Sunday 31 July 2022

Playing D&D In Ukraine: A Kender Ranger in Ankh-Morpork

Morning

Getting ready. My backpack is stuffed with printouts of Zak's modules because I never know if I'm going to be GMing. Also with printout of Vornheim, for the same reason. Also there's a list of character concepts I want to play, in case I'm not going to be GMing. 

Also a stainless steel fork/knife/spoon/can opener set, in case I get hungry. 

I hop on my electric scooter, and I move out. 

I don't think the vendors were quite right when they said the "ideal conditions for testing our vehicle - freeway, dry weather, windless". The ideal conditions are these - Saturday morning in Odesa, during war time. Barely any cars around. Still feels strange, I remember the constant traffic jams. 

Midday. Some people have already gathered, some are on their way. 

"Why is it so quiet?" 

We all know what he means by that. It's not about sounds of city life. It's about the sirens of air raid. 

We all expect a missile attack. 

But it's quiet. 

2 PM. 

There's how many - six of us? Seven? Eight? Are we all playing? I remember the times when we had three players and a GM. So simple and elegant. Six players, though, damn... I wonder how Zak manages it? 

Anyways, I'm not GMing today, so I pull out my list of characters. 

"What are we gonna play?" 

"Well there's mostly fantasy on my list..." 

"Warhammer!" 

"Fuck Warhammer!" 

"I wanna play a Scaven!" 

"Dude, scavens are russians. That's all there is to them". 

"I don't wanna play a russian". 

"Fine, you can play an orc". 

"Didn't you hear what I just said?"

"Look, if we're not going to play, at least let's talk shit about Putin". 

"Why is it so quiet, anyways?.." 

3 PM.  In the end, we decided that we're playing in Ankh-Morpork. The party consists of... a rat, a troll who thinks that the rat is his mind, Luggage, a Nac Mac Feegle, a wizard that the other players know nothing about other than he's, apparently, a wizard. And me. I play a kender ranger. Because I want to, that's why. 

"It's a usual patrol of the Night Watch..." 

"Wait, so we're in the Watch?" 

"Look at yourself. Who else could you possibly be?" 

So we go on patrol. We see some thugs ganging up on a man. We intervene, because they don't have a license to gang up on people.  They don't have a license because I handled it away from them and then asked where is their license. I think it's a perfect combination of kender handling and police brutality. 

After a couple combat rounds the Luggage is stuffed with dead bodies, the rat claims that we saw and heard nothing, the kender has a license for mugging and a license for assassination (sorry, burial), and the Nac Mac Feegle had cut off someone's dick.

Groovy. 

For some reason, the rat suggested that we visit the Mended Drum. The Nac Mac Feegle suggested that we visit Cut-Me-Own-Throat-Dibbler and get some sausages-in-buns. 

"It's 2 AM!" 

"So what? We're customers. He'd be cutting his own throat if he didn't sell us something". 

So - the troll, the kender, and the Nac Mac Feegle went to Dibbler. It took some lucky fortitude saves, but we all survived his sausages.The Nac Mac Feegle even found a dollar in his, much to the dismay of Dibbler. 

Then we went to the Drum, and things were going nice and easy... up until the moment when the kender saw the Librarian, and yelled "Wow, there's a monkey!" 

Which lead to a short but very passionate game of Toss - the Librarian and the kender tossed the Nac Mac Feegle at each other, until Nac Mac Feegle accidentally hit mister Chrysoprase in the head. 

Now, let's be clear - no one thought it was a good idea to hit the mob boss of the local trolls in the head. Not the rat, not the troll, not the wizard, not even the Nac Mac Feegle. 

The kender felt perfectly fine with it. 

The party tried hard to pull the kender out of the Drum before something horrible happened, but the kender didn't want to leave. And for a good reason! He was having fun, and as for the threats of ripping off his arms - that was hardly something new. 

In the end, the troll Watchman pushed the completely pissed off Chrysoprase into Luggage (the kender and Luggage were happy about it). Meanwhile, the Nac Mac Feegle and the wizard set the Drum on fire. I don't know why - I think the rat talked them into it. 

Then we all had to explain to Angua what the hell had just happened. The rat mostly did the talking. The kender tried to explain what really happened but after the rat promised him more sausages, the kender just nodded and said "yep, what the rat said!" 

The rat explained that there was a series of unfortunate events leading to holding mister Chrysoprase as a witness of supernatural crime...

"Angua looks at you, and judging by her face, she thinks "Fuck, you're such a rat!""

Then the rat explained to Chrysoprase (addressing the small crack underneath the Luggage's lid) how the Night Watch has his best interests in mind...

"The sounds that come from inside the Luggage are strangly similar to the words "Fuck, you're such a rat!""

And then the rat started explaining how the Watch would be grateful for Chrysoprase assistance in the investigation... the rat paused, and said "Fuck, I'm such a rat!"

Also I made the Nac Mac Feegle an armour out of the dick. It was a magical armour that would swell and provide a bonus to strength when fighting against an enemy with high Charisma. 

Just as we packed up and were about to leave, we heard the booming. 

Yep. Russian missile strike. Just as we expected. 

We got home safely. Next week, we'll either keep on terrorising Ankh-Morpork... or I'll be GMing. 

I don't know what scares me more.

Tuesday 26 July 2022

RPG subreddit banned Uncle Bloody

For a while now, I've been posting silly things on RPG subreddit signing them "Uncle Bloody" - jokes that parodied, whatchacellem, "agony aunts'" columns, extremely bad advice for roleplayers and gamemasters and ridiculous reviews of game-related content. 

I wrote a mock review of a pirate-themed module based on one of my favourite novels by Ulrich Komm about 17th century Hamburg, war of Netherlands against Britain, and the life of famous pirate-hunter Admiral Berend Karpfanger. I think it was hilarious. 

The moderators, however, claimed that it was "not acting in good faith". 

Poor Uncle Bloody, he never knew any faith except for the good one. 

Anyways, here's the review. 

I especially love the DOOM joke.

 

Uncle Bloody reviews Sails And Boarding Hooks by Zachariah Spreckelsen

 

Hey there.

Quick update about Playing D&D In Ukraine team - we're still not playing, mostly because of work issues but also because of russian missile attacks that had intensified last weeks. If you have never seen a russian missile flying in the sky right over your head and wondered if it's going to hit close enough to kill you, then your life is awesome and you should treasure it.

Which gives me some time to spend with my poor demented Uncle Bloody, who may or may not be the evil alter ago which did all the bad things my parents disapproved when I was a kid.

I give you another one of Uncle Bloody's sad purposeless reviews - Sails and Boarding Hooks: An Ocean Adventure.

Greetings, true believers! Recently Uncle Bloody had received several letters complaining about roleplaying games, official modules, and life in general. This is my favourite:

"My party is at sea, and nothing interesting ever happens at sea - I had the players roll to resist sea sickness for two sessions now, and I think they're beginning to suspect something! Please help!"

Poor whipper-snapper, you made the mistake of moving the party away from the deep, dark, deadly dungeons where all the fun things happen. But you also made two good decisions - you used the tried and true "roll for sea sickness" distraction, and you asked your good old Uncle Bloody for help.

Rest assured, Uncle has the solution to your problem.

Sails and Boarding Hooks is an adventure written for Lamentations of the Flame Princess by my old friend Zachariah Spreckelsen, the guy who had played with me back when DND5E was only a DOOM cheat code, and "reddit" was only the sound that frogs make.

Ah, the good old days.

As it is typical for LotFP, Sails and Hooks takes place in a more or less historic Earth, the 17th century - the time where pirates prospered, sea merchant were afraid to leave the harbour unless they gathered a whole fleet, and the Netherlands battled against Britain, Spain, and anyone else they didn't very much like. Which is, frankly, just anyone else.

What does the adventure give you?

Treasure! A big beautiful treasure table for those strange things that you can find on a pirate's ship after you massacre the crew.

Mystery! The main task for your players is to find out the dark secret of Admiral Karpfanger, a very real historical pirate-hunter who's actually much more than history books dare tell.

Exotic drugs! The Hashishim are deadly enemies, but should you earn their trust, they might share their unique stock of mind-enhancing substances with you. Or you can just kill them and take all their possessions, this is, after all, table-top RPG.

Interesting stuff that happens at sea! Another beautiful table of accidents, incidents, and drunken students that your party can encounter in between those good old sea sickness rolls!

Naughty pictures! Pirate's life beautifully illustrated in gorgeous black and white!

NPCs! A dozen unusual characters with special skills, flaws, and dirty secrets to use for or against your party!

The only thing I believe is missing is magic. Apart from occasional magic item and a couple simple rituals the seamen use to try and improve the weather, Sails and Hooks seriously lacks the occult. Well, and of course there's the Curse, but hush! Uncle Bloody wouldn't want to spoil it for you!

To sum it up, Sails and Boarding Hooks are 14 pages of pure swashbuckling arr-robust fun.

Recommended by ye scurvy Uncle Bloody!

Monday 11 July 2022

Since we last met...

 Ben Cusack had interviewed Zak and Michelle, the woman who'd been the closest person to Mandy for a long time, even longer than the interview itself. 

Seriously, it's almost 4 fours - and most of it is about allegations against Zak made by Mandy and the hatemob. Some of the allegations were made by Ettin, who had since been forced by court to apologize to Zak. 

Jeff Rients posted it in his blog (Jeff is probably the most decent person connected to the tabletop RPG hobby circles), and immediately the hatemob trolls started flinging dirt. Not unlike russian trolls that I've seen at it since 2014. 

Here's Jeff's post - just the video and the timestamps. 

https://jrients.blogspot.com/2022/07/three-hours-fifty-eight-minutes-and.html

In other news, the hatemob celebration over "Zak lost to GenCon in court" turned out to be premature. Zak appealed, the court accepted, the case continues. 

https://reason.com/volokh/2022/07/11/dungeons-defamation-role-playing-game-convention-libel-case-can-go-forward/ 


Wednesday 6 July 2022

The Sea Witch's Art of the Deal

Andersen's mermaid was afraid of dying.

That's it. The love story was secondary. She made a deal with the sea witch because she didn't want to die forever. 

And she was a mermaid, so she didn't get to go to heaven or hell or wherever after she died - poof, you're gone, only some sea foam is left.When you're a mermaid, you get to live longer than a human, but when you're gone, you're gone. 

And she didn't want that.

In a way you can view this story as an analogy of a person who doesn't want to accept the gender role that the society gives them. 

I don't want to be a kitchen/kids/kafedral person, I don't want to always hide my passions and desires, I don't want to look in the mirror all my life and see someone that's not who I feel I am. 

I don't want to die as a mermaid. 

So that's where the sea witch comes in. 

Unlike the Disney version, there is no real villain in Andersen's story. The sea witch offers a deal, and she sticks to it. What she offers you is a chance

You want to change the way things are, or change what you are - she shows you a way. She gives you the tools. She turns your tail into a pair of legs, or she gives you a knife that can take one life and save another. 

And she takes away something important from you. The best thing that you possess - your hair, or your tongue. A part of what makes you what you are. 

And she gives away some part of herself, as well. To stop being a mermaid, you have to drink her blood. 

The sea witch is a meaningful, painful catalyst of change. Once you go to her, things cannot be the same. 

And it makes for a good story.

 

Tuesday 5 July 2022

What RPG subreddit showed us

 Hi there. 

Still in Ukraine, still alive. 

An interesting story is going on in the subreddit dedicated to tabletop roleplaying games. The moderators' team decided to introduce a rule forbidding to talk about the content by Zak S. 

Zak is my favourite RPG author. 

Zak's blog is a source of cool facts about art, history, and fantasy, written in his unique style. 

Also, Zak is the victim of a harassment campaign - been one for over a decade. 

So when you speak about the victim of harassment, the harassers activate and come in to harass you, as well - because that's how they operate. 

Which is not pleasant for the moderators who have to deal with this shit. It's part of their job, but I get it - cutting up dead bodies used to be part of my job, and I didn't enjoy it. 

So they published this new rule. 

And the harassers came in to celebrate. 

Their comments included things like "finally you did something to deal with the fascistic users", "fuck the fucking supporters of the fucking rapist", and, directed personally at me, "you're victimizing yourself but you live in a country that is run by neonazi who organize pogroms against russophones and communists".Which is pretty much word by word quote from russian propaganda, and pretty much equals "hey guys, I support genocide!"

The comments about "you organize pogroms" got deleted by reddit moderators. The part about "fascistic users" stayed, and was massively upvoted. 

Comments like "Why do you ban the content and not the people who act badly?", "I think it's important to study the facts", and "Who is Zak S?" got downvoted just as massively. 

What does it mean? Let me mention one more thing - another massively upvoted comment was a repost of a Twitter story about "if you let some nazi guys in your bar, they bring their friends, and before you know it, it's a nazi bar". 

This is pretty much what happened. 

The harassers are the majority in the subreddit. 

The moderators still do their job, they support the rules and remove some offending comments, but effectively the harassers are running the subreddit. 

Moving against the harassers with something more than just removing the most offending stuff means moving against the majority of users. 

The moderators aren't going to do this. 

And if you're the bartender in a nazi bar, and every time a Jew (Zak is Jewish, by the way) comes into the bar, a fight happens, sooner or later you either close the bar, grab your biggest stick and chase the nazi out, or ask the Jew not to come anymore because he causes trouble

Got to hand it to the moderators - they took a long, long time before finally asking the Jew to stay away from the bar. 

And if someone thinks that the bar's problems end with the hanging of "No Jews Allowed" sign, I suggest them to read some history books. 

Spoiler: the problems are only just starting. 

EDIT:

I was too optimistic. The comment with russian genocide-justifying propaganda is still there. 

https://www.reddit.com/comments/vqn43u/_/ietvx1u/

UPDATE:

After I bluntly asked to explain why doesn't anyone do something about this, this comment was finally removed. So was my comment asking why don't people address it. 

ANOTHER UPDATE: this post had been reported to Blogger and suspended "because it breaks the rules on harassment". Upon review, the post had been reinstated without any changes. Because, how do I put it?.. - ah, yes - because it does not break any rules on harassment. 

But apparently the crowd in the bar doesn't like the comparison.

 

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 re...