Friday, April 20, 2018

"Quill Noir" '30s Pulp Detective Setting for Quill RPG Now Available

Quill: A Letter-Writing Roleplaying Game for a Single Player is one of my favorite stand-alone solo games, as this review I wrote will attest. Last year, I wrote a scenario supplement for Quill called Quill Quest, in keeping with the pseudo-medieval theme of the original game. However, the open-ended mechanics of Quill seemed to be easily adaptable to other genres, other themes. So I stripped away the fantasy world trappings of original Quill and placed the game smack-dab in the middle of the 1930s pulp detective era. Hang tough, gumshoes, as you're about the enter the rough-and-tumble world of Quill Noir!

The case had me bewildered. I lit up a Lucky Strike and leaned back in my chair, propping my feet up on my desk. Lacing my fingers behind my head and closing my eyes, I mulled over what Sgt. Ward had said. Despite the fact mob boss Felix Bunte would be free to swoop in and take over the waterfront district, I didn’t think he had anything to do with Martino’s murder. It was too sloppy to be one of his goons. The blood at the crime scene had come from someone else; there were animal hairs clutched in Martino’s hand; and there was a cigarette butt found near the body. My eyes popped open and I lept from my chair as if I had been seated on Ol’ Sparky. I lunged for the phone and hurriedly dialed the station as I fumbled with my hat and overcoat.

“Sgt. Ward? Yeah, it’s me. Grab a couple of your boys and meet me at Luanne McKenzie’s place. Yeah, Martino’s girlfriend. I want to ask her again how she hurt her hand. Stop by Judge Smalls’ place on your way and get a search warrant too. I want to check out any fur stoles in her closet as well as what brand she smokes.”

Quill Noir takes place in the world of 1930s pulp crime fiction novels and 1940s hardboiled detective films. In Quill Noir, clever gumshoes try to solve baffling cases while gangsters and gun molls thwart their efforts to bring the guilty to justice. Using a new Quill letter format, “The First-Person Narrative,” you'll compose your solution in a first-person perspective, as if you were mulling over the facts of the case to yourself while sitting in your seedy downtown office, interrogating a suspect in a back alley, or staring down a mob enforcer. Quill Noir contains six new Character archetypes (the Private Eye, the Plainclothesman, the Dilettante, the G-Man, the Newshound, and the Enforcer) and four exciting cases for you to solve.

Quill Noir is now available in PDF at Drive Through RPG. (A copy of Quill: A Letter-Writing Roleplaying Game for a Single Player is required to play.) Both Quill and Quill Noir (and Quill Quest too) are available as Pay What You Want releases, so try before you buy, if you prefer. Also, Quill and Quill Noir have been released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

AcadeCon Day 2: Cryptworld Thralls And Dungeon Shirts

Good morning everyone and welcome to Day Two here at AcadeCon, the Dayton-based convention produced and run by The RPG Academy. It's 6 a.m. as I start typing up today's post, and I'm fueling up with a box of Entenmann's donuts and a cup of Death Wish Coffee before I head down for the day. The open gaming area is open 24 hours, so I'm curious to see how many bleary-eyed stalwarts pulled an overnight campaign. Let's go find out, shall we?
  • Today I got to wear my Old School Dungeon Map t-shirt at a gaming convention! This shirt is based on the Classic RPG Map cloth design I created that now adorns many dice bags. I had this made at Zazzle, and it turned out fantastic. (Oddly enough, I saw someone else wearing a dungeon map shirt, but his was the Tomb of Horrors, I believe. Wish I had gotten a photo...) Want one of your own? Check out my Zazzle store!
  • When I went over to the con floor early this morning, I actually found one game of D&D (5e, I believe) that went all night. The players looked a bit exhausted, but one still managed a weak "Yeah, got 'im!" fist pump as they took down yet another creature in the wee hours. Game on, my friends. Game on.
  • I had signed up to play a DCC RPG game this morning, but my throat was a bit hoarse this morning and I didn't want to blow it out yelling for four hours, so I bowed out. After trying (and failing) to find a pick-up board game in progress, I instead returned to my room and broke out my Kickstarter-fulfilled copy of Untold: Adventures Await and ran through a solo game. (Expect a review of this Story Cube-moderated RPG in the future!)
  • Returned to the vendor hall and discovered a copy of Kobolds Ate My Baby! Played this game years ago, and was pleased to find a copy for purachse! ALL HAIL KING TORG!
  • Sat down at a table to grab a bite and was joined by two friends who were also here for the first time. Speaking of first times, they also attended their first Gen Con this year -- the massive 50-year anniversary. "So, what'd you think of Gen Con?" I asked. "Crowded. So very, very crowded," they both said nearly simultaneously.
  • Holy crow, this afternoon, I had my first duel CRYPTWORLD player death in a convention-run game. Dying in a CRYPTWORLD game is pretty difficult, as you typically run out of Stamina and fall unconscious LONG before you take that last Wound. But I had two players who fell prey to a few Critical Wound results. As we played my adventure "Unquenchable" (available in the future "Burial Plots" supplement), one player was horribly (HORRIBLY) managed by one of the THINGs, and he began to transform into one of them during the game. Another player was down to a few Stamina points and one Wound due to a series of bad rolls, and he ended up getting strangled to death by another thrall. The transforming player, who missed a Willpower save, became truly evil and shot his teammates who then returned fire, nearly killing him. He was taken in by DAPA where he'll spend the rest of his short life being examined before he's dissected like a lab experiment! The players loved the horrific nature of the way the game ended (two survivors crawling out of the forest) while I was left with my jaw dropped as the sheer carnage that occurred!
  • And, with that, the evening comes to a close. Nothing really scheduled for the evening, so I returned to my room, played a solo game of Camp Grizzly, and am now retiring to bed. I'll be getting up early tomorrow to return home (meeting the wife for pancakes!), so I'll close out by saying "Thanks AcadeCon! I had a great time!"

Friday, November 10, 2017

AcadeCon Day 1: Tackling A Chaos Lord And Fighting Off Killer Bunnies

Howdy gang, and welcome to the official first day of AcadeCon! Although this is my first time at this event, this is the fifth year for this Ohio gaming convention produced and run by The RPG Academy. ("If you're having fun, you're doing it right!") As usual during these travelogues, I'll be stopping by my room off-and-on to post my observations and thoughts as the event goes on. So read on for today's highlights!
  • On the drive here, I stopped at a Dollar General store in some small never-before-heard-of small town. And there, on the shelves, were 10 cans of super-sugared, super-caffeinated Jolt Cola. Looks like I'll be gaming like it's 1985!
  • I reached my hotel next to the Dayton Convention Center where AcadeCon is being held. Handed my keys to the valet and entered to check in. Oops, forgot to get my luggage out of the trunk. Valet brought car back around. Tipped valet big due to the hassle. Went to room. Oops, left my cell phone in the car. Valet brought car back around. Tipped valet extra-big due to the extra-hassle.
  • Cool, my room is right next to the walkover concourse to the convention center! From my room to the convention takes all of 4 minutes. Convenient!
  • AcadeCon is a newer convention being run by folks who are passionate about the event. It shows. The staff really is going out of their way to make sure everyone is having a good time. I appreciate the extra attention they give the attendees.
  • Conversely, I overheard one of the organizers explain to an attendee that they didn't have hardcopy event schedules here, as it was a mess to clean up last year and everything was online anyway. That's great and all, unless -- like me -- you're a Luddite without a smartphone. If I wanted to see what table an event was scheduled for, I had to return to my room and look it up on my laptop. And if I had some spare time and wanted to see what events were open, I had to return to my room -- again -- and look it up on my laptop. Although it's probably a great convenience to others, it's a royal pain in the neck for me. 
  • Vendors were still setting up when I got here, so shopping is a bit sparce Friday afternoon. But I did score a full set of Impact glow-in-the-dark dice, which will get a lot of use in future Mutant Crawl Classic games! Speaking of that system...
  • At noon, Nick, Mike, Andrew, and I played in the classic DCC adventure "Sailors on the Starless Sea" run by Tim Grunkemeyer. Each of us played four characters in the funnel, so we felt pretty good with the odds in our favor. However things didn't go well for us. I'll keep spoilers minimal, but here's how my cast of PCs met their ends: Broderick - absorbed by a gelatinous tar creature; Abner - killed by my own party after becoming possessed and attacking my teammates (sorry Mike!); Trinion - dragged to a watery grave by a tentacle from nowhere. My glorious death though was Brennon, who charged a newly-formed Chaos Lord and (burning all of my Luck) tackled him, carrying both him and my PC into a lava crater, killing them both. It was suicide, but it ended the resurrection of a Dark Lord. So "Yay me!" Thanks for the game, Tim. It was fantastic!
  • However, I didn't have anyone sign up for my 5 p.m. game of Cryptworld, so it looks like Experiment TB-4 is left running rampant through the lonely halls of Vinton Hills Metropolitan Hospital for the last time at any convention. (Although YOU can try to stop the creature when Burial Plots for Crypworld is released this December!)
  • Came back to the room to relax a bit and chug a Jolt Cola. While taking a look at the events run
    later this evening, one caught my eye being run by a designer I recognized -- Craig Campbell of Nerdburger Games, known for the recent Murders & Acquisitions RPG. He was playtesting his new RPG: Die Laughing, The Horror Comedy Storytelling Game. I raced to the con floor and grabbed the last open chair. In the game, the players are typical horror movie archetypes trying to survive the B movie forming around them. The movies and scenes grow organically as the players take turns as the "stars" of each scene as well as becoming the director of someone else's scene. In our game, I played the jock, Brock Van Johnson, who found himself at the local Renaissance Faire (huzzah!) as weird stuff began to happen. With Brock was Arnold the nerd, Tommy the preppy, Bo the gearhead, Stacy the cheerleader, and Benny the class clown. As people started screaming and racing for the exits, we discovered that mutant rabbits had spawned in the nearby hills, which were descending on the Faire, consuming everybody. (This, after all, is a COMEDY horror movie.) Brock didn't believe any of this was real (it had to be one of Benny's stupid jokes) and he picked up a rabbit and stuck his finger in its mouth, daring it to bite him. It did, taking his finger CLEAN OFF. Due to a series of bad rolls, Brock bled out, dying in a most non-heroic way. Though dead, I (as the player) then became a producer of the movie, able to alter and change the script as the still-alive players struggled to stay alive. Each new death brought in a new producer who screwed with those still living as the comedy of errors increased. In the end, Benny survived (still wearing a salvaged suit of armor) in the movie titled "The Day There Was No Joust". Fantastically funny game, and I'm looking forward to the official Kickstarter for it next year.
  • As the day winds down, so am I. I have a Cryptworld game tomorrow with players signed up, so let's see how they do against the horrors of "Unquenchable" as it's played for the last time in a convention setting! Stay tuned for tomorrow's post from AcadeCon 2017!
And, in closing as I always do, here are some photos of Things Of Interest:
AcadeCon tables as they were earlier on Friday before the games really got underway.

The registration booth was always humming, and the Play to Win game booth had a lot of great games you could win.

This year's official t-shirt and swag as well as my official ID for the con.

 Jolt Cola chillin' in my room fridge.

Even though I "seeded" the area with Cryptworld posters and Comic Conversion Issue 2, I had no Cryptworld players on this first day.

Nearly every table was filled with gaming as the evening wore on.

Craig was good enough to sell me his only hardcopy of Murders & Acquisitions as well as a work-ion-progress copy of Die Laughing. (I plan to run this myself!) I also picked up a set of Impact glow-in-the-dark dice.

And they REALLY GLOW. (Taken in the darkened bathroom of my hotel room.)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The NaGaDeMon Strikes Again! (National Game Design Month 2017)

It's November, and while others churn out their Great American Novel during NaNoWriMo, I prefer to focus my efforts during the National Game Design Month, or "NaGaDeMon." In 30 days, you are encouraged to imagine, design, write, and play a game of your own design. It can be anything: a board game, a video game, a card game, or an RPG.

NaGaDeMon is a fun exercise for some folks, as they endeavor to create a new game whole-cloth within one month. However, I use the occassion to wrap up and release some long-ignored project that I've been noodling around with during the previous 11 months.

This month, I'm focusing on my Creepy Comic Conversions for Cryptworld. Issue 3 is nearly done, and I have one or two other issues in mind as well. And, if I get lucky, I might have time to compile and release the first Creepy Comic Conversion COMPENDIUM!

Sound off in the comments if you plan to participate this year! It's always great to see who's working on what. And NaGa DeMon is a great way to get motivated to actually produce something for your favorite game!

And here are a few places you can go for more information:

The NaGa DeMon website
The NaGa DeMon facebook page (NaGa DeMon's founder)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

[CRYPTWORLD] "Burial Plots" Origins Of Horror Part 5: "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear"
As the Kickstarter for Goblinoid Games' CRYPTWORLD adventure compilation Burial Plots enters its last 24 hours, I thought it'd be fun to explain where each of these horrific scenarios came from. (These reflections will be full of spoilers for the adventures within, so if you plan to play in any of them, proceed with caution!) The fifth adventure I wrote, "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear," was a macabre Christmas gift to Cryptworld fans...

Like a lot of people, my two favorite holidays are Halloween and Christmas. And anything that can combine the two diametrically opposite seasons is very cool in my eyes. I especially love horror films that take place on Christmas. No, not "Nightmare Before Christmas" (though that happens to be a holiday favorite). I'm referring to such fare as Jack Frost, Santa Slays, Black Christmas, Silent Night Deadly Night, Krampus, etc. (And I have a special place in my heart for Tales From The Crypt's killer Santa in "…And All Through The House".) So a few years back, I decided to create my own "Scary Little Christmas" for readers of my blog.

For my bit of Merry Mayhem, I didn't want a killer Santa or snowman to terrorize the players. Instead, I decided to use a THING that doesn't get enough attention: the Puppet Master. During the holidays, homes are decorated with numerous figures and likenesses of Santa, snowmen, reindeer, gingerbread men, dolls, and nutcrackers. Now imagine if all of these toys came to life at the behest of an evil entity! (For added evilness, you could also animate the nativity set under the tree, but having the Three Wise Men attack the PCs is too horrible for my tastes!) Once I decided who the Puppet Master had been in life and why she was turning the holidays into a murder scene, the rest of the scenario fell nicely into place.

As we wrap up, please consider pledging for Burial Plots and discover the horrors lurking within!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

[CRYPTWORLD] "Burial Plots" Origins Of Horror Part 4: "Death In The Dust"
As the Kickstarter for Goblinoid Games' CRYPTWORLD adventure compilation Burial Plots enters its final week, I thought it'd be fun to explain where each of these horrific scenarios came from. (These reflections will be full of spoilers for the adventures within, so if you plan to play in any of them, proceed with caution!) The fourth adventure I wrote, "Death in the Dust," was my effort to create a horror adventure taking place in one of my favorite settings -- The Old West...

The basic idea behind "Death in Dust" came years ago, when I decided that I wanted to run a western-themed CRYPTWORLD game at a convention. Other than the Wild West setting, I really didn't have much of an idea as to the plot. I considered having giant mutant tarantulas as the THINGs infesting the town of Weaver (get it?), but I had pretty much covered the "giant bugs" angle in some other scenarios. I also didn't know how I was going to "prompt" the players into visiting an Old West ghost town in the middle of the desert. What would be the reason? Thoroughly idea-less, I let the concept simmer.

As convention season neared, I revisited the ghost town of Weaver. But what if it wasn't a ghost town anymore? "What if," I thought, "the town had been revitalized as a tourist attraction?" Now I had my reason for the players to visit. Plus, I had inadvertently incorporated another favorite setting -- "the haunted amusement park." I then looked at the name of the camp: "The Weaver Sterling Silver Mine". It was the word "sterling" that jumped out at me. What if that wasn't an adjective, but rather another name? Perhaps a someone who co-founded the town? But if this were the case, why was the town now known as "Weaver"? What happened in the past to erase this person from the historical record? And what would this restless wronged spirit do to those who now celebrated the return of Weaver to its "former glory"?

For the answers, please consider pledging for Burial Plots and discover what other horrors lurk in Weaver, Arizona!

Friday, September 29, 2017

[CRYPTWORLD] "Burial Plots" Origins Of Horror Part 3: "Unquenchable"
As the Kickstarter for Goblinoid Games' CRYPTWORLD adventure compilation Burial Plots is underway, I thought it'd be fun to explain where each of these horrific scenarios came from. (These reflections will be full of spoilers for the adventures within, so if you plan to play in any of them, proceed with caution!) The third adventure I wrote, "Unquenchable," is a hex crawl where my own personal demons stalk the players in a setting where they instead hold all of the cards...

Many of my previous CRYPTWORLD adventures take place in a confined, claustrophobic space: an abandoned hospital, a jetliner in flight, the rotting farmhouse outside of town. So for my next adventure, I wanted to break out of that genre trope and have the setting be eerily "calming." So I created an outdoor hex crawl that takes place in the middle of the day. The sun's up and the players can see for miles. The players are both armed and in constant radio contact with the authorities. How could I take this setting -- where ALL of the advantages are in the hands of the PCs -- and twist it so they instead find themselves faced with a living nightmare? All you need is a good monster -- and lots of them.

They say "Write what you know," so I decided to dip into the well of Sniderman's Personal Fears. You see, spiders terrify me, as I have severe arachnophobia. Monster films featuring spiders -- no matter how low-budget and cheesy -- give me the willies. (In fact, I used this phobia earlier when I wrote "Tangled Threads" found in CRYPTWORLD's first supplement, Monsters Macabre.) So the Tarantulords were to make a comeback. But I wanted these to be even more horrific. More frightening. More dangerous. As I mulled a new hybrid of "werewolf spiders" or "zombie spiders," I chanced upon the concept of  "vampire spiders," and realized with a shudder that THOSE ACTUALLY EXIST.

And thus the protagonists of "Unquenchable" came to horrific life.

I don't want to spoil everything, so please consider pledging for Burial Plots and discover what other horrors are found in the woods!