Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gateway Games in Cincinnati

Well, that was unexpected. The Sun Sword post exploded. I shared it on a few G+ groups and it quickly become my most viewed, and most commented on entry.  I'm even getting traffic from reddit somehow.  I'm rewriting it into a less "copyright infringing" form and adding some more content to it for submission to CUaBM.   Here's hoping it will get published!  If it doesn't I'll post the new write-up here later.

I'm up in Cincinnati this week for work, so while I was here I stopped in to check out Gateway games. I'd heard +Jim Wampler talk about the store on Spellburn! so I figured it must be a cool place.  It most definitely is. I spent most of the time talking to the owner about DCC, Gencon, Gary Con, and North Texas RPG con.  He had TONS of DCC stuff for sale, including every DCC Zine published so far and a few things I thought only existed in PDF.  The stores around my place don't even carry DCC let alone cool stuff like that. I couldn't resist the awesome DCC loot he had for sale so I spent a few dollars. I guess I was in a +Michael Curtis kind of mood.


If you are in the Cincinnati area be sure and stop by to have a look! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fan Created Gamma World Adventures

Did you know that a bunch of Gamma World fans got together and finished the old TSR gamma world module line?   I didn't until I was reading the Wikipedia page for Gamma World one day and it referenced the fan produced adventures GW5 and GW11.  I immediately scoured the internet for these hoping they were still hosted somewhere.  They are.  Wayne's Books hosts them on this page.  Here's the direct links if you want to jump right to the good stuff:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Sun Sword for Dungeon Crawl Classics

For my Crawling Under a Broken Moon game I'm  creating both a one-shot adventure as well material for an ongoing campaign.   The one shot adventure will use the characters from Post Apoclypse archetypes.  One of those characters is Thundarr, of course, and what's Thundarr without his Sun Sword!

One of the many unique objects in Thundarr is the Sun Sword.  The shows creators were, well let's just say inspired by, Star Wars.  The Sun Sword is pretty much a lightsaber. In the show  Thundarr uses it to do all kinds of things, except actually cutting people up. I want to represent  how Thundarr uses the sword, but also make it a little more DCC-ish. What's more DCC than an intelligent magic sword?

The Sun Sword
The Sun Sword is an intelligent techno-magical weapon.  Its purpose is to defeat the wizards.  The sword will only come to life when wielded by a worthy (Lawful) user.  The sword exerts its empathy on the bearer to influence him to seek out and destroy wizards.  It does this by infesting its wielder with techno-magical nanites. These nanites bond the wielder to the sword.

The sword will not allow itself to be used on a normal person or humanoid. In most cases, the wielder will not even think to use it in this way.  Rather the bearer will use it in non-damaging ways like slicing an enemy's weapon in half.  The Sword is somewhat ambivalent about mutants and monsters and deals reduced damage if striking these types of creatures. (Judges discretion on what the Sword considers to be humanoid and what is a monster.) The Sword can be wielded at full damage against robots and animate non-living monsters. The Sun Sword will lose charge over time and need to be recharged.  The bearer will suffer penalties to his/her Strength and Stamina until it is recharged. This happens whenever the Judge wants it to.  If the wielder constantly goes against the sword it will become displeased and cease to function, waiting for a more worthy bearer.

The Sun Sword, Unique Artifact Weapon+2:1d16+2 damage; Int 12; AL Lawful; bane:wizards(The evil techno-wizards not all wizards) and demons (hardiness: take half damage from attacks from banes); communication:empathy, special purpose: rid the world of the wizards, special powers: create light in a 20' radius at will, eviscerator (if max damage is rolled roll again and add it.)

The Sun Sword can only be fully wielded by classes that use mighty deeds.  A mighty deed can be employed  to cut an enemy's weapon in half or perform other disabling moves. In a non-combat situation the Sun Sword can be used to cut/burn through whatever the Judge will allow.

 The sword can always be used to attack it's banes, the evil techno-wizards of the broken world and demons. The sword will force an Ego check if used to attack a human or humanoid. The damage drops to 1d8+2 if used against mutants and monsters.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Is He Wearing Pants?

As I mentioned in my last post.  My Deadlands campaign had some moments that are now legendary among the players. Here they are.

"Is he wearing pants?"
In a Deadlands game, one character was an old coot prospector.  He had a penchant for dynamite. He and another player were trapped in a jail cell by a vampire. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “You are in the back of the jail, the vampire is blocking the only way out.”
Prospector: “Is the Vampire wearing pants?”
Me: “Uhm…Yes?”
Prospector: ” I stick my lit dynamite in his pants and dive under the cot in the jail cell.”
Texas Ranger: “You WHAT?!”
Vampire explodes, players barely survive.

"How much dynamite did you use?"
Another time, the same Prospector got the whole group involved in the craziness. They were tracking down some monsters that were terrorizing the local farms. Turns about the monsters were Velociraptors. The Prospector came up with a plan where two of the other players would get the raptors to chase them across a prepared trap. The trap, of course, involved dynamite.

Me: ” Okay the raptors are chasing them and about to cross the trap.”
Prospector: ” I set it off.”
Me: ” How much dynamite did you use?”
Prospector: ” All of it.”
Me: ” How much is that?”
Prospector: “24 sticks.”
Me:” Wow. That’s a little much. The raptors become so much thin red paste and the farm is now a giant crater. The vampire hunter, the shaman and their horses go flying. All the buildings on the farm are flattened. Don’t ask about the livestock.”

There was also a T-Rex in this adventure. The Texas Ranger ended up shooting it in the head, from INSIDE ITS MOUTH. I’m pretty sure the Prospector convinced him to do that too.

Bonus Story "Bear Spray"

Yet another time, we were playing Call of Cthulhu. The group was checking out a mansion that they suspected was home to some cultists.  The guy who played the Prospector, now a US Forest Ranger  was sneaking around on the mansion grounds.

Me: “You are confronted by 2 cultists. They point their shotguns at you.”
Ranger: ” I spray them with my bear spray, that stuff will incapacitate anyone.”
Me: ” You totally incapacitate the nearer one, the other one shoots you with his shotgun.”
This nearly killed the Ranger. As he lay bleeding to death on the ground,  the ex-navy seal that was hiding nearby was able to finish off Mr. Shotgun before he delivered the coup-de-grace.

Friday, July 18, 2014

My RPG Campaigns

This post started out with the intent of providing some context for my sidebar where I have links to all my old campaigns and ended up being the history of my RPG campaigns. It got a little long.

 In the right column of the blog there is a list of links called Games.  Those are links to all my RPG campaigns from when I used things like Obsidian Portal, Epic Words, and my own blogs to keep track of my games.  Not all my past campaigns are there but that’s most of them.  The sites functioned as an online campaign notebook.  I’ve transitioned to writing everything in Evernote now.  I’m not sure my players really looked at those sites anyway.  I email the parts that I want the players to read now.  Sometimes they even read them.   Btw, if you dig into those links, you might find some broken links and inaccessible pages. I tried to maintain everything but some of it is lost.  At some point Epic Words redid their whole site and it really mangled some of my campaigns. 

 Ars Magica was the first campaign where I used a webpage.   I think it was hosted at geocities, if you remember that far back into the internet history.   When I first moved to Dallas back in 1997, I had moved away from my regular gaming group, so I decided to try a PBEM (Play by Email) game.   I got a few friends to agree to give it a go.  It was a lot of fun for a while but it went the way most PBEMs go.  Some people stopped responding or I wasn’t able to post as often and the game eventually died.  I think almost the whole game is archived at that link.   I even wrote a campaign wrap-up a few years later.
 For a while, around 2001-2002, I played a lot of Warhammer 40k. A small group would meet every other Sunday to play 40k, paint models, and build terrain.   At some point I suggested an ongoing campaign, where each of us would choose a starting point on a map and each “turn” our various forces would spread out to new territories.    When two forces met, we’d fight a 40k battle.   If you notice the map is from Shogun.   It went pretty well for a while but after a bit we had too many pending battles stacked up and we could never find time to finish.  
Sometime around this same time, I started my first D&D 3E campaign.  The group played all the way through Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil and then continued on through a few more adventures.   I think they were all about level 18 when we stopped.   It was at this point that I realized high level D&D 3 games can become cumbersome, but that’s a whole other  blog post. I never made a webpage for this game for some reason.  Probably because there were only 4 players and 2 of them lived with me at the time.  

Sandwiched in here somewhere were both a Deadlands game and another D&D 3.5 game.  The Deadlands game was short lived but now legendary among the players, mostly for the amount of mayhem they caused. I'll post some of the stories tommorrow.

 My longest D&D 3.5 game was Eberron.  A few college friends had moved into town and rather than try and shoehorn them into a level 18 D&D game we decided to start a brand new game using the Eberron setting.  This game ran for years. I really got into the Eberron setting and the players enjoyed it immensely.  Eventually, I ran out of pre-written Eberron adventures, and I never have much time to write my own. I grabbed the Age of Worms adventure path and fit it into the Eberron setting. The game went all the way to Epic level.  The highlight of this game was the airship, Steel’s Edge.  At one point in the campaign the players acquired an airship that they named Steel’s Edge.  Three of the players built a scale model of the ship.  I still have it.  I’ll post pictures in the next few days. At the end of this campaign, I decided I was tired of D&D 3.5.  Epic level characters and high level combats were a lot of work.  If I ever run a D&D 5E game it will be set in Eberron and a sequel to this campaign.  
The next campaign I started was a Call of Cthulhu Delta Green campaign. This is my longest running game to date. We've been playing it off and on since 2007.  We’re getting ready to play a session next week.   At some point I started adding in some material from the Laundry RPG.  I really like the Laundry setting and novels.  Somehow, no one has died yet, though a few are horribly maimed and some are teetering on the brink of sanity.

Around this time, Dark Heresy was published, the original Black Library one, not the newer one by FFG.  I was still very into 40k so I wanted to play it. I started a side campaign with a different group of friends that was supposed to run once a month. We only managed 4 or 5 times a year.  I'm not kidding though, the Dark Heresy rules are a train wreck. The players seemed to like it so I forged ahead. My Dark Heresy is heavily house-ruled. I think it went almost 2 years.  I'm running it again now so it must not be all that bad.

I was part of the proto-kickstarter pre-order for Monte Cook’s Ptolus.  I fell in love with the setting.  It was written for D&D 3.5 but I didn’t really want to run another 3.5 game.  D&D 4E had recently been released so I converted the whole thing to 4E. The players made it though the Banewarrens and then some. The campaign lasted the entire life of 4E. We started the game a few months after the release of the 4E PHB and it ended September 2013, about the time 5E was announced.  Click the link on the right if you are interested in running a 4e Ptolus game.  All my conversions are there.
When the Dark Heresy game folded,  I still wanted to play a once a month game in addtion to the main Ptolus campaign. I started a Runequest game using the Mongoose RQ 2 rules, which I think is 5th Edition? It was pretty fun.  It went the way of every Runequest game I've ever run.  Eventually the characters get to a power level where I have to make more and more powerful NPCs/Monsters to challenge them and combat starts taking too long.  Still love Runequest though.  Back in the 80s, Runequest was the first fantasy RPG where I was a player rather than a DM. I still have my character sheet for my Initiate of Humakt. Never quite made it to Runelord.  I own the new 6th Edition rules. I'm sure there will be a campaign at some point.

 Back to Eberron!  WOTC re-did Eberron for 4E, so I started a second D&D 4E game using Eberron with a different group.  I like Eberron that much.  We only got together a few times before the game ended.  The players weren’t local and this was back in the days before Google hangouts and Roll 20 became the thing for playing RPGs remotely.  I think I ran out of adventures too.  I remember converting some of the 3E ones to 4E but never running them.

   I was detecting some burnout in the 4E Ptolus game so I put the game on hiatus and started a Mongoose Traveller game based on Firefly/Serenity.  Traveller is a very adaptable and I added in a lot of house rules from the Serenity RPG and a few of my own creation.  We ended the first season of this game. The second season could start anytime, though now we’re playing Star Wars (see below) so I think that game would have to end before going back to the is one.  They are somewhat similar.
 My current D&D game is Swords and Wizardry set in Greyhawk. After the Ptolus game ended I wanted to start an OSR game and run all the old cool TSR modules of my youth. This campaign is active but on pause so we could try out Star Wars.  At some point I’ll write up a post about Swords and Wizardry and the OSR.  It’s the version of D&D I’ve been searching for since 2E.
The  games I am currently running Star Wars Edge of the Empire with my tabletop group and Dark Heresy with my online hangouts group.  Edge of the Empire is in interesting system. It’s almost but not quite a story game.   The online group drug me back into Dark Heresy.  They are heavily invested in the 40k universe otherwise I wouldn’t have tried it. Lots of house rules.
There was also the DCC game in there somewhere that I referred to in this post.  That was my one of my first Google hangouts games.  I'm currently working on a post-apocalypse sandbox-style DCC game.  The plan is to write it up in this blog over the course of the next year. The Archetype post was the first step in creating that campaign.  Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Dread Gazebo

This weeks blog entry is taking a little longer for me to write and edit, so here's a old story to tide you over.  This story is an RPG legend. I have no idea if it's true.  I first read it on a Usenet news group back in 1991. It even has it's own wikipedia entry.  The story predates the internet, handed down from gamer to gamer through the years.

 The Tale of Eric and the Dread Gazebo
by Richard Aronson

In the early seventies, Ed Whitchurch ran “his game”, and one of the participants was Eric Sorenson. Eric plays something like a computer. When he games, he methodically considers each possibility before choosing his preferred option. If given time, he will invariably pick the optimal solution. It has been known to take weeks. He is otherwise, in all respects, a superior gamer.  Eric was playing a Neutral Paladin in Ed’s game. He was on some lord’s lands when the following exchange occurred:
ED: You see a well groomed garden. In the middle, on a small hill, you see a gazebo.
ERIC: A gazebo? What color is it?
ED: [pause] It’s white, Eric.
ERIC: How far away is it?
ED: About 50 yards.
ERIC: How big is it?
ED: [pause] It’s about 30 ft across, 15 ft high, with a pointed top.
ERIC: I use my sword to detect good on it.
ED: It’s not good, Eric. It’s a gazebo.
ERIC: [pause] I call out to it.
ED: It won’t answer. It’s a gazebo.
ERIC: [pause] I sheathe my sword and draw my bow and arrows. Does it respond in any way?
ED: No, Eric, it’s a gazebo!
ERIC: I shoot it with my bow. [roll to hit] What happened?
ED: There is now a gazebo with an arrow sticking out of it.
ERIC: [pause] Wasn’t it wounded?
ERIC: [whimper] But that was a +3 arrow!
ED: It’s a gazebo, Eric, a GAZEBO! If you really want to try to destroy it, you could try to chop it with an axe, I suppose, or you could try to burn it, but I don’t know why anybody would even try. It’s a @#$%!! gazebo!
ERIC: [long pause. He has no axe or fire spells.] I run away.
ED: [thoroughly frustrated] It’s too late. You’ve awakened the gazebo. It catches you and eats you.
ERIC: [reaching for his dice] Maybe I’ll roll up a fire-using mage so I can avenge my Paladin.

The above is Copyright © 1989 by Richard Aronson. Reprinted with permission. The author grants permission to reprint as long as all copyright notices remain with the text. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Post Apocalypse Archetypes

Archetypes are one of my favorite RPG tools. Archetypes are example characters that personify the setting or campaign. They illustrate to new players what kinds of characters inhabit your world. I first encountered them back in Shadowrun 1st Edition. If you remember the Shadowrun book, it had these great color glossy pages with a picture and a fully stated character for each archetype. Here's the Street Samurai from my Shadowrun book. Note the pencil marks on the page tracking his health. I really wish teenage me hadn't written in my books.

Deadlands used the same archetype format. Here's our friend the Texas Ranger.

I usually create a set of archetypes for my new campaigns. Archetypes really let the players get a feel for the setting. The Archetypes also become a set of initial NPC to populate your world.

I am working with my friend +Chris Bare on his new RPG. We are planning to co-GM a play test session later this year at Dragoncon. He's going to handle all the rules and I'll be creating the characters and the adventure. We're both big fans of Thundarr so the setting is a sorcery and super-science apocalypse.

Here's the set of archetypes for the play test. These are all inspired by (shamelessly stolen) from other post-apocalypse settings. I'm also planing to use these archetypes for my DCC post-apocalypse game. In a future post, I'll flesh them out with suggestions on how to use them in DCC.

The Barbarian
"Lords of Light!"
Likes: freedom, sorcerers, Moks, catch phrases
Dislikes: wizards, technology, slavery
Barbarians are the inheritors of the broken world. The old world is gone and the barbarians are forging a new one.  Wizards, monsters, sorcery, and super science aren't going to stand in their way. Barbarians distrust technology and hate wizards.

The Sorcerer/Sorceress
"Bullheaded Barbarian!"
Likes: barbarians, restoring civilization, puns, explaining things
Dislikes: wizards, slavery
Sorcerers are able to work magic much like the wizards.  Unlike the wizards, Sorcerers steer clear of the corrupting influence of demons and techno-magical devices and are able to maintain their sanity. They are few in number but do what they can to assist those who fight the wizards. 

The Mok
Likes: food, barbarians, friends, throwing things.
Dislikes: slavery, wizards, fire, water, flying
Moks are a primitive race of super strong Lion-men that have emerged since the cataclysm.  They are firmly allied with the Barbarians against the wizards.

The Ranger 
"One Riot. One Ranger."
Likes: the rule of law, survivor communities, guns
Dislikes: raiders, mutant monsters
Part sheriff, part scout, part sniper.  The Rangers are the descendants of a group of Army Rangers that survived the cataclysm.  The Rangers keep tabs on the raiders, wizards, and monsters of the wasteland and protect the survivor communities.  They get along well with the Barbarians and the Road Warriors. (The Ranger is one of my favorite archetypes. They show up in a lot of post-apocalypse settings. All the way back to the Desert Rangers in Wasteland.)

The Brotherhood Scout
"I wouldn't touch that."
Likes: high tech weapons, The Brotherhood, tech caches
Dislikes: raiders, those who misuse technology
The Brotherhood are the last remnants of the old world military.  Their scouts roam the wasteland looking for caches of ancient technology.  Scouts escort Scribes acting as bodyguards and guides.  The Rangers and the Brotherhood know about each other.  Individuals of the two groups often cooperate, but the groups as a whole are at odds.  As the last remnants of the military, the Brotherhood thinks the Rangers should join them.  What the Rangers think of this idea is not very polite.

The Brotherhood Scribe
"I'll encourage people to name their non-ugly children after you."
Likes: old books, data caches, The Brotherhood
Dislikes: book burning, apocalyptic cults
Scribes seek out old libraries and data banks in order to preserve knowledge.They are experts in old world tech and often assist survivor communities.  A scribe is normally partnered with a scout for missions.

The Road Warrior
"And the Road Warrior? That was the last we ever saw of him."
Likes: cars, kids, dogs
Dislikes: raider gangs
The Road Warriors roam the wasteland in souped up muscle cars dispensing wasteland justice. No one knows where the Road Warriors come from or why they do what they do.  They don't seem to communicate or even interact with one another.  One thing is for sure, no raider gang wants to see a V-8 Interceptor on the horizon.

The Vault Dweller
"Do you know were I can find a water chip?"
Likes: Being safe in their vault
Dislikes: Anything outside the vault
Vault Dwellers live in giant underground complexes meant to keep the remnants of humanity safe until the world was ready for them to emerge.  The problem is the world may never be safe again. A vault dweller has either left their vault in search of something or left voluntarily seeking a life outside the vault.

The Morrow Project
"This is not what I expected."
In the early 1970s, a billionaire who was either very smart or very crazy predicted the coming cataclysm. He gathered up small groups of like minded people, trained them, and froze them in cryo-stasis in underground bunkers. After the cataclysm, the sleepers would emerge assist the survivors in rebuilding. No plan survives contact with a worldwide cataclysm. Many of the stasis chambers malfunctioned and only a few Morrow Project teams survived. The world of 3094 is not what the few surviving sleepers were expecting. Morrow Project team members are highly skilled and combat trained. If their bunker survived intact them may even have access to modern era gear.  ( The Morrow Project setting is cool. I never played it but I ruthlessly plundered it's treasures for my Aftermath game back in the eighties.)

If you read this far and want to know the secret of the Road Warriors click here.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Crawlers Companion

Purple Sorcerer GamesI'm home visiting the family this week, I just got back from visiting family, so only a short update today.  +Jon Marr  over at Purple Sorcerer Games is running a fundraiser for the Crawlers Companion.  The Crawlers Companion is an web/android/ios app that has a ton of useful tools for DCC.  I literally could not run DCC without it. The app is 100% free. The fundraiser is to cover hosting and future development.  Jon is offering all kinds of cool stuff as rewards for donating.  If you play or run DCC make sure you check it out!  This was supposed to post three days ago but my blog-fu wasn't working.  You still have a little less than 2 hours to donate though!  If you miss donating make sure you check out the adventures Jon has for sale.  The Sunken City series is a great starting location for any DCC group.