Thursday, August 11, 2022

Review & Commentary On Famous Characters of the Old West By John Watts From Independence Games For The Rider & Other 2d6 Old West Rpg's

 "Make new friends (or enemies)!

This book features 19 famous historical characters from the Old West. Each has a full character sheet and a short biography and each is ready to be added to your Rider campaign. Meet such figures as Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Johnny Ringo!"

"Use them as NPCs for your next Rider campaign or even as player characters in an all-star Rider campaign!
Become part of the legend! "

If there's a favorite genre that the 2d6 Cepheus Engine crowd loves it's the American Old West! And why not with the amazing Rider rpg series by John Watts and Micheal Brown's Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier. This is truly a golden age for the 2d6 American West fan like myself. Now the differences between both Rider rpg and Under Western Skies is pretty obvious to the casual Old Western rpg gamer. The Rider rpg series is built on detail and 2d6 campaign driven play. While Under Western Skies is pure 'pick up and play 2d6' action. Now while these games can be combined it might be at cross purposes depending upon the players & dungeon master's purposes. That being the case this brings me to a product that can be used with both systems and that's 
'Famous Characters of the Old West' By John Watts From Independence Games. John Watts is a huge fan of the Old West and you can tell from the author's range of characters that he packs into this fifty six page book. 
We get a solid layout & easy on the eyes text that dives deeply into the cabilities, background, history, & skills of each of these NPC's from real world history. 

Take for example the famous lawman Pat Gerrett; 
"Pat Garrett Strength: 9 (+1) Dexterity: 8 (+0) Endurance: 10 (+1) Intelligence: 7 (+0) Education: 5 (-1) Charisma: 8 (+0) Reputation: 9 Primary Language: English Birthdate: June 5, 1850 Draw 2 Gambler 2 Gun Combat (Revolver) 2 Investigate 2 Recon 2 Streetwise 2 Tactics (Military) 2 Advocate (Politics) 1 Animals (Riding) 1 Carouse 1 Leadership 1 Melee (Unarmed Combat) 1 Navigation 1 Persuade 1 Stealth 1 Survival (Plains) 1 Art 0 Broker 0 Patrick Floyd Garrett was born on June 5, 1850, near what is now Cusseta, Alabama. After his father, John, purchased a cotton plantation in northern Louisiana, Garrett would spend his childhood there. The Civil War would destroy the Garret family’s finances, and this would force Garrett to take work as a cowboy at the LS Ranch in west Texas in 1869. In 1875, he became a buffalo hunter. In 1878, he got into a quarrel with a fellow buffalo hunter, W. Skelton Glenn. During this disagreement, Garret killed Glenn. Garrett confessed to the killing when he returned, but he suffered no reprisals. He moved to Fort Sumner, New Mexico later in the same year and became a cowboy for Pedro Maxwell. The following year, in 1879, he would quit his cowboy work and open a saloon called “Beaver Smith’s”. It is said that it was at this point that he started gambling with and befriended Henry McCarty (aka “Billy the Kid”, see p.45). He would get married to Juanita Martiniez during this same period, but she would die only 15 days later. On January 14, 1880, he would marry Apolonia Gutierrez with whom he would have eight children." 
We get all of the details on Pat Garrett, & the real world history as well as it can be known at this time. And this is one of the places that both Rider & Famous Characters of the Old West excels. We get all of the good & the bad in one entry. The writing is straight forward, matter of fact, and too the point. The DM get's Garrett's history, carreer, and life's journey. Any one of these points in Garrett's life the player's PC's could encounter him for better or worse. 
And this is where Famous Characters of the Old West By John Watts shines because in fifty six pages it gives a fasinating grand tour of the Old West. And Famous Characters does it in a solid, easy to use, and digest way that actually works at the table top level for your 2d6 Old West needs for Cepheus Engine rpg. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Back To The Starship Warden?! - Using Cepheus Engine Rpg & Stars With Number rpg Together - 'Shiny, Let's Be Bad Guys!'

So we've been all over the map when it comes to thinking out some of our Fall campaign scheduling. And it's been months since we got a chance to do one of our favorite campaigns. A combination of Stars Without Number & Cepheus Engine.You can read more about that over here. 

 And then over the last course of a couple of days we each got an update saying that Troll Lords was going to drop the Starship Warden for an update or reboot to it's Amazing Adventures rpg line. And so the Warden is on sale over at Troll Lord games.  And we've still got a full on game campaign going set in our version's univere of the Warden. 
And we were not playing the 'good guys' but space pirate mercenary adventurers and we had a blast. We swapped out the starship rules of Stars Without Number revised for Cepheus Engine rpg system. We managed to escape the Warden (just barely after getting our foot in the hanger and almost getting eaten alive by mutant scum) and our party literally left. 

We had 'The Space Patrol' on our behinds and managed to lay low for a month or so running piracy jobs for the criminals at Old School Role Playing's Pay What You Want Trading Post. 
And we ran whatever crap piracy jobs we could on the Frontier's edge. 

We ran afoul of space wizards, reticullan royal cults, and had a blast. And we also used Independence Games Skull & Crossbones to help fill in some of the criminal  background of our sector. And we also had more background with the Goya as a part of the story of the Warden. 

We had three DM's taking turns running this campaign and it was going gangbusters but what we really wanted was to return to the Warden! But scheduling conflicts caused all kinds of issues & we got two new players who caused drama and the game took a nose dive. But now the players & the DM's are on board for the return to the Warden. 
Cepheus Engine players hate mixing this campaign  with Stars Without Number as the Stars Without Number players hate this out in the inner webs. Tough titties we were having a blast with this. And so are returning to the Warden soon. More action coming up! 

There are five things happening right now for our party: 
  1. We've got a bounty on our heads for the crew of the Goya which the authorities think we murdered for 50,000 credits
  2. The party managed to piss off a Reticulan cult and they want us dead.
  3. Several pirate gangs and groups want us to join after we pumped weapons into their pipe line to keep our hacker alive. 
  4. The corporations gave us three side jobs but wanted the coordinates for the Warden. The party managed to cover their tracks. 
  5. The party hates wolfoids most of all. 


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

The Weirder Lands of Dark Fantasy - Using Nightshift Veterans of the Supernatural Wars With B2 Keep On The Borderlands And World of Bastards Rpg

Temperatures in Connecticut are high and so tempers are running just as quick.So last night myself & DM Steve got into a huge if somewhat heated debate over the classic B2 Keep on the Borderland By Gary Gygax. DM Steve insisting that we take out our Weirder Lands of Dark Fantasy campaign then add it into the back end of  Using The Night Shift Veterans of the Supernatural Rpg With The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version).  Make it like a Summertime adventure event with five or six pieces for our group sorta like Marvel comicbooks did with their five or six issue crossover events back in the Eighties. 

The cult of Chaos & the keep itself are key here. The idea is that various chaos driven humanoid tribes are united by the cult of Chaos and they've been making in roads into the lost back doors of reality. This isn't the first time we've run this but the idea of the various humanoid tribes united under the banner of one decisive cult is tempting. Jason Vey goes deep into using the Nightshift rpg for running OSR style games here. 
Nasty brutish gnolls, pig faced orcs, and more serving under the banner of the cult of Chaos makes sense. But where could one put the keep in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy?! The heavy lifting has been done for ages in fact with this thread back in 2012  for ironically D&D Next by Rpgnet member Brookdragon; "A few years before the Keep on the Borderlands ever existed, their was a Judges Guild supplement published in 1976-77 called, Frontier Forts of Kelnore. The frontier forts were set in Tarantis, in the Wilderlands, of course. Kelnore was a great empire, until the Green Emperor with several Vasthosts attacked, looted and sacked the city of Tarantis in an extended campaign. In the collapse of the Kelnore empire, the border forts fell into disrepair and ruin, and this supplement would help you create a bunch of them, all slightly different for your campaign..

My understanding is that when TSR wanted a basic setting, in 78 or so they looked reeeeaaaal close at the Frontier Forts of Kelnore, borrrowed what they liked, threw in an active hamlet, along with a storyline, and called it Keep on the Borderlands." 

Yeah, while I have no idea if any of this is true, I happen to own Frontier Forts of Kelnore & cross comparing the two has yielded some interesting results. 

The keep from B2 could easily be placed right in line with the Frontier Forts of Kelnore. Then there's the fact that frontier forts resemble ancient Roman fortresses ( heavy breathing here). Hmm, so let's take a look back at this campaign idea. A good chunk of the region's chaos influenced humanoids & even the bandits in B2 have gathered under the banner of Chaos. What if the bandits are in point of fact working for The Seven Bastards who are a rival adventuring party waiting to take on their next score. Why?! Because the cult of Chaos has reveved up the local orc tribes using the adventure points of 'The Sound of Madness' 

But how does any of this lead back to the keep you maybe wondering?! Well it's two fold. One is the sleeper agent of the cult of chaos  in the keep. And the second is the medusa within the caves of chaos. The medusa is actually a senior member of the Daughters of Darkness cult. This cult wants their elder leader back and has agents within the keep and in the city in our reality. And they have ties too the cult featured in the Sisters of the Seven Sins. 

The daughters have been quietly doing mercenary work for the cult of Chaos but them taking a  senior member is too much. The sisters may come across the party with an offer to work for them to recover the medusa. 
Now how does the party get involved from our end of reality?! That's simple the wild vampires from Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars Quick Start Kit are actually the crossover point. Once the wild vampires start showing up in your local campaign city the balance of power & magick shifts. This allows a few of the orcs, gnolls, and bandits to appear then run wild in the city. And that's all it takes to kick off this campaign. The PC's could be from either world who are forced to work together. 

So why do this with the Wilderlands of High Fantasy rpg campaign setting? Well supposedly Bat in the Attic is going to stop producing his fantastic maps & products. The IP is dead, etc.  And since we ordered everything yesterday I thought I'd put the material to work. 

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Using The Night Shift Veterans of the Supernatural Rpg With The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version) By Miguel Ribeiro, Sílvia Clemente, & Joe Coombs For The Wretchexploitation & The Wretched Époque rpg


So three weeks ago I dusted off Veterans of the Supernatural Wars rpg after thumbing through the Red Room's Resort of the Dead after running this adventure with Bloat Games system. Why?! Bloat Games systems should be good enough and it is. But we've had a Veteran's chronicle running in the background for months with the 'Lost In The Eighties! LoFP Carcosa & OSR Actual Play Session - Extension'. Now DM Steve has been rattling his dice about going back to 'the Lost in The Eighties' chronicle because of our game of   The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version) By Miguel Ribeiro, Sílvia Clemente, & Joe Coombs today. 

The key part of  running The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version) By Miguel Ribeiro, Sílvia Clemente, & Joe Coombs is going to be three fold. One is the fact that 'The Sisters of the Seven Sins 'the Wretched version' is going be jumped up into the early Eighties. And next is to use the Night Companion: a Sourcebook for Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars which has stats for the The N'gathau or the Displines of Pain in the Wretchploitation rpg. These demonic creatures have many names in their cold Hells. The Sisters of the Seven Sins is perfectly suited for running an extended demonic  chronicle in Portugal right at the tail end of 1979 and into the early 80's. And even with PC's with supernatural powers are not going to mean a whole lot against  the Displines of Pain. Even the PC levels are not that far off of a Veteran's game. The Sisters of Seven Sin is a Giallo game adventure & there will be blood, adult themes, and lots more. Does Wretchploitation have anything to offer to the Veterans DM?! 

And in answer to this question?! Yes absolutely it does and this because both Wrechploitation & Veterans OSR rpg systems  are modular in nature. And this allows the DM to use some of the 13 deadly sins PC generation can to be back fitted into the Veterans of the Supernatural rpg PC generation. This  allows  the PC's to be a bit more well round and frankly evil. How is this all going to play out?! I'm not sure as our supernatural PC's are going to have their hands full of the Sisters and their horrors. 

Now I'm no stranger to running controversial rpg campaigns and this one could end in disaster or be a very long running one. The The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version) By Miguel Ribeiro, Sílvia Clemente, & Joe Coombs has the potential to last years. And this is only the latest savlo in a campaign that could last years. 

OSR Review & Session Report On The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version) By Miguel Ribeiro, Sílvia Clemente, & Joe Coombs For The Wretchexploitation & The Wretched Époque rpg

 "This horror scenario takes place in a Portuguese convent with a dark history of demonic possession, black magic, and Devil worships that, in the mid-1970s, is occupied by a recently founded unusual religious congregation made up of disgraced women who wish to atone for their past, the Reprobate Sisters of the Seven Sins. Players can take the role of nuns, Vatican authorities sent to investigate reports of demoniacal manifestations, reporters interested in exploring the story behind this atypical catholic sisterhood or even criminals working on a devious plan to restore a sinister painting to the convent where it originally belonged."

It's about 2:24 in the afternoon on a Sunday we're just getting back from running over at DM Steve's place. So once again, I've wandered into an ongoing OSR horror game as a dungeon master. And we  made things go in a completely different direction in early 19th century Portugal.  And it's been an interesting game session to say the least because of the fact that The Red Room sent me a copy of  The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version) By Miguel Ribeiro, Sílvia Clemente, & Joe Coombs.The Seven Sisters is a straight forward & well put together source book with details on the history of the convent, it's place within Portugal's history, full background, very detailed timeline and more all of course inspired by  Giallo films, Pulp horror stories, and general horrific depravity. Now the PC's in this game were already in a established in a horror investigative campaign with the Wretched Époque rpg having been used since back in June now.  The adventure hook here is the fact that the Vatican has called the PC's to find out what supernatual & demonic  happening are going on at the convent. There's been a series of murders of victims around the convent and the locals are very disturbed. 

The party was made up of 

DM Steve playing Major Tesla retired soldier now man of action  

Judith DM Steve's wife playing Elizabeth Gumtree shaman & bohemian occult expert

Paul playing El Jaffa a thug & assassin with an interest in sorting out the murders at the convent

Tessa playing the fighting nun Sister Elsa an agent of the Vatican whose blood relative at the convent is a murder victim

Sam Tessa's boyfriend playing  Merklin Akins an occultist from America visiting his ancestral home because of a family connection with the Knights Templar at the convent. 

Our own version of The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version)  takes place smack in the middle of the Belle Époque period. And the sourcebook is well thoughtout with it's occult & supernatural material well laid out, and a font that is easy on the eyes. The investigators began with the murder scenes and progressed quickly with the PC's falling into the middle of a hallucination created by the demonic activity at the convent. This hallucination happened to El Jaffa & Major Tesla. And while it didn't harm the PC's it rattled them quite nicely. Sister Elsa had a quiet and quite dangerous interview with one of the priests and here's where   The Sisters of the Seven Sins  shines because the NPC's are so nicely laid out. We get a sense that there's been a lot of care taken with each of the write ups and profiles. 

Elizabeth Gumtree wandered into one of the convent courtyards & had a ghostly encounter with one of the victims who nearly took off her head. It was only the timely save by Merklin Akins banished the ghost back to Hell. Merklin & Elizabeth headed into the convent's record room to do some research. They met up with the convent's keeper of records. The party regrouped in the record room & backed off of the investigation for the evening. The party regrouped in town for the moment & we ended the session here. 

The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version) By Miguel Ribeiro, Sílvia Clemente, & Joe Coombs is  a one hundred & thirty six page adventure & resource book that details a very dangerous & horrid convent. The whole supplement could be used with any OSR investigative horror rpg easily. And on the whole feels like an extensive campaign & I do mean extensive! The The Sisters of the Seven Sins  feels like partially a giallo fim adventure with elements of Hellraiser, Argento, and more with touches of other classic Pulp works.  The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version)  is wall to wall adult themes, fictional hersies, weird supernatural horror, and other icky details so this one is not for the kiddies. But is  The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version) By Miguel Ribeiro, Sílvia Clemente, & Joe Coombs  well done?! Oh very much so! 

The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version) By Miguel Ribeiro, Sílvia Clemente, & Joe Coombs For The Wretchexploitation & The Wretched Époque rpg  Is Available Right Here 

OSR Lovecraftian Ecology on Clark Ashton Smith 'The Tomb Spawn ''s the Ghorli (Updated)

  "Great was Ossaru, being both king and wizard. He ruled over half the continent of Zothique. His armies were like the rolling sands, blown by the simoom. He commanded the genii of storm and of dark-ness, he called down the spirits of the sun. Men knew his wizardry as the green cedars know the blasting of levin."

Clark Ashton Smith 
'The Tomb Spawn 

When it comes to Clark Ashton Smith's far future Earth setting  Zothique  'The Tomb Spawn ' is an old favorite & the inspiration for numerous Castles & Crusades adventure forays. A highly of this appendix S&S ( Sword & Sorcery) Weird Tales is  the Ghorli. These monsters are are heavily featured in the D20 Zothique setting book.  
The question remains as to what sort of undead horrors these former humanoid things actually are?!  According to GR Hager the author of the D20 Zothique setting book the following comes to us through the Ghorli entry; "
Small Undead Hit Dice: 2d12 (12 hp) Initiative: +2 (Dex) Speed: 30 ft. AC: 13 (+3 Dex) Attacks: Bite +3 melee; 2 claws +1 melee Damage: Bite 1d4+3, claws 1d2 ea. Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft. Special Attacks: Stench Special Qualities: Undead, +1 turn resistance, Darkvision 10 ft., receive double damage for all non-magical attacks Shaman spells: Darkness, Create More Ghorii Saves: Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +3 Abilities: Str 9, Dex 16, Con -, Int 9, Wis 12, Cha 12 Skills: Climb +6, Escape Artist +6, Hide +6, Jump +6, Listen +6, Move Silently +6, Search +6, Spot +6 Feats: Multiattack, Weapon Finesse (bite) Climate/Terrain: Any desert, ruins, and underground on the greater continent Organization: gang (2-6), pack (7-19), band (20-60), horde (60-100) Challenge Rating: 1 Treasure: Conditional (see below) Alignment: Always lawful evil Advancement: 3-6 HD (Medium-size) Ghorii speak to each other in a language of hoarse coughing and spitting. Ghorii are devilish undead that appear in a gaunt, jackal-like form. They have long muzzles and double rows of teeth, which insure at least 4 points of damage with a successful bite attack. They run on all limbs, but can use their taloned forelimbs for grasping. Their sole source of moisture is the blood of their victims, so they devour both the living and the dead, including fallen ghorii. They are usually the color of the local soil, and hide very well, except for the stench which reveals their presence. They prefer to travel in large bands or hordes, which are always led by by a hierarchy of chieftains and shamans of 3-6 HD, or on rare occasions by an osyluth (bone devil). Except for a bag of odd spell components worn about the neck of ghorii shamans, they are always naked and carry no treasure. However, the opulent treasure of previous victims can often be found strewn about in the vicinity. The desert wraith (see p. 14) can be mistaken for a ghorii, often with fatal results. Good rules of thumb: If it looks like a jackal and doesn’t avoid you, it isn’t a jackal. If it travels alone, or has a furry pelt, it’s probably a desert wraith. COMBAT Ghorii favor ambushes and overwhelming odds. They will leap from above like panthers, given the opportunity. Stench Attack (Ex): This is a passive ability. When 7 or more ghorii are indoors, or 20 or more ghorii are outdoors, all other creatures with a sense of smell found within 20 feet must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 13) or be wracked with fear & nausea, suffering a -2 penalty to all attacks, saves, and skill checks for the next 10 minutes. Darkness (Su): Same as the 2nd-level cleric spell. 1/day for shaman. Create More Ghorii (Su): A ghorii shaman invokes hellish powers to create more ghorii from jackal skeletons wrapped in human skin. This cannot be done in battle, and requires several hours of spell casting. Ghorii must be created in multiples of five, and each one requires a complete jackal skeleton and the entire skin plus some blood, brain & bones from a human. 1/week for shaman. Receive Double Damage (Ex): Ghorii take double damage when receiving any successful physical blow. Undead: Immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, and disease. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, or death from massive damage." 
There a few conclusions that we can glean here. The Ghorli were once human or humanoid tribesmen. They have shamans & still retain a tribal society even in undeath. But what exactly are they?! My guess is  an evolved form of ghoul that has been created by some ancient Lovecraftian god. The rite to create more ghorii tells the story; "A ghorii shaman invokes hellish powers to create more ghorii from jackal skeletons wrapped in human skin. " My best guess would actually be Mordiggan from 
the Clark Ashton Smith tale 'The Charnel God' 

“‘Mordiggian is the god of Zul-Bha-Sair,’ said the innkeeper with unctuous solemnity. ‘He has been the god from years that are lost to man’s memory in shadow deeper than the subterranes of his black temple. There is no other god in Zul-Bha-Sair. And all who die within the walls of the city are sacred to Mordiggian. Even the kings and the optimates, at death, are delivered into the hands of his muffled priests. It is the law and the custom.’” — The Charnel God, CAS 1934

Paizo artwork of Mordiggan used without permission. 

The Ghorli may have been once been desert tribesmen who committed suicide enmass to their Lovecraftian god. The corruption of 'the Ghorli curse' simply keeps spreading among the victims of the undead horrors. The Ghorli tribe or species of undead simply keeps spreading in Zothique's wastelands & deserts. The fact is that these undead horrors are ideally suited to Zothique's desert wastes. And if there is one artist whose work for me captures Zothique its got to be Rodney Mathews.  The Ghorhi haunt and guard the ruins of cities, wizard towers, and the former royal holdings of long extinct nations in the wilds of Zothique. 

Rodney Mathew's artwork used without permission.. 

Will the Ghorli tribe or species take over Zothique?! Not anymore then another semi demonic undead horror will. The species while aggressive & very dangerous are perfectly suited into their undeath ecological niche. These monsters are far too specialized in their behavior & undeath state. They may have to be pruned for the greater good of Zothique. But at the moment at least these undead horrors  are a very large specialized & niche enviroment. But evertything about these situations feels like its being set up & the Ghorhi in position to take out the enemies of the gods of evil on Zothique. 

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Running A Hyperborea rpg One Shot With "And The Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead" By Joseph A. Mohr 'A Pay What You Want Adventure 'As Prelude To U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh

 "This is an OSRIC adventure for characters of 1st to 3rd level of experience. As the adventurers arrive at a sleepy little sea side town not all is as it seems. The town is under attack by pirates. But these are no ordinary pirates. These pirates are undead and their nightmare ship is just off shore waiting for the plunder to be brought aboard. This adventure allows the players to explore the mystery of these undead buccaneers and find out why they still sail the seas." 

If you've been following this blog then you're going to know about my fasin erm obession with U1 'The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh'  written by Dave J. Browne with Don Turnbull. What if there were events that proceed 'U' series of ocean based modules?! What if the undead  criminal mastermind 'The Alchemist' had raised a group of undead pirates to raid the Hyperborean coastline around Brigiand's Bay?! Well this is where  "And The Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead" By Joseph A. Mohr 'A Pay What You Want Adventure ' could be used as a sort of side prelude to the 'U' series. 

Picture it if you will that the oceans of Hyperborea begin to come into their Summer season. And the arcane energies flood into the sea surrounding Saltmarsh once again! A lone figure of undeath & darkness stands atop a rock & begins calling back the undead pirates & raiders long moldering under the seawater. Hyperborea is mostly a huge bowel of ocean & undead raiders under the control of one of the most dangerous villains on Hyperborea calls for a solution?! And the Alchemist is using these undead pirates and raiders to sew fear into the citizens of the coastline. With so much of Hyperborea's being sea bound and the citizens tied into the ocean. This is going to open a whole cloth can of worms for the lich and his undead minions. 
These events act as a sort of destablizing element for the 'u' series of modules setting. The ocean is the life blood of Hyperborea providing food, shelter, and is the primary bringer of life for those in that fish it's waters. 

Why does this make things that much more complicated?! Oh yes, because of the fact that the Deep Ones are the ones that paid the Alchemist to lead off on the summoning of the ghost pirates! Why because of the fact that this leads down into the events of the 'U' ' series of modules. The undead pirates has to be dealt with to pave the way for the smugglers & the coming war. 

OSR Review & Commentary Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier From Michael Brown For Your Old School Western Campaigns

 "The term “Wild West” conjures up images of square-jawed cowboys on horseback, watching over a cattle drive; steely-eyed lawmen facing down desperadoes; painted saloon girls carousing with rowdy guests; and stoic Native Americans watching their world slip away. The Wild West — that period of America’s history during its westward expansion in the latter half of the nineteenth century — was all that, and much more. Now, players using the 2D6 system can visit those thrilling (and often dangerous) days of yesteryear. Under Western Skies is an RPG supplement based on the Mongoose 1st Edition 2D6 OGL system (which is itself based on The Original Science-Fiction Roleplaying Game first published in the 1970s) and adapted to create heroes and adventures suitable for an Old West campaign." 

"This is a major upgrade of the original Under Western Skies rules, but is still designed to “get out of the way and let you play.” The rules still leave most of the creativity to the Referee offering only a framework to hang that creativity on. The rules contain the following goodies, some of them new:

  • An expanded list of ten careers, using a familiar character generation system
  • Native American nation creation
  • equipment and weapon tables
  • a selection of vehicles and animals, both wild and domestic
  • an expanded town creation system that allows the Referee to decide the level of detail.
  • A discussion of Newfangled Contraptions invented in the 19th century that had an impact on the 20th.
  • And even a generation system for the cowboy’s boon companion, the horse!

Of course, there are rules to help you run the inevitable showdown at high noon, and determine what happens when you just as inevitably get sick or see that twister coming."

Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier From Michael Brown  came my way last night from the author. Who dropped in my lap on social media, the fact that I not only own Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier is a testiment to the prolific author. Michael Brown is one of those Cepheus Engine authors who is a quiet machine producing excellent games while staying under the radar to produce excellent games. 
And in seventy pages Mr.Brown writes up an excellent no nonsense set of flavorful 2d6 Old Western rules. And 
Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier delivers the goods by bringing home the 2d6 action. Under Western Skies does three things very quickly, one it explains it's mechanics right up front, second it gives the players &  DM these mechanics upfront for PC generation, and three plugs into both the historical & cinematic aspects of the Old West. Within this context Michael Brown adhers to the Cepheus Engine rpg systems ideals giving the player everything within the first fifteen pages they'll need to generate a PC, embody themselves within the Old West, & start playing. And players can play everything from cowpunchers to soldiers all within Under Western Skies quickly, efficiently, and miminumal fuss. And this minimal of fuss is something Michael Brown excels at in his design & authorship. 
Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier takes this and runs with it within itself. Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier is designed to be played & everything from the 'guts' mechanic to the combat system is designed for easy of play. The equipment, gun, weapons, and even the horse rules are designed to be pick up and go! 
The modular nature of 
Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier is speed, & playability. Everything here has been stripped back & narrowed by Mr.Brown for actual playability at the table top level. And we see this time & again thumbing through the game. Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier is specifically designed to be played with one shot or overarching actual Old Western campaign play. Another difference that we've  got with Under Western Skies is the fact that that there are multiple adventures like   
Kennon's Pass which gives you everything you need to get the player's PC's into the Old West action. 

How does Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier compare with say other Cepheus Engine Western Rpg's?! Well it doesn't actually. What Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier is actually a slick, quick, and reliable set of rules with some really good potential for Old West 2d6 rpg action! 

Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier From Michael Brown For Your Old School Western Campaigns Is Available Here 

Friday, August 5, 2022

OSR Commentary On The Hostile Rpg & The Shoulder of Orion Militery campaign - From Board Room to Battleground

 So today was a day where a bunch of us gamers got together to do a couple of quick oil changes, check spark plugs, and generally do some routine gear head stuff. And this blog entry picks up from here & especially here.   The question came up,'What would China do to level the corporate playing field in the Shoulder of Orion' campaign? What would happen if China had produced some incredibly bright & highly dangerous replicants that created to workover corporate board rooms. And so we're talking about something beyond the usual capabilities of Zozer Games Synthetics & Zaibatsu operatives here. 

And then the answer was one that was already on my hard drive and that's Tree of Life: Altrants in Clement Sector Third Edition By John Watts. Within Tree of Life is a specific style of what they call Altrants ie replicants or vat grown clones with special abilities. And the ideal candidate type of agent to field for this style of work would be the sirens. Sirens are created to be the ultimate sexual partner & plaything but they could also be the perfect spies or agents for a cyberpunk style corportation. According to the Tree of Life: Altrants in the Cement Sector's description; "Sirens are altrants created to be sexual partners for baseline humans. They were first created by adult entertainment corporations in the United States, Japan, and Indonesia. The name “Siren” stems from the corporation Pleasures Incorporated’s original name for the altrant. As with many altrants, the first name used for the type has, over time, become the standard term. Sirens have since been created by several corporations and are seen in Earth Sector and Clement Sector. Sirens are specifically designed to match the beauty standards of the culture for which they are intended. This can vary wildly as tastes are often different across many strata of society and thus there are a variety of appearances for Sirens. Sirens are often created with exaggerated features designed to entice members of the cultural group to which they are attractive." 

Imagine a small R&D cloning lab somewhere in the South China Sea which has cutting edge bio engineering  technology.  They develop the first of the Sirens as corporate agents able to read body language, have perfect memory, and the ability to seduce in mind or body. Since the Sirens have a limited lifespan they make the perfect agents for the state. And possibly one of the most extreme state secrets for it's time. 
And with the interstellar war going on in the Shoulder of Orion the Sirens are simply another agent on the field or in the board room. 
So what does any of this have to with John Brunner's Science Fiction?! Back in the alternative Science Fiction history of Shockwave Rider we get our first hints of clones such as the Sirens. Clones whose genetic makeup is pushed in the direction desired traits. Things don't work out for such creatures and I believe the shortened life spans of the Sirens are another example of this. 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Zothique, X2 Castle Amber, And Clark Ashton Smith's Necromancy From Naat By Way of OSRIC

 Today's blog post is going to pick up right from this blog post here.  When it comes to Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique exotic & completely alien are the two words that come to mind. This is borne out within the CAS story ' Necromancy In Naat'. Clark Ashton Smith cranks up the 'ick' factor by '11' and then goes in for the kill with his ending. Death, the grave, and even then the ending isn't the original one. According to the Deep Ones KentonSem;"A few details from the notes by Scott Connors and Ron Hilger in the NSB edition of The Last Hieroglyph:

"Necromancy in Naat" was completed on February 6, 1935. It appeared in the July 1936 issue of Weird Tales, where it was accompanied by another Virgil Finlay illustration, where it tied with Robert E. Howard's "Red Nails" as the most popular story in the issue. Smith was paid seventy-three dollars for the story.

Smith wrote to August Derleth that "'Necromancy in Naat' seems the best of my more recently published weirds; though Wright forced me to mutilate the ending."

Apparently Farnsworth Wright had an issue with the last paragraph and the "shadowy love" that is hinted at (although it's not exactly necrophilia if it's between two consenting dead folk, now is it? Let's just call it necromantic). The original version was eventually restored for the NSB volume and presumably the online version listed above." 

Rodney Matthews, Obsidian Castle used without permission. 

And so what does this prevading use & abuse of the undead in 'Necromancy of Naat' have anything to do with OSRIC or the D20 version Zothique? Quite simply the dead don't rest quiet on Zothique and I believe that THAMOGORGOS the lord  of The Abyss is partially  responsible for this state of affairs. Many of the events of 'Necromancy in Naat' remind me of the restless and dangerous undead of X2  Castle Amber by Tom Moldvay. How?! In both the story & the module the dead play dangerous parts with the living. And it's possible when weird old gods are at play the rules for reality slide out the window. 

Starcrossed lovers who are actually dead & then become the play things of the necromancers amid the dying Earth's lost wasteland seas?! The classic X2 has many of the trappings of the' Necromancy of Naat' without the implied undead umm ick . X2 is one part dungeon, one part wilderness, & partially a module with deep roots in Glantri. Zothique itself while not a magick heavy setting none the less is on par with many Sword & Sorcery settings. 
And this is where the connection comes in with Elric's Pan Tang wizards, soldiers, mercenaries, etc. comes into play. We know for a fact according to the Stormbringer books by Michael Moorcock that the Young Kingdom's Pan Tang were sending out expediationary forces, envoys, etc. to expand the scope of the horrid kingdom's reach. 

Pan Tang miniature forces by Games Workshop 

If we look at the idea that we've got Pan Tangian envoys & forces moving beyond the planes of the Young Kingdom through foul magics then.  Then the foul forces of Pan Tang  can show up any place and this includes Zothique! The party may come up against forces they may have to flee from. 
If the PC's go into the land of Ghouls in X2 Castle Amber then the party may eventually find themselves within the lands of Mordiggan on Zothique!  After naviagting & neogatating with the ghoul tribes  or their foul Lovecraftian god events may trip in the party's  favor if the ghost of Stephen Amber parleys with the ghouls on the players behalf. Stephen  De Ambers was a mage of iincredible skill and it's no surprise that other mages may be angling to take over his domain. 
Many of my contempary DM's have eluded to the fact that Castle Amber may be a domain of Ravenloft. And perhaps Zothique could be one as well?! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

OSR Commentary On The Hostile Rpg & Round Rigel's Moon A Part Of The Military Action At The Shoulder of Orion - The Chess Pieces Move Into Place

 One things that one does to be a dungeon master is to look outside of the norm and over weekend I was talking with some folks about ecology. Specifically, planetary ecology &  that brought our attention back to our 'Shoulder of Orion' Hostile & Cepheus Engine rpg campaign going on. And this brought my personal attention back to the Dirtside rules by Paul Elliot.  Why?! Because the planetary wilderness is as much of a character in our games as the war. Today's blog post picks up right from here. 

The corporate powers have made their move. The 'Shoulder of Orion' action has moved to the star Rigel and if we look at the Rigel wiki entry; "Rigel is a blue supergiant star in the constellation of Orion. It has the Bayer designation β Orionis, which is Latinized to Beta Orionis and abbreviated Beta Ori or β Ori. Rigel is the brightest and most massive component – and the eponym – of a star system of at least four stars that appear as a single blue-white point of light to the naked eye. This system is located at a distance of approximately 860 light-years (260 pc) from the Sun." 
Because Rigel is a blue supergiant that has exhausted it's outer core, the systems around it are perfect for the fast moving, loosely put together, and easily deployable 'Gypsy attack ships'. There is very little to these ships except for a cockpit, ion engine, and weaponry. These ships are perfect to go up against the big boys in this case Historical ships of the Clement Sector's Trent Destroyer.  

The Trent Destroyer is literally the cutting edge of corporate interstellar mayhem and fielding one costs large amounts of money. Why field a few of these artillery pieces into the war?! The fact that Betelgeuse is also on the field of war & that star means resources folks. The action however is going to be starting planet side on one of the minor planets of Rigel first. The planetary action is going to be man to man with soldiers going up against each other with the alien wilderness playing it's part.