Purge of Babylon

Ever since I got my Kindle a year or so ago I’ve gotten back into the habit of reading quite a bit, something that I fell out of when the kids were younger, but thanks to Kindle samples finding books that interest me is a lot easier. It’s been awhile since I’ve done any kind of capsule book review but I’m on the cusp of finishing off a series in one of my favorite genres that I thought deserved a mention. I have just started the final book in the The Purge of Babylon Series by Sam Sisavanth which provides a bit of a different take on the zombie themed apocalypse…well, I really wouldn’t call it a zombie apocalypse at all. There are creatures involved, but they are not like zombies…more akin to primitive blood-sucking vampires…ghouls as they call them in the books.

While the first book in the series starts a little slow, it’s an easy enough read and was intriguing enough to keep my going along when things really picked up in the second book…enough so that I really started wondering about the background of the ghouls and want to see what happened to the main characters. So if you start reading, have a bit of patience and stick with it, the journey is worth it.

The mythology being unveiled is definitely interesting and has me wanting to learn more. This almost seems like an offshoot of two books I read years ago with a similar theme…The Descent and Deeper by Jeff Long.

Fate Accelerated Plus…Traits to Professions

FAE+

Back in my original post outlining the basics of Fate Accelerated Plus (FAE+) I went over the six traits for the dual-column Fate hack, since then I have revamped the system to use the concept of Professions as outlined in the Fate System Toolkit in conjunction with Approaches. Per the toolkit:

While skills normally reflect what you do, professions reflect who the character is, and infer capabilities from that. If, for example, the professions are Fighter, Scholar, Woodsman, Thief, Craftsman and Diplomat, then you might roll Fighter in situations where you might roll Fight or Shoot, Thief where you might normally roll Stealth or Burglary, and so on. Profession lists tend to be shorter and more open ended than skill lists, which may mean a very reduced pyramid. It’s possible to use a fixed list of professions, or use them in in a freeform manner, which we’ll get into below.

The base hack of FAE+ is being used for a fantasy setting, but the Professions can easily be changed for use in any genre, the remainder of the system stays the same. Diplomat and Scholar still have some text that needs to be finished, but here are the six Professions for fantasy FAE+.

Warrior

The Warrior attacks and maneuvers; either as a member of a formal military unit or as a lone combatant focusing on personal combat. He is trained in the use of a wide-range of armor, weapons and combative techniques. Fighting style is largely determined by the approach Warrior is combined with…from a straight-forward bashing style (Forceful) to a two-weapon wielding swashbuckling style (Flashy) and all types in between.

  •  At +1 you know how to use and care for weapons more serious than clubs and daggers without embarrassing yourself, how to wear armor heavier than leather, and basic knowledge of martial culture. You don’t have much finesse or technique, but are capable of basic strikes and blocks.
  • At +2 you have genuine skill at arms and are able to put together combos and flourishes. Depending on your inclinations and background you might be schooled in at least basic tactics and strategy, and possibly logistics as well; but even if untutored you can usually spot an ambush, recognize a defensible position, and so forth.
  • At +3 and above Combative may be used to defend against not only the mundane attacks it previously protected against, but also unusual and magical attacks that cause physical harm. This can take many narrative forms, from blocking, deflecting, using armor or shield effectively, or even just being extra tough due to being a hardened warrior.

Overcome: Warrior is used to conduct duels of combative skill, as well as commanding troops in large scale battle.
Create Advantage:  Most advantages created in a battle are created by Warrior. Any number of special moves can be covered with advantages – a targeted strike to stun, tripping your opponent, disarming, etc.: any action that requires technical, combative skill to perform.
Attack: This is where the Warrior shines. You make physical attacks with Warrior at all ranges and with all weapons.
Defend: You can use Warrior to defend against create advantage attempts from Warrior, representing having better technique than your opponent. Warrior can also be used to defend against melee attacks by parrying.

Rogue

The Rogue is a master of the shadows and stealth; he can sneak, deceives, lie and infiltrate. He can sneak past a guard, come up with a good cover story, hide in plain sight and pick a pocket with ease. A Rogue is not limited to being at home in an urban environment, they may just as easily call the wilderness home to their shady ways.

  • At +1 you are good at social interaction within the underworld, have some innate shrewdness or are streetwise and are good at being opportunistic. You are comfortable in urban (or alternately rural) areas and know how to handle yourself competently. You have some practical insider knowledge of the sector of society you are most familiar with and how things really work therein.
  • At +2 you are good at skulking around in urban areas, stealing things, getting in and out of places you shouldn’t be in, dirty tricks ‘dishonorable’ fighting using pragmatic weapons true warriors tend to disapprove of, being shifty and evasive, and likely some knowledge of the less than lawful sector of society.
  • At +3 and above, Rogue can be used to defend against any kind of indirect or surprise attack and to avoid harm by getting out of the way of it. Narratively this can take many forms, such as rolling out of the way, ducking behind cover, ‘seeing it coming’ and somehow interrupting the attack, and so forth.

Overcome: Rogues overcome obstacles by moving over, under or through them, or just by moving or nullifying  the object. Rogues are generally physically fit and often quick of mind – capable of running, jumping, swimming, lifting, climbing and bantering with the best of them.
Create Advantage: When you’re creating advantages as a Rogue, you’re jumping to high ground, performing dazzling acrobatic maneuvers, throwing objects into your path, or outflanking and surprising your opponent.
Attack: Rogue is not meant to attack physically but can be used in social attacks.
Defend: Rogue is a catch-all Profession for avoiding physical harm. A Rogue’s reflexes are honed to avoid environmental dangers and violent attacks with the same level of proficiency. You can also use Rogue to defend against advantages being placed on you by another’s use of Rogue, and to stop characters trying to move past you, if you’re in a position to physically interfere with whoever’s making the attempt.

Priest

The Priest is devout, he thinks and discovers; interpreting the world around him, recalling knowledge, and gathering relevant information are all part and parcel of what it means to be a Priest.

  • At +1 you have some basic theological knowledge and a connection to a deity, or a pantheon of deities, or possibly a philosophy or ideal such as “Law”. You might have other associated abilities (such as Stunts) granted to you by a patron deity or as a byproduct of your observance of the tenets of your belief system.
  • At +2 you can attempt to ask for or channel minor divine intercession and aid, such as a blessing of favor, or healing a minor wound.
  • At +3 and above you can invoke much more powerful effects…perhaps even ‘miracles’.

Overcome: Whenever a Priest wants to use magic as the justification to get past something, solve a problem, remove an Aspect, etc, it is simply a standard use of the Overcome action.
Create Advantage: Magic that asserts a fact to be true, interacts with or alters some fundamental trait (i.e. Aspects), modifies the environment, creates some pervasive long term effect, or otherwise does something lasting, is “cast” by using a Create An Advantage action.
Attack: Priest can’t be used to attack until the Profession is at +3 or higher.
Defend: Priest can be used to Defend against itself. If one character uses Priest to attack another character, the target can defend with Priest, and so on. It’s as simple as that.

Mage

The Mage delves into the unknown and arcane, manipulating forces and elements beyond most folk. He is often wise and astute, seeking out and dispensing knowledge.

  • At +1 you have relevant esoteric knowledge and awareness of magic, and you can use some magic items such as wands and scrolls that other characters can’t use.
  • At +2 you can work simple spells such as levitating small objects, making magical light and gain various benefits from other minor magical effects.
  • At +3 and above you can cast proper spells with more powerful effects, most notably those used to directly attack others.

Overcome: Whenever a Mage wants to use magic as the justification to get past something, solve a problem, remove an Aspect, etc, it is simply a standard use of the Overcome action.
Create Advantage: Magic that asserts a fact to be true, interacts with or alters some fundamental trait (i.e. Aspects), modifies the environment, creates some pervasive long term effect, or otherwise does something lasting, is “cast” by using a Create An Advantage action.
Attack: Damage spells are resolved using the Attack action, however Mages can’t attack with spells until the Profession is at +3 or higher; it isn’t any more complicated than that. Choose the Approach that seems to suit a given attack, the Shek-Pvar adds that Approach to their Mage Profession, and rolls.
Defend: Mage can be used to Defend against itself. If one character uses Mage to attack another character, the target can defend with Mage, and so on. It’s as simple as that. 

Diplomat

The Diplomat influences and socializes; they are adept at fitting in at a party, negotiating treaties and intimidating a thug to stand down by virtue of their authority or overwhelming presence.

  • At +1 you
  • At +2 you
  • At +3 and above

Overcome: Diplomat is used to influence others to do what you want, either through charm or coercion, and to establish connections with others. Entertainers charm their customers, guards interrogate suspects for information and merchants barter their goods or services. For nameless NPCs, this is a single overcome action, but for named NPCs and PCs, you may have to enter into a contest.
Create Advantage: Use Diplomat to create advantages representing momentary emotional states, like Enraged, Shocked, Hesitant, Joyful, or Excited. You can also establish positive moods in a scene or get someone to trust you. You could give a speech to Inspire, or stir a crowd into a Crazed Mob, or simply make someone Talkative or Helpful.
Attack: Diplomat only performs social attacks.
Defend: Diplomat defends against any attempt to damage your reputation, change a mood you’ve created, or make you look bad in front of other people.

Scholar

The Scholar thinks and discovers, interpreting the surrounding world, recalling knowledge, and gathering relevant information are all part and parcel of what it means to be a Scholar.

  • At +1 you
  • At +2 you
  • At +3 and above

Overcome: Scholars can apply their knowledge to achieve a goal, like deciphering ancient text on a tomb wall or recalling a bit of information they may have researched in the past. Scholars are also able to uncover unknown information through researching old tombs or performing inquiries with relevant contacts. When disputing facts or discussing some kind of social issue, a contest is usually performed to see who wins the debate, which may or may not be a duel, depending on how high the stakes are.
Create Advantage: Scholar is one of the most versatile Professions for creating advantages, as long as you’re willing to take the time to do some investigative research. Most of the time, you’ll use Scholar to create a story detail, some obscure bit of information that you uncover or know already. By studying, searching, or analyzing a subject, you can create an aspect representing what you’ve discovered about nearly anything in the setting that your character could reasonably unearth or know. This is also useful for assessing the aspects on another character’s sheet or getting a read on their emotional state, provided you have some kind of interpersonal contact with them.
Attack: Scholar is not used for attacks.
Defend: Scholar is the Profession used to defend against social actions taken against you by seeing through false information or figuring out the opposition’s intentions, such as when a Rogue tries to get you to believe a lie or a Diplomat attempts to sway your opinion or mood.

Mental Joy of Exercise

So with the foot on the mend I finally put together and started a new training regime, unfortunately it’s still one that doesn’t include running…I think that is still a few weeks or so away. I’ve mostly been off for the last month or two with a few workouts scattered in here and there and After five straight days back at it I now remember how good it makes me feel. I’ve shed a few pounds, but it’s not like I’ve lost a lot of weight or changed anything drastically in this time frame, but being back in the groove eating on track and working out certainly gives a sense of power and accomplishment. It amazes me how much it can effect your outlook and your overall feeling.

I’m changing things up more than usual working on a 10-day training week with Olympic lifts, CrossFit, free-form circuit training, cycling and yes some walking (yea!) all worked into the mix. So far I’m liking it as it allows me to schedule every 10 days and work around things that crop up on the calendar and I think it’s also go to remove the repetitiveness of having the same day every week being the same type of workout.

Yea, it’s good to be back on the train and feeling strong.

Curried Seafood and Cabbage

I can’t take an ounce of credit for this, but had to share the deliciousness of it…my wife cooked up this Shrimp, Tilapia and Cabbage Curry recipe from the Paleo Mom the other night and the flavors and textures are just a perfect fit. We (accidentally) used more carrots which turned out fine and dandy and substituted wild caught halibut for the tilapia. I’m a big fan of curry and since we’ve had a bit of a cold snap along the Colorado Front Range in the last week this was the perfect Monday meal.

Oh yea, and the flavors just get better the next day!

Medius, the Twilight Lands

It’s just an inkling of an idea and has been rattling around in my brain for some time…my creative juices are boiling over, I think it might be time to dust off this idea.

Centuries ago the habitable land was one and stretched across the whole until the War of the Heavens.
Then the followers of Solis, Lunas and Terras rose up and marched upon one another.
Vying for supremacy, they plunged the land into chaos.
The War raged for decades while the land was decimated and the planet was torn asunder.
The Final Cataclysm ended the strife and forever altered the landscape of the planet.
One side dark and locked in cold, one side bright and bathed in fire;
only in between suitable for man or beast.
Straddling the middle, never fully dark, never fully bright.
Medius, the Twilight Lands.
————
Welcome to Medius, an anomaly of a planet if there ever was one; centuries ago a great apocalypse befell the world brought on by a brutal war between the followers of the world’s three deities. Now one side of the planet continuously faces the moon and the other the sun. To the east is where the cold and mountainous Frozen Lands begin and stretch into eternal night…to the west, the Fire Lands sweep into endless scorching badlands and desert. Between the two extremes is a strip circling the globe, the only hospitable climate left…filled with water, lush forests, rebuilding and expanding civilizations. The edges of the light and dark side can be tolerated and are somewhat inhabitable, but the further you travel the more harsh it is.

Flying solo

Sometimes going solo on the journey to health and fitness can become stale. It’s tough to stay the course and keep motivated when workouts are typically done alone and you are surrounded by non-compliant eating habits and various social activities.

I often find myself headstrong and very motivated…other times, not so much. While I sometimes like training solo I do miss being in the company of others. They push and motivate you to stretch your limits and stay the course. Plus it’s always more fun to suffer in the company of others.

Of course my current injury isn’t helping my outlook and motivation but I need to find a way to push through and get back fully on course. Always seems to be set, falter and reset of late…not sure how, but need to break that cycle.