Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tales of Gothic Transylvania - A Gothic Horror Campaign - Actual Play Part II On The Dark Corner Blog

The PCs are in very deep waters with weird gods, strange urban encounters, animal headed guardian spirits, and a level drained merchant prince in 'Tales of Gothic Transylvania" right over HERE

Review and Commentary on The Free OSR Resource Burgs & Bailiffs: Warfare too By Paolo Greco On The Dark Corner

Burgs & Bailiffs: Warfare too By Paolo Greco comes roaring in on a charger. This thirty eight page mag is packed with all kinds of grim and gritty tid bits that you can incorporate into any OSR old school game. This is a perfect resource for your Gothic Mediaval horror game and we take a look at it right over. 

Review & Commentary On ' A Wretched Catalogue of Gear' From Thomas Weigel A Free OSR Resource For Your Old School Science Fantasy Campaigns

Get It For Free Right Over HERE
There are times when a group of mutants, space adventurers, and other PC types need more then the average equipment found in the various rule books. This is where this great little book comes in.
This book has a literal metric tonnage of equipment.
This is a very  cool little PDF that can be used with mostly any OSR game.
According to the Description: 
A free resource in the style of the Wretched Menagerie series.
Four-cubit pole, 1/2" rope, braziers, concealed vest pockets for a thief, bucket, hourglass, small hatchet . . . bits and bobs of gear useful to dungeoneers (and short wilderness jaunts) of all sorts, and more than you can reasonably carry.
Contains over 100 general types of gear, and lots of sub-types, arranged for ease of discovery and use. Note that most core rule books for OSR games have some portion of this list already (although there are extremly useful items like charcoal, flour, wheelbarrows, stools, umbrellas, and similar that have been foolishly ignored elsewhere). This manuscript is more useful for its brief descriptions and "all in one place" quality than gonzo equipment.
About a Wretched Miscellany: Written in a compact (some would say cramped) style with minimal fuss and no art, each manuscript in this series follows the basic style of the a Wretched Menagerie series, but for some other sort of item, such as spells, gear, or magic items. Unlike the menagerie, these are more often one-off dishes, offered to complete offerings found elsewhere.

 Using '
A Wretched Catalogue of Gear From Thomas Weigel' In Your Space Based OSR Campaigns 
A Wretched Catalogue of Gear
 This is a great resources to use with all of the retroclones on the market as well as an equipment resource for those 'failed colonies that seem to make appearances throughout science fiction. This is a perfect index of such items for a game like Mutant Future as well.
With the rerelease of the original Traveler this isn't a bad resource to have in your back pocket when players want to go from OD&D to Traveler. A DM should always have a back up for monsters and equipment. The variety of items also indicates the variety of cultures among the stars of the universe.
These items are also useful for showing adventurers who have come before the PCs. Grab this one and get to peppering your expediations in various locals with more then the average 'ten foot pole
This is a very nicely thought out book of  equipment that has a variety of uses in game. Best of all is the price tag.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Free Burgs & Bailiffs [PDF] By Paolo Greco For Your Old School Horror Campaigns On The Dark Corner Blog

 Danger, Intrigue, and the sound of plague bells upon the wind! Is it the sound of another Kickstarter? Games Workshop crushing another blog? Another over blown OSR blowup?
Nay peasants!
Tis the sound of  Burgs and Bailiffs an Old School Magazine of horror & tragedy!
We review it right over and you can get the free download!
Remember to keep your powder dry! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review and Commentary of Edgar Rice Burroughs 'Carson of Venus' For Your Old School Space Opera

Carson of Venus
 When I was a kid my dad got me a copy of  Carson of Venus  by Edgar Rice Burroughs. My dad was really very cool about getting me interested in the habit of reading and this was one of the books that got me started on that road to ruin.
According to Wiki : 

"The novel, which was written two years before the outbreak of World War IIsatirizes Nazi 

Germany by including a fascist political faction called the "Zani." There is also a character named "Muso" as a reference to Benito Mussolini. Unlike the first two Venus novels,Carson of Venus focuses on spy intrigue and war instead of wilderness adventuring.

 It is sometimes known as the Carson Napier of Venus Series, after their fictional main character, Carson Napier. Carson attempted a solo voyage to Mars, mistaken navigational calculations finds himself heading toward the planet Venus instead. The novels, part of the Sword and Planet subgenre of science fiction, follow earthman Napier's fantastic adventures after he crash-lands on Venus, called Amtor by its human-like inhabitants"

Carson of Venus is pure Burroughs with lots of daring do, exotic locations, bumbling of Napier, weird political commentary and lots of sword and planet action. 
The Carson of Venus distills Burroughs ideals into a new setting and he does it with a bit more polish in some places then we see in later books. Here he's not afraid to experiment with the action and pile on the thinking at times. The location is the thing in this book. 
Napier isn't suffering from the usual 'White Man's burden here. He's the fish out of water on an alien world of pretty intense savagery. Amtor isn't a pretty world or particularly nice at all to him or his space princess. They literally have to fight one thing after another just to survive and get through. It is done with a fine bit of style though.  The style of Venus in science fiction and fantasy has almost always been one of pulptastic imaginings especially with weird dinosaurs, slimes, and swamp monsters.  The novel has these in spades. 
Do yourself a favor and find a copy today. 
Venus has been making a comeback over the last couple of years in both OSR circles and with a movie being made. 

According to Wiki: 

"In 2004 film rights for the entire Venus series were secured by Angelic Entertainment, Inc. a film production company based in San Diego, California. Carson Napier (formerly announced as Pirates of Venus) is to be the first film put into production. A screenplay forPirates of Venus was completed and registered with the Writers Guild of America in September 2007. Bruce Pobjoy, Head of Production for Angelic Pictures, states that their intention is to be loyal to the integrity of Burroughs' writing, while at the same time updating, and modernizing the story for today's sensibilities, and sophisticated movie audiences. The film will utilize digital techniques such as used in Sky Captain and the World of TomorrowSin City and 300 to display the exotic world of Amtor hidden beneath Venus’ clouds.[1] [2] The film is expected to be released in 2014" 
The official movie website can be found right over HERE

Adventuring on Amtor For Your OSR 

Make no mistake Amtor is Old Venus and its a water world with some very tight twists to it.
I've used the setting a number of times and its always a trip to watch jaded players suddenly discover some of the weirdness that Atmor has in store for them.
Venus has always had its weird little water soaked place in Science Fiction and its only with games like Space 1889 and OD&D where it really got a chance to shine. You can find more about the depictions of Old and New Venus right over HERE
 Complete maps of Amtor can be found right over

According to Wiki : 

Amtor is a verdant world shielded from the heat of the sun by a (nearly) perpetual cloud cover. The portion depicted, largely confined to the southern hemisphere's temperate zone (or Trabol, as it is known to its inhabitants), is primarily oceanic, but includes twocontinents and a number of large islands.
The main continent is Thora, extending also far into the tropical zone of Strabol and the arctic zone of Karbol -– possibly as far as the south pole. Several smaller land masses projecting into Trabol from Karbol appear to be peninsular extensions of Thora; these include Bombaj, Ator, Rovlap, Vodaro, and Vaxlap. Interspersed among these are the great islands of Ganfal, Malpi, Donuk, Movis, Nor, Anlap, Vepaja, Trambol, and Zanbo. The unnamed second continent is a largely tropical landmass north of Vepaja and west of Thora.
Amtorian vegetation, particularly on Vepaja, tends to be gigantic. Vepaja is notable for the enormous forests Napier first encounters upon his arrival, with trees reaching into the inner cloud envelope. Elsewhere, the geography of Amtor is more varied, and he also travels through a dismal pine forest, grassland plains, glacial valleys, and several mountain ranges.
Cartographers of Amtor's southern hemisphere believe their world is a flat disk, with the fiery equator as a point at the center, while the south pole is distributed around the edge. Amtorian maps therefore greatly distort the distances, sizes, and shapes of surface features.Den Valdron has a wonderful article that goes into much more depth about Amtor  Right over HERE

Cultures of Venus 

Wiki does a nice job of covering the basics for Amtor and its people. 
Here's the Wiki entry:
The human natives of Amtor are a generally inhospitable lot, often trying to murder Napier, kidnap his princess, or both. Their nations are rather loosely connected, partly because the geography is strewn with impassable mountains, impenetrable forests, and unnavigable seas (which Napier nevertheless passes, penetrates, and navigates), and partly because their maps are somewhat unusual. In spite of their relative isolation from each other, a worldwide language is current among all peoples. The level of culture runs the spectrum from savagery to advanced technology; some nations possess a longevity serum, atomic ray guns, and nuclear powered ships. Radio is unknown (the ships are reduced to communicating by flags), and there are no native aircraft; Napier designs and builds the first, based on Earth technology.
The other impediment to communication, Amtor's quirky cartography, stems from the inhabitants' bizarre cosmology, which at least in the southern hemisphere where Napier lands holds that the world is a flat disc floating on a burning sea, with a rim of ice and a center of fire. As the "rim" is actually the south pole, and the "center" the equator, Amtorians have an extraordinarily distorted view of their planet's surface, and their maps are warped accordingly. Due to the perpetual overcast, they have no celestial markers to correct their geographical mismeasurements, let alone on which to base the concepts of a solar system, other worlds, or the stars. The difference between the observed and theoretical versions of geography are reconciled by a pseudo-scientific "Theory of Relativity of Distance", which resolves the problem by multiplying by the square root of minus one. Napier finds it difficult to counter this rationale, noting that "You cannot argue with a man who can multiply by the square root of minus one." Such wry digs are typical of the series.Den Valdron has another  wonderful article that goes into much more depth about Amtor's Cultures right over HERE
Monsters of Amtor! 

There are some seriously messed up alien lifeforms that are just waiting to devour your adventurers and planetary explorers.
These run from the 'Vere' to the 'Tongzan'!
This time the master of the monsters is Sean Philips over at the ERBzine.
He's got a killer article up about every single beastie found in the books.
Right over Here

 Pulp Amtor!

Edgar Rice Burroughs wasn't the only author to write about Venus. There have been a metric ton of pulp authors who wrote about the cloud shrouded planet. There is  however an article that goes into possibly placing a number of the pulp Venus sources into the background of Amtor!
This article also by Mr. Valdron does an excellent job of dealing with the science fantasy of the weird world of Venus.
You can find that right over
Carson of Venus is not within the public domain and is the property of the Burroughs Estate. This blog article is for entertainment purposes only and does not seek to break the trade marks or copyrights of any of the holders of this material. Artwork is being used without permission only to demonstrate the background of the 'Carson of Venus' books. These images are the property of their copy right holders.
This blog owner would like to thank the ERBzine owners and the writers for inspiring this article.
Thank you. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review And Commentary on Frank Mentzer's Lich Dungeon Part II For Your Old School Campaign.

Frank Mentzer's Lich Dungeon Level One was bad enough. A challenging role playing dungeon crawling fun fest through some challenging dungeon locals.
The pace was breakneck and the writing was very tight. 
Level One is available right over HERE

Well Lich Dungeon Level II up's the stakes by a D20!

Get it right over HERE
The description according to Rpgnow: 
Lich Dungeon, a city unto itself.
Level One was simple, just enough to introduce the place.  This is Level Two.  The real challenges start here.

On Level 2 you'll find apartments & shops, churches & cops, and... well, monsters of course: norks, gunges, geeps, Draugur, plus the usual suspects.
For business & residential opportunities, please see the management (Chagur the Lich). You might even survive.

Prepare to laugh.  Prepare to fight.  Hope to survive.  Have a good game.
A year in the making, this addition to the Lich Dungeon line is packed with new monsters, new treasures, and detailed maps of all areas (there's a lot of maps).  Designed by best-selling fantasy author and designer Frank Mentzer, this adventure is easily converted to almost any fantasy rpg gaming system.  At 134 pages, this is far more than a 'quick trip to the dungeon'.
It is designed for exploration by parties of three or more characters of moderate levels of experience (and equipment).

That description is dead wrong. The Lich Dungeon Level Two is a miniature campaign unto itself. This is a one hundred thirty six page turn based tour of an underground Mentzerian ecology. A world of tricks, traps, and enough old school goodness to keep a party of experienced players going for a good solid couple of weeks. 
This is the writer at his best dealing out tightly woven traps and a set of well though out plots with enough background NPC's to keep things going for a while. 
There are encounter lists, new monsters, new equipment, lots of locations, a boat load of puzzles and traps to deal with the best megadungeons.
The book is interesting and solid.
The maps are well thought out with a reason for everything and everything in its place ready to kill the stupid .
The book is put together in an easy to read fashion, the lay out very well done, and the time factor is right in there as well.

Using Lich Dungeon Part II For Your OSR Game
Lich Dungeon Level II

This is an adventure that clearly takes full advantage of its monsters and introduces a few twists on some old favorites while introducing brand new beasties such as 
norks, gunges, geeps, Draugur, and more.
The difference here is that not only are these monsters with a purpose but monsters with a civilized purpose. They exist in an urban environment that supports them as well as being part of the story.
The plot hooks allow the DM to customize this for any old school D&D incarnation. The writing is very tightly done and Frank knows how the party is going to deal with said monsters and the adventure rolls with the consequences.
This isn't a meat grinder of an adventure but your going to need a party of at least fourth or better for this adventure. You really do need to be this high to ride the adventure.
Intelligence on the part of the players is a must here and its easily inserted into existing old school  campaigns.
The puzzles are made to be very dangerous if not  out right lethal for a few of them. 
This is a very deep dungeon and even with the locations, mini cities, winding neighborhoods, and weirdness there's more then enough to keep PCs happy for months to come. My suggestion is a quick visit to level one and then a deeper visit to level two to get even the most jaded players into the adventure's mood and mode of play.
Four out of five stars for this adventure. 
Further suggestions are to link this adventure with other  Eldritch Enterprises products. Linking these together forms an over arching mini campaign world in the best of the old school tradition.
You can find more of their products and wisdom right over HERE
More of the author's
advise  and wisdom right HERE
 Overall I'm even more impressed with this adventure and its challenges keep the Lich Dungeon series fresh. Grab some players, roll up some PC's and journey deep into the realm of the Lich today! 

Review and Commentary On 'Rewind' 2013 Tv Pilot Time Travel Movie For Your Old School Time Travel Campaigns

So last night I caught  the pilot for a new scripted Sci -Fi Channel show called Rewind.  The show's pilot was buried between Heroes of Cosplay and Face Off.

I'd love to show you images but there's hardly anything on the web at all.

Seriously not one picture that I can put up. 
Here's a run down on the plot:

around a team of military field operatives and civilian scientists who

must use untested technology to travel back in time to alter past

events in order to change the future and avoid a devastating terrorist
 The show starts of with an Atomic explosion in New York City and the effects it has across the world. Nine million people are dead in the wake of this event. The action is very tight and for a television plot its well thought out. 
This is a very well acted movie even though its a television show pilot. 
David Cronenberg makes an appearance as the physicist and catalyst for the events of the show. 
 actually do a wonderful job with the show. 
It was nice, funny, and actually well thought out. The physics were well used as science fiction up to the point when the show began to tread a bit into 'Time Tunnel' territory. 
That's not a bad thing actually.

 I like the Time Tunnel. And I actually liked Rewind.A show about 
a time-traveling anti-terrorist unit who tries to change the past to 
alter their terrible future hits some buttons. It's written by Justin Marks from Street 
Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.Don't judge the show based on just that.  This all hits some pretty high marks with me. I was entertained and my brain actually began to seriously think about a 'time travel' campaign that wasn't Doctor Who oriented. 

Using Rewind in An OSR Time Traveling Campaign 

Rewind is pilot had me thinking about 'Pace Setter's Games' now time traveling rpg Time Master. All of the plot elements were right there. The fact that we've got a group using 'Untested Time Travel' technology is a pretty damn solid key plot element.
The use last night of the various ripples and their effects on the world while the time was protected inside the facility they were traveling from.
The whole untested technology allows a DM to really ramp up some of  the very elements that Time Master takes into account. Everything from the health risks of time travel to the time paradoxes of events and beyond.

'Rewind' might as well be a primer for a game of  'Time Master' all the way down to its ending.
The equipment, attitudes, facility, and more are very much drawn in from our time period. Everything from mircodrones to open end time travel software are in the plot and waiting to be adapted to your game.
You can purchase Time Master right over Here
The Time Tunnel Option 

As I said before 'Rewind' felt like an updated version of 'Time Tunnel' for 2013. Which this show well could be. The technology looked and felt like a homage to the old 'Project Tick Tock.'
Could the materials presented in 'Rewind' be based on the principals laid down in 'Time Tunnel'? Sure they could but why use an updated version of the tunnel?
Because the scientist who developed it is still missing. There's a major plot hook just waiting to be exploited by a group of adventurers.
All in all Rewind offers more questions then answers and that's actually the point. 

You can of course catch the 'Time Tunnel" on Hulu right over
Will we be seeing more of 'Rewind' besides the two hour pilot?
Only Time will tell! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Seeds of The Eugenics Wars And Beyond For Your Old School Space Opera Part II

"This is not our world" Campaign 
Seeds of the Eugenic Wars 
Kahn's reign is steeped in blood and violence but his wasn't the only reign baptized in nuclear fire. 

Part I Right Over
"Between 1992 and 1996 the world was plunged into controlled chaos as the Eugenics Wars saw the rise of the genetically created supermen." What proceeded the creation of Kahn as well as his ilk and why were these incredibly beautiful monstrous examples of humanity allowed to exist?
What horror preceded Kahn?

Warning  This  Is Another System!
A Very Different 1970's

Hal and his relation systems weren't the first of the A.I.s to awaken. The first was Colossus created in 1970 by Dr. Charles A. Forbin. His ideas were radical and incredibly ground breaking about the nature of intelligence and A.I. 
According to Wiki and declassified information: 
Dr. Charles A. Forbin (Eric Braeden) is the chief designer of a secret government project. He and his team have built an advanced supercomputer, called "Colossus", to control all of the United States and Allied nuclear weapons systems. Colossus is built to be impervious to any attack, encased within a mountain and powered by its own nuclear reactor, filling the area with gamma radiation. 

Moments later the President receives a phone call from the Soviet ambassador stating they would shortly be activating their own version of Colossus, a computer known as "Guardian"
The effects of the relationship between the two machines is well known and their eventual merging into one entity.
"The voice of World Control" in a broadcast to the general population of all countries. It declares that its mission is to prevent war, as it was designed to do so. Mankind is given the choice between the peace of plenty under its authority, or one of "unburied dead". It also states that it had detected the attempt to disarm the missiles and responds by detonating two missiles in their silos with the announced justification "so that you will learn by experience that I do not tolerate interference".

It took clandestine agents and military over two years to deal with World Voice but in time the world recovered. But like all things the horrors of World Voice's reign remained. 

World Control "died" in a fiery nuclear fueled explosion out in the deserts of New Mexico. Of  course this was part of the liner thinking on the part of mankind. World Control would later become the power behind the 'Delos' corporation. The circuit technology sewn into every fiber of many of the androids and replicants that continue to roll off of the Delos assembly line.
The seeds for the control of mankind had already been laid. 

The MegaDungeons of Colossus 
 'Colossus is built to be impervious to any attack, encased within a mountain and powered by its own nuclear reactor, filling the area with gamma radiation. '
Sitting with the side of a mountain powered by its own nuclear reactor is another aspect of Colossus' s A.I. and its had time to evolve and change radically.
 And no one is even aware of its existence. 

Because of the chaos of the 1970 take over and the chaos of the Eugenics Wars, its been forgotten. Forgotten,evolving , changing, and studying. 
Planning who knows what? 

The cycles of A.I. Technology had begun! 
The seeds of A.I. were planted and the jump in 1970's technology allowed the leap forward to new heights. Every aspect of technology had been touched by the tainted hand of World Control. 

The Rise of the Super Human

There were other groups in Asia who looked upon mankind as something to be surpassed. They were looking deep into the human genome as a possible answer to the horrors that Forbin had unleashed upon the world.
The seeds of Kahn go back much further however. The  ground breaking work of  Doctor Reed Richards and Professor Charles Xavier  whose careers and work from 1961 to 1979 are well known.
More To Come.