Archive for December, 2016


Leaving December and the Year MMXVI, Welcome MMXVII

31 December, 2016

JanusJanuary and the New Year and are just around the corner.   Good fortune to all in MMXVII!

January is named after Janus (Ianuarius) the god of doorways, pictured as looking both forward and back.   We will revisit the themes of doorways, transport and travel for January what with moving into the New Year and all.  As usual, if there is something on this theme you would like to see, let me know.

My main goal for 2017 will be to get the Sea of Stars campaign setting finished and out to its backers, really this time.

Looking back over December, 2016, not an entirely quite month:

Read the rest of this entry ?


Definition – Terrorist and Guerilla

30 December, 2016

Watching Rogue One yesterday (thoughts on that here), the interplay between the various factions among the Rebel Alliance, and former members of the Alliance, brought this subject back to mind.  What sorts a terrorist from a guerilla fighter?  Villain from hero?

The debate over the definition of terrorism is actually surprisingly fraught with politics, but mine is this:

  • Terrorism, the use or threat of violence by non-state actors to cause or inspire terror for political ends.  It is ethically and morally reprehensible and usually counter productive to the aims of the organization using terrorism.

States can certainly use terror as a weapon as well, but that is a war crime or crime against humanity, depending on how it is used. and by which part of the state.

  • Guerrilla Warfare, is irregular warfare usually conducted by non-military persons against the military, security and structural forces of a state.  Guerillas often use their ability to blend in with the people to their advantage and try to minimize their infliction of non-combatant casualties, their attacks are designed to weaken the power and legitimacy of the targeted state with the intention of overthrowing it.  It is a legitimate, if little liked, branch of warfare.

States use counter-insurgency (or COIN) tactics to try and divorce guerrilla movements from their support in the general populace, these tactics often shade into government sponsored tactics especially when used by authoritarian regimes.

For historical examples, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) of the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21) were guerillas, the modern IRA factions (1969-current) veer between terrorism and guerrilla warfare, leaning more towards the former.  The Chechen independence forces started as guerrillas and became terrorists after brutal Russian tactics crushed their bid for freedom from the Russian state, the move to terroristic tactics cost the Chechen what support they had among the Russian people.

Modern reporting tends to blur these two types of violence together, any attack against the United States or its allies by irregular forces is called terrorism, regardless of target type or purpose of the attack.  Terrorism is an overused word and overuse of it blurs understanding of current situations.

But, back on track, in Star Wars, the Rebel Alliance seeks to be guerillas but the implication in Rogue One is that some, perhaps quite a few, of the factions had moved into terrorism against the Empire and some had been cast out because of it.  This is an excellent moral conundrum that most rebel groups will encounter sooner or later (probably soon) and make for good drama and conflict in games.

Just some things that have been bouncing around in my head for a while, make of them what you will.




Thoughts on Rogue One

28 December, 2016

Rogue One posterFinally got to see Rogue One today, which was a little bittersweet following yesterday’s new of Carrie Fisher’s death.  May the Force be with you, always, Carrie.

Firstly, the spoiler free section: I found Rogue One highly engaging and it served as a solid bridge from the end of the prequel trilogy to the situation at the beginning of A New Hope (or Star Wars as I still think of it).  It definitely shades into war movie and is easily the darkest of all of the movies.

The special effects are magnificent and the action scenes flow nicely.  But action does dominate to the expense of character development, Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones) is the only one who gets close to a character arc.  Overall, the cast is solid and we see many cameos of characters from the earlier films, neatly folding Rogue One into its place in continuity.  If you are even a casual fan of the series, it is worth seeing.

Some more complex, and spoilish thoughts, follow:

Read the rest of this entry ?


Tuesday Magic Item – Timekeeper’s Talisman

27 December, 2016

Like sand through an hourglass“Our new ally seems to have a remarkable ability to be in the right place at the right time,” said Voddick.

Gollaon nodded.  “Time certainly has something to do with it.  I think she has access to some sort of chronourgic item.”


“The magic of time, somehow, she perceives its flows and can occasionally manipulate them.”

“That sounds handy.”

Timekeeper’s Talisman

These items are almost always made of tarnished silver (even when new, the silver is tarnished) and are a fine hourglass filled with pale pink crystalline sand on a strong silver chain.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Review – HARP Fantasy Loot

22 December, 2016

Loot!HARP Fantasy Loot is more than just lists of treasure, it has some good world building advice folded in and a very complete set of magic item creation rules.  It should be indispensable for a HARP GM and those of others systems can probably find a goodly amount of material as well but obviously the rule heavy parts would be of much less use.

HARP Fantasy Loot by Jonathan Cassie and published by Iron Crown Enterprises presents rules and advice for loot and treasure for the High Adventure Role Playing (HARP) system.  The layout is clean with sparse but good illustrations.  It begins with a short introduction and then moves into a look at what can be defined as loot beyond the obvious treasures, things such as information, items of sentimental value, trade goods and more are all potential loot.  This section provides useful advice and good things to keep in mind for a GM.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Tuesday Magic Item – Sadaqah Coin

20 December, 2016

Give out of kindness“Why would anyone want to kill such a pious and generous man?” asked Voddick, looking down from his rooftop vantage point into the bazaar.

“There is always someone who dislikes the air of sanctity,” replied Gollaon, testing the draw on his bow.

“Well, people could stand to be nicer to one another is all that I am saying.”

“I dare say that you are right.”

Sadaqah Coin

This coin are struck from common by hard wearing metal such as iron or bronze and usually show marks of wear and handling.  They are marked with prayers of charity on both sides and occasion a symbol of kindness.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Tuesday Magic Item – Lucia’s Crown of Light

13 December, 2016

Let the light guide you“Nice to be helping for a change,” said Voddick carrying a large sack, and following behind the young woman with her glowing crown.

“Indeed,” agreed Gollaon, “better to bring weal rather than woe.”

“It is unfortunate that such tasks are usually well outside our employment.”

“Well, we are exceptionally skilled mercenaries, such skills generally involve helping people by protecting them from worse people.”


Lucia’s Crown of Light

These blessed items appear as a wreath of leaves that are evergreen.  When worn by one of good intentions or holy spirit, a ring of lights appear around the wreath bathing the area around it in holy light.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Tuesday Magic Item – Ice Wyrm Bow

6 December, 2016

Cold as ice“This chill is seeping into my bones,” groused Voddick.

Gollaon tightened the scarf he was wearing.  “I am not found of it either but we had best keep moving.”

Voddick stomped forward.  “I cannot feel my toes.”

“Well, do not complain too loudly or our guide might make it the last thing you do.”

“Aye, she is a wicked one and that bow of hers is none too friendly either.”

Ice Wyrm Bow

These composite bows are made from pieces of the nastiest monsters the frostlands contain but mostly ice wyrm bone and sinew which gives them a ivory and pale blue color with sparkles of ice crystals.  They are bitterly cold to the touch no matter the surrounding temperature and should not be handled with bare flesh.

Read the rest of this entry ?

%d bloggers like this: