Friday, June 30, 2017

Sunless Citadel: The Great Horned One

Recently, our merry band of adventurers discovered the Prospector General Store, owned by the Karnak clan and learned that their basement held freshly dug tunnels and ratmen. After a pitched battle the group moved on from the place, but upon their return they found it boarded up. Having gained some official writ from the Mayor due to a job he'd given them, they decided to "investigate" (or break in, depends on your point of view). They found the symbol of the Great Horned One throughout the rooms above the store, as well as booby traps, more ratmen, a giant rat, a room that led to...somewhere else, and extensive tunnels leading deep underground. 

They have been told that one of their number has been exposed to a dangerous disease, but opted not to trade the antidote for the ratman's escape. Now, they must figure out if their enemy was telling the truth and how deep they are willing to follow him...

The Chaos God of change, blight, and pestilence longs for the destruction of civilization and desires for the respect and becoming the equal of his fellow gods, who look down upon him. His holy number is 13. His priests are called Lead Seers and he is served by demons called Ungeziefer
, gigantic fiends armed with poisioned weaponry. He is also known as Grandfather and Tsien-Tsin.

Great Horned One (CE)
God of blight, change, pestilence

   Domain Death, Trickery 
   Symbol Three crossed lead bands forming an inverted pyramid

Zombies and Their Hunger

I've been on a bit of zombie kick lately, listening to the World War Z Audio Book while driving on our vacation and reading Chuck Dixon's Gomers.

It led me to ponder something. 

We often see scenes of zombies converging on a victim and seeminly devouring them, yet we rarely see zombies with extensive bite wounds.

This made start thinking of the reason why they aren't more devoured or even heavily gnawed upon zombies.

The answers I've come up with could be applied to either a fantasy or modern/sci-fi setting. The virus or curse that raises the dead has a biological or magical component that prevents the them from continuing to eat their victims as soon as the moment of death occurs.

Due to this, a horde may descend upon a victim, but as soon as that victim dies, the horde no longer has any interest in continuing to feed and will seek new targets, as they no longer crave that flesh.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition: Gun Shield

Magic weapon (shield), rare (requires attunement)

• You gain a +1 to AC with this shield.

• The gun shield has 6 charges and gains 1d6 charages at dawn each day. As a bonus action, you may spend 1 charge to make a ranged attack that deals 3d4 piercing damage with a range of 30/120 feet.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Index Card RPG: Zombies

ZOMBIE for the Index Card RPG Core
Rolls: +2 Str, +2 Con


ATTACK - BITE: Weapon Effort, with their teeth and nails.

MOAN: A hungry zombie will moan and in 1d8 rounds 1d6 more zombies will appear Far away. 

UNDEAD: When a zombie is reduced to Zero Hit Points, roll a d6. On a 4-6 the zombie still has 1 Hit Point, but on a 1-3 the zombie dies immediately.

ALL CONSUMING HUNGER: Zombies will never run away.

The living dead, ghouls, zombies. Every culture has their legends and every civilization prays they are mere myth. When the dead rise, not only do they prey upon the living, but every person that falls to them rises amongst their hungry ranks.

THERE IS NEVER JUST ONE: Zombies are drawn to sounds, smells, life. They have nothing else to do but to feed.

FAST ZOMBIES: The only thing worse than the living dead rising, are living dead running at you in a massive horde. Fast, berserk, and hungry for your flesh.

LIVING DEAD: Whatever foul necromancy or disease that drives the walking dead, it knows no racial boundaries. All sentient creatures rise up to join the ranks of the ghouls after falling to them.

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunless Citadel: Khaang, A Magical Dagger

There are ancient tales of weapons forged from the fangs of dragons, sometimes given as gifts to a wyrm's servants, sometimes lifted from the battlefield after a ferocious draconic battle, and sometimes pulled from the corpse of one of the monster's corpses. Such weapons are prized far and wide while also bringing unwanted attention to a wielder of these weapons when they meet a dragon.

Legends tell us that Khaang was a gift from the black dragon Skytherix to a particularly devoted elven servant, Leona Stormhunter. And the weapon was passed down through her family for centuries, until one of her descendants met an end while plumbing the depths of the Sunless Citadel...

Magic weapon (dagger), legendary (requires attunement)

• You gain a +1 on attack rolls and damage rolls with this dagger.

• When you hit with a weapon attack, you can roll an additional 2d6 poison damage and add it to the damage roll. Once you use this ability, you cannot use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

• You gain an extra action on your turn. That action can be used only to take the Attack (one weapon attack only), Dash, Disengage, Hide, or Use an Object action. Once you use this ability, you cannot use it again until you complete a long rest.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Back This: Beasts and Barbarians Steel Edition

One of my favorite settings for Savage Worlds is Beasts and Barbarians Gold Edition and the talented folks at GRAmel are crowdfunding a new edition, the Steel Edition (the holiest of metals) right now. 

This new edition will update the timeline of the setting, features both a Player's and Game Master's book that will be in full color starting at just $25.

I can't recommend GRAmel's products enough and Beasts and Barbarians in particular.

You can back it on Indiegogo here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

D&D: The Faithful, the Pious, and the Zealous

As I prep returning to our Epic Level DnD 5E game, I intend to focus on the grander aspects of DnD: the Multiverse, Ancient Fiends and Celestials, and the Gods. Recently I was pondering how the number of worshipers would effect and empower deities. It led me thinking of a God waging war simply to gain more worshipers in a particular Prime Material Plane. And then something occurred to me, what about Evil Gods? 

In the worlds I create, there may be certain nations that worship evil deities, but more often than not their followers belong to secret cabals and conspiracies, with far smaller numbers of worshippers. Yet, I often grant these evil deities the same powers of Civilized Gods, if not more so (and more freedom to interfere in the affairs of mortals). If quantity is the only concern of Gods, then evil deities (not assuming cultural perspective) shouldn't pose much threat or the world is a very, very dark place.

With that in mind, what if the quality of devotion is just as, if not more important, than the quantity of followers?

Yes, the God of the Sun may have 30,000 worshipers within the Old Empire, but how many of them are truly inspired by their God? Truly worship him beyond a general thanks for not living in the Wilderlands outside of the Empire's borders?

Meanwhile, the Goddess of Chaos may have less than 500 worshipers, but they mostly devoted zealots, their entire lives dedicated to their Lady's whims.  

Further, perhaps mystery and fear compound a God's power? While most in the Old Empire know little of the Elder Elemental Eye, they know to fear it and that fear is even diverted to the Eye. 

For me it helps to focus and explain the power of the mortal soul in the Games of Gods and why even the most reviled and unknown deity still poses a threat within the multiverse and your campaign.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Review: Saturday Morning Tabletop RPG Core

I was provided a PDF review copy of Saturday Morning Tabletop RPG Core by Nefthalie Ramos and published by Infinite Roleplay.

Are you a fan of 80's saturday morning cartoons, DnD 5E, or games like Cartoon Action Hour? Then Saturday Morning Tabletop (SMTT from here on out) is the game you've been waiting for!

The writing, layout, and art are appealing, fun, and conveys information extremely well.

I heard about SMTT because of the PWYW version and immediately new I wanted to see more.

It opens by discussing, appropriately enough, Rating Systems for your game, based on ages. And then it goes into a key component of the game Awesome Power, which is based on Size (though Class abilities and Feats let you increase this) and reminds me a bit of Mythic Power in Pathfinder. Awesome Power determines what you can do when facing someone of lesser, equal, or greater AP. You will never be able to grapple, for instance, someone with greater AP than you.

SMTT takes 5E and stretches it pretty far, redoing races and classes from the ground up. In fact, if the tone weren't so lighthearted, I believe it would have been spotlighted more by now.

SMTT succeeds as an amazing evolution of DnD 5E.

Races include all of our favorites (though altered for fun) and new ones such as Changelings, Wild Men (a subrace is Yeti), Caretakers (think constructs), Reavers (Dragonborn, sort of), and cat people (who range from running on all fours, to centaur like hybrids, to humanoid).

The Classes are Barbarian (including a Shaman inspired by World of Warcraft and Druids), Knights (where we find our Paladins), Lawmen (including Gunslingers), Peformers (Warrior Poets, Fortune Tellers), Priests (Healmonkeys), Sorcerers (which cool soul bonds to round out their heritages), Thieves (no, not Rogues), Warriors (Massive Weapon Warriors), and Wizards (Spellbarons). Additionally, Classes gain a flat number of hit points + Con Modifier each level.

While most of what we know of 5E is there, it's been expanded and each class has had more mechanical system integrated (things like maneuvers, anger, or performance just to name a few). Yes, you recognize 5E in here, but you also see expansion and nods to DnD's past and other games that have drawn upon it's roots.

Feats include things like 26 Inch Pythons, Beast Blood: Boa (you can turn into a snake), Tall Dark and Ugly (one of several Feats that lets you lower an Ability Score to 6 and that cannot be improved, but increases your AP), and Hyperactive. I'm not sure I would import most of these into a traditional 5E game, but they are well thought out and mechanically sound.

The Experience table has been altered as well, for instance it only requires 18 XP to reach level 10 and it includes how much to award players for a successful and failed encounter at the appropriate level.

Magic uses a spell points system called Mana Well and allows spells to be Overcharged (by doubling the amount of Mana needed). Spells are presented by Schools, that include Bartleby's School of Arcane Shaping, The Creeping Dark, and Visage of the Beast).

The Gear chapter covers mundane and magical weapons, combat, and the fact that heroes never die. Yep, you read that right, you'll get Haggard and Exhausted, but you won't die (though you might turn evil).

For the DM we have the Evildoer Toolkit that is a great asset for new and veteran DM's who want help building encounters. It categories foes by power level and/or Size and it's presentation reminds me of how FantasyCraft handled enemies, though clearer, in my opinion.

All that a DM needs is in this section, including particular types of special actions for their evildoers and 4 specific foes are detailed.

Pros If you want a fun variation of 5E that channels G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, or She-Ra, this game is for you. If you want a gonzo ruleset firmly rooted in 5E and well designed, this game is also for you.

Cons It's gonzo and it's premise channels saturday morning cartoons, which, I guess isn't for everybody...

Thursday, June 8, 2017

D&D 5th Edition: Importing 13th Age's Quick Rests and Full Heal-Ups

13th Age is a game I would run more if it covered different ground than DnD 5E. My groups, and I can't blame them, basically have said, "Why don't we just play DnD, instead of learning 13th Age?" So I find myself with little outlet for 13th Age at the moment.

However, while reading the 13th Age core rulebook while contemplating using the Escalation die in my Epic Forgotten Realms game later this summer/fall, I was reminded of how 13th Age handles Quick Rests (essentially right after a battle) and Full Heal-Ups (roughly every 4 battles).

It got me thinking about trying that in DnD. My groups play for 2-3 hours tops and we have kept our eye on making sure the different class resources are handled as fairly as possible. While I can't say it's been a huge issue, I wondered about giving this method a try.

Has anyone imported this system into 5E? 

Any experiences, thoughts, or opinions are welcome.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review: Powers Beyond - A Superpowered Roleplaying Epic by Epic Age Media

Epic Age Media provided me with a PDF copy of Powers Beyond: A Superpowered Roleplaying Epic, written by James Shade, for review purposes.

I'm a super hero RPG junkie. My first RPG was Champions 4E and soon after I owned Heroes Unlimited. I've played and run DC Heroes, Marvel Super Heroes, GURPS Supers, Mutants and Masterminds, etc. When I saw Powers Beyond I was curious and I liked the cover, so I contacted James who was kind enough to provide me with a PDF nearly a year ago. You might be wondering why it's taken that long to write a review? Well, simply put, as of today, the PDF still doesn't explain the games resolution system (James has assured me it uses a d10), but I'm not sure how to review a game when the PDF available to the public doesn't feature that information.

I'll do my best to share what I do know for certain about Powers Beyond, though.

Layout reminds me quite a bit of Mayfair's DC Heroes 3rd Edition softcover, it's open and the text flows well, with the right column typically reserved for charts. It's colorful and the illustrations are all decent, though a bit amateurish. I'm not sure the font is my favorite, it's been thin for my old eyes, but it's not a deal breaker.

Part One is 90 pages long:

When creating a character you choose an Origin (Alien Life Form, Cyborg, Mage Spawn, Mind Master, to name a few) which adjusts your Vital Statistics (your attributes).

The Vital Statistics are Muscular Power, Mental Acuity, and Physical Agility and they range from 1 to 40. Vital Statistics are assigned by rolling 5d10 and picking the 3 highest number rolled and placing them where you want them. Secondary Values also exist and they are Damage Bonus (1/5 Muscular Power) and Knock Out and Fatality (both 10 x Muscular Power) ; Intelligence Bonus ( 1/5 Mental Acuity) and your RAD or Range/Area/Duration for powers (which is 10 x Mental Acuity); and finally, Initiative Bonus (1/5 Physical Agility) and Movement rate (which is 10 x Physical Agility).

Powers are defined as Major (you choose 1), Minor (you choose 2), and Variations (ways to refine a power). Regardless of wether a power is Major or Minor, it has a Base Power at it's core, which dictates what, if any, Variations are available. There are 8 categories of powers and they represent the super hero genre well. While it's not required, you can take Weaknesses (up to 3), that can give you extra Variations, Base powers, and Major powers.

You gain a number of Skills equal to your Intelligence bonus which are taken from a traditional list (additionally, instead of buying an additional skill, you may add a +1 to it per slot).

Experience is called Training and translates into Power Ups that let you do thinks like gain a Power (Magespawn's only), gain or improve Skills, improve Powers, or gain or improved dice. You gain a Power Up based on the DM's choice, much like DnD 5E's Milestone system.

There are rules for vehicles and accessories, as well, but I don't have a system laid out before me on how to perform task resolution, which is far more important, in my opinion.

Part Two is 122 pages long:

It contains a fairly typical setting, a 6 page adventure, fiction, creatures, foes, rumors, a demonstration of the game (that STILL doesn't explain task resolution), the Ultimate Scenario Generator (which is Trademarked--no, I'm NOT joking and has your roll a d20 or a d12 over 5 charts).

The setting isn't going to set the world on fire and may be useful to new gamers, but nothing new to share here.

Pros I don't have any, unless you loved TSR's Indiana Jones game, there is no reason to buy a game that has been for sale over a year without a task resolution system.

Cons see above, but if I had $20 for this PDF, even with a task resolution system, I'd feel cheated. I understand art is costly, but the Mutants and Masterminds PDF is the same price and there is no comparison here.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review: Hexers Role Playing Game Board

Earlier this week I saw the Hexers RPG Game Board mentioned on G+ and I immediately decided to order it.

And it just came in today:

Here is in the Box!

Folded up in the Box.

Unfolded 1" Squares.

Unfolded Hexes.

Drawing some scenery with a Dry Erase Marker.
After wiping off the Marker.

Now, I haven't used it yet for a session, but I really like it so far and will use it ASAP.

I really dig folding it up verses rolling a map up and it lays very flat.

I'm giving this 2 BIG Thumbs Up.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Queen of Chaos: Immortal Combat

For my DnD players in our Friday Game, if you are reading this please, move along.

Last November, my Friday players hit 20th Level. I wasn't ready for an Epic game, as I hadn't worked it all out yet, so we started playtesting a dungeon that we should be finished with before it releases in September. And I think I've got the foundations in place for a epic battle amongst the Multiverse.

Long has Orcus, Demon Prince of Undeath lusted after the Raven Queen's divinity presiding over Death, Fate, and Winter. For centuries he has plotted against her, his corpulence rippling like bitter storm stirring a toxic lake in his quest to usurp her. He has tasted merely a drop of her powers, centuries ago, as he began to probe the young goddess, after she had conspired against Nerull

In that exchange, Orcus offered the Raven Queen a weapon of the purest darkness, Black Razor. His price was, ostensibly for the his old ally, the Queen of Chaos and it was for Miska the Wolf-Spider's prison to be moved from the Shadowfell's Demiplane of Dread and Desire, which was created to house the Wolf-Spider, to be moved to the Abyss. The Raven Queen, vastly underestimating the Prince of Undeath, did not realize that their pact would give that portion of the Demiplane of Dread and Desire to the Demon Lord and transfer it to Pandemonium. Yes, the Raven Queen had Black Razor, but a portion of her power had been eternally lost to Orcus, infuriating her.

However, the Raven Queen has been watching what has been occurring within the Abyss, as several Demon Lords have escaped to the Prime Material Plane of Faerún, including Orcus, the death of Tiamat at the hands of a Cabal of chromatic dragons, and the disappearance of Lolth. It has lead her to reach out to the Queen of Chaos to solicit support, believing that they might find common ground in their enmity of Orcus.

For her part, the Raven Queen still claims to have some hold over the portion of the Demiplane of Dread and Desire that holds the Queen of Chaos' lover and general, Miska the Wolf-Spider in Pandemonium. And the Queen of Chaos, for her part, has claimed that she can enchant Black Razor to slay Orcus, once and for all. Of course, all that she requires is the freedom of her beloved and the opportunity to rule the Abyss, for the Raven Queen to walk away after the Prince of Undeath is slain.

All that either Queen requires now are heroes, valiant or foolish enough to go after Orcus and slay him. Although, for her part, the Raven Queen has much to offer her champions. Saint Cuthbert has been trapped within the Demiplane of Dread and Desire and she can offer his freedom in exchange for their service. Additionally, the Raven Queen is older and wiser now and she is prepared to use Miska as a bargaining chip. Now all she has to do is lure her champions into their service, with Death, Undeath, Fate, and Winter all hanging in the balance.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Blank Page Has Been Winning

Back in April personal life got in the way here and derailed my daily posting. Nothing earth-shattering just changes in my professional and family life. Stuff that has worked out well, but something had to give and Cross Planes was it.

But that's not the full story either. 

Since December I've been struggling with inspiration for posts, which is odd because ideas are usually fast flowing for me. But at the same time I have been approaching the blog with a more professional attitude, trying to grow readership and even some monetization. Maybe that was the wrong attitude or maybe I just needed a break? I'm feeling better about the whole thing because the other night, as I was struggling to think of something to post, I just decided to not let the blank page win anymore.

I can't promise this to ever be the best written or most creative blog in the world and I'm owning that. I have several bloggers that truly impress me and I hope to one day be even half as good as they are, but we will just have to see.

Thanks for joining me.

Fiend Folio: Crypt Thing for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

A pale, solitary skeletal being which always wears a brown, hooded robe, the crypt thing stays in its lair permanently (at least, none have been encountered elsewhere) and will not attack if it is left undisturbed.

Its special power is its unfailing ability to cast an improved form of a teleportation spell on a party.

Medium undead, neutral evil

Armor Class 16
Hit Points 18 (4d8 + 4) 
Speed 30 ft.
   Str            Dex         Con           Int         Wis         Cha
14 (+2)        13 (+1)        16 (+3)        11 (+0)      10 (+0)      9 (-1)
Damage Resistance bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from non-magical weapons
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities exhaustion, poison
Senses darkvision 90 ft., passive Perception 9
Languages common
Challenge 1 (100 XP)
Patient. A crypt thing will not attack if it is left undisturbed.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. 
Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) slashing damage.

Banish (Recharge 6). As an action, the crypt thing attempts to teleport each creature within 30' in a random direction. The targets must make  DC 13 Constitution saving throws or be teleported 1000'. Roll a d6 for each target to determine the direction they are teleported: A roll of 1 is north, 2 is east, 3 is south, 4 is west, 5 is one dungeon level above their current location, or a 6 is one dungeon level below their current level.
   If any of the targets would arrive in a place already occupied by an object or a creature, the target will take 4d6 force damage.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

RPG Blog Carnival June: Gonzo and Cross-Genre Gameing

I have participated in the RPG Blog Carnival before, but this is my first time hosting. You can learn more about the Carnival and even visit it's archives at Johnn Four's Roleplaying Tips.

During June, Cross Planes will act as the "Central Stack" for all of these articles. If you choose to contribute (please, please do) I would be eternally grateful if you left in the Comments belwo with a link to your article.

This month's theme is:

Gonzo and Cross-Genre Gaming

Let's look at gonzo for a moment, we're talking about crazy, madcap, anachronistic adventures. Games like Gamma World, Rifts, Feng Shui, Over the Edge, Exalted, World of Synnabar, and Paranoia.

Cross-Genre games are like chocolate and peanut butter (you hope, at least), mixing two or more inspirations for something new. Games like Rifts, Deadlands, TORG, and settings such as CthulhuPunk for GURPS, Pulp Cthulhu, ADnD's Spelljammer and Planescape, Nocturnals for Mutants and Masterminds (truthfully, most super hero games are cross-genre).

Gods, Magic Weapons, M-60s and Bazookas? Hela, yeah! 

The name of my blog, Cross Planes, in fact is an homage to pulp fiction as the name was inspired by Robert E. Howard's hometown of Cross Plains, TX. And in my mind's eye Cross Planes is city somewhere in the middle of the Polyverse where anyone or anything can be encountered.

One property that I've covered extensively here is He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It's a great example of gonzo (you guys remember Rio-Blast and Sy-Klone, as examples) and cross-genre (fantasy with laser guns, sky sleds, and cosmic enforcers).

Over the next month I intend to flesh out He-Man's Eternia as a setting and introduce some original elements to either bring the gonzo to your table or mix some strange elements within your game.

At the end of June, I will write a short compilation article gathering all the submissions. I can't wait to see what you contribute! Good luck and have fun.

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 ...