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16  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Reaperwatch 2014: Can't be as bad as last year on: January 28, 2014, 04:06:47 AM
Pete Seeger - folk singer, activist, songwriter, songfinder.

A man that taught himself how to read music, while succeeding as a musician at the time. (He ended up writing a book on the subject - 'Henscratchings and Flyspecks'.)

Rest in peace, Mr. Seeger.

The Auld Grump - I honestly thought that the man would make it to a hundred.
17  Community / Off-Topic / Re: KickStarter thread on: January 14, 2014, 10:43:10 PM
Just put in my final pledge for Bones II - I added almost $150 at the last minute....

Leaving off the ones added for other people leaves -
2013 Core Set ($100) x1
Narthrax Dragon ($12) x2
Lords of Darkness ($10) x1
Unleash the Kraken! ($15) x1 (Happy happy joy, joy! Happy happy joy, joy!)
Oh, Rats! ($10) x1 (I had decided against this one... then started statting up a wererat thieves' guild called The Rats Teats....)
Heroes and Villains ($10) x1
Greater Demons ($12) x1
Water Elementals ($10) x1
Hill Giants ($10) x1
Demon Lords ($15) x1
Dungeon Decor ($10) x1
Blightfang Dragon ($10) x1 (I painted up and sold my metal one to a fellow that wanted a 'let's get back together' present for his girlfriend.  Smiley )
Devils ($10) x1 (Gonna run a game set in Cheliax, one of these days....)
Cinder Dragon ($10) x1
Expansion Set 1 ($50) x1
Expansion Set 2 ($50) x1 (I wanted #3 as well, but decided that I would rather have the Tarrasque.)
Mashaaf, Great Old One ($12) x1 (I have no idea what I will use it for... but I'll think of something....)
Khanjira, the World Breaker ($25) x1 (the Tarrasque by any other name would smell as... sweet?)
Dragons Don't Share ($35) x1 (Oh, yeah....)
Thank You Set ($20) x1
Cadirith ($15) x1

On top of that there is another three Dragons Don't Share, two Khanjira, one Narthrax, one Blightfang, one Mashaaf, and two Cinders added by other people, some to be painted for commission.

One of the Cinders will be used as a cake topper, unless Dragon's Don't Share is smaller than I think that it is.

The Auld Grump
18  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Reaperwatch 2013: Let's Hope it's a Quiet One on: December 17, 2013, 12:27:28 AM
Peter O'Toole, 81.

Don't know who he is? Go watch Lawrence of Arabia. Seriously.
The Lion in Winter is my all time favorite movie.

I watch it every year, around Christmas.

Be at peace, Mr. O'Toole.

The Auld Grump
19  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Reaperwatch 2013: Let's Hope it's a Quiet One on: December 13, 2013, 10:30:12 AM
Jang Song Thaek, 2nd most powerful man in North Korea, executed.

He might not have been one of the "good guys" like most of the people mentioned in this thread, but his execution is... interesting.
Frightening... with fears that it is just the beginning of a purge.

The Auld Grump
20  Community / Off-Topic / Re: [Books] Digital Divide on: December 12, 2013, 09:27:08 PM
Awaken, o' slumbering topic!

The first nine chapters of book 2 of the Rachel Peng series is available as a free download - you can find links in the comments section of the comic - here. I would have given a more direct link, but there are two versions - PDF and Mobi. And the page with the downloads is kinda wonky, the commentary under the comic also explains that a bit. (Essentially, the page is asking for a donation, not a payment. A payment of 0 allows you to get the download.)

I look forward to reading the whole book.

The Auld Grump
21  Community / Off-Topic / Re: The Repeat List on: December 10, 2013, 01:19:27 AM
Lamentation of the Marooned
By Ye Banished Privateers.

"It's been fourteen years since they put me on this island
No ship, no crew an' no bottle of rum!
Me boots have rotten, me mood turned sour
No ship, no crew an' no bottle of rum!

Now I tell ye me ol' salt I wish I was there
With me ship, me crew an' me bottle of rum!
There on the high sea, with the winds an' the waves
With me ship, me crew an' me bottle of rum!

Oh lord, if ye ever steer a ship here
A ship with a crew an' a bottle of rum!
I'll promise I'll never go rovin' no more
With me ship me crew an' me bottle of rum
I'll be meek as lamb an' calm as a saint
Jus me an' me ship an' me bottle of rum
An' i'll never end up in a dance with Jack Keer
With no ship, no crew an' no bottle of rum

but lord let me not meet that treacherous first mate
With me ship me crew an me bottle of rum
'Couse then with me cutlass I'll chop of his limbs
I'll smash in his face with me bottle of rum

I curse their bones for leaving me here
Deceitful crew, empty bottle of rum
They're plundrin' an' sailin' the main without me
On me ship, with me crew an' me bottle of rum!

I hope they'll reach ropes end there at sea
Crushed ship, drowned crew an' smashed bottle of rum!
An' be thrown in the Spaniards deep dungeon of woe
No ship, no crew an' no bottle of rum!

It's been fourteen years since they put me on this island
No ship, no crew an' no bottle of rum!
Me mood has rotten me hope is dim
No ship, no crew an' no bottle of rum!

Now I tell ye me ol' salt I wish I was there
With me ship, me crew an' me bottle of rum!
There on the high sea, with the winds an' the waves
Me ship, me crew an' me bottle of rum!"

The Auld Grump
22  Community / Classic Topics / Re: Some older show intros on: December 09, 2013, 11:57:19 PM
The Sweeney - Shut It.

The Auld Grump
23  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Cool Vids (Keep it Clean) on: December 08, 2013, 11:03:37 PM
And remember - Christmas Time ids Krampus Time!

The Auld Grump
24  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Reaperwatch 2013: Let's Hope it's a Quiet One on: December 07, 2013, 10:17:42 PM
And there are still people in the States that label Mandela  a 'terrorist'. (One of them is a former VPotUS... oy!)

I guess by that same viewpoint that Gandhi was a terrorist.... 

The Auld Grump
25  Community / Off-Topic / Re: The Repeat List on: November 27, 2013, 01:54:32 AM
I just encountered Limbotheque's Man (Girl, in this instance) of Constant Sorrow for the first time, on a video unboxing of GameZone Dark Elves, of all things.

There has got to be a way that I can use song that in a game

The Auld Grump - I was up at four in the morning, and have had too much caffeine to sleep....
26  Community / Classic Topics / Re: Some older show intros on: November 25, 2013, 07:59:16 PM
Well, here's one that I had never encountered - I ran into it looking for blues and jazz soundtracks.... Flower Action 009/1 - a 1960s Japanese action series about female cyborg agents....

The Auld Grump

*EDIT* Added link to playlist.
27  Community / License to Improvise / Re: Berlin Between the Wars [Historic Urban Fantasy] on: November 21, 2013, 12:03:57 AM
You should have them witness the murder of one Doctor Donald Blake, beaten to death with his own walking stick, the moment anyone talks about Thor...
The hammer makes me Thor!

If you try thwinging thith hammer, you'll be Thor too!

Marvel... missed the point with Thor.

Once again, from Scandinavia and the World. (Warning very occasional nudity, profanity, and age inappropriate humor.)

The Auld Grump
28  Community / License to Improvise / Re: Berlin Between the Wars [Historic Urban Fantasy] on: November 19, 2013, 08:13:16 PM
Not likely - a big chunk of this story is about misdirection.

If they try... then they will die, with hints that something is afoot. (I am not above using a TPK as a learning experience.) Their next characters will be sent to find out what happened to the first group.

Getting the players to think that the gods are playing games with Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco as pawns.

They will be chasing a red herring, though a nasty red herring the size of a shark, with sharp pointy teeth.

The most that Odin will be doing with Hitler, et ali, will be a game of 'let's you and him fight'. Pushing them towards the expansion that they are already inclined to attempt. (Same result, with the War ending as everyone has read in history class. Odin is not helping that Nazis, he is using them as willing sacrifices.)

An exception will be Himmler and the Ahnenerbe - who will not be sought out by Odin, but will instead seek Odin for themselves. Even knowing that they are making pawns of themselves will not deter them - even by Nazi standards the Ahnenerbe were strange people.

Which reminds me, I need to dig up Spear of Destiny - the book is largely rubbish, but worth mining for ideas.

Oddly enough, in Japan I am thinking about making the Emperor an actual pawn of the gods.... And had been since his birth.

But the vision that his gods had was the taking of China, not embroilment in Europe.

Thor will be sitting this one out. The Nazis will try to contact him, and something may answer, but not him.

The Hrymthursar (frost giants) will be siding, subtly, with Finland (early) and Russia (later) - not because they like the Russians or the Finns, but because if Odin moves then they move to counter.

The greatest change that the PCs will have an opportunity to affect is a trap - if they can bring the giants into play then the world will have three years without a summer, followed by a winter that never ends.... And we know how that one ends!

This is also the only way that Odin will be acting against the PCs personally - he also knows how it ends, gave his eye and suffered nine days of torment to gain that knowledge. He is in no rush to see Fimbulvetter.

The PCs best source of information... if they think of it, is Loki - bound under Iceland, a serpents venom eating at his flesh.

Loki does not want Ragnarok - there are multiple ways that the world ends, but whichever side Loki chooses... Loki is one of the ones that dies.

There are other Powers that are taking an interest, and they can take many guises, others are embodied - three of the Four Horsemen are mortals, bearing terrible burdens. Their mere presence changes things for the worse - and they suffer along with their victims. (Except for the Pale Horseman - Death is with us, always. He and Azrael have... an understanding.)

Mephistopheles has already played his part, whispering a lie in the ears of Pyotr Ivanovich Rachkovsky - Russia's chief of propaganda in Paris during the year 1903 - The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was the result.

He makes an appearance in the Berlin opera house and other places - not using any supernatural abilities, merely talking, the right words in the right ears.... Part of this is going to be lifted from The Mephisto Waltz. If there is a Sighted character that can see him then I will likely also steal the shapechanging of the White Martians in the recent John Carter movie - they will see him pass by a potted tree as one person and emerging as another - even though the tree only hides a thin part of his figure. (In short that the witness is seeing someone changing shape, but not exactly where he can be seen.)

It is much better from his point of view if people damn themselves....

He is also the only honest parasite - if confronted he not only admits his actions, he boasts of them. Spreading willing damnation is his only goal, and his larder is already filling.

The Auld Grump - did I mention that my girlfriend really does not like these villains? Yet she wants to play in the game....
29  Community / License to Improvise / Re: Berlin Between the Wars [Historic Urban Fantasy] on: November 18, 2013, 07:29:17 PM
Not a bad song... but a little too modern.

I have been looking at some Jazz and Blues from Germany in the 1920s - the Jazz scene was pretty much inimical to the Nazi movement, so much so that all the Jazz and Swing studios in Germany were closed in 1933 or so, many of the performers fleeing the country.

But one song that I know will be playing in the background of one of the climactic scenes late in the campaign is taking place in Theater am Schiffbauerdamm - Brecht and Weill's Die Dreigroschenoper (Threepenny Opera), then in its premiere (five years after the Beer Hall Putsch, eight years after the start of the campaign).

Mind you.. I just have the scene in mind, murder taking place in the back rooms of the theater, while Die Moritat von Mackie Messer (Mack the Knife) is playing.... There is, as yet, no connection to the main plot.

It could be either one of two murders - with the distinct possibility that the PCs are the murderers.... (If it has not yet become obvious to the players... this will be the scene that proves that the War will progress without the interference of gods. That Odin and Hel are both merely fellow travelers. They will have an opportunity to murder Odin's avatar. If they do not murder him, then he will be the murderer, and he will vanish from their ken.)

An alternate version takes place paralleling the events in Cabaret - but Threepenny Opera actually took place, whereas Cabaret is allegory.

Like most of Brecht's plays, Threepenny Opera was political - Brecht would later have to flee Germany.

The Auld Grump
30  Community / License to Improvise / Berlin Between the Wars [Historic Urban Fantasy] on: November 16, 2013, 01:42:34 AM
Copying text from the Repeat List thread, rather than continuing to clutter up that thread with Off Topic chatter.

I don't even watch the show, but Game of Thrones seems to have the best choice in trailer music. This year it's Bones by MS MR

There is a 'Between the Wars' SC2.0 campaign set in Berlin that I have been tempted to run for a while.

Between WWI and WWII was a bad time for Germany- both men and women prostituted themselves for American money, while the Mark kept plunging ever further. One American dollar could buy almost a week's worth of food.

Americans would take advantage of that.

That song, and that video, would fit that campaign very well.

The Auld Grump
Ran the opening scenario tonight.

They have gotten to the part where the gentleman in the music video is found dead in that same place, allegedly after the Fraulein has left.

Borrowing shamelessly from this, the musical Cabaret, Norse mythology, Neil Gaiman's American Gods, and the movie Angel Heart. Add a dash of the flip side of Casablanca for the espionage element.

The gentleman is an American agent, one that has been abusing his relative wealth. Sleeping with both the German officers of WWI and their wives.

The woman is just what she appears to be - using her body to make a living in an era where a million marks cannot buy a loaf of bread. Elsa Adler, a married woman who's husband is also bound by the American and his money.

The American is found blood eagled, his lungs spread as wings.

Across the city of Berlin the German officer is found hanging from a tree, strangled, his gut pierced by a spear.

Elsa Adler has vanished.

The PCs are British agents, who were supposed to contact both the American and the German officer. (If they had set out early they could have found the bodies before the police, but they dawdled.)

Pretty sure that I managed to creep the players out. Smiley They hated the American agent, and thought that he would turn out to be the bad guy.... They sympathized with the German officer, but felt that he would end up a Nazi.

Instead they are both dead, in gruesome fashions, and Elsa was seen near both sites - apparently at the same moment, or nearly.

Elsa has become Valkyrie, a chooser of the slain.... War might have been averted or delayed, but is now inevitable. (The PCs could not have saved either man - the war was coming, regardless of the PC actions.)

Stopping her will not prevent WWII, merely limit how one faction benefits from the bloodshed.

In the rising dawn between WWI and WWII, old powers are stirring. The fourth horseman is coming, on a pale grey horse with eight legs.

Wodin was not the good guy - god of mad men, murderers, hanged men, and poets....

This is not Ragnarok, but it will fill the mists of Niffleheim with shades.... and the fingernails of those that die in the concentration camps will build the hull of Naglfar.

The old gods are parasites, drawing blood from the conflict as leeches.

The Auld Grump - I fully expect the PCs to blame Loki, who is still bound, and blameless in this... the closest that he comes to having an agent in this mess was the American, who dies in the prelude to the first act....

Are they going to be involved in the Beer Hall Putsch?
That is still some time in the future.

(Which does not mean that I have not yet decided, and have not yet statted it up. No sir, not at all.)

(Well, okay, maybe a little.)

I wonder how long it will take for them to figure out that this is not being caused by the gods - that the gods are merely opportunistic parasites?....

Oh, and the part that I borrowed from Angel Heart - Ilsa (not Elsa - Ilsa, I have no idea how I managed to get that wrong, up above) does not realize that she is choosing sacrifices.

The first two that died were men that betrayed her in some fashion. But Odin wants blood, to share with Hel.

After the PCs finish this portion the next part deals with the night life of Berlin Between the Wars, Cabaret meets The Mephisto Waltz.

The Cabaret is rotten at the core, brittle delights masking a sour and sullen anger. (For what it is worth, Britain had much the same thing with the Bright Young Things - cocaine and Champs, anyone?)

But, in the end, that anger is inwardly turned, and will be overwhelmed by the outwardly turned anger as Germany rises again in arms, and first uses those weapons to strike at their own heart. (Cabaret is, at its heart, one damned grim musical.)

But the real darkness takes place closer to the Cabaret than you might think, in the great symphony.... Why should the old gods be the only parasites?

In time all four horsemen will ride, some are old gods wearing new guises, others... are what it says on the label. War will have several faces, including a bitter French veteran of the Franco-Prussian War, while Starvation is making a playground of Spain....

The Auld Grump, people forget that before there was Hitler, before there was Mussolini, there was Franco. After Hitler and Mussolini had long gone to dust, still, there was Franco....

The PCs will be looking for hidden horrors, but the real horrors and monsters will be the ones in full view.

The second session finally took place on Wednesday night - this group has eight players, only six or seven at a time, but we also have six or seven campaigns running.... Lately it has been mostly Airship Pirates, but SteamCraft, Ghostbusters, FalloutCraft, and Pathfinder are also on the list.... In theory Megan was going to take over the Airship Pirates campaign, but she has decided that she prefers it being a game with both of us as the GMs, We may never reach the end of any of these campaigns.

And, taken from an e-mail to a fellow GM -
And the game on Wednesday ended up being the Berlin Between the Wars Spycraft game.... Which I hadn't even counted among my 'One Group - Too Many Games' rant.... I just assumed that the scenario was never going to be finished.

They went in the first time expecting pulp adventure, and instead faced the cold war internal dynamics of Berlin between WWI and WWWII - the Nazis are a presence, but do not yet hold power, and are in fact fighting with the German government. The Beerhall Putsch has not yet occurred.

Americans... did not disport themselves well at that time. Over a million Marks went to a single dollar. And Americans used that in rather despicable ways - Germans, both men and women, prostituted themselves for that one American dollar.

This time the party went in expecting espionage, and it went well. They know that something supernatural is up, but not what or who.

So... one of the PCs was replaced in game by an occultist, since the team was lacking an important knowledge base. The old PC is held in reserve, since injury in this system can sideline a character for months.

The occultist is actually from a previous game - when I ran Ravenloft with Spycraft, Strahd Von Zarovich become Generaloberst Strahd vonZarovitch, Grava Barovia in WWII. This is by way of a prequel, with limits on what magical abilities the character can have at start. I use a third party magic system that was written for D20 Modern. The character was raised in the Golden Dawn style of Hermetic Magick - and is going to be facing magic in a tradition very different from the one that he knows. (By WWII the wizard has also picked up Runecasting - this adventure will fill in the gap as to how and where.)

The theme song for the campaign -

Bloody grim setting and scenario - I would not even be running it, but Megan ran across my notes. She both hated it and wanted to be in it.

The gods as opportunistic parasites. Lending power to the antagonists - they are not the driving force, they are both using and are being used by the driving forces. They need belief, and the very human agencies that are the real villains... need power.

She is playing a ringer, and may end up being one of the bad guys. She is being used by agencies on both sides, and has prostituted both her her body and her soul.

This week they found the second body, and even had some small chance to keep the victim alive, but failed.

It would have required magic or a critical success on the healing check. The occultist instead used magic to find out what had happened, life and opportunity both slipped away. Had he kept the victim alive then he could have just ASKED him for the answer that he found with magic.

And the team's designated healer did not get a critical, leaving them with a rapidly cooling dead body.

One not subtle hint - the murder takes place at night, but there is a raven plucking an eye from the dying man, flying off when the occultist threw a stone at it. Ravens are diurnal, not nocturnal.

Another hint that Megan knows, but the PCs don't - the name of the scenario is The Spear of Destiny.

Other tidbits for later - one of the contacts for the PCs is a Nazi... but not one of the bad guys. He is acting out of an outraged national pride - it is even possible that he may become a replacement PC.

So far, so good. Smiley

I want to expand the theme music - some instrumental music for background, in particular.

Any ideas that folks think that I might be missing in a god-haunted Berlin Between the Wars?

For the record - Loki is bound below Iceland, and has nothing to do with this scenario.

One of the bits and pieces that inspired these scenarios - Humon's American In Berlin After WWI

The Auld Grump
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