Monday, April 30, 2007

Tressa's speech

Just a reminder of Tressa the Red's speech to you:

Ah, Welcome. Sorry about all of that. Part of the rub, you know. Comes with the house. I haven't found any way to turn it off. Congratulations on getting through it-no one else has yet. Except me, of course. How can I help you?

Yes. I know. It seems there's a leak. Between this world and this "Earth" you visitors hail from. I can only imagine it is the work of the Sea Hags, but I can't be sure as there's so much magic around the Devil's Cross-that I can't quite pick that out.
If it is their dark magic, elemental sorcery can't counter it. The two forces just don't mix. The only way to cancel one of their spells is to destroy them. Even that won't return Caribdus to the way it was-I don't know any way of doing that-but it should stop the leak and put an end to their terror at the very least. I've actually been slowing down the leak by treating they symptoms instead of the disease, so to speak, but it's trying work. Doesn't leave me with much to go out and actually try to fight the hags. Plus, if a whole Kraken fleet and over 50 archmages couldn't do it well...
I don't suppose you've got any carroway fruit do you? That stuff is great for restoring my energies.
Anyway, I've put together the first piece of the puzzle. Seems their black magic is all about weird rituals and so forth. A glass of water from another world poured of the Devil's Cross makes the witches come out of the sea. That's not such a great idea though because I suspect they'll arise as gargantuans as they did against the Kraken. You'd need some mighty powerful magic, maybe some ship's cannons, to take them down.
You can probably find water from another world on one of the wrecks that didn't make it out of the Flotsam Sea. For it to summon the hags you have to pour it over the ruins of Ograpog and speak the witches true names. I'm afraid I haven't met anyone yet who knows them-so many people from Ograpog died in the flood it's difficult to find anyone who knew them or witnessed their trial. I know. I've tried.
There is one thing that might help, though. There's a relic called the Tears of Lys. It's a gem said to grant visions to those in need. It's possible the device could tell you the witches true names. Last I heard it was in the possession of a cute fire mage named Tomas de Orinjo. Tomas serves aboard a privateer working in and around the Gray Isles. I don't know what it would take to make Tomas part with the relic though. Such a thing is nearly priceless.

Now, go save the world, handsome.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Death and other funny stories

SO I just had some random thoughts about the last few sessions...

Character death is always better when it is not really your character that is dying. The last fight was a bad one and I expected some folks might did a good job though. The two softest targets were the ones which bit the dust, and they also happened to be the two mutants in the group, so it was sort of inevitable in some ways.

One thing I did want to mention though was the fact that I notice a certain tendency for gamers to want to go after the biggest bad guy(s) right away. In a superhero game this is normally easy to accomplish since the characters can often move quickly to the opponent they choose. However, it is not always a good idea to go after the leader first when he has a horde of agents. Why?

Well, first off it's not very genre. In the comic books they always fight through the mooks. But that's not really the best reason.

Some honcho types like to sit out of the fight, perhaps judging the opposition, perhaps they don't want to get their hands dirty, perhaps they just want to direct instead of fight. Taking the fight to them immediately draws them into the combat...and if it happens they are a good fighter you just made your job harder.

But the best reason is that, at least in Champions, agent-types are often heavy on offense but low on defense. That is, they can often dish out a lot of damage, but usually can't take it. They are easy to hit and go down for good with one or two hits. Boss-types are rarely like that. So for instance:

Lets say you are fighting 10 agents with blasters and a superstrong brick dude. The 10 agents can deal out 9d6 damage per hit, the brick can do say 12d6 or so. Tactically it makes more sense to take out the 10 guys first, because even though they do less damage, they can be easily disposed of. It might take you a Turn or even two to beat down the brick, and in the mean time you are getting blasted by 10 guys, who even if speed 3 will probably lay about 12 hits per Turn.
On the other hand, if you can take out 2 or 3 agents each phase, in no time you have reduced your damage potential to just the one guy punching you.

Champions is one of the most tactically rich games I have ever encountered...but it's hard to really see all your options unless you are familiar with the rules. A lot of players think they are mostly limited to using their main attack every phase and thats about it. I recommend to anyone picking up the Combat Handbook, it will really amaze you what is possible and I think make everyone a better fighter. Believe me, if I played my villains as smart as i could knowing the rules, you'd get beat all the time.

That has some relevance to El Picaro's death, because the strategy of just poking the brick every turn got him killed. What could he have done different? Well, being a fencer his best strategy would have been to hold his action and block the spear thrusts. He was faster, but that doesn't mean he HAS to go first. Plus, fighting defensively with a higher SPD meant that he could take advantage every time Warrior missed or did not have a phase at the same time. El Picaro could ill afford to take even a single hit from Warrior, but Warrior could take many from Picaro. Therefore the best strategy is to use your superior speed to defend and riposte when the opportunity presented itself.

I am willing to lend anyone who wants my Combat Handbook, but I also encourage you to get your own. If you want to borrow mine, just ask me.

The mini-adventure I will run on the 14th will put you one the other side of the will be agent types. Agents fall down you will have to use teamwork and brains if you fight any supers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Just a reminder

Just posting it here as a reminder. I won't be able to GM on May 14th. Comment here to claim that date for a one off.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I went back and labeled all the champions logs with a "champions" tag. Just click on that tag on the side column if you want to get caught up with our previous exploits.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Lots of name generators

Seventh Sanctum - Name Generators
A whole bunch to use. I'm keeping this open on my browser next time I GM.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Well. I have the final entry of the Journal for Warhammer here, covering the last two sessions. I was not present for the last part of it, so I sort of pieced it together from information told me by Shawn and Tim...someone was supposed to give me a more detailed account but the person who shall remain anonymous but whose name starts with a T and ends in an M never came through. If it is partially or wholly innacurate...too bad because it's now written history and in a year or two the only account that will be remembered is MINE.

Journal- Party Favours

The above mentioned rest came after a long hard night of fighting and then a harder day of searching, watching, and trying to get the dwarf healed. The last part may have been the toughest of all the problems.
The necromancer was not quite as fearsome as he supposed himself to be; in fact after he summoned some skeletons to keep us at a distance, he tended to fizzle out on his attempts at spell casting, no better than a certain journeyman wizard I could name. Perhaps not even so good.
The skeletons were a mere annoyance, simply slowing down our pursuit of the fiend. Actually, one of them hit Furdok pretty good while he attempted to wade through them, but it was a lucky blow and he did eventually force himself through while the rest cleaned up the remaining skeletons. I got a couple good shots in on the dark mage, but once Furdok closed with him I was unable to provide further support without risking hitting the dwarf.
Unfortunately for Furdok, the necromancer was able to summon enough foul sorcery to, at the time I thought, kill him. Luckily, this was not the case, but it was close enough that I believe if Ulfred had not rushed to his aide, Furdok might have perished there in the filthy sewers. As it was, Volrad was able to “cleanse” the fiend with his magical fire, and the threat was ended.
He also “cleansed” the rest of the lair of its taint with fire while we searched for any clues. We came up mostly blank, and once we had determined that there were no further leads, we headed back to the cannon project warehouse. Once there, it began to dawn on us that we had been set up. Oskar, the snitch who put us on to the “saboteurs” in the first place, was nowhere to be found. The workers at the project had no idea who we were. We had been led deliberately to the hidden lair, perhaps to get us killed. If so, we have been underestimated, as we often are.
Luckily, the head of the project was willing to listen to our story, and though he kicked us out, he did not have us arrested as he might have. Instead, he chose to at least give enough credence to our tale to put us on Oskar’s trail and let us go on our way. The problem was, Oskar was fled from his home and we had little hope of tracing him.
Options were becoming limited. The dwarf wanted to go to the Temple of Shallya to get healed while we cleaned up and pondered our next move. The problems with that plan were manifold. First, the dwarf is tightfisted to the extreme and was unwilling to pay for the services, second he was unwilling to even get cleaned up and bandaged so his wounds would not be infected, and thirdly he has no possible way of being diplomatic about any of his irritating quirks.
So I begged a few gold crowns from the rest of the group (except for Ulfred…he was uncharacteristically unwilling to part with his crowns) and went to the Temple myself to…donate…to the priestesses in order to get them to not only heal Furdok but see if they could cleanse his mind of this sudden fear of water he had apparently developed. It was not quite as bad as I thought it would be…in fact it cost about 20 gold crowns, 7 of which I donated to the cause, but I would probably have gone higher because it was worth it just to get him to take a bath.
Which he did…Shallya came through wonderfully and Furdok was freed from the shackles of his own mind. I wonder if I can get them to cleanse him of his cheapness as well? This might be harder to do since he did realize afterwards how I had set him up, although I think he was grateful for it in retrospect.
Anyway, the rest of the fellows returned to the Inn to get some rest before the party. I decided to check out “The Maze” since I had heard that Oskar may have fled there, and it seemed like a likely hiding spot for Rolph as well. This proved to be a bad idea, and I nearly got lost, so I retraced my steps and left that for another time.
I went back to the Reaver’s and awoke my companions, and wrote a little bit while they got their costumes on for the party. We arrived a little bit after 9, and spent some time “hobnobbing” as the men call it. I met a merchant named Oldenhaller who seemed nice and possibly a good contact for future business relations. Konrad met the man who had replaced Randolph Vogt on the cannon project, and oddly enough Furdok met the Sheriff.
As it got later, and the Countess arrived, I began to get nervous, having not yet seen signs of the younger Vogt though the elder was in evidence. After a few false hopes, I saw a man in a blue costume arguing with Marshal Wolfhart, the man Konrad had been talking to. When I asked him about it, he feigned as though it were unimportant, but I was not convinced. A few minutes later I saw them head upstairs to the gallery and, concerned, I tugged on Ulfred and followed them up the stairs.
It was hard to get through the crowd, and so by the time we got up there the man in blue (who I was now pretty much convinced was Rolph) had assassinated the Marshal. He then clambered down a tapestry and made his escape from the hall through the stunned crowd. I attempted to pursue him, but somehow he was able to outpace me! I have never seen such a thing from a man before, unless he was also a mutant. This is of course not out of the realm of possibility given the gods Rolph has turned to.
He lost me in the crowd, once again foiling and frustrating any attempt we have made to apprehend him. Our only recourse was to try to use any resource we could to find and/or stop him. This included telling the authorities what we knew about Vogt, having the engineers check and recheck the cannon, and oddly enough speaking to his father Randolph.
Randolph approached Ulfred after the ruckus and seemed genuinely concerned about the safety of the cannon and his son’s questionable activities. Although he did confirm our suspicions about his son, he did not really give us any help in finding him, so I can’t say for certain he is innocent in all this. Hard to say.
In any case, we were left with nothing but attending the cannon ceremony, which we figured could only go badly given our abject failure in stopping any previous parts of Rolph’s plans and schemes. And as we expected, it went horribly bad. The cannon blew up. Konrad and Ulfred were injured very badly, and I had to rush to Ulfred’s aide from my position overlooking the bridge. Thus I was unmounted and busy tying off bandages when the mutants and Daemonettes erupted from the below and began their assault.
Of course, as we launched into our vigorous defense of ourselves and the people around us from the attack, an even bigger threat appeared…some kind of hideous abomination created out of the flesh and bones of Vogt’s victims was making it’s way through the crowd, slowly and methodically and eating people whole as it went. I did not see this thing at first…and in fact I may have been eaten myself if I had not been warned at the last minute that it was behind me.
As I scrambled away from it’s gaping maw, towards Noddin and Volkrad (who had been trying in vain to kill the thing with his magic), it suddenly erputed in a shower of gore. From it’s remains stepped the nightmare we had all been fearing, the Red Flayer itself. Huge and fearsome, it screamed in rage and set about trying to kill the nearest person it could find, which unfortunately happened to be Konrad.
Luckily, by this point the rest of our group had nearly finished off the mutants and daemonettes, though at the cost of some serious wounds. They quickly rushed in to try to save Konrad…though it seemed too late. Volkrad and I did our best to provide fire support, but the creature seemed to be cutting through us like wheat. Poor Gerlach was brutally slain. The demon stood triumphant and stood ready to mercilessly slay my wounded and dying companions who lay bleeding at his feet.
I took a deep breath and knocked an arrow. I knew this was my last chance. If I failed, all we fought for would be lost, as would the lives of those I had come to think of as my friends. I could not, would not, fail as I had failed before. I took my aim, and I let the arrow fly.
Perhaps my prayers to the gods were heard. My aim was true. My arrow struck the demon prince right in the heart and buried itself deep into it’s flesh. It let out a scream, and turned as if it was going to try to reach out and tear my heart from my chest in revenge…but instead it fell and died, it’s corrupt body dissipating and returning to the void from which it came.
But I only had a moment to savor my victory, then I had to rush to the aid of my grievously wounded companions. It took every ounce of knowledge I had learned about human anatomy, but the will of my friends to live is nearly legendary, especially Ulfred who I think simply refuses to die despite any injury he may take. Though tired, wounded, and badly shaken by the confrontation with the nightmare demon, they were on their feet again.
In theory, Vogt was still out there and needed to be brought to justice for this heinous crime. How to find him though? The answer was simple…follow the swath of destruction the abomination had left in its wake. No skill was needed for this, the path was so obvious a child could have tracked it back to its origin. We were unprepared, however, for the point of that origin when we discovered it:
The Reaver’s Return.
How? Ralph had been literally right under our feet the entire time and we had no idea. His lair was in the basement of the very refuge we had used as our home while staying in Nuln, and we had never had a clue. What’s more, we were unprepared for the sight which greeted us upon entering the cellar from which the beast had so obviously emerged.
Ralph was dead. This simply saved us the trouble. However, his killer was none other than Liebnitz, the corrupt priest we had slain in Middenheim. Sort of. By sort of I mean we had sort of killed him and it was sort of Liebnitz. His body was that of the incredibly fast fat man in black who had dogged us since Altdorf, but embedded in his chest was the face of the evil traitor Liebnitz, who had somehow become part of this other person. I don’t know how this happened, and I doubt I will ever know. We did not wait for any explanation or exposition on his part…as one we fell upon him with murderous intent, determined to stamp out his evil for once and all. Our grim fury at his acts lent us the strength, despite our wounded state, to slay him before he even had a chance to really react.
The chalice was ours, for better or for worse. Now we simply had to figure out how to get rid of it.
It was at this point that my suspicions about the Lady Katherine were confirmed. We had not seen her since our arrival, but she chose this moment to appear on the stairs and congratulate us on our victory. Then she suggested that we give her the chalice for disposal. We of course refused this offer. She then suggested that she would take it from our corpses if we did not give to her.
To be fair, we probably looked a sorry lot at that moment. Nearly every one of us was ragged, bandaged, limping, and covered in blood much of which was our own. Still, we had just killed a demon prince. Sorceress or not, Lady Katherine would have been wise to consider who she was dealing with before she made such threats. Her squad of mutants and daemonettes was vanquished (some simple deduction post-battle confirmed that she was a worshipper of Slaanesh and responsible for the attack, in opposition to the machinations of the Khornite forces which had been working towards the freedom of the Red Flayer), so she had no back up but her own sorcery.
This did not prove to be sufficient against the weight of our numbers and anger, and she perished as well, a victim of her own hubris and greed for power. It was not difficult to gather up the evidence we needed to present to the Countess of all the various nefarious goings on which had been occurring in her city. She was not ungrateful for our assistance in saving Nuln from the forces of Chaos, and gifted us with a warehouse in Nuln per our request, thus making the launch of our mercantile enterprise a sure thing. The chalice will be remanded to Light College in Altdorf for safe keeping.
As for us? Perhaps with the Red Flayer vanquished we can retire from this dangerous life of adventure and enjoy the fruits of our victories. Furdok will no doubt excel in the business we have acquired…though we currently have nothing but the barest skeleton of an enterprise I am sure that under his guidance and with the help of the rest, it will be built into a significant concern given time.
As for myself, I must consider the possibility of returning to my people. I don’t know if I am prepared to face them yet, to explain the death of my brother and my failure to prevent or avenge it. Nor am I sure that I would be ready to return to the life they have planned for me. These are hard questions, and ones that I must carefully weigh before I decide what to do.

Monday, April 02, 2007

There are 512 Vampires


Then the calculations begin. If a single vampire fed on a single human in the first month, this would create two vampires -- and decrease the human population by one, leaving it at 536,870,911 - 1 = 536,870,910. In the second month, those two vampires would each feed, transforming two people into vampires -- so you get four vampires and a human population of 536,870,911 - 3 = 536,870,908. So you can see where this is headed. The vampire population is increasing in a geometric progression, and the population of humans is similarly decreasing -- and at that rate, the authors calculate, the entire human population would be transformed into vampires in only 30 months. QED!

Sure, humans could increase their numbers by having children -- but the birth rate could never keep pace. Thus, the authors' implacable logic leads them to only one conclusion:

We conclude that vampires cannot exist....

This would seem to strike a horrible blow to the whole concept of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, eh? And indeed, when this study came out last year, Buffy fans worldwide wept hot, bitter tears.

But wait! The whole point behind the Buffy universe is that there's a slayer out there killing vampires and keeping their population down. This is something the authors didn't consider in their paper. So couldn't a vampire killer simply slaughter vampires as fast as they're created?

Sure -- except then the math gets even more interesting.

Because the thing about the Buffy universe is that the population of vampires is reasonably stable. There are a fair number of vampires around, but not enough to overwhelm the earth. But as it turns out, if you look at that chart above, there's a very narrow vampire-population window at which equilibrium can be kept.

That's because powers of two increase slowly at first, then at a hellacious rate. Think of it this way: According to the numbers calculated by the academics, at month five in the year 1600, there are only 16 vampires. That's such a paltry number than any self-respecting slayer could quickly dispatch them in a few evenings, and the vampire menace would permanently be extinguished. But at month 12 -- only a few months later -- the number of vampires, unchecked, rises to 2,048. That's probably too many vampires for a slayer to squelch in a single month.

So the really sweet spot seems to be months eight to ten -- when the vampire population would range from 128 to 512, respectively. Those seem like realistic numbers of vampires for a slayer to kill in a single month, assuming she kills 2 to 8 per night. With that kill-ratio, a slayer each month could kill enough vampires to knock the population back a month or two. This would keep the vampire menace sustainable -- neither fully depleting it nor letting it race out of control.

So there you go. I've calculated the precise number of vampires that probably exist in a Buffy universe: No more than 512. Granted, this number could change depending on one's assumptions of how many vampires a single slayer can kill in a month, or how many slayers exist at any one point in time, or how many other people might be killing vampires in addition to the slayer(s). I'm not actually a Buffy fan, so I'd be interested to hear what other assumptions that more-informed fans might make -- and calculations would ensue.