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Of My Favorite Characters – Turg-Hath

Reverb Gamers asks:

Describe your all-time favorite character to play. What was it about him/her/it that you enjoyed so much?

Wow – where can I begin?  I have so many “favorite character(s)” that I can’t possibly choose one.  In fact, I may have a follow-up post or six to this.

Let me focus this post on one character that sticks out in my mind: Turg-Hath.  At the time, we were playing 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, using the Player’s Option: Spells & Magic book.  Andy, our DM, allowed me to use The Complete Book of Humanoids for this character.

Turg-Hath was a goblin shaman who could see and speak with the spirits of the dead.  His life began in a goblin tribe, of course.  From his earliest childhood, he was always an outsider.  The superstitious goblins feared his “visions of the dead,” and, in typical goblin fashion, chose to bully and ostracize him.  The goblin chieftain, however, saw the value in Turg-Hath’s spirit-sight, and protected him just enough to keep him alive.  Then, one vision so angered the chieftain that he banished Turg-Hath from the tribe’s lands.  The fact that the goblin word for “banish” is the same as “narrowly escape death by the enraged chieftain’s spear” never came up in his future conversations.

He managed to avoid his kinsmen’s hunting party for the next two weeks until they finally lost interest and returned home.  Starving and afraid for his life, Turg-Hath wandered for another month.  The spirits around him changed.  No longer did he see only menacing goblinoids, orcs, and giants.  Now, he saw other races that had been mostly unfamiliar to him: humans, halflings, and elves.  The strange humanoid spirits were no less disdainful toward the goblin, but they were not as threatening.  Indeed, some directed him toward a human settlement.

Turg-Hath wandered onto the property of Prescott, a respected elder of the town.  Moved with pity, Prescott took him in and nursed him back to health.  Turg-Hath was confused by the old man’s kindness, for he had never known anyone to show compassion to him.  Intrigued, and out of a sense of indebtedness, he accepted Prescott’s offer to remain with him as his servant.  From Prescott Turg-Hath learned the common tongue, human customs, the ways of “civilized peoples,” and, eventually, the concept of friendship.

Prescott’s standing in the village earned Turg-Hath a modicum of respect, but not acceptance.  Other than Prescott, the humans kept him at arm’s length.  The mayor came to see Turg-Hath as a good soul, and began trusting his advice.

Prescott, unfortunately, fell ill.  Turg-Hath remained at his friend’s side, and used the power of the spirits to ease his pain during his final days.  However, as all mortals do, Prescott lost the battle, and died.  In his grief, Turg-Hath noticed something odd: Prescott was still with him.  Intuition had led Turg-Hath to bind Prescott as his very first spirit guide.

Days turned into weeks, which in turn became a couple of seasons.  While Turg-Hath knew he had a place to live, he was aware that he did not have a home.  The humans never welcomed him into their village, and with Prescott’s death, were becoming more cold toward him.

At the start of the campaign, he was a representative of the mayor of the small human village in which he lived.  The rest of the party came to the village, and were hired by the mayor, who sent his representative with them.  At first, they were not very accepting of him either, especially the female human ranger who just happened to have “goblinoids” as her favored enemy.

What fate will befall Turg-Hath?  Will his new companions ever get past the suspicion that the mayor placed his burden on their backs?  Will he ever find a place where he truly belongs?

And you, dear readers… do you wish to hear more of Turg-Hath’s story?

 
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Posted by on Friday, 6 January 2012 in Gaming

 

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Why I Game

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #2: What is it about gaming that you enjoy the most? Why do you game? Is it the adrenaline rush, the social aspect, or something else? (Courtesy of Atlas Games. Visit us at www.atlas-games.com)

This question, posed on Reverb Gamers’ Facebook page, has a complex answer, as far as my impetus for gaming – complex enough that to answer it fully would require more than a blog.  Nonetheless, here is the abridged answer.

Adrenaline rush?  Sure, I get them often when I game.  Social aspect?  Absolutely; it’s no coincidence that my players are also my closest friends.  But it’s very much the something else mentioned in the question.

I game to exercise my imagination, to delve into worlds unknown, to live as another person.  Imagination and creativity are a very important aspect in my love of gaming.  I am not a very artistic person, and gaming affords me that creative outlet.  I love creating new worlds, populating them with the people with whom the player characters will interact, learning about these people’s personalities, motives, dreams and desires, uncovering the schemes plotted by them, and so on.  Then, I love seeing my players’ reactions to this world, as well as the peoples’ reactions to the player characters.

I game to exercise my mind.  There is a lot of math involved in most role-playing games.  Picking apart the rules, seeing how they interact, and using them in ways to create the unexpected.  Also beautiful to me is hacking the rules – changing them where I see problems, sanding off the rough edges, or cutting off the warts.  That is fun!

I game to get together with my friends.  We catch up on the happenings in each other’s lives.  We discuss current events.  We share our personal triumphs and tragedies.  And, of course, we game, working together to write the story of our characters and the worlds they inhabit.

Why do I game?  Because of who I am: a gamer.

 
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Posted by on Wednesday, 4 January 2012 in Gaming, Personal

 

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RPG Moments Of Glory – Our Desperate Attack On The Vampiress

This is a story of a battle.  The battle took place in a 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign.  The party consisted of two player characters: Fred’s paladin, and my wizard; and one non-player character, a cleric.  This was more than a decade ago, so I don’t recall details like our character levels, or the campaign world.  I do believe we were between 6th and 8th level, and were playing in Ravenloft.

Our foe was a vampiress, who had previously charmed the paladin and tricked him into drinking a goblet of her blood.  Time was against him, and he would transform into a vampire under her command the next night with the rise of the full moon.  His only hope was her immediate destruction that evening in her lair.  If we failed, he would forever lose his soul to the darkness.

We knew the location of her lair.  We fought our way through her defenses, and entered her sanctuary.  The lid of her sarcophagus slid to the side, and she emerged.  Words were exchanged, hollow promises made, but we stood firm and attacked, desperate to save our friend.

The battle turned against us from the start.  My wizard’s spells were ineffective against her magic resistance and saving throws.  The cleric’s undead turning was shrugged off with a derisive laugh.  The paladin’s divine powers and sword blows turned aside like a thrown pillow.

The cleric fell first, his faith stronger than his body.  The cursed paladin fell in the same round, valiantly fighting to the end.  In 2nd edition, you could go as low as -10 hit points and still live, and both hung onto life.  That left my wizard as the final party member to stand against her, desperately fighting for his friend.

His spells exhausted, he was brought down to 1 hit point.  He dropped his dagger, ineffective in the battle so far.

“I want to draw my wooden stake,” I told Andy, the DM.

“OK, you draw your stake,” he replied nonchalantly.

“We have called shots, right?”

Skeptically, he raised an eyebrow and answered, “Yeah, but you know there’s a huge penalty for that.”

“I know, but desperate times and all that, right?”

“OK, call it, then, Mark.”

“I charge her, raising the wooden stake in both hands above my head, and aim straight for her heart!”  Andy wasn’t the only one skeptical at that moment.  I was sure a TPK was on the way, and Fred shook his head in resignation.

Andy checked his charts (remember, this WAS 2nd Ed), smirked at me, shrugged, and said, “Well, you don’t really have a chance, Mark.  The only way can succeed is if you roll a natural 20.  Anything less, and she grabs you and crushes you like an insect.”

I took a deep breath, “OK.  I still do it.”

Fred spoke up, “Mark, if you run, you could live, then return with backup.”

“I know, but then you’d be lost, and fighting with her.  I’m not going to let that happen as long as I live.”

Andy said, “OK… roll.”

I screamed at the top of my lungs, “To the grave for your final rest, you unholy whore!

Andy and Fred jumped back a little in surprise.

I stood, shook my d20 in my hand, and nervously let it drop to the table.

It rolled along for a foot.

It swerved to the left.

It spun for a second.

It stopped.

We looked at the die, then each other, then back to the die.

The number looked back at us…

20

 
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Posted by on Monday, 2 January 2012 in Gaming

 

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Thinking Aloud – Samurai Jack As An RPG Setting

I recently received a treat from Netflix: Disc 1 of Season 1 of Samurai Jack. I had watched it intermittently while it was on Cartoon Network and enjoyed it immensely.  While I watched the original episodes, it occurred to me that the world of Samurai Jack would be a wonderful setting for a role-playing game.

It covers so many genres.  To name but a few:

  • Fantasy From the katana-wielding Jack to the demon Aku, as well as all the magic present throughout the series, this world is rich in the fantastic.  Add to it the honor of Samurai Jack, to the obviously-evil minions of Aku, and there is a strong fantasy element here.
  • Sci-Fi It is mentioned in the series that Aku has ruled Earth for “thousands of years.”  If his reign started not too long after Samurai Jack’s battle in Episode 1, when samurai were prevalent, then he would have come to power anywhere from the 10th to the 19th century.  That’s nearly a 1000 year span.  Nevertheless, it is roughly the time of feudal Japan.  So the show occurs in our alternate future, in at least the 30th century.  This gives technology plenty of time to evolve beyond the present day.  Indeed, the show features laser weapons, space travel, and even extraterrestrial species.
  • Steampunk More than a few episodes have featured robotic cowboys, clockwork beings, and steam-infused automatons.  There are also plenty of multi-level technologies present in the same place.  All of these are hallmarks of steampunk in one form or the other.
  • Post-Apocalyptic The evils of Aku have caused untold devastation to the world and its inhabitants.  Add to that the other-worldly species that have become dominant, and you have a ruined, or at least an unrecognizable, Earth.

Given the multi-genre aspect of the setting, the system has to be capable of handling this.  What would work for this?  Again, to name but a few, from my admittedly-limited knowledge:

  • GURPS The king of generic, genre-spanning RPGs, it can handle these sorts of settings with ease.  The question is, then, can it capture the feel of the setting? It is a very mechanical, realistic system, which may be a point against it.
  • FATE Spirit of the Century, built on FATE, is an awesome system for a pulp-style game.  I love the over-the-top feeling it encourages, which definitely fits with Samurai Jack.
  • FUDGE The foundation of FATE, FUDGE can work superbly here.
  • 4E Amethyst Yes, it’s built on 4E Dungeons & Dragons, but it beautifully mixes the fantasy of D&D and the futuristic technology of a sci-fi setting.
  • 4E Gamma World This works very well for the post-apocalyptic/sci-fi feel of Samurai Jack

I know I’m missing a heck of a lot of possible systems in this list.  Do you have any suggestions for a Samurai Jack RPG?

 
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Posted by on Tuesday, 27 December 2011 in Gaming

 

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Crown Of The Winter King

This is my entry for T.W. Wombat’s Winter Is Coming Festival.  Check out both his Winter Is Coming Festival page and his blog Wombat’s Gaming Den Of Iniquity.

Charyssil was a powerful tiefling warlock who lived during the height of the Empire of Bael Turath.  Unlike her brethren, who promised their very souls to devils in exchange for their power, Charyssil made a pact with a powerful archfey – The Winter King, who had dominion over the entire season in the Feywild, including all its snows, frozen fields, ice-covered forests, and other beautiful, serene landscapes.

Charyssil joined with a band of adventurers, and over time, her power grew.  Not coincidentally, she was drawn to locations and creatures of the cold northern lands, and the tall, frigid peaks.  She learned the secrets of elemental cold magic, and became a master crafter of enchanted items.

Seeking to earn a place in her patron’s court, Charyssil planned to create a tribute to the Winter King.  She was encouraged and assisted by her eladrin friend, the archmage Fervail.  He reasoned that imitation was the sincerest form of flattery; the Winter King, like all fey, would be more receptive if presented with a gift demonstrative of his power.  Charyssil agreed.  She forged a crown of ice from the heart of the Elemental Chaos, and imbued it with the power of the Winter King.

But the Winter King, like all fey, is a fickle being.  Rather than being flattered, the Winter King was offended that his essense was used to create a mockery and pale imitation of his own power.  Enraged, the Winter King slew Charyssil.  During the battle, Charyssil was betrayed by Fervail, who absconded with the Crown and fled back to Bael Turath.  In the centuries since, the Crown Of The Winter King has appeared and disappeared many times.  It is said that the Winter King hunts for it still, so that he may finally reclaim his shard of power.

Crown Of The Winter King Level 27
This translucent blue-crystal circlet feels cold to the touch.  When you don it, those around you get a chill, and your skin feels cold and clammy.
Item Slot: Head 1,625,000 gp
Property: Gain Resist 10 Cold
Property: Gain a +6 item bonus to Endurance checks to endure extreme cold weather
Property: Any enemy that hits you with a melee attack takes 1d10 cold damage
 
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Posted by on Thursday, 29 September 2011 in Gaming

 

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Speak Out With Your Geek Out – My Other Geek Obsessions

Wow, I made it to Day 5 of Speak Out With Your Geek Out!  How’s that for seeing things through!

So, all this week I’ve concentrated on my RPG Geek.  That’s to be expected from a blog named Elf Steaks, I suppose.  But, as is typically the case with Geeks and non-Geeks alike, I have more than one passion.  “What else do you Geek out about, BeefGriller?”  Well, I’m glad you asked!  Here, in no particular order, are the subjects I most Geek over.

  • Role-playing games  Yes, I’ll list this first.  That’s out of the way, now.  So, I’ll continue…
  • Charcoal grilling There is a reason I took the name BeefGriller.  I bought my first charcoal grill seven years ago.  I obsessed over finding the perfect way to light the charcoal, grill my steaks/chicken/pork/etc., learn about indirect grilling, and just about anything else you can think of.  (I love making grilled tomato pasta sauce.  Yes – pasta sauce.)  I think this passion is a hallmark of Geek, and I have it with charcoal grilling.
  • Cooking  Separate from grilling, by cooking I mean indoor food preparation.  To this extent, the Geek cook demands I use fresh ingredients, make recipes from scratch, and tinker with ingredients until the end result is exactly what I want.  That is Geek to me.  Oh, and I exclude cakes, cookies and candies from this category.  I can’t seem to do them properly, and, truth be told, my wife is the Baking Geek of the household.  (Sorry for outing you, Love.)
  • Computers, open-source software, and making it all work perfectly This is another huge part of my Geek.  I was a founding member of my local Linux user group, way back before Linux was on the radar of any IT group.  I’m a huge supporter of OpenBSD, and use it wherever I can.  Just last year, I bought my first Mac and haven’t looked back.  I’m also lucky enough to have turned this Geek passion into my full-time job.  While it’s not always a bed of roses, I am living the Geek dream in that regard.
  • Sudoku, Kakuro, and other logic games I can sit for hours and solve puzzle after puzzle.  I love logic, and, by extension, logic games.  I love how, given a few clues, I get to the final solution using only my brain.  Not only that, it keeps my mind sharp and helps me relax.  Plus, there are few things more fulfilling than solving a puzzle correctly.

So, that wraps up my Geek list.  What about you?  What are your Geek passions?  If you share any of mine, let’s swap stories and/or tips.

 
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Posted by on Friday, 16 September 2011 in Gaming, Personal

 

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Speak Out With Your Geek Out – My Manifesto

For Day 4 of Speak Out With Your Geek Out, I will make a few promises to myself:

  1. I will not suffer Geek Shame.  For most of my life, when people asked me about my hobbies, I usually answered with reading, grilling, computer games, computer hacking, etc., but I always shied away from the role-playing games.  No more.  I will make that one of the first things I mention, if not the first.  I’m through with Geek Shame.
  2. I will engage others in conversation about my Geek passions.  This flows from the last promise.  When people ask, “What do you mean by ‘role-playing games,'” I will explain it, to the best of my ability.  However, I must make sure that I don’t drone on, bore the questioner, and possibly drive them off.  As a geek, I do tend to get overexcited about my passions.
  3. I will try to bring people into my Geek hobbies and/or passions.  This, too, flows from the last promise.  Excitement is contagious, and if the person with whom I am conversing seems interested, I will invite them to my next game, perhaps, or loan them a rulebook.  Gaming is a social activity, after all, which is improved with more participants (to a point, of course).
  4. I will cultivate the Geek traits and interests in my daughters.  Flows from the last, again.  (Hmm, a pattern emerges?)  Being a father is a pillar of my self-definition.  I see the nascent traits in all three of my girls.  I will do my best to encourage their Geek to grow.  At the same time, I will do my best to instill in them the self-confidence that I lacked.  I must, must, must be certain not to force them into anything.  I know well enough what that is like.
  5. I will work harder to make time for my Geek passions.  (And the pattern falls!)  Real life rears its ugly head oh-too-often.  I have obligations to family, friends, work, home-upkeep, etc..  I am not complaining, but this does take up nearly all of my time.  I will work harder to live up to these obligations in a more timely manner, so as to open up the time for my Geek.

Looking over my list, it seems I want to focus on being myself at all times, teach others about my Geek hobbies, as well as bring others into the hobbies.  Perhaps I’m not being too ambitious, but I’m happy with it.

 
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Posted by on Thursday, 15 September 2011 in Gaming, Personal

 

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Speak Out With Your Geek Out – Hands Off My Dice!

BeefGriller's Dice Collection

For my third installment in Speak Out With Your Geek Out, I’ll focus on the pride of every pen-and-paper RPG gaming geek: dice!  In a previous post, I showed off my dice collection.   Now, I’d like to share some of my rules, habits and obsessions I have with my dice.

  1. Hands off my dice!  I don’t think I’m alone in this rule.  I simply don’t like other people touching my dice.  Now, if you ask, I’ll likely give you permission – that’s only good manners.  Also, if you do touch my dice without my permission, you’re certain to be blamed when the bad rolls start coming up – so don’t rub your bad luck on my dice!
  2. At the start of the gaming session, I dump all my dice out of the bag.  This is a necessity, of course.  As you can tell by the picture above, I have many, many dice – how else could I possibly…
  3. Select three complete sets to use during the game.  Mostly because I am likely to need to roll more than one of any given type of die (d6, d8, etc.), this is only practical.
  4. Before use, roll all dice until the highest number shows.  Like athletes, dice need to warm up before the game.
  5. Organize the dice by sides first, from d4 to d20, then colors, in neat rows and columns, with the highest number showing.  OK, so the d4s are put together in a semi-circle because they fit that way.  With the highest number showing, they’re more likely to roll that way, right?  My theory is that gravity causes the bottom to become more dense, effectively weighting the die in my favor.
  6. If a d20 has a run of low rolls, I have a pep talk with it.  If it continues, I give it a “time out.”  Let’s face it, all dice want to roll the best numbers.  If the d20 causes too many failures, you have to let it know that you expect better from it.  If it keeps under-performing, it obviously needs a rest.

I’ve come to realize, oddly enough, that I only do these things as a player.  As a GM, I don’t observe these rules, other than numbers 1 and 2.

How about you?  Do you have any superstitions habits for your dice?  I’d love to hear them.

 
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Posted by on Wednesday, 14 September 2011 in Gaming, Personal

 

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RPG Collection (Partial)

image

Submitted for your perusal, I give you my entry for Day 2 of Speak Out With Your Geek Out.

A big part of what defines my Geek is my love of RPGs.  You might expect this from a blog called Elf Steaks & Halfling Bacon.  But, to me at least, Geek is more than just collection – it is obsession.  It is not enough to have the most common books, you must have all.  It is not enough to have what you need, you must have what you might need.  No, scratch that – if you see an RPG book that you know you will never, ever play, but you like the artwork, or you heard a friend talk about it once, or maybe you like the designer or the dice mechanics, then you must have it.  And, come hell or high water, you must never, under any circumstances, rid yourself of any book, ever!!!

The picture you see is not my entire collection.  What you see is only the top half of those two bookcases.  And not all of my RPGs are in these two bookcases, either.  (N.B. I admit, there are some non-RPG books here.  Sue me.)  Now, I know that my collection is not the largest by any means.  But I do know that my non-geek friends don’t understand my need to buy, read and keep all of these books.  Other than obsession, I can’t really explain it.

So, to me, part of Geek is the need to collect, and never lose.

 
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Posted by on Tuesday, 13 September 2011 in Gaming, Personal

 

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I Am A Geek

Speak Out With Your Geek Out

I am a Geek.  I have been for as long as I was aware of what it means to be a Geek.

I do not advertise my Geek at work, or church, or in my neighborhood.  But, I do not deny it – not any more.  It took many, many years for me to feel confident enough to get to this point.

I imagine most of my old girlfriends would be surprised to learn that I played Dungeons & Dragons while we were dating.  I imagine that most of my high school and college friends would be just as surprised.  That was due to my Geek Shame.  I learned early on in life to hide the Geek within me.

But everything I am today I owe to my Geek.  My love of math, science and logic helped me earn my degree and get the jobs I have had since college.  My love of reading, science fiction, and fantasy has opened my mind to what could be, and provided countless hours of entertainment to myself and my family.  In my daughters, I see and encourage the growth of their imagination, and delight at their creations.  I also do my best as a father to instill in them the self-confidence I never had as a child.

My name is Mark Perotti.  I play Dungeons & Dragons, and other RPGs.  I love science fiction and fantasy.

And, I am a Geek.

This is my first post in participation of Speak Out With Your Geek Out.  Tune in tomorrow for more.

 
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Posted by on Monday, 12 September 2011 in Gaming, Personal

 

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