Wednesday, March 20, 2019

D&D 5e on Roll20


I've been running my Cha'alt campaign on Roll20 during lunch hours and slow times at work.

Sometimes, I label or tag these playtest sessions Swords & Wizardry, sometimes old school D&D, or just D&D 5e... because close enough, right?

Well, a lot of drop-in gamers feel entitled to the official by-the-book, rules-as-written version of 5th edition.  Some have even dropped out as soon as they discovered that we weren't using character sheets for a one-hour game or that skill checks would be replaced by actual roleplaying.

While I can't totally blame them (I like what I like and have certain expectations, too), I feel they're missing out on a new (to them) D&D experience.

So, this blog post serves two purposes.  The first is to give GMs a glimpse at what I've been using for my Roll20 Cha'alt campaign.  The second is to alert potential players as to my interpretation of 5e via old school lens.

Let's face it, Roll20 isn't real roleplaying.  As Yoda would say, controversial do you find my words? Well, virtual gaming is a Hell of a lot different than the face-to-face variety.  So, without further ado...

House-Rules


  • Instead of little modifiers, I use Advantage (roll 2d20 and take the highest) when circumstances are favorable and Disadvantage (roll 2d20 and take the lowest) when their unfavorable.
  • No character sheets!  
  • Come prepared with a NAME, RACE, CLASS, ALIGNMENT, and SOMETHING NOTEWORTHY ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER.  That's it.
  • Whatever race you pick, you can have only one racial ability that helps your character (infra-vision, resistance to charm spells, superior hearing, whatever).
  • The 4 basic classes only - Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, and Thief.
  • Fighters can add their level to their to-hit roll and damage. Everyone else, you just roll a d20 and hope you roll your opponent's Armor Class or better. 
  • Damage is per weapon - simple weapons like dagger, sling, club, quarterstaff, whip, and a sharp rock all do 1d4.  Medium weapons like short sword, spear, spiked club, rapier, axe, mace, and all bows do 1d6.  Large weapons like greataxe, warhammer, trident, halberd, and all types of longswords do 1d10 damage.
  • Wizards are restricted to simple weapons or they're at a Disadvantage.  Clerics and thieves can use simple and medium weapons, but are at a disadvantage when trying to use large weapons.  Fighters can use any weapon they want without penalty.  
  • I'm still considering high-tech weapons like machines guns and lasers.
  • Natural 20 on an attack roll is a critical hit, resulting in double damage!
  • Alignment!  There are 4 to pick from.  If you choose Law, then you believe in order, justice, community, and most likely worship the New Gods, namely the Lords of Light. Those who choose Chaos believe in natural selection, revenge, and individualism up to and including self-deification. They are more likely to honor the Old Gods, such as K'tulu, Yog-Soggoth, and Uba-Sa'athla. Those of a Neutral alignment try to balance Law and Chaos within themselves and recognize both the Old Gods and the New Gods.  Unaligned means that you don't give a damn about Law, Chaos, or the Gods; you have your own unique philosophy or passion that guides you through the world.
  • Everyone gets 10 HP per level.
  • If you reach zero HP, up to negative your level, you're simply unconscious and will recover soon.  Once you go past that (-5 HP if your character is 4th level), you're character is dead.  Create another one and I'll try to get your new PC back in the game ASAP.
  • All HP refresh after a full 8 hours of rest (interruptions are fine, just make it up by sleeping-in a little longer). 
  • Levels only go up to 10.  At 10th level, the PC is at his adventuring peak.
  • Characters gain a level after every other adventure.
  • Wizards and clerics can use virtually any spell in the Player's Handbook that's equal to their character's level.
  • Every time you cast a spell, you take that spell's level worth of damage. For example, a 3rd level fireball drains the wizard of 3 HP each time it's cast.
  • Certain magic items, such as wands, only wizards can use.
  • Clerics are drained of vitality (HP) the same as wizards when casting - including healing!
  • A 1st level clerical spell can heal 1d6 HP; however, this "divine energy" can instead be used to harm demons, undead, and Lovecraftian abominations [clerical healing/harming goes up to 1d8 at 3rd level and 2d6 at 7th level].
  • Thieves can do all the usual thief abilities.  If it's simple like listening or checking for traps, it can be done easily without rolling, as long as, it's described.  Harder thief tasks should be rolled (see Skill Checks below), after the player describes what his PC is doing.  
  • Thieves can gain advantage on their attack once per combat if the player tells the GM how his PC is sneaking, hiding, surprising, backstabbing, or looking for weak points.
  • At 5th and 10th level, PCs get to pick a feature, special ability, or feat (kool powerz) that relates to their class. Either something they pull from a book or make up on their own.
  • Armor Class starts at 10 and goes up to a maximum of 20.  Wizards cannot wear armor.  Thieves can add their level to AC if not wearing armor.  Leather is +2, shield is +2, helm is +1, chainmail is +4, scalemail is +5, platemail is +6.
  • Saving throws are determined by subtracting a character's level (or monster's HD) from 20.  You need that number or better on a d20 to save.  Natural 20 means you're completely unaffected.
  • Epic Feats of Awesome can be attempted instead of your standard attack.  Subtract your level from 30 and you need that number or better on a d30 to succeed.  The result is whatever the player described.
  • A short rest is somewhere between 45-60 minutes.  You get one of those per day, and it recharges your HP at Xd6, where "X" is your character's level.
  • One round is approximately one minute of game-time.  Combat is abstract, not granular.  So, when it's your PC's action, he can move, talk, and take one action (in any order).
  • Instead of rolling initiative, whichever side would logically strike first goes and then the opposition goes. If there's no clear victor, a tie goes to the PCs.
  • Instead of making a "skill check," just describe what your PC is doing.  Perception and interaction (among other things) will be roleplayed!  If there's a chance of failure, the GM will let you know when to roll.  You need to get a 15 or better on a d20, adding your level to the roll if you're attempting something related to the PC's class.

Did I forget anything?  Probably.  FYI, I just updated this post.  Thanks for your suggestions!

This will make my job easier.  I don't want to have to dig through the book. I don't want players dictating results based on what's written down in some edition or other.  I don't want optimized PC superheroes tearing through anything encountered without fear of death or dismemberment - old school gaming is about desperate adventurers trying to survive in a world gone mad... hoping to attain glory, riches, and power!

There's a good chance I'll eventually turn this into a Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 cheat-sheet PDF for anyone interested in simplistic O5R D&D, either using Roll20 or in-person gaming.

Enjoy,

VS

Monday, March 18, 2019

Stuck In The Middle


I read this Tenkar's Tavern post yesterday, but this is my first opportunity to respond.

Yeah, the middlemen get squeezed.  Those seeking neutral ground will eventually see themselves taking up less and less space.  And that's a shame.  Because politics shouldn't intrude on everything... especially a leisure pursuit like roleplaying games.

To be clear, I'm also a moderate, a centrist, a classical liberal who'd rather not get involved in the culture wars of increasing polarization.  But it wasn't so long ago that free speech, rationality, the rule of law, and focusing on gaming were nonpartisan issues that everyone could agree on.

That is not what's happened over the last 3 or 4 years.  Social media is everything and everything has been influenced (corrupted?) by politics.  The more radical, the better... according to the loudest and least compromising among us.

Any clearheaded person can see that Erik Tenkar contributes to the RPG HIC (Hobby/Industry/Community).  And Pex, as Erik's mouthpiece, has every right to post links to whatever the Tavern is talking about at the moment.  Those SJWs over on Discord can believe what they want... because they're creating a reality all their own.

If Erik and Pex hadn't distanced themselves from me, I'd be there to fight alongside them.  But instead, they chose to throw the baby out with the bathwater and are now being ostracized within certain segments of the HIC because not enough babies were thrown.  Yes, also a subtle jab at post-birth abortions that's now part of mainstream Democrat policy!

Hoist on their own petard.  Sad, but not unexpected.  Live together or die alone, as Lost so eloquently stated.  Meanwhile, I'll be here patiently waiting for my apologies.  Fighting the good fight.  Designing games and doing my za'akier thing.

Good luck to everyone who wants to stay on the sidelines, where it's "safe," and go about their business without getting involved.  Eventually, you too will be swept up in the mob.  Wake up before you suddenly find your head upon the guillotine of social justice!

VS

Thursday, March 14, 2019

GaryCon 2019 (part 2)


Ok, I'm going to primarily talk about the two sessions of Alpha Blue I ran at GaryCon this past weekend.

Even though I was excited to run Alpha Blue (as usual), I was noticeably less so this time around.  And even though I had a great time during the game, something felt a little off.

Part of the reason is that I neglected to bring the core rulebook with me.  I had a big box of Kort'thalis Publishing softcovers in the back of my car, but inexplicably, Alpha Blue was not among them.  And while I did manage to bring this drawing I made of a cantina containing 60+ spacer scum, I forgot to print out the key that would have allowed me to use it properly.  Son of the bitch!

Never wait until the last minute, kids.  And always triple-check your supplies!

Nevertheless, character creation proceeded smoothly using the three word/phrase method! Easy, quick, and flexible, I think that's definitely the way to go for something like a three-hour convention game.

But there was something else, too.  I think it might have been the idea that Alpha Blue has gone "mainstream."  The concept still isn't popular, soft-core sci-fi will always be niche.  Yet, a lot of the people have played it, and so the newness has worn off.  Players familiar with Alpha Blue know what's coming. No longer apprehensive, their illicit expectations guide their characters' behavior.

Take, for instance, the customs officer checking lifeforms over before they can enter Alpha Blue proper.  When he started to get handsy with a female droid PC, she was super eager to go into a little room and get banged.  Then they do that and it's over and... we're onto the next thing.  I guess the potential for conflict was missing and in-game sex seemed like going through the motions.

A similar thing happened with two female droids in the other game.  They hooked themselves up to the little shuttle transporting them to an Alpha Blue bar and had "robot sex" in an instant.  It was amusing and cool, bordering on "naughty," but even as it was happening I could feel the novelty wearing off.

It reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode where the guy thinks he's in heaven because all he does is succeed.  Anything he asks for, he gets.  If he gambles, he always wins.  In a very short time, he's miserable because it no longer feels like real life, soon discovering that he's actually in hell.

There's a few different ways of dealing with that issue.  But I didn't realize there was an issue until I was in the middle of these games.  So, my Cha'alt sessions felt slightly more successful than Alpha Blue, even though I'm pretty sure all 23 (or so) of my players had a great time.

So, how to deal?  Well, I wrote something up for Draconic Magazine.

Nevertheless, lots and lots of laughter reverberated through the aether as players kept trying to one-up each other to new heights of inappropriate degradation.  Below are some brief highlights...

  • Brokeback asteroid.
  • Defibrillating ass-chaps (ass-less chaps)
  • Treasure chest full of gold, vibrating, diamond-crusted cock-rings.
  • Extra-crotchless panties.
  • PCs' starship named "The Green Fairy."
  • That leaky breathing slot in the forehead I'll never be able to erase from my memory banks. 


What else?  I bought some cool "diffusion" style dice in a variety of colors.  All the numbering is plain white... boring vanilla white.  So, I'm in the process of re-coloring the dice numbers.  It's... not going well.  In hopes of making it permanent, I decided to use oil-paint pens.  That was a big mistake.  Even the fine-point ones made a big mess.

Cleaning the dice off with turpentine (paint-thinner) proved time consuming while also wearing off the paint within the numbers - even though I did three coats.  And even after trying to start from scratch with a turpentine bath, the dice still feel a little tacky.

So, tomorrow I'm going to try starting over again with an acrylic pen.  Tentacles crossed!

Will I be back next year?  Not sure; I had to pull a lot of strings to attend this GaryCon XI.  It'll most likely be 2021 before I return.

VS

Monday, March 11, 2019

GaryCon 2019 (part 1)


What a weekend!

Yes, I got back from GaryCon in one piece.  Was there all Thursday and Friday, but had to leave about 1pm on Saturday, after my last game.

There's almost too much to say, so I'm going to keep this kind of brief and condense it all into one blog post.  Wish me luck!  [edit: Nope, just couldn't do it.  This is going to be in two parts.  First, Cha'alt, and then Alpha Blue.]

Session 4

The final session of Cha'alt concerned exploring and looting the frozen insides of the gargantuan purple demon-worm Kra'adumek.  My family and I pre-rolled nearly 100 ability scores (strength, dexterity, etc.), all 3d6 in order, ahead of time.  That's going to come in real handy in the years to come... and will appear in Cha'alt.

As that game was "D&D 5e," there were numerous expectations.  When I told everyone that I wanted to keep it standard races, only one racial ability per character, just the main 4 classes, and you roll a % and what your ability scores turn out to be is what they are, save vs. death... well, some jaws dropped. 

The players were more than a little dismayed (one player's suggestion of pre-gens was solid and I probably should have done that, but also wanted to use my d100 ability score table), but kept their composure (no table flipping), which I appreciated.  After all, if a PC died, he could simply roll up a new one and keep going.  With this method, it wouldn't have taken more than 5 minutes to come up with a whole new character.

We played it old school - distance, movement, and perception checks were all but hand-waved.  And sure enough, just as I told them, once the adventure got underway, how strong or wise their characters were didn't matter as much as thinking things through, tactics, diplomacy, knowing when to step on the gas and when to break, and, of course, luck.

I didn't open any D&D books the entire game... in fact, I neglected to bring any D&D books to the convention - aside from my own scenarios and guidebooks.  To me, that's a sign of a qualified old school GM who's comfortable with his rulings.

This being a con game, they came up with an overarching desire (kill the demon-worm), and I presented them with a way to achieve that... the unexploded photon torpedo.

Several party members almost died, but no one actually bit the big one.  Some nice treasure was had, NPCs interacted with, weirdness encountered, and juicy combat to get the blood pumping... as well as spilling out all over the demon-worm floor.

By the game's end, everyone thanked me for the experience.  I appreciated their indulgence of my old school ways, and a few of them said they were glad that I stuck to my guns.  Overall, I think everyone had been temporarily transported to another world.  That kind of immersion is all the thanks I'll ever need. 


Session 2

The second session of GaryCon was Beneath Kra'adumek.  Since I designated that particular game Swords & Wizardry, the occasional shitty ability scores didn't raise an eyebrow.  This crowd was primed for vintage D&D escapades. 

While I unfortunately forgot to bring my copy of How To Game Master like a Fucking Boss to session 4, I had it with me during session 2.  So, each player rolled % to see what past experience they had. 

The wildest result was a gnome (complete with ridiculous hat) trying to get the PC and others to invest in some financial scheme, offering a transparent cube as some sort of proof-of-concept. 

That could have just been a throw-away idea forgotten as soon as it was said, but no.  The player who rolled that proudly talked about his cube and attempted to seek investors in his uncanny enterprise.  After swapping realities with a nearly identical party, that player decided his cube was now a sphere... and the roleplaying began anew.  By the session's end, his business' tagline was "It never ends."  Appropriate.  ;)

As has usually been the case, the PCs decided to convince several of the purple priests to join a new faction - one instituted by the PCs themselves.  After killing the Ipsissimus and mid-wife-ing a newly hatched demon-worm spawn, it wasn't too difficult to persuade some drugged-out cultists to worship Kra'adumek in an entirely new way. 

They played around with the fissure in time and space, experimented with mutated xoth, ate 67 omelets, and foiled the priest's plans to sacrifice a trio of virgins. 

Due to the freewheeling nature of this dungeon, the loose rules of early D&D, and player personalities, a lot of jokes were told and the table erupted in laughter about a dozen times in those 3 hours of weird retro-escapism. 

There was even a woman among the players, so of course I had to make my own saving throw to avoid chanting, "Old enough to bleed; old enough to play a human barbarian!"  Thankfully, I just made it when the die ricocheted off my slimy green tentacle, and old school grognards were saved having to excuse my toxic masculine diversions. 

Some great and/or hilarious quotes from that session...

  • The New God's name is "wormy"... it's a work in progress.
  • "He who slithers through our minds.  Praise be!"
  • Purple priest playboy mag stuck behind the library books.
  • "Spicy sriracha worms."
  • "May the violet be with you... always."
  • "GnomeSphere... it never ends [TM]."
  • "Obey the slither!"

All in all, both groups were fantastic!  I had a blast GMing for everyone, and I hope the memories of Cha'alt will live long and prosper in our collective imaginations.

Ok, part 2 should come tomorrow.

VS

p.s. I managed to move all 4 sessions to a less noisy, less distracting area of the hotel so we could all enjoy the game without shouting, wondering if we actually heard the other person correctly, or daydreaming about the guy at the next table dressed as Gandalf being bludgeoned into unconsciousness with his own Dwarven Forge terrain.


Monday, March 4, 2019

What's the opposite of humble?


I had intended to stay quiet about everything I know, but this post here on Tenkar's Tavern was, I suppose, the straw that broke the camel's back.

Or maybe because it's almost St. Paddy's Day and the Irish in me just won't let it go.

As much as anything, this blog post is a warning against centralized power, its corrupting nature, cults of personality, and the slippery slope of authoritarianism (yet I hope to keep this apolitical).

Now that I re-read this, it's really long, but I wanted to provide as much as possible so people wouldn't respond with "But, but sour grapes and stuff..."  Yes, some of my interactions left me with bitter feelings, but this is not retaliation for a few slights.  Rather, I want to shine a light on a very public figure before he becomes "too big to fail."  This is to open discussion while it's still feasible to critique the Tenkar Empire without disastrous reprisal.

A little backstory, I've known Erik Tenkar for years, since I started blogging and writing OSR stuff back in 2014.  He was a prolific and well known blogger in those days and his power and recognition has steadily grown since then.

For awhile, Erik and I didn't get along.  But then we kind of got over that and became the kind of friends that's really more like online acquaintances.  He helped me out with promoting various projects, and I tried to show him the same consideration and loyalty (like defending him against Facebook attacks from Stacey and company).

There were isolated moments, like when someone would mention Erik's name in a g+ thread, saying it would be nice if he'd blog about whatever they were kickstarting or selling, but didn't tag him, and he'd find out about it and angrily blog about people who think they're owed.

Looking back, that kind of thing was a trademark of Zak S.  You'd mention his name in passing, and if it was anything but a glowing endorsement, he'd find out about it and criticize you or defend himself by clutching his "tavern keeper beyond reproach" pearls. 

Or when I commented on his blog post with less than complimentary remarks, like Frog God Games virtually giving their old Pathfinder compatible stock away at a convention... those comments either never made their way to his blog or were deleted without comment.

Not too long ago, I asked if I could guest post on his blog, which he regularly encouraged.  He said sure, but when I sent him the content, there was zero response and it never appeared.  That I can sort of understand, because it was a little risque, having to do with Alpha Blue and legalized brothels in Nevada.  Nevertheless, an email saying, "Sorry, that's too much." would have been nice.

And then there's the proposed OSR answer to the ENnies. Erik brought me into discussion and even asked me to be one of three judges.  It was going to be Erik, one of the Spahn guys (I think) and myself.  The OSR was going to have its own annual award.  After several back and forth emails, it was suddenly dropped.  I have no idea why.  I asked, and got no reply.  I assume it was because several OSR products were actually up for an ENnie award that year and a separate OSR award would seem redundant, but I'm still in the dark about those details.

As many of you know, Erik expanded his empire from blogging to podcasting and becoming a Discord fan.  He and his helper, Pex, asked me to join.  They created a channel or sub-section or whatever for Kort'thalis Publishing even before I could say yes.  That kind of reminded me of the whole U2 and itunes debacle, but I didn't want to make a fuss.  Ok, fine, I said.

Pex in particular would gently remind me on a regular basis to keep posting into the Discord void, so I did, even though it seemed no one was listening and I just didn't like the Discord format.  In fact, I was so impressed with Pex's constant encouragement (eventually, it probably would have seemed like nagging, but maybe that's because I've been married for 7 years), that I asked if he'd be interested in working for Kort'thalis Publishing.  He said yes after we negotiated compensation.

A short while later, I released my transhumanist blog post.  It was a day or two before I could respond to anything because of my usual busy family life. 

Basically, I was booted from Tenkar's Discord machine and Pex told me he wanted nothing more to do with me.

I received an email from Tenkar. The subject line was "Man did you step in it."  In the email he states that he wasn't sure what my intent was, but that "flames were spreading" and there was a decision made to remove my publisher's channel."

Despite a few people coming to my defense and calling Erik "transphobic," I attempted to inform Erik on what was going on, why I posted it, etc.

He derisively responded with "Thanks for your concern. If I have something to say, You know where to read it".

I mentioned what had been happening on Twitter, and again one of Erik's spies reported the news back to him where he passive-aggressively responded in an email the following...

Twice on Twitter you claimed you were "kicked off" or expelled from The Tavern's Discord Server. Both times you were incorrect. Your Publisher's Channel was removed (as you were informed of) but you were still a member of the server. Since you desire to be removed from the server (based upon your own claims) we have now removed your membership from the server as you have indirectly requested.

Sincerely,
Erik Tenkar


I responded by asking why I'd want to stay somewhere I was clearly unwelcome?  And that he was effectively exiling me from the Tenkar Empire.  I haven't spoken to him since (but seeing him at GaryCon might be awkward).

Before the whole transhuman blog post, Tenkar had mentioned his support of my upcoming Cha'alt project.  Said that he looked forward to seeing more and talking about it on the various places where he discusses RPG matters.

I never bothered to ask for his support when the kickstarter went live, weeks after the za'akier post.  Partly because I was confident he'd refuse, but also because I didn't want the backing of someone like that, someone who turns his back on a friend because of some ruffled internet feathers, someone who purports to be an ivory pillar of virtue and integrity, but when it really comes down to it is no better or worse than the rest of us. 

Erik, if you had taken money in exchange for mentioning products, that would be a lot less shady than what I've seen from you thus far. 

At least I admit that I'm just an old school smut-peddler who's just as easy to corrupt as the next guy. Sure, I can be a dick sometimes.  I also like to poke fun at sacred cows.  Hell, that's why I've taken Satanis as part of my name.  I'm down here in the dirt - below the dirt, actually; where the dungeons are... bedrock.  Hell itself!  I don't fire back at gamers with "How dare you, sir? I'm a humble bartender and have the utmost reputation!" pretentious twaddle. 

Erik, get over yourself.  The majority of people who've claimed that you have harassed them, most likely deserve it (deadbeat KS people, Stacey, etc.).  But also know that you're presence is intimidating to regular folks, too.  I, myself, hesitated before writing this because of who you are (OSR Emperor, Frog God representative, ex-cop, etc.), but I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I stayed silent.

To Erik's audience, I say this: Be careful of idolatry.  The neutral ground of today may become the golden calf of tomorrow...

VS


p.s.  If anyone wants to get something off their chest or get sensitive information into the right hands, feel free to email me.  If you'd prefer to remain off the record, I have no problem quoting you anonymously. 


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Crowd-Sourcing Awesome


My brain is usually working on a dozen different things all at once, but Cha'alt is a huge project and GaryCon is coming up, and I also need to finish off a couple things from awhile back.

I'm feeling creatively blocked.

So, I'm throwing these questions out in hopes that you guys will respond with some inspiring awesomeness. Here goes nothing!


  • There's a small orange cube and a small blue cube, both magical, (possibly thinking of order vs. chaos) what do the cubes do?
  • If I produced a sequel to Dead God Excavation, what would you want to see?
  • Where would you like me to take the last part of the THOT trilogy?

Ok, that's it for now.  Thanks!

VS

Monday, February 25, 2019

D&D Booze Zine


Justin Ryan Isaac has written a plethora of RPG reviews for yours truly, so this is my chance to blog about his efforts!

The man and his cohorts are kickstarting a zine called Cade's Big Book 'o Booze

It looks both fun and useful, so please consider backing this project.  It's his first, and you know how Venger feels about popping cherries... only by the full moon and when I feel the loathsomeness of His tentacles wrapped around my glimmering emerald soul...

And who doesn't want to bludgeon monsters with a dwarven battle mug?  Huzzah! 

Only $5 for the PDF and $12 for both PDF and print.

VS

p.s. Would y'all like to see Purple Prizm in there?  Let's see if we can make that happen.  ;)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Stars Without Civility

UPDATE:  Apparently, that comment didn't come from Kevin Crawford of Sine Nomine Publishing, but some jackass impersonating him. 

Ok, this post is about Kevin Crawford [yeah, some other dude] throwing down on Prince of Nothing's Stars Without Number review.

Now, it would be hypocritical of me to say creators shouldn't rail against criticism.  I do it all the time (hope you're finally able to sit down without one of those donut-cushions, Bryce).  Some critiques are valuable, others are the opposite of that.

But I didn't really say anything too negative.  The whole comment section (just like the review itself) is basically a love-letter to Stars Without Number.

Here's what I wrote...

"Some of the tools do sound useful, but overall the system doesn't do it for me. You guys have fun!"

And this was Kevin Crawford's response...

"I considered honestly responding but then I realized that the greatest thing you ever produced was the shit that dribbled down your mother's leg while she birthed you."

Credit where credit is due, it's colorful.  But he comes across as a huge jerk.  At first, I assumed maybe it wasn't actually him, or that he was responding to another comment, instead of mine.

And is it just me, or does that sound... illogical?  How exactly am I producing the shit dribbling down my mother's leg while she birthed me?  If anything, that's a product of my mother or the birthing process in general.  I don't think I had any hand in producing the aforementioned dribbling shit.  Oh well.

Then I read another reply from a third party...

"That is definitely the real Kevin Crawford. Most people assume that he's pretty chill, but now you know."

I'm not sure why he was an asshole to me, it could be a variety of little slights which gamers imagine are terrible abuses towards the entire RPG community or whatever.

I'd trash talk him back if I knew more about his game.  Unfortunately, all I know is that it's OSR, scifi, really long at 300+ pages (kind of a deal-breaker for me right there), and extremely popular. Also, the whole Scream thing sound pretty awesome!

Regardless, I'm very proud of my creation, Alpha Blue.  Sure, its audience is a fraction of Kevin's, but it services a niche rarely talked about in RPG circles... rules-light, sleazy, scifi parody.

Alpha Blue has come a long way, boasting a dozen supplements, scenarios, and helpful tid-bits for the BDSM who's brave or insane enough to run something like that.  Check out what Kort'thalis Publishing offers.

To anyone who has a problem with me, what I produce, my mother, or any adjacent dribbling, please come forward, speak your mind.  Let's get it all out in the open. Private resentments, secret harassment campaigns, boycotting, and just bad blood in general - I've suffered through all of them and have come out stronger for it.

Ok, you know where to find me.  Have a great weekend, no matter how much of an asshole you are!  ;)

VS

p.s. This week, I put up two Alpha Blue articles on Draconic Magazine
here and here.  Hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

James Raggi / LotFP Statement


This whole fiasco seems to be winding down.  Hopefully, this is my last post on the matter and we can all (well, almost all) move on to better things.

Here is the official Lamentations of the Flame Princess statement by James Raggi IV via FaceBook.

Basically, it cuts short Zak S' collaboration with LotFP.

Like many people and organizations have attempted, it's a good solid compromise.  No more books by Zak S., but neither will there be a book burning party.  Previous stock will slowly be sold off, and then that's it.

No one's great at everything.  One may quibble at the man's style or aesthetics or taste, but Zak Smith/Sabbath could write, draw, self-promote, and he even had some great ideas.  But there's always a flaw, isn't there.  He couldn't be a decent human being.  Actually, I don't think he could do his own layout, either.  Oh well.

Additionally, WotC/Hasbro is erasing all consultant credits from future printings and digital versions of the Player's Handbook. That sucks for everyone who isn't currently besieged by abuse allegations. Legally, it may be sound, and I'm sure it'll cover their asses in regards to the online activist outrage mob, but is it fair?  Nope, not really.

Never did get James' apology for throwing Jordan Peterson under the bus... [sigh]  This is a depressing blog post.

Hey, buy some PDFs from Kort'thalis Publishing!

VS

p.s. I thought it was amusing that out of dozens of FB comments, mine is pretty much the only one that no one without a "like" or reply.

Here it is for posterity (until Google annihilates this blog), "I hope we can all learn and grow from these experiences." Not just pretty words. It's a civil and objective wake-up call to those keeping at least one eye open.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Frank Mentzer & GaryCon


Point of clarification, in this post I'll be referring to the RPG hobby, industry, and community with the following acronym: HIC.

There was a vague announcement of legendary "Red Box" Frank Mentzer's guest of honor title/privileges being taken away over here on the GaryCon website.

Now, we have some answers... but even more questions with this FaceBook page (why is it always FaceBook?!?) posted, again by Luke Gygax, just a couple hours ago.

It seems to be a mix of new, additional bad behavior from Frank Mentzer, as well as, GaryCon pivoting with these times of social change.

Eventually, I'm sure we'll find out exactly what Frank Mentzer said or did that set these new events in motion.  At the moment, I'm a little conflicted as to how I feel about the situation. 

Like anything, social change has a positive and negative side.  We've seen both in the last few years.  Words like inclusion, diversity, equity, and toxicity sound great, like they're real improvements to the overall culture and gaming spaces.  But they've also been wielded like a club, turning one segment of the HIC against another until the inevitable winners and losers emerge. 

I've been attacked for perceived slights against "social justice."  That's probably equal parts speaking my mind and speaking out against the internet outrage mob vilifying this person or that play-style or those games.

As always, we need to be careful not to throw the dragon out with the dungeon bathwater.  I don't like the idea of erasing people from gaming because they've done something or been accused of doing something inappropriate or even harmful and destructive.  Who among us is without sin?

But at the same time, I think we're all better off keeping the absolute worst individuals a ten-foot pole's distance away from our HIC.  This begs the question, is Frank Mentzer anywhere near the same camp as Zak S?  What about Jessica Price herself... where does she fall on the scale?  What about myself, RPG Pundit, Grim Jim Desborough, James Raggi, or Kiel Chenier? Who decides? 

Without knowing more, I'm going to err on the side of trusting Luke Gygax and attending GaryCon because I don't have all the facts, and because taking away Frank's guest of honor status is not the same as banning him from the convention, or worse, unpersoning him from the HIC.  Plus, I have a feeling there's a recent indiscretion which forced Luke's hand.

To anyone who's thinking about boycotting (or simply not attending) GaryCon over this, I think it's too late in the day and we're too in the dark to do anything so drastic.  Decide about next year's GaryCon when you have an entire year to weigh the pros and cons (no pun intended).

After all, I'll be there and my "problematic" attitudes and "toxic za'akier male" swagger will be in full effect.  We shouldn't let politics ruin an awesome weekend of gaming.

VS

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Schrodinger's Review


So, Endzeitgeist posted his review of Sexual Predators over on his blog.

There's a few things to say about it, so I'll just dive right in...

Apparently, not having the numbers on a map is a big deal to virtual tabletop gamers.  I knew about secret doors, labels saying "this is a trap right here", and obvious icons like the nuclear hazard symbol, but didn't know that an unnumbered map was even more useful to those folks.

But now I do thanks to Thilo's review and Sexual Predators has an unnumbered Crimson Dwarf map as of last night.  FYI, I'm not so high up in my emerald tower of tentacles that I won't listen to fans of my work.  If you guys want something, first ask me if I can provide it before cursing at the darkness.

Next, I'd like to discuss the title.  Yes, Alpha Blue is a sexual game, Predators is the name of the movie I was referencing and showing in the cover image, so Sexual Predators seemed like the perfect fit.  Indeed, I was also trying to be provocative... but not actually offensive.

For one, the main adventure's antagonist actually is a sexual predator, and the PCs struggle against him and what he represents.  Any RPG title that mentions dungeons or lairs or keeps is inevitably about entering someone else's home, slaughtering them, and stealing their belongings.  I get it, there's a reason we don't title scenarios "Home Invasion Butchery & Theft."  That's an ugly thing to dwell on and we have a host of rationalizations to assuage any negative view of our selves or our characters' actions.  Nevertheless, that darkness is in there.

Sure, there's some deeply unpleasant, not to mention morally repugnant, things associated with "sexual predators;" however, like most English words and phrases, there are a variety of meanings.

Here's the "sexual predators" wiki page and it mentions the really bad stuff like human trafficking.  But it also mentions having to hunt for your sex partners or habitually seeking sexual situations that are self-serving or exploitative.  And it's not always "toxic masculinity" displaying "problematic" behavior towards women.  As we all know, the female of the species can be deadlier than the male.  So, the title is apt in several regards.

I just want to make it clear that when I titled that Alpha Blue scenario Sexual Predators, I wasn't trying to pull off a Tournament of Rapists.  That's a line even I don't want to cross.

Lastly, Endzeitgeist posted his review of Sexual Predators on rpg.net yesterday morning.  Since then, the listing on rpg.net has disappeared, reappeared, and occasionally disappeared with no explanation. When I check the review page (like just now), it shows up.  But the main page shows there are no reviews for Friday, that OSR reviews will resume on Monday.  Likewise, there's no thread in the review board of their forum.

So, it's like the Sexual Predators review both exists and doesn't really exist on rpg.net.  Hence the title of this blog post, Schrodinger's Review.

I'll end by mentioning the continued polarization of the entire world that seems to increase every single day.  It's gone far beyond politics.  It's in everything, and I don't think we can ignore it any longer.  It's gone from existential crisis to palpable atmosphere of fear and hatred and irreconcilable differences.

While I'm fucking sick and tired of it, I can't simply pretend that it'll go away on its own.  Deep, foundational divisions don't get better over time, they only get worse until substantive repairs are made.  And I don't see that happening anytime soon.

VS

Thursday, February 14, 2019

THOT Police on DriveThru


Ok, let's take a little break from the drama to celebrate Valentine's Day the old fashioned way - with a sleazy sci-fi scenario!

Yep, I just uploaded THOT Police to DriveThruRPG. It's the second part of a trilogy that began with THOT Audit.

Let me know what you think, and please enjoy...

VS

p.s. There's a Cha'alt easter egg for all you spacers that backed my KS.  ;)

Zak S. Statement Commentary


I just read Zak S' official response.  Here's the link.

Not sure why it wasn't on his blog, but I'm sure his lawyer is giving him all the appropriate advice.

It's actually pretty good and puts Mandy and company in a slightly awkward light.  Of course, he produces very few actual receipts, but maybe that's to be expected.  Now, it's mostly down to he said, she said, she said, she said, and she said (with at least one of those coming to Zak's defense).

Yeah, he's still in a lot of trouble, but that gives him a chance to make some sort of partial recovery.  However, waiting three days to respond to those allegations seems nuts.  I mean, one more week and the next news cycle would have hit, either another #metoo casualty or we find out that some big shot in the RPG community is acting shady behind the scenes.

My wife has her share of health problems (nothing like Mandy, though).  So, I know the added layers of stress, strain, frustration, and emotional trauma that goes into relationships when a partner isn't well.

It's valentine's day today... and maybe it's part hormones, part health concerns, and part v-day expectations, but my wife was really antagonistic towards me today. I couldn't take a picture right and it was the end of the world.  By the time she finally left this morning, she was (all her own words) furious, sad, broken, falling apart, having an emotional breakdown, sorry for the way she had treated me, and said that I was her rock and that she loved me just before leaving the house.  All that in about one hour.

Makes me think of that line from The Godfather, "There are things that have been going on between men and women for thousands of years..." (I'm paraphrasing because I couldn't find the exact quote on google).

Or that other one... "In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns."

In the end, we'll never really know exactly what happened, what the truth of Zak S. and all his many sexual relationships with women were about.  Dude, are you trying to set the record straight or just bragging?

But the one thing I keep coming back to is that Zak S. has been a fucking asshole to a lot of people over the years. That, in my opinion, is the original sin of this tragedy.  If he hadn't been a tremendous dick to literally hundreds of his colleagues, peers, partners, and would-be fans, the vast majority would have given him the benefit of the doubt - at least until he'd released some kind of statement.

As it is, there's six degrees of separation between any random gamer and someone he's seriously wronged in the past.

So, the next big question is - will anyone (I'm especially interested in OneBookShelf) walk-back their pronouncements?  Does Zak S. have a shot at continuing to make money in the RPG industry?  Is this what James Raggi IV of Lamentations of the Flame Princess fame was waiting for... where's his statement?

I don't know if this soap opera is going to keep going or not, but if there are major developments, I'll talk about them here.

VS

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Zak S. Fallout


This blog post's job is to shed light on everything either suspect or outright wrong that's happening in the shadow of the Zak S. #MeToo scandal, in no particular order...

1. DriveThruRPG has deplatformed, unpersoned, and demonetized forthcoming books where Zak S. has contributed.  Here's the link.

While I don't think that's a terrible decision (some consumers are asking for even more activism on OneBookShelf's part), it's a slippery slope.  If such over-correcting nonsense like rpg.net banning support for President Trump and his policies wasn't a thing, I wouldn't be as worried about who's going to be unpersoned next.

While I don't think OBS will risk a full-scale meltdown by getting rid of Alexander Macris, James Raggi, RPG Pundit, or Grim Jim Desborough, (or me, tentacles crossed), the line is certainly getting closer.

False accusations do happen.  All it takes is an edgy persona + offending the outrage brigade + someone accusing you of bad stuff in your personal life = vaporization from the RPG industry.

2. The lynch mob never stays in its lane!  Revolutions have a nasty habit of throwing innocents onto the guillotine, as well as, the guilty.  I've already seen where RPG Pundit and myself have been mentioned on twitter.  Like, we've finally gotten rid of Zak S... who else can we execute in the chaos without too much backlash?

That's not only not cool, but a dangerous path to tread.  If you're going to blame Zak S. (and I believe you should), don't go looking for adjacent scapegoats or bogeymen to also take down just because you're outrage-bloodlust hasn't been sated.

3. A lot of people are catching a whole lot of unnecessary flack for simply wanting more information, for wanting proof besides the word of several women.  And even then, some people believe Zak S. shouldn't be crucified before he's even had a chance to defend himself.

And some people, let's be honest, just don't want to get involved.  Maybe they feel it's none of their business.  Perhaps they're sickened by the sordid details or mob mentality or have some lingering respect for the accused.

In the end, it doesn't matter.  If a person doesn't feel like piling on, that's ok.  They don't have to.  They shouldn't be forced to feel the same way about something as you feel about it or that guy over there.

4. While I mixed my own ideological beliefs with the Zak S. scandal (right over here), I'm not the only one.  ConTessa put out a statement which contained the following, "ConTessa was founded on the principal [sic] that gaming space could be better spaces by letting women, people of color and LBGTQ+ take leadership positions, so that those spaces could be moved into less toxic directions than the default ones lead by straight, white men." Emphasis mine.

Even if her heart is in the right place, that just comes across as disgusting.  If you want to make gaming more inclusive and diverse, don't put down another's race, gender, and sexual orientation.  Straight, white men are not more or less inherently toxic than any other demographic.  Support of fresh faces doesn't necessitate the vilification of traditional ones.

No one is gate-keeping minorities from picking up an RPG, finding players, and running all the sessions they want.  Keep your identity politics the fuck away from gaming!

Those are my 4 points, maybe I'll come up others later, but these are the main ones currently sticking in my craw.  Thank you for reading.

VS

p.s. Well, that's unfortunate...

Monday, February 11, 2019

Zak S and #MeToo


Just before going to bed, I noticed a post on MeWe about Zak S. 

Normally, it would be about one of his books, since he is a good writer, and because by this time, I think a lot of people are tired of his drama, his attacks, his harassment, his arguments, his blocking people, his influence on such people as James Raggi and things like Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

It turns out that his former girlfriend just came forward with her story, corroborated with several other women, about Zak S' abuse, assault, and sheer awful behavior towards women.

Here is the public FaceBook post of Mandy Morbid.

Having been in conversations with Zak S, as well as, having lived in a hobby/industry where he parades around like the imaginary king of social justice and roleplaying, I 100% believe these women.  Zak S. absolutely seems capable of what's described.

I feel bad for those he's hurt.  I hope their recovery is swift and sure.

Authoritarians need to be recognized, confronted, and defused ASAP.  Don't wait.  Don't appease them, don't give into their demands, don't bend over backwards... just don't. 

I heard that Zak S. was a socialist.  Normally, this wouldn't be the time or place to mention this.  In fact, at any other time, self-identifying as a socialist would be a "Who cares?" moment, rather than a sub-section of this #MeToo moment.  However, with President Donald Trump coming out and saying that America will never be a socialist country in his State of the Union address, I think it's topical.

Socialism is based on government control. As government expands, that control broadens and strengthens. Power, especially when centralized like that, leads to horrific abuses. Like people being imprisoned and/or killed if they don't conform.  Of course, authoritarians like it when they're the ones in control.  They like to set everything in order - their order - that others have to follow... or else.

Well, I'll never lay down for tyranny.  I don't care if it's Zak S, a foreign power, "democratic" socialists (like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) within our United States, SJWs, armed and masked SJWs (Antifa), or anyone else. 

The moment you try to force me to live by your arbitrary rules, against my self-interest, I know it's time to fight back.

Here's to fighting back against tyrants!

VS

p.s. James, I expect a full retraction of your statement disavowing Jordan Peterson.  He's a goddamn Canadian treasure, and as you're probably aware, the world doesn't have many of those.  Treat him with the admiration and respect he deserves.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Frozen Demon Worm


So, I had this cool idea - the polar vortex temporarily froze the surface of Cha'alt... including the violet demon-worm (there was an uprising and the current priesthood faction in power prefers the color violet).

Since it's frozen, why not explore?  This is turning into a fun little gonzo dungeon and I playtested it earlier today on Roll20.

The whole thing should be done in time for GaryCon.  And I'll release a playtest packet around then for feedback.

Love Glynn Seal's sketch!  Click on it...

Anyways, the kickstarter funded.  Yay!  I'm super stoked about that, and thinking about setting up a backerkit or whatever to keep track of post-kickstarter pre-sales.  More info on that in a few days.

Thanks,

VS

Friday, February 1, 2019

Beneath Kra'adumek now on DriveThruRPG


Well, the big news is that Cha'alt funded and is still going strong!

DriveThru got their bugs fixed and the files have been uploaded.  Even better, they've been slightly updated based upon the awesome feedback of a couple Cha'alt kickstarter backers (thanks, guys)...

Yes, there were some typos and "WTF are you talking about, Venger?" moments.  Since I was already in there poking around, I added a couple of neat little flourishes as a bonus.

Here's the DriveThruRPG link!  As I've said, Beneath Kra'adumek is an easy introduction into the weird world that is Cha'alt, and a pretty kickass dungeoncrawl, as well.

If you run your group through it, please let me know the results.  I want session reports, people!  ;)

Enjoy,

VS

p.s. One bit of feedback was a nice little random table.  There wasn't space or time to neatly include it in the playtest packet, but I'll refine it over the weekend and put it up on Draconic magazine.  Watch this space for a link!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Beneath Kra'adumek


TL;DR: There's something awesome waiting for you at the end of this post.  Ok, cue the violins...

The Cha'alt kickstarter was doing pretty well up until about 4 days ago. It's seriously stalled.  Though, I'm hopeful for a big push here at the end!

Besides wanting to see the campaign world, megadungeon, etc. manifest in the world, I have a looming shadow of a reason for wanting the KS to fund.

I'm sure my wife isn't going to let me take another pass at Cha'alt... and this failure may convince her that my niche within a niche hobby-business isn't worth the time, energy, aggravation, etc.  She's been making that argument for awhile now.

I'll always continue to roleplay and perhaps Zoltar Khan Delgado won't fade away, either.  But the Venger you know and love will most likely no longer exist.  Sad, I know.  So, let's, you know, not let that shit happen.  Ok?  Cool, cool, cool.

In the midst of this polar vortex (yep, that's going to be incorporated somewhere along the way), I'm doing what I can to try and promote Cha'alt.  But it's not easy when I'm at home with 5 kids all day (schools shut down + weekends).

Anyway, Glynn came up with an idea for raising awareness and generating interest in the kickstarter - release the one-shot scenario Beneath Kra'adumek into the wild.  This gives everyone a taste of what Cha'alt will be like.

As it happens, DriveThruRPG is down for routine maintenance.  Great timing, guys!  So, here are the files...

Color version

Black & White version

Map (numbered)

Map (unnumbered - player friendly)

Well, that's it.  Please consider backing the Cha'alt kickstarter which only has a few days left to go!

Sincerely,

VS

p.s. I was going to upload Beneath Kra'adumek onto DriveThru in order to reach more people, but I keep getting an error.  So, that's awesome!  Will try again later today.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Cha'alt session report 2.1


Now, that I've been writing Cha'alt in earnest, one of the introductory dungeons is ready to go... and I just got done playtesting it with some gamers on Roll20.

Backers will get their hands on the playtest packet next week!

The session went well.  Things moved along nicely, with exploration, combat, and interaction all showcased.  Some treasure was found.  Bits and pieces of world-building occurred.  The wizard almost died, the fighter fought with a tentacle that game him a nasty disease, and at one point everyone thought death was definitely a strong possibility. 

But the players only scratched the surface of the complex beneath the City of the Purple Demon-Worm!  I look forward to next week... and GMing for the rest of you.

Only 12 days left to fund Cha'alt!

Thanks,

VS

Friday, January 18, 2019

Under Pressure


I was re-reading my unbelievably fantastic interview at the Age of Dusk blog (really, it's so scrumptious that some cultures would probably view it as high-art erotica) while also enjoying the commentary below - then something struck me...

What are the reasons for story-gaming over traditional roleplaying? 


  1. Lack of imagination - People just can't come up with anything creative because they don't have the imagination.  Hey, not everybody's wired that way.  But then why would they gravitate to RPGs at all?  So, I don't think it's lack of imagination.
  2. Pressure to perform - You're expected to come up with something good on-the-spot.  Roleplaying is a performance art.  And I'm not just talking about getting your character's voice right, but tactics, strategy, logistics, persuasion, and all the little details that go into playing an RPG.  We live in an age when the fear of failure is greater than the ambition to succeed.  There are no winners or losers, just the possibility of more PC pseudo-angst.  Here's your participation award.
  3. Laziness - Continually thinking of genre, character, and story appropriate things is difficult.  Wouldn't it just be easier if the rules or some play-book did the work for you?  Sure, it would.  But there goes one of the best parts of roleplaying - creating something tremendous from the humble micro-tools you start with, like profession, ability scores, name, equipment, personality, etc.  This will help without doing all the work for you!
  4. Bad GMs - Sure, there are a lot of piss-poor Game Masters out there.  Sad, but true.  Some GMs are sadistic bastards or failed novelists or egotistical attention hogs.  A few RPG designers try to actively counteract bad GMing by coming up with rules that strip GMs of their power and players their opportunity.
  5. Ignorance - If story-games are all you know, then maybe you're not aware of traditional RPGs.  Perhaps you've never experienced the creative freedom that comes from having a character in a fairly open, lawless sandbox without training wheels, railroad tracks, or "special moves" that hold your hand all the way to the finish line.  I'm talking about RPG sessions where virtually anything is possible!

If I had to pick just one of the five, I'd probably blame story-games on the pressure to perform.  Almost everyone gets some form of performance anxiety (even if it's extraordinarily mild or productive eustress that catapults you to new heights).  

Even though I routinely GM like a fucking boss, I still get nervous occasionally.  But I don't let nerves or anxiety stop me from enjoying an awesome game with both friends and strangers.  I simply do my best, knowing full well that every so often I will fail.  The failure doesn't bother me as much as not living up to my potential.  

Hope you got something out of this... oh yeah and Cha'alt has about 16 days left to fund! Those hardcovers are going fast.  Don't miss out!!!  ;)

VS

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Cha'alt Kickstarter Struggling




In case you can't watch the video, here's a brief summary (actually, just read it.  I expanded upon some things)...

Yeah, things could be going better.  That's ok.  I'm still plugging away, and so are a few of my fanatical supporters who want to see Venger Satanis and Cha'alt succeed!

I don't make safe, normal, pedestrian, commercial D&D (or any RPG content).  Nor am I trying to out-shock anyone with super edgy, controversial on-purpose stuff. If you think a little T&A on the cover is over-the-top, then I can't help you.  My writing occasionally comes across as weird or uncomfortable because I'm just being me.  Sure, I keep the audience in mind, but at the end of the day, I'm creating content for myself. 

Check out Prince of Nothing's blog post.  It's insightful.  Plus, there was a really nice comment at the end that I want to quote, "Venger Satanis does crazy stuff and when people complain, he doesn't apologize... he fights."

That will stick with me, no matter what.  That is what's important.  Even if Cha'alt is stillborn, I have a feeling it'll live on... Maybe it'll be one of those time-capsule near-misses of history like Jodorowsky's Dune.  Almost got made; unfortunately, the stars just weren't right.  But man, that would have been fucking awesome!

Obviously, I don't have a huge fan-base.  The only crowd I cater to is the one that loves raw, fun, authentic gaming.  Nevertheless, it would be cool to have help getting the word out about Cha'alt - only 19 days before the KS is over!  We have a loooong ways to go.

Thanks,

VS

p.s. Almost finished with maps 2 and 3.  Will blog about that tomorrow.

Monday, January 14, 2019

The First of Many


It's been a long time since I've spent serious time and energy making my own maps. 

For a number of reasons [Cha'alt being one of them], I decided to try my hand at it once more.  Got a couple decent hours of peace and quiet over the weekend and bashed this out. 

The map in question is called Beneath Kra'adumek (City of the Purple Demon-Worm).  It's on 14" x 17" drawing paper, so I'll probably have to go to my local copy shop to scan it.

This dungeon could be something for Cha'alt, the Purple Islands, or possibly both...

Trying to find my own style.  It's fairly simple, didn't want to start with anything too challenging.  I figure after a couple dozen, I'll hit the next plateau.  We'll see.

Let me know if you like it,

VS

p.s. If you haven't yet, please support my latest kickstarter.  Cha'alt needs you!


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Cha'alt Hardcover Option


That's right, there's now a professionally printed hardcover tier for the Cha'alt kickstarter!

It's limited to 1,000... so, get in on that while they're available.  Don't wait for ebay where you might see one for $300 in a couple years.

Thanks again for your support, and please share this news with your gaming friends.  ;)

VS

p.s. Here's a look at yet another Yannick Bouchard masterpiece that will be included in my full-color magnum opus Cha'alt.

p.p.s. Alien dinosaurs fighting in the post-apocalyptic wastes as some dude from the late 21st century hopes to survive!


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Cha'alt Kickstarter Live


I've been talking about Cha'alt since the summer, and now it's finally taking shape enough to Kickstart.  Check out the KS page!

I'm not sure if something in my unconscious picked up on it or it's just an uncanny coincidence, but apparently there was talk of a meta-OSR black ziggurat project way back in 2010 here and mentioned here in 2012. 

I haven't begun to track down all the references, but it's weird and awesome to stumble upon all this after months of thinking about the black pyramid of Cha'alt.

That kind of pedigree only gets my juices flowing faster!  Now, I want to do right by all the OSR bloggers who created their own black ziggurat a decade or two ago.

Well, if you have any questions about the kickstarter, Cha'alt, the black pyramid, or anything else, please feel free to comment below. 

Also, feel free to mention the KS campaign around social media, blog about it, discuss on forums, etc.  I don't have an entire company backing me.  I am the company.  Marketing, promotion, and advertising are jobs all their own.

Thanks,

VS

p.s. Months ago, I was calling the megadungeon The Black Pyramid, but then a few weeks ago I started calling it the Great Pyramid of Cha'alt.  Based on the above information, I'm thinking The Black Pyramid has more... resonance.  Thoughts?


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Hand Drawing Dungeons


This is just a quick proof of concept to see if I can draw a half-decent dungeon.

I had graph paper, one too thick black marker and a regular ball-point black pen.  Did these in 20 minutes.

So far, I'm mildly pleased.  Will keep working on it and read up on all the tutorials swirling around the internet.

VS

p.s.  Guess what?  My new Cha'alt kickstarter is live!!!


Thursday, January 3, 2019

We'll Always Be Alt-Right To Some


I was just reading this rpg.net article about 2018 and it looks like the OSR has a reputation.

We may as well face it, to both the near and far-left, everyone from the middle to the far-right is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from being a full-blown Nazi (unless they've already crossed over the line).

But they soften it a bit with their own Democrat dog-whistle.  They refer to us as Alt-Right because then we can all be lumped together... conservatives, Republicans, free-speech advocates, moderates, centrists, nationalists, anti-SJWs, and white supremacists. 

And since that last one is repugnant to about 90% of people, we can therefore all be discredited in one fell swoop.  Every one of us painted with the "racist" brush in order to de-platform us (yes, still banned on RPGnet for some reason) by crying "hate-speech" or "toxic straight white male privilege."

I don't know what's going to happen in 2019, but I hope gamers can find some middle ground, move away from politics, and focus on improving our overall gaming experience.

VS