Tuesday, February 24, 2015

[Cryptworld] New Thing: Gravedigger

A Harbinger of Doom for Cryptworld

STR: NA --- WPR: 7 (105)
DEX: NA --- PER: 6 (90)
AGL: NA --- PCN: 9 (135)
STA: NA --- PWR: 100
ATT: 1/* --- WND: 0*
MV: F 75 (incorporeal)

Experience: 1,000

The Gravedigger is a spiritual entity that closely resembles the classical Spectre of Death, appearing as a faceless hooded figure with bony skeletal hands. However, the Gravedigger wields a shovel rather than a scythe. It is theorized that a Gravedigger is a death harbinger, called forth to collect when someone "cheats death".

When someone has a nearly-fatal close call with death but somehow survives, a Gravedigger is summoned to the earthly plane. The Gravedigger will initially appear to the individual within 1-10 months of their close call. Upon the first appearance, the Gravedigger will be seen at a distance, quietly staring at its summoner. Once seen, it will beckon to that person with one crooked finger, urging them to follow, before vanishing. The next month, the Gravedigger will be seen again, this time standing next to an open grave. The Gravedigger will point to the hole, then to the person, before vanishing again. If investigated, there will be no open grave at the location witnessed. On the third month, the Gravedigger will appear to its victim a final time -- this time to correct Death's oversight.

Wielding its shovel as a weapon, the Gravedigger will strike out with it, using its final internment power to bury the victim where they stand. If successful, the victim will vanish and a freshly-filled grave will appear in their place. A tombstone with the name of the victim and that day's date will appear at the head of the grave. Satisfied that Death has been appeased, the Gravedigger will vanish, never to return. If the Gravedigger's final internment is unsuccessful, the thing will vanish and the victim will never again encounter a Gravedigger.

Gravedigger Powers

Final Internment: The Gravedigger will lash out with its shovel, causing its target to be "teleported" into a new grave right where they once stood. The final internment costs 50 WPR and can be attempted only once per victim. If successfully buried, the victim suffers suffocation damage of 2d10 Stamina points and one wound box per round until freed from their premature burial. Keep in mind the victim's suffocation damage begins the moment they are subjected to the final internment. The results below determine how dire their situation is:
S = The victim's grave is one foot deep in loose earth. The victim can claw their own way out in a round.
L = The victim's grave is two feet deep in loose earth. The victim can claw their own way out in 1d10 rounds.
M = The victim's grave is four feet deep in loose earth. The victim cannot move to free themselves, but others can dig them up with bare hands in 1d10 rounds.
H = The victim's grave is five feet deep in compacted earth. The victim cannot move to free themselves, but others can dig them up in 1d10 rounds with tools or 2d10 rounds with bare hands.
C = The victim's grave is six feet deep in compacted earth. The victim cannot move to free themselves, but others can dig them up in 3d10 rounds with tools or 4d10 rounds with bare hands .
((NOTE: The Gravedigger originally appeared as a Labyrinth Lord creature. With a bit of tweaking, I hope you find it makes a good addition to the Cryptworld pantheon!))

Monday, February 23, 2015

Gamicon Omega Day 3 And Post-Con Wrap-up

Yesterday (Sunday) was the final day of Gamicon Omega, the longest-running gaming con in Iowa and my first year attending. As it was the final day, most of the gaming space was thinning out a bit as only die-hards were gaming up until the moment of closing. No one signed up for my 9 a.m. Mutant Future game, which was OK as it gave me a chance to hit the road for my 9-hour drive a bit earlier. After helping Dan close up and pack up the Goblinoid Games booth and saying my goodbyes to Dan, Kris, Steve, Allan, and The Rest, I hit the road for the long journey back.

Not much to report on this final day as it was a melancholy wind-up, as it is with most "final day of the convention" situations. So instead I'll wrap up with a series of "Things I've Learned":

  • Committing to a 9-hour drive in the middle of winter from cold and snowy Ohio to cold and snowy Iowa sounds great during the summer when you're making plans, but it's much less great when you're fighting it from behind the wheel of a car 6 months later.
  • Dan and I noticed that there seems to be a "shift" in gamer dynamic from RPGs and CCGs toward tabletop board games and card games. RPGs were still being played and enjoyed, but they seemed to be a bit dwarfed as there were a LOT of board games in constant play.
  • Along those same lines, board/card games are typically scheduled for 2-hour blocks. Ergo, it's easier for a gamer to cram in double the number of different games he can play versus the typical 3-to-4-hour blocks for a role-playing game.
  • Even smaller regional conventions can have an awesome dealer room as there was a LOT of cool stuff for sale including rare collectibles and Kickstarter dealer premiums. I had to keep my purchases minimal lest I go nuts.
  • I've come to the conclusion that I much rather prefer smaller regional cons over the larger state/national cons. Everything's more laid-back; it's easier to get from one place to another; and the folks (both staff and attendees) are all much more approachable and friendly.
  • However, at a smaller con, games that are a bit more "niche" are a harder sell to get players for as you have fewer folks attending that may have heard of it or want to play it. In other words, if I had wanted to run a game of Villains and Vigilantes, Paranoia, or TORG, I have a feeling I wouldn't have had any takers. So you run into the problem of wanting to play something less-common, but risk having no-shows.
  • Never, ever, ever schedule to run a game an hour or two after the con opens. Unless they preregistered for it before the con opens, it is unlikely there will be enough time for people to notice it's being run. ("Oh, you had a game of Blanky-blank on Friday morning? Wish I had known!")
  • Same thing in reverse: Scheduling a game on the last day might ensure you don't get takers as everyone is trying to pack up to leave, shopping for last-minute stuff, and/or getting one last game of their favorite game under their belt rather than committing to a 4-hour block for a game they've never played.
Gamicon Omega was a great event and a great time, and I'd like to thank the organizers for putting on a great convention. I'd also like to thank the ever-genial Dan Proctor as well, as it was great hanging out with him. Will I be back next year? Hmmm... ask me in August when it's warm out and I've forgotten my recent white-knuckle voyage!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Gamicon Omega Day 2: Transporter Malfunctions And A Cranky Toddler Demi-God

Greetings folks and welcome to Day Two of my Gamicon Omega travelogue direct from Iowa. It's nearly midnight and I have a full day tomorrow, so let's get to the recap then get to bed:

  • Today is "Steampunk Saturday at the con, so I saw more than my fair share of gears, goggles, and gizmos bolted to Victorian-era costumes throughout the day. Stupidly forgot to grab any photos though. Sorry.
  • Someone dressed as the Pope walked through too. That certainly grabbed my attention. (Again, no pics because I suck.)
  • While in the booth this morning, Dan Proctor and I gabbed about classic sci-fi novels and movies. Topics included Westworld: The Series and the Dream Park novels. 
  • The con has a videogame room where many classic systems are set up for free play. I saw a Sega Saturn and a CDX, as well as Nintendo, 3DO, and other classic systems. When I mentioned that to Dan and his brother Kris (who joined us for the event), I also brought up my nerd cred of having a World's Record in Atari 2600 Halloween on record at Twin Galaxies. That was way less impressive a brag than I had hoped.
  • This afternoon, Dan ran a group of us through a Starships and Spacemen adventure (second edition). Our happy band of explorers were sent on the most perilous of missions: Go find out why we lost contact with the prison colony 24 light years away. Upon arriving and taking a shuttle to the surface, we found the place deserted and bodies littered the corridors -- their organs and brains harvested for some nefarious purpose. As we explored, we lost one away team member to ravenous ape-creatures. I then got too close to a black tar that grabbed me and pulled me in ala Tasha Yar. (My panicked emergency beam-out ended badly as I ended up on the transporter pad inside-out.) We eventually found the source of the harvesting -- robotic bio-drones who incorporated organic parts into their own physical structure. A few shots later....and we were being harvested for parts. It was a TPK. I hope the Confederation sends another party out to find out what became of us!
  • Finally this evening I ran a game of West End Games' Ghostbusters in "Ragnarok-A-Bye Baby". (And the adventure is now available for download!) Highlights included: one 'Buster got "pantsed" while being filmed by several Smartphones earning him the nickname "Mooner"; when they reach the scene of the disturbance, they found a Nordic guardian in their way who insisted on calling them the "Goose-Boosters"; Mooner discovered that messing around with the toy hammer of a demi-god toddler will earn you a one-way flight through a window and 40 feet into the parking lot; when the World Serpent crashes down on you, holding up that same immortal, impervious demi-god kid is a pretty good way to avoid getting crushed; and although it's still a Very Bad thing, crossing the streams will still work...sometimes. Much high-fiving was had when they saved the world, and little demi-god Trudy Thomson ("No! My name is Thrud Thorson!") was sent to another day care center...with a new toy hammer from her Greek Uncle Hephaestus. Cue up the sequel: "It's All Greek To Me."
Folks, after the con ends tomorrow, I'm hitting the road back to Ohio, so I likely won't post Day Three until I get back on Monday. So I'll sign off from Iowa now, and will post a wrap-up upon my arrival back at Chez Sniderman. Until then, here are some photos to tide you over:

 This computer-run tabletop battlemat was very cool and was in use throughout the convention.

 Items both rare and common started filling the auction shelves. brought a couple of items and made a few bucks.

 The registration booth.

 Spillover and pick-up games were always in action in the lobby.

 Our Starships and Spacemen game is about to end in tears. (Yes, Dan was using my GB screen during the game.)

And here we see the Goose-Boosters as they try to stop a Norseman Armageddon from striking the heart of Iowa City! 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Ragnarok-A-Bye Baby" For Ghostbusters Now Available For Download

As this post goes live, I'm running a group of players through a new adventure for the original Ghostbusters RPG by West End Games. If you'd like to run it for your own home group, here it is available for download. (I even included 8 pre-gens for your use!) Enjoy, and let me know if your players were able to stop The End of the World!

Gamicon Omega Day 1: Sasquatch Sweaters And The World's Most Dangerous Stapler

Howdy folks! I'm in my hotel room eating a late night burger as the first day of Gamicon (AKA "Arctic-Con") comes to a close. Had some thrills, some chills, some disappointments, and some victories. Let's get to the highlights from Iowa's longest gaming convention, shall we?

  • Dan and I had breakfast at the Bluebird Diner, a jaunt up the street from the hotel. A pretty famous place locally and well-regarded by Those In The Know. Hey, they had pancakes and bacon, so the morning started off right. (Though the walk there was extra-frosty as I only had a pair of earmuffs on, which really didn't do much for my face. Or head. Or neck.)
  • Upon our return, we got the booth set up. Since Dan had thought to get two tables, we had a lot more room to show off the product. Dan had brought a couple of bookracks which displayed everything nicely. He also brought a copy of Star Explorer freshly printed from Game Crafter which was getting a lot of interest from passers-by.
  • Artist and all-around Good Guy Steve Zieser stopped by and spent time in the booth with us. (You might know him from such art as the covers and interiors to Labyrinth Lord, LL Advanced Edition Companion, and the LL Screen, amongst many, many other works.) With him in the booth with Dan and me, lots of obnoxious cracking-wise was had by all. Steve is a fan of all things "sasquatch-y," so Dan surprised Steve with a "Sasquatch Sweater". It is one of the coolest sweaters I've ever seen.
  • Asked about the official Gamicon con shirt, but sadly they don't have any available for purchase at the show. If I want one, I think I need to order it from Cafepress. Bummer.
  • I scheduled a game of Timemaster for 2 p.m., but there were no sign-ups. It might have something to do with the fact the con started today at 12:30 p.m. so there wasn't enough time to drum up interest or for folks to sign up. So the Damoreans have run ramshod all over the Old West resulting in the eventual destruction of the Confederate States of America by the United People's Republic of Korea.
  • However, at 7 p.m., I ran five brave souls through Condition Critical for Cryptworld. They managed to defeat Experiment TB-4 in spite of some incredibly bad rolls in the beginning as well as some dubious choices to "split up and go look for the thing." (That quickly ended after a few surprise attacks from "nowhere.") My favorite part was when Robyn grabbed a stapler as an impromptu weapon and scored a CRITICAL HIT with it. It became his (surprisingly effective) "go-to" weapon for the rest of the game. Another player, Tim, sprained his ankle, so he used a chair on wheels to scoot around. When he saw The Thing attacking another player, he scooted over to assist, only to have the chair fly out from under him, slamming the victimized player in the back. (And there were the oxygen tanks used as cryo-freezing weapons and the animated skeleton throttling Steve...) But at the end, they managed to defeat "Science Gone Wrong" and escape with their lives. Great game!

And now that I've finished my burger, I'll wrap up with some photos of the con:

Plenty of Pacesetter games ready for perusal and purchase!

 Dan and I manning the booth as we wait for Gamicon to start.

 Steve Zieser gettin' his Squatch on.

 The gaming room was about half-full around 4 p.m. and is expected to be completely full at noon tomorrow.

Will the players survival the horror of Condition Critical?

My sole purchase thus far. Big fan of the original Escape: The Curse of the Temple, and I can't wait to give this new zombie-themed version a go!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Gamicon Omega Day 0: Welcome To Arctic-Con!

Greetings folks! Your Friendly Neighborhood Sniderman is posting live from downtown Iowa City for Gamicon Omega! (Literally, I'm in downtown Iowa City.) With Gamicon Omega, I will have traveled to six states and attended nine different gaming conventions since re-entering the gaming fold six years ago. Not bad, not bad.

I've been looking forward to Gamicon, as I'm here with Dan Proctor to help run the Goblinoid Games booth as well as to run several Pacesetter games. I'm excited for the event, and hope you'll be tuning in daily to check out my "You Are There" reports from the convention. Of course, I'm here a day early and the con doesn't start until tomorrow, so today's "Day Zero" report entails the trip out and my arrival here at the convention site:

  • The trip from Mansfield, Ohio, (my hometown) to Iowa City was an 8-hour drive across the northern borders of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois before arriving in Iowa. When I left this morning at 6 a.m., the temperature was -7 degrees. (Yes, there's a minus sign there.) On the trip here, I encountered blowing snow, wildly bitter wind chills, whiteouts, and stretches of flat, featureless tundra. I hereby decree that this adventure will henceforth be known as "My Trip to Arctic-con."
  • But one nice thing about the deep freeze is that it gave me a great idea for the setting of one of my games this weekend. I figured, if the players can handle it, so can their characters. (And you'll see the result posted here. Spoilers!)
  • On 80 West in Iowa, I passed by D&D Auto Sales. I think that's an appropriate portent to the weekend's activities!
  • The Sheraton where the con is being held is very nice, but nearly impossible to figure out how to access without instructions. I could see the building, but it was off the road with a public square between me and it. Only a call to the front desk cleared up that you had to drive around back where the "real" entrance was located.
  • Hooked up with Dan Proctor and we went to dinner at a nice Irish pub. Over burgers and beer, Dan and I discussed life, houses, kids, jobs, and -- yes -- Goblinoid Games and Pacesetter-related stuff. It was good to just have a moment to relax before tomorrow's gaming chaos begins.
  • When we got back, we toured the gaming area and ran into a few organizers who were frantically getting everything in place. They expect record numbers to turn out this year.
Those are the highlights. I'm gonna put a cap on this entry, finish my Guinness, and hit the sack. Tomorrow I'll be running Timemaster and Cryptworld back-to-back, so I'll discuss time travel and survival horror with you then. And here are a few quick shots I snapped to share:

 Dan was not only kind enough to give me a couple of Pacesetter/GG shirts, he also gave me brand new copies of Timemaster and Sandman. How do I know they're brand new? They both are still shrinkedwrapped!

Swag bag ahoy! Lots of goodies to paw through tonight (as well as figure out where I'll be running my games for the next few days...)

I brought my copy of Cash and Guns. I hope I can get a pick-up game going of this madcap Tarantino-esque game!

Join Me This Week At Iowa's Gamicon Omega

It's currently -5 degrees in Ohio with a Wind Chill Factor of -18 degrees as this post goes live at 6:00 a.m. EST.  Brrrr. So there's no better time to hit the road for the first convention of the season: Gamicon Omega in warm and sunny Iowa! I'm looking forward to my first time at Iowa's longest-running gaming convention, and I'll be joining Dan Proctor in the Goblinoid Games / Pacesetter LTD booth as we run games, sell games, and play games over the weekend. (If you're nearby, bundle up and stop on out to see us!) And as always, I've packed up the computer and camera so I'll be posting daily updates and pictures from the convention. Stay tuned to The Savage AfterWorld for live coverage from that balmiest of towns, Iowa City!

And I thought this classic piece from comedian Heywood Banks would be most appropriate for the road trip I'm now enduring. Enjoy!

Friday, February 13, 2015

The World Of Thundarr The Barbarian Sourcebook "Master Edition" Released!

In March 2012, I released what I referred to as the "final" version of The World of Thundarr the Barbarian Sourcebook for Mutant Future. I promised no more updates or entries to my RPG guidebook to The Best Gonzo Post-Apocalyptic Cartoon Ever Made.

However, since releasing the final version of the sourcebook, I've run several Thundarr adventures at conventions throughout the U.S.  None of these games were based on any of the classic episodes and are new adventures written specifically for the events. In fact, some players have called these "missing episodes" of the shows (which is a nice tribute). Whenever I've run one of these new Thundarr adventures, I've posted them here at The Savage AfterWorld for download. There have been three released: Across the Dimensional Divide; Warlord of the Sacred Library; and The Wizard's Graveyard.

To make it easier on folks who want The Whole Thundarr Enchilada, I have taken these three adventure scripts and tucked them into the sourcebook, creating a "Master Edition". There are even pre-gens of Thundarr, Ookla, Princess Ariel, and three other PCs in the back of the book that you can print out for use at your own table! Everything I've ever created for running Mutant Future-based Thundarr games is now in one big master volume.

So, without further ado, I present you with The World of Thundarr The Barbarian Sourcebook - Master Edition! Click here (or click the cover below or the link in the right-hand column) to download!


Thursday, February 12, 2015

[Mutant Future] Savage Menagerie: Great White Stallion

No. Enc.: 0 (2d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 3 (2 hooves, bite)
Damage: 1d6/1d6/2d6
Save: L2
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None

Although it appears to be a horse with a shark's head, the Great White Stallion is actually a form of shark that has grown legs and lungs, enabling it to live and move on land. The Great White Stallion stands about 6 feet high and weighs about 900 pounds. It is covered with a slick skin-like membrane rather than hair, though its tail fin has mutated into a hairy tail-like appendage.

The Great White Stallion attacks by rearing up on its rear legs to kick out with its front hooves for 1d6 hit points of damage. It then drops down, its mouth open in order to bite its opponent for 2d6 hit points of damage. The Great White Stallion is a vicious fighter and will often fight to the death rather than running if the combat turns against it. The Great White Stallion has developed an amazing sense of increased balance, which makes it impossible to trip or stumble. The creature cannot be knocked down or knocked off balance, and it is immune to any mental attacks that cause vertigo or dizziness.

Many mutants have tried to catch and "break" a Great White Stallion for use as a mount. This is ill-advised as the creature will attack and consume those it views as a threat...or food. In fact, due to the Great White Stallion's increased caloric needs, it needs to eat at least 6 full meals a day. Even if you can tame one, you would need to insure the food keeps coming. If your new "horse" gets hungry, you WILL become its next meal...

Mutations: increased balance, increased caloric needs

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

[Labyrinth Lord] Magic Item: Boon/Bane Coin

A Boon/Bane Coin is a simple -- yet remarkably powerful -- magic item that can reveal whether a potential course of action is beneficial (boon) or detrimental (bane) to the coin-holder.

The coin appears to be a blank, unstamped copper coin. If a statement is made about a course of action and the coin is flipped, upon landing the face will reveal one of two images: an angelic scene if the course of action is advisable or safe, or a demonic scene if the action is ill-advised or dangerous. The statement must be phrased as a course of action to activate the coin's magic, i.e., "We will trust what this merchant says"; "We will take the left corridor"; "I will drink the contents of this bottle." If the outcome of the action is unknown/questionable or if a question is asked ("Should we take the left corridor?"), the coin will remain blank upon landing, offering no input one way or another.

The Boon/Bane Coin's magic works in a manner similar to the 5th level Cleric spell Commune, though the coin is not beholden to any specific deity. The Boon/Bane Coin will reveal two answers per day. Further daily demands upon the coin will result only in blank faces.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

[Cryptworld] New Thing: Smiley Face

"So spread sunshine all over the place,
And put on a happy face..."

A Grinning Cannibal for Cryptworld

STR: 4 (60) --- WPR: 4 (60)
DEX: 3 (45) --- PER: 5 (75)
AGL: 5 (75) --- PCN: 4 (60)
STA: 4 (60) --- PWR: 75
ATT: 1/68% --- WND: 14
MV: L 75†

Experience: 1,000

Smiley Faces are cannibalistic humanoids who disguise themselves as normal human beings, infiltrating society until they can strike -- and feast -- in secret. In its natural form, a Smiley Face's primary feature is a monstrous grinning mouth that fills most of its pallid, jaundiced face. Above the creature's mouth are two black, narrow, ovaloid eyes, giving the thing an uncanny resemblance to the 1970's "smiley face" icon, which is where it gets its name.

To hide its true nature, the thing's eyes change shape, its skin color softens and deepens, and its facial skin pulls back into place giving it the appearance of any other person, with one notable exception -- they seem to always have a smile on their face. (The creature's skin cannot pull back enough to completely cover the leering maw of the monster.) To hide the reason for their perpetual grin, the creature usually enters a field where this facial expression isn't unusual: stand-up comedian, theme park employee, day care worker, etc. Those who associate with the disguised monster often remark how pleasant "Miss Jones" is to be around and will never believe "she" had anything to do with anything nefarious.

A Smiley Face must feed on a freshly killed human once every month to maintain its disguise. If it hasn't fed during this time, the thing's face will change and warp, revealing its true features. The Smiley Face attacks its victim by first revealing its true face to its prey, using its paralytic grin power to terrorize the victim into immobility. It then uses whatever weapons it has on hand to murder the victim before consuming the body whole. When the Smiley Face is done feeding, there is usually very little remaining as the creature's powerful jaws can chew through and consume everything: bone, teeth, clothing, etc. The creature does have trouble digesting metal, so bits of tooth fillings and jewelry remnants may be found at the scene of the initial crime.

In its human form, a Smiley Face is pleasant, always cheerful and helpful, and may actually help investigators in their search for a missing colleague. In actuality, the thing is trying to determine how much investigators actually know, hide or destroy found clues, and otherwise throw them off the track.

Smiley Face Powers

Paralytic Grin: The appearance of a Smiley Face's true visage is so horrific, those who see one have been know to become paralyzed with fright. When a Smiley Face drops its charade and reveals its toothy rictus, it needs to roll a specific PWR check versus the column corresponding to the victim's WPR score. The power costs the Smiley Face 30 WPR with the following effects if successful:
S = The victim is stunned into inaction for one round.
L = The victim is lightly frightened and will be paralyzed for 1d10/2 rounds (round up).
M = The victim is mind-numbed and will be unable to act for 1d10 rounds.
H = The victim is horrified and will be unable to act for 2d10 rounds.
C = The victim is catatonic and will be unable to act until assisted by another party. The victim will need to be "shaken" out of their trance to act again as their mind has effectively shut down from shock.
The Smiley Face can attempt a paralytic grin only once per victim, as they become immune to future attempts with this power.