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Category Archives: Horror Genre

Here are several illustrations I created for The Other Side of Despair. Specifically for the story “The Land of Nod”.

 

 

 

Halloween 2018 is just around the corner and I thought I would put together some additional material to go with my book, The Other Side of Despair!

The first addition is a story that I excluded from the final book. The reason I left it out is because it does too good of a job of explaining the underlying connection of all the stories. At the time, I thought the book was more mysterious by leaving out this section. But, I think it deserves to be available to anyone who wants to read it.

Kissed with Madness

The second, and somewhat more labor intensive, addition that I’ve wanted to put together for many years is a recording of Suite Insanity in E min, Movement 1-3. This is the piece of music that the insane Lucius Rivera composed in the book. This recording includes an acoustic bass in addition to the classical guitar.

I ran the Doomvault for the boys. It was a blast using ICRPG with the tweaks I discussed from Savage Worlds – Bennies and Action Deck Initiative. In the lower half of the picture above I have my notes ready for the Doomvault. We wound up using all of this space to build our story embellishments, as I’ll show in detail below.

Before we started, I went to my FNG store and purchased the giant d20 to indicate the current Target Number. I also decided to just replace the large, steampunk Hero Tokens with blue chips. So, for our game, we started with 3 Bennies (red chips used to either roll with Advantage or re-roll after rolling an Attempt) and 2 Hero Tokens (blue chips used to add Ultimate Effort to your Effort roll). I also found it easy to use 3 colors of those little counters that FFG makes (upper part of picture). Mainly used to count HP, Health, and Hearts. Blue = 1 HP, Green = 5 HP, Red = 10 HP or 1 Heart. I should also mention that the giant d6’s and d4’s (in the guise of a d12) in the picture are what we used to count Spell Burn and Battle Fury (page 80 of the Core 2e book).

Here’s the story board approach we used. The boys love this because I let them build it. First, 3 index cards are drawn from the pile (I’m using the 1st and 2nd releases because that’s plenty of Fantasy genre goodness). They can arrange them in any order they want to set up the Location, Goal, and Obstacle (see pg. 72 Core 2e). We had a door as our Goal, so we had to hide a card under which represented what was behind the door. Even though the Doomvault begins in Norburg, we inserted this into the adventure between Hag Roost and the end of The Long Pattern where the Invincibles are guarding the descent to Mirror Lake.

We found a secret passage (in the ceiling of The Pattern) that led us on a side quest. After laying out the 3 index cards and determining the LG&O, I let the boys roll the Story Cubes to help create links between the 3 cards. In the top one they decided that the first card was a map they found in the ceiling. The map contained a magic locket in the shape of a Hieroglyph. The boys don’t know about the next adventure called Eyes of Sett. I told them that we could create a cool magic property that will come in handy on their next adventure. This could be a fun way to start that adventure. The map showed a way to descend to a different cavern.

We battled some Cave Ropers to get to the door. This door could only be opened at a certain time of the day. I made them accomplish a 4 heart study of the door that needed to be finished before a 4-round counter went down. They managed to open the door at the right time and fought 2 Giant Tentacles to earn everyone a Loot Card! The group went back and we managed to sneak past the Invincibles using Kang’s magic and Moonglum’s sneakiness. To cross Mirror Lake, we did another card draw as above. I won’t recount everything, but at one point Bran was inside of a Cave Roper being eaten and managed to kill it from within with his sword Hot Knife. This method of creating the story on the fly is fun and effective at generating collaborative game play.

I also wanted to mention some good products that I picked up on DriveThruRPG. The Game Master Worksheets are nice sheets to use if you want to create a one-shot all the way up to world building and campaign design. The Moldy Codex has a great Fantasy adventure called The Lost Tomb of the Skeleton King which I’ll likely run after Eyes of Sett. I sure hope Daniel continues production of the Moldy Codex.

Finally, this Goose IPA is legit! Stay thirsty, my friend!

 

I have to say that I really love the intuitiveness and simplicity of ICRPG! These days I rarely get together with a regular group of adult gamers. More often, I’m playing RPGs with my boys who are just beginning to hit the age where I first started playing D&D.

I did, however, start them off playing Savage Worlds. I remember when I first tried to introduce them to 5e via “The Lost Mine of Phandelver”, my son missed one of his first rolls and exclaimed, “I want to spend a Benny!” Ooooo! Sorry, son, there aren’t any Bennies in 5e . . . until now.

I ran my first session of ICRPG using Hankerin’s rules for Hero Tokens and the continuous clockwise rotation, but I sure did miss SW’s Initiative and Benny system. We ran that game with no prep. We just used Hankerin’s art and some Rory’s Story Cubes to just create a cool story.

I decided to try out ICRPG using a D&D module and incorporating some SW-inspired home brew rules.

Benny Rules and Cards for Initiative

To the left of the pencil I have some large, steampunk tokens that I’m using for my Hero Tokens. Each player gets one and can use it for Maximum Effort. Essentially, this token allows a player to roll their d12 with either their weapon or magic damage so there is no reason to have any special d12s at the table – they use their d12s in their dice pool.

The Benny, however, is used to either re-roll a bad d20 roll OR it can be cashed in prior to rolling to gain Advantage on the next roll. Sometimes you roll and then just wish you could roll again and sometimes you want to cash in the Benny before the roll so that you can roll 2d20 (Advantage). Because this adds another d20 to the roll, I use the little red chips to the right of the pencil for my Bennies and have a pile of d20s on hand to toss at players when they choose to cash in a Benny.

I like this system since it allows players to use a Hero Token for Effort and Bennies for Attempts.

I did like Hankerin’s continuous initiative, but I really like the deck of cards method that SW uses. I believe it adds more suspense and drama to initiative, plus, whenever a Joker comes up, everyone gets a Benny and everyone’s attempt for the round is easy! Besides, there are times in the game (quite a bit, actually) when it’s not really anyone’s turn because the group is discussing what their next action or direction should be.

I chose to use the adventure called “Fane of the Sun Swallower” from the D&D Next book entitled “Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle”. This is a great little dungeon with some cool magic items. The first thing I did was go through and make my own little set of Loot cards that match all the magic items.

Just find all the entries for Treasure, and make your own cards. I used half of an index card and drew little pictures. My boys seem to love the tactile nature of getting a card rather than writing down the item on their character sheet.

I made a little Loot bag so I could create more as the need arises.

Besides my recent acquisition of both ICRPG books, I also recently got the Tal’Dorei campaign book and “Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes”.

I noticed in both Ghosts of Dragonspear and Mordenkainen’s the following pictures that all harken back to the original cover of the Player’s Handbook.

So, I created an ICRPG adventure that has the heroes going to retrieve the left eye of the statue. It is called “The Eidolon of Moloch”.

Hope you enjoy it!

This entry fueled by new favorite beer: Moose Drool

We’re getting ready to start a BECMI/OSR campaign and so I decided to review the following BECMI/OSR products:

  • Rules Cyclopedia
  • Labyrinth Lords
  • Dark Dungeons
  • Blood & Treasure
  • Swords & Wizardry
  • Red & Blue Books with B/X Companion

What I discovered was that all roads point back to the Rules Cyclopedia. To me, it’s the best book that I use to look up all sorts of things. It’s not the be-all, end-all of sources, but it’s my go-to.

I have to admit that back in the 80’s when I was playing original BECMI/AD&D, our group jumped on the AD&D products immediately, and I never really played too much in the Mystara setting. It’s a shame because I now believe that Mystara is the best setting for playing the type of BECMI/OSR game we’re going to be playing.

Also, we’re going to be using Chapter 5 of the RC which means Weapon Proficiencies and General Skills will be used extensively. The Mystara section and Chapter 5 are two more reasons why the RC is the source of choice. The following document clarifies certain rules that will be used in the campaign:

Session Zero for Mystara Campaign Using Rules Cyclopedia and Labyrinth Lord

To me, the coolest part of what we’re going to be running is using a very specific set of character classes. My players can only choose from the following 16 classes. These classes come from James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games:

Archer

Assassin

Bandit

Barbarian

Berserker

Bounty Hunter

Explorer

Gladiator

Pirate

Rune Smith

Scoundrel

Swashbuckler

Sword Master

Undead Slayer

Wanderer

Wild Wizard

I took all of these classes and made a resource for the players to use.

Since we’ll be utilizing Weapon Proficiency and General Skills, I found a character sheet online that has an entire page dedicated to these mechanics. I’m not sure of its origin, but it’s perfect for our campaign.

D&D Character Record Sheet (Knotwork)

Finally, the one area of adventure that I just couldn’t find a system that I truly loved was the Hex Crawl. I’m sure there are numerous systems that are just fine, but I wanted to make travel and encounters have a simple system and use the groups’ skills.

I found the perfect set of encounter tables online. They were created by Jed McClure and he calls them Wilderness Hexplore. The system was designed for a map with absolutely no idea what lies beyond the home hex you start on. Since we’ll be in the Mystara campaign world, I modified his method, but I still think his tables are pretty robust.

Jed McClure_Wilderness_Hexplore_revised

My system utilizes his tables, but it requires the party of adventurers to be more involved in taking on certain roles as the group travels. Here is the revised system that utilizes skills from the General Skills list in the RC.

Overland Travel Rules for BECMI & OSR

The Family Unit and I went to Universal Studios and Disney World for the Christmas Holidays. The entire time, the Savage Worlds part of my mind was constantly looking for ideas on how to Savage all of the creative things flooding my senses. So, I thought I would share some ideas. I’m also at a point with the new year coming where I want to decide a new Savage Worlds campaign I want to start running to kick off 2018. I’m going to talk about some various campaigns and which one I’m likely going to run.

I had been playing Adventures in Middle Earth, so I’ve been in a Fantasy genre mindset. I thought visiting Harry Potter at Universal would be a great inspiration. It was actually quite impressive all the work they’ve put into the park, rides, and scenery. I found this cool Wizard-themed deck of cards and thought It’d make a great Action Deck.

The cards have really cool artwork.

The disappointing thing, however, is that the deck doesn’t have any Jokers! Even though the box says it contains 54 cards, there were no Jokers. Only 52 cards. I feel ripped off about that.

I also found some cool Pirates of the Caribbean coins that would make great Bennies. I didn’t buy any, though, as they cost about 8 bucks a piece. I did’t want to spend a small fortune just to get some POTC Bennies.

Disney’s newest attraction is the Avatar-themed section of Animal Kingdom with its gorgeous Pandora scenery. I found these cool, plastic creatures from Avatar that might come in handy as miniatures at some point.

One of the ideas I had that involved the actual parks was to run a zombie apocalypse game where the heroes must enter one of the parks to retrieve some sort of MacGuffin. The parks would be completely overran with zombies and, thus, would be a serious endeavor to get through. To make this more fun, I thought it would be cool to use actual park maps you can get for free.

For me, the best part of the trip was the Pandora experience and the incredible sensation of riding “Flight of Passage”. That ride is breathtaking. That, plus seeing the new Star Wars movie while in Orlando, just made me really want to run another Last Parsec game.

Pinnacle has been releasing a serialized campaign for The Last Parsec in issues 2 & 3 of Explorer. I never managed to start Scientorium, so I’d really like to run those two while I’m still amped up about Sci-Fi!

In all honesty, though, I’m really looking to get into a full-on campaign that was as absorbing as Solomon Kane. A Savage Worlds classic Plot Point Campaign.

Solomon Kane was a great setting. It was the first Savage Worlds product I bought. The second product I bought is now a classic, too – 50 Fathoms. I must confess that I have never ran 50 Fathoms but I’ve heard so many people talk about how fun of a campaign it is to run. In the end, I’ve decided that I’m going to be running either 50 Fathoms or another campaign that people have said is a super fun campaign.

Saga of the Goblin Horde is what I’m currently reading and I’m leaning towards running it followed by 50 Fathoms. These two campaigns may likely be the most fun (and funniest to run) campaigns for Savage Worlds that there are. I believe these two are destined to be classics and want to enjoy them.

 

 

Just prior to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything being released, we were running some characters through the D&D Next adventures “Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle”, “The Scourge of the Sword Coast”, and “Dead in Thay”.

Ghosts is a great product to have in hard copy because it includes the adventure as well the entire rule system as it was during play tests; it also contains beasts and a huge amount of resource material. Probably the best thing I like about it, though, is the art work that spans the entire D&D oeuvre!

Of course, Dead in Thay has been redone for 5E in “Tales from the Yawning Portal”, so it can be ran using either D&D Next or 5E, even though there is very little difference.

We had gotten through a large part of Ghosts and were at 3rd level at the time that Xanathar’s came out, but I gave the players the option to convert their characters to one of the new classes since I used their characters to go through the creation process of the new classes in Xanathar’s just for my own edification. For those interested, here are the characters I created: Jelenneth Floshin (3rd Level Gloom Stalker who is a kinswoman of the famous Elven Floshin family who play a huge part in the region of Daggerford’s history); Holg (Half-orc companion of Jelenneth who is a 3rd Level Barbarian of the Ancestral Guardian Primal Path); Emporo Zuberi (3rd Level Bard of the College of Swords who is from Chult); Juma Zuberi (Younger brother of Emporo and 3rd Level Swashbuckler).

Jelenneth Floshin

Holg

Emporo Zuberi

Juma Zuberi

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve posted any RPG-related material here, but that’s not because of inactivity. It’s actually because of too much activity.

First and foremost was the publication of one of my write-ups of a monster in the relatively new mag, Savage Worlds Explorer. All of the folks at PEG that I’ve met, chatted with online, or exchanged e-mails with, have been just great people! But I have to send the big thanks out to Matthew Cutter who has been a fantastic editor to work with!

I’ve also reorganized my RPG book shelf and am chomping at the bit to dig into that beautiful Ripper Resurrected Box Set and start posting some homemade content. So, stay tuned!

Currently I’m running Adventures in Middle Earth which is an interesting adaptation of D&D 5e OGL. It really downplays the use of magic by characters and incorporates a system akin to Fear or Insanity that is called Shadow. As players continuously encounter the forces of evil, they can become affected and descend into all manner of role-playable badness. I’ve found myself having to fight the urge to Savage this game, but I really want to run it RAW before tweaking things.

I’ve also been creating new characters from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything since it was released.

We took our new characters through older D&D adventures from the D&D Next line. Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, Scourge of the Sword Coast, and Dead in Thay.

 

Another RPG I’m excited about getting in the next few days is Genesys by Fantasy Flight Games. It’ll be interesting to see the design of their agnostic RPG.

Finally, I decided to entice (force) the family to play Savage Worlds at our house since we were hosting Thanksgiving. It really did’t take much arm twisting because I let the group decide on the genre. We decided to run a Zombie Apocalypse one shot which I had run before and it was a huge success! Introducing my wife’s grandfather of 80-something years to Savage Worlds was quite entertaining. Everyone had a great time!

I want to begin by reporting a crime – a steal. Pinnacle’s Lankhmar Test Drive is about the best introduction to Savage Worlds you could ever want – and it’s FREE! Seriously, PEG outdid themselves on this test drive product and I would highly recommend this as the default introduction to new Savages!

Lankhmar Test Drive

Back to the Lankhmar campaign. We’ll likely try and wrap up our delve into the Lankhmar game we’ve been running this weekend depending on how long it takes to get through the remaining Eyes of Goro’mosh PPC. My plan is to begin the session by running the two middle adventures, then run the players through the classic D&D module White Plume Mountain converted to Savage Worlds, and finish the final adventure of the Goro’mosh PPC. This may take a couple of sessions, but that’s okay. I really like running classic modules that require the adventurers to retrieve some powerful magic item and WPM has three of them! Plus, it’s a rather short module.

Here are the monster conversions for WPM:

White Plume Mountain Encounters

Our next setting delve is going to be Deadlands Hell on Earth Reloaded and I think I might like the setting even more than Lankhmar, which is saying a helluva lot, so stay tuned!

The Last Parsec is an amazing setting with some really great adventures. It has an old-school feel that reminds me of the classic TSR game Star Frontiers.

Actually, The Last Parsec was directly influenced by Star Frontiers and Shane Hensley talks about that influence here.

Last year I ran Leviathan and it was a fun campaign. Recently, our group began running Eris Beta-V and I have to say that it is an amazing, high-action set of adventures.

We’re using the pregenerated characters from Pinnacle’s web site. I went through most of the products available for The Last Parsec and wanted to provide a possible order to do all of the adventures in.

The Last Parsec Adventure Order

  1. Omariss Death Worm
  2. Unexpected Colony
  3. Beginning of Eris Beta-V
  4. One of the first missions of the EB-V campaign can be Ghosts in the Machine
  5. Continue EB-V
  6. Untimely Discovery
  7. Leviathan
  8. During Leviathan run Catch of the Day
  9. The Enigma Equation
  10. Scientorium
  11. Pranac Pursuit

 

One of the things I like best about The Last Parsec is how seamlessly it runs with Savage Worlds and the Science Fiction Companion. I’ve noticed that Rifts is very similar in adhering closely to the Science Fiction Companion and I’m thinking about merging the two somehow. It would make for a great sic-fi setting that feels a lot like Guardians of the Galaxy.