Thursday, December 29, 2011

This one's for Dr. Rotwang

From the Thrazar FAQ:
Q: It is said that the name of Thrazar's true true love is tattooed somewhere on his body. What is the name and where is the tattoo?
A: Her name is Rio, she dances on the sands. Her name is tattooed in invisible ink on the bottom of one of Thrazar's feet.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I had a gamer geek Christmas, here's the proof

My lovely wife, Sally, is very diligent about using my Amazon wish list when shopping for me for Christmas. I keep the wish list short and loaded with things which will provide me with plenty of enjoyment. Through the Amazon list and verbal suggestions, I got some good gamer swag this year.

I've been eying The Dungeon Alphabet for two years and was very glad to find it available on Amazon. Santa, and Sally, brought me a copy of the Dungeon Alphabet and I intend to get plenty of fun use out of it soon.

I had read an e-book version of Lord Dunsany's Book of Wonder and determined that I needed a print copy of Dunsany's work. The Book of Wonder is available with another set of short stories, originally titled Tales of Wonder, in a new paperback titled Wonder Tales. Thanks to Sally, Amazon and Santa, I have the gonzo Book of Wonder and a whole slew of Dunsany's stories which I have yet to read. The Book of Wonder and most of Dunsany's work, I would imagine, is in the public domain. The e-book is free and is a must read for fans of fantasy literature and frpgs. Get it soon if you have never read any Dunsany. His work really provides a sense of pre-Tolkien fantasy fiction.

So, here's a tricky thing I did, I knew Santa and I were giving Sally a Kindle so I just mentioned that I'd like the Batman Chuck Taylor High-tops and not the flippin Dark Knight version. I really didn't expect to get the shoes for Christmas but my hints and suggestions paid off and I now have the first pair of Chuck Taylors I've owned since high school. I've been wearing them proudly since I put them on Christmas morning. They don't have the arch support of my other casual shoes, Merrell, but I will not be wearing these Detective Comic kicks to work either.

To top the gamer geek themed holiday off Sally and Santa also brought me a Justice League of America t-shirt too. I've never owned a Justice League shirt but I'm sure to be sporting this new one later this week.
I think I'll go read a Detective Comic now.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Polyhedral Christmas to all!

And here's a little cake I made for everyone from sugar wafers. It turned out to be a bit to square for a Christmas Tree but I'll give it a try again next year.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Adventure Capitalist Christmas

If your a member of my game group, the Adventure Capitalist, you will be getting this for Christmas.

These d6 are erasers that I found at the Dollar Tree, what a perfect low price gift for gamers!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Knox Gamers Pub Crawlers

For the past two years and nine months I've been involved with a local game group who meet twice most months to relax and chat at a local watering hole. Here in Knox-vages we have a game forum; Knox Gamers, so our group is called the Knox Gamers Pub Crawlers. A majority of our meetings have been at Union Jacks, a beer only pub in West Knoxville. They do serve food, if you'd like, along with the beverages.

While the ol' Poly-dice Bag doesn't get much local traffic, I thought I'd share this info as further evidence of gaming socialization in East Tennessee. We will be meeting two more times this year, on this coming Thursday and on the 22nd. The Pub Crawlers social schedule can be found at Knox Gamers and there is a Knox Gamers Meet Up group too. If ya just happen to be in West Knoxville at 7pm on any given Thursday look us up!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Illusionary Cream Jug of Ikas

This silver cream jug may appear in any disused treasure hoard or may be found in a random curio shop. When initially discovered it will be covered with an amount of dust which will give it the appearance of an item of little value. It will be so encrusted with dirt as to make the silver nearly unnoticeable. Once adventurers take possession of the cream jug it will continue to appear in all subsequent treasure piles encountered. The cream jug will randomly disappear from the belongings of the adventures and inhabit a yet undiscovered location of valuables, thus causing potential disagreements within the adventuring party. Each time the jug is found it will become cleaner, the silver will be more apparent due to repeated handling, etc.

The Illusionary Cream Jug will continue this operation, vanishing and reappearing, until the frustrated adventurer/s leave the jug where it is found. Once left behind the jug will again appear with the belongings of the adventurers and will remain there until removed. Of course, once the jug is pawned it will again appear among the possessions of the adventurer who had recently exchanged it.

This silver cream jug bears an engraving, Ikas, on the underside of the base. The value of the jug is 1000 gold pieces.

(Had previously named this item the Cream jug of the Cosmos. Odds are good I will design another jug using that name some day.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fight On! tables compilation

I was wondering what is, or is not, happening with the Fight On! book of random madness that we all submitted our blood, sweat and tears to a few months ago. I looked at the ODnD forum and found the answer. Calithena says, "I am planning on getting to the limited release hardcovers and the second softcover (issues 5-8) as soon as issue 13 is out. Then the tables book."

So, I'll save my tables for the publication and get back to writing up those magic items I had started based on the short stories of Saki.

Monday, December 5, 2011

House Rules or what we can learn from The Hobbit.

"There's been a lot of talk about this next song..."

Yeah, there has been a lot of talk about frpg rules; what rules do we use, how do we use them, how do they apply, what rules do we add? I have, of course, mentioned that I'm from the rules lite school. I consider ODnD, Holmes Basic and Encounter Critical to be good examples of light rule systems. E.C.s status as a light rule system could certainly be debated. But , for one, there's no d20 in E.C. Conversely, there are all those percentile tables to create fun and confusion.

So, we worry about System X does it this way and System Y does it that way but I say pick a system and stick with it. If you have a problem with a rule or two use the time honored House Rules baby! There have been plenty of blogs written about House Rules too and many suggest that the House Rules should be printed and presented to the players as soon as the use of a new game system, or new campaign is started.

I have said it before and many, many other writers and bloggers point out that a game exists for fun, don't let the rules drag you down. Don't let the rules conflict with your idea for your game and prevent you, as a DM or gaming group, from having fun.

The best example I can provide for altering game rules to your setting would be a save vs. death by poisoning situation. Specifically, poisoning by spiders like in The Hobbit. Bilbo and the dwarfs get lost in the woods and are over whelmed by giant spiders. This would mean almost certain death to any low level characters if most frpg rules were applied as written. 'Cause giant spiders have poison which requires a saving throw thus causing the death of the low level p.c.

What happens in The Hobbit? The spider poison paralyzed the dwarfs who were wrapped in webs for later consumption allowing Bilbo to save them all.

Honestly, I guess the save vs. death aspect of low level encounters had been on my mind for the last two years and I have finally come to terms with my attitude toward this part of the game. I'll use the rules as they practically apply to my adventures and allow those low levels p.c.s to survive. I suggest, when applicable, we all use the rules as you like and fudge if and when needed.

Really, I just wanted to write a blog post that used the above photo.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Phasic issue 4

I finally finished issue 4 of phasic, the Encounter Critical fanzine. This issue is short and sweet, just big enough to enjoy during a lunch hour. I think I've mentioned, this issue you may be small but I hope it packs a might punch of fun.

I posted it over at Scribed so we'll see when it works through the backlog over there.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Low budget rpg rule books

I had a bit of spare time and finally got around to a long over due project, printing a new copy of the Encounter Critical rules and a copy of the Opponent Opuscule which is the monster manual of E.C.

My old copy of the E.C. rules was a print of the scanned rule book from the E.C. hoax days which can be downloaded here.

The third booklet uses a cover created by John who writes the blog Embrace the Dungeon! His blog seems to be m.i.a. at the moment and I'm sorry to see this. (Heck, my blog is m.i.a. half the time.) John had put a lot of the periphery material from Encounter Critical in his version of the Phasic Arcanium, I just used it as a cover for a notebook I made with paper from an old spiral bound notebook.

I was going to print out a copy of the Refuge in Audacity rules too but the pdf presents all the pages in landscape format which does not a booklet create. You all will be the first to know if I reformat the rule set. As work slows down for the year at my job I hope to dust off more of my rpg projects and present them to the blog-o-sphere.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A New Piece for the Encounter Critical Archives

This piece sort of speaks for itself, but for the uninitiated, Thrazar is the model hero of E.C. and Darth Viraxis is the model evil overlord.

Looks like I need to load this image on to the internet somewhere so everyone can see a lager image, let me work on that a sec. Google Docs didn't want to co-operate and the pdf made it sideways but I posted this image to Scribd, for the fun of it if no other reason.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I got mine,

did you get yours?

This is a great publication with great art, it just isn't long enough. But, this is only issue one and there is an eleven page bonus comic, a preview of a new Chris Roberson comic titled Memorial that looks very interesting.

I also picked the Deadpool, Fear Itself three part mini series. Deadpool has become my new favorite comic book character 'cause I have no idea who he is or why his suit looks like Spiderman. He seems to be Marvel's version of Booster Gold, except B.G. is a would-be superhero and D.P. is a super criminal.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Brak the Barbarian by John Jakes

I recently read the pistachio joy that is Brak the Barbarian. I didn’t know John Jakes had written these novels of adventure until I read The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories vol. 2 as edited by Lin Carter. I was familiar with Mr. Jakes for his novel North & South which appeared as television mini-series when I was an adolescent. I have probably mentioned, a time or two, I love the old Swords and Sorcery tales because they are just plain, fun reading. So, I found a copy of Brak the Barbarian through Paperback Swap to study this earlier work of Mr. Jakes.

This first volume of the adventures of Brak is dedicated to Mr. Jakes’ son;
"for my son Michael, who has yet to make the acquaintance of Conan,
The Mouser and Fafhrd, Cugel, or the rest of that splendid company
that Sprague de Camp has so aptly named The Brotherhood of the Sword."

During the entirety of this book Brak has one garment of clothing, a lion skin girded about his loins, and one weapon, a broad sword. While I find it hard to believe, I got the impression he wore the same lion skin through the entire tale. I know the broad sword had to be replaced after he threw the original sword into the eye a T’muk, a giant spider-like beast of the desert which bleeds acid.

Brak is no magician, diplomat or politician. He is just a simple barbarian who wants to journey to the southern extreme of known civilization, to Khurdisan the Golden. Brak’s knowledge of Khurdisan is limited to the rumors of the splendor and glory, beauty and treasures to be found there. As an outside observer of Brak’s world, I have to question why he’d believe the Khurdisan would be any better then the perilous lands which precede it. Perhaps I want to route for the underdog and I just can’t admit that Brak is witless as well as a barbarian.

One of the most memorable passages from the novel is, appropriately, Jakes’ description of one of many of the vile beasts which Brak is forced to face in combat;
"Arrowing towards him came a thing of great slimness but immense length. It had a flat, milky-blind eye in either side of its head. The head looked malformed because it widened out twenty times the thickness of the creature’s body and fanned, flicking tail. Gillslits as tall as Brak himself throbbed open and shut just above the water."
"Brak realized dimly that the monster must be some vile crossbreeding of life forms older than time. It was able to lift its long fish’s body half out of the pool by means of a series of froglike webbed appendages down either side of its shimmering scaled body. Brak counted eight, ten, twelve of those webbed half-legs on one side. They churned in a rhythm like galley oars as the Fangfish bore down."

In each chapter Brak faces a unique monster, each a new and deadly opponent from the imagination of Mr. Jakes. These creatures would be right at home in a fantasy role playing adventure If you’re looking for some new plot hooks, Brak the Barbarian could be research material for you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

L.L wandering monster chart

I finally got around to making the wondering monster chart for The Forgotten Ruins adventure which I have posted on Scribd. I'll post this chart over there so anyone can use it who might like. I did adjust some the stats for these critters so the p.c.s will survive to find the second level of the ruins.

Here's the chart post as a Google Doc too.

And, at Scribd.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Birth of Modern Nations

I had a few spare minutes recently so, of course, I went to a book store and found two bargain books that I couldn’t pass up. One is and adolescent non-fiction volume tiled; Birth of Modern Nations and this is about European History during the 17th Century. I imagine that the 17th Century is roughly the end of the historical period/s we can use as settings for fantasy role playing games. Any game set after the 1600s I would call a Historical RPG or Modern or Alternate Reality. Sure, fantasy can also fit into any of these other setting or genres; I guess my thought is that, we have more modern thought, government and industry and less superstition in the years and centuries following the 1600s, mostly.

The book Birth of Modern Nations consists of brief articles, two pages each that I have noticed, on the emerging modern European Nations during the 1600s. The first article concerns the Hapsburg Empire which provides a nearly perfect plot for any style espionage rpg you may desire. I’m sure many of you are familiar with ol’ King Charles I (Carlos) of Spain so just consider this a pleasant reminder. As if Charles didn’t have his hands full in Spain, he was elected Holy Roman Emperor. There’s at least one big problem, which I can see, in attempting to rule Spain and the Christian Roman Empire and that’s France. This Holy Roman Empire consisted of the Netherlands, modern Germany and Austria so modern France is sitting right in the middle of the two Empires of Charles I. Change the names, to protect the innocent , and here’s a great plot device for a fantasy rpg campaign, land grabs, power struggles, court intrigue. Just add player characters and let them stir the mix.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

This is another old book review from my_space:

A Google search of Alas, Babylon will establish that it was published in 1959 and is one of the first novels published with a post-nuclear setting. Alas, Babylon also has the dubious distinction of being the first book on my “It’s been sitting on my shelf too long” booklist. I remember this book sitting on the shelf at my family home when I was in high school. I’ll not bother you with calculations of how long it has been since I was in high school. The statement, “since I was in high school,” is proof that this book has been sitting on my shelf too long!

I suspect that one of my brothers may have read the book for a high school reading assignment. If I had read this book as a younger man I would have enjoyed it more. I may have been delirious about the opportunity to receive a grade for my report on Alas, Babylon. Fifty years after the original publication date, I fear the events and circumstances of this book would have little meaning to the youth of today.

By no means do I intend to imply that this book is great literature. My estimate of this book’s value is pulp, pulp, pulp, the dreaded triple pulp! For the first fifty pages I wondered if the writer and his story would sustain my interest. Frank surprised me with the climax, I felt genuinely worried about the nuclear strike. It was around ten at night when I read of the nuclear attack and I attribute my excitement to the stress of my workday as much as the skill of the author Pat Frank.

Frank hints at satire and sarcasm throughout the novel and managed hold my attention to the end. His main character, Randy Bragg, is a very modern man by the standards of the 1950s. Bragg unites a mixed racial group in his community, River Road, after what they call The Day. Bragg is prone to sarcasm himself but Frank never develops the satirical tone to buoy the book out of pulp status. The closing chapters of the book are the closest thing I can imagine to post-nuclear-bliss. Episodes include how they make their own moonshine which becomes a valuable commodity in the now necessary barter market and how they are forced to catch fish from the middle of the river during the heat of August. Post-nuclear pulpy bliss!

Frank applies one sarcastic sting at the end when the residents of River Road meet some Air Force Patrolmen. Bragg asks, “Who won the war?” The Patrolman responds, “We won it. We really clobbered ‘em! Not that it matters.” I’ve finished the book, not that it matters, now I will return the book to the pulpy pile from which it came.

Besides the simple enjoyment of reading, the one thing I have learned from this book is, if you use a quote from the Bible as your books title it may become a famous work as well. Frank has written a few other works and I’ll not relegate him to the list of authors I’ll never read again; Piers Anthony, R. A. Salvatore, V.C. Andrews and Louisa May Alcott. Many would add Weis and Hickman to this list. I enjoyed Weis and Hickman years and it's possible I may continue to read their works in the future. For now, I’ll get back to drinking my over priced beers and reading Sgt. Rock comic books and Philip K. Dick novellas.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Remember My_Space? Some old book reviews;

Once upon a time I wrote my blogs over at my_space, now that site seems to have gone the way of the Dodo Bird. I only wrote a hand full of blog entries over there before I started writing at blogger/ blog spot. I don't want those old entries to be missed by any who might enjoy them so I am going to repost the entries that are related to our gaming hobby here at the, new fangled, Dicebag...

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick

At 111 pages this surely qualifies as a novella. This is the story upon which the move Blade Runner is based. Had I never viewed Blade Runner I would have found this tale far more bizarre. Blade Runner is one of my favorite films and I can only guess the number of times I have seen the movie and it’s bits and pieces. Likewise, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep has been on my personal “must read” list for a very long time.

There are elements in the movie version that Dick did not write and there are also elements of the original that were left out of the movie. A healthy dose of imagination is required to appreciate either version of this tale, perhaps more so for the manuscript than the film. The similarities begin with the major characters. Rick Deckard, Harry Bryant and Dave Holden are the three policemen central to both versions. The villains are the androids; Leo/n, Pris and Roy Batty. Dick never uses the term blade runner, he refers to Deckard's job simply as bounty hunter.

This story is based on a post-holocaust rather than a post-nuclear strike Earth. A chemical agent has poisoned Earth killing a large majority of all insects, birds, reptiles and lower mammals. This mystery poison is much less effective on humanity but most surviving humans have fled to the stars, specifically Mars. The androids were commissioned to help man colonize space. Everyone remaining on Earth keeps a pet to psychologically absolve himself of his crimes against the lower animals. The few surviving species are very expensive when they are available. Robot animals are available as pets, in Rick Deckard’s case an electric sheep.

Bizarre yes but a witty and ingenious expansion on Asimov’s plot for I, Robot. My outline of Dick’s tale has been only the cornmeal he uses to cook an even more bizarre and meaty tortilla pie. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is not one of the 501 must read books and is not part of my bookshelf cleaning plan, I read this tale in PDF format. P.K. Dick's book on the 501 list is The Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, I will read it in due time. In a freighting example of life imitating art I recently saw a television advertisement for Fur Real Friends. These are electronic pets offered by Hasbor toys. I've also just finished reading Lizard by Dennis Covington but I will spare you a review of it. Lizard's a good book. I’m all out of Sgt. Rock comic books so I’ll get back to taking my seasonal allergy medication and reading Iron Man.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another community project!

Yeah, we all need is another project right?

I've taken a step toward the production of phasic #4 and created the Crossword Critical feature. Now I'm calling for submissions for the zine from the E.C. e-mail group and the osr blog-o-sphere. Write up, or draw, any ol' thing that comes to mind (along the lines of some E.C. game content.) I will accept all the gonzo ideas I can get, I'll just have to dedicate some time for editing and layout.

I will call this the Fall issue, that gives us a pretty broad and undefined, for the moment, deadline. Now, grab a cold drink and get out the ol' thinking cap!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Late for the "Show me your dice" party

I had noticed that bloggers were revealing their dice on their various sites. Today I had some time to read a few blog posts from earlier this month, who doesn't love to show off their dice! You can see a few of my dice in my banner (above.)

The dice on the left are the remains of my original dice from the Holmes basic set. Soon after acquiring the Holmes boxset, I promptly lost the d4. Ah yeah, the red d10 in the back is the first d10 I ever purchased and the light blue d8 is from some other TSR box set. These days the old dice are retired to a box on top of a bookshelf.

The dice on the right I purchased from e bay. I never can recall the name of the manufacture, Dwarven Forged or something, but the dice greatly resemble Gamescince dice. I keep them in my Crown Royal dicebag with a fairly new set of blue Chessex and the blue d30 in the banner photo.

There are many more dice in my dicebag and the box with the old, retired dice. I may post a photo of some of them in the future.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Now, back to our Month Old News Dept.

What do Adventure Capitalist do when the cat is away?

Our Nightwick Abbey game is on hold for a few weeks while our DM has some summer fun. He said he was going to New Orleans to attend a wedding but I think that is just an excuse... I mean, who would get married in New Orleans in the middle of July? That would be like getting married in Birmingham at the end of August, hot, hot stuff!

So, for our part, what old grognards do when their frpg is on hold is play West End Games Star Wars. Our party consisted of three storm troopers. We were in the Imperial Navy equivalent of the F Troop. If our Star Wars adventure continues our tenure in the Imperial Navy will most likely come to a terminal, deadly end or we will all defect and become renegades like the scoundrels we truly are.

What happens on the E.C. mail group does not stay on the E.C. mail group

Over at the Encounter Critical yahoo group we dreamed up a random chart to generate adventure plots. Our pal Jeff Rients was the lead cordinator and idea guru on this project. It's a fun chart for any type of gonzo or retro stupid role playing. I took the liberity of posting it at Scribd for everyone to enjoy.

E C Random Adventure-Mo-tron I should mention that Jeff created the name of the chart too.

Polyhedral Update

So Jimmy, who looks like a moody Nathan Fillion, commented:

-- Aye! Awaiting more soon, been a month since the last post. :) --

Thanks for the prompt Jim, new bits of rpg related material coming soon to a blog near you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I have been published again.

A fellow blogger who's read a great deal more than I, Christian of Destination Unknown, produces a rpg 'zine One Square Equals Five Feet and he was kind enough to include an frpg adventure starter which I designed in a recent issue.

The adventure is simply titled The Forgotten Ruins and is intended for use with Labyrinth Lord or other Basic frpgs. I've posted it over at Scribd.
I intend to add more details about the creatures which in habbit the ruins, add a random encounter table and such. Perhaps I can get this done this week?

For now, enjoy it as ya like.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Imperial Stars by E. E. "Doc" Smith

Doc Smith is often credited as a major influence upon George Lucas and the characterization in The Imperial Stars could easily be developed into movie or television personalities. The Imperial Stars is one of Smith's later works, published in 1976, co-written with Stephen Goldin. The tone of this tale reminds me of the works of Alfred Bester. Like Bester's The Demolished Man, The Imperial Stars reads like an old pulp mystery or espionage plot set in a sci-fi or advanced technological society.

Just a plan ol’ quick and fun read and it's avaliable from Paperback Swap.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Crystal Prince by K. H. Scheer

Where did June go? Well, let me attempt to resurrect the ol' Polyhedral Dicebag with a few notes this week. In my absence I've been doing my usual amount of reading, one short novel a week. I am beginning to feel that I've read enough pulp sci-fi for quite some time but I still have plenty of these old books on my shelves. Here's one I enjoyed recently.

"The Crystal Prince is a subplot of the Perry Rhodan series and Rhodan's name is never mentioned in this tale. This fact certainly doesn't detract from the adventure packed into the 131 pages of pulpy Sci-Fi. In fact, this brief novel contains the entire plot of all six of the Star Wars films, an odd fact since the book was published in 1977.

Atlan, the Crystal Prince is subjected to a life threatening test after which his "second brain" is activated. The second brain is the source of psychic abilities and recipients of these powers traditionally wear flowing white robes. Atlan is also in exile because his uncle usurped the empire from Atlan's father, thus Atlan is given an ancient weapon to help protect himself from his uncle's secret police.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Polyhedral Newsbag: Not rpg related

Over at my other blog, Fanatical Recycling Inc, I'm attempting to write about 52 beers in 52 weeks. I'm trying to focus on the micro breweries of Tennessee and Western North Carolina and, may venture into Georgia and other Southern states. I didn't have time to write the blog last week and hope I can write an additional entry this weekend.

Okay, here's some rpg news; in our Nightwick Abbey game, my M.U. has finally reached level 2!
I hope to write about more items from Saki's Varied Menagerie soon too.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Fuchsia Feline of Saki the Satirist

Of all the lack of knowledge that has survived the ages about Saki, the master magician known as The Satirist, it is certain that he had a keen since of irony and obscure since of humor. Scholars suspect that the items of Saki's Varied Menagerie where probably most useful to Saki while mysterious and annoying results accompany modern attempts to use these items.

Saki's Fuchsia Feline, a grouping of five pink beads, allows Warlocks to summon and communicate with a domestic cat. The cat, when summoned, has never, reportedly, been fuchsia or pink in color. The purpose of summoning the cat is to employ it as a spy, because who would suspect that a house cat could reveal their most intimate secrets? Scholarly attempts to employ the Fuchsia Feline and subsequent house cat have mostly failed. The cat generally reports on the contents of a grocery list, the idle desires of young princesses or the cat has taken a nap when it should have been spying.

Stats: The color of the cat summoned is: roll 1d6
1. Black
2. White
3. Gray
4. Yellow Tabby
5. Calico
6. Tortoise Shell Tabby

All other stats for the Fuchsia Feline are up to the individual GM.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Varied Menagerie of Saki the Satirist

Saki the Satirist is an ancient Vanthian Warlock from millennia before the Fall of the Sky Monsters of the Galaxy. Certainly, Saki developed his skill, veritable mastery in the mystical arts, ages before the Waepeta Sorcerers and may have been a founder of the Mummified Bards. His legacy still exists in the remaining contents of his Varied Menagerie, including the Granite Gray Wolf, the Fuchsia Feline, The Cream Jug of the Cosmos, The Ransom Note of the Grim Reaper and, among others, The Playwright's Quill.

The Granite Gray Wolf is a simple, crude, gray carving of wolf. A Warlock or other practitioner of the mystic arts, while in posession of the Granite Gray Wolf, may summon, at random, a small pack of wolves. Once the summoning is concluded, in keeping with the satiric arts of Saki, the pack of wolves will appear at some random time in the future. Tradition holds that the wolf pack is unlikely to appear while the Warlock and friends are beset by highway men, rather the wolves are most likely to appear when the Warlock is holding court with some noblemen or religious officials.

Stats: The Granite Gray Wolf will randomly summon as many as 2d10 wolves. The number of wolves summoned and time of their arrival is left to the GM's determination.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Enchanted Bandolieers of Oop'Oop'Aru

The Enchanted Bandolier of Oop' Oop' Aru is another of many legendary items associated with this, one of the most famous, Ape Sultan, Diplomat and Military Leader. The Bandolier of Sultan Aru, appears rather plan but is reputed to enchant the marksmanship of the warrior lucky enough to possess it. As with most Vanthian relics of legend, the Enchanted Bandolier is often duplicated by under skilled craftsmen from Blackhawk to the Mercenary Coast. Unfortunately neither the craftsmen nor historians know if Commander Aru wore a bandolier of single or double belt design.

Stat: Ordinary leather Bandolier, or two, provides 5 to 10% bonus for ranged attack in Encounter Critical or +1 or 2, GM's choice, in d20 based games.

--This post inspired by the More Magic Weapons Please! request by Arcadian at No Signals! (Insert Dave Chappelle comment here.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

The best things in life are free...

or cost 99 cents plus shipping on e-bay where I recently purchased the 1st Edition Monster Manuel 2 and the Fiend Folio for 99 cents each plus shipping. So, I got both the these books for about $3.00 each.

Secondly, I offer the plethora of free pdf material available for rpgs of all types. Old school, new school, retro school, flight school, you name it and there's a free pdf, some where, on the entree'-net for your game.

One of the best free items I've gotten lately only cost a book of stamps and I don't think I sent a full book either. This is a little 'zine by Christian of Destinations Unknown titled One Square Equals Five Feet. The mag is one hand written page and always contains a new area for a 2nd Ed. AD&D solo adventure. I haven't started playing the adventure yet but I haven't read the separate parts, thus spoiling the fun for myself, either. I intend to make a fighter soon and begin his adventures in the 1 [] = 5' dungeon. I'll post the results here for everyone to follow.

The issue of 1[] = 5' that I received this week had two other contributions in the same envelope. The original 'zine was enjoyable but now I'm three times as inspired to hack out one page of nonsense and send it off to join these other publications, it will not be content for Encounter Critical either. Surprise!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A - Z for Encounter Critical: Lexicon of Vanth

It's the nature of my job that I occasionally have an off day in the middle of the week. Since I have worked the last ten days in a row today is my day off. I did all the usually stuff, took out the garbage, went to the post office, did the laundry, mowed the lawn. I even organized my closet. I have, as I've mentioned, a writing project I need to be working on but, there's nothing quite as pleasantly distracting as writing the ol' blog. So, let's have at it people!

I thought I'd post an A - Z account of elements in Encounter Critical but, the fact is, we have been working on such a project for over a year. It is called the Lexicon of Vanth and was started by Jeff Rients. The entries are written by members of the Encounter Critical mail group or any one else who would care to contribute.

I'm not going to post the 26 letters of the alphabet because they can all be accessed at the Lexicon web page. I'll just post A - C as some examples fromf the Vanthian Lexicon.

Ape Sultans (by Shoffner Kalthof; Prof. of Social Sciences, God City Community College.)

The Ape Sultans are the religious and civic leaders of the planetary ape culture of the jungles of Eastern Vanth. For nine generations, at least, the Sultans have maintained their inhumane culture through merciless use of the Scepter of Bahoobie. According to Jaquie Cuisinart, the Bahoobie was a gift from the Vulkins, awarded to the Sultans for their assistance in the War of Fthagn. Dr. - Prof. Cuisinart further informs us that the Bahoobie has been stolen from the Sultans, possibly ten years ago or as recently as last week. He also speculates that the Ape Sultans would have enslaved all of Eastern Vanth if not for the Amazon and Wooky Freeholds which lie directly to the north of the Sultans' homeland.

The religion of the Ape Sultans, known as Rosstafarianism, is based upon the worship of their creator Kong the Immortal. They believe Kong, a gigantic ape at least 40 feet tall, was responsible for the creation of all Vanth. The borders of the Ape Sultans holdings are lined with temples to Kong. These tower shrines are known as the Spires of Kong. Rosstas believe firmly in the superiority of their culture over all others, justifying the enslavement of all who oppose them. Their wealth is derived from the operation of Trilithium mines.

Conversely, Rosstas believe that Hell, the realm of the dead, is ruled by Inubus, a daemon with the body of an ape but the head of a man. Thus giving rise to the oft' used curse, "By the Black Arts of Inubus!"

B -- Bahoobie (Shoffner Kalthof; Prof. of Social Sciences, God City Community College.)

Bahoobie; literal translation from Planetary Ape meaning; "That thing." The Scepter of Bahoobie is an energy weapon powered by Trilithium. This scepter was awarded to the Ape Sultan, Oh' Oh' Gone the First, son of Kong by the Vulkin Counselor, Speck, son of Spe' Vack at the end of the War of Fthagn. A brief transcript of the ceremony follows:

Speck: In recognition of the honorable service of Oh' Oh' Gone, son of Kong, and likewise the service of his armies, I Speck, son of Spe' Vack, present you with this, the Scepter of...

Oh' Oh' Gone: Bahoobie!

Speck: .... The Scepter of Bahoobie. (End transcript.)

After the presentation ceremony traditional celebrations ensued including the destruction of many villages along the southern border of the Amazon and Wooky Freeholds. This celebration, while appropriate for Planetary Ape culture, has become known as the Battle of Bahoobie or the Last Battle of Fthagn.

There is much dispute concerning the current location of the Scepter of Bahoobie. The reigning Ape Sultan, Oh' Oh' Speck the IV, claims the Scepter remains in it's rightful home, the Palace of Oh' Oh' Gone. However, scientist Jaquie Cuisinart has reported that the Scepter has been missing for as long as ten years. He suggests that the Scepter is now hidden among the many warehouses of the Mercenary Coast.

C - Cuisinart, Jaquie (by Shoffner Kalthof; Prof. of Social Sciences, God City Community College.)

Jaquie Cuisinart is a pioneer in the biological, geographical and social sciences. He is best known for his work studying culture of the Ape Sultans. He was the first scientist to catalog the now famous Squirrel Nut Zappers. Cuisinart's most recent discovery is an island in the oceans of the Mighty Land which he has named Gilamon's Island. Professor Cuisinart is not currently employed by any institute of higher learning or working under a grant from said institutions.

Ya see, the Lexicon of Vanth is written in character. It's wacky stuff but that's all I've got, it's time to make some dinner.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Swords against Tomorrow; edited by Robert Hoskins

This book is very fun and isn't that largely the point of fiction, to enjoy reading, to enjoy the tale. These tales, while enjoyable, light reading, are told by a Who's Who of Sword and Sorcery Fiction. I don't need to introduce these authors to anyone reading this post but only to mention their names; Poul Anderson, a multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner, Fritz Leiber, famous for his Lankhmar series, John Jakes who is a bestselling author of Historical Fiction and Leigh Brackett who you all know.

I love these short story collection because they are very quick reads. Swords against Tomorrow is much like the old Flashing Swords series and Year's Best Fantasy series and has much the same cast of authors. I noticed that in the two final stories, by Jakes and Brackett, the heroes become altruist in the end. Jakes hero was Brak the Barbarian, of course, who surrenders the treasure of his adventure to restore the a town which had previously sold him into slavery. Brackett's hero, who could be Hans Solo with lines like; "Sister, will you for Pete's sake get that light out of my eyes," allows his own capture to insure the escape of the remnants of an alien race. Both these authors use a heroic quality rare in the Swords & Sorcery genre while Leiber's tale, Bazaar of the Bizarre, could be considered altruistic too since in involves Fafhrd rescuing Grey Mouser from his own foolishness.

Don't be fooled by my brief artistic evaluation of these tales, there is plenty of inspirational sorcery and bloodshed in these pages and I've posted the book at Paperback Swap for any who would like to read it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Polyhedral Newsbag

Last month (March) was the second anniversary of my game group, formerly known as the Old School Pastafari. We play on Tuesday nights and three of the original six members still gather with three new companions to roll funny dice or gather around a board game. We have played a number of different rpgs, most of them either old school or retro-clones; 1st Ed. AD&D, Labyrinth Lord, Encounter Critical, Mutant Future and we played d20 Spycraft for about a month.

With the ushering in and out of different players in the group we have developed a generation gap. It is funny how the younger players are the same age as my step-sons but I don't sense a generation gap around the game table. Well, on a personal note, I don't feel a generation gap with my step-sons either because they have been adults as long as I have known them. We now refer to our Tuesday night group, more or less officially, as the Adventure Capitalist.

This past fall I discovered that there was another rpg blogger in my own backyard of Knox County, Tn. I expediently attempted to contact this blogger when, through his blog, he expressed a desire for a group to run through his frpg setting. Around Halloween, he and his wife and another member of the OSP/A.C. and I met at a local game shop for a social ice breaker. This meeting lead to his becoming our DM, I believe, in November of last year and said DM/blogger is still lording over the territory of our game table.

His blog is still going strong too, much stronger than the ol' Polyester Dicebag. The blog is In Places Deep and I am the player of the recently deceased party magic-user Thign (we hardly knew ye.) My new M.U. will be known as Pilsen and will be my fourth character, all magic-users, in the Nightwick Abbey campaign. How's that for old school for ya, four characters in as many months into the game and I still haven't reached second level.

I'm enjoying playing in the Nightwick Abbey setting and maybe, if I intend to reach second level, I need to send my character running at the first sight of danger. That's most the news from the ol' Dicebag for today. I've been working on another adventure for Encounter Critical and intend to use the Adventure Capitalist as guinea pigs once it sufficiently reaches the play test stage. I'll probably be throwing some Swords & Sorcery bookish nonsense at you all next.

As we say in East Tennessee, "Have a good un."

--I see that Blogger indicates I posted this blog around 3:40 am. It's actually 7:40 am here in E.S.T.--

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Goodwill of San Diego

Yeah, I live in East Tennessee so why do I have a post titled Goodwill of San Diego? I think this may have been covered before but, if you have a book acquisition problem, as I do, do not visit this e-bay vendor;

Goodwill Industries of San Diego

I believe one of the other FRPG blogs may have mentioned this e-bay book vendor but I can't recall which blog it may have been. A few days ago I found the Pazio Planet Stories printing of R. E. Howard's Almuric through this Goodwill sale. The San Diego Goodwill only seems to sell books through e-bay and there are many more interesting books in their sell that gamers would be likely to enjoy reading and owning.

For example;

The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon

and The Gormenghast Novels of Mervyn Peake

I've given you all fair warning. Do not visit that vendor if you have a book acquisition problem. Happy reading!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Paizo Planet Stories, a question for the OSR blog o sphere

If you've read my blog you should have no doubt that I'm a bit nostalgic about books. And, as if I needed some more books, I feel the need to acquire the more of the Planet Stories publication series by Paizo. But I have searched high and low across the internet and can not find any complete list of the books that have been published in this series. Perhaps I haven't use my google-fu to my best ability on the Paizo website?

Can any of my fellow grognards inform me of such a list at some internet location?

Thanks and have a great Friday!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A silly new spell for silly gamers like me.

I tend to throw thing together for rpg games based on things I over hear around the gaming table or at the pub. (So be warned, I may steal your words.) For example, I could have sworn that I heard my game buddies talking about how to make a Dire Wolf. Apparently the process involves feeding kittens to a wolf cub? The things that come our of the mouths of gamers!

A bit later, the same night, I came up with this spell.

Sharkwave: This spell allows the caster to create a wave of salt water in his hands. The wave then crashes into the intended victim and produced a shark which promptly bites said victim for 1d12 of damage. There is a 50% chance that sorcerer can increase the number of sharks produced by one per level. The components for the spell are a sharks tooth and a vial of salt water.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What we write about when we write about rpgs.

Perhaps this should be titled; What we read when we read about rpgs. It has been noted that I read a lot and I have determined that all this reading is the equivalent of doing the research with out doing the writing. The writing does eventually come about but probably at a much slower pace than is desirable.

I was doing a bit of "research" recently, reading the ol' 2nd Ed. AD&D Dungeon Master Guide and I read a paragraph that looked familiar. I have reached the point in my reading and research career that I read almost all of a book. This is to say that I read the introductions and the "notes about the author" but am not likely to read the glossary or bibliography. So, I was reading the intro to ye ol' DMG and came to this section;

"The rules of the AD&D game are balanced and easy to use. No role-playing game we know of has been playtested more heavily than this one. But that doesn't mean it's perfect. What we consider to be right may be unbalanced or anachronistic in your campaign. The only thing that can make the AD&D game "right" for all players is the intelligent application of DM discretion."

I believe that passage speaks volumes about what is popularly called the "old school" attitude of fantasy role playing games. These ideas have been written, time and time again, across the blog-o-sphere; unlike the rules of chess, the rules of role playing games are not intended to be the final judge of an action in the game. Rather, the final judge are the ideas and attitudes of the members of individual game groups. But, rehashing old opinions about our hobby is not the point of this post.

Those sentences from the 2nd Ed. DMG reminded me of a passage at the beginning of another favorite rpg, Encounter Critical. I don't have any doubt that the author of E.C., S. John Ross, was familiar with that very passage or, at least, similar passages from various old rpgs. In the intro to E.C. he, in the voice of Hank Riley, writes:
" can enjoy the assurance that this is the only game we know of to include True Scientific Realism in every system. Combat, especially, derives from actual battle experience and from extensive research into the theories of tactical interplay... This is a complete fantasy and science fiction game in a single manual, but it is also the beginning of your greatest scenario, a foundation on which you can build."

"Although, as far as rules go,...(we prefer) a minimum of systems to keep track of: enough to know what your character can achieve, and enough to know who he can defeat, is enough!"

Perhaps these two passages are not as identical as I had initially thought but they certainly bare a resemblance in tone as they both imply; "this is the most highly playtested game to our knowledge." E.C. is a lampoon of the old style rpgs any way, but a very functional game itself, and that makes the comparison and likeness appropriate.

So, thanks to Zeb Cook and his team that created 2nd Ed. AD&D and thanks to John Ross and Dave Insel and Cody Reichenau for Encounter Critical, I have two more things to ramble on about as I approach my senility.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Random Thoughts

What was that weasel doing in the cobbler's shop anyway?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

These Lawless Worlds; a brief book review

This novel, based on the cover art, title and tag line, appears to be a harmless enough, if trashy, sci-fi novel. Some might describe the tale as total trash and young men, and women, might find it to be their wildest dreams in print. Mr. Comstock, who has no internet persona that I could find, has succeeded in writing a novel with more smut than one of the Gor series, which stay within the definition of soft-core. If works of fiction had a rating system, as movies do, this book would be rated X.

The plot is well written and, believe it our not, entertaining. The story is part Star Wars as written by Craig Shaw Gardner and part Law & Order featureing I-Robot written by Henry Miller. So, it is hard to imagine that the creative plot scenes where written by the same writer as the adult content. I’m willing to bet that the whole affair was probably written by committee. The book was a fun and unexpected side trip from my usual and much less sexy reading material.

Of course, when I say it is well written, this is to say the book is as good as most, or a lot of, mass market fiction. Since I could find very little information about the book on the internet I suspect that most the copies of Mr. Comstock’s work have been returned to pulp and the world will be none the wiser.

Fun with Microsoft Paint

Dialogue from the inhabitants of Encounter Critical’s Mighty Land of Vanth inserted into an anonymous old comic.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

This looks like what I should be reading!

So, I'm doing a little prep work for the Paperback Friday feature on my other blog, Fanatical Recycling Inc, and I found this image of a book I picked up at my fave local used book store.

As I've noted, I'm currently reading Caliban's Hour by Tad Williams. This is only the second book by Tad Williams that I have read but I do prefer Tad to many other popular fantasy fiction writers. Caliban's Hour is only two hundred pages long, I'll bump These Lawless Worlds to the "read it next" position on my reading list. 'Cause it's got the wacky hi-jinks of rpg all over that cover illustration!

phasic issue 3 is released upon the world!

phasic is a little fanzine for Encounter Critical created by Jeff of Jeffs Gameblog fame. I have followed his example and taken up the banner he began with the production of the initial issue of phasic a few years back. I have produced two issue of phasic in the past six months.

Issue number three is now available for download from Scirbd. This new issue is dedicated to the members of the E.C. yahoo group and the E.C. Blog Ring with thanks to the members of the yahoo group for their contributions to the 'zine.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Generic Fantasy RPG Character Sheet Revisited

I have been using my version of the generic rpg character sheet and determined that it needed a few tweaks. The tweaks are few but I think it helps the layout of the information on the sheet, at least, a little bit. I have stored the file at Scribd for needy gamers everywhere. (The file is in pdf format, of course.)

Generic frpg Character Sheet 2.0

On other fronts, I should be able to finish the rough draft of phasic #3 this week and share it with the guys in the Encounter Critical mail group. Once I finish the proof read stage, probably around Feb. 8th or 9th, I will post phasic #3 on Scribd too.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Book Review: A Business of Ferrets

Like most of my book acquisitions, when I requested this book from Paperback Swap, I selected it randomly. My request for A Business of Ferrets was based on the book being listed as a graphic novel but, upon receiving the book, I discovered that it is not a graphic novel but, a traditional, text novel. This caused me to question; why was this book listed as a graphic novel? Having just read A Business of Ferrets, I now have a good idea about the answer to this question.

A Business of Ferrets by Beth Hilgartner is aptly titled as it is the story of the young thief Ferret and her friends, Owl, Mouse, Squirrel, Donkey, Kitten and Sharkbait. The bond and innocence of this group of young friends is dangerously contrasted with the Council Houses of the court of the fantastic Empire of Bharaghlaf. Throughout the tale the Council Houses show how childish and irresponsible they can be.

The names of the children serve as a foil for the ultimate tone of the plot of A Business of Ferrets. Mrs. Hilgartner cleverly builds her tale in increasing steps of danger and intrigue. The children are Slum Rats and their rights as citizens of the Empire are tenuous, at best, in an Empire with no prohibition against the evils of slavery and drug distribution. Rather, these crimes are the very markets which are controlled by the Council Houses of the Empire of Bharaghlaf. Ferret and her friends become deeply and often uncomfortably involved with the Houses in the slow progress of this craftily constructed tale.

A Business of Ferrets begins without pretext but the trappings of the tale are those familiar in fantasy fiction; magic, myth, royal courts and intrigue and thieves guilds with knife fights in allies. I believe that A Business of Ferrets was listed as a graphic novel because the shocking nature of the climax of the tale which starts simply enough with a group of slum kids who’ve named themselves after woodland creatures.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Where does the Polyhedral Windbag blow?

I had a little hiatus from the entree-net during Nov. and Dec. and my work, at work, is busier during the winter. Earlier this month I was able to make some progress with the layout for issue three of phasic, an Encounter Critical fanzine I produce from time to time. It is a tiny little product and is nearing the proof reading stage. I think I can get the pdf published, at least, by the first of February. After phasic #3 is finished I intend to begin a project using the Mutant Future rules. But, I'm sure I'll have phasic #4 as a side project and, or some other E.C. related design.

I'll see you all again soon!