Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Running A Con Game Part 2: Table Prep And Behind The Screen

This summer, I offered some advice on how to plan and write a scenario you'll be running at game conventions. Now that you have your new player-killer in hand and folks are starting to gather at the table, let's talk about some advice on how to run it.

1. Provide pregens, and have more of them than your players. At a convention game, you have 4 hours - tops - to run the entire scenario. If you think you'll have everyone rolling up new characters before getting started, think again. Even if everyone at the table is familiar with the system, it'll likely take them 30 minutes to roll stats, look up skills/magic spells, decide on equipment, etc. And if you have a few players who are first-timers, that will add even more downtime. Steer clear of anything that would take away adventuring time and have pregens ready for folks before they sit down. And as an addendum: the players will still like to have some degree of choice as to who/what they'll be playing, so have twice the number of pregens available. If you have 6 players, have 12 (or more) pregens available so everyone has a chance to pick and choose rather than getting locked into "whatever character's left".

2. Bring extra pencils and dice. But keep rulebooks minimal. Although most players who come to your table are super-prepared, there may be someone who signed up at the last minute and/or showed up with a friend who now wants to play in your cool-looking game. Make sure you have some extra pencils and dice for this late-comer so they're not trying to borrow off of the other players at the table. But conversely, try to keep rulebooks and other tomes away from your table during play. The GM should be the only one who needs to look anything up (and honestly, you shouldn't have to look anything up if you're duly prepared). There may be some table or bit of minutiae to clarify, but you should be prepared to make rulings on the fly rather than get bogged down trying to find Table 3.24 on page 232 just to look up appropriate Exit Wound Size. (And don't let any player bring out a rulebook to debate a ruling you just made. Shut that down ASAP.)

3. Keep track of time. You have 4 hours to run the game, and you don't want to run out of time before finishing, nor do you want to reach the end way ahead of schedule. So keep an eye on the clock while you play. You can use a watch or a timer on your phone. I prefer to use a kitchen timer behind my screen so that I know how much time I have left at a glance. I can use this to gauge my timing of events as we play to ensure we reach the endgame before time runs out. At the 2-hour mark, we should be halfway through the adventure. If not, I start altering future scenes to speed things up (lowering the number of monsters and/or goons or bypassing entire scenes if they don't contribute to the overall scenario). If we're running fast, do the opposite and add a few extra monsters/scenes to slow them down. You also want to try to finish a few minutes early so you can say your goodbyes, thank you players, and clean up the table for the next game. Nothing more frustrating than waiting for folks to clear out from a game that ran long and is now starting to eat into your time. So don't be that person and wrap up on time or earlier.

4. Protect your voice by staying hydrated and have some lozenges. You're gonna be talking a lot. And your voice is gonna be a bit hoarse after that first game. But you have another one to run later that day. And the next day. And the next day. And if you're in a crowded gaming hall, you might be shouting over the din. You'll want to protect your voice as best you can. My suggestion is to have a bottle of water behind the screen and sip from it every so often, even if you're not thirsty. Keep those pipes moist to counterbalance all of the air you're throwing over them. Secondly, I have a pack of sore throat lozenges at hand that I'm constantly munching on. This helps soothe your throat before it gets too sore. I've found that a lozenge every hour or so during gametime keeps you from losing your voice before the convention ends.

5. If you must take a break, have only one, and keep it 5 minutes max. Four hours is a long time at the table, especially if everyone is chugging water, energy drinks, etc. Although folks will often be engaged and will want to keep playing, it's usually a good idea to stop at least once at the halfway point to allow folks to run to the bathroom and/or stretch their legs a bit. However, you don't want to lose too much game time and you certainly don't want to play sheepherder and try to round them all up, so set a firm time limit of 5 minutes on any breaks. After 5 minutes, pick up where you left off regardless of who's back, and have the stragglers join the game in progress. (And do not, under any circumstances, let anyone race to the vendor's room to "pick something up". Nine times out of ten, they'll never return to the game.)

6. Have some swag or takeaway for the players. It's always a nice gesture to have something to give to the folks who decided to take a chance on your game. Some game companies, like Goodman Games, provide swag for those who run their games. Stickers, note pads, quickstart rules, pencils, dice, etc. remind folks of the fun they had and may prompt them to buy the game and run sessions of their own. I admittedly go a bit overboard with my swag and have had custom dice, supplements, and other giveaways printed up for folks. One year I gave away mini-multitools like the ones found within the scenario I ran. (And this year's convention swag is a very special "parting gift" from one of my NPCs!) You don't need to have anything this fancy; heck, a bowl of candy on the table as you play is a nice gesture for gamers to refuel as they head to their next game.

Stay tuned for "Part 3: Tips and Tricks for Surviving Your First Game Convention" in a future missive from The Savage AfterWorld!

Thursday, October 6, 2022

[GameHack] Kut-Up The Klown: A New Killer For Final Girl By Van Ryder Games

One of my favorite hobbies is playing boardgames. One of my favorite side-hobbies is tinkering with or adding new elements to those same games. I'll create new content or rules for them, or sometimes I'll tweak the game's components to make the playing experience more interesting. Today's project describes a new killer I created for Final Girl by Van Ryder Games.

A quick overview: Final Girl is a solo player game where you try to survive the onslaught of a crazed slasher from straight out of the movies. In fact, Final Girl is very modular with a variety of different final girls, slashers, and locations you can mix and match. In Season One, you have killers such as the masked cannibal, the puppet master, the poltergeist, nature's avenger, and the dream doctor. However, my favorite slasher genre is the killer clown (or "klown" if you will). So, using a basic template and limiting myself to 27 playing cards, I decided to create my own slasher. The following is a playtest photo montage of Kut-Up the Klown!

Meet "Kut-Up the Klown"! (Once called the Killer Kannibal Klown, until some folks pointed out the unfortunate "KKK" abbreviation. Cards have been updated since this photo was taken.) Whether he comes from outer space or the sewers, this creature's rictus grin and maniacal laughter freezes its victims in their tracks!

Where else but at the Carnival of Blood would be appropriate? And of course, Kut-Up pops out of the clown car to begin his rampage...

...running over to attack Laurie as she tries to get her bearings in all the chaos.

Some victims found themselves huddled in The Big Top. But then, EVERYONE ran there for cover...just in time for Kut-Up to bounce in and slaughter a few innocents. He then left to stalk Laurie...

...only to change his mind and pop BACK into the Big Top to kill more victims! Meanwhile, everyplace NOT in the Big Top, Laurie was saving everyone she could.

Kut-Up had taken a few hits from Laurie, but when his Dark Power was triggered, it was all undone due to his "magic trick" and he healed to full!

Laurie was one saved victim away from getting her bonus, so she sprinted across the midway, grabbing the last victim and getting them to the exit.

As long as she kept her strength up, she could use the sledgehammer versus the crazed clown, dealing an additional 4 points of damage! No more victims on the board, so time to go hunting...

Did I say no more victims? Well the next Terror card I drew was discarded if no victims on the board. Drew the next and it was discarded because there were no traps in the item discards. The NEXT card I drew was either take damage or lose victims! Since there were no victims, I took 3 damage! And it was the last Terror card, triggering the Finale!

Th-th-that's all folks! Kut-Up flew into a rage, but Laurie was safe on the other side of the midway. She was able to heal up before he came charging at her. (And no victims on the board kept the bloodlust track from spiraling out of control.)

They traded blows under the ferris wheel, but Laurie's retaliation kept sending any damage dealt back to Kut-Up. Then Laurie landed a furious strike with the sledge, doing 6 points! She lost a bit of health due to the use of the sledge, dropping it to the ground. But Kut-Up was defeated for good.

And there you have it. A custom deck of 27 cards brings a new killer to Final Girl! (You'll have to go find an evil clown mini of your own!)

Kut-Up the Klown can now be downloaded at Board Game Geek in the Final Girl Files section. Click here for the link!

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Monthly Mutant Mayhem Online: "Weed World" 2nd lvl; Oct. 30, 11a-3p EST

It's time again for Judge Sniderman's Monthly Mutant Mayhem! Each month I'll be running an online MCC game on Zoom for the first five sign-ups through the Goodman Games Road Crew Events scheduler! This month is "Weed World", a 2nd-level MCC adventure! (I originally wrote this for Mutant Future.) This game will be run October 30 from 11:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST.

Within the last month, the growth of vegetation has accelerated, threatening to overrun your post-apocalyptic village — and Terra A.D. itself! Does the legend of ‘The Devil’s Greenhouse’ hold the key to humanity and mutant-kind’s survival?

Monday, September 26, 2022

Inaugural Road Crew Game Day In The Books! And Next year, It's WAR! (of the Cyclops Con)

This past Saturday, Goodman Games rewarded their hard-rolling judges by hosting the first-ever Road Crew Game Day! This free event was open only for members of the Road Crew - those folks who have taken time to run a game (or games) for public consumption. The Goodman Crew run a fine online event -- as their numerous Cyclops Cons and DCC Days Online have shown. And having a mini-event just for the folks who run and promote their game lines was a nifty idea and much appreciated.

I had the opportunity to run my upcoming "Mayhem on the Magtrain" MCC adventure for a party of eager Seekers who managed to defeat the S'kwik menace while trying to stop a runaway locomotive. (The rover also learned to listen at doors before swinging them open.) It was a great final playtest and I'm glad the players had fun.

I also got the chance to play, and my long-running cleric Jarrod Theodyne found himself in the middle of a Secret Playtest run by Brendan LaSalle himself! I'll steer clear of any spoilers, but this was for an upcoming holiday adventure. The only spoiler I'll toss out is that you should prepare yourself for some sad, depressing, heart-rending situations. (One player's background had Bambi's mom -- yes, THAT scene.) In spite of the soul-crushing depression, we laughed our keisters off and saved the world. Great time, and I'm looking forward to seeing the final adventure!

The evening wrapped up with a Twitch show discussing the day's events and some upcoming goodies for the Road Crew to be aware of. (Take a gander below for info.) Great time, and I appreciate that Goodman Games hosts such events for the folks who keep the tables humming. Thanks!

And now, howzabout some pix?

A team of Seekers find themselves hurtling across Terra A.D. in "Mayhem on the Magtrain"!

Some "Armageddon Barbarian" cosplay

Road Crew judges will have access to an exclusive adventure next month! Want it? Join The Crew!

And in 2023, it's WAR (of the Cyclops Con)!

And speaking of "War", this will be the perfect opportunity to unveil a project I've been working on for a while...

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Wicked Weaponry: Chain Whip

Weapon: Chain Whip

Damage: 1d6 (melee)

Range: up to 20'

Cost: 10 gp

Description: The chain whip is a long length of metal chain attached to a handle used as a weapon. Often used in martial arts, a chain whip can also be used as a standard melee weapon. It comes in many configurations; sometimes ending in a pointed dagger for additional slashing damage, or perhaps covered in blades, razors, and barbs.

Regardless of these adornments, the chain whip is treated as a hand-to-hand melee weapon, but it has a range of up to 20 feet, allowing a user to make a melee attack versus a ranged opponent. A chain whip does 1d6 damage to a target, which may be adjusted by the judge depending on any additional adornments added by the PC. However, due to the unwieldy nature of the chain whip, if a user misses their target, they must make a DC 7 Ref save or they will injure themselves instead. 

A chain whip can also be used to entangle a target instead of damaging them. The user must declare they are attempting to entangle their opponent prior to rolling. (Treat as an opposed grapple check using Agility modifiers.) If successful, the target is entangled (grappled) and cannot take any significant action until freed. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Road Crew Game Day Sept. 24 - Final Playtest Of Mayhem On The Magtrain

This Saturday, Goodman Games is rewarding their hard-rolling judges by hosting the first-ever Road Crew Game Day! This free event is open for members of the Road Crew - those judges who have run a game (or games) for public consumption. So if you've run a game at a game store, convention, or other public venue and you're a member of the Road Crew, this day is for you!

Been too busy running games to play? Well then, several Goodman luminaries and writers will be hosting games just for you to play! I personally am looking forward to finally sitting at Brendan LaSalle's table and seeing what insanity he unleashes upon his players! (And if you have time to sit at my table, I'll be hosting one more MCC playtest session of Mayhem on the Magtrain before it's sent off to the printers.) See you this Saturday!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

[Samson Sunday] Savage Menagerie: Mole Monster

Mole Monster: Init +3; Atk bite +4 melee (5d6); AC 14; HD 4d10; MV 40' burrowing; Act 1d20; SP searchlight eyes; SV Fort +6, Ref +0, Will +4; Crit M/d10.

Searchlight eyes: The mole monster's eyes emit a nigh-intensity beam of light that blinds its victims for 1d6 rounds unless they make a DC 12 Ref save to cover their eyes in time.  

Mole monsters are giant (20' long) subterranean burrowers descended from ancient digging mammals. The mole monster is a social beast, rarely found alone. If a seeker encounters one mole monster, it's safe to assume there is a nest of 2d6 within the area. Due to its size, a mole monster is a destructive creature as its tunneling will cause large sections aboveground to sink into the earth. Entire villages have been swallowed up as they vanished into the depths below the earth.

A mole monster's muzzle has several claw-like fangs that it uses for digging. However, tese dagger-like teeth can also be used to bite and rend a victim for 5d6 hp of damage. The mole monster has also developed a pair of eyes that illuminate the darkness, enabling it to see. However, this emitted light is so bright, it can overwhelm the eyesight of those who see it. Unless the target covers their eyes in time (DC 12 Ref save), they will be blinded for 1d6 rounds as their eyes readjust to the darkness.

NOTE: This creature was inspired by the tale from Issue 7 of "Mighty Samson." Stay tuned each week for Samson Sunday!

Saturday, September 10, 2022

[Review] Twisted Genomes: Wasteland Mutations - 400+ New Mutations!

Many of the post-apocalyptic RPGs we love have it right there in the title: Mutant Crawl Classics, Mutant Future, Mutant: Year Zero, Mutant Chronicles, etc. We love our mutants and their mutations, but the scant tables and listings in these RPGs often don't allow for much variety (MCC has a little over 100 mutations in the core book - and a quarter of them are defects!) If you want to truly warp, twist, and mutate your games with a wide variety of new mutations, I suggest you check out Twisted Genomes: Wasteland Mutations by Dungeon Remixer.

Written by Derek Holland, who has produced a ton of content for post-apocalyptic games over the years, Twisted Genomes offers more than 400 new radioactivity-triggered, genome-twisting powers to bless (or curse) your Blasted Earth denizens with. The front of the book initially covers three different categories: physical, mental, and plant-based mutations. At the start of each chapter is a table that lists the mutations within and to allow the judge/player to randomly roll their mutations. And these are not your standard Mind Blast or Telekinesis abilities. For example, Fleshreader lets you read the thoughts of a being just by coming into contact with a piece of that being. Spider Palm lets you detach your hand and control it like a familiar. Body-warping abilities like Facial Shift and Flexible Skeleton are here, as well as truly bizarre powers like Barf Guts and Bubble Blower. Several of the mutations also have their own sub-tables allowing for even more variation.

Each mutation throughout the hefty tome (150+ pages) is nicely described with at least a full paragraph explaining how it is triggered and what its effect would be. A good amount of spot art throughout helps to illustrate several of the abilities. Rounding out the book are two appendixes. The first appendix contains alternate and expanded rules for several of the mutations, as well as advice on creating your own. And although Twisted Genomes was written for Gobinoid Games' Mutant Future, the second appendix contains conversion guidelines and notes on how to implement these new mutations in other RPGs, including -- yes -- Mutant Crawl Classics. 

I will likely get a lot of use out of Twisted Genomes, both as a resource for new PC/NPC mutations as well as for inspiration for some truly horrific mutant beasties in the future. ("The creature's spilled blood coagulates into small biting flies which begin to attack as well. Roll for new initiative.") This mutation resource book now has a place of honor next to my well-worn copy of The Metamorphica. Judge Sniderman says, "Check it out."

Sunday, August 21, 2022

[Review] Aeon: Ancient Greece - Adventures In The Epic Greek Mythos

 "Sing, oh Goddess of The Good Old Days, when adventures were underground, arms and armor were bronze, and heroes were destined to die the glorious death of a warrior!"

Aeon: Ancient Greece is a series of DCC-compatible zines by Sharktopus Games that places your adventurers squarely in the middle of every Greek Mythos epic ever written. Toga-wearing heroes fight against fickle gods and mythological monsters in a Homeric epic! If you've thrilled to the "sword and sandal" genre of Clash of the Titans or Jason and the Argonauts, you'll want to delve into this series.

Thus far, there have been three issues of Aeon released (with a fourth now Kickstarting for a few more days). I love the way each zine slowly builds upon the genre adding more to the mythos (ha!) with each new issue.

Issue 1: The Labyrinth of Daedalus starts with character generation, letting you create your own Hercules, Theseus, or Jason. A full list of Grecian names, occupations, birth augurs, and Bronze Age equipment round out the first half. The second half throws your zero-level PCs right into the infamous Labyrinth, where only the most heroic for deeds allows for escape! A list of inspirational books and films rounds out the issue.

Issue 2: Deeper Into the Labyrinth expands upon the original adventure, but really shines when it introduces the Greek Gods (i.e., the Olympian Patrons) to your game. Six Olympians, each with their own Invoke table and special spells and taints await their faithful worshippers. And if you displease them, prepare to embark on an epic purification quest on their behalf. And a few of the Heroes of Greece await to bring your PCs on one of their epic quests! 

Issue 3: Monsters of Myth throws 36 creatures out of Greek mythology into the mix. Of course there are cyclops, harpies, and gorgons, but there are far, far more lurking in the shadows!

I really love the way each issue expands upon the DCC game system by introducing more aspects of with each volume. If you just wanted to introduce the Greek Pantheon into your games or expand your monstrous threats, you could pick up the issue that interests you. But if you wanted to run a full Greek epic that will be sung by Greek choruses in colosseums throughout the isles, you'll want to get them all!

The fourth volume of the series, "The Halls of Hades", is currently on Kickstarter for the next week and a half. This issue takes you into the Underworld of Hades itself. Cross the River Styx, fight Cerberus, and maybe - just maybe - bring someone back from The Land of the Dead!

I truly am a fan of Greek mythology, and this fun series of sourcebooks brings The Iliad and the Odyssey to your game table. Judge Sniderman says, "Check it out."

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Country Meat-Grinder Classics 1 & 2 At DTRPG In Both PDF And Print

The newest offering for my "Country Meat-Grinder Classics" series is now available at Drive Through RPG in both PDF and print!

Country Meat-Grinder Classics is inspired by the grindhouse horror “hicksploitation” films of the 1970s and 1980s! With a few tweaks to genre details, these horrific backwoods adventures can be used in any number of ways in your own DCC RPG games: these townsfolk could easily be found nestled in DCC’s Shudder Mountains or possibly along one of the trails of Weird Frontiers. The denizens within wouldn’t even be out of place in the post-apocalyptic future of MCC’s Terra AD!

“In the past, the Hellsons were good charitable folk, feedin' the hungry and shelterin' the poor at their homestead. They say a witch done hexed 'em for it, and now nobody goes there anymores. They even say weird critters done been seen lurkin' in the woods near their farm. And now, folks're startin' to turn up missin'. It jest may be time to pay the Hellsons a visit..."

This is a 2nd-level adventure for 4-6 players and is $1.99 for PDF, $5.00 for print.

"Well, I swan...this season’s been a rough ‘un, what with alluva crops gone sour with that corn blight what’s been runnin’ wild through the county. But enough of our miseries! I cain’t wait to git to the Addersbrook fair and relax fer a spell! Get me some good eatin’ and listen to a tune or two. And if’n we’re lucky, maybe Junebug’ll be there with some of his pa’s hootch!"

This is a 1st-level adventure for 4-6 players and is $1.99 for PDF, $5.00 for print.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

A Glimpse Into My 1982 Villains And Vigilantes Campaign

My folks are cleaning out their house after 40+ years, getting getting to put in on the market. Apparently, my mom discovered an old folder tucked away in some forgotten closet. This folder contained notes, pictures, and sheets for several Villains and Vigilantes bad guys I cobbled together while running The Great Supervillian Contest, which I discussed on this blog. I'll likely put these up individually in the weeks to come, but for now I wanted to share this glimpse from Days of Roleplaying Past...

Let's see, from left to right: Mystic, V-H1cLe, Delver, The Apparition, and Rook.

And as an extra special bonus, the first-ever sketch made of Puzzler by my teenaged hands. I may have mentioned him once or twice here on this blog...

Thursday, August 11, 2022

[MCC RPG] Savage Menagerie: Cranium Crab (AKA Deathcrab)

Cranium crab: Init +0; Atk claws +2 melee (1d6); AC 14; HD 1d8; MV 30'; Act 1d20; SP mutation check +3 death field generation, disintegration; SV Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +0; AL N; Crit M/d4. 

Cranium crabs are large hermit crabs who, due to their size, use empty human skulls as their shells. A cranium crab is a dull, speckled grey and tan in color, although the bleached white skulls they carry with them stand out in stark contrast. Cranium crabs are found near large bodies of fresh water, though they can also be located near rivers, lakes, and even ponds. Cranium crabs are also found in regions where many deaths have occurred, such as battlegrounds, graveyards, ruins of large cities, etc. The creatures have determined that, at such places, there is an ample supply of skulls with which to make their homes. In combat, cranium crabs attack with their claws for 1d6 hit points of damage.

If a cranium crab is in need of a new skull yet cannot locate one laying about, it will make one. A cranium crab will lie in wait for a humanoid to pass by. If it sees a victim with an appropriately sized head, the cranium crab will trigger its death field generation mutation. If the target falls, the cranium crab will wander over to inspect its prey. If the target is still living, the crab will attempt to hurriedly finish off its victim while they lie unconscious. Once assured the victim is dead, the cranium crab will then activate its disintegration ability, causing the victim's flesh to flake away and turn to dust, leaving behind the victim's skeleton. (The effect is much like a fazer pistol attack, pg. 172, MCC RPG rules; however, the crab will NOT use its disintegration ability offensively!) The cranium crab will then shed its old skull and move into the new one immediately.

If a band of mutants come across several headless skeletons with empty skulls laying nearby, it's a safe bet they've entered an area craniumcrabs are frequenting. They'd better hope none of the cranium crabs are in need of a new home and lurking nearby...

(The Cranium Crab originally appeared on this blog as a Mutant Future creature!) 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

MCC Playtest Online: "Mayhem On The Magtrain" 2-lvl funnel; Aug. 28, 11a-3p EST

It's time again for Judge Sniderman's Monthly Mutant Mayhem Online! This month, I'll be running a playtest of an upcoming MCC adventure "Mayhem on the Magtrain"! This is a 2nd-level adventure and will be run online via Zoom August 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST. (Click here for info on signing up.)

It’s thrills on wheels as the Seekers find themselves trapped aboard a runaway train! The robotic conductor has lost contact with its engineer subroutine, so it falls upon the “stowaways” to stop their out-of-control journey. All that’s standing between them and victory is a train filled with hungry mutant worms, a railcar threatening to jump the tracks, and a sentient AI who refuses to be deactivated! Stow your luggage overhead and buckle up for a wild journey across Terra A.D.!