Thursday, July 27, 2023

VENGER CON Aftermath (convention report, part 3)


Ok, here's part onepart two, and my latest video.  All in an effort to get you up to speed on VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo.  

Alrighty, the meat of this blog post will be my 2nd Cha'alt game and a little about the final session of VENGER CON... Alpha Blue.

We started with 4 players - Imur a droid warrior (an old assassination-droid with the serial numbers filed off), Gabriel a human cleric (and worshiper of the King in Yellow), Frank Beezlebub a demon sorcerer with made an ill-fated pact with a demon and was sentenced to Cha'alt as a punishment, the droid thief ST-K1 who goes by "The Saint" and keeps killing folks wielding scimitars without the proper license and registration... and halfway through, we picked-up a 5th player who played Black Destro, a human warrior.

This is the session that ventured deep down into Cremza'amirikza'am.  It's why I brought the magenta lamp - the lamp that never got used because I plum forgot about it!  Oh well, next year.  On the plus side, I did remember to bring my travel drum.  It was only for one encounter (could have used it more, I suppose), but it lent a certain amount of je ne sais quoi to the session.

I know I've said this elsewhere, but if I'm running a session primarily set in a certain location, I usually don't begin there.  I start the PCs in another place and let them arrive at the place they'll be exploring after 15% - 25% of mucking about in a tavern or wandering the desert or on a starship.  In this case, the PCs were locked behind laser bars on a starship headed for Cha'alt.  Cha'alt was listed as a Federation penal planet, and the PCs were prisoners.  In several hours, they'd be starting their new life on Cha'alt.

Of course, ST-K1 was familiar with the planet... as was an NPC I cooked up named Za'av - green skin, former gladiator with a badass weapon that would be too difficult to describe with mere words (it was named Ka'arl).

The PCs became acquainted (also an important step in my games), got to Cha'alt, but no one was around - all the crew had vanished.  They re-acquired their stuff, took as much info as they could from the ship's computer, and walked out into the desert.  Getting a bird's eye view, the demon sorcerer noticed a stone temple that had seen better days.  They walked to it.

Inside was a ball of yellow light that could speak directly into their minds, and a stone spiral stairway leading down to Cremza'amirikza'am.  In my best Thundarr villain voice, I instructed them that Iva'ak-Na'az, the great and powerful, wished them to travel down into the under-realm and bring back the Lokna'ar!

Gabriel believed this was a direct message from the King in Yellow and gladly obeyed.  The rest either felt like there was something to be gained, or that it was at least a starting point in their adventuring career.

I used the Vanessa and her banana-men servants as the opening - once they got past the black robed Kort'thalis worshipers flaying the back flesh from a humanoid corpse with none other than a crystal-rimmed jaccard - a thief's tool of inestimable value that was slumming it in the hands of depraved cultists.

From that moment on, ST-K1 used the crystal-rimmed jaccard as a "whip-missile" like from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, the weapon employed by the blue guy.  Why the fuck not?

Wanting to help Vanessa and find the Lokna'ar, the PCs ventured forth, exploring the first level of Cremza'amirikza'am.  They encountered more cultists, androids, replicants, and a tentacled clown-worm before discovering a secret cave leading to a subway tunnel with active subway!  The PCs decided to get on board and see where it took them.  After climbing aboard, they realized it was a 2-day journey to someplace they didn't know.

After a random encounter of a unicorn murdering an NPC passenger, the subway car was attacked by a warlord wearing black serpentine armor and his minions.  They jumped on top of the subway car and laser-sworded a circle in the ceiling to jump down.  Several were shot with blasters and assorted weapons by the PCs before getting into melee range.  It was a good battle.

Hours later, the subway slowed down in front of The Black Pyramid of Cha'alt and the PCs decided that's where the mettle of real adventurers are probably tested, jumped out, and headed for their fate.

We had a lot of fun, and many jokes were made... my favorite memorable line was the following, "This timeline is from a damaged prophecy."

I did get a chance to use the moon dice, and realized that it didn't provide the punch that I wanted.  The way I approached the mechanics, it emphasized something slightly different than what I was after.  I was reminded that in game design, you should make your design fulfill a variety of purposes.  However, at the end of the day, decide which has the highest need and go about fulfilling that first and foremost.  

With the moon dice, I wanted it to serve many masters, but in the end, I mostly wanted a way for the PCs to attempt epic, legendary actions that would normally be out of their reach.

Since the convention, I redesigned the moon dice, mechanically speaking, in order to meet that highest design goal.  Thanks to my speedy layout guy, I already have an updated PDF for Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 Revised.

So, the last session was Alpha Blue.  As I stated in my latest (as of this writing) video, character creation just sort of fell into place.  I saw it from a different angle, and that objective perspective made it clear how to proceed.

Here's what I did... 

  • Everyone roll either on the scoundrel or respectable career table (just one time per PC).
  • Then choose if you want to be an alien, robot, mutant, or human (other)... which means rolling on the d4 table allowing you to have psionic powers, zedi abilities, etc.
  • Finish all your rolling on the other tables as seems reasonable (outfit, gun, backstory, name, etc.)
  • If you rolled on the respectable career table, your combat dice pool is a 2d6.  If you're a scoundrel, roll 3d6.

The PCs were Dreego the human medic (who owes a bounty hunter named Ma'altag - hey, I was still in a Cha'alt mood, and was toying with directing the PCs to that desert planet), Razwand a cyborg con-man, Azroy a human psionicist, Feyd Akhbar a human interior designer and rich nobleman, and Satara the Lovecraftian alien assassin who was more female than male.

The shared background of the penis-headed alien who groomed two of the PCs on the same ship made for a good starting place.

They were all aboard Feyd Akhbar's ship on their way to Alpha Blue when they came upon a seemingly dead vessel but still full of lifeforms.  Force-docking onto the S.S. Love Ship, they boarded it.  All the passengers were comfortably sleeping.  Azroy reached out in his mind to discover that most were having erotic dreams featuring a small green alien with a bulbous head.

The small green alien, eventually located in the cargo hold, was using his own psionic powers to control the sleepers' dreams and collect some blue juice filling a cannister sitting next to the alien.  

After finding out the details and realizing this was a potential gold mine with no one to stop them, they shot the alien, stole the blue juice (along with various valuables belonging to the passengers), and went back to their ship.  Now, they had something to sell on Alpha Blue.

After arrival, they went to a Mos Eisley cantina style bar where deals usually went down. There was some space hanky-panky in the champaign room to start things off.

It was then that I decided, as the GM (or Bold Dungeon Space Master) that I decided to fly too close to the sun.  There was a guy tailing the PCs and he had a boss.  The PCs found someone who had a boss that might want to buy the blue juice.  And there was the bounty hunter who wanted the money owed to him - plus interest.  And who knows, maybe another guy, as well?!?

I got lost in all the guys with bosses, deals being made, names, appointments, and just everything.  Luckily, the PCs had taken notes and got me sorted out.

There was some high-level grifting, wheeling and dealing, and a white-knuckle shoot-out back at the cantina.  The scenario only lasted about 3 hours, but it was the tail-end of the convention, and we came to a satisfying conclusion.  Time to pack it all up, say goodbyes, and drive home.

It was a great time, while still leaving room for improvement.  If you want to mark your calendars, the official dates agreed upon by my wife and several of the attendees I talked to over the weekend are Friday, July 19th - Sunday, July 21st.

Unfortunately, those dates don't work for the hotel (which is weird, because even during our convention the day-of there were room vacancies), so I'm going to shop around for another venue.  I'll keep you posted.

That's it!  Thanks for going on this journey with me, even if it's just reading the post-con report blog posts.  I appreciate your support.


p.s. I did sell a number of books, including the magnificent and gorgeous Cha'alt hardcovers that are still on sale!  Ordering details here!

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

VENGER CON Aftermath [convention report, part 2]


Ok, before jumping into my own sessions, I want to acknowledge the official VENGER CON mascot... Zeema'ar the game-thirsty demon.  He was crouching in the main convention room, casting his infernal gaze upon proceedings, watching over us, and protecting the structural integrity of whatever dark reality we were attempting to convey.

One of the ways I was able to talk myself into purchasing something as extravagant and ultra-utilitarian as a 22" inch gong is that I kept telling myself how awesome it would be to bang the gong at VENGER CON.  And bang the gong I did, every morning.  And the reverberations were also heard a few more times throughout the convention by eager GMs who needed a little extra ancient Tibetan gravitas during their game.

After the first hour of meet and greet, there was only myself and six players, perfect for a rip roaring session of Cha'alt.  We retired to my private room and started with character creation.  Using Crimson Dragon Slayer D20, it only took about 10 minutes to manifest an entire 3rd level party of adventurers...

The droid-thief STK1, human warrior Vaca'al-Mar, human priest Ether, human warrior Zippy G, crystalline sorcerer Lowbar, and demon cleric Narva'al.

Like when Luke Skywalker decided to put his targeting computer away, trust the force, and "we'll do it live!", I decided to run this session like one of my 90-minute, Roll20 one-shots.  I started with a basic premise, the PCs wandering the desert, and winged-it as they discovered a cave entrance that soon led to numerous encounters with strange humanoids and creatures.  Of course, I had all my Cha'alt books and plenty of ideas, but the structure was loose and free-flowing.

We broke for lunch after a couple hours, I ordered pizza and mountain dew for everybody (from Pappa Johns about a 5 or 6 minute drive from the hotel), and we continued on for a total of nearly six hours. I'll bullet-point the highlights of that session (events and quotable lines) since there's so much gaming content to get through...

But first, I got to test out the moon dice mechanic.  It worked pretty much how I wanted, though most players were hesitant to use it, given that the bonus was relatively small (potentially) with a 1 in 6 chance of a demon moon-god claiming a shard of one's soul.  

After three playtests, I have a better idea of how I want to implement the moon dice and showcase a memorable epic and mighty deed - will be updating Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 next week to reflect the change.

  • The PCs interrupted an infernal ritual to summon a god-like demon worm.  They killed several demons, stopping the ceremony, and looted their supplies.
  • They realized there were factions they could exploit, and exploit them they did... the wa'agasi and yuza'ak, specifically.  
  • A powerful artifact was at the center of the humanoids' conflict.  The PCs eventually acquired a super-magical glaive (like in the movie Krull) that went to the demon cleric, as he was the only one brave and foolish enough to dive into a pool of zoth, become mutated, insane, and corrupted to wield A'azkulek!
  • A trio of demons were guarding a cave of memory crystals, and the PCs were able to see a bit of Cha'alt's history just by touching them.  Unexpectedly, the crystalline sorcerer decided to absorb one of the crystals - I allowed him to gain and extra (and permanent) point of HP.  A gold-skinned demon wielded a magical two-handed sword, that went to Zippy G after he'd been dispatched. 
  • That sword was later used to slice into reality itself, creating an In the Mouth of Madness "flappy hole" leading into the unquiet void of unutterable blackness.  The PCs peered in and saw a tentacled monstrosity that beckoned.  Narva'al made some kind of connection with it and later tried to free that Lovecraftian godling.
  • Then, the party freed a beautiful woman sleeping within a glass sarcophagus.  Specifically, Zippy G smashed the glass, freeing Destiny and was rewarded by the tasting of her nubile flesh... "Get out the zoth-based lube."
  • Demons wielding scimitars, a weapon that STK1 or "The Saint" despised became a running joke throughout the convention (the droid thief, played by Judd, appeared prominently in both of my Cha'alt scenarios).  We discovered that brunch is the scimitar of meals, making willing participants not worth the air they breathed.  
  • ""She has an only-Cha'alt account."
  • "You can take a bird out of the saw clan..."
  • "Venger, you need to come up with a circle of protection from 'stupid gonzo'... just for RPG Pundit's sake."
  • While Narva'al was playing mid-wife with the tentacled entity from beyond, the others were busy investigating a golden pylon in a nearby cave.  With no way in, their investigation stopped short.  However, the cave next door contained an orgy of humanoids using a pyramidal "pylon key" as a sexual aid.  Lowbar noticed a massive purple crystal sitting upon a pillow of the same hue in the orgy cave.  He immediately tried to absorb it into himself.  While he gained one or more extra HP, the crystalline sorcerer also suddenly disappeared, finding himself wandering the purple maze... as sorcerers occasionally do in my Cha'alt games.
  • The remaining PCs went into the pylon as STK1 began touching crystals on the central matrix table.  They took a little trip just outside The Black Pyramid of Cha'alt.  Meanwhile, Narva'al had released the Lovecraftian godling who was busy melting reality and acquiring worshipers.  Lowbar came upon something in the purple maze and decided to cast wish in order to bring himself back to the real world of Cha'alt, I allowed him to choose between two universes - one containing the demon priest's new god who was devouring reality itself, and the other was a similar timeline but without that tear in the fabric of time and space.  He chose the latter.
  • Seemed like a suitable place to end the nearly six-hour session, so I did.  

By then, another half-dozen attendees showed up and other games were run.  I know that throughout the convention (other than the games I played in) there was a Lamentations of the Flame Princess session, a Dungeon Crawl Classics session, Conan, and ShadowDark.

I wanted to hang-out, schmooze, and drink with my fellow gamers each night, but I'm old and each day I was pretty wore out, leaving by 11:00pm to go home and sleep.  At least I felt refreshed each morning when I arrived at 9am to open the gates (literally and figuratively) to get things going.

This session report is already pretty long, so I'll try to get part 3 up tomorrow.  Aside from Pappa John's, I (and many other attendees) ate at the nearby Popeye's chicken and biscuit fast-food establishment, Red Lobster, and had a rather mediocre sub from Potbelly's.  I wanted to each at Chili's, as well, but didn't want to take the extra time and risk being late for Griff's Tonnisborg game on the day when it would have been possible.

Two of the three Cha'alt zines were freely available for folks who snapped up the complimentary copies... The Skeevatier and Zoth-Laced Worm Trails.  Grab them because both have awesome Cha'altian goodness (and a little something contributed by yours truly)!

The third and final Cha'alt zine will soon be ready for prime-time...

Yes, there will be a 3rd VENGER CON next July, but I want to get something in writing from the hotel before providing an exact date.

Ok, if you have any questions, comments, or feedback between now and part 3 (most likely tomorrow), let me know below, hoss!


p.s. Here is part one of my convention report.  BTW, I'm still locked into Twitter appeal Hell for giving good advice to climate activists who think it's a good idea to protest in the middle of the road.  Please, continue to nag anyone behind the scenes over at Twitter to finalize my appeal favorably so I can get back to promoting shit, trolling idiots, and letting people know what movies I'm watching at night.  Thanks!

Monday, July 24, 2023

VENGER CON Aftermath [convention report, part 1]


We fucking made it, hoss!

Leading up to VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo, I was worried about this, wondering about that, hoping certain things would happen, fearing others wouldn't, and generally feeling anxious about how it would all go.

All things considered, the convention went extremely well.  I lucked-out.  Just under attendance numbers of last year (25 versus about 22), but it happened, fun was had, and new gaming plateaus were reached!

Let's dive in!  Before I forget, video onevideo two, and video three.

Of the two major complains heard (yeah, let's get the bad stuff out of the way first), the first was no name tags.  Yeah, I dropped the ball on that.  Next year for sure!  Second, was the free flowing, chaotic structure where various games were penciled in, but nothing was set down in pen, let alone stone.

Obviously, that's going to annoy or disturb some people.  Normal conventions have specific, set times for definite things, and we (the folks attending) move around and make decisions based on information provided.  For good or ill, VENGER CON seems to reflect my own spontaneous, seat of the pants, stream of consciousness vibe - which means we show up, talk to people, get a sense of what's going on and where people are at, and then make decisions based on the available data, circumstances, our own inclinations, etc.

As the convention grows, it might have to outgrow that mindset.  It works for me, but I'm definitely in the minority, and a larger con would only increase that chaos exponentially.  

If I had to choose one personal failing during the convention it was not using the magenta light that I specifically brought for my Cha'alt session that took place in Cremza'amirikza'am.  I have other, smaller regrets, too, like adding way too many NPCs that wanted to meet or get their boss/supplier in a single visit to the cantina.  But overall, I'm happy with my games and GMing.

Alright, now let's get to the good stuff - the games!

I played in 3 games.  I'll talk about those right away.  The first was my buddy Colin's Cha'alt adventure where he mixed the Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 system with Into the Odd.  As a proponent of the OSR, one of the things I love about it is ease of use.  We all know the basics of how traditional RPGs go.  You roll to hit, you roll damage, each PC does something and is individually autonomous.  Trying alternative systems that switch-up the fundamentals is jarring and there's always a learning curve.  Sometimes the juice is worth the squeeze, sometimes it ain't.

This was the same Cha'alt adventure Colin playtested for the Crystals of Chaos campaign group a couple months ago, albeit slightly updated.  My main focus both in the original playtest and my second go-around was the same - enjoy the world, see what it feels like to be in that place, adventuring, roleplay my character alongside the other PCs and NPCs I meet along the way, help build the environment around me, engage the process with passion and creativity.

The adventure itself was good (I have notes, but this is not the time and place), and we all had fun.  Colin was probably the most tired and out of it that I've ever seen, but even with all that going on, he did a great job GMing it.  And I didn't know this until after he (and others) helped me pack up the convention stuff, but that was his first ever convention game GMing.  Poppin' that cherry like VENGER CON do!

So, that was Friday.  Saturday morning, I played in a dark ages Call of Cthulhu session ran by another dude named Colin (but completely different person).  We were Vikings investigating strange goings-on in Greenland.  It was good, and due to my recent update [video here] on what's next for Venger Satanis and Kort'thalis Publishing, it was much needed.  

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, Call of Cthulhu was probably my favorite RPG, just as H.P. Lovecraft is my favorite writer.  His Cthulhu Mythos (along with the help of his friends) has influenced the vast majority of my creative work.

That, too, was a good scenario.  One of the reasons why I choose to GM over playing is that I like things done my way - that, and I love the extra challenge, the greater obligation and responsibility that comes with GMing.  The scenario we played reminded me of several CoC adventures that I've both ran and played.  There are certain things I enjoy and other things that go against my stylistic grain.  

For that alone, I'm grateful for the experience and looking forward to getting in there and trying to make something (I'd probably start with a short scenario) that fits my particular vision.  It could be awesome or crash and burn... that not knowing is another reason why I do what I do.

The third session was really special because Griff Morgan, the guest of honor for this year's VENGER CON, ran The Lost Dungeons of Tonnisborg.  Super old-school vibe (in fact, we played OD&D), as if we had traveled back in time to game with Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.  We drew our own map based on the DM's description, fought in marching order (but without miniatures), did d6 damage no matter the class or weapon, wandered upon a room full of giant snakes that was way beyond our level and nearly killed the party, feeling around the walls for secret passages, etc.  

There was about 9 players and Griff lent his veteran chops to the proceedings, taking us back to something that might have inspired The Temple of Elemental Evil.  Very much, from an objective standpoint, the opposite of how many of us (especially including myself) game today.  So, it was another lesson, a history lesson this time, of how far and wide this hobby is.  

The artform or vocation, if you prefer, is so massive that saying you enjoy roleplaying games is like saying you enjoy art or science.  It's fine for a casual comment directed towards the uninitiated, but that statement alone tells you virtually nothing about the kinds of games and style, approach, and aesthetic of those games.  My personal preference for sandbox, fiction-first, rules-light, theater-of-the-mind, rule of cool, roleplay heavy gaming is night and day to so many other ways of doing RPGs.  I don't know, it's fascinating to me.

The fourth and final session I played was run by Judd.  Judd and I talk on social media frequently (MeWe, YouTube, etc.).  He's backed a number of my Kickstarters.  And he's played in a couple of my Roll20 Cha'alt one-shots.  He's also one Hell of a live player.  I enjoyed his witty banter and characterizations online, but in-person I was even more impressed.  I got a lot of time to observe Judd's play because he attended all three of my sessions - Cha'alt, Cha'alt, and Alpha Blue.  Super nice guy, too.

So, what did he run?  Wretched New Flesh!  It's a cross between Naked Lunch, Videodrome, Dreamscape, and some kind of FBI/CIA procedural taking place in a cyberpunk city owned by Cobra-La.  Yeah, it was fucking weird.  While I felt out of my element (I'd totally watch that movie, but it's a genre of gaming that I have precious few experiences with), it was enjoyable to see how it all worked.  The cast of characters and detective work and logistics and agency politics and bio-mechanical gear... it was all so much.  

I really liked my character, but admittedly I didn't do too much - which is kind of what I wanted - because I'm giving one Hell of a performance each time I'm GMing and wanted everyone else to have their moment to shine.  So, I felt a bit overwhelmed in a good way.  Very cool system and world by The Red Room.  If you like Over The Edge type stuff, I highly recommend Wretched New Flesh - and that cover art by Jae Tanaka can't be beat!

Alright, that's enough for now.  Not sure when part 2 will get blogged... hopefully tomorrow!

Yeah, great time - can't wait to tell you about the games I ran.  Thanks for reading, and feel free to ask questions, hoss.


p.s. Yeah, Cha'alt hardcovers still for sale - get 'em here! 

p.p.s. Apparently, this is somewhere on reddit and might be the most downvoted comment on there (and may be eligible for a prize of some sort)...

"Venger Satanis is a game designing genius on par with (if not exceeding) Gary Gygax." ~ Matthew Urquhart

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Seven Lavender Moon Dice of Destiny


Ok, what follows is a Cha'alt-based rule change for Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 (still a FREE PDF on DriveThruRPG), which I'll be updating next week... assuming this weekend's playtest goes well.

Because yeah, it's VENGER CON!!!  It starts tomorrow, but weekend badges are still available here.

Until then, this will serve as tentatively official.  The idea of the seven souls or soul fragments and their connection to Cha'alt's seven lavender moons had been with me for awhile, and then I was inspired by this video by Dungeon Craft.

Exploding Moon Dice of Lavender Destiny

Central to all religions on Cha'alt is the idea that every humanoid has seven souls, or rather one soul divided into seven fragments or shards (if one considers the soul to be crystalline, as it is customarily envisioned, perhaps due to the dispersed soul energy of Great Old Ones' passing filtered through the planet's many crystals - most of them subterranean and unglimpsed by humanoid eyes in centuries).  

These seven soul-shards, corresponding to the seven moons of Cha'alt, represent defining moments in a humanoid's life - the more legendary the adventurer, the greater they shall be noticed by the Gods.

Throughout a PC's life, he has seven (d6) moon dice with which to increase his chances for success.  Whenever the player wants to boost his character's die result by an additional d6, he may roll one of his seven available moon dice.

Multiple dice may be rolled in a single attempt, but once the seventh moon die has been cast, there will be no others.  Also, moon dice "explode," meaning that if a 6 is rolled, another d6 is rolled and that result is added to the previous results.  If you keep rolling 6s, you keep adding results together.

Whatever action is aided by one or more moon dice, that deed becomes a defining moment for the character.  If successful or unsuccessful, the results will be tangible, reverberating throughout his life.  This is how he will be known and remembered... affecting honor, reputation, and future prospects.

Additionally, a result of 1 means a demon moon-god holds an infernal claim upon that shard of his soul.  The demon-god may leverage a deed, task, or quest from the adventurer before his soul-shard is released.  If a PC turns his back upon the moon demon's request, he may not call upon future moon dice, and the first saving throw of every new day will be Disadvantaged.


Well, that's it... for now.  I'm looking forward to seeing if this affects play at all.  I may include some concrete mechanics for making the use of moon dice "defining" for PCs... but for now, I'll leave it intentionally nebulous.

Check back for VENGER CON updates as the convention progresses (or just after it ends).

Hope you have the best gaming of your life, hoss!


p.s. The hardcover Cha'alt sale is still ongoing - ordering details right over yonder.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Crystals of Chaos [session report #13]


Ok, it's Sunday, the day after our game, and really the only time I'll have to write up this session report, as I'm going on a family vacation starting tomorrow.

Again, the "3-player summer syndrome" strikes again... although, it's not really a bad thing.  In fact, it's kind of nice to focus on a smaller adventuring party... every once in awhile.  My only real concern is that 3 players is very nearly 2 players, and I won't run a face-to-face game with only 2 players when the full party is 5 or more.

Anyway, we have Robard the dwarven sorcerer (back from his spell research sabbatical), Kra'andol the half-orc warrior, and Heighten Chancery Philthrop III the halfling thief.

I had planned on the PCs waiting out in their starship Jefferson for the 2 weeks between sessions because of Zagreus' injuries.  However, since he wasn't among the illustrious 3, the adventurers could continue right away, after a good night's sleep.

There were only a handful of locations left unexplored on the 3rd level of Cremza'amirikza'am, along with the cave belonging to The Mutilator that wiped his ass with the PCs last time, so the PCs went at it.

First, they encountered an opium den, humanoids in a haze, lounging on pillows, golden fabric covering the rock walls.  The proprietor bade them smoke his opium for a nominal fee, chase the dragon, and have the visions.  Weirdly, the halfling did not partake.  But Kra'andol and Robard did.

Specifically, the sorcerer was looking for insight on how to defeat The Mutilator.  Kra'andol was just looking for a good time - and he was still pregnant, according to the medical-droid who scanned him at the end of last session.

Now, I can't remember ever doing this, but I'm going to set down something here on the blog that happened which I didn't mention during the game.  Maybe Kra'andol forgot his dream upon awakening... or perhaps something was blocking his memory until now.

During his sojourn through the purple labyrinth, Kra'andol felt something on the left side of his abdomen, looked down, and saw a little creature - Kua'ato - poking out, a sort of conjoined twin fused with the half-orc's belly.  The two of them began having a conversation about the nature of life, death, mercy, bloodthirst, slavery, and freedom.  This "Kua'ato" told the half-orc that he was the manifestation of Kra'andol's pregnancy, and not to worry... things would work out, eventually.

Meanwhile, Robard found a 6" hole in the purple maze after an hour of walking around.  He stuck his arm through, briefly touching a slimy, organic, fleshy thing and decided to pull it through.  Out came a tentacle that terminated in a tentacle on the other side, about 5-feet long.  Robard decided to wear it as a scarf.

Upon waking from their opium dream, with the tentacle (and hidden Kua'ato), they went to the next cave containing a Quick Stop convenience store.  Outside was a sheet with "I ASSURE YOU, WE'RE ZOTH-PILLED!" scrawled on it, covering up the metal curtain that couldn't be raised, due to a bunch of savages in the demon-haunted tunnels and caverns of Cremza'amirikza'am.

Going inside, they found Cha'altian drinks and snacks.  The clerks Dante and Hicks (Imagine the 2nd guy as not Michael Biehn, but Bill Paxton who got confused as Hicks in Aliens) were trading banter between themselves ("I'm not even supposed to be here today, and my girlfriend sucked 37 dicks," the PCs ("That's a fabulous tentacle-scarf, hoss!," and a 3rd party customer who came in looking for scarlet demon jizz and happened to mention that someone brought forth Goza'ar the Goza'arian from her slumber outside this universe and gave her form.

This knowledge freaked out Dante who was a worshiper of both Goza'ar and Kort'thalis (the two of them prophesied to be flesh-bonded groin buddies, and possibly instrumental in destroying or merely enslaving every humanoid on Cha'alt).  Dante leaped over the counter and stabbed the customer in the throat before he could say more, such as give away Goza'ar's current location.

Dante was beheaded by Kra'andol and Hicks mentioned an opaque box made of shadow-glass with a sign above it that read, "Break glass in case of a Goza'ar related emergency!"  I didn't mention it during the game, but Hicks was quietly rocking back and forth on the floor behind the counter whispering to himself, "Game over, man.  Game over..."

Inside the shadow-glass was a scroll that could summon an elder god named Quiza'ak-Nyath (prophesied to bring down the Goza'arian).  All the PCs would have to do is find Goza'ar, speak the Cha'altian Latin in the form of ancient eldritch-infernal glyphs, choose its final form, and watch them duke it out.

Walking to the other side of this level, the PCs explored another group of caves.  They snuck past a bunch of demons running train on some woman to find a demon exiting a cave that contained a freshly murdered leprechaun.  Apparently, being anointed with the green blood of a leprechaun will prevent you from dying for one hour - but the blood must be warm or else no dice!

Quickly bathing in the green blood, the PCs went down to The Mutilator's cave.  The halfling thief took such a massive blow that he would have died if not for the leprechaun's blood.  Kra'andol went from about 50 HP to 3 as the bodybuilder demon critted on him.  But eventually, they took him down thanks, in part, to Robard's 60-point fireball.  

The demon champion wasn't dead but just KO'd, so they gazed upon all of his unpainted miniatures, looted his stuff (including the massive double-handed purple plasma sword and a valuable looking time-crystal), admired the crystalline back wall of this cave, and went down the stairs to level 4. 

Upon reaching the next level down, they got past the magenta illumination, but still ran into a woman who worked at a demon's massage parlor down here in Cremza'amirikza'am.  They told her to ask for Vanessa at the fried chicken and whorehouse on level 2.

Then, the PCs found a cave containing a courtroom populated by kangarooids who wanted to try the PCs for murder-hoboism.  After being questioned, a couple of kangaroo-humanoids tried to clap slave collars on them.  That didn't work for the Crimson Bastards, so Kra'andol decided to just lop-off one dude's hands and the other's entire body into pieces.  The courtroom went into a panic as the adventurers wandered off to explore another cave containing memory-crystals guarded by 3 demons playing a game of chance that involved dice and cards... old-school... 3d6 in order!

After a bit of conversation, the PCs walked away - only for Heighten Chancery Philthrop III to toss a thermal detonator behind him, towards the memory-crystals.  It blew-up the entire area, but they weren't interested in investigating the debris.  However, one of the demon guards wandered out of the smoke-filled cave.  Also, a neon-pink juice began spurting out of a few different holes in the cavern, eventually creating several puddles.

I almost forgot, I actually remembered to let the players know that if their character took the time to do a reality show "confessional" spot, that I'd award them an extra point of Divine Favor.  All three made use of the opportunity, which opened up new dimensions of characterization and PSYCHOCOSM character-player-setting bonding exercise.

Moving on, the PCs came to a huge cave containing 3 different demon factions that revolved around a sleeping Old One who might, if woken-up, make reality disappear - everything in the universe merely being a dream the Old One was having.

The PCs worked out a deal to murder one of the demon factions in exchange for a centaur-hottie slave.  Creeping up on the wasp-demons while invisible allowed the halfling to explore the mirror-like vein of crystals in the outer cave wall.  Being invisible, he could see right through it for a time - showing a thousand of machine-pods containing humanoids surrounded in pink goo.  Did this have anything to do with the luminous pink juice that spurted from the cave cracks and crevices after the massive explosion?

They killed all but one of the demons in the faction that wanted to wake the Old One and possibly initiate an apocalypse.

And that's where we had to end it as time was running out.  How many sessions remain of the Crystals of Chaos campaign?  I don't know.  At least 1 more... possibly 3 or 4.  I'm looking to close it out this fall, but anything can happen.

Ok, amusing or poignant words and phrases from the session...

  • "Rest your weary trouser-worm in this centaur-hottie."
  • "Poor bastard, he wasn't even supposed to be here today."
  • "I want more sexual encounters of the 3rd kind."
  • "Hello, violet, my old friend."
  • "It's tentacle casual."
  • "The finest in cloth armor."
  • "Cremza'amirikza'am seems to be salted with whores, cam-girls, and THOTs... does every woman down here have an OnlyFans?"

On the way to get subs after the game, Robard's player asked me what I would do differently now that I have a full Cha'alt campaign under my belt (as you'll remember, for the last few years, I was pretty much only running one-shots)?  There's so many different options available, I told him, that my mind was swimming, like looking too long into the abyss, I didn't have a definitive answer for him, except to say that I would start PCs off at 1st level, not worrying too much about how squishy they seemed during the first couple of sessions.

Incidentally, the guy on the intercom was doing a heavy Irish accent, and when I got up to the window, I asked where the leprechaun was, and the dude said his little fingers were in the back wrapping sandwiches.  Only proving that, yes, we are living in a matrix-type simulation.

Then later that night we watched the 1981 Excalibur, which I hadn't seen in maybe 8 or 9 years and the 3 other guys I watched it with had never seen.  It was amazing seeing it again on blu-ray... so much based wisdom and spectacle and creativity and talent.  Sometime soon, we'll have to watch Zardoz, as well... a Cha'alt movie if there ever was one!

In two weeks, of course, is VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo!  So, super excited for that.  Weekend badges still available.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you on the other side!


Friday, July 7, 2023

A.I. Imagines Cha'alt


It's hard to know what's going on inside a machine's thoughts... how does one analyze, appreciate, and critique mechanical consciousness, if such a thing exists?

Well, one thing's for sure.  A.I. loves Cha'alt.  

My eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalypse campaign setting just got the "Chat GPT" treatment.  Go ahead and check out my just released PDF Cha'alt-GPT.  

See for yourself how this new and improved artificial intelligence views (nay, creates!) a brief session of Cha'alt, and marvel at its legendary, free-floating weirdness.

The PDF is entirely FREE!!!

I'd love your feedback, so don't hold back!  Let me know what you think of it.  Would you like to see more?

What else is going on?  Only 2 weeks until VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo.  Weekend badges still available.

Amazingly, Cha'alt hardcovers are on sale (while supplies last).  Ordering details right over here!  Save hundreds of dollars by getting them direct from me, instead of ebay.

Have a great weekend full of awesome gaming!