Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Vault's open - come on in!

The S'rulyan Vault is officially here.

As I was explaining to someone only an hour ago, this product is mostly about the maps.  It's big, it took a long time to make, and costs are what they are.  The dungeon even comes in two different colors - old school blue/white and a golden brown parchment hue.

The PDF is meant to be the icing on the cake.  That doesn't mean I'm not extremely proud of the PDF, though.  I am.  I think it turned out really well and I'm excited to hear feedback from gamers who use my guidelines and random tables in their dungeon.

But yeah, this isn't a fully formed mega-dungeon with fleshed out encounters.  The meat and potatoes of it is up to the GM.  I merely provided the salad, appetizer, bread, and dessert.  The actual entree itself is not included.

So, keep in mind that you're mostly paying for the large, high-resolution map files that can be blown up to 34" x 44" at a professional print shop.

The PDF is 20 pages of neat stuff that will add depth to the dungeoncrawl that YOU create, whether that's mostly on-the-fly or with a few hours of campaign prep depends on what kind of GM you are.

If you have any questions, please let me know!


Monday, May 23, 2016

Universal Exploits

Ok, I've got some news.  For a select few, this may seem like a punch in the gut, for many a picnic lunch on a beautiful summer's day, but my guess is that most of you will probably go, "Meh."
When the book (being Kickstarted now) actually comes out, it's not going to be called Pussy Chasers: the Legend of Oral.  There are many reasons for this, such as pushing people away from it and Alpha Blue, as well as, making people think that the entire thing is either going to be pornographic or a riff on StarChaser: The Legend of Orin.  And to be perfectly honest, my wife wanted me to shut the whole thing down, and this name change is a compromise.
In actuality, the sleaze is probably only 20% - 30% of this RPG line.  It's just that most RPG books have less than 5%, so it makes Alpha Blue and company look disproportionately raunchy by comparison.  
I'll be parodying many, many sci-fi movies, tv shows, and so forth.  StarChaser is but one.  However, there will be a section/heading called "Pussy Chasers: the Legend of Oral" and it will deliver on what's already been mentioned in the Kickstarter.  Additionally, there will be other sections that will deal with various topics.  The space station brothel has already been done, so this new book will focus on other people, places, and things.  
For instance, today I'm writing "The Stars Are Dying" (cosmic horror) and "The Violet Jungle Moon of K'rymzonia Minor" (gonzo sword & planet pulp).  Both will have sleazy aspects, but neither will be as preoccupied with sex as the "Pussy Chasers" section.
With this new book, I will bring to life a campaign setting where life is hard and risking one's neck as a spacer is pretty much the only hope for escaping the indentured servitude of a dystopian future.  Writing about the pleasure seekers on a leisure station was a lot of fun, but it's time for something new.  
Keeping the old title would diminish everything else, making it fade into the background.  Kind of like if you knew you're 6th grade teacher had starred in an adult movie.  Now, that's the only thing that comes to mind when you're in math class.
So, what's the new title?  As of now, the working title is Universal Exploits.  Yeah, it's a bit generic, but there's a wink and a nudge nudge in there, as well.  At least we'll all remember the book's secret name when seeing it on DriveThruRPG.  ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Play Alpha Blue NOW!!!

Back when I was funding Girls Gone Rogue on Kickstarter, one of my stretch goals / campaign promises was to do a backer-wide play by email or chat session of Alpha Blue.

Well, this is where it starts.  Read the description below, roll the dice, see what happens, and comment below how you're going to react (be sure to include a sentence or two about who and what your character is).  Don't have a character?  Either create one from the Alpha Blue RPG rulebook or simply come up with a suitable character concept.

These tables will also tie into my next and last (for awhile, at least) Kickstarter project for Alpha Blue called... Pussy Chasers: The Legend of Oral.  Check it out here.

The After-Party

You missed the actual party, unfortunately.  The freighter hauling 23 space tons of frozen Purple Prizm grape soda was late... then it was stopped by customs... and then almost hijacked by dwermfermers on ultra-amphetamines.  Needless to say, you're ready to get this after-party into full swing!  Let's see what happens soon after you arrive.

1. Someone slipped a turquoise dreamer into your drink.  Now, all you want to do is have anal sex.

2. You accidentally got diverted into a nearby conference room where an orange-furred platypusoid is giving a power-point presentation regarding time-share properties on New Alderaan 2.

3. An alien that's mostly just eyes and glowing indigo snot just threw up all over you.  Gross!

4. After about 20 microns of waiting, you finally got yourself a drink and found the friends you were hanging out with from before - now some random, albeit cute, woman wants you to get her a drink, as well.

5. As soon as you walk in, a trio of large, two-headed, hairy albino ape-men with glittering horns tell you that you're kind isn't welcome here.

6. You order a drink, the bartender pours a thick, molasses-like, chartreuse-colored substance into a tall, rectangular glass and tells you that'll be 15 credits.  You feel around for your space wallet - but it's gone!

7. Some girl wearing a sexy red outfit with three boobs and smoking a personal hookah motions for you to come closer.  You walk towards her just as another spacer comes up to the girl, putting his arm around her.

8. You get an incoming call on your vis-a-fone.  Before you can see who it is, a sneaky little anchovy-based life form swipes it out of your hand and scurries towards the main stage where various strippers are pole-dancing to "Girls, Girls, Girls" by Motley Crue.

9. Just as one stripper is leaving the pole-dancing area and another is entering, one of the women accidentally kicks a platinum credit (worth approximately 100 regular credits) in your drink.

10. A stripper with clear-colored, high-heel platform dancer shoes walks right past you.  She's the hottest girl here tonight.  Your gaze follows her spectacular ass as she walks into the "Anything Goes Room."

11. You're snorting a few lines of vermilion psychopath off some reptilian girl's tits when suddenly the veins under your skin start glowing bright scarlet.

12. Some jackass let his tiger-bot into the party.  It's already clawed up a half-dozen people by the time it finds you - and regards you with cold, predatory disdain.

13. You haven't eaten since connecting with the Purple Prizm freighter at Algeria Gamma.  You're famished and there's nothing to eat!  In the distance, you see some spacer holding a grilled space cheese sandwich.

14. A protocol-bot corners you, regaling you with anecdotes about the Enigma Cluster orbiting Kryus Prime.

15. An old and inebriated acquaintance believes he can shoot faster and straighter than you.  He challenges you to a blaster duel right here and now.

16. A suckered star slug from Vokk Major-Minor insults your funky threads while implying that you have a reputation for disappointing your sexual partners.

17. There's a Knight in White Satin talking to the bartender about something.  Must be pretty important if he's taking up the bartender's valuable time.  Meanwhile, you and the other patrons aren't getting any drinks.

18. Directly in front of you, some girl is taking a selfie with one of her girlfriends.  The flash momentarily blinds you - sending you stumbling into a nearby crowd of people.  Your face somehow ends up in the cleavage of Vanessa Von Tease, a well-known burlesque performer on the outer rim.

19. Princess Assa is in attendance.  She's wearing a tight little blue dress accented with sparkling diamonds.  The Princess has ordered her personal bodyguards to line up some of the more desirable men and women in front of her VIP corner booth.  You're picked to stand in that line.

20. You're fucked up on Tinkerbell's Fairydust, wandering around asking people about the Great Space Chicken and Cosmic Egg.  Eventually, a sentient violet-colored gas tells you about an easy game of smuggler's quarry happening in the next sector.  He's willing to stake you the 5,000 credits required to play, both of you will split the profits... but if you lose it all - he owns you (as in slavery).  Not being in your right mind, you signed a contract agreeing to those terms.

Good luck, spacers!


Monday, May 9, 2016

I have questions for you...

Though they tried in all their myriad ways, Disney, Florida, a cruise ship, Bermuda, my family, and one of the worst flu viruses I've ever experienced could not destroy me.  After all, I'm Venger Satanis.  I endure.

Today, I'm polling.  I want to know what you - the fans, audience, customers, friends, and critics want to see from Kort'thalis Publishing over the next few years.  Why?  Because I couldn't do it without you.  I wouldn't want to.  A roleplaying game is not a solo activity.  It's a group thing.  Without the gamers, there's no game.  Likewise, without your input, my output probably won't meet your expectations.

Don't be shy.  There are no wrong answers or stupid comments.  If you like what I've been doing so far, say so.  If you think things should go in a certain direction, say so.  If you think I should go in a completely different direction, then tell me that.  Whatever is on your mind.  Only the silent get no vote!

  1. What's your favorite/preferred RPG from Kort'thalis Publishing:  Crimson Dragon Slayer, Alpha Blue, or The Outer Presence?
  2. Should Kort'thalis Publishing focus on these three RPGs or keep come up with something new?  Bonus question, if you said "something new," then what would you like to see?
  3. In your opinion, what does CDS, AB, and/or TOP need next to keep you interested and gaming?
  4. What is your favorite/preferred tone(s)?  Sexual/sleazy, grim/dark, comedic/parody/spoof, gonzo/weird, Lovecraftian/cosmic horror, action/adventure, kitsch/vintage, etc.
  5. What is the ideal length?  Less than 10 pages (PDF only), 11 - 20 pages (PDF only), 21 - 35 pages, 36 - 80 pages, 81 - 150 pages?
  6. What's your favorite/preferred content?  Random tables, campaign/setting, detailed NPCs, maps/plans/schematics, or new monsters, items, spells?
  7. Of all Kort'thalis Publishing's books, which is your favorite cover art?
  8. Of all Kort'thalis Publishing's books, describe (with name of book and page number, if possible) three of your favorite pieces of b/w interior illustrations.  Alternatively, describe or show an example of the kind of b/w illustrations you'd like to see in a future work (naming an artist is also fine).
  9. Is there something you'd like Kort'thalis Publishing to offer that hasn't been offered yet or isn't currently available?  Such as GM screen, widespread convention support, hardcover editions, miniatures, video tutorials, more virtual one-shots on Roll20, etc.?
  10. Is there a favorite/preferred color that I haven't used yet that you'd like to see incorporated into a future work?
  11. Please let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like to either see more of or less of.  Inside the box, outside the box, anything!  Your feedback is very important to me.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War

I'd seen the previews.  It looked like another live-action Disney fairy tale spin-off for teen girls and moms.

My wife bought us tickets weeks ago.  As soon as I found out, I suggested she take her mom, my mom, or one of her friends.  Nope, she wanted to go with me.  (Sigh), ok...

Well, I was totally wrong!  The Huntsman: Winter's War actually kicked a substantial amount of ass.  In the Venger Satanis tradition, it borrowed from the great films that came before, melted it down into raw elements, and built something new, yet old, and timeless.

I recognized elements of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Conan the Barbarian, Dungeons & Dragons, and of course Snow White and Frozen.

Halfway through the film, I leaned over to Danielle and whispered, "This is like a D&D game."  It was not only that good, but it emulated an above average session of fantasy roleplaying.

Yes, the film's point of view is primarily female-centric.  That's not a bad thing, just be aware going in.  And yes, it has a decidedly fairy tale feel.  But it's got a great story, too.  And interesting characters.

If you're a fan (or even a casual reader) of this blog, then chances are you'll find a number of things to enjoy.  Go see The Huntsman: Winter's War.  Before you ask... no, I haven't seen the first Huntsman movie.  So, really can't comment on what that one's like.


p.s.  The S'rulyan Vault kickstarter is still going.  Check it out and back this project if you like what you see!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Purple Reign

In honor of the music icon Prince, I've decided to have a sale on The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence for the next few days (both PDF and print).  If you'd like it on a slightly heavier, cream-colored paper, then I've also reduced the price over at CreateSpace (that's Amazon's print-on-demand service).

If you have a personal story or anecdote involving The Purple Islands, please feel free to share it in a comment below.

Let us celebrate the man, the myth, the legend... and the color purple!


p.s.  I was going to end the sale on both Alpha Blue (CreateSpace) and Girls Gone Rogue (CreateSpace) yesterday, but under the circumstances, it seems fitting to keep the reduced price going.  Keep it weird and sexy, y'all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

House of Lies, D&D

I stopped watching the show at the beginning of last year but my wife continues to check out the premium cable series about corporate consultants and their caustic, self-destructive, masters of the universe bullshit + occasional nudity and sex.

However, she only had to say one little thing to get me to watch season 5, episode 2's "Game Theory".  And that was Dungeons & Dragons!

Yes, a good portion of this half-hour Showtime episode revolves around a 5e D&D game.  Doug (one of the main characters) is the Dungeon Master and a prospective new client is one of his players.  There's already a lot of ripping people a new one on House of Lies.  Pretty much everyone's a dick to each other all the time.  So, the teasing that Doug experiences for admitting (for the first time, I'm going to assume) that he not only plays D&D regularly but leads his own group, is actually fairly mild comparatively.

Doug's boss is brought into the game in order to snatch up the would-be client.

Overall, I feel that House of Lies did D&D justice.  It didn't look down on fantasy roleplaying games, nor did it make the game (or us) look stupid.  In fact, there was just the hint of gamer superiority subtly shown.  For instance, Doug scolded Marty (his boss) for rolling dice like it was a craps table, rather than a roleplaying game.

Some of the encounters were summarized, as in "Last week we encountered a tribe of orcs", but some of the gaming happens at the table, in real-time.

Both the 5e D&D Player's Handbook and Monster Manual were shown in Doug's hands, as well as, a large white dragon miniature.  Oh yeah, some Dwarven Forge stuff was shown, too.

I'm also going to assume that D&D won't be brought up again in later episodes.  Usually, when a series delves into fantasy roleplaying, it's an isolated capsule episode that doesn't spill over into the rest of the season or later in the series.  Although, Community did a second D&D episode a year or two after their first.  Actually, I think Big Bang Theory did, also (begging the question, why isn't there an entire season-wide arc based on RPGs?)

In my humble opinion, getting RPGs the recognition they deserve is an endeavor 7 times as worthwhile as complaining about this thing or that thing.  Support your gaming community while improving it.

Work on introducing one or more people to the paper & pencil RPG hobby... soon!  Set up a game for co-workers, friends, neighbors, geek-friendly people in your city, or start a pop-up game somewhere in public and invite people to play who get close enough to see what you're doing.

It should go without saying, if you're going to do it, do it to the best of your ability.  Visual aids like this help (at a fraction of the cost of something like Dwarven Forge), but nothing attracts people to the game and keeps them playing like a skilled Game Master.

Maybe it's been awhile since you've GMed anything and you'd like a refresher.  Perhaps you've always considered your GMing to be lackluster...  For tips, tricks, and techniques that blends old school with millennial artistry, check out my own How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss on sale right now!

My wife still thinks that when guys my age die that games like D&D will die with us.  Let's prove her wrong by making the hobby of tabletop RPGs go viral.



Monday, April 18, 2016

Dungeon Crawl like it's 1983!

Last night, whilst coming up with more random table fodder, Glynn Seal of +MonkeyBlood Design sent me some snapshots, or "oblique angle visuals" as he called them, to help promote The S'rulyan Vault.

Pretty damn cool, if I say so myself.  The blue and white old school look of this deluxe dungeon is classic.  Glynn is adding some of his personal touches like cracked tiles and a variety of little symbols for statues, altars, curtains, pools, stalagmites, fungi, tentacles, etc.  Plus, some of Glynn's custom icons for god-knows-what!  It's going to be a lot of fun to look at, let alone explore with your adventuring party.

Originally, the lighter parchment with black ink and darker parchment with black ink were going to be separate files.  I liked them both and asked Glynn if it was possible to do the lighter parchment for interior areas like rooms and corridors with the darker parchment hue for all exterior spaces.  Lo and behold, it's possible!

Also, the 5 - 7 (at minimum) page PDF will have a full color cover and interior black and white illustration by Kort'thalis Publishing's house artist Bojan Sucevic.  You can see a work-in-progress image of the cover on the right.

The PDF file will be updated periodically via DriveThruRPG when I come up with additional GM material for running a dungeon of this magnitude.  Who knows how extensive the final document will eventually become?

For those who haven't read the mega-dungeon's history, here it is.

Once The S'rulyan Vault kickstarter has reached its first stretch goal of $1,000, the parchment version of the mega-dungeon will be unlocked and available to all backers on June 1st.

That's it.  Have a great week!  Don't be shy about commenting, sharing, blogging, re-posting, and mentioning The S'rulyan Vault on social media.  That's how we'll get to 1K and beyond.  ;)


Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Girl Who Would Be Assassinated

Last Saturday, I was running Alpha Blue at the OddCon convention in Madison, WI.  We had a backroom suite all to ourselves, free from noise and distraction - it was a fantastic experience and one I hope to see over and over again.

A few people did wander into our area, wondering what we were playing.  Invariably, I'd say "Alpha Blue".  They'd respond with, "Never heard of it."  Then I'd reply, "That's because I wrote it.  It's a sci-fi RPG mixed with 70's porn."  Mixed reactions, as expected.

One time I mentioned Ice Pirates, but the young dude hadn't heard of that.  Ice Pirates meets Flash Gordon might be a better description, if one were to dial down the sleaze.

As usual, I had a few ideas in my back pocket.  But mostly, I let character creation, player wanderlust, and luck decide how the scenario was going to go.  Luckily, Alpha Blue and Girls Gone Rogue are filled to the brim with all manner of random tables.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating - GMs should listen to what their players say when not actively playing the game, out of character and usually leading up to the adventure proper.  An attentive GM will pick up all manner of clues: what players want to do with their characters, who they want to talk to, where they want to go, what they want to kill, what's special about their character's backstory, why they need the money, etc.  Because we're all sitting, verbal cues are much more important than body language.  Just by listening to the tone in a player's voice, you can usually tell what's resonating with him.

For instance, the players were interested in things to buy.  +sean mcconkey, who's played Alpha Blue almost as much as I've run it, was talking about various purchasable goods when an idea hit.  Clones!  For a thousand credits, you could buy a clone.  Of course!

That made so much sense to me regarding available technology, avoiding unnecessary PC death, providing money pits for PCs to spend their hard earned credits on, and various shenanigans that can occur during the cloning process, etc.

Plus, what about the ins and outs of obtaining a clone of someone else?  Can one buy the rights (or steal the DNA) to clone the space girl next door?  What about a hardened super-criminal?  Or quantum physics genius?  Is that slavery?  What if you inserted some or all of your consciousness/will into the "not you" clone?  Mmm... possibilities.

So, what are these clones like?  As I envision it, a clone is an identical copy that could be held in reserve as backup or activated immediately - instant twin!  Want more than one clone?  Sure, it's 1,000 credits per clone... you can buy as many as you can afford.  My advice: definitely make that an option in our Alpha Blue game!

Getting back to the character creation process, one of the players was really excited about his space priest / assassin career opportunities and rolled on the debt owed tables in order to purchase his own starship.  He mentioned how "up for anything" he was if and when his creditors asked.

Boom!  That became the hook.  Within minutes of play, that PC received a transmission from the bounty hunters who lent him the credits to buy Tiny Dancer.  On they went to New Alderaan 2.  We all know that something bad happened to the original Alderaan, but apparently both New Alderaan and Alderaan 2 also took turns for the worse.

With my Samsung Galaxy 4, I found a picture of the target, Loganna.  Since New Alderaan 2 was home to domed cities full of beautiful androids draped in brightly colored, see-through fabrics, everyone at the table took a gander at the girl who would be assassinated.

Of course, that wasn't set in stone.  The PC who owed the debt didn't have to track her down and kill her - in fact, I was hoping the party would take an alternative route - but I've found that old habits die hard.  Longtime gamers who've assassinated hundreds of individuals in-game probably don't even question their orders anymore.  If their mission is to take someone out, they take them out... no matter how hot they are!

I've never encountered so many male players choosing to play female characters as when I'm running this RPG.  I like to think that Alpha Blue helps re-program gamers.  Another example is the technician / pirate PC (left my notes at home and have to do all this from memory and I'm terrible with names) who was alone on the ship with several space prostitutes.  As the Space Dungeon Master, I practically had to rip off his clothes (in-game) and grind her vagina on him before he got the hint.  As gamers, we've been so used to avoiding casual and serious, emotional and sexual relationships, attachments, and drama that it seems weird to intentionally involve ourselves in such moments, to embrace them rather than acknowledge them briefly before getting to "the real adventure": breaking in, slaying, and looting.

Another observation I had was a player who kept gambling.  His character was a gambler with an edge (he was invisible, except for clothing, items carried, etc.) and that's pretty much what he did throughout the game, except when forced into combat or situations between card games.  That seemed strange to me, but I went with it.  He actually made several hundred credits, though it didn't seem very exciting, heroic, villainous, adventurous, or sleazy.  To each his own.

Speaking of sleazy, after the assassination and leisure center shoot-out with a competing bounty hunter crew, Sean's pimp character had his girls work the session's concluding party back at the space station brothel we all know and love.  He rolled the best of anyone that game - 3d6, all sixes!  So, I let him re-roll for exploding dice because it was a situation of making money on his star whores.  All told, the party's pimp made 3,300 blue bucks in about two hours.  Who said pimpin' wasn't easy?

One last thing, in an effort to remind players that once per session they could double their dice pools, as well as, creating some additional visual aid, I brought a blue glow stick to the game.  The object was to double a PC's dice pool and then pass the glow stick to someone else who could use it and then he would pass it again.  That actually led to a couple of minor problems.  The passing back and forth was distracting while allowing it to be passed back and forth continually gave everyone 3 or 4 double-ups during the session.

Next time, I'll probably just splurge on a 10-pack of blue glow sticks for about $5.  Then everyone will have one and once they've used it, they can hand it back to me and it's done.

Everyone had a good time, were impressed with the maps, laughed at the tables, got to feel a little dirty, and I can't wait for next time!