Friday, February 17, 2017

Frame of Reference

This blog post was prompted by a prospective reviewer of Alpha Blue.  He declined to review it because of his millennial-based reasons - he didn't feel like it or wasn't feeling it or that it might upset the feelings of his precious tumblr readers.

Side-rant: I know I'm generation x and all, but come on, youngsters!  If you agree to do something, like reviewing a book someone has freely given you for the express purpose of reviewing, you do it.  Maybe you have to grit your teeth a little or sack up, but you do what you said you were going to do.  Treating your colleagues and peers with respect is just as important as standing up (or the online equivalent of such) for transgender restroom rights.

Anyways, one of his criticisms of Alpha Blue was that it came off as "just references," rather than original stuff inspired by 70's and 80's sci-fi, exploitation cinema, etc.  That got me thinking...

First, I wondered if he was right.  Well, in a way, yes, he was.  Alpha Blue doesn't use references like, "It's like Star Wars."  Instead, it may include something like a green-skinned, insectoid bounty hunter is sitting at the bar, snorting crushed up red crystals in between delirious diatribes about the difficulty of hijacking transport ships carrying ice in the Plutonic Nebula.

Again, yes, it definitely borrows to the extreme.  It references - and then cross-references with newness sprinkled on top so that it becomes something altogether different from whatever was stolen from a single source.  It builds upon the shared memory, experiences, and impressions of popular culture.  And to some degree, I think it has to in order to be 111% effective.

Roleplaying games, as a medium, lack what a variety of other mediums have in abundance - something to help substantiate our flailing imaginations.  Literature, film, TV, illustration, music, walking around a museum - heck, even interpretive dance have something that naked RPGs (RPG sessions without any of those) don't have... additional sensory input.

Players are told what their characters smell, the players aren't directly smelling anything for themselves.  Usually, the same goes for sight, hearing, touch, and taste.  If you're watching a movie or TV show, you get to see what's going on.  That's a level of immersion RPGs don't have.

RPGs can and do create compelling characters.  However, the RPG medium rarely allows players to get to know NPC outside of their momentary confrontation with the PCs.  So, players get a few sentences of information verbally described to them and that's it.

Without any kind of audio/visual input, it can be a rather dry experience.  The imagination has to do all the heavy lifting.  However, when RPGs tap into our memory of pop culture or things we've watched, read about, heard, etc. a new dimension of reality is added.  Immediately, we go from two-dimensions to three, and everything becomes more relate-able and easier to experience.

"Easy" isn't a word that we see advertised in RPGs much.  That's too bad because the easier something is, the more it can be played with, hacked, refined, fine-tuned, inverted, subverted, brought to the fore, etc.  Easy brings new gamers into the hobby.  Easy keeps gamers coming back week after week.  Easy allows the GM to keep running those games, instead of succumbing to burnout.

Story is another thing.  In my view (and in the view of old school and traditional gaming), RPGs aren't narrative vehicles - narratives, if they come together at all, are the byproduct of playing the game (i.e. adventuring / investigating / surviving).  Events happen and it's up to the players and their characters to make sense out of the things that occur, to create a story from the experience.

Because RPGs don't do pre-fabricated stories well, those stories must be taken from other places - movies, TV shows, books, etc.  When we can refer back to prior, shared stories, archetypes, tropes, genre conventions, and everything outside of RPGs, the depth of our collective imagination increases, providing a better sense of immersion, and generally speaking, more fun.

In conclusion, don't be afraid to refer back to all the stuff you know and love.  When the sleeper awakes, don't forget your jelly babies and may the pon farr be with you... always!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Paranoia session report

Last night, I dipped my GMing toe back into a classic RPG that I hadn't experienced since about 1992.

For whatever reason, I wanted to try a slightly different approach for this session.  Instead of 1984 meets the Marx Brothers, I went for 1984 meets... something else.  One of my inspirations was the first episode of Blake's 7, another was Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

The setting and style was dystopian and slightly absurd rather than slapstick, pun-heavy, and ridiculously gonzo.  I think I pulled it off, but time will tell.  No one outright told me the game sucked.  Actually, everyone said they had a good time.  However, one never really knows, does one?

Since this was a one-shot for several people who had never played Paranoia before, I gave it my own personal hack-job.  You can read about it here and there.

The characters were named Clyde, Plank, Sepiroth, Jerrick, and Buh.  Buh stood out the most because he was the stupidest with an Intelligence score of 2, which also made him the perfect supervisor.  That little detail may not have come about if I hadn't had each player roll 2d4 x 100 for their starting credits and weekly salary.  Buh made 700, and one of the players reasoned that he would probably in some kind of managerial position.

After familiarizing them with how things worked around Alpha Complex...  Infrared lives matter!  ...they walked to the factory where they all worked.  Making them co-workers seemed like a decent starting off point for a Paranoia adventuring troupe.

The water is brown and the food has been recycled so many times, one may as well just eat poop.  However, the speakers played tranquil music, faces always smiled, and everyone in Alpha Complex seemed comfortably numb... until a fellow citizen went crazy with a flamethrower.

Plank went to investigate to see what was the matter - after all, who could be angry and frustrated in such an amazing place as this? - but was quickly charred to a cinder.  His clone emerged minutes later, catching up with the others on their way to work.

They collectively noticed a recruitment poster on the wall.  "Become a troubleshooter!  We're looking for a few disposable citizens for security clearance red.  Risk life and limb fighting terrorists, and earn an extra 100 credits per week.  The Computer needs you!"

A couple of the PCs considered it and seemed interested in finding out more information.  They couldn't locate a recruitment office, though.  Also, they had heard horrific stories of bootcamp.  So, the idea remained just that for the time being.

While working in the factory, the PCs were approached by a citizen selling clean food and water - without all those preservatives, additives, and neuro-inhibitors.  No one seemed interested.  Without any provocation on my part, all the players kept their characters within the rigid confines of a drug-induced totalitarian state.  Even though 4 out of the 5 players had never played Paranoia, they had heard about it or researched the game enough to stay within the genre parameters

There was a mandatory coffee break, even though Alpha Complex had run out of coffee years ago.  The players did a great job of improvising further details, like everyone in the break room is drinking water, but they all have to pretend to its coffee... unless they want to be labeled a terrorist and executed.

The ground shook as another bombardment took place.  Someone or something was shelling Alpha Complex again.  A few of the PCs took damage from falling ceiling.  Then it was back to work.

And lunch time!  Just before arriving at the cafeteria, they were diverted to an alternate route because of a toxic waste spill.  A citizen was mostly melted and the floor was glowing a bright green.  I had them all make Wisdom checks and those who passed had a theory - getting close may give them mutant powers.  After all, I felt bad that only Steve's character, Sepiroth, had mutant powers.  Alas, none availed themselves of the opportunity.

The detour took them farther and farther away from every section of Alpha Complex they knew.  After 3 hours of walking they came to a dead-end, filled with dust, cobwebs, a broken monitor, and the skeleton of a citizen with blue security clearance.  Additionally, there was a section of the ceiling missing.  Looking up revealed a hatch of some kind.  Sepiroth investigated but the others were really hungry and wanted to eat.

By the time they got back to the cafeteria, the toxic waste was cleaned up and they had not only missed lunch but dinner as well.  Then, Jerrick remembered that one dude who tried to sell them clean food and water earlier in the day.

They went to where he lived.  He provided them with the good stuff for a price and wanted them to break his brother out of the detention bloc.  His brother had been locked up for distributing subversive pamphlets.

By this time, the drugs from Alpha Complex food and drink had all but wore off and the PCs were starting to think clearly for the first time in years.  The Computer was bullshit and Alpha Complex sucked!

There was some floundering, but eventually the PCs decided to go for red security clearance.  They found a small red golf cart for speedy travel and searched it.  They were hoping for some better than black uniforms.  I gave them my standard 33% chance (or 2 in 6) of discovering 1d4 red uniforms.  They found 1 and Jerrick put it on.

As the night was getting late and there wasn't too much game time left, I rushed them through basic training.  They had to survive a physical challenge, an emotional challenge, and an intellectual challenge.

The physical challenge was an obstacle course.  All participated and Buh was circling the field looking for landmines... which he found.

The emotional challenge was being strapped to a chair and lie detector while being asked personal questions, such as have you ever wet yourself at the thought of terrorist activity and have you ever had sex with your sister's clone?  That one went to Plank and in response to the questions, he kept asking, "You mean today?"  And then would answer in the negative.  I rolled for the lie detector and it couldn't detect shit, so he passed.

The intellectual challenge was a room containing a bomb set to explode in 20 seconds.  Clyde was thrown in and given an option between a red, green, and violet wire to cut.  He chose the violet, which was wrong, and little bits of him flew all over the place.

The citizen in charge of the training really wanted to get to breakfast before all the sausage and egg McPoop was gone, so he passed them all.  Also, no one questioned Jerrick's credentials, so he just remained a red.

Just before they were going to eat, Sepiroth noticed a citizen with violet security clearance rushing down the corridor.  He dropped some papers - a TPS report (with coversheet).  The report claimed that an asteroid was heading straight for Alpha Complex and it was going to hit very soon.

Then, it was back to the hatch!  The PCs escaped as a couple orange security guards fired lasers. An orange uniform was stolen, Clyde wanted to make a heroic last stand, and the rest fled into the jungle at night.  They eventually came to a rainbow-robed wizard and his barbarian companion questioning a tied-up citizen of Alpha Complex.

The battle raged for several rounds.  The wizard burned a few of the PCs with his fireball and the barbarian skewered at least one guy.  So, half the party emerged from the cloning banks back in Alpha Complex while the rest stayed in the outdoors.

For the guys back in Alpha Complex, they ran into a High Programmer who was fiddling around with some special device he was given from a citizen of a lower spectrum.  Sepiroth and Buh investigated.  The High Programmer got bored, insulted Sepiroth, and handed him the device - the device which could save Alpha Complex from certain doom!

Long story short (too late, I know) Alpha Complex was saved by Sepiroth's fiddling with buttons.  The asteroid bounced away with little time to spare.  Then, they left their underground city again.  Only to return after 3 months of learning the ways of an outdoorsman with the weird device.  The hatch was locked from the inside, so Sepiroth - having learned of its power - set the thing to detonate and stood way, way, way back.

The explosion took out 8% of Alpha Complex and killed about 97 people (out of about 1,000).  This just occurred to me, but that destructive deed made the PCs actual terrorists (even though terror wasn't their goal - they just wanted to get back inside to free people, get dates, or something).  I wonder... could The Computer have foreseen future events and modeled Alpha Complex to prevent this from occuring?

Afterwards, flailsnails, beholders, mind flayers, and all the other stuff that WotC doesn't want us to use crept into Alpha Complex.  Also, women were freed (stolen) and Jerrick - fancying himself a wizard after stealing the wizard's wand - acquired an apprentice.

That was pretty much it.  So, a nice little adventure.  I think I did Paranoia justice, even though I didn't go down the typical roads of constant pop-culture references, finding every little thing treasonous, and instigating player vs player clone annihilation.

Anyways, thanks for reading.  I'll be running Marvel Superheroes RPG (second edition) next month.


p.s.  I forgot to mention one of the more poignant encounters of the night.  Plank was bossing people around with his newfound red security clearance power.  In the cafeteria, he ordered some lowly infrared to get him something to eat.  Instead of going up to the lunch line, the black uniformed citizen offered to drop his overalls and shit right there in the corridor... because at least that way the food would be hot and fresh.

It was a weird moment that emphasized how absurdly horrible some of the living conditions were in Alpha Complex (the food, the authoritarianism, and the lack of corridor hygiene) while surprising myself with such an epic gross-out.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Call of Cthulhu session report

I finally got to game again (tentacle fist-pump)!  This was last weekend.  The twins are over 2 months old now and things finally settled down enough where I could organize a monthly session of roleplaying.

I gave the players their choice of games, a variety of stuff that I already had and knew how to run.  The first voters chose Call of Cthulhu.  Figures, that's the one game that can't be GMed on the fly.  I had little time to prep, probably a total of 2 hours.  That was barely enough time to read through a scenario, let alone take notes and consider changes.

I decided to just create a new scenario from scratch.  One hour spent creating the basic framework the night before and another hour fine-tuning it the day of.  Below is a quick rundown of what happened.

If you're interested in my Call of Cthulhu hack, check it out.  It effectively cut our character creation time and effort in half.

The characters were an odd assortment from the 1920s - gangster, archaeologist, journalist, occultist, etc.  I read over the motivations in Trail of Cthulhu.  When I came to the entry for "ennui," I braced listeners for my ignorance on how it was pronounced.  Minutes after learning that it was pronounced "on-wee," I purposely referred to it as quinoa... which made everyone laugh.

It began with a ski trip to the Alps organized by The Outdoors Society - a Miskatonic University club.  The PCs were on the ski trip for a variety of reasons.

After the obligatory warning that something ominous might happen (a comet was seen overhead last night), the PCs were settled into the ski lodge, either socializing or retiring for the evening... when some kind of starship landed a mile away.

These icy shoggoths with tentacles shambled out of the ship, attempting to grab a human specimen from one of the many onlookers.  That specimen just happened to be the party's Austrian bodybuilder.  There was a struggle, a second alien, and a couple of NPCs getting melted by a milky discharge that came out of their tentacles.

Luckily, all the PCs made it out ok.  The aliens decided to cut their losses and flew away in their ship.  However, the force from their departure caused an avalanche!  Two of the PCs were buried in snow.  Thankfully, they were buried out in time and all returned to the lodge.

A year later, each of the PCs receive a telegram inviting them to Herr Zandyke's castle in Austria.  Herr Zandyke being an alumni of Miskatonic and generous donor, everyone attended.

Upon arrival, the celebration was in full swing.  About 50 attendees were present and all wearing fanciful masks.  One was a peacock with shimmering blues and greens, but also suckered tentacles hanging from where the mouth should be.  Another was a demonic spider with bulbous scaly head and membranous sacs inflating and deflating as the mask wearer breathed.

Each of the PCs was being wooed to join a certain faction and wear a particular mask pertaining to that faction.  Unfortunately, I didn't have time to work out the intricacies of these factions, but I want to flesh that out in the near future if I run this scenario again or self-publish it for The Outer Presence.

Regardless, the PCs ended up below the castle on the shore of a subterranean lake.  At the center was a small outcropping of rock, a grotto which contained something of great value.  Each PC was given a ceremonial knife and locked down there for an indefinite amount of time.

Deep Ones came for those who stayed on the shore and another Deep One protected the grotto from those who tried to swim to it.  One loss of sanity was so great the character went temporally insane. A swimmer almost drown; being at zero hit points from a vicious claw attack, he fell unconscious before reaching the rocks.

Luckily, the occultist swam over to save him before he drowned.  Meanwhile, the others were trying to break through the door in order to get back into the castle.  Thanks to the bodybuilder, they managed it.  Taking out a couple of cultist guards, stealing a car, and engaging in a high-speed chase / firefight.

Eventually, the PCs evaded the cultists and flew back to the United States.

It turns out that 3 of the players had never played Call of Cthulhu before.  So, it did my RPG fanatic heart good to pop a trio of tentacled cherries!


p.s.  For the record, "69" was rolled 5 times over the entire evening.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Total Recall: The End of an Era

I just watched the original Total Recall a couple days ago and wanted to write about it.

Back in 1990, I was sitting at home, a Freshman in High School.  My best friend called me up.  His mom was taking him to see Total Recall and he invited me along.  I had never heard of the movie and so wasn't expecting much.  This was 1990 and for the last 12 months or so, most of the movies I had seen in the theater were crappy.  The 80's were over and even though I didn't know it, my mind was preparing itself for a long, cold winter of awesome films.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised, and saw it in the theater at least once more before it left and then watched it again on VHS before buying the DVD years later.

Total Recall was great on all of the following: story, dialog, acting... Arnold may seem cheesy, but I'll always be a fan of his - plus Sharon Stone as a femme fatal.  And I love perpetual B-movie villain Michael Ironside.  As for special effects, how about Kuato?  Wow!  It's no wonder that Rob Bottin of John Carpenter's The Thing fame was in charge of that department.  And violence.  Yes, violence.  Total Recall was directed by Paul Verhoeven, who had knocked it out of the park just a couple years ago before that with RoboCop.  Lots of blood squibs, visible gunshot holes, and action sequences that you could really feel.

After Total Recall, films started going CGI.  Being filmed in 1989, it still had that 80's awesomeness that would be virtually lost throughout the 90's.  Obviously, there are notable exceptions, such as the films of Quentin Tarantino.

A couple years ago, I wrote a blog post about guilty pleasure films.  Not sure why Total Recall didn't make the cut, because I don't think the vast majority of movie goers or reviewers take it seriously.  I mean, put Total Recall up against Blade Runner and the latter will most likely beat out the former 9 times out of 10.

And yet, mind-fuck-wise, Total Recall beats Blade Runner hands down.  Plenty of people want to believe that Deckard is probably a replicant, but there's no real evidence to support such a theory.  And even if there were, him being one doesn't truly mess with the audience's sense of reality.

On the other hand, we still have no way of knowing if Quaid's experiences were part of a man-made virtual reality or authentic.  Furthermore, if it wasn't real - we also don't know if his matrix-reality went according to plan or if he suffered a schizoid embolism, as was mentioned a couple times throughout the film.  Plenty of evidence suggests any of the three possibilities could be true.

Lastly, let me mention Venusville, the movie's Martian red-light district.  It shouldn't be any wonder that Total Recall was an influence on Alpha Blue.  From the three-breasted hooker to sleazy sci-fi partners in crime.  In fact, the next adventure I come up with for Alpha Blue, will undoubtedly have memory implants, schizoid embolisms, alien artifacts, a shadowy government agency, even more three-boobed prostitutes, and a little ugly-baby mutant hiding out in someone's abdomen.

I still haven't seen the remake, by the way.  I've heard it's not good.  Eventually, I'll have to see for myself.

Thanks for reading.  Here is some FREE bonus stuff for Alpha Blue to give you a taste of what's to come.  Enjoy!


p.s.  Just a word on the phrase "guilty pleasure movies."  There's nothing wrong with them, and it's not like they're actually bad.  In fact, these movies are usually super fun - way more fun than Academy Award winning films.  It's just that they're not going to make anyone's top ten list and no one's going to put them in the Presidential Cultural Preservation Vault (I just made that up) so that centuries from now post-apocalyptic scavengers can go through all the work of reverse engineering DVD players just so their mo-hawk and leather ass-less chaps wearing tribe can watch Total Recall, Big Trouble in Little China, or Fight Club.  Although, now that I think about it... they probably should.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Child's Play 2

About 3 weeks ago, I ran a quick fantasy RPG session for my two eldest daughters (Briella is almost 6 and Illyria is 4).

I call it "D&D," but it's really the most free form, rules light, and no-frills (meaning that we don't worry about much) version of D&D you could ever play.

 First session is here.  I brought up the idea of playing multiple times and Briella just wasn't interested.  So, I assumed it would be a cold day in Hell before I'd get her into another game.

It just so happens that school was called off on account of freezing rain, icy roads, and all around shitty winter conditions.  Briella was helping me get my youngest daughter, Trinity, up for the day.  Trinity's room was semi-dark, so Briella turned on this little green lamp on the dresser.  It made the room seem weird and kind of creepy.

I'm almost sure it was Briella who suggested that we play D&D under these conditions.  So, I got my stuff, told Illyria she could join us, and started things off.

Briella wanted to play a new character.  Illyria followed suit.

Briella played Melody, a magic-user princess with a pet bunny as her familiar.  Illyria played another magic-user princess named Beatifulness with a pet cat as her familiar.  Trinity is only 19 months old, so I made her character an imp thief named Tres.

That's all the character creation we needed.  The three adventurers were in a local tavern in the village of Elslow.  They had lived in Elslow all their lives, only journeying to the Tower of Soft Black Stars for their apprenticeship in sorcery.

As they were seated around a wooden table, enjoying refreshments, they noticed a cloaked stranger enter the tavern and look around.  He sat down at their table, introduced himself as Urstan, and told the three of his mission - to find adventurers who could clear out the local dungeon.  This nearby dungeon is where monsters live... monsters who come up to the surface at night and cause mischief.

Both girls were impatient to explore the dungeon, kill monsters, and take their treasure, so I sped things up a bit.

After some traveling, the three stood in front of a cavern shaped like the yawning mouth of a monstrous giant.  Hesitant but eager to get in there, they entered and walked into a side-cave containing 4 goblins.  I gave them a list of options: attack the goblins, talk to them, or leave them be.  They decided to attack.

Melody attacked first with her dagger.  I asked Briella if she'd rather use a spell, but no - t'was the dagger.  Briella needed to roll a 3 or better on a single six-sided die.  She did and the first goblin was stabbed and killed.

Illyria also wanted to use her dagger, despite my suggestion that she cast a spell.  She also hit and another goblin died.

With two goblins remaining, one attacked Beautifulness, slashing her leg.  The second goblin missed.  Almost forget, one of Briella's conditions before agreeing to play again was that they couldn't be killed.  I agreed.

Even though I assured Illyria that her character was alive and still had her leg, she up and quit the game.  Briella asked me to play her character for the remainder of the session, so I did.

Briella decided to cast sleep on the goblins.  She was successful and both slept as Beautifulness (now played by me), slit their throats.  They only had 9 gold pieces between them.

The next cave was based on an idea that Briella had while I was doing something for Trinity.  In the center of the cave was a gold statue with several humans in strange clothing standing around the statue.  At the far end of the cave was a door, the likes of which the PCs had never seen.

Briella wasn't sure what to do, so I asked if she wanted to talk to the humans.  She did.  They were foreigners who had been invited to clear the dungeon by the cloaked Urstan.

One of the humans was a wizard with a long gray beard named Ivellios.  He had been studying the runes outlining the door, and was ready to open it.  They were clearly magical.  Ivellios swung the door open, revealing a black portal.

Beyond was an unfamiliar countryside, rolling hills, a dark forest, and on the other side of the forest was a castle.  Melody wanted to reach the castle, so off they walked.

Halfway through the forest, the adventurers heard trolls.  Two of them chopping trees with large axes.  Melody wanted to attack them and cast sleep again.  She was successful, but only put one of the trolls to sleep as trolls were stronger than goblins.

Playing Beautifulness, I cast an ice storm to cut the second troll to ribbons with little shards of razor-sharp ice.  I rolled well and soon both trolls lay dead.  The trolls carried gemstones with them, as well as, a magic item - it was a gold scepter with ruby centerpiece and two snakes carved onto one side.  No idea what it did.

It wasn't long before they had reached the castle.  Inside was a handsome prince.  Melody turned down the prince's advances; however, Beautifulness, again played by Illyria, was very interested.  Soon enough, the two were married in a brief ceremony.  The reception was furnished with all manner of delicious foods and drinks.

No time for a honeymoon, as the adventurers wanted to get back to the dungeon.  Then one or more things came up and we had to stop the session there.  All told, we probably only played for an hour, but it was still fun.  These mini-games keep my GMing muscles from completely atrophying.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Get paid for your play reports!

This post explains the recent hubbub over Girls Gone Rogue.  There's also a thread over at TheRPGsite where someone wonders if people actually play Alpha Blue.

I realize there are precious few Alpha Blue play reports on the internet.  Actual play reports are important - especially for Alpha Blue - because it shows how and why the game is played.

So, I'm looking for more play reports, and I thought it was about time someone incentivized that shit...

In the month of February, anyone who posts their own Alpha Blue play report on an RPG blog will be eligible to win $25 (sent via paypal).  The winning play report will be judged February 28th on the following criteria...

  • Length - don't write a novella, but it should be long enough for readers to get into it while learning about your session, players, approach to GMing Alpha Blue, etc.
  • Genre - your play report should showcase what Alpha Blue does best - scifi, sex, and comedy.
  • Highlight the game - also, don't be afraid to showcase various material from the books (Girls Gone Rogue, Universal Exploits, and Slippery When Wet), such as random tables you've rolled on, technology used, NPCs met, etc.
  • Grammar - if your post reads like an 8th grader threw it together the night before it was due and never bothered to proof read it, I'm taking points off.
  • Enthusiasm - readers want to feel that you're having a good time, enjoying yoruself and loving the game.
  • Entertainment - the adventure itself should be fun to read; posts should capture those little details that make readers feel like they were there, participating.
  • Response - even the best blog post - if no one reads or comments - isn't going to be as useful as one that gets a lot of attention.  Marketing is key.  Get the word out.  I'll be helping with that, but I can't do it all.

Let me know if you have any questions about this contest.  Good luck and may the best actual play report win!


Friday, January 13, 2017

Girls Gone Rogue reviewed and on sale

Alpha Blue was an experiment in bad taste.  I wanted to create something for a sub-genre of sci-fi that gets very little attention... the kind of sleazy, raunchy, ridiculous, gonzo, porn parody kind of sci-fi that only existed on late night pay-cable back in the 80's.

Girls Gone Rogue was the follow-up supplement.  It's one part what I wanted in an Alpha Blue sourcebook, one part what I thought Alpha Blue GMs, players, and fans wanted, and one part middle finger to all the uptight, repressed, censorship-happy motherfuckers out in RPG land who would cast me into the pit of darkness and fire for daring to create such sordid filth.

While I could have gone even farther with GGR, I'm happy with the level of juvenile naughtiness and mad-cap space panty raid type shenanigans I achieved.

Without further ado, +Kasimir Urbanski (The RPGpundit) himself recently reviewed GGR.  And he even got some flack for it.

To celebrate, I've drastically reduced the PDF price of Girls Gone Rogue.  Thanks for everyone's support!


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kort'thalis Publishing Day 1/11

For the longest time, 111 has been my number.  It has tons of associations for me and I consider it to be the numerical representation of myself.

Anyways, I'm having a sale today!  Below are three PDFs by Kort'thalis Publishing that have been drastically reduced in price (for a very limited time)...

Liberation of the Demon Slayer

How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss

Universal Exploits

If you'd like to leave a review of one or more of my books, I'd greatly appreciate it.  Have a wondrous January 11th, everyone!


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Personalized D&D

At some point, I'm going to run D&D again.  It's going to be old school and awesome!

This here blog post will stand as a record for all the stuff I'm thinking, the stuff I want in it and want out of it.

Why can't one play a certain edition or version straight out of the box?  Well, in this day and age, a GM can pick and choose the things he likes.  This is 2017, after all.

We don't need another retro-clone, just a list of preferences.  Here we go...

My Personalized D&D

  • I shouldn't have to mention this; it should be common knowledge... the foundation upon which all traditional RPGs are built, but these are strange times.  Rulings over rules.  The GM is a benevolent king who may do as he pleases.  Whatever the book says is merely a guideline for me to follow, discard, or warp to my own godlike will.
  • I want races and classes - quite a few of them, like assassin, illusionist, monk, etc. but nothing too "out there" or silly.
  • I want level limits for demi-humans and who knows what else (gotta love stereotyping!).
  • I want those flavorful names PCs get at each level.
  • I want 3d6 in order (one re-roll in exchange for some kind of drawback - like a dark secret).
  • I want ability score prerequisites in order to qualify for certain classes.
  • I want players to start with multiple 1st level characters, the majority of which most likely get slaughtered within the first couple sessions.
  • I want to go back to the Law, Neutral, and Chaos alignments.
  • I want individual Experience Point charts by class and XP bonuses based on higher, class-relevant ability scores.
  • I want XP to come from monsters defeated, challenges overcome, suffering endured, and treasure spent/used.
  • I want decent ability score modifiers that make a difference in play.
  • I want some kind of Honor score or rating, borrowing the concept from Hackmaster and twisting it to my liking.
  • I want those funky individual saving throws like wands and death-rays and shit... just cause they're a ridiculously nostalgic throwback.
  • I want to encourage the use of hirelings, henchman, and retainers.
  • I'm pretty sure I want to use the advantage/disadvantage mechanic in 5th edition.
  • I want ascending AC, naturally.
  • Rather than use feats and skills, I'd rather have a few basic class-based abilities and everything else described / roleplayed as it comes up in play.  If it's ability score dependent, then roll under to succeed (2d6 for easy, 3d6 for average, and 4d6 for the really hard stuff).
  • I want to use my critical hit random table in The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence
  • I want the players to either choose or roll for their characters' adventuring motivation (found in Liberation of the Demon Slayer).  Any background besides that is up to the player to provide at any point - before, during, or after the first few sessions.
  • I want to focus on exploring a (mega)dungeon with occasional wilderness and urban dalliances.
  • I want this to be a long-term campaign that goes from awkward, fumbling peasant to noble lord holding a vast domain.
  • I want the campaign to begin fairly medieval-ish, becoming increasingly non-standard, weird pulp science-fantasy as it continues.
  • I want the campaign world to get fleshed out as need be, rather than writing everything out ahead of time.  Many things will be improvised!
  • I want the campaign to be a sandbox instead of linear scenarios.
  • Not sure what I want to do with magic, but I'm considering using the mercurial table for spells in the DCC rulebook.
  • I want to go "middle of the road" with magic items - not too stingy, yet not overly generous [see below].
  • I want this to be a weekly game, around 4 hours per session.
  • I need it to be face-to-face.  Virtual roleplaying is for one-shots!
  • This campaign is going to have a name.  I'll come up with something later...
  • As mentioned previously, I've decided to go pro.  So, I'll be GMing for cash.

Magic Items

If it's magical, then chances are that it only exists below ground - with all the monsters, traps, and strangeness.  

Magic items are either kept or taken into subterranean depths because of their inherently chaotic nature.  All sorcery is tainted with darkness, as taught to wizards by demons, devils, and foul abominations too blasphemous to name.  Magic items, everything from a +1 sword to the wand of Orcus, has been either forged by infernal beings or touched by them.

Magic items found in dungeons and such places are subtly cursed and likely to exert a Hellish influence.  In fact, I'd like to cultivate a medieval Hellraiser kind of eldritch bloodbath aesthetic the farther one goes into the dungeon.

This is as much thinking as I've done for the setting.  Below is the sort of random table I might roll upon when a new magic item is discovered.

Magic Items (Forged by Demons)
  1. Allows the one possessing the magic item to communicate with all infernal races.
  2. The one possessing the magic item shifts alignment one step closer to Chaos.
  3. The magic item requires the shedding of blood to function (innocent blood increases the item's potency by half again as much.
  4. The magic item is intelligent and speaks - continually advising the item's possessor on "the best course of action."
  5. Cumulative 1% chance per day the magic item's creator takes control of the one who possesses it.  This domination lasts 24 hours and the cumulative chance resets after demonic possession.
  6. This magic item allows its creator to see and hear what's happening around the item.


This is all subject to change, of course.  I've got oodles of time before anything like this can actually take place.  Reading Grognardia has had a powerful affect on my mind.  

Anyway, thanks for reading and feel free to comment with your preferences, or tell me what you think about my own.