Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Musings as avoidance


Thoughts while I try to avoid thinking about the bad news that’s consuming me.

  • I just realized that putting an Affliction as the secondary effect on an Energy Drain (Or any damaging attack, really) gives you lingering effects for the attack. Like, the blood thinner on the sword makes them keep bleeding, or the vertigo (stunning) that just won’t go away.

    Might be an interesting way to treat lingering effects for some genres. (Trouble or a new Quality might be better.)

  • I just got BubbleGumshoe and I’m thinking about where and if you could blend it with ICONS, though maybe without a Quade diagram equivalent: silver age and before had a number of mystery books. Might be good for a Crisis-style arc or short-shot: they’re often structured around mysteries, like Heroes in Crisis or Identity Crisis.
  • Could you do a fifteen-minute podcast that’s just fleshing out adventure ideas? Get two or three people to talk, each episode someone brings a premise and they riff on it for fifteen or twenty minutes? Would that even be interesting? (Okay, it would be to me, but I suspect there already is one like that; I just don’t know about it.)

  • I know there’s something about teen heroes that isn’t served by Masks, but I haven’t been able to put it into words. Thoughts?
  • Why doesn’t Deadman find someone brain-dead and possess them permanently? (And then set about killing Rama Kushna, perhaps)

  • Do self-aware tulpas found religions? Do they lock up True Believers so they have assured existence?

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Unsquad


With Halloween around the corner, I wanted to do something a little odd but was out of inspiration on the whole monster thing. So here's a team of PCs I might use for some con thing or another and which try to get a bit of that Grant Morrison Doom Patrol flavour.

The Unsquad

Meet the Unsquad.

The leader of the Unsquad, Directory Wye, has brought together individuals with the promise of giving them control over their new selves and improvement. Each member joined for separate reasons:

  • Headache thinks he needs more control over his powers.
  • Gallowglass thinks she needs access to Headache and some way to control the Faery curse so that she can die on her own terms.
  • Rorrim wants to be freed of the malign spirit that makes her a succubus killer.
  • Rabbit Howl wants controlled contact with humanity.

Of course, none of them know much about Director Wye, who is in fact a union of spirits. Director Wye's ultimaet purpose can be good or sinister, as you wish.


Headache (Karl Young)
PRWCRDSTRINTAWRWIL Determination Stamina
  • Psychiatry (+1)
  • Stealth (+1)
  • Great (6) Mental Blast
    • Extra: Telekinesis
    • Extra: Telepathy Limit: Preparation
  • Detect (5) Psionic powers
    • Limit: Preparation
    • Extra: Detect (5) Metaphysical weirdness
  • It's science, baby.
  • Feels like he couldn't hack the big leagues
  • Needs family


  • A distruster of magic and cosmic weirdness.
  • A special distruster of people who claim they are relatives way back.
  • Protective of Emily, and oddly possessive of Rabbit Howl: when drunk, he considers the cryptid his ticket back to the big names of superhero-dom.


Gallowglass (not Headache) might be the token "normal" or average person. Just an immortal mercenary who has been cross-dressing as a man for so long she/he doesn't really remember what sex is preferred.

Gallowglass (Aubrey Young)
PRW CRD STR INT AWR WIL Determination Stamina
5 5 4 4 4 5 2 9
  • Military Master (+3)
  • Stealth (+1)
  • Leadership (+1)
  • Weapons (Blades) (+1)
  • Weapons (Guns) (+1)
  • Supreme (5) Immortality
  • Weak (1) Life Support (unaging)
  • Fair (4) Slashing (magic sword)
  • Fair (4) Gadgets
  • Immortal mercenary, cursed by Faery
  • Always has something handy
  • Has seen most everything: "This is just like the time..."


  • Though the Gadgets covers some improvisation and tinkering, it is mostly about whatever equipment Gallowglass brings along.
  • The choice of last names is not accidental: Her brother was Headache's great-to-the-fifteenth grandfather.
  • Has a secret that must be imparted to Headache, once he believes.
  • The sword always returns, even if it has been taken or destroyed, though the right magical restraints can keep it away. It never needs sharpening. Its magic nature might allow it to penetrate some magical defenses, but that hasn't been tested.
  • A mercenary in Joan of Arc's army, Aubrey pleased the Queen of the Faeries and received the sword as a gift. But then she angered the King of the Faeries, and received a curse that included everlasting life.


Rirrom (Emily Lime)
PRW CRD STR INT AWR WIL Dermination Stamina
6 4 3 5 3 5 2 8
  • Athletics (+1)
  • Supreme (10) Power Mimicry
    • Extra: Theft
    • Limit: Unstable; theft starts after failed roll, 1 level per page
    • Extra: Side Effect: Energy Drain on theft; Extra: Life Drain; Limit: Uncontrollable
  • Looks like a bad copy of the person whose powers she has stolen.
  • Deathly afraid of touch, but needs to touch.
  • ?


  • Summer vacation. Her parents, true nerds, were helping on an archaeological expedition. A seal was opened; a thing was freed. Poor Emily was standing in the wrong place: She was standing in the spirit trap. Now she and the spirit are fused, and her parents have sent her to live with Director Wye.
  • Was on the track team and the basketball team before the entity came.
  • Regards Rabbit Howl as her pet.

Rabbit Howl

Rabbit Howl (Unpronounceable)
PRW CRD STR INT AWR WIL Determination Stamina
5 4 8 3 4 3 1 11
  • Linguist (+1)
  • Occult (+1)
  • Stealth (+1)
  • Average (4) Invisiblity
    • Limit: While standing still
  • Fair (4) Extra Body Parts (claws: Slashing)
    • Extra: Carapace (Damage Resistance)
  • Good (5) Mind Control (the Rabbit Howl)
    • Extra: Broadcast
    • Limits: Only confusion/amnesia (pays off extra), preparation (+2 to level), performance (+2 to level)
  • Weak (1) Super-Senses (see in dark)

  • Weak (1) Super-Speed

  • Looks like a monster
  • Cryptid: Shy and secretive
  • Loves novelty


  • Rabbit Howl is a cryptid, from a secret society of cryptids. His appearance in the Unsquad is the result of his own isolation and the clan pushi g him out to test living openly among humans. (If this experiment doesn't work, there are no cryptids, there never were, Rabbit Howl was a mutant, no need to look for them, bye.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Monsters and superheroes


I have to admit, I was always a big fan of Morbius. The whole vampire-but-not-a-vampire schtick appealed to me, plus I used to own the original Spider-Man appearances. The generic field of "scientific monsters" is generally intriguing to me but can be hit or miss; I was not interested in Man-Wolf, for instance. The Moore retcon of Swamp Thing made it more mystical and less scientific, even though it walked in through a very scientific door, the flawed flatworm research of the 1970s. (Side note: has anyone preserved the issues of Worm Runners Digest from those days? I should check; I know that "Hygiene Habits Among the Nacirema" was preserved.)

In fiction, I certainly liked "The De-Mythologized Werewolf" and Green Eyes, which tackle werewolves and zombies, and I Am Legend has a different take on vampires (no, not the Will Smith movie...the book by Richard Matheson).

The scientific veneer gives the monster a hook into the Silver-Age-and-later superhero world that makes it square more with the can-do attitude of those stories.

And horror stories don't have to be non-scientific: I think Blood Music is a fine horror story, and so is "Sandkings" (and that one is structured very much like an EC horror comic: "You sharpen the pencils, the pencils sharpen you.")

Science and monsters don't have to conflict, is what I'm saying: in its day, Dracula was a technothriller, and Frankenstein is all about science.

So when I was casting about for some monster to put a scientific gloss on, I ran across a number of examples, drawn here from comics:

  • Vampires—well, there we have Morbius.
  • Frankenstein's Adam—is your scientific flesh golem (well, technically, flesh golems were invented to take advantage of his legend, but I digress)
  • Werewolves—there's Man-Wolf, of course. The implication in some stories is that lycanthropy is a heck of a disease (and in fact, I can see a story where it was meant to be a magical cure for cancer, but it ends up channelling that rampant cell growth into metabolic changes). Both the Thing and the Hulk are kind-of werewolves, too, but not enough to make my heart sing.
  • Witches—in fiction, the gods of several of Roger Zelazny's books are people with highly advanced science. I think nanotechnology has been used as the varnish to put witchery on a couple of characters, but I can't think of an example off-hand. Still, the basic cosmic character is so close to a witch (and the imagery of the Green Goblin) that I don't think anyone has tried.
  • Demons—have been aliens in a number of places; in one version of DC's history, the bespoke demons were other-dimensional inhabitants who moved into Hell, but were taken over by the renegade angels.
  • Zombies—have been a disease but haven't been given any other rationale that I know of. (Ghouls are rather the same.)
  • Anything from Lovecraft has its scientific gleam backed in.

I can't think of any others, which is rather my problem: coming up with a monster to "science-ize" is difficult. Lots of monsters can be made scary but aren't creatures of horror, really. They're monsters, sure, scary but not necessarily horrifying.

(Having said this, you will now come up with three dozen I have myopically underlooked.)

Monday, October 8, 2018


In Canada, today is Thanksgiving day, and it seems like an ideal time to say thank you.

Thank you to my friends, those I've played with and those I haven't met yet.

Thank you to the creators who have inspired me with their works.

Thank you to the various people who have taken a chance on me in both personal and professional capacities. Even though I haven't lived up to your expectations, you did not owe me the chance, and I'm grateful for it.

And, just to round it out, can I say that I'm sorry to the people I have wronged? I'm not the most self-aware person*, so if you're thinking, "If he were really sorry, he'd know what he has done wrong" ...except I have a list of things I have done that is somewhat longer than your kitchen table and a memory somewhat leakier than a screen door. I know that I have wronged people (I can think of two dates where I behaved abominably, for instance, and there are a lot of missed deadlines in there...). f you were to present me with your grievance, there's a very good chance that I'd acknowledge it and admit that I behaved badly...there's even a chance that I try not to live my life that way now...though I'm not a saint, and sometimes the barrier between self-knowledge and self-correction seems insurmountable.

TL;DR: If you're reading this, thank you.

This concludes your mushiness for another few months.


*I was going to have a footnote but I changed my mind.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Red Mary

Something for the Halloween to come...the spirit of vengeance
Red Mary
SpecialtiesOccult (+1)
Powers7Incredible Illusions
7Incredible Mind Control
  • Limit: Only works on person who has been Illusioned this chapter
  • Effect: Summon as zombies those killed while under her powers
7Astral Projection Limit: Constant
  • Dreadful Presence Her presence causes Emotion Control: Fear (Burst) at her Willpower level
  • Ghostly Spirit of Vengeance for wronged women
  • Can be summoned but not dismissed
  • Something on the mortal plane she still values (you decide what)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Poindexter, the Vampire Tagger

Look, vampires are a rare and endangered species. Or subspecies; the science isn't in yet. What we have to do is find them and tag them. Obviously, they're surprisingly intelligent so they recognize normal tags. But this pneumatic injector puts a radio chip inside them. Hit a big meaty structure like a thigh, if you can.

Yeah, you have to catch them, but it's a humane catch-and-release program.

Oh, you laugh at me, but when my cousin has to relocate one who has developed a taste for human blood,  she does the dangerous work? She's got cages, a truck, a plane...she's put three on a certain island already. I have to get close enough to tag them and then get away.

Listen, I got the tough job.

But it's for Science.

Today's freewriting...

Included this (from the voice, I think it's Mynah again):

I’m talking with a vampire, which is not a scenario that usually goes to a good place.Currently he’s just a voice on the intercom but the fact that I’m talking with him means that things have gone wrong.