Sunday, October 23, 2022

Never Leaving Cha'alt


Take a look at the kind of trash you find in the exhibition hall sewer!  Wow, the things you see when you leave your xxxtra flush porta-potty at home [shaking my tentacle].

Just before leaving Game Hole Con, I chatted a bit with Bad Mike and Jeffery Talanian.  Just catching up after a long weekend of gaming.  Jeffery mentioned a panel with Ed Greenwood and how he's been working on his Forgotten Realms campaign setting since he was 5 or something.

The strong desire, bordering on need, came to me awhile ago, but hearing that only solidified another layer... I'm never leaving Cha'altCha'alt is my RPG home, and I want to keep creating in that eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalypse sandbox for the rest of my days.  

If 5 years of running games in the same world gets you this far [pretend I'm showing you a tentacle and measuring about halfway up], just imagine what 20 years would be like?  Now, I'm imagining it [no, I don't actually have a tentacle in front of me... nor do I know what it's like to GM in the same campaign setting for more than 5 years].

My guess is that the answer would be... awesomeness that's commensurate with the wild, untamed joy of PSYCHOCOSM !!!  That's what I intend to do, and if you'll stick with me, you can both share in the strange and wonderful awesomeness that is Cha'a'lt, as well as, discover whatever insights I might glean from that particular struggle.

Because make no mistake, it's not all fun and games.  Well, yeah, it is... but also no.  It is fun, and we are talking about games, but there's work that goes into it, too.  And discipline.  The mind wanders, attention wavers, we get pulled here and there, sidetracked, distracted; always something fresh to pursue.  It takes a certain amount of dedication and focus to stay put and work within the boundaries set out for you, that you set out for yourself years (perhaps decades) ago.

I want to use the phrase "conscious suffering", but again, it's not suffering in the usual sense of the word.  If you add up all the hours of imagining, planning, writing, revising, proofreading, finding artwork, and running games, we're talking about a thousand hours of work.  And it hasn't all been a cakewalk.  Hence the suffering.  But I do it intentionally, consciously.  In fact, I welcome it.

A man has to have a special plan, a calling, something that gives his life meaning (aside from the usual suspects, of course... family, survival, religion, etc.)  If you run from every kind of suffering, you won't be inconvenienced as much, but what will you have to show for yourself when it's all said and done?

Alright, enough philosophizing, how was the Game Hole convention, hoss?

Pretty fucking awesome!  Yeah, no real complaints.  I gave myself an ideal schedule... a 4-hour game Friday at 10 - 2pm, two 3-hour games on Saturday with a couple hours for lunch in-between, and a 4-hour game to close things off on Sunday, same time slot as Friday.

And what were the games like?  Pretty magical... spectacular, you might say!  In fact, I was surprised how "game" everyone was.  I couldn't be sure if it was me or Cha'alt or the players themselves (probably a combination of all three), but there was humor, pop-culture references, sleaze, and the kind of scary, gross-out horror movie exploitation shit that you don't get to see very often.

Some highlights...

  • The racial stereotyping of dark-elves having poison on them at all times.  Collaboratively, we decided that one dark-elf PC regularly imbibed poison so that he would be immune, while also having poisonous saliva.  As ingenious as it is fucked up!
  • Taking "murder hobo" to the furthest reaches of sorcerous insanity!  The party's wizard: "Is the skinned man eviscerated?"  [me: no]  Him: "Then let's correct that oversight.  I cut him open to see if I can discover signs and portents with his entrails."  Along with a pixie-fairy warrior who could be summoned by saying "Tinker-Stab" three times, and loved to skewer eyeballs and drink their juices.
  • Care bear and mogwai doxies seducing NPCs at the Palace gala.
  • My friend Jacob who has been a player in a number of my games, played in two of my sessions this con.  But since it was the same basic scenario (with a number of changes), we decided he was having Groundhog's day visions that led him to believe that he was living the same day over and over again. The analogy was even more layered because a central plot-point was this Shadow Void ceremony where the King's sorcerer stood in front of a yawing black void to see if he could see his shadow.  If he did, that meant the next 3 years of Cha'alt would be filled with suffering and doom.
  • The demon priestess who single-handedly instigated an insurrection.
  • The old fart who used ritual magic to "internal organ implode" the King of A'agrybah (no one respects a weak King).
  • Got to try Obsidian Escalation twice.  The first time, it didn't come up because no one rolled a crit.  The second time, it worked almost too well.  Combat was over in 2 rounds, and the results were described in epic gory detail by the player!
  • My Friday morning game only had 2 players, so I played an NPC to round out the party.  I played a dark-elf (not the one mentioned above) and got to have sex with a damsel about to be devoured by a slimy tentacled abomination (I waited until after the battle was over, obviously... I'm not a monster).  Inserting myself into the game like that hasn't happened in awhile.  
  • BEST WISCONSIN WEATHER EVER!!!!!!!  Seriously, it was sunny and warm the entire weekend.  This almost never happens here.

I'm leaving out a dozen other moments that will hopefully be with me forever.  Just know that it was a blast, and I can't wait to come back and GM the shit out of Game Hole Con next year.  

Of course, VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo will come first in July (also in Madison, WI).  Grab your ticket here.

Usually, I run at least one of my megadungeons for the sake of variety and never running out of content... but this time I ran the introductory adventure for Encounter Critical III (also playtested the upcoming EC3 classes and races).  Those sessions included this little gem, which was a big hit... and I got to reconceptualize and tweak the fuchsia and chartreuse tentacled entities organically during play, which is the best way of doing it.

I have a post-con video, as well.  I'll include it here so there's little to no overlap in my con report.

Thanks to everyone who helped put this convention together, and everyone who played in my games!


p.s. Gorgeous hardcover Cha'alt books for sale?  Why, yes... knock yourself out, hoss!


  1. I joke (?) often that something must be done to lengthen the life-span of gamers. For computers it was not office drones who cared very much how their data-retrieval computers performed, but it was the game fans who pushed the computer makes for MORE speed, MOOOOOORE memory. And so we got more speed and more memory.
    Likewise I don't think it is ordinary mundanes who will push for more life, but the gamers who see a real need to have decades and decades to build up their game world, to generate a wealth of detail, and then we will have the INTERESTING campaigns, really DEEP STUFF! And so they will push the medical community for genetic engineering and telomere preservation and junk like that!
    Is there a way to make Bill Gates or Elon Musk addicted to TT RPG? That will fix things pretty damn quick!

    1. I shudder to think what Bill Gates' campaign would look like. Elon Musk would make a good RPG designer and GM, though.

  2. Interesting reference manual in pic #2 lol!

    Yeah, stick with your campaign world and watch it grow and evolve!

    After 6 years of work, I recently "perfected" my own OSR game system

    On top of that, our longtime DM had to step down due to a change in employment

    So guess who got to run their new system? 🤪

    Anyway, this ties in with a "stick to it attitude" as my players are greatly enjoying a game that they dont know every nuance of, and I have to stick with my system and resist the urge to fiddle with it.

    It aint broke, so dont fix it. Its performing even better than I imagined. I just have to be patient, and resist the urge to change things.

    I "channeled" this version of my game and can only take credit for being a tool for otherworldly powers lol! Lightning in a bottle and all that.

    So, sorry if this all sounds like a pat on my own back. But my point really is stick to something thats working and stop searching for whats right in front of you

    1. If we don't pat our own backs, the spine grows cold. 😉

      Sounds like a cool game. Email me about it!

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  4. Oh and I would be remiss if I did not credit you V! Cha'alt helped set the tone for the weird, gonzo, eldritch set of rules I wanted to create! 😁

    1. That's fantastic news, hoss! Share the blog post.

  5. Game Hole Con is good stuff and Bad Mike is a great guy.