D20 Steampunk Game

D20 Steampunk Game

Games will be run at Gamestorm 19, in Portland Or. Date and time TBD.


Books used:
D20 Modern
Ultimate Arcane Spellbook
Sorcery & Steam
D20 Modern – Past
Steam & Steel
Imperial Age – Gamemaster’s Guide

Solar System

The Solar System is a giant Orrery. A huge brass pin goes through both poles and connects a brass circle around the Earth. This in turn connects to an Equatorial brass gear that turns the Earth. A huge system of gears turns the Earth; it’s moon and the entire Solar System around the Sun.


In November of 1860, Men of the American Gun Club, fresh off their mechanic victories of obtuse dimensional canons deployed on the Russian front, resolve to build the “Columbiad” a canon capable of shooting a projectile to the Earth’s moon. The purpose of this invention is to examine the Moon and the exact device that keeps it encircling the Earth. The 274 meter long canon propels the 20,000 pound projectile with three passengers aboard into the Earth’s atmosphere and towards the Moon.
Unfortunately the projectile missed the Moon, looped back around and crashed into the Pacific Ocean off of Spanish San Francisco. Most members of the club were simply happy that the experiment succeeded and the passengers were alive and well.
But one, Jules Verne, could not stand to let the mystery lie. After 13 months of Scientific experimentations, he proclaimed his discovery of the Ether in the New York Journal of Astronomy. Fellow Astronomers almost immediately confirmed it’s existence, and six months later the British Navy had commissioned a Board of Inquiry into development of a means of travel in the Ether.
Within a few years, all the major European powers have a presence on Mars, the closest planet with a breathable atmosphere.

The material called the Ether surrounds the Planets. It’s thickest near planets, moons and the brass gears and workings. The Ether has a slight electrical charge to it and is breathable, although characters will become fatigued if they do not get fresh oxygen within six hours.

There are also pockets of “Collapsed Ether” which are highly flammable, and devoid of any air.


Since the European nations were never able to expand to the east by sea, there was a lot more political infighting and wars across Eurasia. Russia struggles to maintain it’s hold on lands with enemies on all sides.

Britain, Spain and France fought over the Americas, with Britain coming out as the clear winner in the 1770’s. Spain still maintains holdings in Mexico, Texas and the South Western States while Britain holds the east and Canada. The line between the two nation’s colonies lies somewhere in the plains area and will most likely continue to be a point of contention in the future. France has long lost or sold all its colonies in the Americas to fund it’s continued wars against the Ottoman Empire.

In the Pacific, China, India and Japan have fought hard over every resource available. All three nations mount vast armies, luckily they are too fragmented to join together and push west. The Pacific nations do not have steam technology yet.


Hinduism, Judaism, Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity all exists with their respective good and bad points.


Hermetic Magic exists, but hundreds of years of prosecution by Christianity has driven it under ground and even eliminated entire schools. Clubs and Societies exist to explore and teach Hermetic Magic under the guise of “Science.” The Free Masons, Knights Templar, Lunatic Science and Drinking Club, and many others are examples of such. The downside is that many of these clubs are more theoretical then practical and can have a heavy dose of pseudo-magic mixed with pseudo-science.

Shamanistic Magic exists via the untainted traditions of native peoples recently “discovered” by Western “Civilization” such as the Natives of the still mostly unexplored Americas. When found Church practices attempts to outlaw and wipe it out. Like Hermetic magic, it can often survive underground, or be corrupted and integrated into Divine Magic.

Divine Magic is granted by each of the Gods to members of its religion. The Church sanctions divine magic. Only religious figures may wield it, and only with enough devotion and study. Those who are not affiliated with the Church but are able to wield Divine magic are deemed heretics and burned or tortured.


Steam power has been used on an industrial level across Europe and the western Parts of Russia for many years. Steam Power is present in the larger American Cities although it still lags behind Europe and especially Britain. It’s been used as propulsion in ships for about ten, and only in the last five years has it been applied to air ships and Zeppelins.

Steam Power is becoming a force in it’s own right as it’s applied almost daily in ways never imagined before, and advanced metallurgy techniques enable it to become smaller and more efficient.

Air ships are simply regular wooden ships that have had their masts and sails replaced with hydrogen air balloons. These are propelled through the air via steam powered propeller blades in the rear. The engines are still powered by coal, but the extra room saved from not needing ballast provides ample storage for the coal. Once Airborne into the ether, sails are deployed from the main balloon and ship. Using the currents in the Ether, and the propellers, the ship can move extremely fast from one place to another.

Once in the Ether Air Ships release pure dephlogisticated air from compressed tubes stored below desks. Due to the nature of the Ether, the air stays with the ship, as do items thrown overboard.

Pockets of “bad” or Collapsed Ether exist. Their presence so far is unexplained, although several theories abound. Their size is variable and so far the few that have been found are well marked on Astronomy maps. Entering one has various effects. These include; a lack of breathable air, to technology stopping (and in some cases, extremely damaging) affects, to wild magical affects.

Solar System

The Earth’s moon remains uninhabited, except for a few hardy miners. The moon’s atmosphere is not enough to hold in sufficient air so those who work and live there need to wear repurposed diving equipment to be outside of long. Otherwise they live inside small heavily tarred and pitched wooden buildings.

Britain does maintain a small Fort here, Fort Wales. It’s built bigger then needed as it was originally designed to maintain a full company of men. Forty soldiers mostly on light duty now hold it. Being assigned here is seen as a punishment.

Britain, France, Spain, Prussia and Russia all have forts on Mars. Garrisoned by 100-200 soldiers, except for the British Fort, which has about 500 troops.

No nation has yet to visit any of the other planets, although plans are of course under weigh do do so.

Martian Climate

Mars is habitable near the poles to the 45th latitude. Daily temperatures hover between 110 degrees in the Martian winter to 145 during the summer months. Between the 45th and the Equator, the daily temperatures reach 180 degrees or hotter. Most inhabitants follow the Spanish custom of a mid-day siesta during the hottest part.

The air is thin and makes breathing rather hard. Care is taken to make sure buildings are airtight. Compressed air is released daily into buildings and doors are sealed with a double door airlock arrangement. Streets between buildings are shaded with canopies. Some of the larger streets are additionally cooled with steam powered fans placed up wind.

Fort George

The British Fort, named Fort George is also by far the largest physically. A town of about 1000 civilians sits at it’s foot. The original fort has been upgraded from a moat and wall 5-point star configuration to a more stout and traditional stone affair with large walls and cannons that protect the fort and town.

In the town of Fort George are offices and a warehouse of the Martian Fur Service, a British Factor, three Sutter stores (general goods,) and a small theater. About 25% of the residents of the town are engaged in farming. 50% are engaged in the burgeoning Fur Trade (a small mink like animal that practically walks up to humans still,) and the rest are storekeepers and various other businesses that are meant to separate soldiers and settlers from their hard earned money.


Martians are misnamed as Selenites. The first explorers expected to find life on the Earth’s Moon. Disappointed they applied the Lunar Citizen’s name to the Martian natives.

The Selenites are a race of short lizard people. They are tool-using, omnivores that live in small tribes of 10-30 individuals. Their tools consist of spears, obsidian knives, and digging tools. Little else is known about them other then they have a primitive language that some can communicate in.

The predominant predator is an animal that looks to be a cross between a crocodile and the Americas Porcupine.

Gamestorm – Seattle:Torchwood Game

Gamestorm – Seattle:Torchwood Game

Game will be run at Gamestorm 19. Time/date TBD

Based on the popular British TV Show, Torchwood, characters play members of the Seattle Branch of the Torchwood Institute. The Rift has been unexplainably growing and the Jack Harkness was forced to setup a branch of this Secretive Organization in Seattle. But unknown forces within the US Government have stepped in and taken overt control of the Seattle Branch with the goal of reaping the benefits of any Rift technology that appears.

The game starts just after the Secret Service has taken over the Seattle Branch, and provided significant new resources for their primary missions.

Secret Service Welcome Letter

Mission Profile Letter

Good luck, Agents!

SEO Scams

SEO Scams

SEO is the art of getting your web page on to the front page of Google. Since I run so many domains, I get contacted by these types of people at least once a week. I know most of them are scams so I’ve been trying to get one to reply back with the basics of what they offer. For the first time, one did.

(Hint, if you’re soliciting work online, make sure you actually reply to people who contact you.)

Today I was contacted by Asha Ram of EarnBySEO, and followed up my Anand Pal of the same company.

The website they contacted me about today was my Old and Vintage Photos site. This is merely a collection of pictures I’ve scanned in from 35mm slides I’ve collected over the years.

In the first paragraph they say “We can definitely Place your business on Google’s first Page so that the people looking for ,“Vintage Photos, Seattle Space Needle,vacations around the world, trips to Disneyland and other amusement parks,” they can find your website on first page and can contact you for the business.”

First problem – no one, and I suspect even people at Google, can place a business on the first page. Those few who can are using black-hat techniques that will destroy the longevity of any website. The cost to do so is usually so high that it is reserved for either outright scam sites collecting credit card numbers or places like Viagra sellers.

The second problem, if they had bothered to read my website, is that not only are those not the keywords I’d be tagging, I’m not selling a product or service there. Their lack of reading comprehension shows that they didn’t do even a cursory examination of the site to understand the business model and to define the work that actually needs to be done.

“We have GOOGLE CERTIFIED professional & expert to run a successful SEO campaign & they follow Latest Organic Google Certified Procedures and Algorithms.” Certified by whom?

The next section of the email is a table of actions they’ll take. Some of these may be needed, but taken all together they just took a long list of SEO tasks and put them into a table.

On-Page work activities :-
Keyword research/Analysis
Meta tags/Title & Description tag Optimization
Competitor Analysis
Anchor tag Optimization ( H1, H2 etc.)
Alt tag Optimization
Content Optimization
Robots.txt Optimization
Fixing Canonical Issue
Fixing Broken Links
Creating Custom soft 404 page
Fixing HTTP and HTTPS
Fixing Non-WWW and WWW urls
Removal of unnecessary Redirects
Removal of Unnecessary tags
Create 301 Redirect
Update copyright year
Making URLs SEO friendly
XML site map creation and Submission
HTML Site Map creation
Perform an online plagiarism review.
Place social media badges on website

Off-Page work activities:-
Classified Ads Submission
Classified Ads Promotion
1 unique, 450 word article
Article Submissions
Article Promotion
1 unique, 500 word Blog
Blog Submission
Blog Promotion
1 unique, 500 word press releases
Press Release Submissions
Press Release Promotion
Image Submissions (Needed from client side)
Image Promotion
Social Book marking Submissions
PDF/PPT Submission
PDF/PPT Promotion
Google Local Listing/ Mapping
Search Engine Submissions
Directory / Citation submissions
Video Submissions (Needed from client side)
Video Promotion

Social Media activities
Facebook Account setup
Facebook Profile Promotion
Twitter Profile Setup
Twitter Profile Promotion
Google+ Profile Setup
Google+ Profile Promotion

Pretty straight forward, but any halfway competent website owner does most of these actions these days.

If you want to avoid being scammed by an SEO company ask these questions:
– What page will I get on Google/Bing/Yahoo. (Answer: they will never say guaranteed or first page. They’ll give an answer that says they can increase visibility, but should explain that everything else is up to Google’s automatic algorithms and the best they can do is to optimize for it.)

– How will I measure success? (Answer: increased click throughs, increased sales for those with sales sites, increase in visitors to the site, etc.)

– How long will this SEO campaign go for? (Answer: if they say indefinitely or can’t pin down an answer, dump them. True it may take a while to get going, but they should give a six month or a year number with specific performance deliverables.)

Found Pictures

Found Pictures

I found a big bag of vintage/antique pictures among items left behind by an evicted tenant. Based on the tenants, and the fact that these were left outside in the weather on a table, I am 100% sure that it was stolen. If you know who’s stuff this is, please let me know so I can get it back to them. They were likely stolen in August 2015 from somewhere in South East Portland.

In addition to the pictures, there is quite a bit of paperwork from Utah, Arizona and Washington D.C. including a life insurance policy card from 1943 for Mr. Joseph A. Reed who lived at 109 Blyer RD in Washington D.C.

Kid with Puppy

Found Pictures
Back of Picture says “Evelyn and Eastalyn Jefferies (Aunt Jane’s Twins)”

Unknown Baby

RPG Tables: Random Urban Gang generator

RPG Tables: Random Urban Gang generator

This table is great for creating random urban gangs to use in medieval fantasy RPG games.

Roll d8 – The gang’s money-making schemes include:
1. Distributing drugs.
2. Running heists of and/or fencing stolen gems and precious metals.
3. Petty theft, burglary, and/or pickpocketing.
4. Assassinations that look like accidents or that frame someone else.
5. Running brothels—exotic, low, or high-class.
6. Shaking down legitimate local businesses and/or city officials.
7. Serving as muscle for shady merchants and/or brothel-keepers.
8. Holding up outgoing ships or wagons.

Roll d20 – The gang’s colors are:
1. Black.
2. Red / scarlet.
3. Gold.
4. Forest green.
5. Royal blue.
6. Violet.
7. Silver / light grey.
8. Bronze.
9. Tan / khaki.
10. Brown / beaver.
11. Dark grey / gunmetal.
12. White.
13. Maroon.
14. Sky blue.
15. Navy blue.
16. Dark brown / chocolate.
17. Teal / turquoise.
18. Steel / blue grey.
19. Orange.
20. Olive green.

Roll d20 – The gang’s symbol is:
1. A skull.
2. A ghost.
3. An open hand.
4. A clenched fist.
5. An arrow.
6. A dagger.
7. A sword.
8. A hammer.
9. A crown.
10. A goblet.
11. The moon.
12. A star.
13. A fish.
14. A snake.
15. A badger.
16. A spider.
17. A rat.
18. A wolf.
19. A bear.
20. An eagle.

Roll d10 – Gangmembers often sport matching:
1. Shirts.
2. Jackets.
3. Scarves.
4. Vests.
5. Bandannas.
6. Boots.
7. Tattoos.
8. Hats.
9. Scars.
10. Mustaches.

Roll d10 – The gang’s leader is:
1. A dangerous megalomaniac.
2. A charismatic demagogue.
3. A mysterious foreigner.
4. A talented thief.
5. A well-known public figure.
6. A ruthless killer.
7. A femme fatale.
8. A charming rogue.
9. A dashing swashbuckler.
10. A brutish thug.

Roll d12 – For recruitment, the gang targets individuals who are:
1. Artisans.
2. Relocated peasants.
3. Sailors.
4. Drunks.
5. Beggars.
6. Thieves.
7. Servants.
8. Combat veterans.
9. Laborers.
10. Foreigners.
11. Young children.
12. Circus performers.
13. Orphans
14. Slaves
15. Law Enforcement
16. Politicians
17. House wives
18. Merchants
19. Farmers
20. Travelers

Roll d6 – The gang’s goals include:
1. Domination of the city’s politics.
2. Domination of the city’s trade.
3. Revenge against a rival gang in the same city.
4. Revenge against a rival gang in another city.
5. Revenge against the city’s elite.
6. Rebellion against the city’s elite.

Roll d10 – Gang members typically arm themselves with:
1. Wooden clubs.
2. Throwing knives.
3. Over-sized daggers.
4. Serrated daggers.
5. Daggers and crossbows.
6. Hammers and daggers.
7. Sticks and stones.
8. Shortswords.
9. Brass knuckles.
10. Bare fists.

Roll d10 – Gang members typically fight with:
1. Swarm tactics.
2. Hit-and-run tactics.
3. Ambush tactics.
4. Choreographed maneuvers.
5. Unpredictable maneuvers.
6. Lots of smiles and jokes.
7. Lots of fancy footwork.
8. Lots of screaming and shouting.
9. Kicking and stomping.
10. Lots of head-butting.

Roll d12 – The gang’s headquarters is hidden in or near:
1. The residence of the leader or a senior gangmember.
2. An artisan’s shop or guildhall.
3. A merchant’s office.
4. A tavern.
5. A brothel.
6. A warehouse or shipyard.
7. A temple complex.
8. The city’s sewers.
9. The town hall.
10. An abandoned guildhall or warehouse.
11. A shantytown
12. The residence of a wealthy individual.

Roll d12 – The gang is feared or respected by:
1. Fishermen and sailors.
2. Beggars and thieves.
3. Merchants and moneychangers.
4. Jewelers and gemcutters.
5. Politicians and magistrates.
6. Guards and sheriffs.
7. Soldiers and warriors.
8. Gladiators and pugilists.
9. Peasants and farmers.
10. Servants and slaves.
11. Priests and sages.
12. Women and children.

Roll d12 – Distinguishing feature for an individual:
1. A nose ring.
2. Shiny leather boots.
3. A hole in the toe of one boot.
4. A dagger in each boot.
5. A heavy gold chain around the neck.
6. A wide-brimmed hat.
7. A dagger tattoo on the forearm.
8. A snake tattoo around the arm.
9. A maniacal laugh.
10. A long, hooked nose.
11. An open shirt and a very hairy chest.
12. Extravagant mustaches.