Trip's Brain-Sucking Web Site

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Trip's Life (Recent episodes)

5 Most Recent Comments
2014-12-18:  "Anne BIshop!" by Avalon
2014-11-19:  "Re: 13th Age" by Trip
2014-11-03:  "Re: Half-book" by Trip
2014-10-17:  "Re: United States of Asgard novellas" by Trip
2014-10-17:  "United States of Asgard novellas" by Carl

18 December 2014 - Thursday

No Avalon, she had her work holiday party. It sounds like it was not much fun. 8(


Ajin: Demi-Human (Tsuina Miura, Gamon Sakurai) is a little similar to Future Diary, in that it uses the technique of adding one fleck of strangeness to the normal world and watching all the horrifying implications crystallize around it. In this case, it's a small number of people (like, 1 in 100M) who don't stay dead when you kill them, and oddly correlated instances of people being torn apart by invisible monsters in broad daylight.

Written in Red (Anne Bishop) is set in an alternate world which is mostly inhabited by horrible monsters that start at casually-anthrophagous vampires and lycanthropes and get more terrifying from there. Despite this significant divergence, daily life for humans is a lot like modern Earth, and because werewolves appreciate modcons too, some humans are allowed to live on reservations in cognate-NA. The main character has escaped from the self-harming-precog ranch and, knowing very little about how to be human, ends up charming and slightly humanizing the terra indigenes in the process of humanizing herself. Also there are plots and schemes of various sorts to make her life harder, because being a PC sucks sometimes.


Twelve paws!

Anne BIshop! by Avalon (Fri Dec 19 19:08:51 2014)

I did not know she had something new out. I cannot really get into the Ephemera books but the Jewels ones were a big deal at home. =)

The party was not terrible but I never did get to sing karaoke, so I do not know if I would have been soulful and Rhianna like or gotten everyone channelling Queen.

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17 December 2014 - Wednesday

I must be enjoying running 13th Age, since after doing it, I think about it obsessively and want to do it more. However, next Wednesday is XE and the following Wednesday is NYE, and Dave and Mike are out for various intervals, so there's no telling when I'll get to do it again.

Whenever that is, I should probably try to wrap up this plotline, so the PCs can move on with their new enmities/alliances/relationship dice.


I'm not sure why I read all of Assault Troopers, Planet Strike, and Star Viking (Vaughn Heppner), because they just aren't very good. Not as frothingly right-wing as some, but full of aliens who are pointlessly stupid and humans who always succeed because they have Gumption.

At least I didn't pay money for them, since they were on Kindle Unlimited.


Into the Violet Vale is a short Numenera adventure, originally a con run so it has pregen characters and advice on timing to fit the whole thing into a four-hour slot. Like a lot of Numenera adventures, it's mostly a location full of bizarreness, although it does have a non-location-related goal the PCs must accomplish to get full marks XP.

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16 December 2014 - Tuesday

In corpspeek, "celebration" means "free food and schwag", so I guess we had a celebration at work today. I scored one of the Aster shirts handed out for my boss (who works far away) because I am a horrible suckup.


Hurray, I have Avalonsmooches!


Beyond All Worlds is a Numenera adventure, although it's mostly just a location since the goal is escape.

A billion years, and humans still suck.

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15 December 2014 - Monday

It seems like it should be Christmas, but it isn't. Hmph.


When Worlds Collide and Strange Creatures of the Ninth World are short guides to interconverting Numenera and The Strange. Since the systems are almost the same, only the menu items need to be addressed, and most of those are okay in either setting as well. In fact, I think I only have these because I got them free as part of The Strange Kickstarter, because even I could figure this stuff out.


Legion: Skin Deep (Brandon Sanderson) is a sequel to Legion, about a skill monster who paid for it all with imaginary friends and Public ID. There are hints that something is up with his friends, but of course nothing concrete.

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14 December 2014 - Sunday

No Immortal Empire , because gingerbread! There seemed to be more people than last year, but maybe that is because there was more stuff in the back room, compressing the crowd like an ideal gas composed of sugar and geekery.

Bonus Fading Suns, because everyone is unavailable next week due to holiday travel. We spent the whole session plotting and planning, which was necessary to avoid dying horribly, but not very action-oriented.


The Dark Spiral is a largish adventure for The Strange, featuring spoilers, spoilers, and more spoilers. It seems like it would work pretty well as a first major adventure for new but mobbed-up PCs, and the largest monster is nicely freaky.


Twelve paws, four of them with a sleeping respiratory rate of 16/minute.

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13 December 2014 - Saturday

The pilfered tradition of St Lucia's Day lives on!

Making cookies with a 5-year-old works about as well as you'd expect.


  • Chihayafuru 16: Recap episode, plus omake segments.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica 8-9: I don't understand why she doesn't find Kyubey's explanation of the greater good compelling.
  • Tiger & Bunny 17: Obviously she's stealing his powers.
  • Legend of Korra season II 12: Fewer superpowers = more Fate points!

The Strange Bestiary is exactly what it says on the tin: a bunch of alien critters and NPCs for The Strange. There are some standard creatures (vampires, Deep Ones) for the fiction-based recursions, quasi-Bablyonian creatures and grotesque biotech horrors for the two major recursions, and the incomprehensible things from the Strange.

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12 December 2014 - Friday

I had scheduled today off for doctor appointments, but the morning one was cancelled so I ended up working from home in the morning, very unproductively.

Marmalade's appointment was not cancelled, even though he assured me repeatedly that it was. It wasn't raining while I was lugging him, though, and the vet only listened to him, with no stabbing or anal penetration or anything terrible, so it was probably the best vet visit he's ever had.

However, in the realm of abstract reasoning and prediction, it was not so great. Marmalade's heart murmur has not gotten worse, but it hasn't gotten better, either, which means that it could blossom into heart failure at any time. In cats, this leads to build-up of fluid around the lungs and the obvious symptom of respiratory difficulties. If I notice Marmalade panting, then it's an emergency and I need to get him to the vet right away (this sounds like what happened to Hayama), but if I time his sleeping respiration every couple of days for the rest of his life, hopefully we can catch it before it reaches that point. Or, maybe his heart will be fine until he croaks from something completely different. No way to tell.

But for today: Twelve paws!


In volume 6 of A Bride's Story (Kaoru Mori), we learn that young adolescents desperately want to be treated like adults, and that you just can't trust people who do business with the Russians.


I don't know the technical definition of a light novel, but Zero Sight and Zero Sum (B Justin Shier) are somewhere in that space. A young man of mysterious talent is recruited to a secret school, the world is deeper and more horrifying than he ever expected, there's a love triangle with the cute girl-next-doorcontinent and exotic and terrifying beauty he is mysteriously drawn too, the world needs saving, etc. It's much the same genre as the "Academy" books (Zachary Rawlins), which may explain why I liked these ones too.

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11 December 2014 - Thursday

Yukarism is a new (over here) series by Chika Shiomi, the manga-ka who did Yurara and Rasetsu. So far there are no demons or ghosts, but a modern high school boy temporarily retroincarnated in a historical courtesan's body is pretty silly.


Twelve paws!

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10 December 2014 - Wednesday

Apparently there's supposed to be some huge storm hitting us tonight and lasting through at least Friday. Fortunately, I am not made of sugar and will not dissolve in the rain.


This time I gave people fights, and they seemed to like them. Benefits from icon relationship rolls were used liberally and not in ways that I had imagined, so I think we are really playing 13th Age, not just D&D with a new set of rules.


A lot of Cthulhoid stories have a town that has been taken over by a cult, but Lucky's Girl (William Holloway) shows how a town gets to be that way. Since I have always wondered what motivates the cultist who is about to be peeled like an onion, I liked it quite a bit. It is definitely not for the squeamish, though.


Someone on Tumblr listed a bunch of fantasy books with protagonists with disabilities, so I figured I should be supportive or something, and hey, Link+. The first one delivered up to me is Winterkill (Kate A Boorman), which is definitely AH (early 1800s, looks like) but only vaguely fantasy. It wasn't bad or anything, but the romance subplot seemed kind of meh. It would have been better if the protagonist had had the hots for <rot13>gur Svefg Crbcyrf tvey ng gur raq</rot13>.


Monte Cook's new game The Strange uses very close to the same system as Numenera, but is in the dimension-travelling intrigue subgenre. The eponymous "Strange" is an unfathomably vast and nonempty hyperspace that manifests in normal space as the dark energy driving the universe's expansion. Pocket dimensions ("recursions") naturally spawn in the Strange near inhabited worlds as a result of leaking ideas, though there are many other life-cycle options for recursions. There are at least three standard ways to get between recursions or to/from the prime world, with different implications for what you arrive as; the PCs can do it with the power of their brains alone, which makes them hot commodities among the conspiracies that are aware of the Strange. Adventure ensues!

I am still not sure about the Cypher System, although I am definitely down with the idea of awarding XP for what the PCs are supposed to be doing ("Explore. Defend. Create."), and I did read the setting parts of the book pretty much straight through.

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9 December 2014 - Tuesday

Huh, I have no library books to take back. Is this really Tuesday?


Oh, it's Avalonhuggingday! That's a good one!


I have liked many of the pictures in previous years, but a lot of Spectrum 21 (ed John Fleskes) left me unmoved. I think I may be being left behind by SF art. Or I just have no taste.


Monster (Carmen Caine) is not-very-good paranormal romance.

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8 December 2014 - Monday

You'd think not staying out until all hours gaming on Sunday night would make Monday more pleasant, and yet...


Unsurprisingly, The Book of Cthulhu 2 (ed Ross Lockhart) is another anthology of Cthulhoid short fiction. Several of the stories I had read before, and none of them really wowed me.

The Shoggoth Conspiracy (David Conyers, John Sunseri, David Kernot) is also a collection of Cthulhoid stories, but mostly by one author (with cowriters on a couple). They are like "A Colder War" played straight, with the heroic Aussie spy fighting Mythos threats all over the world and beyond. I'm not sure about the portrayal of shoggoths, but Azathoth is handled interestingly.


Twelve paws trying to help me chat with Avalon!

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7 December 2014 - Sunday

I managed to do many of the errands that I didn't do yesterday, although my apartment is still terrible. At least the Link+ Ninjas will not be coming for me.


I was merely blocks away from finishing my long trek to Beep House for Fading Suns when Ken called to let me know that Bryn was exploding of digestive woes and there would be no gaming. Bah! But I was so close I went anyway, to scrounge leftovers and, as it turned out, play Lords of Waterdeep (didn't win) Red Dragon Inn (did win, because Fiona the Volatile is cutest). I feel that my travel time was well-spent.

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6 December 2014 - Saturday

No more iPad art class. No more brain. Blblblbl.


Ken is at a party somewhere, so we didn't watch Tiger & Bunny, but Ayse didn't want to watch any Madoka without something to restore SAN afterwards, so we did not have a very diverse anime night.

Dave records which episode of each series to watch as tiny hash marks, which saves on storage space but may introduce errors...

  • Chihayafuru 14-15, 13: Nationals! The reigning queen of karuta is a worthy opponent, and also a Shadowrun character origin. But am I the only one who thinks it's weird that the girl interested in traditional Japanese clothing is the one with a figure?
  • Legend of Korra season II 9-11: Apparently the core message of children's media is, "Always negotiate with terrorists". Or maybe it's, "It doesn't matter what happens to your loved ones as long as you die too so that you don't have to live with it".

Twelve paws!

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5 December 2014 - Friday

Eventually it will be Friday.


Hey, wait! Today is Friday! And Avalon! My tiny little brain and I have made it!


Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer (Satoshi Mizukami) is weird shounen action (ish) with nihilistic philosophy and a lizard.


Twelve paws!

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4 December 2014 - Thursday

Ugh, gaming too late.


The Vault of Dreamers (Caragh M O'Brien) talks about dreams a lot, but is really SF. It's not futuristic enough for how far in the future it's supposed to be, though, I don't think. Cell phone technology must march onward! I'm also not sure there's enough feedback from the characters being on camera 24/7.


Symbiont (Mira Grant) was going to be the conclusion of a duology, but apparently the story mutated and grew and chewed its way into different parts of the author's brain and there will have to be another book next year for the final fate of humanity and the [SPOILER] zombies.

The important lesson of this book: not being an asshole about pronouns with a transgendered person could save you from a deathtrap.

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3 December 2014 - Wednesday

Today I ran 13th Age and it was not completely horrible. I think. However, it wasn't great, because no PCs were harmed in the making of this episode and apparently people wanted a fight. Fights next week, for sure!

I guess that means I should prep for next week, huh?

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2 December 2014 - Tuesday

La la la work.


Asura Girl (Outarou Maijou) is obviously art, because it's stream of consciousness about man's* inhumanity to man*. I have no artistic sensibilities, or maybe I'm just American.

*Where by "man" we mean "schoolkid".


The Weight of Stars (Tessa Gratton) is a collection of three novellas in the "United States of Asgard" setting:

  • "Gold Runner", dedicated "for all the girls who love themselves"
  • "Lady Berserk", "for all the girls with dragons in their hearts"
  • "Glory's Teeth", "for all the girls who hunger"

Some of the characters were previously seen in The Lost Sun and The Strange Maid; all of them are awesome and/or terrifying.

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1 December 2014 - Monday

Long weekends are much better than full work weeks.


At last, Velveteen vs The Multiverse (Seanan McGuire) is out! Hurray!

There is one line from the appendix in Velveteen vs The Junior Super-Patriots that I wish had been followed up on, but it was over-the-top enough without that I can't complain. I do wish the big bad had been slightly different, but this was was more genre-appropriate.


I appreciate pictures of naked cuties as much as anyone*, but the art in The Future of Erotic Fantasy Art (Paul Peart-Smith) is just not very good. It's mostly semi-skilled Poser work, with only a few pieces that approach professional quality.

*Well, okay, probably I'm actually somewhere around the median, but you know what I mean.


Twelve paws!

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30 November 2014 - Sunday

No gaming, only grocery shopping and stuff.


The waitress at the Thai restaurant by Trader Joe's also plays the Frozen game.


Remember, no dying!

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29 November 2014 - Saturday

Saturday III is much like Saturday II only with more rain. We finished the History of the World game we started last night, and I came in dead last because I suck. Ken almost didn't lose, though!

I only lost 7 Wonders by 1 point, this time.

Somehow, I failed to eat much in the way of leftovers, but ate lots of vegetables and cheese and crackers so yay me or something.

Gaming tomorrow is cancelled because Jeremy threw his back out (it sounds so miserable even Ken was sorry for him) but Marith wanted to drive back tonight anyway, and I more or less had to go with her to avoid being strapped to the roof of a Prius. I wanted to see my cats and some quiet.

We hard hardly any traffic delay, but made up for it by getting lost.


Twelve paws!

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28 November 2014 - Friday

Today is Saturday II, which is for playing Cities & Knights of Catan (I still suck), reading Pathfinder bestiaries in hope of inspiriation for 13th Age (yes, I know, but they were handy and have shiny pictures), keeping small girls from dying in the pool, and going blblblblblbl.

We went to the gaming store and I picked up the D&D5e DMG just in case someone does run it.

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27 November 2014 - Thursday

I wasn't sure Marith would be okay for driving early in the morning, but she was, and we made it to Roseville before lunch, with almost no traffic delay. Go us!

Roseville is pretty much where we left it, which is always good. Robert is even back from college, so to us it is as though he hardly left at all. Also, it is full of food, because it is Thanksgiving, and people, and heat, and shrieking small children. But yay food! Yay people, even!

I am still terrible at 7 Wonders and talking to people and eating vast quantities of food and stuff. I did eat a little of the bacon that was a byproduct of turkey production, though.


This year, I am thankful for my Hot Internet Girlfriend!

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26 November 2014 - Wednesday

It's like Friday! With three Saturdays to follow! Wheeeeee ahahahahaha!


Ken and Ayse and Dave and Jus and Ta Baby have all already gone up to Roseville and are even now basking in friendship and board games.


Avalon, still no dying!

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25 November 2014 - Tuesday

Back to the incident mines!


Avalon, no dying!

Not today! by Avalon (Wed Nov 26 18:04:22 2014)

Today was all about videos. =)

Re: Not today! by Trip (Wed Nov 26 21:47:26 2014)

Okay. Videos are not the same as death, I am almost certain.

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24 November 2014 - Monday

Starting work early, from home. At least it's a short week!


Today I took the afternoon off to do the thing in Campbell.


Aw, Avalon is feeling poorly and must go to bed instead of date night.


Seraph of the End (Takaya Kagami, Yamato Yamanoto, Daisuke Furuya) looks like pretty standard shounen: everybody dies, vampires take over, young man vows revenge on the monsters who murdered his family and joins an eccentric band of misfits who wield special weapons...

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23 November 2014 - Sunday

No Fading Suns today. Everyone is out of town or dead for tax purposes or something.


Übel Blatt vol 0 (Etorouji Shiono) is in the ever-popular "blood, breasts, and blades" genre, with bonus Germanic names.

Gameboard of the Gods (Richelle Mead) depicts a future society which has heavily regulated religion after crusaders of some kind kill half of everyone with biotech. However, supressing belief in fictional entities may turn out to be counterproductive when the entities are not so fictional after all...

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22 November 2014 - Saturday

This is the last regularly scheduled meeting of the iPad art class, probably. We can keep showing up, for like $20 a class. I think I should instead take a basic art class, so I can learn about things like composition and color and monkeys and stuff. (Probably mostly stuff.)


Finally, after weeks of being thwarted by impossible children, the parsnip-chestnut soup whispered of in prophecy! This soup definitely has a place, and that place is in my tummy.

  • Tiger & Bunny 15-16: Finally Lunatic's backstory is made explicit. That's a lot of doom.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica 7: Rarely has an apple been eaten with such dramatic fury!
  • Chihayafuru 11-12: If they're already going to Nationals halfway through the first season, how is this show going to run three seasons?
  • Legend of Korra season II 8: I really like the abstract forms of the great spirits in the mythic flashback.

Twelve paws!

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21 November 2014 - Friday

Yay Friday!


Apparently I just don't get Jasper Fforde. His YA book, The Last Dragonslayer, was okay, but did not cause me to collapse laughing or anything. Maybe I'm insufficiently British?


Technology Compendium: Sir Arthour's Guide to the Numenera is pretty much what it implies on the tin: a zillion new cyphers and artifacts for Numenera. Since artifacts in Numenera are by definition super-random, it's not like there can be any system for them, just d100 tables.

The low entropy of the cypher and artifact results bothers me. I know it shouldn't, but "repurposed internal component of an unknown machine" and "not only survivable but easily reversible changes to biology" just don't stick together in my mind. Maybe it would work better if the numenera were less mechanical.

That said, I would still like to try Numenera sometime.

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20 November 2014 - Thursday

Hey, I'm caught up on blogging! Just not on braining...


The art in Imagine Prime (Imaginary Friends Studios) is by a bunch of different people in the studio, so I like some of the pieces more than others.

After the 8569346 enormous volumes of the "Malazan Book of the Fallen" series, it is very strange to see Steven Erikson produce Willful Child. It's Star Trek parody (or spoof?), but the parody of Kirk is actually being competent and effective by acting like that. But it's still parody.

The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword (Jack Campbell) is the third in the spinoff series about the leaders of a breakaway star system from the polity defeated by the main character of the main series, as they try to stay afloat and build a society worth living in while surrounded and populated by people who wouldn't be out of place in the worst of Stalin's USSR.

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19 November 2014 - Wednesday

We're playing 13th Age?! How did this happen?!

Our 1st-level PCs are:

  • Anwe Cloudsinger: Once minor high elf nobility and an agent of the Elf Queen, turned into some kind of drow shadow monster by the poisoned blood of the Green — apparently in this setting, drow have pale skin and bunny ears. (Trip)
  • Ktangs: Dragonborn Mandarin of the Dead from a previous Age, zombified by the Lich King and pawned off on the Three. (Mike)
  • San-Sobretto: Itinerant wood elf cleric of all the little or forgotten gods not glamorous enough to get space in the Cathedral. (Ken's friend Jacob, who none of the rest of us had previously gamed with)
  • Reginald: The voices in his head tell him about laws being broken in his presence, but he flamed out of paladin school due to berserking issues and now mostly drinks. (Dave)
  • Censor Li: The last honest cop in the Dragon Empire, or so it often seems. Did not appear in this adventure. (Ken)

A murder of crows tried to attract San-Sobretto's attention to the "caw caw" in the "caw"-- anyway, something Not Right. Ktangs sacrificed one of the crows that was already badly wounded and got a little more information, so our ragtag band of misfits headed out to the woods north of Drakkenhall, to what turned out to be the old graveyard. Skeletons erupted from the ground and tried to add us to the pile of dead goblins, but it didn't go that way at all. Victory: PCs.

The rituals to keep the dead in their graves had obviously not been being conducted, so we hiked over to the gravekeeper's house, and found a severed hand and a severed goblin head minus one eye on the untended altar out front. Inside, the gravekeeper was playing the shamisen, with a knife sticking out of his chest, while three throatless goblins listened attentively.

This was clearly bad news, and we were ready for a tough fight, but Ktangs resolved the situation by rolling a natural 20 to castigate the bureaucrat who had been failing in his duties. The head ghoul accepted being fired and asked for a pension so that he would not have to "live off the land", which Ktangs took as asking to be freed from undeath. All th ghouls were laid to rest without complaint, and Ktangs wrote a stern report to the Ministry of Cemeteries about providing sufficient resources for the rituals to be maintained.

(It turned out that the goblins' plan had been to shank the gravekeeper and wait for the undead to claw their way to the surface, because digging up graves themselves sounded like work. That was a goblin plan, all right.)


On a slightly different note, Numenera Character Options is a bunch of additional menu items for the first and third blanks in the madlib character generation system. Now you can be a Mad glaive who Hunts Mutants, or a Vengeful nano who Constantly Evolves. Going off-menu is still a matter of balancing by eye vs the Rule of Efficacious Blandishment, though.

Well! by Avalon (Fri Nov 21 18:20:25 2014)

I am starting to see why we get along so well, all these cemeteries. =)

Re: Well! by Trip (Tue Nov 25 16:33:28 2014)

I can't say the cemeteries were my idea! But I am running next week, so there might be cemeteries that are my fault!

13th Age by Carl (Fri Nov 28 23:47:59 2014)

Is it 13th Age that has the One Unique Thing for PCs? What are the PCs' Unique Things?

I would like a Vengful Nano Who Constantly Evolves to team up with an Evolving Nano Who Constantly Avenges, and possibly for them to fight crimes. Or being PCs, do crimes.

Re: 13th Age by Trip (Mon Dec 1 16:13:56 2014)

I don't remember the exact words for all of them, but the gist is in the descriptions, along with some of the backgrounds.

If it's done right, how much difference is there between fighting crimes and doing crimes?

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