Thursday, October 31, 2019

Gamehole Con Day 1: Grinding Snow Plows And Horrifying Monsters

Howdy everyone and Happy Halloween! This morning, I awoke to a noise I equate with the slightly chilly fall season -- that of a snow plow scrapping the hotel parking lot. That's right, the first official day of GHC was hit with about an inch or two of snow overnight. Being from Ohio, I'm always prepared for this sudden winter squalls, and my car already holds my thick winter coat, a pair of gloves, a toboggan cap, a heavy-duty snow brush for the car, and a dog sled and team in the trunk.

But this bit of "winter preview" isn't about to dampen my excitement for today's gaming! Let me tell you about my day. As always, these notes are "train of thought" posted throughout the day to the blog, then it will go live later tonight when the day ends. In no particular order:
  • I have an Internet TV hookup in my hotel room, so I booted up Pandora while I got ready. First song of the day? John Carpenter's Halloween theme. How incredibly apropos!
  • Speaking of hotel, where I'm staying has a "green initiative," so each day you do without housekeeping services, they give you a $10 voucher for the restaurant. So, I'll make my bed each day and hang up my towel. When I leave Sunday morning, I'll have enough for a free pancake breakfast in the restaurant. (I eat pancakes EVERY SUNDAY. It's my own personal thing.)
  • When I got to the convention center, it looked like there were a lot of people who hadn't gotten there quite yet due to the weather. Unless you stayed at one of the nearby hotels, you were likely caught by the sudden snow that blanketed the area.
  • Speaking of the weather, the most popular cosplay costume was "Arctic Explorer". In fact, today would have been a good day to run a Call of Cthulhu "Mountains of Madness" game!
  • Okay enough snow and weather-related BS. The con eventually picked up, and the lines for registration began to snake around. I hit the Dealer Hall and was gratified to see my MCC RPG offering "Dead In The Water" at the Goodman Games booth. Bit of a thrill there. I also spent a LOT of money there picking up all the new DCC RPG stuff as well as filling a few holes in my collection.
  • Argh, one of the booths has a great copy of Magic Realm, a game I've wanted to add to my collection for years. But the asking price is $150, so it's a bit steep. Still trying to talk myself out of it, but I may break...
  •  Even with the snow (last mention, I swear), it was great that the food trucks were still serving up some mighty fine grub. I had a bacon and egg panini for breakfast, a slab of mac and cheese pizza for lunch, and a take-and-go burrito for dinner. The food trucks are a great idea so be sure to support them!
  • To keep my first day schedule light, I decided to run a couple of rounds of my current favorite board game, Horrified. I ran two teams through the game, which is based on the classic Universal Monsters property. The European village is being overrun by horrific creatures of legend: Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein and His Bride, The Wolfman, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Invisible Man. The players must work as a team to thwart the threat before the monsters do enough damage to the villagers (and the players). The first group easily defeated Dracula and The Wolfman in a simple novice game, but when a third monster was added to a second game, they were swifty defeated. The next group tackled Dracula and The Wolfman as well, but they nearly lost after a series of close calls and bad dice rolls, but they came out on top as well. It's a great board game and it was a great (and appropriate) way to end Halloween gaming!
  • Forgot there was a trick-or-treat event for the local kids. The place was FILLED with trick-or-treaters in their Halloween costumes. It was cute! So, of course, I forgot to take any damn pictures...
  • Well, tomorrow is a big day, as I'm running three back-to-back Mutant Crawl Classics games -- all of them are adventures I wrote! Here's hoping they go well. (And here's hoping the aspirin I took before bed kick in. I'm sore.)
And here are a few photos to round out today's missive:
Today's t-shirt pays homage to "Tales From the Magician's Skull", a great magazine of sword and sorcery fiction. You should check it out.

The view from my room this morning. Eep.

This morning's "getting ready to game" soundtrack!

 Board game room starting to fill up.

 Folks in line for pre-registration.

 My MCC RPG adventure available in the Goodman Games booth.

 I love the fact that there's a constant scrolling list of games looking for players happening that hour. If you can't find anything to play, it's your own fault. Just stop by information, watch the screen, and run to the tables listed to get in a game right that very minute. (Great idea, GHC staff! Kudos!)

 One team of heroes tries to thwart the evil creatures stalking the streets in Horrified!

And a big ol' pile of DCC RPG goodies begins my daily purchases for the event. Oh, my wallet's gonna be feeling THAT.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

[MCC RPG] "Dead In The Water" 0-Level Funnel Adventure Now Available

Over the years, I've led many post-apocalyptic mutants and freaks across The Rainbow Sea to The Island of Fire aboard Capt. Laird's seaweed-encrusted ship. Now, I hope many, many more make the voyage!

Dead In The Water is an adventure I've written and run for several years at many conventions and home-based games. However, it has never been committed to print for any specific RPG system...until now! With the approval of Goodman Games, Dead In The Water has become the newest adventure available for the Mutant Crawl Classics role-playing game of post-apocalyptic adventure and mayhem.

Mindless, water-logged abominations have been coming ashore, attacking fishing villages along the coast of The Rainbow Sea, then dragging their victims off to a watery doom. Your ragtag party of post-apocalyptic Seekers have been tasked with stopping the invasion. Perhaps the answer can be found on the legendary Island of Fire.

Dead In The Water is compatible with the Mutant Crawl Classics Role-Playing Game. Dead In The Water is a 0-level funnel for 12 to 16 starting characters. (Although it can easily be adjusted for 1st or 2nd level PCs.)

Dead In The Water is now available in PDF and print at Drive Through RPG, in print in Lulu, and it will soon be available at the Goodman Games webstore and at their booth at conventions and such.

I'd like to thank all of you who playtested it over the years and I hope you all had fun. And to those of you who have never ventured into the village of Narleen or faced The Drenched? Climb aboard and set sail for gonzo adventure!

Gamehole Con Day 0: Housefly Transport And Cryptworld 1-on-1

Annnnnd...I'm here in glorious Madison, Wisconsin, for my first Gamehole Con! Those who've read previous posts from The Savage AfterWorld know I'm an old hand at game conventions, but this is the first year I'll be attending GHC. (I missed last year's GHC due to a death in the family. The GHC folks were kind enough to credit my account for next year's event -- which is this one!)

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. 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 the adventures have already begun! Here we go:
  • The drive out to Wisconsin was appropriately spooky for the Halloween season. When I left Ohio, it was mysteriously foggy out. And to put myself in the mood, Radio Classics on Sirius XM was playing nothing but horror radio shows like Lights Out, The Inner Sanctum, The Hermit's Cave, etc. I really wish I had scheduled a game of Cryptworld for Halloween while there.
  • While passing through Indiana, I passed a semi-truck from Beech Bend Amusement Park. This little amusement park in Kentucky was a HUGE part of my childhood. We used to go there all the time when I was around 6 or 7 years old. Here it is, 50 years later, and seeing this truck brought back a TON of nostalgia. Need to try to get back there as an adult.
  • My wife has had a really bad "cold" for the last 72 hours, and I've been gargling Clorox bleach to try to keep it at bay. Got a text on the road that it was actually a sinus infection, which isn't contagious. So, bad for her, but YAY, I won't come down with something while I'm at GHC!
  • There was a fly buzzing around the interior of my car since leaving Ohio. As I passed into Wisconsin, it landed on the window, so I rolled it down and sucked him out. Sorry Wisconsin for introducing an Ohioan insect into your biosphere.
  • I learned that a roadsign that says "WARNING: STANDING WATER AHEAD" can be rephrased "YOU'RE ABOUT TO HIT A LAKE DOING 55 MPH". 
  • I had no idea I would be passing within spitting distance of Lake Geneva on my way here. The directions to Gamehole Con could be paraphrased as "Go to Gary Con, then hang a right."
  • Had my first salt truck sighting of the season. I'm from Ohio, so these are common -- but not for another couple of weeks. 'Tis the season...
  • Stopped by the Center and got all of my pre-gen stuff. Seems like folks are milling about and getting prepped for tomorrow. I also dropped off my new MCC RPG adventure "Dead In The Water", which will be on sale in the Goodman Games booth tomorrow...and elsewhere online! (Announcement coming up in just a couple of hours!)
  • Argh, I was planning on running a pick-up Cryptworld game here at my hotel for some folks. But the front desk tells me the open gaming room isn't available until Thursday. Instead, I ahd one person show up, so Christian and I headed up to my room where I ran him through a 1-on-1 adventure versus the horrors in Vinton Hills Metropolitan Hospital in "Condition Critical". I also gifted him with a armload of swag. Hope you enjoyed the game, Christian!
  • Tomorrow I have nothing scheduled until the afternoon when I'm running folks through several games of Horrified: the Universal Monsters Boardgame by Ravensburger. Thought this would be a fun low-key way to start my convention (and get in some gaming of my own that day!)
And, as always, here are some photos from today's sojourn and adventures:

Beech Bend Park! Good lord, did this bring back memories!

 View from my room at the Sheraton. Gamehole Con is in the building across the street. Hold on, I'll zoom in...
 There you go. That's clearer, isn't it?
 Swung by the Alliance Energy Center and grabbed my badge and swag, so I'm all set for the games to begin!
 Holy crow. Snow. Here we go.
And my badge, shirt, and schedule lie in wait for tomorrow's events to begin in earnest.

Hittin' The Holiday Road To Gamehole Con!

As this post goes live (6:00 a.m. EST), I'm in the Wagon Queen Family Truckster heading to Wisconsin and Gamehole Con. I've never attended this convention before, so I've packed up the computer and camera for plenty of daily updates and pix. Stay tuned to The Savage AfterWorld for live coverage from sunny (and snowy) Madison, WI!

And, as is tradition in the Sniderman household, all road trips begin with this song blaring from the MP3 player. It's a tradition, and one that you'll now share. As you listen to this, I will too as I hit the Holiday Road to Gamehole Con!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

[MCC RPG] Mutant Menagerie: Clotted One

Clotted One: Init -4; Atk unarmed +2 melee (1d4) or +4 melee by weapon type; AC 18; HD 2d10; MV 15’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +5, Ref -3, Will +2.

A Clotted One (insultingly referred to as a "Scab") is a mutated human who appears to be covered from head to toe in a leathery, glistening hide. This "hide" is actually made of the Clotted One's own coagulated blood. Due to this "hypercoagulation" mutation, the creature's thick, syrupy blood hardens into a tough, copper-red crust upon contact with the air. This scab-like skin surface (which never sloughs off) gives the Clotted One its natural armor protection.

Because the Clotted One's blood clots so quickly upon being wounded, the creature's healing metabolism is constantly working, allowing an injured "Scab" to heal 1d8 hit points overnight. (A Clotted One cannot regrow limbs in this manner though.) However, due to the thickness of the creature's blood, its metabolic processes are drastically slowed as its heart works to pump the viscous fluid through its veins. Clotted Ones move very slowly, reflected in an initiative penalty and movement rate. The nerves near and on the surface of their skin have  been deadened over the years, so they are also insensitive to pain and often unaware of when they've been hurt or wounded. (Although any injuries are immediately scabbed over as their healing metabolism takes over.)

A "Scab's" blood can also heal 1d8 hit points of damage if gathered quickly from a fallen Clotted One, rubbed on a PC's wound, and allowed to crust over. However, because the mutant's blood dries so quickly upon contact with air, there's no known way to "harvest" and store the creature's blood for future use.

Not much is known about Clotted One society as they avoid contact with outsiders (who view them as monsters anyway). Those who do venture into a Clotted One village will see that many of their traditions involve bloodletting and a "Church of Hematology." For example, upon birth, a Clotted One's parents will begin slowly scraping at the newborn's skin with thorny branches and sandstone in a ritualistic ceremony. Although this appears cruel and sadistic, it is the fastest way to bestow the protective armoring to the child.

Friday, October 25, 2019

[Cryptworld] "Creepy Comic Conversion" Issue 4 Now Available

Halloween is right around the corner, so it's time to curl up in your coffin and curdle your blood with a new comic from 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 22-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.

Presenting Issue 4 in the "Creepy Comic Conversion" series, this time featuring "The Thing in the Pool" from Tales of Horror Number 2 (1952):

In "The Thing in the Pool", four people have suspiciously disappeared without a trace from a recently constructed house at 55 County Road 810 in Loomis, Connecticut. Sebastian Corday, the architect of the home; George and Ann Winsor, the new residents there; and Keeto Murillo, the groundskeeper of the residence, were last seen at the house a week ago. The players are tasked with investigating the grounds and determining the fate of the victims, but where could they have vanished to?

Issue 4 of the "Creepy Comic Conversion" series is now available in PDF at Drive Through RPG! (Full-color print copies will be available very soon there too!)

Thursday, October 24, 2019

[Review] The Great Escape By Zadorf Games - A Solo WWII Prison Escape Card Game Allied soldier jumps out of a nearby hole, knocks dirt off his shoulder, looks around nervously, and then pulls you in close...

"Listen up, 'cause I ain't got much time. I just escaped from Stalag 12 and the guards'll be looking for me any second now. We prisoners trained for this day by playing The Great Escape by Zadorf Games. I suggest you grab a copy so you can be ready when it's your turn. Great, it sounds like they released the dogs. I gotta go!"

The Great Escape is based on the exploits of POWs during WWII as they escaped from enemy encampments and made their way across the countryside toward freedom. In this great solo card game, you're playing the role of Escape Officer, trying to help as many of Your Boys escape as you can. A lot to expect from 48 cards, but The Great Escape pulls it off nicely with clever 3-stage gameplay.

In the first stage, you're digging three tunnels from the barracks in three directions. The objective is to build at least one tunnel of 10 cards in length to go under the wire. The center of each card shows a tunnel schematic, either empty, propped up, or ventilated. Every third card must be propped up, and every fifth card must be ventilated. And the final card of the tunnel must be propped up. You deal cards one at a time building your tunnels trying to meet the building objectives. Meanwhile, cave-ins, guards, and spies hamper your efforts. You may end up with all tunnels caved in or discovered, and the game ends! If you can get at least one tunnel built, the game moves to stage 2...Escape!

All cards played thus far are swept aside and you play with the remainder of the deck. You begin dealing down, revealing prisoner after prisoner, each with their own set of escape tools, papers, and disguises. With each prisoner revealed, more are escaping the camp. When a Guard appears, the tunnel has been found and sealed! And stage 3 begins...Avoiding Capture!

The prisoners revealed are laid face-up in front of you. The remaining deck act as the guards who have now scattered across the countryside looking for the escapees. The bottom icon of the cards reveal the guard's actions for that turn. If there's a train, they're checking the train stations, so any prisoner holding a ticket is caught. Remove those and reveal a new guard. Compass? Any prisoners heading in that same direction are recaptured. Dogs? One random POW is brought back. A radio? Any spies in your group turn in THREE prisoners! When the deck is depleted, any prisoners left have managed to avoid the guards and escape! Count up your score, and try again.

The deck is half the size of a regular deck of cards, but there is a LOT of action and replay in this game. I like how the game is only just starting if you successful build a tunnel. And even then, there's no guarantee that you'll win! (All of my prisoners were recaptured and brought back to camp.) The game is extremely portable with tons of action, and will likely be one of my go-to travel games. The Great Escape by Zadorf Games is only £7.99 with FREE UK delivery; for the rest of the world, it's £10.99 (around $14). Go get a copy for yourself. We'll meet up on the other side of the fence. Good luck, soldier.