Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"Merry Christmas, Argyle."

Main character from one of my favorite Christmas flicks, d20-ized.

JOHN MCCLANE, Sr. 
(circa Die Hard, 1988)
Male Human Strong Hero 1/Fast Hero 2/Tough Hero 3/Gunslinger 4; CR 10
Medium-size Humanoid (height 6’ 1”, weight 185 lb.); Age 33

Init +2; Senses (core) Listen +4, Search +6, Spot +1; Senses (house) Listen/Spot +9, Search +1
Languages English

Defense (core) 21, touch 21, flat-footed 19; Defense (house) 21, touch 14, flat-footed 19; Dodge (+2 Dex, +9 class)
hp 101 (10 HD); Mas 18
Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +4
Action Points 10

Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +10/+5 (1d6+3 nonlethal, 20) or
Melee pistol whip +9 (1d4+3 bludgeoning, 20) or
Melee by weapon +9/+4
Ranged Beretta pistol +10/+5 (2d6 ballistic, 20, 40 ft., S, 15 box) or
Ranged MP5 +9/+4 (2d6 ballistic, 20, 50 ft., S/A, 30 box) or
Ranged by weapon +9/+4
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +7; Grp +10
Atk Options Point Blank Shot, Shot on the Run
Special Qualities none

Abilities Str 14, Dex 14, Con 18 (17), Int 13, Wis 13, Cha 11
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
Allegiances his family, justice, good, NYPD; Rep +2; San 55
Feats Brawl, Dodge, Heroic Surge, Mobility, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Point Blank Shot, Quick Draw, Simple Weapons Proficiency, Shot on the Run, Vehicle Expert
Skills (core) Bluff +8, Climb +5, Demolitions +5, Drive +9, Intimidate +6, Jump +5, Knowledge (popular culture) +2, Knowledge (streetwise) +7, Listen +4, Move Silently +7, Pilot +2, Read/Write English, Speak English, Spot +6, Sleight of Hand +8, Swim +4, Tumble +8
Skills (house) Athletics +10, Demolitions +5, Drive +10, Knowledge (popular culture) +2, Knowledge (streetwise) +8, Perceive +9, Persuade +12, Pilot +2, Read/Write English, Sneak +13, Speak English, Tumble +8
Talents (Strong Hero) Melee Smash
Talents (Fast Hero) Evasion
Talents (Tough Hero) Robust, Second Wind (7 hp, 4/day)
Talents (Gunslinger) Close Combat Shot, Defensive Position, Weapon Focus (autoloader)
Starting Occupation (Core) Law Enforcement (Listen as permanent class skill, +1 on Drive; Personal Firearms Proficiency)
Starting Occupation (House) Law Enforcement (Perceive as permanent class skill, +1 on Drive; Personal Firearms Proficiency)
Possessions (carried weight 12 lb.) casual outfit (2 lb.), Beretta 92F 9mm pistol (3 lb.), 9mm ammo clip (x3), H&K MP5 9mm submachine gun (7 lb.)
Wealth Bonus +7

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sunday, November 5, 2017

My wife is beautiful.

At 32-years-and-1-month young, and 6-and-a-half years together!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

007

My d20 rendition of James Bond, hewing closer to Ian Fleming's original literary character (and perhaps even to Timothy Dalton's portrayal).

Royal Navy Commander JAMES BOND, CMG, RNVR ("007") 
Male Human Legendary Strong Hero 2/Fast Hero 2/Smart Hero 1/Soldier 4/Infiltrator 7; CR 16; Medium Humanoid (height 6', weight 167 lb.); Age early 40s

Init +7; Senses (core) Listen +8, Search +8, Spot +9; Senses (house) Listen/Spot +14, Search +14
Languages English, French, German

Defense 26, touch 26, flat-footed 26; Defensive Martial Arts, Dodge (+3 Dex, +13 class)
hp 110 (16 HD); Mas 14
Fort +8, Ref +12, Will +6
Action Points 15

Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +11/+6 (1d4+3 lethal/nonlethal, 20) or
Melee by weapon +11/+6
Ranged Walther PPK +14/+9 (2d4+2 ballistic, 20, 30 ft., S, 7 box) or
Ranged Walther PPK +12 (3d4+2, double tap) or
Ranged by weapon +12/+7
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +9; Grp +13
Atk Options Agile Riposte, Double Tap, Point Blank Shot
Special Qualities legend traits (1)

Abilities Str 15, Dex 16 (15), Con 14, Int 16 (14), Wis 14 (13), Cha 13
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
Allegiances himself, MI6, good, justice, chaos; Rep +9; San 59
Feats Advanced Firearms Proficiency, Agile Riposte*, Armor Proficiency (light), Combat Martial Arts, Combat Throw, Defensive Martial Arts, Dodge, Double Tap, Educated (civics, history), Improved Initiative, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Renown, Simple Weapons Proficiency, Vehicle Expert
* Bonus feats acquired from the Legend template.
          Note: As a member of MI6, James receives the bonus feat Point Blank Shot as his membership perk.
Skills (core) Balance +8, Climb +7, Computer Use +4, Demolitions +8, Disable Device +9, Disguise +6, Drive +10, Escape Artist +10, Hide +11, Intimidate +11, Investigate +10, Jump +6, Knowledge (civics) +6, Knowledge (current events) +10, Knowledge (history) +8, Knowledge (streetwise) +12, Knowledge (tactics) +9, Knowledge (technology) +4, Listen +8, Move Silently +11, Navigate +4, Pilot +7, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write German, Repair +4, Research +4, Ride +6, Search +8, Sleight of Hand +10, Speak English, Speak French, Speak German, Spot +8, Survival +5, Swim +9, Tumble +8
Skills (house) Athletics +16, Computer Use +4, Control +8, Deduce +14 (+1 on Investigate), Demolitions +8, Disable Device +11, Disguise +6, Drive +12, Escape Artist +11, Knowledge (civics) +6, Knowledge (current events) +11, Knowledge (history) +8, Knowledge (streetwise) +12, Knowledge (tactics) +10, Knowledge (technology) +4, Navigate +4, Perceive +14, Persuade +11, Pilot +7, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write German, Repair +4, Research +4, Ride +6, Sneak +19 (+1 on Hide, Move Silently), Speak English, Speak French, Speak German, Survival +5, Tumble +9
Talents (Strong Hero) Melee Smash
Talents (Fast Hero) Evasion
Talents (Smart Hero) Savant (Investigate)
Talents (Soldier) Weapon Focus (autoloader), Weapon Specialization (autoloader)
Talents (Infiltrator) Improved Evasion, Improvised Implements, Improvised Weapon Damage, Skill Mastery (Disable Device, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Sleight of Hand, Spot), Sweep
Starting Occupation Military (+1 on Hide, Move Silently; Personal Firearms Proficiency)
Possessions (total weight 6.5 lb.) mastercraft [+1] Walther PPK (1 lb.), formal outfit (business suit w/tie; 4 lb.), custom Morland & Co gunmetal cigarette case (carries 50 high-nicotine cigarettes), holster (concealed carry; 0.5 lb.), suppressor (pistol; 1 lb.), various personal items
Wealth Bonus +13

In the News: "You don't say!?"

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Wisdom of the Word

Heard the best sermon I've witnessed in quite a long while this past Sunday. Really struck a chord with me, especially considering the divisive times we live in. The Word is good. I feel the message it conveys in the passage below is so good right now. What a body of wisdom! We live in a ravenous consumer culture, and this cuts right to the heart of what we ought to consume, be it through our mouths, our eyes, our ears, or our hearts; be it concerning food, race, guns, or sex. Please, take some time in your daily walk to meditate on the words that follow, and may they take root in your life somehow.

1 Corinthians 8 (as taken from the NIV)

1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God.

4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Green Fab Four

My d20 renditions of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, adhering more to the comics/early film versions of them.

LEONARDO
Male Overt Turtle Moreau Strong Hero 1/Fast Hero 2/Tough Hero 2/Martial Arts Master* 5/Archaic Weaponsmaster 1**; CR 11
Medium Humanoid (height 4' 9”, weight 150 lb.); Age 15
* See Blood and Fists
** See Urban Arcana

Init +3; Senses (core) Listen +4, Search +1, Spot +2; Senses (house) Listen/Spot +6, Search +1
Languages English, Japanese (Read/Write only)

Defense 28, touch 25, flat-footed 25; Defensive Martial Arts (+3 Dex, +3 natural, +12 class)
hp 77 (11 HD); Mas 15
Fort +11 (+4 vs hot/cold environments, suffocation/drowning), Ref +9, Will +3
Action Points 9

Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +11/+6 (1d4+2 lethal/nonlethal, 20) or
Melee unarmed strike +9/+4 (1d4+2) and
Melee unarmed strike +9 (1d4+1, two-weapon) or
Melee katana +11/+6 (2d6+4 slashing, 19-20) or
Melee wakizashi +10/+5 (1d6+2 slashing, 19-20) or
Melee katana +9/+4 (2d6+4) and
Melee wakizashi +8 (1d6+1, two-weapon)
Ranged by weapon +11/+6
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +8; Grp +9
Atk Options Accurate Punch, Accurate Kick, Two-Weapon Fighting
Special Qualities hold breath, moreau traits

Abilities Str 13 (15), Dex 16 (15), Con 15 (13), Int 13, Wis 14 (11), Cha 13 (15)
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
Allegiances his brothers, Splinter, good, law, training, justice; Rep +2; San 70
Feats Archaic Weapons (Japanese), Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Combat Martial Arts, Combat Reflexes, Defensive Martial Arts, Endurance, Ninjutsu (from Blood and Fists), Simple Weapons Proficiency, Weapon Focus (katana), Two-Weapon Fighting
Skills (core) Balance +10, Climb +5, Concentration +5, Disguise +1 (–20 to pass as human), Drive +5, Hide +11, Jump +8, Knowledge (history) +5, Knowledge (popular culture) +3, Knowledge (streetwise) +4, Knowledge (tactics) +5, Listen +4, Meditation +4, Move Silently +9, Read/Write English, Read/Write Japanese, Sense Motive +5, Speak English, Swim +3, Tumble +11
Skills (house) Athletics +13 (+1 on Jump), Control +13 (+1 on Balance), Disguise +2 (–20 to pass as human), Drive +5, Knowledge (history) +5, Knowledge (popular culture) +3, Knowledge (streetwise) +4, Knowledge (tactics) +5, Perceive +6, Read/Write English, Read/Write Japanese, Sneak +13 (+2 on Hide, Move Silently), Speak English, Tumble +11
Talents (Strong Hero) Melee Smash
Talents (Fast Hero) Evasion
Talents (Tough Hero) Second Wind (4 hp, 2/day)
Talents (Martial Arts Master) Accurate Kick 1, Accurate Punch 1, Shadow Mastery 1
Talents (Archaic Weaponsmaster) Weapon Specialization (katana)
Starting Occupation Athlete (Tumble as permanent class skill, +1 on Balance, Jump; Archaic Weapons Proficiency)
Possessions (carried weight 11 lb.) mastercraft [+1] katana (6 lb.), mastercraft [+1] wakizashi (4 lb.), headband, daisho scabbard (single harness carries both Leo’s katana and wakizashi; 1 lb.)
Wealth Bonus +1

DONATELLO
Male Overt Turtle Moreau Strong Hero 1/Fast Hero 2/Smart Hero 2/Martial Arts Master 3/Techie 2; CR 10
Medium Humanoid (height 5', weight 155 lb.); Age 15

Init +2; Senses (core) Listen +6, Search +3, Spot +1; Senses (house) Listen/Spot +6, Search +3
Languages English

Defense 24, touch 21, flat-footed 22; Defense (house) 24, touch 16, flat-footed 22 (+2 Dex, +3 natural, +9 class)
hp 64 (10 HD); Mas 14
Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +7
Action Points 10

Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +9/+4 (1d4+2 lethal/nonlethal, 20) or
Melee unarmed strike +7/+2 (1d4+2) and
Melee unarmed strike +7/+2 (1d4+1, improved two-weapon) or
Melee bo staff +10/+5 (1d6+4 bludgeoning, 20) or
Melee bo staff +8/+3 (1d6+3 bludgeoning, 20) and
Melee bo staff +8/+3 (1d6+2, improved two-weapon)
Ranged by weapon +9/+4
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +7; Grp +8
Atk Options Combat Expertise, Two-Weapon Fighting
Special Qualities hold breath, moreau traits

Abilities Str 12 (14), Dex 15, Con 14 (12), Int 16, Wis 13 (11), Cha 10 (12)
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
Allegiances his brothers, Splinter, good, gadgets; Rep +2; San 64
Feats Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Builder, Combat Expertise, Combat Martial Arts, Gearhead, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Ninjutsu (from Blood and Fists), Simple Weapons Proficiency, Two-Weapon Fighting
Skills (core) Balance +8, Climb +6, Computer Use +12, Concentration +5, Craft (electronic) +15, Craft (mechanical) +12, Demolitions +8, Disable Device +11, Disguise +0 (–20 to pass as human), Hide +9, Jump +7, Knowledge (current events) +5, Knowledge (physical sciences) +7, Knowledge (streetwise) +5, Knowledge (technology) +10, Listen +6, Meditation +3, Move Silently +8, Read/Write English, Repair +8, Speak English, Tumble +9
Skills (house) Athletics +11 (+1 on Jump), Computer Use +12, Control +12 (+1 on Balance), Craft (electronic) +15, Craft (mechanical) +12, Demolitions +8, Disable Device +11, Disguise +0 (–20 to pass as human), Knowledge (current events) +5, Knowledge (physical sciences) +7, Knowledge (streetwise) +5, Knowledge (technology) +10, Perceive +6, Read/Write English, Repair +8, Sneak +11 (+2 on Hide, Move Silently), Speak English, Tumble +9
Talents (Strong Hero) Melee Smash
Talents (Fast Hero) Evasion
Talents (Smart Hero) Savant (Craft [electronic])
Talents (Martial Arts Master) Shadow Mastery 1, Weapon Mastery 1 (bo staff)
Talents (Techie) Extreme Machine, Jury-rig +2
Starting Occupation Athlete (Tumble as permanent class skill, +1 on Balance, Jump; Archaic Weapons Proficiency)
Possessions (carried weight 2.5 lb.) mastercraft [+1] bo staff (2 lb.), headband, belt (0.5 lb.)
Wealth Bonus +2

MICHELANGELO
Male Overt Turtle Moreau Strong Hero 2/Fast Hero 2/Tough Hero 1/Martial Arts Master 4/Daredevil 1; CR 10
Medium Humanoid (height 4’ 8”, weight 150 lb.); Age 15

Init +4; Senses (core) Listen +3, Search +0, Spot +1; Senses (house) Listen/Spot +3, Search +0
Languages English

Defense (core) 27, touch 24, flat-footed 23; Defense (house) 27, touch 19, flat-footed 23; Dodge (+4 Dex, +3 natural, +10 class)
hp 70 (10 HD); Mas 15
Fort +11 (+4 vs hot/cold environments, suffocation/drowning), Ref +10, Will +2 (+4 vs. fear effects)
Action Points 8

Speed 35 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +11/+6 (1d4+3 lethal/nonlethal, 20) or
Melee unarmed strike +9/+4 (1d4+3, 20) and
Melee unarmed strike +9 (1d4+2, two-weapon) or
Melee nunchaku +12/+7 (1d6+3 bludgeoning, 20) or
Melee nunchaku +10/+5 (1d6+3, 20) and
Melee nunchaku +10 (1d6+2, two-weapon)
Ranged by weapon +11/+6
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +7; Grp +9
Atk Options Two-Weapon Fighting
Special Qualities fearless, hold breath, moreau traits

Abilities Str 14 (16), Dex 18 (16), Con 15 (13), Int 10, Wis 12 (10), Cha 15 (17)
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
Allegiances his brothers, Splinter, good, fun; Rep +1; San 55
Feats Acrobatic, Archaic Weapons (Japanese), Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Combat Martial Arts, Dodge, Endurance, Ninjutsu (from Blood and Fists), Simple Weapons Proficiency, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse
Skills (core) Balance +8, Bluff +4, Climb +5, Concentration +8, Disguise +2 (–20 to pass as human), Drive +6, Escape Artist +7, Hide +9, Jump +8, Knowledge (popular culture) +2, Listen +3, Meditation +3, Move Silently +9, Read/Write English, Sleight of Hand +6, Speak English, Swim +3, Treat Injury +2, Tumble +13
Skills (house) Athletics +11 (+1 on Jump), Control +11 (+1 on Balance), Deceive +4, Disguise +2 (–20 to pass as human), Drive +6, Escape Artist +7, Knowledge (popular culture) +2, Perceive +3, Read/Write English, Sneak +11 (+2 on Hide, Move Silently), Speak English, Treat Injury +2, Tumble +13
Talents (Strong Hero) Melee Smash
Talents (Fast Hero) Increased Speed
Talents (Tough Hero) Second Wind (3 hp, 2/day)
Talents (Martial Arts Master) Dirty Tricks 1, Shadow Mastery 1
Talents (Daredevil) Fearless
Starting Occupation Athlete (Tumble as permanent class skill, +1 on Balance, Jump; Archaic Weapons Proficiency)
Possessions (carried weight 4.5 lb.) mastercraft [+1] nunchaku (x2; 4 lb.), headband, belt (0.5 lb.)
Wealth Bonus +1

RAPHAEL
Male Overt Turtle Moreau Strong Hero 2/Fast Hero 1/Tough Hero 2/Martial Arts Master 5/Street Warrior* 1; CR 11
Medium Humanoid (height 4' 6”, weight 150 lb.); Age 15
* See Urban Arcana

Init +2; Senses (core) Listen +0, Search +0, Spot +0; Senses (house) Listen/Spot +0, Search +0
Languages English

Defense (core) 27, touch 24, flat-footed 25; Defense (house) 27, touch 18, flat-footed 25; (+2 Dex, +3 natural, +12 class)
hp 88 (11 HD); Mas 16; DR 1/—
Fort +13, Ref +7, Will +1
Action Points 10

Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +12/+7 (1d6+3 lethal/nonlethal, 20) or
Melee unarmed strike +10/+5 (1d6+3, 20) and
Melee unarmed strike +10 (1d6+2, two-weapon) or
Melee sai +13/+8 (1d4+3 piercing, 19-20) or
Melee sai +11/+6 (1d4+3, 19-20) and
Melee sai +11 (1d4+2, two-weapon)
Ranged sai +13/+8 (1d4+2 piercing, 10 ft., 19-20)
Ranged by weapon +11/+6
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +9; Grp +12
Atk Options Streetfighting, Two-Weapon Fighting
Special Qualities hold breath, moreau traits

Abilities Str 15 (16), Dex 15, Con 16 (13), Int 11, Wis 10 (8), Cha 7 (9)
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
Allegiances his brothers, Splinter, chaos, NYC, justice; Rep +2; San 38
Feats Archaic Weapons (Japanese), Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Athletic, Brawl, Combat Martial Arts, Combat Reflexes, Ninjutsu (from Blood and Fists), Simple Weapons Proficiency, Streetfighting, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (sai)
Flaws Berserker Rage (Raphael flies into an uncontrollable rage whenever he is “agitated” or has taken damage equal to half his massive damage threshold (8 hp). In such a case, Raphael must succeed on a DC 15 Will save or fly into a rage. He must continue to attack the object of his agitation or the source of his damage while raging each round until he calms. Raphael may make Will saves each minute thereafter until he succeeds and calms, falls unconscious, or the object of his agitation is defeated/destroyed/gone.)—Bonus Feat: Athletic
Skills (core) Balance +6, Climb +8, Concentration +6, Disguise –2 (–20 to pass as human), Escape Artist +6, Hide +7, Jump +8, Knowledge (streetwise) +6, Move Silently +6, Read/Write English, Speak English, Survival +3 (+4 in urban areas), Swim +8, Tumble +9
Skills (house) Athletics +15 (+2 on Climb, Swim, +1 on Jump), Control +9 (+1 on Balance), Disguise –2 (–20 to pass as human), Escape Artist +6, Knowledge (streetwise) +6, Read/Write English, Sneak +11, Speak English, Survival +3 (+4 in urban areas), Tumble +9
Talents (Strong Hero) Melee Smash
Talents (Fast Hero) Evasion
Talents (Tough Hero) Damage Reduction 1/—
Talents (Martial Arts Master) Disarm Mastery 1, Disarm Mastery 2, Shadow Mastery 1
Talents (Street Warrior) Urban Survival
Starting Occupation Athlete (Tumble as permanent class skill, +1 on Balance, Jump; Archaic Weapons Proficiency)
Possessions (carried weight 2.5 lb.) mastercraft [+1] sai (x2; 2 lb.), headband, belt (0.5 lb.)
Wealth Bonus +0

NEW Species Traits Turtle Moreau
          Turtle moreaus are rare and usually a result from an industrial accident involving mutagenic materials wherever their species might normally be found. They are usually very short bodied and hairless, with overt and moderate specimens generally having skin that is more discolored (green or brown) and more densely covered in scales. Covert turtle moreaus will feature head shapes and digits closer to that of human, whereas overt turtle moreau heads feature flatter noses and the absence of ears, and they may have fewer digits as well. All turtle moreaus have some form of shell carapace on their backs, ranging from smaller and a leather-like consistency to half their body size and as hard as thick bone.
          Ability Scores:  (Covert) —
                                  (Moderate) +2 Con, –2 Cha
                                  (Overt) –2 Str, +2 Con, +2 Wis, –2 Cha
          Hold Breath (Ex): A turtle moreau can remain submerged for a number of minutes equal to its Constitution score before needing to surface for air.
          Carapace (Ex): Covert turtle moreaus receive +1 natural armor to their defense; moderate receive +2 natural armor; and overt receive +3 natural armor.

Height and Weight
Trait
Base Height
Height Modifier
Base Weight
Weight Modifier
Moderate
4 ft., 6 in.
+2d6 in.
95 lb.
x (1d6 lb.)
Overt
4 ft., 1 in.
+2d6 in.
85 lb.
x (2d4 lb.)

Starting Age
Adulthood
Additional Years
12
+1d3

Lifespan
Middle Age
Old
Venerable
Max
25
53
71
+1d6

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ewan Turns 2!

Wright Fam, assemble!
"Lemme test your reflexes, Gran'pa!"
Classin' up the joint!
"I'm gonna start hammering everything in the house, mm'k?"
Young Children's Presents, Rule #1: Playing with the wrapping paper is always more fun than playing with the thing that was in the wrapping paper.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"Mister Polk Edgewater and The Miracle of His Soiled-Breath Solvaway"

Here's the opening scene to chapter 2 in our upcoming Pure Steam tie-in novella, The Alchemist's Gambit. Get book 1 here!

* * * * *

Felicia Dolloway sat comfortably across from her short wavy-haired companion on the opposing divan, purple trails of smoke crisscrossing her painted face as she removed the hookah stem from her pert pink mouth.

“So, tell me, Mister Edgewater,” Felicia purred, fingering the hookah stem like a flute. “What manner of throat-sweet cure-all would you have in mind for my so dearly afflicted?”

“Dearly afflicted?” Edgewater said, smiling. “If I’m not a two-bit horse salesman, you led me to believe this was nothing other than a personal call!”

“Why, it is, Mister E! But you wouldn’t have thought such a thing as that was needed on me, now, would you?” Felicia punctuated her playfulness by blowing a line of her purple-smoke-tainted-breath into Edgewater’s face.

The pneumatic water pipe gurgled as Mr. E hiccoughed and licked his lips dry of the sickly-sweet flavored tobacco that nested in the basin of the communal smoking apparatus. The public parlor in the one flophouse in Rooter’s Station that attracted all manner of customers was particularly busy today. More than ten percent of the trading and supply depot’s population, numbering in the low hundreds, could easily be found here on any given occasion, day or night, and at least twice that number were in attendance. A bed of dry goods and Ulleran sundries had just come in on the 2:05 out of Camp Destiny, and the parlor attendants were foppishly decked in some of the finest fashions out of Esteem, while supping on sumptuous Venuvian hand pastries. Each couple and small group kept to their own whispered-nothings and private intrigues by the curtained booths that ringed the parlor floor.

“Hardly, madame,” Edgewater replied at length, scratching his head. “Your sugary vapors shame even the most haughty women of Keystone.”

Felicia beamed. “How you talk!”

“It’s true,” he said. “And, if you have serious need of my services, true, too, are the claims that I make.”

“And when can you deliver, my smart little hairfoot?” Felicia reached across the hookah stand between them and rustled his hair.

“Posthaste!” Edgewater’s eyes fluttered at the rake of her fingers on his scalp. “Course, I’ve been called worse, madame. And better besides.”

“Oh, beg my pardons!” Felicia fumbled her words and her hookah stem. “I … me … well, you must be one o’ them Folks, now, ain’t ya!”

The Folk,” Edgewater corrected. “But gnomes and halflings, we must all look alike.” A glass bottle broke somewhere to Edgewater’s left, and he was reminded just how careless and provincial the folk—his race aside—around here were. Careless was fitting here in the Disputed Lands, even if this territory belonged to no province or state in particular, but Rooter’s Station still catered to “back east” sensibilities, and this particular gnome bargained that a name like Edgewater, “Professional Hygienist and Traveling Amateur Genealogist,” would go unnoticed in a place like this. Careless and provincial enough, at least, he hoped.

“Next you’re gonna tell me your name’s not even Edgewater,” Felicia joked.

He laughed nervously. Maybe he shouldn’t have corrected her, after all. Better to leave lying dogs to rest.

Edgewater rose from his seat. “Shall we?” he indicated, lifting a doctor’s folding medicine case at his feet.

“Most certainly, Mr. E!”

Edgewater bowed as she left their smoky corner behind, taking a moment to surreptitiously spy the room for hidden dangers. Following in Felicia’s wake, he was content that everything was safe for the moment.

A knowing pair of eyes or two followed the stunning Felicia Dolloway, aka “Felly Doll,” semi-secret confidant and plaything of the notorious gang boss Rooter Baud, local smuggler and part-time railway saboteur—privately wanted on bounty boards posted up and down the border by companies B&S and South Settler both. She led her gnome companion behind a standing partition, etched in Elven designs, and through a sliding wall behind it. Problem was, poor Mr. Edgewater, while he knew of Rooter Baud’s reputation as a dangerous heavy and Miss Dolloway’s as a flowering socialite, hadn’t put the two of them together, as judging by her genteel nature, but was willing to risk being seen with her for the knowledge she was rumored to have.

The grand hoax of “Mr. Edgewater’s Soiled-Breath Solvaway” had taken Bigby Dolan little more than a day to propagate, which he was thankful for, given that Marlby, long his best friend and now trusted guide across the Disputed, had given them until sundown to rest up before the next leg of their cross-country dodge commenced. The three of them, Poppy included, had resolved that local authorities back in Harmonia were still tongue-tied and hand-tied, if not outright hog-tied, over how to figure out what had happened on the banks of the Heartwater that fateful afternoon more than ten days ago. The day he and Poppy, aided and abetted by Marlby, had left a dead federal agent, dubbed “widowmen” by those outside the government—of which Poppy was a rogue sort—burnt to a crisp in the bottom of their ditched getaway boat. It had been a week and then some of hard trekking and sleeping in empty logs and badger dens. Rooter’s Station was the first real taste of back-home they had afforded themselves, having skipped other easier-to-get-at forts, ranches, and fuel depots, since.

The lights went out as the sliding wall closed behind them.

“Take my hand, now, Mr. Edgewater,” Felicia said. “Where we’re going, there be no lights to see by.”

Mr. Edgewater—Bigby—did as he was bid, and felt his way up the unseen stairs as she led them on.

“I say, Ms. Dolloway?” Bigby whispered.

“Call me, ‘Felly’,” she said.

“Uh, yes. Felly. Felly? I seem to be short on memory, as it serves, but did we discuss my payment at all?”

“Why, no, Mr. E. We did not. In most dealings round these parts, though, payment isn’t rendered or even bandied about until a taste of the services to be bought are full and well proved authentic.”

“Naturally, Ms., err, Felloooo,” he stumbled, toe catching a step, “but … I, er, we ought to have some idea, hadn’t we?”

“We, Mr. E? Why, I thought t’was just you and I.”

"It is!" Bigby said a bit too lively, his accent dropping. "Of course, it is."

“Well, what did you have in mind, Mr. Edgewater?” Felly asked. “Or, was the hookah I treated you to not to your liking?”

“Not at all,” he said, regaining his composure as they reached the landing and a sliver of outdoor light beamed from beneath the door up ahead. “I’s just keen on hearing what you might know about local legends and such. I’m a collector as it were; fancy myself a raconteur of odd stories and personas. I’s curious, is all, what you’d be willing to share about a man called Merylki Bindealer?”

“The Warlock In The Warrens?” Felly said, as if for the first time. “I ain’t ever heard of no ‘Bindealer,’ but I heard a thing or two about Merylki and his last resting place.” She opened the door at the top of the landing to reveal an open-air rooftop patio ringed by a trellis crawling in ivy. A man in loose fitting overalls, his back to the opening door, swept at the patio deck with a long-handled, straw-bottom broom.

“He’s dead?” Bigby said, trying not to sound shocked. “I thought—”

“Last known resting place,” Felly corrected. “They say he’s bewitched and all. Some kind of haunt or spook. Been dead or kilt a dozen times or more, they say.”

“They do now, do they?” Bigby said, feigning disinterest.

Felly paused to regard the groundskeeper, then turned to Bigby, still holding his hand. “Now then, you can lay out your wares over yonder on that bench, and I can send this here feller to fetch your client, my boyfriend.”

Bigby and the groundskeeper both sounded in unison. “Boyfriend?”

Felly and Bigby looked to the groundskeeper as he faced them. The man with the broom wore a twisted grin like the cruel cut left by a vengeful knife, and Bigby saw trouble in his eyes.

“Whutchu doin’ here?” Felly said, mildly surprised, and cocked her body just so as she placed the back of her other hand on her hip.

“Cleanin’ house,” the broom man said.

Bigby stared at the man’s crooked grin and held his breath. Then someone kicked the patio door shut behind them.

Everyone on the patio looked up to see a pudgy, long-tongued brute covered in brown scales, leg a-dangling down from atop the stairwell’s roof against the closed door, and his two companions—one a wily looking young human and the other a barechested, ink-skinned half-elf, equal shares of sinister looks about them—lazing on the prowl.

“Cleaning? Shoot!” Felly said. “Get your sorry butts downstairs and fetch my beau!”

“Fetch fetches,” Crooked Grin said. “Boss keeps me around just for the kill.”

“There ain’t nothing here for you to kill,” Felly said matter-of-factly. “Now, git!”

Crooked looked at Bigby and sneered. “Who’s hand you holdin’, runt?”

Bigby looked at his own hand in Felly’s and tried to let go, but she held on.

“Don’t you go lookin’ at him, you jumpin’ fresh tumbleweed!” Felly leaned into her words. “D’you hear me! Go get, Rooter. I got a present for him.”

Crooked scoffed. “What, this?” he indicated Bigby with his broom. “What piece o’ tard he gonna give you for what, Felly Doll?”

“Just you nev-uh-mind,” she said saucily. “I’s gonna send him to Standing Elk when he’s a-finished.”

“Ho! Ain’t that right?” Crooked looked taken aback. “To do what?”

“He’s looking for somebody!” Felly said.

Bigby felt increasingly alarmed, and began to plot an escape route over the nearby trellis.

Crooked sensed the tension and reached out to grab Bigby by the shirt sleeve. “Who you looking for, stranger?”

Bigby jerked back, more in response to the stink of Crooked Grin’s breath, and felt his jaw tighten. “Why … you, good sir!” He gingerly opened the medicine case and slipped his fingers inside. “I have just the tonic for you! An oral treatment, really. If it serves to prove my claims to our lady here, I’d like you to test some!” Bigby finished with a wave of his hand as it emerged from the case and dashed a bottle of fizzy green liquid in the crook’s open mouth and eyes.

Crooked let out an awful yell as he reared back, dropped the broom, and clawed his face with one hand while reaching into his overalls with the other.

Felly yelped, too, surprised by Edgewater’s sudden move, and weakly leapt between them, flagging both hands, to halt any further aggression.

At their backs, Fat Snout and the other two hopped up ready to pounce.

Crooked was faster than anyone else, however, and ripped a knife from inside his clothes before plunging it blindly, aiming low at Bigby’s neck or face level, into the air ahead of him. Felly’s body verily moved into Crooked’s thrust as the knife buried itself into her loins. He growled triumphantly, and a choked gasp escaped her throat and her features strained.

Everyone except Crooked froze, and as he wiped his vision clear, blinking through a red haze, he, too, saw what he had done. Felly’s blood ran warm over his fist.

Bigby grimaced horribly, but bolted an instant later and scrambled up the trellis to his right after launching his now closed folding case over the side ahead of him.

Felly slumped to the floor with a quiet whimper, and Bigby looked back a second too long to watch her fall.

Fat Snout launched himself off the ledge above the stairwell and tackled Bigby bodily against the trellis, which promptly gave way and folded outward around the rooftop patio’s perimeter like a row of dominoes. The two of them rolled in each other arms, sliding along the rooftop’s tiled awning, as clay tiles spat loose from the weight and shattered on the ground two flights below. Streetside pedestrians gawked in stunned wonder at the fray.

Crooked’s other two henchmen lowered themselves down as Crooked himself stepped over to wrangle the dangling duo, slapping a bloody hand over Bigby’s gripping the rooftop’s edge.

“MURDERER!” Crooked Grin cried. He dragged Bigby to safety and held him in close. “We’ll get you to Standing Elk, murderer,” he spoke harshly into Bigby’s ear. “There ain’t nothing there to find what’s already been done! ‘Cept your bones come t'morrow mornin’!” Crooked turned to look at Tattoo. “Juice this rat!”

The half-elf produced a rusty syringe filled with a bluish liquid and jabbed it into Bigby’s arm before depressing the plunger.

Bigby’s mouth fell open as the patio swallowed him.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Little Water Pup

"Doo-dee-dum!"
"Say, Dad? How does one get wet with something like this?"
Me: "Try this on for size!"
"So, kid. You wanna get really wet, huh?"
"How's this float your boat?"
Verdict's in!
And he can't wait to swim again!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

JapanQuest '17: Ewanification Vacation

Ewan: "Say, Daddy, why don't we take a closer look at the Land of the Rising Sun? The place where Mommy is from. You know, right? The place that makes me at least half of what I am."
Me: "Absolutely, son. Let's go now."
"Here we are at the jumping-off point, Sac Metro Airport. Can you hear the distant sound of the shamisen out past the ukulele?"
"Aloha! I'm with Mommy in Hawaii at the airport in Hololulu."
"Now where are we? Is this Japan, Daddy? What are some of these things behind me?"
A genuine elephant's tusk ivory carving! In Japan?
A tiny detailed boat in a bottle! But is it Japanese?
A katana? No way!
Yes.
Yes!
YESSS!
I am a samurai-Jedi!
I am Leonardo!
I am Duncan MacLeod!
Ooohh baby!
Me: "I am a huge geek."
Ewan: "DADDY! You okay? Anything else?"
Ahem. Hmm. Well, let's see … an intricate doll in samurai costume.
shimenawa kept in the kamidana room of a traditional Shinto household. It serves to enshrine a god.
And a baseball team … complete with Japanese high schoolers and my wife's brother, Makoto (pictured center in the second row). Yup! No doubt. This is Japan!
"Cool! I wonder what else is out there? And who's that coming up the way?"
"Cousin Asahi! What fun we'll have!"
Most of the time…
Obaachan to the rescue! For love that stretches across an ocean, coming close together is something special.
"But it's fun also to get out and cut loose!"
"Like this play area; crossing up my wires in the best way possible!"
"Or eating sakuranbo (Japanese cherry) ice cream!"
"And visiting a local petting zoo!"
"Or biking to the park for a picnic…"
"…home-made bento style!"
"Mmm, yum!"
"While Daddy viewed a Japanese angel…!"

Hmm? New York City?
Nope! It's Icho Kouen (Liberty Park) in Oirase-cho, Aomori!

"Enough of nature, Ewan? How about some art?"
"Here we are in Aomori City, home of the famous Nebuta Festival and the Aomori Bijutsukan (Art Museum)."
Ahh, Japan! How I love thee!
MacArthur?
"Kali ma … Kali ma … Kali ma, shakthi deh!"
"Arigatou Aomori-ken!"