Thursday, June 28, 2018
Since I made a small contribution, just wanted to mention Return of the Blue Baron, volume 2.
It's a collaborative dungeon full of all kinds of crazy stuff! It was a fun, easy experience and I think the OSR should do more of that kind of thing.
Cooperation makes this hobby possible. I'm always happy to share little tidbits with my fellow creators. Just ask!
The PDF is free, so definitely check it out.
p.s. Also, be sure to post feedback and reviews.
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Originally, I had a different introduction for this blog post (see below). But reading this post on Raging Owlbear, I'm just going to say that providing descriptions is, like, the GM's #1 job. Take that away and why even bother having a GM. Just do some wargaming skirmishes with miniatures, instead.
It is fortuitous that I was thinking about Clash of the Titans this past weekend - specifically the character Thallo. Because without those stray thoughts, you wouldn't have this blog post and I wouldn't have found out that Tim Pigott-Smith just died. He played Captain of the Guard Thallo.
So, I was walking the twins and thinking about descriptions. Going the extra mile, taking it to the next level, and just how important that is in RPGs. Of course, keep in mind there's a world of difference between fully describing something the PCs experience in their virtual reality type of environment and the adventure writer's crappy novella about the town the PCs are visiting, all the townsfolk, and 1,000 years of history that nobody gives two shits about - just get on with it!
Anyway, it struck me that Thallo's description of flies when he's talking to Perseus is the perfect example!
Even back then, when I was about 8 and watching Clash of the Titans seemingly every day, I knew that Thallo's words were beyond mere mortal description. As a wordsmith, he was like the Gods, and probably would have made a fucking boss GM, too.
Accursed, hell-sent swarms of blood-gutted marsh flies.
Any adventure writer or GM can come up with "marsh flies." That's nothing. Describing them as "blood-gutted marsh flies" is better, we can both see them clearer and get a better sense of their feeding habits. It's visceral. But "accursed, hell-sent swarms of blood-gutted marsh flies"? Damn, that's awesome! The players now know where they're from or where they seem to be from, that their evil, possibly demonic, that they come in swarms, probably plaguing that entire marshland area.
Great descriptions do more than convey information - they're symbolic, the programming language that literally makes the game. Words are the tools we gamers use to create and interact with that virtual world.
Sure, you can go overboard. After all, Lovecraft did that all the time and no one remembers him or his creations. That was sarcasm, yes. When it's called for, go off the rails - describe stuff like there's no tomorrow.
So, be like Thallo and Lovecraft - do your job as either an adventure writer, GM, or both!
p.s. Want more advice like this? You can get Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss and Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss II.
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
This blog post serves as a record for "session -1"... basically talking about the stuff there is to talk about before session zero.
Yes, I'm launching a new D&D campaign next month. Why D&D? Well, it's awesome and... you've got to go where the fish are. Tons of people play D&D. Comparatively, 5 people play any of the lesser known, old school, retro-clones or OSR off-shoots like Crimson Dragon Slayer (even though d6 dice pools are way cooler than d20).
Three guys talking about D&D, movies, concepts, influences, and the kind of campaign we'd like to see - nay, live in! It went well; let's dive into the juicy stuff.
I've always had at least an inkling of science-fantasy post-apocalypse in my D&D games. However, this time I wanted to go all-in. Mutant Crawl Classics has been ordered from my FLGS (just found out the 1st printing is sold out, but the game store's distributors had a couple extra copies).
In creating the campaign setting/world called Cha'alt, I'm planning on drawing quite a bit of influence from MCC and Dark Sun, but also the following movies...
Mad Max: doesn't get any more post-apocalyptic inspired than that. I also want to use Cyborg and Water World as inspirations. A totally ruined civilization where survivors must scavenge to survive in a chaotic, untamed world!
But how? Well...
Zardoz: A trippy, 70's favorite of mine. Just like in Zardoz, there's two lands - one populated by the brutals where it's all savage and low-tech and the second populated by eternals - young and beautiful degenerate intellectuals who want for nothing and have elaborate social rituals. The eternals use the brutals by way of the vortex (seriously, if you're dying to see Sean Connery's chest hair - just go see Zardoz).
Why not have two main realms? One was shielded from the apocalypse, more or less, and is the dark near-future cyberpunk world we're familiar with. Possibly a domed city or one of several, like in Logan's Run. The other land (pretty much the rest of the world) got the full brunt of the apocalypse and are living in the devastated aftermath.
The PCs are opportunists, mercenaries, thrill-seekers, or one of the dregs of society who agree to travel between the two lands, carrying out various missions and/or independently seeking fame, glory, and treasure (gold, credits, magic, and tech).
How did the apocalypse occur? Instead of going the usual route of nuclear war, why not dive into the sword & sorcery lore of Thundarr the Barbarian? Yes, a mysterious comet passed too close to our moon, broke it in half, and shit went crazy! Ok, it's not really "our" moon. This is all happening on some fantasy world, which explains the elves, dwarves, magic, etc.
I was looking up my kids' Chinese zodiac signs last night and early this morning. There was something in the description for Year of the Dragon that caught my eye.
In ancient times, people thought that dragons could control everything in the world with their character traits of dominance and ambition.
That sparked something in my imagination! I started thinking about dragons as gods in Cha'alt. All-powerful monstrous beings who influenced the people of that world. Priests would pray to and worship dragons - fire dragons, water dragons, gold dragons, steel dragons, and so on. As dragons fought amongst themselves, so would great armies - leading to the Dragon Wars.
System-wise, I'm leaning towards the Basic Starter version of D&D 5e and adding bits and pieces from there, instead of saying everything in the Player's Handbook is legit and then having to go through it and take bits and pieces out.
It'll be old school. O5R, to be exact. And while the 1st session starts up in July, there's going to be an online version of the game people can play, too, via Roll20. At least, that's the hope. We'll see. I still have to complete my latest Alpha Blue kickstarter!
Have an opinion, let me know.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Yes, you can now buy Alpha Blue merch right over here!
I'm trying to promote my Kickstarter (only 11 days left to back) Alien Ass, Hydrogen Gas, or Cosmic Grass... No One Warps For Free! Please check it out, support my dirty hobby, and tell your friends / RPG acquaintances.
Glynn Seal of MonkeyBlood Design (hire this glorious bastard, you fool!) did an outstanding job creating the pink tentacles and slime details, font, etc. I mean, is there anything worse than a t-shirt with rectangular image just hanging in space?
A couple more items may be added in the next few days, we'll see. The sad part is that I'm only making about 10% per item sold - should be able to pay Glynn back for his magnificent work in 2021. But at least Zazzle takes care of all the heavy lifting, of which I have neither the time nor energy to do.
Zazzle also does frequent sales. Sometimes site-wide sales (25% off right now), certain items, etc. They also have some interesting options. For instance, the posters come in a range of sizes and if you wanted a canvas print, you can also choose the thickness, as well as, the size. Be sure to play around with options before ordering to make sure you'll love it.
Any questions, just let me know!
p.s. Glynn just alerted me that you need to switch the content filter to "OFF" in order to see the images (I set them to PG-13). Thanks, hoss!
Sunday, June 10, 2018
I've been having an interesting conversation online about XP, leveling, and new mechanics / dice rolling conventions.
What I proposed a few days ago right over here, basically took the place of the math heavy calculations that went into doling out XP per character. I remember playing in the 80's and sometimes it would take the DM up to an hour after a session to get the final numbers (we were all about 12 at the time).
That seems like a lot - and it was - but that was the way it was, and I do not believe that's an exaggeration.
Anyways, the old school purist I was engaging with said something about all these newfangled rules and ways of doing things diluted the purity of the game, making it harder to find a game or made the available gaming pool for old school D&D more shallow.
To that, I suggested that game mechanics will always play second fiddle to the really important factors that go into an RPG campaign...
- The GM (is he GMing like a fucking boss or is he just an asshole who doesn't care and loves his precious NPCs way too much?)
- The Players (I want to game with people who love the game - they don't have to know a lot about it, just be enthusiastic and willing to immerse themselves in the fantasy world we're collectively making).
- The food/drink available (Sure, I can eat before and after the game, but sharing delicious food and beverages makes the experience that much better).
- Comfortable and quiet place to play (if your cat's dingle-berries are "x" amount of inches from my dice and I'm sitting in a metal grade school cafeteria chair, I'm out).
- Close to home
- Convenient day/time
- The game's setting, flavor, theme, mood, aesthetic, etc. (Several days ago, some awesome dude was talking about mixing Planet of the Apes with Carcosa... hell yeah!)
- Style of play (don't play my character for me and don't railroad me. I want some agency, bitch!)
I could think of others, I'm sure, if I sat here for another hour or two. But that's enough to get the idea across - who you play with and where is so much more important than 90% of the game's overall functionality.
Yes, I maintain that all of those things, individually, are more important than playing Moldvay vs. Holmes, or Mentzer vs. AD&D, or 2nd edition vs. 5th edition, or S&W vs. LL, or Crimson Dragon Slayer vs. DCC.
If I had the time, liked the people involved, and what the game was about, I wouldn't care if the GM used ascending AC, descending, or some weird random d12 mechanic he pulled out of his ass. Bring on the pizza, mountain dew, and let the good times roll!
p.s. Please check out and back my latest Alpha Blue kickstarter - Alien Ass, Hydrogen Gas, or Cosmic Grass... No One Warps For Free!
Sunday, June 3, 2018
This is the 2nd episode of our RPG talk show Inappropriate Characters, comprised of RPGpundit, James Desborough, and myself.
In this episode, we talk about Kickstarters, Anita Sarkeesian coming to GENCON, gaming as adults, and more! Thanks for tuning in. Be sure to subscribe, like, and comment. If you enjoy that kind of irreverent programming, consider supporting us through our Inappropriate Characters Patreon.
p.s. The Alpha Blue supplement Alien Ass, Hydrogen Gas, or Cosmic Grass... No One Warps For Free! is being Kickstarted right fucking now - go check out the sexy girls if nothing else.
Friday, June 1, 2018
Tonight is our second episode of the Inappropriate Characters RPG talk show. Please subscribe to our channel and get notified when there's something new to watch!
Also, here's our Patreon account. It'll help us keep the good times rolling!
One of the topics I'll be discussing tonight is RPG kickstarters. Specifically, tips to succeed at running your own. As it happens, I launched my 15th KS earlier today.
Check out Alien Ass, Hydrogen Gas, and Cosmic Ass... No One Warps For Free!
If you have questions about running an RPG kickstarter, let me know what they are so I can answer them on the show.