Monday, April 25, 2016

Downtime activities

So my current game also happens to be a lunch game with my co-workers.  Save one person, they are all brand new to tabletop rpgs, though most have experience in digital rpgs.  The party make-up is as follows:

Half-Orc Paladin - raised by Elves
Drow Bard - raised by Humans
High Elven Wizard - no real background story
Tiefling Rogue (sibling to the Barbarian) - raised by deceased, Human Father
Tiefling Barbarian (sibling to the Rogue) - raised by deceased, Human Father
Dwarf Fighter - orphaned to the military

Under normal circumstances, I'd just throw them in a couple dungeons and not worry about the social situations.  However, as it is a limited time-available game where players may not be able to play due to work requirements, I have set-up the theater of action to be close to a Human town.  This allows me to "excuse" players easily.  Also, I have allowed them to create a justification for absences so that they stay engaged in the story.  For example, the Dwarf had to miss the last two sessions where the party escorted a caravan back and forth from a trade center, bringing in the last of the winter supplies.  He spent the time preparing the cave system the town uses for storage.

So why am I telling you this?  Because we all need some downtime activities.  So here's some ideas I had.

  1. Training with a local expert - martial or skill oriented.
  2. Prepping the ______________ for the upcoming ________________.
  3. Researching a particular topic.
  4. Creating a new piece of equipment.
  5. Attending to a family members needs.
  6. Attending to a professional organizations needs.
  7. Being sick.
  8. Training animals.
  9. Summoned by local nobility - good or ill.
  10. Constructing/repairing a building. 

Mostly just some random thoughts on a random Monday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Building a magical item: Metals

Before I went on hiatus for several years due to family and work commitments, I had started this series on item construction, now I'm finishing it up.

Sometimes, you get a player who is so heavily invested in the game and character development, that little things like item construction play a critical role.  Sometimes I like this, sometimes I find it a bit frustrating, but most of the time, I'm the player asking these questions.

Since metal serves as the base for almost all weapons and armor in fantasy games, it is useful to know what does what and how.  So, here we go...

Popular Types of Construction Metal:

If you are shooting for running a game with a very ancient feel, stone, copper and bronze make for good options to look into as your primary source of weapons and armor.  As for making items in a more advanced setting, these items make for good inlays.  As do the more precious metals like silver, gold and platinum.

Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12% tin and often with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility or machinability.

Iron is relatively soft. Crude iron metal is produced in blast furnaces.  The material is significantly hardened and strengthened by impurities, in particular carbon from the smelting process. A certain proportion of carbon produces steel, which may be up to 1000 times harder than pure iron.

Steel (popular iron alloy)


Titanium is a lustrous metal with a silver color, low density and high strength. It is highly resistant to corrosion.

Mithril resembles silver but is stronger than steel, and much lighter in weight than either. It was originally introduced by the fantasy writings of Tolkien.

Adamantium and Vibranium are fictional metal alloys appearing in Marvel Comics.  The strength and uses of these "metals" has become the stuff of comic book legend.

Popular Types of Inlay Metal:

Gold is bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable and ductile.
Gold helps to improve one’s character via education and learning oneself better; as well as lessening the trauma that is sometimes associated with the situations that are experienced during which the knowledge is gained.  As it is through many necessary experiences that Gold will help one to gain knowledge. 
Legend tells us that it has masculine qualities ruled by the sun.  It is told that Topaz in a Gold setting will disperse enchantments, and that Ruby in a Gold setting may refresh one’s body by absorbing energy from the sun.
Gold is said to clear away negativity, having the ability to transform energy and negativity.  One must be prudent with its use, as it is told that it may bring greed to the soul.
Gold is traditionally called The Master Healer. It is an excellent substance for purification of the entire body. Producing an energy that is both receptive and cooperative, Gold allows for extensive use with gemstones, as it is capable of attracting, holding and stabilizing the influence of any stone one chooses to use.

Intimately linked with divinity, Gold is particularly useful with any and all deity associated with the Sun.  Magicians working exclusively with the Sun or solar energy, wearing gold during rituals is said to assisting in attuning with that power source.
Gold is the most magically potent of all metals, and is utilized to lend its magic energy to rituals. Worn during spells and rituals, it will enhance the ability to build and send forth energy where it is directed.

Silver is a soft, white, lustrous metal, it possesses the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity and reflectivity of any metal. The metal occurs naturally in its pure, free form (native silver), as an alloy with gold (electrum) and other metals.
While Gold is beautiful, impressive and inspires power; the calmer, more tolerant attitude that surrounds Silver is more enjoyable and pleasant. Like gold, silver symbolized wealth and prosperity, Silver is the metal of emotions, of the psychic mind, and of loving as well as healing.
Quite early in human history it was noticed that liquids kept in Silver containers remained fresh and pure longer.
Numerous legends, traditions and myths have grown up around this bright reflective mineral. Certain purification rites practiced by the Egyptians called for special basins made of Silver. Such practices even find their way into contemporary rituals as well. With Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran religions, their chalices for mass must be constructed of Gold, Silver or Vermeil.
Silver is told to bring advantage to its wearer throughout life. It is used to conjure patience and perseverance to the wearer, and it used extensively with gemstones due to the fact that the metal attracts and retains the qualities emitted by the stones.
It is known to enhance the powers of the moon, particularly during the full and new moons. Throughout the world it is identified with the lunar manifestations of the Great Mother, the eternal goddess. As the metal is reflective, as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so does silver reflect negativity from the wearer. Tiny silver globes, or any sliver jewelry can be worn for magical security; used to provide protection again evil intent, reflecting spells of harm back to the sender.
Silver can also be used to enhance one’s psychic abilities, as it is a psychic-influencing metal. When worn it stimulates one’s psychic awareness but simultaneously lulls the conscious, so as not to overwhelm. Donning silver jewelry before sleep is another method of producing psychic dreams. If the piece is set with moonstone or other gemstone with psychic properties the effects will be more powerful.
There is a long history and tradition of healing associated with Silver. It is believed that Silver is antibacterial of sorts. A disinfectant for the human body that boosts your immunity.
In many ancient cultures, silver was used to purify water and in the prevention of festering of wounds.
Energy workers will find this metal a wonderful conduit for sending energy to a patient. It can also be used to help channel the energies of gemstones in healing, particularly: Turquoise, Carnelian, Moonstone, Amethyst and Quartz are excellent healing stones to channel with Silver.
Gemstones that you are working with are more powerful set or wrapped in silver. It has almost no vibrational impact on the stones, quite the opposite in fact, it will enhance the connection between the wearer and the stone, allowing for a gentle flow of energy between the two. It is said that over time that the silver will in fact absorb and reflect the same energy as the stone it is set in.
Practitioners of astral travel may like using Silver as an anchor as they move from one reality to another. It provides a kind of energy beam or signal trace that allows you to always “see” where your physical body is. So you aren’t distracted by the fear of not being able to return.

Copper is a soft, malleable and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a reddish-orange color. It is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, as a building material, and as a constituent of various metal alloys.
As Copper is a conductor of heat and electricity, it is also considered a conductor of one’s spiritual energy, moving it back and forth between people, auras, crystals, and the spirit world. Said to be able to amplify one’s thoughts, sending and receiving psychic communication.
Also said to combat laziness and lethargy, passivity as well as non-acceptance of oneself.
Said to be the bestower of good and the bringer of luck, Copper is said to especially bring positive energy in the recovery of property or possessions when lost or fallen into the wrong hands.
Copper is said to attract money. And although pennies are no longer crafted of copper, those produced in earlier years have been placed in and about one’s kitchen to draw wealth to the household.
Physically, Copper is said to stabilize and balance the flow of blood within the body, assisting to increase circulatory functions of the blood system. Said to help cleanse wounds as well as fighting  bacterial infection, as well as arthritis, rheumatism, and to simulate the metabolic functions of the body.  Helpful with the alleviation of cramp like symptoms, promoting the proper functioning of the glands, and to prevent the daily wear and tear of the joints.
Long used to stimulate healing of all types, it is said to be linked to Copper’s ability to balance the body’s polarities, as well as the flow of projective and receptive energies.  Pure copper is often worn to prevent illness, motion sickness and any disease due to unbalance.
Copper is generally worn on the opposite side of one’s dominant hand; thus the left hand if one is right handed.
History and ancient texts indicate that Copper has long been linked with the Divine, attributed to the Queen of Heaven, as well as all goddesses associated with the planet Venus.  Being a well known conductor of electricity, modern day practitioners fashion wands of copper tubing or adorn wands with copper wire or pieces.
Used in rituals to call on the Goddess, Copper has a permanent place on the altar and most all rituals and spells of any kind.

Mercury is commonly known as quicksilver. A heavy, silvery element, mercury is the only metallic element that is liquid at STP.
It is the stuff of legend, the key to alchemy and witchcraft, a deadly poison and yet also a potent medicine. We use it to weigh the air, generate reflections and also to measure our temperature.
Mercury is poisonous, rots the brain and is a general menace.
Quicksilver, the old name for mercury, is a heavy metallic element, 13.5 times denser than water. This density gives rise to some of mercury's most fascinating properties. If you built a bath of mercury and jumped in, you would break your bones.
Once in, you would bob around on the surface like an insect on water, barely sinking in an inch.
If you had the balance you could easily walk on mercury and it is possible to play billiards on a mercury bath - the balls would only sink a fraction of an inch.
To touch cold mercury feels like, well, nothing else on Earth. Not liquid, not solid, but cold, clammy - like cold, fresh liver.  Thanks to the fact that almost anything will float in mercury baths, they were traditionally used as a low-friction rotation mechanism for the giant mirrors in lighthouses.
Historically, man has always treated quicksilver with a mixture of fear and respect.
Fear because it is toxic, and respect both for its strange properties and its supposed medical uses.
The vapours given off by this extraordinary element are highly toxic.  Animal skins were dipped in a solution of mercuric nitrate which turned the fur into a matted felt. The fumes given off by this process poisoned the brains of anyone in the vicinity, causing an epidemic of psychiatric problems among workers in the hat industry, hence the phrase "as mad as a hatter".
It may be dangerous, but mercury is also extremely useful.  Mercury dissolves aluminium. Mercury's otherworldliness has always been recognised. In China, India and Tibet, mercury compounds were thought to prolong life (although they often had the opposite effect).
The Hindi word for alchemy is "Rassayana", which means "the way of mercury". Alchemists thought mercury was a primordial element, the first matter from which all metals were formed.
Mercury was thought to be the key to the transformation of base metals into gold (the holy grail of alchemy), perhaps because the noblest and most precious of metals actually dissolves in the stuff.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Backing a Kickstarter

It would seem that my long hibernation from gaming may be coming to an end.  If you have a few bucks, consider throwing them this way.

Katanas & Trenchcoats Kickstarter