Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 124: Inspiration for Combat Heavy Games

Main Topic

Every role playing game is about resolving conflicts that players face and one question each game has to answer is about how important physical combat will be to the game.  When you are designing a campaign or session around a combat heavy focus, the difficulty is more about how to ensure that the characters are appropriately challenged.  The type of combat can take many forms from invoking RPGs’ origins in wargaming to hong kong action cinema inspired personal tournament, but these are the things to keep in mind when designing them. 

Just because your game is combat heavy doesn’t mean it is devoid of other themes.  War stories often center around the loss of innocence and horrors of the war while self discovery and the hero’s journey can be literally mapped onto some tournament structures. 

Some great inspiration for combat heavy games include:

Mortal Kombat or Mortal Kombat 

Saving Private Ryan

Star Wars: Clone Wars

Sin City

Adventure Time/Bravest Warriors

Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future

Starship Troopers

My Hero Academia

The Eye of the World Series by Robert Jordan

Kimetsu no Yaiba

The Immortal Iron Fist

Tournament arcs are easy to set up and when they are double elimination create a perfect Hero’s Journey, and military fiction based RPGs make ongoing combat an easy way to explore the darker and more trying themes that combat, and war, provide. 


Incongruence noun

in·​con·​gru·​ence | \ ˌin-kən-ˈgrü-ən(t)s  , (ˌ)in-ˈkäŋ-grə-wən(t)s  \

Definition of incongruence


Definition of incongruity

1: the quality or state of being incongruous

2: something that is incongruous


Late Latin incongruentia, from Latin incongruent-, incongruens + -ia -y

First Known Use: 1610

Look-up Popularity

Top 3% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead – The Witcher RPG I literally just got a copy of the book from Noble Knight Games that was done by R. Talsorian Games. I am really excited to get into this book. If you are a patron you will get to see my whole writeup for the book. 

      Jupiter’s Legacy Part of the Millarverse. It is a great look into combat and how it can affect your mind and what the world can think of you.

Joules – Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga, original and Fullmetal alchemist Brotherhood)

Guard-a-Manger – Invincible – The Amazon Prime adaptation of the Robert Kirkman Comic Book Invincible has one full season under its belt. A fresh take when it started on super heroics and an exploration of a coming of age story in bad situations (so far).  If you know the comic book, you will probably know where it is going to go in the next 2 seasons already greenlit. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us


Author Pages with all of our contact info




And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 123: What GMing Has Taught Me About LIfe

Main Topic

Welcome to a brief break from the planned Inspiration for Different Campaign Series! As an impromptu change of pace, we look at skills we have taken from GMing to our meatspace and real life. After a truly unique year in 2020, we have all had to learn to adapt and deal with a world that has stressed us and challenged us in new ways.  Because life continues to make things challenging and to coincide with the end of Mental Health Awareness Month (May here in the United States), we talk about how GMing has helped us process and survive. How did GMing help you? 

  • Learning not to be talked over/Taking control of a situation.
  • When to let go and have people discuss things amongst themselves and learning to be a listener on the periphery, maybe subtly guiding a conversation but not being a participant.
  • Learning when to walk away.  Tabling when the horse is beyond beaten and has become a smooshy bloody smear
  • Aplomb and Grace – Everyone has times and places they make a mistake; how you deal with them is the important question.  GMing has helped me, especially in the past year, manage setbacks, mistakes, and the unexpected with a much greater amount of grace and equanimity.  
  • Know When to Stop Preparing – Yes, you can be overprepared.  It was hard for this former Boy Scout, Senior Patrol Leader, Order of the Arrow do-gooder to learn but there is a point where being prepared *more* doesn’t help.  It is like analysis paralysis, and you have to know that sometimes rolling with what you have will be better than not moving at all.

Closing remarks 

Joules – Drawfee.  It’s a youtube channel with 4 different artists that take on various art challenges.  Everything from drawing a Dark Souls/Hollow Knight mashup to turning fine art into fantastic anime

Guard-a-Manger – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Life is hard. There is nothing wrong with being in pain including mental pain.  If you are feeling at risk for suicide, reach out.  You are not alone and there are people who will listen and who will talk to you.  Mental Health is health and we all need to be mindful of taking care of our own. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us


Author Pages with all of our contact info




Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 122: Inspiration for Social and Investigative Games

Main Topic

We will be tackling the idea of where to draw inspiration for different types of games for the next few episodes. Today we are going to talk about Inspiration for social and investigative games. There are similarities between these two styles of games and often will bleed between each other. Both can provide a lot of opportunity for roleplaying and character development.  The second is that they frequently have a level of obfuscation going on.  Social games are built around social needs and goals – this is very heavy on the GM’s need to know the social structure of where the adventure happens.  Investigation games are literally about solving a mystery of some kind – this is heavy on the GM to know what the answer is… usually. 

Where would you get inspiration for either of these sorts of sessions? Books, Movies, and Television abound with examples and they also show how either may end up with action or conflict moments.  Specific examples include:

  • The Father Dowling Mysteries
  • Good Omens
  • Scooby Doo
  • Gosford Park
  • Nero Wolfe Adventures
  • Avatar the Last Airbender
  • The West Wing
  • Doctor Who/Torchwood (the later Seasons)
  • Get Shorty
  • Five Nights at Freddy’s (Lore Discovery)
  • The Name of the Rose 
  • Dr Stone
  • Agatha Christie

Remember that sometimes, the players are getting the truth. Not everything is a misdirection or a lie.  Aside from being a truism, this also messes with the players since the trope of everyone lying is widespread. When making an investigative game, try to have 3-4 clues that you specifically plan out.  These clues are things that will point to the answer, but don’t worry overly much about exactly how to find them – let the PCs find something.  This avoids the potential brick wall of the players not knowing how to find the clues or the questions to ask to get them to the next stage.  When making a social game, have a plan for what the social outcome is or what the different groups want.  This will let you have them react to the players rather than railroading the players through a specific set of actions.

Let’s look at a few things that can help to set the mood for the game. It might seem counterintuitive to worry about mood but it matters. If you have a clandestine meeting then you don’t want to have the lights bright and everything be quiet. That feels the opposite to that kind of meeting. While you can do that to throw them off of their game it isn’t something you should do all the time. Play into the tropes. Look at the tropes of the style of game you are doing to give them those touch stones. 

Now while you have the solid tropes also look at how you can subvert them as well. But that is an entirely different episode. 

Stat Blocks


The Agency

The Agency as it is known is where the research into the mind gets done. Diving into how the mind works as well as unlocking its deeper mysteries. What deeper mysteries are those? Psychic manipulation as well dream manipulation are the hallmarks of the Agency. Finding the ways to open subjects’ minds to the possibilities can be difficult. Not everyone can find that wellspring in them. The Agency has uncovered a large cadre of substances and physical exercises that can help. 

The doctors that are present in the labs cover a wide range of specialties, from psychologists to neuropathologists. While not all of them are researching how to unlock the mind they are all working to help create the “awakened” as they call them. The mental, physical and social wellbeing of these people is very important. What would you do with someone that has the ability to make you forget that you have ever met them and what they can do? While those are the lofty goals of the Agency the boots on the ground truth is much darker and grim. If you can be made to awaken then you are drugged within inches of your life. Now if you are useful then you are made to be a good foot soldier on the front lines of this new war that is spreading out into the unknown world. 

How to Use The Agency in Game:

This organization can be used a number of different ways from a straight up antagonist to a more shadowy group that is recruiting the players. Either way they can be and should be working in the background to make the things on their agenda come to fruition. 


Mythic Exchange

Seems that many mythical characters (both humanoid and bestial) get the proverbial “short end of the stick”.

There’s been a program in the works for the past decade or so.  A way to balance the scales as it were.  A mythic/mystic exchange program.

Medusa has been coming into her own in Japan, finding kindred spirits in the local Nure-Onna and Uwabami.  Japan’s reverence for snakes as symbols of death, life, and rebirth have opened new aspects for Medusa as well.  

Coyote and Robin Goodfellow have spent many an hour swapping tales of human foolishness and confessing their own (few) missteps.

Baba Yaga and the Witch of the Gingerbread house have been swapping sweet meat and sweet bread recipes. Discussing the various dark aspects that make up their stories..

So many mythological characters seem to have grown from these experiences.  They feel like they have more agency in their lives and a deeper, yet nuanced understanding of who they are.

Seems that the Mythic Exchange had a larger impact.  The ripples altered more than just the fantastic

This program has brought about a unique and rich cultural cross pollination.  It has given rise to various takes and new interpretations of old fairy tales.  Old stories from one culture told through the medium of another culture.  Giving rise to a deep cultural camaraderie that transcends both time and borders.

How to Use the Mythic Exchange in Game:

This allows (or explains) the cultural shift in myths that occurs naturally as the society changes.  But it also allows a doorway for appropriate yet non native supernatural entities to make an appearance.


Giancarlo Moretti

Giancarlo, or Johnny, is someone who seems to be straight out of a noir story.  They have a P.I. license and end up with clients from the most desperate of populations.  Deeply troubled and a sucker for attractive clients, Johnny is never far from trouble with both the cops and the crooks. 

The thing about Johnny is that they have been around for as long as anybody can remember … and hasn’t been stomped so far down they packed up or died.  Something keeps Johnny going, and also, somehow Johnny hasn’t stepped on the feet that would otherwise have them summarily removed from the city. Johnny gives hope, you see, and sometimes people need that.  Sometimes that hope isn’t always the best but it is an answer one way or another.  The skills in place, from tailing to browbeating have served Johnny well but even more so is the way most people take a liking to them.  Something about being a rough around the edges palooka with a deep awww shucks charm comes through even as the cynical observations about the state of the city flow like a running narration whenever they are around. 

A cigarette here, a warm slug of scotch there, there is little that isn’t a caricature about Johnny.  It is strange, though, that Johnny seems to know every unspoken and unwritten rule of etiquette.  It is almost as though no offense is given even as they traipse through any scenario sticking out like a sore thumb. The ability to make a call or find a friend in every single establishment, without fail, is almost as disconcerting as the looks of fear that sometimes accompany their arrival.  The real problems, though, only show up when Giancarlo comes back.

How to Use Giancarlo Moretti in Game:

Aside from a stock noir detective, Giancarlo and Johnny are both full of options.  If the characters need a nudge into an investigative story, Johnny is the way in.  If you need a shocking twist for a villain, the secret of Giancarlo versus Johnny may just provide that needed spice. 


camarilla noun cam·​a·​ril·​la | \ ˌka-mə-ˈri-lə  , -ˈrē-ə  \

Definition of camarilla

: a group of unofficial often secret and scheming advisers

also : CABAL

First Known Use of camarilla

1834, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for camarilla

Spanish, literally, small room

Look-up Popularity

Top 12% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead – The Nevers This is a very cool show if you want to do a lower power super hero game. It is a nice way to look at the Victorian era as it is winding down. It really showcases the classism and racism of the time. Which is something that needs more light shined on it. 

Joules – Return of the Obra Dinn video game.  Created by Lucas Pope, the creator of Papers Please.  

Guard-a-Manger – The Usual Suspects.  A mystery and a moody stylistic thriller about  a group of criminals and a criminal mastermind boogeyman.  If you haven’t seen it, I can’t really say anything else right now. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us


Author Pages with all of our contact info



And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 121: Making Downtime Fun Again

Main Topic

Downtime is that oh so much fun time of what the characters are doing when not in the dungeon or space battle or whatever the game you run. Not all games have built in downtime. Some just hand wave it and some have codified rules on relaxing. So do you have to stick to those rules or total free form storytelling? 

How do you get the players engaged with the downtime sessions? D&D 5th Ed. has an example of downtime rules to apply. They are codified but not in a strict or overly crunchy way. Similarly, games like Cyberpunk assume downtime between adventures or stories where things like rent and upkeep are calculated giving motivation to PCs and their need for more scrip.  

Combining downtime with advancement is one way to ensure a player engagement. This allows a GM to deepen the relationship with NPCs and create a more vibrant world outside of the direct adventure or PC sphere.  By using the downtime sessions to describe character advancement, it also allows story seeds to be laid and gives PCs an equal chance to influence the development of the world.  

Some players, and some games, assume a great deal of downtime importance and decompressed storytelling.  Character development, or at least exploration, happening in the time between the major events can lead to intense and powerful character moments.  The banality of everyday life could shed light on the character more than the crucible of challenge, but not all players or GMs are inclined to let that roll on. 

How do you, as a player or GM, engage or interact with downtime sessions and stories? Do you weave downtime into your main adventures or does the downtime stand alone as interstitial and liminal spaces? 

Stat Blocks


I was trying to get to the drawing but I was not able to, sorry.


Palaestra Maximus


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Make an appointment today and come talk to one of our specialists who will ensure that the Palaestra Maximus has the right tools for you; Boxing, Wrestling, Gymnastics, Philosophy, Philology, Ethics, Mathematics, and Cartography will always be something that you can use! We are happy to see what sort of special tutoring our gymnasiarchs can provide if you want a unique approach to your own improvement!

Our unique spaces provide more than enough room to swing a sword, roll a boulder, or ponder the very nature of your existence! We’ve redone our exedrae and you can reserve them for sparring or for a special tutelage program! We have everything that you could want to better yourself – For Your Honor! Your Glory! Your Family! 


*Catalog subscribers – ask about our 10% synergy discount*

How to Use Palaestra Maximus in Game:

A gym could just be a gym, but why not have a specific place for your players to train their statistics and abilities.  The Palaeastra Maximus is a classic Greek training hall turned up to 11 with all the amenities, characters, and benefits from a combination lecture hall/gym.


Lacuna  la·cu·na noun \ lə-ˈk(y)ü-nə  \

plural la·cu·nae \ lə-​ˈk(y)ü-​(ˌ)nē  , -​ˈkü-​ˌnī \ or la·cu·nas

1: a blank space : a missing part : gap, hole  also : defect, flaw

2[New Latin, from Latin]

a: one of the follicles in the mucous membrane of the urethra

b: one of the minute cavities in bone or cartilage occupied by the cells

c(1) : one of the small pits on the surface of some of the lichens

(2) : a gap in the protoxylem resulting from breakdown of protoxylem elements during elongation of a root or shoot

(3) : a depressed space or pit on the outer surface of a pollen grain

d: one of the spaces among the tissues of lower animals that serve in place of vessels for the circulation of the body fluids

3capitalized [New Latin, from Latin] : a large cosmopolitan genus of chinks that is the type of the family Lacunidae but was often formerly included in Littorinidae

Origin of LACUNA

Latin, pit, cleft, pool — more at lagoon

First Known Use: 1652 (sense 1)

Look-up Popularity

Top 2% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead – Mars Attacks

Guard-a-Manger – Damage Control. A marvel comic series about the downtime of the superhero world.  Or the insurance of the superhero world.  Damage Control was co-created by Dwayne McDuffie and humorously chronicles what happens when you try to operate a construction and insurance company in the Marvel Universe. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us


Author Pages with all of our contact info




And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 120: Character Generation as a GM Skill

Main Topic

Character generation can be something that you will need to be pretty proficient with doing before you run a game. I hear you ask why is that? Well remember you will have to be creating all the characters that the players are going to be interacting with. Now this might seem a bit overwhelming, remember most of the time it will never be an issue. The reason is that the vast majority of the NPC’s are never going to have a single moment with the PC’s. It is the ones that are going to have an actual interaction with the players that are going to take up the vast majority of your time that is devoted to fleshing out the people of the world. 

So what are the kinds of things to keep in mind when developing those NPC’s in the character gen cycle. Some systems are very crunch heavy and therefore you need to have a solid handle on the rules for generating characters. Where if the system is a more narrative one you can get by with a bit less. Each system will usually have a way to build out NPCs in the GM. You just need to take the time to understand how it works. 

Rational for Character Gen

When you are making an NPC for a game with a full CharGen, you want to think about how to support the PCs.  Making sure that you are not overshadowing the players means filling in some holes in a campaign group – if nobody wants to play a cleric in a world where that can make a big difference – have a cleric NPC.  

Relatedly, think about how your NPC will be interacting with the players.  You may build an NPC with the intent of being a specific character’s foil so make choices based on that.  The backgrounds you build can be similar to your players, as in stories you see shared backgrounds often enough like the boarding school roommate, or wizarding college rival.  

Another tactic to use for CharGen on your NPCs is to highlight a mechanical choice that or combination that your players are not using or that you want to test out (ahead of a BBEG using it).  I like to do this in especially crunchy games so I have a chance to make sure I see how a particular rule interacts with others.  

Some games have great shorthand for statistics you need for characters – an average pool of dice for certain skill levels or expected bonuses at certain powers – and so you can skip over some of the nitty gritty if you are so inclined. 

Stat Blocks



Broomehilda is what some might call a GunGurl. She prefers to call herself a corporate troubleshooter. With a heavy emphasis on the shooter part. Most of her wetware is unnoticeable unless you happen to know just what you are looking for. She has paid top script for the doctors to make it so that it is all but impossible to tell.  Once she starts to move then it is so very obvious that she has been augmented. 

Her gaze is unsettling to say the least. Not because she never blinks but actually just the opposite. She is blinking because she is switching between different Light spectrums as well as pulling up data about you in real time. This is after Hilda has done hours of background research on you. Did you truly expect the company’s biggest troubleshooter to go in blind to a negotiation, no you didn’t. She keeps all the intel she has gotten stored in her headware data storage module. 

Once she has started troubleshooting what the company has identified as a problem it generally is over pretty fast. She has shooting interfacing to let her know everything from the speed of the target to wind speed and the processor does all the math to keep those crosshairs firmly locked on her target. While not all things can be calculated out to the end result. This is why she is there and not a robot. Sometimes the company makes a mistake and Hildi’s data analytics makes it so in the end a human or a mostly human is there at the end. 

Hildi has a true soft spot for children. When the company has decided that the trouble is a child then they send someone else that might be just a bit more machine. She has been known to show up to those encounters as a silent observer. If that other steps out in the least amount she takes them out and saves the child. She has had to stop only three from being finished. Each one weighs heavy on her soul and mind. She has recorded each one in high def so she can never forget a single frame of this happenings. 

How to Use Broomhilda in Game:

She can be a great redemption character if she feels that one of the children has been neutralized wrongly. Broome actually knows where all the bodies are buried since she has put almost all of them in the ground. She might also just be a great way into the company’s buildings


Tezzy the Bartender

The bar itself is nothing spectacular.  The front facade and inner decor are nearly identical from the other dozens of bars in town.  The only distinguishing element is the lady behind the bar.  She smiles and beckons you to sit and introduces herself as “Tezzy”. 

Tezzy the bartender is quite peculiar in appearance.  She stands at about five feet six inches with a ruddy light brown complexion.  Well toned arms sport various tattoos; a mix of intricate mezoamerican tribal patterns interwoven with a feline motif.  She wears a jet black leather biker vest with a “Mictlan or Bust” bottom rocker.  Her hair, a mixed tousle of sanguine red and pitch black.  When questioned about it, she’ll laugh and say that’s her natural hair colour.  And you can’t quite tell if she’s lying.  Her smile seems warm and genuine, though, which is at odds with the somewhat regal sharpness with her facial features.  And it’s impossible to make a guess at her age.  And you get the feeling that asking is dangerous.

“Rough day I take it,” she muses while expertly cutting a lemon, “You have the eyes of a condemned man.”

You nod solemnly as you play over the events of the day in your head.

She catches your gaze for just a second, as you look up and are about to order, and holds up her hand.

“Whiskey Sour, Gentleman Jack” and in less than a minute it’s in your hands.

“How on earth did you know that?!” you exclaim with surprise and bemusement.

She’ll laugh again, and say “I’m psychic!” with a wink and finger pressed to her lips.  “Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.”

“Hot Damn” you whisper sipping on the drink. Perfection shouldn’t exist in bartending, yet this drink exists.

You catch her gaze once more, smiling back and promising to keep her secret.  Then you notice her eyes.  Really notice them. One silver, one obsidian.  You catch your own reflection in them.  Transfixed.

The world tilts.

It’s midnight; you’re kneeling in supplication and penance.

A voice on the wind. Ancient and powerful. Cold and dark as the void itself.

“I do not offer mercy nor forgiveness.  Complicity is the path of the coward.  Claim your life with your own power or feed it to me”

Your eyes catch the glint of the obsidian blade just before it silently slices across your throat.

The world rights itself again.

You take a massive swig of your drink, willing the contents to slow your heart rate and steady breathing.

“I’d recommend standing up for yourself and your subordinates tomorrow at the status meeting.  They don’t deserve to be sacrificed to hide the bumbling idiocy of the CFO’s son.”

“How the hell do you know that?” you croak.  

“I told you, sweetie, I’m psychic.”  She smiles and winks again, and you notice her teeth seem to have grown pointed and sharp.

“And I’m expecting to see him here tomorrow, for lunch.” 

How to Use Tezzy in Game:

Tezzy can be used as a pseudo-deity stand in. To offer warning regarding a path or the promise of justice if the party can’t deliver it.  


Curate Brasa

Nebbish, and a little shy, it is a shock when Curate Brasa’s iron certitude laces their speech.  Clad in the traditional oversized robes of The Recognized Orders, Curate Brasa carries themself with a quiet dignity and sense of distinct intent. Each step seems chosen and each of the very few words spoken seems to carry import.  Significantly, Curate Brasa is accessible to the public and a face, such as it were, for advancing the needs of The Recognized Orders in public. 

The Curate has gone through the formal training that all Curates face, making good use of the natural intellect and curiosity that had them chosen to be Enrobed.  Learning from the greatest minds of each of The Recognized Orders – be it strategy, healing, history, rhetoric, or commerce – Curate Brasa showed promise.  Perhaps more promise than some felt comfortable with as Curate Brasa has seemingly been stymied in advancing for the last 5 years.  This is no great loss, though, as Curate Brasa is happy to provide services and counsel to those who come to worship and those who come to trade.  

The oversized robes hide the body from view, purposefully obscuring whoever is beneath as The Recognized Orders wish for the power of the Spirits to be what is remembered.  The relative quietness of Curate Brasa’s voice stands out in contrast to the bombastic volume that some use to sway the crowds but combined with the stark paucity of words spoken give Curate Brasa’s pronouncements more weight than they may otherwise see.

Despite it all, Curate Brasa is still intensely curious – it is somewhat of a flaw one could say – and can be convinced to accompany groups or perhaps send them on a trip to learn more, or even just to listen to learn a little.  It is in this timid but driven dichotomy that Curate Brasa is the most useful – able to answer questions of great learning, discern the political movements of The Recognized Orders and the Prelates, or perhaps just listen to stories of the road over a relaxing kettle of tea. 

How to Use Curate Brasa in Game:

Curate Brasa is there to answer questions or provide some direction to waywards characters.  As a font of knowledge, and potentially healing, Curate Brasa can be a recurring NPC who offers more than they take but also will eventually come back with those favors to cash in. 





\ bō-ˈhē-mē-ən  \

Definition of bohemian

1a: a native or inhabitant of Bohemia

b: the group of Czech dialects used in Bohemia

2or bohemian

a: a person (such as a writer or an artist) living an unconventional life usually in a colony with others

b: vagabond, wanderer  especially : romani

bohemian or Bohemian adjective

Origin of BOHEMIAN


translation of French bohème

First Known Use: 1555 (sense 1a)

Look-up Popularity

Top 2% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead – Aim to Head Mix on YouTube. I have been really digging the music for when I want to write certain types of content for the show. 

Joules – Eddie Izzard

Guard-a-Manger – Are You Being Served – British 70s comedy gold.  While it certainly shows its age at times, Are You Being Served was a sitcom that lasted a decade and we could all use some humor and laughter these days. Currently available on Britbox or through Amazon rentals.

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us


Author Pages with all of our contact info



And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 119: Let’s Build a Campaign Part 4

Main Topic

Ok so something that almost every campaign will have is a big bad villain. It is a staple of storytelling. From myth to contemporary storytelling you will have a villain. You may not always know who it is from the start. I had one of my characters be revealed as the villain at the end of the first story arc. The villain may also be the antagonist, or just whatever is behind the forces working at odds to the party. Once you decide who you want to use then you need to figure out how they can be made into that villain you need them to be. 

A few things of importance to keep in mind as you work on your villain remember a few things.

One is they are the hero of their story and also that a sympathetic villain is more powerful in the story. This is a fine line to walk – a villain with understandable goals makes for an engaging story – a villain that the players like better makes for an anti-campaign. Also make the players find out how the villain became the way he/she/they/it is. 

Villains have more impact if they are relatable, believable and also human. Even if they aren’t your players are, and they will have a hard time relating to something that is truly alien. So even if the bad guy is an unknowable alien from the gas giant planet in the galaxy of Delvandia, it still needs to have something human like that the characters can understand. An antagonist goes a long way, but never underestimate the power of a pure moustache twirling villain for the right genre. 

Stat Blocks


The Crypto Neural Network of Centauri

As the planetary governing body of the planet known in Sol as Proxima B detected the incoming ship it was almost too late. As the ship slowed to a crawl as the DarkDrive went offline the government decided that it was time to give the beings of Sol a chance to meet some of their galactic neighbors. While the crew was still in Cryosleep for the punch the Cybersynacy Government had figured out how the people of Sol worked on several levels. They knew that mankind was a barbaric race that had been evolved to have a most adaptive neural network in their bodies.

See the people of Proxima B had wrecked their planet generations ago and this lucky happenstance made it so the Proxia,  as they are called, had a vessel to upload into. Yes they had figured out how to digitize their minds. The computers in the ship were rudimentary at best so once the command crew had been overwritten by the Proxia the computers of the ship had to start being updated and made to interface with the Dark Drive. As more help was needed then more people from the Elpis were rewritten after they had been digitized. The people of Proxima needed help but they were not monsters.

It took a number of years to get the ship systems working properly and there was a bit of trial and error. After they got the engines and systems communicating effectively It was time to get the primary uplink running. While all of this was happening the Proxians were able to create a new recording stack that was able to meld the minds of the two. At the same time it was creating the first digitized humans.

They needed to go to their new home so they could help humans to be a better version of themselves. They would help by riding along and curbing or out right stopping the worst behaviours of humans. The new race would be better than either of the parent races. The few new mends that did exist were having ideas of ways to work on fixing the mother planet and helping the few species that had shone signs of higher level intelligence. The process that humans called Uplifting and the Proxians called Raising.  Unknown to the originals that had undergone this process there was no survival of both; only one would finish the trip back to Earth. 


Alternate Reflections

When a hero describes residents of Alternate universes, they always describe their antagonists incorrectly. Evil versions of the heroes, sporting pointed goatees, laughing maniacally about their evil plans.  It’s the hero’s cognitive dissonance.  They think they’re fighting an evil version of themselves.  And that’s not exactly right.  .

Ruminating on the “what if” and “if only.”  Watching your infinite future condensed to a single line, wondering about the now severed branches.  Two identical versions, going through the same logic process, and arriving at different conclusions.  One giving into a violent impulse, the other refraining at the last minute.  Different decisions, different outcomes and consequences. Dark consequences of the road not taken. Still, at the root of it all, they are the same person.  They’re not the hero’s inverse, but their jungian shadow.

We are all supposed to be the heroes of our own stories.  So what does it mean if are you are also the villain?  There are no secrets, no lies, and no easy explanation.  The horror that comes with seeing the depths of depravity one could (and has) sunk to.  The fallout is catastrophic. 

Denial of truth, of facts, and ultimately the denial of the self.  The hero sees their dark reflection in its raw form. They see their capacity for evil, a capacity they most likely suppressed to the point of nonexistence (or denial). The hero can destroy themselves completely and utterly.  

But all is not lost.

If one has the inner strength to stare at the truth and not flinch, to fully acknowledge their own shadow, then defeat is not a foregone conclusion.

The insight to know how you would act in their place, the tactics, their biases are all laid bare.  You know how they’ll think, how they’ll act, what they prioritize.  It is possible to manipulate the confrontation to your advantage.  And the hero knows the consequences if they fail, because they know what they would do if they were in the same position.



Seemingly innocuous, the Jhukarga sigil has become more and more of an influence . . . or at least it is more and more of an obvious part of the day in and day out ornamentation of life.  At first, the slightly off kilter and asymmetric design seemed like nothing more than another fad spreading amongst the youth – an image and a meme with which to annoy the elders.  That was a decade past. 

Jhukarga has proven to be a powerful part of what can bind people together.  Each and every cell, gang, or coven of Jhukarga remains a tight knit community helping themselves against any who are not yet inculcated to the knowledge and power professed to be held within the eye of Jhukarga; harnessed by the tattoo subtle shaping what the person projects to others.  The commonplace addition of the tattoo, and the layout of the various safehouses has given rise and worry to many. Well, to the many who watch for the unhappy rumblings of the civil society to leak into a more polite conversation. 

Slowly growing at odds with the Mass Bibliotecha Militum, the Jhukarga groups have become noticeably more vocal in the last year.  There are protests and demonstrations, a very loud addition to the surrounding space. When you are on a spaceship or space station, that proximity becomes alarming.  The Jhukargahave shown, almost by accident, the growing number of skilled members of their groups – the engineers, the stevedores, the soldiers, and the slicers have all found a sense of community.  Community that has now provided a purpose. 

The Polis has to deal with the Jhukarga more and more frequently stepping up to encourage saving, joining, or otherwise rescuing the Arkship.  It is the way to find a better place, a better life, as our leaders here have failed us.  The image continues.  It replicates.  You see it happening over and over again.

You see it on a panel of the Arkship beamed back for news. The same as has been spread for the last decade within the Polis.  The same.

Col. MacKenzie Fargo of the Mass Bibliotecha Militum saw that. He bought in. The Colonel took over.  He listens to them now.  And Col. Fargo will stop your meddlesome interference.      

How to Use Jhukarga in Game:

Another unsolved mystery, the Jhukarga provides a way to introduce a more fantastical component of the world – be it truly inhuman aliens, shapeshifters, nanotech, or other means of coopting influence or a powerful way to show the likelihood of human resistance to overbearing authority.  


Nomocracy  no·moc·ra·cy noun \ nōˈmäkrəsē \

inflected form(s): plural -es

Definition: government in accordance with a system of law


nomo- + -cracy

Look-up Popularity

Top 29% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead – Hope for TTRPG’s Ok So a fun bunch of folks talking about tons of RPG stuff and doing a bunch of Promoting folks on twitter and starting to do some charity stuff. Again a bunch of really nice folks.

You pick the way.

Joules – Robot Carnival.  This blast from the past 80s anime.  8 stories, 8 animation studios, one theme.  Think four rooms or animatrix, but with a robot theme.  There’s no “punk” tied to it directly.  Steampunk, Space Laser battle, dystopian future, old school war propaganda?  They’re all there.

Guard-a-Manger – Wanted.  While the comic books it is based on are also well received, there is an ease and insouciance about the 2008 movie that bears that inspiration. James MacAvoy in a role where he keeps his hair becomes part of something greater that inspires him but then also makes him question what is good or heroic.  And it has some rip roaring stylized action sequences that are perfect for summer.   

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us


Author Pages with all of our contact info




And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 118: Let’s Build a Campaign Part 3

Main Topic

Welcome back to Part 3 of this series. Today we are going to be talking about the Major Beats of the campaign story. A good way to think about story beats is to remember they are kind of like encounters. Though you can surely make a story beat so large that it becomes an adventure in its own right. 

These beats are often the turning points for parts of the campaign arcs.  In a movie, this may be when the protagonists run into one of the bosses Lieutenants or the boss fights in a video game.  The pivotal moments that are certainly a climax and culmination of several sessions of work. 

Guard-a-Manger’s Beats

What’s in the Basement? (Search For Truth)

In trying to uncover information that is locked away in the Smithsonian’s more protected data stores, there is a moment of truth that the characters must navigate.  This is a major combat set piece as whatever forces are arrayed against the interests of the characters are racing to stop them from accessing this information.  I see the slow burn across several sessions culminating in a session-long encounter as the characters have to extricate themselves with some amount of the information they need from the Smithsonian while being chased and fought by either rivals that have populated the game already or nameless and faceless Librarian Shock Troopers. 

Somebody’s Going to Emergency; Somebody’s Going to Jail (Hope Doesn’t Come Free)

The Arkship isn’t without it’s dangers.  The characters will have to make a choice, or influence the decision, on what to do.  When the Arkship cannot be diverted and is staged to pass too close to settlements, something has to be done.  The wash of the engines will wreck the area for habitability for decades to come, but what or who is aboard the ship.  It is a classic no-win situation where the characters have to weigh what they know and what they value to determine if the Polis will try to evacuate its citizens about to lose their home or destroy the Arkship that holds unknown knowledge of the past if not people still alive and helpless as well.  

Zendead’s Story Beats

Who is the Power

Sure the Senate is a Democratic force but are they the true power? Or are they just the puppet front for the Multiplanetary Conglomerate’s? Well maybe not even that small. What if the Elpis coming back was a larger play on the galactic scale? How deep can you go to find the truth? The leader of the Senate has his hand in planetary control and development. But that is small potatoes when you are the pawn of an invading galactic empire.

The Beauty is the Eye of the Beholder

The true beauty of Earth’s nature landscapes have been lost to time. As well the digital backups in the Smithsonian. Are they lost or have they just become unindexed. That is when you must dive into the digital domain of the Smithsonian to find the answers. What else do you find while in the system? The beauty of a digital environment is something each person finds out for themselves. 

Joules’ Story Beats

There are Two Truths (Search for the Truth)

The lies are beginning to unravel and the party has come across a lead that will finally shine light.  Upon arrival at the archive, the party comes across raw evidence.  And depending on each member’s discipline, the evidence can be interpreted in directly oppositional ways.  There’s no right or wrong here.  There is only the data.  So what does the party do?  Do they spin the data?  Release it in Raw Form?  Destroy it?  Have they considered the impact of all of their decisions?  And are they willing to deal with the fallout?

Fear is freedom. Subjugation is liberation. Contradiction is truth., (Hope doesn’t come free)

Would you be willing to destroy a “utopia” to offer “hope?”  The populace is under some kind of double-think, and setting them free would cause a society collapse.  The freedom fighters, who have been striving tirelessly to liberate their people are made aware of the far reaching consequences.  Do you give hope to the clearheaded members of society, and doom the brainwashed masses to panic and death?  Would you be willing to abandon your drive, your goal, your principles and allow a tyrannical government to remain, if it means saving billions of people?  Would you be comfortable being seen as a villain to do the heroic thing.

Stat Blocks


Here is a pic I did of a Captain Reed 

Hope you enjoy it. 


Kodikas the Muse

In antiquity there were nine muses.  They inspired great works and their presence is felt strongly this very day.  And as humanity evolved and advanced, their creativity grew.  New ways, unimaginable ways of expression began to develop, and the number of muses increased.  And it’s only been in the past forty years or so, that Kodikas has made her presence known.

The youngest of the “New Muses,” Kodikas is frequently invoked by artists and engineers, white hats and bug hunters, makers and indie developers.  The muse of code has inspired solutions to memory leaks. Whispered asset hacks to save precious space.  She is credited with inspiring the idea of object oriented programming, though she has kept mum about it.  Kodikas’s whispers are the perfect fusion of art and science.  So when code is both functional and elegant, the wise code monkey offers thanks, and a cup of coffee, to Kodikas.

How to Use Kodikas in Game:

Kodikas can be used as a Deus ex Machina device.  Stuck hacker?  Data analysis keeps failing?  Kodikas can be used as device to push the plot forward, and your party now owes a god a boon.


Mass Bibliotecha Militum

Warfare evolves.  It isn’t enough to be tough, smart, and well equipped anymore.  Computers revolutionized the practice of warfare creating new theatres of conflict and remarkable first strike capabilities.  But then, even information itself was weaponized.  It isn’t just the fact that the Mass Bibliotecha Militum can hack your ship while preparing a proper shock and awe boarding action, it is the way that they can use an idea against you.  

You already know that the equipment, weapons, and armor they sport with their telltale dashed and dotted motif will be of the highest caliber.  You already know that there is little you can do if you are being tracked – they are not called the Librarian Shock Troops without a reason: They Will Know You.  This is known.  It is the legends that frighten you.  The stories that can’t be true. 

There isn’t a way to strike madness into a person through a com signal alone . . . right? 

Your past can’t be ripped away from the world with a single whispered phrase …. Right?

The idea of your own defeat really is your own …. Right.

How to Use Mass Bibliotecha Militum in Game:

Specialized shock troops are always a good worldbuilding exercise when in a game with combat.  The MBM are a classic example but in an RPG how much does their own mythology actually work? Is there an experimental weapon or gear that gives rise to those stories, or perhaps they do have access to abilities beyond the ken of your understanding. 


Panglossian  adjective  Pan·​gloss·​ian | \ pan-ˈglä-sē-ən  , paŋ-, -ˈglȯ- \

Definition of Panglossian

: marked by the view that all is for the best in this best of possible worlds : excessively optimistic

First Known Use of Panglossian

1831, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Panglossian

Panglossian, “extremely optimistic, especially in the face of unrelieved hardship or adversity,” comes from Dr. Pangloss (Panglosse in French), an old, incurably optimistic tutor in Voltaire’s philosophical satire Candide. Pangloss comes from Greek panglossía “garrulousness, wordiness,” which also may suggest a certain amount of glibness. Candide, the name of the eponymous hero, comes from Latin candidus “bright, shining, pure, clean, good-natured, innocent,” perhaps also a comment on the hero’s naiveté. Panglossian entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

Closing remarks 

Zendead – X-Files I just started rewatching the fun that is the X-Files. It has its moments

of WTF Mate. But it is super enjoyable still. 

Joules – Kill la Kill.  It’s an incredible anime.  Sentient clothing, epic battles, and scissors sword fights.  It’s funny, but has a lot of really awesome subtle references that you may miss on your 1st watch through, but you notice a lot on the 2nd viewing.

Guard-a-Manger – Outbreak.  1995.  A 2 hour movie starring Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, and Morgan Freeman, and a sudden and virulent disease outbreak when a smuggled monkey escapes customs. Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it?  Loosely based on the real world events recounted in The Hot Zone (the first book I read about viral hemorrhagic fevers and pandemic level disasters). 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us


Author Pages with all of our contact info




And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 117: Let’s Build a Campaign Part 2

Main Topic

In the prior episode we decided on a science fiction setting for the game. Here we go looking into the next step for things we are going to do for this campaign. Locations are a very important part of any games setting. Thus locations in this will need to be both old and new. Those are pretty basic ideas in almost every sci-fi story.  Here we are only going to touch on places that should have a recurring role in the game. Let’s pick three to start with and as the players gravitate to these or others you can build them out more. We started with a list that included all of these. 


  • Smithsonian
  • Grecian Ruins
  • Alchemy/ Chemist Lab
  • Old Library
  • Derelict Ship
  • Asteroid Belt
  • Newly terraformed Planet
  • Old worn out world
  • A crashed Alien ship
  • Spacestation
  • A Drinking establishment

These are just ones that we came up. You know your players make things that they would like to see. In the previous episode episode we choose the themes of; The Search for Truth and Hope Doesn’t Come Free. Finally each one of the locations we pick will have a tie in to one of the themes.

Designed Locales

Zen- I like the idea of a Derelict Ship. The derelict ship can be tied pretty easy into both of the themes. I am going to go with the Hope Isn’t Free theme. This ship was called an Arkship. It was going to be the hope of mankind getting away from the Sol system. Now why is it derelict and not that far from home? This can be just the beginning of the questions that a ship like this can raise. 

Guard-a-Manger – Spacestation.  There needs to be one.  In particular, I am going to focus on the idea of the main space station that hosts the Democratic Polis of Asteroid belt inhabitants. Aside from being able to incorporate other locales as needed, the ability to draw inspiration from a myriad of other science fiction properties is always helpful – from The Expanse to Babylon 5 this station can have it all! With the need for a physical presence to make binding votes and the political intrigue involved there to be the staging platform for future commercial and exploratory ventures, the Hope Isn’t Free and The Search for Truth both are readily available. 

Joules- The Smithsonian.  The smithsonian contains a veritable treasure trove of scientific history and samples.  This is a perfect setting in searching for truth.  Experts of various disciplines work there.  Players can bounce ideas off of experts.  The party can compare/contrast data that they’ve discovered.  Best of all is that the Smithsonian is a part of a huge network and has many connections. 

We are going to talk about the major beats we want to have in the campaign in the next episode. 

Stat Blocks


The Elpis

The year was 2194 and the launch of the Elpis was on track to make history. Mankind had never thought to send a ship out past the edge of our solar system. Elpis was that ship, it would carry the hopes of making mankind a true starfaring race. Meanwhile scientists figured that by the time the ship got to our closest neighbor they would have found a way to get to them faster. 

Not long after the ship got to Jupiter communications where lost. With the crew in a state of suspended animation it was just figured that maybe the radiation was playing havoc. After the ship was out of the range of Jupiter’s radiosphere communication was never established again. The massive programs that tied all these counties to this project started to accuse the others of sabotage. This lead to the Elpis project was written off as a derelict ship with all hands on board lost. That was 60+ years ago and just as a satellite was coming out of the dark side of Jupiter the signal for Elpis was detected as a distress beacon.

What do we do now?

How to Use The Elpis in Game:

The Elpis is a locale that could be a ship from the past that just mysteriously shows up after years and what has happened with the crew and the ship itself. This could be ancient to futuristic. The mystery surrounding it is something that can go on for a long time.


Library of Ash

If you control the information, you control the populace.  Horrible acts done in the name of law and order.  The burning of books.  Defacing monuments and statues meant to chronicle history. The enactment of damnatio memoriae.  

What happens to what has been learned, yet forgotten.

Its remnants become a volume in the library of ash. A fragile reminder of what was once achieved by great minds.  And that knowledge may be lost forever with but an errant breath.  Hard won insight that may crumble with the whispers of a sycophant

How much has been lost already by the hubris of the foolish or the ambition of the wicked?

And what fool would be willing to visit the library to return these fragile bits of knowledge, knowing they most likely will suffer at the hands of the same ignorant and violent masses 

How to Use Library of Ash in Game:

It can be a place for the players to try and research some forgotten lore.  It can also be used as a plot location.  They can also accompany a beaten and broken scholar, providing protection and insight.



Stevedore’s know the best gossip.  It is true and the good news is that Steerf is always up for spilling the beans.  Whenever a ship docks, something has to come off the ship and something is usually loaded on, and it is the Stevedores who do that.  From a long line of blue collar Zero G laborers, Steerf is as salt of the asteroid as they come, and twice as loyal. 

How to Use Steerf in Game:

Steerf is equal parts plot device and plot hammer – providing the rumors needed to steer players in the right direction and also getting embroiled in organized labor disputes to drag the players in the other direction. 


Offing noun off·​ing | \ ˈȯ-fiŋ  , ˈä- \

Definition of offing

1: the part of the deep sea seen from the shore

2: the near or foreseeable future

    //in the offing

First Known Use of offing

1608, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for offing

Middle English of, from Old English

Look-up Popularity

Top 5% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead – Wassi It is a writing app as a gm you can find a ton of ways to use it to organize your games. I am looking at using it to organize all of my one shots. I am going to start working on them a bit more regularly. Hopefully I am going to start recording them and post them in the feed. The cast will be a few different folks from a few different shows I hope. 

Here is the link for the Apple version and sadly there isn’t an Android version.

Joules – Dororo.  A manga that was turned into an anime (Anime can be watched on Amazon prime).  Premise is that a local lord made a deal with demons for his land to be prosperous and he to rule it.  The price was the arms, legs, eyes, ears, skin and other body parts of his just born son.  The son survives through luck, kindness and fate; to discover he can restore his body, bit by bit,  by slaying those same demons.

Guard-a-Manger – Framing Britney Spears.  A new documentary that explores not only the question of Britney Spears’ and her conservatorship. Also how the Pop Culture constructs surrounding her failed.  The questions it raises are interesting for GMs about the rise and fall of icons, culture, and the feedback loop it engenders. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us


Author Pages with all of our contact info




And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 116: Let’s Build a Campaign Part 1

Main Topic

So we are going to be working on a bit of how to build an actual campaign. The First thing we decided on was the timeframe of the game. So we choose to go with a sci-fi setting as a general thing. Then we also had to have another question answered and that was do we go with a harder science based or a pulpy setting? Well we choose to fall more on the science backed and less pulp. Once you have those two questions answered there is only one other and that is can the ships fly at FTL (faster than light)? Yes, there will be an FTL or unrealistic travel component, but we will discuss the specifics in a later episode!  

The first part we are going to talk about is the Theme. We are going to be creating a campaign that is going to touch on the major themes of The Search for Truth and Hope Doesn’t Come Free. 

The Search for Truth is a good theme for games in general. Truth can be any number of things that the players can be looking for. 

Hope Doesn’t Come Free is a great double edged sword of a theme. To win comes at a cost and what is the cost that you are going to be ok with paying. 

We had a big list And you will see that we hit on similar themes which is interesting. 

Hope Doesn’t Come Free

Collective Action

Good Intentions Lead to Bad Results

Come to Terms with Dark Past

Search for Truth


Nature as Beauty

Quest of Discovery

As you can see there are a few themes that are similar in nature. 

Stat Blocks


The Dark Drive

The ship’s navigator dodged the incoming barrage of railgun fire. All the while the main navigation system was running the math to make sure they could bring the Dark Drive up. The toughest part of firing up the dark drive was that they have been known to start and not shut down. The drive had only done it a handful of times since they became standard on ships from the America’s. The German-Turk ships used a different drive. 

The Dark Drive pulls Dark matter from its environment and compresses it into a form that the drive itself can use. While the how might be interesting the product of that drive is even more interesting. Once the Dark Drive is on and running it lets you slip between light and dark matter. What does that mean? Well it allows you to cover great distances at a speed that seems ridiculous. You can make the trip from Earth to Mars in minutes instead of months like the newer engines. But How does it work? The inside of the Dark Drive is sealed away from prying eyes. 

How to Use Dark Drive in Game:

The Dark Drive is a plot item more than anything that has to be worked on. Unless it breaks down and then what is the interior of the sealed compartment? Is it an alien drive or is it just hypertech that pushes the boundaries of known science? I would make it be the heart of a dead star laced with a lost technology from before men could travel the stars. 


Quietus Quartet

There are no mortal stories about the quietus quartet. Demons and angels bicker about the details, but consensus is that these chthonic instruments manifested during the instant of creation.  Four tools to unmake existence.  And during the battle between light and darkness, all but one disappeared.  And due to their nature, they were hidden from celestial and infernal beings alike.

They eventually fell into humanity’s hands.  And to this day they have yet to be united.  But evidence of the individual instruments can be glimpsed throughout history.

The drum has the greatest presence.  It was played at some of the bloodiest conflicts in history.  Antietam, the Qi and Lu war in China, and the crusades.  

Though not directly attributed, a lyre was responsible for the conflagration that consumed antiquity’s greatest city.

Legends of a horn that causes rampant destruction to things organic and inorganic have been around since ancient times. But modern wave based weaponry (Both sonic and infrared) draw inspiration from the horn’s destructive power.

The last instrument is still a mystery.  History provides no clues and the angels and demons aren’t forthcoming with information.  Only warnings.  For if the instruments were brought together and played, reality would be unmade, returned to the nothingness from whence it spawned

How to Use The Quietus Quartet in Game:

There are a bunch of ways it can be introduced.  There could be a mysterious cult that surrounds the instruments.  Or an instrument can fall into the hands of one of the players and they have no idea what it is or what they have.  Or they could have an epic quest to stop the instruments from coming together.


utopia noun uto·​pia | \ yu̇-ˈtō-pē-ə  \

Definition of utopia

1often capitalized : a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions

2: an impractical scheme for social improvement

3: an imaginary and indefinitely remote place

First Known Use of utopia

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for utopia

Utopia, imaginary and ideal country in Utopia (1516) by Sir Thomas More, from Greek ou not, no + topos place

Look-up Popularity

Top 1% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead – Equinox is a very Interesting series that you can use to draw inspiration for either a kidnapping or an alien abduction to any number of things. The Dutch have a much different sensibility from Americans so that is also a reason to check it out. 

Joules – Try a new skill. But do it for enjoyment. 

Guard-a-Manger – WandaVision.  The MCU’s miniseries on Disney+ is a masterclass in the use of nostalgia, technical production, and trusting an audience to accept the more fantastical beats of an expansive universe.  

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us


Author Pages with all of our contact info




And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 115: Statblockapalooza the Next Installment

Main Topic

Topic for this writing exercise are the following: 

Bucolic by Guard-a-Manger

Mascot Heroics by Joules

Candyland by Zendead

Stat Blocks


Crystal Ball of Pastoral Delights [Thing]

While the roughcut ball of crystal looks like just a piece of junk it is  much more than that. The crystal holds an image within it of a quaint pastoral land. But don’t look too closely for too long or you might find that you have been transported to the place in the crystal. How did this rough ball get such a powerful charm placed on it? Well its charm may have worn thin on its last owner or they haven’t been able to come to collect the crystal. For the transportation will move you but not the crystal ball. 

Where does it send you too? Well it has several features that are always present. There is a water feature of some sort from a wellspring to a waterfall. The next would be a rustic setting in the world. Finally there is some sort of cabin to house you in if it is uninhabited. Which it usually isn’t. It transports you as you are at the moment you spend too much time staring into it. And the location is never the same. Also there is no way of knowing how far it is from where you are when you look in. It is a one way trip so hopefully you can make it back. 

Homeland of Mascots [Place]

The Homeland of Mascots is a strange and otherworldly place. It is the land of where mascots come from. Mascots that are of all types and sizes. Before this land started to give rise to mascots it was a dark land between two warring lands. The war left the land steeped in the bodies and blood of them both. While this may not seem like the place that Mascots would come from you would be surprised. It is because of the lost magic of the land and the war that made the land never want to be darkened by the likes of that again. 

How though can the land have wants and fears and designs I hear you ask. Well It was more than just terra firma, it had a bit of the spark. When it was used like it was less than it was, it was saddened to be overlooked by the warring nations. So it started to create life from the dead and dying. The bodies of the animals that perished were the better option for the Mascots. The soul of them needed to be sweet and a drive to want to make others happy so the blood of the fallen warriors of Süßigkeitenland were the perfect choice. As the Mascots came to the fields of battle and cheered for the sides that they felt closer to, the combatants started to lose the will to fight. And that is how the Mascots homeland came to be.

Sergeant Swiss Roll [Person]

The Land of Candy or as it is also known Süßigkeitenland is a land that has seen many years of peace. Peace comes at a cost though. The wars with Fleischland lasted for decades. One of the few residents that remember those dark days is Sergeant Swiss Roll. He saw things no confection should ever have to. He also did things for his king few others ever would have. While he can be a sweet and gentle person his soul is fractured. 

Most of his days are spent in his home Trying to forget the horror of war and mostly succeeding. His home sits near the majestic Gumdrop Mountain Pass. If you happen to come for a visit he will ask for news of the land as he doesn’t go to court. His days of guarding the halls of the king, which he did before the war, are long over. And if you are forthcoming with tales he might just show you his most prized possession from the war. His crystal ball.  


The Ethereal Farmer[Person]

Some ideas and places are instantly soothing to a person.  A bucolic vale can be quite peaceful.  The pastoral countryside, complete with sloping hills and trickling stream, is an image any of us can find inside ourselves. What you may not always see is the farmer in the middle of that vale.  The countryside itself isn’t uninhabited, even if in our minds we so rarely see them.  Why is that?

Something about the idea of the vale has permeated all of our minds.  The subconscious image is a well of safety for all of us, but also a place where the Ethereal Farmer can elide. The vale must be tended, you see, and the powerful near universal image of the vale cannot be coincidence.  Is not coincidence. The slight pruning of our own dreams by this elusive farmer for generations hints at the secrets they possess.  

A swirling ethereal apparition you may see in the corner of your dreams, draped in blues and greens, needs something from your dreams.  Can you find a way to ask what?

Cookie’s Corner [Place]

Sometimes all you need is a little rest and a little help.  Often times, the world heaps on stress, challenges, and obstacles into your way.  It can seem insurmountable. These are the times and days that want a nap, or at least a break from everything around you.  These are the days that can send even the strongest of people quivering into self doubt and despair. 

The candyland known as Cookie’s Corner can be found in most major cities, and even some smaller markets! Oh, to be a child again and let some of the cares weighing you down slip loose.  It is possible to do that at Cookie’s Corner because inside everyone is a child once more! The bright colors entice you, but even as you realize there are no safety mats you stop caring and run to jump and bound with the energy of callow youth.

It doesn’t matter who Cookie is.  It doesn’t even matter if there are actually cookies.  You leave Cookie’s Corner feeling refreshed and lightened.  Your own burdens lessened and even relieved. That challenge comes when a contact of yours slipped into one and hasn’t come back out.  What is Cookie’s Corner hiding?  Delicious pie? A Conspiracy?  Psychic vampires? Or just a lucrative franchising opportunity.

Legendary Mithran Pendant [Thing]

It isn’t easy to find a champion.  They are rare in real life, and honestly even more so in fiction these days.  So many anti-heroes and flawed heroes, a champion just seems out of reach. Technicolor favorites are assuredly something that soothes the mind! At least, they would be if they were meant to be.

The news has reported with increasing frequency these cartoons leaping into the streets to stop some manner of street crime.  Cartoons in a solid form, able to lift and jump, helping those in need, and rescuing kittens from trees. Cartoons found on the sides of candy – The Toffee Tiger; Clarence the Cuddly Caramel, and Squeaky the Clown don’t exist.  The eye witness reports all say the same thing, but no camera has yet to capture this surprising and unbelievable event. 

Nobody seems to have noticed one commonality yet – a child in the background of each tableau.  A child that is seemingly nonplussed by what is going off just out of the camera’s field of vision.  A child with a turquoise pendant that seems to gleam ever so slightly at just the right angle.


The Soldier’s Journal[Thing]

A soldier’s journal was recently discovered in the Smithsonian’s deep storage.  Carbon dating keeps coming back with impossible results.  The contents of the journal are even more disturbing.

Tuesday:  Been separated from my platoon for a week now.  Spent the night in a swamp.  Smelled like blackstrap molasses.  I have no idea where I am.

Saturday:  Heard some laughter.  Made my way to the edge of the forest and hid.  The trees here are weird.  Look and smell like peppermint sticks.  Still no sign of my platoon.

Monday:  Woke up at night.  No moon.  Dying of thirst.  Heard running water.  Made my way towards it.  It tasted like root beer.  I must be going mad.

Thursday:  Heard unidentifiable noises.  Hid myself in a field of black grass for several hours.  Smelled like licorice.  I hate licorice.

Sunday:  At the foot of this huge mountain.  I recognize the stone piles as travel markers.  The stones are gumdrops.  What kind of place is this?

Wednesday:  They’re closing in.  They’ll find me soon.  I can’t keep moving.  There’s no place to hide.  And the smell of gingerbread is getting stronger.

The final page of the journal is splattered in a sticky red substance.  Tests results show the substance is similar to blood.  But there still have been no explanations for the scent of raspberry jam.

V.A.L.E. [Place]

Sitting on the front porch.  Slow breath in.  You’re lucky.  Mom and dad decided to retire to the English countryside, and were willing to let you stay with them to recuperate and regain your strength.  Stay with us at the cottage and you’ll get better, they said. It seems to be working, too.

The cottage is cozy, bright, with a lovely view.  The clover covered lawn is soft, lush and smells sweet at sunrise.  Watching the fog roll off of the small pond at dawn brings with it an almost reverent peace.  Mom’s small garden is starting to flower.  

As you’ve gotten stronger, you decided to take on the task of maintaining the pond and surrounding wildflowers.  Keeping the fishing pier in good shape.  Tending the lavender and building a bat box to keep the mosquitos at a minimum.

Till one morning, as you watch as the fog rolls off of the pond.  You see a shimmering, silver figure sitting on the pier.

“You can finally see me.  Good.  Then it’s time for you to go back.”  She smiles at your confused expression.  “I’ve been overseeing your treatment.  The dumpshock you suffered left you nearly brain dead.  We enacted the Bucolic V.A.L.E. protocol to try and save you.  It was a long shot, though.  No one was sure if it would work”  

So many questions you can’t express them.  “Huh-Wha?” is all you’re able to get out.

“VALE. It stands for Virtual Avalon for Lingering Encephalopathy.  Like the Avalon of myth, it is a place to heal and convelace.  This one is virtual, though.”  A silver hand grasps yours, leading you down to the gate.  “It’s time to wake up, Artie.  It’s time to go back.  Your people need you.  I’ll fill you in along the way.”

5th Generation Hero [Person]

In a secret virtual chatroom, icons for the 3 big console companies float in a digital void.

The topic?  Scalpers, thieves, and taking them down. 

“Look, we’re both facing a major economic hit due to the scalping issue.  Normal solutions will not work.  We need to send in someone.” – Sony

“Not Master Chief, no subtlety and he may damage your product” – Nintendo, side eyeing Microsoft. Microsoft’s Icon glares back.

“Well who would you recommend?  I seriously doubt Mario could do a damn thing except maybe overflow their toilets” – Sony

“I could get Gritty…” starts Microsoft.

“Nobody is that desperate!” exclaim Nintendo and Sony in unison.

**mirthless laughter fills the room**

The icon for Sega materializes in the corner along with a humanoid figure.

“I have a solution to your problems.  If you’re willing to make a deal” – Sega

“What can you do, you’ve been out of the console market for ye…” – Ninendo trails off.  “How can he be alive?  We sent a missile. There’s no way.”

A stone faced gentlemen wearing a gi steps out from shadows behind the Sega icon. 

“Who the hell are you talking abo…” – Microsoft gasps, slowly recognizing Sega’s companion.  “Segata Sanshiro! He went head to head against Chuck Norris. And survived!” whispers Microsoft

“What are your terms?” – Sony 

Sanshiro steps forward, muting Sega with a raise of his hand.

“Interplay between all of your consoles and PC. No restrictions, no caveats. Including saves and account transfers. In perpetuity.”

Sanshiro’s voice, reminiscent of a samurai from a kurosawa film, confirms there is no room for negotiation.

All of the icons in the room sigh, then nod in solemn agreement

Segata Sanshiro nods, satisfied.  His steely eyes seem to focus on something far away.  He subtly shifts the huge Sega Saturn on his back and explodes out of the room.

A second later, his battlecry resonates in the remains of the chatroom

“Sega Satān, shiro!”

Closing remarks 

Zendead – The Tales of Kirby City This is a Fate Condensed Actual Play 

Joules – Alien Voices: Leonard Nimoy and John de Lancie present Classic Science Fiction Audio-Dramas.  Featuring a wide variety of Star Trek actors performing a wide variety of stories like Journey to the center of the earth, war of the worlds and various others.

Guard-a-Manger – War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches.  An anthology of short stories as if the martian invasion of the War of the Worlds were witnessed by Teddy Roosevelt, Leo Tolstoy, Joseph Conrad, and more.  

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

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