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Topics - Doktor Howl

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Apple Talk / The Compleat Billy Chronicles (thanks to Zenpatista)
« on: November 15, 2017, 01:33:15 am »
Sep. 4
A quote from an email my boss sent me:
"You reek of non-compliance."

Sep. 11
Things I said in conversation today:
1. How much for just 13 megawatt hours?
2. There is no dancing in the 13,800 VAC cable room. Why do I even have to say this?
3. This is like watching the Titanic back up for another run at the iceberg.
4. All this needs to be perfect is 10 pounds of glitter fished out of raver ass crack.

Sep. 13
Today I drove home at 5 MPH slower than the speed limit in the left lane, with my right turn signal on the entire time.
I don't know what the hell is wrong with me, so don't ask.

Sep. 13
Things I said at work today:
1. "We're going to do great things. For bad people."
2. "Budgets are for people who worry about budgets."
Sep. 14
Things I said at work today:
1. "If you stick that in there, you probably won't get it back."
2. "He's Jesus the Son of Man, not Jesus the IT guy. Fuck's sake."
3. If the Thai place outside of the facility closes, one of you has to die."

Sep. 15
Things I said at work today:
1. "Okay, no, you're right. The magical maintenance fairy will come along and fix that shit for free. No worries."
2. "Yes, actually I DO have to be a smartass."
3. "Does being realistic make my ass look big?"

Sep. 18
Our religious nut engineer is apparently a genius. He waits til the technicians solve a problem, then investigates it, writes up the solution the techs found, and presents it as "solved". The only reason he's still got all his limbs is that he does in fact credit the techs, if you read the footnotes and squint really hard.
Sep. 21

Things I said at work today:
1. (In the morning staff meeting) "According to physics, work done is a net result. If you carry a 50 pound block up the stairs, then take it back down the stairs, you have done no work. Think about that while you do the same wrong-headed, tired-ass shit you have done for the last 6 months."

2. (To the new database admin lady) "If you see the engineer crying in his office, don't get too concerned. He's a bad person and whatever happened to him is probably well-deserved."

3. (To Billy) "Billy, when I say that ethics is our number one priority and safety is also our number one priority, you should take that to mean exactly what I said. Also quality. That's our number one priority as well. Don't look at me that way, you're in the corporate world now and this is how it works."

Sep. 22
Things I said at work today:
(To Billy) "I have added you to the safety committee, Billy. This is a position of great trust, and I expect you to shine. Just remember, the one who leaves the meeting with the most 'action items' wins."
(To My boss) "Yes, I just did that to Billy. But he has to LEARN. Right down in his bones. The fact that he believed that it was a position of great trust means that he has loads of learning to do."

Sep. 26
Things I said at work today:
(To Billy) "See that contractor technician working on that chiller? See how hard he works? I knew him back in 2005, and he was a tech back then, working just as hard. 12 years later, he's still a tech, still working hard. He will work hard his entire life and he will still be a tech."
(To one of my electricians, later on at the staff meeting) "You should work harder. It will take you farther in life."
(To Billy): "Why are you looking at me like that?"

Sep. 27
Things I said at work today:
(To Billy) "Yes, I did do that. You see, Billy, it's just us against entropy, really. Nobody else on the planet is even LOOKING at this mess, so it's up to us. Arguably, I didn't have a choice...Because how do you fight entropy? With monstrous deeds. Besides, I won't be lectured on morality by a guy who ran over someone's tiny home, so zip it."

Sep. 28
(Speech to working group today. Never ask me to give a speech.)
"Good morning. I am about to say impolite things.
But we are not here to be polite. We are not here to keep the customer happy. The customers hate us, and that is right and proper. The customers are seven and a half billion monkeys that insist on smoking three packs of cigarettes a day for thirty years, and we are the societal equivalent of an oncologist. We present solutions that *might* save them, but it will be very painful and we will charge them a lot of money.
The world of commerce is strange and terrible, and so I don't want you to think about commerce. I want you to think about pseudomonas and plastic microfibers in the tap water. I want you to think about sanitation overload. I want you to think about too much water everywhere, and none of it fit to drink. Commerce is a social fiction; cholera is real.
I am here to tell you today that government is not the solution. The market is not the solution. I am here to tell you that there *is no solution*, because those cancer monkeys will take the medicine we give them, and go on smoking cigarettes. Because people are stupid, and organized groups of stupid humans are just organized, efficient stupidity.
Which brings up another point: I do not want to see "efficiency" stinking up my facility. Efficiency is for people with diploma-mill MBAs, libertarians, and other parasites. Efficiency has never solved a problem in the entire history of the human race. Efficiency makes processes more profitable, but we are not in the business of processes. We are in the business of extracting money from cancer monkeys. They give us money, we give them ways to clean just enough water to live long enough to have more monkeys. You can see why, given this built-in advantage, efficiency is both unnecessary and in fact contrary to our interests.
Let me say this again: There is no room for efficiency in infrastructure analysis.
In closing, I don't want anyone to worry about the truck load of missiles that drove in circles in our parking lot for twenty minutes last night. That was just a shipping error on the part of one of our clients, and has been rectified.
That is all. You may now return to your labors."

Sep. 28
Your universe is defective.
A proper universe would imply that a species that gained enough intelligence to have some sort of sense of self-interest wouldn't care about things like national "pride", race, or even making weapons specifically designed to wipe themselves out entirely.
It would probably also have great big Goddamn lizards stomping around. Because that would be kind of cool, too.

Sept. 29
Things I said at work today:
(To my boss) "This ain't your grandpa's apocalypse."
(To Billy) "Can you get me the numbers for cholera in Thailand right now? Also typhoid and psuedomonas. And infant mortality for the last 4 years. How about pizza for lunch?"
(To new database admin lady) "Stop worrying about Billy. He'll come around. Why are you looking at me like that?"

Oct. 3
So, bad 60s dancing to "Everybody Talks" in my office with my boss, Billy, and the Occupant Services lady. New database admin lady walks to office door. Stops. Stares.
Dances the Watusi.
She stays.
Oct. 4
So Billy and I come rolling back up to the plant in the truck. Seats back, hand on top of steering wheel, all pimped out with Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" bumping on the stereo.
My boss and new database admin lady just stared at us like we were some kinda weird bird, for reasons that escape me.
Oct. 5
Today's test run: Horrible failure. Plant off line. Chillers very over. Sewage treatment plant flooded. I think my office sank. Nobody has seen Billy in hours, religious engineer guy has locked himself in his office, and the coyotes are circling like hammerhead sharks.
This is what SCIENCE looks like.
Oct. 6
Today was like watching the future sail away on a burning camel.

Oct. 6
My boss: *yells at me for 2 HOURS.*
Me: "You're wrong."
My boss: "..."
Me: "That's an alarming shade of purple"

Oct. 6
Billy: "If you knew the world was ending, and there was no way to prevent it, would you tell anyone?"
Me: "I'd tell EVERYONE."

Oct. 14
Giraffes can't enjoy coffee because it's cold by the time it reaches their stomach. But you never think about that, because you only think about yourself.

Oct. 16
At work today:
Billy: "Matter tells space how to bend, and space tells matter how to move."
Me: "You know what tells me how to move?"
Billy: "No, and I don't..."
Me: "Devine. You know what tells me how to bend?"
Billy: "Stop."

Oct. 17
14.5 hours of nonstop WrongScience™, because the world is delivered to your doorstep by terrible deeds. And exhaustion.
Little Billy fell out at 12 hours, because he is young, and the young are weak, and they cannot concentrate without blood sugar. I, on the other hand, am made out of scabs and scar tissue, and can live for 3 days on a rat that I swallowed whole.

Oct. 19
Today at work:
Boss: "I have to go, so as soon as <horrible maintenance emergency> is over, I'm out of here."
Me: "You should go now. This is going to take hours."
Boss: "I can't, because <horrible maintenance emergency>"
Me: "And what are you going to accomplish here? Do you think we are somehow not going to do our best if you leave?"
Boss: "No, but..."
Me: "Go. You can text me or call me if it starts bugging you."
Boss: "Okay." *leaves*
*Billy walks in*
Me: "Billy, hold my cell phone for the next two hours."
Billy: "What? Why?"
Me: "Don't question it. If the boss calls, tell her you're trapped in the rubble."
Oct. 20
I now have 5 petabytes of storage at work, so you are all being moved into it.
I shall be a kindly overlord.
Oct. 23
My workplace is careening off into insanity. Today I was told the safety committee will be deciding what critical spare parts I need to stock in the plant.
At this point, I'm just riding the roller coaster. Which is on fire. And has run out of tracks.
"This is normal, Billy."
Oct. 24
Billy is pretending to be horrified by my behavior today. He's such a kidder.
"This is all normal, Billy."
"No, it's not, boss. That was totally out of line. You had people screaming at you in Polish."
"They made unreasonable demands, and I felt something should be said."
"You called them mental defectives. AND you scared Mister Rogers" (Note: our safety manager looks exactly like Mr Rogers, and acts like him for the most part.)
"Harsh times, Billy, harsh times."
"You can't make Mr Rogers hide in his office, Sam. For God's sake."
"I can. I did. I felt my point needed to be driven home."
"You're crazier than those Polish dudes, you know that?"
*stops walking and looks at Billy for like 2 seconds too long*
"This is all normal, Billy."
Oct. 25
Things my boss said:
"I have been training my entire life to even, and now I can't."

Oct. 25
America, you can rest easy during these turbulent times. Billy and I are working on a set of solutions. With actual SCIENCE™. So everyone stop screaming and send more funding.

Oct. 26
15 straight hours of SCIENCE. Work successful, probably no actual laws broken. Excerpt from 90 minutes ago:
Me "Wake the hell up, Billy."
Me: "You aren't paid to think, Billy, you are paid to spill science on things."
Me: "Having a life is like STEALING FROM THE COMPANY, BILLY. Also, if this is just work to you, you aren't being paid enough, or you're being paid way too much. Anyway, go home, I will finish up."
Billy: "FUCK. Thanks."
Me: "See you at 5:30 AM."
Billy: "Wait. What?"
Me: "Good night, Billy."

Oct. 28
17 hours of adventure. Sam spent an hour crawling through a utility tunnel with a flashlight in his teeth. Sam's boss wants to know why he's so happy than only 5 breakers failed on restart.
Me: "When you don't service substations for 5 years, shit sometimes doesn't come back on like you think it ought to."
Boss: "So we're down a chiller, a well, an air compressor and a half dozen instruments, and you're HAPPY?"
Me: "You take your victories where you find them, boss."
Boss: "WTF?"
Billy: "This is all normal, boss."
I love Billy. Billy needs a raise, and maybe even a day off. Well, maybe just a raise. No need to get all carried away.

Oct. 28
I live in the Sonoran desert and somehow I have gone 72 hours without seeing the sun.

Oct. 31
Our religious engineer got a new bumpersticker that says "Legalize Jesus."
Me: "I think they should legalize beer, too."
Engineer: "Beer is legal."
Me: "But people don't have to drink it, which is almost like making it illegal. People run around drinking whiskey, even."
Engineer: "That's hardly the same thing."
Billy: "Some freaks even drink hard cider."
Me: "It's like this isn't even AMERICA, anymore."
Engineer: "Fuck you guys."
Billy: "You just swore. For like the first time ever. You're ADORABLE."
Nov. 1
Tips on dealing with treachery on the part of your direct reports, #312:
Keep them too busy to plot effectively. Make necessary improvements to systems only when they get comfortable with said systems, if the changes can wait that long.
If you MUST communicate, tell everyone the information in a slightly different format, so you'll know who ratted you out to the boss.
Nov. 2
Things I said at work today, with my bare face hanging out:
1. "I told you those bugs [sulfur reducing bacteria] were gonna get out of control. You just stand there while we shame you, you soggy bastard."
2. "Yes, I do have to get lippy about it. I warned you about this for 6 months. I have to go shit, so Billy will be shaming you in my place."
3. "Who's afraid of Doktor Howl? Fucking nobody."

Nov. 4
17 hours of NOPE. No, you cannot do that, because of basic physical laws. No, put Billy down, he has some admittedly marginal value and I have no time to interview his replacement. No, if your project is now flat, slightly radioactive, and smoldering, you are not getting additional funding, and you should probably start the whole plausible denial thing now. Nope, I am not father confessor at this pay rate, and I am utterly uninterested in your horrible woes or slightly criminal/unethical behavior and the consequences thereof.
Go ahead and complain to my boss. I'm the EASY option, and SHE will frame your bits and hang them in the conference room.
Nov. 6
Things I said at work today:
*Billy and I watching a guy in <corporation X>'s lab coat walking down the middle of the road in a trance-like state*
Billy: "We should call someone."
Me: "Yep. Gonna call <corporation X> security and have this guy collected up."
Billy: "Shouldn't we maybe call the paramedics?"
Me: "Have you never watched a horror film? Or an epidemic scare flick?"
Billy: "But this is real life."
Me: "Yes, Billy, and that is *exactly* why I am doing what everyone in those horror films SHOULD have done. 500 needless deaths a year would be prevented if people just followed protocol."
Billy: "You just made that number up."
Me: "Yes, but it's still true."
Nov. 6
So today I learned that not only do I have to give Billy a day off every 13 days, but I have to take one myself.
How the hell is shit supposed to get done?
Nov. 7
Billy: "So you're being investigated by the safety department for *following* both the law and the IEEE best practices?"
Me: "This is all normal, Billy."

Nov. 9
So, I am under investigation at work for *following* code & IEEE standards, and the two weasels who initiated it managed to pull the sole controlling meter out of a tank without isolating the process equipment, dumping a few dozen thousand gallons of potable water onto the desert, and by sheer luck alone managed to not smoke the pumps, which are at the bottom of 500 foot shafts. I am not allowed to name them in the incident investigation, because "no regulations were violated" (except every single OSHA rule on energy isolation, and county, state, and federal rules on containment, but who's counting?)
I am now actively looking for another job.

Nov. 14
Okay, so Billy and I are looking at this jockey pump that keeps pressure up on a few larger pumps. It's pumping from a tank system at 200 gallons per minute, for 8 hours or so a day.
Problem: None of the tank levels are going down. We checked, both in the system, and by physically climbing up on the tanks and looking in to verify their levels.
Billy: "I think we should quit, this place is haunted."
Me: "Nonsense. This is just one of those reality cracks we have in Tucson from time to time. Water is probably just leaking in from another universe."
Billy: "Or water is somehow getting back into the tank."
Me: "There are no other ways for water to get in. Look."
Billy: "Okay, haunted. We should quit."
Me: "People sometimes PAY for this kind of shit, you know."
Billy: "I didn't. This is spooky, and I don't like it. Who ordered this?"
Me: "This is all nor..."
Me: "This is all ftang, Billy."

Apple Talk / Well, that's that.
« on: October 12, 2017, 05:53:28 am »
Killed that bastard by drowning him in vape juice and some public ridicule and, of course, a bunch of bullets.  Buried him shallow this time, so the coyotes get him.  No more "rolling the stone back" for that piece of shit.  When we crucify someone, they should by God STAY dead.

Now, while I've been gone,   :lol:  You.  :lol: You elected Donald Trump.    :lol: :lol: :lol:

And now you're sorry and you wish it had never happened.  But there's Nazis that look more like particularly weedy frat boys running around, and that Milo Dropbottom fellow, and you've had to rely on overweight Magic, The Gathering players in hoodies to keep them away.

Well, the Good Doktor is back, and he has a terrible prescription.  We might cure you of your problems, but it will be very painful and we will charge you lots of money.  We will not be taking sincere advice as currency, nor righteous indignation, nor even your sincere belief in your atheism.  Not bit coin, nor your dodgy-looking electronic transfers.  NO.  We will accept only your CHEAP LAUGHS.  We place particular value on the rising kind of laughter that ends badly for everyone, especially the cleaners.

Property values may tank.  That's a risk we here at SHUT UP, Inc are willing to take.

So tomorrow, bad advice for a bad nation.

Okay for now,

Aneristic Illusions / Cain, help me with the plot, here.
« on: September 08, 2015, 01:04:44 am »
Okay, so when the Afghanistan war stared, the Taliban were burning poppy fields, and we didn't give a fuck about those fields.

But sooner or later, that opium money becomes necessary to fund the larger battle.  Within a few months, everyone eats the menu, and the war is itself ABOUT the opium.  Just like every other Asian war in the last 500 years.

Is this accurate?

Apple Talk / What did YOU learn on Facebook today?
« on: August 13, 2015, 11:56:36 pm »
I learned that herpes doesn't have any symptoms in women.   :lulz:

Apple Talk / Normal
« on: August 06, 2015, 06:59:35 pm »
I am a hideous & vile old man.  I am in fact so old that the Earth's population doubled in my lifetime.  Get that around your noodle...An extra 3.7 billion people in less than half a century.  I remember the world as not being so crowded, and I remember correctly.  When I was a boy there were fish in the ocean and turnip trees on the land, as far as the eye could see.

But having seven and a half billion people is the New Normal.

Humans are really good at compartmentalizing stuff.  Nigel could probably give you biological reasons for this, using words that sound made up but sadly aren't, but let's break it down in layman's terms.  When stress gets too awful, when the boogieman is coming out from under the bed with your tax records in his teeth, when your nation is eating itself and howling through mouthfuls of its own skin that it is still strong...The angel of apathy comes along and whacks you upside the head.  All these things are now Normal.  They are part of the routine, and are less stressful.  Or at least you can ignore the stress, at least until it's time to buy an AR15 and join the folks jabbering about Jade Helm.

Manufactured Normalcy.  It's not really a new concept.  How many times have you heard some horrible new band that makes you want to smash your car into a wall?  Everyone hates those guys.  But the radio plays them and plays them, MTV gets some brain-damaged kids to scream on TRL, and suddenly the horrible band is just another part of the scene.  This is how Fallout Boy happens.  Neuroscience is a strange and frightening thing, and not for the likes of you and I.  Unless you're the kind of person that gets off on slicing up thousands of snake brains.

Manufactured Normalcy is also how people like Rick Santorum and Donald Trump can run for president and have 47% of the country keep a straight face.  After all, once you've voted for Palin, you're pretty much at rock bottom, may as well go for broke.  It is how the TSA can now grab your junk for no reason and you just gotta stand there and smile.  It's how police can just start murdering people for any reason or no reason at all, and the outraged masses will...Well, they'll LIKE and they'll SHARE and they'll TWEET, but as mad as they get, it's now NORMAL, so that's all they're gonna do.  Get mad.  Not the clean, white-hot anger of the superior mutant, but the sickening, ulcer-inducing anger of a person who HAS gotten mad as hell, but IS gonna take it some more.  Not because they're cowards, but because that's the way it is

This is The Machine™.  It turns out there never were clattering treads and grindy choppy horrible spiky bits.  Well, actually there were.  But that's to be expected.

Or Kill Me.

Apple Talk / It never fails to amaze me.
« on: August 04, 2015, 05:10:31 am »
People will tie themselves in a knot to avoid being wrong.  Had some guy telling me people didn't live past 30 in the middle ages.  Absolute rubbish.  I posted links demonstrating that people who survived past age 11 most often lived until age 55 (peasants) or 65 (rich folks), but the infant mortality rate of 33% (!!!) skews life expectancy numbers for the period.

Now I have them saying "people didn't know their own ages back then", and were obviously making things up to fool historians of later ages.


I've been there.  Most people have.  It's like the old monkey trap, where the monkey reaches into a jug for a piece of fruit, then can't bring his fist out without dropping the fruit.  So the monkey sits there, railing about how unfair the fruit is being, until someone comes along and rounds the monkey up for medical experimentation. 

There comes a time you just gotta let go of the fruit.

On account of the shit-talking and general hissy fits of the partisans of Sanders & Clinton.

Apple Talk / Donald Trump collapses in NYC. Apparently dead.
« on: July 18, 2015, 04:53:55 am »

Apple Talk / Dirtbags, part 7
« on: July 13, 2015, 01:27:05 am »
Little Saigon

Well, what CAN go wrong in a Vietnamese restaurant?  Especially a mom & pop outfit; the Vietnamese are mostly a quiet folk, at least here.  We went in, got seated, and ordered a late supper.  The place was almost empty, with only one other table being occupied.  There were 2 couples in their mid 50s sitting two tables over. 

One of the guys at the table was on one of those Rascal scooters, apparently not having bothered to transfer his bulk to a proper seat.  The back of the scooter seat had a Romney 2012 bumber sticker on it.  He was drunk and loud, braying on about "Obummer" and liberals.

Katie just smiled.  I glared at her...I was hungry, and I didn't want the ruckus to start before I ate.  Even 2 months after the event, it shocks me that I knew it was never an "if", but a "when".  Even knowing that, there really isn't an excuse for what happened.

Halfway through our meal, the lady owning the place flipped the open sign to close, but assured us that we had all the time we needed to eat our meal.  Her daughter came out of the kitchen with a 10 gallon empty rubber trashcan and a broom, obviously setting things up to clean the place when the last two tables left.

"HEY, DRAGON LADY!"  That was the fat guy on the scooter.  "CAN WE GET ANOTHER ROUND OF DRINKS HERE?"

The owner was behind the counter.  She looked up and said, "Sorry, it is 10 minutes past last call.  I cannot serve you more alcohol."

"OH, COME ON, NOBODY'S GONNA KNOW."  The guy was yelling like he was at a ballgame, even though he was maybe 20 feet away from her.


Katie twitched.  Come on, just 5 more minutes here, lady.  I'm almost done with my dinner.

The fat man wasn't having it.  "FUCK YOU, LADY, GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM."

The owner looked pissed.  "You leave right now."


Bad move, fat man.  Katie was out of her seat and moving.  Fuck, no point fighting it now.

I jumped up and grabbed the trash can, as Katie walked up and smacked the fat guy across his face, and said, "You are in the wrong fucking century, you disgusting pig.  You shut your damn face."

The lady next to him burst out laughing.  The other couple looked mortified...In fact, it occurred to me that they hadn't said anything the whole time we were there.

"WHAT THE FUCK, YOU BITCH!"  Fat man started flailing his arms at Katie. 

I up-ended the trash can over his head and jammed it down over his shoulders.  Katie grabbed the broom and started hitting the trash can with it, swinging as fast as she could.  Thumpity thumpity thump.

"ARE YOU UNDERSTANDING ME?"  She screamed.  Thumpity thump.  "AM I GETTING THROUGH TO YOU?"  Thump thump thump.

I grabbed the backrest of his scooter with one hand, holding the garbage can with the other, and started backing up to the door, Katie whaling away at him the whole time.  The owner yanked the door open, and I hauled the fat man out onto the street.

"Your dinner is on the house," she said to me as I passed by, "You come back soon."  The door closed behind us, as Katie kept whacking on the trash can.  I heard the lock engage.  Glancing through the window, I saw the other three customers pulling out credit cards.  I hauled fatass around the side of the building, then walked back out to the street, leaned up against the building, and waited for Katie to finish explaining things.  There was some hollering and meaty-sounding thumping.

She walked out of the alleyway a few minutes later, smiling. 

"Okay, Dok, we're heading over to 6th avenue."

"Okay.  The fat guy alive?"

"Oh, sure.  He probably won't even need the hospital."

"What's on 6th avenue?"

"A party."

"Oh, dear."

"No, I'll behave.  I think I have it all out of my system now."

It turned out that she did.  The party was a collection of working artists, who made me feel very welcome.  I drank too much, but didn't manage to embarrass myself.  Some guy drove me home at some point.  I handed him some gas money and staggered into my house.

I woke up on the couch the next morning, with a 3 alarm hangover.  As I undressed to shower, I felt something in my pocket.  It was a note.

Dear Dok,

Quit that awful job.  It's more fun being a dirtbag.

Love, Katie.

And you know what?  She was right.


RPG Ghetto / Pathfinder NPC Morale/Loyalty Rules.
« on: July 10, 2015, 01:55:51 am »
You know you want to fuck the players over with NPC treachery and cowardice.  Admit it.  It's half the fun of being a DM.  Nothing warms my heart like when Dave the Torch-bearer loses his shit and runs off in the middle of the big fight carrying the only light source.  Or when the porters steal all the PC's shit and wee in their rations.

Best part is, if it's done right, it's the players' fault, with many players using pack bearers as meat shields & trap-springers, etc.

So here's some rules to help you justify this sort of assbaggery.  These rules are still under play test conditions, and comments are welcome.

Loyalty & Morale Checks for NPCs:

NPCs are not robots that fight to the death, or put up with any amount of abuse from PCs.  Periodically, and when the situation calls for it, a loyalty check must be made to ensure the loyalty of the NPC.  Additionally, in dangerous situations, the NPC must make a morale check, which is a modified loyalty check.  PCs and cohorts are always assumed to have passed these checks, unless magically compelled.

Base Check:  The basic loyalty check involves the NPC making a will save against the Charisma of the party leader (or the PC who hired him, if they're not the same person), or the person who wronged the NPC.  The base DC of the check is the Charisma score (not modifier) of the PC in question plus the morale score of the NPC in question, with modifiers listed below included.  If the PC has leadership, he uses his leadership versus followers score instead, if it is higher than his Charisma. 

If the NPC makes the save, he becomes disloyal.  For good NPCs, this may mean anything from sulking to quitting.  For Neutral  or evil NPCs, it means sulking, quitting, or treachery.  Sulking means the NPC is considered shaken until morale has been reestablished, and will attempt to sap the honor of the person who offended him.  Quitting means exactly that.  As soon as the party is in a safe place, the NPC resigns and leaves.  Treachery means the NPC will try to take revenge on those he feels has wronged him.

The base morale check is the same, except the DC of the encounter (or the worst encounter so far in a given session, if there is no immediate combat) is subtracted from the target PC's charisma.  If the NPC makes his save, he stands frozen in panic.  If he is struck, he flees.  If he is not struck, he must make an immediate loyalty check after the battle or situation.

When to make a check:  A loyalty or morale check is made when the negative modifiers totaled up exceed the NPC's morale score.  Also, an NPC placed in a position of temptation may have to check, at the discretion of the DM
Modifiers  All of these modifiers stack. 

Temporary modifiers are based on the current (and possibly past) situation.
Pay            Modifier to DC
Less than one half book         -2
Less than book                    -1
Book                                0
More than book                        +1
Double book                   +2
Triple book                           +3
Pay is in arrears                    -3, pay modifiers are not used.

Each offer to raise pay forces a re-reroll on a failed save, provided the new pay scale is higher than the last one and at least book.  A new check can be forced for each offered raise, though if the raise goes up more than one bracket on the first attempt, it gives a +1 for every bracket jumped.  Pay in arrears must be made up before any chance of recovering loyalty, unless a better offer is made and a DC20 diplomacy check is made to convince the NPC to defer his pay.

Treatment:  An  NPC who is well treated (DM's discretion) gets a +1 to +5 modifier to the DC.  If an NPC is raised, he and all other NPCs take a permanent +1 to the DC, in addition to the bonus gained from the increase in leadership score, if appropriate.  Poor treatment has the exact opposite range of modifiers, and if an NPC is left to his death, the other NPCs take a permanent -1 to the DC.  If a PC kills an NPC, the other NPCs immediately gain a -5 modifier to the DC and make an immediate check.  EXCEPTION:  If an outright mutiny is in progress and a PC harms a disloyal NPC, an immediate loyalty retest is made, with a success meaning the mutiny spreads or gets more daring, and a failure meaning all surviving mutineers sulk.  They are disloyal at this point, but at least they aren't in mutiny. 

Morale check modifiers are as per loyalty checks, but have additional modifiers to the DC.  A morale check is made when the value of all modifiers (loyalty and morale) exceed the NPC's morale.

Encounter CR = +5 or more the PC APL:  -5 (does not stack with +3 APL)
Encounter CR = +3 or more the PC APL:  -2 (does not stack with +5 APL)
Encounter CR = below PC APL:  +2
Per PC fallen or fled:  +2
PC who hired PCs fallen or fled:   +4
Per NPC fallen or fled:  +1
NPC is wounded:  -1 (Remains for duration of combat, even if healed.  Stacks)
PCs cure NPCs:  +2 (Remains for duration of combat.  Stacks.)

NPC Morale Score:  An NPC's morale score is based on his personality and his alignment.  Law and Good each grant a +1.  Evil and Chaos each grant a -1. NPC  traits and goals from Game Mastery Guide, pages 94-96, may add or subtract to the score as determined by the DM, ranging from -2 to 2. 

NOTES:  The same rules can be applied to monsters, with the master of the monster taking the place of the PC, or if there is no master, the check is equal to 10 plus the CR of the encounter.

Apple Talk / How do I miss this stuff?
« on: July 06, 2015, 08:05:06 pm »

This guy may be fictional, but he's my hero.  Forever.

Apple Talk / So, Nigel posted this insanely awesome article on FB
« on: July 06, 2015, 06:47:46 pm »
This thing:

And I gotta agree in every particular, there's something else I feel I must mention.

Right now, I feel like I am hogtied in the backseat of a car, wearing no seat belt.  The Koch brothers are in the front seat, smoking meth and devouring themselves.  The one driving keeps texting about how great everything's gonna be, and his brother is looking into the back seat and screaming "PEASANT" through mouthfuls of his own skin.  Traffic is heavy.  I don't understand how we lasted THIS long.  I am, in short, uncertain as to what I should DO.

Apple Talk / Andy Griffiths RIP, age 86.
« on: July 05, 2015, 05:53:54 am »
I thought he died years ago.  Apparently not.

RPG Ghetto / Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« on: July 04, 2015, 06:05:34 am »
The idea was great, but all 3 published versions sucked.

So, doing it myself.  Instead of some demon lords being behind the fake elemental cult, it's run by an inner circle of Vecna cultists.  Of course, the undead Vecna has moved on to bigger and better things than being a moldy old undead thing, so he has no intention of coming back.  But they're dumb and maniacal, and yanno...

Anyway, I have two groups going through the campaign at the same time, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.  I am not running the same adventure twice, I am running them both through at the same time, and the actions of one group affect the other, and vice-versa.  In fact, tomorrow they all sit at the table together for a massive "Rumble in the Slums".

The groups have cleared out and set up shop in a couple of arcane sites, smacking around some temple heavies in the process (and learning of the return of the ancient threat).  The local wizards guild has decided they want the sites, and have hired goons to take the parties out.  The more experienced party has gotten wind of this, and the fact that the guild is going to take out the less experienced party first.  So they send a henchman to warn the group (who is going down to the docks to meet a guy who supposedly knows where the ancient evil temple is).

The more experienced group arrives just as the bad guys kick off their ambush.

The map of the docks and the adjoining slum is divided into 19 segments, and each segment has either hit men of one kind or another, or nothing, or helpful people from a gang the parties are friendly with (which is to say, they have common enemies).  Each segment also has "chase" conditions that have to be met before anyone can enter them (crowded street, etc).  This of course applies to the good guys and the bad guys, and may result in groups of both being split, as individuals make the required checks.  The less experienced PCs arrive randomly in one of the first 8 zones (the Northern half of the map), and the other party arrives in either zone 1, 5, or 9.  The less experienced PCs are out of their league, and have to survive until the other party shows up.

Also, there's a pack of pit bulls that wander the map and attack either side.  Because life is just more FUN with a horde of feral pit bulls.  Oh, and more giant rats than you can shake a stick at. And a swarm of carniverous cockroaches. And CANNIBAL STREET URCHINS.  Because slums.  And it's raining like Goddamn Portland, mostly so they don't burn the city down, but also because the modifiers are universal and vastly amusing (to me).  Lastly, the bad guys in an adjoining zone may see the PCs if they make a ruckus, and attempt to move into their zone to attack, and all bad guys chase good guys no matter where they go.

Victory conditions are:

PCs are killed - obviously, bad guys win, campaign over.
PCs survive by fleeing the slums - draw, no information, and the goons are still out for them.
PCs get to the informant and then escape - PCs win, get information.
PCs wipe out 80-100 percent of the bad guys - Crushing victory, PCs get information, wizards guild humiliated, bonus experience for everyone.

The parties have three (3) hours of real time to complete their objectives.

The bad guys are a mixed bag of lunatic bleachling gnomes, red mantis assassins, street thugs, some murder cultists, a solo monk bounty hunter, and some Sczarni (ie, Roma) hit men (among other things).

The friendly gang, the Garbanzo brothers outfit, is located in two zones, and can be made helpful with a diplomacy check, in which case they either toss the PCs a healing potion or two OR eliminate any one group of assassins chasing the PCs.

Now, this comes off almost like a boardgame, and it really is for this session, but that's the best way to get the cinematic feeling ala Indiana Jones or Brandon Fraser in The Mummy.

If they live through this, then phase two starts, and the more experienced party goes off to the temple, while the less experienced party works for that nice old deformed noble that's been paying them for odd jobs that are getting more than a little disturbing.

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