#RPG #TTRPG #WeirdHookMonth – Parasites

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The Hook

Gulped down by a bakunawa, your ship ends up in its stomach only to find a community already waiting to cannibalise your ship and take your supplies. Nobody who has tried to escape has ever managed and you have other, natural, parasites to compete with. Ones that see you as prey.

Suggested Systems

BRP, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Victoriana.

 

#AprilTTRPGmaker Feature a TTRPG designer

tumblr_m7q21tXbvq1qzb1rlo1_500I admire, and am envious of, the success of James Raggi. His Lamentations of the Flame Princess is ‘just’ a D&D retro-clone, but he has made it phenomenally successful, purely on the basis of presentation, creativity, thematics, mood, marketing and investing in the art.

The fixation on a single game is also something I find amazing. I always flit from one idea and one game to another. To devote so much time and effort to a single game, and support for it, is an ‘outside context problem’.

Raggi also has the same ‘fuck you’ attitude to people who have issues with what he does, seemingly giving even less of a shit than I do that anyone’s offended or upset. He’s also unafraid to work with people who feel the same. The criticism at least seems to affect him less as well.

All of this, at least to me, is admirable. Even if I’ve never been a particular D&D fan.

#RPG Foul Humours for the OSR RELEASED! – Schlocktoberfest

BUY IT HERE

The OSR has become something of a home for the grotesque, the strange, the disgusting and the horrible. Whether that be the deadly oddities and horrors of Lamentations of the Flame Princess or the pecularities of Carcosa – not the mention the many other fringe products – there seems to be a home for the vile, unsettling and surreal.

Some of the things that cause the most visceral disgust and reaction in people are bodily fluids – spit, blood, urine and more. Slimes and oozes have always been a big part of fantasy gaming and combining these with the wilder, darker sides of magic and the compulsion to shock and disgust players who come under attack by these things can combine to create some potentially powerful monsters and dark spells.

Enjoy these ‘Foul Humours’, created from human excresence.

Rough as Toast
‘Rough as Toast’ is my imprint for ‘cheap and nasty’ products. Things that are a bit more experimental, silly or ‘hit and miss’ where a lot of money can’t be spent or risked on a bit of an ‘out there’ idea. If you see that marker, you know you’re getting something a little ‘whacky’ or uncertain, but you will probably get some fun out of it.

Schlocktoberfest
The Pulps were churned out at a massive rate of knots. Strange and silly ideas thrown at the wall to see what stuck. Occasionally some of those ideas turned out to have legs – legs that are still carrying them nearly a hundred years later. My intent with Schlocktoberfest (prevously just a sale some years back) is to just throw a bunch of monsters, ideas and other bits and pieces at the ‘wall’ and see what sticks. Maybe something will.

#RPG – Machinations of the Space Princess Companion – Skills

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Image from Battle Angel Alita

The Machinations of the Space Princess skill system is deceptively simple and much of it compensates for the -5 penalty rule, encouraging character builds with signature moves and capabilities beyond ‘I hit it with my axe’. Other Skills provide pools, bonuses or extra capabilities unavailable elsewhere.

The existing Skills are fairly comprehensive, but there is room for some additions and new ideas, as well as a new category of skill, a specialised skill that can represent the particular capabilities of specialist training or cultural capabilities.

Example Psi Skill

Bio Control

You have honed your body to sustain itself on psionic energy more than anything else. For each level in this skill you use 20% less food, air and water each day. At level 5 you no longer need to eat, drink or breathe if you do not wish to. At level 6 you not only need no sustenance, but can sustain another person without food, air or water for a day with a touch and the expenditure of a psi point. You can also pass for dead by slowing your metabolism, a Skill Roll will make you appear deceased to examination, or even a scanner.

Example Combat Skill

Body Weapon

You have honed your body as a weapon, increasing your capacity for unarmed violence to extreme levels. This is usually the result of some very harsh training and effort by doing things like punching bags of hot sand and so on. Each level in the skill increases your unarmed damage amount.

1. 1D3
2. 1D4
3. 1D5
4. 1D6
5. 1D8
6. 1D8 & +1 Close Attack when unarmed.

Example Scholastic Skill

Better Living Through Chemistry

You have good knowledge of chemical cocktails, drugs, psychedelics and other chemicals and their effects on your own body and that of others. By careful, constant tailoring you’re able to put together (relatively) harmless cocktails of chemicals that can enhance people’s abilities. Maintaining the precise balance takes a lot of work and devotion, so you can only apply these bonuses up to your Skill Level and this must be decided at the start of each game session – continuing until there’s a reasonable in-game amount of time passed for you to tweak (pun intended) the dosages.

Skill Points can be spent in the following ways…

  • 1/+1 Initiative.
  • 1/+1 Social Reaction (pheromones and chill)
  • 1/+1 to a Saving Throw
  • 1/+4 Hit Points.
  • 2/+1 to a Statistic
  • 3/+1 to an Attack or Defence score.

Example General Skill

Schmoozer

You’re good with people. You know what to say, how to carry yourself and how to make a good impression and look your best. You add your level in Schmoozer to your Social Reaction score.

New – Specialist Skills

Specialist Skills are skills that originate within very particular cultures, training regimens and secret orders. As such there’s usually a price to training in these skills and they’re not normally available at character creation. If you’re designing your own campaign you need to decide how powerful you want these to be, where they originate and what the cost of entry to learning these skills is.

Compensating for this is the fact that specialist skills are generally twice as powerful as regular skills, making them much sought after. The first level in such a skill is gained when it is trained – in game – and doesn’t cost a Skill Point, after that it must be increased with Skill Points as normal.

Example Specialist Skill – Ki-Tian

Ki-Tian is a form of ‘gun fu’, the application of zen-like principles to firearms combat as an integrated martial art. Ki-Tian claims to have been developed during the mythical time of the human diaspora when the human species was butting up against galactic society and the need for defence with cheap and handy weapons was particularly pressing. The kata involved somehow tap into the background psi-field. At levels 1-5 Ki-Tian provides +1 per level to Ranged Attack and Ranged Defence so long as the practitioner is using a pistol. At level 6 the Ki-Tian kata channel latent psychic energy to power the pistols, meaning they no longer require ammunition.

 

#RPG – FLiCKPIG Released!

Buy it HERE

FLiCKPIG is an old school dungeon crawl, with pigs. There’s a randomly generated dungeon, some pregenerated characters and it should be played using OSR rules (preferable Lamentations of the Flame Princess).

It can be played as a boardgame if you’re lazy, as a full on RPG scenario of sorts if you’re feeling a bit more creative.

It’s rough as toast.

While I have your attention, please back the DarkZel Scholarship fund!

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#RPG – Soon… Pigs.

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With a nod to lost-lamented magazine, CLiNT and a middle finger to evangelical vegans.

Review: A Red & Pleasant Land by Zak S.

Reviewing Zak’s work – when he strays into RPG territory – is difficult. Zak has an outsider’s perspective and so he does things in unconventional ways. He’s also primarily an artist, which brings a different perspective to game design.

Vornheim was tricky to review, but less so than Red & Pleasant Land.

Ostensibly its a setting book, a world for your Old School gaming. That’s not really a helpful thing to call it though, as it doesn’t convey what the book is. It’s a hodge-podge of nonsense and weirdness, tables, rules, asides, sketches, art, peculiar maps and so forth loosely connected by a theme that is a mash up of Alice in Wonderland, Balkan mythology and D&D.

This isn’t really D&D though. It’s ‘Old School’, which harks back to a simplistic, nostalgic, half-
remembered version of the basic game that a lot of people started with back in the 80s. It’s like you and a bunch of friends got together with no plan, sank a few too many shots and someone suggested ‘Hey, let’s play D&D!’ and then through the drunken haze you cobble together something vaguely like it from memory and have a blast.

1Until you realise someone spiked the shots with acid.

This isn’t really a setting book either, it’s more like a grab-bag, a lucky dip. It’s kind-of organised, it has a contents with page references organised – vaguely – along various lines. It’s full of tables of weirdness, motivations, searching bodies and pecularities which are great for inspiration but if you’re not that sort of ‘wing it’ Games Master they’re going to leave you floundering. The only product I’ve seen with even greater love of randomness is McKinney’s Carcosa.

There’s always tensions in the design of an RPG book and each one generally operates to the detriment of the other.

Do you want to write it to convey rules information effectively? Setting information? Do you want the reading experience to reflect that setting? Do you want to make it easy to spot things and look them up? Are practical and financial considerations the primary factor? How important is the art?

RaPL definitely conveys the setting. Reading through it is a borderline-hallucinatory experience due to its randomness and grab-bag design. This doesn’t necessarily make it easy to use during play.

The physical book has a built-in page marker, but as anyone who plays RPGs knows, a single ribbon is never going to be enough to place-mark everything you need to mark and they don’t – as far as I know – make the cat-o’-nine-tails, rainbow page ribbons an RPG book would need at a bare minimum to be useful.

2So usability suffers a bit, the D&D styling is minimal and will only be vaguely familiar to newer gamers, but is sort of the ‘machine-code’ base level operating system for all RPGs so with a little work they should be able to get it to purr along smoothly – it’s just that extra work that may not appeal to gamers pressed for prep-time (I’d probably convert to old-school Storyteller, D6 or FATE if I ran it).

RaPL shines – particularly – in its monsters. Some of which are familiar from Alice’s adventures or vampiric mythology, some of which will be unfamiliar and new but which owe some inspiration to Burton, Gaiman, Mieville and other puveyors of weirdness, it’s just a lot more bloody and direct.

So how can I sum up?

Pros:
Conveys the setting via its design and presentation.
Cool monsters.
Inspirational tables.
Physically lovely object.
Novelty! Difference! Experiment! – Far more so than many Indie-darlings.

3Cons:
Feels like reading a Burroughsian cut-up.
Bewilderingly trippy.
Disorganised.
GM-work heavy.
Novelty! Difference! Experiment! – Not all of it works and the traditionally minded will be lost.

Final Score
Style:
4 (It’s a divisive style, it appeals to me greatly but I understand that it will be offputting to others).
Substance: 4 (There’s a lot in here, much of it is useful, but the organisation can make it hard to access).

I have illustrated this review with images from Jeff Noon’s Automated Alice, which added to the mix as inspiration would bring in some clock/steam/weirdpunk vibes.

#RPG Ars Goetia – Faust’s Footsteps – OSR Ritual Magick

This is a Chronicle City release.

Get the PDF HERE.

The Ars Goetia is the summoning and binding of spirits, demons, to the service of the ritual magician, granting them powers and gifts beyond the ken of mortal men. Derived from the Lesser Key of Solomon the Ars Goetia describes the arts to summon and bind the seventy-two demons bound by that ancient sorcerer.

Beware though, for the slightest mistake in the process and you may be cursed, harmed, bound to the demon’s service yourself or dragged – screaming – down to hell.

This kind of magick and its practitioner, the Ritual Magician, may be more thematically suited than conventional ‘D&D’ style magic for a pseudo-medieval or renaissance era game.

The book includes…

  • The Ritual Magician – A new character class.
  • A brief lesson on ‘Olde English’ typography.
  • Familiars.
  • The summoning and binding process.
  • A d666 table for the consequences of crossing a demon.
  • The 72 demons of the Lesser Key of Solomon divided by rank, with the powers they can confer.
  • Sigils and insane illustrations from the Goetia and Dictionairre Infernale.
  • Compatible with OSR games, most especially Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Machinations of the Space Princess, RELEASED!

Machinations of the Space Princess is a Science-Fantasy role-playing game. That means it’s very much about style over substance, mixing science-fiction, magic and
psionics in a game world that owes much more to Metal Hurlant and Star Wars than it does to 2001 or Bova’s Grand Tour. This is a game of strangeness and fun, of space
pirates and beautiful alien princesses, of living planets and robot hordes, of blasters at noon.

This is…

Sexy, sleazy, swords and sci-fi!

A full game combining old and new school thinking, packed with GM and player advice and with simple tools for creating your own monsters, adversaries, weapons, armour, ships and alien races.

NOT REALLY FOR ADULTS PER SE, BUT CONTAINS RUDE WORDS LIKE ‘BUM’, ‘POO’ AND ‘WILLY’.

This is the PDF only, the hardcopy will not be available until after the IndieGoGo sponsors have been sent their copies.

GET IT HERE

OSR Weird Monster: The Encyclopede

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Pic from HERE

The ancient Magus Wars – though they go by many other names – have left many scars on the landscape. From enchanted ruins to luminous swamps, from gibbering aberrations to floating islands. During the wars the squabbling wizards created many servants, from the Brass Soldiers of Ludum Quat to the Invisible Hornets of Chung the Impeccable. Not every servant was built for war though and servants were made as cooks, handymen, workers, even curators.

The Encyclopedes were born in the laboratories of Dakram Findspell, more librarian and alchemist than true wizard. Obsessed by the gathering and collation – rather than the use – of knowledge he created the Encyclopedes to maintain and order his vast library.

After his death the Encyclopedes took on a life of their own and continue to gather information – especially spells – wherever they can. They create caches of knowledge and magic and devote their entire existence to it, to the point where they will happily suck the knowledge from a man’s skull to add to their own.

Encyclopedes knows almost everything and deep in their holdings they maintain a magical book of stupendous size. Each colony has one and – magically – it shares knowledge with all the other books and Encylcopedes throughout the world and the other planes of existence.

Encyclopedes gain an almost sexual degree of pleasure from correcting someone of their false information. They are insufferably smug, gigantic – the size of three people – and painfully arrogant.

It is said you can read their tome, after a fashion, their language is not discernible to any other being, but in the act of trying to read it you can gain the truthful answer to any single, answerable question. Reason enough for people to seek to Encyclopede’s out for trade – or theft.

Armour Class: 16
Hit Dice: 6d8 (Hp 27)
Movement: 180′, Encyclopedes can move at this speed on walls and ceilings as well as floors.
Attacks: 1 (+6 attack, 1d4 damage + Poison)
Damage: 1d4 + Poison that causes 1 permanent points of Intelligence loss.
Morale: 7
Special Abilities:
Can climb walls and ceilings automatically with no loss of speed.
Bite requires a Save Vs Poison or the victim loses 1 point of Intelligence permanently.
Encyclopedes can cast Bookspeak, Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic, Identify, Mending and Read Magic at will, as though a 6th level Magic User.
Encyclopedes can use scrolls.