Saturday, June 3, 2023

Uses & Absuses of The Expanded Monsters: Eldritch Eyes By James Mishler Games For the Shadow ermm Your Castles & Crusades rpg Campaign

 "Expanded Monsters: Eldritch Eyes provides Shadowdark RPG game masters with a new order of monstrous creature with which to bedevil their players. The Eldritch Eyes are strange and powerful creatures with a terrifying origin. The booklet provides several ranks of Eldritch Eyes that can challenge characters and players of all levels!

This booklet includes:
General Description
Eldritch Eye Eyestalk Powers
Eldritch Gas Spore
Least Eldritch Eye
Minor Eldritch Eye
Lesser Eldritch Eye
Greater Eldritch Eye
Major Eldritch Eye
Eldritch Eye Lord
Petty Eldritch Eye
Magic Item: Arcane Orb
Magic Item: Eldritch Eyestalk Wand
Equivalent Hit Die System
Minimum Experience Point Award System


"AND NOW, A WARNING: My Shadowdark products add further level of complexity to the rules and to play than a typical Shadowdark player might desire. The difference in complexity is about that between the Basic rules of a game and the Advanced rules. DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT IF YOU ARE NOT INTERESTED IN FURTHER COMPLEXITY IN YOUR GAME. YOU WILL BE DISAPPOINTED!"

So let's pick this up right from here on the blog. Now I personally don't play the Shadowdark rpg. That being said James Mishler is a friend of mine & ages ago I promised I'd do something with Expanded Monsters: Eldritch Eyes for the Shadowdark RPG. And Eldritch Eyes has been sitting on my hard drive & I keep looking at Castles & Crusades. Now something springs to mind with the Eldritch Eyes. The eyes are in essence everything awesome about the beholders boiled down to it's dark and moody parts. Now for Castles and Crusades I can see this species playing a major part as a major antagonist species. Here your going to see me as a DM rip into Eldritch Eyes & rip it apart as a supplement. 

So what you've got here is a beholder analog complete with magic items ready to go into your Castles & Crusades campaign! Need an evil Chaos cult & one that the players won't be expecting because these things only appear in the 'world's most popular fantasy rpg'? Here you go! 
The Eldritch Eyes are perfect avitars of Chaos & horror for your C&C campaigns. You've got the least the Eldritch Eyes as an opener dungeon monster. And then what you do as a DM is go into the Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure book, take your favorite monster then add in the Eldritch Eyes powers too that monster. The excuse?! Well those are Chaos mutations &  powers that the monsters have  aquired! 

































And this sorta of Chaos invasion keeps builting as hives of  Eldritch Eyes start showing up in unexpected places. You get villages taken over by these things, infrastructure, and even wilderness outposts as the Eyes push deeper into the campaign setting. Why?! Because this is only the beginning of the Eldritch Eyes invasion! Now regular 'beholders's are lawful evil but Eldritch Eyes are Chaotic. And that's a big difference because let's face facts Chaos is better. The evil of the eyes can spread across a multiplicity of planes easily. Why? Because of Chaos! 

Friday, June 2, 2023

To Recover The Grimoire - Experiences With The Stormbringer rpg & Poul Anderson's Three Hearts & Three Lions

 So wayback in the early 90's  we were playing in Stormbringer fourth edition & our party was up to it's eyeballs in debt to a Young Kingdom's wizard. This was a cleaver and rather nasty logic trap that my uncle had designed. We'd go out on missions and recover items or run errands for this S.O.B. after he saved the life of one of our party. The wizard in question whose name I can't remember for the life of me added us in our return to theYoung Kingdoms from demon haunted Zothique. And this blog entry is going to pick right up from here. After going through 'The Shattered Isle' we had picked up several Viking warriors PC's who had been time snatched by the mutant master. 




We had by this time at least three or more Viking warriors with our party and this came about as a result of having dealth with Avalon Hill's Vikings boxset. The Vikings Box set is for third edition Avalon Hill Runequest and man it is so damn underrated today! The Avalon Hill Vikings set is packed with stuff and it's got a fantastic Norse style Earth; "The year is 780 A.D...
The homeland was quiet. No strangers or deadly monsters troubled the stead. When Thorgrim Greatmouth asked for volunteers to raid the southlands, many brave warriors responded.
Thorgrim's dragon-prowed longship now sails the stormy seas, his crew plundering many petty kingdoms from mystical Thule to the great Middle Sea. They are all Odin's men, red-handed reavers ranging far and wide across the world, spreading terror and gaining glory, plunder, and fame." 



"Vikings includes:
• Players Book — character generation notes, occupations, new skills, viking ships, personal virtues, the family and clan, kinsmen, the thing, social structure, living conditions, customs, norse religion and magic, gods without godar, norse runes.
• Gamemasters Book — viking world view, an adventuring history, Scandinavian creatures, mistaken identities.
• Scenarios Book
• Vikings Digest — collected statistics for typical viking warriors, berserks, and various creatures.
• Play Aids — ship plans, stead diagram, fjord map.
• Adventurer Sheets"

"Vikings is a RuneQuest supplement set on Earth. The gamemaster can choose to introduce only historical elements into his Vikings campaign, or he can add the gods, giants and monsters from viking legend to create a fascinating blend of history and myth."" 

So our Chaos aligned wizard wants to send us tripping through the million spheres to recover a grimoire that is no longer being used by one Holger Carlsen  an American-trained Danish engineer. Holger is actually an aspect of the Eternal Champion named  Ogier the Dane & a champion of Law. And he's been using this grimoire to travel between alternative timelines.  Ogier has been moving across the Million Spheres from timeline to timeline. The grimoire or a copy of it was left at the 'Inn Between Worlds' & we were to recover it. Ogier The Dane is from Three Hearts & Three Lions  by American writer Poul Andersonone of my uncle's favorite books due to it's connection to Dungeons & Dragons & where Moorcock drew (stole) the idea for Law & Chaos. Now it was as I recall a very perilous journey to the 'Inn Between Worlds'. Now Ogier was gone when we got to the Inn and these events take place between his appearance in Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest & Heinlein's The Number of the Beast. We never took stock nor noticed  2014's   Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson's Worlds in which ; "Harry Turtledove wrote, as his contribution to Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson's Worlds, edited by Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois,[3] a short story, "The Man who Came Late". To those of us who are still in contact this  "The Man who Came Late" is considered non connial & fan fiction at worst. Let me back track Holgar aka Ogier was using the grimoire to jump from timeline to timeline according to the Three Hearts & Three Lions wiki entry; "Holger later appears as a minor character in Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest in which he is seen in a mysterious "Inn Between the Worlds" after he managed at last to leave the 20th century and to wander the various alternate timelines by using the spells from a medieval grimoire. However, he had little control over where he would get and a small chance of locating the one that he wants. At the inn, he encounters Valeria Matuchek, a character from another Anderson book, Operation Chaos, who instructs him in the sophisticated scientific magic of her world and gives him a better chance." 
We encounter not Holgar but Karl Edgar Wagner's Kane at the Inne Between Worlds and that bastard in posession of the grimoire! 

Kane literally gives us the grimoire and tells us to be on our way. We took the thing and once a few miles outside of the Inne took a look at it. Now this grimoire was actually three or more  rather sophisticated demons of Chaos bound together in book form. A demon of knowledge, one of transportation, and a demon of lust. This grimoire was an object of Chaos and we wanted to be rid of it fast! 
So our wizard asked the demon of transporation to take us back to the Young Kingdoms. 
And it was on the way back to the wizard's tower when we were attacked by degenerate broo erm beastmen of Chaos. Why we didn't know. But things got interesting when we got back to the wizard's tower. 
 Holgar aka Ogier had our wizard pinned with his enchanted sword at his throat. He demanded to know where the grimoire was & stabbed it as soon as it was brought forth! We didn't have a clue what was happening but he did pay us for our troubles.  And then he left.
Then our wizard started cackling like a loon and brought forth an exact replica of the grimoire that had been destroyed. The adventures with the 'Inne Between Worlds' was just beginnning however. And this would not be the last time we'd encounter 
Holgar aka Ogier. Because you see our Viking characters spoke the archaic form of French that Holgar aka Ogier spoke otherwise we would have been run through with a rather nasty mystic short sword of Law.. 


Darkness & Occult Horror - The Invisible College & Wretched New Flesh Post Cards From Avalidad - The Black Lodge

 So the other day I got a chance to sit down and watch a review by the RpgPundit on Wretched New Flesh Post Cards from Aviladad & his Invisible College Rpg.  Now in the past I've DMed these two rpg's together but watching the review made me go back to my Wretched Flesh campaign notes. First let me say that I strongly disagree with Rpg Pundit about Wretched New Flesh baring any resemblence to the  'Over The Edge' rpg. And instead I think it resembles the older editions of the classic Kult rpg. 'Over the Edge' feels far more of it's time back in the 90's. Wretched New Flesh feels uncomfortably around the corner to me. And let's talk about one of the most powerful and dangerous factions within the occult war in the Invisible College that could jump right into Wretched New Flesh. And that's the Black Lodge. 


“Chaos is Peace… Blackness, blackness intolerable, before the beginning of the light. This is the first verse of Genesis. Holy art thou, Chaos, Chaos, Eternity, all contradictions in terms!”
― Aleister Crowley, The Vision and the Voice: With Commentary and Other Papers


If the 'Black Lodge' is the mirror of the Invisible College therefore the opposite number of the PC's. And you can bet your ass it's going to be exploiting the near future world of Wretched New Flesh &  Avalidad. The Black Lodge is going to be using Chaos magicians, occultists, agents,etc. all in an effort to gain the edge in the war of the occult. 
And if you think that the biopunk world of Avalidad is going to be easy pickings for the Black Lodge's machinations think again. Pundit's suggestion about dropping the whole cloth magick system of 'Postcards from Avalidad' is counter productive. And here's why. The truth is that there's more then enough room in a campaign for two or more ritual magick systems. 
The real truth is how to maintain the action and balancing in two dynamic systems with competeting world settings. My advice is to use both. And there's adventures from the Wretchedverse that easily fit the ongoing weirdness with the 'Invisible College' and the Black Lodge being involved. First there's 

Novanexus

 which could well be a screw up by a ritual of the Black Lodge & second is 

Sexual Holocaust

. Both of these have the earmarks of Black Lodge activity without the David Lynch factor thrown in. 


In Sexual Holocaust we've got a Black Lodge Ritual going very wrong with the resulting mayhem being investigated by the PC's of the Invisible College or Zonesec or both. The occultist whose work might have created the situation within Sexual Holocaust might have close ties to the Black Lodge or the Black Lodge itself might be interested in the fall out of the events of Sexual Holocaust. And what happens when it's revealed exactly who or what has been intruding on Hammetcity's reality? 

Novanexus

 is entirely different affair highlighting the internal occult & highly terrifying nature of reality. In 

Novanexus

 the player's PC's are going to have to act as agents blending into the background of 
the Morracco of the future. 
The Black Lodge's agents may already be aware of the 'Glitch' and have agents on the ground blended into the adventure's background. 
The fact is that the 'Glitch' may in point of fact terrorize the Black Lodge's senior members & inner circle. 
Think about it the Black Lodge wants to control reality not destroy it. The nature of the 'Glitch' is not apparent & as it grows the more it consumes or corrupts. 
The Black Lodge is a manifestation of the occult forces behind the facade of  Wretched Flesh's reality or so they think. Domination, control, and occult might are the hallmarks of the Black Lodge. 
And the Black Lodge is just one faction within the Invisible College. We'll get into the Cult of Typhon next. Because the Cult of Typhon has deep ties into Avalidad. 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Review of 'The Shattered Isle: Rebels Against the Mutant Master' (Eternal Champion Series) By Steve Perrin, Sandy Petersen, & Charlie Krank For The classic Stormbringer Rpg & The Hawkmoon Box Set

 "The Shattered Isle is a supplement for the Eternal Champion series of Roleplaying games. This series, currently consisting of the games Stormbringer and Hawkmoon, is based on the fantasy novels written by noted author Michael Moorcock. This book contains two sections: Additions and Scenarios.


ADDITIONS: Contains new rules which are later used in the Scenarios. Included here are guidelines for vehicular and aerial combat and exotic and powerful weapons found in the New Fenian armory, more than 50 Beast Orders from the isle of Granbretan, and a glimpse into the daily routine of Oshol Nariva -- a typical member of the Order of the Boar.

SCENARIOS: Contains numerous adventures set on the Tragic Millennium Earth. An extensive section titled Getting Here presents to the gamemaster capsulized methods for getting the adventurers involved with the Shattered Isle scenarios, including a variety of options for both Young Kingdoms and Tragic Millenium Earth adventurers."




Sometimes we don't understand the sigificance of an adventure until much later on in life, such is the fate of 'The Shattered Isle: Rebels Against the Mutant Master'  By Kerie Campbell-Robson, Steve Perrin, and Sandy Petersen published in '87 by Chaosium. The first half of the book is new rules, fixes for the classic Hawkmoon box set, new  masked orders of the Granbretanian empire & a sprawling campaign. This is not a lower tier campaign adventure for either Hawkmoon or Stormbringer, the stakes are high, the adventure elements go from gritty to full on cosmic & the adventure campaign could be lethal. 
 



 'The Shattered Isle: Rebels Against the Mutant Master'  is a crossover adventure between the classic Chaosium Stormbringer rpg & Hawkmoon box set.  'The Shattered Isle: Rebels Against the Mutant Master' is the classic wizard messing around with a high level technological/occult relic to break the barriers of the planes. This isn't your run of the mill wizard instead this is the mutant master whose responsible for the entirety of the bio weapon system program of the Tragic Millennium Europe take over. Zhenader is a wizard scientist of the  Granbretanian empire who controls the entire country of Éire. Éire is Irish for "Ireland", the name of the island and  the sovereign state. Zhenader has gone completely rogue after finding a Fairy mound, other worldly artifact, & broken the planar barrier into the Million Spheres. 
He is not someone to trifle with at all because he's also found the armory of Eire & a host of pre Tragic Millennium weapons, artifacts, & more. 
The weapons are a weird mix of Eighties military technologies & Granbretanian empire weapon systems. This makes sense but its still gives a very strange impression. And its this impression of the weird where 
 'The Shattered Isle: Rebels Against the Mutant Master'   excels. 


We mentioned the word sprawling & 
 'The Shattered Isle: Rebels Against the Mutant Master'   has the PC's coming face to face with some of the more dangerous NPC's their going to be facing. We get warriors from across the 'Young Kingdoms' to the peoples of Corum these are all in the hands of Zhenader. Things go from bad to worse for the PC's. But their is light at the end of the tunnel & its not a train. The party is going to have to do some very fancy foot work but its a good adventure.  'The Shattered Isle: Rebels Against the Mutant Master'   is just weird enough to be engaging but actually playable. This is a campaign that is going to take months to work through. The possibilies of dimensional travel are high & even beyond. We have used this campaign as a pick up adventure with Rogue Mistress in the past so this is a strong possibility as well. This is a campaign that can go from 3 months to about a year or better to mop up every aspect of the machinations of the top teir villain. 

With a bit of work on the dungeon master's part I actually think that this could be a really good module for an extended game of both classic Stormbringer & Hawkmoon. 

OSR Review & Commentary On Creature Classes - A Shadowdark Supplement By James Mishler Games

 "Creature Classes is a new set of ancestry classes designed for use with the Shadowdark RPG. While they can be used as player classes, these classes can also be used to create monstrous enemies of various levels and abilities."


"Ancestry classes are both ancestry and class; the creatures in this booklet advance in level in their ancestry, not in separate classes.

The creature classes has different hit points per level and includes the following ancestry classes:

  • Catkin (d6 hit points per level) are intelligent feline beings who often ally with sylvan creatures.
  • Equizards (d6 hit points per level) are equines descended from normal horses, pegasi, and unicorns.
  • Mind Mice (d4 hit points per level) are strange mutants most often encountered around brain eater lairs.
  • Petty Dragons (d8 hit points per level) are thought to result from incompletely fertilized dragon eggs, and can be found wherever dragons lair.
  • Shimmercats (d8 hit points per level) are strange tentacled felines who possess the magical ability to be elsewhere other than their apparent location.
  • Spirit Foxes (d4 hit points per level) are intelligent magical foxes who can shapeshift into human form.
  • Sternulfs (d6 hit points per level) are intelligent wolves with a special relationship with the gods.
  • Wink Dogs (d6 hit points per level) are intelligent dogs who have the ability to step between spaces.
  • A special Creature Class Background Table is provided for these unusual ancestries.

12 pages (9 pages of content)" 

James Mishler Games & I go way back together. And over the years I've covered a ton of his company's material. So what I'm going to do today is not going to surprise anyone and that's gut Creature Classes - A Shadowdark Supplement From James Mishler Games like a fish. So this supplement clocks in at about twelve pages. These twelve pages are for allowing a player to play animal companion as a PC. This has been very common in Fifth edition and Shadowdark. I personally don't play Shadowdark & that's not because I don't like the game.
So what is the point & use of  Creature Classes - A Shadowdark Supplement From James Mishler Games for our own campaigns? Two words & that's Castles & Crusades. Now I can already hear the flap in the back of my head from the OSR or C&C crowd. We've already got the Mystic Companions for Castles & Crusades book. And my response is exactly! So we've got Catkin,Equizards, Mind Mice, .Petty Dragons,Shimmercats,Spirit Foxes,Sternulfs, & Wink Dogs. Now all of these make excellent NPC's but what I wanna do is bring them into C&C as familars for PC's. And when your playing with husband & wives or other couples. This is a great way for them to adventure together as a couple. And no I'm not making that up I've encountered couples who play together as wizard and familar. 



Or if a PC is killed which they often are in C&C, someone can step into an NPC role as a non human PC. Don't want an elaborate backstory and what not for the familar role on the background table in Creature Classes. You can then really flesh out the animal PC with much more from the table in Mystic Companions. Or and this is the way I would do it through actual play. 
But is 
Creature Classes - A Shadowdark Supplement actually worth it's two dollar price tag? I think so because it expands the options for players at the table top level without the cumbersome need for yet another player's manual that we've seen a glut of in the fifth edition books. And this makes  Creature Classes - A Shadowdark Supplement exceptionally useful because it presents itself in only 12 pages of solid material. 

Down The Back Alleyways of Sanctuary - The Stormbringer rpg & The Thieves World Box Set

 "
"Skulk through the night on the heels of Shadowspawn . . . delve into the twisted tunnels of the Purple Mage . . . attend the court (or perhaps the harem) of Prince Kadakithis . . . dodge the keen-eyed Hell Hounds with Jubal's Hawkmasks . . . drink your ale and guard your purse at the Vulgar Unicorn . . . boldly walk the streets of the wildest, most varied, and most downright fascinating city in fantasy literature — SANCTUARY, the Thieves' World!
* The Players' Guide to Sanctuary — the creation of Sanctuary; Thud and Blunder, Sanctuary chronology; 'Hakiem' and 'The Hell Hounds'; a stroll through the city; a captured llsigi document; magic, working ladies, and oaths; glossary /pronunciation guide; a map of the known world; a city map. * The Game Master's Guide to Sanctuary — palm-greasing and arrest procedures; a secret Carronnian report; city gods and religions; main city encounters; encounters for the Jewelers' Quarter, Processional, and Westside; 18 tables of specific encounters, descriptions/encounters for The Maze, Bazaar, Street of Red Lanterns, Downwind; business generators and tables by area; 6 area maps, 15 floorplans of typical buildings (including the Vulgar Unicorn); scenario suggestions.
* The Personalities of Sanctuary — story/character index; system notes as applicable and character stats for 9 RPG systems (minimum of twenty characters each, each system divided to Prince and Retinue. Transients, and Residents); general descriptions of other characters.
* Wall Map of Sanctuary. Referee Maps of The Maze, The Maze underground."



So one of the best supplements for the first edition Stormbringer rpg wasn't published for the Stormbringer rpg instead it hit the shelves from Chaosium in Eighty one. The Thieves World box set is one of the gems of that era. 
What makes this an exceptional resource for  the Stormbringer rpg is the fact that Thieves World offers a shared Sword & Sorcery universe for the PC's to explore without any lower expections. Thieves World works on the Runequest three engine and so it's rather a bit easy to adapt it to Stormbringer. 

Turn the influence of Law & Chaos down to two on the volume of the Multiverse meter for Stormbringer. And it's within Interested Observer2's review from 2016 that we get into the heart of what makes Robert L. Aspin's Thieves World box set  so damn useful:"None of the reviews attached to this page actually review the boxed game set. So let's do that instead of talking about the books. The boxed set includes three books and some very nice maps of Sanctuary. The first book is the player's guide to Sanctuary and describes the town and details some of the locales in the books. Frankly, of the three books in the box, this one was the least useful. For one thing, the maps are excellent, but actually make running the city harder since it seems to narrow the GM's choices with regard to where things are or should be. Frankly, having a more vague city map would have been a positive asset. Still, the descriptions of the Bazaar (and the map) are intriguing and could easily be re-developed by a clever GM for his/her own purposes with little difficulty, and the general information is useful. Frankly though, if you want to get into the "spirit" of the city, it's better to read the first two books of the fiction series. Book two, the GM's guide to Sanctuary, provides a wealth of information on the gods of the novels, bribery and criminal justice in Sanctuary, encounters of various types throughout the several districts of the city, and a "business generator" that may very well have been the first of its kind (though perhaps Judges Guild did something similar earlier). This book is where the GM begins to get the data s/he needs to really get into the "nuts and bolts" of GMing the city. Finally, the third volume is a guide to the personalities of Sanctuary. It lists all of the major characters of the first two anthologies, and most of the minor characters as well. It even describes some of the unusual monsters that present themselves during the first two anthologies.
One of the best parts of the boxed set was that it actually delivered on being a "generic" RPG supplement -- not by glossing over the various game systems published at the time and making the GM try to figure it all out on his or her own, but by providing ACTUAL game statistics for the creatures, events, and personalities in the city. Want to play Sanctuary using The Fantasy Trip? It's all there. (Who even remembers The Fantasy Trip nowadays, other than some of us old geezers -- for whom it is STILL one of the best classic RPGs ever designed? But for those of you who have no idea what it is, think "father of GURPS" and a simpler and faster playing version at that. It's easy enough to translate TFT stats into GURPS, though, if you prefer GURPS as your platform.) Prefer AD&D? There it is? Original D&D? Uh huh. Runequest/Basic Roleplaying? Yep. Chivalry and Sorcery? Right there. This product was an absolute gem for its time, and has aged well in the 35 years since it was published...and there are few products that can make that claim! Overall? Five stars easily, and if you can afford to pick up a copy, you should by all means do so. While it lacks specifics for post 2nd Edition AD&D versions, it does include stats for a lot of the classic Fantasy RPGs of yore, and if you're an "Old School Rules" (OSR) kind of person, you're going to LOVE this product." 
So not only do we get a solid overview and review. We also get ideas thrown in from this review. What the Hell would Stormbringer rpg characters be doing in Sanctuary?! If we go back to the origins of the original Thieves World stories entry from Wiki;"
Thieves' World is set in the city of Sanctuary at the edge of the Rankan Empire. The city is depicted as a place where many are downtrodden and where the invading Rankan gods and the Ilsigi gods they had ousted begin a struggle for dominance. As the series continues, additional invasions occur, and the city is taken over by the snake-worshipping Beysib as the Rankan empire collapses. Over time, a number of the characters in the series are revealed either to be the offspring of or otherwise blessed by various figures in the pantheons of the competing deities, and they discover or develop various powers as the series progresses."  Right smack dab there we've already got our answers. There is no way in Hell Law & Chaos are not going to have agents on the sidelines of Sanctuary. Even if thier demonic items and tools of Law are not as affective. Well so much the better in the eyes of the powers of Chaos & Law. After all it's all about the entertainment factor alone in the eyes of these two powers. 
Does Thieves World fit into the mode of the Million Spheres?! In a word? Oh yes it does. Thieves World and especially the box set as well as the Thieves World  Companion 
make an excellent urban campaign. 
There's enough within the Thieves World box set to keep a campaign going for months. Does Sanctuary fit the over the top demonic and law fueled world of the Stormbringer rpg?! Not really and that's alright. Sanctuary as a place to visit and kick up one's heels is fine as well. 
The PC's in Thieves World are right in the middle of the affairs of the gods. And sometimes this means getting down and dirty in the back allies of Sanctuary as well as the Maze. 
Incidently we've also used the Thieves World box set with old school Traveller many times.  One of the things that made the Thieves World Box set so damn useful was it's contents; "
The Thieves' World Complete Sanctuary Adventure Pack is a boxed set published by Chaosium in 1981, containing: 1) The Player's Guide to Sanctuary; 2) The Gamemaster's Guide to Sanctuary; 3) Personalities of Sanctuary; 4) Map of Sanctuary; 5) Map of the Maze; 6) Map of the Maze Underground.
And Oliver Dickensen review from White Dwarf #30 hits the nail on the head for the box set; "Oliver Dickinson reviewed Thieves' World for White Dwarf #30, giving it an overall rating of 10 out of 10, and stated that "This has to be one of the most challenging adventure packs to come on the market. It is a whole city, realised with a richness and thoroughness of detail that matches City State of the Invincible Overlord, and though not as comprehensive as this, it presented in a much more readable form."
I'm not really providing a really good review of the Thieves World Box Set for that I suggest you take a look at The Blackgate Adventures In Fantasy Blog's overview and review here. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Review & Commentary On Badge Law Enforcement In The Clement Sector by John Watts For The Clement Sector Rpg & Other Cepheus Engine Rpg Campaigns

 "Welcome to the world of law enforcement! That’s something that was said at the beginning of more than one television series concerning the police, so it seems to be fitting here. Badge: Law Enforcement in Clement Sector is our answer to those types of series involving everything from movies and television series concerning police departments to novels about police and private detectives. This book will give you many of the tools you need to run a similar sort of theme in Clement Sector. "




"Existing as a sort of companion volume with Outlaw: Crime in Clement Sector and Manhunters: Bounty Hunters in Clement Sector, this book fills the void left by those books concerning the police department who may be the antagonists to someone running a campaign with those books. Alternatively, of course, the denizens of Outlaw and Manhunters may be the antagonists to a police or detective oriented campaign. In many cases, they will likely be contacts, allies, rivals, and enemies of one another in a well-rounded campaign. It should go without saying that both Outlaw and Manhunters will be very useful to the Referee seeking to get the most out of this volume. Referees will likely find GEAR: General Equipment Adventurers Require useful as well and many of the careers featured in this book also call back to Diverse Roles, our Clement Sector career catalog" 

The image of the overworked cop or sheriff in the Old West especially in the 19th century is one that we don't really think of when it comes to Independence Games Clement sector. Well, it's one that should be on our minds especially when we look deeper into the Cepheus and Clement Sector rpg. Badge Law Enforcement In The Clement Sector fills a gap in the frontier blackness of the Clement sector. John Watts does an excellent job of looking deep into the nature of a far future 2d6 Science Fiction law enforcement point and the dirty  flip side of law enforcement itself. What is it about the Clement sector?! The fact that it trips the edges of the almost Wild West like Science Fiction or is it the fact that the Clement sector is very well realized as an almost but not quite 2d6 living & breathing campaign. A campaign setting who law men & women have a beyond thankless job on the edges of the darkness.


 

 Badge Law Enforcement In The Clement Sector by John Watts has a totally different voice from other Clement Sector books. Badge leans into it's Cepheus Engine rpg roots through the lens of it's careers of law enforcement centered around it's colonial roots. And it's because the law out in the Clement sector is beyond stretched thin. The law is quite literally balanced between it's role as peace keeper and guardian of civilization. And it's this that gives Badges it's character. And namely a very tight and well done voice. And it's Badges game voice that rings through with John Watts writing and commitment to his books that shines through. Badges is a book that your going to want to use especially with both Clement Sector and other Cepheus Engine rpg books. 

Badge Law Enforcement In The Clement Sector by John Watts hits the quality established by the Clement Sector rpg book hard. The only other book that hits the notes that Badge does is G.E.A.R. and the Skull & Crossbones Piracy in The Clement Sector books. Both of these books slot into the back end of Badge seemlessly enabling a DM to come up with an underworld that is a part of the Clement sector landscape easily.


 Badge does this by going over the ins & outs of law enforcemet. Introducing new careers, procedures, and much more. Then easing into new equipment, weapons, vechicles, and even NPC's that can be dropped into your ongoing Clement Sector campaigns. 

What really stands out is the frontier asthetic that is one part Science Fiction Wild West and two parts Bladerunner that has the classic Clement sector spin. And it does this by taking into acount on every front it's frontier and Wild West asthetic. 

Badges hits the high points to law enforcement even up to tech level ten. And by going over almost every aspect of the law and it's dirtier underworld elements. There's no sugar coating here. John Watts hits the high points and comes back for more when it comes to the law in the Clement sector. The writing here is tight, the layout is up to Independence Games standards and there's a sense that this isn't going to be last we see of Badges. 
Could Badges be used with other Cepheus Engine settings and more. The fact is that Badges could easily be moved into a classic Traveller rpg campaign. 

 Badge Law Enforcement In The Clement Sector by John Watts For The Clement Sector Rpg & Other Cepheus Engine Rpg Campaigns Will Be Appearing soon in the Independence Games site here. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Elements of the Young Kingdoms - The Other Stormbringer Rpg Campaign - Stormbringer Companion One, Demon Magic The Second Stormbringer Campanion, & White Wolf Temples, Demons, and Ships of War

 ""Stormbringer is a roleplaying game of action and adventure in the Young Kingdoms, the world created by noted author Michael Moorcock in his ELRIC novels. This is the first supplement produced specifically for Stormbringer."


And Yes I'm leaning heavily into Wayne's Books Stormbringer section here. 

"Within this book you will find two main sections: Additions and Scenarios. The Additions section contains creatures, heroes (or antagonists), and exotic treasures for use by the Game Master in Stormbringer adventures."

"The Scenarios section contains six far-ranging adventures ready for immediate play. The adventurers will travel the world over: starting from daunting Forest of Troos, through the Dragon Sea, into the Marshes of Mist, over the northern hills of Shazaar, and onto the Plane of Shadows. They must meet and master every foe imaginable, but the rewards are well-worthwhile for the few lucky survivors.""
In Eighty Three when the Stormbringer Companion hit the shelves & those of us clued in grabbed it with both hands. The Stormbringer Companion brought in brand new spells, monsters, even old school adventures, but what the companion actually did was introduce a series of adventures that could be played as a mini campaign. These six adventures really set the bar for the Stormbringer rpg which as I've said last time was meant for epic & mythic role playing. The PC's could be other aspects of the eternal champion long before our demon sword baring albino anti hero. On the second printing of the Stormbringer companion in Eighty five  a new contender entered the rpg market and this was Demon Magic: The Second Stormbringer Companion. Demon Magic: The Second Stormbringer Companion By Larry DiTillio & Kevin Freeman & Arno Lipfert & Mark L. Gambler  sported one of the most badass covers of an rpg supplements. And yet it clocked up again eighty pages of expansion for the Stormbringer first edtion rpg.  The byline for Demon Magic said it all; ""DEMON MAGIC is the second companion for Stormbringer, the roleplaying game of action and adventure in the Young Kingdoms.

Authorized by fantasy author Michael Moorcock, DEMON MAGIC includes all necessary statistics, maps, and plans, and contains many original illustrations. Among its contents are:
• The Velvet Circle: a scenario in seven chapters, which takes many sessions of play to conclude. The adventure includes a complete red-light district, with business notes and a plan of the Circle.
• Sorcerer's Isle: a shorter, more intense scenario to fill one or two evenings.
• Runes of Rathdor: analyzes and describes the properties of six magical runes discovered during the reign of the 42nd Emperor of Melnibone.
• Sanity for Stormbringer: introduces the optional characteristic of SAN into Young Kingdoms play.
• Six new creatures, six nationalities, seven new Demon abilities, and five new magic items."" 
While researching these two supplements I ran across this review on Amazon by Eric Brinkman from 2013 ;"This old school BRP-supplement, made in the eighties for the then dark fantasy Stormbringer RPG by Chaosium, is a tough nut to crack. For me, this game and supplement conveys tons of feeling from my youth when I was still discovering the wonderful pastime of pen-and-paper tabletop roleplaying. But what I have since discovered, through endless hours of reading and re-reading it (plus other books made for this RPG) and also playing it with my friends, is that it has a wildly unbalanced and over-the-top ritual magic system, but in spite of it (or because of it) - it works!

"Why?" you ask? Well, that is a little hard to describe. But I believe it has to do with the overall style that Chaosium's writers put into this and other material at the time. You hear a lot of praise for AD&D/D&D for the hobby these days, even to the degree that they put it in successful TV-series like Stranger Things. But what company have made it through all these years, and still is here to talk about it? Chaosium! Back in the day when these kind of supplements were produced, they implemented a certain sort of composition that made the Gamemaster who wanted to run them feel that the material was made in the style of the atmosphere of the source books (Elric-books by Moorcock). And still make it blend with the BRP system, or Basic Roleplaying. That is also why BRP or BRP-esque games still today is being used by many players and wins great prices and is a prestigious gaming system of note. That also made me, as a GM, able to relax and absorb the general feel of the background material for the scenarios. I have only ever run one of them, the "Sorcerer's Isle" adventure. I imagine "The Velvet Circle" is a very good mini-campaign, but I have yet to try it. It is the feel of old, dead empires and ancient curses that makes "Sorcerer's Isle" so good. The reek of an organised evil at work, both young and old, still going on and still making the general area of the Isle unsafe. In other words, perfect grounds for an investigative scenario. And all this also works so well with the demon-saturated world of The Young Kingdoms. Find it. You won't be disappointed." 
And I think that these two Stormbringer rpg supplements used together especially with other Stormbringer or Hawkmoon products or editions. This  really sets the 'Heavy Metal balls to the wall' demon soaked vibe that early Stormbringer rpg products bring to the table. Are these two Stormbringer rpg companions wildly unbalanced?! You bet your behind they are! Are they excellent for getting the adventure vibe of the Stormbringer rpg across. And couple Stormbringer companion one & two with a fantastic Stormbringer supplement that hit the shelves in Eighty Seven! We're talking about White Wolf: Temples, Demons, & Ships of War By  Stewart Wieck, Kevin Freeman, & Sandy Petersen
































White Wolf brings home several Stormbringer adventure elements that I consider happening on the fringes of the Young Kingdoms and beyond;
""WHITE WOLF, a supplement for the Eternal Champion series of roleplaying games, presents many items of interest to gamemasters, particularly those wishing to run high-level campaigns. The book contains:
• Complete information, stats, and maps for three powerful temples of the Young Kingdoms. DARKSPIRE: Temple of Chaos is a mysterious and sinister place, with many dooms for the unwary adventurer. From this dark abode the twisted worshippers of Mabelrode, the Faceless God, bring fear to all who fail to bow down to the power of Chaos! The Temple of the Eternal Flame lurks in the fiery heart of an ancient volcano. This remarkable temple is dedicated to the worship of Kakatal, Lord of the Fire Elementals. The mighty fortress of HAVEN: Temple of Law stands defiant against the minions of Chaos, and offers refuge to all who flee their wrath. Its courageous guardians worship four great Lawful dieties: Donblas, Goldar, Arkyn, and Callandus. They stand ready to battle Chaos whenever called upon by the faithful.
• Escape From Yellow Hell, a high-level, ultra-magical scenario that will challenge even the most powerful adventurers. The adventurers must rescue a priest trapped in the Yellow Hell, a x5 Chaotic plane of the damned ruled by Zhortra, Lord of Chaos.
• WHITE WOLF also contains naval rules for the Eternal Champion series, suitable for any campaign, and new data on Elric of Melnibone (the "White Wolf")." 
What White Wolf brings to the table is Dark Spire, the Temple of the Eternal Flame, and Haven a fortress of Law. The most deadly for our group was the Temple of the Eternal Flame where our party lost seven characters. These adventure locations were used for gathering intelligence, power, and information on the adventures that appeared in the Stormbringer Companion one & Demon Magic.  And it's this flexibility that makes the Stormbringer material such classics in my book. The DM will sorta have to do some of the heavy lifting to connect these adventures together but it's not that hard with the Michael Moorcock mythos and literature as backup.. 


Monday, May 29, 2023

Exeperiences In The Care & Handling of A Stormbringer first edition Campaign

 One of the advantages that Rogue Mistress allows a DM to do is to take an 'across the board' approach to thier campaigns. Want to bring in a PC from Hawkmoon's world? No problem. Want a barbarian from the lands north of Elric's Kingdom? No problem at all. 

I've seen comments describing Rogue Mistress as 'rail roadie incarnate' and to a certain extent that's true. Chad Bowser on Rpg Geek from '09 described it as thus; "A genre and 'verse spanning campaign. If your players are into it, this can be a lot of fun. The group really has to be up for anything, though."
And this is absolutely true. Why?! Because Stormbringer is designed for epic and mythological play. And that's no lie. 
The fact is that we thought that the game was better without Elric & Moonglum there to muck things up for our PC's. 
My biggest complaint has been the fact that many Americans have lumped the rpg in with the  
Santanic panic'. I've run across people & player who think that the various demons and creatures of the game are 'real'. And during our gaming I got into two very real and dragged out fight with religious players who swore the 'demons' of Runequest and Stormbringer are real. Needless to say that we quickly ejected these two morons out of our campaigns. 
So let's go back to the fact that if we interlock the Rogue Mistress into the events of  Perils of the Young Kingdom. Then we've got an epic cycle that can circle into Sea Kings of the Purple Towns. 
What we did was to take the Stormbringer Companion #1 and the  fact that the companion actually had the Melnibonéan slaver & war ships within. These ships are capable of making even the most hardened adventurer quake within thier boots. 

And that's no joke none of our PC's wanted to end up in a drugged stupor serving on the Dreaming Isle or worse shackled to the end of a Pan Tangian chain. 
When the events of Rogue Mistress come around we were penniless and jumped at the chance to gain entry onboard the Mistress. Much later on we gained our own scale ship the Entropy Climber. That was much later on. All of these events looped back around after all of our PC's had died multiple times within Roge Trader. We had a couple of barbarian tribes men from Glorantha and Avalon Hill's Runequest third edition among our party. 
This was after a lucky break after we had been captured by a 
the Melnibonéan slaver ship. Only a lucky storm allowed us to escape. We had added two new players which would have been right around '04 just before meeting my wife from the U.K.. 
At it's heart is the fact that Rogue Mistress takes place around to key events one is the fact that the PC's are placed in dire circumstances and must complete the events. We didn't do that but were instead picked up by the Rogue Mistress and had a debt to Captain Maria De Pistola. And the second is the fact that the Mistress is a part of the world ending plot that drives Rogue Mistress. We didn't see the need to derail this plot and we were the group up for anything. And this was one of the secrets I think to running a solid Stormbringer rpg campaign. 
And Rogue Mistress events opened up our party for journeying to Corum's five realms.