Sunday, July 31, 2011

[Savage Worlds] Crocoduck!

A crocoduck is a hybrid, also known as a chimera, of a crocodile (or alligator) and a duck. Believed to have been created by a foul magician known as Kirray in the not-so distant past, the first crocoduck must have escaped during the destruction of it's creator. To this day, the crocoduck, which many think is just a legend, inhabits swamps and marshes and other desolate regions.

All crocoducks are female and they mate freely with normal ducks, laying a clutch of 6-10 eggs of which most hatch and thankfully most die before reaching adulthood (otherwise the beasts would over-run the countryside). Once grown and escaped from the nest of it's youth, the crocoduck is a sad, solitary creature, spending it's days wandering it's territory, fighting other crocoducks and even crocodiles, and mating with (then eating) normal ducks.

Here's the crocoduck in Savage Worlds terms:

Agility d8 Spirit d6 Smarts d4 (A) Strength d6 Vigor d8
Parry 6  Pace 2 (12 flying) Toughness 6

Special Abilities: Flight (Pace 12, Acceleration 3), Jaws Attack (STR+d10), Size -2, Slow (Pace 2 on ground), Alertness.

Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d6, Intimidation d8, Notice d6+2.

[osr Challenge] Still time to join!

Hey Folks,

Still time to join the osr Challenge: A September of Short Adventure. 25 days of September, 25 short adventures.

Mine are going to be set in my Ashford Valley setting for Labyrinth Lord. I've been reviewing my 'zine Switching to Guns (where I first started using Ashford Valley) and writing like mad!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

[Resources ] Lion!

The Lion Monument is dedicated to the Swiss Guard killed during the French Revolution. Over 800 died, either in fighting to defend the King of France during the August 10th, 1792 attack on the Tuileries Palace, or were murdered after that fighting, or were killed in prison during the September Massacres. Fewer than 400 of the Swiss Guard survived.

A former officer started a collection in 1818 for the monument, which was completed in 1821 in Lucerne, Switzerland, in a disused quarry. The sculptor wasn't paid his full price, so instead of defacing the statue and the dead, he carved the nook in the shape of a pig.

Mark Twain wrote "The place is a sheltered, reposeful woodland nook, remote from noise and stir and confusion — and all this is fitting, for lions do die in such places, and not on granite pedestals in public squares fenced with fancy iron railings."

Friday, July 29, 2011

[osr Challenge] The Man in Room 5

Our fifth contestant is Nemo235 over at the Mutants and Magic blog! Excellent!

With almost a month to go before the osr Challenge: A September of Short Adventure starts, this is wonderful.

The mustache-Dragon is pleased. How can you tell? His mustache is all aquiver.

[Blogs] I took the Gygax Quiz!

Asshat Paladins! took the Hardest Gary Gygax Quiz in the World and got 10%!

You are a Gary Gygax Veteran. You probably started playing D&D in 3rd or 4th edition, and history is not your thing. You play D&D to kick ass and have fun with your friends.

Paladin Code: You completed this quiz without using Google.

Your Answers:
What's Gary Gygax's birthday? (Hint: IT'S TODAY)
No, Gygax was not born on Dec. 25. That's JESUS.
What's Gary Gygax's first name?
Fred: Incorrect!
Which of these words does NOT appear in the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide?
Non-Euclidean is correct! For once, even though H P Lovecraft used it, Gygax didn't follow suit.
What does TSR stand for?
Ted Nugent Rules! is incorrect!
What's the name of the planet that contains Greyhawk?
Pluto is incorrect!
Along with Gary, who was the cofounder of TSR?
Fred McMurray is incorrect!
Gary Gygax DID NOT write or cowrite rules for which of the following games?
Incorrect! Gygax did cowrite D&D. Maybe the "DID NOT" tricked you.
Gary once worked at what medieval trade?
Fisherman is incorrect! Maybe you're thinking of St. Peter.
Which of the following was one of Gary Gygax's D&D PCs?
Incorrect! Gellor was created for the Gord the Rogue novels, never played as a PC.
Gord the Rogue has a barbarian friend. What's his name?
Incorrect! Gord did not know Conan personally.
Bonus: What's the name of the axe used by Gord the Rogue's barbarian friend?
Big Axe Biter is incorrect! But I don't blame you; no one could have gotten this question right.

See Leaderboard

[Savage Worlds] Winter War Campaign, Session 9: Close The Door Lightly

A week or so after returning to the smugglers' cave, the whole area was hit by a raging blizzard, by far the worst in at least a century. The tunnels down to the beach and up to the plateau were blocked with snow and the secret exit in the ruined manor was frozen solid as the blizzard hammered relentlessly outside the cave.

The PCs took the opportunity to build some gatehouses across the tunnels and kept the villagers working. The cave itself was pretty snug, insulated by rock and snow, so no one was terribly cold.

During one of the work days, Sir Aerik, Jay and Nostro were directing the construction when they noticed a faint outline on the wall of the cave. It looked like a doorway and the more they looked at it, the more it revealed iself to them.

The rest of the party arrived soon after this discovery and they proceeded to make sense of the now-emerging door. Keldon recognized the runes from a book his warmaster mentor had shown him but could not read them. Nostro, taking this bit of information, was able to translate them, determining that they talked about several characters from the distant past and some confusion whether this was a vault or a prison or some sort of a storage or library area.

Big warrior Joe, with his surprising knowledge of the arts, provided more information - the lines look primitive but are very detailed and he guessed the door would go inward. Nostro also calculated that the door is cold-based, only opening in a cold environment.

After warning the villagers off, the PCs bundled up and Nostro cast a series of freeze bolts at the door. The temperature dropped under the onslaught of the wizard's eldritch powers and the door opened a little bit each times the magical power struck it.

Soon, an eerie light was seen through the crack in the door and Keldon and Joe used brute strength to press the door open all the way. Nostro also figured out that the door would only remain open as long as the temperature was freezing, so the party trooped into the revealed tunnel and Nostro cast another freeze bolt to jam it open, giving them about 3 hours to explore.

Venturing within, the party found themselves traveling down a stair and in an octogonal room, with seven doors, one on each side of the octogon. Four doors opened and strange creatures stepped forward - they looked like ice/machine golems. Swinging their huge swords, they attacked!

The battle was long and hard fought. Again and again, the golems were dealt damaging blows that should have brought them down and each time, they recovered and renewed their attacks on the party. Father Ashlyn sought the help of Iridia and performed a ritual, starting to glow in the same light as these golems. As the PCs brought one after the other of the golems down, Father Ashlyn's glow increased more and more. When the final golem was close to destruction, he channeled the glow towards it and time slowed as the powerful glow transferred from the golem to the priest.

As the party recovered from the fight, Nostro, Mort and Father Ashlyn determined that time had indeed passed. Nostro figured only 1 hour had past, while Mort thought 6 hours were gone. Father Ashlyn, however, had the correct number - 11 hours had past and the door, held by Nostro's magic, was long closed.

Examining the closed door, the party found no way to escape and were forced to brave the dangers of the hall once again.

Next time: Tests and Recriminations!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

[Resources] Team B

Team B was a commission by the CIA to analyze the Soviet threat. Started in the 1970s, the plan was to look at the National Intelligence Estimate using outside consultants.

Team B reported that the US had severely underestimated the Soviet threat, which lead to the arms buildup in the 80s and 90s. Too bad they were wrong.

Review of the declassified report "turns out to have been wrong on nearly every point," with even CIA officials calling the report's conclusions "a kangaroo court of outside critics all picked from one point of view."

What if the purpose of Team B wasn't Soviet threat assessment, but instead assessing another, possibly otherworldly, threat, and the report was a red herring?

This theory fits neatly into a conspiracy game, either using Team B as the formation of a more shadowy, deeper intelligence agency for the PCs to work for or to fight against.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

[osr Challenge] A few more ideas for my short adventures

I've been surfing wikipedia, looking at pictures to generate some ideas. Here are a few that I've thought about:

Shafts of sunlight.

A tower in the woods.

 A beautiful flower.

A sheriff.

And brambles.
If you want to take the Challenge, you can join up here!

[Quotes] Raymond Chandler

"I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun." - Raymond Chandler

Monday, July 25, 2011

[Vids] Stargate: Universe

Stargate: Universe was cancelled last December after two seasons and 40 episodes. I don't have SyFy but the whole shebang recently appeared on Netflix.

I haven't finished SG-1 or Atlantis, nor have I seen any of the movies (though I've got them in the queue), so why start here? Well, I like Robert Carlyle. He's one of my favorite actors.

So I've watched the first five episodes and it's actually pretty good. I plan on watching the rest, as time permits.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

[osr Challenge] Just a reminder!

There's a little more than a month to get involved in the osr Challenge: A September of Short Adventures. Sign up now and start planning your adventures!

No. 4 to sign up is Servitor Ludi! Excellent! I look forward to reading all your posts!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

[Characters] Neville Longbottom

Neville Longbottom rocks. Though I had no real plans to see the latest Harry Potter movie in the theatre (I'll wait for Netflix or my local library), I do have to say that this still picture of Neville holding that extremely magical Sword of Godric Gryffindor in a two-handed grip makes me want to see it just for that scene alone.

He looks like someone just kicked the holy crap out of him yet he's still standing. He's not going to sit down and quit. Oh, no, that won't do at all. He's got that sword and he's ready to finish it. No matter what.

Amazing for a character that starts as a goof and throughout the series (both books and movies), grows into something more, a hero in his own right.

So next time you look to a character for your next PC to emulate, try out Neville and the growth he experiences over the course of his adventures. He won't let you down.

Friday, July 22, 2011

[Savage Worlds] 7 House Rules

When I run a Savage Worlds game, I usually implement the following house rules:

1. Free Common Bond edge. Everyone has Common Bond as a free edge. In fact, they don't have to even write it down or have the minimum requirements for the edge. They can share bennies as they wish, following the rules of the Common Bond edge. Previously, I had used a pool of "team bennies" that the players had access to but realized that giving the players an opportunity to engage in each others' PCs was more direct when they handed their own bennies out, rather than taking one from a common pile.

2. Changing Soak Rule. Normally, the Soak Rule has the player spend a bennie to remove the shaken conditoin and it allows a roll v. Vigor to recover from wounds. However, a side effect of that is if the player doesn't remove all the wounds and the shaken with the roll, then the shaken condition still remains.

So, for example, a PC received a shaken and 2 wounds and the player spends a bennie to remove the shaken, rolls to soak, requires a minimum roll of 8 (one standard success at TN 4 and 1 raise at TN 8) to remove the wounds. A roll less than 8 but greater than 3 leaves the PC still shaken.

With this rule change, a roll of less than 8 but greater than 3 removes at the minimum the Shaken condition and whatever wound recovery was rolled.

3. Changing Notice rolls. In order to add some player agency to the game, when I have the players roll v. Notice, I describe the scene they see and if the player gets a raise, they get to define a fact about the scene. I limit it to two facts for the player that received the highest roll with raises and one fact for the two other players that receive the second and third highest rolls with raises.

The fact can be about anything and I reserve the right to veto the fact, but I try not to do that unless it really is going to mess things up for me. This has provided my players with the ability to add props or characters or even landmarks and buildings to a scene and I figure that I should be flexible enough to roll with the changes they make to the game.

4. Requesting scenes from the players. I've started doing this to get an idea what the players are interested in seeing in a game. I hand out 3x5 cards and ask them to write a scene down and hand it back. I try to incorporate the scene into the game at some point. I've received many different possible scenes, including farcical ones and they generate great ideas to run.

5. Spending bennies on facts in the game. Normally, the bennie used to reroll or to recover from wounds. Not so in my game. I've instituted a rule where players can use bennies to define info about the setting or situation. I reserve the right to veto but, as I mentioned above, I rarely do unless there's a real problem. I won't let the players simply resolve conflicts with a bennie but I do allow them to add info that could (and often is) used to gain an advantage for the players.

6.Adding questions to the game. I've lately tried a new technique - allowing the players to spend a bennie on a question about the upcoming situation (e.g. in an upcoming battle, do you have a plan? Does the enemy captain have any vulnerabilities? Is surprise on your side?).

Each player gives me a question and a bennie and I write it down. Once I have them all, I turn to another player and ask him one of the questions (one he didn't ask) and offer him a bennie if it inconveniences the player characters. If he wants to define the answer that doesn't cause the PCs any problems, he doesn't get the bennie. But if he does, and defines the problem added, he gets the bennie. If several players don't accept the bennie, I usually try to bribe the players who receive the last questions (sometimes the harder ones) with more bennies. So far, it's worked pretty good.

7. Hand out lots of bennies. It's necessary to prime the pump and keep it primed. I try to get bennies out there all the time. After each conflict, I toss out more. I bribe players to do things against their PCs (and the rest of the party's) best interest. I use them to push players in scenes and play their PCs off one another (in a good natured way). I have found that by doing this, the players are more than willing to spend bennies on themselves and each other and add to the game, sometimes for foolish reasons because they know that more bennies are going to be available soon (though there are usually points in the game where people are scrimping and saving those precious bennies, rest assure).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

[Atomic Thursday] Galtar!

Another gem from the 80s, mixing fantasy and science in a setting filled with monsters, machines and glowing swords (couldn't say lightsabers back then, even though that's what they were).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

[1938] Body Armor

Body armor in 1938: A Very British Civil War is pretty limited. The most the majority of armed forces can field are helmets but a few groups have access to more than that.

Most body armor in use was scrounged from formal military dress (like the Household Cavalry) or from museums (like the Imperial War Museum) or other collections, including German pieces that returned to England after WWI.

The most common that is fielded is a cuirass (breast only) or a corselet (breast and back). Neither are bullet-proof but they may offer some protection against grenade fragments. Most users believe that something is better than nothing.

Savage Worlds stats
Helmet: Armor +4 (50% chance v. head shot), Wt. 5#
Cuirass  (breast only): Armor +3 (from front), Wt. 15#
Corselet (breast and back): Armor +3, Wt. 25#

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

[osr Challenge] Another set of ideas for my short adventures

I'm working steadily on the 25 short adventures for the osr Challenge: A September of Short Adventures.

This time, I've got:

Wild Dogs (after seeing some coyotes in my neighborhood).

A Butterfly (plenty of them around this time of year).

A message delivered by knife.

Running (and what character hasn't been in that position?).

We'll see how the adventures turn out in September.

Joining the Challenge here!

[Resources] Tintin

I've been a fan of Tintin since I was a child. I have most of the books (still have a few that I have to find), I recently received the vids from 1990s from a family member who's also a fan and have been enjoying them immensely.

Tintin had all the adventures that I wanted to have - traveling to the moon and back, racing across the desert in a car-chase, flying planes to the North Pole, meeting up with Yeti in Tibet. Many scenes and situations in the books could easily be ported over to RPGs.

I hope the new Tintin movie is worth the wait and stays true to the characters. Even if they suck it up, on a plus side, you can talk like Captain Haddock if you want to learn all the curses.

Monday, July 18, 2011

[Blogs] A Bunch of Savages
A Bunch of Savages is a Savage Worlds blog I read. Slaine started the blog in 2007 and it remained active through 2010 but seems to have petered out this year.

Still, it's pretty cool, with cyber-characters, space-vehicles and info on his setting Future Perfect.

Check it out!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

[Resources] Simunition

Simunition is ammunition made by General Dynamics used in realistic training to simulate real ammo, creating full-recoil for standard military weapons without the full-velocity for the bullets. There's a half-dozen types of this ammo by the maker.

In addition to these simulated ammos, there are a host of others, including rubber bullets, plastic bullets, and wax bullets.

Savage Worlds stats
Simunition in Savage Worlds does half damage to regular ammo (due to reduced-recoil).

Rubber and plastic bullets are treated as single (non-burst template) applications of the Stun power.

Wax bullets do no damage unless striking the face (half damage).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

[osr Challenge] Some ideas for my short adventures

As the host of the osr Challenge: A September of Short Adventures, I've got to be on top of the writing - it's 25 short adventures - so for the past several days, I've been thinking ideas, ideas, ideas.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

Crazy chefs (after watching Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares on Netflix instant).

A Wild Boar (after posting the About a Boy example adventure).

and Spider Webs.

Whether these will coalesce into one adventure or three, we'll see.

If you are interested in joining the Challenge, sign up here!

[Savage Worlds] Winter War Campaign, Session 8: Understand Your Man

The PCs returned to the smugglers' cave and the trouble that had befallen the villagers while they were gone. The water gate was up on the cave entrance, causing some consernation among the party.

Gliding silently into the cave, they saw no signs of life - the cave was hushed and eerie. Tying up their boats, they explored, spotting a body behind a rock pillar. Rick, Sir Aerik and Nostro headed towards it, finding a villager dead - his body ravaged by foul sorcery!

Sir Aerik called out to the villagers and they suddenly appeared, surrounding the PCs with shouts, screams and cries. Sir Aerik managed to calm them and found out what happened.

A few days ago, one of the villagers ended up dead. They searched the cave but found nothing and instituted a buddy system. Unfortunately, three more (including the one over there) have either disappeared or been killed.

The PCs searched around and found the other two bodies, skillfully hidden. No one else appeared to be missing from the village and they figured the evil entered with the survivors of the caravan from episode 2.

The PCs laid a trap, figuring that the creature could shapeshift. In fact, Mort's skillful knowledge of myth and folklore helped quite well with determining what kind of creature this was.

They determined that it needed to breathe (so it wasn't hiding in the water - a difficult prospect). They also figured it could be hidden in a crowd of people and that it didn't have any (known) vulnerabilities.

They staged a funeral in the ruins of the manor for the dead and took some time observing the villagers during the ceremony. Several PCs counted those present and each came up with 1 extra body, so managed to corral the creature in a smaller section of the ruins. It made a break for it and the chase was on.

Down into the cave it went, pausing long enough to lay an explosive trap (which the PCs stumbled into) on it's way down. The creature was effectively invisible so Mort used his Weird Science powers to illuminate the area (reducing it's effective invisibility). Nostro as well cast light, further increasing the chance to see the thing and Father Ashlyn did the same.

The fighting at the end was feirce, with the PCs prevailing and the creature dead at their feet, reducing to a puddle of goo. Whether the creature revealed the location of the smugglers' cave remains to be seen.

Next session: The Doorway!

[osr Challenge] First two victims, er, I mean, contestants!

Porky's Expanse and netherworks have joined the osr Challenge: A September of Short Adventures - and they plan to have 25 short adventures for their blogs. Already, the dwarves working for them have formed committees to filter the ideas coming in fast and furious, taking the best to create minimalist adventures for you!

Thanks for joining and good luck!

For those of you who've not yet joined, click on the mustache-dragon image above and add your blog to the list!

Friday, July 15, 2011

[Savage Worlds] Empire of Bone

Be on the lookout for a new Savage Worlds game called Empire of Bone. Well, here's hope that it will be printed (after all, the few things I can learn about it are from 2005 and from Cheyenne Wright's Savage Sheets).

Supposedly, the game will be in a gothic fantasy, with loads of undead. Supposedly, it's going to be done by Randy Mosiondz (on Champions Online fame). And supposedly, it will come out "in the future."

The PC sheet is very cool, providing spots for Eldritch Edges, Skills of Suspicious Note and Minions, Lackeys and Hunchbacks. In fact, I'm using this character sheet for a Victorian-Era campaign that a friend and I are running jointly.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

[osr Challenge] A September of Short Adventures

"Oh, no! It's the dreaded mustache-Dragon!"
(UPDATED: October 1st)

The 2011 osr Challenge: A September of Short Adventures has successfully completed. In all, over 20 blogs with more than 300 adventures are represented here, using nearly 30 different game systems.

For your convenience: 
  • The adventures by blog is linked here.
  • The adventures by system is linked here.
Asshat Paladins, in association with the Mustache-Dragon, thank all the participants for accepting this challenge. We hope that you, the reader, enjoy the imagination, creativity and just-plain-weirdness that went into these adventures. If you use any of these adventures, be sure to let us know as we are all interested in how the 2011 osr Challenge: A September of Short Adventures are used at your table!

Look for the return of the challenge in 2012!

(ORIGINAL POST: July 14th)
This September, I challenge the osr blogosphere to present a month of short adventures, one a day for 25 days. And not just any short adventures, either. Adventures that don't require maps or too much descriptive text or even huge NPCs lists. I challenge you to write minimalist adventures that can be used straight from the post.

Can you write a bare-bones adventure that allows the GMs to add their own fluff? Can you avoid piling it high with extras that they're not going to be interested in using? Can you minimize wasted material that'll never even be show-cased in the game? Then take the osr Challenge!

How does the osr Challenge work?
The premise of the osr Challenge: A September of Short Adventures is to post a short game adventure to your blog every day in September, except for Thursdays. In doing this you will have 25 blog posts of adventures. It's up to you to determine whether these adventures link together.

What is an osr and do I have to use one?
Old School Renaissance (osr) roleplaying games are D20 games that harken back to the late 70s/early 80s style of play. Many, like Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry and OSRIC, are similar to the J. Eric Holmes Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (Blue Box), while some are not.

Do you have to use one of these? Not in the least - use whatever system you want (or no system at all). If you do use a specific game system, be sure to identify which one.

Can I put the mustache-dragon image on my blog?
Yes! Right-click here and Save Link As ... to copy the jpg file to your computer. Place it on your own blog and be sure to link to this post!

The osr Challenge starts on September 1st, right?
The osr Challenge is over the whole month of September. Since the month unfortunately begins on a Thursday (and I'm keeping my traditional Atomic Thursday posts), feel free to post on the 1st if you'd like. My first short adventure will be on Friday, September 2nd. If you want to choose a different "day off," do it. Just post 25 adventures over the month!

What format should I use for the adventures?
Use whatever one you want. You only need to keep it short, simple and easy to read. Avoid maps, pages and pages of descriptive text and massive NPC lists. Personally, I'll be using the Get Ready, Get Set, Go! format that I've used in a number of previous posts.

What is the Get Ready, Get Set, Go! format?
A simple format that breaks an adventure into a title, three adventure sections and NPC notes.

(Title): A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! (Game System) adventure set in (Campaign Setting)
  • Fill out the title, what game system you are using and what, if any, campaign setting you're using.
Get Ready:
  • A short, two-sentences maximum situation description. It's your elevator pitch opportunity to tell us about your adventure.
Get Set:
  • Add more information here, including why the PCs are involved, more details on the situation, and some starting NPCs and why they are doing what they're doing.
  • Here's where the PCs are getting to the meat of the problem. Include twists, turns and additional complications to the situation.
Notable NPCs:
  • Provide a detailed, yet short, NPC stat block. Include any special abilities as well as any notes for further play if the adventure is part of a continuing campaign.

Can I see a Get Ready, Get Set, Go! example?
Sure! Here's an abridged example of one I did a while ago:

About a Boy: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! Labyrinth Lord adventure set in the Ashford Valley

Get Ready:
While the PCs are at a rural farm, a traumatized boy stumbles through the fields, clutching a Bugbear longsword.   

Get Set:
The PCs could have any reason to be at the farm. The farmer, a Ferndok Eastfield, is friendly and invites the PCs for drinks and food, showing good hospitality. When the boy shows up, Ferndok is noticeably concerned. If the Bugbears are raiding, his family is in danger. 
The trip to the Westfield farm (the boy's home) is picturesque, no matter what time of year it is. Along the way, the PCs will encounter a wild boar and a roadside shrine to a local spirit. 

Notable NPCs:
Wild Boar; No. Encountered: 1; Alignment: Neutral; Armor Class: 7; Hit Dice: 3d8, Hit Points: 16; Attacks: tusk (2d4); Save: F2; morale: 9.

How do I sign up and take the osr Challenge?
Sign up below (I'm using Linky Tools 2 so you can add your blog page to this post), copy the mustache-dragon image from above, and post a link to this post from your blog!

That's it and good luck (Oh, and tell your friends about the challenge, too).

[Atomic Thursday] Blackstar!

Blackstar was not quite post-apocalyptic, but had a sciency-fantasy mix that a friend included in a Gamma World setting he ran in the early 80s.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

[Resources] Stage Combat Workshop at Eureka College

Eureka College (Ronald Reagan's alma mater) has a stage combat class. Stage combat is a skill that may be useful to characters - the ability to fake a fight, while making it look good, could be used in a number of ways, including faking out an enemy, performing for a village fair, or trying out a new technique.

In terms of Savage Worlds, stage combat can be performed at one-die type lower than the Fighting skill or using the lesser of Performance or Fighting skill. Failure results in an unconvincing fight while a critical failure ends in pain (and possibly death).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

[Resources] Matt Wagner's Mage

Matt Wagner is an excellent comic artist and author. In the 1980s, his work graced gaming books like FGU's Psi World.

But he's more well known for the two Mage series (15 issues each), Mage: The Hero Discovered (1984-1986) and Mage: The Hero Defined (1997-1999). Wagner paints a wonderful and magical world filled with heroes with magic baseball bats, villains and monsters, ghosts and myths, all mixed together in the modern world.

An annotated website for the first series is available online. I urge you to check it out!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

[Savage Worlds] Winter War Campaign, Session 7: Come Take A Trip In My Airship

After taking the Necromancer's ship in the last session, the PCs worked to gain full control. With their ship damaged and enemy nearby (but stuck on a sandbar) flying Malarky's colors, they quickly checked out their new ship - Joe and Sir Aerik, along with their crew, started transferring their cargo to the new ship. Mort looked at the two ballista on the deck and McFee worked on the rigging while Nostro found a strange device in the captain's cabin and started fiddling with it.

Nostro's actions caused the new ship to rise up out of the water, dragging their old ship with them, and started moving around. It didn't take long to figure out how to use the device to allow their ship to fly through the air.

Leaving their old ship anchored, they manned battle stations and flew to the grounded vessel. Bandits with Malarky's Crew fired at them but failed to gain any sort of success. A few ballista bolts through the deck and the majority of the bandits took to the jolly boat to escape. Five, however, stayed behind and, shouting defiance ("Get bent, McFee!"), they went below deck.

Sir Aerik, McFee, Joe and Nostro boarded the vessel, with Rick manning one of the ballista, while Mort ran the machine to keep the ship up in the air. McFee detected two of the bandits below deck and stabbed them to death through the deck with skill. The others came up in "surrender" but Rick skewered them with a ballista bolt before they could attack.

Searching the ship, they found no-one on board, so they went after the jolly boat with their flying ship. Hovering over it, they dropped their sea anchor through it, killing and drowning the rest of the evil crew.

Taking their old damage ship and the other pirate vessel in tow, they headed back to the smugglers' cave. Searching the Malarky vessel, they found a strange metal coffin. Opening it, they found an old friend from Gath, one who all the PCs knew. She was Sir Aerik's childhood friend and was being converted into one of the necromancers by the coffin.

Nostro figured that it was impossible to remove her from the device without killing her and also that it looked impossible to reverse the process. A necromancer's helmet in the coffin, if placed upon her head, would make the conversion complete (which no one wanted to do).

The crew all agreed that it would be most humane to kill her while Sir Aerik dissented, loudly stating that he'd fight any who sought to harm her. The other PCs took the initiative to shoot the coffin with the ballistas, destroying it and her while Sir Aerik attacked McPhee to stop him firing. The fight was interrupted by the coffin making "Hi, I'm a 30 second time-bomb" type noises and the crew, still fighting Sir Aerik, pushed the coffin overboard.

But was it in time? Not quite. An explosion produced a skull-shaped mushroom cloud, bathing the ship in eldritch radiation. Sir Aerik, Nostro, Rick and Joe fell to the deck, knocked into comas by the evil cloud. Thankfully, McFee and the rest of the crew avoided any bad effects (for now).

The rest of the session was spent awaking the comatose PCs and checking them for any changes that may have occurred, either in their psyche or physically. Sir Aerik awoke last, after having a particularly different experience - his friend's spirit visited him in the last momemts and thanked him for his loyalty but agreed with the rest of the PCs that death was the only solution. She also passed on the fact that Sir Aerik's dead brother, the one he killed in a duel, was the cause of her situation out of revenge. Obviously, in a world of walking dead, this comes as no real surprise.

Next session: Fight on the home ground.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

[Resources] Door

Doors are cool. They tell many things about the places they seal. Dungeons are filled with the standard wood-banded door or stone doors or even metal doors. Spaceships are protected by air-locks and doors that go *swoosh*.

They close off temples and jails, open into castles and subway trains, transport adventurers through magical and sci-fi means, and are filled with history and fantastic tales.

Think about your game's doorways. Make more of your doors.

Friday, July 8, 2011

[Sea Roads] Magic

Magic is a very personal thing in the Sea Roads and everyone, trained or untrained, is bound by it. While very few are formally schooled wizards and sorcerers, many people learn a single rudimentary craft, and even some are the equivalent of witches or hedge wizards. Apprenticeships are most common.

There are nine lores of magic: weatherworking, illusions, healing, transformation, summoning, naming, chanting, patterning, and finding. Most self- or apprentice-taught barely learn half of them, and many just a few. Wizards are skilled, at least minimally, in all of the nine lores.

There were five schools of wizardry cast among the sea, one in each part of the Archipelago. Some were destroyed by trechery or dragons, some are poor in knowledge and others still are finding that the growth of formalized magic is changing their original character.

The ruins of the most prestigious school, the School of Nyekundu, is in the Inner Sea. It was destroyed by dragons over a century ago. It is called the Lost School by mages to this day. The island, Nyekundu, is now just a barren rock and left uninhabited. Most people avoid the island, in the belief that the ghosts of the dead or a perhaps even dragon still exist there.

The Middle Sea hosts the School of Nyeupe. Several surviving mages from Nyekundu made this school their home after the destruction of the Lost School. Over time, their knowledge and their influence has increased the prestige of the school. There is, however, a contingent there who want their school back, apart from the influence of the Lost School.

The Reach Schools are much poorer, in knowledge as well as skill. The School of Njano, in the Deiseil Reach, has few wizards of power as Masters of the school and few wizards of note are thought to have come from there. The one with the darkest reputation is the School of Nyeusi in the Spinward Reach. Forbidden acts are reputed to be taught to the least ethically-challenged of the students.

The School of Kijani in the Widdershins Reach was betrayed by rogue wizards and destroyed by pirates in the last century, leaving no one alive. Kijani, much like Nyekundu, is a barren island and avoided for much the same reason.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

[Atomic Thursday] Thundarr the Barbarian!

Sadly, the days of Saturday Morning Cartoons are long gone. But one great series was Thundarr the Barbarian!

You can play it, though, with the Under the Broken Moon RPG!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

[Blogs] Destination Unknown
UPDATE: Destination Unknown is back. And, like Greg over at Dark Horse Design and Lowell over at Age of Ravens, I am Christian.

I had planned to write a post on DU for a while but I guess that's not going to happen, given the circumstances.
Destination Unknown was a great blog that I hope returns soon. Written by Christian, it was a continuation of his previous paper zines, Scrollworks and Iridia. It had great stuff that is now gone, stuff that I loved to read and planned on using in some games.

Destination Unknown, as a resource, as a gamer's journal and journey, and as a view into other worlds, will be missed from the blogosphere as well as from the wider gaming community.

Christian, I hope that this doesn't prevent you from continuing the hobby you love.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

[Resources] Magic Circle

Most fantasy games have instant spellcasting of fireballs, lightning bolts and mass destruction. Some have ritual spellcasting, taking hours or even days to cast. All of these ritual spells need a magic circle though sometimes the rules don't include that.

A magic circle either provides magical protection or creates a sacred space for the magic to occur. A combination of physical marks on the ground, which can include chalk marks, blood, candles, bones, ashes, bitumen, or holy oils, or spiritual or magical blessings in the space is required to trace the boundary.

Circles can be a wide variety of sizes, from personal to gigantic, containing dangers for those outside (like a tricky demon trapped within) or the same for those inside (like a field of ghosts waiting for instruction).

Think of what would happen if your players encountered a magic circle on the ground. How would they know if it was "active" or just some old marks? That could lead to an exciting adventure!

Monday, July 4, 2011

1776! The History Books

"It doesn't matter. I won't be in the history books anyway, only you. Franklin did this and Franklin did that and Franklin did some other damn thing. Franklin smote the ground and out sprang George Washington, fully grown and on his horse. Franklin then electrified him with his miraculous lightning rod and the three of them - Franklin, Washington, and the horse - conducted the entire revolution by themselves." - John Adams, speaking to Benjamin Franklin, 1776.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

1776! The Egg

"The turkey is a truly noble bird. Native american, a source of sustenance to our original settlers, and an incredibly brave fellow who wouldn't flinch from attacking a whole regiment of Englishmen single-handedly!" - Benjamin Franklin, 1776.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

1776! Sit Down, John!

"For ten years, King George and his Parliament have gulled, cullied, and diddled these colonies with their illegal taxes! Stamp Acts, Townshend Acts, Sugar Acts, Tea Acts! And when we dared stand up like men, they have stopped our trade, seized our ships, blockaded our ports, burned our towns, and spilled our BLOOD! And still, this Congress refuses to grant ANY of my proposals on independence, even so much as the courtesty of open debate! Good God, what in hell are you waiting for?" - John Adams, 1776.

Friday, July 1, 2011

1776! Cool Considerate Men

"You cool, considerate men. You hang to the rear on every issue so that if we should go under, you'll still remain afloat!" - John Adams, 1776.