The new and improved defender of RPGs!

Saturday, 26 May 2018

RPGPundit Reviews: Black Dogs Issue #2



This is a review of the RPG zine "Black Dogs", issue number 2.  I previously reviewed issue #1 here.

Black Dogs is written by Davide Pignedoli, published by Daimon Games. It is labelled as a "Lamentations of the Flame Princess Compatible Product". The material in Black Dogs is described as a "dark fantasy collection of house-rules, materials, adventures and monsters, a toolbox to generate new content for OSR systems, particularly focused on Lamentations of the Flame Princess."

It is in a softcover booklet format, the front cover showing a black and white image of a renaissance figure with a big sword. The interior has only a couple of black and white images.  The booklet is 44 pages long.




The same introduction as in the previous issue is presented in this issue. This is a zine dedicated to presenting a set of house-rules that adapt LotFP into the author's vision. In short (according to the presentation) less focus on horror, and more focus on "monsters, wilderness and communities".

I had commented back in my review of issue #1 that it was clear the author was not a native English speaker, and while in general his command of the language is quite good, the issue did have a variety of slight errors of grammar and sentence-structure that made his lack of native fluency obvious (at least to me). It seems he was already aware of this, because in this issue he posts a call for native editors and proofreaders (and that wasn't thanks to me, since this issue came out before I did the review of issue #1).

The first actual section of the issue is "presenting the world", where he talks about how his setting is "Europe of the late medieval times, only darker and grittier than our real world". Mythical creatures and magic exist, and their influence on human history was for the worse. This is pretty similar in general terms to my own Dark Albion; but in Black Dogs the author explicitly "assumes you'll be playing in continental Europe, not in England". So hey, if it turns out to be well designed, maybe there's stuff in here of use for Dark Albion players? We'll see.

You get basic descriptions of the terrain of Europe; this to me seems totally self-evident, but I guess there might be some particularly uniformed gamers from parts of the world other than Europe who might not really know that Spain has mountains, or that Poland is mostly flat.
The description of religion is equally basic, saying stuff like 'every village has a church, and there's also lots of monasteries'. Or that people go to church at least once a week. That's OK, again, in that some people might in 2018 might not know this. But then he claims that "five out of six people" will break religious rules for personal interest. I think that's a highly cynical view, and not really accurate to the medieval perspective. Even more so when the PC suggests optionally presenting the Reformation in their setting. The Reformation would never have actually happened if people cared so little about religion as to break religious rules 5 out of every 6 times.

He also suggests that the nobility is aware of being in decline; I think that this is premature if the setting is taking place at the early stages of the Reformation.

So most of this first section (6 pages) is of stuff that is really basic, and (in my opinion) occasionally inaccurate. At the end of the section you get information on the Black Dogs. We're told they're "not mercenaries" and yet they "solve problems with force" and "demand a fair price".  Um... that sure sounds like mercenaries to me!

They do have a "Code of conduct" though. It doesn't amount to all that much: fight against demons, monsters and evil humans, protect innocents and children, working commoners, and humanity in general. I guess that does make them particularly honorable mercenaries.


The Encumbrance rules are next. The rules are changed from the LotFP standard; mainly in that your ability scores (Con and Str) are used to determine the number of items you can carry.A sample inventory sheet is provided.
There's a few other rules on equipment too, for example, in this house system, silver weapons do less damage than normal weapons and are prone to breaking. I guess that would make sense, if they were made of pure silver rather than silver-plated. To make up for this, silver weapons do double damage against monsters with a vulnerability to silver.
Lists are provided for a variety of weapons, including the number of encumbrance slots they take up, and cost in silver pieces. None of these weapons are unusual, apart from maybe the gunpowder weapons. The gun rules provided are similar too but somewhat simpler than the weapons provided in the later edition of LotFP or my own Lion & Dragon.
Armor is also provided, but it is strictly fantasy-medieval; it's neither 17th century armor like later LotFP, nor is it medieval-authentic armor types like I provide in L&D. finally, there's also a list of basic equipment, which again is nothing too suprising.

After this we get some guidelines for the GM as to when to roll dice.  The main advice being that if there's no good reason (in terms or danger, time constraints, conflict, complexity, or what have you) the GM should just allow basic 'skill' type attempts to succeed, unless he thinks it's impossible in which case it should just fail. That's good basic advice, and again, I guess there might be some people who actually need to hear that. Unfortunately, right after that the author suggests that 'fail-forward' approach borrowed from storygaming.

Then we get another section talking about the spirit of the Black Dogs campaign, its emphasis on exploration, and risk-taking. This is followed by a section with a couple of adventure seeds. We're told these seeds are created with a series of random tables that will appear in issue #3 of the zine (a good bit of marketing there). We get a hint of what these tables generate by the seeds themselves; for example:

-Medium town, important merchants and nobles
-an important crossroad
-lover or spy, an old grudge
-priest or bishop, disposition to abuse
-a witch fighting the church
-someone in great danger, or power

The following elements are used to create a seed about a town where there's a witch causing trouble but actually the local bishop is deeply corrupt and she's out for revenge.

The final section has some stats and rules for some of the situations that appear in the former adventure seeds. There's a note on how saving throws work in his house rules; they're based on rolling a d6 and getting a certain number or less.
Then we're told about morale rules, which in the house rules is a d6 save vs the remaining hit points of the creature.
I guess both of these would be fairly appealing to people wanting a very simple system.

Then you get stats for the evil bishop (I commented about my feelings about the relative lack of boldness of making clergy corrupt or evil in my latest video, though I certainly think you can have the occasional evil priest, they do appear as a possibility in my own adventure-generation tables in Cults of Chaos), who has some interesting magical powers.
Then similarly, stats for the Witch, who also has some interesting magical powers. I do think it's to the author's credit that he isn't just using D&D-type spells for either of them, but rather special supernatural abilities with their own rules.

Finally, there's a couple of entries for undead, including "smart zombies", and for some basic human stat-blocks (commoner, guard, bandit, noble, knight or berserker).


So what to say about Black Dogs #2?  I think it's similar to what we see in #1.  First, I'm not convinced about this format for presenting a set of rules. It's possible to reveal a setting in a serial fashion by demonstrating small areas at a time, but doing so with a set of rules is more complex, as you can't really use all of this stuff until you get the whole system, and that's being given at a snail's pace.

There's a LOT of stuff in here that feels like padding to me. Quite a bit of it felt like it was repeating contextual material from issue #1 in just a slightly different way. 

Finally, if the system was really new and innovative, I might feel different about it, but none of what I've seen so far seems truly innovative. It's getting harder to do something really impressive with system in the OSR, as there's a lot of creative stuff out there already. To be really impressive, I think you need to have a system with something really new or different in there, and that fits very well with the setting you have in mind.  So far, the changes I've seen in this house system have been pretty mild, largely optional, nothing that to me really turns LotFP on its head. The differences are too small, and too cosmetic.

Can this product appeal to someone? Well, some of the material in here in terms of advice for running the game might be useful to total beginners; unfortunately I suspect that hardly any total beginners will be likely to read this product. In particular, given that instead of advertising itself as its own thing, it's presented as a set of house-rule mods for LotFP. That  means that most people who read it will already not only be OSR people, but people who specifically have a lot of experience with LotFP.

Will they find it useful? I have trouble believing anyone will be truly wowed with it so far. But maybe someone who is really looking for any kinds of ideas out there for alternate mechanics might be able to make use of a couple of these house rules, just for ideas themselves. That's the best I can say about it.

At worst, I would say that there's too much emphasis in talking about mood and style, giving a lot of advice that the author's market is already likely to know, and the house rules are not bold or avant garde enough to really jump out at you. If I was consulting here, I'd tell Mr. Pignedoli that he seriously needs to up his game, and take more risks with really exciting variant rules.  Maybe the best thing I saw in this issue were the special powers that some of the monsters had; if he did that, and a lot more of that, it could make his zine something more worth purchasing.

RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Dunhill Classic Series Rhodesian + C&D's Crowley's Best

Friday, 25 May 2018

A Person on the Left DARED to say Jordan Peterson Might be Important

So, I have to go game, so first of all, in case any of you missed it, here was the amazing Munk Debate, with Jordan Peterson and Stephen Fry versus a couple of leftist demagogues, on the topic of Political Correctness



Second, here's an article about someone on the left that had the unmitigated gall to say that Jordan Peterson was a "refreshing departure from standard discourse" and imply that he might be needed in the modern monotone repressive culture of academia.

Expect her to be eviscerated by her leftist soon-to-be-former colleagues shortly, for daring not to take up the standard tactic of just plain LYING about Peterson.


RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + H&H's Walnut

Thursday, 24 May 2018

My Latest Video: If Every D&D Setting Looks Like 2018 Seattle, it Gets Boring

Check it out!

If all your Nobles are either decadent or incompetent or corrupt or evil, and all your religious authorities are cruel and secretly the bad guys, you may be infected with post-modernism. And if all your game worlds look like that it gets boring fast.

In this day and age, the boldest change you can make to a DnD setting is to make knights and nobles and priests actually heroic.





RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Solitario Egg + Navy Flake

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Classic Rant: Appendix N is the Most Useless DMG Appendix



Back when 1st edition was the newest edition, which was when I started playing, we used the crap out of Appendices A to E. 
A, B, and C probably saw the most use. These were the ones with random dungeon terrain, random wilderness terrain and random monster encounters. They were immediately useful in the preparation for and application during actual play. You used the fuck out of these; in fact, outside of the sections on magic items and gems, those three appendices were undoubtedly the MOST used sections of the entire book for me. It was a big part of where I got my love of random tables, and also learned the lessons about using them properly (for example, making a dungeon with Appendix A 'by the book' would almost never work right, so you needed to learn how to adjust tables to fit what you actually wanted and what actually worked).



Appendix D was for "lower planes creatures" and became a huge inspiration for weird and crazy monsters.
Appendix E was purely a practical section: it listed in pure stat-block all the monsters, which seems not that sensible but was in fact essential for a young kid that didn't own the Monster Manual yet, or for someone who didn't want to carry both books around with him. In the days when a D&D game might happen anywhere, and where you already had a backpack full of textbooks, that was damn useful!

Even beyond these key choices, though, ALL the other Appendices had some basis in actual PLAYABILITY. Be it tricks, traps, summoned monsters, or the gambling rules; they were all for using.

All except Appendix N. In actual history, as I lived it at least, Appendix N was the one you just skipped over. The only memory I have of it was once or twice comparing with friends as to how many of the books on it we'd read, and it was always a near-tie, because we'd mostly all read all of the books that were actually popular and none of those that weren't.

Now, even if you were to believe the nostalgia and ideologically-driven delusions of certain OSR segments, even then Appendix N wasn't for using; it was for ruminating on, and thinking deep literary thoughts about, and assigning a seriousness to D&D that in no way matched how we tended to play. But no one I knew did that kind of bullshit back then; not until "Vampire: the Masquerade" showed up.

Which kind of makes sense, because the retroactive "importance" of Appendix N was largely invented by a reject White-Wolf fanboy and total johnny-come-lately to Old School D&D: James Maliszewski.

Appendix N's popularity only arose because of this entryist, "JMal": an internet kickstarter fraud, World-of-Darkness fanatic and pretend OSR guy, who only got into it when he had the sense to see that White Wolf was dead and that there was rubes to fleece and money to make off the OSR. It makes sense Maliszewski would claim to love and promote the endless study of the minutiae of Appendix N: it has no play content, but tons of pretentiousness-potential. Appendix N itself was nothing more than just a list of 'cool shit Gygax liked', but in the hands of Maliszewski and his cohorts it was all about pretending to be literary critics and getting to be judgmental about what is "real old school", and finding some kind of quasi-esoteric "primordial UR-D&D" to show you're more old-school than anyone else.

It's all about trying to push an OSR that's exclusionary and reactionary, rather than innovative and creative.

If you want to do stuff that's about creativity, look at EVERY OTHER Appendix in the DMG. Let those inspire you. Let the random tables and the lists and the ideas for play inspire you, rather than looking for some kind of bible of Gygax-Approved books to tell you the only right way to play D&D.

Nobody is suggesting that you not read the books on the list! I've read quite a lot of the books and authors there myself, though certainly not all.

What I am saying is that the J. Maliszewski Serial Wankers Club For Talmudic Studies that has formed around the least-useful appendix in the DMG has chosen to dedicate hours to the study of that Appendix N, and not to Appendices A, B, C, D-M, or O or P, because N suits a goal of creating the attitude that the way one group thinks old-school should be run is the 'right', 'true', 'original' version of some kind of primordial Ur-D&D of which all other versions are just sad falls from some golden age that never was.

If you think the OSR should be about innovation and creativity, about how to create, within the 'box' of the design rules of old-school, amazing NEW stuff, instead of rooting through the Gygax family home's garbage bags in search of old shopping lists to try to get some grasp of how to play D&D as 'purely' as possible, then I would strongly recommend you try to put some real hard time into carefully examining, studying and experimenting with every appendix in the DMG except for Appendix-fucking-N.


RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Italian Redbark Billiard + Argento Latakia

(June 6, 2016)

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Another Last Sun Sourcebook: Bondian Supervillains and Derpy Horses

So RPGPundit Presents #32: Goldhalcon and the Demon Lands continues to expand the setting material for the Last Sun gonzo-osr fantasy setting (which is the setting of my totally crazy DCC campaign).

In this new issue we look at the lands of the Demon lord Zozzsz, who rules a vast and brutal realm of terrible oppression and is pretty much your stereotypical evil bad guy.



He's got orc armies, Wraith Prince generals, a pit to the Nether-regions, and the wish to conquer the entire world.   He can only be stopped by the Derpy Horse of Destiny.

In this book you ALSO get full details of the great gold-mutant city of Goldhalcon, ruled by the Bond-esque supervillain known as Goldeater. Find out about his secret lair, his bodyguards, his unfair tax policies and more! 

There's encounter tables for both regions, and also details on the Furry Plains, and the Dreadlands of Lord Dread, an evil warlord that might secretly not really be very evil. There's even an overview of the famous city of Highbay!





So, if you're a fan of the Last Sun setting, or you just want a bunch of ideas to infuse into YOUR gonzo campaign, be sure to pick this up! You can get Last Sun: Goldhalcon and the Northern Demon Realms from DTRPG, or buy it at the Precis Intermedia store!  It's just $2.49!



And while you're at it, be sure to pick up the rest of the great supplements in the RPGPundit Presents series:


RPGPundit Presents #1: DungeonChef!

RPGPundit Presents #2: The Goetia  (usable for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #3: High-Tech Weapons


RPGPundit Presents #5: The Child-Eaters (an adventure scenario for Lion & Dragon!)









RPGPundit Presents #17: The Hunters (an adventure for Lion & Dragon!)




RPGPundit Presents #21: Hecate's Tomb (an adventure for Lion & Dragon!)











Stay tuned for more next week!



RPGPundit

Currently smoking: Brigham Anniversary + Image Latakia

Monday, 21 May 2018

Tell Me What YOU Want for Future RPGPundit Presents Issues!

Hey all! First of all, let me point out to you that the latest issue of RPGPundit Presents #31: The Arcana (Medieval-Authentic Tarot) is now also available in Spanish.




El tarot fue una invención del periodo medieval tardío. Algunos dicen que fue creado como herramienta para la magia, mientras que otros aseguran que sólo se trata de un juego. Este número está dedicado al uso del Tarot para técnicas mágicas, desde leer las cartas para la adivinación hasta invocar los triunfos, e incluso hacer viajes astrales--visitar los planos a los que cada triunfo está vinculado para interactuar con seres espirituales.


You can buy RPGPundit Presents #31: Los Arcanos (spanish) at DTRPG, or from the Precis Webstore.





But while I've got you here, I would like to know what things YOU would want to see more of in future RPGpundit Presents issues!  

If you're into Lion & Dragon or Dark Albion and you want more medieval-authentic material, please tell me if there's something in particular about it that you'd like. 

If you're more interested in the Gonzo issues, please tell me what kind of Gonzo stuff you'd love to see!


And if there's anything else, feel free to suggest it too. Here's your chance to get me interested in writing something you'd like to see in the OSR.


RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti half-volcano + Blue Boar 




Sunday, 20 May 2018

Wild West Update: Nothing at all Happened (Except a Song)


That's the perils, sometimes, of running a sandbox-style game. There were adventure hooks in there, but for the most part the players didn't bite, and nothing much took place.

Kid Taylor's hotel had a minor fire, which cost him some money.

Wyatt Earp's horse got stolen, but the Earp brothers failed to find it.

(Earp, looking deeply troubled at the theft of his horse)

Curly Bill Brocius got into business with the Chinese in "hop town" (Tombstone's Chinatown) acting as an opium dealer to Crazy Miller's high-end brothel. He's also very obviously partaking in the merchandise.
The Chinese boss tried to double-cross Bill, but he got warned, and took care of it.

A crooked lawman came into town, looking for a bank robber he'd been after. He actually wanted to recruit people to join him in hunting the guy down and splitting the money the guy had. None of the PCs wanted to join him.

That was about it.

Oh, and we made up a song about Crazy Miller:

Wyatt's a fighter,
Doc's a killer,
Elephant Rutabaga Crazy Miller!


Stay tuned next time when hopefully more stuff will actually occur. Anyways, the main thing is that everyone seemed to have a good time in spite of not much going on. It was like the Seinfeld of Westerns.

RPGpundit

Currently Smoking: Castello Fiamma + Image Virginia

Saturday, 19 May 2018

New Video: The OSR Will Change The Way You See DnD

So, here's a brand new video, and this time I'm not ranting about something. Well, mostly. Instead, I realized some people who watch my channel might not be too familiar with the OSR.

So for all those D&D fans that only  know 5e, here's a video to give them a quick educational overview:




RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Raleigh Hawkbill + Image Virginia

Friday, 18 May 2018

DCC Campaign Update: It's Probably Full of Starcraft Porn




In our last session, the PCs had just gotten out of the dungeon where they'd found the legendary Advanced Magic Missile spell, a version of magic missile that is capable of being cast at darkness.




Now:

-"I'd almost forgotten about the Catboy's Player's weird pasta-eating habits!"

-The PCs had exited the dungeon to find the area littered with the withered bodies of most of the Resistance, and a powerful-looking Wraith Prince floating toward them!
"So does he have a penis or doesn't he?!"

-"Are all the Resistance dead?"
"It looks like it."
"What about the one green mutant guy?"
"yeah, he's dead."
"Aw, I sympathized with him."

-"As the Wraith Prince nears, the Vegomagus screams like a little bitch and runs away."
"That's what I was going to do!"
"What level are you?"
"2."
"You fail your saving throw, so it is what you do, too!"

-"Who has the Advanced Magic Missile scroll?"
"The Vegomagus."
"What? You guys seriously trusted him with it? What's wrong with you?!"



-"Well, right now since the Vegomagus' player couldn't make it today, the scroll is actually in the safest place imaginable; being not in the session is like a kind of dimensional pocket of immunity"

-"Well, Vizi, it's your turn to attack; after Lady Halcon, Heidi, and Sami all failed, and Roman chose not to even try."

-Vizi fires a full burst from his machine gun at the Wraith Prince, and gets a natural 20!
"For once, my fire is not suppresive!"

-The shot is good, but the Wraith is still alive.
"Damn. I guess it's going to attack me now."
"Probably."
"Remember someone was saying about how their strike is death?"

-Sami tries to cast a divine aid to help the fight.
"You didn't roll high enough; your tablet glows for a few seconds but then fades out."
"Hey does anyone have a charger on them?"
"Do you have a USB-to-Jetpack adapter?"

-"I love how Roman doesn't even put up a facade of helplessness anymore. He just makes it totally obvious that he could blow away this dude but chooses not to for some reason."

-"The Wraith Prince isn't hitting so far, lucky for you guys he's slow like all wraiths. You never really see a fast wraith, do you? These assholes are always moving in dramatic slow motion."

-Lady Halcon, who doesn't have a jetpack and is having trouble reaching the wraith, borrows a gun from Sami, and after firing it, she throws the gun itself at the Wraith Prince. She misses and the gun breaks.
"You're not allowed to borrow any more of my stuff!"

-The Wraith Prince is finally slain!
"Does it like, dissipate?"
"Yes."
"Does it leave anything behind?"
"A ring maybe?"
"No, that would violate copyright."



-"I'm sorry I broke your gun. It was necessary."
"No it wasn't!"
"That's true."
"The really sad thing is you're still my closest female friend."



-The Catboy and Lenny had fled the fight with the Wraith, having run back into the dungeon. They snap out of it just in time for the Catboy to avoid falling down a slope into a pile of manure; and just in time for Lenny to actually fall into it.
"Well, at least I didn't fall into the pile of shit."
"Yeah, you're just lying on a slope full of shit, which is better, relatively speaking."

-"Lenny is the nicest NPC!"
"Yeah, he's the nicest guy apart from being a cannibal."
"Well, his cannibalism doesn't hurt anyone."
"...except the people he kills and eats?"
"They don't matter."
"Yeah, not anyone important."



-"Lennny are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm OK!"
"Well, you won't be in a second, there's a giant tentacle coming out of the shit about to attack you!"

-Back on the surface, the Resistance leader Bort comes out of hiding, as soon as the Wraith is safely dead.
"We did it! Once again the Resistance has triumphed!"

-"Catboy, you better save Lenny. If you let him die the party will have to rely on you as the thief."
"Yeah, I can't have that."

-The Catboy amazingly manages to hit the Tentacle and do serious damage.
"You're doing really well.. that's weird."
"Yeah, when no one can see me."
"That's true, not even Lenny because you have no light source and he can't see in the dark like you."
"His reputation as an incompetent will remain intact."

-Lenny gets caught in a tentacle!
"This is so wrong! This terrible thing is trying to eat me!!"
"Dude, do you not get the irony of this?"

-Catboy's 3rd shot is a critical hit!
"So we now know how to make the catboy effective: no one can see him doing it."
"Any time he makes an attack roll we all have to close our eyes!"

-"That thing tried to eat me. It was the most horrible experience of my life. What did I ever do to deserve that?"



-"Reluctantly, we need to find the Vegomagus. He has the scroll of Advanced Magic Missile!"
"I have a better idea: I'll just use Divine Aid to get the scroll back."
"Without the Vegomagus? That's an idea I will give money to support!"

-"We should leave behind Catboy and Lenny too. I mean they're probably dead."
"Yes, we should fight on in their memory. By the way, I've changed my mind and will be coming with you."
"Now that all your resistance soldiers are dead, Bort? What a surprise."

-Sami wants to free Lady Halcon from the control of the Halconlords; supposedly for the sake of the quest. But really, it's because she wants a "Bestie".
"The saddest thing is that Sandy isn't really all that different personality-wise from Lady Halcon. Sami would be totally disappointed."

-"So we still need to find the Derpy Horse of Destiny."
"What's with the horse?"
"It has the power to make Zozzsz's presence on this plane permanent. But alternately, it can also be used to seal Zozzsz's gateway to the Nether-regions."
"Can we call it the Netherlands instead?"
"Nether-regions just sounds weird."
"Netherlands is weird"

-"Hey Sami can I buy your sonic tool?"
"No."
"I'll give you a tiara..."
"Why would I want that?"
"because it's symmetrical."
"it is not, it's only symmetrical on one axis! You can't fool me."

-Heidi purchases the Tiara instead.
"I'm wearing it over my helmet now, it adds to all my Bling."



-"So Bort is our new Vegomagus, right?"

-The party finally gets out of the range of Zozzsz's anti-teleportation field and teleports back to the Sun. But something is very wrong! The teleportation control room looks like it's been wreck and there's blood everywhere! They find a very badly injured Republican Jesus holding his own intestines.
"It... was.. the bunny!"
"Carl?"
"Can you help us, RJ?"
"Too wounded... take me to the resurrection room... save Mongo!"

-"The bunny turned out to be a killer? So now we're in a Monty Python sketch."



-"So the bunny was a plant?"
"yes, and maybe a demon."
"Or maybe the bunny was just out for revenge. Maybe the Jesuses killed it's entire family."
"You're saying it was... the Bunnisher?"
"Oh god that's bad."




-The PCs move through the battle-scarred complex, and are horrified to find Baby Jesus' head impaled on a shard of metal. Historical Jesus is dead too, body parts spread over a large area of corridor.
"Wow, he did say eat my flesh and drink my blood..."
"He did? Wow, great! I'm going to be a little while here you guys!"

-Catboy manages to get Republican Jesus into the Resurrection Room.
"Catboy, I have to rest. It's up to you. You have to go and make sure Anema and Fabritzio are alright."
"Me? Oh shit."

-The other PCs get to the archive room, which is a huge mess too. There's no sign of Korean Jesus. Vizi uses his psychic power and sees a vision of Black Jesus telling pushing Mongo into the room and telling Korean Jesus to get him out of there.
"Wait, there's a Korean Jesus? How many of these guys are there?!"
"well, a lot less now for sure."

-Catboy gets to the corridor leading to Anema's rooms. There he sees Black Jesus, all dressed up in battle gear like Blade or something, fighting a giant bunny-demon.
"Does it look a bit like the one from Donnie Darko?"
"Sure."



-Unfortunately, Catboy arrives just in time to see Black Jesus get torn in half. Catboy makes a desperate surprise attack, emptying a burst and blowing all his available Luck; he manages to blast the Bunny Demon to shreds!
"Goddamit, it's really true: Catboy is a badass when no one is around!"

-It turns out that Anema and Fabritzio had been romancing each other in the bedroom the whole time and had no idea about the Demon Bunny attack.
"What the fuck happened to Black Jesus?"
"The Demon Bunny slaughtered him."
"OK, and who killed the Demon Bunny, Catboy?"
"I did!"
"No really, who was it?"



-The party was heading to Anema's room. Lady Halcon spots Anema and Fabritzio.
"Wight!"
"Lady Halcon nooooo!"

-Lady Halcon slices Fabritzio clean in half!
"Shit."
"We really should have warned her about this."
"We got so used to weirdness that we forgot that friendly talking Wights aren't normal."
"Maybe we can fix it?"



-Sami desperately prays to G.O.D. to retrieve the Soul of the Sun from Fabritzio's corpse and return it to Anema.
"Natural 20!!"
"Well, fuck me!"
"You could have brought Fabritzio back, you know."
"Nah, he was never good for Anema."

-"Where could Korean Jesus have gone?"
"I have no idea."
"Maybe we could check his browser history in his office?"
"...I'm not sure I want to do that."
"Yeah. It's probably full of Starcraft porn."

-"ohh.. I feel weird. Maybe I shouldn't have eaten that Jesus..."

-The PCs raid Republican Jesus' armory.
"It's got all kinds of guns."
"Has it got any other weapons?"
"Yes, but only the 'cooler' kind of melee weapons, like nunchucks, ninja stars, big fancy knives, and katanas."
"Any light sabers?"
"No. Those are for nerds."



-Roman and Vizi take a break to smoke in the hydroponics lab. Lenny walks in suddenly looking human, and glowing.
"Something really weird is happening to me guys, ever since I ate that Jesus."

-They go to see Republican Jesus, still slowly drawing his intestines back into his body in the Resurrection Room, to ask about what's happening to Lenny.
"So, is Lenny a celestial now? Like you guys?"
"Nah, man that's just dumb. I think he's turning into a Saint."

-"Hey, RJ, how long until you're recovered?"
"Oh, about 3 days."

-Heidi had been drinking. He wakes up with Lady Halcon, who had been drinking very heavily with Anema and Sami, lying next to him in bed. He gets up and goes to the control room only to find Captain Harry looking at him funny.
"Harry... is Lady Halcon your grandmother?"

-When everyone else gets up that morning, Lenny is now glowing like crazy.
"I ate all the Jesuses I could!"

-"Korean Jesus' office has a lot of selfies."
"Well, are any of them clues as to where he might have gone with Mongo?"
"No, they're almost all just pictures of him in his office, wearing different funny hats."
"Korean Jesus has a weird life."



-Lenny had a vision of Bort, lost and terrified somewhere in the labyrinthine passages of the Sun.
"That might not be a hallucination. Maybe it's where he really is, we lost track of him shortly after we all got teleported here."
"Maybe Lenny has superpowers now!"
"Yeah but I don't know how they work. I just know I'm a saint now... so I can eat anyone I want."
"I'm not sure you get what being a saint is about, dude."

-Sami is freaking out about Mongo's continued absence and the failure of anyone to make progress.
"OK G.O.D.! Tell me where my baby is OR ELSE!!"
"ha!"

-Anema wakes up with a massive hangover after getting drunk over the death of her boyfriend.
"Here, take a really long drink out of this decanter of endless water."
"Is it natural spring water?"
"...sure."

-"Lenny.. why are you human now?"
"I'm a saint."
"You are not!"
"No wait, I think he is... were you eating the flesh of Jesus?"
"Yeah, all of them!"



-Anema is less hung-over but still depressed.
"Sami, you have to stop me from taking the catboy for cuddles."

-"Lenny is kind of creepy for a saint.."
"Yeah, actually, he was less creepy before he became a saint."

-Sami's divine aid locates Mongo, and it turns out he's somewhere on Lol. They teleport there, near Princess Fairywinkle's tower. There are tons of posters of the Archemaster with typical banana-republic slogans all over the place, and Wizard Council guards everywhere.

-Some weird guy signals at the catboy from an alley.
"You are from Roman's group? We have the same goals."
"I doubt it."
"Our goal is to overthrow the Archemaster."
"Yeah, we don't care about that."
"Then our goal is whatever your goal is."
"Is this dude even human?"
"Let me try to control him with my ring... nope, not human."
"Says here he is part robot. Wait, did BOLT-1 send you?"
"We have the same goals!"

-"I knew BOLT-0, in a different time. He was annoying."
"BOLT-1 isn't so much annoying, Lady Halcon, as he is psychotically dedicated to killing all humans."

-Sami had no time for any of that nonsense, and went on ahead. She runs into two guards.
"I'll use Lotus Stare and Jedi-Mind-Trick them."



-The same guards run into Catboy, after the rest of the party decided to stop talking to the robo-man agent of BOLT-1 and go looking for Sami.
"What's your name, citizen?"
"Um, Catman."
"Catmann? Is that Jewish?"
"I think it's Mewish."

-"You didn't bring your identity card?! We're going to have to take you in."
"Really? Hey can I take my friend Roman in with me? He's just over there."
"ROMAN?!"
"Hey Lady Halcon? kill them."

-While Lady Halcon is eviscerating the guards, Sami has made her way into a courtyard in an alley and runs into a couple of the unfortunately named local street-gang of Lol, the Almighty Gaylords.
"Are they armed?"
"They have crowbars... retractable crowbars."
"Sami just kills their leader and keeps walking."



-The party is tracking Sami, and they find the dead Almighty Gaylord and his traumatized friends.
"I take his crowbar."
"I ask the other guys if they saw where Sami went."
"She went that way.. she just murdered Lenny!"
"Wait... Lenny? My name is Lenny too! Hey guys, hold up a second, I've never eaten a guy with the same name as me!"

-Lenny has a vision of Mongo.
"What did you see?!"
"He's somewhere close by. On a roof. With some yellow guy."
"Yellow guy?"

-"Can you find him?"
"Maybe. Maybe I'm the patron saint of lost people?"
"The patron saint of lost retards.."
"You watch your mouth!!"
"I'm pretty sure that Lenny is the patron saint of cannibals."



-"Wait.. 'yellow guy'? Holy shit, could it be my 'differently abled' yellow mutant PC? The last time we saw him was on Lol!"
"He couldn't possibly be still alive; could he?"

-"It's like some family TV movie from the '80s about some retarded kid who gets lost in the big city and is protected by a mentally ill homeless person!"

-They find the roof, and the differently-abled Yellow Mutant. And Mongo! Roman translates.
"Mongo is more or less saying that Korean Jesus was captured by the Archemaster, and that he told Mongo to run away really fast, and that then 'banana man' saved him."



-"So now Mongo is saved. We'll send him back to the Sun. Then we just have to go face the Archemaster and free Korean Jesus from the Infinity Pit. Great."


That's it for today! Will the PCs be able to rescue Korean Jesus? Will the Archemaster keep being a massive asshole? What's BOLT-1 up to? Stay tuned for the possible answer to these questions and a bunch more nonsense in our next session!

RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Ashton Old Church Rhodesian + C&D's Delta Days

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Classic Rant: The OSR, Bigger on the Inside

Ok, so, to sum up some of the events of recent blog entries from a more positive perspective.

It might seem weird to some people that of all the various schools of RPG design of recent years, by far the most creative and (in recent years) the most acclaimed has been the OSR. Acclaimed enough that the designers of the latest edition of D&D wanted to consult with people involved in its cutting edge. After all, not only did the OSR start out as a kind of backward-gazing movement, which showed all the (lack of) promise of being pretty much an insular and reactionary concept movement, but it starts out with the apparent "limitations" of having a lot of boundaries you cannot cross and still be Old-School.

But that latter detail is exactly the secret of its success.

The OSR is like the TARDIS: bigger on the inside. There's infinite space inside the box.




You can have a creative process where you say "anything goes", and some unusual things might be produced due to that process. But just as likely, you'll get a bunch of stuff that doesn't turn out to be worth much. Likewise, if you create structure that isn't founded on what worked before, you are likely to create entire movements that are hopelessly flawed from the start (like the Forge's GNS theory). 

The OSR is a box; it has a set of limits. To design an OSR game, you have to play within the rules of what fits old-school concepts. On the one hand, this obliges you to have as your foundation the most tried and true set of design concepts in the entire hobby. On the other hand, it challenges you to have to come up with something more creative than you might have if there were no design rules; creative in terms of producing something that is new and innovative and yet completely recognizable as fitting with the design principle.

We've already seen a lot of incredible books: spectacular rules sets, spectacular adventures and spectacular setting material. Almost all of it is fundamentally compatible with almost everything else in the movement. You can pick any rules set from the OSR, pick any setting book (even if its default is geared to a different rule set), and pick any adventure (even one from a rules-set different than the previous two books) and run them all together in your game. More than that, you can pick and choose stuff from five other books: a random table here, equipment there, a sub-mechanic from somewhere else, and use all of it. 

And I'm fairly sure that we haven't seen nothing yet. In the last two years or so the ante has kept being raised by one publisher after another, and one designer after another, daring or inspiring each other to do more creative things. 

By working within that bigger-on-the-inside box, we work with a set of principles that keep the whole movement connected, but we also have an incredibly vast space to do stuff different than anything we did before.

That, to me, is the real value of the OSR. That's what makes the OSR great, and what I hope more people will be looking at in the OSR. While I love what a lot of guys have done so far, and look forward to seeing what they'll make next, what I'm most interested in seeing is who else will come along and make something new that is part of the OSR and yet totally different to what I've done with it or the other designers have done with it up until now.

RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Dunhill Diplomat + C&D's Crowley's Best

(Originally Posted June 11, 2016)

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

RPGPundit Reviews: Black Dogs #1



This is a review of the RPG periodical "Black Dogs" issue #1, which is a collection of "unofficial house-rules and materials for Lamentations of the Flame Princess". The periodical is written by Davide Pignedoli, and published by Daimon Games. It is stamped as an "LotFP Compatible Product".

The product is in pamphlet format, with a nice glossy hard cover, featuring a renaissance drawing of a man loading a rifle. The interior has sparse black & white illustrations, and clocks in at 44 pages.




The first few pages contain the author's introduction and house-rule guidelines. He focuses less on horror than standard LotFP, has fewer fights, focus on wilderness travel and interacting with communities.

Black Dogs takes place in a late-medieval time frame, has "good guys" fighting monsters and demons, multiple characters per player are recommended.  Huh. That sounds almost more like the Lion & Dragon and Dark Albion setting than LotFP. His "about the setting" section sounds like it could be describing Dark Albion directly. But OK, whatever.

As for what the "black dogs" are, they're an informal organization of warriors, rogues, sorcerers and clerics put together by the church to fight witchcraft. Hmm, sounds a lot like the setup for my Cults of Chaos campaign.
One big difference is that the black dogs are "not formally recognized as an authority", and are often despised by the local powers and even the church itself (because it seems to have disowned them).

Character creation has everyone making two characters, which they can choose to play at the start of each session. That's just what I do in my game; but the author adds that the GM also makes two characters, and that at the start of each session everyone can pick ANY character anyone has made to play, as long as it's not the same one they played last time. This strikes me as an awful idea, because it discourages immersion into specific characters, which is a big feature of rpg play.

A handy sheet is provided for making characters.

Each ability score is connected to three secondary scores: luck, talent, and save. Luck is burned to make re-rolls. Talent is used to increase base ability scores or saves when leveling up. Save is the saving throw, which in these house rules is rolled on a D6 instead of the standard D20 method. Options are given if you don't want to use talent or luck in your campaign.

Starting money is based on your Charisma score. That's a house rule I kind of like.

There follows further house-rules. This includes things like making ability checks (roll under), and having advantage and disadvantage in the 5e style; none of this is anything really novel or exciting.

I feel like I have to note something else. Being now at the half-way mark of the booklet, I get the strong sense that English is not the author's first language. The writing has a number of small but significant grammatical errors, and there's plenty of spelling errors. I get that this is a labor of love, and probably not a high-income project, so it might be unfair to suggest that the author should have gotten himself a decent editor; but I do think I feel like I have to mention this for any potential buyers.

The next section of the booklet is called "Flussburg", and details a "small village with political troubles and a greater menace looming on the horizon".  It is meant to serve as an introductory adventure to the Black Dogs campaign concept.

Flussburg is described as a small village, though it has an old palace and a Guild (features which wouldn't be in a small village, as a rule, if we were worrying about medieval-authenticity).The town is a conservative kind of place; and a central feature of the town is an old imperial bridge in a bad state of repair.

We're also introduced to the family who runs a large blacksmith's shop in the town, the Schmieds. This family wants to repair the bridge to improve the town's prosperity and have the opposition of the rest of the town fathers.

There's also a dangerous gang of trolls in the wilderness on the other side of the bridge.  Beyond that, there's another ancient evil that desires ill for the town, the specific details of which I won't get into here so as not to produce spoilers.

You get a short random table featuring a few of the villagers for encounters in town.There's also a list of things to discover. After this, a list of events as they unfold in the village.  The whole detailing of the scenario is decent enough as a very basic kind of sandbox, albeit a bit light on explaining the motivations the PCs could have to get involved.


The book ends with stats for the monsters from the scenario.  There's only a couple of creatures, but they are interesting takes on the standards they're inspired by.  The scenario's version of Trolls is quite clever, for example.

So, on the whole, what to say about Black Dogs #1?  I think that it has a couple of interesting details, but on the whole it felt a little bit underwhelming. A lot of it felt like retreads on ground that has already been covered before. I mean, it's not bad, but not entirely enrapturing.

If you're looking for an inexpensive book ($3) with a few house rules for LoTFP and a relatively interesting scenario, then you could certainly do worse. But at the same time, I don't think anything here is going to radically alter your perspective on Lamentations, the OSR, or anything else. As long as you don't go in expecting that, and you don't mind a lack of editing, Black Dogs might be adequate.


RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Virginia

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Add Tarot Into Your Medieval-Authentic D&D Game (more than just fortune-telling)!

So it's time for some tarot!  As a product of the late Middle Ages (though really, of the very early Italian Renaissance), the Tarot is a great element to add into any Medieval-Authentic game.

That's why RPGPundit Presents #31: The Arcana is all about doing some stuff with Medieval-Authentic Tarot for your campaign! Whether or not you actually own a Tarot deck yourself, you'll want your magic-user to have one, and now my latest sourcebook helps the GM to figure out what to do with that!




The tarot is a series of images that teaches the basics of occult symbolism. It was also a popular parlor game of the very wealthy in the late medieval period. It would, much later, be thought of mainly for fortune-telling, and while of course I include that in this product, there's a lot more you can do with it from an occult perspective and I wanted that to be a big part of the Medieval-Authentic experience. We aren't technically sure whether medieval magicians were using the Tarot (I, as an occultist, would find it very hard to believe they weren't, at the very least as a teaching tool for young magicians), but if they were, this is the sort of stuff they'd be doing with it:

-Using the Tarot to improve Occult Lore

-Using the tarot to perform divination

-Invoking the "Arcana" of the Tarot to gain special abilities

-Using the Arcana of the Tarot as gateways to astral worlds


You get all that in The Arcana, including the full list of divination meanings of each card (with a set of random tables to generate cards in case you don't actually own a tarot deck), full details of the invocation rituals and effects, and an outline of each plane connected to the 22 Arcana of the Tarot, with their environment, contents, and the archetypal power/knowledge they reveal.



So, be sure to pick up this book to finally get the magic users in your campaign the tarot powers they deserve. You can get "RPGPundit Presents #31: The Arcana" at DTRPG, or at the Precis Intermedia webstore.  Either way, it's just $2.99!



And while you're at it, be sure to pick up the rest of the great supplements in the RPGPundit Presents series:


RPGPundit Presents #1: DungeonChef!

RPGPundit Presents #2: The Goetia  (usable for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #3: High-Tech Weapons


RPGPundit Presents #5: The Child-Eaters (an adventure scenario for Lion & Dragon!)









RPGPundit Presents #17: The Hunters (an adventure for Lion & Dragon!)




RPGPundit Presents #21: Hecate's Tomb (an adventure for Lion & Dragon!)










Stay tuned for more next week!



RPGPundit

Currently smoking: Brigham Anniversary + Image Latakia