Thursday, November 28, 2019

What I'm Thankful for...

It's been a tough couple of years, but that has left me feeling very Thankful for what I have.

I'm Thankful for my Wife, Kids, Family, and Friends. I'm really blessed that we are all healthy and well.

I'm Thankful for the members of both of my gaming groups. They are some of the best people I have ever met and their friendship is something I cherish.

I'm Thankful for many of the friends I've made here on the Blog and on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. It's easy to focus on the negative on the internet, but I've met some truly wonderful people that make my day brighter.

I'm Thankful for my job, being part of running a Comic and Game store is a dream come true. And the experience is sweeter because I work with my family.

I'm Thankful for the ability to create and write both this Blog and the various projects I've self-published over the years.

And finally, I'm thankful for you, for taking the time to read my posts on here.  Thank you.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Back in the OSR: Ningen for Eldritch Tales

Ningen for Eldritch Tales

AC: 7 [12]
Save: 16
Morale: 3
Insanity: 16
Attacks: Bite +3 (1d6)
Special: Amphibious, Keen Senses
HD: 3
Move: 12

Level/XP: 3/60

These bizarre creatures, according Winifred Persian's interview of a Tcho-Tcho tribe on the Pacific island of Ogun, arrived here by hitching a ride on Haley's Comet in 1910. Conflicting reports from members of the tribe mention that they are either an expeditionary force for the mysterious Zot or servant's of Hastur seeking to ensure that Cthulhu doesn't wake from it's slumber.

Ningen live in the deep but are known to come ashore seemingly randomly, sometimes walking a few yards or even miles before plunging back into the ocean.


White Star: Mudhorn


Armor Class: 5 [14]
HDE: 4
Total Hit Bonus: +4

Movement: 18
Special: Charge
Attack: Horn (2d6)
Hit Dice: 4
Saving Throw: 13

"Mudhorns are large horned creatures that inhabit Arvala-7. The eggs of Mudhorns are considered a delicacy by Jawas."
     Mudhorns that use at least half their movement when attacking a creature do an additional +2 to their horn's damage.


Sunday, November 24, 2019

RPGs Played This Year

As I've written before, this was another tough year for all of us. The early part of the year saw me taking a step back as Game Master and even to some degree, as a player.

I ran Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition using the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage. We didn't finish that campaign, but I wouldn't mind returning to those characters one day.

I also ran Deadlands Reloaded for Savage Worlds. I've always been a big fan of Pinnacle Entertainment Group and Savage Worlds, but I really like for game systems to have hit points and I doubt I'll ever return to this rules set. I'm not a big fan of the decision that was made about Deadlands metaplot and I honestly don't see how Savage Worlds runs faster than most other systems. I do hope to go back to the Weird West but it will either be with Basic Role Playing, Tiny Gunslingers, Tall Tales: Wild West BX Fantasy Adventure Game, or the Eerie West.

I used my own version of a D100 system to run a Call of Cthulhu scenario that went very well.

I ran a playtest of Robert Schwalb's PunkApocalyptic that was a tiny bit rough, I wasn't really at my best as a GM at that point in the year.

Finally, I ran the Quickstart of Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars that was very well received and we are all looking forward to the full game.

I've been playing a Tremere, on and off, in a Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition game that is close to a year old. My Storyteller is excellent but I struggle with a game just about Vampires, I'd prefer other supernaturals, but we haven't got those rules yet.

I've also been playing a Kensei Monk in an awesome DnD 5E set in Saltmarsh.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Daughters & Dragons: Her First Campaign

My 15 year old daughter has begun her first campaign tonight, as I type this, actually.

She's played with me, her brother, and friends for years, but tonight she embarks on a new path with a group all of her own. She decided she wanted to stick to something close to DnD but in a modern setting.

I helped her pick Skyscrapers and Sorcery, which is based on Swords and Wizardry White Box or White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game.

Her group is making characters now and going through Session Zero.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Review: 5th Evolution: Carbide City #1

I'm always on the lookout for a good superhero game, especially one that runs on the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition chasis. While Mutants and Masterminds is a very good game, it doesn't scratch my itch because I don't care for it's damage system. I like hit points, but I also have been looking for a superhero game where buckets of dice weren't necessary. I'm glad to say 5th Evolution: Carbide City #1 from Limitless Adventures fits the bill.

I was given physical and digital copies of 5th Evolution: Carbide City #1 for review purposes.

I'm going to talk about the formatting of Carbide City #1, nine of it's 45 pages is a comic book to introduce you to the setting and it's super powered inhabitants. I really like this, the art is excellent, the layout is great and it's fun. For some reason it reminds me 80's and 90's role playing games, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from Palladium Books, in particular.

The book opens with a brief overview of the world and Carbide City itself. This leads into four encounters and ends with running a campaign in the setting. 

Next is equipment and then we are given write-ups for minions and henchmen. After that we are given full statistics and back stories for ten supervillains. Additionally, there is a "further adventures" section for each villain.

Then we are given ten superhero Archetypes: Blaster (Cyclops), Brick (Colossus), Feral (Beast), Gadgeteer (Forge), Ghost (Kitty Pryde), Martial Artist (Shang Chi), Marksman (Scalphunter), Speedster (Quicksilver), Telepath (Emma Frost), Teleporter (Nightcrawler).

Unlike other superhero RPGs, 5th Evolution: Carbide City strictly uses Archetypes for character creation, there are no rules for building a character with points or randomly rolling one. You pick an Archetype and work with your Game Master if you want to change things up. The Archetypes are 12th level characters and honestly, if you are well-versed in DnD 5E, you could build your own.

I really like this approach. I have numerous games where I can customize and min-max my character to the fullest, but this is a great way to just get the ball rolling. I honestly find it refreshing.

We are told that 12th level characters are lower powered than many of the superheroes in comics and I can see that, but I find the power level to be good for say the X-men of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Additionally, each Archetypes Advancements to improve them instead of using Experience Points.

5th Evolution: Carbide City #1 (plans for a #2 were mentioned with additional Archetypes) was like a breath of fresh air, it's easy to get going and yet complete and most importantly, fun enough to keep new and veteran players interested for a full campaign. I cannot recommend it enough.

Finally, Limitless Adventures is running a Kickstarter for 5th Evolution: Whitechapel which is in it's final hours right now.

You should check it out.

Labyrinth Lord: Aqrabuamelu

Aqrabuamelu for Labyrinth Lord

No. Enc.: 1d6 (2d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 150' (50')
Armor Class: 5 (14)
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1 (stinger)
Damage: 1d6+2
Save: C2
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: VII
XP: 135

The Aqrabuamelu are also known as the Scorpion Men were said to be guardians of the sun god Shamash and are found around his abode at the Mashu mountains. Victims of their stinger must save verses poison or lose 1d4 STR for 2d6 rounds. 

Keto Battaglia, author of the Meanderings of Monsters and the highly controversial I Married a Werebadger writes that the Scorpion Men have a highly advanced written language and a fondness for white wine.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Jarlsburg: New Rumors

It's literally been years since I wrote about Jarlsburg, my ode to Sanctuary, Lankhmar, and Ankh-Morpork.

Here are some new rumors circulating around the city-state.
Roll a d20 or pick one:

1) Aegor Prode, Jarl of the city-state, is a mutant that has flippers for feet and can hold his breath for 2 hours.

2) The Crimson Bride haunts the Borough of Elder  For decades those living there have nailed giant slugs to their doors during the last night of the full moon in order to ward off the evil spirit, but they no longer seem to work with seven deaths in the last two months.  

3) Coppertown has a vigilante known as the Manx who has been disrupting the operations of the Fiacho, the halfling crime guild.

4) Four Ironcloaks, the 'Burg's night watch, have disappeared around the Honest Peter Public House. Aunt Mimi, the Augur of Blake Street claims that the area's sewers are overrun with foul monsters. 

5) The Silvercloaks, those who deal with supernatural enemies within the 'Burgs limits, have been disbanded due to a scandal involving Gretta Malifaux.

6) A series of tunnels under the city-state lead to the legenday dwarven city of Hollowforge.

7) A shop on Tanner Street pays 2 silver a pound for human skin, ask for LaFleur.

8) All of the inmates at the Stross Bedlam have started speaking in unison. They keep repeating that the Antiquarian is back home.

9) Denizens of the Borough of Yeti keep claiming to see an angel in the skies above them at night.

10) The pigeons of the city are spies for Lady Jesska Apple, Borough President of Gibbons.

11) Beladonna Malifaux, the previous Jarl who fled for her life after her involvement of the King in Yellow play, has been seen leaving the Violet Chapel.  There is a bounty on her head worth 50,000 silver.

12) Jaren Vienna has intimidated Rena Baum and Otto Krispin from running against him for the Borough President of the Viqar. 

13) It rained frogs two weeks ago in the Borough of Sefton. The rain lasted over an hour.

14) Spies from Orland have dirt on Arlo Perzeen, Borough President of Kite.

15) The best potions and spell ingredients can be found on the west side of Gibbons at the Pearl's Dry Goods on Olaf Street.

16) The hobo on Argyle Street that sits in front of the Flavorhold III screaming at passerbys is a white dragon.

17) The stuffed raven in Jarl Prode's office is the deceased Borough President Karol Sonar of Gwent was turned into one of the birds after losing a bet to Boccob.

18) Borough President of Midas Hill Donal Steuben's son, Logue is the Witchfinder General of the Rurik Empire.

19) There is a copy of the King in Yellow in the ruins of the Essex College of Sorcery

20) Adder Vitriol, the Guildmaster of  Shemmy's Social Club (thieve's guild), is a vampire.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Monstrous Monday: IG-Series Droid for White Star

IG-Series Droid

Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 3
Total Hit Bonus: +3
Attacks: Laser pistol (1d6+1) or laser rifle (2d6)
Saving Throw: 10
Special: See below
Movement: 12
HDE: 4

"The IG-series was a series of droids. The InterGalactic Banking Clan maintained an army of IG lancer droids. One model of IG was a set of five identical assassin droids manufactured by Holowan Laboratoriesduring the final decades of the Galactic Republic. Only moments after their activation, those robots slaughtered their constructors and escaped their laboratories to roam the galaxy.
One of them was IG-88, who functioned as a bounty hunter during the Galactic Civil War."
IG-series droids can detect life forms at a range of up to 60 feet. Because of this they cannot be surprised by living creatures. They are also capable of seeing in total darkness at a range of 60 feet.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Thinking About an Unpopular "Old School" Opinion

Earlier this week the above tweet was posted to Twitter. I respect her opinion, but here is mine:

Death represents failure and TTRPGs used it before video games co-opted it. If there is not chance of failure or risk or death then why not just read a novel or watch a TV show? 

One of the things I've begun to notice when I run a game is that if there is no chance of failure or loss then what was the point of the encounter? In my opinion newer editions of DnD need encounters to deplete player resources, but not necessarily kill them. I'm not saying DnD 3.5-5 doesn't allow for PC deaths, but I don't think that real danger is as much of a threat than it is in earlier editions. 

For instance, the 5E CR system is broken. First, it borrowed a name from an earlier edition, but doesn't mean the same thing. Second, if you have highly skilled Players then you better not use a solo on those characters, the game expects you to use minions to drain resources so the solo can live more than 2 rounds. Sadly, I learned this in a Tarrasque battle. Mike Mearls has even said he wished they had chosen a different name than "Challenge Rating" for 5E and so do I.

I think DnD 4E is probably the most balanced edition created thus far and partly because of that it failed. Not everyone wants to play a Wizard, but in 4E everyone was some kind of Wizard. Essentials (4.5E) tried to fix it but it was too little too late and a new edition is ALWAYS more profitable.

Every player and every group brings certain expectations to the table, but the internet makes sure that instead of just respecting how we enjoy ourselves, it has to make sure that it points out that we are, in fact, doing it wrong.

Fiona, apparently, finds PC deaths an impediment and not a moment in a game. My groups don't find it an impediment, we joke about it, lament the dead character, and it almost always becomes a permanent fixture of our shared experience.

In the end, the important part of it all is having fun.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

At the Table

With DnD being more popular than ever it seems people are talking about consent, session zero, and gatekeeping quite a bit.  It got me thinking about how things are done at our tables and decided to share those with you.  Keep in mind there is no wrong way to play and what works for us might not work for others.

Without further adieu here is our only rule:

Real life trumps role playing.

That's it. Pretty simple. It's all we need. Y'all have a good evening.

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.

Thundarr the Movie

As a life-long comics fan and a retailer with a quarter century of experience, I was today years old when I discovered that Buzz Dixon and ...