Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Connecting Up The Pieces - B4 The Lost City By Tom Moldvay & The Expansion of Darkness Using Adventurer,Conqeuror, King Session Report Nine

How does one connect up two very desperate pieces of campaign weirdness?! This is the current question today on my mind with my Cha'alt/Godbound campaign. But,but, the Godbound are incredibly powerful beings of mythological roleplaying. They are PC's with divine powers able to shape the very nature of reality!? Well not really.. They are powerful adventurers imbued with the powers of the divine in a universe with a fallen Heaven. At least in my campaigns they are but the three divinities from Tom Moldvay's B4 The Lost City are still in the mix but its Zargon whose pulling the strings. This article on Tom Moldvay's classic adventure by Bell of Souls has some interesting tid bits even though its for fifth edition;
"Centuries ago, Cynidicea was the capital of a rich and fertile kingdom. Its people reclaimed much land from the desert, especially during the reign of King Alexander-the last and greatest king of Cynidicea. Upon King Alexander’s death, a huge pyramid was raised in his honor. This pyramid was the largest and most important building in the city. The fall of Cynidicea began on the day that workers, digging under the great pyramid, chanced upon the lair of a strange monster called Zargon. Zargon was roughly humanoid in shape, though larger than most humans. In place of arms and legs it had twelve tentacles. Its head was that of a giant lizard, with a large black horn in the middle of its forehead. Zargon killed most of the workers, then began hunting prey at night through the streets of Cynidicea. The city guard was not able to kill the monster. At last, the city rulers began sending criminals from the jails into the pyramid for Zargon to feed on. In time, a strange cult arose that worshipped the monster as a god. The cult viewed the monster’s victims as religious sacrifices. The worship of the ancient gods of Cynidicea- Gorm, Usamigaras, and Madarua-was forsaken in favor of the worship of the monster Zargon. Finally, most of the citizens of Cynidicea worshipped it. The worshippers of Zargon began to look for strange pleasures. They sought oblivion in rare wines and bizarre drugs. Workers no longer repaired the irrigation ditches. Rich land turned into desert. The army lost its discipline. People outside the city rebelled, or moved away as chaos spread outward from Cynidicea. Later, barbarian warriors stormed over the walls and destroyed the city. The only people of Cynidicea who survived its destruction were those who had fled underground to the vast catacombs* under the city. There, led by Priests of Zargon, the Cynidiceans tried to rebuild the city." 

Source: https://www.belloflostsouls.net/2019/08/dd-module-spotlight-the-lost-city.html

That series of vast catacombs under the city is the key to linking Cha'alt with Cynidicea. Zargon hasn't been idle at all. It knows that there's a clock ticking on Cha'alt & Cynidicea. That clock is the California rift in my campaign & the fact that the cult of Zargon has been quietly & effectively taking out some of the competition between game sessions!

Sure its all fun & games until you start to realize that the animal masked people in B4 are straight outta of a story that Robert E.Howard would have written. Then there's the fact that modern San Franciso is ripe for a take over by an army  of religious fanatics. And there you go. The Cynidiceans control San Francisco & most of the East Bay area. 

 The ancient gods of Cynidicea- Gorm, Usamigaras, and Madarua are still worshipped by the Hyperboreans among whom they are minor dieties. They see the Cynidiceans as upstarts & a dangerous influence to their plans of conquest. The Hyperborean forces have gained foot holds in South Bay & the Peninsula. The fighting is fierce & sometimes door to door.

What about the technological influence of Cha'alt & its warp down in Las Vegas?!
 What about it?
When you start looking at the Black Pyramid & its influence of cult, weirdos, & armies of scvengers?!  That's another front in this war actually.. The demon worms & their forces are being held in check for the moment by the gods of Earth & their armies.

Xanthium-183 has hit the people of Arizonia hard & there are large 'masses' of people who stare into the sky for hours & days at a clip. Their eyes glazed in the fuchsia on fuchsia of total Zoth hive mind bonding. But who or what is feeding on them?! 
Masked Cynidicean spies & priests circle among Arizona but they are found & sacrificed to unknown gods! Can the adventurers wrap up California in time to get back to Las Vegas?! Or is all lost?! And what are the rumors of King Alexander's ghost seen in the darkness of the deserts between Vegas & California?

The deserts between Vegas & Arizonia are filled with unstable planar warps that open. Here's where I think that the 
Adventurer,Conqeuror, King rpg  books the AX4: Ruined City of Cyfandir (ROC) book,
AX3: Capital of the Borderlands, & finally Secrets of the Nethercity might be perfectly slotted into the campaign with no one being the wiser. 

The clash between religion, economics, etc. all within the context of an on going campaign might take years to get through. But I'm really enjoying the wild ride that that this has taken us on this year!
Happy New Years everyone! 

Monday, December 30, 2019

War In The Shadows - The Dwergaz & Their Hidden Legacy

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my Godbound/Cha'alt rpg campaign over the last couple of days. A friend of mine asked me, 'Are there Dwarves on Cha'alt?'. This got me thinking about my notes from my Adventurer, Conqueror, King  campaign from a few years ago. The wiki entry on the mythology of the Dwarves has this to say; "Norse mythology provides different origins for the beings, as recorded in the Poetic Edda (compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources) and the Prose Edda (written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century). The Poetic Edda poem Völuspá details that the dwarfs were the product of the primordial blood of the being Brimir and the bones of Bláinn (generally considered to be different names for the primordial being Ymir). The Prose Edda, however, describes dwarfs as beings similar to maggots that festered in the flesh of Ymir before being gifted with reason by the gods. The Poetic Edda and Prose Edda contain over 100 dwarf names, while the Prose Edda gives the four dwarfs Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri (Old Norse 'North, South, East, and West') a cosmological role: they hold up the sky.[1] In addition, scholars have noted that the Svartálfar (Old Norse 'black elves') appear to be the same beings as dwarfs, given that both are described in the Prose Edda as the denizens of Svartálfaheimr"

In my mind the traditional Dungeons & Dragons style Dwarf or Dwergaz from the proto Germanic were originally a slave race that rose up against their inhuman masters  the Svartálfar (Old Norse 'black elves') & their original creators the Brimir. They formed their own kingdoms far away on other planes but there are still Dwarven kingdoms within Svartálfaheimr. The wars between Dwergaz & Svartálfar (Old Norse 'black elves') are legendary. 

A dwarf, in the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy roleplaying game, is a humanoid race. The idea for the D&D dwarf comes from European mythologies and J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), and has been used in D&D and its predecessor Chainmail since the early 1970s. Lady of Hats artwork is awesome.

The Dwarves are seemingly a dying people but in some sense their not going extinct. They continue to wander across the planes seeding new settlements & other fortifications. But what the Hell are the Dwarves of legend  doing on Cha'alt?!  The Dwarven communities on Cha'alt are there doing the same things that they always have been doing kicking ass & taking names. But they also have been heavily involved in the demonic worm trade, doing many of the heavy duty enchantments for many of the scavenger tribes,subbing mercenary work in the desert regions, working many of the desert caravans, and living the life of adventurers.

Desert Dwarf artwork by Eric Williams II for the Shadowrun rpg Dwarf Male but I thought the artwork was cool as Hell. 

But the 
Dwergaz clans & tribes  have secret agendas & reasons for being on Cha'alt. Their ancient enemies the Svartálfar (Old Norse 'black elves') have been selling millions of slaves for mass sacrifices to the Great Old Ones.  The  Dwergaz clans & tribal elders have been looking to the  alien control center known as Elysium

There are rumors that the ancient enemies of the  Dwergaz clans the Duergar evil & vile creatures who fell to the forces of chaos weilded by the the Svartálfar (Old Norse 'black elves') are now maintaing some of the alien machinery deep below the face of Elysium.
The Duergar from the Monster Manual II  are still evil as they come! 

The Dwergaz clans on Cha'alt know that the planet is in total peril & that there's a limited time frame on the planet. Many of the clan houses have gateways to other worlds already set up. The tremors caused by the California dimensional warp have been tearing bits & pieces of the fabric of the local space time continum. 

Artwork from Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise kickstarter. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Using The 'B' Series Modules & Doug Niles B5 The Horror on The Hill To Establish A Beginning Sword & Sorcery Campaign

When it comes to the holidays they often leave little time for me to pick up on the pieces of my back gaming hobby. The back game is the second game that a dungeon master is always playing. The research, writing, prepping, & learning that goes into making a successful campaign. Today I zipping around Twitter as I sometimes do.
I came across my friend  Jeffrey Talanian 's Tweet;
"The back cover of AS&SH, featuring art by Charles Lang. In his foreword, Stuart Marshall wrote, "This is no world of epic, heroic fantasy. Weird fiction was always on a smaller and more personal scale. In heroic fantasy, you’re trying to save the world. " "...In weird fiction, you’re mostly just trying to prize the gem out of the statue of the spider-god’s eye socket. Success is survival with increased wealth."

The Astonishing Swordsmen & Scorcerers of Hyperborea rpg traces its own roots from not only the weird fiction of the Thirties but also the Sixties & Seventies Swords & Sorcery literatures. According to the wiki entry on Swords & Sorcery; "In his introduction to the reference Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers by L. Sprague de Camp,[9] Lin Carter notes that the heritage of Sword and Sorcery is illustrious, and can be traced back to mythology, including the labors of Hercules, as well as to classical epics such as Homer's Odyssey, the Norse sagas, and Arthurian legend.

It also has been influenced by historical fiction, for instance that of Sir Walter Scott which was influenced by Scottish folklore and ballads.[10] However, very few of Scott's stories contain fantastic elements; in most, the appearance of such is explained away.[11] However, its themes of adventure in a strange society influenced the adventures set in foreign lands by H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs.[12] Haggard's works included many fantastic elements"
This brings me to the fact that Sword & Sorcery is paradoxical in its nature because Homer's Odyssey,the Arthurian legends & even the Norse sagas are about kingdom or empire  spanning destruction & the saving of that setting. Are some of these tales are about world spanning threatens & that brings us to the fact that out of the Sixties & Sevenities came Elric of Melniboné created by Michael Moorcock. The first Elric story The Dreaming City appeared in  1961. The character of Elric shattered the conventions of Sword & Sorcery. But first & formost he is a mercenary outcast dependant upon his sorceries & the the demon sword Stormbringer. 

Elric is actually the threat that destroys his world instead of saving it. Want to know how to run an 'evil' campaign this is these are the  book series to read. When it comes to the B/X Dungeons & Dragons  adventure  source material let's talk about Douglas Niles B5 Horror on the Hill. When B2 Keep of the Borderlands fell out of print B5 Horror on the Hill came out to fill the gap. But many have suggested replacing Guido's fort with The Keep on the Borderland.
With AS&SH & its far future history B5 Horror on the Hill can be used to infuse the world setting of Hyperborea with a monster haunted wilderness. Treasure isn't simply enough. Douglas Niles B5 Horror on the Hill could be used with the influence of Robert E.Howard's Beyond The Black River.  

With a combination of Douglas Niles B5 Horror on the Hill & Gary Gygax B2 Keep on the Borderlands used with AS&SH then we get 'Epic Weird Fantasy' in the D&D tradition. A small scale adventure series with a tapestry of greater conflict with a campaign setting. Robert E.Howard's Beyond The Black gives the very principals of using armies or greater threats to a campaign with the story's plot;"The foreword to the story tells of Conan's journey to Punt with Muriela, a scam perpetrated against the worshippers of an ivory goddess, and then into Zembabwei, where he joins a trading caravan on their way towards Shem. Around 40 now, Conan visits Cimmeria and finds his old friends are now fathers. Bored, Conan sets off for the Bossonian Marches and becomes a scout at Fort Tuscelan on the Black River, at the western border of the newly conquered Aquilonian province of Conajohara.
A young settler named Balthus encounters Conan in the forest slaying a marsh devil. Accompanying the young man back to the Fort, Conan finds the corpse of a merchant left by a Pictish wizard named Zogar Sag and slain by a swamp demon. The fort's commander, Valannus, desperately asks Conan to slay Zogar Sag before he raises the Picts against the whole borderlands, especially since their fort is vastly undermanned after the Aquilonian king, Numedides, has foolishly decided to withdraw most of his army. Taking a hand-picked team of scouts and Balthus, Conan sets off stealthily in his canoe."
Its not always about simple survival & treasure sometimes its about setting up the rest of the campaign from the ground up. Basic tactics, play follow through, & even allowing the player's PC's to shine can lead into a solid foundation of Sword & Sorcery play. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Adventures In Darkness - Cha'alt & Adventurer, Conqueror,King rpg Deep Dive - Session Report Eight

First of all Merry Christmas & happy New Year to all of my readers. The holidays is a time of reflection & being thankful for our family. Its also a time when we get together with friends. For me over the holiday it was getting together with old players for a beer or two. I've been running my Cha'alt/Godbound game campaign. But we got talking about our Adventurer,Conqeuror, King rpg game campaign that I ran about a year ago. The campaign ended badly due to bad scheduling,outside personal issues, & complete breakdown among players leaving me the DM with a pile of notes.
But recently I paid close attention to a Cha'alt session report from the Mixed DM's blog. Its his use of ACK's that grabbed my attention. I said my good nights got my Christmas hugs & paid for everyone's tab.

After paying for the beer & coming home I put on a pot of tea. I grabbed my note books & began to go through them. Everything starts with B2 Keep on the Borderlands by Gary Gygax but quickly moved to Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu

Adventure events are moving way too fast but there's been a few changes in the ACK's line since I last looked. Namily the AX4: Ruined City of Cyfandir (ROC) book,AX3: Capital of the Borderlands, & finally Secrets of the Nethercity.  What does any of these books have to do with B2? Well, these books are a sort of ACK's homage to B2 Keep on the Borderlands. These books tie right back into  Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu which is a perfect mate to Cha'alt. But AX3: Capital of the Borderlands has some killer source material to fill in desert sands of Cha'alt.

The ACK's books are set in a twilight or late Roman Empire sort of fantasy time period. This is perfect for an alien desert world.
 From the desert setting of the ACK's books to the smoldering remains of an Elven empire too the fact that  Secrets of the Nethercity could be used build the underground dungeons & remains of Venger's alien cities. 

So how does this tie in with my campaign events in California & the Slavers? Quite easily actually. The Slavers of AD&D Slavelords series of modules (A1-A4) have been taking full advantage of the Cha'alt dimensional rift that's opened up in Las Vegas. They've been raiding the california coast & their forces have taking slaves here & there. What their really interested in is aquiring xanthium-183 that's been filtering through the California underworld.
What the slavers forces have been avoiding is the Hyperborea armies that have been raiding parts of California. This campaign is set during the opening salvos of 
 Ragnarök when the Hyperborean armies that have been waiting for the stars to be right come to the surface to wage war upon humanity. 

The appearance of the Cha'alt dimensional tear & the Lovecraftian masters  has stirred the alien humanity & blood of the Hyperboreans! The time of the gods death is upon humanity & the chosen of the god's champions now walks among men. But their fighting each other instead of the enemies of humanity! So these campaign events are eluded to in Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea & I'm using that game as part of the basis for this on going campaign.
But the clock is ticking for Cha'alt is doomed as well!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Review & Commentary On RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 From Spectre Press

So tonight in my email I find that the other half grabbed me a pdf copy of  RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 from Spectre Press. Basically what this book is a complation best of The RPG Pundit Presents which supports the Lion & Dragon Medivalauthentic rpg but it also supports other OSR games as well. The Lion & Dragon rpg is set during a real medieval historically accurate fantasy setting during the events of the War of the Roses. RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1  clocks in at 266 pages of solidly done material with a nicely done layout, clean lines, & easy to read sections. There's even an index! 

This book isn't just some cheese the 'best of' complelation book but an actual sourcebook with material selected to enhance the Lion & Dragon rpg. The  RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 is a solidly researched & very well laid out book. It lives up to the quality of Lion & Dragon quite nicely. 

The first thing we get is brand spanking new character classes. The courier is a PC class  whose machinations &  maneuver within the court is going to allow the PC's perhaps to get the backing of the crown if their really lucky. This is a class where the social structure of the court is going to be very important. The priest class in Albion is far more important then it seems & this class can represent anything from the humble village priest to the bishops in court. This is very important class in a medieval setting where quite literally your fortunes sometimes depended upon the support of the Church. Sages are another class that is one of th fulcrums of society during this time & they can be very important to the interior of a party of adventurers. Craftsmen are the unsung heroes of the world of the medival. Everything from boots to weapons are the realm of the craftsmen not to mention the interaction with the guilds. The archer is paramount to the warfare of the day esepecially during the War of the Roses. Here's where the archer PC ties back into the  longbows/crossbows, advanced critical tables, domain management, and mass combat. This is a theme that we'll see throughout the  RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1. The book presents these alternative & expanded rules with gusto & a real sense of danger to the PC's. This is done with the critical tables taking center stage! The critical tables are top notch & top drawer here. Very well done & solidly exacuted. The domain mangement rules are top as well because warfare, country up keep, local economics all play a central campaign & setting role.
One of the places that the 
 RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 really shines is the presentation of the supernatural & the occult. The book grabs the reader by the throat & presents new options for Chaos & occult depravity within the Albion setting. 

Hellmouth not artwork from
RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 
Spellbooks and  grimoires are abosolutely dangerous to life & limb. The supernatural lurks around every corner & the expanded options for the Magistars for the system are not only impressive but very useful at the table top level!
This take is expanded into the ideas & management of the wizard's spellbook; "
The role of a spellbook has been largely unchanged in most OSR rules systems. A wizard’s spellbook is where he stores the spells that must be memorized every day in a Vancian system. Other than that, it doesn’t do anything. It should not surprise anyone that this has no grounding in historical medieval/renaissance magic. It’s also kind of boring. This is a reinvention intended to make a spellbook more useful and more central to the magic-user experience, one founded on historical magical diaries." The idea here is the wizard's spell book becomes an object for adventure unto itself. This idea was put forth in the Lion & Dragon rpg really finds its legs here.
The  grimoires finally get their due in RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1;"
Grimoires were the key magical texts of medieval European occultism. They were not spellbooks in the OSR sense, nor were they really magical handbooks. The key training in magic was given through word of mouth, from teacher to student. The Grimoires, rather, were the collected and disseminated works of advanced magical techniques; sometimes devised by a single author and sometimes compiled by various sources. To use them, you had to already have the basic training, which wasn’t explicitly given in the books. Instead, studying the Grimoires provided new techniques for magic-users to learn, if they could get their hands on it. The Grimoires presented here are based on real historical Grimoires, adapted in ways to be useful for an OSR campaign."

One of the most dangerous of the grimoires get's its due & that's  the Goetia; 
"This grimoire is the summoner’s mother lode. It details the techniques for summoning seventy-two different demons, each with special powers. These demons are chaotic and dangerous, requiring great caution when dealing with them. To summon them, the magician must draw both a protective magical circle for himself and a warded magical triangle (which is where the demon will appear) in a room for this special purpose. Then a sigil of the demon’s appearance is placed in the triangle with incenses. Finally, incantations are made to summon the demon by its name. Each summoning costs about 300gp for the required inks and incenses. It is also necessary to design and consecrate a special ring, amulet, censer, and plate, for a combined one-time cost of 1,200gp." Yeah these are magical & occult operations that should only be performed by Ablion's courtly wizards. But a copy of this book falling into the wrong hands could kick off an inquistor campaign or adventure. This section is extremely detailed & highly dangerous to PC's. So its great to get the forces of Chaos stirred up in a campaign!
 The Book of the Art of Hours could give an adventurer some very dangerous influences if used with the subtly & a bit of wit. Many of the grimoires featured in the RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1  tie into the sections on the Astrology, the Arcana, & an actual workable section on the Tarot. I really like a well done section on reading & using Tarot cards.

Not artwork from the Companion but
Number 12, the Hanged Man,
the game of Jean Dodal (early 
xviii th  century )
We get section after section on various magical & occult grimoires with their occult mysteries, supernatural rites & dangerous entities associated with them. Each of the chapters on the Arcana, Astology, etc. all ties back into & folds into itself. All of this is really useful at the table top level & I can see using many of these systems in other old school or OSR games.
Chapter five is where things begin to heat up for me as a dungeon master we get insight into the Church & how to use it in game. Common sense guidelines & rules to incorporate the Church of Albion into your home campaigns.
We get day to day activities that the PC's engage in & how this would fit into the life of an adventurer in Lion & Dragon; "Low-level characters are generally focused on mere survival, combat, and adventuring as they rise in power when playing Lion & Dragon and other Medieval-Authentic campaigns, such as those set in worlds like Dark Albion. At some point, however, players are likely to be interested in developing their characters beyond the immediate concerns of any given session. The following guidelines detail a few of the things on which mid-level characters with time on their hands may focus, as well as the kind of attention those sorts of characters could attract." Everything from PC homelessness to running a mercenary unit are covered. Costs of living, in between day to day life is covered. Even how to hand the official wizards of Albion is covered here;"Magisters with experience in the arcane arts are highly valued as scholars. They usually gain the opportunity to take teaching positions at their alma mater (whether Oxford or Cambridge); in the later period of the campaign, new positions open in Middleham Collegium. Magisters of at least Level 6 are the most-likely to be offered positions, but lower-level magisters of exceptional fame and reputation may also be offered the same. Characters who are notorious for their infamy, lack of piety, or corrupt morals are lesslikely to be offered positions"
Gangs, big business, even how to run a Church priority  is covered here. And yes these sort of day to day details need to be covered especially in between adventures.  Noble attention & favor is also covered in gory detail. The patronage of a noble can make or break an adventurer. Remember life is cheap especially during times of warfare. Inheritence for PC's is covered as well this is often something that could lead to money & even monster slaying. Merchant & caravan activity ties right back into the craftsman & merchant PC classes at the beginning of RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1. Everything from setting up at a new market to shipping out to the dark European Middle East is covered which could lead to more adventure for the PC's.
Courtly life & intrigues is a chapter unto itself & it adds another dimension to the life of minor nobles, royals, & more in the courts of the princes & noblemen.
Rounding out the book is a chapter on the realm of the Fae! Finally we've given a deep dive into the world of medival authentic supernatural realms of the Fae & man is it dangerous. The realms of the Elves, faerie animals, entities, dangers, encounters, etc. all round out this chapter. We are given more side  glances into the occult realms of the Fae & the Elves. Its well done, researched, & with plenty of hooks to get the juices flowing.
Cursed artifacts is another section & there's plenty of danger & deadliness in the examples  given here for these dangerous magic items. There's a boat load of trouble for the DM who wants to add a touch of malice, danger, & even a bit of whimsy in these items.
Finally we get a boat load of trouble in the form of sinister supernatural wilderland encounters & these are very well done! I can see using these with other OSR games such as Castles & Crusades. I can also see the RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1  being used to enhance other OSR settings such as MonkeyBlood Design Midderlands. It would be very easy to slot many of the systems into the setting to get a fantastic over arching campaign!

All in all I think that the 
RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 is well worth your time & money. I think this is a five star book because it adds not only new optional material to the Lion & Dragon rpg but it could be easily used with other OSR rpgs to add even more bang for the buck. The companion could easily be used to enhance say a game of Castles & Crusades from Troll Lords or even Dungeon Crawl Classics! There three things to remember here. My wife knows of my love of the Lion & Dragon rpg. She spent her money sight unseen & knows the quality of Rpg Pundit's products & didn't think twice. On the whole I think that RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1  is a five outta five product. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Interview & Sit Down With James M. Ward About The Troll Lords Games Star Ship Warden Rpg Game & Kickstarter Part II

"Near the beginning of the 24th century, humans began the largest construction ever undertaken by their species. Larger than most cities, the project was forty-nine miles long, twenty-four miles wide, and more than six miles in height. The manufacture of this colossus required decades of labor by thousands of skilled craftsmen. It was a feat unequaled in human history at that time. Too large to be manipulated in planetary atmosphere and gravity, this behemoth was built in earth's orbit. It was developed to provide safety for more than a million souls and was to be filled with myriad forms of life.
Packed with the latest technology available at the time, the starship was capable of 90% of the speed of light. A trip to Alpha Centauri was but a mere 6 years. A host of other systems were well within reach, and this vessel was to take humanity to the stars. The planning for this mission was meticulous, the courage of her crew unquestionable, and the hopes of mankind ever present. She was named the Warden after her designer, and she set off for the stars in the late 24th century.
Less than two decades into her mission, she simply disappeared. There has now been no word from the Warden for more than 300 years...."

So I had the opportunity to shoot a rather long email to James M. Ward with whom I've been friends with on Facebook & met at a Gencon long ago but never got to play with the man.

However I did send a rather lengthy part II interview email about the Star Ship Warden Kickstarter for Troll Lords Seige Engine.

'My captain,my captain', really digging this piece of MA style artwork from
The Starship Warden Kickstarter. 

With the continuing popularity of the Star Ship Warden Kickstarter & the Kickstarter campaign hitting well over the fifty thousand dollar mark. What do you think of the incredible interest in the Warden & her backstory that grabs at gamers today? 

JMW: I'm lucky that lots of people have played MA over the 40+ years of its existence. I think they might want to get back some of the fun they remembered years ago. Plus the product is way cool.

You've got such a detailed timeline & solid backstory with the world & setting of the Warden. Growing up did you have a keen interest in science fiction & fantasy?

JMW: I started with the Tom Swift books when I was in 5th grade. The school libraries were well used after that.
Can you see other adventures & stories being told in the universe of 'The Star Ship Warden' in the near future?

JMW: Amazon is right now selling three MA anthologies and an MA novel. Red is the Android

Will fans of James M. Ward be seeing more 'Star Ship Warden' supplements & adventures from Troll Lord games?

JMW: There are lots of stretch goals of product. Also Goodman Games is producing a convention tournament MA adventure.

The events from 'The Star Ship Warden' Kickstarter  seem ripe for a writer/designer of your caliber to exploit into more opportunities for modules & so forth.  Does this opportunity excite you as a writer or a designer? Can you elaborate on this a bit? 

JMW: As a freelancer I write what I'm paid for. If people want more MA things I will be happy to write them.

What is your routine for writing these days? 

JMW: I get up around 9 in the morning. I go on AOL and Facebook looking to see if someone wants to hire me for work.
I start writing on the product with the soonest deadline. At noon I break for
food and read a bit of science fiction. In the afternoon I take up a different product.
 I usually stop at 3 or 4.
From then on I surf the web and do some more fiction reading.

Could you ever see yourself doing an adventure like S3 Expedition to Barrier Peaks with 'The Starship Warden' for Castles & Crusades? Asking for a friend of mine whose backed the Kickstarter. Just color me curious? 

JMW: I am writing a C&C adventure for the Warden called THE SAVING OF WREN about a poor half elf that got cruel transported to the deck of the Warden and has been there for over 40 years and really needs saving.

The Warden is a massive ship & filled with all kinds of adventure opportunities. Where did the idea of the Warden come from?

JMW: I always claim it was an idea I got from Brian Aldess and his STARSHIP novel. I've read lots of novels about colonization starships.

Over the years you've turned this simple star ship into your legacy & so many people respond to the idea of the Warden & her ill fated crew. But what really draws you  back into her again & again? 

JMW: I want the starship saved and put back on course. I want to write the MA Planet Campaign.

The Star Ship Warden seems to have so many layers & turns for adventure about her? Can you talk about some of your influences for writing & designing the Warden? 

SIR: I always call the Warden the Adventure in a Tin Can. Over the years I've read thousands of SciFi books. It has all rubbed off.

  You've had some really impressive products with Troll Lords but two of my favorites are the 
Storyteller's Dictionary &  Storyteller's Thesaurus. But where did the idea for those come from?
It seems to me that 'The Star Ship Warden' is the perfect venue for those books to get a work out.
I think out of the Troll Lords lines these two books are some of my favorite.
JMW: The Storytellers books are Steve Chenault's idea.
He was kind enough to give me and Anne Brown the task of writing them.

Do you have a favorite book or adventure that you've done for Troll Lords Jim? 

JMW: This is an awful question.
 It's like saying which of your many daughters is the prettiest.
I like all the things I have done for them.
I like CASUALTIES OF THE CURWSED WOOD because it is an
 adventure that uses a ton of gunpowder. I like TOWERS OF ADVENTURE
 because you really can make a huge tower adventure in just five minutes.
I like THE HAUNTED LANDS boxed set because it's a horror themed product and
it was very difficult to write. OF GODS AND MONSTERS was great to write because
 I found a way to make the deities of the campaign world
 lots more reactive to the players. I'm just saying. . .

If you could snap your fingers Jim & have a fantasy product assignment 
for the table top hobby what would it be? 

JMW: I'll take a pass on that one as I don't want
 to give other designers great ideas.

With the ever changing faces, systems, etc. of the
table top hobby what do you think is the appeal of the Seige engine
 & Castles & Crusades  in your opinion James? 

JMW: It's very easy to learn.
There is lots of gaming material to be had.

The Star Ship Warden book seems to cement the USS Warden into
 the universe of Castles & Crusades. There's always been a large theme of
 science fiction which turned into science fantasy in your writing as the years
have rolled on.
How do you feel about the fact that writing & designing has inspired
countless writers & designers over the years? 

JMW: I don't know that I have done that.
I do enjoy people saying they like my work.

What do you think that 'The Star Ship Wardens' Kickstarter
will do for the table top rpg hobby scene? 

JMW: I'm hoping everyone things it's as good as I think it is and
 useful in any SciFi game system.

Do you think that this 'Kickstarter' is the indication of
a new trend in the table top hobby for other science fiction
or science fantasy games? 

JMW: Nope

Troll Lords has always supported your work &
 had a solid working relationship with you. Could you tell me a bit
about that relationship & what its meant to you over the years? 

JMW: I greatly respect the talent of the Troll Lord people. They tell me
 I'm one of the few designers that turn over product on
 time and in good condition.

Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions with us.
And this has been an extremely exciting opportunity to talk with you
James M. Ward. Thanks very much.
From all of us over at Swords & Stitchery we really appreciate
 all that you do for the table top role playing hobby & for
Troll Lords over the years. 
If your a fan of the Metamorphis Alpha rpg then your going to want to