Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Talk to me about 2300 AD

I've got a few RPG blind spots.  I'm probably not alone in that confession.  It happens.

A new acquaintance, +Erik Alfkin, mentioned an old school, hard science fiction RPG called 2300 AD.  Despite gaming heavily throughout the 80's, I knew almost nothing about the game, except for recalling a few of the covers.

That made me curious... why was that?  Why did I go out of my way to avoid it?  Must be the same reason I never wanted anything to do with Traveller.  Well, almost.

You see, I really don't like numbers.  For me, mathematics is the worst of all forms of communication.  The title of 2300 AD is, you guessed it, pretty much all numbers.  Additionally, it's easy to tell that the game is hard sci-fi.  Science-fantasy, space opera, sci-fi with humor?  Yes to all three.  Back then I just assumed serious science fiction was dry as unbuttered toast, and anything that looked like it might be boring was ignored.  But at least some of the art was good.

Traveller didn't have the numbers but where were the space ships, lasers, robots, and women in silver bikinis?  Yeah, it lost me as well.  And for similar reasons.  I don't have much experience with the Star Trek RPGs (owned the old Tom Baker boxed set Doctor Who RPG but never got beyond character creation), and a few others.  Man, if there weren't lightsabers, psychotic computers, or scantily clad ladies, it just never got on my radar.

Looking back, it's a shame.  I'm sure I would have had some great games and memories of those sessions to this day.  Just another case of bias, ignorance, and judging books by their covers.

To rectify the situation, I'm going to see about acquiring 2300 AD because the research I did earlier today makes it sound really cool.  I assume the 2nd edition is where it's at (even though I'm not a fan of the artwork), but I could be wrong.  Anyone want to talk about their own sci-fi RPG experiences in the 80's (or earlier/later)?  Want to make a recommendation?  Comment below!


Friday, July 24, 2015

Xmas in July

DriveThruRPG is having their big Xmas in July sale, my books (both PDF and softcovers) included!

Check them out here.  Or just click on the sidebar pictures.

Hope you enjoy,


p.s.  Have a question about something I've written, what it's like, if it's compatible with "x", exactly how much ass does it kick?  Ask in a comment below.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Beyond the OSR

Yesterday, Tenkar's Tavern asked what non-D&D derived OSR game were people hankering to play.

Just out of curiosity, I'm wondering what non-OSR game you'd love to one-shot if it could be anything at all.  Maybe it's something you got to play once or twice decades ago or something cool you've seen advertised online.  What would it be and why?


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Amy Schumer & Star Wars

Some people are upset about GQ's latest cover and interior pictorial spread.  Really?  Answer: yes, really.

Why would this be news?  It's Star Wars + a celebrity + sex + comedy.  More importantly, why would anyone who's not into it waste their time disapproving the whole thing?  As if disapproval and social media shame were anything but red meat thrown to the lionized masses...

In this day and age (or any, really), people don't need a reason.  Behold, the Aeon of Outrage!  Maybe it's what keeps our civilization going?

So, why am I bothering to post about it at all?  Well, let's see, it's Star Wars + a celebrity + sex + comedy.  And because the internet.  Sure, why not?

Enjoy (or don't),


Less than 24 hours to go!

The Outer Presence kickstarter campaign is about to come to a satisfying close.  As of this moment, it's about 22 hours from completion.

So, get your backing in while you can.  When this is all done and for sale on DriveThru and Amazon, it's probably going to be around $10 for the PDF and $15 for the softcover.

To the right is a rough sketch by a new artist I've been working with.  Just asked him to create some new pieces and he happily agreed.

An eldritch thank you to everyone who is helping to make this book possible!


p.s.  Help me out by sharing this post.  Thanks!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Knights of the Dinner Table

If you haven't already seen this, it's the live action Knights of the Dinner Table, episode 1.

I thought it was cool.  Been a fan of the comic book for many years.

To me, this is what a paper & pencil roleplaying game looks like from the inside, what it feels like to actually be part of a game.  I've seen videos of what it's supposed to look like from the outside and it never really measures up to playing in person.  Sometimes, artificiality can make things seem more authentic.

Great job, guys!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Old School Artwork - Renaissance Man

Up until the cover for Descent into the Candy Crypts (see sidebar and scroll down a bit), I hadn't painted anything in a year.  The combination of time, energy, and frustration at not being as good as I wanted to be... that's what kept me from my acrylic paints, brushes, and canvas.

I went to Art Fair on the Square on Sunday.  For those not familiar with south-central Wisconsin, it's a hundred or so booths of artists and their art on display all around the capitol.  One thing led to another and that night, continuing on through Monday morning, afternoon, and evening, I finished a work I'm proud to say I painted.  It felt good (my sense of artistic expression - not my back and knees!)

It's a tribute to the AD&D Player's Handbook by David A. Trampier, of course, (with tentacles) on a healthy 36" x 24" wrapped canvas.  Maybe I'll drag it out to Game Hole Con in November if anyone wants to see it in person.  I call it "Demon with Gemstone Eyes".

Thanks for looking,


Saturday, July 11, 2015

No Escape from New York playtest

It felt good to be back at the table.  Two months is a long time to be away,

I think we did Crimson Dragon Slayer day proud.  Four established gaming amigos and a new guy joined me as we played the game of games!

I opened with a bang.  Their characters entered a parallel universe New York, circa 1983 via magical portal.  A sky-drone chased them through the Ultra Zone and into a salvage yard.  A dark urban nightmare was the only escape for those four humanoids and an ice cream truck wizard.  Wait a minute, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Each player rolled randomly on the name generator table, so prepare yourself.  Here's the list of characters...

Emerald Ice, a reptilian ranger.  He was a plumber before playing the Crimson Dragon Slayer video game for the Commodore 64, put out by Infravision.

Death Ultra, another reptilian, this one a warrior.  He used to be a realtor.

Celestial Sun Nomad, dwarven warrior, formerly a banker.

Crimson Thunder, an ice cream truck wizard (I'll explain momentarily).  He used to be an ice cream truck driver.  Go figure!

Obsidian Solar Skull, human thief who was and is currently a salvage yard owner/operator.

So, the guy playing Crimson Thunder wanted to play a robot.  He also rolled randomly on the career table and got a result of "ice cream driver".  I mentioned how that profession always reminded me of Phantasm.  A brief discussion of the film ensued.  The player knows how gonzo I like things and knows that I know how gonzo he can be as well.  From there, we take an evolutionary leap where he asks if it would be too far-out for him to play an actual ice cream truck.  Yes, absolutely that would be alright by me, I said.

It took a couple minutes to work out the details.  They remained loose enough for us to change things a bit as I described the set-up: the characters running for their lives because a red electric eye was shooting disintegrating laser beams at anything that moved.  Crimson Thunder is about to be blasted into atoms when he fires off a hail-Mary polymorph spell on himself - sending his consciousness into a nearby truck used for selling all manner of frozen treats.

My only familiarity with real world New York City is driving past the exit on my way to somewhere else over a decade ago.  However, I've seen plenty of movies and TV shows.  Doesn't even matter because this isn't the real New York.  Instead, it's the New York from my dirty, grimy, slimy, sleazy, rat-infested subconscious.  A place borne of the following exploitation: Escape from New York, The Fall of New York, The Warriors, and what I remember reading about 42nd street back in the day.

With a few firm details and a list of possible encounters, I begin weaving the adventure.  At times it's on track; occasionally the paper-thin veneer is showing, reinforcing the idea that anything is possible because most of this is coming out of my ass.  I'm grabbing whatever fruit happens to be laying on the ground and making fruit salad.  And why not?  It's all for fun.  The laughter is just as much a part of the session as the objective, considering the roleplaying medium used - find the Prince of New York and find out what the fuck he wants.

There are subterranean crazies, a hot dog cart run by Snake Plissken, bat-men riding giant bat creatures (isn't that like cannibalism, someone asks), a tentacled creature guarding a magic sword in a sewer (the former plumber reptilian ranger says, a lot of times when your toilet's plugged up, it's one of these guys), and a battle royale involving several crazy costumed gangs all vying for the chance to become the next New York Prince.

But the most priceless line of the game was this, "No one runs Chuck Norris over with an ice cream truck... until now.  Let's see him round-house that!"  Hey, at least they saved Chuck Norris' ashes after being zapped by a triple-damage Purple Lightning spell.  Wear it around your neck, spray a little Sex Panther cologne, and you're good to go.

Yeah, it was a crazy game.  This rough sketch of an adventure will eventually become the next official Crimson Dragon Slayer mini-module.  Look for it in September.


p.s.  One of my secrets to playtesting is to go into that initial session under-prepared.  This forces me to come up with stuff on the fly, fill in the gaps, and allow the adventure to go where it wants organically and without my forcing it into a certain direction.

By the second session, it has more direction.  I kind of know what I want, what I'm going for, and how to reach that destination.

It's Crimson Dragon Slayer day!

Is it Crimson Dragon Slayer day today?  Hells yeah, it is!

To celebrate, I've made the gonzo, 80's, semi-intentionally humorous, science-fantasy, quasi-OSR roleplaying game half-price.  Yep, 50% off all day, suckas!  Grab it here if you don't already own it.

Helping me celebrate today are +Eric Fabiaschi with his totally awesome d30 table of random encounters.

+Jeremiah McDonnell pulled out all the stops with a pay-what-you-want Crimson Dragon Slayer adventure.

I used a suggestion by +Norbert G. Matausch to come up with a new character class based on the spherewalker idea with a touch of Chronicles of Amber.

And don't forget about last week's mini-module, Descent into the Candy Crypts.  So sweet, it'll rot your teeth!

What are you going to do for Crimson Dragon Slayer day?  Run a game?  Ask your boss GM to run a game for you?   Or maybe just watch a really bad fantasy, scifi, or post-apocalyptic movie from the 80's.  That's cool, too.  Come up with something if you feel inspired and let me know about it.

Share this meme, virus, craze, blatant promotional stunt, or whatever it is!


Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Opener

Lately, I've been listening to +Fantastic Dimensions run a few playtest sessions of The Outer Presence on youtube.  Because of the way it's currently written, the adventure just kind of starts with notification that Dr. Henry Bile is putting together another expedition to New Guinea.  Not very cinematic.

Of course, scenarios don't have to emulate the theater.  They can just sort of start at the beginning, just before things start happening.  On the other hand, I believe a strong opening is preferable - especially for a one-shot.

Watching the game being run (rather than running it myself) made me feel like I was at the movies, except the story didn't really come alive until later.  So, why not a cinematic beginning to establish the setting, characters, atmosphere, or simply to get the blood pumping?

As I revise The Outer Presence, I'd like to know if you guys ever go for a movie-like opener?  If so, how often?  Does it work well for you?  Results?  I want to know the good, bad, and ugly!


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Descent into the Candy Crypts

It's here.  Just a 14 page PDF, but I think it's rather special.

This idea came out of nowhere.  Well, that's not really true.  Evidently, I've spent too much time watching Adventure Time and playing Candy Land with my 4 year old.

Descent into the Candy Crypts is a rather small dungeon crawl with a lot of unexpected wackiness.  If you play Crimson Dragon Slayer, it's pretty much a no-brainer.  If you play D&D or one of the many OSR games out there, it might be what you're looking for.

There are two possible futures ahead of us, I predict.  The first would see this electronic module burned at the virtual stake.  The second sees this kind of thing all the time - irreverent, naughty nonsense that pokes a lot of fun... even if it's not "politically correct", which, to me, just means behavior that politicians take part in but don't want any of us knowing about.  My preference is for the latter.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I and +MonkeyBlood Design enjoyed putting this together.  +Joshua Burnett did the interior artwork and I painted the ugly-ass cover (you're welcome).


Friday, July 3, 2015

Something sweet for Crimson Dragon Slayer

Fans of Crimson Dragon Slayer are getting something sweet for CDS day (July 11th).  It's a very short module called Descent into the Candy Crypts.  Also usable with your favorite OSR system... just in case that's not Crimson Dragon Slayer.  ;)


p.s.  That's right, Monkeyblood Design and I are slipping this in before we put the finishing touches on The Outer Presence.

p.p.s.  I came out of crappy artist retirement to paint the cover for this upcoming PDF.