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.