The new and improved defender of RPGs!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

No Time to Write; Short L&D Update

I've had almost no time to do anything lately.

Anyways, I'll just update readers of my blog today: a while back, we did a 'reveal' of the Lion & Dragon cover.
Now, it seems that based on both some feedback, and receiving the proof copy, my erstwhile publisher Dominique Crouzet changed his mind.  The cover will now be something totally different.

I've been promised this won't delay the publication.  So we're still aiming for early December.
(this is the part of doing an RPG book that I hate; it always seems like after I'm done writing a book it still takes almost a fucking year for it to see print, and there's always endless delays at the end)

Anyways, I'll do a NEW cover reveal as soon as I have a new cover.


RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Virginia

Friday, 17 November 2017

DCC Campaign Update: Because It's Venger


In our last session, the PCs had just arrived to the shantytown outside the massive spire known by locals (on the surface of the solar skyshield) as The Citadel, where they would now have to participate in a contest known as the Death Race 3000 in order to gain entry. They're doing all this because the Citadel seems to be the place where there's a transmat into the heart of the sun, from where they will be able to use the Sunstaff to reach the Crown of Creation and save G.O.D. from Sezrekhan, who has taken control and is slowly turning everyone in the universe into his zombified slaves.

Now:

-"It's a good thing someone is tracking time in this campaign, because I'm sure not."

-"What happend to Sami while I was gone?"
"Oh, yeah, she shat herself into a coma."
"Just like her player!"

-"The shantytown has a thriving economy based on the annual Death Race."
"So a lot like Punta del Este?"
"A more murderous Punta del Este, yes."



-"So wait, this is the 3000th Death Race?"
"Yup. You've come at an auspicious time."

-Sami awakens from her coma.
"Ohhh.. why didn't you just kill me?"
"We need a cleric."
"I'm sure that if you'd let me die, another cleric would have just suddenly appeared."

-"I look for somewhere to clean myself up.."
"Well, you're basically in Space-Calcutta here, so.."

-"I'm going to put on Ekim's Plastic Surgery mask."
"Ok, you now have a 9 Personality."
"Wow, you're a considerably less unappealing ex-hooker."




-The PCs start to wander around the shantytown.
"I'll stick with the group. I don't want to run into a blood vampire around here."
"So that is to say, a normal vampire?"
"Yeah, well, this party encountered a Fire Vampire first, so now to us those are the normal ones."

-The PCs start talking about what kind of vehicle they want to buy for the Death Race.
"Could we get one with like, a guy strapped to the front holding up our war banner?"

-Suddenly, the PCs spot the Vegan Wizard, who had last been seen running off in the labyrinth on Gebo. Somehow, he's ended up in the shantytown, and is apparently wandering around in a daze.
"So, should we help him? Or just leave him here?"
"Well, we do need a wizard."
"I'm a wizard!"
"We've got the Hippomagus, he's a wizard..."
"I'm a wizard!"
"But the Hippomagus might not be enough."
"I'm a wizard!!"
"Yeah, we need a second wizard, let's save him."
"Screw all you guys."





-"How did you even get here, vegan?"
"I have no idea. I don't even know where here is?"
"Have you got anything in your ass?"
"I don't think so.."
"We could check with my staff!"

-A suspicious looking lizard man shuffles up to the PCs.
"Hey, psst.. you want to buy dolphin?"
"...yes. Yes we do."
"Wait, you not city guard, no?"

-While a couple of the PCs go off with the sneaky looking dolphin-seller, the others go to a 'magic supply store', run by a forehead-ridged mutant looking a bit like a klingon.
"Can I pay for this with credits?"
"You wish for store credit? We do not give credit!"
"No, my credits, from my credit stick."
"No credit. Only cash."

-"What kind of money do you use here?"
"Quatlums."
"Do you also use gold?"
"We can take gold, yes."
"But you don't know about credits?"
"Credit? You want money-lender."
"No... but holy shit you guys we should always go to money-lenders! We should borrow money at every city we go to! I mean, since after all when we're done with it every city we ever go to is either destroyed or we can never go back anyways."

-"So do you sell scrolls here?"
"No, we sell supplies to make scrolls! Like this high-end vellum."
"Ohh, this one is bordered by little flowers. And this one is lavender-scented!"
"Dude, you're not in a magic shop at all, this is just a stationary store."

-"I wonder what the rest of the party is doing?"
"We're buying a dolphin!"

-"There are two dolphins in the warehouse; one is rather emaciated and is hanging from some leather straps. The other is relatively fat and soaking in a small pool of water that seems infused with a variety of herbs."
"I run my finger over the fat one and then lick it... yeah, it's pure!"

-"This one is for eating.. other is for, well, you know."




-"Wait, you are Death Racers?"
"We will be, tomorrow."
"Oh, so then you may want dolphin catapult!"
"Dude, this is getting out of hand."

-"Can we use this Dolphin-launcher for things other than dolphins?"
"Yes, large catapult can also launch dogs, small children, etc."

-"Do you have Dolphin explosives? Like, that we could put on the dolphin so he'd explode on impact?"
"You can stuff him with grenades!"
"The dolphin looks very nervous."

-"Hey, with my Animal Summoning, we could use the dolphin to create MORE dolphins!"
"MIND BLOWN."
"Ok, so wait... we're actually doing this now, aren't we??"



-"I don't know what happened to you Heidi, maybe it's the rarefied air here, but you've really changed."
"Well, um, we could make sure the dolphin only does non-lethal damage."
"Too late for that now, dude. You've become one of us!"

-"I'm pretty sure that dolphin is sentient, and can understand us. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm still on board with this."

-"Man, I'm sure glad we haven't gotten totally side-tracked..."

-Having secured their plans to purchase assault dolphins, the PCs now move on to trying to hijack a vehicle. They settle on a cool-looking post-apocalyptic APV manned by a bunch of pirates.
"We want to buy your vehicle, captain."
"Yarr, this ship is not for sale!"
"It's an APV, not a ship."
"Maybe it's a land ship?"
"Narr, that's where ye're wrong, lad. It be a Sea-ship Of The Land."



-Heidi uses his Ring of Human Control to force the captain to buy the ship for 50gp. Then he tells the captain to lend him 50gp.
"Ok, so you've used 2HD to control the captain, out of 30, right?"
"Huh?"
"Oh shit, never mind... as far as you know you have unlimited uses.. it was all a dream!!"

-The captain's crew realize something suspicious is going on. To stop them from all attacking, Vizi challenges the biggest one to a duel and cuts him to pieces with his light sabre.
The rest of the pirates run away.

-"Yarr, I'll lend you the 50gp, but the Death Race be cold at night..."
"We plan to get a dolphin..."
"That'll do."
"Wouldn't you rather have me?"
"Nar, there be no place for women at the sea."

-Heidi decides he'd better get rid of the legless captain, since he has to continually concentrate to keep him controlled. So he flies him out about an hour away in the middle of the wasteland, and dumps him there to die.

-Blitzkrieg and Space-Bear show up, and they got themselves a hovertank!



-"How did you get that??"
"I won it in a sabacc game, baby."
"of course."



-"Are we allowed to split our party into two vehicles?"
"That's what that random weirdo in the gas mask told us back in town, and he should know."

-"What are you going to call your hovertank, Blitzkrieg?"
"The Shaft-1"
"of course."
"Wait does that mean you never had a shaft before?"

-"What's your APV called?"
"Well, it was called the Lolipop, but we're going to rename it the Mammoth-1, on account of the huge mammoth skull in the front."

-Heidi flies back.
"Did you take care of the captain?"
"Yes. He's in a farm now, with a big field where he can crawl around with other legless captains and have fun."

-"We want to buy some dolplin explosives."
"OK, do you want your dolphin to be alive when he explodes?"
"Oh yeah, we need it to make dolphin sounds as it flies down on our enemies."
"Yes, plus his eco-location could help him target somehow."



-That night, Mu perfects his sleep-rune. When the Vegan wizard starts to annoy him, Mu puts him to sleep.
"That's a damn good spell."

-The next morning the PCs go and, having pooled their money, purchase their artillery-dolpin. The Dolphin salesman suggests that to smuggle him out of town to where they're parked, they hire his cousin who has a small cart and a giant-snail disguise for the dolphin.

-The city guardsmen are coming down the street. Nervous, Sami tries to cast Ackbasha's Sanctuary, which only draws their attention.
"You were casting some kind of spell, miss?"
"So what? Hey! I'm not allowed to cast something now? I know my rights! I thought this was America, man!!"



-They manage to distract the guards by claiming they saw someone disguised as other guards trying to sell a dolphin. They make it over to the vehicles, but Space Bear has serious reservations about their use of a projectile dolphin.
"Space Bear says the dolphin is sentient."
"How does he know?"
"Space Bear speaks dolphin."



-Blitzkrieg has to translate from Bear to Common, while Space Bear is translating from Dolphin to Bear.
"There are way too many NPCs in this group."



-They remember that the Vegan mutant can use his Animal Summoning and that when he does so the dolpins won't be sentient dolphins. He hopes.
"Cool. So do you need to cut a piece off the dolphin or something?"
"The dolphin looks very nervous."
"No, that won't be necessary."
"The dolphin looks relieved"
"OK dolphin, I just need you to shit in this cup!"
"Why, you sick fuck?!"
"Because its Venger!"

-Later in the day, a group of Space Vampires, from a rival Death Race team, come along.  The group is nervous, but they come in peace.
"We have come to offer an alliance, blah!"
"Can you give us some time to think about it?"
"Yes, we will come back in 10.. 10 hours! Ah hah haha!!"



-"I don't know, could these vampires double cross us?"
"Wouldn't a double cross hurt them?"
(rimshot)

-"Guys, I think Mongo is petting the dolphin a bit too roughly"
"You have to pet him hard so he can feel it!"

-The pirates who the PCs stole their APV from try to ambush them on the streets of the shantytown. But Heidi first intimidates them and then recruits them. "You are my new crew. Look at me: I am the captain now!"



-For their first task, Heidi has his pirate crew go out and buy fireworks, fish (for the dolphin to eat), wooden stakes (in case the vampires double-cross them) and pirate hats.

-The Vampire crew come back to continue negotiating an alliance.
"I am Lord Dracul. These are my cohorts: Count von Count, Count Chokula, Blackula and Sidney Appelbaum."

-The Vegan is approached by a cat-humanoid, who claims he has items they might want. He wanders off with this total stranger, and Vizi goes along just in case. It turns out that the cat-people-gang are working with a stereotypical Mad Scientist (including the German accent).

-Heidi and Mu go looking for their missing team-mates. Some mental-control driven interrogation leads them to some tips on the cat-people, and Mu follows a cat-boy while psychically invisible. Unfortunately, he loses track of him, loses his invisibility, and can't find his way back to where Heidi was.



-The Mad Scientist drugs the Vegan and initially wanted to implant some kind of probe in the Vegan, but discovers that apparently the Vegan already has a probe in him, so instead he puts one in Vizi after drugging him with poisoned but delicious strudel.

-Mu gives up and heads back, but Heidi flies around and eventually finds Vizi and the Vegan, both nearly naked on a rooftop. They were robbed blind, and had been drugged to lose all their short-term memories of what happened.
They've lost their jetpacks, their armor, their weapons, their comms, their electro-spears, their light-sabres, and their dignity.

-"We're also missing Mu. Wait, let me rephrase that: Mu is not here. We don't miss him."

-They eventually find their way back to the cat hideout. Heidi breaks down the door.
"I'm here to weaponize dolphins and kick ass. And I'm all out of dolphin!"

-Heidi goes after the Mad Scientist, who had fled out the back while the group was dispatching the cat-people. But when he gets out flying he sees that the Mad Scientist tried to use a jet-pack, crashed it, and blew himself to bits starting a fire in the shantytown.

-Vizi uses his precognition on the scientist's lab, and gets a vision of himself getting implanted with a probe. He hears the scientist mention how the Vegan had a magical probe already, but that his 'client' would be pleased with Vizi getting probed.

-"Roman, I think they put something in me, not up my ass mind you. Also, the Vegan had something already inside him, which for sure was put up his ass!"
"Yup, you've got an explosive probe. Looks ass-implanted to me."
"No no, they used microsurgery. Only on me though, not on the Vegan, on him they totally implanted it anally"

-"well, I've managed to deactivate the probe, but the bad news is you still have a lot of explosives lodged firmly within your colon."
"...through microsurgery! On me, not the Vegan"

-Heidi managed to recover one of the light-sabers, a comm, and the cats had left behind some of the other armors and weapons. They also found some low-grade cybernetics, and some drugs, which are later identified as anasthesia, euthanasia drugs, and rohypnol.
"That explains the memory loss!"
"And the ass-probing!"
"Only the vegan, not me!"

-"The Vegan's probe is totally different. It seems to be magical, and it's in his chest cavity."
"Wow, that's so strange that they got it all the way up there through his ass, while they put one in my colon but not by that route!"



-"Guys, I can try to deactivate the Vegan's probe, but there's a slight chance he  might explode."
"We step back slowly... go ahead, Roman, do it!"

-"I'm going to take off all my armor and equipment to save in case I explode."
"That's incredibly grand of you given how obvious it is the rest of these assholes don't care whether you live or die."

-"Here, I'll give you a helping hand... I give the Vegan that cyber-arm I got from the lab."

-Roman fails to be able to disarm the magical probe in the Vegan, so they call on the Hippomagus to try dispel magic on it, with the help of the Sunstaff, which they briefly lend back to him. As soon as he manages to de-power the probe, they take it away again.
"But.. i was told i'd get to keep the staff?"
"You will, later."
"i'd like my staff back please..?"
"You guys realize that eventually he's going to snap and kill us all, right?"
"Probably."



-Sami heals the Vegan, but only on the condition that he's baptized (she had earlier suffered divine disapproval, and needed a new convert). She baptizes him by breaking a bottle of beer over his head.
"You know that kind of baptism is only what the Religious Fantastics do, right? It's not the normal way to baptize people..."
"It's now a tradition for me."

-"The good thing out of your shameful misbehaviour is that we learned we were being probed."

-That night, the party rests after an eventful day, knowing that the Death Race starts tomorrow. But late at night, they're woken up by their Pirate hirelings, altering the PCs to a very large horde of Sezrekhan zombies marching right for them!


That's it for today. Will the PCs actually make it to the Death Race next time? Will they be able to get closer to their quest? Or will they get distracted by more nonsense or yet another side-quest? And most importantly: will their projectile explosive-dolphin weapon work?

Stay tuned next time for the answers to at least some of these questions, we hope!


RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti half-volcano + Sutliff's Man's Best Friend

Thursday, 16 November 2017

NOW is a Great Moment to Send me Your Review Copies!

So, at this time I've actually managed to get to the end of my queue for review copies.

First of all, that means that if you have sent me something to review, and I have NOT reviewed it, that would mean I did not get it. I don't think that there is anything I was expecting to get that has not arrived, but if there's someone I forgot or you sent me something without checking first, please get in touch with me ASAP, since I have not yet received it.

Second, if you have an RPG product, be it an OSR book or any other kind of RPG at all, and you would like to get a review done for it, now would be the time to send it my way!

If you check out theRPGsite's Reviews Subforum, you will find that I have a ridiculously large number of reviews under my belt. And it will give you an idea, if you did not know already, of the kind of thing you could expect.

If you're wondering why you should send me a review copy, here is reason #1: I review EVERYTHING I receive.  Those of you who are experienced publishers will know just how important that is, because I have heard time and time again from publishers countless horror stories about how they've sent 5 or 7 or a dozen review copies to all kinds of people and don't get even one review back. Knowing that there's someone you can send your review copy to that has a 100% track record of providing a review in return is, in and of itself, a huge deal. One might wish it wasn't, one would expect that this should just be normal, but sadly, that's just not the case in our hobby/industry. There's only a couple of reviewers who have a consistent record of producing reviews when they get review copies, and I'm the most prolific of these.

Reason #2: a lot of people who send review copies, after paying for the copy and the shipping, and even if they do get a review out of it, will get a pathetic review of a couple of paragraphs.
My reviews, on the other hand, are always very thorough, detailed, and insightful.

Reason #3: The reviews get coverage. Even if you did send a review copy and got a review out of it and that review was more than two or three paragraphs long, it doesn't do you much good if no one reads it.  My reviews are always posted at multiple locations: they get posted here on my blog of course, they get linked on my G+ account and posted through that to a number of G+ gaming 'communities' relevant to whatever the book being reviewed is about. They also get posted, in full, in the RPGsite Reviews subforum, linked to above. Furthermore, these reviews are often reposted as "classic posts" here several years after the initial review was posted.  That's a lot of coverage!

Reason #4: I'm FAIR. Yes, I know, that might be something you might doubt if you know my reputation. But I'm not saying I'm unbiased. I make my biases in terms of what I like or don't like in RPGs, and I don't try to put on a veneer of neutrality. But I certainly DO make an effort, even while I talk about what I personally like and dislike about a game, to differentiate that from what I think is objectively good or bad about a game from a design point of view. And I ALWAYS make an effort, whenever possible, to conclude a review by assessing just what type of gamers would like a given gaming product, and what kind might not.  In that way, the review allows people to get an idea of whether the game will be for them or not, regardless of whether it's for me or not.
I won't ever promise you a favorable review. But I do promise it will be thorough and every effort will be made to look at it fairly.

Finally, IT WORKS.  There's a reason why people send me games they know I'll hate. There's a reason why people who clearly can't stand me, either my type of gaming or my politics or my personality or whatever, still send me games to review. Because if you have a gaming product and you send me a review copy, when my review comes out, in the vast majority of cases that translates into sales. The "pundit bump" is real and even people who have no reason to like me have admitted it.


So, if you have a game you want me to review, please get in touch with me!
All reviews will be done in the order I receive them, so it's first-come first-serve; and often that means long waiting periods from the time that your book arrives until the review comes in, because I'll have a big backlog, but right now, I have none, so whoever gets a book to me first will get a review fairly quickly from when I receive it.  Note that Uruguayan mail is notoriously slow, so assume that whatever you might have been told is the estimated delivery time will possibly be double that or more, though sometimes it surprises you (there's no way to guess at this, I've had books that arrive to my door a week after they were sent, and in some very few extreme cases, books that took six months to get here!).

So, RPG designers, writers and publishers, take advantage of this moment. I'm betting it won't last long, and new books will be getting to me shortly, so strike while the iron is hot!


RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Raleigh Hawkbill + Image Virginia


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Classic Rant: "Real" Magick in RPGs, Continued: Divination



Pretty much every serious magician practices "divination" of some form. However, divination is an interesting subject because it is also the one magical practice most likely to be at least nominally practiced by non-magicians, or by wannabe-magicians, or by posers. That's because of all the forms of magic, it's relatively easy to get into, and to have some initial "results" with, however blurry. More than a few great magicians (that is, batshit obsessed magicians) had their start by the seemingly innocent act of buying a tarot deck for kicks.





The first thing to clarify on the subject of divination is that a serious magician wouldn't refer or consider it to be "fortune telling". First, because the purpose of divination is primarily self-analysis, and secondly to help develop an understanding of the language of symbols. Second, because the way magick understands the nature of reality (and specifically "time") means that "seeing the future" per se is an impossibility. "Destiny" is not a concept that has a lot of leverage with magicians or the magical world view; the future is not set, it is rather a series of events that are based on the weight of patterns and prior events. The events of each moment is the product of the influence of billions of other little and big moments that preceded it. Thus by doing something, even a "little" something in the present, you can radically alter the future, for yourself, or for the whole world.

Divination doesn't work by somehow gazing into the future; rather, it works by looking at the present and at that "flow" of events, with a special perspective. If the future is the product of a current of circumstances flowing from the present, being able to clearly see the present allows you to understand not just how things are in the present, but the general direction in which things are likely to develop. Hence the name of the Chinese system of divination, the "I Ching" (the book of the changes). A divination system is a system of symbols, that put together create a kind of scale model, or organizational system, to describe reality. A "Dewey Decimal system for the universe", if you would. 

As symbols, these systems can intuitively connect with our human consciousness, so that even someone who has almost zero experience with a deck of tarot cards could just intuitively feel their way around them and maybe (assuming they've exercised their intuition at all) get a glimpse of the "message" a card reading is trying to tell them. A magician, on the other hand, studies these symbols profoundly, connecting to them on both the intuitive and intellectual level. Thus, as he gains in ability, he develops a very good skill at being able to use a divination system to take a "reading" of his own situation, of the balance of his elements, of trends that are going on for him in the present and how these are likely to go in the future, and get ideas of how to shift them subtly in order to make positive changes; or he can likewise do the same for other people.



This working with divinatory tools is thus never (for the hardcore magician) primarily about trying to determine the future; it is part of the process of self-analysis. You can use a divination tool to try to get a better grasp of your inner nature; it is part of the work a magician does, along with the magical diary and exercises of contemplation and meditation to try to understand themselves better. A big part of magical theory is that human beings are bound up by "conditionings"; ideas about themselves or the world, about likes and dislikes, about personality, that act as a trap. I covered some of this while talking about "masks" in the previous installment; the personality mistakenly believed to be the self. Part of being able to initially liberate one's self from that ego-persona requires being able to understand it clearly, and divination gives you hints to this. Basically, the symbol becomes a bridge for self-communication, between the conscious and the unconscious mind. Those messages your higher self is trying to send you, which you can't normally hear clearly, can become clearer when intentionally run through the "translation program" of a divinatory tool.

There are tons of different systems of divination out there, from new age oracles to ancient yoruba cowrie-shell casting; but there are three "big" systems that tend to be the ones most often used by magicians, which I'll try to briefly explain. Any of the three may be used by "posers" and magicians alike, but the way they would appear to use them will tend to be different, and can serve to give subtle hints as far as whether you want to portray an NPC magician as a newbie, or as someone who has got their shit together, or as someone who's plunged off the deep end.

Tarot: the big daddy of the divination systems, the Tarot is a 78-card deck that dates back to the 14th century, though some really ill-informed magicians might try to claim that it dates as far back as Egypt or "ancient Atlantis". Its four suits plus 22 trumps (major arcana, the cards with names like the Fool, Death, or the Sun) represent, as a whole, a working model of the magical universe. The suits connect to the four classical elements, while the trumps detail the whole process of magical work and development, from initiation to "union with the universe". The tarot is a composite work, it contains in it symbols that are important in the Kabbalah, Astrology, Alchemy, Sufi teaching, and other elements. There are thousands of decks available, most of which to some extent or another end up stripping away, rather than emphasizing that symbolism.

 A newb could be using any deck at all (often some "thematic" deck like the "dragon tarot", the "celtic tarot", etc), and will either just make up meanings or have to refer regularly to a book. Hardcore magicians will generally use either the Crowley "Thoth" deck or one of its variants, or if they're old-school will use one of the reproductions of the medieval decks like the Marseilles or Visconti. The typical magician will read the cards in a "spread", a kind of layout (which varies, there are hundreds of them); whereas a really experienced magician will likely omit the spread and read the cards just by laying a series of them out in order. A serious obsessive of ceremonial magick or crowleyana will tend to use an extremely complex counting system that originated with the 19th century "Order of the Golden Dawn"; done in full, that kind of system takes a couple of hours to do a reading.



Runes: This is a relative newcomer to western occultism, popularized in the 70s by pagans who were looking to revive the "norse tradition" and later embraced by new-agers. The runes are the viking alphabet, which has 24 letters; each letter has a literal meaning, and it has a divinatory significance; for example the f-rune, "fehu", literally means "cattle" and it symbolizes material issues (usually material prosperity). Runes today are used by hardcore magicians, wiccans, new agers, other kinds of pagans; they're widely adopted, though still most popular among "asatru" (norse pagans). The latter are mostly dedicated revivalists of ancient norse religion, who try to strive for authenticity; though there's also a seedy minority of these that mix up runic magic with neo-nazi philosophy (usually, the latter are rightly reviled by mainstream norse pagans; they could also make good occult Villains for a campaign, its always fun to beat the shit out of nazis). Newbs will use cheap store-bought runes made of plastic, ceramic, or (most popular with new agers) crystal. 


Serious students of the runes will try to follow the old rules about them: namely that runes for divination should be made out of organic material: wood or occasionally bone. Real hardcore types won't settle for anything other than carving their own runes, which they will then guard lovingly; though the truly batshit obsessive types will sometimes insist on carving a new set of runes for every divination, ritually burning the runes after they are used. The ignorant will follow bad book-advice and read runes in pretty well exactly the same way as tarot cards, laying them out in a "spread", while those who actually know the way runes are meant to be used will instead literally "cast" the runes, throwing a certain number of them so that they fall into patterns which are then part of the interpretation, sometimes within the boundaries of a traced or drawn circle. Aside from divination, the runic alphabet can also be used for a variety of magical purposes, most notably the creation of sigils.

I Ching: This chinese system of divination first became popularized among western magicians by Aleister Crowley, who was the first white man (that we know of) to regularly use the I Ching for divination. Crowley actually liked the I Ching far more than the Tarot, relying on the I Ching much more frequently (we know this because of the records kept in his magical diaries). The reason for this is that while readings with the Tarot (or the runes) tend to be kind of vague even in the best of times, dealing in symbols that you then have to try to decipher the meaning of; the I Ching is motherfucking specific. Its all "go do this" or "don't go there" or "you'll fuck up, but it won't be your fault, so do this anyways". It gives a much more specific and personal kind of oracle while the Tarot or Runes give a more open kind of oracle that seems to deal with larger issues or trends; for me, the Tarot is for sensing patterns and sweeping developments while the I Ching is for when I want the answer to a concrete question. Both have different uses.
(Runes are somewhere in between the two, by the way, but closer to the Tarot)



Later, the I Ching became incredibly popular with the hippies in the 1960s, and has become a mainstay of the magical community ever since. Of the three, it is the one least popular among the newbs, since it requires interpreting directly from a book (the I Ching itself), and leaves the least room for making it up as you go along; to use it really well also requires at least some knowledge of Chinese philosophy, and an understanding of the elements (and a good translation! most translations focus on huge academic commentaries and are exactly the opposite of good for practical divination work). 



The I Ching is a book that, like the runes or the tarot, presents a working model of reality, based on a series of 8 trigrams that when combined in pairs form 64 hexagrams. Each trigram is binary, either a single solid line or a single broken line. "Post-modern" magicians (hipsters) like to make a very big deal about how the I Ching connects to all kinds of things from computer programming to genetic code to chaos theory to quantum mechanics, invoking all kinds of pseudoscience to explain their reasoning. The I Ching itself describes the flow of elements over time, how one set of circumstances evolves into another. You use a method of divination (usually tossing three coins six times, but more traditionally using yarrow stalks) to get a hexagram that represent the present; and as each line can be either "stable" or "changing", the changing lines (the ones that form the really important part of the divination) determine what the second "future" hexagram will be, by changing the lines from solid to broken or vice-versa. 





While less newbs tend to use the I Ching, you may find them using I-ching themed oracle-decks, which serious fans of the I Ching tend to deplore. Unlike other methods of divination, it is not a sign of clueless newbie-ism to be referring to the book; only the craziest of fanatics is likely to have memorized the entire text of the I Ching (I've been using the I Ching on a very regular basis for two decades and haven't come even close to that, despite being pretty hardcore). But a newbie will be likely to seem more lost paging through the book, will have more trouble remembering the meaning of the hexagrams, or trigrams, etc. Serious Crowley-fanatics can be identified by the fact that they might refer to this system as the "Yi King" (the old-timey name for it, back in Crowley's days when Beijing was "Peking"); they are also likely to use six sticks instead of three coins, as that's the method Crowley devised when the magnificent bastard started using the book before anyone in the west actually had a clue as to the traditional method of casting a hexagram. 


Really hardcore guys will use the "old" traditional method of using a huge bundle of yarrow stalks, in a much longer and more complicated ritual process to generate a hexagram; they'll tend to obstinately insist that this is a superior "more accurate" method (I would agree!). It's possible that some truly batshit hardcore guys might even use the even-older method of burning a turtle-shell over an open flame and looking for lines to determine the hexagram. Those would be the kind of magicians you'd either really really not want to meet, or really want to meet, depending on the circumstances.

Divination techniques are a great element to include in any modern-occult game, since they provide ready-made props. Its not hard to get your hands on a tarot deck or a set of runes (or the I Ching, though that's not as visually effective), which are good visual aids to use as flavouring in your actual game; you could even try to figure out some way of incorporating a "reading" done in real-time to the system of the game you're running; though I'll leave that for you to figure out.

RPGPundit

(september 9, 2011)

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

RPGPundit Presents #7: The Medieval-Authentic Vancian Wizard's Spellbook


You may be aware that my upcoming Medieval-Authentic RPG rule-set, Lion & Dragon, is going to be using a totally revamped magic system. It won't have the standard Vancian spells that you're familiar with from D&D. Instead, it will focus on a series of magical techniques that are all based on real Medieval magical beliefs, practices, and rituals.



But of course, a lot of people like their Vancian casting. And they might prefer to keep that system while trying to give it at least a little bit more medieval flavoring.

So if that's what you're looking for, this is the product for you.

In RPGPundit Presents #7: The Medieval-Authentic Vancian Wizard's Spellbook, now available from the Precis store or from the DTRPG store (for just 99 cents!) you will get a 7-page guideline for how to make your standard OSR magic-users into something more similar to medieval magicians, who were not just spell-casters but lore-masters.  A big focus of this is the spellbook, re-imagined as the medieval-wizard's Magical Diary.



So check it out!


Also, while you're at it, be sure to check out the earlier issues of RPGPundit Presents:


RPGPundit Presents #1: DungeonChef!

RPGPundit Presents #2: The Goetia

RPGPundit Presents #3: High-Tech Weapons



Stay tuned for more next week!


RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Dunhill Classic Series Rhodesian + C&D's Bayou Evening 

Monday, 13 November 2017

"Pipes & Pipeweed" Supplement Now Available in Spanish!

So, right on time, my latest RPGPundit Presents #6: Pipes And Pipeweed is now available in Spanish!




You can pick up  "La Ilustre Guia del Mago de Pipas y Hierbas" (that sounds much better in Spanish!) from either the Precis Store, or just on DTRPG!


RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti A + Sutliff Man's Best Friend


Sunday, 12 November 2017

Lion & Dragon Cover Reveal

So, within the next three or four weeks, this will be happening:



Stay tuned!

RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Mastro De Paja Bent Apple + Image Virginia