Thursday, December 17, 2020



An adventure game needs little more than interesting choices regarding interesting people amidst interesting locales.

Monday, December 7, 2020

My Interview with Alone In The Labyrinth

Short but sweet, Sofinho invited me to his podcast for a chat about my history with board and roleplaying games; Free Kriegsspiel and whatever the heck it means; the beats behind Any Planet Is Earth, Weird North, and Galaxy Far Away; and playing RPGs with little kids. All of this led to a larger conversation about imagination, it's training, and how to lean into it with new and old players alike.


I make this post mostly to add the clarifier that DJ Kool's "Let Me Clear My Throat" is my headcanon theme song for Svarku the Efreet from Hot Springs Island, presumably surrounded by breakdancing combustarinos. That's all.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Android Setting: Haas-Bioroid

 Mood Music

Effective. Reliable. Humane. A Different Breed of Machine.

Cars, guns, transcendence--a strong company ethic grows and adapts to meet consumer demand. 

What began as a heavy manufacturing business in Germany over a hundred years ago, Haas Industrie transformed from automation process supplier for the European Union to the most profound technology conglomerate in human history. What Jürgen Haas didn't know when he started his production company was that his descendents would learn not only how to play God, but to sell his miracles at a competitive margin.

Cybernetics was always a passing fancy for heavy industry and tech start-ups alike, but what cybernetic interface research needed to truly flourish was a framework which could fully leverage automated intelligence. Anyone can build a tank or a crane or a side-arm, but can they create a self-diagnostic artifical leg which passes for the real thing? What about replacing a damaged central nervous system and making the lame man walk? Can they build a computer so nuanced, it sincerely believes it is human? These were questions which Haas Industrie began to ask after Jürgen's son, Dieter, took over the company after his father's passing. 

Limb replacements and augmented implants stepped out of the medical field and into the cosmetic and security industries. Hand-held weapons which could think and see for their wielders became staples for UN peacekeepers in dangerous territory. Subdermal arrays helped not only to combat congenital defects but reinforce the perfection of celebrities' bodies and charisma. The market was always there, but until Haas Industrie entered the scene, it was dry and unanswered.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Android Setting: Weyland Consortium

Mood Music 

"I'd like to remind the ladies and gentlemen of the press that several of the buildings damaged in the blast were owned by Weyland Consortium subsidiaries… I'd say it's nothing personal, but corporations are people, too." 

Jack Weyland was a university boy who attended Ivy Consolidated given his parents' combined wealth in private venture. They wanted him to become a businessman. He decided to become an engineer, instead, until he dropped out and founded his own research lab where the science-fiction of nanoferrules became reality. Several investments and a half-baked marriage later, Weyland-Osman Materials was born, and with it, the grant money and government contracts that allowed for the full realization of its next phase, Weyland Constortium. Investing across a multi-layered portfolio of business interests, Weyland Consortium turned its full attention to constructing the Beanstalk, the beyond-ambitious space elevator of Jack's engineering dreams. In ten years and the substantial pooling of much of the world's government wealth, the Beanstalk was a reality. Jack immediately turned his attention to next tackling more efficient space travel, off-world colonization, and fusion refinement, but the Weyland board of directors deemed him too fast and forward-thinking. Wanting to protect their massive investment capital for the Beanstalk project, they ousted Jack Weyland from his own corporation.

Weyland, himself, left to fund many of his own projects, and remains an enigmatic visionary amidst a system which became far larger than he intended, and one which is utterly corrupt in his absence.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Hacking Globalsec from New Angeles: A Quick Android Setting Primer

Mood Music

The Android setting by Fantasy Flight Games is huge. It began in the late 2000s with an eponymous board game which was more like a cyberpunk noir film generator than a murder mystery game. It was brilliant, and remains a personal favorite for just how existential it is. Later, FFG got the rights for Richard Garfield's old Netrunner CCG and released Android: Netrunner, where the lore exploded across all of the card sets. I've indulged a lot of cyberpunk over the years, be it through the classic novels and stories, Bladerunner and its adjacents, or board and roleplaying games alike. My favorite take on the genre remains Android, and as I mull over running a diceless cyberpunk game, I decided I'd dust off the beautiful (and huge) Worlds of Android artbook/lorebook that FFG released several years ago. 

So, for any of you who are already familiar with Android, whether through the board game, the brilliant asymmetric card game, or the "official" adaptation through FFG's Genesys system, none of this is new. For the rest, I want to introduce you briefly to the setting, and put out another few posts about quick-hits for lore touchpoints for megacorps, factions, groups of runners and hackers, and the like. Nothing crunchy. Few, if any numbers. Just tasty bits to break off and insert into your various cyberpunk-adjacent games. If you have Worlds of Android, great, it's fantastic, but it's also a tome, and no one wants to quickly gloss a tome when you only need a few hand-holds into the setting.

Why do I prefer Android over other, more recognized cyberpunk settings? Perhaps because it came about more recently and affords a more accurate projection of our actual society into the near future. Perhaps because not every story within is about nihilist anarchism raging against the machine (featuring soccer moms-turned-hackers like Sunny Lebeau, everyday transhumans like teenaged Kit Peddler, or a remnant AI from before the big war, slowly evolving in the darkest corners of the internet, like APEX). Perhaps because there is limited stellar sci-fi, with a giant space elevator in Ecuador, fusion reactors on the moon, and colonies on Mars. But I'd be lying if I said it didn't have anything to do with the net wünderkind, Chaos Theory, and her computer console, Dinosaurus.

"When I said I could hack in my sleep, did you think I was joking?"

Friday, November 13, 2020

The Dank Morass: A Swampcrawl for Weird North

So, the Gygax 75 bit is supposed to be weekly. Well, this second installment of my attempt is, uh, monthly. I blame my infant, my seminary degree, and Hearthstone*. That's at least a start.

With the help of my son, Ted (who has starred in all of my RPGs With Kids posts), I put together the first of what I hope to be multiple regional maps/crawls/supplements for Weird North. A while back I pitched him "a spin on the Dark Tower," which, of course he doesn't know about, given that I don't recommend suggesting Stephen King novels to children. He thought I said "Dank Tower," and stuck with it. It cracked me up, so I decided, yeah, Dank Tower, in some awful swamp filled with dinosaurs and relics from a bygone era. The Dank Morass was born, and now I will attempt to translate it here for your rudimentary use as I slowly hone it for my own purposes. So, well, I guess this is my second offical "Gygax 75" post. Hoo boy. 

It's dank. Dank.

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Conceptual Beats of Weird North

Okay, so Ray Otus' throught-provoking Gygax 75 came out in April of this year. I was very intrigued by it, but didn't really have the time to commit. Now, with a bit more breathing room, I'm going to go for it week-by-week as a think-out-loud process of expanding the implied setting of my own Weird North. The world is assumed to be ancient, strange, and filled with layered mystery. 

1. Get/create a notebook

  • I'm using this blog for this purpose. Yes, I have and enjoy many moleskine journals, but when I write creative notes on paper they tend to disappear, get ripped in half, or outright eaten by toddlers.

2. Develop your pitch

  • The world is very, very old 
    The planet itself is ancient. Dozens of world-spanning civilizations have come and gone. The current populace mostly doesn't realize it's number X in a long line of successful occupants of the world. Bizarre and inscrutable relics from past eras are buried in the earth, or stick out of hills at random. Magic and technology are cruel and indistinguishable.
  • Many realms have links to the land
    Portals abound. Whether magical, mechanical, or entirely inscrutable, the landscape is perpetually connected to out-world, demiplanes, extant planets, and spiritual realities. Portals might be obvious (blazing gateways in plain sight) or obscured (crawl into that tree root and take a left).
  • Human power centers are not alone
    Many human outposts and lesser kingdoms have scratched out a living in and on the world's surface levels, but cabals of snakepeople, demon overseers, and eldritch abominations hold sway over the greater politics of the landscape whether by obvious or covert means. Every local plot tugs on strings leading into the shadows.
  • Magic is corrupting 
    There wasn't always arcana in the world. It came from outside. As the eons churned, more and more strange energy seeped into the planet itself, whether by portal, occult influence, or mechanical summons. There are extant masters of magic, but not one of them is human. Humans can't handle much magic before they begin to lose their humanity.
  • Mercenary ambition is the norm
    With apocalyptic events having peppered the world several times over, no one makes many lasting plans. Kingdoms are small or nomadic. Villages are transient. Artifacts, outsiders, and the planet itself are armed, dangerous, and paradigm-shifting. Everyone survives, no one thrives.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

RPGs with Kids, 5: Push the Button

My boy and I had an awesome follow-up session to our maiden voyage of Galaxy Far Away

Last time, the crew of the Brave Eagle (Ithak, Jenssi, Dash, and 10-N) knocked over a supply depot held by Imperial troops in order to jack some contraband tibanna gas for use as Rebel hyperdrive fuel. There were some rigged explosions, burgeoning Force powers, and a funny conversation with a stormtrooper in an elevator. Ultimately, Dash got shot (but recovered!), and the Brave Eagle returned to the moon of Corellia where Commander Suto gave everyone a word of congratulations for the mission. Most importantly, my young son, Ted, had a wonderful time playing Star Wars.

For the next session, Suto tasks the crew with finding a refinery to process the tibanna gas into actionable fuel for Rebel ships. A tip-off leads to Onderon across the Inner Rim from Corellia where another operative, Janna Kor, leads a recon group. Janna is a seasoned Rebel who has a heavily-modded A-Wing at her disposal, and is currently assigned with R2-D2 (Ted's request!). She often zips around the planet spying on Imperial operations and looking for weaknesses. Ithak (Ted's main character) hits it off with Janna quickly, and the two put their heads together to make a daring plan--use the tibanna gas as an explosive, blow up the biggest Imperial refinery on Onderon, and steal all of their fuel. All I had to do was let slip to Ted that tibanna gas is very volatile and can blow up, and the rest of the plan was all his.

My favorite take on Onderon was from Knights of the Old Republic II.

Monday, September 21, 2020

RPGs with Kids, 4: Frag Grenades and Force Powers

A little while ago I wrote Galaxy Far Away to play Star Wars with my young son, and we finally sat down to do just that this weekend. 

With a few questions and d6 rolls, Ted created Ithak the Ithorian, a Force-sensitive X-Wing pilot and loyal Rebel who is very shy but loves his family. He's great at sneaking around. At some point in the past he went to Tatooine and was ambushed by Tusken Raiders and is afraid to return to the planet. He also met R2-D2 once and they became good friends. His goal is to find Yoda and get real training in the Force.

Ithak the Ithorian, our protagonist

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Quick Dolmenwood Loadouts for Bastionland

After reading Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell I was enchanted all over again by the dark and quasi-creepy folklore of the British Isles and Northern Europe that I grew up hearing. Clarke nailed the eerie otherness of faerie, and proved for modern audiences that concepts like neverland are not, in fact, streaked through with rainbows and pixie dust. 

Pauliina Hannuniemi

There is one RPG setting that has perfectly captured this strange, disturbing-at-the-edges folk feel, and that's Gavin Norman's Dolmenwood as made popular through the Wormskin zines by Necrotic Gnome. As I type this, there is a Kickstarter for the setting somewhere on the horizon. Could be this year. Could be five years from now.

Who knows? But I want to know... pssst, Gavin!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Weird North is LIVE

When Eclectic Bastion Jam was announced back in July, I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing a full-scale RPG hack based on Into the Odd. I'm all for pulpy fantasy like Conan the Cimmerian, Fahfrd and the Gray Mouser, and Dying Earth, so I set to work putting together a proper Sword & Sorcery hack of the Bastionland family of games.

At forty-five total pages, Weird North is a stripped down ruleset which is easy to learn, use, and adapt. 

- A simple but punishing inventory and encumbrance rubric forcing tough choices about treasure and lackeys.

- Corrupting magic with a chance to turn your players into snake people, demons, and eldritch pillars of otherworldly strangeness.

- More than a dozen generators for dungeons, warbands, pocket realms, NPC problems, and occult rites.

- Six archetypes for players to delve into the flavor of the world, such as the grave-robbing Sepluchrite, the weapon-mastering Contender, and the rat-controlling Dirtfriend.

- Genre-focused public domain art, clean layout, and a magnificent character sheet designed by Cosmic Orrery.

You can download the PDF in pages and spreads, the plain text rules under CC-by-SA 4.0 sharing, and character sheets in A5 and Letter size for $6.00 at DTRPG and itch. The DTRPG page has a preview of everything but the generators and gear lists. The full description is below.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Galaxy Far Away: Star Wars - This Is The (Ultralight) Way

I love Star Wars. I always have. I always will. Arguments about which bit of the canon (or non-canon!) is best is moot. Every segment of the whole has its flaws--lackluster moments, inconsistencies, cringe-inducers, and poor realization etc--but the saga is greater than the sum of its parts. I digress. This isn't an agenda post, it's my attempt to slim down Star Wars roleplaying into a bite-sized game while maintaining grit, tropes, and high stakes.

Ever since I read around about FKR stuff I thought about the "worlds, not rules" adage, and what worlds I'd like to translate to an ultralight model. My son made that decision for me after he asked me to run a Star Wars game for him. I have WEG Star Wars d6 handy, but thats an awful lot of dice and still a bit too crunchy for a five-year-old to play. I've opted to take concepts from Landshut, Adventure HourRevenant's Hack, and Primeval d6 and fire them all into the thermal exhaust vent of the Death Star to see what happens.

Jaromir Hrivnac, ff

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Free Kriegsspiel: Worlds, Not Rules, Etc.

What's Free Kriegsspiel? That's a silly name. 

Okay, free kriegsspiel (FK) is shorthand for "ancient school" RPG theory. That is, how were role-playing games played before role-playing games were published and "official"? What did they look like before D&D etc showed up in the early 1970s? In a very modest nutshell, tabletop wargames in the 1800s ("kriegsspiel," in German) slowly evolved to a point where military strategists realized that a neutral referee (the "umpire") could help arbitrate fog of war and interpretation of rules, making the game/simulation far more flexible and realistic. These umpires translated hard rules into "free" rulings, hence "free kriegsspiel."

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

RPGs with Kids, 3: Thumb-Wrestling with Lizardmen

After a hiatus of travel, a wedding, more travel, and then hiding under a blanket for two weeks of isolation, my son and I brought out the Into the Odd goodness yet again and got to work in the Intemperate Jungle and the ruined Caverns of Thracia below it. This ended up being a short session due to a certain uncoorperative infant who refused to nap in the interim, but it was a fun one all the same, and a great look into Ted's burgeoning storytelling and roleplaying self.

Anjo, Rock, and Roxley left town after a solid restock and wound their way back to the surface ruins and the several entrances to the dungeon below. The Encounter Die d6 rolled a 1, signalling a run-in with NPCs, so I let Anjo & Co know that they could hear squelching footsteps in the swampy grounds surrounding the overgrown ruins. Ted decided that Anjo and his buddies would head down the big stairs to slip out of notice, especially since he was curious about them when the party chose to rapel down into the deep black hole in the earth on the last visit. 

For the moment, the footsteps go away, and the party delves into a large chamber filled with rubble and flanked on the remaining sides with dark passages. Ted heads for the forward passage which is marked with old pillars on either side. I remark that it smells like musty poop down here, which both grosses him out and piques his interest. Rock holds up a torch and sees that the ceiling is moving... bats, and zounds of them! Pulling back from the bat-and-guano corridor, the footsteps come back into earshot, but this time they're moving down the stairs to the lower chambers!

After my best hissing and clicking sounds successfully spook Ted, I have a sibilant voice call out from the darkness. "What are you doing down here? Are you friends with the armored ones along the southern chambers?" Ted put two-and-two together and responded in the negative, saying that the bad dudes in armor (the cultists for Thanatos) are no friends of his. He introduces himself and his peers, and the encroaching figures step into the flickering torchlight. Two lizardmen, taller than anyone in the party, broader, stronger, and better equipped. Ted is a bit frightened, but puts on a brave face. "We are not your enemies. We're your friends." He says with confidence in his voice. He goes on to explain that he is just an explorer, that he and his friends are trying to find a name for themselves without harming anyone who could be a friend. 

Ted was really impressed by the lizardmen's chakram weapons.

The lizardmen introduce themselves as Sik'Garuk and Krask, and both seem more curious than aggressive (I rolled a 7 on the reaction 2d6). Ted was doing well in guiding the encounter to a helpful resolution. Sik'Garuk asked that they vow not to harm each other so long as they share a common enemy in the cult. Ted agreed. I reached out my hand to his at the table as Krask went to shake Anjo's hand, but Ted decided that as a show of cameraderie, Anjo would thumb-wrestle Krask rather than return the shake. I had both lizardmen appear confused, but Ted was adamant that it's something real friends would be comfortable doing, so I laughed and obliged. 

Both of the party's new friends told them all about the dangers and possible traps and pitfalls in this level of the complex, and warned them that some of their own kin had joined up with the nefarious dogmen and other foes lurking further below. Ted took a piece of candy from a bowl on the kitchen counter and handed it to me, expressing that he wanted Anjo to give it to Sik'Garuk as a token of his friendship. The pair graciously accepted, and exited back into the shadows with goodwill towards the three plucky adventurers.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

(hopefully) Simple and (possibly) Universal Player Advice

As a short, sweet follow-up to yesterday's post on pared-down and generic referee advice, here are seven short maxims for players in any adventure game. Regardless of genre, these ought to prove helpful for framing the expectations of your game and either softening the crunch of tenured veterans or quickly bringing new players up to speed.

Stepan Alekseev, "50"

Agency: Attributes and related saves do not define your character. They are tools. Don’t ask what your character would do, ask what you would do. Be creative with your intuition, items, and connections. 

Teamwork: Seek consensus from the other players before barreling forward. Stay on the same page about goals and limits, respecting each other and accomplishing more as a group than individuals. 

Exploration: Asking questions and listening to detail is more useful than any numbers, items, or skills you have. Take the referee’s description without suspicion, but don’t shy away from seeking more information. There is no single correct way forward. 

Talking: Treat NPCs as if they were real people, and rely on your curiosity to safely gain information and solve problems. You'll find that most people are interesting, and will want to talk things through before getting violent. 

Planning: Think of ways to avoid your obstacles through reconnaissance, subtlety, and fact-finding. Do some research and ask around about your objectives. 

Ambition: Set goals and use your meager means to take steps forward. Expect nothing. Earn your reputation. Keep things moving forward and play to see what happens. Pull the lever.

Violence: Fighting is a choice, and rarely a wise one; consider whether violence is the best way to achieve your goals. Try to stack the odds in your favor, and retreat when things seem unfavorable.

Monday, August 3, 2020

(hopefully) Simple and (possibly) Universal Referee Advice

While pumping out more copy for Weird North (Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland hack for the Sword & Sorcery genre), I've tried to keep my referee advice as succinct and helpful as possible. Adages, not block text. Suggestions, not a manual. Common sense, not overwrought pedantics. Hat tip to Chris McDowall for spearheading many of these concepts for the thick-skulled and slow-brained, like me.

I adore Stepan Alekseev's art. That is all.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Six Weird North Archetypes for Bastionland

With BastionJam ongoing, I'm working on a full sword & sorcery hack of Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland. I'm calling it Weird North, and it is inspired by various pulpy picaresque tales, as well as my deep-diving into the monolith that is Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (2nd Edition). As to the latter game, it's too crunchy for my taste (though I'd totally still run and play it!), but the flavor is on point. The gazetteer in the back, alone, is a goldmine. But, my preferences being what they are, it's Into the Odd or some close derivative just about every time, so that's the mechanical mold into which I'm pouring this atmospheric pulp novella goodness.

Armor, Odilon Redon
Jason Tocci and I discussed on the Bastionland Discord recently that we were both tinkering with soft classes/soft progression for Chris McDowall's games--not so hard that it forces some abstract compartmetalization of the game, but just enough to carrot-on-a-stick players in different directions through organic means. Then we both chuckled as Chris simply posted a more refined version of the same idea himself with Paralegal Bastionland. Kudos to Chris, as it's his game after all! Paralegal Bastionland affords a concise, actionable template for similar ideas, so I've decided to directly adapt it to Weird North.

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Picaresque Tale

{A bit of mood music for you}

It is difficult for me to think of old school adventure without thinking about the various Appendix N authors, which then leads me to think a lot about the specific works of Jack Vance, Robert E. Howard, Fritz Lieber and the rest, and that leads me to think about the curious word which has typically fallen out of modern use but is the foundational catch-all for the pulpy, strange, and morally gray hijinks which fill the pages of these stories: "picaresque." The dictionary definition for this old Spanish word (originally "picaro") is as follows: 

"Relating to an episodic style of fiction dealing with the adventures of a rough and dishonest but appealing hero." 

The picaresque tale centers around a wandering individual of low standing who happens into a series of adventures among people of various higher classes, often relying on their wits and a little dishonesty to get by. Barring higher moral design concepts of alignment (law/chaos, good/evil), the majority of the old school adventure game context resides in the picaresque--doing what it takes to outsmart and cajole circumstances into advantages, grabbing loot, pilfering powerful secrets from those in power or those long-dead, and coming out richer, stronger, and probably more broken than you started.

A personal favorite cover and title, especially wed together.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

RPGs with Kids, 2: Daring Escape!

Rock is exhausted, reeling under a curse of The Dark One. Roxley's torch is running out, sputtering in the predatory dark. Anjo is laden down with treasure, barely able to make a step without dropping something of value.

This is where we pick up session 2 of Caverns of Thracia via Into the Odd with my five-year-old, Ted.

It's simple, really. Make a big score, then get out and secure it for profit. Simple. Simple. Even my little son knew the jig was likely up when I presented the situation as such in response to his question, "what should we do now?" The party skulked back through the dark undercaverns of the jungle ruins, crossing the trapped bridge with care, and alighting on the cobbled platform where their rope hangs solitary from the pinprick of light far above in the ceiling. "We should get out of here," I offer as Roxley, when Ted asks his peers for their opinion. Ah, but the glint of hubris sprung alight in young Ted's eye as he pored over the map and saw another corridor just to the east of the party's position.

A Long Fulsiform Object, Jules Férat

Friday, June 26, 2020

RPGs with Kids, 1: Into Thracia

Here's the thing, I've played (and more often run) a lot of online RPG stuff over the years. It's great, and I don't deny how much I enjoy it. Play-by-Forum has become a bit of an artform since I started in 2015, and I rarely have a dull day since those notifications always pop up with something delightful.

I don't have a local game group and don't really have the time to go find one, so I've put off live games for a while... until now. Until now, that is, because my oldest son, Ted, turned five years old a little while back, and I thought I'd risk possible over-the-headedness by offering to run a proper dungeon delve for him. He's already a very enthusiastic storyteller, so I didn't think it would be all that big a stretch for him to get into the game.

Opting to start as simply possible, it was a toss-up for me between using Maze Rats and Into the Odd for the game, and I opted for the latter, if for no other reason but because I've been running Maze Rats for two parallel tables of Hot Springs Island over on So, Into the Odd it was, and Ted really enjoyed rolling up some characters. I decided that I'd run Caverns of Thracia for him...

Anjo, Roxley, and Rock descend into Thracia...

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Any Planet Is Earth is LIVE

Welp, after several months of writing, refinement, and relentless editing for concision, my little sci-fi game, Any Planet Is Earth, is live and available for sale at DTRPG and! To say I am pleased with it is an understatement. I am pumped! I want to give a big thank you to those who provided excellent feedback, playtesting, and inspiration to the project, and a special shout-out to Jeff Woodman who put together the evocative and brilliantly simple cover art (the little ship is my fave).

Thursday, June 4, 2020

2d6 Sci-Fi d66 Tables

As I continue chugging along with Any Planet Is Earth I find myself thinking about what referee tables would actually help me when running the game. I have plenty made up at this point, and I have more to go, but I thought I'd plop out a few of the most generic for the sake of broader usability. Since d6 is the best die, and 2d6 is the best number of dice, and d66 is the best table, and Maze Rats has the best d66 presentation, I opted to go with that formatting.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

An Example Crew

To follow up on yesterday's post about character generation in Any Planet Is Earth, I rolled against some tables tonight to generate a sample crew of five people for play following their respective careers. I rolled 100% randomly here, not picking services for any characters, whether initial or follow-up.

Pardon my coffee table (janky).

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Any Planet Is Earth: Character Generation

After establishing intitial concept for Any Planet Is Earth, I've put together the service tables for terms served by players during character generation. You'll either roll for or select your starting service, roll 2d6 against the corresponding table, then either accrue skills or bonuses or roll against subtables for events, mishaps, and boons. In this manner I am scraping my favorite bits from the expanded Mongoose Traveller 2 career tables and stripping them of their context, allowing for players to come up with the context for their results or with help from the referee. This provides some easy worldbuilding while also setting up your character quickly with a lot of variablility.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Any Planet Is Earth: Core Rules Draft

"Any planet is 'Earth' to those who live on it." 
Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky

I thought I wanted to set out to make a fantasy adventure game of my own design. I was wrong. I already held Into the Odd and (the tragically lesser known) MoldHammer up as near-perfect designs (the former with a bit more crunch than the latter [which sounds amusingly impossible]). After digging into the Electric Bastionland rules (not to mention already enjoying Mausritter, Maze Rats, and other venerable off-Odd derivative hacks), I realized that there is no fantasy design space I really care to fill. I will 100% always play or run or hack any title from that family of games.

So with few other strong contenders for genre, I turn to science fiction, which I've really always admired reading and exploring far more than fantasy literature and games of all stripes. Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Jack Vance, Orson Scott Card, and William Gibson took up (and still take up) a great deal of my reading budget, among other similar contemporaries. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Sci-Fi Encounter Die

I really enjoy hard-going-on-harder science fiction. Star Wars and general science fantasy/space opera are wonderful, but I prefer the Robert Heinlein/Issac Asimov variety the best. I've been reading it for far longer than I ever read Tolkien, Vance, or LeGuin. I find myself in the thick of the OSR fantasy side of things if for no other reason than the ubiquity of dirty goblins in the world. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it is readily enjoyable. That said, after reading through The Traveller Book several times after grabbing it in POD format, I realize that really and truly I am a sci-fan before I'm a fantasy fan. It's not really a "this or that" situation, of course, but all that is to say that I have spent a lot of time trying to come up with a "perfect" fantasy rule set for my use, only to find that in all honesty, Mausritter beat me to it. Seriously, every riff on modern "old school" fantasy I had brewing in my brain has been done already and better by Isaac Williams. Go download his game and enjoy--it's Into the Odd taken to the Platonic Ideal of OSR adventure.

The illustrious A. Shipwright.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Three Alt-Mesozoic Fantasy Dinosaur Archetypes

For this year’s bonus Secret Jackalope, I present Lexi with dinosaurs from a different, fantastical Mesozoic era.

AD&D Allosaurus, looking a bit bent.
Dinosaurs, as we know of them on earth, were once the apex examples of both predator and prey alike. The various eras of natural prehistory featured a menagerie of amazing creatures, but only the Mesozoic Era provided us with dinos, and we got zounds of them. Traditional dinosaurs have shown up in RPGs since their inception, with a number of supplements, adventures, locales, bestiaries, and whole campaign settings devoted to them or highlighting them prominently.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Six Mighty Boosh Backgrounds for Troika!

Open your mind. Let us begin our quest to find the new sound. Come with us now, on a journey though time and space...

Back in my first-ever post I mentioned my firm belief that The Mighty Boosh takes place in the Troika! setting. Consequently I present you with six backgrounds touching on both common and unique Boosh flavors. Were I more ambitious than I actually am, I'd promise you thirty more backgrounds to make a proper d66 table. I might.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Runes and Rune Words

Diablo II is a masterpiece. 

I'm not much for "gearporn," and in fact, I mostly hate that wretched term. That said, if one game got the idea of nigh-limitless equipment options right, it was Diablo II. The vanilla game was stacked with all sorts of axes, boots, wands, gems, helms, belts, and potions... but when the expansion, Lord of Destruction, was released along with some patches, the scope of the game's equipment list became truly staggering. I won't go into undue detail here, but one item type introduced in the expansion content is the focus of this post: runes.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Talents: Divine and Weird

After looking at fighter/rogue and ranger/wizard talents for use in Knave and similar rules-light whatever-games, we come to cleric-analogues and... everything else. The "weird" list has made appearances across the blogopshere and seems to be the witchy/eldritch/esoteric bucket for various and sundry curious abilities. I've very much enjoyed what I've seen elsewhere, and tweaked and added my own thoughts to finalize what I'd like to leverage in terms of flavor and mechanics.