Friday, June 30, 2023

Events Align - OSR Commentary - Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #0 Village of the Borderlands Kickstarter & The Hyperborea rpg 'Borderlands' Campaign


"… you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires."

"Beyond the Black River" (1935) Robert E. Howard 

So for our 'Borderlands' campaign 
 Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #0 Village of the Borderlands works very well. And I'll tell ya why. The village is the perfect target for raiders. And let's pick up right where we left off here on the blog. So the valley is completely artificial and everything about the valley in MMD#0 points to the fact that it's a perfect target for raiders. The fact that the royals of the area have dropped the ball on protecting it and a dark influence of Chaos has moved into the area makes me think of B2 Keep on the Borderlands?

That old time religion of Chaos actually. The Caves of Chaos stirring up all of the local humanoids and if combined with MMD#0 Village of the Borderlands  then we've got a real issue. 
And that issue is the fact that the raiders are already within the Borderlands! The Caves of Chaos gives us this fact in spades. 
Now given this fact and the villain within #0 Village of the Borderlands then we have the complete motivation for this. The destablization of the Borderlands and it's environs. 
So not only do we have the motive for the forces of Chaos within B2 & MMD#0 but we've got means. 
Whose behind the whole sale grind of these events?! 

"Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph." 

"Beyond the Black River" (1935) Robert E. Howard 
For the Hyperborea rpg? There really doesn't have to be a huge big bad persay. If we include events from let's say Adventurer, Conqueror, King's 
The Sinister Stone of Sakkara. Then things become much more dangerous. How? Because the fall of the royals within such a campaign goes from being merely a coincidence to a full on conspiracy. Here the humanoids are the hand of Chaos & Chaos influence is deadly. 

Such a campaign as this one will carry PC's from level one right on up through to say at least 5th level or beyond. But we are only getting started. 

Thursday, June 29, 2023

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

The DM is always playing the 'back game' in a Sword & Sorcery campaign. 
The back game is the second game that a dungeon master is always playing. The research, writing, prepping, & learning that goes into making a successful campaign. Today I zipping around Twitter as I sometimes do.

I came across my friend  Jeffrey Talanian 's Tweet;
"The back cover of AS&SH, featuring art by Charles Lang. In his foreword, Stuart Marshall wrote, "This is no world of epic, heroic fantasy. Weird fiction was always on a smaller and more personal scale. In heroic fantasy, you’re trying to save the world. " "...In weird fiction, you’re mostly just trying to prize the gem out of the statue of the spider-god’s eye socket. Success is survival with increased wealth."
The Astonishing Swordsmen & Scorcerers of Hyperborea rpg traces its own roots from not only the weird fiction of the Thirties but also the Sixties & Seventies Swords & Sorcery literatures. According to the wiki entry on Swords & Sorcery; "In his introduction to the reference Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers by L. Sprague de Camp,[9] Lin Carter notes that the heritage of Sword and Sorcery is illustrious, and can be traced back to mythology, including the labors of Hercules, as well as to classical epics such as Homer's Odyssey, the Norse sagas, and Arthurian legend.

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

OSR Commentary - Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #0 Village of the Borderlands Kickstarter & The Hyperborea rpg

 So we're coming up on the closing days of my buddy Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #0 Village of the Borderlands. But was captcorajus's video review of #0 Village On The Borderland that I watched last night that has my imagination churning for all things the Hyperborea rpg. 

MM#O  Village On The Borderlands doesn't seem like a likely Hyperborea rpg adventure. But in actuality there's more then enough material here to turn 'the Bordlerlands' into a viable Hyperborean campaign  land. How?! Simple put two words volcanic springs. 
That's right the Borderlands sit right on a specific vein of Hyperborean volcanos this enables the Borderlands to be put into Hyperborea easily as it's own stable paradise. But how does such a place even exist? Because the whole valley and the borderlands are actually artificial. 
Who created it? Who knows but fact is that in the harsh environs of Hyperborea this place would be seen as a paradise. 
Combined with B2 The Keep on the Borderlands and MM#0 is beyond a campaign and a viable mini campaign unto itself. 
The fact is that such a land within Hyperborea could help explain the constant attacks by the forces of Chaos. 
And this could help to explain the forces of the Caves of Chaos suddenly having such a push into the surrounding valleys. 
This push may be because it's a matter of survival for the humanoid tribes. 
Winter maybe coming and the forces of Chaos know this by both rote and instinct. 

The valley in MM#0 is a perfect example of the type of adventure  homage done right and yet has the significance to really pull the PC's into a postion of leadership within the volcanic valley. A place of legend where food grows in the ground. Yet I believe there's a lot more happening here then at first meets the eye.  And we'll explore that coming up very soon. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

OSR Commentary On Clark Ashton Smith's Clark Ashton Smith's White Sybil, The (1932)

" Tortha, the poet, with strange austral songs in his heart, and the umber of high and heavy suns on his face, had come back to his native city of Cerngoth, in Mhu Thulan, by the Hyperborean sea. Far had he wandered in the quest of that alien beauty which had fled always before him like the horizon. Beyond Commoriom of the white, numberless spires, and beyond the marsh-grown jungles to the south of Cornmoriom, he had floated on nameless rivers, and had crossed the half-legendary realm of Tscho Vulpanomi, upon whose diamond-sanded, ruby-graveled shore an ignescent ocean was said to beat forever with fiery spume."

"He had beheld many marvels, and things incredible to relate: the uncouthly carven gods of the South, to whom blood was spilt on sun-approaching towers; the plumes of the huusim, which were many yards in length and were colored like pure flame; the mailed monsters of the austral swamps; the proud argosies of Mu and Antillia, which moved by enchantment, without oar or sail; the fuming peaks that were shaken perpetually by the struggles of imprisoned demons. But, walking at noon on the streets of Cerngoth, he met a stranger marvel than these. Idly, with no expectation of other than homely things, he beheld the White Sybil of Polarion."
We're going to pick this right up from here on the blog Clark Ashton Smith's White Sybil, The (1932) is one of the most important tales of the Hyperborea Cycle because it shows us an avitar of the death, and destruction of  the Hyperborean Age. Tortha, the poet is exactly the type of bardic character whose come across the influence of a Lovecraftian and deadly entity that will come to mark the end of an era. Tortha's pursuit of the White Sybil of Polorian is the pursuit of madness and insanity almost at his own destruction. This entity will come to mark the coming of the White Worm later on and the end of the Hyborean era. Tortha is a perfect bardic NPC before or during his pursuit. Because of the fact that he's seen and been around so many marvels of the Hyperborean age PC's could seek him out in his current condition or in the ages before his pursuit to gain his wisdom. 
For Stormbringer rpg parties of adventurers Toritha is a perfect off beat NPC that could offer to guide the PC's to some of the marvels he's seen on CAS's  Hyperborea. 

For the Hyperborea rpg itself he's a great NPC to impart some piece of forgotten lore or bit of mythos about this once great kingdom now lost too the ice. And Tortha represents the madness that one finds in the pursuit of Lovecraftian horrors. And make no mistake that the White Sybil is exactly that an avitar of the White Worm made from the souls of the descarded citizens of a thousands lands of the ice. 

Monday, June 26, 2023

OSR Commentary On Expanded Dragons By James Mishler Games For Shadow Dark rpg But With Castles & Crusades Leanings

 "Expanded Dragons is a new system for generating dragons for the Shadowdark RPG.

The Expanded Dragons system enables the easy creation of six types of dragons of 1st to 20th level of power."

"The following subsystems are included:

  • Core system, including determining Age Category, Level, Type, and Alignment.
  • Determining Base Dragon Stats.
  • Determining and applying Random Modifiers to Stats.
  • Determining Base Statistics.
  • Determining Dragon Talents, applying modifiers, and noting any special abilities.
  • Determining Dragon Magic spells, if possessed.
  • Determining Dragon Treasure.
  • A sample dragon, complete with a breakdown of the use of the system, is included.

"This version of Expanded Dragons is designed specifically for use with the Shadowdark RPG, and is unrelated to and completely different from my earlier Expanded Dragons book, which was designed for use with Labyrinth Lord."

Expanded Dragons By James Mishler Games couldn't have come at a better time because this is perfectly suited for Castles and Crusades as an alternative to the dragons of the C&C system. Not only do you have a whole sale revamp of the dragons of the worlds most popular rpg but you got a great resource to bring new twists on the dragon myth in other OSR systems. And this is where Expanded Dragons takes a few unexpected twists. This includes full looks into Dragonic magic and treasures. These are easily applable to Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasures. 

Expanded Dragons By James Mishler Games magic, artifacts, and background could easily make a marked appearance in a C&C campaign where you've got the PC's seeking enchanted weaponry such as those that are going to be found within The Adventurer's Armory. We already know what's going to be in the book so dragons are going to need all of the help that they can get. Mishler games brings that advantage. 

  Dragons should be in my mind be highly unpredictable as suits monsters of legend and myth. These are monsters of legend and lore, Mishler Games does an excellent job of bringing more options for the dragons to take far more leadership positions. And this is something that we've also seen in other OSR products such as Adventurer, Conqueror, King's Heroic Fantasy Handbook. However Expanded Dragons let's dragons be dragons within a C&C campaign or other OSR campaign. The dragon here is a force of nature and magick a creature of both creation, destruction and even horror. Dragons as thier presented by Expanded Dragons are creatures worthy of being called Dragons. 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

The Reach of Magic Tienne d'Ambreville's Influence - Mystara's 'Mark of Amber' and The Castles and Crusades Rpg

A land of darkness, where all the enemies defeated by the Prophet brood. Yet, these heathens possess a disturbing degree of knowledge in the science of nature and magic. No doubt, a knowledge derived from the gifts of demons.” Hakim ibn Yezeed al Nisr, Dream of the Desert Garden University, Ylaruam
The Mystara Wiki Glantri entry here. 

  If we have look deeper into the after events from after the  'Mark of Amber' then we have a wholly other timeline for Clark Ashton Smith's Province of Averoigne & the Glantri. Because 'Mark of Amber' allows the return of one of the most powerful immortals changing the landscape of Mystara. 

Mark of Amber presents a very strong Glantri alternative timeline & into this is going to step one of the most powerful of the Mystara Immortals. And here's where the Castles & Crusades Gods & Immortals is going to come in handy. Why?! Because this immortal is right on the cusp of gods of magick and wisdom. 

These alternative timeline witches, wizards, and magi are going to be some of the most dangerous foes that Castles & Crusades players can face. Why? Well Glantri isn't to be taken lightly and converting over a few NPC's into Castles and Crusades who want to hire or even murder the PC's could be the way to go to get the PC's to realize just how dangerous Mystara's nation of wizards is. What does this have to do with Clark Ashton Smith's Province of Averoigne? Quite a bit as the alternative timeline power of Glantri is going to be embolded to begin expanding it's power base in spades. PCs could begin running into Glantrian agents in very unexpected places?! 
Over the years we've mentioned running into Glantrian agents as hirelings but this is really the tip of the iceberg once 'Mark of Amber''s timeline kicks in. You could see Glantrian wizard and witch hitsquads, adventurers, and more on opposite ends of dungeons. And they could begin questing for various 
Province of Averoigne artifacts, spell books, and more. Some of these have been lost to the winds of time and the sticky fingers of other adventurers. And this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Glantrian interests aboard and across the planes as we shall see. 

Saturday, June 24, 2023

OSR Commentary On Clark Ashton Smith's Clark Ashton Smith's The (1932) Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan

So we've been reading through the Hyperborean cycle by Clark Ashton Smith through those sweet Ballintine collection. And a few Sword & Sorcery thoughts occur in my head. 

Let's pick the Hyperborean thread from back in May on the blog & let's get back to the back of beyond and the frozen lands of CAS's Hyperborea. Here's a pro tip give the beggar a dollar or a good tithe because you never know when it can come to bite you in the end. That begger in the street may be far more then he seems or at least he is in the CAS story; ""Give, give, O magnanimous and liberal lord of the poor," cried the beggar.

Avoosl Wuthoqquan, the richest and most avaricious money-lender in all Commoriom, and, by that token, in the whole of Hyperborea, was startled from his train of reverie by the sharp, eerie, cicada-like voice. He eyed the supplicant with acidulous disfavor. His meditations, as he walked homeward that evening, had been splendidly replete with the shining of costly metals, with coins and ingots and gold-work and argentry, and the flaming or sparkling of many-tinted gems in rills, rivers and cascades, all flowing toward the coffers of Avoosl Wuthoqquan. Now the vision had flown; and this untimely and obstreporous voice was imploring for alms.

"I have nothing for you." His tones were like the grating of a shut clasp.

"Only two pazoors, O generous one, and I will prophesy."

Avoosl Wuthoqquan finds this out exactly in Clark Ashton Smith's Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan, The (1932). For our purposes the money lender found out exactly what kinds of unholy horrors dwelt within the jungles and temples of CAS's Hyperborea. And there is a certain sardonic wit and wisdom to his ea erm meeting with the Smithian god within the story. The take away reminds me of Michael Moorcock's demons and dieties within the Eternal Champion mythos. What Clark Ashton Smith's Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan, The (1932) is establish that the lands of Hyperborea are ripe with the divinity of the Lovcraftian gods of the Hyperborean cycle.
And the other thing is that the Lovecraftian gods of the Hyperborean cycle are very active taking vengence and sacrifice quite nicely on thier own. And this makes the old school versions of adventures set on CAS's Hyperborea all that more deadly. Accepting strange jewels from strangers can be indeed very deadly and dire. 
Avoosl Wuthoqquan is an interesting character unto himself. He's not simply a money lender but one of 'the' money lenders of Hyperborea. He's immesily corrupt and slightly guillible but at the same time obviously a very ruthless character. He'd make a Hell of an NPC before the events of The (1932)  Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan. There's a lot that CAS implies within the story. There are networks and guilds of thieves throughout Hyperborea and they have taken a heavy toil that calls the gods themselves to take a hand within events. 
And for a Stormbringer rpg party this opens up the opportunities to actually have a few adventures within CAS's Hyperborea. Just a bit of food for thought. 

So not only could this work out for a Stormbringer rpg campaign set up similar to what we spoke about on the blog here.  Could there be a time travel element that could really screw with OSR Hyperborea rpg players as well?! Hmm 

Friday, June 23, 2023

Review & Commentary On The free Bi-Ethnic Characters of Hyperborea Phamplet By Ben Ball For the Hyperborea Rpg

 When it comes to the Hyperborea Rpg, I've been lacking in cohesion with the OSR game itself. And over the last couple of days I find myself drifting back to her. Why?! The most recent reason is the newst download from that creative ball of OSR Sword & Sorcery fire Ben Ball. If you haven't heard of Ben it's becasuse he mostly stays to the background even though he's the author of  'Beneath The Comet'. Among the Hyperborea rpg community Ben is well known. And one of Ben Ball's most recent rpg additions to Hyperborea is the free Bi-Ethnic Characters of Hyperborea.

For the Hyperborea rpg and setting this is a very important addition to the game of Sword & Sorcery. Why? Because of the fact that it's now possible to have more customized racial options to the Hyperborea rpg game. 
And this is a big part of the setting. While 'Old Earth' withered away the human race crossed over to Hyperborea after the Green Death. This makes it possible to add in unique pocket cultures to the expansive Hyperborean setting and even to add even more options for player's PC's. 
Bi-Ethnic Characters of Hyperborea is a nice little short and sweet additon that allows the DM to have more options for NPC's. Mixing & matching human types might not seem like a big deal. When you've got players who are constantly asking what happened to Ixian group that migrated to area 'C' of Hyperborea it's nice to have options. 
The set up here in Bi-Ethnic Characters of Hyperborea is simple you have several human style racial mixatures that allow one to have other genetic variations  such as hair, eye, etc colour. Doesn't seem like much but it adds a world of difference when you've got Roman, Keltic, etc. all interacting on a huge floating disk in space. Having additional PC & NPC races for PC's is a Lovecraftian god sent and one that comes as a welcome. 

OSR Review & Commentary On The Wretched Époque rpg By The Red Room For The Wretchedverse Rpg Setting & Other OSR Campaign Settings

 "Wretched Époque takes place in the period known as the Belle Époque, which is dated between 1871 and 1914, ending when World War I started."

"This is the time and the fictional place where Umberto Eco’s Simone Simonini – the most cynical and disagreeable character in the History of literature, as the author meant him to be – crosses paths with Jacques Tardi’s Adèle Blanc-Sec, Edgar Allan Poe’s Chevalier Auguste Dupin and Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin, amidst anarchist bombings, the echoes of the Dreyfus affair, the catastrophic side effects of secret societies conspiring in the shadows and the mysterious results of experiences conducted by mad geniuses. Not yet pulp, not quite historical, it is neither the right time nor the right mood for Steampunk or Dieselpunk, this is the time of Nouveaupunk."

So Wretched Epoque rpg has been in desparate need of a 2nd edition & we got one from the Red Room. And according to the blurb we got a lot more then we bargained for; "In this revised edition, Wretched Époque has transformed from a standalone game into an immersive setting. As such, to fully delve into this world, you will require the Wretched Role-Playing Game core book, an alternative set of OSR rules, or even another type of role-playing game system.
Within these pages, you will find not only a seamless integration of Époque with the new Wretched mechanics, but also an abundance of enriched content. Explore the Belle Époque era across the globe, unravel the intricate web of nefarious adversaries and factions, and discover an array of plot hooks and game mastering hints." Does  the Wretched Époque rpg hold up? We'll The Red Room sent me the pdf file and I sent it on to my printer. Why?! Because for the better part of a year or so I've been working on my own Wretchedverse rpg campaign. More on that another time.
First thing I love the new clarified A.I. art cover which makes the rpg book pop. The
Wretched Époque rpg is massive coming in at around 346 pages of Wretchedverse lore. And there's a ton of it and it centers around the pre World War I world. The amount of detail here is massive and well laid out. We get lots of details with old familar Wretchedverse fiends and friends making appearances. And more. Of course Eqoque Paris is the center of the universe and Europe at this time. The layout and presentation is up to Red Room standards. The world of Epoque one of stark contrasts.

Bare in mind that my copy is B/W because it was cheaper and this is a table top copy. Paris and Europe are a powder keg at this time but this is when the good times were rolling before the spectre of WWI destroyed the world scene. The old guard of Europe are in charge. The occult and the supernatural are on the rise and secret societies are out in force. Yet below is the ghosts and horrors of criminals and cut throat gangs like the Apaches.
And it's this world that the players can be a part of in cuts between those stark contrasts. They can profit or become forces of evil within the 'City of Lights' or other parts of Europe. Yet, the Wretched Époque rpg  thrives on it's setting in spades from madmen to mad science the world is ripe for adventure. 
Not only is this world of Sherlock Holmes but the world arch criminals ready to put the PC's heads on a stake to make a point. The Wretched Époque rpg  also thrives on under world manuevers where the vampires and horrors of Paris clash with the powers of the Beyond in the streets of the 'city of lights'. The shadows of the cities of Europe are deep and abiding. They hold horrors both alien and ancient. And it's these themes that make the Wretched Époque rpg  unique among contemporary OSR games. The Wretched Époque rpg  is a well done and well thought out game that does an excellent job of tackling the Epoque era. And it's one that I certainly look forward to gaming in. 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Demon Dogs! Gamma World Second Edition, Dragon Magazine #97, and Cepheus Engine - The Further Outline of A Post Apocalypse Campaign

Let's pick this right up from June 21'st blog entry here  & go deeply into a Thundarr The Barbarian style of campaign with Gamma World and Traveller or Cepheus Engine rpg resources. I know my friend Omar Joel is going to be kicking off Barbaric Two coming up on Kickstarter coming up here.  So for magic I'm going to be using Sword of Cepheus & Cepheus Atom.  
Now if we we start gazing into the classic Saturday morning cartoon Thundarr The Barbarian then we've got the perfectly recognizable Gamma World resource. All we have to do is add in Barbaric and we're ready to go! 

Now the Savage Afterworld blog has the World of  Thundarr The Barbarian sourcebook for Mutant Future available for free and it's pretty easy to adapt for our purposes into a Classic Traveller/ Cepheus Engine Thundar/Gamma World campaign. 
So why go the 2d6 route?! Why not? The 2d6 system can handle the world of Gamma World/Thundarr easily. Given the number of episodes of Thundarr with a space theme such as the classic episode 'MindokThe Mind Menace' it stands to reason why not go with a classic system that can handle the artifacts/technologies/weapons of the world of Thundarr. Why? Because the mutants and monsters of the wasteland would be quite valuable. 
Back in Dragon magazine issue #97 the Ares section had the article 'Rogues of the Galaxy' by Igor Greenwald for playing criminal scum of the galaxy perfect fodder for creating NPC antagonists! NPC's who are looking for a quick buck to sell some mutants and monsters for gladatorial games! 

Reading through Dragon magazine May '85 sure brings back some memories and these scum of the galaxy are perfect for inflicting on our heroes of the wasteland. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Gamma World Second Edition, Dragon Magazine # 109, and Cepheus Engine Journal - The Outline of A Traveller Campaign

 We're thinking of doing a Gamma World/Traveller or Cepheus Engine game campaign. This style of campaign might be a wee bit different using classic Era TSR mutants & modern OSR resources. One of our past Traveller campaigns we had to stop a group of bounty hunters who were kidnapping humant  mutants for a corporation for study. In Dragon issue 109 in the Ares section they had 'The Double Helix Connection  Mutants In Traveller Gaming  " By Michael Brown 

When it comes to classic Gamma World there's a ton of options if the game is added into classic Traveller or Cepheus Engine campaign work. 
For thecorporate bounty hunters this Moon Toad Publishing's Bounty Hunter's Handbook is perfect for this. Add to this the Rokke Class Research Vessel is perfect for marine mutant research.  Gamma Terra is perfectly open for exploitation by the corporations of Traveller or Cepheus Engine. Could the Cryptic Alliances actually be a survival tool to generational raids by corporate forces?! 
Given the frontier aspect of both classic Traveller & Cepheus Engine's Clement Sector. There's lots of possibilities for both a Gamma Terra or a failed colony world like it. 

The wastelands of such a colony world are going the most places that player's PC's can visit. And could such a world is actually one of the places that is desparate need of law enforcement?! This brings up the the issue #008 of the Cepheus Journal with it's take on the Space Patrol. 

But what if there are far more inhuman forces that have used Earth as a laboratory? Cold and passionless eyes that are far beyond the pale of mankind?! These forces could be the Martians outlined from the issue #008 of the Cepheus Journal. The vast mutation and whole sale new style of animals that inhabits Gamma Terra fits Norton Glover's Martian's goals; "The Martians have two goals: First, to make Earth more habitable for Martian colonization. Second, to use the animals of Earth as a new food source. This includes humans of such a world. Going back over the Dragon magzine Ares section there's a few ideas that would have to be evened out before such a campaign comes together. The players would have to be really onboard with this before taking it too the play stage. 

Monday, June 19, 2023

Coursing & Crawling - More Commentary On - Runequest Cities A Generic Role Playing Supplement

Now let's pick it up right back here on the blog with Runequest Cities.  But what makes Runequest Cities so damn useful for Sword & Sorcery OSR and BRP games?! When it comes to Stombringer Rpg cities, the Runequest fourth edition's Runequest Cities is an excellent resource and one that is especially useful when round out the Sword & Sorcery's Young Kingdom. Why?! Because between adventures there's a catch up system that allows Stormbringer & Elric adventurers to have events outside of the dungeon. Even in the description says so;" The Fourth Edition of the Cities supplement from Midkemia Press was brought into the Avalon Hill/Chaosium Runequest series as a generic sourcebook. This served as one of a number of AH Runequest supplements in their "Gateway" series, intended to broaden the RQ system beyond the Glorantha setting." 

"From the publisher:
RUNEQUEST CITIES: the natural arenas for fantasy roleplaying adventures, city events are the most interesting, city dungeons the deepest, city biways the darkest, city dangers the most invidious, city activities the most tempting, and city rewards the most fabulous.
A unique guide to urban possibility, RQ CITIES includes clear instructions, more than 60 tables, additional dozens of sub-tables, and many illustrations and silhouettes.

RUNEQUEST CITIES: Entertaining, systematic, indispensible.
  • Challenging Encounters
  • City Populating Procedures
  • Character Catch-Up System" 

As I stated my own recent experience with Runequest Cities has been Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg. Where the PC's are between adventures and need to have experiences on thier own terms many of which have gotten rewoven through back play and the like into the Borderlands campaign that we've been doing on and off for years now. The Borderlands is rich with several Bronze Age civilizations and societies. And because of the very nature of Runequest Cities we were able to bring to life many of the lesser areas around the Borderlands to life as minor cities and the like. 
And the same was true with the Young Kingdoms there were minor kingdoms and road  side towns that needed to be fleshed out. And Runequest Cities was a God sent of a product. Many of the plethora of random tables allowed us to flesh out Sword & Sorcery cities without the need for other 'official D20' style supplements. This went hand and glove with many of the ideals that echoed in the aftermath of the D20 implosion.  
Because of it's very nature Runequest Cities is perfect for the Young Kingdoms allowing minor areas of The Sea Kings of the Purple Towns  & Perils of the Young Kingdoms to be filled in with living and thriving areas of vice and trouble across the board. 

Forbidden Rpg's OSR Commentary - How To Run 'Resort of the Dead' In An Invisible College & Wretched New Flesh Post Cards From Aviladad Campaign

 "Zombies, yeah, I know, they have been done to death… But there’s a catch, these are beach zombies. Ok, that was already covered by a few video games. Wait: it’s a George Romero and J.G. Ballard crossover about a Zombie Apocalypse set in a formerly luxurious – but now decaying – summer resort in Portugal during the 1980s. That has never been done, right? Phew, that was a close call! Resort of the Dead provides you with a sandbox-type location and a cast of characters to run your zombie apocalypse scenario. You can use the Wretchploitation rules, or you can run it in other games. (53 pages)"

I'm getting tired of constantly reviewing OSR titles for a while now and we've been working on getting an 'Invisible College' & Wretched New Flesh rpg campaign off the ground. Now according to Resort of the Dead back  blurb; "All around, there are pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, lovely cafés and restaurants, drunken Brits, sunburnt (nearly overcooked) Germans, and obnoxious American tourists complaining, in broken Spanish, to the lazy-ass Portuguese manager about some minor issue, such as the room’s TV set not working properly during the Armageddon. We do understand Spanish here, by the way, but it’s not our native language. Just to make that clear! Anyway, we are here to provide you with the perfect spot to be killed by zombies. Well, not that perfect; the Torralba resort has seen much better days. But at least it’s cheap. However, we’ll screw you over the restaurant bill, and watch out for those cab drivers, too; they’ll rip you off. Welcome to sunny Portugal, have fun being devoured by the undead hordes!" 

So if we go with the 'Invisible College' & Wretched New Flesh Post Cards from Avilidad rpg route then the origin for the zombie plague is easy and concise. A rift into the Beyond  is going be down to a fool of a cult of Typhon member opening a door to let in a necro plague virus life form into our reality. Now in the past I've run the original Resort of the Dead as a one shot and it worked really well with my players. 

The players who were playing 'Blackguards' time/space mercenaries who gated into the resort and had no idea what was happening until they were almost eaten by the zombies. The original game stretched into three or so sessions after I threw in an NPC that had to be saved. The first time we ran it there was a bit of a party wipe. And this is to be expected. If we were to run it now we'd simply have the resort be an Eighties themed resort in Portugal where the guests can get away from all high technologies & this way we can incorporate in Orbital Decay. 

Is Resort of the Dead worth the price of admission?! As a quick one shot to get your PC's into the world of the Wretchedverse?! Yes it is and there are several reasons for this. One it's a very simple and easy to run adventure. Two it's not cluttered by huge back story and required thinking. And three zombies as a rule work on almost every level. 
Pull out  Orbital Decay & then simply switch things around so that the players have no idea that thier gonna be in for the ride of thier lives. We incorporated the 'three lives' rule just like a video game where the player's PC's woke up trapped in a time loop with things counting down in various parts of the hotel in the first 'Resort of the Dead' and this trick works great. 

We also used 'Resort of the Dead' as an opener for Wretched Darkness when the rpg came out. The PC's were trapped as the resorts undead came to activate when the sun went down. An option that scares the Hell out of the players because it doesn't conform to 'zombie rules'. 
We also gated in PC's from 'Wretched Apocalpyse to help replace some that were slaughtered. 
Simply having the player's PC's from the invisible college to close the rift into the 'Beyond' that was causing the zombie plague was another option. This of course was before the nukes fell on the place to keep the horrors contained.