New 1st-level Spell: Pistori’s Most Expedient Repairing Dweomer

My father taught me, many years ago, that a wizard’s most important skill is not spellcasting, but fraud – followed hotly by ingenuity.
In the vein of the “Banquet” spell of Better Than Any Man, I present “Baker’s Magic Fixing Spell”, which he came up with long ago. There are two versions, plus the ostensible effect, which you may feel free to insert into spellbooks, etc. This is presented as Open Game Content (see the sidebar for the license).

Pistori’s Most Expedient Repairing Dweomer
(AKA Baker’s Magic Fixing Spell)

Level: 1
Duration: See Below
Save: Conditional. See Below.
Range: Touch.
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Special material (see below)

Blurb when found inside spellbooks:
This first-level spell appears to instantly and magically repair any one mundane tool or other useful item, including weapons and armor.
The material component is a small jar of foul-smelling, acrid ungents (including the anchoring fibers of a mussel and pure alcohol distilled from wood) and the broken object itself.

Effects:
Version 1: The Original
(This is the one my dad first wrote up; simple, to the point, and slightly worse than Mending. But a LOT funnier.)
The spell instantly and completely repairs one broken and useless non-magical item/tool/whatever. It cannot be cast upon a whole and usable item or on magical items. It can regenerate missing parts if they are irrecoverable, and to all tests the item is perfectly sound. It functions perfectly while performing routine tasks, as well as the first time it is used under stress.
The second time the item is used in any situation of danger or stress, it catastrophically and utterly irrecoverably fails, preferably in an incredibly humiliating manner – armor rots to rust and horrific stains, swords turn soft as rubber, lockpicks shatter and jam in the lock, etc.

Version 2: The Weird one
(This is what the spell evolved into over about 20 years of play. I still occasionally inflict it on my players, and it can get really fucking amusing even if they know what’s going on. It leads to resource games – “how much is having that set of lockpicks REALLY worth to you, hmmm?” – and encourages gambling)
The spell instantly and magically repairs one broken and useless non-magical item/tool/whatever. It can regenerate missing parts if they are irrecoverable, and to all tests the item is perfectly sound. It functions perfectly while performing routine tasks.
Each time it is used in a life-threatening or stressful situation, however, the character must save vs. Spells (or make a Fort/Crushing Blow save for the item at a -1 for each time it is used). Failure indicates that some randomly-selected item or piece of property OWNED by the character (not necessarily carried on them) is irrecoverably lost or destroyed. This can take several rounds to take effect, and the DM is encouraged to make it look coincidental. For the purposes of this spell (and yes, this has come up in a game), slaves aren’t property but the title to them qualifies.
Casting the spell on a whole, currently usable item allows a save vs. Spells to avoid its effects entirely.
Broken Magic items are also allowed a save. If the item saves with exactly the number required, the magics of the item pervert the spell and fully repair it – but it is drained of all its significant powers for at least an hour. If the item passes the save with any other number, the Fixing Spell fails. If the item fails its save, it’s partially repaired, but fails catastrophically the next time it is used – violently and unpredictably releasing the magic within.
Whole and usable magic items will fight the spell, draining the item of some power or charges, but inflicting at least 1d6 of damage on the caster per significant ability it possesses.

Viewing the item in a proper reflective surface (blessed silver or polished iron, pure water) will show malicious-looking imps covering it, slowly devouring its substance. This spell is a Curse, should you desire to remove it, and clearly detects as such if you know how to look..

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Battletech: 3015, The Anime

Busy doing some casting and cleaning for an order while this plays in the background.

Now that the MegaMek guys have uploaded the Battle of Stanrey maps, I think I’m gonna have to paint up some of my Dougram Unseen to run Stanrey and Kalnock. A copy of BoS went up on eBay a couple weeks back, but I didn’t have $180 to spend on it, even if it does come with nearly thirty models and the single coolest mecha game accessory in human history.

To wit: A periscope with a little control panel and cockpit frame, for determining line of sight

To wit: A periscope with a little control panel and cockpit frame, for determining line of sight

The Takara “Battle” games bear a superficial similarity to Battletech; hexmaps, similar scales, and of course the units available. They are much simpler, however, especially in the realm of tracking damage, and are clearly designed with younger gamers in mind. In Japanese, the books are written at roughly a late grade-school level, including still using “helper” kana with the limited kanji present – which actually makes them pretty easy to translate, a task I’ve had on the back burner for months now. I also believe the BT guys never even saw a copy of one of these games.

For those of you not familiar with the series, on the other hand, it’s blatantly one of the formative influences on Battletech. For starters, it’s the source of the “holy Trinity” of Mediums (Wolverine, Shadow Hawk, Griffin),  as well as the entire reason Quads exist in the game. Although I kinda doubt Jordan’s fad-chasing ass ever actually watched an episode*, the models’ box art (which was part of what inspired them in the first place)
Scorp model box provides a window into the universe of the show. I can’t help but think the scavenger ethic and starkness of the Succession Wars was influenced by the lonely desertscapes and mauled mecha adorning the boxes; the characters on the show definitely influenced the image of the Battletech ‘verse’s population. Look at that clip up there if you haven’t already, then flip through anything from the early years and tell me if the outfits don’t look just a bit similar. Compare that to anything Macross has to offer and I think you’ll agree that the Big D and Crusher Joe had a lot more to do with BT’s design ethic.

The atmosphere of the show is a damned near perfect fit for a resistance group somewhere in the Drac March, just trying to break off and live their own lives. Repairs are hard to come by, the ‘mech is more valuable than any of the characters, and it’s a hard fight for everyone involved. Basically, all you have to do is substitute a capital world elsewhere for “Earth” and call it a day. As far as plot goes, the military district governor is executed by the local Tai-sa for not persecuting local malcontents effectively enough, igniting a localized guerilla resistance that in turn winds up setting off the entire planet. The handful of rebels with a ‘Mech are the focus, with the new governor pushing everything he can find at them. And, of course, as is the case with most of the games, the kid with the ‘Mech is minor nobility keeping his head down. Though the show hasn’t (as far as I can determine) ever actually been licensed, there are some very good fansubs floating around out there. I strongly recommend the show to any fan of Real Robot series (which is to say, if your favorite Gundam is 08th Mobile Suit Team or 0080: War in the Pocket, you’ll probably love it), and to any fan of the Succession Wars era of Battletech.

Natasha says: Watch it or GTFO. And we don't want to piss her off, do we?

Natasha says: Watch it or GTFO. And we don’t want to piss her off, do we?

As a bonus: Watch the finest mecha fight sequence ever animated (from 08th Mobile Suit Team, the best of the Gundam shows). If that music doesn’t get your blood boiling, then you have no blood to boil.
Dougram isn’t that good, but damned if it doesn’t come close a few times. And Dougram lasts for 75 episodes, where 08th is a shorty OVA..

(images used without permission for educational or parodic purposes. No challenge intended to any trademarks, living or dead, yadda, yadda. IP lawyers: please DIAF, you’re one of the things poisoning the world right now)

*It’s possible, however, that more than one of the devs did see some of the show, though this was in the era of “script parties”, where you’d watch a raw show and read off of a xeroxed script/translation script someone had set up for you. Usually both were at least third-generation copies, which made things interesting..

I love the 1600s (Okay, the 14-1600s)

So, this has been sitting in my draft queue since I made the post about The Three Musketeers. Sat down and banged it out today.

Something people often overlook in the tabletop RPG hobby is just how long the Middle Ages actually lasted. I’m a fan of the Late middle Ages, myself. It’s an era of upheaval. Society went into a woodchipper and came out in a shape much grander, but that woodchipper itself is ideally suited for adventuring into the ruins of the lost Empire (and its decadent holdout, somnolent in opiatic and truly Oriental splendors) than the low-level skirmishes of centuries past or the industrialized wars of the future.

The era brought the Hundred, Thirty, and many other Years’ Wars, the true birth of the gun, of the flowering of arts outside the walls of monasteries for the first time in a dozen generations. Lines of communication shortened drastically, and (as always) people found out that just because you can make yourself understood twice as fast and twice as clearly, it doesn’t mean that someone won’t want to stab you over it. The only true pillar of society for a good millenium – Mother Church – was unceremoniously kicked out from under nearly everyone. Sure, there had been heresy and even schisms, anti-popes, &cetera. But now the Church of Rome began to realize that it was going to have to do more than trust in God and Princes to protect herself. Then there were the great plagues, increasing both the mobility and the value of the grunt peasant through scarcity, the rise of towns against the fracturing nobility.

Everywhere you look in the histories, there’s shreds of things you can turn into adventures. Paganism is still close enough to the surface that it can break through in all kinds of fucked-up ways. A village in the hills (fine, barrows) chock-full with cannibal halflings was still a too-close-for-comfort nightmare in my family in the 1800’s – imagine what it would have been like 200 years or more earlier, with dipshit foreign invaders trampling all over the sacred places pissing off the locals. And Hell, if all other inspiration fails literally everyone, from the Pope down to tiny shithole cities on the edge of the Baltic, was hiring mercenaries and dispatching King’s Men off on missions of intrigue and/or copious amounts of murder and burnings.

Playing in the historical sandbox makes it easy to build a character and his motivations. Granted, there’s a lot of baggage that carries through to the modern era (remind me to tell you sometime about how the Peace of Westphalia is the real reason global climate change is a problem). And sure, you can offend people, but a quick talk and any level of adulthood at the table mean it’s not a real issue in-play.  No matter how many words you put into your made-up world’s background, when you can say “He’s a French Huguenot on the run, who once served as a Dragoon but escaped during Queen Catherine’s purges, now looking for work in Bavaria”… just look at the motivations on the character, and what that puts in your DM’s pocket. Make it clear to your players that this is funtime, that you’re not putting their religion on trial..

..even if you totally are.

..even if you totally are..

..and that they need to be able to put aside their egos for the characters’ tonight.

But that “baggage” notwithstanding, using the real world allows a few less-obvious things that make your life as a DM much, much easier. Major public figures of the late 16th and early 17th centuries are famous enough that you can name-check them for atmosphere, while still obscure enough that their motives and character are not only questionable but positively murky. The average player’s historical knowledge is pretty sketchy on a good day, and a 20 or even 50-year anachronism for the sake of story (there’s a good example in that 3 Musketeers post) doesn’t hurt immersion. Richelieu sending the PCs to undermine this upstart Cromwell fellow? Sure!
Same goes for battles, let alone wars, and you can make one up that sounds damned convincing. How many people do you know that actually understand the impact of the Battle of Hochstedt, who won, or even the war in which it was fought? (You’d think the War of Spanish succession would involve combatants from Spain, but.. yeah.)

The only reason I know jack over shit about the battle in question

The only reason I know jack over shit about the battle in question

Finally, play in the 17th Century and you too could look like this stylish group of SOBsscreen-shot-2012-12-12-at-11-35-21Or him

This is what a 3rd-level Fighter looks like IRL.

This is what a 3rd-level Fighter looks like IRL.

Or, for that matter, her..

So, about that reward..

So, about that reward..

And then, of course, Solomon Kane. Because really, he’s up there with Van Helsing on the “Greatest Clerics Ever” list.

Not Solomon Kane, but God I love this picture

Not Solomon Kane, but God I love this picture

In conclusion: Great style, turbulent politics, pimping buckles on your shit, and everyone’s fuzzy memory on the details but familiarity with the broad strokes makes this a perfect era for the local murderhobos.

Poste Scriptorum: If you want more sexy, sexy 17th-century armor/clothing pics, go to this blog, it’s frigging delicious. Clothing porn ho!
Edit: Not a lady. Mea maxima culpa.

The biggest condemnation of the way Battletech handles autocannon..

is that 2 class-2 autocannon weigh as much as a class-10.

More playtime, and a Firefall diversion

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Jim linked my review right after I went south on a wedding anniversary vacation, then I had a crapload of convention work and a houseguest up from the Carolinas. Oh, and this. Because Tribes devs making a Tribes MMO? Fuck. Yes. Plays pretty much like I remember, only without catching a rail in the forehead every time you set foot outside your base in anything less than a super-heavy suit.

On the RPG front, I took the Guns Guns Guns! files down south. Got a bit more work done, but brother #2 decided to haul out the Basic books and have a go with the sibs and parents. I finally got to trot out Pragha the Blue, aka Pragha the Perverse, summoner and seige-mage extraordinaire. Extraordinary in this case because he’d gambled away his spellbook (a severe drinking binge and gambling off his gear is how I usually explain restarting any character at low levels..) and gotten shafted with no actual offensive spells. Managed to walk away with the highest body count, after casting “kerosene, vodka, and torch” on a patrol of beastmen, then getting another group to flee the dungeon after giving me all their money ( I told them that Dad’s dwarf was magically slowed down by throwing money at him, and I’d use it to slow him down more effectively while they ran away. I totally didn’t.), and using Control Fires on the beastmen’s cook (or rather, the fire he was bent over in the surprise round). Fun times. I almost managed to convince the party to just steal the Beastie’s stolen cargo boats to sell them down the river, but that was shouted down (rightly so) as unadventurous. Adventure ended with us locked in a small room whose walls were (postem my wife deciding to sit in a throne in a room clearly marked all over with snakes and shit) bleeding snakes profusely. Good times.

 

This Friday, we had the Carolina guest up, so we took the nigh-obligatory trip to Mount Rainier. Of course, the clouds rolled in immediately.IMG_20130712_121025_357Got a couple surprisingly good photos of the peak, though, they rose for a few minutes while we were up Paradise way.
IMG_20130712_121710_085There was still ~2 feet of snow on the ridge in mid-July, although it was patchier elsewhere.
Here’s a shot down into the valley, with a blatantly posing marmot thrown in. Cheeky little bastard didn’t even whistle, just started hamming it up when he saw cameras come out.
IMG_20130712_122014_610Some delectable steel from the trip outIMG_20130712_151057_617
Wrenched my knee on the way out, spent Saturday laid up and Sunday over at Dragonfest judging the cosplay contest. Couldn’t take photos from the stage, sadly, but a fantastic pony gijinka, a Tiny Tina from BL2, and a Fire Emblem:Radiant Dawn Ike won. There was also a adult/child Black Butler pair that were frigging adorable, and picked up “Judges’ Choice”.  Judging was tough, there were a lot of really good costumes, but it did make my at-con job easier to know who won right away :b

That pretty much catches us up to now, so back to the plotting board. Gonna spend a good chunk of tonight eating homemade tacos and casting/painting robutts.