The Darkness is Spreading
Taken from Yahoo News...

Doctors, Priests Form Exorcism Commission
Fri Feb 13, 8:09 AM ET

ROME (Reuters) - Faced with growing demand for exorcisms, Catholic Church leaders in the Italian city of Genoa have created a taskforce of doctors and priests to determine when the devil is at work and when psychiatric help is needed.

The team of three priests, one psychiatrist, one psychologist and one neurologist -- dubbed the "anti-Satan pool" by Italian media -- will work on a case-by-case basis, a local church official said in a telephone interview on Thursday.

"They'll meet on a regular basis to determine when there has been a case of demonic possession and call for an exorcist, or problems better cared for by a psychologist," said the official, who asked not to be named.

Presumably, before the demand for exorcisms increased, they didn't need the task force and could determine how many exorcisms were real and how many were just medical problems. I understand it's a lot of work, and highly stressful.
For My Friend, Baron Munchausen

Riddle of 'the Baron' in Room 1827
February 16, 2004

WHO is The Baron? He has a permanent reservation for a deluxe terrace suite at one of Sydney's top hotels, but nobody has ever seen him.

Room 1827 at Sheraton on the Park is the only suite always booked - its elusive guest paying $342 a night. But, after five years and $608,760, his identity remains a mystery.

"There is a reservation in the system under 'P. Baron' that is always there, but nobody from reception has actually seen or met The Baron," one former Sheraton staffer who worked in guest services said.

"It is the nicest room in the hotel on the 18th floor, he has his own fittings and fixtures that are pretty luxurious."
Alternative Settings
Remember the setting contest that WOTC had? Here's an online setting that
was built for that contest...

Urbis - A World of Cities

Interesting sewers and fantasy cities in this concept. May just try running it one of these days.
Black Hole reference
My friend Pointy may have some interest in black holes now, given the history we rolled up for his character.

Here's a great reference on the subject: Jillian's Guide to Black Holes.
Science Trivia: Flying Flies
Here's something I'm starting up for all us Science nerds out there: I search the web for interesting, but relatively useless information about science. Unless you're a writer or gamemaster... Hehe.

Taken from the Berkeley Magazine:

... scientists have long been puzzled by a basic question: How do flies guide their flight? No one had ever found a direct connection between the fly's visual system and the muscles that control its single set of wings. Wing steering muscles on the fly did not respond to changing visual images.

Michael Dickinson, an assistant professor of integrative biology, and his Berkeley colleagues have solved the long-standing mystery using a "virtual reality" chamber where they recorded how flies would bank and roll in response to changing images.

With images flickering at a phenomenal rate of 3,000 to 4,000 per second, Dickinson discovered that information from the fly's multiple eyes was feeding to vestigial organs called halteres -- the evolutionary remnants of a second set of wings. The halteres, acting as the fly's gyroscope, would then relay signals to the wing muscles to alter their stroke or angle of attack.

This seemingly illogical system, relaying visual information through a muscle-bound organ, nevertheless is extremely fast. House flies can change course in response to visual images within an amazingly short 30 milliseconds.

"Flies are the most accomplished fliers on the planet in terms of aerodynamics," Dickinson said. "They can do things no other animal can, like land on ceilings or inclined surfaces. And they are especially deft at takeoffs and landings -- their skill far exceeds that of any other insect or bird."
Philippine Politics or Why They Should All Get Stuffed
The Philippines is (rapidly become was) a place where there were boundless natural resources. Tropical, but not too bad. We get our share of storms and earthquakes and other natural disasters, but it's managable.

Our curse comes from Philippine politics and its entrenched TraPos. For those of you not familiar with the term, trapo refers to a dirty old rag used to clean up stuff aroung the house or in the car. It's also used to refer to TRAditional POliticians. (I love my country's fascination with wordplay.)

The economy hasn't gone under yet, but it's getting there. Corruption has soared since the days of Marcos, and that's saying something. Even the former opposition activists have noted as much...

What do politicians think they're supposed to be doing? Serving the people? Or serving themselves? I'm trying to formulate my stance on how the whole political mechanic should work in the Philippines, knowing how the game is currently played...

Should we establish minimum qualifications for certain positions? Should we change the method of choosing leaders? Should we just go the Americans and say... "remember that bit about preferring a Hell run by Filipinos rather than a Heaven run by Americans? Just kidding."

I mean, look at Erap - he gave the Americans such a hard time about the bases and how they mess around in our politics, and then he wanted to go there for surgery. He probably has houses there too.
A search for RPG Theme songs
An old RPG (Mekton Zeta) recommended having an opening sequence theme song and a closing credits theme song, just like in most Anime. The opening sequence song should be lively and upbeat, while the ending song should be somber or mellow.

Since I'm gearing up for my Fading Suns reboot, a setting that I've been using to test the mechanics of the Hinirang RPG ruleset, I decided to dip into this little mood-setting trick for the game sessions.

I'm open to suggestions. Currently, we've got the following nominations:
Opening Song:
- "How You Remind Me" by Nickelback
Closing Song:
- "My Immortal" by Evanescence
- "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" by Elton John

Another Mood-Setting Trick
Scripts. The original Star Wars RPG advocated using scripts to start up each adventure. Players would read out their parts (which would include the expositional banter familiar to fans of the 1st trilogy of movies) and then jump into the scene just introduced.

For this game, I don't think it'll work. Instead, I'll take a stab at a variant. In the Babylon 5 TV series, each season had a different sequence of opening credits that held hints and foreshadowing of events to come (if not for the current season, then for future ones). Here are the voice-over narratives for each...

Season One:

It was the dawn of the third age of mankind, ten years after the Earth/Minbari war.

The Babylon Project was a dream given form. Its goal: to prevent another war by creating a place where humans and aliens could work out their differences peacefully. It's a port of call - a home away from home for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs... and wanderers. Humans and aliens wrapped in two million five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal... all alone in the night.

It can be a dangerous place, but it's our last best hope for peace.

This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations.

The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5.

- Commander Sinclair

Season Two:

The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace.

A self-contained world five miles long, located in neutral territory. A place of commerce and diplomacy for a quarter of a million humans and aliens. A shining beacon in space, all alone in the night.

It was the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind...the year the Great War came upon us all.

This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations.

The year is 2259. The name of the place is Babylon 5.

- Captain Sheridan

Season Three:

The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace.

It failed.

But, in the Year of the Shadow War, it became something greater: our last, best hope... for victory.

The year is 2260. The place: Babylon 5.

- Commander Ivanova

Season Four:

It was the year of fire... (Lennier) the year of destruction... (Zack) the year we took back what was ours. (G'Kar)

It was the year of rebirth... (Lyta) the year of great sadness... (Vir) the year of pain... (Marcus) and the year of joy. (Delenn)

It was a new age. (Londo)

It was the end of history. (Franklin)

It was the year everything changed. (Ivanova)

The year is 2261. (Garibaldi) The place: Babylon 5. (Sheridan)

- Various

Since we don't have the budget constraints of a TV series, I'll probably have a different player read the intro in character, with slight variances for each episode.
Uh... Oh, yuck.
I'm a fan of the McDonald's Cheeseburger meal. But then I read about this:

January 22, 2004 -- LAST February, Morgan Spurlock decided to become a gastronomical guinea pig.
His mission: To eat three meals a day for 30 days at McDonald's and document the impact on his health.

Scores of cheeseburgers, hundreds of fries and dozens of chocolate shakes later, the formerly strapping 6-foot-2 New Yorker - who started out at a healthy 185 pounds - had packed on 25 pounds.

But his supersized shape was the least of his problems.

Within a few days of beginning his drive-through diet, Spurlock, 33, was vomiting out the window of his car, and doctors who examined him were shocked at how rapidly Spurlock's entire body deteriorated.

"It was really crazy - my body basically fell apart over the course of 30 days," Spurlock told The Post.

His liver became toxic, his cholesterol shot up from a low 165 to 230, his libido flagged and he suffered headaches and depression.
Conan: the RPG
Curious or Mysterious?

Translation blues... I kept referring to this show as Mysterious Play, but my mahal didn't know what I was talking about. After all, it was translated as "Curious Play" on AXN. But now I know where I got my version of the translated title. I was right too!
Robo Rally
Over the past weekend, the Gaming Bandit Crew all got a taste of an old, but addictive boardgame called RoboRally.

From the Unofficial Site at
RoboRally is a robot race game in which each player attempts to be the first to touch a series of flags by maneuvering a robot across a dynamic race course. The game is for two to eight players playing independently or on teams. Frequently, the race will mutate into multi-player skirmishes as those players who are behind use their weaponry in an attempt to slow the opposition. The simultaneous movement rules encourage clever strategies and counterstrategies as players try to second-guess their opponents.

I've had this game for a LOOOOOOONGGGGG TIME, but few folks to play it with. That has changed, apparently...