Cthulhu Can

Dogs in the Vineyard is Brilliant

Last monday I played in a game of Dogs in the Vineyard. This game is fucken awesome!

My character is  Brother Ezekiel. As part of his initiation he failed to prove to himself that the mountain people (Native Americans) are not strong in their Faith. He was an orphan and was contacted by his blood relations (mountain people) to return back home, help look after them and abandon the Faith that nutured him into the man he has become. His belief in the Word of the Book of Life was challenged and he was tempted by them to leave the faith. He finally refused but his belief that the mountain people could be redeemed in the eyes of the King of Faith was destroyed. (As part of the fallout for that conflict I took a Trait that The Mountain People can never be set on the true path of Faith and also added further complication to the fact that he is of the Mountain Peoples blood)

After that we vistited a town that was under the influence of a sorcerous old woman who had formed a Cult and was practicing false doctrine. The Dogs eventually got her to repent her sins but she managed to challenge further Brother Ezekiel's belief in the Words of the Book of Life. He took another trait that the Love and minds of man can be more powerful than the Words of the King of life.

It was quite interesting that he started as being quite dogmatic (sorry no pun intended) however the first two conflicts he was in had shaken his beliefs to their very core.

Its really great the way that the conflicts in this game actually shape your character. You really end up striving to fail often as that is the way you develop your character.

Cthulhu Can

SotC - Professor Vortex Man from Tomorrow

Here is a character made up for Spirit of the Century which hopefully will be played this weekend! Bonus points for recognising the source of his likeness.

He Appeared in the trenches of WWI and was hit in the head by a stray bullet. He was taken in as an Prisoner of War by the allied forces, as he was babelling incoherently they mistook him for a german. The wound had given him amnesia! He doesnt know who he is but found he had a knack for electronics.

The War
His stay in the Prisoner of War camp taught him to survive on very little food, in fact he found he could survive on next to nothing except cigarettes and water. Having limited access to components he found he could make gadgets with pretty much whatever was on hand at the time, even though often it was only good for one use. He came under the tuteledge of Alan Shakespeare who recognised his uncanny abilities and made him an honoury member of the century club. He was encouraged to stage an escape attempt but unfortunately Alan was lost in the tunnels and never found again. It was fortunate that Alan was rich and left everything he owned to Professor Vortex.

Professor Vortex and the Ant Headed Humanoids from Mercury
The Professor's uncanny knack for technology soon attracted the attention of the Ant Headed Slavers from Mercury who wished to use his Brilliant Mind to rescue their bloated queen from the Mercurian Gorethrax. He managed to rescue the queen and was rewarded by being Betrothed to the queen, the only way in mercurian law to release him from his engagement was by death however a brilliant Planetary Lawyer rescued him with a loop hole in earth marriage law.

Quincy Wild vs The Mutant Banditos guest starring Professor Vortex.
Professor Vortex is was investigating a source of the rare mineral Immaterialium in the deserts of the American South West when he is beset upon by a group of Mutant Banditos who seek to use his know how to break into Quincy Wild's munitiioiins warehouse.

Shotgun Suzie vs Turkish Delight and guest starring Professor Vortex
To stop the Turkish Delights mobile train fortress Suzie visits the professor in his secret Alpine Labratory to borrow him and his Radiomatic Wrench to derail Turkish Delights evil plot.

Radiomatic Wrench
The Radiomatic Wrench is a highly customisable gadget that basically can be used to achieve anything under the rules of the Universal Gadget Stunt


Man from Tomorrow
Who Am I Really?
Machine Whisperer
Can live off cigarettes
Upsets Aliens
Mad as a Cut Snake
Coveted Science
Escape Gone Awry!
My Handy Radiomatic Wrench
Lets Hideout in my Secret Alpine Labratory

Engineering - Resources
Academics -  Empathy - Pilot
Mysteries - Athletics - Alertness - Contacting
Drive - Investigation - Rapport - Resolve - Survival

Universal Gadget
Scientific Genius - Physics
Theory in Practice
Scientific Invention
Weird Science

Cthulhu Can

Me Want!

Just to remind myself these are the RPGs I would like to purchase - The list isn't exhaustive.

I can only afford one at the moment which will it be?

Spirit of the Century
Dont Rest Your Head
Burning Wheel
Dogs in the Vineyard

At the moment I am favouring Spirit of the Century and Lacuna Pt 1, but then i just said i can only afford one.

I hope there is one of these at Cancon as I am allowed one thing from Cancon and one thing from indiepressrevolution.
Cthulhu Can

Ars Magica Magi Herbal Highs

My character in Andy's game is going to be a crazed hippy Merinita who uses psychedelic herbs to help fuel his magic. Here is some info i lifted from Erowid

Native European Drugs

Belladonna is a 1-2 meter tall perennial herb that produces small red to black berries. These berries contain atropine, scopolomine and hyoscyamine and have a long history of use as a medicinal, poisonous, and ceremonial herb.

Ergot is a fungus that infects cereal grains, replacing kernels of the fruit with small black masses of mycelium. It produces ergotamine, a potent vasoconstrictor and precursor to LSD. Ergot poisoning (St Anthony's Fire) causes hallucinations, gangrenous loss of limbs, and death. Outbreaks plagued medieval Europe and were associated with witchcraft and the Inquisition.

Henbane is a biennial herb growing up to 1 meter that produces veined yellow flowers and large quantities of seeds. All parts of the plant contain scopolamine, atropine, and hyoscyamine and can be deadly poisonous.

Mandrake is a low perennial herb growing up to 30 cm high with yellow berries. It grows from a thick forked root which is known for sometimes resembling a human form. All parts of the plant contain hyoscyamine and scopolamine and can easily cause death by respiratory paralysis. It has a long history of medicinal and magical use in Europe.

Wormwood is a silvery-green perennial herb growing up to 1.5 meters tall which contains the volatile oil thujone. It is added to distilled ethanol to create absinthe. Its effects alone are not well understood.

Middle Eastern Drugs

These are here because I think they would be available just not easily obtained.

Cannabis, a fast-growing bushy annual with dense sticky flowers, produces the psychoactive THC. It is the most widely used illegal psychoactive and has a long history of medicinal, recreational, and industrial use. The fibrous stalks of the plant are used to produce clothing and rope.

Syrian Rue is a perennial shrub with fleshy spikey-looking leaves, growing up to 1 meter tall. Its small, brown seeds contains harmine and other harmala alkaloids. It is one of the plants speculated to be the Soma or Haoma of ancient Persia.

Opium Poppy is a annual that with brilliant white or red flowers growing on a central bulbous pod. When scratched, the pod produces a milkly latex called opium. This latex contains a variety of opiates including codeine and morphine. It has a long history of use in Asia and Europe.
Cthulhu Can

The End of a Chapter

On Sunday I drew my current Arcana Evolved game to a close. My intention from this game was to ignite conflict between the Giants and the Dragons of that setting. However the torch I used I only lit I stopped short at lighting the fire. I did this deliberately to have what happened next undefined, let people think of their own endings. Hopefully one of the players may be inspired to explore this conflict by running their own game. Here is what happened.

The game mainly took place in Serathis(detailed in Ruins of Intrigue). The group had recovered an ancient powerful artifact called a Tenebrian Seed. The Dragons had many millenia ago used them to create the Dramojh a twisted nightmare fusion of Demon and Dragon. This particular Tenebrian Seed was used to create the first Dramojh with the Black Cyst located in Serathis. It was the first generation of Dramojh who created Serathis. As you can imagine everyone cant trust each other to possess the Seed so conflict is inevitable.

The culmination ended with a cult who claimed they wanted to destroy the Seed and the Black Cyst to prevent the Dramojh being recreated, A leader of the Giants in Serathis who wants to study the Cyst to further her own research, party members who want it destroyed, party members who think it could empower humankind to take control of the Lands of the Diamond Throne and who knows what else.

I can think of a number of different agendas beyond those above to do with this artifact and I am keen to explore them in play. This is however an experiment to empower all members of a gaming group to have a say in the plot and story beyond that of myself as the original GM.

Lets see what happens, if anything at all.
Cthulhu Can

Shared Setting and Agenda's

I'm interested in the concept of disempowering the Game Masters' position on dictating setting and story. That is not to say it should be removed, more redistributed. I think all players of a game should have equal input into defining the elements of Exploration. I have been harbouring these thoughts for a while.

However today I took a step towards possibly articulating and defining a methodology for facilitating play to examine these ideas. It took the form of an email I sent to a friend. here is the bulk of those articulations...

I just had a thought that it would be cool to have a core group of gamers who develop a host of characters based in a city or some such environment. The group would define various factions in the city and then play out various interactions between the groups with one person taking the role of the antagonist (ie the DM) and the rest being protagonists. The group wouldn't have a dedicated DM but would take it in turns "exploring" the issues around those characters.

One adventure might explore what happens to a patrol of the City Guard on one night. Another might be based around a cult trying to assassinate the leader of a church. another might be a merchant faction trying to establish a monopoly on dragon scales.

This is more or less an evolution of the Maralith Arms campaign i proposed the concept of earlier this year just with a broader scope

I might even pitch the Eberron game along these lines, I dunno, I have plenty of time to think it through.
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Cthulhu Can

Character Backgrounds

I belted out a concept for an Ars Magica companion I will run probably next year. I had a fairly defined list of circumstances in the concept that was to have/will happen to them. The story guide made a good point in that it will make the character more interesting to play the events in the background out in game as the campaign progresses. What a simple and excellent idea.

I have seen backgrounds for other peoples characters and alot of the time all the cool stuff has happened to the character already. There are quite a few arguments I can see for playing out these events in game.

  • All the cool stuff has already happened to the character

  • This makes it difficult for the GM to "live up" to the cool stuff that has happened in the background

  • often the background has no indication as to where the player wants the back story to develop next

  • Its more fun to play out those events

  • It gives you time to react to the events differently as you are continually developing the character further during the game

I think when developing characters the players should submit to the GM a plan of where they want the character to end up as play progresses as opposed to submitting a detailed and rich back story where basically as the game begins the character has already lived a full and enriched life.
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D&D Firearms

Ahh firearms rules right under my nose in the DMG on page 145. They are simple enough for me to incorporate. Not OGL though :(

Someone has also kindly added rules for firearms on the WOTC boards too - Custom Firearms although I think I am going to stick with the simple DMG version.

Someone on the boards mentioned that it takes longer than a standard action to reload a firearm which I agree with however I am just going to keep them as written. I don't want to house rule too much stuff for this game.
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Ideas from GUMSHOE

Esoterorists Sample

This is an excellent snap shot of looking at issues with the old Call of Cthulhu method of investigation. As this will probably relate to my Eberron game the d20 system will be used.

The main premise in the sample is that there are degrees of success, the d20 skill system already supports this. Incorporating these ideas will come down to scenario design where you allow the degrees of success to reveal more and more clues and information to help solve the mystery.