Tuesday, September 30, 2014

[Cryptworld] New Thing: Remnant

A Strong-Willed Corpse for Cryptworld

STR: 4 (60) --- WPR: 7 (105)
DEX: 2 (30) --- PER: 3 (45)
AGL: 3 (45) --- PCN: 3 (45)
STA: 4 (60) --- PWR: 80
ATT: 1/53% --- WND: 0*
MV: L 75

Experience: 700

When first encountered, a remnant could be mistaken for a reanimated skeleton (Cryptworld rulebook, page 69). It appears as an old, dusty skeletal system with very little flesh clinging to its bones, perhaps dressed in scraps of the clothing it died in. However, a remnant comes into being when a person dies, yet refuses to leave his earthly body. Through sheer force of willpower, the remnant forces its spirit to remain anchored to its earthly form. Over the years, as its body decays and rots, the remnant refuses to move on, animating its own corpse to fulfill some unfinished task.

Like a skeleton, a remnant does not suffer wound damage, but it does suffer STA damage. When its current STA reaches 0, the remnant's body will fall apart into a pile of inanimate bones. Unless the bones are sprinkled with salt and holy water, the remant will reform in 1d10 minutes back at full STA. Remnants attack with any weapons it may have at hand, or it will claw at an opponent for armed damage with its sharpened bony fingertips.

Obsessive in death, a remnant often has some goal or mission it was unable to accomplish in life. In death, the creature clings to the mortal world as it obsessively tries to achieve this never-ending goal (locating some long-lost artifact, guarding a specific location for eternity, etc.). The remnant will never waiver in its task, and will attack any who stand between it and fulfilling it mission. Because the remnant retains the intelligence it had in life, it will often set up traps and deadfalls to protect the area it haunts. It may lie motionless, disguising itself as a lifeless corpse as its future victims pass by. Although physically weak, the remnant is an exceedingly clever creature.

Although a remnant has no specific powers of its own, it has learned how to tap into its WPR to trigger minor environmental Unsettling Powers (Cryptworld rulebook, page 52). The remnant will use these effects to its greatest advantage to terrorize any intruders who might disrupt its eternal task.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Pre-Generated Notion (Or "No, You Can't Play Your 12th-Level Barbarian Blood-mage In My Convention Game")

/begin soapbox rant

By way of background, I've been running pick-up games and convention scenarios for 30-plus years. And, with rare exception, you'll have your choice of several pre-gens I'll be providing as we sit down to play. No, we won't be rolling up new characters. No, you can't play a new character you rolled up and brought with you. And, super-no, you can't bring your home character to play.

So why the hard-nosed approach? Certainly, any GM worth his salt should be able to work these newly-created and/or home-spun PCs into a quickie pick-up game, right? Well, over the years, I've found it to be more trouble than it's worth. And now that we're entering convention season (for me anyway), I thought I'd explain my position on this matter.

1. Time is limited. During a typical convention game, we have 4 hours tops to get from point A to point B. When you have 6 folks rolling up a new character at the table, it takes 20-30 minutes away from our limited game time. (Perhaps longer if someone is new to the system.) So pre-gens cut the PC generation time to mere seconds. ("Here, pick one.")

2. Necessary "detachment." When you take the time to create a new character, you become "invested" in that character. And folks who are attached to their characters take fewer risks. They're cautious. They think things through. In other words, the action slows to a crawl. However, with a pre-gen, you have a "disposable character." A player will do crazy, off-the-cuff stuff. Risks are taken, action is non-stop, and the story moves along. And if they die horribly 30 minutes into the game? Eh, who cares? Have another pre-gen.

3. Additional game-related info. The pre-gens I give you at the table aren't just a stack of stats. I give each pre-gen some background information that only he or she knows about the scenario the players are entering. Through their pre-generated PC, each player is given some vital clue, some needed piece of equipment, or a skill that's important to the adventure. My pre-gens are actually part of the game. Characters brought in from "outside" won't have that clue, skill, or object necessary to further the game.

4. Game-breakers. I've personally encountered this when someone brings their home character into a convention game. Their PC will have some skill that I didn't account for when designing the adventure which totally sends the game off the rails.
"OK, when the game begins, you are captured by the orcs. After tossing you into a cage, they grunt amongst themselves, formulating their secret plans."
"Oh, did I mention my character is fluent in orcish? I eavesdrop on them so we know exactly what they're up to."
This also encompasses the +8 Holy Reaver your character possesses, the ninja skills you gained when training at The Ninja Academy, and anything else that pushes your character into Superhuman Levels of Kickassery. I just can't account for every potentiality so it's better if you just leave Cap'n Asskicker at home. The pre-gens all start on equal footing. No one is more powerful or more useful to the game than anyone else.

5. "I'm the star." Folks who bring in their personal PCs have a history with that character -- a history that they'll bring to the table. It sometimes becomes an impromptu "let me tell you about my character" situation. Even worse, it becomes a "let me SHOW you about my character" situation. It's no longer about the adventure, but rather it becomes the "Ragnarok the Barbarian Solo Quest Adventure Hour -- Plus Five Other Guys." They see every encounter as another opportunity to show everyone how awesome their character is, and they'll treat the other players like NPCs. With pre-gens, there are no stars.

Lest you think I'm a bit of an ogre, I will admit that I've made "special arrangements" in the past if someone contacted me beforehand and asked if they could bring a home PC into my convention game. If I can make some prior adjustments here or there in my game script or in your PC's skillset, then it sometimes isn't a problem. In fact, I get a bit of a thrill knowing that my game just became a part of your PC's continuity. However, if you blindly show up with a character sheet in-hand and demand that I let you play it, don't start pouting when I ask you to put him away and take a pre-gen. And if you happen to storm off due to this affront, I won't feel badly for you. In fact, I'll feel I've just done the other players at my table a great service.

/end soapbox rant

Sunday, September 21, 2014

[Mutant Future] Savage Menagerie: Porcuspine

No. Enc.: 1d4 (2d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: 1 (spines)
Damage: 1d8 + poison
Save: L6
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: None

Porcuspines are medium-sized humanoids (about 4 to 6 feet tall) who are covered with long, poisonous spiny growths. These spines are incredibly long and thick -- most are more than 2 feet long and 1 inch thick -- making the creature appear as if it is covered in tree-like twigs and branches. (In fact, the porcuspine may be initially mistaken for a plant-like mutant.)

The spines offer a degree of armor class protection, and contact with these spines do 1d8 hit points of damage as well. Porcuspines can break off and use their spines as dagger- and spear-like weapons, and have been known to hurl them as thrown weapons. The spines are also coated with a Class 2 poison. This poison will do 2d6 hit points of poison damage; half-damage taken with a successful save versus poison.

Porcuspines are always in pain as the growth of their spines is agonizing to them. This all-encompassing pain drives them insane, which in turn causes them to lash out at all other creatures they encounter in envious fury. Anything (or anyone) who is caught and captured by a porcuspine will be slowly tormented and tortured until the unfortunate victim either dies or its brain snaps under the strain. If captured by a porcuspine, a victim's best hope is that they are able to kill themselves before the torture begins.

Mutations: spiny growth, poisonous spines

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lords Of Light! Thundarr The Barbarian At Con On The Cob!

Okay, okay, I've had more than one person email me, begging me to run a Thundarr the Barbarian session at Con on the Cob next month. I had not planned on doing so, but I've decided to run a game on Friday morning. However, to do so, I'll need to cancel the Cartoon Action Hour game I had planned to run at that time. (I'll plan to run CAH at a future event in 2015.)

Anyway, here at the details for the game if you're interested in playing:

Friday 8 AM – Noon 
Mutant Future
Thundarr the Barbarian: “The Wizard’s Graveyard”
Demon dogs! The evil wizard Thraxx has discovered an Ancient weapon that will allow him to conquer Wash Dee-See! Legends tell of a powerful artifact long-ago buried in “The Wizard’s Graveyard” that could be the key to his downfall! Join Thundarr, Ookla, and Princess Ariel as they try to save the world of 3994 AD! Lords of Light!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

[Let's Make A Cryptworld Module] Part 5: Act 2 and The Finale -- Howls In The Night

[[This is the fifth and last in a series of blog posts where I'm using The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook to create an adventure module from scratch for the Pacesetter horror RPG Cryptworld.]]

In our previous outings, we established our plotlinesfleshed out our primary antagonist, constructed our Act 1 Action Scenes, and inserted some clues for the players to follow. (In fact, you might want to re-read these entries as I'll be referring to events described earlier.)

Today, we'll move onto Act 2 and Act 3, where the PCs now know what they're generally facing (though the primary villain may still be undiscovered). It's time for them to take steps to put an end to the menace!

With the Adventure Creator's Three-Act format, Act 2 is a series of "Challenge Scenes" for the players. These are the things, situations, and events that now stand between the heroes and their ultimate goal of solving the mystery and putting an end to further malfeasance. Act 3 is the finale, where the final conflict and resolution happens. To keep this short, we'll only have 3 scenes in Act 2, which will then lead into scene 4, which will also be our Act 3 Finale.

When we last left the players in Act 1, they were rescuing Louise Farmer from the Order of the All-Seeing Eye, currently overrun with werewolves. The PCs should now be very aware of the lycanthrope conspiracy, though they may not have ID'ed their leader yet. GM NOTE: Louise should impart on them that a straight-up firefight with a werewolf horde is probably suicide. (Especially if the PCs aren't packing a crap-ton of silver bullets and wolvesbane!) So sneaking out undetected is the best course of action. Once they've escaped, they can decide how to best deal with the menace. (If they want to charge in and attack the lycanthropes in their lair, go ahead and let them. After the slaughter, let their replacements show a bit more discretion...)

Challenge: Avoid Danger/Deal With Threat
Action: Trick
Thing: Rain
Plot: Zombie Potion
Opposition: Possession/Warlock
Location: Bathroom
Clue: Secret Door

Scene 1: The challenge here is for the PCs to escape from the All-Seeing Eye without being detected or seen (Avoid Danger). Louise's research may come in handy, as she was investigating the All-Seeing Eye's connection to the deaths in town. She recalls that her examination of the building's blueprints revealed a hidden secret entrance/exit they might be able to use for their escape (from its days as a speakeasy). The passageway is found in the back of a linen closet in a bathroom on the first floor (Bathroom - Secret Door). The PCs will need to find some way to distract (Trick) the werewolves in the building to get to the passageway and make their escape. This could be an exciting "stealth" encounter or, if it goes poorly, an exciting "chase" encounter! (When the escape is discovered, our villain Sheriff Pratt (Warlock) will know who's responsible. And he won't be happy about it (Deal With Threat).)

Challenge: Do Research/Find Help
Action: Humiliate
Thing: Monster
Plot: Vixen
Opposition: Plague/Disease/Fugative
Location: Religious Offices
Clue: Odd Behavior

Scene 2: Once that scene has ended, the PCs will probably hunker down in hiding for the evening. The next morning when the sun is up, the werewolf threat has passed. But the PCs will only be safe until the sun sets again, at which point the wolves will be after them again! They'd better Do Research/Find Help if they hope to survive! If they haven't done so yet, Louise suggests checking out the local church (Religious Offices). The church is empty, but unlocked, which seems strangely inviting (Odd Behavior). As they investigate, they should hear typing coming from one of the offices. The church secretary will be here ("Linda"), dutifully hammering together the church bulletin (Vixen...though it's a stretch). She is surprised to see them here, but unlike the rest of the town, she will be nervously forthcoming with information (Fugitive). She confirms that the lycanthrope conspiracy is real and that townspeople are fearful of talking about it. ("You either end up dead, or as one of THOSE!" she says.)

She begs them to help, even breaking into the church's altar room to give them some silver trinkets that could be potentially used as weapons. If asked who in town is cursed, she lists off a few of the town's notable leaders (but she is unaware of Pratt's involvement, though if asked, she'll say that he creeps her out). "And I think Pastor Burchell is one of them too!" she'll whisper. Linda will then scream as she falls to the floor. Behind her stands Pastor Burchell with a dagger. "She's right," he'll hiss as he attacks (Monster). So the PCs have a combat on their hands with one of the conspirators! He's not currently in wolf form, but he does have lycan claws and teeth in this encounter, so the combat will be a challenge. During the fight, Louise should be injured via scratch or bite (she's now cursed!). If it goes badly and if he's not killed outright, Pastor Burchell will run off.

Challenge: Assist/Save NPC
Action: Decide
Thing: Owner/Proprietor
Plot: Never Speak of This
Opposition: Serial Killer/Animated Objects
Location: Crime Scene
Clue: Lack of Alibi

Scene 3: Louise is now cursed with lycanthropy, so she only has until sundown before she becomes one of the pack! (Assist/Save NPC) Louise explains (per our clues in the previous post) that destruction of the pack leader will break the curse for all those who have contracted the disease. The chase is on to find the leader! The PCs should now know most of those Coldcreek residents cursed with lycanthropy (from both their observations as well as Linda's list). Although I mentioned in an earlier entry there were eight of them at the temple, I'm going to scale back and say there were five: Pastor Burchell; Steve Thompson, the town food market proprietor, and Roger Warner, the town mechanic (the large surly townperson who threatened them in our first act) are three that they know of. (The other two are Pratt's deputies. And, of course, Pratt is behind it all, though he was not at the temple that night.) Logically speaking, confronting Thompson for info would be the best course of action (Owner/Proprietor). His store is closed, so the PCs should investigate his home.

It will be locked, though it's obvious someone's in there. Whether they break in or talk to him through the door, Thompson will beg them to go away and leave him alone. If convinced to talk by telling him they know he's one of the pack (Lack of Alibi), he will let them in and agree to tell them everything (Decide...Never Speak of This). Thompson is afraid for his family, friends, and the community, and he wants to be rid of the curse. (He's been able to retain his humanity in human form, though he feels Pratt's influence on him at all times.)

"It's Sheriff Pratt!" he says. "He used to be a great man, but now he's a monster! He and his deputies are planning to turn everyone into wolf-men under his control! He controls them all, you know! With that medallion of his! Right now, I can feel him looking at you through my eyes!" Thompson can explain what he knows of the Eye of Anubis, and how Pratt uses it to control his minions. Pratt is indeed using the medallion on Thompson right now, but his will is too strong. So Pratt has sent his deputies to put an end to the meddling PCs (Serial Killer). They are now waiting outside Thompson's house with guns drawn, ordering everyone to leave the house with their hands up. (Doing so is suicide.) Thompson may decide to end it all by charging at the deputies, buying time for the PCs to escape. Or the PCs may decide to confront the lycan deputies during the day. (Though the deputies are crackshots, so the firefight may be one-sided.) The deputies are completely loyal to Pratt and have orders to kill everyone in the house (Crime Scene).

If the PCs overcome or drive away the deputies, Pratt's voice crackles on the patrol car radio: "You've been a thorn in my side since arriving. It's time to end this. Come to my Temple. Fail to show up, and I'll slaughter everyone in town."

And the gauntlet is thrown...


(Normally the finale doesn't use random results. But the items for Act 2, Scene 4, just lent themselves so well to the finale resolution that I've incorporated them here.)

Challenge: Collect Evidence/Recover Items
Action: Rally
Thing: Pick-Pocket
Plot: Cursed Artifact
Opposition: Conspiracy/Evil God
Location: Study
Clue: Things Out of Place

Scene 4 and Finale: The cat (er..."wolf") is out of the bag now. Pratt and his plans have been exposed, and the clock is ticking now that Louise is in danger of turning. Pratt is now in the Temple and is completely delusional. He has put on his Anubis costume and is ready to show the town of Coldcreek their new "god." (Conspiracy/Evil God). He is summoning his minions to return to his side using the Eye of Anubis (Cursed Artifact...Rally). Depending on what the PCs have done, there could be two, one, or even no one showing up to defend their master! Pratt is now ready for the final showdown with the "infidels."

When the PCs arrive, Pratt will be waiting on the steps of his "temple" wearing his Egyptian finery. Any minions still alive will be standing before him. The townpeople watch from behind closed doors and through window curtains. It's an Old West showdown with a Middle Eastern flair.

"Kneel cattle!" Pratt demands. The PCs will probably refuse. They may even say something fairly insulting. Or they may open fire. Regardless, Pratt touches the medallion, and his minions charge. If the sun is down, Pratt transforms into his werejackal form and joins the fight as well. If the sun is up, he still transforms, but into a form of considerably lesser power. Since Louise has been "touched", she may join the fight for Pratt under the influence of the medallion. (It could be an interesting turn to see if the PCs can hold her at bay without hurting/killing their partner.) If the medallion is somehow taken from Pratt during the fight (Pick-Pocket), all of his minions will break off their attack on the PCs and will then turn on Pratt! If Pratt is killed or destroyed, the curse will be broken and his minions (and Louise) will return to normal. The lycanthropic threat to Coldcreek has ended.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Wizards, Mutants, Lazer Pistols Volume 1 Compilation Now Out!

Woo-hoo! By now you've seen me praising the gonzo RPG fanzine Wizards, Mutants, Lazer Pistols. This fantastic zine resource is chock-full of bizarre fantasy-sci-fi-horror-humor gaming good stuffs. And now all six issues (so far!) have been compiled into one master edition! Presenting the Wizards, Mutants, Lazer Pistols Volume One Compilation!

The 138-page book collects all six issues of WMLP with resources, new monsters, new classes, new treasures, new weapons, new scenarios, and support for such games as:

  • Dungeons & Dragons!
  • Labyrinth Lord!
  • Mutant Future!
  • Encounter Critical!
  • Cryptworld!
  • And the six-part mega-dungeon "Beneath the Ruins!"

Wizards, Mutants, Lazer Pistols Volume One Compilation is available at Lulu for $16.99. Plus, there's a current 20% Lulu coupon, so punch in SHOW20 for an extra $3.40 off. Sniderman says, "Go get some."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wanna Play Cryptworld In Columbus On Sept. 20?

Hey Ohio folks,

I'm planning to run a 4-hour pick-up game of Cryptworld at Ravenstone Games in Columbus on Saturday Sept. 20 at 11 a.m. I'm planning on a six-person game, and I already have two potential players at the table. I'm planning on running the scenario I ran at North Texas RPG Con earlier this year:
Game Title: Unquenchable
Game System: Cryptworld (Pacesetter Ltd.)
Number of players: 3-6
Pregens/Level of characters: Yes / NA
World/Setting: Modern horror
Game Info: Three days ago, a group of hunters failed to return from their annual deer hunt near Akron, Ohio. Your team of expert trackers and investigators have been brought in to assist in the search. But there seems to be an undercurrent of unease amongst the police who whisper of a disturbing discovery they’ve made; the withered husks of several animals. Could the missing hunters have done this…or is something more sinister lurking in the forest?
Drop me a note at gameagain at gmail period com if you'd like me to set a seat aside for you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Far Out! Kickstarter For "Spirit Of 77" RPG Launched! Can You Dig It?

It's time to grab a can of Pabst or Schiltz, jump into your souped-up Firebird, and put the hammer down! A Kickstarter for Monkeyfun Studios' Spirit of 77 RPG is underway!

From the Kickstarter description:
Spirit of 77 is an over-the-top, pedal-to-the-metal, nitro-burning, action adventure role playing game about an alternate history 1977. Richard Nixon has made a deal with aliens, and is still in the White House; renegade rock gods from another galaxy have shared with us the power of Glam; kung-fu bad-asses wander the city streets righting wrongs, and everyone is trying to stick it to The Man.
Spirit of 77 is about recreating all the classic action and adventure TV shows, Movies, and Comic Books of the 1970s. It draws inspiration from movies like Shaft, Smokey and the Bandit, The Warriors, Barbarella, Rocky, and Enter the Dragon; TV shows like The Dukes of Hazard, The Bionic Man, The Rockford Files, and Charlies Angels; and music like James Brown, KISS, David Bowie, Jerry Reed, and Issac Hayes.

Spirit of 77 uses the Apocalypse World engine created by D. Vincent Baker, like a classic hot-rod we've made a number of modifications to amp up the horsepower. The basic mechanics consist of rolling two six sided dice adding a modifier and then narrating the success or failure.
Easy to pick up for novice role players, and with plenty of options for the experienced, the rules of Spirit of 77 are geared towards encouraging over-the-top, pedal-to-the-metal action. You know the type: leaping cars, swinging from rooftops, blowing up tanker trucks, and punching bigfoot right in his hairy face.
Although I'm not a huge fan of the AW engine, I gotta say that the setting and genre has got my mojo boilin' over. I've always wanted to run a Convoy/Smokey and the Bandit/BJ and the Bear 1970's trucker game, and this system could be that on-ramp! Still not convinced? How about a free demo to try out the system and setting?

This looks like it'll be a big 10-4, good buddies. We gone.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Secret Santicore 2014 Is Underway!


I've missed out on this in previous years, but not this year, buddy-boy! Secret Santicore 2014 is now underway, accepting requests for your deepest role-playing desires. Want a new monster? A new race? An adventure hook? A random table? Climb up on Ol' Santi's lap and let him know what you want. Then, in a twist on the classic gift exchange, YOU'LL be given a request from another requester. You fulfill a gift request by creating what that person asked for and, come December, everyone gets a newly created RPG element for the holidays! (And all of this OSR DIY open content goodness is compiled into one big ol' book for everyone!)

Move fast since you only have through September 14 to get your request in! Later that week, you'll get your own gift request to create, and you have until October 13 to get it done and submitted. Then Santicore's Paindeer take over the editing, proofing, compiling, formatting, and general hammering into shape.

So why are you still standing there? Go sign up! And don't forget: "He sees you when you're sleeping, and he knows when you're awake."

Monday, September 1, 2014

Classic D&D Walkthrough Prints Now Available For Pre-Order

I'm sure many of you have seen and enjoyed the classic D&D module walkthrough maps posted over at Wizards of the Coast. Well now pre-orders for prints of those amazing works are now being taken over at Mockman Press!

The prints cover many of the classic module maps, all drawn up in an amusing cartoon-like manner. All of the major encounters are noted, and the detail is amazing on each one. The adventures illustrated include:

The smallest of the prints looks to be around 13" x 18", whereas the largest are around 18" x 36". Print pre-orders are from $20 to $30 depending on the map and size, and you can pre-order all seven for $150. I plan on picking up Tomb of Horrors for my own gaming room, as it was the the first module I ever ran as a DM. (Yeah, my players were thrilled about that first TPK.)