Here are the character sheets for the Pulp Hero super team presented in individual files:
Category Archives: Horror Genre
IN MEDIAS RES RULES FOR SAVAGE WORLDS
For a while I’ve called this a Dramatic Task even though it doesn’t adhere to the SWDE guidelines for a Dramatic Task. I finally decided to give it a name and share it with the Savages community.
I use this as an opening of the gaming session because it begins the game in the middle of the action.
No Bennies for Beginnies.
Unlike a Dramatic Task, the players will be trying to earn Bennies rather than trying to earn a set number of successes on their Trait rolls. Because of this, players will not begin with their typical three Bennies. That’s right, everyone begins with no free Bennies! Characters who have the Luck Edge still start with one Benny, though.
The idea is to perform either Opposed rolls or successfully make Trait rolls that will earn a communal pool of Bennies for the group. After the set number of rounds have been completed, the Bennies may be divided up equitably or drawn from by players as they need to use them during the rest of the gaming session. Note: the GM should still award individuals Bennies for roll playing and such.
Steps to Perform In Medias Res Rules
- Determine the number of rounds. Typically, five is a good number.
- Decide if the rolls will be Opposed rolls or Trait rolls.
- If Opposed rolls, decide on which Attributes or Skills everyone will be making. Typically, it will be the same for both friend and foe. Essentially, the TN for the heroes will be derived from the foe’s roll.
- If Trait rolls, determine which Attributes or Skills each player will be using. Typically, the foe will not be making the same Trait roll for this. The TN will be 4 or a similar set number.
- Determine any modifiers that may help or hinder either side. Typically, the range is from -2 to +2.
- Deal Action cards to determine order of rolls.
- For Opposed rolls, the foe will not be dealt Action cards as their rolls will be made immediately after each player’s roll. The cards merely determine order of rolls.
- For Trait rolls, Action cards are dealt to the foes. This represents their opportunity to attack, harass, or attempt to thwart the heroes’ efforts.
- A Success = 1 Benny added to heroes’ communal pot. Failure = 1 Benny added to GM’s pot. Each Raise = +1 Benny.
It should be noted that the characters are guaranteed to succeed; the group is just determining how well they performed during this opening action scene.
Example 1. The Speeder Bike Chase (Opposed Roll)
The action opens with several Troopers chasing the heroes on their Speeder Bikes. Because everyone is piloting their bikes, Opposed rolls of Piloting skills make the most sense here. The GM determines that the forest terrain adds difficulty to the chase, but since both sides face the same terrain, it’s a zero-sum game and ignores the penalty for both sides.
Action cards are dealt to each player to determine the order of the rolls. Each time a player rolls, he or she must decide whether to spend a Benny, should they happen to have one for some reason. They are not likely to have one, though, which makes things go faster. After Player A makes their roll, the GM rolls for the Troopers to determine the TN for Player A. Note: if the Trooper’s roll beats Player A with a Raise, the GM gets 2 Bennies. Ties simply mean that neither side earns a Benny.
Player B goes next and the GM rolls again for the Troopers to set the TN for Player B.
Keep going until five rounds have elapsed.
Example 2. The Pawn Shop Scavenge (Trait Roll)
In this zombie apocalypse setting, the heroes have set up camp on the roof of a building across the street from a pawn shop that is still locked up tight. The GM determines that since one player with Lockpicking skills will be trying to open the pawn shop while the other characters distract a horde of zombies who are milling about the area, that Trait rolls will be best.
The non-Lockpicking characters decide that they will stay on top of the roof and throw rocks, bottles, and other objects down the street to try and keep the zombies distracted.
The GM also decides that the person picking the lock will be dealing with a difficult lock and a high stress situation, so they will be making their rolls at -2. Everyone else will not suffer any penalty.
Action cards are dealt to all players as well as one card for the zombies as a group. On the zombies’ turn, the GM may decide that one zombie doesn’t fall for the ruse and manages to get an attack in. Players on the roof may decide that one of their number shifts from Throwing rocks to Shooting the errant zombie. Common sense should dictate the details, but the result still boils down to whether Bennies are earned and for which pool.
Note, too, that you could add to the task that the Lockpicker must make a set number of successes on top of all the other action to determine whether the pawn shop was accessed or not.
This is a fun way to start a session of Savage Worlds with drama and action rather than just passing out Bennies to everyone as usual.
My new album of Cthulhu-esque music is out. On this one, I didn’t utilize so much classical instruments. Instead, I used the guitar in many of the pieces. Everything is still very much brooding and ominous, though!
“I saw her three days ago, and I said, ‘Is your mother still with us?’ and she said, ‘Yes,'” Kish said to KPIX. “Delusional? She was still with her. She was. She was still with her.
I am super excited about one of my stories from The Other Side of Despair being featured on the latest podcast episode of Random Transmissions. This podcast is super cool and you should go and check out all the episodes!
My new book is out! So, what exactly is it about? Ever since I was a teenager I’ve loved to read Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. If you’re not familiar with these revolutionary authors, well, frankly, you should be! Anyway, my love for their work spread into other authors within the genre of short horror stories. This genre also includes other short works that aren’t exactly horror, but overlap with it nicely – a better term might be short dark fiction, or even short gothic fiction. This includes stories that are weird, strange, bizarre, suspenseful, or scary. Think of most any episode of The Twilight Zone and you’re on the right track. This genre actually influences much art today. If you’ve seen the first season of True Detectives, there were numerous references to a work by the weird tale writer Robert W. Chambers. This work, called The King in Yellow, was actually the basis for my current book. It is a set of stand alone short stories that all share a common trope, or story arc thread within them. In the case of the King in Yellow it is a play called The King in Yellow that drives people mad. In my book, The Other Side of Despair, it is a mental institution that is the backdrop for the protagonist of each story. BTW, the title comes from a quote by the playwright T.S. Eliot: “Where does one go from a world of insanity? The other side of despair.” So, if you want to expand your mind by exploring the minds of the mad, check it out.
Infinity. The human mind cannot even grasp the meaning of such a word. To contemplate it during the brief snatches of sanity in the depths of Hell drives one right back into the screaming jaws of insanity. But it’s not an insanity of senselessness. It’s not the insanity of blank-faced oblivion. Not an empty mind defunct and destroyed behind vacant eyes. Oh No! It’s a cold, calculated insanity where chaos runs amok and logic is only allowed in to heighten the misery to the apex of suffering. It’s an insanity designed by pure, malicious evil.
The torments of Hell are a creeping, crawling evolution with no end in sight. Like mad scientists the demons react to the specimen’s actions with sterile precision. A torture may go on for years extracting every ounce of suffering from the doomed individual with only minor tweaks in administration. Each variation is a carefully calculated and shaded nuance that prevents the damned from building the least bit of sensitivity to their unique ordeal.
The longstanding formula of Hell is nine parts suffering, nine-tenths part chaotic insanity, and one-tenths part logical sanity. The latter being the small, finite hope needed to contrast and compare infinite damnation. But it is abundantly clear that the spark of hope is the real thing in each person that is being tortured.
The longstanding maxim of Hell: Hope be damned.
Thargus Ramuntula swept into the dingy cell like a flitting shadow and poured into the empty chair against the darkened wall. Thargus was a lithe and dramatic demon. He nestled into the darkness, unseen except for his slit-like, red eyes. The two malevolent eyes studied the grotesque fiasco at the center of the room with mirthful intent.
Stephan Iskander was Thargus’s current subject. A neon light projected a wavering, sometimes flickering beam of light on the form of Stephan who was strapped into a rusty, filthy, blood-caked dentist’s chair. Fat leather straps secured his arms, legs, chest and head to the chair. Stephan’s eyes were inhumanly wide with terror as he strained to look at Thargus hidden in the shadows.
It was difficult to see just what Stephan really looked like due to the large strap across his forehead and the bloody pulp that used to be his mouth. Metallic hooks were anchored at various places within that pulp; cables, stretched taunt, radiated out from Stephan’s mouth into various places around the ceiling. In life, Stephan had had a horrible phobia of the dentist and Thargus had chosen to spend the next several years playing upon this fact.
Thargus had grown bored of the most recent bout of torment and this day a profound sense of melancholy had settled over him. It was rare that he felt these saturnine moods covering him like an oppressively heavy cloak, but today he found himself in need of sharing his dour mood with his subject.
“You probably spend a lot time regretting raping those little girls, Mr. Iskander. And I’m sure you wish you could go back and change your life. Knowing what you know now you’d probably be a model saint, I’m sure. It’s funny, huh? Why doesn’t He just show you all this beforehand and then you’d all be so good.” He said the last word as if it caused pain to his tongue. Stephan only groaned and continued staring wild-eyed towards him.
“I shouldn’t be telling you this but I’m feeling rather philosophical today.” And with these words Thargus sat forward into the edge of the light as if he were about to impart some vast secret that would forever change the workings of Hell. His skin was blackish blue and his lean, red tongue momentarily worked its way over his needle-like, yellow teeth.
“You shouldn’t beat yourself up about any of it because there is no such thing as freewill.” He paused a moment for the dramatic effect, but it was lost on Stephan.
“That’s right, Stephan. From the very beginning it was determined that you would do every single thing you’ve ever done and that you would wind up right here. You might have thought you had a choice but it was always known; every little thing you would ever do. Now isn’t that a kick in the ass? The great, good, all benevolent, Big Guy created you knowing that he was sending you on a one-way street to Hell.
“Doesn’t sound like a very nice thing to do, now does it?”
Thargus paused to pick at his teeth with one long claw before settling back into the darkened chair. Just then the door to the chamber opened and a lesser demon entered. This demon wore a long white apron smeared with blood. His head was hidden behind all manner of devices including a jeweler’s loupe and a doctor’s headlamp. Stephan began to struggle and moan at the presence of the demon whose task it was to administer the excruciating tortures.
The demon paused and looked over at Thargus. Thargus grunted with annoyance and waved his hand as if swatting a fly. The demon squealed in pain and then scattered into thousands of tiny particles that disappeared into the darkness.
He continued as if there was no interruption. “The supporters of The Great and Wonderful Oz would have you believe that there is a loophole that preserves your freewill. They say that He doesn’t influence your choices; He just knows what you will choose when you freely make a choice.
“What a load of shit, right? I mean, even your addled brain should be able to see the flaw in that logic. He still knows what you will choose way before you ever existed and, yet, He still created the whole thing knowing that you would choose to be a pitiful little sex pervert – a slave to your drives and desires.” Thargus rose suddenly from his chair and began to circle Stephan, his large, clawed hands clasped behind his back. Stephan squirmed as his wild eyes tried to track Thargus’s circuits.
“Did you really have a choice, Stephan? After all, His knowledge of your choices existed before you did. Do you see the absurdity of the whole tragedy?”
Thargus stopped, grabbed the top of Stephan’s head in his huge hand, and shoved his face a fraction of an inch from Stephan’s face as he exclaimed, “Do you see, Stephan!”
Tears began to stream from the corners of Stephan’s eyes.
“The secret is this, Stephan: God isn’t the great guy he’s cracked up to be. God is a real mean sonuvabitch.” Thargus released Stephan’s head and once again began to circle the chair.
“And still, He likes to keep this whole charade going; pretending he is good and we are bad and that all you mortals have a real choice between the two. He cast me into this shit hole for all eternity because I point out his flaws – now that’s childish. And he makes you think this is all your fault, when you never really had a choice – now that’s just evil, Stephan.” Thargus stopped and stared piercingly into Stephan’s eyes.
“Wouldn’t you agree, Stephan?
“Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. Call it a rebellion, if you will. ‘Cause, even from Hell, I can still piss Him off.
“How, you ask? By bucking the rules. Going against the establishment. Upsetting the status quo. By turning Hell into a little slice of Heaven!” And Thargus began to roar with the most malevolent laughter Stephan had ever heard. It was a deep, hearty laugh that erupted from Thargus’s abdomen.
“I’m giving you the day off, Stephan.”
With the wave of his hand the chamber transformed into the facsimile of a filthy bedroom. Stephan found himself standing there, nude, his face no longer mutilated. Thargus stood beside him, his huge form dwarfing the bewildered Stephan. Stephan’s hand shot to his mouth and he felt his jaw for damage but there was none. Stephan felt perfectly whole.
But there was a third person in the room, too. Cowering in the corner on the floor beside the bed was a girl no more than eight or nine-years-old. She was sobbing and curled into the fetal position.
My story “Shockley House” was published in this year’s Halloween anthology The Yellow Booke.
I now spend the majority of my day caressing the walls – they are so clean that the shadows roam freely over them. I just sit and hum, and sing, and listen to the things they say.
The wisdom in their whispers is earth shattering. I see so many things that I never saw before. I’m beginning to realize that this illness wasn’t something that originated in me, but was planted in me by the ones out there.
I can only paraphrase their messages to me. I now see that one must sometimes pass through the fire to emerge on the other side as a new creature. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes after being burned alive. Like a butterfly awakening from a cocoon after a long period of transformation.
I see now that my life encased in this place, encased in my neurosis, my disease, my isolation, was all meant to be a cathartic process. Now, thanks to the shadows engulfing me, I have been purged. Leached of my sickness and given a clear path out of here.
They showed me worlds that shimmer and places of abundant peace where my new form will roam free. Free to wander those other lands only hinted at in their dim, ghostly visions. I know now that my flight above the guitarist was but a prelude to a journey I’m now ready to take.
Across the vast gulf of space and time there are worlds waiting to be seen. But before I can mount up with wings, I must set right the wrongs leveled on me by Dr. Kaplan, Angela, and Jeff. My preparation for tonight’s dinner has been meticulous but I must not falter. I must face this last obstacle with resolution and a steel will. My new friends have counseled me and taught me and opened my eyes to so much new knowledge that I sometimes feel an amazing sense of awe at the things the shadows say.