Monday, December 4, 2023

d66 Classless Kobolds Linktree (of sorts)


As of Summer this year, I have changed jobs to work as a middle- and high-school Humanities teacher for a classical Christian school. As such, I am constantly buried beneath looming stacks of Great Books written by all of the best old dead guys. Translate that to blogging, and I have increasingly less time to update here than I would like. I mentioned that a while back during a season of overall transition, but here I am, still trying to keep RPG projects on the back burner without them burning or going sideways. 

Stepan Alekseev; possibly casting a charm over my blog to revivify its consistent content updates...

What dawned on me earlier is that I have had a lot of projects and podcast appearances and such which have been lost in the shuffle over the last few years, so I want to take a brief moment to collate my blog highlights in one place. I will endeavor to update this over time as new items are added.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Star Wars Location Generator

Star Wars is a cinematic universe. For our purposes, that lends a lot of direction towards how to actually write a Star Wars adventure. The greater OSR mentality of information-heavy multi-keyed location exploration doesn't cut it for Star Wars. I love that, to be sure, and would happily spend my time refereeing a session ensuring that resource drain, decision fatigue, and overall survival horror mark the cornerstones of the experience, but that is just not how it works in a Galaxy Far Away

As I continue to run a campaign in an alt-history post-Return of the Jedi universe locally for my peers, it dawns on me that so often I search for Star Wars adventure seeds or creative fodder and all I can find are detailed, on-rails fan modules written for FFG's Edge of the Empire etc, which, of course, is a fun game, but is entirely in the vein of big damn hero modern RPG philosophy. What I hope to do here is, instead, offer some dynamic generative tools to create quick, impact-heavy locales for use in all of the major Star Wars environments as made lovingly famous across all manner of related media. Borrowing from the excellent concepts behind point-crawls, you'll have a five-"room" adventure site in minutes, allowing for a mixture of concrete and abstract elements from which you can riff a whole evening's session with little effort.

Help me help you, because at the very least, I'm helping myself.

Saby Menyhei - Artstation

Friday, April 7, 2023

State of the Blog

My last blogpost was in November, now five months ago, and I admit the wind has really gone out of my sails in terms of game design, adventure-making, and the like. In September of 2022, I was banned from several Discord channels where I spent most of my free time talking shop about RPGs and enjoying the fellowship of like-minded folks who shared my interests. This was in large part due to private conversations I undertook in good faith with various people whom I've come to trust over several years, who wanted to discuss weightier manners like worldview and personal conviction. To my disappointment, most of those conversations were not, in fact, prompted in good faith and their contents were shared with moderators and persons of interest who summarily rejected my belief system wholesale.

In short, I am a Bible-believing Christian.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nor his kingship, authority, and rule over life. Unsurprisingly, this worldview is neither vogue nor safe for the majority of my cohort in the RPG scene. God's rightful claim over man, his creation, is of no dispute here, but the commensurate worldview which encompasses that foundational reality is anathema to many, if not most, of my peers in this space. There are, in fact, two types of people in the world: those who claim "Thy will be done," and those who claim "My will be done." The first belong to Christ as regenerate sons and daughters of covenant promises which predate space and time, and are made manifest in pure ontology, or the matter of being. The second belong to the prevailing nuances of culture and ideology which reject God and demand personal autonomy above all other paradigms. Saint Paul notably remarks that spiritual rebellion is inherent in the hearts of all men and women, who are without excuse but strive to suppress the truth in unrighteousness.* 

I do not hold the transformational convictions I do because I claim any sort of spiritual superiority. In reality, I strictly do not hold myself as spiritually superior because I know it is not true. I am a wretch, a fool, and a beggar. But for the grace of God, I would perish. I am not a man who has floated in the world on difficult surf, somehow reaching out by my own merit to claim eternity for myself from some passive savior offering me a life ring over the next wave. More accurately, I am dead on the bottom of the ocean, availed of no hope in any means save for Christ, who has reached into the depths and resurrected me by his power and will, based on no deserving of my own.** It is for this conviction and truth that I was banned from NSR, Atelie Hwei, and several other locales previously. I do not regret this, but it is plain as fact that Christianity is patently absurd to those who do not claim it by unmerited grace in faith.***

The irony of the many summary claims that I am a bigot, unloving, hating, and filled with vitriol for those outside of my circle is not lost on me. Jesus Christ was slain by those he came to save, and like the thief on the cross next to him on the mount of the skull, it is only because the man on the center cross said I could come in, that I did. I do not care what you think of me. My "suffering" is milquetoast compared to the earnest martyrdom of the prevailing saints who came before me. I am undeserving of love, as are the rest of you. We have summarily abandoned God and his faithful promises through Adam, our representative head, so long ago. But the Lord is not a spiteful tyrant, and even before the dawn of time made a covenant with himself to redeem a lost people to his kingdom. That I can in any confidence be counted in that number is humbling and astounding, yet that is what scripture states is the case. 

My desire for this blog has always been to design for me and my tables first, and to preserve for posterity the contents therein for anyone else in the hobby who may benefit from reading what I am up to locally. That is, as I mentioned earlier, flagging. Rather than discourse and civil conversation, I have been rendered a pariah, not worth the time of anyone more enlightened than I in the circles of our hobby space. I challenge you all to consider that we are, by nature, deeply religious people. Our hearts were designed to worship, and worship we will without contest. The question is what object we worship. Is it Christ, our eternal redeemer, who took on flesh and lived in the mire of humanity to absolve us before a perfectly just and holy God, dying on our behalf to atone for death, the rightful wages of sin? Or is it the world, with its calls towards autonomy, self-preservation, grandstanding, and vacuous moral superiority? 

Cornelius Van Til, a man of much greater conviction and Dutch extraction than I, speaks clearly of the fervent, if futile, ambition we pursue when we seek after fulfillment and purpose apart from the redemption of Christ. “The unbeliever is like a man of water standing upon a ladder of water in an infinitely extended and bottomless ocean of water, against a wall of water, trying to climb out of the water."**** So hopeless and senseless, said Van Til, a picture must be drawn of the natural man's methodology based as it is upon the assumption that time or chance is ultimate. The man-of-water analogy shows the futility of all thought that is not anchored in God's self-attesting Word. In this and every season, we cannot pull ourselves from this water. As mentioned already, only Jesus Christ can drag us from our depths and breathe new life in our lungs. 

I have many ideas I would like to pursue on this blog, from continuing the long-lost expansion of my Android: Netrunner faction write-ups, the point-crawl adventure treatment of Hoarblight Keep from Gavin Norman's amazing Dolmenwood setting, additional oracles and procedures for Galaxy Far Away and general Star Wars content, and more. That said, the reaction of my person to those who otherwise enjoy the content I have created is disheartening--not surprising, mind you, given what I have already cited from Paul's letter to the Roman church. I love this hobby, and I love the people within it, but being silenced for my worldview, rather than engaging in meaningful and earnest conversation about it, is simply frustrating at best. I bear no ounce of ill will against those who decided I was better served in a dustbin than a public forum, and I pray, ardently and daily, for the redemption of their souls, not in vengeance, but in a sincere desire that they should know the same foundational salvation that I, the worst of sinners, enjoy because of Jesus Christ's sacrificial work on my behalf.

If nothing else, this is eight month's of catharsis to put pen to paper and let anyone following know why I have been less than thrilled about interacting with the hobby as such. 

Thanks for reading.

* Romans 1:18-22, English Standard Version.
** 1 John 4:13-21, ibid.
*** 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, ibid.
**** Van Til, Cornelius. Christian Apologetics. P & R Publishing, 2003. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

Yes, You Can Resolve Action Without Dice and Do It for Years

A few days ago on the OSR subreddit, a user asked "Why Play B/X?" in the context of many modern games like Into the Odd, Knave, and Mork Borg being excellent at what they do. I had no skin in the game as I have a high regard for B/X and Old School Essentials (though I don't run them), but I got involved in the conversation when the predictable "Sure but you can't sustain an actual campaign" criticism was leveled against the so-called ultralight games currently vogue in the scene. 

It continues to blow my mind how often I hear this about rules-light games.

The specific discussion began like this:
  • User 1: "OSE feels like it has more depth and is more suited for campaign play whereas stuff like Mörk Borg seems to struggle with anything that goes beyond one- or few-shots."
  • User 2: "I ran Mork Borg for three months."
  • User 3: "But can you run Mork Borg for 6 years, like our longest AD&D campaign?"
  • Me: "I've been running a diceless campaign for five."
I was met with skepticism:
  • User 4: "Rolling dice is one of the best parts of role playing though!" 
  • Me: "I don’t disagree, but you don’t need them (or much infrastructure at all) to facilitate engaging, meaningful, and long-term play." 
  • User 4: "How do you handle the aspect of randomness/chaos that dice offer? Or how do you facilitate as being impartial when things happen if you don’t use dice? Also how do players hit or not hit then?"
In response, I realize I wrote effectively a blogpost to cover these questions, so I figured, why not just memorialize the conversation as a blogpost? So here we are. Consider this a sequel to How I Run and Play an Ultralight Game.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Nephilim Rising - Tables for Generating Mythohistorical Demigods

Mood Music

"Then the Lord said, ‘My spirit shall not abide in mortals for ever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterwards—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown." 

~ Genesis 6:3-4

The concept of a mythical giant is present is nearly all world cosmologies, folktales, and spiritual lessons. Somewhere, somehow, primeval man contended with, was usurped by, and watched perish the "heroes that were of old." The Hebrew Anak, the Austrailian Yowie, the Sumatran Orang Pendek, the Celtic Fomorian, the Norse Jotun, the Māori Maero, the Greek Titan, the Hindu Rakshasa, the Japanese Oni, the Lenape Allegwi, the Brazilian Mapinguari... look around in nearly any primeval history or mythological account and you are likely to find a reference to a race of giants closely descended from the gods, set loose in their own ambition to lord over men and rule or harass the natural order established by higher creator deities.       

Frankly, we are sleeping on the primeval, antediluvian history of our own planet as what is probably the most hardcore Sword & Sorcery setting for our use in game worlds. We're talking occult cabals, spiritual ritual inhabitation, sorcerer-kings reigning in mountaintop garden strongholds, megalithic architecture, time-lost technology, the fuel of heaven for machines on earth, underworld uprisings, and copious amounts of hybrid godlings running amok and creating culture and empire on a whim...

Simon Wong - Artstation

"Impiety increased; fornication multiplied; and they transgressed and corrupted all their ways."

~ Enoch 8:2  

So it came to pass that the mighty men of renown, hybrids of the spiritual and mortal, consumed the land, ruled it with unquestioned might, and dominated the mere humans who were their lessers. In all races, across all lands, bound up in the epoch which predated judgment by divinity itself, the giant Nephilim of all stripes reigned and conquered and despoiled humanity with heavenly secrets not meant to be shared.

"And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day..."

~ Jude 1:6  

Saturday, September 3, 2022

GloryHammer as Weird North Canon

I once assumed the chaotic and majestic musical universe of GloryHammer was the default setting of Dungeon Crawl Classics, but the more I think about it, the more it could reasonably fit in the Weird North canon without issue.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Shadow Appalachia: Logan Barrow Hills

The moundbuilders fell like a dying star out of time when they came to these wilds. Banished and dispossessed, they fled from their stolen lands in the East and washed up among the beeches and maples of these parts. They set to work quickly, establishing themselves as the new world order from the Great Lakes to the bayou deltas, keeping a special interest in the hillocks and hollers from Chillicothe to Tobaccoville. The Lenape and Shawnee remember, and try not to dwell on the episode. It was a bloodbath.

In history's irony, the moundbuilders perished. Their sorcery and industrial warfare were formidable, but their numbers were too few to last. Tribes came and went. They minded the barrows of their elder enemies to ensure nothing crawled out of the earth. Then settlers shuffled in and laid timbers. The natives were pushed out. Roads were paved and bulldozers flattened the old mounds. Strip malls were erected in their place. As a sleeping lion ought to be left to his rest, this time-lost dirt should not have been disturbed, and now an ancient epoch is coming back to life along the Guyandotte River.

Tianna Palmer - Artstation