Monday, July 22, 2024

VENGER CON III: The Heccaeity of RPG Conventions (part one)

 

Playing things by ear, spontaneous, improvised, whatever the moment calls for... this is the Venger way, both the convention and myself.

I make plans, just like everybody else, but as we all know, the universe has its own way of influencing what shall be - unburdened by what has been.

I ended up running less than I thought I would, and not exactly the games I assumed.  I prepared 3 original Cha'alt adventures, ran 2 of them and 1 Call of Cthulhu type scenario.  I never go into VENGER CON expecting to play anything specific.  

This weekend, I played in Judd's Alpha Blue (sleazy space opera RPG) game and Roger's Cha'alt game.  I'll do my best to report on all the sessions I was involved with (and provide pictures - all the pics worth developing are also on my Twitter account with the hashtag #VENGERCON).

Let me say now, before I forget, that the hotel was down right amazing.  Everyone mentioned the upgrade from the first 2 years.  It was just so much newer, luxurious, and more beautiful than your average hotel.  Many attendees raved about it.  I don't think we can go back in quality, so will see what I can do about reserving space again next July.

Attendance was up from the VC1 and VC2, both at attendance of 25, to 30.  Full disclosure - I needed 40 to break-even, but at least I can write-off the loss (sold a few Cha'alt hardcovers and softcovers, as well), and if we can get  40 or 50 attendees next year (which I definitely think is possible), it'll be worth it.

I was gifted the Dallas television roleplaying game boxed-set, and was determined to incorporate some of its themes, rules, and lore into at least 1 of my Cha'alt sessions, which I did.  Thanks for that, hoss!

After banging the ceremonial gong [video of that], opening the way, I gave a little talk on heccaeity or thisness.  For everyone still wondering WTF Venger was talking about, here is a video explaining the concept.  Throughout the convention, heccaeity was mentioned, sort of becoming a VENGER CON meme or "word of the day," but for the entire weekend.

Adding essential / non-essential details is something I will continue to struggle with, as much as I can until either my creativity or cowardice gives in, and says, "Yeah, that's quite enough of that, hoss."

Ok, so my first session was on Friday morning... instead of pre-gens (which is normally what I provide at conventions), I decided to let players either bring back their previous VENGER CON characters or create new ones.  Since there was zero noise/distractions during every session I was apart of (a max of two active tables per room - we had a total of 3 rooms), I didn't feel rushed to "get to the game," as it were.

The roster included Yvol the warrior infernal-elf with a shoulder imp named Yum-Yum, Tittlelick the reptilian sorcerer with a fin on his head who lays an egg (which he's self-conscious about) when he hasn't eaten humanoid flesh that day, the returning ST-K1 or The Saint assassin-droid thief with matte-black exterior and purple filigree tattoos when he's not trying to be stealthy, Vorp a human priest - gaunt, tan, sleeps in the sand, and worships the Great Dune, and latecomer (due to a water heater emergency at his home) returning human, Gabrielle, cleric and worshiper of the King in Yellow.

They started out in A'agrybah, on their way to the Tribunal of Liberty, as they'd been called for an important mission.  On the way, they encountered a few things near and within the plaza's bazaar.  Two demon factions vied for power in the subterranean caves and tunnels dotted with pink crystals known as Diablo Rossa.

The PCs had a few different intertwining objectives, which they pursued with vigor and grace.  Rescuing the prisoners and foiling one faction's plans to slaughter everyone on the surface, they snuck in, explored, and got back out again before a giant mauve worm could devour them - Gabrielle used a strange crystal he picked up from VC2 as a flash-bomb to distract the mauve worm long enough for everyone to escape.  

I got to use one of my favorite new maps, and showed players how the Gilded Die of Satanis works, along with the Cha'alt X-Cards.  I believe 2 of the 8 were used... the most memorable being GRINDHOUSE EXPLOITATION where a torture device was being used on a prisoner and as demons were trying to fit it on a human, enough pressure was applied that the entire skull smashed, showering everyone in brain juice and skull fragment.  It was funny and gross.

I'm telling you, Cha'alt X-Cards are an innovative revelation, and undoubtedly the best thing I've come up with since Crimson Escalation (probably the most downloaded PDF of Kort'thalis Publishing's entire catalog).


Another highlight was Tittlelick using a massive pink crystal (along with the SLEAZE Cha'alt X-Card, if memory serves) to boost his spell, glamoring Yvol into an infernal Amazonian sex-goddess with magic missiles firing out of her buoyant nipples.

Between Kirby dots, Cha'alt group-ons, unnatural 20s (that will be a PDF of something or other soon), and the knowledge that in the RPG of life, we're all in hot pursuit of something, it was a Hell of a good time!

The second Cha'alt game I ran was the Dallas-tinged fiasco where every PC also had an ulterior motive, whether they were part of the Ewing Zoth Company, its chief rival, the Zoth Futures Private Equity Company, or an interested party of the lucrative zoth-trade.  Ten-gallon hats were worn and zoth-rich land contracts sought after.

I had planned for a sub-system where PCs engaging in persuasion, coercion, seduction, and revenge would get Divine Favor, but there was literally so much going on that I forgot about that part, even though that stuff was in my notes - next time!

The roster for this session included Maroon the warrior human who likes expensive cocktails, The Saint and Tittilick (reprising their roles), Eric Thornslayer a human thief who's plain and very boring (roleplayed by a player in my Cha'alt home-campaign), Fentyna'al a med-droid priest who dispenses drugs, suppositories, and healing like a pez, and Ua'anok a human sorcerer (employed by the Federation as an open secret). 

The PCs were all making their way to Zoth Con by way of the A'agrybah plaza and the bazaar.  They went into a strange man's tent to either buy a time-share in Orlando or taste-test some new experimental kind of zoth that was purple and possibly tasted like wonderful, albeit artificial, strawberries... simulation strawberries?   

Weird side-effects were rolled (I meant to use this d30 purple mutant zoth random table a lot more than I actually did), and the guy in the tent, Musta'afa Quattara, was the talk of Zoth Con, but after the convention, when his tent was gone, he gave word that he'd run away to make more "purple haze" zoth in the belly of a purple worm corpse.

Drowning their sorrows, the PCs went to a cantina where a trio of black robed assassins were discussing the discovery of a newly dead purple worm and how valuable its venom-sacs would be if plundered.  Putting 2 and 2 together to get 5, the adventures followed the assassins at a discrete distance.  

Inside the worm (special thanks to Mad Scribe Games for attending, playing, telling fascinating stories, and saying nice things about my custom maps), the PCs encountered many weird sights - a man named Ted who'd been ravaged by a mean cat, a splooge-gore and his laser-toting valkyrie-harem girls (a la RIFTS), the cat in question, a fuchsia dragon (which the PCs surprisingly bypassed with a sleep suppository), worm worshipers, the aforementioned assassins, and a sorcerer who almost killed the entire party with his fireball.  

That session rivaled one of my favorites a couple years ago at Game Hole Con (why, oh why, must they ruin that convention by miring their logo with the trans-grooming "progress" pride rainbow flag?) where all the players seemed as if they had snorted zoth-cocaine as murder-hobos are wont to do.

It was zany and madcap without even needing the Cha'alt X-Cards or Gilded Die of Satanis.  Here are some quotes in bullet-point...

  • "Tsathagg-kha says, 'I blame the fans.'" 
  • "When you enter Cha'alt, Cha'alt enters you."
  • "Preparation H is code for inserting something."
  • "Venger was bit by a radioactive color-wheel as a child."
  • "There's not a demon alive who doesn't know what the internet is."
  • "Bubbling crude, chartreuse gold, Cha'altian tea."
  • "The human face of worm supremacy."
  • "Larry Elder God."
  • "2 weeks in Cha'altian Orlando."
  • "Bum fight... or cult fight - Cha'alt edition."
  • "My alignment is Cha'altian."
  • "2 girls, 1 zoth... chartreuse twins."
  • "I thought chartreuse was blue, but then I'm a little bit color blind."
  • "Hawk-Tua, spit on that tha'ang."
  • "They are threatening to get rid of the petro-talon."
  • "Double-fist his coin purse."
  • "Did you get stranged by that Slorr?  Were you Slorr-stranged, hoss?"
  • "On his deathbed, many years from now, it finally occurred to ST-K1 that Ted couldn't possibly have been a were-cat."

Oh yes, it was some of the best fun that middle-aged men (married, recently divorced, or in committed relationships) can have without breaking the law in America.  Good times!  Between games, we ate, drank, talked about the hobby, politics, and various subjects.

I got to roll on the d100 Past Events random table from How To Game Master Like A Fucking Boss.  And like I said earlier, I will make something of that "unnatural 20" phrase.  Not sure what yet, but it'll be something worthy of Kort'thalis Publishing and Venger Satanis.

Part 2 either tomorrow or the next day, and I think that'll wrap-up VENGER CON III: Revenge of the OSR.  The feedback was amazing!  Everyone I talked to wants me to do it again next year, so will have news on that next week or so.

Thanks to the guest of honor this year Diversity & Dragons for attending, running, playing, and just being awesome in general.  This is a quick livestream that Double-D uploaded onto his channel.  Check it out!

Enjoy,

VS

p.s. Only a few more days for this probably doomed Kickstarter - Lavender Moons of Cha'alt.  I'm going to try and rework it if we don't hit our funding goal, so at least we get some of the Cha'alt webcomic.  

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Purple Zoth random table

 

I know there are dozens of OSR folks who couldn't make it to VENGER CON III this weekend.  But we appreciate your support and solidarity from afar!

Even though we can't game at the same table, we can still use the same random table.  

This is a collaborate between Robert Vegvari and myself.  I'm going to try and roll on this table multiple times per session - and so should you, hoss!

Is this how you get the delicious grape-flavored liqueur Purple Prizm?


Taking the "Zoth" Pilled d30 effects table by Robert Vegvari (this is for the purple-hued, mutant variant of zoth):

1-One of your extremities becomes a purple stretchy/rubbery tentacle which you can control.

Roll 1d6 for which one: 1-Left arm, 2-Right arm, 3-Left Leg, 4-Right Leg, 5-Your dick! / if you are a woman, either your tongue, labia, clit, etc., or 6-Head.

2-Your skin hardens like a candy shell turning a deep dark shade of purple, and gain 3 AC but you your skin will melt of when water hits it (saving throw).

3-Your eyes turn purple and you can see the extradimensional creatures from the movie "From Beyond.”

4-When you need to poop, you lay a yellow-green slimy egg instead. It will hatch into a "voracious purple worm" and will grow to full size in 1d4 hours.

5-For 1d4 rounds, the entire area immediately fills up with a purple liquid gelatin – quick thinking or great lung capacity might be required to survive if it’s over 2 minutes.

6-You now know how to play "Smoke on the water" from Deep Purple, the full song not just the part almost anybody can play.

7-You find yourself with the cartoon Beatles on the yellow submarine, only the submarine is purple and floating inside some Lovecraftian alien creature.

8-For 1d20 minutes you can dance really well if you want to.

9-Nothing happens (However the DM should mess with you to make you think something happened).  Make them roll one of each 7 types of dice + the d30 and have them record all the numbers in order and then have them assign a specific color for each result.  Lol

10-You find yourself in the body of the player who is playing you in the real world for 1d10 minutes.

11-You have the irresistible urge to record a podcast, even if your character doesn’t know what that is.

12-You fall unconscious. As you awake you find yourself tied-up in a box wearing a gimp suit; you hear muffled voices approaching.

13-You rapidly age, turning into a skeleton "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" style and die. Your spirit awakes at an arena concert for the band Styx as they play “Come Sail Away.”

14-You become a "Grape" Fruitie humanoid from the module "Descent into the Candy Crypts" and you speak with some kind of a grape-tastic accent.

15-You split into into two identical copies of yourself, including gear and what you are wearing. The clone will accuse you of being a clone, but maybe you are the clone?

16-You moonwalk now, better than any other living humanoid in the galaxy… except perhaps Captain EO.

17-A purple frog appears.  If no else is watching he will sing the old song "Hello, My Baby!" and dance with a cane and top hat. When anyone else looks he’ll revert into ordinary frog-mode, and no one will believe you; recording counts as "someone viewing" and doesn’t work. If you try to kill the frog he will multiply. Only way to kill it is to throw it into the realm’s largest volcano.

18-Your tongue becomes purple and forked permanently, you speak with excessive ssss’s.

19-Your non-dominant hand transforms into a luger which can transform into a small robot. It needs you so it can be shot in his gun form (3d6 damage), so it tolerates you until you are no longer useful.

20-The purple mutant zoth tastes like good hard liquor, making you [feel] invincible for 1d4 turns.

21-You develop a mutation from the Encounter Critical random table (lasting about an hour).

22-You fall in a berserker rage as the song "Murder Train" is audible from an unknown source, and attack everyone until you or everyone else dies. For the next 3 rounds, you attack with Advantage and do double the damage.

23-You turn into a hot version of the opposite sex for the next hour.

24-You get visited by cuddly bears who want to help you if good-aligned or attack you with rainbow belly-ray if evil-aligned.

25-You become a Rubix Cube. You will only change back if someone can solve you. If no one attempts to solve the cube, Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott appear from nowhere with encouragement such as “Dude” and “Sweet” until the puzzle is solved.

26-Your shadow becomes purple… and demonic!  This infernal shadow is capable of strangling another humanoid’s shadow if they’re alone (save or die).

27-Immediately after drinking, 1d4 sexy purple-skinned succubae appear, trying to sexually entice you to give up your soul in exchange for tantalizing carnal pleasures.

28-Roll on the TMNT Palladium RPG table for insanity, you have that now permanently.

29-You know the secret ingredients to KFC fried-chicken. From now on, Colonel Sanders from different planes of existence will hunt you down from time to time.

30- You appear in Carcosa. You have the C64 cassette version of the game "Crimson Dragon Slayer" in one pocket and a giant purple dildo in your hand.  Meanwhile, dinosaurs tower above you, battling to the death!


Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Lavender Moons of Cha'alt [Kickstarter]

 

I've been spending an inordinate amount of time and energy on this weekend's VENGER CON III convention.  But I also don't want to neglect my Kickstarter for a second Cha'alt webcomic.  The first being Under Fuchsia Ska'ai.

Jae Tanaka is doing the artwork and layout, I'm coming up with the story and words.  To help promote our crowdfunding campaign and to mark this momentous occasion of President Trump narrowly avoiding assassination by divine intervention, I present to you Jae Tanaka's latest piece "Fight the Federation!"

Here is the KS link - pledge generously, if you can.  There's only 11 days left and we're way behind (this image can also be found on update #2 on the KS).  

I know webcomics aren't everybody's cup of tea, but this can easily be used to create an adventure or enhance your campaign setting.  If nothing else, it grows Cha'alt... which is a benefit in and of itself.

Plus, Lavender Moons of Cha'alt is going to kick fucking ass!

Help spread the word and let's get this thing funded.  Thanks for your continued support, hoss.

VS


Monday, July 8, 2024

The Tentacles of Tsathagg-kha are Strong [Cha'alt campaign, session 17]

 

This current Cha'alt campaign has now achieved the length of the last - 17 sessions.  Besides wanting a fresh start with new PCs, I suppose there wasn't really a reason for ending the last campaign.  Same eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic world or worlds, same great flavor.

And this 2nd Cha'alt campaign will continue on.  I don't know how long, but I'm not worried about losing steam.  All aboard, hoss!

We did the whole thing that if you roll a 17, it's a crit.  I think only a single 17 was rolled, so it didn't make much difference in the overall scheme.  What will we do when we're at session 20, a player asked?  I'll come up with something interesting, I replied.  And so I shall... ideas are percolating.  

Only 3 players because our usual 4th wasn't returning from his vacation until later that night.  So, it was Jua'an the crystalline warrior, Gorra the sand-construct priest, and Nix the demon-clown thief.

As soon as the PCs entered the cave containing the pylon they were after, they noticed a wizard who was waiting for them.  He had looked deep into the multiversal stream, saw the various permutations of dimensional potentiality, and realized he needed the Crimson Bastards' help.  The adventurers tried to play it off like they weren't who they actually were, but the wizard saw right through that shit.

The wizard asked the PCs to fetch him 3 chartreuse crystals for the matrix table inside the pylon.  With that, he could make all the simulated worlds real.  That meant everything the PCs were experiencing wasn't currently real, only a simulation (which they already strongly suspected).  This wizard would be able to change all that if he only had those crystals.  And those 3 chartreuse crystals were hidden in a subterranean vault beneath the purple-men cave - where those other guys were venturing to attack the vulnerable purple-men.

In exchange, the wizard would allow the PCs to keep all the other items and use the pylon for wherever they wanted to after he was finished exalting Carcosa, Cha'alt, Alpha Blue, and all the other A.I. generated micro-universes through infinity.  As a little bonus, the wizard (eventually named Da'azar) gave each of them a red pill.  "It will allow you to know... kung-fu."  They each swallowed a red pill.

They accepted (the wizard had put up a force field protecting the pylon from intruders just in case the PCs decided against this fetch-quest) and went back out of the temple dungeon.  On the way, they noticed a couple (man and woman) eating and drinking at a little white outdoor table and chair set as if they were having lunch at a French cafe.  "Good show, old boy.  Yes, give 'em Hell," they said laughing.  The PCs weren't sure what to make of them, but interacted with the couple a little before they vanished.  Nix, I believe, asked the couple if they were betting on the Crimson Bastards?  If they hadn't before, they would be now.

Outside the temple, the larger shining tetrahedron was on the ground and several lemurians were investigating and beating on it with rocks, sticks, and bones.  Nix and Gorra searched the entire thing, hearing muffled voices inside and eventually figuring out how to open it - which they did.  

Two translucent and veiny mutants were inside (Kal and Zaymart).  Gorra used his magic item that fooled them into thinking they were ship inspectors.  After some talk, the PCs figured out these guys didn't so much rule Carcosa as oversaw things from within a city beyond the invisible barrier.  Convincing the mutants to give them a lift, they used the ship to cut a hole in the top of the purple-men cave so they could infiltrate it quietly.  

I determined there would be 1d4-1 multiplied by 5 purple-men around them ready to do battle.  As it happened, I rolled a 1, so there were zero.  But Gorra convinced a lower-caste purple-man that he was at least partially divine.  The purple-man took them to the only one he knew, besides the chief himself, who could open a way down into the lower cave - where the magnificent treasures could be found.

Donning the deep-purple robes that foreigners customarily wear, the purple-man led the PCs to the shaman.

The shaman was being tortured, hanging and whipped by 3 others.  What did he do?  Have a turn with the chief's new harem-girls after the PCs stole the others away.  The PCs blasted the shit out of the torturers and freed the shaman.  Meanwhile, the players and their characters remembered the last prisoners they freed, and how they were supposed to interpret the law and lore of the purple-men.  Well, that's how these cave folks got casual Fridays and Purple Mondays!

The shaman needed to make a pit-stop to munch on the jale lotus that grows elsewhere in their cavernous home.  He did, Gorra did, and Jua'an took some for later.  The shaman started tripping balls as he told them about the statue to Tsathagg-kha - "The tentacles of Tsathagg-kha are strong!" as well as, the statue's missing eye which could be found in the belly of a glowing ooze in another cave.  

After all this was revealed, Jua'an declared that he wanted to cut the shaman's head off.  In that moment, as I sometimes do, there was a feeling of sorrow and pity for the almost nameless NPC who was about to die.  I had fun roleplaying him, using Brad Dourif's mentat character in Dune as a character guide.  "Just on the off chance that you roll a 1, roll the die," I said.  Do you believe in unlikelihoods?!?  Sure enough, the d20 resulted in a 1, and not wasting the opportunity, I described how the shaman sidestepped Jua'an's attack, then pulled out a handful of jale lotus dust and blew it in Jua'an's face, making him very susceptible to suggestion.  "I am your master, now." the shaman said, and Jua'an went along with it - even hopping on one foot to prove the point.

They went to that cave to kick the ooze's ass.  The shaman was given Jua'an's plasma bazookoid while the crystalline warrior sunk his blade of the conqueror into its amorphous and luminescent pudding-like flesh.  The creature did score a crit on Jua'an, since he was up close and personal with it.  Rolling 2d20 for the damage, it could have really hurt, but only did 21 points of damage.  Shortly after that, it was slain, and slowly evaporated or leaked down through the cracks in the floor - leaving behind the Old One statue's eye.  The statue of Tsathagg-kha had three faces so it could see the entire cave it was centered in.  They put in the ruby eye which opened a secret passage leading down, then removed the eye, determining that they didn't need to leave it there, stealing it for themselves as they made their way to the open door.

But just then, the chief and a handful of his warriors attacked.  The chief (first name Gordon) shot Jua'an with a weird device (he made his save, thankfully) that essentially turned him into a ghost.  He was incorporeal for a time.  The PCs took out a couple of their warriors before reasoning with the chief that he could let them go and they could live - just pretend that the adventurers got away.  Satisfied with that compromise, the PCs descended the spiral staircase to loot the vault beneath the purple-men cave.

There was a whole lot of debris before they could get to the riches, and spent some time sifting through the ruins of a thousand year old civilization.  Brace yourself, hoss.  What they found will shake you to your very core!  

A big sign that read "A'agrybah Plaza," a menu from the Hot-Pink Wormhole featuring BBQ insect table-service while receiving a lapdance... only 11 talons, a calendar marking the date of Zevra'an the 4th when the people of Cha'alt celebrated their independence from the Galactic Federation just after the apocalypse, and last but not least a broken marble statue of Isa'ac (who, as you may remember, took over Qada'ath and prompted the PCs to hop worlds looking for his weakness).

What was the meaning of this?  Nix understood instinctively when he said, "They blew it up!"  But it took a few moments for them to fully realize (plus some meditation confirmation by the shaman) that they were back on Cha'alt - only a thousand years in the future!  Still reeling from this sudden revelation, they explored the back of this cavern to find...

  • Ion cannon 
  • Hover-tank
  • Disintegrator beam
  • Black case containing 3 chartreuse crystals
  • Samurai-ranger power armor (red)
  • 30,000 New Gods Republic Credits... along with an empty can of New Gods Coca-Cola

The PCs discovered that pretty much all of the stuff was out of juice, the power-cells had run dry a looooong time ago.  So, they grabbed what they could and made their way back to the temple.  Before leaving entirely, the PCs wondered if the chief had any new stuff in his quarters since the last time they looted it.  I had someone roll and it was a crit of sorts... they found a ring of Carcosa kryptonite that would weaken the natives of this planet.  Taking it with them, the adventurers got the Hell out of there.

The wizard was still there waiting for them.  He did his thing while the PCs were philosophizing about what to do now, what it all meant... did Cha'alt devolve into Carcosa because of Isa'ac, because the PCs eventually went back in time to defeat him?  Did they defeat him?  Would Cha'alt have a different future if the PCs took certain actions?  Should they state in Carcosa and rule over it, or return to Cha'alt to perhaps avert whatever disaster caused it to become Carcosa?  Or was Carcosa the positive outcome?


By the time the PCs were done, the wizard declared that he was finished, asking if the adventurers had felt anything, like the multiverse move?  The PCs lied, like a prostitute faking an orgasm, saying that they had definitely felt it.  Next, the wizard helped them get to The Vortex, which is the mutant city behind the invisible barrier.  

When they appeared, the mutants tried to "rebirth" the PCs in one of their incinerator temples due to some prophecy where a band of adventurers would eventually go back in time and mess things up so that current events in Carcosa would never have taken place.

Alas for the mutants, the PCs were too smart for them.  After blasting a couple of them, the party forced them to give the adventures a ship, plenty of energy cells, and 3 women for company.  The PCs were now determined to find the sorcerer Irro back at the Nameless Plateau, so he could get them to Quorta'ath.

And that's where we ended the session.  I introduced some new background music to the campaign - the original Planet of the Apes soundtrack and first season of the LOST soundtrack.  I bought a third, but wanted to wait for that one.  Not only was it time for me to upgrade my dark ambient ways and means, but I thought it would be cool to have something fresh for VENGER CON III in 2 weeks.  Details and weekend badges here!


I'm hoping to have about 40 attendees, so that's almost double of the last couple VENGER CONs.  As mentioned in my last few videos, I'll have some of my latest hand, or should I say tentacle-drawn, maps to show off, allowing GMs use them in their games.  Some of them turned out really cool, and I'm continually reminded how important Harrison Butker's commencement address was, containing this essential wisdom - "Do hard things.  Never settle for what is easy."

Before I forget, a few choice words and phrases from the session...

  • "We'll just have to give them the Crimson Bastard hello."
  • "First looting is best looting."
  • "That's more of a 3rd or 4th date kind of move."
  • "Sexual compatibility is important.  I'm not going to spend the rest of my life jerking off on this planet."
  • "I don't know about quantum physics, but as I've proved with Cha'alt, you can always keep adding dimensions."
  • "I probably would have seen how that turned out when scrying the continuum stream, but I drank a Big Gulp before gazing and have a small bladder... I frequently had to leave so I could go to the restroom."

Ok, that's it.  Thanks for reading, and let me know your feedback... if any. 

VS

p.s. I still have hardcover Cha'alt books, signed and numbered.  If you want the best deal, get them through the current Kickstarter where I'm trying to raise money for another Cha'alt webcomic called Lavender Moons of Cha'alt.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Carcosa Mission Creep (Cha'alt campaign, session 16)

 

Only 3 players this session.  It's summer, and stuff happens, but I'm happy we got to play.  Anything less than 3 players, and my current mindset is to cancel the game.  However, maybe I should have a little RPG something something on the backburner in case of only 2 players... might be the perfect time to playtest a new thing?

Anyways, we have Nix, Jua'an, and Gorra.  As the PCs and their purple-people + orange dude entourage left the caves for the Nameless Plateau, the muddy purple sky darkened and it started to hail.  Seeing black waters on their left and jungle on their right, they sought shelter under the canopy of the jungle.

One of the Carcosa natives suggested that everyone secure loose belongings just in case one or more lemurians sneaks up and grabs a piece of their gear.  Who or what are the lemurians?  They're a vaguely humanoid species of lemur that live in the jungle.  Smarter than the average Earth monkey, but they can't speak and are slightly larger than our lemurs.  

As a decoy, one of the purple-men picked a vegetable or fruit that was a cross between an eggplant and a banana from a nearby vine and had it sticking out of his open fly.  Sure enough, a lemurian soon grabbed that, while others got a colorful silk scarf from a purple harem girl, and Nix' power ring.

The lemurians were easy to chase as that one had the colorful scarf in his hands... leading the PCs straight to an ancient temple rumored to have been built by the snake-men thousands of years ago.  After getting their stuff back (without having to resort to violence), the PCs ventured inside.  Fears of lethal guardians inside did little to dissuade the adventurers.  

Before I forget, a few of those shining tetrahedrons were not that far away in the sky, revolving around an even larger shining tetrahedron.  Strange and disconcerting...

The temple had Carcosa-glyphs etched into the stone on the outside of its cyclopean masonry, but none of the adventurers could read it - especially without their sorcerer companion.

No sooner did a newly promoted orange-man scout ahead than 3 ethereal shoggoth-worms appeared.  The orange-man went over to greet and negotiate with them, but a shoggoth-worm bit off most of his shoulder and also the poison weakened him to the point where he was just lying there, asking for help... which would not come until after the ensuing battle.

The blaster was barely affective, but Jua'an's sword could damage them.  Gorra, being a priest, hadn't (ever?) used his eldritch beam power and this might qualify as a Lovecraftian abomination - just because you don't see any tentacles doesn't mean they're not actually there.

Yes, his scorching beam of lavender light seared the ethereal shoggoth-worms.  Meanwhile, Jua'an got a telepathic message from his sword, or rather, the eldritch-eye that was part of his new magical blade.  It told him to call upon the blade's power, uttering the name of some Great Old One or other.  Jua'an became super-charged... fuchsia (still crystal, though)... with a third eye... and his personality was different.  He was still Jua'an, but also someone completely new.  I'm going to have Jua'an's player determine aspects of this other fellow, named Zeno, before next we game.

Now, attacking with Advantage and doing double the damage, Zeno made quick work of the creatures.  Once vanquished, the lemurians worshiped the PCs as gods.  Thinking it might be handy to have 4 monkey-people on the "payroll," they took 4 along with them into the further gloom of this snake-men temple.

They encountered a couple humanoids, jale-men, hiding behind some rock formations.  These were warriors of an entire jale tribe living in this temple.  They accessed the temple from a different way than the main entrance and have been living here for about a year.  Meaning them no harm (yet), the PCs asked these two to bring them to their people.

I read the description of the color jale and speculated that the hue might look slightly different to different people, which caused Jua'an to wonder if their coloring looked different to each other, and if so, how do they tell each other apart from others?

The jale-men introduced the PCs to their people, showed them the grandest point of interest in the cave system, a golden pylon.  However, that area of the temple was infested by creepers (half spider and half man from the Beneath Kra'adumek adventure).  After killing a few creepers (though 2 of the 3 PCs were paralyzed during the fight), they reached the gold pylon.  Unfortunately, the gold pyramid key that opened the pylon was missing.

Assuming the pylon key was somewhere in this temple, the PCs began to explore, intending to eventually make their way back to the creeper caves in order to smoke them out and search their lair.

Their exploration led them to a gigantic eyeball that was attempting to absorb several jale-men into its pupil.  They hacked away at some of the tentacles, saved all but one of the jale-men, and then decided to leave well enough alone as the eyeball attempted to force itself into the mind of a PC.

Then, they found a hunting party of yellow-men who found their way into the temple (no one asked, so I didn't provide a reasonable explanation).  They had cornered a large demon-rat which Nix shot for them.  They went away in peace.

Next, there was a jale-shaman digging at the base of this corroded metallic monolith carved with Carcosa-glyphs.  The shaman divulged that the purple-men were weakened by their recent ordeal and ripe for attack, which is why he was digging for clams.  He found 3 by the time the PCs had heard his story.  Inside the clams were tiny worms known as verma'aqua.  Once you remove their poisonous egg-sac, swallowing a verma'aqua yielded psionic powers within 2 or 3 days... and when the swallowed worm fully matured in 18 months, it bursts out of your chest (occasionally, the host survives - save or die).

Being composed of sand, Gorra took one, and I think the PCs took the 3rd one with them.  In exchange, the shaman got that trident +1 Nix had been carrying around for awhile.  The shaman took a handful of jale-men with him to attack the purple-men in their caves and reach a lower system of caves which only the purple-men chief knew how to access.  The shaman also gave the PCs a "book," which was really several parchment pages strung together, revealing the mystery of the Carcosa-glyphs so they could be understood.  

The monolith warned of the forbidden zone and toxic levels of radiation; however, that message was already thousands of years old.

Heading back to the creepers, the PCs narrowly avoided a mauve worm that was burrowing through the cave system.  The PCs fired a flaming wooden spear tied with peatmoss into the creeper cave, started a fire at the mouth of their cave, and covered that recent worm hole with a blanket from the jale-men.

After awhile, all the creepers were dead, allowing the PCs a chance to thoroughly investigate their lair.  They found the gold pylon-key, a laserdisc of Rochelle, Rochelle: a young woman's erotic journey from A'agrybah to Za'arnath, various high-tech parts, and 8 hexagonal coins of turquoise.

We stopped the session just before the PCs went into the pylon.  I got to use one of my new maps, as well.  Not my favorite, but it's weird aesthetic suited the oddball environment.

A few choice phrases heard 'round the table...

  • "Would a sleaze-based weapon have it's own +5 bonus?  It definitely has a strange Cha'altian logic to it."
  • "Like being touched by God... or a God."
  • "Our healthcare plan includes a cyber-surgeon for lost limbs in the call of duty, but passage to the cyber-surgeon, that's not included.  There's a co-pay for that."
  • "Carcosan men hobbies include running for their lives, trying not to be sacrificed by Old One worshiping sorcerers, and fucking like crayola rabbits."
  • "Fat chicks come from aliens."
  • "Go to your happy place while we commit atrocities." 
  • "Bad mojo is our business."
  • "By the time we get back to Cha'alt, I bet everyone will be drinking New Gods soda."

Next session will be Saturday, July 6th.  We're so close to VENGER CON III: Revenge of the OSR that I can smell it... If you want to game with us, get yourself a weekend badge right over here.

Enjoy,

VS

p.s. Need your hardcover Cha'alt books?  I got you covered, hoss.  Also, in a week or so I'll be launching another Cha'alt-related Kickstarter campaign.  Stay tuned! 


Saturday, June 15, 2024

Crimson Ability Scores Hack

 

All the trolling and discussion and whatnot on social media about ability scores [3d6 in order or die trying, hoss] got me thinking about them again.

While none of the Crimson Dragon Slayer iterations use ability scores (that I can remember), I still fondly recall a time when running other peoples' OSR retro-clones that did use them.  

So, this blog post contains game mechanics for incorporating ability scores in any OSR system, including the various Crimson Dragon Slayer editions.  Come up with a list of those six... Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.  Roll 3d6 for each - in order - and consult the table below...

If whatever you're rolling (most likely a skill-check, saving throw, attack, defense, or special maneuver) would benefit from a particular ability - all you have to do is make the claim and be ready to back that claim up with justification if the GM requires an explanation - then add the following to that d20 roll.  This modifier can be applied once per day per ability score.  For example, if a strength bonus has already been used to lift a heavy portcullis, another ability score could be implemented, if applicable, but utilizing strength again would have to wait until the next day or after a long rest.  

Attention, a point of Divine Favor can be spent to carry that beneficial modifier throughout the scene or encounter.

If the same d20 roll is penalized by a particular ability, the GM applies the negative modifier once per ability score per day.  If the modifier causes that PC to fail his attempted action, there's a 2 in 6 chance of being rewarded with a point of Divine Favor under the rubric that the Gods have a special providence for fools, drunkards, and weak-ass jabronis with suboptimal ability scores. 

  • 18 = d8
  • 16, 17 = d6
  • 14, 15 = d4
  • 8 through 13 = n/a
  • 6, 7 =  -d4
  • 4, 5 = -d6
  • 3 = -d8

Magic items, high-tech devices and priest blessings that enhance a particular ability score add d12, while those same things (magic, tech, or curses) that cripple a particular ability score subtract d12 from the d20 roll.

Yes, this means the priest class has a new ability.  Once per round, a priest can bless or curse a single aspect (ability score) of a humanoid they touch [if a priest touches an enemy combatant, that lasts one round per priest's level.  This blessing or curse goes beyond the normal range, which is why it's plus or minus d12.  Like other positive or negative ability score modifiers, this only affects an individual's particular ability score once per day; however, Divine Favor can extend either a bonus or penalty through the current scene / encounter (but not beyond the limit in rounds of a priest's level).

Even if these were official (which they're not because I'm workshopping them publicly so folks can poke 'em with sticks), they are optional rules.  Nevertheless, I would appreciate GMs playtesting this "Crimson Hack" and providing feedback.

Thanks,

VS

p.s.  VENGER CON III: Revenge of the OSR is just around the corner.  Info and weekend badges available right here.  If you want the hardcover Cha'alt trilogy for your RPG collection, the gorgeous, professionally printed, limited signed and numbered tomes can be found over yonder.


Sunday, June 9, 2024

Do Crayons Have Angry Souls? [CHA'ALT campaign, episode 15]

 

Another session, another chance to caress the true reality of tentacles, blood, and slimy openings beneath this matrix veneer of what we wrongfully assume must be legit...

This entire session took place in Carcosa.  One of my goals was to make this world feel distinct, and I think I accomplished that.  We had the core-four + a special guest player, a friend of one of the players who lives next door to him and is about to finalize his divorce.  One of the benefits of unmarriage-ing is being able to do things like this, so we were glad to have him.  If his work schedule permits, he'll be joining us again.  He travels a lot, so it shall be up to the Gods themselves. 

Because we didn't know if he'd be returning anytime soon, I commented that he was like a special guest star that the showrunner would like to make a recurring role, but the show probably couldn't afford.  Like if Land of the Lost was able to snag Ernest Borgnine for one glorious episode!

Before I forget, we decided to do the session number roll thing again.  Since this was the 15th session, anyone rolling a natural 15 would get a critical-success (including me).

We left off with the PCs, Drogon the human sorcerer, Nix the demon-clown thief, Jua'an the crystalline warrior, and Gorra the grog priest, foraging for spam and tang on the crashed starship.  Having ate, drank, and rested, they began to explore the rest of the ship.  

Weapons locker - empty.  Stasis room - dark, but Drogon fiddled with the keypad and got it open, only to find a solitary human frozen in time, and about to punch someone.  Moments later, he was mobile again... alive.  He asked who the 4 humanoids were, not recognizing them.  Jua'an claimed they were part of the maintenance crew.  Gorra said that he was that dude from the future.  After introducing himself as Quin, he ran out of there, heading for the bridge.

Eventually, they connected, along with another crew member who survived the shining tetrahedron in the sky, and watched a hologram asking for help.  Apparently, there was a ship damaged and being chased by the Koda'an armada that went through a wormhole and made emergency landing on this planet, Carcosa.  

The ship they were currently in was a rescue ship sent after the first ship.  Unfortunately, something happened in orbit, knocking the ship out of the upper atmosphere, causing it to crash here.

The sky was a dim, dusky purple, a t-rex could be seen some distance away, along with the Nameless Plateau up ahead.  Just then, the surviving crew member the PCs found who was scared shitless of the shining tetrahedron thought he heard it coming and hid under the captain's chair.  Moments later, the floating pyramid disintegrated a 5' x 7' chunk of starship ceiling as it passed overhead.  Going outside, they could see it was moving away.  Now, they believed, was their chance to explore.

The PCs knew why they were here on Carcosa - find the sorcerer atop the Nameless Plateau and convince him to open a gateway to Quorta'ath, where the super-weapon resided that could defeat Isa'ac back on Cha'alt.  Quin just wanted to get off this planet, which was motivation enough for traveling with the Crimson Bastards.

They reached the plateau without any problems.  Nix checked it out first before the others joined.  A green-man sorcerer had 5 purple-men tied to 5 standing stones, and a wicked-looking curved dagger in his hand.  The PCs approached and told them what they wanted.  The sorcerer replied with what he needed from them in order to create a portal to Quorta'ath, which he'd done before.  He needed 2 more purple-men for sacrifice and his favorite concubine who was stolen from him several days ago, now in the hands of the purple-men chief.  They live in a cave about a half-day's journey from here.

Believing that sounded like a fair trade, the PCs set off with a crude map drawn in blood.  Before descending the plateau, the adventurers watched as the sorcerer, Irro, slit the purple-men throats, spattered their blood upon the stone monoliths, and invoked Tsathoggua with strange words and silly walks.

There were 3 hazards on the way to the purple-men cave.  The first was a t-rex menacing 2 orange-men.  Drogon attempted to fireball the dinosaur, but his spell backfired.  He decided to stimulate a Cha'alt X-Card, which we explained to the new guy - anytime a player wants, he can grab one of eight cards that promote a certain aspect of the campaign, of Cha'alt... eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalypse, humor, sleaze, pop-culture, and grindhouse exploitation.

Drogon's player chose humor, and had an idea about the t-rex's gas igniting the magical flame.  While we made the assumption that such a thing might have also taken place, an idea - a very Carcosan idea - suddenly came to me and I went for it.  The orange men, who were both hiding among a cluster of boulders, saw the sorcerer using his magic to take down the dinosaur.  One of them decided to aid his casting by taking out a dagger and stabbing his orange-man companion.  Sure enough, the humanoid sacrifice boosted Drogon's magic, and the t-rex ran away from the sorcerer's burst of flame.

Gorra attempted to lay on hands and save the orange-man's life, which he did.  Both orange-men were grateful and pledged their lives to Drogon, Gorra, and to the adventuring party.  All this prompted the PCs to ask themselves why magic in Carcosa is fueled by ritual murder.  The prevailing theory, posited by Jua'an, was that these crayon-colored people must have angry souls and releasing that energy somehow powered sorcery.

A few of the PCs wondered aloud what was going on in this world, which led to the angry soul theory.  Quin speculated that the shining tetrahedron, seemingly separate from the Old Ones, might be keeping the inhabitants of Carcosa in an artificially barbaric state - monitoring from the sky and disintegrating forms of high-technology, etc.

Continuing on, the PCs stumbled upon the outskirts of a green-man village.  Three women were picking berries and putting them into wicker baskets.  These startled gatherers didn't run away, but offered the adventurers berries.  The PCs began to flirt with such stellar game as "Hey, ladies..." and "How you doin?"

I made everyone roll to see how well their seduction worked.  Quin, Jua'an, and Nix (I believe) were the lucky recipients.  Heading over to nearby shrubberies to engage in amorous activity.  Upon nutting their way to the sleaze factor-5, they continued on.

The purple-men cave in sight, they saw 500' of putrescent pits containing pools of a strange liquid that appeared colorless, then suddenly iridescent mauve, puce, and some kind of beige that glowed unnaturally.  Jua'an threw some sand into a pool.  It sizzled and bubbled.  Best to stay away.  By the time they reached the cave, they were attacked by a putrescent lurker.  It devoured Taz in one round as Quin blasted it with his makeshift plasma splicer.

Oh yeah, Quin was a level 4 mechanic and gizmo-engineer who knew his way around a blaster.

Just inside the cave, they heard stuff, so Nix went in to see what was what.  He noticed a smaller, weaker purple-man about to be killed by two muscular purple guards.  Nix blasted the guards, saving the smaller one who was named Tor.  Like the orange-men before, Tor felt duty-bound to serve Nix and the party for the rest of his days.

Since Tor lived in the purple-men village, the PCs used the guy to show them around.  He found them black robes, like gender-neutral berkas, which non-purple humanoids were supposed to wear inside their village.  

When someone asked why Tor was being persecuted, he replied "I dared suggest that numbers may exist above and beyond 37."

Tor gave them a guided tour of savagery as the PCs saw the executing of rival tribesman captured in the last raid, women being sexually aroused by tentacled horrors whose teeth had been removed (in preparation for the nightly tribe orgy), and priests doing mysterious things down a far-off cave.

Eventually, they came to the chief's personal cave.  He was out on tribe business, but there were 2 guards preventing them from entering.  The PCs, especially Jua'an, dazzled them with tantalizing tales of H.R. departments, 401 K plans, fancy new uniforms, paid time-off, dental, and they'd actually get paid... eventually.  All this if they would stop working for the purple-men chief and join the Crimson Bastard workforce.  The guards agreed, and let the PCs in.

They saw 3 women, lounging in the chief's sleeping cave.  One was only purple because the tribe had dyed her skin that color.  Irro's favorite concubine didn't really want to go back to him, as the green-man sorcerer liked to engorge him member with bile from the nigrescent crab, which doubled his size and potency, but also frequently gave her yeast infections.

While all this discussion was going on, Jua'an assumed there must be treasure around the chief's cave and started searching.  He rolled a 15(!), finding a massive, obsidian sword with an eldritch eye where the blade meets the hilt... along with an infernal sheath that resembled a bright orange-cracked rock of volcanos near bursting with hot lava.  Both of these were magical.

However, the PCs convinced her [I don't think I gave her a name, so I'll call her Jaura] that once she was delivered to Irro and he opened the gate to Quorta'ath, they would be able to abscond with her through the portal, so she'd never have to submit to the crayon-folk ever again.  She agreed, so off they went.

On the way out, they heard agonizing screams interspersed with colorful albeit disjoined prose coming from the priest cave. The party was divided on if they should investigate.  They split the party to see what was going on.  Briefly, several humanoids were being tortured by the priests who were drinking the milk of rancid moon-lotus which gave them visions.  The words between screams were used as prompts to direct the priest's visions as they wrote down what they experienced.  And those experiences would eventually become both lore and law for the purple-man tribe. 

Killing the priests, freeing the prisoners, and telling them to drink the rancid milk of the moon lotus because now they were the lore-givers, the PCs fled the cave in hopes of making a speedy dash out of these caves and back to the Nameless Plateau.  Rejoining their companions, the adventurers reached the cave mouth from whence they came.  However, it was blocked by 4 purple-men guards and a gigantic toad spawn with a thousand eyes.  The PCs would have to fight their way out!

Oh yeah, before leaving that cave where torture poetry was born (there's a Taylor Swift joke in there somewhere - find it and gain a point of Divine Favor), Gorra sipped some of the rancid milk from a moon lotus.  Nothing happened for several minutes - and you know what that means - when the effect does come, it's probably going to be a doozy!

Just prior to facing the enemy at the cave mouth, I passed a note to the sand-construct's player - "You see a purple portal in front of you... several purple tentacles beckon you inwards."  Gorra went in.

As combat commenced, Tor advised that energy weapons would be useless on the toad creature, and that Jua'an's new blade was known as the sword of the conqueror.  So, Jua'an hacked away at it, the others blasted the guards, the orange-men climbed on top of the horrid spawn punching it from above.  Nix tried to backstab the giant toad, but missed (as he would continue to miss - but thankfully the toad also kept missing him).

I passed another note to Gorra's player, "You've been having sex with purple tentacled whores for days and then exit the portal where only a few minutes have passed."  With his +5 bonus in hand, he charged into battle.

The toad scored a crit when I rolled a 15 on the attack for Quin.  He would have been at zero, if not for the +5 hit-point bonus for laying with that sexy green chick.  Meanwhile, Drogon believed his sorcery was doomed without human sacrifice, so stopped short of blasting it with a fireball.

Jua'an was the only one doing lots of damage to the creature; although, Quin had an outside-the-box idea of shooting the cavern ceiling.  His first attempt failed, but the second time he rolled a 15 and a stalactite fell down, impaling the sucker from above.  But it wasn't dead yet.  More hacking, guards coming from the rear which Drogon blasted to keep them at bay... one of the orange-men was eaten by the toad-spawn but the other landed the killing blow - punching it through an eye-socket that must have reached its brain... or better yet, putting his entire weight upon the fallen stalactite that impaled its skull.

With that, they were finally able to leave the purple-men caves towards the plateau.  That's where I decided to end things because time was up, and all the major events of the session head been dealt with.  

A number of hilarious and/or poignant things said during the game...


  • "What's your 5-year goal?  Lol, what am I talking about - this is Carcosa!  Ok, what's your 5-week goal?"
  • "Are you a God?"
  • "Do crayons have angry souls?"
  • "Roll for butt stuff."
  • "The government shall be one man and he decides who they'll go to war with."
  • "The softer side of murder-hobos."
  • "This is my journey of discovery."
  • "Red shirt or stormtrooper - who will the monster go after first?"
  • "Save a life, get a free slave!"
  • "If this is the best they've got, in 6 months we'll be running this place."
  • "I don't know what you guys are playing, but it's not D&D.  This is the craziest campaign I've ever seen."
  • "It's like Inception meets Star Gate."
  • "Was the purple tentacles, whores, and sex even real?"  "Well, It sure felt real to you."


A day or two before session 15 of the Cha'alt campaign, I ran a virtual, one-shot Cha'alt scenario on Roll20.  I'm waiting until I get another Roll20 one-shot under my belt (most likely Thursday) before I do a session report write-up of that.

Thanks for reading, hoss!

VS

p.s. Want to find out for yourself what it's like to live in an absurd and awesome wet fever-dream of savagery, super-science, and sorcery?  Experience the magic for yourself.  Next month is VENGER CON III: Revenge of the OSR.  If you don't have your weekend badge yet, get it here!  Need the gorgeous hardcover Cha'alt trilogy?  Here you go!