The Fall

The revolution was televised. The first six hours anyway. I watched the news, like most Americans as the president was stabbed three times in the back by a news person at a press conference on the tension in the US. I saw the Secret Service mow down half a room trying to regain control of the situation, and I like the rest of America saw our President bleed to death on prime time television.

I saw our Vice President address the country from Air Force one thirty-one seconds before it was attacked by a large caliber anti-aircraft weapon. No one knows who repaired the Flak88 on display at Wright Pat AFB but I remember seeing the footage of the artillery spinning on it’s axis before unloading a round at the still grounded plane. There were no survivors, and to this day no one knows who fired the shot.

I remember reading Los Angeles’ death one Twitter post at a time. Remember the posts of “I can hear the rioting far off, and it sounds like the cops are retreating” then “The mobs are getting close and I see fire and smoke everywhere” I can remember the frantic calls for help between the survivors, those who weren’t indulging in burning down everything, trying to form some defense network through social networking sites. I remember the last post too, a simple “They are inside” which chilled me to the bones.

Those of us in the Midwest were relatively well off. You started seeing the good ol’ boys out with their shotguns and AR15s, wearing camouflage as if they had been preparing for this for years. There was a lot of violence. Old feuds being worked out without the cops in the way to stop it. Heard of families being killed by others just because someone’s daughter got caught in someone’s son’s car.

We lasted six days before resorting to total anarchy. This was long enough for the people from the cities to realize that they were out of food, and Walmart’s everyday low prices weren’t quite an option anymore. You saw the cities abandoned overnight, and the small towns closest overfilled. Of course by now the news crews from every country in the world were there, covering how horrible things were. How everyone was fighting for the little food available and how they thought the mass migration out of the cities was soon going to spread to the next town down the line and so on and so forth. Then suddenly the next town decided that they didn’t like everyone from the next town down the road. Damn they had taken the local football rivalry too seriously, and well they had vandalized the local schools that one year for a senior prank. The roadblocks came next, buses parked at the entries to every town, filled with teens and old men, toting hunting and assault rifles, all wearing some secondhand camouflage waiting for someone to show up.

When your towns’ turn came to be hit up by the refugees there was always the talk of “we have guns, let’s turn them away”  and it was always talk, until the first town did it. The news crews were there, and for the first time ever you saw Americans killing Americans for food on prime time television. Then everywhere you turned towns were forcing back refugees, saying they had enough for themselves only. You saw the refugees try to take what they needed by force, and we witnessed the genocide start. The most powerful footage I saw was of a fourteen year old boy leap atop the hood of a bus with a mini-14 and shoot through both windshields to spray down everyone inside. A year ago this boy would have been sheepishly flirting with girls and trying not to fail algebra, now he was a freedom fighter.

The death tolls started rolling in, talks of mass graves found by the interstates, and even more bodies laying out in the open. There was no UN response to put down the violence, and no police to stop the chaos. We killed and killed and killed. No one had been prepared for this, no one had even more than a shred of supplies. There was always more. Until of course there isn’t.

It’s funny that today we are the country that countries send their  men to fight and die in. Our boys are the bushwhacking guerrillas fighting for the right to kill their neighbors. We forgot that every American had a responsibility more sacred than that of Husband, Father, Mother, or Wife, and that was to be prepared for America’s sake for anything that could happen.


Dnd How To

I was asked a few days ago to make a thousand word article on how I make my Dnd campaigns. Since I had a few twelve hour watches to make pass by I decided to take her up on the offer.

Reach into my rectum and pull something out. That’s how I come up with my Dnd campaigns.

In reality it starts with seeing something in a movie or TV show, or reading it in a book and going “damn I want to play something like this in a campaign. I want to play a character like this.” Then comes the eventuality of knowing that no one else can DM the campaign that I want to play so it is my job to create the game I want to play.

Next comes the laying down of facts of the universe. Is the physics and all that other shit in the world the same? Is the campaign set in space, underground, or on a different planet with different physics/gravity/composition? Once these things are sorted out next comes the setting. Is the majority of the play going to be in a large city environment or in a forest? I work out the things like population density, general characteristics of the populace, and what the people want. Next comes your extraordinary characters, your major NPCs (because the NPCs should be almost as strong as the player characters) and the major antagonists both active and circumstantial.

After all this comes your planned confrontations. This is when I start plotting out my quests, making sure that they will be challenging to my PCs but not rape you sideways with a vampire dungeon at level four. Your dungeons shouldn’t be any more or less detailed then your world. Focus on the major details and the fine description when planning and plotting out your dungeon. The general “the walls are slimy and wet, and it feels as if the cave has a breath of it’s own” is good, but this is the kind of detail that can be made up in the middle of the a game play session. I choose to focus then on the things like “as you advance down the  cave the floor begins to lower and you begin descending into the darkness. You feel a wave of evil envelop you as you cross into the darkness, and through your peripheral vision you see things that were not meant to be seen by the human eye. The walls are covered with runic writing and pictures carved into the rock. The pictures depict tentacles and humans praying to a illithid crustacean creature.” As you can see, a little bit of planning your description goes a long way and turned this run of the mill dungeon into an almost Cthulhuoid universe.

A few other major points to cover on your dungeons is “How do they interact with the rest of the world?” Your dungeon of oversized toads is cool, but how have they been eating for the past 200 years for them to grow so large? Your den of Vampires living in the second story of an opium den, how are they feeding? What is the local populace noticing about these occurrences. Are there witnesses to the attacks (from the toads most likely, the vampires maybe not.) and if this dungeon is widely known about what has the local populace done to try and wipe it out? A perfect example of this is the Lamplight Caverns in Fallout 3. The kids knew that they didn’t have the power to take out the mire lurks, so instead they built a wall and posted a guard. What has your community done along these lines?

Finally you need to make your characters NEED to clear out these dungeons. They need to feel a deep reason to want to endanger themselves, and not just because “there are shiny things in the dungeon!” or because it is expected. If the characters are from the area have there be a psychological need to help them save their town such as a PC’s sister was abducted by the vampires running the opium den. Now not only do they have a reason to raid the place but now they have a reason not to just burn the entire building to the ground. If the characters are from outside an area develop a relationship with a local to the party. It could be a young fatherless boy attaching himself to a paladin because the paladin makes him feel safe, or it could be a lover, developing a relationship with the young wizard. Don’t be afraid to make these relationships feel real. Don’t be afraid to make your young lover promise to sleep with the wizard if he saves her sister, or does something a little shady to make some money for her.

Consider the reality of the universe you create. The good needs to be counteracted by the evil, and vice versa. If vampires are running amuck killing openly and all that fun stuff then there will be large groups of paladins traveling through the country side seeking to banish this evil. Once the evil banished these groups will begin to fall apart due to a lack of need. On the opposite side of things once the evil lords have taken over infighting will begin. Anyone willing to wage the kind of war that evil wages is in fact unreliable enough to fight you months later for more territory. Your populace needs to be the opposite of the leading class, because a leaderless country will never work.  A little mutual hate never hurt anyone (and in fact it is pretty normal except in cases of truly “people’s leaders” which in Dnd would be your paladin king and thief lord.)

Balance is everything, engage your players, and make the story not quite all about them. The players are a major player in the story, but they aren’t the only players.

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