Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Now even Crimsoner!

There were a few typos, some errata, a couple missing map icons, a poorly worded magic item, an amusing thing that came out of my last CDS game, and a sentence that just stopped in the middle for no apparent reason.  But most of all, the rulebook needed a character sheet!  So, it was time for a little renovation.

Everything has been fixed.  If you already got it from DTRPG and they haven't emailed you the newly uploaded Crimson Dragon Slayer PDF (or it doesn't show up in your account/library), please let me know.

There's going to be a slight interruption getting the book back into print-on-demand circulation, but that, too, is at hand.  By the time I get back from vacation the second week of September, we should be back in business.  But until then, enjoy the new PDF!

Thanks to Glynn of +MonkeyBlood Design for doing such a bang up job in so short a time.  Nice!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Happy Birthday H.P. Lovecraft

Sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and all-around weird tale author, H.P. Lovecraft was born on August 20th, 1890.

He has been an inspiration to many of us in the gaming field.  So, to honor his memory, I'm celebrating with a one-day 33% off sale on my latest Lovecraftian publishing effort, The Outer Presence PDF.

Additionally, the softcover is already available on my CreateSpace eStore here.  If you buy it and show me proof (forward a confirmation email to me or something), I'll send you the PDF for free.

Thanks and Happy Birthday, H.P. Lovecraft!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

First Anniversary of new D&D

A year ago today the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition Player's Handbook was released.  It isn't a lot of time, but still rather significant.

One year later, what are your thoughts on the new Dungeons & Dragons?  What's changed?  Do you currently consider it OSR?  If you were for it, are you still for it?  Against?  Are you loving it as much as you did last year?  More?  Less?  Have you still not tried playing it?  What about DMing?  Favorite adventure or supplement (does not have to be published by WotC - don't be afraid to mention one or more of my books!) to make your 5e campaign even better?  Has any fantasy RPG dethroned D&D in the last 12 months or giving it a run for its money?  What D&D thing are you looking forward to most in the year to come?  Got an entertaining, poignant, or interesting anecdote?

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts...



p.s.  Artwork by Joey Labartunek.  I actually couldn't find any fan-made art of the new Player's Handbook on the internet.  That seems strange, but nothing googled out for me.  Wonder if that means anything...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Outer Presence PDF is live

Yep, it's up on DTRPG,  The print version should be available there and on Amazon by September 1st.

The system is as minimalist as I could get it, while giving players and GM options.  Personally, I feel it's old school designed from a 2015 mindset.

The actual "investigative horror" scenario has a whole bunch of things going on and should appeal to a variety of tastes - without being watered down into mediocrity.

I'd like to thank the Kickstarter backers (especially Greg Beck, Anthony DiNovo, and Chris Ayotte), contributing artists, +MonkeyBlood Design, playtesters, and everyone else who believed in this project and enthusiastically encouraged me to create The Outer Presence.

Hopefully, it's as enjoyable to read and play as it was for me to write.  I'd love to hear your feedback, so let me know how you feel.


p.s.  An extremely favorable review over here.

Friday, August 14, 2015

99 Crimson Balloons

I was in an Italian deli / sub shop today, grabbing lunch for myself and a crew of people.  So, I was standing there waiting for sandwiches to be made for about 15 or 20 minutes.

That 80's classic "99 Luftballons" song by Nena came on the radio.  Obviously, I know the English version, too - "99 Red Balloons".  Undistracted, I really listened to the song - even though I couldn't understand anything other than "luftballons", which means air-balloons, basically.  You gotta get those syllables where you can.

Anyways, I decided to actually read the lyrics online just a few minutes ago.  I was shocked to find a deeper message than just watching a bunch of balloons (probably red) floating up in the sky.

Apparently, the idea for the song came from the guitarist who noticed balloons being released into the air.  As he watched them move toward the horizon, shifting and changing shapes like an alien spacecraft, he wondered what might happen if they floated over the Berlin Wall to the Soviet sector.

                                        "99 Red Balloons"                              

You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got
Set them free at the break of dawn
'til one by one they were gone
Back at base bugs in the software
Flash the message: "something's out there!"
Floating in the summer sky
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it's red alert
There's something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
Where ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine decision street
Ninety-nine ministers meet
To worry, worry, super scurry
Call the troops out in a hurry
This is what we've waited for
This is it, boys, this is war
The president is on the line
As ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine knights of the air
Ride super high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a super hero
Everyone's a captain Kirk
With orders to identify
To clarify and classify
Scramble in the summer sky
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

As ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine dreams I have had
In every one a red balloon
It's all over and I'm standing pretty
In this dust that was a city
If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you, and let it go

So, I decided to come up with a spell tribute.  Even though I earmarked this for Crimson Dragon Slayer (even the album came out in 1983!), I believe any OSR game worth its salt could find this usable.

99 Crimson Balloons

Also known as 99 blood balloons or spheres of blood, this spell of the fourth level was crafted by the bloodlust sorcerer Chang Xikurr during his time imprisoned in the ultra-zone.

Upon casting this spell, the wizard summons exactly 99 spheres filled with a dark red substance - they are actually filled with blood... demon blood!  The spheres rise into the air quickly and burst soon after (the very next round).

When they reach a certain height, the spheres explode, dousing everyone within a 30' radius of the caster in the blood of demons - which makes them fight and kill and war as if Hell itself were goading them on.  Not only do they act like demons, but they begin to resemble them also... horns, crimson flesh, cat eyes, hooves, claws, forked tongue, sulfuric stench, tons of back hair, the whole nine (or ninety-nine) yards.

The blood's effect lasts 3d6 rounds.  Mechanically speaking, those sloshed with infernal gore receive an extra attack each round - but only if the player describes his character's violent escapades graphically.

After the bloodlust has subsided, there's a period (2d4 rounds) of wistful reflection where nothing but moping around and gentle weeping can be accomplished.

If you like this, use it and tell us what happened!


Thursday, August 13, 2015

RPG bucket list

Hopefully, it's a long time off before we croak like a toad-man worshiping Tsathag'kha, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be in a hurry to experience some of the things we've always longed for... or the things we'd regret never having experienced.

So, with that in mind, I want you to tell me about some bit of gaming you'd love to do before the end.  Maybe it's a mashup of two or more unlikely RPG bedfellows, stomping around a particular setting, playing an uncharacteristic character, completing a mission, facing a monster, casting a spell, wielding a weapon, home-brewing a completely unnecessary but still totally awesome d30 table (and actually using it in a game!), designing an adventure revolving around the home for retired bears, or parachuting into a volcano.

Assuming I get a slew of responses, I'm going to update this post eventually with a link.  That link will take readers to a table for randomly rolling Things To Game Before We Die!

I'd like to thank +Johnn Four and +Duck Dynasty on A&E for the idea!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

WTF Kickstarter: Cthulhu Dice Tower by Fred Fields

So, just uploaded my video (above) describing the box I received from Fred Fields' Cthulhu Dice Tower Kickstarter.  In the interest of transparency, I'm copy/pasting my email to Mr. Fields below.  It's been over 48 hours since it was sent.

Attention Mr. Fred Fields,

I just received the box of sculpted Cthulhu parts.  I knew it would be unpainted and unassembled, and even assumed there might be a little flashing here and there to flake off with nothing more than my hand, but was wholly unprepared for the massive undertaking that's required to assemble the Cthulhu dice tower in its present state.  

The mold hasn't been cleaned at all!   Particularly the crown piece that goes at the very top.  It looks like a miniature frying pan - what am I supposed to do with that massive chunk of a handle at the back?  It's impossible for me to snap it off... even wearing gloves.  And I see some clay that's meant to fix missing pieces from the tentacles.  That's fine in theory, but the clay isn't well-sculpted - it's just crudely patching the holes.

There are large chunks at the ends of almost every piece... sharp, jagged, massive chunks that I'm going to need special tools in order to make everything fit together - assuming I don't accidentally snap an important piece off in the process.  

Plus, there are no pictures.  The upcoming video will probably show us what goes where and how, but at the moment, I have nothing except the KS picture to go by.  That's not too bad, trial and error will eventually get it where it needs to be, but the pieces are in such an unrefined state that I can't help but feel displeasure at having opened and investigated the  box's contents.

At this time, I'm requesting either a replacement box with the pieces taken care of, so all I need to do is get some glue and put it together before painting or a refund of my $99 (if you send me a postage-paid return address label, I'll happily mail you back the box with all the raw pieces).

Thanks for your time,

Venger Satanis 


UPDATE:  Fred Fields agreed to refund my $99 after I mailed the box back to him.  He got his box back, I got my money back.  Hopefully, we're both a bit wiser.

Jonny Quest

The last few years have been about moving forward - new projects, new games, new players... and looking back - Star Trek, Thundarr the Barbarian, Dungeons & Dragons, old 80's favorites like Big Trouble in Little China and Flash Gordon, The Twilight Zone, The Smurfs, Scooby Doo, Land of the Lost, and now Jonny Quest.

I just finished the original series (only one season long) this morning.  Sure, the nostalgia made it that much better, but even if I'd never watched it as a kid - Jonny Quest is a great cartoon - especially for gamers.  I can see it fueling any kind of action, adventure, pulp, espionage, spy, secret agent, lost world, or investigative RPG (even horror!).  Every episode has something to recommend it.

Before I get to my bullet points of favorite stuff, I would be remiss for not mentioning the show's sub-textural xenophobia.  One might go as far to call it "racist", except there are instances of Caucasian evil-doers as well (though they are decidedly in the minority).  At least one line was removed from an episode for going too far.

A few of my favorite things about Jonny Quest

  • Cool gadgets.  The series has a pseudo-sci-fi thing going on with weaponry and technological advancements in communication, transport, chemistry, and more.
  • They make a great team, like a party of professional adventurers.
  • Race Bannon is a certified badass - he even has a mercenary, femme fatal hook-up out there in the world, occasionally looking out for him.  Her name is Jade.
  • The bad guys are generally sinister, warped, and insane.
  • There's a James Bond and Sherlock Holmes type of super-villain who's behind several of the schemes... Doctor Zin.
  • The visual aesthetics of the show are dark, shadowy, and more realistic than later Hanna-Barbera shows like Scooby Doo.
  • NPCs die.  If there's a prolonged shoot-out, someone's going to get killed eventually. 
  • Lots of creatures - sometimes we get poisonous snakes, but other times we're treated to a giant spider, Yeti, and pterodactyl!
  • There are lighthearted, fun moments (usually with their dog, Bandit), but the show never devolves into slapstick.  The writers take the serious parts of the show seriously.
  • Exotic locations - jungles, deserts, mountains, the ocean, ice and snow, etc.  

Well, I could go on and on and on, so I'll just stop there.  If you're running a Hollow Earth Expedition, Call of Cthulhu, or Savage Worlds game, Jonny Quest could be your inspiration!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Cavern of Carnage & CDS errata

I got a chance to run Crimson Dragon Slayer again last Saturday afternoon.  It's only the fourth time I've tried it out (second if you count having the completed rulebook in hand).  Luckily, we all had a great time and it was a lot of fun.

Here's the cast of characters...

Ronnie Von Blitzkrieg was a heavy metal (hair metal, actually) bard.  Yeah, Crimson Dragon Slayer doesn't actually have a bard class.  So he was basically a warrior who used his axe like a guitar.  For rolling 3d6 in order, he knocked it out of the fucking park.  Besides an 11, his lowest score was a 13.  He wanted to play a pixie fairy princess - with a beard.  So, a bearded lady or drag queen sort of deal.  Our input led to Ronnie's beard being longer than he was, as pixie fairies are only 2' tall.  Basically, the player wanted to live his dream of being in the video game Brutal Legend.  I'd never heard of it, but the concept sounded cool.

Emerald Ice rolled again on the name table to arrive at Emerald Ice Panther.  I had forgotten about his incredibly powerful magic trident that his character found at the end of last game.  We had some fun thinking about this reptilian warrior wearing the skin of his enemies (or anyone with nice looking skin, really).

Death Ultra was another recurring character.

Lastly, we had Panther Asphalt, an infernal elf wizard.  Here's the last session for those who want to get caught up.

Because I've been so busy with my paternal leave from work (that's where I get a lot of my free time at the computer) and whipping The Outer Presence into shape, I let the No Escape from New York writing fall by the wayside.  Though I still held out hope that several amazing ideas would fall out of my brain - until the morning of game day when I realized it was not going to happen (not satisfactorily, at least).  Luckily, I remembered that Crimson Dragon Slayer comes with an introductory adventure at the back of the book!  And it should be vaguely familiar since I wrote it.  Bonus!

We got through almost the whole thing in 4 hours (that included creating 2 characters).  Recounting the entire session would be exhausting for writer and reader, so I'll just post the highlights...

  • Ronnie has costume changes in-between sets.
  • Exploding damage = actual explosions!
  • Ronnie acquires a magic sword then adds that to his axe-guitar to create a two-handed, double-necked guitar (axe and sword) with codpiece attachment and cup holder.
  • A Rubix Cube with seven colors should probably have seven sides.  Oops.  Guess that means it's a 7-sided cube with extra-dimensional properties.  yeah, that's the ticket!
  • Panther Asphalt pushes over the Tardis to find a leather glove with the fingers cut off (fingerless glove) called Glove of the Five-Finger Death Punch.  It does 5d6 damage!
  • The tangerine dream explodes thanks to Panther Asphalt's purple lighting spell.  Then it explodes again and something else randomly explodes behind it... because explosions are awesome, as well as, METAL!!!
  • A wizard's bones were desecrated, a dove decapitated and blood drunk from its neck (I have absolutely no idea why, but I wrote it down in my notes... so, yeah).
  • Everyone was hell-bent on saving the hottie about to be sacrificed by demons - except for the infernal elf.  Inter-party battle!  Yay, my game mechanic for recovering bonus dice works!!!
  • Ronnie whips the dirty, stinking primitives into a mosh pit with his monstrous riffs.  Not hard as they had already been injected with Satanic LSD.
  • Skeletal mermaids!  Did they have seashell bras?  If not, could one see the skeletal remains of their mermaid boobies?  That's for the Dragon Master to decide.
  • Everyone rolled surprisingly well on their death saving throw, so even though the party was annihilated by explosions and horrendous damage, no one died.  ;)
  • The demonic frost titans were awakened by Ronnie and his orders were these: Go forth and spread the word of metal to all the lands.  Thus the holy word of metal perforated the consciousness (and eardrums) of Thule.

Yeah, it was a wild time.  It helped to have great players who were game for super-gonzo shenanigans.

Also, there's the small matter of errata...

Crystallines get racial Hit Points of 1d12.

If you score a critical hit, instead of increasing your next attack by 1d6, you can increase it by 2d6.  One in the hand is about the same as two in the bush.

If a spell needs a willpower saving throw to resist the effect, how is it done?  

First, determine how many d6s should be rolled by looking at the target's willpower.  Let's say the target's willpower ability score is average (assume it's average unless you know otherwise), that's 2d6 (if the target had an above average willpower, they'd roll 3d6.  If it's below average, then 1d6, etc.).  They roll their dice pool of 2d6 and the Dragon Master will interpret the results as they will.  For instance, a "1" saving throw result might mean the target takes double damage.  With a "2" or "3", it's just a regular failure.  "4" could be half damage.  "5" is a successful saving throw - no damage.  Perhaps a "6" leads to being immune to that spell cast by that wizard.  Multiple "6's" could be the spell bounces back on the wizard who cast it.

I'll keep adding to the list if people have questions, clarifications, or errors they want a ruling on.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, August 3, 2015

How was your Gen Con?

Yep, that's what this blog post is about.  Tell me about your experiences.  At the end, I'll probably make some sweeping generalization and theorize about why it is the way it is.  But for now, I just want to read about what you thought - overall opinions, specific details, games you ran or played, people you met, and things you saw.

So, how was your Gen Con?