Strolen\s Citadel content. 
USSS Ticonderoga
Locations  (Other)   (Space)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-08-06 10:02 AM

General:"But Mr. President a launch on the targets you suggest the shockwaves will likely destroy as much American infrastructure as Canadian"

Chief of Staff: "Be more specific General"

General: "Detroit, Buffalo, Rochester ...gone...uh...Billings and Seattle would get dangerous fallout levels, New Hampshire would be-"

President Bush the 6th (VR conferenced in from Dallas): "Better hit em with two volleys then. Darn shame about the voters in Billings though."

*If you want to learn more about Canada there are several high Quality docu-dramas produced in the 80s and 90s. Might I suggest Strange Brew starring Rick Moranis or Canadian Bacon starring John Candy. If you want something more contempary check out the reality show Trailer Park Boys

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Something Weird cart
Items  (Other)   (Magical)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-08-26 06:12 PM
this is sad. because in a perfect world you two would be lovers. Go to Comment
Something Weird cart
Items  (Other)   (Magical)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-08-24 06:57 PM
A fun challenge for GMs in loose world emersion games. This post could be used as the textbook explanation of how "GM voice" works. Again nice idea for something that serves meta considerations first and foremost. I can imagine a lot of gamers would have fun with this. Go to Comment
The Palestra
Locations  (Neighborhoods)   (Any)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-08-07 04:40 PM
What I like about this one is how laser focused it is on the specifics of these five locations. Via these referential details, we learn much about the world. Great visuals and compact histories throughout. Every location really pops! Except for Masterful Order of Clerks and Scriveners that one really fell flat, but 4 out of 5 ain't bad.

Oh and thanks Patrick Rothfuss for adding anachronistic university cultures to our list of anachronism aof in medieval inspired fantasy settings. Go to Comment
Locations  (Neighborhoods)   (Any)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-08-01 11:40 AM
I love that you presented this area via the personalities. I also really like any post that gives us a good side long view of society, a location and moment in time. Your narrator here alludes to or refers to things that exist elsewhere in the world. Thus, in this brief aloof summary of notable people we get introduced to a mage guild that hands out frocks which represent privileges of magical rites. We learn that there is an evil cult of assassins that corrupts people and murders them. When the narrator says “of course” it implies that it is a cliché in this world that all seemingly virtuous people have a dark side. There is a city Watch which is violent and tyrannical. There is canal and a swamp. As a reader I took a lot of pleasure from all the bits and pieces of the larger world that you managed to weave into the list short list of character. I found this a solid submission as it is written.

If you wanted to work on this more address some of these points.

The characters, as a whole though, were not well developed as literary or RPG resources. In storytelling terms some of the definitions of the character lean on genre troupes. For example you have a couple ex-adventures. What is an adventurer?

Also we don’t get a lot of visceral or visual details regarding most of the characters. With regard to Nesser , we don’t get the flavor of dealing with this character. Yes he blows goats but how is that going to fit into a story. Is it true? Or is it perhaps part of the general anti-Orcish slander. Perhaps you could describe the experience of being in the same room or alley way as Yitzhak. Do we expect him to be fair all be it incompetent? In some characters we get a little more like with Jon Fonda or Snarf. *snarf*

This comes to the second point about RPG standards. I remember reading the old modules, like Trouble at Tragdoor and even in those very sophomoric attempts at story telling give us NPCs were written up with “will dos” and “won’t dos”. More sophisticated RPGs have motivations and even pop-psych profiles. Again some of your characters do have that type of motivations listed in their bios.

Also some of your sentences are kind rough. Consider the second sentence of the first paragraph.
They survive on piece work, rag picking, fish gutting, begging, scavenging and day labor at South Wharves, and on the handful of legitimate businesses in the district ... as well as preying on one another.

That is a chewy sentence. I dropped your text into the Hemingway Editor and it gave it readability score of 13 or Okay.

Overall, a tight little sign-post submission. (Sign-post: gives us a general direction and some pertinent details.)
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Locations  (Neighborhoods)   (Any)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-08-02 06:42 AM

I desired instruction as to what you or your narrator meant by adventurer. Do people self-identify as adventurers in your setting?

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Noremdar, The Vast World of the Creator
Articles  (Fiction)   (Gaming - In General)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-07-29 11:16 AM
One of the intellectual exercises implicate in writing in high-fantasy genre fiction (such as D&D/Tolkien-esque fantasy settings) is the tweaking of the creation myth. When we step on to the page of these settings certain things are already laid out; we have mystical elves, violent orks, magic, good, evil, gods in both flavors, hard-working dwarves and everything else listed in the player’s handbook. Some writers/DMs have a fun time remaking the Orks or the dwarves, but I enjoy reading a well thought out retro-fitted myth. This a good McDLT mythos here in as much as you have an evil side and a good side and you keep em both separate.

The definitions of good and evil here though lack a little of the double edged ambiguity I like to see in good speculative fiction. It is nice to have philosophies that force the reader/characters to think about value judgements. And to be fair you do have a little bit of that here with regard to the curse that was laid on to the Orks (and other heavies). They took no action to precipitate the curse thus do they deserve it? Also since all the power seems to rest with the creator and his whims, things seem to be open to change.

An interesting plot could revolve around the dark god and the creator having a reconciliation that results in the light god getting placed on the outs. Match this event to the story of a group of PCs/characters that worship said light god and then force them to decide what is at the root of their holy fidelity. Do they agree with the god of light even when he is no longer the chosen son and his star is no longer ascendant? If you intended such a happening to be impossible then you should rewrite this piece to take out all discussions of choice in the hands of the gods.

Finally, I say this last point with the greatest humility and full acknowledgement that I am no better, but there are an obscene number of spelling errors, grammatical errors and just plain broken sentences in this piece. It genuinely disrupts the message and story.
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Compatible Time Travel
Articles  (Rules and Advice)   (Players)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-07-20 01:23 AM
This is very well presented and well thought out article on using time based abilities is n roleplaying games. I like how you thoughtfully take in consideration the pragmatic requirements of running a table top game. I like how you suggest using Presage mostly to make yourself look cool.

Time lapse seems dangerously close to a save point ability though.

Overall nice discussion that goes deep and straight into the tabletop rather than dressing itself in literature and winking at the table top from across the room. Slick presentation as well. Go to Comment
Tangrams (or Seven Piece Puzzles)
Dungeons  (Any)   (Puzzles)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-07-11 11:29 PM
I remember Tangrams, I didn't know they were Chinese! I should have put these into games years ago. Good idea. Go to Comment
NPCs  (Major)   (Political)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-08-02 07:02 AM
I think this is the great NPC, I really like the chief conflict in his story seems to be an over dedication to pragmatism and a lack traditionally vain affectations. "Being a knight use to be fun until Urooj came along." Scras is right there is a lot of inbetween the lines stuff. But what is interesting about this is that it is facts that are all in between the lines, the conclusion regarding personality are all explicitly stated. Good stuff, I like the story too and the I love that you defined the character through different voices. Go to Comment
The Maw Installation
Locations  (TransWorld)   (Space)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-07-16 11:27 AM

This is a fun idea. A little known place where they build real life versions of the space craft from popular science fiction (aka the conceit from Galaxy Quest raised to nth degree). That would be a great idea seed. You have taken that idea seed a step farther and tried to realize the Maw in the cosmic era setting. To this end you outline the numerical dimensions of the place, drop is some proper nouns, link it to other cosmic era content and the list some more numerical dimensions. You also add some choice details that really put steps forward towards immersion in the world. I like how each “pod” has its own insignia and that you explained (in your first blurb) how the Maw is subtle part of the collective consciousness. You passed on some easy laughs by not including Pod 6, and writing about “those jerks from Pod-6”.

But I don’t think the Maw is fully realized. You give us a lot of numbers and often give us dry impersonal facts. Numbers that might be more descriptive if you told us the ratio clones to people, the ratio droids to people, the ratio of sheep to people and so on. This kind of reminds of the RPG you ran and when scouted the archeology you told me the design history the archeology but nothing about the current state of the archeology. You are just throwing facts up there rather than “mechanically” using those facts to build a point.

There are 2000 workers on Aleph station, but so what? Is it cramped? Do they monitor their droids from one central control room like NASA or are the labs and departments modular? Is there a cafeteria? Which clones are these? (I hope the the crew is 75% Shipwrecks and Roadblocks) Yes we could answer these questions but the gaps don’t fit with pedantic tone of the piece. You scale down the size of the ships for what? Is it going to ruin your RPG if the star destroyer is over 2 kilometers long? Point is you tell us a lot about what this place needs to be to fit into the cosmic era setting, but you don’t tell us what the place is actually like. It is impossible that your imagination begins with a ship we have already seen in another and ends with a number. I assume there is stuff you planned that didn't make into the post. You mention a shipwright in the blurb, while that could be a description of the place, I assume denotes specific person. Did you intended to write up the chief designer of the station? So how about some personalities or people in here? A place where a bunch of dorks have a huge budget to realize their geeky daydreams? There has to be interesting culture on that station. When and how did the Maw transition from clandestine ship tending to think tank?

All these fact about numbers, discussions of budgets and resources bring up another question. Do you intend for economic game play to be part of the cosmic era? Such rule sets have been a part of many RPG systems. In second ed D&D you had the castle guide which allowed you to budget construction of a castle and tax the peasants. . Battletech has a whole arm of core rules for managing a unit, paying salaries and upkeep costs. Westend Star Wars had the Smuggler’s guide which detailed rules for speculative trading and the economics of playing a working space merchant. I think developing your system along those lines might be fun for you.

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axlerowes's comment on 2015-08-18 11:39 PM

The Blessed Witch of Cantalspier was indeed none of those things. Alicestasia was an actress and orator of such caliber that a mundane phrase rolled up and spun out of her mouth carried as much power of charm and transformation as an ancient ephemeral secret uttered by the most ruthless of warlocks. Her self-styled narrative asserts that she had been plucked from a field in the farming county of Pran by a troupe of performers. She claims they gave her father five coins so closely shaved that the King looked more a Prince for want of beard and crown.

This group of rowdy musicians and raconteurs was laying siege to all the Keeps and Market towns across the land. The troupe made a living by prying coins from the merchant farmers with a smile before the taxmen could steal it away with their whips. At first Alicstasia fetched water and collected the coins, but the fates did not have thread that short for her. Before she even came of age she could petrify the wagon trains of commerce with the glamour of her bawdy songs. Once she had held every person in the radius of her voice she would climb atop the murmur’s wagon to address the crowd state of eagle’s splendor. Then she would string words together into a stories of hope and grief. Tears pulled more coins from the hopeful farmers than smiles.

With Alicstasia inevitably in command, that murmur’s wagon proved to be siege engine enough to carry her across the walls of every Keep in the river counties. In the Keeps and the towns she found the theater and the beds of rich men.

A low-born actress would never be more than a novelty to the fine folks with five or six names. Alicstasia knew this. She saved the favors, avoided the feuds with snotty wives or petty courtly mistress, and made her self a type of rich. With fame and coin she surprised everyone by traveling to Cantalspier and there she opened a hostel for the orphans and lost children of those wicked streets.

She became the symbol of Cantalspier within six months and within a year she was the patron saint. She brokered peace between feuding families. She reunited children with lost siblings. She cared for the sick, and gave everyone in Cantalspier a since of pride when she passed them. The saying became that three things will kill you in Cantalspier; the water, a full purse and an unkind world about the Blessed Witch.

Her alliance with Luc-Paiser de Vulasier's and Dr. Krimswoffel occurred naturally and at first proved rewarding. The boys needed money, and she had that. The boys needed safe quiet spaces to study the great spells and store their arcane tools; Alicstasia’s house was the biggest home of common ownership in all of Cantalspier. The boys had spells and incantations that could set bones and clear lungs, and that huge home was filled with broken coughing children. She offered everything material that high-minded wizards like Luc-Paiser de Vulasier's and Dr. Krimswoffel like to pretend they never need.

But what did Alicestasia need? Some say she needed an audience, and that Cantalspier was just an opportunity to mix the applause with a respect and adoration the noble born would never give her. Some say she was making amends for the bastard children she had abandoned in order to pursue her own vanity. Whatever the case it would become clear too late that she grew to need de Vulasier.

Luc-Paiser de Vulasier was not a natural lover. But he took to the embraces of Alicestasisa like a candle dropped in haystack. His joy was infectious. Rather than growing distracted from his arcane studies, he became inspired. Alicestasia was his muse. His incantations became more daring and more complex. The threads of reality became strings on a lute to him. How could they not be? What strength did the laws of Gods or nature have to a young man in love? Luc-Paiser de Vulasier became a force to be admired and perhaps feared.

Dr. Krimswoffel was outwardly generous and sincerely enjoyed in the new directions de Vulasier's was taking their works. But a darkness was growing in him. Everyone could see it, except for de Vulasier's. He had grown unable to see darkness even in his sleep; when his dream-self continued to worship his love.

We should not judge Alicestasia's and Dr. Krimswoffel's actions unsympathetically. Alicestasia had grown callous to love over the years. In order to live as she did she had dug moat upon moat, and built wall upon wall to keep out the vile humors of love. She saw how so many young women had been destroyed by love. It is no wonder that she was terrified and lashed out in self-defense. Krimswoffel was a man in love as well. Though his love was not as clear. Perhaps he loved the magic, but saw his partner going to new heights of power that he could not reach? Perhaps he loved Alicestasia in the way an old man loves youth and hope? Or perhaps he had seen more than a student in de Vulasier, and to this old man de Vulasier was the muse? Whatever the reason the Alicestasia and Krimswoffel acted against de Vulasier; without speaking and without preconception they went to bed together. The love had passion, but it was not passion for each other.

That night, because they would not have done it on a lesser night, de Vulasier and Krimswoffel were going to finish their greatest spell: a spell to change the destiny of the wind.

Don’t under estimate the power of the wind’s destiny. The wind carries change, and words. The wind moves clouds to hide the sun and knocks down trees. The winds destiny is a land’s destiny.

When de Vulasier and Krimswoffel were making the final circle of the spell and were taking a moment to catch their breath while their threads of magic tighten. Krimswoffel looked grimly at his protégé. “Luc, I am afraid Alicestasia and I had a bit of a go at each other in the bed today. I hope you don’t mind son, really meant nothing, you know how women like that are.”

Those words were the cruelest act Krimswoffel had ever performed. He saw de Vulasier’s soul break behind his eyes. But the spell must go on or at least so Luc-Paiser de Vulasier and Dr. Krimswoffel had always said when some event attempted to interrupt their ritual casting. They returned to their positions in the circle of power and began the final incantations.

Ritual magic has a rhythm to it, a pacing and all this is based on trust. Trust in your coven and trust in yourself. When prompted for reply by Krimswoffel’s chanting de Vulasier paused. The air around the two of them became pregnant with untamed threads of power. Krimswoffel began to fear not for himself, but for his friend and for the whole city around them. But there was nothing he could do. He dare not trip on the strings of power circling about them.

Then de Vulasier looked at Krimswoffel. It was same expression that Krimswoffel had seen when he found the boy stabbed and dying in the street. The lad had looked lost and shocked but not scared or panicked. Krimswoffel had always been impressed by how de Vulasier had approached death and pain; with a detached curiosity. Is that how de Vulasier was dealing with heartbreak and betrayal? Krimswoffel never found out. The wizard de Vulasier hurled himself out of the circle of power and disappeared in a gust of wind. The threads of magic, that been woven so tightly around the circle, and de Vulasier were gone.

Alicestasia tried to take her own life early the next morning as well. She walked to the center of Cantalspier and threw herself from a bridge into the slow moving sewer that had been bestowed a riverhood by the royal cartographers. Drunk with grief and shame she had not planned her death well. The bridge was only a horse head high and the river was only a few feet deep. Her many admirers among the citizens rushed to her aid. She was returned to her house unclean but unscathed.

Krimswoffel and Alicestasia still live in that great house together. Still care for the children. But they are not lovers and they are not friends. They are inmates sharing a prison of regret, and a secret religion of hope that de Vulasier will return someday. Aside from the ever-invading legion of suffering children, the only new visitors they ever seem to have are a flock of cawing white ravens.

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Din-Bak and Barbo's Bestiary
Lifeforms  (Fauna)   (Any)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-07-29 11:17 AM
This is a fantastic frame work on which to hang any number of gaming factoids. Via the voice of your globe-trotting fantasy zoologists you could unpack an entire gaming world. This goes beyond just animals in that you can (and do) describe cultures, personalities and geographies in a much more lively manner than the all too common encyclopedia style listing of facts. If you wanted to frame this as a stand alone work of fiction I think it would be easy to pin a thread of conflict to each of these chapters with another chapter offering some sort of resolution. I enjoyed reading this and immediately day dreamed my only little story for your characters. Which is what we want from gaming fiction isn’t it? Go to Comment
Chinese Mythical Life forms
Articles  (Resource)   (Gaming - In General)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-07-11 12:15 AM
I think there is more to say in the introduction of this codex than what you put here. A little discourse on the nature of the mythology would be welcome. Go to Comment
Han Yu (Cold Jade)
Items  (Art and Music)   (Magical)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-07-11 12:12 AM
I really liked this idea, it is good footnote for other stories and it was so subtle, like hypothermia itself. I can best sum up the post by saying this is a COOL and WELL PLAYED. Go to Comment
Shuang Gu Jian (Double Branched Sword)
Items  (Melee Weapons)   (Combat)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-07-11 12:03 AM
Pretty solid stuff, I am not familiar with it so I am not sure what is historical and what is adapted. I liked the stories and found this a fun read. I suggest some restructuring. The first section is hard to follow because all the proper nouns (names) are not defined. The crafting and ownership history are also hard to follow. Perhaps you could focus on the appearance and properties in section one, and fold the crafting and ownership history into the other sections.

I always feel like if you are going nonfiction on us you should include references (wikipedia is a dubious reference). Go to Comment
Plasmid Lifeforms
Lifeforms  (Third Kingdom)   (Any)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-07-11 12:06 AM
Solid introduction to the concept. Go to Comment
Cosmic Era: Avengers
NPCs  (Major)   (Combative)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-07-10 11:19 PM
I reminded of something Pieh wrote back in to 2010, I will just repost his comment...

"I'm not sure there are any redeeming qualities in this one. I think the last line hits it on the head. It's almost like I was handed an overly generic, staple, cookie-cutter, bland, stereotypical wizard, then given some totally useless information. When given the information I looked up and said "Whut?" then I was told: Oh... Just act like Gandalf."

Just act like Robert Downey Jr. Go to Comment
Ulysses Crane
NPCs  (Major)   (Criminal/Espionage)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-07-10 11:16 PM
This is really good character, excellent combination of bits and pieces to give us both a feeling the visceral nature of the character and the psychological depth of the person. You tell us both how he feels and how he smells. Excellent stuff. I like the style of asides in his voice and the content text in the god's eye voice.

The only thing is you could have been more "mechanical" or disciplined in the write up. For example in paragraph 1 you call you him a realist and pragmatist when describing his appearance. You toss in the game use suggestions into his background and some the sentences are beneath you. But this all minor stuff, really a great character.I find it distracting and unnecessary to reference the Avengers other than it is impressive to see what you built from that brief scene. Go to Comment
The Fleshspikes
Items  (Melee Weapons)   (Magical)
axlerowes's comment on 2015-07-10 11:03 PM

Pretty darn good, I enjoyed the pulpy tale at the beginning. The phrases and pacing dug into the genre like a flesh spike into The Storm Kings thigh. But then you switched it up by giving us another pulpy little story. This second story really doesn't connect to the first story, and thus lacks bite (get it? teeth, bite...bah). I like the mini world you presented and enjoyed reading this.

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