Item: Curse of Strahd developments
“I am not staring into the Abyss [SPOILER]; I Am The Abyss!” – Strahd von Zarcovish
The main reason getting back into my grove is prep work in my two Curse of Strahd tables, especially the Friday Table. I had to take my time in dealing with Castle Ravenloft itself, because I changed a lot of the stuff in there: Moved some brides around, altered some rooms, and added in “The Herd,” the group of thirty something maidens in uniform that Strahd feeds on so he won’t be a complete monster in the gameplay.
Had to. I revealed the main villain of the group: Tatyanna. In my version of Curse of Strahd, the backstory is different: An enemy of Strahd killed Sergi, kidnapped Tatyanna, and prompted Strahd to become a vampire. For a yet unknown reason, Tatyanna returns as a Vampire to exact revenge on her brother in law. (A mini spoiler: She’s convinced that Strahd is the cause of her husband’s death.) Now those who read the cannon version of Ravenloft know that Tatyanna would never willingly be turned. Someone did this to her. Who? Stay Tuned.
Item: The PC tables.
By now you realized that I’ve dropped streaming the Sunday table on technical issues. An AMD A8 with an on-board GPU can only do so much, even with Infiniscene. Somehow I knew that Tabletop Simulator was pushing it.
Which is sad because of my character there, Justin (using the new Engineer Class I made,) is in a quandary: One of his teammates, Ildar (Yes, the infamous full of hot air preaching paladin of Lathander) is being possessed by this avenging spirit, who takes over his body and compels him to kill bad guys even after they’ve been subdued. In my book, that’s a warning flag of Nietzschian territories: “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” Justin feats that this will happen to Ildar, and I roleplay it with palpable dread: I see Justin putting a crossbow bolt to Ildar’s head because of this, and he almost did just that while Ildar’s player, Spacehampzter Boo, was away.
That’s my thoughts on people who are Lawful Good, or even just Lawful Stupid who tends to be a Knight Templar. I see the 9-part Alignment Table with wraparound borders, and it’s possible for a LG character to take things too far and end up in the opposite side, to either Lawful Evil or—gods help us—Chaotic Evil.
This is something my version of Strahd knows too well. Because he has seen firsthand how this dynamic happens, and caused what should’ve been good men to do stuff that will disgust even him. And nothing has this abyss staring back at them than the Knight Templar characters. Sunday Table!Justin might be a bit young to learn that you should stop Knight Templars from becoming the evil they’re fighting, even if kinslaying is required to do it. (Remember, folks, Jamie Lannister did a good thing by killing the Mad King, even if he did get cursed because of it.) I just hope he doesn’t have to pull the trigger himself.
As for the Saturday Table, we’re just about at the end of the Lost Mine Campaign, and Densil wanted oh so much to get a TPK a couple weeks back. He stocked his Wave Echo Cave with upgraded zombies inspired from the video game Dying Light. He put about four dozen of these transforming light-phobic assholes in the dungeon and we managed to get just about all of them gunning for us.
Until Claire saved our bacon by wrecking Denzil’s plans. Her character was a 10th Level Cleric who has her Divine Intervention feature active, and rolled exactly on the number she needed to get her wish granted. The looming TPK (with the poor death of my dear Drunken Panda) turned into a curb stomp.
Denzil now knows how I feel. I never could resist schadenfreude. Especially when I have an even worse inspiration for my own zombies in Curse of Strahd.
By now everyone’s now at 14th level, which might call for something of a Stable rule. It’s a feature swimming through my head where you have all of your PCs together and they pool all the gold, magic items, and what have you. New PCs enter this stable and can pick a magic item that another character acquired to give the new Level 1 a bit more survivability. I still need to work on that mechanic, but I’ll have a place for that:
Item: Æthercoil Magazine
The success I got from my documents form DriveThruRPG, however meager that it is, is encouraging me to continue contributing to that site. However, I have a bunch of smaller items that won’t fill a PDF large enough for me to warrant a submission, even if I add illustrations. Also, I needed to keep progress toward my ultimate goal of making the Æthercoil Campaign Book.
Hence my starting a periodical for DriveThruRPG, Æthercoil Magazine. This will house all of my smaller additions, such as Character Races, Archetypes, feats and spells, background, and others. It’ll also be where I start writing on the Æthercoil setting with background essays, sample adventures, and even stories set in that world. I’m working on the first one now with both text and document design.
I’m even planning on buying a really good Photoshop plugin for the occasion. A friend of mine in DeviantART suggested Lazy Nezumi Pro, a plugin that helps people do line art on the computer. I downloaded the trial to work on an illustration for this magazine and I have to say, this is going to be $35 well spent.
One of my biggest problems I have with my artwork is the inking. I tend to ink in a Ligne Claire style, using a uniform line width. Problem is, I normally use felt pens because they’re more natural. I also have a heavy hand, which results in rather suboptimal inking. I wanted to ink using the computer, but as you might expect, getting the inked lines right on a computer can be a pain.
Enter Lazy Nezumi Pro, which makes drawing smooth lines considerably easier, it even has a restraint system that does straight lines, circles, perspective work, and several others that is an improvement on the Quick Shapes feature on Draw Plus. (It can also work with Serif Draw Plus with its Hooking function which I had to experiment with. Bonus.) I’m definitely going to be using this plugin; it’ll make my artwork better.