Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Seej N-gine (Advanced)

There's this terrible OSR fantasy RPG.  Ok, maybe it isn't terrible, just unremarkable.  However, there is one core aspect of this game which totally sucks.  In fact, I hate it.  Hate it!  Hate!  Hate!  Hate!

Anyways... based on the spur of the moment, off-the-cuff alternative* hastily written in my review, I've come up with a solution to that game's problem.  Behold... the Advanced Seej N-gine!

Seej N-gine (Advanced)

  • Anytime a PC, NPC, monster, mutant, robot, vehicle, windstorm, etc. wants to try and do something, they roll between one and three d6. 
  • The average character without any specific knowledge, aptitude, or proficiency rolls 1d6.
  • If a character has some of the above, then 2d6 are rolled.
  • If the character is particularly well versed, prepared for the action, an expert in the field, or has specialized skill/training relevant to the task, roll 3d6.
  • Esoteric corollary:  gods and godlike beings get 7d6.
  • Make note of the single highest number rolled from the xd6 pool; use that to determine results.
  • A 6 always means success, a 1 always means failure.  Everything in-between depends on the character, force(s) working against him, and current circumstances; adjudicated by the GM.
  • Lazy, distracted, or overburdened GMs may use the following "cheat sheet":  a 2 means "mostly failure", 3 means "slight failure" or "stalemate", 4 means "minor or partial success", 5 means "mostly success" or "success but with complications".

There.  I fixed your game's stupidest rule.  You're welcome!


*  "If it were a choice between rolling a d6 for everything, where 1 is fail, 6 is success and 2 – 5 has to be interpreted by the GM every single time my character wanted to try something, I’d take that a thousand times over."

p.s.  If there's sufficient encouragement, I'll make this an official PDF release on DriveThruRPG.  Though, feel free to copy, share, use, post, re-post, and proselytize the Advanced Seej N-gine as you wish.

p.p.s.  I've also considered using the mechanic in a bastardized Vengerized rip-off... er, I mean homage, of Encounter Critical.  Want to collaborate?  Email me!

p.p.p.s.  Artwork used with permission by Dust 989.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Lovecraftian elements and a taste for gore..."

This is the latest Liberation of the Demon Slayer review.  It's a comprehensive analysis, in my opinion.

Much appreciated, Jonathan!


p.s.  If you want to learn a bit more about Kalthalax the legendary Demon slaying sword, then look no further...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Three Swordsmen

It's come a little early, but my old school fighter classes PDF is available on DriveThruRPG here.  It's free, so please check it out.  I hope it adds something awesome to your games.

Let me know what you think by posting comment here, writing a short review over there, or both!


p.s.  Also wanted to give a big THANKS to the artists who contributed their work:  Tom Isaksen, Zarano, Dario, Boniburini, and SOLIDToM.  Much appreciated, guys!

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Cover Purple

There's not much to say, except here's the new cover of The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence.  Faustie did a great job, as usual.  He might do a few more little tweaks between now and then, but basically this is it.  Notice the subtle homage to Taarna from Heavy Metal.


p.s.  I'm still excepting pre-orders!  Send me an email.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Demon Slayer

"There are many stories about that blade, my son.  Almost none of them are true.  That's probably a good thing; the world is a better place for not knowing the origins of Kalthalax.  Yes, our ignorance is a blessing... the birth-flames of that sword must have been emerald green with wickedness."

Kalthalax... slayer of Demons, Devils, any and all of infernal heritage*.  However, the origins of this blade were not slaying Demons but transferring their infernal essence to a new host... a chosen one.  Kalthalax is the sword's human moniker, named after the crusader from another world who drove his men into Hell's circles, savagely routing the soldiers of darkness in their very home.  But Kalthalax has another name, a secret name given to it by Sydaac the Elf who forged it from an ultra-telluric metal that none had ever seen before or since.  It had strange properties; chiefly, the power to house a Demon's soul.

Forged into a formidable rune-blade, the unholy vessel was able to draw and keep the infernal essence or tenebrae until needed.  The Elven swordmaker and worshiper of Voorthal'nyggura named it after the first Demon to break through their fiery prison; his name Kort'thalis!  Kort'thalis and his brothers conquered a third of Razira before Yogsoggoth and Tsathag'kha dreamed themselves back into reality.

Kort'thalis abides, its black aura a tell-tale sign of the thousands stored within.  Voorthal'nyggura's servants prepared a patchwork golem of flesh to house the collected essence.  A thousand years ago, this stitched, grafted, and misshapen giant was to be the god's champion.  Soon after it was fashioned, the creators changed their minds.  The blade's custodians began to serve the sword more than their own god, each hoping to evolve into the prophesied chosen one.  They decided to keep Kort'thalis for themselves, knowing its power over Demonkind.    Might making right, they settled age-old vendettas and used the rune-blade to reign in Hell... for a time.  

The sword was lost towards the end of their Demon wars, after a string of long and bloody battles.  An Elf, descended from Sydaac, claimed it.  This Elf recognized the ancient glyphs upon its lethal visage.  He carried it back to the mortal world, bequeathing it to a youthful, dark eyed stranger, so humanity would have a chance for survival.  

Kort'thalis Arcana

Once the wielder is aware of the sword's true name, he may claim its hidden powers.  

*  Upon rolling a natural 20, the sword decapitates its infernal target, stealing that Demon's soul in the process.

*  Those Demons struck down by Kort'thalis are absorbed by it.  All their tenebrae is swallowed, except for a fraction of it; the smallest part flows through the swordsman as he delivers the killing blow.  When Kort'thalis destroys (or converts) an infernal being, add up their Hit Dice.  For every 23 Hit Dice collected, the swordmaster receives an additional point towards one of his ability scores.  Example:  Veen the fighter has slain 21 HD worth of Devils and Demons since attaining Kort'thalis.  The fighter destroys yet another Demon, this one 6 HD.  Veen only needed 2 more points before reaching 23.  He chooses to raise his strength from 16 to 17 and starts the tally over again at 4 HD, because of the remainder.  

*  Upon rolling a natural 1, the Demon slayer expels a portion of its built-up essence.  Kort'thalis surges with a lurid, violet-red glow as reality becomes overshadowed by darkness.  Everything within a 30' radius is corrupted by evil, especially the wielder.  Lawful (or good) individuals take 6d6 damage.

But there's another downside - tenebrae is radioactive and, given enough exposure, even cancerous.  When a wielder has struck down 100 HD worth of Demonkind, he becomes Chaotic (if he hasn't yet traveled down that road voluntarily) and transforms into a hideous mutant from beyond this universe.  See the following table for specific (and more accessible) results...

1.  Flesh as black as moonless midnight; completely hairless; winged.

2.  Aqua skin tone, worm shaped, with white hair and eyes... no mouth.

3.  Some cross between a fly, wasp/hornet, and spider.

4.  A semi-corporeal violet gas.

5.  A Demon with crimson scales, horns, hooves, barbed tail, forked tongue, and wild yellow eyes.

6.  Ivory skin and hair with tentacles sprouting in odd places, blood red eyes, and extremely long fingers.

Original sword artwork by Timothy Shodukari with digital enhancement by Dave Bergamoth.

*  This blog post is bonus content for my old school dungeon crawl Liberation of the Demon Slayer.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

And so it goes...

Thought about calling this post "The Writing Continues" or "Quiet before the Storm".  So, what have I been up to lately?

  • Culling the remaining sacrifices for Dread K'tulu as part of our mutually binding kickstarter agreement.
  • Finished the old school fighter character class variations: templar knight, slayer, and reaver.  Now, it's Ed's turn to work his layout magic.  Three Swordsmen should be out in early February for FREE!
  • One of the less than totally satisfying (for me) elements of LotDS was the demon slaying sword Kalthalax.  Sure, its cool, but more could have been done.  Well, my next blog post (Monday?) will be a fresh treatment of the titular blade, including some history, hidden powers, etc.  I'm just waiting on the artwork.
  • Working with artists for the new cover and interior illustrations to get things as awesome as possible.
  • My time is limited with all the stuff I'm doing, work, wife, kids, etc.  It can take hours of that precious commodity to learn a new rules-set, and then a session or two of growing pains to get things just right.  I've been using the Swords & Wizardry complete RPG as my system du jour.  Ran a one-shot Purple playtest over the weekend.  One of my players decided upon the monk.  Long story short, I didn't agree with some of the monk's S&W aspects.  Now, I don't know if the next old school class PDF should be monk variations or the ice and fire mages I've been pondering...
  • Speaking of Purple playtests, that was the 3rd session of The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence I've run with lots more ahead.  I think everyone would agree that trying stuff out is a crucial part of the RPG design process, even if you're only designing an adventure.  Anyways, it was a good time.  Things are taking shape.  However, I can only playtest so much, plus I'm incredibly biased!  Which brings me to...

Purple Playtest Packets!!!

That's right, Next, two can play at that game!  Starting February 15th, I'll be offering small sections of Purple material for backers/pre-orders to playtest.  That means you can try out a particular bit of setting, rules, monsters, etc. before its release... and hopefully provide me with some constructive feedback.  

Those interested (same goes for pre-ordering the book) should contact me:  Venger.Satanis via yahoo.  Please put either "PPP" or "pre-order" in your email's subject line.



p.s.  "Purpled" artwork by Michael Raston.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Interval of Desperation

Well, it's about that time, friends.  3 days left...

I've just entered the desperation interval.  We all have one.  It's that wondrous moment before the climax where everything hangs in the balance.  Ok, not everything, just The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence.

Here's my last kickstarter update.  Hopefully, it's enough.

Thanks, everyone!


P.S.  It funded!!!  Thank you!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Venger's Adventure Writing Tips

Johnn Four of roleplaying tips fame asked me to do a guest post for him a couple weeks ago on the topic of writing adventures.  It's repeated here for those who aren't part of his mailing list.

1.  Write in stages!  If you have the time, a relaxed deadline, etc. leave blocks of time between creative spurts.  Those non-writing periods allow the subconscious mind to influence the creation in unexpected ways.  I call this period shadow creation because it happens in a sneaky, crafty way under cover of darkness.  Using shadow creation, things are being put together and designed without our direct awareness.  One just needs to space out those active periods of writing in order to activate the subconscious.  The bigger the project, the more frequent and longer the blocks of time should be.

2.  Start each session with the three sentences of power!  Most players don't actually want to hear a GM read a couple pages of flavor text or "interesting" historical facts... they want to get straight to the action.  All that writing is unnecessary for the GM and just bogs down the game at the most crucial point - the beginning.

Ok, so what are the three sentences of power?  Your elevator pitch, that's what!  Think of it as a fast-paced movie trailer.  Sentence one:  "In a world..."  This describes the overall place or setting.  Sentence two: "During the time of..."  This describes the when, giving a general idea of what's going on.  Sentence three:  "One rag-tag group stands in the way..."  This is the basis of your adventure.  It makes things personal.

Alright, let's put it all together.  "On the desert planet Xixt, surrounded by three black suns, everyone is a slave to the necromancer king.  An uprising has just been squashed, millions dead... hope being the last casualty.  Lord Nocren has decreed that every male child is to be killed and every female child brought to him when the largest of the black suns rises above the others - in seven days time."

Now, you have an adventure.  It gives just enough detail, the right kind of detail, to get players interested and eager to involve themselves.  Move outward from the three sentences of power.

3.  Borrow from the best!  Take an idea or concept from your favorite movie, tv show, or novel and adapt it to suit your needs.  Several months ago, I planned on running The Lost City D&D module.  Just for fun, I wanted to add something new.  I borrowed the test of manhood scene from 80's movie Flash Gordon.  Instead of a mound of dirt or whatever it was, this was a metallic column or pillar with holes.  Certain holes would chop the hand off a character instead of yielding a poisonous bite like in the film.  Unfortunately for the PC, he happened to put his hand in a chopping hole.  For the rest of the adventure, that player's wife teased him by calling him "lefty".  Incidentally, she also spotted the borrowing.  "That reminds me of Flash Gordon."  She said.  "Yep, that's where I got the idea from."  Came my reply. 

It's important to note that having our influences or borrowed elements recognized doesn't detract from the encounter.  In fact, the passing familiarity can be an advantage!  Feel free to borrow, just remember to at least make one small change so it's not a total rip-off of the source material.

4.  Come up with at least one really cool and unexpected feature in your adventure!  Unexpected is the operative word as this adventure aspect must be as creative as it is unfamiliar - the stranger the better.  We've all fought orcs and kobolds.  We've all found a sword +1.  We've all experienced the flaming end of a fireball spell.  Predictable.  If the whole adventure is filled with that kind of stuff, then it goes one step past predictable - boring.  Ouch!  No one wants to play a boring adventure, right?  Who wants to be known as "the boring GM"?

Before running the session, create at least one monster, magic item, spell, NPC, or location that will blow the socks off your players.  Just one should be enough.  Sure, it might take an extra 20 minutes of brainstorming to come up with a worthy piece of singular strangeness, but the work will be worth the effort.

5.  Put a little of yourself into each adventure!  What are some of your problems?  Strengths and weaknesses, favorite things?  What are you afraid of?  What are your aspirations?  Favorite character traits, hobbies?  What comic book were you reading last week?

While this tip isn't as crucial as the others, I still think it's kind of a good idea.  Why not include a wizard and a cleric playing chess if that's something you're into?  Put your arachnophobia to good use by including half elf / half giant spider hybrids!  Did you ever write a short story about a citadel made out of ice when you were in junior high?  Now's your chance to re-use it.  Deposit a little of your own subjective taste or experiences into every session.  It'll be just that tiny bit more personal and satisfying.


p.s.  Why, yes, The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence kickstarter is still going on.  About 5 days left to help make this weird, sci-fantasy module a reality!  ;)