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Monday 31 December 2018

Happy New Year!

So, as I pointed out in the New Years episode of Inappropriate Characters, I think 2018 was a good year where a lot of good things started to happen, and I think 2019 is a year when those things will happen more and the bad things will happen less.  We are winning in the politics, the culture, and the hobbies, and horrid bullshit tactics that certain bad actors would previously have been able to use to destroy peoples' lives are now just being ignored or condemned.

So I'm very hopeful for 2019. I hope that for all my fans, it's a better year than this one, and things keep improving. 

Have a very Happy New Year everyone!


Currently Smoking: Neerup Poker + Barking Dog

P.S.: if you haven't yet, join the Inglorious OSR group on G+. Yes, it will only be around a couple of more months, but you joining will piss off the assholes who started the SJW OSR group that has a LITERAL purity test to allow entry. Help show that they are not going to win. Feel free to share the link to the Inglorious OSR group everywhere!

Sunday 30 December 2018

Wild West Campaign: The Earp Trial

So this session was a very unusual kind of session.  It was one where the PCs basically did nothing.

And they enjoyed it.

In fact, they strategically chose to do nothing. And that was probably the best possible situation.

The adventure took place in November 1881, and the Earp Brothers (alongside Doc Holliday) were on trial for the murder of the McClaury brothers and Billy Clanton, in the aftermath of the shootout at the OK Corral.

With Virgil and Morgan Earp both injured and facing charges, Other Miller took up duties as town Marshal.  While they expected serious trouble from the 200 or so Cowboys who were in town for the funeral of the OK Corral victims and the subsequent trial, in fact the whole thing was quite calm. William McClaury, brother of the slain McClaury brothers and a prestigious Texas lawyer, came to Tombstone to seek legal restitution for his siblings' deaths; and since he was helping the prosecution with their case the first thing he advised the Cowboys that they needed to behave themselves to help push the narrative that the Cowboys were the innocent victims of Earp violence.  So every Cowboy in town was walking around unarmed (for real this time).

(William McLaury: a man with a thirst for vengeance, and an impressive beard)

Crazy Miller was given a friendly threat by Curly Bill that he was now known to have betrayed them, and this was the one and only warning he'd get: leave town forever, or suffer the consequences of traitors.  In response, Crazy helped the Earps get lawyers, and put up their $20000 bail money.

When the Cowboys realized Crazy Miller wasn't going anywhere, they sent Kid Taylor an anonymous letter making him a one-time offer. They knew that Kid and Crazy had a long-time strained relationship, and so they gave Kid a chance: he and his family would be safe from harm, and he would be given $3000 for his trouble, if he murders Crazy Miller.

But Kid Taylor was beyond that now. Well, he did briefly consider it. But instead he presented the letter to Crazy Miller and they sat down and settled their differences. Kid agreed to swear not to do any harm to Crazy, and in exchange Crazy removed the condition from his will that would offer a $10000 bounty for the death of Kid Taylor after Crazy's demise. He did still keep a modified clause, that if he died by violence and the perpetrator was known, the $10000 reward would be for the head of whoever killed him.

And that's just about it. That's almost all the PCs did.

The rest of the session involved them sitting in and watching the events of the trial unfold. They saw the witnesses for the prosecution and defense testify with various different accounts of what went down in the gunfight.  They saw the prosecution try to create a narrative where the Earps had approached a group of mostly-unarmed men who were ready to surrender and brutally gunned them down; while the defense poked large holes into the highly suspicious testimonies given by Ike Clanton and Sheriff John Behan.

And they did nothing. Because just like the Cowboys had realized that taking any kind of action right now would look good for the Earps, the PCs realized that taking any kind of action would look bad for the Earps. So they just let justice run its course.

And run it did.  At the end, Judge Spicer gave a strong and eloquent judgment declaring that the Earps acted entirely within the law, doing their duty as officers of the law. And the Earps and Holliday were free men.

Of course, everyone realized that this was not the end of things. It was only the beginning of their war with the Cowboys. The time to act would be coming, soon.


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

Saturday 29 December 2018

Medieval-Authentic Enchantment Magic

The magic of Enchantment is a common theme in Medieval legends and fiction.

In the latest issue of RPGPundit Presents (#60, if you can believe it!), I present you with a system of Enchantment magic. It's usable for any OSR or D&D-derived system straight off, but you can also modify it for other fantasy games; obviously, as usual, the inspiration for it was my own Lion & Dragon Medieval Authentic OSR RPG.

Enchantment magic is the power to warp the minds of others. To make them fall in love with you, to make them obey you, or to alter their memories, among other powers. The GM can be free to present these as a magical (ritual-based) power that PCs can learn, or that they can only obtain from lost lore, or as something that only supernatural creatures have access to.

So be sure to pick up RPGPundit Presents #60: Medieval-Authentic Enchantment Magic from DTRPG, to spice up  your game; you can also get it from the Precis Intermedia Webstore if you like!

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!)

RPGPundit Presents #54: Medieval College Adventures (compatible with Lion & Dragon)

RPGPundit Presents #58: Expanded Prior History Tables  (compatible with Lion & Dragon!)

Stay tuned for more next week!


Currently Smoking: Mastro De Paja Rhodesian + Image Virginia 

Friday 28 December 2018

Inapporpriate Characters Livestream December 28, 7:30 CST

So in just a few hours, 7:30PM Central Standard Time, come watch  us on Inappropriate Characters. The best youtube show on discussing news and controversy in the RPG / D&D / OSR hobby, starring the three most censored game designers in the hobby!

EDIT: And that's another show done. Check it out, as we talked about Garycon & the move to boycott it, our highlights of 2018, our predictions for 2019, and the Patreon problem!


Thursday 27 December 2018

Want me on Your Youtube Show?

So, today I'm mostly just going to remind you all that tomorrow there'll be a new episode of Inappropriate Characters! Come watch me, Venger, and Grimjim talking about all kinds of interesting news and controversy in the RPG hobby.
Set your clocks, we'll be live tomorrow (Friday, 28th December) at 7:30 CST.

But I figured that while I'm doing a short post, I should mention that if any of you in the RPG hobby out there have a Youtube channel, and you'd like to have me guest star, you should feel free to get in touch with me and we'll see if we can work something out. Just not for live-games; I'm only interested in talk or interviews, that sort of thing.  So let me know, if you're interested!


Currently Smoking: Neerup Acorn + Image Virginia

Wednesday 26 December 2018

On the Call to Boycott Garycon

So, today a video I posted (unannounced livestream, mainly because I was too lazy to do a regular video), on how Stacy Dellorfano has stabbed the OSR in the back after many of us were the earliest supporters of Contessa.


Currently Smoking: Castello 4K Canadian + McLintock's Syrian Latakia 

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Merry Christmas, Even Without Doctor Who

So, Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope everyone is having a good time. I'll be having a good meal later tonight with friends and watching... something.

I SHOULD be watching the Doctor Who Christmas special, but the degenerate heathens over at the BBC had to fuck that up too.

Ah well.

Monday 24 December 2018

DCC Campaign Update: Add a Turd, To Represent the Rest of the Party

In our last adventure, the PCs had managed to take out a crew of Gorilla Slavers, and kept their ship. They were planning to use it to go after the location of a treasure map.


-Quilliam, whose player left the game about two years ago, has come back to the group!
"Did we want him back?"
"He's more cool now than before!"

-"Hey, Quilliam has a magic sword!"
"Is it the good kind? The type that has special powers and intelligence? You know, the type that could take over Heidi and make him kill everyone else?"
"That is not the good kind of sword!"

-"Where's the Mexican Sky-Cleric?"
"He's not here."
"He's hiding."
"He's a good hider."
"Yeah, but not as good as he is at running away!"
"Yeah, he's a world-class fleer."

-Catboy sees Quilliam, who he never met before, in a cell in the slave-galley. He releases him and then lets him go off alone to look for his stuff.
"So you're just going to let this guy you don't know wander around the ship on his own?"
"Yeah, I don't care."
"Catboy don't give a fuck."

-"So you're trying to find your stuff?"
"Yeah. I'll search the whole ship."
"OK; you go around a corner and find a door marked 'stuff'."
"My search might be over."

-Quilliam finds a bunch of junk in the room, but there's also a half-dozen potions. Also, a beating heart in a jar of liquid.
"Wait, a beating heart?"
"That sounds a bit too curse-y to me..."

-"There's also a busted tapestry of some mutants fighting against some dog-headed humanoids."
"Dog headed humanoids?"
"So, dober-men?"

-"Hi, I'm Lenny! I'm not supposed to eat you, yet."
"Oh. I found a dead bird in the 'stuff' locker, maybe Catboy would like to eat that?"

-"Catboy is Cabinboy now!"

-"Heidi is on deck, looking at the horizon, missing his sword."

-"I found some potions..."
"The newbies are coming with prizes now!"

-"Heidi just drinks a random potion."
"He's trying to kill himself now!"

-"So what were you doing, Quilliam?"
"I was a sea captain."
"So you can sail?"
"Well, I can tell other people to sail..."

-Meanwhile, Bill the Elf had vanished at the start of last adventure; turns out he'd been taken by Jal'udin, who has some strict orders for Bill.
"If Sami keeps opposing me, she will have to go."
"Especially now that you have another cleric in your party, who seems stupid and malleable."

-"Jal'udin stabs Bill back onto the ship with his Dagger of Teleportation."
"I love that dagger!"
"There has to be a better way to travel."
"It's now only the second-best dagger in the world."

-"What did Jal'udin want?"
"Nothing yet, but he warned us that there's probably going to be stuff happening in Coolland. I think we have to kill the Duke of Abstinence."
"It's far too dangerous to kill the Duke of Abstinence until we kill the Lord of Blood & Fire first."

-"Why don't we just kill Jal'udin?"
"Because killing is wrong hehehehee.."
"Heidi can't even say it with a straight face anymore."

-"Wait, Catboy has the hots for Queen Zoey?"
"Noo, stop it!"
"Last time you got together with a friend of Sami's it ended badly."
"Oh, it will this time, too."

-"So the treasure is marked here, with an X, on a beach on the edge of the Badlands."
"We could just teleport to the X."
"There's not going to be a literal X on the sand!"
"Well to the location, anyways"
"But we want to keep the ship!"
"We could teleport the whole ship into the Badlands."
"Then it would be stuck."
"It would be a sea ship of the land!"

-Catboy goes to great effort to set up a conference table in the dining room, and calls a meeting. Everyone talks about anything other than what Catboy wanted to talk about.
"All in favor of now dismantling the conference room?"
"You assholes."

-"So aside from the potion of levitation Heidi drank, the other potions are now identified as potions of super-heroism, regular heroism, moderate bravery, cowardice, and villainy."
"I like how the levitation potion was the odd one out."
"What does a potion of villainy do?"
"It turns you into a stereotypical villain for the duration."
"Does it give you a mustache?"
"No, but if you already have a mustache you will twirl it maniacally."

-"What would happen if we gave the Potion of Cowardice to the Sky-Mexican Cleric?"
"No effect."

-Catboy is making a new flag for the ship.
"Hey, can it have an L on it, for Lenny?"
"Hey, it's a pirate flag, right? So let's make some bones on it, in the form of an L"
"And then add a turd, to represent the rest of the party."

-"I'm keeping watch on the Crow's Nest."
"Make a perception check."
"Natural 1."
"Great job."

-Catboy's natural 1 misses the fact that a pod of giant whales are attacking the ship.
"We're being attacked by whales! The animal, not the country!"

-"Zeke, I'm appointing you Acting Captain; so you'll have to go down with the ship."

-The party manages to scare off the whales. Then they get to the business of identifying the heart in the jar.
"It's the heart of a demon called Berthoz, and anyone who touches the heart will be possessed by berthoz, gaining various physical powers. But he turns evil."
"Define 'evil' for us."
"We should find some pathetic creature and have him get possessed by Berthoz!"
"That sounds right."
"Why are you all looking at me??"

-The next day, a large band of Fishmen warriors board the ship!
"Why are the fishmen wearing wetsuits?!"

-"Heidi punches a fishman."
"Why doesn't he use a weapon??"
"He misses his sword too much."
"Damn it."
"I'm going to nag you guys into giving me back my sword."

-"Sami just can't manage to cast Sanctuary."
"She takes a hit, flies up into the air and accidentally hits a seagull. It lands on the crow's next and almost makes Catboy fall."

-After beating the fishmen, they end up with about 15 of them captured alive, mostly due to Heidi's subdual damage, plus Bill using his Sleep rune.
"Potato feast time!"

-"Put them all in the brig!"
"Catboy is stabbing them all to death for potatoes."
"I grab one guy and keep him alive!"

-"I'm so jealous of that dagger!"
"And you're Bill the Elf!"

-"That dagger is a dagger of transmutation: it transmutes violence into potatoes!"

-"We can dine on Fishmen & Chips!"

-"Why did you want to keep the fishman alive?"
"To interrogate him?"
"No, to convert him! I got divine disapproval, and you're all converted already."

-"I should touch the heart.."
"No, Catboy!"
"You  have a track record of being vulnerable to cults!"

-"I think if I touched the heart I might be able to resist the sword..."
"No, Heidi!"

-"Time to heal you guys... Catboy, how much damage did you take?"
"Then why are you in line for healing?"
"Jesus, Heidi literally has a harpoon in his his skull!"
"Fuck, how are you still up?"
"I dunno. I forgot it was there."

-They wake up the fishman.
"So if I convert, I am free to go?"
"Then you may convert me."
"You are converted."
"And now I may leave to return to my people?"
"Very well."
"Bill magic missiles him in the back as he's leaving."
"We said he was free, not safe."

-"What ho, my friends?"
"Did he just call you a ho?"

-"I think its maritime jargon..."
"Yes, for prostitutes!"

-"Lenny and Zeke can stay on board."
"And the newbs."
"Hey, where are the newbs?"
"Oh shit, I locked them in the brig like three days ago!"
"You haven't fed them in three days!"
"I'll go throw them a fishman corpse."

-"Hey guys, we're looking for the treasure in the wrong place, it's one cove over."
"How do you know?"
"There's a big X in the sand there."

-"I call Zeke."
"really.. ahoy?"
"I'm just trying to get into the spirit of things."
"OK, we're going to scuttle the bilge."
"I don't understand that..."
"Ok, we're going to shiver our timbers portside."
"We're moving over there!"
"Over where?"
"Where I'm pointing!"
"You're talking to me on the radio!"

-"Let's dig!"
"Can you get G.O.D. to help us out?"
"You want me to invoke the Almighty to give us shovels?"
"And a bucket!"
"Why a bucket?"
"To make a sandcastle!"
"I think we're abusing the powers of G.O.D. here..."

-The shovels and buckets manifest!
"So you listen to me when I ask for a bucket, but not Sanctuary?"
"He's still mad at you about the whales."
"I burn 1000pp to Greenpeace!"

-"Fuck it, I'm not digging. I'm going to blow the Horn of Dutchmen."
"Isn't that weird?"

-Dutchmen show up, do the digging for everyone, and they find a chest.
"Go on, open it... we all duck for cover."
"A bunch of ghost pirates come swarming out!"
"Yarr, whoever disturbs our treasure will die!!"
"It was the Dutchmen, they did it!"
"Yarr, you will all die with them!"
"Well, nice try, it could have worked!"

-"If you hit an undead with the potato dagger, what will happen?"
"Probably nothing."
"A ghost potato?"
"No, wait.. vodka!"
"Yeah, it's a Potato Spirit!"

-"you hit the ghost with your dagger and a little bottle of vodka appears."
"YES! I love the Potato Dagger!!"
"It's the most important artifact in the campaign."
"Isn't that weird?"

-"If I cast magic missile now I'll end up in the Neutral Zone and leave you guys to die."
"No, do it! The important people of the party must live!"
"Says the Cleric with Sanctuary."

-It turns out that when Bill goes to the Neutral Zone the ghosts can still fight him.
"They exist on the astral!"
"If Bill casts magic missile at them he'll end up back in the Material."
"Yeah, but if he does that he might end up stuck back in the Neutral Zone!"

-One of the Dutchmen dies from a ghost, and turns into a Dutch Ghost.
"Bill kills the Dutchman ghost."
"That's weird!"

-After they finish slaying all the ghosts, they find the chest has 61 gems worth 50gp each.
"That was not worth all the effort."

That's it for this session. Next time the PCs plan to travel back to Coolland to try to deal with the Duke of Abstinence. Though honestly, the way things are going they could end up just about anywhere.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Spring Time Flake

Sunday 23 December 2018

Classic Rant: “Real” Magick in RPGs: the Lovecraft Loons

In previous installments of this series, I’ve talked about a lot of different magical groups or movements; there’s a few lesser ones I haven’t covered, and one in particular I felt I should. That is, a small but not insignificant number of people involved in magick who really believe that the Cthulhu Mythos as published by H. P. Lovecraft in his series of shorts stories are really real, and true to boot!

I know your first thought will be how ridiculous that is, and your second might be about how it probably isn’t less ridiculous than talking about Gods and Demons like those were true as well. Only in magick, there very much is a difference. First, because in magick “archetype” is a very important power and concept, and something that is identifiably (and very recent) fiction, will not have that power of “archetype”, at least not yet. Second, because most serious magicians aren’t actually talking about Gods or Demons the way a protestant preacher or religious soccer mom might; they address Gods and Demons as symbols, currents or forces (only knowing from experience that symbols have a life of their own) that represent and are situated on very real levels of reality, and reflect very real concepts.

On the other hand, the people who think they can summon Nyarlathotep, many of them really do want to believe that they’re literally talking about the god of crawling chaos that old Howard Phillip described. So we’re not saying “the things they believe are silly and the things we believe are serious” the way a Lutheran missionary who believes in the holy trinity (despite never having seen it) would mock a south pacific savage for believing in animal spirits (which he has seen). What we are saying here is that the very way we “believe” these things is different, and they’re silly for believing in that kind of way in the first place (similar to the way its silly for the Lutheran missionary to believe in a holy trinity without ever having seen it or experienced it; only considerably sillier because at least the Lutheran isn’t faced with incontrovertible proof that the holy trinity was invented by a neurotic pulp writer 80 years ago).

Anyhow, there are two kinds of Lovecraft-morons to be found on the occult scene. The first we would call the “amateurs”: goths, self-styled “satanists”, people obsessed with looking and acting “dark” in front of others who’d probably shit their pants if they ever so much as caught a whiff of a real goetic experience. These guys will claim the Necronomicon is real, contrary to any evidence you present to them to the contrary, because they think its cool and want it to be real and that’s that. Many of them feel exactly the same way about vampires, and I’ve had at least two separate occasions when one of these guys has tried to claim to me, in all and absolute seriousness, that Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice was actually a real and true account. This was some time ago, and I have since in recent years wondered if the same crowd these days (which I’m mercifully more distant from now) have the same adamant insistence about the veracity of Twilight?

Some of them will even be certain that the Necronomicon is real because they have it on their bookshelves. There have been at least 4, possibly more, “versions” of a Necronomicon printed by small-press occult publishers (and one by at least a medium-press publisher). They’re all garbage, some are utter drivel, a couple are laughably “nice” (one contains several Jewish qabalistic prayers to God/IHVH, and I always laugh at the thought of some teenage goth thinking how badass he is while he unknowingly recites “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, o lord my God”). Probably the least bad of a really bad bunch is the Necronomicon by “Simon”, which contains extremely little Cthulhu and a great deal of stuff dealing with Babylonian gods; it might be the only commercial version of the Necronomicon that has any real magick in it at all.

In any case, this group of fans will refuse to listen to any argument based on reality, they don’t want reality. And if you scratch the surface, it becomes very evident that they also don’t want the Cthulhu stuff to be real either; I occasionally tried to argue with one of these guys that no, the Necronomicon isn’t real but its based on a real idea of medieval grimoires, and that if he wanted to he could look at those, like the Goetia which is a book of demon-summoning, or the apocalyptic angels of the Enochian system of John Dee, or the corpus hermeticum with its material for summoning demons to be your servants or guides. His response was something like “who’s ever heard of that?!”, and I figured out at that point that what these guys are doing is just a kind of act, like they’re imagining themselves participating in a CoC LARP in real life. And they know its all bullshit, they just want to pretend it isn’t once in a while, and hopefully freak some of the mundanes.

Obviously, this group of people doesn’t do any magical work and would be of no utility to Occult Investigators in a “real” occult RPG; but it could be funny to involve them in a scenario where, say, one of them insisted to the PCs that he’d found out about a “real” Necronomicon and try to lead them on some wild goose chase for his own edification (maybe with the twist being that there’s really something, not the necronomicon but some other and genuine ancient magick around, that poses a real threat).

There is another, slightly more serious kind of Lovecraft-loon in the modern “occult” scene. These are guys who I guess were faced with the fact of Cthluhu’s fiction and decided to double down. They have a more “pseudo-scholarly” approach, accepting that Lovecraft was a writer of fiction and that that the necronomicon he mentions in the stories was not a real book on earth; but they want to claim that somehow Lovecraft “tapped in” to something real (which of course he did, he tapped into real philosophical and symbolic concepts of the shadow-side of our nature as human beings, our real primordial fears, and lots of other awesome stuff, all of which makes for really great fiction… but that’s not what these guys mean). They insist that his writings about Azathoth and Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep were in fact “transmissions” being sent to him from these real entities, that the Necronomicon does not exist as a historical book but it exists in the sense of an “astral grimoire”, and all sorts of other nonsense.

For a long time, these people have tried to tie in Lovecraft to Crowley, to try to amp up the occult-cred of Lovecraft (and thus of the Mythos); after all, both men were alive at the same time, were very roughly of the same social class, Crowley had visited America on two occasions, surely there could be a connection? Some people have even managed, through thorough research, to be able to confirm without question that there were certain general acquaintances of Lovecraft who were also acquaintances of Crowley’s, as if this proves anything at all. The fact is, the two men never met, and recent very thorough biographical research on Crowley pretty much makes it impossible that there’s any doubt of this; and Lovecraft himself is known to in fact have been highly skeptical of any kind of “real occultism”.

But part of the reason these serious Lovecraft-loons have been able to harp on about this notion for so long is because one of Crowley’s students, Kenneth Grant, himself became a Lovecraft-loon later in life (long after Crowley was dead, and even longer after Lovecraft was dead). Grant was Crowley’s last secretary (in the 1940s, when Grant was a very young man, and Crowley very old), for a short while his heir in the OTO in England, wrote a number of important books on Crowley (and republished a number of Crowley’s own writings, helping to bring Crowley back into the public eye and prevent his being forgotten), and outlived Crowley by decades. In fact, he only died in 2011, one of the last people alive to have actually studied under Crowley.

In some ways a remarkable man, Grant was also an utter nutcase for at least the last four decades of his life. He had, after Crowley’s time, gotten himself very deep down a rabbit-hole of lunacy due to his own obsession with dark stuff. Had he not had any training in magick or somewhat less ambition, he’d be no different than those modern hipster-satanists I mentioned earlier in the essay. 
But Grant had received a bit of magical training, and a bit of magical training can be a dangerous thing. He had clearly gotten very deep into goetic-style work but operating without any sense of discipline or safeguards; and I think his mind snapped to the point where he had no idea what he was doing anymore. His lodge collapsed, he was kicked out of the OTO, though he continued with his own version of the order that did not in fact have any real activity and a completely different structure from Crowley’s (that is, no real structure to speak of). He started writing books about a variety of wild and crazy conjectures, including a number of things where he would name-drop Crowley but then mis-represent him as having been an active participant in Grant’s own craziness. He became, at least to me, a textbook example of the kind of Delusion (the partner of Obsession and Paranoia, the other two frequent maladies of the magician) that its very easy for a magician to fall into when they cease to be very careful about being honest with themselves and maintaining a healthy discipline with safeguards.

And along the way, he published some books called the Nightside of Eden, Outside the Circles of Time, Outer Gateways, etc. where he claimed that not only was Cthulhu a real thing, but that summoning up these entities was a really cool idea because.. reasons. That’s the thing about Kenneth Grant, and most of these more hardcore Lovecraft-loons: none of them seem to understand why the fuck one would actually want to summon up these kinds of things even if they were real. Grant’s books are long rambling drivel with a great deal of intentionally complex terminology and a considerable amount of very very bad kabbalistic numerology, and even worse etymology (and no actual magick ritual or theory to speak of); and the closest he can get to a reason for why you’d want to summon these is when he argues that it would expose you to a kind of “pre-human Gnosis”; that is to say, you’d get to feel like a non-earthly entity… which is a kind of neat parlor trick, but you can do that for real by other means, and its not really something worth devoting your life to, when the whole point of magical-spiritual practice ought to be how to fulfill your humanity.

One critic of Grant’s stuff put it best: “the best evidence for the argument that the Cthulhu Mythos is not real in spite of the claims of some occultists who try to “work with” those gods is the fact that said occultists are still alive.”

These sorts of guys, in an occult RPG campaign, would probably be great fodder for a very crazy, possibly dangerous sect; I mean, let’s face it, you’re talking about people who desperately WANT to be the cultist guys in a Lovecraft story! But the “danger” of them would be in how they’d be deluded, and obsessed, and probably vulnerable to any number of real “shadow-side” spiritual influences that they would gleefully allow to wreak havoc with their psyche and lives (and the lives of others) so that they could pretend they were chit-chatting with Yog-Sothoth. They would be a cautionary tale.

And that’s the kicker when you’re talking about trying to run a “real occult” game: it would be one where the Lovecraft-stuff is NOT real for a change, and those evil cultists trying to summon Cthulhu could be the bad guy but the real surprise spin for all the players would be that the “Cthulhu” part would be a total dud, because he’s bullshit. The ultimate bait-and-switch for players who’ve gotten used to a lot of CoC adventures.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of freaky incomprehensible things out there; what Crowley called “Praeterhuman intelligences”, or demons (what the kabbalists called the Qlippoth, the “empty shells”, the refuse of the universe that exists only as a byproduct of reality’s fracturing away from Oneness in its emanations). Or, for that matter, getting a real glimpse of what we could call “angels” (which are a far cry from babies with wings) or Gods (which are a far cry from Marvel’s Thor or Supply-Side Jesus). Firsthand experience with almost any of these kinds of things can be a freakier experience than anything to do with Cthulhu, because they are connected to our human universe, and also because they are real forces and archetypes, while Cthulhu is fiction. Experiences with any of these things have the power to change your reality, while nyarlathotep only has, at best, the power to reinforce your current nonsensical ideas. Remember: it was wallowing in the Qlippoth and allowing them unfettered feasting on his psyche (what you could call “unsafe evocation” in magic-lingo) that fucked up Kenneth Grant; not old tentacle-mouth. Grant’s Cthulhu-gibberish was just the product of the magically-shattered husk of mind that was left after the fact.


Currently Smoking: Brigham Anniversary Pipe + Image Latakia

(Originally Posted January 9, 2013)

Saturday 22 December 2018

Tik Tok Is Proof Gen-Z is Going to Overthrow SJW Millennials

I'm over 24, so I don't  understand anything on Tik Tok. None of it makes any sense to me.

However, it's pretty clear to me that the SJW crowd is losing their shit over Tik Tok, meaning it must be awesome. And of course, the reason why they're losing their shit is because they don't own it. It doesn't belong to the Millennials. It belongs to their younger siblings, the GenZ, who are very clearly sick of the SJWs' shit.

Here's hope for the next generation!  Courtesy of Sargon of Akkad:


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Oversize + H&H's Chestnut

Friday 21 December 2018

RPGPundit Reviews: The Ogre Gate Inn and the Strange Land of Li Fan

This is a review of the "Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate" sourcebook, "The Ogre Gate Inn and the Strange Land of Li Fan"; published by Bedrock Games, written by Brendan Davis.  This is, as always, a review of the print edition, which is a softcover book, 191 pages long, with a full color cover depicting some wuxia heroes. The interior art is black and white and features a variety of wuxia-style art, as well as some impressive city mapping and and floorplans.

I should note before I proceed that I have a business relationship with Bedrock Games, in that they're the publishers of my Arrows of Indra OSR RPG. I don't think that this will affect the quality of my review, but for the sake of transparency I felt I should mention it anyways. I had nothing to do with the creation of this sourcebook or the original Ogre Gate RPG, and I don't make any money from this product or this review.

If you're not familiar with the Ogre Gate RPG you may want to take a look at my earlier review of Ogre Gate here.

This new product is a sourcebook, detailing the land of Li Fan, a client state in the south of the Zhan Dao empire which is the key state of that setting. Li Fan as a region is, to quote the introduction to this book, "the most suited for Strange Tales type-adventures". It is the land where the evil Demon Emperor first entered the world; and the land and its people are "still infused with the energy from that cataclysmic event". The Ogre Gate Inn is a central part of the setting, and is here presented as an exploratory adventure.

The first chapter of the book begins with an overview of the geography and culture of Li Fan. It has strange effects throughout the land, including pockets of microclimates, a forest of trees with orange leaves, and badlands with unusual creatures. This land is adjacent to the Banyan region, the wilderlands where the great martial heroes of the kingdom live, keeping hidden from the wicked Demon Emperor; alongside all numbers of strange sects and cults isolated in the border regions.

Li Fan is a protectorate of the demon king's empire, ruled by a local king.  As a backwater, it is more conservative than the empire, and the power of clans is very important. Details are provided in the first chapter regarding the King, his chief ministers, the political structure of the land, and the most powerful Duke in the region (who has ambitions to one day be king). There's also information on social classes in Li Fan, which work on a rigid social hierarchy.
There's also information on the local hierarchy, common dishes (noodles are the staple food), local culture, the army, and political tensions.

Next, you get a list of important legendary figures: there's the legendary Bandit King Zhang Kang, Hu Gao and Zhou Hua who were a famous heroic couple, and General Mao Mei who was a female general that led resistance against the Demon Emperor (she died at the battle of Ogre Gate).
You also get information about local deities, and also the local superstitious fear of evil water spirits.

Chapter 2 is "the gazetteer of Li Fan". It starts out with some encounter tables; but starting out with noting that (as per above) there's a higher chance of there being danger near bodies of water, from the evil water spirits.  Included on p.12 is a hex-map of the Li Fan region. It is, like the maps in the Ogre Gate main book itself, quite detailed. Li Fan itself is only a very small, narrow section of the area covered by the map, while the rest of the area is populated by wilderness areas.

There are specific gazetteer entries for locations shown on the hexmap. These include such interesting locations and groups as the Bone Fortress of the Bone Breaking Sect, the Demon Maelstrom and Dragon Tooth Cavern, the Emerald Mines, the city of Fan, the Four Demon Pagodas, the Hall of Pristine Beauties, the Red Gecko Mountain, The Temple of Enlightened Disarray, Tiger Clan Fortress, and more. There's about 65 pages of material covering a wide varieties of locales. This includes some locations that only get about a paragraph of text, but others get much larger treatments; including some spectacular maps of cities or buildings, complete with keyed rooms with descriptions, descriptions of organizations and NPCs, and more. In other words, plenty of these are ready-made for encounters and scenarios.

The next chapter is "The Ogre Gate Inn", and it's a further exploration of one specific place, in the form of an adventure.  The Ogre Gate Inn is "a place frequented by thieves, martial heroes, and the scum of the empire". It's the last stop before the great desert or vast forest. A fantastic map of the Inn along with it's lower levels is provided.

The adventure for the Ogre Gate Inn covers chapters 3-6, so roughly 70 pages. It is really a kind of straightforward dungeon adventure, with the PCs having to deal with a group of bandits who have taken over the Inn, and then exploring the two lower-level areas; the first being the tomb of an ancient general, the second, a great treasury of a bandit king.

The adventure includes a list of fascinating characters at the Inn, which are fully detailed in the NPC section in chapter 6. There's also a clever set of tables of daily or hourly events, that give the place a strong sense of vibrancy. A local map is presented of the immediate environment surrounding the Ogre Gate Inn.

The adventure itself is very interesting, as a kind of alternative-genre fantasy dungeon. It is in some ways going through the same motions as you would in a D&D module, but the content and cultural context is totally different! In a similar way to what some OSR games have done (my own Arrows of Indra and Lion & Dragon among them), Ogre Gate has a very specific culture-context that is done in an all-in kind of way. This is NOT "oriental adventures D&D", which is still basically a western setting with oriental facade. It is very, very Asian, written by someone who knows his stuff.

After the adventure, we get to chapter 7, which adds some new Kung Fu Techniques and Rituals that appear in this book which did not appear in the Ogre Gate main book. These have such wonderful names as "Blast of the Dragon Breath", "Busting Fists of Master Liu", "Eluding Viper", "Granny Chang's Flailing Daggers", etc.
Chapter 8 presents "Objects of power and equipment", which again present about 20 new artifacts not from the original rulebook. Chapter 9 is the "new monster" section, but this chapter includes a large number of stat-blocks for different NPCs from various sects and groups, ranging from common groups to the cultists of certain monasteries (one of the details of the Ogre Gate RPG is that since each school has their own special techniques, it makes it very difficult to just provide generic statblocks).  You also get some great wuxia-style monsters, including "Crystal Priests of Quijun", bone demons, demon monkeys, mercury golems, owl-monkeys, and a few others.  This closes off the book.

So, to conclude about "The Ogre Gate Inn and the Strange Land of Li Fan": do you already own and like the Ogre Gate RPG? If so, this is definitely a product you're going to want to buy!

Do you not own the Ogre Gate RPG, but might want to? This book adds another reason for doing so.  It should be noted that Ogre Gate has its own system; it's not even remotely an OSR game, so if that's where you come from (as I imagine many of my readers do), you'll have to work out if you want to get into an all-new all-different system. But if you're open to a new game system, Ogre Gate is really a remarkable game. The system is decent; the setting is spectacular.

What about if you have no interest in playing the Ogre Gate RPG? Can you still mine this system? I'd say yes. If you want to run, say, a D&D or OSR game in a Chinese-mythology-inspired Wuxia context, there'd be a ton of setting material available to you. You could get the main RPG, which presents an incredibly vast setting, or you could just take the material in this book as a smaller setting, the sort of thing that would work for shorter campaigns or for a side-visit to a distant part of your setting, it could be very useful. Of course, you'd have to totally wing the conversion of the NPCs and monsters, and undoubtedly some of that would require some work and a lot of the fine detail of the martial powers would probably be lost in a conversion to a D&D/OSR system.

On the whole, it's a very admirable work.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Half-Volcano + C&D's Morning Drive