Monday, March 31, 2014

Forgotton Fiends From The Factory Flying Forth!

Stumbled across this in my Google+ feed this morning. I'm a huge fan of the original "Fiend Folio" for AD&D, and it stands as my favorite monster book. It was filled with gonzo creatures submitted by readers of White Dwarf to their "Fiend Factory" column. But White Dwarf wasn't really available in my neck of the woods, so I never saw the critters that didn't make the cut into FF.

Until today.

Making the rounds is a compilation of  EVERY Fiend Factory article that appeared in White Dwarf magazine. This 155-page PDF was jokingly referred to as "Fiend Folio 2," and I think that's as appropriate as any moniker. Hundreds of weird creatures like Winter Kobolds, Weed Delvers, Flymages, and gods for inhumans fill these pages. Great stuff and plenty of fodder for your games.

Go grab it by clicking this link.

Back To The Default URL For Savage AfterWorld

My URL,, expires in about a week. Since I've been having no end of trouble recently with my domain host, I have decided to let it expire rather than re-up it. So, as of today, please point your browser to Yes, I realize it's slightly more cumbersome, but I'd rather just deal with the default URL from this point forward.

Friday, March 28, 2014

RIP Dave Trampier

Thought I'd toss in my condolences and thoughts on the passing of a great gaming artist. I always enjoyed Dave Trampier's artwork and, in fact, his imagery DEFINED Dungeons and Dragons for me in my formative years. Probably you too.
I don't know about you, but I had the Player's Handbook with me close at hand at the table. Staring at that image of the party looting the statue's eye-jewels while we played in our own game always put me in the mood and painted a vivid evocative picture in my mind.
Meanwhile, whenever I wasn't glancing at the PH cover, I was staring at THIS image. My DM was always lurking behind his trusty DM Screen. I'm sure you've spent many an hour contemplating your next move while staring at this same image.

Trampier is known for so much, much more, so I won't belabor the point any further, except to share one other piece he created that defined me as a gamer. He's the artist responsible for the cover art of this:

Thanks Dave for fueling my imagination and illustrating my thoughts so well.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Goblinoid Games / Pacesetter To Be At Con On The Cob Oct. 16-19

Hey there future Con on the Cob attendees! Be sure to stop by Booth 13 in the Vendor's Hall as Goblinoid Games / Pacesetter will be in attendance! Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future, Starships and Spacemen, plus all of the old and new Pacesetter games will be well represented and available for purchase! See you October 16-19!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Favorite NPC: Meet "Puzzler"

I recall a recent G+ thread where GMs were asked about their favorite NPC. There was a wide variety of non-player characters mentioned: the archvillian who thwarted the PCs at every turn until the campaign ended with his inevitable confrontation and defeat; the innkeeper/bartender who became the party's "go-to" person for rumors, supplies, and accommodations; the femme fatale who eventually became the wife of a player character; etc. But in my home campaign, one NPC stands above all others. Today, I'd like to introduce you to "Puzzler."

"Puzzler" was originally a Villains and Vigilantes NPC. I had a supervillian group known as "The Gamesmen," where each bad guy had a different gaming theme. There was Rook (chess-themed leader and strategist), Videon (videogame-themed electrical terrorist), Delver (RPG-themed barbarian tank), and Bad Sport (sporting-themed weapons expert). Then there was Puzzler -- a puzzle-themed computer hacker, inventor, and thief. Puzzler's suit (illustrated here by Chris Theisen many years ago) had a wild crossword-puzzle pattern and was also fairly impervious to damage. He was incredibly agile, and his belt had several gizmos and devices in it. (The question mark buckle was actually a grappling hook and line.) His primary weapon was The Pencil -- a giant No. 2 pencil that fired hypnotic solid energy illusions that he used to befuddle and confuse his foes. Plus, it made for a dandy battering ram, spear, and all-purpose club when necessary.

But where the other Gamesmen were "serious" villains, Puzzler was more of a nuisance bad guy. He wasn't into crime for profit. He was more into it as a game of one-upmanship. Was he smarter than the supposed "good guys?" To him, being a supervillian was a way to test his intellect against the police, the feds, and any supergoodie who came after him. (Yes, there was a bit of Riddler showing through the cracks.) But here's the fun part I forgot to mention: Puzzler was also completely insane.

Whenever Puzzler appeared in a game, I played him as if Charlie Callas (with a touch of Curly Howard) were cast in "The Ambush Bug Movie." Every comic played-for-laughs bad guy was channeled into Puzzler. The players would be staring into the manhole Puzzler escaped into, trying to plot their next move. Then Puzzler would lean over their shoulders to stare into the same manhole. "What're we looking for?" he ask. There would be a comedic beat, then he'd go scampering into the night, laughing joyously as the players fired energy bolts and concussive sound waves at him. Puzzler was great fun, and any game with him was always a chance for the players to play a "silver age" superhero game more for laughs than any BIG STAKES.

Eventually, I decided to run The Great Super Villain Contest for my players. And I tossed every homebrewed villain I'd ever created into this adventure -- including Puzzler. Puzz easily made it through the first few rounds of the contest but, not one to play fair, he broke into the private offices of The Crimson Claw (the contest organizer)to see what the future rounds were like. When he discovered the final round was a fight to the death amongst all the finalists, he panicked. Puzzler was many things, but he was no killer. But he also knew that to run was a death sentence. So he called upon the only "friends" he had -- my players. "You guys gotta get me outta this!" he begged as my players pleaded with me to let them blast him. But cooler heads prevailed and Puzzler, acting as their inside man, actually helped my players thwart The Crimson Claw. Puzz even saved one or two PCs during the final brawl.

Many months later, the players -- now acting as a government-sponsored superteam -- were asked to train a new hero-in-training. When Puzzler stepped off the bus, I thought my PCs were going to have kittens. "The Crossword Crimefighter" had become the citys' newest superhero, under the tutelage of the PCs. Eventually, Puzz left to protect a town of his own, but the occasional team-ups were inevitable.  

Years after my long-running V&V group dissolved, I introduced Puzzler into a shared superhero universe called "Vanguard Dossier." Much like the Wild Cards universe, the writers each created and "owned" a superhero who could be borrowed and remixed into their shared narrative. As a member of Vanguard, Puzzler's powers, gimmicks, and mental instability were all present, as well as his lengthy backstory as a former villain who reformed. Vanguard Dossier ran for quite a number of issues (near 20 as I recall), and I have them all lovingly collected and filed away for occasional reading. (Vanguard Dossier is also where my first inklings of being a writer surfaced.) Almost 30 years after I first created Puzzler, the Conundrum King still surfaces in pick-up game sessions. Whenever I pick up a new superhero RPG, I inevitably stat up Puzzler first. And that brings me to today.

I recently ran into one of my old V&V gaming group, and we got to talking about past games. He asked specifically about Puzzler and whether I still had his old stats. Sadly all of my old handmade V&V materials are long since gone. But over the course of the conversation, we managed to recreate Puzzler's stats for Villains and Vigilantes. So, in the coming days, I'll post up my favorite NPC for one of my favorite RPGs. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 17, 2014

[Cryptworld] New Thing: Sewer Gator

An Underground Urban Thing for Cryptworld


STR: 7 (105) --- WPR: 2 (30)
DEX: NA   ---   PER: NA
AGL: 5 (75) --- PCN: 3 (45)
STA: 6 (90) --- PWR: NA
ATT: 1/90% --- WND: 16
MV: L 75  W 125

Experience: 500

A Sewer Gator is a monstrously large mutant alligator found living deep within urban sewer systems. It is theorized that Sewer Gators were smaller pet gators when they were younger that were "flushed" into the sewer systems by neglectful owners. A combination of fetid pollutants, human waste products, and possible illegal chemical dumping have mutated these originally harmless pets into gargantuan maneaters lurking in the depths under the city streets.

A Sewer Gator measures 25 feet to 40 feet in length from tip of snout to tip of tail with a height of between 7 to 10 feet. It normally feeds on whatever it can find in the sewers, though a Sewer Gator will come to the surface to feed if it becomes hungry enough. A motivated and hungry Sewer Gator can pop off manhole covers and lunge out at a victim, as well as drain grates and other access portals. Truly monstrous Sewer Gators have exploded from the street itself, landing with a thud on the pavement before devouring everything within reach. Once sated, the Sewer Gator will re-enter its subterranean lair. A sudden decrease in the homeless population could point to a possible Sewer Gator infestation.

Although Sewer Gators are normally found in urban sewer systems, it's also possible to find them lurking in remote swamps and bogs as well as some large fresh-water lakes.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

[Our Last Best Hope] Overgrown: A Mission Playset

A mission playset for Our Last Best Hope

Overgrown Mission
Plantlife has never been considered "dangerous," as it's among the simplest lifeforms on the planet. We consume plants, build structures out of them, cultivate them. Our foods, our medicines, our very existence depends on the flora. But what if the world's plantlife ran unchecked or, even worse, decided to eradicate its biggest threat -- us? The Overgrown mission presents the team with a crisis where the most benign of living things becomes the catalyst for mankind's potential extinction.

Suggested viewing/reading: The Happening, Day of the Triffids, Seeds of Destruction, The Ruins, Little Shop of Horrors

How can we destroy that which we depend upon? – Mankind -- in fact, all life on Earth -- depends on plantlife. Even if humans were able to somehow avoid contact with vegetation, insects and animals are dependent upon plants for sustenance and survival. If we were to poison or destroy all vegetation, in the long run, we'd only be poisoning and destroying ourselves.

Silent, but deadly – Unlike other predators, flora doesn't make a sound. There is no guttural roar, no screech from above, no screams as it descends upon its prey. As the plantlife chokes off and consumes mankind, it comes silently. The only screams are those of anguish as humanity finds itself doomed.

1W – Vegetation growth has accelerated to the point of visible encroachment, and the world is quickly becoming overrun, engulfed, and smothered.
2W – All plantlife starts emitting a virulent pheromone that causes humans to fly into a berserk murderous frenzy.
3W – The world is invaded by an alien form of flora that subsists solely on blood.
4W – Tree root systems throughout the world begin to swell and grow to monstrous proportions, causing the tectonic plates to shift and crack.
5W – A carnivorous parasitic vine has begun spreading through major population areas.
6W – All plantlife has become highly toxic and poisonous to the touch.
1B – Plantlife has begun to spontaneously wither and die across the globe, turning the world into a barren desert.
2B – Dangerous spores are taking root and sprouting in the lungs of all air-breathing creatures.
3B – The natural conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen performed by all vegetation has ceased, and the Earth's atmosphere is becoming poisonous.
4B – Plantlife has become sentient, intelligent, and resentful, and wishes to replace mankind as the dominant lifeform.
5B – Trees globally have grown to gargantuan proportions, and their leaf canopies have blotted out the sun to those underneath.
6B – Pollen counts have skyrocketed and the world is becoming buried in a fine yellow dust as humanity smothers.

1W – Time is running out, and humanity is doomed within hours.
2W – The team is made up of specialized horticultural experts with knowledge specific to the Crisis.
3W – The team has encountered this Crisis before on a smaller scale.
4W – Most of humanity has been decimated by the Crisis.
5W – The team has access to the only piece of equipment that will be of use in fighting the Crisis.
6W – The materials needed to stop the Crisis are nearly depleted and there's only enough for one chance.
1B – The team are the only ones close enough to reach ground zero of the Crisis.
2B – Once underway, the team's communication will be cut off from the outside world.
3B – The team is uniquely immune to the effects of the Crisis.
4B – No one else believes the Crisis is a world-ending event.
5B – The team was isolated from the Crisis when it began and are unaware of the scope of the Crisis.
6B – The team accidentally set the Crisis in motion and feels obligated to stop it.

1W or 1B – The team receives a distress call on-route to the Crisis they must act upon.
2W or 2B – The environment is aware of their presence and is sending out wave after wave of defenses to stop them.
3W or 3B – There is a saboteur actively working to thwart the team.
4W or 4B – The timeline for the Crisis was originally miscalculated, and there's only half the time as originally thought.
5W or 5B – There is another Crisis as well as the original one; roll for a second Crisis that's occurring at the same time.
6W or 6B – The team's original plan won't work, and they must come up with a new one with the resources on hand.

Poisonous plantlife
Prehensile constrictive vines
Giant insect swarms
Oppressive heat/humidity
Razor-like thorns
Insane environmentalists
Aggressively hungry wildlife
Toxic environment

Accurate map of the Crisis zone
Powerful defoliants
Deforestation equipment
Armored all-terrain vehicle
Environmental suits
Medical bay/laboratory

Friday, March 14, 2014

North Texas RPG Con, Here I Come

I have my flight. I have my room. I am registered. And I'm heading south in June...

And now it's time to schedule to run some games and play some games. So, what say you? Up for a new Cryptworld scenario? Some Mutant Future? A DCC RPG adventure I've been kicking around? Some Ghostbusters, perchance? Oh, and there will be a Saturday morning Thundarr run! Lords of Light, it will be magnificent! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cryptworld Wants "The Monsters Under Your Bed"

Hey gang,

Just wanted to remind you that Goblinoid Games is now accepting submissions for their new Cryptworld supplement! Current plans are for a release in the late summer/early fall, so the deadline is approaching faster than a pack of ravenous Ankle Biters. If you have a favorite Thing you'd like to share with a Fearful World, click the link and download the Submission Guidelines. And if you're hesitant because you've never statted up a Pacesetter monster before, the guidelines offer some helpful suggestions on how to create your own Things for Cryptworld.

Looking forward to seeing what crawls out from under your bed!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sneak Peek At Sniderman's 2014 Convention Game Offerings

I'm getting my events lined up for the 2014 convention season. Here's what's on the docket this year:

The Scourge From Beyond Infinity
Dungeon Crawl Classics

The natural flow of time is running amok across the lands, causing every living thing to spontaneously deteriorate, wither, and die of old age. Even the PCs can feel the icy grip of time sapping their youth and vitality. Immune from the ravages of aging, Hyzelsia the Eternal approaches the group for assistance in dealing with this threat. Is the danger magical or natural…or both?

Three Hours ‘Til Armageddon
Villains & Vigilantes

Twenty-four hours ago, a madman promised to detonate a hidden anti-matter device in Washington D.C. unless his demands were met. The city has been evacuated, and the Guardians superteam has been summoned. In three hours, the nation’s capitol will be reduced to rubble. Can your team locate and neutralize the threat in time? (Note to players: This game will be played in REAL TIME.)

Tangled Threads

In 1901, the gold-mining boomtown of Weaver, Arizona, was suddenly abandoned by its citizens after a series of unexplained disappearances, and the town was left to crumble in the desert sands. Recently, however, tourists are flocking to the former ghost town, which has been revitalized as a historical attraction. Is history about to repeat itself?

Seen Through Dead Man’s Eyes
All For Me Grog

Avast, ye scurvy hounds! You’ve been summoned before the cap’n of The Midnight Vulture who has need of your particular “talents.” He knows the whereabouts of a vast treasure that he’s willin’ to share with ye, but it’ll take The Dead Man’s Eyes to reveal its final restin’ place. The cap’n’s waitin’ in his quarters to parlay about this task. And bring a shovel, mates!

Ragnarok-a-bye Baby

Judgment Day may be at hand! Violent earthquakes have been shaking the area, and an eclipse of the sun has lasted far longer than normal. In the center of all of this chaos and destruction, one place seems untouched – The Wee Tots Nursery School. Could this be the Antichrist’s day care center? The Ghostbusters are mobilized to save the world (and perhaps change a diaper or two)!

Thundarr the Barbarian: “The Wizards’ Graveyard”
Mutant Future

Demon dogs! The evil wizard Thraxx has discovered an Ancient weapon that will allow him to destroy The Cleaved Lands! Thundarr, Ookla, and Princess Ariel must journey to the legendary “Wizard’s Graveyard” where the key to his downfall is said to lie! Lords of Light!

[Mutant Future] Savage Menagerie: Chitterer

No. Enc.: 1d4 (2d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 150' (50')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d4
Save: L1
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: None

The Chitterer is a tree-dwelling mammal, about 1 foot across, descended from the common Bygone squirrel. However, the creature has evolved several additional legs which gives it incredible speed in the treetops, as well as a crab-like exoskeleton, giving it a sturdy natural armor.

Chitterers are shy animals, avoiding contact and shying away from most humanoids that enter their forests.  Like a squirrel, the Chitterer is an herbivore, living on a diet of nuts, berries, and other vegetable goods. They rarely attack, choosing to do so only when cornered or threatened. If they do attack, they bite for 1d4 points of damage.

Instead of a confrontation, Chitterers instead defend themselves with their fragrance development mutation. Once a day, a Chitterer can release a hallucinogenic pheromone that affects those who fail a save versus poison. If a save is failed, the victim will be overcome by fearful visions and hallucinations for 2d4 rounds. He will primarily try to flee from these visions, although he may attempt to fight the "creatures" he sees -- which could be his own party members.

Chitterers have no valuables, but they are treasured as a delicacy. Vendors and merchants will pay handsomely for a bagful of the creatures.

Mutations: fragrance development, natural armor