Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Recent Reading: Stross

  • Accelerando, by Charles Stross, copyright 2005; Ace/The Berkley Publishing Groupo/Penguin Group (USA) Inc./Penguin Books Ltd., July 2006; ISBN 0-441-01415-1.

    Crash! Bang! Ouch! The idea of sentient corporations and ponzi schemes taking over makes this a dystopia to me. Very interesting, however; and quite dense.

Pirates! Session #5: Revenge is Sweet (and so are pies!)

I guess I've got a Pirates of the Spanish Main campaign on my hands…

I knew the A. kids wanted to play a Savage Worlds Pirates! game when L.B. came to visit next, but I still hadn't anything the Thursday before I was to pick L.B. up. Luckily I had lunch that day with a coworker who plays RPGs, and together we brainstormed an adventure outline. (Thanks, M.A.H.!)


  • T.A. playing Isaiah Kestrel, former captain of the Lady Faire

  • E.A. playing Alice Pettigrew

  • M.A. playing Captain (Scarred) Jack

  • L.B. playing Phelicity Phillipe Gujon

Actual Play

I knew that losing the Lady Faire still rankled, so I made the villans of the damsel in distress plot suggested by M.A.H. the mutinous crew of the Lady Faire and the evil pirate who had taken over the ship after the mutiny. So, while the kids' struggling pirates were looking for their next smuggling job (all their current tiny boat would let them manage) they heard a rumor that their former crew had kidnapped the daughter of a wealthy merchant. They tracked down the fisherman who had witnessed the attack on the yacht and confirmed it had been their mutineers. After this they set sail for Tortuga, looking for information about where those mutinous dogs were now.

This was the first time I'd bothered to use the sailing rules from the rulebook, and they very quickly learned why somebody needs Knowledge (Navigation)! Eventually they reached Tortuga, and as soon as they landed they started looking for information. They very quickly learned why somebody needs Streetwise! Luckily for them, many people had gone to a yearly pie-eating contest held by a local eatery. They entered, and Phelicity should have won, but another pirate was initially declared the winner; however, the resulting pie-fight conclusively proved he was cheating (and Phelicity got the prize money!), and in the end he turned out to be Deadeye Dave, one of their former crew. He'd been dropped there to arrange ransom, while the rest of the crew had gone off to a safe haven in the Virgin Islands.

So off they went to the Virgin Islands. After some excellent navigating by former captain Isaiah they arrived, snuck up the side of the former Lady Faire, now named the Saucy Wench (which the kids universally agreed was a terrible name), nailed their erstwhile crew under hatches, and disposed of the interloping pirate captain and his chief henchman just in time to intimidate their former crew as they burst the hatches.

Eventually they left Deadeye Dave on one deserted island, the other pirates on another, and sailed back to collect the reward for from the damsel's relived father.

They decided that since they had the Lady Faire back that Isaiah was captain of her again, while Captain Jack remained captain of the smaller boat. M.A. was charmingly nervous that the girls would abandon Captain Jack's boat for Isaiah Kestrel's, since it was bigger, but I think the fact that they now had a small fleet, rather than just a single boat made everybody happy.


Now I have to figure out if this has affected their Fame, and how much money the reward came to!

Toon: Car Blazers!, Session #2

On Sunday the kids came over after lunch to play Toon again.


“Car Blazers”, Toon, Steve Jackson Games


  • T.A. played Nektar

  • E.A. played Betheny

  • L.B. played Erica

  • M.A. played Gorge (pronounced “George”)

Actual Play

The characters followed the Teleks to the Tooth Decay, where Nektar kept trying to keep them away from the ship. Luckily by the time the others caught on they were too close and got snagged by the arm. Inside they wasted no time aggravating Bob, so when Torgo told them he'd be sending troops to imprison them Bob dumped them out of the Tomato and told them they were contractually obligated to foil Torgo's fiendish plans. They went out into the corridor and were immediately run over by the robot car carrying fruits, and were riding it back to the source when a ragged dentist spotted them and jumped and grabbed Bethany off Erica's back, tucking and rolling into a nearby bubble. The others followed quickly, and soon everyone found themshelves the targets of primitive dentists. At one point everybody was being dragged by one or more dentist toward dilapidated dentist chairs of one unpleasant sort or another, but in the end only Betheny ended up in a chair and had her teeth drilled — after being anesthetized, of course! It was at this point that a terrible noise was heard in the distance and the dentists and their chairs and even some of the trees ran off.

And that's where we left them for the time being.


As usual I found Toon to be very tiring to run, but worth it.

Toon: Car Blazers!, Session #1


“Car Blazers”, Toon, Steve Jackson Games

L.B. really wanted to play Toon again, but I wanted to try something different from the one-shots we'd been doing, so I looked through the rulebook and found a cartoon series that looked fun: “Car Blazers!”.


  • T.A.

  • E.A.

  • M.A.

  • L.B.

Character Creation

For some reason Toon and Buggin' are the games we've done character creation in the most. (For the Savage Worlds games I've been letting them choose from pregenerated characters, probably because most of them have been one-shots.)

We spent most of the evening doing character creation, and everybody ended up with neat characters.

  • T.A. created Nektar, a three foot tall blue alien with golden eyes and antennae like Shrek's who was kidnapped and forced to join the Car Blazers and who just wants to escape.

  • E.A. created Betheny, a 2 inch tall mini-me with wings who always has to be in the middle of things and joined the Car Blazers because she didn't like the orphanage, and who with a Muscle of 3 ended up the strongest character!

  • L.B. created Erica, a bunny with a jetpack who was in it for the carrots, belives everybody should have a special blankie, and who has the urge to defeat villans and protect friends and their possessions.

  • M.A. created Gorge (pronounced “George”), an alien from the sun, a humanoid solar flare with a belt with two holsters and flame guns who joined the Car Blazers to get to burn things.

E.A. started the orphanage idea, and when every single last one of them rolled a 3+6=9 for Hit Points, I decided that they must have all been orphans from different orphanages that the routine medical workup on joining the Car Blazers proved conclusively that they were quadruplets separated at birth!

I got the kids to laugh uproariously even before character generation was over. E.A. kept going on about how horrible the orphanage had been, and everytime she did an orphanage matron would pop out of nowhere, show evidence that the orphanage had actually been a great place, and then disappear. E.A. kept making up things that were more and more difficult to disprove, and the orphanage matron would go to more and more absurd lengths to disprove them, pulling the younger Betheny out of pictures of luxury and comparing DNA from her blood to that of the older Betheny, etc. This was really fun, and helped keep character generation from dragging too much.

T.A., an alien, wanted to make sure that the Car Blazers' unbreakable 5-year contract used normal-length years — which made me laugh sinisterly.

Actual Play

After character creation we only had 45 minutes to play, but we went ahead and started on the “Car Blazers” Series Pilot. They got introduced to the Teleks and eventually blew two of their battleships to pieces, and then spotted two other Telek ships leaving the system, and that's where we left them for that evening.

Rushing Valley D&D, Session #4

Rushing Valley D&D, Session #4

Thursday, 12 March 2009


2020-08-03 16:00:14

This is an actual play report from the “Rushing Valley” Dungeons and Dragons campaign. These actual play reports are available in html from T.K.B.'s blog and from P.D.F.'s RPG forum's Rushing Valley Campaign History forum.


Clockwise round the table, starting with the DM at 9 o'clock:

  • P.D.F. as DM

  • B.MC. playing Polonius, Onchu's rowdy young cousin from Riverton

  • J.H. playing Eirnin

  • M.A.F. playing Bartha

  • T.K.B. playing Droston a'Seamus

Unfortunately C.A.H. was unable to attend, so Onchu was otherwise occupied.


Each of the characters in the session were paid 5 silver pieces for their work on the bridge.

The last session ended Tuesday, June 2 (?).

This session starts Monday, June 14.

Actual Play

What's been Happening

Preparations for the new mine are underway. Preliminary housing has been built and they're starting to get ready to start extracting materials.

A group of miners coming back from the close mines (one-half mile from town) were attacked by what Brock called a dire raccoon. One miner was injured, but they managed to kill the dire raccoon. There has been talk about calling up the militia and putting the three companies on rotating escort and guard duty.

Another Job from McVoy

Brand McVoy bursts in looking for us. After an exchange with Polonius, McVoy tells Polonius to keep out of trouble. He offers the group a job taking three wagons of cut stone to Riverton, with his youngest son, young Brand, driving one of the wagons and the two others to be driven by the us. He offers 20 silver pieces, we suggest 40 silver, and he counters with 30, which we accept.

We set out for Riverton the next morning at dawn, with Bartha in the lead, young Brand in the middle, and Eirnin bringing up the rear. Not far out on the first day, the wagon Eirnin's driving breaks a wheel, but it doesn't take long to fix and we're back on the road.

Local Gossip Proves True

Now, local gossip has it young Brand was caught behind the woodsheed with Gelsie (sp?) Hillfield, but normally he's a quiet 14 year old. However, anytime any of us got near his wagon he gets belligerent. Eventually we call him on it, and it turns out Gelsie's hiding in the wagon under a tarp. He and Gelsie plan to run for distant parts where there families won't try to keep them apart, or worse. After we are unable to convince them to do otherwise, we continue our journey, with Gelsie hiding. Eirnin, soft touch that he is, gives young Brand 2 silver for their journey. Droston's thinking that we'd better get these two lovebirds to the Sheriff in Riverton before the McVoy/Hillfield feud heats up to killing again.

Heading for a Hill(field) of Trouble

On the second day of the journey Gelsie's two older brothers Hal (36) and Heirnen (32) show up convinced young Brand has kidnapped their sister and hidden her in his wagon. We refuse to let them search the wagon, worried Brand and the brothers will come to blows, but eventually convince them we'll got straight to the Sheriff in Riverton. Droston starts ranging out in front, wanting to have a big enough lead when we reach Riverton to get to the Sheriff's office and explain the situation before the Hillfields arrive.

Unfortunately, Droston runs into a couple of wolves while way out in front and out of sight. He yells for backup, and wagons stop while Eirnin and Polonius start running towards Droston. The Hillfields take that opportunity to attack. Hal grabs Bartha, who screams rape, while Heinen knocks young Brand out out, rips back the tarp, grabs Gelsie, and with Gelsie kicking and screaming rides hard back toward Masonberg.

Polonius turns back to the wagons while Eirnin continues towards Droston. Polonius tries to shoot Hal's horse without hitting Hal or Gelsie, but misses.

Heinen, on the other hand, isn't having it easy with Bartha, who is giving better than she's getting. When she finally drives him off the wagon he grabs his horses reins and runs back towards Masonburg, but Bartha actually leaps on the back of his horse and continues the struggle. Finally Heinen gets away.

Droston, meanwhile, kills one of the two wolves and the other runs away, wounded. After skinning the wolf, he and Eirnin start back towards the wagons. Once everybody gets back to the wagons we discuss what to do next, comfort poor Brand, and decide to deliver the wagons and go straight to the Sherrif in Riverton. [And we all netted +10 XP for roleplaying!]

We really ought to stay out of Riverton

As soon as we'd gotten the wagons to the warehouse, Droston went off to explain the situation McVoy/Hillfield situation to the sherrif (including the fact he'd been planning to bring the two youngsters straight to the sherrif as soon as Gelsie was found). The sherrif was understandably perturbed about the possibility of the feud starting up again.

They also talked about the the strange creatures being found around Masonburg. The sherrif had a lot of trouble around Riverton with wolves, since they're even less used to dealing with them than the Masonburgers, and have had one toddler and lots of livestock killed. [P.D.F., were any strange animals showing up around Riverton?] They've instituted a 3 c.p. bounty on the wolf-skins, so Droston turned his wolf-skin in for the bounty, since it's a c.p. more than Masonburg is paying.

There has been a lot less vandalism and petty theft since Polonius left town. Roy, the murder that we brought back to Masonburg after finding him unconscious on the path, was found guilty and was to hang in three days. There is a travelling circus coming to town next month.

Brand spends the night in a jail cell with the door open. Droston spends the night with him, and Bartha stays too, after she gets back from an evening spent gathering information about the “witch” who lives in the swamp.

Eirnin joins Polonius for a night out with Polonius's friends Chet and Biff, and they plan a pie-theft, but as Polonius his approach he notices that the pies literal have strings attached, and everybody flees.

Back to Masonburg

In the morning the sherrif and young Brand set off at before dawn on horseback for Masonburg, and we set off ourselves at dawn. We arrive back in Masonburg on the afternoon of the second day, June 18th.

We drop the wagons and horses off at McVoy's. Big Brand isn't there, and we talk to Mrs. McVoy, who tells them they'll have to talk to her husband about their pay, and goes on about young Brand's inappropriate behavior with that Hillfield girl. Droston is rude to her about the delay in getting paid, and she tells him off, tells him she'll be telling his mother about this, and orders him to leave and not come back. Knowing he's let his anger get the best of him again, he stops briefly to warn his mother of his misstep, and then rejoins the group as the go to talk to McVoy.

Big Brand is completely distracted by young Brand's situation, and pays them without most of his usual bad natured comments. Droston tells McVoy that he was rude McVoy's wife, and that he was wrong to do it, and that he'll apologize to her anytime she wants. McVoy absently says he'll tell his wife, and that's the end of the conversation.

Droston stops back home to tell his mom what he told McVoy.

You want us to do what? We're always in trouble anyway…

We get word that Mayor Gladston wants to meet with us (and Onchu, too, of course, but he's still at work). He's sitting on his porch in the cool shade, and cordially offers us ale. After chatting a bit, he tells us that the town elders have decided to form a fourth militia company, consisting of the four of us and Onchu, and are levying a new tax to pay for it. We can pick a name and colors. (The other companies are the Block & Hammer, sponsored by the mason's guild, the Axe & Bow, sponsored by the foresters and hunters, and the Serpents.) Bartha wanted the Fairy Tricksters, but was quickly overruled. We ended up with the name Wolf-banes, with colors of grey and black. (Droston thinks we should add red, and get a flag with a bloody wolf's head as a symbol.) Our first shift will start the next day, patrolling between the new and old mines, and we'll be on duty for two weeks and off for six weeks.

Droston asked if there is somebody who might know more about the old history of the region, and the mayor says old hermit Kessleman might; he used to live up the river to the south. [Is Kessleman the same as Golsmith from Session #5, or are there two hermits south of Masonburg?]

Bartha started work on a shield [equivalent to a small wooden shield] and Droston starts working on a composite bow.

Back to the new mines and … a fairy?

The miners at the new gem mine have been hearing strange sounds south of the mine. [Didn't they all come back from the mines?]

It's two days walk to the new gem mine, where we set up in the miner's quarters, a building made of heavy logs with no windows. We are doing an initial scan of the area when someone [who was it?] hears a high-pitched voice say, “go get the other big uglies — my friend needs help!” And a 2 and one-half foot tall man with gossamer wings, a Robin Hood hat, curly-toed shoes, and a bow and arrows appears. He is Whaler Appleby, who has played tricks on them and helped them before, warning them about the murderer Roy and shooting him with one of his sleep arrows for us to find. Now his friend, the brownie Nigel Redbark, has been captured by “little uglies and a big little ugly” and taken to their camp across the river.

Rescue the … brownie?

We all get together, get the situation out of Whaler (with difficulty, since he's not very good at concentrating on one thing, and both he and Bartha find each other very “distracting”), and head toward the “little uglies'” camp. It turns out that it's across the river in a steep-sided hollow on the hillside, and is reached by a tree trunk across the river. It's dark by the time we get there. Whaler told us that there are three “little uglies”, one “big little ugly”, and an evil-looking over-sized wolf. We decide that Droston and Bartha will sneak up, and Whaler will light up the hollow with his magic so we can see to fight, and to distract our opponents, and Eirnin and Polonius will hurry up when the commotion starts.

Bartha heads across the tree trunk while Droston targets the wolf. The “little uglies” retaliate with javelins and a crossbow. When Bartha is across she attacks the nearest “little ugly”. The wolf joins the attack on Bartha and soon another “little ugly” does as well. Eirnin starts across the log and falls, barely catching himself. Polonius has his bow out and is loosing arrows as well. Finally the “big little ugly” appears, and is huge! He immediately runs to the tree trunk and begins straining to lift it. Droston starts targeting him. Eirnin pulls himself up. Somebody [Eirnin?] is attacking the “big little ugly”. Polonius is trying to get across the tree trunk. Bartha is taking a lot of heavy damage, and eventually decides to tackle the wolf, taking it and her over the steep cliff to the rocks and the river below. [And she earns a Hero point!]

Whaler Appleby appears in mid-air, carrying a tied-up brownie, and yelling “Flee, Flee!” Unfortunately, we're too entangled in the fight to do so, and we can't leave what is all to likely to be Bartha's corpse behind in the river, so we struggle on. Eventually we kill the wolf and the rest of the “little uglies”. It turns out the wolf broke Bartha's fall, so she's still alive. We take the head of the “big little ugly”, the head of a “little ugly”, and the head and skin of the evil over-sized wolf. The “big little ugly” has a greatsword (which is in good condition) and a chain shirt (which is not in good condition), and the “little uglies” have a small morningstar, a small shield, a small crossbow, and a rusty short sword. The “big little ugly” also had 15 gp, 25 sp, 140 cp, and one gem. We divide this up with Polonius taking the great sword, Eirnin the chain shirt, Polinus talking 3 gp, everybody else 4 gp, everybody 6 sp each, everybody 35 cp each, and Droston carrying the gem.

We ended on day 6, June 20th, back at the barracks.


During the session we established that Polonius used a hero point last session, and that Polonius is 16, Eirnin is 17, and Bartha is 17, although she always says she's 14 when asked. Droston is the oldest at 18. Droston has the shiny feel good stone that he picked up in an earlier session from the stone where he'd left cakes and Bartha had left pretty stones, and it is a luck stone that gives a +1 to saving throws.

We each got +1500 XP for the adventure and +10 XP each as a roleplaying bonus.

Droston obviously needs to work on his anger issues.

Recent Reading: Bayard, Demarest, (ed.) Golden & (il.) Mignola, McDonald, Smith

  • The Black Tower, by Louis Bayard; William Morrow, 2008.

  • The Cardinal's Heir, by Jaki Demarest; Medallion Press, 2004.

  • Hellboy: Oddest Jobs, edited by Christopher Golden, illustrated by Mike Mignola.

    I suppose it's odd that I've still not read more than one or two Hellboy comics. I really ought to get some of the compilations.

  • The Fox, by Sherwood Smith; DAW Books/Penguin Group; 2007. Sequel to Inda.

Recent Reading: Alastair Reynolds

  • Revelation Space ,by Alastair Reynolds, copyright © 2000 by Orion Publishing Group; Berkley Publishing Group/Penguin Group (USA) Inc./Penguin Books Ltd.; June 2002; 15th printing; ISBN 978-0-441-00942-8.

    I haven't read as much science fiction as I once did, but I've been reading more of it again in the last year or so. I got Reynolds' Pushing Ice from the library, and enjoyed it, so I bought Revelation Space, and was hooked.