Saturday, September 25, 2010

Algol Monster - Zoanthropes

# Encountered: 1-20
Armor Class: 9
Movement: 120
Hit Dice: 1+1
Attacks: Bite 1-4 and club
Special: +4 on saving throws versus fear and mind affecting or controlling effects.
Intelligence: Semi- (but cunning)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Size: M
Morale: 11
Treasure: Nil
One of the punishments inflicted upon criminals and rebellious slaves involves the surgical replacement of most of the subjects glands and brain tissue, as well as the cranial structure, with that of beasts. The result of such union is a being less than the some of it's parts. These beings, the zoanthropes, are  violent, savage, malicious, near-mindless bestial things. By instinct they gather in rude packs in the wastes and wilds; when they come upon other beings they set upon them to murder, rape and feed. They are filthy and naked, males always tumescent, unable to use any tools aside from rocks and crude clubs. The are completely unmanageable and will follow no leader aside from their savage pack mentality. Zoanthropes are often used as gladiatorial fodder.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hiero's Journey, Dune and Further Musings Regarding Clerics

So I've been getting ready to read Hiero's Journey again, a buddy and I were talking about it and how great of an example of a D&D Cleric he makes. And it makes D&D sense, with high level clerics being better fighters than fighters, Hiero is a stone killer on account of than.

Another great example of a genre literary example of a possible cleric is the Bene Gessit of Dune. I guess the weirding way is another example of the fighting capabilities of a high level cleric. Plus, they totally use the Command spell!

I haven't been keen on the idea of the Cleric class and their ability to cast spells due to divine intervention; I very much prefer the idea of the true attributes and even the existence of deities in D&D to be ambiguous, with exceptions for immortal God-Emperors, blasphemous thing from before time and the like. Although I though it was total horseshit when I first got Menzter Basic D&D and it said that clerics may derive their powers from philosophies or something along those line, nowadays I like the idea of magic powered Clerics belonging to esoteric-ish sects that imbue their members with preternatural abilities via intense training and conditions, preternatural abilities. A lot of cleric spells could be seen as psychic abilities, unlocked via the secrets of one's order.

Of course with my two examples above there's conflicts withe the traditional clerical prohibition against edged weapons, and the ability to turn undead (although one could argue the Hiero may have turned/destroyed an undead in the Palood), but my current simulacra of choice, LOTFPWFRPG, solves that conundrum.

When thinking about the prohibitions against edged weapons it's interesting to according to LBB OD&D that magic swords are explicitly restricted to fighters, I see it as a bit of genre protection for Fighting Men. The only mechanical effect of weapon restrictions for clerics (and magic users) is that they don't benefit from those sweet magic swords!

Perhaps the eldritch emanations from magic swords suffer interference from the magical auras of spell-casting characters, and are disabled in their grasp...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An OSR Product I'd Like To See

I'd like to see a book of sandbox settings, similar to Points Of Light, but:

A) Ranging all over the place genre-wise, such as Mesopotamian, Sword & Planet, weird western in the vein of Stephen King's the Dark Tower, Transylvanian style gothick horrere, Lovecraftian colonial, fantasy Africa, Polynesian, native American, Viking Scandinavia, post-apocalypse, pre-Colombian mesoamerican, ancient India, southeast Asia, Atlantean, Rientsian gonzo fantasy, space station, age of cavemen and dinosaurs, etcetera, et al.

B) Being more "complete" with support material for the respective settings such as: one page dungeons, encounter tables, bestiaries, spells, equipment lists, and so forth.

Not only would this be a great resource for new campaigns but it would be great for extra planar travel, areas off of the known world of your campaign, other planets, cherry picking content for a campaign, and so forth.

Imagine such a product with the contributors being an all-star cast of OSTites!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Playing D&D in Public with Strangers

Last night was the scheduled bi-weekly Planet Algol game in association with Red Box Vancouver, during the previous week a new guy showed up on the RBV forums:
"I have never played any sort of tabletop rpg but have always been curious about it. The extent of my dnd knowledge is rooted primarily in Neverwinter Nights and the sequel for PC. Is there a place around town to welcome strangers such as myself? I would also mention that I'm 29, hopefully that isn't too old to start…"
The next RBV game was the aforementioned Planet Algol game, so I invited him to come down and attempted to hook him up with an intro to the setting and a list of influences, his reply?
"...I'll read up on my Heavy Metal on sunday and fast forward through Flash Gordon to any part where Queen is singing the theme song."
Dude owns a copy of the Flash Gordon movie?!?! He sounds like a natural for this campaign!

Anyways, Monday night rolls around and I head down to the RBV hangout...a hive of scum and villainy (actually a nice coffee shop that kindly puts up with our shenanigans). I try getting there early and don't see any of the RBV regulars when I get there but soon a stranger comes up and asks if I'm Blair and the new guy and I get down to business.

We start up generating a character and he's taking to this stuff like a fish to water. He rolls 3d6 down the line and end's up with a character with a 3 intelligence! We're using the LOTFPWFRPG which states that if a character has a sum ability score modifier of less than zero than they can reroll their statistics. To his credit new guy actually almost went with the 3 intelligence character, he seemed almost enamored with the idea! The next set of ability scores included an 18 wisdom...this guy runs HOT and COLD!

At this point nobody else has showed up. One of the regular Planet Algol players from the original campaign who made it to the previous RBV PA game "had made plans"; the RBV guy who instigated my involvement had to go see some boring lawyer dude go "Blah Blah Blah"; and the other RBV guys who played at the last RBV-PA game had their characters iced, so now I was wondering if it was just going to be us two?

I momentarily considered just chatting a bit, showing him how to make a character and talking about the game; but than I slapped myself in my imagination "Pull yourself together! If JB Blackrazor can play with one guy in A FREAKING BAR I can certainly DM-up and give 110% for this stranger who's interested in playing oldschool D&D; think of the future generations it in the memory of TARGA!"

So I proceed at RAMMING SPEED! (which really only meant that I got him to roll up what kind of funny-colored Algol Man he was and helped him buy equipment...the poor guy only rolled 50 gp for starting money...what an introduction!)

Than RBV stalwart DM & owner of a wardrobe full of Converge shirts Johnstone shows up; he's sick, with a nasty flu/cold that I just kicked, but he's here to game...he even did his awesome funny voicesrole playing, even though you could tell it was hell on his throat!

As Johnstone's character had been rendered unconscious by the guardians of the Autarch's Voluptuary during the previous adventure, and I had written up content for exactly that kind of situation, we played for a bit to resolve what happens with his captured character. Although the dude didn't get anywhere, it seemed to serve as a great demonstration of play for the New Guy (who is named Cam; I'll just call him Cam from here on).

Johnstone rolls up a new character, and makes him a three eyed, scaly, creepy Shereshi; Cam goes with a Cleric (I relented on my NO CLERICS! policy on order to give Raggi's game a good test drive; at least in LOTFPWFRPG they aren't better fighters than fighters, and there's no weird "priests of the god of swords who can't use swords" phenomenon, although those rules are probably just a legacy of attempts to keep OD&D magic swords in the hands of Fighters...) and had chosen to randomly roll his race...a fire newt/toad pigmented Shuzakh Man.

The game starts and I dangle two solicitous who leads to the Autarch's Voluptuary (the site of Johnstone's previous unfortunate adventure), and the other who leads to THE ASTEROID!
The party takes the bait of THE ASTEROID! adventure and off they go.

Like I said Cam was a natural, although I'm not a "ROLE-PLAY or you're PLAYING IT WRONG!" guy in the least, he immediately was thinking and acting "in character," while Johnstone is an awesome ham...shredding his poor sick throat for the sake of the show!

At this point I'm going through the poorly organized sheafs of papers, maps and booklets in my "grief-case" and I realize...I had forgotten the map I made for THE ASTEROID! adventure!

I had ran the same adventure with the original Planet Algol group the previous day, and I had the map key and notes, so I decided TO FREAKING GO FOR IT and try and replicate the map from memory while acting like nothing was wrong.

Fortunately Johnstone had a coughing fit or something, and said that he had to run home and back, which would only take 10 minutes. I live in the neighborhood as well, so I explained my predicament to Cam; dashed home; grabbed the map; got suckered into taking my dog out for a quick potty break (she hadn't pooped all day so I was worried about her dropping a bomb!), and dashed back to the coffee shop.

The party explores THE ASTEROID! and survives "splitting the party" (new guy is new and Johnstone is a man of sterling integrity playing a character with a 7 intelligence), finds the strange ruins, and eventually find some loot...some sort of fancy silvery rifle. Cam shows his steel and immediately grabs the rifle!

Like I keep stating, this guy is a natural: the NPC that instigated THE ASTEROID! adventure came along (he needed some muscle for his exploration) and soon Cam was planning on how to ice the NPC for the sake of a better loot split.

Alas, shortly afterward the party has a Random Encounter! with the randomly rolled Maximum Number! of savage degenerates. Cam's character calmly shoot one of the degenerate creeps down with his fancy new rifle; unfortunately he doesn't use his memorized Sanctuary spell before the party is mobbed by the savages and his cleric is rendered unconscious by the repeated application of human thigh bone clubs to his person.

The two survivors flee to a safe distance and see that the creeps are hunched around their prone companion, so they start plinking at them. The creeps fail a morale roll and split the scene...while dragging the unconscious cleric with them, and get away. However, the surviving PC is gratified to see the fancy new rifle lying on the ground and snatches it up before the two survivors split and attempt to make it back to civilization.

I gotta say Cam was a great sort about his fallen PC; first time playing a pen and paper rpg, first character, and he totally isn't fazed and takes it in stride. He even makes some (accurate) cannibal comments/jokes!

At this point things are looking pretty grim for my NPC...Johnstone's character has the rifle and some fancy hepatizon and ruby jewelry looted from the ruins; the NPC offered to lead the party to THE ASTEROID! in order for a share of the profits, and you can just tell he's scheming on when to ice the NPC.

Fate intercedes when the duo reach the fringes of civilization...a Random Encounter! with a three cheap thugs who look to be aiming to get that fancy hepatizon and ruby harness. This actually is kind of a blessing in disguise, as when combat ensues it allows Cam to play the NPC during the fight.

Alas, Johnstone's scaly freak is stabbed into unconsciousness and the Cam-piloted NPC (which was a hobbit sized Pulvi) is picked up and cast into a bottomless pit...although his head is dashed into paste by a collision with a ledge 100' below.

Death #2 for Cam...and again he isn't fazed; in fact again he seems amused by the circumstances of his any red-blooded D&D player should be!

And Johnstone's Shereshi? He comes to with his wrists bound and wearing a slave collar in a slave pen while a slaver is paying several gold credits to two cheap thugs, one wearing a hepatizon and ruby harness and the other carrying a fancy silver rifle....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Solomon Kame vs. Nyarlathotep

This is a campaign idea I've had kicking around for a couple of month that I'd like to run, but would much rather play in!

The Ingredients:
The Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy RPG
One of those epic Chaosium world-sprawling Call of Cthulhu adventures such as Masks of Nyarlathotep
And run it like a D&D game, with the time period being sometime in the 16th, 17th or 18th century.

Now I gotta see if I can find a copy of the 2e "A Mighty Fortress" sourcebook ...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kirk vs Cthulhu, Asteroid Adventure, Imaginitive Monster Lists, Stat Inflation, Intelligent Magic Items, and Music

I received some great comments regarding my off the cuff "Just Imagine" Kirk vs. Cthulhu post; two dealt with past efforts in that direction:

From DearGod:
"I once began running a CthulhuTrek game. It only lasted a couple sessions--mostly because school and work broke up the game night.

In my game Dagon had granted the deep ones knowledge of space travel. I had the players come across a derelict ship that was completely flooded with water. The deep ones knocked out the ship's shields, uploaded a virus that caused the replicators to mass-produce water, and then transported on to the ship to steal away all of the humans to sacrifice them to their fish-gods."
From Chris Hüth:
"A few years ago, when I was more enthused about 'running' Beyond The Final Frontier, I started writing an article on exactly this topic, called 'The Doom That Came From Space' or something like that.

The first part was ideas for converting Call of Cthulhu adventures to Star Trek, including series outlines for SoYS and MoN, and talking about horror in Trek, both in running it and examples of it from all the series (and negotiating the humanism-antihumanism Trek-HPL divide in tone).

The second part was conversions, revisionings and fittings of CoC things into Trek (including examples of mi-go spaceships, sinister interpretations of regular Trek species (like why the Breen wear suits), and episode outlines for each. I've got a few crazy ones (The Ruins of Aldebaran III and 65 Million Years To Earth) I still really want to run.

The SFier interpretations of Mythos elements in Trail would also be a big help here, especially for stripping out the cliche cultist/tome parts where they don't fit." 
As a relevant aside, I believe that one version of the Star Trek rpg used 3d6 stat & percentile skill system that at first glance looked to be quite compatible with Call of Cthulhu...

I've been working on a new Planet Algol adventure/"dungeon"; this one is set on an asteroid and is very influences by 60s & 70s television & movie sci-fi such as Star Trek, Doctor Who and Space 1999. Hopefully my players will take the bait tomorrow...

As part of the research for this project, I dug up some great OD&D monster lists from fellow OSR bloggers I remember really liking, and it would be despicable of me not to share them with you guys (nevermind having a compiled set of links for use in my own game):

From Aeons & Auguries: Lunar Encounter Tables.

From Sham's Grog 'n Blog: The Dismal Depths Bestiary; More Monsters; and Even More Monsters.

Dig those terse/spartan stat blocks! Especially compared to the sprawling 3rd/4th edition monstrosities, although I wish they had treasure type and morale scores ;) Not to be an edition-jerk, but it's a lot easier to write up monsters when you just need to come up with a couple of reasonable numbers as opposed to figuring out ability scores and calculating ranks in basket-weaving.

This brings to mind something I've been meaning to blog about for a while, the "stat inflation" in D&D over the editions. Reading the monster design booklet in the LOTFP referees booklet really hammered in how it may not be the best idea to inflate a creatures AC, HD and attacks; I know some B/X and AD&D monsters kind of become ambulatory tree-chippers with their multiple attacks as compared to OD&D versions, and things get crazy with 15 hit-die humanoids with armor classes of 33 in more recent editions.

This is mitigated by the inflation in stat bonus; weapon specialization; larger hit dice for PCs; more magic bonuses, and the like as D&D changed from OD&D, but I'm really coming around to the OD&D-ish paradigm of less bonuses. It makes for a faster game with less "processing cycles" needed for both the DM and players to do the math, and as long as the numbers are less for both the monsters and PCs everything should work out fine.

I've been thinking more about magic items, some of it inspired by reading about the awesome-sounding Dicitionary of Mu. I'm thinking that you have the awesome weapons and armor made by ancient master trademen using skills lost to modern man, such as Wolfe's Terminus Est; than you have the mysterious technological items, "sufficiently advanced to be indistinguishable from magic" such as the Eyes of Tekumel; and than you have the capital-A Artifacts, often intelligent and aligned, the sort of things that were wielded by legendary warlock-villainsm or are extradimindensional beings bound into a physical item, such as Stormbringer or the Shining Trapezohedron.

I haven't been posting much about music lately, which is practically criminal on my part. I've lately been revisiting a past obsession of mine, the Sun City Girls, instigated by Planet Algol campaign participant Pete's introduction of the Sublime Frequencies "Cambodian Cassette Archives" into Planet Algol background music rotation.

While reading about Sublime Frequencies releases I investigated Group Doueh, which plays some absolutely sublime Moroccan guitar freakouts!

I also read about the Sun City Girls-related Master Musicians of Bukkake. In the past, not knowing much about them, I dismissed them due to their name; but Fat Cotton told me about a great show of theirs he saw, and when I found out about the Sun City Girls connection I had to check them out..and I'm very glad I did, I highly recommend them to anyone into ritualistic/trance-inducing weirdo music!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just Imagine...

...In the interstellar gulf of space, against a backdrop of a lurid purple and blue nebula, a bloated, plastic, tentacled, green, blasphemous form floats, propelling itself through the void by the flapping of tattered, membranous wings.

In the foreground lies a starship, dwarfed by the obscene titan, "Enterprise" on it's hull...

...on the bridge the crew a horde battles of phantasmagoria; scaled, snakey man-like things; slimy, hunched frog-fish men; pink, winged arthropods. "These creatures are highly illogical!" the Vulcan exclaims between phaser blasts.

Kirk double judo chops the Mi-Go before him in it's "shoulders" and it crumples to the deck; over the intercom he cries "Scotty! Are you still there?"

"Aye captain, enginnerin' made short work of these fey beasties!"

"Full power ahead Scotty! Full power ahead!"...

...The Enterprise accelerates forward towards Cthulhu; tentacles severed by the saucer-hull go spinning off into space before the starship plows into the looming, hideous bladder-like head.

Jets of disgusting green gases burst outwards at Cthulhu's mass deflates...

Man, I would love to play in a campaign like that!

Random Intelligent, Aligned Magic Items

As I mentioned previously, I've been musing about aligned, intelligent magic items. Now this is more of a thought experiment that anything I'm planning on using in any of my regular games, but would be awesome for a Rientsian/Arduin/Encounter Critical gonzo one-shot!

And the more I think about intelligent, aligned magic potions the more I like the idea!

Anyways, here's two such items I randomly generated using the magic item & intelligent sword procedures from the Expert & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules...

Basic/Expert Item:

Potion of Speed
Intelligence: 12
Powers: Read Magic, Detect Magic(1/round), Detect Metal(1/round), Detect Sloping Passages (1/round), Levitation (3/day)
Method of Communication: Speech
Languages: Lawful + 2 more
Alignment: Lawful

Advanced Item

A Potion of Extra-Healing was the first roll; although I dig intelligent potions, I'm going to re-roll until something else comes up. 3 more potions and a scroll come up before I hit:

Chain Mail +3
Intelligence: 12
Abilities: Detect precious metal, kind and amount, in 20' radius.
Communication: semi-empathy
Alignment: Neutral good

There's a lot of potential for humor here...intelligent armor that can detect gold and silver, but is good aligned and would not cotton with robbery, burglary and the like. It's too bad it can't talk, "Sorry Darth Conan, I refuse to detect precious metal an account of your unscrupulous behavior!"

I also dig the super-powered Potion of Speed...that's some serious booster-juice!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Aligned Magic Items Idea

Especially if you are using the Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic alignment system, but what if every magic item was aligned, the same way all magic swords in OD&D were aligne?. Even potions. Maybe when you used a potion,for the duration your alignment changed with appropriate behavior? Or you could just take damage, or have a varying duration dependent upon alignment differences. Most magic items, ring, axes, helmets, staves and so forth, would be aligned, and possibly intelligent with attendant ego scores, psychic powers, and so forth.

It strikes me a somewhat genre appropriate...the sorcerous gear of a blasphemous warlock corrupting those who dare use their foul magic; the holy relic inspiring the bearer; an enchanted wine-cup making the owner abandon their former 'good' or 'villainous' nature for hedonism. You could emulate that by having some, many or all aligned objects follow the AD&D procedures for 'personality conflicts' and ego score for swords; and that section of the Dungeon Masters Guide does seem to conflict with the previous rules for hit point damage accrued for holding a weapon of incompatible alignment.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lessons I Learned Playing D&D Last Night

I. Pools are evil...

We see, at the fringe of our torchlight, a pool in a chamber.
Me: "I don't like rooms with pools in them; they can hide something big! Is anyone crazy enough to want to investigate this?"

II. If it looks like anything like a dragon assume it's a dragon...

Several deaths later, "yep...that serpentine, six-legged reptile was indeed a dragon!" At least the only non-henchman dead character belonged to the player that wanted to check out the pool...

III. Meta-gaming can always be justified

The DM was dangling a plot hook involving an island; Me: "Islands are trouble; there's always something dangerous on them. Small islands are worse as there's a higher ratio of danger to real estate."
The DM: "Hey...enough with the meta-gaming!"
Me: "My character just paid attention to the legends of Ulysses and Sinbad...he KNOW'S islands are BAD NEWS!"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Master Musicians of Planet Algol

The musical instruments of Algol Men are generally constructed of brass and/or steel (although primitive people make due with organic materials such as gourds, bones, vegetable fibers and resins) resembling Earthly sitars, tablas, vibraphones and panflutes, although they vary wildly in size.

Quality instruments have hollow chambers that have had resonating crystals cultured within them; these function as amplifiers and can also radically affect the sounds produced by the instrument, varying according to the techniques used to culture these resonating crystals. Master instrument artisans jealously guard the secrets of their crystals and produce instruments with startlingly distinct qualities.

Algolian singers often utilize a wide variety of abstract elements such as droning; throat singing; glossolalia; guttural utterances; moans; wails; screeches; and screams.

The following is presented as an example of Algol Man folk music of the prosaic, traditional mode:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Quick Little Choose Your Own Adventure Regarding Monsters, Meta-Gaming and Role-Playing

The Dungeon Master:
"Although inexperienced, you're party is armed, brave and eager to make a name for themselves. You cautiously enter the dungeon. You're flickering torchlight reveals a tall, hunched, skinny figure, with warty, rubbery green skin; a long nose; black pits for eyes; and writhing black-grey tendrils for hair."

If you draw your sword and attack go to 2
If you throw a flask of oil at the creature and ready your torch in an attempt to set it on fire go to 3

The Dungeon Master:
"You rush forward and slash a deep wound into the green monster's torso. Ropy, writhing guts are exposed...however the wound doesn't bleed and begins closing up. You continue hacking at it to no avail, it's wounds healing before you're eyes. Soon you're head has been ripped of and the monster is feasting on your guts."


The Dungeon Master:
"Whoah there Ted...that's out-of-character knowledge! This is a role-playing game; not a meta-gaming exercise!"

"Are you kidding me? It's a troll and fire is the only way I can hurt it."

The Dungeon Master:
"You're character would have no way of knowing that as he has never encountered trolls before, and he wouldn't even know it was a troll; you're practically cheating!"

"What the hell!? I didn't spend that time rolling up this guy and buying his equipment...and "talking" to your imaginary NPCs in that imaginary tavern only to throw this character's life away for the sake of method-acting!"

The Dungeon Master
"Fine, if you're going to meta-game you'll just have to deal with a substantial experience point penalty for this session"

"For fuck's sake Bill, I'm pretty sure if I lived in a world with trolls that ate people and were only hurt by fire it would be pretty fucking common knowledge that you would defend yourself against them with fire; there would be fortune cookies that say "wise man say if you run into a big, skinny, green freak set it on fire before it eats you!""

The Dungeon Master
"Ted, you're a friend, but if you're not going to play properly perhaps this isn't the group for you..."

"You didn't have a problem with my meta-gaming when you were stuffing your greasy face with those chips I brought!" *storms out of the house*

Thursday, September 9, 2010

When I Grow Up I Want To Be Like Jeff Rients...

"Looking for some weird science fantasy adventure roleplaying in Vancouver, British Columbia? I currently run a Planet Algol game using Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role Playing every other Monday with Red Box Vancouver. Or just shoot me an email at planetalgol AT gmail DOT com."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Some Cool Stuff Forthcoming; Working On Introductory Algol Adventure; & Red Box Vancouver

Holy freaking crap, Geoffrey McKinney, the genius responsible for Supplement V: CARCOSA, is working on another awesome sounding campaign setting booklet that is supposed to be " outre mingling of D&D and Clark Ashton Smith."

As well, Aos of The Metal Earth has stated "...eventually in an explosion of hubristic abandon, I'll release a digest sized book for The Metal Earth." Man, that book is going to have some killer illustrations!


Now if only Gabor Lux/Melan would translate the rest of the Kard & Magica/Fomalhaut material into English. From what I could figure out via an online translator, there's a hell of a lot of very cool monsters and items in that Hungarian text!

Anyways, I've been working on writing & playtesting an introductory Planet Algol adventure, "The Autarch's Voluptuary:"  
"A remote, small, agricultural dome inhabited by virtuous plebeians; terrorized by small humanoids...but is there something sinister behind these raids? Their caves are but a short distance from the virtuous outpost..."

Fuck. No. It's something absolutely different..although it is a "dungeon." I have several goals with this thing:
  • Presenting an atmosphere of "baroque decrepitude" and insight into the nature of the civilization of Algol.
  • An attempt at avoiding traditional D&D adventure cliches.
  • Emulating classic genre greedy fortune seekers bringing their doom down upon themselves.
  • Ripping offPaying tribute to Gene Wolfe's post-historical literature.
  • And Weird-Fucking-Shit.

Half of the time I'm thinking it's coming together; the other half of the time I feel like it's a sloppy, inelegant, contrived trainwreck-abortion of a mess. Which is good, hating my creation motivates me to hammer and burn the impurities and weakness out of this thing!

This past Monday I also DMed a Planet Algol session with the Red Box Vancouver crew trying out the LOTFPWFRPG rules (which are quite elegant!); I really dig this local Red Box thing! A year ago I would have sworn that there would be no way in hell that I would ever play or DM in a public place like a coffee shop; now I'm DMing in a neighborhood coffee shop, not even knowing who is going to show up, and my only concern is that the radio is on the godawful new-country station instead of the oldies channel!

As always with Red Box Vancouver I had a great time killing two PCs, and I wholeheartedly recommend others to:
  • Drop in if they're in the Vancouver area
  • Check out their own community's equivalent if they're not in the Vancouver area
  • Or start their own local, open, Red Box group equivalent.

As I said before, if we want old-school D&D style gaming to survive, we've got to do our part to help the hobby and community grow and flourish.

Now who am I going to rope into "trying out D&D" next?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gharhions, Pulvi and Shereshi - Algol Reskins of LOTFP Demi-humans

As I'm using the LOTFPWFRPG rules for my second Planet Algol game, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to "reskin" the LOTFP demi-humans into Algol-appropriate beings.

A variety of vat-grown synthetic humanoid engineered by one of the Ancients' civilization for demanding subterranean labour on such projects as mining, construction and the like. Gharhions are man-sized, but broad, massy and flabby, possessing over-large hands and feet. Their skin is dead white and bears a film of protective fluids; their appear to have no necks, with their large head sitting directly on the shoulders; they are hairless with large, solid black orbs for eyes.
Gharhions are treated as Dwarfs from the LOTFPWFRPG.

An inhuman race of small wasteland scavengers, most do not know what the Pulvi look like due to their habit of being constantly garbed in robes of drab colours with their cowls over their heads.
If disrobed (something they will never consent to around non-Pulvi) they are revealed as long-limbed slender beings with shaggy, matted gray fur that has oily iridescent highlights of purples, greens and blues. Their fur conceals most of their features aside from several (four to seven) spherical orange eyes irregularly spaced about the front if their heads. They speak a high-pitched, chittering language.
Pulvi are treated as Halflings from the LOTFPWFRPG.

Rumoured to be an unnatural hybrid of some Elder Race with Man, the Shereshi are a somewhat man-like race with hairless, finely scaled green skin; six fingers and toes; no external ears; fine white hooked fangs in their lipless mouths: vertical slits for nostrils; a narrow, pointed skull; narrow, black, slit-pupiled eyes with golden irises; and a third eye in the middle of their foreheads. They have a thin, transparent green slime for their bodily fluids. The Shereshi possess a natural affinity for sorcery. Some claim that they are related to the Yilim; although they share certain physical characteristics, Shereshi bristle at such suggestions.
Shereshi are treated as Elves from the LOTFPWFRPG.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Further Digest Sized Booklets & Support Your Local Independant Print Shop

The top of the two pictures shows both the Encounter Critical box set that Lester/B. Portly gave to me, and the two Lamentations of the Flame Princess booklets I had made for me at a local print shop. The second pictures shows my current collection of digest sized booklets, as well as my sleeping 200 year old black lab/pit bull and my dirty sneakers.

As I mentioned before, imagine the Rient-sian madness possibilities involved in randomly pulling booklets out of a stack of such digest-sized treasures to determine the contents of a campaign.

I still need to get digest sized versions of Exquisite Corpses; Empire of the Petal Throne; Arduin I, II & III; Necronomicon; Labyrinth Lord; Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion; Gamma World; Metamorphosis Alpha; Miscellaneum of Cinder; Terminal Space; etc, et al. One of the "holy grails" in my digest quest is an original edition Random Esoteric Creature Generator; I'd rather to have a small, portable copy than a bunch of fancy borders and Goodman Games Kobold clip art, not to mention that creepy mantis-deer-naked girl cover!

I visited one of my local, independent print shops to order to have the Lamentations of the Flame Princess books printed, and the gentleman also offered to fold and staple them for me! I found the rates very reasonable (far cheaper than buying my own ink cartridges!), the level of service exceptional, and I will definitely make a point of patronizing this fine establishment in the future (even if I can do a better staple job at home).

Post # 401: The Return

I've got a good feeling about things.

Lamentations Of The Flame Princess Weird Fantasy RPG appears to have been a runaway success (Raggi's running out of boxes...).

The Necromancer has reanimated and Frog God Games is going to be publishing and promoting Swords & Wizardry.

Labyrinth Lord has released the means to run a simplified version of AD&D that's pretty much in line with the way a lot of folks played it.

We've got lots of great adventures and multiple magazines supporting old-school versions of D&D, as well of all sorts of wonderful supplemental material.

The "Public Red Box" meme is spreading and seems to be working.

My prediction? 2011 is going to be the year that things really blow up!

Sure, it'll never be like the glory days of the 70s & 80s, but wheels are in motion; folks are getting fired up; things are definitely happening.

As far as I'm concerned, this may be the best era so far for old-tymey D&D.

And I'm all about keeping the momentum rolling.

Now what I'm saying here is nothing nobody else hasn't said more eloquently before, but, if you have any interest in the return and growth of this aspect of the hobby, we gotta:

Keep finding new players. We've got to provide them with a supportive yet challenging experience. Lapsed D&D players; non-gamers with "genre" interests; computer/console RPG players (and there's millions of those out there!); friends; co-workers; kids. We've got to keep on pushing a pulling. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I believe that we have a great, fulfilling, social activity that'll turn a lot of folks on.

And we've to not only cultivate another generation of players, we also have to cultivate a fresh, new crop of bright-eyed, enthusiastic Dungeon Masters.

Do you know a players with an interest in DMing? We have to encourage and support them, turn them on to the great resources and wisdom available. Get them a copy of Swords & Wizardry and show them how easy it can be to Dungeon Master; turn them on to all the free retro-clones and online resources available.

That's one advantage old-school versions have over the "modern editions"; you don't have to be an accountant-cum-lawyer to run an early version of the game, as long as your somewhat creative and organized, it can be a snap.

That's something we need to communicate, how simple it can be to run or play these games.

If we want this movement to flourish we've got to lose any tendencies to be insular; to be cryptic; to be fussy.

So, if you want, I heartily encourage you all to keep finding new players; participate in your local "open/public old-school game movement" or help start one up in your locale; and encourage and cultivate a new generation of DMs.

This is something good we have going, something real, something vital. Keep the fire alive and game on!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Public Algol Game & The Autarch's Voluptuary

Next Monday, September 6th, at the Waves Coffee House located at Broadway & Spruce in Vancouver/B.C., the Red Box Vancouver crew and I are getting together for a public Planet Algol game, using the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role Playing Game as the ruleset.

I'm pretty excited about this: I love DMing; the Red Box Vancouver crew are a great bunch that I love playing with; I get to try out the appealing LOTFPRPG system; it'll be a completely different DMing scene from the bong-littered basement of the regular Planet Algol game; and, as a change of pace, it gives me an opportunity to perhaps playtest some Planet Algol adventures & dungeons as opposed to the picaresque hexmap meanderings of the regular Planet Algol game.

I've been brainstorming up an intro adventures for this first session, and this is what I have come up with (very inspired by the pitch for Jeff Rients' Big Dumb Tekumel con game):
"Agog, the Immemorial City of the Controller, is strictly divided into sectors: The Xenon District, where outsiders and merchants mingle; The Reactor Sector, where the Technocrats of Agog labour with the cyclopean ceramic and alloy engines of the Ancients; The Aerie Sector, where Oligarchs and Aristocrats dwell in their palaces upon towers of ancient, tarnished girders; The Golden Sector,  where the Controller, Exarch of the Iridium Plateau holds court in his Golden Ziggurat; and most mysterious of them all, the Voluptuary Sector.

The Voluptuary Sector consists of a massive dome, coloured in swirls of violets and ambers, caked with dust. It is said that it contains pleasure palaces and gardens of the Autarch himself, although it is widely unknown when last the Autarch visited Agog City.

The Voluptuary Sector is an especially forbidden region of Agog City, with trespassers threatened with public impalement; regardless of legal retribution, tales of the synthetic guardians of the Voluptuary Sector deter most thieves and explorers, while the rest are said to be never seen again.

You have been contacted by one who claims to represent a rich Agogi Oligarch that is offering a significant reward of 5,000 virgin gold credits for a certain erotic hepatazon idol, "Ecstatic Trembling Within Writhing Tentacles," that resides within the Concubinatory of the Voluptuary Sector. This representative also claims to possess knowledge regarding a secret entrance to the pleasure dome and how to avoid it's guardians."
So if you're in the Vancouver area and want to drop in for a game, drop by Red Box Vancouver to Penetrate the Autarch's Volupturary...