Sunday, November 10, 2019

Dungeon Crawl Classics: Lightning Giants


According to Sargoo the Sapient lightning giants were originally storm giants who due to age or illness have their flesh and blood violently and painfully explode around them and only leaving a sentient lighting bolt. Sargoo further postulates that lightning giants only have a matter of hours (2d6) before their form is pulled into the sky, ending their existence.

Giant, Lightning (30' tall, 500 lbs.) for Dungeon Crawl Classics

Init +6; Atk lightning bolt +26 melee (7d8+12, range 300'); AC 20; HD 18d10; MV 60’; Act 4d20; SP immune to electrical damage, spells (+12 spell check: fly, haste, and lightning bolt , crit on 20-24; SV Fort +15, Ref +10, Will +10; AL C.



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Friday, November 8, 2019

Playing vs Game Mastering



I'm pretty lucky in the fact that, at the moment, I'm playin in three very good games, two DnD 5 and one Vampire: the Masquerade 5.

Something occurred to me while playing last night. I'm not used to all the free time at the table as a player.

I've been primarily the Game Master for close to 27 years, and obviously that means that I was 100% involved with someone the whole session.

Depending on my mood, I'll draw while the spotlight is off of me and I've tinkered a bit with my phone, but I find that the former still keeps me focused on what's happening while the latter causes me to miss things.

What's funny is that I've always been a bit annoyed when players who aren't in the spotlight seem disinterested and it's taken me this long to sympathize with them.

I guess an old dog can learn some new tricks.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

BX What If?


Recently, Mark Hunt released BX Gangbusters, a version of Gangbusters using BX DnD's rules. This led me to discover that he did something similar earlier this year with Tall Tales BX Wild West.

While I know we've seen different genres powered by Swords and Wizardry, I don't recall BX being used in different genres.

Additionally, it made me wonder what would our hobby look like if earlier versions of DnD had been available to build games on? Would Call of Cthulhu be a class and levels game? TSR's Marvel Super Heroes? The World of Darkness?

Or would these designers embrace their individuality and keep their own systems?

I don't know for sure.

I do know that TSR tried using ADnD 2E's system with Buck Rogers and Gamma World, but was that too little too late?

And, of course, we had the d20 glut after DnD 3.X and the OGL and maybe that would've occurred 15 to 20 years earlier?

I find it an intriguing game of "What If"?

Regardless of any of that though, I urge you to check Mark Hunt's BX Gangbusters and Tall Tales BX Wild West.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Review: Frayed Ends for Shadow of the Demon Lord




Robert Schwalb released Frayed Ends for Shadow of the Demon Lord on Monday. Rob and Schwalb Entertainment have been juggernauts with releases, often weekly, and the support has made Shadow of the Demon Lord a phenomenal game.

Rul, the setting of Shadow of the Demon Lords, is a dark realm that is about to face its end. One side effect of the horrors that adventurers face is Sanity loss. Frayed Ends provides six random tables filled with random Quirks to relieve a character's mind of the madness they have endured. In the core rules, a player would work with GM to determine what Quirks would develop from gaining madness. These tables replace that interaction.

First you roll a d6 to determine what table to use. Then you roll a d20 to gain a Quirk.

Let's say that my d6 roll is a 3 and my d20 roll is a 7, my result is "You believe you can fly and might try to prove it when given a chance."

Or this time my d6 is a 2 and my d20 roll is a "Whenever you see a shiny object, you must get a success on a Will challenge roll or, when you are next able, be forced to move toward that object."

I like the Quirks as an option for the GM and player to fall back on in case ideas are not forthcoming.



Monday, November 4, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Maulwurf




No. Enc.: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (30')
Armor Class: 7 (12)
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 2 (claw/claw)
Damage: 1d6/1d6 
Save: T2
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: XIX
XP: 20

Maulwurfs are omnivores from land of Faerie who cross over to Prime Material planes to observe the local flora and fauna and to pursue alternative meal to sate their strange appetite. Typically, they are most active around New Moons and there are reported sightings going back to several hundred years. Keto Battaglia, author of the Meanderings of Monsters and the highly controversial I Married a Werebadger claims that Maulwurfs are torn between voyeurism and hunger, but voyeurism wins 60% of the time.

Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants


Earlier today, Wizards of the Coast released a new Unearthed Arcana focusing on Class Feature Variants for playtesting.

I am really keen on the idea of having options to choose from when it comes to Class Features, allowing you to trade in one feature for another. I think this is a better way to help some unpopular classes (I'm looking right at you Ranger) than redoing the whole class.

However, the article also offers Class Enhancements which are buffs to that do not cost anything. It can be spells, skill options, all kind of stuff. And I'm definitely not cool with them.

I've never felt underpowered or a zero in DnD 5E. Not once. Yes, the math to encounters can be weird (in the early days, useless even) but a group of tactically minded players who understand what their role in a fight and what options work best are hard to beat in 5th Edition.

I simply view the enhancements as power creep and if they do appear in a product, I doubt I'll let them be used.

However, I urge you to take a look yourself and judge for yourself.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Mythras Imperative Superheroes



I've been on a D100 system kick for a bit now, mostly due to my ideas to develop a variant D100 system. While looking over what is available, I was very pleased to see that The Design Mechanism, whose RuneQuest 6th Edition became Mythras, have a pretty good collection of settings available. They are chugging along quite nicely and honestly, I'm not that used to such a schedule from D100 game publishers.

They released an adventure, Agony and Ecstasy, which focuses on modern superheroes and must have been a bit of a test for a forthcoming full superhero game using Mythras.

For those who have not purchased Agony and Ecstasy, the free Mythras Imperative has been updated with Magic and Super Power rules. The rules are abbreviated, but they work quite nicely.

One of my dissatisfactions with superhero games are that, generally, buckets of dice are required for damage. I love Champions but you have to roll buckets of dice AND count them for Stun, Body, and Knockback. When I was 19 I had time to do that. Even at 35, I could make the time. At 47? Naw, leave it to the whipper-snappers.

As an example, the Mythras Imperative superhero rules for Energy Blast default to 1d6 to 1d12, depending on a character's POW, but the character may spend 2 Power Points boost the Energy Blast by an additional die.

It's EXACTLY what I have been looking for. Or at least, based on these rules it is.

I'm really looking forward to this project, which at this time is being called Destined.

I've been rereading my own copy of Mythras recently and I'm pretty psyched.

Hopefully this project will be out before the end of 2020.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Back in the OSR: Maggie for Silent Legions


+


AC: 9
HD: 2
Atks: Bite + Weapon +4 

Dmg: 1d6 + Weapon
Skill: +1
Special: Hulking 

Move: 30'
Morale: 8
Madness: 1d4
Save: 14+


The creature known as Maggie haunts the halls of St. Eligius Hospital. Some say she is the ghost of Maggie Saunders, a teacher who came into the ER with food poisoning, who then died due to medical negligence. Others say that she is mentally ill patient who escaped from the 9th floor several years ago. The Hospital's board knows the truth, Maggie was summoned in their Morgue by Dr. Illyana Kiev, using a copy of the Necronmicon she downloaded off of 8chan. Dr. Kiev's sanity had shattered when her twin sister, Magda or "Maggie" for short, committed suicide. Illyana and Magda shared a psychic link so she felt Maggie die and could here her whispering to her, pleading for her sister to rescue her from "this cold, dark, evil place". 

Video cameras showed Illyana mutilated several corpses and create a summoning circle with her own blood. They captured the 3 hour ritual and showed "Maggie" literally break through the Morgue's floor in a tide of ectoplasm and blood.

The video clearly shows the being thought to be Maggie beat Dr. Kiev's head in on one of the Morgue's sinks and then use the bone saw to cut her up and stack her like cord wood.

Then Maggie simply stepped into the north wall of the Morgue.

There is no predicting when Maggie will come out of the walls of the Hospital, but whenever she does someone within the Hospital dies violently.

To make matters worse, every membera of the Hospital staff that viewed the surveillance footage of Maggies's summoning killed themselves within 48 hours. 


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Review: Icons Presents



Icons Presents is described as "kind of a sequel to Icons A to Z" and presents "an alphabet soup" of options for Icons Superhero Roleplaying: Assembled Edition. The PDF is 142 pages long, the art is by the awesome Dan Houser and written by Steve Kenson. A PDF of Icons Assembled was given to for review purposes.

I've always been fascinated by Icons and Steve Kenson has, in my opinion, a spiritual successor to TSR's Marvel Super Hero RPG (AKA FASERIP), with Dan Houser's art being truly on point.

Armed Forces and their weaponry are covered in this chapter. We are given stats for vehicles used by Land Forces, Sea Forces, Air Forces, and Special Forces (in this case battlesuits and drones).

Next come Countdown to Doomsday!, which walks you through choosing a your game's Apocalypse. Are you just destroying civilization, life on earth, the earth, or everything? And what motivates your villain? Are they bluffing about what they are willing to do? Are they seeking power by sacrificing countless lives? Are they looking to protect a planet from those who endanger it? Are they simply trying to make sure that no matter what they survive? These questions really help you plan your campaign. There are three chapters to your Doomsday Scenario: the looming threat comes first and allows your heroes to become aware of the threat they are facing. The gathering storm is second and can be the longest of the three chapters, it allows the heroes to beginning fighting the main villain and gain insight into what they are trying to destroy. Finally, the final confrontation is the climax where the heroes make their stand, but will they succeed or fail? Failure is explored in this section and expands on how the heroes can move forward and what they might be able to do to pick of the pieces.

Deities and Demigods explores playing or interacting with the gods and their children. It helps you decide who and what the gods are in your game and then explores appropriate Divine Abilities, including Attributes and the various powers, specialties, and qualities they might have. A template is provided as a basis for a god. The differences between demi-gods, divine heroes, divinely empowered and the divinely created are highlighted. And the interaction between god and mortals is explored.

Enemy mine explores the roles of villains. Are they the twisted reflection of a hero, are they equal but opposite to them, the all-important nemesis, or merely an adversary with no restrictions to their theme? Team villains also get spotlighted.

Fists of fury details martial arts and explores if they are Ability or Quality driven, how to use martial art Qualities, explores Maneuvers, explores tactics where the character makes a sacrifice in order to gain a benefit, and presents some martial art Powers.

Icons of infamy presents how to run the bad guys in your campaign. Have all the heroes been defeated and it requires the villains to step up and fight the good fight? And if they win will they continue to work together? Or would you like to run a game inspired by Suicide Squad? Are the new heroes in town really villains in disguise like Marvel Comics' Thunderbolts? Have you ever wanted to be a part of a villain school like the Hellions in the X-Men universe? Are you the type of villain that would help going after worse villains? Is your hero posing as a villain to get on the inside of a sinister team or organization? Or have your heroes been wrongly dubbed outlaws and have to operate illegally to prove their innocence? All of these scenarios are covered in this chapter.

Minions and Masterminds outlines different ways to treat henchman, rivals, masterminds, and menaces within the Icons rules.

Panels vs pages give advice on how to tell your stories, including help with advanced techniques such  as flashbacks, foreshadowing, interludes, retcons. There are also some great tips on handling events, arcs, and even imaginary stories in your campaign.

Situational qualifiers covers Advantages, Trouble, Limited Qualifiers, Place-Based Qualifiers, Time-Based Qualifiers, Status-Based Qualifiers and how to handle Qualities in play.

The space patrol explores handling sci-fi settings such as DC's Tommy Tomorrow or cosmic police al a the Green Lantern Corps.

Sword and sorcery handles using Icons for a fantasy game or moving your heroes to a fantasy setting. New character creation options are presented and common fantasy monsters are presented.

Taking initiative gives new options including variant Abilities for initiative, rolling for initiative each round, who goes first, declared actions, round robin initiative, card-based initiative, bidding for initiative, tiered initiative, and one-shot conflicts.

Tell me the odds presents the dice probabilities of Icons and presents several dice rolling variants.

The world is mine presents schemes for villains to use and include conquest, extortion, mind control, and altering reality. Then we are presented how to rule the world once your scheme succeeds.

The unobtanium factor explores materials like adamantium, Nth metal, and tritanium that permeate comics. Their properties and origins are explored and several examples are presented.

Vigilantes and Villains concludes the book and coverer street-level heroes, their foes, and the gray areas they face. Additionally, new character creation rules, rules options, and tools of the trade are explored.

There is a lot to love about Icons Presents and I think it can help breathe new life into an existing game or help a fledgling Game Master craft their tale. I heartily recommend it and find it a great expansion for Icons.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

City of Solstice: Channeling Magic for the OSR





Charles Rice has outdone himself with City of Solstice: A Setting for OSR Fantasy Campaigns. As I've read over the setting I'm reminded of Lankhmar or Sanctuary, he's built a thrilling, dangerous, and gritty place either set your campaign in or to stop by for a change of pace.

Charles describes Solstice as where "noir crime fiction and old-school fantasy gaming meet." And it is completely true in my opinion.

One feature that I want to focus on is how magic is channeled within the city.  The Star Society are five criminal organizations who essentially took over the city from the Kingdom of Annwyn several years ago. In exchange for not harming the King's niece and Lord Toren, Solstice is in the Star Society's hands.

While traditional vancian magic is predominant throughout the rest of the Kingdom, only members of the Star Society may employ it and own wands, staves, and rods within the city. For anyone else it is against the law.

Channeling uses Mana Power (hereafter referred to as MP), not spell slots.  When casting a spell, the caster generates 1d4 x level each turn in MP. The MP required to cast a spell is 5 x spell level. If a caster doesn't generate enough MP to cast a spell they may taken another round to generate it, however, once a caster stops generating MP it is immediately reduced to zero.

So a 3rd level Magic-User would generate 3d4 MP per turn and would need 5 MP to cast a 1st level spell or 10 MP to cast a 2nd level spell.

It is possible to interrupt a caster while channeling by dealing damage equal to or greater than the MP that has been channeled thus far, doin so prevents the casting of the spell.

Additionally, if a caster is interrupted, but has generated 10 or more MP, and is attacked physically, the spell deals 1d4 x level of the spell with  the caster taking 1/2 the damage generated and the attacker takeing the other half. But, if a caster is interrupted by magic then everyone in a 30 foot radius takes 1d4 x level of the spell damage.

Extra MP over what is needed to cast the chosen spell may be used to alter the spell. Each additional 10 MP can be used to increase the Caster's level by 1, gain +1 per die of healing or damage, apply a -2 to a creature's saving throw, or increase the range of the spell by 20 feet, increase the area effect of the spell by 10 feet. For every 5 MP over what is needed the Caster may add +2 to the healing or damage of the selected spell.

Casters may generated more MP by using a focus, such as a wand, to generate additional 1d6 to 9d6 depending on the level of the focus. A Caster adds their primary spellcasting Ability modifier (Int for Magic-Users, Wis for Clerics, etc.) to the MP generated with a focus.

I'm really excited to use this system and hope to use Solstice as a setting very soon.

It's still on Kickstarter if you want to back this excellent OSR setting.

Monday, October 28, 2019

This Makes Me Sad and Angry At the Same Time


I was on a Forum earlier today where someone posted they didn't like using sentient beings as antagonists and were deeply offended by the stereotypical treatment of orcs and goblins and their obvious parallels to minorities.

WTF?!

First, when I run for younger players, I often use robots or golems or whatever because most of the time I'm running at a local library and don't know them. I decided that non-living enemies were more palatable and didn't promote bad behavior. I might be mistaken, it just makes me more comfortable. For the poster on the Forum I mentioned, I get that. I really do.

Second, I think if you look at a made-up race in a game of make believe with rules and see a certain ethnicity in that made-up race, then you probably shouldn't be playing RPGs. I think that you are troubled and maybe this hobby has exacerbated other problems in your life. Or, well, you are a bigot.

As a gamer, I have had different preferences from the RPGs I've played in the last three decades. At the beginning it was fresh and new and I couldn't game enough. Then I became obsessed with being the best Game Master in the world. After that I focused on telling stories and spotlighting characters. My obsession with game design followed that. Up next were the Story Games, like Thirty, InSpectres, and Spirit of the Century. I eventually discovered the OSR and realized that things I though were bugs were really features to me in this era of game design. Then I started this blog and that led to Cross Planes Game Studio being a modest success. At this point in my life, gaming is about hanging out with good people, laughing, blowing off steam, and rolling dice. That's what I want out of a RPG these days.

Yes, we fight orcs...and humans, deep ones, alligators, elves, etc. in my games. None of them are based on real world stereotypes. I'm not promoting violence against a segment of the real world's population in some king of metaphor. The Players, hopefully, are the Good Guys and they kill the Bad Guys, whoever they might be. That's it. No deeper meaning. Just hanging out.

Now, I do run modern games, but we don't tread on stereotypes in those games either because it's not who we are. It's for the same reason we fade to black if romance is in the air. That is not what we are at my table to do. You can do whatever you want at your table, I get that. But if you see ethnic stereotypes in the portrayal of orcs, I feel bad for you and I don't want you at my table.

Monstrous Monday: Werespider for Labyrinth Lord



Lycanthope
Werespider for Labyrinth Lord

No. Enc.: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 150' (50')
Armor Class: 5 (14)
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 2d4 
Save: F4
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: XX


XP: 190

Werespiders are the creation of Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders, she altered lycanthropy so that this strain will affect humans and elves. Any other race that contracts the disease dies in 2d6 days.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Foelio: Cherumbra for Labyrinth Lord


The Dark Powers control the Demi-Plane of Dread and Desire, known as Ravenloft, but their unholy servants are sent out to find heroes and villains that their mists may draw in.



No. Enc.: 1 (1d3)
Alignment: Lawful (evil)
Movement: 150' (50')
Armor Class: 5 (14)
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: 2
Damage: 1d6+2, special
Save: F6
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: XVII
XP: 790

Cherumbras may only be struck with magical weapons. They will surprise on a surprise check roll of 1-5 on 1d6. When a shadow successfully attacks an opponent, the victim suffers 1d6 hit points of damage, and 1 point of STR is drained for 8 turns. Should a being be drained to STR 0, their soul is destroyed and may not be resurrected.

Campaign Trail: Creature Commandos



Believe it or not, I occasionally wax nostalgic for Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition. I happen to think it would make a great superhero RPG. 

To that end, the last time I used it, was to run a Creature Commandos inspired adventure in a World War II that never was.

I don't own the DnD 4 books digitally, but I think the Radiance Player's Guide: A Complete Roleplaying Game in the Age of Electrotech (it's free, yes, FREE) is a good substitute.

It's got steampunk, magic, and tons of Classes (30). Even better, the Radiance Expansion Kit has even more Classe (21) and it also includes Immortals (14) that are templates worth for levels you can start the game with or acquire through play. The Immortals happen to include Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts, Gargoyles and even Franken Golems, among others.

I'm really thinking about trying to give this a spin for another run at Creature Commandos.  

It's August 1947 and the Axis powers now include the Elves of Alfheim, who came out of hiding in 1939 to support the Final Solution and the Dero who joined up in 1941, and were promised North and South America once the Allies were defeated. The U.S. Navy has even claimed that some amphibious humanoids are working with the Japs. And to make matters worse, the Axis has also discovered Challenger's Lost World and are enchanting and unleashing dinosaurs on the Allied forces.

Thankfully the Brits and their allies expanded Operation Cone of Power and have used the OSS to deploy some unusual agents in Europe. 

Those agents are known as the Witch-Hammers and are led by Captain Phillip Byron. The 'Hammers features some rather unusual recruits, a werewolf, a sorcerer, a revenant, a man of God, and an ancient robot. 

The Top Brass are very excited about the Witch-Hammers first mission proving a success and preventing a newly unearthed spell scroll that would summon and control the legendary Valkyrie from reaching the Fuhrer himself.

Rumors even say the Brass have figured out what those Foo Fighters really are flying around dogfights and might even have several of them in custody from an incident over in New Mexico.

Things are dark, but the dawn may be just around the corner.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Character Building: Making a Godbound




Needles, over at Sword and Stitchery, has been writing about his Godbound and Cha'alt campaign set in Las Veas and it has me really intrigued me (truthfully all of his posts intrigue me, he's like an idea machine).

While I have purchased several games from Kevin Crawford, I've never played or GM'd one. To that end I decided to make a Godbound.

It took me about 35 minutes and it was interesting. I'm assuming the Exalted-vibe is a feature and not a bug, I never cared for Exalted and felt it was way too crunchy for my tastes. Godbound is filled with excellent ideas and the more read of Kevin's stuff, the more awestruck I become.

One of my favorite mechanics (of many) are Facts, I find them similar to 13th Age's Backgrounds, and very elegant.


Terrence "Ren" Mourn
Level 1

Abilities       Score   (Modifier)  [Check]
Strength          11         (+0)           [10]
Dexterity        10         (+0)           [11]
Constitution   12         (+0)            [9] 
Wisdom          17        (+2)            [4]
Intelligence    16         (+2)            [5]
Charisma         9         (+0)            [12]

Hit Points    8

Saving Throws
Hardiness   15
Evasion      13
Spirit          13

Effort           2

Influence      2

Equipment
Light Armor AC 7
Light weapon 1d6 damage

Facts
I grew up at the Library in High Justice
I plundered the Tombs of Ng Qa
I am considered a traitor by the Vermillion

Words
Knowledge
   Omniscient Scholar (G)
Sorcery
   Adept of the Gate (L)
   Wizard's Wrath (L)
   Adept of the Way (G)
Wealth

Invocations of the Gate
   Glyph of Crowned Impunity
   Kiss of the Crane
   Sunder the Lesser Spell
   The Tireless Iron Cavalcade

Invocations of the Way
   Deafening Word of Truth
   Glyph of Crowned Impunity   
   Sunder the Greater Spell

   



Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Review: Scheherazade The One Thousand and One Nights



I was given a PDF copy of Scheherazade The One Thousand and One Nights RPG by Umberto Pignatelli and Spaceorange42 for review purposes.


I want to point how stellar the book's layout and art is in this 171 page PDF. Both are beautiful and very evocative of the setting presented in Schereazade.

In the Introduction we learn that Player Characters in this game are folks that Schereazade met and that they told their tale to her. I find this a really cool set-up and it ties into the game's central goal: determine what happened to Schereazade and possibly wake her up to save the Caliphate of the Eternal Moon.

Schereazade is powered by the Unique System: The ranks of two Attributes and a Concept (if applicable) are added together and that many d6s are rolled, a 4 or better is a success and if you equal or exceed the Difficulty (from 1 to 10) then your action is successful. Additionally, one of the dice in the pool has to be a different color, it's value cannot be changed by Unique Gifts and if it rolls a 1, something negative occurs even on a successful roll. Further, if it rolls a 6, something positive occurs even on a negative roll.

The character creation chapter introduces us to Schereazade's three Attribute couples: Power and Precision, Courage and Caution, Passion and Reason. Resources is it's own Attribute.
   Characters have 12 Marks to spend on Concept, Attributes, and to acquire Magic by spending 2 Marks to buy the Gifted Status. You can roll on a table to randomly choose a Concept.
   Secondary Attributes are Life (hit points) and Energy (which powers magic).
   Next a Unique Gift is either created or rolled on a table and has two numbers associated with it. The first is the scope of Your Gift and the second is the Rank of your Gift. In the end a Unique Gift should like this: When the [Scope applies] I can do [the Rank of the Gift]. Here is an example, "I am really strong, I can expend Energy to have extra dice in feats of strength" or "I can become an animal once per session". It kind of reminds me of 13th Age's One Unique Thing, but it has a mechanical effect.
   Each character starts with 1 Moon point, they are very rare and very special and may be used reroll dice or create a story element. A PC can only have up to 4 of them a time and they can be earned by saving someone's life while risking your own, being really heroic, finding an outstanding solution to a problem, or telling a story between rests even between sessions. 
   Your character begins play with clothes and three pieces of equipment. Finally, you can create connections with another PC and reveal how they knew Schereazade.

Treasure obviously may be found during an adventure and are treated as Treasure Points, a special type of experience point. The can be spent to place Marks in resources or "burned" to "buy" a very costly item.

Gear in Scheherazade is handled Keyword Points that can have a positive or negative effect in game. Keywords range from Frail (an negative) to Entangling to Defense. It's an interesting concept and allows you to create items better suited to your character.

Casting spells requires the spellcaster to a set amount of Energy, may have special Components, and has both a Duration and a Range. I found the spells available to be useful and flavorful for the setting.

The running the game chapter has good advice for game masters of any level of experience and advises a "Session Zero" to start a game off and focuses on Campaign planning, hooks and focus, and special situations.

Opponent keywords and stat boxes are presented next and are appropriate to the setting. We have antagonists like Cannibals, Fire Jackal, and Skeletal Warrior.

The Story of the Goat, the Glutton, and the Shepherd is a beginning adventure and good introduction to setting. I will gladly use it for my first adventure playing Scheherazade.

This is a great game, it has compelling mechanics and feels authentic for the setting it presents. I heartily recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Aladdin, One-Thousand and One Nights, or Al Quadim.


Monday, October 21, 2019

Monster Monday: Arachnoviper for Labyrinth Lord



Arachnoviper for Labyrinth Lord
AL N MV 60' AC 6, HD 4, #AT 3 (leg, tail, bite), 
THAC0 16, DG 1d6, SV 6 cleric, ML 9,  XP 135

When a creature is bit by an arachnoviper it must make Saving Throw vs Poison or take 1d4 damage.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Campaign Trail: Master of the Universe




I'm sure that I am like many Game Masters and have far more ideas than I have time to actually run. Campaign Trails is how I will share those ideas and have them written down in case I actually get a chance to run them.

I've been a huge fan of Masters of the Universe since 1981 when I discovered them at my local Kay-Bee toy store.

The pitch for this version of Eternia has Skeletor and the Horde triumphing over He-Man and his allies. Skeletor has taken Castle Grayskull as his headquarters, trapped the Sorceress in demonic mirror, and has imprisoned the few surviving Masters of the Universe in the dungeons of Grayskull.

In this version of Eternia, Hordak and Skeletor came up with a scheme in which the Horde committed all of their forces to attack Etheria, requiring She-Ra to ask for help from her brother, He-Man. However, Skeletor had brokered a deal with Darkdream to cross over to Etheria and trap that realm in eternal darkness. Meanwhile, the Horde attack was merely a ruse and all of the Horde forces attack Eternia unexpectedly. 

Skeletor had discovered a spell that would seal Etheria off from Etnernia, but it required a humanoid sacrifice. Skeletor and Hordak knew that Horde Prime would want to be on Eternia to witness He-Man and She-Ra's defeat and the taking of Eternia. However, Skeletor and Hordak conspired against Horde Prime and used him as the sacrifice to seal the two worlds apart. It was at this point that Hordak attacked Skeletor, which the demon was expecting. In secret he had his Havoc Staff enchanted by Darkdream, which when broken would transfer a single target, in this case Hordak, to Eternia's Dark Moon.

Nearly two decades after his conquest, Skeletor rules Eternia and the entire Horde as the Master of the Universe. A small band of rebels challenges his rule, aided by Faker, whose android body holds Roboto's artificial intelligence. 

I think I'd run this with Godbound, the Heroic Fantasy Handbook for Adventurer, Conqueror, King, or even DnD 4E.

I've never run any of Kevin Crawford' games and I find Godbound very intriguing.

Icons: Assembled Edition: Devil's Night



Our regular DM had the flu last night and I stepped up to run something. I was kind of set on Goodman's Games' new Halloween Module Creep, Skrag, Creep, but after reading it, it was really similar to our last play session.

I've been thinking about running a superhero game and I saw that Steve Kenson's Ad Infinitum Adventures had several Halloween adventures available for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying: the Assembled Edition. I bought Devil' Night and then reread Icons.

I was a bit disappointed in Devil's Night because it is very similar to the Halloween Episode of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer in Season 2.  Not a total rip-off, Steve Kenson wouldn't do that, but several members of our group are HUGE Buffy fans and it quickly felt familiar to them. In all honesty, I usually would have changed some stuff, but I was trying to teach the system to the group and remember all the pertinent rules. I was disappointed in my Game Mastering skills, I was pretty rusty and it showed. I think everyone had a good time though.

I've run a lot of superhero RPGs and Icons is pretty straightforward. I used the Archetypes in Icons: Origins, so we had a Paragon, Crimefighter, Mentalist, and Energy Projector.

Overall, it wasn't my best outing. I think I'd like to try Icons again, with more prep time. Right now, I have a similar problem with Icons that I have Mutants & Masterminds, which that everything feels the same. I never really felt that with DC Heroes or Champions, but I haven't run those in at least a decade, if not two.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Remembering Steve



I found tonight that an old friend of mine, Steve, had passed on Monday. Apparently, he was at a gaming convention with a buddy over the weekend and didn't feel very good. When he returned home on Monday, he had a lethal heart attack.

He was right around my age, so under 50. Too young. Way too young. He leaves a daughter behind.

Sadly, as things happen, life gets in the way and we drifted apart. He moved to Louisville, KY and I believe he was engaged and his fiancee had a son. I wish I knew more. I feel bad I don't know more.

When I was dating my now wife, Steve occasionally got to play in the Legend of the Five Rings 1st Edition game I ran (at one point 17 people were playing, I think the only reason I could handle that is because I was showing off to my wife who loved Rokugan and thankfully, me). He was a manager at a local restaurant, and we played on fridays, and those two things don't really mix well.

I think I was 25 when I met him. I really respected who he was and I always felt he did the same for me. 

We might not see each other for weeks, but we would reconnect when we saw each other and the time didn't seem to matter.

I remember that he loved playing Rogues/Thieves in DnD/ADnD. He was a very obnoxious Rogue, always stealing from the party. While I already loved Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane when I met him (for me Roy Thomas and John Buscema were Conan for me), he introduced me to Robert E. Howard's work and we had a mutual interest in Lovecraft. For those that don't know, Howard was born in Cross Plains, TX and this blog's name is derived from that, in celebration of Howard's pulp stories and in homage, to Sigil. He also loved miniatures games, Warhammer Fantasy and Savage Worlds. His favorite films were The Whole Wide World and Bubbahotep, but he was a film buff as well. We could talk for hours about movies and fiction. He was an intelligent, kind, and good person.

As my wife and I were getting more serious, he and his now ex-wife were too. I was an Usher in his wedding and she was my wife's Maid of Honor.  For several years, Me and Priscilla, Steve and Marcy, and Randy and Wanda were inseparable. But you drift apart. Steve and Marcy had a daughter and divorced, and I'm not sure he ever got over her.  Randy and Wanda faced some personal tragedy and after having two kids, they divorced too.

You always think that you'll get back to a friend eventually. And then you can't.

Steve, I hope you find time in the afterlife to sit down and talk with Howard and Lovecraft. You were a good friend, a mensch, and you will be missed.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Review: Savage Company Recruit Orientation Guide



The Savage Company Recruit Orientation Guide is a Free PDF that introduces you to the Savage Company Setting from SHM Publishing that is now on Kickstarter.

The SCROG PDF is designed for the Pathfinder 1st Edition rules, however the Savage Company Setting is designed for Pathfinder 1E and Dungeons and Dragons 5E.

The SCROG is 65 pages, full color with good art and an excellent layout that allows you to play in a military Sci-Fi setting with the PF1 rules.

The guide opens by introducing us to the Savage Company itself, that began it's existence as a mercenary company for orcs and half-orcs. As the business flourished the Company set up base on Tombstone and anyone who wanted honest work killing people was welcome.

We are introduced to Tombstone, the hub of the Company and its environs.

Next we are introduced to 8 new races for Pathfinder 1st Edition: Baade, Kemano, Lobstross, Savage Bugbear, Savage Hobgoblin, Savage Kobold, Savage Orc, and Skeletal.  Baade are intimidating red-skinned creatures, Kemano have concealable animal traits, and Lobstross are large aquatic creatures. The races are built in the format of the Advanced Race Guide for PF1.

Following that is a chapter detailing 19 Archetypes ranging from Infantryman to Hexslinger to Zen Gunman.

Three new Feats are presented next.

The PDF is rounded out by nine pages of weapons, vehicles, and equipment. The list presented easily covers things you'd need to test out the Savage Company setting.

I think the SCROG does a great job of interesting you to the setting and the tone of the types of adventures you would experience in a Military Sc-Fi setting. I enjoyed reading the PDF and encourage everyone to download to check it out, I mean it's free.

I'd recommend this to fans of PF1 and DnD5 who want to shake up either game with a Sci-Fi bend.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Monster Monday: Headless Horseman for Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars




"The Headless Horseman failed to kill Ichabod Crane in the encounter "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is based on. Townspeople found Crane's horse and pieces of pumpkin the next morning. Crane crawled ashore and later started a family. He had a son and 20 years later, he, too, was chased by the Horseman. Ever since then, he pursued the family with each new generation."


Today on The Other Side Blog, Tim posted the Zugarramurdi Brujas using the Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars stat box. I figured I'd follow his lead and try my hand at it.


Headless Horseman for Night Shift
No. Appearing: 1
AC: 4
Move: 60ft.
Hit Dice: 5
Special: Any creature that this ghost chases must make a Constitution Saving throw or have their Move reduced by 5 ft. and take 1d6 damage; Once per night, the Horseman can throw his helmet at a target that deals 2d6 damage on a hit.
Weakness: Water is a natural ionizing agent and causes a sudden drop in the Horseman's power

Review: Gunzo! Operation Bug Hunt for Dungeon Crawl Classics


I'm a big fan of Eric Bloat and Bloat Games line of products. He was kind enough to give me an advance PDF copy of Gunzo! Operation: Bug Hunt for Dungeon Crawl Classics for review purposes, it was written by Eric with additional writing by James Spahn.

OBH is a military space setting for DCC that is designed to emulate movies like Aliens, Predator, and  Starship Troopers and comes in at 56 pages.

The art for OBH is well done and channels the setting perfectly.

The PDF opens with some fiction and moves into the five new Classes for the setting.  We are introduced the Combat Medic (healers with the ability to install cybernetics), Engineer (they repair and disable machinery and try to figure out what alien tech does), Grunt (the soldiers with boots on the ground and weapon specialists), Pilot (their piloting skills also cover ranged combat), and Robot (they have packages that they can take that cover combat, diplomacy, mechanical operations, and medical care, additionally they have a self-repair feature).

Next we go over starting cash, and appropriately your rank indicates your pay, except for Robots who don't get paid.

New armor, gear and weapons are presented to and allow the PCs to travel the universe, killing their enemies before they can launch an asteroid at Buenos Aires.  We are given heavy army whose laser reclective plates protect the wearer from all forms of attack to ion whips to grenade launchers. Your players will have plenty to spend their pay on.

The cybernetics chapter opens by letting the GM decide if their is a limit to how many cybernetics a character can have and then covers all the parts necessary to upgrade you to major badass.

The horrors of war are also covered with a section for Pressure and Shell Shock. If you gain too much Pressure you have to roll on the Shell Shock table where you can just start killing any living beings around you to simply losing your next action. I'm glad Eric included this, because it reminds you that your character isn't just a killing machine and all of these operations have long term effects on your psyche.

We are given a random Bug Generator to help the overtaxed GM keep things unique and interesting.  Several of the tables use D16s and d14s so make sure you have your DCC dice handy.

OBH ends with a bestiary of your favorite cinematic horrors and the art is very well done.

Eric gives you everything you need to run the Mobile Infantry or Space Marines (the ones from Aliens) in a tight package.  You could easily hang out watching any of the films that inspired OBH and then make some characters and be playing within a half an hour.  You can't ask for more than that.

The Dungeon Crawl Classics Rulebook is necessary to play Operation: Bug Hunt.

This is another home run for me  I urge you to pick it up when it releases.





Saturday, October 12, 2019

Back This: City of Solstice: A Setting for OSR Fantasy Campaigns




I'm a big fan of Charles Rice's RPGs and, in fact, his was the first blog I followed as he pulled back the veil of game design and shared the development of the projects with his fans.


He's made some great stuff, especially for the OSR, including the Akhara setting, OSRIC Unearthed, Old School Psionics, Old School Magic, and Old School Class: Necromancer.


The other day, his Apocalyptic Games launched his first Kickstarter, City of Solstice: A Setting for for OSR Fantasy Games.


I'm a big fan of using an urban setting to play DnD or OSR games from Lankhmar to Sanctuary to Sigil to my own Jarlsburg.


And after reading the Quickstart, which easily breakdowns the City and its movers and shakers, I'm pretty anxious to use it as soon as possible.


Backers get access to the Quickstart, which is a 51 page PDF that goes over the Cities' history, the five rival criminal organizations that rule it, new Classes, new Magic Items, and an Adventure.


First, the PDF opens with this: "You are not adventurers.They’re dead."


I really appreciate that statement. It sets the stage for the locale and the type of campaign it's designed for. Solstice is broken, decadent, and well past saving. And the Players take the role of members of the Vigilant, the cities' corrupt guards who are not "adventurers" but "have a duty" to carry out.


Ten years ago, Solstice experienced the Black Night, when a hight priestess of the Moon rallied 4 other criminal organizations to storm the Earl's castle and he trades his life and that of his life, spared the lives of his brother and daughter, and handed over the city to those organization, known as the Star Society.


Since that night five proclamations have been issued: First, weapons are restricted. Second, armor is restricted. Third, magic is restricted. Fourth, religion is restricted. Fifth, criminal organizations will be killed on site, well, all except those that are a part of the Star Society.


Those proclamations certainly cover the four "core" classes and set the tone for how bleak this place is, in my opinion.


The five members of the Star Society are: the Church of Mother Moon which is dedicated to the Moon Goddess, the Nizari are mercenaries, the Sagittarius Sect were an embattled thieves guild that now operates publicly as the bowyer's guild, the Order of Antares which was formed by saboteurs and assassins, and the Five Forms who are ascetics from the East.


New and altered Classes are presented, as well: the Anti-Paladin, the Arcane Channeler which doesn't use vancian magic and neither does this setting, a new version of the Bard, the Divine Channeler which, like the Arcane Channeler, doesn't use vancian magic, the Martial Artist, the Mercenary Captain, the Mystic, the Noble, a variant Thief class, the Zodiac Channeler (specialist magic-users), and the Zodiac Knight.


Solstice spellcasters don't have "spell slots" they draw their power from their environment with the aid of certain magic items specific to the class.


Several magic items are also introduced and is followed by the Wards of Solstice, which gives a great overview of each part of the City and some of it's notable inhabitants.


The Quickstart ends with an 11 page adventure to introduce your group to Solstice and I can't wait to run it.


I won't lie to any of you, I've been a big fan of Charles' work for years, from Modern20 to this OSR stuff to AZ: After Zombies. But this is a great setting and I've only seen 51 pages of it. I think it's a great concept and respectfully channels Lankhmar and Sanctuary, while also separating itself in the process.


I urge you back Solstice here.

Running Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars Quickstart



Last night our regular DM and a couple of players couldn't make it, so the three remaining players picked out pregens from the Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars Quickstart and we gave it a spin.

Let me state from the get go that if you are familiar with ADnD or any of the OSR games, you already know how to play this game.

As a refresher, Night Shift focused on three mechanics. First, is an ability check/attack roll/saving throw using a D20 where you add your ability modifier (which can have a bonus that increases as you level) or attack bonus and try to equal or exceed 20. 

Second, skills are percentiles, ala thief skills, and our modified by how difficulty the task is. So, if I have a Climb Walls of 55% and the DM feels that it's a level 3 challenge, I would subtract 15% (3 x 5%), I would end up with a 40% chance.

Third, there are times that, if no other skill or ability seems to apply, I can roll a d6 and I succeed on a 1 or 2. Per the Quickstart this is the default, for instance, if a player doesn't have an appropriate skill to use and the DM still wants give them a chance.

The PCs were:
Leo Derleth, the Fey (Veteran)

Jaimie Concord, the Chosen One

Dirk Pascal, the Veteran

The game went great and we were up and rolling in less than 20 minutes.

The rules easily handled investigation, social interaction and cinematic combat. If I had any uncertainty on what type of check was appropriate, I'd just have the PC or NPC roll a d6 and look for a 1 or 2. I felt secure as a DM running this system with very little prep time -- just a reading of the rules and the adventure.

NPCs and Enemies are easy to use, you simply add their Hit Dice value to any D20 checks they make. This allowed me, as the GM, to easily create some ally or enemy NPCs on the fly.

Due to the player's actions, I had an encounter that wasn't in the Quickstart and by simply figuring out the NPCs Hit Dice, I had their Hit Points, D20 bonus, and quickly figured out their AC, which defaults to 9.

I also felt the action was pretty dynamic, it was easy to run a small horde of bikers, hellhounds, and a Big Boss that outnumbered and challenged the PCs, while at the same time the their class abilities really channeled the action of the TV shows that inspired this game in the first place. At one point, the Chosen One was hanging from the side of the rooftop and facing a demon and the Player wanted to break free and then grab a window seal and smash through instead of falling to the concrete below. A simple opposed Strength check and a well time 1 on a d6 handled the action easily and had everyone at the table pumped.

I also want to highlight Fate Points and their uses. The Chosen One entered they fray on the rooftop 2 rounds sooner than the Fey and the Veteran and got pretty beat up extremely fast. Thanks to Fate points was able to activate Second Wind on one round, Righteous Rage on the next, and another Second Wind on the third round. Fate points were a great way to emulate the genre perfectly and allowed less flashy characters, like the Sage, to shine in the game alongside the Chosen One and the Fey.

To top it all off, we played the adventure in just under 2-1/2 hours. Night Shift is certainly a rules set you are probably intimately familiar with, but it's innovations channel the genre appropriately and highlight some of the recent innovations of contemporary game design.

I cannot recommend backing this game enough and taking the Quickstart for a spin.

Back this game right now!


Friday, October 11, 2019

Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars: Playing a Monster



I'm extremely excited for Jason Vey and Timothy Brannan's Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars Kickstarter. It takes Old School ADnD-style rules and merges it with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, and Charmed. It's a setting that we all love with a rule's set we all know.

Thanks to the kindness of Jason and Tim, I've gotten a small glimpse of the game. Most of the characters in the game are Humans, but the Supernatural race/species is available. 

I think it is ingenious that the Supernatural allows you to pick and choose abilities to build a Fey, Vampire, Werewolf, or other type of creature that prowls the night. This class is represented by the Fey in the Quickstart that was published earlier this week.

I'm going to do a character creation walk-thru by building a Supernatural, in this case Hiram Lang, a Werewolf.

The Ability scores of Night Shift are rolled as we are all familiar with ADnD: 3d6 in order, 4d6 drop the lowest and assigned by the player, or a point buy method.

Ability modifiers range from -3 to +4.

The Quickstart shows us that you may choose one Ability to be your Primary, two Abilities to be your Secondary, and the rest will be Tertiary. Primary and Secondary Abilities gain bonuses as you gain levels and are added to Ability Checks.

I'm going to make Hiram's Strength his Primary and denote it with a * and Dexterity and Constitution his Secondaries and denote them with **.

The Supernatural allows you to add a bonus to one Attribute and Hiram's Strength will get that bonus.

I can choose one ability from the Witch class and I decide on Wild Form at 1/Day.

As a Supernatural Hiram heals damage per Hour, as well as per Day.

Hit Points are 1d8, I rolled 7 and have no Con Modifier.

Supernaturals also gain a bonus to Saving Throws against supernatural attacks, magic, and spells.

A Supernatural's attacks are considered supernatural for the purpose of overcoming a being's immunity to normal weapons, if they have it.

There's a cool twist that I like too, after 3000 XP, a Supernatural may choose a Class. I think it's a great idea and am glad it is here, in the Quickstart, the Fey is a Veteran. 

Aside from equipment, Hiram is done and here he is:




Hiram Lang, Werewolf

Strength 13*           (+1)
Dexterity 9**          (+0)
Constitution1 11** (+0)
Intelligence 5           (-2)
Wisdom 13              (+1)
Charisma 10           (+0)

Hit Points 7

When Hiram gets 3000 XP, as a player, I can choose from the following Classes: Chosen One, Sage, Veteran.

I made this character in 10 minutes at the most. This is one of my favorite genres with rules that I know and love.

I hope my readers take a moment and back this on Kickstarter.

I'll also be posting an Actual Play in the next few days, as I'm running the Quickstart tonight.

Dungeon Crawl Classics: Lightning Giants

According to Sargoo the Sapient lightning giants were originally storm giants who due to age or illness have their flesh and blood viol...