Saturday, August 22, 2015

From the Great Sky Gods Falls a Gift...

I spoke a bit about this adventure in the last post, and I've promised +Daniel Bishop that I would finish putting this thing together for.... jeez... three years, on and off. Instead of blathering on about this history of it, I'll just link the dang thing and you can read it for yourself.

The Tribe of Ogg and the Gift of Suss is a free 0-level DCC-RPG module set in a prehistoric time. Stay tuned for more free prehistoric stuff, because Daniel's module, along with +Michael Curtis' Frozen in Time inspired my home crew enough that I wrote out a fairly detailed cosmology, with patrons, spells, and a couple more adventures (other than Steading of the Nergalites...)

Get the PDF:


This PDF is formatted with one page, per page, in order.


This PDF is formatted with two page, per page, in order.


This PDF is formatted as a printable booklet (pages aren't in order).

And here's a better quality map for the adventure area...

And the Gift of Suss! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

DCC in the Land of the Savages

Before Frozen in Time, Daniel Bishop was working on a caveman adventure for me. This was before I understood the complexities of the DCC RPG license, and I got in some trouble for commissioning an adventure without pre-clearing it with Goodman Games. Lesson learned. Water under the bridge. It's all good now.

But, the damned adventure was really good. And it was a perfect lead-in to Frozen in Time. So, we played it at home anyway. About half of the cavemen made it through Daniel's adventure and through Frozen in Time. Half of those survivors were thrown into the distant past on Praeder Island, via The Tower Out of Time (another great Michael Curtis adventure). Praeder Island also made an appearance in the DAMN adventure: Forsaken Reavers of Praeder Peak. Anyway, the poor cavemen characters had a few adventures, encountering the Baboon Men, getting cursed, and various other niceties.

That was fun and everything, but we still had half our cavemen characters back in the neolithic era and their players really wanted to play. So, I did what I do -- I improvised a campaign setting on the fly using various sources, including UK5: The Eye of the Serpent, which I partially converted to DCC RPG. When we got to Area 16: The Eyrie, the idea of it was intriguing to me, but woefully underdeveloped. I was working on some other stuff within the campaign world (rise of the cult of Nergal, being one of them), and decided to develop out a few things behind the Eyrie.

This is the product of that work -- an unofficial, free, fan-made adventure for DCC RPG. It's got cover art, thanks to +David Fisher, and a map I created, but otherwise, it's all adventure. And it's all open-content. Use it however you want.

Pick up the Steading of the Nergalites right here: 1-up, 2-up, Booklet (if you want to print yourself a book)

And as always, let me know what you think about it.

Also, here's a hex-map of the area. After you read through Steading of the Nergalites, keep your eye on the northwestern area of the map (around the village of Ogg). Something fun is coming right around there in a week or so.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Peanut Butter and Chocolate and Space and WWII

I've been pretty focused on fantasy gaming through DCC RPG for a few years now. And very focused on the same through various versions of D&D for many many years before that. I have delved into Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars (d20), and a few other systems, in the intervening time, but for whatever reason, fantasy gaming has held my attention almost exclusively.

Strangely, I have other interests in reading both fiction and non-fiction, as well as other media. History is probably the number 1 interest, even above fantasy fiction. I tend to hone in on periods of history where major social upheaval provides opportunities for social mobility. All those fancy words really mean, when chaos reigns, people like me have a chance at a different life other than toil and servitude.

The time period around the 1500's seems to be a huge draw for me-- when it seemed that the human race "woke up," realized they had a brain, and started flexing against the strictures of generations of fiat rule by kings, priests, and other thugs. The sengoku jidai period of Japanese history, the Renaissance in Europe, Age of Exploration and the founding/subjugating of the New World. All of these time periods and general locales seemed to undergo painful, war-torn periods from which emerged a completely different world. And all have held my obsessive interest at various times.

It's the same with World War II. The war was so pervasive and echoed so far down history that we still see and feel its impact -- and yet, we can barely imagine what people went through during that time. So many people had their lives taken from them, and so many others rose above the death and destruction to do things that we today find utterly astounding. I was a soldier, and I was in the first Gulf War, but I can still barely imagine charging up Omaha beach on D-Day, standing across the Siegfried line as my comrades fled around me and the Allies advanced, unopposed, crouching in a blown out building in Stalingrad trying to pick off one more Nazi officer, or piloting what was essentially a paper airplane with a thousand pound torpedo strapped to it over Pearl Harbor. From 1939 to 1945, there are too many stories. You can't tell them all.

Science (fact and fiction) has also always held my interest. Whether it was the pulpiest of space pulp to scientific journals crowded with concepts that took me months to understand -- I've always been captivated by our need to understand the universe.

So, yeah, it's only natural that when +James Spahn published the White Star Role Playing Game, that all the chocolate and all the peanut butter converged to one sweet delicious idea: WWII in Space.

+Edward Kann published a great set of RPG books back in the early 2000's called Rocketship Empires 1936. In it the human race was given the power of spaceflight by Martians and so headed out to the stars, very quickly developing technology of a decidedly pulp variety. The concept of the game was fantastic. It hit almost all the cylinders of my interest -- pulp, sci-fi, pre-WWII political strife. I wrote several scenarios based on his universe in the Savage Worlds system (you can still check them out over on the Mystic Bull Cafe. But, Ed abandoned that game, for whatever reason, and I moved on from it.

I did a lot of other work on scenarios and systems related to WWII, but I could never seem to find the right one, or enough folks interested in playing. Rocketship was close, but it was too early. I wanted to take the stories from the actual war and put the sci-fi spin on them. And I didn't want to be burdened by political situations, aliens, and other stuff that I didn't feel like fit.

So, I'm embarking on my own pulp sci-fi journey. Set in an alternate past, starting in 1939 as the war truly starts, only this time, the war starts in space. Why in space? Because that's where I want it to be. I'm not planning to write a campaign setting explaining every detail of alternate history. There's going to be no "campaign map" or write-up of regions, kings/rules, and armies. These are stories about men and women involved in the secret war between the United Kingdom of Planets and the Deutschstern Reich. Between the Dai Nippon Teikoku and the Soviet Star Republic. And unofficially, the American Galactic Union against any and all enemies.

Cut to the crawl...

In 1939, as the brush wars that would eventually become full scale conflict began between the Deutschstern Reich (DR) and the League of Free Worlds, the chamberlain of the United Kingdom of Planets (UKOP) dispatched teams of operators to gather intelligence on the enemy and to conduct disruption operations on its assets in Reichspace. Assembled from diverse cultural backgrounds within the League of Free Worlds, these teams were composed of 4-10 specialists in the fields of human and signals intelligence as well as military, science, and black operations. With broad missions of sabotage, intelligence, counter-intelligence and partisan recruitment, the Space Operations Executive (SOE) fanned out to the stars. Disavowed by the UKOP and the League and hunted by the elite weltraumkommandos, the SOE fought a shadow war against the greatest threat to peace our fledgling space forces have ever known.

And cut to the (working) logo...

The first adventure is a free one -- Bug Hunt. It's Pay What You Want over on One Bookshelf 

Monday, January 05, 2015

Blame it on the Keep, Part 2

I have been fairly inundated with DCC RPG writing, playtesting, and general gaming for a couple of years now. Recently, (mostly due to +Eric Hoffman ) I jumped back into running a B/X/Etc. game based around Keep on the Borderlands.

This campaign took off over the holidays. True to form, the PCs (in game) and deliveries (out of game) changed the trajectory of the campaign world.

I had been angling for a space that I could run a number of the old school modules, since (to be completely honest) I've never played nor run most of them. As you can see from the campaign map, I was going with the U1-3 series (Saltmarsh etc), Ghost Tower of Inverness, Assassin's Knot (at least some portion of it) and White Plume Mountain. The towns and sites up north were reserved for a high level set of adventures that I wrote up several years ago that never got played.

To start out, the PCs wrecked several plans within the Keep area -- drove off the evil priest that was lingering about the Keep, sent the kobolds on a mini-trail-of-tears, and then discovered a barrow in the swamp that links to several storylines in Barrowmaze. I was marking time, really, until Barrowmaze Complete showed up, because I wanted to send them through a modified Barrowmaze -- with just a handful of the barrows and a section of the maze. Then Barrowmaze Complete showed up on Christmas Eve... and the characters ran down their hooks to that area and, basically, refuse to leave.

So, now, the campaign map has changed...

I'm still putting the U1-3 stuff on the coast (in Bogtown, instead of Saltmarsh), and I changed from Greyhawk to Ironguard Motte (mostly because Greyhawk is just too damn big!) for a large settlement in the area.

So far, in the Barrowmaze area, the party has come to the attention of the forces of both Orcus and those dormant (no longer) forces of Nergal. I had planned to link KotBL and Barrowmaze through Nergal (the evil temple in KotBL is an attempt to rally Nergalite forces, due to rumors of artifacts and shrines in the area). The party has raised Varghoulis, a Death Knight dedicated to Nergal, who in turn raised an undead army. He has since marched off to the north to consolidate forces for an old fashion "god raising." In the meantime, the party managed to lob a grenade into the the forces of Orcus, by murdering one of their priests and stealing a bunch of books related to rituals and histories of Orcus and Nergal.

So now, not one but two major evil cults are aware of, and not very happy with, the PCs. This should get really fun, really fast.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Blame It On the Keep

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had a lot to time to game at home and online. I blame +Eric Hoffman  for re-introducing me to an old obsession: Keep on the Borderlands. We managed to get one session in over the holidays, and he's promised a few more over the Christmas holidays. Immediately after the online session, I set up to run the module with my home group. We normally play DCC RPG, but I've been known to switch them back and forth between B/X/etc and DCC. Everyone has extant characters -- so it was fairly easy to move them to the little keep in the wilds and set them loose. Within one session, they had already rooted out a cult spy, made a few fast friends (henchmen), lost one of their fast friends (poor Crannich the dwarf...we hardly knew ye) and sent the kobolds off on their own mini-Trail of Tears (no -- they didn't kill the women and children).

This adventure module has always stood out to me as a model of how such content should be produced: Present the situation without embellishment and let the characters and the DM tell the stories. Of the old school modules that I have the most experience with, I think KotBL did it admirably well. It's also the best "first module" I've ever seen and should be used as a model for anyone producing OSR "beginner" modules.

The biggest challenge for me, as DM, is making the content fresh. I've played or run parts of this module (sometimes both) about 100 times. So, after experiencing the nuanced changes that +Eric Hoffman introduced, I set about working through my own.

In a struggle to find a nice player's map (black and white) for my players, I ran across this post over at Goblinoid Games. Black Wyvern modified the wilderness map for KotBL and spread out the various caves over the whole wilderness area. I really liked this concept and immediately adopted it...  (he also mapped the individual caves with mods for this tact). Unfortunately, now it was even harder to find a player's map... So, I took his map and made my own.

This folder over on Google Drive has two PNG files: DM and Player's map, and an SVG file so you can make your own changes.

So, rustle up some B/X/etc characters and get your ass to the border. There's trouble brewing out there that only the liberal application of magic and steel can solve.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Aga-Krul -- The Fearless Ally

Krul, huntsman and warrior of great prowess took up with the Nergalite dwarves, leading with him his clan of fierce warriors and acting as bodyguard to Agol Umberstone, the prophet of Nergal.
Together they traveled to the interior of Kharg Island and built a fine temple to the Winter Sun. From there, Krul and his clan traveled with the Nergalites to the mountains where the dwarves built a steading and shrine to Nergal.

When the Dissenter freed the serpent children of Qo and forced conversions upon the Nergalites, Krul stood with his master and the faithful few wielding his great bone spear against the vile children of the Destroyer of Worlds. It is said that Krul’s spear killed the Dissenter and allowed a small group of loyal Nergalites to escape from the dwarven steading while both Krul and the prophet were martyred.

Aga-Krul is a 10’ long spear with a bone shaft and a bronze head carved with dwarven runes glorifying the hunt and battle. Due to the many supernatural creatures killed by its original owner, the spear has taken on a strange intelligence and burns with a vengeful purpose. In the hands of any character, the combatant receives a +1 to attack and damage. If the bearer is fighting a “giant” sized creature, including humanoid giants or larger versions of otherwise normal creatures (such as giant spiders, mammoths, and the like) the spear inflicts an additional 1d3 damage. The spear itself communicates to the bearer with mental tugs, half-remembered dreams and, occasionally, more direct methods. These mental pushes allow the bearer to determine whether a given entity is of the Lawful alignment, and a potential ally.

Aga-Krul seeks to avenge its original bearer against the lingering spirit of the Dissenter. The first convert to worship of Qo among the Nergalites was slain by Krul, but its spirit was granted a new form which currently resides in the old temple to Nergal on the island in Wroten Lake. Should the bearer face this demon, Aga-Krul may be thrown with an unerring strike (+20 to the first attack) and deals 2d6 damage, plus the wielder’s Strength bonus. The spear immediately returns to the bearer’s hand. In addition, if the Dissenter is struck by Aga-Krul, one of its special abilities (randomly determined) is neutralized for 24 hours.

Aga-Krul -- The Fearless Ally (PDF)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Black Hole Cloak

In the distant future, Abadel Trank, the halfling nega-sorcerer, found his power waning. Either the universe itself was running out of fuel for magic or someone (or something) was preventing him from reaching the heights that he’d dreamed of since wandering away, half-drunk, from his stepmother’s hobbit hole at the scandalously young age of 34. Trank set upon a project that would consume his last years (literally). Believing that by moving back in time, he would solve both problems, the nega-sorcerer began constructing a portal using a piece of magical fabric he’d stolen from Urma, the Weaver, a minor goddess of home and hearth. His incantations complete, Trank stepped through the
portal, only to find himself tangled up in the fabric and falling through space and time. No one determined what actually happened to Trank, but his housekeeper found the strange black cloak with its shifting pattern of starlight hanging from a peg in Trank’s workshop with a note attached:

It was quite a glorious night of fun. You were very naughty to steal from me, however. Enjoy your trip!
- U

The Black Hole Cloak is a short cloak (regular sized for a halfling) composed of a silvery-black fabric that slides through the hands like water. Inspecting the fabric, one sees a pattern of shifting stars, as if the cloak itself were falling through space at a great speed. Upon occasion (1 in 20 each year), one may see the horrified face of a bald halfling man fly by.

READ MORE: The Black Hole Cloak