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Playing Dice With The Universe

But With A Sword

by Bill Kte'pi
Jun 17,2004

 

Playing Dice With The Universe

But With A Sword

General Housekeeping First:

1) I'm writing this shortly after the first column ran, and it garnered a huge number of responses, many of them detailed and multi-pointed; likewise, the subjects I bring up in these columns invite many tangents. Don't take it personally if I'm not able to respond to every comment, or to keep up a lengthy conversation: since the comments to columns are all on one forum, I want to keep my participation in tangents to a minimum because once we veer into the realm of academic debate, the conversation could continue forever, every time a new reader scrolls down and joins in. I prefer to keep deeply academic discussions confined to my academic pursuits -- I don't bring up D&D in philosophy papers, after all.

There's just plain a time constraint, too: I'm not a message-board hobbyist with hours a day, or even a week, to spend in debate, or I'd never get anything else done.

2) I'll be at GenCon this year. Never been to a gaming convention before, just the occasional multi-purpose con, and I haven't even been to one of those since the early 90s when I was more concerned with getting Steve Bissette to sign my Swamp Thing comics than anything else. No idea what to expect, but if you see me, say hi (I'm the guy in the T-shirt).

Okay, onwards.


As I write this, the World of Darkness has ended all but officially: Gehenna, Apocalyse, Ascension, and Time of Judgment have all come out and taken up their spots on my shelves, white-wolf.com's timer is ticking down to the end of April, and four or five months stretch between now and the premiere of the new WOD. Since my initial brainstorming session for this column yielded a lot of WOD-related ideas -- some good, some not so much -- I figured I'd send the setting off by doing a few of them in the interregnum. Sure, nothing prevents me from covering the old setting later, but why not give the new one the benefit of the doubt and assume it'll give me ideas unique to it?

I'm going to start with Hunter: the Reckoning, which might be my favorite banana in the bunch. Sure, Vampire has the huge playable history to toy with, and Mage has an immense depth if the GM and players click, but Hunter immediately grabbed me and had my attention, especially the initial few books, before the more recent enemy books (the game does best when it shares less space with the rest of the WOD, I think).


Subject: Do the messengers check ID?
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: davey666

Okay, so, I've avoided posting for a long time, because we're all so cagey and sensitive to "signs & portents" that I didn't want anyone freaking out over the '666' I'm tagged with -- silly, I know, but it even creeped me out a little when I got the notice with my login.

Anyway. What am I delurking with? Well, I know we don't like to talk specifics about who we are offline, and things like that, but ... in general terms ... does anyone have a good sense for our "demographics"? I get the feeling there are more men on this msg board than women, but that says more about computer habits maybe than anything else. Dunno how representative we are of what's going on beyond the walls.

What I'm wondering about isn't gender, really, it's age. I ran into somebody the other night, one of us I think, who was ... young. I mean, I didn't card him or anything, right, but he had pimples and peach fuzz, you know? I'm talking 16 at the most, and if he hadn't been one of us, if I'd just seen him in the mall or on the bus, I would've assumed 12. Is this unusual? He seemed to know what he was doing, like he'd been at it for awhile.

And pal, if you're out there, holla back all right? I'm in the city where the yats are at.


Subject: re: Do the messengers check ID?
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: plausible1140

Check the archives, davey, we've talked about this a couple times. Short answer: some of us are very young indeed, maybe as young as 9 or younger. Seem to be fewer bystanders at that age, but we had a big fight (click here for the thread, it spilled over into some of the other discussion that week too) about whether that's true or not, and playskool750 is a teacher who thinks she might've spotted some "signs" among a couple of her kids over the last few years. (Play, you want to pitch in, or is it all said on the archives?)

If you're pretty sure he was what you thought he was, then I say you've got no reason to doubt it. But -- think about some of the problems we've had in our "community." Some of the misguided souls. You might want to find him, guide him a little, maybe show him this place?


Subject: re: Do the messengers check ID?
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: station34

davey, want to give us more info? Like plausible said, we talked about the age thing before and all, but are you ... worried? about this one? Or just curious?


Subject: re: Do the messengers check ID?
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: davey666

Okay, I can do that.

My boys and I had found a gang of vamps we'd been nickel-and-diming down, taking one or two out when we could, but we got greedy or stupid or just impatient. We were tailing this one, and were sure it hadn't seen us, but bam: a couple turns and all of a sudden the streets are empty except the four of us and six of them. My friend Mikey got taken out immediately, his throat ripped into shreds -- Gabe took a cinder block to the head, and I still don't know if he's gonna make it. (They're gargano78 and fortitudo1832, btw, I think they've both posted a couple times.)

So me and Remy are all that's left and we haven't even touched them. Long story short, at the most one of us would've got away, and the most we would've hoped for would be to take out some of the weaker ones --

-- if it hadn't been for this kid. He just walks in, calmly, and I don't think anyone noticed him at first, until he took a swing with the hammer he was carrying, and drove it right through one of the vamps. Hell breaks loose for a bit -- the vamps are surprised, me and Remy take advantage of that, and we don't get the upper hand but we manage to stand up straight.

And the kid says, "I forgive you."

Boom, it's like a light going out behind their eyes, like candles by an open window in a horror movie. They all drop. One of them, the one nearest me? It withers, like its face gets all shriveled and wrinkled like an old apple, but dry, and when it falls over, it sounds like somebody's dropped a coat. One of the others did the same thing, but the other four stayed meaty and twitching -- and human.

Like, regular human, like he'd healed them. Got their color back, pulse, the works.

The kid looked ... tired, but pumped up, too. Like when you're at a concert and you drove all day to get there. Or you're at Mardi Gras. That kind of thing. I checked him out to make sure he wasn't a warlock or anything like that, and he was clean.

Anyway, that's the deal.


Subject: re: Do the messengers check ID?
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: caduceus56

Bullshit.


Subject: re: Do the messengers check ID?
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: plausible1140

I think what Cad means is "again, check the archives (click here), because we've talked on and on about healing monsters, and it doesn't seem that simple, especially with vamps." Cad and some of the other scientific and medical folks in this thing of ours have done a lot of tests, and if you ask witness he may (or may not) give you a copy of the report from when We'll Name No Names got access to a certain laboratory in a certain European country.

If it +were+ possible, it wouldn't be on the fly like that. Are you sure they were human?


Subject: re: Do the messengers check ID?
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: davey666

They died when we shot them, so I'm pretty sure.

I don't know what to tell you -- I know what I saw. I mean, there's a reason I didn't mention that stuff before, you know? I just wanted to know about the age thing. Anyway, whatever. I'll see if I can find the kid. witness has my email if anyone wants to talk about this, or if the kid sees this post.


Subject: re: Do the messengers check ID?
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: plausible1140

Hey Davey, don't be pissed. We need to exchange information, all of us, it's one of the best tools we've had. I just think that you've misunderstood what you saw: maybe the kid made them vulnerable to bullets, the way some of us can make baseball bats or what have you do things they shouldn't normally. Maybe they weren't vampires to begin with, but something else.

I'm not calling you a liar.


Subject: REVIVE: re: Do the messengers check ID?
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: britneyfan459

yeah i just wanted to say, some of us are young, i'm only 12 myself but I have watchdog360 to help me out. I don't think kids should go out on their own. thanks.


Subject: re: REVIVE: re: Do the messengers check ID?
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: duckhunter1311

Huh. I forgot about this thread. Has davey posted since? Poor guy.

Anyway, I was looking for something else in the archives the other day and found this. I knew I recognized the name from something:

Subject: re: Your earliest experience
To: hunter.list@hunter-neg.org
From: fortitudo1832

My first experience with the MESSENGERS was actually years before my first experience with the MONSTERS. That's why, like I said on the philosophy board, I'm not sure they're connected the way we say they are.

Anyway. I've told some of you this story before, but I don't think I've posted it. The deal is, years ago -- I guess this had to be 1990, because it was right before I moved to a different neighborhood and started shopping somewhere else -- I was in the grocery store, and I saw this girl there. Just your ordinary Yat girl, downhome type, maybe a little poor maybe just didn't know how to dress so she wouldn't look it.

But when I looked at her, I got this flare-up in my head, like this migraine aura, and the sale announcement signs behind her changed to say:

HER CHILD WILL BE THE CHILD OF GOD HER CHILD WILL LEAD YOU

I had had migraines a couple times, and I'd done some acid, so I'm thinking it was some wild trip, or a combination of a flashback and the headaches, whatever, but everywhere I turn, signs and cereal boxes and soup labels and everything are changing, saying TELL HER, TELL HER, ANNOUNCE THE ARRIVAL OF THE CHILD, TELL HER.

It freaked me right the fuck out, so I said the hell with buying a steak for the grill, I'm going home and drinking my dinner.

Nothing else happened until, what, 1998 or so, the time I told you about with the crocodile wrestler.

Fortitudo is the guy davey mentions. Just thought that was interesting.


Subject: re: REVIVE: re: Do the messengers check ID?
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: quotidian1783

You think that's interesting, check this livejournal out. Livejournal's a blogging and blog-community site. I work for a, hm, certain agency, you understand, that monitors electronic communication for terrorist activity. (I helped with the minor hack that keeps this site from showing up in the scans.) Found the journal while using ... company resources ... for a private project for this thing of ours, to find net-savvy fellow travelers who might not have found us, you know?

Tracked the kid down. A few things check out: the swimming instructor he mentions was reported missing a couple days later; the mother of one of the instructor's students was violently murdered around the time the kid says she was; and the student's name -- our journal-writer, as far as I can tell, and probably davey's Boy Wonder -- is J0shu@ C@rpenter (believe it or not, I don't trust this place's googleproofing).

Should we do anything? I defer to the consensus.


Subject: re: REVIVE: re: Do the messengers check ID?
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: watchdog360

Doesn't this give a lot of support to the "the Messengers tell you what you need to be told to be stirred to action" school of thought? How do you get a 12 year old to kill vampires and zombies? You tell him he's the Second Coming of Christ. God complex, the possibility of martyrdom, an early dose of adolescent immortality, and dramatic responsibility, all in one tasty package.

I mean, the alternative is nuts. I have no doubt Jesus -would- kick some serious ass if He came back, and I've been going to church more since I got into this racket, but ... come on, some things strain credulity.


Subject: CALL TO ARMS (was re: REVIVE: re: Do the messengers check ID?)
To: hunter.list@hunter-net.org
From: strawman2004

Time is running out.

I don't need fishers of men.

This time, I come not in peace, but with a sword.

I need soldiers.

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What do you think?

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