polyhedral dice

Some of you among the three or four who read this blog (after blowing the dust off it) might recall that for several years I worked as a freelance writer in the roleplaying game industry, writing adventures and supplement books for various companies. Most of my work was for the late, lamented Hogshead Publishing, which held a license to produce product for one of my favorite roleplaying games, the first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. (WFRP)

Anyway, I stopped working in that industry after one particularly bad experience (largely of my own doing, to be fair) convinced me it just wasn’t worth it anymore: lousy pay rates (a per word rate averaging three cents per word, what writers were getting in the 1930s), large word counts and short deadlines, no time for a regular life…. It had stopped being fun.

I had kept in touch with the hobby, however, by tracking a few web sites that dealt with RPGs, particularly James Maliszewski’s Grognardia, a now-moribund site dedicated to what was called the “Old School Renaissance,” a movement focused on reviving and supporting roleplaying games as they had been played in the 70s and 80s, centered mostly around D&D clones.

James had announced a cooperative project that he would edit called “Petty Gods,” a book of godlings and minor deities a referee could use in his campaign. You can read the original announcement of it here. It sounded like a fun project, and, after spending a frustrating morning looking for some mislaid keys, I came up with “Galdu Aurkitu, God of Things Mislaid and Found.”

Name: Galdu Aurkitu
Symbols: Keys on a ring. A single sock.
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 180′ (60′)
Armor Class: -3
Hit Points (Hit Dice) 90 (19 HD)
Attacks: Special
Damage: Special
Save: T20
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: VIII, XVII
XP: 10,000

Galdu Aurkitu is the petty god of all things mislaid and unexpectedly found. A relative of the gods of good and bad luck, Galdu Aurkitu appears in one of three forms: an elderly, forgetful man; a young woman with three walnut shells and a pea; and a helpful lad. When encountered, each represents an aspect of Galdu Aurkitu’s role: forgetting where one put something; being sure something set aside was there just a moment ago; and suddenly finding in an unexpected place something thought lost.

Galdu Aurkitu is often invoked by those looking for a mislaid object, from something as minor as the house keys to something as important as a secret treaty. He (or she) can be a capricious god. If a person annoys the god (or one of the god’s divine friends), Galdu Aurkitu will cause a needed item not to be where it was supposed to be, even though it was just put there a moment ago. The idea is not to cause harm, but to annoy and inconvenience the victim. On the other hand, Galdu Aurkitu can take pity on those who have lost something dear to them, such as the son who was sure he lost an heirloom ring, or the poor widow frantic because she can’t find the rent money. The item will be found in the least likely place to look, and it is still up to the searcher to find it. Whether causing an item to be lost or found, Galdu Aurkitu takes great pleasure in mortals’ reactions and may well be nearby, watching.

In combat, Galdu Aurkitu attacks by “mislaying” opponents’ weapons and magic items: the fighter will reach for a sword, only it’s not there – he must have left it back in camp. The wizard will reach for a scroll, only to discover it is not where it is supposed to be. In each case, the item will be in Galdu Aurkitu’s hand, who will then put it to best use. The petty god can use this power once per round.

When truly angry, Galdu Aurkitu can curse a mortal, ensuring that, for the next 24 hours, an item will be missing when most needed. This will occur once in those 24 hours. If Galdu Aurkitu particularly likes a mortal and decides to bless him or her, then something treasured and thought long-lost will be unexpectedly found and returned to them sometime in the next week, or perhaps opponents in combat will mislay a weapon or magic item. This latter blessing lasts for only 24 hours, however, and, like the curse, only happens once..

Reaction Table (roll 2d6, use INT for modifiers):

2 Friendly: Blesses 1d4 nearby targets.

3-5 Indifferent: Blesses 1d4 nearby targets if properly propitiated.

6-8 Neutral: Ignores nearby creatures.

9-11 Unfriendly: Curses 1d4 nearby targets if not properly propitiated.

12 Hostile: Curses 1d4 nearby targets.

I submitted this to James back in 2010, and then… nothing. For various reasons, the projects James had been working on, including Petty Gods, encountered near-fatal difficulties and had to be rescued by others. In fact, I had thought Petty Gods had died and had largely forgotten about it, until a few weeks ago at DriveThruRPG, where I saw this:

Petty Gods

Imagine my surprise. The PDF is free, so I downloaded it and, sure enough, there was little Galdu with his very own illustration. Apparently someone had rescued the project and it went through a few hands until the product pictured above was produced. And, judging from the PDF, the new developers did a great job.  It’s available in print-on-demand paperback at Lulu.com: I may just get myself a copy.

So, that was a long-winded way to share my amusement at still being published in the hobby-game industry. To be honest, it made me smile.

If you’re running a campaign in which minor gods could conceivably walk among mortals (as in the style of Thieves’ World or Liavek), download the free PDF and give it a look. I think you’ll enjoy it.

PS: It’s a shame James has largely withdrawn from the hobby, though I hear he still plays. Grognardia was a wonderful blog, and I’d love to see it revived.

The Wind-Power Scam

"But please give us subsidies"

“But please give us subsidies”

I wrote a small review of John Etherington’s book “The Wind Farm Scam: An Ecologist’s Evaluation” at GoodReads:

The Wind Farm Scam: An Ecologist's EvaluationThe Wind Farm Scam: An Ecologist’s Evaluation by John Etherington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rather dry, but a good overview of why wind-power is a scam: uneconomical,an ugly blight on the landscape, unlikely to reduce the “problem” of greenhouse gases (assuming for a moment such a problem exists), and a way for “green energy” firms to drain “rents” (tax money) from gullible governments. Focused almost wholly on the UK, the discussion is useful to critics of wind-farming here in the US, too.

View all my reviews

Not so sure I like GoodReads, but, what the heck. I haven’t posted here in a while.

And wind-power is still a farce.

medieval court lawyer

The earliest written use of the “F-bomb” has been traced back to the 14th century:

We previously thought that the first use of the “F word” dated back to 1528 — to when a monk jotted the word in the margins of Cicero’s De Officiis. But it turns out that you can find traces of this colorful curse word in English court documents written in 1310.

Dr. Paul Booth, a former lecturer in medieval history at Keele University, was looking through court records from the age of Edward II when he accidentally…

You’ll have to click through for the context of this important discovery. It’s hilarious, albeit unsurprisingly R-rated.

And, as someone who studied Latin for several years, I can sympathize with that monk — I used that same word many times while trying to translate Cicero.

Advice from a supervisor

"You want me to wear what?"

“If she only had a brain…”

Dear College Coed,

In the future, you might want to put down the cell phone and stop texting when a customer is waiting to pay you.




PS: You’d think this would be obvious…

Hey! I made a map! All by my little old self!

Exarchate of Monckton effects on

This scratches several itches for me. First, as some of you know, I manage a small Earth Sciences library at UCLA that has an extensive map collection. And I love maps. I often look at them and think “What cool source material for fictional worlds.”

I also happen to love fantasy and science fiction literature, as well as roleplaying games. Good maps are often vital to both. I can’t tell you how often I stared at the map of Middle Earth in my copy of Lord of the Rings in high school and imagined the adventures that could take place there.

But, well, I have the artistic talent of a clam. I draw a straight line, it looks like an amoeba. It was only through the help of a good friend (Hi, Alfred!) and the services of a master artist hired by the publisher that my sketch map of the city of Marienburg became the wonderful map it is.

But there are several programs on the market meant to help one create beautiful maps on the PC and then print them out. One of the most well-known is Campaign Cartographer, which is currently in version “3+”. It’s a marvelous program, based on a CAD engine, so it’s very powerful, but it also has a steep learning curve. So steep, that, even though I’ve owned it since version 2, I never tried to make a map of it. Just kept buying the upgrades.

Now, is that silly or what?

So, after moving to the new digs, I told myself that one thing I would do is finally start learning Campaign Cartographer (aka “CC3+”). And, yes, the curve has been steep. But, at the same time, it’s been fun. There’s a helpful community at the Profantasy site, where I’ve learned a lot. “Monckton” is sort of a worksheet for me, where I try different things to see how they work. I’ve barely even started to scratch the surface of what can be done with this program, but I think I’m going to have a good time digging even deeper.

I might even get a game going, set it in the Exarchate, and let them explore the dangers of the Tower of the Astrologer. :)

PS: Here’s a PDF of the map, which I think shows it better than the pic above.

Best left alone?

Best left alone?

I mean, it’s just asking for trouble:

And speaking of Pluto’s features, NASA scientists are now giving unofficial names to some of the things they’ve spotted — names they can submit to the International Astronomical Union for official approval. They’re sticking with the trend of underworld creatures and gods — Pluto, after all, was the Roman god of the underworld — and have tentatively named a previously observed dark, whale-shaped splotch (just to the left of the broken heart) after “Cthulhu,” the dark deity invented by author H.P. Lovecraft. Described as part man, part dragon, and part octopus, Cthulhu has gained something of a cult following in the Internet age.

Okay, so Cthulhu is supposed to be trapped under the Pacific, where he lies dreaming, but what if R’lyeh was really located on a dark plane on a dark planet at the far edge of the Solar System, and Lovecraft was trying to spare us the sanity-blasting truth? And what if this awakens him… er…. it?

Yeah. We’re doomed.

PS: Let us enjoy this moment while forgiving the article’s author his apparently weak knowledge of all things Cthulhuoid. First, he’s never been described as “part dragon,” though he does have wings as I recall, and an octopoidal head. But he is definitely not a god. Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, and Hastur are gods. The Big C is “merely” a Great Old One, himself a servant of the gods.

polyhedral dice

So, according to this 100+ question test, if I were to suddenly find myself translated to some AD&D setting (Greyhawk, please!), I’d be a NG Elf Bard — and only 5th level?

In other words, I’d be positively annoying to my party. I can already hear the “no singing!” jokes straight out of Holy Grail.

And I was so hoping for a powerful Chaotic Evil wizard. They have the best costumes. The. Best.

(Hmmm…. Worrying about fashion. Maybe I am meant to play an Elf… :/  )

Anyway, Here are the results:

I Am A: Neutral Good Elf Bard (5th Level)

Ability Scores:







Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Elves are known for their poetry, song, and magical arts, but when danger threatens they show great skill with weapons and strategy. Elves can live to be over 700 years old and, by human standards, are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. Elves are slim and stand 4.5 to 5.5 feet tall. They have no facial or body hair, prefer comfortable clothes, and possess unearthly grace. Many others races find them hauntingly beautiful.

Bards often serve as negotiators, messengers, scouts, and spies. They love to accompany heroes (and villains) to witness heroic (or villainous) deeds firsthand, since a bard who can tell a story from personal experience earns renown among his fellows. A bard casts arcane spells without any advance preparation, much like a sorcerer. Bards also share some specialized skills with rogues, and their knowledge of item lore is nearly unmatched. A high Charisma score allows a bard to cast high-level spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

On the other hand giving him the personality of a singer at a 3rd-rate resort lounge might be kind of fun…


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