the_gneech: (Default)
Starting Weight (May 30, 2018): 305
Goal: 222 by April 26
Current: 278 (26 weeks)
Weekly Target Rate: 2 lbs
Weekly Average: 1 lbs
Starting Waistline (Sep 18, 2018): 46"
Current: 45" (8 weeks)
Goal: 32" by April 26
Weekly Target Rate: 0.45"
Weekly Average: 0.1"
BP: 121/76

Shaved off another pound, waistline hasn't budged, BP is great this week after being scary last week.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

-TG
the_gneech: (Default)

How can you resist a banner like this? ;D


Most people who come to me looking for coaching have heard of me through my art and comics, and so like chocolate and peanut butter, I’ve decided to combine two great things that go great together! ;D By offering my coaching services on a limited basis as Patreon subscription tiers for people who may be more comfortable working that way.


Specifically, there are three Creativity Klatch seats, as well as three full coaching service openings. Both of these include a Patreon subscriber discount, as well as access to all of the lower tier benefits for people interested in my art and merchandise.


For members of the Creativity Klatch especially, this is a great deal on the “whole package.” C’mon over and let’s get started!

the_gneech: (Default)
Starting Weight (May 30, 2018): 305
Goal: 222 by April 26
Current: 279 (25 weeks)
Weekly Target Rate: 2 lbs
Weekly Average: 1 lbs
Starting Waistline (Sep 18, 2018): 46"
Current: 45" (9 weeks)
Goal: 32" by April 26
Weekly Target Rate: 0.45"
Weekly Average: 0.1"
BP: 143/95

My blood pressure seems to be connected to a random number generator. >.> It'll be great for weeks, then be crazy high for a week or two, then back to something resembling normality for a while.

My blood pressure being up today might also explain why I woke up with a headache. :P

Anyway, still bumping along the plateau. With turkey day tomorrow and the holiday season approaching generally, I'm not too worried about it. I'm gonna keep eating right and exercising, but I'm not gonna not have holiday treats, either.

-TG
the_gneech: (Default)


Made of awesome and win.


So many things to say about Stan Lee, but I have no words still.


-TG

the_gneech: (Default)

“[John] is more than an artist, he’s also a life coach and his help is AMAZINGSAUCE!”



  • Is your project stuck?

  • Has your project not even started?

  • Do you need accountability partners?

  • COACHING CAN HELP!


    The Creativity Klatch program is a weekly meeting of creative minds. For 90 minutes each week, we will select two participants to receive intense coaching on their selected project, with input and support from the group. This is a great way to get support and move your projects forward, while making some new friends along the way.


    The group will meet on Thursday nights from 7:00 – 8:30 pm EST, and spots are limited, so sign up now for the December-March group! The price is $250/month, payable via Paypal or Square. Sign up today!


    PRIVACY: Your e-mail address is stored privately and used only for e-mail newsletter subscriptions and site updates. We do not share your data with anyone.
the_gneech: (Default)
Starting Weight (May 30, 2018): 305
Goal: 222 by April 26
Current: 279 (24 weeks)
Weekly Target Rate: 2 lbs
Weekly Average: 1.1 lbs
Starting Waistline (Sep 18, 2018): 46"
Current: 45" (8 weeks)
Goal: 32" by April 26
Weekly Target Rate: 0.45"
Weekly Average: 0.1"
BP: 131/85

So then my weight went back down and my waistline nudged back up. Stupid plateau. :P

Doesn't matter. Gonna keep going!

-TG
the_gneech: (Default)

Don’t make it perfect, just better than it was before.


Then do that again.


And again.


And again.


Want to get some awesome thoughts in your e-mail? Sign up for the newsletter!

the_gneech: (Default)
Starting Weight (May 30, 2018): 305
Goal: 222 by April 26
Current: 281 (24 weeks)
Weekly Target Rate: 2 lbs
Weekly Average: 1 lbs
Starting Waistline (Sep 18, 2018): 46"
Current: 44.5" (7 weeks)
Goal: 32" by April 26
Weekly Target Rate: 0.45"
Weekly Average: 0.2"
BP: 123/85

My weight fluffed back up, but I lost another 1/2" off my waistline this week, go fig. Still, weight is like weather and waistline is like climate, so the general trend is good. I've definitely hit plateau territory, and I'm running out of ways to lean out my diet. From here I'm either going to have to a) crank up my exercise, or b) go on a program of intermittent fasting.

Honestly, either one is going to be very challenging to pull off, as I'm constantly skirting the edge of burnout timewise as it is... and the holidays are coming up. >.>

But I'll find a way to make it work!

-TG
the_gneech: (Default)

I'M a Badass?


It’s almost exactly a year ago now that I decided “maybe I should look into being a coach.” I was reading (and re-reading) Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and seeing all kinds of parallels to my own life– lots of searching for meaning, lots of frustration with a less-than-renumerative writing career, and lots of being stuck. One day she decided she was sick of being stuck and decided to fix it, which led her into coaching, which led her into being a book-writing rockstar making millions. So when, in one chapter, she suggested “pick someone to emulate and do that,” I figured she was a good candidate for the job.


Some hunting around for a way to get started led me to Accomplishment Coaching, which in turn led to the intimidating decision to plunk down five figures for a year’s worth of intense vocational training and personal mentoring. If ever there was a leap of faith, this was it.


So here I am, one month away from my final exams, having faced my survival mechanisms over and over again, having changed my diet and sleeping habits, having dredged up all kinds of dark muck from the swamp of my childhood traumas and unexamined beliefs and exposed them to the light, and having done Scary Adult Things like setting up LLCs and creating business bank accounts. I look back at my “to do list” around coaching and see that item number one was “Get my shit together.” Well it’s taken me a year, a lot of money, some yelling and fighting and crying, and doing some stuff that had me absolutely terrified, but I think I can finally check off that item as complete.


Phew! Now. What’s step two, again? I have it written down somewhere…


In a moment of synchronicity, Jen Sincero happened to come to Politics and Prose in D.C. on a book tour way back in March or thereabouts, so I rounded up a handful fo my Accomplishment Coaching teamies and we went to see her there… where I utterly failed to create any kind of meaningful connection with my would-be role model. It happens. But after that weekend, I kind of forgot about her and about You Are a Badass, because I was frantically trying to build a practice and reading lots of other books by Neale Donald Walsch, Debbie Ford, Steven Covey and more. I was too busy actually doing the work, to remember what had prompted me to go into it in the first place.


Yesterday, I remembered that I had the audiobook of Badass sitting on my phone, so I decided to revisit it. And let me tell you, coming around again after the past year, it’s a very different experience. Things that had been completely theoretical, and things that had me originally say “Yeah that’s great but…” have taken on a whole new meaning. You Are a Badass could almost have been called Ontological Coaching for Dummies, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s light, it’s breezy, it’s for the neophyte or the curious layperson, and it does a great job of introducing you to the concepts of the work.


But like the Dummies books, it’s also just a starting point. Unless you have the world’s most easygoing Big Snooze/Gremlin/Survival Mechanism, it’s going to take a lot more than a breezy read to actually get you up and at ’em. This isn’t a condemnation of the book, it’s simply the truth that a book is not a coach. And in fact, a book can be dangerous, because buying and even vigorously reading the book can feel like you’re “doing something,” even if it’s really more like a valve letting some steam escape to keep you lodged right there in your comfort zone.


But really, what else can a book do? Until a person is really ready to stand up, do the work, and really make a change, a few pounds of ink printed on wood pulp isn’t going to have any effect. The best the author of a book can hope to do is to communicate the idea that change is possible, and hope the spark of that idea lights the fire inside the reader.


You Are a Badass did that for me, and judging by its sales I imagine it’s done that for a lot of people. It couldn’t do the work, no book possibly could, but it did help me believe that it was possible to do the work, and helped me understand why I might want to.


Step two? Oh yeah! Get out there and actually be a badass. Got it.


Who wants to join me?

the_gneech: (Default)

Buddha the cat. I miss you, little buddy.


You know what? Coaches need coaches too. Here’s what I mean…


Yesterday was my 25th wedding anniversary! Which just proves that I can commit to something if I really put my mind to it. 😉 My wife and I spent the day going up to Skyline Drive to enjoy the autumn leaves in the mountains, with the intention of doing some kind of more significant commemoration when we’ve got the financial situation nailed down again.


But said financial situation, and the “Un-suck Our Lives” project generally, has been a topic much on my mind lately. My coaching practice is taking a bit longer than I would like to really take off, which largely boils down to my reluctance to go client-hunting. This is a thing I’ve always had and why, even though I probably could have made more during the dot-com boom as a freelance designer/web programmer, I opted to find a job with a company instead. My preferred mode is for clients and/or customers to come to me, rather than hunting them down.


But short of finding a life coach clearing agency (do such things even exist?), there isn’t really any way to operate in that mode as a coach. Until someone has actually had a good coach, the benefits of coaching can seem esoteric. Everyone understands that the best athletes have coaches and why; leaders in any field from business management to filmmaking understand the value of coaching and will gladly pay top fees for the best ones. But to more “down to Earth” people in everyday life, it often seems like something that just doesn’t apply to them.


So if I want to coach, I’ve got to get out there and clearly get across to people why they’d want me to coach them. And that means, for me, buckling down and going out there and actually finding some ding-dang clients.


This is where I get stuck. Not in the coaching work itself– that comes naturally and I’m actually pretty darn good at it– but in the process of finding people who can benefit from coaching and finding a way to talk to them about it. I have a project plan around that, but the best plan in the world won’t help if, instead of doing the thing, you spend the whole day staring at your computer screen telling yourself “Do the thing, already!”


Despite having some clients (I love you guys!), I’ve spent the past two months fighting with the problem of both needing and wanting more. I had an interesting epiphany about it earlier today, while talking to one of my coaching colleagues. I told her that the things I’ve had success with in the past (such as my comics), had that success because I was motivated by love. I love my comics and my readers, so when I get bogged down I remember that and it keeps me going. I loved The Hobbit Hole. I loved my cat Buddha, so even though he had FIV and we were advised by a vet that we “should probably put him to sleep,” we moved Heaven and Earth to give him 8 happy and healthy years before his body failed him.


I told my teammate that I loved coaching, but for some reason I was still getting stuck, mired in my defense mechanisms. Since defense mechanisms are a symptom of fear, she asked, “So, what are you afraid of? Is it love?”


I have been asking myself the same question for two months. Today, being coached by my teammate, an answer came to me.


Ten years ago I had a life that, while not perfect, was certainly successful. Friends and family, a house I loved, a cat I loved, and so on. Then my Aunt Iris died. Then my parents died. My best friend and business partner died. We lost the house. Buddha died. So many of the things I loved were suddenly and painfully gone. And it’s hard, now, to let myself love things, because I don’t want any more things that I love to be torn away.


My teammate said, “So you’re not afraid of love. You’re afraid of loss.”


And honestly? I think that’s a big piece of it. The immediate pain of grief has largely passed, but the trauma of it is still there. I think that on some level, I’m afraid of building a new life, because I don’t want to risk having it come crashing down again.


These ideas are an illusion, of course. First, there are so many things in my life I haven’t lost, not the least of which is my wife (as our 25th anniversary so clearly demonstrates). I have friends. I have Dasher and InkyGirl, who are also great cats. I have my comics. As tempting as it may be to think of myself as being bereft, the truth is that I am actually surrounded by things that I love every day.


Secondly, I am perfectly capable of building anew. I have many new friends, who I’ve made in the intervening time since so much of my previous life collapsed. I’m building new skills as a coach every day. I’m creating a whole new self based on the values that I think are important, instead of those that I’ve passively “inherited” from my upbringing or other external sources.


I don’t think that fear of losing the new life I want to build is necessarily the thing that’s immediately jumping out at me every time I drag my feet about hunting for clients. There are plenty of “lieutenants” of that fear I get to play with around that specific issue– insecurity, being trained to come from lack instead of coming from abundance, attachment to outcomes as a validation of self– but I do think that fear of loss is the Boss Battle of my Client Game. All these other little fears are what the fear of loss throws at me to get me stuck.


Knowing that, I can see these other fears for what they are: distractions meant to keep me small and disempowered. And seeing them as such, strips away a lot of their power. I’m sure I would have realized all this eventually on my own, but being coached by my teammate absolutely saved me tons of wasted time and energy to get there, and for that, I’m very grateful.


Fear of loss? I’m coming for you, Jack.

the_gneech: (Default)
Starting Weight (May 30, 2018): 305
Goal: 222 by April 26
Current: 279 (22 weeks)
Weekly Target Rate: 2 lbs
Weekly Average: 1.2 lbs
Starting Waistline (Sep 18, 2018): 46"
Current: 45" (6 weeks)
Goal: 32" by April 26
Weekly Target Rate: 0.45"
Weekly Average: 0.2"
BP: 132/78

Broke into the 270s, that's progress!

-TG
the_gneech: (Default)

Ragnarok and Roll, by HarryBuddhaPalm

Ragnarok and Roll, by HarryBuddhaPalm


My Storm King’s Thunder game has been waiting in the queue for the past several weeks while one of the other DMs in the group runs his game; but we are due to get back to it soon, and I’m starting to look with serious intent at what comes after the big finish.


Assuming the characters solve the mystery of the Storm King’s court, rescue all the peeps who need rescuing, defeat all the baddies who need defeating, and restore the Ordning among giant-kind, they will probably be somewhere in the 12th level range. At that point, it becomes more difficult to realistically look at the Silver Coast in terms of a sandbox/hexcrawl environment– and I am trying to resolve that with the tenets of my DM’s Credo.


Random, everyday hazards of a fantasy setting are not going to be a problem for these guys… the way I put it in conversation recently was, “The Avengers don’t wander around New York taking down muggers.” Once you’ve defeated Thanos, what’s next? And more importantly, how do you integrate a threat on that kind of scale in a way that doesn’t just shove them down the players’ throats? Having Galactus show up and threaten to eat the world is pretty darn railroadey. >.>


Another challenge for me in this particular area is that I just don’t natively think in “high level” style. The majority of my campaign world is fairly mundane: think Middle-earth instead of Asgard. At one point, while they were hunting down Svartjaw, one of my players mocked the Thane of Acholt by asking “What kind of lord doesn’t even have a magic weapon?”


Given the assumptions of D&D, it was a legit question. The answer was twofold: first, he didn’t have a magic weapon because mechanically he was a Knight from the back of the Monster Manual with his greatsword swapped out for a longsword and shield; and second, because my conception of the world is that magic items of any kind are super-rare. Does Theoden of Rohan have a magic sword? I mean, yeah, he might, but the text never mentions it. The moment of Theoden taking up his sword and all his men losing their shit about it is supposed to be because Theoden King is Awesome, not because he has a longsword of leadership.


But even with magic items being scaled back the way they are in 5E, it is absolutely not the case that magic items are super-rare in D&D, nor in the way I’ve structured the campaign. Everyone in the party has at least one and probably two or three pretty wifty items at this point, either awarded as treasure, or because to accommodate one of the players’ desired campaign style I created a “vaguely 3.x” subsystem to allow them to spend treasure on items.


In short, I’m still bringing low-magic thinking into an intrinsically high-magic framework and that also applies to my adventure design. On some level, my idea of a “high level conflict” is the characters being at the head of armies taking on a million bazillion orcs; but D&D‘s idea of a “high level conflict” is more like “one of Demogorgon’s heads declares war on the other and as a result the cosmos is being torn in half.”


I… just don’t think that way. O.o To lean on the MCU metaphor, I love-love-love the “ground level” threats of Captain America: The First Avenger and Spiderman: Homecoming, and I can even enjoy Thor: Ragnarok for a romp or two, but Infinity War kinda makes me check out. Crazy-big cosmic adventure is a foreign language to me.


Going back to the matter of high-level adventures and the sandbox/railroad dichotomy, the hugeness of high-level threats is part of what makes it hard to relate to them in a sandbox context. CR 15+ things don’t just wander around the world waiting for your players to bump into them. They are things like Cagarax the Red, the ancient dragon who claims the Silver Coast as his terrority, or Iuz the Old, cambion emperor of the realm who bears his name, or the Cult of Elemental Evil spilling out of their temple and marching across Veluna. The world is only stable enough for low-level sandbox play because these major powers are content to lurk in their lairs for now. When it comes time for high level adventures, these are the sources that trouble is going to come from, but the moment I decide “Iuz is going to go on the march,” that is me deciding what the adventure will be.


Now, my players might be totally fine with that; years or decades of “the DM creates the adventure and we show up for it” style play have pretty much made that the norm. And as long as everyone’s having fun, that’s hardly “wrong.” But I have been striving to change my approach to gaming, and if I am serious about making “player empowerment” a priority, I have to examine that facet of things. I mean, I can just decide “Iuz is going to go on the march” and then ask the players, “What do you want to do?” It’s entirely possible they might reply, “We buy popcorn and watch.” In that sense they’re perfectly empowered. But I suspect if I tell them Iuz is marching, what they will hear is “The adventure is over there, go get it.”


And if I tell them “Iuz is on the march, and Cagarax has decided to take the city of Argent as his new lair, and Elemental Evil is spilling out of its temple, what do you want to do?” they may very well just go, “Uhhhh….?” and vapor-lock. In a low-level sandbox, choosing not to take on the lizardfolk lair because you’re going to the barrow downs is not the end of the world.


Choosing not to mess with Galactus because you want to focus on Thanos? Just might be. >.> Where’s the “choice” in that?

the_gneech: (Default)

There are no rooms to hole up in, here!

There are no rooms to hole up in, here!


In response to my last post, over on Dreamwidth Terrycloth asked, “Why would you stop your party from taking short rests? I thought short rests were assumed between each encounter.” And since I did mention it was a topic for another post, here it is! 😉


In 5E RAW, short rests take an hour, during which you can spend hit dice to regain HP, as well as any class features that recover on a short rest (such as arcane recovery, ki points, and the like). Terrycloth clarified in a later comment that he uses the “short rests are 5 minutes” variant from the Dungeon Masters Guide (which is closer to the 4E version), on the grounds that:


4e improved its play a lot when it shifted to monsters with fewer hit points and more damage — having to fall back on at-will powers instead of being able to use your encounters was tedious. To get interesting combat you need to have options.


Having people hoarding every resource in 5e was the same way. TEDIOUS.


One of the actual gameplay things that bugged me about 4E, especially in its early stages, was that every encounter was exquisitely balanced to perfectly challenge an on-level party at full strength– which was facilitated by the 5-minute rest after each one. The concept of the “encounter power” was what encounters were built around. I agree with Terrycloth that 4E was tedious, but I would actually say that easy resting was one of the things that made it so! It was a well-oiled game-mechanical machine but… it quickly became… monotonous.



  1. DM sets up room, everyone rolls initiative.

  2. Players use encounter powers.

  3. Monsters use encounter powers.

  4. If either side survives, whittle away with “at-wills” until encounter over.

  5. 5-minute rest, rinse, and repeat.


In my group– and mind you, we were veterans who’d been playing D&D for decades– all creative efforts just dried up. Everyone spent the encounter staring at their character sheet wondering which power to use next, or, if their powers were expended, going “Sigh, I guess I attack.”


It was, frankly, boring. Say what you will about the lack of interesting character options in 1E, having a character sheet the size of an index card definitely encouraged you to think outside the box in a tough situation (if only because the box had nothing in it).


I’m not advocating the elimination of encounter powers (or, in 5E parlance, “class features that recover on a short rest”) or the elimination of short rests by any stretch. My tabaxi monk would beat me up if I did. But I do believe that powers should be expended, and that the choice to stop and recover those powers should have a tactical cost to make it interesting. A 5-minute rest is trivial, and if you assume that there’s a rest after every encounter, then those powers are not “expended” beyond the couple of rounds that any given combat lasts.


5E combats are short, man.


Now, if the short rest is an hour, that makes a difference. From a narrative stance, an hour is a significant chunk of time and if you’re up against a ticking clock you’ll want to weigh the value of the rest versus the time lost. Add wandering monsters into the mix, and you’ve got an even bigger choice: do you gamble on having monsters appear, thus losing both the time and the benefits of the rest?


As my gamemastering credo and my GMing style generally have evolved, I have come more and more to love “emergent” play– that is, instead of me “creating a story” and “running the players through it,” I much prefer to put the pieces of the world in place, say, “Go!” and see what happens. I can (and do) make educated guesses as to the general way stuff might shake out, but I am not attached to that result. One of my players sometimes asks after a session “Were we supposed to [do some thing]?” or “Did you expect us to [do some other thing]?” and I understand why– I once ran my game that way. But I have found over the years, running that way is a lot of work, and doesn’t generally reward the effort put into it. My honest answer, these days, is “I was fine with whatever you did. You’re the stars of the show!”


Reliable short rests mean that the party is always at or close to full strength– which would put the relative ease or difficulty of any given encounter mostly in my control. That, in turn, means that building encounters is basically me deciding how it will go. “This fight will be a pushover. That one will be a terror.” While it’s true that players always zig when you expect them to zag, it still results in me largely ending up in a position of controlling the flow of the adventure during prep, instead of letting the game unfold at the table.


I want the players to be in charge of that. I want them to decide “Hmm, reserves are low, maybe we should back off…” or “Six goblins? We can take ’em!” But for that to even be on the table, reserves have to be able to run low! Thus, resting has to be limited.


The flip side of that is that encounters have to be diverse. Since I can’t depend on the party being full strength at the start of every encounter, my overall trend is for the difficulty of any given encounter to be lower than they would be in a 4E (or 3.x/PF) game. In old-school D&D, and in the game as I try to run it, it’s not the dragon that kills you– it’s the fact that you took on the dragon after fighting waves and waves of kobolds that does it. 😉


In Terrycloth’s case, it sounds like his players are super-cautious, and based on how he describes his encounter designs elsewhere in the thread, that’s understandable. My players, on the other hand? Have no chill whatsoever. XD The bigger and more dangerous the monster, the more eager they seem to be to go poke it. It has been a combination of luck and teamwork that has kept their characters from getting killed time and time again, which is exactly how it should be for heroes.


Keep in mind, this is all very theoretical. Unless you’re actually designing the archetypal “20′ x 30′ rooms connected by 10′ halls” old-school dungeon, you may not be able to even tell where one “encounter” ends and another one begins. In my most recent scenario, the party was confronted with a fortress on a floating island, with a big villain and his minions, some potential allies, a dungeon underneath, and portions that were hostile to all– and being the perverse lot they are, they split up and went off to poke different parts of it. Was the rogue and wizard up in the villain’s tower “an encounter”? What about the rest of the party fighting minions down in the fortress courtyard? I mean… yes? But neither of them fit into the “encounter-rest-encounter-rest” model. It’s just the story that emerged.

the_gneech: (Default)
September and October have been something of a rough spot, productivity wise. I spent a lot of September just plain sick, and while I did finally get through that, the time since then has felt kinda like being in a plane that goes "brrzzt... brrzzt... cough!" and doesn't want to stay in the air.

I don't want to get into the quagmire of why that is; what I want to focus on right now, is what to DO about it. I need to get my shit together in order to make a living, and I want to get my shit together just because I'm tired of being somebody who, well, isn't that. >.>

Working with my own coach, one thing I've distinguished is that I have been "all over the place" in terms of focus. I mean, this isn't news– I'll be all excited about writing for a while, then all excited about my comics for a while, then all excited about D&D for a while, then then then... And that drive and excitement can lead me to accomplish great things. But the downside is, it can also lead to dozens of promising starts that end in frustrated fizzles. Another book not finished. Another commission sitting in the queue for months. Another day gone by without finding a new coaching client.

My go-to here would be to rail against the tyranny of time, which is one of my favorite enemies. I get into the zone and focus on a thing, something I'd like to accomplish in a few hours or a day's work, and three weeks pass. It's very, very, VERY annoying.

But it's also the world that is, so what good does railing against it do? None. I have to find a way to work with reality instead of against it.

So that's what I'm focusing on today, starting with this journal entry. I want to get back to daily writing and/or journaling, because that is something that always helps keep me both focused and happy. To that end, I've hopped back onto 4theWords.com to gamify it. Lady Rowyn and Inkblitz used to be my pals there, and I don't know if either of them are still on it, but it was fun having writing buddies. I'm also looking for ways to "clear my decks" because I feel like I'm spread too thin. I've barely touched my Twitterponies in a long time, and I feel guilty about that. I've got outstanding commissions, and I feel guilty about that. I've got rewards promised to Patreon subscribers, and I'm always worried about making sure those get done in time– it feels like it's always the last week of the month and everything's due.

(Speaking of which: it's the last week of the month, and everything's due.)

Finally, I will cultivate my daily meditation habit to help calm my yakkity-sax mind. I used to meditate a lot more often, while riding in the car, or on a break at work, or whatever, but somewhere along the line I fell out of it. Probably stress is a factor– the stress of current events, of being worried about money, and ironically the stress of mental noise itself that meditation is the treatment for. It's kind of an insidious trap that the problem itself is the major impediment to the treatment of the problem. XD

So, yeah. Consider this entry #1 of my new daily journaling habit. XD And I've hit about 600 words here, not bad! ;) I have in mind to write a followup to my D&D blog from the other day about wandering monsters, too, but that might wait until tomorrow.

-TG
the_gneech: (Default)
Starting Weight (May 30, 2018): 305
Goal: 222 by April 26
Current: 281 (21 weeks)
Weekly Target Rate: 2 lbs
Weekly Average: 1.1 lbs
Starting Waistline (Sep 18, 2018): 46"
Current: 45" (5 weeks)
Goal: 32" by April 26
Weekly Target Rate: 0.45"
Weekly Average: 0.2"
BP: 121/79

Meh! I blame autumn, making me want all the comfort foods. :P Sleep hasn't been great either. Gonna fix it.

-TG
the_gneech: (Default)

Source: http://paratime.ca/cartography/bw_dungeons.html


This weekend, my drow bard Obsidian and her associates went through a scenario that was clearly a riff/parody on the classic old-school dungeon crawl– to the point where it was lampshaded by a plaque over the door that said, “Welcome to the funhouse!” 90% of the action took place on a sheet of graph paper and it involved going from room to room, attempting to bypass traps and searching for secret doors, with the occasional monster fight tossed in as a hazard.


Now for some context here, our party is very beefy, but not much in the way of finesse. Between six characters, there is one level of rogue– on the orc fighter. So, he has expertise with thieves’ tools, while Obsidian has proficiency with Investigation. Between the two of us, we make a functional rogue. >.>


However, against one locked door, we just plain got stuck; we both rolled absolute crap trying to get it open. At this point, Jamie (the DM) said something that was both brilliant, and pointed out a quirk in the game as it was being played: “The two of you eventually manage to get it open, but you waste ten minutes bickering about it.”


That’s a totally in-character thing for Obsidian and her orc bodyguard to do and it was a funny moment, but it also leads to the question, “If we were eventually going to get past the door either way, why even roll for it?”


Now this is a solved problem in the classic dungeon crawl: every ten minutes in the dungeon is another roll for wandering monsters– who have no treasure or valuables, they’re just there to eat your hit points and waste your spells. But this particular dungeon had no wandering monsters, as part of the story background. From a gameplay POV, there was no consequence to passing for failing the skill check other than how the description played out.


Ever since the session I’ve been thinking about how I would have handled that situation. The current prevailing wisdom is that if there is no consequence for failure and the PCs have a reasonable chance of succeeding (especially if they can just keep trying over and over), that the DM shouldn’t bother calling for a roll at all and just say “You pick the lock. In the room beyond you find…”


Which is expedient, yes, but boring. How could that be spiced up a bit?


I found some inspiration in a recent article about the Mouse Guard RPG, in which instead of a dead stop, a failed skill check may create a “twist.” The twist could be a wandering monster check as in the days of old, or it could be a condition imposed on one or more members of the group. This calls for a bit more thought on the DM’s part, but can be worked into the adventure with a little brainstorming during prep. Some example twists that jump to my mind around the task of picking a lock on a door include:



  • Wandering monster check

  • The Mouse Guard example: you have to hide from passing guards to avoid giving yourself away; Wisdom save (DC equal to the door check) or you become frightened by their cruel jokes about executing prisoners

  • You spend so long on the task that you must make a Constitution save to avoid a level of exhaustion

  • You damaged your lockpicks. Make a Dexterity save or suffer disadvantage with all of your future checks with them until you can get a new set.


Note that the assumption here is that, success or failure, the party does open the door. That part is assumed, similar to the way Gumshoe assumes that players always find the clues. The skill check isn’t “Do you succeed?” so much as “How tough is it to succeed?” You’d also have to figure out for each twist, what would be required to overcome the condition imposed, such as replacing damaged lockpicks, or possibly “until your next short rest.”


Of course, that leads to the question, “How do you keep the players from constantly taking short rests in a dungeon with no wandering monsters?” And I do have thoughts on that too, but that’s for another post. 😉


-The Gneech

Fictionlet

Oct. 22nd, 2018 02:14 pm
the_gneech: (Default)

Greg sat at the dining room table, tapping away on the lappie as Alex lounged on the couch messing with his phone. Quietly, and without fuss, Ozymandias hopped up onto the table, regarded Greg’s Moleskine with a vague air of contempt, and knocked it off the table before settling down into a loaf.


Greg paused, raised an eyebrow, and said, “Cats are nature’s perfect entropic engine.” He then continued typing.


Alex crinkled up his forehead. “Man, you are like peak 2007,” he said.


-The Gneech


<-- previous B&G

the_gneech: (Default)

Angband, by Angus Mcbride, or, A Million Gazillion Orcs


Sunny days and crisp weather have arrived here, and that always puts Dungeons and Dragons on my brain– because way back in 1983 a bunch of us would hang out behind our high school on days like this and play through a very freeform megadungeon game of my own creation. I particularly remember a moment I’ve written about before, where one of my players (who always wanted to run ahead on his own) opened a door, only to be informed that behind it was a massive chamber with 200 orcs… to which his response is “I slam the door and run away!” Fun times. XD


At the time, I didn’t use the D&D rules, partially because I had all of a Holmes Basic Set and an AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide to work from (making for an incomplete and often contradictory ruleset to begin with), but mostly because I didn’t have the patience to sit down and puzzle it all out.


What I did have the patience for, for whatever reason, was to create my own ridiculously kloodgey homebrew system that took bits of D&D and blended it with bits of Heritage’s Dungeon Dwellers series and then, at the table, was mostly ignored. This game system was called “Mid-Evil,” which I was very proud of at the time. >.>


Did I mention I was 13?


A year later, I tried to leverage this same mostly-nonsensical system into an espionage/modern action game called “I Spy,” which was just as nonsensical and took the inspiration for its one usable scenario from a segment of “The Bloodhound Gang” from 3-2-1 Contact.


So, yeah, “ambitious, but not sophisticated,” about sums me up in those days.


But as dorky and sophomoric as all these things were, they had fire and a pure love of the game that still makes me grin to remember. As I began to develop more sophistication I moved on to MERP and from there to the HERO System, becoming ever more enamored of “realism” and “maturity”– mostly because I was still young and insecure about such things.


A lot of my games from this second period were very sophisticated by comparison– I had a “street-level superheroes” campaign that delved into dark topics and psychology and presaged things like The Killing Joke by a matter of years. But at the same time, a lot of my gaming sessions felt like work– we were trying so hard to Make Art out of the game, that we would lose sight of the fact that we were a bunch of nerds sitting around a table rolling dice to control the fate of fictional characters.


These days, I’d like to think I can have the best of both worlds. I have primarily returned to D&D (using the actual rules, even), but I work with the players to integrate their characters’ personalities and background into the campaign. There are random encounter tables, but they are built with an eye toward reinforcing the theme or environment of the adventure instead of being a giant kitchen sink of weirdness. There are serious NPC allies, enemies, or wildcards, but there are also moments of pure goofiness.


But most importantly, I remember these days why I fell in love with the game in the first place– those crazy moments of shared story that we were all creating together, where the stuff on the paper was there if we wanted it, but also didn’t matter if it didn’t actually make things more fun. And I’m always grateful for D&D weather, because that’s what it reminds me of.


-The Gneech

the_gneech: (Default)

Uncanny Midnight Tales, by John 'The Gneech' Robey


Madison Beacon-Examiner handout for UMT Back in 2008, I was a huge fan of Star Wars Saga Edition, and in some ways it’s still my favorite iteration of the d20 engine. For this game, I created a Call of Cthulhu tribute game, Uncanny Midnight Tales. With Halloween a mere two weeks away, I thought now might be a good time to once again share it with the world!


Watch out, Not Howard Carter!What’s presented is not a complete game– it requires the Star Wars Saga Edition rulebook to play (and of course, SWSE was not OGL, so there isn’t any SRD for it), but for the most part it could be played in 5E with little alteration. But it does include character creation, equipment, and a Gamemaster Guide with a ready-to-go adventure and a collection of creature and monster stats.


Really, the entire project was more an excuse for me to create “my vision” of what a d20-based CoC might look like, but I had a lot of fun with it and creating all the handouts, and I don’t want it to be lost to the world. So go forth! Click on any of the images and have some spoopy fun this Halloween, on me!


-The Gneech

Fictionlet

Oct. 17th, 2018 03:56 pm
the_gneech: (Default)

“Due to the peculiar placement of a seam,” Greg said, “my waistband reads ‘Fruit of the Lruit.”


“What in the entire realm of all human experience might make you want to think I wanted to know that?” asked Brigid.


“What in the entire realm of all human experience might make you think that whether or not you want to know something is relevant to whether I will say it?” Greg replied.


“Have you considered the fact that if you were to die suddenly, it would take weeks before even your closest friends might notice if I were clever in hiding my tracks?” said Brigid.


“Point,” said Greg.


-The Gneech


<-- previous B&G

February 2019

S M T W T F S
     12
345 6789
10111213141516
17181920212223
2425262728  

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Feb. 17th, 2019 12:01 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios