Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Today I head out for my first GenCon ever. I've wanted to go since I first saw the ads for Gencon in Dragon magazine back in the 80's.  I didn't manage to get in any pre-reg games, but everyone tells me that doesn't matter. I'm planning to hit the DCC tourney's and games on demand to see what's up. I'll also be in the Embassy Suites bar most night hanging out with the DCC crew. If you're there stop by and say hi! Here's my tentative schedule. I have a feeling I will skip most of this and just wander around.

Thursday 10 am - 1pm 
Thursday 1pm - close - Exhibit Hall!

Friday 9am - 1pm 

Friday 3pm - 4pm
Titansgrave Panel

Friday 7pm 
How to write adventures that don't suck

Sat 10am - 1pm 

Sat 7pm 
Goodman Games

DCC tourneys - JW Marriort room 314

Death by Nexus 
Thursday 10am -1pm
Friday 9am-12pm
Saturday 2pm - 5pm
Sunday 9am-12pm

Enter the Dagon
Thurs 2pm - 5pm
Friday 1pm - 4pm
Saturday 10am - 1pm

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Grim and Gritty 41st Millennium - a Kill Team RPG

I've wanted a Warhammer 40k RPG since I read (and re-read!) the Rouge Trader book.  It was a Christmas gift from my parents when was I was 15. I desperately wanted it to be an RPG. Alas, it was a war game. A war game I still play to this day. I was ecstatic about the release of Dark Heresy. Finally! An actual 40k RPG! Then Black Library immediately dropped it, or went under, I forget. Then Fantasy Flight picked it up! Unfortunately, after many years it's not the 40k RPG I want.

I own them all: Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Death Watch, Black Crusade, Only War, and Dark Heresy 2E.  I've run an ongoing Dark Heresy game for 7 years, another Dark Heresy game for 2 years, and a year long  Rogue Trader game. They don't work for me. I want the 40k RPG that's pictured in Rouge Trader:  a dirtier, grittier Star Wars, Space Marines hanging out in bars, mercenary Eldar, and Squats! I also need a different rule set. Even with the improvements of Dark Heresy 2E, the rules are cumbersome. My house rules have become quite extensive.

So! I'm going to create my own 40k campaign. One with a less constrained 40k universe and different rules. I'm going to convert the rules to the BRP system (Runequest, Call of Cthulhu)  If you peer deep enough at Dark Heresy  you can see its Runequest DNA. I'll post a more extensive write up of my conversions in the weeks to come.

At it's heart, the campaign will be a Star Wars/Firefly type game. The characters have their own ship and bounce around the galaxy getting into trouble. To make the 40k universe less restrictive I'm making these alterations

Warp travel is less difficult.
In the current 40k fluff you need a cathedral sized star ship with a crew of 20,000 and a special Navigator character to jump through Warp space. Also, no one but the Imperial Navy or Rogue Traders can even have a ship. That goes out the window. Warp travel can be accomplished by small ships crewed by fewer people. Having a navigator is an advantage, but not required. In the original Rogue Trader book, warp capable ships can jump between star systems without a navigator. A navigator allows huge jumps, tens of thousands of light years. The cathedral ships are still around but only in the hands of the Imperium.

Aliens aren't anathema.
In the 40k milieu, if a Xenos were to set foot on a imperial planet, the Imperium would have to murder everyone who saw it and possibly burn the whole planet to ash. I want players to be able to make Xenos characters. Orks, Eldar, Tau, and Kroot are rare within the Imperium space. Xenos are shunned, but not cause for outright OMG KILL IT WITH FIRE. Hive worlds on the fringes have an "alien" quarters where Xenos congregate. Tyranids are still monsters who will eat your face. Necrons are hidden and secretive. I like the idea of a Necron crime lord.

The Imperium isn't in a state of near death.
Depending on what you read, the Imperium is in a state of near constant collapse, about to be eaten by Tyranids, overrun by Orks, or burned to the ground by Chaos. In this campaign, those threats exist but in smaller scope. The Imperium is both more stable and less capable. It's a decadent barely functional bureaucracy with islands of stability and pockets of anarchy. Every Xenos race is not constantly at war with the Imperium. Independent planets  that are not part of the Imperium exist.

The characters have all rejected the Imperium.
 In the 40k RPGs, except for Black Crusade, the characters are Imperial agents: Inquisition acolytes, a Rogue Trader crew, Space Marines, or Imperial Guard. In this campaign the characters are a kill team for hire. They are outlaws, hereteks, rogue psykers, fallen acolytes, chaos cultists and Xenos. Rogue space marines are an option as well, marines who have deserted chapter but not fallen to Chaos.

In effect, the campaign will look like a mash-up of Black Crusade and Rouge Trader. The Kill Team background opens up numerous possibilities for adventure. Nearly any existing 40k adventure could be used by replacing the lead-in with "You've been hired to....."

Stay tuned for more posts on this subject!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Beastmen and Yucky Frogs

I run a once a month Swords and Wizardry game for some friends. They are about to enter the first dungeon level of the Temple of Elemental Evil. There are a lot of repeated monsters on that level, Gnolls and Ghouls mostly. I wanted it to be more interesting so I  grabbed my brand new PDF of the Monster Alphabet and changed all the gnolls to beast men. I also used a few things from the beast men table in Sailors on the Starless Sea. Here's what I came up with. Feel free to use them in one of your games. 

1 - Human with over sized hanging jowls that drip ichor, tiny pinholes for eyes
2- Man-bear
3- Rhino-man
4- Dwarf with a hunched back with a Ram's head growing out of the hunch. 
5- Human with a flapping wet mess instead of a mouth
6- Octopus head
7-  Head of a fly
8 - Ram's head
9-  Elf with a Horned viper head sprouts from the middle of its back 
10 - Leopard spots with a Komodo Dragon Head
11 - Black Mamba head, can teleport
12 - Jackal head
13 - Razor sharp alabaster swan wings and a caribou head
14 - Water Buffalo Head ; breath weapon of angry bees
15- Halfling with a drooping vulture neck
16 - Hyena head with a psy blast that does 1d8 damage
17 - Ant head with rhino horns
18 - Human head/body with ostrich legs 
19 - Frilled lizard head
20 - Gecko head
21 - Scarab beetle head - can speak a power word that ends a single spell or spell effect
22 - Stag beetle head
23 - Wolf head with a tentacled tail that ends in a clawed hand. 
24 - Moose head with 2 sets of wings. One is brightly plumed exotic bird wings, the other is expansive pterodactyl wings. 
I also took about half the Ghouls/Ghasts on that level and replaced them with Tsathar (frog-men.) That wasn't weird enough though, so I used Y is for Yuck and S is for Sorcery to spice them up. 

Regular Sathar modified by Y is for Yuck
1- pukes up stomach to attack
2- conjoined with the dessicated husk of a twin
3- covered in blisters and boils save vs disease
4- smeared in excrement
5- filled with festering wounds and chunks of rotting meat sv vs disease
6- covered in thick mucus
7 - attempts to implant an egg in victims eye
8 -  projectile acid vomit
9 - camouflaged with dead bodies
10 - carry bags of offal and trash
11 - covered in mucas
12 - vomits up its own stomach

Tsather Scrouge modified with S is for Sorcery
1- moves with blinding speed, extra attack per round
2- turns invisible 1d3 rounds
3- shapeshifts into giant spider
4- turns in to type 1 demon (Vrock)