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Tracy's HackMoor 2017/09/07 Consolidated Since 2017/07/20

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 04:43

Games are (usually) on Thursday nights sometime after 5:30PM at World's Best Comics, 9714 Warwick Blvd Newport News, Virginia 23601.

This is a consolidated report over several weeks. We did not do very much due to various illness, absences, and the fact is we are between adventures.

++++ START OF SESSION(S) ++++

The party started the next few sessions with administrative matters. Since it was the end of the adventure, they decided to cash in their chips (shares).

Jacko made a special mission back to the ruins of the Temple of Existential Evil to retrieve the Demoness' Silver Throne embedded with 666 gems of various varieties. Either the Orb of Abyssal Death still operated the elevator down to her throneroom, or the vertical shaft was still navigable. Jacko simply put it into his Portable Hole and departed.

For the remaining sums of treasure, they also consolidated their sums into Platinum and made deposits into the Bank of Blackmoor. Aerys put 25 percent of her sum into the local bank of Nulb, called "Your Money or Your Life".

Speaking of 'Nulb' the party also renamed the town 'Noob'.

Elefus retired back to his Monastery in the North. His followers had been missing him anyway. He took his pet Gargoyle (a convert) with him.

Vixine also cashed in her shares and retired. (The Player moved out of town, we only kept the character along because characters can't simply disappear for no reason and the character didn't die in an 'accident'.)

When Jacko made his deposit, he also produced a damaged "coin" that had micro-metallic filaments that the Players could only describe as being "Dwarf pubes". The cashier asked him to stand aside and "wait".

(This concluded one week, we skipped a week and picked this episode up the 2nd week.)

After waiting what seemed like two weeks without going to the restroom, Jacko was then "interviewed" by a black leather clad man also wearing a black leather hat. He could only be described as Englebert von Smallhausen from the old British TV series 'Allo 'Allo. The man only asked Jacko "where did you get that coin?" Which after a short explanation by Jacko, he was thanked "for your cooperation" and the interview was over. Answer: It was Numrendir who gave him that coin when at about the time Jack was first introduced. (Other Party members had similar coins given by Numrendir, but they didn't break.)

Aerys had concluded that he needed to go and retrieve the rest of his family while the party decided what to do. So she packed up and made an overland trip to Tharp via Noob. (I placed Nulb, err now Noob, just a few hexes Southeast of the Regent of the Mines for you Blackmoor fans.) But Aerys hadn't just left yet so...

The party was still thinking what to do next. However the Player for Huang and Honda had some unfinished business. His other characters Junkbot and Fundisha, had been kidnapped by some Efreet on their way to liberate the Duchy of Ten several adventures back. It goes back even further than that, as Junkbot and Fundisha (with other party members) had earlier defeated some Efreet that were allied with another character named Rahl. They had banished said Efreeti, so the Efreet waited the requisite 1001 days and came back to exact revenge. The Efreeti also kidnapped Gerry Castagere (from module DA4).

The Party (as it was back then) decided to put off the rescue of Junckbot, Fundisha, and Gerry from the Efreet because the liberation of the Duchy was more important. Now that the Party (as it is) no longer has any more pressing matters of state from Blackmoor, they're technially on sabattical and decided to effect their rescue.

The next question was, how does the Party get to where the Efreet had taken the Kidnappees? A casual study at the University of Blackmoor hinted towards the Efreet capital called the City of Brass on the Elemental Plane of Fire.

The Party also remembered (rather coincidentally and conveniently), that the Mortician at the town of Noob had a crematory furnace that never seemed to need any fuel. They decided to go back there and check it out.

Aerys was going that way anyhow so she came along.

Using land travel and just a fortnight later (Elefus and Jacko's ex-girlfriend were no longer with the party so they had to get used to overland travel again due to the lack of Teleportation spells), they arrived in Noob. They went straight for the Mortuary and waiving all appointments with the proprietor checked out his furnace. (They had been previously been awarded the key to the city for their past good deeds so they had carte blanche everywhere in Noob.) Since Jacko had magical protection due to his possession of the Orb of Abyssal Death, he entered the furnace and returned with a positive report that that there was more to the furnace than just fire, it was an active gate to another (and very hot) world.

The Party decided this must be an entryway to the Elemental Plane of Fire and decided to undertake (no pun intended) the journey. Aerys refused however, stipulating the dry heat would ruin her fairy wings in no time.

[For Game purposes this mean that Player's character was out of the rescue. I made Aerys' Player my Assistant for the duration.] For the record, that Player was going to take that journey to Tharp and back and relocate her family consiting of her house-huband and kids. Some kind of Mom she is, always running off risking her life in adventures. But she is the bread-winner after all.

[Another game week passes.]

Preparing to go to the Elemental Plane of FIre, the Party also went back to Blackmoor. They made sure everyone had appropriate foot-gear such as Red Dragonhide boots and also everyone purchased Rings of Fire Protection with their winnings. Even Jacko, (in case his Orb gave out). The Party then hired a Magic User to cast some Legend Lore spells, learning firstly, that all prisoners of the Efreet are (yes confirmed), taken to the City of Brass. Secondly, they are put on trial in the Hall of Transgressors if found guilty, they are either given to the Blood Cult as slaves or are cast into the Great Rift about 200 miles Southeast of the City. (The party presumes Junkbot and Fundisha were found guilty.)

Then the Party made it back to Noob, which is about a week after Aerys made it back from Tharp. Meanwhile she had settled in. While the Party was gone, Aerys bought up all the unowned and abandoned properties in Town seeing as there were so many townsfolk that had been taken to the Temple of Existential Evil and and disappeared there.

[Now I'm just waiting for the group to get it's act together and go.]

++++ OUT OF CHEESE ERROR ++++

PART 2.

++++ CHARACTER ROSTER ++++

CHARACTERS
Felipe the Dwarf, a third level Sigil (Chosen One subclass of Cleric).
Grok the Dwarf, a third level Doughboy (Battlemage subclass of Magic User).
Jacko, an Albino Dork Elf, a Infiltrator (subclass of Thief).
Aerys, an Elvariel, a Fingersmith (Thief class).
Baronet Huang - a Master of the West Wind of the Stone Tiger Order, (Monk class).
Numrendir - a human Conjurist (a Conjuror, Magic User subclass) - Gone off to

NPCs:
Count Elefus, a human Abbot of Heimdall (Cleric class). RETIRED
Baronetess Honda - a Human Datai Samurai, Steward of Catan (formerly Temple of the Frog)
Gnomex, a Gnome Brother of Geardal Ironhand (Cleric class.)
Tanzen - a Fae-Born first level Exciter. (Fourth level Invoker, a Magic User subclass).
Six Icosahedrones. (27B-stroke-6 contractors)

CAPTURED CHARACTERS (both PCs and NPCs)
Junkbot Jackson - a human Tracker/Adept (a Ranger, Fighter subclass and Cleric).
Gerry Castagere, human Fingersmith, (Thief class) and ever loving devotee of Elefus.
Fundisha - a half-Elf Swordsperson/Tout (Fighter and Infiltrator, a Thief subclass).

MISSING CHARACTERS
Sir Weasel, human Guild Soldier, Warlock, & Champion (Thief, Magic User, & Fighter classes) he stayed back in BlackMoor.
- and nine Pilgrim henchmen of various levels. (They wear hoodies.)
Slade Wilson - Dwarven Professional (a Bounty Hunter, Fighter subclass) Left behind at Catan.

BT

BBBB

++++ RECORD KEEPING ++++

PART 3.

This is also posted on three forums, and a blog.



​​

--

Tracy Johnson
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Volume 5: Assassin of Gor - What in tarn-ation?!

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 08:45

Immediately this one was better than Nomads, and thank goodness for that. This was reminiscent of the first two books, full of adventure and action. I really enjoyed the journey and the prose was pretty good this time.

There were some twists and turns in the story but nothing you don't see coming from a pasang away. I was moved by some of the conflicts the characters faced and got quite attached to some minor characters. There was one surprise I didn't expect, they certainly fooled me there.

The glimpse into the Gorean slave trade was interesting, especially the way they are trained. This book made the Gorean slavery lifestyle sound more appealling and less barbaric than in the other books. There wasn't really anything that made me cringe in this book, unlike in Nomads when some events made me feel queasy. The events that happened during kajuralia made me laugh, turnabout is fair play after all!

It felt like the story went at a good pace, with a lot more polish then 'Nomads'. I enjoyed the main characters persistence and courage and swashbuckling-ness.

I'm looking forward to reading Raiders, but I don't even know her!

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Running an Old Online Minicomputer Text Game

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 03:21

I'm willing to bet few, if any read my the URL for my byline. But Today is my once a year posting for one of the text based games that I manage. EMPIRE5.

Empire5 is regenerated once a year, and all you need is to do is Telnet to it. Once connected, enter HELLO PLAYER.EMPIRE5 and you're in. It will ask for your nation, (just make something up) and create a password. (You can also use PUTTY, but turn echo or duplex off. Control-H is backspace, and arrow keys don't work.) There are other versions of this game converted to Graphical Interfaces, but they don't always have the charm of plain ASCII Text. EX is for exit and logs you off.

As a text based game, any command can be prefixed by the word HELP and the command name. Of course the trick is knowing what the commands are. For that, enter COMMAND and you'll get a list. (There's a web page at the same URL so it shouldn't be too hard to find examples.)

The game lasts a year and accumulates time for each Island you occupy. With the year long game you get zero time points at the beginning. So once you've logged on you may have to wait a day or so to get any time points. (There are shorter games but I need to regenerate them. EMPIRE4, ..3, ..2, & ..1)

The picture shown is a typical Island. Unoccupied spaces are dashes, the letter D is a dock, M are Mining sectors, E produces Explosives, A produces Artillery, plus signs (+) are AIrports, the letter P produces aircraft. The quotes (") are occupied Mountains. Unoccupied mountains would be a caret (^). Blank spaces are water sectors. All these letters over time produce components to make a formidable forces to challenge other players. Occupied sectors all have civilians and military, although you can draft 100% of the civilians and convert them to military. However only civilians reproduce, military does not.

In Docks you can build various types of ships, Liners, Transports, Destroyers, Mine Layers, Cruisers, Battleships, Aircraft Carriers, Submarines and others. You can use these to colonize and invade other Islands.

The typical announcement for this game is as follows:

Full Length EMPIRE5 has been regenerated, it lasts 1 year and expires THU, AUG 23, 2018

High Scores for the previous game are posted at:

To connect, use Telnet or VT to: empire.openmpe.com

The log on command is HELLO PLAYER.EMPIRE5

Game parameters are:
- 999x999 sector grid
- 255 islands, starting island is random
- build and movement points accumulate every 60 minutes
- 0 starting time units
- ship movement is updated every 12 hours
- 255 Player limit
- Player identification is created on first log on
- Game is always open, no sign ups required
- Normal information hiding

This message generated by a batch job on the Empire machine.

Tracy Johnson
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Tracy's HackMoor 2017/08/10 No HackMaster Last Night

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 16:47

Or any other game last night. I'm out of town.

To summarize this week's report, I had an excellent lunch on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood with an old friend and author at a French restaurant called the "Le Petit Four".

She had Steamed Fresh Mussels in a white sauce and I had the Spinach Quiche with mushrooms.

We both had Flan for dessert.

Tracy Johnson
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Tracy's HackMoor 2017/08/03 Divine Right Playtest

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 20:38

I'm doing a pre-publication demo of the latest edition of Divine Right at the Guns of August Convention at the Virginia War Museum August 25-27, 2017. 9285 Warwick Blvd. Newport News, Virginia 23607

Expect to run the game on the Saturday afternoon time slot (after lunch). Let's say, 1PM will run to the bitter end.

Since I'm running this demo, this night we did a small play test with my gaming group. There was one item worthy of note:

One guy had the Trolls. He had one ally with the personality that allows only one unit per set up space.

During the course of play he had stacked two units of Trolls with one unit of that ally. All of his other non-Troll stacks were one unit high.

He rolled the epidemic event.

In true rules lawyer fashion, we had an argument.

One player claimed the stack with the Trolls was the largest stack. Player has to loose the one non-Troll unit from THAT stack.

The other player claimed since the Trolls are immune, they don't count towards the largest stack. Therefore since all non-Troll stacks are one unit high, the one unit lost has to be at random.

I have a preliminary finding from the Divine RIght folks but can't say what it is right now.

Tracy Johnson
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[Book Review] The Moon Pool by A. Merritt ~Appendix N~

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 20:01

' Appendix N Readings

    The Moon Pool
    ~Abraham Merritt

I had trouble starting this book. The negative reviews kept turning me away. Usually they revolved around the book being dated because current knowledge ruined the plot and while it may have been good in an age of exploration, that time is over. I also struggled with the introduction and the first few pages.

Once I got into it however, those reviews seemed more and more like people who never read The Moon Pool. No current planetary knowledge nor cosmology or even quantum mechanics invalidate this tale.

A third of the way through the story turns. The tense tale from the start becomes something else entirely however the prose remains beautiful. The complexity of the tale rises and becomes more interesting despite having to remember which character is which.

Two-thirds of the way into this dynamic adventure it seems complete and as the reader I wonder why I would read any further. All is well. Then we're presented with another climax, and then another. It may seem elongated however near the end is bar none the best one on one battle of vengeance with such a riveting sequence that I started cheering and yelling at the book in joyous "No way!" type talk. It makes Liam Neeson look like a droopy eyed armless child and Chuck Norris one of the detached limp arms. That scene alone is worth the book but you need the build up as written to gain the effect. In fact this subtle build up to what can only be described as a true reckoning is a masterpiece all adventure writers should read.

What feels like 'true' climaxes end up being buildup to the actual climax and finale. Only in retrospect do you see the genius of Merritt's setup. It really had to be this way.

There is a final moment as the reader, where biting your lip, you know that in the end you will either cry triumphant and feel warmth in the cockles of your heart to sleep peacefully or you will fire the book across the room. Only by reading The Moon Pool in full will you know which.

Very minor spoiler in this paragraph. Merritt's protagonist sees something and states it's not the Bifrost Bridge of myth and then goes on to describe exactly what Bifrost is supposed to look like. Perhaps it was Merritt's way of saying that while one is myth, this bridge is real! Yet after all the fantastical things seen by the protagonist, he suddenly now can not accept the Bifrost Bridge? It struck me as odd, but I'm sure one can rationalize it; probably those complaining about Tycho (moon crater and inside joke).

This tale has in it one of my pet peeves usually seen in the Sword & Planet genre. Here is a fake quote as an example- "We passed some Dwarves holding a hand at their waist, maybe with a weapon hidden. Later I found out it was the Bludip which was used for..." It's when the storyteller explains how he found out all this stuff afterwards, but he is otherwise talking in the now. Now we walk up the slope, years later I found out the slope was named after a blah blah blah. Luckily, The Moon Pool only does this a few times, unlike say or .

Some of the descriptions are hard for me to visualize despite the vibrant writing as they describe things so foreign to my senses. Problematic is that I tend to skim through descriptions toward action however in this book I would go back and reread such things. His use of adjectives can occasionally be overwhelming and yet they fill the book with a unique charm.

One thing Merritt does well, is the chase scene. I was reading madly with eyes awide; word after word passing from my eyes into my ever increasingly stressed mind.

He also tends to describe things in action oriented sentences like, "the arch leaped a pit," describing a stationary object.

This isn't a book I read in one sitting. In fact I rarely read more than one chapter at a time. This was mostly due to the prose and wanting to bathe in it's beauty before moving on. I was brought to tears more than once just from the flow of Merrit's words.

In the end it seemed like too much story for one book, which is kind of odd to say as it's not an especially large tome and it's filled with extensive if alien descriptions, however the depth of story is remarkable.

I later found out that The Moon Pool was originally a short story and a separate sequel. This makes sense and it reads like two books combined. See what I did there? Look back six paragraphs.

It's easy to see why HP Lovecraft considered Merritt to be an influence on his work but Merritt combines other flavours of pulp, creepiness, fantasy, narration, purity and more in a unique way using his flowery eloquent prose that while occasionally makes your eyes glaze it ever more often instils powerful emotions.

The Moon Pool feels like it was written in the twenties but in my opinion is superior to other contemporaries and is an essential book for any authentic fantasy reader. This is after all a book from Appendix N; a list of books that influenced the 70s Dungeons & Dragons and all that follow.

Pulp meets Fantasy meets Sword and Sandal/Planet meets Lovecraft meets Tesla meets Disney (before Walt died) meets Gygax.

A bit of a slog at times but so very worthwhile. Public domain and available very cheap and even free!

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Tracy's HackMoor 07/20/2017 This Concludes Our Adventuring Season

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 04:20

Games are (usually) on Thursday nights sometime after 5:30PM at World's Best Comics, 9714 Warwick Blvd Newport News, Virginia 23601.

Tomorrow's game will be another board game. I got a pre-publication revision of the latest Divine Right game to play test. I'll also be running that as an official sanctioned demo at the Guns of August convention in Newport News Virginia on 25-27 August.

This is a two week report and I don't remember much. (Even though I have typed a lot of content). I have been tired lately. Probably overwork, I don't know. I took an online course at the local community college on network security. Maybe that's what did it. As an old timer I was rather a know-it-all, but it was a good refresher. A little bit of Python programming was included, it reminded me of good old BASIC without the line numbers while certain statements, functions, and libraries that would be verbose for me were assumed. I was disappointed because it wasn't FORTRAN/77. I ace'd the final at 100%, snark, snark. However it wasn't for credit since I took the course for free as a Virginia senior citizen in Audit mode.

I have not forgotten what the pizza was for the first session. It is just that I don't care. The 2nd session we got bumped out of our usual room so rather than take the upstairs suite on a hot day, (even though there was A/C I didn't trust it). We traversed town and gamed at my house. That day we had a conglomerate of fast foods, via Taco Bell and Burger King just to be different.

++++ START OF SESSION(S) ++++

The party made combat with the Grumpy Old Man and the Grand Demoness of the Dungeon.

There was a bit of betrayal from Jacko's demon girlfriend. When asked for data she simply started lying. One of the things I remember was Jacko and his Away Team (select characters) tried to sneak up from behind the curtain in the Grand Demoness' throne room, but there was an impenatrable wall of force. When asked if it could be penetrated she lied about it.

Next I remember she was asked to Teleport the Away Team to the other side of the barrier, but the group ended up in a nondescript room. She claimed not knowing what happened (spell malfunction). But the gamers finally got wind of her duplicity due to telltale signs from the GM and so they killed her off with the six Modron Icosahedones (known to the party as the form 27B-stroke-6 contractors), using their gas attack.

While she was down, Gnomex finished her off.

(If it matters only Jacko and his Away Team were witnesses.)

I can't really say if they "really" killed her or was she just putting on a good show of it. As a powerful demonness, her body upon "death" disappeard off the Prime Material Plane and ended up back on one of the Planes of the Abyss. Either way the party gets the points for her "defeat". Essentially her job was to get the Grumpy Old Man to this level. She did that by letting him shrink in size and hide somewhere. When previously asked to do some "detection" about the Grumpy Old Man, she lied about that too.

Mission accomplished.

Upon her reappearance in the Abyss I think she got a promotion and a medal.

Meanwhile back in the regular battle between the Grumpy Old Man the Grand Demoness and the rest of the Party. Elefus and others (not with Jacko) had been trapped with a Forcecage Spell. (Which is like the old Star Trek's Tholian Web but only a 20 foot diameter size.) Supposed to be like a Cube of Force but spells and weapons can be cast into and out of it.

Within the Forcecage was cast a Fireball, and a Lightning Bolt and maybe another high damage spells by the Grumpy Old Man. The end result on the Party's side, Huang's two remaining Monk followers, the two Mynxes, and Man-Bear-Pig were killed.

Otherwise during the battle there was a miracle of miracles. This kind of puts off all other details of the battle to the wayside.

Aerys flew up to the Grand Demoness and with an ultimate act of bravery, attacked her with a dagger (with the appropriate magic benefits otherwise the Demoness would be immune), and rolled a natural 20 on a 20 sided die.

A critical hit.

Gamewise we have a house rule, one can either roll the official HackMaster critical hit tables or use the House critical hit rules (which we call "Cheese Crits"), on a Cheese Crit, another natural 20 on a 20 sided die is a kill. (It slopes downhill from there.)

So while the Player for Aerys was pondering whether to use the official HackMaster rules or go for "Cheese".

The other Players were shouting "cheese, .. cheese, .. Cheese, .. CHEESE!"

He decided to go for the Cheese Crit, and rolled another 20.

This was of course instant death for the Grand Demoness, the Cause Celebre for this entire module. Of course being from the Abyssal Plane, like the lesser demon above she disappeared in a puff of an unfiltered pack of Pall Malls. Banished to the Abyss where she cannot enter the Prime Material Plane for 99 years (or is it 100? or 666?), whatever.

Meanwhile I was fishing for a GM card that would get her out of it. I couldn't find it. I knew I had it however, but found the card the following game session in this report.

Non-plussed, the Grumpy Old Man continued the fight. Elefus finally cast a Dispel Magic out of his Forcecage (3rd or 4th try I think). Meanwhile Jacko's Away Team figured out where they were and hoofed it back to the main battle. (They discovered they were merely in an adjacent room where the Jacko's dead ex-girlfriend had Teleported them to.)

Someone did something that caused the Grumpy Old Man to finally fail a saving throw and he was "Paralyzed". I think it was the 27B-stroke-6 Modron Icosahedron contractors. I'm sure the Players will remind me.

So the Party was about to deliver the Coup-de-Gras on the Old Man on the next round, and I declared the party still needed to roll for Initiative.

But he's "Paralyzed", said the gamers.

He still gets an "Initiative" roll, says I.

The party realizes there could still be mental things going on with the Old Man.

The Grumpy Old Man disappeared. (Just in case I was also armed with the GM card I couldn't find the week before, which was "Monster Emergency Teleport".) Didn't really need to use it, the Old Man had his own power, really.

Game over.

In the aftermath the Party collected any remaining loot and went up the Throne elevator (that only Jacko could operate with his Abyssal Orb). This is just game accounting and I may accrue it later.

About the same time the Grumpy Old Man would have recovered from his Paralysis, the party was upstairs on the Ground Level of the Evil Temple. The area was hit by an Earthquake, and the Temple started to crumple. Escaping through the broken stained glass window of the Temple as it was falling, the party made its way out of the area of effect. (Which of note was a 160 feet radius, hmmmm..)

Debriefing:

Elefus will retire. His presence as a high level Cleric was to shore up the Party. The Player had left long ago and now runs his own DC Superheroes game in another room. The same group of Players that bumped us out of our room the second session.

Who or what the Grumpy Old Man was, has never been determined. His lack of identity as well as the Grand Demoness that Aerys offed with the Cheese Crit (she had a name), I can only attribute this to Player lack of interest or carelessness in checking for story clues.

Whoever he was, the Grumpy Old Man had the hots for the Grand Demoness. She had been imprisoned and blocked from detection on the Dungeon's 3rd level by powerful spells and the Grumpy Old Man had been searching for her for years. Her death by Aerys' Critical Hit merely relocated her to the Abyssal Plane where the Grumpy Old Man can easily find her.

So you'd think the Grumpy Old Man would simply be grateful for her release? But like the lesser demonness killed by, she is now stuck on the Abyssal Plane for 'x' number of years.

So there is also this little bit of Her and the Grumpy Old Man wanting to dominate the World, well, that will have to be put off for the same number of 'x' years.

So it appears the Grumpy Old Man will be around for awhile to harass the Party.

++++ OUT OF CHEESE ERROR ++++

I expect the next HackMaster session the Party will be looking for something to do.

++++ CHARACTER ROSTER ++++

PART 2.

CHARACTERS
Felipe the Dwarf, a third level Sigil (Chosen One subclass of Cleric).
Grok the Dwarf, a third level Doughboy (Battlemage subclass of Magic User).
Jacko, an Albino Dork Elf, a Infiltrator (subclass of Thief).
Aerys, an Elvariel, a Fingersmith (Thief class).
Baronet Huang - a Master of the West Wind of the Stone Tiger Order, (Monk class).
Numrendir - a human Conjurist (a Conjuror, Magic User subclass) - Gone off to

NPCs:
Count Elefus, a human Abbot of Heimdall (Cleric class). RETIRED
Baronetess Honda - a Human Datai Samurai, Steward of Catan (formerly Temple of the Frog)
Gnomex, a Gnome Brother of Geardal Ironhand (Cleric class.)
Sum Dum Gai - Brother of the Winds (Monk, Fighter subclass). DECEASED.
Gangnam Bang Mi - Sister of the Winds (Monk, Fighter subclass). DECEASED.
Sum Ting Wong - SheMale Brother/Sister of the Mysteries (Monk, fighter subclass).
Tanzen - a Fae-Born first level Exciter. (Fourth level Invoker, a Magic User subclass).
Vixine Numar, a human Servant (a Chosen One, Cleric subclass). Recently raised a level.
A Dark Enchantress Demon. Grok's new girlfriend who folds her wings over her shoulders to look like a cloak. TRANSFERRED TO ANOTHER PLANE OF EXISTENCE
A Madger, a half humanoid, half badger creature who made a deal to serve with the party. DECEASED (a.k.a. Man-Bear-Pig.)
Two Mynxes, half female humanoid, half cat. They can shape change either way. They went both ways. DECEASED
Six Icosahedrones. (27B-stroke-6 contractors)
One charmed Confusion Beast. WANDERED OFF (It got confused.)

MISSING or CAPTURED CHARACTERS (PCs or NPCs)
Gargoyle (Elefus henchperson, demoted from Sidekick, out of town on business, acting as courier to BlackMoor).
BlackMoor to check his Investment Account.
Junkbot Jackson - a human Tracker/Adept (a Ranger, Fighter subclass and Cleric).
Gerry Castagere, human Fingersmith, (Thief class) and ever loving devotee of Elefus.
Fundisha - a half-Elf Swordsperson/Tout (Fighter and Infiltrator, a Thief subclass).
Sir Weasel, human Guild Soldier, Warlock, & Champion (Thief, Magic User, & Fighter classes) he stayed back in BlackMoor.
- and nine Pilgrim henchmen of various levels. (They wear hoodies.)
Slade Wilson - Dwarven Professional (a Bounty Hunter, Fighter subclass) Left behind at Catan.

BT

BBBB

++++ RECORD KEEPING ++++

PART 3.

This is also posted on three forums, and a blog.



--

Tracy Johnson
Old fashioned text games hosted below:

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Ə - Tracking

Sun, 07/16/2017 - 18:01

Dumping this here for now. Maybe I'll get around to cleaning it up later.

Tracking: Base target number of 10, check every Adventure Turn. Changing conditions (change in weather, terrain, etc.) triggers a new Turn

Inherent modifiers of creature being tracked (add to TN):
Size: Tiny +8, Small +4, Medium 0, Large -2, Huge -6, Gargantuan -8
Slimy (worms, Viscous Blobs, etc.) -9
Creature alters terrain (Lava Lizard, Basilisk, etc.) -15 (modifier goes away when monster is in unaffected terrain)
Flying or Swimming +20 (This is in here to preclude impossible tracking. I want to keep the possibility of the legendary tracker who can track a swallow in a hurricane.)

External Modifiers (Bonus/Penalty to Adventure)
Terrain (use one)
-Fresh snow +4
-muddy ground, loose dirt +3
-Thick vegetation +2
-Forest, field, dusty floor +1
-Normal ground, wood floor, sparse vegetation 0
-Desert, dry sand -2
-Swampy -3
-Rocky terrain, solid ice, stone floors, shallow water -4

Illumination (use one)
-Sunny day; Light spell 0
-Twilight, light fog, snowing, torch light -1
-Full moon-lit night, day with moderate fog -2
-Overcast night with no moon, dense fog -3
-blizzard, sandstorm -5

Situational Modifiers (use all applicable)
-Every two in group being tracked +1
-Each additional tracker assisting +1
-Every Travel Turn (half day) since trail was made -1
-Every Adventure Turn (hour) of rain, snow, or sleet since trail was made -2
-Creature being tracked attempts to hide trail -3
-Failed Tracking attempt -1 (cumulative for successive failures. Penalty resets with success)
-Two consecutive successes +1 (non-cumulative)

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Tracy's HackMoor 2017/06/29 More Leveling Up With Kittens in a Blender

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 11:57

Games are (usually) on Thursday nights sometime after 5:30PM at World's Best Comics, 9714 Warwick Blvd Newport News, Virginia 23601.

++++ START OF SESSION ++++

We skipped the Thursday before (June 22nd) as I was the yearly invitational "The Weekend" game convention in Lancaster PA.

This past week the Player for Grok showed up after a long absense yet the Player for Jacko was too tired from overwork, so we merely leveled him up.

We had some spare time afterward so we played the "Kittens in a Blender" card game.

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Tracy Johnson
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Tracy's HackMaster 2017/06/15 Back Down the Temple

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 04:16

Games are (usually) on Thursday nights sometime after 5:30PM at World's Best Comics, 9714 Warwick Blvd Newport News, Virginia 23601.

++++ START OF SESSION ++++

I have forgotten the type of pizza as it has been two weeks.

I'm also going to skip a lot of detail, such as diarming traps, minor combats, and treasure takings, as it would make this too lengthy and difficult to remember.

After some preliminaries, there were some details added to the previous leveling up of Jacko. During his training, he made an enemy of one particularly bothersome student, who just happened to be another grumpy old man. He was apparently auditing the Level 9 "Infiltrator" course because Blackmoor law offered free tuition to the elderly as long as they don't take the course for credit. Insofar Infiltrator coursework is off the books because it is of the Thief class, but even Thieves have a healthy respect for their institutions (and possible Tax audits of undeclared fees). The grumpy old man made Jacko's time in school a living hell of small practical jokes designed to embarass Jacko in front of the other students.

This session also introduced Felipe, a Cleric of the "Chosen One" class. He had been away for several weeks and the Party's hiatus seems to fit his introduction so that we could say he joined the party whilst they were training. (Much like a certain grumpy old man.)

The Party eager to resume adventuring, made it back assembled back inside the temple before the huge throne. And that included the same grumpy old man who seemed to have latched onto the party no matter where they went, criticizing party members every step of the way. It was as though the party took along all their respective Mothers-in-Law rolled up into one saying things like "Straighten up that cuirass buckle!" and, "Don't you think the enemy isn't going to talk about your manners behind your back?" This was especially curious as the party had teleported, and the grumpy old man wasn't even invited.

​Since Jacko was the only one with the abilty to operate the huge throne​ with unique magic item called "The Orb of Abyssal Death", (including the four magical gems inset into their respective spaces which gave it full power). The thone acted like a huge lift with only two levels, top (were they were) and the bottom (as yet unexplored). So everyone had to assemble onto the throne as it went down.

Jacko particulary wary, did something (I forget what), but made sure the grumpy old made was not aboard (or so he thought) when the party went down.

The party found itself in a large room with pillars, doors, and openings all around. The party was of course well aware this must be the home (a.k.a. prison) of the demoness in charge of the place. The armies that had defeated the Temple decades before had locked her in this area shut the double-wide bronze doors with magical incantations and simply left the elevator-throne lock in the "up" position. Jacko and his Orb just undid that and at the same time cocked up the security of the Prime Material Plane. But enough of that later.

Of rooms of note, one had four glowing portals on the floor that looked like the same portals that earlier sent the party to the four Nexi. The party avoided them. Another opening led to a room with a smaller throne with someone sitting on it who looked like the Wicked Witch of the West. As soon as the party was within audible range she asked for the Orb that Jacko had on him, "Please give me that Orb my pretty!" The Party backed out of the room saying, "We'll get back to you on that." The Witch shouting "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog Toto too!" The Party wondered at that, since they didn't have a dog, much less one named Toto.

The party split and started exploring the rest of the area leaving most behind with the throne-elevator. But I'll avoid details because it just dealt with material goods, and little if that. Finding a couple secret doors they looked into them and chose one. It eventually wound its way around the throne room that the Witch was in.

Making himself useful, Felipe and with a bit of the party's nudging, cast a Detect Evil spell and performed a slow turn. (Based on a prior session's capstone thesis, we explained that it basically worked like an old radar, where the detection was in a straight line and Evil showed up as blips. The caster had to make a slow turn to accomplish this properly.) Anyway Felipe cast his spell in order to find their relative bearing in relation to where they thought the Witch was, since she was on the other side of various walls they could only guess.

Felipe, eventually turning to where they thought she was, there was not one obvious evil blip in the scan but two blips.

Interesting but not enough information to be useful.

The party then wound its way to a long hallway that should be behind the throne of the Witch. This hall had an obvious backside of a tapestry (you could see the threads). Jacko, hoping he could back stab the Witch on her throne took a peek from behind the tapestry and saw her instead standing on the floor staring straight at him. "Don't worry my pretty, feel free to explore around, even take the few treasures back there, I'll get you eventually!".

Also standing next to the Witch was the Grumpy Old Man. They were holding hands. There was green lipstick on his collar.

​(For the obtuse, yes the Grumpy Old Man was the second blip on the Detect Evil radar.)​

Jacko stepped back from the tapestry, again avoiding details, yes the party ​found some more odds and ends of treasures, disarming the traps protecting them.

Finally working thier way almost completely around the smaller throne, the party made it to the next to last room before rejoining the rest of the party they had left behind with the elevator-throne.

Notably the other half of the Party left behind at the huge elevator-throne noticed the Grumpy Old Man appear at the entrance of the smaller throne room, he pointed at this eyes with two fingers then at Elefus, making a Viking-like challenge of some sort.

++++ OUT OF CHEESE ERROR ++++​

​We skipped next Thursday of 22 June, as I was at Otto's "The Weekend" game convention in Lancaster, PA.​

​BT

BBBB

++++ CHARACTER ROSTER ++++

PART 2.

CHARACTERS
Felipe the Dwarf, a third level Sigil (Chosen One subclass of Cleric).
Grok the Dwarf, a third level Doughboy (Battlemage subclass of Magic User).
Jacko, an Albino Dork Elf, a Infiltrator (subclass of Thief).
Aerys, an Elvariel, a Fingersmith (Thief class).
Baronet Huang - a Master of the West Wind of the Stone Tiger Order, (Monk class).
Numrendir - a human Conjurist (a Conjuror, Magic User subclass) - Gone off to

NPCs:
Count Elefus, a human Abbot of Heimdall (Cleric class).
Baronetess Honda - a Human Datai Samurai, Steward of Catan (formerly Temple of the Frog)
Gnomex, a Gnome Brother of Geardal Ironhand (Cleric class.)
Sum Dum Gai - Brother of the Winds (Monk, Fighter subclass).
Gangnam Bang Mi - Sister of the Winds (Monk, Fighter subclass).
Sum Ting Wong - SheMale Brother/Sister of the Mysteries (Monk, fighter subclass).
Tanzen - a Fae-Born first level Exciter. (Fourth level Invoker, a Magic User subclass).
Vixine Numar, a human Servant (a Chosen One, Cleric subclass). Recently raised a level.
A Dark Enchantress Demon. Grok's new girlfriend who folds her wings over her shoulders to look like a cloak.
A Madger, a half humanoid, half badger creature who made a deal to serve with the party.
Two Mynxes, half female humanoid, half cat. They can shape change either way.
Six Icosahedrones.
One charmed Confusion Beast

MISSING or CAPTURED CHARACTERS (PCs or NPCs)
Gargoyle (Elefus henchperson, demoted from Sidekick, out of town on business, acting as courier to BlackMoor).
BlackMoor to check his Investment Account.
Junkbot Jackson - a human Tracker/Adept (a Ranger, Fighter subclass and Cleric).
Gerry Castagere, human Fingersmith, (Thief class) and ever loving devotee of Elefus.
Fundisha - a half-Elf Swordsperson/Tout (Fighter and Infiltrator, a Thief subclass).
Sir Weasel, human Guild Soldier, Warlock, & Champion (Thief, Magic User, & Fighter classes) he stayed back in BlackMoor.
- and nine Pilgrim henchmen of various levels. (They wear hoodies.)
Slade Wilson - Dwarven Professional (a Bounty Hunter, Fighter subclass) Left behind at Catan.

BT

BBBB

++++ RECORD KEEPING ++++

PART 3.

This is also posted on three forums, and a blog.



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Tracy Johnson
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Tracy's HackMaster 2017/06/08 More Leveling Up

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 16:57

Games are (usually) on Thursday nights sometime after 5:30PM at World's Best Comics, 9714 Warwick Blvd Newport News, Virginia 23601.

++++ START OF SESSION ++++

We had a extra large meat lover's pizza substituting philly cheesesteak for pepperoni.

We had a quorum, but after an hour or so of small talk which was a total waste of time. We pegged on the idea of leveling up some of the NPCS. By 8:30PM I had figured we weren't going to run the dungeon this night, so we continued the leveling process.

This post sent as a placeholder, for those who like continuity in reports. (For last Thursday's game, on 15 June we actually DID do something. Write up not yet submitted.)

++++ OUT OF CHEESE ERROR ++++

Additional Player reference sections truncated again.

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Tracy's HackMoor(v4) 2017/06/01 "Factory Manager"

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 17:17

Games are (usually) on Thursday nights sometime after 5:30PM at World's Best Comics, 9714 Warwick Blvd Newport News, Virginia 23601.

++++ START OF SESSION ++++

We decided to use a different restaurant after some debate on doing "something different". One suggestion was declined for Burger King as "too expensive", which was odd as I ended up paying near 60 bucks at another Italian place.

Not having a quorum, we ended up with playing "Power Grid - Factory Manager" so the unemployed members of my group could understand the experience of laying off others. It was either that or the "Kittens in a Blender" card game, (for which I also have the expansion set.)

++++ OUT OF CHEESE ERROR ++++

Additional Player reference sections truncated again.

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[Movie Review] Lucy (2014)

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 02:36

Lucy (2014)

Lucy doesn't start off with a bang but does get moving with increasing rapidity. It has a mixed feel between Indie and high budget, flipping from 'creative' scenes to solid effects.

Is it a philosophy lesson or a science lesson? Since all three, philosophy, science and theology must work together to find truth, it doesn't matter, or does it?

We only use 10% of our brains (although it uses 15% later) yet dolphins use 20% while other animals 5% or less. This, from the movie. Douglas Adams told us that white lab mice should be up there too.

The movie whole heartedly takes in Darwin's theory of evolution and the long Earth theory and asks what happens when we use 100% of our brain with subtle implications that either we reproduce (die) or become immortal.

From a science (as opposed to scientific) point of view, there are glaring errors with all the base concepts in dealing with the brain as they are presented. It's true that we don't really know nearly as much about how the brain works than we are often led to believe but firing too many synapses at once is what leads to mental disorders. They need to fire just the right amount for the sake of sanity.

Math as a universal language is thrown out the window but anyone who's dealt with old and new math already knows this (along with anyone who has delved deeply into calculus).

Then we tackle existence and that time is the only constant. Time gives us meaning and then what does it mean to exist outside of time?

Oh wait... This isn't about philosophy, science, or theology. Truth? No, not that either. The whole movie is to mask someone's idea of creation leaving us with a false statement that “now we know what to do.”

Lucy is a bait and switch movie that most people wouldn't have even heard of if not for Scarlett Johansson starring in it. She lends credibility to a poor project that lacks depth or understanding of the universe. Her acting along with her support cast is excellent. They have the joy of presenting this alongside some solid effects and well designed action sequences however the movie seen as a whole is lacking.

An intriguing childish concept drawn out weakly adding credible acting, a big name, decent choreography and effects leaves us with an immature scribbling given mass effect.

2 Catkins

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Tracy's HackMoor(v4) 2017/05/25 "Civilization"

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 11:50

Games are (usually) on Thursday nights sometime after 5:30PM at World's Best Comics, 9714 Warwick Blvd Newport News, Virginia 23601.

++++ START OF SESSION ++++

This session we had a former Player visit and he brought his entourage, including five large pizzas for everyone. That would be 5 honor points for his former character that is now an NPC.

This left me with the dilemma of continuing HackMaster this night or playing something else.

It was an odd coincidence that morning. Before I leave for work I usually grab the few extra things I need to run the game and take it to my vehicle. But that morning while looking at my "game stuff" on the shelf, I had an odd feeling. Instead of ignoring the usual voices in my head, I paid attention to them as I heard them saying: "Take a multi-player boardgame, ... take a multi-player boardgame, ... take a multi-pl ..."

So I told the voices to "shut up" and I grabbed Avalon Hill's original "Civilization" copyright 1981, knowing it was my only board game that could handle up to seven players.

I had expected we would not even have a quorum as we were down two Players due to schedule conflicts. So when the former Player appeared with his entourage, there was room for everyone. Dilemma solved.

++++ OUT OF CHEESE ERROR ++++

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Tracy Johnson
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