Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Empress 2.0!

This is a bit out of nowhere.  In short, I just drafted a new set of rules for Empress, my homebrew FRPG.  As the post title suggests, we're going to call this Empress 2.0, for now.

Here she is!

What's different?  In a nutshell: it's much simpler.  I reduced the ability count from seven to five, and that's with adding Luck as a new ability.  Armor is handled simply by increasing the Hit Class, with some rare attacks halving or nullifying the armor contribution.

Also, magic is a lot simpler.  Rather than describe a complex framework for custom spell casting methodologies, I reduced it to two: a semi-Vancian system, with slow-cast spells being stored up in a limited container for fast-casting (sorcery), and a fatigue-based system where casters develop mutations or restrictions as they advance (witchcraft).

I've added a few concepts, mostly stolen from Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC).  There's the aforementioned Luck, of course.  In this case, all characters regain a Luck point per day.  There's also a skill in Cantrips, which can basically be used to apply Luck to other characters (and also as a penalty), and to have it occur based on conditions.  It yields double the bonus of a simple Luck expenditure, as well.  This is an Explorer skill (my renaming of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess' (LotFP) Specialist) rather than a straight-up mage art, and it kind of simulates the mechanics of the DCC Halfling.

I also introduced my own system for feats which is based on Mighty Deeds.  Basically, all characters are encouraged to supplement every attack with some special effect.  The damage will always succeed if the attack hits (assuming the attacker wants to do damage).  The feat will succeed if (1) the attack succeeds by an amount based on the difficulty of the feat, and (2) if the defender fails a saving throw.  Warriors have an advantage, here, since they can take combat specializations that decrease the required margin of success to activate the feat.

The kind of mutations and restrictions that witches accrue, called "marks," are based partly on corruption from DCC, and similar ideas from Crypts and Things. The latter game influenced a number of these mechanics in subtle ways.  They show themselves most clearly in how damage is handled.

Finally, note that this is a work in progress.  Some of the tables are incomplete, and there's plenty of room for things to change.

Latest update: 2/10/2017

Without further ado...

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

More house rules for DCC - swords and crossbows

One of my very few nit-picky issues with DCC is how they categorize swords. They go with the old set of categories established back in the TSR days (I'm told 5e improves on this, which is IMO a good thing).  In those days, there were five swords types (that I can remember): short, broad, long, bastard and two-handed.  DCC does away with broad and bastard.

It was never entirely clear what the difference was between long and broad swords, and some rules (IIRC) permitted bastard swords to be used one- or two-handed, giving slightly different characteristics for each usage.  I could be wrong about that part, or it might just be edition dependent.  But the thing that irks me the most about this is that these names seem completely arbitrary, and create confusion when people talk about actual swords.

See, longswords are held in two hands

On top of that, most FRPG rules I've learned have left me a bit cold where crossbows are concerned.  In this department, DCC is quite the offender.  There is quite a bit of variation in crossbow damage, range and reload speed, and DCC only has one crossbow.  On top of that, somehow it has a range in excess of a longbow!

You aren't loading and firing this in one round!

I made a couple of table rulings on these matters, but they didn't quite sit right with me later, and they weren't properly explained.  So after giving it some thought, I revised my ideas a little and wrote them up for my players in an email.  That's what I'm going to talk about here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

DCC session report - Blackrock Manor #3 and #4

It's been a while since we visited that blasted suburb of Punjar, Blackrock, and its eponymous brothel - although, it should be noted that its owner, mistress Archimedia of...what was the name of her family, anyway?  Anyway, her - she renamed it "Blackrock Manor."  And why not?  It's no less a manor than a brothel.  The reality is neither; it is the rat-infested and rain-sodden guildhouse of a budding adventurer's guild.

That's nothing new, just a bit of a background recap.  Except for the part about the new name.

Anyway, when last we visited our intrepid adventurers, they were emerging into the sun, blinking furiously and too parched to form words.  As they greedily eyed the babbling brook, looking to slake their collective thirst, a peculiar troupe of imps had emerged from the forest path bearing an unconscious priest.  Upon sighting the party, they had laid down their recumbent cleric as a disembodied voice bid them to feast on your flesh.  That's pretty much where we left off.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

DCC supplement review: Hubris

Hubris (full title: Hubris - A World of Visceral Adventure) is a new DCC supplement that I heard mentioned in a couple forum posts just a few days before it popped up in DTRPG.  It's written by Mike Evans on behalf of his own (suitably-named) DIY RPG Productions, and what you're getting in 347 pages is a complete Appendix N setting for DCC.  This includes cultures, creatures, gods, patrons, classes and other bits and bobs that make up a fully gameable world.

Pretty visceral!

The question is, of course, is whether it's a good one.  As usual, I won't keep you in suspense with my overall verdict: it is quite good.  In fact, if you're looking for an out-of-the-box straight-up Appendix N setting for DCC (more Appendix N that Aerth), then this should be near the top of your list of things to consider.  Hubris has one foot firmly planted in the school of Conanesque low fantasy, with bloody swashbuckling against evil priests, and serpent men with their armies of slaves.  The other foot is rooted in science-fantasy, borrowing from the imagery of steampunk, post-apocalyptic mutations and cybernetic body horror.  There are no Clerics or Tolkienesque demi-humans.  Like I said, très Appendix N.

All that being said, it's not my perfect supplement.  Instead, for me, Hubris in an excellent source of ideas, and perhaps a place my players could visit if the party gets sucked through one of those random portals that adventurers seem to run into.  Despite my own misgivings, it may work perfectly for you, so read on to discover what the hell I'm talking about.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Dake the Rake's Guide to Adventuring

I’ve been an adventurer for fourteen years now.  Note that I did not say that I am a “great” and “mighty” adventurer, nor “brave,” nor “clever.”  No, it is enough to say that I have walked this path for fourteen years upon and beneath the face of Aerth, and I am alive to write this.  If that is not meaningful to you, then you should embark upon a life of adventuring, and if you still draw breath one month hence, I believe that you shall read my words with renewed eyes.

What follows is merely advice for one who would also seek to survive long in this profession.  If you observe the wisdom of the verses that follow, you stand a chance of enjoying the wonders and horrors of a life of adventure.  I will add no disclaimers that you have not already heard from mother, father, or friend with sense.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thoughts about Super Science

As I mentioned in another post, one of the little projects that I'm working on is to design a Super Scientist class for DCC.  My objective here is twofold.  First, I want the class to play very differently from all the base DCC classes, to not merely be a Wizard re-skinned with gonzo science-fiction trappings.  That sort of thing is lazy, and represents an excessive blurring of lines between literary magic and literary science.

My other objective may seem to be at odds with my first: I want the Super Scientist class to be "arcane" enough that it could easily be a stand-in for a more fantasy-oriented magician like an alchemist, or something even less defined.  It is enough that one called "wizard" has access to weird powers and strange trinkets.  We want to find a place between magic and science fiction, whereas the DCC Wizard is (mechanically) firmly rooted in fantasy.

There are a lot of settings and concepts that could accommodate the class, as I envision it.  Consider the bizarre "wizards" of The Land of One Thousand Towers, in Patrick Wetmore's Anomalous Subsurface Environment.  These power-mad tyrants each control fragments of a ancient technologies, technologies so advanced as to accomplish wondrous things.  One has learned how to produce armies of obedient dog-men, while another is able to build powerful firearms that bind their wielders to his will and gets around in a giant flying metal head the shoots lasers from its eyes (of course).

There are examples closer to home, like the Venture Bros., Hannibal from the A-Team and even that 80's TV classic, MacGuyver.  The point is that we can conceive of this class as something that straddles the divide between art and science.  The Super Scientist is able to do extraordinary things, and the outcome of his endeavors is always affected by chance.

How, then, is the Super Scientist different from the standard DCC Wizard?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An RPG review: Crypts and Things Remastered

It's been a while since I've posted anything here; that's mainly because I'm still working on some new content (the DCC adventure I mentioned in an earlier post, as well as a completely novel DCC class...more on this another time).  I've also absorbed even more tabletop RPG content.  It's really getting out of hand.

Anyway, I've been running out of DCC materials that catch my attention, and I promised Stan that I wouldn't look too closely at Purple Sorcerer Games - this because he's thinking of running one of their DCC adventures!  But there's still plenty of other stuff, and I can't really help myself.  

Just the other day I was re-reading the excellent The Black Hack.  I am intrigued by an OSR game that requires players to make all the dice rolls.  Attacking?  Roll to hit.  Being attacked?  Roll to avoid.  TBH also introduces a unique mechanic to simplify and abstract bookkeeping for supplies: resource dice.  Quantities of identical items are roughly measured by a die of a certain size (d20 for "a lot," d12 for "a bunch," and so-on until d4).  When a character uses one of these items, roll the resource die - on a 1-2, drop the die size by one (e.g. a d12 becomes a d10).  If the resource die was a d4, rolling 1-2 means that it's depleted.

Anyway, something I picked up recently was the very intriguing Crypts and Things Remastered. Written by Newt Newport and published by d101 Games, available on DriveThruRPG in hardcover, softcover and PDF forms.  Like TBH, it's a (relatively) simple OSR game with a number of unique mechanics.  The rules are tightly bound to the setting, which is a very specific swords-and-sorcery world that draws heavily from Appendix N literature.

See, I'm getting better at this!

So let's get into some specifics.  What's to love about C&T?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Irresponsible acquisitions!

This is going to be a short post.  I wanted to mention that I've picked up a few DCC adventures since Journey to the Center of Aereth.  There's been a lot of intriguing materials lately, much of it from DCC publishers Goodman Games.

Let's see what I got...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

DCC session report - Blackrock Brothel #2

When last we left our heroes...

In this session of the Blackrock Brothel campaign, we return to our intrepid adventurers as they have reached the bottom of the wizard Nekros' subterranean sanctum, a bizarre scene: at the bottom of a gaping two-mile deep shaft, reached after two days of marching down an interminable staircase, there lies a lake of acid, inhabited by colossal leeches, spanned by a set of narrow circular bridges.  At the central convergence of these bridges there waits a gigantic mound of guano.  This is the home of a wizard, and clearly, the ways of wizards are not the ways of ordinary men.

For this session, the following players were in attendance:
  • Stan, in charge of Grognard the Dwarf and Courve the Thief
  • Xavier, running with the priest Dar Shasta and Archimedia the Thief
  • Steve W., stepping in for Brendan to manage Sizarius the Wizard, and the mighty warrior Greg
In the real world, our session was delayed by about an hour due to connectivity issues, and the need to bring Steve up to speed.  I was worried that this would leave us without enough time to stab things and generally dampen spirits, but once the action got started, my fears were proven groundless.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sine Nomine and the sandbox

I talk a lot about DCC here, mainly because DCC is what I'm actually running right now.  And I'm running it because it's currently my favorite RPG; I'll probably explain that in another post.  But that doesn't mean it's the only RPG that I enjoy.  In fact, my interests aren't limited to OSR: for instance, now-venerable Over the Edge is my second-favorite RPG.

But OSR is definitely what has my attention these days, and that's what this blog is about.  In this post, I just wanted to say a few words of appreciation for Kevin Crawford's amazing work published by (his one-man operation) Sine Nomine.  I was reminded of this guy when I read through his latest work for Godbound, an adventure called Ten Buried Blades.  By the way, it's excellent.

Sine Nomine has been pumping out utterly fantastic sandbox content for an assortment of settings, always expressed through simple OSR mechanics. These settings are always terrific, and his variations on the OD&D ruleset are always clever adaptations to these settings.  But the real genius of Sine Nomine products is that they provide frameworks for the GM to create his or her own content in these settings.  By frameworks, I mostly mean a ton of well-designed tables chock full of inspiration and plot hooks.

Great stuff!  You may be wondering if I've ever actually run this stuff.  And the answer is: no, because I don't feel ready, yet.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Great DCC resource from Purple Sorcerer

I just discovered the online DCC resources from Purple Sorcerer, and I'm in love. The have generators and dice-rollers galore, but the real star of the show is something called the Crawler's Companion.  This app (web, desktop and mobile versions available) manages to compress all the mechanics and resources of the core rules into a single piece of user-friendly software.

This is an extremely impressive feat.  The amount of reference materials here are amazing...basically, every detail of all the spells in the core rules are available.  When I say this is comprehensive, I'm talking about built-in tools for generating magic swords and demons.  And with all of these reference materials available, Crawler's Companion can roll the dice for you.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Writing a DCC adventure

My previous campaign was using my Empress rules, and I was going for something relatively low-magic, or at least a setting where magic is subtle.  I was going for something a little grittier and low-key, with plenty of intensity but not much flash.  That way, I reasoned, it would be all the more exciting and mysterious when characters encounter the supernatural.

Well, I've largely abandoned that approach, for now, and instead embraced the gonzo ethos of Dungeon Crawl Classics.  That doesn't mean I'll never return to a more low-key approach, but I've come to believe that getting players to engage with that kind of material requires a better GM than I am - at least, at this time. I've taken a step back from trying to create everything from scratch, and taking my cues from something undeniably successful.

That said, I haven't given up entirely on creating my own content.  Towards the end of my run with Empress, I had a number of ideas for an adventure, and I think there were some very strong concepts in there.  Long story short - it didn't quite work, in practice.  But I still think there were some great core ideas that I'm not ready to give up on.

So now I'm trying to take what I've learned from DCC, and incorporate it into a new treatment of this adventure.  I'm going to talk about some of my ideas, here, and in future blog posts, I'll probably release bits and pieces of content.

Be warned: if you're one of my players, there will be a lot of spoilers to be found.  You'll ruin some of the fun if you read these posts, so I'll be sure to keep any such material "below the fold."

With that in mind...

Monday, October 10, 2016

DCC arcane spell: Zeloc's Marvelous Domicile (v2)

It didn't take me long to realize that I needed to smooth out the power curve.  The marginal success results were so marginal so as to be outdone by a guy with a tent, while the maximal success gives you a teleporting invisible super-mansion.  Well, I kept the maximal results, but I improved the consequences of low-end success so as to justify its status as a second level spell of wizards.

No promises that this is the last version.

DCC arcane spell: Zeloc's Marvelous Domicile


I just put this together for my campaign based on a reward that a player requested.  Well, one character wanted a new spell and another wanted a nicer house, so their would-be employer suggested that he teach the wizard how to cast this.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

DCC session report - Blackrock Brothel #1

The basics

This is the first session report from my new Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign, which I have dubbed the Blackrock Brothel campaign.  The concept behind this campaign is pretty simple: first, we play the funnel adventure Hole in the Sky.  Then, any survivors from that decide to continue together and form an adventuring guild. I told you it was simple.

To get things started, one of the players is a member of a distant branch of a long-declined noble house, and that player, out of the blue, inherits an estate in a suburb of Punjar called Blackrock.  This estate was sold by the family a long time ago as fortunes turned sour, and as the surrounding district also declined, the so did the estate.  In one of its most recent incarnations, it was a brothel in Blackrock, so named because it catered to miners in the nearby basalt quarries.

Once these quarries ran dry, so did Blackrock, and now the estate is in a state of a shocking disrepair, fit only for rats.  The surrounding district is home almost exclusively to bands of squatters and stray dogs, both of whom can be occasional hazards.  The brothel-become-guildhouse has three rooms that a human could comfortably live it, and a heavy safe set into a room on the ground floor.  

In the setup, I tell the inheriting player that not three days after his character (Archimedia the Thief) laid claim to the place, the tax collector showed up with two thugs to demands 50 gp.  When his character protested that she had no money and just showed up, the collector said he would be back within the year, looking for twice that.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Review - Dungeon Crawl Classics #91: Journey to the Center of Aereth

When I read about the appearance of this adventure at this year's Gencon, I was very intrigued.  Right off the bat, the bullet points for Journey to the Center of Aereth sound like a checklist for a no-fail Appendix N extravaganza.  Just check out the blurb:

The stories have reached you: A world beneath our own, lit by a brilliant sun and ruled by sages beyond reproach, where magic has replaced the spoken word, the weakest slave is like unto a superman, and the domes gleam with hammered gold.

You’ve spilled enough blood to know better.

Your trek to discover the truth will take you through endless caverns, ancient causeways and along unknown rivers. An expedition worthy of true explorers, Journey to the Center of Áereth offers characters the adventure of a lifetime – or the means to a quick doom. The Journey awaits!

Did I mention that it's a level four adventure written by Harley Stroh?  I think that last bit is pretty important.  The consensus is that Mr. Stroh's contributions to the latest generation of DCC adventures are brilliant, and the consensus is right on this one.

But what about Journey?  Does it meet these lofty expectations?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review - Dungeon Crawl Classics #86: The Hole In The Sky

I decided to write up a review of this adventure, because I recently got into a forum conversation about it, and more shockingly, I actually had a chance to run it from start to finish.  How often does that happen?  Anyway, I'll spoil the review from the outset: it was a blast.  

I'll break the review into two sections: a spoil-free recommendation, and GM recommendations.  This way, if you just want to know if you'll like it, without ruining anything, just read the first section.  If you want to know enough to make an informed decision as a GM without regard for spoilers, read the second.  

Preamble complete!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Empress core rules - Section 6.8 - 6.9

Here's where we wrap it up: the master list of spell effects that we are using from LotFP, and some general guidelines for how particular magical effects should be handled.  That's it for the Empress core rules!

Empress core rules - Section 6.5 - 6.7

These subsections cover a few aspects of spells, such as new spell effects, how they are learned, and a standard notation system to describe spell effects.

Empress core rules - Section 6.4

This subsection is a biggie, because it covers (in comprehensive detail) all the ways you can tweak the requirements and challenges of casting a given spell, or even an entire school of magic.

Empress core rules - Section 6.1 - 6.3

We're starting to get into magic.  Here, we cover the basic concepts.

Empress core rules - Sections 4-5

This material is a bit more general.  Section 4 covers the hazards of adventuring that aren't strictly combat-oriented, while section 5 provides rules for experience and character creation.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Empress core rules - Section 3

This is the juicy stuff: combat.  I'd like to highlight the rules for initiative and armor.

Empress core rules - Sections 1-2

I said it would happen, didn't I?  For now, I'm just going to post the rules in chunks, as they currently stand in my big Google Doc.  If I find a better way to organize this stuff, I'll be circling back.

So let's get started.  There's a very brief intro, and then a big chapter on changes to basic character statistics.  Please forgive me for renaming abilities to attributes...in retrospect, there's no good reason for that.  I'll probably change it in a future version, but for now, it's all over the place.

Monsters with a twist: Vampires

Vampires are an old trope, but usually we keep circling around to Bram Stoker.  With all due respect to the wonderful Dracula and all that it has inspired, there's still a lot of rich vampire folklore from around the world that gets left unused.  What about Chinese hopping vampires?  

We don't even have to get that exotic, because even with the Germanic and Slavic folklore, there is great variation to the precise nature, powers of and proofs against vampires.  Isn't that just like folklore?

This is one of these situations where it can be very appropriate to embrace this variation. Vampires, if nothing else, are supposed to invoke fear, and nothing enhances fear like lack of knowledge.  You can make an interesting adventure out of the quest just to discover how to kill a particular vampire.

Anyway, that's my approach, here.

Monsters with a twist: The Fae

In my campaign, as you will see, I went a bit more gonzo with the Fae (or Fey, or Fay, or Faerie, etc.).  To call-out influences, I would say my primary one is Robin Laws creation of the Soulless from GURPS Fantasy II: The Madlands.  

Monsters with a twist: Ghosts

In this post, I'll be presenting my rendition of ghosts.  First I describe the general classification, and then I give an example of one kind of ghost.  

Be aware that the terminology I use in this description is somewhat specific to my campaign.  In this context, glamours and illusions don't just create a "hologram" type of illusion, but rather, create a kind of pseudo-reality.  Illusions are effectively real for those who experience them, while they experience them, although they aren't able to affect purely physical aspects of the world (although they may seem to).  For instance, a person can feel the touch of an illusion, and even experience pain from one.  But an illusion could not actually make a wizard fly up a hundred-foot cliff.

I mention this because some ghosts are capable of manifesting as glamours.  These illusionary forms can still be quite deadly under certain circumstances.  Particularly powerful illusions can outright kill a man, although a more subtle illusion (like the one described below) could simply force a man underwater to drown him.

Monsters with a twist

I'm a big fan of an approach that certain FRPGs (DCC and LotFP, in particular) use towards monsters, which is to make each encounter somewhat unique.  The approach that a lot of role-players fall into (and old-schoolers were just as guilty of this) is to view monsters through the modern lens of species and specimens.  In other words, if you've seen one ghost, you've more or less seen them all, allowing for variance in hit point totals.  

This is, in my personal opinion, a deeply wrongheaded approach.  Monsters should not be thought of as belonging to some cut-and-dried taxonomy.  Monsters shouldn't just be a collection of known strengths and weaknesses.  Each encounter with a being worthy of being called a "monster" should be memorable, and potentially suspenseful.

Prelude to Empress

One of the things that I wanted to share with this blog was my own OSR game,  which I am (now) calling Empress.  To be completely up-front about it, Empress is primarily built upon the solid core established by Lamentations of the Flame Princess, a game that I greatly admire.

I'll actually post my mechanics for Empress in another post.  For now, I'll talk a little about why I chose to build off Lamentations, and what new ideas Empress brings to the table.

Quarterstaves and damage modifiers - some random DCC house rules

I had a couple of simple changes that I wanted to introduce to my own DCC campaign.  I'll probably run these by the players, first, because the first of them could have a significant effect on play.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A new DCC class for elves: The Ranger

I really like the Ranger I came up with, but if I have to be perfectly honest, I must admit that there's not much that's very elf-centric about it.  Still, elves needed a new class, and DCC needs a ranger class, and both sorts of people seem to hang out in the woods a lot.  Squint, and it makes perfect sense.

Still, I really dig the class itself.  And as a bonus, there's no reason you can't be a human Ranger.  Just take out the infravision ,invulnerability to sleep and paralysis, and the vulnerability to iron.  Heck, the bonus to secret door checks still makes sense.  If you wanted to drop demi-humans from you campaign, it works out.  You can even let the ranger retain 30' of "darksight," because of all their nighttime activities.

Anyway, without further ado, The Ranger.

A new DCC class for dwarfs: The Rune Priest

I tried do something interesting for the dwarf...well, I tried to do something interesting for all of them, but I like how the Rune Priest turned out.  He's mostly a cleric, but he's missing a few things, and has a few other things in their place.  I don't want to spoil it, so read on.

A new DCC class for goblins (halflings): The Gremlin

So like I said, the next article, I would post an alternate class for goblins, my replacement for halflings.  That class is called the Gremlin.  These are a kind of Wizard/Thief hybrid with the native goblin luck-based powers.  One of their special abilities was a suggestion of my buddy Xavier: stealthy spell-casting.  It takes a bit longer, but who needs backstab when you have back-fireball?

Alternate race-based classes, and playable goblins, for DCC

This is the first of a series of articles where I'm posting alternative race-based classes for the Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) role-playing game.  I'm a HUGE fan of DCC, and I'm generally down with their class-as-archetype approach to character classes; indeed, that's one of the best reasons to embrace a class-based system.  And I also get the idea of how elves and dwarfs are supposed to be iconic and, well, archetypes.  Hence, race-as-class.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Countdown to pure excitement

Welcome to Artifacts and Relics, my OSR RPG blog. In case you don't know what "OSR" means, it stands for "Old School Revival." Revival of which old school? That's where the "RPG" comes in...as in "role-playing game," as in tabletop role-playing games.  You know, Dungeons and Dragons with all the funny dice, that kind of thing.  

By returning to the "old school," we're going back to the spirit of role-playing from the early days of the hobby.  I'm talking about stuff from the 70s and early 80s...the wild and pulpy sensibility before things settled into predictable patterns.  My own start in the scene goes back to the early to mid 80's.  The first ever RPG book I got was good old Expedition to Barrier Peaks, and that's probably a good representation of my own sensibility.

Anyway, this isn't really the place to come if you want to know what OSR is all about (or RPGs, for that matter).  At least, not for the time being.  I'll leave that for others; this site is going to be where I host all the OSR content that I'm not too embarrassed to share with the world.  I might write a couple of other articles about gaming philosophy, or review some published materials.  But for now, I'm intending to focus on putting my own stuff out there, in a pretty raw form.

Now that we got that out of the way, I'm sure you're wild with anticipation for the rest of the material here.  I won't keep you any longer - good reading, madam or sir!