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.