Sunday, May 29, 2011

Overlooked Sci-Fi Weapon of Coolness

I'm watching old Andromeda reruns, and I'm thinking that if I could only ever have one scifi weapon, this might be the one.

From Wikipedia:

The High Guard Force Lance (from Andromeda)

The Force Lance generally looks like a harmless metal rod approximately 1/3 of a meter in length which fires high energy plasma shots, but can extended to almost 2 meters and be used as a melee weapon. The Lance is keyed to its handlers DNA and can also be reprogrammed, a person will be electrically shocked when trying to use another's programmed Lance. It can also be used as a taser.
The Force Lance can launch a number of self-guided tiny attack drones (called “effectors”) that both target opponents and intercept incoming bullets and missiles.  It has a grappling hook function, it can be placed in a stationary position to be set on auto fire, & finally it can be used as a plasma grenade by setting it to overload.

So let's recap:

  • It's a quarterstaff
  • It fires plasma bolts
  • It's a taser
  • It fires self-guided drones that target either people, or incoming bullets and missiles
  • It has a grappling hook
  • It can work as a sentry gun
  • You can use it as a grenade (but then you don't have one anymore)
  • And...If anyone but you tries to use it, they automagically get tazed!!
Batman probably wishes he had one of these.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Roads less travelled

Okay, the title is cool, but really is only slightly related to topic.

The wife and I went to trivia last night.  We decided to team up with Breyfunk and his Grife (Girlfriend/Wife - long story).  Usually we prefer to just be by ourselves, as it's kind of a date night.  But we actually did two bar trivia's this week.

The first was a small pub called Bentley's.  Older crowd, and the trivia was incredibly difficult.  Questions like "Who is the composer who finished Mozart's last work?" Or something like that.  We got about half of all the questions right, and that put us way down on the list.

So on Tuesday, we went to our usual spot.  This place has a younger crowd, somewhat rowdier, and sometimes more inebriated.  But the questions are a little more our speed.  Breyfunk and his grife stopped by, and we sort of did the should we sit near each other, or farther away thing, and eventually decided to team up.  Usually my wife and I are Team Blue, and they are Team Funk.  (Actually a lot less imaginative than such team names as "Obama has a Small Stimulus Package" and "My Big Fact Hunt")  But together we went with the name Blue Funk.

We didn't win any rounds, though we got 54 out of 55 points for 80's music.  My wife really knows 80's music.  (Except apparently Violent Femmes.  That was the one point we missed.) We did place second overall, as we consistently got good scores that just weren't quite high enough to win any round. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wordcasting Suckage

So, after my last post (probably not related to my last post) KEJR decided to allow Ultimate Magic in the Council of Thieves game.

"Great!", I thought to myself (who else would I think to? anyway...).  Now I can convert my level 8 bard to wordcasting.  The concept held a lot of promise for me, and I was kind of excited to get to use something in this $40 book I have.  Something.  Anything.  

So I asked KEJR, and he okayed a change.  He even gave a thumbs up to retraining Spell Focus (Enchantment) and Greater Spell Focus (Enchantment) (which I've referred to as the bran muffin of a spellcaster.  It's a really good thing to make it harder to save, but it's two whole feats invested.  But at the time, and still, I think/thought that it's a good thing to do.  Bran muffins - not always what you would prefer to eat, but it's better for you.)  

So I sat down to see exactly what I could do with the casting.  And the results were surprising.

As an 8th level human bard, with bard as favored class, I get an extra spell each level (at least one level lower than highest spell I can cast).  So at 8th level, I get:

Spell Level    Spells Known
       0                     9
       1                     8
       2                     6
       3                     3

And I can spend these spells on either effect words or meta words.  So far, so good.  

So I look at what words are available to bards.  

Spell Level    Effect Words   Meta Words
       0                       6                    3    (1 is given free at first level)
       1                      11                   3
       2                      15
       3                      10

Okay, so right off, there's a problem.  I know 9 level-0 words, but there are only 8 available to bards.  Hmm.  Well, there's a wasted bonus.  I guess that would turn into a skill point.  (grumble,grumble).

Then I look at the level 1 meta words.  There's "Careful", "Quiet", and "Simple", which are effectively eschew materials, silent spell, and still spell (not in that order).  But hey, I thought bards couldn't use silent spell?  Look in rules.  Look at Bards.  Hmm.  Nothing in the rules.  I can't believe this isn't an oversight, so I throw that out anyway to limit my own power gaming.  (Yes, it's really me.)

Then I start actually looking at the words.  Okay, what I understood to be the idea behind the wordcaster was that he gave up some power level in exchange for versatility.  For any spell, you specify a target word, one or more effect words, and then one or more meta words.  I can live with that.  I like versatility.

So I'm looking at the target words.  I get things like Selected (one creature), Burst, Line, Cone.  Cool!  But waitasec.  I'm looking at my effect words.  

0-Level Bard Words
Targeting Limitation
Beacon Divination Personal
Cramp Pain None
Decipher Language Personal
Echo Illusion Burst
Lift Gravity Personal
Sense Magic Detection Cone

1st-Level Bard Words

Friendship Command Selected
Simple Order Command Selected
Fade Concealing Selected
Spook Fear Selected
Glide Flight Selected
Lesser Cure Healing Personal, Selected
Radiance Illumination Burst(emanation)
Decipher * Language Personal
Wrack Pain None
Servitor I Summoning Selected
Dash Time Personal

2nd-Level Bard Words

Paralyze Humanoid Binding Selected
Enhance Form Body Personal, Selected
Disappear Concealing Selected
Sense Hidden Detection Cone
Sense Thoughts Detection Cone
Suppress Dispelling Selected
Float Flight Selected
Moderate Cure Healing Personal, Selected
Gloom Illumination Burst(emanation)
Glimmering Illusion Burst(emanation)
Translate Language Selected
Discordant Note Sonic None
Servitor II Summoning Selected
Accelerate Time Selected
Decelerate Time Selected     
  Out of 32 words available to me as an 8th level bard, only six allow any kind of choice in targeting.  And three of those are the choice between Personal and Selected.  Which mean that for just about all of my potential casting, targeting words really do nothing.  Wow.  This is not as good as I thought it might be.  In fact it's less good than I'd probably want to deal with.  

Oh.  But waitasec again!!!  I get Meta words!!  Three times a day, I can apply a meta word to my spells, just as if I had applied a metamagic feat!  That's pretty cool.  So what Metas do I get?

I automatically get Boost.  So I'm looking at my spells, and either the boost is a 1 level bump to the spell level (accounting for the repeats on my available words list, which cut down the actual number of words I get), or they are 3 level bumps to the spell level.  Which put them outside of my ability to cast.  And really just turn "1 Creature" target spells to "1 Creature/Level".  Hmmm.

Okay, so I can sort of see some logic here.  They really didn't want to give wordcasters any brokenness.  They wanted to give them flexibility.  


All the spells I get, are either the same level, or higher level than a straight spellcaster.  All the spells I get (well, basically all) are hardwired as to what I can choose as a target word.  

So what I'm left with is an extremely short spell list, that provides far less power than if I were just a straight caster.

I really really wanted to like this system.  But it's really just 34 pages of unusable dreck.  It's a restatement of basic spells, under the guise of being a new system.  A spontaneous caster should be able to do lots of cool awesome stuff by mixing and matching effects and targets and metas, but really, nothing is mix-and-matchable.


As one of the designers pointed out on the Paizo messageboards, sometimes players make poor choices in building their characters, and Paizo views it as their job to provide those poor choices.  (Or something suspiciously familiar to that.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ultimate Writers Cramp

I've been meaning to post for a few days now, but life seems to conspire against me.  Or maybe I conspire against myself.  I've had few ideas, and the ones I have I'm not sure I want to write about.  But here's the number one on my list.

I stated on Paizo's boards a couple of months ago that I was done buying Paizo material for a while.  But I broke my own (vow? no, not really a vow, more a pronouncement) statement and went ahead and bought Ultimate Magic.  I pre-ordered it from The Gopher because I believe in supporting my FLGS.  By pre-ordering it, I got a nice discount that would just about cover the cost of the PDF, because I've been trying to buy my PDF's lately instead of just bootlegging them all outright.

Ultimate Magic has had some fairly bad pre-press, as most of the content got posted up on a fan site a couple of weeks early.  (Fan site not named as I'm still petty about the fact that they lifted all of their initial content from a site that I created.)  People started going through and finding some of the content as being either unbalanced, or just plain bad.


The feat Antagonize.  This feat has no prerequisites (the fan site misquoted this and said that it required 13 Dex.  There is no actual prerequisite, only making the feat that much more broken.), but allows the character to make an intimidate or diplomacy check against a ridiculously easy DC (Target's HD + WIS modifier.  You get a bonus to the check equal to your CHA mod with an easy to make Sense Motive check).  If successful, the target of the feat is either forced to attack the character in melee (if intimidate was used) or to suffer -2 to any action that isn't on attack on the character (if diplomacy was used). Here's the actual text:


Benefit: You can make Diplomacy and Intimidate checks to make creatures respond to you with hostility. No matter which skill you use, antagonizing a creature takes a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, and has a DC equal to the target’s Hit Dice + the target’s Wisdom modifier. You cannot make this check against a creature that does not understand you or has an Intelligence score of 3 or lower. Before you make these checks, you may make a Sense Motive check (DC 20) as a swift action to gain an insight bonus on these Diplomacy or [sic] Intimitade checks equal to your Charisma bonus until the end of your next turn. The benefits you gain for this check depend on the skill you use. This is a mind-affecting effect.

Diplomacy: You fluster your enemy. For the next minute, the target takes a –2 penalty on all attacks rolls made against creatures other than you and has a 10% spell failure chance on all spells that do not target you or that have you within their area of effect.

Intimidate: The creature flies into a rage. On its next turn, the target must attempt to make a melee attack against you. The effect ends if the creature is prevented from reaching you or attempting to do so would harm it (for example, if you are on the other side of a chasm or a wall of fire). If it cannot reach you on its turn, you may make the check again as an immediate action to extend the effect for 1 round (but cannot extend it thereafter). The effect ends as soon as the creature makes a melee attack against you. Once you have targeted a creature with this ability, you cannot target it again for 1 day.

What's wrong with this feat?  Hmm.  Several things:

1) It's mind control with no save.
2) The DC is very low.  The check is very easy.  A 10HD enemy with a +3 WIS mod is a DC 13 check.  A 1st level character with Intimidate as a class skill, and a +3 CHA modifier who makes the Sense Motive check, starts with (1 [rank Intimidate] + 3 [class skill bonus] +3 [charisma bonus] + 3[additional charisma bonus from sense motive check]) +10 to the check.  Which means that he needs to roll a 3 on the die to succeed.
3) If successful, the enemy is forced to attack him in melee.  Never mind if the enemy is a ranged combatant, or a pure spellcaster.  The enemy must attack in melee.  Even if this isn't an autokill for an enemy sucking up attacks of opportunity on the way to the feat-user, it still ties him up for at least one turn.
4) If the enemy cannot get to the feat-user, the feat-user can spend an immediate action to extend the effect for one round.  Thus tying up the enemy completely for another round.
5) Petty point, but they even fail to spell "intimidate" correctly.  They spell it "intimitade" in the text of the feat.

There are a few other glaring problems in the book so far, but by far this seems to be the biggest sore spot.

So you might be saying to yourself (or me), "What's the big deal.  There's lots of material in the book, and there's bound to be a few errors that slip through.  Look at the 90+% of the book that isn't screwed up and watch them fix this in an errata sometime. (I've seen this argument on the Paizo messageboards.)

And this argument really pisses me off.  Here's why.

1) The presence of spelling errors indicates a lack of even basic editing.  Every word processing program on the planet at this point has a spell-checker.  Unless you happen to be using Notepad as your text editor.  I think even vi has a spell checker at this point.  {just looked.  Vim does.  Vi may not.)  Aitch E Double Toothpicks, the blogger software I'm writing this on has a spell checker.  To allow spelling errors through is simply unacceptable, and is indicative of a break down in the quality control process somewhere.  (If the spelling mistake is of a homonym that is misused, I can almost forgive as the spell-checker probably won't point it out, but even then, the human editor should notice such things.)

2) This company is a publisher of printed material.  And has been for some time.  I've worked for an employer where part of my job was producing written material for publication.  And every single word that was published went through a sign-off process where the writer would submit his text to an editor.  The editor would review the material and send it back with a markup indicating what needed to be changed for clarity and correctness.  Once the writer and editor had both come to an agreement on the text, it then went to a senior reviewer for his comments or changes.  Once the senior reviewer was satisfied, the material was able to be published.  None of this really took a lot of extra time, and I found, as a writer, that my work got better after I had seen how the editor wanted form to be.  When writing, I would include "Hmm, John is going to want to know how I got this number.  I should include it now.  He'll also not like my use of the passive voice here, and tell me to rewrite it.  I'll just write it how he wants it now." My work would tend to match that form the first time I submitted it, and the amount of suggested changes gradually decreased.

By the time anything was published, it had been signed off on by the writer, the editor, and the senior reviewer.  Project proposals that I would submit to an outside funding agency were also reviewed by our finance department for correctness, and were also reviewed by the head of the department and his head of section.

It's inconceivable to me that Paizo does not have something similar in place to manage their editing.  None of this actually affects the ability to get projects done on time, it simply means that you need to plan the pipeline and make sure that things get done when you need them done.  (My project proposals has something like a six week turn-around time from the date the funding agency announced they were going to accept proposals until they were due in-hand at the agency.  This means I had two to three weeks to figure out what I was going to propose, to write the proposal and develop a budget.  And then I had two to three weeks to get the write up entirely through the editing/approval process.  And I was the lowest of the low on the totem pole when it came to assigning projects priority.  (I was a scientific researcher without a degree competing for state research money with teams of PhD's.)

3) Power Level/Balance - I'm not sure how anyone at Paizo didn't recognize the insane power level of this little feat.  Does this mean that it was a throw-in at the last minute, or that they simply didn't playtest this product?  Similar power level issues occur with at least one spell that breaks the very guidelines for spell construction that are part of the new material in the book.

4) The "lots of stuff, bound to be a few errors" argument doesn't hold water for me.  The idea behind quality control is that if you implement correct QC procedures, you make it impossible for mistakes to get through to the final product.  It's like saying "That car you bought has 7000 parts.  It's inevitable that a couple of percent of those parts are going to be badly designed."  This would amount to something like 140 parts in a car being of poor design.  In fact the opposite is true.  When something is found to be of bad design in a particular car, it's generally a big enough deal that the car company fixes it for free.  And they look at how something like that got through and how they can avoid it in the future.   There's a whole field of Quality Control/Quality Assurance designed around preventing bad design items from slipping through.

So overall, I'm in a quandry with this book.  I've got one DM saying that nothing in it will even be considered until it's posted on Paizo's PRD.  I've got another DM that I'm not sure I want to even approach about using material out of until it's had time to go through errata.  Which leaves me with $40 worth of doorstop for now.  Looking at what Paizo's own campaign allows, it carves out a fairly large chunk of the book as not worthy of being included in their shared-world.  No words-of-power.  None of the alternative options.  But they do allow the above- mentioned Antagonize (I spelled this wrong initially, and my spell-checker caught it.  Hmm.  Spell-checkers in 2011?  Amazing!) feat. So I'm pretty much wishing I hadn't bought the book, or that I had only bought the PDF.

Wow, I sound like I'm bashing Paizo.  Maybe I am on this one.  KEJR made the point that people who only cheer for Paizo do them a disservice, as they give the false impression that everything is fine instead of rightly pointing out where Paizo could do better.   I once worked for a company that had made big money in the early 80's by putting out a product at the exact right time.  No matter how badly they managed the company, they still made money hand-over-fist for years, because of their initial timing.  They got to the point though where they thought the money proved that all their bad decisions were good ones because no matter what they decided they made money.  (They were getting false positive reinforcement on bad decisions which warped their future decision making process.)

I've said before that I really hope Paizo does well as a company.  I still hope so.  But if UM is an indication of where the company is headed, then I'm afraid that they might have some hard lessons ahead.  As for me, I'm going to hold off on any more purchases until I start seeing a change.


Under the heading of "If you know so much, then you fix it", this was my first pass at a fix in an email back and forth to KEJR, trying for something more balanced that still might have similar effect:

Whether with biting remarks or hurtful words, you are adept at making creatures angry with you.

Prerequisites: Skill Focus (Intimidate) or (Diplomacy).

Benefit: You can make creatures respond to you with hostility. Antagonizing a creature takes a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.  You cannot affect a creature that does not understand you or has an Intelligence score of 3 or lower. The result of this action is dependent on which skill you have Skill Focus in.  If you have Skill Focus in both skills, you may select either effect.  In either case, the target may make a will save (DC is equal to 10 + your charisma modifier + 1/2 your hit dice). This is a mind-affecting effect. Once you have targeted a creature with this ability, you cannot target it again for 1 day.

Diplomacy: You fluster your enemy. For the next minute, the target takes a –2 penalty on all attacks rolls made against creatures other than you and has a 10% spell failure chance on all spells that do not target you or that have you within their area of effect.

Intimidate: The creature flies into a rage. On its next turn, the target must attempt to make an attack against you. (The form of the attack is of the target's choice, but will generally be typical of his type or class). The effect ends if the creature is prevented from attacking you, or attempting to do so would cause unavoidable harm to it. If it cannot attack you on its turn, you may make the check again as an immediate action to extend the effect for 1 round (but cannot extend it thereafter). The effect ends as soon as the creature makes an attack against you.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Random Quote of the Week

"All you need is love."

- John Lennon, 1967

[I had lots of things to say, but the quote stands on its own.]

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Episode in Which Things Start to Change

The episode begins when Sagitari decides to come to Team Falcon headquarters to see about switching teams.  It's late at night, because a large centaur is somewhat less conspicuous when it's dark.  (As in "Was that really a half-man-half-horse, or am I still tripping from the LSD I dropped earlier?"  or "Hey, was that a centaur?" "Who cares, we need to pull over some more brown people to ship back to Mexico when they can't produce proof of citizenship on demand!").

As it's dark, Sagitari figures TFHQ is probably locked up for the night, and attempts to break in.  And fails.  Well, he failed in that instead of quietly picking the lock, he broke off the door.  And if he had bothered to check, he would have found the door unlocked.  He encounters a tired and surly James, who calls Mister Sarcastic about a visitor.

Mister Sarcastic conducts a short interview, and then tries to figure out what to do until Agent Randall or Bob Latimore can do something more official.  Somehow the best that Mister S can come up with is to hand him off to Stephanie who is busy working on her secret project.  She gives Centauri a short tour and then leaves him to his own devices.

Centauri decides to set up shop to produce some arrows, and begins scavenging parts to construct a forge.  He apparently breaks into a local liquor store for everclear, and disassembles a mini-fridge.  In order to keep from being disturbed he wires the HQ cameras to feed to the workshop so that he can monitor for visitors.

Eventually morning breaks.  (Not Mister Sarcastic's fault!!!)  Little Max has a vision of weird goings on to occur at 645pm, and relates the information to everyone he can think to tell.  Centauri, working in the shop hears noises that he determines come from an unattached hard drive.  Being the type to jump right onto a task, he sets up a computer and plugs the drive in.  He discovers an AI on the drive that really would like to have a robot body.  He noncommittally attempts to soothe the AI's anxiety and then puts everything back how he found it.

Strobe eventually stops by TFHQ and meets Sagitari.  Agent Randall also comes by and says that he's start some paperwork.  Max continues working on synthesizing some doses of drug that Cerebro (why does that sound like the name of a geeky rapper.  "Yo! I am Cere-bro!") was trying to score.  He manages to produce some of the compound but determines that it won't have a long shelf life.  Something about the process is off.

Eventually Max divines that the 645 event will consist of a rift opening up out on the street, and a pyramid shape falling out.  And then things will become un-predictable.  The team makes limited preparations for the event, and then stands by to watch what happens.

At 645, the predicted rift opens up.  Out drops a pyramid.  And then out drops Dreamcatcher.  He is holding three silver threads (apparently connected to three souls) and wants to talk to Mister Sarcastic.  He said that he is conveying a message from The Astrologer, and that Sarcastic has to choose to either "dispatch" Mister Fantastic, or to "lose those closest to him".  The implication is that the three cords are connected to his sister, and her kids.

Mister Sarcastic tells DreamCatcher that he would like to talk directly with The Astrologer.  DreamCatcher says that S would need to act as interpreter, and that he would require a fee for doing so.  He wants a diamond made from a coal sample that he provides.  Mister S agrees to try to get the diamond made.  DreamCatcher says that he has about two weeks.

After DC departs, the team begins to discuss how they might produce the diamond.  Strobe suggests that Sun Devil, her new "friend" might be able to provide any necessary heat.  Sagitari says that he could devise a machine to produce the necessary pressure.

While the team is working on this problem, someone (Max?) notices the hard drive on Stephanie's work bench buzzing away, and points it out to the group.  The group hooks the hard drive up to a PC and begins to talk to it.  (Unbeknownst to the rest of the group, Stephanie tells the AI not to tell them that it's Beta.)  The machine says that its name is "2" while Steph says that it's "5".  This causes a great deal of excrement to begin to hit the rotating air mover all at once.  But unfortunately, Mister Sarcastic has an appointment to talk to his brother-in-law.

At the meet, S asks F whether anyone would be wanting to kill him, and whether or not he knows DreamCatcher.  Fantastic says that he's been laying low, and has no reason to think anyone would want him dead.  He says that he met DC years ago, but that no particular animosity exists between them.  Sarcastic evades questions about what's going on, but promises to update F when he knows more.  As Mrs. Fantastic comes in the door, S teleports away... a remote location where he decides to call Usurper, so see if the arrest warrant might be related to all of this.  The ever gregarious Usurper volunteers that he has no such contract out on Mister Fantastic, and that he feels the arrest warrant is sufficient for now.  Not seeming to be the type of villain who would subcontract out a matter of honor, Mister Sarcastic takes this as probably somewhere close to the truth, thanks him for his time and bids him adieu.  And then decides that he needs to tell his boss what's going on.  Unfortunately, Agent Randall is swimming laps, getting back into fighting trim.  The now wet S gives Agent Randall a run down on what's going on, and Agent Randall promises to do some research, while advising S to keep Bob in the loop. 

Sarcastic returns to HURT and talks to Bob.  During the conversation, he mentions the AI and this immediately sends the two two the workshop.  Bob and Stephanie begin to argue, and then come to tazing blows over the fate of the AI.  During the scuffle, S grabs the computer with hard drive, and teleports back to Agent Randall (and into the pool).  The water eventually shorts out enough of the drive to probably kill Beta.  S leaves the pool telling Randall that he's going to grind the drive into powder before returning it to the lab.  He leaves, back to a remote desert location where he buries the drive, and then to a store where he purchases a similar drive which he grinds to said dust, before returning to TFHQ.

Stay tuned for another exciting episode...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Life's Rules of the Week

If you are not having fun, then you are doing it wrong.

I used to think that this only counted in gaming.  I was wrong.  It applies to everything.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Advantage of a Non-Combat Character

Last night was Steve's Shackled City campaign.  I'm playing an old halfling cleric named Nathaniel Pennywhistle.  Technically Nathaniel died in Jared's Rise of the Runelords campaign, but because I was needing a new character in a pinch, I dusted him off, and Jared helped me retcon him into the world.

As an old halfling, Nathaniel has a strength (STR) of 2.  He uses muleback cords and it allows him to carry gear as though he had a much higher strength.  (I'm imagining Larry King's suspenders).  But with a STR of 2, and a DEX of 6, he's not meant to stand in any front line.  He's pretty much a pure caster.

Which brings me to last night.  After spending almost two hours hanging out with Jeff and Jared, it was game time.  And I went to get out my character sheet.  And of course, it was nowhere to be found.  I even searched my jeep, and found nada.  So I set about remaking my character while we were starting combat almost immediately.

I pretty much remembered his stats.  I knew STR 2, Dex 6, taking a 7 in each, and applying racial (+2 Cha, Dex, -2 Str) and age (-3 Str,Dex,Con, +2 Int, Wis, Cha) modifiers.  I also knew that I'd maxed out WIS, and taken 16 int, 14 charisma.  So I fiddled the numbers to bring it up to 20 build points, and I was pretty sure I at least had all of his modifiers down correctly.

Nathaniel was 4th level, and I remembered that I had taken Quick Channeling (actually Quicken Turning from 3.5, pathfinderized to channeling), and Selective Channel as his two feats.  I also remembered his traits (Dangerously Curious to give UMD as a class skill, and Warden which minimizes any ability damage).

I also remembered his domains (Knowledge, Rune(Language), and Magic(Divine)).  This gave me his domain powers (which I ended up relying on later).

All I really needed to run Nathaniel now were spells.  Since clerics simply pick the spells they want each day, and we had just finished resting,  I just went though the core spell list and picked out some spells that seemed appropriate.

I didn't bother with weapon, or armor.  I just figured that if anything swung at me, and didn't roll a 1, it would hit.  That's why I generally stay somewhere in the middle back, out of melee range.

So I was ready to roll!

As it turned out, we faced a vampire and its minions.  I provided some support with healing bursts, but our new paladin in the party had a bless effect in place, so I didn't even need to bless the party.  I thought the combat would be pretty  boring, until the fighter types brought the vampire down low, and it went into gaseous form, and then traveled right to me.

And suddenly I had something to do.  I spent a couple of rounds healing the party with my channel energy, and placing runes in the only real path the vampire would have, and spent action points to boost other party members, and rode my riding dog to chase it down.  And, I was able to help bring a vampire down, with my little non-combat support cleric.

Fun times.

Beaucoup treasure.

We all made level 5.

It was a fun Thursday.

Tonight - Homelands/Fallen Empires Draft at the Gopher!!! 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Random Thoughts

While I cannot always control what happens in my life, the one thing that I can control is how I respond.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Episode in which Mister Sarcastic tries to be nice

Team Falcon HQ is looking kind of empty this week, as Rift and Field Effect are still MIA.  Strobe is apparently trying to catch up on coursework, and is not to be seen.  Centaurii, though he has financial incentive to stop by HURT to talk to the team, has yet to show.  (Maybe he threw a shoe, and is having trouble finding a farrier?)

Mister Sarcastic appears anxious to find out why The Astrologer wants the souls of the clones, but nobody seems to be having much luck yet in gathering data.  Agent Randall counsels patience.  Mister S agrees to try.

Doctor Strasser approaches Mister S, and initiates a discussion of Stephanie's actions during the last battle.  He stresses that Stephanie reacts completely differently than he (or most humans) would, and hopes Mister S can help to keep her in line.  Mister S, deciding to volley that ball back to Strassers side of the court, suggests that the doctor meet with Steph, and educate her on the differences between their two worlds, so that each might have appropriate expectations of what the other might do in response to whatever situation might arise.  The good Doctor, having not considered that option, appears to think it a reasonable way to address the issues.

Max appears to still be figuring out how his powers work, and the comm link is behaving somewhat erratic.

Stephanie has been talking to her little hard drive friend, Beta, who desperately wants a new body.  Steph promises to try to get one for him (her? it?).   To that end, when Mister S inquires as to her activities, she professes that the team needs a robot, who can provide fire support, drive the van, etc.  While an odd request, Mister S tries to be helpful, and calls his old teammate Technomancer, so see if he can supply a robot.  Mindful of Techno's previous inventions, he's careful to specify that it not only be AI-free, but that it should actively seek and eradicate any AI that might try to invest the unit.  Technomancer, with typical abruptness agrees and ends the conversation.

Doctor Strasser,  deep in thought contemplating scenarios for approaching his discussion with Stephanie (or perhaps invading Poland), leaves HURT HQ, and is immediately hit with an intense, disabling headache.  Believing it to be a stroke, he calls for help.  Mister Sarcastic arrives, and sees that Strasser is actually under attack by a flying hyper with an oddly shaped head.  Sarcastic calls for backup, and begins his attack, with only moderate effectiveness.

Agent Randall arrives, and quickly identifies the attacker as Cerebro - a foe from days past, but with seemingly updated/enhanced abilities.  The brief fight becomes too one-sided for Cerebro, who flees the scene.

After-combat investigation reveals that Cerebro is actualy Malcolm Shaughnessy,  one of eight brothers and sisters in the Shaughnessy crime family.  Malcom is apparently addicted to a long-named chemical that enhances his powers, but will kill him if he stops taking it.  Apparently he was attacking Dr. Strasser in the hopes of forcing him to provide said pharmaceutical.

Further investigation reveals that two of Malcolm's sisters are currently serving terms in The Mesa.   The gang takes a field trip out to interview them.  With the rest of the team watching from the observation room, Mister Sarcastic enters the interrogation room to meet with the sisters. (Maureen and Meghan?) They are each older than him, and quickly point this out.  Undeterred, Mister S explains that he would like to find a way to help Malcolm out of his addiction, and that the ideal situation would be for Cerebro to leave behind a life of crime.  The sisters don't think it is possible to help their brother, and are very reluctant to become involved, lest he take revenge upon them.  The interview, and the episode ends as amicably as one could hope for with two apparently conscience-free killers.