Wednesday, August 30, 2023

First Impressions & Review of Cities Without Number Rpg by Kevin Crawford

 "The world is neon and dust.

There is nothing more than the flesh. There is nothing greater than the wires. There is nothing to dream that is not sold and nothing to worship that is not made. It is a mirrorshade world of human reflections, every red hunger and every black passion worshiped in cathedrals of glass and greed. The great love their sins like children and the least want only to be great. Who could hope for more?"

Cities Without Number is a cyberpunk role-playing game built for sandbox adventures in a dystopia of polished chrome and bitter misery. It's both a full-fledged Sine Nomine toolkit for building a cyberpunk world of your own and an Old School Renaissance-inspired game system for playing out the reckless adventures of the desperate men and women who live in it. Whether polished metal or flesh and blood, your operators will risk their lives and more to seize those precious things a merciless world would keep from them.

Cities without Number rpg has finally been released to the public but the backers of the Kickstarter have been watching this rpg's evolution for sometime now. And it's a beast of a pdf clocking in at two hundred & fifty six pages of pure Cyberpunk rpg. Cities without Number  pretty much does it all, Cities has great layout, excellent fonts, and a solid B/X OSR  tool box approach to it's material. 
Cities is completely cross compatible with Worlds Without Number, Stars Without Number, and Godbound as well as other Sine Nomine publishing rpg product. And Cities has been in development for months now. As a Kickstarter backer for this project we've been at ground zero for development. Take note other OSR publishers this is how you run a kickstarter. You get your gamer's feed back, take on board opinions, and more then turnout a great product. 
There's already a Cities Without Number: Free Version rpg which has the following in it by Kevin Crawford: 

  • An old-school inspired game system that's fully compatible with the sci-fi Stars Without Number game and its fantasy sister-game Worlds Without Number
  • Cyberware and sophisticated high-tech gear suitable for chroming the most discriminating cyborg and equipping the most refined of street operators
  • Playability-focused hacking rules designed to give hacking-focused PCs useful and important things to do without forcing an entire separate mini-game on the GM
  • Gear rules for drones and vehicles, to better equip PCs who want to bring a little extra iron on their next mission
  • System-neutral Sine Nomine worldbuilding tools for helping a GM create their own custom cyberpunk world or elaborate the details of existing worlds and settings
  • Gang, corp, and city district creation tools for fleshing out your world with people and places that fit
  • Fifty Mission Tags for adventure creation, plus guidelines and step-by-step procedures for handling facility infiltrations, managing local heat, selling loot, and other activities beloved of corp-hating street scum everywhere
  • The default campaign setting of the City, a premade backdrop to help you get into the game as quickly as possible
And Cities does exactly what it says on the package able to deliver the goods in no time. And does it in style. And Cities can easily be combined with Worlds Without Number to bring you a Shadowrun style Cyberpunk fantasy with little issue. 
And the paid version is even better with more tools and cybernetic goodness;"

In the deluxe edition of Cities Without Number, you'll also be getting...

  • Cyberware quirks and features for particular megacorp product lines
  • Variant gengineered human types for PCs who don't fit the baseline mold
  • Optional rules for the psychological strain of Cyber Alienation
  • Optional rules for cheap street cyber, for those campaign settings where every goon with a knife has some wire beneath his skin" 
  • Spellcasting, spirit summoning, and magical items for GMs who want to add a dash of magic into their cyberpunk world
This also means that Cities can be used to turn any of your favorite B/X 'World's Most Popular' Rpg adventures into cyberfantasy adventures. And this goes a long way towards getting incredible mile out of modules such as 'B4 The Lost City' where perhaps the other levels contain more then merely a lost race but city blocks of lost cybernetics and net running to thier favorite old school adventure modules! 
Anyone whose been reading this blog knows we've been running Trey Causey's Strange Star campaign setting books. Cities is a perfect supplement to use with Strange Stars because of the transhumanistic elements of this OSR campaign. 

So is Cities without Number rpg worth getting?! In a word, 'oh yes!' if your looking for a solid set of Cyberpunk rpg OSR tools that is capable of creating a campaign to call your own? In a word, yes. This book is worth every penny! 


Grey Days - Wretched Space( Revised ) & Orbital Decay One Shot Mini Campaign - Session Three - Something to Bug You With

 So last week The Red Room released Wretched Darkness Second Edition  & this caused a bit of a stir among my players. Let me explain the crew of the USS Victory is made up of 'special operatives' of the Federation. Many of these include those suffering from supernatural conditions. Now the player's wanted  upgrade thier PC's to second edition Wretched Space & Wretched Darkness. There weren't deep changes but enough to the factions to make these changes necessary. And this session report picks up right from here! 

All was quiet on the Hercules and then the player's PC's heard talking?! The PC's rounded corner & came face to face with a space pirate party & they were loading artifacts onto a floater skiff. The players PC's were about to engage in melee when they heard a distinctive howl! 
And the players came face to face with a very large and dangerous Bug! How the Hell did that get here?! The bug in question actually came out of Nightowl Workshop's Colonial Trooper rpg's Knight Hawks! 

And the bug in this case was the size of two buses and this will give you a bit of scale when it comes to the Hercules space hulk. The melee was scrapped and space pirates plus the party beat feet as the party's two Loup Garou PC's played with the bug to allow the party to escape. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Paranoia & Sentries - Hostile Rpg Campaign Updates Involving - White Dwarf (Issue 30 - Apr 1982) & Zozer Games Kosmos 68

 Call me a time traveller but tonight we were looking into White Dwarf issue #30 and two articles popped out. First can we talk about that distinctive cover artwork on White Dwarf 30 Cover by Nicholas Bibby? Biggy's  interesting & old school Brit Science Fiction artwork crosses the lines from Fantasy into Science Fiction. And before I forget happiest of birthdays to Marc Miller! 

"Androids in Traveller" - A bio-engineered career for Traveller By  Roger Moore brings a different sorta of career to classic Traveller. Roger Moore is of course the guru who would go on to stoke the fires of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the orange spine days into second edition. His game prowess is not respected today. For Hostile rpg this career is a bit more windy and not the straight forward path that we get in today's Cepheus Engine powered 2d6 games. 'Androids in Traveller' is where the ideas were spawned so to speak.
Technically speaking we could substitute this article for the PC generarion rules within Hostile. But why?! There are already a Hostile Synethics book?! Because you may want an alternative NPC path for your Andies or artifical persons. 

The real appeal for issue #30 is the 'Starbase '- "Ideas for Traveller" sources for Traveller adventures  by Bob McWilliams. And these ideas could be used for other android production facilities. And this relates back to our on going Soviets of the September group. And this involves the fact that perhaps the Soviets have super secret bases & production facilities where they are producing human like androids that not even the adverage citizen is aware of. Perhaps these androids are in point of fact even a bit more advanced then thier Hostile corporate counterparts.And these units might actually be inserted into the ranks of the SePo. The better developed careers of "Androids in Traveller" reflects the more 'human like' android units. 
And this might lead to the fact that these SePo are teamed with a larger calibered robotic unit for a 'one to combo punch' of security. And one of paranoia where rumors of psionic SePo and special units are the norm rather then the exception. 
What does this mean for the September group?! The fact that there may be operatives among thier ranks that they may or maynot be aware of! 

S7 Stains Upon The Green, Adventurer, Conqueror, King Rpg, & the Borderlands Campaign - The Red Tide & Dark Wizard games module number #6 The Moving Maze of the Mad Master!


So let's pick up from right back here on the blog. And let's talk about the Red Tide setting for a moment which is for a Labyrinth Lord campaign with a sorta East Asian flavor. And this setting could easily be tied into both  "Stains upon the Green"' & Dark Wizard games module number #6 The Moving Maze of the Mad Master! DW#6 is actually an island encounter with the PC's with mad master's maze infront and red mist at their backs! 

With Red Mist decimating many of the lands & islands surround the mainland. The mad master has taken full advantage of this by stealing into the domains & lands of the Dwarves. And making out with many of thier ancient constructs & constructions. Not only this but the villainous bastard may have in point of fact mastered the highly dangerous copper rings of  "Stains upon the Green". This brings things full circle where the Dwarven nations have lost everything. 

Last blog entry we mentioned X1 The Isle of Dread.  And I said ,'Now imagine for a moment that the Red Mist threatens X1 The Isle of Dread. '

Well imagine it because this ties in with the isle being on the border of the plane of water.The red tide is both a chaos and paraelemental forces of nature. And our mad master has been using his knowledge of the pheneomana and mechanisms to pluck players from across the planes for his maze. And if he's on an island surrounded by the red mist then he's got a captive audience for his maze. 
But there's far more too it then that. The forces of Chaos have no idea what they've unleashed and the Shui from the Red Tide setting are in dire straits. Not only are the humanoids in trouble but they can come under the influence of the red mist itself. Once this happens they are completely lost! Lost to the Chaos influence that the red mist represents.  This corruption goes back to the fact that the forces of Chaos from B2 Keep on the Borderlands By Gary Gygax have no idea of what they've unleashed on the world. 
And this comes down to the mythology not only in Red Tide but also could in point of fact threaten not only this world but Earth or other plane Primes as well!  And only those Dwarves who have come from thier holds and been taught the information in By This Axe: The Cyclopedia of Dwarven Civilization. Some of these Dwarves who are in the Red Tide setting have been broken and represent a huge threat to anyone they run across. 

The mad master represents an external threat to the PC's. But the red tide represents a universal threat to existence. And why complete Dark Wizard games module number #6 The Moving Maze of the Mad Master? Because of the fact that because the mad master took full advantage of the Dwarven magic technology it may have the answers the player's PC's seek to fully stop the red mist or not?! Then there's the fact that if the PC's use the Dwarven gate they might stumble upon the secret that copper gates represent leading them into the backdrop of S4 The Dwarven Glory. 
We'll get into the hows & why's next time and how this module ties into the Borderlands! 

OSR Review & Commentary On Barbaric! 2nd Edition by Omer Golan-Joel For 2d6 Cepheus Engine Powered Rpg's and Old School 2d6 Science Fiction Rpg Campaign

 "Barbarians! Civilized men huddle behind tall stone walls, trembling at the thought. The soldiers of civilization tighten their shield walls against the oncoming onslaught. And then they come. Savage men and women, screaming at the top of their lungs, oblivious to fear, frothing at the mouth from rage and lust for war. Wave after wave, they storm shields and fortifications. Many die; the pagan gods bless their souls. But eventually, mail and castle fail. Then, the flames of barbarism will sweep the land, leaving no stone unturned!

Sword and sorcery tales speak of cunning thieves, power-hungry sorcerers, and, indeed, barbaric warriors. This game – Barbaric! – lets you play such heroes. Or, more often, anti-heroes. Pit your sword-arm and knowledge of eldritch secrets against ravaging bandits, scheming nobles, diabolic demons, mighty dragons – and, ultimately, the rotten and ugly face of moribund civilization itself.

So, pour your drinks, devour your pizza, turn up the volume of your favorite heavy metal album – and prepare to become… Barbaric!

Barbaric! 2nd Edition is a lightweight sword & sorcery ruleset perfect for convention games, one-off adventures, and mini-campaigns where easy-to-learn rules and fast play are preferred. It includes:

  • Simple skill-based task resolution!
  • Lightning-fast but highly customizable character generation!
  • 20 sword & sorcery character Archetypes!
  • Brutal combat with varied combat maneuvers and murderous critical hits!
  • Dangerous sorcery - risk your soul to gain vast eldrich might!
  • 36 deadly spells!
  • 50 fearsome monsters!
  • Unique treasures for your barbarians to loot!

All in a mere 63 small pages!" 

What's New in the Second Edition?

  • Character archetypes to round up your character rather than Traits.
  • Streamlined character defense to reduce calculations in combat!
  • Streamlined and deadlier damage system for more dramatic combat!
  • Revised sorcery, moving away from d20-fantasy cliches - all spells are now powerful and flavorful, and all are equally risky to cast! No weak spells anymore!
  • Revised and much more flavorful magical items - all based on the new spells, and all with full creation rules for aspiring artificers!
  • Faction rules to make the campaign world feel alive - and let players establish their own guilds and mercenary bands!
  • New and better layout and art!

Barbaric! 2nd Edition is compatible with Stellagama Publishing's Cepheus Atom post-apocalyptic rules. Mutate your barbarians! Arm them with laser rapiers! Bring dark sorcery to your post-apocalyptic wasteland! Also compatible with Stellagama Publishing's Quantum Starfarer - take your barbarians and sorcerers to the stars!

Barbaric! 2nd Edition by Omer Golan-Joel is a lean beast of a game clocking in at sixty three pages of Cepheus Engine Sword & Sorcery goodness. Full disclosure I bought Barbaric! 2nd edition as soon as it was published. 
 Omar Golan Joel is no stranger to OSR Sword & Sorcery. He's the co author of 
Adventurer Conqueror King System: Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu from Autarch LLC along side Alexander Marcius. Also the co author of  Cepheus Engine powered Gargolye 74 So the man knows his OSR Cepheuse Engine poweredd Sword & Sorcery rpg's. And this is exactly what Barbaric! 2nd Edition is a Sword & Sorcery add on rules set for any Cepheus Engine or 2d6 powered rpg  system. 

Barbaric! 2nd Edition does in sixty three pages what other games do in 263 pages. That is present a compatible and solid supplement that works with other 2d6 rpg powered games. Now there are tons of applications for Barbaric! 2nd edition and these include failed colony worlds, worlds that have suffered the return of magic, etc. 
What makes Barbaric! 2nd edition unique is how all of  this comes back into very fast PC generation and how the entire lot is quickly slotted into the 
Cepheus Atom post-apocalyptic rules set. This gives the DM & players a quick beer & pretzels game capable of supporting a 2d6 Thundarr The Barbarian style game. 

Barbaric! 2nd edition takes the system that we've seen in Stellagama Publishing's Quantum Starfarer. And then pushes it into a Sword & Sorcery gaming convention. And while it is similar to the 'world's most popular fantasy' rpg. Omar has  moved away from the White Box tropes by a. making the magic more dangerous and b. making the combat really nasty! 
And this new Barbaric! 2nd edition combat system is both cinematic and spot on for the Sword & Sorcery genre. Combined with Cepheus Atom the results are far more flavorful then I was expecting. Is Barbaric! 2nd Edition worth getting?! In a word? Yes if your looking to add in a really nasty and highly dangerous combat &  magick system that emulates the look, feel, and systems of Sword & Sorcery in a 2d6 rpg format this might be for you! 

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Things Dragonic & Monsterous in OSR & Castles & Crusades rpg Campaigns - Dragons

  • Casiodorus Rex: Did you ever hear of King Gaiseric? Oh no, of course not, you weren't even born. He was my brother, a great King and a valiant man-at-arms. When he ascended the throne, the dragon was unbridled. No one knew where it might strike next. So, he brought forth his broadsword, assembled his best company of fighters and went out to do battle. He was never seen again. But his attack provoked the most terrible reprisals: whole villages incinerated, entire crops burnt, death, famine... horrible. How did you arrogate to yourself the role of 'savior'?
  • Galen: I was invited.
  • Casiodorus Rex: Not by me! I think you're nothing but a boy... an apprentice!
  • [rips the amulet from around Galen's neck]
  • Casiodorus Rex: Have you ever considered the consequences of failure?
  • Galen: WHAT failure? What are you saying, do you want the dragon back?
  • Casiodorus Rex: You came here and toyed with the monster! Who are YOU, to risk our people? Our villages?
  • Galen: But your children were dying!
  • Casiodorus Rex: Only a few, does that sound cruel? It is better that they should die that others might live. I created the lottery!
  • [General murmuring of agreement among the King's court]
  • Casiodorus Rex: Me! And from the moment it began, the dragon was tamed! The kingdom has prospered!
  • Galen: At what price? You can't make a shameful 'peace' with dragons. You must kill them as I have done."

Dragonslayer 1981 

 So let's talk dragons in the OSR and specifically what makes the dragon such an incredibly good choice for an NPC. Dragons are the fundatmental 'spoke' for the wheel of a campaign if done correctly. These creatures are literally forces of nature and balance within a campaign. And this of course goes hand and hand with Castles & Crusades Mythos Collection.  If you grew up in the Sevenities then you probably saw Smaug in RankinBass's Hobbit '77.  This incarnation of the dragon with the gold and silver coat had that vulnerability of the one weak spot. But it was the interaction of dialogue dialogue between Smaug &  Bilbo Baggins, that tickles my memory. 

And it wasn't the raw power of Smaug & believe me I'm not taking away from the Hobbit films,  An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). Not at all instead we're pulling from what my memory pulls on. 
And then it pulls on 
"Vermithrax Pejorative" from the '81 film the Dragonslayer. Both of these dragons were central figures and an invasive part of thier worlds respectively. And if we look at the Castles & Crusades Mythos Collection.  then we get a sense that these dragons are creatures that are pivotal monsters  capable of affecting the lives of hundreds of people. So before one takes up the mantle of dragon slayer not everyone is going to be happy with this outcome. Even the most evil of dragons has it's place. 

"Vermithrax Pejorative" is a prime example of a monster and dragon all in one in 1981's Dragonslayer. Sure it has a deal for sacrifices from time to time with the local kingdom. However, she has her own agenda to bring back her own reign & spawn to this kingdom. Even though she has no lines in the film her presence prevades every aspect of life within that kingdom. And the same can be said for the dragons within Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure

And this is even further held in OSR lore with Adventurer,Conqueror, King's Rpg The Heroic Fantasy Handbook. The dragons within this tome are created from the ground up allowing the DM to literally build the fantasy NPC heroic or villain of thier Draconic choice.

Dragons are never one note creatures, thier deaths should and must have far reaching consquences across a campaign.Dragons are creatures of legend & mythology. They should never be treated as simply another set of experience points. And this goes back further even with Mayfair Games Roleaids Dragons which was one of the first AD&D products that gave us a defined ecology for the lands and lairs surrounding dragons. And yes there were 'The Dragon' magazine articles that had sprinklings of draconic lore. For me this one gave some great depth to the dragon as monster & creature. 

My main points are that dragons are deadly NPC's and monstes all in one. They should be treated with incredible respect by DM's before being unleashed into a campaign. And the ecology of the dragons are far reaching with incredible consquences for the peoples, the lands, and more of a campaign.