Hailing from the Fashionable Upper Cambrian

Just in case you needed a strata of rock of a particular antediluvian vintage from which a hibernating monstrosity may spring or creature may be reconstituted, here’s a list of known fossil sites around Vermont and the geological eras in the history of Earth to which they belong.

[via Geek Mountain State]

Carnage in Wonderland Wrapping Up Submissions

Carnage in Wonderland‘s staff draw close to wrapping up game submissions in preparation for mailing the convention book all across New England.

Everywhere, GMs feverishly bring together scattered ideas for adventures to compose that pitch-perfect description, launching the plot hook right into the brain of the potential player, firing their imagination with promises of derring-do or dark dealings such that they have no recourse but to list it as their number one choice on their registration form.

I find myself in a similar boat. I have a general outline for my two role-playing adventures, but I don’t yet have the fine detail in place. I’ll bash out some snappy ad copy to catch the reading public’s attention, then work from there to make the reality meet the promise as much as possible.

Right now, all I want to say is that one will continue the saga of Ghostbusters International’s Boston much put-upon staff, who again find themselves sent forth to the Green Mountain State, and my second ever foray into the world of the Cabal — this time with a complete refit of the magic system, no less! I will probably toss in a board game for good measure, likely Frag as I do enjoy it and find it easy to teach.

Hey Nonny Nonny, it's the God Damned Bat Man

High concept crowd-sourced sketches are a specialty of RPG.net. This time, they hit on something special with the idea of mashing up together Batman and the Robin Hood tales.

Opinions vary whether Batman should merge with Robin, or become sheriff of Gotham. I like the idea of Joker becoming the mad outlaw in the woods, with a very merrie band of loons and psychopaths.

And I Queried: How to Spend Some Amazon Points

I have one of those Amazon credit cards that racks up points one can spend in lieu of cash on stuff there. The balance is rapidly approaching a sum amenable to a number of game-related products I’d like to buy.

Express your opinion, o readers of Held Action. What do you think I should get? I make no promises, but I am open to suggestions of things I hadn’t considered.

[Tuesday Night Board Games] Miskatonic Horror

I may have to rethink my decision not to pick up Miskatonic Horror. Last night at Quarterstaff, Dan took advantage of the store’s Facebook check-in discount to snag the latest expansion to Arkham Horror.

From online accounts and promotional material, I already knew it was a heap o’ new cards to mix into all the other existing expansions. But I didn’t know much in the way of the details. And that’s Miskatonic Horror got my attention.

Take the mythos cards, for example, the ones that determine where gates open, clues appear and other generally terrible things. One of the biggest drawbacks to mixing expansions is the mythos cards affecting the expansion towns — Dunwich, Kingsport and Innsmouth — are generally overwhelmed by all the cards affecting only the town of Arkham, which come from every other expansion.

In Miskatonic Horror, the designers came up with what seems like a neat way to resolve that. All the mythos cards have two gate locations listed. The rule is that on drawing, a gate opens at the top listed location if that location is in play, otherwise the gate appears at the second location. The same seems to hold true for clue tokens appearing, so this could be a very slick solution to making the outlying towns more active as well as appealing to visit. Who wouldn’t want to stroll around sleepy, gateless Kingsport, hoovering up precious clue tokens?

I will endeavor to be a smart consumer and give this a couple plays before picking it up myself — Dan’s already talking about holding an “all-in” game at his house — but Miskatonic Horror‘s off to a strong start in drawing me in.

The Occult Nature of Urban Renewal

Public domain image hosted by Wikipedia.

That is John Evelyn’s proposed plan for rebuilding London after the Great Fire of 1666. See anything familiar about it? It leapt right out at me, possibly thanks to the context in which it was referenced at Yog-Sothoth.com. Consider now this image, rotated to aid comparison:

Graphic by Eliyak, made public domain.

That’s right, Evelyn based his street layout on the kabbalah’s Tree of Life. My innate knowledge of London is sufficiently weak that I can’t line up locations with any confidence beyond St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is kindly marked on the details for Evelyn’s plan as location 8, meaning it corresponds with the sephiroth of Yesod, associated with Foundation, the moon and “the role of collecting and balancing the different and opposing energies of Hod and Netzach, and also from Tiphereth above it, storing and distributing it throughout the world. It is likened to the ‘engine-room’ of creation.”[1]

As Wren’s St. Paul’s was to be the centerpiece of the new London, perhaps St. Paul’s was to become the threshold between realms, as well as an “engine-room” receiving energy from the other places of power in Evelyn’s plan. To power what? Otherworldly portals? Memetic stabilizers to help London keep its conceptual shape and power?

In our history, Evelyn’s proposed layout for London never came to fruition. The rebuilt streets followed much the same lines as their predecessors and the general configuration survives today. Christopher Wren still had a hand in redesigning many other churches around London, in addition to St. Paul’s and infused them with plenty of mystic symbolism.[2]

[1] From Wikipedia’s article on Yesod.

[2] Alan Moore’s graphic novel From Hell contains a chapter which is, essentially, a tour of Wren’s churches that dissects the Masonic elements of his designs and — I think — some of the significance of their locations around London.


Dan of More Than Dice has a cool concept for a cardsharp cursed with immortality and the ability to inflict good and bad fortune on anyone who takes a card: Jack of Spades: Cursed Hero.

I especially dig the representation of the Deck of Fates in HERO terms. It adds an element of randomness that one doesn’t often find in super hero combat.

Uncovering Dusty Tomes

In pursuit of perfecting my home’s feng shui last night, I stumbled across a number of folios holding printed PDFs I accrued in the dawning days of role-playing’s adoption of the medium. Highlights include:

  • Issue 1 of Franklyn’s Almanack, the rapidly discontinued supplement series to Northern Crown. I liked the setting a lot, but never got to reading the first issue, let alone printing the second — which I did purchase, mind.
  • A host of Hero Games’ quickie Pulp Hero PDFs. My favorite remains Inner-Earth, a mini-setting describing a hollow Earth set-up with Aztecs, dinosaurs, Nazis and more. I got good use out of that setting for an Adventure! one-shot.
  • Executive Decision and …In Spaaace!, a pair of freebie — early subjects of the ransom funding model, perhaps? — games by Greg Stolze.
  • A pair of Trinity supplements, Terra Verde and Asia Ascendant; the latter only made it to manuscript stage, as the line was discontinued.
  • Many of Ronin Arts’ Mutants & Masterminds Archetype Archives. These were great: tons of archetypal starting characters to help games get underway. Only the one time I got to break them out, the players were insistent nothing there suited their individual visions. So it goes.
  • Kithbook: Pooka, my first-ever PDF purchase, and really, emblematic of my experiences with the species: buy PDF, print PDF, read print-out, forget about it. And I even slipped it in a super-fancy folio, with frosted transparent cover.

Some of this stuff is going away. I’ll keep the Almanack, Pulp Hero stuff and Stolze games, as they could still come in handy. The Trinity stuff I’m going to recycle. The Pooka book I will pass on to the fine fellow who cleaned out my Changeling: the Dreaming collection last month.

Bookhounds of London Ephemera Game

There’s a pretty awesome thread happening over at Yog-Sothoth.com as owners of the limited edition of Bookhounds of London[1] “correlate the contents” of the bits and bobs that shipped with their books.

I didn’t realize the mysterious death of Augustus Darcy would turn out to be a collaborative alternate reality game. I think that might have motivated me to pick up the limited edition, if I realized it would involve owners comparing unique bits of evidence. Coinage, books, receipts and more; those satchels are full!

There is an as yet unsolved cipher, lots of mutilated street maps with keys of Dee’s Aethyr scrawled on them, metal badges resembling the original elder sign Lovecraft devised and one very interesting bit that could be the kabbalistic Tree of Life as a network of Underground stations.

Needless to say, I am following the forum thread with great interest.

[1] Why yes, I do mean to write about Bookhounds of London. At some point.

Waterbury Board Games

For those of you in the Waterbury area looking for some European board game action, look no further than the aptly named Waterbury Board Games meetup group. They convene Wednesday evenings, so you can think of it as a pleasant mid-week destressor.