Déjà vu Redux Part Beta

September 12, 2021

If I feel like I keep saying the same things, what must it be like to read every single one of my posts across the last dozen years?

So, let’s talk about repetition.  Not (hopefully) my repetition of PCs, decks, card ideas, complaints about games, or whatever, but the concept of repetition in games.

Prima facie, repetition bad, really bad to repeat things, like again and again, because life is a constant struggle against boredom and variety is the very herb of life.


Why do experienced players get pulled to limited play?  Well, if playing Magic, because limited formats for Magic are sweet repeat.  But, for other games where limited play isn’t the double dog diggity, because even with a constant influx of new cards, CCGs are prone to stale plays.  Games with infinite variety for all intents and purposes and, yet, Govern + Stealth + Conditioning or Imprisoned unless Neutron Bomb time or mighty, mighty, mighty, …, Support of the Mighty or “can I borrow some of your combat dice to finish rolling my 200 Last Battle dice?” or whatever.

In theory, lower card limits in CCGs reduce repetition.  That seems mathematical or something.  Yet, do I feel like VTES is more prone to repetition than Shadowfist than Babylon 5?  I don’t really feel it.  Now, there are reasons VTES isn’t like oMagic, where you could run your 10x Mountain and 30x Lightning Bolt if you really wanted.  VTES incentivizes variety to a degree with the action modifier and reaction limitations.  And, yet, I’ve played at least one 3cl deck where the only cards were Govern, Cloak, and something else, maybe Ascendance.  Shadowfist could be incredibly redundant since there’s no minimum deck size, but that same lack of minimum deck size causes me to run fewer copies of cards, basically just scale back what the proportions of a 60 card deck would be where the one-offs become correspondingly a higher percentage of draws.  B5 actually had a strong repetitiveness problem because …

The more unbalanced the card pool is, the more likely to see the same best cards.  B5 not terribly oriented to combo decks, either, where combo decks may run cards wouldn’t normally see in other decks.  Now, combo decks can be extremely repetitive in what actions they take when comboing off, but, on the other hand, once a combo deck combos off, the game is supposed to be over.

There’s a bunch of complaining about certain plays in Shadowfist at the moment because they are boring.  I’ve often tried to get people to play variant formats or ban cards or whatever to reduce repetition in VTES.  But, is it all bad?

I was pointing out recently something that relates to this – clearly superior cards and strategies makes playing CCGs easier.  Some folks can’t seem to build VTES decks because NCL doesn’t give them a sense of how many copies of cards to play.  But, also, when everything in a card pool is worth playing at a tournament level, can’t metagame (which is a skill), can’t play to an opponent’s strategy, have to know what vastly more cards actually do.

There’s a reason that Magic has gone with many, many versions of the same cards, e.g. burn.  It makes the game easier to get into.  The massive complexity of CCGs is reduced with card similarities, strategy similarities, staples, tier 1 archetypes, or whatever.

Bleed at stealth is a baseline for what the game is supposed to be like.

Also, you can’t do something different if everything is different … om-m-m.


Okay, CCG repetition I can’t escape, but it’s totally possible to not just keep doing the same thing over and over in most RPGs systems … if you are stupid.  Again, players use their best abilities over and over again – otherwise they wouldn’t be their best abilities.  Most systems don’t do anything to discourage doing the same things repeatedly.  This is why I like combat to last few rounds most of the time – fewer opportunities to just “I fireball again”.

Meanwhile, some systems want you to describe doing the same thing over and over differently, which is tedious.  Want actual mechanical reasons to “not reveal my true power”.  Builds are often similar as, for instance, some attributes are better than others or some skills or some spells or whatever.

But, again, you get a situation where subverting the SOP can blow people’s minds.  Maybe not the greatest thing when every character should be unique since this isn’t a competitive game where various skills improve chances of winning.

Now, like a lot of people, I’m prone to playing similar characters.  That can be boring as well, though I’m far more concerned with repetitive actions, activities, plots.  Even similar characters can diverge as stuff happens narratively.  I mean, isn’t that how oD&D characters develop any sort of character?

Now, there are games that force not doing the same thing repeatedly, but, then, how is your character defined if it’s never doing the same thing?  Spider Man webs things, senses danger, swings.  Anomaly Thing may have cool powers, but it would be rough to play in a campaign, anyway.

Arc Flash has a variety of powers.  I’ve used a variety.  I Strobed things last session, Lightning Bolted the previous, used Fog to make water, put out a wildfire with Weather Change, powered something with Quantum Conversion, once upon a time tried to Stun Attack stuff.  But, you know, I’m still more interested in using skills over using any of his powers, as there’s still something repetitive going on.  I used Bioluminescence to make a flashlight for the first time last session, but, because it didn’t affect anything, it wasn’t actually cool.

Meanwhile Chuda Kitayakei Jade Strikes or Earth Stagnations or Katanas of Fire, and it’s not really more interesting to me than Miya Tatakisu “call 5 raises for extra attack”.

I guest ran a couple Conan sessions where I came up with a monster that was extremely hard to deal with using common party tactics but highly vulnerable to fire and not once did the party try using fire even when NPCs did.

RPGs are just hard to analyze for things like this because there’s some threshold of boring versus not boring and it can vary for even the same person.

True Dungeon

This was a TD weekend.  I only did three runs.  I did goblin fighter on first run, polyish druid on second run, and acid sorcerer on my last run.  It was all okay.  The three-class Trippin’ Acid run worked exactly as planned, and I think that was part of the problem.  It wasn’t just too easy, it was too predictable.

Now, on all three runs, we did exactly the same path.  But, 6B actually has less content than 6A, where the two different paths had three different rooms.  Also, the puzzle I liked the best was ditched, while the two I didn’t find interesting were retained.

The irony of acid sorcerer is that the whole point was to do the thing I think makes Wizard-Sorcerer suck – keep casting the same spell over and over again.  I originally thought sorcerer was great because you had no dead spells, but, after playing with Charm of Spell Swapping a fair amount, I realized that part of the charm of the spellcaster classes is having to choose what spells to cast.  So, I became a hater.  But, then, I realized something about 6A – casting the same spells over and over again was totally metaing the dungeon to death.

Our paladin Guards two wizards shinobi team totally crushed.  First combat, 1 round.  Second combat, 2 rounds.  Third combat, 2 rounds (paladin luck).  Fourth combat, … 7 rounds, where I cast the same spell twice and another spell seven times.  Yup, saved all five slots to cast the same spell five times plus Ring of Spell Storing plus Conserve.

We are all getting tired of the same dungeon, to varying degrees.  I actually don’t mind doing like five runs each weekend … of the better dungeons.  I don’t rate 6ABC as one of the better.  The last combat isn’t that interesting to me, even if the whole point of my Goblin Weapon Oil and sorcerer builds was to exploit it.

Then, I’m tired of all of the treasure.  It’s just depressing to not get more value, but I don’t like treasure in the first place.  I don’t want more uncommons and rares, ever.  I don’t care about monster bits.  Some of this stuff might be interesting if they were actually unusual to get, but it’s tons of the same stuff, then even high end stuff is from a limited list.  If there were previous years’ relics and legendaries and weird stuff, including even rares from previous years, would be vastly more interesting to me, but still not interesting enough for me to actually want to deal with it.  I just want people to pay for the tickets of VTD and I play, with the odd PTD run to actually physically interact with TD.


There’s a reason I prefer CCGs and RPGs to boardgames …


I did actually play videogames once upon a time, like in the last century.  I played the same ones over and over.  In some cases, it was fun.  I just don’t have any reason to play something so antisocial as videogames, much like how I have no interest in eCCG play.

Disorganized Day

September 6, 2021

I’ve done the Labor Day thing before.

So, I don’t think I’ve just had a random thoughts post in a while.

Pretty much everything CCG related I read these days is … not Traveller CCG for some reason … not VTES because I’m on Discord a lot.  Shadowfist, even as I write this, coming off posting on SF server.

So, I was thinking about what makes games good.  Yeah, I know, this is redundant to what I’ve written before.  But, I was thinking about how I’m more interested in the results of games when I know what produced those results.

I feel that with VTES.  Maybe I’m wrong in my analysis, though that’s pretty much impossible.  I don’t know what produces SF results.  So, I just don’t care as much about results.  I mean, I often don’t care about VTES results, either, like in virtually any non-tournament game.  But, I think this is where my appreciation of SF is very different from people who are Lackeying it up and trying to accomplish winning things consistently.  I appreciate it for the weirdness.  I don’t care much about deck construction, which actually helps me build decks, whereas VTES deck construction has become such a chore because I do care how my tournament decks are built.

So, I was driving in the car and thinking about my favorite characters in Naruto and Boruto.  Once I couldn’t think of that many characters I like that much, I tried to expand to Bleach and … I guess YuYu Hakusho.

Favorite characters in Naruto:  Might Guy, Jiraiya, Kosuke, and, uh, maybe some guest stars.  Ino becomes lovable.  Rock Lee becomes worse.  There are aspects of some characters I like, sometimes Naruto is likable, sometimes obnoxious.  Gaara becomes basically likable.  Hinata is okay but still too wallflowery.  Part of the problem is that I’ve been rewatching a lot of later episodes of Shippuden, so the characters have changed over time, like Itachi.  I actually like some aspects of Karin, but she suffers from Sasukeobsessionitis rather than getting meaningful personality traits.

This is actually going somewhere, but first …

Favorite characters in Boruto:  Naruto, Sasuke, Class Rep.  Favorite characters in Bleach:  Rangiku, Yoruichi, …  Btw, those characters for multiple reasons, not just the obvious.  Ichigo’s father.  YuYu Hakusho:  Kurama.

Yusuke, Ichigo, Naruto, Sarada all have similarities when it comes to my feelings towards these characters.  I like personality traits they have, I like things they do/powers they have, I like some of the battle decisions.  But, they have the thing in common that made me not like the mains in Wheel of Time a lot of the time – they aren’t mature.  I’m not interested in coming of age stories.  I’m not interested in children’s stories or teen’s stories or whatever.  Give me Tam, Lan, Thom, and Moiraine in the later books.  Sure, Perrin is fine before Faile … because he’s mature up until his fail(e).  Rand is cool when he’s all “Why would I be afraid?  He just needs killing.” and Mat becomes the coolest up until the very end where his story just peters out.  Naruto and Sasuke in Boruto are the adults, along with Sakura and Ino and …  Rangiku and Yoruichi have more than just physical maturity.

Give me more stories with Kosuke taking on jonin over some whiny brat whining about something or not hitting on hotties.  Kurama in the tournament is just so much cooler than the rest of team protagonist.

So, why does this matter?  I like mature characters doing weighty things.  And, yet, coming of age heroes is ubiquitous in storytelling, so, obviously, other folks like other things.  I think Naruto’s saga is amazing.  There are so many brilliant moments, many of which involve Naruto himself.  I find Boruto is more interesting when Boruto is a secondary or nonexistent character, as even his powering up is pretty boring due to it feeling unearned.  So, when I play RPGs …

Wait, hold on, when did this become about gaming?

… I want “serious” stories, if not always serious stories.  Again, the point of a secret identity is not goofy efforts to maintain the secret identity that become increasingly implausible/absurd.  The point is to have those humorous moments.  In Denver CRUSH, we are in Mexico City at the moment.  My character’s family is from Mexico.  Running across some relative while in the hood is a story element to deepen the narrative while not being grimdark.

I built my character for a new L5R campaign.  Did adjust a couple of things after first draft.  What I spent more thought on characterwise, though, was his daimyo, as the GM wanted daimyo material.  Just an echo chamber – PCs need to be played, the longer the better.  Doing determines definition.

We are 20 sessions in on Denver CRUSH.  I think more needs to happen.  Too much time deciding actions, not enough impactful events.  I do think character advancement can collaborate with character activity to enrich story.  The GM for the L5R game was surprised by how many skills my character has, but it’s skills that provide mechanical identity.  This is the difference in oD&D and 3ish D&D – oD&D, every class is just defined by level with attributes making some small impact, where skill point D&D meant you could define a character uniquely beyond class while feats were another way for customization.

Miya Tatakisu had an attribute feature – Agility 6.  But, Moshi Shigeo?  I think he ended the campaign with Earth 4, but he mostly had E3.  I think he’s Fire 4.  I think he’s Water 3.  I don’t know if he ever went to Void 4.  And, yet, I do remember him having Perform: Shakuhachi and the Tsurugi emphasis of Kenjutsu.  While I got on an unbalanced Rings kick with L5R characters to make them more distinctive, all it takes is like one emphasis to achieve similar things with far fewer XP.

Arc Flash has been gaining dots in abilities rather than actually getting better at things that affect blasting supervillains.  Sure, Medicine actually helped the party, but Arts doesn’t seem like it will, even though it’s a critical buy for something geniusy planned for later.

I think I forgot some other random thought that actually had to do with gaming.  Oh well, keep forgetting to get caught up on Boruto today.

Nobody Expects The Spanish Chile Con Carne

September 1, 2021

The analogy should be obvious.

So, much like how I have essentially infinite honey and infinite vinegar to make agrodolce until the heat death of the universe, I have essentially infinite herbs and spices to try to use up.  The only spice I can actually run out of appears to be cumin.  Now, I keep wondering what happened to the bay leaves that I kept finding when I didn’t have a use for them to where I wonder if I should break down and get new bay leaves.

So, to use up a lot of ground beef, chili.  Or, as we monolinguals like to call it (when writing blog posts that are in theory about gaming), chile con carne.

So, why did I go Spanish?  Still had a lot of the Spanish paprika used in previous chili.  Also, because my life is ridiculous, had a jar of piquillo peppers and a little thing of diced pimientos (sure, that could be a lot of things, but, if you search diced pimientos, you will see exactly what they are).

Creating a gaming experience based on random crap you have lying around …

I picked up Tuala Morn because of good reviews and possible application for Celtic play and Atlantis: The Second Age because I’ve played it and liked it at Gen Con.

My last attempt at a RPG campaign overdid my trying to cram every possible Easter Egg into it, but the idea of riffing on prior material still seems worthwhile to me.

Suppose you were going to do Naishou Province L5R campaign.  Sure, there’s the mixing with “you are a brand new minor clan”, but something more differenter would be mashing up with my thought of an all hengeyokai (Hengoyokai) all of the time campaign.  Being out of the spotlantern at least some of the time is important for shapeshifters.

Olive oil (as opposed to grapeseed, sesame, or the always sitting around truffle oil), onions, fresh garlic.  Too much ground beef all at once so that it didn’t brown very well.  High fat content with too much olive oil already started out as too wet.  Piquillo, pimientos, sweet peppers.  The other “Spanish” thinking was to focus more on Spanish herbs and spices.  I’m sure there’s saffron around here somewhere, but I didn’t care enough.  Couldn’t avoid cumin, coriander, and nutmeg, but rosemary, parsley, oregano (well, Mexican Oregano because this stuff never gets used up), more cayenne than other spicy spices, lot of the Spanish hot paprika.  Black pepper, salt, garlic powder, red wine, lime juice, …

Other than using up stuff I never acquired in the first place to get rid of it, I’m inclined to use things I like.

I’m not into sci-fi, so I’ll avoid sci-fi elements, even if, for instance, Atlantis has some.  Feng Shui has plenty of sci-fi stuff, but my Feng Shui Tu Huo campaign focused on chi and magic and not so much tech.

I certainly own RPG books for things I’m not interested in running … because, um, it seemed like a good idea at the time and I’m all about making terrible decisions.

I don’t have any San Marzano Tomatoes on hand … to my knowledge.  (I was using things like olive oil for Asiany stir fries when there was a massive can of sesame oil somewhere else in the kitchen, so whatever.)  So, diced tomatoes and tomato paste because someday this tube of tomato paste will get used up and there was so much meat that I figured one can of tomatoes wouldn’t be enough tomatoiness and I *also* didn’t want to just cut open another can of tomatoes.  Though, before this very wet ingredient, put the cashews in.  Yup, not forced to use pecans for my “bean” texture.  Now, it is kind of wasteful to end up with soft cashews, where I probably should just go with cashews as a finisher along with the corn, as I have in the past.

Let’s say I retried Legend of the Burning Sands but decided I didn’t like the terribly underdeveloped jinn rules and wasn’t inclined to put some minimal effort in (and, yet, went to the effort of adapting R&K to Feng Shui).  I could take some totally coherent system used for Arabian themed stuff and … wait, what’s the totally coherent system that … wait, is there any RPG system that’s totally coherent?

I tasted the chile while it was cooking.  Sure, very oily, but I somehow think I’m a grease fan.  Definitely a slow burn that seemed attributable to the paprika mainly.  I put some in a bowl to go with mole, guacamole, and chips, tor- … [please stop].  The goal was to actually eat some guacamole but taste the chile, with the guac giving a cooling element.  It was okay, together.  Separately, not the best guac, and the chile was way too fruity.

What’s the worst game I’ve run in terms of a system mismatch?  It’s not like I’ve run a lot of RPG campaigns.  I can’t actually think of choosing a terrible system.  There’s a reason I own a lot of miscellaneous RPG systems.  GURPS would probably drive me nuts to run, even though two things:  one, I love a bunch of the GURPS supplements; two, I’ve read that it’s actually far smoother in play than it seems, gee, heard the same thing with Hero.

I haven’t had the chile purely on its own.  I did make a cheeseburger last night and fried some oven hash browns […], then dumped my chile [can’t you just call it chili?] over both … yup, frozen hash browns only partially crisped up with a bunch of wet chili dumped on top and not eaten immediately.  I’m amazed I haven’t given myself food poisoning (again) as the meat was old when I bought it, and it tastes sketchy.  But, I haven’t seemed to wreck myself with a check I can’t cash [what?].  Instead, my chili, I mean, chile cheeseburger and chile hash browns were bland.  I added some spicy BBQ sauce from a packet to, er, spice it up.

So, I don’t know what the chile is actually like straight.  Sadly, I still have more of the ground beef left to try to poison myself with, em, turn into like a curry kebab with that ancient jar of curry paste that still has some dregs remaining.

What would have happened if more of my RPG campaigns had lasted longer?  Would the Solomon Kane game have gotten more and more over the top?  The LBS game become too hard to track?  Other campaigns that didn’t go as well as those two actually get any better?  Gaki Mura find a new footing in a post-“gate to Gaki-do no longer next to the town you guys built” world?

Do I add something to the chile?  I don’t know.

If I run another game, do I season with __?  I don’t know.  I don’t seem to adjust well with RPG play, where I can imagine how to do some flavor shaping on this chile or, far more likely, just eat it with other stuff to mute the fruitiness.

When The Magic Is Gone

August 29, 2021

Charles de Lint – “Like legend and myth, magic fades when it is unused.”

I’ve been selling my Magic cards.

There’s several reasons for this.  One, my life seems better than it is.  Wait, that’s too depressing for a game blog.  One, I have crap everywhere, only a bunch of which is “mine”.  Two, last attempt to rekindle the Magic was met with ennui.  Third, highest and best use is a concept that people with economics backgrounds and who passed a real estate exam(!?!?) can wrap their brain energy around.  Four, when Dave told me he had sent his Magic to his nephew to sell, likely reinforced the idea that I’m never going to do anything with these cards.

Stage one was to take over like 5000 cards either in sealed booster boxes, in boosters in a mostly full booster box, or completely opened and left in the booster boxes.

I keep mentioning to people I’m baffled as to why I opened a box of New Phyrexia and proceeded to alphabetize by card type/subtype, including the creature tokens.  I think I vaguely recall why I might have opened the Rise of the Eldrazi box, as it might have had bombs I was looking for.  But, in either case, by opening the packs, I killed the usefulness (outside of tedious random pack generating) for Type P.  Sure, there was a brief period where I was trying to play Legacy, but it never made any sense and only red deck wins could compete, and that was almost entirely foils from multiples of whatever that special deck thing was that was an all foil red deck.

Stage two was yesterday (I’m writing this on Saturday but … nobody cares).  I took over maybe 12,000 opened and organized to varying degrees cards from the long, long ago (for the most part).  If I miss anything, it will be the French Griffons Canyon and the like I probably got from being subscribed to Duelist’s(!) foreign pack subscription.

Two types of cards pleased my aesthetic sense far more than others – multicolor cards, non-basic lands.  I didn’t make a significant effort to get rarer cards of that type, but I paid somewhat more attention to them.  It’s pretty sad how much easier it is for me to read French than Mandarin, and it can still be somewhat pleasing to speak out loud some French even if it just makes one sound pretentious.

Two total tangents.

  1. I was in Shanghai and playing a game with rules written in French where I got the gist of what the rules were saying, while Laurent explained rules in Mandarin and English.  Have I mentioned this story before in this blog?  Maybe.  But, it’s timely.
  2. I occasionally get sucked into Youtube videos of the The Voice audition sort.  I’m so loving Sweet Dreams are made of The Voice, where the two performances I care the most about are Antoine Delie’s cover of La Pluie (original is a rap song) and Gustine’s “Elle a les yeux revolver” performance including singing it with Marc Lavoine.  Um, point being that even if I can’t comprends, it can still sound … more aesthetically pleasing than a variety of other languages.

Stage three is probably to go through my 100ish Type P decks (after I record the contents for blog fodder) and all of the loose stuff lying around like Italian Renaissance packs.  If you don’t understand Type P, like confuse it with Pauper even though Pauper seems rather not worth having 100 decks for, that’s around 10,000 more cards as the typical Type P “wizard” will have a universe of just around 100 cards.  I need to find that RDW deck that’s mostly foils, too, though I’m guessing that’s not going to be worth much since it cost little for me to make.

27,000 Magic cards sounds kind of low.  Maybe with more bookshelf space to move stuff from the floor of the deathtrap, aka computer room, that I’ll find more miscellaneous Magic.  But, whatever, I used to approximate my Magic collection at around 25,000, so it’s not unreasonable.

Anyway, why does this matter?

It brings up some things.  For instance, nostalgia of when Magic meant more to me.  I was playing badminton recently when my friend said he should ask me about the Magic Pro Tour shirt I was wearing.  I quickly explained that I didn’t participate in that Pro Tour, that my possession of the shirt had a much more banal explanation – Magic’s first world’s champion was a gaming buddy of mine for a while and he gave me the shirt.

One of my more memorable memories of a match of Magic was sealed deck at Zak’s place with Tempest cards.  We got into a stall.  With zero cards left in my library, after repeatedly Capsize-ing with buyback (up to twice in a turn) to allow me to plink with some flyer or something, I had exactly enough mana to Rolling Thunder to the dome for the kill.

Sure, I have vague memories of the Mirage sealed deck tournament I won.  There was the round I had to use Energy Bolt for life to survive long enough to burn out my opponent.  Almost like a theme of how I win at Magic.  There was the free Urza’s Saga sealed tournament I came in second after round after round after round of my friends waiting for me to finish losing that was all kinds of weird with how I would do massive sideboard changes as I played the same person like three times in this very casual tournament and we had lots of cards to draw upon.  I came in second in an 8-player Invasion sealed deck, where I was sponsored by somebody else that I did way better than.  Almost like a theme of when I don’t suck when I play Magic [constructed sea creaturehood].

It brings up the concept of moving on, of giving up, of having a piece of the soul ripped away.  I still have all my Babylon 5 cards, all of my Wheel of Time cards, so many Dragon Dice.  Why?  I’m not going to play WoT again, and it’s unlikely I’ll hop over to Cambridge again to play B5 in the UK.  VTES is still theoretically relevant.  Shadowfist is still theoretically relevant.  But, other than those two and Traveller, just holding on to stuff to not have it “go to waste”.

Hopefully, the chaff that comprises most of my erstwhile cards don’t just get tossed, that somebody finds a reason to use 2/1 Shadow creatures for 3.

I very much need to move on from a lot of things.  It’s progress that I can let it go on something gaming related when I keep the most ridiculous crap forever.  Of course, if someone would not just throw out my comic books, I’d like to get rid of those about as much as I’ve become motivated to banish the Magic.

I’m sure there are other ideas, too, involved in this anti-gaming activity.  Though, just hanging with the person buying them involved some Magic conversation and such things as why one of my Magic boxes had Non-UC! written on it.  Should be obvious why, but it wasn’t.

I do think Magic is great.  I do have positive feelings to lots of cards.  It’s just that I’d rather hold on to AD&D books that I’ll never use than cards for a game that frustrates me because it’s almost the best thing ever, but its failure makes it excisable.

Well, assuming I actually log my Type P deck contents, that will provide more memories of when the Magic was alive.

Untoken Fun

August 28, 2021

While the thread on the forums has died down about “balancing” the recent class legendaries, they’ve come up again elsewhere, and I got to thinking about something besides just rehashing my views on the legendaries themselves.  Nevertheless, why not rehash some?  I will eventually get to the point of this post, but it will be a slog of not exactly on point to build up to actual point.

The only actual good idea … with sketchy execution.  Can tell it’s already bad development when you have to go to a website to know what the token even does.  Then, because someone found a loophole, arbitrary limitation on polymorphing got created that reduces the value.  The spellcasting line is meaningless in comparison to the relic because another loophole hasn’t been closed.

But, it’s fun.  So much more fun than the other legendaries.  Now, is it vastly more fun than the relic or even the UR?  Not vastly, no.  However, I’ve used the potion ability totally not mentioned on the token and am interested in using that a lot more.  That’s the real gain over relic.

Single most bitched about of the bunch because other people’s ideas of fun are kill harder, smash harder, kill smash harder.  For some reason, people like combat to end in 1-3 rounds.  On a total tangent, I was thinking about what makes for good combat in True Dungeon and … … … why am I wasting material for a different blog post?

Also fun.  So, if you run Thor’s, the crit expansion is irrelevant, and Power Attack is irrelevant in my play.  It’s entirely about Double Strike.  Double Strike makes you feel almost as useful as a monk or ranger in combat even if you aren’t, while it’s something different from barbarian sort of, kind of.  More damage!  Okay, not sure why this is that fun, maybe it’s because fighters are such garbage without this token at the levels I play at.  Of course, both fighters came out as the bottom two classes you want on runs in a relatively recent survey, so fighters suck the most anyway.

Fun?  I guess so.  I one-shotted a demon because of this on a run where that was fun.  More healing is funnish.  More Grace is funnish.  I’ve never used relic, which is true of almost all of these tokens, so my perspective is in comparison to not running either versus running legendary rather than the upgrade.

Should be somewhat fun, but it’s not because the character builder requires 2h melee weapon when Fury works with ranged attacks.

Not fun yet, but I think this has the most potential to crack the fun list.  Options are more interesting to me than more kill, though the options are pretty much about how to kill faster.

This is funnish.  Sure, it’s absurdly overpowered, but I used multiple psychic powers and got to do DEX based monk build that I was okay with for the run, though shuriken build is more fun and doesn’t get as much out of this.

Yet another reason I shouldn’t play cleric:  besides that I didn’t really enjoy free action Prayers, the one time I equipped this, I totally forgot to use Divine Intervention.

I assume this is fun for other folks, who are into the kill harder.  I’ve never played rogue.  Not once.  Only interest is in subverting the class, so maybe someday will look to do a Normal run where I solo rogue.

Fun?  No.  Saves thing is funnish.  Primary benefit is boring as hell.  Now, in comparison to not being able to take any actions you want and bardsonging at same time, sure, that’s fun to the extent that I ever enjoy barding, which I don’t particularly in what I consider an ironic irony.

I’ve run the relic.  That wasn’t interesting.  This is not any more interesting.  I forced using the scroll ability to get some sort of interesting effect out of this token.  My choice for least desirable of the 10 recent class transmutes.  Ranger is such a boring class, even when you remember it has spells.

So, what’s the point?

The point is that thinking about whether using these individual tokens was fun or not got me to thinking about whether using any individual tokens is fun or not.  To a great extent, individual tokens aren’t fun.  What’s fun about builds is putting the tokens together to achieve certain stats.  Sure, some tokens are fun in and of themselves.  Charm of Final Repose is fun.  Charm of Blissward is fun.  Ring of Iuz is almost fun, though it does so little.  But, so much of tokens is about building an infrastructure in order to do fun things, like cast Fire Dart and Cold Dart for lots of damage.  Sacrifice has fun potential, Crown of Expertise facilitates more fun.

So, while I consider Iktomi’s the only worthy recent class legendary, TD fun isn’t necessarily about a token but about a build and … *gasp* … about what the party does on runs, even in … double *gasp* … in puzzle rooms.

So, I’m thinking a lot about cutting down on TD and selling off collection pieces both for that reason and because it’s too much value tied up in something that might become valueless in the future.  And, because I actually vastly enjoy more VTD over PTD, and PTD is coming back, next weekend even assuming PAX West goes off without a hitch.  Still, it’s a primary mental activity, so get to suffer through these posts.


August 16, 2021

There are games I play.  I play to relieve boredom.  I play to be sociable.  I play to … well, let’s get the quote right.

Life is a constant struggle against boredom.

So, in the absence of having something else to do, play some game because there’s some element gaming has that’s better than doing push-ups or whatever.

Then, there are games I care about.  These are games I enjoy beyond the playing of the game.  There may be some collection aspect – I certainly collect True Dungeon tokens to come degree and owning everything has always been appealing for CCGs I’ve gotten mentally invested in … or helped create, though owning everything for the latter seems kind of important until we create more unique promo cards or whatever.

I could have gotten into adventure videogames, MMOs, or whatever.  But, after my arcade phase, with only a couple exceptions of not at all sociable videogames, did I continue to use a computational device to play things rather than as a means of communicating the play of things.

Why do people play RPGs, that is tabletop RPGs even if the table is Roll20 or Discord or whatever?

Shouldn’t matter.

What should matter is why I play RPGs.  I play RPGs to experience a different life.  To varying degrees, events play out within the brain that create an escape from the constant war with the vast and unstoppable armies of ants or an escape from checking to see if there’s enough money in checking to cover rent or an escape from how eating reasonably causes acid reflux and weight gain.

And, yet, apparently it does matter because RPG play is a shared experience between enough people that one can term the collection of people playing the same campaign a group.

And, apparently, only some of the group is interested in the experience that exists outside of the temporal block devoted to the play of the game.

Which I find bewildering.  I find it bewildering to not think constantly about building CCG decks or mech lances or Frostwing armies or whatever between sessions of actually playing less story-oriented games than RPGs.

Sure, there can be some discussion on spending XP or some inferior advancement system like leveling up.  But, what about ideas for more communal stories?  What about delving into who our characters actually are?  Not just whatever psychological problems they have but what they care about and what they are trying to achieve, etc.?

In one of my campaigns, stuff occasionally happens outside of our sessions.  I spend way more time thinking about that stuff, even though it involves no other players, than I do what we do during sessions.

In another campaign, we have structure around what you do off stage or, at least, on your own.  But, it almost always only gets dealt with during sessions, which is a really weird way to handle activity intended to not involve other PCs.  But, GMs only have so much time.  They may have to worry about multiple people trying to get their attention.  Maybe running other games.  Maybe have relatives to pay attention to.

And, yet, players have it easy.  They can do things like write blog posts about True Dungeon runs in their battle boredom time.  One would think that if the players can’t pester the GM all of the time, that they could interface with each other to develop potential stories or even tell additional stories and turn around and share them with the rest of the group.

Do I put the same amount of effort into every RPG campaign?  Of course not.  Some have way more payoff than others for devoting brain energy.  Or, some are much easier to blast with brain energy.  But, the value I see in playing RPGs versus other games is that there is so much more to the gaming experience beyond playing that occurs outside of the designated temporal blocks.

While I can do such things as write solo fictions as I started doing for Miya Tatakisu, there’s a reason I stopped before he lost his physical body.  It wasn’t as real as it would have been if people cared about the fictions.  It wasn’t as real as it could have been if ideas I had got executed upon either with the group or with a GM, though being a character in a living campaign meant the concept of GM was different.  When writing fictions got you stuff, there was realizing story.

Problem with creating unshared stories is that the whole point of a story is for it to be shared, for it to be told.  After a certain point, I felt like I was putting effort into untold stories while writing more Tatakisu fictions.

I find it pretty common in my RPG play that players don’t care much about each other’s characters.  And, yet, under the theory that it’s a productive thing to care about each other’s characters, actually discussing aspects of our characters with each other between sessions seems like it would enhance the possibility of giving a damn.

I’m inclined to be secretive.  But, I’m also inclined to spew geniusness, er, engage in pedantry, um, radiate self absorption.

I suppose I should write up Julio’s Olympics “adventure” and post it in one of our three places for posting things campaign related, when it’s over.  If Kitayakei’s subplot stuff gets some development, perhaps that could be something to regale with.

Then, there’s my new character, Kaeru Odayaka who has seen actual play!  Didn’t do a whole lot, but, then, living campaign modules are very hit or miss on character development.  But, I’m getting off the point – what’s the in-betweening with this character that isn’t just discussing what traits to buy up to four?  I’m sure there is something even now that could be discussed, like how he would interact with Reikokuna and Nekohono’o, though, due to the state of the world, Odayaka is far more likely to have adventures without them for quite a long time before having adventures with them.

Anyway, what about you all?  Do you get gaming in with your RPGs outside of playing?  Or, are your groups a lot like mine that seem to treat RPG play more like a boardgame campaign?

Shock Therapy

August 9, 2021

VTD 6A was this past weekend.

I have another topic that probably doesn’t make sense to cram in, but I’ll still bring up the other gaming stuff I can think of.

Going to use CDT times for starts, so subtract two hours for my start times.


8:12PM, Can’t Touch This, B Side

Nightmare Double Down with minimum AC40 and minimum saves of 25 each, though there was some exceptioning.

There are True Dungeon classes I can’t even get to AC40.  I did a rogue build that got to 40, but its total damage bonus is … 1.  For comparison, I played fighter with +28 melee damage and Dave played druid with +28 spell damage.  Quite the stretch getting a second class to 40 that wasn’t a heavy armor class, caused my fighter AC to drop down to just 40.

We took push damage early, but we recovered and ultimately succeeded, though these sorts of builds give up damage output, so time is a huge consideration in the all important room.  Took us eight rounds in final combat.  We averaged at least 6.5 rounds of combat per combat room.

Pleasant.  Had time for some first thoughts.  First general takeaway from VTD 6A – funniest dungeon yet.  I was to find out later that it gets even funnier.


Needed lettuce and some way to use up fresh Mexican red chilis, so go to the grocery store at 7AM.  While beef gotten expensive, get massive pack with the plan of chili since some folks put chilis in their chili.  Considered ground pork, but the package of ground beef very large and the package of ground pork small, so it didn’t seem to make sense.

10:12AM, Playing Against Type, B Side

Nightmare Double Down where I played poly-Wizard – sacrifice useless 1st level spells to become wuss elementals.  Had +32 poly damage, only two more than melee bonus.  Only +18 to hit …

Paladin ranged.  Elf Hammer.  Barbarian ranged.  Ranger healer.

Room 1:  “Ranger, Ranger, I took damage!”

I became all four elemental types.  Didn’t find out until much later how bad my choices were.  Averaged around six rounds per combat, not close to winning on last.  Ranger died before room 7 and Charm of Lamentation triggered!!  Missed only one healing spell.

I spent like half my time working on builds for next run as some people don’t like making decisions.  Then, had to rush out to next run.

12:12PM, Epic Short, A Side

… Epic.  Played cleric to use Druegar’s for first time.  So, we tend to struggle on Epic when it’s the core players.  To some degree, it’s doing things like playing with six in unfamiliar dungeons.

My build was unfocused and poor in saves, only being around +20.

First combat, I cast seven healing spells as we get chewed up.  Second combat, three characters die.  Third combat, three characters need to be rezzed.  Fourth combat, decapitated.  May have noticed (or probably not), totally forgot to use Divine Intervention.

Have to leave right away for …

Bloodspeaker Campaign

With most players late, we mostly deal with downtime actions.  My noble priest makes two Theology rolls and three … Commerce rolls as only mechanical activity for the day!

So tired at this point, but no nap as do things like work on Sunday’s builds.


Bit of oil, 3ish pounds of ground beef browned, onion, wet garlic, remaining Mexican chilis.  Cumin, nutmeg, salt, red wine (forgot to deglaze, just added), lime juice, cayenne pepper, crushed chili flakes, garlic powder, dried epazote, Spanish Paprika, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Tunisian Harissa, pecans, finished with canned corn.  If I would have had cashews, would have used those instead of the pecans.  After waiting for it to simmer awhile, had a couple bowls, decided it needed more pecans, had a third bowl.

Spicy, Mexican chilis gave a smokiness.  As leftovers, spicy stuff can lose its kick and flavors can merge into one more boring uberflavor, but I’ve been liking it as leftovers, not even eating with something like tortilla chips.  Corn not as crunchy as other canned corn I’ve gotten, though.


10:12AM, No Spellcaster, aka Anti-Cabal, B Side

Nightmare DD as usual.  Dwarf archer, again, for me.

First roll/slide, crit 20 for 105 damage.  Used Arrow of Ricochet, so 115 damage.  We averaged 4.4 rounds of combat.  Used a +2 Holy Arrow, four Arrows of Weal Wind in another fight.  A last Weal Wind in final fight.  Never actually needed the healing.  We are likely overpowered for NM on these runs, but I really like them.  They feel like effort.

Two things made this not as fun.  Very tired.  Had to clean up both ants getting into cat’s food and cat throw up.  But, at least, I wasn’t still working on builds going into next run.

12:12PM, Mixed Epic, B Side

New folks in our extended group and two people we don’t normally play with.  Potter and Beertram hadn’t seen B yet, so B yet again.

Epic, with nine.  I lent out a lot of stuff, including stuff I never use, like Boots of the East Wind.  Barbarian was getting 5th level off of Charming Set.

I play ranger to use Ralson’s for first time.  I use three more Arrows of Ricochet on this run.  In one room, I Quick Strike for 52, crit for 108, do a total of 322 damage by myself, and we still took push damage.  We averaged 3.4 rounds of combat.  I get half-decapitated and am the only corpse when the run ends.  Fitting, as I was mostly useless in last combat.  Barbarian really carried that fight, doing 617 damage by himself over four rounds.  I did get to waste money by reading two Scrolls Cure Moderate Wounds while chillin’ in a puzzle room.

Never did make an Animal Friend …

Denver CRUSH

I pretty quickly depart to jump into supers RPG.  Session had just started.

We escort fae princess back to her brother’s and manage not to kill Sentinel through our unique Medicine efforts.  Wyld Hunt gets summoned to go after her, but Sentinel flies at 300 km/hr, so he just zoomed, while I flew at only 120 km/hr as a really bad wingman.  Trilbee grappled Huntsman.  Ghost Wolf blasted him away to pick up his horn.  When Sentinel dropped Buttercup off and Venus had previously teleported to fae king’s court to give heads up on Buttercup being on the way, Sentinel went to retrieve the other two.  I got to party some with the fae, mostly dancing.  He returned with Trilbee and GW, where they left our faerie dragon companion sleeping with the horses (not a euphemism), so I flew back to see if Fido wanted to go with us or continue hanging out in her world.

Because of our successful mission, I mean, quest, we get Green Knight’s grandmother’s dead spirit released.  I get the Tripadvisor download from the fae on what the main things to check out in Faeworld are if we ever come back, and … get something else.  We still haven’t actually returned or, as I offered up, woken up from Green Knight’s team’s gas attack in our supercell(s) from which we have been fantasizing about fae.

Finish early, so I have some time for chili before …

5:48PM, Solo Wizard, A Side

Finally, just me, my five Eldritch tokens, seven legendary tokens, and a NPC to face the dread power of … Normal.

I mean, not just solo, solo Wizard.  Besides, I had some interest in seeing what Normal was like, and, more importantly, the rare completion token for this dungeon is awful, where the uncommon isn’t, so it was the conjunction of the 47 round things.

AC29 on Normal.  +24 to hit, +20 ranged damage.  +29 spell damage.  Success ass- …

Total damage the puzzles did to me on this run = 0.  Total damage monsters did to me on this run = 3.  Total damage I did to myself = 104.

I was trying to avoid casting Lightning Storm, but I committed the cardinal sin of wasting time in a serious combat, so the horn was going off when I MECed it to kill everything besides my animal friend.  Something got to dance on this run.

I never used Shadowskin, but I did first round Quicken Cat’s Grace for that precious +2 to hit and +2 AC and use my standard action for … wait for it … Horn of the Valkyrie!  The valkyrie did suck up 10 damage.  Yup, typical TD run – Shadowskin never used, Horn of the Valkyrie absorbs 50% of all successful monster melee attacks.

I healed myself for four before going into final combat without using any consumables so that I had 38 of 42 hit points.  If I hadn’t used Conserve in an earlier room, I would have had just enough HP to Alter the Lightning Storm …

Sure, lots of these references will mean nothing to folks who don’t Dungeon Truly.  But, multiple horns on the same day, multiple dances on the same day.

I enjoyed the solo run, with its funny ending.

I like some of the aspects of B side.  I only found out about one of the interesting features on the fourth run of B side.  But, I do like A better.  Not so much for the reason so many others prefer A.  I actually like the A side puzzle.  It’s different from other puzzles enough, which has been a problem with VTD puzzles recently.  It has more textural differences, as B side is a lot of just being in the woods.  You there, you are in the woods.  I am in the woods …  Oh, you just need to find that comic.

If I would have run elf instead of hu-man …  Another TD reference you will either get or not.

So, overall, dungeon kind of bland in places.  Transitions really needed work.  Lot of funny stuff.  A and B both have interesting features and non-trivial differences.  I have one specific meta play I really want to do, now.  I would change several of the combats in minor and/or major ways.  Epic was brutal.

Winner, winner chili dinner.  Maybe not as appealing to play three weekends as 5ABC but should be much better than 4ABC.

Very tiring weekend.  Would have been way less stressful if we had organized better ahead of time and if the cat had finished and digested all of her food.

Kicking Around

July 30, 2021

As everyone who has ever existed well knows, I’m a sucker for mythological or folkloreian content for games.

So, while I don’t really pay any attention to my Kickstarter rewards, I did back this:

I’ve passed on a number of Kickstarters, including a Native American oriented one, because they weren’t trying to provide a rehash but were just inspired by the mythology or history or whatever.  I really want a great precolonization era source book for North America.  I do realize a lot of the problem with such is that so much history was lost to where it kind of makes more sense for people to make stuff up to create enough content.

Other random thoughts as I almost had full topics but forgot what I was going to write about.

While I’m not into elaborate backstories for PCs, when I was informed that Fiji’s only medal was in rugby 7s, I pointed out to the GM that another event Julio would be interested in (one I would be neutral on) is, um, rugby 7s.  So, while his backstory hasn’t terribly mattered, his family would care about baseball, his family would care about Mexico, he would be into sailing and anything Fijian, etc.

So, I keep pointing this out, but I’m way more interested in the civilian identity than I am the superhero identity.  I don’t really have good ideas for what he would do flying around electrifying things, where I have all sorts of ideas for what he would do when not using powers.  If he had his own comic, could have all sorts of stories around the world or even around Colorado.

I tried to think of any team sport at the Olympics I was interested in.  I’m certainly interested in “partner” sports like synchronized diving, beach volleyball (well, women’s beach volleyball) or bobsled, but I couldn’t think of any team sport I was interested in besides women’s soccer.  Even then, I don’t feel the need to watch the same match two or three times … programmers.  Then, why watch any Olympic sport where the most important events aren’t the Olympics?  So much wasted time on tennis.  Haven’t been inflicted with golf, even though I like watching golf more than most sports.  Sure, lots of stuff is boring in part or whole – mountain biking was really interesting, briefly.

I had some thought when I was trying to sleep about ranking True Dungeon tokens, but I can’t actually remember what my thinking was.  I had already given thoughts on class legendaries.  I also had already used the post title “Legendary” – good thing I searched my own blog to not repeat post titles.  Maybe it was ranking legendary weapons, but that doesn’t seem right as that was something someone did on the forums a while ago.

I was commeting on Discord recently about recent eBay auctions and token values.  I could post my supersecret, soon to be patented system for determining relic/legendary pricing in the absence of historical data points.  But, where’s the profit in that?  I did explain most of it to someone in a private message.  I did talk about how you can reverse engineer pricing to someone else in a private message.

That the wizard relic and legendary went for so little in recent auctions wasn’t shocking, but that they went for less than the cleric and fighter comps was somewhat so.  But, then, single data point, where eBay has a huge timing factor for when bidders may be engaged.

I have at least one RPG supplement specifically for Greek Mythology.  While the type of book I’m interested in for lots of other mythologies, it still doesn’t really evoke strong enough feelings.  I was mapping some stuff near Cyprus from the obvious inspiration of ruthenium – it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out how this all ties together.  Anyway, like everything can lead to something else.  I’ve been too tired to have my latest RPG thoughts that incorporate Olympic themes, well, other than the supers campaign stuff.

There’s discussion on new L5R home campaign.  It’s early to talk meaningfully about this, but I guess it brings up that I have more capacity for RPG play, including L5R play.  I think I have a character concept, though I still don’t understand why players get to create characters in a vacuum.  Yes, player input helps GMs and other players crystallize ideas of their own, but there should be some sort of hive minding to happen first so that folks don’t get too far down an unproductive or, at least, suboptimal path.

Only thing CCG related that I’ve put any thought into is our conversation about patching Traveller.  We want to get errata, rulings, clarifications updated, but there’s also some interest in balancing cards.  One would think I’d be all fired up about that.  Except, I’m not trying to compete in this game, and it doesn’t seem like there are that many others who are trying either.  I just want to spew out more content to keep the game lively, to the extent that that’s possible.

Energywise (and dollarfoolish), my main passion currently is in the TD milieu, which doesn’t seem all that useful to my audience.  How many people have taken interest in PTD or VTD because I’ve blogged about them?


July 25, 2021

Wow, so long since I made a post.

One would think that a week ago I would have written something since it was the 5C True Dungeon weekend.  5C being the last virtual dungeon for the VTD season.

Not going to dwell too long on TD as my thoughts are far more relevant on forums.  I ran 5C six times, 5ABC total of 16 times.  5ABC was the most consistent dungeon of the five.  Three weekends of same dungeon, though, is too much.  I did the 16th run only to see some content I wasn’t able to interact with on other 5C runs.

Didn’t really care about change to 5C-D1.  For some groups, lot of puzzle damage.  My second run was a solo run and I got the answer right.  Speaking of solo run, AC36 Monk did not go well.  Change to room 3 was harsh.  AC36 just not good enough to grind out combats.  Died in room 5.  Why post title?  Charm of Blissward was my most fun meta play of the weekend.  On Epic run, we crushed the dungeon – no combat went longer than 2 rounds.  Brings up that Epic is too easy for a full party that knows what it’s doing and is running Epic builds.

Moving on, as this is already a rehash for me.  RPG time.  Finger wagging time.

Players who want narrative stuff to happen need to assist the GMs with what they are interested in.

While I’m sure I provide way more stuff than others on what I’m interested in, it’s often diffused.  I have a variety of thoughts, sometimes lots.  GMs don’t have the energy to cater to a bunch of stuff that may not even involve the rest of the party.

So, while work has been … trying, I finally carved out time Friday night to start thinking about what I wanted for my PCs in my Saturday and Sunday campaigns.  I was much more direct with what I was interested in for the Saturday game.  It didn’t matter for Saturday’s session, as we were in the middle of doing party stuff.  On a side note, that was probably the most coherent session of the 11 I’ve played.  There was a good balance to the session and our decisions were impactful.  Long argument afterwards about XP, but, since I don’t get worked up by the XP system as much as others, I don’t feel compelled to bring up things I’ve brought up in the past.  Still, would have been good to focus on the positive.

For Sunday’s game, I realized something Saturday – the Olympics are happening.  Now, I realized this on Friday, when I had the opening ceremony on for a really long time even though I was barely paying attention to it or its replay.  But, there’s a NPC in the Sunday game who was training for the Olympics, so I made a connection that could have been made earlier of wondering if we had the Olympics going on in our campaign at this time.

We do.  So, while the campaign is Covid free, as no one wants that much reality, for whatever supers world reason that an Olympics might be delayed a year – alien invasion perhaps, my PC (and his family) attended.  Family whole time and watch a bunch of baseball.  My PC just a few days, primarily to watch women’s pentathlon for, um, reasons.

I only wrote up details of what I cared about for subplot stuff after today’s session because … we were in the middle of doing things in game.  And, because talking with the GM made it clear that I needed to focus my thoughts/cares.  Buying the Denver Broncos can come later.  Hiking Native American Territories or Southwestern World Playboying can come later.  Hunting for a teleporting martial artist in Shanghai can come later.  Visiting family in Mexico can come later.


So, speaking of Olympics, it’s very background noise for me this time around.  I don’t have much sense of the competitors.  Not trying to hunt down things I want to watch.  It’s so hard to follow fencing, but there was some interesting stuff shown only because Americanos were getting medals.  Canoe/kayak stuff is another thing that sounds like it would be interesting but isn’t well suited to TV.  Skateboarding not been that interesting to me as it’s like one trick at a time.

Why am I talking about Olympics other than how I like the Olympics?  Focus.  What sport is giving payoff?  The one you like watching the most or have the most rooting interest or whatever.  I was coming up with events Julio would be interested in besides pentathlon.  They aren’t the same as what I’d see in person if I can ever figure out how you actually get tickets.  We both like water, but he would be interested in sailing and swimming even though I think swimming is likely far better on TV.  We both would find diving interesting.  I think badminton is likely terrible to watch in person, too, but I’d still try and see.  Nothing is as good as curling as a spectator sport, but we can try.  Julio would be interested in surfing both because water and because new.  He would try to watch some baseball with his parents and uncle and might find it worth some time, where I’d rather watch archery even given how numbing that is likely to be.  But, I would imagine seeing a lot of different sports is a hassle unless you are well organized or very knowledgeable about how Olympics are conducted.

I don’t want GMs to struggle.  I can empathize with not having the energy to do gaming things – see my not blogging in like a month.  Maybe they won’t use what I send them.  But, they can’t use what I don’t send them.

HoR is fine for playing something mechanical that occasionally becomes thematic.  Home games should really see thematic play where mechanics support.

So, no CCGing, still.  TD is TD (totally awful treasure, again).  Conventions are getting sneaky close to worry about.  Really been RPGs that have been notable in how they could be better and how I can try to make them better by presenting what I care about.

Dungeons & Not Dungeons

June 27, 2021

True Dungeon weekend.

But, so much more gaming, so much more.


Was hoping to do solo TD run as I had two classes to try for 5B.  Someone else had ticket for weeks, so decided to play paladin in expected two-person run with bard.  Then, dwarf fighter jumped on run.

We did Nightmare.  I tweaked out of my NM solo build.

We did the Dalin side.

Room 2 had slight change that was overcome by my tech for room 7.  Having a high AC party due to my Guard on druid (switched out of bard to have more healing) meant second combat never saw us get hit.  Died in room 6.

Room 7 was almost impossible for the room to hurt my build given my understanding of how the mechanics worked.  Since the DM didn’t catch that there’s a BS rule at NM/Epic level play, my comrades died and I ground out the win in just enough time.

That was cool …

Next run – solo, Dalin’s side, NM, change paladin build back to solo mode.

Saw room 1 change, wasn’t good for me and we kind of glossed over it.

Room 2 was my first opportunity to one shot kill the monster.  After 17 rounds of combat, I hit pointed it.

Third combat – hit, “roll” a 1, I end combat.  Check that off the list.

Room 6, die again.  Pay death some small amount of gold to hang around and burn some “blues” to cover push damage and (pointlessly) be able to suck some damage in room 7 even though the math is that I should never take damage in room 7.

Room 7, try to “cheese” my victory.  Module decides I shouldn’t be trying to do interesting builds at high levels of play but should only max damage all of the time as boring people are wont to do, so I die on round 3.

That was not cool, but the real problem is that it also made the previous run not cool.  Just discouraged me the rest of the day as Pelor forbid! that people try to do interesting things at the level of play where people will have those interesting options available.

Terraforming Mars

So, Friday night is boardgame night, when we don’t cancel.  We didn’t cancel.

I had titanium corp, whatever that is.  I made some pretty heinous mistakes but snuck in a milestone of cities before the city corp.  I did give that corp two really juicy plays for no reason.  Seemed unclear who was going to win as awards were skewed to some players while I had lots of VPs from playing cards.

Final result:  winner 60 VPs, two of us tied for second with 59(!!), last place was 53.  Pretty satisfying game for the group.  Also, winner was someone who often doesn’t win our games even though she’s both a PhD and a practicing lawyer.



Sleep badly, get up early to feed cat, conk for a while, get up to work on TD builds for both usual group’s 10:12AM Pacific time run and …

8:12AM Pacific run.

Epic Double Down.  I did my bard build and Dave’s ranger build with obscene Fort save.

Taverns side.

Room 1 = 3 rounds.

Room 2 = 4 rounds.

Room 4 = Divine Intervention was used and player “rolled” a 20 …  2 rounds.  Not enough time for cleric to use other useful ability in this room.

Room 5 = 7 rounds.  Should have been six, but I did dumb thing of using physical attack rather than Sonic Dart on round 5.

Room 6, elf died.  Cleric rezzed in the 2021 style.

Room 7 = 6 rounds with little time left.  I did the cool action on round 1.  Monk did a lot of beatdown.  Monk did 151 on round 1 and ranger did another 80.  Monk did 99 for the kill.  I did 72 total damage in the combat, ignoring what my round 1 action did.

We did EDD right!

However, two party members died, so I provided a denouement poem (I lacked time to write up my poem ideas I was thinking about Friday night).

And, so this foe we did vanquish, and yet all I feel is eternal anguish.

10:12AM Pacific run.

No Spellcasters without Fiddy!  No one else had done one since the NS group is pretty locked up each dungeon.

Barbarian, Taverns, Nightmare because I’ve never done NS on Epic and don’t see a lot of point as TD is noticeably harder when you have no healing spells available.  Chugging potion after potion just to play at a higher difficulty level just seems dumb to me.

We are not the most collaborative group.

Room 1 = 3 rounds.

Room 2 = 3 rounds but fighter Double Strikes dwarf.

Room 4 = 4 rounds.

Room 5 = 5 rounds.

Room 6, we succeed.  Only took four runs before I was clear on solution.  I forgot to mention that on my first run I had a great answer to this puzzle, with one clue exception.  Still think my answer is a better puzzle answer than what it actually was, just change one of the clue lines.

Room 7 = 5 rounds.  I Fury on round 1 for 128.  I Fury on round 2 for … nothing as I “roll” a 1.  Round 3, I crit the old fashioned way for 128, monk stuns monster, rogue crits.  Miss.  Hit.


Jump into my home campaign.  We continue to investigate by going to a party.  I borrow some koku to buy a nice kimono with a subtle Phoenix theme to pay homage to how Snake Clan came from a Phoenix shugenja.

We go to a party, don’t do much, get warned out of party.  Next day, party place is missing all people, blood stains, some smashed porcelain (something we were checking out for possible zombie masks).  Session ends with us at dead end on pursuing those who killed everyone.

After session, PC has solo activity where it’s learned who did mass murder.

So, there’s a real fundamental problem with what happened in this session.  We had one lead, one.  We tried to follow lead.  We stopped following lead.  NPCs came in and ended our lead.  NPCs on our side!  So, we now have nothing to do, as far as I’m aware.

Strong GMing rule:  Do not have NPCs do things PCs want to do.  Of course, most people would say the rule is “Don’t have the NPCs overshadow the PCs.”, but I think that’s not always controllable in a natural way as events unfold.  Sure, avoid that, too.  But, don’t ever prevent PCs from doing something by having NPCs do it for them.  Well, to be even more airtight:  Don’t ever prevent PCs from doing the one thing that they want to do by having NPCs do it for them when the NPCs and PCs are on the same side.

I did get to send a bird with the word to a charming samurai-ko.  So much of what I do is just spin my wheels.  I roll dice for rolls that don’t seem to matter.  I have conversations that don’t seem to matter.


I was starving when got to L5R because had no time for food in the morning.  So, I had some chips and guac.  To use up some stuff, I went with homemade pizza for an actual meal.  Naan as the crust, ricotta, homemade pasta sauce (lot of ground beef), more ricotta, parmesan, pepperoni.  It was decent.  Too much toppings as a bunch fell off after I tacoed the naan.

Going out!?!

Aim to get to friend’s at 8PM as he’s in town for Father’s Day.

Since his brother is getting food or something, I play Star Realms with him, his sister, and his brother-in-law.

Usual attack left.  Played with some various cards I wasn’t familiar with, plus I don’t play the game so often that I know what the cards do by heart out of the base set.

First turn, I buy two Explorers.

When I win, my deck consists of 10 starting ships, 3 Blobs, and like 11 Trade Federation.  I regened like crazy, didn’t get much elite stuff, but I had a ton of consistency with three Patrol Cutters, et al.  I bought zero 1 cost ships, but some of that had to do with the agenda or whatever it is card we were using that allowed shuffling discard into draw deck for 1 money.

Then, two games of three-player VTES!!  Used their house rules of 150 card decks with 4cl and massive crypts with 8 starting uncontrolled, monoclan, communal deck of cards that could be played as if in hand.

I chose Lasombra because I don’t mind playing good cards in casual play, and I didn’t think about the format at all until after I won.  This format has the “Malk problem”, where stealth plus Conditioning murders decks without pool gain, bounce, wakes, or intercept.  I drew lots of Pulling Strings, but I also drew lots of bleed and some stealth and just kept bleeding at stealth.  I don’t think I played a master.  I started drawing a bunch of votes at the point I won.

Next game, chose Blood Brothers to make my game challenging.  I showed the true power of Mexico City with one Menor and three Mayor and Truman for that Torrance invasion.  I Walk of Cained twice to kill first prey and second prey scooped to move on to …

Traveller CCG!!

I played Safari.  Um, I was going to post a decklist, but I don’t want to get up to get cards at moment, so I guess I can do another post with details.

This game demonstrated something important about Traveller:  we play a lot of good games where decisions matter a lot.

Final result was 22 to 20 to 20.  Beowulf piracy VP deck almost bankrupted winner, while I did a good job of almost bankrupting myself.  I had awkward early draws, which could have been fixed by discarding more aggressively in first two rounds.  I didn’t use a card in play by choice that could have put me in a position to win the round before the game ended, though I would have likely gotten pirated out of the game if I had gotten 5 more VPs earlier.

I ended the game with 18 counters on Safari, when I could have had 19 by just making one different decision that cost me nothing to do.  Being two counters from another 3 VPs was interesting.  Empress Marava heroic action deck won, with lots of replenishment helping to fight off light piracy.

Got home really late (for a decrepit old man).  Couldn’t fall asleep easily because modern living hates restful sleep.


10:12AM Pacific Fruit Ninja(!!) run.

Inaugural Fruit Ninja run.  Only damage that you inflict is slashing.  Everyone must go by a fruit name.

Blackberry Barbarian, Blueberry Bard, Durian Druid, Dragon Fruit Dwarf Fighter, Mandarin Monk, Papaya Paladin, Red Delicious Apple Rogue were guided by Plantain DM until we could get our treasure from Epilogue Elderberry.  Blackberry and Mandarin had not done VTD5, yet.

DM worked with us so that this worked really well.  Not a format for everyone.  Kind of disturbing at times.

The reason I wanted to play Durian was that I wanted to use polymorph potions to do slashing damage.  In two rooms, I became a brownie, well, in one of those rooms, I was a chocolate fruitcake.  In two rooms, a saluki shaped durian.

Nightmare, Dalin.  Epic would have been rough.  Durian did not run Charm of Spell Swapping and there’s no such thing as a Fruit Ninja Cleric, so ran out of healing and had half my spells be unusable.  Still, we may go Epic Fruit Ninja for reasons that may become clearer in a moment …

Room 2 = 2 rounds.  Mandarin did more than 200 damage.

Room 4 = 4 rounds.

Room 5 = 3 rounds.

Room 6, a bunch of help led to correct solution.

Room 7 = 2 rounds!!  One thing Fruit Ninja can do is slash to slaughter swiftly.  Monster only took an action because we lost Initiative.

Funny, not too much even though lots of weak puns.  Some really weird comments.

Welp, that was plenty of 5B True Dungeon for Dur-Ian.

Had to crash afterwards rather than try to go out for more gaming.  Finally cooked some Italian sausage I had bought a while back.  Was going to do sausage and cauliflower stir fry, but the cauliflower was too large, so I steamed that separately, tried to crisp up some pancetta by cooking low at first to render out some fat, onions, garlic, emptied pan to make room for sausage, deglazed with red wine though I questioned why I did that before browning sausage, poured back in pancetta and aromatics, finally remembered meant to include serrano pepper for touch of extra spice, dumped in spices (cumin, coriander, nutmeg, black pepper, paprika, cayenne red pepper), dumped in leftover hazelnuts (weird sweetened ones with like orange that were a gift for Christmas or something), added wet garlic.  Ate two together, cauliflower having been salted and peppered.

Turned out decent.  Better than a number of other random stir fries.  Better flavor profile than my homemade pasta sauce that was too sharp/acerbic and could have really used some cream or eviscerated mushrooms to mellow it out.