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!

Monday, April 15, 2024

Mysterious Qada'ath [CHA'ALT campaign, session 11]


Every once in awhile, there's a session that shakes things up.  The sleeper must awaken, and all that.

The adventurers experience a setback that almost sort of actually resulted in a TPK, not to be confused with TPJ or total party jellybeans.  

Sit back, hoss, and let the events of last Saturday's game wash over you like slutty, zoth witch-juice!

The 4 core (as they shall henceforth be known) showed up to play, so allow me to recap the PCs involved: Drogon the human sorcerer, Nix the demon/clown thief, Juan Tufrifo the crystalline warrior, and Gorra the grog (sand construct) priest.

We left off with the party confronting a clown obscenity wielding an oversized multi-bladed spear, all the edged weapons fused to the end of this long, thick iron bar was incredibly heavy.  Difficult to swing, but potentially deadly if a blow lands.

The first round, Drogon cast mirror image to create several illusionary aspects of himself, which worked out because Drogon was targeted 3 times during the battle and only 1 landed on the authentic sorcerer.

Juan put the neon banana sign around his neck and wade into battle, missing the clown-thing, but striking his heavy weapon, cutting it in two.  Next round, the clown obscenity grabbed Juan as his clown head and mouth enlarged (kind of like that scene in Psycho Goreman), showing jellybean teeth.  I rolled a crit, Juan failed his save, and he turned into a giant bacon-flavored jellybean.

It took another round or two for Juan's companions to finish off the clown.  Gorra eventually peppered it with over a hundred rounds like that massive gattling-gun in Predator.  The obscenity's body, or what was left of it, leaking teal, tangerine, emerald-green, pink, and darkest periwinkle slime from his many, many wounds. 

They looted his lurid corpse taking a few unused balloons, jellybeans (clown currency), and an endless rainbow handkerchief tied around a rubber chicken's neck.

After a 20 minute ritual performed by Gorra [I rolled, but no random encounters], Juan [wait... why aren't we calling him Jua'an?] was restored to his natural state... but with a small bite taken out of his right calf.  Yeah, that crispy bacon crumble did smell good.

Juan decided to hang the neon banana sign in this cave to mark the occasion and the fact that he was there and survived.

Further on (the PCs were exploring a chartreuse-illuminated system of caves found underneath the tower of black glass at the center of Qada'ath), Nix scouted ahead to see a cave containing a sparkling-fuchsia tentacled butterfly with a 1-foot wingspan.  It lighted on Nix's outstretched hand and he brought it back to the others.  The butterfly flitted around, landing on all 4 members of the party, but careful not to get too close to the sorcerer's spider familiar Ta'anzo.

Juan Tufrifo and Drogon knew of this butterfly and what it represented in various prophecies - it symbolized everlasting life that would lead the righteous towards resurrection.  Those who do not fear death so much that they shrink from life, shall live again.

Going back to search the rest of that cave, Nix found an 8-inch tall pyramid of rocks at the far corner.  Digging through it, he found a handful of blue-stained popsicle sticks.  A player asked if they had any writing on the sticks, so we came up with a couple little sayings like "Stick it to the man" and "Anything's possible in Cha'alt."  Pocketing them, the PCs moved on, now realizing that their fuchsia butterfly was gone.

The next cave explored contained a human named Inrro who asked if they wanted to play a game where he hid a small, colorful rock under 4 tortoise shells and Juan had to guess which one it was under.  Not wanting any funny business, the crystalline warrior insisted that Inrro use a different rock and then checked his hands after the shells had been moved.  Everything seemed on the up and up, but Juan lost a couple of his popsicle sticks.  

Apparently, Inrro was trying to raise enough money to book passage off-world.  He was trying to get to Alpha Blue in order to perform some kind of mission for the slutty zoth-witches who lived elsewhere in this cave system.  Seeing a golden opportunity, the PCs asked Inrro if he'd be interested in earning a lot more money and a spot with them aboard a starship to Alpha Blue if the NPC agreed to be their meat-shield.  Not exactly sure what a meat-shield was, Inrro enthusiastically accepted.  

Moving to a larger cavern, the adventurers noticed an organic light pattern coming from behind the rock walls.  They had never witnessed this phenomenon themselves but had heard about it - chartreuse shadows.  Deciding not to get too close, they eventually waded into a sea of fresh bodies - nearly a dozen corpses either burned alive or hacked apart.

Inrro and Gorra went straight through the corpses, the others went around.  The sand construct tried to loot any of the bodies, but alas they'd already been picked clean of valuables.  

In another cave, they found a swirling portal of energy guarded by a human.  Through the portal was some kind of "forgotten realm" of typical pseudo-medieval fare.  Gorra stuck his head through, witnessed the blue sky, grassy plains where horses grazed, and a village up the path ahead, then told the PCs what a horrible place it was, sky like azure flame.

They pumped the guard for information, finding out that a black armored warrior named Meatzgron and merlin-styled wizard named Kazahn routinely explored various worlds in order to loot them.  And it was they, indeed, who killed all those dudes in that cavern. 

They next came to a bridge going over a zoth stream that flowed underground.  Nix noticed something in the zoth and pulled it out as he was filling up the clown's balloons with the chartreuse ichor of the Old Ones.  It was a sign that read "Lol, sucka'az!"  Believing this to be foreshadowing of some kind of trap, they investigated the area, but found nothing.

Then, the PCs found the slutty zoth-witches who engaged in ritual sex-magic with them as Nix drizzled his newly acquired zoth over their slutty witch bodies.  The witches knew why they'd come (haha), they sought a way to Quorta'ath... realm of gelatinous horrors and unbidden flesh.  In exchange, the zoth-witches asked them to track down a Federation ambassador named Tarrant Greez who, the last time he visited Cha'alt, purchased a device that imprisoned one of the zoth-witches in a glass sphere.  The witches wanted the ambassador assassinated and the glass orb (or zoth-witch, I suppose) brought back to them.  Tarrant Greez's last known whereabouts was Alpha Blue.

After the sex-magic, they smelled something at the back of the cave - it was BBQ pulled-pork with a buffet table set-up... sweet, spicy, and tangy with gold body glitter.  Inrro advised the PCs to eat up, as he tasted it last time he was here, and definitely try the queso and tortilla chips.

Taking their leave of the slutty zoth-witches, the party encountered a pair of midnight-elves who'd found a nook high up in a cave.  They tried to shoot the PCs with crossbow bolts, but they missed.  Gorra pretended he was a crossbow inspector and somehow convinced them to let him come up and check the place out.  After getting a little information, he left and the adventurers went into a cave just as Meatzgron and Kazahn (along with 5 or 6 additional guards) were coming into it from the other way.  

A lot of cocky banter occurred from both sides.  At one point, the PCs tried the old "you know who you should really go after?  This super powerful guy who's much more of a challenge and has tons of magic items, etc." ploy.  Which, I have to give them credit for.  It worked well for them last Cha'alt campaign.  However, these guys were smarter and seasoned adventurers themselves.  

Upon realizing they couldn't simply trick them, Drogon shot a fireball at them.  The wizard Kazahn had an amulet that sucked-up the fireball.  Then it was Kazahn's turn, and he used a liquid fire wand to shoot a fireball of his own that did 20 points of damage to everyone who failed their save, and 10 for those who passed.  

I gave Inrro, the meat-shield, a chance to do something unexpectedly heroic, and sure enough, he stepped out from behind a stalagmite to engage the black knight who was charging the PCs with the biggest sword they've ever seen.  The sword was also black with glyphs up and down the blade and an alien-looking yellow eye peering out of the sword's crosspiece (where the hilt meets the blade).  This was a magic fucking sword of badassedness!

Swa'ash!  Inrro was carved in twain... with his last moments, he speculated how awesome it would have been to see Alpha Blue with his very own penis.  Then, he died.

Realizing they were out-matched, the PCs wisely decided to disengage.  They moved back, but not before Nix placed the photon detonator on the ground.  Now, this was something the PCs have had for awhile.  It's big and nasty.  A couple sessions ago, the PCs had planned to destroy the Crimson Rock of Sacrifice with it.  I recall telling them that a photon detonator would make a thermal detonator look like a Sunday picnic.

Just before Nix shot at the thing from something like 50-feet away and behind some cover, Kazahn cast a spell that would have covered the photon detonator with a shield spell in order to mitigate the blast.  I wasn't exactly sure how much protection that would have provided (I was planning to roll randomly for it), but then Drogon wanted to cast dispel magic on Kazahn's shield spell.  

"Ok, roll a d20" I said, doing the same for the NPC wizard.  Drogon's player rolled a lowly 5, and was about to spend a point of Divine Favor to re-roll when I told him not to bother.  I had rolled a 1 for Kazahn.  His shield spell was dispelled.

Not exactly sure how to tell them, I simply described a blinding flash of light and surge of heat and energy as the PCs eventually woke up in the desert, under an early morning fuchsia sky.  They had managed to work themselves out of enormous egg-sacs grown from a blooming cactus.  

Eventually, Drogon and Juan figured out that the fuchsia butterfly had pollinated their DNA with the cactus, allowing them to be grown anew... yet naked and without any of their possessions.  Yes, apparently, they had all died in that explosion... cue Keanu Reeves saying "Whoa."

Looking around, the PCs realized they were close to The Outer Settlements and started walking.  Eventually, a woman gasped while averting her eyes, then running inside to get them some blankets to cover their nakedness.  They thanked her and continued on to the Quick Stop convenience store downtown.  Talking to Dante, they got some new clothes, raided the lost in found, and decided to take over the rest of Dante's shift so he could go get laid.

The PCs also got more information on what had transpired since they were reborn.  Basically, they'd been dead for about 2 weeks.  In that time, Isa'ak took over Qada'ath and the Outer Settlements, for which he uses warlords to keep various areas of his growing Kingdom in line.  The Great Old One, Uma'at-Allah, is still floating over the city, but the Old Ones are unable to harm Isa'ak.  Also, the Federation cleared out once they realized that their lasers had no affect on the avatar of the New Gods.  One last thing, the tower of black glass toppled after some kind of explosion or cave-in below the city occurred.  

I asked each player to tell me 1 thing they found in the lost in found box, aside from 3 things that I submitted.  Drogon's player chose a bucket-hat with sombrero rim (I decided on the sombrero rim, haha), Nix's player chose a Tyrion purple feather boa (how could I say no to a call-back from earlier in the campaign), Juan decided upon a pocket-knife (I suppose the warrior in him still felt naked without some kind of weapon), and Gorra's player picked a "Doctor Who" magic or perhaps psionic... telepathic paper that would look like what the viewer assumed before glancing at it.  Being the most powerful item, I limited its power to once per day.

The other items in there were a 7 1/2 inch obsidian dildo, whoopee cushion, and a talon with weird blue stain on it.

So, Dante took off, leaving the PCs to mind the store.  Minutes later, a three-breasted prostitute came in looking for some pumpkin-spice beef jerky.  Juan, model employee that he is, went to look in the back.  He didn't find what he was looking for, but noticed a shotgun hanging on the wall with a note that read, "Use in case of emergency."

Right around then, another customer entered the Quick Stop.  This was one of Isa'ak's warlords watching over the Outer Settlements for him, Mayza'ad.  The guy was a total dick, asking for cigarettes and then sweeping them into a plastic bag which he helped himself to.  Mayza'ad was about to walk out without paying, but then Juan blasted him in the back with the shotgun.  Sputtering blood and barely able to talk as he lay dying, the PCs realized they could use more information.

The party's priest laid on hands after Mayza'ad was tied up in the back.  After a quick interrogation, the PCs got an address where he has supplies.  They went there, was let in by a half-naked woman who proceeded to sit on the couch while doing bong rips, and looted the place of weapons and petty cash.

The PCs remembered that hidden Federation base not too far away, so they hired transport to take them into the desert.  They looked around, killed a two-stinger giant scorpion, and found a few items of import... a thermal detonator, a plasma bazookoid, and a binder containing Federation records but in code which they couldn't decipher.  Taking everything with them, they took the transport to A'agrybah where they'd have an easier time getting a ship to Alpha Blue.

They figured that helping the slutty zoth-witches (even if they aren't still alive) by rescuing the one captured inside the glass sphere was their best chance at juicing-up before heading to Quorta'ath and eventually defeating Isa'ak.  Plus, who doesn't want to have some fun at the space station of lust?

The PCs arrive at A'agrybah at dawn.  However, before reaching their destination, Drogon had a dream-vision of an eldritch eye watching him as a creepy voice spoke directly to his mind, saying that his master is dead, and he seeks a new one, someone worthy of his power.

As soon as they walked through the golden gates and into the city, they saw a wanted poster for the adventurers.  500 talons reward for each of the Crimson Bastards!  The PCs did their best to disguise themselves while also drawing moustaches on those pictured in the poster.

Hightailing it to the space port, they got to a terminal, found a ship going to Alpha Blue [several plans had been discussed, each had their merit], and Gorra used his "magic paper" to convince a flight attendant working the counter that they're all part of an apprentice team here to get valuable on-hand training as soon-to-be pilots.  After a quick roll, that apparently worked.

The PCs board the ship, find a suite for the journey.  It's a nice room with a king sized bed, minibar, living area, and bathroom.  Just as they're checking out the new digs, a flush is heard from the bathroom.  Uh oh, company.  Turns out, it's an attractive blonde.  The adventurers convince her this is part of her VIP package, a little pre-Alpha Blue entertainment.  They whip out the obsidian dildo, and away they go.

That's where we ended the session.  After the game, I told the players that I had a weird feeling they were going to bite off more than they could chew.  The fuchsia tentacled-butterfly thing was something I had in mind as far back as last August, just never got around to introducing it.  But that thing sure came in handy.

As mentioned, this was a significant shake-up that had the PCs almost starting again from scratch... except at 5th level.  Didn't take them too long to gear-up and go hard for the next big thing.  They have an eye for the main chance.

Strangely, no use of the Cha'alt X-Cards, gilded die of Satanis, or lavender demon-moon dice of destiny.  I'm sure those will come back into play next time.

Here's a few choice lines I recorded during the session...

  • "I don't think my soul has felt this light in a long time," said Juan, after being reborn.  To which another PC replied, "Wait until we get our blue glass operation up and running."
  • "If we cloned ourselves to make blue glass, took it ourselves, and then kept doing it, would that make us drug cannibals?"
  • "Isa'ak is a power-bottom."
  • "A rave out in the desert?  Oh, you mean one of those new age festivals like Burning Slut?"
  • "A zoth-witch reaches down into your crystalline trousers."
  • "That could have been a total party jellybean!"

Next session is already this coming Saturday because the following two Saturdays I'll be unavailable.  We might add another player or two next month... we'll see.  

Thanks for reading!  Have a comment, question, or feedback?  Down below you go, hoss.


p.s. July... July?  Yes, July!  It's not too long before the VENGER CON III convention in Madison, WI this July.  Grab your weekend badge now!  And if you don't already have the CHA'ALT trilogy in gorgeous hardcover, this is how to order.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Living World, Living Story (the best of both worlds)


Almost 7 years ago, I blogged about this quote from Gary Gygax (image by Andrew McCormack)... a GM primarily rolls dice for the sound they make.  It struck a chord in me back then, even way before that, as it still does today.  

When you have a red-hot idea, regarding the narrative flow or what random table to roll upon from some long-forgotten zine stuck between the covers of a rarely consulted tome of ancient lore, you should never feel obligated to do what's written down, what's been planned out for you by a previous writer, or what procedural bureaucracy permits you to describe.  You're the fucking Game Master.  You decide.  Ultimately, it's up to you.

Last night was the climactic (albeit, truncated) debate that Pundit and I have been having for years.  Here is the Inappropriate Characters show where we start getting into it around the 40-minute mark.

I think I have this right, that RPG Pundit believes traditional RPGs are not story-games and have no business borrowing ideas (such as mechanics) or concepts (perspectives and paradigms) from the story-game design movement.

I'm of the opinion that, once you remove the poisonous Communism from what Forge-era story-games tried to inject into the hobby, there are valuable ideas and concepts that can be mined from story-gaming.

Pundit believes the focus should solely be on a "living world."  Contrarily, I believe that both a living world and "living story" make for ideal gaming experiences.  

Now, how do you define those terms?  In my own words, a living world is a coherent, functional campaign setting that has rules and procedures, along with civilizations, cultures, societies, and all the things that would make up a real world that could be described to those who lived there.

A living story includes some kind of point to the thing, either an overarching or granular moment-to-moment reason for why things happen the way they do.  Plot can be a loaded and divisive word, but Game Masters have to plan for their one-shots and campaigns.  And that's what plot is, essentially, planning.  Just as the world should feel alive, some kind of cohesive, functional narrative should also infuse it with purpose.

I've never been happy with appeals to "story by accident," where there's no narrative framework whatsoever, but sometimes a story can be cobbled together after the fact.  If design (being a designer myself) has taught me anything, it's that you don't design things to hopefully work out by accident.  Remember the 7 P's, hoss!

There's something we can all agree on, of course, no one likes a railroad.  If everything in a session is tightly scripted without the chance of veering off into unexpected territory, you're not playing an RPG but imprisoned in the GM's novel - yuck!

As I've maintained for awhile, the tension between player-characters doing whatever they want, whenever they want, based on what seems reasonable at the time, with accurate descriptions and responses provided by the GM (sandbox approach), alongside adventures where some kind of narrative structure is accounted for, presents optimal friction, juice, heat, energy, power, or divine spark, if you will.

Wanting to know what the world is like seems just as valid as asking what that world is about.  What's the meaning behind it?  Quoting a movie I haven't seen in decades, Planes, Trains and Automobiles (starring Steve Martin and John Candy) "Here's a good idea: Have a point!  It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!"  Or, indeed, those roleplaying their characters.

In conclusion, there be gold up in them hills... if you're willing to give it a try.  Your friendly neighborhood prospector, Venger Satanis, can show you the way.  So, grab a tentacle and go!

Advanced Crimson Dragon Slayer is still a free PDF, as is Cha'alt X-Cards.  But Gilded Die of Satanis is gonna cost you a few bucks.  



p.s. Want to see gaming like that in action?  There's no better way to learn the ins and outs than playing with us at VENGER CON III: Revenge of the OSR - now with preliminary gaming schedule (just scroll down).  No extra costs or hidden fees.  Buy your weekend badge today!

Friday, April 5, 2024

Best CHA'ALT Character On A Sheet Contest


Paddy's Parlor Games and I are running a contest.  

Paddy created the latest character sheet in the recently updated Advanced Crimson Dragon Slayer RPG.  

At the end of April, he and I are picking the top 3 Cha'alt player-character submissions written on his character sheet.  Those winners will get their character illustrated as an art commission by Paddy himself.  Additionally, winners will get any single PDF by Kort'thalis Publishing.

Submit entries to

Want to see what Paddy's been up to lately?  Check out his products over at Big Geek Emporium and Giant Slayer Games

Comment below if you have any questions about the contest or just want to say hi.


Monday, April 1, 2024

Mysterious Qada'ath [CHA'ALT campaign, session 10]


Fresh off of GaryCon, we continue the CHA'ALT campaign in our home game...

4 players - Nix the demon/clown thief, Juan Tufrifo the crystalline warrior, Drogon the human sorcerer, and Gora the grog (sand construct) priest.

This session begins a new arc for the campaign.  I have ideas, but don't want to solidify anything too much before things start happening in the game.

I started things with a laser shootout between Federation soldiers and the PCs in the rubble of Gonzo's former cantina after it was bulldozed and before that space could be remodeled.  The adventurers had to get on their bellies and crawl towards the soldiers (Juan used his blue glass leeches to crawl for him).

They had to exit the hover-tank upon entering the Outer Settlements because they were inundated with people (mostly Cha'alt natives who live in the Outer Settlements).  Before leaving the hover-tank they received a transmission that simply stated "Qada'ath has fallen."

Eventually, with the help of Drogon's invisibility and mesmerizing magenta mist, they got them all.  As they were looting the bodies, a meteorite fell smack in the middle of the crumbling cantina remnants.  Amidst the clouds of sand and dust, they peered into ground-zero to find a man dressed in a white toga.

Somewhat disoriented but lucid enough to provide explanation, Iza'akenuncovath or Iza'ak for short, after introducing himself.  Basically, he's an avatar of the New Gods who are ready to establish themselves as the up and coming owners of Cha'alt.  

Iza'ak told the PCs they should build statues and temples devoted to the New Gods, or himself, one of their mentored facsimiles.  In the meantime, Iza'ak would journey to Qada'ath, enter the tower of black glass where the Supreme Council dwell, and find an artifact suitable to slay any of the remaining Old Ones or their servants.  

Sensing they couldn't win in a fair fight, the PCs let Iza'ak go after giving him a leech and some false information.  But Nix had the forethought to commune with the Old Ones to see what their next move should be.  Upon connecting with Uma'at-Allah, Nix was told to acquire the super-weapon artifact before Iza'ak could get his hands on it, and use it to destroy the New Gods' avatar(s).

Before finalizing their next move, the PCs had a fruitful discussion about what they should do... work towards the ends of the Old Ones, assist the New Gods in their land rush crusade, skip all the celestial politics, or just go along with whatever side is right in front of them and play them both for the highest reward possible.

While the last is probably the closest to their true alignment, the PCs, encouraged by Nix himself, chose to side with the Great Old Ones, against the newcomer deities who threaten the status-quo on Cha'alt.  Never trust a God whose emissary doesn't even bring a gift... aside from letting you worship them.  That's rule #37 on Cha'alt.

And where was the holiest of holy weapons from the Ark of the Covenant?  Still hidden away in petrified sandworm poop in the shape of Juan Tufrifo.  They stashed it in the desert on the way back from the Crimson Rock of Sacrifice.  The ground literally opened up like a dynamic sewer hole, accepting the X'queeu for safekeeping. 

The PCs wanted to get to the tower of black glass first, so took their hover-tank (plus, it's good to have firepower).  It was out of fuel, but Drogon was able to shave just enough off his ka'alaxian crystal to keep the hover-tank in operation without diminishing the brilliant, yellowish-green wishing stone.

They saw Iza'ak on their way to Qada'ath, and waved.  Before long, they arrived at the outer edge of the orange labyrinth.  A sizeable hole was already smashed into the orange wall, but ta'anzo, Drogon's spider-jack familiar, was ordered to blow a bigger hole into it before driving over the rubble.

Inside the city, they saw all the familiar sights of civil unrest - riots, protests (some holding signs that read "We're people; not blue glass!"), arson, looting, rape, murder, etc.  The PCs drove all the way to the tower of black glass and shot it twice before a decent sized hole could be seen - which Gorra jumped into upon turning into sand.

Once through, he saw one of the Supreme Councilors attended by a few sand-blade guards.  Gorra convinced the Councilor to follow him out, so "tube-man" [I decided to just use the Gigax Council from Psycho Goreman] opened an actual doorway out of the tower which the rest of the PCs used to enter.  Ta'anzo aimed and fired once again, direct him, killing tube-man and the guards.  

The adventurers owe Ta'anzo some serious spider porn after all his surefire blasting! 

Nix went into the cloakroom to see if he could find any secret passages or traps.  He did find a hidden panel accessing an elevator going all the way to the top, so they could bypass the spiral staircase.  Juan Tufrifo noticed a secret button that also led them down, so he pushed it.

They went into a dimly lit chartreuse system of caves and tunnels where up ahead two giant lizards were munching on a dead humanoid.  The PCs blasted the hostile reptilians, but then Drogon used his sorcerous senses to see which direction the most powerful magic was located.  Up top.  So, away they went back up the elevator.

As the elevator rose, they noticed through the transparent elevator car that Iza'ak was walking up to the tower of black glass.  Before reaching the top floor, the elevator got stuck.  Blasting their way up through a ceiling vent, the PCs found themselves on top of the elevator car.  Just before opening the door and blasting the shit out of everybody, they heard a lot of commotion and yelling, followed by "Dear Gods, what the Hell is that?"

Realizing this could be potentially good or very bad, they opened the door to see the rest of the Supreme Council being menaced by some Elder God or Great Old One within a dimensional rift that looked violet-magenta and weird.  Drogon recognized this as perhaps the legendary Quorta'ath... but I'll go into detail about what he knows next time.  The entity's tentacles had a grip on all the Councilors as one of them threw an object illuminated in a white glow through the portal and into the entity's mouth.

It was then that Drogon started brewing a fireball in conjunction with the use of a lavender demon-moon die of destiny.  The roll was flubbed, so he burned a point of Divine Favor and succeeded with both d6s.  All the remaining Supreme Councilors melted in a pool of horrible, dying, screaming flesh.  Additionally, the dimensional rift closed and Drogon disappeared.

The PCs didn't know it, but Drogon was in the purple labyrinth, wandering the purple corridors, searching for greater truth, a way out, or something in-between.  

Meanwhile, Iza'ak walked all the way up the stairs to find out the object of power he sought was no longer on this plane of reality and questioned the PCs.  They decided it was time to actually test their invincibility theory - Nix backstabbed him with his new banana laser-sword, but no damage was done.  Instead, Iza'ak batted the clown-demon across the room like he was a ragdoll.  Gorra turned into sand and went into the avatar's anus (why one of the players stimulated a SLEAZE Cha'alt X-Card, I don't know... possibly to prevent me from inventing an anus-shield on the fly?  I think I owe the players more sleaze, but hopefully not involving a man's anus, next session) and exploded him from the inside-out.  Unfortunately, in just a few minute, Iza'ak began to reform, little scraps of flesh moving towards the center to become anew. 

Meanwhile, Drogon received an impression from the Great Old Ones, telling them to search the subterranean caves below the tower of black glass for slutty zoth-witches who will guide them to overthrow the New God pretenders.  

Not wanting to wait around for him to complete the reassembly, the PCs went back down the elevator after Nix fixed it.  Then Drogon reappeared, told the rest about his purple labyrinth vision, and suggested they go all the way down to that chartreuse cave system below Qada'ath (the sister-cave system to the one they explored a few sessions ago).

The PCs fought some insectoids they found within the first few minutes of exploring, half the party being trapped in amber by the insectoid's scepter, and then Drogon roasted them with a fireball.  

They were just about to be assaulted by some crazy looking chaos-clown when we decided to end the session as the sorcerer's player had to leave a bit early, which was fine by me since I was already getting tired from a combination of post-GaryCon recovery, Spring Break / Easter shenanigans, and sinus / allergy junk going on.

So far, this new arc feels promising, and that's all I can ask for.  Thanks for reading, hoss!


p.s.  Want your own hardcover Cha'alt trilogy?  Here you go!  Gonna be around the Wisconsin area this July or feel like making a road trip to the birthplace of RPGs?  Grab your weekend badge for VENGER CON III: Revenge of the OSR and game with us!