Letter from Dr Marhaba to Tom Ovenbird, &al.

Greetings Mr Ovenbird, Greetings!

Please convey my regards to Misters Turner and Glizzard, and thank you for the story of their recent adventures. I’m sorry to hear they have suffered wounds, but am greatly gratified they are in recovery with good prospects for full recovery.

Dangerous as the our worlds are, they are made safer and better by our mutual support of each other becoming our better selves. Do let me know if there’s something I can help with using my resources to aid their progress; but I have arranged for a case of supplies to be sent as soon as possible with items that may be useful in that regard.

I read your notes about the music Turner and Glizzard discovered to a colleague who suggested something interesting. Apparently, my colleague was reminded of some ancient materials recovered from research on the long lost Serpent Kingdoms. There were recovered several examples of musical notation from those ancient days, which have been reconstructed as best as we are able. I’m of course not suggesting that the music you found was from that ancient period, but we were reminded of these reconstructions. I have included a sample being sent by my colleague, which you may enjoy and consider.

Who knows what layers of ancient past might be hiding under the surface of the estuary, just waiting to be discovered. We know that the ancient Serpent Kingdoms covered much of our world, and maybe farther, so finds both of direct artifacts and also lingering influence on subsequent eras are to be found everywhere.

When you mention the broken urn, I wanted to share two practices I’ve used to repair similar artifacts to some success. The first practice has proven useful for preserving the original appearance while displaying the historical damage, but in a way that conserves the efficacy of any effect of magic within, often allowing me to not only preserve the item but to engage in a process of repairing the magical function of those artifacts as well. In this technique, use pure gold to fill and repair crack and defects in the object, which is highly malleable and also allows magic to function. Another property of pure gold is to mellow ill effects from any maleficent magics in the original, possibly creating a much more useful artifact than the original even.

The second, as is true of so many broken things, contemplates that breaks are never fully healed, even in hearts as in urns, but that we can grow larger than our breaks. One can sometimes create surprising new artifacts using the materials from older objects by embedding the older material in new, when the older artifacts are not repairable or to be preserved as examples as they are for research.

I will send some material we’ve used successfully at the University to do this. You’ll be interested to know that this material is actually derived from mud! You may be able to create new supplies from the mud in your own estuary, so I’ll also include instructions on the preparation of more.

News of your Ms Frembas will be welcome when there is some to share.

I have recently received a crate, which I have not had a chance to investigate, from another new correspondent, Take, a small fellow who appears to have recently taken up with a newly unified tribal cohort of Goblins and is seeking out ancient forgotten places with the help of their rather amazingly well preserved oral histories, that stretch far beyond what history even those at this University know. I understand there is, as I write this, a remarkable Goblin Market being built to traffic in the arts, crafts and artifacts from those adventures and more. Sounds like a place of wondrous surprises.

Truly, much amazing news and discoveries are being made by all in many quarters, and I am honored and delighted to be able to play a part in those, applying what resources I have available to me, even if only remotely, whilst I make my own progress here.

Signed & sealed,
Hujambo Marhaba

OOC

(This is an in-character letter sent, with an OOC post-script, back in 2017, to someone playing a solitaire game using the Index Card RPG (ICRPG) rules, as a kind of meta-game correspondence play. Unfortunately, there was only one previous letter exchanged and no others, though I did come up with a draft idea of ICRPG Field Research activity, and so this didn’t develop much further, but there’s a lot about this kind of meta-game play, especially for solitaire, that appeals to me. Adding a series of correspondence to an existing game, that links different tables and players across time and space seems pretty awesome, and potentially wildly interesting.)

I know the work of Bach is not the same, and separated by much time, but as I listened to the music you linked, I was reminded of and ended up listening again to several reconstructions of ancient music, including the Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal and Ensemble De Organographia, who I got to hear in person a few years ago, playing at Marylhurst in PDX.

Thinking of that in ICRPG terms, I thought there might be threads of musical magic patterns that survive in subsequent compositions that are preserved from even more ancient works from the Serpent Kingdoms.

Consider what a reasonable but not awkwardly extravagant care package from Marhaba, a well funded adventurer at a magical University might include, and that might be send to Turner and Glizzard; perhaps roll a few times on the ICRPG loot tables, or just grab a few ideas; but something no doubt useful to them will arrive shortly or along with this letter. Something like this care package might be similar to one of many supply crates Marhaba would have on hand, prepared to take on an extended dig, for example, with health and wellness supplies, but perhaps with one or two additional gifts added to it, that may prove useful.

When talking about using gold to fill cracks, I’m of course thinking of Kintsugi, an exemplar from Japan of Wabi Sabi.

Also, when talking about creating something bigger than the original, I’m reminded of the Japanese art Dorodango, of making “shiny dumpling” mud balls, a kind of magical process!

That last, shiny mud balls, I can really imagine being a high art in Grung (from D&D) or Torton (ICRPG) / Tortle (D&D) cultures, and may be something of interest for filling out the culture of some non human settlements in the estuary area. Like finding glass balls from old fishing nets on the beach …

I’ve been on a kick thinking about Myconids, Grung, Torton/Tortle as fun “bioforms” for a swampy/wetlands area of play. I can’t shake ideas of Frog and Toad and Wind in the Willows when I think of adventures in a estuary. And, I’ve gone way off on a tangent now. But, I’ve always been very interested in non-human, even non-humanoid, characters, for a game. Lately, I’ve been dreaming of something set in a place similar to the D&D Chult, in the Snout of Omgar, with Tortle, Grung, and idek Kobolds, Myconids and Vegepygmies?!

Welp. I finally managed to record a bit of a new series for the forthcoming ICRPG Ghost Mountain setting, in Runehammer’s ICRPG Worlds, or rather, inspired by what I imagine that setting will be like. The first moments of that posted just now on youtube!

I spent way more time pulling together preparations for that than I thought I would need, but I think it turned out okay. I wanted to do something leading up to an actual Ghost Mountain adventure, as soon as the ICRPG Worlds book is out, whenever it is finished.

It has been getting darker and drearier here as the cold creeps in and the rain begins lasting weeks at a time, and I’ve not been keeping up with regular game streaming lately. I’ve been struggling a bit with that, but I do what I can.

This weekend is PAX Unplugged in Philly, so I’ve been watching streams from there. Last night was Dice Camera Action, a fun series, and tonight is Acquisitions Incorporated. Then tomorrow is The C Team. Those are all D&D live shows. Don’t know if you’ve ever watched any of that kind of thing, but I watch a few of them. Some day, I think it would be fun to be part of a live stream roleplaying game like those!

Anyhow, hope all is well with you and yours!

Thanks!

How to play ICRPG Field Research

Here is a draft from back in 2017 for a little experimental adventure using the Index Card RPG (ICRPG) effort system to do field research, especially for a solitaire adventure but, really, there’s nothing that couldn’t be used in general at your table.

This is the “brief discussion of proper sampling techniques and methods of recording observations” mentioned in Dr Marhaba’s previous letter. I’ve only really worked up structure here, and left most of the details free for your imagination in play. Let me know if you’ve comments, questions, or suggestions, if you use this.

ICRPG Field Research

Determine the maximum number of days in the season
– For example, 2d10+9 days total.

Target for each day is equal to the day number, modified by any momentum you’d like to apply, as below. In part, this represents the increasing difficulty of finding something not yet observed through the season.

Maximum effort that can be applied to tasks each day is equal to the day number x 10.

Work together, with equipment and technique, to gain effort faster; possible equipment or techniques might be things like magnifying glass, spyglass, tent blind, camouflaged clothing, sneaking to a new vantage point, having someone flush the area, trying to observe something that got away last time (as in Easy on repeat attempts), &c.

Locate

Beat target to locate a specimen or observation
– bank tokens equal to the difference above the target
– banked tokens can be used to boost other rolls as desired throughout the trial, an indicator of momentum

d6 which element is the specimen or observation found related to
– earth, air, fire, water, spirit, magic

d4 what is the specimen or observation rarity
– common, uncommon, rare, unique

Observe

d4 timer to indicate how long one has to observe the specimen or observation to get something significant

Rolls on basic effort against target to gather effort against rarity x 10 until the timer runs out
– bank tokens equal to the difference above the target
– banked tokens can be used to boost other rolls as desired throughout the trial, an indicator of momentum

Sample

d4 timer to indicate how long one has to gather a specimen to get something significant

Rolls on basic effort against target to gather effort against rarity x 10 until the timer runs out
– bank tokens equal to the difference above the target
– banked tokens can be used to boost other rolls as desired throughout the trial, an indicator of momentum

Field Notes

On successful observation create field notes

1 Description
– Facts
– Impressions
2 Illustration
3 Store sample for transport, if gathered
4 Reflection

Conclusion

Repeat until your season is complete. How many and how rare were your observations and samples for the season? What leads did you find for future research from those observations and samples? Who do you communicate your findings to and what do they do with them or say in reply?

Illimat Variant: The Butcher in Solitaire and Solitaire Variant Improved

In a recent stream, archived on my youtube channel, I tried to play the Solitaire Variant of Illimat [also], and hoped to actually follow the rules this time, as I had been unintentionally playing what I’ve called Easy Stockpiling. However, I ran into a bit of a pickle when I revealed The Butcher, a Luminary from The Crane Wife expansion.

The issue is that when The Butcher is revealed, the Luminary in the opposite field is discarded. However, according to the Solitaire Variant: “The goal of Illimat Solitaire is to reveal and collect all four of the Luminaries.” And if you’ve not already claimed the opposite Luminary, there are no longer four Luminaries to collect.

In the video, I muse over the question, for the result of my second game, whether revealing The Butcher ends the game with a loss, as it is no longer possible to claim four Luminaries, or could victory now still be had by claiming all possible remaining Luminaries (three, or four if The Newborn adds one more)? Or, perhaps victory is only possible if The Newborn adds back a new fourth Luminary?

Note that the Solitaire Variant also says, “If there are fewer than three cards remaining [in the draw deck] when a Luminary is revealed, the Luminary is discarded and a full victory is impossible.” This would suggest that the most proper reading of the variant is that if revealing The Butcher discards one of the four Luminaries, then full victory is now impossible.

At the table, I decided that I would try and see how it played out, but noted that I may have lost that game. I then continue to play and successfully claim the remaining three available Luminaries on the table.

After I was done streaming I asked Keith Baker, via Twitter, about this and he responded, “The Crane Wife Luminaries aren’t designed for Solitaire. The only one that seems like a good match for Solitaire is The Boat.”

Okay. Not with that attitude it isn’t. And, now, I’m going to go off on that.

First off that response didn’t actually answer my question, but rather shut it down. Way to put the kibosh on the enthusiasm of a player!

Point of order: Given that Solitaire is itself a variant, and changes the way Luminaries work, none of the Luminaries were designed for solitaire, per se.

Also, that’s weak sauce. If the response to trying to play the game with an expansion is that the expansion wasn’t designed for that, instead of trying to figure it out, then that is as much to say the expansion should be labelled as not valid for solitaire play, and I shouldn’t have bought it. Best request a refund. And, get off my lawn.

That seems also to be the opposite of what I think of as creativity and a game playing attitude.

Frankly, as a solitaire-only player, that makes me feel like I’m not welcome to play the game at all, and that the Solitaire Variant was a grudging afterthought. Perhaps it was only that. Perhaps I’m not. Perhaps solitaire players aren’t.

News from the game designer is, essentially, if you’re a solitaire player: Don’t buy The Crane Wife expansion. It’s not for you. If you want to play by the rules as designed, don’t.

Well, fuck that. That’s bullshit.

Beyond that I’m probably now less interested in trying to make solitaire work for any other Keith Baker games, and I had actually been considering another. But, even leaving other now unlikely game purchases out, I’ll have a bad taste in my mouth for any future Illimat expansions, and am far less enthusiastic about trying to participate in Society of Luminaries meta-game stuff or likely to follow through with buying several available, completely optional, Illimat tchotchkes I’d been seriously thinking about spending real money on as a would-be solitaire once-and-no-longer-future enthusiast of this game in particular.

With all due respect to Keith Baker, screw that wet blanket noise. I bought your damned game and the twice damned expansion with my damned limited and precious gold, and, by the eternally damned gods, I’m going to damned well play the freakin’ hell out of it. Moreover, I’ll be damned if I’m not going to do it now just to spite you. I mean, damn, man!

For the game and expansion I’ve got and paid for already, of course it is possible to play the game with the expansion as a solitaire player. It’s just a matter of figuring it out. It’s just a darned disappointment and dang discouraging to have the game designer say it isn’t.

Now I’m done ranting. Except in my head. I’m still mad and ranting about this in my head. Damn. Maybe I will put the game on a shelf not to be played again after all. I don’t know yet. We’ll see how I feel about it later.

On the other hand, to be fair, I think you can see why I’m single, live alone, have no friends, and only play games solitaire.

Welp. Okay then …

If you’re still here, here’s how I suggest you can play with The Butcher in Solitaire, served three ways. The first way is the closest reading to the canonical Solitaire Variant. The second is slightly more divergent. The third is my personal favourite of the three, and ultimately is my suggestion. For the third, I preface that with a suggestion about a change to the Solitaire Variant that I think improves it, makes it more fun and friendly.

The Butcher in Solitaire #1 — When The Butcher is revealed, the opposite Luminary is discarded. If not already claimed, the opposite Luminary is discarded and a full victory is impossible.

The Butcher in Solitaire #2 — When The Butcher is revealed, the opposite Luminary is discarded. If not already claimed, the opposite Luminary is discarded and a full victory is impossible unless The Newborn is later revealed in play and causes a new fourth Luminary to be made available, and all of the new four available are claimed before the draw pile runs out.

Solitaire Variant Improved — Where the Solitaire Variant says or implies the goal is to “collect all four of the Luminaries”, read “collect as many Luminaries as possible.” That means that you want to claim all the Luminaries available on the table, though that number might increase or decrease based on the Luminaries revealed. Then, you can always note how many Luminaries you claimed and if you got all Luminaries on the table before running out of cards in the draw pile, thus “2 Luminaries, Loss” or “4 Luminaries, Win”. Hey, and since we’re here, let’s also change the preamble to be less disparaging and dismissive of those playing solitaire, where it claims to exist to “provide solace” for those with “no companions” or only for “sharpen[ing] your skills when plotting revenge on a future opponent”. How about simply saying that this variant is for those who chose to have fun playing solitaire?

The Butcher in Solitaire #3 — Using Solitaire Variant Improved, when The Butcher is revealed, the opposite Luminary is discarded. This reduces the number of available Luminaries that can be claimed to three, unless The Newborn is revealed and causes a new fourth Luminary to be made available. (If The Butcher is not revealed, but The Newborn is, and causes a new fifth Luminary to be made available, that increases the available Luminaries to five.) Continue to play and claim as many Luminaries as possible before the draw pile is exhausted. If there are still Luminaries to claim when the draw pile is exhausted, you may wish to consider Solitaire Rounds to continue playing.

 

Twogether Baker The Decemberists Illimat

Illimat Variant: Solitaire Rounds

In a recent stream, archived on my youtube channel, I describe a few possible new variants for Illimat [also]. The first of those is Solitaire Rounds, and here’s my current idea on what that could be.

Solitaire Rounds Variant — Instead of a loss after the first round, re-shuffle claimed cards back into a new deck and start a new round. Scoring now includes how many round it took to win, with the goal of claiming as many luminaries as possible in as few rounds as possible.

In this variant, there are as many rounds in a solitaire game as need to claim all luminaries, or until the player decides to cease. If the player decides to cease play, then the number of rounds is noted as the number followed with a + sign. So, a player who claimed all luminaries on round 3 would note 3. However, a player who does not claim all luminaries, but decides to cease play on round three notes 3+.

One can record a result for this variant with the number of luminaries claimed and the number of rounds played, such as “2 Luminaries, 3 rounds” or “3 Luminaries, 2+ rounds”.

 

Twogether Baker The Decemberists Illimat

SWRPG TFA Beginner Game Discovery on Jakku Post-Mortem

Rigaroga shares some final thoughts, a review and post-mortem, about the experience after running through Discovery on Jakku from Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG The Force Awakens Beginner Game.

Star Wars RPG The Force Awakens Beginner Game by Fantasy Flight Games

Rigaroga is a technologist lost in the wilderness, having adventures in geekery and nerdy mishegoss.

The Odd Order is a place for Rigaroga, friends and acquaintances to gather online.

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IAG The Crash of Packet Cruiser K748N, Part 5

Rigaroga tries adapting for solo play The Crash of Packet Cruiser K748N, an introductory adventure for the playtest of Iris: Adventure Game, “a tabletop roleplaying game set in a sci-fi universe full of color and exploration,” which is currently in development.

In this segment, I play through chapter 1, collecting crash survivors and supplies, and recovering a few secret items. But, then, the wildlife catches our scent.

Iris: Adventure Game by Joshua Hunter Mitchell and Jared Collins

Rigaroga is a technologist lost in the wilderness, having adventures in geekery and nerdy mishegoss.

The Odd Order is a place for Rigaroga, friends and acquaintances to gather online.

Become an ongoing Patron, get gratis music downloads, and help me geek out!

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SWRPG TFA Beginner Game Discovery on Jakku, Part 10

Rigaroga plays through Discovery on Jakku from Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG The Force Awakens Beginner Game.

Star Wars RPG The Force Awakens Beginner Game by Fantasy Flight Games

Rigaroga is a technologist lost in the wilderness, having adventures in geekery and nerdy mishegoss.

The Odd Order is a place for Rigaroga, friends and acquaintances to gather online.

Become an ongoing Patron, get gratis music downloads, and help me geek out!

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IAG The Crash of Packet Cruiser K748N, Part 4

Rigaroga tries adapting for solo play The Crash of Packet Cruiser K748N, an introductory adventure for the playtest of Iris: Adventure Game, “a tabletop roleplaying game set in a sci-fi universe full of color and exploration,” which is currently in development.

In this segment, I play through the prologue, when the characters meet and disaster strikes.

Iris: Adventure Game by Joshua Hunter Mitchell and Jared Collins

Rigaroga is a technologist lost in the wilderness, having adventures in geekery and nerdy mishegoss.

The Odd Order is a place for Rigaroga, friends and acquaintances to gather online.

Become an ongoing Patron, get gratis music downloads, and help me geek out!

Watch, Subscribe, and Cheer! — Watch Rigaroga live on Twitch

SWRPG TFA Beginner Game Discovery on Jakku, Part 9

Rigaroga plays through Discovery on Jakku from Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG The Force Awakens Beginner Game.

Star Wars RPG The Force Awakens Beginner Game by Fantasy Flight Games

Rigaroga is a technologist lost in the wilderness, having adventures in geekery and nerdy mishegoss.

The Odd Order is a place for Rigaroga, friends and acquaintances to gather online.

Become an ongoing Patron, get gratis music downloads, and help me geek out!

Watch, Subscribe, and Cheer! — Watch Rigaroga live on Twitch

IAG The Crash of Packet Cruiser K748N, Part 3

Rigaroga tries adapting for solo play The Crash of Packet Cruiser K748N, an introductory adventure for the playtest of Iris: Adventure Game, “a tabletop roleplaying game set in a sci-fi universe full of color and exploration,” which is currently in development.

In this segment, I introduce the setting and outline of the adventure.

Iris: Adventure Game by Joshua Hunter Mitchell and Jared Collins

Rigaroga is a technologist lost in the wilderness, having adventures in geekery and nerdy mishegoss.

The Odd Order is a place for Rigaroga, friends and acquaintances to gather online.

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Or become an ongoing Patron, get gratis music downloads, and help me geek out!