Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wobble: Fellowship of the Rings

Wobble Exploratory Report 15-178: In (one of the Verses), Earth has been moved to the Saturn subsystem because our solar system is actually a binary system. The second sun's name is Jupiter, so things are a lot warmer than compared to our own. Two Earth-to-orbital towers at the opposite sides of the the equator, are ran by different AI, T3lp3410n and 7au4e7ln. Both have bristling low orbit harbor business but the species of each are distinctly different going. T01k13n is the world's main AI, and very much its ruler.

A species known as the "0rk" seem to be genetic spicing of humans and frogs. They are often used as essentially slaves of the humans, and other intelligent species there. The AI 5au40n is currently festering a revolt among the feral 0rks.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Arrows of Indra, a Dash of India

I picked up John Tarnowski's Arrows of Indra the other day. I've been trying to come to terms with doing decent role-playing in India since reading the start of the Bhagavad Gita and buying the 5th edition of T&T back in 1980. I can be said to have been into things before the subject actually sold out. Despite my terminal hipness, can't say I was disappointed with the work.
Pretty much how as I would envision a Bronze-to-Iron age India to look.
The rule definitely come off as D20-driven, mostly because they are. Out of 180 plus pages, about sixteen to sixty of them could be set aside for charts. Each of the Classes get plenty of their own charts. Quite a headache to me, a Trollhead not an all-night OSR-rocker, but well worth it, if only for RPGPundit' s, Tarnowski's alter-ego, amusing didactic tone, which means if you don't get the joke at least you might have questions like "why shouldn't there be a 'What is a role-playing game?' section in the introduction?" answered fully.

The author works the India of myth and folklore into classic D&D, AD&D, The Arduin Grimoire, and other works style and form of Pre-80sHistory in my mind's eye. For the types of characters the player can chose there is the Fighter, Thief, Magic User (Siddhis), Cleric (Priest), Paladin (Virakshatriya), Ranger (Scout), Monk (Yogi), and, yes, Assassin (Thugees).  The obligatory old school Alignment section is rather graceful with "Holy," "Neutral," and "Unholy," which I am sure anybody can add an adjective here and there to get the real black/white/or not figurative, but crucial, point keeping going. In this setting, more so than the Tolkien-based usual FRPG, it makes sense to a degree. If one goes too deep, one gets into the whole ethnocentric versus diverse thing and, in my opinion, should be the book goes into the detailed description of the most recognized and honest about itself Caste system in all of history. Interestingly enough, the Player-available fantastic species, Races, inhabiting the setting are strictly straight outta Magadha, just the Indo no Euro. Hold on T01k13nBOY#146, one can get in their Dwarf fix with a Yakshas while getting a monkey chaser (yes I said "MONKEY!!!") with the Vanaras. Of course when one gets to the creatures in the near back, there's a whole lotta book here, after the names, the reader will recognize more than few of the creatures of Greek literature, but still have a Yeti or two to spice things up.

What I liked most about is the indepth stuff that starts up about page page 153 (picked for a very specific item) and carrying on throughout the rest of the book. I'm not going into it, because it is the best portion of the work and you should read it. Nice take on the mythos, though, Tarnowski. On my personal scale of satisfaction upon the reading, I'd rate it a strong King Kong. There is little too much wrapping on the box, page graphics, and not more illustrations-- very personal taste there, I know. Like most OSR items, it reads like a textbook and the blocks text can more divergence than captivating. These bits are diminished by how much I am enjoying this well-researched and very gamer-minded the read is.

 NOTE: I only picked on T01k13nBOY#146 because it's such a kewl name.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bad first

Bad news first.

A bad email day
Somehow my main business, as in gaming and writing, email (TomK@...) has lost fourteen folders, as well as everything in my address book. This is a setback  in the production for "Apocalypse in Your Hometown" as well a major cramp in some personal correspondence. I think it was the email server, but if you start receiving spam mail from that account please let me know. Not much else to say here, except that annoying interweb misfortune-laden emails will be coming from me soon.

The Red Bat question
As GenCon has opened the flood gates to event registration there has been a spike in Red Bat rules sales. I am talking about tens of dollars US in one day. This, I think, has led to an email (from 08Qrts@...) asking me (at my Laggy@... account) "What the F#@!% is Red Bat: Cthulhu man?" I assume he, or she (yeah right), is actually saying "What the fuck is Red Bat: Cthulhu? I just gave you fifty-six cents (US) and there isn't one mention of a starspawn let alone the big daddy crawdad in that mutherfukking product!!! I hate you and want to eat you're entrails! " Maybe I am being a little oversensitive here.

A lecture before an answer. If you're willing to swear at a perfect stranger please don't be afraid to spell out the word "fuck" when swearing at me. Still, Quarts(?), if I may be familiar, I am not sure that I like your tone, hence the public admonishment-- not sure if I want to correspond via email. "Red Bat: Cthulhu," "TAG Cthulhu," and any other phrase that I have filled into the "Edition" slot of my game events at GenCon is code. I would hope that it tells the GenCon goer that perhaps all the official CoC events are filled up, but there is a bit more Lovecraftian-themed horror to be found. This has worked for about four years now, and the payback in terms of quality of players has been awesome.

Heck, thinking about it, I may just do a "Red Bat: Cthulhu" now to make it official and all that. Of course I'll just give it up for free because of my distaste at the whole August Derleth and Disney trademark phenomena in our current age. Of course, the artist and the editor get paid because I like real copyright claims.

"Crawlspace is already a LARP"
I am actually paraphrasing here. My little sister, Caed (aka Mz Fenner), were having breakfast when we started talking about her beloved Zombie Walk, both as a coordinator and a contributor, at GenCon(s) over various years. Of course I started coming up with a per-spectacle spectacle which was basically a LARP, which I promised would be less than a page long. And the reason why I love her so much became evident.
"Crawlspace is already a LARP." she said, I think.
I paused for a breathe or two, then starting making notes from there. So five months before GenCon 2015, we were planning LARPS for GENCON 2016. I don't know the Zombie Walk crowd well, but I hope my Rat-Pack Vs Cthulhu friends will be amiable to me stage managing something called "Vegas Vs. Cthulhu," I could use their help. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sasquatch of the Caribbean

A quick Crawlspace idea...

A band of pirates washed ashore on an island where there was once a Spanish colony, which now is deserted. There is even valuable items in the church, including a gold-encased crucifix. The huts are full of personal belongings and even modest money boxes are left behind...

Something is watching the Characters from the woods...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Wobble: Bits of Rho

This article is actually about the Rho Verse, not Pierre Rho the recurrent NPC in a couple Wobble game sessions. This universe is pretty well known among Wobblers because factions there have been Wobbling for about one hundred and seventy-five years, or so.

These dimensional travelers do not originate from Earth, instead seeming to have first began space-faring from a planet in the Sagittarius constellation. They are human as far as anybody can tell, and have amazing similarities to cultures of the Indian subcontinent on the Earth of Mu circa 1000BC-400AD.  Right around the time our world discovered the postage stamp and started fighting wars for opium trade routes, resident of the collection of worlds known as Greta Sansarum, or " ग्रेट संसारों " in its own language, has been exploring the verses.

These sixteen worlds, the Mahajanapada, are very technologically advanced, with faster-than-light travel between stars and short-range matter teleportation. Wobbling began as a side-effect of "teleportation" experiments gone awry. As far as anybody knows, these particular "Rhoesians," (for lack of a better term), are the most scientifically advanced beings outside of the Omega Verse, but that is despite their Wobbling efforts. For some reason, the Wobblers from these worlds just aren't doing very well at it.

The Earth in this Verse, is very similar to our own world during the 1940s, except that World War II has not broken out yet. That is because Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) have focused on areas not under treaty with France or the UK, nor attacked any American protected territories in the Pacific. This world has also started Wobbling, but around the same time as our world.

Nazi Germany has its Abwelt, whom is trying to contact the Uber-Worlds of the Omega Verse, which it learned about from some gabby Ubbans. The American corporation the Primrose Group, in San Francisco, California is also experimenting with Wobbling. Not surprisingly, this corporation started out as an archeological group doing research in India. For some reason the British Empire has no Wobble capabilities at this time.

This is the "Let's Kill Hitler!" universe for Wobble.


Friday, May 8, 2015

The Atlantis Saga is Gearing Up

Last night we had a video chat session as a character-creation "coaching" session. This mostly meant that Peryton and I coached The Curtis and Wildman through the Icon rules, both sets, as needed. The session was supposed to last forty-five minutes, but we were having fun so it went on for about two hours. The highlight for me was the last fifteen minutes or so when I could work on the nearly completed Characters' back stories and where they would be starting in the upcoming tale.

Wildman is Theta, whom I am picturing as a Nereid version of Power Girl-meets-Wonder Woman but with green skin and red hair. She is a godling, estranged from her Oceanid family line, because of her love on the surface world. Her "normal" life she is Theta Tethys Okeanus, a professor-emeritus at Cuyahoga State University, where she makes most of her income managing the student book store. She is something of an elemental sorceress as well as endowed with elevated athleticism.

Apparently, Charlie doesn't agree with my picturing
 Dojo Loach, the Curtis's character, was born William Earnest Frist, in Memphis, TN. He studied martial arts and joined the semi-criminal gang known as the Asian Carp. Headed by the Goldfish, the Carp gang, is a mixture of emigrated Shanghai tong members and American-born malcontents. As the gang is striving to infiltrate the Great Lakes region, Loach was promoted as a member of the Security section of it and transferred to Beta City.  He has of late come under the mentoring of Dr. Fish Mind, who is one of the dissenters with the Asian Carps criminal mindset.

Of course, Peryton came up with her full character concept minutes after we shut down the video window. Her character is Nyx, who's secret identity is (Haven't decided yet.. that doesn't mean you get to). Like Theta, this sorceress is estranged from her own aquatic family, the Nereid. She was destined to be the sorceress supreme of her sisters' coven, but couldn't get over the title of "The Sea Hag" as well as the evil-nature of activities by it. She now makes her way on the surface world getting by with a little help from her friends, she makes so many all the time, and little illicit work here and there.
Nyx's fraternal twin Nyss
Ben Lathrop, the Librarian, was not there, but he posted his character sometime ago. Dr. Rippington Tyde, world renowned master of radical hydrodynamics. Unknown to almost the whole world he is the Rip Tide, the Robin Hood of the Seas. Using advanced science and his invincible Hydro-Suit, this man strives to protect the people of the world from ruthless exploitation of the oceans and various waterways. Often considered a pirate by shadowy powers that be, he has to keep most of his work quiet.

I think the suit is actually blue
If Eloy Lasanta decides to play, I am hoping the poor guy will play my character the Torpedo. I really hate having my PC as an NPC ran by me as the GM. In my mind, I have to not just unbiased but trying to kill my dude to not ruin some cosmic rule about GMs using their own characters as NPCs.

Now if only Beckett would give me a hint as to what he is brewing up.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

White Star to Many Stars

Since Traveller, the sci-fi gamer has had more than a few choices of space-faring sci-fi, the kind with space ships and not time/dimensional travel. Unlike Traveller, most have been highly dependent on their setting, while the more generic the system, the less appealing they happen to be by the person passing by the game table. I bought White Star at the suggestion of Werdna, Scott Malthouse, and as usual with most of the stuff that he points me to, it was a very pleasant find. The game takes a step back from being solely setting driven yet it brings a nicely clear style to sci-fi gaming, which the tabletop dungeon-crawler might find entertaining for years.

Spahn works a lot with Swords & Wizardry, more specifically that OSR game's White Box edition. I think the "white box" means "now we're really getting down old school gaming--" this for a lot of old gamers is akin to how I feel when I break out Abba and ELO on Disco Saturdays. To keep things funky, multiple polyhedron dice are used to build a game system that fall subservient to the D20, but with an unadulterated infatuation with d4s and d12s. Before you start getting up your hopes that I am about to go into rule mechanics, stop reading this blog and go buy the publication already. Check out S&W while you're at it, it's a decent FRPG system as well.

The players of White Star can type themselves as an Aristrocrat, a Mercenary, a Pilot, and a Star Knight. If the player would like to play a non-human there are the Character Races of Alien Brute and Alien Mystic. The Robot as a character type is not forgotten either.  Not only does the author in one swoop get to Gary Gygax's "humanocentric" angle that he felt made role-playing games socially responsible or something, the author sums up 90% of every sci-fi TV show and movie ever made.  Not a small feat there, my hat is tilted here. Just for the polyhedron-chewer, I'll let it slip that each class has a chart with "+1"s and numbers like 160,000. Glibness aside, the character classes are easy for the casual role-player to jump into for a space opera setting.  Each of these classes definitely have unique abilities that the less casual table-topper will find crunchy.

Gamer crunchy bits, like equipment with ties to something called AC (anaconda corralling?) Saving Throws, Movement, and Combat are presented with quick paragraphs which nobody is going to read in a hurry, instead moving to the charts. Beyond that cluster special combat situations like "Negotiation"and invisibility get highlighted as well as glance at the upcoming Gifts and Meditations (PSYCHIC STUFF).  Reading through this, I found the multiple sections covering the more chore-like conventions of table-topping quite easy to read, with decent clarity with an eye to details that one would come across in sci-fi adventures. It wasn't even close to 100 pages long and no one went into star mass, gravity, kelvin, nor thousands of other things (including ice combat and roller disco) so some may be a bit at a loss here. The system is well-defined, but allows the GM to work out his, or her, take on the special things that will arise in the course of a campaign.

Spahn shows great skill at keeping his starship game very accessible. Space ships and vessel combat section was a special treat for me. The model presented for ship-to-ship combat takes up about two pages. Repair and staffing is boiled down to a couple paragraphs. Ship details get a bit entailed (more than a page), but the list of ship types makes things come together. Once again, as with the crunchy bits mentioned above, space travel (meaning the span of play) is left up to the game's referee. The Psychic stuff mentioned earlier defines the style of sci-fi that the player can expect by keeping the different types of characters, say Space Knights and Alien Mystics, in mind when filling the abilities out. As a dude that has designed his own sci-fi and Sphere Fantasy settings, I am impressed.

The encounters to be found, aliens and creature as they are called here, have am obligatory OSR format that only takes up a page or so explanation before the reader's eye is drawn to chart the numbers "1" through "20" are presented along with square brackets ( "[" and "]") really indicating numbers of dice. The Alien Descriptions though make the slogging there worth the effort though. The sixteen entries (17 if you count the Cyborg sub-class, but back to 16 if you discount a "Soldier" of any given species) are nice, succinct listing of popular sci-fi alien tropes as presented on TV shows, some movies, and in insular gamer publications (I didn't miss the wolf-faces from Palladium/TSR games). They are deconstructed a bit, so consider it a puzzle dear reader. But from Daleks to Reavers you got it here. Spahn knows his sci-fi and doesn't trip over trying to find an "ultimate" alien species, instead he has quick list, at least until compared to my thoughts on the subject, of species which players will find interesting and possibly familiar. The "creatures," meaning the beasts, of this section, is well worth the read, even if the treatise on the Insectus species would've been a better Alien encounter.

There is about a dozen pages of Advance Equipment which helps fill out the primer material of the rules where one can find their A.I. processor, Warp Gate, or Pheromone Spray as needed. This game really tries hard not to overlook a good yarn enhancer for sure. The campaign suggestions and the presented playable campaign is not throw away reading at all. There is a scenario at the end, which I haven't read yet because I am working on something myself for something else and don't want to be influenced by any particular in it.

The RPG White Star works for me. It works as both a read and as well as a playable game. It can be a framework for an enterprising GM/author to create some science fiction in role-playing that isn't just a publication licensed from a mega-franchise producing "game books." It has its appeal to the "OSR up to 11" that could very well turn it into long lasting fixture in this adventure gaming hobby of ours. The only drawback to me is the Lord Valentine's Castle/Dune/Star Wars monarchy in space angle incorporated in the character classes themselves, which isn't my particular taste in the genre. This hasn't stopped from watching movies based on the mentioned works, so it won't stop me from playing this game. James M. Spahn earns a Godzilla of a rating in my book.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Fat Shaming... er Summer Gaming

I won $35 on American Pharaoh and it is a beautiful day outside. The following picture has been accused of fat shaming, but for some reason I love it. Not just for the easy on the eye subject, but for how I feel this summer is going to be for my gaming life.

Shaming fat shaming supplement users? That'll work... right.
Now it hasn't been a long unfulfilled winter of no games to be had. Not at all.We've been doing game get-togethers both on-line and in person all winter. Peryton has actually been going stronger than I have. She's been running her Icon's Scrap Pile (a superhero group of ours since 2006 or such) campaign since last autumn. Playing in her campaign has pinged my creativity towards "niche" superhero settings, while I've kept fit doing Crawlspace sessions and even a T&T session.

I am excited about an upcoming on-line Icon's campaign that I will be doing over the summer. I mentioned the niche settings right, well this one is underwater. I call it "the Atlantis Saga." I need to come to terms with Aquaman. I am not sure why, but since December, the aquatic superhero in media has been vexing me. Issues of water crime (pollution, exploitation of resources, human issues) mix in the fantastic of Atlantis and all the Greek myths of water creatures and their clans. The four sessions I will be running, will help me get a grip on this runaway obsession.

My Aquaman character is named Torpedo. His outfit is green and orange though, unlike the first torpedo superhero, the Red Torpedo from Quality Comics.

I've been spending a lot of the downtime that I have at work, which isn't too much, writing out the nine sessions I will be running at GenCon this year. Perhaps this is where I feel disciplined. I mean it is like exercising, writing up all the drab notes to go around the few ideas that I hope friends and strangers will find at least interesting, if not sexy.

Then there is the Crawlspace Apogee writing and the release of Apocalypse in Your Hometown for JerryTel's Stay Alive. These are the daily dietary supplements to make sure that I fit into my rpg gamer swimsuit (IT's A SPEEDO!!!).

Are you beach ready? I sure am.