Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Post-Apocalyptic Horror: The Ice Cream Bunny

As my holiday treat to the OSR community, here is a new nightmare for your next Gamma World/Mutant Future campaign:

The children pictured here where NEVER seen again.
Ice Cream Bunny

No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 12
Attacks: 3 (bite, claw, claw)
Damage:  1d8/1d6/1d6
Save:  L5
Morale: n/a (It knows no fear!)
Hoard Class: XV
Mutations: Empathy (Fear. Always Fear), Teleport
We followed the children's trail to the forbidden ruins; the place that parents from all the nearby tribes warned their young ones to never go near. It was once supposed to have been some sort pleasure land for the Ancients before the Great Cataclysm, now it was a place of whispered horror where none ever returned.

The party first saw it come out from behind the a rusted-out metal shed--I swear by the Lords of Light that there was nothing there before! It looked like some misshapen Hoop or Hopper, but larger. It stood upright and walked like a humanoid rather than hopped. As it approached, I could sensed the thing exuded a dark, evil, inimical intelligence, but not a word it spoke. It only laughed... <sob> the gods! How it laughed! It was a laugh that chilled my soul and filled me with more terror than I had ever felt before. I can still hear it now...
 No one knows where these horrors come from or what they truly are: some insane mutation, a demon straight from the depth of Hell, an Elder God from a realm of madness and chaos beyond space and time? It is always found in the ruins of ancient theme parks. It seems to have a fondness for child flesh, a prey that is easily lured its doom by it's whimsical appearance. That is, until it's ready to feed.

The creature appears to be mute, save it's constant, spine-chilling, fear-inducing laughter. The creature generates pure paralyzing  knee-shacking, bowl-and-bladder-loosening terror. When it's prey is sufficiently petrified by fear, it lashes out with it's razor sharp teeth and claws. It is also reported to have teleportation abilities, appearing suddenly to attack. Some brave and fortunate warriors have reported slaying this beast and finding hordes of Ancient technology among the bones of childern in its lair. However; it is soon replaced by another or it returns from the dead. No one knows for sure!

Here is a segment of the only known video documentation of this monstrosity:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Children of the Night: Dhampirs

Vlad III. aka Vlad Tepes ("the Impaler"),
aka Vlad Dracula, aka Mr. Sunnyboy McMagicpants
Lately my thoughts have bent toward campaign settings and along with a Lovecraftian fantasy setting I've had in the works for a while, I've also been mulling over a historical horror setting. My working title is "Carpathian Empires" and it's set in the late-1500s early-1600s where Eastern Europe is under the vampiric thumb of a certain undead Wallachian prince we've all heard of and his blood-sucking nobles, while a prostrate Western Europe waits in terror for Vlad the Immortal's undying armies to march across and Danube.

That's right kiddies. I'm bringing back old school,  blood-sucking-fiends-from-beyond-the-grave for this setting. I'm taking a stand with every other horror fan who despises what vampires have become; no more undead goths or glittery, immortal, crypto-Mormons who spread abstinance-only sex-ed and anti-abortion propaganda. (Kiss my atheist ass, Ms. Meyers.)

Besides the standard-issue Homo sapiens, I'm considering other races to replace the usual, but inappropriate for this setting, metahumans. One of the races that's top on my list candidates are the Dhampir: the offspring of humans and vampires. Now, Pathfinder already have Dhampirs as one of their "Advanced" racial option and I used it as a good place to draw some inspiration.

My end result is the following, which is suitable for any of the more "Advanced" OSR games that have races and classes seperate:


STR +2, DEX +2 CON -2, CHA +2
  • Darkvision up to 60 feet.
  • Attacks by Dhampir on any undead creature counts as "magical" even when using mundane weapons.        
  • Dhampir have a 4-6 chance of sensing the presence of an undead creature within 100 ft.
  • Dhampir are truly children of the night. While they are not injured by sunlight like their vampire parent, they are weaker when exposed to it. Dhampir suffer a -2 modifier to all rolls when exposed to daylight.
  • Dhampir have the characteristic fangs of their vampire ancestry and can inflict1d4 damage per bite. They may drain blood (see below) on the their next turn, but if it's taken as their only action.
  • Dhampir do not heal damage naturally, nor can they be healed through potions, spells, or spell-like devices. They can only be healed by ingesting human blood from a living host at a rate of 1d4 HP per round of drinking. However, with each turn they spend drinking, they must make a Saving Throw vs. Death or fall under the spell of the Blood Frenzy (see below). Those slain in this manner DO NOT return as vampires.
  • The Blood Frenzy: While not necessarily needing it to live, Dhampir often feel their ancestral craving for blood as well as the orgasmic thrill of consuming it. If the Dhampir is not careful while drinking blood, they will loose control of themselves and seek out more--even from the throat of a friend. When in the Blood Frenzy, a Dhampir PC will attack the nearest living human character, friend or foe, and attempt to to bite and feed on them for 1d6 rounds, until killed, or otherwise subdued. Afterward, the Dhampir must rest for 1d4 hours to recover from experience, or suffer a -2 modifer to all rolls until they do so. 

Allowed classes include Fighter, Magic-User, Assassin, and Thief. Paladins and Clerics are right out. They can be good or evil, but tend toward neutral or chaotic alignments.

I'm sort of wondering if this is properly balanced. I choose to add the STR bonus because, unlike Pathfinder, Strength is the modifier for melee combat in most OSR games and I see vampires as more toe-to-toe fighters than marksmen for obvious reasons. I can go either way on the DEX bonus; however, whoever heard of a sluggish vampire? The CON reduction is due to their undead parentage making them somewhat sicklier than normal humans. Of course, in the modern media, Vampires are usually portrayed as attractive (better to lure unsuspecting victims to their deaths, dearie) so I'll give their children that bonus as well.

So there you have it! Leave comments and ideas in the comments below. I'm post more as it comes into my fevered brain. I don't know how I'm going to handle the rules for creepy, pedophile, werewolves, though.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Revising Empire Of The Petal Throne?

Excuse me, Lady Yilrana?
How do you like your stake?
As many of you know, I am an unapologetic Tékumel fanatic. Out of all of the various games set in the late Prof. Barker's science fantasy universe, the most approachable is the first: Empire of the Petal Throne. (Although Jeff Dee's Bethórm project looks very promising.) A variant of OD&D, the game's mechanics would be very familiar to any Old School aficionado. All they would have to do is leave their traditional, Eurocentric notions of "fantasy" behind for the ride of a lifetime!

However, that's not to say the game is perfect. After nearly 40 years of gaming development and the lessons thereof, many of its mechanics could stand to use some revision. EPT was eventually replaced by the far crunchier Swords & Glory, but I would really have liked to seen the original rules continue to evolve. (Of course, I would have loved to see Tékumel still have a home at TSR, been integrated as an "official" D&D setting like Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk, and receive the publicity and notoriety it richly deserved. However...)

Anyway, if I had the time and talent to write a hypothetical Empire of the Petal Throne: Second Edition, here is what I would add or modify:
  • Percentile-based task system: Since EPT Attributes are based upon straight percentiles rather than OD&D's 3d6, it makes rolling for various feats of strength or intelligence far easier. With the addition of some difficulty modifiers, it can be used as a functional task system.
  • Revise The Skill System: While "skills" are considered an anathema in OSR gaming, it should be pointed out that EPT was the first game to introduce them. However, I never really thought that the randomized nature of acquiring a PCs initial and how they gained additional skills made a lot of sense.
  • Non-human player options: While the original rules allowed you to play Shén, Pé Chói, Ahoggyá, etc., the game focused on human PCs. Borrowing a page from AD&D, we could easily come up with various racial modifiers and ability to differentiate them from those pesky humans.
  • Re-aligning Alignment: A minor quibble, but as Prof. Barker's fleshed out the setting, alignment evolved away from the original game's "Good" and "Evil" and became "Stability" and "Change." The new rules should take that into account.
  • PC from the Five Empires and Beyond: The basic premise of EPT is that the PCs are "barbarians" from Tékumel's shadowy "Southern Continent" come to seek their fortunes in Tsolyánu. While there is techincally nothing preventing the GM or Character from creating a Tsolyáni, Livyáni, Nlüss, or other character, it's not considered the norm. It ought to be, though.
  • Multi-Classing: Want to play a Warrior Priest of Ksárul? How about a powerful sorcerer who can wield the ritual spells of the Priest class AND the psychic spells of the magic users class? Well, now you can!
  • Updated Magic System/Spells: EPT used the "Vancian" magic system from OD&D with the addition of a change for failure. Swords & Glory and later rules vastly expanded the spell corpus into "ritual" spells and "psychic" spells along with "Universal," "Generic" and "Temple" spells as well as changed the nature of Tékumeyáni magic to a "power points" (i.e. "Pedhétl") system. I would like to see a somewhat "softened" system suitable for OSR sensibilities used here.
  • New artwork: You can't sell a RPG these days without having pretty, pretty pictures. A new edition would have more images of the settings awesome monsters, it's grand and exotic cites, and naked priestesses of Ladies Avánthe and Dlamélish... Oh wait. Did I just say that? 
Beyond that I wouldn't change much more than that. Keep the rest of the game simple and I'll be happy.

My! How you've grown, Mighty Prince!
The best example of how I think a new EPT should look like was Guardian of Order's short-lived Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne. While I was not enamored with the rules, it was intelligently laid out and lavishly illustrated. While it did not cover all of the nuances of the setting--only Swords & Glory Vol. 1 has that honor--it was a excellent introduction to Tékumel and gave the players just enough to work with to make the game their own. 

Of course, this is all just speculation and suggestion, but who knows? Perhaps, someday! Perhaps, someday...

Monday, October 22, 2012

This Shook the Pillars of Heaven.

China is here, Mr. Burton...(Also , look out for a cameo appearance in the elevator.)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

GaryCon Pre-Reg Coming Soon...

Working on a race for a horror campaign I have in mind, but in the meantime, allow me to remind you that's it's THAT time of year again. That's right! Soon it will be time to register for...

Casting Level 5 PAAAAAR-TAY!
GaryCon V (The Final Frontier) will be running from March 14-17. Preregistration starts September 16 and runs through October 15. $40 will get you admission to all four glorious days of Old School gaming debauchery with a set of official GaryCon Stadium cups (very handy for scoring cheap soda and Spotted Cow). The newly rechristened Geneva Ridge Resort (formerly The Lodge at Geneva Ridge) will have their usual $89 per night room rate. If anyone is looking to double up on a room and wouldn't mind me for a roomy, let me know and we'll see with we can arrange.

This year, I'm actually going to run an official event this year. I'm not sure what just yet, but I really want to make it wild and special. 

I've also leaving strict instructions with Victor Raymond that, in the event of my untimely death before the con,  he commision the priests of the temple of Lord Sárku to have me resurrected as a Jági!

What's that? They want HOW much? OK, how about a Shédra? A Mrúr?

OK, how much just to stuff my carcass and prop me up in a corner? 

Friday, August 31, 2012

The rumors of the OSR's death...

Thanks to my lousy, dead-end job, I don't read as many gaming blogs as I used to. However, I hear third-hand reports that with the recent GenCon announcement that WotC is going to put out the original D&D catalog on PDF early next year, some have declared the OSR either dead or obsolete.


Tell me, is WotC going to publish any new material for OD&D or 1st Edition?

I don't think so.

Are they going to publish variants of the original rules that take the Original D&D out of the traditional "high fantasy" genre? (i.e. Sword & Sorcery, Sword & Planet, Science Fiction, Horror, Post-Apocalypse, etc..)


How about new settings? Is WotC going to give Original D&D those, or is it all going to be digitized Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance...?

I see.

What about all the non-D&D, non-TSR titles? What about Empire of the Petal Throne, Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Classic Traveller, Top Secret, Tunnels and Trolls, and numerous out-of-print RPGs from the Golden Age? Can we declare all of those "dead" now too?


So what you're telling me is that WotC, while kindly allowing us to legitimately draw from previous editions by making them available again, is NOT actually going to support those games. They've moved on to D&D Next, and they're merely throwing the Old School Grognards a bone as they pass by. Therefore all of those OSR hobbyists and campaigners should just toss away their retro-clones and their "vanity press" modules come in out from the cold back into WotC's loving embrace? After all, we only play these games for the nostalgia, right?

Sorry. Not interested. I'm having way too much fun here. Thanks.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Buddy, can you spare a C-note?

While the Hulks & Horrors crowdsourcing crashed and burned, Reaper Miniatures' Kickstarter to expand its resin "Bones" line of figures has nothing short of a phenomenal success. They're initial goal was $30,000. At this time they are bringing in a whooping $2,127,605! With each funding milestone met they add more and more Stretch Goal rewards. Look at what you can get at the $100 "Vampire" level:

In the immortal words of George Takei: "Oh my!"

CRAP! What I wouldn't GIVE for an extra hundred bucks so I can get in on this cornucopia of sweet, sweet minis before the deadline! Sadly, I'm just a poor call center drone who get's abused by customers and condescended to from management for the princely pittance of $11/hr. (Meanwhile our glorious CEO took home a $24 Million bonus check on top of his huge salary. So much for supply side bullshit, folks!) 

Maybe it's about time I put up a PayPal donation link and start begging like every other self-respecting blogger.

UPDATE: I done a baaaaaaaaaaaaaad thing. I broke down and chipped in $100. Yeah, I probably can't afford it, but I could not resist the siren song. I'm crazy in the head. I need help.

"I despise all weavers of the black arts. Speaking of which, could you pass the gravy? "

I used to like Adult Swim, the Cartoon Network's nightly block of "mature" entertainment, back when they used to show actual original cartoons. These days they seem to have figured out that animation isn't cheap and now seem to have mainly dedicated themselves to airing crappy, surrealistic, live-action "comedies." The only thing that keeps me coming back on a semi-regular basis is that it is the home of my favorite animated show, The Venture Bros.. However, it takes quite a while for the two geniuses who produce that amazing satire to get a season together and I can always download seasons from iTunes or wait for the DVD release.

Also, Adult Swim is guilty of the most unforgivable crime in the whole of geekdom: it picked up and dropped the following masterpiece of fantasy animation after airing only the pilot:

TRAVESTY! INJUSTICE! Heads should roll for Adult Swim's myopic parsimony!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hulks and Horrors: Come on Spanky! Let's put on a show!

Remember those ancient Our Gang (aka The Little Rascals) shorts? In many of them Spanky, Alfalfa, Frogie, Buckwheat, et al would have to raise the money for some worthwhile, tear-jerking cause (i.e. help pay off some old granny's mortgage or keep a lovable stray dog from being gassed at the pound) with some sappy, kiddy, stage show that always seemed to rake in enough money to save the day. Well, that's sort of what I'm trying to do tonight... only without a show. Hey! Child labor laws are tougher now than they were in the 1940s!  At least I won't be featuring any horrific racist stereotypes or future wife-murderers in the cast.

P.Z. Myers would have an orgasm if he saw this.
No, what I need you to do is help out Hulks & Horrors, a new sci-fi OSR game in the works by John Berry. At this time, his crowdsourcing effort on IndieGoGo has only brought in about half of the $5000 he needs to launch this cool looking project and he only has 50 hours to go. To quote the IndieGoGo page:
Hulks and Horrors is a game of space exploration, treasure hunting, and horrific peril, set in the abandoned places of space. 
Centuries before mankind and its new allies reached the stars, a great galactic plague wiped out all sentient life, leaving the galaxy littered with the ruins and wealth of entire civilizations. But the plague also left behind the plague horrors, terrifying creatures twisted by the mutagenic plague into atavistic monsters that crave only the flesh of other life.

Characters take on the role of one of seven classes: the battle-hardened Soldier, the brash and dextrous Pilot, the clever genius Scientist, the meditative master Psyker, and their alien allies, the tribal Bearmen, the brilliant ameoboid Omega Reticulans, and the nimble Hovering Squid.
COME ON! IT'S GOT "HOVERING SQUID" WITH RAY GUNS!!! What more do you want? A game where you can play a floating cephlopod HAS to be worth a few bucks! So what if your cat goes without food for a week, or you put off that kidney dialysis for a few days? The flying space squid are well worth the inconvenience!

So what do you say OSR community? Surely we can raise $2500 in two days! Otherwise, we just might have to let Alfalfa perform:

I'm an atheist/materialist, but if I believed there was a Hell, then I'd hope that Hal Roach would be burning its darkest depths.

UPDATE: I guess really, really wanting it just wasn't enough. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Kickstarter: Wild Card Creator

Now this is an AWESOME idea. I've used other character creation tools like MetaCreator and HeroLab in the past. They're great for keeping track of PCs and creating legible record sheets and most of them suffer from the same problem: adding new content. You either have to wait until the manufacturer or a third party programmer puts one out, our have the coding chops to make one yourself.

Wild Card Creator would make adding a new Savage Setting easy. All you need is the .PDF of whatever game setting you want to add and import it into Wild Card Creator. It will scan the text and upload all of new campaign-specific Edges, Hindrances, Gear, etc. will be added to the program! Cool, huh?

 So far the Kickstart is off to a good start. They're a couple days in and they're already a quarter of the way into their goal. Stretch Goals include getting Pincacle artist Storn Cook to create character portraits, adding a Showdowns army builder, and a copy of an upcoming iOS/Android tablet edition! If you got the bucks, why not help out?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Noir is GO...and something else is a comin'

The Deadlands Noir KickStarter is over. The original goal for the $8000 was not only met in one day, but doubled (or nearly enough). By the end of the campaign, Pinnacle raised over $117,000 to fund this project. Sensational!

In an update that was released after the campaign's triumphant completion, Shane Hensley revealed a few more Deadlands related projects that are in the works, including one scheduled for this August (which most likely means a GenCon release)...

That's right! Hell on Earth Reloaded is now just a few short months away! Express elevator to You-Know-Where GOIN' DOWN!!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Is he back?

I just swung by Ix with the desperate hope that maybe--just maybe--The Drune has made a triumphant return to the blogsphere to finish Humanspace Empires and entertain us with more of his weird, wild, RPGs ideas. While there were no new posts, he did change his banner!

Is he back? Is he really back???

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chthonian Stars... SAVAGED

It's a nice, warm. late-Spring night. Right now, I'm sitting out on my patio, drinking a root beer, listening to HLPS's audio-drama of At The Mountains Of Madness, and working on a Savage Worlds/Realms Of Cthulhu conversion of WildFire's Lovecraftian hard science fiction setting for Mongoose's Traveller: Chthonian Stars.

While I've certainly dabbled in conversions in the past, this is the first time I've really been serious enough to commit to one that I intend to make available online. At this time, I'm working on character creation and not hitting any snags... yet. Most of the Advantages/Disadvantages found in the original rules already translate well into existing Edges and Hindrances. I need to figure out if any new Skills would be needed. (Yes, Guts will be an available--and recommended--Skill.)

After that I'm going to have to start converting weapons and equipment into their Savage Worlds equivalents. Then I'm going to have to gen-up stats for the various new creatures NOT found in Realms. The hardest part will be trying to convert the various spaceships from their ori stats (if you've ever played Traveller, you know what I'm going up against) to SW. Fortunately, I've got the old Sci-Fi Gear Toolkit to help me. Once I got that done, I'll layout everything out on my Mac into a nice .PDF and post it... somewhere.

Stay tuned, Savages.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"And then SHE walked in..."

Just in case you don't religiously visit their website every Tuesday to see what new savagery they're cooking up for us, today Pinnacle announced it's newest Savage Setting: Deadlands Noir.

Now hold on thar pardner!  Ain't Deadlands supposed to one them rootin'-tootin' Western-type games. Even the sequels Hell on Earth and Lost Colony had obvious Western tropes mixed into these respective post-apocalypse and sci-fi settings and they seem to work well. However, Westerns and Film Noir ain't what y'all would call corn-patible. Right?

I was skeptical myself. Then I watched this at the Kickstarter site:

(Yeah, I recognized Cheyenne Wright's voice, too.)

OK, I'm sold.

Thats right ya' palookas. Every two-bit gunsel and gumshoe from here to the Windy City will be polishing up their heaters for a piece of the action. So cool your jets, ya' ugly mug and throw some sawbucks into the hat and get some of that hot merchandise, pally. I'm just a busted joe, myself, but I put in for the $75 package.

So whadda ya waitin' for? An engraved invitation?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nudity! Horrible terrible NUDITY!!!

I'm trying out Heromachine 3 alpha to create character sketches. Here is my archetype for a Tékumelyani priestess of Dlamélish. As you can see, it looks like the programmer still has Barbie-doll notions of human anatomy.

Because the sight of nipples or genitalia will
bring Western civilization to an end!
Real life is still eating up my free time. I'll have the Gary Con reports ready by the end of tomorrow.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Home again, home again...

I got home about six hours ago, but I'm pretty much done. I'll have a report on the last two days of Gary Con along with some corrections and final touches to the previous posts tomorrow evening.

In the meantime, I'm off to bed.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Gary Con Report: Evening March 22

We were pretty packed at the Ghostbusters game run by Tim Snider (aka Sniderman) from the Savage AfterWorld blog. It was a thrill to play the old game again, so with pre-gen character sheet and custom-made Ghost Die (I don't know where the hell he got these.) we began our spook-tacular adventure.

For this adventure I was playing Christopher Barnes, the staff's science nerd (i.e. Egon) who is described a having a personality that was a combination of Ben Stein (without the anti-science, creationist BS, of course) and some comedian I never heard of; deadpan and sarcastic. We bested the supernatural baddy (I shan't spoil it by going into the details, lest Sniderman wishes to run the adventure again.) and best of all, we got to keep the Ghost Dice at the end. The markings on the die from the original boxed set had a tendency to where off. I'm going to have to ask Sinderman where he got his from after all.

After that there was a gamer's mixer up at the bar. There was free food, 300 and Gladiator was playing on the big screen TV system, and plenty of gamer geeks to chew the fat with. I ran into Victor Raymond who brought a copy of the map of the first level of the Jakallan underworld, the late Professor Baker's legendary mega-dungeon. Victor promised to pick up last year's adventure where we left off sometime this weekend. It was then I ran into one of the players from Sniderman's previous game; he was looking for players for his evening Ghostbusters game.

Since I had noo other plans, I took up the same character. This time the game had a decidedly Lovecraftian bent as our characters where hired by the Yonker's extension of Miskatonic University to find a stolen copy of the Nomicon, a badly translated edition of the Necronomicon filled with potenially unstable spells. This time around I was not so lucky as before because I kept rolling "ghost" after "ghost" after "ghost," and veteran Ghostbusters player knows: you roll a "ghost" BAD THINGS HAPPEN. I was lucky I survived at all.

Anyway, the adventure over, I went back to my murphy bed for another night's sleep.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gary Con Report: Morning, March 22.

Got through my first night OK, but I can't get Apples iCloud to upload my pictures from my phone to my tablet. I'm reduced to blogging from my phone.

Right now I'm sitting at a table, talking about the hated 4th Ed. and John Carter with a few others including Jim Ward and Frank Metzner. (Synopsis, John Carter rules, 4th Ed. sucks moose scrotum.)

My first game, a Ghostbusters adventure, starts at 2pm. I haven't played this old West End Games classic since I was in 8th grade, so I'm really psyched to play.

Like a lot of cons of this type, things are really quiet on the first and last days. Attendance really pick up Friday and Saturday.

Location:Terrace Dr,Lake Geneva,United States

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Update: I'm saved!

My roomie has arrived after all! I'm now snug and safe in our room. I might go out a roaming later, but at least I won't have to sleep in my car.

Location:Lausanne Ct,Lake Geneva,United States

Gary Con Report: Wednesday, March 21

Well I'm here...

...and I fucked up royally.

But first thing is first: the drive down was lovely. Much of South Eastern Wisconsin is hilly and rural with large woodlots and farms between Milwaukee and Lake Geneva. It was quite warm for March, a major improvement over the cold and snow of last year. I arrived at the resort and stopped by the front desk to see if my roomate had arrived yet.

He hadn't and he isn't expected to arrive until tomorrow. It seems I misunderstood his instuctions. Now I'm stuck here without a room for the night. The fellow at the desk said that he could stratch up a room for the night for me, but it would cost more than I could afford right now. At this time, I'm down to two options:

I could drive back home or to my mother's home in nearby Mukwonago, burning gasoline (i.e. money) along the way.


I could try to sleep in my car tonight and hope no one pinches me.

Not only did I fuck up, but I AM fucked... and not in the fun way.

In the meantime, I'm holed up in the resort lobby blogging on my iPad and pondering on what to do. I just dined royally on a salami and provolone on wheat while I watched Frank Metzner, Jim Ward and members of the Gygax clan trade pleasantries. Maybe I can find a game to pass the time.

It's going to be a loooong night.

Location:State Road 50,Lake Geneva,United States

The Dark Lord of the OSR speaks...

While I'm packing for my trip to fun-filled GaryCon--Where did I put my thumbscrews and my strap-on dildo?--I thought I'd share this inter-tubes offering from Jim Raggi, his new video blog... vodcast... thing...

Enjoy!  I'm going to have to stop off at Sam's Club for more lube and nylon rope.

Monday, March 19, 2012

T-Minus two days and counting...

Soon, very soon now, I'll be in beautiful (Unlike last year, this week promises to have nice weather.) Lake Geneva, WI at...

I'm planning to get in a day-to-day contribution on the events, shenanigans, and goings-on. That is, if can get my new AC/DC adapter for my laptop. Otherwise, I 'll have to use my iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard.

So be on the lookout for a fat, nerd with a beard... oh wait... Just be on the look out for this ugly mug!

If you think I look horrifying here, imagine me naked!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Coming Soon: EPT Draft Rules!

Victor Raymond, pillar of the OSR community in my area, alumni of Prof. M.A.R. Barker's game table, and president of the Tékumel Foundation, reports that the original, pre-publication draft of Empire of the Petal Throne will soon be available on

You darn kids with your "desktop publishing!"

Having played the published version before, I'm very curious to see just what the good Professor initially had in mind for his magnum opus. Once it comes out, I might have to write up a compare/contrast article.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Abraxis: On Kindle

A few months back, I mentioned Abraxis: The Lost Continent, an evocative science fantasy by Dave Morris and Jamie Thompson with inspiring concept art by Russ Nicholson.
Art by Russ Nicholson
The lads at the Fabled Lands blog collected all that material (including a poem by Robert E. Howard) and put it together into a handy Kindle eBook. Until this Friday, you can download that book for free.

Friday, February 3, 2012

GaryCon Update.

I wanted to post this earlier last weekend, but Real Life is a bitch.

I signed up for my events for GaryCon. With the exception of Saturday, I tried to keep it to one event per night to leave myself time for pick-up games and other things. I'm leaving Sunday open so I can play in Victor Raymond's EPT game. I also decided to help out a fellow convention goer--and reduce my own hotel bill--by rooming with him.

Here's what I'm doing:

2 PM: Ghostbusters - How Dry I Am
I haven't played WEG Ghostbusters since middle school!

10 AM: Heroes of Barsoom Episode 1 - The Lost Sextant vof Inak
This is part one of a two-pater. I'm not sure how the the GM is going to modify 1st Edition for Barsoom, but it should be interesting to watch.

10 AM: Heroes of Barsoom Episode 2 - The Lost Sextant vof Inak

6 PM: Amazing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - Taken From Dunwich
I pledged for ASSH's kickstarter campaign. With a copy on the way, so I want to see how well the game runs.

I'm hoping that there will be some kind of cork board where one can post pick-up games and that Warriors of the Red Planet is out in some form by that day. See you all there!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Warriors of the Red Planet Update

Art by Frank Frazetta... as if you didn't know.
It had been a while since we last heard from Al and Thomas Denmark about their Baroomian Swords & Wizardry supplement Warriors of the Red Planet. In our last installment back in September, the game had gone into layout. Then, after many long months of silence, Thomas posts a sample of how the final book might look.

I'll give you a moment to look it over.

Wow! Full color and professional layout! If this looks anything like the final product then Warriors looks even better than I ever expected! I would have been satisfied with a black and white .PDF composed on MS Word or Pages, but Thomas springs this serious professional shit on us. Work of this calibre cries out for a hardcover!

Thomas says that he is trying to get this finished by the time the House of Mouse releases "John Carter" to theaters in early March. Personally, While I'd just be happy if he get's this released by GaryCon where I can run some pick-up games, it's a excellent date to shoot for. In my college Mass Communications courses, they taught us the concept of "synergy:" using multiple forms of products or media to promote another.  Even if the movie flops horribly, it will get gamers excited about Barsoom in particular and the Swords and Planet genre in general. The best thing is that despite the entertainment industry's sway over copyright and IP law, most of Burroughs' work from this era (including the early John Carter tales) are in the public domain, you won't have to fork over huge licensing fees to Robert Iger to get in on the fun.

Along with Warriors, I'm hoping to see other game companies ride the "John Carter" bandwagon and follow suit and produce a whole bunch of Barsoomian-style products. Paizo is going to release their Distant Worlds campaign setting book for Pathfinder late next month. I was expecting Adamant Entertainment to come out with some more material for their Mars campaign setting for Savage Worlds and d20, but they seem more preoccupied with other projects (apparently they seem more pre-occupied with a RPG based on a pulp movie from the 80s than cashing in on an upcoming media event). However, more is needed. We need scenarios. We need airship deck plans to play out epic boarding actions taking place high above the Martian deserts and  paper miniatures for those who can't paint. Speaking of which, there are plenty of excellent "NOT Barsoom" figures available on the market which I will be reviewing in very near future, but perhaps will shall see more and more come out as the months go by. (Hey! Reaper! Are you guys listening?)

While we are waiting, I'll be here, plotting and planning my own adventures on the Red Planet (and possibly beyond). Of course, being a Burroughs purist and not a Disney-fied Family Values Fascist, my Martians will be appropriately attired...

Art by Chad Spliker

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My answers to the Porn Lord's questions...

Zak S., everyone's favorite game-blogger/game-writer/game-artist/erotic-performer has published the following questionnaire to GMs on his blog. Here are my answers:

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?

A trap a long-dead that a human minister devised to imprison a "demon" (i.e a Colour Out Of Space) for a Call of Cthulhu game I ran once: a stone box with Elder Signs inscribed on each wall. The minister would sit in the box as bait and trip the box shut entrapping the being as energy being sucked him dry.

2. When was the last time you GMed?

Back in March of last year where I ran a Humanspace Empires game at GaryCon.

3. When was the last time you played?

Last Sunday. We played Star Frontiers.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.

For a The Day After Ragnarok campaign I had planned: "Follow our adventurers through the wastelands of Wisconsin as they journey to the rowdy, libertine, pirate city of Green Bay!"

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?

Dream up new and better ways to torment them.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?

Chips, peanuts, pizza, burgers, subs, gyros, fried chicken, sushi, lasagna, prime rib, crown roast, turducken, antelope, bengal tiger, humpback whale, velociraptor, babies (as an atheist, I must keep up appearances)...

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

Right now, at this point in my failed and useless life, I find living physically exhausting. Seriously, right now my intellectual plate is rather full and I prefer to play than GM. It's less taxing on my tired, overtaxed, noggin.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?

A futuristic marine cadet is on his first cruise in a long-running science fiction campaign.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?

Depends on the setting. If we're playing the Standard Fantasy Tolkien-Inspired RPG Setting (TM) then no, we're not at all serious. It's been done so often that a little humor thrown in makes it more palatable. If the game is something new and different, then we start to treat the game seriously (unless the game is meant to be funny).

10. What do you do with goblins?

Serve them boiled with stuffed kobold.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?

You had to be there to appreciate the proper context.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?

Pathfinder Core Rules to remind myself why I like OSR-style games.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?

I'd say my favorite is Bryan Gibson, who's done some amazing work (particularly mechanical designs) for Traveller over the years.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?

Not yet...

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)

I introduced my friends to Deadlands: Reloaded by running a quick, page-scenario featuring a rogue Automaton trying to defend his former family from Darius Hellstromme's goons. Lots of gun slinging, dopey cowboy accents, and misadventures with dynamite.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?

A warm, clean, room with lighting that can be dimmed for scary games with a large table to accommodate maps and miniatures, comfy chairs, wi-fi, bookshelves with all the needed books, easy kitchen access, and about three or four nude Tsolyáni clan maidens to fan me or lounge seductively on plush cushions at my feet.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?

Dungeons & Dragons and Transhuman Space; the opposite ends of spectrum between high fantasy and hard science fiction.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?

M.A.R. Barker and Carl Sagan.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?

I like players who can actually get into their character rather than someone who just "runs" a character like a glorified wargaming ministure. Give us something to imagine! Give your character a funny voice and a personality. Make me laugh. Make me wince. Don't just sit there and blandly announce what your PC is doing. Give your character some life!

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?

Using my education and background in journalism, I helped a GM by role-playing a reporter for an interlude in an online sci-fi game.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?

Two come to mind:
  • Tékumel: Savage Worlds Edition
  • Buck Rogers XXVc: Second Edition
23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?

Not in very much depth. People either give me very odd look or smile condescendingly as if I were a mentally handicapped child when I mention that I game.

A flock of Mi-Go.

After seeing "The Whisperer in Darkness" I've been going over my collection of Lovecraftian miniatures for future Cthulhoid role-playing. Here are some samples:

Mothers, lock up your daughter's... brains. (RAFM)

"Back! Back foul beings from beyond the stars!" (RAFM and Reaper)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dungeons & Dragons! Now with Pop-O-Matic Dice!

As I'm sure we've all heard, WotC has announced that the fifth edition of D&D is now in the works.


Unless WotC reinvents the wheel and comes up something truly spectacular that revitalizes tabletop fantasy role-playing (highly doubtful), I 'm just not interested. I've my got copies of Moldvay/Cook, the first edition trifecta (Player's Guide, DM's Guide, Monster Manual), my collection of retro-clone PDFs and books, Empire of the Petal Throne, my remote control, my ashtray...


Monday, January 2, 2012

Oh Drune Where Art Thou?

Last year, I came across Ix, a fantastic gaming blog run by a fellow known as The Drune. The Drune's approach to the OSR was a unique as it was entertaining and the ideas that sprung from his site where nothing short of inspiration. One of these ideas was to take M.A.R. Barker's Empire of the Petal Throne, tweak the rules here and there, then rewind the game's history back to the time before Tékumel got dumped into a Bethróm when far-future humans, Pé Chói, Ahoggyá, etc. cruised the galaxy in starships, wore ray guns on their hips, and wielded fantastic psychic powers.

The result? Humanspace Empires: The sci-fi OSR experiment that stole my black and cynical heart last year!

After some successful playtest games, both on and off-line, everything seemed to be going fine. Then, last summer, Drune went off to deal with his "real life" job. Then *poof!* He was gone.

Does anyone know if Drune is still alive and well? I shot him an email a couple of week ago to find out if he was still with us, but I didn't get a response.

Perhaps if we all send a massive psychic vibration through the hyperspacial void, he will return to us.