Tag Archives: house rules

Time As A Resource

alarmclock-512When we talk about good adventures (and heck, even good characters), we often refer to “resource management.”  A good “difficult” encounter forces players to expend many of their resources in the form of spells, potions, hit points, gold, and other “tricks” that don’t renew until a long rest (think Bardic Inspiration or Rage). A good group of characters makes optimum use of their resources, possibly saving that big trick for later, instead of just using it at the first opportunity.

I think we can all agree that, in that list of “resources” characters have, time should be included. The problem with time as a resource is that time is sort of abstract, especially in an RPG. Much like weather and seasons, there is often no tracking of time within the game unless there is a compelling reason to do so. By and large, I think that’s a good thing. Often time of day is a bit of minutiae that is ok to forget about. But other times, we need something concrete for players to help them visualize the amount of time they have available to them in order to complete a task. Otherwise, you have the problem of the “five minute workday.” Continue reading

How To Make Poisons More Dynamic

I’m currently working on my next Two Page Mini Delve, and I’m going to be including a combat with a giant spider. I wanted to simulate, as best as I could, how a spider catches its prety. The spider web fit into existing rules structure as a “trap” with no problems. However, when I came to the part where a spider injects its prey with a paralyzing poison, I got stuck. Yes, there are plenty of poisons in the game, but I didn’t think the rules for them were dynamic enough. The basic poison template is: Ongoing X poison damage, and (sometimes) the target is [status effect], save ends all. That’s not what I wanted, for several reasons. What I wanted was something that represented rapid deterioration of muscle control, not “ongoing damage and status effect, save ends.” So, I kept looking. I found some monster poison attacks (spiders, specifically) that were a little closer to what I wanted – a secondary effect after the first failed saving throw. Better, but not quite. Finally, I found a solution to my problem, but not in the poison stat blocks. Continue reading

One Rule to Increase Roleplaying Engagment At Your Table

In the spirit of giving credit where it’s due, the idea for this post is not completely my own. It was mentioned in passing on the Dice of Doom podcast many episodes ago, and got my wheels turning. Since then, I have been testing the idea, both with my own group and with all of the tables I judged at Gencon. It works beautifully.

Getting players to go beyond naming off powers and actions in a generic way and move into being more descriptive can oftentimes be a bit like pulling teeth.  Sure, it’s easier to say “I use XYZ” power, or “I’m going to make an athletics check to jump,” but there is something lacking in the story when players don’t participate in the narrative to the same extent as the DM.  That is to say, the story and game are richer when players are as descriptive as possible with their actions. While I don’t think that there is one single rule that can help DMs to increase the level of description that players engage in, I do think that the following rule goes a long way. Continue reading

6 Gamma World House Rules: Part 2

On Tuesday, I posted about a few house rules I’ll be implementing with my new Gamma World campagin, which starts in about a week.  This post is a continuation of that discussion; these particular house rules are not specific to Gamma World, but could apply to any D&D 4e campaign.  I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Using 4d6 for trained skill checks

This is a concept I’ve been mulling over for almost a year now. I want characters that are trained in a skill to have a better chance of success and a more level set of results than a character who is just winging something on intuition and innate ability.  Using a trained skill, therefore, will be a straight 4d6 roll.  I know this will yield less “high” results, but it will also yield less swingy results. 4d6 yields results between 12 and 16 about 50% of the time. Results between 11 and 17 show up almost 70% of the time.  That means that a level 1 character using a trained skill with their primary ability will hit or exceed a DC 20 70% of the time. Am I concerned that this will make skill checks too easy for some characters? Yes, I am. If skill checks (and challenges) are always trivialized, I may end up either upping DCs slightly or leaning more heavily on group checks. Time will tell.

Session based leveling system

Because most of my players are seniors in high school, I know I only have them for two hours, twice a month, until the end of next summer.  I wanted to take the campaign all the way to level 10, and if I leveled them simply by experience points, they wouldn’t make it there in time.  So instead, the characters will simply level up every two sessions (once a month) regardless of what happens in those two session.  In this way, we will finish up the campaign in July before they all leave for college.  Of course, less bookkeeping on everyone’s part is another good reason to do this.  I’m free to put together whatever type of encounter I want, or have a role-play only session, without having to worry about hitting target xp numbers.  Hopefully it will put more focus on fun and flexibility.

These next two items aren’t house rules, but rather approaches I’m taking to campaign design.  Neither of them are my own ideas; unfortunately I can’t give credit where it’s due in one case because I can’t remember where I read it.

Using ex-players as villans

Instead of doing all the work involving the movement of villans in the background of the campaign, I’ve turned over the villans to three of my ex-players. They’ve each designed a villan for the PCs to face and hopefully defeat, and working with them, I’ve inserted them into the campaign at certain points. They also have a plan and timeline that the villan will stick to barring any reactions to character movements.  As the characters interact with the world, I will inform the “villans” of anything they would catch wind of, and they can adjust their plans accordingly.  Not only does this take a bit of work off my shoulders, but it also brings another real personality into the campaign, and hopefully simulates the villans more realistically because my ex-players will only be reacting to the information about PC movements that I choose to give them.

AngryDM’s Project Slaughterhouse

Presented in his Schroedinger, Checkov, and Seamus article, this last campaign planning tool is something that I may or may not end up using.  It’s a great idea, and since the campaign will be taking place in our “Gammatized” town, the location-with-claimed-territories requirements are met.  However, I’m going to wait and see if the group leans towards hooks involving more sandboxy faction politics or if they lean towards linear hooks.  If they want to reclaim territories in town or shift power from one faction to the other, I will certainly be implementing this. However, if they choose to follow more “railsy” paths presented to them, I’m not going to go through all the planning work involved.  This one will all come down to player preference, and since I haven’t played with this group yet, I’m going to wait on committing to it.

6 Gamma World House Rules: Part 1

In the original Gamma World, Domars were described as rectangular pieces of colored plastic

In just a couple of weeks, I’ll be starting a Gamma World campaign with a new group. As mentioned previously, my last group broke up because they all went off to college, and so I was left with an empty game table. The library (where I DM) was open to me continuing “game night,” so I got another group together; however, they want to play Gamma World.

While I’m a little sad to not be running D&D on a regular basis anymore, I’m also quite excited to really take Gamma World out for a campaign long test drive.  I have lots of plans, and you can expect me to share them with you in the coming months. (Never fear, there will still be D&D content to be found here on a regular basis)

With that in mind, I’m going to be implementing some small house rules that will hopefully make the game more fun in the long run. I felt house rules were necessary because Gamma World seems to have been designed with as low complexity as possible. That’s fine for a one shot (which is how most people use the system) but I felt adding a little complexity might add to the campaign overall.

What follows are the first half of the house rules I’ll be implementing. These are the rules that will directly affect the players. On Thursday, I’ll be presenting rules changes from the other side of the screen, as well as a couple of “out of the ordinary” campaign planning tools I’m using.


I think the biggest change will be the (re)addition of domars to the game. In case you are unfamiliar with earlier editions of Gamma World, domars are the currency of Gamma Terra. By using domars instead of a bartering economy, I’m actually removing a bit of DM work from the game. I don’t have to figure out how much Omega Tech equals a tank of gas when PCs want to make a trade. Also, I’m adding a resource to the game – I can drop it as treasure, or allow the characters to circumvent obstacles by spending it (e.g., buy train tickets instead of making a travel skill challenge). So, adding currency removes a layer of complexity for me, as the DM, and adds a layer of (hopefully fun) complexity for the players through a spendable resource. It’s also a necessary addition in order for me to implement…

The Black Market

The Black Market will be a specific location in the PC’s home area where they can buy and sell Omega Tech and Alpha Mutations (in potion form). There are a few reasons I’m doing this. First, it will simply be a fun location full of all sorts of characters. Second, buying items in the market will be the only means of players building custom Omega and Alpha decks. So instead of starting at level 1 with a deck stacked full of items and mutations they want, the players will have to earn domars through adventuring in order to buy items for their decks. Hopefully this will create more investment in the items that a player owns. Now, that’s not to say I won’t also be giving out random Omega Tech as treasure, but the market will allow players to buy items from their “wish list” instead of hoping something they want comes up in a random draw.

There will be a future article explaining how I will price Black Market items, as well as how I will determine the amount of treasure to give out in the form of Domars.

Alpha Pen

The Alpha Pen (or “AP”) will be a consumable item that looks a lot like an Epipen. It will allow a player, as a free action, to dump an Alpha Mutation they don’t like, and draw a new one from their deck. This particular mechanic won’t change the game too much, as the APs will be quite rare, but I thought it would create an interesting decision point for players – when is an appropriate moment to spend such a rare consumable?

Partially Non-Random Characters

Yes, I get it.  The whole point of character creation in Gamma World is “hey! totally random!” but I wanted to give my players at least a tiny bit of control over what their final character would look like.  And really, it was a truly tiny bit.  Instead of rolling their third skill, I allowed them to simply choose it.  On top of that small amount of control it gave my players over what their character would look like, it also gave them the opportunity to make sure all the skills were covered.  As it turned out, there is a LOT of “interaction” at the table and none of several other skills, so we’ll see whether they try to actually cover their bases, or just go with what seems interesting.

I’m interested to see how these changes affect gameplay. If I had to guess, I’d say the Alphapen won’t change too much, but the Domars and Black Market will be radical changes – for the better, I hope. What are your thoughts?


Using T0rtvre

I had to change the title and content of this article because of the disturbing number of people who search “t0rtvre” and find this blog.  Not D&D specific, mind you, just that one word.  So I’ve changed every instance of the word in this article in the hopes that I’ll be demoted in Google’s rankings, while still preserving its usefulness to DMs.

The subject of this post most likely has made you a bit uncomfortable. I will freely admit that, even as I type this, I too am a bit uncomfortable with the idea of using t0rtvre in my campaign. That’s a good thing. It makes you normal.  Hang on to that feeling as you read this. Having said that, I am going to delve into an argument for using t0rtvre in a campaign, and then give you a bit of homebrew “crunch” to help you implement it.

Before I begin, let me point out that there are two ways to use t0rtvre in your campaign.  There’s t0rtvre that the PCs inflict on NPCs, and there’s t0rtvre of PCs by NPCs. I’m not going to discuss the first kind of t0rtvre. There is a wide range of opinions on that subject, but  in the end it’s a decision that is made by your specific group.  Whether or not you want to put your players in the position of “we need this information NOW and this is the ONLY way to get it!” is up to you, and I can’t really answer how your group will react to such a situation.  Recently, television series have explored the use of t0rtvre by the heroes of the narrative, and whether it’s ok. “Lost” and “24” spring immediately to mind. You may want to start there if you’re considering allowing the PCs to use t0rtvre.


There is a long cinematic and literary tradition of villans using t0rtvre on the heroes of the story. If not t0rtvre, often a “slow, painful death” which isn’t really that far from t0rtvre. Wesley is t0rtvred in Princess Bride. James Bond is t0rtvred in Casino Royale. Han Solo is t0rtvred in Cloud City. There is an entire “Legend of the Seeker” episode depicting Richard being t0rtvred by his captors (yes, I watch Legend of the Seeker). And those are just the examples that come immediately to mind. While we may cringe at such a scene, we accept it as a plot device because the evil nemesis in the story is the one perpetrating the t0rtvre.

Considering this, why don’t we see t0rtvre more often (if at all!) in our campaigns?  Chances are, the DM is uncomfortable t0rtvring a PC; perhaps the DM feels he is condoning t0rtvre by using it, or perhaps there is a feeling of “I am doing this” rather than “the evil NPC is doing this.”  Neither of these statements are true.  Here is a statement that is true: sometimes, doing what is uncomfortable can take you to new and unexpected places; this is especially true when you’re telling a story.  Even though the idea of t0rtvre makes us uncomfortable, it is an appropriate thing for the villans in our stories to do.  You may find at some point that putting your reservations aside and using a villan to t0rtvre one of your PCs will move the story forward, make the villan that much more despicable, and create very real dramatic tension.


Assuming you agree, the problem with t0rtvre isn’t necessarily a moral one, but a logistic one.  In other words, how do we use t0rtvre when the party usually stays together?  Using NPCs to rescue the party from a t0rtvrer makes them the victims, not the heroes.  T0rtvre is only an effective plot device when the party has been split in some way.  Ideally, one party member is somehow separated from the rest, and the focus of the adventure suddenly becomes rescue of the missing comrade.  Here are a few ideas to help; whether you want to take advantage of such a situation if it arises, or if you want to deliberately create such a situation is completely up to you.

  • Instead of a TPK, some party members flee a fight, leaving the dying behind.
  • In the middle of a fight, some bad guys drag one party member away.
  • A party member voluntarily leaves the rest of the party to explore on their own.
  • Middle of the night abduction
  • A party member is captured between adventures


Here is what I came up with to houserule t0rtvre.  In my mind, there are two distinct aspects to defining t0rtvre.  First, the t0rtvrer needs to make the PC feel pain.  That will be an attack against their Fortitude defense.  Second, in response, the PC will need to wall off their mind from the pain so that they do not break.  That will be an Endurance check.  We also need to consider what will happen when the PC eventually breaks; the results of failure will depend largely upon the intent behind the t0rtvre, whether it be for information, to dominate the subject, or simply a means of slow death.   So here’s how the mechanic is going to work in my game:

I don’t want to treat the attack versus Fortitude as an “in combat” attack.  So we’re going to write that part up as a ritual, with a 1 hour “casting” time.  There will still be an attack roll however; the 1 hour prerequisite simply precludes an NPC from using this in combat.  It assumes that, for t0rtvre to be effective, the t0rtvrer needs ample time and the right environment.  Combat allows neither.  The attack roll will be based upon Wisdom.  I chose Wisdom primarily because that’s the ability tied to Heal; it seems to me that Heal, while generally considered the opposite of t0rtvre, would encompass knowledge of human anatomy.  If the PC is hit by this attack, the t0rtvrer is considered to have inflicted excruciating pain upon the PC, and the PC must now make an Endurance check to try and keep their mind from breaking under the intense physical pain.  For every Endurance check failure, the PC loses a healing surge.  Failure with no surges left is a complete breakdown of the PCs mind and body.  The t0rtvrer has won.  You could also use a “3 strikes” rule instead of losing surges – things would go faster, but the relative “hardiness” of high CON characters wouldn’t show through.

So what happens when the t0rtvrer wins? That depends upon the intent of the t0rtvre.  If the t0rtvrer is looking for information, it is conceivable that there could be bluff or intimidation checks after each failed endurance check.  In the spirit of simplicity, however, I’ll use one of three conditions: Compliant, Catatonic, or Dead.  The t0rtvrer chooses one of them when the subject is broken.  Compliant means the PC will do whatever the NPC asks, and willingly give true information.  In the future, the PC has a -5 to attack the NPC (in the event they escape, or attempt to).  Catatonic is a breaking of the mind, reducing all the PCs mental stats to 1.  Dead is, well, dead.

Here is a PDF of the rules, outlined as a ritual.

The wording of all this is intentionally vague; whether you want to describe in detail what is going on, or whether you want to simply say, “you’re being t0rtvred” is, again, up to you. 

A Warning

Please pay attention to your players and their responses to the t0rtvre.  If they seem excited rather than concerned, you should probably abandon the use of t0rtvre as a plot device.  If they seem eager to t0rtvre every single person or monster they come across, you should probably abandon the use of t0rtvre.  Also, I wouldn’t recommend using t0rtvre on a regular basis; like most extraordinary circumstances in our campaigns, less is more.  Once is usually enough.

Even if you’re not intending on using t0rtvre in your campaign, I hope I’ve at least given you something to think about.  I’d love to hear some thoughts.  It t0rtvre ever appropriate? Would you ever let the PCs do it?

Large Scale Naval Conflict In Your D&D Campaign

I recently bought the WorldWorks Games “Maiden of the High Seas.”  It’s a huge, beautiful papercraft ship for use in D&D and other fantasy games.  As I’ve been cutting, gluing, and folding, I’ve also been brainstorming ways to incorporate it into adventures.  After all, it would be a little depressing to do a bunch of work putting it together only to let it gather dust on a shelf somewhere.  One of my brainstorms involved a large scale naval battle.  Unfortunately, the size of the finished ship and the time it takes to build just one disqualifies using the papercraft model for such an endeavor.  It occurred to me, however, that there is a way to simulate something like this within your game – by dropping an already complete miniature ship battling game into your D&D adventure.

A few years ago, I got into the game “Pirates of the Spanish Main” by WizKids games.  I have quite a ship collection.  All my cards have been sitting unused on my game shelf for a while now, and it occurred to me that I could drop the entire rules set, slightly modified, into a D&D adventure.

For those of you who have never played Pirates of the Spanish Main, it’s a cross between a collectible card game (CCG) and a miniatures battling game.  Your ships come as pieces that you punch out of a plastic card (think credit card) and assemble.  Assembled ships are a little less than an inch across, and generally two or three inches long.  Each ship has a number of masts with cannons attached, a cargo hold size, a given speed, a point value and usually a special ability.  Players build fleets in a “point-buy” system; in other words, players agree on a number of points to build fleets with, and use the point value assigned to each boat (and special crew members) to choose ships.  Movement is free-form (there’s no grid).  During gameplay, players move around to attack one another’s ships, land on islands (which are also included in ship packs) and gather gold.

I hadn’t read the rules in a while, but after a quick refresher, I decided that I could slightly modify the rules to work in a D&D setting.  Here are the changes I made:

Drop the Exploration & Gold Gathering Aspect

For the purposes of what I want to do, there’s no reason for players to gather gold.  They’re only engaging in a naval battle.  So immediately, the rules for exploration, pillaging others’ ships, and cargo hold capacity get thrown out.

Drop the “Ram,” “Pin,” and “Board” Rules

Pinning and Ramming add something to the game, but they’re too detailed for what I’m trying to do – make a boiled down version of the game.  Plus, I have in mind a battle with one or two really big ships (the DM) against several smaller ships (the PCs).  Having one of the DM’s ships pinned during the combat would be akin to the PCs stunning a solo monster.  There’s a fairly good chance one of my players will want to try and ram anyways, in which case I’ll fall back on the rules as written, minus the pinning aspect.  Boarding is something I would want to “zoom in” on and use the big papercraft model ship for, so I’m dropping those rules as well.

Use a Grid for Movement

Dungeons & Dragons players are used to using a grid for movement, and to be honest, I always thought the free-form movement rules for the original game were a bit fiddly.  I replaced free movement with a simpler, grid-based, rule: short equals 2 squares, and long equals 3. I left the rest of the movement rules intact.

Adding a Risk Component

I needed to incorporate an aspect of risk to the battle as well.  After all, if there’s no fear of death, why would it be fun?  So I added the following rules:

  • If your ship is sunk, you need to make a moderate DC athletics check every subsequent turn.  If you fail your athletics check by 5 or more, you sink below the waves, and die.  (Note: Hardcore DMs could probably leave out the “by 5 or more” part.  I certainly considered it, but I guess I’m a bigger softie than I’d like to admit.)
  • If you haven’t died, any ship can pick you up as a minor action by stopping in one of the squares you sank in.  You are now considered a musketeer aboard that boat, and roll your own attack roll on that ship’s turn.

Making it More Familiar

Finally, I decided to use the action economy that D&D has, to make the game more familiar.  On their turn, each player gets a minor, a move, and a standard, with the same “trade down” system that D&D uses.  Not only does this put the players farther up the learning curve, it will also move the combat along; the original game only allows a move OR an attack on your turn.

An Anachronistic Problem

Of course, there is also a “fluff” issue we have, but it’s easily solved.  Most D&D settings do not have gunpowder, let alone cannons.  Instead, we’re going to say that every ship has a wizard in each crow’s nest.  These wizards are one-trick ponies, but they do that trick really well: they can only cast “Force Orb” (PHB p. 160) as an at-will power.  There are varying degrees of ability among these wizards, which explains the different ranges and to-hits of each cannon.  Finally, it’s a good way to explain why there are only a number of cannons as there are masts, and why you can no longer shoot the cannon when the mast is destroyed.  You might also introduce the “mast wizards” earlier in the adventure to help players suspend disbelief when you introduce the naval battle.  As a note in the rules, I described them as wizards that have been nicknamed “canons” because they are generally smarter than the rest of the crew.

Check out our Downloads page to view the full rules set that I gave my players as a handout.

The idea is to have one or two big ships on the DMs side against one ship per PC.  Referencing ship point values is the best way to make sure the encounter is balanced.  For example, the DM could pit two 15 or higher point ships against five or six 4-6 point ships.   The best resource I have found on ship names and their point values is at Miniature Trading.  They have complete lists of all the ships, and their point values, though you have to click on a ship’s name to pull up its point value.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, WizKids no longer makes the Pirates of the Spanish Main booster packs.  Fortunately, at the time of this writing, the secondary market for these little ships is still booming.  Aside from the Miniature Trading site, you will want to check out Ebay and Amazon, and you can also check out online game sellers like Troll & Toad.  Most dealers that carry Magic: The Gathering cards and D&D Miniatures will carry the ships as well.  I might also mention that there were several expansions to the game such as Pirates of the Revolution, Pirates of the Barbary Coast, etcetera, so feel free to use ships from those collections as well.

Hopefully, I’ve sparked your imagination a little bit.  Perhaps you have no use for naval combat, but there are a myriad of miniatures games out there.  What others could we easily drop into our D&D games to change things up?

Hacking Gamma World – Some Houserule Ideas

Well, I finally got to try Gamma World.  Let me tell you, the game met all my expectations.  As a D&D 4e player, it was incredibly easy to pick up, but because of the Alpha Mutation/Omega Tech cards, it felt like a very different game.  Hats off to you Wizards of the Coast.

Now, I’m not going to go into an in-depth review of the gameplay or character creation or who played what at the table or even what the adventure was like.  It’s been done, and I don’t need to do it too.  What I will do, however, is discuss some ideas we kicked around a little bit afterwards.  Since the cards were the biggest difference from D&D 4e, we mostly talked about ways we might house rule their usage.  Please bear in mind that we haven’t tried any of these things yet, they’re still ideas.  And hey, if you take one of our ideas and use it, let us know how it worked out in the comments!  Below are mostly thoughts summarized by myself and Tyson, the DM.

Tyson: I think you should have to build your deck like “triangles.”  For every Uncommon, you have to have 2 Commons to support it. For every Rare, you have to have 2 Uncommons to support it.  So the minimum 7-card deck could be 4 Commons, 2 Uncommons, 1 Rare.  To get a second Rare you’d have to double the deck size to 14; for another Uncommon you’d have to add 2 more Commons first.  That way you can’t just stack the deck with piles of awesome.

You could also do a “booster draft” with the cards that came with the game, especially when people don’t have their own decks. Divide them up, and let people pick one card and pass the rest on. You can stop after 7 cards, or keep going as long as you want.

Benoit: I like the idea of a booster draft.  It would deliberately stack the DMs deck with the least desirable cards.  Then you could work in rules that force players to draw off the DM deck in the same way that Alpha Flux (rolling a 1) is a forced draw off the DMs deck.

Tyson:  Omega Tech I think I would continue to distribute as random loot with only a DM Omega deck in play. However, there’s a way to incorporate personal “tech decks” into play in a way that makes sense.  At the start, no one would have their own Omega Tech deck, but instead would draw off the DM Omega deck.  However, when a card is exhausted, instead of going into the DMs “general” discard pile, you have the option of putting it into your own personal discard pile.  Then, once you have 7  discards, that becomes your Omega Tech deck. After that point, when you would next find Omega Tech you can draw from your deck with a roll of 10+ instead of drawing off the general pile. This would represent finding a power cell or some other means to repower one of your items.  Consumables still go boom, of course, and once you Salvage an item it gets removed from your discard deck.  I think this would work best in an ongoing campaign, where you’re cycling through a lot more Omega Tech than you would in a one-shot.

Benoit:  I know we talked about permanent Alpha mutations, but I don’t think the game was made to be played that way.  Some of the mutations are too overpowered to be permanent.  (The Angry DM thinks so too.  I asked him.)  Besides, I think half the fun is getting a new mutation.  However, you could make the mutations less “regular” without breaking the game, I think.  For example, you could rule that you only mutate at the end of combat if you rolled a natural 15 or better in initiative.  This could represent a larger than normal adrenaline crash after combat, triggering a mutation.  I also liked the mutation variety given by Beta Moss [fantastic terrain], and think there should be more of that.  Also, players should be able to partially control their mutations.  For example, you could give each player a “mutation potion” periodically.  Spending the potion (and a minor action) would let them dump a mutation they don’t like in order to draw a new one.  It would be another resource for the players to use, and gives a little control back.

I also like the idea of being able to pick up Omega Tech mid-combat.  The DM could mark certain monsters on the board as having “a really big gun” strapped to their back.  Once that monster is dropped, anyone adjacent can use a minor action to “grab the tech” (draw an Omega Tech card), but ONLY if they agree to use it immediately.  Kind of a desparate “grab this thing and just pull the trigger, I hope it works” kind of idea.

I’ll leave you with this:  as we were playing I kept thinking “Men in Black,” especially when looking at some of the Omega Tech.  I guess it didn’t help that the first piece of Omega Tech I got was the Disruptor Pike.  I took one look at its attack and said, “Hey, I got the Noisy Cricket!”