Sunday, July 12, 2020

Online Gaming Back in 1983? Yup, Welcome To "CB D&D"

It's fairly plain to see that the world of gaming is going to be online for the foreseeable future. Sure, I miss going to conventions and face-to-face table gaming. And I've heard more than one person lament that they refuse to try remote game sessions as "it's not the same." But to those folks, I gotta tell you you're really missing out as remote gaming has been around since gaming started. (In fact, I found an interesting article that suggests chess was played remotely via correspondence as far back as the 9th century!) In fact, yours truly is an old hand at remote gaming...

I recall playing by mail back in the 1980s, where I gave several of the games run by Flying Buffalo a try (still going strong today!), and I even played Silverdawn over the course of a summer back then. But my favorite session of playing remotely was the time I played D&D over my CB radio.

My first car was a 1972 Ford Pinto handed down to me from my mom. No AC, black plastic interior, AM radio (that didn't work), but it had a CB radio that still worked left over from the 1970's CB radio craze. I used it to listen to truckers gabbing as they passed by my house on the interstate about 1/4 mile away.

Anyway, during our weekly D&D game, my cleric (Brother Jarrod) got separated from the rest of the party deep in a long-forgotten crypt. My DM, Roger, decided he would run the two groups separately until they met up again. Due to circumstances, he and I were unable to get together that week. And my parents made it clear that tying up the phone line playing D&D ws out of the question. Roger, who lived about 5 miles from me, remembered that I had a CB radio in my car.

"Hey, I think I have a CB base unit down in the basement," he said. "How about we do this over the CB?" I thought it was a great idea, so around 7 pm on a Tuesday night (school was out for the summer), I got in my car, laid my character sheet and dice on the passenger seat, fired up the CB, and Roger and I played a one-on-one game over the airwaves. My handle was "Brother Jarrod", and he was "The Overlord", as I recall. We followed CB protocol as best as we could, finding an open channel (so we wouldn't tie up "real" communications), and ending each statement with "over."

"I listen at the door. Do I hear anything? Over."

"Nope, it sounds empty. Over."

"OK, I swing open the door and charge in! Over."

We got through a few rooms, and I managed to not die in combat as a lone 3rd level cleric lost in a tomb. Roger said, off in the distance, I saw a glimmer of torchlight - likely the rest of the party. (Over.) So I ran to meet back up with them (Over.), thus ending the session. The CB game probably lasted about 2 hours and was tons of fun. And, of course, just as we were wrapping up and signing off, an amused laughing voice broke in...

"What the hell are you two kids doing on this channel? Playing some kinda game?"

Yup, it was "some kinda game", all right! Over.

"Quill Noir: Forgotten Case Files" Supplement for Quill Noir RPG Now Available

I knocked on the chief inspector’s office door and walked in before the invite. He glanced up from a stack of paperwork, an annoyed grimace on his face.

“Just returning the Henderson case file,” I said, holding up the tattered Manila folder. The chief wordlessly hooked his thumb toward the row of file cabinets lining one wall and went back to his Sisyphean task. I crossed to the cabinets, opened drawer “G-H-I”, and wedged it back into position. While doing so, my eyes fell upon several red folders stuffed in the back. I wrestled to pull them out and, once freed, I laid them across the tops of the cabinets. There were 10 folders in all, labeled “Case 1” through “Case 10”.

“Hey chief? What are these?” I asked over my shoulder.

“Huh? Oh, those,” came the chief’s bored reply. “Those are cold case files. Unsolved.”

I scowled at the thought. I don’t like the idea of someone getting away with committing a crime. It makes my overly developed sense of justice itchy. “Mind if I take these and give ’em a gander?” I asked. “Maybe I can open up some new leads.”

Once again, the chief glanced up, shrugged, and hooked his thumb toward the door, inviting me to exit. I bundled up the red folders and took my leave…


Quill Noir: Forgotten Case Files is a scenario supplement for use with Quill: A Letter-Writing Roleplaying Game for a Single Player and Quill Noir. To use this supplement, both the Quill rulebook and Quill Noir are necessary. Quill Noir: Forgotten Case Files takes place in the world of Quill Noir, a time reflecting 1930s pulp crime fiction novels and 1940s detective films. Quill Noir: Forgotten Case Files presents 10 new cases for would-be gumshoes and flatfoots to solve. You may find yourself investigating art fraud; rescuing someone from a burning building; testifying on the witness stand; or escaping from thugs who want to put you in a Chicago overcoat. 

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

Saturday, June 13, 2020

DCC Days Is Here! Play DCC/MCC All Weekend Long And Support Your FLGS Too!

DCC Days is upon us, so get to your FLGS for DCC-related goodies and plant yourself in front of your computer screen for online games and fun! 

Similar yet bigger and more focused than Cyclops Con last month,  DCC Days grew from DCC Day (singular) which was to be a one-day, in-store celebration of Goodman Games' product line. Your FLGS would provide freebies and new Goodman products and swag (ala Free RPG Day) as well as run in-store games and demos. Well, COVID-19 put the kibosh on in-store games, so the folks at Goodman expanded the gaming to the online realm. So this weekend sees online games of Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Crawl Classics, etc., but if you want the goodies and swag, you must venture forth and visit the stores (who, in turn, could really use your business at this time).

Last night I ran a team of four mighty mutants into The Desk in Room 8-10, and Sunday, I'll be running two more MCC games: Plague From Below and The Albuquerque Starport (yes, the classic Gamma World adventure)! As the social isolation continues, I'm really getting the hang of online gaming, which allows me to play with folks from across the country and around the world. And events like Cyclops Con, DCC Days Online, Virtual Gary Con, and others to come later this year continue to bring us together while we remain apart. 

And now a few photos of DCC Days thus far!

Remember, when you go out, be sure to wear a mask!

Another band of micro-mutants tackling the dangers to be found within The Desk in Room 8-10!

Visited my FLGS and picked up a few DCC Day goodies, including the exclusive adventure "Shadow of the Beakmen" and a compilation Adventure Pack with 3 adventures for DCC, DCC-Lankhmar, and MCC!

I also picked up The Princess Bride RPG as I love the movie, heard the game was good, and wanted to support the store while there getting freebies.

Also, my nifty new toxic waste rusted drum arrived today in the mail. Perfect for holding any radioactive debris during those MCC games.

And my homemade nametag for the event. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

[Review] The Spirit Coin - The Pocket Diviner, Decision Maker, And GM Tool

Quick: Come up with the name of a wood elf your PCs just encountered. OK, now come up with his motivation as to why he's in this desolate area. Can he be trusted? And how far away is the nearest inn from here?

At the table, the GM is tasked with coming up with a lot of answers on the fly. Sure, you could refer to tables you have on hand or rely on your own imagination (although "Steve the Drow" might raise eyebrows). Or you could summon The Spirits to answer these queries through the use of The Spirit Coin.
Created by Alex Kool and launched on Kickstarter, The Spirit Coin is like a portable Ouija Board. The two sides of the coin have four circles: the two outer circles contain the alphabet (consonants and vowels, respectively); the next contains the numbers 0-9 (odd/even); and the inner-most is YES/NO. The user takes the coin in hand and concentrates on the question. Turn the coin in your hand and randomly seek out the answers you need. For example, taking the questions from above (and I swear these are legit from The Coin):

Elf name? ETWIN - That sounds good, so "Etwin" it is.
Motivation? HRNWND - I see "Horn Wind", so I'll say he's on a quest to find The Horn of Winds. He's a sailor and he can use this item to propel his vessel.
Trustworthy? NO - I see our new friend is up to some mischief. Perhaps he mistakenly thinks the PCs possess the item, and he wishes to fight them for it?
Nearest inn? 2 miles from here. And Etwin will accompany his new friends (in hopes of prying The Horn from their hands!).

The Spirit Coin is solidly made of heavy metal and comes in two finishes, bronze and silver. I've taken mine and placed it in my dice bag for those moments when I need quick answers from The Spirits. (Usually at the game table, but you also never know when some otherworldly guidance may come in handy!) The Spirit Coin is now available on Etsy for $15 (with free shipping). I've found this to be very useful during writer's block or as a random prompt for all types of situations, so for GMs who could use a bit of spiritual guidance at the table, go grab one!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Cyclops Con Days 1-3: Seminars, Games, And Mutants-Mutants-Mutants!

As readers of The Savage AfterWorld knows, with every game convention I've attended, I have filed a daily travelogue so folks who couldn't make it would be able to game vicariously through my thoughts, photos, and amusing anecdotes. Welp, just as I did with Virtual Gary Con a few weeks ago, I'm filing today's report from Cyclops Con! (AKA, my basement and home office.)

Cyclops Con was founded, formed, and launched this weekend by Goodman Games to celebrate all things DCC, as well as give home-stranded gamers an outlet for those RPG frustrations. Since I began an old hat at online judging at VGC (or so I think), I decided to throw caution to the wind and run 18 mutants through my three Mutant Crawl Classics adventures - one available, one coming out next month, and one that got an initial playtest at this event!

As usual with these little travelogues, I'll share what I've seen and done to give you a feel for what's going on each day I attend. However, since the "seen and done" mostly takes place in one room of my house, I'll combine all three days into this missive.

And here we go:
  • DAY ONE: After I got home from work Friday evening, I fired up the old laptop and ran six folks through my MCC 0-level funnel "Dead in the Water." I've been running this for years now, but I always get a kick out of bringing new folks into the hazards of The Island of Fire. By the time the game ended, I had killed off nearly half of the 0-level fodder, and the highlight occurred when one brave zero-level nobody took a deep breath, ran through a forcefield and onto the ocean floor, and stabbed a giant squid in the eye with a trident. Not only did the ocean depths not instantly crush him, he delivered the killing blow to The Sea-Wraith, and the survivors were welcomed back as heroes!
  • DAY TWO: Today's game was "The Desk in Room 8-10" - a small adventure (Ha!) I've written to be released next month on DCC Day. The team managed to fight their way into The Underdrawer where they met the remaining memebers of a previous Seeker team as well as held off The Ravenous Ones until they could repair MICRON to end the experiment! (Yes, I realize this is vaugue, but you'll have to play the game to put the pieces together!
  • Later that evening, I joined up with other Goodman fans (as well as with Joe himself!) at the Boulder Tossers bar, where we gabbed about our respective gaming backgrounds and kicked back with a few cold drinks. (My beverage of choice that night was a frosty Yoo Hoo.)
  • DAY THREE: Today was the day I led six excited players through the premiere run of "Plague From Below." While visiting a neighboring village, a mysterious illness began to overtake the village council. The team was tasked with finding a cure for this ailment at a recently uncovered Ancient medical complex. Skyhooks, Time Wolves, Virii, and a "helpful" med-bot named MORT provided the cure to the ailment. (Exc ept there was one last issue to take care of upon returning.) The players enjoyed the game and I got some valuable feedback on where to tighten up some plotlines.
  • Due to some technical glitches (as well as losing track of time), I was unable to attend DCC College. However, right behind it was Joe's "What's New at Goodman Games" seminar. He shared news and artwork from upcoming projects such as Xcrawl Classics, Empire of the East, and Dying Earth. He discussed DCC Day (still scheduled for next month, but some alterations could occur during the pandemic crisis). The item that stunned me was the announcement of the next in the Original Adventures Reincarnated line: "The Temple of Elemental Evil"! And finally, he discussed the new ways that Goodman Games is embracing VTT gaming with artwork and adventure support for Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds rolling out. A lot of incredibly exciting things are coming from the Goodman Gang, so keep an eye open!
  • One special treat, I recorded my game of "Plague From Below," so if you'd like to see some mutant mayhem, click this link to be taken to the video!
And, finally, as the online event comes to a close and my screen's phosphor dot slowly fades, here are some random shots from throughout the event:

Joe Goodman presents "What's New With Goodman Games"

My visit to the Boulder Tossers after hours lounge had gamers from across the country and around the world in attendance!

The players first encountered the pseudoscorpion in "The Desk in Room 8-10"!

Holy crow! The Temple of Elemental Evil has been announced as the next adventure in the OAR series!

Several MCC mutants found themselves "Dead in the Water"!

During my visit to Boulder Tossers, I inked up my MCC dice, adding gold paint to the high digits to tel them apart.

For this event, I cracked open a case of the finest chocolate-milk-like beverage money can buy!

I love the shirt designed for this year;s Cyclops Con!

And my homemade badge to commemorate the event. Thanks everyone at Goodman Games for a great time!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Cyclops Con: All Dungeon/Mutant Crawl Classics! All Weekend Long!

This weekend, keep an eye out for Cyclops Con! (Ha! See what I did there with "eye"? Because a cyclops only ahem.) Cyclops Con is the brainchild of the Dark Forces at Goodman Games who are holding a weekend-long online convention revolving around their many role-playing games: Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Crawl Classics, XCrawl, Fifth Edition Fantasy, and any versions and derivatives thereof!

I've recently taken a shine to MCC RPG, creating material for the game for the annual Gongfarmer's Almanac as well as my own 0-level funnel, "Dead in the Water." So this weekend, I'll be running three adventures I've written: One released, one coming out next month, and one currently in playtesting.

Friday sees the return of "Dead in the Water" to the the (virtual) tabletop. I had retired this from convention play, but I thought I'd give it one more turn at the table for this specific con. After all, it's their game that spawned the adventure in the first place!

Saturday I'll be running a few folks through the terrors to be found in "The Desk in Room 8-10." The adventure is written and being laid now, with plans to be officially released on DCC Day on May 16! (And I may just run it again on that day to celebrate!

Sunday will see the premiere first run of my newest adventure "Plague From Below." It's a concept I've had for awhile and am super-stoked to give it its first runthrough with a team of second-level MCC players. It will be a bit "looser" as I'm still working out some of the details of the plot, but it's gonna be fun for all.

Cyclops Con has a few hundred games to choose from, plus several DCC-focused seminars and talks from the creators and authors. Also, each night has a social hangout where you can talk All Things Goodman with other fans. Hope to see you there!

"The World's Gametable": Staying Home Yet Attending Conventions

When the current global pandemic prompted the cancellation of Gary Con this year, I admit I was crushed. It's one of my favorite events to attend, so knowing I was gonna be missing out on several days of back-to-back gaming with my friends was a bitter pill to swallow. However due to some last-minute adjustments and a sweeping push by both GMs and players to migrate online, Gary Con XII lived on as "Virtual Gary Con," complete with hundreds of online events, seminars, and general drunken after-hours get-togethers. By the time the weekend ended, I ran 16 hours of games, watched a seminar or two, and hung out with about 30 other gamers from around the world as we drank and swapped tales from the table.

I attended Gary Con, all without leaving my basement rec room. And it was a blast.

Since then, spring gaming conventions in danger of being cancelled have made a similar adjustment to take place in the electronic aether. KoboldCon now launches May 1 in an online format, and this coming weekend sees the premiere of Cyclops Con, Goodman Games' new online event. Origins Game Faire is one of the recent events that has switched over to an online format (though details are still worked out at this time).

For many of us, we may have the opportunity to attend game conventions across the nation - and even worldwide - that we would otherwise never have a chance to attend. (I already have my eye on running some virtual games for some west coast events.)

Online gaming has always been a thing with many gamers, with services like Roll20, Astral Tabletop, and Fantasy Grounds remaining popular, as well as boardgaming apps like But it seems like the recent circumstantial push toward online gaming have forced grognards (like myself) and others to give it a try. Whether through a gaming-specific service or through other online telecommunication services like Discord, Skype, Zoom, or even chatrooms, it appears that online gaming will be The World's Gametable in the coming months.

So look for this face staring back at you from your screen this summer!