Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sharing My "Gaming Con Passport"

North Texas RPG Con is less than a week away, and I'm putting the finishing touches on my games. Chronoscooters are warmed up, members of ISCX are on alert, and a certain toon barbarian and his friends are on their horses and heading south. All that's left is the packin'.

I think most folks who attend gaming conventions like to pick up some souvenir to show that they've been there, done that. Like most, I have a pretty wide selection of con t-shirts, but I'm not too keen on packing them and wearing them at other conventions. For some reason, wearing a Gencon shirt at Origins just feels "off" to me. I also have several caps with convention logos on them I've picked up. (I may pack one to wear, but that's just my penchant for caps.)

But I'd like to share my favorite "gaming con passport" that I have with me at every convention I attend. I have a "neck wallet" that I use to hold my convention ID. (I'm sure many of you have something similar.) I got my first one at Gencon years ago, but this is the one I currently use. I recently had a custom lanyard made using the dungeon map cloth I designed. Well, tucked inside the wallet is my collection of con badges from all other conventions I've attended. The day I get home from a gaming con, the newest "been there, done that" ticket gets tucked in amongst the others. It's become a snapshot of sojourns I've taken. So, do you have a way to mark each con you've been to?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Looking For Artists For Deviant Database 2.0!

Hey gang,

Today's post is once again aimed at any artists out there -- from professionals to wanna-bes. I'm working on a follow-up to my original Mutant Future supplement, Deviant Database. I have a "sequel" of sorts planned, in fact, of 50 new creatures for use with Mutant Future. And if TSR can have a Monster Manual II, then I'm going to have a Deviant Database 2.0!

When I created the first Deviant Database as well as One Year In The Savage AfterWorld,  I made an offer: Anyone who illustrated any creature for the book would get artistic credit up front as well as the final PDF of the book. Anyone who drew three or more creatures got credit, the PDF, and a Lulu print copy of the final book. And the offer is being made once again... Contribute any illustration and you'll get artist credit and the final PDF when done. Contribute three, and I'll send the final print version of the book when done. Keep in mind that you do NOT need to be a professional artist with buckets of talent and a huge portfolio. Any "good faith" effort that isn't a copy or tracing of another's artwork is acceptable as this supplement begs for the "OSR, old-school, garage-print" treatment. (However, I do reserve the right to say "No thanks.")

Here's the current list of creatures I need art for (any that are "claimed" have been crossed out):
  • Large patch of moss of lichens. A skeleton lays on the bed of moss.
  • Several spiny sea urchins, but they aren’t underwater (they’re land dwellers).
  • Horse-headed humanoid wielding really big damn guns.
  • Imagine an elephant with a turtle’s shell and head with a beak. It’s got hypnotic eyes too.
  • A giant 100-feet tall alien-like creature. Thin, spindly, clawed legs and arms, insectoid head with tentacled mouth.
  • A turtle so large, it carries a huge island on its back.
  • Cornstalks that explode, sending spiderwebs everyplace.
  • A unicorn with a chainsaw blade for a horn.
  • Giant praying mantis.
  • A beautiful woman except that her head has opened up into a giant toothy maw to bite off the head of a paramour.
  • A tarantula with flaps of skin between its legs, allowing it to “glide” like a flying squirrel.
  • A three-headed creature on a barrel-shaped body with three arms and 9 tentacles it uses for locomotion.
  • A golem made out of cast-off internal organs (hearts, brains, kidneys, etc.) A living “gut pile” in human form.
  • A twisted cannibal human who lives in the swamps. Jagged teeth, pointy ears, and fingernail claws.
  • Large toad with jagged vampire teeth.
  • A giant pig-like boar. Three eyes, two mouths, and a set of horns that runs down its spine. Drools a lot.
  • A small leech-worm that has three sharp hook-like fangs that it uses to latch onto a victim.
  • A tyranousarus rex with strange hypnotic eyes.
  • A firey, ashen smoke-monster in a shifting humanoid form.
  • A large carnivorous flying fish that fires out a barbed tongue to snatch prey from the river banks.
  • Giant Venus Fly Trap that can trap human-sized prey.
  • A giant penguin with a mouth that’s as large as it is tall. Propels itself by sliding along the ground face-first, and scoops/eats its prey as it slides along into its open mouth.
  • A rhino that’s on fire and surrounded by a flaming aura.
  • A laughing donkey.
  • A humanoid covered in a hardened scab-like crust.
  • Large half-man, half-polar bear arctic monster.
  • A T-rex with a tank turret for a head.
  • A crab that is using a human skull for a shell.
  • A hairless water-dwelling otter that is covered in green slime.
  • A human with incredibly long arms and legs, twisted into bizarre directions. Runs on all fours, black skin, sharp teeth, barbed tongue, clings to walls like a spider.
  • Giant stinkbug (like the name says…)
  • Small insect that looks like a computer circuit board.
  • An animated snake skeleton.
  • A flaming human skull with wings. Yes, like the biker logo.
  • A half-man, half-shark mutant humanoid wielding an axe.
  • A crab with a squirrel’s head.
  • A giant insect that looks like a fallen log walking on “branch/twig-like” legs.
  • A giant centipede thing attacking a robot. It has a pair of sharp talons near its head that it uses to rip up machines…
If you would like to contribute a drawing or sketch for this new supplement, send me an email at gameagain at gmail dot com. Pick what you'd like to draw up, and send it in when you're done. Thanks for your consideration!

Friday, May 23, 2014

[Mutant Future] Savage Menagerie: Mechanobane

No. Enc.: 2d4 (1d8)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 3 (2 talons, bite)
Damage: 1d6/1d6/3d6
Save: L2
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: None

The Mechanobane is a long (8 ft. long) centipede-like creature that is incredibly destructive to any powered machinery it encounters, making it the scourge of robots, androids, and other artificial lifeforms. It is thought that the Mechanobane is incredibly sensitive to the vibrations and energy signals/patterns emitted by any kind of powered machinery. When it senses these patterns, it flies into a berserk rage, ripping and shredding into the offending device until it is no longer functioning.

The Mechanobane is a long segmented insectoid creature that scuttles about on multiple legs on its underside. It can sense any power signature (electrical, nuclear, etc.) emitted from any mechanical device in a 200 foot radius. Vehicles, weapons, computers, any device that uses a form of stored power to work can be sensed by the Mechanobane. Even something as simple as a 9-volt battery will be sensed, but the larger the signal, the more likely the Mechanobane will scuttle in to investigate. It's assumed that these energy patterns are somehow painful for the creature, prompting them to attack. Once enraged, the Mechanobane will not stop until it is dead or all offending signal-producing devices it senses are destroyed.

Toward the front of the Mechanobane's torso are two specialized "legs" that are much longer and sharper than the others. The Mechanobane can use these as talon-tipped "arms" to rip and tear into the offending machinery. Its multiple mandibled mouth can snap and bite as well, rending anything it comes into contact with. The creature's talons and teeth have evolved to be incredibly hard and sharp, able to tear and bite through metal with ease. The creature gets a +2 to hit bonus due to its natural weaponry in this regard.

Oddly enough, if the PCs power everything down, the Mechanobane will break off its attack. When crossing through a known Mechanobane region, it's advisable to "go primitive" as the creatures will ignore you if they don't detect any power-source signatures. Some anti-technology communities will keep nests of Mechanobanes nearby both to keep their citizens primitive and under control, as well as to keep technologically advanced visitors at bay.

Mutations: power signature detection, natural weapon

Thursday, May 22, 2014

[Cryptworld] The Secret Of Transpacific Flight 810

Enough time has passed since Cryptworld's release that I'm ready to share an "easter egg" I tucked into "Red Eye," the introductory adventure found in the rulebook. To keep from spoiling anything for players who have not yet taken a ride on Transpacific Flight 810, I'll play it cagey by presenting the hidden in-joke by way of a puzzle to solve. Here you go:

The first and last name of the THING lurking in "Red Eye" can be rearranged into a three-word phrase.

_ / _ _ / _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Originally, this was going to figure into the plot of the adventure. But I eventually scrapped that idea, although I retained the name of the THING for my own amusement.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

[Rotworld/AFMBE] "Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies" Official Movie Trailer

Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Kurt Angle, and other WWF/WWE Superstars fight off the undead in this film "classic." Gory, over-the-top action that doesn't take itself seriously, this is freaking INSPIRATIONAL. I've sometimes thought that a game of All Flesh Must Be Eaten: Zombie Smackdown would be a hilarious one-shot. Or perhaps a game of Rotworld, only the PCs are masked, high-flying luchadores trying to save their town from being overrun. Heck, this movie would be great viewing before taking a tour through Planet Motherf**ker!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

[Mutant Future] Savage Menagerie: Log Walker

No. Enc.: 1d4 (2d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1
Damage: 3d6
Save: L2
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: None

The Log Walker is a giant (7 ft. long) mutant insect that resembles a fallen decaying log. It is assumed to be a giant relative of the Bygone "walking stick" insect due to the similarities in its camouflage techniques. But whereas the Ancient walking stick insect is a fairly innocuous creature, the Log Walker can be dangerous if provoked.

Log Walkers always make their nests in forest groves and other woodlands where their natural camouflage will best serve them. When immobile, the Log Walker looks like a large piece of fallen timber with multiple sticks and branches laying on the forest floor. When it decides to act, it raises up on the "branches," which are actually its legs, while on one end, the Log Walker's antennae (which appear to be twigs and sticks) will flail about as it gets its bearings and detects the location of any creatures nearby.

A Log Walker's outer shell is as hard as wood, giving it a form of natural armor. Although the Log Walker is a peaceful herbivore, it has one primary form of defense if attacked. Once it takes any form of damage, the Log Walker's antennae will flash as a form of mind thrust is fired at the minds of everyone within 50 feet of the creature. Everyone within range will take 3d6 damage from the mental attack. A Log Walker can fire this mind thrust every other round, and it will continue to do so as long as it feels that it is in danger. If a group of Log Walkers is attacked, they will "stagger" their mind thrust attacks so there is one or more mental attacks each round.

Log Walkers will usually be encountered "hidden" in plain sight as they rest prone on the forest floor. Once they are disturbed, they'll stand up to wander off and find a new place that isn't so noisy. Heaven help the PC who, rather than letting them walk away, decides to launch an attack against this creature.

Mutations: natural camouflage, natural armor, mind thrust

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wizards, Mutants, Lazer Pistols Issue 6 Now Out!

If you like your RPG zines chock-full of delicious gonzoness, you'll be happy to know that Issue 6 of Wizards, Mutants, Lazer Pistols is now out! Prepare for more OSR WTF goodness from Alex and his contributors! In this issue you'll find:
  • A new mini-adventure for Goblinoid Games’ CRYPTWORLD RPG—secret government ops meets horror in the wild!
  • A new installment of Beneath the Ruins, wherein the Ice Caves and the Department of Transubstantiation are detailed.  Elusive, wooly, ice creatures, the Beast of Kokytos, and deranged practitioners of academic sorcery!
  • A long lost fragment from the Scrollus Encountercus, the premier ENCOUNTER CRITICAL fanzine of its day!
  • Swag that your OSR ranger class will flip over! Who likes nifty arrows? WE like nifty arrows!
  • And a monster quiz that’s devilishly difficult! (GROAN)
Any issue of Wizards, Mutants, Lazer Pistols is $3.75 shipped in the U.S., and $6.00 international. Sniderman says, "Go get some."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

H.R. Giger: 1940 - 2014

Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger has passed away. Giger's style is immediately recognizable to most of you, as his "biomechanical" creatures and designs are singly unique. Best known for creating the design of the creature from "Alien," I recall his artwork appearing on the covers of multiple issues of Omni that I used to collect. One of my favorite games "back in the day" was "Dark Seed" which was based on his designs. Nightmare fuel -- and I loved it. He and his horrific visions will be missed.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

[Mutant Future] Notorius NPCs: Roo Manchu

Roo Manchu
7th Level Mutant Animal

STR: 15 --- INT: 18
DEX: 17 --- WIL: 24
CON: 12 --- CHA: 17
HPs: 47 --- AC: 5

Mutations: leaping; echolocation; damage turning; disintegration; intellectual affinity (martial)

In the Mutant Future, there is one criminal mastermind who is feared and respected by all who have heard of him -- Roo Manchu. "Dr. Manchu" (as he prefers to be called) has developed a criminal empire that stretches across the badlands of the Mutant Future, touching and/or controlling every nefarious enterprise throughout the land. His cruelty is matched only by his pragmatism. He's logical and emotionless to a fault, and views crime and illegal activities as the most efficient way to spread his control of everything and everyone.

Dr. Manchu is a large mutant kangaroo. He stands over 7 feet tall and sports a long, thin "fu manchu" mustache from his muzzle. He prefers to dress in long flowing black robes which affords him a degree of modesty, while also keeping his powerful legs and tail exposed for times when they are needed. As mentioned, Dr. Manchu is incredibly intelligent with a powerful force of will. He has many Bygone devices and weapons at his disposal, and his affinity for them is such that he has a +25% tech bonus when determining how a Bygone device functions. Dr. Manchu flawlessly speaks nearly every language and dialect found in the badlands, as well as most Bygone languages, and he can write and read any language easily. (He has an extensive hidden library of Bygone tomes where he gets many of his ideas and plans.)

Dr. Manchu should be played as a shadowy figure always discussed and feared, but rarely -- if ever -- actually encountered. Name a criminal enterprise -- protection rackets, slavery, extortion, murder-for-hire, etc. -- and Dr. Manchu is the one running the operation from afar. Many of the larger gangs that patrol the wastelands answer to him (or his sergeants) in some manner, and anyone who displeases or crosses him will usually be found dead within hours. Dr. Manchu is an all-present criminal "boogieman" whose reach is far and whose evilness is legendary.

Dr. Manchu's powerful kangaroo legs gives him the ability to leap up to 100' high and a distance of 200'. A cautious creature, he has mutations that keep him protected when he's within familiar surroundings. He uses his echolocation to constantly keep tabs on his surroundings and those near him. If someone would launch a surprise attack, he triggers his damage turning mutation, sending the injuries back to his opponent. And if someone has vastly displeased him, Dr. Manchu will use his disintegration ability, ensuring that the one who failed him never has that chance again. On those rare occasions when someone is granted a face-to-face meeting with the Doctor, it should be made clear that any aggressive move will be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

Even though Dr. Manchu prefers to let his minions do his fighting for him, if he's ever encountered in one-on-one combat, the PCs will find that Dr. Manchu is a dangerous opponent in hand-to-hand combat. His martial affinity and echolocation mutations as well as his high STR and DEX scores gives him a +1 to any initiative roll, a +6 to hit bonus, and a +1d6+1 damage bonus in hand-to-hand combat. When wielding a ranged weapon, Dr. Manchu receives a +2 to hit with missile weapons. Considering his vast arsenal amassed over the years, it's safe to assume that any weapon imaginable is available to the evil Doctor.

Putting an end to the Doctor's machinations could be the start to a very long (and dangerous) campaign. Perhaps the PCs have a personal vendetta to settle when their family is abducted and sold by the Doctor's minions. Perhaps the minor crime lords in the area wish to get out from under the Doctor's control and hire the PCs to take care of him once and for all. Regardless of how they cross paths with him, Dr. Manchu should be played up as a very powerful and dangerous villain of legendary stature.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

This Is A Test Of My Emergency Blogging System

I'm one month away from heading out to the North Texas RPG Con. Although I have my games pretty well written and my arrangements made, there was one thing that I needed to take care of. You see, I like to keep a daily "live blog" from any convention I attend. I think (or at least, I hope) that readers appreciate getting a "you are there" view of a gaming con they might not otherwise be able to attend. Or, perhaps, they're thinking of attending one day and they'd like to get a better idea of the venue, what games are available, and other info you just can't get from the con's website. Also, I used to be a newspaper reporter, so keeping a daily blog of what I've seen and done keeps the reporting reflexes "fresh."

Explanations aside, I was beginning to become concerned that I'd be unable to do this with NTRGPG Con because I'll be flying to this location. For all other cons, I've been fairly close (within a few hours' drive) so I'd just pack up the laptop, toss it all in the trunk, and head on out. Upon arrival, I'd take a few minutes and basically set up a mobile office in my room. But since I'm flying to Texas, I prefer to travel light. Which means one carry-on and that's it. (I travel REAL light when I fly.) So packing up my Mobile Blogging Command Center just so I could hammer out a daily travelogue wasn't appealing to me. But then my wife pointed out that I always take my Android tablet (Acer A500) with me too. (I have all of my RPG books uploaded on it for use at the table if the need arises.)

"Can't you just type up your blog-things with that?" she asked.

Well, I have used my tablet for answering emails and simple G+ comments, but I wasn't real thrilled with the idea of typing up an entire blog post on the Android's screen keyboard. I could just see myself pecking at the screen-keys like some kind of demented bird. But after a bit a research, I found an "el cheapo" USB-keyboard/tablet case that could work. But I like the case my tablet is kept in (rich Corinthian leather), so I cannibalized the keyboard from the case, turning it into a stand-alone plug-in device. I downloaded the Blogger tablet app, and I think I just might be good-to-go with this efficiency set-up. Takes up a lot less space, is portable, and should work well when I'm on the road in June. I'm not sure I like how the photos are posted with the app, as they default to run at the end of the post, but that seems to be the only concession I need to make. And typing on a real keyboard is a relief.

If you're wondering why I've blathered on this long about my computer-blogging plans, it's because this post serves a very specific purpose. This entire post is the first one I've written and posted from the tablet-based blogging platform I've just described. So it looks like it's a "go" in 30 days.

Stay tuned for yet another Sniderman travelogue, this time live from North Texas RPG Con in June!

Friday, May 2, 2014

[Cryptworld] New Thing: Djinn

A Diabolical Wish-Granting Thing for Cryptworld


STR: NA --- WPR: 8 (120)
DEX: NA --- PER: 8 (120)
AGL: NA --- PCN: 9 (135)
STA: NA --- PWR: 150
ATT: 1/* --- WND: 0*
MV: teleport anywhere instantly

Experience: 1,500

A Djinn is a supernatural creature who can bend and warp the fabric of reality to grant the inner-most wishes of its "master." However, it does this as a means to an end, as the Djinn collects the wisher's soul as "payment" for services rendered.

A Djinn is actually a form of Demon (see Cryptworld rulebook, page 57) who uses its powers to unleash humanity's baser instincts. A Djinn is initially encountered trapped within a vessel of some kind: a bottle, a lamp, a mystical jewel, and even a book has held the malevolent spirit. Once released, the Djinn will grant its "master" one wish in exchange for their eternal soul. The Djinn makes it clear that he will collect the soul only upon the wisher's natural death. What the wisher doesn't realize is that all Djinn wish-magic grants the wish in the most unfortunate -- and deadly -- means possible.

  • "I wish for $50 million." = A drug lord's bank account is re-routed to the wisher's account along with an easily-followed paper trail.
  • "I wish for women to throw themselves at me." = A gun-toting jilted lover will be knocking at the wisher's door very soon.
  • "I wish for so-and-so to die." = They die of food poisoning, along with everyone else who ate at that restaurant, including the wisher.
  • "I wish for my enemy to end up in prison." = And he will...after being convicted of the wisher's murder.
  • Even something as innocent as "I wish I were taller" will see the victim's skeleton stretch and grow, while his muscles, skin, and organs stay the same size, shredding his body from the inside-out.
Once its "master" is dead, the Djinn absorbs the victim's soul, growing even more powerful. It then wanders the earth, looking for new victims to tempt with "their heart's desire." A Djinn can instantly teleport to where it feels the "desire" is greatest. It will then make the offer to a new victim, offering them one wish in exchange for their soul. It will continue these diabolical deals until stopped or until it reaches its goal of 1,000,000 human souls.

When encountered, a Djinn is actually a slave to the wish-granting contract, i.e., it cannot cast any magic of its own choosing, and can only cast magic at the behest of a wisher. Although it cannot cast magic of its own, the Djinn is not powerless! It is a cunning deceiver and very charismatic, able to talk the weak-willed into doing his bidding. He may hold back someone's wish until they do a "favor" for him first. ("I shall grant your heart's desire, but first you need to do something for me...") Once a Djinn has collected and absorbed 1,000,000 human souls, it is freed from its wish-granting contract and will be free to cast magic of its own desire. At that time, the Djinn will unleash chaos as its own desires and wishes take form. The world will bow and call HIM "master"! The Djinn has been collecting souls for millennia, so it is left to the CM as to how close the Djinn is to achieving this world-ending goal!

Stopping a Djinn is incredibly difficult as the creature does not have a physical form. Attacks pass through him as the Djinn stands there with a bemused smirk before disappearing to sow more chaos and death. But every Djinn has a specific weakness, and the method of stopping him is left to the CM depending on the campaign he wishes to run:
  • The Djinn's essense could be tied to his vessel. If the vessel is destroyed, the Djinn will also be destroyed.
  • The Djinn will be trapped in its vessel again if it comes into contact with it. The Djinn will have taken steps to hide it away from those who might interfere.
  • An obscure ritual may need to be performed to undo all of the magic the Djinn has unleashed. The PCs will need to do some investigating in esoteric texts and ancient manuscripts. Meanwhile, the Djinn will manipulate its victims into stopping the PCs!
  • Someone could wish for the Djinn's destruction. This would require an act of self-sacrifice, as granted wishes always end with the death of the wisher. (The Djinn and the wisher could both "wink" out of existence.)
The CM is warned that introducing a Djinn could be campaign-altering as the creature has the ability to warp and bend the laws of reality. If you wish to "soften" the nature of the chaos, you could determine that reality returns back to normal upon the wisher's death, and whatever they wished for vanishes. Or, upon the capture/destruction of the Djinn, "everything goes back to normal." (With the exception of any deaths caused by the Djinn's wish-magic. Victims remain dead and their souls destroyed.)

Djinn Powers

Grant Wish: The Djinn can look into the heart of anyone and instantly know what they truly desire. Once they see this, they begin to cajole and prod their victim, telling them that they can have that desire in exchange for their soul. The wisher MUST say "I wish..." during his request for the magical contract to take effect. The wish is immediately granted, but the CM should alter the nature of the wish so it is granted in the most diabolical of ways, ending in the death of the wisher. (See some wish examples and their results in the creature description above.) Granting a wish costs the Djinn 100 points of WPR. Although the wish contract is fulfilled, the Djinn will stick around until the wisher's inevitable end, so it can consume the released soul.