psionics in the works

Over the last stretch of weeks, after contemplating the idea for most of last fall (I can be very slow), I’ve been putting together a set of psionic talents for pocketrpg stuff.

(I’m kind of thinking of tweaking the phrasing of a few of them and releasing a Creative Commons version of the talents themselves, like I did when I put out a hundred CC spells over the holidays)

And yeah, I basically used the tried-and-true thematic subdivisions, because

1) they work so why change it
2) they’ve existed through all branches of specfic as well as through sff rpgs
However! My end results have seven paths/schools/disciplines/whatever, instead of the “usual” (A)D&D six, for the following reasons and rambling train of thought to get to the end result:

1) I liked some of the ideas behind the Metapsionics discipline in 2e, but not all of them, and also the idea of locking stuff behind/into “the uber discipline” was and is annoying
2) similarly I really like the Metacreativity discipline in 3e, because making stuff is cool, manipulating ectoplasm — originally as much considering a psychic manifestation as a ~ghosty manifestation, thanks so much Ghostbusters *grumbles* — is cool, and why I never liked anything to do with crystal anythings why do you ask *shifty look*
3) if psionics is powered by your will, your “you”, your spirit/soul/insert-whatever-term, there should be spirit stuff in general
4) buuuut I hate the (often frankly creepy and not in a horror way) “occult” trappings that get slathered all over that end of things (a turnoff I have with Pathfinder’s approach to psionics, for example, because it lays it on thick)
5) I wanted to try to avoid the exoticizing/Orientalizing that keeps slinking into psionics stuff, from names to definitions

Also “telepathy” needed some tweaking, although in the end it really is about messing with people’s minds as much as talking to them and that’s annoying. I’ve avoided the worst mind control, though, I hope.

So in the end I have seven groups, labeled with one-word titles because frankly I think a good amount of the “psionics doesn’t belong in fantasy” crowd — aside from having missed whole branches of the fantasy genre in general for the many decades — are put off by the oft-deliberate pseudo-scientific name schemes in place.

To whit:

– Sight (“clairsentience”)
– Mind (“telepathy”)
– Body (“psychometabolism”)
– Forces (“psychokinetics”)
– Motion (“psychoportation”)
– Matter (3e “metacreativity”, tweaked just a smidge)
– Spirit (“metapsionics” 2e stripped down and recombined with spirit- and ghosty- and intangible stuff)

Twelve talents each, and I did my best to avoid jargon with the talent names also. (oh gawd I wrote another 80-odd thingers plz end me *lol*)


Hopefully I get some simple formatting done and these up by the end of the week or maybe next week. Definitely debating over a CC version also though.

And of course, nothing’s stopping anyone from using these, once they’re up, as just another pile of spells to add to a spell pool anyway; there’s nothing inherently different about them in the end. It’s all cool.

Dicember 2021 – world

Here we are, at the end of Dicember and at the end of the year, and this one time I’m going to diverge from the posts I’ve made up to this point to instead offer, if not “advice” exactly (because what works for me may not be guaranteed to work for thee), then a very brief glance at how I get grist for the worldbuilding mill.

(for all you “anti-canon” folks and similar, this applies just as much to making tables of possibilities and similar as it does to describing places and things. just saying ;p)

Because every once in a while I get asked how I make things, and — leaving aside that analyzing any of my creative impulses is a foreign country for me anyway, it would boil down to the following:

01. Read. Read a lot.

And I do mean read. Not watch Youtube videos or tv shows or Tiktoks. Put the words into your head. Go back and re-read parts. Chew on them. Mull them over. Compare them to other things you’ve read. Don’t be afraid to return to the material again and again, especially if you enjoyed it the first time.

02. I mean read non-fiction.

Stuffing more rpgs/novels/plays/manga/comicbooks/whatever into your skull shows you how other people implemented their ideas but it doesn’t give you where all that stuff came from. Read about the world; read about things that exist in the world (and beyond the world, for that matter). Which brings us to

03. Read non-fiction widely.

History textbooks are all well and good *glances at part of shelves* but you want more than that. Read anything and everything that looks interesting. Read about plants, animals (living and dead and very dead), rocks and stones; read about food — where it comes from, how its made, what’s eaten or not and why and how it got there. Bathing habits to bees, textiles to tombs, fossils to flowers, soil to space.

An illustration: the holidays are basically when my collection gets notably expanded, because I ask for books. Topics of the 2021 holidays include but are not limited to the Old Kingdom Egypt Pyramid Texts, the use of specific (author-selected) colours in art, an overview of 7000 years of worldwide jewelry, and the sociocultural and political history of the potato outside of the Americas.

The more you take in, the more you can send out.

04. Read outside your own experience.

Go beyond your own country, your own ethnicity; go beyond the modern era. The world’s a big place, it’s always been a big place. Check it out.

05. You don’t need to own it to read it.

In these benighted pandemic times, it can be tricky, it’s true. Nonetheless, a library is your best friend if you have access to one — wander the stacks, see what catches your eye. You might be surprised. Interlibrary catalogues and loans can bring sources to your fingertips that your local library doesn’t have. Many library systems are also online, now, so you can at least browse the catalogue from home (and often arrange book pickups).

If you have access to — or can have a sit-down in even if you aren’t registered (pandemic situation allowing) — a college or university library, these are also excellent sources of often very specific books. I’ve chased down my own copies of texts I used to read to death from my university library.

And that’s basically it.

Yes, yes, I haven’t said what to do with it all — that part I can’t help you with beyond “enough stuff in your head means inspiration to make your own stuff”. (I did say that analyzing any of my creative impulses is a foreign country for me.)

But seriously, this is my advice.

Reading up on all the cool stuff that has existed prompts me along. Maybe it will for you too.

Dicember 2021 – huge

Something I poke at on occasion is oversized (“dire”, “grand”, etc) weapons.

Because yes, sometimes I just want to play Cloud for a while, and I’m not even sorry.

So how to go about it with most of the games I’ve been poking at lately? (Exalted, of course, has this answer baked in already, so it can doodle in the corner over there for a while.) What needs to be covered to fit a sword that’s more like a sharpened steel ironing board into a game?

The way I see it, you need:

– the ironing-board-sized sword (or whatever)
– how its going to be wielded
– what it’s going to do
– what other results/effects

Now, the last thing I want is anything complicated, and while I could just try to bolt on Exalted’s reasoning, it’s fairly intrinsic to Exalts-as-existing-in-universe so that could get a little weird just about anywhere else. (but hold that thought for another time. lol.) I want something fairly simple, so I can apply it to OSE or Black Hack or Wandering Jewel Moons or whatever; sort of like my scratch rules for adding mecha.

So, I think I’ll tinker around with the following.

– A “grand” weapon adds a die of the appropriate type to its damage. Big chopper based on a standard sword in OSE? 2d8. This does still have a low end, but even slabs of metal can just graze.

– You cannot deal subdual damage with a “grand” weapon. (come on, now.)

So how to introduce these? Maybe

– If your system has any kind of class or other abilities, make “Grand Weapon Wielder” an optional choice. Replace one of the Warrior abilities in TBH; make it a selectable Trait in Wandering Jewel Moons; add it to the list of OSE Fighter combat options from Carrion Crawler #1 or let it replace a feature from the Cavalier or Paladin. You get the idea.

But what if your Fighter is a basic Fighter type, with no extras? Or if you don’t want someone to pay for the ability mechanically in quite that way?

– Then I suppose you can say a Strength/Body/whatever minimum is needed; say 17-18 on the usual 3d6 possibility. Maybe 16-18 or even 15, you want PCs to be able to do this or why put it in there as an option?

Yes, it’s a lot of damage. Yes, that’s the entire point.

What these behemoths will do, though, even if their wielder knows what they’re doing, is get in the way the rest of the time. Even if you can and know how to carry the thing, that slab is big, awkward, and intractible.

Which means they eat up encumbrance like a mofo.

Play a game with equipment/encumbrance slots? A Grand weapon eats at least two. Probably three. Definitely twice a normal weapon of its type, for sure.

Track encumbrance by weight? The thing weighs a shitton. This will vary by actual weapon of course, but come on now, the Buster Sword is surely easily comparable to a pile of armour in weight at the very least.

And if you want to be devilish, say if Grand weapons are enchanted (if they are enchanted at all) they have a high chance of being sentient if not sapient. And willful. Lol.

slouching towards the apocalypse

Or, more precisely, towards making at least an intro post for that setting idea I have.

I’ll have to make other subsequent posts, to flesh out the idea some — what characters might deal with, where they might come from — and things may mutate from the very first post a little along the way, but that’s okie. This is kind of an experiment anyway.

I’ll be tagging all relevant posts with “emberlight”.

Let’s bring a bit of hope back to a withered world or die trying, shall we?

To setting or not to setting …

Or to system or not to system … That is the question, two questions in fact, when I have a notion rattling around in my head but not quite firming up quite yet —

There is an idea; it is most certainly a setting concept. I have my “pitch”, for lack of a better phrasing (lol), which would set the tone and also the thrust of, if not everything that a PC or several PCs would be doing, then certainly the flavour that would be overlaying what they did do a good deal of the time. But maybe “overlaying” would be a better plan in general? Instead of spinning out a whole new continent or part-of-continent again (though I do love making places), create a thing that could — at least in theory — be overlain over an existing location/setting/concept.

It’s a thought; a rather tempting thought. I could make up tables (tables ~!) to go with the broad strokes. Maaaaybe even a small community just as a jump-point, more easily insertable into an existing world.

But, oh, system. Wretched system.

Continue stubbornly pecking along using pocketrpg? Use Black Hack, or OSE, or Cairn, or another? (not Troika.) Give vague notations, hopefully easily parsed to a system of choice? Write up a new bespoke system, whether inspired by another or no? Or systemless, sort of like City Of Chains, which at the moment I think just might work.

I’d still need to decide just what I was making though, and I don’t think I’m quite there yet. Things are still percolating and firming up as the concept, and — just as important — I’m coming off a very rough spring and a miserable late spring, just in time to hit the start of summer and already breaking out in heat welts and tiny blood blisters for my pains. So things will probably still be slow, if they do start.

Maybe, if I get started, I could post it all on here. Maybe in chunks as I go; serialized setting bit-lets?

I haven’t forgotten my planar project, but I did burn out badly on it which is probably part the project itself (I need to dial back the sample planes to a drabble of words per plane, I think) and the lion’s share the above mess of the last few months. I have that other pocketmod of setting I’d like to revisit, also. And just write some more tables, and bits from prompts, and whatever else.

If I make it through the summer. Blegh.

why did I write an rpg: some navel-gazing

At some point over the weekend — said weekend was cold, raining, and generally gross, which made work a grind and my brain search for distraction but fail to have energy to do much constructively — I had a somewhat incoherent train of thought that went basically like this over a day and a half or so:

“There are other setting ideas kind of rattling around aside from the plane-hopping one, and hell I’m practically admitting that the plane-shopping supplement is also basically a setting; should I post up somewhere a ‘generic’ version of the rules I use for my pocketrpg?”

->

“If I posted up a generic version of the rules somewhere, wouldn’t it make sense to add a ‘feel free to use these to make stuff’ note or something along those lines in case someone would like it?”

->

“An ‘SRD’ or a make-stuff note is kind of extraneous isn’t it, there’s piles of games that people would rather use/would get more out of/already tinker with and oh gawd the brainweasels are closing in”

->

“But doing a Whole Thing every time I might want to post another minisetting or whatever also kind of feels presumptuous? Or ridiculous? Or something?”

->

“Oh gawd I need this weekend to be over, I can tell I’m doing terrible things to myself here”

… and from there (by this point I was trundling around on Sunday evening), I wisely chose to divert myself away by indulging in the recording of the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade and hauling several comforting textbooks on dynastic Egypt to work, which did help. It also had me ruminating on a different-but-related topic by the time last night rolled around:

Why did I write an rpg/these rpgs/these rules?

I mean, the first answer is also the simplest: because I wanted to. All of the various iterations have boiled down to “because I wanted to”; so will the ideas I’m still nibbling away at, because this is a hobby for me and I like to create, and rpg things are one of the things I like to create.

The actual path for this pocketrpg thing went basically like this:

-Two summers ago(ish) I was at work and had a moment of “I wonder if I can fit a tiny system+enough flavour for an implied setting into a pocketmod?”, and proceeded to peck at the notion for a bit. Nine Black Jewel Moons was the result, which I then promptly also reskinned into a cyberpunk-with-psionics version (Neon Burning Skies) because why not. A few folks liked this, which was reassuring.

-Not leaving well enough alone, I made a companion pocketmod for NBJM with some magic items and more setting snips and a few ideas for rules additions. (originally I was also going to do a companion for NBS and I still have the scribbles, but to this day it’s never actually materialized …)

-About the first time it looked like Fantasy Flight was about to kill off L5R *bitter laughter* I tried my first take on “here is a different type of setting, please see NBJM for the rules” and wrote Steel Blossom Dreams, my little pocketmod take on what I got after shaking my fist at a lot of L5R’s … L5R-ness and hauling textbooks to work. (said books are probably why SBD owes as much or more to Heian as to later eras.) At the same time, I was experimenting with a setting-with-map-in-a-pocketmod, and in the end tried to sort of thread the needle to make Six Swords Rising usable with or without SBD, though the two were (tenuously) connected.

(I am tempted to give SSR an overhaul and expansion, and maybe a different map, and probably lean even harder into being a fantasy setting not meant to emulate any specific thing, I freely admit. it would also make borrowing over the one thing I kept-ish from L5R, descriptive clan/family/whatever-you-like-in-your-setting names, both much easier and far less fraught.)

(… I also just really like pocketmods >.>;;)

-Hilariously, expanding past pocketmod-size was entirely prompted by my being thoroughly annoyed by several years’ development in a completely different arena — the Fire Emblem srpg franchise — and throwing up my hands and yelling fine I’ll make my own, then! … And then I did, if by “made my own” I mean “emulated the tropes common to FE characters with traits and equipment and then wrote another small setting from scratch while including a few nods to FE plot tropes here and there”. I’d use my mini rules (+ the companion bits) as a base and expand a tiny wee bit, and add a wee gazetteer, etc. And so, Lost Emblem Saga. Which also had a few folks like it, which was also reassuring.

Equally hilariously is this is where I actually started calling these things my “pocketrpg” because — this is 100% true — since what I wanted to do would never fit on one sheet, I would make something that once printed out, would be the size of the quarter-page handmade notebooks I make. Which conveniently fit snugly in the back pocket of my work pants.

Yes these are literally pocketrpgs and I am not even sorry.

*ahem*

-Some time shortly after LES, I started thinking I’d like to use its expanded rules (I’d elaborated on magic a little, among other bits), originally from NBJM/Jewel Moons, to actually expand out Jewel Moons itself into a similar pocketrpg. This was not so much prompted as a sort of “I think I’d like to do that …” and then I started tinkering. Oops?

What eventually because Wandering Jewel Moons took a lot longer to pull together, but there were more hurdles (even more pandemic brain; other ideas, like what became Wilusa, City Of Chains, itself spinning from my first ideas of the “mini-not!Planescape”; etc) to get past to do it. But I did. And a few folks like that also.

This is a lot of rambling to basically still say, at the end, I did it because I wanted to …

There are and were other games I’ve done. The Blue Lotus Hack (which is out there on the interwebs) is a flavour tweaking of The Black Hack 1e with a setting/bestiary/magic items selection attached, and I also used TBH 1e for a conversion of Final Fantasy (yes, the original; no, this one’s not out there on the interwebs) including the whole bestiary. Some day I might finish the “space hack”; sometimes I muse on seeing if I can switch it over to pocketrpg or pull what system it has out altogether.

But, it was nice to make a little game framework of my own? Even if, in my personal opinion, there are plenty of folks who do much better — and yes I can name quite a few without batting an eyelash — I wanted to make it, and it made me happy, and I can use it to be that framework for other things I write. I just need to keep taking a newspaper to the brainweasels over it.

I still want to make more things for the pocketrpg (which if I ever do pull up my britches and post a generic version, for folks to use or otherwise, probably needs some kind of name). I need to also keep on telling myself that that’s fine. This is a hobby, after all. I like to make things, and I like to make little notes about little worlds.

This has been a lot of babbling and if you’ve made it this far, congrats *lol* There’s no grand conclusion, alas, not to the babbling and not to the questions that kicked it all off. But sometimes, it’s like that –?

projects in the hopper currently

It seems to me that a(nother) brief ramble on the things I’m actively working on/planning/contending with wouldn’t hurt anything so here we go, in no particular order:

  • Nine Black Jewel Moons 2.0, or the expanded version, or however you want to look at it *lol* — this will be much like Lost Emblem Saga (which evolved from Jewel Moons 1.0!) and will be easily smooshed with it. It’s probably getting a mostly-different title since in the creating of an actual place/defining some things, I accidentally(?) another mini-setting. There’s also going to be wee note to the effect that yes, using the setting without the “new stuff bubbling out of primordial chaos” is actually doable and by all means feel free to just use the “stable” part of the setting as-is.
  • A brief zine with a system for dimension/planewalking, and some planes and worlds to go with it (with a gribbly hook or two each, I hope). This will ostensibly be running off the tinyrpg skeleton but since that’s ability tests at its core it’s basically compatible with a sea of OSR/NSR/sworddream/etc stuff out there. I just want my own tiny not!Planescape and I ain’t even sorry
  • Another brief zine-y thing that makes up a fantasy/fantastical city, which will probably be some establishing paragraphs and then a pile of random tables because I have some ideas there. If I can get more than ideas and actually do something, it might get submitted to Arr Roo’s City Jam, but *stares dead-eyed into the calendar* It may also link into the planar thing above; see Planescape and also who doesn’t like weird city-existences?
  • I kind of want to make a little collection of tables for quirks/appearance/location ideas/something-something? I liked the idea of the stuff in Knave and Maze Rats but I dooooon’t really want to use those atm, and also the themes didn’t really gel with what I do in places. Since I like making little tables when I can, why not boil them down some and then put them together?
  • At some point I need to collect up and dust off and format together all the little bits I wrote for RPGaDay like I said I would >.>;;

pondering on the Two Lands and rpgs and projects

I keep wandering back — even while I’m still moving at a snail’s pace on Jewel Moons 2.0 and the “planar” idea for a wee supplement-type and am now debating some swords as well as some random tables of setting-dressing-ness again — to the idea of an rpg (setting?) based properly (“properly”) on pharonic Egypt. Or I should say, wandering back again …

By “properly”, I mean something that while not strictly historical (because you don’t get magic and actually traveling to the underworld etc in a strictly historical setting version), bears a hell of a lot more resemblance to how things actually were/were perceived in Egypt than killer mummies and stupid curses and camels roaming around in 1500 BCE and etc etc.

It’s an idea I keep going back to again and again and not actually doing anything with. Which is annoying. (and when I say I keep going back, I mean my first effort was a never-submitted article to Dragon Magazine that I was working on, that was for character kits. yes, this was for 2e AD&D. I’ve been beating this dead horse in my head for a loooooong time.)

Earlier this year I mostly battened on a lens for PCs that might, well, actually make a reason for adventure; this both kicked up my thoughts on the notion more actively for the first time in ages and also brought a whole heaping helping of frustration to roost because, frankly, fuck 2020 with a rusty chainsaw.

Still, the idea knocks around in my head and wakes up and goes “hi :3” every time I pull a textbook off the shelf.

Another source of dithering all over the map is the subject of just what to use/what I could use/etc etc as a skeleton. TBH? I’ve considered Troika, although while I could do a nice pile of backgrounds I swing back and forth on whether the background pile will help illuminate the setting, or constrict player options. I occasionally consider the tinyrpg skeleton I put together, and then I run backing into the night at the idea (as is my way). Troika is currently in the lead by a smidge?

So this is basically a lot of rambling saying not much of any real use but. Oops?

(Jewel Moons, etc, is still happening. just slowly. there are many things that are making a bad year continue to be a bad year and I am Slow on my best days anyway)

(also, let me end by noting that I still absolutely bloody loathe WordPress’ new setup and this was as “easy” to post how I wanted as nailing jelly to a tree)

*flips table*

Fuck WordPress and this ~new editor~ right in the ear.

Fucking blocks and forcing them on everything and forcing maddening double-spacing everywhere and taking my goddamn option to post just using basic html away.

This just might be enough to make me ditch a blog again. We’ll see.

potential plans and other such nonsense

A post with no actual useful content. I feel like I should hide under the floorboards >.>;; But at least it’s about what I’d like to do re: content, so there’s that — or things I’m contemplating, and things that could stand to be shuffled off the back burner at some point if only I could stop being tired.

No particular order …

* Get back to the spacehack, because it mostly just needs some new equipment/toys and maybe a handful of example treasures/trinkets/whatevers and then I could try to flog it into working shape? Maybe attach a sample mini-setting or starter area? It’s written to go with BLH/TBH 1e but is probably system-agnostic enough to bolt onto other things by dint of that alone?

* Try that “write a campaign start in five weeks” workbook and see what I get. Not necessarily the spacehack (though see above), I might have a vague inkling of something else already.

* Maybe think a bit more on an admittedly flip notion of making a pocketmod of critters/spells/treasures/prodigies etc for each colour of the rainbow, and then reassembling them in the end into a single larger (quarter-page? I like quarter-pages I think) zine afterwards.

* I could probably stand to start writing random notions and ideas in a notebook again …

* Make the bloody pocketmod companion for Neon Burning Skies, already, damnit.

* Slay the goddamn brainweasels that keep trying to gnaw my face off for tinkerings not being unique enough or brutal enough or insightful enough or whatever-else enough. *sighs*

There’s probably other things — and I’ve really wanted to just write some more trinkets and enchantments and spells etc (maybe themed critter groups?) but omfg the entire world right now I swear —

(╯°□°)╯[THE UNIVERSE]