A nice big room with paneled, radiant heated floors, a fireplace, loads of windows, a long wall of bookshelves, and a a videoconferencing rig to play with people around the world. The table could either be a billiards table with a cover to allow tabletop play, or a big Surface screen that people could have their characters, notes, and dice apps running on. Nice comfy chairs.

If you’re gonna dream, dream big.

The Italian Alps or the Amalfi Coast. Preferably on a nice balcony, with a good view, good weather, and a nice couple of bottles of wine.

“How ’bout the South Seas Club, while you’re dreaming..?” — Cliff Secord, The Rocketeer

My new take on the Gillmen for Hollow Earth Expedition moves them much more closely to the nereid/mermen/mermaid myths. One talent I decided to add was Siren Call, to more closely approximate the supposed seductive nature of the creatures.

Siren Call

Prerequisite: Charisma 3 or Performance 4

Your character has a preternaturally beautiful voice that can charm and enchant most creatures.

Benefit: Your character may attempt to attack a target using Performance (or Charisma, if untrained.) If you roll more than the Willpower of the target, that person or creature is entranced by your voice for the number of minutes equal to your successes. To continue to hold them in your sway, must must make another test. This cannot be used during combat, like Captivate, but the effect lasts much longer. While the character can manipulate, touch, or move their victim, they cannot injure or frighten them. This immediately breaks the spell.

Normal: Your character can sing with such beauty as to captivate a target for a short time. Advanced: This Talent can be bought up to three times, gaining a +2 to Performance for each level purchased. The effects last the level of the Talent in minutes x the successes over the target’s Willpower.

The reading thing doesn’t tend to surprise me, especially as I’ve gotten older. There are a lot of folks that have cruised through life without reading important pieces of literature, so I don’t tend to be surprised when I ask if they’ve read X and they say no.

Movies, on the other hand, are a modern phenomenon that does surprise when someone hasn’t seen a classic blockbuster. Star WarsBlade Runner? Any iteration of Star Trek? These are so ubiquitous and culturally ingrained that it’s surprising when someone references one of these (or others) but hasn’t seen it. “Game over, man! Game over!” “I love Aliens!” “Never seen it.”

There are classic bits of cinema that I think everyone should have seen, but I rarely expect them to have.


Another strange question with some good answers…

I’m going to go with a three-way tie —

  1. Gaming in the back seat of a car while on a road trip. We just avoided anything that required a die roll.
  2. Gaming in a C-5 on route to a deployment. What else were we gonna do..?
  3. Playing out a scene between two characters that had serious romantic connotations while walking through downtown Philadelphia. The character’s interaction was mirroring that between myself and the female player, so it was ‘meta-flirting”, I suppose.

This is an odd question. What hobbies dovetail into gaming? support gaming? what..?

There are some obvious ones that can dovetail into gaming, especially for the LARPing crowd, where costuming and the like can really enhance your experience. For the tabletop gamer, painting (say, miniatures) and drawing (cartography, characters, etc…) can aid with gaming. Being a cinephile has helped me with adventure creation and running games. But how about things that are less directly tied in?

There’s fencing, or armor making, costuming, all the attendant stuff you see with the Society for Creative Anachronism. SCA folks can really enjoy a good D&D game and bring their knowledge of all things medieval to the table. I like to test drive fancy cars, ride motorcycles, and shoot guns…that all dovetails well into espionage games. I also love to research; I’m a compulsive researcher…that helps with historical games where I want to build verisimilitude.

Nearly any hobby can go well with gaming, I suppose.

Smash open with the characters — Dr. Gould, Hunter, and Olga — facing a tyrannosaurus rex just as they were hoping for a rescue from the flying saucer Aruna. With it’s guns damaged from the crash a few sessions ago, the saucer still aids them by presenting a shiny distraction for the beast, giving them time to find cover. From there, Hunter lives up to his name, using the .452 Wesley-Richards they’d nabbed after Gus Hassenfeldt was lost in the last session.

Finally picked up by the saucer, they fly back to the damaged flying wing the curmudgeonly “Uncle” Zek and his young daughter Erha used to help everyone escape the pirate attack on the Sanctuary. They land and proceed to try and find the body of Lady Zara, who had been thrown from Ivora the Magnificent’s airship Sela…but it’s nowhere to be found: no drag marks, no blood, nothing. While reconnoitering Hunter nearly gets eaten by a massive Venus mantrap, but cuts his way out with his sword. Lord Amon posits that she was taken by a pterosaur, but they just can’t be sure. (This is my back door for having the character return, if and when her player can/does come back.)

They manage to fix the cannons on Aruna and after some debate, head for Amon’s home city, Ultima Thule! Four hours of flying over ocean get them to the city on a large island. The city is Atlantis-like, with radial and circular canals, high walls and buildings, and it is surrounded by massive farms with animals that are more modern and recognizable. Landing at the royal palace, they can see a massive war saucer with the Hindu-style swastika — it’s Durga, the war saucer of General Inanna, Emperor Mot’s most trusted tactician! Amon and Shria are worried, and they have cause to be: his men arrest them immediately, and they are taken to face Captain Thoth — the head of the emperor’s secret police (all attired in basic black with gold swastikas.)

Thoth is here because the emperor knew about his mission to collect Gould, the Atlantean, and that he encountered some “issues.” He informs Shria she is to be returned to her father for “discipline” for her art in his efforts to subvert the emperor with the aid of this man (whom he thought would be taller…) He also discovers that Olga is something special — not Atlantean, but something much, much more valuable. He takes from Zek his “mind machine” — the remains of an Atlantean robot, which has been acting as interpreter and technology expert. (One of the reasons Zek is so good with machines…)

Gould, Olga, Shria, and Hunter (whom Gould rescued from a dungeon stay like the rest) are cleaned, dressed in appropriately Greco-Flash Gordon clothing, then given medical attention. For the first time in four days, they get a good meal and don’t smell like animals! Thoth questions them about the surface world, their adventures, all seeming like polite table conversation, but he is gathering intelligence.

Afterward, once they’ve had sleep and a storm has passed, they are preparing to go aboard Durga when a report that Amon and the others have escape is delivered. Assuming that they will use the secret tunnels, Thoth is about to dispatch troops when they hear the flying wing roar to life. Moments later, the plane strafes the guards and the audience room, and the characters take the chance to beat feet.

Chased by dozens of guardsmen, they manage to get to one of the Thule saucers, and take off, strafing the others and destroying them. Only the massive Durga remains, but they quickly effect their escape, catching up to the flying wing and having them follow to an island far out to sea, Avarda — Shria’s secret pleasure island.

Here they find a tropical paradise with jutting mountains, white sandy beaches, and a massive treehouse complex in the jungles. Shria’s attendants include nymph-like “greenmen” who assure them that they will know if Thoth and his forces approach. Rested, healed, and fed, the group has to make a tough choice — head for Argatha and abandon the Inner World, or take up arms against the emperor…but where to start?

As we’ve played in the Hollow Earth, I’ve more and more moved away from the Land of the Lost quality toward a Flash Gordon-esque one. We needed a good bad guy, so “the emperor.” Is it Ming the Merciless? Due to international copyright laws, no. But it sounds like Max von Sydow’s Ming! But its not… This gives the characters a purpose beyond adventuring from one sandbox to the next, and provides a force of bad guys whenever needed. The Hollow Earth’s Nazis, if you will.

A few things we know — the Inner World, based off the curvature, is far too small to be just under the surface of the Earth. In fact, the circumference would only be about half that Earth… The creatures they’ve seen include things of myth, ancient dinosaurs, modern animals and people, and access to and from the surface was, at one time, more easy. One person has described the Inner World as “a prison”, a place created by ancient gods to protect people from the things here. Could the Atlanteans have been their servants? And what is the relationship to the Vril, who are Atlantean, but cannot work some of their technology as Gould can? Olga, they seem to think, is related to something even older than the Atlanteans, and dangerous; she has an effect of orichalcum (finally worked it in),  an element that is part of the crystals that power so much of the Atlantean technology.


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