Sunday, April 22, 2018

Alpha Blue Influences

I've talked about the sexy, sleazy, late-night, cult classic movies from the 70's and 80's that inspired a lot of the Alpha Blue action we've come to know and love. 

I've also mentioned old school RPGs that had their share of inspiration, like WEG Star Wars, Encounter Critical, Paranoia, and maybe even Toon and Tales from the Floating Vagabond (even though my only exposure to that game was advertisements in Dragon Magazine).

But re-reading the WTF D&D!? section over at Something Awful, I realized the cheesy, silly, inappropriate, Star Wars ripoff, and terrible on purpose actual play reports (pretty sure these aren't actual play reports) most likely influenced me and had an impact on the creation of Alpha Blue - possibly Kort'thalis Publishing's most successful RPG line.

Here is part 1 and this is part 2. Drink in their delicious stupidity, laugh your ass off (as I did, but not everyone is going to find them funny), and become wiser in the knowledge that another piece of the Alpha Blue origin puzzle has been completed!


p.s. Battle Star: Trek Wars is available right now over at DriveThruRPG.  It's 70+ pages of sleazy sci-fi awesomeness!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Adventure Writing

I've held onto fragments of Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss II for months.  I'm almost ready to put the finishing touches on, but want to hear from you one last time before the final edit. 

What about adventure writing, either for yourself or others, makes you nervous, becomes an obstacle, always seems to be a problem? 

Do you have questions that need answers?  If so, please share them with me.



Monday, April 16, 2018

Battle Star: Trek Wars PDF

Seemed to take forever, but at the same time this is, like, a month early...

I'm excited to announce the release of Battle Star: Trek Wars on PDF!!!

Glynn Seal of MonkeyBlood Design did an awesome job with the layout.  It's not just pretty, though - I think you're going to find this book useful, fun, and the perfect resource for that Alpha Blue campaign you've been fantasizing about.  ;)

Thanks to everyone who contributed content, supported this project, backed it on Kickstarter, and goes out and buys it.


p.s. The full-color print version is coming next month!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Taking a poll

I've been working on a new project that's only tangentially related to RPGs.  The following is a short poll.  I hope you take the time to answer it.  Thanks!

1. If there were a social networking site specifically devoted to causes (anything that someone's passionate about and wants to see action taken or enact change themselves), would you be interested in joining and sharing it with others?

2. Once it's up and running, do you think such a community may become one of your preferred social networking sites?

3. If you were using this website, what feature(s) would you be most interested in using or having available?


Ok, more RPG news coming soon...


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Something for The Players

There's now a softcover edition combining both Player's Handbook Like A Fucking Boss and Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss.  It's an Amazon/CreateSpace print-on-demand book, so it's good quality (decided against going through the extra hassle of DriveThruRPG).

This has a wealth of awesome advice and options for RPG players - especially those who love fantasy!

Doesn't matter if you're all the way into old school (OSR), OSR curious and playing 5e, or totally new school, like Pathfinder.  There's something for everyone in these draconic pages.

Thanks for purchasing, reviewing, and sharing this news with all gamers.  ;)


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Blurring the Line Between Player and Character

Remember those old D&D advertisements? They attempted to put you right there in the action, as if you stepped inside one of the fantasy characters, exploring a dungeon or fighting a dragon.  "You are the wizard!"

The times when it felt like myself but also my character in the environment described by the GM, that's the essence of roleplaying. That's when I really connected with the game and immersed myself in another world.

Everything else is just hanging out with friends, rolling dice, and seeing what happens next - not a terrible thing, but not what I like best about RPGs, not what makes them special.  That uniqueness is best represented, in my view, by old school styles of play. 

I'm trying to make more videos, as well as, blogging.  Here's one I just made about this very subject...

Can you remember a time when it felt like you weren't sure where you ended and your character began?  Tell me about your experiences!


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Updated PDF: Player's Handbook Like A Fucking Boss

Some nice changes have been made to the PDF (both bloody parchment with evil red veins and the printer-friendly version), so wanted to blog about it!

A few of the previous illustrations weren't that well integrated into the layout, my fault on that.  And a new image was added, plus text from Draconic Magazine here.  So, the document is looking better than ever. 

If you've already purchased it, the updated PDFs are waiting for you (email notification should have automatically been sent out when the files were updated).  If you don't have it yet, I think it's well worth the price...

Aww Hell, let's put this motherfucker on sale!!!


Monday, March 12, 2018


So, this question was recently posed at the end of a Ten Foot Pole review for Gamma Turquoise: Santa Fe Starport...

"What's the point of all the penis imagery/juvenile themes? Not a complaint. Just curious and interested in why you think your work needs that?"

Rather than reply to this comment with something short like "Because I can," which isn't very illuminating, I thought, why not do a blog post about it?

The simplest answer is that I like comedy, I like things that are funny, I like being funny.  I think humor is one of the strongest qualities of both man and art - it reveals, deflects, digs deep, allows us to remain on the surface, and keeps us from taking things too seriously.

The vast majority of RPG content is serious, almost nobody writes for laughs.  Maybe that's because if what they write is taken seriously that means they'll be taken seriously?  I don't know.  But the exclusivity of humor in RPGs is one of the things that attracts me to it.  If most people are doing one thing, I like to go the other way.  That's just who I am.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, RPGs are a great medium for shared storytelling and cooperative imagination. But they also have a stumbling block or two. Without audio and visuals (besides the GM's voice and a few illustrations and possibly miniatures with terrain), RPGs lack the visceral punch of movies, TV, comic books, music, and novels (which is a different story entirely - campaigns are not novels, though we should take cues from them).

In fact, music is a good analogy - before the music video, you had the album cover art and maybe a few pictures of the musicians on the back.  Otherwise, you had to go see the concert and then it was just a bunch of people on a stage playing their instruments.  Even after MTV's heyday, a lot of today's music is consumed visually. 

So, what's my point?  That RPGs need a helping hand.  More than passing around a picture of a dragon or ginger-bearded tavern keeper, our gaming sessions are better if they incorporate strong imagery based on classic tropes, material the players have experienced in the movies, TV, and novels. I ask you, how many characters would have ever used a whip if not for Indiana Jones?

The familiarity of humor is also an "in." It's an imagination boost!  Laughter is universal, even though not everybody thinks the same things are funny.  My comedy can be weird and dark; it's occasionally juvenile and often rooted in sexual themes.  Plus, there's the whole sleazy angle which I love for entirely different reasons and is a blog post for another time...

In conclusion, my answer to why I think my work needs such things is this - comedy is gold!


p.s.  There are still quite a few Kort'thalis Publishing books that aren't full of penile juvenilia.  Such as... Dead God Excavation, Blood Dark Thirst, The S'rulyan Vault I and II, and anything with "Like A Fucking Boss" in the title should have a minimum of frothing vaginal tentacles (uncircumcised).  That's the Venger Satanis guarantee!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Alpha Blue session report: Green Slime Boobs Religion

Another excellent game of Alpha Blue last night... a continuation from last session.

Three players, two new PCs, and one returning - Ginger Roots, a female navigation expert and explorer who's contemplative, healthy, wealthy, and wise - along with being good with lasers and hand-to-hand combat.

The other PCs were a robot chef named RB with flamethrower, chopping knives, and hover-board feet who also kept a little creature in his chest oven.

Hanzo was a space rat templar embodying the worst parts of organized religion - fanatical in the promotion of his own god for the dual purposes of increasing the power and spreading the influence of that god's religion.

Hanzo was created using the traditional character generation tables in the Alpha Blue rulebook, while RB was made using the new 7 word or phrase method over here.

Left high and dry on Alpha Blue by their former crew, they wandered the Mardi Gras type celebration happening in the entire entertainment section of the space station.

Ginger Roots and Hanzo got acquainted with RB as he was serving succulent and effervescent desserts upon a platter or h'orderves.  If the player hadn't come up with his own, we could have used this random dessert table here.

Ginger and Hanzo were looking to join a new crew on a new ship, so they asked RB if he knew of any job openings.  Turns out that RB's master was in the market for spacers. 

They talked to Kystin pirate pimp extraordinaire and he agreed to take them on as probationary members of the crew if they delivered a message to his rival, Vom Fass.

So, the PCs continued to walk through the celebration - going to the restroom, watching some alien get blasted, someone bought them drinks with his gambling winnings, they bought some drugs from a shifty trench-coat wearing dude, and chatted with a bunch of prostitutes who took RB's credits so he could taste a very special kind of dessert in the backroom. 

Before you know it, they were standing in front of Vom Fass who stood inside an environmental suit. Vom Fass insulted them and when the PCs talked back, he got ready to draw.  RB preempted any dueling by letting loose his flame thrower.  Hanzo kept shooting laser crossbow bolts into his groin while Ginger Roots blasted his arm off.  Vom Fass got a couple good shots in before he died.

They hightailed it onto Kystin's ship and out of Alpha Blue before a small angry, laser-toting mob got to them.  Off to the desert planet of P'oon to pick up an illegal shipment of... an undisclosed substance.

While relaxing on route to P'oon, Hanzo took a look at the meditation room on the ship, only to discover there was another crew member already using it.  This fellow spacer was a pink gelatinous dude who worshiped an entirely different space god.  This distressed Hanzo and led to a heretical religious debate of sacrilege and blasphemy. The jelly dude's form of worship was oozing green slime on women's breasts.  As much as Hanzo wanted to denounce such alternative religious practices, he couldn't help but realize the sense of it, eventually joining in.

Kystin's ship bypassed a Federation battle cruiser thanks to Ginger's navigational skills.  They landed in the desert, near the intended target - a starport. 

A Zone trooper security patrol caught up to the PCs, demanding to see their papers.  Instead, Kystin blasted them, but then got shot himself.  Before dying, his last words to the PCs were don't forget to pick up the turquoise.

RB used his computer access to locate the ship full of turquoise.  Dressed as Zone troopers, the PCs cut in line at the checkpoint.  Hanzo decided to pop some drugs he had bought on Alpha Blue and started seeing colorful dots all over, plus he was talking to himself. 

Luckily, he held it together until they could take possession of the turquoise.  Another security officer came by to check on things, questioning the PCs.  They made it through ok and flew the smaller ship full of turquoise into Kystin's ship. 

Then, they went back to Alpha Blue to sell it.

It was a typical Alpha Blue sandbox adventure driven by the players and helped with some random tables.  Besides coming up with a couple of NPCs beforehand, it was all improvised.  I got to use my electric, color-changing candles and roll on some new tables, so that was also cool.


p.s. I had planned on recording some of this session and uploading it to YouTube, but since it was Alpha Blue (the sleaziest RPG in the galaxy), the wife vetoed that pretty hard. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Streaming Feelers

So, I'm sure the vast majority of you are aware of that epic Strongholds & Streaming kickstarter. With a couple days to go, it's up over 1.8 million dollars. 

Since my self-publishing efforts will be sidelined for at least a year, starting July 1st, (due to time and financial concerns) I've been thinking about streaming my own weekly games this summer.

I wouldn't be able to put too much energy into this (outside of running the actual game); otherwise the wife isn't going to let me pursue this, either.  However, I'm hoping with a minimum of additional fuss, I could provide an awesome stream of gaming for the viewing public.

Though, I would love to run my own games, especially Alpha Blue or Crimson Dragon Slayer, I've got to put financial needs above my own vanity.  Therefore, I'd be running Dungeons & Dragons - however, it'll be old school, using a wide variety of home-brewed and OSR/O5R content, as well as, adhering to a plethora of vintage aesthetics, play styles, and GMing techniques. 

Hopefully, this would do double or triple-duty - providing a fun, creative outlet for others to watch while teaching gamers how D&D 5e can be played in a more Basic D&D fashion.  Plus, a little extra financial security wouldn't hurt.

Let me know what you think!  If I can convince my wife (who has our family's best interests at heart) that streaming is where it's at, there might be a new KS next month...

Meanwhile, I've been making videos on my YouTube channel and trying to post more RPG related stuff on twitter @VengerSatanis in an effort to keep from going broke while not totally selling out to The Man.

Thanks for your continued support,

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

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Alpha Blue Opening Crawl

Yep, there it is!  Now, Alpha Blue is just like Star Wars - probably the single biggest influence on Alpha Blue, and a personal favorite of mine.

I appreciate all your support, everyone.  Thanks for running, playing, buying, mentioning, reviewing, crowd-sourcing content for, blogging about, and jerking off to the sleaziest sci-fi RPG in the universe!

Battle Star: Trek Wars is coming out in June, and I can't wait to whip it out and show it to you.  ;) 

Preview some of the fantastic random tables of futuristic fornication on Draconic Magazine.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Obsidian Sphere Gaming Group: Episode One, "I Roll"

Well, I did it again.  Look, mom, only 1 take! I did a practice run first, though.  The wife is also trying to put the kebosh on my videos, so had to do this in the precious moments of free time between work and home.

In case you missed it, here is the pilot. Anyone whose triggers are tentacle rape and awful homemade "animation"... this is not for you!

Thanks for watching, hope you enjoyed it (at least a little bit) and will continue to check out Obsidian Sphere Gaming Group as the show (d)evolves.


p.s. Yeah, I noticed that the title written on the card says "Black Sphere Gaming Group" and I also read it that way.  Just pretend that shit was on purpose!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Proper Procedure

Wasn't sure how to word the title.  "Procedural" can describe a host of play styles, so perhaps "modern procedure" is what I'm railing against? 

Basically, I enjoy roleplaying through a situation or interacting with the game world as if I were my character and actually present in that fantasy realm or starship or loathsome cult's temple.

I know that skill checks and insight rolls are popular nowadays, but there's something awesome about living through your character, carefully skulking down the dark hallway and feeling around with your ten-foot pole. 

Reducing a conversation, room search, or investigation of an unknown substance to a die roll just seems to trivialize the importance of such things.  How can one immerse themselves in a particular genre if everything boils down to rolled dice and modifiers?  Even attacking monsters should occasionally have some narrative component, right?

I'd like to hear about your own experiences with this.  Did something during a game either bother or excite you?  Did you experience one end of the spectrum and it caused a reaction?  Comment with a story!


Thursday, March 1, 2018

PDF Sale at DriveThruRPG

There are a lot of titles on sale over at DriveThruRPG right now.  The sale's going on until March 11th. 

Apparently, many of my own PDFs are 33% off and burning a sleazy, eldritch, gonzo hole in the internet's back pocket!!!

Thanks for supporting Kort'thalis Publishing, guys!


p.s. Endzeitgeist just reviewed Gamma Turquoise here and Save Yourself From Hell over here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

GM Pro Tip #1

I saw this happen last week and it bothered me, so I made a video about it.

As a Game Master, you're the master of the game.  Don't go power mad, don't hog the spotlight, and don't betray the players' trust by treating them like C-list supporting cast members in your pretend movie!


p.s.  Why aren't you playing Alpha Blue... or new and improved strip Alpha Blue?!?  Want to give the sleazy sci-fi RPG a little try? First time's free!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Will The Game Into Being

Circling around the whole issue of converting old school D&D material to 5e, I've come to another point - just fucking GM, baby!  That's the real stuff.  Slavishly adhering to a rulebook or linear adventure script is not roleplaying.

Below, is just some D&D inspiration... your moment of zen, so to speak.

Thanks for watching!  If you want me to make a video about another RPG subject, just ask.


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

Saturday, February 24, 2018

5e Conversion is Totally Unnecessary

My videos are a work in progress, but I believe I've turned a corner.  They're going to be better than they were.  Still not saying much, but oh well...

Basically, this came out of a discussion from this blog post right here.  I appreciated everyone's commentary!

TL;DW: conversion is a myth, a hoax, a marketing ploy to separate you from your hard earned money.  There's no need to convert OSR into 5th edition or vice-versa because it's 98% identical.  That's what the O5R moniker was all about - symbolizing the overwhelming similarity between the OSR and 5th edition D&D.

Thanks for watching,


Friday, February 23, 2018

La Bas Chartreuse

This is something I've been toying with for a few months.  Finally decided to present things in a bare bones way, rather than couching the outstanding elements in a passable storyline.

I present La Bas Chartreuse!  You can use it with The Outer Presence or any investigative horror / eldritch pulp RPG.

For $2, you get the usual Kort'thalis Publishing treatment - awesome layout, fantastic art, evocative writing, and random tables. 

Thanks for checking it out,


p.s.  The piece you're looking at here is from none other than Paul "Night Serpent" Carrick!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

D&D Adaptation

I was chatting with my friend +Alexander Macris earlier today and we got on the subject of the OSR and why that gargantuan resource seems to be relatively untapped by the greater 5e community.

From an outsider (and 43 year old dude) perspective, stumbling upon all the OSR has to offer would be like shooting at muskrat on your property and accidentally striking oil in your backyard!  Yes, I'm referencing The Beverly Hillbillies.  Old School!!!

But that just doesn't seem to be the case.  The O5R phenomenon I anticipated never really materialized, sadly.

As far as I know, 5e players either aren't aware of the OSR or don't care about it.  Do you guys think it's because D&D players aren't willing or don't know how to adapt similar-but-not-official material to their own games?  Lack of representation in retail outlets?  Aesthetic dissonance?  Something else?

I really want to hear from people - all walks of gamers - so definitely comment with your thoughts, please.



Monday, February 19, 2018

No Gary Con For Me

It hasn't rained for quite a while in Venger land, but now it's pouring!

It is with much regret that I informed Gary Con that I will not be attending.  My family needs me and I have to put them first, no matter how much I was looking forward to going, meeting new people, seeing old friends, and running games.

The anticipation of this year's Gary Con kept me going when things were shitty - on more than one occasion.

This is certainly a dark time of the soul of me personally and professionally, but I shall endure.  Cthulhu willing, I'll work my way free soon enough.

Tentacles crossed,


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Suck on that, IRS!

I'm meeting with our accountant next week and wanted to get my financial ducks in a row beforehand. 

Not counting all the legitimate deductions he's going to hook me up with, Kort'thalis Publishing's profit for 2017 was $7,764.48 (give or take a couple hundred dollars, wasn't exactly sure on a couple write-offs).

Haha!  Jokes on you, IRS.  That's peanuts.  Peanuts!  Looks like I'll be paying 40% of suck my balls come April!!!

Ok, ok, I jest.  7 grand ain't bad after 5 years.  But it's pretty far from the big time and those taxes inevitably take a huge bite.  Oh well, I don't do it for the money - writing, designing, playing, GMing, and self-publishing RPGs is my passion.

The potential downside - if my career that actually pays the bills significantly under-performs, as it's currently trending (won't know for sure until mid-Summer), this RPG self-publishing gig is not sustainable and I'll be forced into (possibly semi) retirement starting July 1st.

Cthulhu willing, my real job/paycheck will sail through these troubled waters unscathed.  Tentacles crossed!

Thanks to everyone who supported me in one way or another last year,

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

p.s.  No matter what happens, I'm going to complete my Battle Star: Trek Wars kickstarter obligations and will try to sneak a few smaller releases in before July.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Obsidian Sphere Gaming Group

I made this... yeah.

It's something I've been thinking about for awhile.  Now, it exists.  Let me know what you think.

Obviously, if people want to see more, I'll step up the production values - that means colored pencils, y'all!

Also, probably NSFW.  Obsidian Sphere Gaming Group was created by me, after all.


p.s. Episode One, "I Roll" can be found here.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Lasers are Red; Harlots are Blue

Running Alpha Blue isn't like running any other RPG.

The Bold Dungeon Space Master has to initiate handjobs and move combat along without it getting all tactical and strategic.  He's got to remember which PC likes to be whipped, which one has X-ray vision, and who's the drug addict.

Earlier this afternoon, I ran a one-hour (90 minutes, as usual) demo game of Alpha Blue on Roll20.

Just like last time, I had all the players list 7 words or phrases to describe themselves.  Actually, some of the players were having a difficult time coming up with 7.  Since this was a quick one-shot, I told them 5 would be plenty.

Lube McFly: a charming and well-connected lizard man private eye drug addict.

Holly Hardbody: a beautiful human pilot sharp-shooter and brawler ex-military.

Trigger: a cyborg techie hacker pilot who wears a cloaking device cloak and has an X-ray eye.

Grodor: a gigantic alien who's loyal, quiet, and likes animals.

The crew of Lady Luck has been hanging out at The Blue Oyster on Alpha Blue for the last few evenings.  Tonight is no different.  The spacers walk into a scene right out of Mos Eisley's Cantina.  Life forms everywhere - drinking, talking, flirting, and doing god knows what in the azure shadows!

Lube McFly heads straight for what interests him - a blue-skinned humanoid female.  For anyone taking notes, this makes the BDSM's life easier and the game is usually more fun for that player because he's pursuing his own agenda.

Holly Hardbody just sits at the bar looking around, having a drink.

Trigger gets insulted by a trio of assholes sitting at the bar.

Grodor either stands there doing nothing or sits at the bar waiting for something to happen.  As I've mentioned in Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss, being proactive helps everyone (the GM, the player, and the other players, too).  There's nothing wrong with being a wallflower, but you probably won't get much "screen-time."

Trigger uses his cloak to... cloak himself and tricks the assholes into fighting some big badass alien.  A barroom brawl ensues!

Lube wanders off with the blue girl (we never came up with a name for her, so I'm going to call her Zura) where they smoke a hookah.  The hookah comes in three different varieties: mild, medium, and "fuck you up."  They choose the last one, obviously.

Holly gets hit on by some slimy green bug-eyed alien.  She brushes him off.  She gets hit on by a shiny dark insectoid droid.  She brushes him off, too, content to sit at the bar and finish her drink.  So, she doesn't get much "screen-time," either.

Meanwhile, Lube gets a handjob from Zura as she tells him she's looking for a pilot with a ship.  She's supposed to deliver something to the planet Verrada.  Lube tells her that won't be a problem, promising to introduce her to Holly after she finishes.

Zura asks one of her girlfriends to help out.  The human woman leans in.  Zura asks Lube if he wants to give her a facial, jizz on her tits, in her mouth, or wherever.  Lube asks for her to wear glasses and cane him while chastising him for being a "naughty newt."

Trigger uses his X-ray eye to see beneath the clothing of everyone in the bar.  Seeing an opportunity for roleplaying and getting into the Alpha Blue spirit, I (the BDSM) tell Trigger that he sees a hot, gray-skinned, humanoid female with head tentacles who looks like she's enjoying his penetrating gaze.  The two flirt with each other.  She starts massaging him with her boobs.  He decides they should do it right there on the bar.

Lube attempts to shoot his load 20 meters away at a singer onstage.  I rolled; he failed.  His jizz hits a robed dwarf in the back of the head.  The dwarf notices, but doesn't know who did the deed.  Lube and Zura walk up to Holly and talk to her about going to Verrada to exchange blue crystal for credits.

Trigger finishes inside the gray girl he was screwing for an additional 6 temporary Health.

Zura flirts with Grodor, and Holly flirts back with Zura - but before they can go back to Lady Luck, three Federation troopers enter The Blue Oyster.  They're looking for Zura.  Once they spot her, the troopers start firing.

Everyone dives for cover.  That's a smart move, and normally it would give the attackers disadvantage.  But we were running out of time and this combat was coming late in the day.  I improvised, saying the bar was made of cheap plastic and their laser fire was incinerating everyone's cover.

By the end, all the PCs and Zura took a bit of damage.  The troopers were dealt with.  The PCs headed back to their ship.

The funniest bit was Lube ordering a creamy white drink from the bartender (now that The Blue Oyster was in shambles) and telling him to send it over to the robed dwarf.  "Enjoy another!"

Once aboard, Zura opened up a pouch and spilled its contents on the console - several large crystals.  Zura was going to cut them in for 10% of the take, but Lube negotiated 15%... as long as they provided her with armed support during the exchange.

Ending the session, Lube McFly purred, "Blue girl, I think you're going to lead me into all kinds of naughtiness."

Everyone had fun, as did I.  BDSMs shouldn't expect his players to grok Alpha Blue straight away.  There's a learning curve.  The focus is interaction (as opposed to exploration and combat), so players who prefer that mode of play are rewarded while those preferring the other two might enjoy the game less than they would a RPG geared towards exploring and fighting.

There's a chance we could pick up where we left off... never can tell.


p.s.  BTW, there's 17 hours left to back Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Balance Finds A Way

Yes, this essay purposefully matches that line from Jurassic Park, "Life finds a way."  And there's a reason for that.

The following idea came out of a discussion about racial balance in RPGs like D&D.  My thesis is this: Balancing elements of the game (not to be confused with game balance) is extremely important; however, one shouldn't rely on game mechanics in order to balance things out.

It's as simple as every cloud has a silver lining and every silver lining has a cloud.  Precious little is always best, always the right way, always superior to its competition.  And when that does happen, it becomes the rule, the way things are.  Now, let me stray from the point a bit...

There are rules (later, I'm going to refer to this as the Rule of Life), exceptions to rules, and arguments.  Here's are examples of each.

  • You don't kill people without a good reason, and on a sunny day the sky is blue.  Those are rules.
  • Thieves are not honorable, and it's more advantageous to be a citizen of the Roman Empire than a poverty-stricken villager somewhere in Africa.  By and large, those generally true.  However, there are notable exceptions to these rules.
  • Green is one of the best colors.  You shouldn't kill an enemy when he's unarmed.  Those are arguments waiting to happen.

When it comes to things like balance between fantasy races, even when it's clearly a better choice due to bonuses and whatnot, there are surely non-mechanical downsides to playing an elf.  If elves have certain advantages that aren't offset by disadvantages, there's going to be something in the game world that we can put in the "con" side.

Maybe elves are naturally arrogant?  Arrogance can lead to laziness or overconfidence and it can also make other races dislike you.  Perhaps elf culture has developed a disdain for heavy armor or anything other than "light" weapons?  Maybe, because they're adept with magic, they always radiate magic and can easily be detected by wizards and tracked by certain aberrations?

Now, just because negatives exist that doesn't mean they affect the PCs.  A potential downside might not be apparent, it might not trip them up right away, or it might not be a problem at all for them (water-breathing races can't stay on dry land for more than an hour at a time, but Galiant has a mysterious aquatic ring that erases that drawback).

Life creates its own balance sheet with debits and credits. They don't have to arise from pluses and minuses to Strength or Dexterity.  They don't have to be artificially restricted to a certain level in order to make things fair. I'm not saying everything eventually evens out - one side will usually be greater than the other, but some kind of balance eventually works its way in.

Going back to the Rule of Life, if a choice is clearly and objectively better than other choices, for instance playing a humanoid is superior to playing a squirrel, then it's not a matter of finding an opposing argument for squirrel PCs.  Just play a humanoid and focus on the millions of possible exceptions to rules and arguments in more contested areas!

Actually, playing a squirrel might be cool - which is in itself an upside.  That just goes to show the Rule of Life gets assaulted by arguments all the time and occasionally it breaks with time, pressure, and creativity.

In conclusion, there are always reasons to do something or not do something.  Virtually, everything in existence has good and bad, positive and negative qualities.  Potentially, at least.  That's a universal law worth contemplating.  All you have to do in your game world is figure out where the balancing factors are hiding.

Henceforth, hidden balance factors will be called shadow balance.  Because it sounds cool.


p.s. My Kickstarter Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars has only 3 days left to fund, so please check it out and back these sleazy Alpha Blue scenarios!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

LBGTQ in Alpha Blue

LBGTQ stuff happens all the time in Alpha Blue.  As the creator and frequent Bold Dungeon Space Master of the game, I know what goes on in that universe.  Gay stuff, bi-sexual stuff, transgender and non-binary stuff, even stuff there isn't a name for yet.  I've taken part in lots of homosexual encounters (men, women, and other) within the game.  Doesn't bother me.

Including all that stuff and creating a setting/RPG that demands such things, I can hardly be called a "homophobe."  And yet, here we are in 2018.  I bring up something unpleasant, impolite, potentially offensive, or unfair in a game's galaxy and the outrage brigade thinks all this is happening in real life.

I was recently informed that +Christopher Helton started a Facebook thread on his wall (scroll down to where he talks about Venger's old school gaming blog).

I like to think of myself as a neo-progressive.  I treat people the same.  Until I've actually interacted with them or experienced something they've created, all human beings are blank slates... some are white, black, gray, gay, straight, male, female.  I'm aware of stereotypes, biases, statistics, my own personal history, etc. But at the end of the day, everyone is at a zero-point, unless I know them or know something about them... at which point they go up or down in my "cool book."

That means I rip/bust on people for all sorts of reasons.  If there's a substantive difference in someone, I might call it out.  Just as I might mention a redhead being a redhead.  Doesn't mean I have some underlying hatred or fear of any group of people. 

Bad things sometimes happen in RPGs.  Good guys die, corrupt bureaucracies thrive, some vaginas have thorns... the point is that as a writer/designer/creative, I describe all sorts of things.  I don't condone all the things that happen in the games I make, the adventures I GM, etc. 

Was I really going to have gamers call each other "faggot" in one of the Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars scenarios?  Fuck no!  That part was just to get a rise out of SJWs and the Ctrl-Left that dominate a certain segment of our hobby/industry. 

However, am I still running with Snadq'ua: The Penis Showing Game?  Fuck yes!  The universe of Alpha Blue is a lot like our universe.  It's full of prejudice, virtue, vice, assholes, cool dudes/chicks, diverse cultures, and all sorts of individuals doing their own thing. 

As a spectator, you won't always high-five every aspect of the game.  Nor should you.  The Federation certainly doesn't deserve it, just as the haters in this universe can suck my balls every day of the week (and twice on S'yakwenz).

If it was up to them, I'm sure they'd try to ban Waiting..., Still Waiting..., The Police Academy movies, and pretty much anything awesome to ever come out of the 70's and 80's. 


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dead God Excavation

I very recently re-watched one of my favorite weird scifi-horror... things.  Quatermass and The Pit (duh duh duh duh duuuuuhhhhhh!)

It was originally broadcast in the late 50's as a six-part miniseries, each episode being around 45 minutes.  So, it plays like a really long movie if you watch it all at once.  Quatermass and The Pit is as close to a televised H.P. Lovecraft story as you'll ever find.  Except, HPL didn't write it.  His Cthulhu Mythos only influenced Quatermass and The Pit.

Long story short, Quatermass and The Pit influenced Dead God Excavation.  What if a medieval sword and sorcery type world discovered an immense tomb long buried underneath them.  Suppose that baleful sepulcher contained the remains of a monstrous, alien, Devil-God...?

You'll have to run or play the adventure to find out what happens.  The PDF is right over here!  It could be a "session zero" introduction for new beginnings, a quick convention game or one-shot, maybe even the apocalyptic end to a short-lived campaign.

It's O5R compatible, easily convertible to Dungeon Crawl Classics, Swords & Wizardry, Astonishing Swords & Sorcery of Hyperborea, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Labyrinth Lord, Adventurer Conqueror King, OSRIC, Basic D&D, AD&D, 5e, etc.

As always, thanks to the artists like +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal) and Zarono for their unique vision.  Thanks to the texture artist Sirius-SDZ for making his wild insanity free for creative use.  And a big tentacled thank you to +Martin Teply for not only proofing the manuscript, but providing valuable insight, as well.


Monday, January 22, 2018

The Penis Showing Game

At first, I was just going to post this on Draconic Magazine straight-up (you should excuse the expression) because that's where I post all my free/bonus content.

However, this may be a subject that's too touchy even for me... and Alpha Blue.  That's why I'm opening it up for discussion.  Not just to those who play the game and back my Kickstarters (such as Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars), but gamers from all walks of life.

Re-watching the raunchy comedy Waiting... last night, it dawned on me that Alpha Blue, or at least one of its many scenarios, could use something like The Penis Showing Game to keep things interesting.

Basically, you try to catch others unawares, making them inadvertently look at your junk.  Then you ridicule them for being a homosexual and get to kick them in the ass (the number of times depends on how complicated the "exposure move" is).

Instead of free ass-kicks, characters would get something else.  Maybe temporary Health or a chance to Steal the Spotlight or something completely different.  I'll need to work on the details and playtest it before putting it one of the Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars adventures.

Perhaps, this is a popular game on a particular planet.  Maybe this is something the Federation has instituted in order to keep up morale or distract from lackluster policies?  In the end, the reason doesn't really matter.  Fun is the most important thing - and the dumb, inappropriate, gross-out humor of The Game is what will generate this particular fun... one hopes.

I'm 43 years old, so old school comes naturally for me.  I like things vintage, for the most part, and the discrepancy between what's acceptable today and some bygone era fascinates me.  Now, you wouldn't normally think of a 2005 movie as old fashioned or out-of-date, but that's probably how it looks to us in 2018.

Yes, terms like fag, faggot, meat gazer, etc. are potentially offensive and frowned-upon in our over-sensitive and politically correct world.  I don't have anything against any sexual proclivity or lifestyle choice that happens between consenting adults.  Neither do I have anything against ripping on people for liking a certain thing or being a certain way.

I don't want to offend anyone.  I don't go out of my way to offend anyone, either.  However, sometimes I say or do things that are "offensive."  People don't have a right protecting them from potential offense, and yet, in this day and age, claiming a state of offendedness can be politically expedient. Victims seem to have more power at the moment, but I'm sure the pendulum will swing the other way sooner or later.

Can't please everybody. That's part of our world, part of being human.  It's a catch-22 wrapped in a mobius strip that flows like a snake we ride through the velvet goldmine.

In any case, if you have a comment to make, I'm listening!


Monday, January 15, 2018

Alpha Blue session report - Ta'andor Rising

I ran another one-shot (actually part 1 of 3) of Alpha Blue last Friday night.  This was a playtest session for my current Kickstarter campaign Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars.

We started things off with character creation, but unlike every other session... things went a little differently.

Five players, three hours, and fast times at Ta'andor galaxy...

  • Alpha Blue has its own "what's going on?" info-crawl at the bottom of every display screen (including ships refueling in the space station brothel's hangar), allowing patrons to hear about events, news, promotions, specials, sales, and hooker availability at a moment's notice.
  • The crew of The Stargazer decided to crash the Miss Ta'andor Bikini Contest.  Bribing the humanoid shark doorman.
  • On the way, drugs were purchased, imbibed, and bought in bulk!  Also, spare starship parts were ordered.
  • After choosing three teal-colored women (who were all half-sisters to each other), their pimp required extra payment.  He was poisoned and the PCs got out of there quick - but not before grabbing the pimp's room key.
  • They robbed the pimp's room and grabbed a blu-ber that was waiting for them.  Two lifeforms were having sex in the backseat.  Hung-Solo joined in.  He wanted to "wash of this stank."  Luckily, there's an app for that.  The blu-ber's driver hosed his mega-penis off before they stopped at a checkpoint.
  • They bribed the security officer to let them into the hangar, even though they looked just like the suspects' descriptions.
  • The pimp had a cache of supplies and information on Ta'andor Prime - a planet at the center of the galaxy that was rich in blue crystal.  Many factions poised to exploit the planet, but so many that it's turned into a deadly competition.
  • The PCs were allowed to enter the Pleasure Seekers of Ta'andor faction and hired to collect arms from the Mutant Death Squad faction and bring it back to them.
  • I learned what "ruggedized" means... as in, that pleasure droid should be ruggedized if she's going to hold up on a deep space voyage with these spacers.
  • They set off for a planet in that sector of the galaxy, but had to get through Krylon space first - and they were attacked by two Krylon raiders.  The PCs evaded the enemy ships instead of being destroyed.
  • After the arms deal, they landed on Ta'andor Prime and grabbed the dead pimp's loot.  

While this session was low on sexual activity (Samuel Jones had some off-camera stuff with the teal "ship's entertainment" who had nice hands) and non-starship laser battles were noticeably absent (I'm pretty sure that's never happened before), it was awesome. 

I got to break out the new map of Ta'andor galaxy!  Oh yes, and my wife bought me LED candles for Christmas, so I got to use those.  About a dozen different colors to choose from and they work on remote control.  I used them during the session, but could have used them more... pink for when the sex happens and red during ship-to-ship combat.

Session #2 won't happen for another month.  Though, I'm interested in running some quick demo games on Roll20...


Friday, January 12, 2018

Ta'andor Galaxy

I've got +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal)'s map(s) in hand!

A laminated one for me (my players spill a lot of soda and the occasional cocktail or beer) and three vinyl "outdoor banner" maps (that can be easily rolled up and shipped) for Kickstarter backers.

Yes, Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars is ongoing... support your local independent space opera smut-peddler!

The maps are 44" x 34" and represent the greater part of the Ta'andor galaxy.  There's humor, well-worn sci-fi cliches and homages, as well as, good old fashioned sleaze.  This hex-map will be accompanied by pages of random tables.  The Bold Dungeon Space Master (BDSM for short) can whip up an entire night's gaming - or even a campaign - with nothing but the map and a few rolls.

The adventures will be equally awesome!  Now that we're nearing another stretch goal, there will be 4 short scenarios - each an engaging and wild ride through contested Ta'andor.  Why is it so valuable?  What makes Ta'andor Prime the most precious and dangerous planet in this quadrant of the universe?  Together, all this forms a unique setting.  Apart, these scenarios and random tables are great for idea mining, one-shots, convention games, or stringing loose sessions together just to see what happens next... sandbox style.

Alpha Blue doesn't get the mainstream press like a lot of other sci-fi RPGs.  That's ok.  I'm well acquainted with the dark alleys and gutters, the red-lit flop houses and dens of iniquity.

I ask you, my fellow libertine gamer, to help spread the word.  Our sleazy shadow is growing.  Soon, you'll be joining us in the space champagne room.  A couple bounty hunters and a pleasure droid assassin are playing pink-pong over in the corner.  I'm talking to a scaly stripper who knows an ace pilot down on his luck.

Party's just getting started, spacer.  Bring a friend or two.  Normally, it's 10 credits at the door... but the first time's always free.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

It's Kort'thalis Publishing Day!

Not only is 111 my favorite number (for a variety of reasons), but Kort'thalis Publishing was founded on 1/11 about 5 years ago. 

As many of you already know, it's not easy being an independent publisher in the tabletop RPG market.  And yet, I feel enormously successful and gratified that we have so many awesome fans eagerly awaiting MOAR CONTENT!!!

So, all this weekend we're celebrating with some outrageous sales...

The Outer Presence is 50% off!

Blood Dark Thirst is 50% off!

Crimson Dragon Slayer is 50% off!

Also, don't forget about the Kickstarter currently funded and trying to reach those lofty stretch goals.  Check out and please share Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars.  I would love to see new gamers back my project!



Monday, January 8, 2018

Kort'thalis Publishing Testimonial

[First, a quick reminder that my latest Kickstarter Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars is still going.]

It's always nice to hear that you've made a positive impact on someone's gaming life. 

The following was posted by +Brian Courtemanche on the Kort'thalis Publishing g+ community (please join us!)...

I am fast becoming a fan of Kort’thalis Publishing. It started a couple of weeks ago with my purchase of The Outer Presence rpg and then having a great time running/playing it with friends this weekend. I’ve just now downloaded the Crimson Dragon Slayer bundle (CDS, Candy Crypts, and No Escape from New York) from DriveThruRPG.

The combination of simple, playable rules plus utterly gonzo situations is glorious. I’ve been on the rpg scene a long time (started with AD&D a loooong time ago) and this stuff is a breath of pure FUN. I’d sorta forgotten about fun. Somewhere down that line I became more concerned with rules systems, simulationist vs. narrative play styles, balanced encounters, and a whole bunch of Not Fun stuff that somehow crept into my skull. And in the midst of all that, I’ve spent a ton of money on crappy games (or games that used to be cool but have ‘upgraded’ to crappier editions), and wasted a lot of time. And must have had a blind spot to Kort’thalis Publishing somewhere in the middle of all that. Well I’m correcting all that now...rather like a blind man learning to see again. More like finding the FUN again!

Venger, man, thanks. Really, thanks. Your stuff rocks. I took a look at CDS 1.11 - the whole less gonzo, more dark science-sorcery stuff - and went ‘ugh! No! I want my crazy!’ And promptly purchased/downloaded the original CDS (bundled with Candy Crypts and No Escape from New York). I’ll buy a few more of the modules and such when my credit card has had a few weeks to lick its wounds.

Venger - speaking as a customer and consumer of the glorious products of your fevered imagination - I implore you to please keep these two things as your guiding stars as you forge more material:

1. Keep the rules simple. Please, please, please. I’ll take a simple, well-wrought system that handles the basics cleanly and leaves room for GM and player ingenuity any day over the plethora of overly-complex, pain-in-the-butt, multi-chapter mega-tomes that take forever to learn and shoehorn one’s gameplay to fit within a matrix of Byzantine rules. The simplicity and robustness of your game rules are a huge breath of fresh air, Venger. When we played The Outer Presence this weekend, explaining the rules to the players was a snap and we just got on with it. That ease of play and level of comfort with simple, robust rules that let us just get on with things can not be undervalued or overstated.

2. Keep it gonzo! When running The Outer Presence this weekend, my group had a blast partly because it was so ‘oh wow. Huh.’ Meepie atrocities, Dr. Steiner’s whole attitude, the weird thing floating thing flitting about the mountain (don’t want to get too specific and give anything away). One of my players rolled randomly for his background and got that he was an, um, ‘body double’ (say no more) for 1970s adult films. Well he took that and ran with it for the entire session. It was great. And now I’m skimming Crimson Dragon Slayer (just bought it, must now eagerly give it a proper read) and there’s the gonzo...well written gonzo! To me, the new, more somber approach of CDS 1.11 feels...meh.

Give me adventures that feel like a 1980s Conan rip-off made in the back half of a Spencer’s gift shop! Adventures that feel like a 1970s black velvet fluorescent poster lit by black light. I can get ‘somber, serious’ (aka: more muted and dull) stuff in a pile of other rpg offerings. Your stuff pops off the page because: a) it’s gonzo and b) you write it very well. A lot of people try for gonzo but they really don’t have the imagination and wordsmithing skills to pull it off. It just comes off as cheap and immature. But your stuff - well you hit the mark!

The potent combination of simple, rugged rules and unchained, un-politically-correct, refreshingly original craziness has made me a fan. Keep up the great work, man! Thanks, Venger! - Brian C.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars

I've got a new Kickstarter.  Here's the link!

Basically, I'm trying to fund three Alpha Blue adventures.  Each will focus on a slightly different aspect of the game - sleaze, laser sword-wielding action/adventure, and deep space exploration.

To go along with these scenarios, +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal) and I are working on a galactic map full of territories/factions, planets, stars, and all kinds of craziness.  The map will correspond to a plethora of random tables revealing what's going on in each sector of the Ta'andor galaxy.

I'm excited about this project, and I hope you'll help make Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars a reality!  ;)

Thanks for climbing aboard,