Saturday, June 15, 2024

Crimson Ability Scores Hack


All the trolling and discussion and whatnot on social media about ability scores [3d6 in order or die trying, hoss] got me thinking about them again.

While none of the Crimson Dragon Slayer iterations use ability scores (that I can remember), I still fondly recall a time when running other peoples' OSR retro-clones that did use them.  

So, this blog post contains game mechanics for incorporating ability scores in any OSR system, including the various Crimson Dragon Slayer editions.  Come up with a list of those six... Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.  Roll 3d6 for each - in order - and consult the table below...

If whatever you're rolling (most likely a skill-check, saving throw, attack, defense, or special maneuver) would benefit from a particular ability - all you have to do is make the claim and be ready to back that claim up with justification if the GM requires an explanation - then add the following to that d20 roll.  This modifier can be applied once per day per ability score.  For example, if a strength bonus has already been used to lift a heavy portcullis, another ability score could be implemented, if applicable, but utilizing strength again would have to wait until the next day or after a long rest.  

Attention, a point of Divine Favor can be spent to carry that beneficial modifier throughout the scene or encounter.

If the same d20 roll is penalized by a particular ability, the GM applies the negative modifier once per ability score per day.  If the modifier causes that PC to fail his attempted action, there's a 2 in 6 chance of being rewarded with a point of Divine Favor under the rubric that the Gods have a special providence for fools, drunkards, and weak-ass jabronis with suboptimal ability scores. 

  • 18 = d8
  • 16, 17 = d6
  • 14, 15 = d4
  • 8 through 13 = n/a
  • 6, 7 =  -d4
  • 4, 5 = -d6
  • 3 = -d8

Magic items, high-tech devices and priest blessings that enhance a particular ability score add d12, while those same things (magic, tech, or curses) that cripple a particular ability score subtract d12 from the d20 roll.

Yes, this means the priest class has a new ability.  Once per round, a priest can bless or curse a single aspect (ability score) of a humanoid they touch [if a priest touches an enemy combatant, that lasts one round per priest's level.  This blessing or curse goes beyond the normal range, which is why it's plus or minus d12.  Like other positive or negative ability score modifiers, this only affects an individual's particular ability score once per day; however, Divine Favor can extend either a bonus or penalty through the current scene / encounter (but not beyond the limit in rounds of a priest's level).

Even if these were official (which they're not because I'm workshopping them publicly so folks can poke 'em with sticks), they are optional rules.  Nevertheless, I would appreciate GMs playtesting this "Crimson Hack" and providing feedback.



p.s.  VENGER CON III: Revenge of the OSR is just around the corner.  Info and weekend badges available right here.  If you want the hardcover Cha'alt trilogy for your RPG collection, the gorgeous, professionally printed, limited signed and numbered tomes can be found over yonder.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Do Crayons Have Angry Souls? [CHA'ALT campaign, episode 15]


Another session, another chance to caress the true reality of tentacles, blood, and slimy openings beneath this matrix veneer of what we wrongfully assume must be legit...

This entire session took place in Carcosa.  One of my goals was to make this world feel distinct, and I think I accomplished that.  We had the core-four + a special guest player, a friend of one of the players who lives next door to him and is about to finalize his divorce.  One of the benefits of unmarriage-ing is being able to do things like this, so we were glad to have him.  If his work schedule permits, he'll be joining us again.  He travels a lot, so it shall be up to the Gods themselves. 

Because we didn't know if he'd be returning anytime soon, I commented that he was like a special guest star that the showrunner would like to make a recurring role, but the show probably couldn't afford.  Like if Land of the Lost was able to snag Ernest Borgnine for one glorious episode!

Before I forget, we decided to do the session number roll thing again.  Since this was the 15th session, anyone rolling a natural 15 would get a critical-success (including me).

We left off with the PCs, Drogon the human sorcerer, Nix the demon-clown thief, Jua'an the crystalline warrior, and Gorra the grog priest, foraging for spam and tang on the crashed starship.  Having ate, drank, and rested, they began to explore the rest of the ship.  

Weapons locker - empty.  Stasis room - dark, but Drogon fiddled with the keypad and got it open, only to find a solitary human frozen in time, and about to punch someone.  Moments later, he was mobile again... alive.  He asked who the 4 humanoids were, not recognizing them.  Jua'an claimed they were part of the maintenance crew.  Gorra said that he was that dude from the future.  After introducing himself as Quin, he ran out of there, heading for the bridge.

Eventually, they connected, along with another crew member who survived the shining tetrahedron in the sky, and watched a hologram asking for help.  Apparently, there was a ship damaged and being chased by the Koda'an armada that went through a wormhole and made emergency landing on this planet, Carcosa.  

The ship they were currently in was a rescue ship sent after the first ship.  Unfortunately, something happened in orbit, knocking the ship out of the upper atmosphere, causing it to crash here.

The sky was a dim, dusky purple, a t-rex could be seen some distance away, along with the Nameless Plateau up ahead.  Just then, the surviving crew member the PCs found who was scared shitless of the shining tetrahedron thought he heard it coming and hid under the captain's chair.  Moments later, the floating pyramid disintegrated a 5' x 7' chunk of starship ceiling as it passed overhead.  Going outside, they could see it was moving away.  Now, they believed, was their chance to explore.

The PCs knew why they were here on Carcosa - find the sorcerer atop the Nameless Plateau and convince him to open a gateway to Quorta'ath, where the super-weapon resided that could defeat Isa'ac back on Cha'alt.  Quin just wanted to get off this planet, which was motivation enough for traveling with the Crimson Bastards.

They reached the plateau without any problems.  Nix checked it out first before the others joined.  A green-man sorcerer had 5 purple-men tied to 5 standing stones, and a wicked-looking curved dagger in his hand.  The PCs approached and told them what they wanted.  The sorcerer replied with what he needed from them in order to create a portal to Quorta'ath, which he'd done before.  He needed 2 more purple-men for sacrifice and his favorite concubine who was stolen from him several days ago, now in the hands of the purple-men chief.  They live in a cave about a half-day's journey from here.

Believing that sounded like a fair trade, the PCs set off with a crude map drawn in blood.  Before descending the plateau, the adventurers watched as the sorcerer, Irro, slit the purple-men throats, spattered their blood upon the stone monoliths, and invoked Tsathoggua with strange words and silly walks.

There were 3 hazards on the way to the purple-men cave.  The first was a t-rex menacing 2 orange-men.  Drogon attempted to fireball the dinosaur, but his spell backfired.  He decided to stimulate a Cha'alt X-Card, which we explained to the new guy - anytime a player wants, he can grab one of eight cards that promote a certain aspect of the campaign, of Cha'alt... eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalypse, humor, sleaze, pop-culture, and grindhouse exploitation.

Drogon's player chose humor, and had an idea about the t-rex's gas igniting the magical flame.  While we made the assumption that such a thing might have also taken place, an idea - a very Carcosan idea - suddenly came to me and I went for it.  The orange men, who were both hiding among a cluster of boulders, saw the sorcerer using his magic to take down the dinosaur.  One of them decided to aid his casting by taking out a dagger and stabbing his orange-man companion.  Sure enough, the humanoid sacrifice boosted Drogon's magic, and the t-rex ran away from the sorcerer's burst of flame.

Gorra attempted to lay on hands and save the orange-man's life, which he did.  Both orange-men were grateful and pledged their lives to Drogon, Gorra, and to the adventuring party.  All this prompted the PCs to ask themselves why magic in Carcosa is fueled by ritual murder.  The prevailing theory, posited by Jua'an, was that these crayon-colored people must have angry souls and releasing that energy somehow powered sorcery.

A few of the PCs wondered aloud what was going on in this world, which led to the angry soul theory.  Quin speculated that the shining tetrahedron, seemingly separate from the Old Ones, might be keeping the inhabitants of Carcosa in an artificially barbaric state - monitoring from the sky and disintegrating forms of high-technology, etc.

Continuing on, the PCs stumbled upon the outskirts of a green-man village.  Three women were picking berries and putting them into wicker baskets.  These startled gatherers didn't run away, but offered the adventurers berries.  The PCs began to flirt with such stellar game as "Hey, ladies..." and "How you doin?"

I made everyone roll to see how well their seduction worked.  Quin, Jua'an, and Nix (I believe) were the lucky recipients.  Heading over to nearby shrubberies to engage in amorous activity.  Upon nutting their way to the sleaze factor-5, they continued on.

The purple-men cave in sight, they saw 500' of putrescent pits containing pools of a strange liquid that appeared colorless, then suddenly iridescent mauve, puce, and some kind of beige that glowed unnaturally.  Jua'an threw some sand into a pool.  It sizzled and bubbled.  Best to stay away.  By the time they reached the cave, they were attacked by a putrescent lurker.  It devoured Taz in one round as Quin blasted it with his makeshift plasma splicer.

Oh yeah, Quin was a level 4 mechanic and gizmo-engineer who knew his way around a blaster.

Just inside the cave, they heard stuff, so Nix went in to see what was what.  He noticed a smaller, weaker purple-man about to be killed by two muscular purple guards.  Nix blasted the guards, saving the smaller one who was named Tor.  Like the orange-men before, Tor felt duty-bound to serve Nix and the party for the rest of his days.

Since Tor lived in the purple-men village, the PCs used the guy to show them around.  He found them black robes, like gender-neutral berkas, which non-purple humanoids were supposed to wear inside their village.  

When someone asked why Tor was being persecuted, he replied "I dared suggest that numbers may exist above and beyond 37."

Tor gave them a guided tour of savagery as the PCs saw the executing of rival tribesman captured in the last raid, women being sexually aroused by tentacled horrors whose teeth had been removed (in preparation for the nightly tribe orgy), and priests doing mysterious things down a far-off cave.

Eventually, they came to the chief's personal cave.  He was out on tribe business, but there were 2 guards preventing them from entering.  The PCs, especially Jua'an, dazzled them with tantalizing tales of H.R. departments, 401 K plans, fancy new uniforms, paid time-off, dental, and they'd actually get paid... eventually.  All this if they would stop working for the purple-men chief and join the Crimson Bastard workforce.  The guards agreed, and let the PCs in.

They saw 3 women, lounging in the chief's sleeping cave.  One was only purple because the tribe had dyed her skin that color.  Irro's favorite concubine didn't really want to go back to him, as the green-man sorcerer liked to engorge him member with bile from the nigrescent crab, which doubled his size and potency, but also frequently gave her yeast infections.

While all this discussion was going on, Jua'an assumed there must be treasure around the chief's cave and started searching.  He rolled a 15(!), finding a massive, obsidian sword with an eldritch eye where the blade meets the hilt... along with an infernal sheath that resembled a bright orange-cracked rock of volcanos near bursting with hot lava.  Both of these were magical.

However, the PCs convinced her [I don't think I gave her a name, so I'll call her Jaura] that once she was delivered to Irro and he opened the gate to Quorta'ath, they would be able to abscond with her through the portal, so she'd never have to submit to the crayon-folk ever again.  She agreed, so off they went.

On the way out, they heard agonizing screams interspersed with colorful albeit disjoined prose coming from the priest cave. The party was divided on if they should investigate.  They split the party to see what was going on.  Briefly, several humanoids were being tortured by the priests who were drinking the milk of rancid moon-lotus which gave them visions.  The words between screams were used as prompts to direct the priest's visions as they wrote down what they experienced.  And those experiences would eventually become both lore and law for the purple-man tribe. 

Killing the priests, freeing the prisoners, and telling them to drink the rancid milk of the moon lotus because now they were the lore-givers, the PCs fled the cave in hopes of making a speedy dash out of these caves and back to the Nameless Plateau.  Rejoining their companions, the adventurers reached the cave mouth from whence they came.  However, it was blocked by 4 purple-men guards and a gigantic toad spawn with a thousand eyes.  The PCs would have to fight their way out!

Oh yeah, before leaving that cave where torture poetry was born (there's a Taylor Swift joke in there somewhere - find it and gain a point of Divine Favor), Gorra sipped some of the rancid milk from a moon lotus.  Nothing happened for several minutes - and you know what that means - when the effect does come, it's probably going to be a doozy!

Just prior to facing the enemy at the cave mouth, I passed a note to the sand-construct's player - "You see a purple portal in front of you... several purple tentacles beckon you inwards."  Gorra went in.

As combat commenced, Tor advised that energy weapons would be useless on the toad creature, and that Jua'an's new blade was known as the sword of the conqueror.  So, Jua'an hacked away at it, the others blasted the guards, the orange-men climbed on top of the horrid spawn punching it from above.  Nix tried to backstab the giant toad, but missed (as he would continue to miss - but thankfully the toad also kept missing him).

I passed another note to Gorra's player, "You've been having sex with purple tentacled whores for days and then exit the portal where only a few minutes have passed."  With his +5 bonus in hand, he charged into battle.

The toad scored a crit when I rolled a 15 on the attack for Quin.  He would have been at zero, if not for the +5 hit-point bonus for laying with that sexy green chick.  Meanwhile, Drogon believed his sorcery was doomed without human sacrifice, so stopped short of blasting it with a fireball.

Jua'an was the only one doing lots of damage to the creature; although, Quin had an outside-the-box idea of shooting the cavern ceiling.  His first attempt failed, but the second time he rolled a 15 and a stalactite fell down, impaling the sucker from above.  But it wasn't dead yet.  More hacking, guards coming from the rear which Drogon blasted to keep them at bay... one of the orange-men was eaten by the toad-spawn but the other landed the killing blow - punching it through an eye-socket that must have reached its brain... or better yet, putting his entire weight upon the fallen stalactite that impaled its skull.

With that, they were finally able to leave the purple-men caves towards the plateau.  That's where I decided to end things because time was up, and all the major events of the session head been dealt with.  

A number of hilarious and/or poignant things said during the game...

  • "What's your 5-year goal?  Lol, what am I talking about - this is Carcosa!  Ok, what's your 5-week goal?"
  • "Are you a God?"
  • "Do crayons have angry souls?"
  • "Roll for butt stuff."
  • "The government shall be one man and he decides who they'll go to war with."
  • "The softer side of murder-hobos."
  • "This is my journey of discovery."
  • "Red shirt or stormtrooper - who will the monster go after first?"
  • "Save a life, get a free slave!"
  • "If this is the best they've got, in 6 months we'll be running this place."
  • "I don't know what you guys are playing, but it's not D&D.  This is the craziest campaign I've ever seen."
  • "It's like Inception meets Star Gate."
  • "Was the purple tentacles, whores, and sex even real?"  "Well, It sure felt real to you."

A day or two before session 15 of the Cha'alt campaign, I ran a virtual, one-shot Cha'alt scenario on Roll20.  I'm waiting until I get another Roll20 one-shot under my belt (most likely Thursday) before I do a session report write-up of that.

Thanks for reading, hoss!


p.s. Want to find out for yourself what it's like to live in an absurd and awesome wet fever-dream of savagery, super-science, and sorcery?  Experience the magic for yourself.  Next month is VENGER CON III: Revenge of the OSR.  If you don't have your weekend badge yet, get it here!  Need the gorgeous hardcover Cha'alt trilogy?  Here you go!

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Crouching Sandworm, Hidden Glory Hole (episode 14 of the 2nd CHA'ALT campaign)


Back down to the essential 3 as our usual 4th player had a work thing out-of-town...

Drogon, Jua'an Tufrifo, and Nix.  In this simulated reality of Blue Sky on Cha'alt hyper-immersive video game, Drogon was a warrior and Jua'an a bard.  We picked-up right where we left off, exiting the purple labyrinth with Nix wearing a magnificent ring of power +3, but only when the wearer is surrounded by purple.

Just after the session re-cap, I asked the players if they wanted to do with naturally rolled 14s the same we did for 13 results last session.  Basically, making them critical successes (I reminded them that rolls of 14 mean enemies would also crit).  2 of the 3 players enthusiastically said yes, while the 3rd shrugged his shoulders and was fine either way.  So, we went ahead with it.  

And I can tell you, it went quite a bit different this session.  Last session, one person rolled a single 13 towards the end of the session, but this game saw nearly double-digits of 14s rolled throughout, making for an epic time.  So, let's get into it...

As soon as the PCs wandered out of that area, they heard sounds of men with blasters.  Apparently, the blaster-toting jiha'adists came down into the caves beneath the temple to look for survivors.  The PCs believed they could force the raiders into a tunnel choke-point and pick enough off to weaken their force.  They started shooting and soon enough, Drogon (whose player rolled a 14) critted with his blaster, taking out 3 raiders in that round.  And another PC took down a 4th.

The raiders were sufficiently spooked and ran back upstairs in an attempt to save-ass.  The PCs thought long and hard about following them up, taking the battle to the raiders, but decided against it.  Instead, they resumed their exploration, going down an alternate route to the southern tunnels and caves where they noticed little puddles of dirty yellow liquid on the cavern floor's low areas, along with an increased humidity and the scent of margaritas.

Nix had scouted the area first, but was quick not to go too far in.  Jua'an decided to experiment and I gave him odds of avoiding danger, but the dice had other plans.  A yellow-ochre pudding dropped from the cave ceiling and tried to envelop him.  The NPC (but an actual NPC from the "real world" of Alpha Blue, rather than an NPC in the Blue Sky on Cha'alt game) who was Ambassador Greaves cast a fireball at Jua'an, attempting to save him.  It worked, as the dirty-yellow pudding burned up and Jua'an took minimal damage.

The PCs headed back the long way in hopes of avoiding becoming a pudding's lunch.  At this point, a disheveled and crazed human came running down the stairs with a dagger in his hand, shouting something unintelligible.  I gave this a 50% chance of turning deadly for the man who had been taken hostage by the raiders and was simply trying to escape.  But Jua'an started playing his calming lute... and rolled a 14.  The man remembered that was the song his mother used to sing to him at night, and this relaxed him to the point where he could tell the PCs about his escape and that he wanted to join up with them until it was safe.

The PCs accepted and allowed Bernie Hutchsuck to tag along.  However, they never bothered to ask him about himself or find out why they had taken him hostage (I mean, they're jiha'adists, so...) or what he was doing on Cha'alt.  I expect that will come into play next session.

Eventually, the adventurers came to a crowd of banana-men with glowing chartreuse eyes, which implied that they were temporarily possessed by the Old Ones.  The banana-men and a few other fruitie prisoners stood on the precipice of a crater of molten lava.  They were about to sacrifice themselves so the Old Ones would have a delicious smoothie to drink after awakening.

The party's bard strummed his lute again, but this time it only made the banana-men mad.  Several of them charged up the hill to attack the PCs... but they were easily cut down as another 14-crit was rolled and the adventurers seemed as laser-firing Gods to these primitive fruit-folk.  The PCs pressed their attack, making the rest of the banana-men either flee or jump into the molten lava, which was their original plan.  The fruitie prisoners were rescued!

There were 2 strawberry-men (both named Barry), an orange female named Tanjesca, and a furry seeded raspberry kiwi abomination named Razwee.  They had just been abducted during the middle of an experiment with time, space, and other dimensions.  Apparently, there was a pineapple-man, too, but he was killed when the fruities were abducted from their own cave.  They showed the PCs the portal which Professor Pineapple had opened, and they offered the PCs a chance to look at their book containing all kinds of dimensional calculations and various names of worlds, but the remaining fruities couldn't help Drogon figure out which world this portal led to. 

There was something else in that cave - glyphs carved into the cave wall.  Something about praising the Old Ones and there was a tentacle-shaped cut deep into the stone, which Drogon assumed was some kind of ultra-telluric gloryhole.  Intrepid as they were, the PCs decided not to pursue that opportunity. 

Leaving the fruit-folk for further exploration...

Suddenly, a disembodied voice came through loud and clear saying "We interrupt your game for just a moment to remind you about Fresh Pearl toothpaste - it makes your mouth almost too clean!"

... they found a cave with 4" humanoids (tinylings) riding snails that excreted a purple dye that looked suspiciously like Tyrion Purple!  Unbeknownst to the rest of us, Drogon (sharing his player's aversion) hated snails, so he went to work smashing them with his boot, creating a small massacre, as well as, a good-sized pool of Tyrion Purple dye.  Nix, drenched all his clothing in the dye and Greaves purpled the front of his hands.

The only other thing in this cave was a blacklight poster of purple mushrooms with eyes and some eldritch glyphs on the bottom of the poster.  Drogon read the translation aloud, "Is it tomorrow or just the end of time?"  Then, the purple, many-eyed mushroom poster glimmered and looked like you could put your hand right into it - which you could.  Each of the PCs and Greaves grabbed a magic mushroom and popped it in their mouths after Jua'an had a short psionic-borne conversation with one, who said he wanted to be eaten so it would open up the imbiber's third eye.

They entered a purple velvet cave just as the purple fell away to reveal velvet lavender as 4 moons ascended and 1 descended into a pit as that moon changed into an all-seeing, 7 lobed burning eye belonging to Uma'at-Allah.  Golden worms disentangled themselves from the reality of the lavender velvet cave.  They asked "What is the nature of existence?"  And waited for a response.  Jua'an answered something like "Pain," to which the gold worms demanded for him to be honest.  And then he said something similar, as the worms replied, "I said honest!"  And Jua'an tripled down with "Suffering" or some such.

The gold worms merged to form one gigantic golden snake.  The serpent told them to ride it, so they did.  It took them through dimensions undreamt as they saw themselves in the past, entering the cave where their original journey into Cha'alt began.  The hyper-realistic simulation game hummed and beeped while they sat down.  Slowly, it took them even further back, showing the PCs as ordinary people working in an office cubicle.  Looking out of the window, it resembled Chicago circa 1999.  There's a poster of The Matrix on the wall of their shared cubicle.

They took another look outside and the sky was fuchsia.  A Great Old One slithered over the tiny streets below - the Dark God was as tall as a skyscraper.  The Matrix poster showed a banana at the forefront, now.  It disintegrated rapidly as days went by in seconds.  A humanoid wearing scarlet robes entered the office asking if they had been punished - the infidels.  The PCs answered in the affirmative.  The Old One outside devours the golden serpent as the lavender moons crack like eggs in the fuchsia sky - a glowing chartreuse ichor oozes from the broken eggs.  The zoth has eyes and it watches the tripping adventurers from below.  "There is no escape," they heard somewhere in their mind.  "This is a fallen world and it will remain so until the avenger of Qada'ath destroys the usurper."

Just before waking, the PCs saw an image seared into their mind - glyphs carved into the living rock of the lavender velvet cave.  However, these glyphs were unknown - 6th dimensional (at least), and couldn't be readily translated.

Continuing on, the PCs discovered a small library along with a couple purple priests.  Oh, but not before the PCs heard this screeching roar and thud sounds coming from above them, something on the surface was unquiet and insistent.  

After crashing through the library, they found a zita'ar player who was playing an oddly familiar song, "She'll Be Comin' 'Round The Sandworm."  The musician NPC was self-aware enough to know he was an NPC and complained that he'd been playing this song about a thousand times since the adventurers started playing Blue Sky on Cha'alt.

Around this point, a sandworm had broken through the ceiling just over the molten pool of lava, causing a cave-in.  Undeterred, the PCs continued to explore the southern caves and found a place where priests were meditating before a bronze bowl/basin and then another cave that contained 3 purple priests and 7 alien demon-worm eggs.  The PCs formulated a plan - breakfast!

The sandworm had gone into another part of the caves, so they took one of the eggs (after shooting the priests - oh, but I rolled 14 talons for the loot and so decided to roll on a special loot table, the one relating to random desert encounter treasure at the beginning of Cha'alt.  Nix now claimed a gleaming, translucent, periwinkle cube), put it in the basin (using the blue-green syrup as a cooking oil), and holding that over the molten lava to cook.  Within minutes, the PCs had all the scrambled eggs they could want.  I gave each of them their level's chance out of 100 to inherit a psionic power from eating alien demon-worm egg cooked in that weird teal syrup that tasted suspiciously like french-fries.  

By now, there was a second worm that crashed through the rock ceiling back where they had just come from.  Noticing a pattern, the PCs believed it wise to get the fuck out of these caves.  So, they headed back up to the temple above - but not before traversing the yellow-ochre puddings amongst the stalactites.  All the PCs made it out ok, but not Greaves and Bernie (back when the clipboard girl asked the PCs about their favorite movie, Jua'an replied with some weird nonsense he just made up, which the A.I. or perhaps the clipboard girl translated as Weekend at Bernie's).  However, Greaves made his saving throw.  Bernie failed and was quickly engulphed in the pudding.  Just before he was completely gone, he threw Drogon his keys saying that it's theirs, just ask the valet for him to bring it round to the front of the temple as it was parked in a very special spot, and her name is Gold-Digger.

Greaves decided to shoot a fireball up the stairs before they charged the raiders.  One of the raiders burned as they ran up the spiral staircase to see [a player stimulated the HUMOR Cha'alt X-Cards... which we haven't seen in a few sessions] the tinylings putting on a sort of show for the raiders.  It was a combination of pantomime battle between themselves and synchronized snail dancing with some red-hot gypsies thrown in for good measure... an act I decided to call Crouching Sandworm, Hidden Glory Hole.  The raiders were amused and distracted, which is all the PCs needed.  

Greaves shot-out another fireball that killed 4 of them, the PCs shot a few others, but one returned fire, filling Greaves full of laser holes, dying for the 2nd time in the game (3 strikes and you're out).  Meanwhile, Nix wanted to grab the crystal sphere containing the slutty zoth-witch that Greaves had placed inside a demon's mouth on the ivory pedestal base supporting a purple glow-orb.  So, he used a lavender demon-moon die of destiny... and rolled a 1, then he used up Drogon's point of Divine Favor, and rolled a 2, then Nix stimulated the GONZO Cha'alt X-Card and got another shot... only to roll a 2 again.  

He dived towards the ivory pedestal (that part of the floor was cracked and about to fall through into the caves below), found the crystal sphere, grabbed it - and then a giant purple sandworm with its face resembling Gonzo from the Muppets erupted through the floor and chomped on Nix.  Just before the worm's massive jaws ended his fate, he smashed the orb against his newfound gleaming cube as the ethereal energy from the orb released the zoth-witch from her imprisonment.  And then Nix was gone... but since this was Blue Sky on Cha'alt, it had merely used one of his three lives.

Nix appeared after a few seconds with his belongings still in-tact (like the gleaming cube, ring, and Tyrion Purple clothes).  

As the PCs had group sex with the slutty zoth-witch reverend mother, she imparted even more wisdom upon them.  The best possible way to reach Quorta'ath (where this ultimate weapon could be found that they needed to defeat Isa'ac) was through the savage world of Carcosa.  Then, she bestowed an eldritch glyph, similar to a zoth tattoo, upon each of the PCs and teleported herself back to her home on Cha'alt, with her slutty zoth-witch sisters.

Of the three choices, Drogon picked wisdom, Nix picked cunning, and Jua'an picked strength.  Greaves, who also had sex with her, picked a secret 4th choice as revealed to him in the Blue Sky on Cha'alt player's guide.  It was a cheat-code that got him the zoth tattoo of a banana!

It was then that Greaves became angered that the PCs had freed the witch he imprisoned in that glass sphere, but they assuaged his rage by letting him activate the device that would prevent the Old Ones from waking up to see their former servants forget about the Dark Gods which would eventually lead to the apocalypse and change Cha'alt's destiny.

As he was fiddling around with it - I had everyone roll a special d20 check to see if they picked-up on divine impressions sent out by Uma'at-Allah himself - telling them to waste that turkey, reverse the polarity, and place the device in the altar.

They shot Greaves in the back (this being his 3rd death, he did not come back), reversed the polarity, found a hidden compartment in the altar, and then decided not to find cover as they assumed that this would end the game and there'd be no need to be cautious. 

The altar vibrated and shown with awful light as it exploded.  The PCs incurred some damage as fragments of altar-stone flew by like shrapnel.  Luckily, Jua'an stood behind someone, so he took less damage than others.  

By this time, the entire floor of the temple was a big open mess.  They could see their fruitie friends down below who told them they discovered where that portal led, after all - Carcosa.

So, the PCs ventured back down, rested, had group sex with the orange female, Tanjesca, and went through the portal into Carcosa - the sky was a dim and dusky purple.  The land was interspersed with rocks, grasslands, and mud.  Up ahead was the nameless plateau that the zoth-witch had mentioned - a sorcerer would be on the edge of standing stones, about to call a suckered abomination, the sorcerer would help them get to Quorta'ath.

The plateau was about 3 miles north.  However, they also saw a recently crashed starship billowing black smoke about a half-mile northeast.  Which way, western man?  

They decided to check out the starship.  Approaching it cautiously, they came upon a man in spaceflight clothing who was rocking back and forth, talking about a shining tetrahedron that quietly passed over a hundred men, instantly killing them.  This man had clearly gone insane, and tried to run away, but Jua'an grabbed him before he could get away.  

Looting his unconscious body, the human had a purple keycard, 7 credits, and a star chart - which the PCs took for safe keeping.

As they were dealing with that, some greenish oozing creature slithered out of the starship's entrance.  The PCs blasted it before it could do much to harm them.  They went in, found a pantry locker containing spam and tang, and refreshed themselves... using the heated barrel of their lasers to get a nice sear on the spam.

That's where we ended it.  About an hour before the game, I had been looking all over for my hardcover copy of Carcosa, but couldn't locate it until an hour or two after the game when my wife told me to "look behind the milk" and there it was.  So, now I'll be mining Carcosa for ideas (along with Prince of Nothing's Carcosa session reports which start here) on how to run that for awhile - using my methods outlined in the campaign setting toolbox that is The Cha'alt Experience: Designing Worlds Like A Fucking Boss.

There was some discussion amongst the players on how real this world was.  It felt like they had taken a departure from the Blue Sky on Cha'alt game, but was this Carcosa place real?  And if they're in a game inside a game (possibly inside another game), does it matter exactly where in the inception or Cha'alt-ception they happened to be?  

A disquieting notion of game worlds merging into something in-between or something else altogether raised its strange head when they realized that most of the gear they had bought on Alpha Blue was still not with them; however, Drogon was a sorcerer again and Jua'an a warrior and thankfully no longer a bard (yet, he still retained that persona's lute skills - plus they had the ticket-stubs for their Blue Sky on Cha'alt game in their pockets.  Curiouser and curiouser.

We had a lot of laughs, too, while we were playing.  Here are a few choice words heard at the table...

  • "Touch here and praise the Great Old Ones," - "No thanks, glory holes work both ways."
  • "Snail blood-man has me questioning my life choices."
  • "Eating sentient shrooms, they ascend to a higher plane - my stomach."
  • "The tinylings have an open zita'ar case because you never know when admirers will throw their giant (by comparison to the tinylings) spare change in."
  • "He didn't notice until now?  What was Greaves doing, playing WormCrush on his cell-phone... who's your worm crush?"
  • "It's an impotence avoidance scheme."
  • "You people don't have lutes.  You're luteless.  You haven't reached enlutenment."
  • "Do no harm, the adventurers code."
  • "Looks like his dirty-yellow pudding cloak didn't last long.  Too bad, he looked snazzy in it."
  • "The french-fry taste will mix with the eggs and that bluish-green sauce... gravy, like a weird eldritch poutine."
  • "Now that you're dressed in purple and are already part clown, you could start calling yourself the clown prince of Cha'alt."
  • "He called his ship Gold Digger, not Pussy Wagon?" - "Next time, hoss.  Next time."
  • "You're a bard, so seduction and cooking are your class skills."
  • "I've never rolled on this random table before." - "Ah, then it's an inaugural table moment."

The next session will be in 2 weeks, on June 8th.  Thanks for reading!  Hope you're enjoying the wild ride.  

I'm also tentatively preparing for my Cha'alt sessions that I'll be running at VENGER CON III in July.  Go here for details and weekend badges.


Thursday, May 16, 2024

Cha'alt Ha'aiku - Contest


I was thinking about poetry on the way to drop my kids off at school this morning, and for whatever reason, haiku popped in my head.  

Why not a new form of haiku that conformed to sacred numbers in the Cha'alt mythos?  3 lines - 4 syllables, 3 syllables, and 7 syllables.  Of course, it only makes sense to use the Cha'altian spelling as the cherry on top - ha'aiku!

Since my latest book just came out, and the concept of taking something existing and warping it to serve your campaign setting needs is addressed in The Cha'alt Experience, I thought - why not make it a contest?  So, from now until Sunday afternoon you can submit a Cha'altian ha'aiku and the winner gets a free PDF of The Cha'alt Experience: Designing Worlds Like A Fucking Boss!  

It's right here if you want to check it out.

Already own it?  Well, feel free to pick out a different PDF - or get $20 off your VENGER CON III weekend badge (happening this July in Madison, WI).  But the winning submission will also get published (with full credit going to the author) in the next Cha'alt thing I self-publish.  

Where can you submit?  In a comment below, email (, or on the vlog post to the video I just made.  I will read the winner (maybe a couple honorable mentions, as well) on Sunday evening's Inappropriate Characters stream on both Rumble and X (Twitter).

Looking forward to what you come up with, hoss!


Monday, May 13, 2024

Mysterious Qada'ath - the 2nd Cha'alt campaign [episode 13]


We just finished the 13th session.  Normally, I write these session reports the day after, but tomorrow is Mother's Day, so I'm trying to get a jump on it now... and finishing Monday.

As promised, I told the players that if anyone rolls a 13 (doesn't matter what die or what it's for), they get a welcome surprise, like a critical success, or special orgasmic treat as one player put it.

The 4 core players showed up, so we had Nix the demon clown thief, Drogon the human sorcerer, Jua'an Tufrifo the crystalline warrior, and Gorra the grog priest.  Nice!

At the end of last session, I described the PCs arrival at Alpha Blue, each of them had a card loaded with 1,000 credits as a way of saying thanks from the starliner's captain.

Recapping why they were there, I reminded them they promised to free the slutty zoth-witch imprisoned in a glass orb by Ambassador Tarrant Greaves and punish that Federation bastard who kidnapped their reverend mother back on Cha'alt several years ago.  

He's here on Alpha Blue doing official Federation business.  The PCs used their A.I. rubix cube, Artemis-5 to track the Ambassador.  He was in sector teal-5, so that's where they went.  The PCs found themselves in a government building as spectators, watching the Ambassador and a dozen other politicos at a government hearing.

Oh yeah, before leaving the central hub, I described the dealers, grifters, pushers, pimps, and opportunistic lowlifes hanging around, eyeing up the new arrivals.  Gorra approached one, asking if they were holding any blue glass.  A guy nodded, gesturing for him to enter a storage closet about 40-feet from his companions.  Inside, was a beautiful prostitute nicknamed blue glass because she was literally made of a bluish hued glass.

However, instead of having sex, he decided to play 17-dimensional chess with her, instead.  I didn't have my random table handy (BTW, if you want to introduce the game of 17-dimensional chess to your players, it's contained within my new book The Cha'alt Experience, wherein I divulge how the campaign setting sausage is made) and nothing was really at stake, so just decided the winner by a single die roll.

Gorra asked around to see if anyone else knew the Ambassador.  There was a politics groupie who filled them in.  Tarrant Greaves was the head official assigned to Cha'alt.  Today, he was proposing Initiative 57, which would outfit A'agrybah (and soon other cities on the planet) with an A.I. surveillance, tracking, and law enforcement system.  Something that most Cha'alt natives would find abhorrent.  

Gorra had a plan, which was to act like they were siding with the Ambassador and Federation.  He went up to speak as a Cha'alt native about the proposed initiative in favor of it.  Even though, he did pretty good, both player and character realized this was an off-the-cuff political speech and probably not as persuasive or detail-oriented as if reading something prepared.  Either way, I couldn't help playing this clip right after he walked back to the viewing gallery (definitely unfair, but too hilarious to pass up).  On a more serious note, this caught the Ambassador's attention, and then later Nix sent a communication to him about helping him carry out their Federation plans.

The Ambassador replied, asking them to meet him at his lavish quarters in sector cerulean-6 two hours from now for a special meeting.  

Earlier, Artemis asked the PCs to take him to a shop where his size could be reduced.  The PCs paid for that, so he was as small as a d6.  Back to the present, the PCs had time to kill, so they dropped Artemis off at sector magenta-7 so they could buy high-tech gear at navy-blue-3.

A shopping spree commenced, as the PCs bought a laser chain-sword, syringe launcher, personal shielding modules, camo cloak, holographic disguise kit, and a laser bolo that doubles as a bow-tie.

They picked-up Artemis as the hooker gave him back to the PCs along with 2 credits and a blue-stained talon (out of the 100 credits they gave him).  Artemis had a very fulfilling time as he had been inserted into 3 different women while the PCs went shopping.

At the Ambassador's private apartment, the PCs were given lavish treatment and told that if they helped him get Initiative 57 off the ground, they'd be rewarded with power, money, women, and made leaders of whatever city or realm on Cha'alt that they wished.  

Greaves showed them a scroll with fancy rods.  This scroll was called Originem Sanctum Sanctorum (stolen from Cha'alt on his last visit; probably worth tens of thousands of credits) and revealed that Cha'alt is the true center of the universe and everything originated on that planet.  Additionally, the prophecy states that the final battle for the fate of the universe will take place on Cha'alt.  

The Ambassador promised to give the PCs the scroll once they had done as he wished.  But for now, he wanted them to go live it up at the local casino where he had influence.  He gave them money, special passes, and told them to use his name to get anything they wanted.  

They took him up on his offer.  I asked each player to come up with one thing that they did while having the night of their lives, curious about what they'd say, I used this as an opportunity to both utilize their agency in full-on, albeit temporary, storygame mode while also crowdsourcing the living story of our campaign.  

Jua'an came up with a congo line of crystalline women (including the blue glass hooker from earlier) with every shade of color represented - even a couple hues that don't exist, like burnt-jale and pallid superviolet, at the apex, standing on the bar was Jua'an himself imbuing all of them with light from the disco ball above so they made a kind of electric rainbow.

Nix got a suite with 3 hookers, and asked Artemis to modify the holographic disguise device he just bought earlier that day to make him look just like Ambassador Greaves.

Gorra simply wanted to jump off the balcony into a pool of water.  

Drogon played several hands of Arcturus Hold'em and through a combination of luck and manipulation won 1,200 credits with a royal flush.

In addition, the Crimson Bastards (as the PCs are sometimes known) bought a small, used, but not a total piece of junk starship called The Serendipity.  This was a way of draining the Ambassador's line of credit more than an exit strategy, but it's always smart to have one of those, too.

Just before dawn, the PCs ran into the 3 NPCs they met on the S.S. Vernice starliner - Goldie, Grape, and UX-45.  As a way of saying sorry for getting the PCs mixed up in their dark zedi business, they gave away tickets to a newish interactive, hyper-realistic virtual video game called "Blue Sky on Cha'alt."  They stole the tickets, so what the Hell, right?

After sleeping off the night of their lives, they awoke to Artemis telling them the whereabouts of the Ambassador - he was playing in that Blue Sky on Cha'alt game.  Believing this to be an ideal opportunity to sha'ank him when vulnerable, the PCs decided to pay him a little visit.  

Upon entering the gaming facility, they each received a neck injection to inoculate themselves from possible computer viruses.  After that, each member of the party was eased into a suspended animation game-pod and hooked-up to various cords and cables as they began to feel sleepy.

Just before the lids closed on their game-pods, I had a clipboard jockey ask them each a question, referencing Total Recall.  Favorite food and/or drink?  Worm wine.  Favorite type of prostitute?  Asian.  Favorite movie: Hutchsuckabust (of course).  Favorite color?  Tyrian purple.  I already worked the prostitute angle into this session, coming up a bit later, but will have to be mindful of those choices for session 14 in a couple weeks.

Before they knew it, the PCs were back on Cha'alt, but this time in an A.I. generated video game - which is even more weird when you consider that the campaign started when the PCs entered a Cha'alt virtual reality simulator from the get-go.  So, now they're guys in a video game to play Cha'alt who went to a space station somewhere in the galaxy to enter another video game in order to be on Cha'alt again.

Sure enough, the Ambassador was there - but either the PCs look different through his eyes or they look the same and the Ambassador realizes the game itself is mining his subconscious mind for Cha'alt details it can use in order to make this simulation as accurate or Cha'altian as possible.

Now, the PCs are ushered into the Temple of the Purple Worm in Kra'adumek.  The High Priest tells everyone present (the PCs, Ambassador, and various other players and NPCs) that he has a device that can reverse the apocalypse, causing Cha'alt to remain the idyllic paradise it was hundreds of years ago, as the Old Ones remain asleep and not pissed-off that their former worshipers had forgotten all about them.

They all stand in a circle - surrounding a large purple sphere that glowed purple and sat upon an ivory base carved with demonic faces - and are told to meditate, emptying their mind amidst the blackness of the void and prepare to ka'amshuk the grusyla'ag which everyone but Gorra knew meant "tentacle rape."  Be reassured that its literal translation only occasionally means physical penetration of a sexual nature by tentacle.  Frequently, ka'amshuk the grusyla'ag refers to receiving some sort of dark truth or unsettling knowledge which one does not want to know.

However, in this case, there was also the very real risk of being raped by one or more tentacles.

As the PCs meditated, they saw translucent magenta ooze flowing from basalt obelisks and obsidian towers - shadowy entities lurking in the lurid gloom.  Suddenly, a brilliant white light shines in the darkness - a glaive with 3 of its 7 taloned fingers embedded in a black altar.  The more intense their gaze, the stranger they feel.  Zoth slowly trickles from where the glaive is embedded in the black altar.  As the PCs felt the gentle caress of a tentacle sidle up to their backsides, the ceremony was interrupted by shouting - commotion in the temple!

Raiders toting blasters burst through the doors of the temple to kill all the infidels trying to subvert the Old Ones' will.

Ambassador Greaves ran behind a pillar that was conveniently located near a spiral staircase going down.  After trading shots with the raiders, the Ambassador and PCs headed down the stairs to evade being slaughtered.

Once down there, the PCs noticed 3 purple bars running across their forearm but weren't sure what to make of that.  Soon enough, they encountered a violet ooze with insectoid claws.  The Ambassador blasted it with a fireball but critically failed and did either 15 or 7 points of damage (depending on saving throws) to the entire party.  The Ambassador went up in flame.  The PCs attacked it themselves, asking if they still had their same skills and equipment.  

Shortly after the combat, Ambassador Greaves rose like a phoenix from his ashes with only 2 bars on his forearm remaining.  If the Jumanji (remake) reference didn't click, then I don't know what to tell you.

I told them that their simulated experience in the game was based on their own subconscious mind that the A.I. was scanning and utilizing.  After some back and forth discussion, Jua'an the crystalline warrior decided to become a bard.  Drogon, formerly a sorcerer, became a warrior, while Nix and Gorra remained themselves.  And all the adventurers had the same equipment they'd have on their character sheets prior to coming to Alpha Blue.

In a tunnel, the PCs saw a corpse lying on the ground with a pained expression on his face.  Jua'an began looting the body - only to find that a purple fungus had bred some tentacles of its own that attacked!  Jua'an the bard took some bludgeoning as the rest of the party attacked and soon dispatched it.  They discovered a walnut sized ruby and a map on the corpse.

Further on, the PCs ran into a cat-snake (if you've played through Beneath Kra'adumek in the first Cha'alt book, some of these encounters will be familiar).  Those three beautiful women (in that cat-snake illustration) were also present.  They tried and failed to slay the beast, so the PCs ventured in and attacked.  

Only 2 rounds into the encounter, Gorra was bit by the snake and I had him roll a saving throw - which was the one and only 13 of the night.  He amazingly turned into sand at the last minute, which made the cat-snake bite its own tongue.  Then I rolled a saving throw for the creature's poisonous bite... and rolled a 1.  So, it died immediately.  

The warrior babes, Asian features but with melon-heavy breasts, were so grateful for Gorra's vanquishing of the cat-snake that they thanked him the only way they knew how.  In the meantime, Jua'an the bard decided to compose a song on his bladed lute.  I handed him the lyrics to Great Purple Worm of Cha'alt  and he began to sing (even though he didn't know the Smelly Cat song from FRIENDS).  Walking away with their mouths resembling glazed donuts (Gorra shall be henceforth known as the Peter North of Cha'alt), the PCs took the beast's loot and continued on.

As they walked, Greaves revealed that the last time he played Blue Skies of Cha'alt, he hid an object that he'd taken from the real Cha'alt somewhere inside the ivory base supporting the purple orb casting its illumination across the temple's ritual chamber.  Presumably, this was the glass sphere containing the slutty zoth-witch the PCs were sent here to free.  As an interesting aside, Greaves speculated that the A.I. would have a better or easier time replicating Cha'alt authentically if it had something real (not simulated) from Cha'alt inside of the game-space.

Finally, they came to a dead-end cave that contained a massive purple stone statue of the demon-worm adorned with glowing veined amethyst gems.  Figuring out how to open a secret passage, the PCs went into a strange realm of purple glass with violet mist clinging to the floor.  They followed a serpentine path until coming to a threshold filled with undulating purple tentacles.  Within that tentacular mass was a magic ring.  Nix rolled well enough to take the ring without getting struck with a tentacle.

This was a ring of power.  When worn, the ring provides a +3 bonus to all rolls when the ring-wearer is mostly surrounded by purple.  

Additionally, there was a mural painted on the wall.  Our middle child was feeling restless as usual, so she talked me into drawing with her earlier in the day.  I drew something that was inspired by Cha'alt so I could use it in the game (I call this two tentacles, one vial of zoth-based lube).  Once Drogon deciphered the eldritch glyphs upon the mural, I told him what they read...

Fuchsia and chartreuse, haunting Cha'alt... strange and eternal.

The struggle is real.  Conscious suffering; salvation

Several will awaken from the darkness, bathed in fire

And they shall inherit Cha'alt, for their sins.

That's where we stopped because we ran out of time.  This was a wild, sprawling adventure that, now I look back on it, seems streets ahead (sectors ahead?) of sessions I used to run years ago.  So, hopefully the players are enjoying the campaign as much as I am.

A lot of funny, interesting, or cool lines were heard at the table...

  • "Are we being farmed by the game's A.I. for our experiences on Cha'alt?"
  • "Perhaps that's why you were introduced to the Cha'alt game from the very beginning?  Cha'altception, hoss!"
  • "This is Ba'azarius, Demon Lord of the Night Clowns - do you need help implementing Initiative 57 in A'agrybah?  If so, let me be instrumental in your grand design!"
  • Jua'an began wearing the feathered hat picked-up from the cat-snake's lair simply because he now identified as a bard.  Inside the hat was a sewn-in tag that read "The Pussy Mutilator - available from the pick-up artist emporium."
  • "If Artemis catches a computer virus from his two hours with those whores, we better take him to the Geek Squad."
  • Anytime the PCs wanted to go somewhere on Alpha Blue, it became whatever they wanted R us.  So, a whore house was Whores R Us and a weapons shop was Weapons R Us.
  • "You've heard of uber?  Well, this is Uber Arsenal, they can bring the weapons to you.  Their motto is - guns on the go!"
  • "If you want transport to somewhere on Alpha Blue, just take a Johnny Cab."

Thanks for reading, hoss!  In 2 weeks, we'll be back with more Cha'alt action.  If you like what's going on, post a comment down below.


p.s. You're running out of time to game with us at VENGER CON III: Revenge of the OSR July 19th - 21st in Madison, WI.  Grab your weekend badge now!  How about that gorgeous hardcover trilogy of Cha'alt books, huh... huh?  Ordering info here.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Ultra-Minimalist Crimson Dragon Slayer


This is a layout challenge!

For my friend and awesome artist's (who worked on the Cha'alt webcomic Under Fuchsia Ska'ai and illustrated a couple pieces for The Cha'alt Experience) Italian zine, I came up with a truncated version of my Advanced Crimson Dragon Slayer rules.  It's down to just 2 or 3 pages.

And I must say, I'm quite proud of it.  I think it distills the essence of what the OSR means to me.  Fun, fast-paced, D&D in arcade mode!

I'm offering it to anyone who wants to do their own layout and create a PDF to give away at their own webstore, platform, storefront, or wherever.  Got a crazy idea in mind?  Now's your chance to show the world what you can do.  Maybe just to hand out to their own players?

Want to visually dazzle folks?  Go ahead, do a Mork Borg thing or something crazy.  Want to make it super old-school like it was typed up on Gary's typewriter?  Sure, why not?  You can make it look however you want.

But let's say you want to alter the text; ask me first and if I approve of the change, it's fine.  You can even change the name, as long as you keep at least one of the three words in the title... Crimson, Dragon, and/or Slayer.

Ok, if you want the word doc, let me know.  My email is:

I look forward to seeing what you can do with this challenge, hoss!



p.s.  It's now up on DTRPG!!!  The Cha'alt Experience: Designing Worlds Like A Fucking Boss.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

The CHA'ALT Song


Great Purple Worm of Cha’alt


Kra’adumek, Kra’adumek

There’s no defeating you

Kra’adumek, Kra’adumek

Great Purple Worm of Cha’alt


Basking ‘neath twice the sun

Demonic alienage oblivion

Your cultists shanghai purest maids

Aphrodisiac squeezed from power-slaves


Freakazoids and protocol droids

Wandering deserts endless void

Skinemax on every screen

Your cosmic horror means everything


Kra’adumek, Kra’adumek

There’s no defeating you

Kra’adumek, Kra’adumek

Great Purple Worm of Cha’alt


I’m fading fast get out my mind

Your call, my destiny intertwined

Veined and swollen as violet ice

Frozen still their sacrifice


From S’kbah dunes to Chartreuse Sea

The madness reaches infinity

It’s cold as Hell, just like Hoth

Sorcerer-priests trace glyphs of zoth


Kra’adumek, Kra’adumek

There’s no defeating you

Kra’adumek, Kra’adumek

Great Purple Worm of Cha’alt


Beyond death yet so alive

Melding minds into your hive

Psion rays are here to stay

Lavender moons, it’s just a phase


Polar vortex not enough I fear

Three-lobed burning eye, my dear

Like a purple banana about to jizz

On our peanut butter & jelly sandwiches


Kra’adumek, Kra’adumek

The prophecies shall end you

Kra’adumek, Kra’adumek

Stars are right but that’s not your fault


This song was written by Kyle Bannog and Venger Satanis to the tune of "Smelly Cat" by Phoebe on FRIENDS. If you want to hear it performed in the most amateur way possible, here it is.



 p.s.  Will I see you at the most based RPG-focused convention in existence this July at a really nice hotel in Madison, WI?  I hope so.  VENGER CON III: Revenge of the OSR is going to be an entire weekend of old-school, OSR, and traditional gaming.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Mysterious Qada'ath [CHA'ALT campaign, session 12]


This week, we had only 3 players.  Drogon the human sorcerer, Gorra the grog (sand construct) priest, and Juan Tufrifo the crystalline warrior.  

They leveled-up, and I asked them to each check out Cha'alt Ascended [free download here] for special abilities and feats.  Each PC would pick one based on either their class, race, or events of the campaign.  Juan picked explosive damage (class).  Drogon picked glyph scrying (class), and Gorra picked engineer so he could become a sort of techno-priest (little by little, he'd been exposed to the high-tech universe of the Federation).

Normally, I'm prone to speeding things up, getting to the central action that I've built-up, taking care of that, and then on to the next big thing.  But for whatever reason, I decided in this session that I'd slow things down, alter the pacing of the campaign.  What if, I thought before putting pen to paper, the whole adventure took place on this luxury starliner while on their way to Alpha Blue, the space station of lust?

While that would extend the arc to more than 3 sessions, some of the narrative threads would fulfill an entire seasonal arc.  Would that make this more like a bottle episode because it's rather self-contained?  I don't know.  In the end, this session was another fun ride in the CHA'ALT campaign, so let's dive in.

I assumed that when the PCs looked up at the big monitor at the starport connecting-gate, trying to find the right flight for them, they saw a "3" on the travel time column and assumed it would be a 3-hour flight to Alpha Blue, which is definitely possible with light-speed or faster-than-light drive.  However, this particular joyride, on the S.S. Vernice, was a Weyland-Yutani pleasure cruise around the more scenic parts of the galaxy, and was scheduled to take 3 standard days.

After the PCs woke up from their post-coital nap involving the female passenger, Kassy and the obsidian dildo, they found a note.  Kassy thanked them for the good time and VIP treatment, but after waking up, she realized the washer/dryer wasn't working properly and switched rooms, so the adventurers could keep this one all to themselves. 

Before I forget, the PCs had a collective dream, as is common on Cha'alt and among natives of the planet... does it have something to do with the free-flowing zoth?  Perhaps.  I'll transcribe it below...

"You're dreaming about the slutty zoth-witches - open desert, twin suns, fuchsia sky, purple-veined worm that's about to enter a chocolate cave, but the cave is too small for the worm's head.  The purple-veined worm secretes an oily, chartreuse syrup that glows feverishly in the inhospitable desert heat.  The worm goes for the cave, breaching it.  The worm seems to be moving through time and space.  In its wake, a portal opens, leading to Quorta'ath, the dimension of gelatinous horrors and unbidden flesh.  A translucent magenta ichor oozes over an obsidian landscape, pink tentacles reach out... slippery, undulating; they find loathsome purchase upon your seven souls - and then you wake."

This didn't happen until the end of the session, but it'll make more sense if I explain it now.  The sex-magic performed by the zoth-witches provided the adventurers with knowledge of how to access Quorta'ath.  However, those specific memories won't be consciously available until after their task is performed.  A sneaky way of getting the PCs to fulfill their end of the deal before the witches reveal the crucial information.

Once their sister-witch has been freed from the ambassador on Alpha Blue, they'll know exactly how to find the way to Quorta'ath.

Shortly after reading the note and getting themselves situated, there was a knock at the door.  A neighbor in the suite next to them came over to borrow a cup of atomized sugar.  While he was there poking around their kitchen, he asked them who they were and what they did, reciprocating by telling them he was Professor Parsley, a botanist who perfected a sophisticated light array that could be used to help agriculturally poor ecosystems.  

As he was leaving, the PCs heard people in the hallway on their way to the cafeteria.  I reminded them that they hadn't eaten in quite some time and were starved.  They followed the crowd (on the way, spotting a casino room where they'd have Arcturus Hold'em in the evenings) and reached the cafeteria... but without bracelets that needed to be scanned before entering.  There were 3 passenger bracelet grades, tangerine, teal, and light-blue.

Several ideas were bandied-about on how to acquire bracelets.  Thankfully for everyone aboard, the PCs chose trickery rather than ultra-violence.  They convinced a small group of tangerine-banded passengers who were still drunk from the night before (it was about noon right now) that they'd won some free upgrade comps.  So, just give them the bracelets so they can load them up.  They agreed to meet them a bit later at the bar.

Putting on the bracelets, they went into the cafeteria to have lunch.  "Welcome back, Dr. Hennessey."  Welcome back, Kotter."  "Welcome back, Mason-Dixon."  These, presumably were the new identities the PCs had assumed.  

After washing-up (I used my own recent experiences on a cruise ship as a guide), they went through the buffet line to see what was available to eat and drink, such as a hot-pink fruit salad in jello with marshmallows.  Next to that was a heated bowl of blue gravy, a station of hot pear slices, protein-enriched gray stuff (someone behind them said, "Try the gray stuff, it's delicious."), followed by sweet breads.  Everyone had a choice between new-coke (syrupy piss-water), Purple Prizm (the only alcoholic drink available), and milk-fizz (which tasted like a cream soda).  

Much different than the worm-based cuisine they were used to, the PCs took a bit of everything and sat down to give stuff a try.  While seated, they overheard a conversation at the table next to them.  Words and phrases like containment facility, cryo-hibernation chamber, alien specimen, and something about giving the dark nebula a wide berth.

Looking over, they saw the three people seated - a scientist, a corporate stooge, and a starliner officer.  Just before finishing their meal, the people at the next table stood up and the starliner officer shook his head wondering how in the Hell the corporate stooge, Bachmann, convinced the captain to let that thing aboard.  He also mentioned that anything can happen in a dark nebula and the ship's insurance wouldn't allow them to go directly into it with this kind of cargo aboard.

Seeing opportunity among the mysterious circumstances, the PCs decided to follow Bachmann, the corporate stooge.  They accosted him in the hallway outside the cafeteria.  He turned out to be a colorful fellow who had traded the captain a ka'alaxian crystal in order to look the other way, since taking alien lifeforms of a certain size off-world is restricted by the Federation.

They went back to Bachmann's room to continue the conversation, which Gorra decided to record.  I wasn't sure if the PCs would have had the time or wherewithal to acquire communicators since their fuchsia tentacled butterfly resurrection, so gave him a 2 in 6 chance of having a new communicator on him (which he successfully rolled).

Turns out that Bachmann really wanted the ka'alaxian crystal back.  So, he asked the PCs to do a little switcheroo.  They would replace the ka'alaxian crystal in the Captain's quarters with a fake but similar looking hunk of greenish quartz.  And in exchange, he agreed to pay them 100 credits each.

The PCs took the job, but had to come back in an hour.  By then Bachmann's forgery guy would have a duplicate keycard for the Captain's quarters.  Curiously, that was around the time that the S.S. Vernice would be passing by the dark nebula.

I think they went back to their room to rest and figure things out before going back to Bachmann's room.  Long story short, the PCs managed to enter the Captain's quarters, swap the crystals, and Gorra (who became a trail of stealing sand) managed to convince a rubik's cube named Artemis-5 to come with them and enjoy a life of thievery and shenanigans.

Oh yeah, the PCs also went to the containment facility, sneaking in as repair men (Gorra's techno-priest abilities came in handy).  They took a look at the Cha'alt star-spawn frozen in there at -111 degrees, and shuddered... not just because of the cold.

Meanwhile, Drogon and Juan could feel the ship changing course.  Shortly after, the lights started flickering and they could see they were heading directly into the dark nebula.

Before panic set in, the PCs went to the casino which opened up early due to the space turbulence and occasional power loss.  

They ran into the same 3 NPCs (in a way) from the GaryCon CHA'ALT scenario - Goldie the gold-skinned female humanoid, Grape the purple space-ape, and UX-45 a droid all sitting around a table, playing Arcturus Hold'em with the dealer.  The PCs joined them, but before long, they were interrupted by a zith lord's apprentice who wanted revenge on the trio of NPCs for murdering his master.  Similar excuses as before, Goldie had period cramps, Grape had a Blue Balls injury, and the droid had assassin's elbow.  They made their excuses and scrammed out of there, leaving the PCs to fend for themselves as the apprentice drew his laser-sword.

Drogon used a spell to dominate him (I rolled poorly on the save) and made him stab himself in the heart.  They stole his keycard and went to his room (info provided by the eccentric but extremely useful Artemis-5), finding a zith holocron and a fancy black cloak which Gorra donned.

About this time, the PCs asked Artemis-5 [being a pop-culture stand-in for Orac on Blake's 7] if he could reroute power to the containment facility where the alien specimen was currently frozen.  He tried to do so, but the dark nebula was creating a lot of interference.  

Eventually, there was a riot at the life-pods (not enough escape pods to go around), Bachmann revealed his plans - he was secretly the High Priest of some xenomorph cult and had stolen the alien from a subterranean temple on Cha'alt where a xenomorph had laid an egg and burst through the chest of a servitor of the Old Ones, grown nearly full-size, and captured by the corporate stooge.  Bachmann wanted to fly the S.S. Vernice into a black hole in the center of the dark nebula and ride the star-spawn to the tentacled bosom of Yog-Soggoth or some such.

Realizing Bachmann was probably mad, they tried to stop him and his creature, the star-spawn also known as Yegwa'az, had escaped hibernation and was on the loose, in the dark, devouring people and souls.

The PCs knew that they needed firepower, and that light would be their best weapon against the ultra-telluric creature.  Aha, Gorra realized - Professor Parsely and his super-light could be used against the star-beast!

They rounded him up and his light, then went after the creature, getting its attention with a whoopie cushion, throwing a blue-stained talon at it, and calling it like a kitty-cat.  It had a fair amount of magic resistance and regenerative properties - which were stymied by the harsh light blasted at the thing - but the PCs wittled it down as Gorra took 2 nasty tentacle attacks, the second a crit putting him at negative 5 HP.  2 more points of damage and he would have been dead.  They asked Artemis if he'd try to blow the thing out the fucking airlock.  He tried, but failed.  

Since their techno-priest was unconscious and Drogon down to his last spell (after a successful fireball), It was up to Juan to save the day by both blasting it with the plasma bazookoid (needing 2 rounds of inactivity to fully recharge) and the next round grabbing Gorra's blaster and firing both while Drogon gave away his fuchsia stone Divine Favor to mitigate the Disadvantage of two-weapon fighting.

They were successful, splattering the star-beast all over the place.  Bachmann tried to make his escape while promising revenge, so the PCs killed him.

Upon agreeing to never fly on this particular cruise line again and not to discuss what happened with anyone, the S.S. Vernice gave each adventurer a blue card loaded with 1,000 credits each so they could have a great time on Alpha Blue.  They debarked from the starliner and headed deeper into the space station of lust.

That's where we ended things.  We talked about laser-scrying glyphs onto Juan's crystalline body, Forgers R Us, the Crimson Bastards turning Bachmann's head into a crimson mist, "We do have a whoopie-cushion," to which I replied "Fine bait for the star-spawn!" and a sandquarium.  

There was some time at the end, and the 4 of us discussed what would happen if everyone died (again), individual PC death (just roll up a new character or play him as a scarred remnant of his former self), my personal abhorrence for railroads, structured (with guardrails) vs sandbox play, and my GM style that tries to accommodate for as much player agency along with PC choice as humanly possible, etc.

Next time, I'd like a less structured session, so will work on some more random tables for Alpha Blue adventuring.  I've got 3 weeks to come up with stuff, since I'll be on a family vacation very soon.  

Oh, and coincidentally, I was finally able to convince our two older girls to watch Alien last night, for the first time, hours after the game concluded.  Danielle was there, too.  My wife had seen that movie with me twice since we'd been together, but couldn't remember much about it.  I think last night was the only time she stayed awake for the end.  Hey, 3rd time's the charm.  I must be in double-digit territory by now because I love Alien, and Aliens even more... if that's possible.

I love to read your feedback, so if you have questions, comments, or want to say anything at all, say it down below!


p.s. You're running out of time to get your weekend badge for the most exclusive, old-school, anti-woke roleplaying game convention in the entire universe.  Of course, I'm talking about VENGER CON III: Revenge of the OSR this July in Madison, WI.  And if you want your very own CHA'ALT hardcover trilogy of books, get 'em here!