Saturday, March 25, 2023

Deadlands: From the Journal of Erebus Bullfinch - The Siege Perilous

August 15th, 1883

As autumn approaches I can scarcely guess where the spring and summer of this year have gone. It was late February when Simeon Whately's bequest of his personal library and collection of artifacts was donated to the University. Soon afterward, the Head Archivist of the Natural History Department and my boss, Doctor Reginald J. Balsam, became all consumed by his examination of a rare and delicate book within the dead man's donation.

Most in New England are aware of Simeon's role in the Boston Children's Fund and the string of disappearances of Beantown orphans associated with it. While Police couldn't prove the children were the victims of foul play, as no bodies have ever been found, no arrests were made even though Simeon was tried in the court of public opinion and essentially became a recluse for these past thirty years.

With Dr. Balsam focused on the mysterious tome that has left me to oversee cataloging the man's artifacts. As a younger man, Simeon carried on his family's tradition of travel, often in the company of his late twin sister Silf, and the artifacts donated hail from many strange and exotic locales. I've inventoried a yeti's skull from Nepal, the preserved carcass of a Mongolian death worm, and the skeleton of a giant from Vermont.

However, I've spent the last two weeks focused on a large ruby set in a golden frame that matches the description of the Siege Perilous from several sources trusted by the University, including Paracelsus and Saint Germaine. I beseeched Dr. Balsam for aid as I do not feel that I am experienced enough in my work yet to handle something as important as this find could be. While Dr. Balsam was very clear that his research superseded mine he did persuade the Chair of the History Department, Dr. Edwina Rosewater, to aid me in my work. At first, Dr. Rosewater was very skeptical of my conclusions, but in the last week  her opinion has dramatically changed as more and more sources keep confirming my discovery. Edwina recently procured a copy of the Grand Grimoire of Merlin Ambrose which claims that during the full moon of August, known as the Sturgeon Moon, the Siege Perilous's gem will be transmuted into an emerald for approximately one hour and if the wielder knows the right incantations they can open a portal to...somewhere else. I wish that information could be more clear as I've uncovered a number of possible destinations ranging from our Moon, to the realm of Faerie, and even to Hell itself.

Edwina...Dr. Rosewater and I have decided to test this theory out on the first night of the Sturgeon Moon in four day's time.

I'm uncertain what I am hoping to find. If the Siege Perilous exists whatever mythic items might be real? Excalibur? The Spear of Longinus? The Holy Grail?

Part of my reservations come from the fact that I have grown certain that a tall, thin man seems to be observing me here at the University and outside my boarding house of Maple Street. I've warned Edwina but thus far she doesn't think she is being watched yet.

Dark times seemed to have grown common place since our War Between the States and if this discovery is real could it become a bright light to burn away the growing darkness? 

We will know soon enough.

Power: On the three nights of a full moon the Siege Perilous may be used to open a doorway to the Hunting Grounds that will last until dawn. The doorway is open both ways and does allow beings in the Hunting Grounds to enter our world. Additionally, if a being trained in the Occult skill gains a success they may open a gateway to the Hunting Grounds at any time and become Fatigued and any beings within 30" of it may make a Notice trait roll at +1. On a Raise the being is not Fatigued and at the Notice roll is at -1. The being can close that gateway at any time and will close immediately if they go unconscious or die.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Spotlight on Imperium Maledictum a Warhammer 40,00 RPG


I've always been a sucker for the lore and setting of Warhammer 40,000 and while I've owned several of the RPGs set there I've never actually played any of them. Imperium Maledictum from Cubicle 7 just released today and I hope to rectify that sometime later this year.

This new RPG treads similar ground to Dark Heresy with the the Characters working for a Patron and hunting down heretics and xenos who seek to corrupt and destroy the Imperium of Man.

Imperium Maledictum uses a d100 system very similar to their Warhammer Fantasy Role Play 4th Edition where Success Levels see the result of the 10s die subtracted from the Tens Place of a Skill but seems to lack the Momentum mechanic introduces in the latter game.

Before Character Creation begins you are walked through creating a Patron for the group to work for. I've really enjoyed the Eisnhorn and Ravenor novels and both of them were larger than life characters whose agents were and extension of what made them so cool and I like this approach. The Patron has ties to and influence with several Factions serving the Imperium that range from Adeptus Mechanicus to Astra Millitarum to Inquisitors to Rogue Traders. The Patron's ties and mission are the indicators for what type of game the GM plans to run and I like this choice.

Character Creation begins with what the game's Characteristics that include Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Strength, Toughness, Agility, Intelligence, Perception, Willpower, and Fellowship and start out at 20+2d10. If you choose to roll randomly place them you gain a 50 XP bonus for Advances later.

Origin comes next which tells you what type of world you come from and gives you 2 Advances for specific characterstics and equipment. Again, randomly choosing you grants you bonus XP for later.

Your Faction determines who you were trained by within the Imperium. Options included are the same as during the Patron creation process and gives you the possibility of being a telepath, serving the Navy, or even an outlaw. In the fiction, servants of the Imperium will use nearly any resource or being in their crusade against the forces of Chaos and the Faction portion of creation captures that exceptionally well.

Roles are next and include Interlocutor (negotiators or interrogators), Mystic (psykers), Savant (experts), Penumbra (assassin's or thieves), Warrior, or Zealot. Each presents Talents, Skill Advances (each grants +5%), Specializations to Skills (a Skill can only be improved by 4 Advances or +20% and Specializations allow you overcome that limit), and Equipment.

Looking at Advancement it seems that the Career system of WFRP 4E is not used and it appears you can simply spend XP to increase Characteristics (to a max of 60%), Skills, Specializations (no more than 4 Advances, as well), and Talents.

The PDF released today for $29.99 and I'm still making my way through the book but I'm liking what I'm seeing. Cubicle 7 makes great products and this is no exception with the layout and art successfully showcasing the 40k's atmosphere and look.

I'm really pleased with my purchase and have already made a character. I went the fully random route ending up with a Zealot who works for the Adeptus Ministorum and born on a Feudal World who uses a Chainsword and with Specializations has 69% chance to attack a creature. I was able to create him in under 20 minutes which I found fairly impressive.

You can find IM here.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Manitou Monday: The Cordon Bruja for Deadlands & SWADE

The Cordon Bruja or Witch in Lace, haunts the boomtowns of the West, a shadowy guardian of women who have been the prey of black-hearted and abusive men. The legend holds that a new Bride witnessed her husband's murder by three men looking to lie low from the law and fate made them choose their homestead on the day of their wedding. After killing her husband they savagely attacked, tortured, and hung the Bride on their properties lone tree. 

As the breath left the Bride, who still wore the tattered remains of her bridal gown, her terror and rage caught the attention of a sinister manitou known as Vengaza. The manitou promised a slow and agonizing death to the three men who destroyed her life and the Bride's answer was swift and certain. However, Vengaza was stunned by the Bride's will as the manitou had planned a long and brutal run of atrocities using her corpse, but it could not gain control of the new Harrowed. Vegnaza had taken notice of the woman because of her magical talent for witchcraft but it realized too late that it had vastly underestimated the woman' power.

It wasn't Vengaza but the Witch in Lace, who spent the next 13 days slowly torturing the three men who took everything from her and so many others as they each confessed their crimes while begging for death. 

Vengaza is now trapped by the Witch, who has begun hunting for other such predators, a vigilant and brutal angel of grim retribution, but for some the only ally they have left.


Wild Card

Parry 6 Tough Pace 10 (d10) 

Athletics d6 Fighting d10 

(claws d6 + d4) Shooting d6 | 

Spellcasting d10 Intimidation d8,

Notice d8, Stealth d8 Ag d8, Sm d10, 

Sp d10, St d6, Vi d6 | Edges Arcane 

Background (Magic), Improved 

Arcane Resistance, Level Headed | 

Special Abilities Undead, Wall Walker | 

Power Points 20 | Powers Arcane Protection, 

Blind, Bolt, Confusion, Dispel, 

Drain Power Points, Havoc, Fear, Fly, 

Mirror Self, Protection, Shape Change 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Spotlight on City Guard Chronicles: The Case of the Misguided Lover for Savage Worlds

I have always had a soft spot for fantasy city settings like LankhmarSanctuary, Ankh-Morpork, and the City-State of the Invisible Overlord and in the early days of this blog I created Jarlsburg, my ode to each of them.

Recently, the City Guard Chronicles: The Case of the Misguided Lover was released by Jan Jetmar and Cyril Ronseaux for Savage Worlds Adventure Edition and I purchased it immediately. It was an easy decision as both have done excellent fantasy supplements for SWADE such as Tomes and Prayers, Wand Magic,  and Wizards and Mystics.

The product comes in at 37 pages and gives you an overview of The City and ideas on which cities it would be in settings like Golarion, Eberron, and Hellfrost.

What follows is a tale of murder, betrayal, demonic pacts, and vengeance that is clearly laid out on a timeline starting 9 days before the adventure begins (what a great tool). The organization and lay-out are great for an over-busy Game Master and the scenes it shares leave plenty of room for any improvisation that might be necessary.

I don't want to give the plot away but I think it nails an investigative approach that paints those involved with enough complexity that their varies crimes are relatable and and layered.

I've been looking for a Savage Worlds setting I can run on nights our primary GM is unavailable and this is a great way to kick off a return to Jarlsburg for me and I can't wait for more City Guard Chronicles.

You can purchase it here.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Death's Head Keep: Level 3, Room 1 for the ShadowDark RPG #Dungeon23

Welcome to Level 3 of Death's Head Keep. I'm switching things up as I'm going to use the ShadowDark RPG, whose Kickstarter launched today, for this level. 

If you want to check it out here is a link to its Free Quickstart.

Level 1 starts here and Level 2 starts here and both used Savage Worlds Adventure Edition.

A hexagonal room opens before you with ceilings at least 20' high. There is a large well in the middle of the room and two doors, made of a white wood, to the Northeast and the Southwest.

  • The well is more than large enough for a grown human to fit in. There is small orangish light at its bottom far below. A DC 12 Wisdom Check reveals it is 120' deep and what you are seeing is a Glow Stone whose enchantments typically last 3 to 4 months. If your Check is an 18 or higher you detect a strong smell of copper.
         Climbing down without a rope is a DC 15 Dexterity or Strength Check as the walls are very slick and it takes about 20 minutes. Three failed climbing rolls results in 10d6 damage.With a rope no check is required and it takes about 5 minutes.
         At 40’ deep the walls flares out to reveal more of the cavern below. A DC 12 Wisdom check reveals that the smell of copper is coming from a small lake of blood at the bottomd and the Glow Stone is resting on a high spot out of it. A DC 18 Intelligence check reveals this is the lair of a minor demon known as a Thewgorger and the Glow Stone is merely the top of its head. These demons consume every part of their meal accept the blood. It cannot climb the walls, but will pursue on the rope.

    Nightmarish and sleek predator with a huge mouth of razor sharp fangs.
    AC 14, HP 24, ATK 1 bite +4 (2d6), MV near,
    S +4, D +2, C +3, I -2, W +0, Ch -3, AL C, LV 3
  • The door to the Northeast is locked. A DC 15 Intelligence Check identifies the white wood of the door as Cloud Oak or Cotton Oak. It is rare and mostly found in the Summerlands to the South where it is considered sacred to the their druids. If the check is 20 or higher you know that the they follow the Ivory Path and they flay trespassers then display their bones at the edges of their territory.
        A DC 15 Dexterity Check will open the door’ lock, which is not trapped, and reveals a 10' x 10' armory whose shelves are nearly empty. There are 17 crossbow bolts, 1 hand crossbow, 1 maul, 1 morning star, 1 rapier, and 2 short swords.
         A DC 18 Wisdom check reveals a hidden shelf at the far end of the room that has a Potion of Invisibility (turn invisible for 10 minutes, 2 doses) and a black Pearl of Power (once per day, you may regain the ability to cast a spell you have lost; this cannot restore a spell lost due to a Critical Spellcasting failure).
  • The door to the Southwest is made of the same wood as above and is not locked. It leads to Room 2 on this Level.

Thundarr the Movie

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