Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Credit For Your THOTs


This is the final installment of the THOT trilogy.  You can get the PDF here.

It's got all the usual awesomeness.  If you love sleazy scifi, random tables, and modular systems that are fun and easy to use, then grab yourself a squirming fistful of xenophilia!

Have a question, just ask...

VS

p.s. Cha'alt is about 2 or 3 weeks from completion.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Sect of the Gleaming Polyhedrons


I'm thinking about starting a new religion, one based around roleplaying games.

Why a religion?  Because gaming to me is more than just a pastime, hobby, or side-hustle.  It gives me purpose.  It defines me.  And it's a whole lot bigger than I am, greater than I am.  Outside of family, RPGs are what's most important to me.

Why not crystallize that into a spiritual movement, an organization that'll take it as seriously as it deserves... without taking ourselves too seriously. 

This is the first and only commandment...

1. Enjoy roleplaying games as much as possible... at least once a week, preferably.  

Anyone interested in joining?

More details when I get back from vacation.  Have a good one, y'all.

VS


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

3 Types of Game Masters


As I mentioned towards the end of last week's Inappropriate Characters episode, I've broken GM differences into 3 basic types...

The first I'll describe is the Dungeon Master from beloved Saturday morning cartoon Dungeons & Dragons.

The Dungeon Master presents the facts, sets things in motion, and then pretty much disappears into the background until his presence is required down the road.  The RPG Pundit mentioned the "clock-maker God" as an example of this sort of GM.  Once he creates a world, his hands are off the wheel and things take their own course, according to the rules or the scenario or the GM's notes.

He's impartial, objective, and about as neutral as a GM can get.  Total free market... no matter what the outcome.  Is it discipline or ambivalence that keeps the Dungeon Master type GM from subtly nudging reality here or there?

The second GM type is Zeus from the 1981 sword & sandals film Clash of the Titans.

Zeus is more subjective, the campaign world filters through him, his perspective.  His hands aren't always on, but also never far from the wheel.  Yet, he still believes in letting go, allowing fate or free will decide which path is taken.  Zeus doesn't have a specific outcome in mind, but tries to maintain a fairness or equality of opportunity, according to his personal standards of ethics, morality, and aesthetics.

If you remember, Zeus has a few tricks up his sleeve.  While balancing the campaign world and all the characters in it, he feels justified tweaking the chances of a result or two in the name of either fair play or compelling story.  Occasionally fudging a die roll for the greater good.

However, Zeus is not a story-gamer.  He doesn't know how things will end up.  He hopes things will turn out well for those proving themselves worthy, occasionally exerting a bit of influence behind the scenes, but stopping short of pre-determining adventure's conclusion.

The third and last type of GM is the Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz is a showman and a conman.  He uses slight of hand, misdirection and railroading in order to get the end result he's looking for.  His GMing creates the illusion of free will and randomness, when in reality, he pulls all the strings.

The Wizard of Oz is the most likely to be a story-gamer, since that style of GMing is directly opposed to the traditional, old school approach (though many GMs in the 70's and 80's aspired to that standard).

Another aspect of this 3rd type is bluster, pomp, and pageantry.  Anything to build himself up, to make the all-powerful GM appear greater, wiser, and stronger than he really is.  His will is mighty and players should not test it, or else face his wrath.  Also, be prepared to confront several self-important NPCs (stand-ins for the GM himself) who shall not be fucked with.  You'd have better luck wrassling an ancient black dragon.

Please feel free to comment with your experiences, your opinion of the 3 types, etc.  Where do you fit in all this?

VS

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tentacled Dice Tower


Yeah, I know... it's not really a tower at all.  More like a tunnel or slide.
And not every die makes its way to the other side.  I feel like that's some kind of "tentacle initiation."  Such unfortunate rolls are simply sucked up into the void.

Hope you enjoy the video and like my clay sculptures.  I'll do more in the future.

Currently, I'm finishing up Cha'alt.  It's quite a beast and is taking up the majority of my free time.  Just about every room within The Black Pyramid has been written up (all 111 of them).  Now, I just have to make them even more awesome during the revision process!


Thanks,

VS

p.s. The Roll20 playtests have gone really well.  I appreciate everyone who comes back for more!

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Horror In Clay


For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to fashion my own Cthulhu idol out of clay...

Well, last week I did just that.  And also made a kind of dice tower, which is actually more of a dice tunnel/slide.  But that I'll show off in a video and blog post this weekend.

Clay is difficult for a noob like me to work with, but I hope to improve on my next attempt.  The painting comes easier to me because I've been doing that all my adult life.

So, there you go... ia ia Cthulhu fh'tagn!

Enjoy,

VS


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Crimson Dragon Slayer D20


As I've said before, D&D means a thousand things to a thousand people. 

It's impossible to define with just the acronym alone.  Even citing a particular version, preference, or play-style of D&D is fraught with peril.

Getting on the same page with a virtual table full of players is of paramount importance.  Without a place to start, you have nothing but floundering.  You need some kind of foundation in order to begin playing.

Here is bedrock!  All new and over-the-top "bloodstained parchment" look provided by layout guru David Guyll.  Did I mention it was absolutely FREE?!?

There are a few iterations of Crimson Dragon Slayer out there, but this isn't a new edition.  Rather, it's my quick and dirty checklist / cheat-sheet for running OSR type 5e games online.  It started here and evolved organically thanks to the feedback I received.

For me, virtual gaming requires the most rules-light approach.  Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 is my solution to all the problems I've encountered running D&D on Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, and elsewhere. 

Hope you find it as invaluable as I have,

VS

p.s.  If you appreciate all the freebies that come out of Kort'thalis Publishing, try our nearly 50 PDFs!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Equality of Opportunity, Not Outcome


For some, it's a difficult concept to grasp.  How can things be essentially equal if one person has advantages that another does not?

Well, it's kind of like rolling 3d6 in order, six times.  Everyone has the opportunity to be a titan of strength, intelligence, etc. but we all know that it's random.  You get what you get.  Sometimes the Gods favor you, other times they kick you in the balls.  That's life.

Now, if you were to make everyone's stats pretty good but not great, regardless of what was rolled, that would be equality of outcome.  This is attractive to some because they don't want the risk.  They want an easy "B."

But then, of course, everyone in the party pretty much has the same stats.  You lose individuality.  You also lose any sense of scale.  If everyone has the same thing, then that "B" might as well be a "C" or even a "D."  Without the highs and lows, those stats are relatively meaningless.

That which is attained without struggle has less value.

Especially when you consider the GM's plight... or obligation.  One of his many jobs is to challenge the PCs.  If everyone has good stats, then some villains will have to have even better stats to compensate.

Anyways, what we're after in life and in gaming is a fair shot, a decent chance.  Don't hand your players good ability scores just because you don't want anyone to feel bad.  Make them work harder to compensate for their PC's shortcomings.

What about the super-rich kids that inherent all their parents' wealth?  They didn't have to roll the dice in life.  True, but someone always gets really lucky.  Anyway, overconfidence and a sense of entitlement are their own weaknesses.

Actually, that reminds me of legacy PCs in the Knights of the Dinner Table comicbook.  Ensuring that newly generated PCs get certain advantages from the very beginning... and that shall be the topic for my next blog post!

VS

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Apologies to Trump


All of us.  Ok, many of us (myself included) owe President Donald Trump an apology for jumping to conclusions and believing the FAKE NEWS that went out of its way to spread falsehoods about Russian collusion on a daily basis.

I was taken in for a long while.  In fact, it wasn't until a few months ago that I realized we have one Hell of a President and things could be worse... a lot worse. 

Now that he's been vindicated, let's get back to ensuring the United States of America remains the greatest country in the world!

President Trump talks a lot of trash, can be a bastard, and gets things wrong just like everyone does, but now I see that he has America's best interests at heart.  He isn't the most terrible awful bad news individual portrayed by the media.  That's just Trump derangement syndrome.

Sorry for doubting you, hoss.  Carry on, Mr. President!

VS


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Gamma Incel Cantina


Here's a Cha'alt playtest packet that veers on the border of Alpha Blue.

It's called Gamma Incel Cantina, inspired by a comment Prince of Nothing made on his blog.

What is it?  A sci-fi tavern not too far away from The Black Pyramid, filled with 69 NPCs.  Each NPC has between 3 - 7 descriptors to help the beleaguered GM roleplay interactions with PCs.

Phenomenal map provided by Glynn Seal of MonkeyBlood Design, based on my amateurish drawing (pictured).

I'm looking for feedback, but also extra funds to pay for additional Cha'alt artwork.  While adequate, the Kickstarter wasn't the smashing success many of us had hoped for. 

Oh yeah, there's also a d100 random table that will give you all 6 of the standard D&D ability scores in one roll.  3d6 in order... hours of rolling and recording results from myself and various family member.

It debuted at GaryCon and nearly made grown men cry at the table.  Yay!  ;)

Enjoy,

VS