Wednesday, March 3, 2021

OSR Commentary - Dark Conspiracy & The Origins of the Malmori Empire in The Talon Sector Campaign For The Cepheus Engine Rpg

 Gotta love gamers, since yesterday their have been numerous folks now jumping on the Dark Conspiracy train. Well today we're gonna talk about the origin of the Malmori Empire within my modified Hostile/Cepheus Engine rpg  campaign. The campaign's version of the Malmori empire was born out of several  books Hostile's Crew Expendible, Synethtics, Darktek, More G3G book, & These Stars Are Ours campaign setting book. The Malmori Empire is a race of space pirates under the control of the warlord Sador. They've been the 'big bad' since the campaign's inception but actually their a red herring in every sense of the word. 

When the Reticulan empire fell their humanoid clone worker race was left to its own devices but they were completely purposeless. Their Gray masters had left them many of their own devices but the ancient  Malmori were vulnerable to the whispers of far darker voices from between the stars. So they took up to the stars again mining & generally behaving in the fashion that they had under their master's yoke. The Malmori were cloned from ancient peoples of Earth eons ago taken in one of the many Reticulan raids on Earth. 
Soon came mankind spinning out among the stars with planetary colonies & taking control of many of the Malmori mining terroritories. Shades of the 'Pirates of the Ancient Mediterranean' ; "the decline of the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE and ended when Pompey the Great (l. c. 106-48 BCE) defeated the Cilician pirates at the Battle of Coracesium in 67 BCE when, actually, Egyptian records substantiate piratical activities in the Mediterranean centuries earlier and Roman accounts report its continuance for centuries afterwards. " Many of the alien species encountered were actually mankind genetically modified by the Reticulans. The Malmori were an early attempt & were perhaps made with a modified genetic flaw. Their organs & body parts would break down after the 20 year mark. 

A Malmori warrior whose battle/medical suit keeps him intact against the hostil effects of a planetary atmosphere. 

The warlord Sador was a part of the elite cast & could live up to two hundred years with organ & limb replacement. The Malmori were made using the rules & guidelines found in Zozer Games Synethtics book. But these clone armies are flawed because the clones were force grown using the cloners found in the Darktek book.

 This particular band of Reticulans had fallen under the sway of dark forces & so too were the Malmori. Since the advent of the psionic storms they have had no further contact with humanity. But they retained many of the star ships left by their Reticulan masters. This included several stellar converters used for harvesting the cores of planets or converting stars into highly unstable radioactives for processing.

 Only recently have several Habringer cargo carriers  started to go missing along the border with the Human Empire have the corporations noticed the return of the Malmori empire. Patterns indicate that there may far more going on here as entire crews have been missing or harvested depending upon the rumors. The Reticulan empire is particuarly silent upon the mattter for moment. Weaponry & tactics of the Malmori  come straight out of the More G3G book. While some of the technologies of the Malmori themselves are left over Darktek equipment used by their twisted Reticulan empire former masters. TSAO: 50 Wonders of the Reticulan Empire  represents another branch of the Reticulans who have not fallen under the thrall or yoke of the dark masters of the far darker Greys.  Star Law is only coming under the suspision that the Malmori are becoming a problem once again. What's really been helpful here is Piracy and Privateering in fleshing out aspects of the Malmori Empire. Are the Malmori victims of circumstance or have they become tools for something far more dangerous?! 


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Commentary on The Darktek book for Dark Conspiracy rpg & Its Uses In Cepheus Engine Rpg campaigns

"Behind the shadows of our world, the Dark Ones lurk, plotting humanity's ruin. Their Dark Minions stalk us, armed with horrific devices, the products strange and hideous sciences. Human agents capture what they can, hoping for weapons that will aid them in their fight. And in some secret strongholds, individual ETs who have escaped the darkness labor side by side with human scientists, creating items to hold the Dark Ones off.

Meanwhile the megacorporate sector pursues technologies that pander to the wealthy. For many, HiTek is the truest symbol of high status. Worn like a coat of arms, it distinguishes the movers and shakers from the increasingly disenfranchised hordes of 'commoners' below.

In this volume, you will find items ranging from the gruesome biologic weapons of the Dark Minions, to the futuristic constructs of the ETs, to the most advanced in human technology. But all belong to the world of Dark Conspiracy, a world that is itself ever more a product of DarkTek. "

Darktek is a missed opportunity in the Dark Conspiracy rpg. A raging hole in the Dark Conspiracy rpg line of books. And on & on & on go the reviews of  the Darktek  book published in 1991 by Games Designers Workshop  that have cropped up over the years. This is true of of this  review  from Marcus Bone.  Which none of the Drivethrurpg Dark Tek reviews seem to agree with at all. Why?! Because of the fact that oh sure there's the usual  rpg equipment geek stuff like weapons, melee weapons, camping equipment, etc.. But Dark Tek  also has  a ton of retro technology that seems to be more in place of some alternative Thirties or Nineties  style sci fi Earth. So in other words Darktek fits  the world of  Dark Conspiracy itself.  But what does Darktek have to do with Cepheus Engine?! Quite a bit actually. 

The real difference between most equipment books & Darktek? Is the fact that Darktek is orient not only towards the PC's but mostly towards the dark forces & their minions. And their occultech style technologies have a high cost factor  indeed to the PC's humanity as well as their sanity. For Cepheus Engine Darktek is a perfectly designed PC/enemy book in one. Why?! Well because Bagagge Books Empire of Time offers alternative time period settings where Darktek could be very useful indeed.
It’s been 20 years since time travel was invented and the here-and-now, the good old 21st century, is in the middle of a revolution. You switched your major in university because of it and it’s paid off: you’re heading up-time, on a mission to the Chovu Imoi, an intelligent species that won’t even evolve for another 600 million years. It’ll be three weeks’ journey on the old model Hyundai time ship the expedition has bought second-hand from the University of Victoria, but you’ve tried to pack light. " 

Want to find out who & what are really in control of a vast empire of alternative time periods?! Empire of Time is a perfect fit for this coupled with Darktek. Here you can have agents of time putting the hurt on the dark minions across space & time. 

The reason for this is very simple, Charles E. Gannon the author of Darktek was very active in the fandom of Traveller 2300 AD and in fact is a contributor to Stygian Fox's Colonial Times fanzine. 

And so the reader of Darktek who happens to be an old school Traveller rpg player recognizes the vac suits. The full on space equipment and much more this opens up all kinds of possibilities for gaming on alternative timelines & Earths. 
And it also means that the forces of darkness have also been busy exploiting these alternative historical time lines. This is just the sort of weirdness that would see in Michael Brown's Among The Stars Silent Screaming .. 

For the Hostile Rpg Darktek offers some very strong possibilities as an alternative equipment book for the bad guys. Imagine your marines facing down colonial terrorists armed with ancient occult pact technologies that can offer a real challenge to the party. Or a Zaibatsu gang armed by an ancient Oni ready to take down a whole corporation. The possibilities are endless. 

Is Darktek completely perfect? Hell no. But it does suit my purposes for my current Cepheus Engine rpg campaign that's ongoing. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Review & Commentary On Guns!,Guns!, Guns!, By Greg Porter of Blackburg Tactical Role Playing Group For Eight Different Rpg Systems

"Guns!, guns!, guns! (3G³ for short) lets you design custom weapons for virtually any roleplaying game. Design realistic weapons in a universal format, and convert the stats to the system you like best, or even between different systems. In addition to the overall conversion guidelines, there are now detailed conversion notes for Corps, TimeLords, MegaTraveller, Cyberpunk, TORG, GURPS, Twilight: 2000, and the HERO system.
Pick your weapon! You can choose from conventional weapons, rockets, lasers, particle beams, railguns and melee weapons. Detailed directions and step-by-step design sheets help guide you through each aspect of custom weapon design.
Design weapons for any Tech Level where they are possible, not just where they historically appeared. Want to give the Romans machine pistols? Or design lasers for WWII? If it could have been done, or if it might be done, you can do it, in 3G³"

 Guns!,Guns!, Guns!, By Greg Porter of Blackburg Tactical Role Playing Group, there are days that stick in your mind & for us it was December 14th 2005. The family was in Florida on a research & development mission for an industrial sewing machine contract. On the way down on a drive through Seabring Florida there was a small hole in the wall hobby shop called the Roll of the Dice. Now remember the exact day because there were four books that were bought from the used RPG section of this shop. Timelords rpg, Guns,Guns,Guns, More 3G3 Guns, & Warpworld rpg. And there were three reasons why the Guns,Guns, Guns, rpg system was in a shopping bag in 2005. The fact that this is a complete weapons rpg system & it clocks in at one hundred & twenty three pages.

 There were three reasons why G3G was on the 'must get list' & that was a the conversion systems for original Traveller, Mega Traveller, Cyberpunk 2020, & for the generation of all kinds of weapons. 3G3 can & will handle anything from primitive melee, black powder, modern  fire arms right up through particle beam weaponry. Once you develop a conversion from the core stats to your favorite system, the system becomes a wonderful design and customization tool for weapons. So this makes 3G3 ideal for working with for Cepheus Engine rpg given that the system works well with original Traveller rpg. The secret to the 3G3 system is the parameters used which include damage value, projectile velocity, range limit, and barrel length.

Bruce Gray in his 3G3 Amazon review has some really interesting insight on the book. He goes into the following; "It starts with a section on basic terminology, and moves from that beginning to a section on conventional weapons. This is the meat-and-potatoes for people wanting to use this book's highly accurate statistics for running games other than the ones included. Fade that into a section on Lasers, followed by sections on: Particle Beams, Railguns, and melee weapons." 3G3 is a nuts & bolts book from the ground up. This isn't a perfect system & there have been a number of revised editions of 3G3 over the years. 

3G3 system isn't perfct but its very well suited to our purposes at the table top level.While games have been going rules lite again & again over the years. 3G3 increases the crunch from another time in rpg fashion & it does it very well. 

There's something incredibly subversive about the unappologically violent nature of the simulation of Guns!,Guns!, Guns!, By Greg Porter. The fact that G3G exists as an  rpg system says volumes about the nature of the 3G3 material. The fact that 3G3 book acts as cap system is something I've come to love because it can be used with TimeLordsCORPSGURPS®Hero System®Cyberpunk 2020®Heavy GearBattlelords of the 23rd CenturyNexusFeng ShuiTraveller New Era®, and Traveller 4th edition®. And it perfectly suited to act as an add on system with Zozer Games Hostile rpg setting or Cepheus Engine rpg. 

Is 3G3 meat & patatoes for the rpg weapons design?! Yes but its solidly done meat & patatoes done in such a way as to bring home the point of 3G3. The 3G3 system isn't a stand alone rpg system but a cap system for weaponry in Rpg's. It remains a favorite of mine at the table top as well as our players. 

I personally believe that the 3G3 system book remains one of Greg Porter's strongest books. The solid coconuts it takes to tactical a subject as big as 3G3's foundations is impressive in our minds. 

You can find Guns!,Guns!, Guns!, By Greg Porter of
Blackburg Tactical Role Playing Group Right Over Here. 

'Playing Out In The Rocks' Cepheus Engine Rpg Session Report Seven - A Deep Hole In The Ground & Deeper Circumstances

 Its been all wine & roses with the Allard Technologies corporation until they tried to lay claim on another corporation's property. The PC's came face to face with the another corporation's marines cum security forces and it wasn't pretty. 

And this week we totally pulled the rug out from under the player's PC's on Mercury as the Allard Technologies put in a claim for the alien star gate. Well, the player's PC's were captured by the Martouk Experimentation & Research corporate forces. This session picks up where the last on left off.  The Martouk Experimentation & Research corporate forces buttoned the PC's up for Earth side. And then stuck into a hole in the ground.  The hole in this case is a private underground prison/Fortress, the inmates are computer controlled with CCTV, dream readers and devices that can cause pain or death. Yup that's right we're now using the 1992 sci fi prison film Fortress. Fortress (1992)  Christopher LambertLoryn LocklinKurtwood Smith is a film tt's been on our radar for years. Its been used in rpgs at our table for everything from Cyberpunk to Superhero campaigns. The Fortress facility was sold to Martouk after the events  of the film or Martouk was behind the Mental corporation the details are unimportant as the time. 

The Martouk Experimentation & Research corporation is interested in cornering the market on psionic abilities coupled with cybernetics. Since the forces of These Stars Are Ours have appeared this has thrown Martouk into high gear. The stargate on Mercury represents full on access to other planes or dimensions. Something Martouk is willing to murder for. Martouk does not want the PC's dead per say but compliant instead. They know about Michael Brown's Cold War: Containment events & they'd like to prevent a rehash of those events. 

The PC's are being studied while the corporate world courts & the space authority decides the fate of the  'The Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky'. The space craft sits in dry dock while the PC's are dissected in their hole out in the middle of the Mexican desert. Apollo the A.I.  has slipped a synthetic into their midst named Michael who  was created using Cepheus Engine rpg book Synethics from Zozer games. 

The data that they retrieved from their ship is still with them as their hacker's mind  wasn't searched  yet. The Russians provided them with some very dangerous intel. To really mess with the  players we went back to 'The Dragon' issue#35 which has an article for original Traveller by James  Hopkins titled Black Holes. 

There's indications that the sinister Malmori Empire has been messing with an alien stable black hole power generator that the corporations want to get their hands on. The Russians know something about it but it the Reticulin's seem to have own it at one point. There's lots of intrigue going on here. And Dr. Hans Reinhardt's name came up during game play over the weekend. One of the inmates having been the mad genius's research assistant in general population in the prison. 

Next week the player's PC's start circulating into general population. They are unaware of  the cyborgs guarding their hole in the ground of a holding facility. The specter of 
Dr. Hans Reinhardt continues to haunt the campaign. 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Dungeon Master's Workshop Session Zero Preparation Report With Planet X Games's Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride By Levi Combs

 "Tales of the cursed pyramid and the sleeping tomb of the Mummy Bride have long been a traveler’s tale, passed along by wayward explorers and greedy plunderers alike. Deep within the verdant jungles of the south, amidst a Green Hell of impenetrable jungle, savage cannibals and ancient myth, lies the shattered remnants of a once-powerful civilization and the terrible gods who ruled over them. Rumors swirl of untold riches and un-plundered magic for those brave (or foolish!) enough to claim it. Will your players survive… and what will be left of them?

The Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride is an old school, grindhouse-style combination of classic role playing adventure and devilishly-designed dungeons for levels 5-7, cram-packed with b-movie goodness to challenge even the most seasoned of adventurers. It’s a module that could only have been made in the primitive jungles of man… where life is cheap!"

So for the last couple of years Levi Combs of Planet X Games has been friend of mine on social media for a few years. Let's drop into the fact that now there's a ton of pressure to get back into the swing of DMing as some of my player's schedules free up. And they want to go back over the fact that we started a Siege Engine hybrid game campaign last year. Now what's been on the table is Planet X Games's Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride. Yes Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride is for fifth edition  Dungeons & Dragons. But it should work fine with Castles & Crusades as well as Jason Vey's Amazing Adventures

The appearance of a major lich queen upon a pre Thirties Earth is enough to bring every hero with a grudge against 'The Mummy's Bride'.  Make no mistake just because this is fifth edition its easily converted over to Castles & Crusades but the author makes this civet;" Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride is designed for a group of player characters who are levels 5-7. The lower level the party members are, the more players they probably need to survive. Any good adventuring group attempting to conquer the Mummy Bride’s tomb should have a rogue or character experienced at dealing with traps, a spell-slinger of arcane magic, and a trusty sword swingin’ meat shield. " 

So already we can see the crossover between Earth & some other old school fantasy location. A campain trick that we've recently employed with War of the Worlds Godzilla 1898 Victorious rpg  campaign. But is our Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride from this Earth or someplace even more strange & dangerous. 
Several reasons spring to mind why this will work: 
  1. There are a couple of campaign aces are already up my sleeve. 
  2. Castles & Crusades can be a meet point between 3.X D&D with Fifth edition. 
  3. Exploitive grind house is a campaign style that the players have experience in. 
  4. Pulp is the player's preferred style of play 
  5. Players are readying back up PC's. 
  6. The players know my fondness for crystal skulls 
  7. Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride is lethal and very dangerous 
  8. Cannibal gnomes & lots of Aztec mummy goodness.. 

A Deep Look At Bill King's Wasteworld rpg

 "Enter the savage struggle for power and dominion. You can take on the role of a cyborg ninja, a potent psycher, or a fearsome alien. Fight mutant monsters and terrible robotic killing machines in a world gone completely mad"

The  Waste World Rule book written by Bill King. The combat rules are fast, deadly, & nasty.

 Waste World is the sort of game that gets over looked in this day & age. Why? Because really it doesn't know what it wants to be. Its sort like an old issue of Heavy Metal Magazine with a bit of a 40k or a Meta Baron's flavor thrown in.
Infact my history with the game is pretty much tied in with Heavy Metal because back in the 1997 when I first spied the game on the shelves of War & Pieces in West Hartford, Ct.  Not unlike SLA Industries ultra violent edge, Waste World was a post apocalyptic love fest to the genre that had spawned it! The game was/is tight in a cinematic way brings out the best in game play with little room for BS. Unlike SlA Industries it doesn't pretend to be something at its not with a disappointing "secret ending". Here's what you get:
The setting includes cybernetic warriors, powered armor, samurai with energy swords, giant robotic war machines, flying cities, psionics, alien species, and armies of undead. Immortal samurai with energy blades. Powered armor with razor-sharp wings. Armies of mad robots bent on destruction. Hardened wasteland warriors. Demons. Undead. Mutants. Ridiculously large guns. Sound like fun? Waste World may be the game for you.
Want to know more? Read a  Waste World Review I or  
Waste World Review 2  

 From Wayne's Books :
In the dark future of a dying earth five warrior civilizations prepare for the final conflict. In each mighty megacity, technology is an ideology that shapes the destiny of millions. The enigmatic Machine Gods of Prometheus grant their followers the gift of bionics, and faith in total war. The ever-reincarnating samurai defend their Shogun with swords of light. The Lords of Hydra sculpt their followers into superhuman soldiers, using the terrifying power of biotechnology. The decadent nobles of Ikarus descend from their flying city in razor-winged battlesuits to prey on the lands below. The exiled aliens of Janus defend the world's last starport and pray that salvation will come from the stars.

"The people of this ravaged planet fight for Drakonium, the most precious substance in the universe, the ultimate energy source. They know that without it, their cities will fall, their civilization will collapse and the poisoned deserts will claim their homes. They know they can never falter, never retreat, never stop fighting. There can be no mercy. There can only be conflict. It is all they know, and all they will ever know.

"In the Waste World Roleplaying Game, you can enter this savage struggle for power and dominion. You can use the flexible design rules to create the charater you want to play. You can take on the role of a cyborg ninja, a potent psycher, or a fearsome alien. Using the super-fast and ultra-deadly combat system, you can fight mutant monsters and terrible robotic killing machines in a world gone completely mad. Waste World Roleplaying Game provides you with all the rules you need to get right into the action in this harsh and dangerous world."

Still don't have enough post apocalyptic action? Want to dive deeper into to the gene pool? There were 2 world splat books:

From the back of the Shogunate book: "The immortal Shogun rules a land of mystic violence where honor counts for more than life. The reincarnating samurai face countless foes, ranging from cyborg ninja to evil psychic sorcerors. The alien Kitsune shapeshifters weave a web of intrigue that ensnares the lives of billions. Journey to this savage land and carve out your destiny..."

Then there are these creepy bio dudes!
From the back of the Hydra book: "The genclans reshape entire nations using the sinister secrets of biotechnology. They grant their followers superhuman powers. They use life itself to create awesome weapons. Their ruthless pursuit of power threatens to change the destiny of Waste World. This source book allows you to visit their ancient homeland, take part in their deadly intrigues and fight in their brutal wars."
Review of Hydra: The game and world of Waste World is unlike any other I've come across, and I've came across plenty. With their main book you can create virtually any type of pc, high technology, psionics, bio-technology, or just a tough survivor. The in-game balance is pretty good and the rules simple, fast, and brutal, just like a game called "waste world" should be.

But what makes the world and game great is the story, Avernus itself and that is why this book is a must have for anyone who wishes to play Waste World. It details the city of Hydra in beautiful detail including the Genclans that rule and the various powers that each of the Genclans can possess.

This is one hell of a nifty GM screen & believe me when I say that some of the company's operating today might learn a thing or two about designing a GM's Screen. I bought 2 of them in '97 & I'm still using them today! What does that tell ya about quality?

Background & System
A far-future post-apocalyptic RPG, set on a planet ravaged by ten millennia of total war, where five gigantic city-states ("metrozones") are struggling over dwindling supplies of Drakonium, the ultimate energy source. The warfare has spawned mutation-causing weapons, bio-engineered plagues, robots turned amok by a computer virus, and a Galactic interdict trapping unpleasant aliens on the planet. Resolution is a simple d20+stat+skill+modifiers, where an 11+ succeeds. A roll of 1 fumbles, while 20 is roll again. Character creation is open point-bought. There are four attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Psyche) rated -3 to +3, and skills rated 0 to 9 (divided into Easy, Normal, and Hard). Combat bases damage on the degree of success, with a possible multiplier and/or additive bonus. It also has hit location and critical hits.

Game Use & The OSR!

There is so much for a game master to mine that its not funny. Waste world is sort of like Gamma World without the artifact finding issue. The world is detailed & can handle anything from the intrigues of a Dune style political game to the shooty, shooty, bang, bang of the ABC warriors or Judge Dredd comic. Gamma World D20 might have learned a bit from the writing of  Waste World. 
Economically its a pretty good buy at 288 pages for 50.00  on Amazon or Flea Bay.
The Splat books sell for about if you can find them. 
Please note that I'm bias & love this game.
With a little thought, long campaigns of deceit and intrigue could be run. Or tons of good, mindless, violence. All possible in the Waste World

Review & Commentary On the Free Cepheus Engine rpg Add On Book - Star Trek: Alpha Quadrant

 Star Trek: Alpha Quadrant is one of those fever dream rpg books that crops up from time to time. A fever dream that you don't think is real but it is. This book a mash up of Cepheus Engine rpg with Fasa Star Trek simmered over a coating of old school fandom. Note that this is only original Trek shows  not the Calvin time line movies, or Star Trek Discovery.   Star Trek: Alpha Quadrant is an interesting compromise between FASA Trek & original Trav erm Cepheus Engine rpg    Star Trek: Alpha Quadrant is fan production but its very good fan production. 

   Star Trek: Alpha Quadrant is basically Cepheus Engine rpg Trek taking PC's from beginning career paths right through to serving on the star ship of their own as bridge or away crew. And its done with the usual Cepheus Engine flare. 

  Star Trek: Alpha Quadrant is old school Trek & its vicious in the same way that original Traveller rpg was. The fact is that the Cepheus rpg system does an excellent job of emulating original Star Trek shows. The career paths are there, the ranks, the officer's path, medical, creatures,
etc.  Star Trek: Alpha Quadrant has all of this & much more. 

   Star Trek: Alpha Quadrant is a good alternative to a side game of Trek when you need something to fill in the gaps between sessions or as a solid a campaign Trek  alternative for the Cepheus Engine. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

The War of the Worlds Godzilla 1898! - A Troll Lord Games Victorious rpg Hybrid Campaign - The Maple White Land Battle Royale - Session report # 14

Find the perilous Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and you may gain the hidden wealth of the long-dead arch-mage - if you live!

 Pro tip if your running vampires & vampirc cults  in one of the most dangerous modules in the 'super modules' category take full advantage of a fact. Vampiric NPC's are some of the most dangerous foes that PC's can run up against. In tonight's games session which picks up all of the back here.  Protip number two use lots of disposible vampiric spawn for the heroe's fire projector to roast. Then let the real NPC's close in. 

The PC's not only encountered several trolls & nearly got their heads ripped off. But found out the hardway that its not a good idea even if your PC has super powers to mess with the Martians. And encountering the cult of Iggwilv & yes they do have their own evil clerics & wizards. Who happen to working with said Martians. But they also quickly learned that the cult of Graz'zt, has an entire village within Maple White Land. Yes its guarded by cannibal apes, mind controlled dinosaurs, & vampiric villagers. But the real surprise during tonight's run through was the fact that the daughters of Drelnza are not only aware of the PC's. But for all of the grief they want them very dead. 

The highlight of tonight's game was the PC's running away from a giant troll after it snacked on of the party's hirelings.. The thing was massive & back handed one of the PC's into some bushes. Then lined up on DM Steve's paladin wacking him into a tree! Awesome! Sir Tristan did survive after our party's healer Empatra a cleric of Ra put him back together. 

Things got a bit crazier after Brush fire lit up the giant troll drive it back into a trio of giant Martian wheel war machines. The Martians didn't bother going after the party instead they used some cybernetically controlled Allosaurus to hunt down our heroes. 

A few exploding arrows & well timed natural twenty right in one of the beasts eyes took one of the prehistoric bastards out. But two more made the party's life a living Hell. But they managed to stumble onto a backdoor into the dungeon complex. 
Allosaurus miniatures were available for tonight's game thanks to Antediluvian Miniatures preCovid order! 

And thanks to Jason Vey's Book of Powers the party found out the hard way that one of the Allosaurus had laser like vision & a powerful breath acidic breath weapon. But a well time bundle of dynamite took the thing down. The party left for the secret dungeon enterance. 
And that's when the party stumbled onto the night hags of  Drelnza growing a massive Kaiju sized Scrag named Auntie Maw. 

And that's where we ended tonight's game session! We'll hopefully pick it next week! 

Review & Appendix N Commentary With C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry & Barbaric! By Omer Golan-Joel From Stellagama Publishing For Cepheus Engine rpg or Original Traveller rpg

 "The fierce, proud, and relentless commander of warriors, standing tall above her enemies and simmering with rage, Jirel bids farewell to the world of treacherous men and walks through a forbidden door into Hell itself in pursuit of freedom, justice, and revenge."

So last night it was a night with an old friend, that friend happened to be C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry in paperback. She was created in '34 by C.L.Moore as a reaction to the Sword & Sorcery tales of the Pulp magazine era. Reading through the stacks of Amazon book reviews is like reading through a laundry list of a comic book or Pulp letters column. The Amazon break down from one of their reviewers hits the high marks; "C. L. Moore created Jirel, ruler of Joiry, in reaction to the beefy total-testosterone blood-and-thunder tales of '30s pulp magazines, but Jirel is no anti-Conan. She's a good Catholic girl, stubbornly purposeful, relentless in pursuit of enemies or vengeance, hard-boiled and a little stupid, and cannot be distracted by mere physical attractiveness. Indeed, in Jirel's world, beauty = decadence = corruption. Were these stories written today, inevitably Jirel would have a lot of hot sex, but as they were first published in Weird Tales between 1934-1939, sexual attraction is mostly only vividly implied. No loss. Jirel's journeys through unnatural landscapes and her battles with supernatural opponents are still wonderful to read, and though newcomers Red Sonja and Xena are more famous now, Jirel rules as the archetypal, indomitable redheaded swordswoman in chain mail and greaves, swinging her "great two-edged sword."" 
The idea that a Sword & Sorcery character not only rules her own domain but that the supernatural won't leave her alone is something seldom seen. She's a warrior & a more then a bit fallible. This makes her far more relatable to the reader then some of today's characters. She's very much in a similar spirit to some of Clark Ashton Smith's characters in a sense. The ironic play of the setting, the masterful use of the English language, and the sly character development all built around C.L. Moore's weaving of the stories. 

And what does any of this have to do with Omer Golan-Joel new Cepheus Engine rpg powered supplement Barbaric! ? Everything really. Barbaric! is the Sword & Sorcery add on book that has the very essence to run a Sword & Sorcery based rpg 2d6 Sword & Sorcery based campaign from the ground up. This means that  C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry  world & setting could easily be adapted into a Barbaric! campaign. Or Robert E.Howard's works, mixed in Clark Ashton Smith, etc. all of the Appendix N writers are grist for the  Barbaric! mill. This book clocks in at fifty seven pages of good solid layout, a readable product, & the quality we've come to expect from Stellagama Publishing

If you want your own Conan wanna be slithering through the darkness, the barbarian hordes tearing down the sorcerer's tower, etc. within Cepheus Engine then Barbaric! is the supplement for you! Omer Golan-Joel does an excellent job of boiling down every Sword & Sorcery & Pulpy goodness of his take on Cepheus Engine rpg system weirdness in Barbaric!. We've seen this before in Sword of Cepheus. 

The difference between Sword of Cepheus & Barbaric! is day & night because of how & where Omar places the life paths, the humancentric elements, the Sword & Sorcery elements vs all of the High Fantasy flavor. This is 2d6 Conan like Sword & Sorcery play vs 2d6 High Fantasy, sure they have elements in common but you know the difference when you see it, read it, & play it. Barbaric! hits the high notes of 2d6  Sword & Sorcery play for the its publishing. Cepheus Atom could be used to plug into a whole new world of post apocalyptical goodness. 

For bringing to life C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry into Barbaric! there are several reasons why it would work.  Jirel of Joiry has all of the 'journey of a hero' elements in place, but what happens to her world when she's gone?! Surely there were adventurers looking for her?! Even on a quest for vengence nothing happens in a vacuum. This is where Barbaric! could come into play. The PC's are generated to go on a quest to find her & encounters with the supernatural result from there. Simple & easy to do a 2d6 campaign from there. Moore's Jirel stories include the following:

  • "Black God's Kiss" (October 1934)
  • "Black God's Shadow" (December 1934)
  • "Jirel Meets Magic" (July 1935)
  • "The Dark Land" (January 1936)
  • "Quest of the Starstone" (November 1937), with Henry Kuttner
  • "Hellsgarde" (April 1939)
For grabbing the  Jirel of Joiry  stories cheaply the Paizo's 

Black God's Kiss (Trade Paperback) is the best source in print at the moment. 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Return To The Blood Soaked Alleyways of SANCTUARY! A Cepheus Engine Rpg View Into Chaosium's Thieves World rpg Campaign 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.""
Write up of Chaosium's Thieves World Thanks to Wayne's Books Rpg resource.

Based on the highly successful Sword & Sorcery paperbacks series & shared universe, '
Thieves' World is a shared world fantasy series created by Robert Lynn Asprin in 1978'. Thieves World spawned a box set by Chaosium published in '81. We covered 'Thieves World' extensively right here on the blog. 

Its been a New York minute since anything has been done with our copy of Chaosium's  Thieves World. But recently something has been at the at the back of our  mind about the box set; "The darkly grim city of Sanctuary was an immediate hit with readers. The series with its roots in fantasy roleplaying in turn inspired the Thieves World Sanctuary Adventure Pack. In keeping with the spirit of the montage of authors of the series, Greg Stafford, et al at Chaosium worked with with some of the brighter lights of the RPG industry (Dave Arneson, Steve Marsh, Midkemia Press, Marc Miller, Steve Perrin, Lawrence Schick, Ken St. Andre, and many others) to make the Thieves' World RPG compatible with 9 RPG systems: AD&D, Adventures in Fantasy, Chivalry & SorceryDragonQuestD&DThe Fantasy TripRuneQuestTraveller, and Tunnels & Trolls." 

Because there is an original Traveller rpg conversion of Thieves World it makes the box set a perfect campaign setting for Cepheus Engine rpg coupled with Sword of Cepheus. Thieves World as a  possible star port destination for Cepheus Engine rpg combined with Sword of Cepheus makes a hot spot for Pulpy  interstellar science fantasy action. 

What makes this work is the fact that Thieves World sets the stage as a blood soaked backwater world with all kinds of possible uses on the galactic stage. What works to set this up are the following Thievs World stories: 
"Sentences of Death" by John Brunner;
"The Face of Chaos" by Lynn Abbey;
"The Gate of the Flying Knives" by Poul Anderson;
"Shadowspawn" by Andrew Offutt;
"The Price of Doing Business" by Robert Lynn Asprin;
"Blood Brothers" by Joe Haldeman;
"Myrtis" by Christine DeWees; and
"The Secret of the Blue Star" by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The PC's could be acting as agents of the local interstellar governement sent into handle Sanctuary itself. Thieves World was really the pioneering work for shared world building and eventually spawned a published RPG setting which we cheerfully used. Even my players loved playing in Sanctuary. But would they still love it using Sword of CepheusThe setting was just as rich as we remembered with plenty of unsavory NPC characters running around, along with some that have a touch of inner nobility.The trick is  knowing which ones can add,hinder, or even soul dri erm kill a PC.. More to come as we continue to develop this into a possible fully releaized campaign setting & shared DM universe.