Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review Of New Mutant Future Adventure "The Ruins of Woebrook"

Those who frequent my little slice of the Wastelands here are no doubt also fans and visitors to A Field Guide to Doomsday run by the ever-genial Justin Davis. Justin has populated the Mutant Future with dozens -- nay -- hundreds of creatures, and his blog has released two very well-done B-movie critter compendiums:  "Devastation Drive-In" and "Spawn of Devastation Drive-In."  This week, he compiled his notes and behind-the-scenes materials from his Don't Mess With Wrexus home campaign into a 16-page Mutant Future outing titled "The Ruins of Woebrook AKA Fane of the Frostgod." The adventure is free and available to download right darn now.

The exploratory adventure takes place in a nearly-buried ruin found deep in a fetid swamp near Hugeston. This monument to Ancient capitalism is isolated by distance and hard-to-traverse terrain...meaning it's a PERFECT lure for curious post-apocalyptic scavengers. There is no "plotline" to speak of in the adventure, but rather an opportunity to go exploring in one of the bastions of Ancient civilization: the mall. However, this is no mere abandoned hulk. The mall is inhabited by an odd assortment of crazed service bots, a sandlewood-scented arachnid, and (my favorite) a bigoted pile of algae. As the PCs move from store to store and encounter to encounter, they may discover the cult-like creatures lurking at the heart of the mall. But that's a secret I'll leave you to discover on your own. (You'll never look at breakfast pastry the same way again.)

"The Ruins of Woebrook" is a very tightly constructed piece of adventuring. I'm a huge fan of the standard fantasy RPG dungeon crawl, and Justin's taken this trope and transplanted it nicely into the Mutant Future. Some great encounters and fabulous Ancient treasures await those who can find Woebrook and escape with their lives. Sniderman says check it out!

Yo Dawg...

I made this purchase today at Hobby Lobby:

And I just had to trot out this overworked meme:

Friday, March 29, 2013

More Mutant NPCs Courtesy Of Webster's Dictionary

Back in November, I posted a method for generating NPCs using nothing more than Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition). Had an opportunity to break out the dictionary this morning for an unrelated project, so I thought I'd take this word-based NPC creator out for another spin:

Page 513: "gall midge - game fish"
For "Who," my eyes immediately fall on one word that I find perfect: "galoot." Although defined as someone "strange or foolish," I instead have the mental image of someone hulking and ponderous with minimal intelligence. So our NPC is a huge mountain of a man lacking social skills. For "Drive," I'm torn between two words, so I decided to use them both: "gambler" and "gallows." Our hulking thug runs a gambling hall in one of the border towns. Mutants can play cards or throw dice at his casino (most of the games are rigged anyhow), however, the real "action" is in the basement where true gamblers (or the very desperate) can play a very special game of "Hangman." Six mutants who feel lucky are prepped in a makeshift gallows. Each has their head in a noose and they balance precariously on a stool. Bets are taken from the audience as to who the loser will be. Once the bets are collected, a simple 6-sided die is tossed. Each face corresponds to one of the "players." If their number comes up, they are freed and asked to step to the side. At the end, when only one remains, the stool is kicked out from under him. The winning bettors double their money, and each survivor is given a sizable payout for playing. (And the House rakes in a sizable cut.) It's said that, if there are not enough volunteer players, the casino owner will go "recruit" some new players off the street. And what's his "Mutation?" I found "galvanic skin response" interesting. So, SKIN + ELECTRIC suggests energy-retaining cell structure. Anyone he touches takes 3d6 points of electrical damage, so he uses this and his thugs to keep the order in his establishment. The PCs may be tasked with shutting down his immoral -- and deadly -- gambling den.

NPC 2 and 3
Page 1393: "vibrantly - vicious"
For "Who" and "Drive," I have two very interesting word combinations leaping off the page at me. The first is "vicious vicar," which brings to mind a tyrannical Priest of the Bygones. Those who do not follow the teachings of his church are branded as heretics. His faith is unwavering, and he expects all others to blindly obey church doctrine. His followers are unquestioningly loyal, as they feel he has a direct correction with the Will of the Bygones. He may even rule the area as the ultimate voice of a theocracy. Just entering his region places the PCs in great danger (unless they are willing to convert and "spread the Word of the Bygones!") The other combination is "vicarious viceroy." The leader of the region was unwillingly thrust into his role. Let's say the governor of the area died suddenly, so his young unprepared son has ascended to the position. But he doesn't WANT to rule, so he's making plans to run away, abandoning his responsibilities. Perhaps when he realizes his mistake a year later, he'll need to PC's assistance to help put him back in power. (Although the folks who filled the vacuum in his absence will not be happy to see him return!) Since I want this NPC to be a Pure Human, the "Mutation" word will now become an "Equipment" word: "vibration." So both our evil priest or prince on the run are equipped with either a vibro-dagger or vibro-sword, depending on the needs of the Mutant Lord. So there you go -- TWO NPCs on this page!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

[Ancient Armory] Cactus Armor AKA "The Porcu-suit"

When it comes to protecting themselves, the mutants who thrive in the wastelands can be a pretty ingenious bunch. One rather frail and puny denizen who lived in an arid desert area stumbled against one of the many cactus plants that thrive there. After spending the afternoon pulling thorns out of his skin, he got the idea of covering himself with these barbed spines. And thus, the first suit of Cactus Armor was born.

Cactus Armor is simply a full body covering that has been outfitted with thousands of sharp pointed barbs. Most folks use nails, spikes, and pointed bits of scavenged metal. Others use actual thorns and spines taken from cacti and other thorny plants. Whatever is used, the base armor class of this suit of cobbled-together protection is AC 7 -- the same as a suit of leather armor. However, the wearer should be treated as if they have the spiny growth mutation. Any who come into physical contact with the suit should take 1d6 hit points of damage from the dangerous barbed outer surface.

Another benefit the suit bestows is that the spines act as a "buffer" -- spreading blunt concussive force over a larger area. If struck by a blunt weapon -- a mace, cudgel, club, or other unedged bludgeoning device -- the damage should be reduced by 2 points as the blow is spread over a larger area, thus reducing the force of the blow. However, whereas the suit lessens the damage from blunt weapons, it actually increases damage taken from edged weapons as the spines act as a "guide" for the blade. The spines offer no stopping power over swords and knives, and actually allow such a weapon to easily slip between them, guiding the blade directly to the softer material underneath. The mutant will take an extra 2 points of damage from edged weapons due to this. The spines do nothing to stop or deflect firearms, lasers, arrows, or other ranged weapons, though there are no damage increases from such attacks either.

Although the combat potential for a suit of Cactus Armor is limited, the suit is very useful for mutants exposed to dangerous wildlife in their area or those who may encounter them when they travel. A Spidergoat or Charger will think twice before attacking someone outfitted like a human pincushion!

[Thundarr Thursday] Make Your Wizards More Frightening With Space-Age Sorcery!

It's been a while since I've posted a Thundarr Thursday, but this new product from Hereticwerks is very fitting for our favorite '80s cartoon post-apocalyptic barbarian cartoon show!

The folks at Hereticwerks have released "Space-Age Sorcery," a new free-to-download sourcebook with a wild variety of futuristic magic spells perfect for any "sci fi-meets-magic" setting. More than 100 spells for both Clerics and Magic-Users fill this terrific tome. Just take a gander at some of the spell names:
  • Commune with AI
  • Extract Brain
  • Call of the Mutant
  • Animate Machinery
  • and (my favorite) Bastion's Barb-Wire Blast!
There's also a table for Dire Consequences (when magic goes horribly wrong), and some sample magic items and encounters based on the spells within. I can totally see one of Thundarr's many wizard foes like Gemini or Skullus wielding these arcane abominations! Or, if you so desire, these "spells" could be awesome individual mutations for your Mutant Future campaign! And, as mentioned, the PDF is a free download. Sniderman says, check it out!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Savage Menagerie: Crimson Cinder

No. Enc.: 0 (1d3)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: Fly: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: 1 (energy ray)
Damage: 4d6
Save: L4
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None

Found floating aimlessly around radioactive "dead zones," Crimson Cinders are thought to be the remnants of incinerated Bygones who perished during The Final Wars. Crimson Cinders appear to be a scarlet mass of drifting ashes and embers that seem to glow as if constantly burning. Occasionally, a human face can be seen in the red smoldering dust. It is unknown if a Crimson Cinder has any degree of human-like intelligence as no one has been able to communicate with the swirling masses they've encountered.

Crimson Cinders are only found in or near radioactive hot zones. (The Mutant Lord should roll 1d6+3 to determine the radiation class of the area.) Crimson Cinders have built up an immunity to all forms of radiation, taking no damage from the blistering energies. They, in fact, thrive in such an environment. A Crimson Cinder constantly emits Class 2 radiation. Any PC who comes within 10 feet of a Crimson Cinder should roll a save versus radiation. Failure means the character takes 2d6 hit points of radiation exposure damage. They will take only half-damage on a successful save. A Crimson Cinder can blast a radioactive energy ray for 4d6 hit points of damage if it hits. A Crimson Cinder only attacks if attacked first or if it is threatened or moved toward. Whether it attacks out of fear or instinct -- or even randomness -- is unknown.

Mutations: reflective epidermis (radiation), epidermal emissions (radiation), energy ray (radiation)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dangerous Encounter: The Cradle Will Fall

This encounter opens with the PCs chancing upon a remote, isolated farming community one afternoon. The village is small, but is made up of a handful of permanent structures: five residences, each with a large barn, surround a common house/meeting hall in the center of the settlement. (Picture a small Amish collective.) The village seems eerily silent, as there are no people tilling the fields, walking between buildings, or seen in windows. The town seems deserted.

Upon investigating (or while looting), the PCs will discover that the village is indeed inhabited, but the villagers are all asleep in their beds and bunks! As they move from house to house, every bed has someone in it, fast asleep. No amount of noise or shaking will wake any of the villagers. If the PCs check the entire town, they will find 17 men, boys, and girls all asleep in various bedrooms throughout the village. However, they may notice that there are no adult women present.

What the PCs have yet to determine is that the villagers are not asleep or unconscious. Rather, all of them are in a deep hypnotic trance. A small band of six Narcoleps (MF rulebook, page 85) has happened upon the village and have decided to use it as their new breeding ground.

Narcoleps (6) (AL C, MV 120' (40'), AC 7, HD 7, #AT 1 (weapon or hypnosis), DM as weapon, SV L6, ML 6, mutations: unique (hynopsis))

The Narcoleps entered the village late one night a week ago and used their hypnosis mutation while the townspeople slept, plunging them into a deep trance. Then they took the six adult women in the village to a cave system found under one of the village’s barns. (The barn was deliberately built over the cave opening so the villagers could use the caverns as a root cellar. The entrance is found under a hidden trap door.) In the caves, the Narcoleps have begun prepping the hypnotized victims to accept their implanted offspring. Once implanted in the womb, it will take 5 months of gestation to grow the child to full term. The implantation has not happened yet, but will take place within the next 48 hours.

Because the hypnotic trance only lasts 24 hours, the Narcoleps must return each night to reinforce their somnambulistic ritual. If the PCs stick around until after the sun goes down, they will see an unsettling sight. Three pale-skinned, bulbous-eyed humanoids will enter the village and walk to the steps of the meeting hall. Once there, they will start a rhythmic drone as they slowly undulate and wave their arms. Any PCs who watch the ritual will need to save versus stun attacks. Those who fail drop into a deep hypnotic sleep for 1d20+4 hours.

If the Narcoleps are stopped before they finish or if they are attacked, they will use the daggers they have sheathed in a belt holster (1d4 hit points of damage). Any who escape will retreat to the hidden caverns under the barn where they will defend their “new mothers” to the death.

If the hypnotic ritual is stopped, the villagers will start to stir and awaken in another 1d4 hours. For them, no time has passed and it’s the very next morning. If the PCs are still around (and the Narcolep threat has not been identified or stopped), there may be some confusion and anger as the townsfolks will demand to know what the PCs did with their wives and mothers while they slept!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Wisdom From The Wastelands 27 Now Out!

A new issue of Skirmisher Publishing's Wisdom From the Wastelands is now out for your Mutant Future campaigns! Here's what's available:

Issue 27 is “Metamorphosis II” and is described as follows: "Once again we bow to the wisdom of the Ancient philosophers, who recognized that the only constant in life (aside from death and taxes) was change, change, change. Metamorphosis can take very strange twists — and even have multiple stages. The six creature sets included in this issue show how very dissimilar creatures can be the same species, just young or mature forms."

This new issue is  99 cents and is available at Drive Through RPG.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Sniderman Went To Gary Con And All I Got Was This Lousy Swag Package"

EDITED TO NAME WINNER!: After 48 hours, I used a d7 to choose among the seven entries in the Comments below. The winner is "Brian!" Email coming, Brian, so stay tuned and congrats!

For those who weren't able to make it to Gary Con this year, but who would like to pretend they made it out, I have a special Gary Con swag package up for grabs. In this special package, you'll get:

  • The official Gary Con V event catalogue!
  • The official Gary Con V plastic Happy Hour cup!
  • The official Gary Con Dungeon Master badge lanyard!
  • The official Gary Con ballpoint pen!

All you gotta do to enter is Comment on this post below. Be sure to give me an email so I can reach you. (You can mangle it to avoid spambots ala "gameagain at gmail period com" or something.) I'll probably draw a winner in a few days -- whenever I feel like it. So pop in your entry early! I don't mind shipping worldwide, so folks all around this Big  Blue Marble of ours are welcome to enter. Good luck!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Gary Con Day 4: Minotaurs, TPKs, And Driving In The Dark

Well, it's a good thing I decided to leave early. Arrived home around midnight. At 4 a.m., we got sleet and freezing rain that iced up all the roads until around noon -- the time I would have been getting home. So with that bit of "patting myself on the back" out of the way, I'll wrap up my Adventures in Lake Geneva series of posts. (And "Adventures in Lake Geneva" would be a good subtitle for next year's Gary Con!)

  • Started my day with a bacon doughnut. Holy hell, was that good eats. With meat and sugar coursing through my veins, I was ready to start my final day!
  • Got up bright and early to play in my first game of Mazes and Minotaurs -- an RPG that asks "What if D&D was based on Greek mythology rather than European Medieval tropes?" I played a Priest of Hermes and our merry band of heroes were tasked by The Gods to thwart a Stygian lord terrorizing the countryside. After a stirge attack, we discovered some ancient ruins and proceeded to investigate. We encountered troglodytes and ogres, answered some riddles, and eventually found the Lord and his Stygian Hound. Once the battle ended, we reined victorious. The system runs very cleanly, and for those who grew up on Saturday afternoon "swords and sandals" epics, Hercules movies, or Jason and the Argonauts, you'll love the setting. Plus, the system and all books for it are free!
  • After my trip into Ancient Greece, it was time to visit the far-flung future with that ever-genial GM Jim Ward. Jim's adventure was a visit to his Dark Colony where we were space marines investigating why we lost contact with the folks stationed there. Most of you probably know Jim's rep for TPKs -- although, as he explains, the players usually kill each other. And that's what nearly happened here. To summarize: We opened the airlock and five of us were immediately grabbed by fungus tentacles. At the command of the PC Lieutenant, the remaining PCs fired into the mass. (I was shot three times, but somehow survived.) When the other PCs left to investigate, our brave Lieutenant sealed the ship back up, stranding the rest of us on the surface (pissing off several of us). We raced to the nearby dome for protection, just as a huge humanoid started pounding on the ship. The Lieutenant raced to join us, and...well...another player fired at him. Then ANOTHER player fired at THAT player for firing at the Lieutenant. Then a Mexican standoff ensued. Then a giant robot showed up to kill us, just as the Lieutenant ran off with another player chasing him and firing at him while the Lieutenant was dropping C-20 explosive charges behind himself. Yeah, it was THAT kind of Jim Ward game. At 10 minutes until the end of the game, it was just me and another player still alive. Was I actually gonna live through a Jim Ward game? Opened a door and was immediately engulfed by deadly red fungus. Nope, I died. The remaining player turned around to see another killer robot behind him. Game over, man!
  • By that time, it was 3 p.m., so I packed my stuff, said goodbyes to everyone, and hit the road back to Ohio.

And this is "not Gary Con related," but gives you some idea of how the rest of my return trip home went:

  • During Jim's game, my left eye was a bit itchy. Rubbed it once or twice, and it was watering pretty good. "Lack of sleep," I thought. On the road back, my eye swelled shut and began producing a yellow gunk. I didn't know what was going on, but I drove for 6 hours at night with one eye screwed shut.
  • Upon arriving home at midnight, I snuck in as quietly as I could so as not to awaken my wife who had to go to work in the morning. Our new puppy however went on full STRANGER IN THE HOUSE WHOOP WHOOP mode. After getting her quieted down and after she saw who it was, she shifted into full IT'S DADDY I'VE MISSED YOU SO MUCH BOING WHEEEE mode. My wife was ready to kill both of us.
  • Went to see the doctor in the morning and found out I had scratched my cornea. So now I have burning drops of "medicinal suck" to put into it for the next week.
So that's it for another year. Sadly, I probably will not attend Gary Con VI as that will be my 20th wedding anniversary. If I wish to see a 21st anniversary, I had better do something glorious for Mrs. Sniderman next year. So thanks for a great time Gary Con Staff, and I hope everyone who was on the other side of my screen had a great time too!

Behold the glory that is the Bacon-Topped Chocolate Doughnut.

And I'll wrap this year with a photo of the Table of Honor. You're missed, Gary.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gary Con Day 3.5: The Weather Started Getting Rough...

Hey gang,

Just got word that the weather in my area is supposed to get crummy overnight, so rather than stay here at the Con an extra night, I'll be leaving immediately after I game with Jim Ward at noon in hopes of getting to my house in Ohio before whatever hits. So my Day 4 update and wrap-up will probably go up tomorrow morning as I have a 7-hour drive tonight starting around 4 p.m. Thanks to all who have followed me during this year's Gary Con adventures!

~ Your Friendly Neighborhood Sniderman

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Gary Con Day 3: Library Warlords and Drenched Mutants

Today was going to be my busiest day "GM-wise" as I was running two back-to-back Mutant Future adventures, one of them being the ever-popular Thundarr game. Here are the highlights of the day's events as well as anything else that strikes my fancy to talk about...

  • Got up bright and early so I could run six players through my new Thundarr adventure, "Warlord of the Sacred Library" at 8 a.m. To start this Saturday morning off right, I provided a healthy breakfast of Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios (in breakfast bar form). Once we were appropriately sugared up, the game began! I won't summarize the plot of the game (you can download the adventure for that), but here are some highlights: Ookla -- having been shot three consecutive times by the same robot centurion -- got frustrated enough that he picked up a nearby Yugo and pounded the robot into the ground like a tent peg. The party spent 10 minutes devising a plan to sneak into the villain's lair in disguise, only to have it suddenly end when Thundarr shouted "I TIRE OF THIS MASQUERADE!" as he ripped off his costume and began Sun Swording every robot in sight. Ariel cast a spell that caused Ookla to duplicate into 4 separate Moks, who then proceeded to overpower and defeat The Big Bad Guy. And the wizard behind the shenanigans teleported away to torment the players at a future con! Once again, a great Thundarr game with a great group of players! Demon dogs, it was epic!
  • Immediately after Thundarr, I ran my Mutant Future module "Dead in the Water." The players managed to fight off the Drenched hordes before they could overpower their little fishing village. There was just enough tension to keep things interesting, but at the end, they managed to discover what was behind the reanimated dead and stop the Sea Wraith just in time. ("Narlins Saints." Heh, I never tire of that joke.) This was the last playtest to work out the bugs before this adventure is released in about a month or two.
  • Was to play in Mike Curtis' DCC game right after that, but I stopped by his table to bow out due to being pretty burned out. He had not arrived yet, so I left my ticket for someone waiting to get in. Ran into Michael later that evening and he explained the car he was in broke down in town and he got back a few hours after his game was scheduled to begin. Argh, that must've sucked.
  • Sat in on the annual Gary Con auction. This year, all proceeds went to help out Ernie Gygax who lost everything in a recent fire. There were a LOT of rare one-of-a-kind items and collectibles up that went for hundreds upon hundreds of dollars each. Too rich for my blood, but fun to see these items and what they went for.
  • Would like to stop by and play in The Tower of Gygax tonight, but I'm afraid I'm just too pooped at this point. It's being run tomorrow, so maybe I'll try then. Here are a few unposted pictures I found lurking in my camera:

There are still notices for pick-up games being pinned all around the lodge. If you can't find something to play in 24/7 at Gary Con, you're doing it wrong.

The infamous Gary Con Jousting table during one of the quiet moments.

Was able to hit the Dealer's Hall for a few sought after goodies. And at one booth, I instantly won an extra $20 credit good for any item they had! 

And look what I bought with that $20 credit. I didn't even know it was out yet, and I end up picking it up at Gary Con. Look for a review very soon!

"Thundarr the Barbarian: Warlord of the Sacred Library" Now Available For Download!

Now that my Gary Con Thundarr game has ended, it's safe for me to post the adventure my players just ran through. Click the cover below to download "Thundarr the Barbarian: Warlord of the Sacred Library" for you own home games!

A few notes:
  • I used  pre-gens for Thundarr, Ookla, and Ariel, but they're not included with this download. You can get them with my previous Thundarr adventure "Across the Dimensional Divide." You'll need to make two copies of each. (You'll see why when you read the text.) Encourage the players to play the characters straight as it really helps make the game a success.
  • The adventure is hardly a polished effort, as it's my rough notes for use during a con game. So please excuse spelling errors, formatting issues, and general unattractiveness. Originally, it was just for my eyes only.
  • The script should be easy enough to follow, but it is a 3-4 hour "railroad" convention one-shot. There's not much "depth" to it. Point A to Point B to Point C to Big Bad Boss Fight at the end.
  • I played the opening credits on a tablet for the players as we started. And when we were done, I played the end credits. (Not to mention the 80s commercials for cereal and toys!) This really helped the atmosphere and set the mood.
  • Be sure to play it like the cartoon. Play up the voices and the exaggerated action sequences. If your players want to do it, let it happen! Cartoon action, my friends!
  • If you'd like to run your home PCs through the adventure, you should be able to "ramp up" the encounters and the lethality of both Drakexx and Zardon. However, this game takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where magic exists. If magic doesn't exist in your campaign, have Zardon's magic be the result of "Ancient holographic technology in the wrong hands."
  • If you want more Thundarr excitement for your Mutant Future games, don't forget to download the always-free Thundarr sourcebook over there in the right-hand column!
Oh, and a little something else today's Thundarr players walked away. I had these con-only exclusives printed and created specifically as giveaways at events like this:
And before anyone asks, no there are no extras or spares, and they are not for sale. Want one? Play Thundarr with me at a convention! Lords of Light, it will be grand!

Gary Con Day 2: Riding Skylab To Earth And Punching A Princess

Today's update is a bit short and pictureless. But here's what went on in case you were curious:

  • Ran my Timemaster game "The Day the Sky Fell" earlier in the day. Was a bit worried about how it'd go because it was a fairly complicated plotline. The Time Corps cadets learn that Topeka, Kansas, has been obliterated causing a Significance Wave -- a destructive force of sweeping historical changes. The cadets ended up at the Foreign Technology Division, the forerunner of today's National Air Intelligence Center and the former HQ of Project Blue Book. (Their chronoscooters materialized in Hanger 18, in fact.) After some investigation and a firefight with undercover Damoreans, they realize that Skylab is still in orbit days after history shows it should have reentered the atmosphere. After a time jump 72 hours earlier to the orbiting space station (now outfitted with a plasma cannon) and a zero-g fight with an alien infestation, the PCs got out of there just in time to watch the station reenter the atmosphere and burn up, setting the continuum straight. Fun stuff!
  • Poked around the Dealer's Hall which seems twice as big as last year's. Or perhaps there's just more vendors in there. Regardless, it was great to do a bit of shoppin' amongst my gamin'.
  • Was scheduled to play Dungeon with the game's designer David Megarry. When I got there, it appeared there were 16 people crammed around one table with another 6 or 7 of us jockeying for other positions. We all had tickets, so it appeared the event just got overbooked. I decided to bow out rather than try to force my way in to an already crowded gaming area.
  • Room. Nap. Ahhhh. Recharged.
  • Played in James Carpio's Horrors of Hod, based on his upcoming Tales of the Fallen Empire setting for the DCC RPG system. Very eerie, Howard-esque fantasy setting with lots of evocative imagery. (Imagine a fantasy land that's been ripped apart and reassembled...twice. And your people now live amongst the ruins of What Once Was.) We had a great time trying to rescue a mouthy princess. True to Real Life, I played the hulking barbarian. After chasing Her Royal Pain across the lands, we finally tracked her to the lair of an ancient plant-like evil that was abducting the citizens and converting them into mindless minions. I took a spear-like vine to the chest, which began to grow and fester. We fought on and we found where she was being held. She started demanding that we let her loose and her father was going to hear all about this and she was tired and hungry and thirsty...until my barbarian hauled off and punched her square in the face, knocking her cold. We returned her in blessed silence. ;)
  • Back in the room for a pizza and bed. Tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., Saturday morning 'toons live again with Gary Con's inaugural Thundarr the Barbarian game! Lots of fun coming up in 9 hours!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Gary Con's "Arbor Day" for Chill and "The Day The Sky Fell" for Timemaster Now Available

It's not Mutant Future-related, but I wanted to share the two adventures I've run over the past two days here at Gary Con. Thought there may be fans of the original Pacesetter First Edition Chill RPG who could use a new adventure for their SAVE Envoys. Also here is my adventure for the Timemaster RPG which, as you're no doubt aware, is now owned by, carried, and supported by Goblinoid Games! So here you go -- click the covers to download 'em from Google Drive:

Horrific axe murders committed in Oregon's Tillamook State Forest are identical to those committed by the legendary "Paul Bunyon Killer" 40 years earlier. However, the original murderer -- now elderly and feeble -- remains behind bars. Has a copycat killer surfaced, or is this the work of the Unknown?

It's 1979 and Topeka, Kansas, has been burned off the face of the Earth. Surviving victims claim they saw the Sun itself cut a path of destruction through the city, killing tens of thousands. Tensions between the U.S. and USSR have never been higher, and World War III is imminent unless Time Corps agents can determine what happened and stop it before it ever occurred!

(And for who need a Mutant Future adventure to run, stay tuned! There may be some Lords of Light and Demon Dogs on this blog soon! Ahhhhhhhhhhh-heee!)

Gary Con Day 1: Table Service, Forgotten Wraiths, And My Suicide Nat 20

Wha..? (sniff) What time is it? (Glance at clock) Oh, geez...

Good morning folks. Sorry for the lateness of this post. I usually try to have these "Live From *** Con" posts up on the same day of the event, but it was a very late night for me and I just woke up. Gotta make this fast, as my first event is in an hour and a half.
  • Met up with Jeff Sparks of Faster Monkey Games for breakfast and to drop off materials for the Goblinoid Games Booth. General BS'ing occurred as we discussed pancakes, international travel, our respective spouses, and the Evil That Is 40 Gig PDFs. We ran into Jim Wampler of Marvin the Mage fame who is also the Art Director for the recently launched Gygax Magazine. Got a button from him!
  • Played in Jeff's Mutant Future game. This was, as I recall, my first time as a MutFut player at a con, and it was great to have him running us through the mutie-half of his Realm of the Technomancer. PRO TIP: If you find a human head suspended by wires with LEDs blinking in the eye sockets, do NOT play "pinata" with it.
  • As a fan of Pacesetter's Action Table system, I went old school with the afternoon game I ran -- Chill, 1st edition. In this horror adventure, SAVE envoys were dispatched to Oregon to investigate a series of murders that were very similar to a string of killings 40 years earlier. The excitement started when, while interrogating the original killer (now in his 70s and having been in prison for 40 years), he admitted there was a seventh forgotten victim that no one ever found out about. Then the guard who was in the room with the prisoner and the PCs another guard in the room as well as the prisoner before flashing a rictus grin and disappearing. THAT was hard for the PCs to explain. They eventually followed the clues, fought some possessed timberwolves and "Muffit", before finding the unmarked grave and putting the spirit to rest.
  • Meanwhile, at the table next to mine, Stephen Sullivan -- one of the founders of Pacesetter and co-author of their systems -- listened in to my game and had some every nice things to say about it. (Thanks Stephen!) We discussed Timemaster as well, and he then signed my Mutant Future rulebook which has become my de facto autograph book for conventions.
  • Last year, I remarked how neat it was that the Gary Con staff visited each game in progress and brought the DMs drinks and snacks as part of a "Gamemaster Concierge benefit." They kept that up this year as well. But new this year? The lodge's restaurant waitstaff visited tables and took food orders, which were then delivered to the gaming tables! As someone who just gamed for 13 straight hours, it was GREAT to get a sandwich brought to me mid-game without having to stop. It beat the cheese-crackers in my backpack! I'm fine with a player munching on a burger while we play, so this was an awesome addition to the already-great service!
  • At 8 p.m., I joined Michael Curtis for his Dungeon Crawl Classics game "In The Court of Chaos." This was a playtest run of a game he's working on, so I'll stay coy about the details. I was an elf forester who couldn't make a decent roll to save his life. In fact, EVERYONE at the table was tossing the crunmmiest series of dice throws I've ever seen at the table. Spell misfires that hit party members, failed saving throws, more naturals "1s" than you can shake a stick at. And the fumbles, oh those damnable fumbles. We somehow barely made it to the endgame where we met our doppleganger doubles. they had all of our powers and all of our abilities. The difference? Their dice rolls didn't suck. They were protecting The Magical MacGuffin on a walkway-accessible platform over a bottomless pit. The battle raged on and we lost 4 party members, taking the dopplegangers down to one guy remaining. The MacGuffin had been grabbed, dropped, kicked, and fumbled, and it now wobbled dangerous near the edge of the walkway. Hit points were low, it was my round, and the egg lay between me and the doppleganger. "It's just him?" "Yup, he's all that's left." I turned to the remaining party members. "Make this count." I turned to Michael. "I bumrush him, grab him around the waist, and we BOTH go over the edge of the walkway and into the abyss." Everyone gasped at my suicidal plan. I rolled...and got the first nat 20 of the entire game. We both went screaming over the edge to our deaths, the MacGuffin was retrieved, and I was bestowed with dual "DCC Winner" and "DCC Kill" ribbons for the play.
  • By the time that game ended, it was 1 a.m. Came back to the room and crashed as I was playing for nearly 13 hours straight. Nice to know I can still dice-sling with the younger folks, but Christ am I sore. Wrapping up this hurried post with a few pictures. Gotta go prep for today's Timemaster game. 'Later!

Ah, Wisconsin in March. Just look at all that warmth. (I'm from Ohio, so this is usual March weather for me anyway.)

The registration table was at full swing that morning as folks lined up to get in.

Miniature games underway.

And the gaming hall (one of 5 or 6) was in full swing.

Some of this year's Gary Con swag!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gary Con Day 0: Driving Here, Paying Tolls, And BEEP BEEP BEEP

Well, here I am at -- what did Michael call it? Oh yes -- "The Gaming Motherland." That's as good a nickname as any for Lake Geneva amongst us gamers. It's about 3 p.m. and I'm unpacked and unwound after a 7+ hour road trip. 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. Since the con really hasn't gotten underway yet, most of today's content is about the trip here and initial reactions (although there is a pre-con gathering at 5 p.m. I'm planning on attending). Here we go:

  • About 5 miles into a 450-mile road trip is a helluva time to discover your cruise control is on the fritz. My freakin' foot is killing me. (Heel spur in formation.)
  • According to the disembodied GPS voice, Toledo is pronounced "Toll-dah."
  • I passed the RV/Mobile Home Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN, on the way here. If I had extra time, I'd totally stop by to see what that's all about.
  • From the interstate, I saw a 3-story-tall piece of graffiti on the side of an abandoned building. It simply said "D30." Wished I had thought to try to grab a picture.
  • I forgot all about the friggin' tollroads again this year. From Mansfield, Ohio, to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, I paid exactly $22.60 in tolls! Holy hell, I gotta find another route home.
  • Speaking of taking another route, the two things that really frighten me IRL are heights and driving in big-city traffic. So taking the Chicago Skyway into the city just as the lunchtime rush hour hit gave me 11 separate heart attacks within a 20-minute period.
  • When I BEEP got to my BEEP room at the Lodge, BEEP I discovered the BEEP fire alarm battery BEEP was nearly dead. BEEP Took maintenance BEEP about an hour BEEP to get a BEEP replacement put in BEEP so I wasn't BEEP able to grab BEEP a nap before BEEP heading out tonight. (Taking the battery out wasn't a solution either. BEEP)
  • Went to the lodge bar to have m'self a Spotted Cow (the official beer of Gary Con) and I ran into Michael Curtis, he of The Dungeon Alphabet, Stonehell Dungeon, an adventure or two for Dungeon Crawl Classics, and other gaming works. He and I sat around and talked of All Things Gaming, including Things Yet To Come. (Ooh! Spoilers!) I also harangued him yet again for his act of cowardice a year ago, until he reminded me I was already dead by the time he screwed over everyone and that I had no reason to be annoyed about it. Huh, he's right.
  • The pre-con Gathering is taking place in the bar. Stopped by for free food and free beer (more Spotted cow!). I ask you, how many other conventions put on a free spread for the attendees?
And here are a few environmental shots while all is quiet:

Registration seems quiet...for now.

I love the Gary Con banner over the registration desk.
In one of the hallways, they mounted posters with the illustrations that marked each previous Gary Con. This lizard man was the icon for Gary Con I.

This stoic knight represented Gary Con II.

The wizard was the icon for Gary Con III, but he's become so prevalent that he could be considered the "official" icon.

 The red dragon battle scene represented Gary Con IV.

And this year's iconic imagery is a fight against a purple worm. Here's the Gary Con V icon!

Hittin' That "Holiday Road" To Gary Con

As this post goes live (4:30 a.m. EST), I'm in the Wagon Queen Family Truckster heading to Wisconsin and Gary Con. This is my favorite convention by far, and I've packed up the computer and camera for plenty of daily updates and pix. Stay tuned to The Savage AfterWorld for live coverage from sunny Lake Geneva, where this hobby got started!

And, as is tradition in the Sniderman household, all road trips begin with this song blaring from the CD player. It's a tradition, and one that you'll now share. As you listen to this, I will too as I hit the Holiday Road to Gary Con!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wisdom From The Wastelands 26 Now Out!

A new issue of Skirmisher Publishing's Wisdom From the Wastelands is now out for your Mutant Future campaigns! Here's what's available:

Issue 26 is “Energy Weapons” and is described as follows: "The latest installment in our popular series on leading edge military technology and combat rules, this issue brings five deadly weapon systems and several new combat “conditions” to your gaming table. As a warning, Mutant Lords should use this equipment with care — some of these systems are extremely powerful. Even those weapons that do not appear lethal can devastate specific target types (like robotic units); other items have debilitating temporary effects."

This new issue is  99 cents and is available at Drive Through RPG.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dangerous Encounter: The Valley That Time Forgot

The PCs are tasked by a warlord to find and bring back a mutant who took something of value from him. This item can be anything the Mutant Lord wishes or something that is important to an ongoing Mutant Future campaign: a rare Bygone artifact; a valuable bauble or some kind; etc. The PCs are told that the mutant fled into a forbidden valley where "primitive men live and monstrous lizards feed on intruders." The valley is easily located as most Mutant Future survivors have heard the legends. But the valley is avoided as the creatures within are feared by those who have seen them.

When the PCs arrive at the valley, it should be presented as a true "lost world," where dinosaurs roam the lands unfettered. While the PCs follow the trail of their quarry, the Mutant Lord could have them encounter a hungry dinosaur or two. (See the notes at the end of this entry for suggestions and stats for some of the dinosaurs they could meet.) The trail should eventually lead to a small tribe of prehistoric Homo Erectus (MF rulebook, page 76) living peacefully in a cave network set into the steep granite walls of the valley floor. There are 14 of these "cavemen" in the tribe. They regard the visitors warily and curiously, but will make no aggressive moves toward the party. They cannot speak, so communicating with the tribesmen could be problematic.

Homo Erectus (14) (AL N, MV 120' (40'), AC 8, HD 6, #AT 1 (weapon), DM 2d4 or weapon, SV L2, ML 7, mutations: ancestral form (latent))

The PCs should feel free to explore the area looking for the mutant they were sent to find. They'll never find him though, as he's now one of them. For you see, the tribesmen are indirectly responsible for the prehistoric creatures that reside in the valley.

Each member of the tribe has the mutation ancestral form, which is triggered when one of the Homo Erectus people feels threatened, frightened, or angry. (They are too primitive to use their abilities deliberately.) When agitated, the tribesmate lashes out mentally toward its attacker. On a successful mental attack, the ancestral form mutation will "devolve" the target, permanently removing one of the target's mutations. Also, the mutation has a 20% chance of devolving the target to a previous evolutionary stage of its existence, so men would become Homo Erectus or Neanderthals, and so on. Every dinosaur that now roams the valley was originally a Mutant Future creature that a tribesman inadvertently devolved to its present state.

The mutant the PCs are now looking for originally found the tribe, threatened the village chieftain  and found himself turned into a mindless caveman. He now works and toils wordlessly and mindlessly. The PCs may be able to piece together what happened when they find the device/bauble they were sent to retrieve in one of the caves guarded by a caveman dressed in the clothes of their quarry. They may see some resemblance in the face of the devolved primitive. (Or they may think the caveman in question killed the mutant and took his clothes.) Regardless, if the PCs begin to threaten the tribe, they could find themselves drained of their mutational abilities, or worse, devolved into the newest residents of the valley.

NOTE FOR THE MUTANT LORD: The Labyrinth Lord rulebook (which is fully compatible with Mutant Future) has many prehistoric creatures in Section 6: Monsters. For your convenience, the stats for some of the more "classic" dinosaurs is presented here, followed by the Labyrinth Lord page number where the entry can be found:

  • Sabre-Toothed Tiger (1d4 (1d4), AL N, MV 150' (50'), AC 6, HD 8, #AT 3 (2 claws, bite), DM 1d8/1d8/2d8, SV L4, ML 10, LL rulebook pg. 67)
  • Mastodon (0 (2d8), AL N, MV 120' (40'), AC 3, HD 15, #AT 2 tusks or trample, DM 2d6/2d6 or 4d8, SV L8, ML 8, LL rulebook pg. 86)
  • Pterodactyl (0 (2d4), AL N, MV Fly: 180' (60'), AC 7, HD 1, #AT 1 (bite), DM 1d3, SV L1, ML 7, LL rulebook pg. 92)
  • Tricerotops (0 (1d4), AL N, MV 90' (30'), AC 2, HD 11, #AT 1 (gore or trample), DM 3d6 or 4d8, SV L6, ML 8, LL rulebook pg. 99)
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex (0 (1), AL N, MV 120' (40'), AC 3, HD 20, #AT 1 (bite), DM 6d6, SV L10, ML 11, LL rulebook pg. 100)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Gary Con Starts In One Week (For Me, Anyway)

A week from today, I'll be on the road to Gary Con V. Although the con starts on Thursday, March 14, I always like to arrive a day ahead of schedule -- just to make sure that I have time to unpack, prep my games, get a layout of where I'll be. Also, I'm driving from Ohio to Wisconsin, so the weather could very well be a factor. Last year, it was 60s and clear. This year, there could be 8 inches of snow on the ground for the entire 7 hour drive. Gotta get an early start just in case.

  • This year, I'm suffering from a bad case of "Oh, that would be so much COOLER!" with regards to my already-written-and-packed-away games. Both my Chill and Timemaster games are undergoing last-minutes rewrites to encompass new plot twists and challenges for the players. Hope the effort pans out and they get a kick out of what's in store.
  • Looking forward to my Mutant Future game "Dead in the Water." I ran an abridged version at Gen Con 2011 and it went very well. This year's runthrough will be the last playtest before I prep it for release as a new Savage AfterWorld Mutant Future supplement this summer.
  • I'm really looking for ward to my Thundarr the Barbarian "Warlord of the Sacred Library"game. The storyline is right out of an 80's Saturday morning action cartoon. With the right group of players, these Thundarr games are unbridled fun. (And I have a very, VERY special piece of swag for each player.) If I'm still energized, I may run my other Thundarr game on Sunday -- "Across the Dimensional Divide" that I ran with much fanfare at Gen Con last year. "Demon dogs!"
  • This year, I'm acting as a bit of a packmule for Goblinoid Games to get Dan's stuff to the vendor halls where his table will be manned by the folks from Faster Monkey Games, who will also have a table in the hall. Gonna be packed with every Goblinoid and Pacesetter Game available, plus you will also be able to grab copies of Barrowmaze, Barrowmaze II, and my own Deviant Database at the table!
  • As you can see from my earlier-posted Gary Con Pictorial Schedule, I'll be playing quite a bit of Dungeon Crawl Classics. It's become my newest "gonzo Appendix N fantasy" obsession. Looking forward to spending each evening deep in the underdark.
  • And, as before, I plan to post a daily live-from-Gary Con report each day I'm there. So be sure to stay tuned next week for news, updates, photos, coverage, and tales of adventure!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fishwife Games Has Your Apocalyptic RPG Needs Covered

Thanks to a post by Needles over at Swords & Stitchery, I'm now aware of Fishwife Games and the multitude of system-general RPG supplements they've cranked out. Most of their offerings are just a page or two for a buck or two, so they're certainly affordable. But the sheer number of supplements is staggering. (I stopped counting at 100+ different items.) Fantasy, sci fi, modern, horror, and -- of course -- post-apocalyptic are all covered amongst their stuff. (Including several ambient music soundtracks they've apparently produced.)

I'm not going to try to summarize each post-apocalyptic RPG item they have, but here is a list of titles I saw that peaked my interest:
  • 100 Vehicles to recover in the Savage Wastes, Set 1
  • 100 Individuals to Run into in the Post-Apocalypse, Sets 1 and 2
  • Post-Apocalyptic Town: Blessing
  • Post-Apocalyptic Town: Scrapper's Bridge
  • 100 Places to Stumble Upon in the Post-Apocalypse Age
  • 100 Things to Discover and Take in a Near Future Wasteland
  • 100 More Things to Discover and Take in a Near Future Wasteland
  • 100 Odd Items to Loot Off of Bodies in a Post-Apocalyptic Setting
Rather than offering a link and a price for each item, I'll just let you know that you can find their stuff on RPG Now and Drive Through RPG. Fishwife Games also has a Facebook page you can visit for announcements of upcoming new releases.