• Escape From CrazyTown

    Another winner bubbled up last night from the Gneech’s Action Adventure Dream Vault. Most has been lost in the intervening time since then, but I do remember some highlights…

    The whole dream takes place on a dark, wet night of course.

    I was a smart-alecky wandering adventurer-type in a post-apocalyptic world somewhere between Escape From New York and Full Throttle; not exactly what you’d call badass, but capable enough and a quick thinker (with a snarky sense of humor). Circumstances unknown (or possibly forgotten) had brought me to a small town that appeared to be the remains of an amusement park, repurposed, and with suitably eccentric inhabitants. Like any good village full of post-apocalyptic degenerates, they were superstitious, fearful, and downright stupid, and prone to feeding anybody they didn’t like (which boiled down to anybody who wasn’t born and raised in the village) into a thing they called “The Cruncher.” Naturally, as a smartass, it wasn’t long before The Cruncher and I had a date, along with a handful of other people the villagers had been saving up for their periodic Cruncher-feeding ritual.

    The Cruncher itself consisted of a large concrete bunker with a round main platform inside that looked more or less like the transporter room from Star Trek, and a small control room off to the side. Six to ten people would be put out onto the platform, the villager operating the controls would twiddle some switches, and a giant white ceramic thing would plunge down over them, there’d be a loud noise and some yelling, and then it would rise back up and they were gone, leaving no trace.

    Naturally the villagers, being both stupid and insane, believed the victims to have been crunched out of existence (hence the name “Cruncher”). While I didn’t know what happened to the victims, I knew they hadn’t been crunched, so I was more curious than frightened when shoved onto the platform and “crunched” myself.

    The Cruncher, it turned out, was actually an elevator; the white ceramic thing was a protective shield designed to keep out harmful radiation of some kind (possibly from the inevitable nuclear war that creates these post-apocalyptic settings). The yelling was the result of it being, well, a very fast elevator, that unceremoniously dumped its passengers out at the bottom of the shaft and shot back up again to reset.

    Under this amusement-park-turned-village was a large underground installation, the purpose of which had been lost to time. Mall? Offices? War-proof housing for the duration? Who knows. But now it was dingy, derelict, and dangerous. As for the inhabitants, well, if the people above were degenerate, the people below were downright feral. They knew the sound of the elevator under the Cruncher meant feeding time, and they were there and ready for a free snack.

    This led to the most action-oriented part of the dream, essentially a chase sequence through the tunnels and warrens of this underground installation, fleeing its deranged inhabitants and all manner of “WTF I don’t even” things that the other Crunchees and I found along the way (such as the room full of broken and disused animatronic clowns).

    As we fled, various members of the would-be escapees fell to chasing degenerates or other hazards; at least one fell down an open elevator shaft as I recall. Very few of the images from that part of the dream lingered much past me waking up, but I remember that the chase ended in a pit full of junk and muck that was basically the trash compactor from Star Wars. There was a narrow metal ladder bolted into the wall, which the remaining escapees and I climbed for dear life (after the requisite wisecracks), feral tunnel-dwellers climbing up behind us using their fingernails in the cracked walls.

    At the top of the ladder, for no reason other than It’s A Dream Deal With It, there was a helipad with a running and prepped helicopter. Fortunately, it was a futuristic pre-post-apocalypse helicopter, all electric engine and intuitive “drive it like a car” controls, so I could fly the thing. Unfortunately, as my fellow escapees and I got to the top of the ladder and made a run for the helicopter, the feral inhabitants of CrazyTown came surging up after us, bringing down all but myself and one other (whose identity I have since forgotten upon waking up).

    The dream ended with myself and the other escapee lifting off and into the night in the helicopter, speculating on whether or not the ferals would raid the village of degenerates now that they were on the surface and trying not to think about it.

    And then I woke up.

    -The Gneech

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  • The Most Horrible of Traditions

    NOTE: This actually looks better in my LiveJournal. The Gneech.com posting munges the format something awful.

    And it’s upon us another year!

    Look to the sky
    way up on high
    There in the night
    stars are now right
    
    Eons have passed          Fear
    now then at last          the
    prison walls break        Old
    Old Ones awake            Ones
    
    They will return          They                     Fear
    Mankind will learn        will                     the
    new kinds of fear         re-                      Old
    when they are here        turn                     Ones
    
    They will reclaim         They will reclaim        They will reclaim         They will reclaim
    all in their name         all in their name        all in their name         all in their name
    Hopes turn to black       Hopes turn to black      Hopes turn to black       Hopes turn to black
    when they come back       when they come back      when they come back       when they come back
    
    Ignorant fools            Ignorant fools           They                      Ignorant fools
    Mankind now rules         Mankind now rules        will                      Mankind now rules
    where they ruled then     where they ruled then    walk the                  where they ruled then
    It's theirs again         It's theirs again        Earth again               It's theirs again
    
    Stars brightly burning    They will return         Stars brightly burning    They will return
    boiling and churning      Mankind will learn       up in the gloom           Mankind will learn
    bode a returning          new kinds of fear        bode a returning          new kinds of fear
    season of doom            when they are here       season of doom            when they are here
    
    Scary scary scary         They                     Look to the sky           They
    scary solstice            will return              there up on high          will
    very very very            They                     Stars brightly burn       re-
    scary solstice            will return              Old Ones return           turn
    
    Up from the sea           Bring-                   Bring-                    Bring-
    from underground          ing                      ing                       ing
    down from the sky         cer-                     cer-                      cer-
    They're all around        tain                     tain                      tain
    
    They will return          Doom!                    Doom!                     Doom!
    Mankind will learn        ...                      ...                       ...
    new kinds of fear         ...                      ...                       ...
    when they are here        ...                      ...                       ...
    
    Look to the sky           Fear
    way up on high            the
    There in the night        Old
    stars are now right       Ones
    
    Eons have passed          They                     Fear
    now then at last          will                     the
    prison walls break        re-                      Old
    Old Ones awake            turn                     Ones
    
    Madness will reign        Madness will reign       Madness will reign        Madness will reign
    terror and pain           terror and pain          terror and pain           terror and pain
    Woes without end          Woes without end         Woes without end          Woes without end
    where they extend         where they extend        where they extend         where they extend
    
    Ignorant fools            Ignorant fools           They                      Ignorant fools
    Mankind now rules         Mankind now rules        will                      Mankind now rules
    where they ruled then     where they ruled then    master this               where they ruled then
    It's theirs again         It's theirs again        planet again              It's theirs again
    
    Stars brightly burning    They will return         Stars brightly burning    They will return
    boiling and churning      Mankind will learn       up in the gloom           Mankind will learn
    bode a returning          new kinds of fear        bode a returning          new kinds of fear
    season of doom            when they are here       season of doom            when they are here
    
    Scary scary scary         They                     They will return          They
    scary solstice            will return              Mankind will learn        will
    Very very very            they                     new kinds of fear         re-
    scary solstice            will return              when they are here        turn
    
    Up from the sea           Man                      Man                       Man
    from underground          has                      should                    has
    down from the sky         much                     fear                      much
    They're all around        to                       to                        to
    
    Fear                      Fear                     Look to the sky           Fear
    ...                       ...                      way up on high            ...
    ...                       ...                      There in the night        ...
    ...                       ...                      stars now are right       ...
    
    They will return...       They will return...      They will return...       They will return...

    Care of The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

    Merry Christmas. 😉

    -The Gneech

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  • Random Dead Frog

    So it’s a rainy day … tornado watch even. And we step out the door to run some errands only to be surprised by a frog on the patio. “Oh, neat! A frog! … Er … wait, there’s something wrong here…”

    The frog, sitting in a fairly normal attentive-frog pose, was quite dead, with its mouth hanging open and a purple-black tongue lolling out. Yeeks. Ate some pesticide, perhaps? We don’t put any out ourselves, but who knows what the neighbors do. The frog has no visible wounds, so it’s not like some predator left a half-finished job on the porch. It looks for all intents and purposes that a frog just decided our porch was a good place to die.

    Okay, creepy. We have a random dead frog on a cold and stormy day. But we also have errands to run, so random dead frog is left where he is.

    Later, we’re back home and taking care of stuff and I happen to look out on the patio: random dead frog is still there, sitting attentively…

    …facing the other way…

    Time for the jibblies. O.o WTF, random dead frog? And why is it that you’re ten inches closer to the door?

    Mrs. Gneech decides it’s time for the random dead frog to go. So we head out to the patio, to find that the random dead frog is now facing in a third direction. ¬.¬ But in short order it’s scooped up in a plastic bag and tossed into the trash. No getting in and laying a curse on the house for YOU, random dead frog!

    Still.

    WTF random dead frog.

    -The Gneech

    PS: I’m actually fairly sure that what happened is that the random heavy spurts of rain caused puddles which floated the dead frog around as they washed off the porch. But I didn’t see this with my own eyes, so it’s just as conceivable that we had a haunted frog on the porch. If it reappears after having been thrown away, we’ll know to call in the local exorcist.

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  • March 4th: Happy Gamemaster Day!

    There is a burgeoning movement in the gaming community to declare today, the anniversary of the death of Gary Gygax, as “Gamemaster Day” in his honor. (And it’s also “march forth,” get it?) I hereby endorse this idea!

    So wish your local GM a happy Gamemaster Day! It might save you from a TPK. 😉

    -The Gneech

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  • The Horror! The (Arkham) Horror! [Review]

    So I finally played Lupus In Tabula (a.k.a. “Are You a Werewolf”) at Further Confusion, and last night we finally broke out Arkham Horror. I suppose now all that’s left will be to play Settlers of Cataan and my initiation will be complete. (NOTE: I may have actually played that and forgot.)

    What to say about Arkham Horror…? Well, first, it’s long. Really long. Really, really long. Being a bunch of newbies, we chose Yig, the Ancient One specifically mentioned as making for a “shorter” game, and we still went from 7:00ish until midnight.

    Have I mentioned that it’s long?

    The other thing is that it’s complex. Really complex. Pointlessly complex. Why bother with money, for instance? With all of the “Gotta find a clue! Gotta seal the gates! Gotta get back home from the Plateau of Leng — again!” going on, the time spent getting to a shop and then actually shopping there, hardly feels worth the effort for what you get out of it. There are lots of other ways it’s pointlessly complex, but that was the one that most felt like extra baggage to me.

    This is a game that’s packed to the gills with stuff. There are something like 16 characters, each with their own sub-rule, eight Ancient Ones, each with their own sub-rules, 10+ different decks of cards that all do different things, six different skills to make checks on, modifiers to every check, rules about how many monsters can be on the board, rules about how to fight or evade monsters, horror checks to see if monsters drive you insane, rules for which shops close down in which order as monsters start to take over town, rules about what order you have encounters in, rules about which player goes first on any turn, rules about how many times you may change your characters’ skill allocation, rules about different ways the different monsters move, fight, or lurk around — oh, and the cultists all have different stats depending on which Ancient One you’re fighting, and so on.

    And yet, with all that, we still ran into situations where the rules didn’t cover it and we had to come up with an answer. Specifically, at one point my character (the nun) encountered a monster. Being a nun, my character couldn’t fight worth a tiddlywink and the only weapon she had was a cross — which was only useful against undead. But she did have a spell that negated damage from a single source, and cast that. So she couldn’t hurt the monster, but the monster couldn’t hurt her, either.

    And so … what? The combat system in the game assumes that the monsters generally beat the snot out of you unless you manage to single-shot them. So normally if you can’t hurt a monster, it just means you get mauled. They don’t seem to have a contingency for what happens if the monster can’t hurt you either. We took a vote around the table and decided to treat the encounter as if I’d evaded the monster instead, just to keep the game going.

    During the first hour or so of the game, half of the people around the table were saying, “This should be a computer game!” because of all the fiddly stuff to keep track of. Honestly, tho, I can’t imagine it being a very fun computer game, even if I can totally see how that would work. Progress is too slow and too nebulous — “Am I doing well? Am I doing poorly? Am I just wandering around wasting time because I don’t know what I should be doing?” I realize that, being based on Call of Cthulhu (which is in turn based on Lovecraftian horror), that “slow, nebulous, and uncertain” is exactly what they’re going for. But y’know, I could get that just from running an actual game of Call of Cthulhu and do a lot less dice-rolling and card-shuffling.

    So, net result? Unless people specifically ask for it, I doubt we’ll be doing Arkham Horror again; the amount of fun delivered doesn’t justify the amount of work.

    -The Gneech

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  • When Fandoms Collide [artwork]

    For the Confuzzled conbook, just a bit of geeky fun. Click through for larger image.
    Call of Furthulhu, by the Gneech

    Enjoy!

    -The Gneech

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