Home Again &c.

Back from my sister’s place. Acquired much miniature conversion fodder and Pokemon Y.
I now own 6 of the 11 total mini types created for Crimson Skies (too bad they still ignored 3 of the original 14 planes, but hey..), as well as a surprise bounty of 1990’s-era Star Trek Micro Machines – which used the same molds as many of the modern Star Trek Attack Wing and Clix models. It’s on. I’ve also got kitbashing materials for the DS9 Tech Manual/Star Fleet Tech Manual/Wolf 359 & Unification ship variants, not to mention the “Phoenix” variant of the Nebula-class. All I’m missing for the Feddies is a Miranda, an Enterprise Class/Constitution Refit (depending on what side of that particular divide you fall), and an Olympic – I imagine pretty much everything from First Contact is going to be pretty commonly available in the Clix sets.

Then it’s Klink time…

My Romulan fleet is actually in pretty good shape. Right now I’m also using several “modern” ships to proxy for stuff in ACTA Star Fleet. For example, the Romulan “Science Vessel” is a pretty decent Hawk, the “Old” BoP from Enterprise is an excellent Snipe or War Eagle (with the larger BoP then standing in for the King Eagle), and the KBoPs make great zipperhead Frigates for either side.

Anyway, I’m gonna go clean up and sleep. Tomorrow’s a busy day, but hopefully I’ll be able to get some photos together or something.

A riddle

I am the tree of Knowledge,
My leaves speak the tongues of the Dead.
Hide, not bark, surrounds my wood;
no greening surmounts my head.

What am I?

Gloria in Excelsis

Bouguereau_RosesSQEnjoy the High Feast of the Incarnation, all. I’m going to be out of town until the New Year, so it’s unlikely I’ll be posting in the interim.

Pistori’s Translocation of Infirmity (new LotFP/D&D spell)

Still working on that folio. For your elucidation, I present a lovely spell of the Second Level from my past. This was based loosely on good old Pagan medical practices, pretty much the world around. Clerics get miracles. The rest of us can only fob off our bad shit on other people..
It is released under the OGL (see the topbar).

PISTORI’S TRANSLOCATION OF INFIRMITIES (TRANSFER DISEASE)

duration:special
range: touch (5 miles)
the caster of this spell transfers all temporal suffering due from a disease to another living being, usually root vegetables carved in the shape of the afflicted body part(s) with a token from the sufferer.
transferring the disease to a vegetable, however, relieves only the symptoms of the sufferer. they will continue to progress in the disease, feeling well and perhaps exacerbating the condition; should they be particularly incautious or ill it may even prove fatal.
should the root be fed to or handled by a being of the same hd as the sufferer (other than the wizard) , the disease will transfer fully between them. unfortunately, the flesh of any animal so afflicted will then bear the disease. commonly, an “escape” or “scape” goat is chosen, and the diseases and afflictions of an entire household inflicted on it; the wizard will allow the beast to die naturally (an unnatural death undoes the spell) and bury it far from the paths of man.
if ever the caster of the spell removes himself more than 5 miles from a living sacrifice, the spell is undone. both it and the sufferer are wracked by the affliction as severely as if the spell had never been cast.

Ahh, Nerves. (Miniatures)

I mentioned my broken hand earlier. It’s still giving me some trouble, but I’m back up to painting. Now I just need to get 3 months of dust off my brush and gear up for my Battlecry bucket. And that sexy, sexy MAC II.
I built a test lightbox today (although it’s pretty freaking ghetto at the moment..) and decided to test it with some of my old minis.

1-285 Archer-Spartan - Desert Camo - FrontWell.. maybe not perfect, but the top one was with a cell phone and the bottom one was with my now inexplicably-busted camera. In macro mode. DC ARC 21-400 Zaku II-J - Asian Theater - Front 1-400 Zaku II-J - Asian Theater - SideIMG_20130623_244433_156On the other hand, this shit is comparatively gorgeous. Now I need to fix my camera and start flocking a box bottom.

In other news, I’ve been working and binding books for a couple people on my Christmas list. I’m teaching myself to blind-stamp, which is rather a lot of fun. More on that as it develops.

On Pact Magic. Also, Pokemon.

I was musing on Rumplestiltskin earlier and had a realization – it makes an enormous amount of sense if demons and/or devils can only work magic at the behest of others.
I mean, usually it’s already assumed that any bargains they make are for their “own benefit”. Why are the wishes perverted? Not just because they have their own fury and eternities of repression to work out. It’s also steps toward the long-term goal. And no matter how many mortals you fuck over, there’s always another wizard who thinks he’s clever.. or thinks the wishes he has rattling around in his head are his own doing.

John_William_Waterhouse_-_Magic_Circle

John William Waterhouse – depicting a mortal about to do something incredibly stupid.

One of the reasons I’ve been so quiet the last week is that I finally started that Platinum Nuzlocke run. I’m using a modified ruleset (but doesn’t everyone?).
• Can only save at the end of a play session.
• Release any fainted pokemon, and can’t use HM’s on a fainted one.
• Only the first ‘Mon on any route can be captured, although trades, breeding, and gifts are okay.
• Can’t use items in combat. Can only use items picked up from the ground, no buying. Berries can be grown and held.
• Can’t leave an instance to heal until it’s completed.
So far it’s been a hell of a lot of fun, although I had to restart twice before the first gym after my starter got killed by crits in the rival duel >.>. It’s interesting being forced to use utter crap, and having severe weaknesses in my team because of the dual-types I’m rocking (grass/poison, fire/fight, normal/fly, normal/water, and rock/ground).

Of Shares and Silver (Historical Inspiration)

With the capture of the pirate ship last session, one of those old DMing issues cropped up again. See, treasure’s always been a problem in D&D – hell, most of the verbiage that’s not tables in the 1e DMG’s section is about developing discretion with it, and making up “appropriate” treasures. It’s one of those areas where Gary’s personal experiences and historical knowledge made certain types of adjucation easy.. but he kinda forgot to mention it to all the newbies out there.

"Pandora" by John William Waterhouse. Public domain.

This is what rolling on the 1e Treasure tables feels like, half the time.

The topic of treasure sizes has been hashed over enough that I’m not addressing it today. There’s another, more pressing problem – what do you do once it’s rolled up? Division seems easy enough, but it can be a Hell of a headache for a GM and the players, especially with the big stuff.

That Class “A” treasure for knocking down a band of Men in the Monster Manual seems huge for PCs, but it isn’t a reward to the players for taking out the camp or ship.

It’s for paying the army it takes.

Think about it – most of the entries in 1e were scaled for stocking hexes or domain level play, not random encounters on the road. To take them out, you usually need an army or at least a band of retainers. Now, most heartbreakers and the main D&D rules vary wildly in their opinions of plunder. But IRL it’s been a thing since the days when an “army” was your cousins and the booty was a couple cows. The historical salaried pay for soldiers was much lower than their actual rates. Plunder was an expected part of their pay. I mean, seriously, would you go to war for the equivalent of about $20 a week? That’s a recipe for desertion and murder. Yes, they were endemic, but knowing that sacking that city over there would pay out in pants, meat, and enough cash to start your own farmstead was a Hell of a motivator. In fact, plunder was so normal, contemporary histories will often extensively remark on “no looting” orders in battles, along with the punishments offered and the general success of the order.

Unfortunately, with widening the scope of booty awards comes the necessity of figuring out who gets what. Now, there are a lot of traditional sharing mechanisms. They were especially important (and handled in much more detail in the literature..) among pirates, but every armed force used them.
Now, I should note that Lamentations already has a booty system, but a) not everyone plays it, and b) I’m a relentless tinkerer.
Here are a few historical examples, which I hope will make fiddling with your game a little easier, and inspire said tweaks.

-Smash and Grab
Can you carry it off? It’s yours. This is what your average rioting civvie is doing, and it’s popular among levied armies or other semi-organized mobs.
Problem is, this doesn’t work in a more structured society. Historically, it led to a lot of murdering and infighting post-battle, so more legalistic/”fair” options popped up almost immediately (either for the division or for the murdering..). If you have to wake up in the morning with the people you’re screwing you tend to treat them a little better in the act, as it were.

-Share and Share Alike
This was a simple split (popular among the more egalitarian revolutionaries and pirates)  and the one most DM’s use – it’s easiest to run with a group of alleged equals. Every man gets a share of equal value, and anything that can’t be split is converted to cash or “bought” with parts of your share. This is implied in the DMG, but contradicted elsewhere. It’s very easy to assign partial shares, however, and the general math is very easy.

-The Thieves’ Bargain, AKA The Pitcairn/Bounty split
A quartermaster is appointed or elected. He divides the booty into shares, then leaves the area, so he can’t see who takes what. He receives what shares are left at the end. A common variation allows each man in order (selected by lots) to take a share, with the quartermaster going last, then anyone entitled to a second share draws lots again for order until all shares are distributed (This means that whomever pulls the most shares also gets the last share left). Another common variation

In the Thieves’ Bargain, everyone gets a number of “whole” shares, rather than half-shares, so the individual shares tend to be smaller. It seems “fairer” to PCs, and offloads some of the work from the GM, plus it tends to increase player investment in the treasures. It does make it harder to “split up” magic items, or other high-value items; historically, they were often diced for – see the description of the Seamless Tunic from the Bible.

-Navy and Military shares
Most militaries had very specific policies, but there were some customary systems. Most of my knowledge is based on the early American and British Naval systems, along with medieval mercenaries and the Roman army; I encourage you to do some more research on your own. Even fishing boats still use a very similar system to the old US Navy divvy.
As with the Thieves’ Bargain, the unit or ship would have a Quartermaster or Paymaster. His primary job would be to issue goods like boots and weaponry, which were usually bought locally with an allowance from the Crown. He would also divide any plunder, but traditionally was not allowed to select the first share. The position was very, very frequently abused, with the QM buying shitty goods (or none at all) and pocketing the allowances, for example. Most armies tried to combat this by instituting particularly brutal penalties for abusive QMs.
There were also issues with lower ranks stealing and hiding loot; the usual penalty was forfeiture of all loot, with flogging, or even death.

In the Navy, prized (captured) ships were sold when they returned to port, or if they still had military value, commissioned and set under the command of the ship’s Lieutenant (necessitating multiple field commissions – 2 new Lieutenants, a Lieutenant of Marines, a new Doctor if possible, a Quartermaster and of course the brevetting to Captain of the old Lieutenant). Cargoes were usually sold and the cash divvied, with the crew having first shot at buying any special items. Prisoners were often enslaved, with any left after replacements (you always lost some in combat and from disease, especially at sea) sold off to middlemen.

The traditional splits varied: usually it was some variation on the following.
Captain/field commander: 3-5 shares, and often pick of the litter.
Lieutenants/officers: 2-3 shares.
Skilled junior officers, such as Doctors or Sailmasters, and non-commisioned officers: 2 shares.
Infantry, Men-at-arms, marines, or any other active combatants: 1 share
Non-combatants: 1/4 to 1/2 shares.
Camp followers, levied Serfs and slaves: nothing.

In a number of cases, you could also be awarded an extra full or partial share.
0 The first man over the wall/on deck in an assault was usually awarded an extra full share (or, more likely, his widow/descendants were). Sometimes this was given to the first survivor over the wall, or to the entire Forlorn  Hope (a slang term for the poor bastards who went through a breach in gates or walls). Used to encourage aggression.
0 Trophies – Bringing back the heads of enemy officers or other leaders. Rewards varied, but the practice was so common that Samurai ettiquette manuals included entire sections on how to clean yourself up, in case your head got taken. After all, it’s your last major social event, gotta be pretty, right? Used to minimize lower-class casualties (kill the officers and you break the army, not the people. Plus it makes it a lot easier to take over). If you just want to encourage slaughter, offer rewards for right ears, thumbs, noses, &c.
0 Pick of the litter – people with multiple shares were often allowed to sacrifice one to jump to the head of the line; if not, the leader of the force traditionally had the right to demand any one share of the loot. This caused some serious friction during the siege of Troy – Agamemnon demanded a specific slave-girl that Achilles had taken, which precipitates the entire last half of the Iliad (and the death of Achilles).
0 The Captain’s Take – In naval battles, the ship’s Captain, Leftenant of Marines, and the Quartermaster were each traditionally awarded the pick of one of the weapons taken before the remaining gear was shared out.
0 Ransom – Defeating a knight and accepting his surrender granted you rights to his arms and horse, which did not count as a share. Often, you had the obligation to take any reasonable offer for their return. In addition, you had the right to keep the Knight prisoner and demand a ransom for his person, or for his body (usually somewhat smaller..) from his fief.
0 Equites – A mounted man was often awarded an additional share for his horse.
0 Sundries – It was common to exempt clothing, food, and other trifles from treasure sharing; you could keep all you could carry, but any weapons or precious items had to be surrendered to the QMs

Folio project progress

Finished the first part of the Folio, adding and cleaning up all the spells from the original contest and some other stuff. Did you know that Lamentations has nearly 80 first-level spells, not counting my own?
Now I’m teaching myself to use InDesign to see if I can print it up in signatures or I’m going to have to do this the hard way again. I’ve reformatted the pages, going through on another editing pass before I start adding in all the Open Content stuff from the R&M .pdf.
Folio 2
Finally starting to look good.

Now back to cleaning my library and working on my next post (it’s pontificating about Treasure and RPG philosophy!).

Craft Fair Aftermath

Didn’t manage to sell my book, but the wife sold off essentially her entire inventory, and I used some calligraphy to barter for goods. Then we got free bookcases on the way home, so hey. $60.

The finished product

The finished product

IMG_20131204_080850_149 IMG_20131204_080916_511Vinyl cover, hemp thread, and Japanese rice endpapers. Not bad for a first effort, I think.

IMG_20131204_160256_118Our table, after the stampeding hordes made off with all our finished offensive cross-stitch. I embroidered “be a dick” on the Wheaton’s Law patch, which I found somewhat ironic.
IMG_20131204_160317_425My wife briefly abandoned me at the table.
In the Student activities building of an extremely progressive college.
With gigantic, framed cross-stitches of an uncomplimentary Saxon word for a latrine and/or female genitals, of a short tube for the conveyance of fluids, designatory terms for female dogs, and various other “helpful” things.
I instantly became the Gingery White Male Oppressor.
The sign deflected most of the filthy stares once people actually read it..

The highlight was the aged Yiddish woman who bought all the dirty words on the table and snapped up the rest as fast as we could sew them.

I have made an art (project)

IMG_20131204_031023_332 Glue’s still setting but she looks darned good if I say so myself. Will put the final touches on it tomorrow morning, and case the other two text blocks I’ve finished. With any luck, this might be my second project to actually break even!

Busy Busy Binder (project)

Today I rigged up a bookbinding press and glued my second text block ever. As usual, I’ll be doing a more detailed “how-to” once I get the process down better. I’m testing several methods, focusing on 15th-16th century binding, as part of the folio project I mentioned earlier.IMG_20131202_170323_704Items (costs included), clockwise from upper left, top to bottom:
3m Sanding Sponge, 400 grit ($2.99) – I use this for modeling and various other things as well.
Fiskars 5″x9″ guillotine paper trimmer, ($10 on sale at Michaels)
Outdoor-rated Mod-Podge ($6.50, same)
Jute twine, various weights, and waxed leather thread [the black spool at the bottom] ($5 all told, left over from a leatherworking project)
Rubber mallet, 2# ($1.5 at Daiso Japan, a hundred-yen store in Seattle)
Ruler (45 c)
Standard safety razor blade ($1/pkg 5, Ace hardware)
Linen bias tape ($2, Jo-Ann’s, sale)
Bone Folder ($6, Dick Blick)
Folding Japanese-style saw ($9, Home Depot, bought for camping) note: Japanese saws cut on both the draw and push stroke – this isn’t just me being a weeaboo.
Awl ($1.50, another leftover leatherworking tool from Daiso)
Ghetto bookbinding press  – 2x  2″x1″ C clamps (local hardware store, $3.50 each) and a couple 9″x1″x1/2″ strips of maple, which were left over from a prop project. I’ll give it feet later.

This setup lets me bind books roughly B4-6 and A4-6, which suits me fine. Total cost is ~$50, which means 5 books at $10 to break even. Should be doable in theory, but the craft fair is in 2 days. Wheeee!