Sunday, December 28, 2014

Wobble: The NPR Necromancers

Yes, I am speaking of National Public Radio.  Wobblers know that something is up. From a college experiment gone wrong, the folks at NPR opened up their studios to various inter-dimensional beings that have it serving their own purposes. This probably happened around the time someone aired the "Rice as Comfort Food" article... .

At first I thought it was kind of cute that Terry Gross was a time traveler that could muster up interviews with folks on the day of her passing. I swear she had her "posthumous interview" with Robin Williams took place the day before he was found dead. Of course she loves it because all she has to do is travel forward in time to find out the celebrity deaths for an upcoming week then travel backwards in time tape an interview, that will sell like hotcakes when she returns to the present. Of course, the casual listener doesn't notice that they've never heard the interview before because he, or she, was not listening when it was supposedly aired the first time anyway. This probably saves her loads of time and effort on getting out many new interviews, which her nefarious masters probably like as well for economic reasons. 

Terry Gross is actually a swashbuckling mad-scientist from the Omega Verse. She has been able to break the time travel barriers in her travels. Whenever she does, it causes parts of the universe where she lands to slip into the Omicron Verse.

A true evil genius is Doug Berman(sp?) who not only automated two living beings, into parroting themselves with material from previous years for two years every Saturday morning to do a "live call in show" called Car Talk, he brought one of them back from the dead to continue to repeat themselves weekly for at least a season to date. The show's audience are so enthralled  that they without thinking turn their Saturday mornings into a Ground Hog Day style time loop. After a while, they are sure they heard the humor-laden dialog before, but for some reason find a beyond-natural comfort and warmth in the hypnotic dose of nostalgia. They actually don't realize that they are drooling and mumbling the words to an ancient incantation in an unhuman tongue as their morning coffee chills and their bran muffin goes stale. When one of the automatons says, "You've done it again. You've wasted another hour listening to us..." they subconsciously know they haven't. They have yet again repeated a formula to a massive and horrendous enchantment that requires at least one hundred million repetitions to come into effect. Only the master of the Dark Arts, Berman knows what will happen when the spell is complete.

The Sewer Monkeys, the Wewwer, are telepathically manipulating Berman into bringing their wrecked universe into our own Verse space. They haven't actually worked out what will happen when that occurs, but they figure that things can't be any worse for themselves anyway. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A World A Week: Ur-Kleft

When in doubt, use your local area for inspiration.
In 1999-2001, I was able to run a 5th edition  T&T game for my neighbor and his friends. Having only ever played D&D, err "AD&D" they were unfamiliar with any variation of the that game. They found the character Kindreds so new, that I centered the campaign around the different "races." The region in front of you is Ur-Kleft. The names on the map were derived from three made-up languages that the differing Kin spoke.

The shaded area are where one would find humans and hobbits. Mountains indicated dwarves, while elves and orks were anyplace that humans, dwarves, and hobbits had not tamed. I put T&T's leprechauns in any place with >...< around the title. These bracketed places were very dangerous to most species that were not highly magical in nature, even elves were nervous about heading into them.

Wobble: Payphones, Part 1

I've twenty minutes to get this out. 

 Ever since the advent of the cell phone, well the cheap and affordable ones, I've been wondering about telecommunications of the world. All the big companies have been trying to get rid of their land lines, though the folks still using them won't hurry up and die already. For the past year, I've been wondering about pay phones. I started out at the nearest bus stop. As I get around to a lot of parts of the region in my day job, every time I see a pay phone I jump out to see to if it's working or not. I am seriously thinking of making a map.

To date, only six out of 134 pay phones have been operational. This area ranges all over northeaster Ohio. A fire-fighter pulling a part-time shift at my workplace informed me that all firehouses still have working pay phones in them. Interesting enough is that around 1am every night, a partial ring occurs-- probably the phone company sending out a test signal, but something with a lot of potential story-wise. A couple other municipal buildings I have been to still have them, but I haven't found them in all of these buildings.

All I need is a spiffy species, or better yet, a couple, or more spiffy species... 

Friday, December 19, 2014

A World a Week: Expanded Rooqa expanded upon

(For a visual reference look at the map that was yesterdays post)

I was definitely going big while drawing up this campaign setting around '98. I had done entire fantasy worlds since the late 80s, but those were crafted as the scenarios were sketched and then played out. In my notes, I had the countries outlined as to terrain and climate, dominate sentient species, cultural/ethnic descriptions, and plenty of NPCs. Indeed, there are a lot of NPCs. Looking at the pages, I think I have about 45 NPCs worked up and ready to play.

My Kindreds were still fairly RQ-ish with Tom-isms thrown in. Humans could be compared to cultures of early Sumeria and iron-age NE Africa. The elves were tied to specific plants but not actually plants, a shift from RQ. Boons became diverse races of apes that walked upright and acted mostly like humans-- the Ape language, Ualk, names "Djung" and "Akko" would creep into my mind whenever I started working up worlds from now on. The Tuskers became the Og, og-men and the she-og almost two separate species; and the low realm of "Pelond," Land of the Beasts Men, started here as well.  The start of my fixation with aquatic role-playing realms was starting when I worked in the Otgan. They were pretty similar to before, but no longer held territories the way map-drawers could craft. I put my Griffin Mountain, a must for all RQ fans, in the dreaded lands of "Isun" and "Thunn," a couple more names my long-term players will recognize. One could say the naming rut I've been in for fifteen years now started here. I'd say, I've got to right that damn novel already. 

Being a RQ homage, heroes and villains came easily. Knad Ek, the Foul, still dwelt in Def Nel on the borders of Pelond. His goat-heads and snake-folk discouraged most visitors. The Monster-Lord Ugoran (translated as Ancient King) was in his 700th year of life and well on his way towards making the Og, orks, and savage humans of Pelond into his servant nation. The Ten Kings had arisen in the west to counter the eastern "monster-kin." The Ten were made up of six humans, two elves, one dwarf, and an ape. The humans had Sumerian names; the elves were Freyer and Snirfir (Vanir deities, I think); the dwarf was Hor-Heth (Horus), and the ape was Gonzo (he is a monkey).

 Though this setting was never actually played in, as said before, it has influenced my game table ever since it was worked up. I think it was one weekend at my kitchen table.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A World a Week: Expanded Rooqa

With the success of my T&T Runequest game, I expanded the world. This campaign was never realized. I had some 17 pages of notes.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wobble: The Mu-Lambda Barrier

Getting from one Verse to the other universes has always been a difficult task. When Wobblers have tried to get beyond the Mu Verse, and series of sub-verses called the MU Continuum, things have gotten a lot harder. Some would say that this Mu-Lambda Barrier is downright futile and dangerous.  Of course getting to what is now called the Alpha Verse, it should technically have been named the Nu Verse, to the Mu Verse has been hard as well. By all accounts, it has been more difficult to traverse with more fatalities among inter-dimensional explorers than any other studied explorations. Still the M-to-L azimuth is a frontier that has not been breached to date. Expert Wobblers and collections of trans-dimensional theoreticians are more than a little perplexed as well as challenged.

The Omegans, residents of the Omega Verse, the first trans-dimensional travelers recorded and the ones that are the developers of the accepted universe naming conventions, lean towards thinking the farther that one gets from their universe, the more difficult things become. Part of the basis for this theory is that are no Wobblers passing through their territories displaying greater technologies and means that they have. It boils down to their presumption that the Omega Verse is the pinnacle of existence and that its reality blends into the universes beneath it. The farther away one gets, the harder it gets to move into others.

A bit less slanted resource for study of this matter happens to the Pi Verse, where the Greatest Empire, despite all of its technological inadequacy compared to Omega Verse, has still lead a vigorous exploration of the trans-dimensional space around that universe. According to their findings which credits Wobblers from other universes, as well as their own, they've noted that it is based on the individual explorer. Explorers tend to have problems with wobbling beyond their immediate neighboring universes. Depending on their expertise, they can greatly aid other Wobblers getting anywhere, but trans-dimensional travel seems to be a locality-based function. Of course these later findings may be propaganda from those that benefit from the stated release, namely the totalitarian Greatest Empire.

Less prominent trans-universal traveling powers tend not to have many releases about their own metaphysical explorations, or at least they aren't very transparent if they are.Those that do tend to exaggerate. Various entities from the Omicron Verse claim to possess the ability to travel "everywhere in the multiverse." After extensive studies into their human (and other sentient beings) sacrifice-laden spells, both the Greatest Empire and the Omegans find these claims to highly misleading. These "infernal" entites from Omicron proclaim supernatural spells. They  also tend to have "tunnels" to very specific parts throughout the known Verses, but are much more at a disadvantage when traveling across them without them. These disadvantages tend to negate any of the shortcuts for Wobbling for the spells' authors. In this case, why bother if it isn't worth the time to get there?

Less abstractly, Mu-Nu Space is a new phenomena to established Wobblers. Traveling between the Omicron Verse and the Alpha "Plane" is extremely difficulty, but getting from it to the MU Continuum is about average in adversities and danger. No one, as of yet, has been able to move beyond the Mu Verse into the next universe though.

Still the Mu-Lambda frontier plenty of opportunity and even reward for the explorer. While the MU Continuum gets expanded there are plenty of "next-Verse" locales being discovered all the time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A World A Week: Psychotropic Maps or Fist Fights With Map Readers.

It was dark and gloomy sunset, I was sitting at the wheel of my work vehicle at a park along the shores of Lake Erie (pick the most central point in Cuyahoga County) when a buzz in my shirt pocket notified me that I had to leave the locale to do my job. My partner, looking at the electronic map display along with the details mumbled, "We're going just southwest of the Turnpike."

I looked at the message on my phone and started the vehicle. It was gibberish, with an wholly undistinguished street address. Understandably, I found the phrase "...Southwest of the Turnpike..." annoying. Having a good mental image of a map in my head didn't help, we could have been headed to the middle of California with the information that I was given. I had  no good idea of where I might be going. You see, the toll road mentioned runs from outside of Toledo to just west of the Pennsylvanian border. When I asked "Whereabouts?", the map-reader got into a snark and directed the conversation directly towards a small island called The Edge of My Nerves. 
"In Cuyhoga county." He replied with smart sharpness.
"Oh, you mean Strongsville?" I replied.
Judging from his suddenly uncomfortable expression, hopefully it dawned on the map-reader that there were three places within Cuyahoga county that met his criteria of "Southwest of the Turnpike." It also might've dawned on him, I was the one actually in charge of our working relationship. So while "Bucky" was suddenly pulling back on his tone and rash statements, I realized most people don't know how to read maps.
With the vehicle in "Park," I asked to see the map and then explained to him why his communication methods should be improved as he found his next job.  While the newbie might still feel the need to explain to where his father once lived and where his Pennsylvanian heritage comes from , I remain totally unimpressed.

What I get out of the previous interaction, is the fact that folks don't read maps. They have lived their lives being shuttled from one point to another. Then when of all of a sudden, and rather unexpectedly, the age of maturity jumps in demanding that one makes his way through the world, things get challenging.  Folks, when living in their head, don't live on a grid. They live in some kind of a point-to-point frame of reference along a line of familiar events and will follow grammatical-like breakdowns to get from point to point.

I already knew this in 1997.  In '97 I was running yet another Call of Cthulhu campaign that could've been described as pretty hip. In the late 80s I thought CoC scenarios were getting pretty staid as well as formulaic. So I decided to take Lovecraftian Scooby-Dooers into the Journey Towards the Center of their Minds. There was a supplement about the "Dreamlands" out since the late 80s, I didn't like how prosaic it was. I drew my own maps and worked out Dreaming into Real Gamer terms.

Now these sorts of maps are not without precedence. In the "Middle Ages," that means between the enlightened Ancients and decidedly backward folks that came afterwards, most maps were the equivilant of PowerPoint presentations with as much knowledge and perspective as one would expect.

It doesn't get any better with education level. Indeed the more educated the explorer, the more incomprehensible he, or she, is. My biggest battle as a map-maker with idiosyncratic map-readers was a scenario by Ken St Andre prompted me to produce the map pictured below.  

Oh the outrage lasted for days. At last I produced this.

I am not sure of what was expected, but I am sure I disappointed. Hence my impatience with the under-indulged these days.

Oh yeah, yes the kid is still employed. I am easily annoyed not that vindictive though.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Zombie Zigzag: Hating Brad Pitt

Don't worry, the "A World A Week" topic will be back, just haven't had access to a scanner lately. Paul 2.0 and I have since mid-October been formulating Zombie Zigzag for TACK. One of the by-products has been some great discussion on the zombie movie/entertainment sub-genre of horror. 

Why I Hate Brad Pitt , or why fast zombies are dumb
By Paul Cooper (AKA Paul 2.0)

Recent big screen films have features fast moving, running zombies, or what I like to call "ZOOMBIES". I hate ZOOMBIES and you, as a GM should too.
Here are some "facts" to consider:
The recent notion of "fast" zombies is a conceit to the ADHD, video game generation. It defies all suspension of disbelief. Never tiring and feeling no pain results in disaster for such creatures. The hip, knee, and ankle joints of the reanimated were not designed for the continual, sustained strain a "fast" zombie puts on it. The lack of pain, which discourages or stops a human from surpassing the design parameters of these joints, is not present in "fast" zombies. Thusly, these joints would fail quickly in a "fast" zombie, reducing them to either immobility or the slower movement of the more "traditional" shamblers.
This is further supported by the laws of thermodynamics, which govern all but the "supernatural" origin of zombies. The question must be asked of all other varieties, "Where do they get the energy to run at a sustained rate for such long periods?" If zombies do not consume humans for their caloric content, but due to some sort of primal urge in the active regions of the reptilian brain, the question remains. The energy must come from somewhere. The bodily reserves of energy would be quickly consumed in a "fast" zombie, rendering them immobile in a relatively short period of time.
Thus, the conclusion is that "fast" zombies are nothing more than a ridiculous way to startle and excite the jaded video game generation.
The main reason why you, as a GM, should hate ZOOMBIES. No suspense. Slow moving zombies allow you to build the tension of the story. First encounters of single zombies, that the players can kill off, starts the fun, but as the number of zombies increases, and their groups grow in size, your players will start to feel the clock running out. The tension will build in your stories as the players have to figure out how to survive the increasing numbers. It's the dramatic slow doom that allows you to build up your story to a dramatic, high intensity climax.
Your players wouldn't last more than 5 minutes in a world of ZOOMBIES. How the Hell is any group of survivors going to last against things that can out run an Olympic runner? That can quickly form ramps of bodies large enough to breach any wall, no matter how high? How on Earth are you, as a GM, going to build the tension in your story if all of your players are slaughtered in the first 5 minutes of the story? Good Luck with that.
So let idiots like Brad Pitt keep their ZOOMBIES. GMs of Crawlspace know how to tell a better story than that jerk.

My own reaction is similar, but, in the end, I still like Brad Pitt's World War Z.

The folks that are recognized Zombie-Media gurus have been struggling with the false problem of popular relevance. Where does the genre go once it's gone beyond the viewer's vicarious joy at seeing his daydream of shooting everyone who he doesn't like in the head played out on screen about a dozen times? Shows like The Walking Dead have totally proven that there is not much point in making a zombie movie beyond a group dynamics flik. Throw in an interesting weather or engineering phenomena every once in a while, like Z Nation, and you have a serious basis for gamer interest.

When it comes to zombies in Crawlspace, I tend to fall back to how I learned from the earliest zombie movie that I wasn't so scared of that I could listen to the pseudo-scientific reasoning going on. The movie that scared me, excuse the language, "shitless" was Night of the Living Dead and the first zombie I watched with youthful enthusiasm was Return of The Living Dead. When a coroner was dealing with a trapped sample of the zombie invasion going on around him, he told others, paraphrasing, "It can't be any stronger than it was in life."

I still like Pitt not because he is a superstar, but because he is a dork despite his success. This dude who is most likely a billionaire and acclaimed to have as much talent as he has looks, as well as the woman he's chosen for his wife, is as caught up in zombie mania as George Romero and Max Brooks. As a person that suffered a headache reading World War Z, I remember that I was so disappointed with various movies leading up to and including Romero's Day of the Dead, WWZ's army ant zombies weren't a surprise. I had already watched zombies hop along ceilings and Resident Evil already negated any sense of physical limitations long before. 

So when it comes to Crawlspace, I want the GM/Director to really feel free to work things through to make the 13-Hour Clock dynamic work for him, or her.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Zombie Zigzag Shambling Back

One of the weirder phenomena about doing my own rule systems, has been working with other people with different interest wanting to use those rules. When I devised Crawlspace back in 2009, I pretty much envisioned non-Call of Cthulhu horror sessions, at late night gatherings. Folks around me, though, namely Michael Larsen, Monk, and Darryl Nichols, wanted to see how zombie tales could be worked using the TAG system. Believe it or not, while I don't dislike zombie movies, heck some are damn good and fun to watch; they just aren't my favorite take at the tabletop. 

Zombie RPG sessions weren't my thing for various reasons. In the early Aughts, when I met he authors/GMs, they were guys who basically bragged that they were the only survivor of this or that battle in the Vietnam war and basically wanting to shoot any person slightly different from them in race, politics, or even sex. I found the regular players tended to be military wannabes, who wouldn't join for whatever reason, who thought the GM had some insight into life. The play tended to boil down to First Person Shooter games done with dice and miniatures. I stumped more a couple GMs by not opening this or that door to explore hidden areas on the map before me. One time I grabbed a "patient" and ran back to helicopter ending a planned mega scenario in 11 minutes, which was the team's mission. I had expected to at least meet my superior officer and see some of the inside of our safe house, err place. Alas, who wanted to think that much? Besides there are plenty of zombie role-playing RPG games, as when as even more zombie RPG supplements.

Later though, Monk, especially, dispelled my aversion because of his enthusiastic Gamer love of the branch of horror scenarios. He was the biggest push behind the Zigzag project, and I still find his scenario "6 Degrees of Zombi Annihilation" one of the best ever conceived. It keyed me into the science fiction of these sorts of things, which can be better than just a virus gone awry. Later JerryTel, would devise his T&T variant, Stay Alive, and help me appreciate a good table-top zombies session.

So now that Paul Cooper, Paul 2.0, is talking me into making a TACK-ruled Zigzag for the latest Crawlspace, I am not even blinking. The man is an absolute encyclopedia of everything reanimated and his passion is quite convincing. Also TACK Crawlspace (13, Deluxe, whatever) is about making little horror movies at the tabletop. I'd be damned remiss if we didn't get some zombie action for the connoisseur of the sub-genre going on.

Like before, diverse perspectives are the key. I've got Monk coming back. There's no holding Paul 2.0 back. A couple of scenario writers are expressing interests, we'll see who else jumps in. This new Zigzag is going to new works, done in the Crawlspace screenplay style of scenario, coupled with different authors' takes on how to use TACK mechanics to make zombism(?) work for the person wanting to write his own. My own contribution won't detract from the upcoming Stay Alive's Apocalypse in Your Hometown as we're slating it for release around GenCon. When else should one do a zombie movie release besides the dog-days of summer?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Apocalypse in Your Hometown: Running Malthouse

Apocalypse in Your Hometown is going to be a series of scenarios written by David Moskowitz, Mark Thornton, Scott Malthouse, and myself, utilizing modern rules variations of T&T to shoehorn into Jerry Teleha' Stay Alive! adaptation. I say "shoe-horned" because these scenarios were actually written before the rules were released about a year ago. The scenarios were meant to hurry up the author with the work, but will be released well afterwards thanks to me. While I apologize to the contributors for the delay in the project's release, I blame, these days, quality assurance reasons. Look at it like this, when AiYH happens it'll bring a rush of attention prompting Jerry to work on the follow-up projects to the rules variation. 

A couple of weekends ago, Jerry ran Scott Malthouse's Hometown scenario, "Catacombs of the Black Coven" in Fort Wayne, Indiana at a local gaming festival. I had planned on running an impromptu session of Mark Thornton's "Utu," but things didn't pan out. Sadly, a game festival in Parma, OH, is looking like it's going to a be a wash as well so I won't be running David Moskowitz's either before the planned release in Jan 2015.  A Good News/ Bad News situation to say the least, though I have to admit I am jonesing to run _something_ . 

Playing in "Catacombs" was awesome on a couple levels. I had made myself forget the adventure, which wasn't hard as I scan/read it over eighteen months ago. Just from a personal perspective, it's a beginning level adventure, and my Character had two lucky rolls, which had me closer to 3rd level according to 7plus rules. I also enjoyed watching, nay, listening to JerryTel, a rather map-oriented GM, incorporate Malthouse's prose, always a treat, into the work-- I literally got a chill. The rules wrapped seamlessly around the scenario, if the GM was working hard, I couldn't tell, which is how it should be with T&T

The author happens to be something of a budding superstar expert in fantasist circles when it comes to folklore, so the magicapocalypse that overcame the British Isles, wasn't surprising. On a scale of Smurf to Godzilla, bigger is better on this scale, "Catacombs" is definitely a Big Foot. The diminution is for the fact that the adventure starts long after any apocalypse ever happened. There was also no sense of discovery of the Hometown. According to the GM, the scenario could've been a campaign of more than six games, which is awesome. 

Pretty much how I remember Uxbridge, London
Still I got to play Denton Van Zan for an afternoon.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A World a Week: The Afterlife

As everyone knows that the sun and moon circles around the Earth, they are sure that the universe revolves around them. It was with sort of medieval reasoning that I designed the Underworld. When a Character died and the player wanted a chance to bring it back to regular play, I used this graphic to handle those situations.

 This would end up being used in various campaigns regardless of settings. It was originally designed a standard fantasy campaign, I just wasn't wild about "Beyond the Silver Pane." It helped a couple T&T players, get over their losses, gently. But the longest run there actually happened during my run of an aborted Top Secret spy campaign. 

Some gumshoeing went south quickly and all-but-one of them ended up not being so Quick at the first encounter. Well, the dudes did start a shoot out in the Amsterdam airport when they saw someone who might've been KGB. The players, being goobers, er real role-players, actually couldn't think of letting their beloved characters, made up in 30 whole minutes of rolling dice and scribbling, so they agreed to undertake the voyage in the Great Beyond. The player with the surviving Character, Michael once again, even agreed to continue his story at the same time. In the 80's, I ran Stalking the Night Fantastic for six years so mixing guns and ghosties was nothing new. It did kind of spoil my hankering for a wholly non-supernatural campaign. Still I was going through a divorce so I wanted to do something on Friday night before going to the bar. So while the living Character worked on getting the floppy discs with the super doomsday virus from the evil mastermind in the Central African Republic, the other three players journeyed into the Underworld.

Characters in the underworld start out with all their worldly knowledge from before, but they have the bodies and stats of toddlers. While their "bodies" are bound to the ground, gravity doesn't change for the rest of their spirit and the world around them isn't-- they're upside down most of the time. This was when I maturing "gravity salad" recipe (I was doing a lot of rappelling in those days). As wide as the world was above, so was the Underworld, so traveling had all the limitations as in life. The world was pretty surreal and not just because of the gravity. Charon would drop them off in the Mists, where'd they'd notice the gravity and hopefully realize that the shadows were "barghast spirits" or Slavers. If they tried to return to where they came from, gravity would pull on their bodies regularly, falling into the misty skies below them NPC spirits never returned.

Notice that little structure?That was a combination of the Tower of Babel and a really massive pyramid, ran by somebody called the Dark Pharaoh who was always looking for slaves. There was a little hole where the stones for the Zigguarmid where cleft from, bottomless and leading to the fiery core of the world. Things got a little better once the dead characters, now in their physical teens, reached the beaches of the Elysium Ocean with rumors of the Minotaur's Palace. And that is the farthest that anyone has ever made it in my Underworld.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A World a Week (or so): Rooqa in Retrospect

The setting was diminishing-magic-meets-the-bronze-age sort of thing. While iron was known about very few smiths knew how to make fire hot enough. The creatures that still had magics or knew of materials that could heat up hot enough to fashion iron (trolls, elves, and dwarves) were poisoned by its touch. The Player-Characters started out as hires on a barge that was pulled in from Ulthar, a port along the Oronxic coastal lands down the Rift River. 

It was along this river that Mundaners, or the Daner, were beginning to populate the lands where magic was diminishing rapidly and taking with them the fantasy species that lived there. The Daners in this case were humans, boons (a smart version of a baboon), otgan (otter-people), and tuskers (roughly neanderthals).  The two settlements of Tripod City and Gled Onlarth were less than forty years-old. The region of Forestia was one of the last pockets of magic still left.

As the Characters found reason to work their way into Forestia towards the lair of an evil sorcerer, a "Knad Ek" in the "The High Language," which only Wizards knew, the charms and trinkets on their persons reactivated once in touch with magic again. Things went into pretty typical high fantasy for these sessions. Bronze swords with inscriptions became intelligent. Necklaces taught the wearer various spells at certain levels. Except for the "races," or Kindred as I call them, the group could've been from any popular fantasy novel written after the LotR series.

I can't remember specifically, but I think the sorcerer's name was Nirtudu. He lived in the last Wizards' Guild Citadel in existence, now called Def Nell. He was trying to bring the celestial worlds back closer to earth, figuring that this would bring the magic back. What he didn't know was that the sun, moon, and stars had grown in size and needed to be moving away from the Earth. The earth itself had folded over on itself and become a sphere instead of flat plane to compensate for its own growth. His scheme was to harpoon the sun with the Giant's Spear and drag it closer. The Spear was something more akin to Cthulhu than an actual artifact. 

Before things could get really messy, the PCs, all except one, battled valiantly to stop Nirtudu. Helios, the sun god, appeared and sent Nirtudu to the surface of the sun, where its energies consumed him. The PC that had sided with the mad wizard was sent to Mars, where plenty of magic still existed, but the alien environment required all of that person's capabilities to stay alive. Then there was the question of the native martians...

From '93 until '96, things were fairly stationary enough to keep a pretty stable gaming group, especially towards the end of it. The single player that had made it all the way through the campaign was on his fourth PC. I had become comfortable with running changing players, as well as their Characters, through story lines that I was keeping going to see where the plots ended up. Michael, a real Prince fan, played one of the better Wizards that I've ever seen. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A World a Week: Rooqa

The map that was already posted was my campaign notes, this was the actual map that the players saw.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A World a Week: Ruin Quest.

The first ever Tripod City
Did I ever mention that I get a little tired of Tolkien-based, err influenced fantasy? Well from '93 on, I had been running T&T games heavily influenced by Runequest's Glorantha. I didn't have any of the books anymore, so when I drew up a campaign area in '95 or '96, it was a Thanksgiving afternoon, that much I remember, the setting didn't really have a lot in common with the fore-mentioned world.

Rooqa, as it was called after the first year of play, was very early bronze-age. It might or might not have been based on a certain region of the Danude. Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away was a major influence. I remember doing theoretical things like solo-playing out fights between smaller dragons and saber-tooth tigers while making climax adventures for some of the players.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A World A Week: WS3K Species.

Human- You and me in Spaaaaaaaaace!

Primrosean- They like to call themselves "The Prime." This group of humans somehow teleported from Earth in 2257 to the planet known as Primrose. They are psychically-gifted and have 700 years plus of a history without being controlled by their home planet.

Qua-Qua-Kali- Despite their beaked heads, this amphibious humanoid species evolved from creatures that fed mainly off of clam and oyster-like creatures. The original inhabitants of what would become the Yankee Sector. They view the humans, the berger, and the kodoa as just another series of invaders for the last nine hundred years.

Imperfi- Pointy-eared and slight-framed humanoids with skins that change color to camouflage themselves. Very clan-oriented and rather feudal in their governmental system.

Kodoan- Amphibious reptile bad-asses. They tend to be quite warlike, well we've fought four wars against them. They blame us.

Berger- Very ugly, but very smart and technologically advanced humanoid species. They have multiple warships that are the size of the Starwars Death Star.

Oliph- Elephant snout-faced humanoids without mouths. Believed to be vegetable in biology. Very good interstellar explorers. They tend to get along with anybody.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A World a Week: Still Spending the 90s In Space

Still in the stars, those previously mentioned Star Trek-styled tabletop sessions led to War Star 3,ooo, or WS3K. Going from the tight group of gamers that I knew during my time on the Reaction Force to new folk, luckily Babylon Five and Star Trek Deep Space Nine were going strong. If not for those shows, I don't think I'd find anybody that would want to play anything but Vampire or Dark Sun otherwise. Most of these games were at my house after the deployments slowed down enough for me to have time so books crept in. Traveller: 2300 books, a couple FASA Star Trek scenarios, and many articles from Challenger magazine were placed on the table to add visual atmosphere, but rarely had anything to do with the game going on.

The rule system was loosely based on my beloved T&T, rewritten from memory of the Fifth edition into a waterproof pocket tablet of some 40 pages. It was getting worn out, but I couldn't find FBI products over in Europe, where I spent most of the time for the rest of the decade.

The Yankee Sector would evolve from the Starfaring play-test. One of the player's, Weinmann, found a heavily population world made up of various interstellar species along with humans. He named the planet Graceland, but the humans that were there already called the planet Primrose and themselves the Prime. The Elvis Confederation warred against the natives, of all species, and took over the sector. From there I started filling in the blanks. One of the players, Diamon, I met in a "task study group" training for hypothetical operations in places like Syria, Iran, and Iraq, so interstellar species became like the various tribal ethnics that we so often hear about today. The Concord human kingdoms were straight up American crusaders imposing their culture on the region, and various species just didn't have the numbers or tech to complain about it. The two major (and powerful) alien species, the Berger and Kodoan, were loosely based on Turkey and Iran. That is if the Turks were hominid creatures that specialized in burrowing and were masters at genetic engineering, and the Iranians were amphibious reptile humanoids that had space ships bought from the Romulans; still there were little allusions. 

The parallels of our world faded as the sessions went on over the years. The players changed, and sometimes I had to run them in chat rooms while on deployment in less homey parts of Europe and eastern Turkey.  You see it was Star Trek, but grittier. It wasn't Star Wars at all, the "war" came before the "star," totally different. Looking back, the WS3K campaigns were totally in line with the rather military-minded scif-fi TV shows that I ran across over the decade. Not surprising given my job at the time. But I still consider this some of finest sci-fi RPGing ever.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nov-Dec: A World a Week

Now that Halloween has led to All Saint's Day, still heading into the Feast of the Assumption, the time for the macabre and ghastly has passed (at least a little even for adventure gamers). Along side doing my scenarios for gaming conventions and completing some for publication productions, I'll be throwing up old maps and notes from one of my "journals" over the next couple of months. I stumbled across the notebook the other day, a cat had peed on something near it, and was amazed to see that I hadn't filled every page as I have done with every other one before it, some 22, for the last thirty-four years of gaming.  The blank pages probably mean that this journal was started around 1994 and then tapered off as I discovered the internet while in Bosnia in '95. It has the details of active RPG campaigns, system play-tests, and go nowhere idle doodling, from '94 up until around 2006. I get the last date because the maps and notes start to line up with items published for sale around that time.

I tend not to be sentimental about my adventure gaming endeavors in the past. The other twenty-something journals are not kept as a library of any sort. I often trip over them after a cat has knocked over a stack of old paper products. More often than not their covers are peed, or worse, upon. With the advent of the inter-webs of the worldwide net tubes, long journals with maps, notes, and sketches of this or that became unnecessary as I was not only able to place things into an electronic format but get in touch with other fantasists and real artists-- frankly my head didn't have to be a boiler needing a hidden away draft pad for a vent. 

To get things started I thought I'd go with my "campaign summary" of a Starfaring play-test, with two then up to seven friends, done on the fly in 93-94. A fellowship of dudes I mind-gamed with at LP/OPs (Listening/Observation Posts) spread out on various training battlefields between Texas, Alaska, and South Korea over something called SINGARS (radios). We had to keep the mapping wholly mathematical, graph paper didn't come in water-poof notebooks. This helped us make the maps somewhat 3-D as we just read coordinates among ourselves.  We blocked the information into encrypted data chunks to avoid decryption by our superiors. They didn't care too much because OpFor (Opposing Forces) would be confused and bogged down trying to figure out what we were doing, that and the fact that most likely the bosses were asleep anyway. On a good run, we'd shoot totally encoded "turns" up to four times an hour, for three days straight in between doing our job. Using pre-set lists, I ran their starships across strange new worlds or not.

The three world's of Elvis, Solus, and Garm (mine) were the starting points for our respective ships. Star empires arose in our wake. Alien species were encountered. A few table-top Star Trek-styled role-playing sessions took place in hotel rooms during days off, as I was whetting my space opera campaign passions.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Oct 29: The Crawlspace Mystic

So your printer is acting up?
Believe it or not, the Crawlspace "mystic" does not have to have psychic abilities, or be a Whacko, Character Type. Call them what you will: mediums, psychic healers, houngans and mambos, witch doctors, demonoligists, Mojo dudes and gals, UFO hunters, et al; it all boils down to a serious belief in the supernatural. Many are privy to Ritual Magicks from the rule book and have a few of their own. They are the ones who live for the paranormal events that are
 going on around them.

The Character, whether star or supporting cast, regardless of Type, gets a special Perk, Nose For Hokum. This Perk allows a +1 to any Draw when detecting a possible hoax. The mystic is often the butt of the joke as often as the expert when it comes to supernatural encounters. It's really not their fault, it's session's author/GM. The joke isn't always a hoax, though, and the punchline can be fatal.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oct. 28: The Crawlspace Possessed

 The Possessed is a term describing when a person's personality, their very soul, some would say, is suppressed by a psychically powerful entity from the Great Beyond. Most often it is the Infernal beings that have the wherewithal required for this, but on rare occasions the spirits of mortals can do it as well. Those ghosts that can possess the living as a rule were not the nicest people to begin with. As usual though there is not hard set of established guidelines though in the Crawlspace universe.

An incorporeal being walking around in our world is similar to someone that would take the bus to the store making his way Mars. Things on the other side are meant to be there, some serious metaphysical dynamics are going on when it does occur. It really isn't a jog in the park being a demon banished from this plane of existence. The person possessed by a spirit is not only the harbinger of gory scenes about to happen but an offense against the ways of nature. And they usually bring all of their supernatural powers with them when they come to visit.

The would-be possessor requires the cast member under spiritual attack to fail two consecutive Nerve Draws each time it can wander upon the sands of our world's hourglass. The demon, or malignant spirit, is then assigned through a random Draw (Ace= One...King =13) a certain of points. The points equal how many Draws it can make before being forced back to whence it came. While on this mortal coil, with each failed Nerve Draws the Possessed can cause among Characters, it gains an additional Draw. Once all of the available Draws have been used up, the invader returns back to the Great Beyond and re-start the possession all over again. Many times demons would just rather kill their host and call it a day before all is said and done.

Though there is no real set way of expunging the not welcomed entity, the "Exorciser(s)"of the Possessed is guaranteed one Fame card for deciding to be so. The Player though has to decide whether it is going to be used during the play session, err filming, or stored on their Resume. How a possessing spirit is exorcised from this plane is up to the GM, though he or she, should be familiar with the "Learning the Name" ritual magick, on pg 26 of the rules book.

Oct 28: The Crawlspace Goblin

Let's take the phrase "ghost, goblins, and things that go bump in the night" and work with one that rarely gets covered in supernatural tales-- the goblin.Consistency is the hobgoblin of a little mind. With that in mind, the goblins that one encounters in horror works are not the goblins that one uses for sword whetting in fantasy tales. 

These kids were messing with garden gnomes.
These are often a variety of creatures from the Great Beyond, and removed of their friendlier make-ups as spun by folklore and fairy tales. It shouldn't surprise the GM/Director that Crawlspace's Not-Ever Land is a bit more than slightly infernal in nature. As a leprechaun looking after his magical charms is a homicidal creep, so the brownie cleaning the serial killer's house only wants milk and cookies brought home from his victim's kitchen. Gremlins are not cute little koala bears that go bad when wet, they are wire-chewing, metal rending, and turbulence-making little bastards that love to hang out on planes. You don't even want to know about dwarves that take in lost princesses.

In game terms, a goblin when its near a portal to its place of dwelling, it gets two cards in all of its STATS. It always has special magical abilities that are based on the folklore around it. There is always an Achilles heel though to creature, which the scenario author or its GM can improvise, because no two goblins are the same. 

This diversity of shapes and sizes that seems to make up goblin kind(?), is unified by a sense of playfulness and frivolity. Of course their mischievousness is most often fatal to the mortals that they like to toy around with. Still one thing cannot be said about goblins is that they don't have a sense of humor.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Oct 23: The Last Breath

A person dying is a person getting closer to their god(s) or a lack thereof. It is at these times that the portents of Destiny can reveal itself to that person to present to the world around him, or her. That or maybe a person should be allowed to get the last word in a discussion every once in a while.

A Character making a point at listening to another Character's dying words gets a Fame card. He might be getting a hint as well but that is dependent on the GM/Director.

Oct 23: The Crawlspace Demon

I am not sure how to put this in a not alarming way, but demons are pretty bad-ass when it comes in terms of supernatural vileness, as well as potential power. Some say, if the Great Beyond was the ocean, the younger ones would be the great white sharks, while the average would be plesiosaurs, and others would be bigger. This could very well be why the spirits of the departed are always presented in such an awful state, maybe they're the small fish swimming around a reef always hiding from demons or becoming supper. 

Beyond the oceanic metaphor, experts, Crawlspace authors and GMs, don't know much (mostly because of their personal preferences per scenario). Indeed it is important for the Character to avoid preconceptions when dealing with these most dangerous entities. Here are some norms, though each is arguable depending on to whom you are talking to: 
  • Demons are terribly ethnocentric- some are compelled by Christ to leave, some are forced into boxes by rabbis, and others require Sumerian rites to be sent away. There are probably other ways for demons of less publicized ethnics.
  • Demons are bound to some sort of cyclic calendar. This calendar may be wholly idiosyncratic, but available in some grimoire somewhere.
  • Demons can read minds, but Objectivity (see Perks, in Crawlspace Deluxe) in a confronting Character really helps.
  • A demon's name is half the key to its displacement (see the "Learning the Name" ritual magick, pg 26 in the mentioned rules book).
Now just add water...
For the supernatural investigator, that is often a Character, a number of phenomena have been recorded.

There have been numerous cases where a demon is hidden within groups of spirits at especially haunted locales. It is unknown whether this, say, haunted house is created by the demon or if it is drawn to area because of the numerous spirits. In only recently noted cases where demons have been "dispelled" from the area, haunting activity is no longer noted to date.

Some demons seem to yearn for a place in the Here and Now (cute huh?), but are somehow prohibited. There are many cases of cults performing rites to welcome, invite, or somehow summon the entity. While the local fire department and police forces are not usually equipped to handle the cases, aging priests from obscure orders and professors emeritus from nearby universities, have been able to contain the threat by all accounts recorded.  

Prepubescent children of financially-affluent divorcees have been, at least as chronicled in recent years, the targets of something known as "possessions." "Exorcists have been brought in (ironically?) from the far reaches of the world to deal these cases. Of course, it might have been a way of funding the plane tickets home for the specialists when no one else wanted them back. 

More on the Possessed later.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oct 22: Ouija Boards

It is a little known fact that there are staff "witches" that are paid to bless one out every one thousand Ouija boards coming out of toy and manufacturing companies. That is at least the ones from America, the UK, most of Europe, and Russia. The Chinese ones are just pressed cardboard and a silly shaped plastic widget thrown into a box. Of course, most of the time, whenever one of these keyholes to the Other Side appear in a Crawlspace game, it'll be one of those rarities. If the Characters have any sense, when they see a Ouija board they will run like hell into the backdrop and hope to be murdered by Bigfoot or be abducted by aliens.

It is amazing how many people worry about random folks that they encounter on-line, but have no qualms about popping into chat rooms for the dead and demonic on a lark at a party. In the universe of grade B horror flix, there are as many "trolls" on the other side of a Ouija board as there is in an internet forum about upcoming superhero movies.

The GM/Director can use the Haunted House random generator to develop a random spirit or two when needed.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oct 20: Haunted House Hunting in Crawlspace

Haunted houses for impromptu Crawlspace sessions are like cheese dips at parties, very popular and easy to handle, if full of potential trips to the hospital. Besides having a matrix for developing these scenarios, I avoid having to worry too much about the roles of the Characters by making them a part of a reality TV show. This way the players, err Actors can essentially be themselves or not without me having to come up with back story for them. The players have to decide their roles, or an Open Draw will decide for them.

Camera- Though everyone and his brother has a camera on their cell phones, this is the dude, or gal, that insist on carrying a shoulder-carried "professional-grade" camera on his shoulder. This better photographic quality gets to show the Talent's faces as they react to stuff that he is not filming.

Tech, flunky- This is the guy that gets to put up all the stationary cameras, run cables, fill up the van's tank, get coffee and sandwiches, etc... etc.
Tech, master- This guy, because of his mastery of owning a van, gets to run the "control" area.
Talent, big shot- This is the biggest ego, err the star of the group. Usually the one finding cold spots next to air conditioning vents and electrical spikes next to power lines.
Talent, putz- This is the guy that has his cell phone camera out. Then he always gets scared and just misses filming whatever just scared him because his cell phone camera was on him looking scared.
Talent, color- Usually known as the "psychic" or the "empath," but can be a special guest like a site historian or someone once involved with the place.

The GM/Director starts everyone back at the studio and then the team gets a call. This will be a lead to a site. The type of area depends on a Draw:
Ace- An abandoned centuries-old mansion next to a cemetery (+2 for encounters).
King- The site of a murder or an fatal accident (+3 for encounters).
Queen-Jack- An old house with a well established family living there (+1 for encounters). 
Ten-Seven- An old hospital or a farm with a large house and stables and a barn (picturesque but no bonus).
Six-Three- An apartment complex, motel, restaurant, or a strip-mall
Deuce- A store or a fast food joint.
Joker- Draw again for locale but guaranteed encounters.

Once the gang is at the scene, the GM Draws for possible encounters:
King-Ten- Nothing
Nine-Four- An encounter that can be explained through regular means, but who wants to do that?
Three- Black card equals one encounter. Red card equals two encounters

Ace- Hearts equal a near complete apparition needing a favor, but it cannot speak directly. Clubs comes to wailing noises leading to clues to a murder. Diamonds moving items protecting hidden moneys. Spades an evil entity looking to kill someone or somebodies. 
Joker- A random Ace and two other cards. 

Types of Spirits encountered can determined according to the "Spirit Combat" rule on page 25 of the Crawlspace Deluxe rule book. A crafty Director can color things with another draw:
Three-Ten- An indigent Indignant ghost.
Queen-King- A Resident ghost that is easily researched and identifiable.
Ace- "The Infernal," see page 29 of the rule book.

Deuce- The Infernal posing as another kind of spirit.
Joker- A spirit that was killed by one of Characters playing in the session.

The impromptu plot can last for as many Drawn encounters as needed to make the night a complete session. Heck, I've had one that never saw a chair move, but the players kept things going for six hours. A haunted house or a haunted area can be very specific as well, but that varies from site to site. More on that later.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oct 19: The Crawlspace Witch

93.3% of all witches are female through ancient, powerful, and inexplicably sexist metaphysics. Technically speaking, only the Draw of Joker will allow a GM/Director to fashion a warlock. Any Character can have the spells and ability listed in pages 24-27of Crawlspace Deluxe, but the Witch has kind of moved beyond the book. These ladies, and the very rare dude, do not have to learn the supernatural abilities of the Hidden World. Around puberty for these individuals the abilities start to manifest themselves-- This is almost always at very socially awkward times, like in Phys Ed class.

 Actors can be cast as a witch for a game, err filming session. This can be determined as a Whacko character would be. They earn Fame cards for making up to two of their own "spells." One of these Fame cards can be appointed to the Character's Charm STAT for the session.

This creature's preternatural aspect makes liking her awfully hard for most people. When Characters first encounter one, there is an Open Draw, only the person with the card closest to the witch's Charm STAT will not be repulsed by them. Of course the Character that Draws the same exact card, hates her beyond reason, though usually the actor is encouraged to make up many reasons. In game play, this means Characters not liking the witch are at a -1 on any Draw when she is around.

It isn't a leap of logic to conclude that making long-term friends and dating tends to be very challenging for the witch. This is most likely why secret covens like to pop up when witches do meet one another. There tends to be a lot of fuss among witches when they finally encounter a warlock. Most of the time though, a witch tends to bump into supernatural entities which become her "friends" of sorts.

Notice the orb?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Oct 18: Pitchfork Pictures

One of the main producers of the horror films that Crawlspace would-be stars find themselves living through (err acting in) is Pitchfork Pictures. This esteemed motion picture producer started in 1957 out as an English-speaking outlet for Radio Television Luxembourg Channel 17. When televised productions of Moliere and Euripides didn't bring in the expected audience counts, they decided to go Gothic horror. Despite being reputed for being lurid and exploitative, the firm has been around since.

The ever popular Count Vulgarr, the vampire known for being prettier than his victims, has had some seven scenarios (err films) . These films are known for being some inconsistent in the rules relating to the undead, but consistent in their effective use of camp and a bit of flesh to keep the crowds coming in.

When Crawlspace Characters are in a Pitchfork Picture production he or she will receive a Fame card for every three sequences that the actor works in somehow showing a bit flesh. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Oct 15: The Crawlspace Ghoul

You might not know this, but most ghouls have never even met a vampire. And while creepy sorts with ghoulish outlooks like to serve those guys, ghouls themselves aren't into eating bugs. They're into meatier stuff than insects and worms-- You know, like arms and legs. Having died and clawed their way out of their coffins also tends to make them not very photogenic, so answering the door when UPS shows up for a sleeping Nosferatu is very rarely in their job description.

Ghouls are folks that have reawakened after death and know only one thing, human flesh is delicious. This can happen because a curse that someone else cast upon them before their deaths. It can be karma for horrible deeds done in life by them. For some individuals, it can be sort of a family inheritance, say a hold-over from when Great-Great Grandmother consorted with devils to win a beauty pageant. 

As mentioned earlier, ghouls love human flesh. Not only do they like it, they need it. Eating corpses holds a ghoul together. The hungrier that one is, the more it decomposes. The fresher the flesh consumed, the more it does for them. When they are able to get sustenance from a living person, wounds heal and decomposition reverses, much of their living personality returns as well. Also as the body-eaters eat a corpse's brain he learns some of things that the meal knew in life. In Game terms, this means most ghouls have a whole lot of Perks.

Ghouls are hard to be around. Some sort of natural revulsion occurs when the still living sees one of the reawakened, no matter what kind of shape they are in. When the creature is almost human, every Character must make a Nerve Draw at 4. The hungrier it is, the more horrifying it becomes, so the GM should adjust the Draw likewise.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oct 14: The Crawlspace Werewolf

 Werewolves can be easily the most fun creature in any Crawlspace session, at least for the GM (err, writer-director) that is. Dude, or gal, turns into a ravenous beast with super-strength and speed, accompanied by wolf senses as well as sensibilities; then he gets to run around killing cast members. If all goes well, a couple of the Characters will kill it for the climax of the plot. 

Moonlight can cause all sufferers of cinematic lycanthropy to change into their wolf form. The more moonlight the smaller the chance of the afflicted making a Draw on Nerve to avoid the transformation  (Quarter moon, draw at 5; Half moon draw at 4; Waxing and Waning moons draw at 2; Full moon only a Joker). For certain individuals, their temper may trigger the change at any given time. 

Depending on the age of the werewolf, meaning how many flicks has it appeared in, it gets that many extra cards which is added to first its Physical STAT when in wolf form. It can only make Mental Draws at 1 though. When in human form, the Character gets a second card on the Charm STAT. In either form, the creature has the Is It the Sequel Yet no matter how many time it is killed, untill silver is used to kill it.

 The Stray
This variation of werewolf, retains its bipedal ambulation but can lope on all fours as needed. It also can make Mental draws at 2.

The Purebred 
 This sort of werewolf can turn at any time. It cannot not turn on a full moon. In its human form, it has an extra Charm STAT, but all Luck Draws are at -1. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oct. 9: The Libri Horrendus

The Horrendus Libri is said to have been written around 219 AD by the Mad Episcopal Lucas Of Antioch. While the other prophets of his time were arguing what was the true faith that would enlighten mankind in the Third century, Lucas was searching for more ancient truths. A prophet of the Arian faith, he wasn't happy, nor satisfied with the growing influence of the Nicene Christian or Catholic faiths of the world around him. Being fluent in Latin, the monk transcribed his native proto-Slavic language into a cypher where he could write down the mysteries that he solved. Delving past cryptic tenets of Judaism and eldritch pagan scripture, he unlocked horrible secrets. These secrets, more often than not, are best left forgotten, if not just left well enough unknown. Lucas is said to have lived until 999AD before a company of crusading knights stored his small castle, known as the Black Tower, and decapitated him. Later they burned his corpse to ensure that he could not somehow return. His written works lived on in the darker realms of occult study and the halls of under-funded academia.

It is also said that the man was able to cast sorcery or more specifically "grave-spawned magics of horrifying consequences" (according to Phillipus of Nicodemus IX) upon those that encountered him. Supposedly he lived on an island where the bodies of the dead buried there served him and acted as his body guards. It is believed that he is also the founder of many Satanic cults across all of the known world. During the legendary nearly eight hundred years of his life, it is said six copies of the unholy manuscript were completed. With the advent of the printing press, some twenty-two more issues of the dark work, entitled D' Libre Horribles, were reportedly cranked out-- a lot is said to have been edited out in these later works. 

This book, Le Libri Horrendus is at a glance a book full of gruesome and grotesque drawings, written in a secret code, with geometrical patterns that do not make sense. But for those that somehow get it, amazing supernatural abilities are just around the corner. In game terms, the Character can learn magical spells from reading it with a Mental Draw at 1, but suffer a -1 modifier on every Charm check per reading for that session.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Oct 5: The Crawlspace Ghost

It seems that ghosts, sometimes called "paranormal entities" by folks trying to sound scientific, require psychic energy from the living to still affect the solid world of the living. Hence the reason that they like scaring people all the time. In game terms, that means anytime a Character fails a Nerve Draw, the encountered spirit gains a card for a STAT that it can use throughout the session. If during the course of a game a ghost can possess the body of a living Character in a battle of Mental STATS, two victories on Mental Draws versus the target's successive failures. The possessed Character will remain so until a Luck at 1 Draw is made or until sunlight touches him.

More broadly, when it comes to the issue of individuals passed on into an afterlife, the producers of Crawlspace, like everybody else in the world, can only guess on the matter. In game terms, that means that the author/GM is free to ignore any suggestions here-- ghost story crafting is a very personal art. But that doesn't stop us from forming opinions and making generalizations about it anyway. One rule of thumb seems to be that it is better to be alive than dead. This is probably why all "manifestations" look so awful when the viewing see them. Assembled here are some categories somewhat agreed upon by various paranormal investigators (well script-writers, really).

The Newly Arrived
Most often this out of body consciousness has recently died and is unaware that it has died. It actually may have died sometime ago. These may include cast members as well, if the GM is clever enough to incorporate them into the story-- the Director should note, this sort of movie is only clever for one watching by the audience.

 This ghost realizes that it has moved on from the mortal coil, but has no idea, or inclination, to go anywhere else. Quit often they stick to areas where their family's bloodline is strong. Some like to act as guardian angels, others want to find a newborn to slip into and be reborn.

 This spirit is most likely tied to a locale, but more importantly to the event of its death. They tend to be the strongest encountered and have an agenda. Of course this agenda can't be communicated directly, so to things are going to go convoluted quickly, is usually an understatement.

Often called a poltergeist, sometimes something much more than that. This displaced soul is usually a harbinger of ill times about to occur. Whether it is bringing them or not is not exactly decided.