Saturday, January 28, 2023

Cha'alt WebComic - Under Fuchsia Ska'ai


While I would love a feature film, followed by a sequel, prequel, and subsequent blockbuster movie trilogy... or even a TV series (animated or live-action, I'm not picky).  For the moment, I'm happy to be working on a humble, yet supra-awesome webcomic for my beloved Cha'alt.

For those who don't know, Cha'alt is an eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic campaign setting.  Interested in the gorgeous hardcover trilogy?  It's a reward tier for backing Advanced Game Mastering Like A Fucking Boss.

Anyways, Under Fuchsia Ska'ai is a webcomic drawn by Jae Tanaka (follow him @TanakaOSR and me at @VengerSatanis) and written by yours truly.  On the right is a promo to whet your appetite...

The plan is to create one page (not just a panel) of adventure each month.  To do any more than that requires funds.  I'm not sure where the money will come from... maybe crowdfunding, paywall, or RPG magazine / website that already gets a lot of traffic and is looking for more, perhaps some independent comic-book company will pick it up, or it's entirely possible that Dan Harmon will decide to put his considerable weight (only kidding, hoss) into a post-Rick and Morty spinoff show ensconced in the Cha'alt multiverse?

Yeah, I don't know how we're going to subsidize this thing, let alone monetize it.  All I know is that I want this thing to exist, so I'm going to fund it until a way presents itself.  

The first full-page should drop February 12th.  It's in production right now, and looking cool.  Can't wait for you to read it and see where this all leads...



p.s. Don't forget about VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo this July in Madison, WI.  It's going to be a legendary time playing old-school, OSR, and traditional RPGs all weekend long!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Crystals of Chaos [episode two]


By the end of this blog post, I will come up with a name for the 2023 Cha'alt campaign.  I already have a few ideas, but will reserve final judgement until then.

A fortnight later, session #2 happened.  Two of the first session's (see this post) three players returned.  The third was home sick.  One of my usual players couldn't make the first session, so he was back.  And two new gamers joined the fray - one of which I gamed with way back during 3rd edition about 17 or 18 years ago.

The five players and their characters (the returning players kept their characters), and everyone is currently 3rd level still...

  • Colin playing Robard the Red, dwarf sorcerer
  • Richard playing Ban-Dade (I didn't get the joke until halfway through the scenario), dwarf priest
  • Mike playing Crandell, half-orc warrior
  • Steve playing a halfling thief named Heighten Chancery Philthrop III (don't worry, there's a reason)
  • Patrick playing Jackal, dwarf warrior

After introductions (the new PCs joining the employ of Varantha the exquisite, along with the original PCs), a gnome came to their service quarters (the PCs are called service providers rather than servants or enchanted love slaves, which more accurately describes the situation-ship they're all in).

Varantha wanted to tell them something.  While bathing her loveliness with ivory silt, as is customary of the highborn, she announced her desire for her service providers to travel to Kra'adumek (still in the midst of civil war) and murder a noblewoman named Ska'ai.

"Ska'ai is evil," she said.  And that's all there was to it.  Varantha also stated that the man who dealt the killing stroke would be able to sheath his purple serpent in her love-purse (I write not only adventures but erotic thrillers, as well).

Just as they were leaving (this is kind of a "one more thing" Columbo moment I like to use every now and again), a royal guard from the palace showed up to tell Varantha that King Fahd-Salma'an wishes her to return and be his prime concubine once more.

Varantha told the royal guard no, but then decided it would be better to send a stronger message to the King of A'agrybah.  She ordered her service providers to murder him.  Crandell grabbed the guard and broke his neck, but not before getting stabbed by his victim.

Ban-Dade had the idea of personally sending the severed head over to the palace, so he started cutting while a gnome fetched a decorative box.  Then, they dropped the box off with a royal guard stationed just outside the palace gate.

Before leaving for Kra'adumek, Robard suggested they check-in with the merchant Dookal.  Dookal had already sold the ka'alaxian crystals they found for him in that network of tunnels and caves, and he had a few prospective buyers lined up for more... if the PCs could find some, and the merchant promised to split the profits in half.  On the way out, Heighten Chancery Philthrop III swiped a glass cube containing a splash of yellow (and, indeed, it will look nice upon the thief's mantle... if he ever acquires one).

Being rather poor, the PCs decided to visit the caves again, hoping to find more ka'alaxian crystals.  They had a beeper for the transport driver named Sa'ab, and utilized that.  Before I forget, Karl stayed at Varantha's temple since the adventuring party was sufficiently strong without his presence.

Sa'ab took the scenic route because of sandworm activity.  This led the PCs near a stone marker, like a monolith with a strange symbols carved into it and an eye within a triangle.  Such markers were known across the S'kbah wasteland, but no one knows what they mean or who built them.

Soon enough, they arrived at the cave.  Once inside, they fought the huge skittering tentacled insects, massacred 5 night-clowns who were forcing humans to fight alligators for their amusement.  The party used deception (invisibility, dragging one away, murdering him, and then going after the others) to even the fight and then waded into combat.  Some really good fictionalization of the fight elevated the scene.  Crandell was badly wounded, but thankfully healed by Ban-Dade after the battle.

Then PCs encountered a pool of zoth with three robed humanoids standing over it.  Turns out these were snake-men.  It would be like hikers today in 2023 accidentally stumbling upon Babylonians or Assyrians.  After a bit of amusing chit-chat involving way too many ssssssssssssss's, the PCs moved on.  

Traveling further north, they discovered a medium-small adult sandworm coiled around a ka'alaxian crystal 5 times bigger than anything they've seen.  Realizing they probably couldn't steal it without a fight, the party's thief, Heighten Chancery Philthrop III - he picked up prominent sounding names from people he met and 3 is the number of people the thief had killed at one time - decided to investigate the worm for vulnerabilities.

Usually, I don't have players roll to search things, but this was a special case.  He rolled well enough to discover an area on the sandworm that had been previously hurt.  Believing this was their best chance, the thief stabbed the sandworm there.  And stab he did.

It took several round for them to kill it, but eventually they did... almost losing their sorcerer in the process (Jackal was badly wounded, too). Luckily, he survived, thanks to the priest's healing.  Turquoise blood everywhere, the adventurers snatched the massive ka'alaxian crystal and headed back (along with the humans they saved) to the transport waiting for them just outside the cave.

Almost forgot to add, while Ban-Dade was healing the others, one of the PCs noticed a humanoid skulking in the dark.  One of the warriors crept over to him and decapitated the dude - a scruffy human with scraggly beard, eyepatch, and gold tooth.  One of the rescued humans named him as a servant of the demon who inhabits the northern section of these caves.  The PCs decided not to investigate further.

Returning to A'agrybah, Sa'ab's sand-speeder ran out of fuel.  That actually occurred because I had the idea and then gave it a 2 in 6 chance of happening, then rolled a 2.  After breaking the news, we all realized it made sense that the extra 3 humans rescued weighed the transport down which became a greater drain on the sand-speeder's fuel supply.

Only about a 20 minute walk back to the city, they decided to grab the chartreuse crystal and walk the rest of the way as it was starting to get dark.  They noticed a twinkling light up ahead, but decided to bypass the mysterious illumination, lest it be dangerous.

Once in A'agrybah again, the PCs made a b-line to Dookal.  He asked if they wanted to be paid 750 gold pieces for their share right away or wait several days (perhaps longer) for a buyer, at which point their share might go down.  They chose to take the 750.  The PCs were also given a pyramid-shaped glass bottle filled with prismatic sand.  The merchant had no idea what it was or what it could do.  No one asked, but that was due to it being made out of magic-proof glass.

Back at Varantha's temple, the PCs watched several gnomes pleasuring her exquisiteness with their diminutive tongues before heading down the corridor to their service quarters and awaiting bunkbeds.

As you can see, there are a lot of available threads upon which to pull as the campaign unfurls.  

Below are some amusing phrases uttered around the table...

  • "If it's more than zero, it's too expensive."
  • "Hold that syllable."
  • "Snake you later."
  • "Is it even in?"
  • "Gnome-a-sutra."
  • "When they die, they die smiling."
  • "Stabbed in his prosthetic fat."

As for the campaign's name, I almost went with Ka'alaxian Realities, but eventually decided on the much simpler and open-ended Crystals of Chaos.  Will it catch on and the players actually ever use that?  Perhaps.  Nevertheless, I think it'll help me contextualize what's happening in the campaign.

God willing, the next session will happen in a couple weeks.  Until then, keep checking my blog for posts about this, that, and the other... like the Cha'alt Game Jam!  

Remember, I've still got that Advanced Game Mastering Like A Fucking Boss kickstarter happening.  Back if you like it, and share wherever there are gamers.



Saturday, January 14, 2023

Advanced Game Mastering Like A Fucking Boss


A decade ago, I started writing How To Game Master Like A Fucking Boss.  It's a platinum best-seller on DriveThruRPG.  The wisdom contained inside has helped thousands of aspiring Game Masters.

Now, I'm working on a follow-up.  It's shorter, more focused, and goes deeper than any GMing book should ever have to go... punishingly deep.

This book will attempt to crack open the cosmic egg, drenching readers in universal yoke and allowing us to give birth to the inner God that exists as potential within everyone.  

Come, join me on this journey and see what I have to show you.  BTW, the Cha'alt trilogy is one of the backer rewards.  If you don't already own these gorgeous volumes containing my eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic campaign setting, do yourself a favor.  Get them.  You won't regret it.

Advanced Game Mastering Like A Fucking Boss - see you on the other side, hoss!

If you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to answer them here or on the KS page.



p.s. VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo is happening this July in Madison, WI.  Link here.  My convention is for old-school, OSR, and traditional RPGs only.  It's like gaming in the old days, but with gray pubes! 

Monday, January 9, 2023

Cha'alt Session Reports


So much news in this blog post - it's insane!

First, let's talk about The Good Syma'arian anti-abortion Cha'alt scenario that I just uploaded onto Big Geek Emporium for FREE.  Here it is!  

Next, we should get into my appearance on Legon of Myth.  I was asked to attend Max's Friday night chill stream to talk about the new release of Encounter Critical IIIPDF available here.  But I thought it would be more instructive and fun to actually game... because why talk about roleplaying when you can just roleplay? 

This is the video, after 5 or so minutes of starting the stream and announcements, I come on.  Then, we proceed to chat about Encounter Critical III before Max and Victor choose characters, and I start running the game.

Hopefully, this gives aspiring gamers and old hands a helpful window into my GMing style.  It's not for everybody, but what I like - and most players I've encountered over the decades have enjoyed it, too.

And the day after that stream, I fulfilled the first tiny step of my 2023 resolution - to run more local face-to-face sessions that eventually become a Cha'alt campaign.  Still thinking of a name for the campaign, but I'm planning on GMing every other week for the rest of this year.

Inspired by Jordan Peterson's admission that he goes into interviews and various discussions with notes but not anything pre-planned, I decided to create mostly original content based on various notes and ideas jotted down (also borrowing bits and pieces from previous sessions these particular players weren't involved in).  Some of this stuff might make it into Book 4 of the Cha'alt trilogy down the road.

Because of scheduling conflicts and a last-minute cancellation, I only had 3 players (one of which was brand-new to Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 and Cha'alt).  It was a social interaction and exploration heavy game, as per usual.

All three played dwarves, and I allowed them to start at 3rd level for survivability during the 4-hour game.  Although, it was really 3 hours when you account for the chatting and eating (the game took place inside a pizza place).

  • Colin's dwarf sorcerer was named Robard the red.  He was a "show mage" specializing in close-up magic, like flaming card tricks.
  • Pat's dwarf warrior was named Jack-Hole or Jackle.  One leg was a little shorter than the other, making him slightly off-balance.  When fighting, his "disability" gave him +1 to damage.
  • Chad's dwarf thief was named Zagreus.  No beard, but he did have a black curly handlebar moustache (and might have looked suspiciously like Mario).

The trio of dwarven adventurers started out in the city of A'agrybah.  A procession wound its way through the streets, a golden platformed, upon which laid a beautiful woman, every inch covered in a tactile magenta glitter, almost like a sensual, skin-tight tree bark.  

Not knowing what the Hell was going on with this woman on parade, they asked various bystanders.  They discovered her name was Varantha, a small cult worships her as the avatar of a God, and that her condition was due to her being cursed by another divine being... although, perhaps it was the King who was actually targeted with that curse because Varantha was a consort of the King before stricken by the toxic magenta film.

Zagreus successfully pick-pocketed someone in the crowd, yielding a pair of lacy red panties.  Score!

Instead of rewarding players with Divine Favor at the end of scenes that had plenty of roleplaying, I ended up handing out 2 points (physical fuchsia stones I got from a gift shop to represent the Divine Favor) each during the 3-hour session.  

If your table is ready to roleplay, you won't have to dangle the carrot of social interaction in front of them.  But if they're new to the concept or shy or whatever, let players know that using something in their background to strike up conversation gets them a possible get-out-of-jail-free point.

Meanwhile, the dwarves ran into a human sorcerer from Earth named Vaughn who racked up considerable gambling debts betting on gladiators.  He knew of a nearby mine containing a type of crystal lost to collective memory.  Before the apocalypse, in ancient times, ka'alaxian crystals (thanks to Pat for the name, and thanks to Rick and Morty for inspiration) were prized by the natives of Cha'alt, especially priests and servants of the Old Ones.  Somehow, Vaughn knew that Ka'alaxian crystals allowed sorcerers to alter reality.

If the dwarves liberated the reality-warping crystals for Vaughn, they'd split them.  Plus, the Earth-born sorcerer would make Varantha's coating less toxic.  I believe the idea was either to kidnap her or give her to the King of A'agrybah as a tribute, allowing them to collect a reward.

They'd meet to finalize the acquisition of the ka'alaxian crystals at the Chartreuse Dragon Cantina in an hour.  That left the trio with enough time to schmooze with Dookal a merchant that gestured for them to enter his tent and see his expensive wares.  The dwarves ended up buying a decorative dwarf helmet and a clear crystal sphere containing a thief who was somehow trapped inside.

The dwarven helm had runes carved into it that read "Don't worry, be happy" when translated.

Eventually, Vaughn got the PCs to the mine with the help of Sa'ab who drove a beaten-up and broken-down sand-speeder.  Wanting to tie the back-to-back scenarios together, the transport slowed down for a hitchhiker waiting next to a black van.  This was wonky-eyed Karl.

Once inside the network of tunnels and caves, the dwarves fought off some tentacled insectoid creatures until they skittered away.  The thief was made invisible by the sorcerer and collected the glowing greenish-yellow crystals (Dune internal monologue: What is the connection between ka'alaxian crystals and zoth?), narrowly avoiding a demon munching on human remains.  

I don't recall if they fought the demon (will have to ask the players - they avoided the demon), but I know Karl did some off-the-cuff healing.  I didn't expect him to have the power of prayer... so, I gave it a couple rolls.  The first was good, something like a 14.  The second, a natural 20.  Thus, the party was healed.

More crystals led the thief to a circus of clowns (is that was a group of them are called?) trading stories around a camp fire.  One of the night clowns had an indigo-glowing magical sword in his lap.

Not wanting to be hasty, the dwarves explored the last remaining area of the mine.  It contained humans, elves, and half-demons performing some kind of ceremony.  There was head shaving and dipping melee weapons in a pool of zoth, perhaps preparing for battle.

Egged on by the sorcerer and warrior, the party's thief was instructed to steal the magic sword, cutting off the night clown's head before running away, as the thief still had a few minutes of invisibility remaining.  And that he did with Advantage and sneak-attack.  The clown was decapitated, his head rolled through the campfire, startling the dead clown's companions like a flaming skull.

As the other clowns exited their cave, they ran into the shaved head humanoids wielding glowing chartreuse weapons.  A battle between the two factions fortuitously occurred as the PCs ran towards the waiting sand-speeder.

The indigo glowing two-handed sword was, indeed, magical.  A +1 weapon with glyphs carved into both sides of its blade.  When translated, they read the following... "Sucks to be you."  

Upon return, they met at the Chartreuse Dragon Cantina and divvied up the ka'alaxian crystals, but not before Vaughn used his sorcery to alter reality... the ka'alaxian crystal vanished in his hand as he concentrated all his mental energy on reprogramming the universal code.

The dwarves went to Varantha's temple within the city, and not far from the palace.  There, they found her merely stained magenta, rather than covered with toxic magenta glitter.  Finding her stunningly gorgeous, they immediately accepted her offer to stay in nearby temple quarters and she became their patron.

Just before bed, a gnome wearing a silly gnome hat came into their quarters to tuck them in.  Jack-Hole wanted some company before sleep, so the gnome brought a few girls around to pleasure whoever was interested.  Jack-Hole and Karl availed themselves of the opportunity, as the rest found other things to do.

And that's where we ended the session.  Next game is scheduled for Sunday, January 22nd.  Now that I'm running a legit campaign, and in-person no less, finally after so many years, so many opportunities will open-up with threads and stories and ideas (recurring characters!) that don't have to be abandoned when I walk away from the table or log-off from Roll20.  One-shots are a ton of fun, but pretty much everyone in the OSR agrees that long-term campaigns (when feasible) are better.

If RPGs are about immersion and the joint creation of pulp sword & sorcery stories, reinforcement of the veiled reality, this other world, via episodic sessions of a long-term campaign, can only strengthen that immersion.  By the end of 2023, I believe we'll achieve PSYCHOCOSM the likes of which even God has never seen!

Thanks for reading,


p.s. Don't forget about the Cha'alt Game Jam (allowing you to create your own content), Cha'alt for the holidays hardcover book sale (only 2 days left), and VENGER CON II (this July in Madison, WI).