Monday, September 25, 2023

OSR Review & Commentary On Hacker By Paul Elliot for your 2d6 Science Fiction or Cyberpunk style rpg

 "You need a set of hacking rules for your futuristic RPG setting.

HACKER is system-neutral – a fast and unobtrusive set of cyberspace rules that recreates the colour and danger of a classic cyberpunk ‘consensual hallucination’. In the words of William Gibson, it is a ‘graphic representation of data … lines of light ranged in the non-space of the mind, clusters and constellations of data.’

In these rules, we call it Cyberspace. But it might be the Matrix, the Netrix, or just the Network. Take your pick. Just don’t call it the Internet. Or the Web"

So I got a copy of Hacker by Paul Elliot from an update from the Zaibatsu rpg. What followed were thirteen pages of common sense and well thoughtout hacking in Cyberspace rules and clear decking rules for any 2d6 Traveller or Cepheus Engine rpg driven games. Hacker does that by give us clear and precise rules for hacking into the computers and systems of Zaibatsu and Hostile. But really these rules could easily be appiied to any 2d6 Cyberpunk style rpg. Hacker's font and layout are clear and well done. 
Now the weird part of this is that I've been meaning to get back to Zaibatsu for sometime. The game mechanics of Hacker rely on the Hostile and Zaibatsu 2d6 systems. This means that Hacker has it's own internal system with the following;"Your roleplaying game will have its own dice, attributes, skill levels and so on. We can’t guarantee compatibility. So, at key moments we just ask you to ‘make a computer skill roll’, whether that’s 3D6 roll under 12, or roll 2D6 to get 8+, or to make a percentage roll against Computer Programming 56%, or whatever. You get the idea." 

Hacker is a step sideways for Zaibatsu and Hostile. There are already solid systems for cyberspace within Zaibatsu? Hacker presents a faster alternative & solid alternative. The rules in Hacker are built for convience & not to slow down your games. There are even two example runs through Cyberspace  with the Hacker rules. 

What Hacker gets right is the William Gibson Neuromancer style experience of Cyberspace. Hacker is a lean & mean set of 2d6 rules for the Cyberpunk 2d6 player out there. 

Sunday, September 24, 2023

OSR Commentary- '83 'Into The Frying Pan' With Frank Mentzer's Expert Dungeons & Dragons set

 So let's pick it up from the other day's blog entry here. So the year is Eighty Three and the revamp of the Expert Dungeons & Dragons set hits the stands. And this was another rung on the ladder of Dungeons & Dragons. Not only do we have total reexamination of Dungeons & Dragons but the PC levels skyrocketed. And the Expert set increased the PC levels from four to fourteen! This was a big deal in '83. 

Mentzer Expert did a bunch of stuff all at once. One it expanded the monsters of Basic and built on those. Then we got new treasures, and magic plus an update with a Tim Truman cover of X1 Isle of Dread. And Expert also brought the Wilderness into a huge role in Mentzer Basic/Expert. This shift from simply dungeons into Wilderness adventures added a whole different dimension to the grand game. 

 And Mentzer further refined the B/X rules building on Moldvay/Cook while adding his own spin to the rules. Frank Mentzer brought a different feel to D&D. There was module and with the Dungeons & Dragons Basic set there was enough here to do a campaign that could last for years. 
And Mentzer Dungeons & Dragons had a different feel to it. There was lots of new blood in the hobby in '83. For us it meant that we could begin to carve out are own little niche of the Isle of Dread. As I said Mentzer Dungeons & Dragons was far more mainstream and no where was that more evident then in the Eighty Three Sears Christmas catalog where both Mentzer Expert & Basic were for sale. Soon we saw far more gamers enter the hobby. Expert had a alot going for it.

  1. Expert was literally the next rung of the levels of Dungeons & Dragons adding levels four to fourteen. 
  2. The Wilderness opened up to every group of players adding in a place where the monsters dwelled. 
  3. Mentzer Expert D&D was easily understood by the average 12 to 50 year old. The rules were clear and concise. 
  4. The stakes became higher in Expert with the introduction of X1 The Isle of Dread.
  5. Mentze Expert  D&D  easy to design home brew adventures or use easily accesible modules for the game. This was because the PC's levels were on point with published modules. 
Mentzer Expert Dungeons & Dragons preparred players for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. And this started a love affair with BECMI Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. 

Urban Hunt - Lamentations of the Flame Princesss & Wretched New Flesh Second Edition Adventure Idea

 So this morning I began to look deeper into a discussion that we had around the table top about Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg.  And we were talking about the fact that someone once described LoFP as an 'OSR horror rpg disguised as a retroclone'. Now this put me on the trail of using LoFP for a modern horror game. And in various OSR Facebook groups LoFP has become 'the forbidden rpg game' of choice. Mostly because of the controversies surrounding James Raggi IV & his authors. Which has absolutely nothing to do with what we're gonna speak about. Now specifically I want talk about the magic users or wizards in LoFP. 

Wizards at first level get the spell summon. Summon can gate in just about anything literally into an OSR game. We've used this with Castles & Crusades and many other OSR games. 
When the summon spell is cast then we use the Esoteric Creature generator or the handy generator included in the spell's description. 
And while talking about LoFP we sorta fixated on the idea of some high school or college age NPC junior occultist in one of our Wretchedverse rpg campaigns. 
And this is the case with Wretched New Flesh Second edition. 

Wretched New Flesh second edition is available through 
the Red Room store, and

Imagine if you will that some rebellious teen or college age student gets a hold of an occult or esoteric scroll or book with a summon spell. And opens a door into the supernatural world summoning who knows what into the  mega city of  Avalidad. And here's where the PC's get called into the situation by Zontec. And then the PC's have to pick up the mess and grab this young man or woman before 
he or she unleashes something even worse! 

Friday, September 22, 2023

OSR Commentary - '83 Baptism by Fire Frank Mentzer's Dungeons & Dragons Set 1 Basic Rules

 Let's pick it up right from here on the blog. Eighty three was a very good year because it brought out Frank Mentzer's Basic Box set and this was a huge leap forward in some respects. Frank Mentzer built all of the parts & pieces that had been introduced within B/X as well as previous year's Dragon magazine articles. 

What Menzter Basic did was three fold, it cleared up and clarified the D&D rules. It took other existing material and edited it for a new generation of players. And it made Dungeons & Dragons accessible to the mass market. You might not think so but lots of new players in Eighty Three entered the hobby because of this box set. 
For us Menzter Basic was another incarnation of the grand game. And therefore another edition to play with. We had started with original Dungeons & Dragons. Mentzer was different ball of wax. The rules were a bit more streamlined and clarified. 
The set had a different feel then previous editions and character generation was slightly more consistant. These were observations of fellow gamers and hobbyists that I've talked with. 

Frank Mentzer's Dungeons & Dragons Set 1 Basic Rules were a completely different take then previous editions not in terms of content. But in terms of where the editions were available to us as gamers. I saw my first Mentzer set at a K&B toy store and was blown away. And I also saw a set at War & Pieces in West Hartford Connecticut. The grand game was now far more readily available then in previous years. Moldvay & Cook Dungeons & Dragons always seemed to be only available in hobbyshops & the speciality shop in Connecticut. Mentzer was in Sears Christmas catalog. 
Mentzer Dungeons & Dragons seemed to have several things going for it. 
  1. Mentzer Dungeons & Dragons was readily graspable for the ordinary hobbyists or beginner. 
  2. There were enough bones in the Basic set to get the player going deeper into the hobby. 
  3. Mentzer D&D was easy to understand and therefore easily accessible by the beginning player. 
  4. Mentzer D&D was the set up for the one two combo of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. 
  5. Mentzer D&D was also easy to design home brew adventures or use easily accesible modules for the game. 
Mentzer D&D was the gateway drug into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons for so many of us. And this started a love affair with BECMI Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. 

Tegel Manor - Worlds Without Number & Cities Without Number Rpg - Beware The Cybernetters - Session Report - Legion Facility

 The PC's managed to beat back the bandits last game session and found out that they were actually guardian  androids. The party tracked the Cybernetters to an unknown facility along the Great Lakes. And then we flipped to the other operators who were in the facility. They awoke in a cybernetic operations theater & they managed to free themselves right after the android guards came in! And they ran! 

This facility along the Great Lakes ties back into the one that we see in GW1 Legion of Gold! And the other operators who were crawling along the lake shore in the marshes ran smack into a group of muntant braves from the White Feather tribe. The two parties managed to come to terms fast in the dark just as another two cybernetters were leaving the facility. 
The mutant NPC's & the party then broke into the facility through a duct leading into the swamp. The White Feathers tribesmen are looking for thier breathen scouts who were kidnapped by the cybernetters. 
The PC's entered another part of the Legion's cybernetic chop shop and came face to face with innocent  mutants & humans in Cryo. The party also came face to face with a White Feather scout party who about to be turned into Legion warriors. The party managed to free them and get them thier weaponry and equipment that was nearby. 

The party's cybersneak and thier secondary decker Lunatic Leo wanted to jack into the mainframe of the facility to download valuable intel. And the rest of the party including the White Feathers thought this was a really bad idea. We had another player join up our party who was a straight up "Thundarr the Barbarian" style  barbarian. 
And the other party had been crawling through the duct work & the operators came face to face with a facility cyberworm! And this led to the party falling through a grate into another part of the facility. More Cryo stasis tubes and literally hundreds of frozen mutants. Here's where 

Issue #75 of Dragon magazine, 'Mutants, Men?, & Machines' By Roger E. Moore came into play again where the operators came face to face with several mutant species that they deemed valuable. Holograms were taken, information was downloaded, and then they were attacked by facility androids! And this is where we ended for the moment. 

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Stars Without Number Game Session Three - Phaseworld & Trey Causey's Strange Stars Campaign - The Circus, Circus isn't What It Used To Be Session Five

 The crew of the Lakota ditched Mr.Hight from last session, but this is hardly the end of the meddling proto humanoid. The crew docked at Circus, Circus and mingled with the crowds to re equip. The last round with Mr.Hight had put a damper on thier ammo as the bastard had drained all of thier weaponry's energy cells. As you'll recall last game session here. 

The PC's got involved in a 'Quickling' gambling game which is one part race & two parts sport. The Quicklings wanted to get the party involved but fortunately the party's resident problem solver 'Yup stepped in. This 'game' would have involved the party living in the Quick's acellerated time contnum & this involved pre mature aging on the PC's part. 
The PC's were actually on Circus Circus to meet with an Erato party & purveyor of pleasures to help set up and deliver the holo & sensory equipment for tonight's festivals. Also getting paid was an added bonus. The party met with Mrs and Mr. Anderson two cloned bioroids. Again Yup stepped in a made sure that the pheoro chemical clouds that surrounded the Andersens didn't affect the party in an adverse way. This was so the Andersen's didn't wiggle out of contract.

Acroyear by Pat Broderick

And then the Alliance agents showed up to 'interview' the PC's about a new contract. The hyehoon agents were getting a bit too nosey for the PC's taste and were turned away. The party also left messages with another Alliance representive about thier agents.  The party got rooms at Circus Circus and posted thier Cybersneaks inside the Lakota. All of the while the party kept in constant contact awaiting thier Engineer gun & weapon smith. He made his way to the PC's table and they spent a small fortune on new equipment and saw the floor show. But now the PC's have been summoned to the room of Mr. #@#!@% whose got a new job for them according to the mafia boss's agents/brain cells. 
Once again 
 Trey Causey's Strange Stars. And his OSR Strange Stars  rulebook have  been getting quite the workout! 


First Impressions Of The Wretched New Flesh - Second Edition Rpg By The Red Room

"Wretched New Flesh - Second Edition RELEASED! Now available at the Red Room store,

and . Wretched New Flesh transports players to a dystopian future inspired by the dark visions of William S. Burroughs, David Cronenberg, William Gibson, JG Ballard and Clive Barker. "

"This surreal future-noir roleplaying game setting combines elements of cyberpunk, biopunk, and psi punk to create a nightmarish world where libertarianism and unchecked corporate power lead to decadence, violence, and oppression. 648 pages stock full of new setting information and expanded rules (hacking, forensics, investigation, city building, etc)."

Wretched New Flesh - Second Edition Rpg was sent to me by it's authors the other day. And WNF 2nd is a six hundred & forty eight page beast of an Rpg. Wretched New Flesh takes place in the not so distant future or is it?! This is a surreal Science Fictional and Fantasy universe with a Neo Noir asthetic. And Earth as we have known it has changed in dramatic ways. According to Wretched New Flesh 2nd edition; "In this alternate reality, instead of reintegrating the International Zone territory (formerly administered by France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States) back into Tangiers, the Moroccan state made a deal with an international conglomerate of several corporations interested in investing in northern Africa." Now imagine that the future of Earth is controlled by some of the most evil and dangerous corporations to manufacture the world in which we live. The world of the mega city of  Avalidad has changed & expanded.  
Basically, the newer incarnation of the  Wretched Rpg rules have been back incorporated into the 
Wretched New Flesh - Second Edition Rpg, and most of the optional Wretched New Flesh optional rules have been reigned into the newest incarnation. And best of all it's 99.0% cross compatible with all of the other Wretchedverse rpg titles.

But is it worth grabbing The Wretched New Flesh - Second Edition Rpg?! In a word oh yes! The Red Room has pulled out all of the stops and the mega city of  Avalidadis even more dangerous. You've got new factions, back compitability, new takes on monsters and NPC's, old NPC's upgraded, dangerous cracks in New Flesh's reality as the Beyond takes hold. New threats, and old threats threading thier way through the adventures within the mega city of  Avalidad. The powers & princedoms of the Beyond have been upgraded as well. There's lots and lots of changes to the Wretched New Flesh setting that we know and love. 
Is Wretched New Flesh Second edition actually usable?! In a word yes! T
he mega city of  Avalidad can host anything from OSR super heroes to surreal horror plus more! 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The HOSTILE Situation Report 009 - Extraction - A Zaibatsu/Hostile Mini Campaign On Colony World - Tau Ceti Session Report 5

 Right I haven't been on Facebook in two days because of real life however when I logged on this morning Paul Elliot had sent me the latest Hostile Situation Report #9 - Extraction. The set up goes something like this; " The mining colony's a bust and the company has decided to pull out. The lawless colonists will be left to their own devices, but behind a screen of frightened soldiers, the last four corporate executives need to be extracted from the landing field. Oh, and don't forget the final shipment of precious endopalladium waiting in a warehouse nearby. You've accepted the contract... but when you arrive you realise the situation is anarchy... Now what? " 

These events pick right up from here on the blog with the PC's meeting up with the bounty hunters from last game. The party were invited along with the bounty hunter's party for the extraction which was taking place in the Tau Ceti system's mining colony. 
Yes we're changing the venue but keeping the gist of the world; " In the Hostile setting, this world is LR806 (FOM 0806), orbiting the binary suns of 81 Pegasi. It is a dry, bleak little world, with scattered lakes and a mining population of 12,000 that, following a plague and then a famine five years ago, descended into controlled anarchy" 
So we're keeping the bleak little world and the lakes with the colonial population. And the colonial population is at the breaking point. The PC's are scheduled to meet up with the creepy android scientist NPC from last session. 
Things have broken down on Tau Ceti five  colony because of Chinese corporate efforts including sabotaging the grain and food stuffs of the colonies. Colonists are mad, bad, and very desparate! 

And this leads into the PC's working with the Coldwell group who are   the September group's rivals. I rolled these NPC's up using Zaibatsu & Moontoad publishing's Bounty Hunter's Handbook.The Coldwell Group is modified for working on the harsh enviroments of Tau Ceti Five & the dangerous environs. This includes the horrid parasite that drives men mad when it burrows beneath the brain stem of the victim. And yes this totally a homage to Star Trek Wraith of Khan. Hence why the creepy android scientist is there again. We'll get into Roddy model of android next time. 

Monday, September 18, 2023

Further OSR Monster Thoughts On Horde Wars Basic D12 Rpg System By Blackwall Games

 To tell the truth I've been dropping the ball on Horde Wars Basic rpg as of late. Sure we reviewed Horde Wars  here on the blog. And Horde Wars Basic is an excellent game & my only reserve about has been being able to put time aside to spend more time with it. The D12 system is very well defined & Horde Wars itself lays out the rpg rules very nicely. And one of the things I love about Horde Wars Basic is that it's a complete game unto itself.

Monsters are actually highly dangerous and able to hold thier own against adventurers. Take for example the Zombie Runner; "
Zombie Runner [Monster] Defense: 6 Hit Points: 12 Land Speed: 7 Combat Spaces Size: Medium Fitness Reflexes Senses Willpower +3 +3 Protection: Blunt, Cold, Umbral Immunity: Disease, Paralysis, Poison, Toxic Perception: Standard Skills: +4 Athletics, +2 Combat, +2 Investigate, +2 Stealth Traits Flanker You deal an extra die of damage against Creatures that are adjacent to you and at least one of your allies. Undead You ignore Morale. You do not need to eat or breathe and cannot benefit from Healing. When you are reduced to zero Hit Points, your body falls apart. Actions Bite [Natural Weapon] Make an Attack for 1d8 Toxic Damage. If you damage a Creature with a Critical Hit, he gains a level of Affliction. Claws [Natural Weapon] Make an Attack for 1d10 Slashing Damage. You score a Critical Hit on an Attack Roll of 11 or 12." The D12 system make it really easy to get the PC's into the action. and those familar with the 'world's most popular fantasy role playing game will be on similar but not quite the same ground. Key differences between D&D style  games and Horde Wars Basic is that Horde Wars has it's monsters and NPC's with loads of flavor. 
There is a campaign setting baked into the midst of the monsters, treasures, etc. all with the Horde Wars confines. Monsters have umbridge when it comes to adventurers. The adventurers are set up to face the monsters and NPC's within Hord Wars Basic. The monsters and NPC's of Horde Wars Basic have agency and reasons to harm adventurers. Plus there's expansion of the treasures and artifacts belonging to the monsters and NPC's. Giving further agendas for interactions between the adventurers and the monsters.  More to come! 

Sunday, September 17, 2023

OSR Review & Commentary On Hawkmoor Geographica -- A Shadowdark Campaign Setting By James Mishler, & Jodi Moran-Mishler For Castles & Crusades, Labyrinth Lord, & Shadowdark RPG

 "Hawkmoor Geographica describes the geography of the Great Enchanted Vale, a campaign setting designed for use with the Shadowdark RPG."

"It is the second installment in the Hawkmoor Campaign Setting and includes:

  • Descriptions and encounter tables for 70 geographical regions of the Great Enchanted Vale, including Accursed River, Aerie Stream, Alicorn River, Alicorn Vale, Black River, Boneholt, Cliffs of Insanity, Doomfells, Dreadwood, Druasweald, Druidholt, Dwarrowbergen, Edhelwen, Enchanted River, Fireswamp, Frogmarsh, Frostfields, Gigabolt Stream, Giggleflow, Glitterstream, Goblinskull Meadow, Goblintops, Goldflow, Grayflow, Great Alfweald, Green Vales, Hawkmoor, Hellflow, Horrible Highlands, Howlingwood, Mt. Icingdoom, Indigo Plain, Ironflow River, Jundian Meadows, Madmarsh, Obsidian Peaks, Ogrish Uplands, Old Dwarf Road, Orcian Wastes, Orcrise, Pagena Plains, Plateau of Pagena, River Icingdeath, River Jorn, River Jund, River Kelume, River of Doom, River of Flowers, River of Lost Souls, River of Shadows, Scarlet Stream, Screaming Stream, Silverstream, The Sink, Skullmire, Star Ruby River, Stardust Ridge, Stonethorn Plain, Sweetwater, Talath Meril, Thunder Peaks, Toadsquat Fields, Vile Stream, Violet River, Viridian Doom, Weeping River, Windrush, Witchyflow, Wizard Vale, and Woodflow.
  • D100 Random Encounter Tables, each including 100 lines of encounters with guidance, for Farmland Encounters, Fey & Sylvan Encounters, and Highway Encounters.

"This booklet provides you with everything you need to get started adventuring in the Great Enchanted Vale. Of course, at this broad and shallow level of detail, the Game Master still needs to do some work to make the setting their own. More details on the City and realm of Hawkmoor will be made available as they are revealed."

 Hawkmoor Geographica -- A Shadowdark Campaign Setting By James Mishler, & Jodi Moran-Mishler is a sweet forty eight page campaign world that we saw with the with the release of  The Map of the Great Enchanted Vale is available separately, at the Pay What You Want rate. 
With the poliferation of Shadowdark titles on Drivethrurpg the Hawkmoor Geographica campaign setting belongs in classic Castles & Crusades or classic Labyrinth Lord rpg. Hawkmoor presents a world in conflict and ripe with adventure locations. And this makes it rife for use with classic Castles & Crusades. 

The Hawkmoor Geographica campaign setting has everything a party of adventurers need to begin thier quests and adventures in the wilds and urban locations of a world. There are vast tracks of wilderness, vales and garden locations and more. 
Enchanted highlands, low lands of mystery, and more. The Hawkmoor Geographica campaign setting does this within forty eight pages allowing the action to press on with little to impede it. And it continues with just enough to get things started. But not enough to trip up the DM who wants to make Hawkmoor thier own. 
And because Hawkmoor is easy to port over to C&C, it's the perfect location to start adventuring in today. 
The fonts are easy to read, the text and font are easy on the eyes. Layout is standard and well put together. 
Hawkmoor has some history behind it but not enough to trip up the DM or players. And unlike other titles this one has just enough campaign setting to make things well worth your time with adventure hooks and dungeon plots in the wings. All this within forty eight pages makes t
he Hawkmoor Geographica campaign setting well worth your time.