Sunday, August 29, 2021

Crimson Escalation Kickstarter


The future of combat is now!

You've heard me talk about it for a few weeks now.  And if you've been in one of my virtual games on Roll20, you've seen it in action...

Crimson Escalation is, in my opinion, the greatest innovation to D&D (and every game similar) since Advantage/Disadvantage.  I believe it will revolutionize combat!  

Find out about this mechanic in the Kickstarter's description.

Only a $1 pledge, 21 days left to back, already 222% funded, $1k stretch goal that you won't believe.  Give it a try!

Thanks for your continued support,


p.s. I'm open to interviews (Rob Couture, who came up with the original idea, might be, as well).  Email me at

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Sexy Cremza'amirikza'am Play Report


Whoo-boy!  This session was a doozy.

Trigger warning - awesomeness ahead!!!

Each time I run these short demo playtests involving the new megadungeon I'm currently writing, the place gets more and more fleshed out.

Because it's likely that PCs will go in and out (this play report will keep getting dirtier, BTW), I wanted an alternative first encounter.

Channeling my favorite 1977 movie that isn't Star Wars, the PCs encountered the beautiful Vanessa along with her loyal banana-men servants.  She showed the adventurers a scroll that contained a will - basically, the deed to Legs, Thighs, and Breasts... a combo whorehouse and chicken shack.  I already have plans to develop a 2nd whore and chicken retailer called Finger Licking Good strategically placed on the other side of that level.  Kind of like A Fistful of Dollars... but with fried chicken and prostitutes.

I decided to add-in the hyper-sexualization of From Beyond in the areas of Cremza'amirikza'am saturated with that trippy magenta-violet illumination.  The longer they're within that field of energy, the hornier they'll get.  Still working out the mechanical details.

Shortly after, the barbarian Grimm Da'ark shoved his face into an extra-large feathery blueberry, failed his save, and swelled up like Violet from the original Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

The big fight of the session came soon after their introduction to Vanessa - a massive crystalline octahedron with tentacles attacked the party.

It was a fun battle that lasted all of three rounds.  The first round, the human fighter Worm cautiously approached, and was unceremoniously smacked down by a crystal tentacle.  The others attacked in kind.  Grimm Da'ark rolled a natural 20, but everyone else missed.

The creature focused its tentacle on the barbarian.  Matthew, playing Grimm Da'ark, suggested that maybe the tentacle would squeeze the blueberry juice out of him.  I took that suggestion and ran with it.  5 points of damage as it juiced the barbarian.

Since the next round Ezio the thief rolled a natural 1 on his attack roll, I blamed his dagger slipping out of his hand on all the blueberry juice flying around.  Meanwhile, the sorcerer Archimedes grabbed one of the giant blueberries and threw it at the creature.  It burst after a successful hit, but I rolled a 19 on the creature's saving throw, so it merely stained the thing a disquieting shade of indigo.

I don't think I mentioned it in any previous play reports, but Matthew opted to give up his automatic Divine Favor each session in exchange for a magical sword... moon-blade.  You'll see why that's important in a minute.

The creature hit the thief and nearly did max damage.  Ouch!  The sorcerer cast the Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 equivalent of magic missile, doing almost max damage himself.  Just for a little descriptive flourish, I announce that cracks appeared in the creature's crystal structure.  

Immediately, the barbarian says at the next available chance he's driving his moon-blade into a crack.  Since it's the 3rd round, Grimm Da'ark's natural 19 became another crit [Crimson Escalation keeps paying dividends] - the blast of ultratelluric energy shatters it into a thousand tiny shards on the cavern floor.

The guy playing Worm asks if they're all getting an ultratelluric tan from the blast.  I roll my customary d6, as there's now a 2 in 6 chance of that occurring.  As luck would have it, the result is a 2.  In fact, yes, everyone with exposed skin now has a pale green, pink, and blue ultratelluric tan.

And just because Matthew has been a great player and there's been precious few items of treasure - especially juicy magic items - over the last few sessions (through no fault of his own, I keep playtesting the first part of the megadungeon that's barren in that regard), I decided that his moon-blade would get something special from that ultratelluric blast, as well.

His magical sword is now encrusted with a layer of prismatic crystallization.  I didn't give him specifics, so allow me to do that now!  

It gives his sword an extra +1, and once per day it can burst into an array of dazzling colors that will transfix a single humanoid opponent (who's able to see it) for one round [save to avoid].  So, basically, the victim won't be able to attack on his next turn and those attacking him will get Advantage on their attacks until he recovers.

And the names... oh, the names that we came up with for his new sword.  I'll list them below, and please let us know your favorite!

  • Starblade
  • Gay Blade
  • Queer-Blade
  • Ga'ay-Blade
  • Purple Piercer
  • Prismatic Piercer
  • Crysta'ar (the gay blade)
  • Violet Violator 
  • Solaris

One of the players had to go to work, so we were down to just three players and about 25 minutes remaining.

The remaining PCs kept exploring the system of caves and found dozens of dead wasp-men along with traces of orange powder.  Then Ta'arna showed up via magic portal.  

The PCs followed her as she looked for someone to revenge upon.  She got her wish.  Some cultists got fucked-up before running away, and the adventurers discovered that magenta-violet illumination on this level of Cremza'amirikza'am makes humanoids exceedingly horny.  

Vanessa had been teasing her chaperones continually, until Da'ark had had enough and made advances.  Vanessa succumbed to the barbarian's desires with the help of those lurid colors saturating the cavern.

The sorcerer summoned popcorn to eat as he watched while Ta'arna stood guard.  And that's where the session ended.  

Each playtest, Cremza'amirikza'am seems to get better.  Next, I'll be testing out level 2... not sure when.  Follow me on Twitter @VengerSatanis and join the Conservative OSR & RPG facebook group if you want to know when I'm running Cha'alt next.


p.s. I'm a day behind with everything due to sick kids at home.  So, give me until tomorrow to go through the 3-sentence openers you submitted.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Cremza'amirikza'am Play Report


I was able to squeeze-in another quick playtest session over this past weekend.

It was all returning players (including Prince of Nothing).  Obviously, my old-school and rules-light version of 5th edition D&D isn't to everyone's liking.  Same thing with the text-only.  However, the people that do like it, really like it... so that keeps me going.

The Cremza'amirikza'am megadungeon isn't a cakewalk, so all 4 players started with 2nd level characters.

I'm at the point where I pretty much know everything that's going on in level one.  But running it helps solidify things, new things jump out at me (just writing this blog post, I've got a half-dozen new ideas), and I can feel where it needs more - additional worldbuilding, encounters, loot, interesting decision-points, etc.

For the first 50 minutes, exploration and social interaction were the only pillars utilized.  Between the NPC who really wanted to acquire cheese in order to trade it for the fuchsia malaise drug and Monsieur Froma'aj (dare I base him on Pizza the Hutt from Spaceballs?) who had a lock on level one trade, the PCs barely had time to investigate that otherworldly magenta-violet light (maybe I should create a new weird spell effect table for the first three levels of the megadungeon?) or the giant feathery blueberries.   

It wasn't until the end of our 75-minute session that we got some combat - the PCs got in the middle of a firefight between security droids and devil-worshiping monks.  An interesting aspect of the fight was that the PCs didn't get involved until the 2nd round.

I could have gone either way with Crimson Escalation.  Start the crit range with 20 at round one as the PCs entered the fray or begin their participation with round two so crits range from 19-20 right off the bat.  I decided on the latter.  After all, the battle began when the battle began and this would be the one and only combat of the session.

Prince of Nothing was playing a stealthy lock-picking droid named 13F.  As usual, he rolled abysmally when finally getting to attack from his hiding spot.  I let him use his Divine Favor to re-roll both his Advantage D20s.  And I'm glad that was my ruling because his first three rolls were a 6, 4, and 5.  His fourth and last attack roll was a 17, allowing him to utilize his sneak attack damage to utterly destroy one of the droid guards (the rest of the PCs were attacking the monks).

The monks had blasters.  Thankfully for the PCs, I rolled crappy for damage (an 8 and 5).  Matthew's character Grimm Da'ark the Savage rolled a natural 20 for a crit.

The other two PCs, Borguul the fighter and Murderbell (love that name!) the pixie-fairy fighter, held their own, getting some decent shots in. 

Even though we got to the 4th round where 16 and above crits, the only other crit rolled was another natural 20, proving that even if no mechanical benefit is awarded, combat becomes more thrilling with Crimson Escalation because of the element of surprise and possible danger that goes with ever-increasing critical-hit ranges.

Just as the opposition were decimated, my parents arrived at the house for lunch.  So, I had to stop the game a minute or two short.

So, for their benefit and yours, here's the treasure they looted from the bodies...

  • $1,600 in Monopoly money
  • 5 blasters
  • Security droid spare parts
  • 174 talons
  • 32 gold pieces
  • 6 vials of zoth
  • Crystal hologram of Adam Koebel inducing a non-consensual robot orgasm in some livestreamed Alpha Blue game.

Not a bad haul, if I say so myself.  ;)

It was a fun game!  I hope to continue playtesting Cremza'amirikza'am over the next few weeks.  If you want to know when I'll be running another one-shot on Roll20, follow me on Twitter and/or the Conservative OSR & RPG facebook group.  

I'll be Kickstarting book 3 of the Cha'alt trilogy sometime in October, so strap something on for that awesomeness!


p.s. The 3-sentence opener contest has only three more days to go.  Please, consider submitting yours.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Cha'alt After Dark


Another adults-only title from Venger Satanis, but instead of sleazy sci-fi Alpha Blue... it's basically D&D in the campaign setting of Cha'alt - eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalypse.  

52 full-color pages of GM advice, optional (sex) rules, random tables, artwork, and adventures!  

The included adventures are "Manifestation", So Beautiful, So Dangerous", "Girl With The Tentacle Tattoo", and "Cha'alt After Dark".  

Thanks for checking it out, right over here. Hope you love it!


p.s.  I still have luxurious hardcover books for sale - both Cha'alt and Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise.  Ordering details here!  I'm also organizing my own old-school, OSR, and traditional RPG convention.  Attend July 2022's VENGER CON. It will change your life.

Friday, August 13, 2021

3-Sentence Opener Contest


I'm running a tasty little contest from now until midnight of H.P. Lovecraft's birthday, August 20th.  That gives you seven days!

Ok, how do you play / win?  First, let me dribble unto thee with some unsolicited Game Mastering advice.

You don't need much to start off an RPG session.  In fact, you shouldn't have much at all.  

What you should have is a tight three-sentence opener that 1) grabs the players attention, 2) motivates the characters to get off their asses to do something, and 3) involves some kind of worldbuilding, genre emphasis, and/or foreshadowing of what's about to happen.

No easy task!

In my opinion, every GM worth his essential salts should have a few of these in his back-pocket... just in case the opportunity should arise yet inspiration falls short.


Comment below with one or more of your own openers (feel free to post as many as you want).  They have to be exactly three sentences, and you should be mindful of the above criteria.

Your opener does NOT have to be setting or world specific, so don't feel like you have to make yours fit Cha'alt.  However, I AM partial to the eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, and post-apocalypse...

I'm the only judge (but feel free to comment with your own hot-take), and the contest closes at midnight on August 20th.


First Prize will receive both gorgeous Cha'alt and Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise hardcovers [USA residents don't have to pay shipping.  Canadian residents must pay $30; other international residents must pay $45... or they can choose to take the 2nd place prize, instead.]

Second Prize will receive every Cha'alt PDF.

Third Prize will receive any one Kort'thalis Publishing PDF of their choosing.


I may compile the submitted entries into a FREE PDF sometime down the road.  Your submission grants me the right to include it, but you can also freely use your submission yourself at any point in the future.  Credit will be given if accompanied with the author's name or pseudonym.  


Good luck and thanks for playing!


p.s. Yes, I'm still selling the aforementioned luxury hardcovers.  Ordering details can be found here.  If you haven't secured your ticket to next July's VENGER CON, do it now!

Monday, August 9, 2021

Back To The Megadungeon


I'm currently playtesting a brand-new megadungeon in the works, that will be the main feature of book 3 in the Cha'alt trilogy.  

The megadungeon is called Cremza'amirikza'am, of course.

The Lost City is a ruin on the surface of the planet.  Below the eroded city walls and crumbling buildings is the entrance.  

After attacking several small, robed humanoids and driving them down into Cremza'amirikza'am, the PCs went in after them.  The staircase went on for what seemed like hours, descending down into the bowels of Cha'alt.

Meeting an ooze along the way, the PCs eventually came to the first floor of the dungeon, an octagonal chamber with a door ajar.  A magenta-violet light saturated the atmosphere and little aquatic insects and jellyfish looking creatures swam through the lurid illumination.

The second battle of the session was with a trio of monks wearing vials around their neck - the vials contained a glowing yellow-green liquid.

In both battles, the PCs came out victorious.  Neither battle lasted more than 3 rounds.  Even though it waited patiently in the wings, Crimson Escalation did not come into play.  Another playtest thumbs-up, in my opinion.  When creating a fresh mechanic or sub-system, you don't want it constantly making demands.  Occasionally, such things should remain in the background.

As mentioned in my latest video, I'm channeling Buffy the Vampire Slayer, From Beyond, and Event Horizon... along with all my other influences and pop-culture references.  Cha'alt is still a gonzo parody, after all.

A couple interesting tidbits of note...

  • There was a surprise round where a PC shot an arrow at the diminutive humanoids.  I counted that as round zero for purposes of Crimson Escalation.
  • A pixie-fairy sorceress cast sleep on the monks after a couple rounds of combat.  Since casting that spell brought her down to zero and made her unconscious, I decided to give the monks a saving throw.  Only one made it, and he quickly fled out of the octagonal chamber.
  • After the first (surprise round) arrow, the humanoids took cover, giving the shooter Disadvantage, unless circumstances changed.  I think that's a good way of doing it, so just wanted to share.
  • One of the PCs ate/drank a bit of the periwinkle slime they encountered on the infinite stairway.  I asked for a saving throw, and he did really well, though didn't quite make his 1st level's 19+ threshold.  So, I told him he got lucky, that several periwinkle splotches appeared on his body and face - much better than becoming a slime oneself.
  • The monks of Cremza'amirikza'am told the PCs that the megadungeon was an entrance to another world.  When one of the PCs asked "What world is that?"  I immediately replied "Hell".  That's just an example of spontaneous remarks becoming worldbuilding concrete.  Yep, that's set in stone.

Another playtest session tomorrow.  Wonder what'll happen?


p.s.  I've still got luxurious hardcover Cha'alt and Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise books for sale right here.  And I'm also running an old-school, OSR, and traditional RPG convention next July in Madison, WI.  It's called VENGER CON

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Immersion Revelation


Where to start with my very recent (as of this morning) revelation?

Ok, so apparently there are two distinct types of immersion...

The old-school immersion uses the player-character as an alter-ego to experience the game world as yourself, but with a sword, blaster, spells, etc.  Let's call this "me with an axe" immersion.

The new-school or modern immersion uses the player-character as a role, totally separate from oneself, that one can inhabit like an actor.  Let's call it "me as someone else".

That's why, when I'm talking about immersion and how old-school systems and play-styles facilitate immersion better than modern D&D (3rd and 4th editions specifically), lots of gamers get bent out of shape.  To them, immersion means something completely different.

For modern D&D gamers, immersion is fostered by giving you a character in which to lose yourself - heavy background, lots of lore, character options, and death is (and should be) rare.  According to them, old-school D&D is not ideal because it creates the other kind of immersion.

Both immersions are a type of escapism, self-discovery, and fun... but they go about it in entirely different ways.

If you want to watch my video about all this immersion stuff it's right over here - please like, comment, share, and subscribe!



p.s. This is how you order your very own luxury hardcover Cha'alt and Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise books. That link takes you to VENGER CON, my old-school RPG convention next July in Madison, WI. 

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Crimson Escalation


The full title of this blog post should be Crimson Escalation while playtesting the Cremza'amirikza'am megadungeon, but I think that might break the internet.

Speaking of internet breakage, I didn't want to overpromise on this little mechanic until I had properly playtested it.  

Even though I've only tested it once, I believe this could be the single greatest combat-related system improvement since 5e came out with Advantage and Disadvantage.

I'm calling it Crimson Escalation.  In the simplest terms, it's a progressive critical-hit range.  The first round, crits happen on a natural 20.  The second round, crits happen on a natural 19 or 20.  Third round, it's a natural 18-20, etc.

Some optional fiddly-bits could be added, but that's the basic premise.  As I theorized, here are the results...

  • Combat was shorter - without it, combat would have dragged on longer.  More misses and lower damage leads to longer combats.  Boring!
  • Combat was more brutal - I think we can all agree, watching someone whittle away at the trunk of a tree is less satisfying than seeing it chopped in twain with a battle-axe. 
  • Combat was more tense - as combat continued, the stakes grew higher because every round it became easier to hit with a higher probability of greater damage.

I assumed that last one (heightened tension) might be the case, but as mentioned, I didn't want to promise it before seeing for myself.

When I was asking for feedback on social media, a couple people wondered if PCs would delay their action in order to attack later in the battle, which didn't make any sense to me then and still doesn't now.  

Another point was raised about reinforcements - if a couple fresh goons rush into the battle halfway, how do you account for that, regarding crits?  Personally, I'm not going to track multiple crit ranges during combat, so everyone's at the same range.

As soon as the Cha'alt After Dark PDF is released, I'm asking my layout team to include Crimson Escalation in Crimson Dragon Slayer D20.  I'm not going to wait for next year's revision - it's that good.

I'm not going to go into detail about delving into the Cremza'amirikza'am megadungeon below The Lost City, but I'm going for a mix of Stuart Gordon's From Beyond and my Metebelis III interpretation of Lovecraft's dreamlands.  It's still very much a work-in-progress.

However, the session culminated in an epic battle between a local warlord death-priest and his guards versus the two 3rd level PCs (both fighters).  It lasted 5 rounds, which is kind of the max for a routine (but still thrilling) combat, according to my sensibilities.  As you'd expect, there were multiple crits.  It was an exciting battle as we anticipated the outcome - the longer combat lasted, chances increased that it would get exponentially bloody!

By the way, the two PCs won the battle.  They were both injured, but survived thanks to being 3rd level.

A short combat is usually a round or two (usually over in 10 minutes).  Medium combat is somewhere between three and five rounds (somewhere around 15-25 minutes).  Anything more than five rounds is long (at least a half-hour) and considered too much, unless it's some kind of major boss battle.  

A primary reason I enjoy old-school D&D is shorter combats.  That leaves more time for adventuring... and even more battles each session!  Dear God, when I think back to my time running 4e and 60-90 minute combat [shuddering].  Never again.

Anyway, my mind blew-up (in a good way), and this is my life going forward - Crimson Escalation now and forever, hoss!


p.s. Want the deluxe Cha'alt and Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise hardcovers?  Boom!  Want to attend VENGER CON next July?  Shazam!