Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Do you believe in unlikelihoods?
After explaining the GaryCon situation to my loving wife, she found a way for me to attend GaryCon this March. I won't be there for the entire weekend, but I'll be there... with tentacles!
And of course, I'll be running games (just got my events approved) and carrying around a few Kort'thalis Publishing titles for anyone who wants to acquire them at "friend prices."
Well, I just got what I really wanted for Christmas this year. Hope you guys can say the same!
Oh and one last thing... lets do our part (the OSR and every other type of gamer out there) to make GaryCon XI the best, friendliest, accepting, tolerant, respectful, and awesome RPG convention ever!
Fun is the priority and the most fun will be had when we realize we're all in this together. However, forging a community has to be done the right way. Bullying, boycotting, harassing, threatening, terrorizing, and making people feel guilty isn't the way forward.
Love and green slime from your za'akier brother behind the screen,
Monday, December 24, 2018
Wasn't that Jack Shepard's mantra on the first season of Lost?
As much as I'd love to blindly follow a string of public shaming and identity politics by someone who's previously disavowed my RPG clique of choice, (Stacy Dellorfano's boycott of GaryCon posts one and two), I just can't bring myself to continually ruin someone's life because of their relatively mild past mistakes.
After all, it's not like Bill Webb threatened to kill someone while repeatedly sucker-punching them at a bar outside the convention center. Yeah, that's right. Some of us still remember the GenCon assault on Jeremy Hambly ( of The Quartering and Unsleaved Meda fame), and what little GenCon did to remedy that awful situation - GenCon fucking banned Jeremy Hambly!?!
Regardless, the people surrounding that PaizoCon incident want to put it behind them. I haven't heard of additional bad behavior from Bill Webb. However, Stacy Dellorfano joined in the harassment of myself on social media just a couple months ago after I rejoined Facebook. Also, they and their SJW cohorts have repeatedly called the OSR toxic, full of awful white males who have nothing better to do than harass, sexually or otherwise, everyone who's the least bit different.
Of course that's bullshit. Take it from me, as a recently identified person of color (green is beautiful, green is za'akier), it's not the fault of white people... or humans, for that matter. Nothing will every be perfect. A group will never be ideologically pure. Not everybody can be saved from the slightest hint of social injustice. And trying to over-correct nature's chaotic balance will surely throw shit out of wack (case in point, the domestic terrorist group Antifa).
I wished I could go to GaryCon this Spring - before this mess started. Now, I wish I could be there even more. Alas, the twins will be two and a half, and I love my wife too much to let her deal with them and our three older children all weekend by herself (even with parents helping, it's a lot of work). But by 2020, there's a distinct possibility!
So, boycott away, Ctrl-Left assholes! The OSR will be just fine without you. BTW, we'll be talking about this topic and a whole lot more during the next installment of our RPG talk-show Inappropriate Characters.
p.s. My latest Alpha Blue release THOT Audit is currently PAY WHAT YOU WANT on DriveThruRPG!
Friday, December 21, 2018
So, here's a funny thing... I was logging onto rpg.net in order to promote my latest Alpha Blue scenario THOT Audit, and discovered that I was banned.
The first time I was banned (back in 2005, I recall) was for cursing someone within the forum - I performed a magic ritual to destroy those who continually mouthed off. I don't want to get into too much detail.
But now, this time? To my knowledge, I haven't said or done anything recently on rpg.net to warrant any kind of moderation, let alone a permanent ban. But of course, I've done plenty outside that forum, haven't I?
Yes, I've spoken out regarding rpg.net's anti-Trump enforcement. My identification as trans-human (za'akier) which some took as a joke or insult to the LBGTQZ+ community. Pushing back against the far-left for trying to control and police games, gamers, and gaming communities into the ground.
For these crimes perpetrated outside the purple walls of rpg.net, I've been banned. Where else will I not be allowed to exist online? What other internet group shall attempt to take my voice away? Is there a movement, now or in the future, that can subvert my inhuman will?
Come find me...
For many, the phrase "THOT audit" is clear. Up until a month ago, I didn't know what the Hell that meant.
THOT stands for That Ho Over There (not very flattering, I know, but that's the internet for you). And it seems that many women exploiting themselves for money online weren't claiming that money on their taxes. Such is the way of things.
However, some men have reported various women to the IRS... and a few have been audited. I assume many more in the gray area of sex-work believe they might be next. Hence THOT audit.
Being the cheeky bastard and headline-ripper that I am, I... commissioned Zoltar Khan Delgado to author a spanking-new Alpha Blue scenario called THOT Audit. Get your Pay What You Want PDF right over here!!!
It's a one-shot "space dungeon" aboard a cargo freighter filled with aliens, droids, sex, drugs, strangeness, and random tables.
p.s. David Guyll (check out the man's blog) joins the Kort'thalis Publishing team! He did the wondrous layout and cartography for THOT Audit. Expect many more fabulous adventures from him and I quite soon...
Monday, December 17, 2018
We're all familiar with the one-page dungeon concept, right?
It's a dungeon with notes on the side. Everything is self-contained on that single page. It's all right there. Only the minimum of detail will suffice - the rest is up to the GM.
But what about a one-page adventure that focuses on stuff like rumors, NPCs to interact with, factions, story elements, and places to visit, along with a wandering encounter table you might find in both iterations of the one-pager?
What kinds of things would you want to see on this one-page adventure? What would be most useful to you?
Is that something you guys would be interested in using? Could this be an under-developed sub-niche for those of us with big ideas and small amounts of time to write, playtest, and self-publish?
Side benefit - it should be less expensive to produce!
I want to hear your thoughts, so please give me feedback in a comment below!
p.s. First image is from this blog here. Second image is from a Patreon account right over there.
Monday, December 10, 2018
Another review of Dead God Excavation over here inspired this blog post...
Sometimes, I provide tools, raw materials from which GMs can forge their own adventures. Stuff like The S'rulyan Vault or Totally Random Tables. I liken this to cookie dough. Inverting the formula, I've provided roughly 15% and the GM has to provide the additional 85% of the work.
Sometimes, I do pretty much all the heavy lifting, the adventure is more or less turnkey for the GM, allowing him to add the final details, that last 15%. These are fresh baked cookies.
Every once in awhile, and perhaps Dead God Excavation is the epitome of this style, I write something that's mostly cooked but still kind of gooey in the center. Perhaps a medium-rare steak is a better analogy. Rather than providing 85% of what's needed to run the session (taking into account GM improvisation), it's more like 75%.
This can be unsettling for those who're used to 85% - 100% of the work provided for them by the adventure writer. I can understand that, and sympathize with those who feel cheated by the empty holes waiting to be filled.
While I enjoyed Prince of Nothing's review (I can respect his over-the-top presentation), I'd like to touch on a few key concepts that many gamers, even the OSR, occasionally miss.
Stereotypes, cliches, and all-too-familiar tropes are usually a bad thing in fiction, tv shows, movies, etc. However, I believe they are sorely needed in RPGs, the ability to embody the themes, characters, motivations, and weird tales of the Lovecraft circle (and other Mythos contributors) makes for a greater roleplaying experience. It delivers the goods.
Why should this be? Well, roleplaying is specifically geared towards immersion - simulating a familiar world and breathing life into it so that we can pretend that we are Detective Legrasse, Old Castro, or Randolph Carter... feeling our way through the dark, slimy caves of impenetrable nightmare - awaiting the tentacle's cold embrace.
I wish I could live (for a short while) inside a Cthulhu Mythos story. That's why I roleplay, so I can immerse myself in that world. And why I identify as za'akier.
Admittedly, some aspects might be too vague and/or subtle. I could have been more specific about NPC motivations and that first encounter could have tied into the dead god's tomb even more. However, I did that by design rather than sheer sloth.
My stuff being OSR, I assume most GMs will mix and match a wide variety of gaming books together. I do that, and I've read thousands of blog posts that corroborate my preference. Dead God Excavation on its own may seem a little too minimalistic, a degree too hollow... but what if you planned on combining it with The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence, Carcosa, Anomalous Subsurface Environment, D30 Sandbox Companion, and Expedition To The Barrier Peaks?
If that's the case, the GM needs a little room to operate. Detail things too much and it becomes harder to incorporate other books. The lack of specificity actually helps GMs marry concepts, bounce ideas off a variety of designers, and answer questions they'd never thought of. What are the business interests of that NPC? Crystal smuggling from the purple islands? Did he (or one of his ancestors) pilot that old wreck of a starship half-buried in the mountains a half-mile away? Is this tomb his chance to navigate the stars again?
I also disagree with the reviewer's opinion that the NPC temporarily leaving the Al Azif book in the PCs' hands is a bad or stupid thing. The PCs are helping him (one assumes). Can you imagine a benevolent character in a Doctor Who episode trusting the Doctor to take care of a rare and powerful device in his absence? Yeah, probably.
Sorry, I don't do gold piece value for 90% of the treasure provided. It varies wildly from system to system and campaign to campaign. However, if that kind of thing is something GMs are interested in knowing, I could create a random table. Seriously, let me know in a comment if that would be useful to you.
Generally speaking, non-combatant NPCs don't have stats in my books. If the PCs want to kill something that can't really defend itself and can't effectively harm any of the PCs, then it can be dispatched with a sword thrust. Simply roleplay it without rolling dice.
This is the way I GM and I'm sure a lot of GMs do things differently. But that's why most characters/creatures without combat ability are stat-less.
I again see the reviewer's point that the sorcerer NPC isn't detailed enough for many GMs. But then I don't know what the GM has planned for the rest of his campaign. Perhaps the sorcerer plans to lead the PCs to the Fungoid Gardens of the Bone Sorcerer... perhaps he is the bone sorcerer?
In conclusion, Dead God Excavation is your chance to collaborate with the author, Venger As'Nas Satanis. It's like we're working on your campaign together. I provide the premise, NPCs, location, complications, and ideas for continuing... you make the thing your own, inspired by my initial designs.
I can't blame those not wanting to pay for such an opportunity, but that's why Dead God Excavation is one of my least expensive titles. Currently priced on DTRPG at $2.50
In my mind, session zero means things should not be set in stone. On the contrary, they must be malleable so that possibilities may flow.
Also, I created an entirely new weapon / magic item from scratch! With pictures!!! You don't see that every day.
Personally, I prefer to see Gods crawling, makes them strange and fascinating, primordial rather than fashionable... and that's what old school gaming needs more of. Ah, well. To each their own.
p.s. But if you do prefer lots of detail and specificity, Cha'alt will have your back. It's going to be a huge campaign, and I plan on spending nearly a year writing the damned thing. Kickstarter launching just before Christmas. Here's my KS profile (I think you can follow me from there).
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
So, there was a lot of polarizing chatter about Star Trek Discovery. I heard some good things, and a lot of bad things. Not sure what to believe and wanting to make up my own mind, I ordered season one on DVD.
Speaking of which, it seems like it's fashionable to hate on neat stuff. There's this, The Predator movie which so many people say is a bad movie when it's actually fantastic, Solo: a Star Wars Story bombed in the theater - and that was a cool flick, and so on. Not sure if it's a sign of the times or something else...
TL;DR: I enjoyed it quite a bit. Some was great, the rest was pretty good. Would recommend this to casual scifi fans.
Diving deeper and attempting to make this spoiler-free - but still stream of consciousness random - I liked the strange way the series started. It was unusual, but easy to understand.
The pacing was excellent. I never felt bored, like I was wading through a "filler episode" in order to get to the next good part of the story.
The acting was top-notch. They really had some great people. That girl from the walking dead, the older dude from Event Horizon, the awkward redhead, and the really tall alien. Great job!
The special effects unobtrusive, realistic, and visually fantastic! The klingons were really cool looking, in my opinion. I know they don't look like the old school klingons (but wasn't that kind of racist by today's standards?), but now they're like... space orcs, a la Tolkien. Really big and alien and mean!
The story - compelling with a variety of twists. Some were expected, others surprising! Discovery turned some predictable Star Trek staples into fascinating story opportunities.
I also enjoyed the lighter bits, unexpected humor. It didn't always work. Stamets, you're just not funny. Sorry, dude. But overall, the brief glimmer of comedy was welcome. Actually, The Orville isn't that much more of a comedy show than Discovery. The Orville probably only had 3 or 4 more jokes per episode than this series.
In fact, my biggest gripe is that they didn't show off-ship / non-space environments until the last episode (except that planet with all the trees and swirling fairy dust). Guess what? Qo'noS totally reminded me of Alpha Blue - it was low-down, sleazy, and a darkly lived-in locale... which is my favorite type of scifi.
Before I go, I'd be remiss not to mention politics. Honestly, I saw the cultural and political reflection in the show's writing, but it didn't bother me. Those might have been initial inspirations for characters, cultures, and regimes, but at the end of the day, there's only a vague resemblance to what we're going through now.
Yeah, mine might be a minority report, but I'm happy to say that I loved Star Trek Discovery... and in the end, that's the only opinion that matters. Hmm... perhaps I'm from the mirror universe?
p.s. This little Alpha Blue article over at Draconic Magazine contains at least one little spoiler, but your going to want to use this in your next one-shot or campaign.
Monday, December 3, 2018
So, I just heard about this story on Geek Native.
Books of She Bleeds for Lamentations of the Flame Princess destroyed at the warehouse because it disgusted and offended one or more people who didn't even bother to read it!
To paraphrase the teacher from that Twisted Sister video, why would anyone destroy a defenseless sourcebook? If you don't like it, don't buy it. It's just that simple.
THIS is what the free-speech advocates, the Jordan Peterson fans, the anti-SJWs, the normal folks, and OSR Shit-lord RPG Pundit have been warning us about for years now. Cultural and political upheaval is manifesting war, and it's high time the average gamer got his hands dirty!
These people are mentally ill, trying to stifle creative freedom in order to preserve their conformity... or perhaps their own miserable and fragile sense of self?
I hope the individuals responsible get fired, author Elizabeth Chaipraditkul (that name just begs for an apostrophe or two) gets an apology, and LotFP gets reimbursed for the damages. You can get the PDF here.
I can easily imagine this shit happening to Alpha Blue, so we all need to keep our guard up and call bullshit out when we see it!
p.s. Does this post make me a feminist? Yeah, it probably does. So be it!
Saturday, December 1, 2018
I'm in full-Dad mode, but the twins are sleeping and my other dozen and a half children are having their swimming lessons and whatnot. So, here's a peek at what's inside The Last Alpha Blue Supplement...
You can only get this little baby on Amazon.com!
p.s. Here's some bonus content just in case you're one of those spacers who likes free stuff.