Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Mail Call - Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic Hardback By Matt Jarmak For Adventurer,Conqueror,King Rpg as well as Old School or OSR Game Systems

 "The ancient almanac of unusual magic, penned by the wizard-lord Aryxymaraki in the time before the Day Without Night, has been rediscovered…

Within the pages of Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic, you will find four new kinds of magic-user, each of which uses magic in new and exciting ways:

  • Dwarven earthforgers inherit an ancient tradition allowing them to draw on the spark of the divine found in all creation to power their magic.
  • Gnomish alchemists are experimenters whose concoctions range from ‘helpful and safe’ to ‘incredibly poisonous’.
  • Terran engineers are scientists and builders from another time, whose inventions and tinkering certainly appear magical to most non-technological societies.
  • Warlords draw on the chaotic energy of battle, taming it with their practiced tactics and leadership to ensure that their side wins.

These new classes are built for use with Autarch’s Heroic Fantasy Handbook, which provides rules for ceremonial and eldritch magic"

Its been forever since the 
Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic Hardback  By Matt Jarmak hardback was supposed to appear it seems. Then yesterday it materialized in our mailbox. Its so nice getting ACK's materials like this book because it blends so well with the Autarch’s Heroic Fantasy Handbook. In point fact its simply a PC extension book of that line. 

The hardback is a handsome volume printed in the US which is very unusual but the quality of the paper does set it off. And its the fact that there are  plans for this book that make it special. You can find a review of it over here that we've already done on the blog here

The layout is top notch the binding is solid, the whole cloth of the volume is perfect for the ACK's fanatic in me. This is also a perfect book to use with Troll Lords  Castles & Crusades. So the timing of this delivery couldn't be better. 

Given the recent material from James Mishler games Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic couldn't have come at a better time. So tonight its gonna be about cracking spines & getting to work on the campaign notes. There's some really interesting ideas happening. Is Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic worth getting?! Absolutely if your an ACK's fanatic like myself... 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

1d30 Random 'What's in The Adventurer's Sack' Table For Your Old School Campaigns


Often times adventurers have to leave the dungeon or ruins in a hurry. They leave behind loot, equipment, & other valuables. Those coming into the dungeon will often find the portables left in the wake of those who came before them. But not every sack has good things in it!

Left unattended for more then 80 rounds or so there is a 40% chance that dungeon  vermin such as rot grubs, green slime or worse will be around to investigate & perhaps infect the contents of an adventurer's container.
Larger monsters or humanoids will investigate sacks left around the dungeon & perhaps even leave them out as lures for other humanoids.

1d20 Random 'What's in The Adventurer's  Sack' Table
  1. An animated zombie ogre head with two diamonds for eyes. The thing gnashes its teeth together & will bite for 1d6 points of damage. But the eyes & earings are worth 100 gold pieces each. The thing has a flesh melting purple  gaze attack for 1d4 points on each eye that can move independently. 
  2. Sack filled with 30 copper pieces that will increase in weight as the copper pieces multiple  by 1d20 every seven rounds.
  3. A gold crown inset with twelve rubies worth 50 gold pieces because of the damage that its sustained. 
  4. The right hand of a hanged man that's been made into a hand of glory. Using this item is considered chaos magic. 
  5. Six hundred gold pieces with the names of sixty four angels stamped on them. They also bare a wizard's mark that can be traced over a hundred miles by a wizard with the appropriate spells. Their occult use is unknown. 
  6. A gold plate head of a kobold sealed with alchemy wax. The eyes of the thing still move & will follow the person holding it. Worth 60 gold pieces to a wizard. 
  7. A portable alchemist's lab in a wooden case but the case is half burnt up & the acids are missing. The alchemy books are intact making this a 20 gold piece item to the right buyer. 
  8. Three sacks full of very angry & aggressive gold bugs.
  9. A beating orc heart & a necromancer's scroll detailing how to summon the ghost of the thing. 'It knows where the treasure is', according to a note on the scroll. 
  10. The gold plated teeth of some noble worth 20 gold pieces. There is 30% chance they will animate & bite for 1d4 points of damage. 
  11. A solid iron dagger splashed with fairy & Elven blood that smells of urine & lilacs. 
  12. A strange bejeweled puzzle box that is worth 200 gold pieces to a wizard. There is an air of menace around it. 
  13. A solid gold ball worth 300 gold pieces to an alchemist 
  14. The head of a poet & a magic scroll containing three spells from the empire of the Necromancers. Worth together 100 gold pieces to a collector. 
  15. A small jeweled casket containing a weird jeweled amulet. There is demonic writing and symbols. The thing is worth 100 gold pieces as it stands with some occult research the true nature of this piece will make it very dire & dangerous to the owner. 
  16. Seven jeweled kobold eyes made from the reddest of rubies. The eyes will give the owner dark vision when held. They are worth 30 gold pieces per pair. The extra one gives the owner the ability to speak kobold when held. 
  17.  A pair of golden candle sticks that have forty two alchemy symbols carved into them. These can be lit to perform certain ritual & rites & so are worth 50 gold pieces each. But a demon & his henchmen are after them & so they will begin following the party who carries these. 
  18. A pair of Chinese vases worth 1000 gold pieces but their very fragile. The sack is a sack of protection & they won't break whist in the sack but don't tell that too the players.
  19. The carved jade head of a Deep One statue worth 100 gold pieces & there's also a treasure map to an underwater treasure in the thing's mouth. 
  20. A green glowing jeweled orb that radiates evil magic. It will come to life if someone utters the words 'Heavy Metal' carved on the fabric lined wooden case it sits in. The thing is priceless for some reason & cults of evil will kill for it.
  21. The head of a man with all of the orifices sewn up. The soul of the warrior has been trapped within it. The head will manifest a specter within 3 rounds.
  22. This sack contains 6 gold sovereigns with the images of the PC's etched into each one. They are otherwise unremarkable. 
  23. A +2 rolling pin made of marble with silver handles is in the sack counts as a club. Works very well against werewolves because of the silver dust that within the pattern of the marble. Worth 60 gold pieces. 
  24. A sack full of Mankins that will attack the adventurer opening the sack. There are six of these little bastards AC 4 , HD 3, Damage 1d6, 
  25. This sack is very heavy. There are two crystal balls that show the doom of the  NPC that originally found them. The balls belong to a night hag who will track down the new owner to murder them. They will act as standard crystal balls. 
  26. A sack of magic beans that will begin growing into magic bean stalks that will attack the person opening the bag. There is a small gold statue of a wizard at the bottom of the sack worth 100 gold pieces 
  27. There's a hand of glory at the bottom of this sack. 
  28. A copy of the Necronomicon bound in living human flesh and a dark wizard along with his cult after it. 
  29. 22 pieces of silver along with a wanted poster for some outlaw from Rome. 
  30. A rabbit with very long & dangerous fangs 5 hit points, AC2, Damage 1d8+1 just waiting for someone to open the sack. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Psychotronic Monster Movie Monday - 'I Come In Peace' Aka Dark Angel For Your OSR or Old School Games

Jack Caine (Dolph Lundgren) is a Houston vice cop who's forgotten the rule book. His self-appointed mission is to stop the drugs trade and the number one supplier Victor Manning. Whilst involved in an undercover operation to entrap Victor Manning, his partner gets killed, and a sinister newcomer enters the scene... Along with F.B.I. agent Lawrence Smith, the two investigate a spate of mysterious deaths.. "

Right at the back of my mind on this psychotronic  Monster movie Monday is a monster that's been running around my mind since the early Nineties. 'I Come In Peace aka Dark Angel' is a favorite sci fi rental from back in the days when I was a video store manager in a back alley video rental place in Boston. 

The hill giant like alien drug trafficker Talic can't be the only one of his alien intergalatic race to appear in a major city or urban area. These aliens have appeared a multiplicity of times across space & various periods of history. They are drawn to areas of conflict & vice for the harvesting of the drug "Barsi". These aliens use high technology to harvest endorphins from their victims brains, synthesizing them into a drug called "Barsi" to be used by addicts on his home planet. They are drawn to drug dens, places of vice, gladatorial games, place of war, sporting events, etc. all for the harvesting of these valuable endorphins. This is done through a blade like brain shunt that does 1d4 points of damage to the victim's cranium. 

Alien Drug Dealer aka The Endrophin Hunter 
Number Encountered:1 
Size: Large (7 1/2' to 8') 
Attacks: Weapon or Melee (Hill Giant Str)
Alignment:Chaotic Evil
Type: Humanoid 
Treasure Type: X or 4 
Xp: 80 +5 

These aliens are highly unpredictible & chaotic evil only with the harvesting of the the valuable commodity or drug upon their minds. They have several very dangerous weapon systems that they use for attack or defense purposes. The first of which is the 'magnetic disk of obliteration' made from high desnity alien alloy of magnetic properties this disk can do 1d6+2 points of damage to any five targets within range of the alien warrior. These are a fire & forget weapon with a range of twenty feet, the target getting a save vs wands or dodge roll to avoid the weapon. Any strong magnetic field or lode stone can distract the weapon's micro field magnetic targetting system. This weapon will continue to travel as long as a magnetic field generated by a living being is present. 

The second most common weapon system present upon one of these aliens is the 'Variable Gun' capable of firing muliple bursts only this weapon does 2d8+1 points of damage & has a range of forty yards.  This 'Variable Gun' has 10 burst shots within it's magazine. 

The third weapon system is the cybernetic tendril which is controlled by the alien's guantlet computer system. This weapon does 1d6 points of damage & is extremely strong capable of wrapping around a target's throat or directly attacking the head or chest area. Unless a dodge or save vs death is made, the tendril is capable of penatrating some soft metals. The tendril is used for making a penatrating hit on the victim's heart. An aphrodesic is then pumped into the victim who must save vs death or the victim becomes completely incapcitated. The cranial shunt is then used to penatrate the victim's brain & then raw "Barsi" is pumped into the alien's control metal gaunlet. 

There is some evidence to suggest that these aliens who fight as Hill Giants maybe only humanoid biological shells. They have both dark vision & have an uncanny ability to track their targets as rangers. They often pick a 'favorite' a victim to whom that they will taunt, track, stalk, for the added pleasure of creating a highly refined version of "Barsi". There is some evidence to suggest that  "Barsi" drugs allows them to leave their current plane of existence for a higher one. They have been known to completely wipe out a humanoid population for their endrophins to create this highly addictive cosmic drug. 
There are intergalatic  law enforcement agencies that track these alien criminals making it their life's mission to stop these agents of pure evil. Several members of this alien species even belong to it. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Review & Commentary On Baba Yaga's Miraculous Transformation By James Mishler, & Jodi Moran-Mishler From James Mishler Games For Labyrinth Lord & Many Old School or Retroclone Systems

 "This source booklet for Labyrinth Lord provides the method for magic-users to create a Miraculous Hut, in the same vein as the infamous crone-witch, Baba Yaga:

This source booklet provides the following details:

Baba Yaga’s Miraculous Transformation
Stage I Miraculous Hut: Dangerous Chicken
Stage II Miraculous Hut: Vicious Chicken
Stage III Miraculous Hut: Tiny Hut
Stage IV Miraculous Hut: Grand Hut
Extra-Dimensional Rooms, Connections, & Hallways
Stage V+ Miraculous Hut: Palatial Hut
The Heart of the Hut
Embedding Magical Features Through Spells
Magnificent Manor Variant
Stone Tower Variant

Note: The creation and improvement of a Miraculous Hut is a Chaotic and Evil Act! Not suitable for most player characters!"

A couple of days ago James Mishler,  & Jodi Moran-Mishler sent us a copy of Baba Yaga's Miraculous Transformation. This is one of those titles that clocks in at a whopping twenty four pages of Labyrinth Lord witchy goodness. This is not a book that's intended for PC's at all instead this is a book that's clearly intended for NPC of the Baba Yaga's witch tradition. This is an evil book without any doubt about it. Not in the Lamentations of the Flame Princess sense but it could clearly be used for that retrclone system. Let's clear up something right away, Baba Yaga's Miraculous Transformation isn't a copy of S5 The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga (2e). This is the book that creates the hut folks. That's right! 

Baba Yaga's Miraculous Transformation dives into the spells, rites, dark powers, & Hellish magick going on's behind the creation of a chicken legged house. And its rather nasty folks. The writing & lay out in Baba Yaga's Miraculous Transformation are well done. The intent is clear & crisp for the creation of a lair & the powers behind it for an NPC villain that can grow & change with the PC's as they level up or new heroes come along. Baba Yaga's Miraculous Transformation is well done & very dangerous as all Hell! This really is perfect for a Slavic mythological themed game or even a Ravenloft style game with little issue. 
You've got your spells, the evil bargains, the human sacrifice, & all of the styles that this style of horror comes in. So from Bovia throughout the realms of horror the player's PC's could be encountering variations of the Baba Yaga's Miraculous Transformation huts, mansions, stone towers,etc. 

But the view behind the screen that fuels this is rather nasty & this is also where Baba Yaga's Miraculous Transformation  giving options at the table top level for all kinds of bases & operations that these places of dark magic could be used. And its this fact that I can see using this book as an add on to a complete Castles & Crusades Codex Slavorum campaign setting possibly mixed with Ravenloft. That's how flexible Baba Yaga's Miraculous Transformation  is in my opinion. 

We can even see using this book with Tim Brannan's Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch for Basic Era Games to give a really nasty spin on a high level B/X witch NPC with little issue. And this could be spun into an on going NPC villain  for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

There is a ton to unpack & lots of unrealized gaming potential within 
Baba Yaga's Miraculous Transformation. This for me is a five outta of five because the Mishler's hit it out of the park with this one. Well done & very useful to the DM whose got a yen for this style of gaming. Baba Yaga's Miraculous Transformation fills that itch for me and its a very well done supplement. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

'Playing Out In The Rocks' Cepheus Engine Rpg Session Report Seven - Secrets of Mercury & Tricks of 'The Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky'

 Today's session was solid investigative work & picks up right where the last session left off. With the player's PC's getting the  'The Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky' into dry dock at the local station. Then it was a full going over the ship for alien life forms or worse. Trust me this was a straight up investigation from the ground up. 

Once aboard Allard Technologies section of the station, the party's hacker & cracker got to work on the ins & outs of the computer downloading what happened to the crew, Mercury mining secrets, & more. The party found not only some very valuable mineral data but an alien artifact! An ancient alien stargate on the dark side of Mercury. There was an extensive data list & dump from the ship. There's also alien remains below the surface of the planet Mercury. The crew it seems exited into the stargate 125 years ago before the psychic storms flared up. But to where?! 

The New England Buoys's hacker Hector called into an old favor to an A.I. friend of his name Apollo whose actually an organic computer made from cloned genuis fetal brain tissues. Apollo was created using Cepheus Engine rpg book Synethics from Zozer games. 

But that stargate really bothers the players in spades. There's something about it that doesn't seem to ring true for them. So their hacker Hector has put in a call to bring in a Synthetic belonging to Apollo to help the party with the exploration as Allard Technologies has put in a full claim to this section of Mercury. Allard Technologies has brought in Tiger security forces under the umbrella of security liasons. The shake down of the 'The Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky' mean resupply & full going over. There was quite a bit of wear & tear totaling about  120 million in damage which meant that Allard's corporate backer is stepping in. The players think that these could be a clutch of Ronin freelancers or veterans kicked out of a corp who have been bank rolling Allard. 

A bit of background on the star gate itself. The star gate isn't simply a stargate ala 2001 A Space Odyssey. Instead I went back to The Dragon magazine Dragon issue 27 released in July of 1979 with the article Tesseracts: A Traveller Artifact by Gary Jordon.  

This is artifact that's far more then it seems & very dangerous in its own right. This artifact comes straight outta of my uncle's 86 campaign of original Traveller that's being adapted to our current game. And there are eyes from afar watching with some dangerous interest at the events on Mercury. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Some Commentary On 'A New View on Dwarves' by Larry Smith From The Dragon Magazine, Issue 3 Single Issue Magazine - January 1, 1976 For Original Dungeons & Dragons


Last night The Dragon Magazine, Issue 3 Single Issue Magazine - January 1, 1976 leapt into my hands. And its because of the article 'A New View on Dwarves' by Larry Smith. It was something that Old School Rules had posted on MeWe that stuck with me, 'I love the storybook quality of the Rankin/Bass dwarves. We've allowed them to become miniature vikings with Scottish accents for too long...' 

 'A New View on Dwarves' by Larry Smith gives back in '76 a whole host of options with Dwarves as fighting men & other classes  in original Dungeons & Dragons; "Contrary to public opinion, Dwarves are not the poor fighters that many claim they are. In reading from Tolkein’s LotR, Gimli proved the fact that he was just as good a fighter as anyone else. In playing Dungeons and Dragons, Dwarves are given the role of keeping an eye out for traps and slanting passages. Fighting is placed into the secondary role. But what of the other things that dwarves could do? In D&D, little or no guideline is given for the dwarves ‘other’ uses. This article is here as an attempt to bring the dwarves once more into the proper perspective that they deserve" And  'A New View on Dwarves' by Larry Smith does a good job of bringing the Dwarves as PC's into their own especially as thieves. Yeah I can hear the moans now from the D&D cyclopedia crowd. 

 'A New View on Dwarves' by Larry Smith gives an interesting take on the Dwarves of original D&D with the following; Dwarves range in size from around four and a half to five feet  on height. They are broad shouldered, quite strong and deemed very hardy. loyalty and may never have a rating higher than 15. They reach maturity around the age of 50 and live to be about 250 years  There is nothing more a Dwarf likes than gold, jewels, and treasure. Except, of course, a cavern of great beauty.  . They have a great hate for Orcs and Goblins and dislike Elves to a great extent. Insulting Elves is a hobby to them, as is chopping the heads off of Orcs and Goblins. They have their own rough system of  honor and when an oath is given, it is never broken"

So not only do we get variations on traditional Original Dungeons & Dragons Dwarven PC's but an establishment of the traditional D&D mythological position of this demi human race. This is important because it establishes the Dwarven race in the niche that D&D players have seen for decades now.

Dwarven artwork by Rotox
In closing  'A New View on Dwarves' by Larry Smith is a great article to create variations of the original Dungeons & Dragons at the table top level. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Review & Commentary On Career: Nightstalker By Michael Brown For Cepheus Engine Rpg & other 2d6 Based Games

 "Within the boundaries of known space are countless tech levels, legends, rumors, and oddity. The majority of it is well understood. Other things aren't as well understood, but are on the frontiers of inquiry and bleeding-edge research. Still other phenomena are constantly subjected to discussion and unscientific analysis. But Out There are things stranger still. Things lurking in the shadows. Things that elude the best minds and the finest science. Things even the most rational citizens can only deem supernatural."

"When such strangeness manifests, it sometimes must be dealt with in some fashion. There is a group of people able to do so; trained to investigate, identify, and if necessary eliminate such supernatural threats. Such a group has been operating since the dawn of the interstellar government. They call themselves the Nightstalkers. The Nightstalkers – officially designated Scout Service Subsection X – are a special clandestine branch of the Scouts, charged with investigating events and objects that many would consider within the realm of the paranormal."

There are times when as a DM you read a science fiction or Pulpy science fantasy novel  & thought goes through your head,'You know there should have been a division of troops or scouts that handles that supernatural threat?!' And that's where Career: Nightstalker From Michael Brown comes in. These are the guys who bump back against the supernatural & the weird. You can easily contrast Michael Brown's style of game design against the polished & spit of someone like John  Watts or Paul Elliott. Mr. Brown's style is down & dirty in the trenches where the supernatural evil lays. And that's where you'll find Career: Nightstalker folks. Because when the supernatural hits the fan then you are going to want  Scout Service Subsection X  on your side. Career: Nightstalker clocks in at nine pages of career path goodness & for the 2d6 science fictional goodness of Cepheus Engine rpg its got all of the high marks. Career: Nightstalker is clear,concise, & does a fantastic job of getting you a PC whose going to excel at facing down the nasties in the darkness of space or planet side. 

Cepheus Engine rpg has any number of supernatural or occult style adventures lurking in the background.And if you want an example of this then let's talk about  Revels of the Damned which is exactly the sort of short burst adventure that will kick off a party of Career: Nightstalker investigations with little issue & be able to morph into a short mini campaign. Here the action shifts onto a whole cloth supernatural affair happening right under the noses of the local royals;"The Pleasure Festival is a time for fun, food, revelry, and no-holds-barred hedonism. Unfortunately for the PCs and the other visitors to the Pleasure Guild, it's also a time for an ancient evil to awaken and continue a mission begun millennia ago. The result is insanity, calamity, and visions of impending doom. Can the adventurers get to the bottom of the chaos and put a stop to it? Or will they also be forced to serve a seemingly-immortal malevolence?"

Revels of the Damned  has dangerous weirdness happening right at the ground level. Is this a job for the Scout Service Subsection X?! Oh Hell yes, in spades & its time to get busy tackling the dangers to the local instellar empire. Take Career: Nightstalker add in a bit of Cepheus Modern for your NPC's powers & stats then off you go on a supernatural Cepheus Engine fueled express ride to Hell! 

Career: Nightstalker From Michael Brown offers a no nonsense approach to a supernatural investigative branch for the Cepheus Engine rpg. But it could be used as a far future campaign add on career path for the Dark Conspiracy rpg as well! Scout Service Subsection X has to start someplace & deep within the bowels of the governments of a torn up Earth this is the perfect start point for this organization. And in point of fact Michael Brown's Cold War: Containment does exactly this offering a beginning point for a beginning campaign history for the Scout Service Subsection X. 

Career: Nightstalker From Michael Brown  bang home in nine pages what some games take ages to create. A nine page career path to get your player's PC's kicking supernatural ass in the darkness of space. Why? Because mankind is the warmest place to hide in the cold vacuum of space. 

Review & Commentary For Aryxymaraki's Almanac of Unusual Magic By Matt Jarmak For The Adventurer, Conqeuror, King Rpg & Your OSR Retroclones

 "The ancient almanac of unusual magic, penned by the wizard-lord Aryxymaraki in the time before the Day Without Night, has been rediscovered…" 

Within the pages of Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic, you will find four new kinds of magic-user, each of which uses magic in new and exciting ways:

  • Dwarven earthforgers inherit an ancient tradition allowing them to draw on the spark of the divine found in all creation to power their magic.
  • Gnomish alchemists are experimenters whose concoctions range from ‘helpful and safe’ to ‘incredibly poisonous’.
  • Terran engineers are scientists and builders from another time, whose inventions and tinkering certainly appear magical to most non-technological societies.
  • Warlords draw on the chaotic energy of battle, taming it with their practiced tactics and leadership to ensure that their side wins.

These new classes are built for use with Autarch’s Heroic Fantasy Handbook, which provides rules for ceremonial and eldritch magic. Because they use eldritch magic, the new spells (and tactics) described for the gnomish alchemist, the Terran engineer, and the warlord constitute more than one hundred new eldritch spells usable in any campaign that includes eldritch magic, even one that doesn’t include any of these new classes. Of course, it wouldn’t be an ACKS supplement without full builds for all of the classes and spells, and the source factors for gnostic magic, allowing you to build your own content to expand what’s in the Almanac"

Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic is one that I've been waiting for since the kickstarter reared its head a long while back. Clocking in a fifty six pages of ACK's goodness Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic  packs in the magical PC goodness for orienting magus towards the Heroic Fantasy Handbook.  

And like it Dwarven earthforgers are a welcome add on to Adventurer, Conqueror, King giving the Dwarven PC classes a much needed magical elemental boast. The class is well rounded & feels like it belongs in Dwarven hold deep beneath Greyhawk.

 Here's exactly the sort of flavor we're talking here;"
At first level, dwarven earth-forgers are able to learn and cast gnostic ceremonies in the runic tradition. Unlike other ceremonial spellcasters, dwarven earth-forgers know only one ceremony at first level, determined by their choice of sigil of creation (see below). The ceremonies available to dwarven earth-forgers are referred to as invocations. They may cast an invocation at any level equal to or less than the maximum level listed on their progression table, below, for their class level. The invocation will describe its effects at each level in its description. When they perform an invocation, they may choose which level to perform it at; they do not need to prepare it ahead of time" We get behind the scenes building of the class from the ground up. Then variarations & much more.  The Gnome Alchemist is another class that as player & DM that I really like ;"Gnomish Alchemy is a new subset of magic for ceremonial and eldritch magic. It is a kind of eldritch magic, and uses all of the same source factors and can theoretically access the full spell list. In addition, any spells designed for gnomish alchemy can be used by eldritch spellcasters without any change necessary (beyond determining their shade). Instead of its spells being categorized as Black, Grey, or White magic, they are categorized as Toxic, Tolerable, or Safe. Instead of risking Corruption when casting Black or Grey magic, they risk exposing themselves to Toxicity when using concoctions that are Toxic or Tolerable. And instead of comparing their Corruption to their Wisdom score, they compare their Toxicity to their Constitution score. Thanks to their distance from the magic, provided by their use of alchemy rather than direct ritual, they can blithely perform acts that would sear the soul of an ordinary eldritch caster. However, because their ingredients have difficulty doing things outside the physical, effects that are perfectly safe for ordinary eldritch casters may be among the most toxic for a gnomish alchemist." 
Simple easy, & straight forward.. And its a well done class but then we slide deeper into the Alchemy levels for the Gnome Alchemist we get deeply into their background, motives, class structure, & much more. 
And then we get into one of the primary villain NPC race's magicks  of my campaigns 'The Terrans'. And their traditions of Terran engineering; "
Like Gnomish Alchemy, Terran engineering is a new kind of ceremonial and eldritch magic. Terran engineers can easily do some things that are horrifying or dangerous for other eldritch spellcasters (including gnomish alchemists), but have difficulty with other things that might be simple for them. Instead of their spells being Black, Grey, or White, they are categorized as Hypothetical, Experimental, or Tested. Only Tested spells can be cast or learned safely! Even Experimental spells carry dangers with them, and Hypothetical spells, which truly test the boundaries of engineering, are even more dangerous. Like gnomish alchemists, Terran engineers do not gain Corruption in the normal way; instead, they gain intellectual apathy as they delve deeper past the frontiers of the science they know and learn the dark secrets of the universe. Their ability to resist this is based on their Intelligence score, rather than their Wisdom score." 
We get deep into the actual nuts & bolts of the alien technologies & dangerous sciences of the Terrans. And not all is wonderful with them. Take for example the spell Aversion Field; " 
Aversion Field Range: 0’ Terran Engineering 4 (Hypothetical), Duration: 9 turns Eldritch 4 (Black) By means of a supersonic noise above the level of human hearing, the caster can create a field that repels animals. The field affects a 480’ diameter sphere centered on the engineer when cast, though the field does not move after casting. The field lasts for nine turns. Animals and giant animals in the field when it is cast, or who attempt to enter the field for the duration must save vs Spell; on a failed saving throw, they flee in panic for 30 rounds. On a successful saving throw, the animal is not affected by the aversion field." Applied to the holdings of a Terran royal through his or her engineer a pattern of spells & operations for the Terrans emerges. And its not all rainbows & sunshine. This is a race whose spell casters have an agenda & its clear through out Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic that PC's better watch out. Finally we get a brand new class of magic in form of Warcraft; "The ebb and flow of combat…the dance between life and death. There is an art to war, to knowing when to step forward and when to fall back. When to take a chance, and when to cut your losses. And as with any art, there are masters of it. Those masters call their art warcraft. Is warcraft magic? There is power in it, and its secrets seem to be visible only to a talented few. Perhaps it is a matter of training and talent only. Perhaps there is magic in it, as there is magic in a sunset or in a baby’s first breath. There is a raw power available in combat, as primal forces surge to the fore while combatants strive for victory or death. Warcraft is the art of recognizing that power and of manipulating it through the actions of yourself and your allies. Practitioners of warcraft do not directly manipulate magic, and would not consider themselves spellcasters. They are strategists and tacticians, commanders and captains. By recognizing the flow of the battle (consciously or not), they can identify the perfect action to take at the time, and the effects of such perfect timing can be magnificent." 
Without a doubt Warcraft magi would be right at home in the field with the armies of Rome! Seriously this class is everything I was expecting & wanting from 
 Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic. This is a battle magi worth of ACK's warfare. A solid class of magus capable of pulling off some of the magicks to bring the war to the enemy in spades. This is a good solid class to add to party if their looking to profit & deal with warfare on a tactical or grand level. 
Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic be added to other OSR systems?! Easily in my opinion where Labyrinth Lord  & its subsystems are used. Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic is a good book to add into the mix to get the maxinum ulility out of your OSR systems. 

All in all I'm really glad that I backed Aryxymaraki’s Almanac of Unusual Magic it has just the right combination of OSR magicks & classes to make a worth while addition to a DM's tool box for Adventurer,Conqueror, King rpg. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Review & Commentary On Ad Astra From Michael Brown For The Cepheus Engine rpg

 "In the mid-21st century, the dream of faster-than-light travel was finally achieved. Suddenly the doorway to the stars was flung wide open. But the new frontier was colonized not as an organized, united effort -- it became a massive “land rush.” The Anisoi, debased descendants of a once-mighty empire laid low by a mysterious calamity, could only watch as the newcomers laid claim to stars they once strode like gods. Caravans, or “trains” of colony ships bring new inhabitants from Earth every year, but also bring the old afflictions of bigotry, greed, and xenophobia. Humanity’s future might not lie in whether worlds can be tamed, but whether human nature can."

Alright so all day has been spent preparing for the four to eight inches of snow that Connecticut has coming. Right now though I promised Michael Brown a review for Ad Astra campaign setting sourcebook  for the Cepheus Engine rpg  So by the spirit of the Great Bird of the Galaxy we're gonna get right into it. 
So what's with the weird back handed original Seventies sci fi reference to the show with the pointed eared alien science officer?  Well in twenty three pages  Ad Astra takes your Cepheus Engine rpg  campaign into space the final frontier. These are the voyages of a 2d6 star ship across the galaxy with a twist or two. 
There's just enough in twenty three pages to actually pull off a campaign but couple this book with some of other Cepheus Engine titles such as Alien Contact by Old School Rule Playing . And you are litterally off & running with Trek campaign powered by Cepheus Engine. 

Ad Astra literally hits all of the high points where it needs to with very clear rules, adds in just enough Cepheus Engine goodness and then takes the whole thing where it needs to go to start a campaign. Ad Astra  isn't complex. There's just enough under the hood to get the dylethemum crystals charged & the Trek campaign under way. The action here is solid & stats easy to bring into a beginning campaign. Everything works & works well. So could it be used with straight up Cepheus Engine rpg campaign material?! Yes it just a matter of catching the right players & then getting up to speed. 

Ad Astra  takes essentially the essence of Tr em Cepheus Engine  Star Trek & then makes it happen as a viable campaign option. Ad Astra  is a great pick up & go campaign option for those who want an evenings entertainment. Without the manure of full on sci fi campaign  for those who don't know their Clarke from their Asimov. Ad Astra can do anything from First Contact to something like a simple Sixties salt vampire encounter. 

Ad Astra is a great & easy price point setting & campaign book for the the Cepheus Engine rpg . Its a fun, reliable, & very well thoughout out book by Michael Brown.
For a 2d6 Trek option Ad Astra is a perfect pick up & go Trek option for a quick pick up game or a full on Cepheus Engine powered campaign. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Review & Commentary The Free Full Thrust: Project Continuum rules By John Tuffley Modified By Emerald Coast Skunk Works & Its Uses With Cepheus Engine rpg

"The  Tactical Starship Combat Rules!
Simple, fast-play rules that can be used with any size of starfleet! Basic rules of play can be learned in just a few minutes! No referring to charts or tables required during play!"

So with the wonderful weather that the Northeastern half of Connecticut is getting hit with. Over the weekend we printed out quite a bit of material for both Cepheus Engine rpg & Full Thrust: Project Continuum rules. These are a highly collected, edited, & expanded version of the Full Thrust  star ship wargame rules. Way back in '94 through '97 we used to travel over a hundred miles round trip to play test the Full Thrust  rules down at War & Pieces in West Hartford Ct. "Full Thrust is a science fiction strategy wargame written by Jon Tuffley and published by Ground Zero Games of England.", at least this is the wiki entry explanation on Full Thrust. But the truth is far more complex & interesting. 

Once a game was concluded between winners & losers then battles were recorded, losses calculated, etc. And then the fun began. These Full Thrust games became the basis for DM Steve or DM Charlie to have our group of PC  salvage experts to move in from original Traveller. And then pick the carcasses of the star ships clean. But intergalactic monsters often moved in to take on what was left behind. What Full Thrust: Project Continuum rules do is brought back the full on interstellar  scope of these games. We owe a huge debt to Emerald Coast Skunk Works - They have done a lot of work on updating and expanding Full Thrust.  Thank you immensely for keeping FT, the “best least-known space combat game”, alive with your expanded rules and ready-made scenarios. I need to get my ass in gear and scratchbuild a few fleets of minis and ship designs with my stacks of bits, and maybe add rules for a few extra systems. Add into this Full Thrust Skunkworks Scenario pack & you are ready to go. 

Full Thrust: Project Continuum rules take Full Thrust & bring it into the next level for space combat. What these rules do is make space combat on a huge scale workable, the game is done by fans for fans of Full Thrust, there is a huge Full Thrust community out in the internet that continues to produce & generate material for free and its solidly done. 

 There's even some Traveller rpg ship goodness for Full Thrust available right here. Full Thrust: Project Continuum is going to work very well for marrying up with Cepheus Engine Rpg for  next week's game. 

Traveller Rules For Full Thrust by Steve Parsonage: More rules to play FT in the universe of Marc Millers Traveller RPG. And with fantastic ships like those of Moon Toad Publishing  & Independence Games conversion isn't that hard at all. 
High quality solidly done ships flying cinematically within the shadow of giant fleets of space craft? Yes this is one of the things that makes 
Full Thrust: Project Continuum very appealing to both myself & the players. 

The Ship Book:Lune Class Freelancer
is a perfect example of an adventurer's ship that wouldn't be out of place dealing with the empires & fleets that we find within the Full Thrust: Project Continuum

Special Thanks To Ground Zero Games 

Review & Commentary On The Free Zozer Games Camp Cretaceous rpg & Campaign Setting Book By Paul Elliot

Player characters travel back into the Cretaceous period in this supplement for Cepheus Engine. There they carry out perilous missions in their attempts to study dinosaurs in their natural environment. A great game to play alongside young people and children. "

One of the free game setting supplements that I noticed on Zozer Games is Camp Cretaceous  a free setting book & 2d6 Cepheus Engine gaming system motor under the hood. This is a really good setting book for thos kids who are at that age where  dinoaurs are the greatest thing on the planet. Or their 'whatever age' something or better parents or grand parents looking to further their own Jurassic Park experience or prehistoric education. This is a fast play game which can be picked up right away. Everything here is well thoughtout by someone who knows their prehistoric history. For a free game & setting Camp Cretaceous  doesn't skip on the details, eventualities, factions, & of course dinosaurs. All of this comes in at an even one hundred & twenty pages. 
The one thing that stands out is that the author presents is his DMing & dealing with children players. There's extensive advice when it comes to dealing with everything from the table top level up. The 
 Late Cretaceous campaign setting is well done with all of the dinosaurs, history, ecology, etc.. Camp Cretaceous  is  done in such a fashion that it will serve as compelling game for both the seasoned rpger or a beginner. Camp Cretaceous  takes the setting material into the direction of exploration, discovery, & problem solving. The combat system is well done but not necessary for a whole cloth good time of play within  Camp Cretaceous 

Camp Cretaceous  is a perfect add on for an adult DM looking to expand their Cepheus Engine rpg game campaign into 'lost world or time travel campaign themes. There are several reasons why this works one of these the game works to create expediations. So there's a perfect ' in' for DM's looking to exploit a Cretaceous campaign setting.  For example with  Stellagama Publishing's These Stars Are Ours campaign setting. Camp Cretaceous  could be used as a supplement to agument a planet with a biological or ecological laboratory setting for the dinosaurs created by the Reticulans. 

This campaign adventure hook could be used for Zozer Games Hostile rpg with the xenomorphs using the dinosaurs as hosts. Perhaps even a combination of the two campaign ideas with the marines dodging dinosaurs & xenomorphs. 
Let's get back to  Camp Cretaceous . There are several reasons why this game works: 

  1. A lot of care & time went into the writing & creation Camp Cretaceous 
  2.  Camp Cretaceous  was done by a historian & technical writer who knows his subject matter. 
  3.  Camp Cretaceous  is a perfect game for introducing kids to rpging & actual history. 
  4. Great game for those who have the attention span for action but want problem solving within their rpg's.
  5. Dinosaurs! 
  6. Plenty of room for campaign expansion & add on's within  Camp Cretaceous 
  7. Plenty of DM ideas, hooks, & toybox stuff built into  Camp Cretaceous 
  8.  Camp Cretaceous  is a perfect game for an Athur Conan Doyle Lost World game campaign. 
  9. Nice to see a kid friendly game & setting book that's free. Camp Cretaceous  does an excellent job with that. 
  10. Just go download Camp Cretaceous  and have fun! 

Camp Cretaceous  is a five outta five in my book.