Monday, November 25, 2019

New Sage Ability

The content below is a copy of the wiki post, which is part of bard sage abilities connected to being a ceramics maker and designer.  In my game, not all bards are musicians.  Publishing this, I'm going to write a further deconstruction of the content on my other blog, The Higher Path, available through my Patreon.

CERAMIC ORNAMENT (sage ability)

The skill enables the amateur ceramic glazer to transform a pre-existing modelled article of clay pottery, stoneware or porcelain into a warm, idiosyncratic object that has the potential to be immediately adored by a character for the sake of its dilettante quirkiness and modest imperfections.


Unless the glazer also possesses sufficient skill to make the ceramic to be transformed, the object must be obtained from a potter of at least amateur ability, prior to the object being fired. The glazer then makes the flux, decides if the object requires an underglaze or overglaze, as well as other considerations that may apply, and these together are fixed to the object in order to create an ornamental piece. This may be any aesthetic object made of ceramic, such as a cup, pitcher, bowl, plate, spoon, urn and so on. The object is limited in size to the hand span of a typical human, or seven inches in diameter.

A minimum of tools is required to mix the flux and apply it ~ a small putty knife, brush, half a dozen pots for mixing the flux, a hand fan for drying, with other materials to be named. The image may be of any conceived variety, including geometric patterns or even just the effect of a rich or desirable color that catches the light. Application of the design will be 2-5 hours, with each turn in the kiln taking a full day, to fire and dry the piece. A kiln worker can be hired if the character does not own a kiln, or does not know how to operate one. The cost of materials and kiln varies depending upon where the work is being made.

Most probably, the glazer will need to make several attempts at the object. A success upon the first try is 5%, +5% cumulatively per attempt thereafter. Thus, a glazer would have a 25% chance of success on their fifth try. If the glazer is not operating the kiln, another attempt can be made while the first object is fired; or several attempts can be made and fired all at once. Success cannot be determined until after the ornament has been fired.

Objects made after the first success will continue to increase in likelihood (so that some efforts may yet fail), but after a measure of 100% has been reached, the glazer may continue to turn out like objects, each requiring no more than two hours per ornament.

Appreciation & Benefits

Once the ornament can be regarded as a success, the glazer should then share the piece around for others to view. Of those who see it, 1 in 20 will regard it as something special enough to want it for their own. The actual value will not be high ~ approximately three times the typical cost of the original ceramic. The glazer may charge for the ornament or give it away ~ but none of the benefits for generosity listed below will accrue to the maker of the ornament.

The character (NPC or Player) who then possesses the ornament will quickly begin to adore and appreciate it as something sentimental, so long as it is not broken or otherwise ruined. Once a week has passed, the pleasure of using or handling the object for a minute a day will convey a sense of well-being that will affect the character’s good spirits, particularly with respect to others. Whatever act of selfless acts the character might perform, in the way of spells, work done, kindness provided and so on, gains a 10% bonus. Acts must be truly selfless for the bonus to take effect.

A healing spell would heal 10% more hit points, work would be performed 10% faster, an effort to save a person by carrying them from danger would increase the encumbrance capacity of the ornament’s owner by 10% and so on. Risking all to defend a helpless friend would add 10% to the d20 roll. Further examples may be included here once they have presented themselves in play.

A single character only has enough personal love and adoration for one such object, sadly.


If two persons or more, viewing the object while still in the possession of the glazer, both roll a 1 on a d20, it should be noted that the object cannot be shared. However, the first person to renounce the object out of generosity for their peer, will gain a +20% bonus to all selfless acts that day (while the new owner would receive no benefits for another week). No other immediate benefits would be gained by the generous character after the day had ended (count sunset as the end of each day, with the new day beginning immediately thereafter).

However, should the ornament ever come back to the generous character, as a legacy of the owner who has passed on or has retired their character from the campaign, the ornament then becomes a keepsake. As a keepsake, the piece will now benefit its new owner in the ways described above, AND the new owner will also gain a +1 to the ability stat matching the primary attribute of the previous owner. For example, if the previous owner was a cleric, the new owner’s keepsake would increase the new owner’s wisdom by one point ~ so long as they used or handled the object pointedly that day.

Once the object is broken, all benefits are lost. There are no negative penalties for a broken ornament.

See Glaze

Thursday, November 21, 2019

My Daughter Shows Me Her D&D

Here is a video in which my daughter explains how she's transferred my wiki content to books that she uses to run her campaign.  I find it exciting to hear my own passion being reflected in her voice ... sometimes, it is great to be a father.

Speaking of the wiki, I've added new content today and one post several days ago.  And I've updated this page on the wiki, which you should read first to understand some of the other new content.

Bard Sage Abilities

Plus more:

Friday, November 15, 2019


There is a post that proceeds the post script below, discussing the relationship between Starship Troopers and D&D, destiny and adventure design.  As well as a deconstruction of the book. but that post is included on my other for-pay blog, The Higher Path.

However, I wish to make the post script public, because I like to push the things I love ~ and I haven't found anyone yet on the internet ready to do that for this book.

Post Script,

I am well aware of the criticism of this book. It is plain from the linked resource that many readers, particularly critics, have brought a great deal of baggage about the military, politics and quite a lot of other things not included in a literal reading of the novel ~ and who have then argued that a literal reading of the novel is itself an unacceptable social and political reaction to the book. I consider all of this sentiment to be a load of dingo's kidneys. There are no statements of fascism in the book at all, except to those without any understanding of fascism. There are no statements of "rah rah military" in the book, except from those who plainly have no understanding, or no ability to understand, that the military is not a garden party, and that we do not make weapons nor teach the use of weapons so they can be held prettily in parades on Remembrance Day.

If anyone wishes to discuss the book with me, I would be delighted. However, if it is the reader's purpose to deride or criticise the message of the book, I had better see exact quotes from the novel, with specific page numbers or chapters, and context, or else I intend to delete your comment. Prior to writing this post, I read half a dozen criticisms of the book and not one of them gave a single quote from the novel. This is appalling. But then, it is also what I came to expect from some English and Poly Sci professors in university.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Scattered Enthusiasts

At my job, where I work in a downtown vegetarian kitchen for good wages (comparatively), several of my coworkers have a passing familiarity with D&D.  The assistant kitchen manager played when she was 17; another fellow started in a supposed campaign as a player just two weeks ago (and already says it isn't going to meet again); one of the lead hands has played a lot but not for some years now; and finally there's a fellow who is greatly interested, but has never been able to actually play.

They've all been there for much longer than me.  They know about my interests and this blog (though I do not think any of them have actually read it).  They know about my Patreon and that it is based on teaching people how to DM and how to worldbuild.  I told the restaurant Chef straight out at my job interview, because I wanted him to understand why I only needed to work 26 hours a week to manage my finances (Patreon covers the remainder).  And though the Chef was responsible for everyone else knowing about me, he himself doesn't understand the game in the least.  He asked me on Sunday how my "dungeons and dragons party" went, as I'm eternally booked off for Saturday nights.

It's surprising to find so many interested persons in one venue ~ but even more surprising to find such a telling cross-section of the game's participants.  I find myself in strange waters; I can talk as much as I like about D&D and there are always at least two people in the room ready to listen and absorb anything I have to say.  None of them have the least comprehension of anyone online.  They've never watched Critical Role, they have no idea who Colville is, they read no blogs and watch no youtube videos about the game ... and in fact, with the exception of the fellow in the failed campaign, they're doubtful they'll ever play.  Oh, they want to play.  But with job and relationship constraints, and those of their friends, they see life as an insurmountable barrier.  Most restaurant workers between 55 and 70 hours a week.  Most do that because they want between 45 and 90 days off the job as a vacation, next summer or next winter, depending on their passions.  Some do it because they want to live in actual houses, like real people.

This disconnection reminds me of my experiences at game cons, selling my books.  The influence of the company, the usual discourse about editions or coming events, even the chatter about modules, doesn't exist.  People talk about characters, the campaigns they were in, the people they played with.  No one says a word about some old dull bit of company fluffery.  And when I blatantly make statements about what D&D "ought" to offer players, as I'm directly asked for my opinion, the answer I get is, "That's cool.  That sounds awesome."

If ever I wanted confirmation about my game approach, I couldn't ask for better.  I look around at some of my online competitors and I pass the time thinking, how would they fare in this crowd?  What would they talk about?  No doubt, they'd be counted as "cool" and "awesome" as well ~ the audience is ready, and listening, and anxious to hear whatever's thrown on the table.  For DMs who have about their abilities or their relevance, they should catch a taste of what I'm having ... no matter what meat is thrown to the hungry, they'll gobble it up and ask for more.

And yet sadly, what am I do to for these people?  I can't fold them into my offline campaign ~ they're never all off work at the same time and as I said, they work a lot.  I don't have time to start and usefully run a meaningful campaign; even as I start to get my physical bearings after picking up a blue collar job at my age, I'm already to committed to writing blog posts, working on my book, furthering a game design that I haven't touched in months, running my existing campaigns more often or at all, getting more books off the ground and giving passionate, relaxed time to my partner Tamara, who has herself suffered with my being gone and then coming home and laying about the house talking about how much I hurt.  Running a legitimate campaign, even once a month, costs in time to prep and time to think ~ and as a small business owner anxious to improve my tiny micro-celebrity throughout more of the internet, I haven't the time.  I can't rescue these people and let them see what a D&D campaign really looks like.

I could, and probably will eventually, cobble something together in an couple of hours and run them in one session, should time and space ever allow that.  As long as I'm not overly concerned with the bigger picture of a campaign, I don't need to worry about the bells and whistles I've added to character design.  You're on a beach and there are large crabs, two feet wide, rising out of the water ~ thousands of them.  Run random crabs, fight, find shelter, defend the shelter, escape deeper into the shelter, fight something else, kill one last crab and come out into the sun to discover the wave has passed the party by and there are no crabs in sight.  They'd have a blast.  Any simple dungeon scenario would provide the same experience.  Set them up in a town bar amidst a riot.  Sporadic fighting, a chance to share strategies, a chance to laugh at an absurd situation, moments of near death, survival, triumph at having survived ... them's good gaming.

A stroll in the park for me, but something they'd remember a long time.

I hope one of them stumbles across the blog.  They only have to google my name and they know I've been blogging for more than ten years.  But humans, I find, don't rub salt in a wound.  Why torture yourself with something you haven't time to explore?  What good does that do anyone?

I would try to give them that, if the subject arose.  I hate for anyone not to be able to enjoy this game, even in small bits.  I'd be straight with them about what I could do.  It hurts to hear people talk about something they can't actually do, for whatever reason ~ because of time or because someone they do find isn't ready to commit to the promises they've made.  Telling people you're going to run a campaign, then folding the campaign after just one session ... fuck, that's evil.  No other word for it.

If the reader would like to hear from me more often, I write more regularly on another blog, The Higher Path, that is available through my Patreon account (link above).  $3, the price of a cost of coffee once a month, gets you access.  If you like, give a little bit more, and help me reduce my hours working at mindless labour to 24 or 22 hours a week.  I'd appreciate it.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

A First Month Behind Me

As you read this, you have me today weighing 234 lbs.  Just a month ago, I could describe my weight at 262 lbs.  Today, I have enough money to pay my rent and cover my bills, buy enough food for my partner Tamara and I, and live fairly comfortably.  Were I to rely upon the wages earned at my day-to-day job, I could not say this.  It is possible only because of the care and concern of 57 patrons, who consider my writing, my philosophy and my diligence in educating others in role-playing to be a sufficient reason to offer support.

I know most of my supporters personally, through the blog's comments, through the online campaign, through facebook and the like.  When I could, I've tried to be here to answer questions, offer direct advice, even speak face-to-face in some cases.  So when I say, thank you, please believe me when I say, "thank-you," I have your faces, your expressions, your smiles and your approving glances in my mind, as well as your names and your words.

I would also like to thank those who have lent a hand in the past, in other ways.  Who have given me the advice I needed, or said the words I needed to hear in my difficult times.  I do not understand, when I hear some people make a distinction between "online" and "the real world."  This is nonsense, borne of an inability to recognize that we do not need to be physically with people to recognize that all these people we know are alive and struggling with their own problems.  They have come home from their jobs and they have strained their strength to the maximum ~ and yet, whether in person or through a convenient media, they have taken the time to give an empathic moment of support, to give of themselves, to remember that I am here, and to speak kindly and warmly to me when I have strained myself.

This is what Patreon has done for me.  Patreon has made it possible for me to live a life as a small, common artist, to express myself as an artist will, without having to sacrifice myself or my singular pleasures for the sake of a world that would have us all in harness, all the time.  That is why I am saying thanks today.  Thank you.  Your dollars are paying for the roof over my head.  Your dollars are paying for the meat and bread on my dinner plate.  And you, with your comments, with your words of support, make me feel cherished and ~ embarrassing as it may be to admit it ~ even loved.

This is why I keep finding reasons to ask, what else can I do?  What else can I provide?  I had a really wonderful year in 2019.  I was able to write freely for many days at a time, because while managing my affairs and finding support where I was able, my Patreon followers were always there, always by my side ... and always reading me.

I feel confident that if there were something else I could do, you would tell me.  October was a strain.  Getting my body back in shape for kitchen work, I have every one of you to thank for my not having to work 40 hours a week.  I frankly don't think I could have managed it.  But I didn't have to.  Four days, and not five, were enough ~ are enough.  My friends, you are saving my body as well as my mind.  Thank you.

November, I expect, will be better.  Trimming down a lot, it's not so hard to stand on my feet all day.  Every muscle in my body is strengthening, tightening ... and as the end of the day comes, I'm less needful to collapse and nap my evenings away, rather than writing on my blog or actually producing new, interesting game designs.  I expect that as my body continues to tone, I'll find my energy with each week.  And that energy is something I want to put towards all the things my readers are used to seeing from me.

You've gotten me through this rough time.  Now, so long as I don't injure myself [fingers crossed], I should be able to get back on my hobby horse and rock for all I'm worth.

And with a cheerful demeanour, because I feel cherished, I can't resist using a couple pictures to express my day.  These are not from my place of work; I have no intention directly posting anything from behind the curtain of my job.  But yet the message is clear.  Kitchen work is messy, and full of fire and sharp objects.  Food, however, is wonderful ~ and an art all its own.  It is why I've frequently drifted back to that industry when I couldn't find work writing or otherwise using my brain.  At least, it brings pleasure to people.