Sunday, March 31, 2019

[Cryptworld] "Creepy Comic Conversion" Issue 3 Now Available

Throw open the crypt doors and race to your mailbox, for today marks the return of the Creepy Comic Conversion series for Cryptworld!

I love horror comics, especially the long-forgotten ones that have entered the public domain. As a way to bring these amazing terror tales back to life, I’ve grabbed one at random and converted one of the stories as a mini-Cryptworld adventure. In this full-color 24-page zine, you first read the short comic story, then the back-half is that same tale now fleshed out and statted up for an evening’s gaming.

So here is Issue 3 of the "Creepy Comic Conversion" series featuring "The Cave of Doom" from Chamber of Chills Number 10 (1952):

In "The Cave of Doom", the players have been invited to travel to the frozen wastes of Antarctica on a most exciting scientific expedition – the possible discovery of a long-forgotten tribe of prehistoric man. Upon arrival at Union Glacier Camp, they will assist anthropologists Paul Norden and John Harding as they traverse across the arctic wastes to investigate an unexplored cavern found at the base of Mount Vinson – the highest peak in Antarctica. What mysteries of the past lie within?

Issue 3 of the "Creepy Comic Conversion" series is now available in PDF at Drive Through RPG. I'll also have print copies available soon at DTRPG as well!

Friday, March 29, 2019


One of my favorite facets of the Dungeon Crawl Classics/Mutant Crawl Classics series of RPGs is the ever-popular Zero-level funnel. Each player starts with a handful of non-leveled, unskilled, common folk who are then presented with a situation far beyond their means to cope. When the adventure has ended, those citizens left standing progress to Level 1. This progress leaves a lot of bodies in its wake.

Lots...and LOTS of bodies.

Because of the meatgrinder-like atmosphere of this inaugural sojourn, many DCC/MCC judges are equipped with a self-inking DEAD stamp. It's almost ceremonial to commemorate the death of these disposable peons with a satisfying KA-CHUNK. I've wondered where these stamps were available and, with a bit of research, managed to get my hands on two -- one for DCC and one for MCC. Folks have asked me where I got 'em, so I'm passing that info along to you now!
I got mine from Vistaprint. They carry a wide variety of stamps -- especially self-inking ones. The one I ordered was the rectangular 1.5 x 3 inch version, which seems to be the "standard" amongst judges. My favorite color to use is red (BLOOOOOOD), although there are several others available if you like. Next up, the site asks you to upload the image you want. I was able to locate the stamp designs most preferred by judges (and thanks to the nameless designer who came up with them). I have placed them here on my blog for you to download.
Just grab the image, and upload it to the site. That's it! The stamp runs a bit over $25 (smaller ones cost less), but Vistaprint runs constant sales and promos, so you can get them for quite a bit off if you look. (I didn't pay more than $20 for either of mine.) That's it!

Now, next zero-level funnel you run, watch the players quake in fear as they see you bring out your Dead Stamp. They'll realize just how high the odds are and that you mean business!


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mutant Menagerie: Hummingoat (MCC RPG)

Hummingoat: Init +5; Atk headbutt +5 melee (1d3); AC 17; HD 1d4; MV 60’ flying; Act 1d20; SV Fort -1, Ref +5, Will +0; AL N.

If a mutant suddenly feels as if they're being pelted with large rocks, there's a good chance they're being accosted by a Hummingoat swarm. A Hummingoat is a small (2" long), quick bird that appears to have the head of a ram. The Hummingoat's head is topped with two curved stone-like horns, which the Hummingoat uses to attack.

When a Hummingoat feels threatened or intruded upon, it will buzz around the head of the interloper, building up speed until it has reached its maximum movement rate. (To the mutant, it will seem as if a large insect is buzzing about his head.) When its top speed is reached, the Hummingoat will ram itself into the mutant, inflicting 1d3 points of damage upon impact. It takes one round for a Hummingoat to recover after ramming its enemy.

Although this attack may seem easily shrugged off, a Hummingoat is seldom encountered alone. There are usually 2d8 Hummingoats encountered in a swarm. If a party encounters the body of a mutant who appears to have been bludgeoned to death, it's best to be cautious of a potential Hummingoat swarm in the area.

(The Hummingoat originally appeared on this blog as a Mutant Future creature. Stay tuned for more MCC conversions!)

Monday, March 11, 2019

Gary Con Day 4: Weasel Disguises, Daylight Savings Confusion, And Bumper Crunchin'

Ah, the last day of a convention is always bitter-sweet. Trying to squeeze in a few more precious hours of gaming while also packing up everything you brought (and purchased) for the long sojourn home. The final report for the final day of Gary Con will be short, as I only ran one game, and I don't think you want to read about my 7-hour trip home. So, one last time for the event, these are my thoughts and "random encounters" as the day happens. Here we go:
  • This morning's mental arithmetic: "Let's see, I forgot to reset my car's clock before I drove to Wisconsin which is in the Central Time Zone. I'm in Eastern so I...drop back an hour? My phone reset to the correct time, but now it's Daylight Savings, so that's another hour I lost? Or did I gain it? What time will it be when I get home later tonight? Hell, is it Saturday or Sunday?" So I go up at 4:30 a.m. just to be safe, because I'm still not truly sure what time it is.
  • The wind was howling and blowing all night. I was hesitant to look out the window for fear of seeing 8 inches of snow or something. But it looks like all is clear, just windy and cold. I'm from Ohio. I can do "cold" no problem. I just don't want to make a 7-hour roadtrip this afternoon in snow.
  • My pal Justin asked me to pick up the newest DCC adventure for him, so I need to hit the vendor's hall when they first open at 10 a.m. However, my game begins at 10 a.m. right down the hall. I'll need to ask my group's indulgence to start 5 minutes late as I dash up the hall and back to complete my geas. (Now THERE'S a D&D term you don't get to use in everyday conversation!) 
  • Speaking of fantasy tropes, my final playtest game of FORSOOTH! was a rollicking rousing success as we laughed so hard, three players had headaches. (Need to add a warning to the book: Playing FORSOOTH! could lead to brain damage. Play with caution.) Some events of note: The thief disguised himself as a weasel (long story), startling the fighter, who decked him so hard he flew across the room and left his impression on the far wall; while trying to control the mind of a chicken, the magic user failed the roll and found himself body-swapped with afore-mentioned poultry. Sadly, his chicken-minded body tried to take flight and plummeted off the side of a very tall bridge; cleric smites the Big Bad Villain who yells out "Who ARE you people?", followed by the fighter's blows to his face: "What did I do to any of you?", followed by another round of beatings, "DID MY EX-WIFE SEND YOU!?". Every five minutes the game paused while we all caught our breath from laughing so hard. Damn, this was fun both times I ran it, which is what I wanted from this parody RPG. Thanks to all my playtesters!

  • Gary Con's dates for next year have already been announced: March 26-29, 2020. SAVE THE DATE!
  • ARGH. On my way home last night, I got hit by a truck. At a toll booth, the truck (hauling a flat bed trailer) must've pulled too far forward. He tossed it in reverse and backed into me. He paid his toll and pulled forward and (I thought) looked like he was pulling over to deal with this. I paid my toll (very flustered at the time), pulled through...and he was GONE. I drove like hell to catch up, but he must've taken an exit or something before I could find him. Only damage though was to my license plate frame and a small scuff on my front bumper. I got lucky, but I'm still seething over the event. Not exactly a good way to end my weekend...
  • Complaints about my personal bumper car event aside, Gary Con reminds me once again of what I love about this hobby -- the people. All of my players and GMs were top-notch folks. The folks who organize this con do a fantastic job, going far above and beyond to ensure everyone is comfortable and welcomed. Gary Con feels like a family reunion -- with lots more gaming than you get at Gramma's house. I cannot praise the convention enough, and I'll be back in 2020!
Here are a few pix to round out my last report...
Today's Gary Con shirt is one of my own design. Available at my Zazzle page! 

A hush falls over the empty hallways. In the distance, you heard the approach of bleary-eyed gamers. Roll for initiative.
Gary Con just swallowed up the Grand Geneva for four days.
 Upon arriving home, my new Gary Con cap now joins my other gaming caps.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Gary Con Day 3: Overpowered Wineskins And Overpowered Magic Missiles

Day 3 of Gary Con has come to a close early for me as I try to get warm and dry this evening. Had a great time today at this monster gaming event, but my time here is starting to come to a quick end. Heck, even Daylight Savings Time has conspired to take away one more valuable hour of gaming this weekend. Such is fate, I guess.

As usual with these little travelogues, these are my thoughts and experiences of the day's events as they occur. Here we go:
  • On the drive over, I was behind a car with a DCC RPG license plate frame. What made this even better was that the license plate read "TPK". Wish I had been able to meet the driver!
  • As I pulled into the Grand Geneva Lodge driveway, I passed a fairy door set into one of the trees. Charming little touch to the facility and kinda makes it all the better as Gary Con's current home.
  • Today is Hawaiian Shirt Saturday in honor of Gary's favorite iconic shirts he wore. I think more than  50% of attendees (self included) were wearing Hawaiian shirts. There is even a yearly photo taken of everyone decked out, but I was unable to get to the lobby for the photo because...
  • At 10 a.m., I was ready to run a new set of through Dead In The Water, my upcoming adventure for MCC RPG. As before, the team's village was overrun by waterlogged un-dead, but they discovered the Ancient fluid that explodes upon contact with fire! (And, of course, the explosion took out one or two of the 0-level thralls.) Some other scenes of interest: A Great White Gull landing on a victim and tearing off his head; another mutant was bitten by a flying tarantula while 75 feet up a ladder, causing him to fall to his death; and -- most interestingly -- the team had gathered many waterskins filled with that same explosive fluid and used it to great effect to blow up the Big Bad Mutant at the center of the chaos. Never occurred to me that the most dangerous item in the adventure could be turned around and used as the most powerful weapon in the game! Well done team!
  • Right after that game ended, I got to play in DCC RPG "The Corpse That Love Built" run by the adventure's creator Stephen Newton! In this horrific outing, our band learned of missing villagers and hideous experiments in unlife occurring at the mysterious castle on the hill. At one point, my halfling was set on fire. He survived the near-death experience, but was horribly scarred by the experience. After nearly dying at the hands of scorpion-hounds and a screaming lich-like woman, we finally found the mad doctor and his 20-foot tall creation. The "Holy Crap Did That Just Happen" moment occurred when our magic user spellburned 10 points for a Magic Missile spell, then rolled a NATURAL 20! By the time the spell ended, there was 80+ points of damage to everything and everyone we were up against, completely wiping out the threat as the rest of us clapped and applauded. What a way to end the session! Fantastic adventure!
  • When I left Gary Con, it was raining. I mean, it was RAINING. I raced out to my car, but I parked pretty far away so I got drenched. And the temperature is 35 degrees, so it was the barely not-frozen kind of rain that just chills you to the bone. So, although it's a bit early, I'm now in my room in some dry clothes and drinking some coffee as I try to knock away the chill.
  • Tomorrow I run one final game of FORSOOTH! and then my Gary Con comes to an end. I'm to check out and hit the road immediately thereafter, so the wrap-up post will be posted later upon m,y return home. Stay tuned...
And here are a few pix to round out today's report...
Today's Hawaiian shirt selection worn by Yours Truly reflects my love of kitschy Dogs Playing Poker artwork. 

 As proof, this is a picture from my gameroom at home with my Dogs Playing Poker art gallery. Yes, that's an original black velvet painting.

 This one gaming table was filled with folks wearing the iconic Hawaiian shirt.

Here is another group of happy-go-lucky mutants as they try to thwart the threat of Dead in the Water.

Stephen Newton poses with the very copy of The Love That Corpse Built he just spent 4 hours tormenting us with. Fantastic horrific adventure!

Gary Con Day 2: The Tulipak, A Lonely D6, And Exploding Chickens

Typically I wake up after the first day at a convention a bit tired, a bit sore, and a bit hoarse. Not today though, as yesterday's gaming left me excited and ready for the day. Plus today I was rolling out my own brand-new RPG "FORSOOTH!" and I was very excited (and nervous) as to whether it was going to be a blast or a bust. Let's see what today -- Day 2 -- holds for us here at Gary Con!

As usual with these little travelogues, these are my thoughts and experiences of the day's events as they occur. Here we go:
  • Leftover though from yesterday. I had six people sign up, and two on the waiting list for places at the table for my MCC game. When it was time to start, only 5 showed up, and neither of the waiting list folks made it. I had a walk-up for the sixth, but had planned to run eight. So, head up: If you've been placed on a wait list, it ALWAYS pays to stop by the table, even if you didn't get tickets for a game. I could have easily fit those two wait list folks in.
  • Stopped by the DM Lounge for a drink and to kill an hour. Today's movie was Dragonslayer, which put me RIGHT in the mood for some gaming! (Yesterday it was D&D cartoons!)
  • Have I mentioned how much I love Gary Con's treatment of their GMs? The DM Lounge, the travelling DM snack cart, the tableside food service. It all adds up to a pleasant gaming experience for the DM and players.
  • For my first game of the day, I played Eldritch Tales -- a Whitebox Lovecraftian game that I helped edit. I really wanted to see how the game played on the player's side, so I was played Kelly, a former burglar who worked as an assistant for another player's Private Eye. After a rough start where our team couldn't make any connections or find any clues to move the case along, we finally caught a break and were able to track down the cultists in their seaside cavernous lair. Once we tossed in the Molotov cocktail (stopping a human sacrifice), it took the fight right out of the Cthulhu-worshiping villains. It's a great game and highly recommended.
  • In the vendor's room, I picked up a convention-only DCC adventure that I happily scooped up. In another vendor room, I found Offworld Designs selling a shirt nthat was my favorite at one time. I wore it out, and here was a new one! Grabbed it! Finally, I ran into artist extraordinaire Doug Kovacs was selling several prints of MCC module covers! So I now have prints of A Fallen Star for All and Blessings of the Vile Brotherhood to hang in my game room! Thanks Doug!
  • I found an orphaned six-sided dice on the floor in one of the game rooms. I picked it up to give it a good home. Remember if you find any loose dice, don't leave them in solitude. Be sure to adopt them and let them play amongst other dice. (This message brought to you by the ASPOD, the American Society to Prevent Orphan Dice.)
  • That evening, my playtest game of FORSOOTH! got underway and it was arousing success. The game system worked as designed, and my players and I spent 4 hours laughing and hooting as their party (PARTYN) walked through a cliche fantasy world on a Quest To Stop Yet Another Evil OverlordTM. Some highlight included: attacked by a swarm of crazed weasels, during a barfight, the paladin whistled for his horse which exploded into the tavern, bowling over many Evil GuardsTM, exploding chickens taking out the only bridge to The Evil Overlord's KeepTM, the druid turning his tortoise mount into steel, taking out a wyvern with an egg (from the afore-mentioned exploding chicken), and hitting the villain so many times in the head he started screaming "NOT IN THE FACE AGAIN!" It was a rowdy, rollicking adventure and I thank my team of hapless adventurers for making it the great time it was.
And here are a few pix to round out today's report...

I always get a kick out of this Gary Con welcome sign.

Fantastic tabletop battle scenes set up and waiting to action later that day. 

Our Eldritch Tales game about to get underway...

As we ponder who broke into the museum and stole the foreboding Tulipak...

My game of FORSOOTH! that answers the question: What would Lord of the Rings have been like if it had been directed by Mel Brooks? 

Miniature skirmish in the Legends of Wargaming room.

The Legends of Wargaming was fully booked with many mini-wars underway.

 My MCC/DCC goodies, as well as a couple of gaming shirts.

My newly adopted d6. Gave the fella a good home.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Gary Con Day 1: Berserk Robots, Hotel Waffles, And Crazy Yanks!

Day 1 of Gary Con has now come to a close. (For me anyway -- I'll bet there's still a LOT of gaming still going on Out There in Lake Geneva!) I love the fact that Gary Con is the Big Little Convention - it's big enough to have more than you can possibly see and do, but small enough to have that friendly everyone-knows-you attitude. I never feel "swallowed up" by Gary Con, and I was constantly approached by old friends and new ones. I'm having an awesome time -- and it's just the FIRST DAY!

As usual with these little travelogues, these are my thoughts and experiences of the day's events in somewhat chronological, yet haphazard order. Here we go:
  • God help me, but I love hotel waffles. I will never stay at any hotel chain that doesn't offer a make-'em-yourself waffle maker in the lobby for the morning breakfast folks.
  • thoom-thoom-Thoom-Thoom-THOOM-THOOM-Thoom-Thoom-thoom-thoom (This is what my room sounded like all night because I'm adjacent to the hotel stairwell.)
  • I left the hotel wearing only a short sleeve shirt. It was only 15 degrees, and I was just walking to my car, so I didn't bother pulling on my hoodie for the walk. I passed someone outside, bundled up and shivering. "Holy crap! You're only wearing a t-shirt?!?" he shouted. "I'm from Ohio; I'm used to this kind of weather. Besides, I have hoodie if I need it!" He laughed and said "You Yankees are CRAZY!" That's when he walked to his car (Alabama licence plates). He didn't have a frost scraper, so I used mine to get him cleaned up (he thanked me profusely) and we both left to drive over to the convention.
  • Nine out of ten guys here are sporting full beards (myself included). Just a trait I noticed this year.
  • I brought my DCC hardback rules and my MCC hardback rules to get them both signed. I hope I get those quickly because carrying around an additional 70 pounds of books is the PITS.
  • Raced into the Lodge for my first game of the con and one I've been looking forward to for months: a Mutant Crawl Classics game of "Return to the Museum at the End of Time" run by the game's creator Jim Wampler. This is a sequel to one of the first scenarios released for the game. The high points: We found the ancient museum again, but there had obviously been some excavation activity since the last time we visited. We were able to stop a telepathic rat from sounding the alarm (but we accidentally let it fall to its death before we could ask it anything). While exploring, four of our group found a portal that jumped into -- to find themselves 500,000 light years away in deep space. After finding a group of feral gopher-men (the replacements for the dead PCs), we found another machine that digitized another teammate into a living hologram. After fighting a berserk robot, we ran out of time and called the game. It was great fun, and Jim runs a great game. I hope my MCC RPG game tonight runs as well. We'll see...
  • Stopped by the vendor's hall which is MUCH larger than in years past. There is a ton of stuff to purchase, so I need to keep control of myself before I blow through my funds in Day One. But one item I had my eye set on since the announcement on Facebook were the custom-made pens by Jerry Savage. Fantastically beautiful! Worth every cent.
  • I also picked up a large Cthulhu statue for my game room because the Elder Gods demanded it.
  • Some friendly con advice to the GMs and Judges out there: Once your game is done, please pack up and leave the table. Don't sit and BS until your session time is up. Case in point: I got to my table 15 minutes early, and the game at that same table had already wrapped up, but the GM and players sat around and rehashed plot points and adventure scenes as I and my players began to gather. The GM at one point glanced at his watch and said, and I quote, "We still have 5 minutes." At exactly their end time/my start time, THAT'S when they began picking up their stuff to leave the table. So that took 5 minutes, then I had to take another 10 minutes to set up and get the players situated. So I started 15 minutes late. C'mon folks. Don't be Those Guys. If you finish early, please pack up and take the gab session elsewhere so the gang following you can start on time. 
  • My game of Dead in the Water for MCC was a success, even though I had to "railroad" the last 30 minutes to get to the end. My players were doing great, but somehow we were still far away from the Big Climax with 30 minutes left. I made the offer to the players: "OK, we can either stop wherever we end up at end time, or I can fast-forward you through all of the between-scenes and get you to the Big Finish." They elected for the fast-forward, so I described their journey from Point A (where they were stuck) to Point B (where the Big Bad was lurking). With a few well-placed harpoon shots, the Sea-Wraith was defeated! My players also thanked me for the fast-forward because everyone likes to see how the story ends!

And here are a few pix to round out today's report...
 Like I said, I *LOVE* hotel waffles.
 Jim Wampler signed my copy of MCC. He also presented each of us with an MCC button and a Gamma World mini!
 Speaking of Gamma World, I love that the event walls are covered with classic module covers like this one.
 The Gary Con wizard.
 This was a game of TOON in full swing!
 Vendor's Hall up and running. It's about six times the size of this one photo.
 A whiteboard for pick-up games. A great idea to have available so you can get folks to show up after hours!
 Gary Con purchases thus far...
 I adore this pen with the classic iron key for the clip. Made out of cherry and walnut I believe.
 The Table of Honor found at every Gary Con in remembrance of Gary.
 One of the many MANY gaming rooms in full swing!
My wife texted me with "What are you doing right now?" I sent her this picture of my MCC players who all said "Howdy!"

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Gary Con Day 0: My Return Pilgrimage To "Gamer's Mecca"

With every game convention I've ever attended, I have filed a daily travelogue so folks who couldn't make it would be able to game vicariously through my thoughts, photos, and amusing anecdotes. I assume some of you may have thought this blog was dead as I rarely post here any more. Far from it! I admit I have been lax, but tradition is tradition, so I dusted off the keyboard to bring you live daily coverage from "Gamer's Mecca": Gary Con!

This year's event is Gary Con XI, which makes it six years since the last one I attended. (So, this makes me a Level 3 Attendee!) Gary Con is held yearly in Lake Geneva, WI, by Gary Gygax's kids to both honor his memory and as the best way to keep his gaming spirit alive. Four days of RPGs, board games, gamer conversations, movie viewing, and an occasional flagon of Spotted Cow.

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. The con starts tomorrow, but adventures have already begun! Here we go:
  • I have a handheld digital voice recorder I keep in my car for anytime inspiration strikes. I've found that my best writing ideas come during the tedious mindless drives over long distances. I had hoped to fill it with many new concepts and adventure ideas. My first entry was a reminder to mention in this blog post that I have a recorder in my car. Ok, so that's out of the way...
  • Some folks like to listen to music or podcasts as they drive. Me? I filled a flash drive with hours and hours of horror radio shows. I spent 7 hours listening to Lights Out, Inner Sanctum, The Weird Circle, and other terror tales. It's inspired me to get some new Cryptworld materials out there. Stay tuned for more news...
  • Speaking of new materials, at Gary Con, I'm running two games that I'm playtesting for near-future release. One is "Dead In The Water"-- a Mutant Future adventure I've written and run many times in the past. I've been working on getting the stats converted to Mutant Crawl Classics -- a new post-apocalyptic gaming passion of mine. The adventure is written, the artwork is nearly done, and if the game works out over this weekend, I'll submit it to Goodman Games for final approval. Here's hoping! (Also, it's my first time running a DCC/MCC game for the GG Road Trip, so wish me luck!)
  • The other game is a game system built from the ground up. I've always wanted to write a comedy RPG, but humor is hard to do in a game. Either it becomes hokey and cliche-ridden (unfunny) or a yuk-yuk-fest where there is no game, but just a lot of slapstick nonsense (unfun). But I think I finally stumbled upon a game system where the humor is built into the game system itself, so the funny stuff occurs through play rather than by pre-written jokes. I'll explain more on Friday when FORSOOTH! hits the gaming tables for the first time!
  • Ugh, it smells like someone microwaved Mexican food in my hotel room. THIS is why you pack a bottle of Febreeze when you travel, folks.
  • Got over to the Lodge to swing in and pick up my pre-registration materials. And by "swing in", I mean stand in line for an hour. Lots of folks had the same idea I did.
  • Every so often, someone at the registration desk would yell over the din: "HAVE YOUR ID NUMBER READY WHEN YOU GET TO THE DESK!" I then would watch everyone in line taking out their phones to look up their ID number.
  • Got my swag and was starving, so I left to go grab a burger -- one of the delicious butterburgers available at Culvers. I went here the last two Gary Cons I attended, so I wasn't gonna miss out this time!
  • I couldn't figure out why my clocks were off until someone pointed out I crossed a time zone by coming here. No wonder I've been an hour early all day. Better reset my clocks before I miss a game. (And, of course, daylight savings in this weekend, so one day is gonna be chaos at the con.)
  • Booted up Pandora and now am listening to my Dungeons & Dragons soundtracks while eating a chocolate malted and revising my game scripts one last time until tomorrow. Good start.
And here are a few environmental shots I took during the day:
 At this point, I was half-way through the line. The folks facing away are heading toward the reg desk. The folks facing me are behind me in line.

 All of the signage is now up throughout the convention area.

 One of the vendor's rooms currently under assembly.

For any in-room downtime, I brought a few solo-play board games.

 Not Gary Con-related, but it pays to work at a book publisher/distributor on Freebie Friday! (Discontinued stock that was scheduled for disposal.)