Monday, December 4, 2023

Monster Monday: Ork City's Chupacabra for Shadowdark

Welcome to Ork City!

In the middle of Ork City's Hatt Island is the Park, a wild and dangerous forest filled with all manner of nightmarish predators. One of the most frequent dangers is a creature about the size of a large dog that drinks the blood of its victims. It is quiet as death as it stalks its prey, listening to their heart race, smelling the fear radiating from them, and relishing the warm, coppery taste of the blood that sustains it. Few who come across a Chupabra live to relay the tale.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Ork City: Moorlocks for Shadowdark

Welcome to Ork City!

It is inspired by Gamma World, Numenera, Thundarr the Barbarian, Planet of the Apes, Roadside Picnic, Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth, and Mad Max and focuses on excursions to what used to be the ruins of New York City. I see it as a Point Crawl mixed with running dungeons that draws in those seeking fortune and treasure in this harsh and unrelenting world. 

Most of what is known about the Moorlocks come from the Veegabonds, those survivors who consider Imma Vee a prophet, who venerate her by following her path along what is left of the East Coast. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

Miscreant Monday: Crime Wave for Savage Worlds + the Supers Companion for Earth 72

Hamilton Fox, a con man and drug dealer, had dreamed of becoming an Olympic runner for as long as he could remember. Sadly, he was willing to do anything to be the best and was caught using performance enhancing drugs and banned from competing any further.

Blaming everyone but himself he fell in with the wrong crowd and began dealing drugs before being caught and doing time in the Holloway Detention Center on the outskirts of Opal City. It was there that he met Joseph Klein who took him under his wing.  When Klein was released he told Fox to look him up for a job when he got out. 

Hamilton did just that 18 months later when he found Klein working for the crime syndicate known as the One-Thousand and serving as a trusted right hand for the Mist who was in charge of operations in Opal City. Two years later, after proving himself loyal and reliable, the Mist asked Fox if he would be interested in an experiment that could give him superpowers and without a moment's hesitation he told her he was in.

The 1,000 had put a member of the Dominator species known as Gunther in touch with a new iteration of H.I.V.E.. Gunther had defected to Earth during its Invasion by a coalition of aliens. The Dominator's research involved unlocking the metagene and he and two other subjects underwent the procedure.

Hamilton was really lucky. He only had flu-like symptoms for a couple of days before his super speed manifested while the other two subjects died very, very painful deaths.

The Mist has been training Fox in the use of his powers and he has taken up the codename the Crime Wave. She's been having him operate in Hub City to save him as secret weapon when the time is right. Fox is running faster than ever and is enjoying the rush.

You can download a PDF for Crime Wave here.

I used the excellent to build him at Power Level II.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Miscreant Monday: DC Comics' H.I.V.E. Soldiers for Savage Worlds and Earth 72

H.I.V.E. is a mercenary organization that specializes in high-level contract assassinations, the training and even creation of metahuman operatives, and acts of terrorism. The current incarnation has begun operating in Opal City on the East coast of the U.S. and the Department of Extranormal Operations had identified its new Queen to be the brilliant and deadly Cheshire.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Dungeons & Dragons 5E: Thoughts on Rogues & Rangers

Our group has kept up with Wizard of the Coasts Unearthed Arcana playtest material for the 2024 Edition/Printing of DnD and there two things the boggle us, how underwhelming the Ranger is and how overpowered the Rogue is.

When it comes to the Ranger I'm sure there are numerous people coming to DnD because of the Drizzt novels and we wonder if Hasbro/WotC isn't too keen on that? I mean Drow are nearly unplayable with Sunlight Sensitivity and the 5E Ranger doesn't seem to have a very clear vision for what it wants to be. We had a bit of hope because at one point Hunter's Mark no longer required Concentration but according the notes WotC felt that made the Ranger too good. We were all left shaking our heads at that.

Then, from the other side is the Rogue who can deal Sneak Attack damage once per turn, can gain Advantage on attack rolls by not moving on their turn, can use a Reaction to take 1/2 damage, and can sacrifice Snake Attack dice for special effects. The Rogue, in our estimation, is just too damn good. Realistically, how does WotC walk that back? They just don't and we get it.

I'm going to be really honest about the fact that WotC's tactics with DnD and Magic: the Gathering leave me fairly bitter. I've been pretty clear with my group that I just don't see myself running leas anything published by them. I will say that I am fairly excited by Kobold Press' Tales of the Valiant and ENWorld's Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition and may very well do something with either or both in the future.

Monday, October 30, 2023

State of the Planes: October 2023

This year just seems to have flown by and All Hallow's Eve is nearly upon us. I've been playing a Fighter named Bluehawk using the Unearthed Arcana playtest version and am enjoying it. I'm a bit tired of 5E though and if the group wants to continue with it after this campaign wraps I might excuse myself for a bit. I love seeing all of my friends but they still seem very enthused about 5E and I am just not.

I'm still taking a break from Deadlands on Tuesdays and we are beginning an Icons game set in the DC...uh...Multiverse...I guess? The PCs are working for Power Co. in Opal City and are dealing with a new version of HIVE led by Cheshire.

I've spent the last few months looking at games I want to run such as Shadowdark, Dragonbane, Basic Role Playing, Hero's Journey, Castle Falkenstein, Fantasy AGE, Hero System 6E, and even Pathfinder 2E. I think whatever I run it won't have a d20 in it. I love the OSR and still love 5E, even though I despise Wizards of the Coast, but I just need some time away from both of them. I think I'm going to focus on Savage Worlds since my biggest grip against it was the Wound system which is no longer the case and I really like a bunch of its settings: Deadlands, Battlelords of the 23rd Century, Rippers Resurrected, 50 Fathoms, Saga of Solomon Kane, Flash Gordon, Pathfinder, and Lankhmar. I'm contemplating a setting like Rifts Earth (though I don't want to run SW Rifts yet), Deadland's Hunting Grounds...something where people from all over find themselves in the same place or the setting just makes room for all of them like Numenera's 9th World a billion years in the future but without the Cyphers.. Basically, I'd just lay out all of the Seasoned Archetypes for SWADE and let people pick their characters. I love what Pinnacle is doing with the Archetype, Powers, Chase, Status, and Ally/Adversary cards. I also have a Rippers Resurrected mixed with Ravenloft's Masque of the Red Death game in mind but when don't I have a million ideas? So little time. Sigh.

I'd like to do some "OSR stuff" for Savage Worlds like I started with Death's Head Keep earlier this year but I'm going to be realistic and see what happens. I don't think I just want to make antagonists and might focus on setting material and even side quests.

I guess we will see what November and December hold.

Be well.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Marvel Super Heroes/FASERIP: Additional Damage Revised

I've revised my FASERIP Damage Bonus originally posted here

If the roll of a d10 is even you gain a +1 Column Shift per die and if your roll is a double and a success you gain +3 Column Shifts.

Example 1 - My roll is a an 81 so I gain a +1 Column Shift to damage since one of the dice is even.

Example 2 - My roll is a 64 so I gain a +2 Column Shift to damage since both are even.

Example 3 - my roll is a 95 so I don't gain a bonus to damage since both dice are odd.

Example 4 - My roll is a 77 so I gain a +3 to damage since my roll is doubles and it succeeded and even or odd doesn't matter.

That's it. It's fast and fairly straightforward.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Marvel Super Heroes/FASERIP: Additional Damage

I love the old TSR Marvel Super Heroes/FASERIP rules and its an old favorite of mine, however I would like some random element to damage and have two different options:

Option 1: When an attack hits a target roll a d6 and on a roll of 1 or 2 the damage increases by that many column shifts and on a 3-6 nothing occurs.

Option 2: Works as above but when you roll a 6 it counts as 1 column shift and you preroll the d6. As long as you roll 6s you keep increasing the column shifts, but a 1 or 2 are ignored on all additional rolls.

That's it. Pretty straight-forward.


Sunday, August 27, 2023

#RPGaDAY 2023: Day 16 thru 27

Game You Wished You Owned? This is tough. DnD popped into my head. HERO System/Champions too. Rifts. Savage Rifts is cool but I'd like to fix Rifts. It is my White Whale.

Funniest Game You've Ever Played? Tales of the Floating Vagabond.

Favorite Game System? HERO System. It's a like a language that I'm still fluent in.

Favorite Published Adventure? L5R's Tomb of Iuchi-Ban for 1st Edition.

Will Still Play in Twenty Year's Time? DnD most likely. Hopefully Savage Worlds and Dragonbane.

Favorite Licensed RPG? West End Game's Star Wars RPG.

Best Second Hand RPG Purchase? Villians and Vigilantes.

Coolest Looking RPG or Book? Castle Falkenstein RPG Hardcover.

Complex/Simpler RPG you Play? Complex is HERO System. Simple is Call of Cthulhu.

Unplayed RPG You Own? So. Damn. Many. Rifts.

Favorite Character Sheet? Vampire: The Masquerade's Character Sheets.

Game You'd Like a New Edition Of? West End Game's Star Wars. I appreciate the slipcase FFG did but I'd love for that line to come back.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

#RPGaDAY 2023: Day 1 thru 15

First RPG Played This Year? Savage Worlds Deadlands.

First RPG Game Master? My old buddy Todd back in 1991. I was a sophomore in College.

First RPG Bought This Year? Harthbreaker. An OSR + Powered by the Apocalypse hybrid.

Most Recent Game Bought? Shadow of the Weird Wizard. It is on Kickstarter right now and you should back it too.

Oldest Game You've Played? Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition.

Favorite Game You've Never Played? WitchCraft from Eden Studios.

Smartest RPG You've Played? I don't know what this means to be perfectly frank. I'm going with Numenera for some reason.

Favorite Character? Billy Ray Cordite, a Pathfinder 1E Paladin that wore cowboy boots.

Favorite Dice? My friends bought me those really expensive Sapphire Anniversary DnD Dice that are metal.

Favorite Tie-In Fiction? West End Games had at least one novel for Bloodshadows that I really enjoyed.

Weirdest Game You've Played? Skyrealms of Journey at Gen Con in 1993. Strange setting.

Old Game You Still Play? Marvel Super Heroes/FASERIP from TSR

Most Memorable Character Demise? I had this Monk in 5E, an eladrin, he was just a combat monster and I was it hard to make him unique so I leaned into an existential crisis where he is tempted to join the cult of Iuz because he thinks he is a remorseless killing machine. However, first he discovers a Deck of Illusion and just loves the chaos of it. Then he discovers and then later wishes for a Deck of Many Things and he gets a magic belt from Kord and he begins to believe that the deity worships HIM. He goes off to defeat a Black Dragon in one on one combat but then decides to seduce them. He was almost holing his own in the fight but a grenade a gnome tinkerer gives him blows up on a count of 2 instead of 3 and the Dragon then finishes him off. It was crazy fun.

Favorite Convention Purchase? I have the Castles and Crusades White Box from years and years ago.

Favorite Module/One-Shot? Any thing published by Schwalb Entertainment. They are short and succinct.


Saturday, July 15, 2023

If You Build It They Will Play: Hedrons

I started playing Magic: the Gathering with the Antiquities 1994, I guess? I've always found many of the game's Planes fairly interesting and Zendikar is among them. In the setting, a geomancer, created these floating monoliths or Hedrons, to imprison the game's riff on the Great Old Ones known as the Eldrazi.

Since the Craglands have been dealing with the threat of expansion of the Far Realms I decided to use the Eldrazi as a change of pace.

The Hedron appears, passing through a newly formed Rift, moments after an unexplained explosion within a nearby mine and immediately begins floating at about 15' in the air where it remains stationary and vibrates at a frequency that is just barely audible (DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check).

The Rift, which appears as a night-black oval set into the ground, is a slightly larger than an average human and is 15° cooler than the rest of its environment. Looking directly into the Rift requires a DC 12 Wisdom Saving Throw which causes a level of Exhaustion on a failed roll.

Anyone who succeeds on a DC 12 Intelligence (Arcana) check knows what the Hedrons are and that they are rare on this Plane. If the total is a 15 or higher then it is known that the Mage King Suleiman III of Khersia wrote that our Plane and Zendikar's were somehow linked during the sinking of Hem-Hoomod, the Ivory Seat of the Woodeel Empire, which marked the end of the 7th Age and the beginning of our current one. With a total of 18 or higher it is know that Ur-Hukar, the High Vizier to the Ivory Seat, came upon the Invector Prima, a foul tome devoted to the Higher Ungods, the name of the Eldrazi during the 7th Age, which corrupted him body, mind, and soul. If the total is 20 or higher then it is know that that Hussars of Vim use a strange form of magic to detect, track down, and destroy Hedrons and then cleanse the area via the Meteor Swarm spell.

Monday, July 10, 2023

If You Build It They Will Play: A Simple Start

A few months back I put our Tuesday Deadlands game on pause and started a Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition game with mostly the same players.

I chose 5E because two of my players hadn't really had much of a chance to try it, DnD Beyond is a HUGE time saver, and if I'd run B/X or ADnD I'd have used a fair number of house rules to make it somewhat closer to 5E.

I decided having a good introductory adventure to get things moving worked really well with Deadlands so I looked for something similar for 5E. With DL I used a sandbox setting but I feel more comfortable with DnD fantasy so something simple would just fine. We were starting at Level 3 and I chose the 4th Level adventure A Deep and Creeping Darkness from Candlekeep Mysteries because two of my players had play tested the 3rd Level adventure before. 

Without going into too many details the adventure gave me two locations the town of Maerin and the abandoned village of Vermeillon. Additionally, I know that I will be dealing with the Feywild and the Far Realm. I cut the part about Candlekeep and have the Players being hired by an older woman who is looking to return her Mother's ring to enhance the dowry of her great-grandaughter.

I'm going to take a step back and share that some goals this campaign: I want this campaign to be 99% player drive and since I have some very active players they make this easy for me to accomplish.; I'm not looking to make the Big Damn Heroes who have to save the world; the rules are far less important than fun -- again, my players have all kinds of ideas if sounds good why not do it? For example: our wizard had an idea to distract an enemy and while he knew Color Spray he didn't have it prepared, so I let him make an Arcana check and since he succeeded he was able to cast it. I think there should be some extra incentives for utility spells that might get overlooked and I've enhanced this process by giving him a magic item with several utility spells he can cast once per day.

We are couple sessions into this campaign and I've been sketching out the setting as the Craglands. There is something sinister trying to turn a nature portal into the Feywild into a hole to the Far Realms and they have met someone from 50 years in the future of Vermeillon whose exposure to the aberrant energies of the Far Realm have twisted him physically and impaired him mentally and there has been some concern about Hill Giants making deep forays from their mountain strongholds.

More soon.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Dungeons & Shivan Dragons: Sword of War and Peace for B/X D&D + Old School Essentials

Sword +3, War and Peace

Grants special benefits of healing and protection from against fire and evil creatures.

Healing a living subject: The wielder gains the following benefits: 

  • Healing: Restores 3 hit points of damage. This cannot grant more hit points than the subject’s normal maximum. 

Protects against evil: The wielder gains the following benefits: 

  • Save bonus: Gain a +1 bonus to saving throws against attacks and special abilities of affected creatures.
  • Defense bonus: Affected creatures gain a -1 penalty to attack the wielder.
  • Magic protection: Affected enchanted, constructed, and summoned creatures cannot attack the wielder in melee but may make ranged attacks against them.

Protects against fire: The wielder gains the following benefits: 

  • Normal fire: Unharmed by non-magical fire.
  • Save bonus: Gain a +2 bonus to all saving throws versus fire-based magical or breath attacks.
  • Fire-based damage: Is reduced by 1 point per damage die rolled. (Each die inflicts a minimum of 1 hit point damage.) 

Monday, June 12, 2023

Clerical Work: The Gods of Conan Part 2


Ishtar’s Midnight Courtship, 
from Ishtar and Izdubar, 
the epic of Babylon, 1884.

I recently picked up Modiphius' Conan Bundle and was reading through the Nameless Cults and thinking about using the deities presented it for a Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition campaign. I figure I'll work a few each post.


Alignment: Neutral Good

Domains: Grave, Life, Order


Alignment: Lawful Evil

Domains: Death, Grave


Alignment: Neutral Good

Domains: Order, Twilight


Alignment: Lawful Good

Domains: Knowledge, Order, Peace

Sunday, June 11, 2023

5E vs the OSR vs What is Best for Our Group

I've spent the last year working on combating my Gaming ADD so that I could run games that would last more than 2-3 weeks. I'm glad to report it's been working. My Deadlands game is 9 months in and sadly had to go on hiatus as one of my players is buying and moving into a new house.

We decided to run a different game while he is unavailable and I started looking at the OSR and 5th Edition. On one hand, I'm royally pissed at Wizards of the Coast for their shenanigans and would like to support creators who actually care about their audience. But on the other hand I have some players in this game that want to play 5E, have never gotten to play it, and love DnD Beyond.

I did some heavy thinking about this and what I came away with is that I tend to agree with many of the 5E changes that were made while also altering many OSR games to be closer to 5E. And when I look at what has been successful for me as a DM in the last 9 months  is focusing on story and fun over game system.

In fact, when I look back at my Gaming ADD it always comes back to finding that perfect system. The 3 games that come closest to perfect for me are Castle Falkenstein, Shadow of the Demon Lord and Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. Right or wrong, 5E captures my vision of DnD as a game designer. I like Bounded Accuracy and Sub-Classes. If I were designing DnD it would look a lot like 5E.

After looking at all of this I went back to 5E and for my players and for me it was the right decision. I'm not giving WotC any of my money and I'm picking up excellent 3rd party products. I'm also backing Kobold Press' Tales of the Valiant as I feel that Kobold is doing some of the most exciting work on 5E.

My group is invested in 5E and I'm invested in them. They are my best friends and it's great that I get to run a game for them. I still am angry at WotC and I'm sure that will affect things at some point but honestly, I have enough material for 5E to use the engine for years to come.

I hope someone knocks WotC off of their block but in the meantime I'm going to enjoy DMing my friends.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Clerical Work: the Gods of Conan part 1

I recently picked up Modiphius' Conan Bundle and was reading through the Nameless Cults and thinking about using the deities presented it for a Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition campaign. I figure I'll work a few up each post.


Alignment: Neutral Good

Domains: Life, Nature


Alignment: Neutral

Domains: Knowledge


Alignment: Chaotic Neutral

Domains: Trickery


Alignment: Lawful Neutral

Domains: Order, War

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Magic Item Monday: Helm of the Vanguard for Dragonbane


Helm of the Vanguard for Dragonbane

Amor Rating: +2

Cost: --

Supply: --

When you take damage, as a Free Action, you may reduce your Willpower instead of your Hit Points. You may not do so again until the beginning of your next turn.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Monster Monday: Man-Serpent for Dragonbane

Man-Serpent for Dragonbane

Ferocity: 2 Size: Large

Movement: 12 Armor: 3

HP: 25

Typical Gear:

Monster Attacks

D6 Attack

1 Crown of Vipers!  

It darts at its victim and the

tiny serpents atop its brow 

sink their fangs into their foe. 

The attack inflicts 4d4 piecing damage and if any damage 

gets through the victim’s 

armor they gain the 

Sickly condition.

2 Tail Lash!

The monster’s tail lashes 

        out toward a victim to smash 

them. The attack targets a 

creature within 10m 

        and inflicts 2d8 bludgeoning 

damage and if the victim fails 

a Strength check they are 


3 Constrict!

Its coils wrap tight around its 

victim and squeezes. The 

attack inflicts 2d10 

bludgeoning damage and the 

target is Grappled if they fail a 

Strength check with a Bane.

4 Mesmerize!

Its yellow eyes beckon you to 

look at it’s forked tongue’s 

rhythmic pattern. The victim 

must make a Willpower check 

and if they fail they are Dazed 

until the beginning of the 

man-serpent’s next turn.

5 Bite!

The man-serpent bites at it’s 

prey. The victim takes 2d6

piercing damage.

6 Smash!

It uses its size and bulk to 

attack it’s prey. The victim 

takes 2d8 bludgeoning 

damage and rerolls any 1 or 2 

        but must use the next roll 

even if it is another 1 or 2.

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 ...