Sunday, April 14, 2019

"Unskilled" Skill Attempts In Cryptworld/Timemaster/Rotworld

So you're playing Cryptworld (or Timemaster or Majus or Rotworld -- any of the Pacesetter-brand RPGs) and you want to perform an action you're unskilled at. For example, someone needs immediate surgery, but your character doesn't have the Medicine skill. Or the pilot is killed and you're the only one who can land the plane, but you don't have the Pilot skill. Well, the section on "Exclusive Skills" (CW rules, pg. 16) makes the consequences clear:
Characters can use most weapons without having skills for those weapons; they just use their Dexterity or Unskilled Melee score as the base chance for success. Not all skills work this way; many cannot be used unless characters actually have the skill. Such skills are called exclusive. Characters without exclusive skills may never, under any circumstances, attempt to perform actions that require these skills.
Sounds pretty dire, doesn't it? So, in the examples above, the patient dies and the plane crashes. Even the original Pacesetter games have similar limits under the section "Unskilled Attempts to Perform Skills.". But that's kind of a hardline approach, and it's a rule I've had to work around in play.

"So none of us took the Pilot skill!?"

An "exclusive skill" simply means that the PC was never properly trained in that field. They didn't go to school, they have no training, and they've never practiced. But can they try it? Sure, but the odds will be incredibly stacked against them. Here are a few ways to approach it though:

In Chill 1e (page 14), they suggest calculating the skill base for the unskilled character, adding adjustments for skill levels, then dividing by 10 (rounding down) to give a percentage for the PC to fumble their way through it. So, for example, the History skill is calculated by PCN plus WPR divided by 2. So someone with a Specialist-level Skill with PCN of 60 and WPR of 70 would have a History skill of 80 (60+70/2=65, then +15 for Specialist level.) But for someone who is unskilled in History, the chance for that PC would be only 6. (60+70/2 = 65, then 65/10 = 6.5 or 6). So they'd have a 6% chance to recall something they may have heard on TV or in a classroom about the historical information at hand. Pretty rotten odds, but it beats "never, under any circumstances".

I've used this system for non-life-threatening skills, such as Forgery, Investigation, Tracking -- something where there is no chance of injury in case of failure. For these I'll allow the PC to roll a check versus an appropriate Ability, so Forgery might use DEX, Investigation and Tracking might use PCN, etc. However, behind the screen, I would make a hidden roll versus that player's LUCK score. That roll would determine how well they fake their way through the unskilled task. So if they succeed their roll, but the LUCK roll is a failure, they may not realize that they still failed until it's too late. (The forgery is discovered to be fake; their investigation gives them incorrect info; they follow the tracks in the wrong direction.) If the LUCK roll is a success, I treat it as a specific check to determine just how well they succeed. The lower the roll, they better they did.

This is the system I use at home and at conventions. I stress to my players if they can JUSTIFY how one of their skills is appropriate to a situation, I’ll allow it. So instead of a Demolitions skill roll to cobble together some makeshift explosives, I’ve had a player use their Chemistry skill. Need to get past that keypad-locked door, but you don't have the Security Devices skill? No problem, as I've allowed players with the Computers skill or the Electronics skill use their abilities for that same situation. Heck, I’ve given accountants a chance to discover clues using Accounting, as they explained, "My highly analytic mind can find patterns where others may not see them." If the player can describe how their skill can be used in any situation -- as long as it makes sense in some way --I’ll allow the roll.

For your next game, don't be so hung up on the exclusivity of skills. Allow the players some leeway, and use one of the systems I've described to give them a chance to succeed. Otherwise, this may be the end result if someone doesn't take the Stunt Driving skill...

Friday, April 12, 2019

[Cryptworld] All "Creepy Comic Conversions" Now Available In Full Color Print

Greetings Boils and Ghouls! I wanted to let all of you Cryptworld Creeps know that the entire run of Creepy Comic Conversions for Cryptworld are now available in full-color print! That's right, you can get your hands on an actual hardcopy horror comic from the 1950s, then play that very adventure statted out for Pacesetter's Cryptworld horror RPG! Each issue is only $3.99 (or 99 cents if you want just the PDF).

Click the image below or this hyperlink to be taken to the full Creepy Cryptworld Catalog of Color Comic Carnage!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

[Cryptworld] "Creepy Comic Conversion" Issue 3 Now Available

Throw open the crypt doors and race to your mailbox, for today marks the return of the Creepy Comic Conversion series for Cryptworld!

I love horror comics, especially the long-forgotten ones that have entered the public domain. As a way to bring these amazing terror tales back to life, I’ve grabbed one at random and converted one of the stories as a mini-Cryptworld adventure. In this full-color 24-page zine, you first read the short comic story, then the back-half is that same tale now fleshed out and statted up for an evening’s gaming.

So here is Issue 3 of the "Creepy Comic Conversion" series featuring "The Cave of Doom" from Chamber of Chills Number 10 (1952):

In "The Cave of Doom", the players have been invited to travel to the frozen wastes of Antarctica on a most exciting scientific expedition – the possible discovery of a long-forgotten tribe of prehistoric man. Upon arrival at Union Glacier Camp, they will assist anthropologists Paul Norden and John Harding as they traverse across the arctic wastes to investigate an unexplored cavern found at the base of Mount Vinson – the highest peak in Antarctica. What mysteries of the past lie within?

Issue 3 of the "Creepy Comic Conversion" series is now available in PDF at Drive Through RPG. I'll also have print copies available soon at DTRPG as well!

Friday, March 29, 2019


One of my favorite facets of the Dungeon Crawl Classics/Mutant Crawl Classics series of RPGs is the ever-popular Zero-level funnel. Each player starts with a handful of non-leveled, unskilled, common folk who are then presented with a situation far beyond their means to cope. When the adventure has ended, those citizens left standing progress to Level 1. This progress leaves a lot of bodies in its wake.

Lots...and LOTS of bodies.

Because of the meatgrinder-like atmosphere of this inaugural sojourn, many DCC/MCC judges are equipped with a self-inking DEAD stamp. It's almost ceremonial to commemorate the death of these disposable peons with a satisfying KA-CHUNK. I've wondered where these stamps were available and, with a bit of research, managed to get my hands on two -- one for DCC and one for MCC. Folks have asked me where I got 'em, so I'm passing that info along to you now!
I got mine from Vistaprint. They carry a wide variety of stamps -- especially self-inking ones. The one I ordered was the rectangular 1.5 x 3 inch version, which seems to be the "standard" amongst judges. My favorite color to use is red (BLOOOOOOD), although there are several others available if you like. Next up, the site asks you to upload the image you want. I was able to locate the stamp designs most preferred by judges (and thanks to the nameless designer who came up with them). I have placed them here on my blog for you to download.
Just grab the image, and upload it to the site. That's it! The stamp runs a bit over $25 (smaller ones cost less), but Vistaprint runs constant sales and promos, so you can get them for quite a bit off if you look. (I didn't pay more than $20 for either of mine.) That's it!

Now, next zero-level funnel you run, watch the players quake in fear as they see you bring out your Dead Stamp. They'll realize just how high the odds are and that you mean business!


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mutant Menagerie: Hummingoat (MCC RPG)

Hummingoat: Init +5; Atk headbutt +5 melee (1d3); AC 17; HD 1d4; MV 60’ flying; Act 1d20; SV Fort -1, Ref +5, Will +0; AL N.

If a mutant suddenly feels as if they're being pelted with large rocks, there's a good chance they're being accosted by a Hummingoat swarm. A Hummingoat is a small (2" long), quick bird that appears to have the head of a ram. The Hummingoat's head is topped with two curved stone-like horns, which the Hummingoat uses to attack.

When a Hummingoat feels threatened or intruded upon, it will buzz around the head of the interloper, building up speed until it has reached its maximum movement rate. (To the mutant, it will seem as if a large insect is buzzing about his head.) When its top speed is reached, the Hummingoat will ram itself into the mutant, inflicting 1d3 points of damage upon impact. It takes one round for a Hummingoat to recover after ramming its enemy.

Although this attack may seem easily shrugged off, a Hummingoat is seldom encountered alone. There are usually 2d8 Hummingoats encountered in a swarm. If a party encounters the body of a mutant who appears to have been bludgeoned to death, it's best to be cautious of a potential Hummingoat swarm in the area.

(The Hummingoat originally appeared on this blog as a Mutant Future creature. Stay tuned for more MCC conversions!)

Monday, March 11, 2019

Gary Con Day 4: Weasel Disguises, Daylight Savings Confusion, And Bumper Crunchin'

Ah, the last day of a convention is always bitter-sweet. Trying to squeeze in a few more precious hours of gaming while also packing up everything you brought (and purchased) for the long sojourn home. The final report for the final day of Gary Con will be short, as I only ran one game, and I don't think you want to read about my 7-hour trip home. So, one last time for the event, these are my thoughts and "random encounters" as the day happens. Here we go:
  • This morning's mental arithmetic: "Let's see, I forgot to reset my car's clock before I drove to Wisconsin which is in the Central Time Zone. I'm in Eastern so I...drop back an hour? My phone reset to the correct time, but now it's Daylight Savings, so that's another hour I lost? Or did I gain it? What time will it be when I get home later tonight? Hell, is it Saturday or Sunday?" So I go up at 4:30 a.m. just to be safe, because I'm still not truly sure what time it is.
  • The wind was howling and blowing all night. I was hesitant to look out the window for fear of seeing 8 inches of snow or something. But it looks like all is clear, just windy and cold. I'm from Ohio. I can do "cold" no problem. I just don't want to make a 7-hour roadtrip this afternoon in snow.
  • My pal Justin asked me to pick up the newest DCC adventure for him, so I need to hit the vendor's hall when they first open at 10 a.m. However, my game begins at 10 a.m. right down the hall. I'll need to ask my group's indulgence to start 5 minutes late as I dash up the hall and back to complete my geas. (Now THERE'S a D&D term you don't get to use in everyday conversation!) 
  • Speaking of fantasy tropes, my final playtest game of FORSOOTH! was a rollicking rousing success as we laughed so hard, three players had headaches. (Need to add a warning to the book: Playing FORSOOTH! could lead to brain damage. Play with caution.) Some events of note: The thief disguised himself as a weasel (long story), startling the fighter, who decked him so hard he flew across the room and left his impression on the far wall; while trying to control the mind of a chicken, the magic user failed the roll and found himself body-swapped with afore-mentioned poultry. Sadly, his chicken-minded body tried to take flight and plummeted off the side of a very tall bridge; cleric smites the Big Bad Villain who yells out "Who ARE you people?", followed by the fighter's blows to his face: "What did I do to any of you?", followed by another round of beatings, "DID MY EX-WIFE SEND YOU!?". Every five minutes the game paused while we all caught our breath from laughing so hard. Damn, this was fun both times I ran it, which is what I wanted from this parody RPG. Thanks to all my playtesters!

  • Gary Con's dates for next year have already been announced: March 26-29, 2020. SAVE THE DATE!
  • ARGH. On my way home last night, I got hit by a truck. At a toll booth, the truck (hauling a flat bed trailer) must've pulled too far forward. He tossed it in reverse and backed into me. He paid his toll and pulled forward and (I thought) looked like he was pulling over to deal with this. I paid my toll (very flustered at the time), pulled through...and he was GONE. I drove like hell to catch up, but he must've taken an exit or something before I could find him. Only damage though was to my license plate frame and a small scuff on my front bumper. I got lucky, but I'm still seething over the event. Not exactly a good way to end my weekend...
  • Complaints about my personal bumper car event aside, Gary Con reminds me once again of what I love about this hobby -- the people. All of my players and GMs were top-notch folks. The folks who organize this con do a fantastic job, going far above and beyond to ensure everyone is comfortable and welcomed. Gary Con feels like a family reunion -- with lots more gaming than you get at Gramma's house. I cannot praise the convention enough, and I'll be back in 2020!
Here are a few pix to round out my last report...
Today's Gary Con shirt is one of my own design. Available at my Zazzle page! 

A hush falls over the empty hallways. In the distance, you heard the approach of bleary-eyed gamers. Roll for initiative.
Gary Con just swallowed up the Grand Geneva for four days.
 Upon arriving home, my new Gary Con cap now joins my other gaming caps.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Gary Con Day 3: Overpowered Wineskins And Overpowered Magic Missiles

Day 3 of Gary Con has come to a close early for me as I try to get warm and dry this evening. Had a great time today at this monster gaming event, but my time here is starting to come to a quick end. Heck, even Daylight Savings Time has conspired to take away one more valuable hour of gaming this weekend. Such is fate, I guess.

As usual with these little travelogues, these are my thoughts and experiences of the day's events as they occur. Here we go:
  • On the drive over, I was behind a car with a DCC RPG license plate frame. What made this even better was that the license plate read "TPK". Wish I had been able to meet the driver!
  • As I pulled into the Grand Geneva Lodge driveway, I passed a fairy door set into one of the trees. Charming little touch to the facility and kinda makes it all the better as Gary Con's current home.
  • Today is Hawaiian Shirt Saturday in honor of Gary's favorite iconic shirts he wore. I think more than  50% of attendees (self included) were wearing Hawaiian shirts. There is even a yearly photo taken of everyone decked out, but I was unable to get to the lobby for the photo because...
  • At 10 a.m., I was ready to run a new set of through Dead In The Water, my upcoming adventure for MCC RPG. As before, the team's village was overrun by waterlogged un-dead, but they discovered the Ancient fluid that explodes upon contact with fire! (And, of course, the explosion took out one or two of the 0-level thralls.) Some other scenes of interest: A Great White Gull landing on a victim and tearing off his head; another mutant was bitten by a flying tarantula while 75 feet up a ladder, causing him to fall to his death; and -- most interestingly -- the team had gathered many waterskins filled with that same explosive fluid and used it to great effect to blow up the Big Bad Mutant at the center of the chaos. Never occurred to me that the most dangerous item in the adventure could be turned around and used as the most powerful weapon in the game! Well done team!
  • Right after that game ended, I got to play in DCC RPG "The Corpse That Love Built" run by the adventure's creator Stephen Newton! In this horrific outing, our band learned of missing villagers and hideous experiments in unlife occurring at the mysterious castle on the hill. At one point, my halfling was set on fire. He survived the near-death experience, but was horribly scarred by the experience. After nearly dying at the hands of scorpion-hounds and a screaming lich-like woman, we finally found the mad doctor and his 20-foot tall creation. The "Holy Crap Did That Just Happen" moment occurred when our magic user spellburned 10 points for a Magic Missile spell, then rolled a NATURAL 20! By the time the spell ended, there was 80+ points of damage to everything and everyone we were up against, completely wiping out the threat as the rest of us clapped and applauded. What a way to end the session! Fantastic adventure!
  • When I left Gary Con, it was raining. I mean, it was RAINING. I raced out to my car, but I parked pretty far away so I got drenched. And the temperature is 35 degrees, so it was the barely not-frozen kind of rain that just chills you to the bone. So, although it's a bit early, I'm now in my room in some dry clothes and drinking some coffee as I try to knock away the chill.
  • Tomorrow I run one final game of FORSOOTH! and then my Gary Con comes to an end. I'm to check out and hit the road immediately thereafter, so the wrap-up post will be posted later upon m,y return home. Stay tuned...
And here are a few pix to round out today's report...
Today's Hawaiian shirt selection worn by Yours Truly reflects my love of kitschy Dogs Playing Poker artwork. 

 As proof, this is a picture from my gameroom at home with my Dogs Playing Poker art gallery. Yes, that's an original black velvet painting.

 This one gaming table was filled with folks wearing the iconic Hawaiian shirt.

Here is another group of happy-go-lucky mutants as they try to thwart the threat of Dead in the Water.

Stephen Newton poses with the very copy of The Love That Corpse Built he just spent 4 hours tormenting us with. Fantastic horrific adventure!