Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Savage AfterWorld GM Merit Badges

Stuart over at Strange Magic started the newest round of blog memes when he posted some GM Merit Badges. GMs can post these to give players a heads-up as to what kind of game they may encounter. Clever fun idea, but I noticed a distinct lack of post-apocalyptic-themed badges. So, I cobbled together a few that would be more apropo for my own games:

Splashing around in radiation will not give you new mutations. Most likely, it will kill you. So stop bathing in every toxic waste drum you discover. You're not going to grow an extra arm or develop telepathy. If you're lucky, you may make your saving throw and die in 10 minutes rather than immediately.

Go ahead and start pushing buttons and flipping switches on that odd piece of Ancient technology you discovered. Go ahead. I dare ya.

Yeah, I'm a sucker for the "It was Earth all along!" twist. You know it's Earth. I know it's Earth. Just try and act surprised when you find the Statue's torch on the beach or stumble across Mount Rushmore in a canyon.

Mutant human/animal hybrids are cool, and you will either encounter them or play them as pre-gens. They are not "furries." Stop calling them that. It's creepy.

At some point, the D30 will come into play. And when it does, the results will be AWESOME.

All of my games take place in "Norleans," "Shykago," "N'York," or some other slightly-altered place name location. Bask in my cleverness when you realize what "Klumbus" actually is.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mutated Musings From The Blogosphere

Seems that there are several developments on the post-apocalyptic RPG front recently. I'll try to summarize what I stumbled across in today's post:

Razed: Post-Apocalyptic RPG Coming Soon From Pelgrane Press

The folks who brought you Trail of Cthulhu and Ashen Stars are now working on a post-apocalyptic RPG based on their Gumshoe system. The game, Razed, has been in the works for a while and was playtested at Gen Con 2011. As a Gumshoe system game, the emphasis is on investigation and exploration. The world ended recently, but HOW did it end? WHY did it end? WHO else is out there? WHAT happened? These are the questions the survivors must deal with as they explore the recently-ended world. Pelgrane Press has been posting regular updates on the game's development and creator Will Hindmarch has been posting updates on Razed's progress on his blog as well.

Old School (Apocalyptic) Hack

Apparently, someone hacked a hack of a hack -- if that makes sense! Risus Monkey clued me in that David A. Hill over at the Old School Hack forums had reverse engineered Old School Hack, the recent Ennie Gold Award Winner for Best Free Product. Using the system as a base, Hill created Retrocalypse, a Fallout-inspired old school End Times RPG. Fans of the computer/video game will want to check it out!

Map Your Blasted Earth Landscape

Aeons & Augauries' blog-meister JDJarvis has posted a set of Post-Apocalyptic Hex Map graphics for use by readers as well as encourage input. Plans are to use these for future projects, so he'd like some constructive criticism as well. (Love the terms "Ashmire" and "Rusted Forest.")

Form-Fillable Mutant Future Character Sheet

This is an old bit of news, but a new discovery for me. The Venomous Pao over at Strange Stones created a form-fillable Mutant Future character sheet. Download the PDF, and input your character's stats and facts into the open fields. You can then print out your fully filled-out sheet for that evening's game. (The Mutant Future-specific font is a nice tough too!) He also has a similar form available for Labyrinth Lord. This sheet was instrumental in creating my Gen Con games' pre-gens, so thanks Pao!

Wander the Wastes in This Rogue-like RPG

For any folks who still while away the hours playing Nethack, Rogue, and other "roguelike," computer-based, ASCII-graphics RPGs, you'll be happy to know that there is an apocalyptic survivor roguelike game out on the Interwebs. In Alphaman, you start with two random mutations and then are sent into randomly-generated Blasted Lands. Just as surprisingly complex as its predecessors, Alphaman will have you fighting mutant chickens and badders as you try to determine how the world ended and what can be done before it happens again...permanently. Download it here and have fun!

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Butt Bite"?!?!?!

Checked today's blog stats and I had three Google hits when someone searched for the phrase "butt bite." Needless to say, I could not for the LIFE of me puzzle out how that could lead folks here. So I clicked on the link to The Savage AfterWorld to see where it led.

Yup, it's a legit hit all right.

Notorious NPC: Barter John

Barter John
4th Level Mutant Animal (Bear)

STR: 17 --- INT: 15
DEX: 12 --- WIL: 13
CON: 19 --- CHA: 15
HPs: 92 --- AC: 6

Mutations: reflective epidermis (radiation); empathy; intellectual affinity (barterer)

It is said that if you want something -- anything at all -- go see Barter John. If he doesn't have it, he can get it. If he can't get it, it's because it doesn't exist.

Barter John is a 7-foot-tall mutant bear. He has a joking, jovial personality, quick with a wink and a joke -- a cross between your favorite uncle and the favorite bartender. However, if John feels betrayed, crossed, or wronged, his savage nature will explode upon the hapless victim who will find themselves toe-to-toe with an enraged grizzly. It's best to stay on John's good side.

As a bear, John is incredibly strong with a high constitution. Due to this, he has a +2 hit/damage bonus as well as a +1 poison save modifier. His fur has a slight golden sheen to it due to his reflective epidermis mutation, giving Barter John an immunity to all forms of radiation. In his younger days, Barter John used to wander the radioactive ruins and poisoned lands without fear, locating and amassing an incredible hoard of Ancient treasures and wonders. As he got older, he began selling and trading these wares until he became who he is today.

Barter John is a legendary scrounger, trader, and barterer. Over the years, he has achieved a reputation as being the "go to" guy for anyone in the market for the rare and unusual. His ability to have whatever a client needs borders on the uncanny. No one visits John without walking away with some new item or doo-dad they never knew they needed. And his selection of weapons is second to none. In fact, roaming traders and merchants actually visit Barter John for their own supplies. Barter John's bartering intellectual affinity gives him an uncanny edge to convince folks they need whatever he's selling, and folks are willing to sell what they have (at a slight loss) if John wishes it. Barter John is the ultimate salesperson in the wastes.

Barter John has a trading post compound he set up on an Ancient army base he discovered years ago. This post is found on one of the main trading routes in the Mutant Future. But before anyone gets any bright ideas about robbing him, Barter John has his own security force armed with the same weapons found on the military base. They are well-paid, well-armed, and will defend the post to the death. Also, Barter John has made it clear that if he is ever attacked, he will no longer deal as freely with the public. Because he supplies the wasteland's "ne'er-do-wells" as well as the day-to-day survivalists, everyone makes it their duty to help keep things on the level for John, lest the gravy train of Ancient tech and supplies dried up. Barter John's empathy mutation makes him attuned with his customers who also feel that they "owe" john their loyalty and protection -- as good consumers and "friends," of course. In other words, annoy Barter John at your own risk lest you have the entirety of the countryside out for your hide.

Barter John will occasionally hire nomads and wanderers to be part of his “Acquisitions and Recovery department,” as he jokingly calls it. In other words, he tells them where to find stuff, and they go get it. John pays well, treats his "employees" fairly (with the help of empathy), and supplies room and board in one of the many barracks still standing at the base. For many, it's an easier gig than joining a band of marauders and they'll jump at the chance.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Road Trip Cancelled...

Jumping in the Landmaster for a very special Mutant Future-related trip this weekend. I'm now eating No Doz and washing them down with Red Bull in anticipation of the whirlwind journey about to take place tomorrow morning. Will post about it upon my return...

EDITED TO ADD: Looks like the roadtrip is off. I was planning on driving to Wisconsin to play in a Mutant Future game run by Dan Proctor himself. However, I found out about it on short notice and, try as I might, I can't squeeze the trip into my schedule. It's 9+ hours there and 9+ back. Game runs 4 or 5 hours. So that's nearly 24 hours right there. And I need to be back by Saturday evening for personal stuff. Not gonna happen this time, I'm afraid. But I will make one of those games this year. Oh yes, I shall...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Savage Menagerie: Crumble Mold

No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: None
Movement: 0
Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: None
Damage: None
Save: F1
Morale: None
Hoard Class: None

Crumble Mold appears as a featureless brown mold in a patch about a foot across. The mold is often found growing in caves and caverns or on statues, stone walls, and other stonework. It is rarely, if ever, found in an outdoor setting. Crumble Mold feels surprisingly dry and dusty to the touch.

However, Crumble Mold grows very aggressively on wood. If Crumble Mold or its spores comes into contact with a wooden surface, it will rapidly spread, encompassing 1 square foot of surface area per round (reaching a maximum area of 2d6 square feet). Once the object is engulfed or the mold reaches maximum size, the mold will begin burrowing into the wood's porous surface, leeching out most of the moisture, tissue, and cellulose. Within a matter of 1d6 turns, the wood has been converted to a grey, brittle, fragile, balsa wood-like material. The mold dies off shortly thereafter. An Ancient house infested with Crumble Mold is a dangerous place to investigate as the unwary could drop through several floors, or even have the entire house collapse upon them.

Crumble Mold does not affect living plants and trees (or mutant plants, for that matter), and the mold and its spores cannot survive long in direct sunlight. Crumble Mold has been nicknamed “Nature's Door Opener” and will often be carried in an airtight, black jar by savvy survivalists for just such a purpose.

Mutations: none

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Original Mutant Future Cover Mock-up Located

My recent post about an as-of-then-unidentified Mutant Future cover raised an interesting question among MutFut fans: "So what DID the original cover look like?" Rarely does the rough draft of any book have a finalized cover image in place. (I should know, being in the book biz.)

I asked Dan Proctor, Goblinoid Games president and co-writer of Mutant Future, about the work-in-progress cover used prior to the first public release. He described the playtest cover, explaining that it was only printed for four initial concept proofs. The set of rules sent to playtesters did not have this cover, rather it had an interior title page with a simplified version of the initial cover design.

As he and I traded emails about what the original Mutant Future cover design entailed, I realized he described an image I had seen before -- but couldn't quite put my finger on where I had seen it. I explained to him that I recalled seeing an advertisement for both Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord somewhere that had that exact cover concept in place. Dan then confirmed that the ad I remembered appeared in Scribe of Orcus, Vol. 1, Issue 1! The ad featured an earlier version of the Labyrinth Lord cover and the original mock-up for the unreleased-at-the-time Mutant Future rulebook. So, with Dan's OK, here is the ad from Scribe of Orcus 1-1:
And here is the Mutant Future cover from the ad -- the work-in-progress precursor to the first public release:

I always find the earlier days of a game's formation, art design, and construction fascinating, and I appreciate Dan's help in shedding a bit of light on this mystery.

Mutant Future Giveaway Winners Announced

Time to select our five winners for our Second Anniversary Prize Giveaway! We have 36 valid entries, so I'm using Random.org to generate five random numbers from 1 to 36. And here we go:
I have sent out emails via Gmail to the winners already. If you see your name above, check your email and reply to my message, following the instructions within to claim your prize. Thanks to all who entered and thanks for reading The Savage AfterWorld!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mutant Future RPG Stuff Giveaway! (Second Attempt)

Back in June, I held a "Second Anniversary" contest for Followers of The Savage AfterWorld. I had a host of prizes, and I drew six names at random from the Followers who had signed up. And after several weeks of posting and emailing and asking them to come forward, I was only able to give away ONE of the prizes to winners who claimed them.

So here we go again.

I have five Mutant Future-related prizes to give away to readers of this blog. Some are leftovers from the first go-round, and a few are new prizes I picked up at Gen Con 2011 specifically to give away in this new contest. Up for grabs are:
And here's a picture of the prizes we're givin' away:
To enter, just post in a Comment to this post with your email contact in the Comment. Feel free to "de-Spambot" it in any way you wish, ie, name (at) whatever (dot) com or something. (See my email address over there in the right-hand column.) That's all it takes. Sometime on Tuesday, August 16, I'll take everyone who commented and will randomly draw five winners from the list. It's that simple. To keep things fair, only one Comment/entry per person. If I see a dupe entry, I toss 'em both, so reply only once. Also, don't enter multiple times under different names/accounts. That's just an ass thing to do. Next up, this is open to folks worldwide, as I'm happy to ship globally. Finally, be sure to tune in on Tuesday as I'll be posting the winner's names. I'll also be firing off emails to the winners. But, unlike last time, you'll have 48 hours to respond with a mailing address before I write it off as a no-show and I draw another winner.

So that's the game. Good luck to everyone. The entry list begins...NOW.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Prelim Mutant Future Rulebook Cover Discovered?

Hmmm...this is an interesting discovery. While Googling around for hidden Mutant Future gems, I came across a rulebook download at one of the many file-sharing sites. You can find the core rulebook (and earlier art-laden free versions) everyplace, but what caught my eye was the cover attached to the rulebook. I have grabbed it and posted it here for your review.

My first thought was that it was a custom fan-made cover. But there are a few details that a fan would not have used. First up -- the original Goblinoid Games logo appears at the bottom of the cover. An odd detail for a homebrew cover designer to add. But what got me curious was the title itself. The font used is very definately Metal Lord, which is the font used for the original cover's title as well as throughout the book. The font is rather obscure, and why would a fan go to the trouble of using the same font as the "official rules" rather than using something different? The artwork though appears to be from a Gamma world product, but I'll be darned if I can put my finger on it...

So my question is this: Is this the preliminary cover that appeared on the Mutant Future rules during the original playtesting? It would make sense if this were the "placeholder" cover used, as the artwork is obviously culled from another source, but indicative of the "feel" of the final rules. So if anyone can shed some light on this mystery, I'd be appreciative!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Savage Menagerie: Apocalypse Cow

No. Enc.: 4d10
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 240' (80')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: Special
Damage: Special
Save: L1
Morale: 4
Hoard Class: None

The Apocalypse Cow looks like any other standard bovine beast of burden, except that it has softly glowing eyes and a slight green glow about them. They are incredibly docile and gentle creatures, but--ironically--they are also one of the most dangerous creatures to roam the wastelands. Due to its molecular instability from generations of exposure to radiation and toxins, there is a good chance that an Apocalypse Cow will explode with the force of a fragmentation grenade if frightened, startled, or injured.

The Apocalypse Cow is never found in the wild by itself; rather it is a herd animal found in large roving groups of 4d10 cattle. These herds will be found wandering the plains, quietly grazing, mooing softly. Smart PCs may notice that the herd is surprisingly undisturbed and unhunted by natural predators. An Apocalypse Cow is a very skittish and tense, and stress or a high heart rate could trigger the Cow's explosive reaction mutation. If an Apocalypse Cow is startled, it has a 20% chance of exploding, atomizing the Cow and harming those who are too close to ground zero. This explosion will do 6d6 hit points of damage to all within 60 feet of the explosion. If an Apocalypse Cow is injured, it has a percentage chance of exploding equal to the amount of damage done, or 20%, whichever is higher (i.e., if it takes 30 points of damage from a laser shot, it has a 30% chance of exploding. If it takes 4 points from a thrown dagger, the chance of it exploding is 20% rather than the 4% from the dagger).

An exploding Apocalypse Cow is bad enough. Where the true danger lies is if nearby Cows are harmed when one explodes. When these nearby Cows are startled or injured, a potential chain reaction could be triggered. Example: The initial Cow is injured, and it explodes for 24 points of damage. Those Cows within 60 feet will, in turn, have a 24% chance of exploding. Any of THOSE that explode may trigger other nearby Cows. It is said that Western horizons occasionally light up from the sheer magnitude of a herd of exploding Apocalypse Cows.

Interestingly, the meat of an Apocalypse Cow is very much sought-after as a delicacy and will fetch a hefty price from any food vendor or barterer. Of course, the trick is how to "harvest" the meat without causing a catastrophic explosive chain reaction amongst the herd.

Mutations: explosive reaction NOTE: The Apocalypse Cow is inspired by a number of things: this shirt at Offworld Designs; the radioactive exploding cows found in one level of Destroy All Humans; and the fact that a gentle docile creature like the cow could be a walking timebomb is endlessly funny and terrifying.

Quick Giveaway: Win "Books of the Wastes"

Hey gang,

Chuck Rice of Vigilance Press was kind enough to offer five free copies of Books of the Wastes to readers of The Savage AfterWorld. Books of the Wastes is a six-page supplement that offers the Mutant Lord a series of long-forgotten texts their Mutant Future PCs might stumble upon in their adventures. What kinds of information can the Ancient Words impart to the wasteland wanderers? A new "learning" rules mechanism is also introduced, giving PCs a reason to seek out these tomes and study their contents.

Chuck will provide a free copy of his new book to the first five people who send me an email with "Books of the Wastes Giveaway" in the subject line. (My email address is over yonder in the right-hand column.) I'll update this message when we have our five "winners."

EDITED TO ADD: Congrats to Rich S., Derek D., Eric C., Brian R., and Robert B. who are the winners of the giveaway. Please watch your email for information from Chuck on how to claim your prize.

For those who didn't win or missed the giveaway, Books of the Wastes is only 99 cents and is now available for download at RPG Now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gen Con's "How Dry I Am" For Ghostbusters Now Available For Download

Last bit of "Gen Con Not-Mutant Future" business to take care of. I had a few folks email me, asking about the Ghostbusters game I ran for Gen Con. For those of you who are fans of the original West End Games RPG, here is a quick one-evening adventure you can run your PCs through. We had fun playing it at Gen Con. Enjoy!EDITED TO ADD: Sorry gang, but I now plan to run this at Gary Con 2012, so I've removed the link to the file. Anyone who stopped by for a sneak peek to the game, well, you're just gonna have to show up at Gary Con and play!

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Gen Con Hernia-Inducing Haul

Even though it looks like I went nuts with impulse buys, everything pictured here was a planned purchase:Radiation dice bag (two of them) - Q-Workshop
  • De Profundis - Cubicle 7
  • Illuminati Deluxe Edition (yes, two copies) - Steve Jackson Games
  • Part-Time Gods and Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. - Third Eye
  • Cheers Gary - Gygax Memorial Fund
  • Tooniversal Tour Guide and Toon Ace Catalog - Steve Jackson Games (Purchased used at Troll and Toad)
  • A History of Doc Savage - Fantom Press
  • Fight On! Issue 1-4 Compilation
  • OSRIC Hardback
  • Carnival Arcane CD - Midnight Syndicate
  • The Random Esoteric Creature Generator (two copies) - Goodman Games
  • Realm of the Technomancer (two copies) - Faster Monkey Games
  • Re-Energizers - Faster Monkey Games
And here is all things dice-related (some of these are impulse buys and nifty freebies):
  • Gen Con dice bag
  • Big ol' bag of scooped-up Chessex dice
  • My first Zocchihedron (d100)
  • d7 from Gamescience
  • Radiation die (gift from Justin over at A Field Guide to Doomsday)
  • Gen Con Forum "STINK" party d6 promo
  • Gen Con '11 d6 promo
  • d-Total from Gamescience (17 dice in one!)
Not pictured are a stack of new t-shirts (Gen Con 2011; Tower of Gygax; Part-Time Gods; and a bunch of general geek wear) and all the nifty free swag found in Ye Olde Swagge Bagge.

Lessons Learned: My Post-Gen Con Wrap-Up

  • Staying at The Canterbury Hotel was nice, and I got a hell of a deal by booking my room back in January. But it's about the furthest you can be from the action while still being connected by the Skywalk. So the hike to the ICC and back got real old, real fast. On the plus side, all of the games I ran were at the Crowne Plaza Hotel -- right next to my hotel which was very convenient. So it was a trade-off. I also saw the Crowne was right next to the ICC, so that may be where I end up next year.
  • Next year, I'll run only Mutant Future as I seemed to be the only one who did. So I'll fully embrace the mantle as "Gen Con's Sole Mutant Future GM." (Unless someone else steps up, in which case I shall totally play in your game.)
  • And one of those games will be a "Thundarr the Barbarian" Mutant Future game -- I so swear.
  • Speaking of running games -- next time I won't run so many as I somewhat cheated myself out of two days at Gen Con. I scheduled my games from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. so it'd be most convenient for me. (Nothing too early or too late.) However, the Exhibit Hall is open from, you guessed it, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Plus, by the time 6 p.m. rolled around, I had already been gaming (as a GM) for 8 hours. I was beat, even though I wanted to play in some games of my own and/or participate in the auction. And all of the pick-up games and after-hours funness were held at the ICC. Did I mention the hike? Anyway, next year, I'll run two/three games on one day to get it out of my system, then the rest of the event will be Sniderman Time to enjoy.
  • BRING. MORE. ASPIRIN. I swear I'm still working out the kinks.
  • BRING. MORE. THROAT. LOZENGES. Losing my voice Saturday morning was the pits.
  • Next year, I need to try to work in a round of True Dungeon. I regret not trying that out.
  • The camera I brought sucked. However, although I saw a lot of cool things to take pictures of, those same cool things were covered pretty well by other bloggers snapping shots and posting pix. I'm not one to take pix for my own personal keep-'em-forever use, so next year, no camera.
  • But I WILL bring a bigger empty suitcase specifically for the Gen Con Haul. I got so much swag and made so many purchases, I filled the carry-on I brought as well as half my clothes case. (I'll post a list of everything later.)
  • I hate fighting departing crowds for any event, so I left early Sunday morning, even though the event was wrapping up that morning. But I don't think I really missed anything of importance other one last sweep of the exhibit hall. Or did I? Nagging doubts linger that something cool happened on that final day and I missed it.
  • Next year, I need to find and attend more of the yearly traditions of Gen Con. Was there for the Tossing Of The First Die, but I didn't build anything at Cardhalla nor participate in its coin-fueled destruction, I didn't play in any pick-up games scattered throughout the area, I missed out on seeing the costume parade, I didn't play Drunken D&D or midnight Illuminati or Are You a Werewolf or NASCRAG, I missed Hickman's Killer Breakfast, I wanted to check out Dead Games Society's games on Wednesday night, etc. I did, however, get to take my turn through The Tower of Gygax with Luke Gygax as a teammate, I had lunch at The Ram one day, and I attended the Gen Con Forum Members' "Stink," so those were fun times.
  • I need to get all of my rulebooks onto a Tablet PC. Dragging my never-once-used rulesbook for the games I ran sucked. But I'm too nervous to NOT have them on hand for a rules call.
  • I feel like there were too many things to do, but I don't feel like I did enough, if that makes sense.
  • I really wish this had been 1986, I was 20-years-old, and I was attending with my old D&D crew from my youth. The tales would be epic.
  • The tales I have from my first Gen Con as a solo-flying 44-year-old GM are epic anyway. ;)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Goodnight Gen Con" -- A Children's Tale

(Just got home, and cobbled this together. Wrap-up to come after the first good night's sleep in four days...)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gen Con Day 3 -- Voiceless, Crossing The Streams, and Meeting The Media

As before, these are random musings and impressions as they came to me throughout the day:
  • Finally figured out the hot water situation at the hotel I'm at. I'm on the 11th floor of a rather old building. When I turn on the hot water at 5:30 a.m., I'm the first one apparently. So the hot water needs to be pumped up from the basement (or wherever) for "the first showerer of the day." Took 10 minutes to get hot. So, for everyone staying on floors 1 through 10 of the Canterbury, I'm the reason you awoke to hot water each morning as I "primed the pump," so to speak. You're welcome.
  • It was good to finally meet a fellow RPG Blogger "in the wild," so to speak. Justin Davis of A Field Guide to Doomsday and Amy, his Ever-Understandin'-Better-Half, played in both of Friday's Mutant Future games. Justin and I surprised Amy by bringing out her home-played PC as her "pre-gen" for the game. Yup, her Gen Con convention adventure is now part of her character's continuity. Gotta be sure to fire off experience points to her. I hope Penelope the Mutant Crawdad had fun!
  • Three days of irregular sleep, walking all over God's Green Earth, and eating nothing but crap is really starting to take its toll. I feel like gnomes are mining away my stomach lining.
  • HOLY CRAP. I just tried to actually talk this morning, and my voice is SHOT. I didn't even realize it, but I'm barely above a whisper this morning. Supposed to run a TOON game in about 2 hours, but I can't see how I'm gonna pull this off. (EDITED TO ADD: I went to GM HQ as early as I could to pull the plug on the game. Hated to do it, but I hope I gave those who signed up enough notice to find something else to do and to ensure they get refunds for the event.)
Later that afternoon after eating an entire roll of Halls, I was able to salvage my voice enough to run the Ghostbusters game "How Dry I Am" I had scheduled for 2 p.m. Only 2 of the 6 registered showed up (Thanks Clifford and Kyle!). I'd say we "made do," but that's inaccurate. We had a GREAT time in the game and much laughter was had by 'Busters and Ghostmaster alike.

Just got back from the Media Meet and Greet. Although I'm a small fish in a big pond, it was nice to meet some of the folks who also write/blog/podcast about the industry. Met the folks from Undergopher Central, Pulp Gamer, and Odd Novelty Productions. Then Justin and I traded Illuminati tales for a few hours over beers. A fine end to the day.

I've decided that I've done what I came to do. Ran some games, met some folks, spent some money, and made some memories. There's nothing scheduled for me on Sunday, and I really have no interest in seeing a closing ceremony or fighting the crowds leaving the city. I'll take my leave early in the morning, so consider this my last live Gen Con update. I'll post some wrap-up thoughts in the days to come. So long Indy. See you next year -- count on it.

Gen Con's "Gimme Shelter" For Mutant Future Available For Download

Hey gang,

Last night I ran two Mutant Future adventures at Gen Con - "Gimme Shelter" and "Dead in the Water." Here today for download is one of the two adventures - "Gimme Shelter." Feel free to download it and run your PCs through it.

Some notes: Some regular readers may notice that the adventure is a mash-up of two earlier-posted adventures here at The Savage AfterWorld. This is by design. I really liked those adventures and wanted to give them a run as a convention adventure (with a couple of tweaks and changes to keep things interesting). Secondly, the adventure is very short as there was only 3.5-4 hours to run it. Wanted to make sure there was a beginning, middle, and end, so I kept the encounters minimal. Next up, those who actually played it may notice that some of the encounters within didn't occur the way they did at the con. I needed to keep the game on target and moving, so I culled some things on the fly. (The Rot Dogs didn't show up in Scene 3, and the Mant lair wasn't nearly as sprawled out.) Finally, it's my personal hammered-out roughs -- warts and all -- just enough to guide the game. Don't expect a polished product, as that was never the intent.

I ran four 1st-level characters through it, so plan accordingly. Download and enjoy with my compliments. Oh, and what of "Dead in the Water"? Oh, THAT will see the light of day in a more polished form. The Gen Con run was a scaled-down version of...

Ah, but that would ruin the surprise, wouldn't it? :)

ETA: Would anyone want the TOON and Ghostbusters modules I plan to run as well? If there's enough interest, I'll post those too.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gen Con Day 2 -- Raucous Laughter, Giant Ants, and "The Plant With No Name"

Just got back from running my two Mutant Future games at Gen Con. As before, I'm just hammering out thoughts and opinions on the day's events as they come to me:
  • The table near mine was playing a Champions game where the team were sidekicks and superpets. It was played for laughs. I know this because the raucous laughter from that table filled the room, and I had to SHOUT over them to run my first game. I don't begrudge them from having a great time, but damn folks...bring it down a friggin' notch for the other 5 tables trying to play in the same 10' X 10' conference room.
  • Before I get too high on my horse, I played in a Paranoia game at a Con once, complete with airhorns, whistles, and shouts of "YES, FRIEND COMPUTER!" We royally pissed off the Call of Cthulhu game running at the table beside us. Perhaps this is Karma tapping me on the head, saying, "There ya go, jackass. Payback."
  • Just ate my first Chick-Fil-A sandwich. I truly do not understand the worship these things get. It was a chicken sandwich. Not bad, but not orgasmic.
  • I had two no-shows for the first game and one for the second game. Shame because they went very well, and we had a great time. Your loss, dudes. Hope you enjoyed whatever it was you did instead.
  • Note to self: Next year, do NOT schedule your games to run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Those are the hours of the Exhibit Hall. I'm gonna totally miss it Friday and Saturday this year.
  • Pictures will be sparse, I'm afraid. The digital camera I brought eats batteries like a ravenous spidergoat. I've already swapped out batteries TWICE and the newest ones are down to half-charge already. I'll get what I can, but if these die out, that's it.
  • Tomorrow I'm running a TOON game and a Ghostbusters game. Hoping for big laughs. But not big enough that I piss off other tables (see previous note).
As for the first game ("Gimme Shelter"), we had the following occur in 3.5 hours:
  • Pigmen ambush
  • a giant rock guy hurling a curled-up armadillo into an enemy and missing
  • an appearance of Medusaweed (I fretted because I forgot it was this morning's blog post, so I was afraid one of the players had seen the post about it)
  • a PC falling prey to the Medusaweed (he hadn't seen the post)
  • a fight with a couple of hardy Mants, ending with one of them getting his head crushed in by a thrown two-handed club
  • the armadillo trying to convey "friend, peace, no attack" to a giant ant via hand motions (the giant ant was befuddled as to what the mime was all about)
  • Finally, an attack by the Mant Queen which ended quickly when the android character fired his optic beams at the ceiling directly above the Queen. He opted to use the d30, and I decreed anything over a 20 resulted in a damage modifier. He rolled a 27, for a x7 damage modifier. A roll of 11 became 77 points of crushing cave-in damage to the Queen, ending the combat and the game in the EPIC WAY ONLY A D30 CAN BRING. Great game.
The second game was just as epic ("Dead in the Water") with the following scenes occurring:
  • dead mutants and humans crawling their way out of the sea to attack a fishing village
  • a crawdad mutant decapitating one of the Drenched with her giant claw
  • a thorn-throwing plant with Clint Eastwood's spaghetti western mannerisms
  • a PC uses the shriek mutation, flattening two foes...and two teammates as well
  • a half-man/half-wasp trying to grapple a Great White Gull in mid-air
  • Captain Laird, the sentient seaweed fishing boat captain
  • (cowering behind a computer console) "I'm hiding behind science!"
  • The PCs win initiative against the Big Bad Thing at the endgame. The half-wasp faces up against it, spits acidic saliva at it, opts for the d30, and does 29 points of damage; followed up by The Plant With No Name firing a thorn into its eye and rolling the (sigh) d30 for ANOTHER 30 POINTS OF DAMAGE. (Note: the Big Bad had 60 hit points.) The killing blow came from, appropriately enough, a sling and stone ala David and Goliath. They totally pwned my biggest, meanest critter within one combat round. The d30 - Love it. Hate it. Game with it.
  • "Norlins Saints." Heh.
Overall, I consider the two Mutant Future games were successful as everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. I think a few of 'em may pick up a copy or two of the rules over at the OSRG booth (#1541) tomorrow.

And here are shots from the two games:
We had a fifth player in this picture to the left who got cut off. Sorry 'bout that Jeff!

Savage Menagerie: Medusaweed

No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: None
Movement: None
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: Special
Damage: Stun, Special
Save: L2
Morale: None
Hoard Class: None

Medusaweed is an insidious naturally occurring plant found in deep overgrown forests in the Mutant Future. They appear to be the same as any other overgrown vines, snaking up tree trunks, hanging from branches, or laying across the forest floor. A strange sign that a Medusaweed patch is present is the appearance of 1d4 lifelike vine-covered "statues" scattered throughout the area. These are actually the fossilized victims of the 'Weed.

If a character comes into contact with Medusaweed for more than 2 rounds, he should roll a save versus poison attacks. If the save fails, he will be paralyzed by the vine's slowly absorbed dermal poison sap. The slow-acting poison ensures that a victim is unaware of the danger until they are well within the Medusaweed patch. Once paralyzed, the vine will slowly start wrapping itself around the character, which then triggers the Medusaweed's fossilization mutation. The 'Weed will begin "feeding" on the character for 2d4 points of damage each round. As it absorbs the character's life force, the character's flesh will begin to fossilize, turning to a calcified stone-like substance. When the character's hit points are completely absorbed, all that remains is a rock-like "husk" of the dead character. If a character makes the initial save vs. poison, he is able to pull himself away from the Medusaweed, but he takes 2d4 points of damage from the plant's initial attempt to calcify the character.

Medusaweed moves incredibly slowly, so there is no danger to the cautious character. But one who stumbles into a Medusaweed patch alone may find himself as yet another "statue" in the wilderness.

Mutations: dermal poison sap, fossilization

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gen Con Day 1 -- Cold Water, Human Traffic Cones, and Spit Takes

I started writing this post at 5:30 a.m. I've been adding to it whenever I stopped back at my room to drop off purchases or before heading to some other event. So the following are just thoughts and reactions to Gen Con as they happen:
  • Woke early so I could take a shower, grab a bite and prep for the day. Shower was short, as there was NO HOT WATER. Took a shower before bed last night. Maybe I used it all up? (j/k - will bitch at the front desk later about it)
  • Head over to the center about 1.5 hour before official opening. I have never seen more kilts before in my life -- and I've been to a Highland games event. I doubt the Scottish heritage of some of these folks...
  • While thumbing through the Gen Con program, I got a bit of a thrill seeing my name listed next to the games I'm running. I'm mentioned in the same book as gaming's stalwarts.
  • There is nothing more annoying than a loud-mouth attention grabber who isn't nearly as funny as he thinks he is. Dude, we weren't laughing at your shouted comments. We were laughing at the braying jackass making a public idiot of himself.
  • Gen Con attendees are almost universally the nicest big-ass group of folks I've ever encountered. Nearly everyone has been down-to-earth, helpful, and friendly to a fault. And I struck up a 20-minute conversation with a random stranger about Bunnies and Burrows. Try doing THAT at your local mall.
  • I don't carry a watch, but I do carry a phone so I know what time it is. Left it in the room. I was that "'Scuze me, what time is it?" guy. Sorry for the annoyance.
  • With all of the inspiration around me, I'm coming up with all kinds of Mutant Future inspiration, jotting furiously in a notebook every 3 minutes. One to share: In my world, the survivors who roam the wastes will now refer to the Final Wars That Ended the World as "Apocalygeddon."
  • The convention center needs a better AC system. 30,000 gamers = 30,000 BTUs.
  • Finn just walked by carrying Jake. Missed the photo op.
  • "Abnormality Atlas," "Deviant Database," or "Miscreation Manual": Which do you prefer?
  • I swear, the next human traffic cone who stops dead in front of me because he suddenly saw something shiny is gonna get a backpack swung at his head. I've already collided with three of these sudden-stoppers. Please, move to the side of the aisle and out of the traffic lanes before slamming on the brakes.
  • I'm staying at the Canterbury Hotel. Discovered a door on the third floor that said the Center Mall was right through the door. Walked through, and found myself in the Food Court on the other side! It appears I won't starve for the next four days.
  • At noon, I zipped over to the JW Marriot to play in The Tower of Gygax - a 24-hour, 4-day, on-going old school adventure. Walked in and was asked to pull up a chair. During the game, I was joking and kidding around with the barbarian player at the table. At some point, one of us said something funny enough to cause the DM to do a good old-fashioned spit-take. The game stopped while everyone laughed their asses off at this. Turns out the barbarian I hit it off with was Luke Gygax -- Gary's son. Good to meet you, Luke!
  • Hit the OSRG booth and got to talk with Joseph and Suzi for a bit. I think I bought one of everything they were carrying. Joseph said, at the rate he was selling, the booth could be empty by Saturday afternoon! He was also good enough to take a handful of Savage AfterWorld business cards from me to slip into the bags of anyone buying Mutant Future material.
  • Picked up a copy of Cheers Gary at the OSR booth and had it signed by Gail Gygax and editor Paul Hughes. They were recording testimonials about Gary for their website, so I did that too. I also picked up a Tower of Gygax t-shirt while there, as well as made an additional $20 donation to the Gygax Memorial Fund.
  • Good lord, I think I'm crippled. It's 4 p.m. and I'm in my room eating a Food Court burrito. I needed to stop by the front desk for aspirin (forgot to pack any) because my back, feet, thighs, and neck are killing me. But after a power nap and drinking three or four 5-Hour Energy shots, I'll go back out tonight to see what's what.
And now, some random pictures of whatever I pointed the camera at:A picture of people taking pictures of the D&D display at one entrance.

Cardhalla is already in full swing this year.

Me shaking hands with a life-size ogre statue. I have named him "Brittany."

Taken 5 minutes before the official opening of the doors to the dealer hall. Picture this mass behind me and to my right as well. A huge mob of folks.

James Ernest of Cheapass games throws the ceremonial first die of Gen Con and we're underway!

"Books Of The Wastes" Review

While at Gen Con, I also wanted to keep up with the usual Mutant Future posts and news. Before I left for the Con, Chuck Rice of Vigilence Press was kind enough to send me a copy of his latest Mutant Future offering, Books of the Wastes for perusal. Thanks Chuck!

Books of the Wastes is a small six-page micro-tome that offers the Mutant Lord a series of long-forgoten texts their PCs might stumble upon in their adventures. What kinds of information can the Ancient Words impart to the wasteland wanderers?

Books of the Wastes also introduces a new "learning" concept normally seen in RPGs such as Call of Cthulhu; that is, by reading and researching, the PC can expand his own knowledge and skill set. Review robot repair? Watch your tech ID level increase. Read up on gunsmithing, and your To Hit percentage gets better. On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer, but it's a nifty little way to introduce a bit of over-the-long-run character development. Chuck explains in the opening of the piece that it's his way of adding "feat-like" abilities to the game, but under the control of the ML.

The books introduced in this six-page offering (the last two pages are the OGL...) include:
  • Alice's Gun Almanac
  • Better Living HIGH Magazine
  • "Big" Bill Hutchison's Guide to Business Influence and Success
  • Chairman Mao's Little Red Revolutionary Handbook
  • Mr. Fixit's Handy Dandy Advanced User Manual
  • Mr. Fixit's Handy Dandy Robot Repair Manual
  • The Laze
  • U.S. Army Robot Combat Manual
  • U.S. Army Field Medic Guide
  • Little Pathfinder's Wilderness Survival Guide
Each entry is afforded a paragraph or so describing its contents and there is a nice cross-section covering several subjects that will be of interest to the players. My only complaint is I wish this were bigger! It's a great concept and I wanted to see more Works of Forgotten Lore. But the book-learnin' concept is solid enough to work into your campaign. Sniderman says "Check it out!"(See, it's a pun, because you "check out" books from a library, but it also means... never mind.)

Books of the Wastes is only 99 cents and is available for download at RPG Now.

Here's someone who knows all about
post-apocalyptic book reading.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Newest Thing At Gen Con...?

That "thing" would be me. :) The photo above was taken about 30 minutes ago from the entrance to The Indy Con Center. Got my badge. Got my tickets. Got my GM stuff in order. And I'm now resting in my room, pouring over the program, and thinking about lunch.

Quick story: This was not going to be my first Gen Con. Back in '86, I was fresh out of high school and seriously into all things AD&D. Gen Con was a pilgramage all 80's gamers wanted to take, and so I and three of my friends planned to hit it in 1986. Took a lot of begging before my parents agreed that I could make the trip. One friend was going to drive, another was taking care of the hotel. I ordered my badge and tickets (through the MAIL, which took 6 to 8 weeks) and began saving up all year for the event. This was to be one of the nerd-cred milestones of my life.

A week before departure, I kept trying to get the guys together so we could hammer out the plan of attack. Does Joe (not his real name) need money for gas? Ralph (not his real name) hadn't told us which hotel he had booked. I was trying to get answers from folks who were hedging.

Of course, I found out 3 days prior to leaving (when I was in a blind panic for lack of info) that the others weren't serious about going. It was nothing more than a "bar fantasy" to them. ("Hey, if we buy a bar, we can run it, and drink there, and it'll be COOL.") Turns out I was the only one who actually committed money and resources to the trip.

Of course, I didn't go as I didn't have a car...or a booked room...or the wherewithall to travel alone. So I threw out the unused badge and tickets. Never really tried again as I was somewhat soured on prepping for a trip of that size that depended on others' participation.

So, January of this year, I bought my badge and booked my room. And right now, as I hammer out this post, I'm sitting in my Gen Con hotel room and looking at my Gen Con badge. It took me 20+ years, but I finally made it here. Time to make up for lost time.

I'll be sharing my adventure with you folks for the next few days. I'll try to keep it "Mutant Futurey," but there will be a lot of general nerdgasms as well.

/80's fist pump

ETA: Walked across the street and hit The Ram for lunch -- a well-known Gen Con gamer hangout. Ate an incredible chicken sandwich (BBQ, onion straws, and cole slaw) while watching Serenity on the big screens throughout the bar. Unlike my under-21 doppleganger from 1986, this Sniderman can drink. And I did. Feelin' fine. ;) Gonna go hit The Gen Con Stink tonight before calling it a night.