Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What I Run When I Run Games (for now)

I'm starting to run games on G+ again - here's my current thinking about what rules I prefer.
This isn't the result of ponderous study and careful evaluation of each edition of DnD and OSR games and the implications on gameplay of each rule involved. This is the result of thinking about what I do instinctually, and how to communicate that to others, so that we may all take the fastest route to where the fun is. I may revise what I'm doing as I get back to reading rulebooks, and I'll try to let people know, but this is how I'll be doing it this month for sure.

Lamentation of the Flame Princess will be the base for most things.
Non-combat actions are as AD&D (2e?) - the player tells me what they want to do, I ask questions, and if necessary, they roll against a relevant ability score (trying to roll under). Some rolls (especially social) will be heavily modified by roleplaying or otherwise convincing me.

PCs will be FLAILSNAILS at the start - IE characters from other settings. They will use the ruleset of their originating game for things the players resolve, and using the above and below when the player doesn't remember the relevant rule, or I deem the original rule incompatible.

Spells from LotFP, AD&D, and AD&D 2e are available to PCs - but...

MAGIC WORKS REALLY DIFFERENTLY from other settings and rules. 

I'll post more about how magic works as the PCs discover it.

I'll post more about everything as the PCs discover the setting - monsters, factions, environments...

Including native PC options, should the current PCs endeavor to gain native allies or otherwise cultivate goodwill from native factions.

Any questions?

Oh, and there's an itchy part of my mind that wants to go full Stormbringer! next year, and run a modern horror game, but we'll see what time allows.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Goat-men direct Q-Bot to the launch controls, the scientist Grantz caught up directing other Goat-Men at another set of controls.

Q-Bot quickly intuits the complex and alien system of controls (crit WIS), and goes to work helping the craft launch.
The castle shakes and tumbles, and all your instincts are to run for cover. It feels like every earthquake, a warfare of space, stone and metal, glass and air in a territorial battle. Then -liftoff! -BUT!!
Q-Bot realizes a critical stabilizing control is just out of his reach. He leaps for it, just missing (failed DEX)! Sir Ward sees what is going on and leaps in, only managing to topple on top of Q-Bot. The Goat-men scramble for the lever, but Q-bot knows it is too late.
Grantz helps up the grim adventurers, whispering "Thanks for distracting the Goat-men with the simulator so I could get this thing launched without distraction."
(got a couple weird results that meant Grantz succeeded in launch without your help. Not a likely thing to happen in any step.)

Lucien deftly commands the team of Ward and Q-Bot at several banks of controls (INT&WIS successes), steering the craft in a trajectory toward Grantz's home planet.
The dungeon levels of the structure burn off in the atmosphere, and any NPCs left in the cells are dead. The castle area is secure and has a life-support system, so your characters are ok.
However, all the goat-men and dog-men turn into normal goats and dogs and infants. Congratulations, you now have 266 Goats, 34 Dogs, and 300 infants.
Oh yeah, and one spider.

As you get further into space, a wormhole appears! After some debate and nervous looks at oddly rectangular asteroids on the viewscreen, it is decided to go through it. Again, Lucien deftly navigates and the crew manages to steer the craft while the rest of you try to corrall farm animals and infants.
(good rolls all around, damnit.)
You speed through tunnels of light, glimpses, that's impossible! But that looks, he's dead...AHEM anyway.
Grantz has awakened the castle's computer system to try and help with controls.
The wormhole was a shortcut to Grantz's planet! (goddamnit your dice luck). He initiates landing protocols as you speed toward the planet's atmosphere...

The ship's computer takes over controls! It refuses to answer questions and settles into orbit around the planet. The controls do nothing. (finally! The dice do something interesting).
S.pace T.ravel A.utomated N.avigator and A.dvanced S.ecurity wants you to tell "him" riddles. If he likes them, he may give you certain controls. If he is not amused, well, he doesn't need the life support to stay on...

You are currently orbiting the planet, with 12 hours' oxygen...WHAT DO YOU DO?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Creepy "Empty" Room Features

Inspired by a recent post by +Humza K , and just in time for Halloween, here's a list of features for "empty" rooms that hopefully help establish or maintain a creepy horror vibe.

1. Rat corpse, dismembered in a way that indicates cannibalism by other rats.

2. A feast has been prepared, a fire is roaring in the chimney/pit, but the floor is caked with dust and the footprints of vermin. The feast has not been touched by decay or animals.

3. A lived-in room, once-nice things worn with use, a radiator along the wall is roiling with building heat and releasing steam in a growing hiss.

4. A stark but clean room, full of life-sized figures seated on their ankles. It is nigh-impossible to tell if they are very still but alive, well-made statues, or automatica. The ambient breeze complicates testing for breath. There is a sense of intruding.

5. Items lay in disarray, covering the floor and every surface; papers, food scraps, clothing, tools; clear signs of use but not any sane organization.

6. A workbench with tools hanging from hooks. Someone has recently crafted a perfect replica of an item owned by one of the PCs, which is still on the workbench. (Then the candles blow out?)

7. Air rushes into the musty room as you open the door. A chair moves, the curtains ruffle as if shaken.

8. A comfortable, well-appointed seating room with a severed finger in a goblet.

9. Prison and torture chamber, empty now, cleaned poorly.

10. Everything in this room is in visible negative, including any who enter it. Color and shade are reversed.

11. Growling and scratching from within the walls. You are compelled to whisper.

12. Scratched stone, burnt wood, scattered plant dyes. A crude replica of something the PCs have recently discussed is on the floor, fashioned by clumsy, large hands.

13. There is a map of this area beautifully engraved and painted into the tabletop or wall. In some of the rooms, there is a red X next to a recently painted name - some the PCs, some not.

14. Many live rats hang from strings attached to the very high ceiling; there is also one cat.

15. All the shadows are the wrong direction from the firelight; any PC entering the room's shadow will detach and flee.

16. Half the room is carpeted green, half red. An old skeleton with a dagger through it's heart and a scrap of parchment that reads, "the bravest move left". Old "armor" that turns out to be made of upholstery.

17. Many insects lie dormant under rugs and furniture in this room, only stirring as creatures enter and make noise.

18. 1-2 raggedly dressed figures with horribly distended features do nothing but scream. Manacles hang from the wall. The creatures will not defend themselves, or stop screaming.

19. A large black horse, grunting and steaming, it's eyes red. It's too big to get out of the room, and will turn toward any intruders to stare intently.

20. Exactly like the room in this spot in the last area, down the the finest detail.

Discuss or keep the table going on G+ here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dispatch from Airlann

To: Daimyo Matsushita Katsu
for immediate copy to The One Honorable Shogun of the Empire of Three Suns

An Elephantitan has been spotted near a town at the edge of our occupied territory. It is unknown at this time under whose providence it appears.
-the Seamair Óg rebels have acquired one and are preparing for a raid
-The Sidhe required an illusory cover for some trick or other mischief
-A Thamud group have travelled here from near the Colossal Wastes. As trade has not been interrupted, it can be surmised there is no war party, but otherwise the motives of such a group would be mysterious.

If the Seamair Og, they likely acquired one from the Thamud or Waste Giants; either way, it may be a way to get one of these groups to assist in patrolling our farther borders.
If the Sidhe, a high alert for shapeshifters and new love must be issued, but proof must be gained first. I await your wisdom in this matter.

Your faithful warrior,
Takenaka Daisuke

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Hell of Jakob Isaacsz von Swanenburgh and inventing religions

Zak S's latest excellent art post got me paging through my Rembrandt book again, where I ran into (a better reproduction of) the painting below, by Rembrandt's first master, Jacob Isaacsz von Swanenburg (as it's written in the book; the post title is as it's written on artnet)
"It appears that he...specialized in depicting street scenes, architectural views, and nocturnal occult subjects."
 -Rembrandt, by Christopher Baker, Brompton 1993

The Sibyl showing Aeneas the Underworld

Breugel not enough for you? Swanenburg seemed to specialize in scenes of hell with a gaping maw at the lower right.

You could make a game out of catching the similarities and differences between the above and below:
Charon's Boat

Canadian death metal band Sympathy used a detail for their 2005 EP Abyssal Throne (well, their designer Samuel Durling did):

These aren't anything necessarily revelatory, but kind of fun:
Harrowing Hell

The gate-demon in this one is kinda like Falcor gone very wrong:
The Final Judgement and Seven Deadly Sins

His The Fall of Troy is a departure:

Thinking about Seven Deadly Sins solidified something I've been thinking about regarding inventing fantasy religions, based on how I think some real religions formed.
If you have a history for your setting, or just some ideas for it, think about what things the authorities would have had trouble getting the populace to do in different regions, what behaviors they would have wanted to encourage or discourage in the populace. The religions that would promote that which those in authority want to encourage and make taboo that which the authorities wanted to discourage would have gotten a boost from those authorities, and be more dominant.
Wish I had more time to develop that, but it's a start.

Monday, September 22, 2014

There is only The City

I'm working on too many things to run games for at least another month, and don't have the spare brain cycles to make new posts, but I thought I'd raid my drafts folder for interesting almost-finished things, polish them, and dribble them out over the next few weeks, probably Mondays.

Things keeping me busy, if you're curious:
-drawings for winners of The Crystal-Headed Contest,
-a sandboxy historical-fiction sci fi adventure that may get published at some point,
-ideas for a new setting that I'd run in a home game and online simultaneously that's quite different from what i've run before, but also similar,
-and non-gaming related comics and stories.

I wrote the below in 2012 and here it sits, a draft still. I feel like I posted this at some point, but can't find evidence of that, and so here - I hope it inspires someone. I posted some tables I wrote to go with this prompt last year.

[Images: From "Dream Isle" by CJ Lim/Studio 8 Architects with Thomas Hillier, Maxwell Mutanda, Rachel Guo, and Ed Liu, from Short Stories: London in Two-and-a-Half Dimensions]. I saw it on BLDGBLOG here.

The mad say there is a city outside time; that it is some obscure mechanism of time. Ugly at first, for one has most often reached it through that dull, monochrome waste which surrounds it, The city's many colors become comforting and familiar after long hours. The mad describe this City as a repulsive mental embrace, squamous and cold, into which one settles as it becomes warmed by one's own heat; a wrinkle of the mind whose very cloying nature becomes respit.

Sages and scholars who have studied it claim that all who travel between worlds appear in the City, as a patch of light or shadow, an instant too short for the traveler to notice. Finding a way to linger a moment longer, they would find it strangely familiar, adventurers and devils both, though they could not say why.

Sages and scholars claim there is much to be gained in the City: great knowledge, deadly weapons, odd treasures, ideas out of time. Perhaps the City lies at the heart of all things, and if one found a reliable way to reach it, one could traverse time and the planes at will. Without a doubt, those who claim knowledge of The City are mad. Their minds could not contain what is in the cracks between worlds, and have ruptured.

One such sage now requests your attention. Beneath a lonely mountain he believes he has located the lost mechanical city of Abah-tai. It is not the City of faded color described above, but Garallur believes the ancient Abah-taiese had found some trick, some mechanism for traveling Between; indeed he claims they could visit The City at will and had established trade with other planes. Garallur needs adventurers to accompany him into the mechanical city and discover what lost technologies there may be. He offers pay, and the lion's share of whatever wealth or weapons are found.
Abah-Tai was lost at the height of it's power an age ago, sunken beneath the ground in a momentous geological event. If you are successful, you could be the first sane person in a millenium to find the secrets of not one lost city, but two.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Santicore 2014 Requests Are Open!

As a humble requestor this year, I'm delighted to see the crack team of Hellves and Paindeer get things rolling.

Go request stuff!