Monday, December 11, 2017

PRODUCT REVIEW: TRANSYLVANIAN ADVENTURES

I was excited to see this when it came out, and I remain excited (some years later) at the prospect of it still coming out.

It nicely ties a simple, flexible system in Dungeon Crawl Classics to some relatively light-hearted Hammer Horror flavored PC options, with a juicy pulpy feel in case you were interested in heroics and Ravenloft-oriented play for your group of DCC gamers

The book is a few fundamental alterations to the DCC Luck and death system, a very very complex PC background system, a good handful of character classes, and some hints at greatness. I wish that the author had followed through with hinted plans to expand it into monsters and setting suggestions, and there is a strong hint that the magic system (sadly hanging still in Limbo) would be pretty meaty and different than what we got in the core DCC book. I devoured the whole thing and went to bed pretty late/early with my eyes bleeding profusely and the names of some ancient evils on my lips.

I would purchase this again - I think I left a review on the day it was published to the effect of some layout issues and typos, and its leanness in terms of setting, magic, and monsters were the things that I found wanting.

I still find them wanting, but it did provide me and us (a loose cadre of crack monster-hunters and treasure-oriented scoundrels) with 20 or 30 hours of great fun, so it was money well-spent, I think. It seems to me that it opened up the DCC field for genre-bending in a way that is proving fruitful even today with the release of lots of 3rd party stuff like Black Powder Black Magic and the Neon City stuff.


Blackest Friday in the Multi-Reality of the Golden Orange Imperatur

It is nearly that time of year, once again. The Shattered Moon drifts lazily in the sky, the winds chill and become thick with ash, the Flumph Herds wend their way Aereth-ward in their majestic migrations, and of course (most importantly!) vendors everywhere reduce their profit margins somewhat to entice religious fervor and dysreasoning in the masses. When we last visited this topic, nigh on 3 years ago, it was an exercise in Gygaxian democracy. At this time, let us put politics and argument aside and point out that what really opens these Kaotic gates across the Land of Thrend and the multiversal Aereth is a weakening of the planar barriers due to a lust for savings. I do not think I put a fine-enough point on it, before. Well, how do we combat this weakening in our own hearts, and in the interdimensional meson-boson exclusionary forces? One way to accomplish it (as is well understood by most laymen and initiates into the mysteries of Science) is to blast these weakenings with Tachyon Accelerators - explosive, rewarding, and prone to obliviate your own great-great-grandfather.  Also, expensive.

Another way is to simply refrain from purchasing things! It's not Austerity, exactly, it's more like self-control for the betterment of causal reality and one's community.

To this end, henceforward, the Golden-Orange Imperatur has ordained, on pain of death, that Citizentities shall refrain from approaching Kaotic Hot Spots for purchases on the post-gratitude holiday. Further, no transactions shall occur between networked, aetherical, astral, or any extraplanar sentiences for purpose of exchange of goods for coin, scrip, or barter.

Tax holidays are NOT in effect, except on Hypersailboats, Spelljammer craft, Keeps and/or Keep components, and cloned Kaiju for registered Kaiju-Brawling agents.

Aleaxes will be deployed if purchases are detected, and Modron armies are en route to interfere with delivery of saleable goods without permit of the Golden OrangeThrone.

REVOKE SALE (4th level M/U - 2nd Level Cleric) - an ongoing sale is suddenly and irrevocably ended, and previous low prices already paid are recanted. The difference between the sale price and MSRP is deducted from the inventory of the PCs

TIERED WEBWAY SUMMONING (5th M/U, 5th Cleric). Summoner may choose individual, preferred planes to summon creatures from, and other planes are excluded within the radius of effect of this spell for the entire duration. One might choose, say, Elysium and the Disney Plane, but not the Sports Plane, except for a substantial, modest upcharge. For the sake of encouraging competition. The Orange-Gold Imperatur makes absolutely no additional moneys above and beyond the usual ones owing to the effects of this spell, except on a DC 4 Will save. His associates and cronies, either.

(I gave up on this crummy post since it got too depressing for me - maybe you can find some worth in it)


GLOGgin' Frostgrave 'n' Shit

i AM SADDENED THESE DAYS BY GENRE PURISTS. I don't know why I need to keep saying this. The same thinking that lead to Dragonlance. The same thinking that took all the fun out of Rogue Trader and turned it into 40K 8th edition, where none of the figures/characters have much in the way of personality but many of them have skulls and pointy bits.

I don't know where I'm going with this. I picked up Dungeon Crawl Classics almost totally since Daniel Bishop's The Thing in the Chimney impressed me so much with its sacred reverence of Dentist Elves and disregard for hard-fantasy tropes. Since then, it's (I mean DCC) spawned a whole lot of great stuff, but I still see a trend toward (in the DCC community on G+ anyways) new folks clinging to 3e and PF ways of thinking, and also maybe can we just agree that a Warforged or whatever the fuck it is could just be an android or a robot (total non-sequitur I know)

It's actually made me shrink away from the DCC people, whereas I am fully aware that I ought to dig in and prevent the steady slide that MCC will surely prompt into (even though the book explicitly says to mix it up) THIS IS FANTASY and THIS IS SCIFI camps.

Anyways, trying to drift away from G+ gaming (keeping a tenuous hold on friendships which are the parts of Google that I do value) and move more toward a face-to-face gaming existence, even though I don't have much in the way of time these days. Joined a local club where we've had a Blood Bowl tournament (Blood Bowl, by the way, has kept its sense of humor for almost the entirety of its run), and this weekend we're starting a Frostgrave campaign.

A nice thing about Frostgrave is that it's relatively inexpensive, totally modular, simple, and nicely incorporates skirmish rules and roleplay-type advancement. And it hints that although the magic system upon which it is based (totally simple BTW) is fairly comprehensive, it also is open to much embellishment, even in the scope of its own add-ons. I mean, every so often in the official add-ons a new school of magic in addition to the regular available ones pops up. Astromancy, for example, is described as a "lost" school of minor magic.  I like this way of thinking, and I will tell you why. It's because MazeRats, Into the Odd, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and a couple of other systems sort of do away with "official interpretations" of comprehensive magic, and sort of let you fiddle with it.

A really good guy in this regard is +Arnold K, who is not only a Muscle Wizard but also a very novelly-thinking and creative dude. He's got a RPG system that is great, but his Wizards system really shines in that it gives one much much leeway in terms of weirdness.

I'm thinking of adding several minor schools of wizardry to Frostgrave, including weird spells and side-quests and such.

Taffimantics
Sewage Enchanter
Sciencology
Coffeetologists
Dentitrics
Black Sous Chefery
The Thousand Paths of Ukulele Magic

I mean, whatever. It doesn't matter as long as it's fun.

I feel like none of these ideas are worth sharing anymore. It's this shitty snow. Snowomancy. That is definitely a thing. Constructs that are snowmen. Depression Magick. Malaisorcery

More later maybe if I can get a salad in me on my break

Thursday, October 26, 2017

O! The Places You'll Delve!

Reading in bed: very bad for eyes. Staying up until 4 working on layout: same
As the dad of a kid who loves bedtime stories and is learning to read, I read a little bit of Dr. Seuss almost every day. Frog and Toad, also (Frog and Toad are better stories, IMHO, and my Frog and Toad voices are SWEEEET). There is something a little bit comforting and sinister about all of them, no matter that they are excellent ways to teach a kid to read. The rythym and memorability is the thing. Right now, we've got

  1. HOP ON POP
  2. THE CAT IN THE HAT (metaphor for some weird perp shit, IMHO, by the way Sally and Nick you should tell your mom.)
  3. THE CAT IN THE HAT COMES BACK
  4. DR SEUSS'S ABCs
  5. I CAN LICK 30 TIGERS TODAY
  6. ONE FISH TWO FISH RED FISH BLUE FISH
  7. TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET
We also got The 50 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins and I Had Some Trouble Coming to Sollaw Sollew from the library. These are my current favorites. In the first, a kid faces the prospect of beheading owing to a no-fault-of-his magical curse in the form of a reproducing hat, and in the second a youngster travels many miles through adverse conditions to find the object of his quest shut tight (the fabled city of Sollaw Sollew where they have no troubles, or at least very few). Nothing makes much sense, but then - that's not totally the point. It got me thinking, that these books could be nicely approximated by a board-game board, and that got me thinking about that thing that +Wayne Snyder did with his kid, and also (more importantly for our purposes) the way that +Kabuki Kaiser did his linear/procedural thing in Castle Gargantua. Lots of complexity from fairly simple rules, and (if you don't know it) then each specific square on the Chutes and Ladders-style play track has a more or less random theme, in addition to the golden squares representing terrific set pieces.

I believe more in not-railroading, but this could make/has made for a fun night's entertainment


This would be easy to set up for a Dr. Seuss story approximation, say for kids, with nice pastel colors, little threat of violence (but some feeling of danger to wrap up nicely at the end), and simple rules. The Seussian monsters are, for the most part, somewhat silly but sometimes really and truly spooky. Fu Fu the Snoo seems to even make a Young Cat uneasy, for example.

I think I like those OZ rules that I always harp on about, or maybe something easy like I ROLL FOR SHOES (which seems to be going around my circles these days on G+)

Make it fun and distinctive: add a die to your roll if you explain your action in rhyme.

Make it awful and terrifying: Use DCC, and add corruptions and XP for critically failed Action rolls. Nobody can die but it can Always Get Worse

A Little Fuzzy Guy DCC Microclass: like a hobbit, but people can always spend Luck and burn stats for the little guy/gal. Hirsute and Cute, plucky and Lucky.

If you wanted to really do a brain bender, it could all take place in the Dreamlands. Grinches, Skrinks, Whos, Star-Belly Sneetches, and all the monsters (there's the Gak and the Gox, for example) from Dr. Seuss's The ABCs, and Hop and Pop. Once your SAN is down to 0, you switch into Seussian mode (or maybe even a temporary insanity). Everything is in 4 colors, and everything Rhymes - you have to speak clearly and rhyme at all times

I'm particularly terrified by Skrinks and the other various monsters from IHSTIGTSS. Perfect 0-level irritants. Seems to me that the Seuss books eschew acquisition of material wealth, and focus on cleverness and resourcefulness, and The Cat in the Hat makes for a terrific example of Picaresque hero/antihero

Speaking of which, check out The Archzenopus' +Zach H's OD&D resources - in particular his 1 HP monster thing for things you could use in a Seussian game


What's this? Funnel, did you say? I love to grind low-levels through funnels!







Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Jeeves and The Skeeves

I keep seeing this boardgame that i didn't back mentioned.  Dungeon Degenerates.  I love the art and the feel of the thing.

The Skeeves are a bunch of klartesh-smoking, nubile, attractive, totally sexless and seriously dangerous elf-like things that hang out in ancient wood groves and dungeon rooms-of-a-certain-size.  As the party approaches, a smell of sex and resinous smoke is detected, but a male elf will smell the smells a long ways off if the party doesn't approach directly.  A sentient creature with keen hearing can make out sighing, moaning, giggling, and slurping.

On arrival, a gaggle of pink and luscious forms can be discerned through a pall of what is evidently klartesh smoke, and a single representative will approach the party and welcome them in. Everybody, no matter their orientation, must make a DC 16 (i.e. fairly difficult, I mean these are adventurers, after all) Personality/Wisdom/Save vs. Charm analog. Failing means they come under the sway of the Skeeves and lose time. Roll 1d8 for the group.  This is how many days those who failed their saves will lose to slurping/moaning/smoking. The direct result is lost time, but the indirect result is loss of a random point (1d8) of (1-2) Intelligence (3-4) Constitution/Stamina, (5-6) Luck, (7) 1d4 Hit Points (8) Divine Favor/Patron Bond or equivalent per day. Sentient creatures who die as a result will be rolled off the cushions and hidden or taken away by servants. When the effects wear off, provided the victim is still alive, then they become disillusioned and irritable and harsh the whole mellow of the thing, and are promptly uninvited.

In the meantime, party members who did save have the odious task of dispelling the charm effect, by whatever means necessary. The most efficacious way is high wind, rain, flooding, or ice since these will undo the conditions that make the things so attractive (warm, smoky, cuddly, fleshy). In truth, the Skeeves are an elf-like race that preys upon the desires of adventurers and other sordid types. Bags of Doritos litter their lairs.




The Jeeves are a race of clockwork/steam/electric/organic/demonic/necormantic butlers. They secretly hate their masters, but will obey dutifully and to the letter of requests, especially if it will put masters in harm's way or transfer ownership/servitude of the Jeeve in question to a more powerful master. The never tire, never sleep, and need no food or water. The speed and cleverness of the Jeeve will depend upon their components: i.e. clockwork Jeeves are somewhat slow, uncreative, and wimpy. Organic and demonic Jeeves will be quite clever, malicious, and innocent looking but their beating hearts and sadistic eyes may give their intentions away. A Jeeve will follow any request it is given as long as the request will not effectively cause its own death, and it will obey gleefully if it will cause the death of its current master, and doubly so if the request is from the master in question.

Sometimes whole dungeons can be over-run with a nicely harmonic ecosystem of Jeeves serving Skeeves and their victims, and when equilibrium is threatened the homeostasis breaks and bonuses can be had to the Skeeves charm-effect saving throws and Jeeves will peel off to serve adventurers and redirect them to more imminently dangerous zones.

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