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Getting Scooter to explain anything can be an exercise in confusion, due to his habit of fixating on what elements are interesting to him, and a tendency to add whatever flights of fancy he had, when his mind started to wander mid-conversation.

GM: So, who wants to recap?
Hero Shrew: Apparently there’s a Seal-Moreau who’s interested in me.

Game temporarily halted to assist Damselfly in distress.

Allana has ensured that the Marine-Moreau community has an alarm beacon in case Genesys finds them. But she still doesn’t tell the rest of us about them. Perhaps we just have to wait until they kidnap Invisible Girl.

Flux: ‘We have Invisible Girl!’
Fireflash: How can you tell?

Hardlight OoC: So, what do we do now? Wait for the Bat-signal to go off?
Flux OoC: What Bat-signal?
Hero Shrew OoC: *points at Allana*
Flux OoC: Oh, right. I guess it really is a Bat-Signal. Huh.
Hardlight: I suppose I could ask the ECPD to install a searchlight…
Fireflash: No, a Bat-signal is a terribly inefficient message system. I HAVE a phone.
Hero Shrew: Plus this isn’t Gotham, it’s California, so we don’t have permanent overcast.

GM: I was trying to come up for a villain for you this week. Maybe a Matrioshka Brain.
Hero Shrew OoC: I don’t think we’re ready for Cosmic-Level threats yet.
Fireflash OoC: I’m sorry, but anything that registers on the Kardashev Scale is Too Much.

Crusher Joe has arrived in town, as part of the mentor system in place for newer superheroes.

Hero Shrew: Oh RIGHT, he’s mentoring me, not the other way around.
GM: Yes, this was made very very clear to you.

He has overalls for Scooter to wear.

Crusher Joe: And this a hard hat. Because of regulations.

Crusher Joe: I’ve always found it a good idea to get a superstrong hero to patch a wall or two. After you’ve fixed a few, you think twice before punching someone through one.
Hero Shrew: How long have you been patching walls for?
Crusher Joe: About 20 years.
Hero Shrew: Were things different back then? Did you have a Bat-signal?

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Wrath and Glory - Demo Game

Playing one of the Wrath and Glory 40K RPG demo games. Spoilers ahead

Sister Abigail Casserina - Sister-Hospitaller
Brother Andar - Imperial Fists Space Marine
Brother Zeriel Balor - Blood Angel Space Marine
Adept Rotus Ilus - Tech-priest
An Moet-Chandon - Inquisitorial Acolyte

Introducing the characters

GM: I’ll start with somebody who still technically human.

Brother Zeriel: I was told I needed more practise interacting with humans.
An Moet-Chandon OoC: And the Imperial Fist is sitting in the other corner of the Chapterhouse building pillow forts.

Going to a hospital to collect a team-member, injured in a previous mission. And, of course, keeping our eyes open for any signs of heresy, thoughtcrime, or impiety. Suddenly, Zombies! In hospital smocks.

An Moet-Chandon: Backsliders!

Not long after, we’re putting the last zombies down, as well as any civilians that managed to get themselves bitten. No doubt their faith was insufficient.

An Moet-Chandon: May the Emperor forgive your failings, for I cannot! *BLAM*

Adept Ilus locks the building down and starts looking through the pict-records for anybody that may have snuck out the side exits, and where the poxwalkers originated. Brother Andar heads down to supervise the the purging of the Mortuary when we find out. Moet-Chandon orders the hospital security to assemble everybody in the foyer for questioning.

Brother Zerial Balor: It’s not difficult - gather them here, or we burn the hospital to the ground. This hospital is clearly tainted.

Brother Zerial Balor: Given I’m going room to room…
Expectant Parents: What shall we name our child?
Zerial: *Kicks in door, waves chainsaw* No daemons? Right, everybody to the foyer.
Expectant Parents: *gawps* How about Dante? Or Sanguinius?
Tech-Adept Ilus: How about ‘Induced Labour?’

spoilers aheadCollapse )
Heading downriver to the Osirion equivalent of Alexandria, Tephu, so Nemat can hit the Great Library. It’s one of three cities in the estuary, but Tephu made its fortune from papyrus. Also like Alexandria, they search any visiting ships for books and scrolls they don’t already have. And we have a Handy Haversack filled to the brim with books they don’t have. Although Nemat’s diary is going to be difficult to copy, given a third of it is written with the Hidden Page spell, a third can only be read by the light of fire beetles, and it’s all written in three different dead languages.

Asrian: We look for a ferry that won’t sink halfway.
GM: So you avoid Crazy Hassan’s floating camels then ‘Very good amphibious camels!’

GM: One of the farmers has noticed his son/armhand, is asleep on the job, and is trying to shake them awake. It’s not working.
Zenobia OoC: We’ve barely left town and already someone’s dead.
Nemat: *conjures water to drop on the boy’s head*
GM: It doesn’t wake him up.
Nemat: That’s not good.
GM: And then the farmer starts falling asleep. And some of the livestock. And Zenobia.
Nemat: And that really not good. Hey! You! Stay awake!
Zenobia: *yawning toothily* Wake me up when we get to the capital *passes out*

GM: There’s definitely something casting magic on the boat, but you can’t see it.
Nemat: Damn - we can’t attack something we can’t see. Oh, wait. *casts See The Invisible*
GM: What the EFF is THAT?!

It’s some kind of nightmarish animated dream creature. Zenobia gets shaken awake, but is still very groggy.

Zenobia OoC: Apparently I’m not a morning person.
Asrian OoC: Well, we did get a lot of exercise last night.

Animated Dream Monster: You know, this isn’t working out, I’m going to go eat somebody else inst-
Nemat OoC: Except it’s not it’s turn yet.
GM: I know, that’s just what goes through it’s head before you cut it off.

The Book Inspector can barely contain his glee at the haul of books the party has brought down from Wati. Nemat is certainly going to be a welcome visiting scholar while we look up any information of the Sky Pharaoh and the Forgotten Pharaoh.

Nemat rents us a luxury suite of rooms on the outskirts of Tephu.

Zenobia: I wonder who they think will be using the double bed. I guessing that Asrian and I won’t be their first guess.

Nemat: I will nip in the bud any plan that might get me banned from the Library.

Hemeda the Librarian: Ah, yes, the Covenant of Wati - the list of books you brought down is MOST impressive. How many the Library be of assistance to your research?
Nemat: We wish to learn what we can of the Pharaoh Hakotep the First.
Hemeda: … I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of this Pharaoh.
Asrian: He’s also known as the Forgotten Pharaoh.
Nemat: We have his mask here - but be careful with it, it contains his ka.
Hemeda: I’d ask WHY you have the mask of an unknown pharaoh, but… Well. Since your donation to the catalogue is so extensive, I’ll waive the first week of fees.

The library also waive the fees of anybody seriously injured exploring The Stacks.

Nemat: At least they have a slight idea about public safety.

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First, a few quotes best out of context

Hardlight: I have a arch-nemesis.
Hero Shrew: Who, your counterpart from the Evil Universe who makes you look bad by actually being good at your job?
Hardlight: No! Centurion! MY ARCH-NEMESIS…. Who doesn’t know anything about me.

Fireflash’s ongoing problems of finding a scorchproof lover

GM: Most of the energy beings are asexual, which doesn’t help Fireflash much.
Hero Shrew: Some sort of quantum superposition?
Fireflash: Well, that’d BETTER be a super position!

Anyway - the five members of Quadrant managed to beat up two kaiju before they could level too many city blocks, and before a giant mecha could turn the monster tussle into a threesome. But the pilot of that has an interesting story - he’d persuaded Humanity First to bankroll it and when an opportunity to be a superhero showed up, nicked it. This probably going to be worth chasing up later, but there’s a more urgent issue, especially for Hero Shrew and Allana. Because the Terrorsaurus that was fighting the Monstersaurus was created using the same techniques Genesys used to create the Moreaus. And the control and radar signals are coming from a sub in the bay. There’s also that giant invisible squid we encountered before, but it’s asleep, or in stasis.

Flux: None of us could figure out how to operate the giant squid so we’re leaving it for the professionals.

On the sub are five Genesys scientists, and a Chimp-Moreau that they were using as a living hard drive. With a built-in neural pruning organism that the bad guys activate when we smash our way in. Happily, Allana is a very very very good medic, and her needles could fit down the optic nerve canal, and she’s careful enough that the neural pruner won’t spread if contagious. And Flux can copy the electronic versions of the data of their computer systems. So know we know everything that Genesys have been up to for the last 15 years, and the location of the the giant abalone-sub they’ve been hiding in.

On the other hand, the Clean-up Crew would like to know what happened to about 5 kilos of Monstersaurus. It looks like it was cut out.

Hero Shrew: Well, I think I punched out some of its teeth - did you get all those?

Maybe the street cameras or the media blimps saw something - but the later would want big bucks for the footage.

Flux: Call our PR guy ‘Please negotiate for the footage - because it was awesome!’

Hero Shrew does find footage that looks like something is cutting out monster steaks, which then vanish. There’s no sign of a stealth-field fringe, or the lip of an invisible bag swallowing the samples.

Hero Shrew: … It’s not Doctor Soma is it?
GM: Oh look, it’s her!
Flux: Her Somebody-Else’s-Problem works through cameras????
GM: Yeah - but fails against anybody actually looking for her. Which is a big problem for an invisibility field.

Hero Shrew: Well, it’s probably not urgent that we find out why Dr Soma wants monster steaks.
GM: She IS an expert in abnormal physiology.
Hero Shrew: And Monstersauri are pretty abnormal.
Flux: Not that abnormal - they’re just giant T. rexes that breath fire.
Fireflash: And that’s normal in which universe?
Allana: This one, apparently.
GM: At least you stopped Genesys getting a sample to use their Moreau Process on.
All: *get cold sweats*

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#1373 - Armina sp. - Pinstripe Sea Slug

Managed to get some snorkeling in this season, and @gemfyre spotted this unusual sea slug during a group outing to the Kwinana Grain Terminal, a long jetty sticking out into a shallow sandy bay. 

The Arminidae are unusual for nudibranchs in that they don’t have visible external gills, but that might be because they spend time buried in the sand, which is not something you want to clog up your gills with. Their diet is pretty specialised too - they only eat sea pens and sea pansies, colonial cnidaria that also live in sandy areas. An Armina eating a sea pen can be quite spectacular, since the sea pens give off a flash of bioluminescence each time the slug takes a bite.

#1374 - Acetabularia sp. - Mermaid’s Wineglass

Most likely Acetabularia caliculus. AKA Umbrella Alga

Spotted by Frances Hammond while they were snorkeling at Woodman Point. I was excessively excited to see the photo, since I didn’t know Acetabularia even grew around here. It’s most common in tropical seas, but extends into warm temperate areas as well, which explains why we have it this far south.

It might not look like much, since each stem is only 3 or 4 cm long, but the fascinating thing about it is that each thallus is a single cell, with the nucleus down in the rhizoid. That makes it a wonderful test subject for studies of cell biology, and from the 1930s–1950s Joachim Hämmerling’s experiments proved that Acetabularia’s genetic information is contained in the nucleus. This was the first demonstration that genes are encoded by DNA in eukaryotes.

Spider under the cutCollapse )

#1376 - Yet more Ogcodes!

Photo by Catherine John, in Ballarat, Victoria

One of the great things about the proliferation of smartphones, and especially the ones with decent macro lenses, is you get a vast increase in the number of photos of obscure invertebrates. Actually getting a correct ID on them is another thing, but I’ve talked with various experts and they agree that it’s gratifying to see how many amateurs are actually interested in this sort of thing, and post them to relevant Facebook groups.

That said, I have no idea why three of the adults would just be sitting around in one spot. 

#1377 - Maritigrella fuscopunctatus - Dusky Spotted Flatworm

AKA Eurylepta fuscopunctatus, and Pseudoceros fuscopunctatus. Another discovery by Andrea Watts at the Omeo Wreck here in Perth.

Initially I thought it was a nudibranch, going by the vivid colours, but I was quite wrong - it’s actually a Euryleptid flatworm.

Euryletids are free-swimming, active carnivores and scavengers, and feed by enveloping encrusting sponges and ascidians and pushing their stomach out through the mouth, which is also their anus.

They generally glide over the sea bottom but are also capable of swimming short distances by undulating their sides.  Common in shallow waters from Perth to Geographe Bay, but the colours and pattern can be surprisingly variable. The middle of the body may anything from orange to orange-brown to cream spots in a broad to narrow honeycomb pattern, or a single row of orange dots. Around the edges it can have large purple black (or sometimes creamy brown) spots (or blotches or sometimes as transverse lines) extending from the medial area in rows. 

Sorry for the extended delay in posting anything insect related - not only have I been very busy, there's been a disturbing downturn in the number and variety on insects I actually see. Thus, more and more of my posts are stuff I've identified for people online. Worse, the Great Tumblr Purge of 2018 has deleted about 2/3rds of my posts, so there's big gaps in what I can copy to here, and I can't recall what was supposed to go in those gaps. ANNOYED.

#1338 - Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa -  Icicle Fairy Fans

A tiny slime mold, each frond a few millimetres long. I found it on the underside of a piece of fallen Banksia bark in the Alison Baird Reserve, up on one of the two sand dunes that cross the wetland. This species is found in most parts of the world - the other three are mostly constrained to the tropics.

Rotting wood is the ideal substrate for this slime mold, but they have also been found on a burlap sack. The growth of the plasmodium can be pretty varied, including branching projections like those in the photo, or net-like walls.

#1330 - Trichia affinis

A spectacular slime mold on Banksia menziesii cone and leaf litter in the Alison Baird Reserve, up on the higher dune. After exhausting their microscopic prey, the slime mold single cells flow together into a plasmodium, which crawls off to find a good place to turn into the reproductive structures. These capsules split open to reveal soft little brush structures that bear the spores.

#1341 - Fam. Hydrophilidae - Water Scavenger Beetle



A tiny beetle at the Alison Baird Reserve, industriously exploring the paths at the northern end, when the water table started clearing the surface and half the reserve was under an inch or so of water.

Despite the common name, adults may be carnivorous or herbivorous, as well as scavengers, and the larvae are almost all predators. As you can see in the second photo, these beetle use a air bubble trapped along their belly to breath while they’re underwater.

Some are pests on fish farms. Others are predators of mosquito larvae.

#1342 - Pseudophryne guentheri - Crawling Toadlet

Photo by Doug McDougie.

Another species from the Alison Baird Reserve, but found across much of the SW corner of Australia. Up to about 35mm long, with a white belly marked with black blotches.

Crawling Toadlets start breeding with the first rains in autumn and continues through to early winter. The males excavate a burrow, and sit next to them calling for a female. Most mating and egg-laying take place before there is water in the ponds and creek lines where they breed. In the case of Alison Baird, that would be before the groundwater rose enough to clear the surface.

As many as 100 relatively large eggs are laid singly in damp depressions or burrows excavated by the males. Males can often be found on a pile of eggs, probably laid by many females. The eggs will divide and grow normally for a while, then suspend development until winter rains fill ponds and creeks and eventually flood the burrows. 

Spiders and more under the cutCollapse )
The Edge City team - still officially Quadrant despite having five members - are meeting up with somebody that wants to be our Agent.

Hero Shrew:We can get action figures!

Rep’s deal is commission-only, without retainer. Pretty good for us - if we don’t make any money, neither does he.

Of course, Hardlight want to figure out a way that his civilian identity can sponsor himself.

Hero Shrew:Is this some way to avoid tax?
Hardlight:… no?
Flux:Even supervillains pay tax.
GM:SOME supervillains pay tax.

We can’t find any bad reviews of Rep online. On the other hand we can’t find any statistics on how many agents for superhero teams get killed or kidnapped by supervillains. We decide to meet him to seal the deal anyway - Rep suggests a local Chinese restaurant. We make sure we get there early. Rep has already arranged to have those reinforced chairs brought in.

Hardlight:… I’m just going to scan these chairs - just in case.
GM:They’re cast iron with comfortable cushions.

Rep has some good suggestions for bank accounts and taxes vs. secret identities. And points out that in these days of social media, trying to stay out of the limelight is nearly impossible, so you might as well profit from it.

Rep:Yep, 30 hits already for photos of us here at this table.

Rep:And with you Scooter, it has to be food. Every other photo of you I could find, you’re eating something - thankfully not someone.
Hero Shrew:I can eat mealworm bars all day - and I do. Do I still get an action figure?
Flux:Can you make one of those that opens and closes jaws when you squeeze it?
Rep:Oh no, those things are a hazard to children - last thing you want associated with your Moreau.

The Sonic the Hedgehog character Rouge gets mentioned, in relation to Allana.

Rep:There’s another Bat-Moreau in town?
Fireflasht:It’s a geek reference - look up ‘Rouge Sonic the Hedgehog ‘ later.
Rep:I’ll do that.
Hardlight:Safe search on!
Rep:I keep that switched off - I need to know what my clients are up against.

Hardlight:I keep thinking there’s something I’m forgetting about. Wasn’t there some evil guy running around?
Flux:Well, there was what Scooter did to that pile of dumplings, that was pretty evil.
Hero Shrew:No, it’s the aftermath of all those dumplings that’s evil.

Kaiju-a-GoGoCollapse )

Pathfinder - The Mummy's Mask - Boss Fight

The Covenant of Wati have located the source of the Necromantic energy currently erupting from the Necropolis - somewhere underneath the Observatory of Truth and Wisdom.

Zenobia: Expect combat- the kind of people who set off necromantic geysers that run all week are generally not the kind of people you can reason with. I’m not saying it’s IMPOSSIBLE- it’s just not very likely

Zenobia OoC : Down down deeper and down. Bit odd for an observatory, unless they’re installing a neutrino telescope.

Chamber of zombies and desecrated altar - how to lure all the zombies close enough to get them all with a single Channel Positive Energy?

Nemat: Din-dins! Come on! Juicy adventurer meat here!

The reconsecrated temple can also provide holy water, if a suitable donation is made - large amounts of silver.

Zenobia OoC : I get the impression we are about to cure zombism with a homeopathic preparation of monatomic silver and holy water.

We’re interrupted during zombie decapitation by the arrival of a gold-masked figure and a few minions.

Meret-Hetef: You fools! The mask belongs to us! We are the true heirs of the Sky-Pharaoh’s legacy!
Zenobia OoC : I suggest she gets as far as the second ‘o’ in fools, when Nemat, who was waiting by the door for just such an entrance, blats her.

The minions have much higher initiative then their boss.

Zenobia: They probably have much better situational awareness, because they’re not wearing a mask.

Meret-Hetef turns herself invisible.

Zenobia: So she cast Disillusionment on herself. And we’re about to disillusion her about other things too.

After Onka’s application of 50,000 volts to Meret-Hetef and the minions, the former head of the Silver Chain and the surviving cultist promptly surrender.

Zenobia: I don’t think they were fully invested in the whole ‘cult’ thing.

Zenobia: We’ll be back to collect you shortly, but bare in mind that any information you can give us will ensure your cases are considered favourably by the cult of Pharasma.
Asrian: And increase the chance that we actually come back for you.
Zenobia: That too. I was more focusing on the future of their immortal souls.

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Pathfinder : Mummy's Mask : PC Parkour

Zenobia OoC: Another random wandering monster then?
GM: No.
Zenobia OoC: Ah, this is SUPPOSED to be here then.

GM: Apart from the burning corpse of the giant spider - well, AGAIN corpse -
Zenobia: Double-corpse.
GM: There’s another body. You didn’t see it before because, well -
Zenobia: The room was black with spiders. You said. And now we have a light source.

It’s a recent corpse, wearing a funerary mask. Just like those favoured by the weirdo who took over the Silver Chain, and who was seen lurking around the Necropolis before S*** Got Real. He’s covered in spider bites, but it’s the numerous claw marks and slashing injuries that killed him. He also has a notebook, giving the locations of the Elegiac Compasses, and orders to go to same from one Nebta-Khufre. It also mentions the Sanctum of the Erudite Eye, the Shining Bauble, and a couple of other places that we’ve been to ourselves. Some of them have been crossed out. But the Elegiac Compass that is SUPPOSED to here, isn’t, and nor is there any visible space for an attic.

We head downstairs, where there are some bored mummies. Who stop being bored the moment they spot us coming down the stairs. And paralyse everybody but Asrian with their auras of despair.

GM: Asrian, you slash the nearest mummy across the abdomen. It’s guts are on the floor… Or would be, if it had any.
Zenobia OoC: I was about to say - it’s guts should be in a canopic jar somewhere.

Nemat gets over the paralysis soon enough to attempt to Shackle the mummies to each other. Perhaps we’re making a remake of The Defiant Ones. But given the undead are soon just dead, perhaps not. We rifle through the empty sarcophagi, unfinished scientific and mathematical manuscripts, and a campsite somebody apparently set up in here. But by the looks of of things, they were NOT looting the burial chambers - the mummies got up by themselves later. The LIBRARY got looted. Happily, Nemat knows the Sift spell.

GM: Book, book, scroll, scroll, book, hidden switch, book -
Asrian: Switch?
Nemat: Yeah yeah, I’ll get back to it. Book book, scroll, book.

He also stuff’s Zenobia’s extradimensional backpack with as many books and scrolls as will fit.

There’s a hidden stairway leading up, revealed by the switch. Also something is chattering, but it doesn’t sound like language. It’s a pair of shadowy ghost-skeletons, trying to operate the Elegiac compass. THESE have an aura attack too. But at least we can get a bearing from the compass before heading back to the temple in Wati to get all our mental and spiritual damage healed. And now we know the epicenter of the necromantic energy, a temple and observatory dedicated to Maat and Thoth.

Hopefully Nemat won’t need to seduce a free Restoration out of Sebti the Crocodile.

GM: You know what? I’m going to make all the female NPCs lesbian, just to stop you doing that.
Zenobia OoC: But that won’t stop Asrian or me.
Onka OoC: So you’re screwed either way.
Zenobia OoC: As the actress said to the bishop.

Nemat’s eventual plan is to become a Living Monolith, the walking embodiments of Justice.

GM: Most spellcasters want to be liches. You just want to be a robot.

The Pharasmaens can’t think why somebody would want to set up the observatory as the epicentre of the necromantic ritual, but it is one of the tallest buildings in the district.

Zenobia: At least we can go find that other guy and tell him ‘guess who found the Elegiac compasses?’
Nemat: And ‘Your Nosoi would never have found it’
Zenobia: Can’t operate hidden switches for one thing.

An overnight rest and back into the Necropolis, via the tunnel and rooftops.

Zenobia OoC: PC parkour.

GM: You enter the Observatory of Truth and Wisdom!
Zenobia OoC: Which in most worlds means there’s not much to observe.

Asrian: I’m casting Honeyed Tongue on myself.
Zenobia: … no comment.

Nemat uses the spell ‘Locate Object’ to see if a certain golden mask is anywhere nearby, by contemplating one of the cheaper versions we picked up earlier, and imagining it gold. It is - somewhere underneath the observatory. We can expect to encounter the new master of the Silver Chain real soon...

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