Monday, June 30, 2014

[Let's Make A Cryptworld Module] Part 2: Our Villain--Sheriff Larry Pratt, Werejackal

[[This is the next in a series of blog posts where I plan to take The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook for a spin. Over the coming months, I'll be generating an adventure module for the Pacesetter horror RPG Cryptworld using the book's Adventure Creator. And you can follow along with the creation process...]]

In our first outing with the Adventure Creator, we generated the overarching plot of our narrative, our villain, and his motivation. Today, I wanted to get our monstrous manipulator fleshed out, which will allow us to better envision his machinations in the background as the adventure takes shape. (Our Bad Guy's name and stats were all randomly generated using dice and an online name generator.) And since it's germane to the plot, I'll also present the "powerful artifact" Sheriff Pratt's using to further his goals...

STR: 78 --- WPR: 60
DEX: 55 --- PER: 62
AGL: 85 --- PCN: 92
STA: 72 --- PWR: NA
ATT: 3/90% --- WND: 15
MV: L 225† (75† when human)

Experience: 1,000

Larry Pratt grew up in the small town of Coldcreek, Kansas, where he was elected to the position of sheriff. Throughout the years, Pratt was a well-respected and liked member of the community, even acting as club president of the town’s fraternal organization, “The Mystical Order of the All-Seeing Eye.” But all that changed about a year ago.

While on patrol in an isolated part of the county on the night of a full moon, Pratt was ambushed by a large “coyote” that managed to bite him during the attack. While wrestling with the animal, Pratt grabbed the silver sheriff’s badge from his shirt and stabbed the creature in the eye with one of the star’s points. As the coyote staggered away from the defense, Pratt drew his pistol and shot and killed the feral animal. He was horrified when the animal’s corpse transformed into the body of an unidentified adult male. The man was nude with the exception of a small medallion hanging around his neck. In fear and panic, Pratt buried the body in an unmarked grave, taking the bauble in case it could be later used to ID the body.

Thirty days later, Pratt was horrified to find himself wracked with pain as the lycanthropic curse surfaced. Horror turned to acceptance as he embraced his new-found power as a Werejackal. He converted his two deputies, and the three of them have kept the citizens of Coldcreek subjugated for months. Pratt’s bloodlust and thirst for power has grown, and – with the help of the Eye of Anubis medallion taken from his attacker – Pratt plans to convert the townspeople to Werejackals under his command. Pratt sees himself as the reincarnation of the Egyptian god “Anubis,” and the “All-Seeing Eye” club building is his temple. Over the past few weeks, Pratt has begun a covert operation to infect others with the curse, bringing his new minions under his sway.

As a lycanthrope, Pratt has all of the abilities of a typical Werewolf (see Cryptworld rules, page 72). However, as a Werejackal, his transformed shape is that of a large humanoid dog-like creature rather than a wolf. Pratt is susceptible to attacks from a silver weapon, and takes +5 wound boxes of damage from such an attack.

The Eye of Anubis is a simple, round medallion that allows its possessor to control lycanthropes. The medallion has an Egyptian “eye of Horus” etched on the surface, which is coated in a blackened tint. The medallion is warm to the touch, but otherwise non-descript.

When worn by someone tainted by the lycanthropic curse, the wearer can mentally control all others cursed with lycanthropy within 20 miles. If the minion is in his human form, they should be allowed a save versus their Willpower at +20% penalty to fight the mental control. If the minion is in their wolf or wolf-humanoid form, the control is automatic with no save. The possessor is also able to see through the eyes of any of its thralls. In essence, the Eye of Anubis gives the owner a lycanthrope army at his command.

If the medallion is removed from the wearer, the mental control will be severed. Also, all lycanthropes previously controlled will be aware of their manipulation as well as the identity of who was controlling them. (It often ends badly for the medallion’s former owner at that point.)

Monday, June 23, 2014

[Let's Make A Cryptworld Module] Part 1: Hammering Out Our Villain, His Plot, And Our Players' Motivation

[[This is the first in a series of blog posts where I plan to take The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook for a spin. Over the coming months, I'll be generating an adventure module for the Pacesetter horror RPG Cryptworld using the book's Adventure Creator. And you can follow along with the creation process...]]

To start our horror RPG adventure creation process, we need to first establish our plot points for the adventure. The first thing we'll establish is our Story Plot, i.e., "What's going on?" and "Who or What is behind it all?" Using the Adventure Creator Plot sheet, we will first fill in the Story Plot section using random table-generated rolls. And here we go...
Adventure Type: Recover the Powerful Artifact
Opposition: Unnatural Creature
Motivation: Creativity
Theme: Vulnerability
Plot Device: Secrets of the Pharaohs
Plot Device: Malevolent Lands
Action+Thing: Fire Party
Action+Thing: Excite Strange Artifact

As we brainstorm, we're encouraged to use as little or as much of these prompts as we wish. (So if I ignore a result in any of random charts as we progress, it's because it didn't "ring" for me in this exercise.)

Right off the bat, I want the game to take place in the Present Day. I see that the adventure will revolve around some powerful magical "whatzit" that the party will need to recover from our Bad Guy. I also see that, if this powerful/strange artifact is "excited," and that could lead to a Bad Thing. Magical bauble aside, I see that his motivation along with a plot device are "Creativity" and "Malevolent Lands." Our Bad Guy might be trying to transform an area into someplace different...someplace evil. Our Bad Guy is an Unnatural Creature, but I don't know what yet. But the Secrets of the Pharaohs interest me. What if I make this literally Egyptian? I don't want my Bad Guy to be a Mummy (too cliched), but I do know he's trying to create a new Ancient Egyptian Empire in the here-and-now, using the magical whatzit somehow. But I still don't know Who (or What) our Bad Guy is, nor have I decided upon our powerful artifact...

While I ponder those questions, we'll move onto establishing our Story Background. This will be where our PCs come in. What do they know? Why are they here? The information we generate will give the party a starting point, as well as potentially giving us some insight into our Bad Guy above. Let's see what's going on when the players show up...
Complication: Extra Support
Complication: Doubt
Plot Device: Isolation at its Worse
Plot Device: Odd Newcomer
Action+Thing: Inquire Plotters
Action+Thing: Decrease Werewolf/Lycans
Action+Thing: Abuse Clowns
Location: Assembly Hall
Location: Seedy Part of Town
Location: Estate Grounds

Just looking at the results above has filled in a LOT of blanks for me. (Although "Abuse Clowns" -- although hysterical -- will not be appearing in this module. Sorry!)

The PCs have come to the town because they've heard of a werewolf crisis that's struck the town. Perhaps one or two of the slathering beasts have been spotted or may have even killed a victim or two. Let's assume they're here to offer "Extra Support" to a previous Monster Hunter who arrived earlier. That person sent for them. Although the PCs think this is a straight Werewolf hunt, our NPC may have discovered our Bad Guy's true intentions. (And our NPC may not be there to meet the PCs, having fallen prey to our Bad Guy, perhaps?) The PCs will need to nose around upon arrival.

The townsfolk will not be friendly to the PCs as they "Inquire Plotters", i.e., stick their nose into this small town's affairs. They'll be viewed as "Odd Newcomers", shunned and left without support. ("Isolation at its Worse"). Though, it's actually fear of our Bad Guy that keeps everyone distant...but our PCs don't know that yet! I like "Seedy Part of Town," so as we move into the opening act, we'll make that our arrival point for the PCs as well as the primary focus of the initial investigation. And the "Assembly Hall" gives me an eerie Masonic Hall/Social Organization vibe, as if there is a evil brotherhood working out in the open, appearing as a benevolent social club. Perhaps it's this location where my Bad Guy is based, manipulating things as the "cult leader".

Back to my Bad Guy: The werewolves angle has sparked something. What if these are misidentified as "werewolves", but are in fact "were-jackals"? The lycanthropic curse is being spread by a modern-day Egyptian god Anubis. "Anubis" plans to spread his curse to the town, converting the people into half-dog creatures that will obey him blindly. The town will be converted into his own personal empire with him leading as their "Pharaoh." Currently he's the town's sheriff, so the PCs will get no help from the law (and it's also why the townsfolk refuse to get involved).

And that magical whatzit? It's an ancient "Eye of Anubis" medallion our Bad Guy acquired (or killed someone for). When he wears it, he has total control over all other lycans in the area, and he is able to see through their eyes. He can control his were-jackal minions as his own personal army. If the PCs are able to get control of the Eye, they would be able to turn the tables on our modern-day Egyptian "god" quite nicely...
And there you have it. We've established our Villain's identity and motivation. We've given our PCs some starting information as well as motivation for the initial investigation into the situation. And we have a town slowly being transformed into mindless animalistic minions at the behest of a cult leader who sees himself as a modern god. Not a bad start for a series of random rolls!

When we next pick this up, we'll begin fleshing out Act I, when our PCs arrive on the scene and begin their investigation. And the local sheriff will be watching them from the shadows as he touches the odd medallion hanging from his neck...

Seen Floating On The Radioactive Winds...

More teasers to come soon...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Both A Success And A Failure On Free RPG Day

Well Free RPG Day was both a success and a bit of a bust for me today. The "success" was the event itself, and the "bust" was an unfortunate bit of illness that hit me.

I made the trip down to Ravenstone Games in Columbus, Ohio, both to mark Free RPG Day and to also check out the store as it was one I've been meaning to visit for some time. I got there at 10:30 a.m. when the store first opened, as I know that the Free Swag is in short supply and, having never visited the store before, I wanted to get something before everything was snapped up by the regulars. When I got there, I saw a few folks milling about, so I toured the store. Liked what I saw. Clean, well organized, interesting selection of popular and obscure games. (Store needs to be restocked soon as I saw many game supplements for sale, but none of the core games those supplements...supplement.)

I grabbed this year's DCC RPG offering, leaving the rest of the materials for others to come later. I watched a few folks pick up some swag, then leave without purchasing anything. C'mon folks! Don't be "That Guy." Support the damn store for participating by dropping some coin in his coffers! To make up for what I saw (and because I had my eye on it anyway), I spent a bit more than I had planned by grabbing a copy of Munchkin Deluxe, a Monty Python Fluxx support pack, and a new set of percentiles for future Pacesetter games. (I wished I had picked up the "Welcome to Mortistown, USA" I saw, as it was a licensed Rotworld supplement!)

I chatted with the store's owner for a bit, then headed out to check out my old stomping grounds (went to OSU). My plan was to kill a few hours then return for Jim Yoder's DCC RPG game at 2 p.m. Sadly, around noon, some bug or virus or bodily malfunction kicked in and it became important for me to get home if you get my drift, and I think you do. So I was unable to stick around and play anything. (And a last minute Cryptworld game I tried to assemble that morning didn't materialize either.

VERDICT: I like Ravenstone quite a bit. It's on the north side of the city, so it's very easy for me to get to. Plus, it's located very near to some old haunts of mine (used to work at the old defunct Northland Mall in college) so I'm familiar with the area. I like the store itself, small but with plenty of room, if that makes sense. I totally would like to begin setting up and running games there in the future. And considering I have a FLGS within walking distance of my own house an hour north, that's saying something. So I hope everyone else had a good Free RPG Day. I got some swag, found a new store I like, and have decided to make it my gaming playtest location for adventures and games currently in the works. Thanks Ravenstone! Now that I know where you are and what you're like, I'll be stopping by again more often.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tomorrow Is Free RPG Day!

Pop quiz, hotshot. This Saturday, I will be:

  1. celebrating Free RPG Day
  2. checking out a new game store
  3. saying "Hey" to a gaming pal
  4. perhaps playing DCC RPG
  5. or all of the above?
That's right, tomorrow is Free RPG Day, that day when game companies graciously donate tons of swag and new materials, and game stores open their doors to welcome the masses. My first Free RPG Day went a bit awry, and I missed last year's festivities, so I made plans to seek out a new game store for tomorrow's sojourn. Fortunately, I saw that Ravenstone Games in Columbus, Ohio, (a mere hour's drive) was participating. Coincidentally, I had made plans to stop by and check out the store some time ago, but I never got around to doing that. Tomorrow, I think I'll be stopping by to check things out, buy a game or two, and pick up some complementary swag.

Also, Jim Yoder of Random Encounters In Ohio is going to be running a DCC RPG game at 2 p.m. in the store. I've gamed with Jim in the past, had a few beers with him, and he's even a contributor to a couple of projects I'm currently wrasslin' with. (No spoilers!) He's good people, so if you've ever wanted to play or just check out DCC RPG, swing on by and grab a seat!  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review Of The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator And Solo GM Guidebook

I love writing adventures (although I often refer to them often as "modules"). I've released many of my scenarios here at The Savage AfterWorld for many systems: Mutant Future, Timemaster, Cryptworld, Ghostbusters, and Thundarr, to name a few. (Heck, I've even released a Mutant Future supplement that's nothing BUT adventures!) But I'll admit that sometimes it sucks waiting for inspiration to strike. (And when it does, there's never a piece of paper around to jot down that inspirational nugget of a concept.

That's why I'm THRILLED with The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook. This amazing guide basically inspires you with adventure concepts you may not have otherwise considered as well as walks you through designing and writing an entire three-act scenario, each broken into multiple scenes to challenge your PCs. There have been other "GM workbooks" released before, but this particular product has really struck a chord with me, and I'm getting a ton of use out of it in the short time I've had it. (The book can also be used as a "solo GM" supplement, much like the Mythic GM Emulator, but for purposes of this review, I'm just going to focus on the Adventure Creator side of the book.)

The Guidebook uses that old standby -- the series of random tables -- to generate inspirational "prompts" to guide you as you create. Using the sheets provided, you roll on a series of "Story Charts", fill in the blanks, then use your imagination to connect the dots and see where the plot leads you. The sheer number of results that could come up are astounding, as most of the tables use a d1000. (There aren't actually 1000 entries, but there are literally hundreds and hundreds of plot twists, places, things, and actions that could arise.) Frank Lee, the book's author and creator, has provided tables for fantasy adventure creation, sci fi adventure creation, and horror adventure creation. According to the Kickstarter page that launched this book, a superhero set of tables is in the works.

Frank encourages the adventure designer to work in a three-act format, guiding you through this process. After initially fleshing out the overarching theme and behind-the-scenes machinations of your Big Bad, as well as the series of events that bring the PCs into the scenario, you begin to work on the three acts of your adventure. In Act 1, the PCs begin poking around, meeting NPCs and generally determining the course of the adventure. In Act 2, challenges begin to surface and the PCs begin to assemble the pieces of the puzzle. In Act 3, the PCs reach the goal of the adventure and solve the mystery, fight the good fight, or otherwise reach the end of the game. (I'm super-simplifying the system for purposes of the review, but it really does work well.) If you don't want to create an adventure in three acts, the Guidebook explains how to create a One or Two Act adventure (for convention games or one-nighters), a Modular Act adventure (one part of a bigger multi-scenario picture, i.e., an adventure path), and a TV adventure (four scenes, one after the next, leading the PCs down the path, and everything's wrapped up nice and neat at the end -- or as I call it, "the railroad".).

I'm so enthralled with the product and what it can generate, I'm going to conduct an experiment over the coming weeks. Here at The Savage AfterWorld, I'll use The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook to create an adventure from scratch. You'll see the rolls, you'll see the worksheets, and you'll watch as a scenario takes shape into a fully formed adventure that will be available for download upon completion. And since I'm on a bit of a Cryptworld kick right now -- and since the Guidebook has a section specifically geared toward horror scenario creation -- I'll be generating a new Cryptworld scenario before your eyes.

And if you'd like to check out this fantastic product for yourself before we begin, it's only $10 at Drive Through RPG. Sniderman says it's money well spent for GMs in need of a creative spark or those who want to think outside of their usual cliched tropes!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

[Labyrinth Lord] Savage Menagerie: Cobweb Golem

No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 1 (fist)
Damage: 1d8
Save: F2
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: None

The Cobweb Golem is a magically created automaton given the semblance of life by a particularly powerful magic-user. The Cobweb Golem appears to be spun from spiderwebs. Twigs, brambles, and other flotsam cling to its sticky surface, and small spiders can be seen scurrying about on the creature. Cobweb Golems are usually encountered in long-abandoned wizard's laboratories or lairs where giant spiders lurk.

The Cobweb Golem can send a gob of sticky webbing at a target 10' away. If struck, the effect is similar to that of the 2nd level spell web. A target will be entangled, and those of human-level strength can break free in 2d4 turns. Those with an 18 STR or higher can break free in 4 rounds. The web can be burned away, but those trapped in the webbing will take 1d6 hit points of damage for 2 rounds.

If struck in combat, hundreds of spiders that infest the Cobweb Golem will spray out, covering the attacker. The biting arachnids will do 2 hit points of damage each round for 3 rounds unless the victim can somehow remove the swarm (water, smoke, etc. Treat as an Insect Swarm, LL rulebook 82).

Like other kinds of golems, the Cobweb Golem is unaffected by ordinary weapons. In addition, Cobweb Golems have no true intelligence, and are thus unaffected by hold, charm, or sleep spells. Since they are not truly alive, they are also unaffected by poison or gases. However, they are very susceptible to fire and flame-based attacks, taking double damage from any such attack.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tag And Bag Your Cryptworld PCs With These Character Toe Tags

Here's a little project I spent some time cobbling together today. A PC's horrific death at the "hands" of some monstrous thing lurks around every corner in a game of Cryptworld. So I thought "Why not save your players some time and prep them for the morgue during character generation?" Presenting the Cryptworld Character Sheet Toe Tag:

I had to get creative to get as much info on a 3 x 5.5 inch card as I could. You'll need to use the back of it for equipment and any other info you'd like. (Or just use a separate sheet of paper.) I plan to print these on cardstock and add a loop of string to the hole for use at my next convention game. Six of them fit on an 8.5 x 11 sheet. Here's a link of a full sheet of them for use in your own horror-fueled Cryptworld games! Enjoy!

Marking Our Fifth Anniversary

The Savage AfterWorld went online on June 17, 2009. Here's a link to that first post.

Vat-Full Lot Of PARANOIA Materials Available At Bundle Of Holding

I love the Bundle of Holding offerings when they surface, as you can often get the entire line of a popular RPG for just pennies. But citizens, this offer from Friend Computer is simply vat-tastic! For the next 9 day-cycles, the Bundle of Holding features PARANOIA, the 2004 Mongoose Publishing edition of the classic RPG of a darkly humorous future.

For the basic package of $9.95, you get all three titles in the RED-Clearance core collection:
  • PARANOIA RPG: The 2004 Mongoose edition ("Service Pack 1," with errata corrected) of the classic 1984 SFRPG of light-hearted backstabbing in a future underground city ruled by an insane Computer.
  • Criminal Histories: This character-creation rules supplement helps your Troubleshooters uncover all kinds of treason in their past -- their own and each other's.
  • GM Screen and Mission Blender: These charts let you generate an entire mission, from briefing to debriefing and terminations, with a mere 60 or 70 die rolls.

And if you pay more than the current threshold price of $23.92, you'll rise in clearance and get the ULTRAVIOLET-Clearance collection of everything in the RED-Clearance package plus five bonus titles:
  • Flashbacks: This must-have 256-page mission collection presents classic 1980s PARANOIA missions updated for the 2004 edition. Learn why Vapors Don't Shoot Back, which citizens get The YELLOW Clearance Black Box Blues, when to Send in the Clones, and what to do when Something Falls Off.
  • The Traitor's Manual: A comprehensive guide to secret societies like the First Church of Christ-Computer Programmer, Psion, the Sierra Club, and of course, honest-to-Lenin Communists.
  • Crash Priority: Five new missions ranging from "Guard this invisible, undetectable train" to "Serve beverages to death-row traitors."
  • STUFF: The Alpha Complex auction site, C-bay, offers a ton of new gear, from weapons and ordnance (Lazookas, NuFlesh First Aid Pistols) to Malfeasance Control Devices (Say-No-Evil Speech Censors, Cellophane Jumpsuits).
  • The Mutant Experience: New mutant powers like Speed and Creeping Madness, mutagens for giving the gift that keeps on giving (treason), and special equipment just for filthy muties.

The 2004 edition was incredibly well-received when first released, and is nearly impossible to find nowadays. So act now before this amazing bundle disappears. (You'd have to be a stinking Commie Mutant Traitor to pass this up!)


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

[Mutant Future] Savage Menagerie: Bearhesive

No. Enc.: 1d2 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: 2 (claw, bite)
Damage: 1d3/1d6
Save: L3
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: VII

The Bearhesive (behr-HEE-sihv) is a large ursine mutant that appears coated in a thick, grey, viscous material. (The creature actually secretes this substance -- which is described below -- from its pores.) Also called by the nickname "Gummee Bear," the Bearhesive is similar in build and temperament as the common Cave Bear (MF rulebook, page 61). The creature lurks in underground caves and caverns, the walls of which are also coated in the slimy goo. It's usually obvious when a party has stumbled into a Bearhesive lair.

The Bearhesive is an aggressive carnivore, attacking any prey it encounters. It is a slow creature, attacking last in any combat round, and only able to swat with one claw and one bite attack when it does. The claw of a Bearhesive only does 1d3 points of damage, and its bite does 1d6 points. However, any successful hit by the Bearhesive means the victim has found himself "glued" to the creature due to the strong adhesive emitted by the creature, who then receives an automatic "hit" on the victim in any successive round of combat. Conversely, any successful hand-to-hand-weapon-based attack made upon the Bearhesive will find the weapon "stuck" to the side of the creature, rendering it useless in further combat until freed by the party.

The "glue" is strong but not permanent. It takes one person 1d4 rounds of pulling and tugging to free an object (or a party member!) stuck to a Bearhesive. Two or more people working together can free an object or person in a single round.

Mutations: glue secretion, slow mutant

NTRPG Con: What To Do / Not To Do Next Time

Well, I'm back from North Texas RPG Con, and I've had a few days to unpack, unwind, and get my circadian rhythms back in sync. Had a great time, met some great people, and played a lot of games. As I look back over the Week That Was, I see that I've also made a few rookie con-attending mistakes I need to correct/adjust before my next gaming sojourn. So this post is more of a reminder to myself to not make these mistake again, and perhaps you can take something away from this "advice to myself":

** I need to remember to take a sturdier carry-on. Having my bag start to split along the seams while boarding was embarrassing and potentially disastrous. I also need to take a smaller carry-on. The one I had wouldn't fit in the overhead compartment, so they had to hold the plane while I disembarked to check it. (Yes, I was "that guy.") So, next time, take a hardshell carry-on, and spring for the extra baggage and take a second bigger suitcaser

** I am no longer the young "party all night, game all day" youth I once was. I need -- nay -- require a minimum of 6 hours of sleep to function. Fortunately my alcohol tolerance is about the same, but my body's need for rest cannot be ignored. So turn in at a decent time and don't let your pals goad you into hanging out later. There is plenty to do during the daylight hours, and you won't miss anything happening after 1 a.m.

** Along those same lines, after 3-4 days of shouting and screaming while I run my games, my voice is always SHOT near the end of the final day. On Sat. evening, I could barely croak out an apology to Mike Curtis that I had to bow out of his game that night. Even though I had packed lozenges for just such an event, this seems to be a regular occurrance to plan for. Therefore, no more gaming on that final day, as your voice will be gone by the time the sun rises. From here on out, my last day of con attendance will be socializing and shopping. No running or playing any games. (Well, maybe board games or something less verbally intensive...)

** It was great getting together with some members of the bloggersphere, putting faces to screen names and just getting to know each other away from the gaming tables. So I propose trying to schedule a "Blogger BS Bullpen" on that first night where folks who yammer on these here blog-things can get together and meet. I'll give that some organizational thought...

** My traveling tablet keyboard set up worked well enough for me to keep the daily You Are There blog posts coming, but it was incredibly cumbersome and too utilitarian. Although I could still type up and post, I couldn't insert links, caption and position photos, and add other details I prefer. So it was a grand experiment, and it worked OK, but next time I take my full-sized laptop so I can do it properly.


** When I run games at cons, I have a bit of a ritual. I print out my game notes and place them in a pocketed folder. Each game has its own folder, which I then take with me to the gaming table. It's my way of keeping all of the materials together and at-hand. However, by the time the game is over, my notes are marked up and written upon, completely disorganized, and often a page or two gets lost. I usually just throw away the notes I brought, knowing I can print it out again. But I also LOSE any new additions I've jotted down on the fly during gameplay. SO I've LOST a lot of good material too. While playing Cavemaster with Jeff Dee, I saw him use 3-ring binder with his game notes. Each scenario's pages were inserted into plastic sleeves, that he could write upon with erasable marker. So all of his gaming stuff was in one binder; it stayed organized, and he could make notes on the fly that he could refer to later when editing/updating his game. I am totally going to start using that system. (Of course, if I leave that binder behind, I'm screwed...)

** The Pacesetter system is still a popular option for gamers as I had full tables at both my Timemaster and Cryptworld sessions. I think the players were really able to grasp both the simplicity of the Action Table system as well as its complexity to handle ranged and HTH combat, skill checks, saving throws, etc. I'm glad to see the resurrected brand so well received and I may have to focus more on running games of Majus and Rotworld as well in the future.

** Overall, it was great going to NTRPG Con for the first time, and it's energized me for some of the other regional cons across the country. Sure, there are several major cons within driving distance (I'm lucky that way), but there's something exciting about flying to a new convention that reminds you why you do this stuff in the first place. When you have to make a true effort to get there, it becomes a bit more "special," if that makes sense. So my new gaming goal is to visit at least one new regional gaming con I've never attended each year. Keep an eye out for me, and buy me a round if you see me. But not after 11 p.m. since I need my sleep.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

NTRPG Con Day 3: Cthulhu Takes Over The World, And Thundarr Meets President Lincoln


Hi folks, and welcome to Sniderman's World Tour to the North Texas RPG Con, Day 3. I'm a hurting cowpoke today, as the days of screaming and shouting and running games and playing games are starting to catch up to me. So I'll stop by my room every so often to update today's post until I drop from exhaustion:  

* Hung out in the bar with some fellow bloggers last night, and it was like every bar-based BS bullpen, wherein the subject matter ecclectically changes every 5 minutes. We discussed Pathfinder Society, gothabilly music, and why Killer Klowns From Outer Space is mankind's crowning cinematic acheivement. Oh, and why everyone should have his or her own Blackrazor.
* Got back to the room at 1:30 a.m. and was up at 6 a.m. to run my traditional Saturday morning Thundarr game. When I woke, I felt like someone had spent the night beating me with a sack of washers. Every joint aches. Fortunately it's not a hangover ache. Sadly, it's "old guy" ache. (...sigh...) Plus my voice is nearly at an end, but I screwed up the fortitude for...
* My Saturday morning Thundarr game seemed to be yet another Animated action achievement. (And you can download the adventure I ran in the previous post from earlier this morning.) And some of the highlights in the lands of "Dee-See:"
---- Ookla the Mok threw a car at the ghostly form of the wizard, and the vehicle passes through him. There was some cringing that the pen of captured humans on the other side would be crushed. (He missed 'em.)
---- Shara the Barbarian, a new character, stood on the back of her charging horse, activated her Skull Mace, launched herself off her mount, and took out TWO Carrocs in one fell swoop!
---- To banish the evil wizard Thraxx, the team needed to get flames from the "Fire of Forever" -- imbued with the heroism and nobility of the Ancient warriors entombed there. The looks on their faces when they saw the sign read "ARLING" was priceless.
---- While on the hallowed grounds, Ookla wrestled one python-like Serfent into submission while Ariel pinned it with magic. During all of the excitement, no one saw Shara dragged into the swamps by the Serfent's twin. Thundarr lept into action, pulling the teen barbarian to safety.
---- With no time to waste, the village tinkerer "Wilbur" arrived with his "helioplane" to airlift the team back to the village of Smithson before Thraxx could return. Ookla missed a DEX check and tumbled off the plane, dangling from a rope around his ankle. Using telekinesis, Ariel LAUNCHES Ookla into an high arc, and he landed on the bat-riding minions who were coming to stop the team. One headbutt and a yank of the reins and Ookla and two surprised Carrocs took to the stratosphere.
---- An arial fight ensued with Thundarr throwing his Sun Sword at the enemy; Oosoo (another Mok) batting a large rock with his club, knocking another rider off his mount; and Ookla (again) finding himself in danger of falling. But when the pilot was knocked unconscious, Thundarr heroically took the wheel. (They ended up crashing into The Mall.)
---- The final fight was joined as Thraxx animated Lincoln's statue from the Memorial. As the team fought the marble juggernaut, Oosoo grabbed the giant around the ankle and, with a powerful shove, toppled the behemoth. Ookla grabbed a nearby stone slab and proceeded to pound the statue. Once Thundarr exposed Thraxx to the cleansing flames, the wizard was banished and Dee-See was safe again! Demon Dogs, it was epic!
* After Thundarr wrapped up, I had a chance to try out Sandy Peterson's "Cthulhu Wars" boardgame. It was kinda hard for me to grok the nuances, so I came in dead last. Sorry World, but you won't be bowing to The Black Goat. Cthuhlu himself now owns your souls. Great game and incredible production values! (But I do suck at strategy games, so my failure was inevitable...)
* After lunch and killing an hour eating Halls lozenges, I whipped by the infamous NTRPG Con raffle and auction. Many items of incredibly rarity were auctioned off, as well as trophies given to the con's Gladiator and Circus Maximus winners. Speaking of awards...
* This year's Three Castles Award was presented to Richard LeBlanc of New Big Dragon games for the module "Valley of the Five Fires" Richard and I had earlier spent some time discussing gaming and the glory of the d30. I was very pleased to see him and his company win the award. Congrats!
* There was also talk of a special "midnight auction" tonight for items and collectibles of a lesser monitary value. It was tempting to power through the night to attend, but with my flight in the wee hours of the morning and me already feeling like Orc-crap, I'll have to miss out.  
* By this time, my voice was at a hoarse whisper as three days of non-stop shouting, talking, and blathering (not to mention a lack of sleep and general body malaise) had taken its toll. The last event I had scheduled was a game of Mike Curtis' Shiverwhen -- a game I've been looking forward to playing for 2 years since Mike and I discussed the concept and setting at Gary Con IV. I tracked Mike down and gave him my disappointed regardsas I relinquished my seat. Next year...

The time is now 11:35 pm, and I fly out at 8 tomorrow morning. I haven't packed yet, and a good night's sleep is necessary before I start my travelsback to Ohio, so this post will wrap up my trip. I want to thank the hosts and organizers for a fine, fun old-school time. I'm glad I finally got to get to NTRPG Con and it was great seeing my con gaming pals yet again. So, signing off from Texas, this is Sniderman saying, "So long, and thanks for all the dice!"

And, here are my last few photographic offerings from the event: 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

"Thundarr the Barbarian: The Wizard's Graveyard" Now Available For Download!

(I'm actually posting this on Monday to go live while I'm at North Texas RPG Con. The mobile Blogger platform I'm using on site with my Tablet is awful when it comes to links, so I thought I'd get this ready before I left.)

As you read this, my Thundarr game here at North Texas RPG Con has just ended, and it's safe for me to post the adventure my players just ran through. Click the cover below to download "Thundarr the Barbarian: The Wizard's Graveyard" for you own home games!

A few notes:
  • I used pre-gens for Thundarr, Ookla, and Ariel, as well as new ones for Shara, Merlik, and Oosoo. Shara and Merlik were actually introduced in the episode 'Den of the Sleeping Demon." The pre-gens are included with this download. Encourage the players to play the characters straight as it really helps make the game a success.
  • No maps are provided. Just sketch something quickly on your battlemap the way I do as needed.
  • I removed the "Amazing Feat of Fill-in-the-Blank" as an ability for the primary characters. I've found they're strong enough without this cartoon "gimmee". Plus, the players hardly used it!
  • The adventure is hardly a polished effort, as it's my rough notes for use during a con game. So please excuse spelling errors, formatting issues, and general unattractiveness. Originally, it was just for my eyes only.
  • The script should be easy enough to follow, but it is a 3-4 hour "railroad" convention one-shot. There's not much "depth" to it. Point A to Point B to Point C to Big Bad Boss Fight at the end.
  • I played the opening credits on a tablet for the players as we started. And when we were done, I played the end credits. (Not to mention the 80s commercials for cereal and toys!) This really helped the atmosphere and set the mood.
  • Be sure to play it like the cartoon. Play up the voices and the exaggerated action sequences. If your players want to do it, let it happen! Cartoon action, my friends!
  • If you'd like to run your home PCs through the adventure, it should be easy enough to have them play through. However, this game takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where magic exists. If magic doesn't exist in your campaign, have Thraxx's "magic" be the result of a non-corporealness mutation and "Ancient holographic technology in the wrong hands."
  • If you want more Thundarr excitement for your Mutant Future games, don't forget to download the always-free Thundarr sourcebook over there in the right-hand column!

NTRPG Con Day 2: "What We Have Here Is Your Basic Giant Tick Infestation..."

Got a good night's sleep last night and enjoyed a bracing breakfast. You'd think with plenty of rest and plenty of food that I wouldn't be as sore and tired as I am this afternoon. But you'd be wrong. Gotta shake the drowsies as my Cryptworld game is running this evening. So time to hammer some Mountain Dew as I get today's daily NTRPG Con Missive started. And here we go:

* I had an epiphany during last night's Timemaster game. I realized that character names are very rarely used in modern setting games, as we were just using everyone's real names. So the next time I run a game with pre-gens, I'm going to leave the PC name blank. When the plyers arrive, their characters will "coincidentally" have the same names. NOTE: This technique will only work on modern-era games as I don't think I'd be able to get away with "Stefanie Johnson the Dwarven Barbarian...
* I played in Jeff Dee's Cavemaster game this morning. Before I descibe the game, let me say it was a pleasure meeting Jeff. Villains and Vigilantes was my "gateway" game into role-playing and some of the characters I created for the game 30+ years ago are still going strong. Jeff was even kind enough to sign the cover of my original V&V rulebook.
* Now then, Cavemaster is not just the game of cavemen, but it's also mechnically the game cavemen would have played. Each player was given a "character skin" and a handful of stones which were used as both the randomizers and our stat points. I won't go into deatil here, but you should really check it out as the resolution mechanics are creative, simple, and intuative. As for the game, the following happened:
---- Our clan of antelope hunters saw that the herd was thinning out. Our team was sent to go look for then and/or bring back any other game we could find. The boars we encountered put up a good fight, but two of them seemed to be swollen with disease and pustules. Uh-oh.
---- As we enjoyed a bit of fresh boar meet from the undiseased one, a clan of Neanderthals showed up, demanding that we stop hunting their boars. They also claimed to be "blessed" by the spirits of fire which gave them the same disease and pustules. Double uh-oh.
---- When the Neanderthals attacked, my gatherer by the name of "SharpTooth" grabbed a branch out of our campfireand swatted the face of one of our attackers. He wants to be "touched by fire"? He got it.
---- The next morning, we followed the attacker's tracks back to their mountain lair (finding and defeating a cave bear on the way), and we discovered their shaman was sacrificing their tribe's children to the Spirits of Disease. After defeating all of the crazed cavemen, we found a single baby Neanderthal on a dias -- the next planned sacrifice.Rather than kill it, we pooled our spirit essence, and our tribal healer cleansed the child of all disease, which then spread throughout the lands, clearing the taint and bringing back the game to our region.
---- Did I mention this awesome game was played with a handful of rocks? Sniderman says, go check it out!

* After lunch and a nap, it was time to get ready to run a new Cryptworld adventure "Unquenchable" for a group of 6 victims...I mean, rescuers. I ran my home group through the same adventure, and they came out of it a little less unscathed, but no less disturbed.
---- The team gathered at the edge of a wooded forested area to assist in a search and rescue for a group of hunters who were three days overdue. The wildlife running past them as they entered the forest gave them some inkling that Something Bad was north.
---- In the distance, they saw what appeared to be black manhole covers clinging to a tree. Upon peering through binoculars, they saw it was a group of giant ticks. "What we have here is your basic giant tick infestation," the EMT played by Trey Causey reported back to base camp.
---- When the first ticks lanuched themselves at the team and bit into their legs, it was both horrifying and hilarious at the same time.
---- Also hilarious is when our resident plainclothes cop -- in actually an undercover agent for a paranormal investigation unit -- discovered a blue-grey sphere in a backpack. He confiscated the backpack and began carrying it with him. Later, when they discovered more clusters of those spheres, he realized he'd been carrying an unhatched tick egg -- the very egg the tick spawn killed the hunters for. Whoops.
---- We also nearly had an in-party firefight break out when the team was split between moving forward (into certain death) or going back the way they came (also certain death, as the ticks had been "herding" the team). The approaching blood-sucking swarm prompted the team to continue forward.
---- At the end of the trail, the team discovered the Queen Mother Tick who had been laying eggs throughout the area. Since she was swollen to the size of a VW bus, a few well-placed shots popped her like, well, like a tick. Blood and gore sprayed everywhere in a Hammer Horror-like gout of grue.
---- One of the missing hunters had been converted into a half-man/half-tick hybrid. One party member discovered this when he turned over the "body", and the creature lunged forward and latched onto his neck to feed. The freak-out was B-movie horror tastiness.
---- The team managed to defeat the Tick Mother, destroy the nesting grounds, and fly out in the rescue chopper. Meanwhile, left behind and undiscovered, a half-deer/half-tick hybrid had taken down a black bear and began to feed. THE END.......? (dun-dun-dunnnnnn)

* It is now 1 a.m. and I have my ever-popular Thundarr game at 8 a.m. So I've got to put this post to bed, as well as myself. And here are some environmental shot of the con for your to persue and enjoy. Until tomorrow folks...

Friday, June 6, 2014

NTRPG Con Day 2 Prologue: Watch The Games LIVE

Quick early morning heads-up:

For folks at home who would like to watch the North Texas RPG Con festivities happening live, there are three live-streaming cameras set up that are broadcasting the shenanniggans. Cut and paste the links below into your browser address bar to watch the old-school action in progress! (Sorry, I can't figure out how to create clickable links on this POS travelling tablet blog writer....)

NTRPG Con Day 1: "Let's Go Kick Skylab's Ass!"

My first day here at North Texas RPG Con is winding to a close and I'm about to hit the hay. Gotta be up early-ish tomorrow for my game of Cavemaster with Jeff Dee. So here's today's travelogue of thoughts, observations, and flotsam:

* Got up today at 6 a.m. after last night's involuntary coma. Went downstairs where there were a few games in progress at some of the tables in the lobby. Whether they were new games that began early that morning, or if they were games that were ending from last night, I'm not entirely certain.
* The breakfast buffet spread was awesome. I thought it was odd that they had bratwursts on the buffet until someone pointed out to me that those were big damn link sausages. Ah, Texas, with your "bigger than usual" everythings...
* I have had no less than 4 people spy my nametag from across the room who then charged over to meet "sniderman of The Savage AfterWorld." Didn't think this little corner of the bloggersphere had that kind of name recognition. I was honestly flattered. Thanks for the ego-boost, guys, and enjoy your new Savage AfterWorld dice!
* I like the idea that the main atrium in the center of the hotel will be for pick-up games throughout the con. (Though there are some "official" games scheduled for there too.) It's like a big tabletop gaming arena right there in the center of everything where you can stop and look down upon the gamers as they play. "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?"
* An exchange I just overheard: "Man, I could use a drink." "Well, I got a bottle of whiskey up in my room." "What kind of whiskey? (thinks a moment) Wait a sec, who the hell cares WHAT kind of whiskey it is? Let's go!"
* I arrived at the location for the game I'm running, and found that we had our own boardroom. With private bathroom. With a giant whiteboard mounted on the wall for mapping. With serving wenches who stopped by every 1/2 hour to get us drinks and food. Damn, this beats Gen Con's "four tables with six people at each one crammed into a smaller place" set-up all to hell.
* Just finished up a rousing game of Timemaster running one of my favorite scenarios: "The Day the Sky Fell." Amongst the players were Erik Tenkar of Tenkar's Tavern and his lovely wife Rachel. It was a pleasure to meet them, as well as all of the players in tonight's game. (Shout-outs to Corwin and Stephen Getty, Josh McQueen, and Brenda Wolfe!) Amongst the highlights:
---- Rachel rolled a successful Wrestling skill check to put a traitorous alien into a full Nelson. When his second set of arms exploded from his sides, we all joked that, if she made a new Wrestling skill check, she would successfully put him into the first "quadruple nelson." (She failed though.)
---- Josh actually scored critical damage on an alien by throwing hot coffee on him. We told him he should add "Barrista" as a combat skill.
---- Stephen: "I'm gonna use my Military Leadship skill to get back into the spacecraft." "You are? How is that skill applicable?" "Watch. Ahem...PULL ME BACK IN!!!!"
---- Corwin's tether was severed in space, and he pulled a "Wall-E" by successfully using a spare oxygen cannister to propel himself out of the way of an exploding booster rocket and back to the team's craft. (He crashed into the windshield, but at least he made it back!)
---- My favorite line of the night was spoken by Brenda when the team reaizes it needs to "force" Skylab to crash on schedule in 1979: "Well then, let's go kick Skylab's ass!"
---- And Josh, if you're reading this: "Get me a cuppa coffee, wouldja?"

And, as usual, here is a photo collection of scenes, folks, and other items of interest I snapped while wandering about. Excuse the lack of captions or identification:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

NTRPG Con Day 0 Part 2: ...Deep In The Heart Of Texas!

And I am here! The convention hasn't begun in earnest yet, but here's some stuff I encountered...

* If you pack your carry-on so densely that the x-ray machine cannot penetrate it, the friendly TSA folks WILL ask you to unpack it and repack it right there in the airport.

* And if your carry-on IS packed that densely, there's a good chance that one of the suitcase's seams may burst while in the cargo hold.

* The hotel is very nice, but they charge you $10 a day for Internet access. Can't say I'm thrilled about that additional charge. If the El Cheapo places I stay at can offer free in-room Wi Fi, I'm surprised a place this nice charges for it. But that's a minor complaint.

* When I got to the hotel, I saw a LOT of folks in business suits and fancy dresses, all wearing nametags. Wow, North Texas RPG Con is a bit more formal than I originally thought. (Actually the beginning of NTRG Con overlaps with the end of aHP conference.) They had quite a buffet spread laid out for the HP attendees. I was tempted to get in line and help myself to a plate of fried shrimp. "Are these for anybody?"

* After a nap and a shower, I went down the bar and had a Guinness and a cheeseburger. After eating, I ran into the ever-genial Mike Curtis and we whiled away the time discussing our current writing projects. Mike's got his work cut out for him after his DCC RPG "Chained Coffin" module-with-a-spinning-doodad Kickstarter exploded into a "Chained Coffin" boxed-campaign-setting-with-module-and-almanac-and-another-module-and-big-map. I estimate he'll be writing 200 pages an hour for the next month.

*  Since HP Fest had taken over the main concourse, most of the NTRPG attendees were scattered about, making it difficult to really connect. Went back to my room to "regroup" around 8 p.m. with plans to come down later when it had thinned out. Aaaaaand...I dozed off, waking at midnight. Ugh, lack of sleep the previous night (as well as some work-related stuff that had me stressed out) had taken its toll and I just called it a night. So my plans for pick-up games of Drinking Quest and Werewolf (and, yes, Thundarr) kind of was a bust. But here it is, Thursday morning, and I'm ready to start the convention properly. Time to head down for breakfast and to pick up my materials.

Only one picture, and that's just my in-room "test photo" of Base Savage AfterWorld. More to come later today as Day 1 starts. Stay tuned!

NTRPG Con Day 0 Part 1: The Stars At Night Are Big And Bright...

As you read this, I'm winging my way south for my first North Texas RPG Con. As a reminder, I'll be blogging with my portable tablet set-up, so I apologize in advance for any wonky posts and bizarre formatting you'll see in the coming days. 

As usual, I'll be "live blogging" from the convention each day to give you folks at home a "you are there" feel for the event. I hope you'll stop in each day to see what's going on. And if you're at the convention, track me down and say "Hey!" I may have a nifty new Savage AfterWorld die in my pocket to give ya!

Monday, June 2, 2014

[Swords & Wizardry] Savage Menagerie: Nanaue (Lycanthrope, Wereshark)

This was my entry for the second round of the So You Want To Be An OSR Superstar competition. It didn't make the cut, so I thought I'd share it with my readers. Congrats to the winners, and I can't wait to see who wins round three!

Nanaue (Lycanthrope, Wereshark)

Hit Dice: 6
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Attacks: 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (2d8)
Saving Throw: 11
Special: Lycanthropy, hit only by magic or silver weapons; breathe water
Move: 9 / 18 swimming
Alignment: Neutral, though Chaotic when frenzying
Challenge Level/XP: 8/800

Nanaue are half-man, half-shark lycanthropes who are part of a royal bloodline. All original, pure-blood nanaue are descendants of an ancient, legendary “Shark King” who ruled both the sea and the coast many generations ago. Most nanaue who live today also hold positions of royalty in coastal villages and towns, due to both their natural leadership abilities as well as in honor of the Shark King, the first nanaue. However, once every month, their bestial nature overcomes them, and they must return to the oceans for 24 hours to unleash their alter-ego.

In their shark-form, nanaue appear as a 7-foot-tall, blue-skinned humanoid with a large shark’s head and a pair of webbed claws and feet. With these webbed appendages, the nanaue can swim at an incredible rate of speed. Once in the water, the nanaue will attack and consume nearly any prey it encounters in a chaotic feeding frenzy. Once a nanaue deals damage to any “prey” and catches the scent and smell of blood, it will continue to attack and pursue its victim until either one of them is dead. The nanaue will even pursue its victim onto dry land to finish him off. Although the lycanthropic curse of the nanaue can be spread by its bite, few victims survive the savage feeding frenzy that occurs once the nanaue smells and tastes blood.

It’s said that the nanaue may be unaware of its dual nature, leaving the palace walls in a dazed trace only to return 24 hours later exhausted and full with no memory of what transpired. If some of the local fishermen claim to have seen a monster in the nearby waters, the local chieftain may ask for assistance in dealing with this aquatic threat, not realizing that the “monster” is actually himself in his mindless bestial form.