Monday, October 28, 2013

The Blazing World


Acheron is a barbaric science fantasy setting based on reading but never actually getting to play Dark Sun back when it came out. I just started a regular campaign set in WRESTLEVANIA (excatly what it sounds like) but this is the kid of BS I think about running on the side. Some of these names have appeared before in my chronically half-assed blogging career. Here are a few facts and rumors:

The Tyrant Sun used to be Lawful until the Anti-Solar League corrupted it with their lies. Now it is a phasic nuclear chaos that hates us all. An illegal society of lawful Clerics is trying to build it an artificial heart in the hopes that it will love us again.

There is no rain. All water comes from a subsurface glacier called Gammafrost. This has given rise to a vast, incomprehensibly detailed system of Slaves-for-Water trading between the city-states of the surface and the subterranean cities of the Anti-Solar League.

At one point there were thirteen Sorcerer Kings, but war has reduced their number to seven; four dwell on the surface, three underground. All of them are complete dicks.

The Sorcerer Kings got where they are in life by killing gods. Slavery and genocide aren’t a big deal once you start slaying gods.

The caustic winds and mutagenic fields of the Radium Desert are spawned by the decaying corpse of a dead god eternally decomposing at its center.

The surface is lousy with saurian creatures until nightfall. Then the undead hordes of the Ghul Khanate come out.

The Last Forest is an oddly noble name for what is actually a toxic, fungus-infested shithole.

There is a forested moon. Weird things live on it.

There is a slave legend of a Free City but no living slave seems to know where it is.

Metal is rare and mostly salvaged from the orbital rustbelt. Goblins are the dominant force in salvage and metalsmithing.

Apart from the obvious Dark Sun inspirations, the principle influences at work are Bronze Age comics, Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit, Professional Wrestling, Metal, and a Troma-sized helping of gore, potty humor, and amateurism.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder: a spoiler-free mini-review of The Last of Us.


The Last of Us is a really great video game about post-pandemic America. It’s also a perfectly written story about being a man —one that makes good on promises that stories like The Walking Dead or the film adaptation of The Road failed to keep.

Audiences have come to accept Hollywood’s reliance on spectacle to obscure its own mediocrity. And because of that, stories this engaging are too hard to come by. We find ourselves in a near-constant state of having to mentally fix stories in order to love them. 

In response, The Last of Us is almost anti-epic. Its apocalyptic themes are really just set dressing for a small, visceral, very human story. The questions it poses are complex and it understands that you’re smart enough to answer them for yourself. And the merciless brutality of the world it depicts confirms every suspicion that the minutia of life in the Western world might be just that.

I don’t have children, and it would be preposterous for me to claim that a PS3 could provide any real sense of what paternity must be like. That said, last night I awoke suddenly from an exhausted sleep, and in a moment so elusive that only its absurdity prevented it passing from my mind, I wanted to check on Ellie.




Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Brought to you by the Yummy Gorgon Snack Food Company



As a clone, your genetic material is versatile enough to make biological upgrades fun and easy! Insert credits and let's get started.
-instruction panel, Chemi-Cola vending machine.

Chemi-Cola is a DNA-enhancing snack drink made by the Yummy Gorgon Snack Food Company, a subsidiary of Alamo Industries. The drink is effervescent, refreshing, and mutation inducing. It comes in ten flavors, all of which are quite popular among blue-collar clones. The effects of a ten-ounce last 1d6 turns.

Let's see what's on the menu:

Tri-clops: A third eye sprouts from the forehead, providing 60’ Infravision.

Extra arm: Allows an additional attack every 1.5 rounds.

Digestive upgrade: Any organic matter (including corpses) can be safely consumed. Also provides a +2 bonus vs. Poison.

Emergency Cardiac System: An additional heart grows inside your bod. If you’re reduced to zero hitpoints while this chemical is in effect, your backup heart comes online for 1d6 emergency hit points.

Chest Face: Your head collapses into your bod. Meanwhile you grow a giant face across your chest, preventing most decapitation situations.

Clobberin’ Time: Your skin hardens into calcified dermal plates. +2 to AC, -2 to DEX.

Iron Lung: You can close your lungs against vacuum or toxic atmos. You only need to breath once per turn as long as you don’t speak.

Barf Bag: Allows you to projective vomit 1d3 times. The ten foot, cone-shaped blast has the same attack properties as Green Slime.

Brutal Sex Organ: What it says on the can. No mechanical effect. More of a role playing thing, I guess.

Rubber Neck: Your bod becomes stretchy and pliant, and you can squeeze through tiny spaces as if you were 1/4th your body size.

Note: repeated exposure to Chemi-Cola is known to produce addiction, insanity, and permanent mutation. Please drink responsibly. Not suitable for children under 3.



Monday, March 4, 2013

The Tears of a Clone


Vat Goon
Requirements: INT and CHA cannot exceed 10
Prime requisite: STR
Hit Die: 1d8

Welcome! You and your vat brothers are the property of Alamo Industries, Inc. Our award winning proprietary genetic recipe, as well as this brief training video, will prepare YOU for an exciting career of hard labor under harsh planetary conditions. We’ve also supplied you with a diminished prefrontal cortex to relieve you of complex burdens such as moral decision-making or feelings of existential worry. Happy birthday!

-orientation video, Alamo Industries.


Vat clones (often called Goons) fight and save as Fighting Men. They have large simian frames and sloping foreheads. Their dense musculature and heavy skeletal frames give them a +1 bonus to unarmed combat.

Goons are always male, and are decanted in groups of nine. They are bred for unfailing loyalty to their corporate sponsors, but recent events (i.e. a full-scale galactic apocalypse) leaves them without purpose. Thus, many take up the adventurer lifestyle either out of boredom or the need to pay for chems.

Cloning is expensive, thus the corporations responsible for their production usually install a recovery protocol in their DNA hack. Any time a Goon PC is killed, the nearest clone brother will be alerted to take his place and carry out any remaining assignment. The new clone is telepathically alerted to the location of the corpse and will show up by the next game session.

When the new clone arrives, randomly choose an attribute (using a d6) and reroll it. If you end up breaking the INT or CHA requirements, your new clone is free to choose another career path like Science Priest or whatever.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hex Descriptions for a Map Undrawn.



Hex XXXX: gene bandit hideout. This gang of 66 clone brothers possess bad attitudes, primitive weapons, and a bad case of genetic drift. They're led by The First Hatched, a 6HD puddle of DNA with psionic abilities and a vaguely human face.

Hex XXXX: Phasic Swamp. A brood of Pennangalans dwelling amongst the giant Mangroves are said to possess an IOUN stone.

Hex XXXX: Radium desert. Hidden deep in this red waste are several entrances to a vast fungal arcology thriving beneath the planetary surface. However, roving clouds of sapient nano-pollen make finding them difficult.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

D12 Things What Just Fell Out Of The Orbital Rust Belt.


for Carcosa and other barbaric space fantasy games.



1. An alien sarcophagus. The mummified remains have been replaced by an unconscious Space Princess, who climbed inside in the hopes of surviving planet fall.

2. 1d6 undead Rocket Men. Their suits are still intact and largely functional if you can get the current owners out of them.

3. The damaged AI core of the HMS Balrog, soon to be worshipped as a deity by your local tribe of subhuman creeps.

4. An unshielded chunk of reactor core that will go all Colour Out of Space on your shit for the next d4 weeks.

5.The gigantic corpse of a Flame Aurochs. A crazed Space Berserker will cut his way out of the corpse d4 rounds after impact.

6. 80 liters of Jale Ooze. This shimmering puddle of nano-goo attaches itself to the nearest life form, assimilating their mass in 2d6 turns but also providing a +5 bonus to their AC for the remaining hours of their gelatinous-armored life.

7. A hive of d8 Insectronauts separated from the Unimind.

8. The massive body of a Space Jellyfish beaches itself on the planet. Local activists gather, pointing and shaking their heads at the cruelty of life.

9. The genetic library of a Space Hulk. The gene seed has been corrupted by Gamma radiation, resulting in actual green skinned Space Hulks.

10. An enormous robot large enough to serve as a decent-sized dungeon. Several large hull breaches provide entrances.

11. A hillbilly family of Space Prospectors forced to ride a piece of Space Junk down to the surface when their salvage operation went off the rails. Space Pa is friendly enough as long as no man touches his beautiful Space Daughters.

12. A time-displaced Fighting Man from the Terran Federation. He hopes to recruit able-bodied adventurers to escort him back in time so he can assassinate himself and thereby prevent the return of the Great Old Ones.

Friday, February 22, 2013

In which several life cycles converge to reveal a collective destiny

Last night I'm hanging out with a few of the players in an upcoming game. Bourbon is consumed, and a startling fact arises.

None of us has ever actually played Keep on the Borderlands.

Actually, that's a lie. I've played it, but I've never run it. The rest of them haven't played it. Yet.

It's probably the bourbon, but I am suddenly vaguely aware that this is my dungeoneering destiny.

A tiny lightbulb sparks to life somewhere inside my skull. 

Everything is going to be okay.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Island

I added a few more updates to the D100 Rumors about Island of the Unknown. I'm starting a new tabletop game soon (first game in a year!) and I feel like it might end up taking place on the Island. Some of the new entries are a bit on the weirdo side since I felt like the previous 60 or so were leaning a bit too far into the melodramatic side.

Anyway, there are ten spots left if anyone else wants to add to it.

A hexcrawl might be a bit sprawling for this, i'm not sure yet. If I don't end up running something set on the Island, I might settle on ASE, which I think kind of straddles my needs for gonzo weirdness with  what most people think of as D&D. And I love big ass dungeons. AND I'm not that good at map design, so it might be a good option.

I need to pull the trigger on one of these soon. Your experience with either Isle of the Unknown or ASE would be worth hearing. EDIT: Solved in next post.

I've also been working on a notebook-only barbarian space fantasy setting idea that I'll start sharing soon but I'm trying to keep focus on what I need for the actual gaming looming ahead.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Everyone's a critic

So, yeah, new 0e set. It looks cool and all, and the price point isn't that mind-boggling to me (even though I think they'd do better at $99), but seriously why change the covers?

Personally, I love crappy art. And before you tell me I'm full of shit, let me explain what I love about it:

From "dumb" art (Encounter Critical), to hyper-stylized juvenilia (Prison Pit, Superjail! detention hall Trapper Keeper doodles), to "Are-you-actually-certain-you're-right-handed?" (0e), there is a kind of punk immediacy, a fanboy democracy to crappy art that -to me- perfectly telegraphs the zine-style, we're-makin-shit-up-as-we-go methodology that must have surrounded the creation of the game. Arneson and Gygax were cavemen with crayons. Despite any intent of professionalism on their part, the rules are weird, primitive, and inspiring. The art matches this.

I realize that the art on those books is on a distant end of the acceptability spectrum for The Modern Gamer, but what is gained by changing ONLY the covers? Why change what are -in pure technical points- the least crappy illustrations of that edition?

Perhaps, to use the vernacular of my professional industry, there is a deeper, more surreptitious brand message at work here. By updating the covers, WOTC is telling us "We respect the roots of our hobby and our responsibility as stewards of the brand and therefore we've fixed these shitty products and by the way if you like this stuff you're going to love our next wave of exciting products designed to bring the game into the 21st century!"

I don't actually believe anyone is saying that, but the subtext is clear. What I'm actually saying here is that the new cover art doesn't inspire me to break out a Black Flag record and play a fighter name Dudelord. So, like, total missed opportunity yo.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Nargaloth Jackson

Githyanki Barbarianaut drawn on the back of my bar tab tonight. Trying to get my shitty drawing mojo back in 2013. It's gonna be an ugly road.

Secrets of the 16th President.

The lurid truth behind Lincoln's presidency is has remained a secret -UNTIL NOW!

D16 ESOTERIC RUMORS ABOUT AMERICA'S STRANGEST PRESIDENT:

1. The man shot by John Wilkes Booth was just one of a number of Life Model Decoys used by President Lincoln. One of these clockwork automatons is even rumored to have delivered the Gettysburg Address. A few of these machines have continued to function well into the 21st century, and one is currently on display in the Hall of Presidents at Disney World in Orlando Florida.

2. Lincoln faked his own death in an attempt to confound the Theosophical Society during the height of Helena Blavatsky's clandestine war against the U.S. Government.

3. It is said that the President used psychic attacks to dominate the actor John Wilkes Booth into shooting him, after which he laid for many months in a state of shamanic trance while his astral body conquered Mars.

4. Abraham Lincoln spent much of his youth calling himself a "Vampire Hunter". In truth, all he really did was chop up a lot of innocent people with his magic axe. The Whig Party declared it a simple case of 'boys being boys' and made up that vampire thing as a cover story.

5. Lincoln went totally Phasic in 1900.

6. Some time around 1920 Abraham Lincoln experienced a sudden growth-spurt, bringing him to a towering 28 feet tall. Giant Abe rampaged through Washington for nearly a week before a coven of Medusae were brought in to deal with him. His petrified remains are now a popular tourist destination.

7. His famous stove pipe hat actually contained a head-mounted prototype of the gatling gun. The President was said to be fond of squeezing off a couple rounds at the bar while screaming "Four score and seven beers ago, motherfuckers!", much to the dismay of the dancing girls.

8. was totes down with the ganja.

9. "A.B.E. Lincoln" was actually a composite identity created by three identical triplet brothers born with dwarfism. Aloysius , Barnabus, and Eduardo would stand atop each others' shoulders, and would take turns playing the head. Almost no one noticed.

10. The 16th President secretly diverted treasury funds to back a number of crime fighting vigilantes, including the Lone Ranger and Zorro.

11. He was banned from every re-entering the Scientific City of Murania after a voter fraud scandal.

12. Abe grew the beard after an expedition in to an Aztec tomb left his face ravaged by Mummy Rot.

13. Lincoln was actually a random hick possessed by the vengeful spirit of Martin Van Buren.

14. Abe loved to strut around the Lincoln Bedroom wearing heels and a whalebone corset, much to the embarrassment of Mary Todd.

15. "Honest Abe" is a nickname earned during his witch hunting days, and arises out of a reputation for being able to torture the truth from even the most sinister acolyte of Satan.

16. The copper used in pennies is a direct spiritual conduit to the Ascended Abrahamic Overmind, and allows the entity once called Abraham Lincoln to scry any room or pocket containing one. This is why the Treasury will never phase them out.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tomb of the Riff Lord

Am I the only one who thinks this would make an awesome megadungeon?