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HALF-TOLD STORIES Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "sean_tait" journal:

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November 29th, 2007
11:26 am

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Bender's Big Score
I would just like to brag that I figured out the big twist with Lars in the very first scene he appears in... which made David Cohen's pointing out of the hints in the commentary pretty funny.

So... I barely ever update here, but that doesn't mean I'm not writing and posting. I'm on the Eden Studios ezboards and the UniFans.org fansite (as Gwalchbach and Gaelbach respectively) where I've been doing game stats for "The Authority" and "The Venture Brothers" as well as "Pirates of the Caribbean"-style monsters and spells. RPG crap seems to be where my strongest talents lie; too bad it doesn't pay.

And my computer seems to hate LiveJournal, even though it's running fine otherwise.

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September 27th, 2007
10:33 am

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It's been 14 weeks since my last post...
We got the computer fixed, but I've been having trouble with LiveJournal. It crashes and loses my post everytime I try to save something...

The picture is of my new cat, Torako ("little tiger" or "tiger cub" in Japanese). We got him about a month ago and we'll probably be getting rid of him soon. He's a darling, but our old cat hates him and my wife's stressed out from dividing her time between two cats. My first loyalty has to be to Myrmeen and Robin, so I'll probably have to give him up.

I'm going to miss him, even though he thinks my hair is a plaything.

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June 14th, 2007
11:48 am

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I... LIVE... AGAIN!
Not that anybody reads this journal, but I am still alive. My computer got a virus from downloading free D&D crap and my new anti-virus software makes my computer incredibly slow (I'm on dial-up and I need more RAM).

I really, really like "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." If you can't follow the twists and turns, then you're an idiot. It isn't that challenging.

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March 15th, 2007
04:55 pm

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PREPARE FOR ORGY!
I just can’t stay on a schedule.

We saw “300” yesterday. Like the comic book it so closely copies, it is frequently ahistorical and (probably subconsciously) bigoted. The philosophic underpinnings of the work are, frankly, a mess. Nonetheless, I was on the edge of my seat with excitement the whole film. It’s just so gorgeous, violent, and sexy… I now have a big man-crush on Spartan Legolas (if you’ve seen the film, I think you can guess who I mean, and it’s not Faramir).

(You know, the last movie I enjoyed this much was “Casino Royale,” which shares much of the same flaws and philosophy. I must admit that at a visceral level I am an unreformed male.)

“Sexy” is an important adjective in describing “300.” Like “Sin City,” the film wallows in… unconventional… sexuality (though, unlike “Sin City,” the most extreme of the non-conformists are not the protagonists). During the love scene between King Leonidas and Queen Gorgo (preceded by a bare-ass panorama of Gerard Butler) there is much bare-breastedness and what is undoubtedly doggy-style lovin’ (not approved by Jesus last time a Christian authority spoke), but the sex really takes off when the villains are on the screen. The temptation of Ephialtes is lushly freakish. When the credits include roles for “Armless Concubine” and three different transsexuals, then you know you’ve just seen a hard “R.”

So I’m amazed there were so many families with prepubescent boys and tweenaged girls in attendance. I hope that a lot of dads who insisted on going to the movie they insisted on had long, uncomfortable talks with their children and wives afterwards.

Bwah-ha-ha!

Anyway, I’ve mainly been working on game materials and most of what I’ve actually typed has been race and class conversions from AD&D 2nd Edition to Cinematic Unisystem. Because I still need to work on class conversions, I’m going to post the racial qualities I created. The attribute limits are taken from C.J. Carella’s unofficial conversion guide (and I’m going to have to tweak them further because dwarves just plain aren’t stronger than humans), but the rest is essentially mine. I wish I had more genuine writing to display, but I’m trying to create a situation where the work I do now will make it easier to do real writing in the future. My goal is to get the conversion ruleset in place so I can then start stealing the world-building materials (the hardest part of any game, especially given the way mine sprawl out of control) from all of the dozens of Forgotten Realms books I received out of storage.

Anyway (again), here it is.

THE STANDARD RACES

Dwarf – 5 Point Racial Quality

Dwarves are a race of grumpy (and occasionally sneezy but rarely dopey) short hairy people that look like miniaturized versions of Brian Blessed or John Rhys-Davies. They enjoy mining for precious metals, smithing precious metals into weapons, and killing orcs with weapons made of precious metals.

Dwarves gain a Constitution bonus of +1. They possess the Qualities Long-Lived, Resistance: Magic +1, Resistance: Poison (and Alcohol) +1, and Supernatural Senses (Nightvision) allowing them to see in near-darkness without range penalties up to 60,’ but also receive the Drawbacks Charisma -2 and Short. Their initial languages can include common, dwarf, gnome, goblin, hobgoblin, kobold and orc. They have a +2 Knack in Craft to analyze mines and stonework to detect the depth underground, grade or slope in the passage, new passage or tunnel construction, shifting or sliding rooms or walls, and stonework deadfalls, pits, and traps.

Dwarves can take up to 3 levels of the Age Quality and are prime candidates for the Drawbacks Addiction (Heavy Drinking and Smoking), Covetous: Greedy, Humorless, and Paranoid.

Attribute Maximums: Str 8, Dex 5, Con 8, Int 6, Per 6, Wil 6.

Elf – 7 Point Racial Quality

Elves are a race of beautiful, sexually ambiguous immortals with pointy ears played by rock star’s daughters and hot, hot Brits. They enjoy composing poetry and songs, frolicking in the woods, and killing orcs.

Elves gain a Dexterity bonus of +1 but suffer a Constitution penalty of -1. They possess the Qualities Attractiveness +1, Immortal, Resistance: Mind-Control and Sleep Magic +2, and Supernatural Senses (Nightvision) allowing them to see in near-darkness without range penalties up to 60.’ Their initial languages can include common, elf, gnoll, gnome, goblin, halfling, hobgoblin, and orc. They gain the following Knacks:
Melee: +1 when using a long or short sword
Missile: +1 when using a long or short bow
Notice: +1 to spot concealed and hidden doors
Stealth: +1 when unencumbered by metal armor and accompanied only by elves, half-
elves, or Halflings.

Elves can take up to 10 levels of the Age Quality (though they’re usually sick to death of humans by that point and sail off to Elf Florida as soon as they can) and frequently possess Iron Mind.

Attribute Maximums: Str 5, Dex 8, Con 5, Int 8, Per 8, Wil 8.

Gnome – 5 Point Racial Quality

Gnomes live in well-kept (yet oddly tacky) gardens where they dispense travel advice. They enjoy cavorting with bunnies, casting illusion spells, and killing goblins and kobolds because they can only reach orcs’ knees.

Gnomes gain an Intelligence bonus of +1 but they’re kind of dense and also suffer a Perception penalty of -1. They possess the Qualities Long-Lived, Resistance: Magic +1, and Supernatural Senses (Nightvision) allowing them to see in near-darkness without range penalties up to 60,’ but also receive the Drawback Short. Their initial languages can include common, dwarf, gnome, goblin, halfling, kobold and small burrowing mammal (seriously; they can talk to badgers, bunnies, weasels, etc.). They have a +2 Knack in Craft to analyze mines and stonework to detect the depth underground, grade or slope in the passage, new passage or tunnel construction, shifting or sliding rooms or walls, and stonework deadfalls, pits, and traps. They also have a +2 Knack in Occultism for casting illusion spells.

Gnomes can take up to 3 levels of the Age Quality and frequently suffer from the Drawbacks Clown and Misfit. Nobody likes gnomes because they weren’t in The Lord of the Rings.

Attribute Maximums: Str 4, Dex 6, Con 7, Int 7, Per 6, Wil 6.

Half-Elf – 5 Point Racial Quality

Half-elves are the children of unions between elves and humans (apparently elves aren’t cross-fertile with dwarves and halflings) and are usually more rugged or voluptuous in their sexiness than their elfin parent. They enjoy composing poetry and songs about their pain and loneliness as half-breeds, contemplating their pain and loneliness in forest glades, and taking out their pain and loneliness on orcs.

Half-elves don’t gain any Attribute bonuses or penalties. They possess the Qualities Attractiveness +1, Long-Lived, Resistance: Mind-Control and Sleep Magic +1, and Supernatural Senses (Nightvision) allowing them to see in near-darkness without range penalties up to 60.’ Their initial languages can include common, elf, gnoll, gnome, goblin, halfling, hobgoblin, and orc. They gain the following Knacks:
Notice: +1 to spot concealed and hidden doors
Stealth: +1 when unencumbered by metal armor and accompanied only by elves, half-elves, or Halflings.

Half-elves are typically conceived as loners, torn between their dual natures, destined to outlive all their human friends and family but pass away in an eyeblink compared to their inevitable elven lovers. They can take up to 5 levels of the Age Quality and are predisposed to the Drawbacks Emotional Problems: Fear of Commitment or Fear of Rejection, Humorless, Misfit, and Tragic Love.

Attribute Maximums: Str 6, Dex 7, Con 5, Int 7, Per 6, Wil 6.

Halfling – 5 Point Racial Quality

Halflings (or Hobbits, as they’re called when you don’t have to worry about copyright infringement) are short, jolly people who smoke a lot of (pipe)weed and suffer constantly from the munchies. Somehow they wind up getting dragged out on adventures all the time, even though they’re comparatively useless. They’re the Shaggies and Scoobies of fantasy. And they don’t hate orcs so much.

Halflings gain a Dexterity bonus of +1 and suffer a Strength penalty of -1. They possess the Qualities Resistance: Magic +1, Resistance: Poison (and Alcohol) +1, and Supernatural Senses (Nightvision) allowing them to see in near-darkness without range penalties up to 30,’ but also receive the Drawback Short. Their initial languages can include common, dwarf, elf, gnome, goblin, halfling, and orc. They have a +1 Knack in Missile for slings and throwing weapons and a +1 Knack in Notice to tell whether an underground passage is sloping up or down.

Halflings can take 1 level of the Age Quality, but then they’ll be really, really old even for a halfling. They frequently possess the Drawbacks Addiction (Heavy Drinking and Smoking), Clown, and Covetous: Greedy.

Attribute Maximums: Str 3, Dex 9, Con 7, Int 6, Per 6, Wil 6.

Human – 0 Point Racial Quality

If you are reading this, then you are a human. I hope you know what special powers humans have: none. Humans do occasionally breed with orcs.

Cast Member Humans can’t take any levels of the Age Quality without special dispensation. They are more likely to possess Psionics than most other races.

Attribute Maximums:* Str 6, Dex 6, Con 6, Int 6, Per 6, Wil 6.
*Fantasy hero humans can exceed 6 in one Attribute chosen during creation.

NON-STANDARD RACES (Require Director Approval)

Drow – 12 Point Racial Quality

Drow are the Gothic-Punk bad boys and girls of fantasy. Dressed in black leather and
silver chain mail, these dark-skinned subterranean elves like to hang out in BD/S&M clubs and bitch about their surface-world cousins. They’re sexy, but they’re seriously messed up.

Drow gain a Dexterity bonus of +1 (and can have a score up to 7) but suffer a Constitution penalty of -1. They possess the Qualities Attractiveness +1, Immortal, Resistance: Magic +5, and Supernatural Senses (Nightvision) allowing them to see in near-darkness without range penalties up to 120’ (suck it, surface-dwellers!) Their initial languages can include common, drow, duergar, dwarf, elf, gnome, goblin, hobgoblin, illithid, orc, svirfneblin, and Undercommon (the hand-signals and pidgin trade “language” of the Underdark). They gain the following Knacks: Melee: +1 when using a long or short sword; Missile: +1 when using a drow crossbow; Notice: +1 to spot concealed and hidden doors; Stealth: +1 when unencumbered by metal armor and accompanied only by elves, half-elves, or Halflings.

All drow also receive 1 level of Sorcery, but instead of Telekinesis, they receive the following innate, spell-like abilities which can all only be used once per day:
Dancing Lights – The caster conjures 1 to 4 (depending on the caster’s will) will o’ the wisp-like gouts of mystic flame that burn harmlessly and cast weak, lantern-like glows up to 40’ away. The effect lasts 2 minutes per success level.
Faerie Fire – Similar to the above, but the harmless flame is designated at a specific target which is then outlined by a nimbus of pale light. In darkness or twilight conditions, this then grants +1 to hit that target. This effect lasts 4 minutes per success level. Even magical darkness (such as the spell below) will not hide the target.
Sphere of Darkness – Just like the name says, this creates a sphere of impenetrable magical darkness at any point within the caster’s line of sight at a distance of up to 10’ per success level. It lasts for 10 minutes plus 1 minute per success level. The default radius for the sphere is 15,’ but can be decreased according to the whim of the caster or increased by trading off distance or duration at a ratio of 1 success level’s worth for 5’ of radius.

Drow are very sensitive to bright lights, and suffer a -2 penalty to all rolls when in the presence of sunlight or magical light spells, but not fire. They’re also all raised to be sociopaths and suffer from the Drawbacks Antisocial Impulses: Cruelty (Serious) and Deceit (Serious).

Drow can take up to 8 levels of the Age Quality (they don’t live as long as regular elves). Most drow females are priestesses of the dark goddess Lolth, and have the Zealot Drawback. In most drow cities, being male gets you the Minority Drawback.
Cast Member Drow working alongside the “good races” of the surface world will either have to buy off their Antisocial Impulses – thereby raising the cost of the Quality to 16 points – or trade off the Antisocial Impulses for other Drawbacks. Minority (-1) and Bad Reputation (-3) would do the trick. So would taking Adversary (The Entire Drow Race) at -4, the usual fate of all who flee the dark.

Drow Aristocrat – 15 Point Racial Quality

As above, but they also gain Religion +1, Resources +1, and the additional once-per-day spell-like abilities Levitate (20 yards & 1 minute per success level) and Detect Magic (within a 60’ radius for 1 minute per success level).

Attribute Maximums: Str 5, Dex 8, Con 5, Int 8, Per 8, Wil 8.

Half-Ogre – 3 Point Racial Quality

Forget “Shrek.” Ogres are cannibalistic, gigantic (but not quite Giant), and painfully stupid humanoids with a bad habit of pillaging outlying settlements. Occasionally their raids result in the birth of half-human hybrids.

Half-ogres gain a Strength and Constitution bonus of +2 each, but also suffer a -1 penalty to Intelligence. They receive 2 bonus levels of the Quality Hard to Kill in addition to any levels granted by an Occupational Quality, but they suffer from the Drawback Supernatural Form (Definitely Not Human) -- which translates as Attractiveness -2 -- and Charisma -2 on top of that. They’re at -2 to hit Short creatures because of their size. Their initial languages can include common, gnoll, ogre, orc, troll, and stone giant.

Half-ogres don’t live long enough for the Age Quality. They’ve really got very little going for them. Being a half-ogre barely doesn’t count as a Drawback.

Half-Ogre Ability Maximums: Str 9, Dex 5, Con 9, Int 4, Per 5, Wil 4.

Half-Orc – 2 Point Racial Quality

The scions of orcs and hapless humans, half-orcs are usually just barely human-enough to pass in regular civilization. They usually live on the fringes as thieves and thugs, despised by everybody.

Half-orcs gain a Strength and Constitution bonus of +1 (something about the mixed heritage makes them hardier than humans or orcs). They possess the Quality Supernatural Senses (Nightvision) allowing them to see in near-darkness without range penalties up to 60,’ but also receive the Drawbacks Attractiveness -1, Charisma -1, and Minority. Their initial languages can include common, goblin, hobgoblin, ogre, and orc.

Half-orcs don’t live long enough to qualify for the Age Quality. They’re apt to suffer from all sorts of Emotional and Mental Problem Drawbacks.

Attribute Maximums: Str 8, Dex 5, Con 8, Int 6, Per 6, Wil 6.

Orc – 3 Point Racial Quality

Generic fantasy orcs are slightly less horrible than their Tolkienesque forebears. Shorter than humans but taller than dwarves, they’re more like uncontrollable medieval Klingons than anything else. Just swap out the head-ridges for wolfish pointed ears, a snout-like nose, and pronounced canines and you’ve got a pretty normal orc.

Orcs gain a Strength bonus of +1. They possess the Quality Supernatural Senses (Nightvision) allowing them to see in near-darkness without range penalties up to 60,’ but also receive the Drawback Supernatural Form (Definitely Not Human). Their initial languages can include common, goblin, hobgoblin, ogre, and orc. They have a +2 Knack in Craft to analyze mines and stonework to detect the depth underground, grade or slope in the passage, new passage or tunnel construction, shifting or sliding rooms or walls, and stonework deadfalls, pits, and traps. They’re nocturnal, but don’t really suffer in daylight.

Cast Member Orcs are assumed to not suffer from the Antisocial Impulses toward cruelty and violence that characterize most orcs. Oddly, because orcish tribal culture is oppressively patriarchal, a disproportionate amount of orcish adventurers are adventuresses. These runaway womenfolk frequently have the Drawback Adversary (Orcs) because of the way orc males will deliberately hunt them down.

Attribute Maximums: Str 8, Dex 5, Con 8, Int 5, Per 5, Wil 6.

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Current Mood: hornyhorny
Current Music: some anime remix album my wife's DDRing to
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February 21st, 2007
11:54 am

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I'm officially an IDIOT
It’s too bad there’s no such thing as a professional Dungeon Master, Game Master, Storyteller, etc. (at least, I don’t think there is). It’s really the thing I’m best at.

As is obvious, I’ve fallen behind on my goals within weeks of setting them. I haven’t worked on any of the novels in weeks, I’ve hardly blogged... and my marriage is happier because of it. The energy I should be putting into breaking out of the prison of hateful work I’ve made for myself is instead going into the short-term stress-relief of working on RPG material (and playing video games). The result has been much more sex.

I don’t know what the lesson is here.

Anyway, here’s one of those stupid game things I did. It’s the basic background for what could be accurately described as a hentai anime Cinematic Unisystem game set in the far future of the Whedonverse. It also has bits and pieces of things I’ve gleaned from other Unisystem games (like CONSPIRACY X and ARMAGEDDON) by lurking around the Eden Studios message boards.

NEXUS MULTIDSCIPLINARY ACADEMY is the prestigious yet controversial flagship Advanced School of GAITOSS (The Greater Alliance of Independent Terran-Originated Sentient Species). Nexus Academy functions as a liberal arts college for the fledgling alliance, offering the various descendant species and cultures of the lost home world to share their cultures and grow into a greater understanding of their galaxy.
Over 1,000 years ago, humankind’s wasteful misuse of the planet Earth resulted in that world’s literal destruction. The survivors fled to the stars in pre-hyperlight spaceships, crawling through the blackness of the void to find new worlds to colonize. The majority of mankind found an idyllic star system with dozens of planets that could be terra-formed to suit their needs, but other refugees went further afield and discovered a far stranger universe than expected. They discovered refugee worlds where the humans had used genetic engineering to adapt themselves to the planet (or the whim of some patron) rather than the world they discovered. They discovered worlds colonized thousands of years ago by the remnants of Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu. They discovered the survivors of a cataclysm older than humanity when they found the Saurials, descendants of the dinosaurs. And they discovered monsters amongst themselves.
Mankind had always believed in the supernatural – demons, shape-changers, sorcery, and the undead – but they had forgotten these things were real. According to the demi-humans (for so they have been named) records, in the early 21st Century (some hundreds of years before the demise of Earth-That-Was) a mortal champion called the Chosen One had banished the most pernicious supernatural powers from the mortal plane. As time passed, the weakened ancestors of the demi-humans blended more and more with mankind until they became little differentiated from the humans they once preyed upon. When humanity fled the ruined planet, those who moved secretly amidst us joined us in our arks. Unable to remain concealed, they joined their fellow passengers and created hybrid cultures.
Painful and unnecessary wars erupted between humanity and its cousins when the miracle of hyperlight first brought distant stars together, but those days are now past. Even the feared Vampire Empire has made peace with the living now that the children of Earth-That-Was are threatened by the Outer Things. The Great Seal wrought by the Chosen One had at last worn away with time, and the malevolent beings from Outside had at last broken through again. The human and demi-human cultures joined forces in GAITOSS and drove the Outer Things into the distant arms of the galaxy.
In so doing, the heroic forces of GAITOSS rediscovered the lost Solar Sytem, and it is here Nexus Academy was built. It is located in one of the dozens of World-Domes surrounding Sol in the orbit of Earth-That-Was. One of the primary duties of the Academy is to study relics found in the debris of the home-world in an effort to reconstruct the Chosen One’s Great Seal. While there are many xenophobic voices amongst all the cultures of the Terran Species, it should be no surprise that Nexus Multidisciplinary Academy’s vital mission makes it the most prestigious civilian institution in the Known Galaxy.
NEXUS MULTIDISCIPLINARY ACADEMY is located in one of the artificial World-Domes of the Academic Cluster of the GAITOSS installations sharing the orbit of Earth-That-Was. The Academy is home to an elite faculty of 10,000 specialists and a student body of 200,000, making it exceptionally exclusive in a Known Galaxy of 400 billion souls. An additional 1 million administrative and support personnel serve on board the World-Dome.

*snicker!*

“GAITOSS” just cracks me up. It’s the perfect dumb anime name. So is “hyperlight.”

I’ve also finally re-acquired three boxes of old AD&D 2nd Edition and D6 Star Wars game books and supplements from my brother, who – suffering a premature mid-life crisis like myself – wants me to start DMing that horrible old rules set again (AD&D, not Star Wars; D6 Star Wars was brilliant). For some perverse reason, I’m instead contemplating creating a house rules conversion of D&D to Unisystem because I’m too cheap to buy DUNGEONS & ZOMBIES. I’m a moron.

The D&D-styled story idea that’s jumped to mind would combine my favorite Forgotten Realms settings – Waterdeep and Menzoberranzen – into a twisted Dickesian bildungsroman about half-drow siblings growing up on the surface who rise in their station while descending into the depths. It would really work better with a character-centric system like Unisystem rather than a combat system with role-playing trappings.

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February 15th, 2007
11:20 am

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Not much of a post...
I've goofed off way too much this week and gotten distracted by Valentine's Day, so not much of a post right now. I'm really just doing this to fulfill some sense of self-justification.

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February 7th, 2007
02:51 pm

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DAMNED, DAMNED GAMES

I’m falling behind again…

Last week, my intention was to start posting to the Eden Studios discussion boards with adaptations of the characters from “The Venture Brothers” to Cinematic Unisystem.  People have done Toho movie monsters, DC and Marvel superheroes, Lupin III, and a host of fun and crazy characters (who really wouldn’t fit too well in the Buffyverse).  Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to get registered and wasted fruitless hours surfing the ‘net with one window while checking back on my registration attempts with the other.  It’s easy to lose hours when all you have is dial-up.

So here’s Dr. Venture:

 

“Dr.” Thaddeus S. Venture

AKA Doc, Russ, Rusty, & T.S.

Incompetent Investigator

played by James Urbaniak

They say genius skips a generation; in this case that’s undoubtedly true.  Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture is the son of a famed adventurer and superscientist (called in the series “Dr. Jonas Venture” but possibly the man known to a previous generation as Doc Savage) and spent his childhood as his father’s kid sidekick.  Unlike most boy adventurers, Rusty was ill-suited for this lifestyle and the constant kidnappings and horrifying situations when he’d rather be playing Cowboys and Indians have left Rusty Venture a wrecked man.  He’s spent decades since his father’s death stripping the corpse of his father’s work to keep himself in the lifestyle he’s accustomed to and raising two death-prone boys, Hank and Dean.  As part of the U.S. government’s “Operation: Rusty’s Blanket,” he has been provided with a bodyguard, Brock Samson, to defend him from the various costumed criminals that mistakenly think he is a worthy adversary.

Name: Thaddeus S. Venture

Motivation: Posthumous paternal approval

Creature Type: Human

Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Constitution 6,* Intelligence 5, Perception 2, Willpower 3. *Rusty’s high Constitution score is amply demonstrated by repeated examples of surviving serious blood loss as well as a gigantic malignant tumor (that turned out to be his twin brother) despite a drug habit that would kill a horse. 
Ability Scores: Muscle 9, Combat 9, Brains 13
Life Points: 57
Drama Points: 20
Special Abilities: Addiction (“Diet Pills”) -4, Adversary (Baron Underbheit, the Monarch, various) -4, Attractiveness -1, Brainiac 4, Charisma 2, Clown -1, Covetous/Conspicuous (Serious) -2, Covetous/Greedy (Serious) -2, Covetous/Lecherous (Mild) -1, Dependent (Hank & Dean) -3, Emotional Problem/Easily Flustered -1, Good Luck 5, Hard to Kill 5, Impaired Sense (Glasses) -1, Mental Problem/Cowardice (Mild) -1, Mental Problem/Cruelty (Serious) -2, Secret (not really a doctor of anything) -1, Secret (the boys are clones) -1,* Superscience Items (various; few are really helpful) 5, Superscientist 1, Talentless -2.

*This is a secret to the boys; most other people know about it.

Maneuvers
Name:Score;Damage Note

Dodge: 9.

Grapple: 11.

Slap: 11; 2.

NEW COMBAT MANEUVER

SLAP

Open hand, swung wildly at the target.  This hopelessly feeble combat maneuver is the final resort of damsels in distress.  Uses a Dexterity and Kung Fu roll +2, or the Combat Score +2, and does Strength points of damage (Bash type).

 

I also did the basic stats for Brock Samson, but I haven’t finished his biography or combat maneuvers.

 

BROCK SAMSON

Experienced Veteran

played by Patrick Warburton

Name: Brock Samson

Motivation: Protect his “family”

Creature Type: Human

Attributes: Strength 6, Dexterity 6, Constitution 6, Intelligence 3, Perception 4, Willpower 4. 
Ability Scores: Muscle 20, Combat 25, Brains 11
Life Points: 73
Drama Points: 10
Special Abilities: Addiction (cigarettes) -1, Adversary (Baron Underbheit, the Monarch, various) -4, Athlete 4, Attractiveness 1, Covetous/Lecherous (Mild) -1, Dependent (the Venture family) -3, Fast Reaction Time 2, Good Luck 5, Hard to Kill 5, Honorable -2, Mental Problem/Cruelty (Serious) -2, OSI Agent (Initiative Commando) 4, Natural Toughness 2, Nerves of Steel 3, Resistance (Pain) 5, Resistance (Poison) 5, Secret (the boys are clones) -1,* Situational Awareness 2, Tragic Love (Molotov Cocktease) 4.

*This is a secret to the boys; most other people know about it.

 

Oddly, I’m not using the Venture Brothers in either of the games I’m running for my wife.  I don’t even know why I’m bothering.

SPYFUNK, my homage to ‘60s spy films and ‘70s exploitation cinema, has actually moved into the late ‘90s for some perverse reason.  The heroine – immortal spy Riona Mackenzie -- is married to Tom Wayne, the third (now retired in favor of Tim Drake) Batman, and having a bad time of it.  Recently, while her husband was off abandoning his family to run around with Talia and his illegitimate son, she had brief affairs with Connor Hawke and Dracula and fought and killed the first vampire, Jesus Christ.  Now she’s in Jordan preparing to battle Lazarus and his terrorist army and has discovered Tom Wayne has 500 illegitimate clone children who were raised by Ra’s al Ghul to be a terrorist army of their own.  It’s gone completely berserk… and all the insane ideas (except moving it into the ‘90s) are my own, so I can’t blame anyone else for how weird it is.  I actually really like the Bat-clones.

THE WILLOW & THE BLADE (the tale of a geisha ninja), on the other hand, has gotten bogged down a bit and lost its sex appeal.  There’s a reason romance movies and novels end with the heroine and hero getting together.  It shouldn’t be that way, but that’s how it is.  It’s difficult to keep a romantic story going after domesticity without throwing painful complications at the couple, and I’m too kindhearted toward the characters to do that.  (Riona and Tom’s separation occurred off-screen.)

Since the cross-time pulp adventure works better as a novel (though that is coming along in fits and starts), I’m considering different alternatives for future games.  My current favorite insane idea is, since Robin and I are having so much fun playing D&D-style games on the Playstation 2 (like “Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance”), to get all the old AD&D 2nd Edition crap out of storage and do an outright fantasy game.  I’ll probably convert everything to Cinematic Unisystem because I quit D&D in the first place because I got sick of the game system (classes and levels seem so artificial anymore); I always loved the Forgotten Realms. 

In fact, since I’m tired of assigning missions to the characters instead of Robin creating goals for her characters, I’m considering a drow campaign using the old Menzoberranzen boxed set (hooray! Pre-generated NPCs!).  You see, good is passive but evil is active.  Evil plots and plans while good just reacts. 

I think I just made a point about the Iraq War. 



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January 29th, 2007
08:26 pm

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WOLD LUPIN

The Buffy and Angel RPG message boards over at the Eden Studios site are host to several highly entertaining threads in which comic book and movie characters are wolded into the Buffyverse (usually by way of Eden’s other games, Witchcraft and Armageddon, and usually by the talented Thom Marrion).  I keep meaning to contribute my own ideas and not getting around to them, so I thought I’d better get started (since I don’t have Nightmare Town to hand and can’t reference character names for the next review).

One thread has already done him, but here’s my “Buffywolding” of Lupin III.

LUPIN III – Played by Yusaku Matsuda

(I would have used a mixed-heritage actor if I could find one who was appropriate, but finding one who isn’t a martial artist is kind of hard.  Dean Cain, Mark Dacassos, and Brandon Lee just don’t seem right.)

Arsene Lupin III” is no more this infamous thief’s true name than “Arsene Lupin” was the name of his celebrated grandfather.  His true name remains unknown.

Lupin III is the son of Jean Lupin, Arsene’s son by his wife (and cousin) Clarisse d’Etigues, and the infamous Taisho-era criminal, the Black Lizard.  Jean Lupin was abducted by Josephine Balsamo, the infamous Countess of Cagliostro, and raised as part of her criminal organization in an intricate plot of revenge against Arsene Lupin.  While his father defeated the Cagliostro organization and freed his son from its thrall, Arsene Lupin did not tell his son of his true heritage out of a misguided attempt to inspire his son to become an honest man.  Instead, Jean Lupin drifted east to French Indochina and eventually Japan, pursuing the criminal life that was all he knew.  Eventually he fell in with the female crime boss known as the Black Lizard, a woman he could love and fear.

The man who would call himself Lupin III was born late in their short and tumultuous marriage.  Jean Lupin had by now discovered many of his late father’s secrets and used them to supplant his wife’s role in their gang.  There is little reason to believe she survived Lupin III’s infancy. 

Lupin III spent his early years in the lap of decadent luxury, watching his father plot his villainous schemes.  When the precocious Lupin III seduced one of Jean Lupin’s mistresses, everything changed; Lupin III was abandoned in an orphanage, believing his father to be dead.  This indeed nearly happened; a conspiracy between the Japanese Nezumi crime clan and Fantomas’ group decimated the upstart Lupin Organization and Jean Lupin went into hiding.  Lupin III spent the rest of his formative years in poverty, dreaming of the luxury he had once known and the soft caresses of beautiful women.

More to come…

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January 27th, 2007
11:05 am

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CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER

Zhang Yimou’s “Curse of the Golden Flower” is a tragedy set in the late Tang Dynasty that plays like “What if Richard III married Lady Macbeth and they had kids who were male versions of Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia… and everybody knew kung fu?”  The plot is a Byzantine maze of double-crosses, family secrets, and twisted loyalties.  The visuals are overripe, baroque, and undeniably gorgeous (aided in no small part by the casting of the most beautiful middle-aged people in the world, Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li).  The ending is either a damning rebuke of Confucian patriarchy or a black-humored exultation of it, so I guess it’s a good thing that the film leaves its viewers (at least its Western ones) at an emotional distance.

Part of the problem is the wire-fu fight scenes themselves.  Zhang Yimou’s two prior martial-arts films, “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers,” were proper wuxia films and high-flying swordplay was natural to the characters and plots.  We, as Westerners at least, expect kung fu from stalwart soldiers and exotic assassins, but it’s jarring to see the same from emperors and crown princes.  To continue the Shakespearean analogy, try to imagine Claudius (not Laertes) dueling a Hamlet that executes mid-air spins and I’m sure you’ll be equally bemused.  Perhaps if the fight scenes had been spaced out more evenly throughout the film, or if certain prominent characters showed their talents repeatedly throughout the film instead of just once, then the kung fu would feel more organic.

There are other problems that lean the film toward camp.  Several professional film critics have commented about the cleavage-baring dresses of the court ladies, apparently admitting that they spent more time staring at Gong Li’s breasts than her face.  This is far less of a distraction than the shrieking ninja (or whatever they are) that appear out of nowhere halfway through the film.  They’re just plain goofy.

Ultimately, the film is gorgeous but rather shallow.  It seems like its striving for grand drama or to make a statement, but maybe that’s a misinterpretation.  Perhaps it’s just meant to be an entertaining spectacle.

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January 26th, 2007
07:18 pm

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"HOUSE DICK"

Hammett, Dashiell. “House Dick.” NIGHTMARE TOWN. Ed. Kirby McCauley, Martin H. Greenberg, & Ed Gorman. Great Britain: Picador, 2001.

 

This is more like it, or perhaps I’m being unfair and this is just more what I’m used to from Dashiell Hammett. 

“House Dick” is a Continental Op story, and the Op is far more the quintessential Hammett hero than even Sam Spade.  The Continental Op (so called because he is never named and works for the Continental Detective Agency) is a professional private detective working for a large, Pinkerton-like agency who operates in the San Francisco area.  He’s short, fat, hard-headed and hard-fisted, but prefers using his brain to his gun. 

In this short tale, the Op investigates a baffling triple homicide in a hotel room.  Three corpses have been piled into a closet together and no one can figure out what relation there is between the men or why they were killed.  One of the hallmarks of what separated Hammett’s new hard-boiled detectives from the amateur investigators of Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie is that after three days of poring over the clues, the Op and the police still have no idea what happened.  It isn’t until the Op begins thinking laterally and getting help from other Continental agents that a solution presents itself.

The solution itself strays into Doc Savage/Sherlock Holmes territory again, but it doesn’t completely strain credulity (though it does jar it a bit).  I’m beginning to be curious how much of a Doyle fan Hammett was; the ending has the sinister fingerprints of “The Adventure of the Final Problem” all over it.  This bears investigating…

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