Friday, June 5, 2020

The Fifth World: Tawwashu

The map below was drawn in the darkness of a parking lot rather quickly, while I was trying to layout a tales worth of events located in that place after having typed it up. Between the typing and the map drawing, it was one hour and about twenty minutes. An area from a river bed to eroded set of hills almost two hundred yards above the areas where the river flooded in this valley. Some five kilometers from east to west, where about eight hundred humans and dwarves dominated over about 1,400 intelligent ("Speaking") living beings. To the overlords' bemusement the number of beings that show up weekly is growing by the handful almost weekly.   

What I didn't know that that the water creases in the paper that I drawing on would work out to such a wonderful topographical map of the area of game play that I was running.

Little did I know that where the side of my hands would crease the paper as I worked the "sandbox of play"  into such a topographical map without elevation lines.  You see, while I was busy picturing concentric, if irregular, elevation lines from the riverbed outward, on the left, into the rolling to jagged hills from upper left to lower right; the paper's creases would reflect the ridge lines within any certain elevation.
Now my players did not notice but while they were living out the soap opera starting before them, I knew exactly where they stood while things were going on.

Maybe I am too old Army. Maybe I was watching a map fill up in front of me while my role-players phoned it in. The delusion of a guy that knows how to call in artillery and provide security, while the actors before me performed characters discovering themselves in a RPG setting that isn't commonly published by better known games.

The Characters being:
Alanthea (a time traveling Delver from way off Peakvale)
Horex (Ironman Curtis trying out T&T for the first time)
Wunn (Jack's T&T character from Athebes)
Zhree (Shelly's crash test dummy for the campaign)
Tuu (My NPC after Wunn showed up) (1,2,3... get it)

Sometimes you just have to sit back and hate the players, but love the Characters. Follow us into Irkalla.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Getting Out and Meeting People

In the time when everybody can do a quick web search on their smart phone, I still am one of the few that tries to rely on memory when meeting people, even when my smart phone is a pocket away. I don't know why really. One of the reason's why is because of a long history of making major faux pas. I mean dudes, I am in my wet-brained fifties so why stop now?

A tale of the RPG-historic past, the two Daves. I am always mixing up Dave Hargrave and Dave Arneson. Even when I have met and chatted with them both. Sometime back in early 80s, maybe it was '79, I met Hargrave in Texas  and all I could remember was parchment works that I picked up, I just knew it wasn't Chainmail, so I complimented him on his Blackmoor work. His face turned stormy and he would not make eye contact for the rest of the small S-F convention. Pity because I had copies of his Arduin Grimoire and Runes of Doom a bike ride away, that I would've paid the two dollars to get signed when I saw his booth later.
About 25 years later in Indiana the wife was getting her Blackmoor book signed by Dave Arneson, and I told him how I really liked the "Trilogy." After some chit-chat we clarified that I was confusing Hargrave's parchment bound books with the parchment of Blackmoor. Luckily I was familiar with Don't Give Up the Ship and knew of the mythical Strategos. I am glad that I kept my mouth a little shut because until last night, I thought that Strategos had been published by SPI in the 70s.

Despite that tale, and more than a few others, I am glad that I don't go around being all-informed on exactly what the other person that I am talking to is doing or has done. Because when it works there is an honest connection with the semi-celebrity that I am talking to. And when it's bad things don't usually fall to pieces. This is especially after I hear too many names from this or that blogger or YouTuber and their particular relationship with this or that other blogger or YouTuber. Then there are the Twit Wars, that read like nice Mexican soap operas from afar but rarely are worth watching the sausage being made up close.
An example of how this worked out well for me when I had a drink with David Carradine, whom I knew was. I had bought him a scotch the day before because I liked his work in Kill Bill and he was at my side of the bar.  James Bamber(?), whom I did not recognize until Monk told me later, walked up. I suppose he walked over to us because things were so low key he must've thought I was safe if not somebody important. For twenty minutes of my life, I was bored chatting with TV show actors while my friends were just amazed half a restaurant away.
Truth be told, had I known I wonder if I had the balls to propose producing a T&T movie with them as leads. I mean I've had a script sitting in some manila folder in the work office since '99. I mean Carradine as the wizard Khazan and Bamber as my square-jawed protagonist? That would've been one heck of a Sci-Fi Channel (pre-Sy-Fy days) Saturday night movie for sure. I am sure it would've happened. As always, I just hadn't read everybody's social profile while sipping scotch and talking about the heat.

Maybe I should try harder? Nah. Sounds like work and this is supposed to be fun.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Luxxe (AWaW: 5th World)

A BRAND NEW ACRONYM So like follow-up A World a Week posts are now AWaW. That alone is worth its own blog article. Unfortunately this posting is going to be cluttered up with stuff about the Fifth World campaign I happen to typing up and stringing together. Sorry to be such a boor.

So The Lands of Luxxe
The city-state of Sevven is actually the focus of where the PCs will be starting out, but this regions placement on the map and where I tend to take pictures from while at my work desk, has made it the prominently noticed feature on the drawing. At the same time, Salway's hogboglins figure are apart of the area's dominating cultures, so Luxxe it is
 " The Oldest City of the Fifth World. This is where the civilization began according to the inscriptions around its sixteen city gates. It is also the largest of city-states of Beast Men that still remain on the surface of the planet.
Luxxe came together when the economic benefits of slavery versus just eating the captives started to take hold among progressives...Then during the Splash things changed. While these lands were spared everyone drowning, the world around them would never be the same."

The city-state is ruled by a Council of Elders. These are usually the leaders of the city's different factions that tend fall along species lines and their affinity to one another. 
" ... The Lizard Queen
This crocodile-headed woman is the leader of the Hissers, a coalition of reptilian humanoids that make up over half of the population of lands of the city-state when lumped together...
Armed Contingents:
Amphibian Corps- The main manpower and attack troops of the Luxxe Navy. They are often led by the Lizard Queen in major battle.
Man Bear-Pig
Mannu-Barpigg is from the hogboglins of the swampy lands of Wuldbe to the west of Luxxe. He is the city-boy of these clans as well as the leader of many of the pig-faced humanoids that dwell in the city...
Armed Contingents:
The Rooters- Currently led by General One-Eye Two-Tusks, this is one of the major gangs of the city-state as well as the main enforcers of the Slavers Guild.
The Gnome King
A large footed Hob that is a tenth level Wizard and the accepted chairman of the Gnomes’ Consortium. “Gnomes” is the term for shorter humanoids in Luxxe. This commonly means goblins, hobs, piltdowners, and many others, sometimes including the ratlings and frog folk...For half a century, the Hob has been able to keep profits growing and therefore staying in charge.
Armed Contingents:
Hoard Hordes-The cutest band of little cut-throats ever.
First Wizard of the Wizard’s Guild Lume-Incarnate
The mortal avatar of the Wizard-God Lume. He is a capable Wizard as well, being eleventh level and all. He is the head of the city-state's Wizards Guild. He is often taken to be the king of humans in the lands of Luxxe...
Armed Contingents:
Tower Guardians- These are very much feared soldiers throughout Luxxe. More than a few of the organizations movers and shakers are horned-helmeted Orcs. Those that aren’t orcs are sadists or masochists that really like a lot of discipline.
K-Earth, The Rebel Wizard
Being born...before the Splash, this fourteenth level Wizard is immortal has a storied past. He sought to abolish slavery. The other rulers of his homelands thought that he has gone too far and declared him “the Rebel.”
Armed Contingents:
Swampers- Folks that speak proper Luxxe but do not like slavery. Often persecuted so they stick to more isolated parts of the lands.

And then there are neighboring territories of Lake Glittertop, the Dawn Swamps, and the area of Wuldbe. I'll go into them a later.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

A World A Week: Fifth World, The Delta

So it was a really slow night at work last night. So slow I was chatting up people on my ancient flip phone looking to chat. Of course, Monk, a fellow night-shifter was there. So while talking about things, he found a convention that he wanted to attend as Adventure Gaming bruders. Rich coming from him as he always is "done with gaming" every couple of years, but hey I appreciate the inconsistency as I really like gaming with him. Of course where he wants to go is noted for its "Old School"-ness. I was a bit blank on any response. Monk then said, "We could run TnT which is old school I hear."
So after about fifteen more minutes of discussion, I am running T&T again, but only 7th edition and its as bronze-age as well as gonzo as I want it. Here's my fifth T&T start-up world and about twelfth  campaign source in forty years.
The Three River Delta
Good convention FRPG games come from a mixture of GM-timing, nifty idea (usually meaning title), and thought-out but understated world. Welcome to the last part of that equation, The Fifth World. This world, sometimes called "Sevven," is the fifth out of nine worlds where the lords of light and masters of chaos duke things out.  The city-states of Luxxe and Sevven have been antagonizing each other for about seven hundred years now. A third city-state, Buggle, has arisen in just the last couple of centuries, where the ant-heads have developed a beachhead on the above ground world.

There is a whole lot going on here because I have more than a few notes from many, many years of working on this or that about this RPG setting. If I am going to be running Our Game again, I might as well get it all out there, because I suspect there will be storms and pratfalls ahead so let's make it worth my time. By the way did I ever mention that I like to adventure while I game? Stomp the ticks out of your boots already.

So let's talk indigenous sorts.

Thanx to Jon Salway for getting me a little more in-depth than I usually do. People that have known me for a while will recognize various "critter-folk" while most OSR folks that are on about which gay orcs that they would date or marry will be rather shocked (SHOCKED) to say the least.

Orcs- Humans in the service of Orcus, the Ugly. Early on they decide that they are barbarians and start wearing horned helmets. They work their way up through the ranks of deplorable folks. With enough horrible things done, they get taken to a temple of Orcus and get possessed by a demon. Wallah, thank the PC for the service, pity no one cares.

Goblins and Hobgoblins- "Orks" originally spawned by Orcus when he captured elves and mutated them into these beings. Goblins are short and like to wear spiked-helmets while hobgoblins like to wear NAZI uniforms. They are not fated to be evil, but can really relate to evil ways of doing things. Many overcome their backgrounds and get Real OSR aficionados all worked up with their profile pictures at dating sites in the ethersphere.

The Og- Neanderthals. The males can't speak beyond grunts and whimpers and are called "Og-men." They are noted for their amazing strength. The females can speak and craft magic and are called "She-og". It should be noted that the She-og often speak about the Og-men as if they aren't in the same room when they're standing right there.

Umanity- A mixture of humans and other species that try to work towards being humane. They appreciate the benefits of understanding each other languages almost as much as they appreciate math with its ability to quantify how much grain is available before people start starving.  They also have developed some of the best stuff ever like cotton, fishing nets, metal tools and weapons, plus the sail and wheel. They write a lot of stuff down in languages that other people around them can understand. It is said that because of this "literacy" the Wizards Guild cryptic communications comes easier to them than most.

The Beast Lords- People of their time, this collection of hybrid species helped shaped the cosmos into what it is today. Oddly enough, they are not all that appreciative of change.

The Ogrish- The ogres and the piltdowners. Ogres are male Og that not only speak and have psychic powers, they tend to be giants. No one with og blood within them can refuse an Ogre that is taller than themselves.
Piltdowners are goblin-sized ogres that are as strong as humans or hobgoblins twice their size. 

After the Splash
This is the Fifth World. When the Great Flow separated the cosmos, the struggle between between Light and Chaos formed the Nine Worlds.

The city-state of Luxxe is the oldest city in the world. It is here where the Beast Lords consolidated their holdings when the rest of the world around them changed. They gathered their boats and created navies that would block the cities of the lands when they choose to try venturing out into seas. It is from the vast Wuldbe swamps around them that the Council of Luxxe enslaves its minions.

Sevven a former trading post for Luxxe, has been its own capital for almost 700 hundred years now. Its three cities, Lagash, Girsu, and Nina, have proved themselves to be the new power of the world. Here Unmanity thrives against the forces of regression. Still its challenges are no where near defeated.

Not understanding the struggles of yore, the ant-heads of the Hives, came onto the surface lands from below. There they founded Buggle. Made up of many species, like Sevven, but its insect-like overlords are more than willing to eat its denizens to expand its profitable territories.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Scrap Pile Multiverse Mysticism

I played in Iron Curtis's ICONs scenario last night. This period can only be described as a Pointlessly Dark Age in terms of superhero-ish atmosphere in the Scrapiverse. Reminiscent of the 90s where Marvel and then DC had to have anti-heroes and even their new "heroes" were really just jerks given way too much attention and wrapped in plot armor. As well as a lot of women in bikinis without hands and feet, given the PBS-watching crowd making up the ten to four players there's even male frontal nudity.  Luckily it's while the GM cringes that the players are going there. It's not all Bob Liefeld and Frank Miller, it's got Alan Moore! Despite everything, I am really enjoying myself as a PC during his campaign. But that's not what I am here to talk about.

We as a group with rotating GM authors, are really rocking the multiverse sub-genre of comicbookdom. We haven't been exchanging notes or trying to one up each other, we've both been playing in each others games, borrowing the others PCs/NPCs and referring to bits of lore and otherworldly places that the other has brought up. Of course, there are the fundamentals of Peryton's 80s-Verse and Marvel Comics' Micronaut Baron Karza-Verse, but we get rather supernatural more so than umm... science fiction(?)y.

We are really going places. Our serious Vodoun contingent is giving Marvel's Brother Voodoo a run for his money. There's Voodoo-Kachoo(sp?), Momma Midnight, Samedi Sam and Zombira (the Nick and Nora Charles of Veil-Keepers). Then there is the pseudo-Supersrting crowd, Professor Hemm, Karza, and Cico (pronounced "psycho"). On the mythical front, we have our own Asgardian Cloud Goddess, and the being of chaos Goblin (Professor Hemm's alter-ego). The Bible-thumpers get Shazahim and Emudan. Heck Lovecraft is working his in with Cthulhu Boy and Song or Ry'leh (the Nick and Nora Charles of madness). The only things missing so far is a humanoid mass of vegetation and a wizard with a serious cape. I am sure that we're going to get there, but we're busy with a couple of things that I can mention here just yet.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Quick Look at Star Adventurer

John Tarnowski just released his take on sci-fi adventure gaming for the multiple-polyhedronic dice D&D format, or OSR, through his periodic release platform, RPGPundit Presents. In the product line's one hundredth release Star Adventurer. As for one of those releases, it is souped up and even a little fancy which is what anyone expect from the 100th issue of anything. It's also not a bad S-F RPG system framework at all.

Like any good piece of fiction, the title tells you what you need to know up front. In RPGs it works especially well, if it tells the reader what the PC is most-likely going to be doing. So without any ado, Star Adventurer tells the reader where they are going to be, among the stars, and what they are going to be doing, adventuring. The subtitle "Old School Science Fiction Rules" tells the reader what a page to four of introduction would in another work. After some credits, the work gets into things right away. The title works for me better than a lot of s-f works of late.

Characters can be as exotic or humanocentric as the players and GM likes. The Races are listed types not specific species with descriptions and some background notes. If such details are needed, the group at the table if not the scenarios authors can come up with those details. The Classes are the D&D tropes that one can find in sphere fantasies especially since the release of Star Wars back in 1977. The Experience mechanics define not only predilections of Race/Class optimization, but a clever GM can work out a whole universe tone from setting up the narrative for how the advancement takes place.

The work is economical in covering areas that RPGers expect to be reading about. Skills, combat concepts, and technology level setting equipment are done up as one would expect, but in quick single paragraph explanations. Especially succinct is the Starship Combat section, and the "ship as a PC" is handled without any explanation by providing a Character sheet for the vessels. The whole product is about thirty-five that can be read and played in about half an hour, given a quick crowd.

As much as I want to find something wrong with this product, I have my own SFRPG core rules dammit, I can't. It is a Godzilla of science fiction role-playing products, by sticking to the OSR framework and avoiding the temptation to fill in a few blanks here and there. The atmosphere can implied from the artwork and the equipment listed, or it can be worked around. I hope to read at least a couple settings for the RPG in the future that aren't just expansions from the Gonzo campaign.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Flexing Haunted House Muscles

I haven't been posting chronicles of the game sessions that I have ran since February. For that players, I apologize but I have been frantically working on my Spacers(TM) material. Material that will be published for the eyes of maybe a few dozen people or so, but I don't care. The stuff has been in the making since the 90s and I need to get it out. So the sessions and the project work are coming off a bit like a job. But hey, our sessions provide diversion in a time where folks need to remember how to have imagination and we're doing it together.

Last night though, 4.May.2020, I took a break with Crawlspace. Horror and the TACK system that comes soooo easy to me. The special treat of it was trying out my horrible fates for haunting hunters theme that has been going since the early Aughts anew, with a run of Bumps in the Night. The scenarios where the PCs are the bumps in the night. They're either ghosts or ghost hunters bumping into each other because of all the equipment that they're wearing. Now this was "Bumps Part Two" mostly because as a concept I've ran it before. A couple paranormal investigators come early to the game, look around the house and get dead, becoming ghosts, more ghosts, on the site. The other PCs arrive later and don't know the ghost PCs. As good as that session, with a different name, worked a few years ago, there were some things that needed some work. Specifically getting the ghost PCs to be more than imps or guardian angels, in short giving them a sense of drama beyond stage pranks or being life guards. 
The players that would arrive at last night's session, were the A-List. There's Iron Curtis, who is like the stunt man of role-players in my RPG endeavors these days. His flexibility in crafting a character persona is rather amazing, and just when he is about to outdo even me, he can pull back and swat a co-player on the ass, figuratively speaking, and get everyone involved. Then there was Peryton, my wife, who is like the Milla Jovovitch of Crawlspace as she has a PC that has been in eight different scenarios, and three other recurring PCs in other ones. Then JerryTel showed up. JerryTel, who is a very strong role-player to begin with, doing a reprise of his role as reality TV-host/Ghost hunter, Sven, the Torpedo from Toledo, from the very first The Horrible Fate of the Haunted House Hunters around a  decade and a half ago. Now I am no push over when it comes to narrative role-playing. My main NPC, the Delaney house, was there. And it means business these days.
The Delaney Estate in North Shorelands, MI
Now this work is being developed as a pretty random scenario, where players draw for their roles. It can be quite "ghost heavy" because of the way I did the generation tables. Well then except that JerryTel, showed up fashionably late in the video chatroom. He was there with the same "Actor" as the original paranormal shenanigans. Pery as Techie/Camera and Jerry as the Face? A soft reboot, no less. In any case, the Quick, the living, outweighed the dead. Stuntman Curtis, was ready to be the crash test ghost and he was more than enough.

Throughout the session we worked on rule concepts for the upcoming Crawlspace: 21 and Over concerning ghost hunting, possession, and some axioms for the afterlife. At the same time, I creeped everybody out with a few of my imagery tricks. Neither the Quick nor the Dead rest easy in the Delaney Mansion. At 10:30pm , JerryTel was fading, he had been doing low light camera sitting in his darkened study to get the bump-hunter feel just right, so the intrepid haunted house hunters fled with the footage that they had. Curtis's ghost character was back among his newly acquainted maybe-not-that-dead peers, with a mostly unformed hungry yearning gnawing at his insides drawing him towards homicidal dementia.

Oh they'll be back.