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The island: (adventure seed)

From the prow of your ship you see the island come into view. At first it is nothing but a glint on the horizon, then a shining sphere.. a ...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A mini Review for one of Osprey Publishing's war games series.

First off a few things to get out of the way:
I don't work for or know anyone  at Osprey Publishing. I paid for the book I'm going to talk about. This "review" was not solicited. In-fact the good folks at Osprey will probably never know it exists.

On with the fun.
TLDR version:

It's good, the text is a bit dry, but SUPER COMPACT AND FUNCTIONAL.

It's right in my wheel house, and  I heartily recommend the game.

I'm not sure how I first stumbled on Osprey Publishing.
This time I was looking for  a small book about Roman naval vessels. Since I own their "Fighting Sail," a book about fighting ships Circ 1775 to 1815, I thought they might have more like it for other time periods. (they do.)

However being  of short attention span I noticed and  jumped on a section I did not previously know existed. The Osprey Wargames series. What I learned is Osprey seems to have a small traditional style war game for every occasion.

With the books ranging in price from $9.98 USD to $19.98 USD I decided to pick up two of them. The first being "Black Ops" because it might be useful as reference material for my current Loot Box project. The second being "A Fist Full OF Kung Fu.," It's a tabletop mini's game based on Kung Fu moves.. How could I not buy it?

This review Will focus on that "Fist Full of Kung Fu" Product.

About the Book:
  • The book is small, perfect bound, with a glossy cover. The pages are bright white with clear printing. On my first read through I did not see any printing errors such as ghosting or smearing.
  • The  total page count on the  book is  64 pages.
  • It is available in Print, PDF, and Ebook versions.
  • Was Published in 2014.
  • The author and designer Andrea Sfiligoi (also of "Song of Blades and heroes" and much more.)
  • The interior pages are color and  semi glossy. The picture plates are spread between very nice miniature dioramas (way better than Ever make it to my table,) and art works of good quality. (I think digitally painted.) One nice touch each diorama photo is credited with eh company  who produces the  pictured miniatures.

What's in there?

The book dives right in. A table of contents then a brief introduction explaining the goals of the game. Including the phrase "skirmish rules reproducing on the tabletop the wild, extravagant action seen in Hong Kong movies." The right into the "what you will need section."
Here the first sign of the game's flavor peeks through, the  author advises three measuring sticks one for short range 7.5 cm, one for medium range 12 cm,  and one for long range 18cm. To my eye this smacks of a traditional style skirmish game. I was looking forward to seeing how the author would meld that style of mechanics with The goal of  kung fu action.
By page 5 figure types (Protagonists, Bruisers, and Extras) are being defined.  figures are built based on points and  have two major statistics. "Quality" a measure of  speed, strength and, durability is the first stat. secondly there is Combat which is  measure of  how well the figure fights. Individual figures may also have Traits which are like special abilities and gangs as a group will have chi points based on the total groups point values.
Each figure involved in the game can be defined by one small row of information. Simple and straightforward.
By page 6 we rereading  rules, and are well into the game.
Interesting system points include:
  • When a figure is activated the player rolls vs the figures Q score, higher than the Q score is a success, the number of success determine how many actions the figure can take. Failures on the other hand may grant free "reactions" to the opponents protagonist "Main Character Bruce Lee type) or if enough failures are rolled can  turn control of the turn to the opponent (A turn over.) The trick here is the  player activating the  figure gets to choose how many dice  (up to 3d6) he or she will roll for actions. It's a nice risk reward mechanic, and giving actions to the opponents protagonist, so that  it may move around the battlefield  wreaking havoc is a nice touch.
  • When attacking the attacker chooses from list of effects which cost success to apply. For example, if I rolled three successes I could inflict three minor effect to my target or one big effect. I  like this very much. It's through this system of rolling for success then choosing effects to apply to your target that the game infuses the kung fu action into the play at the table.The possibility of knocking out an extra (Mook), having him crash into a giant brass bell (A prop) then using said prop as a weapon next round.... That makes me smile. 
I'm not going to go through all of the rules, I will say the whole system fits between pages 6 and 24 and  even still covers a lot of ground.

Pages 24 to 36 contain the possible traits you can purchase for figures. There are plenty of them (81 I think?) covering most of the things we have seen in various kung fu movies. From "Iron Shirt" to  just being "Giant," I can picture most of these traits cinematic inspirations.

From there there are "stunts" Like chi Leaps, breaking things, and wall jumping . 

Taoist magic is covered, just in case you want to replicate Big Trouble in Little China style effects (and who doesn't?) The magic section is about 3/4 a page and is very general. In the context of the game it will do what the players need it to do.

Pages 40 to 44 contain seventy one individual two line sample character profiles. Each entry shows the profiles name and point value and roll. (Protagonist, Bruiser, or extra.) On the second The  Q and the C scores and any traits the profile has.  More than enough to quickly set up a game.

Pages 45 to 58 contain information about setting up scenarios and locations. Including very thematic location traits like hanging chains and improvised trampoline. 

The rest of book is made up of appendices about more than two player games, building gangs, and reprints of the charts form the main text. (thank you!)

Final Thought:
The rules, while very much classic miniatures rules.I am not familiar with  the other works of Andrea Sfiligoi. I do not know his normal writing style. Hence I do not know if the  very brief manner in which this game is written is just how he writes or a function of page count limitations. What I will say is I like it very much for this style game.

The rules are clear, the sections are focused, the text is concise, with only what you need to play  put in front of you. The book is in it's own way dense.
There are no lengthy explanations or digressions. Simply put this is an effective manual of how to play kung fu skirmish games using miniatures on your table top. There's no room for extras, no wasted space. If you are a lover of fluff and setting details this is not the  product for you. Even the scenario setup section is short on details about what traditionally makes up a kung fu scenario. There is no hand holding, just functional sections about how each setting element can be emulated within the game. That might turn some readers off.
It seems the  game is written from a stance of, -If you are buying this book you already like this genre, and have an idea about what kung fu action is all about.-

 I think the rules and the  features of the game show a well researched product. I don't doubt the author watched martial arts cinema  to come up with the  stunts and the  traits included in the rules.
Based on my read through, I think the system does a nice job of capturing the kung fu action as it set out to. I'm looking forward to getting it some quality time on my table.
Lastly, for me it hearkens back to another time when game rules didn't come with assumptions about how players would use them. These rules give you the tools, it is up to you to build with them.

I recommend this book.
Further I would  advise any who asked to check out Osprey's collection of short but concentrated tabletop war games.
(I'm going to buy a few more.)

Thanks for reading -

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The island: (adventure seed)

From the prow of your ship you see the island come into view.
At first it is nothing but a glint on the horizon, then a shining sphere.. a glar in the sun, rainbows, refracted and distorted views of the horizon beyond.
  • The island covers approx 93 miles (the surface area of a 6 mile per side hexagon):
  • The  island is conical moving from pure white beach to a 500 foot peak at it's tallest point.
  • The island is covered  in heavy, jungle like vegetation.
  • Birds can be seen flitting about the trees.
  • It is encased in a sphere of the  purest glass.
  • The  sphere is half full of water.
  • The craggy pointed bottom of the island can be clearly seen through the  glass.
  • Mid way up the  underwater section of the island several cave entrances can be seen. Holes dark against grey grey of the islands base.
  • The underwater portion of the island is encrusted with corals and plants.
  • There are no debris or any silt at the bottom of the sphere.
  • The water is a deep blue green, there are fish visible in the water.
  • The sphere hovers 70 feet above the rolling ocean.
  • The sphere is massive, slowly  turning on its vertical axis. 
  • The turning of the  sphere creates a circular counter clockwise current in the sphere.
  • The  only entrance in or out of the sphere is a five foot hole at it's very  top. 
  • The  top of the  sphere is  100 feet above the tallest point on the island. 
  • The bottom of the sphere is 50 feet from the lowest crag of the islands underwater section.
  • The inside of the  sphere is often coated with  condensation.
  • It is incredibly warm and humid in the sphere.
  • On a warm day it can storm in the  sphere, but rarely thunderstorm.
  • During exterior storm the slowly turning but massive sphere builds up incredible static charges.
  • On cold nights the sphere generates a plume of fog, the  whole interior becomes a cloud.
The obvious one,  how the hell did this end up in the middle of the  ocean?
Why is it here?
Does anyone live inside of the sphere?
How old is it?
Can that static electricity be of some use to someone?
Are there any strange items, creatures, or commodities that can only be found in the sphere?
Why is this thing not on the captain's charts. It's HUGE.
How can we get in there? If we do how do we get out?

For better or worse this post was inspired by this image:
Unfortaunately I don't know who to give credit to for the image... ohh google...

Thanks for reading

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Falling in D&D (the shortest useful post I will ever write)

Players fall quite often, because heroes are constantly leaping off things.
TLDR Version:
Here is how I do it.

  • I give heroes the first 10 feet for free.. Nice of me right? I figure Urkuk the 12th level fighter has learned how to tuck and roll. 
  • After 10 Feet, Every additional 10 feet causes 1d12 damage up to 8d12 at 90 feet. 
  • After 90 feet each additional 10 feet of falling simply adds 10 points of damage. (100 feet is 8d12 +10 for example)
  • After 90 feet the character still takes the damage and also has to save vs Death, or make a Constitution save (adapt this to whatever edition of D&D floats your boat.)
  • Modify the save with +1 difficulty for every 10 feet of fall beyond 90 feet. ( again adapt this to whatever edition of D&D you are using.)
  • If they fail the save they straight up die.
  • You fall 500 feet in one 6 second round.
  • The first 90 feet as described above assumes falling onto a hard surface, and the character not landing on their head. The DM can modify damage up 90 feet however they see fit for things like falling through trees or catching your self on a store awning. 
  • After 90 feet the character is traveling fast enough that bouncing off things doesn't help anymore.
  • Landing on one's head is what the saving throw is for.


"No, not really. -Love, Me"

That's it the shortest useful post I have ever written. If you want to see how I got to the above conclusions read on. If not, see you next time.


If you are super interested, and I was, check this page out. This will not surprise any of you  but I'm not sitting here figuring out  physics problems. Let some one else do that. I just want something game-able. 

Q: Can I cast feather fall before I die? 

  • A 200 pound person forgiving the 2% (or so)  modifier for air resistance will fall around 100 feet in about 2.49 seconds.
  • Same weight would fall about 500 feet in 5.5 seconds.  
  • And finally  1000 feet in 7.8 seconds (roughly)

A: D&D rounds last 6 seconds. 
So in that time your  unfortunate character will fall something like 500 feet and a bit more. Most D&D falls will be much shorter than that, mostly under 2 seconds. Chances are you can't get that spell to fire if you fall off a 50 foot parapet. This is what the spell contingency is for. If you are using segments from an older version of D&D, then yes it might be possible for  shorter falls.

EDIT: After a comment by Anders “The Delver” Nordberg bellow I decided to go check some of the D&D versions of the spell feather-fall. And indeed in most editions it's some version of Instant. Though the 1st editions version has a very brief duration at low levels that could lead to a comedy gold.

Generally it makes the above point moot, and I should have done that reading before I wrote this.
Still, Don't fall. the wizard wont always be around.

http://pandaria.rpgworlds.info/cant/rules/adnd_spells.htm#Feather Fall

Q: Will my character die?
A: There is a good chance your character will die,  yeah.
So I read some things, and  found that most of the internet is obsessed with people who have survived massively high falls. They ignore the fact that people slip and fall from essentially 0 feet and die every day. For example, 

OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in long-shoring operations. Source
Basically Fair Sir Ghalafrumph should be secured via harness when he is on his horse. 

It is insanely easy to die from falling. Any fall from a paltry 16 - 20 feet or more while landing on a hard surface will cause internal injuries and broken bones. 
The Panel recommended transport to a trauma center if any of the following are identified:

falls adults: >20 feet (one story = 10 feet)
This which has a bit more detail, is from that documents supporting documentation: 

Liu et al.[*] reported a mortality rate of
22.70% due to falls from above 6 m, while Lapostolle et al.[12]
reported a mortality rate of 33.80% due to falls from above
3 m. In our study, the mortality rate due to falls from above
10 m was similar to the figures derived from those studies. Source.
That quote above is only talking about 3 meters! or 9 stinking feet! Here's some more info  From a Dr.s Blog on the same subject.

All this adds up to:
Realistically falling from  from 50 feet is fatal most of the time. by then your  200 pound cleric is traveling  40 MPH with no air bag. At 85 feet your Poor cleric is falling at 52 MPH. That's like a bad car accident with  zero in the  way of  protection. It is not a good look when your only "crumple zones" are your legs. Falling form 85 feet or more is widely considered "statistically fatal" meaning some lucky folks land on  mattresses or have some other fit of luck. but pretty much everybody dies.
A true story from the game table.
I once played in a 2nd edition game with a player who had a super jacked fighter. This fighter also had one of those strength adjusted bows so when we were about to engage in ship to ship combat he decided to climb the main mast, sit in the crows nest and pick off targets with his huge F'ing bow. He did that for a few rounds, tagging priority targets up until we came into boarding range with  the opposing  ship.
When he told the DM he was coming down from the  crows nest the  DM said it will take you five rounds to climb to the deck. Hell, I thought that was generous, (30 seconds? what is that mast a fire pole?)
The player said,, "nope I'll Jump." 
The DM  said "It's over 100 feet you know."
The player replied unconcerned, "I still have over 100 hp it's only going to be 10d6 damage max. I'll be fine."
The morale of the story:
That's horse shit.
Falling should be one of the most threatening environmental hazards Players have to deal with. Not something that can just be brushed off based on the number of hit points a character has.

Thank you for reading 

Another Link This one is the aptly named "Splat Calculator" Used to get some of the fall speeds in this post.

* Reference, Lapostolle F, Gere C, Borron SW, et al. Prognostic factors in victims of falls from height. Crit Care Med 2005;33:1239–42.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Revoke my "Old School" card (10 year anniversary of my favorite game)

A bit of click bait title, but fitting.

In fact I never had an Old school Card. Though at 41 I have certainly been around the hobby long enough to be considered old.
These days being "old school" does'nt  mean having been round to play the original car wars, or knowing that a war-hammer with flamers is a hot-hammer. No to be really old school a person needs to ascribe to a certain gaming aesthetic, one rooted in play-styles from days past. Which is cool. My favorite D&D is 2nd edition, I can still figure THAC0 in my head, and I carry bat guano for my fire balls. I'm still not old school however.

Here's why.
I have written a few games for my friends* and I to play.
My favorite of all of them is not any of the Classic format RPG's we have kicked around. My favorite is a story game. Plain and simple.

That game is getting closer and closer now to celebrating it's (hold on guys) TEN YEAR anniversary no less.
How is that a thing?
It kind of depends on how you measure it.
From The  Wikipedia :
"On August 15, 2007, Wizards of the Coast announced the development of D&D 4th edition."
As a group we had been playing D&D edition three. None of us were excited by the Wizards announcing another edition. Frankly at the time none of us wanted to spend the money on more books. (how times have changed ehh?)
We car pooled out to Russ's back then, it's about  45 minutes and during that trip Jay and I had a discussion that was basically, "Fuck the man, let's write our own game."
So I think it is fair to say I started working on what would become our game in August of 2006, about two months from now. The game had been in conversation for around a year by the time the wizards  4th edition news broke. We choose to actually start running our own system full time sometime in 2007. The new game became known as Phase Abandon.  I'm not even sure how or why that name stuck.

My single minded goal when I started writing was to makes something that was first absolutely not Dungeons and Dragons. My secondary goal was a game that could handle whatever setting we wanted. This was long before I had heard about the  OSR, story games,  RPG blogs, or OSRIC style reboots. I stumbled on most of those resources while working on Phase.
In effect, the game we pieced together was surprisingly free of outside influences, truly our creation. The  funny thing now, reading the text of the game as I have been, I see that the ideas in phase are not strikingly original. Others had done them before. I wonder how many designs that came out a decade ago were actually, "Lets get as far away from D&D as we can" reactions to years of Dungeons and Dragons**.

So we wrote and, tested, and we played.
There were hiccups naturally. One of my favorites was the original version of the game had whomever sat to your left as the  player who would narrate your failures. This lead to jockeying at the table  involving people trying to sit to the right of whomever they were in the mood to mess with  that day. We changed it to a system involving chips that move around the table, to determine who gets to narrate failures.

We have changed from a game mastered to a non-game mastered system several times. Presently the rules are written as a game where the game mastering responsibility moves around the table, but it can be played either way.

Regardless of the problems we have had to write out of the  system, we have played an awful lot of it.

We played a gothic horror setting in a place called Londonia.
We played  Straight fantasy in my Aleria campaign setting.
We played Sci Fi.
We played one shot games that I truthfully / sadly, don't remember everything about.

We used Phase for everything from 2007 until about 2014, in the past two years we have taken a break to try out the cypher system, the new 5th D&D, and a few other fresh faces. Each time we play a new game, invariably one of us says, "we could do that with phase," then we nod, laugh and  move along.

That might be true, we might be able to do that ("that" being whatever we are currently doing with another game,) with our game. Other games are good to though so why is Phase my favorite?

The characters.
Somehow we got lucky, and stumbled on a system of   group goals, character goals, and  skills that creates characters that grow over time.  Not "you get a +1 proficiency  bonus and an new cool power." growth , but honest to goodness growth.

You completed your goal "Find my brother," wrap up the  scene and tell me what happens.
Sounds so simple right?
What if that goal gets completed while you are locked up in prison? How does that help you find your brother?  Well he could be in the prison to, or he could be a guard, or a judge, or a dead body in the corner... It's up to the  player.
Once that goal is  done the  player has to create another goal, so if he found the brother dead in jail, his new goal could be to avenge his death, or of the brother is a prisoner the next goal could be to escape with his brother.
The game makes stories, long interesting, fun stories that the players are always engaged in.

Rik was a D&D thief, Reggie was a D&D paladin. I remember them as such.
I remember what they did as phase charaters.
Muhaddin, massive,  orphaned, former slave, muslim. Retired to a farm near one of the cities in our game. Why? He had answered all his questions, it just felt right. He was free of shackles and the scars they left.
Volodya Taras. The near vampire of Londonia.
Harley Burke.
Carry Cross

So many others.

I am not selling a game here.
I think the latest draft  isn't playable outside of our table. In fact I had a phone conversation with a game designer*** who  was pretty clear that the style of play was not very clear based on the game text. My answer was, "Yeah I know but I never intended the text for public consumption."
It's more like a 38 page codex of how we do things, not what the end result is supposed to look like at the table. I'm not a competent writer, nor am I any one who should be trying to publish books. I'm a guy who games and that's about it. I don't push and agenda with my games, I don't try and prove a point. I simply write what I enjoy.

I have been working on a rewrite I'm calling Phase 2 with minor changes, (AKA, I finally dumped the  attributes.) and  some clarifications, why not get back on the  horse?
Why not play Phase?
Phase can do that.

How does this apply to game design in general?  How is this relevant to  anyone who has never played, or heard of Phase?

Like this.
Design what you like to run or play. Share your game with who you want, play it with who you want. Love your design.
Be proud of your creativity.

Do not let anyone on the internet  tell you your design is crap. Don't let anyone tell you  it's not  old school enough, or it's not narrative enough, or it's to this or to that. Nothing good ever comes of following the mob. 
You will know if it's crap and you will adjust it accordingly, because that's what creators do. If you are having fun with your own game, then damn it it's good. 
The human brain is  wired to  remember negativity and criticism. We take it to heart, it  burns itself into our minds so we will avoid doing the things that caused the disconfort in the first place. A great bit of evolution if you want an organism to not eat poisonous jelly fish, but it sucks for creative types. 
Criticism, intelligent constructive criticism, is useful. Unfortunately intelligent constructive criticism is rare on the web. Here in cyberspace what we get are people calling each other names, harassing each other over perceived elf game inequities, or generally calling each other stupid. It's extremely wasteful, both in terms of time and energy.
If you are reading this and you like to create and share the negativity is going to happen, eventually. It happens to everyone. It has even happened to me here in my  tiny  rarely traveled corner of the web.
Move past the negative. Find those people who can be critical and supportive. Game with your real life friends who you know won't be brazenly rude or cruel just because the  internet protects them with it's anonymity, it implied privilege, and it's assumed distance. 
Design what  you want, where  you want, how you want and don't be put off of your creative vision because some one tells you, "Only wankers play that sort of game." 
The best game I have ever played is a Dm-less story game no one has ever heard of, and I'm not only cool with that, I'm proud of it.

I dedicate this  post,  (post number 301) to Phase Abandon, the folks who have played it, and the good times we have had playing it.
Trust me it's not dead. 10 more years are coming.

Thanks for reading

*(My long suffering friends who have put up with more bad ideas than good. Toast them when you drink, they have earned it.)

** (May or may not hold some truth, good topic for a future post.)

***(Who didn't give me permission to talk about him directly, so I'm not going to. However if you read this you might be happy to know I took the attributes out of the latest version because you were right and I 100% agree.)

****(Why did I write this post 2 solid months before the actual 10th anniversary of the game? The reason is I don't know of this blog has 2 more months in it, and there were some things I wanted to get down just in case)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The punch bowl of absurdity.

Here use these three charts to make a stupid place.

Terrain at present location:
  1. Rocky: This is a hard scrabble place, covered in boulders rock and shale. Tufts of hard grass cling to meager soil wherever they can. Move like the  goats.
  2. Verdant Meadows: Rolling hills dappled with sunlight. Good grazing, lush  grasses. Occasionally  violent storms lash the hills
  3. Deciduous forests: Tall Trees which lose their leaves over the winter. A thick layer of  old leaves covers the ground making worn trails easier to see.
  4. Fungal Grotto: A vast cave system featuring an underground lake, water system. Large tree like  fungus are the  dominant flora.
  5. A vast city scape. Dark, Cramped, Old, Overpopulated. Deep sewers, tall spires, rats, and refuse. Built on the ruins of it's own past the  homeless and the  hungry sleep in the superstructure of  brickwork bridges.
  6. Jungle: Soaring canopy, dark undergrowth, vines everywhere. Monkeys and birds chatter from all directions. It seems like everything is alive and  half of every thing is poisonous. This brush is thick enough to hide anything.
  7. Ice floes: Living on the  eidge of metabolic tolerance. It's always cold, it's always  dark. Salty water below freezing will kill you  more quickly than falling into a fire. Giant sea mammals are you  food, you  shelter, your gods.
  8. Shadows: you land is made of shadow stuff. You live between the waking and dreams. Filtered light in hews of blue and purple streak all around. capturing swallowed impulses from those in the waking  world sustain your people.
  9. The living land: You live inside of some organism of unknowable size. You exist in tunnels and caves of membranes and vascularity, it all pulses it all throbs. Living organic matter.
  10. Desert: Arid , Dry, vast. The  dunes cover everything eventually, your home is built to ride the dunes, to move with the sand. You are a wanderer not by choice but by construction. Food water shelter are primary. Giant Scarabs, tunnels in the sand, those who dwell below the sand, frigid nights.
What is locally most valued as a trade item:
    1d6  then 1d6
  1. Gold: (Or any other metal) Gold: is mined and  used as currency in the form of.
    1. Treads, length = value.
    2. Small Beads, strung on ropes.
    3. Coins, which can be broken down to make smaller values.
    4. Small figurines, usually in lustful poses.
    5. Kept in a liquid state on a  household's sacred flame. Intricate family hot boxes are used to transport liquid gold for transactions. Transporting the  molten gold is only done on festival days, at all other times debts are recorded in complicated ledgers and with detailed receipts. Possession of  cooled gold is a high crime.
    6. Stitched into clothing as fine thread. Parts of  scarves and sleves can be ripped off and used as currency.
  2. Rare snails: 
    1. The snails secrete a mucus which has a very soothing almost narcotic effect. They are exchanged for goods and services. Most of the population are addicted to snail mucus, but this is a cultural norm.
    2. The  shells of the  snails are an iridescent orange. they are broken into chips, polished and used a currency, often while set into jewelry.
    3. It's the snails themselves that represent wealth. Large snails eat small snails, the larger a family's largest snail the greater the family's wealth, the more  they can ask of other  community members. If there is ever any dispute the  family with the larger snail simply takes the lesser snail and feeds it to their own. The  now snail free family a has to find a replacement.
    4. The snails are the  community's only source of  Vitamin C. in the form of an odd jelly that collects under their shells. Without the  snails the community would  all die of scurvy. The wealthy sect control most of the  sails and use them as trade items for goods and services.
    5. The straight exchange of  snail shells. The bigger the shell the more valuable it is. Well to do members of the populations often wear "shell bandoliers."
    6. Shells are traded and valued based on the  purity of  sound which can be made by blowing through them. Some breeds of snails produce a better sound than others. Great expeditions are mounted to find and harvest these, "Snails of purest timber."
  3. Water:
    1. Potable water is rare and as such can be exchanged in  measures as large as a  gallon and as small as a dram, (about 1/8 ounce.) These measure are corked and waxed in glass vials of various sizes. A rich  person is known as a "clinker" due to the  sound of vials knocking together when he or she walks.
    2. Water is collected and stored in large rain bassins, each member of the  population gets their share of water each day. These being the only fresh water in the area it has become a commodity  used in exchange for goods and services.
    3. This is a land of a thousand streams each snaking it's way through the valley. A faimlies wealth is judged by how many small streamlets they have diverted to travel through their  farm lands.
    4. Simple, a script as old as movies, one group controls the  water, everyone else trades for it. Usually the trade is in the form of food, or manufactured items. Sometimes it's in the form of  slaves and sins of the flesh. Either way it's a system of exploitation and the  populous is getting damn tired of it.
  4. Magical Energy:
    1. Siphoned from the earth Dark Sun style
    2. Captured in Gems.
    3. Siphoned from people turning them into  depressed, emo wraiths. The energy is contained in thing crystals.
    4. Contained in small balls of energy  which are held in the eyes.
    5. which can be traded by spilling some of ones life force into another. those who earn more live longer. Those who have to pay out too much wither and ... die.
    6. The energy is harvested from caves containing a type of lichen that can  extract natural magical energies from stone.

    Roll ((2d20 + 1d6) -5)  Result is -2 to 41 
    Use the D6 result in stead of any negative results.
    There are 41 government types listed.
    Government type list wholesale lifted from here. It's a good site though.
    1. Anarchism
    A form of government (or lack thereof) with no ruling hierarchy, instead decisions are made at a directly democratic level: laws are created by citizens alone, although they may be enforced by institutions that are not publicly controlled.
    2. Anarcho-capitalism
    A stateless society composed of sovereign individuals living within the constraints of a corporatist market
    3. Anarchy
    Anarchy is lack of a central government, as there is no one recognized governing authority; in anarchy there is no effective government (as opposed to an "ineffective government") and each (rugged) individual has absolute liberty. It is important to note, however, that the lack of a government to enforce laws does not automatically imply that there are no laws; anarcho-capitalism in particular posits a form of anarchy with a body of explicit laws.
    4. Aristocracy
    A form of government in which a select few rule based on inherited hereditary right.
    5. Autocracy
    A form of government in which the political power is held by a single, self-appointed ruler.
    6. Capracracy
    Rule by goats.
    7. Communist state
    A hypothetical stateless entity that follows after socialism as according to Marxist theory.
    8. Corporatocracy
    A form of government where a corporation, a group of corporations, or government entities with private components control the direction and governance of a country. (See USA.)
    9. Demarchy
    A hypothetical political system run by randomly selected deciders decision makers who have been selected by sortition (drawing lots). Think selecting a legislature or executive in the same manner that a jury is presently selected.
    10. Democracy
    Refers to a broad range of types of government based upon the "consent of the governed." In its purest form it is the same thing as mobocracy, but it is usually practiced in the form of a republic, which provides checks and balances and an establishment that is able to tap an unruly mob on its collective head.
    11. Despotism
    Rule by an all-powerful individual. A less polite term for "autocracy."
    12. Dictatorship
    Rule by a dictator instead of a despot. Political science is very nuanced.
    13. Epistemocracy
    utopian type of society and government in which people of rank, including those holding political office, are those who possess epistemic humility, whatever that is.
    14. Ethnocracy
    A form of government where representatives of a particular ethnic group hold a number of government posts disproportionately large to the percentage of the total population that the particular ethnic group(s) represents and use them to advance the position of their particular ethnic group(s) to the detriment of others. In Nazi Germany ethnic groups Hitler supported held all the power. Neo-Nazisoften accuse Jews of possessing an ethnocracy in the person of the U.S. government, which they call the Zionist Occupation Government.
    15. Exilarchy
    A form of government, usually theocratic or monarchic, that is established and constituted for rule over an ethnic or religious diaspora rather than over the place of origin whence the diaspora originated.
    16. Fascism
    Rule by a totalitarian and corporatist government. It has also gone by the names NazismBaathism, Corporatism, and Falangism.
    17. Feudalism
    Government by a usually hereditary class of military landowners, who exact goods and services from a peasant class in exchange for protection. Usually features complex webs of loyalties and ranks.
    18. Futarchy
    System of government proposed by economist Robin Hanson based on the idea of voting on a certain outcome and then figuring out how to achieve it.
    19. Geniocracy
    A system of government first proposed by Rael (leader of the International RaĆ«lian Movement) in 1977, which advocates problem-solving and creative intelligence as criteria for regional governance.
    20. Holacracy
    a specific social technology or system of organisational governance developed by HolacracyOne, LLC in which authority and decision making are distributed throughout a holarchy of self organising teams rather than being vested in a management hierarchy. (from Wikipedia)
    21. Kakistocracy
    Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens, "Government by the worst."
    22. Kleptocracy
    A term applied to a government that extends the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class (collectively, kleptocrats) at the expense of the population.
    23. Kratocracy
    Rule by those who are strong enough to seize power through force or cunning.
    24. Kritocracy or Krytocracy
    Rule by judges. See also judicial activism.
    25. Matriarchy
    Rule by women, or a government which regards female humans as entitled to rule and to exercise power over men.
    26. Meritocracy
    A government wherein appointments are made and responsibilities are given based on demonstrated talent and ability, usually incentivising "merit".
    27. Minarchy
    A political ideology which maintains that the state's only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression.
    28. Mobocracy or Ochlocracy
    Rule by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of constitutional authorities; think Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail "witch/duck" mob.
    29. Monarchy
    Rule by an individual for life or until abdication, often hereditary. On a positive note, a monarchy usually possesses more checks and balances than an autocracy or dictatorship.
    30. Oligarchy
    A form of government in which power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royal, wealth, intellectual, family, military or religious hegemony.
    31. Panarchracy
    A political philosophy emphasizing each individual's right to freely join and leave the jurisdiction of any governments they choose, without being forced to move from their current locale.
    32. Patriarchy
    Rule by men, or a government which regards male humans as entitled to rule and to exercise power over women.
    33. Plutocracy
    Rule by the wealthy, or power provided by wealth.
    34. Republic
    Historical definition: Any of a wide variety of non-monarchical governments where eligibility to rule is determined by law. US definition: Rule by elected individuals representing the citizen body and exercising power according to the rule of law.
    35. Socialist republic or people's republic
    A state run by a communist party, or worker representative democracy, with a centrally controlled economy and resources distributed by need and produced by ability, where workers, or the Party, control the means of production.
    36. Stratocracy
    A system of government in which there is no distinction between the military and the civil power.
    37. Technocracy
    A form of government in which engineersscientists, and other technical experts are in control of decision making in their respective fields.
    38. Theocracy
    A form of government in which a god or deity is recognized as the state's supreme civil ruler. Since said god or deity is usually absent from decision making, a self-appointed or elected leader or leaders of the religion of said god or deity will rule instead through personal interpretation of the laws commanded by the god in that religion's written law.
    39. Theodemocracy
    A political system theorized by Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement (Mormons). As the name implies, theodemocracy was meant to be a fusion of traditional republican democratic rights under the US Constitution combined with theocratic elements.
    40. Timocracy
    Either a state where only property owners may participate in government or where rulers are selected and perpetuated based on the degree of honor they hold relative to others in their society, peer group or class.
    41. Tyranny
    Rule by a selfish or otherwise bad single ruler

    Why am I doing this?
    No reason..

    Anyone remember Soul Calibur 2 on the PS2?
    First, when you lose in that game, then choose to continue. The  booming announcer voice says "The Fire Still BURNS.." Which I think is great and could lead me down a whole path of digression about why I still write this blog and play RPG's at the age of forty one. No one wants to read that shit.

    My real reason for mentioning a thirteen year old game is a bit more gamerly.

    Perhaps it was the weapon based fighting. Perhaps it was the  inclusion of the market and the  "conquest mode." I don't know why exactly but I have always thought that game would make a great paper and pencil RPG.
    I think that the setting is a sublime mash up of the year 1591, cursed magic swords, a samurai, magic, and whatever the hell this is..

    My point being  settings are fun, settings are the  underpinning of  everything that happens at the table, and if a group is only going to use it once, settings can get odd.

    Enjoy !

    Thank you for reading.