Key Our Cars What are you going to do next?!


IT Stuff – 

Posted by Dennis

Because this was such a PITA trying to resolve and nowhere on the internetz did I find the answer I'm putting it here for Google to spider and offer up in search engines.

I have the unfortunate task of one of my many duties is managing file/print servers in 7 countries for our companies.

I've run into a few instances where systems get a 'Unable to connect" Error 0x0000007e when trying to add a print queue to desktops.  Since I'm stuck with the print servers this becomes my problem.   Some clients work fine.  Some don't.  Some used to work, now they don't.  Some didn't, now they do.  One queue has the problem (sporadically) but another queue with the exact same printer driver/model doesn't.   The problem is pretty erratic and not repeatable or consistent.

Well I've finally figured out what the cause is.  In the registry for those printer entries on the print server there's a key for CopyFiles just for a BIDI dll aka BiDirectional printing.  This key on the 'broken' printers referenced a file or location that didn't exist.  The file is completely unecessary.  When some clients try to attach, they get the normal driver installation but then this copyfile key kicks in and breaks the connection.

Just delete the damn CopyFile key and its sub keys and you'll have resolved the problem.

Maybe this will save someone else some 'The web server is down' pain in the assedness.

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An interesting read – 

Posted by Dennis

Embedded Link

138 Years of Economic History Show that It’s Excessive PRIVATE Debt Which Causes Depressions - Washington's Blog
Too Much Government Debt Hurts the Economy … But Too Much Private Debt KILLS It. Preface: We like to debunk myths held by both the left and the right. For example, we have repeatedly argued that gover...

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I thought this was funny in a interesting kind of way

Posted by Dennis

Or interesting in a funny kind of way....

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Normalcy Bias

Posted by Dennis

(I love this phrase for some reason).  Definition provided by Wikipedia -

The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation

Embedded Link

Normalcy bias - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effe...

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Posted by Dennis

Blizzard / got haxx0rd.  You may wish to consider changing your details and if you use the email / password / security questions on any other sites, especially ones that could cost you money you may want to go and change those elsewhere too.

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Critical Thinking

Posted by Dennis

As a strong proponent of "Think for yourself." and "Question everything." this is... appalling.

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

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Skepticblog » It’s official: Texas GOP bans critical thinking

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Posted by Dennis

I feel the need to compliment / brag on my wife.  We went through the course for a conceal carry permit in our state and there is a shooting portion, not a test, just a demonstration that you know how to safely handle a gun and can put 50 rounds down range.

Anyway she was easily in the top 25% in terms of accuracy.  Do note that the targets were sideways so that people would be 'encouraged' to aim high and not hit the floor...

Also note that about halfway through the 50 shots she adjusted her aim because the first half were grouping around the 9 so she basically has two groups going here, one around the 9 and one around X so it's even better than it looks like at first glance.

Edit:  She's not a 'gun person', has shot maybe 300 center fire rounds through various pistols and didn't grow up with guns.  So that's why I feel a little proud of her for this.  I'm at least an okay teacher or she's a natural. 🙂

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Posted by Dennis

Little Fears meet Don't Rest Your Head

Warning:  This is not a fluffy fairy tale setting and has some fairly dark elements to it.  If such things distress you then skip this post.

I've decided I'm going to hook my Don't Rest Your Head story/world into the Little Fears sessions I'm working on.  The players really enjoyed the DRYH system, setting and sessions.

I see kids in general as being partially Awake (DRYH term) and thus able to see where the Mad City leaks into the Sleeping City.   There are rules set up by the Administration that prevents children from entering the doors of their own free will.   "You must be this high to ride this ride." after all.

But there's nothing preventing them from being taken through those doors by those that call the Mad City home.   Any PC that gets taken through such a door will be typically be removed from game play. They become Milk Carton Kids as they're known in the Mad City.

A prime example is Mother Not who sends the Little Sisters into the city of sleepers when her rank and file are thinned out too much from her machinations against the Accountant and the Wax King.

But the sessions will primarily deal with the heroes as kids who prevail against that darkness armed with their wits, naivete and Belief and insure that the light shines into the deepest shadows, at least for a time.  Because unless it's replenished, even the brightest light fades in time and the shadows come creeping back.

But when fighting the darkness, even when you win, you can still lose.

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Posted by Dennis

Back to my more normal subject matter.  Working on a LIttle Fears series of scenes.  If you didn't know, Little Fears is played from a child's perspective.  The PC's are children from 6 to 12.  Younger childern have more Belief which allows for things beyond the ordinary.  Older children of course are stronger and more educated and run faster when the monsters under the bed come out to play.  It's a world where those monsters are very real and only the efforts of the children keep them in check.

The setting will be in the 1950's in some midwest state TBD.  Our opening scene will be a group of kids on a bus traveling through the cornfields of said midwest town when their 18th rendition of 99 bottles of beer on a wall is interrupted...

A quick envisioning of the opening scene -


"Could you all be quiet for five minutes!?" the driver roared turning around in his seat to yell back down the bus.

".. pass it arou...", the echoes of their song faded out as all the children sat bolt upright, staring at each other and then Miss Taylor at the fornt of the bus.

"Okay children let's have quiet time for a bit.  I know, Mary Alice could you and Peter go to the back and start passing out the sack lunches?"

Nancy Taylor waited until things looked under control and then moved up to sit behind Hank.

"Something wrong Hank?" she asked.  The driver was a fixture at the Brown's Home and had worked there for decades functioning as janitor, mechanic, bus driver and general purpose handyman.

"Shi... shoot, sorry miss.  Didn't mean to shout like that. Getting a bit worrisome about our gas situation.  Been driving for quite a spell now through  and aint been no sign of another road or a sign or nothing.  I guess maybe I got turned around or something cause we should have reach Brinston by now." Hank's voice was tense and his head constantly turned from side to side trying to spot anything but the road and the infinite seeming corn fields.

Nancy checked her watch and was shocked to see it was almost eight.  She'd been too wrapped up in keeping the kids entertained to notice the passage of time.  They were two hours overdue at the summer camp.

The summer sun was turning the west a rosy red and gave the yellow corn a sinister tint as she looked around.  The tall stalks rustled in the evening breezes, swaying in waves and ripples like some vast ocean.

The bus jerked and she grabbed for the hand rail in front of her.  It smoothed out for a second and then with a series of jerks and sputters the sounds of the old engine died away leaving just the whine of the wheels and the hiss of the leaves outside.

The children erupted in questions and she stood and turned to face them, "Children please!   Be still!  Mark!  Sit down!  Peter, get back to your seat!  If you just have to talk, keep it quiet!"

The children settled back down but their whispering voices rose up above the high backed orange vinyl seats.

"Ahh!" Hank swore as he fought with the unpowered bus, bringing it to a shaking halt just off the road.

"What's wrong?" she asked.  Billows of dust came in through the open windows, bringing the hot scent of summer with it.

Hank was tapping on a gauge on the panel and muttering under his breath.  He pressed the starter button and under the hood something whirred and ground but without any effect.  He turned, shaking his head.  "Sorry miss, feels like we done run outta gas although the gauge is showin' we got more'n a quarter tank left. But that surely be what it feels like. I'll go give it a look see."

As the light dimmed outside, Nancy spotted another light in the distance ahead and some distance to the left.  She traced a line from the distant light back to the highway. "Up there, is that a side road? And over there, that could be a house light."

Hank squinted, shading his eyes against the setting sun.  "Ayup, looks like.  Maybe have a phone up that way or have some gas."  He sighed, rising slowly from his seat.  "I spect I'd best get heading up that way."

Nancy started shaking her head, pictures of the older man who on a good day was just able to hobble around running through her head.  He'd served in both wars and hadn't come out unscathed from either one.

"No, no, you stay here, maybe you can take a look at the engine see if you can find out what's going on.  I don't know anything about mechanical stuff but I do know how to walk."  She smiled prettily, "Besides they may be more inclined to offer me aid than you."

Hank frowned, he didn't like the idea of her heading off alone with nightfall coming on but an entire day of driving had his shrapnel torn hip making itself known in no small measure.  He protested but let her persuade him to let her go. And she had a point, the engine did need looking at.

Of the two flashlights in the storage tray under his seat he gave her the brighter one, taking the dim one for his own use.  He could leave the parking lights on to keep it from getting too dark for awhile.

"Peter, I'm putting you and Mary Alice in charge while I'm gone.  I need you to stay put, stay out of trouble and not give Mr. Givens any problems.  I'm going to up to that house over there and ask for help."

A little girl in a pink sun dress raised her hand in the fourth row, "What is Katie?"

The girl, all of seven, with medium length brown hair in a pony tail bashfully kept her head down as she said in a quiet voice, "I need to go to the bathroom Miss Taylor."  Murmurs of agreement rose up around the shadowed interior of the bus.

Nancy sighed, actually she was surprised it hadn't rose before now. "Hank, could you escort the boys in twos over on that side of the bus, don't go far into the fields!  Okay girls, who needs to go?  Okay Lacey, and Katie, you first, come with me."

It took most of half an hour to get everyone out and back but eventually she was ready to head out. She flicked on the flashlight, its bright beam cutting through the darkness.  The highway was covered with a thin layer of dust and as it rose with her passing she realized they hadn't seen any other cars in hours.  "Hank really must have gotten us lost." she thought.

The sounds of crickets and locusts filled the night air as Hank raised the hood.  The engine ticked at him, still giving off a little heat.  He glanced down the dark road.  Miss Taylor's white dress and the cone of the flashlight was visible in the dusky light until she reached the turn off and disappeared from view.

He checked the plugs and wires, the hoses and belts, frowning in concentration the whole while.  "Son of a b...." he swore as he accidentally touched the hot exhaust manifold.

He paused, cocked his head.  There was something... there it was again.  A woman's voice calling for help.  He stepped back from the bus and stood still.  There it was again.  From the fields to the west.  It sounded like Taylor.   He cursed,"Well crap now what?"

Climbing back into the bus he grabbed the long tire iron he kept in the row behind his chair along with his other tools.  "You kids stay put ya hear me?!  Don't you leave this bus till me or Missus Taylor gets back understand!"

In silence the kids watched him disappear into the dark depths of the corn fields.  The buses lights formed a sea of light around it and beyond those waters lay darkness.

It would be the last time the children saw either adult...

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Posted by Dennis

Working my way through Little Fears - Nightmare Edition and the character building process myself so I can be somewhat proficient with the players when it's their turn.

In the end we have Franklin.   A happy in spite of himself boy of 9 but with some issues.


Making a sample character to get familiar with the process but you get to play along at home...

Concept:  Franklin is a big kid, grew fast and quickly.  As a result other kids are a little wary of him or want to be his friend. He's physically active and participates in several sports. Just don't ask him to run fast but eventually he'll get there.

My Name is Franklin.  I am a 9 year old boy.  My Birthday is June 1st.
_[The basic information, age ranges from 6 to 12 the younger you are the more Belief you can wield, the older you are the more developed your abilities are]_

My Abilities -
[You get your age in points to  spend on the 5 abilities]

Move +1
Fight +4
Think +1
Speak +1
Care +2

My Good And Bad Traits -
[The bad trait is a situation that you suck at when you use your best ability and the good trait is a situation you excel at when you use a low ability.  In this case Franklin, normally a good fighter, has a hard time fighting things smaller than him.  On the flip side although he's normally more than a bit clumsy when it comes time to run away from something he's balls to the wall.]

Bad Trait - Its hard for me to Fight when they're smaller than me. -3

Good Trait - I can Move fast when I'm getting chased. +3

Belief 4
[Belief is 13 - age.  The older you are the less Belief you can bring to bear.  Belief is what turns a stick into a warhammer, a stream into an obstacle for a vampire, or helps a friend make that 20' jump from the rooftop to get away from the Living Doll]

Wits 6     Scared XXXX | X0000 Calm
[Wits is Think + 4.  As you lose your wits you shift from Calm to Scared.  When your scared you lose abilitiies such as 'Too scared to think straight' , 'Too scared to move']

Spirit 10  Dark XXXXX | XXXXX Light
[Every kid starts with a full bar of spirit.  As you lose spirit you turn to the dark side. This impacts your abilities in a set order and cost you dice when you use those abilities]

Positive Qualities
[These are the knacks, signature moves, traits, talents and skills each character has.  Each has a rating which is the number of dice you get to add to your roll when that quality applies to the situation. You get a Main Quality and two support qualities and then can add one or two more to flesh the character out.  If you add one it's at +2, if you add two they're at +1]

Main Quality - I'm the biggest kid in class +2
Associated 1 - I'm really tall. +3
Associated 2 - I'm a little scary looking +3

Misc Quality 1 - I never back down from a fight +1
Misc Quality 2  - I kick ass at Call of Duty +1

Negative Qualities
[These are the knacks, signature moves, traits, talents and skills each character has going against them.  Each has a rating which is the number of dice you have to subtract when that quality applies to the situation. You get a Main Quality and two support qualities and then can add one or two more to flesh the character out.]

Main Quality - I'm clumsy -2
Associated 1 - I have a hard time talking to girls -1
Associated 2 - I get nervous in crowds - 1

Health - 7
[Equal to either Fight +4 or Care + 4, players option. You get this many spots in your bar for each condition. So Franklin essential has 28 hit points before he dies. As you reach each condition you suffer a modifier to your dice rolls of 0, -2 -4. -6]

Damage Tracker
I feel fine XXXXXXX
I feel sore XXXXXXX  -2
I feel hurt XXXXXXX  -4
I feel cold XXXXXXX -6
I don't feel anything anymore....

My Stuff
[These are the talismans, tokens of faith and articles of value to the child.  Stuff has abilities beyond the normal when powered by Belief...  You get Stuff equal to your Belief, so a younger child with more Belief has more powerful Stuff.  Franklin only has 3 Belief so he can have 4 dice in Stuff]

Captain Awesome Ring
Anything hit with the Awesome power of the Captain will feel it for sure.     Damage +1
Lucky Rabbits Foot
Monsters have a hard time getting a solid hit on me through lucky breaks Damage -1
Saint Christopher's Medal
Always lights the way home 1
GIves off a yellow glow when there are monsters around1

Background -
[standard let's make the character come alive for the player stuff]

My Best Friend is...
Mary Sue from down the girl's side, she's the only girl I can really talk to.

The one grown up I can trust is...
Mr. Nichols the school librarian.

Once I Lost...
A pen knife

It was special because...
It was sharp enough to cut moonlight.

The one place monsters can't get me....
The library

The one thing that monsters cant touch is...
My tennis shoes

I don't go near....
The widow Jenkin's place
She's evil and eats rats.

My biggest fear is...
Getting trapped in a carpet.

The thing I like least about myself...
I cry sometimes at night.

The thing that always gets me into trouble...
I don't back down.

When I get scared, I....
get violent.

Family -

I live in with my dad after mom left.  The house is big with too many places to hide and it's scary.  My dad spends most of his time doing his accounting stuff for his clients.  Doesn't have a lot of time for me but that's okay.  I do just fine on my own, just fine...

Goals -
[What your character is trying achieve short and long term]

Short Term - I want to help my dad out so he doesn't have to work so much

Long Term - I want to find my mom and get her back.

My Secret -

For the GM only....

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Posted by Dennis

So... not being a fan of the ORE system [One Role Engine] because I find the math and probablities behind the system to be sketchy I'm going with Little Fears - Nightmare Edition over Monsters and Other Childish Things.

And the setting works better for me conceptually.  I'd rather have the protagonists fighting monsters than teaming up with them.

I'll probably fall flavor wise more toward the original or the anniversary edition though, dark horror versus dark fantasy.

I've decided that each time I run something it's going to be a different system than I've used before.   I was leaning toward HEX aka Hollow Earth eXpedition because I do like me some pulp.  Day After Ragnarok - Savage Worlds edition is also a personal favorite for settings.

Too many systems and not enough time sadly.

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Posted by Dennis

I for one would like to pledge my allegiance to our Skynet overlords and offer myself as an overseer in their sugar data mines.

Embedded Link

Google scientists find evidence of machine learning
A neural network created by connecting 16,000 computer processors appears to support biologists' theories on how the human brain identifies objects. Hint: It's all about the cats. Read this blog post ...

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Posted by Dennis

Rats leaving a sinking ship?   Leaving two steps ahead of the enforcers?  Coincidence?  They all have their golden tickets on the arks (2012 the movie reference if you haven't seen it)?

Sorry it's a facebook link.  I had to make a dummy facebook account to join a specific local group that's not on G+ so I can view it.  Not sure if you don't have an account if you can.

Embedded Link

Global Mass Resignations (list) - The List | Facebook
Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, post...

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Zombie Apocalypse

Posted by Dennis

Have you followed through on all your plans for the zompoc?

Embedded Link

Zombie Apocalypse Begins In Florida
That man eating another man's face was only the end of an escalation. Based on completely scientific evidence, we are all going to die. Hope everyone finalized their zombie survival plan.

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Posted by Dennis

After playing in and designing systems that encourage player empowerment (Gamma World 4e is a popular commercial example and my own Hell Wards) this particular passage from a recent purchase is something that I find to be flaw that's been handed down since the early days -

To paraphrase so there's no copyright issues -

Step One: Player reacts to the scene. .
Step Two: Narrator picks the best way to accomplish that reaction
Step Three: Narrator decides how hard it is.
Step Four: Player generates a random number.
Step Five: Player computes the final random number.
Step Six: Player checks if they beat the hardness factor.
Step Seven: Narrator describes the outcome.

Or as I see it, the player just gets to react to what coolness the narrator came up with, usually in a very limited way that hinges on the strict game mechanics and then does the math and then gets to sit back and hear what they actually did.
I think there's a lot of inertia out there in core rules as written that focuses too much on the players being primarily random number generators while the GM, Narrator, DM, Keeper etc are supposed to provide everything else.

And that inertia can be very subtle. With player's characters 'encouraged' to do certain things in certain ways or suffer a minor or major power loss as a result from some things as non-obvious as equipment lists with 'favored' weapons or powers that are hinged on using specific weapons.

Gamma World 4E was the first system that I played that had a significant step toward player empowerment. A player's weapons and gear was literally whatever they described it as. One players heavy melee might be a stop sign on a iron pole, another might be wielding two sharpened screwdrivers as a light melee, a ranged weapon might be an electric motor that fired frisbee's with razor blades glued to their rim. But regardless of the how the player described it, they were just as effective as the next person in that role. Their garbage can heavy armour combined with a broken beer bottle was just as good as the guy wearing the old museum relic plate armour armed with a Damascus short sword

But it still encouraged the GM to do all the narration.

And then I played Don't Rest Your Head where the Players are encouraged to use their creativity in describing the effects of their powers and what happens. And it took some time for the players to get that, I had to frequently say, "I don't know, you tell me." when they asked what happened when they won a contest. But within a few contests they were whole-heartedly engaged in the mechanic.

Now I'm firmly of the camp that the players should have just as much if not more so input in the micro and macro of the gaming sessions. They should describe their gear in whatever cool ways they think fits rather than being locked into a set of gear. They should narrate their attempts and the results of their actions.

I know a lot of people kind of house rule systems to allow that to a great or lesser extent. And that's wonderful that they can see how to make the system so much better in that regard.

I just think the core rules of every game should encourage that as well. Rather than following what's come before and delegating the players to just reactionary random number generators that sit and listen as the GM regales them tales of their derring do.

Because that's such a missed opportunity. Once you've had a session where the players are both allowed to, encouraged and actively do join in the narration you really don't want to go back to the old days.

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Posted by Dennis

Session Recap

+David Warren continued his near future campaign for +Scott Stone +Laura Dollins +L. Scott Rubin and myself.

Our group was sent on a scouting mission after nukes went off in the middle east and dimensional jumpers were pouring into north korea.

We deployed through a dimensional portal, the 5 of us (Scott S. has two characters) and proceeded to search around.

We discovered a manufacturing area that we infiltrated and uncovered that it was making munitions.

We decided to hitch a ride on a flatbed that was leaving out loaded with ammo and bomb stuff. We figured it was heading toward the portal that was being used to ship it into our world.

Along the way we had some cool ideas, just too late to implement them. D'oh.

As we neared the city we then had the good idea to booby trap the ammunition such that we could either remote detonate it or if the detonation device failed to check in it would self detonate.

Our flatbed joined a stream of others and at this point we decided that perhaps this wasn't a great idea and we bailed out.

We tried to make it back to our portal stealthily but yeah well that didn't work too well and we got into a series of escalating fights as the alarm started spreading.

The final fight had the five of us facing 40 of the deamon caninoids.

Yeah, that didn't go as well as you can imagine. We're tough but not that tough.

With Hell Wards we ended up facing blocks of 5 and 10 bad guys who were ablaitive obstacles. We wiped out 20-25 of them but at what cost?

I'll tell you cost. My character Dr. Pierre LeBlanc was raked by multiple streams of gun fire as he tried to assist his fellow agents. But he managed to save at least one life, maybe more with his able bodied assistance and skills at eliminating the opposition.

At that point our super bikes finally managed to show up and unleashed a swarm of missiles on the remaining troops. Derrick triggered off our booby trap at some point in here causing massive chaos and confusion.

We, our I should say, everyone else took advantage of the confusion by the bomb blast. My corpse was loaded onto my super bike and put into follow mode.

We, the other agents and my corpse, escaped back to our own portal, encountering a tank along the way that we'd run into on the way in.

Our portal dilated open on schedule and we drove through. The other four agents were also beaten to hell, most had 1, maybe 2, life points left.

The good news is that the portal in Korea had closed.

One heck of a 'scouting mission' if you ask my corpse.

Stacey Kourik will soon be planted, I mean joining the group, and won't be spying on the possessed by energy worms with super psychic powers for her boss. Nope, no spying here.

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Posted by Dennis


All the negativity toward #dndnext is making me want to get in there and make it work somehow.

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DnD Next – First Look

Posted by Dennis

Looked through the playtest materials and so far, probably not something I'm going to spend money on. I have multiple old school rehash systems of 1st and 2nd edition DnD and this doesn't appear to bring much to the table.

From the GM perspective the monsters look to be very boring to use for the majority of them which while it may make them fit the old school style, still ends up boring to use.

Based on this small sampling, from a power/mechanics perspective, most of the fights are going back to the old school 'fllintsone boxing' where two characters simple roll d20's at each other until someone generates enough randomly determined damage to put the other guy down. Then the winner moves on to the next one.

It should in theory make for much quicker turns for everyone though given it greatly simplifies the 4E choices. So that's a benefit.

It also brings back systems I truly dislike like Vancian magic and influences of 'no healer, no adventure' and the 15 minute work day.

But in general I'm very meh so far on what I've seen. Maybe they'll wow me with more material but as I own every core edition since Basic and a big bunch of the various OSR style systems, I just can't see spending money on this one.

Your mileage may vary of course.

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Heroes Against Darkness

Posted by Dennis

Free RPG -

It's hard to argue with free. Very well done in terms of layout, graphics (so not a fan of the dirty paper under text though) and overall'ness of it.

At it's most broad overview you'll see a lot of old school dnd flavoring, the classic six attributes, the mostly standard races but it does start to divulge quite a bit after that point with unusual classes and abilities and magic system.

I haven't had a chance to do more than glance through it but did I mention it's free? Go download it.

Embedded Link

Heroes Against Darkness Version 1.0 Released!
Heroes Against Darkness Version 1.0 Released! Well, editing has taken several weeks longer than I anticipated but it's done now, so v1.0 of Heroes Against Darkness is released: The major changes a...

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RPG Gaming

Posted by Dennis

Session Recap

[Apologies in advance to anyone of French descent but my character uses his being of French descent as an excuse for everything good or bad.]

So we had another session of +David Warren's near future campaign. The system is the evolving Hell Wards system that I'm designing. A strong narrative, light tactical system.

After our encounter in LA we grouped back at home base. Last time saw us on a mission to LA where we picked up our target, plucking it from the hands of several deamon doglike creatures (I quite by accident setting the poor guy on fire at the same time that I doused one of the dogs with high proof booze and set it on fire but he survived so it's all good).

We learned of our organization's ability to create portals into other dimensions and we're dispatched to recon one such dimension. We're, the human race, facing not one but two threats, 'deamon dogs' which is just a handy tag for them but they're not necessarily demonic in the religious sense of the word, just very bad people. The other threat is more insidious and consists of energy like creatures that can invade and take control of the human mind. Here-after referred to as the demon worms.

We all had an experience with the demon worms after a 'ritual' went bad in a previous session. As the saying goes, sufficiently advanced technology seems like magic so we tend to use those types of terms to what we're seeing even if it's simply highly advanced math, theoretical physics and the like that's causing what we're seeing. Summonings, banishments, portals, possession and the like.

That possession and subsequent rituals to imprison (not banish mind you) the worms in our brains has left us somewhat immune to them although I just can't imagine having energy worms in your brains can possibly end well.

As a result we're now the 'go to guys and gals' for missions like "Hey we can open these portals but we're not sure what's on the other side, go look and report back.'

So we did, geared up in graphene carbon armor and riding smart bikes.

In a side note, by smart bikes we mean that, they're near AI level and an attempt by yours truly to bypass and isolate their self destruct systems if captured didn't go well. After the session was over and we were back at base, I used my level up to add Trait: Advanced Hacking and swapped some Gear dice around so I could add a 2 die virtual cyberdeck and assorted black ICE programs. I'm going to take this bike down, one way or another.

We poured through the portal, well Derrick ( +L. Scott Rubin ) going first and after we didn't hear any screams we followed. I am french after all, I prefer to lead from the back.

We found ourselves in some serious badlands on what may or may not have been an alternate Earth. We're not sure 100% yet on that. It did have one moon but the features were different and the gravity of the planet was slightly off. The atmo was also in different configurations but breathable although we didn't try it. We had about 8-12 hours of o2 in our suits from stored and recirculated systems.

Derrick, our droid/bot expert sent out a flock of spy drones of various shapes, fliers, crawlers, hoppers etc and we got energy traces from the north so we wheeled our bikes that way.

It was cold, right around 0C so when the storm hit we had a mix of rain, sleet and snow. We were forced to ride up on the sides and tops of the ravines to avoid flash flooding.

(Outside game time we spent quite a bit of time discussing all this.)

Eventually we came out of the bad lands and started scouting. We encountered several large tank like vehicles although they rolled along on spherical ridged wheels. Given their obvious armaments we elected to see where they'd come from, not where they were going.

We spotted, of all freakin' things, a castle ripped straight out of the middle ages. Going to investigate we discovered while it looked medieval it was obviously crafted to look that way by some rather advanced crafting mechanisms.

After Derrick's ever hand drones did recon, spotting what appeared to be a humanoid carrying an AK-74, Cortez (+Scott Stone ) slithered up the wall and checked things out in person. As the patrolling guard had moved on, the rest of us joined him.

As we gathered near the top the guard came back and we found out that Derrick's laser rifle used visible light so I stepped up using my 4mm hyper velocity suppressed pistols. Unfortunately I slipped on the ice as I was stitching him up one side and down the other and wrenched my knee.

Checking the guard out we found he appeared to be a Russian in features and clothing which matched the styling of the weapon although up close it only vaguely resembled an AK-74 but was in fact an advanced caseless hyper velocity weapon much like mine own.

Move on the slippery ice and snow covered ramparts we investigated a tower and found another man inside. Derrick sent in one of his tiny droids about the size of a large roach to spy on him and then we used that to distract him. I was going to open the door as the bug dropped on the guy inside and Derrick was going to laser him.

Unfortunately the door was frozen shut so I reared back and booted it. Much harder than necessary as it turned out and sprained my ankle in so doing it. [Yes, in HW just because you succeed at something doesn't mean you do it without potential injury.]

So the door practically shatters I hyper extend my leg and once again fall on my ass but at least Derrick has a clear shot and his red laser burns a hole through the guys head.

We investigate and I end up having to bribe the Director with a misfortune token so I could have downloaded Ukranian into my internal cyberware and were able to read portions of what the guy was reading on his desktop. Which was literally the to of his desk.

It was advanced high end math theory which indicated that this guy, stuck on guard duty in the snow and ice at night was quite possibly the equal of one of our better 'magicians' i.e. mathmaticians.

Well that didn't sit well. As we didn't have much skill in that area at all. We decided to clear out and report back. And plant a couple of small 10KT nukes we'd found in our smart cycles that were apparently a 'just in case' addition by HQ.

And then all hell broke loose. Two guys came in, to check possibly, who knows and Cioban, dual wielding sleek projectile pistols, suppressed of course. put rounds through both their heads, neat as a pin. but one of the bodies fell backwards and then down some steps, landing in front of (we didn't know it at the time) a big ol' tank.

A grenade burst through the window and we scattered, I rolled back out the way we'd come, Cortez and Cioban (+Laura Dollins ) dived out the other door with Cortez rolling left and over the outter wall (with a 50' drop) and hanging by his fingertips while Cioban when t flat. Derrick who was near where the grenade landed snatched it up in a move fast enough that would make Jack Burton raise an eyebrow and flipped it out the door. The explosion luckily was shielded from ripping Cortez and Cioban to pieces by the parapets.

And then it got worse.

Below us was one of the tank like things with turrets everywhere. One of our NPC's was stiched up by it and knocked down dying.

Discretion being the better part of valor we broke and ran. Not too successfully. In my attempt to rappel down the wall my grip came free and I fell 40' down onto rocks. Bones snapping in my leg (yes the one that had already taken a ass kicking) and opposite hand.

Derrick tried to grab Ginger and rappel down using his line and the tank fired a burst that cut the line as they were going over. They plummeted down to land next to me although luckily Ginger was able to absorb some of the damage of Derrick's fall. Not so luckily for her.

Cortez came down the wall like a ballerina on crack, sticking the landing without a hair out of place. And taking the time to plant a baby nuke in a crevice in the wall while doing so.

Cioban flipped over the side and made it to the bottom, although not in great style but quite serviceable.

We summoned our smart cycles and ran to meet them as grenades blew up the landscape around us.

Cioban and Derrick manhandled Ginger into her cycle and set it on follow and we roared out of there.

And ran into the first set of tanks coming back. Derrick triggered the vertical launch missiles on his and I assisted with a launch of my own.

But not quickly enough. The lead tank unleashed hell in the form of a phased plasma blast that when we could see again showed us a crater and parts of Ginger and her bike still falling.

We managed to break LOS on the tank which didn't have arching weapons and headed back to our portal location, getting there shortly before the next scheduled opening.

We zipped through, me in front naturally being French, to safety.

After healing and debriefing we met with the MIC rather than the AIC and as we were talking to him three mushroom clouds went up in the middle east.

Uh oh.

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