Monday, May 31, 2021

OSR Commentary - Dragon tree Press's Delos Campaign Setting & Veterans of the Supernatural Wars


One of the events that's happened over the weekend is myself & the gang of players  getting together for a beer. The biggest problem getting together has been playing around everyone's work schedule. Back in the day we did quite a bit of adventuring on the world of Delos. The shores of Delos border many pan dimensional realms . It's a place that borders Arduin, Narnia, Fairyland, Oz, and many other worlds. There is more of the touch of Faerie here. More on that in in a hot minute. Delos comes from the pens of Ben & Mary Ezzell.

From the Dragon Tree Home page : 
"Delos is a planet near neighbor to that best of all worlds which is Arduin®, and doth much traffic therewith. However the mana here is richer and more erratic, and the Theologian Newton describes it thus:
Here they need not store nor hoard their mana for it floats rich in the air for all, and nay they cannot hoard it for it slips and slides and sputters, all in and out of the Mage and the air and the ground and the Shadows. And here they cast and cast and there is no lack...and no grievous burden on the Mage to draw it neither. But as the mana slides about so often slide the spells and so they miscarry to the shame and sorrow of all....
American mages name this mana as 'Percentage and Fumble System'. The casters have aplenty to work with but tis like steering a ship in a storm or runaway horses, and caster's skill is all to turn it as he wishes and he fails to his woe.
Like Arduin®, Delos hath never built fireish machines but offtimes spaceships land here from the techno worlds and trade their goods or mayhap are robbed of them, and starrish beasties leave ship to roam in our woods. And here Multiversal can sell many strange goods from many strange worlds, but some they cannot sell because of the Prime Directive. And the rich living mana hereabouts offtimes sparks cross-Shadow making natural gates as those from England to Narnia, whence persons come through by mental inclining from many strange Shadow-worlds and times, by the strength of their hearts' desires."
The whole cloth idea of Amazon Mutual is that deceased adventurers bodies would be recovered for resurrection by various temples & organizations to bring the dead adventurers back to life. Adventures with or on Delos often crossed into the ' modern Earth' of our old original Dungeons & Dragons games which often involved Arduin. Delos was its own campaign setting back in the early 80's. The problem as DM Steve reminded me about tonight. The villian of our early adventure from '82 still exists. The undead  Pharoah Ka Su servant of Nyarlathotep wiped out our party! So the bastard is still out there & only two of our players were the lone survivors. This villian was a murderous stalker who would not rest until it gained its revenge. 
Flash forward to now with Veterans of the Supernatural Wars rpg that's now an ongoing campaign. Could Ka Su be behind the recent events within the on going Veterans of the Supernatural Wars campaign?! 

Can we get away with adding in these Dragon Tree Press & Adruin elements into an on going B/X Dungeons & Dragons campaigns that uses Veterans of the Supernatural Wars rpg. The fact is that variety may be the spice of life but OSR gaming thrives on consistence of play. Bottom line?! We'll have to see how this plays out in the coming months.One thing we did notice is what a genius David Hargrave's genius. Hargrave adapted so many weird tales style elemenets with Tolkien like high fantay within spiting distance of each other. Hargrave knew how to make all of these elements work together easily. That takes some incredible skill to pull this style of campaign off. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

OSR Commentary - Is The OSR Going Fringe Again?!


The number of bloggers who are now using Paetron to put content behind a pay wall is now staggering. The fact is that a number of major OSR publishers have been for a long while been offering fifth edition as an option is now main stream. There's a large number of former OSR writers who are doing solid content for fifth edition as a viable option. So has fifth edition D&D become the new main stream & the OSR become fringe again? The question is a viable one. What I'm I saying?! The hobby loop seems to be whipping around again. And with the rise of Fifth edition D&D. Original Dungeons & Dragons & B/X Dungeons & Dragons along with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons has been moved back to the back of the hobby's bus once again. This is fine with the majority of us DM's & players.
And yet even in Fifth edition D&D circles the majority of the players in my area fall back on the OSR titles?! Isn't that funny. Its almost as if the hold of fifth edition reminds one of the 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons era. Hmmm.. Now some have speculated that my own toe dipping has meant that I'd given up on the OSR. How foolish. But with speculation comes a thought. Has the OSR been banished back to the fringes of the hobby?! Are we as the OSR seeing a return to the outer edges of gaming?! Because I'd welcome it these days. The unlidded eye of fanatics isn't something that I for one have the patience for at all.

With so many cool OSR products, retroclones, etc. is it any wonder that the mainstream as fifth would look to us as fringe. Or is this simply the case of the balance resetting itself. Only time will tell fellow games as we live in a post Covid world these days.

The Alien Agenda & H.P. Lovecraft - - Cepheus Engine rpg & The Gerry Anderson Factor

 "These Great Old Ones...were not composed altogether of flesh and blood. They had shape...but that shape was not made of matter. When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to world through the sky.... When, after infinities of chaos, the first men came, the Great Old Ones spoke to the sensitive among them by molding their dreams; for only thus could Their language reach the fleshy minds of mammals.

H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu""

This blog post is going to pick up right where the last one left off with Hawks & Moons - Cepheus Engine rpg & The Gerry Anderson Factor.

When it comes to pulling off a Sevenies U.F.O.television series \style Chepheus Engine campaign. One of the keys to this is  Michael Brown's Omega 99 campaign setting.  Omega 99 offers a moon with some interesting alien neighbors in the form of  the Edari, the Kahgg, and the Mecharchs.  Some great ideas as well to get the polyester sci fi  goodness underway. 

What if the intent wasn't simply a cultclassic TV show but the idea that this was deadly serious busines along the lines of the 1972 film   'Silent Running. Earth's moon get's wrench out of the orbit by higher dimensional powers. The Earth is hit with wave after wave of ecological disasters. Earlier the humans sent the Discovery one on a publicity expediation after monolith was found on Earth's moon. What if this is the third or forth contact with alien life forms. So the events of '2001 A Space Odyssey' were part of a longer chain of events in human history. 

 The  United States spacecraft Discovery One is bound for Jupiter.. This is as much a publicity stunt as it is an expediationary mission to Jupiter.  The alien signal came from the moon's monolith.  For the most part humanity doesn't have a clue as to what changes  have been wrought to those who were subject to its influence?! 
The moon itself maybe ten or so years later is wrench from its orbit ala Space 1999. But if we assume that this is correct. Using the joint U.F.O. followed by '2001 A Space Odysssey' history , & then Space 1999. The wrap around  of Silent Running comes  hot on its heels. Then we've got a very Lovecraftian theme going on here indeed. So let's continue backwards to the Seventies for a moment or so. Let's say that in 1977 that humanity actually had contact with  aliens in ' Close Encounters of the Third Kind'. We have some idea who & what those aliens were. We may have no idea whom or what  those aliens served. The fact of the matter is that poor souls who left with the 1977 film's aliens are gone down a Lovecraftian rabbit hole. This is a view point that is even shared by other movie reviewers including the excellent 'The Scary Review Blog; "
And we have to ask, what exactly do these aliens really want? If they’ve been abducting people for generations, what do they want with the one man crazy enough to have made it to Devils Tower? If they’ve been taking people all willy-nilly since before WWII, or even longer, well…it goes to say they probably already have a clear understanding of human anatomy. And if they can insert images and thoughts into our minds, well… this begs the question, how much more of us do they really need to know? To me, it all seems like a subjective test. A greater intelligence than our own giving humanity the equivalent of a SAT exam"

Apollo 16, 1972. Unofficial picture from the Fox William Mulder archives provide by Andrea Bonazzi

In Deuce of Clubs website's other fantastic little article titled 'Spacecraft or Lovecraft' he goes into the following; "An intriguing hypothesis has been suggested by Jacques Vallee, the real-life model for the character of the French scientist in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and author of many books on the UFO phenomenon, such as Dimensions and Messengers of Deception. Vallee does not share Steven Spielberg's trusting view of the visitors, whom he believes are probably not visitors at all. Vallee has made a history-spanning study of stories of supernatural contact—Greco-Roman tales of sky chariots, Celtic stories of elves and fairies abducting children and mutilating animals, Joseph Smith's alleged heavenly visions, and apparitions of the Virgin Mary—and found that such experiences closely parallel the experiences of UFO contactees. It seems that the phenomenon currently known as the contactee experience is almost coeval with human culture. "UFOs have been seen throughout history and have consistently received (or provided) their own explanation within the framework of each culture," Vallee says. Stories of these visitors conform to the prevailing mythology or beliefs; the visitors become whatever we want them to be and tell us whatever we want to hear. Modern mythology having shifted from the magical to the scientific, it's only logical that popular culture now attributes such phenomena to scientifically advanced beings from space."
Could the events of 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' have jump started the world of U.F.O.?! If these aliens were abducting humans since the beginning of time. And just before they go on their cosmic joy ride with the sciencetific  expermental anim ermm contactees. They warn the international monkey governments  about these other 'bad' aliens coming to harvest blood, organs, bodies, etc. 

Now at the events at Devil's Tower 
Col. Edward Straker, is a lowly witness to lightshow & what not of 'Close Encounters'. He has time to think about these events. And becomes a part of an international  task force that mobilizes to move humanity's technologies ahead. He moves a head with the investments

of Harlington-Straker Film Studios. But deep down he knows of the cosmic danger that these alien forces represent. 
Now this moves the space programs of this alternative Earth ahead at warp speed. The space borne coolness of Orbital 2100 is in full effect. Humanity has the beginnings of FTL drives but they won't be ready for another 10 or so years. Then the other U.F.O.'s begin showing up. The UFO cults begin to flourish as well. Nasty little cells of proto occult terrorist cells serving powers beyond the ken of mankind show up. And terrorist actions such as mass bombings, etc. start to happen. Could all of this actually tie back into Professor Quatarmass & the 
The Quatermass Conclusion?! 

If we move forward with the idea that these events propel Earth's technologies forward. And could help explain the hard line governmental stance of anything alien. If you think about it who can blame humanity at that point?! These alien forces have been showing up & taking humans for their own agendas. 
And this something that we can use 
Attack Squadron Rosewell  for. A wide variety of alien craft & weirdness for the players to contend with. 

From here the big factor is the Earth's Moon & establishing a base there in 1980. The key here is the moon's military importance. Humanity by 1980 is wiped & wary, so existence of this moon base would be kept utterly secret. Again here its Orbital 2100 that is key to creating such an adventure location. 

Humanity by the time its reached the Reticulian Empire of  'These Stars Are Ours' has utterly had it with alien influences. So that explains a bit of the flexing of the military might on humanity's part. The Fall of Mankind back down into Sol isn't hard to see. Hostile in my campaigns is Sevenities Sci fi humanity reaching for the stars again. 

Note that the use of these videos are the subject to their copyright & trademark holders. This blog entry is for a personal rpg table top campaign & for educational purposes. This is not an attempt to violate the trade mark or copy rights of such holders. The above mentioned rpg authors are not responsible for the contents of this blog or its writer. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Mythos Mail Call - Campaigns, Cthulhu, & Ancient Rome?!

Now we've talked about grabbing some of the rarer rpg books that have come out since 2018. And since our group is now going to focus on running an Amazing Adventures Fifth edition campaign for a change up. 

 So we decided to get down & dirty with a bit of that old Call of Cthulhu goodness. But with an OSR twist or two. Cthulhu Invictus by Golden Goblin Press  is for Seventh edition Call of Cthulhu & it is glorious! But but you've already got 43 AD  from Zozer Games by Paul Elloit?! Yes, we do & its the superior game in almost all ways. Because its focus is on both historical & cinematic Celtic & Roman period historical influences. 

Cthulhu Invictus by Golden Goblin Press is focused solely on fighting the Cthulhu mythos within the Roman Empire. The game adapts quite nicely all of the focus within this unto itself. And the book is printed in the United States not China like Chaosium books are. And in good conscious can not condone the multiple human rights violations of China. Nor ignore the stance of CCP's stance on Hong Kong where family of ours  resides. So while we  own several Chaosium CoC books our group's  stance is firm. This is about as political as this blog entry gets. Anyhow frequently DM Paul & co. have been bothering me about running Jason Vey's Amazing Adventures rpg. Now this isn't fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons at all. So shelve half of the preconceptions of that game. 
This is going to be an out and out supernatural or occult ho down with both New England & Mythos overtones. This is something that we started with Veterans of the Supernatural Wars Rpg by Elf Lord Games. But the focus within that Mythos campaign  is in a completely different direction. Then this campaign. The second book we grabbed is pure OSR And that's The  Worlds Without Number rpg.  That's a whole separate blog entry unto itself coming up. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Hawks & Moons - Cepheus Engine rpg & The Gerry Anderson Factor

Does Earth's moon hold far more secrets then humanity understood?! Even as it was blasted from Earth's solar system in 1999?! 

Apollo 16, 1972. Unofficial picture from the Fox William Mulder archives provide by Andrea Bonazzi

Two days ago Paul Elliot of Zozer games came out with a really cool little comment in the Cepheus Engine Face book group; " You could combine Orbital 2100 with Hostile, swapping the Alien-style ships in Hostile for the 2100 centrifuge ships, just add a hyperdrive from Hostile.... Both are Cepheus Engine Zozer Games "  
Now this got me thinking about Hostile which according to Paul ;"
In a way my later setting HOSTILE is the Orbital setting, 125 years later ... but with the caveat of hyperspace and anti-gravity." 

So does this mean that in the one hundred & twenty five years every small mom & pop adventurer start up is going to be able to afford the high end space craft of Hostile?! Hell no. They'll be relying on the hyperdrives to get them into the wild black of interstellar outer space. And this is where Orbital 2100 comes into play.

 This is one of the points of this is that mom & pop surveyors & prospectors are going to be using much of the equipment still found in Orbital 2100. Why not simply use Explorers & call it a day?! Space & especially interstellar space is mind bogglingly huge. This means that in some regions of space 125 year old technology is still the norm. Explorers is the upper end of the field for my Hostile/Cepheus Engine rpg campaign.  
But there's another reason all together and that's the Gerry Anderson factor. Orbital 2100 also offers the DM the ability to run a U.F.O. Seventies  TV style add on to the campaign. But how could you pull this off?! Easily with Michael Brown's Omega 99 campaign setting.  Omega 99 offers a moon with some interesting alien neighbors in the form of  the Edari, the Kahgg, and the Mecharchs.  Some great ideas as well to get the polyester sci fi  goodness underway. 

Since my wife & I were kids we've loved Gerry Anderson's  Seventies television show  U.F.O. but man this show could use an overhaul & it got one as the first season of Space 1999. But U.F.O. is still a favorite among fans. 

But what does this have to do with Hostile & Orbital 2100?! Everything as we see in the Space 1999 first season episode 'Wargames' which introduced the iconic Hawk IX  to the space craft line up. The Hawk would later appear in Starlog magazine issue 32 March 1980. Which had the Hawk as an unofficial space craft  link up between Moonbase Alpha beginnings & the Hawk space craft  defense program as a defense against the aliens of U.F.O. You can go to the Space 1999 catacombs here to read all about from the pages of Starlog. 

MPC's Hawk mark IX model that was available in Walmart. 

Not only can the Hawk program be done in Orbital 2100 but by using Attack Squadron Rosewell you & your players get the full on effect of sky borne action in an alternative Earth 1980. Orbital 2100 is the perfect space craft bed to design the Hawk program from. 

Why not just use 'The Stars Are Ours' as the campaign basis?! 
Well what if I total you that these aliens were just as much to a menace to the the Reticulan Empire as to the humans. And the reason is the humans. Human bodies & organs are being harvested by the aliens. The Reticulan's humans in TSAO  are simply another bell bottom  obstacle to be removed to the aliens of this campaign. The aliens of U.F.O. are particularly Lovecraftian in a sense. The aliens are actually a combination of the abductees who have been modified to hold the alien's life  essence with organ transplants. And originals who are trying to survive against a really nasty ecological disaster on their home planet. 
Details on these aliens & their craft as follows.. 

Note that the use of these videos are the subject to their copyright & trademark holders. This blog entry is for a personal rpg table top campaign & for educational purposes. This is not an attempt to violate the trade mark or copy rights of such holders. The above mentioned rpg authors are not responsible for the contents of this blog or its writer. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

OSR Review & Commentary On World at Weird War II By Nicolas Kaczmarczyk From Cartridge Games For The Cepheus Quantum rpg systems

…We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…"

Winston Churchill

"Take the role of brave soldier, mysterious occultist, internally focused psionics or ingenious gadgeteer and fight dark menace of Axis with its dark secrets and experiments." 

So over the course of the last two weeks there's been one or two Quantum Engine products that have been teased. One of these hit all of the high notes for me & that's World at Weird War II By Nicolas Kaczmarczyk.  This is a high end beer & pretzels World War II game with an occult & weird war bent. The World at Weird War II  game that works on the Quantum Engine convention; "The Quantum Engine uses common six-sided dice. We note each die you need to roll as a “D”. For example, “2D” means “roll two six-sided dice and add the results together”. In this game, “DM” means Dice Modifier, a number you add or subtract from a dice roll. For example, “2D, DM-2” means “roll two dice, add the results together, and then subtract 2 from the total”. This is often written as “2D-2”. The amount by which your total throw exceeds or misses the target number is called the Effect. If you roll a total of 11 on 8+ throw, your Effect is 11 – 8 = 3; alternately, if you throw a 4, your Effect is 4 – 8 = -4. D66 is a special die roll, in which you throw two dice, and count one as the “ones” and one as the “tens”." So that's it. From there the engine is hung with a bunch of the high end WWII conventions & the author knows how to bring in the weirdness. This is a solid system to hang the weirdness & war driven occult themes of the game. And it does it well. 
Highlights for 
World at Weird War II  include: 
  • The mass combat rules & how the game handles the mass battle scenes. 
  • The cinematic feel of the rpg & the war film aesthetic
  •  World at Weird War II makes its occult, super science, & even its paranormal skills unique & not repetitive.  
  • There's just enough to get the players & the DM started! 
  • And there's tanks & mecha thrown into the mix as well! 
World at Weird War II   does in fifty two pages what most games of this type take hours of slogging through. This is a weird war primer rpg game & its easily combined with the other Quantum Engine rpg systems on the Cepheus Engine rpg market. 
There's various cinematic nods & easier eggs scattered throughout World at Weird War II  for the veteran cinephiles out there. Is this a good game?!
 Hell yes & is it perfectly suited for the Cepheus Engine rpg fanatics out there?! Yes it is! And the price at four dollars hits the sweet spot! You can play as the Allies or the Germans and have an alternative historical outcome all in one go! All in all highly recommended! 

Rite of the Faceless Queen For Sword of Cepheus, World of Weird War II & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg

The rites of calling down the Mi Go have come down to us through age after age going back to before the first Ice Age. But in 1941 the Nazi expediation to the plateau of Leng called up something unexpected & soul destorying. 
Blood, music, & sanity shattering mathematics allows the fungus to sense the ultra tellerite vibrations of the caster. The secrets of these dark sciences came from the mind of the gifted Italian occultist & archeologist Dr.Bonazzi. After his ground breaking work with the Nazi expeditions to the plateau of Leng in 1941. By this time  Dr.Bonazzi was in deep contact with Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr. & top men within the U.S. state department. Now everyone knows the sticky end Bonazzi came to after World War II after being smuggled to the U.S. during operation paperclip. Using the music of Prin's last opera the Nazi called up something unexpected in 1941. 


Artwork by Mr.Bonazzi used without permission. Don't forget to visit his incredible blog here. Mr.Bonazzi & I have been friends since D20 Call of Cthulhu release ages ago. 

“Ahnenerbe arch√§ologische Grabungen, 1941”.

Unidentified site, picture from the personal archives of Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr.

The Nazi working with Dr.Bonazzi  along with his translations of the Leng Hisi monoliths called down the Mi Go. But something imical  came with them. Something called the Faceless Queen appeared with the Mi Go.  She ate three of the Nazi officers as payment for summoning it. 

Rite & Summoning of  Faceless Queen 
Circle: 8th (Black)
Range:75 Meters 
Duration: Special 

The summoner offers a small amount of human brain matter in a degenerae circle of communing  & uses an alien  tune from ancient MU recorded by Prim in the 1600's. Upon a flute made from the femur of an Ice Age unicorn this tune must be played while concentrating on the sigils found on the faceless queen's monolith. Within 3 rounds the spaces in between reality will shift & the faceless queen will itself will  appear demanding two brains of Deep Ones as payment for summons. The queen will be accompanied by two Pretornian Mi Go warriors capable of carrying out her unholy will. If the offering is not made the queen will carry off two humans present as payment. Time will seem to slow down as seconds stretch into hours. 

It will instruct the summoner in the ways of the spaces in between allowing the summoner to teleport from place to place. The effect also allows the summoner to seemingly slow down the aging process. But the poor fool is actual caught between moments outside of time & space. This means that they are actually vulnerable to any pan dimensional entities & horrors without the proper protections. Not to mention subject to the weird radiations of the spaces inbetween. See the fate of  Hans Greubal coming up 

Rite of Faceless Queen 
Casting Time:3 hours the caster must play the compositions of Prin while visualizing the Mi Go sigils  
Material Component: A bit of human brain matter & two Deep One brains as offerings  for the queen. 
Casting Location: Plateau of Leng 
The Queen will appear before the summoner  with her Pretorian Mi Go guards 1d4 of them. It will instantly slow time around the caster. The queen will then teach the caster the abilities of the 'Spaces In Between' allowing the caster to teleport without error. This will cost the fool 2 permenant points of wisdom as sanity shattering visas of reality are lit into the caster's mind. A save vs wands will counter this but the save must be made again. The caster will gain 2 points of constitution & will not age normally their life space is now 1d200 years. But they are vulnerable to all kinds of pan dimensional horrors such as dimensional shamblers! 

World of Weird War II  is available right here & we've got a review coming up on this blog! 

Rite of the Star Spider For Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg

The tablets of the space spiders are found scattered across the plateau of Leng. These seven to eight foot high tablets are scattered across the plateau of Leng on Hyperborea.These tablets allow sorcerers of the nineth circle of darkness to summon a star spider from the depths of the Outer Darkness. The star spider will open a gateway near the summoner & eat the nearest person to it as a sacrifice. 

“Wehrmacht soldiers, 1941”.
Unidentified site, picture from the personal archives of Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr.
Artwork used without permssion.
The creation of  the artist  Andrea Bonazzi. Go check out his blog its awesome

The Bonazzi key is needed to access communication with the lower dimensional star spider plane. Communicatino consists of a telepathic two way communicatinon with the star spider entities. And only the most basic feelings can be communicated. Anything else & the summoner risks a save vs wands as the black wizard goes insane from the alien thoughts that overwhelm the fool's mind. Those star spiders that do manage to commune with thier summoners. These monsters  often strike bargains around the murder of specific prey. They can follow their victims across time & space hunting them to the ends of the planes. 

The star spider rituals consist of sacifices of the sumoner's blood, cast a shard of green obsidan while the summoner visualizes the poor victim to be killed. The star spider will open a door in higher dimensional reality allowing it to track the victim no matter where they go. 

Needless to say that this rite  of summoning is an act of the most choatic & dangerous an act that a black magus can make. There are no guarantees that the star spider will not eat the foolish summoner. 
Rite of the Star Spider 

Casting Time:3 hours the caster must chant the songs of 
Material Component: A Pint of the Caster's Blood Splashed Across Tablet
Casting Location: Plateau of Leng 
Caster must have a clay copy of the Bonazzi tablet granted to them by temple of Azathoth. A piece of green obsidan is to be used in the rite to visualize the monster's victim in summoner's mind.
The alien life form will depart to seek out its victim instantly! 
The caster loses 4 points of temporary wisdom & goes catatonic for 1d6 days  from the contact with such an alien mind. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Back Issue Affairs - Amazing Adventures Fifth Editions & Levi Combs has his Tomb of the Mummy Bride Kickstarter

 So anyone who actually knows our group understands that there's a ton of history & water under the bridge when it comes to the local gaming scene. In my home town  the Brass Dragon hobby shop was on the scene in the late 90's. Before this my uncle Jack's place a haven for geeks, nerds, & everyone inbetween. Back in '89 we needed a pick game in the Summer. Half of our group was going off to the YMCA  Summer camp & the other half got left between behind. All ten of us, that's right ten kids of various ages were split. So out came battered set of Worlds of Wonder from Chaosium. We jumped at the chance to do a  mini campaign that Summer &  everyone was mutant crazy. We already had a jumping Marvel Super Heroes rpg campaign  happening.Because everyone went to camp that was shelved.
That campaign has been written about multiple times on this blog. But instead we found ourselves as mutants thrust into the 1920's & confronting the Cthulhu mythos head on! All five us made PC's!  And the twist up because uncle Jack was a historian as well was that this campaign took place in the 1920's. 
White Dwarf issue #97 Jan 1988 was a huge deciding factor in our table top rpg time! We got ourselves embroiled in Graeme Davis's 'Trilogy of Terror' - three short scenarios: 'The Book', 'The Seance',  and 'A Capital Offence'. 

These unrelated  scenarios take place in the 1920's U.K. & my uncle being the bastard DM he was interlinked them. Even with super powers we died  saving a medium from the coils of Nyarlathotep. A hunting horror finished every last one of our heroes off in 70's style. This particular issue of White Dwarf was one of the last before Games Workshop switched over to making the magazine nothing more then a complete house organ. Even though we saved the medium, her family was under a curse from Nyarlathotep. There are several unresolved issues that got left behind. 
Flash foward till now & DM Paul is on my behind about wanting to play a mini  game campaign of Amazing Adventures fifth edition by Jason Vey. Why?! Because Levi Combs has his Tomb of the Mummy Bride Kickstarter going?! Oh Hell no! This would be an instant TPK. And the players don't even know the system yet. 

Now in no way, shape, or form are these players going to be ready to confront the infamous Mummy Bride! There's also going to be some restriction straight outta of the gate for this mini campaign coming up:
  1. All adventurers are going to be human
  2. Alignment is going to be in full effect  & this includes pacts or dark bargains 
  3. We've some unresolved business in England first before any confrontation 
  4. The campaign takes place between (Nov. 1965 – Nov. 1969), there are reasons for this that will become clear later on! 
  5. Backgrounds for the PC's will be filled in through actual play. The PC will have brief outline for thier background and that's it. 
  6. PC death is dead unless a side quest for resurrection is done. And all horror movie consquences for such side ventures are in full effect. 
  7. The Mythos are in full effect. 
  8. DM's rulings are final! 
  9. All Appendix literature is on the table for inspiration 
  10. TPK can & may happen! No tears please its a waste of good character sheets! 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

OSR Commentary & Review On Zozer Games 43AD - Roleplaying in Roman Occupied Britain Part II


When it comes to the supernatural  43AD - Roleplaying in Roman Occupied Britain doesn't skimp. But instead presents a very different world to our own. This is a world where history & magick collide on three fronts. The Celtic, the Roman Empire, & the day to day lives of the Britanians who lived with both both of these powers. And also lived with the power of magick. And die by it! We have a full array of the dark forces on both the Roman & the Celtic sides Black Druids, Skinchangers, the Flayed Man, the Headless Killer, Fomorians, the undead Cauldron-Born, Face Feeders, and individuals such as Longinus (the Undead Centurion, the one who was present at Jesus' crucifixion), Scathach the Witch, and the Old Crone of Aberros all make their presence known. These entities filter through a 2d6  system that on the surface resembles the traditional Cepheus Engine & its deriatives is unique because of its legacy through the Zenobia rpg.. 

This is because the occult & supernatural existed side by side with the gods for both the Romans & Celtic. But these powers didn't play favorites!  The  
Black Druids, Skinchangers, the Flayed Man, the Headless Killer, Fomorians, & many others will take any PC they can for sacifice or worse. History reflects the source & times, the history is bloody & high handed with PC's getting the worst of it. Glorious!  If you want to check out what we're talking about here?! Go to Zozer games & download Zenobia's free materials today! 

Note that A.D. 43 takes a vastly different take on the Cepheus Engine & does so with its own brand of style. Yes the systems are similar. But their different in two areas, application & principal. A.D. We're  talking about 
the way armour work in this game, plus the  the system for advancement, the easy  way that  the game handles the importance of advantages, & how magic is powered within it. All in All I think 43AD - Roleplaying in Roman Occupied Britain  is a solid game in the Zozer Games line & a fine addition to any DM used to both the Cepheus Engine rpg & its lines. Paul Elliot does an incredible job with this game! Highly recommended! 

OSR Commentary - Defining parameters of Dave Hargrave's Arduin'a Play

 Its been a very busy day today & there hasn't been a ton of time for hobby related stuff until late this afternoon. But talking over Arduin rpg this afternoon with some friends has been interesting to say the least. There's three things that have always appealed to some folks about Arduin. The scope of Arduin as a setting isn't actually all that big. So DM's can scale the adventures to the player's PC's. The fact that power attracts power means that your character is gonna be at the center of the action. Consider the fact that monsters are going to try to eat your face but because of Nexus Gates you could potentially encounter anything. 
  The fact that much of Hargrave's material could be plugged into many of the Seventies &  Eighties Judge's Guild adventures was or is  a huge plus. 

Was the choice to dive into the Dave Hargrave world Arduin worth the price of admission?! To a certain extent the answer is yes. Why?! Because the fact is that any band of adventurers if they survived the uncertainties of life & limb on Arduin can & will come into their own. 
Using a combination of Judges Guild & Arduin material with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition a group of players could potentially end up as royals after a few years of play. This goes back to something that a bunch of us with my uncle's gaming group had noticed. 

Arduin is built to have stuff happening to the player's PC's  with all of its random tables, races, and what not so that campaign play happens. No we're  not talking about 'wild & crazy' events here. We're talking about the type of play that promotes organized domain play of the Arduin variety. As has been said elsewhere on this blog. Dave Hargrave was ahead of the curve of 'fashion' of rpg's by decades. And even with say out saying it. Arduin was created by Dave for the players to make it their own. Even more so then say Greyhawk or other canned world campaign settings. Its this customization through play that's a part of the Arduin legacy. Each DM's Arduin is going to more then slightly different then the others across planet Earth. That's all well & good. Campaign worlds need to be defined not through books of campaign setting lore but through actual table top action & decisions. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

OSR Observations of Dave Hargrave - Just Some Thoughts & Commentaries On The Man

 It two thirty in the morning and I'm finally home from what seems like a very long day. My Arduin books are cracked around me. There's still thoughts in my head about rereading 'The In The Cities' wordpress that hasn't been updated since 2014.. But the author hits the high points about Dave Hargrave & Arduin quite nicely; "Hargrave was definitely not a “frustrated novelist.” Like the best of the OSR people he manages to convey a lot with very little. His brief descriptions of the “Shadowlands” (in the eponymous supplement VII) could serve as a model of how to write great game material. It’s less than two tiny pages long – just a few paragraphs really – but I read it and thought: “This could take years and years to flesh out and play.” How many writers can provide so much inspiration in such a short space?" 

There's something about Hargrave's  writing & design work that seems raw in places, polished in others, & comes across as genuine. Believe me Dave Hargrave for me isn't up on a pedastal far from it.
 He was a figure that controversy followed & this is even reflected on his wiki entry; "While Hargrave was considered one of the best Gamemasters, he was also known for having a somewhat volatile personality. The original role-playing community at large was split between love and mere tolerance of Hargrave's passions (his falling-out with Greg Stafford, which resulted in Hargrave naming a spell after him as revenge, is one such example" 
Dave Hargrave was a product of 
 the Vietnam War for six years & many of the guys that over the years I've gamed with were as well. This war shaped his health throughout the rest of his life after serving as a combat photographer. And this was right in the front line of fire during 
the Vietnam War. I think that the mind set of Mr.Hargrave was one of many vets who came back state side.This includes my uncle & my own father. The war let these veterans down in many ways & its reflective in the hand that many of these gentlemen were dealt. Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, & David Hargrave along with  many others were brilliant writers & designers. Men whose names appeared on the inside covers of the books that we played with. But as I've gotten older these were brilliant but flawed men. Flawed men & women like so many of us. The sort of dedication that it takes to pump book after book out is no small feat. Dave Hargrave continued to write right until the end of his life. There's no Dave Hargrave week for me. Because there's really never really a week that goes by that at some point the Arduin Grimoire isn't in my hands. That's no small feat for a designer whose passed in Eighty Eight. But whose works continue to inspire generations of dungeon masters, players, & rpg table top designers. Was Dave Hargrave perfect? No but he was brilliant with a vivid imagination way ahead of the curve with regards to what we call the OSR these days. Had he been alive now I have no doubt in my mind that Dave Hargrave would be a corner stone of the OSR as publisher & designer today. 

OSR Lovecraftian Commentary - Eldritch Tales: Lovecraftian White Box Role-Playing & Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh Series by Dave J. Browne with Don Turnbull.

 So while we've been very busy lately, I've had a chance to catch up on some downtime stuff. Now most folks think somehow that I've, 'abandoned the OSR' or some other such nonsense. Why?! Because well really because we've been expanding & speaking about other game systems & other adventures. Case in point digging through my Call of Cthulhu rpg collection and reworking it for the  Cepheus Engine rpg . And this brings thing around again to the OSR. And in particular Eldritch Tales: Lovecraftian White Box By Raven God Games.  
And how to quickly get started on a mini campaign. 

Now it doesn't take a genius to see that its pretty easy to take any number of the Frog God Game modules & adventures or Swords & Wizardry's adventures. Strip them down & use them in a modernish campaign setting. It doesn't take a genius DM to take an adventure like 'The Black Spot' by Gary McBride & use it with Eldritch Tales: Lovecraftian White Box By Raven God Games

"The first mate drew his blade and formed up what was left of the crew. They steeled their courage and waited for whatever nightmare gave birth to the horrid noises below deck to emerge topside. When the creatures finally ventured into the moonlight, the men’s courage broke. They had never seen such otherworldly monstrosities.

The creatures ripped into their faltering ranks and slaughter reigned.

A young but literate sailor named Titus was clever enough to flee…"

The PC's catch up with Titus & things kick off from there! They get drawn into the tightening web of Weird Tales inspired danger & weirdness. 

But if you really want to up the Lovecraftian OSR  factor?! Then my suggestion is to tie back into the U1 series of Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh Series by Dave J. Browne with Don Turnbull. Why?! Because it ties the dealings of the Alchemist into the horrors of Gary McBride's adventures horrors. 

The alchemist isn't a cover but he's been reduced back down to his essential salts by someone or something that rivals him. There's far more going on aboard the 'Sea Ghost' then at first glance. And the Deep Ones have a vested interest in the goings on within that 'haunted house' then at first it seems. These adventures could easily be converted over into the 19th Century & most if not all of the adventures elements can go from here. Cut way back on the magic items ala what's said here & go from there! But we've got more coming up soon. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

OSR Commentary - When The Hills Ran Wild - With William J Barton's 'The Killer Out of Space ' Adventure - H.P Lovecraft, Cepheus Engine, Cthulhu Now, & Call of Cthulhu

 "WEST of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentler slopes there are farms, ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally over old New England secrets in the lee of great ledges; but these are all vacant now, the wide chimneys crumbling and the shingled sides bulging perilously beneath low gambrel roofs."

"The old folk have gone away, and foreigners do not like to live there. French-Canadians have tried it, Italians have tried it, and the Poles have come and departed. It is not because of anything that can be seen or heard or handled, but because of something that is imagined. The place is not good for imagination, and does not bring restful dreams at night. It must be this which keeps the foreigners away, for old Ammi Pierce has never told them of anything he recalls from the strange days. Ammi, whose head has been a little queer for years, is the only one who still remains, or who ever talks of the strange days; and he dares to do this because his house is so near the open fields and the travelled roads around Arkham."

HP Lovecraft's  'The Colour Out of Space' 

Amazing Stories, vol. 2, no. 6  (September 1927)  edited by Hugo Gernsback
The Colour Out of Space by H. P. Lovecraft

The key to this blog post is to go back & reread 
HP Lovecraft's  'The Colour Out of Space'. All of the following hinges on it. 

So DM Paul (my physist friend co player/DM) & I on Saturday were shooting the breeze & knocking back some beers. He was explaining to me his past games of Call of Cthulhu campaigns & so forth.
 We've been over here concentrating on Call of Cthulhu & Cepheus Engine rpg  specifically some of the early 2nd CoC adventures. More specifically William J Barton's 'The Killer Out of Space' from Cthulhu Now   Could 'The Killer Out of Space' be adapted to Zozer Games Hostile rpg?
Now we've seen Delta Green & other products taking up the slack of the  Cthulhu Now supplement. But with so much Eighties nostalgia I thought it was time to revisit this classic. I was zipping around doing a bit of research on this one & came across Alexander Scott's review on Amazon; "The first one, "The City in the Sea", was a wash for me. Not particularly excited about it - it could have been set in any time period as far as I could tell (even a "Jules Verne" version of Gaslight). An investigator gets sent an idol from a deceased uncle - haven't seen that one before. The second, "Dreams Dark and Deadly", is set in a lodge turned into research station. Dreams are studied using a supercomputer recording electrical signals. Perhaps it was science-fiction at the time, but it sounds exciting in the modern day to me. Very believable, could be well adapted to the 90's or even today. "The Killer out of Space" is about an alien that causes a space-shuttle to crash, bringing its infection to Earth. Some have said this could be in bad taste after the Columbia disaster. I think it could also be very apropos, depending on your players. "The Evil Stars" is a about a rock band bringing Hastur to Earth - at first glance I thought "That's so 80's." You could change the superficials - rock band to grunge or death metal, particularly, and still have a good modern scenario. Some scenarios are a prisoner of their times, but I think this one has an enduring core idea." 

Now I agree with (mostly) everything that was said in this review. But when we started thinking about a corporate Earth suddenly taken with a crashed shuttle with an alien threat on it.  Things got interesting really fast. So let's say that in our take on the Hostile universe such as shuttle comes down. And now 'the Night Stalkers' are called in. Is this going to make much of a difference to the alien threat behind  'The Killer Out of Space'!?! Honestly I really doubt it. This isn't an alien threat that can simply be shot at nor disissed with psionics or magicks. This really would be an investigation, identification, & possibly elimination. The whole adventure of  'The Killer Out of Space'  would play out like a Seventies science fiction film. A bleek & dire threat against the backdrop of a small Midwestern setting. But can anything be done for the victims & those who are caught within the web of the alien's influence?! 
Even with some of the advanced technologies of the Hostile rpg line of products & even Cepheus Engine rpg there's very little that could be done. 
But a key to running this adventure? Are two different supplements. Supplement number one is Shadowfall by Baggage Books. 

Zozer Games Explorers has some excellent material in relation to dealing with unknown & weird situations such as the colour entity. The proticals for such an first contact might take the corporations & governments by surprise! They are not ready for the revelations of such a contact!

The key here is that even the governments & corporations are not going to be ready for this entity. The best that the Earth can hope for is to deal with the alien essence in such a way as to minimuize the damage to the local area. A large percentage of farmland will be lost however. Could "The Killer out of Space" be set else where in the Cepheus Engine rpg setting products that are currently on the market?! Yes I believe that Independence Games organization   CCA (Cascadia Colonization Authority) team might be a good fit for  run through of  'The Killer Out of Space'. 
All of the elements are already present within the interstellar  setting of Indpendence Games Cepheus Engine rpg materials. 

This is only a thought excercise but its an interesting take on one of my favorite 2nd edition Call of Cthulhu rpg supplements. And we love getting the most miles out of the rpg materials that we can.