Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Lawful and the Good

Let's you and me roll this one out on the ball field and play a few innings.

I'm going to do this off the cuff and I'm not going to appeal to any primary or secondary sources. This is just me putting my stakes in the ground and marking off the garden plots in which my setting is planted.

Last time, I made the statement that D&D is explicitly a role-playing game and not a wargame or board game or something else. I feel confident making this statement because I am able to present an incredibly strong piece of evidence: Alignment exists and it has game mechanical impact. You may have a different opinion, which is very fair. It's an open question. 

So that's the first thing: Alignment exists and you can't take it out of the game without changing the game in a significant way.

But here's the other part of that: the Alignment system makes a strong statement about the implied setting: that is, morality is woven into the fabric of the Cosmos; that every version of D&D has a cosmogony and that Alignment necessarily follows from those cosmogonies. 

Not all cosmologies insist upon alignment, but D&D cosmologies do. 

Not all D&D alignment systems are the same, of course. There is the three-point alignment system and the nine-point alignment system and even the five-point alignment system from Holmes (which I'd love to see in some other products tbh. We didn't get a chance to inhabit that design space for "long" enough.)

Three-Point Alignments

Three-Point alignment is something I feel like I have a really good grasp on because I'm able to explain how it works in the game to a new player. I can also explain fairly easily how a particular character can achieve any of the three alignments. 

Now excuse me while I prepare to tell you what I mean.

*puts on football helmet and ties mattresses to chest and back*

In a Cosmic sense, Lawful means that you are allied with the Realm of Men and Mankind. It does not mean you like any particular person or even Humanity, but you are allied with the goal of spreading, essentially, Western philosophical and cultural virtues.

So the way you explain it to the new player (or the player new to three-point alignment) is "Lawful characters always try to do the right thing AND advance civilization."


Some races are naturally Lawful. They are born that way

This means they have no choice but to try to do the right thing and advance civilization - in this case, civilization as conceived by the cultures of Men.

Some races are like that. But not Men. Men have choice. Men are not born with any particular alignment. Men can choose which alignment to be. Or a man can choose not to choose.

The vast majority of Men do not choose. They are neutrals (small n.) 

Neutral with a capital N means that the individual is actively seeking balance. He may try to do the right thing most of the time, but he's not interested in either advancing or reversing the spread of Civilization. 

Neutral with a small n means the individual has not given a lot of thought to morality or ethics, and is mostly out for himself.

In my opinion, 75-80% of all Men are small-n neutrals; most players play their PCs that way too.

Men can also choose to be Chaotics. Chaotics are basically up to no good. They may go out of their way to screw things up. They may aid the enemies of civilization or Mankind. They are not merely working for a different Lord or religion, but they are working to sabotage that which is orderly.

Additionally, a lot of monsters are naturally Chaotics even though they live orderly lives. This is because they oppose Mankind's expansion and civilization. Example: A Hobgoblin is quite orderly. He is in control of himself and knows exactly his place in the hierarchy and how to comport himself within his culture at all times. But he is still a Chaotic because he is part of a force fighting against the civilizations of Men.

Incidentally, if you were able to somehow separate one Hobgoblin from his society and make him a citizen of a realm of Men, he would probably be quite Lawful because he would behave in a way similar to his former life.

How to Select Your Alignment

Most monstrous races, almost all animals, and most NPCs from the common races allied to Men have little or no choice in their alignment. Even most Men choose not to choose! But a few players (and a few characters) do choose. Choosing to be Lawful or Chaotic or affirmatively Neutral requires two steps:

1) Stating, at least to yourself, that you intend to act in a certain way.

2) Affirmatively acting that way.

We can assume that any character entering the game with a non-neutral alignment has made this decision beforehand.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Magic Items: Implements of Bogardan

A man named Eignach Mac Uladh was a Lawful Cleric of Stella Solim, from the Isle of Bogardan in the Burning Isles, who lived some 900 years ago. He was a traveling blacksmith who served an army before being called into service of God by a Solimnite monk.

To that end, he created for himself an enchanted hammer and anvil.

He forswore edged weapons as Clerics still do today and took up his own humble hammer to fell evildoers. But Eignach also believed strongly in the cleansing power of fire. When he reached the rank of High Priest, he enchanted his hammer with the fire of the forge.

Magic Item: The Hammer of Bogardan

Warhammer +2. Enc: 150 cn. May only be wielded by a Paladin or Lawful Cleric. For others it is a -2 Cursed Warhammer.

When it hits, it deals 1d6 bludgeoning damage and 2 pips of fire damage and may light flammables.

Additionally, the head will produce flame like a torch on command.

But Eignach never got the enchantment quite right.

When thrown, it does not return to the caster's hand as a Dwarven Thrower would. However if the wielder chooses to stand still during the movement portion of a combat round, he can will the hammer to return to his hand.

If carried into battle, it's wielder cannot turn undead for 24 hours. 

Additionally, Eignach enchanted and consecrated the small anvil he carried in his travels. He would pray before this anvil shrine each morning while reciting his holy litanies. By doing so, he was able to strengthen his bond with God and cast more spells per day. However, the enchantment upon the anvil was imperfect. Though he worked it over and over, he never quite perfected it.

Magic Item: The Anvil of Bogardan

Enc: 750 cn. It is small enough to fit into a backpack but quite unwieldy. 

If a Lawful Cleric or Paladin incorporates the anvil into his prayers for spells, he may prepare one extra spell per day per spell level known. However, the character cannot cast all of the prepared spells.

Once all but one prepared spell of any given level has been cast, the last spell is lost from the caster's mind. Furthermore, that lost spell cannot be prepared the next day.

If more than one prepared spell in a given level is left uncast the next time the caster prays for spells, then one spell is lost at random from each such level prior to the process of spell prep.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Team Actions

Over here Brendan is talking about how to model a total team effort in RPGs. Whereas a party is a group of individuals, there are times when teamwork is necessary. For instance, getting NPCs across a chasm or piloting an unfamiliar sailing ship through a storm. I don't know, there are a lot of things like that.

(Incidentally, I like reading Brendan's blog so I know what I'm going to be interested in in 2-3 years. He's always 2-3 years ahead of me.)

In the case of a modern skill-based system, there are specific procedures laid out on how some characters can help the main guy or whatever. Lame, I think, but reasonably simulationist.

But here, I want to talk about games without skill systems. Mythical Journeys is so dead simple that there are barely even stat bonuses let alone skills.

So this is what I was thinking. 

Make it a series of dice rolls simulating skill checks. You don't actually have to play in a skill-based system; you can just use ad hoc rolls.

For Mythical Journeys, where stat bonuses go from -1 to +1, it's best to use a 1d6 for the die. Then a bonus or penalty is about 17%.

For, say, B/X, use a 1d20 where each point of bonus is about 5%.

Then decide how hard it is to add a little bit of success to the team effort. That's how difficult the task is.

Then decide how complicated the task is. If it's got a lot of parts or takes a long time to complete, require the team to rack up a lot of success.

Then go around the table and have each player tell you how his character intends to assist with the team goal. Figure out what stat requires, apply the PC's modifier, and then have the player roll. If they make it, add a success.

Then if they make X successes before X failures (determined by how complicated the task is), they succeed. You might want to say each player can only try each idea to help one time and not repeat the same kind of attempt.

It will require a lot of finesse from you but that's true whenever we're talking rulings versus rules, too.  This sounds wonky but in practice it feels very good and simulates teamwork very well.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Maximize your Hobbit

Let's Fight About Alignment!

The other week I wrote a post where the thesis was that D&D isn't a role-playing game because you don't actually have to get into character in order to play it. you can use your character as a really complicated pawn in a really complicated game of Candyland, more or less. That was the thrust of the post. 

But now I'm going to argue the other thing: Now I'm going to argue that D&D is explicitly a role-playing game, and there are indeed game mechanics that require you to play a role in the world and think of your complicated pawn as a person rather than a piece of plastic that gets to send other plastic pawns back to start if you pull the right card from the deck.

Wow, that was a tortured analogy!

What is that mechanic? It's alignment! 

In Mythical Journeys, I spend about as much time talking about alignment as I do talking about any of the individual character classes; about as much time as I spend talking about encumbrance; more time than I spend on language or on the chase rules; almost as much time as I spend talking about jousting. It's really a remarkably important thing when I play D&D.

There is a game-mechanical aspect to it: it grants you an alignment language for free. 

Specifically for the Cleric (and then for the Paladin, Druid and Thief), alignment matters quite a bit. Different nonhuman fantasy races line up on one side or the other of the Great Alignment debate just by virtue of being born that race. It's clearly something woven into the universe in which D&D resides. 

In the case of the Cleric, you might even say that the Anti-Cleric or Evil high Priest is a different character class, because they only have access to the reversed version of spells and reverse undead turning. (I'm not sure I go that far, but it's a fair thing to conjecture.)

Therefore it's both mechanically important and enforces the implied setting to a moderate-to-strong degree.

A pawn can't have morals or ethics. A pawn knows not good from evil. Only a sapient being with agency can know good and evil and act upon that knowledge. Therefore D&D does require you to inhabit your man and breathe life into him like he's a real person. No pure pawn will do.

Therefore D&D is indeed a role-playing game.

NEXT TIME: What the heck is Lawful (Good)?

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Actual Play: Fellowship of the Critical Failure

The plot and details are a little sketchy because I am SICK AS A DOG tonight but here are some great plot points.

Our fellowship reached the Tabernacle of Freya. We found out that the soul of Odin (yes that Odin) was residing within the body of our mage. We thought he just had epilepsy or something but it turns out it was Odin trying to take over at times.

We were transported to a tower to find a little boy who was the key to saving the world. Not teleported exactly, but more like how Mario gets around in Super Mario Galaxy. We saw the whole Realm and the neighboring Realm from far up in the air. Very cool.

We went to fight an endgame-quality boss. She fried us like crazy, including killing Smudge the henchman outright!  And she was on a pegasus!  

So the mage casts Fly on the superheroic Fighting-Man, and there's this wild dogfight between the flying fighter and the dark elf on a pegasus.

She casts Hold Person or something on him so he can't move. But Fly is powered by thought. So now he's a superheroic missile!

He's flying around and he rams her and then rams her horse and then she gets away and he comes back to the rest of the party and we freaking ride him like a surfboard and get to the tower and fight the lady.

She escapes but we do rescue the kid who is the key to saving the world. 

We rode. The fighter. Like a flying surfboard.

And that is why people play D&D.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

On Noble Titles and How They Stack Up

Every country does the noble ranks a little differently, but here's a good, generic list of titles for various ranks of nobility in a fantasy medieval setting like we generally presume.

Noble titles are important when it comes to war and politics. And sometimes they are important in romance as well. A Princess would be hard-pressed to marry someone who wasn't on one of these lists, for instance. (Maybe a Duke or King would in some rare circumstance.)

Noble Ranks

A Country Bastard is a noble without portfolio. Perhaps he is the drinking buddy of a knight. The only benefit that comes with being a country bastard is that you are not subject to the normal legal indignities of a peasant when coming in contact with higher nobles. 

A Gentleman is a rank that a hairy at the heels merchant or former Outlaw might purchase for themselves. They bribe the local lord and have a phony coat-of-arms made up, and then they would be able to pass themselves off in polite society. Rarely, the title would be given to someone of means who does a favor for a Baron or something. Likewise, a Squire is a knight's attendant or another skilled craftsman such as a goldsmith. Even today "Esquire" is a title lawyers will use.

Knights are what they sound like - the career soldiers for the Lord. This title is not hereditary, but a lot of knights will raise their sons to be knights because they have the advantage of being in the business. Although in real history there were very very few female knights, we should assume that there will be some in D&D. In my game, I call lady knights "Dame" or "Lady Knight" interchangeably.

A Life Lord (or Dame) is an honorific given by the Sovereign or ruling body to someone of celebrity or great service. It comes with a pension and equals the rank of Knight. 

The lowliest noble rank of anyone who would have a hereditary claim is Baronet. Titles below that would not be hereditary. A Baronet is a landowner with tenants. He would not keep any military men in his service because they cost too much.

Marquis is a special case which falls outside this strict hierarchy. They are special lords appointed by the king to oversee specific trouble areas, usually on the Marches (borderlands) of a kingdom. March = Marquis, see?

In later Renaissance settings, Marquis might be a title granted to an illegitimate son of a prince, duke, or king who the sire recognizes as his own.

A Baron or Baroness is a lord who has a castle and knights. In my setting, you need to clear at least one six-mile hex and build a little castle, and then peasants come live with you. Then you're a Baron. A Baron rules over anywhere from 150 families to perhaps 20,000 depending on the scope and productivity of his lands.

A Count has several Barons swearing fealty to him. Counts administer to Counties of tens of thousands of families. They have their own soldiers and can call upon their Barons to send them more in times of necessity.

In England, a Count is called an Earl, a word that comes from Ealdor or Elder.

A Duke or Duchess rules over a Duchy or Dukedom. This might be as expansive as a whole country with hundreds of thousands of families! Normandy, which conquered England in 1066, was one such Duchy.

At this upper end of the noble ladder, people will choose their names carefully, so as not to offend people who are perceived to be more powerful than they are. The ruler of a new land might call himself a Duke or Archduke or Prince even though he's really the sovereign because a neighboring kingdom might have a powerful and haughty king, whose favor the new ruler may wish to court.

Dukes and Duchesses may also be the royal consort. If a King takes a wife, he may give her the title of Duchess of such-and-such to show she rules a certain chunk of the kingdom. 

Or, in lands where the church is more powerful than the state, the ruler may take the title of Prince to show deference to the supreme religious leader or leaders.

A King is the sovereign of a sovereign land. He is not part of any hierarchy, but rather sits above and outside of all other branches of the country. In some countries, the King is also the head of the church (such as in England or Vatican City.) 

An Emperor is someone who rules several Kingdoms. In practice it is almost impossible to build an Empire without tremendous infrastructure and bureaucracy (and heck, a little magic) but an Emperor is the head of state for such a confederation. 

Ultimately the highest ranks are decided by who has the biggest army and navy, and the lower ranks are decided by the upper ranks. Although all of it has the trappings of history and tradition and continuity, it's really just window dressing for power politics.

Anyway, above the rank of Count it's all politics.

Ecclesiastical Ranks

Theoretically no religious title is hereditary (but sometimes a powerful family may capture the means of election or selection of the head of a church for some period of time.)

A Bishop is the head of a church in a city or group of towns. Most Bishops are political or ecclesiastic appointments. They are often drawn from the ranks of nobility.

An Archbishop is the head of a church in a geographic area, and as such will have at least one or two Bishops beneath him (and sometimes a lot of them.) Most Archbishops are able politicians drawn from the ranks of Bishop.

A Cardinal or Metropolitan is a church leader who is adept at politics as well as religion. They are always drawn from the ranks of the Archbishopric and most will spend at least some time dwelling in the religion's main city or region and guiding the dogma and earthly direction of the church in question.

A Patriarch or Pope is somehow chosen from the ranks of at least the Bishopric and with the guidance of the god of the religion in question. He must be both holy (or unholy) and an excellent politician, for he is both the head of church and the head of the "nation of the church" or political arm of that church. He is considered that god's representative in the Mortal Realm.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Polytheism in the Ancient Empire

mature idea in D&D - perhaps not one universally held but still mature - is that D&D is decidedly post-apocalyptic. Someone built those ruins. Someone put the gold in the ground. Those magic items are scattered for some forgotten reason. The long-lived peoples  remain in the dark corners of the world rather than living in shining cities of majesty. Someone created those magical horrors that dwell in the ruins. The Restless Dead who walk the Realm were made to do so by some unspeakable past evil.

In short, there was Something. Then it Fell. 

And here we are - either subsisting in the dark shadow that has descended from that time, or recovering what was lost in far Antiquity.

But what knit those peoples together? All the far-flung peoples throughout the Realm who now make war against one another were once united.


And in a setting where the kinds of Clerics are myriad and nearly endless, so must be the gods they worshiped. 

This is my guess about how the Ancient Empire came to be. As for how it ended? I have some idea about that too, but that fable is for some other night.

Their gods were like people: they could deceive, make war, make love, and laugh. But they were immortal. The relationship was transactional: The people would venerate and remember the gods, and the gods would grant weal in peace and war.

Each god was practical; it had a portfolio encompassing some part of the natural world. All life was considered holy and therefore sacred. All natural phenomena were in the purview of one or more of these gods.

As the people of the Ancient Empire encountered, traded with, and conquered other peoples, they were fascinated by the gods that had brought those cultures good fortune. They wanted those gods on their side and not as enemies. Therefore they would incorporate those gods into their own pantheon and perform rituals they knew worked for their own gods: oracles and sacrifices. Over time, their pantheon grew to over fifty named gods, each with its own portfolio. Temples to every deity rose up in their cities and towns.

With its incorporationist philosophy, the ancient religion proved attractive to people outside the Ancient Empire as well. Their religion’s influence and practice expanded far to the west, shaping or supplanting many state religions in the eldentimes.

In time, the Ancient Empire storm god would evolve into the Greek Zeus. And Zeus would become the inspiration for the Christian Deus: God with a capital “G.”

In the end, their pantheon became so complex that they earned the name “People of 1,000 Gods.” Religion was big business. While it drained economic might away from producing food and making war, it knit the disparate peoples together in a way no central planner could dream of.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Rituals for Mythical Journeys

Niche Protection? Bah

I have decided to try out ritual casting on a trial basis in my home game. Ritual casting has become a mature and streamlined mechanic in 5e, but I chose to go back to the 4e version to base my ritual casting on. 

Yes, 4e. Sue me.

Here is the description of how it should work in my game. This is a totally rough draft. It will be tweaked or even discarded after we try it out for a while.

Ritual Magic

A Ritual is a complex ceremony that creates a magic effect. You must read it from a book or scroll containing it.

Magic-User and Elf rituals can be made from the spellbook spells they are based on. The time and is the same as making a scroll: one day per spell level, but the cost is one-tenth that of a normal spell scroll: 10 x spell level x spell level in GP. This ritual instruction is inscribed into a ritual book like a normal spell is inscribed into a normal spellbook. 

Anyone can use a ritual book to perform a ritual it contains. They must have the appropriate material components and those components are expended. It takes one Turn per spell level of the original spell to perform a ritual, or at least 10 minutes.

Some rituals require extra preparation from the normal spall, like candles or the inscription of mystic tubes on a hard surface. These are determined on a case-by-case basis. Not every spell may be ritual cast. This will also be determined as we go along.

A Ritual Book: Like a spellbook, a ritual book is the repository of the information needed to perform a ritual. It costs 50 gp. It weighs 50 cn. It has 128 pages. Each ritual instruction takes up a number of pages equal to the spell’s level. Ritual books may be found as treasure. Roll the spell rituals inscribed as you would for spells on a found spell scroll. Ignore protection spells and cursed scrolls.

You may create a new ritual book by copying an old one. It takes one day per page and an INT check for each ritual (or WIS check for Clerical rituals.) A missed check means a ruined ritual and messed up pages in your book. You can’t re-use those pages.

Learning a Ritual: It takes at least 8 uninterrupted hours to learn how to perform a Ritual. At the end of that time you make an INT or WIS check to see if you have learned it. A failed check means you have to spend 8 more hours learning it. Spending time with an appropriate Magic-User or Cleric teacher mans you don’t need to make the INT or WIS check.

In this way a Fighter can cast Cure Light Wounds or Detect Magic if he needs it. Combat spells don’t work as well because they take so long to cast.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Goblin Class for B/X

Why not? Again - watching the Matt Colville 5e live streamed game has made me think about having a goblin as a PC.  I would not want one in my Fallen Empire setting but it might be an interesting idea at some point. So I wrote it up with Mythical Journeys flavor.

The Goblin

Goblins are individually the weakest of all monstrous humanoids. Even orcs and kobolds look down upon these pitiful creatures. However, they are shifty, hardy and resourceful, and they have shown the ability in rare cases to learn how to become adventurers and not merely adventurer-fodder.

If one were to be separated from his warren and made to be civilized, he might someday become as useful as a savage of any of the humanoid races in the Realm of Men, if one were able to get him to stop eating out of the garbage and stealing everything on sight.

EDITS: Based on comments on G+ I have made a couple of changes. They are marked in Orange and also corrected on the linked word doc.

The Prime Requisite of the Goblin is Dexterity.

Goblins must have a minimum Dexterity and Constitution of 9 when beginning play. They may not have an Intelligence greater than 14 or a Strength greater than 15.

Arms & Armor: A Goblin may use any armor without penalty but it must be sized properly for him. He may use small weapons such as those a Man could use in one hand, just like a Hobbit can.

Combat Ability: The Goblin uses the Fighter’s Cleric's Attack Matrix line and Hobbit's Saving Throw charts.

The Goblin’s Class Abilities:

Darkvision: Goblins can see perfectly well in the dark out to 60’, but even a candles-worth of light will spoil this Darkvision.

Static Hide: Indoors, a goblin can hide behind even the most pitiful of cover 5-in-6 4-in-6 times. Both are modified by Dex and armor as normal. Outdoors, he can hide 3-in-6 times. He will always think himself well-hidden regardless. Magical light will spoil this ability, however.

Split Move: Goblins can move up to half their movement rate, make an attack, and then attempt to move away using up to half their movement (being subject to an attack of opportunity in melee.) This makes them excellent ambushers, especially from a distance or from cover.

Pick Pockets and Move Silently: Pick Pockets allows the Goblin to try to perform preternatural acts of prestidigitation and Move Silently allows him to move absolutely and completely silently. Normally, the player can just roll normal checks to try mundane stealing and sneaking like any other character.

To attempt these skill uses, roll 2d6 and add Dex bonus. If the result is equal to or higher than the number shown, the check succeeds. See Table 1.

Surprise Attack: When attacking from surprise and within 30’, the Goblin may make one special attack at +4 that deals double damage on a hit. At level 4, this becomes treble damage, and at level 8, four-times damage. Unlike the Backstab ability, this attack does not need to be from behind; only from surprise. This attack only works against living corporeal creatures with a discernable anatomy.

Goblin Limitations: No one likes or respects goblins. Many people would kill him on sight, so he must be very careful. While all goblins start at level 1 with the Chaotic alignment, they may change it through play if they wish.

Therefore Goblins receive a -2 to all reaction rolls except with other goblins or their personal friends; no exceptions.

Click to enlarge

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Treasury

I'm gonna steal this from about ten games, but it's something we don't normally see in D&D and I'd like to make folks aware that it exists in case they didn't know. And also, just put this here so I will remember that I wrote about it in case I want to look at it later.

Also in the Port setting, there's a good chance the players will pick an "easy" option where their pawns are, at least to start, working for someone who hand-feeds them missions. Going from a railroad game to a player-driven game takes some getting used to in the age of story paths.

The Treasury

When mercenaries get paid, they get paid to the treasury. Of course they can pocket whatever they can carry from adventures as normal, but whoever sends them on their mission also gives them a reward. Theoretically. This money goes into a shared pot of money called the Treasury.

This is an abstract concept that allows the PCs to buy stuff without doing all the math. 50' rope would require a roll of 2 (you always have enough for one cheapo item before an adventure) while a king's ransom would require a roll of 9. So you can't even try to buy something awesome until you've increased your bankroll some.

The way the Treasury works is, you can roll to see whether there's enough money in it to buy what you need to. The die starts as 1d2 (one installment of a simple retainer fee) and goes up incrementally with each contract. 

1d2, 1d3, 1d4, 1d5, 1d6, two to 1d8, two to 1d10, two to 1d12. 1d12 is the max and so is doesn't really get any bigger.

Whenever the characters want to invest in something directly connected to adventuring, they can opt to use the Treasury. Like I said, cheap items cost 1. A galleon or longship would cost 6. A castle in a cloud? 11 or more??

The players may make one purchase per session that costs half their treasury die or less without rolling. After that they have to roll the die. Rolling equal to or greater than the cost of the item - just eyeball the difficulty number based on the guidelines here - means they can buy it no sweat.

If the roll is lower than the cost of the item (just eyeball it, this is very abstracted), then the die decreases by one level. See, if you use up a significant portion of your stash, you're not as rich. You can still buy the thing as long as it's something your die could roll, but you lose some buying power.

Personal items and carousing costs come from the character's own money which as I said comes from salvaging or working side jobs or whatever.

Items purchased from the Treasury technically belong to their group as a whole (but possession is 9/10th of the law among some of these murderous bastards, amiright.)

Look, if you need more specific benchmarks, do something like this

Cost 1 is up to 100 GP.
Cost 2 is up to 400 GP.
Cost 3 is up to 1500 GP.
Cost 4 is up to 4,000 GP.
Cost 5 is up to 15,000 GP.
Cost 6 is up to 40,000 GP.

Something like that. I think those numbers are a little high, but make of it what you will.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Each One Has to Be All Three

“Do you know where Senator Bean comes from?” Asked Goldberg. Goldberg talked a mile a minute. It made Elias a little nervous. That was funny because Elias used to talk like that too. Arizona life had taken him down a gear.

“No, isn’t he from around here?” said Elias.

“He came from New Jersey! He was a warden at a county jail and he put together a program where the residents would get very little red meat and get most of their protein from beans. In the exercise yard and weight room the heaviest weights were removed. So you would get a lot of guys who were low-muscle, low-aggression, fit and healthy. Long and lean. Like you are, I’d say.

“He was able to, just with diet and a change to the exercise, get the number of violent incidents down by about 60%, and reduce the healthcare costs by about 30%. It was really amazing.” Elias nodded. He was working on the lasagna which was pretty good, considering.

“They were actually able to get a real dental program together so some of the women were able to get their certificate in dental hygiene and I think they even had one guy who became a dentist when he got out. And of course the inmates who wanted it came out with real nice dental work. Top notch.”

“A real success story,” said Elias. He was impressed.

“Yeah,” said Goldberg. He picked up the coffee and tried it again and it dawned on him he was telling Eli about the Senator. “So anyway about 18 years ago he came out here, recruited to run the state prison system. People around here instantly fell in love with him. He speaks fluent Spanish, he pays attention to tribal issues. Compared to the previous guy Lundgren who was a real hardass and made prison a real ordeal, the COs and inmates liked him and the politicians liked the outcomes so he was able to make rounds in the political community. He ran for Pima County Sheriff and won pretty easily,” said Goldberg. He stopped to have a sip of his coffee and made a face like it wasn’t right. He set it aside.

“So last cycle when Wanamaker retired, the state party taps him to run. He had a statewide profile and of course he looks the part and people like him. Back then the whole state was pretty solid one-party, so it was a walk for him. And the rest is history.”

“He’s actually pretty new then,” said Elias.

“Depends. About two thirds of everyone lives in the state has come since 1990. It’s really a melting pot. And there’s no signs it’s going to slow down. So make of it what you will,” said Goldberg. “I’m 100% Brooklyn. Came here to look after  mom when Dad passed but I’ll never get used to it out here. People are too nice.”

Elias started to answer him but Goldberg just kept talking. 

“Anyway. I’m just starting for the Republic covering the courts then and I go in to do a day in the life with Bean. This was back when he was the warden at Perryville. Worst of the worst. He shows me everything, really kind of standard stuff. Halfway through, I’ll never forget the clock on the wall says 11:47 am, and we’re in the cafeteria. Bean turns his back to talk with a CO and all of a sudden two huge guys pull me into a closet and shiv me in the ribs!”

“No kidding?”

“Seriously. I kid you not. Just jabbing me over and over and I think I’m going to die, but then I realize I’m not actually bleeding or anything and they start laughing and let go of me. And then Bean opens the closet door, big smile on his face. The men were stabbing me with these little plastic spoons it turns out. It was a work. But man, it felt really real and I got a bruise in my ribs anyway.”


“One of the inmates, probably six four and all muscle, big black guy no offense, kind of had a lisp, and says, “In here, takes two seconds for you to die. That’s the reality of this place. Two seconds, and you’re dead.” And he bangs his two hands together right next to my face. Bam! I jumped. And all the inmates are laughing with each other. I guess it’s a game they play whenever there’s a visitor in general population. I nearly shit myself.”

“Yeah I can see why! And no offense taken.”

Goldberg was fingering his yellow Bic lighter, fidgeting. “Bean smirks at them and calls the two guys by name and assigns them compound duty, which I guess is like buildings and grounds. It can suck being outside in the heat of the day. Perryville, there’s no grass or trees and the dirt is completely red. Really kind of sucks.

“You could see they all had respect for him. It looked like, you know what it looked like? Looked like a high school. Like Kotter and the sweat hogs. All these guys, very few of them ever had a father figure, so he’s trying to teach them how to be men and have responsibility in their lives if they ever get out. So it’s like a high school or even like a family,” said Goldberg.

“Strikes me funny how much high schools, jails, and secure mental health facilities are all overlapping.”

“Sometimes each one of them has to be all three.”