Tuesday, January 31, 2012

'Naut Fight! Playtest 1

The consolidation process continues. The purpose of my last post was to lay the groundwork for this post and the following one, both of which concern playtesting a new skirmish miniatures/board game I've developed based on the October Country setting. 'Naut Fight! has become a popular diversion with this group and I suspect I'll be running another playtest of it again in the next two weeks. I've had non-roleplayers express interest in giving it a go, which I interpret as a good sign that I might be on to something here.

Yesterday saw the first official playtest of the October Country stuff and I was extremely pleased with the way things turned out. My gaming group is going through a transitive period, but is reorganizing to better address what everyone wants to play/run. I’ve finally put Labyrinth Lord behind me for awhile, and although I will return again one day soon, it was nice to explore other options and systems.

 We started off with a playtest of my steampunk automaton gladiator game, ‘Naut Fight! Although intended for one-on-one bouts, the rules are flexible enough to allow multiple ‘Nauts the opportunity to square off. And square off they did as three hulking brutes powered by experimental engines took to the area to battle it out for dominance. A little pre-match skullduggery didn’t turn out too well for one player when his pit crew spy was caught sneaking a peek in an opponent’s ‘Naut depot, but the trio was pretty much evenly matched at the start of the bout.

I sketched out the arena while the guys were building their ‘Nauts, using whatever popped into my head. A few walls, a pair of tar pits, a big old pile to play “King of the Hill” on, and a pair of special “You don’t know what happens when you enter these areas until you do so” spaces filled out the battleground. The ‘Nauts headed for the high ground early and most of the fight took place around the hill as everyone sought to use the top of the heap for combat advantage.

Speed was definitely the red-headed stepchild of traits as only one person decided to allocate more than a single die into that aspect of their gladiator machines. That could have been a bad move for one fighter when he fell into a pit and needed to roll above a certain number to escape. I’m wondering if this choice of allocation will remain true in future matches.

There was one attempt at an alliance to take out a less damaged ‘Naut about halfway through the fight, but it was rebuffed. Had it been accepted, we might have had a different winner. Instead, the two ‘Nauts with the least health beat the snot out one another for a bit while the souped up ‘Naut watched with glee.

The playtest revealed that I need to tighten up the language in my Specials descriptions and that I should make a cheat sheet with some of the other options available besides just blasting away with ranged weapons or slugging it out. That also could have changed things as ‘Nauts tried to clothesline one another or slam an opponent into one of the tar pits.

The guys had some good suggestions for future Specials to be added to the list of options: 360° Sensors that make it impossible for an opponent to gain a tactical advantage when attacking from behind and a Self-Destruct Feature that causes an area of effect blast when your ‘Naut goes down. I originally wrote the first rules draft with two fighters in mind, but after the three-man fight, I can see where those options would make play interesting when fielding teams or with multiple players. The match lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes, which, with three players, is a good sign that the game is short enough to be used in conjunction with the roleplaying game if needed, but also a fun diversion when you can’t get enough players for an RPG but need some entertainment on a rainy afternoon.

After the match, we took the October Country roleplaying game out for a drive. Three would-be heroes traveled to the City of Midnight to make a name for themselves. The group consisted of a budding magician who was an agent of the Juggler; a ballisturgist gun-slinger and agent of the Unnamed; and a great sword-wielding agent of the Red Ruin of War. They quickly found themselves hired by a librarian whose business was overrun by bibliophages. The trio went in, took names (thanks to an ungodly number of critical hits), and discovered that somebody is trying to drive the librarian out of business before he could even get started. The band is headed off to Hunger Rock College to collect a bounty on the slain bibliophages, but it’s obvious that there’s treachery afoot.

Running GORE was a snap, although I need to run through the rules again and make some adjustments and corrections (a blackjack can’t do 1d8 damage unless that’s subdual damage and I’m overlooking the rules for that). The benchmark skills are working as intended and so far they are allowing the PCs to do “cool stuff” early without overpowering the system or making combat a cake walk. We’ll see if this trend continues as the game progresses.

From the October Country: 'Naut Fights

One of the many purposes of the October Country setting is to give me a world where I can put all the genres and stories I want to experiment with in one place. It’s really a microcosm (or perhaps it’s a macrocosm) of my interests on display for all to see. When the setting is complete, the players and referees will find a wide variety of people, places, and things to power their adventures—many of which are very far removed from traditional fantasy.

As much as I pretend to be aloof from it, I am susceptible to popular culture and the current climate of entertainment. That includes advertizing, movies, and other popular trends. Lately, I’ve been seeing a hell of a lot of commercials for the movie Real Steel, a film where Wolverine builds a boxing robot and uses it to bond with his son. And while I’m not a big fan of machine-on-machine violence, the idea of gladiatorial matches between constructed warriors does tickle my fancy a bit. So I decided to add it to the October Country. I already had a region where it would be a natural fit, so why not? Even better, this made me to think about how I’d implement it in the campaign. That led to the creation of a mini-game that I’m currently working on. If I’m lucky, I might test the basic rules after my weekly game session on Sunday. But, without further ado, here’s a brief guide to ‘Naut Fights in the October Country.

High in the northern mountains, where stands of firs and lightning-struck pines grow thick on the granite peaks, is the legendary domain of the Lightning Lords. Secretive sorcerers of technology, the Lightning Lords tap the elemental forces of nature to birth miraculous constructions and machines rarely seen outside of their savagely beautiful country.

This devotion to their science comes at a cost: very few have the luxury of stepping away from their laboratories to attend to mundane matters. This lack of attention extends from simple matters such as hygiene to more complex concerns like the security of their borders. But, as men of science, the Lightning Lords long ago created a means to deal with certain pressing matters by means of mechanical proxies. No greater example of this exists that the famous ‘Naut Fights of the Lightning Lands.

Whenever two or more of the Lords come into conflict, be it over borders, resources, or the shared network of wires that channels lighting down from the heavens and throughout the nation, disputes are settled not on the battlefield, but in the arena. Each Lord activates one of his stable of Juggernauts (commonly called simply ‘Nauts) and the combatants battle it out in a formal duels attended by the Lords’ servants and seneschals. The Lord whose champion wins the bout has his way in the matter under dispute and the disagreement is put to rest. It is extremely rare for the losing party or parties to dispute this—partly because of tradition, but mostly because they lack the time to submit a formal protest to the informal council that arbitrates the myriad baronies that comprise the Lightning Lands.

These duels are seldom to destruction—the cost to build and maintain a stable of ‘Nauts is high and the strange susceptibility to deterioration that technology in the October Lands already deals with is enough to convince a losing ‘Naut’s master to throw in the towel. The battered ‘Nauts are pulled from the arena to be repaired by the Lightning Lords’ crews of Gearheads, those uncanny argents of the Clockwork Man who keep technology functioning beyond the Pale.

A ‘Naut is a wonder to behold. Standing near 10’ tall, these machines are typically humanoid in appearance and operate on steam, phlogiston, zeusiam, or clockwork engines. Two or more weapons are affixed to each ‘Naut, and close combat is preferred over ranged armaments. Each champion is armored, but the level of protection varies from model to model. Some Lords prefer Hulk Class bruisers or Behemoth bashers, while others prefer Springheel skirmishers or Dancer Class athletes. No matter what style meet in combat, one never forgets their first ‘Naut Fight.

What makes these battles so memorable is the skill of the combatants. ‘Nauts do not fight like constructed warriors, animated by gears and fire, but like living fighters that think, strategize, and react much faster and more skillful than a machine ever could. The secret to this is that each ‘Naut is operated by a literal “ghost in the machine.” When crafted, the spirit of a dead creature is attuned to a ‘Naut, allowing the soul of that individual to possess the machine and operate it as if it were its own living body. The ghostly fighters serve their masters for a variety of reasons and are usually well-treated by their individual Lords. Some ghosts have served their Lord’s family line for centuries, becoming legends in their own right and feared by all challengers when met in the arena.

When visiting the Lightning Lands, be it to hire the services of a Gearhead or to book passage on one of the realm’s electrical barges or dirigibles, be sure to attended a ‘Naut Fight. Exhibition matches are commonly held for bragging rights and entertainment, and it is rare for a week to pass without at least one bout occurring in a barony.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jean Wells 1955-2012

Steve Sullivan has posted on Facebook’s Old School Gamers page that D&D pioneer, author, and original voice of Sage Advice passed away on January 25. Quoted from that post is the following:

RIP Jean Wells - D&D Pioneer
I'm very sad to report the death of my friend, D&D pioneer, and the original sage of Sage Advice, Jean Wells. 
When I first got to TSR in September of 1980, Jean was one of the first people to try to really make me feel welcome. She was a big, brash, opinionated, and very loving personality. She was fun to be around. She was also a Southern girl through and through, who cooked great fried chicken. I remember fondly her ongoing "feud" with Gary Gygax over whether dwarf women had beards (Gary: Yes; Jean: No), and the fun-loving one-upsmanship the two engaged in over the subject. I remember her inadvertently getting TSR involved in the Indiana Jones franchise, several years before the license, when she used TSR letterhead to write to Lucas, asking for some photos from the film. (And implying there might be an interest in the license.) I remember stepping in to draw illos for B3, to help her out, when some in the art department didn't want to -- and I remember the big to-do about the original version of that module when it came out.
It was pretty wild at the time, but those are precious memories now.
And I remember the friend who would go out of her way to help you if you were in need. The one and only time in my life I've had a panic attack (heart racing around 150), I ended up sleeping on her couch, 'cause she was there for me. She cared about this skinny geek living 1000 miles away from home. 
Thanks, Jean, for that and for many other fond memories.
You were one of a kind. 
And my deepest condolences to her husband Corey and all her family and friends.
She is gone too soon.
-- Steve Sullivan 
Here's the obit, as passed on by Tim "Ollie" Cahoon: 
Oeva Jean Koebernick, 56, of Beloit, WI died Wednesday, January 25, 2012, in Beloit Memorial Hospital. She was born July 25, 1955 in Jacksonville, FL, the daughter of Walton and Ellen Loft Wells. Jean was a member of St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church.She is survived by two sons, John Teague and Steve Teague both of Memphis, TN; sister, Jennifer (John) Hines of Memphis, TN and brother Finis Wells of Memphis, TN; father, Walton Wells; former husband, Corey Koebernick of Beloit, WI; mother-in-law, Elaine Koebernick and brother-in-law, David Koebernick both of Beloit, WI and her special canine companion, Darlin.
She was preceded in death by her mother, Ellen Wells.
In honoring Jean’s wishes, there are to be no funeral services.
And here's the information from the family as I heard it via Dave Conant:
I have the sad duty to share with you that Jean has passed away recently. I received word from Cory this past weekend and he asked to I send word to all of you. Please pass on to others that you might know who remember Jean.
Here are the few details I know: Jean was admitted to the Beloit Hospital last Tuesday (1/24) with what seemed non-life threatening symp...toms. Cory was with her for a while that night. However, he received word from the hospital at 6:00 AM Wednesday morning that she had died. He is not aware of the cause at this time.
He indicated that there is no plan currently to have a service or memorial for Jean since family and friends are so distant and widespread. However, although he will be deactivating phone numbers and email addresses for Jean, he did indicate that he would leave one to which friends could send condolences and/or memorials — DancerUnderAMoon@aol.com. He also shared that if anyone was interested in a donation that they donate to whatever charity they feel appropriate in Jean's memory.
For those of us that were close to Jean over the years (all the way back to the early years at TSR and the TSR Dorm for me), this message comes with mixed feelings. Jean has struggled much over the years with pains and various illnesses, some very serious. She always tried (and did well most of the time) to keep a positive frame of mind and certainly always cared much for others. I know from talking with Jean that she is in a better place now without all the pains and concerns, but she will be missed.
Good bye ole friend,
Dave Conant

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lurking in Lake Geneva

Event registration for GaryCon went live at 4 PM EST today and, like some of you, I was perched at my computer ready to snatch up seats in my first-choice games. Unfortunately, 30 GP just doesn’t buy what it used to and conflicts forced me to make some hard choices. Hopefully, I’ll be able to correct that at GaryCon V.

For those of you attending (or just interested in what I’ll be playing in Wisconsin in two-month’s time), I’m registered for the following events:

Friday @ 2 PM: “Legends of Wargaming: DUNGEON! With Dave Meggary.” It’s been forever since I played Dungeon! and the opportunity to play it with original designer was simply too good to pass up. Its low cost in Gary Points and short duration made it a perfect choice to ease into the Lake Geneva gaming scene.

Friday @ 6 PM: “OD&D with Tim Kask.” It came down to either playing AD&D with Frank Mentzer or OD&D with Tim Kask in this time slot. Having had the opportunity to play OD&D with Frank last year at my local con, I decided I’d give Tim’s game a whirl and let someone else take a seat for Frank’s game.

Saturday @ 12 PM: “We Got Ourselves a Real Bug Hunt!” Metamorphosis Alpha with Jim Ward! As much as I wanted to sit in on Jeff Rient’s “Caves of Myrddin” at 10 AM, I simply had to play a game with Jim before I left Lake Geneva and, due to scheduling and my flight times, this was my only opportunity during GaryCon. I’ll have to catch Jeff’s game on Goggle+ one morning to make up for it.

Saturday @ 6 PM: “Gary Con Open – Mission Critical.” An old school convention tournament game in Lake Geneva: How could I say “No” to that?

I’ll be arriving at the Lodge in Lake Geneva around 5 PM on Thursday. Since Thursday night and Friday morning is free for me (barring gaining a seat in a game with openings), I’ll probably break out Stonehell or a super secret playtest during those times, so if you’re in town and are also free, track me down!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why is the OSR not producing a fanzine like this?

There are many fine amateur and semi-professional publications out there in the OSR, but I sense there’s a niche that needs to be filled. We need our very own “armpit slick” fanzine complete with covers done in the style of the men’s adventure magazines of the 1950s and 1960s. Hell, most every cover blurb for the stories inside scream to be transformed into a roleplaying adventure (OK, maybe not “The Diet That Can Double Your Sexual Batting Average,” but still I make a good point).

I can’t do it. I’m booked solid and I’d make a lousy publisher anyway, but couldn’t you see a quarterly OSR fanzine done in this style and containing adventures for Call of Cthulhu, Weird Adventures, and other RPGs of that ilk? Man, I’d be all over that slick, especially if it occasionally did tell me about “The Nation-Wide Shame of Teen-Age Sin Clubs” and where I might find one in my neck of the woods.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

FLAILing Around in Stonehell

An account of last evening's FLAILSNAILS game with David of the Tower of the Archmage and run by Nicholas Mizer. You can read Nick the Pick's version here.

In the days following his journey to the wild coast of Cornwall, Lemmikäinen, that enigmatic elf who claimed Hyperborean descent, was seen visiting some of more wretched dives along the London waterfront, speaking in hushed conference with men and other races of low character and sinister morals. Having acquired a small sailing ship and its crew, Lemmikäinen’s monthly expenses had grown ten-fold and unpaid sailors are notoriously difficult to trust. If he wished to continue his ownership of the vessel, money—and large sums of it—would have to be acquired soon.

In the riverside taverns, Lemmikäinen heard tales of an ancient and crumbling prison located in a distant realm. If the rumors were true, great riches awaited those brave enough to face the former gaol’s monstrous inhabitants. A clandestine meeting with a one-eyed mummy smuggler from Cairo resulted in the northern elf’s acquisition of a faded map purportedly showing the location of the Island of Doors, a small, rocky islet situated off the southern coast.

The Island of Doors was legend for the many odd, free-standing portals that stood along its landscape, each rumored to lead to a foreign and oft-times alien shore. Gathering his crew, Lemmikäinen set sail for the Island. Despite fog-shrouded waters and strange tides, the expedition located the islet where the map claimed it lay. Landing upon the rocky strand, Lemmikäinen consulted a small, crimson-bound book filled with weird sigils and signs, seeking the proper one that would designate the door he sought. A brief survey of the Island revealed the portal that would take him to the lands in which the moldering prison—referred to in tales as “Stonehell”—was to be found. Stepping through the weather-beaten door of unfamiliar wood, Lemmikäinen left this world.

The elf found himself in a small town that showed all the signs of a stagnant economy and lack of civilized comforts. Despite his unfamiliarity with this new world, it was a small matter to locate a tavern where professional fortune-hunters held court in a dank, stinking taproom. In that place, Lemmikäinen met a human fighting-man with the unfortunate moniker of “Nick the Pike,” undoubtedly earned by his acumen with a pole-ax. Nick was organizing a venture into Stonehell to seek some talisman a local shaman or preacher had tasked an acquaintance with recovering. Having little interest in such backwater trinkets, but a great desire to fill his dwindling coffers, Lemmikäinen agreed to accompany Nick and his band of hired men-at-arms and link boy into the old prison. After acquiring some hounds from a bumpkin cult’s dog temple, the party headed into the hills where the dungeon lay waiting.

Near the entrance, Lemmikäinen and cohorts detected a returning band of adventurers, some bearing wounds from their own sojourn into the dungeon. As they were unburdened with obvious treasure, Lemmikäinen’s party chose to fade behind cover and allow them to pass without confrontation. After they vanished around a trail bend, the elf, pike-man, and hirelings entered the dungeon proper.

With Nick’s knowledge of the dungeon gained during a previous delve, the party swiftly found their destination: a place called the Quiet Halls. Prior to entrance into these corridors, they encountered a solitary orc, who Lemmikäinen pressed for information. The bestial creature warned them that the Quiet Halls were roamed by the un-dead and Lemmikäinen cursed their lack of clergy amongst the party’s ranks. After revealing that some feud existed between the orcs and Stonehell’s goblins, the orc was allowed to leave with a silver or two for his troubles.

Entering the Quite Halls, the band followed the trail Nick’s previous party had blazed, avoiding a known pit trap and discovering an odd hall that bore ominous scorch marks and a bovine statue of iron. Pressing past this strange sculpture, the party found a large hall beyond. At least two passages granted entrance to its dark interior and upon reaching the southernmost one, the band hurled blazing brands into the darkness to reveal its contents. From out of the gloom, poured un-dead: skeletons and zombies numbering a score or more!

The party was forced to hack their way through an undead throng to avoid being surrounded by the stinking, clacking animations. They fought a running battle back north, Lemmikäinen firing shaft after shaft of keen-edged arrows into the horde until the party reached the pit trap they had passed. There, at the far side of the cavity’s edge, they stood, forming a shield wall against the dead.

The first few skeletons stumbled across the trap’s cover, springing the pit and causing them to tumble into the darkness below. The zombies in the horde’s rear ranks shuffled mindlessly ahead, plowing more skeletons into the shaft. The party met each oncoming wave with spears, halberds, and arrows, whittling their numbers down until only the zombies remained. These creatures hungrily hurled themselves across the abyss, some plummeting down the pit, while others collided with the shield wall and began gnawing upon the hired men-at-arms. One hireling was pulled to his doom by the shambling horror that consumed him, but with their superior position and tactics, it was only a matter of time before they prevailed and the last zombie laid low.

The horde defeated, the party returned to the great hall from which the undead emerged, but found it empty but for bats and pillars. Several corridors departed the room, and the band headed north, passing an iron door and crossing an intersecting passage. A wooden door was opened and an ancient embalming chamber was found beyond. Deciding to exit the dungeon while their luck held, the party gathered anything of seeming value, loading down Lemmikäinen’s magical conveyance to haul the items of questionable worth back to the surface. Negotiations would be necessary with the local merchants before Lemmikäinen saw any wealth from his venture, but he did acquire a set of oddly-shaped embalming tools as a souvenir of his journey into the dungeon known as Stonehell. He currently awaits his share of the booty, pondering whether to remain in the place or seek out new realms in need of exploration and tomb-robbery.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Congratulations to Paizo: Their Beginners Box has effectively cast its spell upon me and is working as intended. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was very impressed with their introductory boxed set for Pathfinder and, after reading it, I decided to dip my toes back into the often-times muddied pool of 3.5-based gaming.

Ever since Paizo released the Kingmaker Adventure Path back in 2010, I’ve had a lingering itch to play it. When a friend lent me the first module in the series, I read it halfway through before putting it down. Not because I was disgusted with it, but because I really hoped that one day someone would run it and I’d have the opportunity to visit the Stolen Lands for myself. After a year and a half of holding onto that hope, it finally became apparent that nobody was going to run it for me and I’d have to take on that burden for myself. And thus, my latest campaign was born.

The other reason I decided to run Kingmaker is that I’ve been looking to do a campaign that has a beginning, middle, and end. Most of my games have tended to be open-ended, but I know from personal experience that my interest in a specific campaign wanes after time, leaving me looking for the next “big thing.” Hopefully, Kingmaker’s structure will allow me to avoid that. It also has the benefit of getting to the “D&D endgame” much quicker than traditionally happens. By the second module, the PCs are already involved in the domain-building and administration process, and Kingmaker has some interesting mechanics to adjudicate that.

My original intent was to simply use the materials in the Beginners Box to run it, but after I read deeper into the campaign, I realized that running a primarily wilderness-based adventure without allowing the players access to classes like ranger and druid would be cruel. And since I already owned a copy of the Pathfinder Core Rules, I instead opted to limit the campaign to the races and classes included in that tome. I sank the cash into a Pathfinder Bestiary and I’m now ready to roll.

One of the great things about having a campaign world that is not completely detailed, quantified, and mapped is that it is extremely easy to pick a blank section of the map and plop down whatever I feel like running into that portion of terra incognito. And so it was that the Kingdom of Byrsk came to be placed on the far side of the aptly named Wayfarer Mountains that border the Eastern Reaches in the world of R’Nis. Its placement confirms something I’ve long suspected: my campaign world has definite “zones” where specific game rules hold dominance. The eastern edge of the major continent is home to 3.5 and Pathfinder; the central region around the fabled Ring Sea is AD&D land; and the western coasts are where B/X and Labyrinth Lord hold sway.

Last Monday, I gathered with a new group of players to officially dive back into old but somewhat unfamiliar territory. This group is composed of players from several diverse gaming groups I’ve played in over the last few years. One is a veteran of my Labyrinth Lord game, two I met during my D&D Encounters experience, and the last comes from a group I’ve played in on and off for several years. All in all, it appears that they are more interested in just hacking and slashing and crawling through dungeons, which is something I’ve been trying to avoid for a while, having led to my lack of enthusiasm with the old Labyrinth Lord campaign. Amongst the four of them, they rolled up a half-orc barbarian, a human cleric, an elven ranger, and a human wizard. The mix looks good and I’ve made the goals of the campaign very clear from the get-go. This is going to be a campaign about nation-building and all the fun and tragedies that accompany such ventures.

Currently, we’re running through the sample dungeon included in the Beginners Box. I wanted to run a prelude adventure that would allow the party a reason to be adventuring together, give then some experience and magic, try out their various character builds, and allow myself a chance to become acquainted with the Pathfinder rules. They’re halfway through the Caves of Gold Light and we should finish that delve at Thursday’s session. After that, it’s off to the Stolen Lands to forge their legacies.

It’s my intent to run this as a true Pathfinder game and try to avoid my prejudiced attitudes about what D&D is. I’ve accepted the high magic aspects of the setting and familiarized myself with the skill system and DCs as best as I can in the limited time available. I’m making rules notes in my campaign notebook as they crop up in play. I figure that since I’m always on the lookout for new freelancing opportunities, becoming fluent with the rules for the other 800 lbs. gorilla in the industry can only be a good thing. Of course, fun and cool always trumps mechanics, so we’ll see how often those aspects come into conflict as the campaign goes and make allowances when they do.

With a new campaign rolling, I’ll likely have to start updating the Archive of the Rotted Moon again. I’m not certain how detailed my session reports will be, but a running log of events is always useful to my increasingly decaying brain. It looks like I’ll need to write up my last few Stonehell forays and start chronicling the Kingmaker campaign there as well. I’ll mark the posts as applicable so folks can read or avoid them depending on their interests.

From the October Country: Writhing Madness

Another refugee from Secret Antiquities. Although I don't play the skirmish miniatures game Malifaux, I've become quite enamored of some of the castings. The sculptors and I seem to share a common mindset and a lot of the Malifaux line fits in quite nicely with the October Country. When I saw this one, I knew it needed a place in that odd world. The entire mini is coated in transparent Day-Glo paint and emits an eerie phosphorescence under a blacklight.

Sunday's game saw the PCs going toe-to-toe with members of a group called "The Silence." Led by a manimage, a sorcerer whose spells deal with madness, the Silence was in the midst of conjuring up a madness "elemental" from the spirits of the dead inmates at the Crow Tree Asylum when the party showed up. Things did not go well. I take a lion's share of the blame for that, as the encounter I designed was more formidable than intended. I'll fix things next play session. In the meanwhile, here's yet another unusual occupant of the October Country.

Writhing Madness

STR: --
CON: --
SIZ: --
DEX: --
INT: 3d6 (10-11)
POW: 4d6 (14)
CHA: 3d6 (10-11)

Move: 8
Average HP: 14
Armor: Immune to non-magic attacks

Attack: Bite--60% Damage: 1d6+d2+ madness (POW vs. POW or succumb to temporary madness)
Other Skills:  Dodge: 40%

Conjuring Cost (as per rules on pp. 35-36 of the GORE rule book): 20 MP

Summon Writhing Madness
MP Cost: 1+
POW Cost: 0
Range: 20’

This spell summons forth a swirling maelstrom of madness from the Nightmare Lands and impels it to do the magician’s bidding. The spell must be cast in an area where madness was once common, such as asylums, hospitals, slums, or other locations of the referee’s choosing. The total MP cost of the spell is dependent on the size and power of the entity summoned as per the rules on p.36

Sunday, January 22, 2012


For far too long, I’ve been on the fence about Google+, ConstantCon, and the FLAILSNAILS phenomenon. My hesitance was due largely to technical issues (lack of webcam and an older PC) and a few bad experiences with online roleplaying games in the past. But this weekend I finally overcame my aversion, bought a middle-of-the-road webcam from Best Buy, and dipped my toes back into the Google+ pool. Thanks to several kind folks sharing their FLAILSNAILS/ConstantCon circles with me, I quickly became acquainted with the OSR community on Google+.

This afternoon, I got my first taste of FLAILSNAILS gaming. My technical worries proved to be baseless and my aging PC handled the hangout without a problem. By the time the session ended, I was kicking myself for not jumping into this sooner. The adventure took an entirely unforeseen turn, to say the least, and I can’t wait to play again with my now seasoned FLAILSNAILS character, Lemmikäinen.

Lemmikäinen, an elven Veteran-Medium, recently departed to the wilds north of Cornwall in the company of Philip the Bloody and Nolan Bracegridle. They returned some time later in command of a small sailing ship and reticent to speak of their exploits along the coast. Lemmikäinen was last seen shopping for new armor, his old suit of plate mail having somehow acquired a large, neatly circular burn mark in the back plate.

Thanks to everyone I played with this afternoon for granting me an unbeatable introduction into the world of FLAILSNAILS gaming. You know who you are and why.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Metamorphosis Alpha: “The House on the Hill” Now At Reduced Rate

Craig J. Bain from WardCo. chimed in on my last post to say that his Metamorphosis Alpha adventure, “The House on the Hill” is now available at the reduced rate of $13.99 for the rest of January. If you’re looking for an introductory module to run along with your brand-new printed copy of Metamorphosis Alpha, here’s your chance to pick one up and save some scratch. From the adventure description:
This is an introductory adventure for the classic sci-fi advenure RPG, Metamorphosis Alpha. The book includes a sample adventure set in a Round House Modular Dwelling Unit (RHMDU) and also includes tables for generating your own RHMDUs and ensuring that each of them is unique.
The adventure is designed to be challenging (despite the size of the RHMDU) and humorous, yet deadly to the unwary or over-confident.
Swing by CreateSpace and pick up your copy today!

If You’re Thinking of Buying Metamorphosis Alpha

…you should probably know that Lulu is offering 25% off with the coupon LULUBOOK305. That coupon is good until January 31st, 2012. That applies to all Lulu purchases, not just MA, so feel free to pick up a few other goodies while you’re at it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Signs & Portents

So by now you’ve all heard that WotC’s re-releasing the trio of core 1E books for D&D. There are of course caveats to the release (limited release, available in North America only, new covers, quality and quantity yet to be determined, etc.), but on the whole this seems to be a good thing. Maybe it’s merely a publicity stunt by WotC to try and generate some goodwill amongst older gamers or a test run to see if there’s a market for similar releases in the months ahead. Frankly, I’m not privy to any inside information, so this is speculation at best.

Others more versed is such matters have undoubtedly already addressed some of the issues I’m about to mull over, but I’ve been head-down trying to catch up on projects and haven’t had much time to wander the blogosphere and the forums to see so for myself. Please forgive me if you’ve seen this hashed to pieces already.

Having mulled over this news for most of the day, I’m wondering what this means in the long term for the OSR and the retro-clones. If this is indeed a limited run, never to be repeated again, the re-issue won’t have much of an effect other than generating more interest in the “obsolete” forms of gaming we’ve all been harping on for years now. That, I think we can all agree, would be a good thing.

However, what if this is a sign that WotC is dedicating themselves to finally getting their ducks in a row and cleaning up the mess they made for themselves with the release of 4E? I’m not edition bashing, but I think we can all agree that the release of 4E was a bit of a fustercluck whose long term effect was to fracture the consumer base. The wide differences between 3.5 and 4E systems made it difficult to use material across editions, thus impacting sales. And as much as we like to harp on the fact that Paizo is now at least equal to WotC in the market, can anyone dispute that Paizo’s success was not predicated by WotC fumbling the D&D ball?

Unless you’ve been marooned on a deserted island for the last few weeks (and if that’s the case, why are you reading this blog and not out drinking your bodyweight in booze and chasing people with lax moral standards?), you know that WotC’s plan for D&D Next is to end the edition wars once and for all and bring us all back under the D&D tent. Obviously, there’s been debate as to the feasibility of this goal. I’m not going to go on record to say that WotC can’t do it, but it’s going to be a hell of a task to do so.

Continuing in this vein (and remember this is mere speculation), what happens if the 1E books sell like hotcakes at a lumberjack competition? Wouldn’t the next logical step be to see if more out-of-print editions have a place in the market? Is the OD&D bookcase set we’ve been asking for, one to put in the game closet next to Monopoly and Trivia Pursuit, an inevitability? Again, this is a good thing.

Unfortunately, if this is indeed the future of things to come, it’s going to have an impact on the OSR publishers out there, especially those individuals currently responsible for the retro clones available. The success of Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, and OSRIC is based on the fact that the rules they are reproducing are out of print and increasingly difficult to acquire. There’s already a percentage of the player base that shuns the retro clones on the grounds of “Why play this when I already have the ‘real’ books?” Admittedly, the intent of the retro publishers is to keep these types of games available in a market that had no official support, to provide a means for amateur and not-so-amateur designers to create material for the games they love, and to keep this form of gaming alive. However, I think it’s going to be hard going for these same publishers if WotC steps back into the marketplace and re-introduces the real thing. Those of us active in the OSR might continue to support the old school retro clones, but when push comes to shove, the average gamer is going to pick up Basic D&D over Labyrinth Lord. It’ll be a shame if the OSR did win the war as some posts have claimed in recent months, only to succumb to its own victory.

Now assuming that WotC continues with an OGL with their releases, the 3rd party market will survive. We must remember that the original plan for the OGL was so that 3rd party publishers would take up the slack and produce adventure modules for D&D that are notoriously small sellers and don’t constitute a large part of the overall profit pie. WotC could continue to concentrate on the big sellers and let the little guys nibble on the crumbs. As we know, this isn’t the way things worked out, but this might still end up being the case for the publishers currently supporting the OSR. I’m not crying that the sky is falling, but I doubt anybody with a stake in the old school market isn’t at least considering this possibility today. I sure there’s been a few closed door conferences going on over at Paizo HQ in recent days as well.

I might be reading too much into this announcement entirely and completely outside the realm of reality. Nevertheless, I think there are interesting times ahead for us all in the months to come and I’ll be watching future developments very closely. The reprints of 1E have certainly lit a fire under my own ass in regard to getting Stonehell completed and out the door on the off-chance we’re in for a very severe sea change in the hobby and the industry that supports it.

Want Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition in hardcopy?

According to an announcement made by Craig J. Bain of WardCo. in Jim Ward’s Q&A thread over at Dragonsfoot, you can now purchase reprints of Metamorphosis Alpha through Lulu.com. The reprint is, Bain says, “the 1976 edition with a short adventure included and the corrections - the same as the RPGNow edition, minus the hex-sheet page at the back of the book.” It retails for $14.99.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Back from Black

Readers attempting to visit this blog yesterday discovered that it did not exist. I hope I caused no undue alarm, but I pulled the Society of Torch, Pole and Rope down in support of the boycott against SOPA and PIPA. I figured my readership is smart enough to twig to that and no clarification was necessary, especially once the Society reappeared after midnight. As it turns out, the blackout was successful in demonstrating that many are unwilling to let corporate interests curtail the Internet and several of the legislations’ sponsors withdrew their support of the bills. I guess an election year was the wrong time to try and muscle these bills through.
We now return to your regularly scheduled, non-political programming.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

From the October Country: Architurgy

The old house had stood near the crossroad since the Uld Dominion still controlled these lands. Now a rotting shell, its roof sagging like the broken back of a dead cat and obscured beneath a shroud of brown ivy, the building warned away all who approached with threats of imminent collapse and possible haunts.

The Hard Case Krewe arrived just as the moon rose, making their way through the once-fine front door and gingerly stepping over the shattered glass that littered the foyer. In the rotting sitting room, the youngest of the krewe moved to a mildewed divan and took a seat. Brushing a wayward strand of auburn hair away from her ear, she closed her eyes and listened. The rest of the group, arm, alert, and nervous, peered intently into the shadows around them.

High above them, the wind blew through the holes in the roof and pushed gently against the eaves. Ancient beams groaned softly and warped, water-damaged floorboards moaned as the decrepit house shifted in the breeze. The wind died abruptly and the young girl opened her eyes.

“The gold we seek is hidden beneath the floor of the nursery, but there is a spotted carnithing lurking in the attic that needs be dealt with first,” she said, staring up at the peeling ceiling overhead. Standing, she rejoined her comrades who were already drawing their blades and pistols and moving towards the creaking stairs that lead to the ruin’s upper floors…

Architurgy (base 0%) is a rare talent found both on Earth and in the October Country. Scholars of esoterica debate whether it is a true psychic ability or a form of minor, innate magic produced spontaneously by a gifted, yet untrained few. Whatever the case, architurgy (sometimes called domuscopy or “speaking the architongue”) is a potent if limited form of divination.

The successful use of architurgy allows the possessor of the talent to understand the “language” of old buildings. What sounds like the groaning of beams, the creaking of hinges, and the general noise of an old home settling is actually a secret language spoken only by buildings with long and often eventful histories. Using the talent requires a few moments (1d10 minutes typically) of quiet sitting and listening. If the environment is too loud and drowns out the building’s ambient noise, the talent cannot be used and the architurge must wait until quiet once again pervades the structure.

If conditions allow the use of the talent, the architurge focuses his or her mind on a question they wished answered or a condition regarding the house they’d like to know. When successful, they deduce the answer to their inquiry by the noises of the house. The clarity and detail of each answer depends on the age of the building: the older the house, the more detail it tends to provide. Unfortunately, with this detail comes greater difficulty in understanding what the building is saying. Most old buildings suffer from “emotional static”—emotions and psychic residue created by highly charged events that occurred within the building during its history. Breaking through that static is difficult, but if the architurge can do so, she can learn a lot about the building in which she stands. Architurgy cannot be used on a building less than 50 years old and suffers a -5% penalty for every 10 years past 100 that the structure has been standing.

Using the architurgy talent requires the expenditure of 1 MP for each condition or question the architurge wants to know about. An architurge can make a number of inquiries equal to half her CHA score, but must make a successful skill roll and spend a MP for each one. A failed roll indicates that she can coax no more information from the building and cannot attempt to learn more with the talent until she has advanced in its skill.

Monday, January 16, 2012

From the October Country: Boglins

As I mentioned previously, I'm going to be transporting some of the material I generated over on my Secret Antiquities blog to the Society so as to compile all my game designs under a single roof. This is the first of such transfers.

For almost two years I've been working on a new campaign setting that contains all the weirdness I enjoy and which would allow me to run nearly any form of role-playing adventure I might set my mind to. I've been using Goblinoid Games' free GORE system as the rule frame to build upon and have had a few play tests of that material. Tentatively entitled The October Country for the time being, I remain committed to one day compiling this setting, its inhabitants, and various new rules and systems into a single tome to share with other interested folks. The October Country mixes fantasy, "screampunk", conspiracy, Wild West, and other high weirdness in one delightful soup of a setting. I've purposely peopled it with unusual monsters that don't always conform to your usual fantasy expectations. Most of the recent material and play tests all revolve around the city of Midnight located on the edge of the Snakewater Swamp, an October Country analog for the Louisiana bayous and 18th century New Orleans. Let's meet one of the residents of the October Country now:

Out in the Snakewater Swamp are small hamlets inhabited by a race of green-skinned, violent, and stupid creatures known as Boglins. These vicious little brutes make their living by scavenging, banditry, and the brewing of “bug juice”, a potent liquor made from ingredients best not asked about. Although small in stature and dim-witted, Boglins have a knack for simple devices and can jury-rigged rifles and shotguns from the assorted trash they find, small items they steal, and the occasional horn of black powder they swap bug juice for. This talent, combined with their clannish nature and remote villages, make Boglins a persistent menace in the Snakewater. Those traveling into the backwaters of the swamp should be careful, as Boglins often ambush travelers on remote bayas, rising up from the murky waters to attack unexpectedly.

Boglins average 4’ to 5’ in height and weigh between 100 and 125 lbs, although certain “bosses” grow much bigger (and have their own separate entry). Boglins tend to dress in either homespun clothes or the oversized garments taken from their victims. Duster coats, wide-brimmed hats, and clunky shoes are popular Boglin fashion, as is any item of clothing made from gator skin.

It is said that Boglins have distant relatives in the mountains who eke out a similar life in the hollers and dark forests that punctuate the hills. Known as Hoglins, these repulsive cousins keep semi-tamed hogs as attack animals, beasts of burden, and, some whisper, share a common gene pool with the porcine creatures.

STR: 3d6 (10-11)
CON: 2d6+6 (13)
SIZ: 2d6 (7)
INT: 2d6 (7)
POW: 3d6 (10-11)
DEX: 4d6 (14)

Average hit points: 10
Move: 7

Other skills: Baya Lore-55%, Boating-80%, Conceal-86%, Craft (scavenge-tech)-65%, Dodge-55%, Language (Patois)-85%, Move Silently-75%, Notice-70%, Survival-85%, Swimming-90%. Some have Mechanick Arts-65% or Elemental Magic-50%

Damage Modifier: -1d2

Shotgun or Rifle: 65%--4d6/2d6/1d6 or 1d6+2
Club: 60%--1d6
Bite: 50%--1d4 damage

Bug Juice: This swamp liquor will either get the drinker drunk as a skunk or kill them, so it’s best sampled by those with a death wish. A 4 oz. drink of bug juice affects the drinker depending on his CON score and the potency of the stuff. To determine the lethal threshold of the drink, the referee rolls 2d6+1 prior to consumption. Any creature with a CON score less than or equal to the result of that roll must immediately make a CONx5 roll or suffer 1d6+1 damage for 1d3 rounds.

Creatures with CON scores above the bug juice’s potency roll are affected less severely and need only make a successful Opposition Roll against the liquor’s potency score each time they consume a drink. Failing even a single check renders them extremely intoxicated. Those drunk on bug juice suffer a -10 penalty on their strike rank and all skills are halved for the duration of the drunkenness, which lasts 2d10 hours.


I’m not a big fan of what passes for “nerd comedy” when it comes to film and television. Part of my aversion for it lies undoubtedly in being self-conscious about the fact that all too often the arrow hits a little closer to home than I’d like to admit when geeks are portrayed on the screen. However, this is not the sole reason for my distaste. When it comes to comedy, I prefer my humor to have a certain craftsmanship, to take the more difficult road rather than go for the easy laugh. This is seldom the case when nerds, geeks, and gamers show up in a comedic film or TV show. Lazy writers slap some Spock or elf ears on a cardboard character, make him or her socially paralyzed when it comes to human interaction, and expect hilarity to ensue. This is even the case when the people being mocked are the very same audience being targeted. The Big Bang Theory, I’m looking at you.

On the other hand, geek comedy can go too far with their reliance on obscure subject matter, making them completely inaccessible to someone who’s never rolled a d20 or can't tell the difference between a Dalek, a Klingon, and a Wookiee. Anyone who has ever watched something like The Gamers with their non-nerdy, but entirely tolerant other half knows exactly what I’m talking about.

However, every so often you come across a film or TV comedy that manages to walk the fine line between both of these extremes. Last night, I was pleasantly surprised to find one of these rare creatures in the 2007 Icelandic film, Astropia.

Astropia, released in the US as Dorks & Damsels (because apparently no American-born geek would ever see a movie like this unless it mocked them and the hobby they enjoy), is the tale of the beautiful and privileged Hildur who, when her rich and exceedingly blonde boyfriend is sent to prison for tax evasion and embezzlement, must get a job to make ends meet. Desperation forces her to accept a job at Atropia, the neighborhood comic, sci-fi, and games store, where she is immediately immersed into a world she has no understanding of—she’s put in charge of the role-playing games section. Although originally hired to increase business, it’s not too long before Hildur finds a place in this alien world.

While not completely free of the various stereotypes one might predict with such a premise, it’s kinder than most, and Hildur’s co-workers are portrayed with greater depth than could be expected in a similar, lazier production. Gamers and comic buffs will enjoy the name-dropping that occurs in the store (Mark Millar, Grant Morrison, and Monte Cook all get mentioned), and it takes a familiarity with the hobby to fully comprehend Hildur’s faux pas of trying to sell a copy of The World of Darkness to a customer looking for The Book of Vile Darkness.

Unlike The Gamers and other films marketed solely to the niche audience, Astropia is not all geek humor. Hildur’s relationship with her standoffish nephew gives the film some pathos, while her boyfriend’s attempts to acclimate to prison life (Note to self: Although cigarettes may be prison currency, the Icelandic equivalent of Virginia Slims have limited value in lock-up) and his ultimate Shawshank Redemption-inspired attempt to escape provide laughs that cross audience boundaries. The film’s final climax where the lines between fantasy and reality blur is satisfying enough and mixes a Leroy Jenkins joke with the dangers of second-hand smoke.

While not a comedic masterpiece destined to survive the ages, Astropia is a pleasant enough diversion, one that can be shared by gaming geeks and their straight-laced friends and family with equal enjoyment. Most satisfying of all, from a gamer perspective, is that the role-playing group Hildur joins, while not completely free of cheap shots, is closer to the reality than most other depictions I’ve seen. There’s not a pair of elf-ears in sight…at least until the DM starts the adventure, anyway. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pacesetter is Back! No Time-Machine Required

Dan Proctor announced yesterday that Goblinoid Games has acquired the rights to both the Pacesetter logo and brand. This comes in the wake of Goblinoid Games’ acquisition and re-printing of Pacesetter’s TIMEMASTER game. Unfortunately, former Pacesetter titles like CHILL and STAR ACE remain tied-up with other property owners for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, this marks the next step in Dan’s plan to revive old games and produce new ones based on those titles, much like he did with the recent release of ROTWORLD. Expect more announcements in the vein in the months to come.

For the record, I’ve told Dan that if he ever gets his hands on SANDMAN, I’d be the first in line to volunteer finishing that funky-ass experiment that Pacesetter started, but never saw to fruition. Oh man, what I’d do with that crazy game…

Change is Good

No, this isn’t a post about the just-announced and forthcoming version of Dungeon & Dragons (but we’ll get to that in a moment). This is about looking forward to 2012 and new directions in the year to come—which may be important on the off-chance the Mayans knew something we don’t.

Last year, I announced that this blog would be coming to an end. I felt that I had taken the Society as far as it could go based on my original purpose of chronicling my return to the gaming fold and wishing to contribute something to this nebulous thing we call the Old School Renaissance (or whatever OSR stands for this week). In some ways, I still believe that. I’ve done what I set out to do and succeeded beyond my wildest expectations.

Since its inception, this blog and the material produced for it allowed me to establish a presence hitherto undreamt of—by me anyway— in the gaming community and the industry that supports us. I don’t think anyone can dispute that The Dungeon Alphabet and Stonehell Dungeon remain examples of some of the better works created by this movement. The Dungeon Alphabet was especially well-received and is one of the few works that achieved success outside of the OSR, drawing praise from not only grognards but folks who entered this hobby in more recent years. That continues to blow my mind.

Having done what I set out to do, my choices were to either start anew or shut down. My workload made me more inclined to the latter. But with the start of the New Year, my attitude has changed. I’m hacking away at the “To Be Done” list, and although I expect it will fill up again (at least I’m praying it will), I think I’ll be able to dedicate some more time to this blog o’ mine. The Society has been around for more than three years now and maintains a steady readership. And while it doesn’t have the number of fans some older and more prolific blogs have, SoTPR is still in the upper echelon of old school blogs. It seems as shame to throw away all that hard work now.

So what to do? First off, it’s high time this place got a revamp. In the weeks ahead I will be playing with the design a bit to come up with something new, but still legible. I’ll be editing and updating my links section and playing with ideas for a nifty new banner up top (I remain one of the few elder statesmen of blognards who has never gone beyond a text header). It’ll likely be a hack job since the visual arts is not my forte, but I’ll endeavor to keep it classy and discrete.

Secondly, I’m going to fold my side blog Secret Antiquities into this one. The premise of having a secondary blog for material not directly relating to fantasy gaming was sound, but the end result was two blogs I ignored and not much progress made on either. Seeing as we’re all gamers, I don’t think anyone will mind too much if I post the occasional design ideas for a system other than D&D and its various clones. Unless my readership starts abandoning the joint in droves, expect to see some reposting of things from Secret Antiquities here as I integrate both blogs into one.

Thirdly, and I know I’ve stated it before, 2012 will be the year the Stonehell sequel is finally released. The fact that it is so far behind tears me up more than I’d like to admit and since my name is synonymous with that dungeon, I feel its failure to see the light of day reflects poorly on me. To correct this, I’m committed to producing one new quadrant of Stonehell a week. While that might mean it takes all year to complete the manuscript, slow progress trumps no progress.

Lastly, although connected to the above, 2012 will see me at GaryCon IV. I intend to try and play as much as I can, but I will be bringing Stonehell with me to Lake Geneva, hopefully with brand new material to test drive. There are no official Stonehell sessions on the schedule, but if you corner me, I’ll gladly run it during the open gaming portions of the con. I’ll even allow your FLAILSNAILERS to bring your PCs for a visit if that’s cool with how things work in FLAILSNAIL-land. As always, Stonehell’s Save Your Ass T-shirts will be honored, so grab one now and edge out your competition for loot.

More projects and plans will be announced as they develop, but I think the above is going to keep me busy for awhile.

OK, with that out of the way, let me say my piece on the 5th edition which isn’t the 5th edition of D&D. In all honesty, I was completely indifferent about the announcement. That surprised me a little, but it’s the truth. There’s no gnashing of teeth or rending of raiment here. The game will come, I’ll check it out, and if it’s fun and captures my interest, I’ll play it from time to time. I’ve no expectations that it will heal the great edition rift or create the greatest version of the game ever. I might run it or I might not. I signed up to get a look at the beta version once it’s released, but I suspect that will be the extent of my involvement. I’m certainly not going to attempt to steer its direction. It will be whatever Mike and Monte design within the boundaries laid down by management. I wish them the best and hope Wizards comes out with an entertaining diversion that attracts more gamers to the fold. After all, more tabletop gamers are good in the grand scheme of things.

I don’t expect to give much coverage to the game here so this may very well be the last words I say on the game until it is released. Others will certainly be following its development with close scrutiny. I’ll say this though: “5E” looks really, really strange when seen written out to my eyes. I must be getting older.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

They were Gods in those Days

Jeff Rients recently wrote two posts regarding the wild and zany antics the boys in Lake Geneva got up to back in the early years of this hobby. Inspired by those anecdotes, I wanted to share one of my favorite old war stories from years gone by. This one was recounted by Roger E. Moore in an editorial on fear that appeared in Dragon #156 (April 1990)
I was in a GAMMA WORLD game that Jim Ward ran a few years ago. It scared me to death. Jim has a habit of rolling huge numbers of dice of damage at the snap of a laser, and his campaign was full of amusing things such as Cthulhu-size lake monsters and deathray satellites that diced up ground targets with impunity. But his most famous creation was the subtly named Death Machine, a nice little military relic of the Social Wars of the game’s background.

What’s a Death Machine, some of you may ask. Here’s a story: A few years ago, when I was in the Army, I told everyone in my gaming group to each pick his or her favorite deity from the AD&D® game, and prepare to role-play that deity in a special scenario I had developed. The next hour was spent in feverish excitement as a large assortment of gods and supermonsters met on a deserted plain and awaited their opponents. Suddenly a huge space-time warp opened up in front of the incredible assembly . . . and out of the alien warp came three brand-new, fully armed, fully powered Death Machines on random programming.

Two gods died in the first 10 seconds of combat, each taking over 700 hp of damage. A third god died before the minute-long fight was over, and two other gods (including Demogorgon) fled the battlefield in utter panic. All the rest of the deities were pounded with atomic missiles, lasers, bombs, rockets, shells, bullets, force fields, and death rays. Thor bent the nose of one Death Machine with Mjolnir but took a nuke in return. If I had not used random attacks, all of the gods would have died in 30 seconds, no sweat. It was wonderful.
I think we need more of this sort of thing. Thank goodness there are still referees who indulge in these sort of antics and keep the wild and wooly days of yore alive.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why I'll Never Be a Superstar

An email popped into my inbox tonight reminding me that the Paizo RPG Superstar 2012 competition is underway and that the deadline for the first round of entries is January 6th. Normally, this is something that I'd not be moved to participate in, but every since I got my hands on the Pathfinder Beginners Box, I've been examining the game in a somewhat different light. About ten minutes after I received that email, an idea for an entry popped into my head and I figured, "What the hell. Why not submit it?"

Then I read this in the rules: 
Anyone with a cover credit on a hardcover RPG book is ineligible.

Damn you, The Dungeon Alphabet! If only Goodman Games had been cheap bastards and gone with a softcover rather than a stylish and durable hardcover I might have been the next RPG Superstar! Looks like I'll have to become one the old-fashioned way. Back to work for me.