Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cthulhu & Chivalry NPC Deaths of Recent Note

The players of my Cthulhu & Chivalry campaign have had the luxury of travelling in a group of well armed NMA troopers. Enough of these "red shirts" suffered grievous wounds today one of my players accused me of whittling down the herd because I didn't want to keep up with the paperwork. Nothing could be further from truth! I had given the entire squad names so I could lovingly track the horrible fates which some of the supporting cast would surely meet. Here are the brave NPC meat-shields which took the deadly hits instead of my band of plucky PC's in this morning's session;

Chris Cox, NMA Soldier; died falling from rope bridge fending off an attack from a large bird.



                             
Roger Howard, NMA Soldier; gunned down by his own party after becoming infected with a strange, sticky substance.



Thomas Williamson, NMA Soldier; fell from rope bridge trying to flee from the horrid sticky substance turning his flesh into writhing vines.














There is also the case of the unfortunate Mr. Bartlett. This unlucky soldier has been battered by possessed trees, attacked by wolves, almost joined his brother in arms Cox in the rope bridge death-plunge and now suffers a gruesome wound from an errant musket shot. His last hope now resides in the good Dr. Norton patching him up. With that man's track record absolutions are already being prepared for good Mr. Bartlett.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

New USR Sword & Sorcery Supplement

[EDIT 07/11/17] Softcover 8.5" x 11" print version now available!

Horrors Material & Magic Malignant is now available from DriveThruRPG as a $1.95 PDF. This 11" x 8.5" publication will also be available as POD 31 page softcover black and white with a green color field with red lettering, not the black and white as depicted in the PDF. If you are concerned about toner ink I would not print out the cover from the PDF. There is a title page which will make for a less toner-intense cover. Anyways, the POD version will not be available for sale until I get my proof back and uncover all my typos. It will cost the same as the POD 38 page rule book, just shy of six bucks?



HM&MM provides 24 non-player characters typical of a sword and sorcery realm, 32 beasts and monsters as well as magic for all three schools found in USR Sword & Sorcery; Artifacts, Mesmerism, and Sorcery. With both USR Sword & Sorcery and Horrors Material & Magic Malignant the Crypt Keeper has everything they need to start playing sword and sorcery fantasy adventures in less than twenty minutes.

USR Sword & Sorcery features fast character creation, random encounter tables and simple resolution mechanics so folks can get down to the business of playing, not learning. 

So gird your loins, quaff your wine flask and leap into the fray with Vanishing Tower Press' latest release!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

ConTessa 2017 Bundle of Awesome

Yes, a $10.00 bundle of RPG PDF's is now up at RPGNow.com  to support Contessa 2017 convention schedule. 

I'm happy to participate and I've thrown in USR Sword & Sorcery, Anthropomorphic USR, Fear & Loathing USR and Western USR into this bundle.

Of course the reason you purchase the bundle is to get Patrick Stuart's and Scrap Princess' awesome Fire on the Velvet Horizon release. And support the great women who add to our hobby!



Sunday, June 11, 2017

Anthropomorphic USR Session Report

Only two players could make my Sunday morning Clockwork & Cthulhu campaign so we decided to run a one-shot of something different. I pulled out my USR hack Anthropomorphic USR with the accompanying introductory adventure I wrote. 


Utilizing USR for an impromptu game session is a no-brainer because it is a free rules-lite system with the basic free rules by Scott Malthouse like only nine pages. Character creation can be done in literally five minutes. At least that was the case for two PC's approaching The Terror of Central cold with no previous experience with the system.

The PC's selected their attribute mix and rolled for Hits. They both decided to roll randomly for their animal they derived from. One got a yak and the other an ape. Each fancied the other's animal so they switched. F%^$ng PC's. Always monkeying with stuff. For specialisms the Yak chose Mentalism, Demolitions, and Repair. The ape identified some form of hyper-polyglot ability and flinging poo. I don't think his third specialism was called out as it didn't seem to come up in play. Since The Terror of Central adventure has a specific set up there was no need to go through an equipment selection process. While the PC's bandied about names I read out the introductory "boxed text" for the adventure.

The introductory adventure in the rule book is an "escape the lab" scenario. As newly created anthropomorphs the PC's seek a way out of their current confinement during an apparent system wide malfunction. It didn't take long for Yak 'n Ape, the two jackanapes,  to begin exploring and messing with anything which looked messable with to start figuring out the environment. Per the scenario I rolled to see if Central comes back online every time the PC's entered a new keyed location. Central rolled positive when the PC's hit the teleporting tunnel. This calls for the PC's to be transported by Central to an alien planet. But before that they triggered the nuclear core meltdown by striding through the irradiation room, and lulled a sonic wailing unfinished clone to sleep before it shrieked them to death. The two anthropomorphs decided on keeping the little horror and pushed through to the cold storage server room. The ape, using his tremendous strength, ripped apart the door on the clone pod to fashion foot protection to retrace their steps back across the rapidly heating floor plates of the nuclear meltdown room. Shortly after flooding the rooms with glycol coolant in an attempt to stop the floor-melting heat in the irradiation room they found themselves in the teleporting tunnel.

But where to send them? Lacking a plan for this I turned to the random table I generated for The Monolith Beyond Space and Time. That adventure has a similar event and I penciled in a 1d6 table to roll a random world for PC's to transport to. The table consisted of: 1. Quelong, 2. Champions-based Earth filled with superheroes and supervillains, 3. Corum(Darksyde), 4. Carcossa, 5. Scenic Dunsmouth, and 6. Peril on the Purple Planet. If I rolled #5 I probably rolled again as I wouldn't have time to generate the village. Or I guess I could have just pulled things out of the book I liked on the fly. It's not like that isn't how I end up running a session anyway. But I didn't. I rolled a six and sent them and the sonic "baby" to the surface of the Purple Planet

Using the opening pitch of this DCC module I put the PC's within the teleporting tunnel, but now it is just a torn out section lying twisted on the side of a rugged hill. In the distance the weak, red sun. Below on the purple sands ursine-like humanoids battle each other around a cairn, each trying to plant their battle flag. Unnoticed but outnumbered the Ape PC decided to weaponize the weaponized unfinished clone by swinging the sleeping thing over his head and hurling it into the ursoids' melee. This happened after he snuck down close enough to hear them curse over the din of battle. Using his polyglot specialism he was able to get a handle on what was going on. The hurling has the predictable result of waking the unfinished clone who once landed amid the warring creatures began shrieking it's deadly wail. This killed many close to the wailing creature and put others to flight. The balanced now tipped in favor of one side and the losing clan fled the field. 

The victors planted their battle lance on the cairn, took trophies from the dead, and departed with the body of the unfinished clone. During the battle the wailing clone was attacked by some of the more resilient ursoids and silenced by brutal blows. When the coast was clear the PC's descended upon the purple plain and inspected the cairn more closely. It was artificial, metallic, and scoured by ages of windswept sand. Further the battle lance holding the flag of dried skin was obviously a rifle of advanced design and technology. They also found a handle recessed in the side of the cairn which allowed the side to be opened. The Yak used his Repair specialism to restore power to the artifact which in turn teleported the PC's back to the lab. 

When PC's cross dimensions in my games I'm of a mind if the adventure isn't about escaping the new dimension don't let the game stay for a long time in the new dimension. This will mean not making it difficult to leave, or to backtrack to the original game world. And this is fitting with the genre of action-orientated anthropomorphic animal comics.

So the PC's returned to the lab arriving at the junction of the teleportation tunnel, but with a section of the tunnel now missing leaving only bored basalt stone walls and severed power couplings. Here I made note my instructions for how the teleport tunnel works in the printed rule book is all garbage. In the book I have anyone walking down the passageway in either direction will be "flipped" into walking the opposite direction right before they return to the junction. This doesn't work as described at all. After this blog post I'm editing the book to make the "endless" teleporting tunnel work, make sense, and add more to the adventure.

Now the lab, apart from the missing section of tunnel, appears to have come alive in the party's absence. Including audible instructions ringing out from hidden speakers to cease resistance and prepare for termination sequence. Nonplussed, the Yak wants to examine the rifle they brought back from the purple planet. Making rolls against his Repair specialism he figures out quickly how it operates and that it is an energy weapon powered off of battery packs. Then the security robot arrives in the corridor. The PC's don't hesitate with a ranged fusilade of poo and plasma. Badly damaged the security bot lurches forward to engage the PC's but the Ape uses his Climb! (that's it, that is his third specialism!) to jump up onto the ceiling, using his strength to grip into the corridor ceiling, out of the way of the attacking robot. The Ape concludes the demonstration by dropping down onto the robot and stomping in its head. Before another security robot shows up the Yak has taken apart the downed bot and fashioned a bomb out of its power supply complete with wireless detonator, and the Ape has hammered the head casing into a serviceable helmet. 



The second attacking security bot beats the Yak senseless before the Ape can get the better of the bot and it to lies in ruin upon the hallway floor. The Ape revives the senseless Yak and he makes another bomb. It is here time was up and the session called.

Besides the error in the printed adventure the system, rules, and all seemed to work as intended; fast, loose to interpretation. As a one-shot I wasn't too concerned if I got some of the details on how the lab functions incorrect, but I could organize some of the most important information better and more on the front end of the text. Reference sheets for the Game Keeper with all the charts and tables from the rule book would be useful at the table. I'll need to create one and add it to the publication.

At the end of the day it was the great willingness of the PC's to embrace the genre and game accordingly which made the session work. Between the two of them they could carry the game without my input for stretches, but that is something I've gotten used to with this bunch during our long running Clockwork & Cthulhu game. As a group they don't need much from me to keep the action going.

6/19/17 [Edit]: The recovery and healings rules need to be looked at. They will most likely see a rewrite in the upcoming POD copy of the game I am writing right now!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

AD&D Rules I Never Used

I remember penciling in all the pluses to hit AC per weapon type, but I don't ever recall the DM paying any attention to it. I think we had to dig into the Monster Manual to identify our opponent's armor class and push the issue. You added strength bonuses if you had it and yeah boyo magic weapons was how you improved your chance to hit. 

I do know for a fact we never played surprise as outlined in the Dungeon Masters Guide. Too bad, it would have added a layer of deadliness, a quickening of combat which the drag out nature of "did I hit, yes 6 points of damage" and the DM would make some notes on paper would sometimes bug me about D&D combat. We were teens so combat really only became cinematic when fireballs were unleashed or the monk PC tried something stupid.

But I pulled out my 1e DM Guide cause, well, there are so many things which delight and frustrate me about the AD&D system I like to revisit the 1e books and figure ways to enhance my B/X games or port the flavor of the classic D&D magic system into BRP. And so I was reading the surprise rules on page 61 getting the usual bemusement. That is a necessary mechanic, providing a rules for a combat event I would want to have in my game, but man they are worse than the los rules in Wellington's Victory. I think they are a confusing mess.  I can see why my DM in those heady days just passed them up.

On page 62 though the rules on surprise made me perk up and get interested. And I quote; "Because the party surprised is (relatively) inactive, the surprising party will be able to attempt telling blows during each segment of surprise as if the segment were an entire round!" Okay, now there is a reason to figure out those fiddly segment rules back on page 61. A chance to land more than one telling blow before an initiative check. But here is the combat game changer I never saw at my early game table; "Even if distance prevents striking with weapons, the discharge of arrows, bolts or hand-hurled weapons is permissible at three times the normal rate..."



I want to track down my old DM, book in hand and wave it around saying WTF?! This rule never hit our table. I generally prefer my Moldvay B/X rules over AD&D. Clarity, brevity, and well organized the first rpg rulebook I had was really helpful. But this rule is kind of a tactical combat game changer. It incentives setting up surprise situations, ambushes you know. Also a place to dump all the gold your PC's are accumulating; bow-wielding henchmen.

The Dungeon Masters guide is a thick book with rules scattered pell-mell so I know there are many more my early gaming group never used. And generally when I peruse my old books I don't really care. The new retro-clones available now clean up the rules mostly to my satisfaction. But the surprise rules, there is something there to like. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

I've never been to a con, but

I already have a huge beef. Whenever I google a con, whether I end up on their web site or a press release, the con never says where it is. Australia, Ethiopia, Cleveland? Fuck if I know. Pick a con, any, and maybe you will get dates on the splash page, and then...? 



What disconnect happens when gaming convention organizers discuss on site logistics, convention bids, vendor space, etc and no one says, "Hey, should we let people know what continent this will occur?" 'eF 'em is what I think convention organizers say. I shudder to think such basic information is merely overlooked.  

Build it and they will come is not a recipe for success for RPG conventions. I guarantee a game convention success is happenstance, relying on the sheer desire and interest of the participants. And your customers are being thwarted by your lazy-ass text. Just let people know where the event is being held. I'll help; "No story-games-allowed will be held in Aspen, CO, USA (emphasis added) December 8th - 10th 2017 at the Mt. Chalet. For further information email jay@resortrenovations.net." Just cut and paste and fill in your gaming convention's pertinent details. 

Put this info at the top of your web page. This will allow an untapped market of interested gamers the ability to say, I can make that. The quest should be found at the game table, not the reservation desk.

[Edit 04/09/2017] Gamehole Con does it right...

International two letter and three letter codes.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Clockwork & Cthulhu Story Arc

Butters wrote up a concise synopsis of the games arc to date on our community page. Here it is reprinted for those interested in the plot which has unfolded so far. This is a cockpit view of the PC's experience as they've rolled through the adventure I've set up as Keeper over a year of play. Make no mistake; this is not a regurgitation of description I told my players, they're knowledge has come from kicking in doors, faces, and prodigious lopping of limbs (not to mention the caving of baby skulls with rocks in the rain). Two PC's have died bloody death piecing things together so far. The game has been run bi-weekly, sometimes with a month break; and managing pace, intrigue, and excitement has been a fun challenge. The big lift, the helpful bits have come from using published game material and hacking it to my tastes. Trying to come up with all this stuff on my own and not be dull and predictable would be demanding.



What is he up to?
Mallebench and his brother come to Norfolk looking for heretical items all of which are possibly connected with the order of Kites a religious crusading order which their ancestor belonged to.
Mallebench brings in the Crows a mercenary band whilst his brother brings in the Cardinals to support him.

Mallebench goes to a great deal of trouble to get himself set up in Norwich, he arranges to have Randolph Nutley (A clockwork engineer) murdered by the Crows so that he could take his place at Norton Ironworks. This gives him access to a clockwork production facilities and after impressing the owner with his skills managed to become part of the companies inner circle very quickly especially after he helped secure a major military contract and happened to discover a nearby source of cheap coal.
All this seems to have been done to be able to secure men to mine and further guards/enforcers as the military contract required armed guards to be employed and as he was so trusted by the now grateful owner there was very little oversight on how resources were being used.
His brother remained outside of Norwich itself and seemed to be roaming around the surrounding countryside with his gang (The Cardinals) collecting artifacts and gathering information.
They were killed during the incident at Gothards hollow where they had attempted to recover a strange ruby bell from the tomb of a knight who later on appears to have been their ancestor from the Order of Kites.
Meanwhile Mallebench was spreading his influence in Norwich bribing some whilst corrupting others through blackmail he even hired a local gang by the name of the name of the Tenebrous hand
Seemingly one of the first to fall was a man called Rimehart a man who ran an import /export company of somewhat shady reputation and ideally placed to help Mallebench gain more artifacts and blackmail material. More weak men followed including a Captain in the town garrison.
Also during this time he seems to have set up a satanic temple and recruiting members of the upper classes into it this provided more funds as he soon made requests for soft loans.
All this effort seemed to be in aid of gathering resources and funds for some big operation various tunnels were explored under Norwich including several under the castle (The source of the cracked wall?)
It seemed he was after something in particular though as he seemed happy to sell a powerful artifact to one of the new Satanists (The cursed sword) for a huge amount of money.
All this effort seems to be spent suddenly after something was found at the small hamlet of Conistan and even though his brother had died the plan was still on.
Mallebench now started spending money and transferring miners from the New Norton coal mine at Wythburn to excavations now starting at Coniston.
More and more resources were diverted from Norton ironworks including men, digging equipment and a variety of clockwork devices.
This couldn't go on for too long though as the diverted resources started to effect the main ironworks the dwindling supply of coal being the most noticeable.
The dig at Coniston uncovered a strange and terrible structure which seemed to be a vast temple complex
Soon all the German miners were sent to the Coniston dig where they were all sacrificed to call forth a demon of some sort if this was the plan then due the somewhat accidental actions by the Party this failed to go off correctly resulting in the destruction of Coniston, the sending back of the demon? and the creation of the blighted area.
Mallebench then seemed to go into clean up mode as the effective removal of the demon combined with the Parties return from the Pale Ladies realm not only caused a big explosion, the Blight but brought other strange changes. So after leaving the Coniston area via Keswick (This resulted in the centre of Keswick being burnt down during a flesh beast attack) he returned to Norwich and seemed to begin eliminating anyone who could identify him.
The Hand were set up to be attacked by the Party after failing to recover some books that he wanted he also arranged for the murders of the Satanist group he had set up.
The last of the Crows died in a cavern under a ruined church in Norwich to some sort of hell toad ? Whilst trying to return those self same books.
So what's Mallebench up to his brother is dead, the demon didn't work out, he blew his cover at Norton's by using up all those resources, he hasn't managed to get his books back and seems to be destroying whatever was left of his Norwich network so what is he up to and what if anything is he still looking for? What were Ghwon and Tobias doing in that cavern and more importantly where the hell is he?

Still alive
Rimehart