Thursday, April 24, 2014

[Villains & Vigilantes] Puzzler Leaps Into Action Once Again!

As described in an earlier post, Puzzler has been my favorite go-to NPC for nearly every superhero RPG I've ever played for nearly 30 years. As a chaotic nuisance villain, he was always great fun to drop into a campaign to see how my PCs would handle the antics of this Ambush Bug / Deadpool "mentally cracked anti-hero." I described Puzzler's past exploits in the previous post, but presented here are his original V&V stats as best as I can remember. So here you go. Use him as a either a chaotic superhero in town to "help" your PCs with the newest threat. Or take him back to his early days as a pain-in-the-neck thief out for sh*ts-n-giggles at the player's expense. Enjoy!

Identity: Puzzler
Name: Wayne Matthews
Side: Good
Level: 8
Experience: 35,001
Sex: Male
Age: 39
Training: Agility

Heightened Agility A: +11 to Agility score
Heightened Intelligence A: +14 to Intelligence score
Device -- Armor B: Puzzler's costume is woven of a special impervious fabric of his own devising. The material is flameproof, bulletproof, and has a 93 Armor Defense Rating. The costume's question mark belt buckle also doubles as a grappling hook with 100 feet of retractable high-tensile cord.
Device -- "The Pencil": The Pencil is principally a hologram-projector that can project a wide range of illusions that have been pre-programmed into it. It has the following abilities:
    Psionic Illusions -- Puzzler can fire a hypnotic crossword pattern at a target which envelops them. Overwhelmed by the cascading black and white squares, the target will be "hypnotized" into inaction. They are allowed a saving throw versus INT to "snap out" of the trance.
    Visual/Audible Illusions -- Puzzler can project a realistic 3D image that looks and sounds real. Due to the sizable number of preprogrammed images, anything Puzzler wishes to project should be considered available.
    Power Blast -- Puzzler can fire all of the power within The Pencil in one massive blast. This attack drains The Pencil and does 2d20 damage to the target. The Pencil must be recharged for 24 hours after this attack (used as a last resort).
     HTH Weapon -- The Pencil is incredibly sturdy and has been used as a clubbing weapon, a thrown spear-like weapon, a polearm, a quarterstaff, etc. Puzzler has trained extensively on how to use The Pencil as a hand-to-hand weapon, and can fight and defend himself quite readily with it.
Mental Immunity: Due to Puzzler's chaotic grasp on reality, he is immune to most forms of mental attack including mind control, psionics, weakness detection, etc. If a mental link with Puzzler is attempted, such as mind reading and telepathy, the mentalist will be overloaded by the imagery and will be stunned for 3 rounds.
Weakness: Low Self-Control: Puzzler will do and say anything that pops into his head at any given moment. He has to focus to keep from making an ill-timed joke or silly comment, even during times of combat or those requiring silence or stealth. Any time a situation calls for self-control and mental focus, the GM should roll a d6. On a 1 or 2, Puzzler will instead do the most outlandish thing he can think of in that moment.

Weight: 210     Basic Hits:  5    Agility Mod: --
Strength: 13     Endurance: 16
Agility: 28     Intelligence: 31
Charisma: 19     Reactions from Good: +3 Evil: -3

Hit Mod: (1.2) (1.8) (1.7) (2.8) = 4.23
Hit Points: 22  
Damage Modifier: +5     Healing Rate: 2
Accuracy Modifier: +5     Power: 88

Carrying Capacity: 398 lbs.     Base HTH Damage: 1d8
Movement Rate: 57
Detect Hidden: 22%     Detect Danger: 26%
Invention Points: 12.8    Inventing %: 93%

Origin and Background: As a child, Wayne Matthews developed a split personality, one that used jokes and chaos to shield himself from an abusive family. As he grew, Matthews became a brilliant scientist and inventor working in the fields of optics and hologram technology. Later, as an adult, Matthews was attacked by thugs, and his split personality returned with a vengeance. After trouncing the roughs, Matthews spied a newspaper crossword puzzle blowing through the alley and, taking the moniker "Puzzler," began a life of chaotic thievery and general public mischief. He later "made peace" with his dual nature, and Puzzler offered to fight crime to make amends for past misdeeds. Puzzler has been a member of the Northcoast Guardians as well as the national superteam known as Vanguard. Always the entertainer, Puzzler now enjoys the public accolades he gets from the public,though his teammates often have difficulty keeping him focused on the task at hand. Matthews is also a brilliant inventor, creating many gadgets and devices for the teammates of any group he's associated with.

Legal Status: Reformed criminal; now works in conjunction with gov't-recognized crime-fighting teams.
Security Clearance: Level 11 (though always monitored while in a secure area just to be safe)

Friday, April 18, 2014

[Cryptworld] New Thing: Tarantulord

A Giant Arachnid Thing for Cryptworld


STR: 6 (90) --- WPR: 3 (45)
AGL: 6 (90) --- PCN: 6 (90)
STA: 5 (75) --- PWR: 90
ATT: 2/90% --- WND: 15
MV: L 200 (100 if on a vertical surface)

Experience: 800

A Tarantulord is a mutated gargantuan arachnid. A Tarantulord is about the size of a horse, standing nearly 6 feet tall with a leg-span of  10 feet, and weighing about 1,000 pounds. Tarantulords can be nearly any species of arachnids, as monstrous trapdoor spiders, black widows, brown recluses, and -- yes -- tarantulas are all rumored to exist. (CMs choice as to the type of spider.) It is unknown if the Tarantulord is a mutant, otherworldly creature, or naturally spawned aberration.

A Tarantulord usually makes its lair in an isolated darkened area such as a cave, cavern, or overgrown forested region. Tarantulords that have infested urban areas, however, can lurk in old dilapidated structures such as barns, abandoned houses, and sewers. A Tarantulord's burrow can be identified by the thin, dry cobwebs that coat the floors and ceiling. The cocooned remains of previous victims will be seen hanging from the ceiling of the den (although there is a 10% chance that one of the cocoons has a still-living future meal).

A Tarantulord is incredibly fast and agile considering its size, scuttling on its eight legs much faster than a human can run. It can scramble up sheer surfaces like walls and ceilings at half its movement rate. A Tarantulord is smarter than a common spider though, as it has developed a rudimentary animalistic intelligence (rather than running on sheer instinct alone). 

Tarantulord Powers

Summon Arachnids: Whether through an ultrasonic call, pheromones, or other summoning mechanism, the Tarantulord can summon all spiders in a 100-foot radius to hurry to its aid at a cost of 10 WPR. A swarm of crawling, biting arachnids will seem to pour from every nook and cranny, scurrying over the hapless PCs. Although the damage caused by the biting insects is minimal (1d10 Stamina loss), the effect can be unnerving, causing the PCs to lose initiative and giving the Tarantulord a chance to escape -- or attack unimpeded!

Throw Webbing: The Tarantulord can send a blast of webbing from its spinnerets into the air to drift down over a 10-foot radius area. (Treat as ranged attack at a cost of 10 WPR.) Anyone hit by the webbing will become hopelessly entangled in the sticky netting. The webs take 4 rounds to cut through with a knife or blade, or 2 rounds to burn through with any fire source the victim may have.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My NTRPG Con Schedule (In Pictoral Form)



Friday, April 11, 2014

A Look At Personal POD -- When PDFs Just Won't Do

As much as I love the convenience of having all of my gaming rulebooks uploaded onto my tablet, there's something about picking up and thumbing through an actual print book that gets my imagination running. I like the feel of the pages, and I like flipping back and forth as I look for some forgotten rule or minutiae. But sometimes those books just don't exist anymore -- if they ever did at all. One service that a savvy -- and, let's face it, honest -- gamer can use to create these tomes is through the use of a one-off, personal-use-only, print-on-demand service.

NOTE: Before I launch into this post, let me address the fact that I realize that POD services can be used and abused by the unscrupulous. This post wasn't written to open up yet another debate of author/publisher rights and literacy piracy and what-not. This post is to give you some creative ideas on ways to use this one-off personal print/bind service. Also, each project shown here was created using either purchased-for PDFs printed for personal use only; PDFs made freely available by the authors and, again, printed for personal use only; and hardcopy materials I personally possess that I scanned and printed for yadda yadda yadda. You get the idea. Everything done here was on the up-and-up to the best of my knowledge and ability. With that said...

A rulebook bibliophile can use a personal POD service for any number of reasons:

  • To get a print copy of a book that might be otherwise unavailable or long out of print.
  • To compile loose materials into one comprehensive tome.
  • To replace a well-read and loved book that's falling apart with a new copy that will hold up over the years.
  • To create and bind a personal project far better than can be done at home. 
  • To have a hardcover version made of a book you possess in flimsy softcover.

For example, here are some uses I've found for the personal one-off print run:
I've been hunting for copies of the Rules Cyclopedia and Creature Catalog for years, but every copy I've stumbled across has been in shabby shape and/or has been priced far into the stratosphere. So, I purchased the PDFs from D&D Classics and had them printed and bound. Cost me about $50 for the PDFs, printing, and shipping, but I now have two brand-new copies of these erstwhile tomes on my bookshelf to use. (And because of PDF watermarking to combat piracy, each and every page of both books has my name on them. Odds of them ending up in someone else's hands? "Nil.")

One of my favorite modern roleplaying games is Fiasco. Over time, I had amassed a sizable collection of freely-available and distributed "playsets" for the game that were getting rather mangled in the folder I kept my printouts in. So, to keep everything organized, I compiled the various playset files into one large electronic document. I then created a cover for the playsets that emulated the look and feel of the original Fiasco rules. Printed and bound, now I have a massive volume to bring to the table when we sit to play. (Even the art and fonts I used on the cover were free-use public domain materials.) The Fiasco community reacted rather positively to this project, including one of the game's authors.

I'm quite fond of the Pacesetter Action Table System -- have been for years. The new hardback volumes of Timemaster, Majus, Rotworld, and Cryptworld hold a place of honor on my gaming shelf. However, my Chill boxed set didn't quite fit amongst the hardbacks, and finding the Star Ace boxed set is impossible. So, again, I purchased the Star Ace PDF from Drive Through RPG (watermarked and everything), then set the file up for a one-off hardcopy book. The Chill  project was a bit more involved. There are no legal-to-puraches PDFs available, so I meticulously scanned my boxed set's manuals page-by-page over the course of a week or two. I used the box lid and bottom for the front/back covers, assembled and formatted the files, then had a one-off hardcopy of it printed as well. This may well be the only "full" hardcover collection of the entire Pacesetter RPG line in existence.

As long as you stay within acceptable rights for "personal use only" and use materials you legally purchased and/or possess, using a one-off, personal-use-only, print-on-demand service beats an inkjet printer and three-ring binder every time.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hang Your Gaming Convention ID On A Gaming Convention Lanyard

Tired of the same old ID lanyards distributed at gaming conventions? Want something a bit more personal or uniquely "you" to wear? Do what I did:

1. Find someone on a site like Etsy who creates custom-made ID lanyards. I contacted Vicki at SunlightCreations who said she could make a custom lanyard for me if I supplied the material.

2. Purchase some custom material at a place like Spoonflower. Lots of good gaming-related designs, but of course I went with the Classic RPG Map design pattern I created last year.

3. Send material to lanyard maker, and wait.

Just got confirmation that my custom gaming convention lanyard is on the way. Between the material, labor, and shipping, it cost me about $15.00. But I plan to get a lot of use out of it.

Monday, April 7, 2014

LARP DVD Double Feature: Lloyd The Conqueror & Knights Of Badassdom

This past week, I bought and watched two movies, both dealing with a very narrow genre: the "live-action-role-playing action film." One movie, "Knights of Badassdom," has been in the works for a while, and is a title I had seen discussed and bandied about on the Interwebs off and on. The other film, "Lloyd the Conqueror," is one I stumbled across quite accidentally and, upon reading the synopsis, immediately grabbed a copy off eBay. ("Badassdom" I picked up at Walmart, of all places.) So let's dive right in with the Sniderman recommendations:

"Lloyd the Conqueror" is about three directionless slackers cruising their way through community college. When they botch their Medieval Lit report on Beowulf, they are in danger of failing the class and losing their financial aid. They beg the professor for extra credit, not knowing that he is the local "Sauron" who rules over the local LARP of Demons & Dwarves. No other players will battle him on the playing field and he's in danger of losing his game standings. So he makes an offer to the three: If they can field a team and win, he'll pass them. So Lloyd and his friends -- with the help of a mighty Amazon (the self-defense for women instructor) and The White Wizard (the FLGS owner and former D&D champion) -- begin their training to fight the Hordes of Chaos. At first reluctant, the slackers began to revel in their fantasy roles, studying more for the game than they ever did for class. As they see the depravity leveled against the other gamers, they set about creating a plan to defeat the evil warlord and bring harmony back to the playfield. (Basically, "LARP LotR.") I really enjoyed this movie a lot. It had a lot of laughs and was a great find. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a good "underdogs come from behind to save the day" film. While wearing cardboard armor. 4 out of 5 foam swords.

"Knights of Badassdom" is a bit darker in tone. In this film, we again have three slacker friends who spend their days drinking and playing D&D. Two of them have been playing the local LARP for years, while the other has dreams of being a death metal singer. When his girlfriend breaks up with him, the two LARPers "kidnap" their friend and takes him along on one of their weekend LARP events. Complications arise when a spell is cast from a very real spellbook (purchased from the Internet), accidentally summoning a blood-thirsty succubus. As the creature begins to slaughter the players throughout the game, the trio is joined by a barbarian warrior, an elven bowman, and the LARP GM. They realize that their combined fighting skill and working spellcraft knowledge is the only hope of sending the monster back to Hell. I picked this up thinking it was a comedy, but once the demon began its rampage, the blood and gore factor went through the roof. Although still humorous, it became more of a comedic horror action film, ala Evil Dead 2. (Although that's a weak comparison.) I really wanted to like it more than I did because I had been waiting for its release for a while. But the movie was only "OK." (Lotta big names in the cast though.) 2.5 out of 5 foam swords.

(And watch for comedian Brian Posehn who appears in both films -- as the White Wizard in Lloyd, and as a garage co-worker in Badassdom!)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

[Cryptworld] New Thing: The Ashen

A Suffocating Smoke Thing for Cryptworld


STR: NA --- WPR: 8 (120)
DEX: NA --- PER: 5 (75)
AGL: NA --- PCN: 5 (75)
STA: NA --- PWR: 130
ATT: 1/90% --- WND: 0*
MV: F 75  (incorporeal)

Experience: 1,000

When a person dies horribly in a fire or some other intense heat, there's a chance he could become one of The Ashen. After his physical body has burned away, his soul becomes intertwined with the materials that killed him, becoming a restless spirit made up of searing smoke, smothering ash, and burning cinders. The Ashen are in a constant murderous rage as their "unlife" has them trapped in an eternal burning state.

An Ashen appears to be a swirling mass of smoke and ash with flickers of searing embers glittering throughout. Someone who sees the creature may catch glimpses of a human face or grasping hand in the drifting vapor. An Ashen floats through the air as a cloud of smoke would. Although an Ashen cannot pass through physical objects, it can squeeze itself through the smallest of cracks and crevices. An Ashen is painfully hot to get close to, causing one box of Wound damage if contact is made. Flammable items (paper, cloth, wood, etc.) will also erupt into flame upon contact.

The Ashen are often found near the location of their original death, fading in and out of existence like a ghostly cloud of soot. An Ashen may also be attracted to and appear at blazing infernos or other hellish locations of intense heat. In its agony, an Ashen lashes out at living creatures it encounters, punishing them by putting them through the same torment the Ashen is eternally living, either by setting them on fire or smothering them in a swirling vortex of ash and soot. Sadly, massive casualties amongst responding firefighters and emergency personnel is likely if an Ashen has been created by or pulled to a fire they're battling.

The Ashen cannot be harmed or destroyed by physical means, except via the tools used in firefighting. Only a massive amount of water, sand, or foam dumped upon the Ashen can injure or dispel it. Intense cold also has a chance of disrupting an Ashen's grasp on this plane of existence.

Ashen Powers

Pyrokinesis: This power works similarly to the paranormal talent of the same name, except that it costs 30 WPR per round of use.

Suffocating Ash: The Ashen engulfs its victim in a choking cloud of soot and smoke as it attempts to smother the victim to death. The attempt costs the Ashen 30 points of WPR per round to maintain the choking cloud. For each round so engulfed, the victim takes two wounds. If the Ashen stops its attack before the victim dies, the victim will still be blinded by the abating smoke for 4 rounds while his eyes clear and he gasps for breath.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Yay! I'm An OSR Superstar First Round Finalist!

Just found out that one of my magic items made the first round cut of Tenkar's "So You Want To Be An OSR Superstar" competition. My "Rune Eraser" is one of 41 items that passed muster out of 339 entries submitted. So I'm pretty stoked to be in such company

So, for the next round, I need to submit a new unique monster for the Swords & Wizardry system. I'm all about monster-makin' as my Deviant Database and Weird Works will attest. (Not to mention several Things found in the Cryptworld rulebook and many, many mutants found here at Ye Olde Savage AfterWorlde.) I have one new monster in mind that I was going to stat up for the new Cryptworld supplement I'm working on, but it struck me as a bit too "fantasy-oriented" for a modern horror game. But it'd be a perfect fit in the S&W universe. Wish me luck!