[Simon in the blue shirt]

 You scored as Simon Tam. The Doctor.  You have a gift for healing that goes beyond education.  You took an oath to do no harm, even when your patients have tried to kill you.  You are out of place where you are, being used to refined society.  However, if you take that stick out of your arse you should be fine. 

Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburne 63%  OK, yes, I am wimpy.

The Operative 63%  Huh?

Simon Tam 63%  Makes sense, I guess.  Though I wonder why the one I came up as is listed 3rd.

Zoe Alleyne Washburne 56%  I am nowhere near cool enough to be Zoe…

River Tam 56%  And also?  I can kill you with my brain.  I really want to be able to say that…

Inara Serra 50%  I want to be a geisha because they make more money than street hookers.

Jayne Cobb 44%  Jayne is cool, but I don’t want to be him.

Capt. Mal Reynolds 38%  I am not traumatized enough to be Mal.

Kaylee Frye 38%  Nor am I good enough with machines to be Kaylee

Shepherd Derrial Book 31%  Look at him not being anything like me.

Which Serenity character are you?

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PC Race

OK, here’s the writeup:

Leopards posess the following racial traits:

  • +6 Strength, +8 Dexterity, +4 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, -4 Charisma
  • Medium size
  • Basic speed 40 feet, climb 20 ft
  • Low light vision
  • Scent
  • Improved Grab: To use this ability, a leopard must hit with its bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity.  If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can rake.
  • Pounce: If a leopard charges a foe, it can make a full attack, including two rake attacks.
  • Rake: Attack bonus +6 melee, damage 1d3+1.
  • +8 racial bonus on Jump checks and a +4 racial bonus on Hide and Move Silently checks. Leopards have a +8 racial bonus on Balance and Climb checks. A leopard can always choose to take 10 on a Climb check, even if rushed or threatened. In areas of tall grass or heavy undergrowth, the Hide bonus improves to +8.
  • Four Feet: A leopard has no fine manipulators and cannot use most conventional equipment.  If one leg is injured, the leopard’s speed decreases by one half.
  • Animal: As an animal, the leopard is affected by spells such as hold animalHold person has no effect.  In addition, humanoids who are not aware of the leopard’s intelligence treat it as dangerous, and it has a -4 penalty to all Diplomacy and Gather Information checks.
  • Automatic Languages: Sylvan.  Bonus Languages: Common, Elven, Gnomish
  • Favored Class: Monk

Note that there’s no level adjustment there despite the insane stat adjustments–which are actually rounded down from the description in the MM.  This is for a couple of reasons.  One, the PC simply can’t use most items, including weapons.  Two, the social penalties for being an intelligent animal are pretty heinous, and should be roleplayed out even when there’s no actual die rolling involved.

I was tempted to put in bonus to Bluff, because a leopard doesn’t have facial expressions the same way a humanoid does, and Intimidate, because, well, niiiice kitty.  But I’m torn–do we need a trait for female leopard PCs, whereby once every few months they go into heat?  I’d expect it from any GM I played with, but it seems like fodder for the idiot gam3rz of the world.

Serenity–The Real Review

Now that my seething hatred of Joss Whedon and all his works has subsided a bit, I’m going to actually review the movie.

Setup: Malcolm Reynolds fought on the losing side in a civil war.  Eight years later, he has a rundown ship, with which he and his crew take on not-very legal jobs on the outskirts of the society that beat his side.  Two of the crewmembers are fugitives from the government: a doctor and his little sister, who was experimented on by a Top Sekrit Project to produce a telepathic supersoldier.  The experiments suceeded, in that the little sister is very dangerous and telepathic, but she’s also a whack job on a fairly regular basis.

The plot revolves around River, the sister; as the Operative sent to retrieve her says, “You had ‘key members of Parliament’ here, and you put them in the same room with a telepath.”  She’s discovered a secret that the government doesn’t want known, that being that they killed 30 million people on a colony planet, essentially by accident.  They put a drug in the air supply that was supposed to make people calm and passive…and it did, so much so that all the colonists just sat down, stopped eating and starved to death.  Except, of course, for the small percentage who became utterly mad, psychopathic flesh-eating Apache/zombies.  (The Firefly universe is essentially a western, and in this western the Indian-analogues really are going to eat you alive, rape you to death, and use your skin for leather.)  In the end, the crew manages to get evidence of this atrocity out to the public in general, at the cost of several crewmembers’ lives.

I have already mentioned how angered I was by Wash’s death, so I am not going to go into it further except to state that I wonder what it is about Joss that has made him decide that no happy relationship can go unpunished.

Granted that the diagram we’re shown of the solar system they inhabit is inside the head of a young lady who is not precisely sane; still, River’s the type who would have that sort of thing accurate even while her fantasy teacher is stabbing her in the head.  We must assume that the clearly-out-of-scale system circles a large, young, hot star with a habitable zone several dozen AU in radius, starting much further out than Sol’s.  I still suspect that the orbital dynamics just aren’t going to work.

We also have to say that the colonists left Earth before developing their terraforming technology; otherwise they could have fixed whatever went wrong.  As there is no evidence of FTL travel, there’s plenty of time for the generation ships to figure this stuff out on the trip.

Next: Miranda and the Reavers.  Explain again how the death or madness of 30 million people was covered up?  I didn’t quite get it the first time.  Not to mention that Miranda is shown to be out on the edge of nowhere, but it looks like a Core planet in terms of buildings and so forth.  Perhaps it was settled on the sly for the express purpose of testing this drug, with a population drawn from those willing to leave their old lives behind in return for comfort?  Plus, if it’s a drug that made the Reavers mad, how can they make new ones (Bushwhacked)?  Maybe they start secreting the stuff themselves; maybe it really is psychological.

Mr. Universe.  How can a character be a problem, you ask?  That’s exactly it: he’s not a character.  He’s a plot device.  I didn’t care about him, and in the words of Wash “Curse your sudden yet inevitable betrayal!”

River’s final fight with the Reavers was wrong, wrong, wrong.  I am willing to buy that she could take several dozen zombies, even in a space that small.  What bugs me is that she did it starting from what was, for her, the worst possible state: already grabbed.  These (5 or 6) guys should have been chewing on her ankles even as they pulled her away from the door, and someone who weighs less than a hundred pounds has to have a fighting style heavily based on Not Being There–which River does, as witness the bar fight; the one time she gets grabbed, from behind, she kicks the guy in the head to make him let go.  This isn’t going to work on Reavers, who beat PCP users for not noticing when they’re hurt.

That being said, the movie rocks.

It’s got all the things I love Joss for: great characters, great interaction, nonstop action (in the sense of “interesting things happening” rather than “stuff blowing up”) and interesting visuals.  All these little plot nitpicks?  Didn’t occur to me till after the movie.  Even when I was so furious I could hardly see, I wasn’t thinking about the movie as a movie.


I was trying to save an entry that would automatically appear on Sunday, but every time I did it would reset the date to Saturday.  I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on till I remembered that Sat/Sun night is the Daylight Saving Time reset.  I have no idea why this is relevant, since it doesn’t happen at midnight, but it seems to be.

I am willing to put up with a quirk that only manifests once a year, I guess.

Yes, Everyone Else Has Done This

Strength-Physical strength
Lifting: How much you can carry, shove, lift, etc
Leverage: shoving and resisting being shoved; how hard you hit things

Coordination-Controlling motion
Dexterity: Hand-eye coordination; manual dexterity; half the important stuff for an archer
Agility: Whole-body motion; how fast you move; how well you hit things.

Constitution-How healthy you are
Stamina-enduring prolonged physical effort; staying awake and resisting fatigue
Health-resisting disease and poison

Intelligence-Mental acuity
Memory-Raw fact storage: this is the stat for trivia masters
Theory-Putting facts together to form ideas

Wits-Dealing with the outside world
Perception-Do you see/hear/smell/sense that?  The other important stat for an archer
Wisdom-Common sense; reading others; “What does it all mean?”

Will-Mental toughness
Resistance-Resisting temptation; standing up under pressure; ignoring distractions
Charisma-Force of personality

What I’m thinking is that at chargen you assign a score (however that happens) to each of the six major categories; then pick one subcategory to be one higher and one to be one lower.  So if your Int is 15, your Mem could be 14 and your The 16, or vice versa.  After that they can be improved independently, but go up and down with their main stat; if you have a stat bump, so that Int is now 16, Mem is 15 and The is 17, and if the brain suckers get you down to Int 10, Mem is 9 and The is 11.

I realize that the world doesn’t need another Gamist frpg, but this has been floating around in my head.

Animal Abuse

The lack-witted, foul-mouthed, round-heeled slattern down the street moved on Sunday, and we were delighted to see her go.  I feel sorry for her child, but there’s nothing we can do about that.

This morning, as we were getting in the car to go to work, a dog started barking frantically from her house.  The woman had left her dog locked in the house.  The dog’s about 6 months old at this point, based on how big it was the last time I saw it, and she left it locked up alone for 4 nights and counting.  Even assuming that there’s adequate food, water and sanitation in there, it has to be half nuts simply from the isolation; we asked the neighbor, who doesn’t work, and he said he’d seen no one going in or out to check on it.   We are forced to assume that it’s been alone and went crazy when it heard someone outside.

We called animal control.  I hope the bitch fries for this.  It’s one thing to be a jerk to people–it’s quite another to betray an animal like that.

She’s Gorgeous, but She’s a Bitch

I have this character.  Her name’s Altariel Naïlo–don’t ask me how to pronounce that, by the way, ask the D&D people who put it in the list of default last names–and she’s a grey, OKfinegray, elf.  From the SRD: “gray elves have a reputation for being aloof and arrogant (even by elven standards).”  She’s pretty darn smart and reasonably sensible, and therein lies the problem.  Well, one of two problems.

First: I’d like her to actually be arrogant at people.  The usual style of arrogance, however, is damn likely to get her, and possibly other party members, really really dead; we’re 1st level and a -2 to Con (to balance the +2 to Int that her race gets) does not make for happy hit points, especially on a d4.  Wandering around insisting on having her own way is going to lead to the rest of the party deciding they can get a new arcanist; even if I make another character, I won’t get to play this one any more, and I’m interested in her.  My solution so far has been to be arrogant in downtime, but smart enough to work as a team when actually faced with danger.  I’m not sure how it’s working.

The other problem is inherent in the awkward D&D construction of Charisma.  It’s in the book as “force of personality”, but I dare you to name a group that doesn’t also take it as “attractiveness” in some way or another.  Yes, I know that a forceful personality doesn’t also have to be an attractive one, but that’s the way it seems to usually work out, and if you conflate this with physical attractiveness the problem gets worse yet (“That’s Ogrec.  He’s a dwarf.” [gate guard studies the Cha 3 character]  “Are you sure?”).  See, I picture Altariel as being one of those absolutely flat-out gorgeous people whose looks say, quite clearly, that if you dare touch her she’ll fry you.  But she’s got a Cha of 12.  This does not work, and it annoys me. 

Some people have added a seventh stat, Comliness, which is purely how good looking you are.  This solves some problems, such as being able to build “Well he’s kinda ugly but something just makes you want to look at him” characters, or Altariel the gorgeous bitch.  However, it adds others, especially if you don’t base any possible characters on the new stat; it becomes a dump stat if you’re rolling, something to be shoved down as far as possible to raise useful stats if you’re doing point buy.  And The Book of Erotic Fantasy (which title I may be misremembering) to the contrary, basing things like spellcasting on how pretty the caster is just makes me boggle.  About the best I can come up with is allowing Comliness to be a bonus to skills like Diplomacy and Perform.  But you still have to decide how to figure it in the first place.  I like just letting the player pick, maybe with some racial modifiers, but that leads to abuse.


Iron Dragon

For the first time ever, I won a game of Iron Dragon Saturday night.

Quick primer on how Iron Dragon works: You run a railroad company in a fictional world.  You are dealt cards that say something like “Wheat to Wikkedde, 43”.  This means that if you go to a city that produces wheat and pick it up, then take it to Wikkedde, you are paid 43 gp.  You have to either draw your own track, which costs money, or rent someone else’s, which is cheap for short runs.  Runs that involve widely-separated source and destination, or which have a cargo that is only available somewhere that’s hard to get to, pay more.  You win if you have all but one of the major cities on the map connected by your rail and hold 250 gp.

I had had a string of good luck with my cards; first I had three that interlocked very neatly in the form of spells going to Railla, ale going to Railla, and ale going to Bluefeld (which is near Railla).  Then Nordkassel (also not far away from Railla) wanted pipeweed, and as Nordkassel is the (only) source of dragons I could pick up some dragons for a run to Octomare.  And since I was going to be up in the northwest anyhow, it seemed logical to pick up furs, which come from that area, for a run to Bremmner, which is right next to Octomare thanks to the Rainbow Bridge, a magical connection, which had opened not too long before between Octomare and the major city of Bremmner’s kingdom.  So I went and got my furs, getting two because it’s always handy to have an extra of a hard-to-get thing around–the K-region cities that produce furs are in arguably the most isolated kingdom on the map; K certainly rivals the P region islands and the U underground for that title. 

When I dropped off the furs, I drew a new card…which had “Furs to Orianda, 72”.  Orianda is fewer than 10 mileposts from Octomare, where I was going anyway.  And thanks to the Railla-Railla-Bluefeld run, I was at about 160 gold.

It was certainly pure serendipity, and I was lucky in that I’d gotten off to a slow start due pretty much entirely to my own silliness.  But it was fun.

Important Safety Tip

Pomegranate rind tastes like someone took the seeds and soaked them in alum.  Icky.

Also note: the Giant Eagle near the intersection of Plummer and Butler has some really nice pomegranates for sale.  Softball-sized, quite ripe, not rotten, 2/$5.  If you’re into pomegranates.


“Jesus saves–and takes only half damage!”

“What doesn’t kill me gives me permanent Con damage.”

“A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, else what’s a spiked chain for?”