Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Silent Legions Kickstarter In Its End Times...

While I usually try to keep ahead of such things, I confess that this one nearly slipped under my radar. I only fond out yesterday that Kevin Crawford over at Sine Nomine Publishing was working on Silent Legions, a modern day Lovecraftian horror game using familiar OSR mechanics. Their latest Kickstarter is fully funded in its final stretch. To quote the KS site:
Silent Legions is a modern-day Lovecraftian role-playing game, one built to support a sandbox style of gaming and the creation of your own diabolical Mythos. While compatible with the Stars Without Number game system and many other classic old-school games, Silent Legions is built to stand alone and provide you with everything you need to develop a grim world of unspeakable occult secrets and mad, sorcerous scheming. 
Silent Legions is 160+ pages of specially-designed material to help a game master create their own cosmic evils and mysterious alien powers. Rather than simply recycle the traditional Cthulhu Mythos baddies, Silent Legions gives you the tools and techniques to make your own, the better to shock and dismay your players with fresh horrors that haven't already been wrung dry by familiarity. The creatures and cults the game helps you build are also fully compatible with most classic OSR games, allowing you to export them to other settings or mix and match with material you've drawn in from your other games.
As a perk for donating, you get a peek at the playtest rules, and, as the blurb states, it's very similar and compatible to Sine Nomine's other OSR offerings like Stars Without Number and Spears At Dawn. Also, as stated, you won't find its bestiary stuffed full of familiar monstrosities like Mi-Go, Deep Ones, and Star-Spawn of Cthulhu. Instead, it allows you to create your own original degenerate-cult-worsphipped horrors to throw at your hapless investigators as they plunge into worlds of madness and elder chaos.

The campaign ends Thursday, December 18, at 6:42 pm CST. Donate today, before it is doomed forever!

Monday, December 1, 2014

2015: The Year Of Tekumel

Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the publication of the late Professor M.A.R. Barker's Empire of the Petal Throne, which introduced us to his world of Tekumel. Veteran Tekumel-gamer Brett Slocum, suggests that we celebrate by declaring 2015 "The Year of Tekumel." I wholeheartedly agree. Which is why I'm going to dedicate a huge chunk of this upcoming year's blog activity to that effort.

Along with my usual fare, I'll be posting characters, magical items, creature conversions to Savage Worlds and 5th Ed, after action reports from any games I run or participate in, and any other Tekumel-related coolness I can devise. I also suggest that if you've got a gaming blog that you join in on the fun. The more the merrier.

I think we'll need a logo.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's time to clean up my act.

You may have noticed that I removed the adult content warning from this site. I also took down a previous post that featured a model in a state of undress. After careful consideration, I came to the conclusion that using such material was both unprofessional and not at all welcoming for female readers. It's one thing to have a liberated attitude about sex, it's quite another to be an ass about it.

To all those whom I offended, I am sorry.

Monday, November 17, 2014

(SW) First Nova Praxis PC: Janus

As the Kickstarter goodies for Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition keep rolling in, I tried my hand at creating my first PC for this transhumanist sci-fi setting. It could be a very involved process depending on what sort of character you want to create, perhaps more so than creating a PC for Interface Zero 2.0. You get to create your PC au naturel then, depending on the character's "state" (i.e. Pure, Sleeved, or Sim) you then get to upgrade your body accordingly and there are a lot of great augmentations you can use to customize your PC's "sleeve." I decided to create a sleeved Coalition spy/assassin uploaded into a totally synthetic "cybersleeve." 

As usual, thanks go out to the folks behind HeroMachine 3.0 for helping me compensate for my lack of artistic talent.

Note: all stats in parenthesis are for the PC's sleeve.

State: Sleeved
Rank: Novice
Bennies: 2

Attributes: Agility d8 (d8), Smarts: d6, Strength d6 (d6), Spirit: d6,Vigor: d6 (d6)

Charisma: -4; Cohesion: -3; Pace: 6; Parry: 5 (6); Toughness: 12 (6)

Skills: Athletics: d6, Fighting d6, Knowledge (Politics) d4 (d6), Knowledge (Security) d4 (d6), Investigation d8 (d10 with Agent Bonus), Notice d4+1, Persuasion d6, Shooting: d6, Streetwise d4, Stealth d8

Edges: AssassinScion of House Kimura

Hindrances: Habit, VR Pornography (Major), Malware Afflicted, Mean. 

Rep: 4, 1d4, Bump 6
Assets: 3, 1d4-1, Bump 4

Sleeve: Alpha Cybersleeve Cost 5 (6 -1 for Scion of House Kimura Edge)
Customization: +1 Cost, Removed sleeve's Dubious Construction Hindrance
Hindrances Outsider

Apotheosis (Comes with Mindset, Mnemonic Core, Data Jack)
Agent (Beta) Grants Skill Increases in Knowledge (Politics) and Knowledge (Security)
Fully Synthetic: +1 Toughness, Ignore 1 Wound Penalty, Synthetic Biology, -1 Benny
Performance Enhanced (Agility)
Hidden Weapon System (Monoblade Dagger "Claws")

Gear: Beta Agent, Light Battle Armor, Light Coil PDW, Light Rail Pistol, Spider Gear Kit, Plasti-Rope Dispenser, ARID Tag

Whoever he or she was before hir Apotheosis, "Janus" is a mystery. This newly appeared contract killer prefers to keep their nearly all aspects of hir identity a secret. Janus prefers the anonymity of cybersleeves, even going so far as to adjust hir sleeve's vocoder to produce an entirely androgynous voice. Janus approaches hir profession with ruthless efficiency making hir not the most friendly of companions. To help compensate for the muted existence of life in a cybersleeve, Janus indulges in promiscuous virtual sex during hir downtime. Keeping to hir sexually ambiguous nature, Janus will often alter gender and and orientation; male or female, hetero or homosexual, it doesn't matter. Unfortunately, Janus menomic core has picked up a few annoying trojans and viruses during hir VR trysts, but, so far, nothing serious.

UPDATE: Realized I miscalculated on the skills and had to lose the Licensed edge to increase my Spirit, which meant I had to rethink my Gear and my sleeve's augments. Then I updated my picture.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

And we're back...

Sorry for long the unannounced silence folks, but I haven't been feeling very chatty or creative lately. The last few months have been draining: work pressures picked up,; I got slapped with another bout of depression; my mother lost her house, had to move to an senior apartment, AND had get her shoulder replaced; been trying (largely unsuccessfully) to restart my  local OSR group; and I was told by my doctor that if I didn't started losing some weight I would end up with Type II Diabetes and a liver that's turned into foie gras. So after several months of putting up with the drudge of a thankless job (more on that in a bit), hiking large heavy boxes of junk from place to place, sitting in a crowed game store full of 5e players trying to run B/X game that virtually no one pays attention to, and doing all this on half-rations while counting every single calorie that passes my lips, I 'm ready to start posting again.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gaming In The Latter Times.

Richard Hescox's awesome cover art from my
favorite Barker novel: Flamesong
Brett Slocum recently blogged about his intention of running a campaign set in "The Time of No Kings," the period of Tékumelyáni history between the fall of Éngsvan hla Gánga the rise of Tsolyánu and the other "Modern" empires that we all know and love. I also have an interest in exploring other eras of Professor Barker's universe. While I already have some experience role-playing in the Humanspace Era (sniff, sob... DRUNE! WHERE ARE YOU DRUNE!?!?), I'd like to try playing in the mysterous Latter Times, the barbaric, post-apocalyptic period just after Tékumel was thrust into the béthorm (i.e. pocket universe) that imprisons the planet and its peoples:
Small empires and city-states came and went, and over time the various sentient species began to isolate themselves into their own enclaves and in environments that suited them best. This period became known as the Latter Times. It was during this age that some unknown scholar discovered that the mind alone could be trained as a tool. On Tékumel, magic is the skilled use of extra-planar power and it is possible because of the peculiar characteristics of the pocket dimension. The walls between the planes are thin here and with the right talent that energy can be shaped by the power of a human will. It is during this period of declining technology and increasing magic that some of the most exotic artefacts on Tékumel were created. Tékumel’s more outlandish species (for example, Rényu and Voródla) were created during the Latter Times. 
-Tékumel: Empire Of The Petal Throne, pg 145
To start, I pulled out my copy of the late Guardians Of Order's Tékumel: Empire Of The Petal Throne which has a section on playing in earlier time periods. It says the following about gaming in the Latter Times:
A game set in this period will be radically different from a modern era Tékumel game; even the positions of the landmasses will be different. This is when the first powerful magicians appear as they begin to explore and exploit the new potential of other planar power to affect reality. This is combined with the survival of considerable technological understanding and significant stockpiles of Humanspace-era equipment. This is a Tékumel where the new upstart magicians successfully challenge the old technological order for the first time and weird combinations of magic and science become almost commonplace. 
-Tékumel: Empire Of The Petal Throne, pg 224
Reminds me of another infamous piece of Sword & Sorcery fiction:
Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars... 
-Robert E. Howard,
The Pheonix on the Sword

Or perhaps this:

(Can't you imagine the Adventures of Thún'dar and his companions: the sensual sorceress Arél and Uk-Lah the Shén? I can.)

Eitherway, the Latter Times sounds like a time of mighy-thewed, coppery-hued barbarians wielding Chlén-hide swords (or uncommon, but not yet rare, steel) wandering the wastes between tiny empires and city-states in search of adventure. Where hordes of Ssú and Hlüss have broken loose from their ancient prisons to raid and destroy the alien interlopers who took their planet many millenia before. Meanwhile, insane scholars, flanked by ornate Ru'un bodygurads and kept entertained by a harem of Yéleth concubines, craft the first Eyes, search for stashes of Humanspace techonolgies, experiment with newly discovered "magics," and make horrific pacts with the Pariah Gods and their inhuman servants.

Sounds exciting? It sure does, but what rules do you use?

Of course, there is always one of the many Tékumel-based RPGs that are still available (and soon to be joined by Jeff Dee's Béthrom, still in development). The GoO rules suggest keeping magical powers restricted to Universal spells and making tem more difficult to learn/cast, while "special items" (i.e. "technological") are more common. With some minor tweeking of the treasure charts and magician/priest skills table, you can do this quite easily.

There are other options of course. You can always start with your favorite verson of the original game or OSR engine (Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, LotFP, etc) and borrow what you need from the original Empire of the Petal Throne. As what amounts to a "post-apocalyptic" game you could use Gamma World or Mutant Future, stripped of mutations and associated powers and replaced with Tékumelyáni aliens and monsters. The magic rules in Crypts & Things (aka Akrasia's Sword & Sorcery rules) might be a better fit for Tékumel's non-Vancian spellcasting. I've heard tell that there is this new "Sword & Planet" RPG that might be useful.

There is nothing wrong with a good rules mash-up so long as it works and everyone has fun!

As usual, discussion welcome below.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Warriors of the Red Planet: It's HERE! It's HERE! (at least the beta)

Yesterday, I was so busy spending the day red-faced, screaming, and pounding any available table over the Supreme Court's moronic Hobby Lobby decision, I failed to notice Thomas Denmark's announcement that after years of waiting...


Right now the document is a perfect-bound paperback print "Beta" edition available at The doucment reportedly needs still needs a little and polish but, it should be quite playable. While I while certainly be picking up the print edition, I did wish they had a .PDF we could download right away. I suppose Thomas and Al want to keep control of the document for the time being rather than seeing it plastered on every RPG website.

Friday, June 13, 2014

(Savage Worlds) My First Interface Zero 2.0 Character: Marcus "Fenris" Slade

After finally getting having access to both Interface Zero 2.0 and Wild Card Creator, I decided to put them through their paces by designing my first IZ 2.0 character: A cyborged-up street samurai with timber wolf genes to boot!

Marcus "Fenris" Slade:''

Race: Fierce Hybrid (Timber Wolf)
Rank: Novice

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d6

Skills: Fighting d6, Intimidation d6, Notice d6, Shooting d8, Streetwise d6, Throwing d4, Tracking d6

Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 8 (2); Firewall: 4; Strain: 3; Street Cred: 2

Hindrances: Code of Honor, Loyal, Vengeful (Minor)

Edges: Chromed, Counterattack, Ex-Soldier

Gear: AGA Thunderbolt (Range 12/24/48, 2d8+1, Shots 11, AP 4, Semi-auto), AS Foley Arms TAW 2022 (Range 25/50/100, 2d8+1, RoF 3, Shots 45, AP 3, 3RB, Auto, see notes), ED Combat Vest (+2, Covers torso), Emergency Support Patch x5, WT Lacerator Knife (Str+d6, AP 2; requires a battery), $33600

Augments: Cyberlimb/Cyber Eyes, 2 Modules (Streetware) (2 Strain; See modules) x2,  Enhanced Vision (Eyes; Halves penalty for Medium and Long Range), Night Vision Optics (Eyes; Gain Low Light Vision monstrous ability), Recoil Compensation (Arm; Removes 2 penalty points from auto-fire), Reflexive Strike Module (Arm/Leg; Gain Counterattack Edge), Smartgun System (Streetware) (1 Strain; Shooting roll Wild Die is a d8 (Extras gain a d4)),

Marcus Slade, grew up in the sprawls of Chicago in the shadow of the corporate metroplexes downtown. While not particularly patriotic or loyal to the Great Lakes Union, he had no love for the racist theocrats of the neighboring North American Coalition (What sane person does?) and joined the  GLU army. Looking for a larger paycheck, and the opportunity to join up with special forces, he opted for transgenic modification. With wolf DNA spliced into his chromosomes he was attached to the 112th Urban Shocktroops (aka "The Berserkers") where he earned the nickname "Fenris." During an assault mission, Slade lost his right arm and both eyes when he was caught by a mortar shell. Patched up with cyber-replacements, Slade was discharged.

Since then, Slade has sold his gun hand to anyone willing to pay. Finding a home in Chicago's Hybrid community, he works as an enforcer for the Vasquez Brothers, a pair of small time hybrid hoods specializing in drugs, gun running, and information brokage that use a huge chunk of their proceeds to protect other hybrids. It was on a run where he met Jasmine "Ixchel" Bravara, a sassy jaguar-hybrid hacker who took an instant shine to the brawny, quiet Slade. The two became fast lovers, using sex to sate their more feral passions. (By the way, only a idiot makes a crack about "dogs and cats sleeping together" in Slade's presence.)

All in all, I'm very pleased with the results. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the cyberpunk genre. Especially in this day and age with its near-ubiquitous computing and multinational corporate control of politics resulting in widespread corruption, environmental destruction, and rapidly growing economic disparity between rich and poor.

(Update: I played around with Heromachine until I got something that looked MUCH cooler

Monday, June 2, 2014

Does anyone know...

...where I can purchase a bunch of these in the U.S.?

Properly painted and based, these Star Destroyers would be awesome for space combat games like Starmada or, my all-time favorite, Full Thrust. Please e-mail or post leads below.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Green Martians for OSR

Art by the incomparable Michael Whelan 
Since the Sword & Planet genre is near and dear to my muscular circulatory fluid pump, I've decided to try my hand at adapting the denizens of Barsoom to Basic D&D and related retro-clones. As always, scathing criticism of my hair-brained ideas is always welcome.

Let's start with the fearsome Green Martians:

Requirements: CON 9
Prime Requisite: STR and CON
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 12
Five or six had already hatched and the grotesque caricatures which sat blinking in the sunlight were enough to cause me to doubt my sanity. They seemed mostly head, with little scrawny bodies, long necks and six legs, or, as I afterward learned, two legs and two arms, with an intermediary pair of limbs which could be used at will either as arms or legs. Their eyes were set at the extreme sides of their heads a trifle above the center and protruded in such a manner that they could be directed either forward or back and also independently of each other, thus permitting this queer animal to look in any direction, or in two directions at once, without the necessity of turning the head
The ears, which were slightly above the eyes and closer together, were small, cup-shaped antennae, protruding not more than an inch on these young specimens. Their noses were but longitudinal slits in the center of their faces, midway between their mouths and ears. 
There was no hair on their bodies, which were of a very light yellowish-green color. In the adults, as I was to learn quite soon, this color deepens to an olive green and is darker in the male than in the female. Further, the heads of the adults are not so out of proportion to their bodies as in the case of the young. 
The iris of the eyes is blood red, as in Albinos, while the pupil is dark. The eyeball itself is very white, as are the teeth. These latter add a most ferocious appearance to an otherwise fearsome and terrible countenance, as the lower tusks curve upward to sharp points which end about where the eyes of earthly human beings are located. The whiteness of the teeth is not that of ivory, but of the snowiest and most gleaming of china. Against the dark background of their olive skins their tusks stand out in a most striking manner, making these weapons present a singularly formidable appearance. ... 
But how puny and harmless they now looked beside this huge and terrific incarnation of hate, of vengeance and of death. The man himself, for such I may call him, was fully fifteen feet in height and, on Earth, would have weighed some four hundred pounds. 
--Edgar Rice Borroughs
A Princess Of Mars 
Barbaric even by Barsoom's brutal standards, the Green Martian hordes are feared by the all the civilized peoples of Mars. With few exceptions, Green Martians revel in violence and cruelty, killing to advance their status in their horde, or just for the pleasure of seeing their victim suffer.Like most lifeforms on water-starved Barsoon, Green Martians hatch from eggs and are raised collectively by the females on a horde. Love and familial bonds are not a factor in the vast majority of Green Martian lives (although there are few exceptions); however, the few exceptions to the rule can be intensely loyal to those who can prove their strength and cunning.

Green Martians can use all four of their limbs in combat, bearing any combination of 1-or-2-handed weapons as they have hands available. (e.g. 4 one -handed weapons, 2 two-handed weapons, 2 one handed weapons and 1 two-handed weapon, etc.) They can spread these attacks between 1 and 4 eligible opponents.

Because of their great height, Green Martians have difficulty moving in confined spaces. Unless they are in an area with at least a 15' ceiling, their movement is reduced by half and they suffer a -2 penalty to their attacks and +2 penalty to their AC (or -2 defense penalty if using Ascending AC). They also suffer a -2 penalty to all dexterity or movement-based saving throws.

Upon Reaching 9th Level: When a Green Martian reaches level 9, it has the option of becoming a Jeddak of a horde of its own. A Green Martian Jeddak will attract Green Warriors who roam the dead sea bottoms from ruined city to ruined city. They have no use for retainers or specialists.

Green Martian Level Progression
Hit Dice (1d6)
+3 hp only*
+6 hp only*
+9 hp only*
*Hit point modifiers from constitution are ignored.

Saving Throws: As Dwarf/Halfling

Swords & Wizardry: Green Martians can only be Fighters.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

We have a new national anthem!

Like many who fly the OSR banner, I do enjoy listening to Save or Die on my pocket-sized telecommunications/entertainment device. However, because of the flighty nature of my broken brain, I stopped listening to podcasts in general for about a year and have only now begun to start listen again. In the latest iteration of their intro, I noticed that Save or Die uses this catchy, funky, Southern metal piece of music called "Dungeon Hustle" from a group called Mississippi Bones. Whatever edition of the rules you play, this song captures the rompin', hackin', slashin' spirit of tabletop gaming.

Come on everyone, sing along, OK?

Please patronize their music on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, and other fine digital music establishments.

Friday, May 23, 2014

"Warriors of the Red Planet" Coming Soon?

Want! Want! Covet! Covet!

Just when I thought it had become vaporware! After over a year of silence from the Warriors of the Red Planet blog, artist Thomas Denmark announced today that he will have the Beta of the final game, along with a limited edition portfolio of five of his paintings used in the game, will be available at his table at Kublacon in Burlingame, CA, this weekend.

Sadly, I live on the wrong side of the continent to attend and it's driving me crazy. I have been waiting for these rules for years now, and I would kill a man--in front of his own spouse and children--to even catch a glimpse of the finished game. Hopefully, this means that my wait will finally be over and my pitifully excuse for a wasted live will have some semblance of meaning and I can die only slightly less alone and afraid than I had originally planned.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Savage Praxis Kickstarter Launches May 13

Back in January, I reported that Mike McConnell with Void Star Studios was going to port his hit science fiction setting, Nova Praxis, to the Savage Worlds engine. With Shaintar-creator Sean Patrick Fannon was brought in to write the setting-specific rules. To help fund the project, a Kickstarter campaign similar to that which funded the original game was hinted at. Mike McConnell now reports that the campaign is ready to roll and will launch this upcoming Tuesday, May 13! You can check out a preview of the KS site here

Along with a print edition, along with a "regular" and an "augmented" PDF version, the proposed stretch goals for this project includes a themed poker-deck for initiative, several rules supplements like a gazetteer and a monster manual, an introductory adventure, and a iOS/Android character creation app. I'm rather excited about this project. I own a copy of the original edition, and while FATE is a fine system, it's quite a departure from the traditional-style of role-playing that many gamers in my circle are used to. Savage Worlds has both the popularity and ease of play to introduce this rich and action-packed settings to a larger audience of players.

So this Tuesday, please help support a great project that's well worth the investment.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Blog Consolidation Is Upon Us All...

Over the years I've run a few blogs dedicated to my various role-playing interests, but they're spread out across a couple of accounts. Eventually, these blogs get neglected as one interest overrides the others. So, I thought it was time to consolidate all of my blogs under the No School/Old School banner.

Oh, I'll still be posting OSR material, but I'll also be devoting my blog to other games that tickle my interests (namely Traveller and Savage Worlds) along with more miniatures-related material. I'll be shutting down my old blogs as I add archive the material here.

Let the importing being!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

THIS is how you run a Traditional Gaming Group.

This evening I had to opportunity to re-visit Madison Traditional Gaming after a long absence. It used to be I would try to get in on one of their monthly Saturday sessions. Then my work schedule changed and I lost my weekends off, seriously damaging my ability to game at all. While I still don't have Saturdays and Sundays to myself, I do now have Tuesdays off. Normally, I spend them at The Game Store, chatting and painting minis with my friends, but at Gary Con, MTG's organizer Victor Raymond, invited me to come to the Tuesday night sessions at Pegasus Games they added since the last time I made the hour-long trek from Muskego to Madison.

I was not disappointed.
Pegasus' game room.

Over 30 people showed up. Six games are being run at the same time: a "0 Ed." D&D game, a WEG Star Wars game, Microlite 74, and three Savage Worlds games. ("But Savage Worlds isn't a old school game?!" It certainly is, in spirit.) Since I was only there to visit that night, I didn't get involved in any of the games. I only observed.

Victor's D&D game.
One of the major differences between Madison and Milwaukee gamers is how open and accepting the former are and how insular and cliquey the latter seem. My attempts at running similar events in my area have only brought forth less than half-a-dozen people and I found that they can be VERY particular about what they play and who they play with. Maybe it's Madison's "college town" culture, who can say?

One of the Savage Worlds game.
There was gaming fun to be had by all until 10 pm. So many people, so many games. I only wish that I my miniature painting night was sometime other than Tuesdays. If I'm going to bring about anything similar in Milwaukee, I've got a tough act to follow and a tougher row to hoe.

Sigh...OK, I'll post something.

As I had originally intended to write a in-depth run down of Gary Con and all of the fun I had. However, immediately after the con, a nasty bout of depression coupled with a chest cold sort of sapped my will to live for a while. Now it's three weeks later and I'm feeling a little better, but posting on a finished convention would seem... dull.

I will say this: as usual, Gary Con was loads of fun. I got to go to a awesome party at Frank Metzner's place; ran two games of S&W set in Mu; got TPKed by Tim Kask... again; played Cyberpunk 2020, a game I never thought I'd ever get to try; and got in my annual game of Empire of the Petal Throne run by Victor Raymond. Assuming I'm still alive next year, I'll be going yet again.

In the meantime, I'm trying to get my Milwaukee Traditional Gaming group back up and running. For the last couple of years, my insane work schedule has made it impossible to play much if anything and the group, which has always been painfully small, fell into neglect. Now my days are a little more open, and I found out that one of  Games Universe's locations is moving to a new place that's closer to home with more gaming space.  As soon as they are settled in, I intend to run games on Wednesday nights. I need to find a partner willing to run another game to give to encourage a bit of variety. From there, I hope to have several games of all sorts running at once. 

Also, my experience of running Mu at Gary Con has made me re-evaluate a few things. I'm thinking of tweaking the Magic User class a little. Lovecraftian magic out to be a powerful but physically mentally draining and prone to failure, something that doesn't really work with a traditional Vanican system. Monstrosities and abominations from beyond the boundaries of curved space-time shouldn't be so easily slain by your a mere spell-slinger with Fireball memorized a few times. You gotta work for it!

Monday, March 31, 2014

"Don't talk to me about life...'

I was going to post on Gary Con tonight and all the fun I had, but I'm feeling pretty depressed tonight and I don't really feel up to the task right now. I'll try again in a day or two.

In the meantime, I'm going to go wash my head at someone.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My OSR Superstar Entries.

Sigh, apparently I'm not an OSR Superstar after all. I feel so ashamed! (Sob!)

Anyway, now that the first stage of the competition is over, I'll post the two magical items I submitted for your perusal. Perhaps a little outside critique could tell me where I went wrong.

Circlet of the Undying:

This ornate diadem was created by a powerful necromancer as a means of preserving their intellect and power throughout the ages by transferring his mind to a younger, healthier body when the old one dies.. When placed on the head, the circlet creates a magical recording of the wearer's memories, personality, and abilities. The character must continue to wear the circlet to keep recording memories and skills, otherwise the copying process ends when it is removed or the character dies.

When an appropriate host body of the same race as the recorded mind is found, the circlet is placed upon the host's brow. The unfortunate mind of the host body is completely erased and can not be restored, while the recorded mind's takes it over. The recorded character's Class, Level, INT, WIS, and CHA at the point of the circlet's removal or the previous owner's death replace the those of the new body's. A successful saving throw stops the process for one round, giving host a chance to take it off if they are able. After the transfer is complete, the circlet crumbles to dust. The circlet can not be used on same body as the recorded mind's.

A circlet discovered as treasure has a 20% chance of being “occupied” by a recorded mind. There is no way to determine this until it is actually put on.

Monster Pots:

These small, sealed, clay pots contain the magically preserved essences of a single monster up. When the pot is broken, usually when its user smashes it against the floor or wall, it releases the trapped creature which materializes in a puff of foul smelling greenish-black smoke. The creature will serve the character who broke its pot until death or it is dismissed by it's master. The sorcerers that create such pots. Since most wizards are too insane and or arrogant to note what sort of monster is imprisoned, when the pot is broken, roll to see what creature emerges:

Roll:     Monster:
1          Goblin
2          Kobold
3          Skeleton
4          Zombie
5          Orc
6          Hobgoblin
7          Ghoul
8          Gnoll
9          Harpy
10        Ogre

BTW, Gary Con Day 0 review is forthcoming!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Coming Soon: Béthorm Kickstarter

Some of Jeff's more recent Tékumel-related art.
As many of you know, I am a Tékumel fanatic who is hopelessly in love with everything involving the late Prof. M.A.R. Barker's exotic science fantasy universe. While the system that I usually use to role-play in that setting is the classic Empire of the Petal Throne, there are three other published RPGs set in that  While EPT certainly has its old school charm, it lacks the depth and setting development the the more recent games possess. However, I found those newer games (i.e. Swords & GloryGardasiyal: Adventures on Tékumel, and Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne) to either too crunchy or too incomplete for my tastes. That, and the fact that all games but EPT are difficult to get a hold of, makes roping new players 

Well, all that is about to change.

Classic RPG artist and game designer Jeff Dee is getting ready to launch a Kickstarter for Béthorm: the Plane of Tékumel, a new RPG using his Pocket Universe rules. (Long time Tékumel fans will get the inside joke.) I've had a copy of Pocket Universe in my collection for some time now, but it's one of those many systems I've never had a chance to actually play. However, it's a very worthy game system; solid enough to deal with games more complex than simple dungeon crawls, but simple enough to pick up quickly. Béthorm could end up being my go-to RPG for Tékumel gaming from now on.

For the last year, Jeff has been running successful Kickstarters to help fund the artwork for this game. I've contributed to these campaigns and received prints of the finished product in return and I can say that I'm very impressed by the quality of Jeff's work. Jeff has said that EPT was his very first RPG and his love and enthusiasm for that setting shows in that artwork. Since I have no doubt that the same level of dedication will go into the publication of Béthorm, I will proudly contribute what I can to this project as well.

The Kickstarter is slated to launch this Wednesday, Mach 19, at 8 am CST. Let' see what we can do to make this campaign a success!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Creatures of Mu: Spawn of Yuggoth

Spawn of Yuggoth:

Hit Dice: 2
Armor Class:  9 [10]
Attacks: 2 x Pincers (1d4)
Saving Throw:  16
Special: Fear, Flight, Greater Than Human Intelligence, Weapons Resistance (See Below)
Move: 4/10 (flying)
Challenge Level/XP: 6/240

These bizarre aliens resemble nothing less than pinkish, man-sized crustaceans with a convoluted, pulpy ovoid mass covered in short cilia and antenna answering for a head. Large membranous wings sprout from their back and they have several sets of insectile limbs protruding from its underbelly. Composed of matter beyond normal human understanding and possessing an anatomy that is more fungoid than animal, they are quite resilient to damage from physical attacks. Any non-magical weapon does the minimal amount (plus any Strength bonuses) possible. They are capable of communicating with humans through a buzzing parody of our speech.

Their main abode in our solar system is a distant, dark, dwarf planet called “Yuggoth” by some priests and arcane scholars, is only a small colony of a larger interstellar civilization. Eons earlier, the Spawn of Yuggoth came to Earth and built a great city around Mount Yaddith-Gho where they mined the volcano for rare elements. With them, they brought the Great Old One, Ghatanothoa , which they kept within their mountain colony for some unguessable purpose. After many millennia, the Spawn's colony became deserted; some believe they died out, others say it was abandoned.

While they can also be adept spellcasters, paying homage to Shub Niggurath and The Crawling Chaos when their uneartlhy designs require it, their scientific knowledge is vast. Artifacts from their reign are highly prized by scholars and sorcerers, particularly the magical lagh metal which only a few human artisans have learned to sculpt and smith into weapons or other devices.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bah! Lovebug!

Like a many single nerds, I don't handle Valentine's Day well. There is just something about a day devoted to public flaunting one's sex life publically while I haven't had a girlfriend in 17 years that drives me to near-suicidal depression.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Am I an OSR Superstar?

I've decided to throw my hat into the ring for Erik Tenkar's OSR Superstar Competition. The first round is to contribute up to three new S&W magical items. Since I've been busy, I was only able to contribute two which I will post here after the competition is over. I doubt I'll get very far, but we'll see.

Wish me luck!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Meet my new Lappy.

Today's blog is coming from my brand new lap top, generously paid for through the United States government. I'll still need to intall a few things, namely a descent word processor, but otherwise I'm happy.

Now all I have to accomplish is the Herculean task of figuring out Windows 8. That should keep my busy, and aggreivated, for a while.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Creatures of Mu: Crypt Dwellers (Ghouls)

Crypt Dwellers (i.e. Ghouls):

Hit Dice: 2
Armor Class: 7
Attacks: 2 Claws (1d4), 1 bite (1d4)
Saving Throw: 16
Special: Fear
Move: 9
Challenge Level/XP 3/60

These bestial, nocturnal. humanoids are marked by their canine features, hoofed feet, and fore claws. As carrion-eaters with a taste for putrescent human flesh, they haunt burial grounds and live in subterranean crypts and tunnel systems under major cities. They have no difficulty speaking Naacal and other human languages and communicate with each other in their gibbering, meeping tongue.

While they can be vicious opponents who will occasionally attack humans, Crypt Dwellers are not necessary inimical. Crypt Dwellers have been discovered in the service of powerful sorcerers, and some have even been employed to guard the tombs of powerful priests and nobles in exchange for being allowed to feast upon the bones of lesser personages. They have even been known to assist human adventurers with whom they find common cause. Human's who are welcomed to live in their warrens have a tendency to slowly mutate into Crypt Dwellers over time. However, for the most part, they just wish to be left alone.

(Note: The Nacaal would not use the word “Ghoul” since that name is derived from Arabic, a language that will not be uttered for thousands of years to come. Terms like “Crypt Dweller,” “Carrion Eaters,” “Grave Kin” and other similar phrases are the most common names given these creatures.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Coming Soon: Nova Praxis Savage Worlds Edition!

Awesome news today from Voidstar Studios who announced yesterday that they will be porting their Transhumanist science fiction RPG Nova Praxis to Savage Worlds and they've brought on a familiar name to help:
We're proud to announce that Nova Praxis is going to be released as an officially licensed Savage Worlds campaign setting. And is that the conversion is being done in conjunction with none other than veteran Savage Worlds developer and publisher, Sean Patrick Fannon, author of Shaintar.

I have always felt that Savage Worlds needed a a more "modern" science fiction campaign setting especially after enjoying novels like Alistair Reynolds' Revelation Space and Richard K. Morgan's Altered Carbon. I own the FATE edition of Nova Praxis and I was greatly impressed by the depth and scope of the game. I just don't think that my more traditional gamer friends would be interested in the more free-form nature of the FATE system. A Savage Worlds edition would greatly open the setting to a wider audience and with Sean Patrick Fannon in the wings, we can be pretty sure that this will be a well-made conversion.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Creatures of Mu: Deep Ones

Here we're going to start to translate some of the more popular Lovecraftian creatures into stats for the Swords & Wizardry version of my Mu Campaign. I'm using Chaosium's classic Call of Cthulhu as a guide for conversion as well as S&W's monster creation rules to help create the stats. First off, let's look at those ichthyic servants of Great Cthulhu, the Deep Ones:

Deep One:
Hit Dice: 2
Armor Class 6 [13]
Attacks: 2 claws (1d4) or weapon (1d8)
Saving Throw: 16
Special: Breathes Water, Fear
Move: 6/12 (Swimming)
Challenge Level/XP: 4/120

These amphibious humanoids resemble nothing less than an obscene melding of fish, frog, and man. They tend to be gray-green with pale bellies and their long, webbed hands with razor sharp claws, scaly backs and palpitating gills slits on the sides of their necks. They are superb swimmers, but can walk on land by lopping and hoping about. Their glassy eyes never shut and their croaking, baying voices are capable of generating human speech.

Despite their obvious genetic differences, the Deep Ones are somehow capable of interbreeding with humans. At first, such hybrid offspring would initially appear human, but upon reaching adulthood will slowly begin to change into a Deep One, eventually forsaking the land joining their fellows beneath the seas. Unless killed through violence, Deep Ones are virtually immortal, dwelling for centuries in their undersea cities and praying monstrously to Cthulhu and his cohort's Da'gun and Hi'dra. They yearn for the day when they will rise up and overthrow the simian surface dwellers, paving the way for the return of their slumbering lord. They often target desperate coastal communities, offering plentiful fishing and gold in exchange for devotion to Great Cthulhu, human sacrifices, and breeding stock.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mu/Gary Con Update

Yes, I will again be gracing Gary Con with my august presence and this year I will be GMing an event:

Slavers Of The Dead 
Why do the serfs of the remote, decaying village of Ny'Cha fear the night? What sinister forces are rifling through the bones of their ancestors? Can a motley band of travelers unravel Ny'Cha's secrets before more potent horrors are unleashed upon the land? 
Welcome to Mu, the dark, bloody and decadent world of sword and sorcery adventure and Lovecraftian horror. Pre-generated characters and variant rules summaries will be provided.

I also wanted to run a Savage Worlds/Realms of Cthulhu adventure where the players take the roles of mobsters sent to the mountains of Kentucky to find out what happened to a hooch supplier. Unfortunately, that game was not approved. Oh well, far less game master drudgery for me.