Thursday, February 28, 2013

March of the Gnomes!

All this and "Speak with Badgers" too.

Now, I pretty much knew from the get-go that no one liked Flumphs but me. That's to be expected. However, it's only been in recent years that I discovered people's strange dislike for gnomes.

When I started playing AD&D regularly with Second Edition, there were a lot of cool gnome characters in our games. The badass gnome assassin, the vagabond gnome bounty hunter, and a variety of gnome illusionists and professor-bards. Maybe it's because we were all Dragonlance fans, and we thought tinker gnomes were cool*. Certainly the gnomes in Soldiers of Ice were bad ass. Maybe Belwar in the Drizzt books was a positive influence. I don't know. Gnomes were just always welcome in our games. (Halfings, on the other hand, got a lot of hate.)

So, I was dismayed a few years ago when I discovered that so many people didn't like the little guys.
“They don't have any place in the ecology or society!” I hear you say. “They're disruptive pranksters!” you opine. “I hate their stupid noses!” you shout.

Well, we'll see about that. I've declared the third month of 2013 shall be the March of the Gnomes here at the Bernie the Flumph Show. I'll take a look at gnomes and present some ideas on how to make them “cool” without changing their intrinsic gnomishness. Stayt tuned!

*For what it's worth, I like Kender, too...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Artillerist Playbook? Wow! [Dungeon World]

Over on the Dungeon World Tavern Google+ community, Patrick Henry Downs took the current version of my Artillerist class and put it into a groovy playbook form. It uses the Apocalypse World format instead of Dungeon World, but it's still wicked cool!


Ooh! Also check out the nifty Gunlinger Compendium Class by Brian Engard. It borrows some ideas.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Spy Racers! [QAGS]

Spy Racers is here! Hex Game's new supplement for Sex, Lies and Ultraspies features rules for super-powered cars for your super-powered spies. I totally want to hack it to do a M.A.S.K. game.  Robert McCabe wrote it. Jeffrey Johnson and James Hornsby did interior art. I did layout and cover art.

Check it out!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Caverns of the Crystal Spire [Mini-Map Monday]

Somewhere in the Deep Down Bellow lies a series of twisting tunnels that spiral around a large central cavern. Within this central chamber stands a huge crystal spire. This weird monolith glows with an eerie blue light, while alien runes twist and turn under its surface. Goblins, Deep Elves, Knomes, and other underworld tribes constantly battle for control of the spire's chamber. No one know where the spire came from, but any wizard can tell you that it's a place of power.

The Artillerist (first draft) [Dungeon World Class]

I like guns in my fantasy settings. I just do. I'm also a fan of flying boats and crazy dwarf/gnome clockwork devices. There are steam trains in the lower tunnels of my dwarven kingdoms. Anyway, I decided I wanted to add some gunslinging to my Dungeon World game. The Artillerist is a combination of the Hunter from World of Warcraft, a fantasy alchemist, and any given Clint Eastwood character.

This is just a first draft. I'm not 100% solid on some of the advanced moves. I'll repost this in the Dungeon World forums and Google Plus communities. Feedback is more than welcome!

Also on Google Docs!

UPDATE: I've changed some things in the Google Doc after getting some great feedback. The Doc is up-to-date. The text bellow is not.


You gonna skin them smoke wagons or whistle Dixie?
Smoke and fire. Thunder and metal. Lightning and chemicals. You are the next step in the slayer's art. Let the others keep their swords and bows. Your weapon cracks the sky and rains molten lead upon your foes. Wherever you're going, Hell's coming with you.

Can it be mere coincidence that gunpowder smells like brimstone?

Human: Gallows, Clinton, Jayne, Farrel, Sharpe, Grimm, Marsters, Caldera, Ivanna, Janice
Dwarf: Gunnar, Brunhilde, Shernek, Jeager, Grontuun, Jarkell, Gretel, Ysill
Gnome: Pilgrim, Queenie, Duke, Smokey, Flint, Coral, Slim, Glory

Choose your look:
Quick eyes, narrow eyes, or eye patch
Windblown hair, dirty hair, or battered hat
Bent body, rangy body, or narrow body
Expensive clothes, dusty clothes, or military uniform

Base Damage: 1d10

Starting Moves
Choose a race and gain the corresponding move:
When you parley, and they recognize your name, you can use your reputation as leverage. The GM may ask you to explain how you got this rep.
When you use Powder Keg to craft ammo, you always produce +1 Ammo
Your gun has one extra upgrade

You start with these moves:

I've Got a Gun!
You have a gun, perhaps the only one in existence. This ranged weapon uses a mixture of clockwork, alchemy, and low magic to hurl chunks of hot lead at things you want to die.

Your gun starts with these stats:
Weight: 2
Tags: Loud, Reload
Range: Reach, Near

Chose 2 Upgrades:
*Large bore: +1 damage, +1 weight
*Grapeshot: Add +1 damage, messy
*Longarm: Add far, 2-handed, +1 weight
*Repeater: Remove reload
*Bayonet: You can use your gun to Hack-and-Slash at close range. +1 weight
*Compact: -1 weight

Choose a look for your gun:
*old and battered
*baroque and fancy
*spartan and functional

Powder Keg
When you have access to time and proper materials, you can make ammo for your gun.
Roll +INT
10+: You make Ammo 3
7-9: You make Ammo 2
On a miss you still make Ammo 1, but it the GM might have a surprise for you when you use it.

Tactical Eye
When you Discern Realities add these options to the list of questions:
*What is my best escape route?
*Where is my best cover?
*Which of my allies is the most vulnerable?

Choose an alignment:
When you use your gun to bring justice to the unjust, mark experience.
When you use your gun to gain financial reward, mark experience.
When you use your gun to prove your superiority to others, mark experience.

Your load is 10+STR. You start your with your gun, dungeon rations (5 uses, 1 weight), leather armor (1 armor, 1 weight), and a bandolier of powder and shot (3 ammo, 1 weight), toolkit (1 weight).

Choose your back-up weapons:
Shortsword (close, 1 weight)
Pistol Crossbow (near, reload, 1 weight)

Choose one:
Dungeon Gear (5 uses, 1 weight)
2 Healing Potions (0 weight)

________ has helped me tinker with my gun. They're smarter than they look.
________ has seen through to the inner me.
________ has made themselves a target.
________ needs to be taken down a peg.

Advanced Moves
When you gain a level from 2-5, choose from these moves.

You ignore the clumsy tag on armor

When you Volley and deal damage, deal +1d4 damage.
When you Hack and Slash and deal damage, deal -1d4 damage.

Cover Fire
When you defend, you can roll +DEX instead of +CON

Da' Bomb
You can use your alchemical skills to create explosive Bombs.
When you have access to time and materials roll +INT
10+: You make 2 bombs
7-9: you make 1 bomb
On a miss... BOOM?

Bombs have a range of near and the loud tag. Each bomb has 1 weight. Volley to hit your target. The bomb inflicts b[2d10] damage to the target and anyone around them.

Rain of Lead
When shooting a monster with the horde tag, if you kill it, any left over damage rolls over to another monster with the horde tag. With a high enough roll, this damage can continue to roll-over to new monsters.

Gun Katas
You can protect yourself from harm with pattern of coordinated gunfire
When you Defy Danger with DEX, STR, or CON, spend 1 Ammo to take +1 forward to the roll.

Eastwood Eyes
When you lock eyes with some one, roll +CHA
On a hit, take +1 forward against them.
On a 10+, you've also learned something about their true nature. Ask, and the player will tell you truthfully.

Bad Company
You do not have to return triumphant to carouse. You can celebrate your failures or wallow in misery and gain the same benefits.

Mechanical Improvements
Give your gun another upgrade.

Called Shot
When you attack a defenseless or surprised enemy at range, you can choose to deal your damage or name your target and roll+DEX.

Head: 10+: As 7–9, plus your damage; 7-9: They do nothing but stand and drool for a few moments.
Arms: 10+: As 7-9, plus your damage; 7-9: They drop anything they’re holding.
Legs: 10+: As 7-9, plus your damage; 7-9: They’re hobbled and slow moving.

When you gain a level from 6-10, choose from these moves or the level 2-5 moves.

When you have access to a lab and workshop, you can graft the magical powers of a weapon onto your gun. This process destroys the magical weapon. Your gun gains the magical powers of the destroyed weapon.

Big Badda Boom
Requires: Da' Bomb
Your bombs now do +1d6 damage and ignore armor.

Armor Piercing Rounds
When you deal damage with you gun, spend 1 Ammo. Your damage for this attack ignores armor.

Soul Reaper
Name your target. If you kill them, take +2 on your next Last Breath roll. If unused, this benefit fades at high-noon. You can only name one target per day.

Dedicated Gunslinger
Replaces: Gunfighter
When you Volley and deal damage, deal +1d6 damage.
When you Hack and Slash and deal damage, deal -1d6 damage.

Constant Innovation
Requires: Mechanical Improvements
Give your gun yet another upgrade

When you have significant downtime, you can swap out the upgrades on your gun for new ones.

Requires: Da' Bomb
When you use one of your bombs to destroy an inanimate obstacle, roll+INT.
On a 10+, choose 2.
On a 7-9 choose 1

*It doesn’t take a very long time.
*Nothing of value is damaged.
*You can recover debris and explosive residue equal to 1 Ammo.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Sexy Teenage Monster Show [Monsterhearts]

Monsterhearts, oh I love Monsterhearts. We've been playing Monsterhearts for several sessions here at the Freehold, and it's been a blast. Our love of supernatural drama mixed with our general dislike of teenagers has let us orchestrate a glorious mess of sex, murder, betrayal, and chaos. We invision the game as a screwed up TV show and informally call the game The Sexy Teenage Monster Show.

Our next session will be our season finale. We plan on continuing for at least one more season. We're also going to do a spin-off series set in college. One of my players is going to run that, so I can get a chance to be a player.

So here's how the Sexy Teenage Monster Show sits right now.

Shermer Heights, WV
The Sexy Teenage Monster Show is set in a small West Virginia coal-mining town named Shermer Heights. The hills to the north are riddled with mines, some in use, some long abandoned. Shadowy monsters lurk in the darkness of the deepest mine. To the south lies thick, mostly unspoiled forest and Adalwulf Lake. Train tracks run through the town, dividing it into good (east) and bad (west) sides. The local teens enjoying hanging out at the nice new mall, the crappy old strip mall, the skate park, or Platinum, the way-cool teen club. The Shermer Heights High School team is the Dire Wolves (“A winner is coming!”)

Caleb, the Werewolf 
Caleb's family has been in Shermer heights for generations. One of the founding families, they own most of the land in town and almost half the town pays rent to them. Their long residence and interest in the area has granted his family a powerful spiritual connection to the land. Werewolfism is a genetic gift, running along paternal lines. His parents are both werewolves, withhis mother belonign to a different bloodline.
While in control of himself, Caleb can take the form of a normalish wolf or a balanced hybrid wolf-man form. But when he becomes his darker self, the wolf takes over and he becomes a munderous horse-sized beast of fangs and claws.

Caleb has been working to build his spiritual powers. He can partially enter the spirit plane and walk through walls, and can curse people with hexes.

Caleb is in love with Lacuna, and has finally started a relationship with her. He has teamed up with Gabriel on past monster-hunting missions.

Lillith, the Fae
Lillith's mother was a low-caste fae who begat a her to a noble sidhe. Exiled, Lillith's mother took Lilly to the mortal realm and started a life for them both in Shermer Heights. Lillith's mother runs the Wolf Whistle strip club. The club also functions as a kind of way-house for traveling and exiled fae. Lillith and her mother make their home in an old, overgrown gothic mansion deep in the woods. Lillith's mother hosts all manner of weird guests.

Lillith recently discovered that her father wasn't merely a fae noble, but was in fact, the Faery King himself! Lillith is obsessed with Caleb, and used her father's faery magic to disguise herself as Lacuna to seduce him.
Lillith has proven herself to be petty, spitful, and dangerously impulsive, more than willing to sleep and murder her way into control. She currently has several classmates bound to her by promises. He favorite is “promise you will always protect me.”

Gabriel, the Chosen
Gabriel's family has recently advanced into a higher income bracket and moved to the good east-side of town. They are respectable hard-working people. Gaberiel has been marked by god for a higher purpose, and his secret monster-hunting exploits are starting to bring unwanted scandal upon his family. Gabriel has recently discovered that he can come back from the dead, his wounds healed over with glowing angelic script. This caused no small amount of confusion when he was dead body was found in the middle of his school and taken to the morgue. 

Gabriel is good friends with Caleb but has a massive and tragic crush on Lillith. He sees Lacuna as his foreign-born sister.

Lacuna, the (former) Angel
Lacuniel was left behind. After the Creation, god left her trapped underneath a mountain for thousands of years. He never told her why. She could hear the mortals above her, but could never see or interact with them. Recently, humans dug too deep into the mountain and freed the angel in a flash of light. Her essence settled into the body of a recently-arrived Spanish exchange student. She doesn't know what happened to the poor mortal's soul.

Lacuna lives with Gabriel's family. She can see God's imprint on Gabriel, and is obsessed with finding out what it means. Since she is unfamiliar with human emotions and interactions, Lacuna comes across as having massive Asperger's Disease. She keeps notebooks about everyone she knows in Shermer Heights.

Lacuna recently discovered that her imprisonment under the mountain actually served some purpose. Her presence kept the strange shadow monsters there trapped safely under the earth.

In the penultimate session, Lacuna apparently trespassed against God one too many times. In a stroke of lightning, her angelic nature was revoked, and she became Hollow.

The Fectori
The strange shadowy creatures from deep within the mines are responsible for a number of murders plaguing the town. They are mostly shadow, but have been gaining more and more physical substance with each kill. They fear Lacuna the Angle, but are fascinated with Gabriel. They desperately want Gabriel to become their new leader, their “Chief-Priest” as they call him. They have offered him all manner of gruesome aid and gift.

Dwimmerlaik, the Faery King
Lord and master of the alien Fae and Lillith's Father. He helped his daughter seduce Caleb by gifting her with Medea's Veil, allowing her to assume Lacuna's appearance. Dwimmerlaik has some unknown plans for Caleb and wants Gabriel “removed” so he cannot interfere with his machinations. He was unaware that Lacuna was an angel until Lillith told him.

Previously on The Sexy Teenage Monster Show...
At the end of our penultimate episode, Lillith, Lacuna, and Caleb were naked and bloody in the forest, Lillith had turned on her father, Lacuna had been smote down to mortal, a police detective had been murdered and his body taken somewhere, and Gabriel was in bed with his kinda'-sorta-not-really girlfriend.

Man, I love this game.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Flumphs for Mutant Future [Flumph Friday]

Let's close out Flumph Friday February with the "Floomf" for Mutant Future!

No. Enc.: 3d4 (5d6)
Alignment: Lawful
Movement: 10 (3') crawling, 150' (50') flying
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 6*******

Attacks: 1
Damage: 3d6 (mind thrust) or paralytic slime
Save: L4
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: II (XIX)

XP: 2070

Floomfs are bizarre mutants that hail from another dimension. They possess an anatomical makeup that combines elements of both animals and fungi and resemble leathery floating jellyfish with multiple tentacles and two dexterous eyestalks that support black snail-like eyes. They float through the air using psionic levitation and communicate with using neural telepathy.

The Floomfs' home dimension was conquered by the sinister Brain Lashers. The Floompf's escaped to the Mutant Future world with the intent of warning its inhabitants of the approaching Brain Lasher invasion. Sadly, with society in a shambles and most people fearful of the Floomfs' strange appearance, their warnings fell on deaf ears. Now the Brain Lashers are here!

Floomfs are peaceful creatures, given to quiet contemplation and scientific study. They abhor violence, but when attacked, they can bring powerful mental mutations to bear, as well as a paralytic venom.

A Floomf will first attack by squirting a stream of paralytic green slime. This attack has a range of 30'. If this stream hits, the target must make a save vs. poison or be paralyzed for 2d6 rounds.

A Floomf can also attack with its power Mind Thrust mutation. This mental attack uses has a range of 50' and inflicts 3d6 points of damage. It can be used every round. Floomfs are considered to have a Will score of 15.

Once per day, a Floomf can use it's psionic healing mutation to heal itself or one creature it touches for 4d6 hp.

Mutations: Bizarre Appearance, Mental Barrier, Metaconcert, Mind Thrust, Plane Shift, Psionic Healing, Psionic Flight, Toxic Weapon

Monday, February 18, 2013

Holy $#!@ a Spaceship! [Mini-Map Monday]

So, apparently a bunch of Goblins have been stealing sheep from the local village. The villagers can all tell us where the goblins' lair is. Doesn't seem too hard. Let's just take a quick hike over these hills and--HOLY $#!@ A SPACESHIP!

Some strange craft has crashed right into the goblins' hill-side lair. The old dungeon entrance has collapsed, but you can get in through a hatch in the side of the craft. Looks like the little blighters have started worshiping the radioactive power core. Those sheep outside don't look quite right, either.

Click to Embiggen!
Drawn between games at BASHcon 2013.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

B/X Dyson's Delve at BASHcon

I went to BASHcon this weekend at the University of Toledo in Toledo, OH. It's not my favorite con, but it's only 15 minutes away from my home, and my son likes all the anime stuff.

I got a chance to run a game for some younger* friends of mine I don't see very often. Most were Pathfinder or D&D 4.0 players. I, on the other hand, had just bought the B/X D&D books at the con for a criminally low price (only five bucks per booklet!). I decided to show the kids what D&D used to be like, using a mash-up of B/X and Labyrinth Lord.
*And by younger, I mean 20-somethings.

I had them roll 3d6 for attributes, straight down the line in order. I also had them roll for Hit Points. This gave us some fighty-types with 2hp. To makes things a bit less tense, and to have some meat-grinder fun, I had them each make 3 characters. This gave us a team of 15--1 elf, 2 clerics, 3 dwarves, 3 thieves, 2 M-Us, 4 halflings, and NO fighters.

The straight rolls gave us some wonderfully diverse characters like Incindro the Magic User with a beefy 18 STR and a fragile 4 CON.

Character sheet  also by Dyson Logos

I decided to put the company through the first level of the ultra-nifty Dyson's Delve. It was decided that they were five independent adventuring parties that had grouped together and formed a guild called "the Doomed Knights" to explore the dungeon in search of adventure, glory, and gold.

The adventure went as well as I could have hoped. In the first encounter with a pack of giant rats, two characters were slaughtered in the first round, and two more were gnawed to death before the combat was over. A fine bloody beginning.

We kept a list of the dead on a "Scroll of the Doomed" in the middle of the game table. The players were always excited to list their fallen adventurer's name on the scroll, along with the cause of death.

Salklerik, killed by a Halfling named Scrotum. Both PCs belonged to the same player.
Through giant ferrets, goblins, and zombies, the PCs quickly learned the value of defensive lines, ranged attacks, and the liberal application of flaming oil. Whenever a player lost two of his characters, I let his remaining third PC advance to level 2. This created an interesting tactical decision for my players after their first character died. "Do I try and keep two first level guys alive, or do I kill this one and let this other one become 2nd level?" Sophie's Choice, man.

I sketched out the map as they explored. That's one explored dungeon!
We played for about five hours, and the party cleared out the entire first level. Everyone had a blast. The 4th Ed players were stunned by how fast combat went. Eight-or-so fights (with a ton of characters, no less!) in one session, as compared to maybe one or two. A friendly grognard at a nearby table told me afterwards how much he enjoyed hear people play old-style D&D again. He also remarked on how much fun it sounded like my players were having. That, I think, is the greatest compliment.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Flumphs for Stars Without Number! [Flumph Friday]

Flumphs are peaceful, inquisitive aliens resembling leathery yellow jelly fish with dexterous tentacles and expressive eye stalks. They float quietly though the air using a form of natural air induction. The flumph language is comprised of a mixture of tentacular body language and chemical signatures. Communication with humans and similar species requires the assistance of electronic translators or the Telepathy discipline.

Flumph society is peaceful and orderly, with each flumph helping its neighbors in a kind of enlightened socialism. Communities are led by members of a psychic priest caste dedicated to the mysterious High Ones. Most flumph settlements are Tech Level 4. They technology tends to focus on psychology , psionic research, and exploration. Aside from their Pacification Rays, flumphs are not known for their weaponry.

The flumphs were hit by the Scream as badly as the rest of the galaxy, destroying the entire priest caste in an instant. However, due to their cooperative, nonviolent culture, flumph settlements generally didn't collapse into the chaos that plagued human colonies.

Flumphs try to avoid combat if necessary and prefer peaceful mediation. In seriously threatened, a flumph can emit a steam of noxious ichor to temporarily disable attackers. Psychic flumohs often carry a psitech Pacification Ray to harmlessly deter opponents. Only in the most desperate of circumstances will a flumph use the atavistic tooth-spikes hidden in the center of their tentacles.

Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 3
Attack Bonus: +2
Damage: 2d4* Pacification Ray or 1d6 spikes
Number Appearing: 3d6
Saving Throw: 13+
Movement: 20' fly
Morale: 9

Any given flumph has a 25% chance of having psychic powers and Psi Points equal to a (1d8) level psychic, usually focusing on the Telepathy or Biopsychic discipline.

Flumph Pacification Ray (psitech)
Damage: 2d4*
Range: 30/60
Cost: 5000
Attribute: Wis/Con
Tech: 5
*Like a stun baton, damage from the pacification ray will leave a target unconscious, but will not kill them. Unlike a stun baton, this damage doesn't take the form of nerve pain, but as lethargy and fatigue.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sludge Dwarves [OSR/Labyrinth Lord]

I've already posted these guys for Dungeon World. Now I've made the Sludge Dwarves all ready for Labyrinth Lord or other OSR games.

Don't forget to check out their factory!

Sludge Dwarf
No. Enc.: 2d4 (6d8)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 2**
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2d4 + disease (sludge thrower) or 1d6 (shortsword)
Save: D2
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: XVIII
XP: 38

The Sludge Dwarves plumb the poisonous depths of the Deep Down Bellow, mining, collecting, and refining the most noxious and dangerous of alchemical substances under the earth. They sell these chemicals to the various factions of the Deep Down Bellow as well as evil wizards and alchemists on the surface world.

Sludge Dwarves are thinner and more wiry than other dwarves, with greasy green-black beards and hair. Their gray skin is mottled with scaly patches and unhealthy purple lumps. Gritty brown slime perpetually coats their clothing and gear.

The sludge thrower is disgusting hand-held weapon connected by a hose to a tank full of caustic alchemical ooze worn on the user's back. This tank holds enough ooze for 20 attacks. The sludge thrower has a range of 50/100/150. A character hit by a blast from the sludge thrower takes 2d4 damage and must make a save vs poison. Failure indicates that the character has contracted a debilitating disease that will reduce the victim's maximum hit points by half and reduce their Strength and Constitution score by 4. A sufferer can make another save vs. poison each week to overcome the disease. A cure disease spell will instantly remove the infection.

Sludge Dwarves do not have the resistance to magic that other dwarves possess. However, they have developed a total immunity to all poisons and diseases. Sludge Dwarves have advanced infravision that extends 120'

Any group of 20 Sludge Dwarves will be accompanied by a boss whose level is determined by rolling 1d6+2. In the presence of a boss, Sludge Dwarves have a morale of 10.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sludge Dwarves [Dungeon World]

Allow me to present to you the masters of this Monday's mini-map, the foul Sludge Dwarves, all statted out for Dungeon World!

Sludge Dwarves
Cautious, Intelligent, Organized
Sludge Thrower: (1d8 damage) close, near
6 HP
3 Armor

The Sludge Dwarves plumb the poisonous depths of the Deep Down Bellow, mining, collecting, and refining the most noxious and dangerous of alchemical substances under the earth. They sell these chemicals to the various factions of the Deep Down Bellow as well as evil wizards and alchemists on the surface world.

Sludge Dwarves are thinner and more wiry than other dwarves, with greasy green-black beards and hair. Their gray skin is mottled with scaly patches and unhealthy purple lumps. Gritty brown slime perpetually coats their clothing and gear. The sludge thrower is disgusting hand-held weapon connected by a hose to a tank full of caustic ooze worn on the user's back.

Instinct: To spread foulness
  • Cause debilitating infection.
  • Resist poisons completely.
  • Present an organized front. 

Monday, February 11, 2013


Somehow I accidentally deleted the map in my Lair of the Crimson Necromancer post.
Consider that problem fixed!

Factory of the Sludge Dwarves [Mini-Map Monday]

Far into the Deep Down Below, the foul Sludge Dwarves operate their refinery. In the poisonous depths they harvest noxious alchemical materials from the river of slime that bubbles up from a pustule in the earth. But all is not well, as cast-off mutant casualties of the toxic trade have had enough of their former masters.

Edit: Sludge Dwarves for Dungeon World!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Houses of the Blooded: Wilderness [Flip-Through Review]

I've been a big fan of John Wick's Houses of the Blooded RPG ever since it came out. In fact, I went to my first Gencon in 2008 just to purchase it. Dude signed it and everything.

I only got to play it a couple of times (with my wife and her gal-pal playing a wicked pair of evil twins), but it was great smoky fun. As is the way of things, my interest in the game waxed and waned over the years as time passed and new games came and left my radar.

But I'm all excited about HotB again. Wanna know why? Because this thing came in the mail this morning...

We already had the skulls.
Yup, that's the paperback version of the new Wilderness supplement by Jesse Heinig. I backed the Wilderness Kickstarter (because I will back just about anything that John Wick Kickstarts) and today I got my dead-tree copy in the mail, plus a nifty new patch to put on my hipster-gamer messenger bag.

I haven't had a chance to read it thoroughly, but I have flipped through it, scanned passages, and read bit and pieces that grabbed my immediate attention. This here is my “Flip-Through Review” of the book.

I'm used to print-on-demand books at this point, and Wilderness is pretty high-quality. It's in the 9”x6” format that I prefer these days. The cover features dark text on a dark leather background, like a beast hiding in shadowed camouflage. The claw marks remind me of Werewolf: the Apocalypse, so take that as you will. The paper is a nice light beige color that gives the thing a “old and feral” feel and is of a decent weight. The black ink is a bit shiny in places, though. Sadly, some of the wonderful ork illustrations that look great in the PDF come out kind of muddied in print. That's PoD for you.

Flipping through, let's see what's in this thing. We have a new house, the Boar, with it's virtue of Tenacity. That will be a nice addition to the Horse in Josh Roby's Coronets but Never Crowns. The Boar are grungy mountain men living independently in the wilderness. Nice.

We've also got some new wilderness regions for your provinces, including volcanoes. Volcanoes! They cause a lot of trouble in your lands, but you can use them to harvest gems, smelt metals, and collect obsidian. Obsidian's useful for demonology. Wait, what? Demonology?

Yeah, demonology is in here too. Learning to summon demons is wicked easy but carries a hefty price. A first glimpse of the demons of Shanri remind me of the demons in Sorcerer. You summon them, you ask them to do something, they do it, trouble happens.

We've also got rules for unblooded adventuring parties. The aspects system in HotB lets these commoner troubleshooters take on the classic tropes of fighter, thief, wizard, etc. with a Ven twist. The book also talks about unblooded adventurers that toil and fight their way to nobility, becoming blooded “dirt nobles.” We've also got some stuff in here about the hedge magic used by commoners.

And then there's orks. So much information about the monsters of Shanri. We have new ork powers. We have write-ups of various ork species, including my favorite pulp villains, Serpent People. We have rules for ork vassals, and (holy katz!) rules for ork player characters. I thought the HotB core book was lacking in ork information. This book certainly seems to remedy that.

We've also got some new evil Suaven, including Mahl, Mother of Monsters, who's wicked awesome creepy.

The HotB core book has often been criticized for its poor organization (and I would sadly agree). Wilderness seems much better organized. The ork stuff is all in the ork section. The unblooded stuff is all in the unblooded section. Etc Etc...

I'm excited to have this book in my hands, and I can't wait to read it thoroughly. It's a fine looking book and, most importantly, it makes me want to play Houses of the Blooded again. Even with just a quick flip-though, I've already got a lot of ideas to drop into a HotB game.

  • A dirt-noble tries to arrange a good marriage between her son and one of the PC's daughters.
  • A neighboring domain whose noble has gone mad, letting “civilized” orks settle his lands.
  • A visiting noble causes a scandal when he brings his ork bodyguard to a party.
  • A gregarious demonologist is all-too-happy to teach a PC how to summon demons for just “a small price.”
Now that I have Wilderness, Houses of the Blooded has jumped into my queue for games to play after Monsterhearts wraps up.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Flumph for QAGS! [Flumph Friday]

We continue Flumph Friday by adapting the flumph for QAGS from Hex Games! 

Body: 9
Brain: 14
Nerve: 12
HP: 9
YY: 3
WWPHITM?: A muppet
Tagline: "May the serenity of the High Ones guide you."

Job: Alien Priest (13)
--A flumph may use its Job to perform ritual magic as described in Hobomancer and Magic Rules!

Gimmick: Chemical Defenses (12)
--The flumph's alien innards allows it to produce a variety of chemicals that it can excrete or spray in self defense. Usually this either a noxious, nauseating slime (target must roll Nerve vs. the flumph's Gimmick to do anything but retch and vomit for a number of rounds equal to the difference in rolls), or a spray of corrosive acid (roll Gimmick to hit, with a Damage Bonus of +4).

Weakness: Pacifist (12)
--Unless it is physically wounded, if the flumph wants to attack a living creature, it must make a Weakness roll. If the roll succeeds, the flumph cannot bring itself to attack.

Skills: Healing +3, Meditation +2, Space Lore +1

Flumphs are strange alien creatures that resemble slightly-flattened, floating jellyfish with rubbery yellow-green hide, dextrous tentacles, and inquisitive eyestalks. They speak the languages of Earth in whispery sing-song voices. Since their home planet, Flumphsylvania, was destroyed in an intergalactic war 3000 years ago, flumphs have been cast adrift into the universe, looking for a new home. A small rocket ship carrying a coterie of flumphs crashed outside Waldo, Ohio in 1897. They have done their best to make a new life for themselves ever since.

Despite their bizarre, inhuman appearance, these aliens are peaceful and friendly. They prefer a life of quiet, religious contemplation away from the prying eyes of humanity. Small groups of flumphs will use their acidic excretions to carve out swirling underground caverns of alien design and form small “monasteries” dedicated to the High Ones.

Flumphs in Hobomancer: As cosmic drifters without a home of their own and a mystical disposition, flumphs feel a particular empathy with the hobomancers. They can use their “Alien Priest” Job to tap into the songlines and perform acts of ritual magic. If they can earn their trust, a group of flumphs could make powerful allies to a crew of hobomancers. Hobomancers refer to flumphs as "Flying Flapjacks."

Flumphs in M-Force: Flumphs as a whole do not represent a threat to humanity, and are not listed on the government's Official Monster List. A flumph's knowledge of the horrors of outer space might prove useful to the right M-Force office.

Flumphs in Fort High: Flumphs reproduce asexually, but they still have offspring. In an attempt to adapt to human culture, many flumph's send their spawn to Paradigm schools, where they tend to excel at math and chemistry.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Skull Witch! [Dungeon World]

The Lair of the Crimson Necromancer was pretty well received, and it got some people asking for more information about the Skull Witch. When I initially drew up the map, I didn't have any solid idea about who the Skull Witch was, I just thought the name was evocative. Of course, it's up to individual GMs to develop her as they see fit, but here's the Skull Witch as I envision her. Stats for Dungeon World!

The Skull Witch
Intelligent, Magical, Solitary
Evil Eye: (1d10 damage, ignores armor) close, near, far
16 HP
4 Armor

The Skull Witch (her true name is lost to history) was a foul sorceress in Times of Old. Upon her death she was rejected from Death's kingdom for being too unpleasant. She eventaully became mentor and lover to Radmanthus the Crimson Necromancer. When the necromancer was destroyed in his failed attampt at lichdom, the Skull Witch was heart-broken. Now she resides Radmanthus's former sanctum, lamenting her lost love and lashing out at interlopers. 

The skull witch is always attended by her collection of flying skulls. 

Instinct:  To bring misery.
  • Bind nether-spirits to her will.
  • Curse with a word.
  • Tear your skull right out of your head!

Flying Skulls
 Horde, Tiny
Gnasty Gnawing Teeth: (1d6 damage) hand, messy
7 HP
0 Armor
Special Qualities: Flying

After the Skull Witch removes the skull of a victim, she binds into it a foul spirit from the Darkest Nether. The skull gains an evil cunning and vicious temperament  Flying skulls will swarm the Witch's enemies, biting, gnawing, and tearing at them with sharp, hungry teeth.  

Instinct:  To protect the Skull Witch.
  • Gibber horrendous blasphemies.
  • Dart through the air at dizzying speeds.
  • Gnaw your face off!

Monday, February 4, 2013

In the City on the Night Side [Stars Without Number AP]

It's interesting where game ideas come from. Most recently I found the seeds of adventure and setting in the form a song, specifically “Night City” by The Sword.

Running scared through endless night
Too afraid to put up a fight
They shackle her wrists
It's too late to resist
Scanned for weapons and transmitters
Sold at auction to the highest bidder
That's the way it goes
Now you know...
You can find us on the Night-side
In the shadows where the killers and the pirates hide
Come around if you think you can survive
in the city on the Night-side

It's a fairly basic story of a kidnapped princess sold into slavery, but I found it nicely evocative. Also the song's just bad-ass. This weekend I ran a Stars Without Number one-shot, and when I needed an adventure idea, this song gave me enough seed ideas to work with.

So... The PCs are low-ranking members of the Red Banner Mercenary Company. The debutante daughter of a VP of Titanomachy Technology was kidnapped by pirate slavers while on a pleasure cruise. She's been listed for sale at a slave auction in Night City, an outlaw human settlement on Las Diablas. The PCs need to rescue here by any means necessary, while keeping Red Banner's name out of it.

Las Diablas is a desert badlands planet. Because of the tilt of its axis, the northen pole is in perpetual night. It's the home to killers, outlaws, smugglers, pirates, and slavers. It's pretty much an equal mix of Deadwood, Mos Eisley, and Bartertown. A nice dangerous place.

When the PCs landed outside of Night City, they (half-jokingly?) insisted that I draw a map of the town. (“You said it was small. You can draw that!”). They've been spoiled by Monsterhearts, where we keep drawing the map of their town as we play. But no worries, we took a break, and I drew up a quick map. Couple of roads, market here, power plant there, slave market here, lots of spaceships parked around the perimeter. “There should be an arena,” said a player. Oh hell yes, we need a Thunderdome... right here!

The City on the Night Side!
The adventure itself was fun. As I do nowadays, I didn't have any preconceived idea on how the heroes were supposed to complete the adventure. I came up with a situation, I decided what the major NPCs wanted, and I figured out what would happen  if the PCs did nothing. That's all I need to drop the PCs into the action and let them figure out solutions for themselves.

I wasn't disappointed. The PCs went undercover as a couple of rich rubes and their bodyguards, looking to buy slaves. After discovering that the debutante had already been sold to an infamous gang boss (Magnus Thorn), they are forced to fast-talk their way into the boss's manse, then rescue the debutante in a running gun battle.

Some highlights...
  • The Stars Without Numbers mechanics are dead simple, and combat is wicked fast and tense!
  • The female engineer disguised herself as a pregnant woman, hiding guns and grenades in her fake boobs.
  • The noble-born psychic-healer with no combat skill disguised as a bodyguard and loaded down with weapons he can't use.
  • Wheeling-and-dealing with the alien slave-broker to purchase the other survivors from the debutante's kidnapped party.
  • Smooth-talking Magnus Thorn's Hochog lieutenant into letting them to have one of their women fight in Thorn's gladiator ring, thus getting an invitation to the manse.
  • Ignoring that plan and purposely(?) getting captured to get themselves into the heart of Thorn's manse.
  • A running gun battle, punctuated by blowing up an elevator with grenades, and exploding badguys' heads with the psychic's cancer-gun.
  • Making it to the roof and having the engineer hack into the manse's defense towers, blowing away opposition with cannon-fire.
  • A successful rescue as the PCs ship (The Private Dancer) flew them back into space.
We may very well come back to Stars Without Number after we're done with Monsterhearts.

Lair of the Crimson Necromancer [Mini-Map Monday]

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When Radmanthas the Crimson Necromancer failed (spectacularly) at his attempt to become a lich, his undead minions took up residence in his cliff-side estate. Guard towers and baroque statues flank the entrance to the columned antechamber. An underground river leads to a whirlpool where Radmanathas drowned villagers in sacrificial rites.

(EDIT: I somehow accidentally deleted the map from Photobucket. Consider that problem fixed!)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What's on My Gameroom Walls?

Tim Snider over at The Savage Afterworld has started a new meme. Most people who have a room dedicated to gaming has a variety of interesting decorations on their walls. This decor offers an interesting insight into the people who spend while away their hours exploring imaginary worlds in these rooms.

My game room was supposed to be a dining room, but we never eat at the table, so it's pretty much become a dedicated gaming room. Ivy (my wife) can't stand bare walls, so she made certain the room was filled with "cool things." There's a lot of shelves, knick-knacks, and crafts hanging on these walls--the flotsam and jetsam of a pack-rat's life.

This is a papier-mache lion mas my sister made for a play. It always gets a lot of attention when new people come over.

Ivy collects masks of various styles. She especially likes these kind of Mardi-Gras looking ones. We have them scattered all over the house. These are a few hanging in the game room.

The cats came from different parts of Asia and Africa. The benefit of the Internet is that we've made friends all over the world. When they go to cool places, they send us stuff. The cat on the left was from a friend who went to Kenya to study birds. I purchased the Captain America sculpture from a guy at SPACE who sold these awesome/adorable hand-made superhero models. I love it.

This is the Egyptian corner. The papyrus prints on the right I got from my mom, who got them from her old boss, who wa from Egypt. The little brass camel and incense box are things my grandparents picked up on their honeymoon in Egypt. And that little maquette of Dante Hicks in the center? Well, he's not even supposed to be here today.