Thursday, December 29, 2011

My 25th anniversary...

Twenty-five-years-ago, December 1986, a couple of days after Christmas. I was 12-years-old and my Uncle Bob had sent me a $25 gift certificate for Toys R Us. I was rummaging the isles, at the Brookfield, Wisconsin store, looking for something really cool to go along with the gyroscope and the box of microscope slides I had already picked out. I was passing the "Clearance" bin and looked in hoping there was an out-of-print Atari game cartridge or some other bargain.

It was then I saw it.

The game that started me down the dark path.
One of the corners was crushed, but it was $8 and the Larry Elmore's cover art was sooooo cool. I had only heard of role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, but never played them before. My curiosity and love of all things science fiction got the better of me. I snatched it up right away.

Thus, my life as a gamer began, and I don't think it's going to end until I'm a corpse.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: Carcosa (PDF Edition)

Can't you feel the pure EVIL emanating from the cover art?
The wait is over fellow slasher-flick self-abusers! Jim Raggi at Lamentations of the Flame Princess has just released the new-and-improved Second Expanded Edition of Geoffrey McKinney's immortal (and infamous) Carcosa! This time, there is no censored "Expurgated" version for the faint of heart. Now we are made to stare into the bottomless abyss of Lovecraftian horror and witness all the blood, guts, gore, ritualistic rape, human sacrifice, and tentacles (Oh! So many tentacles!) that goes with it.

This should be fun!

I heard about Carcosa as I was just getting into the OSR phenomenon and just as the "controversy" surrounding the First Edition was dying out. In full accordance of the Streisand Effect, I purchased a .PDF copy directly from Geoffrey McKinney. At the time, I wasn't sure what I was getting into, but I soon discovered that I was greatly impressed by that little document. It showed me that it didn't take much work to replace the bland, boring, "traditional" RPG fantasy setting and replace it with something weird and wonderful. I desperately want to purchase the hardcover version of this book. However, with shipping costs figured in, it's just a little out of my price range at this time. (I'm only a poor, underpaid, corporate grunt.) Therefore, I'm reviewing the .PDF edition available from LotFP as well as from DrivethruRPG.com/RPGNOW.com.

For the uninitiated, Carcosa was originally a fictional city created by Ambrose Bierce, later expanded upon by Robert Chambers, and eventually incorporated into H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. In McKinney's version, Carcosa is a planet located somewhere in the Hyades star cluster. The setting is an amalgam of Lovecraft, Howard, and Burroughs, as primitive--and multi-colored--humanoids struggle to live, thrive, and survive on a hostile world surrounded by dark sorcery, powerful alien technology, and creatures from beyond the veil of space and time. McKinney does not bog down the reader with reams and reams of flavor text, giving the GM just enough background story to get started and make Carcosa their own.

The first portion of the book is dedicated to setting-specific rules. This new edition of the rules are designed to work with Raggi's Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing, but with a little tweaking, can be used with any version of the Gygax/Arneson fantasy game, either original or retro-clone. Humans are the only race available. However, they come in a myriad of skin colors from candy-apple red to transparent with only the bones showing beneath! The only two classes available to the player character are the traditional Fighter and a new class: The Sorcerer. Sorcerers operate just like a Fighter, but has the capability of casting blasphemous rituals (more on those later). Along with new magic system, any character also has the potential of possessing psychic powers depending on their INT, WIS, and CHA scores.

One of the more unique rules in Carcosa is how character hit points are determined. Under these rules, hit points are not generated on creation and the hit dice used are not "fixed" per class. Instead, at the start of combat, all characters and monsters not only roll to find out what their hit points will be that round, but they all must determine what type of hit dice they'll be using. Therefore, in one combat it's possible for a player to need to roll d12s to determine hit dice in one encounter, but blow their roll and have to roll d4s the next. These rules throw a bit of randomness into the game where the party has to wonder if it's really worth fighting that swarm of monsters or band of tribesmen or try a more diplomatic approach.

Now we get to the part of the book that caused all the ruckus the first time around: Sorcerous Rituals. Forget the usual Vancian magic you find in most fantasy games, the rituals found in Carcosa are designed to conjure, torment, bind, imprison, or banish the various monstrous deities found in the setting. Many of them require components that are found at various locations, but all of the rituals, except for spells of Banishment, require human sacrifices that usually must be tortured and/or sexually violated in hideous ways.

Now, if you find the rituals horrific and very unsettling, GOOD! (Also, congratulations! You're not a sociopath!) They're supposed to be. In the tales of Howard and Lovecraft, magic was the pursuit of the mad and depraved. It was something that the protagonists did not use lightly, if at all, and you could be sure that it very often had some nasty side effects. These ceremonies are usually meant to be witnessed by the party before they swoop down to dispatch the insane NPC summoner-of-all-things-chaotic and save the swooning damsel/s. "Good" sorcerer's might try to stick the the Banishment rituals; however, a clever GM could easily create a "lesser of two evil's"where the party must decided whether the lives of a few humans are worth the destruction of everything.

Along with some original monstrosities, the bestiary is full of various creatures that will appear familiar to any Lovecraft aficionado: Deep Ones, Mi Go, Shoggoths, Yithians, Nyarlathotep, etc.. However, McKinney has his own unique interpretations on these terrors, so Mythos fans should not expect anything that's purely "canonical."

The digital edition of Carcosa is perhaps THE most impressive example of PDF technology I have ever seen: Locations on the map are linked to individual hex descriptions, ritual are linked to the various monsters they affect and vice versa, there are links to monsters and rituals in the text of the included adventure. It makes the document incredibly easy to navigate and reference.

The Addendum section includes tables for creating alien weaponry, generating new monsters, disgusting mutations that can afflict your PCs, and others madness. Also, McKinney included his introductory dungeon crawl campaign Fungoid Gardens of the Bone Sorcerer. Since I always try to avoid reading any scenario or campaigns until I've decided whether I'm going to run them or play in them, I won't review that portion at this time.

Carcosa is a dark, morally ambivalent, and unsettling universe, full of wonders and terrors, that is not for immature or the closed-minded. I would not recommended it for new gamers who are just getting into the hobby, and I would certainly not recommend it for kids (unless they're that rare kind who is wise beyond their years). In other words, it's the perfect setting for adults who have grown tired of the bowdlerization of the hobby since the Satanic Panic and who hanker for an campaign that doesn't treat them like a child.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Happy Chitlásha to all...!"



'Twas the Night before Chitlasha and all through the clan
Not a person was stirring, neither Pe Choi nor Man.
The slaves were all locked in their stables with care
For I didn't wish any more trouble down there.

The children were nestled all snug on their mats,
With nightmares of Ssuganar tormenting the brats.
And I hung the meshqu "Don't disturb, I relax",
While my wives settled down for a night on their backs.

When out in the courtyard there arose such a clatter
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Leaping over Third Wife, cross the room did I dash
Threw open the shutters and saw a great flash.

The moons on the breasts of the demon Quyo
Gave a red-and-green luster to her statue below,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a shining blue oval that filled me with fear.

Then out leapt a creature with a nose glowing red
And I feared in a moment I soon would be dead.
More rapid than Hlaka these monsters they came
As one 'round the back called out their true names;

"Now DASHER! Now DANCER, now PRANCER and VIXEN!
On COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As leaves which before a wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky
So up to the rooftop the first creature flew
With eight more behind it, and a palanquin too.

And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each demon-hoof.
As I entered the room and was looking around
Down the chimney a humanoid came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
From the brick fireplace that appeared at his back
He withdrew an enormous red tarpaulin sack

His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a berry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And my wives and I feared there was nowhere to go.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke seemed to come from burning a leaf.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
Which shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, like a demonic peasant,
And the smile I gave him was carefully pleasant.
But the wink of his eye and the twist of his head
Seemed like a spell-gesture, and filled me with dread.

He spoke not a word for the spell he would work
And had just turned around when he stopped with a jerk.
A finger was laid to one side of his nose
When he started to glow a bright shade of rose.

Third Wife's Ruby Eye also captured the sleigh
You can see them in Bey Su where they're on display.
A priest closed the nexus with a ritual spell
But I left the brick fireplace. Why not? It works well.

I rewarded Third Wife with thesun and gold
And named her First Wife though just sixteen years old.
Therefore she exclaimed during our evening rites
"HAPPY CHITLASHA TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!"

Even Prince Dhich'uné is getting into the festive spirit!
[(C) 1995 Bob Alberti, Jr. with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, M. A. R. Barker, Santa Claus, and most of Western Civilization.]

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Big LotFP Sale!

In commemoration of his birthday, his wedding anniversary, and Finnish Independence Day, the incomparable Jim Raggi at Lamentations of the Flame Princess is having a sale at RPGNow.com and DriveThruRPG.com. From now until December 10, all LotFP .PDFs are only $1.35!

Taking advantage of the deal, I picked up:
  • Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Grindhouse Edition
  • Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
  • Tower of the Stargazer
  • Hammers of the God
So stop on by and pick yourself up some dark OSR goodness!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

John Carter Trailer Part Duex: The Quickening

By now everyone knows that Disney has released the latest trailer for John Carter, their adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian tales. Let's watch, shall we?
Oh yes, so much better than the slower-moving trailer seen earlier this year. Still, a watchable trailer does not make good movie make; therefore, we shall continue to reserve final judgement until we've actually seen it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Crypts & Things Walk Through & PreOrder

Newt Newport at D101 Games has released this video featuring a sneak preview of their up coming dark-and-gritty, Howard-inspired Swords & Wizardry varient: Crypts & Things:



Looks and sounds pretty awesome right? Want to get a copy? Well, Newt is offering several pre-order bundles offers at IndieGoGo. They range from a basic .PDF copy for $10 to getting a .PDF, hard cover copy, a t-shirt featuring the cover art, and attribution as a contributing benefactor in the book for $100. If D101 reaches it's goal, everyone who pre-orders will receive a copy of the games first module "Blood of the Dragon." At the time of this post, with 43 days remaining, they've collected $1115 so far!

Come on... You KNOW you want a copy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Meet the new boss... same as the old boss.

A few folks have been posting this movie clip on the inter-tubes lately. I suppose they're showing solidarity with those kooky kids occupying Wall Street:



While I certainly agree with the sentiment of our hero, the nitpicker within me howls in pedantic rage. Why did Alan Moore choose the figure Guy Fawkes as the model for his erstwhile anarchist, V? Fawkes was not the democratic, anti-authoritarian martyr against tyranny. He wasn't seeking to liberate England from despotic rule. His Gunpowder Plot was a part of a long-term strategy to depose the Protestant-controlled monarchy and replace it with a Catholic one. And while one could argue that Catholics in British Isles got the shit end of the stick after the Tudors and Cromwell, anyone with a layman's knowledge of history could tell you that the rule by Holy Mother Church wouldn't be an improvement over the Anglican version.

Then again, trying to understand the mind of Alan Moore, a man who wanted nothing to do with the excellent film adaptation of Watchmen but approved of the cinematic abomination that was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, is an exercise in futility and perhaps a descent into madness.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The droghte of march hath perced to the roote...

Ahh... yes, takes me right back to my senior year in high school; Mr. Elliot's English Literature class...

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
While I won't be traveling with a interesting collection of Medieval English archetypes (unless there are some serious SCA members attending)  I will be making my yearly journey to Lake Geneva, WI to attend GaryCon, March 22-25, 2012 for a weekend of Old School Gaming fun and debauchery. I'm sort of divided on whether I want to run a game right now because I do enjoy playing more than GMing. However, if I do I'm musing on the following games:

  • Humanspace Empires (I do hope that Drune reappears on the interocitor soon and gives us an update.)
  • An introductory Empire of the Petal Throne game. (If I do, I'll see if Victor Raymond is planning on running anything so we can co-ordinate properly.)
  • If Al and Tom can get Warriors of the Red Planet up and running by this winter, I'll consider some Barsoomian gaming complete with miniatures.
  • Anything else my fevered brain can devise by March.
Well, it's time to start saving up my pennies to afford booze and the hotel bill. See you at The Lodge!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Only an "R" Rating?

Let's see: I've defended LotFP. I've come up with a setting that implies that Christianity is a zombie-worshiping cult. I've posted stats for two female PCs who are hornier than a styracosaurus in heat.

However...

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


It's obvious I'm not doing enough to offend the tender sensibilities of the American people.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Savage Worlds at RockCon

I"m going to be attending Rock-Con in Rockford, IL November 4th-6th and there are Savage things afoot. I'm going to be running a game of Space 1889: Red Sands Saturday morning in the 9 am to 1 pm slot. Pre-generated characters and miniatures (well, cardboard miniatures) will be provided. Other Savages are planning events of their own. 



Also, if you like classic RPGs and/or Tékumel, I'm also going to be running an introductory game of the original Empire of the Petal Throne, Friday night. My partner in all things OSR, Victor Raymond, is also promising to take daring gamers on a trip into the empire of Tsolyánu where adventure, wealth, and very available priestesses of Lady Dlamélish await!

More details as they come.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nyára Vléshla

The all-powerful Victor Raymond is restarting his EPT Play-by-Post campaign on the ODD74 forums, and I'm resurrecting my Dlamélish-worshiping priestess from Tékumel's Southern Continent. Maybe's it's because I'm a sex-starved nerd, but I've got this "thing" for powerful females who worship hedonistic deities.

Nyára Vléshla
Age: 17
Sex: Female:
Sadly, HeroMachine 2.5 has Barbie-doll notions of human anatomy
Race: Human
Deity: Dlamélish
Profession: Priestess Level: 1
Expeience Points: 0
Hit Points: 4

Strength: 41 (Average)
Intelligence: 97 (Genius)
Constitution: 46 (Average)
Psychic Ability: 87 (Quite Psychic)
Dexterity: 45 (Average)
Comeliness: 84 (Beautiful)
Open Doors 60% Detect Traps 40% Spells: 50%

Saving Throws:
Poison: 13
Spells: 15
Paralysis/Hypnosis: 14
Eyes: 14

Original Skills (93):
Group 1:
Group 2: Swimmer-Diver
Group 3: Courtesan, Musician, Scholar (History)

Professional Skills (80):
Know Two Modern Languages (Tsolyáni, Livyáni)
Know Two Ancient Languages (Engsvanyáli, Bednálljan)
Can Produce Light
Cure Light Wounds

Gear (Starting Kaitars: 229K):
Mace 7K
Leather Armor 30K
Waterskin 1K
Backpack 5K
Charting Paper, Pens, Ink 3 K
Rations for Underworld 10K
Flint, steel, and tinder 1K
Lisútl root (of course she has some)

Current Kaitars: 162K

Once a pampered, noble-born priestess, Nyára was forced to escape to Tsolyánu after her Sourthern Continent homeland was sacked by the Hlüss. She hopes to rebuild her fortunes in Jákalla anyway she can.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lálei? Is that you?

Hydra Miniatures is releasing a line of space amazons, the Valkeeri, for their Retro Rayguns line of pulp sci-fi figures.


She looks like a certain Imperial naval officer and Mentalik in the service of the Veritable Autocrator. She must be mine!

Monkeying around with the design.

I'm going to be adjusting the design of the site. Bear with me, please.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On "My" MARS...

One of my favorite Savage Settings is Adamant Entertainment's MARS. While it is not mean to be a translation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom tales (although you can find that setting Savaged here), Gareth's setting still has a enough sword and planet action to spark the imagination. Of course, like many gamer's I've decided to tweek it slightly to match my own vision of the Red Planet.

In my MARS, most of the Gareth's setting is still intact: Mars is still a world of deserts, jungles, and ruined cities. Red men still fight fight the green savages of the wates as well as war with the White Apes. The Gray Men still plot and scheme in their dark, dank chasms and the Synthe-Men still tend their ancient machines. Callor, Baltan, Lonaria and the rest are still major centers of action and intrigue.

One of the notable differences between the Gareth's Mars and my Mars is the climate. Rather than being a cold and dry world, I've cranked the thermostat up to max and have the Red Planet bathed in nearly constant heat from an unforgiving, swollen, red sun.

Yes, you read that correctly. A red sun. Rather than setting it in the 19th Century or early 20th century, my Mars exists millions of years in our future. By this time our sun is entering the Red Giant stage of its life cycle and slowly swelling, engulfing the worlds of the inner solar system as it expands. Mercury is no more and Venus will be next in a few millions years.  Earth is no longer habitable by anything we'd recognize as life, but the humans of the far future migrated to and terraformed Mars many eons earlier. For a time, Mars was a garden world and a haven for humanity until civilization fell into barbarism. Humanity's descendants, modified by the processes of natural selection and ancient genetic engineering, became the various intelligent races of Mars. (With the notable exception of the Grays, they aren't from around here.) If there are any "Earthmen" on Mars, they are part of the original Homo sapiens colonists who first came to Mars many millennia ago who have been somehow "preserved" (e.g. suspended animation tube), or they have been plucked from space and time by the Grays.

I'm also working on fleshing out the religions of Mars. Gareth made mention of one deity Faina the Provider, in the "Slavers of Mars" adventure. I plan on expanding the pantheon of deities a bit more, as well as work out the details of their particular rituals and practices.

Now that I've told you about my Mars, I want to hear about your Mars. Do you play the setting "straight up" or do you modify it like I did? If so how?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lord Thúmis shines his beneficent light of wisdom upon us.

The following decree was sent to the capitals of each of the Five Empires as well as the College at the End of Time!

Sigh... OK, Victor Raymond e-mailed this press release this morning:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2011
Minneapolis, MN 
THE WORLD OF TÉKUMEL AND OTHER MATERIALS SECURED  
The Tékumel Foundation is proud to announce that on Saturday, June 11th, 2011 Professor Barker's Tékumel materials and wargaming supplies were moved from his home to secure, climate-controlled storage. This project was long and carefully planned and carried out with the blessing and encouragement of Professor Barker and his wife Ambereen and the assistance of dedicated volunteers, some of whom flew in from out of state. 
Professor Barker's globe of Tékumel. Look at all that unexplored real estate!
The Tékumel Foundation is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Professor M.A.R. Barker and building an archive of Tékumel memorabilia and documents. Foundation members assisted by Lady Anka‚a and various Tékumel fans catalogued, photographed, carefully boxed and transported these materials to a secure climate-controlled storage area in less than 10 hours. Items secured include Professor Barker‚s globe of Tékumel, the scale model Temple of Vimúhla first displayed at GenCon IX in 1976, private maps, papers and other interesting and diverse items including unpublished material ˆ exactly how much or what is still to be determined. 
A portion of Barker's model of the Temple of Vimúhla. 
There is still much work to be done. Paper items need to be digitally scanned to secure storage; items may need to be repaired and/or restored. Items not directly connected to Tékumel must be organized, including wargaming materials, fanzines of the 1950‚s, and games that at various times had been sent to Professor Barker for review. Fortunately, the Tékumel Foundation has people with the necessary skills to assist with this enormous project. It is hoped Professor Barker‚s papers will yield new material for Tékumel, and we are optimistic that there is „good new stuff to be published.
A map of Tékumel's fabled southern continent. 
For more information, please contact the Tékumel Foundation
www.tekumelfoundation.org.
The only comment from the Temple of Lord Ksárul comes from a yet unnamed ritual priest who was heard to stutter in righteous fury "Curse those... Ssú-sucking... clanless... GRAY ROBES!!!" 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy, Happy Birthday Gary.

E. Gary Gygax 
(July 27 1938 - March 4 2008)
In memory of one of the men who started it all. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

John Carter Teaser is out!

Rather than spending 15 bucks to see it with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 you can catch the teaser for John Carter at iTunes Trailers or down here:


When I found out that the family values fascists at Disney/Pixar had gotten ahold of the John Carter property, I was afraid that this was going to be turned into a great steaming pile of G-rated pablum ( e.g. John Cater would become a CGI anthropomorphic rabbit who travels to Mars on a carrot-shaped rocket to fight comical Martians). While it certainly appears to have been bowdlerized for this PC age (I'm still surprised that they still kept this a period piece with our hero being a Confederate army veteran), it still appears quite watchable.

I'm still apprehensive about the cast. I always believed Hugh Jackman was born to play John Carter and the only actress "incomparable" enough to play Dejah Thoris would be Angelina Jolie. I don't know Taylor Kitsch or Lynn Collins. However, Mark Strong has proved himself time and time again as a good heavy and casting Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas (well, his voice and motion captures anyway) was nothing short of inspired--I think that was his voice at the end of the teaser.

We shall just have to wait and see.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Sad Savage. Saaaad."

Excuse me, I need to rant a little bit.

The last year hasn't been very good to me. I lost my job last summer and despite my education and experience I can't seem to get hired, much less interviewed, for even the most menial of jobs. I'm beginning to worry that returning to school--and consequently running up thousands in student loan debt--to peruse a career in computer programming was a wise choice. I've got bill collectors hanging on the bell and my piddly unemployment checks aren't helping cover my bills. I keep waiting for the next shoe to drop; cancer, heart disease, or some other massively expensive medical condition that would send even the most well-insured individual into a lifetime of debt or bankruptcy.

As a result, I haven't done as much gaming as I'd like to as I wallow in depression. anger, and a fruitless search for a new job. I haven't been able to afford to go to any of the major conventions and it looks like that's not going to change anytime soon, if ever. I was looking forward to going Origins and "Savage Saturday Night" again this year, but that dream was shattered each time I received a letter from a respective employer telling me that I don't even warrant an interview. Even an evening at the friendly local game store is getting prohibitively expensive; gasoline, food, incidentals, etc..

And all of my ideas for campaigns lay fallow as well; a Realms of Cthulhu campaign where the PCs play mobsters as well as my Lovecraftian Dark Fantasy setting, my attempts to create playable (and possibly marketable) Savage Worlds rules for Tekumel, playtesting Totems of the Dead, running Space 1889: Red Sands, etc.. All of these cost time, money, effort, and enthusiasm that I no longer have access to. It's hard to get excited for anything when you're constantly worried whether or not you're going to end up living in a cardboard box by the end of the month.

I don't know that the Hell I'm going to do and I shudder when I think of what lies ahead. I don't want to hear maudlin reassurances about how things are "going to get better." because they're not. If anything, things are going to get a lot worse. So, "good bye" civilization and "hello" long, slow, slide into extinction. It was fun while it lasted.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Get back ye Foul Furries and Horror Movie Onanists!

So writes the self-proclaimed Judge of Role Playing Game Morality, so shall it be done!



"He is right in his assessment, but wrong in his morality."
I'm still wondering who the fuck made you the ethical arbiter of the role playing industry or the OSR. It certainly wasn't me, and if I had to vote for one, you wouldn't be on my list of choices, Greg.
"But the tempo of the past few days has been to cast me as some kind of censorship hound. Which is absolutely false. I am just saying that I think hooliganism is bad for sports and LOTFP: GE is bad for RPGs."
Oh yes, you're not for censorship, you just don't think that LotFP shouldn't have been published; the implication of censorship is still there. The next think you'll tell us that is that you don't hate homosexuals (in fact, you have plenty of "gay friends"), but you just don't think that they should be allowed to marry each other.
"It is bad for the same reason that Furries are bad."
Yikes! First dark fantasy role playing games with dirty, dirty pictures are the scourge of Western Civilization, now anthropomorphic animal fetishists are equally reprehensible because you think they are not the One True Faith of Cosplay? Would you care to front load your insane list of moral heresies so we can keep track of how much of an uptight loon you really are?
"Now if D&D really was Satanic and Satan was real and it really was a threat to your immortal soul, then maybe D&D really did pose a threat to the earth. But it doesn't. I know it doesn't. You know it doesn't. Hence, wrong. And if roleplaying was really all about telling stories about medusa's fucking people and turning them to stone and demons climbing out of bloated vaginas, then I guess LOTFP: GE would be a great thing. It would get the word out about RPGs. But it doesn't. That isn't what RPGs are about."
And what, pray tell, oh great moral sage, are RPG's supposed to be about? In your screeds you keep shrieking about how LotFP and Vornhiem have violated some "social contract" or some set of "standards" that only seem to exist in your prudish imagination. This crusade you've decided embark upon is not about the image of RPG industry or the OSR. This is about YOU and how YOU think people ought to behave.

Well, WE don't have to listen to YOU and your anal retentive tirades. WE can make our own decisions about what content WE consume and enjoy. YOU, in the meantime, can kindly go fuck yourself.
"But you have to accept that you are in a box."
No, we don't. Especially when self-proclaimed defenders of "decency," like yourself, try to stuff us into one.
"You are the guy in the corner who is having masturbation fantasies about horror movies."
Wow! First you presume to tell us what is proper thinking when we play RPGs, now you're pontificating about the content of our sexual fantasies?" The word "arrogant" doesn't even begin to cover you attitude, Greg.

"Now when I get back on Monday, this shit is over for me. Dead. Finito. I have had it with trying to discuss this with you people."
That is, until Jim Raggi publishes Carcosa or some other game designer comes out with something that hurts your tender, Victorian, moral sensibilities. Here's a thought, why don't you start a retroactive campaign of moral indignation against Empire of the Petal Throne? While it wasn't as dark as LotFP, this Old School classic features slavery, human sacrifice, social nudity, polyamory, deities devoted to sexuality (some of it sadomasochistic) and sacred prostitution, necrophilia, pederasty, sex with aliens, sex with androids, sex with inter-planar demons... you get the picture?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Yet Another Dungeon Crawl Classics First Impression

Unless you've been hiding under a drunken dwarf, you've probably heard that Goodman Games has released a free, open-beta set of rules for their upcoming entry into the OSR genre: Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game. After downloading the .PDF I took spent the afternoon browsing through the rules. My thoughts:

  • The game is a heavily stripped-down version of D20 with an "Old School" flavor. It shouldn't bee too hard for D&D (version 3.0 through 4.0) and Pathfinder players to pick this game up.
  • The artwork is fantastic and captures the feel of classic RPGs. The game also has a bit of a sense of humor that sets it apart from the dryly written rules found in most games.
  • The rules feature one of my least-favorite concepts from OD&D: Races (e.g. Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings) as classes. 
  • At the start, players are recommended to create 2-4 0 Level characters with no skills or powers and run them through the Darwinian gauntlet of game play. Any PCs that make it to first level get to choose their class and go on from there. Personally, I'm not really sure how popular this rule will go down for experienced players who might not want to wade through their first few games as a talentless nobody. 
  • The game is very table-heavy. Critical hits, fumbles, and even spell trappings, are rolled on tables. 
  •  Great Cthulhu... as a "neutral" deity???
I'd like to give the rules a whirl, but right now it's very hard for me to get any of my friends to take a chance on something new. If anyone knows of any online games going on, please let me know.

"Medieval America" Nice, Safe, Derivative, and Boring.

While browsing the various gaming blogs I came across Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson's Fabled Lands and their lost continent/science fantasy setting, Abraxas. Being a connoisseur of wild and different role playing settings I was instantly sucked into their world of teleporter gates, terror bird riding warriors, psychic magic, and other strangeness. I dropped him a comment asking if they had any plans to publish Abraxas as an RPG setting, either for their upcoming Fabled Lands RPG or another system. Dave Morris responded:
We did think about publishing an Abraxas RPG using my Tirikelu rules system, SM. Tirikelu was originally created for Tekumel and should make a good fit. But, as a dedicated Tekumel player, I have seen how the gaming public prefer "medieval America" as a fantasy setting and so I suspect the level of interest in such a project would be miniscule - unfortunately.
I can only assume that this"medieval America" setting that Dave is referring to the standard, much-recycled, Tolkien-esque setting used just about every fantasy role-playing game from the White Box to Pathfinder: A feudal (sometimes with Renaissance touches) pseudo-European world with elves, dwarves, halflings, clerics, liche lords, chromatic/metallic dragons, etc. We've all played them and they were all of this was great fun...

...when I was 15-years-old. I'm 36 years old now, and the whole archetypical fantasy setting has gotten very, very old.

I can't blame Dave for his reluctance to take a chance with Abraxas in the current gaming market. After all, the artist proposes, but the consumer disposes. However, I think his comment on "medieval America," speaks volumes about gamers and the gaming industry.

We've all noticed how Hollywood has been consistently turning out nothing but sequels and remakes with very little that can be called "new" or "original." Movie and TV writers and producers have found what will draw in viewers and they aren't about to risk millions on a concept that could flop. Sadly, despite it's reputation for "creativity," the same for the gaming industry. They found their "formula" and they since their purpose is to make money, they will slavishly follow it. From time to time you'll get a truly weird and wonderful settings like Tekumel, Journe,  Talislantia, or Carcosa but these setting are largely ignored by all but a niche community. Capitalism is about making a profit, not creativity.

However, it's a bit of cop-out to lay the blame solely at the feet of game designers. After all, they are merely responding to the demands of the gamer. They want the same-old-same-old fantasy game. However, while these settings are safe and familiar, they tend eventually to breed stagnation. I got out of fantasy gaming for well over a decade because I was sick of traditional setting paradigm. I didn't get back in until a fellow online gamer introduced me to Empire of the Petal Throne and my interest in the genre was rekindled. Most won't be so lucky. They'll leave the hobby and slowly and surely, role playing games will fade away entirely.

For the sake fantasy gaming, I think it's about time that fantasy gamers dare to try new things, new worlds, and new concepts. That means we have to leave our safe comfort zones of traditional fantasy and start adventuring in new and uncharted territories, Whether it's Tsolyanu, Barsoom, or Abraxas.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A query for my 37 readers!

When I started this blog back in August, I originally intended it to be a general blog on old school fantasy gaming. Well, as time went on, I began to realize that my own personal interests lay elsewhere. While I enjoy the ease and expandability or old school rules and their various retro-clones, the tired and recycled Tolkien/Lewis inspired troupes bore the living hell out of me. As the posts I'm made over the last few months indicate, I crave wilder fantasy settings; from Prof. Barker's Tekumel and the related Humanspace Empires by the Drune, to Al's upcoming Warriors of the Red Planet and Geoffrey McKinney's Carcosa soon to be republished using Jim Raggi's Lamentations of the Flame Princess engine.

What's the point of my trying to maintain the facade that this is a general fantasy gaming blog when so much of my gaming interests lie elsewhere? Therefore, I'm seriously considering re-tooling, re-tasking, and even re-naming No School Like The Old School into a weird fantasy gaming blog.

My question to you is, should I do this or should I keep the site the same?

Build your own customizable GM screen.

A couple of months back, I posted pictures of my own custom Humanspace Empires GM screen. Sniderman at The Savage AfterWorld has posted instructions on making your own customizable GM screen with some looseleaf binders, some plastic document protectors and, of course, duct tape.

The finished product looks good. I'll probably try my hand at one as soon as I can scratch up the cash. (Yes, I'm that broke right now.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New PC: Lálei Kardáma

Lately I've been on an "Old School Renaissance" gaming kick and one of the most interesting projects I've run across is Humanspace Empires by The Drune; a science fantasy game that is set in the pulpy space opera "pre-history" of my favorite fantasy setting. I've had a chance to help playtesting this game and I really enjoy it. Even though there is still a few bugs to work out, Drune has done a fantastic job blending the best elements of the "Classic Fantasy Role Playing Game" with the original Empire of the Petal Throne to create a very playable dark scifi game.

That said, and with all due respect with Drune, the Savage within me will not rest until I have plugged Humanspace into the Savage Worlds engine! Therefore, here is my current PC in a playtest campaign that I'm currently embroiled, parsed into Savage Worlds using Powers and Edges from Slipstream:

Lálei Kardáma (WC)
Race: Human
Gender: Female
Rank: Veteran

Agility: d8, Smarts: d8, Spirit: d6, Strength: d4, Vigor: d6
Charisma: +2, Pace: 6, Parry: 5, Toughness: 9(4)

Edges: Attractive, Arcane Background (Psionics), Rich, Command, New Power (Object Reading), Femme Fatale

Hindrances: Loyal, Vow-Major (Imperial Navy), Vow-Minor (Order of the Verdant Sphere)

Skills: Fighting: d6, Knowledge (Space Battle): d6, Notice: d6, Persuasion: d6, Piloting: d6, Psionics: d6, Shooting: d6, Stealth: d4

Powers: Empathy, Telepathy, Mind Reading, Object Reading

Power Points: 10

Gear: Z-Ray Pistol (12/24/48, 2d6+1), Psi-Sword (Str+ d6+8, AP 12, requires AB: Psionics to use), Skin Suit, Mark II Shield Belt, Communicator, Translator Orb.

Background: Lálei Kardáma was born on Epsilon Eridani 4 to retired Imperial Fleet Admiral Dör Varákka and Sóra Kardáma, his favorite concubine. Sóra , a member of the Order of the Verdant Sphere--an exclusive cult of wealthy and powerful sybarists who seek spiritual enlightenment through sexual ecstasy, initially raised her daughter to become a poised and educated courtesan-priestess of the Order. However, Lálei had other plans than a life of just parties and orgies, and using her father's influence (as well some of the physical and psionic arts her mother taught her) was accepted into the Imperial Naval Academy at 16.

In the academy, Cadet Lálei was schooled in starship mastery and command. Eventually, her psychic abilities came to her instructor's attention and entered into the prestigious School of Special Intelligence were she honed her talents. Upon graduation, Lálei quickly rose through the ranks of the male-dominated Navy through a skillful application of merit and seduction (she had the unofficially-coveted role of "Captain's Woman" on two of her deployments). The Deeds of Glory is her first independent command and she is excited at the prospect for further adventure and advancement.
Lálei is a quiet but ambitious woman who uses her intelligence and sexuality as both a tool and a weapon. She is a fair leader, but is merciless when crossed. Physically, she is small but shapely frame with a dark complication, deep-brown slanted eyes, and long black hair she keeps tied back while on duty. As a legacy member of the Order of the Verdant Sphere, she has the sect's symbol tattooed just above her vulva and will often request the presence of a comely crew member in her quarters to assist her with her "mediations" where she uses her climax as a springboard to reach new states of consciousness where she briefly communes with... something joyous.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wait... I've got a Traveller blog, don't I?

Jeebus! Has it really been nearly three years since I've posted anything here?

I've been pretty busy over the last couple of years. Work. School. Back shaving.

However, things are looking up for me and now I can finally pay more attention to this and a few other blogs I run.

So keep watching. I'll post new material very soon.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Still kicking...

Hey Savages:

Yes, I'm still around. I've been dealing with school and lot of real life crap, as well as some new gaming obsessions. But things are going to be quieting down soon and the Savage Blogger will be back and better than ever.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A special holiday campaign idea.

In keeping with the spirit of the holiday season, I've come up with the following idea for a historical fantasy/horror campaign setting:

"Blessed are those who come to this supper..."
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.  (Matthew 27:52-53)
It was during the reign of Tiberius that they brought the world as we know it to an end. At first they were just tiny cult from Judea--the region has been thick with holy men since the region came under Roman control. This one was led to by some self-proclaimed rabbi, who claimed to be a carpenter's son from some backwater town, preached that the kingdom of his god was at hand and that he was some long-prophized "Messiah." There were rumors that he could heal lepers, make the blind see, drive out demons, and even raise the dead, but nothing was ever substantiated. Eventually, the Hebrew religious authorities had enough of his blasphemy and had him crucified like the common criminal that he was. Chances were that with the leader dead they probably would have faded from history like so many other short lived sects.

That is until the refugees from the East started to pour into Egypt and Byzantium with blood-curdling tales of horror. Tales of the freshly dead rising from their resting places to kill and feed upon the flesh and blood the living. Those who were bitten by the undead would quickly take ill, die, and rise to join the others in their cannibalistic orgy. The walking dead where difficult to put down again, and soon they out numbered the local Roman garrisons. Some survivors whispered of a leader; a grim, rotting man with nail wounds to his hands and feet and a slash to his side who would insanely howl and ramble spiritual platitudes at his growing, rancid flock as they staggered their way from city to city.

If any of this offends you, kindly fuck off.
Many of the Empire's poor and desperate believed that this was divine punishment for mankind's sins. Others believed that this "King of the Jews" really was the son of god and that by serving him they would be spared the horrors inflicted upon them by his mouldering followers. As the undead army began to appear, many deluded souls would riot against the defending legions, or throw themselves at the creatures so that they might join them in "everlasting life." Mighty Tiberius sent legion after legion at the oncoming wave of walking corpses only to have them the fallen add to their numbers. Within a year, they were at the gates of Rome herself. The slaughter was unimaginable.

The remaining vestiges of the Empire fell back to the northwest. The now-dead Tiberius' nephew and  son of the great general Germanicus, Caligula,  ascended to the purple and was spirited away to rule from distant Londinium.  The remnants of Rome's mighty army must join forces with old enemies to defend the living: Gauls, Celts, and other barbarians. Zoroastrian magi from the East confer with the priests of the Roman gods, Druids, and the mysterious clerics of Mithras and Cybele to find a supernatural answer.

Meanwhile, there are reports of "apostles" spreading the word of "the Christ" ("the anointed one") throughout the untouched regions of Europa. Where ever they go, the dead are soon to follow. Thus were the mindless followers of the Judean lich-lord, both living and dead, given a name that would strike terror in the hearts of millions.

They were called Christians.

New Humanspace PC: Lálei Kardáma

Here is my PC for The Drune's HSE campaign: Spaceswords & Glory.

Cpt. Lálei Kardáma
Class/Level: Level 4 Astronaut
Homeworld: Tékumel Epsilon Eridani
Age: 27
HP: 19

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 14 (-1 AC Modifier, +1 Attack Modifier, +1 Saving Throw)
Constitution: 8
Intelligence: 12
Psychic Ability: 15 (+1 Saving Modifer to PSY Effects)
Charisma: 10

Technical Skills: Air Pilot, Alien Contact, Bureaucrat, Courtesan +1.
Expert Skills: Astronomer, Scholar, Spy.
Astronaut: Skills: Engineer,Gunner. Space Swordsman, Energy Pistol, Navigator, Pilot, Psy Luck, Empathy, Control of Self, Bio-PK 1, Third Eye, Suggestion, ESP, Psychometry, Telepathy, PSY Weapon.
PSY Powers: Slow/Haste, Mind Bar, PSY-Kill, Inter-Planar Barrier.

Lálei Kardáma's was born on Tékumel Epsilon Eridani to retired Imperial Fleet Admiral Dör Varákka and Sóra Kardáma, one of his concubines. Sóra , a member of the Order of the Verdant Sphere--an exclusive cult of wealthy and powerful sybarists who seek spiritual enlightenment through sexual ecstasy, initially raised her daughter to become a poised and educated courtesan-priestess of the Order. However, Lálei had other plans than a life of just parties and orgies, and using her father's influence (as well some of the physical and psionic arts her mother taught her) was accepted into the Imperial Naval Academy at 16.

In the academy, Cadet Lálei was schooled in starship mastery and command. Eventually, her psychic abilities came to her instructor's attention and entered into the prestigious School of Special Intelligence were she honed her talents. Upon graduation, Lálei quickly rose through the ranks of the male-dominated Navy through a skillful application of merit and seduction (she had the unofficially-coveted role of "Captain's Woman" on two of her deployments). The Deeds of Glory is her first independent command and she is excited at the prospect for further adventure and advancement.

Lálei is a quiet but ambitious woman who uses her intelligence and sexuality as both a tool and a weapon. She is a fair leader, but is merciless when crossed. Physically, she is small but shapely frame with a dark complication, deep-brown slanted eyes, and long black hair she keeps tied back while on duty. As a legacy member of the Order of the Verdant Sphere, she has the sect's symbol tattooed just above her vulva and will often request the presence of a comely crew member in her quarters to assist her with her "mediations" where she uses her climax as a springboard to reach new states of consciousness where she briefly communes with... something joyous.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Slots still open for Humanspace Empires PbP game.

Artwork by Donald Newton
His most august Imperial Majesty of Science Fantasy Weirdness, The Drune, is setting up a pair of Humanspace Empires Play-by-Post/Play-by-Blog games. One of the games, a "looters" campaign, is all booked up. However, a naval campaign, has two slots open. Therefore, if you wish to travel the stars and expand the authority of the Veritable Autocrator to a savage, untamed galaxy, then contact The Drune immediately and enlist!

That is, unless you happen to like the dreary, regimented existence of a cowardly prole!

Another New Tékumel Blog

Picture by Katherine Grantham
In other related news, another Tékumel gaming blog blooms! From the creators of The Tékumel Project, I introduce: Heroes of the Age!

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Tékumel Blog

Picture by Katherine Grantham
Tékumel veteran Brett Slocum has started The Eye of Joyful Sitting Amongst Friends, a blog dedicated to M.A.R. Barker's science fantasy setting:

In this blog, I want to discuss the current state of Tekumel, what products are available, what products have come before, and other musings on the topic of this great fantasy universe.
I recommend you stop by and follow it... or you'll end up on Lord Vimúhla 's altar.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Transmitting LIVE from GaryCon… OK, not really.


I'm posting this a lot later than I wanted to, but I do have real life concerns (e.g. school, internship, back shaving) to deal with. So here it is: my recollections of GaryCon III!

Friday:

The trip was long, tiring, and arduous. I lost an ox while fording the Missouri River. I had to shoot a buffalo but could only take 100 lbs of meat back to the wagon. Mary Jane and Cornelius died of typhoid fever and I buried them somewhere in Utah Territory…

OK, OK, Lake Geneva was only 35 minutes away from my home in Muskego. I probably drive further to go to school each week. Still, I couldn't pass up the chance to make an Oregon Trail reference.

I arrived at the Ledge at Grand Geneva Resort early Friday morning and checked into a rather comfy looking room. Like the previous year, the main part of this mini-convention was held at the lower level of the resort's main building. I got my badge, my event's guide, and a swag bag full of back issues of Knights of the Dinner Table. Since this the first time I had come for the full weekend, I didn't know that you had to pre-register for any of my event. Therefore, if I wanted to play in any games, I was going to have to hope they had openings.

It was rather quiet this time of day with only a few games being run. I spotted Jeff Dee at a table playing Villains & Vigilantes. Since I was on his Facebook friends list and admired his Tékumel-related artwork as well as his work with the Atheist Community of Austin, I decided to briefly say "hi" and introduce myself. Besides V&V, I spotted a few D&D/AD&D games, a 1st Edition Gamma World game, Kenzer & Co. was there running Hackmaster Basic games, and one rather enthuastic fellow was running a Star Wars D20 game while wearing an Imperial officer's uniform. (This GM ran two other games during the con, each time dressing in a theme appropriate costume: Saturday, he ran the classic TSR Marvel Superheroes game dressed up as Bronze Age Tony Stark complete with dyed hair, fake moustache, 1970's-era tux open at the chest to reveal a plastic Iron Man chest plate, and a glass decanter of "whiskey." Sunday, he ran a D20 Call of Cthulhu game where he wore late 19th/early 20th Century attire. Now THAT'S dedication.)

Later that morning, I was able to get in on a game of  Mutant Future titled "Bring Me The Head Of Frank Sinatra." I played a mutated Badger with the ability to mentally project ice rays at its target. After being charged by a New Jersey warlord to bring back the head of the famed Rat Pack leader, our party quested to legendary Las Vegas fighting plant men, robot cops, and Elvis impersonators along the way.

After that, I did a little more work on my Humanspace Empires playtest game. I worked until evening when I decided to get involved a Hackmaster Basic demo. I had played the "original" AD&D-parody version, and I was curious on how this version differed from the first. With some help from the GM, I created a Dwarf Fighter and we had a brief combat session featuring a pack of kobolds. I found the game a little clunkier than what I'd expect from an "old-school" style game, but it was fun. Best of all, the GM gave out free copies of the game! Bonus!

About that time I was after 11 pm and I was feeling really tired. I went up to the hotel bar for a rum and Coke nightcap and slumped off to my room to sleep. The only thing that would made my day perfect was to find the gamer-girl of my dreams to share my bed with me.

Yeah, as if that was EVER going to happen.

Saturday:

When I woke up the next day, I noticed that a 1/4 inch of snow had been dumped on the area overnight. Ah! "Springtime" in Wisconsin!

Never mind that! Today was the big day: the Humanspace Empires Playtest! I got up, showered, checked out of my room ($100 a night!? Yeah, some "special convention room rate" you've got there. Next year, I'll just burn the gas and sleep at home!), drove into town for breakfast, drove back to hotel and found a nice quiet corner to sit down to put the finishing touches on my scenario. Somewhere along the way I ran into Victor Raymond, who was playing in a Moldvay game, while I was taking a break to stretch my legs. I told him about the game and, as president of the Tékumel Foundation, he was very interested in the project. We talked EPT for a while, and then I went back to work.

As is the case of most weekend events, there were far more people attending the con that day than there had been the day before. However, as the start time for my game drew nigh, I was worried that I wouldn't have enough players to be run a decent game. Well, Victor was good enough to send some players my way. With five eager gamers, most of who had never heard of Empire of the Petal Throne, we delved into the mystery and weirdness of the far future.

I posted a full report of my game here at the Ix blog.

Sunday:

I didn't intend to come back for Sunday. There wasn't anything on the events schedule that really interested me, so I thought I'd spend the last day of the convention at home. However, just before I left Saturday night, I ran into Victor Raymond again while he was playing one of Jim Ward's Metamorphosis Alpha games and had one last to tell me: "EPT, Sunday. Noon."

Of course, I had to come back. I NEVER pass up a chance to game in Tékumel, especially with Victor behind the screen.

I arrived just before Noon and found Victor chatting with Jeff Dee about things Tékumelyani. After they finished we set up in an adjoining room where myself and a few other EPT fans rolled up some high-level characters for a trip through the Jakállan underworld.

I created an Avánthe-worshipping human Aridáni fighter with a sea-faring background from the Ilse of Ganga who had in her procession a sentient magic sword. Our party included another fighter (actually he started as an NPC guard but was picked up by a new player who joined later in the game), a magic-user who worshipped Lord Belkhánu, and a priest of Thúmis (I think) who just so happened to be a Mihálli. We were charged by Prince Rereshqála to find the Garden of Weeping Snows and deliver a query to the undying wizard Nyélmu regarding the mysterious, magic-dampening Black Stones the Mu'ugalavyáni used in their conquest of Livyánu.

We wandered about the dark catacomps of the deep, deep underworld working off only the vaguest of directions. Due to some fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it) random encounter roles, we only ran into a single underworld monster, a dread Nshé. We soon discovered Nyelmu's strange abode and was given an audience with the esteemed wizard. After enduring his condescending insults and thinly veiled threats to make us part of his "collection" (i.e. tortured beings, frozen in time at the height of their torment vis-à-vis Nylelmu's Excellent Ruby Eye) he opened a nexus point and told us that the answer to Prince's query lay within. Our party gathered it's equipment and nobly marched into the point to…

At that point, Raymond closed the game on a cliffhanger, promising to pick it up again next year.

That's a game I dare not miss.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Humanspace Empires Playtest: The Morning After

After sorting out some technical difficulties with Skype at the start, we delved into ckutalik's HSE playtest game. No PCs died and the citizens of Maub IV were spared destruction. A few Saturday-Morning GM thoughts:
  • It was cool and helpful to have The Drune on board for this one to answer questions and get direct feed back on issues with the rules.
  • While I'm sure to hear shrieks of "sacrilege" from some gamers, I think that miniatures and a map would be useful in games like this. For online gaming purposes, I'd recommend a program like MapTool that features interactive mapping, text-based chat, initiative tracking, a dice roller, and other features. While it requires a little more preparation, it can be a huge help. I played in a Hellfrost campaign using a Skype/MapTools combination and it was loads of fun.

On that note, I've got my own HSE game to prepare for.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Raise the GM Screens!

Since I'm going to be running my own Humanspace Empires game at GaryCon, I've created my own handy, dandy GM screen. I made this by taping a pair of 9x12" Elmer's Bi-Fold Foam Boards together at the middle and printing out the relevant tables along with various pieces of art work and pasting them to the boards.

The Front View

The Rear View
Why spend $30 for one of those vinyl pocket GM screens that fall apart after a few months when you can do the same for less than $10?

Humanspace Empires Playtest PC: Chwé Ek Kt’tet


I'll be taking part in ckutalik's Humanspace Empires Skype playtest game March 18. I've decided to try something a little different and created Chwé Ek Kt'tet, a female Pé Chói scientist. Here's a look:


Image by Talzhemir
Chwé Ek Kt'tet
Race: Pé Chói
Level/Class: Level 2 Scientist
Gender: Female
Homeworld: Procyon 3

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 9
Intelligence: 15 (+1 Additional Language, +1 Skill/Power Selection)
Psychic Ability: 16 ( +2 PSY Saving Throw, +1 PSY power success rolls)
Charisma: 14 (-1 Reaction Adjustment, 5 Retainers, Morale 8)

AC: 6 (Skin Suit)
HP: 15
Languages: Pé Chói, Sunúz

Background Skills: Agriculturalist, Cook, Hunter, Alien Contact, Comms Tech, Lab Tech, Medic, Entertainer (Dancer), Musician.

Scientist Skills: Biologist-Botanist, Physician, Energy Pistol, Chemist, Astrophysicist, Inter-Planer Physicist.

Scientist Powers: Holographic Scanner, Attractor Field, Y-Ray I, Hea t Ray.

Gear: Lens, Laser pistol. Skin Suit, Air Tablets, Utility Belt. 2 Doses of Flask.
CR: 95

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Hot Elf Chick and the Hot Priestess of Dlamélish

Since I've always been a follower rather than a leader...

Picture by Mark Allen @ http://marjasall.blogspot.com


The demon that tumbled out of the conjured nexus point was unlike anything that Nyára hiArusá of the Jade Diadem Clan, priestess of the 8th circle of the Temple of Lady Dlamélish, had even seen. It appeared to be human in shape, and a female shape at that, but it was as lithe as a young clan maiden and stood nearly two hand spans taller than Nyára! "She" was clad head-to-foot in uncomfortable (and prudish) looking leather armor. The demon had a long bow slung across her shoulder and she was brandishing a rather plain-looking short sword that glinted in the torch light. Steel! Whatever plane this being came from must be a rich one indeed!

What Nyára thought striking was this demon's skin: she was a nearly as pale as the snows upon Thénu Thendráya Peak rather than the coppery skin tones of Tékumelyani humans and her long hair was the color of gold. Even more striking where her ears; long and pointed like dagger blades. Any other human from the Five Empires would have probably found this demon utterly repulsive from description alone, but for some strange reason, Nyára found her stunningly beautiful. The priestess's womanhood began to throb at the thought of the pleasures she could have with this lovely demon.


Patience. One thing at a time Nyára, she told herself. First, let us dispel our guest's fears. Then...

The demon looked about Nyára’s private chapel to the Emerald Lady like a caged Zrné beast. At first the creature shouted at Nyára in its own musical language as she pointed her sword at Nyára warningly. Even tinged with fear and anger, the demon's voice was enthralling. She then started to chant made odd gestures with her free hand. A spell, no doubt, but Nyára had been cautious to create the proper wards to shield her from such attacks. However, the priestess did not sense the familiar release of Pedhétl that accompanies a successful casting. If this demon had magical ability on her own plane, they were of no use to her on Tékumel.

Nyára slowly raised the Eye of Incomparable Understanding and pressed the stud. "Please, calm down," she purred reassuringly. "I mean you no harm." 



The demon dropped her defensive posture slightly and starred at Nyára for a second then spoke. The words Nyára heard where in fluent Tsolyáni. "You do speak my language! Or is this some manner of spell? Who are you? Where am I? What is this place? Where are my companions...?" The demon paused again as her gray, almond-shaped eyes looked up and down the human's body. "And... errrr... why are you naked?"

Nyára smiled...


Welcome to the OSR!


Humanspace Empires Playtest Pick-Up at GaryCon!

INCOMING MESSAGE FROM HUMANSPACE HIGH COMMAND ANSIBLE FREQUENCY 3.45X10^23:

A Humanspace Empires playtet is landing at GaryCon!

Humanspace Empires is a pulp science fiction game set in the space opera "pre-history" of Prof. M.A.R. Barker's classic fantasy world of Tekumel. Thousands of years before there was ever an Empire of the Petal Throne, the Humanspace Alliance and their alien allies ruled the cosmos, explored strange worlds, and battled weird alien menaces from beyond space and time.

Drawing from the science fantasy traditions of the 1930s and 1940s--when a young Phillip Barker was first conceiving of Tekumel--and using on a rules engine that implements the best aspects of the original fantasy role playing system and Empire of the Petal Throne, Humanspace Empires rockets players into the far future in a galaxy of danger and excitement! 

Since this pick-up playtest is being done on the fly (the current rules draft was just finished a couple of days ago), I'm going over the event schedule trying to figure out the best time/s to play. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

In the meantime, for more info on Humanspace Empires, log onto the creator's blog at http://ixians.blogspot.com/ . Also, you can download the current playtest draft here.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

First Video! AD&D at Madison.

My first video for the No School/Old School YouTube channel! I took some footage of an AD&D game run yesterday at Madison (Wisconsin) Traditional Gaming's monthly meeting. I admit it's a little rough; I'm still getting the hang of shooting with the Flip camera. I used Microsoft Movie Maker to add the title and captions, but I just got a Mac and I'm tempted to give iMovie a shot.


Please comment below.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Going to Gary Con III

Gary Con III, obviously named after the late E. Gary Gygax, will be held at The Lodge at Geneva Ridge, Lake Geneva, WI March 25-27. I had a chance to spend at Saturday afternoon at last year's festivities and I was greatly impressed. It was fantastic to see so many fans of classic RPGs gathered together in the "home town" of fantasy role-playing running all the great games. I was even able to get in on a game of Buck Rogers XXVc with Flint Dille!

Well, this year I've decided to spend all three days at the con. While it's only a hour drive from Muskego, I don't know if I want to burn the gas going back and forth each. I'm yet to make hotel reservations, but since The Lodge is under renovations, getting a hold of someone there is difficult. (Any help in that department would be greatly appreciated.) The event schedule is also available here (.XLS). and like last year, it looks like there is plenty for the old school gamer to do and I might have something special in store if the stars are right. There is only one thing that bothers me.

Isn't there ANYONE who runs Empire of the Petal Throne anymore? (Besides me and Victor Raymond, of course.)

Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

James Maliszewski over at Grognardia, must have a pile of old magazines and catalogs a MILE deep, because he came upon some pages in the 1983 Sears Christmas Catalog that brings a tear to this cynic's eye. 


Dungeons & Dragons (Metzner box), AD&D 1st Edition,  Star Frontiers, Traveller, Star Fleet Battles, and the FASA Star Trek RPG all available from a mainstream retailer! It too beautiful for words. What happened to those halcyon days when gaming seemed like a wholesome, innocent thing? What happened?!?!


Oh yeah... That.

The School Master is on YouTube

I've created a sister YouTube channel to upload related gaming/OSR video content like game sessions, reviews, ruminations on the hobby, orgies at the Temple of Dlamélish and anything else that happens to tickle my fickle fancy. There isn't anything there right now, but that will change as I give the Flip Camera I bought a year ago its long-overdue workout. (Especially at Gary Con III.) So, be sure to subscribe.
 Also, does anyone have any recommendations for a quality web cam? I've got a cheap LogiTech that takes crappy video and I'd like to get my hands on something a little better. Please e-mail or post responses in the comments section.