Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Snail Wrangler [Troika! Background]

Snail Wrangler
Snails. They’re everywhere, man. God’s perfect creations. But someone needs to wrangle them, and that someone is you. It’s your job to round up the feral snails that would surely disrupt productive business if left to roam wild. You’re always on the watch for threats to your mollusky flock, and your trusty fusil is always near at hand to drive off the squirrels, turkeys, and snail rustlers that would prey upon your charges. 

  • Fusil
  • Belt with 3 fusion cores
  • Snail crook (treat as staff)
  • Shelljack (light armor)
  • Loyal riding snail (moderate beast, armor 2, with proper bags can carry twice as much as a mule)
  • 1d6 snails, fist-sized or smaller, of below-average intelligence

Advanced Skills
  • 3 Riding
  • 2 Healing
  • 2 Awareness
  • 2 Fusil Fighting 
  • 2 Staff fighting
  • 4 Language: Snailish
  • 4 Secret Signs: Snails

You are immune to all snail-borne diseases such as snail pox, the slimy fever, and meningitis.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Klausritter for Troika!


You are a Knight of the North, a defender of children and protector of the innocent. You bring joy and warmth to the world during the darkest nights of the winter.

  • Red fur clothing (as modest armor)
  • Longsword
  • Loyal reindeer mount (modest beast)
  • Large sack full of 4d6 toys
Advanced Skills
  • 3 Prodigious Strength
  • 4 Toymaking
  • 2 Sword Fighting
  • 1 Animal Husbandry
  • 1 Riding
  • 1 Spell: Open
  • 2 Spell: Peace
  • 1 Spell: Sleep
Children’s toys do not encumber you at all, no matter how many you carry. You cannot reliably retrieve them during combat.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ashes of Angels, Final Wrap-Up

We ran our final session of Ashes of Angels a couple of months ago. While not the longest campaign I’ve run, 12-plus sessions is a pretty healthy run for me these days. The campaign started as a Lamentations of the Flame Princess game and transitioned to Dungeon Crawl Classics near the end. The conversion was pretty easy and injected enough interest back into the campaign to keep it running for a few more months.

Everyone enjoyed the campaign, but what ultimately ended it was my desire to move onto new games, settings, and genres. Specifically, after a couple years of bleak horror games, I’ve grown weary of nihilistic “the world sucks and you suck too” campaigns. My players, I could tell, were starting to grow bored with the constant character attrition. They want a chance to grow attached to the PCs for a while. I grok that.

Our last session revolved around resolving “Intrigue at the Court of Chaos.”  I’m not going to go over the whole thing because that module is mostly just a series of riddles and puzzles. It’s very good and very weird, but to recap all the events would be boring and spoilerish to the module.

Some highlights, though:
  • The PCs all readily agreed to work for the various Chaos Lords that approached them in their dreams. Belinda the Serpentblood, of course, tried to charm the agent of Law.
  • Madeline the Gravedigger apparently knows how to speak Enochian and was able to decipher the angelic script on the Bull of Law’s horns, sparing the PCs a fight.
  • The party did a good job of figuring the puzzles, although the rainbow liquids and cradle of clay puzzles proved to be harder than expected.
  • Liberal use of flaming oil and black-powder bombs made short work of the party’s Lawful clones.
  • The race back to the Chaos Rose while running away from the Crystal Guardians devolved into a slapstick farce as the PCs kept stealing the Yolkless Egg back and forth from each other mid-comnat.
  • Garritt the warrior burned all his Luck and was bodily taken to Heaven by the Crystal Guardians where Jack Chick’s Giant Glowing Faceless God personally cast him into Hell.
  • Back in the Court of Chaos, the fight over the Egg continued until someone fumbled a roll and dropped the Egg, breaking it open and causing the entire Court to collapse. The surviving PCs managed to step thru a rip in space-time back to Berlin.

Afterwards, we as a group decided to step away from the campaign and try some new things. We played three sessions of Mothership that went very, very well. Many of my players had never tried a percentile-bases system before and they loved how easy it was to pick up. Mothership’s a helluva game.

Ultimately, though, we decided as a group that our next game should be something totally different in tone and setting. So instead of semi-historical horror-fantasy we’re shifting to optimistic space opera—Star Wars! I’m pretty excited about it, and my players are all stoked about their competent and (semi)heroic new characters.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Wizard Slime for Troika!

Wizard Slime

Slimes are cute but semi-dangerous monsters that resemble brightly colored dollops of gelatin with googly eyes, about the size of a footstool. Most slimes spend their lives randomly attacking neophyte adventurers only to be slaughtered by the same. But ever since you slurped up that dead wizard, you’ve become a bit smarter than your slimy brethren. You know there’s more out there that wandering the forest, waiting to be beaten to death by some kid with a wooden sword. You’ve made your way to Troika, ready to find your fortune under the Humpbacked Sky.


  • Jaunty little wizard hat
  • People Potion (turns you into a human for 1d6 hours)

Advanced Skills

  • 2 Sneak
  • 1 Pseudopod fighting (damage as small beast)
  • 3 Alchemy
  • 2 Spell: Jolt
  • 1 Spell: Helping Hands
  • 2 Spell: Random
  • 1 Spell: Random

Your gel-like body prevents you from wearing armor, but you can still use weapons as normal or slam enemies with extruded pseudopods. You can’t wear a backpack, but you can safely stow gear inside your body, retrieving it like any solid character would from their own pack. Your malleable form allows you to squeeze through any gap or space of an inch or more. Your gear doesn’t squish with you, so you may need to drop some items to fit through some spaces. 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Dandy Highwayman (Troika! Background)

Dandy Highwayman

Qua qua, da diddly, qua qua, da diddly

Clothes. More than just a way to keep you warm and dry, they’re an extension of your soul, your personality, your inner self. Fashion is ever-changing, and what’s flash and new last week is dull and gauche now. You’re obsessed with clothes and the fickle whims of fashion, so much so that you’ve turned to thievery to fund your obsession. But no brutish thug, you. You’re a dandy highway man with swagger and poise. It’s important to look good while you rob from the rich and give to your closet. 

You’ve exhausted the sartorial possibilities of your homeworld (or maybe there’s too much heat from the constabulary). Now you’ve come to Troika to see what the Humpback Sky has to offer in the ways of fashion. 

  • 2 very Fancy pistolets
  • Belt with six plasmic cores
  • Flashy clothes, including mask and cloak (+2 to Swagger)
  • Face paint
  • Mount (horse, ostrich, strider bug, or some similar large beast)

  • 3 Swagger
  • 2 Riding
  • 2 Pistolet Fighting
  • 2 Sneak
  • 3 Fashion Sense

Every month, you must spend fully half your income on flashy new clothes. If you do, you gain +2 on all Swagger rolls. If you don’t, you receive -2 on all Luck rolls until you update your wardrobe. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Last 48 Hours for "Leopard Women of Venus" Kickstarter!

Unrestrained self promotion!

As of this writing, Leopard Women of Venus of Venus has less than 48 hours left in its Kickstarter campaign. It's been a wild ride!

We've hit our first stretch goal, and we'll be able to hire Stefan Poag to do art for the book. That's super exciting!

I'm very much hoping that we'll reach the $4000 dollar mark, so we can bring my friend Anne Hunter (DIY & Dragons) onto the team. Our plan is to have her write a new supernatural patron for book--some kind of powerful super computer connected to the Caverns and the Science Robots. Anne talks at length about her ideas on her last blog post: "I Shall Destroy All Civilized Stretch Goals." A mixture of Futurama and Star Trek? Yes please!

The LWoV Kickstarter runs through November 20.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Acadecon 2019--Games I ran and Played

This past weekend I went to Acadecon in Dayton for the first time. It’s a smaller con, a few hundred attendees maybe. I spent way too much money on the (admittedly nice) hotel, but the con staff were all friendly and the whole thing seemed very well organized, which is more than I can say about a lot of cons of this size (BASHcon).

I had registered to run two Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures, and I signed up to play in a few other games over the weekend. This is how things went.

Friday afternoon I ran “Sanctum of the Snail” from Crepusucular #1. Not surprisingly, I can pretty much run this game in my sleep. I had three players—one who had played DCC a few times at cons, one who had played DCC, like, once, and a third who had never played DCC but had heard stories about its unique and deadly experience. All together they had 12 zero-level zeds ready to run through the funnel.

I don’t get a lot of TPKs as a GM. Perhaps my hippy-dippy upbringing has made me soft. But this session wound up a total blood-bath. Things looked pretty promising for the players at the start, when they all got initiative over the Sharkboys and raced through the sanctum door to relative before the monsters could attack any of them. Things went down-hill quickly after that.

Post-game, when I shared the dungeon map and went through the adventure a bit, one of the players quipped “Wow, we really did take the path of most resistance!” Through no fault of their own, they missed every weapon cache, armor stash, magical benny, and treasure pile. Gong farmers fell like cordwood, the party split up, and the “replace your PCs here” room was avoided. Blorgamorg was never encountered.

The swarm of 1hp floating skulls were the worst menace. The fragile little monsters chewed up the PCs while bad dice rolls prevented the heroes from landing blows. The last three survivors managed to make it all the way to the Snail Sorceress’s bedroom, but breaking down the door created a lot of noise that attracted Chaos Slug Men. These wandering monsters were the death stroke for the party. All hands lost.

And yet! Despite that, the players all had fun. They knew DCC’s rep, they knew what they were getting into, and they had the proper DCC experience. Good times all around!

I didn’t run anything on Saturday, but I got to play in three different games. All Out of Bubblegum is one of those one-page mini-RPGs you find on Reddit. This one was about playing 80s action dudes. It was very silly and fun, and run by one of the guys from the Critcast podcast (which I will have to check out now).

Also, a gift from Chris Lauricella!
Later, I got to play Shadow of the Demon Lord for the first time. I’ve been meaning to try it out for some time. The adventure was a pretty linear—take this evil artifact to the obelisk and destroy it—but it did a good job of demonstrating the system and setting. That’s what I want from a demo game! The GM was also engaging and system-smart, so kudos to him.

My last game on Saturday was Worlds in Peril, run by another of the Critcast fellows. Worlds in Peril is a “Powered by the Apocalypse” superhero game. I love PBtA games, and I love superheroes, but I’ve never found a supers RPG that I really loved. I’m not sure this is it yet, but I like how “Bonds” worked a lot. I still have to find a group to play Masks: A New Generation with.

On Sunday, my Leopard Women co-conspirator Leighton “Laser Ponies” Connor came up from Cincinnati to play. We had a power-brunch at Waffle House, then went back to the con to do some “Saucer Full of Secrets.” “Saucer” is the zero-level funnel for LeopardWomen of Venus. I’ve run it once before at Gencon, while LC has ran it a couple of times himself at various cons. LC would play some zeroes in this session, but he’s very good at “fading into the back” and letting the other players run things. All together, I had six players with 18 zeds in total.

The adventure started with the gathered zeds receiving their mission from Forecastle J. MacBeth, leader of the Humanoid Coalition and my favorite NPC. The party needed to cross through the dangerous jungle to a crater where an alien spaceship had crashed 72 hours previous. They were to salvage what they could from the saucer and find out what had happened to the previous retrieval team.

The trek across the jungle was treated like a dungeon, with paths connecting to various clearings. No need to overwhelm new players with wilderness-crawl rules right out the gate, I figure. The party encountered a shrine to Fantomah, got the jump on some Martian scouts, fought a deranged Flying Saurian, and avoided the deadly Venusian Bees. Little-to-no casualties at this point, thanks to luck and sound tactics.

When the party arrived at Gorgon’s Gorge, things started to turn. Three giant flaming claws smashed, squeezed, and burned several members of the party before they were destroyed.

Eventually the party found the wrecked saucer and set to exploring it. The radium miner’s geiger counter let them avoid the ruptured core at the center of the craft. The Martian cafeteria seemed promising until mutated slime puddings dropped from the ceiling killed several of their number. The sadistic surgical robot the oversaw the bio-lab also managed kill some of the players before getting scrapped. The Martian barracks were the most deadly of course, as a cadre of Martian pikemen and gunners winnowed down the PC party. When they party eventually decided to examine the saucer’s power core, the co-mingled monstrosity that was once two members of the original team killed several more PCs (It had three attacks!). At long last, the PCs managed to rescue the two survivors from the original expedition and were able to call in MacBeth for an extraction. Of the 18 level-zeroes that started the adventure, only seven made it out alive. That’s what I call a good funnel adventure!

Acadecon was fun, and if Dayton’s in your travel zone, you should consider checking it out. My only real problem was that it was the first convention in a long time (maybe ever?) that I attended by myself without buddies or family. That makes for some boring downtime. If I go back, I’ll certainly need to bring company.