Sunday, May 30, 2021

Cha'alt After Dark [actual play]


Remember the first game?  It's here if you need a refresher.

So, last night was the second playtest.  I added a lot of backstory to the scenario which involved the PCs tracking down a lead to their missing friend.

For some reason, it never occurred to me that a group of bloodthirsty adventurers would just up and kill the principle antagonist and his entourage shortly after their introduction.  But to be fair, the entourage ran away.  I mean, the sexy slave girl was "freed" by multiple strapping young heroes and the henchmen sort of scattered after the initial blows knocked the boss elf to his knees.

Luckily, I gave the skeletal structure of this adventure enough realism (everyone has a reason for doing what they're doing) to ride the sand worm of chaos all the way to the end.

The game only lasted 90 minutes, which seems short, but we covered a lot of ground for a couple different reasons...

The very first being the "perfect" rule-set.  Guess what?  There is no perfect rule-set, just whatever works best for you.  I made Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 to suit my specific rules-light "arcade mode" needs.

Anything that wasn't necessary and/or didn't move the adventure forward, I either axed or handwaved.  For instance, if the reptilian humanoid Sq'sha'al wanted to eat the heart of a fallen opponent, I let it happen.  Of course, that doesn't mean I can't narrate the scene.  I'm pretty happy with the following quote I got off the chat, "You rip out his heart. It's still beating grossly red in your reptilian hand as the midday suns slowly descend in the fuchsia sky."

If the PCs want to fallback to avoid the swarm of angry demon wasps, they flee.  I present choices which eventually lead to different outcomes as the story unfolds, rather than relying on mere dice rolls to decide if PCs can do a thing.  Players don't want to be told they can't do something.  Instead, they'd rather see the options in front of them, knowing that if they choose the wrong one, it could lead to disastrous (or potentially awesome) consequences.

Aside from combat, there were precious few rolls made.  The droid CB-69 rolled to see if he had a can of RAID in his internal equipment.  He rolled poorly, so nope.  Earlier in the scenario, those allowed rolled to see if they could decipher an ancient glyph.  The rest was all roleplaying.  

GMs who struggle to come up with spontaneous answers, outcomes, and dialog should work on that.  Start by doing it a little bit in each scenario until, with practice, you get good enough to riff off the cuff.

For instance, I never planned on Grimm Da'ark the Savage asking the one-eyed prostitute her price list.  Without missing a beat, I typed the following... "5 talons for hand stuff, 10 for mouth stuff, 20 to go all the way, and 35 for the really weird shit."

The second technique I use for these types of games is this - when a consensus has been reached amongst the players, regarding the characters' next course of action, I don't sit there with my thumb up my ass waiting for the last straggler to say "Yes."  Nor do I pause the game in case someone changes their mind because they noticed a squirrel and got momentarily distracted.  If over 50% of the group says they want to go to the red-light district or the city gates or the well of souls, then they start walking.  Assuming they don't have an encounter on the way, the next thing I type is that they arrived and I start describing what the PCs perceive.

Anything else, I've found, holds up the game.  These shorter virtual games are no nonsense.  The GM has a mandate, and time/energy must not be wasted!

So, at the well of souls no one gets tentacle raped... but it was close, just a bad die roll away.  The adventurers got to explore that subterranean area a bit.  Their reactions gave me a better idea of how to improve the cavern they explored.  Which is one of the things a playtest should do (the other is find glaring holes in logic that break immersion).

My only regret is that the scenario wasn't dirtier.  I could have injected a little more sex and sleaze, like last session.  This session was more straightforward swords, sorcery, and blasters.  But I have ideas for adding little lascivious touches along the way.  ;)

The Kickstarter campaign for Cha'alt After Dark should (Cthulhu willing) launch June 10th.  It's pretty much all written.  I just need touch-ups, expand random tables, and suitable artwork.

Thanks to the 7 players on Roll20 who allowed this to session to happen!


p.s. I still have gorgeous hardcovers of both Cha'alt and Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise.  Order your book(s) today!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Cha'alt After Dark (part 2)

I'm running a 2nd playtest session for Cha'alt After Dark this Saturday night.

Should be just as awesome as the 1st session - read the play report.

Briefly, it's a mix of Alpha Blue sleazy aesthetics in the eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalypse world of Cha'alt.  Should go together like chocolate and peanut butter.  I'll be crowd-funding the adventure starting on June 10th.

In the meantime, if you want to play with us on Roll20, come join us!  First come, first served.  90-minute session, text only, 18+ due to sexual content, mature themes, and graphic violence.


p.s. If you're asking about the gorgeous Cha'alt and Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise hardcovers, I've still some left.  Ordering details here.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Getting Paid To Game


There are a few ways to make money playing RPGs...

  • Become a GM for hire, getting paid to run games for folks.
  • Create your own RPG content and find an audience for that.
  • If you're big enough, you can make money with a YouTube channel, Ko-fi, Patreon, affiliate links, or be one of those bloggers / podcasters that has advertisers, sponsors, etc.  

Here, I'm going to suggest another way to turn gaming into cash - run specific games for publishers and share those experiences with the gaming world.  

There are tons of people playing D&D online.  Yeah, it's the most popular RPG, but it's also been done to death - and it doesn't help those independent content creators struggling to get noticed.

I'm probably not alone in desiring a group to run Kort'thalis Publishing products (specific products mentioned below) with regular play reports that include photos, maybe even an entire video stream?  Personally, I'd rather read about a game than watch 3-4 hour sessions, but to each his own.

I will put my money where my mouth is and offer $100 for every individual who runs a year-long game of 2+ sessions per month, documenting each session with a satisfying chronicle of their group's experiences.  It might work for a player, instead of only GMs, but that player would have to rely on a GM to run the games, and I know how fragile gaming groups can be - especially when you're not calling the shots.

Now, I realize that in the grand scheme of things, $100 isn't a HUGE amount of money.  But consider free RPG products and extra promotion for yourself when those RPG companies (such as Kort'thalis Publishing) promotes your content.  Plus, you could run multiple games for one or more companies.  Depending on the companies, maybe you could get paid twice for mixing products together... who wouldn't love to read about a Cha'alt and Carcosa, Barbarians of Lemuria, or World of the Last Sun campaign?

Consider all of this and let me know if you'd be interested in participating.  At the moment, I'm most interested in either the eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic campaign setting of Cha'alt or my sleazy scifi RPG Alpha Blue.

Feel free to comment below with questions, comments, suggestions, or advice!


p.s. If you want the gorgeous Cha'alt and Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise hardcovers, ordering details here.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

The Human Heart Demands An Adventure


I was watching Ben Shapiro's Sunday Special last week.  He had Jordan Peterson on, and the discussion was both fascinating and enlightening.

For gamers especially, the call to adventure is recognizable.  We continually seek adventure through our characters, if not in everyday life.  The mythic struggle that's in all of us, yearning for expression!  It seldom gets talked about, except in games, art, and religion... but it's a vitally important aspect of the human condition.

As I've talked about multiple times, the reason for roleplaying at all is immersion - to feel as though you are there, on some level, taking part in what's happening.  To experience another world and everything that goes with it.  Like the movie Total Recall, you get to vacation from yourself.

There's more than that, of course.  After addressing the ridiculous comparison of Peterson to Red Skull, their discussion veers from psychology to politics to philosophy.  Blogger hides the video if you're on a mobile device, so I'll include a link to the YouTube video right over here.

 BTW, the title of this blog post is a direct quote from the video, around the 8:30 mark.

Please, feel free to post your thoughts below...


p.s. If you haven't joined us on Facebook yet, there's a relatively new place to hang out and discuss what's going on in gaming culture - Conservative OSR & RPG Group.  See you there!

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Cha'alt After Dark


Happy Mother's Day!

I'm not sure if it had always been in the back of my mind or some gamer suggested it, but Cha'alt + Alpha Blue eventually needed to happen.  Last night was the first one-shot...

What's the difference?  Well, I started with Cha'alt and just included more scifi and sleaze.  That's pretty much it.

I ran the game on Roll20 with 9 players.  Since I run these virtual one-shot sessions so rarely, I didn't want to turn anyone away.  It was a little hard to keep track of everyone, but that didn't deter me from GMing like a fucking boss.

Some notable characters were... Vrek, a chaotic vore wizard, an elven cleric named Muldraen who was the party prude (until he wasn't anymore), not wanting to spend much time in the desert oasis sex club... but I'm getting ahead of myself.  Who else? Gabbak Notha the demon cleric, Hanz Frazen the swole & shirtless human wizard.  Tan'ndoor Starblade, a moon-elf thief, and several reptilian PCs.

One player in particular renamed his reptoid Whitesnake to honor the memory of Tawny Kitaen.

I simply focused on what was happening and how the adventurers responded, letting everything else fall into the background.  The PCs talked amongst themselves, and I had to ignore most of that to keep all my balls in the air.  

The session started in a normal non-sleazy way.  Mysterious humanoids pulling strings, making the adventurers dance.  It all started with a game. This magic ring thrown down a well, and the PCs had to go fetch it.

I was expecting more in-fighting, but that was my fault.  Next time I run it, I need to incentivize betrayal.  No one turned on each other, sadly.  However, there was a decent combat encounter to get the blood flowing (though, not everyone participated).  The rest of the party had already climbed out of the well.  They missed the fight, but found out what was going on via drones circling the air.  The gold they were expected to get for surviving was being held at the desert destination sex club - Pervert's Paradise.

The majority of the session took place in the club.  I had a random table for what they encountered upon entering, a random table for what happened to each of them while they were hanging out, and then a third for the inevitable bar fight.

It's important to let PCs off the leash when it comes to sandbox social interaction scenes.  I want them to roleplay, to gravitate towards whatever kind of play experience they're interested in.  That's an important part of Alpha Blue, and any RPG, in my opinion.

For example, one player started gambling away, using a friendly drunk elf as the "table stakes".  Another asked the bartender if he could make a pan-galactic gargleblaster.  As everyone knows, my games are very pop-culture friendly.

By the time the bar fight happened, we were close to the end of our 2-hour session.  I had a variety of plot hooks in my notes, but it was too late in the night to make good use of that.  So, we simply roleplayed the after-effects of the bar fight.

The Federation broke up the fight and sent everyone home. A couple PCs sauntered into the Federation starship that was parked just outside Pervert's Paradise.  They stole the ship and flew it to Alpha Blue.

The rest went to an afterparty thrown by one of the hot bimbos from the club (possibly the woman asking if anyone wanted to take a pussy shot).  At the very beginning of the scenario, it took them 2 hours to walk from A'agrybah to the well.  At the end, it took them about 15 minutes to get back to her apartment via shuttle.

I almost forgot... one of the PCs, Muldraen, stayed behind, sneaking into an upstairs bedroom with 3 elf maidens while the Federation troopers weren't looking.  BTW, that was the one and only skill-check of the night.  

After getting with the girls, he asked if any of them were holding.  One elf-girl presented a handful of glowing purple crystals they could smoke.  And smoke them they did.  What were the effects?  While I did have both Cha'alt and Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise (as well as the Saving Cha'alt PDF) sitting right next to me for reference, an idea sprang to mind... an out-of-body experience that makes you feel like you're Nicholas Cage for a few hours.  Yes, that's the dream!

And, of course, the best part was reading all the enthusiastically supportive comments post-game.  Thanks, guys.

All in all, a very satisfying one-shot.  Yes, there will be more!  ;)


p.s. If you still want hardcovers of both Cha'alt and Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaiseordering details here.  Thank you for supporting independent RPG content creators like yours truly!