Reflections on Karameikos

So, GAZ1: The Grand Duchy of Karameikos, published in 1987 by TSR. What a book. What a gloriously imperfect, yet exciting book. As someone whose gaming supplement standards are informed by the likes of Yoon-Suin and Kevin Crawford’s Sine Nomine products, it’s difficult to not be a little frustrated by GAZ1. Information is generally provided in a text-dump expository way; there are very few tables to generate new content; it lacks many of the innovations and conveniences that modern OSR publishing has pioneered. The text is somewhat unpleasingly presented in many places, and conveyance suffers from the usual lack of clean formatting and highlighting of important bits. But faulting the book for this would be like faulting for 1939 Chevrolet for not having air conditioning. What’s there is there, and what’s there is pretty great. And I find myself thinking and daydreaming much, much more about Karameikos than I ever anticipated.

A lot of the interesting bits of the book stem from how author Aaron Allston’s vision of Karameikos is delightfully messy. What does it mean to be from Karameikos? It depends on whether you’re a Traladaran, or a Thyatian settler. It depends on whether you approve of Grand Duke Stefan or not – and whether you consider him the prophesied reincarnation of King Halav. If you’re a thief, which of the three guilds do you belong to? If you’re a magic-user, do you roll your eyes at local superstitions or do you abide by them? If you’re a cleric, which church do you belong to, and do you subscribe to any secret doctrine?

Interior art from GAZ1: Grand Duchy of Karameikos, © Wizards of the Coast.

Playing in Karameikos immediately invites you to interrogate your character concept on the setting’s premises without too much long-wrought exposition or setting lore mastery. GAZ1 hits the sweet spot here, and adds one pinch of spice to perfect the dish: no one has perfect information about everything from the beginning.

Karameikos is deceptively complicated to just the right amount that it becomes a story machine as soon as you insert some player characters. It conceives of the Grand Duchy as anything but monolithic. Because Allston does not structure the region around modern conceptions of nationality and nation-statehood, Karameikos appears much more authentically medieval than many other takes on adventure-friendly feudal polities. Like Capetian France and Norman England, Karameikos is animated by the interactions and tensions between constituent groups and factions, and more than any dungeon (a subject the book is surprising sparse about), sociopolitical messiness provides the stimulus for adventure in the Grand Duchy.

A normal day in Karameikos. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In fact, delving and dungeoneering seems almost like an afterthought in Karameikos. The provided list of adventure seeds almost all deal with some kind of social or political theme. I can’t help but think that Karameikos in many ways would make a better Burning Wheel setting than it would a D&D setting. Or a reskinned game of Pendragon, where the players take on the role of knights in the service of Stefan III. The setting just seems to lend itself very well to characters who have stakes in the social situation.

I’d happily participate in a D&D/OSR game as well though – in fact, grabbing Kevin Crawford’s An Echo Resounding and an assortment of sandbox toolkits, populate the wilderness, and roll up some new-freshed adventurers sounds like a hell of a time too…

Damn. I kind of want to run a Karameikos game now.

Any older publications that unexpectedly inspired you recently?

OSR Class Shaker v2

Two important events have happened since the original post: Knock! issue 2 was published, and the first non-kickstarter-exclusive issue of Necrotic Gnome’s Carcass Crawl magazine was released. Both are treasure troves of old school goodness, and both offer some quite fun new classes. Thus, time to update the table. Sundry classes from various other sources also added.

The class shaker “rules” are simple: Roll five times for which classes are available at the beginning, and two times for classes that can be unlocked for PC’s through adventure. Build a capsule setting from that.

Class: Mysterious Badass. Art and copyright by Conner Fawcett.

Big Nasty Table of Classes

Die Roll (1d8 and 1d6)ClassSource
1 / 1FighterOSE Classic Fantasy
1 / 2ClericOSE Classic Fantasy
1 / 3Magic-UserOSE Classic Fantasy
1 / 4ThiefOSE Classic Fantasy
1 / 5ElfOSE Classic Fantasy
1 / 6HalflingOSE Classic Fantasy
2 / 1DwarfOSE Classic Fantasy
2 / 2AcrobatOSE Advanced Fantasy
2 / 3AssassinOSE Advanced Fantasy
2 / 4BarbarianOSE Advanced Fantasy
2 / 5BardOSE Advanced Fantasy
2 / 6DrowOSE Advanced Fantasy
3 / 1DruidOSE Advanced Fantasy
3 / 2GnomeOSE Advanced Fantasy
3 / 3Half-OrcOSE Advanced Fantasy
3 / 4IllusionistOSE Advanced Fantasy
3 / 5KnightOSE Advanced Fantasy
3 / 6 PaladinOSE Advanced Fantasy
4 / 1RangerOSE Advanced Fantasy
4 / 2 Living HarnessKnock! #1
4 / 3Ne’er-do-wellKnock! #1
4 / 4Swarm LordKnock! #1
4 / 5AstromancerThe Crimson Pandect
4 / 6TheurgeThe Crimson Pandect
5 / 1Shakunasar/AzuThe Crimson Pandect
5 / 2DemonologistBrave the Labyrinth #4
5 / 3Beast MasterCarcass Crawler Inaugural Issue
5 / 4Chaos KnightCarcass Crawler Inaugural Issue
5 / 5MageCarcass Crawler Inaugural Issue
5 / 6MutoidCarcass Crawler Inaugural Issue
6 / 1MycelianCarcass Crawler Inaugural Issue
6 / 2WardenCarcass Crawler Inaugural Issue
6 / 3Cave DwarfSlumbering Ursine Dunes
6 / 4War-BearSlumbering Ursine Dunes
6 / 5Crab-ManYoon-Suin
6 / 6VowedRed Tide Campaign Sourcebook
7 / 1Errant FriarKnock! #2
7 / 2Bad BrownieKnock! #2
7 / 3GreyKnock! #2
7 / 4PlatypersonKnock! #2
7 / 5BeggarKnock! #2
7 / 6Prophet of RuinKnock! #2
8 / 1AcolyteCarcass Crawler #1
8 / 2GargantuaCarcass Crawler #1
8 / 3GoblinCarcass Crawler #1
8 / 4KineticistCarcass Crawler #1
8 / 5Monster HonchoScourge of the Scorn Lords
8 / 6MentalistScourge of the Scorn Lords

Results and Riffs

Roll 1

Core Classes: Barbarian, Half-Orc, Knight, Acrobat, Kineticist

Unlockable Classes: Illusionist, Druid

Not a single traditional spell-caster in the core classes! The kineticist is the OSE take on psions, so that does count for something. Strong Dark Sun vibes to this; I imagine a wasteland studded with proud city-states where knightly aristocracies reside, contemptuous of the tribes of the nomad tribes around them, with mercantile caravans / traveling circuses connecting these settlements. Unlocking druids probably involve purifying some defiled wilderness holy places, and illusionists require access to forbidden books kept under lock and key by the knights.

Roll 2

Core Classes: Ne’er-Do-Well, Halfling, Prophet of Ruin, Illusionist, Cleric

Unlockable Classes: Magic-User, Astromancer

I see a great and ruinous city, with a vast underbelly, half dungeon and half slums. Here, the prophets of ruin spread their word to a population with no faith in its future. Halfling households may be the greatest stand against despair in this part of the world. And deep inside the dungeons, below the earth, the brave can uncover the long-lost secrets of the true magic-users and the astromancers – if they dare.

OSR Class Shaker

Beside the classic seven B/X classes, the creativity and enterprise of the OSR community has spawned a veritable ocean of classes, and with good reason: classes are fun, they can evocative and flavorful, and they are discreet pieces of rules strongly tied to a concept in the fiction of the world. Plus, classes are one of the most powerful player-facing tools of traditional-style D&D-esque play.

In his OSE supplements, Gavin Norman addresses the issue of having too many classes to choose from, and he suggests limiting the initial choice of PC classes to a handful. I’m a firmly believer in restricting the initial setup for any game, even just a little, and build from there. A limited palette forces interesting choices. There have been many excellent posts on reddit and other forums doing thought experiments along this line: if these classes are the “core classes” of this campaign, what does it suggest about the world and about what kinds of adventures will happen? Furthermore, some OSR material has played around with the idea of ‘unlocking’ classes through adventure, with certain choices only becoming open to the players after completing tasks relating to it.

This is great stuff for kickstarting some creative juices.

The idea is simple: Roll six times on the table for initially available class, roll two times for ‘unlockable’ classes, riff on the results, dream up a world or setting based on that. I wrote some examples here, but I hope this can inspirational for you all out there – if so, share your results and ideas! I oriented this primarily around OSE and its adjacent materials, but it obviously does not reflect what is available or palatable to everyone. Season and change to taste, as with everything.

When every player except one rolls up a fighter. Art by Stepan Alekseev.

Big Nasty Table of Classes

Die Roll (1d6 and 1d6)ClassSource
1 / 1FighterOSE Classic Fantasy
1 / 2ClericOSE Classic Fantasy
1 / 3Magic-UserOSE Classic Fantasy
1 / 4ThiefOSE Classic Fantasy
1 / 5ElfOSE Classic Fantasy
1 / 6HalflingOSE Classic Fantasy
2 / 1DwarfOSE Classic Fantasy
2 / 2AcrobatOSE Advanced Fantasy
2 / 3AssassinOSE Advanced Fantasy
2 / 4BarbarianOSE Advanced Fantasy
2 / 5BardOSE Advanced Fantasy
2 / 6DrowOSE Advanced Fantasy
3 / 1DruidOSE Advanced Fantasy
3 / 2GnomeOSE Advanced Fantasy
3 / 3Half-OrcOSE Advanced Fantasy
3 / 4IllusionistOSE Advanced Fantasy
3 / 5KnightOSE Advanced Fantasy
3 / 6 PaladinOSE Advanced Fantasy
4 / 1RangerOSE Advanced Fantasy
4 / 2 Living HarnessKnock! #1
4 / 3Ne’er-do-wellKnock! #1
4 / 4Swarm LordKnock! #1
4 / 5AstromancerThe Crimson Pandect
4 / 6TheurgeThe Crimson Pandect
5 / 1Shakunasar/AzuThe Crimson Pandect
5 / 2DemonologistBrave the Labyrinth #4
5 / 3Beast MasterCarcass Crawler Inaugural Issue
5 / 4Chaos KnightCarcass Crawler Inaugural Issue
5 / 5MageCarcass Crawler Inaugural Issue
5 / 6MutoidCarcass Crawler Inaugural Issue
6 / 1MycelianCarcass Crawler Inaugural Issue
6 / 2WardenCarcass Crawler Inaugural Issue
6 / 3Cave DwarfSlumbering Ursine Dunes
6 / 4War-BearSlumbering Ursine Dunes
6 / 5Crab-ManYoon-Suin
6 / 6VowedRed Tide Campaign Sourcebook

Results and Riffs

Roll 1

Core Classes: Elf, Warden, Swarm Lord, Half-Orc, Thief, Magic-User. Unlockables: Cave Dwarf, Cleric.

Riff: Quite a few nature-esque classes here; the warden from Carcass Crawler is essentially a spell-less ranger variant, and the swarm lord commands, well, a swarm of stuff. I imagine vast, forested wilderness, where trade caravans travel between the fortified Holy Cities that dot the landscape. Thieves are city outcasts, magic-users are the last inheritors of a magic tradition that was once great. The cave dwarves live in the canyons and dungeons, and if a tribe is befriended, they can be used as PCs; clerics are unavailable until the arbitrary demands of a Holy City’s government are sufficiently met. All this suggests that divine influence is limited – perhaps the few gods left are jealous keepers of ‘civilization’?

Roll 2

Core Classes: Astromancer, Mycelian, Mutoid, Halfling, Illusionist, Fighter. Unlockables: Dwarf, Knight.

Riff: The power of the Chaos Stars has disrupted of magic to this desolate world, where communities of humans and halflings rub shoulders with mushroom-men and chaos-mutated bands of wanders! Below the earth, the Dwarves jealously keep their safe caverns, but may be persuaded to accept upworlders that help them in their wars with the monsters below. Roaming orders of knights insist on upholding a bushido-esque code even in this desolation.

Roll 3

Core Classes: Assassin, Druid, Beast Master, Chaos Knight, Mage. Unlockables: Acrobat, Living Harness.

Riff: Note: the mage class is a variant magic-users modeled more on subtle Gandalf-esque magic through a skill system.

This screams ‘dark fantasy’. Strong ‘nature does not care about you’ vibes with the amount of nature-based classes; this could very well be a game about anti-heroes navigating dangerous wildernesses while dealing with the corruption and decadence of a decaying kingdom that has openly accepted the worship of some dark power. Acrobats can be recruited after making friends with the Royal Circus, and Living Harnesses can be recovered and recruited by delving into ruins from before the corruption of the kingdom.

House War in Thrasos Campaign Seed, Part 1

Being a semi-coherent collection of ideas springing from the thought: What if the players right from the start got to be participants and decision-makers of Game of Thrones political-military faction/domain mess, while also leaving for OSR-style adventuring? Default rule system used is the excellent Worlds Without Number by Kevin Crawford; base ruleset is available for free here. The basic idea is a feudalistic quasi-Byzantine realm torn apart by strife between the noble houses. The players are scions of one such house, and set up their family through a series of prompts, choices, and questions. Tables are presented so they can be rolled on, or results picked as desired. This has not been playtested or put into practice; consider this post a thought experiment that went too far.

Become king by your own hand! Or become friends with someone who does, it’s all cool.

What’s The Situation?

The heartlands of the Empire of Thrasos are in turmoil. The last emperor of the Panaphratzes dynasty, Baiannes VI, is dead, killed at the hands of his own Imperial Grandees. For decades, the Panahphratzes have been growing lax in their duty to organize resistance against the seeping influence of the Ur-Abyss and its demonic progeny. Now, with no heir to the throne, it seems the Empire has finally lost its mandate as rulers. The imperial noble houses look elsewhere while the threat of the Ur-Abyss grows ever more acute. Independence is, for the first time in memory, a valid option – if your House can scramble to the top in the chaos of strife, that is.

Your House

Start at Cunning 1, Force 1, Wealth 1, Magic Low. Starting attributes can never exceed 3; re-roll if a result would increase an attribute to that.

Your House is based in… (1d6)

  1. The Cradle of Kings, where three rivers meet and the crops are plentiful. (+1 Wealth)
  2. The Gold-Bone Coast, where ships from beyond bring their wares. (+1 Wealth)
  3. The Highlands of Caiamedes, where the sheep grow crimson wool and wyverns roam the night. (+1 Force)
  4. The Perimeter Fiefs, where demonic beasts stalk the stony moors and rocky hills. (+1 Force)
  5. Old Saurametes, where philosophers and haruspices debate among the ruins of a fallen people. (+1 Cunning).
  6. A (Former) Imperial Throne City; roll 1d4 to determine where. (+1 Cunning)

Your House ancestors were… (1d6)

  1. Impeccably Thrasoan, with impressive genealogical records to show for it.
  2. Mercenaries from the Hypo-Steppe, giving nobility for their service in the demon wars.
  3. Originally petty lords of the kingdom of Drevnic, adopting Thrasoan customs after their lands were annexed by the Empire.
  4. Caiamedeans, the people the Empire could never break and thus allowed self-governing territories.
  5. Philosopher-kings of Old Saurametes, folded into Imperial nobility.
  6. Refugee merchants of a faraway land, who came to Thrasos as exiles and eventually earned noble titles.

Your House motto is… (1d8)

  1. “By Bow and By Sword.” (+1 Force)
  2. “Uncowered, Undeceived, Unbeatable.” (+1 Force)
  3. “Patience Unending.” (+1 Cunning)
  4. “Let Others Perish.” (+1 Cunning)
  5. “Sow, Reap, Grow.” (+1 Wealth)
  6. “Our Coin Is Justice.” (+1 Wealth)
  7. “Suffer No Evil.” (Magic to None; Gain Informers Asset)
  8. “With Boundless Knowledge.” (Magic to Medium)

Your House follows the religious precepts of… (1d4)

  1. The Court of Wisdom, whose many saints provide insight and guidance.
  2. The Cult of the Goddess-In-Iron, who teaches strength and courage.
  3. The Neo-Dualist Mysteries, which reveal the constant struggle between Eternity and the Abyss.
  4. Thrasoan Aniconism, which cautions that idolatry is a tool of the Ur-Abyss.

Your House Seat is… (1d4)

  1. A villa complex in the countryside. (Gain Base of Influence and Farmers Asset)
  2. A fortified tower on a hill. (Gain Base of Influence and Infantry Asset that counts as Force 1, but cannot move)
  3. A bustling trade town. (Gain Base of Influence and Monopoly Asset that counts as Wealth 2, but cannot move)
  4. A temple-fortress once belonging to a heretical warrior-cult. (Gain Base of Influence and +1 Force)
14th Century French miniature of the crusader conquest of Constantinople in 1204.

Your House is recognized for… (1d10)

  1. Its record-keeping informant-chroniclers (+1 Cunning; Gain Blackmail Asset).
  2. Its mystical induction rites (+1 Cunning; Gain Petty Seers Asset).
  3. Its tradition of chivalry (+1 Force; Gain Fearful Intimidation Asset).
  4. Its deep ties to the common folk (+1 Force; Gain Guerilla Populace Asset).
  5. Its trade connections with the Mercantile Guilds (+1 Wealth; Gain Caravan Asset).
  6. Its patronage of Saurametean philosophers (+1 Wealth; Gain Dragonsman Asset).
  7. Its well-funded irregular militia (Gain Armed Guards and Thugs Assets).
  8. Its terraced gardens and excellent lotus crops (Gain Farmers and Smugglers Assets).
  9. Its finely-honed sense of business (Gain Useful Idiots and Front Merchant Assets).
  10. Its regiment of House Grandees (Gain Cavalry Asset that counts as Force 2, not 4).

A pivotal part in your House’s history is… (1d10)

  1. Its acceptance of renegade demon-blooded who rejected the Ur-Abyss. (Characters of your House can take the Xenoblooded Focus to simulate their Abyssal heritage)
  2. The Inheritance of Maximines Raxos, a wealthy magnate, whose treasury was bequeathed to your House. (Start with 2 additional Treasury)
  3. House head’s tenure as State Magister helped establish dynastic influence. (Gain a Base of Influence in a settlement in the Cradle of Kings.)
  4. Family tradition of educating heirs at an Academy in Old Saurametes. (Gain a Base of Influence in a settlement in Old Saurametes.)
  5. Its securing of an arcane stockpile during the Third Abyssal Incursion. (Gain two occult exemplars worth 40,000 sp each)
  6. The Imperial gift-giving after your House remained loyal during the Half-Brother’s Rebellion. (Roll a random Major magical weapon that gifted to your House as an heirloom; name it).
  7. Shameful secret dealings with Abyssal cultists, where dark arcane was gained for gold and silver. (The first Asset that has Low or higher Magic requirement that your House purchases costs half.)
  8. Its custom of organizing delves into pre-Imperial ruins. (Gain two randomly determined magic items.)
  9. Its eager patronage of art and music. (+1 Wealth; the first Court Patronage Asset your House purchases is at half price.)
  10. Its association with the illicit lotus trade. (Gain the Smugglers Asset.)
12th Century miniature of Byzantines defeated by the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon I.

One faction of the collapsing Empire is your hereditary foe, another has always supported you… (1d6 twice; re-roll duplicate results).

  1. House Paulonos, the foremost family in the Cradle of Kings. Always have they craved the Imperial throne and the trappings of Empire. Will you help them reunite the Empire, or oppose their brazen power-grab?
  2. House Areistes, a cadet branch of the Panaphratzes based in the Perimeter Fiefs. Fierce Aniconists, they are the sworn foe of all demons and Abyssal monsters. Will you help them in their quest to contain the Ur-Abyss, or let them bleed dry before you pick them off?
  3. House Zenob, the gilded masters of the coastal town of Rymnos. With the Imperial navy destroyed in the turmoil, their mighty navy now counts as the finest in Thrasos. Will you assist them in their defense of trade and prosperity, or will you resist these falsehood-spewing coinclippers?
  4. House Kryne, greatest of the slayer-clans of Caiamedes. Proud warriors that will suffer no insult, nor compromise their autonomy in the face of turmoil. Will you join forces in their defense of their ancestral lands, or will you make sure these stubborn provincials are finally folded into a proper kingdom?
  5. House Mendicar, inheritors of Old Saurametes. Before the Empire, there was the city-states and kingdoms of Saurametes, and House Mendicars are the most powerful curators of this ancient legacy. Will you help them restore their land so that philosophy and reason may rule again, or will you crush their nostalgic dreams and force them to face the future?
  6. House Runaides, border princes of Drevnici descent. A stern family that has always kept a low profile, the Runaides now see their chance to break free and carve out their own polity, vassals of neither Drevnic nor Thrasos. Will you join their fight for independence and recognition, or will you break the will of these dissident half-barbarians?

The upheaval caused your House to suffer misfortunes… (1d6)

  1. Divided loyalties among commanders and knights resulted in a deadly scuffle. (Highest Force value unit starts at half HP; if multiple units are tied for value, both start at half HP.)
  2. The unrest has caused several ledgers and records to be destroyed and lost, significantly affecting economic efficiency. (First two Faction turns, gain only half Treasure.)
  3. Your rivals have taken advantage the turmoil and struck first against your connections and estates. (All Wealth Assets start at half HP.)
  4. Several informants have been executed or have defected, leaving a significant intelligence gap. (Your House cannot buy Cunning Assets for 1d4 Faction turns).
  5. The muster roll has been gravely affected by the turmoil. (Your House cannot buy new Force Assets for 1d4 Faction turns.)
  6. A spot of Ur-Abyssal influence has been left unchecked; a particularly large and vile monster has entered your lands, threatening your Assets. (Must be dealt with! It’s a demon mini-kaiju!)

That’s all for now. More to come to cover thoughts on character generation, adventures, and projects.

The Lesson of Gonzo

The semantics of sub-genres are iffy. To some, gonzo implies a wild-style, ‘everything goes!’, kitchen sink madness full of cybernetic lizardmen breakdancing while naked wizards throw exploding jelly beans at city-sized butt-demons. Some gonzo really does embrace that chaos, often with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. It’s not my cup of tea; it’s too disjointed, it’s too fourth-wall-breaking, and it’s too inconsistent about its own internal logic. I find that when gonzo incorporates everything it gets no flavor from anything, because there’s always something wackier, something more absurd, right around the corner. Gonzo-fatigue sets in when every element of the world seems to be there just to out-awesome and out-weird the other elements.

That’s not to say there aren’t useful lessons to learn from gonzo. Quite the contrary. I think gonzo ideas and aesthetics tell us something fundamental about creativity. If we peel away the layers of airbrushed-on-the-side-of-a-van aesthetics of the most outrageous gonzo material, the concept of gonzo in essence revolves around taking two (or more) things we don’t immediately imagine as compatible, and then smashing them together.

In On Writing, Stephen King discusses one of his ‘cheat codes’ for getting a story idea: simply taking two seemingly unrelated concepts and bashing them together. Apparently, he conceived of Carrie after reading a newspaper article about high school girl cliques after having seen a TV program on psychic powers. Bam! That’s gonzo as hell, and the result is glorious.

I used to hate the proto-gonzo of Expedition for Barrier Peaks for ‘bringing spaceships into my fantasy!’ Today, I implore everyone to crash a spaceship or two in their campaign setting!

The less cognitive fatigue the initial premise demands, the easier buy-in is, and the easier it will be to expand the weirdness down the line rather than front-loading it. Gonzo should in imagination vitamins, and it should be punchy. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (which, honestly, should be regulated as a form of psychedelic drug) is brimming with strangeness, but its initial premise is understandable, if odd. Tolkien used the relatively palatable idea of pastoral communities of kind hobbits to lead us into a story of walking trees, fire-demons and resurrecting wizards. Gonzo. As. Hell. Kevin Crawford’s Godbound rulebook has an example setting absolutely bursting with gonzo ideas, from mecha-tsars to monster-eating bounty hunters and a hyper-atheistic ‘theocracy’ secretly ruled by vengeful angels. Gonzo. As. ALL. HELL.

Traditional gonzo stumbles when it wears its juxtaposing nature on its sleeves. When constant attention is brought to its thematically disparate elements, the whole does not become more than the sum of its parts. It just becomes clashing parts. With the right tongue-in-cheek attitude, this can be fun in and of itself (and fun is nothing to scoff at), at the cost of a coherent universe.

The lesson, I think, is that we don’t need to overdesign or overemphasize a setting’s contrasting elements to reap the benefits of gonzo. Cool ideas emerge from the combination of constituent parts. Traditional gonzo flagrantly and flamboyantly teaches us to throw things in the creative blender and press the button. We might not like all the results, and that’s fine. It’s a part of the creative process. I, for one, tip my hat to the wizards on spaceships, the cyber-dinosaurs and the three-headed mutant halflings with uzis. Your weirdness is part of what keeps our weird hobby from creative atrophy.