. An unbroken Dragonlance is one of those things.  

Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?

Right behind you. 

Friday 19 April 2024

The ancient kingdom of Spidernesti

 "The House of Stars became the House of Spiders". 

That's the line from Tanis's secret journal that the heroes managed to decipher. And the druidess really, really wanted more spiders. 

Which is how the elf, dwarf, and two kendergirls found themselves at the borders of Silvanesti, greeted by none other than Porthios, far from everyone's favourite elf. 

Now, I must say that Tracy Raye Hickman put a lot of work into Dragons of Dreams. And I appreciate some of it, and a lot of it is kind of meh.

The sickly green mists and trees that weep blood are cool. It's like a little piece of Ravenloft in Krynn, the best of both worlds. 

The scene with the executioner? Also cool. 

So, as the heroes entered the woods of Silvanesti, they met a group of hungry minotaurs and almost ate them (after the kendergirls tasted roasted dragon, they suspect every NPCs of being a polymorphed delicious dragon. This is scary, really). 

They lost their NPC followers in the mists (Sturm, Riverwind, Goldmoon, and Alfred the butler), and sent their three dogs to find and help the lost followers. 

They witnessed the execution of Kitiara by Tanis, and impressed the starved, enslaved Silvanesti elves by killing the executioner. 

Then they were attacked by creepy spider-goblins. Because when two characters in the party have spiderclimbing abilities and like to use them, sooner or later you must have a vertical fight on/in a half-ruined tower. 

Notes on vertical fights: 

If you throw something at the character below you, you're in a better position to hit them but if you miss, your weapon falls all the way down; 

If you throw something at the character above you, there's a chance that your weapon will fall back and injure you; 

If you charge or dodge, there's a chance that you'll lose contact with the wall and fall down, unless you manage to grab something and stop your fall; 

Dispel magic suddenly becomes deadlier.

All in all fun. 

Notes on spider-goblins: spider-shaped body with cephalothorax and abdomen, goblin faces, four goblin arms and four goblin legs. Freaky. They enjoy using Stinking Clouds, Webs and Darkness. 

Also they briefly met an NPCs from an old campaign that some players knew and some players didn't. I'm sentimental like that. 

Next, the heroes are going to find the entrance to the Underground Zoo of king Lorac. What are the chances of running into more freaky creatures?

Thursday 11 April 2024

Icing the Dragons of Ice

 So we're still playing what I like to call Lamentations of the Qualinesti Princess - a game of classic Dragonlance modules remade and arguably improved with the help of LotFP rules, and some LotFP and compatible books. 

Our latest adventure was Dragons of Ice, written by Douglas Niles. 

A party of adventurers consists of a Qualinesti red mage, a hill dwarf cleric of Kiri-Jolith, a kender bardess, and a kender druidess who recently joined the others in the frozed plains of Icewall. 

They fight the dragonarmies. 

The Dragons of Ice go like this - you bring the heroes to Tarsis, they find some clues in the long-forgotten library, the city is conquered by dragonarmies, the heroes are urged to go south and look for the Dragon Orb at the Icewall Castle. Simple enough. 


Part 1. Rebuilding Tarsis

Tarsis is a big city. It's fallen on hard times since the Cataclysm because they used to have a sea and now there's no sea, and there are beautiful ships just rotting for centuries because there's no sea. Still, a big city. 

The amount of things that you can do in Tarsis, according to Dragons of Ice, is this: 

stay at the Red Dragon inn, where you meet princess Alhana Starbreeze, a Silvanesti elf who, like many racists, secretly is aroused by interracial stuff and falls in love with the human knight Sturm;

visit the governer in his palace; 

find a secret library with Fizban's help; 

choose to rescue a nice elderly couple from thieves or leave them to be robbed; 

run to the south to get the Dragon Orb or stay in the city and eventually be captured by draconians and either escape or be executed. 

Thrilling.Though it could be fun to play a variant of Casablanca in a draconian-controlled city, maybe one day we'll go there. 

Anyways, I wanted Tarsis to be a city with places you can go, people you can meet, things you can do. 

I used Vornheim, of course. 

So under my wise government, Tarsis now has: 

a palace and an inn that we inherited from the old regime;

a library - but not just some boring old library. Indeed, it's the legendary Library of Zorlac, complete with the librarians and magic insanity-causing rugs; 

some fancy stores that sell fancy stuff; 

an elaborate maze of streets and alleys; 

barracks where the draconian troops are stationed; 

an old temple once dedicated to the sea gods, now long-abandoned, which the characters chose as a meeting place with their adversary. 

In other words, it's a real city. 

2. Messing with the NPCs

Since the Heroes of the Lance are replaced with the four above-mentioned meddling kids and their three dogs, I felt free to switch around some of the NPCs and enemies. Goldmoon and Riverwind are still there, doing what they're supposed to do, acting as the heroes' loyal followers since Dragons of Despair. They were joined by Sturm Brightblade with his Solamnic sword and Solamnic code of honour and Lolla Mesmer, an elven cleric that I rolled using Vornheim tables who was converted by the dwarf into true faith of Kiri-Jolith. Note: due to the dwarf's missionary activities, Kiri-Jolith is now the second most followed deity on Krynn. 

Laurana is supposed to hang out with the characters, being a bratty girl who still hasn't grown into her role of the heroic Golden General. Fine by me. By now, Laurana has gotten over her childhood crush on the Qualinesti wizard (which is what the previous modules had recommended for her - if  there's a Qualinesti elf in the party, boom, Laurana's all ready and willing to marry him), and now has a teenage passionate romance with Tika who is her SOULMATE and they're VERY HAPPY and will live happily EVER AFTER. Which is okay for everyone, especially the wizard who was really uncomfortable when Laurana fawned over him.

Kitiara is supposed to appear and disappear without much interaction, at this point in the story, she's just the mysterious and menacing Blue Lady, the Highlord of the Blue Wing. But since the heroes saw her and decided to kill her, why not let them? I gave them Kitiara at her best - charming, manipulative, smart, looking out for number one and not giving a damn about her superiors' master plans. 

The Dragon Highlord that the heroes are meant to really mess with is Feal-Thas, the lord of the White Wing, a dark elf who holds the Icewall Castle. He's okay. But I had something else in mind. Our wizard grew up in Qualinesti, he knew Laurana and her brothers, Laurana fancied him to be her betrothed - so what was up with Tanthalas at the time? I bet he wasn't all that happy, growing up as a half-elf in Qualinesti. In fact, Tanis is now the Dragon Highlord, Kitiara's sometimes-ally, sometimes-rival, bitter and angry at the elves who treated him like shit just because he was not racially pure. Can't really blame him. 

3. The Sinister Secret of the Spider Sity

The kender druidess wanted to find a spider city. She also rolled the "you know where to find the thing that you really wanted, four sessions away or sooner" on Zak's Random Character Advancement table. 

Which is why Silvanesti is now, apparently, taken over by spiders, and the heroes are flying there on top of a rather large and grumpy red dragon whom they freed from Tanis's magical prison. 

I have some ideas about what will happen there but it's a story for another time, besides, the players probably don't want to know ahead of time. 

There's going to be some horror stuff, obviously. 

And now a word from our sponsors. 

The cast of Lamentations of Qualinesti Princess originally appeared 

in the playtest of All Dogs Go To Hell, published by LotFP. 

A lot of animals, people, bacteria and magic artifacts 

suffered during the playtest, but the dog survived. 

 Buy it now and get a complimentary "Why, thank you!" 

from the writer, the cast, and the dogs. 

Or get it for free, it's pay-what-you-want.

Sunday 7 April 2024

Roger Zelazny was extremely good

[...] While it's difficult to imagine Roger doing anything as sublimely geeky as role-playing games, I'm able to record that he was very good at it. 

[...] Whether through observation, Jane's coaching, or his own repressed talents as an actor, Roger tended to shine i nhis roles. Initially he chose minor characters, a bit removed from the main thrust of the action, but nevertheless complete characters who had their own part to play. In a game set in feudal Japan, Roger turped up as the Chinese poet Li Po, a character who specialized in carousing and extemporaneous verse. The poetry that Roger recited on these occations had the geniune flavor of Li Po, too. 

In a starship adventure game, Roger appeared as a preacher named Shuyler. Chaplain Sky was a navy "xenochaplain", supposed to be able to minister to the spiritual needs of any conceivable denomination of human, alien, or the odd sentient rock. (He didn't do very well with the rock, actually.) The professional requirement to believe in everything led to Chaplain Sky's not believing in anything very much, and led to some of Gaming's Most Funny Spiritual Moments, as when Sky blessed some space marines about to hit the beach on an enemy-held planet. Sky's address went more or less as follows: 

"Insofar as I may be heard by anything which may or not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that these soliders be granted luck and favor, regardless of anything they have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness, but something else may be required to ensure any possible benefit for which they may be eligible, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to ensure them receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as their elected intermediary between themselves and that which may not be themselves, but which may have an interest in the matter of their receiving as much as is possible for them to receive of this blessing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen." 

From A Singular Being by Walter Jon Williams. 


No wonder the man's picaresque novels are so D&D-able.

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Thoughts about Terminal City Con

There were a hundred and three games at Terminal City. Three of those were Lamentations of the Flame Princess. 

Why? LotFP is fun. The rules are free. There's a lot - a whole lot - of quality content. Almost everything, even that one adventure about the dogs, can be bought as PDFs. Some of the stuff, especially that one adventure about the dogs, is pay-what-you-want (so you can get it for free, and no one will judge you, you greedy tight-fisted miser). And there's even more stuff that's LotFP-compatible. 

Is it because LotFP has no warehouse in Canada, and there are no physical books at local game stores? Printed books are something that sets Lamentations aside from many others, they look absolutely gorgeous. 

There were a hundred and three games at Terminal City, and the three Lamentations games that were barely advertised were all full. (One person had to cancel but there was one extra at the next game, so it evened out). 

Some were players with LotFP-related experience, and it was a pleasure watching them use every skill and trick in their arsenal. Some were people who never played an LotFP game before, or never played a tabletop RPG, period. 

Everyone contributed, everyone did something cool. 

Maybe we should play more LotFP games at cons and show more people how great it can be and make James Raggi rich and famous so that he publishes more games that we will play at cons, you know what I'm saying? 

Anyways, it was fun. I want to thank everyone who came, or wanted to come but couldn't, or didn't plan to come but something came up so they just sat at my table and played. And Becami, Jeff and Zak, who gave some very sound advice on being a Referee at a con game. And James for making Lamentations and publishing the two adventures that I used, and once again Zak for writing the two adventures that I used. And Austin, because it was nice to see a familiar face and know that someone at the table is resourceful enough to deal with anything that will go weird and pear-shaped. And the organizers and moderators of Terminal City, because it was a really cool and friendly event. 

It was a pleasure.

We need to talk.

 I've known people whose lives were destroyed because someone lied about them. Some of them lost everything and recovered. Some of them ...