Friday, September 23, 2022

Delving Design

 

Months ago, years even, I was hesitantly perched upon a dozen different fences about what to do with Encounter Critical.  I'm Kickstarting the 3rd edition, if you didn't know!

Part of the problem was knowing that whatever direction I went, some people would be disappointed.  But the whole making an omelet thing reminds me that I've got to please myself at the end of the day... which is fitting, because I was (still am, to some degree) a huge fan of Encounter Critical after discovering it - with no small help from the imagination and blog of Jeff Rients.

At any rate, I'm trying to find a yin-yang sort of balance between traditional and what we now call "story-games".  The black (yin) has a little bit of white in it.  Basically, I'm trying to take "modern" and "innovative" RPG design and adapt it to OSR sensibilities.

I did make a video about fiction-first, Obsidian Escalation, and several other things.

The following is what's on the playtest menu for the moment.  Anything can change at any moment.  I don't expect it to, but I am expecting tweaks, fine-tuning, and possibly weird organic growth that I didn't realize was part of this project's evolutionary journey.

Without further ado, here we go...


One Page Cheat-Sheet

  •          Every PC must come up with a Background that’s broken-up into the following aspects: Look (appearance, aesthetics, vibe, etc.), Drive (motivation for adventuring, reason for being, core values), 2 Relationships (either members of the party or an NPC in the world), Flaw (downfall, vice, or something that keeps getting in your way), and 3 Obsessions (something you love, something you hate, and something that fascinates, perplexes, or strangely amuses you).
  •          A character gets 1 point of Divine Favor every time he indulges in or falls prey to his Flaw.
  •          When a character is confronted with one of his Obsessions, he’s easily distracted and/or manipulated… unless a successful saving throw is rolled.
  •          If running a one-shot, start the session with a Flashback scene from an earlier time in the PCs’ lives, when they first met or were all together… perhaps a montage (micro-scenes with a common theme unfolding in quick succession) of each PC discovering the startling revelation that “reality” is merely densely coiled layers of illusion.  Ahead of the scene, the players and GM should discuss where events happened (location), who’s there and why (relationships) and the general mood, conflict, and/or resolution they’d like to see.  The GM, who should have an inkling of what’s to come, might suggest a motif, object (McGuffin), or major/recurring NPC (villain, helpful contact, rival, comic-relief) for inclusion, in order to strengthen narrative ties between the Flashback and future events.  The players roleplay the social interaction until everyone is content that the scene should conclude.  A point of Divine Favor is awarded to every player who participated.
  •          If running a campaign, start each session with a Flashback scene from an earlier time in either one or two PCs’ lives (see above for details).  Players who don’t have their character present in the unfolding scene are encouraged to roleplay whatever NPCs might also be in the Flashback scene.
  •          Between encounters (and occasionally during) PCs are encouraged to roleplay.  PCs earn a point of Divine Favor when they demonstrate (talk about, think about, or act out) an aspect of their Background. No more than 1 point per scene.
  •          Obsidian Escalation during combat!
  •          Skill-Checks: Natural 1s the GM (or mischievous player, if preferred) narrates the failure.  Natural 20 means the player can describe his own success.
  •          Top result on a saving throw, skill-check, or damage die means the player can narrate his epically awesome deed with an additional embellishment that may provide a modest edge, asset, or godsend (with GM approval, of course).


This cheat-sheet is 1) based off changes or amendments to Crimson Dragon Slayer D20, and 2) written down in a sort of shorthand that's explained just enough so I know what's going on.  

If YOU would be interested in running your OSR ruleset with the above modifications, I'd love to hear your story.  Please share it with us.  Better yet, email me your feedback: Venger.Satanis@yahoo.com

After a few playtests of this stuff, I'm going to go back to the proverbial drawing-board with other fundamental concepts, such as magic.  I've been doing magic the same way for a few years, and want to try something radically different than my comfortable go-to system.

Feel free to comment, ask questions, throw tomatoes, or whatever.  ;)

VS

p.s. You can support me for $5 a month on SubscribeStar, and next July's Madison WI VENGER CON II is happening with or without you, so grab a ticket and play with us!


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Encounter Critical III

 

What's up?  I've got news...

I finally have a new Kickstarter campaign, and it's for Encounter Critical III.

Let's get down to brass tacks, hoss.  The original EC is great and all, but many find it virtually unplayable because of its OMG WTF?!? system (game mechanics).  I want to take my version of EC into a smooth, easy, and light OSR ruleset while making the things outside the system OMG, WTF?!?

The very first playtest was earlier today, and I think that went well.  It's going to take a lot more, and each time I hope to learn new things.

Obviously, I'm building on what came before... the original EC, Crimson Dragon Slayer D20, and Cha'alt.  The concept is there, now I just need to refine it and come up with awesome stuff to make it really fly.

I'll post more about the playtest session in a couple days.  For now, I'll just say thanks for supporting me, and feel free to ask questions or volunteer to playtest Encounter Critical III as we go into fall.  

VS


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Cha'altian Session Reports

 

I was able to squeeze two virtual sessions in this week.

Both were on Roll20 (I gave a couple other platforms a shot, but quickly got confused and abandoned my quest for an alternative), 90 minutes, text only, 18+ (even though we never got to explore anything sexual or erotic... hey, it happens!).

The 90 minute structure is something I'm extraordinarily familiar with.  A lot of people don't like it.  I receive a decent amount of criticism for running shorter sessions.  All I can say is that if you have 5 kids and a day job, then you know how difficult it is to carve out 4 hours on a weekly or even bi-weekly schedule.

Both sessions involved exploring a network of tunnels and caves.  Another similarity is that both sessions had two players by the end.  I accept random drop-ins, so that's to be expected.  People are flaky on the internet.

For those curious, I usually don't have anything specific in mind when constructing these maps.  I just start drawing.  Automatic drawing is a technique invented by Austin Osman Spare.  I've forgotten more than I remember about him, and don't think scribbling lines via my mouse counts as a magical act, but it is part of the greater whole.  And I do view my current roleplaying sessions as magic rituals.

As usual, I gazed upon the Kort'thalis meta-sigil as I prepared for my sessions.

Before I get into more detail, here's a list of guidelines that have appeared out of play...

  • If a player has not chosen a race for his character, I'm just going to assume he's human.
  • If a player suddenly disappears, the GM (me) will roleplay his character - assuming there's a small party of adventurers.  It's not fair to a pair of adventurers who go in a dangerous environment when they believed there were three of them.  If the party wouldn't miss a character, then I occasionally describe his gruesome death as that abandoned PC steps in a trap or fiddles with sorcerous runes discovered on a cave wall.
  • Engagement is crucial!  With noobs, I'm constantly inviting them to take part in the action, make decisions.  "While the thief is scouting up ahead, what is Ba'ab doing?" Stuff like that.
  • If players make leaps of logic, I'll usually let the first one or two go, but then will quickly put the kabosh on that stuff when it seems less likely and/or taking advantage.  For instance, Vindl, a thief cyborg wanted to use the phosphorescent fungi in the cave system for energy, and be able to turn his mechanical arm into a blaster.  So, I said sure.  But shortly after he wanted to construct a shield out of scales picked off a dead creature.  I told him it would take time and the proper tools.

Halfway through the second session, I took over the missing player's character, Ja'ay the demon warrior.  Every GM worth his essential salt knows that GM NPCs shouldn't overshadow the actual PCs.  So, I used Ja'ay as an interesting background character, spurring action like taking one tunnel over another when the PCs couldn't make a decision.  Precious minutes ticking away.

The second session was the first game after vocalizing my theory... the GM's paradigm should make its presence known every single encounter!  While I've been doing that, more or less, unconsciously for years, this session I consciously looked for opportunities to make the game's reality feel more eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, and post-apocalypse.  Did it change the session dramatically?  No, I don't think so.  But going back and observing the session a day later, I'd say consciously trying to infuse my chosen paradigm into every single encounter improved immersion and the game in general by about 5-10%.

Going back to the first session, the couple of PCs were too intimidated to fight the giant Lovecraftian spider things in their network of tunnels and caves.  You know me, I'm all about quick and easy minimal rules.  So, each PC incurred an attack of opportunity whenever they ran past the creature in order to evade it.  I think that worked well.  It happened a couple of times and each time one PC was wounded.

Oh yeah, I got to use my Eldritch Hit Location table over on my SubscribeStar page (publicly available). I think the players got a kick out of slashing or bashing large, scaly rodents in the umthra'ax.  I'll need to use it once or twice more before seeing the true value of something like that.

I don't want to ruin the endings of either adventure because I like running the same adventure (with small variations each time) with different players.  Both were fun, though!

As sometimes happens with my open and welcoming drop-in approach to running sessions, I popped someone's roleplaying game cherry.  That player had never played before, and somehow wound up at my virtual table.  Introducing people to the hobby is definitely a highlight of my weird journey.

Will probably run another session or two next week now that ALL KICKSTARTER CHA'ALT BOOKS HAVE BEEN MAILED OUT TO BACKERS!!!  Yes, I finally got to the end, and it feels fantastic.  Gonna make the most of my free time - it's all about playing, well mostly about playing.  I'd say at least 85%.  Writing and designing game mechanics and such is absolutely worthwhile, but creating a world through the act of roleplaying is something that's above and beyond the background construction.

Last night, I tweeted something out that seemed profound at the time when I was not totally baked.  I'd like to share it here.

"Creating tales of pulp sword-and-sorcery is all that is."

That's it.  That's the tweet.  Lol.  Focusing on that, while leaving all the peripheral bullshit fiddle-faddle outside, will restore your faith in this hobby.  And that's something I believe is in short supply.  

Being part of the magic, fashioning awesome stories of wizards, warriors, dungeons, and dragons will get you closer to PSYCHOCOSM than worrying about campaign lore, balanced encounters, extensive PC backgrounds, the unfairness of monsters critting, and "racist" flying squirrel-monkeys in space.

Lose yourself in the fantasy, and that becomes reality.  

VS

p.s. My new Kickstarter campaign for Encounter Critical III just got approved, so will launch that early next week (probably Tuesday).  

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Every Encounter Is An Opportunity

 

As the title states, every encounter is an opportunity.  But an opportunity for what?  A better game, of course.  And, as always, better means more immersive!

This blog post was going to be a session report, but now I'm just going to explain and expand on a video I uploaded yesterday... here.

It was just after my last Roll20 session that I realized I needed to continue upping my game.  From now on, EVERY SINGLE ENCOUNTER must push the Game Master's paradigm, drawn from the campaign setting and directly influenced by whatever words or phrases (I suggest three) he's chosen as the primary mood, tone, atmosphere, vibe, etc.

What do I mean by paradigm?  Well, I thought about using "agenda", instead.  But that's kind of a scary word for a variety of reasons.  For starters, it reminds me of those 00's Forge type games that broke everything down into gameist, narrativist, and simulationist categories.  Also, it seems too political these days.  I'm not trying to unfairly castigate and scapegoat 74 million Americans just because my administration is an authoritarian dumpster fire, I just want to create a more immersive game.

So, what do I mean by paradigm?  Basically, I'm talking about the worldview.  Think of it as a forced perspective... or the focus.  The GM's paradigm is a conscious pattern being woven throughout the entire session.  In the video, I may have streamed-out into the weeds, so let's discuss a concrete example.

There's a group of orcs... evil, pig-faced orcs just over that hill.  The PCs will undoubtedly run into them.  How's that encounter going to go?  Well, what do you want out of this session or the entire campaign?  

Back up a bit.  Describe your ideal (what you'd most like to run at the moment) game to GM in three words or phrases, keeping in mind the rule-set, players, campaign world, and your own abilities, preferences, etc.  Those three things shall be the watchwords, the battle-cries, the call to arms of your game.  Choose wisely. 

I know it seems like extra work (and it is), but if we're going to the trouble of drastically improving the entire roleplaying game experience, it's going to take a little forethought and planning.

Taking a few standard watchwords that I've seen floating around cyberspace, we get 1) Grim/dark, 2) Whimsical, and 3) Spooky... Halloween will be here before you know it.

Now, that we have those three things driving our paradigm, we can easily inject one or more (grim/dark, whimsical, and/or spooky) elements into the orc encounter... and EVERY encounter.  That's why, when picking out your watchwords, you should make them open-ended and inspirational enough to keep using over and over again.

So, if I was to whip-up something on the spot, I'd make those evil, pig-faced orcs carrying the hollowed-out heads of their latest victims.  Maybe a tight, leathery skin covers the scooped-out holes so the orcs can beat a particular rhythm like a drum on these gory severed heads.  I'd probably write that stuff on a notecard if I was doing GM prep as "Bongo Orcs".  

Wow, that satisfies grim/dark, whimsical, and spooky.  Well done, Venger!  Thank you, hoss. ;)

Creating a singular effect, as Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft wrote, by keeping specific watchwords in mind, is like infusing the game with whatever paradigm you're going for.  And that infusion should happen at the microscopic level of your gaming.  In other words, EVERY SINGLE ENCOUNTER.  

Now, in the above example, I seeded the encounter directly with my chosen paradigm.  An alternative might have described the orcs standing over a human body like a pincushion, with a dozen daggers, spears, and swords sticking out of him.  Or, at the end of the encounter, the PCs might have found gold coins pushed into cowpies.  If you can make a case for the encounter, in some small way, furthering your paradigm, then it's a success!

Having just committed to this theory, consciously, I haven't fully explored it yet.  As an RPG scientist, that's what I (we) should do.  Use it.  Test it.  See if it works.  If not, why not?  But if it does... then celebration ensues.  Pretend you're carrying me around on a tentacled throne or something cool like that.

Questions?  Yes, let's hear 'em.  Shoot!

VS

p.s. Want to buy some Cha'alt?  This handy price guide will help.  Like my blog posts, videos, vibe, freebies, and other stuff?  For only $5 a month, you can support what I'm doing on SubscribeStar!


Saturday, September 3, 2022

Cha'alt: Chartreuse Shadows

 

By now, you've probably heard about the third book of the Cha'alt trilogy - Chartreuse Shadows.

I'm only a couple days away from finishing my shipping duties.  By next Tuesday, all Kickstarter backer rewards should be out the door (pre-sales, as well).  Damn, that was a long time coming, but I'm so glad the end is in sight.

That means I'm officially opening the way for regular old sales.  Here's the price guide...

  • Cha'alt - $50 (add $40 for non-USA shipping)
  • Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise - $50 (add $40 for non-USA shipping)
  • Cha'alt: Chartreuse Shadows - $65 (add $40 for non-USA shipping)
  • The entire trilogy - $140 (add $60 for non-USA shipping)

All books are fancy, hardcover, first editions, signed, numbered, and personalized by me.  These gorgeous tomes will go up in value, just as Cha'alt will take over the world one day!

Below is a testimonial from a KS backer...

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from physical editions of your work. I’ve supported a lot of KS with physical printings, most of which were zine-styled stapled prints, but some were hardbacks and full-color and just felt cheap. I know there are lots of reasons dictating printing bla bla bla, but I was a little nervous of pledging for physical editions.

Dude, these are great. Thank you so much! Honestly, I didn’t get far into Chartreuse Shadows, but my group knows I have pulled from Fuchsia Malaise. I think there might be a tableflip when I show up with a hard copy 🤣


What is Cha'alt?  Glad you asked, hoss...  Cha'alt is my home campaign, my own little slice of heaven (or Hell, depends on your point of view), an eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalypse world where I come home to hang my Game Mastering hat.

Also, I'll be launching a new Kickstarter campaign towards the end of September... and it's for Encounter Critical III.  

What else?  I've got some new (publicly available, not behind the paywall) content over at SubscribeStar.  If you want to support me at $5 a month and get the occasional freebie along with first pick of the online games I run, I'd love to have your patronage.  

Don't forget about VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo.  Just a nice, intimate (50 - 75 attendee) convention for those who love old-school, OSR, and traditional RPGs in Madison, WI next July.  Join us!

VS

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Cha'alt Session Report

 

I'm taking a little break from things starting tomorrow.  Between off-line and online stuff, I need to decompress and relax for awhile.  Sorcerers need mental health days, too!

Before that, let's talk about my recent session of Cha'alt on Roll20.  First, I invited my awesome subscribers on SubscribeStar to join.  If you'd like to support me at $5 a month, that would be cool.  You get the occasional freebie, too.

Second, I blanketed the social media landscape with links to my game in search of players.  While I do have a small stable of devoted players who jump at the chance to play (when they're not busy), I enjoy reaching new players, teaching new blood...

The first session scheduled was canceled because of a work-related emergency.  The second was scheduled a day later.  I was mostly bummed because the original date was H.P. Lovecraft's birthday (August 20th), and I wanted to do something special, marking the occasion.

I was also upset that a few people didn't see my cancelation announcement and were waiting for me.  Luckily, I thought, a couple of those folks re-joined for the raincheck session.  However, what I discovered might literally blow your mind!

Lol.  Anyway, those same people weren't there to play.  One guy was posting links to some OTHER game being held on guilded for some fucked up reason (I was even 5 minutes early).  And the same guy poaching my players wanted to play in my game, too, but as a "NSFW frat-boy".  All this was sounding eerily familiar as another legit player told me that he also remembered that dude and wanted to have gay sex with another PC that was supposed to be his brother, and also some kind of dog fetish or some crazy shit like that.

So, down to only two legit players, I booted that troublemaker and we proceeded as usual.  I cued up some dark ambient music on YouTube, gazed upon the Kort'thalis meta-sigil that's a portal to Cha'alt, in order to actively engage the PSYCHOCOSM, and we were off!

We started with giant scorpions surrounding an elf who'd already been stung multiple times and was about to die.  He was holding a silver key, bequeathing it to the PCs before collapsing.  Both PCs got stung by a scorpion as each flubbed his roll to grab the silver key without harm.

Eventually, the golden gates of A'agrybah opened.  Sausage, a halfling thief who got his name by beating a man to death with bratwurst, and Fujiwara, an overly-trusting human warrior entered the city in search of adventure.

A festival was taking place, so the PCs made a bee-line to the center of it, talking to folks, looking around, and picking pockets as they went.  Fujiwara gorged himself on BBQ centipede and mango-curry bug bars as Sausage looked for a priest to heal him from that scorpion sting.

I can't reveal too much, but the city's priests and reclusive astrologers got into a brawl that soon turned into a riot.  Tentacles every which way as far as the eye could see!

If you want the whole story, you'll have to actually play.  In a fortnight, when I get all these Kickstarter reward books out to backers, I'll resume weekly, 90-minute, virtual, Cha'alt sessions on Roll20.  Only an hour and a half?  I know, I know, my life rarely allows 4-hour games.  Think of it as a tightly-paced movie!

See you in a bit,

VS

p.s. When I return to the internet, I hope to discover a few Cha'alt: Chartreuse Shadows reviews!  You've had the PDFs for months and some of you already have the hardcover.  Now's the time, hoss.  


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Game Hole Con 2022

 

I'll be running games at Game Hole Con this October!

Their covid policy is more lenient this time around - especially compared to Gary Con [info here].  That reason, the location, and focus on old-school tabletop RPGs are what drew me back.  

Last year was fun, but the masks were not ideal.  My blog posts about last year's GHC can be found here.

The 4 Cha'alt sessions I submitted were just approved.  I decided to do all Cha'alt for a couple different reasons.  First, it's just easier for me to run.  It's what I've been focusing on for the last 4 years, and it's open-ended enough to allow pretty much anything.  I can incorporate everything from snake-men sorcerers to dimension-hopping Rick and Morty to tentacled Kool-Aid man.  

I can literally start the game anywhere in the eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic campaign setting, roll on a few tables, drop in a weird dungeon, monster, or plot-hook, and keep the game going based on PC action (or inaction).

Cha'alt, in conjunction with any rules-light OSR system, such as Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 (still free, still awesome) is perfect for noobs, conventions, one-shots, and games on the go.

If you want to play in one of my GHC games, I've got one on Friday, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday.  Hope you can make it, hoss!

Yes, I'll have a few books of the Cha'alt trilogy at the convention.  So, if you want to buy one, or just chat, feel free to say, "Hey, Venger!"

VS

p.s. About 5 more weeks before I launch the new Encounter Critical III Kickstarter campaign.  In the meantime, you can support me on SubscribeStar.


Saturday, August 13, 2022

Why VENGER CON is better than GenCon

 

I made a video about it, but here's the entire exchange if you'd prefer to read it yourself... 


Hello,

Woke is a compliment not a disparagement. Since I am type 2 diabetic, I can only attend conventions that wear masks and people get vaccinations.


Wow, a lot to unpack here! Where to begin?

Assuming this isn't a joke/troll, here goes...

1) Woke has a whole range of meaning besides mask + vax. It's radical-leftism and the political weaponization of consideration for others. For me, woke is a disparagement because I'm against cultural fads that have appeared in the last 5 minutes of human civilization (men and women being interchangeable), rather than objective facts that have been proven true over thousands of years.

2) The CDC's latest guidelines, and the country's own anecdotal analysis, has determined that both masks and vaccinations are more or less ineffective when it comes to covid-19.

3) With type 2 diabetes, your best defense is going to be diet and exercise. One way or another, you're going to get covid. I'd be very much surprised if you haven't had it already. And if you have, then chances are good (99.8%) that you won't need to be hospitalized or die from it.

4) The first VENGER CON from a couple weeks ago had an outbreak/spread of zero covid (and monkeypox), unlike GENCON. Yes, I know GENCON has several orders of magnitude greater attendance than my little convention, but it goes to show that 27 people in close proximity for an entire weekend without masks and questionable vaccination/booster status posed LESS risk of getting or spreading covid than a convention that pride's itself on masks, vaccinations, boosters, etc.

5) Besides standing out like a sore thumb, diminished vocalizations, and not being able to emote with your face, you can wear a mask at VENGER CON. I'm not going to rip the mask off your face. You can also vaccinate and booster yourself up the wazzo, but I'm not going to be the vax, booster, mask police for those who aren't interested.

Have a good weekend,

VS

_______________

p.s. The fact that Dragon's Foot forum locked the VENGER CON II thread because it "leans into politics" is both hilarious and pathetically distressing for those who love old-school, OSR, and traditional RPGs.  Your hobby is being stripped of its awesomeness right before your eyes, hoss.  Wake up!


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Gary Con vs VENGER CON

 

Well, it's a good thing there's VENGER CON because Gary Con isn't working out... at least for me.

As you might have seen on Gary Con's website or Tenkar's video, Gary Con requires whatever the CDC "recommends" as "up to date" on your subscription model covid-19 vaccine series of boosters.  

For now, that means the original vaccine and 2 booster shots.  That's today.  Gary Con is in March of next year.  I have no doubt, that's going to jump to at least 3 booster shots by then.

Obviously, you can do what you want.  Your body, your choice (luckily, there's no pesky human baby getting murdered).  I'm not going to take the chance after seeing stuff like this or this.

VENGER CON doesn't care what your vaxx/booster status is, and won't ever make you wear a mask.

I missed Gary Con last year because of their mask mandate.  And I was told by a number of people that I should have gone because it wasn't strictly enforced.  Well, I'm not going to take that chance... plus, there's the principle of the thing.  

So, Gary Con is out for me... again.  But thankfully, VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo will happen again next July in Madison, WI.  Check it out!

I have one of Kort'thalis Publishing's house-artists working on updated banners.  That should be done by the end of next week.  The current one has a cool design (that will influence the final version) but yeah...

So, I'm again capping the convention at 100.  26 attendees last VENGER CON was great.  If I can double that number, I'll be happy.  But reaching 90 or so would be great, as well, and then maybe I can fly Pundit out to game with us!

That's it for now... if you have questions or comments, go right ahead.

Also, Noble Knight Games is selling my books for jacked-up prices.  I made a video about it.  If you want one or more Cha'alt books, I sell them direct.  Email me for questions, prices, and ordering details: Venger.Satanis@yahoo.com

VS


Monday, July 25, 2022

VENGER CON Success

 

Wow, that was something!

I didn't realize what an undertaking this would be, but I'm glad I did it.  According to me, and many of the attendees I talked to (including Lord Matteus), VENGER CON was a big success.  Hey, that's what it's all about, making people happy, giving them a great experience, and ensuring they didn't waste their money.

I reached a new personal record - on Friday I GMed for 10 hours (not continually, I also ate and went to the restroom).  Previously, my record was about 6 (hmm... maybe 7).  On Saturday I ran for about 6 hours, and 4 hours on Sunday.  The rest of the time, I was hanging out with gamers, taking pictures, preparing for my own sessions, running errands, and fine dining at Popeye's and Chili's.

It was such a small convention, about 27 [no one from my family, Kiwi Farms] that we really got to know each other better.  With bigger cons, you meet people, enjoy their company, and then don't see them again.  

Gamers hailed from San Francisco California, Rochester New York, Toledo Ohio, and somewhere in Canada.  Only a handful from WI... a prophet is seldom heeded in his own land.

Session report(s)...

I decided to run Cha'alt exclusively all weekend.  My familiarity and enjoyment of the eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic campaign setting allowed me to run and keep running throughout VENGER CON.  Additionally, it was easy to accept drop-in players who were looking for action after their last game ended.

It's not easy starting with 2 or 3 players and then accommodating as many as 10 a couple hours in, but with Cha'alt, I knew I could do it.  It helped having hardcovers of the new Chartreuse Shadows book.  Two pallets of books arrived a couple days prior to the con.  Flip-through video here!

Both finer details and big-picture lore were created during those sessions.  From Dewba'ak-Raptors to gargantuan A'atuin sand-turtles to female dwarves who prefer beards made of glass beads, rather than hair.

The biggest question of all... was PSYCHOCOSM achieved?  That point where you can't tell where the game's reality begins and the real world ends?  Definitely.  Like REM sleep, you can't just snap your fingers and get right into it.  Such deep immersion must be earned.

For now, I'll just record some of my favorite words and phrases from my sessions.  Enjoy!

  • "Don't fuck (with) anything that can kill you with one swing."
  • "Wage-slaves for the Elder Gods."
  • "Tentacle tuna taco."
  • "You're ankle deep in gold!"
  • "The director realized there needed to be more fuchsia in the shot... sudden hot-pink headband."
  • "Like Sharon Stone crossing her legs in a golden thong."
  • "Put that into your mind-bong and smoke it!"
  • "The priest opens a small portal and chartreuse tentacles come out to lay on hands."
  • "Zoth-lite... Elder God ichor you can safely drink."
  • "The tentacled gloves are coming off, hoss!"
  • "Next convention should be called VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo."

I'd like to thank VENGER CON's principle sponsor, Tom K. Wankum.  Check out his Crawlspace RPG and other titles over at Peryton Publishing.

Before going, I also want to thank everyone for their fantastic attitude, support, and kindness throughout the convention.  I really, really appreciated it!

Follow me on Twitter @VengerSatanis to see even more pics.

Sending out Kickstarter hardcovers starts tomorrow morning.  Your patience shall be rewarded!

VS

p.s. Will there be another VENGER CON next year?  Yes, I think so.  Give me a week or two before I make an official announcement.


Thursday, July 21, 2022

Hardcovers Have Arrived

 

So, the big news is that two pallets of Cha'alt: Chartreuse Shadows hardcovers were delivered yesterday afternoon.

I checked out several boxes, and all the books look amazing!!!  Here's a video of me flipping through the book!

To those attending VENGER CON this weekend, yours will be there.  To everyone else who either backed or pre-bought the hardcover, I'll start sending them out on Monday.

If you want yours sooner than later, paypal me $75 (that includes the shipping/handling domestic - foreign shipping add $40) at Venger.Satanis@yahoo.com

Speaking of the convention, I thought it would be fun to have a d100 random table that everyone can use.  I'll be using it in my own Cha'alt marathon this weekend, and I hope others will, as well.  That way, we can all be kind of connected.

You can find that random table PDF (NOT behind the paywall, everyone has access) over on my SubscribeStar page.

Is there any danger regarding our occultism infecting this reality?  Possibly... 

Enjoy,

VS

p.s. Just this morning I uploaded the Cha'alt Criterion campaign / adventure checklist to SubscribeStar... however, that is behind the paywall. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Meatgrinder Cha'alt Character Sheet

 

Here's a look at the third character sheet that I'll be using in my in-person Cha'alt games.  Specifically, this weekend at VENGER CON.

I've named the entities Myra'ak, Myka'aw, and Ryka'ard (friends call him Richard).

Obviously, if you print it out on white paper, you can color it yourself.  I included chartreuse and fuchsia paper versions to give you an idea of what it looks like on colored paper.

The PDF for Cha'alt character sheet #3 is for subscribers over at my SubscribeStar page!  Support content that's censor-proof... oh yeah, the really depraved stuff is coming!  You won't want to miss it.

Enjoy,

VS


Saturday, July 16, 2022

Cha'alt Character Sheets

 

While Monstark is creating something for GMs running Cha'alt, I hand-drew some character sheets for Cha'alt players... 

At the moment, the only way to download both versions is a $5 a month subscription to my SubscribeStar account.  I'll have plenty of blank character sheets available at VENGER CON.

Make your Lovecraftian entity come to life!!!

Want to see more variations on that theme?  Just let me know!

For both VENGER CON attendees and those at home wanting some eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic action, I'm creating a d100 table for GMs running Cha'alt.  The more ideas from the list you include in your game, the more you win!  There's no prize, it's just for fun... unless you count making reality that much more awesome.

If you can think of other virtual, remote options for those who wanted to attend but couldn't, please let me know.  Also, if you can help facilitate whatever your suggestion is, such as running one or more Cha'alt sessions yourself on Roll20 or Discord or wherever, even better!

Book 3 of the Cha'alt trilogy, Chartreuse Shadows, is being printed now and will hopefully ship next week.  In the meantime, I'm still running a ridiculously insane 50% off sale on just the original Cha'alt hardcovers.  See details here.

Ok, I've got to get back to organizing the convention since it's next weekend.  I still want to have some playtest material for the new Encounter Critical, and that won't write itself.

Have a good one, hoss!

VS

p.s. The top (orange) entity's name is Zeefyma'ath.  The bottom (yellow-green) entity shall be called Queba'a.  


Sunday, July 10, 2022

Cha'alt Hardcover Sale

 

This statement was posted on SJG's website, smearing conservatives, centrists, and just an unnecessarily wide swathe of Americans.  

To me, it sounds like Steve Jackson Games doesn't want your money if you're pro-life.  I believe in the sanctity and preservation of human life.  Additionally, I believe it's fitting that states, their representatives, and the people get to decide abortion laws for themselves.

Prior to VENGER CON (and at the convention), I'm offering a HUGE sale on hardcover Cha'alt books. Cha'alt is my eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic campaign usable with any RPG that vaguely resembles Dungeons & Dragons.

They're limited edition, signed and numbered, deluxe production values you won't see from the big RPG companies.  Hardcovers always include the PDF (just let me know your DTRPG email address).

Want to read a review?  There's over a dozen right here!

Each hardcover will slither off the shelves for the utterly ridiculous price of $30 + $5 shipping/handling, assuming domestic shipping.  Outside the USA, it's $30 + $50 (sorry, shipping was incredibly expensive even before the pandemic).  You can paypal me at Venger.Satanis@yahoo.com

Support independent creators who share (or at the very least respect) your values!

VS


Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Nightwish Movie Review

 

I haven't reviewed a movie on this blog in a long time.  Well, I watched Nightwish (1989) yesterday, and now I want to talk about it.

The TL;DR version is that it's weird and recommended (especially if you love Cha'alt)... but don't go in thinking it's going to rock your world.  This is standard B-movie fare.

There's a little bit of From Beyond, Altered States, The Haunting, and probably a half-dozen other movies blended within.  Here's the gist - a team consisting of parapsychology students, their teacher, and his Igor stand-in go to some remote house to study ghosts or aliens or demonic forces.  Wackiness ensues.

There's something going on... something wrong with this area of the desolate location.  I believe I heard animal mutilation, people going crazy, maybe there was a line about bug infestations.  The exposition is kind of blasted at you like a shotgun.

The reasons I liked it are the following...

  • One character is like the stereotypical Chad on steroids.  
  • There's enough otherworldly color going on to give Dario Argento a run for his money.
  • Some nice skin is shown - BOOBS!!!
  • A woman orgasmically writhes around a cavern floor surrounded by magenta and chartreuse mist (it's like they recorded it straight from my Cremza'amirikza'am sessions).  
  • Badass special effects that were both super cool and utterly gross.
  • Cool ideas mashed together... is it ghosts, aliens, demonic forces, or something else?
  • Unexpected, but not out of nowhere gonzo-twist ending.  

While Nightwish could have used another editing pass on the script, it did a fine job.  The acting was serviceable.  The girls were cute.  The FX were superb.  It just needed more to push it over the top, either unifying it or making it even more scattershot surreal.  Imagine if this had John Carpenter's flair, or at least one of his epic synthesizer scores!

I happened to buy the new blu-ray disc, but maybe you can watch it for free somewhere?  I'd give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

One more awesome thing came from watching Nightwish... while I was thinking of different scenes I could slip into my upcoming Cha'alt marathon session at VENGER CON in 3 weeks, it occurred to me that a checklist would help compile all my GMing notes together in one place.  That would work even better if it contained all the things that go into a Cha'alt adventure or campaign.

Check out the latest update on my SubscribeStar page to see the rough draft.  I'm having an artist work on the revision and when it's finished, it'll be awesome.  Expensive, but awesome...

Your support allows me freedom to work without the fear of losing everything if I'm canceled.  

Happy 4th of July, hoss!  Independence... it's a wonderful thing.

VS

Friday, July 1, 2022

Rainbow Bound

 

I have some good news, which may or may not surprise folks out there in RPG land.

Aside from just a few minor changes that need to be made, Rainbow Crystal Utopia passed with flying colors.  I've already sent over the necessary alterations to layout.

I'm pleased with the relatively light editing hand used by OneBookShelf, which means a positive step in the right direction.

Of course, DTRPG has to re-review the title before it's finally approved, "whitelisted", and made public, but it looks like we won't have to wait too long before it's back up on the virtual shelves.  

If you just can't wait, you can still get the PDF from me (details here).  

Thanks,

VS

p.s. Attend this month's VENGER CON, and support me on SubscribeStar!


Thursday, June 30, 2022

OBS Publisher Content Guidelines

 

Not sure why they're called "guidelines".  Edicts might be more appropriate...

I put out a little video, basically asking people to watch videos that are much, much better than mine.  Do I think OBS will reverse their position?  It's possible.  Some companies have the vision, flexibility, and strength to pivot... others do not.  

We're in the midst of another pendulum swing.  As I predicted, many things are changing back to normal (or going even further to the right, in order to find balance).  The left didn't see it coming, did they?  How do people not know this?  Oh right, America's stellar education system.  Why study history when we could learn about critical gender basket weaving?

If you've studied revolutions, you'll see what I saw a few years ago.  Radical movements pull the culture in startling new directions very quickly.  But such radicalism soon evaporates and society inevitably goes back to the ways things were.  

In most cases, I think it's a good idea to separate the art from the artist.  And that's what I've been trying to do with DTRPG.  Instead of blaming the staff and their protocols, I was focusing my scathing critiques upon the platform's customers who literally hate me, my work, and everything I stand for.

Well, I sleep well at night knowing I'm doing the Lord's work... whether that's the Judeo-Christian God, Satan, or Cthulhu, that's anyone's guess (all three?).  Case in point with this ostensibly "pro-choice" WAPO article about a young woman in Texas with twins.

Did The Good Syma'arian do that?  Did my little freebie PDF save those babies?  No, but artists, like myself, shape our society and, as they say, politics is downstream of culture.  What we do now has the potential to affect all our lives tomorrow.

If you want my anti-abortion themed Cha'alt scenario, The Good Syma'arian, just send me your DTRPG email address.  If you want my "alternative pride" Cha'alt adventure, Rainbow Crystal Utopia, you have to paypal me $3 also with your DTRPG address (please, use friends and family so I avoid the 50-cent fee)... Venger.Satanis@yahoo.com

And, of course, there's been a lot of criticism directed my way.  My character, reputation, and ability to conduct business have all been affected by what's transpired.  This guy in particular reminds me of Cypher from The Matrix.  I guess that would make me Morpheus.  Now, all we have to do is find... the one.

Rumors of competition abound.  I've heard from several people behind the scenes that something new is on the horizon.  And that should be very interesting, and lucrative for those positioned well.  

Speaking of opportunities, I've just been approved over at SubscribeStar.  Here is my profile.  I intend to create one short PDF, run a virtual session, and offer a third bit of Vengerized content each month.  It's only $5 a month if you want to join, and help fund my degeneracy; in addition to making it harder to cancel me.

VENGER CON is only a few weeks away!  Tickets are still available, so if you want to play with the greatest living Game Master in Cha'alt, the most dangerous campaign setting, don't delay.

Enjoy,

VS

p.s. After making this blog post, I realized there's another great video by The Basic Expert that should be seen by all.


Monday, June 27, 2022

Shaking The Cobwebs Loose

 

I think it had been at least 3 weeks since I'd sat behind the screen.  For me, that seems like an eternity without Game Mastering...

Which, now that I think about it, makes me wonder how long it's been since I was a player.  Wow, it's been years, maybe 4 or 5 years.  That seems incredible to me.

Even though I want to GM as much as I possibly can in about 3 weeks from now... VENGER CON, baby!  I still want to play.  Would love to experience Cha'alt from the other side of the screen.  Hopefully, I'll get that opportunity.

Anyway, last night's game was fantastic (as per usual).  5 players, which is ideal for a virtual table.  This time I expanded the session to TWO WHOLE HOURS!!!  I know, your mind must be absolutely blown.  I'll wait while you scrape up the more solid bits and scoop it back into your brain-hole.

The usual pondering Kort'thalis meta-sigil occurred.  Remember this?  And I listened to this and this.  I like some dark ambient in the background, no matter if it's live or virtual.

The session was new.  I went with a technique which suits me when it's just a casual online session.  I had a bunch of notes and then just winged-it the rest of the time.  A lot of people don't like text only, but in a virtual game, I prefer it.  Since people usually think out what they want to say before typing it out, I get a minute or two before players respond to what I've said.  That extra time is all I need to come up with 3 or 4 options, and then I just pick the best and go with it.

Eventually, I'll turn all these little scenarios into bite-sized, one-shot PDFs, and then include them in book 4 of the Cha'alt trilogy.  But that won't be until the 4th quarter of 2023 (at the earliest).

Anyway, subterranean temple the PCs spotted after wading into the final moments of a pitched battle between two opposing forces.  One dressed in blue, the other orange.

I can't say anymore, except that everyone but the cleric was knocked unconscious at one point, yet no one died (which is nice).  Also, I borrowed liberally from a 1985 American scifi TV show that never made it to the finale of season one.  It's called Otherworld.

Yes, I have "bad" taste in movies and television (not really, but that's what a lot of my haters say) and I haven't aged beyond 12 or 14 when it comes to what I think is cool (Ok, that's true.  You got me there).

I will, however, post noteworthy lines from the session, along with a bit of commentary...

  • "The rules are only a guideline, anyway." It's fine if players ask me, "Should I have died?" or "Don't I need to roll for that?" But don't be surprised when I let the game happen.  Flow stems from immersion, I find.  The more the game feels real, the more flexibility you have.  It's a GMing vibe I'm going to start calling PSYCHOCOSM.  Yes, I'm going to just start saying "psychocosm" in casual RPG conversations like people should know WTF I'm talking about.  Lol, hilarious!
  • "Greige is chartreuse for color-phobes." 
  • "Down the hatch." I don't know why, but that makes me laugh every time I read it.
  • "Real adventurers don't ask, they just do." Don't worry, this wasn't about sex. One PC asked another PC if he should go topside and investigate the dead body they found several minutes ago.  And I'm like, don't ask; go do it! The player said he did that for in-game / character reasons, which is fine... nevertheless, my point still stand.
  • "Baja Blast, clearly the true treasure."  You just had to be there, man.


Well, thanks for reading.  If you have any questions, just ask.  Hope to see many of you at VENGER CON.  It's so close now, I can almost taste it...

VS

p.s. If you haven't grabbed my latest Cha'alt one-shot adventure, it's available direct from me - only $3.  Details here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Rainbow Crystal Utopia

 

"Pride goeth before a fall."

It's June... and the rainbows are everywhere. Of course, the old "pride flag", just like the new one, isn't an accurate representation of the rainbow.  The true rainbow has 7 colors.

Anyway, I've got a new stand-alone Cha'alt adventure for you.  It's themed to the current season of pride and rainbows and leftism enshrined in the Church of Secular Progressivism.  So, you know it's probably going to get flagged and taken down from DTRPG's virtual shelves.  I hope temporarily.

New adversaries, new map, new magic items, new spells, new random tables, and new lore.  You can get it right over here.

[Wow, that was fast!  This title has already been pulled from DTRPG's virtual shelves.  Look in the post-script for my email.  If you want to purchase the PDF direct ($3, use "friends and family"), get in touch.  Also, if you want hardcover Cha'alt books, let me know... I'll give you a deal.]

Thanks for continuing to support my work... and VENGER CON, only a month away!  If you're anywhere near south-central Wisconsin, do yourself a favor and attend this old-school gaming convention.

Enjoy,

VS

p.s. If you still want the banned adventure The Good Syma'arian, you can either download it from the linked blog post or ask me to send it via DTRPG.  Just email me your DTRPG email address: Venger.Satanis@yahoo.com


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Worth More Than Gold

 

I made a video as a sort of response to Prince of Nothing's three-part review of Cha'alt: Chartreuse Shadows.

Part OnePart Two, and Part Three.

As I mentioned in the video, I'm friends with PoN.  He's an awesome guy.  Sometimes, we agree on RPG topics; other times we don't.  That's ok.

Rather than relying on Metallica to make my point, in the video, I should have included other examples, some of which would certainly be more relatable.  After all, not everyone loves 80s Metallica...

Let's say, we discovered an entire missing season of Tom Baker Doctor Who, somewhere between 1979 and 1980.  How glorious might that be?  Yes, it would be familiar, even comfortable... dare I say derivative?  Of course, it would be totally weird by today's modern standard, but for those who love that style and aesthetic, it would be nothing less than a gift from God!

Not a fan of vintage Doctor Who, either?  Who the fuck are you and why are you reading this blog?  Lol.  How about imagining a "lost" season of your favorite TV show.  Even just an episode - it would be amazing to find that and enjoy it here and now, right?

You don't have to be a time traveler, assuming you're the one creating the content.  All you have to do is keep making it.  But don't do it for the money or fame, do it because that's your passion, because doing what you were put on this Earth to do makes you an instrument, a demon-slaying sword perhaps, of God... even if that sword takes Satanic form.

Well, that's how I feel about expanding on what you love.  If you love it and want to explore more of that thing, don't be afraid to do just that, no matter who disagrees.  Know thyself!  There's an enormous urge to start doing something else or subvert expectations or reboot your vision with a mid-season pivot that goes in an entirely new direction.  

New is always better, right?  Not always.  For me, old school isn't just preserving the ancient ways... it's an appreciation for everything I love from the past (and anachronistic stuff happening in the present) that still seems objectively better than modernity fare.

I don't know if you'll enjoy Cha'alt: Chartreuse Shadows.  A lot of people do, some people don't.  If you like the idea of an eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic campaign setting that uses humor, sleaze, and pop-culture references, I think that probably answers your question.

Cha'alt!

VS

p.s. VENGER CON is only 5 weeks away.  Madison, WI's throwback "garage days" gaming convention exclusively for old-school, OSR, and traditional RPGs.