Geek Recreation Day: Boozin’ and Streamin’

man_high_castle_tv_series_mapIn a somewhat-of-a-stretch Beastie Boys homage, I thought I’d bring you all a geeky report on the televisual marathon some of our gaming group just had…

  1. The last episode of the first season of Man In The High Castle, the “the Axis won” Amazon alternate history series based, as is everything else, on a Philip K. Dick story. The series is pretty good, we want season 2 to come out!  The finale was – well, not quite as murderfesty as the end of a Mario Puzo novel, but still reasonably dramatic. For this, we drank two Apple Brandy Spritzers (pronounce it really German-ey! Apple brandy and club soda.).  Last time we watched this series we went to the liquor store trying to find German and Japanese booze, and it was an eye opening experience, because they don’t have any that’s any good.  (Beer and sake don’t count). We’re not frat boys so we’re not drinking Jagermeister or Goldschlager, so some questionable German brandies and some sake were all we could muster from our friendly Twin Liquors.  Even in the show the Nazis drink “American brand whiskey.”  Perhaps their lack of decent distilled spirits was the bond that brought the Axis together (same deal with the Italians – Galliano?  Campari?  They all taste like ass juice.). The powers of gin, vodka, and whiskey came together to tamp their evil asses back into place. Let that be a lesson to you.
  2. Next, a shot of Patron Roca tequila and the pilot of the Amazon series of The Tick.  A lot higher budget and more actioney than the previous ill-fated Patrick Warburton live action adaptation.  Not quite as cool as the cartoon version – the actor for the Tick only 80% sold me on it. He was saying the quotes, but saying them and not feeling them. I’d like to see a full season, but with some Tick improvement.
  3. Then, some Courvosier and the Amazon pilot of Jean Claude Van Johnson, a weird show where JC Van Damme plays himself, but himself as kinda retired and washed up, both from movies and from being an actual black ops agent called “Johnson.” He gets back into both chasing an old flame, to mixed results.  It was entertaining enough but it was a very odd tone – and I don’t think that tone would be sustainable over a series, I think it would inevitably go goofy serial Burn Notice or something, so I don’t think it is a go.
  4. We decided to graduate to movies.  The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse was entertaining since I was a Boy Scout in my youth, and zombies, and just enough boobs for an R rating.  Champ from Anchorman is the scout leader and the ginger from Workaholics is the first zombie kill, and Cloris Leachman is the crazy cat lady. That’s it for people you’ll recognize. Not quite Shaun of the Dead, but not Zombeavers or Zombie Strippers bad.  For this, more tequila, now sipping not shooting.
  5. Next up was The Sasquatch Gang.  Like Napoleon Dynamite but not as good, but vaguely entertaining. We had to turn on the closed captions since the blond shirtless guy mumbles the whole way through Boomhauer-style and the chick gets her jaw wired shut and then hiss-mumbles the rest of the way through. It has the kid from Live Free Or Die Hard and a bunch of other people you don’t know except for a cameo by Napoleon Dynamite. (The similarity to N.D. is neither accidental nor subtle.)  It’s about finding Sasquatch tracks and some small town geeks who do the foam-sword thing and Carl Weathers shows up in a cameo as some glory-chasing cryptozoological expert. For this we had to break out a custom drink I call the Krusty the Klown – it’s Southern Comfort and cherry juice.  Tastes like cherry cough syrup.
  6. And finally, P-51 Dragon Fighter.  This is a goofy made-for-SyFy type movie where Allied pilots in North Africa fight the newest Nazi weapon, dragons, complete with swastikas tattooed on their wings. By the guy who did Jack the Giant Killer and Sand Sharks (man, Sand Sharks sucked).  This was weirdly uneven.  Some of the acting was really good. The sound work was pathetically awful.  We had to turn off the closed captioning nonetheless since it lagged the movie by a full minute. The CGI was halfway decent.  But the costuming budget was approximately $200 total.  They managed to cobble together one halfway decent Nazi uniform and had sadly blank ones on the two other high ranking Nazis; none of the Allies wore anything other than a tan shirt as best as I can remember. Those who had to drive couldn’t drink for this one; luckily it was at my place so more Krusty the Klowns sufficed till the SoCo was gone.

All went according to plan – as we got more drinks in us, worse and worse movies were entertaining and not trying!  I am not sure any of those three movies are watchable fully sober, and I know the latter two certainly are not.  I feel like I’m not remembering some other drink we had, we did something else sippy with ice early on, but I fear the other 8 or so drinks have elided it from memory. This is over like 8 hours though, so it’s not like we were ultra-snockered. Some ice water and cheesesteaks were involved partway through as well.

Wrath of the Righteous Chapter Five, Herald of the Ivory Labyrinth – Fifth Session

RunelordAlderpashFifth Session (12 page pdf) – A brief vacation back to Drezen and then into the prison again. We beat up the two-headed marilith warden and go and convert a Runelord lich to the cause of good.

There’s a big setpiece fight against the warden, Aleshka, who’s like a double marilith.

Antonius hits Aleshka so hard she loses two hours of her memories, in addition to an incredible ocean of hit points. He also learns that she is (like all demons) immune to electricity and poison. Tabregon explains that this is because demons are traditionally employed in the Facilities departments of semiconductor fabs – they need the electricity immunity because they need to be able to work safely with 13kV transformers, and they develop the poison immunity because semiconductors require the most toxic chemicals at the highest purity possible.

If only this were a joke… Bruce works in semiconductors and is more than pleased to inflict lengthy dissertations on semiconductor minutiae upon us.

I (Antonius) have what I consider to be the best power ever, the mythic champion path ability Imprinting Hand.

By touching a foe, you can gain knowledge about it, including its weaknesses. To use this ability, you must first successfully hit a foe with an unarmed strike, natural weapon, or melee touch attack to make contact, then use this ability is a free action. As long as the target remains within 1 mile of you, you always know the direction and approximate distance to it. If the foe has any weaknesses or vulnerabilities (including a mythic flaw), you immediately know this information.

You can maintain this connection with only one creature at a time; if you use this ability on another creature, your connection with the previous creature is lost.

So not only is this super Irori-ey, but it means we get to find out backstory that is otherwise just wasted space in the AP.  So after we finish running off Aleshka Paul gets to just read her history and background to us!  Makes him feel good, gives us more appreciation for the critters we whack…  My favorite mythic power.  Second across all powers ever only to Gobo the gnome’s moonlight bridge ability from Jade Regent, man that was a good power.

The one thing that frustrated me though was that I kept touching mythic foes hoping that one day one would have a mythic flaw and not be just “do lots of hp of damage to me”… And it never happened.

Then we meet the Runelord Alderpash, and in a very super heroic set of interactions, I get him to accept atonement and convert to the side of good!  Most of the others just wanted to leave him to rot in his prison. I kept at the guy, and made some psycho rolls, and bing!  Good Runelord lich on our team!

Wrath of the Righteous Chapter Five, Herald of the Ivory Labyrinth – Fourth Session


Ivory Minotaur

Fourth Session (8 page pdf) – It turns into Mazes & Minotaurs as we get closer to Baphomet.  And we find a ball of twine that ends up being the best magic item ever. Plus a heart to unlock the next plot portion. This AP is… very video-gamey.

For some reason Chris starts calling our allied Solar Sargona “Belinda Sargona.” And sometimes “Beverly Sargona.” We get our entertainment where we can.

Most of this session is a giant puzzle room, which we make good headway on solving until Trystan decides “run around like a butt monkey and just trigger it all” is a better plan. Sigh. We could have done that without all the commune spells and planning and stuff. Paraphrased from memory:

“I open the door that obviously summons minotaurs!”
“A minotaur appears and attacks you.”
“I open it again!”
“Another minotaur appears and attacks you.”
“Dude, what the fuck is your problem?”


Wrath of the Righteous Chapter Five, Herald of the Ivory Labyrinth – Third Session



Third Session (6 page pdf) – We venture into the Ineluctable Prison in the Abyss to fight demodands and oozes. Then we are confronted with three cells, one with a demon, one with a devil, and one with a halfling… What to do?

Well, so funny story… We finished up this AP and then I forgot to post the remaining summaries!  So here you go, some Paizo mythic AP goodness.

Mainly, we fight demodands.  And more demodands.  And we find out there’s a Runelord about, which is bracing.  That’s about it for this one!  Chapter 5 of each AP may as well be called “The Interminable Dungeon.”

Reavers on the Seas of Fate, Season Five, Fourth Session

Fourth Session (13 page pdf) – “Ra-ha-DOOM! Part II” – Planning, a hard boiled egg eating contest, and a prisoner escape – Port Godless has everything!


Ahbib Atomy

Crewwoman Zorzi has been bought by a local man obsessed with green eyes. The PCs have diva Octavia Selene, who also has green eyes, and they try to broker a swap but my random roll decides Atomy’s pretty happy with the current deal.  The “two women with green eyes” thing, as you might surmise, was ad-libbed as a Big Trouble in Little China reference (the whole slaver thing was made up on the spot due to bad shore leave rolls). I considered spinning it into a bigger Lo Pan kind of thing but in the last season I had asked how in depth the PCs wanted each leg of the journey to be, and they said “not much Rahadoum.”  They sure got into it once they were there, but I respected their earlier vote and didn’t go too nuts.

They hire a navigator to get them to Ilizmagorti, secret island of the Red Mantis!  Well, not that secret, it’s a big port.  But secret, they destroy all maps!  Somewhat confusing in the lore, so I decide that maps are out but navigators who’ve been there before are in, and a valuable commodity.  Also, high level crewwoman Kitty the Cantankerous came down pregnant from a bad shore leave roll months ago and absents herself on pregnancy leave.


Rombom the Sage

They go to a sage named Rombom to research the black stone egg they cut out of a xill survivor.  I made that shit up off a random roll in the first place so I had to scramble, off a random Google I decided it’s related to a nalusa falaya, a Choctaw shadow-type spirit. They were into it enough I decided that having it in you (embedded, swallowed) would protect you against inhabitation by the nalusa falaya and related stuff, like say the recurring shadow demon villain who likes to possess the PCs. So Serpent swallows it (using his serpent transformation to make that feasible).

After this the session took a turn for the increasingly more hilarious.

The egg thing “inspires” the PCs to hold a Cool Hand Luke style egg eating contest to gamble with the locals about. I forget the exact mechanic I used, but it was like a Fort save that got incrementally harder with each egg eaten… It couldn’t have been more than +1 because Billy Breadbasket managed to make it to 23 eggs and defeat all comers.

Drunk and full of eggs they wander back to the ship.  Crew craftsman Karomander had gotten a good shore leave roll and so got something… I don’t remember how “clown puppet” made the list but it was probably stolen from something a player said.  So Karomander decides to put his new clown marionette guarding the ship’s gangplank.  To a crew of PCs, ‘creepy clown figure’ is just another day in the life, but typically, they start ultra botching the fight against an inanimate object. Wogan nearly shoots Serpent in a panic when the clown jumps on him.  Good times.  I gave it 50/50 whether Sindawe would murder the man, but he was so impressed with its ability to inspire incontinence in potential boarders he gave his approval to the whole scheme.

argentatebladesAnd then, having a Chelish diva on board leads inevitably to DRAMA!!!  So the Argentate Blades, a bunch of swashbuckling do-gooders from the Rival Guide, come to spring her! Sindawe’s the only one who notices a noise on deck and goes out there…

They exchange blows while Sindawe yells, “Boarders!”
From the map room, Wogan yells back, “Charge them rent!”
Serpent yells, “Hoarders?!? The bane of every tidy ship!”
A caster hidden by the fog shoots a blinding light at Sindawe that dazzles him for a round, then Estella stabs him. Then she steps back into the mist.
Serpent charges out and seeing no one else demands, “Captain! Settle a bet. What did you yell – boarders or hoarders?”
Sindawe grits his teeth.

So the Blades fight with the three PCs, with the swordswoman Estrella giving Sindawe a run for his money, their little halfling mom popping out of the mist to cast spells, and…

A voice rings out, “Haha! You are too late!” A man wearing light armor and hot pants is standing on the rail with Octavia clinging tightly to his torso. The man grabs a rope and swings them to the pier. Wogan shouts, “How did we see that? There’s fog and darkness!” The man yells back from the pier, “I used my cloak to swish the fog away. Drama!”

Wogan keeps trying to find the halfling in the dark and mist and he just keeps rolling so badly, I couldn’t keep from punking him…

Wogan finally hears the stealthy halfling and slaps her with a held cause critical wounds. But it turns out to only be the ship’s clown doll, Mr. Smiles. “Come on!!!” he laments.

So Billy Breadbasket, as careful readers of the summaries may note, has been eyeing Pirro for a while, and Pirro is pretty drunk right now; they didn’t quite make it back to the ship but as the fight moves to the dock…

Serpent runs after them only to slam into the partially naked figures of Billy Breadbasket and Pirro who are emerging from behind the crates to figure out what the heck is going on. All three pirates go down in a heap.

I’m a big fan of “the dice are often more right than I am.”  Sindawe demands to know who was supposed to be on watch when these goons got on board.  I roll randomly on the crew table and it falls on a couple crewmen who died, but no one took them off the Word doc we use as a crew list.  So I decided that in-game, too, no one had noticed that the people who were supposed to be on watch weren’t around any more.  The group found that immediately plausible. “The bane of every pirate – paperwork!!!” They updated their list.

And we end with a civilized sit-down and deal with the Argentate Blades.  It’s really, really hard in D&D to pull off the otherwise common trope of fighting someone and then befriending or at least dealing civilly with them; usually it just puts them on the ETERNAL IMMEDIATE HATE MURDER LIST so I was proud of me and my players that we managed to pull it off.

This whole session was pretty much driven off a couple random rolls and whatever the PCs got it in their minds to do and me brainstorming ways to make their lives interesting while in port.  It was a very successful session, from my side of the table it seemed at least! It’s these kinds of sessions that get us these 13-page summaries, whereas combat heavy ones are just like “and we fought something, done.” There’s a lesson there somewhere.


Reavers on the Seas of Fate, Season Five, Third Session


Azir, aka Port Godless

Third Session (13 page pdf) – “Ra-ha-DOOM!” – A layover in Azir, also known as Port Godless, gets complicated when some of the crew are sold into slavery. A mix of diplomacy, wealth, and violence is used to solve their problems.

This session was about flavor – Rahadoum is like an atheist Morocco (Essaouria, specifically, I decided, especially since it still looks ancient not modern making pictures like the above ready-made visual aids).  So I wanted the PCs to get plenty of the cultural flavor.  First, the Pure Legion searches their ship for any religious contraband and warns them about divine spellcasting in the Kingdom of Man.

Rahadoum_FoodThen, their rescued friend Youssef ben Youssef turns out to be a man of some means. He gives them guidance, hooks them up with people that can craft magic items, helps them sell their booty… All for a very reasonable percentage, at least that’s what they are led to understand.

They have lovely and exotic dinners with Youssef (“a tajine of lamb, plums, and eggs, harissa with olives and lemon pickle, and a pastilla of squabs”), drink mint tea, et cetera. When hitting a new country, I do a lot of prep work – I read everything I can find Golarion lore wise, and then I research relevant real-world cultures where there’s an obvious analogue, and then I make stuff up.  But for some north Africa, there’s not a lot of need to make stuff up, there’s flavor galore. Architecture, culture, food, clothing, etc.

And of course, as with any shore leave, I roll for every member of the crew to see what goes well or awry – there’s a lot of crew, so even with just 1-2 and 19-20 being material, a lot happens.  Nazzio buys into some scam about being a Chelish count and leaves the ship; they get an albino goat as a mascot which they immediately name Nazzio.  And slavers try to abduct a bunch of the crew; half get away but Slasher Jim, Mase Venjum, Pirro, and Zorzi are taken!

Lacking divine magic, they draft children instead, and manage to free everyone but Zorzi. but they find out who she got sold to.  However, slavery’s legal here and there’s a bill of sale and everything, so they just barrrrrrely restrain themselves from home invasion and murder and negotiate for her return. The local urchin Said is a big hit, especially when he sasses the pirates about “of course, all citizens of Azir can read” and philosophizes, showing that even street urchins in Azir consider themselves well lettered.

The negotiation ends up involving their captive Chelish diva, Octavia.  She’s a drama queen who spends half her time getting kidnapped and ransomed so she’s usually a step ahead.  She convinces the soft-hearted Rucia to sneak her off the ship – the plan’s discovered. I was interested in whether Wogan would narc her out to Sindawe and whether Sindawe would beat/murder her like he would any disobedient crewman, but he puts her on laundry duty as punishment and handles it “in house.”

Reavers on the Seas of Fate, Season Five, Second Session

Second Session (6 page pdf) – “King Xeros of Old Azlant, Part II” – Alien lobster men beset the pirates as they tamper with Things Men Were Not Meant To Know aboard the planar ship King Xeros. But, they end up with a new Rahadoumi friend!

Sorry all, the summer got super busy.  But I’m back with more Reavers goodness, and plan to start posting about more than just the summaries too.


Lobster men, aka xill

This session had its ups and downs.  This is a Pathfinder Society module called “King Xeros of Old Azlant,” and it’s weird, with a planar-travelling Azlanti crystal ship and xill (lobster men) and more.

Sindawe went in alone, and was good-humored about being paralyzed and stuffed into the ship’s workings. Mitabu tried to mess with the controls, which ended up throwing a disintegrate at Hatshepsut, which would have zorched her if not for an Infamy Point spend.

They they fight off the rest of the xill, which turns out to be quite a challenge, but Samaritha frees the night hag whose soul-energy is currently being used to power the ship (it runs on sentient creatures, of course, because the Azlanti are dicks).

They beat the xill and free some Garundi humans, and then Mitabu goes to fiddle with the controls again.  This ended up in an argument after Samaritha mind controlled him to stop him from disintegrating anyone else.  Ed, Mitabu’s player, was upset about being mind controlled by Samaritha and felt it was railroading that they couldn’t get the planar ship for themselves. He had already been unhappy; Mitabu was built to be pretty ineffective in combat, and I tried to put in opportunities for him to shine but they got sabotaged (like when Serpent swiped his scouting mission on Staufendorf Island).  And his girlfriend Ashley had already left the game. End result, he ended up not returning to the game. Unfortunate, and I could have handled the mind-control differently (in fact, we retconned it right after it happened) but on the other hand, I wanted to be able to put in a side adventure like this without having the campaign turn into Planescape, so IMO you gotta work with the narrative sometimes. But, different strokes.

Then we have some “Alien” style aftereffects (the xill are Alien ripoffs) with some of the survivors, but they catch that early. And it’s off to Azir, also known as Port Godless!