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Two Lumps - Sep 22, 2017

Two Lumps comic for Friday, September 22, 2017

Episode 1551: Tonfa Tough

Episode 1551: Tonfa Tough

The "exotic martial arts weapon badass modifier" is a well known bonus that certain weapons get simply by virtue of not being bog-standard boring old Western European swords, daggers, maces, and similar weapons. Weapons from exotic cultures with curved or wavy blades definitely get a bonus, but the largest bonus is for blunt weapons used as an adjunct to martial arts.

The ultimate progression of this is of course the scrawny, mystical monk who can do twice as much damage by slapping someone with an open palm than a brawny knight can do with a two-handed sword.

Keybounce writes:

We have min-maxing with a stick. "Same as a blaster".

I have known someone who could make a first level RoleMaster character min-maxed to having two +20% modifiers on things that first level characters normally have no modifiers for; this is the same player who made a Champions character with a massive level of Strength (provides a bunch of benefits beyond just physical strength, such as physical defense) combined with Stretching to turn that Strength into a ranged attack.

I wish I could say that we have never seen a stick with a modifier made as strong as a sword. The truth is, I can't tell. My memory isn't good enough to separate what actually happened from the things we joked about.

But I absolutely love the line, "Yep same effect" / "We need to do more testing".

What I am noticing though, is the lack of the <roll>; the lack of hit numbers. Imagine, arguing for bonuses to hit for situation, weapon damage, all sorts of favorable things, and then rolling a two.

I might not remember what I rolled, but I did miss.

Hold on a second - "don't kill anyone", and firing a blaster? And somehow, these blasters are weak enough that they are only doing the damage of a stick? Since when did stun weapon blasters become so common?


aurilee writes:


This is a great excuse to do basically anything.

You took some food from somebody's plate? You were testing it for poison.

You were pick-pocketing townsfolk at the market? You were testing your dexterity and reflexes after recovering from a severe injury to your hand.

You broke into the estate of a wealthy noble? You were testing his security. (Bonus points if you can convince said noble to compensate you with his fantasy-Italian red carriage.)

The list goes on.



Two Lumps - Sep 20, 2017

Two Lumps comic for Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Episode 1550: Mech (sic) and Chicken; or Los Pollos Caminos

Episode 1550: Mech (sic) and Chicken; or Los Pollos Caminos

It's good to have miniatures to help the players visualise enemy forces and battles.

And although improvised figures will do, it's definitely better to have appropriate miniatures.

(Yes, we know the Spanish is terrible and doesn't mean the same thing.)

aurilee writes:

It was the first walker-type! And he apparently had no miniatures.

The poor players, having to use their imaginations while playing a tabletop RPG. Oh the humanity!

And unfortunately, the GM never saw my very, very clever suggestion of gluing some guns onto Timon. So everyone had to suffer through chickens.

With guns.


Keybounce writes:

Something that I never realized before: Chicken miniatures.

There is no movie; this GM actually had chicken walkers, and chicken miniatures.

Chicken. Miniatures.

Never mind the deformed seal-walrus-whatever it was, where do you get chicken miniatures? Are there other farm animals yet to show up?

I find myself wondering, what would a cow standing on two legs like a meerkat look like? (Lorenda? Kria?). Oddly, I have no problem imagining that cow holding a gun.

Looking over the last two comics, I'm realizing the clear advantage of the chicken walkers: they bring in close air support. Easy to tell apart from enemy fire. Easy to tell apart from the kitchen mess.

But the whole design still seems wrong. It still seems too easy to take out one leg, and turn the main body into skeet. (Have we ever seen one of these guys self-destruct? There's always a self-destructing something in movies, right? Toss a grenade in, tie up their legs... do they self destruct? What kind of hum do they make before they go boom? There was a self-destructing speeder in the TV series, but that's not the same.)

So let's look at the soldiers. Last comic, we see a huge number of soldiers appearing with the walker. They spread out in front of the walker. This comic starts with two in the first panel, then has a lot more in the second panel.

So who is killing the soldiers, and why do we not see them shooting? It sure looks like there's a lot of bodies in the center of the last panel, but we don't see them being killed. Presumably, this is just the choice of screen captures. It sure looks like we see a soldier being shot in the last panel. But we don't see who is shooting them at all. Are they really running into a killbox?

Meanwhile, all of the other civilians have gotten out of the way. "Our heroes" are the only ones left to get into trouble.



Two Lumps - Sep 18, 2017

Two Lumps comic for Monday, September 18, 2017

Episode 1549: Walk This Way

Episode 1549: Walk This Way

If you want to introduce some plot point to your adventure, try throwing it into the middle of a running battle, instead of just having an NPC talk about it during a social encounter.

Actually it might be interesting to try doing this for all your plot points. You might need a lot of fighting though.

Keybounce writes:

In panel two, did Bria just throw a grenade back at the troopers? Also, that's a pretty darn big explosion.

Now then, containers of large crystals. Are these by any chance Khyber saber crystals? Light saber crystals? Special hyperspace piloting crystals? Solidified spice from sandworm extract?

Were there any chicken walkers in the prequel trilogy? Is this the first appearance of a chicken walker in the Star Wars timeline? And can you imagine a meerkat walker?

Once again, we are reminded that talking is not a free action. The enemy is taking action even while you are trying to figure out what the enemy even is.

Still, does this mean that if you have a large group of four-legged walkers approaching you, that you are on the cow level?


aurilee writes:

As of writing this annotation, I have had "How Many Toes Does a Fish Have?" (from Tacky the Penguin) stuck in my head for a good 3 hours. And thinking about it now, it's just the tune my dad invented when reading me the book as a kid, so it's entirely possible that I can safely not infect anyone else with the song.

For those not familiar, the ditty goes:

How many toes does a fish have?
How many wings on a cow?
I wonder, yup I wonder

But moving on...

I guess chronologically this is the first "walker-type" machine the GM had introduced. The AT-ATs then would be a case of "these ones are even cooler and scarier because I added more legs!"

As for these walkers, Sally seems to have the most accurate analogy. It definitely looks more like a meerkat. With guns, that is.

If only the GM had some old Lion King figurines lying around, he could have just made a big commando-Timon to terrorise the marketplace.



lena is awesome and addictive [userpic]

In case anyone besides me still uses Journaler these days, it doesn't work at all under iOS11 :(


Posted via Journaler.

Two Lumps - Sep 15, 2017

Two Lumps comic for Friday, September 15, 2017

Squeaky [userpic]
Final Irma Update

Ok we are home now. So a final report. The site stayed up 100% through the hurricane and ensuing blackouts in the local area. My home is mostly ok, just a couple of minor things that can easily be addressed. Family is safe, all pets weathered the trip though they were't happy about it. All in all we came out of Hurricane Irma relatively unscathed. Please resume your regular InsaneJournal activities ;)

Episode 1548: Stun of a Gun

Episode 1548: Stun of a Gun

If you're going to take cover, try taking cover behind something innocuous like a tree or a wall. As opposed to an armed vehicle. That belongs to the other side.

Actually, another good tip is to avoid combat with two other sides, both of them potentially considering you an enemy.

aurilee writes:

When setting your phaser to stun still kills somebody, it's either a tragedy to mourn or just the coolest thing ever.

Although if you're in the Stargate universe, it's really easy to accidentally kill someone instead of stunning them. You just have to hit them one too many times.

Cassian doesn't seem to have a lot of combat experience. I'm starting to think he really is just a pilot. And not one of those science fiction "I'm a pilot which also means I'm really good at fighting and shooting and hand-to-hand combat" kind of pilots.

In contrast, Bria has so far been able to think quickly on her feet, assess a tactical situation and correctly determine why people were shooting guns. We don't know much about her past yet, but from what we've seen, I'd guess she's been in combat situations before, and has considerable experience in the Rebellion.

Speaking of the Rebellion... isn't it plausible that the people attacking an Imperial convoy are Rebels? This could come back to bite Cassian and Bria in the butt.


Keybounce writes:

Stun weapons? Stun Weapons?!?

We've seen a stun weapon once in Star Wars, in the famous Capture The Princess scene. In Da&Dr? #681/#685 make no mention of Princess being captured with a stun weapon. (Although, in fairness, I loved re-reading that scene knowing this was her mother.)

But as I look at the size of that thingthe explosion in the last panelI cannot help but wonder what normal grenades are like in this world.

Meanwhile, not only are they talking to each other in panel 1 despite being who knows how far apart, somehow Bria manages to get trapped next to the tank. Is this another example of the escort NPC trying to get killed off? It's not "If Bria dies, nothing is lost". That's mission failure, and re-load from last save.

Seriously though: Bria's mission is to avoid attracting attention, and contact someone for the Rebellion. Here she is, attracting as much attention as possible.

I don't know. If this was Groot, I'd be wondering if she was a plant.



Two Lumps - Sep 13, 2017

Two Lumps comic for Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Episode 1547: Never Work With Children and NPCs

Episode 1547: Never Work With Children and NPCs

Many game systems have a skill for Animal Handling. But no skill for Child Handling.

If you're a parent, try throwing some children into the game and watch as non-parent players struggle to figure out how to take care of them in difficult situations.

Keybounce writes:

I really love color management done right. I really hate color management done wrong.

Panel one has a large amount of motion blur. And it sure looks like there is something on Bria's chest. I played around with my video settings again; I found a control on my TV monitor that improves the dark areas without destroying gamma; I used both monitors; I went back and looked at all the prior comics so far.

The only thing I have seen up until now is that there is a clasp holding her robe in place at the top of her chest. There hasn't been a single full-front chest view of her up until now. The details are very hard to make out, but it sure looks like there is some sort of device on the front of her chest. If she was a police officer, I'd think it would be a body-cam; if this was Paranoia, it would be the session recorder. Either way, it's the thing you want to destroy so that your view of what you report back to your superior is the only view.

Motion blur is horrible here. I don't know if JJ Abrams was responsible for this movie or not; I know that people have complained that he needs a steady-cam because of the blur.

Either way, it is really interesting looking at the difference between how the PCs think, and how the NPC thinks. The PCs are busy spending time debating whether or not they should rescue someone, and pointing out just how risky it is for the future to save an unknown person; Bria just gets it done. This scene clearly shows that talking is not a free action.

But I just love how the GM is talking to himself, with the whole "I don't know how to thank you"/"saying thanks would have done it" bit. Bria's line here could have easily come from a PC.

Oh, and I absolutely love the respect level here. "If Bria dies, nothing's lost!".

The bottom line here: The PCs think of NPCs as disposable. I cannot wait to see how the NPCs will dispose of the PCs. We've been told that there's a TPK, and I want to see it happen.

Hmm. So, something I just realized after this stewed for a night: This was only ever supposed to be a one-off campaign. A mini-episode set in the same world. The characters were throw-aways. The players treated their own PCs as throw-aways, just as the PCs are treating the NPCs.

The players aren't respecting their characters, any more than the characters respect the background. I wonder if maybe they wanted to go out with a big "ka-bloom, now lets get back to the real story".


aurilee writes:

The GM's being pretty snarky with himself there.

And we get to see some further expansion on Pete's PC-first philosophy. He actually can't accept that an NPC could be as important as a PC.

And in the process of the GM getting fed up, we see Bria being the brave hero and Cassian being... indifferent.

From Bria's perspective, Cassian was just twiddling his thumbs while some girl was in the middle of a firefight. I wonder if this will colour Bria's opinion of Cassian going forward?

It does help paint him as a "rebel who only cares for himself and his own goals" though, and the fight with "his conscience" could be him reconsidering his life choices, so I guess that works. Despite the possibility that maybe Annie wasn't intending to play him that way.

Wow, that makes Pete responsible for complex roleplaying!

Amazing things happening here.



Squeaky [userpic]
Irma Update

So the site survived Hurricane Irma with no outages. Now we are just waiting to hear about the status of our home and are awaiting the all clear to drive the 14 hours back south.

Two Lumps - Sep 11, 2017

Two Lumps comic for Monday, September 11, 2017

Episode 1546: A Spot of Bother

Episode 1546: A Spot of Bother

Despite the best laid out adventure plans, inevitably you'll have to do some GMing by the seat of your pants - usually because the PCs have decided to do something so ridiculous that you failed to even consider it a possibility.

One way to handle this is to assume that no adventure will ever go according to plan and be prepared to wing it at any moment. To this end, a selection of handy-dandy random tables is invaluable. The good thing is, being random, you can repurpose most tables for other eventualities.

Need someone to blunder into the middle of a firefight that the PCs somehow started? Roll on the Random Marketplace Encounter table! Need to know what the PCs find when they decide it would be a good idea to search behind the bar during a bar-room brawl? Roll on the Random Blacksmith Shop Items table! Need to know what the cantankerous old lady of the village keeps locked in her outhouse? Roll on the Level 12 Dungeon Encounters table (with Random Slimes, Oozes, and Jellies subtable, if necessary)!

aurilee writes:

Pete is still "party first" it seems. Despite him not being in the party.

I can't help but imagine what table the GM used to see what wandered into the firefight...

Let's assume a d20...

1-3Elderly woman/man
4Blind Jawa
5-7Space nun
8Disoriented droid
9-11Pregnant woman
12Bantha calf
13-15Future party member
16+Little girl/boy

Would blind Jawas still have glowy eyes? I would guess not, and that possibly this lack of a distinctive feature might make them pariahs of Jawa society (more so than blind people are in other humanoid cultures). This would explain why a blind Jawa could be wandering around a Tatooine marketplace and possibly walking into a firefight.

Anyways... is this maybe how they meet up with the local rebel cell? Did Pete plan this ambush? Taking out a military convoy/procession is pretty classic rebel stuff, so I can't imagine it not being associated with The Rebellion.


Keybounce writes:

The GM is a... some kind of bastard. Cheating? Conniving? Planning? Cruel? Sending a little girl out into the middle of a firefight just to show the characters that not everything is planned, and to give them a chance to be heroic, the only question is, why?

Clearly, the only answer is this is a chance for them to be noticed by Jabba. After all, if they missed his contacts, they have to have some way for the GM to get the plot moving.



Squeaky [userpic]
Hurricane Irma Update

Based on the current path of the storm and the current state of affairs, we are not anticipating any significant issues with the site. While power outages are still a possibility, the thought of data loss is now gone. The area the site is in, is no longer in any risk of flooding and the wind risk is minimal.

Thank you all so much for your words of support. Now we just need to figure out when we can go back home.

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