Thursday, February 24, 2011


I was tidying up one of the computers that I use at my work and I discovered a .PDF that I had totally forgotten downloading.  It is a Random Robot Generator by Sean Wills, and you can find it over at under the heading "General S&W Resources" as "Robot Generator for gonzo-style S&W by Sean Wills ('Geordie Racer')"

First off, I love that you get to roll all the dice!  We were just having yet another discussion about the poor old d12 at the Labyrinth Lord session last Monday.  Well, you get to roll the d12 for perhaps the coolest part of this chart; the mission the robot is out on when encountered!
If a Small Clockwork Snake Robot with 10' Ray Attack that can Find Traps out on a Retrieval Mission doesn't float your boat, then what the hell is wrong with you sir?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Theory vs. Play Experience - I am an edition relativist

What Is "Old School Play"?

A lot of time has been spent on old school blogs over the last few years talking about what exactly the OSR is, what makes the earlier editions of the game different from modern iterations, etc.  This discussion tends to break into two main sub-topics; a discussion of the mechanics of old school, usually including fast and simple character generation, rules-lite systems, and relatively low-powered, high mortality games; and old school as an ethos, a system-less "style of play" or way of doing things.  As James over at Grognardia reposted recently, 
"We don't explore characters, we explore dungeons."  

There are definitely a lot of default assumptions as to style of play to that seem to go into most old school games, if I may broadly generalize from reading hundreds of actual play reports over the last few years here on the blogs.

I have noticed many times that my actual play experiences do not always match with the theoretical arguments advanced by proponents of mechanical old school definitions.  What I find is people looking at their actual game experiences, and attempting to explain how the mechanics of the game they are playing led to that experience.  For the purposes of a theoretical exercise, it is convenient to assume that there is a direct cause and effect going on there - the mechanics of the game = the play experience.  Of course, anyone who has ever played a role playing game knows that there is a missing variable in this equation; the face to face interaction between the players and the DM, and ultimately, how the DM as final arbiter of the rules parses the system as well.  

When you are talking about actual play experience, you are venturing firmly into the realm of the subjective; you may not even find consensus among a group as to what the play experience was to each member after a session.    So many things go into the experience for each person; how they interact with the other players, how they interact with the DM, the personal assumptions that they bring in to the game...

I Confuse Myself (and you?)

Switching gears here, I was once a philosophy major at Tulane University.  But the more I studied philosophy the less I became convinced that theoretical exercise was the path towards any kind of truth.  Ultimately I am an agnostic in the broadest sense of the word; I try to maintain a conscious awareness that I do not know anything for certain.  

That does not mean that I cannot have a discussion with somebody about the reality that we both assume each other lives in - it just means that I don't like to frame that discussion in any kind of universal terms.

Back to my point - while I would certainly agree that it would be ludicrous to suggest that game mechanics have NO impact on actual play experience, I would argue that they have such a minimal impact compared to the giant elephant of group/DM interaction in the room that it is either impossible or very difficult to make meaningful observations linking mechanics and the actual flow of play.

The reason this is true is because PEOPLE are just too damn complicated of a variable.  You would think this would be a simple matter:  IF Labyrinth Lord has fewer rules, AND 4e has more rules, THAN Labyrinth Lord will run quicker at the table.

But that does not take into account the wide variation among players and DMs.  There are groups of 4e players that have the rules internalized to the point that no one would ever have to open a book to refer to them, and there are groups playing Labyrinth Lord that have to constantly stop to refer to the rule books, or to explain how combat works, and what dice to roll again, etc.

Okay, now I am sure I have pissed off/lost a ton of people.  What do you mean there is no point in talking about mechanical differences!  How do you explain the fact that I like Labyrinth Lord and my group explores a sandbox and slays critters with alacrity, and yet I hate 4e and when I tried it it sucked; surely mechanical differences must have something to do with that!

Well yeah, sure, but...

The mechanical differences don't explain the differences in your play experience once the game is actually going.  I think there is a far more useful way to look at mechanical differences between editions.

Wherein I try to Wrap it All Up:

What the different mechanics do across the editions is they require more or less buy in from the player to be able to play the game.  Once the player has bought in (successfully navigated character creation and understands the rules), the game can be played and the mechanics may even cease to matter to the game play experience in any meaningful way (again, in my own experiences as a player and DM of old and new school systems).  If the entire group has "bought in" to the system, the group dynamic can easily cause the play experience to match the desires of the group.    Group/DM interaction is incredibly powerful and can make the lamest game rock and the coolest game suck, as long as everyone is invested in making it happen!

That does not mean mechanics or editions are not important.  On the contrary, mechanical and edition differences are very important!  They are so important that they can make or break the game for somebody before they ever get to the "actual play" part of the experience.  Most people can sit in on a pre-3e version of D&D and pick up the general rules within minutes of play starting.  Once the first combat starts, a few more details might need to be ironed out, but in general, there are very few barriers erected mechanically in the rules to prevent somebody from getting it.  So why would any game add rules and complications that might prevent a player from enjoying the game?  Ah, now the discussion might go somewhere besides a repetition of the same tired old song of "simple game mechanics = old school play and complicated game mechanics = new school play".  Some people shy away from a game that provides many tactical combat rules - just as many people may chafe at the lack of character options and abilities available in old school games.  There is a reason there are a ton of people playing 3e, and 4e.  The editions changed the way the have over the years because players DEMANDED more options, more rules, more mechanics!  The problem, in my opinion, is that rules lite and rules heavy are always framed as opposites.  Old School and New School are presented as a duality.  Why not have both in the same game?

  I firmly consider my 4e game "old school" - not in any mechanical way, but because the actual play experience is old school.  Unfortunately, I could never share this game experience with my good friend Carter (to pick on him for the umpteenth time today, because I know he is a good sport and is genuinely interested in this subject as well), because he simply does not like the default mechanical assumptions of 4e to the point that his mere presence at the table would grind the free-flowing game that I know and love to a halt.  I would love to get Carter to be able to experience how the game runs, but I don't think that would be possible short of somehow swapping his brain out with one of the players in my 4e game; if Carter could somehow magically ENJOY comparing the relative benefits of one feat choice vs. another, or the tactical implications of his movement in combat, he could play a session of the game and he would never have to stop to have the rules explained to him, and the game would run as it has run and he would think to himself, "Wow, 4e really is a great game, and it sure is old school!".   Well this is not the land of make believe and that ain't gonna happen, because 4e was designed with such a giant mound of potential barriers to players that many gamers will never get to enjoy what a 4e game could be like in actual play, and many others are so turned off by what was expected of them in char gen and rules mastery that they hate the actual play experience.

Why can't a game support a play style, "old school", for instance, through multiple mechanics?  Once we have accepted that different people enjoy different things, and that some people want the mechanics to be dirt simple as a player so they can just get straight to the actual play experience, and other people actually enjoy spending hours outside of the play sessions tinkering with mechanical options and choices and generally getting to interact with the rules outside of play - why can't we provide a game that gives both options to players?  Couldn't we then put the mechanical issues to bed and just focus on some good old "Old School" game experience?  

This is similar, in point of fact, to the original game - fighters were your basic dirt simple char gen, and magic users were for your "system mastery" guys.

I would love to see an old school game that includes a much more complicated char gen and combat rules set as an optional system to go alongside the basic char gen and combat that is so often assumed to be a requisite of old school games.  If you turn that default assumption on its head, I don't see why you couldn't do this.  Characters created through the complicated char gen would satisfy the players who love having multiple options to be able to fully create that character they envision; as long as this does not lead to the complicated char gen characters being more powerful in play than the simple char gen characters (and that is just a matter of doing the math right and playtesting).  I see no reason that a single game cannot both satisfy the guy who just wants to hit it with his axe and the dude who wants to make the perfect tactical choice of powers for the moment; and as long as both end up having about the same statistical chance of doing roughly the same damage, why couldn't it work?

This is actually how I suspect many old school games work anyways; players in the group that want to engage mechanically with their characters to a degree not supported by the rules usually figure out a way to do it with DM support, and this normally can go on side by side with players who put absolutely zero in outside of sessions without conflict.  This is one of the reasons long running campaigns tend to become such teetering constructs of houserules!

Anyway, I hope this long and rambling post has at least some kernel of interest that might be taken away by a reader.  I sincerely do not intend this post to be yet one more salvo fired in the Edition Wars - I am an agnostic edition relativist, and I game in peace.


If anyone regarded my last point as unseemly because it was a personal response to another's blog post, posted here rather than in the comments over there, it was simply because my comment exceeded the blogger maximum character limit and I didn't want to waste the 5,000+ words I had just banged out so I copy and pasted it over here.

Even though the post was directed at Carter and in response to his post, I think the topic in general is worth posting about.  I hope the particular method I used did not make the whole thing seem confrontational, as this was not my intent:  I love Carter, I love playing in his game, I love 4e, I love Labyrinth Lord, I love D&D in general, and I love me some Mutant Future most of all.

Thanks Everone!


Edition Differences

This is a continuation of my last post, but it originated as a comment on my friend Carter's excellent blog, responding to this post.  It is therefor written in the second person, addressed at Carter, and references some past experiences we shared (namely Carter's brief foray as a player into the jungles of 4e).

So...   @Carter:

I really feel like your frustration as a player in the one or two 4e games you played in was due to two factors:

One: The DM had no previous experience in any edition and literally started combats before giving us any options;

Two: The other players in the group liked spending time mastering the system outside of the actual session time (and had done so).

You totally failed to notice the true point of  what I was saying:  the commonalities between editions occur DURING play, and the extra work requested of players in 3e and 4e occurs OUTSIDE of play.

You did not, as a 4e player, invest the required amount of time outside of the session to understand how the game and combat worked.  When it came time to play the game and especially to fight, you did not know what you were doing, people kept telling you you were doing it wrong, kept overriding what you said you wanted to do to tell you what you SHOULD be doing, and generally made you feel like the game sucked big donkey balls.

Had you played with group of like-minded players who also spent no time outside of the session understanding the game, you would have had a much better experience - you guys could have all quite happily ignored your powers and the (actually quite simple) intricacies of what you can do on the battle field, and you could have charged in with your dwarf and hit things with your battle axe in EXACTLY the same manner that a Labyrinth Lord combat proceeds.

4e supports that; it just also supports much more.

When I say that the commonalities occur during play, that presumes that any requirements made on a player outside of play have been met.

This is a big point, and a big if, but IF you spend the time required to actually understand all of your character's abilities and how they work in combat, 4e combat feels very similar to any other edition.  I really feel that the modern editions are just geared towards a player who wants to engage outside of the session, and previous editions provided more or less no rules for this.  To me, that is the single biggest difference, and the root of all the moaning and bitching about how different 4e is. It requires a different commitment of time and energy from the player before play begins, old school players are not used to that, they do not spend the required time and energy, and therefor, they NEVER ACTUALLY PLAY 4e OR PATHFINDER (or whatever modern iteration we are talking about).

If you don't know the rules of the game, and you don't care, then you aren't playing the game.

I would respectfully venture that you have about as much basis to make an intelligent critique of 4e combat as a monolingual English speaker has of critiquing the Upanashads in their Sanskrit incarnation.

You have no idea what was happening, and you didn't like it.  That has nothing to do with how the combat engine worked, and everything to do with your willingness as a player to engage in complicated rules.

Again, I am certainly not trying to minimize differences between the edition; outside of play, there are HUGE differences!  LL character creation takes all of five minutes and I could easily spend HOURS building a 4e character!

I am just saying that in play, assuming the players and DM are all aboard with the system (which the system assumes as well), I have observed little to no differences in how the games run.  Combat takes place the exact same way in your Labyrinth Lord game as it does in my Mutant Future game as it does in my 4e game as it has done in every D&D game since the first campaign;
Initiative is rolled; players and enemy combatants go in order and say what they are doing, and roll a single d20 to determine its success.

That is it.  Period.  Just because a 4e player has many more options to choose from before picking one and rolling the d20, does not mean that the basic mechanic is different, nor does it impact the flow of combat AT ALL.  As long as the players are familiar with the abilities of the characters in 4e, combat is just as quick flowing as Labyrinth Lord.

You would just have no idea, because you never got to see a 4e game in action where the DM and players were all on board together.  Nor would you want to, because as a player, you don't want to think about rules at all, and you actively rebel against a system that asks you to.

Now... on to the second main point of my little mini-rant, which was that the final product of Labyrinth Lord (or any other old school edition of choice) + houserules is much closer to the modern iterations of D&D than most would care to admit.  That is because most houserules are aimed at exactly the same kind of player that all the extra rules in 3e and 4e are aimed at.  Many players chafe under the perceived restrictions placed on them by a simple game like LL.  At this point, you and some of your players have put considerable time and energy in your Labyrinth Lord game into making more complicated character classes, more options for players in character creation, and more options in the game in general outside of combat.  Most long running old school campaigns that I am familiar with grow and morph over time, adding in rules and interpretations, player options, etc., precisely to satisfy the same natural desires of certain kinds of players that led to 3e and 4e taking the shape they do today.

[EDIT - I first posted the following as a comment on my own post.  I think it is important enough in the terms of the larger debate that it should be included in the actual post - Carl]

Oh, and the healing surge point is utter horseshite, pure and simple. A classic straw man. All the 4e healing surge has done is acknowledge the de facto way the game has always worked. What, exactly, is the difference between a character using healing surges to heal themselves outside of combat in 4e vs. a Labyrinth Lord character drinking a healing potion? In fact, the healing surge mechanic actually serves to LIMIT the kind of totally absurd combat that can occur in earlier editions when characters are loaded to the gills with potions. Each character has a limited number of surges, and when they are gone, the character cannot be healed in combat. Each character can use one surge themselves in combat, by forfeiting their attack that round: this cures 1/4 of their total HP. Other than that, healing surges are activated by other characters with healing magic: an individual character's number of surges, then, is a cap on the total number of times they can be healed in combat. A cap that earlier editions did not have; it is ironic, then, that the healing surge is always held out as the ultimate example of what is wrong with 4e, the ultimate gamist rule.

It is less gamist and absurd than totally unlimited clerical and potion healing!

Monday, February 21, 2011

OD&D = B/X D&D = BCMI D&D = AD&D = 2e = 3e = 3.5+e = 4e (in play)

I 100% agree, no reservations, with the sentiment Mr. Mearls expressed to begin this kerfuffle.  I run a Mutant Future (heavily houseruled) game, and I run a D&D 4e (heavily houseruled) game, and I play in a Labyrinth Lord (+AEC, heavily houseruled game)... and guess what.  IN PLAY, the experience is exactly the same in all three.  And of course, the experience is totally different.  Completely unique to the game and the moment in all three, but while the game is going, we are playing a role playing game and occasionally rolling dice as decreed by the GM filtering the rules.

I could care less what the current version of D&D does, but I totally agree that the differences of edition are trivial compared to the commonalities experienced at the table.

In my opinion, the biggest differences between the editions are rules aimed at players who want to engage OUTSIDE of sessions.  I would never ask someone brand new to RPGs to join the 4e game I run - I would ask them to join the Mutant Future game - 4e asks a much higher load of a player before the game even begins.

Old School Gamers Beware

 There is nothing wrong with rules aimed at accommodating a player who wants to engage in the game outside of the session!  In fact,  a good DM should always encourage and enable a player's desire to participate outside of sessions.  Good old school DM's do this without needing rules for it written in the game they are playing; if the player wants to get badass at using that cool scimitar they found, you figure out a way to express that at the table in a manner that works.  The end.

New School Gamers Beware

There is nothing awesome about rules that make a player jump through hoops if the player doesn't want to jump through hoops!  Many players will be alienated before the game even begins and they even get a chance to experience the real magic of RPGs in action.

The Point Is:

The final product of houseruling plus the old school game system of choice is far closer to the current iterations (Pathfinder, 4e) of D&D than most of the OSR would care to admit.  And the actual play experience when the dice are rolling, the food is eaten, and the libations consumed - good fun was had by all, and to all who give a fuck about edition in any kind of negative way, fuck off.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Internet is a Megadungeon

And there is some fucked up shit waiting to devour your soul, tucked away in a rarely visited sub-level.

I have been spending a lot of time lately geeking out on my own website - modesty never my strong suit, I bought the domain name a while ago and I just recently purchased hosting and started making my site.  Time spent making my site easily navigable, integrated with Facebook, findable by Google, etc., got me thinking about dungeon design in a whole new light.

My website is a small little collection of hand-carved tunnels; but it is part of a megadungeon.  There is a cave mouth in a little hill outside of town; that cave leads to - the home page - the "front door" of my little corner of the dungeon.  This cave is mostly empty, well visited, with five tunnels leading away to other chambers of my site, each tunnel mouth helpfully marked with the name of the destination chamber.

[Internet Megadungeon Feature 1: All exits are clearly marked with a descriptive name for the destination]

There are other exits as well, obvious exits, but these dive straight underground and travel a great distance before re-emerging in other regions of the vast megadungeon;; the kingdom of myspace; one lengthy and serpentine passage even emerges right here in this blog!

But wait!  Might there be more to the well traveled entrance chamber than first meets the eye?  Graffiti scrawled on the cave wall seems to have been left by the original cave builders, goblins of Clan Carlnash.  One scribbled note seems to be referring to a secret exit from this chamber!  The secret door is not hard to find; if the cavern wall is prodded, one section will be found to swivel on a central pivot, revealing a black portal beyond...  the portal leads to another dimension, the dark side,  Anyone running their mouse over the home page will find the "secret link" as their cursor turns from an arrow to a selector icon when it passes over the hidden exit.  Using visual clues as to likely locations for the secret exit may speed up the search.  Those bold enough to step through the portal may not so easily find their way back; the only exits from the dark side go further into the dungeon besides one marked "Destination as yet unknown".  This unnamed portal does return to the home cave.  The dark side itself is unremarkable; it has a blacker feel and a strange image for a banner, but not much else... unless "Detect Magic" or a similar ability is used... then it is revealed that hidden messages and locked portals were woven into the very substance of the dark side during its creation (hidden messages and "shadow links" in the source code of the page).

Leaving the home cave down one of the five exits leading further into the carlnash caverns, explorers would soon find a peculiar feature of the megadungeon; most chambers within a level of the dungeon will be totally interconnected, allowing for easy travel from any point to another in only one step.

[Internet Megadungeon Feature 2: the original dungeon designers WANT the dungeon to be easily navigable]

The carlnash caverns are also connected to a parallel world, with gates to the world in every chamber... but the gates are one way FROM the world to the caverns!  The gates are plainly visible in each cavern, marked with the ancient symbols of Facebook, and invite any who know the secrets of that alternate reality to use their secret password to unlock the gate and open a two-way portal directly to the speaker's Facebook homeland.  Using a gate in this manner does leave a visible power signature that makes it possible to tell how many visitors have activated it.

[Internet Megadungeon Feature 3: many exits and other features will be password protected; prior membership in a particular organization or subterfuge may be required to gain access to passwords.  Carrying a badge of membership in an alternate reality like the Kingdom of Facebook will often unlock different content in many rooms throughout the megadungeon.  Many other actions and even the paths taken by Internet Megadungeon explorers may also impact what content will be found as the megadungeon is explored...]

[Internet Megadungeon Feature 4:, over time the dungeon will make itself appear as the explorer WANTS the dungeon to appear (cookies; the targeted ads/treasure maps and personalized content/room decorations feature...)]

Long term observers of the carlnash caverns would notice that the front cave is not the most heavily trafficked area; more than twice as many explorers come through the portals from the land of Facebook directly into various areas of the caverns than enter the caverns through the cave mouth in the hill.  The busiest cave is the vast cavern that houses the Nash Emporium.  The few vendors peddling their wares in the dark bely the bustling underground marketplace the chamber could hold.

A greedy adventuring party would soon grow tired of the caverns of carlnash; there is not much loot to be had at this point (just a few free song downloads and free art) and like almost all explorers of the Internet Megadungeon, the party likely possesses a magical warp whistle that lets them teleport to almost any other section of the megadungeon at will.

[Internet Megadungeon Feature 5: the URL bar is the magic warp whistle, and all explorers can just teleport to a known destination or use the scrying balls that are cheaply had at any general store (search engines like Google) to find a destination]

Map of the Internet!

So why does our brave adventuring party not just teleport to the biggest chambers full of loot, slay the dragon, and party like it is 1999?  Sometimes all is not as it seems in the Internet Megadungeon.  Many clearly labelled exits actually lead to somewhere completely different; many well known and previously safe chambers may suddenly become home to cunning assassins who strike from ambush, or worse yet, use tasteless, odorless gas to cripple explorers from hiding.  Countless factions live out their lives in the Megadungeon, and many vie for the attention of the party.  Come raid our caves, they hiss from the shadows, our dragon is uncensored, and our jewels are available for free download...  lies, all lies!  The dragon has a giant black bar obscuring its chest, rendering your slaying arrows impotent as they find no target.  The jewels, so carelessly scattered, vanish into vapors in your clutches as chuckling devils run out clutching contracts.  The free download is of a trial gem!  It is a worthless piece of crap crudely shaped to look like a gem!

[Internet Megadungeon Feature 6: subsequent inhabitants of the megadungeon take advantage of rules 1 - 5 manipulating and breaking them in an attempt to harm and rob explorers...]

Thursday, February 10, 2011

To Win and Lose Some: Recapping Our Adventures in the Amazon

Hello everyone! It's me Mike again...I know it was forever since my last post, but I wanted to post my weekly email recaps here, so any who are interested can keep up on the crazy situations Carl keeps throwing our way!

This way he doesn't have to post it for me...although I do enjoy laziness to some extent.

Anyways, on to the recap!

So we start off with Old Man Goudy disabled before us. We take his pouch of powder and ask him about its contents. We discover a pouch of white deer fur, sewn shut with gold thread, at which point he tells us that it is a powder he paid too high a price for. Apparently, it allows you to see anything, anywhere, anytime, without knowing exactly where you’re looking…awesome stuff! However, he also told us a story of his past once I helped him feed Akili his “wife”, who was cursed for eating a magic River Dolphin. He told us a sob story of how she was jealous of him fathering all these children in his Pig were-form and that she wanted a child, so she performed this ritual to summon the powerful river spirit and mate with it….which involved eating the dolphin flesh. He further stated that the powder in the deer skin pouch was made from the ground bones of a river dolphin and their son was cursed by the dolphins as well, into being this hideous, mentally unstabled/delayed creature. Akili kept their son calm by using one of her pseudo pods that she shoots out from her flesh that has accumulated from her curse and mass eating to blobdom, apparently these attachments burrow into the brain of the person they are fired at and allow control. Also, Goudy said his mother was from a sacred temple on the island of the Bady Badys (the temple of the Bady Badys) and his father was a spirit from one of the protective statues on the temple. Apparently immortal until they leave the temple, she had left the temple to seek a life of mortality and the spirit had basically seduced her and gotten her pregnant. As it turns out….GOUDY IS A DAMN LIAR!

Argh! Was Antillia furious! The rest of the party was keeping Akili distracted while I was helping him grow food to feed her (because she is sustained by shadow food where as no other food will “fill” her hunger) and she was riding their son (the hideous river creature) and headed for the air ship where Goudy was located. Using our magical portal coins (amazing little ritual devices that work as a portal focus and are the size of a coin…in sets of 2) we were able to get ‘Tillia into the shadow world and bring him along with Bob’s portal ritual. Now…I was more than happy to help someone in need, who dropped a sob story on me of how oppressed they are by their insatiable wife and his crazy son and how it takes him FOREVER to grow the food etc. etc. etc. However, once we finished up with Akili and Goudy for the time being, we went down the river and thanks to Bob’s awesome idea to put his feet in the river water and try and commune with the spirits of the rivers, he managed to get us blessed by the light-hearted sprite of the river. This resulted in us having a bunch of the River Dolphins show up and bless our boat! Bob is the man! I should also mention that we discovered these dolphins while Hammer was using himself as a fishing lure and trudging the bottom of the river for useful items, while being tied to our boat. This to me, is an amazing use of the ability to go without breathing and I am just amazed at how useful it is! While trudging Hammer managed to uncover some spheres of black and white clay that were along the top of a low wall in the river. They were placed there long ago by what we think might be the ancestors of the “Song People” and are warding against the Bady Badys, which are apparently some sort of eye sphere abominations. They are spheres with 4 eyes circling the center of the creatures. They aren’t very big, but they incite one to remove their own eyes upon seeing them. So, of course the first reaction of the party is to now hang onto these warding devices. Through some Arcana checking we realized that the clay sphere was much newer than the trinkets inside warding against the Bady Badys and, to our amazement, something else! So with Bob’s ritual to look into the past of an object, we found out the trinkets inside are a preserved human eye from a powerful sorcerer (which is coated in a clay, shaped to look like an eye) and a small white, four-armed ape statue. (Oh Great. These guys again…) We found out the eye wards against the Bady Badys. The clay sphere is enchanted to be hardened (Clay Pot +2!) and is set to always return to its spot on the wall in the river. We couldn’t figure out what the white ape statue does, beyond the fact it wards against an ability. Having run into these apes before, we made a knowledgeable guess it wards against them returning from the dead, or perhaps keeps them from raising up the dead as stone guardians. What it does, none of us want to tear our eyes out…so Hammer immediately made a necklace out of his to hang around his neck stating, “If we encounter these things I’m going to hold it above my head and close my eyes.” Sensible to be sure…so we decided to hang onto them for now and hopefully we can learn more with further study.

So, I know I side tracked a bit…but back to the River Dolphins! So after Hammer kicked up these trinkets and notice the Dolphins we decided to have a chat with them. Antillia (thanks to her Hekura) was able to talk with them and they seemed super friendly, happy, joyful, and cherished nothing so much as their river. Similar to Unicorns (Unicorn of the Sea! Dolphin Safe!) in their care-free, happy-go-lucky manner it gave us a good idea why the curse upon Akili, Old Man Goudy, and their son was so bad. After chatting with them for a bit and them telling us they were blessing and guarding our boat, I asked them about Old Man Goudy. They immediately picked up on who I meant, saying that he had coerced a temple guardian to leave her temple and forced her to perform the ritual. He couldn’t produce an offspring powerful enough, so he used her love for him to get her to perform this horrible ritual. So, the River Dolphins, had all come together to curse all three of them. (Originally Old Man Goudy had said he was impotent and unable to bare offspring in human form) So they cursed him with impotence, her with the insatiable hunger, and their child so he was unable to grow into the powerful creature and fulfill the destiny Goudy wanted him to. They made their son mentally delayed and with the urge to kill his mother and father. This is why Akili was using her pseudo pod to control him and why Goudy strived so hard to keep her happy and fed. It created a dependency circle that I’m sure Goudy despises and hence his want for a cure to the situation. The deceiver. After finding this out Antillia was enraged! Hammer and Bob weren’t as surprised, and I have to say that deep down Antillia didn’t expect him to be honest, but he did teach her a weave she could use in the shadow world to make a structure that would stay the same shape and endure the shadow world’s influence without changing. This is a HUGE find for her. I suppose Antillia was angry with herself for being even slightly moved, more so than she was surprised at him being a liar.

At this revelation we were getting dangerously close to the joining of the two rivers into the one great river, where Bob had discovered a flow of chaotic energy created by a whirlpool at the center of the confluence. In the exact middle of this whirlpool was, go figure, Goudy’s tower home. Well, to displace the energy of the whirlpool and get us through it safely (because we wanted to show the River Dolphins we could navigate it without fear) Antillia retrofit some of our “Rail Cannon” insect legs to absorb energy and store it in the meteorite piece we use as a battery. She began sucking the chaotic energy in the area out of the whirlpool. Luck! It seemed to be working splendidly, however, it was settling the whirlpool and causing the Goudy tower to rock on its base. Apparently, the whirlpool’s forces were keeping his spire upright. So came the choice….suck out the energy, destroying the whirlpool forever, and topple Goudy’s tower….or stop and let the whirlpool continue, leaving his tower intact. Antillia was busy manning the battery and blasters, Bob was on the helm, and Hammer was keeping the rigging in line. All three of us looked around at one another, eyes making contact, measuring our own motivations. Hammer exclaimed, “FUCK YA! Screw that tower!”, Bob shrugged his shoulders and mentioned something along the lines of, “It’s an abomination of nature.” Trying to convince ‘Tillia that this action was more just, than not. Meanwhile, ‘Tillia was worried that she had just found the best teacher for some new knowledge of herbs, the shadow world, and overall new talents…and would already make him an unwelcome enemy.

Over went the tower, away went the whirlpool, and powered up was our meteorite battery to such an extent that we’ll not have to worry about running out anytime in the next forever. And thus…Antillia gained and lost a master within an hour…..

-Mike P.
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