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.


Saturday, November 2, 2019

Leopard Women of Venus for Troika!

The Kickstarter for Leopard Women of Venus still has 18 days to go, and we’re just $400 away from funding. If you haven’t checked LWoV out yet, click the link above and give it a look-see! I think you’ll like it.

Speaking of crazy sci-fi-fantasy settings, I’ve spoken before about how much I love Daniel Sell’s Troika. I think Leopard Woman would fit in quite well beneath the Hump-Backed Sky, executing who knows what kind of missions for the sinister Science Robots. So here they are as a Troika background.

Leopard Woman of Venus

You once were a normal citizen with a caste and a job--just a comfortable cog in a subterranean techno-socialist “utopia.” Then your masters, the Science Robots, chose you for some reason. They filled you with radioactive leopard blood and rewired your brain with pranic circuitry, making you faster, stronger, better. Now it’s your duty to defend Venus from all manner of alien evil. What threats does the city of Troika hide?

  • Comet Fire Helmet (as fusil)
  • 3 Plasmic Cores
  • Leopard Skin Armor (modest armor)
  • Flying Saurian (Medium beast, flies)

Advanced Skills
  • 3 Saurian Riding
  • 3 Comet Fire Helmet Fighting
  • 2 Hand-to-Hand Fighting
  • 2 Propaganda
  • 2 Spell: Leopard Blood

Leopard Blood (X)
The Leopard Woman channels her prana through the irradiated leopard blood coursing through her veins. She gains a bonus to her Skill on her next action equal to the number of Vitality she spent when casting the spell.


Thursday, October 24, 2019

Leopard Women of Venus: now on Kickstarter!

If the blog has been quiet lately, it’s because we’ve been very busy down here in the Flumphwerks. And what we’ve been busy with is Leopard Women of Venus!

I’ve talked about Leopard Women of Venus (LWoV) before, but I’m going to go into a bit more detail here. LWoV is a psychotronic sci-fi setting based on the works of cult-favorite Golden Age cartoonist Fletcher Hanks. I’ve called Fletcher Hanks the “Ed Wood of old comics,” because his imagination outpaced his talents. His artwork is weird, often grotesque, and his stories are simple, lurid, and violent. But there’s a weird, fever-dream imagination behind them that really speaks to some core part of me and Leighton’s (my co-writer) creative muses.

Leighton Introduced me to Fletcher Hanks around 2010, when he showed me a few pages out of I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets, the first volume of Hanks’s collected works. I was intrigued, and over the next year or so we put together a setting book for QAGS called “Leopard Women of Venus” all inspired by this initial panel:

Years went by, and now Leighton and I decided to update and rewrite LWoV for Dungeon Crawl Classics. The weird pulpy insanity of Hank’s sci-fi, superhero, and adventure stories lend them selves well to the amped-to-eleven nature of DCC.

How Do You Make a Game Based on Fletcher Hanks?

That’s a good question. If you’re familiar with Hanks’s work, you know that he’s not big on world building, or character development or even plot. Most Hanks stories are only 6 to 8 pages long. A villain executes some crazy scheme, and out overly-powerful hero swoops in and brutally murders them in the name of justice. This brutal justice is often meted out in creatively disgusting fashions. In the hands of a more focused writer, the punishments would be ironic, but for Hanks they’re just weird. Occasionally there’s a small setback for the hero that he has to overcome to complete that W-shaped plot, but for the most part the stories are simple and direct.

Since there’s not a lot to base a game world on, Leighton and I used Hanks’s work as a springboard for our own imagination. We put all of Hanks’s best known characters (Stardust, Fantomah, Space Smith) as well as his most used tropes (giant insects, fear of spies, bug-eyed monsters, toxic jungles, bodily mutation or mutilation), put them in a big ol’ blender, then mooshed that psychotronic slurry into a cohesive sci-fi setting.

Fantomah and Stardust are omni-powerful, nearly godlike beings, so they work perfectly as Patrons. The jungles of Venus are ruled by giant spiders. Uncanny chemical deposits spawn strange mutations in humans, animals, and plants. Monsters crave human flesh. And the struggling human settlements must always be on the lookout for enemy agents.

On top of that we layered our own creations. The human settlements of Palna, Avrok, Otram, and the Caverns are all terrible places to live, each with cultural baggage amped up to toxic levels. The Humanoid Coalition is the one real force of good on Venus, dedicated to bringing something like balance between the human factions and getting them to work together against the apocalyptic threats to the planet.

If you’ve read anything else that I’ve written, you know what to expect from LWoV. It’s not a comedy setting, per se. But we take a ridiculous premise and deal with it straight. It’s weird, and a maybe a little disturbing in places, but not distressing. It’s quirky, and there are some jokes, but it’s not funny-ha-ha. It skews towards “gonzo” but there’s an internal logic to things (mostly).

The Team!

This is already getting too long, and I didn’t really want to turn it into a commercial. But I want to tell you about the artists and editors we have lined up. Aside from Leighton and I, we have a great group of illustrators lined up: Brad McDevitt, Juan Navarro, Evlyn Moreau, Diogo Nogueira, James V. West, Matt Kish, and the legendary Erol Otus! Additionally, we’ve got two great editors to catch all the typos and comma splices and make sure our sentences make sense: Steve “Dollar Sign” John$on and Fiona Geist.

And so…

You guys, I’m very excited about this book. We’ve added so much more to the original QAGS version while tightening up stuff that just doesn’t work any more. DCC is a great fit for LWoV, and I badly want to get it out to the world!

You can check out the free preview zine to get a taste of LWoV right HERE.
You can check out the Kickstarter right HERE.

I’m sure I’ll talk about the project more here over the next few weeks. But come back next time for more Troika stuff!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Veteran of the Time War (Troika Background)

Read this article at BernieTheFlumph,com!

Troika! is a weird and wonderful science-fantasy RPG from Daniel Sells based on the classic Fighting Fantasy rpgs from the UK. It's intended as a love-letter to Planescape but with a dedication to never explain anything abut the setting in the official books.

"Backgrounds" are an essential part of the character creation process, as they determine the skills and abilities your character starts with (but not what they end with). There's broad collection of strange backgrounds in the book, and the Troika fanbase has had a lot of fun creating and sharing their own.

I've been killing time by putting together my own backgrounds. It's pretty easy and very fun. When I get enough written up, I'll probably put them into a simple zine. Until then, here's the Veteran of the Time War.

Veteran of the Time Wars

Proud, ancient Chronotopia was the most advanced civilization in the multiverse. Its noble chrononauts were dedicated to the observation and preservation of the timeline, never interfering with history except when they felt like it. Then the Null Collective came from the Darkness Between with a hunger to devour all of time and space. The Time War raged across a thousand multiverses, creating and destroying infinite realities over the course of a hundred lifetimes.

Now the Time War has ended. The Null Collective was erased, but Chronotopia was reduced to a ruined cinder floating in dead space. You are the only survivor. Now you’re in Troika with nothing but your trusty cosmic multi-tool and the smoking wreckage of your Impossibility Engine. Is this strange city some fragment of a forgotten realty broken off from an aborted universe? What is its connection to the Time War? No one seems to know.

  • Many layers of vintage clothing (counts as light armor)
  • Unreasonably long scarf
  • Cosmic multi-tool (+2 on all tinkering rolls, except screwdriving, which is -2)
  • Irreparably ruined Impossibility Engine.

Advanced Skills
  • 2 Mathmology
  • 3 Universal Trivia
  • 2 Tinkering
  • 4 Verbosity
  • 2 Awareness
  • 1 Running

Thanks to your people’s advanced evolution and connection to the Time Matrix, your body has remarkable regenerative abilities. If you die, permanently reduce your Luck score by 1 and give your character sheet to the GM. They will change three Advanced Skills on your sheet (retaining their current score) and give it back to you. At the end of the scene, you wake up with a new face and full Stamina. Describe your character’s new appearance and personality.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Millennium Tortoises

Read this article at BernieTheFlumph.com!

The seaside village of Siltmere is famous for two things. One is the high-quality paper products made from native silt-reeds. The other is the millennium tortoises.

Millennium tortoises are large terrapins with kindly eyes and long white beards. The tortoises are given free rein in Siltmere, allowed to roam wherever they wish. Injuring a tortoise is a
grievous crime, punishable by an overnight stay in the eel pits. At any given time, 50-100 millennium tortoises can be found wandering the flowered and sandy streets of Siltmere.

Residents of Siltmere use exotic inks to write poetry on the shells of living millennium tortoises, believing that it brings good luck. This has also become a popular tourist activity. The tortoises don’t seem to mind.

Millennium Tortoise (DCC stats)

AC: 16; HD: 3d6 (10hp)
Init: -2; Action Die: 1d20; Attacks: bite, +3 melee (1 damage)
Saves: Ref +0, Fort +3, Will +6
Move: 10'; Alignment: L

  • A character that takes at least 30 minutes to write poetry on the shell of a millennium tortoise gains 1d4 Luck. A character can only benefit from this blessing once in their life.
  • Millennium tortoises are beloved by the gods. A character loses 1 Luck each time they attack a millennium tortoise, whether they hit or not. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Blade of the Black Pyramid & Left Hand of Abaddon

Read this article on BernieTheFlumph.com!

Within the libraries, vaults, and trophy rooms of Goatheart Castle, Prospero the sorcerer hoards many artifacts of singular magic and alien provenance. One of his most prized possessions is a large chunk of ancient amber the size of large man’s torso. Suspended within the milky orange stone the scaly red hand of a demon clutches a black sword of unknown metal. These are the Blade of the Black Pyramid and the Left Hand of Abaddon.

Blade of the Black Pyramid

The Blade of the Black Pyramid (also known as Khaturial-Xuuth, Sword of the Bleak and Inevitable Overlords, or the Gateway to Suffering) is a short-bladed sword with a downward curve, similar to a Greek kopis. It is made from a single piece of matte black metal, etched with adamic script that reads “By your soul are legions made.”

The Blade is a small weapon that normally inflicts 1d6 damage. In the hands of a chaotic character, the sword does 1d8 damage. Against lawful targets, the sword does 1d10 damage. Chaotic characters add their Charisma modifier to their attack rolls with the Black Blade, in addition to their Strength modifier. A chaotic spellcaster can also place one spell (of any level) into the sword to store for later use. You can cast spell from the Blade, even if you aren’t a spellcaster. 

If you try to use the Blade, and you aren’t chaotic, you must make a saving throw vs death or take 3d6 damage (half damage on a successful save). If this damage kills you, you are burned to ash and your soul is destroyed. 

If you are chaotic, you can handle the sword safely, but the hilt brands your hand with adamic script that praises the dark glories of the Bleak and Inevitable Overlords.

If you are so branded by the Blade (whether you still possess the sword or not) you will dream of the Black Pyramid every 1d4 weeks. Under a red sky, black stars weep tar across a desert of teeth while the Black Pyramid rises from a forest of alien bones. Reality bleeds where the pyramid’s point tears lose the scab of reality. The voices of the Bleak and Inevitable Overlords ooze like an infected wound, dripping poison in your ear. “You. Are. The. Gate.”

Then you wake up. Make a save vs polymorph. If you fail, an astral parasite attaches itself to your aura. Over the next 4d6 weeks, this invisible and etheric plasmoid will feed on your soul and grow. Your Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma modifiers instantly drop by 2 each. Your Strength modifier increases by 2. You must eat three times as much food during this period, but you do not dream of the Black Pyramid. A Dispel Evil spell has a 50% chance of removing the astral parasite. 

At the end of the 4d6 weeks, at a time the GM determines to be the least convenient for you, you vomit a fully formed demon out of your mouth. This process takes 1d6 rounds, during which time you are wracked with pain and cannot take any actions. This violent oral expulsion inflicts 1d4 damage upon you for each level you possess. Your Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and strength modifier instantly return to normal. 

Roll up the demon’s stats as if created by the Summon spell, with Hit Die equal to your level (minimum 1). It is unbound, but is not immediately hostile to you. Your companions and bystanders are a different matter. The demon will wreak havoc for 1 round per HD and then disappear in a cloud of opium and brimstone. If the demon is not slain before it returns to Hell (and you are not dead), you gain 100xp for each point of damage you suffered while vomiting it up. 

1d4 weeks later you dream of the Black Pyramid again.

Left Hand of Abaddon

This is the red and scaly left hand of a demon, along with half the forearm. It smells of vinegar and has glossy black nails and golden rings which cannot be removed. You can chop off your own hand and replace it with this. It will instantly stick to the stump, like Manglor but better.

Once so bonded, you can use the Left Hand of Abaddon to safely pick up items with curses triggered by alignment (like the Blade of the Black Pyramid) regardless of what your alignment might actually be. 

The Hand also lets you access several powers. Activating a power causes you 1d6 Charisma damage each time. The GM should roll and this damage in secret, so you never know how close you are to 0. How NPCs react to you should give you some clue, though. 
This Charisma damage can only be healed by killing humans. You regain 1d3 CHA point per human you kill (you must strike the deathblow) regardless of level or Hit Dice. The GM also keeps this total secret, but they will tell you when you’re back to your normal score. 

If using the Hand’s powers brings you to 0 Charisma, your soul is sent to Hell and your body is immediately transformed into the new body of Abaddon (a Pit Fiend). Abbadon will be happy to be returned to the mortal world. In his infernal mercy, he has a 4-in-6 chance of letting any of your present companions leave without a fight. Then he’ll get down to some important demon work. 

Powers of the Hand (each use costs 1d6 Charisma)
  • Blast a fan of flames 20’ long in a 90’ arc, doing 1d6 damage per Charisma point lost. Targets can save vs Breath for half. 
  • Cast Charm Person. Target has a penalty to their save equal to the Charisma lost. 
  • Your next attack has +1 to hit and damage for each point of Charisma lost. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

30 to 50 Feral Hogs (for DCC)

A Swarm of 30-50 Feral Hogs

Init: +1; AC: 10; HD: 10d8 (40hp)
Act: 4d20; MV: 30’; AL: C
Attack: Hog-Gobble +6 melee (1d8)
Saves: Fort: +6; Ref: +2; Wil: +5

Swarm: A mass of 30-50 feral hogs covers a 30’x30’ area and acts as one large creature. The swarm can move through and occupy the same space as other creatures without penalty. Creatures caught up within the swarm move at half speed. Each action die allows the swarm to attack every creature caught within the swarm’s area (make one roll and compare it to each individual’s AC).

Wee wee wee...: As the swarm takes damage, individual hogs die and its effectiveness is reduced. For every 10 points of damage the swarm suffers, it loses 1 Action Die.
  • 31-40hp = 4d10
  • 21-30hp = 3d10
  • 11-20hp = 2d20
  • 0-10hp = 1d20

Child Eater: A child reduced to 0hp by a feral hog attack is immediately devoured. The swarm is invigorated, regaining 1d6hp. Additionally, on the next round, all the swarm’s Action Dice are increased to d24s.

2nd Amendment Solutions: As everyone knows, a swarm of 30-50 feral hogs is especially susceptible to gunfire. The swarm takes double damage from firearms. For the sake of your children, I can only pray your campaign has guns.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Gencon 2019 Recap

Read this article at BernieTheFlumph.com!

We got home from Gencon last night. Today is my recovery day, where I rest and recoop from the travel and convention hangover. For the past three years, I’ve gone to Gencon with my wife and kid as our family vacation. This year we shared an AirBnB with my Leopard Women co-author Leighton Connor and his family. It was a pleasant experience, and much more enjoyable than the cheap hotels we normally use. In brief, this was my best Gencon ever, with a lot of personal, professional, and emotional high-points. I feel somewhat guilty saying this, because for some of the other Hex Games folks, this was the worst Gencon ever.

For the past 5 years I've had emergency car problems the day before (or the day of) Gencon. This year we finally seemed to break the curse, as we had no car issues. I fear our bad luck may have bounced onto some friends, though. At 3am Saturday, the Extended Stay caught on fire, displacing over 200 people. Two of our Hex Games people both had rooms there. No one was hurt, but they ended up convention-homeless and wound up leaving early. Now the hotel and Expedia are dicking them over on refunds. It’s a pretty crappy turn of events.

But as I said, for me Gencon went pretty good. I’m going to go over the highs and lows with a series of bullet-points, because I’m still tired and don’t feel like writing actual prose. It's gonna sound name-droppy as hell, but seriously, these people all made my Gencon great.

The Recap...
The Connors and the Burnetts shared an AirBnB in town and used Lyft to go back and forth to the con. This turned out to be pretty cost effective and gave us all a lot of freedom of movement. A successful experiment I will use again!

I ran Hobomancers vs Dracula on Thursday with a group of repeat Hobomancer players. It went well. I’ve run Hobomancer games every Gencon for the last six years or so, and I think this might be my last one for a bit. I’ve just run out of ideas for it.

On Saturday I ran two sessions of Apocalypse Truckers using QAGS. I ran this once before at Archon, and these sessions both went nice and smooth with a lot of weird grindhouse action with truckers, Hot Wheels, and skin-eating alien demon mutants.

Aside from running, I got to play in three scheduled games this year—a Phantasmagoria DCC game run by Chance Phillips, Sword of the Jungle Deep (DCC) by Ian Smalls, a DCC Lankhmar game run by Michael Curtis. All great fun.

My cousin Kerwin and my wife Ivy
as Capn's Hammer and Marvel
My wife and our kid are both cosplayers. They both spend most of the con running with their cosplay friends. We didn’t see our (adult-aged) kid for most of the con. My wife got a lot of compliments on her Captain Marvel outfit. I also thought her Yennifer was pretty cool.

I spent Thursday and Friday evenings at the Embassy Suites lobby hanging out with the DCC/DIY crowd. The DCC crowd are just simply the best. Friendly, supportive, and fun. Bob and Jen Brinkman, Dieter Zimmerman, Brendan LaSalle, and other people I’m sure I’m forgetting (apologies!).

On Thursday at the Embasy, I got to play in a pick-up game of Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, run by Mike Evans, with a table full of Ennie winners and noms. It was a great game. Mike is a very active and engaging GM, as well as being one of the friendliest guys you could hope to meet. Back his Kickstarter!

On Friday night I ran a Leopard Women of Venus funnel at the embassy for Justin Ryan Issac (the man with three first names!), Eric Bloat, and Leighton. This was the first-ever session of LWoV for DCC, and I’m happy to say it looks like a winner!

Throughout the week, I was very happy to have a several chances to hang out with Lloyd Gyan and Jim Ryan, internet friends that I only ever get to see at Gencon. I wish we had more time. I hope they come back next year.

By Sunday I was thoroughly exhausted and tired. So much so that I sadly had to forgo my Sunday evening game. There was simply no way I was going to survive until 7pm and still drive safely home. It’s too bad, too, because it was a Mothership game and I badly wanted to play.

I actually didn’t spend a lot of time in the Dealer’s Room. As expected, Goodman Games got the most of my money, and I bought some original art from Brad McDevitt, including the original Bathory piece from Draugr & Draculas. In addition to a couple of modules, I also now have a new DCC shirt, hat, and numchucks. I also had some nice conversations with Peter Mullen and Joseph Goodman. Have I mentioned how much I like the DCC crowd? (Is this what it’s like to be in a cult?)

The picture to the right of our Gencon stash is going to make that previous statement look like a lie, but I swear to you most of that pile comes from my wife because women are always shopping, am I right fellas? *tugs at imaginary tie*

I don’t have a clever way to fit hum into a bullet point, but it was nice to sit and talk with Andy Davis for a while, too. Hi Andy!

Jarret Crader and I kept running into each other when I was in the middle of a game session or running to meet my Lyft. Sorry we didn’t get to chat more, Jarret!

Saturday night, The Hex Games crew and families left the downtown area to go have our “Staff Dinner” away from the press and scramble of the convention. It was nice to sit and relax for an hour or two at the steakhouse.

Leigthon and I passed out several dozen copies of our preview zine for Leopard Women, which got some very excited responses. That’s awesome! We have a limited number left, and I’ll figure out how to get rid of them relatively soon. Keep your eyes peeled.

I am very pleased that people are excited about LWoV, and I am very happy that people are still enjoying Sanctum of the Snail. I was walking on air for a lot of the week, and it was a great way to burn away the imposter syndrome. I’m fully charged, creatively, and I’m eager to continue my current projects and start up some new ones later.

I’m sorry if I forgot to mention anyone I met! My brain is still full of mush!

I’m sure I have a ton of email to go through, that I can’t possibly imagine getting to until tomorrow.

My next convention should be Acadecon in Dayton in November. Those three months are going to go by quick if I’m not careful. I’m also re-dedicated to finally make it to Garycon next year, but we’ll still have to see how that goes.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Ashes of Angels: Sessions 11, 12, 13 (We Change Systems!)

Between getting Draugr& Draculas finished and fulfilled, getting Leopard Women of Venus ready for public announcement, preparing for Gencon, getting Patreon underway and getting the new website set up, I haven’t had a chance to keep up on my session reports like I should have. We’ve had three sessions of Ashes of Angels since my last report, and there’s big some significant changes in both system and atmosphere. I’m going to touch on that and the hit the highlights of the last three sessions. After that we should be all caught up!

The big change is that we switched systems from Lamentations of the Flame Princess to Dungeon Crawl Classics. I ran LoftFP with a lot of house rules—some I made myself, others I stole from Cavegirl, 10-Foot Polemic, and Jeff’sGameblog. After 9 sessions I stepped back and looked at all the house rules I had added:
  • Rules to let characters survive at 0HP.
  • Rules to let fighters do cool fighter things.
  • Rules to remove spells-per-day restrictions on wizard and clerics, with magical backlash for failures.
  • Luck mechanics.
It occurred to me, all the rules I was adding were a subconscious effort to make LwoV more like
DCC, all while DCC was sitting right there on my shelf looking right at me. I also realized that what I really like about LotFP isn’t so much the system itself (although I do like it) but the adventures that go along with it. I think Scenic Dunnsmouth and Blood in the Chocolate will work just fine with DCC.

So we made the switch. We converted the PCs to DCC characters and continued the 17th Century campaign with no major changes in the narrative. My players have mostly enjoyed the switch. Non-fighters now actually hit in combat occasionally. Spellcasters feel like powerful (or at least useful) wizards. I even found a homebrew DCC adaptation of the Alice.

The tone of the campaign has also changed, but that was a more gradual change, and I’ve mentioned it before. I originally intended this game to be a bleak exploration of apocalyptic Europe with death and despair everywhere. I’m just not wired that way, and the campaign has slowly morphed into a Roger Corman-esque costume dramedy with goopy monsters and comical peasants. I wanted A Field in England and I got The Raven. Honestly I’m happy there.

So here’s what’s been going on:

Our “Heroes”
Belinda: Serpentblood 2 (re-skinned Elf), Midwife
Mortimer: Alice 2, librarian
Garritt: Warrior 2, soldier
Jacob: Cleric 2, cultist of Balor
Medline: Thief 2, grave robber

Ana Fischer: Witchy henchwoman, devotee of Lucifer, Wizard 1
Ekans and Arbok: Belinda’s doggos

The PCs decide that they need to take care of the Demon of Hegendorf before the witch hunters arrive. Of course, the witch hunters show up at the Abbey the very next morning, just in time for breakfast.

Meyer is a member of Der Hexenhammer, a powerful inter-faith coalition of witch hunters that the PCs have run afoul of in the past. Meyer is fire-scarred with a mad look in his eye. He’s armed with a blunderbuss and several fire-bombs. He has six men with him and two dogs. (Warrior 4, 6x 0-level men-at-arms, 2x 2HD dogs)

The PCs convince Meyer that they too have run afoul of witches and demons, and are eager to help the witch hunters. Jacob’s “Crazy old man to crazy old man” talk with Meyer helps seal the deal.
After breakfast the party heads out with Meyer’s crew for the 5-hour trip to Hegendorf. Before they leave, Mortimer sneaks into Meyer’s wagon and sabotages all his guns.

Half-way to Hegendorf, the PCs launch their surprise attack. Several of Meyer’s goons go down in the first round. When the goons fight back, several of their guns blow up in their faces. Jacob uses Word of Command on Meyer, telling him to “run!” The witch hunter spends the next several rounds running away from the conflict. Blades and bullets cut down the rest of Meyer’s crew.

Meyer finally breaks free of the Command, just in time for Belinda to hit him with Charm Person. The party easily convinces the charmed Meyer that his crew were really in league with Satan, and he’s lucky they were there to save his life. They take the charmed with hunter with them to go find the demon.

The party makes camp about an hour outside of Hegendorf, deep in the woods. Their plan is to lure the demon out then ambush it. Garritt makes some scouting rolls and finds a good kill-spot with several trees and boulders for cover. Belinda uses herself for bait. Madeline helps disguise her as a young girl, while Belinda makes some witchcraft rolls to mix up some demon-attracting poultices.

They wait, and around midnight they hear the weird theramin-sound of the demon’s wailing, and spot the eerie green witch-light of its glowing crystalline body.

Suddenly the demon is among them, appearing right beside the tree where Garritt was hiding! The fight is on! The PCs pelt the demon with arrows and bullets, but have trouble getting through its crystalline hide. One of Meyer’s fire bombs goes wide and light a tree on fire. Garritt uses his Mighty Deed of Arms (yay DCC!) to crack the demon’s armor, making it easier for his companions to land blows.

At last the demon is slain! Belinda takes one of its claws as trophies and proof of its destruction. The rest of the body melts into a puddle go radioactive sludge that sprouts deformed fungus in the tarry mud. “Let us all kneel and give thanks to the Lord!” shouts Meyer in triumph. The witch hunter kneels and prays his thanks, and the party uses this opportunity to hit him with two backstab attacks, one critical hit, and two normal attacks—just mercilessly beating him to death. It’s just goddam brutal.

The party makes their way into Hegendorf, where they tell the remaining villages of how they slew the demon, and how poor Meyer the witch hunter died a heroic death. “But the demon devoured his body, so don’t bother going to look for it.” The PCs are lauded as heroes, and there is much celebrating.

Eventually the party returns to the Abbey of St. Agnes and their loot cache in the hidden cellar. They are stunned to discover that a trio of Molemen have dug up into their hiding spot from the Veins of the Earth. The subterranean diggers are going through their loot! The party doesn’t stand for this, and the Molemen are brutally slain. (“Poor little guys were having a dungeon adventure and wandered into a treasure cache. Then they failed their wandering monster check and you guys showed up. TPK for those poor Molemanic adventurers.”)

With their stash-space compromised, the party decides to pack up and head south towards Berlin, where they can take care of some “city business.” They take a few days to recover, then pack up their wagon with their money, the Lucifer Mirror, the Baleful Spear, and other treasures.

It’s three days to Berlin. On the second day they are accosted by bandits and a fight ensues. Ana calls out to Lucifer to protect her (casting Invoke Patron, currently using Sezrekan as a stand in for Satan), and she is instantly teleported away.

The fight is brutal, but short, and the bandits are soon defeated. Mortimer is pretty badly battered, but the rest of the party comes out of it okay. Belinda sacrifices the surviving bandit to the Lucifer Mirror and finds out that Ana is somewhere in Berlin. Jacob heals Mortimer's wounds, and the party resumes their journey.

After another day of travel, the party bribes their way through the gates of Berlin. The city is currently occupied by Swedish forces, and has suffered greatly from the War. One-third of the city has been destroyed and half the populace is dead or gone.

Belinda uses some of Ana’s spare clothing to give her scent to Arbok, and sets the dog loose to go find the missing witch. After a short while, the party is reunited with their henchwoman, and they all go off in search of lodgings.

While Ana’s been slumming about Berlin the past couple of days, an attractive young man gave her a handbill for a puppet show called “The Court of Chaos.” Ana is excited about going, and the rest of the party is interested in attending as well.

Midnight finds the party in a deserted part of town, entering an old abandoned opera house. A garish puppet theater has been erected on the stage, and the party are the only people in attendance. As the strange shadow puppets begin their act, the building shakes, hellish light shines through the cracks in the walls, and the party experiences a sinking feeling of vertigo. The walls of the theater fly apart and the party finds themselves on an obsidian island in a sea of blood surrounded by misshapen demon giants. They have entered The Court of Chaos!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Leopard Women of Venus coming to DCC!

In 2011, Leighton Connor and I wrote Leopard Women of Venus for QAGS, the Quick Ass Game System. LWoV was a weird, psychotronic sci-fi setting based on the works of obscure Golden Age cartoonist Fletcher Hanks. Leighton and I were very proud of LWoV, and the book sold as well as any QAGS book.

Fast forward to last year, Leighton and I are driving home from Archon in St. Louis, discussing Dungeon Crawl Classics and Leopard Women. We suddenly come to the realization that the crazy-weird world of Leopard Women of Venus would be a perfect setting for DCC!

We’ve been quietly working on the DCC version of LWoV for several months, figuring out what we want to change (there’s a lot), what we want to add (there’s a whole lot), and how to set up the Kickstarter. And while the Kickstarter won’t go up until sometime after Gencon, we’re at least ready to announce the project!

Leopard Woman of Venus is a feverish sci-fi setting for Dungeon Crawl Classics set on the savage and surreal planet Venus. The titular Leopard Women are genetically-modified super-soldiers in service to the sinister Science Robots, fighting to maintain order on the nightmarish jungle world.

Things the book will include:
  • A history of Venus, its colonization, and conflicts between the four human factions.
  • 100 Venusian 0-level occupations
  • The Leopard Woman class, along with their powers and Flying Saurian mounts.
  • New patrons like Stardust the Super Wizard and Fantomah the Jungle Goddess
  • New equipment and weapons.
  • Monsters and other spawn of the freakish Bio-Ray Zone.
  • The secrets of Webra the Spider Queen and the Hideous Spider Priests.
  • Zero-level funnel and 1st level adventures.
  • And more!

We hope to launch the Kickstarter shortly after Gencon. Right now we’re reaching out to artists and editors. We want to put a lot of new art in this thing, and we want to pay them all fairly. I also want to make sure our editors get paid for their work.

For Gencon, we put together a little preview zine that we’ll be passing out. The 24 page booklet will have a sneak-peek at the Leopard Woman class, the occupation tables, some monsters, and a quick primer on the setting. We’ll have 100 copies to give away at Gencon, so track me or Leighton down! After Gencon, I’ll have a PDF of the zine up on Drivethru.

This is exciting, gang! Keep watching the blog here or follow me and Leighton on Twitter (@bernitheflumph and @johnnyampersand) for more news!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Draugr & Draculas now on Drivethru RPG!

It’s been a busy couple of months here down in the Flumphworks. A lot of projects coming through and/or being launched. I’m at least two sessions behind on my campaign updates. At the very least. But like I said, projects are wrapping up and coming out. For instance…

Draugr & Draculas is now available on DriveThru RPG!

Dr&Dr is my 64-page OSR zine that includes…
  • Information on Draugr
  • The Draugr Karl class
  • The Pagan’s Well dungeon
  • Satanic Pacts
  • Information on vampires
  • Count Dracula, his castle, and his minions
  • The Vampire Hunter class
  • Elizabeth Bathory and her Blood Magic
  • New spells and magic items

I have very, very few print copies left for sale, but I have more on order. I have a Gumroad store I’m setting up where you’ll be able to get them soon (or, y’know, contact me directly).

Next up… Leopard Women!