New Urkana Paragon – Session 45

August 15, 2015 Urkana Paragon

The group got to the chaos ship Avenger, captained by Maladorn. They met Hilx, a surly half-Orc who showed them to their staterooms and gave them a run down on the ship’s rules.

Soon, the ship got underway and Razeth went up to see what he could help with. The Orc deck hand had him help stow the mooring lines and they chatted awhile when the deck hand took the forward watch.

They left the City of Brass behind them and soon heard a wailing sound. It seems that the ship was heading to the Keening Delve and the captain intended to fly through one of its many passages.

The sole human crewmember, Misty, came up and relieved the Orc at lookout as they approached the Delve.

By then Teka had climbed up to the deck and they assisted Misty as the ship plunged into the Keening Delve. As they were going through the tunnel, a Blue Slaad dropped on deck.

There was a brief, but violent fight which saw the paladin thrown overboard. Fortunately they were in the tunnel, so he didn’t fall far and the sorcerer was able to recover him quickly.

Teka always seems to be knocking Razeth into a hole or pulling him out of one.

They pushed the body of the Slaad overboard and conntinued through the Delve.

Behind the Screen

Because of its proximity to the City of Brass, I wanted to use the Keening Delve. I tossed a quick encounter in there just to let the characters flex their level 17 muscles some before arriving at the castle in the clouds.

I will have 1 week with Geek

August 12, 2015 Chat


This Week in Podcasts

Order 66 – The Order 66 Podcast posted their 98 podcast covering the Star Wars Saga Edition RPG. In this episode, GM Chris, GM Dave, and TG had special guest Christopher West, cartographer extraordinaire. They had a lengthy discussion about maps and mapmaking.

NewbieDM – This minicast was NewbieDM’s test. In this trial cast the host and guest hose ChattyDM answer a listener’s question about perception checks. NewbieDM suggested that he would be doing other casts like this and ChattyDM, DaveTheGame, and he would be collaboration on a podcast for gamemasters.

HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast – In Episode 34, Chris and Chad take on HPL’s story, The Festival. Their reader this week was Scott MacDonell. Next week they will look at the story that HPL ghost wrote for Hari Houdini.

Radio Free Hommlet – The RFH crew posted Episode 44. While we have been expecting the interview with Rodney Thompson of Wizards of the Coast, this cast does not have that. Instead, they had a discussion of how players in 4E manage to gimp their characters and ways to avoid that.

Video Games

Can’t stop playing and reading Clash of Clans guide on the road to Geek!


Ponyo – Hayao Miyazaki’s most recent move has been released by Disney. As I mentioned the movie is beautifully done, but a little short on the plot. The cover of the DVD case says that it was “Inspired by…Hans Christian Anderson Story The Little Mermaid.” It has to be a very loose inspiration as this is even further from the HCA story than the Disney version.


The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp – This book is essentially a workbook for helping one develop the habits needed for creativity. Although Ms. Tharp is a choreographer, her advice can apply to any creative person or any person who wishes to foster their creativity. After hearing Wil Wheaton and the crew of Radio Free Hommlet give this book a recommendation, I decided to check it out. I received it this week and am still going through it.

This book is not something you can read and instantly make you creative. It has exercises throughout the book to help get the reader in the creative habit. It stands in the top 10 of three different categories on Amazon.


Zoe Keating – Once Cello x 16: Natoma – I was first made aware of Zoe Keating’s work through the Radio Free Hommlet podcast, which uses a portion of Legions (War) to introduce one of their segments. A bit later, Episode 23 of the HP Lovecraft Literary podcast gave me a greater appreciation for cello music.

I dug out some of the Yo Yo Ma CD’s I had, but I wanted something less traditional and bit deeper. It was another blog or Tweet that made me take a closer look at Zoe Keating and finally order one of her CD’s. I picked up Natoma because it has Legions (War) on it and found it to be a very enjoyable album.

What is unique about Zoe’s work is that she performs all of the pieces solo but accompanied by herself. She does with the assistance of a computer for which she has developed a foot activation system. The result is a very beautiful and other worldly composition.

Those interested in learning more about Zoe Keating can find her on YouTube or go to

The H.P. Lovecraft Word of the Week

Hoary – adj – 1. Gray or white with or as with age. 2. Covered with grayish hair or pubescence. 3. So old as to inspire veneration; ancient.

Going for Campaigns with our Clan next week!

August 10, 2015 Clan, Travel


As I get ready to start a new Traveller campaign with our Clash of Clans Clan. I want to give the players some input about what sort of campaign they would like to play in. I offer here several different campaign styles.

There are others, like the Mercenary and Military campaigns that I did not list as I felt there would not be much interest for them in the group.

These are not mutually exclusive. Most of these could be combined with another in the event that we can’t reach a decision on a single type of campaign. Please read through these and leave some feedback on what sort you would enjoy. And don’t forget to bring your so we can play Clash of Clans on the road!

Independent Duty Scouts – This campaign type would feature a former scout on independent duty going through the Imperium and occasionally reporting on what he or she finds along the way. The scout would have the use of a retired scout ship and could get fuel and repairs at any scout base. The only cost for those services is that the base would download the logs from the ship’s computer to add to the scout services database. Also, the character and the ship might be called into service in times of emergency.

For this arc, one of the characters would have to have served in the scouts, preferably more than one term. The scout’s companions could come from any other class.

Free Traders – This campaign type would feature the characters in a free trader type ship. They would go from world to world tying to buy low and sell high so they can maintain the ship and possibly improve it. When cargo is limited or the prices are too high, the group might take other jobs (see Starship for Hire) to pay the bills. Passengers could be carried for extra revenue, but that might require someone with the Steward skill. The ship could be an inheritance, some salvage the characters performed, or a reward for years of good service to some Merchant House.

While it is not necessary that any character be from the Merchant Class that is one path to get the ship and interpersonal skills that will be useful in this type of campaign.

Starship for Hire – This campaign style features a group that has a ship, but isn’t really interested in the routine of buying and selling or it might not have the cargo capacity to do so profitably. Whether it is transporting an eccentric passenger, delivering sensitive messages, or moving small, but high value cargo, the adventure in this campaign type often comes from the dangers associated with the person or persons who hire the ship. While the group may find itself hiring their own ship, this campaign type depends on finding patrons more than the others.

The ship the group would start with here is smaller ship like a used scout or seeker. The scout would be one obtained without the attachment that comes with the one given to the Independent Duty Scout.

Interstellar Tourist – In this campaign type, the group has the means to travel around the empire looking for new sights and possibly new thrills. They would move in the upper circles of society meeting with the movers and shakers of the sector.

With this type, the group would either start without a ship or start with a yacht. Without a yacht, the group would be travelling between worlds on whatever transport they could hire. It might be something large and luxurious like the King Richard, or something smaller and less luxurious like a free trader.

This type campaign would require fewer space skills because the group would be travelling either aboard other ships or have a crew for their yacht taking care of those concerns. While the characters wouldn’t have access to stupid money, they would be provided enough to travel in style, where available, and stay at the best places available. If the group desired, one of the characters could be a remittance man or woman and the rest of the group could be the entourage assembled to keep him or her out of trouble.

Imperial Geographic Society – In this campaign type, the group works for the IGS. This is similar in some ways to the Interstellar Tourist type, but the group has a sponsor and a purpose. That purpose is to observe and record interesting terrain and phenomena, cultures, and creatures around the Imperium and possibly beyond its borders.

The group could either be working directly for the IGS, receiving salary and operating expenses from them, or independents who sell their recordings to the IGS. Working independently, though requires the group to pay their own expenses up front but they have greater freedom to go and do those things they wish to do.
In either case, a ship would be provided. Its costs would depend on the status of the group. Beyond starship skills, the group would need skills associated with research and working in the field.

Agents of the Empire – In this campaign type, the group is working for one of the Imperial intelligence agencies either directly as agents or indirectly as contractors. Depending on the players’ desires, this could be a extreme as a James Bond movie or something closer to reality, at least as close as one can be with starships and personal lasers. It is amazing and complex as a Clash of Clans strategy.

Starship skills would be required, but interpersonal skills and combat skills would be needed as well.

Investigations – In this campaign style, the group works as investigators, either for one of the Imperial agencies, one of the megacorporations, or private investigators. The scale of the crimes and resources available to the investigators would vary according to the agency that the group works for.

Like Agents of the Empire, there would be less emphasis on starship skills and more emphasis on investigation, interpersonal, and combat skills.

Notes about characters in general – Since at least some adventures will take place on board a ship, every character should have at least something he or she can do on a ship.

Primary Ship Skills: Engineering, Gunnery, Navigation, Pilot

Secondary Ship Skills: Communications, Computer, Electronics, Mechanics, Sensors

That’s it for now. Let me know what you think.

Yours for Traveller,

New Urkana Paragon – Session 44

August 9, 2015 Urkana Paragon

Tonight was the annual ball in the City of Brass.

After showing their invitations, they were announced and shown into the ballroom. The granduer of the ball was a bit overwhelming for some of the group, but they quickly recovered and got down to business. At least some of them got busy, Razeth and Isonnea got into the dancing. Jennia found the attentions of Balzar, a human planeshopper.

Teka, Mellin, and Ruwyn went around the ball speaking with those to whom they needed to speak. They had difficulty finding Baron K’Zan at first, largely because he had not yet arrived at the ball, being fashionably late and all that.

The captain also arrived after the group. Mellin spoke with the captain and negotiated a price for him to take them to their destination. He told her to have the group at Tanith Tower by noon on the day after next.

Then Teka spent some time talking with baron K’Zan and gathered some information from him, after he got the Efreet to warm up.

After accomplishing their tasks, the group enjoyed the ball. Towards the end of the evening, a succubus cornered Razeth and blackmailed him into dancing with her. After tempting him with her charms, she told him to leave the diamond where it is and she would fill his wildest desires.

Finally, at the end of the night, the group worked their way back to the Twisted Horn. If Jennia has some time the next day, she plans to go see Balzar Thorton’s ship, the Lady Alexis.

Behind the Screen (Spoiler Alert)

This was a pretty good session. I had a god time describing the ball, its decor, and patrons.

Trying once again to introduce a love interest for Jennia, I introduced Balzar Thorton, a planesjumper from Shadizar.

Working towards Razeth’s Epic Destiny, I had a succubus approach him and offer some temptation. He probably should have recognized that the succubus was fairly out of place in the City of Brass. A religion check would have shown that devils belong on the astral plane.

Next session, we should be fast forwarding to thier departure from the City of Brass on their way to Talapu. In the meantime, I need to make some cloud giants and storm giants.

Captain Maladorn arrived with the Eladrin Princess Cassila. She has a secret and her story is a seed for a future quest. They will see her again when the get to Maladorn’s ship.

A4E – Session 49

August 5, 2015 Travel

The group has been waiting several days for word from Eligos. On the morning of the 11th of Vult, two guardsmen, Simath and Sojen, approached some of the group. Needing some special assistance and having heard of the group’s exploits, they searched for Zathras, reasoning that it would be easiest to find the drow in Sharn than any of the other members. Samael had not returned that morning, having gained an invitation to a d’Cannith event.

It seems that a member of House d’Orien, Kessek, has gone missing after a night of slumming in the Dura district. The House is very interested in finding the young man. After the group accepted the offer, they were told that House d’Orien was offering 14,000 gold pieces in coin and gems for the recovery of the boy. The group was briefed that he was last seen by his companion, Tarsk, at the Slaughtered Boar in the company of a young woman.

Since the woman, Sasha, was in custody, the group went there to question her first. They learned a little bit about the establishment and that Kessek had left the room while Sasha was washing. After questioning her, they returned Sasha to the custody of the guard and headed to the Boar.

At the Slaughtered Boar, the group spoke briefly to Lars, the owner, and obtained a key to Room 13 which was Sasha’s room. They found some hairs matching the missing person’s hair color and a sheathed dagger with the d’Orien crest on it.

The group did a thorough search of the room and found no evidence of a struggle or foul play. The window was intact and not damaged. The door had a simple lock, but it is sufficiently difficult for an untrained person to pick.

The group examined the hall and back door to determine if someone had been dragged out, but found no evidence of such. They learned a few secrets of the establishment, which may or may not have any bearing on the investigation.

When they were finished looking upstairs, the group returned to the main room. Since Zola, a girl that Sasha mentioned, was not available at the moment, they decided to wait for her return to the main room. Kalshala intends to question the bartender and Zathras may talk to Faya.

1) Kessek left the d’Orien compound in the company of Tarsk. (Verified by witnesses to the guard.)
2) Sasha has been receiving letters from a man from her hometown.
3) A dagger bearing the crest of d’Orien was found in Sasha’s room.
4) No known ransom has been requested for Kessek.

1) Tarsk did not see Kessek after he went upstairs with Sasha.
2) Kessek left Sasha’s room of his own volition while she was washing.

Possible Leads:
1) Sasha’s hometown correspondent
2) New youth that has been at the Boar
3) Talk to bartender
4) Talk to sky cab operators in the area

Players feel free to add to these lists and post your theories.

Action Items for Next Session
1) Upgrade Kalshala’s Medallion
2) Make Tarsk available for questioning
3) Sewer Map

Behind the Screen (Spoilers)
To fill in a little time and to compensate for a couple of missing players, I set the group up with a mystery. I did not intend for it to last more than one session, but it seems like it will take at least one more session. I probably should have thrown in some more obvious clues to get them on the right track faster.

I tried an accent for Sasha to make her seem like an uneducated girl who fell on to hard times. It was difficult to type, probably hard to read, and creates all sorts of flags in Word. I hope they don’t need to talk to Sasha again. Note to self: don’t use real heavy accents unless you are at the table.

Until next time,

Traveller – The Ship’s Locker

August 5, 2015 Travel

The ship’s locker has been a feature of Traveller since Classic Traveller. As far as I can recall, every deck plan in that early period and most of them since then have had a small space allocated as the ship’s locker. While it is not included in any of the ship design sequences, it is an important part of the ship.

The ship’s locker is that space that holds the ship’s equipage, those items that can be important, but might be subject to pilferage. It also provides a convenient place to store equipage so their location is known when they are needed.

The ship’s locker is a way to provide equipment to characters that they might not purchase with the money they get from mustering out. I have no seen many characters purchase a vac suit right out of character generation. Cold weather clothing is another often-overlooked purchase.

Important emergency items, such as survival bubbles, fire extinguishers, and first aid kits should not be kept in the ship’s locker, but rather placed in locations around the ship where the crew has ready access to them in time of emergency. Most deck plans that I have seen do not detail where these items are located. As a GM, I assume they are strategically located throughout the ship and anyone needing one can easily obtain one unless there are extenuating circumstances.

GM’s take different approaches to the contents of the ship’s locker. Some don’t detail it at all, but treat it sort of like Batman’s ™ utility belt. If there is an item the character’s need for the purposes of the story, and it is reasonable that it might be in the ship’s locker, they can find it there.

Other GM’s like to list in detail what is in the ship’s locker so the players know exactly what their characters have available to them. Either method works and GM’s should use whichever method or some method of their own devising that works for them.

I usually go with the detailed method. The method I use to choose equipment is rather subjective. I will start by allocating vacc suits and cold weather clothing, mentioned above, usually about 1 per stateroom or 1 per passenger and crew if the staterooms are normally run with double occupancy. These vacc suits are the generic, one-size-fits-all type. While they will protect the wearer from vacuum, they can be a bit cumbersome.

I include a mechanical and electronic tool set, although I generally consider these to be in the engineering section. I usually include a medical kit, which is distinct from the first aid kits previously mentioned.

Beyond that, I consider what the purpose of the ship in question. A scout vessel would tend to have more equipment than a subsidized merchant. Tech level is a consideration, but most starships fall in the TL 12 – 13 range, so only the very highest tech level gear would be unavailable.

So, ship’s lockers are a useful tool for the GM and characters. Whether the GM makes it up as he or she goes along or details it out, the ship’s locker should be a feature of every ship that the PC’s come across in the game. If the ship’s locker is empty, there should be a good reason for it.

Finally, I will list here an example ship’s locker. This is the equipment that the characters of my new Traveller campaign will find in the locker on the ship they start with. I am building this using only the equipment found in the Traveller Book. The ship in question is the Seeker class scout first seen in the pages of the Journal of the Traveller’s Aid Society and later published by Paranoia Press. I recently re-drew the deck plans based on the Paranoia Press presentation.

Ship’s Locker of the ex-ISS 67-01754
Vacc Suits (Universal) x 4
Cold Weather Clothing x 4
Radiation Counter x 1
Hand Computer x 1
Binoculars x 1
Mechanical Tool Set x 1
Medical Kit x 1
Electronic Tool Set x 1
Long Range Communicator (9) x 1

Yours for Traveller,


Ready to play Clash of Clans!

August 5, 2015 Chat

I will play Clash of Clans again!

Hey everyone! I’m out of the hospital now and into the healing process. This means that I am moving forward towards the kick-off for the Steampunk Urkana campaign.

Accordingly, I need to start gathering information on your characters. So, as you see me around or as you think of it, start sending that information to me.

I am looking to have a Clash of Clans character building and question session coming up in the near future, date to be announced soon.

I am also looking at having a series of preliminary sessions intended to help the players get a feel for their characters. These sessions can be as small as one-on-one’s, but can have one or more other characters, if those characters are tied to the character in question.

These sessions are not mandatory, but are offered to allow you to get into your character earlier in the campaign. It also has the added benefit of letting me weave some of my villains into your characters’ pasts.