Monday, December 28, 2015

Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi, and Sci-Fi

As I have said before, I am steadily re-working my S-F RPG Spacers into its second edition. As before, I am at a point where I can read others works and it is such luxury. Over the last month, I've found three. Considering that it's been December, it's like Santa Claus has defeated the martians and has returned home just to come and see me, his favorite 50 year-old adolescent.

If you don't watch this flik every year, the communists win.
The first product I found was Machinations of the Space Princess. A blog, well video blog, review by Bruno Galan prompted me to buy this work. While I had heard of it, the name kind of off-set me, a little too specific for my preconceptions of quality science fiction. All names should be about two words and one of the words has to be a variation of "star" or "space." Well, I am glad that I made the exception. Paraphrasing the author, James Desborough, Machinations strives for the sexiness and sleaze of the films from the 70s while applying old school D&D rules. His premise succeeds in getting the atmosphere right for say movies like Barbarella or War of the Robots, and his rules is capable of handling a big space fantasy campaign like Star Wars.  I really like how the writing is self-aware at one point explaining the promised sleaze, paraphrasing again, says something like "Shouldn't this be for adults? Sure but not really." Rules-wise I find his approach to alien classifications rather fun, think TSR's Star Frontier and take it a whole lot further. Space gaming-wise this is one Godzilla of a work, the more I think about it.

About a week or two later, I noticed Alpha Blue being advertised. Like all the space-ship laden sci-fi movies that came out after Star Wars, this game and its settings strives for sleazy sci-fi as well. It is a wonderfully crafted product. I like its ship combat rules. It's artwork is wonderful. The scenario towards the end has some great pacing complete with an intriguing map.
I still wonder why this book is its own game though. This work can easily be anybody's after 10pm sci-fi event setting for almost any RPG system. If one is looking for the space sexy tease of Lexx and wants to even delve into the more graphic fantasy of say Flesh Gordon or 2001: A Sex Odyssey. As a campaign though, most of the specifics would come in handy in the background.
In terms of rating it, I'd call to it a Loch Ness. Bigger than a Big Foot, very close to the size the of  King Kong, it just doesn't walk on its own.

Just as of last Saturday, I found Scott Malthouse's Somnium Void. Now I have been watching the author post his notes on this setting for his USR (the Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying) System for a few years now. Full disclosure we work together from time to time. I am not the world's biggest fan of the USR, but if he keeps coming out with settings like this one, I am totally going to keep buying them, even run a session or three. Void is more like Battlestar Gallactica (original or new) or Dune in scope than say a full-out gonzo universe like Star Wars. The writing though is beautiful, despite a couple editing slip ups.
The premise will remind the reader of the works of A.E. van Vogt or Samuel Delany, but the character "Archetypes" are pure space pulp. There is definitely some "hard sci-fi" here, though I doubt Malthouse was striving for anything but a good setting for drama and imagination exploration. My initial rating on the work is a King Kong. This may change as I am able to reflect upon it after the first reading.

Adults with their Own Kids

Sometimes as a GM you realize that you're the dude playing music with a dancing monkey not David Lynch or Steven Spielberg. When it comes to adventure gaming, please do not expect a game-master or event organizer to be a part of some village, especially one full of denizens with Masters in developmental psychology.

Run this in a Barny suit at 9am?

First off, adult GMs should know better. Now I don't want to speak for others, but at 1pm I am a little less randy in my speaking habits than I am at 1am. You know, it's kind of biology, the tireder one gets the more hungry, horrific, and horny a person becomes. Everyone in the world knows this, why else are there bedtimes for our kids? Back when I was an adult, I personally always hated sending my kid to bed at a certain time if she wasn't tired, but momma-bear usually wouldn't have it, after 8:30 pm it was time for sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll (on low volume).

The "age" slot at most event submission forms really needs some changing. Go where ever you will for a convention and its organizers want to know what age is your event appropriate for. Why do convention organizers not know this? Why don't convention goers not know this?

If I run a role-playing scenario called "Foul-smelling, but Delicious, Pits of the Goddess of Kinky Sex" at 8am exactly how many players should I expect to have? Of the few players that I would get, how many of the "OSR sorts" showing will more than likely have a newborn that needs to be breast fed during the session? Judging from my morning "Hunting Bigfoot" (hopefully much less less risque sounding) scenarios at various conventions over the last two years, the answer is more than a couple. Breast-feeding is a serious consideration that I need to take into account doing early games. The around 1pm, that guy that brought his pre-teen kids to the table after buying tickets for them as well. I even labeled my event "Adult." Now if I run an event "Uncle Tom's Toddler Fun House" at midnight, exactly what crowd am I expecting? Perhaps I am offering to babysit from midnight to four AM for some really outstanding parents? Or maybe I am promising some really devious horror? Which do you think?

I have attended way too many "Adult" convention events in my life to think the label means anything too mature for anybody under the age of 17 should be uninvited. At a recent convention I was watching a group of women down whip cream canisters competing to show how big their mouths were on a Saturday night, while a woman changed the diaper of her six-month old while her husband played with their older son two seats down from me. Why? It was only 8:30 pm, but the show's organizers were all in their 70s and not wanting to be over doing it past 11pm. This young couple next to me were the Standard-bearers for the convention for the decades to come. I think I might be able to find something to fill the 10pm slot, myself, so I shouldn't complain.

When it comes to reading material, the "Adult" barrier for the reader does not ensure any sort of graphic details based off of the understanding of trauma or even much pornography (including the illustrated kind). More than likely, what the purchaser is going to get is a lot really simple puns with words like "fuck" and "shit" not used as verbs. What the author is going to get is usually 70 cents on the dollar and satisfaction that words using like "fuck" and "shit" indicate cleverness. 

So we're here, I'm still stuck with filling out "Age" slots for events and dudes and dames,  go around swearing for shock value. This is because of a certain impracticality where event organizers and game producers have applying movie markets to games. At the same time, most of us deal with, or have dealt, with own children as we see fit.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Old Shanghai RPG supplement

As you might have read, I just recently did a quick study of China from about 1909 until 1949, for potential RPG scenario/setting use. Recently while hanging out at a G+ TSR Gangbuster's community I saw a plug for Tom West's Old Shaghai from Horrido Publishing. Well what a perfect place to start for doing some "China RPGing" as well as the whole East Asian region for that matter? Set in the 1930s, the reader is introduced to vastly reforming world for the city. Japan steps into the role as regional aggressor of the Shangdon peninsula. The British Empire hovers over Chinese territories like a vulture over the corpse of Qing dynasty after its century-long antagonism pays off. The French show their tone-death lack of insight despite continued holdings. The fledgling Soviet Union and its refugees add distinctively even more brutal intrigue. The Americans and Germans kind of look on, at least in the early 30s, pretty much eating peanuts watching colonialism, militarism, and nativism vie for supremacy in the rather lawless city. A much proclaimed "cosmopolitan" city fills the world's newspapers while foreign gunboats patrol the Yangtze Delta and its tributaries. Nothing screams B&W and smoke-filled adventure quite as much this work.

This source book does a pretty good job making sure that the reader gets a good grasp of the city. First its layouts, then its organizations, and then some of the people. West then goes on to work out a couple of scenarios using bits and pieces of the book's elements before moving into some real nitty-gritty details. Throughout the book pages bearing articles from a newspaper, I am not sure if the periodical was real or not, its real articles appear without dates, giving a great atmospheric guide as well as adventure hooks for the DYI GM. It was these details that I found to be the best part of the work, being already somewhat familiar with period and place. Stuff like travel times from various major cites of the Far East via various modes of transportation, really put the cream on the pie for me-- Something about Vladivostok being 11 hours away by plane to Shanghai really kicked in some espionage notes in my head.

This work is very tall King Kong, a couple feet off of its height for a lack of more art and some editing. It is very, very close to a Godzilla. I will be buying more from this author.

China circa 1928
The Far East circa 1937

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Video Season: Goings on in Marvel City, New Jersey

I am seeing a lot of my friends on the FacetuBe and the Goggles (Plush, no less!) talking about this or that video game. I am doing a lot of video games as well. Of course I mean video chatrooms gaming. Last night we, the core group (Peryton, Wylde, Curtis, and I) finished up the two-part super-powered tale "The Crosshairs of Thrill-Kill." Believe it or not we finished up a two-part story in two sessions. A rare thing for the on-line RPG event in my experience.

Now I wrote about the first of the sessions, "What Price Beauty," in generalities a month or so ago, but I'd like to got into more plot detail this time.  Scrap Pile, our ICONS super group, stars Citrus Shocker and Land Shark, helped young hero Disco find his mother. Wanda Dazzle besides having been a self-empowered single mother is the retired super-heroine the Sparkler, who rocked the 70-80s super-powered nightclub scene. Notified by Groovy Boy, the Sparkler's sidekick since he was old enough to have a fake ID to get into the clubs in the late 80s, Disco got right back to his hometown, Marvel City, New Jersey.

Groovy Lad in his 90s costume.
Staying with Disco's sister, AKA the costumed martial artist Dancing Queen in the late 90s, at her house out in the inner suburbs of the Yonks, our heroes began their investigation after getting in contact with Groovy Lad, now a professor of physics and physical fitness at Great State University, Marvel City's almost ivy league college. Disco went rummaging around Wanda's penthouse apartment, in the city's well-heeled Green Harbor district, the trio ran into his adoptive aunt Jessi Laynge, AKA Moonbat (picture a female Moon Knight). Land Shark and Citrus Shocker would meet Brick House, Marvel City's, woman of wonder with super-strength and the ability of flight. It from these two meetings that they learned that Wanda was investigating the disappearance of her sometimes ally, sometimes nemesis Hell's Bell, she came missing as well.

Coming back to Dancing Queen's apartment, the Scrappers of pieced together enough to know that they had to go to _the club_ get any further in their searching. It his then when our heroes were introduced to the Millennial, a super-powered teen group now on the scene, by Groovy Lad whom acts as their mentor. Lady Goth-Goth, Militia, Clunker, and Starfall were all ready to help, they even had their fake IDs ready. To show how the times have changed, Citrus Shocker refused to be a part of the deliquency of minors. Disco slipped them a bottle of Tickle Pink as consolation for his partner's prudishness.

Lady Goth-Goth is actually 27 and can get into Club Creation any time she wants.
 At the club called Creation, where super-powered individuals like to hang out, dance, and be seen. It is here where the Scrappers found W00T!!! working the bar. As you know W00T!!! was working with Y2K and Wise Owl during the Carmageddon crisis of the 1999-2000 winter. Some say he was with Y2K when the Secret Battle among heroes and villains formed Lake Mohawk from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in 2001. Both Y2K and Wise Owl had been captured by the Sparkler with Hell's Bell, finally deciding to be a hero instead of an anti-hero, the following year. As Disco was getting somewhere, using his light show/mind-control powers, in his questioning of the bar-tender, another group of super-powered folks came in.

Kaboom Cobain (John Barrowman as Solomon Grundy/Curt Cobain), Shiva (four-armed martial artist), Smoke (smoke-form for burglary), and Adder (shoots "venom" blasts) came in and promptly started a fight with Land Shark. W00T!!! tried to slip out in the general chaos of the bar brawl that erupted as Citrus Shocker and Land Shark went into Scrapper mode. Disco followed W00T!!! out the back door and onto the rooftops that he was using as his escape route. He was about to spill the beans when he was cornered but was suddenly shot in the head by the arch assassin Thrill-Kill. The mercenary was far enough away to wave at Disco and disappear into the shadows.

Part 2: Unspoken

The trio slept in a bit, having had to answer questions most of the early hours of the morning at the 2nd District police HQ. Detective Miller Barney was very thorough in his questioning. The early tabloids only briefly mentioned the bar fight, where it all became Citrus Shocker's fault as she threatened the club's DJ with brain-frying if she didn't get to use his lighting system and speakers. The fellow didn't let her touch his expensive equipment, but Land Shark calmed her down and became the hero of the bar. Most of the news was about the sniper that was still at large. According to the newsprint, Land Shark was walking past when he saw Citrus Shocker picking on Shiva, Disco, and the DJ. Groovy Lad though made the last pages with pictures of him being a little too drunk around young women, nothing his wife of eight years didn't already suspect though.

Wise Owl, well his alter-ego, had been released from prison in 2007, and because of his brilliance as a scientist, if specializing in mad science, had been able to secure a job with Marvel City's Alternative Energy Commission in 2011. Despite the man's apparent lack of criminal activity of late, the team noticed that every lead that they had was pointing towards him. Disco and Land Shark, both dressed civilian style made an appointment to see Dr Jeffery Kombes PHD Amorphous Energies Studies, AKA the retired Wise Owl, that afternoon. You'll note that I write "civilian style" not exactly "in civilian clothing." Disco looked like something out of Star Wars and Midnight Cowboy with lottsa rhinestones. Land Shark dressed similar to someone from the group The Time (see Prince's antagonist in Purple Rain) with his hair up in a shark fin mohawk. Of course the Wise Owl gave up nothing, being hip to the mind-tricks of the Sparkler, let alone her still learning son.

The Wise Owl was not wise enough to see Citrus Shocker, disguised in a "gadgeted" up scarf, jacket and glasses, which changed colors every three minutes as he left his office after the meeting with the other two Scrap Pile members. She followed him from a couple routine appointments to what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse. After ten minutes he came out again, looking left and right, and got back into his City-provided car then sped away. Shocker called her two cohorts and prepared to get scrappy.

Breaking into the warehouse was hardly any trouble at all. The hard part was not setting off one of the dozen booby-traps set up around the building once the team got close to a laboratory area.... one word for you "sneaking Land Shark." With the alarms all blaring and flashing yellow lights flashing, the notorious villain Mad Hat and six, no ten, no twelve (just six, really) oddly uniformly-attired (shaved heads with khaki slacks and gray turtlenecks) henchmen came up from the basement.

Let's step aside for some quick notes on Mad Hat. Though this man looks like a a thirty year-old Burgess Meredith and dresses like Tom Petty in a top hat, he's not your 12 cents comic book villain. Indeed, he is the darker 90s-meets-the 1939 Detective Comics criminal. Using psychic powers as well as engineering brilliance, he and his hats have been behind some of the more ostentatious crimes in Marvel City and Angelopolis (very close to LA, California). Any fatalities that occur because of his "pranks," usually one of the less-than-tech savvy fellow criminal looking to cause him problems, he only blames the victim for being "an incompetent," to put it in his own, frequently-used words.

For a few moments the villain and his thugs, six of them, and the three heroes just stared at each other.

"I suppose I should call the police about trespassers." He said, coyly, then he relaxed his shoulders. "Screw that, I am loving it!"

"GET THEM!" Mad Hat commanded his henchmen and threw smoke bombs onto the floor in front of him.

While Citrus Shocker was blasting the henchman as quick as she could, and Land Shark was in fisticuffs with two very capable henchmen (#2 and #6) at martial arts. Disco avoided the fray, literally rising above it by levitating, to see Mad Hat climbing out of a skylight window of the building. On the roof, the villain showed one the feats that his hat could perform by leaping, without looking off of the side of the 50-ft tall building. The hat spread itself into something of a parachute and helped him land softly onto a pile of garbage cans.

Disco prepared to subdue the man with a burst of happy-inducing disco-ball lighting, when Mad Hat tapped a corner of his hat. A solid band of laser light burst into the hero's field of vision, almost blinding him if it weren't for Wylde's reminding me that his PC always wears sunglasses. Still the disorientation caused the Character to spiral towards the brick wall next to him.

The hero was spiraling towards the brick wall until Citrus Shocker using her amazing rocket-pack, the only one that really works in the whole world as of now, caught him. After blasting four henchmen senseless, she had become a bit overcome by the smoke in the warehouse and flew upwards to get some air. Mad Hat cried "Curses! Foiled again!" and jumped into his "hat-mobile," a 1993 Ford Bronco to make an automotive-powered getaway.

Land Shark had just been able to grapple Henchman #6 and choke him into unconsciousness, when he heard a very loud thunderclap from out side. Car tires screeched and there was a crash into the side of the building. The smoke was clearing and seeing only subdued henchmen in the room with him made his out towards a fire exit nearest the noises.

Having struck the "hat-mobile" with essentially a lightning bolt, Citrus Shocker watched as a rather angry Mad Hat climbed out of the driver-side window, his door blocked by garbage cans and boxes.

"I am done playing nice." The villain announced and laid down some heavy psychic attacks at all within his sight, namely Shocker and Disco.

Disco watched as the man became ten feet tell and a horde of ravenous, man-sized, meat-eating bunnies swarmed towards him. Shocker though only saw a flash of a Trix cereal commercial.

"You have to do better than Lewis Carrol to get me to worry about rabbits." She said, and let loose another electrical blast. This blast knocked Mad Hat off of his feet and sent his _Hat_ spinning into the air. Coming out of the fire exit, Land Shark winced at the noise but looked up in time to seeing the tall hat spinning downward.

"Don't tou... !" Disco was able to get out before his fin hair-dooed friend easily caught the gadget.

The concussive grenades subsided in about a minute later. A rather smarting Land Shark was able to shake it off and help out with getting the apprehended tied up. After catching his breath, he suggested that the Scrappers check out the basement and see what the villains were so afraid that they'd find. Citrus Shocker had a quick idea and threw a chair down the steps to the basement. Once again the concussive grenades and other booby-traps took about a minute to die down. And when the smoke cleared, the three continued their searching.

In the basement, the Sparkler and Hell's Bell were found in coma-inducing containers. When Hell's Bell's door was open, his eyes flickered. Seeing Disco, he dropped into his arms.

"Son." He said dreamily, before dropping back into unconsciousness. "I knew that you'd come save me."

Looking at Citrus Shocker and Land Shark staring at him, Disco could only say, "Don't even think about saying something."

A scandal rocked Marvel City as it was discovered that Wise Owl was indeed working on alternative energy. He had kidnapped Hell's Bell to try and harness the sonic boom of his singing voice. When the Sparkler cam looking for him, he had to kidnap her as well. The evil scientist was able to leave town before being caught to answer for himself.

Once awakened, Wanda insisted that Disco and his friends stay for Thanksgiving dinner. Every hero met this adventure showed up. Groovy Lad's wife made sure to tag along as well. Just at the turkey was about to be carved, Disco noticed a laser spotter's red dot hovering over his mother's heart. With a deft jump, he pulled her to the floor and saved her life from the bullet of Thrill-Kill.

This sent over a score of super-powered individuals pouring out of the penthouse. Thrill-Kill knew the gig was up. He was about to leap from his perch and disappear again, but Groovy Lad had teleported behind him.With a single punch, the assassin was knocked out. As the other heroes arrived, the aging lad was all smiles.

"I might not be the perfect hero," He said, "But no one messes with my soul sister!"

The Sparkler hugged him and said, "I never liked your wife anyway, sonny."

By the end of dinner, Disco couldn't stand watching his mother and his dead-beat dad getting along. He left for Beta City the next morning, early.

Monday, November 16, 2015

1500 miles worth of gaming

Since mid-September, our gaming has gone from what I had thought was one of the busier RPG schedules that folks with stuff like jobs and life happenings going on, into hyper-drive. Since late August, we've hit the sweet spot for on-line sessions and Carnage up in Vermont got us some face-time to top things off. The last two weeks have been even more intense than usual.

Carnage was Nov 6-8th. Of course we like to get there a day early and Robin started the weekend on Thursday night with a Conspiracy X game. While I liked the session and the players we top form, as is usually the case, the game itself made me yearn for Delta Green. Throughout the rest of the weekend, I would end up running four out of six of the games that I promised to run. That was one T&T game and three Crawlspace games. What was awesome is that I was able to conclude my "Castle of the Moth" horror series with the one surviving Character, with the player (Derek Harde)who has played him for five sessions over the last six years. This dude has seen bigfoot, the moth-men, and wrapped it up with a final horror-filled ride aboard flying saucer. I apologize for the "Dune: the Rock Opera" session that I didn't run. I will do it next year and amp up the preparation seeing the full table-interest.

The trips to and from Vermont were quite enjoyable. During the stop in Syracuse on Wednesday night, I met an Adam Brown who was a game designer and writer working at the Red Roof where we always stay. His game looks awesome, I hope we can talk him into coming up to Carnage in 2016. At the convention, I rediscovered the joys of hot-tubs and mountain air. I also hung a lot with Zach, my "Carnage son." Coming home, we diverted into Ithica and Big Flats New York territory where I set my "Castle of the Moth" town of Horsehead Crag somewhere around. Early dinner at Tag's was as awesome as ever.

"Horse's Head Bluff"

The "Carnage Son"

Route 13!

Once at home again, I barely worked two days before having to jump into playing in Peyton's ICONS on-line campain. The "Magi Bomb" session was awesome and full of drama as well as action. The next night on Saturday, I took a break, but Pery helped Curtis, start his D&D "Tales of the Orange Troll" campaign. I was only sitting in on and listening to the action, but these guys went hard for five hours on-line which is like a ten-hour session at the tabletop. On Sunday, JerryTel wrapped up his Tele-Con 2015 (the first annual, I think)  with running a "Little Horror on the Plains" scenario for his Stay Alive! modern T&T variation with us on-line and a couple people at his table. Well that last session ended up being "Part One" and we have plans to work through the historical fantasy piece over the winter months.

It has been an awesome autumn. I do need to get some writing done though.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Metaphysics for my ICONS supernatural sub-plots.

Despite what most mystics would have one think, there is no default in the universe towards order or divine law. Structure happens by design. Denizens of universes find power and come together to create the order of the universe around them. While plurality comes about, the drive to maintain what is considered “right” or “normal” is a significant drive in all places where folks like to live.

Chaos is not the opposite of structure, indeed it requires structure to exist to thrive. Chaos meshes motivations of structure to its own purpose, which is very self-serving. That is as well as defiant to those that would tame it.
Within the universes there are an infinite amount of aspects that make each of them and occur throughout them. These aspects can be somewhat elemental and alike, but there are exceptions. Earth, wind, fire, water, magic, plant, light, shadow, et al are all manifestations of the aspects.

It's not just that all “good” things must come to an end, it's that change is the one and enduring truth in all of existence. Change comes about best when what is there wants to change. Eroding the arbitrary barriers, set by past endeavors, no longer relevant, opens the range of possibilities of the new age. 

The Architects
Magicians that are not only powerful sorcerers but are champions of the order of the existence around us. They are not an official group, but an association of individuals that come together when our world is threatened by forces from beyond our own universe.

Lance Fredrick, the current holder of the Helm. This helm is said to have belonged to Merlin and before him Marduk, it grants the wearer vast magical powers (+15 more points of Character creation options) when wearing it. As Spelllock, Fredrick is probably the most powerful sorcerer on Earth at this time.

Professor Hemm
The “Navigator” of the multiverse around our home plane, as well as the sub-verses within it as well. He also is very committed to maintaining the barriers between the various universes and each other.

Dr Mojo
Sheila Gisgo, a gifted surgeon who turned toward the supernatural to work against the forces of Corrosion.

Samedi Sam
Specializes in hunting those that break the rules of death, also knows how to bend the rules a little as well.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Draw of Real Life Sessions

"Why I am writing this script, when I should be role-playing it?" John Greiner, paraphrased.

This past weekend was one great table-topping RPG festival. While I didn't go to Con on the Cob, a local favorite party/gaming con, like Beckett, the gaming was abundant. Since Friday evening at 9pm, it has been a pretty full RPG schedule for me. When I haven't been working on writing RPG material, the games have come and found me.

On Saturday my Icons game "Crosshairs of Thrill-Kill" began. Peryton, Curtis, and Wylde (Charlie Wylie) jumped right into super-heroics in the nightclub scene of Marvel City. Peryton's Citrus Shocker got hip again by hanging with the newer super-powers Disco and Land Shark. JerryTel didn't show up to fill out his Groovy Lad creation, so I used him as an NPC. Now while superhero plots are simple, I was very happy how my broad and very detailed notes made the setting feel lived in. Also, Wylde and I spend chat-room time together talking about gaming in general and often enough his characters. The back-stories we developed worked wonderfully. By the end of the session I introduced 18 NPC heroes and villains, mapped out a city still in my head, and had a great dance scene. Things went really well.

Sunday evening, I finally met Beckett's intimates Todd Pressler (the Todd) and John Greiner (John G) as we met to play in Zak Smith's A Red and Pleasant Land (RaPL) using the Dungeon Crawl Classics rule systems. This was my first session, the second for everyone else. This campaign actually started out with a discussion between Beckett and myself where I kind of challenged him to show me how the work, RaPL, can work as a tabletop piece. The session went swimmingly, but I haven't been convinced yet as to the campaign working.

Well, anyway, I haven't posted a blurb in a while, so while I need to be working on Crawlspace scenarios, I've been goofing off with the best.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Crawlspace: Going Meta

This weekend off was meant to be spent finishing up my Crawlspace scenarios for Halloween this season. I've been dealing with cat drama instead. One productive thing I did do was go to Cinema Wasteland. Not that I got much writing done, but I was able to attend a panel entitled "Killer Bees, Blood-thirsty Vampires, and Elvis" where actress Suzanna Leigh regaled the audience with her working in horror movies as well as some other points in her career. Normally I get impatient and know just when one of these panels should end, but this one ended too soon. Mz. Leigh is a great storyteller and has some great yarns to spin. Not sure if you've noticed but I do like me tale-spinning.

Hearing her experiences on the sets of her productions got my mind working out some new angles for Crawlspace scenarios. The sessions should have some "behind the scenes" color. A cranky director making to much ado about nothing. A microphone slipping into a scene and the Character getting to use it as a weapon. Going a little "meta" as they say, the whole premise is already, I know, but I am slow learner.

Monday, September 21, 2015


This species of alien beings gets used quite a bit in all of my settings, including formal mentions in Glow and Spacers. Special thanks to Trevor Hudgins who first let me play one in his own post-apocalypse setting. I've been a fan ever since.

The Akebbarik, also called "Space Goats." Despite a lack of hair, these humanoids' heads resemble that of goats. Most encountered cultures are interested in trade and commercial transactions. Amongst themselves they call all human-like species, including humans, "Xylon-kin."

They appear in all of the Mu Verse's continuum calling themselves "The Trading Empire." For the most part they are friendly to the Earth and its inhabitants. They are very profit-driven though and may be working with anybody, including those that could be planning some pretty nefarious things.

Akebbarik (Space-Goats!) Quick 75-325
Great space navigators.
Knows a lot of other space-faring species. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Online RPGing for Sept-May Plans, 15-16.

As some of you already know, the Atlantis Saga will resume at the end of May 2016. It will continue until the last of August. If it needs to go on from there, plan to hold off until the Summer of 2017. Sorry folks, my sagas just don't plod along come hell or high-water, timing as well as determination is important when crafting tales with the highly improvisational element of role-playing.  If I don't feel like swimming, I was going to say "wear a swim suit" but that has never stopped me from swimming, I reckon that you don't feel like RPGing underwater.

What this allows me to make some room for scheduling a couple of boutique RPG games for the Icons superhero system.

One is the glamour-filled world where image and dynamic action come together to have made such comics as Dazzler and the Teen Titans pop up back in the 80s. There is going to be plenty of existential angst of youthfulness as well as a great night-life. Not to mention the music that had been rocking us in our boots since we were in diapers.

Wanda Dazzle, AKA the Sparkler, has gone missing.

The Cross Hairs of Thrill-Kill 
 (A three part scenario spread out over the wet and cold months)
Wanda Dazzle, AKA the Sparkler, of Marvel City's super-powered night club scene has gone missing. The Scrap Pile's Disco must travel in from Beta City to re-assemble the Glam Squad. Will the super-speedster Groovy Lad jump back into the scene? Will Warhol's ultimate creation, Andron, the Android, be awoken from dreams of electric sheep to help out?
A street-level adventure, with plenty of great action and a decent beat. Up to four players needed.

The other is something akin to the Hulk without all the love of radiation. And I get to explore a bit of mystical super-hero setting.

The colors are all wrong.

Touching Chaos
(A two part scenario, meant to start in October and be done in November)
Despite Professor Hemm's warnings, the Thaumaturgical Society of Tripod City want send a dream astronaut into a piece of the Chaos Dimension just for a couple minutes. Can you help out  Darkshade and Citrus Shocker if things go wrong?
A Kirby-meets-Ditko tale of sorcery and superpower. Up to four players needed.

If you're interested in having a slot email me at "Laggy At Butter Flavored Dot Com" with either title in the name.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Spacers, Just Another Universe to Go

The last couple of days a certain illness has had me away from the project that I wanted to be working on. But I have been able to put the time to use reading the rough_er_ draft of Spacers: Universe. One of the contributing artists, Bradley K. McDevit (Mikk-D, from now on), has been plugging away at one of the section "covers." Here's a the roughest draft that he has sent me to preview over the last week.

A sketch cover to the "Era of the Rocketmen" section
Of course I saw some parts that I want to rewrite, this "quick and easy" sci-fi game is now about 157 pages long before art is added and the formatting has been completed. But something else occurred to me. I have posted my play notes from table-top sessions throughout the sections. It would not be too hard to include some play stats and make the notes into mini scenarios. Imagine that. the "quick and easy" space game with quick play sessions already included.

After typing up scores and scores of handwritten pages dating back from 1997 and onward, I kid you not, I had thought of this idea until re-reading the work. I am definitely more a percolating coffee-maker than an expresso machine.

This is going to add some more time, but I'll definitely be happier with the product overall.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

End of the World: Zombie Apocalypse

It had the Crabb working on it!

We have a household saying, "A little bit of zombie goes a long way." But the rest of the world loves the stuff almost as much as folks east of the Danube love dill, so we get to keep seeing more movies and reading more material about the shambling dead as the dutiful fantasists that we are. When I came across Fantasy Flight game book The End of the World: Zombie Apocalypse, I glanced in its general direction not much else. Then I remembered that Christine Crabb mentioned that she had been working with the game-makers for some time, though she never could hint at what she was editing for them. Well, I opened up the book and there her name was. So I had to buy it, and it happened to at a newly discovered, for me, local area gaming store which didn't specialize in Magic tournaments-- indeed there was a D&D group setting up as we shopped.

Now the Crabb wasn't the only person in the "Credits." There was Andrew Fischer as the Game Designer, and a whole slew of others that mentioning would turn my enjoyment at writing this blog into work, anybody that I missed can yell at me later. The book itself is about 140 pages long, broken down into three main sections (excluding the intro and index), Playing the Game, Running the Game, and Scenarios. The interior art is really rather excellent, and the cover decent enough for a zombie game. The book itself was printed in China, which is a major drawback to me as a dude that likes homegrown games being about growing the home not overseas investment-- sharing ideas with other creative sorts from overseas is wonderful, products produced in grossly corrupt regimes to increase profits is, once again in my opinion, tacky.

The game mechanic is one color six-sided dice based on Character stats and "positives" versus other color six-sided dice derived from "negative" factors rolled against each other. The pools of dice nullify one another with the higher results reflecting success or failure. Failure results in the accumulation of Stress, as well leading to trauma and death both physical and, interestingly enough, mental. The running section is quick notes for how a GM can handle her games and the designer's, maybe the writer's, Tim Cox, thoughts on campaign length and Character advancement.

The scenarios are the parts which I enjoyed reading the most. Each is broken down into two subdivisions of during the breakdown and afterwards (the Apocalypse and the Post-Apocalypse). "The Night of the Meteor" deals with slow shambling zombies and throws in every dead creature as well, as if squaring the circle between Night of the Living Dead and Return of the Living Dead feature movies with steroids. "No Room in Hell" still has the shambling dead, this time without the undead farm animals and rats, which I think most established zombie GMs, like JerryTel and The Boy, will be most comfortable. "Pandemic" is the "new-rabies" virus where the fast zombie has a few "primes," think the vomiting meth-heads from 28 Days Later, sprinkled around. "It Ends with a Whisper" works in the traditional zombie from folklore, the undead slave, into a luddite take over of the world using a fictitious voodoo as its secret weapon, complete with zombi-masters.  Topping things of is "Under the Skin" where a parasitic infestation is the cause of the zombie outbreak, getting folks into the mood for gas-masks and moon-suits as well as parodying governmental approaches to recurrent disasters-- this one is the cleverest of all the scenarios, in my book.

Overall, the work is a King Kong on the "Smurf to Godzilla" scale of the Portal, a group that I hang out with talk about fantasy-based products with. The artwork inside the work is very nicely chosen. The authors took a well-established sub-genre and worked in new angles instead of deconstructing or rehashing the work of others before them. Each of the scenarios, both parts, are well worth the price of the material.

I bet my friends are so proud when I yell to them in public.

The next parts of the series, I will gladly read. Though I will do that on PDF, sorry game book distributors, I like supporting the American printing shop.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

7th Edition T&T Still Stings

I am currently in the process of writing possibly my last T&T scenario ever. While I am one to get sentimental, I am not actually felling that way about this yarn. What I am kind of amazed at, is the experience convention within the game rules. Okay, the mechanic states, paraphrasing, that when an attribute hits a new tens digit in select attributes that this becomes a higher "Level" for that character.  Now even a person as dim as I am knows that makes for a lot variability among Character-defining statistics. What I didn't exactly realize, was how the levels of gaming, at least on the table-top were changed.

While generating characters, PreGens, I noticed something. Using my own tables of developing sets of numbers for very specific ranges, still rolling dice, for eight sets of eight values, things got numerically amazing. I wanted "24" as a mean, but the dice wouldn't stop. What I got was something in the 50s at the top, something a bit lower than 24 as the mean, and a whole lot of decent T&T balance. I decided that I would decide the character's Kin (D&D Race) after the results.  Let's look at a few of my results.

Str 16 Int 15
Con 23 Wiz 14
Dex 39 Cha 18
Spd 19 Lk 36

Str 36 Int 15
Con 12 Wiz 24
Dex 9 Cha 31
Spd 17 Lk 26

Those are the two "mean" PreGens. Here's a couple of others.

Str 56 Int 5
Con 52 Wiz 4
Dex 19 Cha 31
Spd 6  Lk 16
Str 36 Int 25
Con 22 Wiz 24
Dex 29 Cha 21
Spd 27 Lk 26

These would fall into the "medium" of results if I remember a couple of math classes correctly. I have been rolling 4d6, dropping one, and using the TARO rule to develop these stats.

Now, a mathematician is going to say, "What'd you expect." I am going to slap him and remind him that I used to fight bullies wanting his lunch money back in '82. I'll also point out, that a "3rd Level Character in a 3rd Level Adventure for T&T"  is one bandersnatch of task to work out in tabletop terms.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Joy of Yetis

Developing role-playing scenarios in the paranormal media realms has been a wonderful experience for me. Sometimes it's a catharsis, other times it expands my horizons.

Many years ago, when I scripted out "The Horrible Fate of the Haunted House Hunters," I vicariously stuck it to the horrible shows about ghost hunting. You can ask Peryton, I have fits when watching the silliness of various "paranormal research" groups' antics on TV. I ghost hunted, for free beer, back in the Aughts ('98-'o2), so I am a bit snob when it comes this hobby-- I was the audio guy after all. Every time I've ran it, it has changed into a whole new narrative. Having ran this adventure some eight times since and it's a gift that just keeps giving.

Along with the fun of dealing with big-feet in North America, the yeti (homo sasquatchi) has been something of eye-opener. While writing "Yetis, Yet Again" for my T&T adventure, I came up with trappings of the setting around the players. Though it was cartoonish and campy, I had studied into the nationalities of Tibet and Yunnan (western Chinese cultures). It wasn't just the folklore. I've never been a fan of "the Orient" (women, RPG supplements, and whatnot) so if not for the Abominable Snowman, I never would've thought to read up. I find I am enjoying the reading of east Asia histories and moving westward and northward.

Getting behind the moth-man has been a study of social psychology, as well as developing a creature, actually more than one, for the table-top. Throughout the Castle of the Moth series, though I have some very specific details about what is going on, quite often the players develop their own story-arcs and come up more terrifying shadows than those that I have written.

Now I just have to get these pieces released, if only so I can get to see the artwork.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The GenCon 15 Rundown

Getting back to some semi-serious game-mastering was rather good for my soul. Here's my re-cap of the events, along with my thoughts from the "Green" notebook.

Thursday's scribble- "I bring in the Torpedo from Toledo and his cable TV show for three paranormal adventures. I hope BASHConners don't get jealous."

"Hunting Big Foot,"
A Stay Alive adventure, for Thursday morning.
Notes: Maybe it was because this was the first event ran but this was one good game. Great characterizations. The players playing the film crew got right into it. The locals got quirky as quickly as they read their PC sheets. The players actually succeeded at the scenarios objective, getting a clear and focused shot of a saquatch (that's BIG FOOT). I had to stay on top of the pacing, but the players jumped in on my prompting.
Afterthoughts: Probably my favorite game of the convention.

"The Keys to Christmas Place"
Rolling dice and hacking in the afternoon.
Notes: Why in the world did I ever put one of my darkest horror scenarios in the middle of the afternoon? I actually thought that I was doing a T&T scenario and had to double-check what I was running. True to my horror, one of the ticket-buyers brought his preteen kids to it.
Afterthoughts: This session helped increase my flexibility immensely. I turned it from pretty much a horrible detail porno into "a gory pulp story" according the father bringing his kids. Things working.

"The Horrible Fate of the Haunted House Hunters"
Rolling dice and hacking the day's end.
Notes: The original adventure, back for its third re-writing and sixth play group. Had a group of players that knew each other. Because of the party atmosphere, the first to acts where letting the Characters think that they were doing the writing. The third act was me pulling the rug out from underneath their feet. The scenario matrix works just fine. Dead Characters stuck around, even worked in a flashback.
Afterthoughts: A few players really enjoyed "the twists". If it went bad, I'd would've have a real bad night.

Friday's scribbling- "Ah yeah, boyee. It's experimental."

"The Goldfish Incident"
 My Spacers game for 2015
Notes: Having left the old rules book at home, as well as not having the new stuff at least printed up, did not help this game. At least I had pre-gens. The least interested player at first turned out to be almost as big a fan of space opera as me.
Have a great start to the next episode already.
Afterthoughts: Totally have next Spacers episode soundly started based on this ending. 4 hours and 21 minutes. HAH! I'd like to think that we were indulging ourselves. This might be the real gem of this GenCon.

"The Wrong Moon"
Crawlspace shoot, 7-11pm.
Notes: Eight people at the table is a bit much for Crawl.  I was tired and more than three players were less than enthused about being at the table. It was the players though that made this session end with a classic twist. The point of the scenario is to have the ISS avoid crashing into the Blind Spot (from "Party Nights") once something from Earth touches it, the end of the world begins. Having turned the character role "Astronaut's Love Interest" to "Astronaut's Parent" the player turned his Character into a failed, drunken father. The cultists working at the company, Space Z, found a way for him to not only get into space but be seen saving his son.
The ISS was able to avoid crashing into essentially the Spawn of Azathoth, but his father was coming right up behind him. He gave a wonderfully drunken speech as he would become the first man ever to land on an asteroid. And thus the End began...
Afterthoughts: Definitely working in the second launch into the scenario.

"Full Moon in Grimhaver"
Crawlspace at midnight.
Notes:  Four people, five tickets. Nice and quick Hammer horror story. Got out before the room got too sweaty because the A/C clicks off at 11pm-- the time my game started.
Afterthoughts: Remember to bring copies of Crawlspace Gothic and the Crawl Clock visual aid next time.

Saturday's scribble-"Into the home stretch with easy ones."

"Yetis, Yet Again"
T&T adventure for this GenCon that afternoon.
Notes: Six players, four had played before. Newcomers friends with older players. My Tunnel-Hack charts made everything look easy. Spent a bit of time talking about non-RPG things, like local tax systems in Indianapolis and Cleveland. I loved the final scenes, killed like almost everyone.
Afterthoughts: Either I make it look too easy or I look like I don't know what I as doing. I was accused of making it up as I go along. My math values for the game were spot on.

"Close the Door
Crawlspace shoot, 11pm-3am.
Notes:  Forgot to bring decks of cards. Folks found card dealing apps on their phones, w/o Jokers though. The Boy, who was allowed to come with me, ran and bought some from hotel shop (STILL OPEN!!!). Eight players, working well together. The world, drunks and heat of the room, around us was making the game very hard.
Afterthoughts: GMs should not have to work this hard.

Sunday's scribble- "There's a fine line between art and camp and I crossed it a decade ago. Hope it goes easier today than last night."

"Easter Bunny, the Holy Day Horror"
Crawlspace the "brunch" shoot.
Notes: Seven players, three groups of father-son and the Boy. Plot moved along quickly, Grimhaver is getting very well defined in my mind. Players got right into their roles as locals and caught on to the rules rather easily.
Afterthoughts: None. Need to get this formatted and get some artwork.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

Not quite across the river

Pery and I had dinner Saturday night with Sligo and his frau. They happened to be doing their Summer vacation thing around the Great Lakes and the final day happened to be in the C-L-E. I talked them, via text message, into going to Das Schnitzel House (es heist Das Schnitzel Haus). It was kind of busy, but, boy,  I loved seeing pounded pork being popular. I discovered that the folks running the place actually have items like "Jaeger Schnitzel" on the weekends-- You can ask Peryton, I've been fighting with them forever to include a bit of gravy of their veal (or breaded pork chops) since 'o6. I mean, man, I love rot kraut and and spetzel already, but gibts mir ein bischen Sosse. So while I know that real schnitzel is available on the weekends, I am not sure if I am up to the fist fight for getting a table. The joint was really hopping. I suppose that is why the Chef bothers with trivialities like gravy on the weekends.

So Sligo and I sent the the women-folk away. One claiming stomach cramps, while the other was just wholly unimpressed. Okay Sligo and I are uninteresting, I get that, thank you WOMEN. Then he and I got down to business. Final Exam, the only T&T "solo dungeon" (scenario) for Wizards, is going to be revised from its Shippy-beholden take using the latest 8th Edition rules at Peryton Publishing. Folks, I tried to warn him off, but he was insistent.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Icons: The Atalntis Saga... so far

I should say "Part One." This campaign is going to take a little longer than I expected. This isn't that surprising or unwelcome to me, since I've been doing chatroom games for sometime (mid 90s). What is surprising is exactly how long things are taking and how good things are. I should be three quarters done, I am just about to the halfway point.

Part 1: Watershed

Cast of Characters (Players):
Nyx (Peryton)
Riptide (Hepcat)
Dojo Loach (Curtis, now Loach forever)
Theta (Wilde)
Summary: These four characters are brought into Lightfoot Bay, and its Hoody Islands, one-time Ohio devastated the Carmageddon of 2019, that devastated the shoreways along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario forming one larger lake Lake Mohawk. Theta is sent from Mu-Mu Island to investigate an evil magic known as Muckra. Nyx is hired by a Dr. Wrong to get a sample of muckra's mutative alga-like mass, escorted by two of his agents, Kilo and Nitro. Rip Tide is en route to Cuyahoga State University and its Department of Unusual Threats (the D-U-T) when distracted by Muckra's minions, the Muckrakers. Dojo Loach follows a lead to the island when clearing out Crawdaddies out of his criminal gang's, the Asian Carp, out of their Harbor District real estate.
They encounter the Muckrakers, while Muckra coyly taunts Theta. Kilo and
 Nitro seeing problems hightail it out of "the Hood." The heroes and anti-hero (Loach)defeat the slimy algae-heads. Muckra then goes silent.
GM Notes:
Dojo Loach really brought my criminal gang scene of Lightfoot Isle's Harbor District to life. His Dr. Fishmind NPC is proving to be very useful.
Theta, I keep picturing as a blue-skinned Starfire of George Perez fame. I can work with that, though Michael Golden is illustrating the work in my mind. Wilde is an awesome player that helps me out when I get a little distracted.

Part 2: Rogue Wave

Cast of Characters (Players):
Nyx (Peryton)
Dojo Loach (Loach)
Theta (Wilde)
Summary:  Rip Tide (played by the GM) having re-started his journey Beta City and CSU, the D.U.T., jumped in his aqua-armor into the water and was not present for this session.
Nyx, Dojo Loach, and Theta investigated the larger island that they had encountered the Muckrakers. Theta explained to the other two about Muckra. The algae-shaping intelligence made an appearance, and Nyx got her sample for Dr. Wrong. The three than separated to take care of their personal business, or just get a shower (Theta). Nyx was betrayed by Dr. Wrong after giving him his sample-- she was jumped by Nitro and Kilo and knocked out.
GM Notes: Peryton stated in her character creation that she was trying to live the life of a land-lubber away from her "mer" (a slang term for sea-dwellers) heritage. She is doing well avoiding getting into the water-- reminds me of my life-guard days. Nyx talked everyone into avoiding getting wet as well though. Had to keep things rather land-based.

Part 3: Getting Deeper

Cast of Characters (Players):
Diogenes-Man (Beckett)
The Terrific Trio (Nyx (Peryton), Dojo Loach (Loach), and Theta (Wilde)
Rip Tide (Hepcat) 
Summary: The tale started out with a flashback to the 3rd Century BCE, where a mariner assumed the name Diogenes to keep his real name from others and to piss of the more famous cynic from Sincope. In a misadventure gone wrong he was swallowed by a whale. In the whale, an unnamed man, couldn't be Jonah, marked his forehead and released strong inherent inside of him into a magus. Before the character could act with his new found powers, he was frozen and regurgitated from the leviathan. This chunk of ice has been floating the sees ever since.
Rip Tide, just minutes after bidding his new aquatic friends adieu back in the Hoody Islands, noticed on his invincible Hydro-Suit sensors that there was a temperature anomaly in the waters to the NE of Lightfoot Bay. Following the tracings, he discovered large-fish like bits of algae moving a large block of ice into one of the deeper parts of lake Mohawk.  It is here, where the "pirate of the seas's" armor noted an array of equipment of non-terrestrial origin, and kilotons of the Muckra algae. He watched as Diogenes-Man was thawed out of his icy nap, almost drowned, then turned into a Muckraker, but much different. Rip Tide tried to move in for a closer look, if nothing else, but was attacked by the machinery and the algae. His suit was severely damaged. After a dramatic escape he had to make his way towards shore.
Once ashore, the rogue hero of the waterways was able to catch a bus to an all-night department store and went straight to the electronics and hardware depart. Getting back on the bus he started to fix his suit. Most of the people riding the vehicle at 5:45am were more upset at the guy urinating in his seat instead of Rip Tide in his lake water-dripping suit.
At the University, around 8am, the early morning interns, let Rip Tide in, and quickly called Dr. Sweet, who would show up much earlier than his usual expected arrival. Just before the DUT director showed up, Professor Strack showed up. The Lisa Bonet, look alike, almost won his trust just not quite. When Sweet finally showed up, the three scholars (Rippington Tyde, Malcolm Sweet, and Olivia Strack) were able to piece together the alien energies of the non-terrestrial equipment that the aquatic man in synthetics faced earlier.  
Meanwhile Dojo Loach and Theta noticed that Nyx had not come to their planned brunch as per when they last spoke. Nyx, herself, was a little busy trying to escape out of an energy-dampening cage. The heroine and anti-hero went undercover to find their missing member. As Dr Wrong's street thugs were gone, there wasn't much in the warehouse where they were looking, except for a hum. Tearing down a door, the two supers encountered Kilo and Nitro watching daytime TV. A fight ensued, they had interrupted finding out if the baby was "his" or not. The two gave as good as they got, and Loach remained standing in the end. They then freed Nyx and all three decided to have lunch and stay undercover.
About 45 miles away and 130 meters underwater, Muckra had plans for Diogenes-Man. In a battle of psychic powers, the disembodied sentience never overcame the magus. It was wholly voluntary when the human allowed himself to be turned in The Dread Squid. And he was given a mission... .
Dr Rippington Tyde ran into Nyx, Theta, and Dojo Loach in their civilian mode just as he noticed the county sheriff vehicles and a SWAT team showing up. The pirate of the seas asked for diversion, Theta obliged easily with a quick summer squall. Rip Tide, fully armored up, was seen seen blasting into the sky from the courtyard of CSU, headed towards the beaches of Lake Mohawk...
GM Notes:
Dojo Loach, once again doing some decent street level action. I am going to play with that.
I think have a plan for Diogenes-Man. I get the allusions and know the classical meaning of cynicism, and I am a story-teller, Beckett. We can do this.
Nyx still doesn't want anyone getting close to water.
Rip Tide, is proving to be quite the Kirby-esque scientist.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

When am I not running at GenCon?

Let's see,

"Hunting Big Foot," a Stay Alive adventure, 10am-2pm.
"The Keys to Christmas Place" A Red Bat: CTHULHU scenario, 3-7 pm.
"The Horrible Fate of the Haunted House Hunters" A Red Bat Cthulhu scenario, 8pm- Midnight.

"The Goldfish Incident" a Spacers scenario, 3-7pm.
"The Wrong Moon" a Crawlspace shoot, 7-11pm.
"Full Moon in Grimhaver" a Crawlspace shoot,  11pm- 3am.

"Yetis, Yet Again" a T&T adventure, 1-4pm.
"Close the Door" a Crawlspace shoot, 11pm-3am.

"Easter Bunny, the Holy Day Horror" a Crawlspace shoot, 10am-2pm.

For a complete listing of PeryPubber games go here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bat Crazy on Cthulhu

I've actually only ever had a handful of people that had ever played the game Call of Cthulhu show up at a table over the last twelve years of doing conventions. On top of all this, the only CoC aficionado to ever show up at one of my games, was so rote superficial and smug about what he expected to happen, I turned the scenario, "In the Midnight Hour", into a quick kill fest and he died first. Monk would hear the guy complaining about me on his cell phone to his friends the next morning while having a cigarette. Mind you, plenty of folks show up, usually with generic tickets begging to be allowed into a Cthulhu event once in their real lives before dieing, and we have really have had some great times-- Will they remember me in their wills, only time will tell.

I have never liked how quickly my CoC games at conventions sell out. Then at the table, I am not so happy about how the signed up do not bother to show up. These days, I've stopped actually running CoC games, instead throwing the word "Cthulhu" somewhere in the event's description, just avoid to fan-driven ticket buying and manic tepid showing up. I also want the "purist" to head elsewhere as well.
Things in the "Cthulhu" world have also gone very soft. I've noticed that from games like Cthulhu Tech to Age of Cthulhu, that many game makers feel free to use the name. Well, I don't know know whether to believe the tales that August Dereleth actually never had rights to the works of H.P. Lovecraft or not, but I do know Ballantine Books laughed at his letters in the 80s. I also know, that if I mention a Lovecraftian element in a tale about a cursed gem in a pulp tale about a jewel thief, it doesn't have to be approved by anybody.

Check out Red Bat: Cthulhu and if you show up at my "Cthulhu" games with a printed copy from your laser/bubble jet printer, you get a free ticket into the adventure.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls: a review

Here is my take on Deluxe T&T. I've read it. I've made notes. Here's my answers to questions I feel that need to be answered follow below.

Is it T&T?
This one is the most important to me.
Yes it is. How else could it be anything else? It is written by Ken St Andre, Liz Danforth, and Bear Peters; it's included Brian Penn. The first three are the Brahmin of the game and Penn has worked hard for over two decade to work with them. I may have disagreements with how each of them does the math work for this or that, but understanding how two six-sided dice work will not be one of them. 

How does it read?
Not well.
While there is a lot of look at and absorb, it is not well organized. The effects of the added rules were done in other games a couple of decades before at least.

Was it worth the wait?
No, sadly.
Two years ago I would've been totally wowed by the work here. As an oft-cited fan of the game, I've had to spend over two years defending why I bother to run any version of this game at events when the ultimate edition was coming out possibly at any given time. I've spent another eighteen months defending the producers' lack of creative impulse as not being unprofessional and indulgent. For about a year, I started flipping off the producers for speaking us like children and while they came up with more and more excuses for us to wait for this project. It just got old, then older, and then rather boring.
What I've read since last weekend does not justify this long waiting period.

Will I play this game? 
Sure I'll play it. When I am not running other games and somebody can convince me to come and be a player-character in his game, I'll do so. I hope these current rules as written will help me achieve the joy that older role-players, they were like 16 when I was 12, had when recounting "doing T&T" to me a novice gamer. I hope other people see the game as I saw it when I was twelve years-old as well.

Notes 1
Notes 2
Notes 3
Notes 4
Notes 5

Wading Through _D_T&T, part 5

The last part of the work, from page 226 until its end at 385, is promised to be about Trollworld. Starting off with the authors' views on how to build worlds, using any system I think, to how this or that T&T locale developed among themselves as they played the game. There is the well established "Trollworld Timeline." The continent of Ralph, err  Rr'lff, is highlighted. A chunk of color-plates thrown in with the artwork of Liz Danforth for various works. The rest of the known planet, like the Eagle and Unicorn continents, are outlined.  A couple of full-color NPC biographies follow. More color artwork by Danforth. Some sharp maps with strong 90 degree angles of well known T&T cities show up as well. A couple more full-color NPC biographies follow.  And then reader gets to get into the other parts of Trollworld that she might be wanting to take a look at.

Michael Stackpole jumps in to do a narrative of his city, Gul. As I always have a copy of City of Terrors nearby at my writing desk, I really enjoyed this. I am as much a fan of the Blue Beetle God as I am of Liz Danforth's pen and ink illustrations of most everything. After the 90-degree angles of the previous maps, I really, appreciated not getting a full view of the city that I have worked out in my mind already.

One thing really bugs me about this section though. It's called clip-art from public domain.

There is a section where adventures are posted. There is a solo of The Abyss by Paul Creelman. There is a trilogy of GM scenarios by Ken St Andre, Bear Peters, and Liz Danforth. I'll probably never read the solo in depth, but the GM adventure is going to get a serious reading for sure. It already reads nicely in the parts that I skimmed so far.

I think there are about 22,000 pages of acknowledgements. While I hope all the Kickstarter contributors are mollified, I think "Great and Mighty Thom" and "Tom Kopfy Loney" need to face off in a sword fight to the death by decapitation. There can be only one "Thom Kopf Laaki."

Wading Through _D_T&T, part 4

Up to page 226, through appendices into "Elaborations" per the phrasing of the book. The charts and further essays on things mentioned in the already padded essential(?) rules from earlier are listed, around a few campaign organizing factors. There is discussions on role-playing tips for  GMs and players. More on talents, the removed Types of warrior-wizrd and citizen, delving into the Specialist, languages, armor for horses, et al. Slightlly of interest is a debate on whether large amounts of dice should be used or not and how the concept of "the Wizards Guild" might be used. Most of this section functions as well as the appendix of a person's digestion; it can help with flow of things or it be the spot where a lot of stuff that should be moving on causes a lot of dire problems.

It is here the concept of "illkin" gets its due discussion. Once again, sounding like card game and it boiled down to charts. There is a treatise on Monsters! Monsters! tradition in T&T play. There is something of an alternate species listing for players that insist on being abnormal and playing a "monstrous kin." These being my favorite subjects of any RPG, I was happy to get to these topics. I still think, my take on T&T monster-kin is better. I also think my names of "Gar" for gargoyles and "Hufugger" for ogre/half-ogres might've influenced some Kharghish (Troll-Speak), which makes me dance a little. Still the framing is how real fantasy role-playing is about humans being the center of everything, and how balance should be a goal of the GM-- I have to wonder if Gary Gygax would be proud of this rather "humanocentric" view point is deeply instilled in the game that was not supposed to be based on his claimed creation.

 I am struck by the subtext of a debate between the 5th edition of the game and its 7th edition. I like the tone and familiar format, but for added value to my personal campaigns, I am not seeing it.