Friday, October 3, 2014

Staples are out!

Staples are out!

My wife saw her doctor today and the staples were taken out. Her kidney infection and pneumonia are in retreat. She has about another six more weeks to heal but things are starting to look a little brighter,

As always any help you folks out there can give would be really appreciated. I went through the last of my vacation time so any hours I miss to take Ness to the doctors come out of our bottom line.

And I am not sure if we still have a bottom line at all these days. Maybe it's a hyphen.

The Binder of Shame (The Second Edition) #1 The Dammed Treasure of Lord deGreasy

The Binder of Shame
The Second Edition
#1 The Dammed Treasure of Lord deGreasy

A winter invasion of Russia, a movie starring Vanilla Ice, a D&D campaign run by Deviant Boy- bad ideas one and all . The time was the late 80's, the place was Deviant Boy's parent's attic. He was using their pull out bed to sleep on and their pool table to game on. Both surfaces were equally crusty...

El Disgusto: “You're playing a what?”

Me: “A fighter.”

Deviant Boy: “I said you could play anything.”

Me: “And I am playing a fighter.”

El Disgusto: “For a writer you sure lack imagination.”

Me: “Maybe I figure we needed one normal character for this adventure.”

El Disgusto: “What's not normal with me playing a ninja.”

Me: “It's you playing a ninja, that's what's not normal. You'll make it not normal from roll number one.”

Psycho Dave: “And I'm just playing a regular old thief that happens to have 18 double zero strength”

Me: “And who happens to be a Deep One.”

Psycho Dave: “History and the writings of HP Lovecraft show that subhuman races are more likely to become involved in crime. What I'm doing is role playing at it's finest.”

Me: “And you Weasly, you're playing a Techno from the Arduin Grimmores.”

Weasly Crusher: “At level 100 I get a spaceship!”

Me: “And then there's Old Yellowbelly playing a Pacifist.”

Old Yellowbelly: “A Pacifist Druid. It's in the books.”

Me: “Come on. A Pacifist character in D&D? That's like kissing your sister.”

Deviant Boy: “This is second edition so it's more like a handjob.”

Lets everyone pause for a shudder shall we?
So it came to pass that our strange little party of mostly useless characters were called before the king for a mission that an ancient soothsayer predicted would our the first step on leaving leaving a great mark upon the world of Greyhawk.

Deviant Boy: “Do you kneel before Lord deGreasy?”

Weasly Crusher: “Only if he doesn't wave his royal scepter in our faces.”

Old Yellowbelly: “I'll just curl into a ball.”

El Disgust: “Being a ninja I just blend in with my surroundings.”

Me: “Not bad considering you're standing in the middle of a group of half-baked character concepts.”

Psycho Dave: “For the love of Himmler just give us our quest!”

The quest was a simple one, go the Pearl Jam Foothills of White Plume Mountain and liberate Lord deGreasy's treasure horde from the terrifying...

The terrifying...

Old Yellowbelly: “What the Hell is a Lich Beaver? And does it drain life levels?”

Deviant Boy: “The Lich Beaver is a Giant Beaver that has been possessed by a Demi-Lich.”

Me: “Not the most threatening of host bodies.”

Old Yellowbelly: “Why cares? IT DRAINS LIFE LEVELS!!! We have to go back!”

Me: “We haven't left the castle yet.”

Weasly Crusher: “And we're only level one!”

Psycho Dave: “Lets ride!"

El Disgusto: "This damn treasure horde better have katanas that's all I've gotta say."

Psycho Dave: "Let's. Ride."

Naturally that wasn't all El Disgusto had to say, he had several hours of rules arguments and personal insults ahead of him. it was slow going, not just because of we were trying to avoid wandering monster encounters but also because every few miles we would realize Old Yellowbelly's Pacifist Druid had doubled back for the castle. Did we go back and get him to encourage party loyalty or to taken advantage of his Cure Light Wound spells?

You decide...

Deviant Boy: "And the giant turtle attacks!"

Old Yellowbelly: "But I was trying to reason with it!"

Deviant Boy: "That's why it attacks you first."

El Disgusto: "I hold back and blend in with my surroundings."

The d20's were not kind to Old Yellowbelly, he lost half his hit points in a single chomp but I'll give him credit, it didn't stop him...

Old Yellowbelly: "I reason with it even harder!"

Me: "I attack!"

Psycho Dave: "I backstab!"

Weasly Crusher: "I fire my flintlock!"

Deviant Boy: "Not bad, the techno, thief and fighter wound the beast but it continues to maul the Pacifist Druid."

Old Yellowbelly: "I grovel!"

Me: "I attack!"

Psycho Dave: "I backstab!"

Weasly Crusher: "I reload my flintlock."

El Disgusto: "I continue to blend in with my surroundings."

Deviant Boy: "Aren't you still on your steed?"

El Disgusto: "Yeah. So?"

Me: "Well this isn't the first time he's looked like a horse's ass."

El Disgusto: "Laugh it up scuzz ball."

Deviant Boy: "The turtle rears and attacks the fighter!"

Me: "Do you mean it rears up and attacks me or that it attacks me with its rear?"

Deviant Boy: "Rears up."

Me: "Thanks. I can never be too sure with you."

Psycho Dave: "I backstab again!"

Old Yellowbelly: "I crawl away."

Weasly Crusher: "I am still reloading my flintlock..."

El Disgusto: "Now is my moment! I attack! GAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”

A frightened silence swept around the table as we watched El Disgusto roll his dice and pump his fist at the natural 18. When he finally looked up he asked...

El Disgusto: “What?”

Me: “That scream... what was with that scream?”

El Disgusto: “That is my battle cry.”

Me: “You mean your character's battle cry right?”

El Disgusto: “No. I didn't come here to play act what my ninja says. I came here to role-play.”

Me: “That was your battle cry? You have a battle cry now?”

El Disgusto: “Life is a war.”

Me: “I like to think life is what you make it.”

Psycho Dave: “All I know is that work makes you free.”

Me: “Jesus Dave- someday people are gonna revile you on the Internet for talking like that.”

Psycho Dave: “What's the Internet?”

Me: “I don't know.”

Old Yellowbelly: Is there a draft in here?”

Deviant Boy: “It's from the hole in the fourth wall over there.”

Three more combat encounters and two helpings of pizza rolls later our characters reached the deGreasy Tower...

Deviant Boy: “The mind controlled giant beavers have filled in the moat.”

Old Yellowbelly: “Damn.”

Weasly Crusher: “We need a plan. And I need my balls back.”

El Disgusto: “You'll get your stupid flintlock ammo back when you agree to give me half your take of the treasure.”

Psycho Dave: “I told you we should have raided that village of gnomes back there. We could have sent the prisoners in ahead of us.”

Old Yellowbelly: “That will be a slaughter!”

Weasly Crusher: “My character is Lawful Good, he won't take part in some dam atrocity.”

Me: “You know just because there's a pun to be made it doesn't mean you have to make it.”

Psycho Dave: “Maybe a frontal assault?”

Old Yellowbelly: “I'm not gonna die with a face full of beaver!”

Me: “That probably goes for all of us.”

El Disgusto: “My ninja can sneak in and lower the drawbridge, but then I get an extra share of the treasure.”

Weasly Crusher: “But what about my balls?”

Deviant Boy: “I love gaming...”

We ended up sending the ninja in ahead of us. Well throwing him really. The giant beavers swarmed out of the dam and turned the ninja into the consistency of nougat.

Old Yellowbelly's Pacifist Druid was the next to go- it was a complete surprise to all of us. Who knew you could get a cyanide tooth in Greyhawk?

That left the techno, the thief and the fighter...

Weasly Crusher: “...finally I'm reloaded! I fire.”

Deviant Boy: “The last beaver explodes wetly all over you.”

Psycho Dave: “That was a close shave.”

Me: “Is this what my life has come to?”

El Disgusto: “I seriously hate all you guys.”

Psycho Dave: “We charge into the tower. Is there any sign of the Lich?”

Me: “I search too!”

Weasly Crusher: “As soon as I'm re-loaded I help too.”

Deviant Boy: “You don't find the Lich but you do find the treasure room.”

Psycho Dave: “Excellent. You two stand guard while I search for magic items. With any luck I can find something that shoots fireballs.”

Me: “Maybe we should wait before we start dividing up the treasure.”

Psycho Dave: “For shame! Do I look like one of the lesser races? If we find a fireball weapon we can use it take out the Lich! It's been dead for centuries and very flammable.”

Me: “I don't think...”

Psycho Dave: “Trust me there's nothing worse than a dry beaver.”

Deviant Boy: “As you step into the treasure room you don't see coins or gems you see fifty naked halflings chained to every wall and twenty-five ribbed staffs with permanent Grease spells cast upon them. The halflings bat their eyes seductively at you.”


El Disgusto: “Hey! Get your own battle cry!”

Old Yellowbelly: “I have never been so happy to have my character be dead.”

Me: “Welcome to my world.”

Weasly Crusher: “This is the worst thing ever.”

El Disgusto: “I still hate you all.”

Deviant Boy: “Suddenly the Lich-Beaver teleports into the room! You're all too stunned to react.”

Me: “You're goddamn right we are.”

Deviant Boy: “Weasly have your character make a save versus magic.”

Weasly Crusher: “I just failed a saving throw versus magic.”

Deviant Boy: “As your friends watch in horror you are permanently transformed into a ribbed staff with a Grease spell cast on it.”

Weasly Crusher: “No. I was wrong. THIS is the worst thing ever.”

Me: “Wait a minute! Just a goddamn minute! Everybody stop.”

El Disgusto: “I feel a self-righteous speech coming on.”

Deviant Boy: “What's the matter?”

Me: “Why does everything have to be so... so puerile with you?”

Deviant Boy: “What's wrong with a little mature entertainment?”

Me: “This is not mature entertainment. This is sad. This is pathetic. The Lord of the Rings didn't need a sleazy subtext and neither does a D&D game.”

Weasly Crusher: “You've obviously never heard his 'Brown Eye of Sauron' theory.”

And that's when I gave up...

Me: “Whatever. I attack the Lich.”

Weasly Crusher: “That's it! Avenge me! Split that beaver!”

Me: “Actually I'm just gonna fall on my sword over here. Have fun Dave.”

Psycho Dave: “So it all comes down to me again. Fine. I grab the staff that was Weasly and using my 18 double-zero strength I snap it in half.”

Deviant Boy: “But that will cause an explosion of magical force.”

Old Yellowbelly: “That will cause every other magic item in here to explode.”

El Disgusto: “You'll disintegrate the entire tower and all of us beyond any hope of resurrection.”

Weasly Crusher: “This is the nicest thing anyone has never done for one of my characters!”

And that's how the game ended, we got no glory, honor or experience points, Lord deGreasy never got his creepy treasure back and all we left behind was a something that could have been a crater full of D&D style K-Y jelly or a pink shoggoth but was probably a little of both.

I guess you could say our characters did leave their mark on the world of Greyhawk after all...

Uncle Al's Halloween Hoedown Day Three: MASK OF THE REDDEATH

Mask Of The Reddeath
Al Bruno III

Just an old man, dying and alone in a mansion that had once been so alive with voices and activity. Rob Raymond was content with that. After all he had lived an amazing life, full of adventure and excitement. He had always thought he would die young and in a blaze of glory like so many of his contemporaries, but he had outlived them all.

He spent most of his time in his study reading, listening to music and occasionally sleeping in his favorite chair. When he was hungry- and that was a rare thing now- he would shuffle down to the kitchen and open a can of anything and eat it uncooked. Once there had been servants to wait on him hand and foot but Rob had sent them away with generous severance packages and glowing recommendations.

On the last night of his life he wandered through the darkened study wearing his silk pajamas and thick purple bathrobe. He would pause before each of his mementoes to smile or frown in remembrance;

a black gauntlet festooned with wires and missing a finger.

a framed newspaper page, the headline CRIME SPREE ENDS IN DEATH hovers above a grainy black and white photograph of two dark figures lurching off of a rooftop.

the bronzed skull of a gorilla.

a wall of medals.

a green scarf with a drop of blood.

a framed photograph, old friends around a round table, all but one of them is looking at the camera.

Rob paused at that photograph until finally he took it down and stared long and hard at the time lost faces. His friends, like his adversaries, were all gone now. His wife had passed away years ago and his son hadn't spoken to him in years. Rob’s adopted daughter tried to keep in touch but she was always traveling, always busy.

And that was just as well wasn’t it? Would he really have wanted to have them fussing over him at this stage and trying to make amends for long forgotten disagreements.

A loud crash from downstairs and the sounds of shuffling footsteps shook him from his thoughts. The manor’s intercom system crackled to life, “You could not wait for death but I found you, oh I found you.”

Goosebumps ran over Rob’s skin at the sound of that voice.

There was no time to get to any of the still functioning keepsakes from his old life but he always kept one thing he still kept close at hand. He pulled the cowl from the pocket of his bathrobe.

It was silken and black and conformed perfectly to cover his face, when he wore it he could see in the dark and breathe in conditions that would kill a normal man. He still didn’t know where the fabric had come from or how it had been created.

With his features hidden he felt the old confidence return and the mundane agonies he had become so familiar with over the last six months seemed to fade away.

He was ShadoMask again.

Are you hiding?” The voice said, “Be honest now. You were always a little scared of me weren’t you?”

The door of the room splintered and fell open and figures shambled in. ShadoMask charged not even paying attention to anything more than the position of his attackers. They were just shapes to him, obstacles. Weakened as he was every swing of his arm or sweep of the leg was pushed him closer to nausea and exhaustion. The room seemed to tilt sideways around him.

Chuckling echoed through the manor, “Do you like them? They’re hand picked. I went to so much trouble.”

ShadoMask began to realize that not matter how much force he put behind his punches and kicks his adversaries stayed silent, impossibly silent.

They weren’t even breathing.

Then he began to recognize them.

...there was the American – fourteen years dead from a car crash but still dressed in red, white and blue.

...the crime lord Dragonfist was an arm's length away, he had died in the electric chair almost a generation ago but here he was blind and stumbling.

...Merlin Man was waiting just outside the doorway, his gadget laden top hat was gone and his costume was in tatters. He reek of the grave, the all did.

“What have you done?” ShadoMask’s voice was a whisper, then a shout, “Reddeath! What have you done?”

His old adversary purred at the sound of his name being spoken, “The black scrolls of Nephren-Ka old friend. I finally managed to liberate them, finally managed to have some real time alone with then. Oh such wonders, such wonders…”

The Reddeath had always been obsessed with the black scrolls of Nephren-Ka, he had committed atrocities in his pursuit of them and ShadoMask had stopped him every time.

But he was supposed to be dead. ShadoMask had seen the crimson cloaked menace fall from the gondola of an invisible zeppelin decades ago.

Do you think this is what it’s like to have your life pass before your eyes?”

With a cry of rage ShadoMask pushed through the doorway into the hall to find it crowded with long lost friends and enemies. They closed in but he fought back sending them tumbling down the stairs in groups of three and four.

I’m right on doorstep old friend,” the Reddeath said, “Can you reach me? Do you want to reach me?”

ShadoMask had to laugh, “Oh I’ll reach you all right.”

But there were so many shapes bearing down on him;

the Silver Claw, his head drooping at an obscene angle his pirate suit hanging off his tattered frame. His own henchmen had turned on him after growing tired of his increasingly elaborate nautical themed crimes.

the Brat, with his faux schoolboy outfit and his wizened expression. He had retired after a long prison sentence, even written a self-published memoir about his life of crime only to shoot himself when the scheme left him bankrupt.

the teen wonder Arachni-kid, his features forever young, the track marks on his arms hidden by his gaudy costume. He had showed so much promise.

Mr. Nice Guy’s smiley face costume was even more ludicrous in death, he had been a failure at fighting crime but a his child safety videos were still shown in schools all across the globe. A heart attack had claimed him as he answered fan mail, the rumor he had been found with a beatific grin.

ShadoFace’s mask was made from a flawed facsimile of the fabric ShadoMask’s cowl had been made from. A chemical instability in had left his face burned and twisted. He had eventually died in a madhouse.

Julie was last, still dressed in her funeral finery. The sight of her caused her husband to falter and she managed to claw his cowl from his face.

Rob was weeping as he knocked the walking corpse down the stairs, he could hear her bones shatter as they hit the landing. Reddeath was leaning in the doorway. Even in his blood-colored robes and skull mask he seemed sickly.

Oh,” he said. “Just like the old times, the best times.”

Unlike the horror movie cliché none of the bodies Rob had fought his way past stirred, that part of the game was over. He charged his old adversary, his bathrobe fluttering around him.

Then the pain flared up, not the constant mundane ache of the cancer, but a bolt of cold fire that bloomed out of his chest and rand down one of his arms leaving it numb and useless. He cursed, vowing that it would not end like this.

He forced himself to keep moving towards his enemy.

One step…



His legs failed him and he collapsed at the Reddeath’s feet. Rob couldn’t catch his breath and his vision was darkening. The Reddeath loomed over him and Rob managed to speak one last time and those final words surprised them both.

“Thank you.”