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Monday, October 19, 2020

A Bit About Urutsk, Via Miami (FL.), and Other Places I have Been

Long rambling amble ahead...

 I have never lived in a truly urban environment, although it bordered my hometown; likewise, I have visited dozens of cities both domestic and overseas, and have done little traipsing through their streets, so all of this sounds very foreign and yet intriguing.

I have wandered on foot on vagrant paths through trash strewn camps in the woods, followed dry gullies for miles, and, simply wandered the riverbank of the German town in which I lived, pushing through hedgerows and trespassing farms all in my quest to find the unknown.

In the foreign cities I have visited, I have found that the shops and eateries, parks and waterfronts, were so completely welcoming and mundane that any of them could have been anywhere else.  However, second-tier roads, alleys, and courses along ancient walls were were the most interesting traffic flow circumstances occurred, often including sudden dead-ends and split-level via-ways that required unorthodox and frowned upon solutions to navigate (often in cars, but less frequently on foot).

In South Florida, truly urban areas of Miami and its multitude of victim neighbourhoods it has consumed, it was never long before one found oneself in dangerous territory, and one hood became so bad they razed almost all of the buildings to make certain they had Line of Sight (both from the ground and in the air) of everyone who entered its perimeter; night time presence was/is automatic suspicion of illicit activity.  Yet, fifteen minutes or less heading east, tropical/sub-tropical vegetation grows and isolated neighbourhoods or lone houses along canals dominate the landscape.  The further west one travels, the fewer and fewer structures exist until one enters a lawless expanse of green where lone convenience stores are necessarily under police observation from afar due to the rash of armed robberies.  Here, ranch style homes in the homesteading frontier are the rule, and gated community single entrance deathtraps are the exception.  Everything is green or fields of red rock backing in the sun, scores of miles of nothingness, or an equal number of miles of potential gator attacks.  Drug operations disguised as farms, hidden landing strips, regional airports with only bush pilot flights, also patrolled by DEA and local authorities.  The Keys are their own thing, pardon my (own) grammatical reflexiveness, each different and yet, key West and Miami's Coconut Grove and the Gables are more alike than the others which ar emore like Jacksonville, hundreds of miles to the north.  Tampa is not St. Pete, and nothing will prepare you for the difference between them and the desolation of sand dunes, sink holes, and suburban malaise which is Spring Hill.  ...yet, there are Mermaids nearby, and to see Gulf Dolphins swimming on their sides miles inland at Jenkin's Creek at sunset driving fish ashore for feeding time...nothing can compare (except what I have seen on TV of the Amazon river).

In my hometown, there were many abandoned golf courses, failed construction projects, dump sites for the same, and the whole of South Florida was once a military zone, complete with abandoned outposts, tarmac overgrown with vines and grass, and, many, many trails listed as belonging to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Even within Miami proper, there are the causeways leading to Miami Beach, and each of the neighbourhoods between them, as well as on either side (not to mention the island communities in Biscayne Bay) are different enough to be the subject of travel show episodes or tour guide books, and some have.  The food, music, culture, street art, pace of life, tolerance of interlopers, and the surprise of an admission of, 'just getting to know the city better, I'm from Hialeah/Miami Springs/etc.', hearing how many of them have been born in foreign lands, but since arrival and integration to their neighbourhood, they have travelled no further but have heard of the other side of the city, or seen it on an episode of a TV show...

Contrasted with Toronto's downtown, waterfront, suburbs, and 'nearby attractions' reached after an hour at 88 kph, Miami, Gainesville, or even, Jacksonville, are like different planets within Traveller's Third Imperium.  Tel Aviv was more like Miami Beach with Bauhaus architecture rather than Art Deco, and the outer portion of Jerusalem reminded me of Berlin, while the interior of the old city was like portions of Istanbul or Greece I had earlier visited, and as a result felt very homey and familiar.  Toronto's homeless population at the time I visited was literally enough to trip one up on the sidewalks, and depressing as hell to see a family huddled on a steam grate under a star wars blanket while other whites were completely blind to them.  Contrasted to Venice' canals with poop floating onto flooded doorways and lots of shouting between buildings, the crowded St. mark's plaza was a wonderful chaos of life, the grey people of grey city living grey lives in Toronto was bewildering (although I do love Victoria Park).  Chicutimi or however it is, was so much more vibrant and inviting (if somewhat Ithiqua-Lovecraftian); the old settlement tourist destination in which I intentionally seperated myself from my folks, and then nearly died by falling over a short wall at the edge of a hundred+ foot cliff, all of that is part of Urutsk, too.

Alright I have stop here for now.
If you are a Torontonian and feel wronged, please feel free to leave a comment, I'd love to enter into polite dialogue; and, beware the domestic cat-sized Black Squirrels.  :D

Friday, August 14, 2020

So, what's up with this ARGUS reboot? & Other Stuff (including health references)

Current situation

I have a very talented artist producing colour faction iconics, but since he has a very serious real-life job, and I only have monthly funds from which to pay him, that front is steady, and not likely to outpace my sporadic writing and technical illustrations and layout and editing as I go -- routine.

There is a particular section, one which requires setting-specific character background tags, which stymies forward progress in finishing a particular step in char-gen, or building, or both/either.  Fortunately,I can skip past that and introduce other portions of the text, but I've been gnawing away at that and therefore not making progress in the writing.

Instead, I have been using a freeware CAD lite program to illustrate the primary faction military arms, which are essential to PCs, as this first product is explicitly from the PoV of this faction.  I'm likely to import these images into a raster programme to enhance the colours and fill areas which the CAD doesn't recognise as a shape, but rather, a collection of lines.

I generally get to run this once a week over Discord, and a wayward player may be rejoining us after a couple of months off.  They do much more setting-effery than mechanics testing, but that may simply be the thing that kids do these days, dunno.


Other stuff

Recovered a copy of my 'award winning novella' from a site that had been out of commission for years, and my mom is urging me to get back to that and expand it or simply publish it and get on with actually writing Urutsk' grand cycle.  Considering my age and general health, not a bad idea; it'd be kinda bittersweet to sign off thinking of my unpublished Magnum Opus I've talked about so much.  Here's to the hope for that I do get to it before too late.

I participated in a Harnworld seminar at GenCon 2020 online, and also played in a Morrow Project 4e game while suffering from disabling allergy symptoms.  I had also been playing Jessica Jones in an online ICONS game with reprobates from G+/MeWe, and I think I won the internet when I played Frank Castle in the finale and had him urge a ghostlike baddie to kill him so he could spend time with his dead family; still, playing Jessica was a lot of fun, and Mothmaiden the GM (not her handle) ran a fun campaign with decent RP moments.  Oh, yeah, imagine Jessica Jones paired up with Dazzler, it was priceless.

Let's see, I've recently received my HarnMaster Deluxe 3rd Edition books in print, and added them to my zipper binder.  I'm waiting on Fading Suns, Dark Matter, MetAlpha Warden, and a clay monster maker game from KS.  I found the Legendary Games' Forest Kingdom Compendium pdf and then purchased the hardback new: gorgeous and well worthy of mention.  It, as another poster wrote, and the 5e PHB are all that are necessary for a long campaign in that sort of setting.  It also pairs up thematically with my Harn and The Green Knight focus.

A24 movies, such as Midsommar, and, The Vvitch, have produced a beautifully boxed starter style FRPG with wonderful production value, and a very solid system -- but hobbled by the strict adherence to what I suppose will be the movie's narrative structure and philosophy.  I plan to spend some time liberating it from the hardwired railroad encounter system which penalises PCs for mandatory encounters and then hard-codes specific outcomes.  The end-state of three addressed outcomes of the boss fight do not permit future play with the same PCs, and there is no evidence they plan to support the game with future, freer scenarios or anything else, but this is 202, so, who knows?

If the Coof weren't screwing everything up, I could conceivably actually see a Dr. about this and other health issues, but this one is my daily antagonist); when I was smoking on a daily basis I don't think I was ever this bad off, but perhaps that is what led to the current situation.  Oh, I've been smoke-free for years now, btw, for anyone who knew me for a while.  Now I drink Kombucha 2x a day; crazy, I know.

OK, that's it for now, or is it? <eerie music>

A24's The Green Knight boxed RPG set

 A24's The Green Knight boxed RPG set

#rpgreview

[I am re-printing this from my MeWe timeline]

After having read the core adventure of The Green Knight, I wonder if I will enjoy the movie as much as I had hoped.

Not only are the choices and rules structure constructed to disadvantage PCs, with automatic Dishonour resulting from mandatory encounters, but the boss fight outcomes are ... ideologically-loaded propositions which do not seem to permit continued play with the same characters. The three 'scenario outlines' after the conclusion are not only allusions/overt advertisements/in-jokes regarding other A24 movies, but I can't imagine they will produce [them] as future products.

Mechanically, I think there is a good deal of merit to the structure of the TGK, and the Classes' abilities definitely play well into the conceit of the Honour/Dishonour system -- that's all good, but the scenarios' H/D ratings are definitely questionable by my outlook, and may brand me as more of a misanthrope than I would like to imagine. These encounters' metrics would be hard-pressed to win general accord, especially from the more aggressive OSR crowd. I briefly thought of codifying them in one place for a 'rules compendium' document, but am waffling on the idea for the reason I have stated above.

So, what is my current analysis of A24's The Green Knight?

It is a playable, expandable, marketing gimmick likely created just as merch with no plans to support, and yet it is playable, expandable, and is worthy of attention.

Plus, the box construction with the insert is the new standard IMO, and the d20 (and you know i don't like d20s) is gorgeous.

Perhaps expansion articles to precede a contemporary Clone so that its strengths can be maximised while liberating it from the narrative philosophy of the movie are necessary.

[][][*][/][] 3.5 Stars of 5

P.S. I am more likely than not to collect the H/D ratings from the essential mini-campaign, so that some work can be done on this otherwise fine system.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

2020! Amirite?

One would think that if the zombies or space rocks don't wipe us out, I may have something to show by 2021, as the end of this year is unlikely for a release, but one never knows.

If I'm smart, I may yet this year release a freebie or a short whatsit.

Who can say?

Saturday, February 15, 2020

ARGUS reborn & Urutsk: Worlds of Mystery update

ARGUS Alternate Reality Games Universal System

One set of Attributes, Abilities, and Skill Spheres, one Combat and Damage system, many ways to achieve the goal of entertaining players with detailed characters and settings, or, you know, wrecking stuff and partying until the next adventure, as you prefer.

* Fantasy Build: gods and magic, blood and steel, clash to win freedom on an alien Earth.
This establishes important prologue elements to Urutsk.

3d6 (or d20) based system


* Tech Build: from '90s techno-thrillers to system space cybernetics, long live the new flesh.
Exists in both precursor time periods and later in the Urutsk chronicle.

0-10 dice pair or 1d10 based system


URITSK: Worlds of Mystery

Using ARGUS to bring the grand setting to life: Pre-Imperial stellar picaresque rogues trying to turn a profit, to the establishment of the Sphere of Stars and its effects on the galaxy, to the aftermath of the Starshock -- in particular upon a cool wetlands world on what was the periphery of the then galaxy, through four distinct Grand Seasons of the decline and rise of the Vrun back to their rightful place among the (remaining) stars.  But, the setting is far more complex than that, with conspiracies, lost histories, and a largely invisible war fought across parallel worlds, alternate timelines, and hidden realms through which mind-bending horrors swim, only dimly aware of puny mortals.

Percentile system


Other ARGUS builds dedicated to genres I love are back burner material for now, but, given the time an opportunity, I hope to bring them to you as well.

Oh, yeah, when?

Fantasy Build is the first to be released, and then likely Tech build, as they help establish the core elements of Urutsk.  I am running Tech Build weekly and writing Fantasy Build daily.  2019 was the 10th anniversary of the two slim volumes release, but I simply wasn't able to release anything last year; I hope to make 2020 the year.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Another Quick Update

Even one of my Sunday gamers commented that I haven't posted here for a while...

Other Stuff:

Formatting the text of my Sci-Fi Homage Game.
Drawing a bit for it.

UWoM:

Still trying to figure out the Characters Without Class XP cost ... if I don't get something for it soon, it will not be included in the main rules.

Writing the chargen order of operations with the character sheet in mind to guide players through the first time.

Additionally, hoping/planning to create a least one pre-gen for each Class.

Starship stuff still needs a finishing bit of work.

I may actually get the Homage game out by the end of '19, but, I think UWoM won't be out before '20.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Confessions of a Reverse Dungeon GM

The Monsters have Unionised and are willing to let Adventurers ransack the place unless management improves workers' conditions and pay. See, Monsters can't go into town for essential services, becoming dependent upon the Owner of the Dungeon to provide fodder, healthcare, ongoing education, childcare, etc.

Since most Dungeon Owners and their despotic Mangers at best neglect their Monsters, and at worst abandon them to the mercies of Reaction Chart Old School (drop loot and food to avoid combat) or Kill-'Em-All Hack-n-Slashers (who don't even get a name until 3rd level), it has become increasingly necessary for monsters to band together despite natural antipathies brought about over competition for resources (Monster on Monster crime has been an under reported aspect of Commercially Operated Dungeons for decades, if not centuries).

Is it any wonder that while many Adventurers have become softer-hearted, and some Monsters have found a soapbox from which to decry their oppression (workplace injury rates for Monsters do not take into account wounds or fatalities caused by Adventurers), Dungeon Owners are switching to a Monstrous Dungeon model, where a living macroorganism (Giant Mimic disguised as a Dungeon) is purchased from Skunkwork Wizardry sites and replaces the need for construction crews and Monster employees. The Dungeon-Monster simply grows as it is fed, with the occasional stocking of trinkets is performed by off-site service contract personnel (often Humanoid, or even Demi-Human or Human veterans unable to adjust to commoner life after all of the killing).

Dungeon Politics is a complex, multi-sided issue, but one thing is certain, Dungeon Owners are getting something out of the cycle which cannot easily be sussed out; if it isn't money, what is the draw?