Monday, May 14, 2018

D30 folksy rumours of treasure locations

1 the bottom of an old well
2 the tallest tree
3 the last farm before the swamp
4 North of the giant skull
5 where the wind doesn't blow
6 the glass spire
7 in the burnt out ruins of the thieves guild
8 the UN pickable chest
9 in the boot of a statue
10 in the captain of the guards attic
11 haunted stable
12 secret compartment on the gate of a castle
13 below the nearest island
14 wreckage of ship stuck on a cliff
15 lost in a public library
16 follow the clues on the paving stones
17 the dream labyrinth
18 in “plain sight “ the tavern of the same name.
19 buried with a Siamese twin
20 wrapped in a blanket on the bank of a river
21 inside a lute
22 inside a keg of ale
23 on the left hand of a old priest
24 a cold meadow in a large forest, ringed with evergreens
25 the location is drawn in a painting on the wall of a chapel (roll again)
26 unmarked grave on a mountain path
27 the basement of a house of Ill repute
28 tied under the dock
29 a puzzle using the last names on headstones
30 invisible map tattooed on a horse.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Mashup Campaign Idea

I've been watching a lot of TV lately.  Just finished up West world season 1, The Alienist, and season 1 of the Frankenstein chronicles.  All of which are really good! I highly recommend them.

So here's the idea, I've always been a HUGE fan of the old horror movies, Lon Chaney, Bella Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Claude Rains, the list is never ending honestly.  Another movie I absolutely loved when I was a kid was Monster Squad! Of course you can throw in some Penny Dreadful into the mix as well.

Setting: Early 1800's English Countryside, and England (well sort of).
System:  Lotfp (with black powder guns), or maybe Call of Cthulhu.  I just realized this could totally work for DP&D as well!

The PCs are in a virtual environment, much like West World, It's England in the early 1800s.  They are fully aware that they are in the environment, it's an escape from everyday life in the year 3000.  The evening is foggy, the oil lanterns burn low in the tavern.  There is a scream from outside, the PCs rush to see what happened.  Lying in the street is a prostitute, her body is crumpled, head twisted almost all the way around.  No human could do this.....

The rabbit hole leads the PCs to all the great monsters from the horror movies, Frankie, Dracula, Werewolves, etc.  It's up to them to find out what's happening and stop it.

It's going to be campy, just like those movies, it's going to be scary.

The twist of course, unlike West World, and much like Total Recall the PCs can die in the world.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Halfway to layout city and goodies!

Alright, so we have basically finished editing "the return of the blue baron" ie volume 2.  I had originally named it "part deux", but figured that might confuse a few people.  Note that there is the Queen's English in the document however, examples include "Armour".  In those instances you should know that a Canadian may have written that section. 

As we were doing some editing we were also doing some last minute writing.  I am almost positive that there maybe a few little rewrites happen while I work on the layout.

I've sent off a copy to Michael at Dreamscape Design, to basically rules lawyer it.  I mean he's the guy who wrote the blueholme rules, so it's our best bet to get it right!

I would like to thank Scott Charlton for majorly stepping up to the plate and basically editing more than half of this! As well for coming to the table with a lot of rooms, ideas and the general concept.  If it wasn't for him, this would not have been done.  at all. 

Here's a screen shot of the cover.

Yesterday, I had a crap day.  Then I got home, and I had more crap to deal with.  It was just one of those days.  I finally walked to the front and opened up the mailbox and to my absolutely surprise, I found a package waiting for me!

This wonderful person, sent me a copy of Whitebox FMAG and Swords & Wizardry Continual Light!

Thank you very much wonderful person! That made my day.

I will be doing a review of SWCL in the next week or so.  I'm sure both of these books will find room at my table.  Thank you again!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Detailing my home campaign

It's been forever since the old school group got together.  They last left off trapped in a dungeon by a demon, attempting to rescue a witch.  Sound familiar?

After reading a few blogs detailing peoples home campaigns, I think I may spend some time and effort and work on detailing our old school world.  Mostly for the sake of writing, and archiving for future use.  As well for coming up with a few new ideas! 

When we started the game we played thru "Beneath Brymassen" a BFRPG adventure.  After that the players did my "Lizardmen of Illzathatch" and "Tomb of Gardag The Strange".  The story arc I wrote detailed an invading hobgoblin army from the north, with world ending consequences on their minds. 

I briefly wrote a post about Elerd's Keep here

The rest of the play reports can be found here.

While this is a nice map, I think I may create a hexcrawl version of it.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Last half. #Aprilttrpgmaker

13. Biggest influences?
Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone of the fighting fantasy game books. I love the world they created.

14. What are yer dreams and plans?
Egad,so much. I want to try and put out more than one adventure a year! I would like to release a adventure module for mutant future, a D100 tables book, a hexcrawl, and a compilation of all my stuff in pod.

15. Do you design in public or private?
I suppose both, sometimes I post here and it becomes something. More often than not I work on things while having lunch.

16. Any designer partners?
Lots! I bounce ideas off Johua Santo and frank Turfler all the time. All the cats involved in the blue baron series. My wife, my gaming groups.

17. Favourite form of feedback?
Constructive criticism.

18. Current inspiration?
There is so much. The heroes of Olympus series, old captain America, Oceania by the smashing pumpkins, he-man.

19. Game that is most essential to your design?
Probably Holmes and b/x dnd.

20. Favourite design tools?
Browning images on art websites, Inkarnate and, obviously publisher, word and font sites.

21. How many playtests?
Most of my stuff comes from home games so it at least gets one test. I wish I could do more somedays!

22. How do you document your ideas?
Google docs and drive! It's getting full.

23. People who have helped you?
See #16, plus all the wonderful people who have reviewed my stuff.

24. Most notable achievement?
I'm not sure if I have anything notable yet?

25. Being a ttrpg designer means?
Never falling asleep early, always having something rattling around your head.

26.  Blogs, Streams, Podcasts? 
Myself personally I do not have any podcasts.  Obviously this blog.  However here's a list of places and things that I watch and read.


Uncle Matts D&D Studio
God Emperor Leto II
Eric from Bloat Games
Samwise Seven RPG

Heros Brew
Roll for initiative 
Save or die
Hobbs & Friends

27.  Feature a TTRPG Designer?
Tim Shorts over at Gothridge Manor makes some awesome stuff!

28.  Favourite Interview? 
I've done a pile that I really enjoyed.
Old School Interviews 1
Old School Interviews 2 

29.  Your Community? 
The OSR Community on G plus 
The Blueholme Community on G Plus

30.  Top tips and advice?
Not sure if this is supposed to come from me or I am supposed to provide a link? My top tip is DO NOT OVER PREP! Because the players will always blow holes in whatever you write! Have a bunch of handy tables ready to go to help you out when you get stuck in a jam.  Including a good list of Names for NPCs, because that happens so friggin often!

Friday, April 27, 2018

It's your turn! - An Interview with Zak S.

1.  How did you get your start roleplaying? What system did you use? 

I got the Red Box and a copy of the original Unearthed Arcana when I was like 10 or something but I think my first actual game was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Road Hogs--you roll your character randomly so I was a prairie dog who was a "natural mechanical genius"--he could fix the van without even trying but if he was too far away from it, the whole thing would break down again.

2.  Tell me about Playing DND With Pornstars Blog, when did it start? 

Well I'd been reading Jeff's Gameblog, Grornardia and Monsters & Manuals for a while--I was interested in RPGs from an art/writing standpoint (Why were these things written for kids still in my head after all these years?) and then Satine Phoenix--we were friends, we met in a threeway with Sasha Grey--was like "hey I wanna play D&D" because she'd played as a teenager. Plus my gf was often too sick to go out so this was a good way to get friends to come to us--like a poker night. And then suddenly after a few weeks this was The Thing To Do and half our friends were playing. And all of them were porn people--except the stripper. 

3.  Tell me about “Frostbitten and mutilated”.  What was the writing process like?

James typically comes to me with a Really Lotfp Idea (like Red & Pleasant Land was "I want a girl with her legs spread in striped stockings and it says 'Eat Me' on the cover") and then I make it respectable and pretentious and awardwinning.
So his idea was this Conan cover of Conan surrounded by zombies and he said "Like this but with women instead of zombies and we call it 'Amazons of the Metal North'. And I go "Well for a modest advance..."
Like most things I write, the book was largely just permission to type out things that were already in my campaign. From the beginning the country around Vornheim was frozen doomforest--so I just wrote that up then added in the Amazons, who were based on basically the elf barbarian Kimberly was playing plus a barbarian tribe generator I'd made years earlier, then subtracted out a lot of the fantastical D&Disms like elves and dwarves because LotFP is a lot more like "Normal 1600s, then horror" than my home game.
Also I thought about format: I want each new book to share a new way of making the book format work for a GM. So I thought up the thing where each area on the map contains the entire area description. That 2 page spread is the formal crux of it: if people start copying the "paragraph crawl" format then that book is doing its job. (Well even if its not, I used the book on sunday so its still doing its job). 
The rest of the material was importing the Vornheim approach to cities to a wilderness crawl.
Artwise, I got the girls together, painted them like black metal warriors and they all posed and we took photos and I painted them--along with all the animals and monsters that kind of environment implies and we decided somewhere along the line that the aesthetic should be like a black metal album. So: we did that.
Also my mac crashed 10,000 words in and I had to rewrite all that. So that was part of the process too I guess.

4.  Other than elf games, what are your other favourite role playing games to play?

I really like horror and superheroes. Call of Cthulhu and a FASERIP hack I created. Oh and 40k.

5.  What was the first adventure you published? 

Vornheim I guess. Unless "published" includes blog entries, in which case I think I entered a halloween adventure contest with a thing called Wolves In The Throne Room.

6.  You are doing a patreon for “demon city”, how is that going? 

It's wonderful! People are so generous and into it. I just showed a ton of the Demon City art in my gallery in NYC and the show's selling really well. It's fun to do a game from the ground-up that's totally new but that uses an OSR sensibility. And playing at home is a blast.

With each module I was thinking "What's not in a city book/megadungeon/setting book that should be?" this time I get to go "What's not in a basic RPG that should be?"

There's the traditional indie game approach which is: solid simple rules plus a lot of advice on what to improvise. And there's the mainstream approach which is tons of rules threaded throughout the content. And then there's what I want to do: Solid simple rules plus a mountain of optional but gameable content to plug in. Why shouldn't a basic game include a Mad Libs First Adventure Kit instead of those shitty starter adventures they give you?

7.  What is your favourite OSR clone? 

I think picking is stupid, honestly. As Jeff Rients' said, once you start doing that you are playing into the idea that these are different games and honestly: all these games are just variations on a pretty good game and they're all within a stone's throw of each other. I like the OSR-ified 5e hack I wrote on my blog bc it fits my current game group, but only the way you might like a shirt because it's in your size. There's no real hierarchy, I just happen to have players who like race and class separate and probably appreciate having their specific skills spelled out. 

8.  What are you currently playing? 

Oh jeez: I'm currently visiting NYC for the aforementioned art show so I'm playing Frostbitten here with my New York friends. They fought the Fibbing Troll. When I get back home we're playing D&D of course (right now we're doing a scenario which has Hot Springs Island as an island near Eliator from Maze of the Blue Medusa) and playtesting Demon City.
Online I'm playing a Dark Heresy game tuesdays, Warhammer Fantasy some thursdays, Matt Finch's Old School 5e on Mondays (its youtubed), Nightwick Abbey D&D with Evan Elkins once in a while and Jeff Rients' D&D game when I get the chance. Jesus, that's a lot now I look at it...but when you sit at a desk painting all day thats a lot of time to roll.

9.  What is a Call of Cthulhu scenario you like running?

I write my own. I have a Weimar-era one where there's an Idea That Will Destroy The World and it expresses itself in different ways: a virus, in dadaist poetry, in a painting. All my Cthulhu scenarios are tied to my Thomas Pynchony and art-history enthusiasms I guess.

10.  Who is an artist that we should be checking out, that we don’t know about?  


11.  When you set out to create an art piece, do you have a RPG thing in mind? Or does it depend on the situation?

Usually I have an idea but the less of an idea I have the easier it is.

12. What is one of your favorite adventures other than something that you’ve released (or worked on)?

I really like the Secret Wars scenario for FASERIP they did: a big map, heroes plunked down in one part of it, a series of events that happen in order (if the heroes don't stop them) and a series of events that can happen randomly each day.
TSR was a mess, but a lot of their modules experimented with format in a way that display a lot more options than the Railroad vs Open Setting dichotomy people imagine. Frostbitten & Mutilated takes a little of this and expands on it.

13.  If you could campaign in any world which would it be? 

Uh...the one I spent most of the decade writing books about and playing and doing blog entries about?

14.  When you get a chance to play a character, what type of PC's do you like to play? 

I roll randomly. But all my guys are the same at the core: tactical and sneaky and they tell a lot of jokes. This can be a cleric a dwarf a paladin whatever. But I have more fun if I'm trying to Kobayashi Maru every situation.

15.  What is a seriously underrated monster?

Flail snail of course.

16.  You play a lot of Marvel FASERIP, do your players tend to create simulacrums of the superheroes we all know and love, or do they create something new and fresh? Further, tell me about a typical superheroes game you run.

I tend to get like one high concept ("Assasinate the Evil Justice League!") and then run a session or 3. Characters in superheroes games are rough: SOOOOOO much of the appeal and expression of a superhero is how they look and most ppl can't draw. Often the default is to go "Ok, today we're the X Men, pick one". I did a Man InThe High Castle type one where people made their own heroes based on the high concept they were superhuman antifascists. We had an alien Ubermensch who escaped Nazi control, a mad scientist gone good, a Question-type mystery man, and the Shocker from Spiderman who becomes a resistance-hero car thief.
If I could solve the visualization problem for superhero RPGs in a commercial product that'd be pretty great. It might require computer support, like City of Heroes does.

17.  Do you have any current favourite RPG and fiction authors? (ie what are you reading).

Right now reading Borges poems. I usually don't read RPG stuff unless Im using it or someone pays me. Also halfway through Gormenghast. I haven't cracked the latest Pynchon--Bleeding Edge.

18. What are you most excited about in the DIY RPG scene currently?

I'm honestly just really happy it exists and is thriving and people are making stuff like crazy and doing patreons and kickstarters and just putting stuff out. Stuff I've never heard of and never will that's self-sustaining: awesome! The snarky Let's Sledgehammer Anyone Being Creative In a Way We Don't Like thing from the early 20teens seems to have finally fallen apart--all the people who used to do that have either put out their own stuff to zero applause and crawled back under their bridges or have self-destructed or fans have just learned "Oh, whatever people are most loudly complaining about it the good thing". It's wonderful. I think the next big leap will be when some other publishers start to consistently publish stuff that combines stylishness and experiment like LotfP does. Hydra Collective is getting there and Mike Evans' DIY RPG looks like it's leaning that way.
Like the new literature of the midcentury needed Barney Rosset at Grove Press but it also needed City Lights and New Directions. There needs to be a robust bank of people willing to experiment on a decent budget.

19.  Would you rather be a red shirt or a wookie?

I'd rather have sex so whichever one gets to do that?

20.  Scotch, Mountain Dew or a nice tea?

I never had Mountain Dew or if I did I can't remember what it tastes like and tea is so boring I always forget I'm drinking it so Scotch.

21.  What are the plans for the rest of the year?

Finish the best horror RPG in history. Sew up the holes in my jeans.

22. Where can we find you on the web?
ihititwithmyaxe on twitter

Thanks Zak! That was a lot of fun - Shane

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Review of Jeffersontown Setting Guide for DARK PLACES & DEMOGORGONS

Note: I was given a awesome free copy of the setting.  Also note that I put Affiliate links within this document.  Thanks Eric! This is wonderful. 

Publisher Blurb: 
The Jeffersontown Setting Guide is 140 pages of everything you could ever want to know about Jeffersontown.  From Maps, to History, To Modern Day, To Heroes, Villains, NPCs Monsters...this all inclusive Setting Guide is a one stop shop for all things Jeffersontown!

More about DARK PLACES & DEMOGORGONS Following in the tradition of SURVIVE THIS!! Zombies! comes SURVIVE THIS!! Dark Places & Demogorgons, a tabletop roleplaying game that uses the Original 1970s Fantasy Roleplaying game rules but mutates it into this retro nightmare. It’s sleek, slender and creepy as Hell.

In Dark Places & Demogorgons, you play as high school students during the early 1980s. The town you live in has had a rash of disappearances and strange happenings. The adults seem lost as what to do, the police are as clueless as ever and aren’t helping and Reverend Phillips is on another witch-hunt. It’s up to you and your friends to figure out what’s going on and stop it from happening again! 

They say, "write what you know", and the guys at Bloat Games have done just that.

I'm sure the inspiration for this book comes directly from the town that the boys live in and that's frigging awesome!  Much like the Midderlands, it's a smart idea to write what you know and to write about the place that you live near.  I had actually started working on a similar idea for Gamma world and the province I live in.  (yes at some point I'll get that shit done), alright onto the review! I'll stop rambling!

This setting guide is a perfect companion to DP&D.  It's filled with a ton of adventure hooks, Monsters, NPCs, Magic items and most importantly a extremely detailed map and setting locations.  Obviously you don't NEED this to run DP&D as there's a ton of great ideas in the core book.  However if you start running out of ideas, or want to expand your campaign a bit, I'd strongly suggest grabbing a copy of this. 

First off I gotta say I absolutely loved the Colloquial dictionary! Seriously giggled the whole time.  It's basically a Jeffersontown to English table.  Having run into a few American accents while down
south, I totally get it.  Just like when we get some Americans up here, and they look at us strangely when we say "EH!" or some other typical Canadian home spun verbiage.  My only complaint is I'd love to have seen a few more pages of this, because it's a perfect thing to get you in the zone and in character.  Onwards!

I should note that timeline set out is fairly straight forward history of Jeffersotown, however once you get into the 1950s things start taking a turn towards fiction, in there are adventure hooks.  Read em.  The actual town is split up into five sections, each are quite detailed with places to visit and notable buildings, businesses'.  Each with plot hooks, and memorable NPCs.  There is so much in this book to keep you going.  The places of note section really drills down to two specific  locations, a "magic" shop (which is friggin totally Needful things! and that is exactly how I would play it).  Well not a magic shop so much as an antique store (nudge nudge wink wink).  This is where Iwould start a campaign.  Or this would be where the rumours point you.  Because the characters in the game are in High School, the actual high school is quite detailed, including a table of what classes you are taking that semester.  I think my only caveat when running this gamewould be to make sure that all the characters atleast had one classs together.  As an example each PC is supposed to have 6 classes per semester, which they can randomly roll.  I think I would have them do that, and then give them one extra class that was only a half hour a day that they were all in.
The rest of the book is detailed with Adventure seeds and monsters.  All of which are super creative! Some are throw backs or "plays" on horror movies.  The nice thing is they are all rooted in the setting.

A perfect example is "the new girl".  Here's the twist:  "Amara Giapanta appears to be a 14-year-old Greek girl (5'1”, 92 lbs.), but in reality, she is 2300-year-old vampire from Ancient Greece. "The premise starts off that your in class and the new girl shows up. She's beautiful, she likes metal.  Haven't we all been there???? Being a nerdy teenager you follow her home and spy on her and that's where things start getting into "dark places and demogorgons"..... 

That's the only one I'm going to spoil, the book has 14 of these, all of which are a good 2 - 4 pages of detail.  As usual Eric has knocked it out of the park with the layout and the art in the book.  I really dig how the "look" of the DP&D line has stayed similar across the board (this is something I've been wanting to do, but never get around to it).  Kudos! If you LOVE playing DP&D I'd suggest getting this book.  If you haven't tried DP&D or are curious about it you can check out my reviewhere:

Here are a view more videos detailing DP&D products.

Ivan Mike 

God Emperor Leto II

Obviously you do not NEED this book to run a successful DP&D campaign (just like any other setting book) however I think it really compliments the original rules, and has a lot of added value.

Further Reading: 
My review of DP&D 
An Interview with Eric Bloat 
Alternative class for DP&D "The stoner" 
A review of character classes in DP&D