Sunday, November 10, 2013

More miniatures!

Last year, I got in on the Reaper Bones Kickstarter and I've finally been able to get started painting the ton of figures I received. Here are some of the ones I've finished.

Succubus (She can come and drain my soul any adventure.) 
Finally finished that Griffin from the last post.
Marlith (Sadly, painting nipples on minis are the only
experience I've had with breasts lately.) 
Yes, I also got in the Bones II Kickstarter as well. I even chipped in a bit more to some of those sweet-looking Numenera creatures. Yes, soon I will have even more miniatures than I will ever know what to do with!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Some mini pics...

I was in the process of tidying my shit-hole of a room and I snapped a few pics of some miniatures as I put them away:

Legion of Sérqu from The Tékumel Project

Bones Griffin from Reaper. (A work in progress.)

Wastland Mutants (cough..Tharks...cough) from
Bronze Age Miniatures.

15mm Saber Gunship and Dropship from
Rebel Miniatures.

Qól Archers from The Tékumel Project

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I'm Back In The Saddle Again...Sort Of.


Hey all! Sorry for the long silence, life has be pretty hectic the last few months: work, laptop dying, trying out new anti-depression meds, calking the bathroom floor, learning Outer Mongolian, etc.

I've got an old laptop working for the time being. I had to swap out the hard drive and re-install Windows to get it working. I'm still in the process of swatting bugs, but I'm back up and running with a portable computer. However, it also means that I a lot of my Mu material is on the old hard drive, so I had to put the old drive in an enclosure and hunt for the various, partially-written files I written since April. If anything it allows me to revise somethings and put together something a little more usable. For what... I'm not yet certain.

We're nearing the time when GaryCon registration is upon us, and I'm a little concerned if I'm going to make it next year. In April we got the news that my beneficent and altruistic employer will be closing the call center where I work to move down to sunny, Republican, Florida where the taxes are lower and they can pay their wage slaves employees less than shit. (Isn't the free market grand?) Since I have neither t he means nor the inclination to move, I'm going to be out of a job unless I find something by November 1. The illustrious job creators must be truly busy since all of my efforts to secure a new position in the months since the layoff announcement have be met with utter silence. Since the resort doesn't accept bits of lint and string as legal tender, my annual pilgrimage to OSR-Mecca is in danger of being trampled to death before it starts.

Well, we'll see what happens. If anything unemployment will give me a chance to write, even if it's only to pen my suicide note.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ave Caesar! Weird Wars: Rome Kickstarter is underway.

Sound the trumpets! Send messengers to the four corners of the Imperium! The Kickstarter for Weird Wars: Rome is underway!


As can be expected from Pinnacle, they doubled their goal in less than 24 hours. Digital add-ons will be awarded to backers as they are reached, and since the book is more-or-less done, the PDF will be available as soon as the campaign is over with the print release scheduled to drop around Saturnalia... I mean, Christmas.

This actually comes at an opportune time as I have recently read some of Richard Tierney's Simon Magus stories and I'm on a bit of a historical horror kick right now. While it will most likely be set in the Weird Wars universe, I'm pretty sure that the rules can easily be ported out to work with Realms of Cthulhu. I've got a couple of contubernia of plastic legionaries from Warlord that I'm painting up now that should do quite nicely for this.

Tis a prize that's more than worth a few sestertii.

(This is turning into the all Savage Worlds crowdsourcing blog, isn't it? Well, that should be changing soon enough.)

Monday, July 29, 2013

New Kickstater: Ronin: Chrome & Shadow

Yeah, I'm back again. So much to talk about, so little time.

Anyway, I just thought I bring up a new product looking for Savages to back it. Ronin: Chrome & Shadow is a new savage setting from Glove & Goggle Labs that bills itself as a "post-apocalyptic cyberpunk setting for Savage Worlds. Massive metroplexes, syndicates and megacorps in an irradiated wasteland..." Here, I'll let the setting's creator, James Barbery, make his pitch:


Currently, all of the pledge levels are only offering a .PDF of the game rather than a physical copy. James writes: "This is, unfortunately, intentional. A print edition is planned, but it will be included as an add-on because the book may need to be offered at or near my cost in order to be priced fairly to you. That means that I need to make sure that the project will be out of the red (which happens the second I hit goal) before I make any promises."

However, if you want a preview at what Ronin has to offer, as well as a glimpse of the setting, monsters, and character examples, you can download this free sneak peek .PDF.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Another Homemade GM Screen Idea.

A couple years back, Tim Snider over at The Savage Afterworld came up with his own handy-dandy homemade GM screen that he built with a couple of three-ring binders, page protector sleeves, and duct tape. While snooping around at Google+, I came upon this YouTube video that's along similar, albeit simpler lines.


Hmmmm... Interesting. I might go one step further and hot-glue the binders together for a more lasting bond and to save on binder clips. One problem I considered is that a lot of tricksey publishers are now coming out with GM Screens that are printed in landscape rather than traditional portrait formats. While they do make landscape-style binders, they're much more expensive and harder to find than the standard binders you find at the office supply aisle of your local big box store.

The best workaround that I can think of is before printing your GM screen sheets, reduce them to about 80-75% then trim off the excess. They might not look as pretty and the print will be a touch smaller, but they should fit.

Anyway, I'll make one of my own and let you know what I think.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Goodbye Lappy



My Baby. 2009 to 2013 Requiescat in pace
Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to inform you that my Presario CQ60 laptop, despite all of my best repair efforts, died at approximately 11:30 PM CST this evening. This machine helped me create many, many blog posts, slog though Java and ASP.Net, entertained me when I was down, and connected me to the world. It's hard drive will live on as soon as I find an enclosure (most of my Mu files are on that drive). Donations to the next of kin can be make out to the Help Mark Buy a New Laptop Fund.

And now, a moment of silence for the deceased.


On behalf of a grateful nerd, I thank you.

Friday, May 10, 2013

And the winner is...

MU!!! Despite all the mispellings and grammar errors, my Lovecraftian weird fantasy setting took first place in the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Blogfest! I realize this is technically old news--prehistoric in the the fast-paced world of the inter-tubes--but thanks to my rotten work schedule, but I only found out last night when I stumbled on Erik Tanner's e-mail notifying me that I'd won.

Accepting the award for Mr. Siefert is... OH MY GOD! 
I'd like to thank all the little people who made this possible: I'd like to thank Matt Finch for creating S&W in the first place; Erik Tanner, Christopher Helton, and the folks at Frog God Games who organized the event; and my long-neglected game group who I haven't been able to play with in months. I'd also like to thank my cats, Fred and Victor, as well as my brittany spaniel, Duke; my anime body pillow, Kyoko; Arthur Compton, the inventor of the florescent lamp; Ms. Gertude Torgelson of Minon, Wi; and my personal lord and savior, Ksárul, Prince of Blue Room, Keeper of Secrets.



There is going to be more Mu coming soon. Like one of the Insects of Shaggai, the idea has crawled into my brain and whispers blasphemous thoughts into mind. (Either that, or I really need to change out my meds.) Right now I'm revising and expanding on my original post, as well as working up a Savage Worlds/Realms of Cthulhu version. There has been some talk about whispers about re-printing my notes in Knockspell, and I'm seriously tempted to look into publishing it if I can get it fleshed out enough.

Stay tuned...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Trying a new camera.

As I promised I would back during Gary Con, I recently got a new Nikon CoolPix L24 digital camera though a rewards program at work to replace my clunky old Fuji FinePix 3600 that I got over a decade ago. Since I use it to photograph my miniatures, I thought I'd fire it up, switch on the macro mode, and snap a few test pictures:


I dare say that it's a little too good. The detail is great, but it seems to bring out some the the flaws in my paintwork. 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Familiar Fantasy Races for Swords & Wizardry

While I thought it was an abomination in the eyes of man and God (and I’m an atheist), the 4th Edition of The World’s Most Popular Fantasy Role-Playing Game did have the forethought to expand the racial options for characters. The players handbook includes a couple of races (names changed to keep WotC's lawyers off my rear) that I think deserve addition to the Swords & Wizardry repertoire:

Chaos-Born 


Pat Pulling would be having a conniption fit over this
image, if she were still alive!
Chaos-Born are humanoid beings whose bloodline has been influenced by either direct diabolical parentage or chaotic forces. This influence manifests physically in various degrees as horns, cloven feet, tails, sharp teeth, and ruddy skin tones and other demonic features. While not inherently evil, Chaos-Born are shunned and mistrusted by civilized people as “tainted” by darkness and forced into living in the shadows of society as cut-purses or cutthroats. They tend to be moody, quick tempered and have a resistance to fire-based attacks. Their chaotic nature also tends to make them apt sorcerers, drawing them into the very dark world that spawned them.

Chaos-Born have Darkvision up to 60 feet and receive a +4 saving throw bonus against fire-based attacks. Chaos-Born characters may be Fighters up to 8th Level (Level 9 if they have a Strength of 17 or or Level 10 at 18), Magic-Users up to 14 level (Level 15 if they have an Intelligence of 16 or Level 14 at 18) , and Thieves and Assassins at no limits. They may multi-class as Fighters/Magic-Users, Thief/Magic-Users, Assassin/Magic-Users. If multi-classing, they are limited up to Level 4 for Fighters (Level 5 if they have a Strength of 17, Level 6 if Strength 18), Level 6 if Assassin or Thieves (Level 5 at Dexterity 17, Level 6 at Dexterity 18), and up to Level 10 for Magic-Users (Level 11 at Intelligence 17, Level 12 at Intelligence 18).

Dragonkin

Question: Why would a female member of
a reptilian race have mammary glands?

Driven by the fierce sense of honor, these reptilian humanoids can trace their ancestry to the ancient dragons of yore. They tend to be larger and stronger than humans with scaly skin, along with horns and frills protruding from the backs of their lizard-like heads. Like their draconian cousins, they have the the ability to breathe streams of fire, acid, poisonous gas, and electricity at their opponents. Dragonkin are proud and are noble almost noble to a fault, never breaking a oath once given. The are keen warriors and their devotion to Law make them devoted to whatever gods they worship.

 Dragonkin PCs chose what type of breath attack they use during character creation (i.e. Fire, Acid, Cold, Gas, Lighting) and once chosen it can never change. They may use their breath attack up 3 times a day which deals 1d6 plus 1d6 damage per 3 HD for a range of 10 feet plus another 5 feet per hit dice. (I was inspired by a Pathfinder interpretation found here.) They can be either Fighters or Clerics with no maximum. They may multi-class as Fighter/Clerics, but only up to a Level 8 Fighter (Level 9 if Strength 17, Level 10 if Strength 18) and a Level 8 Cleric (Level 9 if Wisdom 17, Level 10 if Wisdom 18). 

It should be noted that this my first attempt at creating "race as classes," it's actually one the things I dislike about some OSR games. So if the level caps I've got here seem inappropriate, please let me know. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Because one day is not enough...


One of the real problems with working in customer service call center is that the hours usually suck. They don't allow me to lead anything approaching a normal life. I had to bust my rear end just to get most of my Mu post ready in time, and I'm still adding to and editing it. There were a few other things I wanted to post and get down before this glorious day is done, but the job got in the way as usual and with under an hour left, that isn't going to happen.

Therefore, since Thursday and Friday count as my "weekend," this blog is going to extend Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day for the next couple of days. Enjoy!

Mu: Notes For A Lovecraftian Fantasy Campaign Setting For Swords & Wizardry


 There was mention of a kingdom or province called K'naa in a very ancient land where the first human people had found monstrous ruins left by those who had dwelt there before - vague waves of unknown entities which had filtered down from the stars and lived out their aeons on a forgotten, nascent world. K'naa was a sacred place, since from its midst the bleak basalt cliffs of Mount Yaddith-Gho soared starkly into the sky, topped by a gigantic fortress of Cyclopean stone, infinitely older than mankind and built by the alien spawn of the dark planet Yuggoth, which had colonised the earth before the birth of terrestrial life. 
-“Out of the Aeons”—H.P. Lovecraft and Hazel Helad. 

Introduction:


Tens-of-thousands of years before the rise of the Mesopotamia or the Kingdoms of Egypt, even before fabled Atlantis, there was a realm of great wonders and eldritch terrors. Modern theosophists and occultists speak of another ancient lost continent in the Pacific, where mysterious gods from beyond time and space were worshiped with blasphemous rites. A land where mighty human kingdoms rose and fell among the ancient cyclopean ruins built by the spawn of Great Cthulhu and other alien horrors and where the monstrous cult that worships the most hideous of them all grows in power with the passage of time.

You are an adventurer, a sellsword, a cut-throat for hire, a scholar of secrets of the Great Old Ones, or one of the worshipers of the remaining gods allied with humanity. You will wander steaming jungles teaming with deadly beasts, revel in cities filled with dark intrigue, and explore dark and forbidden places of in search of wealth and glory. If death does not find you first, then the madness that will come with understanding the true nature of humanity and its place in this cosmos surely will!

 Welcome to the lost continent of Mu.


Mu is a horror/fantasy setting for Swords and Wizardry and other OSR fantasy games set in the universe of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. While most of Lovecraft’s stories take place in or around the era he lived, mention is often made of lost prehistoric civilizations where worship of his terrifying Great Old Ones and Outer Gods was common place. “Out of the Aeons,” quoted above, first made brief mention of the lost world of Mu where the cult of Ghatanothoa, the monster of Mount Yaddith-Gho, reigned supreme. Decades after Lovecraft’s death, Lin Carter expanded the Mu storyline with his Xothic Legend Cycle, but most of these stories took place in the modern era; only two stories, “The Red Offering” and “The Thing in the Pit,” actually took place in ancient Mu.

Characters/Classes:


Mu is decidedly a human setting. The traditional fantasy races like elves and dwarves simply do not exist as either player characters or NPCs. PCs may be Fighters, Magic-Users, Clerics, Thieves, or Assassins; however, Paladins and Rangers are not a good thematic fit to this setting and should be excluded.  It’s also a god idea to abandon the concept of alignment. Adhering to high-minded concepts of “Law” and “Chaos” has no place in the bloodsoaked kingdoms of Mu.

This setting is very much in the Swords & Sorcery vein, so you may want to consider replacing the Magic-User and Cleric classes with the Magician class (along with the magic system) to represent sorcerers and priests from Akrasia’s Akratic Wizardry blog or from D101’s Swords & Wizardry variant “Crypts & Things.”

Being the descendants of the people who would go on to become the Indians, Mesoamericans, Polynesians, and other Pacific-rim peoples, native-born Muvians have coppery skin and black hair and eyes. Foreign adventurers and slaves from other lands across the great ocean that surrounds Mu of all colors and types are not unheard of.

Magic:


For the time being, GMs may use most of the spells from the S&W corpus with no changes. Players may wish to modify or remove the monster and elemental summoning spells. Again, Akrasia’s rules (see above) are a better fit for the sanity-eating, magics practiced by the obscene sorcerers and loathsome priests of Mu.
Remember, this is not meant to be your usual “heroic” high-fantasy RPG setting. Magic in Mu tends to be the purview of the amoral, insane, or utterly depraved. Also  "Realms of Crawling Chaos" from Goblinoid Games adds many new and genre specific spells that you may want to consider adding.

Monsters:

Here’s where things get a little problematic for the time being. Like non-human player character races, the standard S&W bestiary of orcs, trolls, and dragons are sort of inappropriate in a setting filled with inter-dimensional abominations. However, while at this time there are no “official” S&W rules for Cthulhoid monsters, you can find appropriate stats in "Realms of Crawling Chaos" from Goblinoid Games, "Carcosa" from Lamentations of the Flame Princess, or "Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea" from North Wind Adventures. For the creation of new creatures, Jim Raggi's "Random Esoteric Creature Generator" is an invaluable resource for the GM who needs a quick Saturday Night Special monster to throw at your players.

Other Recommend Setting Rules:

Akrasia's Sword and Sorcery House Rules for S&W, which are restated in "Crypts & Things" from D101, add a number of rules that make playing in Mu a richer role-playing experience. The rules from Aktatic Wizardry I'd particularly recommend four your Mu campaigns include:

  • Sanity: It just would not be a Lovecraftian role-playing game without the chance of your character's becoming gibbering madmen.
  • Saving Throw Task System and Background Skills: While  task systems and skills are usually viewed withing the OSR as heretical mechanics that complicate the simplicity of the rules, I think task systems keep the GM honest (and you should never trust the GM) and frees the players from the tyranny of GM fiat. At the same time, background skills give your character a little more flavor than just "Fighter" or "Thief," etc..
  • Hit Points and Constitution: Your PCs are going to need these rules, especially when tentacles come slithering at them.

Campaign Setting:

History:

Hundreds of millions of years ago, long after the Elder Things first seeped down from space to colonize the primordial Earth, the landmass that would be known as Mu arose from the seething oceans. The Elder Things, who at this point were beginning to leave their original cities in the deep ocean for the land, soon established settlements upon Mu and the continent that would eventually be known today as Antarctica. However, the Elder Things’ dominion over the Earth would soon be challenged by a force beyond all reckoning.

Great Cthulhu, high priest of the Great Old Ones, and his spawn swept down from stars and laid claim upon the Elder Thing’s territories. A series of devastating wars erupted between the Elder Things and Cthulhu until a bitter truce was established that allowed the Elder Things to keep their colonies in ancient Antarctica, while the Great Old One ruled Mu from his mighty city of R’leyh. For many thousands of years, an uneasy peace settled over Earth until the fateful day when R’leyh would mysteriously sink beneath the waves taking Cthulhu and his spawn with him. With the star-spawn gone, the Elder Things quickly reestablished their presence upon Mu.

Even after the passing of Cthulhu, the Elder Things would eventually have to compete with other monstrosities who also lay claim to Mu. The Great Race of Yith, whose disembodied minds would find sanctuary within prehistoric cone-shaped beings, soon were fighting for territory and resources with the Elder Things as well as against the polypoid race that preyed upon them. At about the same time, the Fungi from Yuggoth arrived from their fastnesses in the Kuiper Belt to start mining operations in Mu’s mountainous regions. It was the Mi-go who brought the dreaded Great Old One Ghatanothoa to Earth. Whether they did so to venerate it or to imprison it, no one can be sure. Then, the serpent men rose to sentience and built their own cites and temples dedicated to Yig in Mu’s lush jungles. Over the next several million years, conflict between one or several of these races would follow truce followed again by yet more conflict. However, as with all things, it did not last forever.

The empires of serpent men in Mu and Atlantis collapsed during the Triassic period and their remnants were driven to the deepest jungles or underground. After the end of Mesozoic Era, Earth’s climate began to become cooler, and the glaciers of the Ice Ages started to creep down from the Earth’s poles. The Elder Things, weakened by internal struggles with their own slave race, the loathsome shoggoths, succumb as the ice engulfed Antarctica. The Mi-go either abandoned their mountainous colony or mysteriously died out completely. The Yithians, knowing that they would soon be overrun by the vengeful polyp race they had imprisoned long ago, abandoned their cone-shaped forms for the safety of Earth’s distant future. For untold eons, the continent of Mu was uninhabited. The cities and shrines of the aliens who has once dwelt there were left to time and and elements. Then, a new race arrived to claim Mu as their own: Humans.

The first men of Mu were but nomads who migrated from Asia. Over the next several thousand years, as humanity penetrated into the continent’s interior, outposts became villages, villages became cities, and cities became kingdoms. Along the way, they came upon the ruins of those who had ruled Mu before. The psychically sensitive among, through dreams and visions, learned of the Old Ones, and worshiped them as gods, erecting temples to their glory and making what sacrifices they believed would be fit; Great Cthulhu, who still sleeps beneath the waves of the southern sea; Yig, lord of all serpents; the twin deities of Nub and Yug; the Mighty Mother, Shub Niggurath, bringer of life and pleasure; and many, many others. Then, whether it was by fate or by the perverse whim of some otherworldly intelligence, one group of pilgrims ascended the heights of Mount Yaddith-Gho to the ruins of the Mi-Go’s colony where they discovered the horror that is Ghatanothoa. Those who survived the encounter with that monstrosity would go on to start his equally monstrous cult.

Geography:

In “Out of the Aeons, ” Lovecraft and Heald mention the kingdom or province of K’Naa, where the Mount Yaddith-Gho exists and cult of Ghatanothoa holds sway over K’Naa’s puppet king. No other regions are named in this story, but the authors mentioned that “and nations rose and decayed” with only K’Naa remaining to the bitter end, implying that throughout the millennia, the political map of Mu was as fluid as any continents. In Lin Carter’s Xothic Legend Cycle stories “The Red Offering” and “The Thing in the Pit” other locations in Mu are mentioned, but for the sake of not treading on the late Mr. Carter’s copyrights, our campaign setting Mu takes place sometime in between the high priest T’yog’s attempt to subdue the monster of the Monster of the Mount and the final calamity that wiped Mu from the globe. We’ll assume that the kingdoms mentioned in Carter’s tales existed only before the fall of Mu. (Lovecraft was notably generous with other writers using and expanding upon his Mythos. I don’t know if the same holds true with whomever holds the rights to Mr. Carter’s works. Since I’m only a poor, underpaid, call center representative, we’ll not tempt the demonic ire of any IP lawyers out there by sticking to what’s in the “public domain.” ) This gives GMs more or less a clean slate from which to build their own worlds with their own kingdoms and pocket empires, all under the tightening grip of Mighty Ghatanothoa's cult.

In other words, I don't yet have a campaign map ready, and maybe it might not be a good idea to attempt to. In the meantime, use the limitless boundaries of your imagination and invent your own Muvian kingdoms.

Climate:

The majority of Mu lies along the equator and within the tropics, making for a rather hot climate. Generally, the regions to the west of the Great Central Mountains are covered in dense, sweltering rain forests. Over the mountains, which blocks the moist tropical air, the eastern provenances are occupied by thousands of miles of broiling deserts. The only regions that reach anything approaching “temperate” status are the southern coast of Mu as well as the high foothills surrounding the mountains.

Culture:

Mu is harsh land, ruled by absolutism, the sword, and dark powers beyond sane mankind's comprehension. As with most ancient societies, the vast majority of people will live a lifetime of poverty with no hope for upward social mobility. Slavery is also a fact of life on Mu, where individuals can find themselves indentured for unpaid debts, as punishment for minor crimes, or taken from other lands by raiding parties. There is little in the way of a "middle class" on Mu. There are rare examples of well-top-do farmers and merchants who enjoy a relatively better life than their peasant neighbors, but the truth is that most of the wealth is concentrated in the ruling elite: the hereditary nobility and the Temples.

In Mu, modern concepts of justice do not apply. There are no courts or juries here and guilt or innosence is usually dealt out by sadistic whim of the local authorities. Most petty criminals face the flogging post, torture, mutilation, or even being sentenced to a life of slavery. More serious crimes have but one sentence: death. As with all societies, class differences greatly effect how a wrong doer is dealt with. If a noblemen's son rapes the daughter of one of his peasants, no crime is considered to have happened. If a peasent rapes (or is even suspected of raping) a noblemen's daughter, he will quickly find himself being dragged to the imapler's stake.

Due to the sweltering climate, there are few if any nudity taboos anywhere in the principalities of Mu. In the jungle lands, the poorest peasant farmers get through their day-to-day lives wearing little more than a homespun loincloth. More prosperous individuals can afford better material with jewelry made of wooden beads of semi-precious stones. Meanwhile the nobility wear silken skirts or sarongs, bracelets and anklets made of precious metals, elaborate headdresses, and paint their skin with elaborate patterns with a plant dyes similar to henna. Denizens of cooler climates tend to wear considerably more—leather tunics, pantaloons, or skirts—but for practicality sake and not out of any sense of “modesty.”

The kingdoms of Mu are largely patriarchal with few opportunities for women. Most young girls, regardless of status, find themselves betrothed to their future husbands as soon as it is certain that they will live to see adolescence. A wife is considered the husband’s property and after their marriage rituals are concluded  women face a life of household duty and childbearing without any hope of independence. In some Muvian kingdoms, it is common practice to pass widows onto male relatives as an inheritance. There are exceptions: Women born into wealth and power can often buy their own equality and find themselves in places of government or the temples. Also, a unmarried woman can voluntarily disown herself from her family dissolving all ties once and for all. Once the decision is made, there is no going back, and a woman liberated thus is considered dead to her kin and must now fend for themselves. Those who don’t die from starvation or sell themselves into slavery make seek whatever profession they are able to perform: priestess, merchants, scholars, even warriors.

Muvian sexuality is also reflects their penchant for male chauvinism and privilege. A married woman is expected to faithful to their husband and no one else. Meanwhile, no such expectations are placed upon the male, who may  take as many lovers as he wishes. A female adulteress usually faces dire consequences if her infidelity is ever discovered.  Independent woman enjoy that same freedom, but lose it if they ever choose to take a husband. (Needless to say, women who choose the path of independence tend to stay that way, allowing them to love whom they choose.) Other than that, there are few sexual taboos. Most Muvian adolescents experiment with sex before their marriages are made final. As long as there are no unexpected pregnancies to spoil a betrothal, there is no expectation that either bride or groom be virgins on their wedding day. Herbal contraceptives for both men and women, as well as abortifacients, do exist, but they are expensive. Homosexuality and bisexuality are tolerated, but the same standards apply; a man may have a male paramour, but a married women may not take a female lover anymore than she could enjoy another male.
.
Religion:

Perhaps the most important aspect of Muvian society is the role that religion plays. In most Cthulhu Mythos fiction set in modern times, the knowledge of the Great Old Ones and the Outer Gods are largely unknown and their worship is conducted in secret by degenerate cults and insane dabblers in sorcery. However, in the time of Mu, these beings are commonly known and worshiped openly, mostly out of fear of that being's wrath, but sometimes with sincere (if misguided) reverence. Here are a few notable examples: 

Ghanatothoa:

Of all the religions practiced upon Mu, the Temple of Ghanatothoa is by far the most powerful, devious, and cruel. The primary reason is that unlike the other gods who either slumber unseen in the hidden places of the world or dwell beyond our universe of space and time, Ghanatothoa is real and present fact. Any one brave (or insane) enough many journey up the slopes of Mount Yaddith-Gho to the Great Old One’s citadel and see it for themselves. Granted, they will never return, but they can see it.

Initially, the Cult sincerely believed that their rituals and sacrifices were all that kept the Monster of the Mount at bay, but over the centuries the power and wealth that such fear could create was too irresistible to ignore. Even the mightiest king can be swayed something as a overt mob of frightened peasants fearing that their ruler’s disobedience to the Cult’s wishes will lose Ghanathothoa upon their lands, to something as subtle as the vague suggestion that their beloved son or daughter may find themselves one of the fortunate few selected to die upon the temples flaming altars unless certain demands aren't met.

They are everywhere. After what would commonly be known as “T’yog’s Folly,” the temple’s hold over the rulers of Mu became nigh-absolute. There is nary one royal adviser or chamberlain in any kingdom of province who does not wear the vestments of a priest of Ghanatothoa. Custom grants their priesthood the power of life and death over any subject, excluding the king or a brother priest. Every major city has one holy place set aside for them. The temple employs spies to keep a watchful eye upon their enemies, publicly executes those who need to be made a public example of, and hires assassins to silence those who need to be killed quietly.

The priesthood of Ghanatothoa guards their power jealously, and for good reason. Even the priests of the lowest rungs of the temple hierarchy enjoy “…a marble house, a chest of gold, two hundred slaves, and an hundred concubines…” Having nearly exclusive access to the Mi-go ruins on and around their holy mountain, it is whispered that the temple has possession of many technological and magical devices left behind by the Fungi from Yuggoth. Scholars and sorcerers from all corners of Mu often petition the temple to examine any such alien wonders. They are almost always turned down.

Shub Niggurath:


Before the dominion of the Ghanatothoa’s sect engulfed Mu, the most powerful and influential of the continent’s religions was the worship of Shub Niggurath, the Mighty Mother, Black Goat of the Woods with Thousand Young. Revered by many, this primal goddess personifies the forces of nature, fertility, birth and sexual ecstasy. In the farms and villages, peasants venerate her and make offerings at her shrines for plentiful crops and healthy offspring. Within the great copper gated temples found in most major cities, sacred courtesans, anointed to take on the role of the goddess herself, are willing to bestow the gifts of Shub Niggurath to those with the coin. Her holiest days are the Equinoxes, were before and after the winter rainy season, the cyclic beginning and ending of life are celebrated with public feasts, orgies, and sacrifices.

As the followers of the Monster of the Mount started to grow in strength, they began to directly opposition with the Temple of Shub Niggurath. After decades of conflict, the High Priest T’Yog devised a plan he hoped would weaken the cult of Ghanatothoa low once and for all. Constructing a talisman his research showed would render him immune to the Great Old One’s petrifying powers, T’Yog climbed the slopes of Mount Yaddith-Gho hoping that with the aid of his Goddess, the alien horror would be laid low at last. He never returned. Humiliated by T’Yog’s failure, the Temple of Shub Niggurath lost most of their political favor as fear of the Ghanatothoa’s power swayed the kings and princes of Mu to his temple. Even though the faithful still come, the temple is diminished shadow of its former decadent glory but has been rendered impotent as the despotic grip of the Temple of Ghanatothoa tightens around it.

Cthulhu:


Millions of years  before humanity ever set foot upon Mu, Great Cthulhu and his spawn ruled the continent until whatever unknown calamity sent their city of R'Lyeh under the sea. Time and the elements have destroyed most remnents of Cthulhu's reign, but his memory is kept alive by his cult and runs of his civilization can be found in dark and dangerous places. Even though he lies in a death-like sleep somewhere on the ocean floor, Cthulhu communicates his desires to the fleshy minds of men though dreams.

Cthulhu worship can be just as bloody and savage as the worship of the Monster of the Mount, but as patron god of the oceans, he most popular among the sailors and fisher-folk of the continent, especially along the southern coast. Legend has it that the undersea ruins R’lyeh itself is somewhere beneath those waters. Due to the incursion of  the Temple of Ghanatothoa into the cities, most Cthulhu's worship is found in smaller and isolated seaside villages or port towns. Whether it is from inbreeding or some other hereditary disorder, the most fervent worshipers of Lord Cthulhu are easy to spot: they have large, watery eyes that never seem to blink, scabby peeling skins that worsens with age, narrow heads and inordinately large hands and feet. This look is most common among the middle circles of  Cthulhu's priesthood. Outsiders never get to see the high or elder priests at all.

S&W Appreciation Day is HERE!

Huzah! At last the happy day has finally arrived! My epic contribution will be up later today. In the meantime enjoy the following deals and steals:

Here's one from Frog God Games...

Meanwhile shop.d20pfsrd.com is also offering 25% at their online store. Just use the coupon code SWAD252013 at checkout.

Both deals are for TODAY ONLY! So get your S&W fix into right away!

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Post-Easter Message...

I would have gotten this out yesterday, but I don't get to have holidays off.  I have to put in an eight-hour day while the rest America get's to stuff their collective faces with ham and Marshmallow Peeps. However, in the spirit of this very sacred and spiritual day, I leave you with this Easter message:



Now, to get to Walgreens and buy up all the best of the discount candy before all I'm left with is the no-name brand crap!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Joining Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day

Mark your calendars! Erick Tenker and Christopher Helton have dubbed April 17, 2013 “Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day” and I've decided to get this blog in on the fun. I work that day, but I'll see if I can get off or trade a day to see if I can get off that day so my rotten job does't get in the way of participating. 

The next question is, what should I post about. I've been working on a few thoughts about a new Lovecraftian campaign setting I've been musing over of late. I've also been thinking of running S&W over Google Hangout and using Roll20 as a virtual tabletop. Perhaps an after-action report on that.

I've got a few weeks, and a copy of the new "Complete Rules" from Frog God Games, to plan something out.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Copyediting Rule No. 1: Get Someone Else To Proofread!

Believe it or not, I actually have a degree in Journalism, so it's infuriating for me to re-read an article I just posted and find typos, spelling, and grammar errors that even a second-grader wouldn't make. I don't know if it's undiagnosed ADHD (as if I don't have enough mental health issues to begin with) or just basic laziness, but I tend to forget to proofread my articles, then have to go back through the whole thing and repost again and again to weed out the errors--and even then it's not enough. In the end, it makes me look like a... like a... Well...



Therefore, I apologize to my readers for the lousy quality of my work. You deserve better than me, but what can I say? MY BRAIN HURTS!!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Gary Con V: The Rest Of The Con

Things got REALLY hectic on Saturday, so blogging was out of the question. I'll try now to sum up the rest of the con here.

Friday:


My first, and only official game was a return to the game that got me into this crazy, mixed-up hobby: Star Frontiers! Due to some issues with the hotel's business suite (their computer didn't have Acrobat Reader at the time) the GM had some issues getting the game up and running, but he pulled through, thanks to the resourcefulness of some of the players. We were playing a party of UPF representatives sent on a diplomatic mission to participate in something the newly discovered aliens refer to as "The Game."  When we arrived we were visited by two shuttle pods that deposited several fighting robots. Hilarity ensued.
After the game I got to work finishing up my pick-up Savage Worlds/Realms of Cthulhu. I had made up announcement flyers and posted to the Gary Con forums and Facebook wall. I chose a pre-written adventure that I had on my Drivethrurpg.com account and quickly reinterpreted the Chaosium stats into Savage Worlds. After the business center got it's computer problems sorted out, I printed up maps and record sheets. I went the open gaming area in the restaurant and found the perfect spot: a shadowy corner booth. I laid out everything I would need and waited until 10 pm to roll around...

The perfect gaming spread. (Note what I've got playing on my iPad.)

...only one person showed up. We waited a little while longer but no one else came. I showed the fellow who to create a Savage World's PC and gave him a quick rundown of the mechanics. It turns out that Joe, for that was his name, was also a fan of the Ganesha Games series of skirmish wargames including Song of Blades Of Heroes, a very old school style fantasy game.

Saturday:



Here it was, Saturday! The day I've been waiting for all year. It was time to leave this reality and travel to the pocket universe that imprisons the world known as Tékumel!

The first game dealt with some of the more esoteric aspects of the Tékumel setting. Our group played a group of adventurers in the serve is an immortal wizard who dwells in the Jakállan underworld. Our mission was to retrieve a series of valuable items from various locations. I played a Livyáni sorcerer priestess who was trained in creating nexus points (I was the rest of the parties ride.). We first visited a spaceship outside of Tékumel's reality commanded by the dreaded Shunned Ones. After we acquired the mysterious black stones were cent to retrieved I open a nexus point to the city of scholars controlled by what I assume was an ancient super computer. We acquired a vial of the strange liquid our master demanded we returned with when... we ran out of time.

After that, we-myself, Victor Raymond, and several of his friends-went into Lake Geneva for a quick dinner. We tried the Sprecher's restaurant, but there was an hour wait. So we ate at the greasy spoon a block away where we discussed the problems with 3rd and 4th Editions.

Afterwards, we set up for the second EPT game of the night. We rolled up characters, and in an rare move, Victor allowed us to create a mixed alignment party. I created a not-so-skilled priest of Lord Chegárra. We descended into the Jakállan underworld to find fortune and glory. Our party ran into a wounded priest of Lord Belkhánu who claimed that he had run into a underworld beasts. Knowing a thing about the setting, I had my immediate suspicions about what the priest really was, but I was not going to spoil things by metagaming. After a run in with a party of serpentine Qól and the rat-like Kúrga (I nearly died once during that battle, but we had a Eye of Ineluctable Eye of Healing that saved my bacon.) we came upon a richly appointed temple dedicated to Lord Chiténg.

While we attempted to make off with the valuables. We were come upon by a pair of the dreaded Ssú. After an epic battle, we killed one of the foul aliens and made drove off the other. Victor rolled up the random treasure for the Ssú we slew and JACKPOT! He had five Eyes on him! That was more princely find that could set us up for some time. After the battle, we were asked to take a break while the GM talked to the PC who was protecting the "priest." When we got back, that player was gone and the priest's claim that our colleague left objecting to desecration of a temple.

Our efforts at looting the temple where fruitless. The player try to chip the deeply-set flame emeralds from a statute of Lord Chiténg had failed his Strength rolls. However, we decided that the Eyes were a good enough haul, so we tried to make our way out. That is, until a priest of that temple came upon us who, before he died by the hands of our tank, cast a spell that created a carpet of lava that slowly rolled it's way toward us and forced us into a dead end hall way. The character holding the Eyes, tried each one, hoping that one of them could cease the deadly magma flow creeping at us. One gave off a red flash, and the "priest" offered to show the user how to properly use it. The PC gave the Eye to him...
In a matter of a few combat rounds, he and 3 other players were frozen by the Excellent Ruby Eye, my PC had fallen in the lava. Only one player, a female friend of Victor's who was playing a Lord Hrü’ü-worshipping adventurer with assassin training, was left. Thinking quickly she tossed a flask of oil at the priest who caught in fire from the heat of the lava flow. As the priest was immolated, my suspicions were confirmed: he was really a Marashyalu Tsú uru, a shape-shifting creature that takes a pathetic form to work their way into a party so it can feed upon them when they are wounded or dying. The missing party member had tried to kill the priest while we were engaged with the Ssú.

Our lone surviving adventuress had quickly figured out how the Excellent Ruby Eye worked and unfroze the character with the eyes. While his back was turned to help with the others, she slit his throat and retrieved the Eyes, and was able to escape back to the surface with a small fortune in ancient techno-magical weapons.

Sunday:


My final game started at 10 am, so I got up bright and early to pack up and load up the card. After I got everything squared away, I sat down for a nice game of Traveller where the GM recognized my real name from several Traveller-forums. We were playing a party of complete strangers riding on a lunar crawler with many civilians on the moon of heavily balkanized planet. I played a grouchy female Aslan belter with a shotgun. Along the way to our spaceport destination we were set upon by troops for one of the systems' governments who planted a nuke on the vehicle and left a single man on to drive in into another power's colony. Yes, I got to use my character's shotgun.

After the game was over, I made sure that I had everything. I got into my car. I got home by 1:30 pm, unpacked my car, made myself a sandwich, and took a well-deserved nap.

And that's it! All in all, despite the noise issues and an unexpected bout of depression that hit me after the last EPT game, it was yet another awesome Gary Con. Of course, I made a trip through the dealer's room and I came out with quite a haul.

Treasures from beyond the spheres!
I picked up Castles & Crusades Castle Keepers Guide, now I've got all three of the "main" books in my collection. Noble Knight had a discounted copy of Realms of Cthulhu that I could not pass up, and is what inspired me to attempt my failed Savage Worlds game the Friday night. I also picked up Barrowmaze, a megadungeon designed for Labyrinth Lord and B/X. If I can ever get my schedule straightened out, I will definitely want to run this for my OSR group. Also, I found a vendor selling Lamentations of the Flame Princess products so I successfully nabbed a copy of  Zak S's Vornheim before they were out of print.  I was also able to snag used copies of Realms of Crawling Chaos and Jim Raggi's The Esoteric Random Creature Generator. 

In closing there are a few things I'd like to note for next year's Gary Con:
  • Get a dedicated digital camera: My iPhone camera is problematic. I need something that's universally compatible. 
  • Bring my own booze and a flask: I'm not much of a drinker. I only had about five drinks the entire weekend which is all the alcohol I've had in about 6 months. Still, it's nice to cut loose.  However, as great as the bar service is, 5 bucks for a rum and Coke is a bit much.
  • Don't forget sandwich bags, garbage bags, and plastic ware: These were hard to come by and I wasn't able to make my peanut butter and apricot preserves sandwiches without them.
  • Don't trust the hotel microwave: I tried to cook one of those instant mac-and-cheese cups to go with my tuna-on-wheat. After the prescribed 3 1/2 minutes, the water was barely warm and the macaroni was still hard. I hate see what it would do with popcorn.
  • Run my Cthulhu/Savage World game next year!



Friday, March 15, 2013

Gary Con V: The First Day

It was the dawn of a new age of classic role-playing, 20 years after the TSR-Wizards of the Coast War. The Gary Con Project was a dream given form. Its goal: to prevent the end of old school role playing by giving gamers a place to play their favorite games peacefully . It's a port of call--home away from home for wizards, dungeoneers, investigators  and travellers. Gamers of all genres wrapped in a posh resort-convention center, all alone on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It can be a dangerous place.. for your favorite player character... but it's our last, best hope for decent gaming.

This the story of the first day of this year's Gary Con convention.  The year is 2013. The name of the place is Gary Con 5.

(Yes, I've been waiting all year to post that.)

Being an old hat at conventions, the first day's routine is pretty standard: get up groggy-and-early; quickly shower, shave, and get dressed; then hustle down to the convention floor for your first game stopping along the way for an overpriced coffee and doughnut. (No, I didn't take the one's topped with bacon.) My first game was Curse of the Weaver Queen run by its author and TSR alumni, Tim Kask.  We we're using original White Box rules, so play was very pretty free-form. Players were given medium level pregens--I, an open atheist, ended playing a human cleric armed with a magical shillelagh--and we wandered about an arachnid-themed dungeon trying to discover the fate of several lost souls from a nearby village.

I won't spoil the module with details it, but for our group it ended in a TPK. Tim is a shrewd DM.

After that I took some time up at the bar to down another hard cider and wolf down a decent Ruben sandwich with fries, when I decided that I was going to run a Savage Worlds/Realms of Cthulhu pick-up for Friday night. I sorted through the various .PDFs on my iPad and found something that could be suitably modified from the original Chaosium rules to the new ones. I tinkered around with the character stats until it was time to go down for my next game.

Next Up: West End's Ghostbusters, another game from my youth. This time around we were actually playing the characters from the movie, and I picked Egon. To play Dr. Spengler convincingly, you have to have to keep up an almost dead-pan tone of voice and use as many ten-dollar, sciencey-sounding words as possible. We're set lose in a New York museum trying to find out why their prized T-Rex fossil is tearing up the place. The highlight of the adventure was when the team was succumbing to the depressing influence of a mesoamerican  god of suffering when the unaffected Egon came upon the idea of trying to cheer up his comrades before they killed themselves. My solution: imagine Harold Ramis trying to sing "Rainbow Connection."

After that, I tracked down Victor Raymond and some of his friends, many of whom I played Empire of the Petal Throne with last year, for a discussion of the of the various themes of race, gender, and culture that arise within gaming. Pretty heady stuff, especially when you're nursing another cider. Along the way, my room mate, Anthony Roberson, arrived took up residence in our room. I said my hellos then rejoined Victor and his colleagues in his room to continue our discussion over Coke-and-bourbon. Buzzed--but not "drunk"--I returned to my room to catch some rack time before the next's days shenanigans.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Gary Con: The Pre-Game Show.

Rather than waste my time and yours with long, rambling accounts of my trip and the night before the con, I'll give you a few brief observations:

Weather-wise, this year is a stark contrast to last. It was unseasonably warm and sunny the day before last year's festivities. This time around, while it was still clear, it's cold with temperatures expected to dip into the teens. I've revved up my room's heater to make sure everything was nice and toasty for my first night here.

After unpacking, I ended up at the lounge for a tall rum-and-coke and a rest. Some enterprising barkeep brought the Firefly DVD set to play on the most of the flat screen TV (they had one set on ESPN for the mundanes). Soon more and more people started to drift in, including the legends of the hobby, I was sitting no more than 10 feet from Margaret Weis and Jim Ward. After a quick bowl of the pipe weed out on the newly-landscaped patio with the rest of the tobacco fiends, I returned to the lounge for FREE FOOD!

When I had my file of pizza, chicken wings, and nachos (Oh! By the way, Angry Orchard hard cider rocks), I returned buzzed, relaxed and happy to my comfortably heated room to watch Rifftrax on the room's TV. Now, it is morning and I'm finished my coffee and doughnut and I'm waiting for my first game run by Tim Kask.

More news to come as it develops.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hulks & Horrors is Out!

Remember the ill-fated Hulks & Horrors Crowd Sourcing campaign from last year? Well, Bedroom Wall Press has just released a "Basic Black" edition on DriveThruRPG and is offering the .PDF rules free for the first week with the option for a PoD hard copy for $10.

Check it out, or else you'll make the hovering squid VERY angry.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Gary Con V: T-Minus One Week


One week from now I’ll be in beautiful Lake Geneva, WI for Gary Con, an annual glorious weekend of old gaming fun. This year I plan on being much more diligent in my day-to-day, on-the-scene blogging. Unlike last year, I’m going to have my laptop at the ready so I don’t have to try to blog using an iOS device.

My schedule of events is as follows:

Thursday

10 AM: Curse of the Weaver (OD&D)
Buried beneath the sands for generations, an ancient curse has re-awakened in the desert. Livestock and pets, babies and the infirm are missing. You are called upon to set forth and explore these depredations. Then a local seems to remember:" ...there is some sort of ungodly curse..." and a buried temple beneath the sand.
Run by Tim Kask. I’m going to have fun playing a game run by a TSR alumni.

6 PM: DGS Presents: Ghostbusters - Timmy the T-Rex
The Ghostbusters are back! After successfully busting the ghosts at Gen Con, they've returned to their beloved NYC for some routine hauntings. Things will be far from routine, however, when they boys in grey are called in to investigate a disturbance at the American Museum of Natural History. Just how does one bust a 40' long t-rex skeleton?
Run by Hans Cummings

Friday

Noon: Midday Star Frontiers - Another Crazy Job
So you've taken crazy jobs before... but you figure it takes a special kind of crazy to take this job. A new race has been discovered, and they've invited a team of UFP representatives to play in something they call, "The Game." You don't know if it's something like checkers, or a violent game that makes neutron-ball look like a pillow fight. But they're paying well. You just hope you and your teammates are up to the challenge.... Pre-generated characters provided.
Run by Ken Haylock. I'm looking forward to playing a session of the RPG that got me into the hobby.

Saturday

Saturday is going to be my day on glorious Tékumel with two games run by Victor Raymond.

2 PM: The Periplus of the Planes (Empire of the Petal Throne)
Nyélmu the Undying Wizard has set you upon a quest across the myriad planes to retrieve for him certain items necessary to his pleasures in the Garden of the Weeping Snows. Unfortunately, other forces are at work to stop you - Shunned Ones and Hokún possibly the least among them!
8 PM: The Jakállan Underworld
If you have never ventured across the River of Silence, or heard the sweet, high chiming of Ssú as they search for their victims, or faced the ghastly sight of ranks of undead defending a darkened shrine, this is your opportunity. Come venture beneath Jakálla, The City Half As Old As The World, the jewel of the Tsolyáni Imperium, the ancient capital of the Bednálljan Kings. Experience the World of Tékumel, created by Prof. M.A.R. Barker. Using classic Empire of the Petal Throne rules with pregenerated characters. (repeated session)

Sunday

10 AM: A Rock And A Hard Place (Mongoose Traveller)
Your downport liberty on a moon of the balkanized planet Alcost in the Far Frontiers sector has been going well enough, if you don't let the war scare news in the background bother you. But when the trouble does strike, it strikes close to you. Can you get yourselves and the children trapped with you to safety?
Run by John Appel.


When I’m not at these events, blogging, or taking a pipe out of by the fire pit (assuming they’ve brought the fire pit back this year), I’m be available to chat or pick-up games or whatever. Just look for this fat asshole:
A face only Shub Niggurath could love.
See you all there.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Help Ernie Gygax.

Terrible news today: Ernest Gary "Ernie" Gygax Jr. Lost his home in a fire early this morning. Fortunately, he, his roommate, and his dog are all unhurt, but he has last aloof his possessions. A Facebook page has already been setup to co-ordinate efforts to help Ernie pick up the pieces. If you can contribute anything at all, please do so.

Thanks.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

“Achtung! Cthulhu” Kickstarter Underway

Last year, new English RPG publisher, Modiphius, produced their first two their Achtung! Cthulhu series of World War II/Cthulhu Mythos stand-alone campaigns for Savage Worlds and Call of Cthulhu. As expected, the explosive combination of the two awesome genres made them instant hits. Now Modiphius is further fleshing out the Achtung! Cthulhu line with Investigator’s and Keeper’s Guide that expand upon the setting and they’ve got a Kickstarter going to help:


Now, the campaign is already funded, and the first stretch goal—full Savage Worlds support—has already been met. However, as with all these campaigns there are always more stretch goals to meet and there is plenty of time left.