Sunday, July 25, 2021

Shorter, Brutal Combats


An idea formed after posting and reading comments on one of my vacation videos here.  Rob Couture had the original idea, FYI.  His YouTube comments were lost when merging his two accounts.

Basically, every round of combat increases the critical-hit range by one.  

On the first round, the vast majority of PCs and monsters will only crit on a natural 20.  On the second round, they'll crit on a 19 or 20.  On the third round, the crit range is 18-20.  Fourth, 17-20 and so on...

Critical-hits do the usual double damage, and it also means you definitely hit the target.  This is useful especially for high AC opponents when, on the fifth round, you will hit on anything that's a roll of 16+.

If you're fortunate enough to have a higher than normal crit range, then good for you.  You get to keep your +1 crit range bonus, that just makes you a more efficient killer!

Regardless of the crit range, if a natural 20 is rolled, that character may also perform some sort of stunt, special maneuver, or epic deed based on present circumstances, described by the player (if he wishes), and adjudicated by the Game Master. 

This will shorten combat and also make it more deadly.  Two things the OSR usually prefers over modern D&D.  I'm going to officially add this to Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 soon.  Until then, I'd like you guys to help me playtest it.  

I don't see a potential downside, assuming fast and brutal battles is what you want, but you never know.  Additionally, this should help balance out non-sorcerer classes, as well.  Suddenly, those wading into melee are slightly more awesome than they were before.  Take that, fireball spamming wizards who's best friends with a cleric!



p.s. We're between Cha'alt kickstarters at the moment, but if you want your luxury supreme hardcovers, Order them right now!

Monday, July 12, 2021

Sandbox D&D Campaign (part 3)


Ok, we've gone through part 1 and part 2.  Let's dive into part 3...

At this point, you've been running the game for awhile, somewhere between 7 and 10 sessions.  It's time to gear up for the climax.  Yeah, I'm assuming this campaign will last until session 20.  That's a Herculean effort, be proud of that!  

If you're a beginner DM, I wouldn't try to go over... not until you've been doing this for years.  And even then, I feel like a 20-session campaign is a good place to stop.  One day, I'm going to run a campaign that continues for years, but even I'm not ready for that - too many responsibilities!


     I. Bring Together

          A. Story Forge - As the GM, you didn't craft a story (plot) before the adventuring took place.  Now that the PCs are mid-level, the half-told story can start to be understood.

          B. Tying disparate threads together - The thing your 3rd henchman said about the azure spider might have something to do with the blue webbed caves of Aza'akeen.  Find patterns and sew seemingly random elements together.

          C. PC backstory - Up until now, I hope you've mostly ignored whatever history the player-characters have been yammering about.  But this is when it starts to matter - use something from their past to either complicate the present or make it more dramatic.

     II. Godlike Power

          A. Special Abilities - As the PCs have reached mid-level, it's time they started REALLY kicking ass!  Don't feel you need to go all-out "new school" with feats, prestige classes, and class-based talents up the wa'azoo.  Nevertheless, as the GM, you should dole out something kind of awesome to reward players and their characters for sticking it out this long.

          B. Artifacts & Relics - Somewhere in the realm, or outside of it, there's got to be an unbelievable magic item, piece of high-tech, or super-science contraption.  The PCs can quest for it before they invade the Big Bad in his lair.

          C. Evil has its own ultimate weapons - The monsters and deadly NPCs pitted against the adventurers also have godlike powers.  Unleash them upon the PCs, or at least threaten to rip into them.

     III. New Is Always Better

          A. Non-standard - If you've been relying on stuff you've read, watched, or stolen from other campaign settings, that shit ends here.  It's time to create your own content - new monsters, new traps, new magic items, new treasure, new places, new NPCs, etc.

          B. Shocking reveal - There's something that's always been nagging you from the very beginning about this campaign setting.  Remember the waterfall mist and time/space doorway from Land of the Lost?  That's what I'm talking about. Time to turn things on their head - what the PCs accepted as true suddenly proves to be an utter lie!  Revel in your revelations!!!

          C. Big Bad in his lair - The final confrontation is just around the corner.  Gearing up for that confrontation will take a couple sessions and then actually storming The Beast's black fortress (or whatever) will probably also take multiple sessions.


Hope you enjoyed all 3 parts, hoss.  Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing!  


Friday, July 9, 2021

D&D Sandbox (part 2)


Sandbox play is one of the greatest styles of D&D (or any other RPG) campaigns because it relies on self-governance, rather than the GM making all major decisions.

Create your own sandbox campaign using this outline along with my follow-up here...

     I. Traveling 

          A. Wandering monsters - create a random table for PCs traveling from place to place

          B. Hazards - come up with some sticky situations the PCs might encounter in their travels.

          C. NPCs - who will the PCs meet along the way?

     II. Noteworthy NPCs

          A. Flesh out prominent NPCs in the realm - King, Queen, other royalty and nobility.

          B. Lower-class patrons, mentors, merchants, and faction leaders who the PCs may interact with on a regular basis.

          C. Nemeses!  The PCs will have enemies pitted against them and their causes, thwarting PC goals, and possibly trying to kill them.

     III. New Details

          A. More information about places the PCs already know, like the small dungeon you told them about in the 1st session.

          B. Further reaches - what's over the mountain or beyond the barrier or below the surface?

          C. Weird shit!  Now that the PCs feel rather comfortable and "at home" with the campaign setting, it's time to throw in a few curve balls.  What gives that giant floating crystal the right to mind-control everyone who steps foot inside the obsidian labyrinth?


That's it for now.  I might come up with part 3 in a few days.  If you have a suggestion, question, or comment, please post something below.  



p.s. I made a video where I talk about this blog post.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

DIY Sandbox D&D Campaign


The following is just a quick tutorial on making your own D&D sandbox.  What's presented her should give you the bare bones to jumpstart a long-term campaign.

     I. Locations

          A. Starting location such as a city, village, settlement, etc.  Wherever the PCs come from.

          B. Handful of small locations of interest - temples, dungeons, tombs, towers, castles, swamp, forest, valley, hills, etc.

          C. The Big Bad location, this is where the PCs aspire to go... eventually.

     II. Factions

          A. Good guys vs bad guys.

          B. Shades of gray (no one is all good nor all evil).

          C. Directly relate to the PCs' background and/or goals.

     III. What's The Deal?

          A. Rumors, myths, and legends.

          B. The immediate micro-hook that initially draws the PCs outside their comfort zone.

          C. The far off, long-term goal or macro-hook that can be pursued when the PCs are ready.

Ok, that's it.  If you want to hear me talk about it, here's the link to my YouTube video.


p.s. Here's the link to part 2.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Open Letter To Gaming Conventions

I've been tasked as the spokesman for a plurality of traditional and OSR gamers to ask conventions a very important question in light of Gencon and Origins banning the new TSR over Ernie Gygax Jr.'s interview.  Maybe you aren't aware of it, but it's been all over social media lately.  

I have to ask if your convention will be accepting of non-woke, non-SJW gamers, gamers who reject that particular ideology, who are openly conservative, who are sick and tired of being harassed by the radical-left and labeled racists, bigots, nazis, whatever phobes and ists, white supremacists, etc. just because we don't subscribe to recent, reality-warping theories of gender identity, critical race theory, and anything having to do with cultural Marxism.

As an example, if you'd allow someone to wear a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, but not a MAGA hat... that's a serious problem. Similarly, if individuals such as Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson would not be allowed to attend, that speaks volumes about the egregious levels of gatekeeping in the gaming community.

If politically moderate, old-school liberal, libertarian, right-leaning gamers and just normal people who want to game without politics (including leftist politics) aren't welcome, then there's no reason for my continued presence at your gaming convention until mainstream, middle-America values are tolerated once again.

Hundreds of us (soon thousands, I hope) are sick and tired of being excluded from our beloved hobby by those championing (in name only) inclusion, diversity, and equity.  The culture of RPGs has always been welcoming, decent, and law-abiding, but our past seems to be continually altered by revisionists to make it seem like everyone in Lake Geneva, WI circa 1974 owned slaves!  

I'm sure you have been around long enough to know our hobby was pretty darn great back in the good old days, even though there have always been and will always be exceptions.  Now... well, we're not so sure.


Venger As'Nas Satanis
High Priest of Kort'thalis Publishing

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Caravan Attack [Play Report]


I like simple concepts.  You're walking down the road and something catches your eye - things are not ok.  You feel compelled to get involved, mostly because the risk of death might be right around the corner.

So it was with the Roll20 session a couple days ago.  I was playtesting a new Cha'alt adventure that'll show up in Cha'alt After Dark, once that's completed.

I shared this link with the players because it's what I listened to throughout the game (up until Mos Eisley cantina).

PCs are walking through the hot S'kbah desert on their way to who knows where.  They spy a caravan of humanoids atop riding lizards; those lizards equipped with bulging saddlebags, as well.

I let the PCs react because this is their story.  They walk closer, intent on making contact with the caravan.  Maybe they'll rob it, maybe they'll make friends?

All of a sudden, a sand-barge full of skeever desert pirates attacks the caravan with its laser cannon.  All Hell breaks loose as the PCs battle the skeevers.  

Before we get too deep, let's describe the 2nd level PCs...

  • Matt played Alahka'ar, a crystalline sorcerer.
  • Prince of Nothing played Razor Kage, Federation bounty hunter (fighter, basically) wielding an M-3 Lawgiver and plasma katana.  Check out his blog!
  • "Some Dude" played a droid thief named ST-33L.
  • Heather played Lottie, a halfling cleric.

Turns out the skeevers were after the caravan's smoky quartz crystals that were to be sold in the city of A'agrybah.

A pitched battle sent a few skeevers to their sandy graves and the sorcerer shot his web into one of the barge's anti-grav thrusters, the malfunctioning thruster making it tilt to one side.  Eventually, the skeevers had enough and ran away with their lives and not much else.

As the barge was sputtering away, Kage fired a parting shot.  It went straight through a skeever's hand.  I told the players that henceforth, that pirate would be nicknamed "glory hole" for the rest of his days.  Everyone laughed.

The caravan folk were extremely grateful, asking the PCs if they'd like to journey with them the rest of the way to A'agrybah and also offering half of their crystals to repay their courage and heroism.  The adventurers accepted gladly.

An hour or two later, the caravan and PCs encounter 4 desperados.  They watched each other intently.  If the PCs hadn't been there, the grim looking outlaws would have robbed the caravan for sure.

Razor Kage went up to the shiftiest of the desperados, demanding his clothes.  It was a scene straight out of The Terminator.  "Your clothes... give them to me."  The interaction could have gone either way, so I randomly rolled to see how he'd react.  Poorly, was the answer.  

The outlaw fired first and missed.  Razor Kage returned fire, putting a smoldering void where the desperado's chest should have been.  Adios, hoss!

The other outlaws stayed uninvolved as Kage looted his body.  One of the looted items was a matchbook from the infamous sex club Pervert's Paradise.  A half-hour to the club or a couple more hours to A'agrybah... hmm, what to do?

After a cinematic screen-wipe with artistic acid-wash dissolve, the PCs show up at Pervert's Paradise as evening drew nigh.  This is a family friendly blog, so I won't spoil what happened, except the adventurers were hired to take out a slave trader's rival, also present at the club.

A distraction was created with a suped-up cocktail.  Remember that awful blue drink from the movie Heathers?  Yeah, it was like that.  ST-33L included some of his cyber-lubricant for good measure.

It was a bigger battle than the sand-barge.  Alahka'ar almost lost his life, and would have surely died if not for the cleric's healing hands.  

Everyone contributed greatly, as is the way with a 4-PC adventuring party.  The PCs even got a little extra hazard pay since their sorcerer almost bit the big one.

It was a good time.  The session lasted almost two hours, which seemed to be the perfect length for a virtual one-shot.  And it gave me some playtest notes to improve the adventure before its released.  Win-win!


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Boycott Gencon and Origins


Yes, I think it's time to fight fire with fire.  Cancel Gen Con, Origins, and every other institution supporting cultural Marxism.  

Things have been off the rails for awhile.  A reckoning was coming... if you couldn't see it on the horizon, it's probably because you tried your darnedest to shut out all politics from your gaming spaces.  Doesn't matter, radical-leftism infiltrated gaming culture years ago!

Well, the fight has come to you.  The new TSR has been banned from the biggest gaming conventions in the world.  Pretty soon, we won't have those spaces left.  It'll just be a barren landscape of woke dominance.  Capitulating to the SJW crowd will eventually get you a dirt covered knee to go along with your severed head.

We need to fight back while we still can.  Wait too much longer, and it's game over... literally.  

For mobile phone users, the link to my latest video is right here.

Have something to say?  Say it here.  The freedom of expression still exists on this blog.  Thanks!


p.s. Only a week left for my Cha'alt After Dark kickstarter campaign.  Don't miss out on the gorgeous, signed, numbered, limited-edition hardcover books!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Cha'alt on Roll20


Do you like eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic adventures?

I'll be running 2 or 3 different Cha'alt sessions on Roll20 this week.

The first one is this afternoon, 1pm central standard time.  Join if you can.  I'll update this blog post with future dates, once those are locked in - so check back!

Here's the link!

I believe you need to message me to join and then I can invite you.  I've never been on the player-side of Roll20, so not entirely sure.  

If there's an issue, just contact me:



p.s. My xxxtra sleazy Cha'alt After Dark Kickstarter (more scenarios) is doing xxxtremely well.  See what I did there?  Only 10 days left to back.  Those gorgeous signed, numbered, limited-edition hardcovers are at a special discount... don't miss out!

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Inspirational Nostalgia [80s Movies]


By request, I'm going to try and list all of the fantasy and scifi movies from the 1980s that have inspired me.  

Since this is almost an impossible task, I'll keep updating it.  There's a certain line where scifi crosses over into post-apocalyptic exploitation / horror, so I tried to stay on this side of that line.

In no particular order, here goes...

  • Heavy Metal
  • Big Trouble In Little China
  • Escape From New York
  • Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn
  • Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone
  • Starchaser: The Legend of Orin
  • Ice Pirates
  • The Last Starfighter
  • Re-Animator
  • Bride of Re-Animator
  • From Beyond
  • Dune
  • The Fly
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • Conan the Destroyer
  • Hawk the Slayer
  • Deathstalker I and II
  • The Beastmaster
  • Forbidden World
  • Galaxy of Terror
  • Weird Science
  • Transers
  • Goonies
  • Conquest
  • Gandahar (Light Years)
  • Return of the King
  • Saturn 3
  • Battle Beyond the Stars
  • Excalibur
  • Flash Gordon
  • Krull
  • Spaceballs
  • Aliens
  • Bladerunner
  • Masters of the Universe
  • The Terminator
  • The Thing
  • Things
  • Empire Strikes Back
  • Return of the Jedi
  • Robocop I and II
  • Galaxina [but only for the hottie]
  • Space Raiders
  • Yor: Hunter from the Future
  • Highlander
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Legend
  • Willow [just barely]
  • Labyrinth
  • The Last Unicorn
  • Dragonslayer and Ladyhawke [don't remember loving these, but people will keep suggesting them, so there you go]
  • The Dark Crystal
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Neverending Story
  • The Sword and the Sorcerer
  • Flight of Dragons
  • Fire and Ice
  • Time Bandits
  • Brazil
  • The Barbarians [again, just barely]
  • Tron
  • Eliminators 
  • Megaforce
  • The Quiet Earth
  • Mad Max and Beyond Thunderdome

Feel free to suggest any I missed.  Happy viewing!


p.s. Did you know I've got a Kickstarter campaign going to fund more Cha'alt adventures?  Just as eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic... with xxxtra sleaze!