Saturday, February 13, 2016

TWBWDH: To Hell...(Maybe not back) Part 1

As most of The World's Best Worst Demon Hunters episodes start, we find our heroes chilling in the now chilly bunker under Centralia, Pennsylvania.  Lenny was playing video games in the Winnebago, Mark was making pancakes in the bunker kitchen, and Anne was resisting pent up urges over her growing lust for Kade in her room.  This was made harder when Kade came in and announced that he had an exciting job for them that was making him swell in anticipation.  Yes, the conversation actually went like that, except with more sex puns that either Kade didn't realize he was saying or played off very well.  Anne was flustered, we conference called Lenny in, because he didn't want to leave the Winnebago during daylight (because vampire), and Kade told us we were going to the Nether Realm.  
Of course, my brain immediately replaced Nether Realm with Nightosphere, coloring my entire perception of the whole ordeal we were about to face.

Lenny was told to stop playing video games while we discussed what was going on, so clearly he didn't. Mark was concerned, said it wasn't his bag, but was quickly swayed by the fact that we were getting payed a whole lot, and Anne looked forward to it.  The mission was to go to Miserachordia, the realm of Mephistopholes (because of course it was).  Now, the Nether Realm in Colt Regan is not actually Hell.  It's simply a series of connected planes where "demons" (technically extradimensional beings of various stripes) come from.  Miserachordia is mostly a ruined city-scape with pools of toxic waste and pollution everywhere.

"Like Detroit," Mark remarked.

"Like Detroit and Cincinnati had a child and it got all of the recessive genes," Kade replied.

We had to be there for possibly two weeks.  Mark and Anne bought cartons of cigarettes. Lenny realized he didn't have two weeks worth of clothes in his wardrobe.  Mark only packed five days worth of clothes but two weeks worth of underwear.  We realized that the video game situation in Miserachordia was pretty dire, and Lenny packed his Nintendo DS and a lot of battery packs.   Dr. Richard Thaddeus Block and Apocalypse Creed were mostly packed until Kade made a joke about packing extra socks to make sure we didn't get gangrene and Dr. Block decided he didn't want to chance a theory that Incubi couldn't get gangrene and ran back to his room to get more.

Necessary for any trip to the Nightosphere Nether Realm

Mr. Crow, our portal demon from the West Virginia Incident was due to come and open a portal for us, and he arrived at 7am.  Kade had woken us all up.  Mark was not happy about this and rolled back over in bed.  Lenny joked that he could carry Mark, so of course this episode's broment was Lenny carrying Mark to the meeting point in the bunker lobby.  Mark grumped around and drank coffee and was angsty, we waffled a few moments after the portal opened, and Mark decided that if he had to be miserable, he might as well be miserable in Miserachordia and was the first one through.

We were off to meet with some demons who had escaped experimentation by one of Mephistopholes's demon lieutenants and were trying to form a peaceful society.  Some of their scouts had disappeared, and we were to find the scouts.  Their encampment was a short hike from our portal, and we met a ragtag group of demons who sported mechanical augmentations or replacements for various and sundry body parts.  They informed us that every one of the demons they rescued were precious to their cause, to which Mark telepathically remarked to Lenny was most likely because all together they made up one whole demon.

Their leader, Jum, allowed Dr. Block to set up a station in their camp so that he could remotely monitor us over Bluetooth headsets.  We joked that he could hear us pee.  He professed not to have a pee pee fetish.  The jokes that he has a pee pee fetish are now clearly a thing we make on the reg.  We discovered that we had cell service, but figured the roaming would be Hell to pay.  Evidently, there is such a thing as a Fiends and Family plan offered by many cell carriers.  Roaming jokes were made, because all of us playing the game are call center veterans.  

It's the little bits of intrusive reality that lend Colt it's special brand of charm.

And then we set off into a blasted hellscape not dissimilar to Detroit after an apocalypse.  Mark lit a cigarette off of a gout of fire blasting through the concrete, Kade scouted ahead, we discovered that Lenny knows what a point man is because of video games, Mark and Anne brought up the middle, and Apocalypse Creed brought up the back and made sure that we were covered.  Our episode ends just outside of a ruined factory/hospital/meat processing plant as we readied ourselves to check out the dark and scary insides.  Because, y'know, cliffhanger and stuff.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

TWBWDH: Foreshadowing? Also Vampires and...the Mafia?

When we last left our heroes from The World's Best Worst Demon Hunters, they had narrowly escaped being turned into leech people in West Virginia.  After their harrowing adventure, they returned to the Centralia, PA base for some relaxation and recharging.  Anne had developed a giant crush on Kade Solas, our were-lizard host, so the episode started with her being awkward and blushing and him either not getting it or playing it off really well.  All that we really know is that now the base is uncomfortably cold, because the air conditioning has been turned up.  Everyone is chilly, except Anne, who is now super comfortable in the base (because, y'know, cryokinetic stuff).  Mark also bought Lenny a light-reflective sleeping bag so that they can wrap him up like a vampire burrito (vampurrito) and tote him around in the daylight if necessary.  There was an awkward broment when Lenny unwrapped his present.

But full of slightly uncomfortable vampire.  And maybe a spider.  Because Mark's an asshole.

Anne also got a steam cleaner and cleaned the entire Winnebago on the pretense that she wanted every trace of leech out of our house, but also probably because with two bachelor's living in it, she was afraid that if she turned on a black-light it would look like a Jackson Pollack painting (because we make Guardians of the Galaxy references).  Kade then found Mark the next day to give them a choice of different missions to go on.  Our choices were either going with Apocalypse Creed (the super macho Incubi) on a mission to kill a bunch of demons infesting an oil rig, go with Dr. Richard Thaddeus Block (our nerdy Incubi scientist friend) to investigate something that the Doctor was interested in, or take a highly lucrative mission to literally stand around at a vampire court to pad out numbers to make the Regeant of Chicago look more competent (with a 98% chance that none of us will get hurt to boot).

Now, Mark is greedy, self serving, and likes making Lenny uncomfortable.  Also fighting demons Doom style is totes not his bag, and following the Doctor around would be tedious.  He decided that the team would go stand around vampires for fun and profit.  Additionally, he didn't clear this with Lenny and Anne and just informed them that they were off to see vampires.  Lenny was sad and uncomfortable, Anne talked to Kade about it and found out Mark had been given options and was sad they couldn't go kill demons.  Secretly, both knew that this was the best mission (because it involved the most money), so they drove off to Chicago.  

Since road trips aren't complete without fast food, they decided to stop along the way.  Since they were in a Winnebago and going into fast food joints is for plebs, they had to find a drive thru that could accommodate the Winnie.  The first place they found was a White Castle in Ohio, pulled in, ordered, and then waited in the drive thru.  And waited.  And waited.  Lenny knocked on the drive thru window, and after nobody could be seen inside after ten minutes, we finally got impatient, Mark could only sense one life form inside, which he remarked wasn't unusual given the nature of most fast food workers.  They pulled around and went inside, because things seemed fishy.

Please note:  the following tale of terror is hardly the most horrible thing to have ever happened in a White Castle.  In fact, it isn't even the worst thing to happen in a White Castle's bathroom.  They're called "sliders" for a reason, folks.

Inside the White Castle, everybody was dead.  We could tell, because their organs and blood and body parts were literally all over everything.  Mark was disappointed that he wasn't getting dinner, Lenny went back to the Winnie for a shotgun, Anne pulled out her gun and started slowly walking behind the counter.  As Mark decided to get himself a Sprite from the soda machine, he heard a sobbing from the bathrooms, let Anne know, filled up his drink, and followed her towards the bathrooms with Lenny's backup.  

There was someone in the stall in the womens' room, but she wouldn't open the door.  Mark used his telepathic command abilities to make her open the door, because he was #over #it, and we found a terrorized female cashier who was probably around 19-20.  Mark called 911 while sipping his Sprite and having a cigarette on the front sidewalk, Anne comforted the girl, and Lenny told the rest of the disgruntled people in the drive-thru that they weren't getting their orders today.  The officers showed up, and Mark decided that the girl's non-verbal state was annoying and just decided to read her surface thoughts to tell the cops what happened.  

Fleshies, in the Colt Regan universe, are tall, emaciated, genderless naked human bodies with no eyes or noses, mouths full of razor teeth, and hands and feet with knife sized claws.  They generally work like feral fast zombies, aren't sentient, and aren't super graceful.  Everyone in the White Castle had been killed by a fleshie that was a graceful, intelligent killing machine.  It creeped Mark the fuck out, he asked the officers where the nearest Pizza place was, Lenny called Kade and let him know about the incident, we left statements, then drove down the road for really good New York style pizza.

Fleshies are kinda like this fucking thing from Pan's Labyrinth, just with more rage murder and less hand-eyes.

After that, we got to Chicago with no incident.  We met our contact at an arcade pub and were quickly ushered into the back where we met a vampire who was an actual Mafia stereotype.  He was even watching The Godfather.  He was nice, slightly threateneing, explained that the Regent of Chicago was meeting with some random even higher up vampire (I play Mark, and Mark isn't so big on details like this, so I forget them too), and the Regent wanted to appear more impressive so she basically wanted us to stand around, look fancy, and pad out her retinue.

The vampire we met with (he was called The Head of Fraternity) also asked Lenny about who made Lenny, and Lenny was an awkward baby vampire, because he's not really good at the whole vampire bit, because he was dumped before his ex girlfriend bothered telling him about it and he's been too busy playing video games since then to find out.  We  were told to visit a tailor on the house, given hotel rooms (and told not to go nuts with room service), and Lenny spent most of the night playing arcade games at the video arcade.  Mark ate a packet of nuts and left a note that he'd gone nuts with room service.

The next day, we visited a very nice tailor.  Lenny got a suit, Mark got nice clothes, and Annabelle got a red, sparkly flapper stripper dress.  We waited until dark, and decided we didn't want to roll up to a fancy event in a Winnebago.  Lenny suggested we call an Uber.  Mark said it'd be driven by a hipster vegan who'd pass out from low iron or something and kill them all.  We took a yellow cab instead.

In Mark's mind, this is secretly a gluten free death trap.

The vampires present (and our protagonists) were dressed in oddly 1920s reminiscent clothes, because the vampires in Chicago are pretty much the actual Mafia (because probably most of them started it or something).  One of them had a scary sith mask, and since Mark does things like this, Lenny explained via a telepathic three way call Mark set up that the scary dude was called an Ebon Gladius.  Mark said it was a good porn name.  We continued on to meet the other group of important vampires and stood around silently while they exchanged pleasantries.

Most of said pleasantries went way over our heads, because we're not vampires.  Something about an alternate dimension beyond the Wyrd, and "we need to investigate" and "we need to send someone expendable." They decided to talk to "Bathory" who was evidently the head of their group or clan or whatever.  Vampire politics in Colt Regan are hush hush to the uninitiated.  Of specific interest to Anne was the moment when she was offered as a snack to the visiting vampires.  We figured that was the 98% chance none of us would be harmed moment.  We were right, and luckily the visiting vamps decided they weren't hungry.  Incidentally, Mark figured out that she had a crush on Kade by snooping in her surface thoughts during this time.  That ammunition is sure to resurface later.

The "Bathory"mentioned is most likely Elizabeth Bathory.  Google her.  She's cool.

Afterwards, we met the Regent, and she exchanged pleasantries with us in a harsh, nasal, New York accent.  Evidently one of Lenny's sketchy cousins is in the NY branch of "the family."  She then showed us her hat trick where she disappeared into her reflection in the car mirror when she said farewell.  We saddled up the Winnebago, and then we headed back to Centralia.

Back in Centralia, we found Dr. Richard Thaddeus Block who waved a photo of the creeptastic fleshie that Mark had seen in the fast food girl's memory.  Evidently, the non-existent (possibly erased from existence) former science lab he'd worked for had been imprisoning it.  It was a noted serial killer, and it usually let one victim live, but that one victim always committed suicide later, potentially under some sort of mental control.  Mark feared for his life, Anne flirted with Kade more, and we ended the night with Dr. Block offering Mark some pills to deal with his fear.  Mark declined, let the Doctor know about his addiction, but the fact that there are drugs in the building may raise it's ugly head again.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

TWBWDH: The Florida Incident & Leeches in West Virginia

Two blog posts in a day!?  Ludicrous!  But I have a session backlog from the Colt Regan game that Eric is running for Brandie, Robert, and I, an I've decided I want to chronicle it, because it's really fun and pulpy, and I need to write more.  I might eventually, given the mental fortitude, chronicle some of the other games we've been playing too, but no promises.

When we last left,..those guys, Mark the Telepath, Lenny the Vampire, and Anne the Cryokinetic wer in a bunker underground accepting a job offer to investigate really weird supernatural stuff from a blonde dude who Mark found out was a were-lizard, two incubi, and a dead gun.  Think more X-files, less Supernatural.  We'd said yes, and started the episode with Mark and Lenny getting to know Anne a bit more by them snarking about her with telepathy, forgetting about telepathy and mouthing things to each other in her plain view, then remembering and switching back to telepathy.  The incubus doctor then proceeded to hit on all of us, but especially the boys, Anne to mention that they were a couple, then the boys to break that notion by saying they were just bros.  The incubus doctor left it completely clear that he'd sleep with either of them, and we let it slide.

This is the combined home, fratpad, and means of transportation for two of our intrepid heroes.

The boys retired to the Winnebago for the night, and Brandie (playing Anne) missed perfect moments for Frozen references when Apocalypse Creed asked her if she wanted a blanket.  She said she doesn't get cold.  A real cryokinetic would have said that "the cold doesn't bother me anyways."  I reminded her of this.  The next morning, Anne got thirsty watching our host in a pair of form revealing sweatpants, microwaved her coffee after it got cold, and got a job for us delivering a package to a recluse in West Virginia.  Whether the person just didn't like people or was a were-spider was left unclear in the instructions.  This is an important distinction in Colt Reagan.  

Also of note, there was a first reference to what Lenny and Mark refer to only as "the Florida Incident."  We have no clue what happened in Florida, but it's fun to refer to then tell Anne "it's too long a story right now," every time something really random happens.  At this stage, the mention was about giant tarantulas.  

Less traumatizing than the Florida Incident, evidently...

Mark put on pants, Lenny hopped into the driver's seat of the Winnebago, and we set off to West Virginia.  Lenny played Top 40 radio to make Anne think he was normal and cover up the goth dweeb-ness that is integral to his soul and died a little more inside.  Then we got hideously lost in the back woods of West Virginia.  Then we started running low on gas.  Y'know, classic horror stuff.  Eric was coming through in spades.  

As we reached a point where we couldn't even turn back and make it to the last gas station any more, we found a "town."  By "town," Eric meant a few buildings around the road that began and ended within a few blocks of each other.  Luckily, there was a building that had a gas pump out front, and we pulled in.  Since it was daylight, Mark hopped out to discover that even though it was only 6PM, the gas station was closed.  There was a light on in the attached house, and Mark started knocking annoyedly on the door.  Anne hopped out and mentioned that worst case scenario we could just sleep in the Winnebago and wait for them to open.  An old woman in a bathrobe yelled from across the street that the whole town closes at 5PM and that the station owner sleeps in "one of them sensory deprivation tanks 'cause he got a nasty temper on him and it calms him down."  Y'know, because that's not creepy as fuck.  Also, Mark noticed that there were leeches all over the walls of the building and accepted that he was going to die here.

The old lady also said that there was a diner down the road that was open "real late until abouts nine o'clock."  Anne and Mark left Lenny to his videogames and walked down the road to the diner.  Anne mentioned that she was worried about leaving the Winnebago to which Mark replied, "why?  There's a fucking vampire in it."  Lenny complained about lack of cellular signal to himself.  

More or less what we were in front of.

The bar had three patrons and a creepy proprietor who hit on Anne.  Mark ordered a "cheez brgr with fixns" off the menu and Anne ordered some "frys" and a shot of whiskey.  We sat in a booth, and Mark decided to try to use his telepathy and psychokinesis on the place to figure out why it all felt so wrong.  Again, I thanked my fore-planning that I had a high focus check.  The room was full of non-sentient or maybe sentient psychometric static and might have had seven walls where there should have been four, and he turned his spidey senses off before he overloaded.  We decided to get the food to go and high tailed it back to the Winnebago.  

Meanwhile, Lenny had found a leech on his foot.  When throwing it outside, he felt something watching him, and decided to ignore it and do laundry and listen to VNV Nation to drown out his sudden fear of being alone.  We came back to the Winnebago to Lenny panicking slightly, and decided to just drive as far as we could, hope we could get cell service, call AAA, hope they sent enough cars to satiate the evil town and let one get through to us in a couple weeks.  

However, because the Colt Regan RPG is built to encourage fun, Robert had taken the "lemon" flaw when he had purchased the Winnebago, and it decided to not start.  Panick started setting in, and even though it was dusk, Lenny decided to go outside and pop the hood to fix the engine so that we didn't have to die by spending a night in the creeptastic town.  Anne shut herself in the Winnebago, Lenny discovered that the engine was covered in leeches, and Mark held a rainbow beach umbrella (the cool black one met its end in The Florida Incident) so that Lenny didn't get sunburn and chainsmoked.  

I did make the comment that leeches suck a few times during this session...

About the time Lenny had figured out the engine, he felt that he was being watched again, bundled us all into the Winnebago again, and we took off.  Mark heated up a plastic travel mug of AB+ for Lenny to calm him down (the mug had a picture of a puppy and a kitten and said "best buds"). As the gas gauge started reading completely empty, we saw the lights of a town up ahead, and coasted up to an all too familiar gas station.  After a brief argument over whether we had turned enough to go in a big circle (we hadn't), we coasted about a mile out of town and hunkered down to wait for daylight.  

Out solitude didn't last long.  Something slammed into the side of the Winnebago and started trying to flip it, knocking Mark over, and causing Lenny to go full on game face and shooting out of the bus in a blink, fangs and teeth out and full of vampiric rage.  This impressive fury was undermined, however, as his voice cracked when he screamed "Stop hurting my Winnebago!"  Outside was a creepy, super strong redneck doing his damndest to flip our vehicle.  The man took a swing at Lenny, and Lenny, tired of this shit, eviscerated him with one claw swipe.

Now, Vampires in Colt Regan, especially with many of the traits that Lenny has, are murder machines.  However, all the claws and vampiric strength that Lenny could muster don't do much against a meat sack full of leeches.  Luckily, Anne used her cryokinesis to freeze it in a block of ice, buying us a few minutes.  

Cryokinetics: keeping a cool head since forever.

We tried texting our employer, but signal was not awesome, and he was really far away, and at the rate we were going, we weren't going to survive the night.  In our rearview, we saw the lights of a truck approaching, and settled in for another fight.  Two more rednecks (one being the bartender from earlier) got out, one had an axe, and they started pounding on the door of the Winnebago.  This is when Mark yet again proved that he is the kind of white person who dies in horror movies and decided to use his telepathy on the man.  

After being mentally blasted with non-euclydian geometry and managing to pull away with a splitting headache and his sanity still intact, one of the men smashed through the window.  Lenny full on vamp raged and ripped the man's throat out with his teeth.  He ate a mouthful of leeches and got blood back, which was gross, and then Anne went full on Bobby Drake and shredded both of our assailants with razor sharp icy wind.  Cryokinetics are useful and stuff.  

Lenny, still pissed that his Winnebago was damaged, decided that he was going to take the fight to the town.  There was a touching broment where he handed the keys to the truck the leech people had driven up in to Mark and told him to get as far away as possible and Mark flailed to try to find a way to take his best bro with him.  "The second the sun comes up, I'll be ash," Lenny said.  "UV rays go right through a blanket."  Mark decided to go with his friend.  Anne was already in for the ride.  Like movie badasses, they loaded up the pickup with gas cans and drove into town just in time to see a yellow robed figure standing in the middle of the street in front of the gas station.

Minus tentacles.  Plus leeches.

We tried to run it over, but it disappeared then reappeared behind us.  Mark grabbed lighter fluid and a grill lighter, we pulled up to the pump, and all hopped out.  Mark was on gas duty, Anne froze the parking lot and broke into the gas station to find the "on" switch for the pump, and Lenny, still vamped out, stood between us and the yellow robed...thing shuffling at us.  Anne found that the inside of the gas station was full of leeches and turned the place into a snow globe.  Mark started pumping when she found the on switch, and Lenny realized that the thing in yellow was literally a pile of leeches underneath a yellow robe.  We all accepted death.

As Mark filled the first gas can, the thing held a giant leech out to Lenny.  Luckily, Robert rolled well and shook off the compulsion to accept the gift.  He started spraying lighter fluid on the thing then lit it on fire, uttering the suitable awful one liner, "I may not be Mark, but that's a sick burn."  We all groaned.  Brandie felt bad for the leeches, marking the first time ever that someone has felt bad for lighting an avatar of Hastur on fire. 

Driving back to the Winnebago, we saw a person standing next to our ride.  It was a Native American looking portal demon named Mr. Crow who our boss had called in a favor to get us out of dodge.  He opened up a portal to his garage in Wyoming.  We spent the night, his wife fed us, and Mr. Crow fixed the Winnebago up.  The next day, we wished Mr. Crow farewell and drove back to West Virginia using normal roads to finish our task.

We dropped off the package for a reclusive were-mosquito on the run from Los Chupacabras, a Mexican gang of were-mosquitos, and returned back to home base for our next mission ending that night's session.  

The World's Best Worst Demon Hunters

Hi everyone.  It's been a hot minute since I updated.  Truth is, I've been busy, unmotivated, and lazy, but I have been playing some cool games with a bunch of fantastic people, and decided to at least somewhat revive the old blog so that I could share neat shit on the internet again.  I've been lucky enough to have a steady group with three other fantastic people who share much of the same opinions on what makes roleplaying awesome as i do.  They also have a homebrew system created by the excellent Eric J. Chucci and The Boy (Robert to the uninitiated). It is called Colt Regan which is based on the books that Eric J. Chucci wrote.  Those books are incidentally the Colt Reagan series, which can be found on Amazon.  If you like pulpy modern horror/fantasy, then they're a good read. They're the book version of if Die Hard crossed over to True Blood with some of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer's pithy fun added in and a mythology that rivals White Wolf's Old World of Darkness.


Hypnoblogger says buy now and give a cool dude enough money to buy some Taco Bell or something.

Now, when I started playing with Eric, Robert, and Eric's lovely wife and my good friend, Brandie, Eric and Robert were testing the system limits to eventually release it as a book.  We played a bunch of not Colt Reganverse stuff, like in space and a parallel Colt Reganverse and D&D 5th edition.  Additionally, Eric had DM (Demon Master, suck it Wizards)-ed himself out of Colt for a while, but recently, he decided to run a game in the Colt-verse for us.  I was excited.  Mostly because Eric is a great DM, and I love modern supernatural horror/fantasy.  He also promised cryptids and horror stuff which are my faves.

The Colt-verse is basically the modern world, but there's supernatural stuff that is widely known.  Vampires have public representation, Therianthropes are widely known about and walk among us, many humans have developed kinesises (so they can like throw things with their mind and raise the dead), and demons travel back and forth from the various outside places they live and chill on Earth for a while.  It's not beyond uncommon for the bartender to have horns and a tail and the server to have fangs.  People can get "hunting licenses" to be bounty hunters and kill rouge supernatural things, but a lot of the hunters are supernaturals as well.  It's a blast.  I'm not 100% sure on everything, because I'm a bad friend and haven't read all of the books yet because of craziness at work, but I've gotten a lot of the down low from Eric and Robert.

Incidentally, their homebrew system is D12 based and is actually really good and easy to use.

I made a character named Mark.  Mark is a nice upper middle class guy from upstate New York who happens to be a Telepath.  He can read surface thoughts, talk in people's brains, and also has a bunch of psychometric powers so that when he touches stuff he can tell the item/person's history.  He also can share sensations, so he can make people feel like they've been shot and stuff.  It's cool, he wears gloves so that he doesn't get TMI.  Mark went to medical school and turned to stealing pain meds to deaden the psychometric sensations he got from patients.  Then he was found out, barred from practicing medicine, went to rehab, was disowned by his waspish family, and currently lives in a Winnebago with his friend, Lenny.

Lenny is a vampire played by Robert.  He and Mark were roommates in college back when Lenny was a human and an unbearable little whiny goth kid.  Despite this, Lenny and Mark became (un)lifelong bros. When Mark was doing his internships, Lenny met a vampire chick named Selina (or something like that), convinced her to turn him, then she dumped him causing (un)lifelong emotional damage.  Mostly now he lives in his Winnebago, drinks blood bags, and plays videogames, and pretends he doesn't secretly still wish Tripp pants were cool again.  He's also a sincerely good friend and has taken a broken and flailing Mark under his wing, despite the fact that Mark's a bit of a cocky, snarky asshole.

The two of them decided that to get Lenny off the couch and give Mark something to do, they'd become paranormal investigators and do demon hunting shit.  The story begins with their Winnebago pulling up to what the DM (Eric) described as "do you remember the cabin from Evil Dead?" after answering a Craig's List add that said that "My cabin is evil.  I'll pay you $1000 to make it not evil."

Also, it was night, so it looked more evil.

There was a car that had pulled in a little ahead of them, and a tall, blonde, severe looking woman in a suitjacket had gotten out.  Brandie introduced her character as Annabelle (Anne), a cryokinetic who had started her own supernatural investigation business after her husband left her destitute and living on her parents' couch in the divorce.  Mark finished his cigarette, they decided to split the $1000, because secretly none of them really wanted to go into the house, Anne produced a bundle of sage from her trunk, and Mark, cocksure of his abilities, took off his glove and touched the house to find out how evil it really was.

Fortunately, my Focus check (Colt's version of both Concentration and Will save) is extremely high, because the house was, in fact, evil.  And possibly dead.  Mark decided to keep the gloves on after this.  There had also been a man with wings on his head, a blonde man, and a deer with a human face in the house recently, although they seemed to have left.  Mark conveyed this information, Anne calmly walked through the door.  Mark and Lenny followed, although Lenny was vocal about not liking any of this like the dweeb he is.  Having the lowest willpower, started screwing with Lenny.  Dark ichor dripped down the walls, although only he could see it, and he decided to go back outside and find the generator to turn on the lights in the house.  As he left, the house whispered to him that he was going to die there.

While Lenny was finding the generator and figuring out how to get it running, Mark and Anne were poking around in every nook and cranny like the white people that always die in horror movies that they are.  Mark decided that there has to be a basement, because there's always a basement and that's where the evil always is, so he started stomping around trying to find a trap door.  Pragmatically, Anne raided the closets, found a cute, old Dr. Pepper t-shirt, and stuffed it into her purse.  By the time Lenny had figured out how to get the generator working and come back inside by tumbling ungracefully through the window, because he'd decided that the door was evil, we'd become certain there was no basement.  Mark announced that the evil must be in the attic, because that was the most logical place left.

To Lenny, and only Lenny, the walls were still bleeding.

They found the hatch to the attic, and Lenny, using his vampire muscles, boosted Mark up to pry it open.  Mark said a brotastic, "thanks, babe."  Their banter and comfortability manhandling each other prompted Anne to ask how long they've been a couple.  Lenny responded that, "they've been together since college," and they left things at that since Mark had gotten the attic door open.  This caused confusion for Anne in the second session, since nobody disillusioned her of her assumption that she was working with a cute, gay, demon hunting couple.  

There was nothing but a creepy mannequin in the attic.  Getting bored of the house, they decided to just purify it by sprinkling around McDonalds salt packets, burning sage, and Lenny performing his goth purifying ritual which basically involved praying under his breath to the power of Bahaus, Siouxie Sioux, and Maynard James Keenan and hoping nobody heard him (in Colt, a big part of exorcisms is just believing something will work hard enough).  Mark felt the spirit roll it's incorporeal eyes and leave the house out of sheer annoyance that these fucking n00bs had managed to stave off it's evil, and he declared it clean.  

Robert Smith, driving out evil spirits for angsty goth kids since we clapped to believe in him.

Anne called the number from the Craigslist add, which was answered by a man saying to meet his associate outside.  We walked outside to find a deer with a human face and backwards knees that started mentally screaming wordless noise at us then introduced herself telepathically as Wishes the Stalker.  Understandably, Anne had her gun drawn, and Lenny had fangs bared.  She then explained that this was a test to find new investigators to be hired for a bigger supernatural investigations group, and she would love it if we went to their home base and accepted the job.  Also, we had to go to the home base to get paid.  She mentally implanted the address in our brains before skipping off into the woods.

Incidentally, the address was in Centralia, Pennsylvania (yes, that Centralia), and we were in Michigan.  One road trip later, and Anne beat the boys to the town by about an hour, because her car is better than Lenny's shitty Winnebago.  She was stopped by the road guard, told that she had to leave her car and walk in and she had to be out by sundown.  She skated off on a path of ice she made with her cryokinetic powers.  An hour later, the boys pulled up, and got to drive in, because Mark told the guard he was dying of cancer and seeing Centralia was on his bucket list.  

Welcome to Centralia, population:our adventurers, like 10 people, and maybe Pyramid Head.

Since it was daylight, Lenny stayed in the Winnebago, and Mark set off into the address, which was an abandoned hotel.  He met Anne in the lobby, where she had waited for them, and a voice came over the intercom for them to get into the elevator and go to the bottom floor.  Because they're the kind of white people that die in horror movies, they hopped into the elevator and pushed the button for the sub-basement.  Luckily, this is a roleplaying game and not a horror movie, because they entered into a nice bunker and met the blonde man that Mark had seen with his psychokinesis at the cabin. He explained that he was forming a supernatural investigation's firm that looked into and cataloged and looked into the weirder aspects of the supernatural world.  He'd pay them pretty well.

They also met an eccentric and brilliant incubus doctor (incubi and succubi have small head wings, so Mark had seen him at the cabin too) who worked with the group.  A second, very manly incubus with chest hair named Apocalypse Creed opened a secret entrance hatch for Lenny so that he could get inside without burning up while Mark snagged a maple creamstick from the office box of doughnuts, and the three decided to join up.  Mark discovered that their new boss had a gun that was actually dead...somehow (thanks telepathy), and we wrapped up the session.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Sample Character Looks Just Like Me

My ten year old brother is excitedly flipping through the 5th Edition Player's Handbook.  He is excited A) because it's D&D and B) he found a sample character that "looks like him," and wants to see if there are more.  My ten year old brother is adopted, and he is African American (or whatever the PC term is this week), and he is telling me how he likes this book more than other editions, because it has black people in it so he can play a "normal" person when I let them play this time so he doesn't have to play a half-orc.  Oh, and can we play D&D tonight?  He really wants to play, and it warms my heart.  His enthusiasm is simultaneously wonderful and tinged with a bittersweet emotion for me.  He is excited because this edition has people who look like him.

There are people who look like him.

This is the character he now wants to play.

Now I'm going to say some stuff that sounds scattered, but will (hopefully) eventually make sense.

Earlier today, I read a  John Wick article on what makes an RPG, and my brain was titillated, and it made me rethink what rules I would slavishly follow and think about focusing on telling stories, and it was good.  Then I found a link to an RPG Pundit article basically saying that John Wick's article is wrong and bought into the sense of small and pointless outrage that John Wick could dare call D&D not an RPG.  Then I posted John Wick's article to my Facebook so that a few of my friends who like RPGs and discussing RPGs could see it and hopefully get out of it what I got out of it, then two of my friends mentioned that the pontificating done in the article was similar to the pointless pontificating done in academia.  Then they told me to write a blog about it, so I am.

Several months ago, Zak S. of Playing D&D With Porn Stars and being-a-name-inside-the-5th-edition-book fame and I (and a few people who have opinions I respect) had a disagreement in the comments on a blog post I made.  Now, I will fully admit that my blog was not as well thought out, worded, and constructed as I want it to be.  Also, not everything Zak S said was wrong.  And not everything I said was wrong.  However, both of us (and the other people commenting) got stuck on being "right" and ignored the point.  The point I was trying to make was that we shouldn't make people feel like they don't belong and scare them away from something that could be awesome for them.

As an interim: several of my younger siblings are now crowded around the Player's Handbook.  They are looking at the picture of the druid, who is the only character in the book who is wearing, essentially, a fur bikini.  My thirteen year old sister asked if she can have a tiger like the druid lady, but she didn't want to have to wear the fur bikini.  She wants armor like the Paladin, because a fur bikini isn't good to fight in.  My thirteen year old sister is wearing a shirt that is too tight and jeans that are too tight, and I ask her if the druid might just be wearing the fur bikini for fashion.  She says yes, but that she still wants the armor, and she can wear a bikini under that in case she needs it to be on a runway.  That prompts a discussion of if they can design their own clothes for their characters.  I say yes, and I'm sure there will be artwork by the time I visit again next weekend.  The point is that a thirteen year old understands that fur bikinis have no place on a battlefield.  The point is also that a thirteen year old might want a character in a fur bikini, but also knows that there is a time and a place for it.

Some barbarian princesses might like to feel sexy some of the time...

I have a bachelor's degree in English.  I do not want a master's degree.  I do not want to continue my education with a graduate program (at least right now).  Mostly, it's because I'm sick of academia.  There are lots of interesting and useful things taught in academia, and I loved most of my college courses.  There are also lots of pointless things in academia that mostly boil down to people trying to feed their egos and separate themselves from other people and build up ivory towers.  That is why I decided not to continue my education.  It is also what I hate most in RPG conversations.  See, I love ideas.  I love big ideas, small ideas, and middling ideas.  Creativity is awesome, and thus things that breed creativity are awesome.  

Being an asshat about why your creativity is best is not awesome.  

I love a lot of what D. Vincent Baker has added to the RPG industry.  Dogs in the Vineyard is an awesome thought exercise and presses the limits of what RPG mechanics can do.  The thought processes that the game espouses has influenced some of my conflict crafting in RPGs I've since run, and my friend and longtime GM, Jacob, used a version of it in a few of us playing out world creation in a fun thought exercise.  His focus on the story part of story games is laudable. 

I hate a lot of what D. Vincent Baker has added to the RPG industry.  Dogs in the Vineyard is an awesome thought exercise that devolves into pedantic preaching about how some types of gaming are badwrongfun.  It makes the book frustrating to read.  It makes you feel bad about liking certain aspects of roleplaying or annoyed that someone thinks the parts of roleplaying you enjoy are not things that should be enjoyed.  

Similarly, I still read Zak S's blog.  I read RPG Pundit's blogs.  I read John Wick's blog.  I read (and sometimes even engage in discussion there), and I read (or otherwise engage in) various and sundry other places where RPG conversation can be found.  They all have good ideas. 

They all have good ideas.  

They also all devolve into pedantic, angry, dickish, and obnoxious bickering over how people are having badwrongfun or arguing over social issues that should be solved by people just being nice to each other and treating each other like people.

I realize that I get on my soapbox from time to time.  It's something I need to work on.  It's also something that the RPG community in general needs to deal with.  RPGs are about having fun, sharing ideas, creating stories, and playing a game with other people.  They're about a the joy of discovery of a ten year old dressed as Spiderman telling me that he wants to do that awesome fire dragon spell he saw in the Sorceror section of the Player's Handbook.  It's also the joy of discovery of a twenty-seven year old nerd finding someone's writeup on goblins living on ceilings and speaking backwards on a blog written by a pornstar who plays D&D with a distinctly unique group of coworkers. 

The edition warring and backlash over who consulted on what is negative energy that would be much, much, much better used by encouraging someone's sense of creativity and pushing each other to make more cool things.  Someone encouraged someone to make the black fighter in the D&D Player's Handbook, and it's sent ripples through my little siblings (two of whom are black) as they now have a new source of inspiration.  They now know that there are people like them in this game, that fur bikinis are okay, but mostly impractical, and are one step closer to realizing that only their imaginations are the limit.  They now know that this is something they can be included in. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Benedict Cumberbat and Little Tiny Hugh Jackman Abs

The recap of this latest session has been delayed by work, sleep, and general laziness.  We had to meet a little earlier in the day, most of us had worked a lot that week, and many of us had a rough week in general, so about an hour and a half at the start of the game was spent de-stressing, leveling up (from last week), detoxing from life being generally tough, and shooting the breeze.  That led to a chatty and not overly focused session of gaming, which isn't bad in general, and honestly was what most of us needed (I think).  However, that means this is going to be a shorter than usual blog.  People leveling meant Aaron, Caelin, and Tracy got to pick their class specialties.  Aaron surprised me by picking Oath of the Ancients for his Paladin oath, meaning he's all about protecting life and light and liberty now, which I think will be a cool turning point for his character.  Caelin waffled over choosing between Necromancy and Evocation, but settled on Evocation, because she likes blowing things up.  Tracy picked Circle of the Moon so that her druid could wild shape better.  I look forward to what she is going to think up to turn into.

What we all hope Caelin will be doing in a few levels.

We started the session with everyone walking through the woods.  Tracy announced that the pet goblin dogs we picked up last session were named Sharpwizzle, Fizzlewrench, and Pepperrocket, which she evidently got from a random goblin name generator.  Because I decided that due to the scattered nature of everyone's mood we shouldn't go for a more freeform and loose encounter that I had planned, I announced that it was raining badly, and everyone decided their characters wanted to get out of the rain very much (especially Eric, because his character is shrouded in layers of carpets and cloths and he didn't want to be a wet blanket...badum tshhhh).  As a GM, I was kind enough to provide them with a ruined tower in the wilderness.  

This raised all sorts of questions, because a ruined tower in a storm at night is obviously a hook for a GM to do bad things to the players.  However, the rain was "really coming down hard, guys, and there is no sign of letting up," so they decided to go into the tower.  The top of the tower had mostly crumbled in.  Tracy used a spell to make a "scary noise" within the tower, which led to some good natured druids-are-all-hippies jokes about ghostly voices telling people to shave their armpits and saying Aaaaaannnnn Couuuulllterrrrrrr and Rrrrreeeppuuuuublicaaaaaans.  I told them that in response to the sound, some bats and a disgruntled owl flew out of the tower.  Caelin misheard me, and thought I said Benedict Cumberbatch flew out of the tower, and then found a picture of Benedict Cumberbatch's face photoshopped on a bat, which caused a lot of hilarity.

I am darkness!  I am the night!

Amid general joviality, they entered the tower.  The top of the tower had fallen in, so they descended to the lower level which consisted of a main room with a smaller room with a well, and a room that was mostly caved in off it.  They managed to get the Barrys (the taxidermized chimera heads) down the stairs in their wheelbarrow, and the party decided to poke around and make sure there wasn't anything that was going to kill them/treasure in the abandoned basement of a ruined tower.  Eric covered up the well after everyone joked about pulling a Pippin in the Mines of Moria and dropping a rock down it.  The rest of the party decided to break open a moldy box in the corner hoping to find...I dunno, rupees or something.  They found splinters, moldy grain, and a desiccated rat corpse. 

They decided to sleep, and Eric took watch because his character doesn't sleep.  This led to some jokes about what he does while the party sleeps (mostly about him braiding Aaron's dwarf's beard and whispering creepily).  He did none of those things.  Everyone slept around the baby fire elemental they'd "liberated" from the house they found Barry in.  Sal, the fire elemental, was named Sal, because it's the first three letters of "salamander."  Tracy likes naming things.  The goblin dogs slept piled up in a corner and smelled like wet dog more than usual.  The Barrys slept in the wheelbarrow by the stairs in case a quick escape was necessary.

Eric also evidently puts hair-bows in Aaron's dwarf beard too...

As people slept, Eric saw a set of eyes peer out from a crevice in the collapsed room.  He tossed a bit of bread at it, cast a spell of light in the room, and was greeted by about a dozen sets of eyes staring out from the rubble.  A bunch of Nuglub gremlins attacked, and got the drop on everyone as they started waking up, because Eric was yelling.  Brandie, being small, was grappled, and a nuglub started dragging her to the well room.  Another nuglub had done the same with a dog too, and the rest started attacking the party and trying to throw blankets over them to tangle them up.  I made the mistake of describing them as "little men with claws and big manes of black hair," which made Caelin think of little tiny Hugh Jackmans with little tiny abs which further derailed the game.  

Nuglubs look nothing like Hugh Jackman, just for the record.

People killed Nuglubs, Aaron started smiting, Brandie critted a nuglub like a badass, Eric cleared off a few that were coming down the stairs, and Tracy found out that she couldn't cast Entangle in places with no plants and decided to find a good florist to get some potted plants later.  Caelin is not a very wizardy wizard, and went full barbarian smashy smash with her quarterstaff, and it mostly paid off while the Barrys cheered them on.  Eric climbed the stairs to see if there was more out there, and saw something moving in the shadows.  It was a giant, centipede-ish creature that looked like a human centipede version of the critters they were fighting.  

Aaron even made me a picture of it.

It scuttled into the room on the ceiling, grabbed Tracy, then Aaron smote it, Brandie (riding Eric, because that's what happens when there is a gnome in the party) stabbed it, Caelin smashed some more Nuglubs, and Tracy got dropped then put a javelin through the Great Nuglub's face which killed it.  Caelin killed the last Nuglub, and they rejoiced in being alive.  Brandie found that she could worm her way into the collapsed room, and the other party members moved some rubble to get in as well.  They found dead, gnawed on bodies of of other travelers, a silver ring, a silver sword, and a lot of money.  Then we ran out of time, so we'll pick up later and hopefully be more on track.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How To Be A Highly Functional Lazy GM

Running a game is hard work.  Before you, dear reader, say "well duh" and just scroll to read my picture captions, understand that I am saying this out of a cathartic quasi-bitching that I'm not playing a game currently (and wish I was), but am amazingly happy to be GMing, because it is rewarding and fun. It's just fun in a completely different way from playing.  Also, saying that running a game is hard gives weight to the fact that it actually is.  I have never had a sustainedly (not just a few good moments) good time in a game where the Dungeon Master didn't actually put in quite a bit of work.  In fact, I've never been in a good campaign where the DM's work didn't fully eclipse the work put in by all the players combined.  That is a scary revelation for people running games everywhere, especially people like me who are inherently lazy as hell.

One of the several sins of which I am a fan.  The other is using the fuck word which is evidently my favorite word tonight.  #sorrynotsorry

Gamemastering feels out of control.  No matter how prepared you are, no matter your improv skills, knowledge of the setting, rules ken, and how well you know your players, they are going to out-think you, throw you curve balls, and just end up being obstinate.  Corralling roleplayers is like herding cats, and no matter how smart you are, it's almost certain that the combined intelligence of your players is greater than yours.  This article was inspired by the latest Two Nerds Podcast about running a game, and, in the spirit of this being a blog about Gamemastering, I figured I'd lay down some fat wisdom from my time as a lazy and seat of the pants Gamemaster.  Here's the golden rule:

Save yourself time and work whenever you can

I swear I'm prepping for next session.  Serious.

You can totally work yourself to death planning a game.  One of the biggest DMing pitfalls I've ever fallen into is making an entire world down to the minutiae of naming random NPCs and giving them more backstory than your players will ever afford their characters.  The worst part of this is that making a world on that level is awesome.  Seriously, so much fun.  All of the fun.  I have entire worlds in binders all over my bedroom, because it's cathartic and neat.  The issues with this are sixfold:

1) Your players will never love your world as much as you do, or at least for the reasons you do.
2) They will inevitably fuck it up.
3) You will never get them to experience everything you want them to.
4) Even if you do, they won't experience it exactly the way you want them to.
5) They won't take it as seriously as you and will make fun of something you thought was awesome.
6) You should be more attached to the characters than the world.

The last point is the most important.  Having a DM rooting for the NPCs is a surefire way of pissing players off and derailing a game.  The PCs are the heroes.  They are the focus of the story.  Everything else is the stage on which they...well, do whatever fuckery PCs do.  Therefore, the story should focus on what the PCs are doing, where the PCs are, and what their goals are.  That doesn't mean that outside forces shouldn't pressure them.  If there weren't outside forces pressuring them, there would be no need for a DM, but you don't need to plan High Priest Whothefuckcares's last words as he dies to the great evil that the PCs are going to fight about three months in gametime later.  Just having a plot point that "this badass demon killed a high priest and is going to LOL about it to the party" is good enough.  You don't need to plot the demon's exploits pre-encounter.  Just make up a list of like 5 bullet points (such as "tempted the Murder Queen, Ivanna Killemal") and just have him ramble random impressive sounding shit.  You don't need a paragraph, or, heaven forbid, a five page paper on each little thing.  Your players won't notice.  They want to kill the fucking demon (and possibly take his stuff, depending on genre).

Now, here's the rub.  You're the DM.  Your players expect you to have full knowledge of the world.  Most will expect you to have detailed the world in exacting OCD details, and, for the most part you want them to think that, because it has the fun effect of making it seem like you know what you're doing.  Players fuck around more when they don't think the DM knows what they are doing.  It's like they sense uncertainty and push boundaries, because that's human nature.  There's a very delicate line between not having a clue what's over the next hill, because you didn't plan it, but having something to do in case the players decide to run over there.  

Your reaction when your players run completely off script.

That is why you have lazy play aids that make it easy to improv when invariably the game goes somewhere far away from anything you ever imagined or planned.  The easiest one, and the one I use the most is a list of (semi) random names.  It is something I need to bust out again for this current game I'm running, because, even though I'm usually great at coming up with names on the fly, I ended up naming a taxidermized chimera Barry.  Now, that didn't end up so bad, because it added a sense of Douglas Adamsian whimsey to the already...whimsical I guess...theme of the game so far, but imagine getting into a throne room to meet a really important king and just being all "I dunno guys, I guess his name's Herbert."  It's not good.  

A key aspect of the name list is to not make it unpronounceable or redundant.  Broadsiding players with Xxanadrizzithinia'tkul the barmaid is not cute.  Go with easier names like Deor, Geoffrey, or Sophia that are (or at least similar to) real world names that people may have heard.  They're pronounceable, easily remembered by players, and you'll remember it too, because you need to.  Your players will remember everything you think they won't, so make sure you remember it too.  Also, while Deor son of Beor son of Jeor is cool, don't overuse it (redundancy).  If every NPC in your game has a name that starts with the letter "A," your players will notice and call you out on it.  It takes some work for the list, but it will save you so much work in the long run.

Don't let this be you.

Making lists of names for small towns, cities, marshes, forests, etc can also be useful, and maybe make a terrain feed list as well.  Terrain feeds are just a list of terrain types (forests, swamps, plains, deserts, etc) you want to use, and then listing what can adjoin each other (forests can be next to swamps and plains, deserts can be near mountains and plains) so that you don't have a swamp in the middle of a desert, because your players will ask a lot of questions that really don't have a lot to do with the plot.  Also, lists of professions/shops in a town can be useful.  Some of these lists can be adapted to roll on for random results if you are so inclined.  All this saves you from having to plot every aspect of the world out as you go and allows it to grow organically as the players decide to visit things outside the normal tourist attractions.

I have said that you should not detail the world in exacting minutiae, because your players won't care about at least half of it.  There is, however, a surefire way to make up world stuff with your players that they will actually care about and will matter.   Not only that, you can make them do almost all the work for you.  Just meet up with them and discuss their characters' backstories.  Discuss, collaborate, delve, and write shit down.  Not all the players need to give you a Big Bad Evil Guy (BBEG) or complete plot.  All you need is one, and then the rest of the players can give you some random crap about the backwater town they came from that you can use to flesh out the world.  It's also helpful to hook in reticent roleplayers.  If the guy who is hesitant about roleplaying is put into a situation where you tell him that the town they're in has a festival his character remembers from his farming village in his childhood, then he has a hook he can latch onto.  This will also inform you of where the players want a game to go.  If you plot a big save the world plot and the players want to dungeon delve, you can pick up on that from the meet up and re-calibrate.  

Now, meeting up with the players sounds like a bunch of actual work as does remembering the stuff they come up with.  The first part shouldn't be so bad.  I'd assume that you actually like the people you play with.  You're probably friends with them in real life.  That means you should spend quality time with them (says the man who plans to spend at least the next 24 hours only interacting with his computer and cat), and like most people, talking about mutual interests is a normal thing to do.  Just pay attention.  I pretty much make a rule to only take one page of notes per character.  

The one page rule is also another good jumping off point for just about everything.  Notes for the session: one page.  Notes for each character: one page.  Notes for the plot: one page.  Notes for the session recap: one page.  Notes for an encounter: one page.  Don't even feel that you have to use the whole page.  Here are my notes for last session:
 1) Have Aaron find priest.  Goblins eating priest's legs.  Priest tells Aaron to follow girls.
2) Brandie and Eric on train. Dark cloud comes in.  Dragon and [expunged because my players read my blog] ride in and blow up train.  Brandie and Eric need to find party.
3) Caelin and Tracy need to meet party.
4) Maybe fog rolls in and everyone gets lost in woods and finds each other?  Only use if necessary.
5) House in woods.  Has talking Chimera heads stuffed on walls.  Special books on shelves.  Mini elemental in stove.  No one home.  Chimera heads refer to "master" if asked.
6) Oh yeah, Tanya the bard needs to find them then disappear at some point for [expunged because of aforestated reasons].
7) Goblin and goblin dog stats for a prepared encounter (more on stat blocks later in article).
8) Another mini encounter with a single being that I never used, because the players roleplayed a lot and we ran out of time.
All of this was one page front and back (more like half a page on the back)  and that was only because I wrote big so I could read it easier.  I had space next to each encounter to keep track of initiative and hit points and other expendables.  I didn't even get to my whole second encounter, and we played for four and a half hours.  My after game notes are technically this blog consist of one solitary sheet of paper that I scrawl on as the session goes on.

This segues perfectly into my hatred of stat blocks for encounters.  Games like Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons (3rd edition specifically) have giant, complicated, involved, hard to read stat blocks for monsters.  I really don't need to know a monster's move speed, skill modifiers, feats, ecology, and whatever if they're not going to necessarily pertain to the encounter.  Honestly, I'm not sure that all of them should, because it's just more stuff to keep track of.  I try to boil down my stat blocks to as little as possible so that I have fewer moving pieces for me to forget.  Here's the stats for the goblin encounter I used last session:

Goblin Weezard:
AC 13
Attack: Stick +4 1d4+1 or Smelly Potion +6
Once a PC has been hit by Stick or Smelly Potion, can cast Witch Bolt on that character

Goblin Doggie:
AC 12
Attack: Bite +4 1d10+2
Once bite attack is used, doggie's jaw locks. If they hit, they are locked on PC and PC has disadvantage on all rolls.

There are five Doggies and three Weezards.  That is all the encounter was.  
That's all that I used for that encounter?

And honestly, that's more than I usually have.  I haven't really played 4th Edition D&D, but the only time I played, we fought against minions.  I have no clue what the actual minion rules are from 4th (if someone wants to enlighten me, that would be awesome).  I know all I need to know: when I use them, I don't have to track hit points, and hitting a minion kills it because it has one hit point.  I can throw lots of goblins at my players and feel okay about it.  I know there's also something about saves (meh, I eyeball it anyways and write a random number and go from there usually) and using average damage for weapons, but I like rolling dice and don't want to deprive myself of rolling them.  I usually roll far under average anyways, so my players should actually be happy.  But the take home message is that I usually don't give enemies anything more than HP, AC, attacks, and a special ability or two.  Tracking spells and skills and saves is just a lot of work.  Saves can be important occasionally, so I'll block them out really quickly before I start rolling if they come up, but I usually don't do it beforehand, because they don't come up even usually in my experience.  I also don't bother to balance things, because I use another awesome trick:

I make encounters open ended and start small and keep adding if necessary.  I still had my goblin stat notes from the session before, and if they players last week had mowed through the goblin weezards and doggies in short order, the non mounted goblin reinforcements would have shown up.  Another example of this kind of encounter is the zombie trap from one of my previous blog entries.  On one hand, it can be a grinder of endless zombies.  On the other, it can just be slow pressure to make an easy fight progressively harder.  I use things like that less ruthlessly than many DMs I've played under.  However, because it seems like the same kind of thing but isn't, I don't condone adding HP to a monster mid combat to make it hard, but a spellcaster could very well have a self healing spell or a healing potion, or, they could just run away, get cover, or just do something to make life difficult for the party.  Very few of my monsters just stand and fight if the fight isn't going their way.  

No.  No the enemies are not...

Lastly, one of the ways to make life much easier for yourself, and a tried and true technique that I always have on hand is a seemingly random encounter that actually has some relevance to what is going on.  For example, in session one of the current campaign I am running the players encountered a goblin king and his village, burned most of the village down, failed to kill the goblin king, and killed a whole lot of his people.  The goblin encounter in session two seemed randomish, but the fact that the players left the goblin king alive means that goblin war bands, bounty hunters, and killers will be following them and showing up randomly until they deal with it.  I can throw a goblin encounter in any time I feel things are getting slow.  It can seem random, but it's not.  It's a mini plot of its own.  Just make up a few and hold them until you feel it necessary to throw in.

So yeah, lazy DMing is a lot of work, but it's not as stressful as managing main plots, reading pages of notes, remembering thousands of NPCs of dubious worth to the plot, exactingly remembering stat blocks and encounter tables, and various other bits and bobs that tend to bog the game down.  It takes a lot of confidence and improvisation to run this way, but in the end, it feels closer to playing (at least to me) than bookkeeping, which is a step in the right direction (again, at least to me).  My average session prep time is maybe half an hour to an hour a week tops with this method, meaning I have more time for Netflix, sleeping, and doing other fun things, because honestly, running a game should be fun, not another chore.  Too many DMs burn out, and from what I've seen, most of it is due to over-planning and stressing out about the game too much.  Cutting your stress as a DM and leaving planning to a series of in game decisions when you have some play aids to ease the decision making means that the job gets easier, meaning you can pay attention to your players more, do funny voices, and generally have far more fun.  And, after all, that's what roleplaying is all about.