#RPG – #My30dayWorld – Who is the most Renowned Hero in Your World?

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I’m not really very fond of having powerful, self-insert characters in heroic worlds or games. They tend to ‘Mary-Sue’ it up and to ride roughshod over the actions and impact of the players. Carrying things over from your home campaigns can descend into ‘in jokes’ rather easily, or become obscure and opaque to anyone who doesn’t personally know you…

See the rest at Patreon or Makersupport.

#RPG – A Lengthy, Good, Review of the Gor RPG

210283This rather lovely review of Tales of Gor dropped on RPGNOW, written by Emma R. You can buy the books at RPGNOW (in PDF, you may have to log in and change settings to make adult content visible) or at Lulu.com in hardcopy.

***

It’s fair to say that Gor has something of a polarising opinion on people.

And that’s putting it mildly.

While ostensibly derived from the same pulp ‘swords and planet’ genre that spawned adventure romps by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E Howard, Leigh Brackett and Michael Moorcock amongst many others, Gor from an early age ensured its commercial popularity and courted controversy at the same time by making slavery an integral part of the setting, to the point where nowadays that is pretty much all it is (in)famous for.

That said, it was once a common series of books in the 1970s and early 1980s in the Science Fiction sections of bookshops, occupying vast tracts of shelf space, and the basic core idea (setting aside the more controversial elements) of a primitive Counter Earth orbiting the Sun on the opposite side to the Earth, and the secret war between two alien races vying to control both Gor and (as a secondary prize) Earth is a good one and cries out for a role-playing game to match. And now at last it has one.

The core set comes as two volumes – game stats and character design (plus an introduction to the culture setting) in the first, and an encyclopaedic compendium of A to Z reference material in the second. This makes commercial sense as there are thousands of potential Gor fans who might wish to pick up the reference material, even though they don’t play RPGs, and wouldn’t need to know how many hit points a Sleen has.

43 on average, just in case you’re wondering. 🙂

The first thing to remark upon as I crack open (in a virtual pdf kind of way) the electronic spine of the Tales of Gor game manual is how uncontroversial it actually is once you skim its pages. Yes, there are some pictures of naked breasts, but the author has not produced a game book that beats you about the head with lectures about slavery and the natural order of the genders. What you have is what you would actually want – a sleek, easy to grasp set of rules to establish characters and campaign adventures set on the ‘sword and sandal’ world of Gor.

It takes the adventure setting of Gor first and foremost, and while it doesn’t shy away from the prevalent nature of slavery on that world, I wouldn’t say the slavery aspect in the game books is any more prevalent than in the old Mongoose Conan RPG or in the Rome TV series. Because the author recognises that any tabletop Gor RPG is going to be about sword play and adventures first, with the erotic overtones of that world mostly on show in the background to add spice and kink to the decadent nature of Gorean society.

And here it comes down to your personal preferences. If you don’t like the idea of old school pulp stories having a sexual undertone, then of course this game is never going to be your thing, in much the same way I don’t really take much to Cyber Punk or Japanese Manga. But reading the book you’d probably be surprised how readily accessible it is as a complete body of work to anyone who is interested in pulp Science Fantasy games.

What James does very successfully here is he takes all the interesting and imaginative elements of the Gorean world – elements that are often lost or submerged beneath tedious copy and paste diatribes on the nature of the sexes in the later books (and one thing that can’t be denied, Gor is probably one of the most detailed and fleshed out worlds in pulp fiction) – and he plays to its strengths, playing down the exasperating aspects that even the most enthusiastic John Norman fan could probably live without.

So yes, it’s first and foremost an RPG of ‘High Adventure’ that benefits from a decadent setting that either appeals or doesn’t appeal. If you have set your mind to hating anything to do with Gor, well, this game probably isn’t going to win you over, but if you’ve simply heard it’s controversial, you may be surprised to see how the subject matter has been handled here.

The game mechanics are lifted squarely from the open source D6 system that powered the original Star Wars RPG – a system that incorporates ‘wild dice’ to produce extreme effects at either end of the spectrum. It’s simple enough to be picked up by people who are new to RPGs, but elegant enough that it can provide the sort of feel you want from a game that evokes heroism and larger than life adventures.

Gor’s strict caste system lends itself well to character templates, and although the most appealing one for me is obviously ‘head strong, condescending, reassuringly superficial, and somewhat overconfident agent of the sinister Kurii,’ you can if you wish role-play a builder instead.

Though honestly? A builder? Why would you? 🙂

The black and white art by Michael Manning is all bespoke and with only one or two exceptions, evokes the complex world of Gor very well indeed. I’d best describe it as a comic book take on Aubrey Beardsley with its solid chiaroscuro style. The exception for me at least are the faces of the Kurii that look a bit too cartoon like and not nearly ferocious enough. In some of the illustrations you feel like you want to give them a great big hug and stroke their lovely soft fur, and indeed, there appear to be one or two pictures where slave girls are indeed doing just that (Disclaimer: in real life, never actually attempt to stroke or hug a Kur). On the other hand, the pictures on pages 25 and 56 are just sublime and worth the price of admission alone.

Grim Note: The Kur are – much like many of Lovecraft’s creations, more horrifying on the page than when brought to life in art, but we did our best 🙂

Despite the single minded tone of the official books, the game is quick to assure us that it is designed to accommodate any manner of interpretations of Gor. It’s quite conceivable that a group of player characters could be anti-slavery, for example, odd as that might seem to John Norman himself. And it wouldn’t be that difficult to run a Gor game in the style of Robert E Howard’s Hyborian age, with the added flavour of the secret cold war between the enigmatic Priest Kings and the savage Kurii lurking in the background.

Moving on to the second volume (which was a bit of a beast to download to be honest) we have a hefty compendium of easily digestible background entries in an A to Z format, made more fun by randomly placed interjections by the author writing as an Earth man brought to Gor to live for a few years as a roving scribe. Breaking up what is essentially 202 pages of encyclopaedia entries, with a series of (often) humorous insights and anecdotal observations into everything from Samos of Port Kar to Pleasure Slaves, makes for fun reading, and my only criticism here is there isn’t more of it. It’s a stylistic flourish that I would love to see carried over into supplementary books, especially ones that flesh out specific regions of Gor.

Grim Note: I didn’t want to overstep my bounds as an author, rather than a game designer, in this creative writing element. I kept it shorter than I might otherwise have done if I were more self indulgent, but I will consider adding more to the supplementary material.

As I well know (because I role-play there), the Internet has long had a sizeable presence of ‘role-players’ gaming Gor in various forms in chat room based sites (not to mention the vast population of such people in Second Life) and it would be very cool indeed if this game with its simple enough rule system that lends itself very well to the dice rolling programmes in Gor based chat rooms, became a standard rule set for people to take their role-play further than it currently stands. It has that potential over and above the more usual tabletop format of role-playing games and it would be a vast improvement on the current anarchic system whereby two players simply argue about who stabbed who successfully with a sword.

Taking into account its small press origins, this is an impressive and inexpensive role-playing game that succeeds in bringing the full flavour of its source material to the tabletop. To my mind it presents a far more elegant and cohesive game setting than, say, the bloated and sprawling world of Pathfinder, and it has the potential to be expanded into all manner of meaty supplements.

High on my wish list would be adventure/sourcebooks for the various regions of Gor – in particular the Tahari, the Northern reaches of Torvaldsland, the Panther Girl forests and the Jungle interior. Taking one of those regions, populating it with fleshed out locations and a format of say, 101 adventure seeds, or perhaps a sprawling campaign on the scale of ‘Shadows of Yog Sothoth’, would make for a very cool package indeed.

gor_slavegirl_alphaAnd I can but dream of a source pack specifically tailored to haughty, over confident agents of the Kurii…

So, all credit to James Desborough who seems to have pulled off the near impossible, when you consider how toxic the concept of Gor can be in certain quarters.

Five stars, which frankly is four stars more than I’d give to the tawdry and demeaning plays of Boots Tarsk Bit. Needless to say, I of course only watch those plays periodically to remind myself how offensive they are… 😉

#RPG – Urban Faerie – ‘Gives You Wings’ RELEASED

BUY IT HERE

A drug-busting adventure for Urban Faerie as your criminally irresponsible fae are given a pardon from prison in order to break up the sale of a new enchanted drug which, GASP, allows non-winged fairies to fly.

AN ADVENTURE FOR URBAN FAERIE, WHICH IS REQUIRED TO PLAY

A perfect low-stress, low prep game and adventure for when you’re hopped up on tryptophan and mulled wine. Easily played when drunk or otherwise semi-incapacitated.

Treat yourself this year!

(also contains some errata and optional rules)

#RPG – Postmortem Studios September Update

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Here’s a quick monthly update on the current state of affairs here at Postmortem Studios.

Personal

I could really use your help this month, even if its just reviews, reblogs or mentions on social media.

It has been a really, really shitty month. Gencon always sucks money away from small and foreign companies that don’t get to go abroad. I’ve had some issues with promotional tools and – on top of that (and the malicious censorship of Hentacle at the end of July) I have been having internet issues for the past three weeks, making it virtually impossible for me to work reliably or to offer most of my normal freelancing services. I now have internet – but slower than it should be (especially uploads). The problem still isn’t fixed and I’ve lost a great deal of money due to the problems.

Now, then, would be a good time – if any – for some of you guys to subscribe to me on Patreon. It would be greatly appreciated, would help fill the hole caused by these issues (we freelancers are rather vulnerable to them) and would help me continue to produce totally rad content in the future. I have thousands of Twitter followers, hundreds of blog followers, hundreds of Youtube followers. If just one-in-ten of you subbed for $1 a month I could do so much more. You could also make a one-time donation via Paypal to grim@postmort.demon.co.uk

It would also be a great time, if anyone has any work available, for me to freelance. My available services are listed a little later.

If you want to show me support, there’s Patreon but there’re other ways too. Follow me on social media, subscribe to my Youtube channel, retweet my stuff, leave reviews if you’ve bought anything of mine. It all helps and this kind of publicity (especially social media and good reviews) is the lifeblood of any creative person.

If you have a podcast or Youtube channel of your own and would like me to appear on a hangout or similar I’d be happy to and am also available for guest blogging or contributions, or to run RPGs online.

Work Update

 

This month has been shite. I have gotten very little done other than getting Daikaiju Die! out, which has done reasonably well for a small, FATE release. You should buy it, it’s a lot of fun.

I have restructured my schedule as best I can to cope with the internet issues and while this likely means I won’t be able to do any more audiobooks or new releases this month (unless they’re small) it does mean that when things are fixed things should pick up fast.

Gor-wise I’ve said I won’t make any more promises until I’m sure. Other than remaining layout my part in the project is done. We are still waiting on art, but the delay is nobody’s fault. I honestly think the project is cursed.

Once Gor is done I intend to crowdfund my next project, a dark and deadly city-adventure sourcebook for 5e with lots of undead, grotesque monsters and dark and nasty material. Old School nastiness and deadliness with 5e compatibility. A city of the dead. The crowdfunding will be split between paying me to have the time free to devote fully to it, and to the artists. The more money raised, the more art – is basically how this will go.

Services

Currently, my plate is clear and free for freelancing and consultancy after last month. Despite my internet issues I should be able to complete any work, it just may take a little longer than normal.

I am a 15+ year veteran of the tabletop game publishing world with experience in freelancing and self-publishing. I’ve worked for Wizards of the Coast, Steve Jackson Games, Nightfall, Cubicle Seven Entertainment and more. I have also written fiction and worked on social media computer games, packing a lot of meaning into short pieces of text. As a self-publisher, I have overseen every step of the publication process from concept through to publications including writing, editing, layout and modification. I also produce Youtube material and have begun producing audiobooks.

Here’s some of the services I can offer, and the minimum prices offered – though anything is negotiable up or down depending on the client. I will work pseudonymously if that is a concern for you, however stupid that situation is.

  • New writing (raw text): $0.03c/word (minimum)
  • Proofreading/Light Editing/Commentary: $0.01c/word (second and third deeper passes are possible).
  • ePublishing/RPG Publishing consultation Skype/Hangout/Call: $20/hour.
  • Consultation on your game project: $20/hour.
  • Layout (InDesign): $11 an hour.
  • Stock Art Shopfront: Postmortem studios have a huge stock art catalogue from multiple artists and we’d love to add you to that storefront. If you’re an artist who wants to sell your stock art but doesn’t want to deal with the accounts and uploads etc with your own storefront (which would be my first recommendation) then I can do that for you for 50% (I round up your payouts though).
  • Voice Work: If you find my dulcet tones to your liking, I’m available for voice over work and narration.

Recent Products

Clipart Critters MEGABUNDLE:  A once in a lifetime offer (at least until September the first) this is ALL of Brad McDevitt’s stock art – up to number 400 – at a HUGE discount. This is basically a company start-up resource which will provide you with plenty of fantasy, horror, science fiction and modern images to kickstart your company into progress with low initial overheads for art. It’s also a fantastic resource for existing companies. THIS WILL NOT REMAIN ON SALE MUCH LONGER! BUY IT WHILE YOU CAN! IT’S A FANTASTIC BARGAIN!

Diversity Dungeons: Despite claims to the contrary from all sides involved this is intended as a fairly serious examination of diversity issues in gaming from a world-building/game design and publishing perspective. It outlines the obstacles and methods to overcome including (or not including) diversity in your games and some material – from bitter experience – on the current febrile atmosphere around games publishing.

The Cathedral of Misogyny: An affectionate piss-take of 4chan, internet culture wars and hyperbole via the medium of a comedic 5th Edition D&D adventure, based upon a scenario I wrote as an introduction for a new player coming in from computer games. Part of the scenario was played online and there’s a Youtube video of it here.

Daikaiju Die!: Daikaiju Die! is a game about beating up monsters in giant mecha (called Ridders). The players take the part of mecha pilots and their support crew. They will fight giant monsters and walk in their shadow. They will establish rivalries and defeat villains.
They will uncover conspiracies and lead the fight back against what seems to be a world itself in rebellion against humanity. Mostly, though, they’ll smash giant monsters to pieces in epic, destructive fights.

Fifth Fantasy – The Brock: A whole new race for you to use in your 5e games. The Brock are a reclusive, grumpy people with a pragmatic and dogged mindset. Fierce warriors, they protect the forests and occasionally venture out into civilisation – usually to be disapproving. This is a whole new race and culture for you to add into your games and comes with a set of Brock-centred magic items to use as well.

Our entire catalogue (other than the newer items) – easier to browse than the online sites can be downloaded for free HERE. http://www.rpgnow.com/product/176399/Postmortem-Studios-Publisher-Catalogue-2016&affiliate_id=50144

Social Media & Contact

I’m always open to contact, discussion, ideas and more. If you have questions, queries, suggestions or feedback – good or bad – please do get in touch.

  • You can comment here on the blog (Postmortemstudios on WordPress)
  • You can find me on Twitter @grimachu
  • You can find me on Facebook (James Desborough)
  • You can find me on Youtube (PostmortemVideo)
  • If you want to ask questions (or troll me) anonymously I have an Ask.fm (Grimachu)
  • If you want to support my writing, games design and other work I have a Patreon (Grimachu)
  • I’m also on G+ (JamesGrimDesborough).
  • I’m on Minds.com as Grimachu

Second Hand Books & Old Stock

I have a number of old books and stock available for sale. £5 for small format books, £10 for large format books + shipping (UK only).

100 Conspiracies
Adventurer’s Vault 4e
Agents of SWING: Agent Casefile
Ant Assault (Cardgame)
Black Rock Bandits (4e adventure & Map)
Bloodlust RPG (French)
Bloodsucker: The Juice
CTG: Isle of the Mighty
Cthentacle (Hardcopy)
d20 Mecha
Dark Conspiracy: Darktek
Dark Conspiracy: New Orleans
Darktown RPG
Desecration (Pathfinder adventure & map)
DK System (French)
DM’s Guide 2 (4e)
DM’s Guide to Immortals (Basic D&D)
Dog Town RPG
Exalted: Return to the Tomb of Five Corners
Hentacle
Inferno (Boardgame)
Legend of the Five Rings LRP Rules
Mantel D’Acier (French)
MET: Antagonists
MET: Book of the Damned
MET: Dark Epics
MET: Journal No 4
MET: Laws of the East
MET: Laws of the Night Camarilla Guide
MET: Laws of the Nightmares
MET: Laws of the Wild Changing Breeds 1
MET: Laws of the Wild Second Edition
MET: Liber des Ghoules
MET: The Masquerade Second Edition
MET: The Shining Host
Monster Manual 2 4e
MTA: Akashic Brotherhood
MTA: Blood Treachery
MTA: Book of Shadows
MTA: Cult of Ecstacy
MTA: Dreamspeakers
MTA: Initiates of the Art
MTA: Masters of the Art
MTA: NWO
MTA: Progenitors
MTA: Sons of Ether
MTA: The Loom of Fate
MTA: Verbena
MTA: Void Engineers
Ninjas & Superspies RPG
Old, Fat Punks (Novel)
Palladium The Mechanoids (Rifts Sourcebook 2)
Player’s Handbook 2 4e
Red Box Basic D&D
The Sting (Pathfinder adventure & map)
Traveller New Era: Fire Fusion & Steel
V:TM 2nd Edition
Victoriana 1st Edition
VTM: A World of Darkness
VTM: Berlin by Night
VTM: Blood Bond
VTM: Blood Magic, Secrets of Thaumaturgy
VTM: Chicago by Night
VTM: Children of the Nightmares
VTM: Elysium
VTM: Ghouls, Fatal Addiction
VTM: Guide to the Sabbat
VTM: Midnight Siege
VTM: Milwaukee by Nightmares
VTM: New Orleans
VTM: New York by Night
VTM: Storyteller’s Handbook
VTM: Storyteller’s Screen 2nd Edition
VTM: The Anarch Cookbook
VTM: The Hunters Hunted
VTM: The Succubus Club
VTM: Thrashing Dragons
VTM: Time of Thin Blood
VTM: Ventrue
WOD: Combat
WOD: Outcasts
WTA: Axis Mundi – The Book of Spirits
WTA: Corax

Comics

I have a near complete run of 2000AD from 315-1386 and Judge Dredd Megazine from 4(1992) to 72(2000) for sale. Entertaining offers on runs or singles, but preferably for the whole lot from someone who can come get them (all packed up ready for transport).

#RPG Fistful of Horror 3 RELEASED!

FFH3CoverBuy it HERE

If you – like most Games Masters – run out of ideas for adventures – then the Fistful series provides plenty of fodder for you, sparking your imagination and giving you a situation and several possible interpretations to run with. This can be all the spark you need to wing the rest of the session and end up with a good adventure for everyone.

You can find hundreds more adventure seeds HERE

#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 PROJECT IS SAVIOUR – RELEASED!

PROJECT_Front Cover

Get it HERE

PROJECT is a role-playing game about heroic guardians of reality.

After a terrible, supernatural disaster the world has been rent asunder and strange things have begun to bleed in all around the edges.

Humanity has recovered to an extent and continues to fight these beings and forces from beyond known as ‘Entities’.

The group PROJECT is at the forefront of humanity’s defence, using the strange technologies and abilities of the Entities against them and reasserting reality one bloody fight at a time.

In the game you will take the role of one of the heroic agents of PROJECT, modified
through barely understood technology and thrown against the strange and deadly beings and events that press in on the Earth from its neighbouring dimensions and parallels. In the process you may begin to discover things that you wish you didn’t know and that the battle for reality is not as black and white as you have
been indoctrinated to think.

With stunning art by Toby Gregory and a customised version of the Open D6 system, PROJECT is a great game for mission-based play and conspiracy arcs.
PROJECT IS SAVIOUR


PROJECT uses the Open D6 system and can be customised to play at street, investigative, conspiracy or action levels.

A print version will come later, sold and distributed via Chronicle City.