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Monthly Archives: October 2019

30. International Festival of Comics and Games in Lodz

fk-baner-enI guess I should write something about it here, just to document I was there.

Because we went there on the last weekend of September. And with we, I mean me, my wife, and our two kids. So that was an adventure.

Last time we were there was just before the birth of our older son, so he technically was there before. The difference was that now he could see what was happening around him. He seemed to like it. He told me he wanted to come back next year.

I was less impressed. They moved the venue from Atlas Arena to the International Conference center, and I am not sure if that didn’t cut down on the room that was available for people and shops. On the other hand it was about as crowded as before, so that didn’t seem to change. There also seemed to be a lack of actually interesting content there. Maybe it was because I was just too jaded, but I found it amusing that after desperately looking for something to spend money on I left having bought a cup of beer, a few snacks, and some Pad Thai, while my nominally non-comic reading wife left with two bags full of loot (half of which were books for our kids, but she did buy The Death of Stalin and some other hardcover about a French revolutionary).

I think the main issue was that I didn’t like the crowd. As in, the sheer amount of people. I didn’t feel like I could properly browse, first carrying my son, and afterwards on my own, and to be fair, the offers they had were kind of meagre as well. What I didn’t see much off where 2nd hand sellers with interesting offers. Even the ones that were there sold most interesting books at prices that were like new.

The boardgame stuff was just there, but not very large. There were a few stands with roleplaying stuff, but that too was overpriced and not in my ballpark. I briefly was thinking of finally buying the 5e books and then shrugged, yet again. Somehow I don’t have the will to get into this system. In hindsight I think I should have bought a few miniatures, but I had to carry around my son and he didn’t want to stare at this boring stuff with me.

I guess I am getting old. I remember the times when I just was visiting Lodz and the Festival was still in the Dom Kultury. There seemed so much interesting stuff there back then. This one felt kind of boring.

I think it might be a problem with what this con really was though. It started as a way for geeks from this city to meet and do something interesting, but by now geek has gone mainstream. It tries to be a con for comics, and games, and anything remotely geeky, but that just means there’s not much space to focus on specifics.

Interesting things to note:

  • they got some brewery to make specific festival beer. A rather nice APA, although I was terribly thirsty at that point and most likely would have drunk anything that looked drinkable.
  • there was at least one vendor that sold Famicom cartridges. Not even NES, but actually Famicom. There also were multiple stands that sold basically nothing but Japanese snacks. I remember them from last time as well, so they seem to make money peddling mochi.
  • there’s a Call of Cthulhu Con (CarcosaCon) in English, taking place in Poland. I was briefly thinking of maybe attending when I found the leaflet, but then realized that I might not be the target audience. The whole thing looked a bit too expensive and too produced for me. They even offered an airport shuttle from Berlin airport.
  • we parked just across the street, at Sukcesja. Sukcesja is the most stupid mall there is in this town, a completely misplaced and half-dead shopping area that tries to ape the look of the much more sensible Manufaktura. We again got struck how badly designed this place really is. When we tried to leave the building with the pram we had to get through the night exit in the back, because there was no other way to get out of the building with a pram. When we tried to get back later it turned out this exit only opened to the outside, and to even get to the elevators we had to manually carry the pram up two flights of stairs at the main entrance. Because all the escalators, even those clearly made for wheelchair use, had signs banning prams. I hate this place.

[Labyrinth Lord] Æthereal Marauder

Ethereal_marauderI recently reread the 3.0 Monster Manual entry for the Ethereal Marauder (and afterwards this post by The Alexandrian) and realized that I really like the idea behind this monster.

I don’t think I ever gave this beast a second thought before, but lately I have been thinking about the Ethereal Plane and ways to use it, and all of a sudden a whole adventure fell into place here.

Imagine… A city, or a large castle, with long narrow hallways or walkways. And all of a sudden people start disappearing. There are horrifying sounds and weird noises at night, blood spatters, but no body left. Something is not right here.

It turns out there is an Æthereal Marauder on the prowl….

(written with an Æ because if you have the chance to use it, why wouldn’t you?)

That’s an amazing idea, a truly frightening monster, especially at low levels. Imagine trying to hunt for whatever you think might be killing people, when all of a sudden something like a three-pronged velociraptor shifts shifts into view and is charging at you. Then, after biting off an arm or something it just disappears into the night and is gone.

You also could do some nice stuff with the properties of the Ethereal Plane, if you wanted to. Maybe the thing is hanging out in the Ethereal Shadow of a building that was destroyed weeks, or maybe years ago. How to even reach it if it hangs out on top of a tower that isn’t there anymore?

Æthereal Marauder
No. Enc.: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120′ (40′)
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6+3
Save: F3
Morale: 6
Hoard Class: None

These reptiloid creatures live and hunt on the Ethereal Plane. They generally are colored in blue to violet hues, are about 4 feet tall. While clearly intelligent in their tactics they speak no known language and do not seem to have a discernible culture. Survivors of their attacks report hearing an eerie, high whine before being attacked.
Marauders have the ability to shift between Ethereal and Material Planes at will, but will take 1 round to do so. Their usual method of hunting is to lurk in the Ethereal Plane until appropriate prey shows itself, then quickly shift to the material plane to attack their victim there flat-footed, then to retreat back to the Ethereal Plane. They have darkvision and prefer to hunt at night.

 

What if this is actually just a class of beings? The three-pronged ones are just those that were seen by survivors. I bet the depths of the deep Ethereal could hold dozens of variations of this monster.

d10 Variations on the Æthereal Marauder

  1. it’s the three-pronged velociraptor
  2. it looks like the lichen covered skeleton of a triceratops man
  3. it looks like a clown, but with a vertical mouth that goes all the way down the stomach
  4. it’s a gestalt being made up of silver butterflies with razorsharp wings
  5. it looks like a human statue, but only parts of it will appear in the Material Plane
  6. it looks vaguely humanoid but has no face and elongated limbs
  7. an ogre-sized goblin
  8. a writhing mass of teethed tentacles
  9. a jet-black figure that eyes won’t focus on
  10. a neon-green praying mantis

[Labyrinth Lord] Campaign on the Borderlands – Session 1

B2ModuleCoverLately I played the first session of what hopefully will be more in a new Labyrinth Lord game. The players were all from work, although I don’t think I talked to them before we got together. Someone asked for a GM for a Polish language RPG on our company-internal board game list, and I followed that up with the question if somebody wanted to play in English. In the end instead of a Polish language game it ended up an English language one with me as the GM. That was a bit odd.

We decided to go for D&D like fantasy, and so I decided to dust off my Labyrinth Lord materials. I recently had been working more on my private set of house rules, but that one was far from ready, and Labyrinth Lord has free versions available after all.

As most of the people were beginners I decided to go very, very basic: we are currently playing B2 Keep on the Borderlands in the World of Greyhawk. I decided to add some stuff from various places to B2 (including the map of the Castellan’s Keep from Dyson), and after trying and failing to situate the Keep in the Yeomanry like Return to the Keep of Borderlands proposes (who the hell put that location in there, it doesn’t make any sense!), it now is set right next to it, just at the border to the Hool Marshes and the Dreadwood. Anna B. Meyer located the Viscounty of Eor from I2 there, and I actually like it. in my campaign it’s a half-forgotten part of Keoland barely kept alive by the trade routes to the Yeomanry and the Hold of the Sea Princes.

Campaign Date: 11th of Goodmonth, 576 C.Y.

The situation: 

Kendall Keep is situated in the Viscounty of Eor, south of the Dreadwood, and West of the Hool Marshes. The Kingdom of Keoland would have given up on these lands centuries ago already, but for the trade with the lands of the Yeomanry, and the Hold of the Sea Princes in the South. It is far from the heartland of the kingdom, in what can only be described as Borderlands, an old and slightly dilapidated fortress that still looks rather impressive. Lately reports have indicated that this is a place where fame and fortune can be found. 

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Overheard in the Dungeon

The group was hunting for bounties on Goblins. The gnome ranger scouts a bit too far ahead and manages to find himself behind a group of humanoid guards. The rest of the group comes to his rescue, and a battle ensues. The half-orc assassin tries to use her language skills to make them surrender.

After about two rounds of battle the following dialogue ensued:

Fighter: “Wait, she’s speaking orcish to them.

Ranger: “Yeah, she’s a half-orc, we established that in the tavern.”

Fighter: “No, what I mean is that if she’s speaking orcish, then these aren’t goblins.”

Ranger: “Damn, that means we aren’t getting paid for these.”

Druid: “He Dwarf, stop attacking, those aren’t goblins!”

Cleric (mid attack): “I. DON’T. CARE!”