Where are the Pets?

Humans have had animal companions since before we had written language, barely had agroculture, and still thought a good layer of dirt was a good way to stay healthy.  Our pets have followed us throughout time, history, culture and art ... and yet, despite there being rules in place for them, I have rarely ever seen pets in a roleplaying game.  Yes, I've seen familiars, I've seen a Ranger's animal companion but not pets.  Where is the sword-wielding farmboy's faithful dog who refused to stay behind when her master ran off to adventure and came with?  Where is swashbuckler's cliche parrot, spouting sarcastic comebacks to his master's corny one-liners?

I started to think of this utter lack of pets when I was trying to get in to a Fantasyground's Pathfinder game.  I was in a hurry so I used HeroForge to create my character, a Cleric to some God of Justice when I noticed I could have a companion, I looked into it and found I could have a pet!  So My Cleric of the God of Justice was presented to the world with her faithful pet ferret "Bandit".  The GM turned down my application and was very honest with his reasons:  Pets don't belong in roleplaying game.

This got me thinking, why not?  Can only the Ranger or Wizard have an animal by their side? 

Personally, I think not and I challenge everyone who reads this blog, have a pet for even one game, share its sheet, share story ... show that pets can exist in the game as more than just a tool in a class's utility belt.

Marvel's Conan the Barbarian Issue 1

When I was of the wee age of seven my step-father took me to a local comic convention in Reading.  It wasn't like what my seven-year-old mind thought and I found myself rather disappointed to see booth after booth after booth of Tri-State comic shops selling old stock and collectables.  No Stan Lee, no Neal Adams, none of the few names I knew at seven; just pot-bellied old men trying to get 10-bucks for a comic about a scantily clad vampire with a silly name.

The one highlight for seven-year-old me though was the gift that I got from the check-in desk after my step-father paid for us to get in.  A 1978 Savage Sword of Conan magazine from Marvel comics.  It was large, black-and-white and filled with amazing tales of swords and magic, gods and demons ... and above all else, like a loom grim avatar of death:  Conan.  As it turned out my step-father had a huge Conan collection not just Savage Sword of Conan but also Marvel's Conan the Barbarian, Conan books, issues of Wierd Tales with Conan stories ... technically I wasn't allowed to touch these, but my step-father worked second shift at a steel mill so what he didn't know didn't hurt either of us.

Marvel Comics: Conan the Barbarian 2019
Shoot forward to last year when it was announced that Marvel had regained the comic rights to Conan.  I was overjoyed.  Yes, Dark Horse had produced some flatout amazing work on their run of the comic, but there is something special about knowing a character you love is going back to the people who had him when you discovered that character.  I was of course worried, Conan is not a good fit for modern sensibilities.  There is far too much that some would find problematic, and to strip those aspects away from Conan is to essentially make him He-Man (and I mean the DIC He-Man). Add to that Marvel's bullpen of recent years, so-so writers, bad artists, to much pandering to politics over storytelling and I started to think Conan's return to the Merry Marvel writer's room was doomed.

After reading the first issue I can say that I am hopeful.  Jason Aaron who had an amazing run on Thor post Civil War is doing the writing here and he channels the cadence and wording of the old Marvel comics beautifully.  This compiled with Mahmud Asrar's art and Matt Wilson's coloring go along way of finding a sweet middle ground between Barbarian and Savage with a little of the Darkhorse grit present as well.  Presentation-wise I was nothing but amazed.

The story is a long game, present a single event of Conan's past in his time as a thief and mercenary and projecting it forward to his final days as king as a cult of a demon lord who predates Atlantis wants to use Conan's blood to bring back their god.  The set-up for this is classic, and while I'm sure some people may get angry about Conan being bested and chained to a sacrifical table to be against the character, I disagree, and seeing how Conan escapes his plight (and just HOW Conan it is) is inspired at least one future event my 5e Barbarian will be involved in.  The part's that worried me were with King Conan and how heavily Aaron relied on the "aging warrior" trope.  Conan complains about his back, his muscles aching, etc ... Yes, this is a trope and can be done and has been done very well (see Dark Horse's run).  Here though I felt it was a crutch that didn't aid in deeping the character but in moving the plot and moving forward I hope Aaron irons this out or doesn't fall back on it after this issue quite so much.

Final thoughts - Marvel's main-stream appeal and eyes that are on the industry.
nan is a good Hard PG-13 take on the character which is the best we can hope for in the current comics climate and the


D6 Follow-Up

This morning I received an e-mail from Chris Tang of One Bookshelf (the people who own DrivethruRPG) and to say the least, it is promising.  With luck in a few weeks Open D6 (WEG D6) will have its own listing on the platform, allowing creators and fans of the system to more easily find and and list their products correctly!

Rambling Thoughts - AAC

Emanuel Martinez Lema 2016
Something I have been thinking of a lot lately is the interaction of armor to the wearer in rpgs.  I have typically been of the mind that abstractt is better than realistic ... with this in mind, AAC and DAC  have always been quite fine to me as it was an abstract representation of a character's ability to "roll" with a potential blow.  Recently, however, and maybe partially due to the number of actual play podcasts I have been listening to I have started to ponder other systems of defense and damage that do not work toward the DR style most people tend to move towards.

Please note, this is very much in draft form and I have not yet had the chance to test this out in any real way.  Also, this was developed with AAC in mind but should be easily adaptable to DAC.

AAC should continue to calculated in the manner that it has been since the earlest days of the AAC.  This means:

Second AAC exists Seperate from Health and is tracked in a similar manner. This means a character with 35 HP and an AC of 17 has two potential hit tracks.  This works as follows:

Enemy targets character and rolls as normal, if the roll is under AAC everything proceeds as normal.  If the attack hits that character loses AAC equal to the difference of his AAC to the Dice roll.  If an attack is critical the damage goes directly to the HP equal to the weapon HD.  Once AAC is reduced to 0 all damage is against HP and equal to the weapon HD with the only defense being 10 + Dex Modifier.

Again, this is very much a draft stage and both wording an implemantation needs a lot of work.  Still, I figured it was worth sharing.

Product Highlight - The Codex of the Black Sun

Sine Nomine Publishing, the folks behind the widely popular Science Fiction RPG, Stars Without Number, have released a new suplement for Stars Without Number that promises to "unleash the power of aranotech" into the Stars Without Number universe.

That's right, Magic in the till now hard Scifi setting.

The Codex of the Black Sun is a massive tome coming home at 152 pages with writing by Kevin Crawford and art by Grandfailure and Kittiphat.  Despite not even being out for a full month yet (released on December 9th, 2018) the release already holds as a Best Gold Seller on DrivethruRPG and holds an average ranking of 4 1/2 Stars.

The book comes with:

New Lore to slide into your SWN game
New Classes
New Enemies
New gear (through Arcanotech)
Spell Lists

I have not yet had the chance to play Stars Without Number despite owning it and a few of its suppliments for a number of years, The Codex of the Black Sun is on my Wishlist for this year as part of my new resolve to jump back into the RPG community and interact with other players from around the globe once more.

Setting up the New Year

Today is a lot of prep and down time for the family as we usher in the New Year.  On the gaming front I am busily working on reformatting my 2-year-old Kindle Fire so that I can use primrarily as means to easily use the multitude of pdf rpgs, adventures, etc.

Today also marks Dark Agent's (my oldest daughter) first forey into VTT gaming and I'm also running tech support for her as she sets up and tries to learn the ropes of Roll20.

Speaking of Roll20, their Join Game function now has a side bar for pick-up games.  The majority that I have seen are pay to buy in style so be warned before getting excited about that.  The Pick-Up games side bar freatures games listed as such that would be starting within 2-hours of when you look.  I like this idea both on the paid side and on the idea that I have often times suddenly found myself with a few hours of time but no way to organize or quickly join a game.

 I truly hope it is something that my prefered VTT, Fantasy Grounds, picks up when they finally move onto FG3.

[White Star] Race - Husk

  White Star Core edition – Military Campaign This race assumes a campaign structure that is primarily human-centric and takes cues from my ...