Thursday, January 28, 2021

VILLAINS FLY ZEPPELINS - Pulp Adventure in the Style of Indiana Jones & The Rocketeer

Mood Music (Look, I can't help myself. I love mood music.)

In October of 2020, the Free Kriegsspiel Revolution (FKR) Discord released the first edition of its APA-style zine, The Neverending Drachenschwanz, with the theme being "Zeppelins & War." The iconic and ominous zeppelin conjures images of dieselpunk esoteria, disaster, and 100% nefarious villains piloting them to enact schemes of global manipulation. 

Timothy Dalton as Neville Sinclair, from The Rocketeer

As such, I took it upon myself to leverage Norbert Matausch's excellent Landshut and go full-camp into the tropes of moustache-twirling, scheme-hatching, globe-trotting villains flying around in sinister zeppelins while you, the players, race to thwart their plans and unravel their public prestige. 

You might be a journalist, armed with little more than a bowie knife and a tome of ancient lore. You're great at brawling, but you're bad at driving. Regardless, it's up to you and your friends to stop the plot of Kitanova Vadimovna, the dread cultist from the USSR whose signature explosions bristle from her heavily-armed sky fortress. Can you work with your contact, Barnaby St. John the fixer, to recover the ebon monkey of Ibn Fatullah before Vadimovna and her goons get to it first? Will you be able to evade the meddling of Illuminati mercenaries pursuing their own ends, but intervening in yours?

The above is a full plot generated across sixteen short d6 tables. A few rolls is all you need to whip up the seed for a complete adventure, a party of "good guys," the villain, their zeppelin, the artifact, and more. The game is run primarily by description, impact, and common sense consequences, with opposed 2d6 to adjudicate situations with unclear outcomes.

Michael Byrne as Ernst Vogel, from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Grab your whips, your flashbulb cameras, and your side-car motorcycles. Indulge your spirit of daring and dauntless adventure and rise to the occasion. Pit yourself against the evil caprice of cabals, conspiracies, and grandstanding public enemies while VILLAINS FLY ZEPPELINS!

Friday, January 22, 2021

Android Setting: Jinteki

Mood Music 

"Never forget that your clone is a living being. Like pets and even humans, clones have biological necessities that must be addressed. New owners can at times forget, and clones--especially ones placed into new circumstances--are often reluctant to bring them up..."

In 1873, Satoshi Akiko stepped out of the fuedal holdovers of rural Japan and into the modern world of pharmacy. Kyoto was on the up and up, and the Satoshi family made a name for themselves by cutting ahead of the curve regarding industrial distribution for their wares, and riding into the 20th century on the wave of progressive company policy, cross-media investment, and private outsourcing of medical research. The pharma boom of the 21st century rocketed the Satoshi name into household presence, though their milieu was limited mostly to the staples of combating common illness, improving skin health, and adding shine to the pearly whites of the world's suburban sprawl.

Everything changed when the Big War came and went.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

d66 Cairn Background Loadouts Adapted from Old School Essentials

As I mentioned before, I forever admire the B/X & OSE feel regarding traditional Dungeons & Dragons adventuring, but I'm partial to Into the Odd's take on classless characters. The consequent reliance on items, background, flavor, and cunning to formulate your "class" identity in-game (and several factors therein allowing for constant malleability and foreground growth) is the sweet spot for me in terms of who a character is and what they do. This comes full circle with Yochai Gal's adaptation of the Into the Odd family for "traditional" adventuring in dark wood and dungeon alike, Cairn.

Stepan Alekseev

So, without further adieu, I present to you my interpretation of nearly all extant Old School Essentials classes (including Classic Fantasy, Advanced Fantasy, and selections from Carcass Crawler and Dolmenwood) in Cairn loadout style.

(Also available in free PDF at DriveThruRPG and

Friday, January 1, 2021

My Approach to NPCs

I'm not a good player. Or rather, I am not an invested player. I've learned that I find it hard to remain invested in piloting a single character, and ended up vastly preferring the referee's role over the years due in no small part to my enjoyment of playing through a myriad of non-player characters. Making the mundane come alive, and sprucing up the set dressing of the game world--that's the stuff. It's the world-building I enjoy most of all, but not through arduous campaign planning... it's through the needs, desires, and machinations of NPCs and their related random tables.

After coming across Joel Haver's short films about a year or so ago, I've enjoyed them greatly, and recently, he's put out several animated bits that resonate with my approach to NPCs a great deal. Let's watch them and see what we can gather.