Episode 332 – Alien Gifts #2

In this episode of my solo played Cypher System superhero RPG, Vincent learns something about his mentor and faces a new danger.

The music for this episode is The Darkside by Audiobinger.

This episode is also available on YouTube!

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Episode 331 – Alien Gifts #1

As an experiment, I ran a solo session of the Cypher System RPG tonight and recorded it as an actual play podcast. I had fun doing it, though I feel a little self conscious about it. I’ve never done anything quite like this. I did have a lot of fun playing, recording and editing it and I do hope you enjoy listening to it.

Music for this episode is The Darkside by Audiobinger.

This audio podcast is also available on YouTube!

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Episode 330 – Age of Rebellion Character Creation

It was Saturday evening and my plans to hang out with friends fell through. I had nothing to do. So, I poured myself some tequila, cracked open my brand new rule book of Star Wars Age of Rebellion Roleplaying Game and turned on the mic.

I think I’ll have to re-make the character because I’m pretty sure I did the math wrong in my head when I was spending the character creation XP. However, it was fun. Enjoy!

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Episode 329 – Mistborn Adventure Game Review

A couple months ago, I was contacted about the opportunity to try out and review the Mistborn Adventure Game. I didn’t know anything about it at the time, but I agreed out of curiosity and this is the result.

Spoiler: I really dig it. Give the episode a listen to find out why and what’s so special about it! Then, check out the game over on DriveThruRPG.com.

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The State & Future of The ‘Bone

It has been close to nine months since I stopped making regular podcast content. I don’t regret stopping. I do regret tying so much of my own self-worth and identity into the podcast that I created.

It’s been an interesting road to walk, these past few months. I’ve relaxed. I’ve gamed. I’ve gamed some more. I’ve gamed a lot, and, I’ve gotten super busy with family activities. If I hadn’t retired the podcast when I did, I likely would have retired it a few months afterwards due to how busy I got.

Even though life has kept me busy, I’ve made time for gaming. While walking this nine month road, I tried my hand at setting creation, posting the articles here on the site. I tried writing up actual plays based on my home game. I tried my hand at creating YouTube videos, both with my son and by myself. I designed a system and play-tested it with my home group. I ran a full 11 level Shadow of the Demon Lord game! I indulged in the hobby that I love so much.

Playing, planning and running games is what I love and it’s what drew me into podcasting in the first place. Being able to do it as much as I have has been wonderful. But, I don’t feel complete when that’s all I’m doing. Close to it, I suppose, but not complete.

I enjoy creating content for other gamers and I haven’t found a good outlet for that, for me, yet. I’m still experimenting and searching for what to do next. I love creating stories, so perhaps I’ll try writing an adventure.

Thank you all for the wild ride that was the Shark Bone Podcast! I hope you’ll walk the road to the future with me, with all its twists and turns and road signs that seem to lead all places and nowhere all at once.

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Fate Dice Threats & Advantages

Earlier today, I was listening to the first episode of the Excess Advantage Podcast (which I was a guest on) and I was struck by an idea. It’s probably not a new idea; after all, there are no new ideas left, right? But it’s not one that I’ve come across and I thought I’d give a go at developing the idea into something that I could use at my game table.

In the episode, Christopher was explaining to me how the Threats and Advantages work in the Genesys RPG put out by Fantasy Flight Games. It got me thinking, as it did while we were recording, how much I enjoy systems that have a system or rule to expand the pass/fail roll. There’s Complications in the Smallville (Cortex Plus Dramatic) game, there are Exceptional Successes in the New World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness and Degrees of Success in Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition. Those are all games that I do or have enjoyed and my enjoyment of them is in no small part due to the expansion of the rolls.

While I was listening and thinking, I thought how cool it would be to have a system for Threats and Advantages that wasn’t tied to the dice rolling for success and failure. That’s different to how Genesys does it, since the symbols for Success & Advantage appear on the same dice, just like how the symbols for Failure & Threat are on the same dice. But, since I want to port this into games that use traditional dice that have numbers on the faces, I needed something that works in tandem and doesn’t interfere with how the game’s mechanics work.

I turned the idea over in my head for a few minutes, trying to see how I would implement it when I realized that I was just looking for pluses and minuses. Which are already a thing. Fate dice! Fate dice are perfect for it since the dice only show a plus, minus or blank face. In Fate, the symbols cancel each other out, just like Threats and Advantages in Genesys. I realized this was my answer. This is how I can expand the dice rolls in other games!

Now, this is an idea that I’m noodle-ing, nothing more. I haven’t brought this to my table or play-tested it at all. If you choose to try this out, understand that you’ll likely need to make some tweaks to it to fit your table’s style and the game you’re playing.

Here are my current ideas on implementing this:

  • When rolling the dice in your system of choice, in addition to the dice you normally roll, roll two Fate dice.
  • The Fate dice will give you one of several results: (+,+),(+,0),(0,0),(0,-),(-,-). A (+,-) counts as a (0,0) since they cancel each other out.
  • Each (+) is an Advantage and each (-) is a Threat.
  • Each Advantage can be spent by the player who rolled the dice to:
    • Add a bonus to another PC’s roll. Could be a +2 in d20, a Boon in Shadow of the Demon Lord, +1 die in World of Darkness or Burning Wheel.
    • Add +1 to their Armor Class or Defense score for one round.
    • Gain some narrative perk, negotiated with the GM.
  • Each Disadvantage can be spent by the GM to:
    • Add a penalty to the player’s next roll. Could be -2 in d20, a Bane in Shadow of the Demon Lord, -1 die in World of Darkness or +1 Ob in Burning Wheel.
    • Give an NPC a bonus to their next roll against the PC, just like the bonuses a PC can give to a fellow with an Advantage.
    • Inflict a narrative disadvantage onto the scene.

That’s what I’ve got. I’m going to chat with my home group and see what they think. Maybe I’ll give this a try in our next Shadow of the Demon Lord session, if they’re willing! I hope this adds to your games. If it does (or doesn’t) or if you’ve got thoughts, share them with me! I’d love to discuss them. Join the frenzy!

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Black River – Realm of Spirits

When an individual dies, that is not the end of them. Their spirit moves on to reside in another plane to continue its existence.

When a person dies, their body is prepared for burial through a very precise ritual. During this ritual, the ones preparing the body recite, over and over, a type of prayer. The words of this prayer are spoken in the holy tongue and give the spirit instructions on how to proceed to judgment so they can continue their life in a spirit-deified form.

While the body is being prepared for burial, the spirit of the person finds itself in the Halls of Judgment, lost in the maze of it all. It is only by listening to the litany recited by those preparing their body and repeating it to themselves can they make their way through the maze and find the Room of Scales.

While they wander through the halls, they can return to the world of the living and watch their family and friends and observe the events of the world, but they can only interact with the world in limited ways. Chills, foreboding feelings and minor mischief are all the powers they are granted in the living world before their judgment.

Once in the Room of Scales, the god of death weighs their heart against a feather provided by the goddess of order and right. In their heart is stored the weight of all their deeds performed in life. Evil and selfish deeds weigh more heavily on the heart while righteousness makes their heart as light as the feather. Those whose heart balances with the feather are taken into the divinity of the god of death and are released to continue living their spirit-lives in a reflection of the world of the living. Those who are found wanting are cast down into the cold river of death where they languish in hopelessness.

The divine spirits, the ones whose heart balanced, are granted the power to manifest to their loved ones during times of need. While they still only have limited ability to interact with the living world, they can appear in a spiritual image of themselves to give help and advice. This costs the spirit a great deal of energy and so is done only in times of great need.

Spirits who fail to find their way through the Halls of Judgment to the Room of Scales are lost in limbo. They are never weighed and so never receive divinity or banishment to the river of death. Such lost spirits wander the land of the living or the Halls of Judgment forever, cursing the lives of those who draw their ire, until such time as someone recites the litany over their grave, allowing them to find the Room of Scales, or their spiritual form is destroyed by Faith or by Magic.

The divine spirits who continue their lives in the spiritual reflection of the living world maintain the status their bodies were buried with, living the best life they can with the goods that were left with them. When they do trade with the other divine spirits, they trade the one thing that has any meaning: favors for their living relatives. Divine spirits tend to avoid the lost spirits completely. Their is no war or conflict in the Realm of Spirits. Only peace.

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Five Minute Adventures 02 – The Birds

Hook: Birds drop dead in the city center at dawn for several days in a row, exactly when the sun peeks over the horizon.

What’s Going On: The city’s grain supply has been tainted with scarab eggs by a rogue element trying to start a war between this and a neighboring nation.

Twist: The bird bodies become incubators for scarab larvae that emerge from the birds as fully formed, predatorial beetles.

Reveal: They come across a member of this rogue element trying to taint an emergency supply of grain sent by the capital.

Opposition

  • Beetle swarms.
  • Beetle eggs.
  • Jumped Conclusions.
  • Rogue Element.
  • Corrupt Officials.

What’s Next

  • This rogue element is not done with this one attempt. If they were revealed, they’ll try open instigation of battle. If they were not revealed, they’ll try to inspire anger towards the other nation again.
  • Corrupt officials might still exist in the government. They’ll try and cover up the events and their involvement.

Games That Fit

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Five Minute Adventures 01 – The Gift Giver

Welcome to a new experiment, 5 Minute Adventures! In this quick podcast, I create an adventure for you to plug into your game. All you need to do is plug in the stat blocks. Enjoy!

Hook: A young child has gone missing from the village. The mother suspects that the Wild Father lured the child into the forest.

What’s Going On: The child felt lonely at home and ran away. The child encountered a kindly old man in the forest who swore to help the child get revenge.

Twist: As the PCs search for the child in the forest, they are fought by animated children’s toys, blocking their path.

Reveal: As the PCs are in the village between excursions into the forest, the village is attacked by a large army of toys led by a giant tin soldier. The tin soldiers cries out for its mommy, saying she’ll be sorry for leaving it alone.

Opposition

  • Swarm of horse pull toys.
  • Blowgun wielding corn husk dolls.
  • Pinwheel hornets
  • Spinning tops
  • Toy knights on horses
  • Threadbare dolls wielding huge bone needles
  • The Tin Man

Games That Fit

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Spark of Ra #13 – Wondrous Companion

Scene Setup: I’ve given the documents to Rakunapten and told him what I’ve learned. I’ll then go out and find another priest from the Priesthood of Ra and try and plan a coup to overthrow my uncle so that, when the Priesthood of Ra makes it back into the palace, my uncle cannot join them.

Die of Fate: 6! Random event happens. The GameMaster’s Apprentice card says, “Inflict, Wonderous, Companion.” Wow… what could that be? I think it would be cool to get a divine familiar that Tekrinto doesn’t want for some reason. Let’s play and see why!

Scene Goal: With the random event happening, I don’t think I need a goal.


After returning to the compound where the Priesthood of Ra is and giving the documents and what I learned to my uncle, live quiets down as he reads through everything and determines how he wants to proceed. The priests continue about their business and I’m left to my own devices.

I’ll spend some time practicing my Knives skill. I probably have a few days to do that, I’ll roll a d6 to see how many. 3 days.

After being left on my own and having time to think, I realize how much better life would be without my uncle always present and hanging over me like a stone block. I decide that it’s time to do something about it. I start talking to the other priests, trying to find one that would take up the job of High Priest in his place and help overthrow Rakunapten.

This is going to be a Circles roll. Priests are in the same setting as I am, but they most definitely are of higher station. That makes it an Ob 3. I’ve got Circles of B2 and a 1D affiliation with Ra’s Temple Guards to use. That’ll be a difficult test, but I need a Routine to advance Circles… I’ll try for a Linked Priesthood-wise test to see if I know who would be in line for the position and an enemy of Rakunapten. That’s likely an Ob 2 roll and I’ve got to roll with Beginner’s Luck with Perception B4, double Ob penalty.

The roll is 4, 4, 5, 6. Fantastic! Spending Fate to open end that 6: 5. Great, I get a +1D to my Circles roll! I know that there are several priests in a position to take over as High Priest, all of which work closely enough with Rakunpaten to hate him.

Rolling Circles now with 4 dice v. the Ob 3. The roll is 1, 1, 5, 5. That is not going to cut it. Circles does go up to B3, though! Woo! I think I’ll just take the failure and kick off the random event.

Asking around sends me to a small shrine at the entrance to the city, where a priest who has been an enemy to Rakunapten for many years is consulting with Ra as he travels the highest part of the sky. I walk into the small stone structure and look around for the priest. The shrine appears to be empty. I call out, but no one responds to me as I walk further in. I stop before the small statue of Ra, in his golden chariot. There is no one here. Shaking my head, I turn to go when a glint from the statue catches my eye. I stop and look back at it. Ra’s light glints off the tip of the spear wielded by the statue in the shrine. Enraptured, I stare at the light, mesmerized by it, somehow. I’m confused as I see wings beating in the light glinting off that spear. The wings get closer and then the light flashes brilliantly in my eyes, blinding me.

The light is gone and I blink my eyes, shaking my head, trying to clear them. I hear the beating of wings in the room with me and as my vision returns to normal, I see a hawk sitting on the tip of Ra’s spear, staring at me, its head cocked to one side.

I’m a little shocked by these events, so I shake my head and turn to leave, but half turn back to bow at the hawk. Because of how it appeared, it might be a messenger of Ra and I can’t disrespect it. I give it a little bow, then leave.

As I return to the busy city street, I hear the flapping of wings. I turn and see the hawk, following me. It glides over to a merchants car, lands on the side and regards me again, its head cocked to the side.

I look around nervously, wondering why this avatar of Ra would follow me. I give it a small bow again and say under my breath, “You honor me, Ra. Please, return to your duties.” Turning, I walk away from the hawk, back towards the center of the city. A few seconds pass, and then I hear the beating of wings again, and the dark shadow cast by the hawk flits over me as the bird lands on a canopy to watch me again, its head cocked to the side.

I stop in the middle of the street and stare at it, not knowing what to do. As I watch it, the hawk opens its wings and a glint of light forms on the tip of its beak. The glint quickly grows and flashes. The brilliance of the noon-day sun blinds me and I have to take a few moments to blink it away and refocus my eyes. The hawk is still there, judging me, its head cocked to the side.

I take a step towards it and ask, “Do you represent our god, Ra?” The bird stares at me through one eye, then it’s head bobs down and turns its other eye to me. I pause, then ask, “Did he send you to watch and help me?” The bird stares for another second before its head bobs down again. I nod and sigh. An avatar of Ra, following me? This might make it more difficult to bring down my uncle, if he has Ra’s support.

I shake my head and turn back to the center of the city, waving the bird on. “Come one, then. I have work to do.”

The bird steps off the canopy and opens its wings to glide over, landing heavily onto my shoulder as I walk towards the compound.

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