Dr. Neumann’s Daughters

B/X / BECMI stats for robot construct girls inspired by the band Psydoll.

Dr. Neumann’s Daughters

Armor Class: 2 (17)
Hit Dice: 8HD*** (M)
Move: 40′
Attacks: 2 Fists / 1 Kick
Damage: 2d4/2d4/2d4
No. Appearing: 1d4
Save As: D1 (Vulnerable to Magic)
ML: 12
Treasure Type: NA
Intelligence: 18
Alignment: Neutral
Monster Type: Construct (non-Magical)

These constructs appear as attractive young women with absent expression. More than a few moments with one will make it apparent they are not human.

Dr. Neumann’s Daughters attack one opponent with both fists; if another target is at least 10′ away, Dr. Neumann’s Daughter will use its kick attack. Targets of this kick must make a Dexterity check or be knocked prone. Dr. Neumann’s Daughters cannot use the kick attack against opponents it is in melee with, however it can use this attack to break a melee engagement without making a defensive movement.

Dr. Neumann’s Daughters take half damage from non-magical weapons and are immune to normal missile attacks (dodge/deflect). They are immune to Poison and Mental effects.  They can be healed neither normally nor magically, but may be repaired at a rate of 1 Hit Die per week by a mechanical engineer

Steam Shovel McElroy

B/X Stats for this horrifying thing that was used back in the 30s to try to scare folks into thinking pre-recorded music would put musicians out of work.

1930-Sept-2-Syracuse-Herald-Syracuse-NY-sm

(As an industrial musician, you’d better believe this guy showed up in my fliers from time to time.)

AC: 0 (19)
Hit Dice: 15** (L)
Move: 20′
Attacks: 1 Grab / 1 Sonic
Damage: 1d4 / 2d6
No. Appearing: 1
Save AS: F8
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: U
Intelligence: 12
Alignment: Neutral
Monster Type: Construct (non-Magical)

Steam Shovel McElroy is a large (12′) bipedal mechanical creature that believes itself to be a travelling bluesman; built into it is a large device containing recorded musical samples which it will blare into the faces of any it can force to listen.

Each round, Steam Shovel McElroy will attempt to grab one individual (up to two) and use its sonic attack. Individuals who have been grabbed may attack (but not move) with a +2 bonus or make a Strength check with a penalty of 4 to break free.

Its sonic attack is made in a 30 degree arc with a range of 20′; all individuals caught within that cone take 2d6 sonic damage (save vs. Breath for half). Victims that have been grabbed do not get saving throws.

Steam Shovel McElroy is immune to normal projectiles; slashing weapons only do magic + strength bonus in damage.

A slot on the creature’s chest leads to a compartment that may be filled with coins.

(it was used as the flier for this show, in fact)

Cirsova is (Kind of) on Twitter

I created a Twitter page for Cirsova.  Apparently refusing to add suggested randos and not importing an email contacts list is just beyond the pale of reason, so within minutes of spot adding Cirsova contributors manually, I was locked out of my account for suspicious behavior.

I don’t have a cell phone, so I can’t unlock my account. Awesome.

Update: Woohoo! We’re back, baby!  Thanks to Twitter support for fixing this pdq.

Some Not-So-Brief Thoughts On the Collapse of Myspace

There have been countless explanations given as to why Myspace experienced a rapid and catastrophic collapse in 2011, including things like “there was too much spam and phishing going on” and “Facebook was just more hip and trendy, so young folks flocked to it”.

From my own personal experience, it was a sudden disabling of tools and features which had made it valuable as a networking site that quickly turned it from a vibrant and active community to a barren and desolate digital wasteland.

Myspace was a big deal on the cusp of early web 2.0 for a number of reasons, but most importantly, it was an easily customizable free website with a built in address book and music player. Of course some folks would abuse this by embedding the most obnoxious stuff, cramming their page with glittering weed leaves and dancing babies, bringing mid-decade browsers to a crawl, but this versatility allowed a very important user-base an extensive set of tools that had not been available previously-independent musicians and promoters.

Suddenly, every band that had any recordings could have them online, on unique pages, their fans could put listen to and download new tracks, share them by putting them on their own pages, and musicians and fans could stay in touch.

More importantly, Myspace allowed bands to tag themselves by up to three genres. Fans, promoters and labels could do something really neat: they could search for and browse bands within specific genres in specific regions, listen to their music and quickly get in touch. If a promoter needed to fill a slot in a show, they could quickly search by the genre and location to find a band that would be a good fit, lived in the area, gauge their fanbase and get in touch to work out details.

Several of the albums I put out via Retro Virus Records were assembled in this way – Fuck Your Scene Vol.s 1 & 2, Mundus Patet and The Worst Music Dracula Ever Heard* were largely put together by browsing bands and saying “Hey, interested in being on a comp?” Shows, and music fests I organized were filled in a similar manner, as were shows and music fests put on by friends and fellow musicians. But all of this came to a screeching halt in 2011.

The brass and interface developers at Myspace were more concerned about the growing popularity of Facebook than the needs of their most active userbase. Ironically, when UI changes were made to make Myspace have more of a Facebook-like feel, rather than listen to the complaints of users who’d said they’d stayed with Myspace because they didn’t LIKE Facebook, they ran off in their own direction. Now, what I am absolutely certain killed Myspace was when they removed the ability to browse band pages by genre and state/country. One day, the most important networking feature for the most active users who’d been keeping Myspace anchored was gone. Musicians could no longer easily find out what bands were in their own area, and promoters could no longer use Myspace as a tool to find area talent and organize events. Some folks stuck around for awhile because of connections they’d already made, but making new connections had become difficult. Many of us would’ve gladly taken twice as many of those awful Selena Gomez ads on the login screen if you’d at least let us quickly search for punk bands in this or that state to ask if you could get on a show or crash at their place when you came into town, assuring them they had a floor to sleep on if they ever came your way. The next thing you knew, the only music that was easy to find was insipid big-name pop whose labels had shelled out money to have them shoved into our faces.

The community began to crumble at an alarming pace. Accounts became abandoned as Myspace ceased to have much to offer independent musicians and promoters. Worse, a message through Myspace was no longer a viable way to get in touch with musicians, promoters or venues, because people weren’t logging in anymore. Music collectives and digital scenes died, seemingly overnight. One of the most fascinating and exciting music projects I ever had the privilege of being involved with, which had taken the old Myspace platform and turned it into a comprehensive piece of audio-visual artwork, suddenly had the rug pulled out from under it – while Gl1tchg0r3* could survive an inimical split from their record label, it could not survive the total overhaul of the Myspace platform.

And Myspace could’ve survived without the camgirls, the survey girls, grandma and grampa, would-be poets and authors, and folks with the weed leaves and dancing babies as a top notch site catering to and connecting professionals and amateurs in the music industry, but it could not survive as a viable networking platform that lacked the feature of competitors (and was structurally unable to support them) while they ripped out the existing tools and features that had been necessary for its power-users. By the time News Corp sold in mid 2011, the site had been run into ground, selling for less than a tenth of what they had paid for it six years earlier. Though Myspace has somehow trudged on like a hungry ghost, with a small fraction of its userbase and acting as a ‘plug-in’ music service, it is definitely not the Myspace that was. And sadly I don’t know that there will ever be anything quite like it again. That’s my take, based on what I observed as a highly active user of the platform, on why Myspace turned into a zombie site.

*Though the Dracula comp came out in Fall 2011, it was put together the prior year. I can’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure that by early spring of 2011, I’d migrated fully to Facebook with only a token presence on Myspace, partly out of nostalgia and things like Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tuti leaving comments on my page from back when a comment on social media was a bit less of a casual thing.

**I’ve been meaning to talk about Gl1tchg0r3 in a full post for some time. Maybe later this week or next.

Music – Mit Gott ohne Angst, Durch Heer und Kraft

When I first started playing industrial music back in late 07, I ended up with a lot of eastern European neo-folk fans & friends, including these guys (or at least the main guy from back when it was still just a solo project).  Lost touch with just about all of them after the great Myspace exodus of 2011.  Looks like Adam is still making music on his own, though.

God, I need to pull my guitar out and make some noise again…

Also, bizarrely enough, someone bought not one but TWO copies of the old-ass 4 way split CD that was the last official release from my first band, The Death Sound.

Minor addendum:

I used to consider myself anti-fascist until I realized that capital A Anti-fa were, by and large, a bunch of jack-booted thugs. Plus, I found myself with a lot of friends and fans who were Crypto-fascists. I’m not comfortable enough with the imagery myself, even though for many its purpose is iconoclastic, so was never Crypto-fa and have kept my own projects away from it, but most of the ones I’ve known seemed like really nice people. Given the choice between letting two* of my punk friends stay at my house or half a dozen Crypto-fascists I’d just met, I’d probably opt for the latter and be in significantly less fear for my property.

*Punks are really only dangerous in pairs; it’s only then that they feel they have to prove who’s more punk.

“Prepare to Face my Final Form! RAY OF FROST!”

Fighting the big evil lich midboss in Chapter 2 of Neverwinter Nights got me thinking about some of the differences in magic/super/whatever-powered heroes and villain in eastern and western media.

In many eastern fiction and game properties, a villainous big bad is going to start with his cheap tricks and low energy attacks to deal with whatever threat is facing him. I’m reminded of one of the minor good-guys from Fist of the North Star’s shocked exclamation after facing Raoh for the first time: “He’s killed me with a single punch!” It’s only when those initial one-hit kills don’t do the job that the bad-guy will bring out the heavier guns. Whether it’s calling forth the powers of darkness, going bankai, releasing control art restrictions, or undergoing some other lengthy transformation, these guys incrementally step their game up to whatever level it needs to be to meet the immediate threat.

In D&D derived games, however, most fights are going to start with the biggest guns blazing first – you typically can’t afford the slow build-up of testing this or that weakness and saying “ho-ho, you’ve resisted my cantrips? Well, see how you like this incrementally more powerful attack!” Once the buffs have gone up, you typically start at the top of the spell list, knowing the other guy is gonna do the same, in hopes that you kill him with your big damage effects, working your from your high-level instant kills, to your beefed up AOEs, to spamming mid-level direct damage. If someone is able to survive that? Well, there’s always Magic Missile, but what next?

The fight with Brother Toras, even at level 15, was incredibly tough, but, unlike what one might expect from a boss fight in a JRPG, it got progressively easier as it went along. I didn’t have to beat him quickly, I just had to outlast him. It took a few teleports out, and I lost my henchman a couple of times, but I beat him without having to respawn. Though he did waste a bit of time on debuffs, Tomas went all out from the very start with some really nasty stuff, a lot of it big-damage and AOE (and I’ll admit, I did have to reload a few times once I figured out it was Evards Black Tentacles that kept one-hit killing me), but after the initial big explosions and masses of writhing tentacles coming up from the floor of the tombs, he just started spamming fireballs. When these hit, they hit freaking hard, but I spent a lot of time running in circles around the tomb and with my stupid high dex bonus, was able to soak most of the hit. Then something funny happened: the lich started using things like Flame and Acid Arrow, most of which just sort of bounced off me. His last true hurrahs were a couple of magic missiles which, as a level 19 wizard, did come dangerously close to putting me in real peril.

By the time Tomas was down to casting Negative Energy Ray and Ray of Frost, I was actually feeling kind of bad for him. At that point, I was able to more or less stand my ground, shooting him with acid arrows, slowly burning my way through his hundreds of points of damage reduction. Eventually he was reduced to trying to poke me with a stick to very little effect (29 Dex, yo).

This is something I’ve seen happen in tabletop to a degree, as well. It was probably worst in Exalted, in which everyone is constantly operating at 11 and it’s a contest to see who runs out of need stuff first (hint: it’s always the person who’s not a Solar). In my own most recent game, the boss-fight involving a magic user was beyond a disappointment, since his one spell got interrupted and he was promptly hacked to pieces. The boss fights that were tough and the players seemed to enjoy the most were ones in the royal tombs and the Rug-Bear(Polymar)-the wight had potential long-term negative effects (level drain), the Banshee was a puzzle that did damage, and the Rug-Bear was a huge damage-dealing machine firing on all cylinders until the very end.

Probably my best-paced boss-fight involving a magic user was awhile back with the 4th level elf; then again, he didn’t use any attack spells – he just mage-armored then mirror imaged before proceding to go to work with his long-sword.

I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to run a game again, but with the players expressing a desire for some mid-to-upper-level play, I might get the opportunity to experiment with some set-piece battles with magic users in an attempt to avert the diminishing battle intensity typical to wizards.