Friday, December 14, 2012

Let's talk about mechanics.

No, not game mechanics, robot mechanics in Encounter Critical or the weird science/fantasy game of your choice. I think every adventure that I have designed for E.C. has had a robot combatant in it. If all the robots in an rpg were exactly alike it would become predictable and boring so I came up with some quirks for my latest robot design.

Imagine, your players unwittingly stumble into a robot workshop. A super, fighter 'bot is being repaired here but it still has a programing issue or two. The helpless human technicians need the broken 'bot too defend them against the player characters. Will their attempt at mechanized self defense work?

Roll d100 once per round to determine movement  of any robot in ill repair:

01 – 25  The 'bot is malfunctioning and moving slowly; no attack.

26 – 50  'Bot is able to manage one clumsy attack this round.

51 – 75  'Bot musters two erratic but very fast attacks this round.

76 -- 00  Programming works fluidly for two consecutive rounds producing fluid attacks.

I have some other ideas but I believe this enough information for now.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Maliszewski Meme and Martin

And you guys thought you were late to the party...
Mr. Maliszewski started the meme of photos of our current RPG reference material. So, here's what I use the most; Labyrinth Lord and Encounter Critical. I keep telling myself that I'm going to use the AD&D DMG but it doesn't get referenced very often. My use of the Encounter Critical rulebook hasn't been up to par this year. Dang real life getting in the way of Role Playing Games!

I did leave one book out of the photo, the Holmes Basic rulebook which I look at more often then the DMG. Of course, Labyrinth Lord is the Basic D&D retroclone which prevents frequent references to the Holmes book.

Who's Martin you ask, George R. R. Martin of course. I've read 700 pages of A Storm of Swords and would like to think Mr. Martin is having some influence on my game and plot design but I can't be certain. Martin's approach to literary plot would seem a bit nontraditional, his use of the protagonist is disposable, literally. His writing is beautiful and flawless but don't become attached to any of the characters or factions in the Song of Fire and Ice series. I still have 300 pages to read in this novel and I am starting to wonder what characters will survive as material for the subsequent books in this series.

Now, back to the ol' drawing board. I promise to provide some gaming material in the next post since I have posted photos of books for the past two days.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What passes for quality reading around here...

Here are two of the latest acquisitions for my library. I discovered 100 Fantasy Short Short Stories through Paperback Swap. Yeah, these are some short, short stories and I question if, at least one of them, qualifies as a story at all. Barry N. Malzberg's The Second Shortest Short Fantasy Ever Ever Published is less than a page long and the last paragraph is:

"The bullet bullet lodged deep deep in his brain he pulled pulled the trigger the bullet lodged lodged deep in his brain brain he he pulled pulled the trigger trigger the bullet"

So this story ends, with no punctuation. That's not what passes as quality reading around here but it was a challenge to type. However, I'm sure I will get lots of enjoyment when I settle down with the rest of the short, short stories.

At the suggestion of I purchased Patrick Wetmore's Anomalous Subsurface Environment or ASE-1. I looked through the first twenty pages and I love this book! I shared it with the Adventure Capitalist last night and the all seemed to appreciate it too. I told the A.C. guys, "This guy wrote it just like I would and I'm sure I missed some of his inside jokes." If  you like swords & laser guns or mutants & magic you should definitely get a copy of Anomalous Subsurface Environment Vol. 1. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Krull-bots, an new kind of stormtrooper.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I reviewed the 1983 Science/Fantasy film Krull this past Sunday. I remember that movie from my youth, I am sure I watched it with my brothers on the good ol' VHS player. At the time, we probably thought that Krull would make a great plot for our D&D games. A plot which we never pursued as I recall.

Thirty years later, I found the movie nearly unwatchable. (I think I was typing something at the time.) There were a few elements which I can see putting into an rpg, be it D&D, Mutant Future or Encounter Critical. Today I'll create some Encounter Critical stats for what I call the Krull-bots.

Krull-bots or KR'83

Robodroid Warriors - Armor: 49% - Damage: by Laser Rifle 1 - 8 - Hit Points: 1 - 12

The KR'83 model 'droid warriors are the standard econo-line pawns of Evil Overlords throughout the Medieval Rim and the known, and unknown galactic systems. Gold can't buy these robot protectors but a days labor of the smallest copper mine can purchase a legion or mindless, electric servo protection  (500 units per legion.) This model is affective against unarmed peasants but is of little use against more experienced warriors or adventurers as one well placed hit renders the KR'83 into a heap of whining servos and frayed electronic circuits. No upgrades are available for this model at this time.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Phasic 5!

Yeah, yeah, I finally finished editing issue 5 of phasic, the Encounter Critical fanzine. This issue actually had five contributors, many thanks to these guys. There are a few scraps remaining, which I forgot to include, that I could use to start issue 6. That may be a project for next year? I've got an unfinished adventure design, or two, I want to work on before I start another issue of phasic.  Of course, if someone else would like to take up the editorially banner and produce a subsequent issue that would dandy too.

I posted the file, a pdf, on Google Drive and left it open for public viewing. It's here: phasic # 5

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dungeons & Dirigibles

 I know this has been done, but leave it to my DIY nature to reinvent the wheel, I think that's much the nature of the OSR, is reinventing the RPG wheel. While reading Frankenstein I began imagining what D&D, I mean original D&D, would be if Appendix N where composed of Shelley's Frankenstein, Stoker's Dracula, the Jules Verne catalogue and 1001 Arabian Nights.

First, the list of classes would be slightly different. There would be the traditional Fighters but they might be renamed Soldiers and magic users would be heavily focused on alchemy . All clerics would be Christian, Masonic, Muslim or Egyptian. (Gotta throw in the Masonic and Egyptology hooks.) Since Frankenstein is based on a scientist that recreates life, there would have to be a class called Professor, Surgeon or Scientist. (I like Surgeon.) There would have to be a rouge, scoundrel or beggar class and a specialist class that all classes could adopt, we'll call it Adventurer. The Adventurer subclass would allow characters to focus on weapon specialization, fine tuning their profession and/or exploration.

The weapons list would be different too, focusing mainly on cutlasses, rapiers, flint lock firearms, torches and pitchforks.

 Since Frankenstein was the source of these ideas I'll focus a bit more on the Surgeon class. In Shelley's tale, Frankenstein's creation was the central problem or obstacle of the plot. Within the scope of an RPG, the nature or personality of the creation, or Flesh Golems, could be variable.  V. Frankenstein struggled with the moral nature and responsibility of his creation and this wouldn't be the case with all, if any, player characters. The player character surgeons could, possibly, create any number of socially functioning Flesh Golems.

Now I'm thinking that this idea, which I'll call Dangers & Dirigibles, is most likely to become a set of rules for Encounter Critical. Which brings me to the obvious point that I'm way past any reasonable deadline for producing Phasic issue 5.  To be continued...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


That's, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I thought I'd dip into this classic. I have vague memories of reading it in college, now that I'm revisiting it, I hope no one has to suffer through this monstrosity to get an education these days.

It is just all too wordy for me. While I think the style of Frankenstein is just tedious Victorian romance, I can see the obvious influence on the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. In fact, the style reminds me of Journey to the Center of the Earth. Both are written as a series of letters which convey the action and plot to the reader. For example:

"This expedition has been the favourite dream of my early years. I have read with ardour the accounts of the various vouyages with have been made in the prospect of arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the pole. You may remember that a history of all the vouyages made for purposes of discovery composed the whole of our good uncle Thomas's library."

Shelley or Verne, I ask you? And, if it's Shelly, what's the North Pacific Ocean have to do with the tale of Frankenstein?

The influence of Mrs. Shelley's tale on subsequent literature, as well as society, are obvious and my complaints are as miniscule dust particles in the endless measure of the Milky Way. I've read one third of the book. We'll see if my intellectual appetite  can contain the remainder of this verbal flesh golem.

Monday, August 20, 2012

More Game Geek Eye Candy

I've been spending a bit of spare time down at the comic book shop. They don't know my rep. as an old school game geek but I think they are beginning to get the picture. (Maybe I'm just one of the quieter geeks?) I found a copy of Atari Force #1 on the 2 for $1 table and this photo is the ad from the back cover.

I don't recall the Power Lords toys. I was a high school student in the Atari Force days and more interested in reading the comics and playing some Basketball or Gamma World than acquiring the toys which co-responded with the comics.

Now that I'm an old school game geek, these Power Lords look like they'd fit right into an Encounter Critical game! I'll keep ya posted.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Look a' this!

I'm still lurking about and am, of course, grossly behind schedule on any projects I should be completing. The Adventure Capitalist have been roaming the halls of the Temple of Elemental Evil for about a month now and had a near TPK a couple of weeks ago. (We play each Tuesday evening, usually.) Funny, no mater how long we play frpgs, we seem to make the same silly mistakes over and over.

My main point here is, I just wanted to post this lovely illustration as a bit of gonzo gaming inspiration. I found this via Tumblr/Goddess of Smut. It's apparently by Chris Achilleos.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lamentations of the Flame Princess: July Grand Adventure Campaign wrap up

The LotFP July Grand Adventure Campaign has ended at Indigogo and you probably don't need to get your news or information on this topic from me. Perhaps we should just file this post under; Note to Self.

You can read the official wrap up at the LotFP blog, and probably have. Four of the nineteen campaigns funded, each was project had a funding goal of $6000. Yes, I contributed to each of these four projects. I didn't expect two of them to fund. I also contributed to one of the projects which did not fund.

I will be happy to be receiving prints of three new adventures some time in the near future and a pdf of a fourth adventure. Will I use them for Encounter Critical or Labyrinth Lord, only time will tell?

Besides the perks of these funding campaigns, my reward from this experience is; words and imagination are valuable. Of course, I have known this fact a long time but, perhaps now I'm reaching a point where I can use this knowledge. If I should ever attempt a crowd funding campaign, I believe I'd set my goal at $350. Would $350. pay for my time to write a "professional" adventure? No, but it would be a starting point and if I did a second crowd funding campaign I could set the goal at $650.

On the other hand, this is all just crazy talk and speculation.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Aquatic Trutle Rat stat block

Here's your stat block for the Aquatic Turtle Rat. I followed the Labyrinth Lord stat format:

Size: medium
No. Enc. 1d8
Align. Chaotic
Move. 120’
AC. 5
HD. 2
Att. 1 or 2 (claw, bite)
Damage: 1d6, 1d6
Save. F4
Morale. 8
HC. V or VI

Further Adventures with Lionel Fanthorpe

What is it about this Post-Pulp fiction that I am so fond of? I believe it is light, quick and enjoyable nature of these little novels that hold my interest. I've just started reading Orbit One by Lionel Fanthorpe and it is, at least, as light as Time Echo.

In the first thirty pages of Orbit One there is little to distinguish the book as a Science Fiction story. So far, the plot revolves around four central characters, one of which has just committed suicide, as far as we know. This could be any pulp mystery or espionage novel set around a corrupt director who stages a suicide to escape his corporate crimes.

The act that appears to be suicide, Director Fletcher Starbuck, who was an excellent pilot, wrecked his personal star ship. Other main characters are the chief investigator, a long time co-worker and friend of Starbuck, and Starbuck's second in command who will be come the new director once the mysterious events are resolved.

So, the setting; a colonial experiment on a distant planet. Other elements that hint at sci-fi are; hover craft and personal rocket-ships. These three elements alone base Orbit One in Science Fiction or I'd be reading  any ol' espionage novel. I'm not sure what I expect out of the first thirty pages of a book?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Aquatic Turtle Rats

I have been neglecting some other duties and contributing to the community project over at Rended Press. This has been a relaxing and productive distraction for me and I intend to continue to participate until the project is complete.

The process was made a bit easier with this creature creation drop table, also a product of MWSheemer, Mr. Rended Press himself. I randomized the Aquatic Turtle Rat, here's an edit of the description I wrote for the community project;

"These aquatic turtle rodents have a head much like a rabbit with a long neck leading into their turtle like shells. Their powerful webbed forelimbs resemble a wolves, including claws. [1d6 damage] Their webbed hind limbs are more reminiscent of a rat with the shell and tail of a turtle. The shells of adult Turtle Rats average four feet from head to tail.

Turtle-rats are quick carnivorous scavengers, usually encountered in schools of 1d8 members. They will attack by springing forward with their powerful front legs and attempt to bite and, or claw their intended prey. [Two attacks per round possible.] The waters near their homes usually contain the remains of their past prey, including any valuables owned by these previous victims. These remains and treasure may be found at the bottom of the Turtle Rats watery abode."

So, the Aquatic Turtle Rat is classified as a medium sized creature but I haven't created a "stat block" for them. I'm certain your all capable of adapting the A.T.R. to your own needs if  you so desire. 

Now I have to solicit some illustrations for the Aquatic Turtle Rats.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Time Echo by Lionel Fanthorpe

The "splash" or "tag line" for Time Echo reads, "Out of the gray mist vague shapes were forming." Here's some gray mist for ya, I've devised my own category for these old paperbacks, which are not old enough to fit in the Pulp Fiction category, I call them Post-Pulp. The whole lot of them, the second generation Fantasy and  Sci-Fi writers, Fanthorpe, Carter, Stableford, they're all Post-Pulp.

Fanthorpe's the pulpiest of them all, his work borders on the Action-Adventure genre which isn't, normally, on my reading list. Time Echo has a simple enough plot; set in the year 2309, protagonist, Mike Grafton, flees the forces of dictator Rajak the Magnificent and stumbles into a time-machine during his escape. That stumble into the time machine is where Fanthorpe begins to work his pulpy magic, or the art of the vague gray mist. Grafton goes back in time to 1809 and Fanthorpe's backdrop is now, conveniently, the Napoleonic campaign. Fanthorpe doesn't pass up the opportunity to give us a four page biography of Napoleon's rise to military power. 

This book is only 144 pages long and, by page 88, I could not see Fanthorpe resolving his plot at the finish line. This tale reads like a writing experiment in character development. Each character introduced to the story gets many pages dedicated to their physical, psychological and emotional investment in the plot. This technique doesn't progress, enrich or support the plot line but, does add to Fanthorpe's word count and leaves the book wide open for plot flaws.

The most outstanding flaw in Time Echo is this line, "This was more that the art of any Houdini." Vague gray mist and all, this phrase is used by an Englishman, a native to the 19th Century,  seventy years before Houdini was born.

Fanthorpe spends about twenty-five pages each introducing the four central characters of the tale. Then, he ties up the plot with his trademark psychedelic scene. In a chapter titled "Realm of Insanity" two of the main characters enter a dimensional travel device, or vehicle, too, again, escape the security forces of Rajak the Magnificent. The dimensional travel device is, of course, untested but should take the passengers to an alternate Earth. Instead, it takes them on a seemly unending ride in the Tardis where a kaleidoscope of colors serves as a backdrop for multiple alien images and scenery. Due to a short circuit, the passengers eventually return  to their own dimension and time, Earth, 2903.

There is a lovable quality to Fanthorpe's work, a child like simplicity in the stories which don't require a basis in logic. Lists of random items seem to compose his tales; time travel, the Napoleonic Era and George Orwell's Eurasia all stew into a "time echo." The setting, 2309: Eurasia, could be the far future of Orwell's 1984 which Fanthorpe pays homage to in the following lines, "What, the cigarettes? ... These are only cheap ones; the good ones, now, that's what I call a smoke, but you can't get them unless you’re a member of the inner party." 

Inner Party member or no, Fanthorpe's many books are fun, relaxing reads emphasizing the occasional simple joy of a twisted, chaotic plot line.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I am A.D.D.

You will never hear me say the previous phrase. I have never been diagnosed with A.D.D. but I do have many interests. Our 21st Century life style creates situations which resemble A.D.D. We have to; go to work, get the kids, cook dinner, do the laundry and we call this multitasking. That's my evidence that I do not have A.D.D., I have limited time to dedicate to my personal interests.

I should be working on issue five of Phasic but can't quit thinking about running an E.C. campaign, there are so many unexplored areas in E.C. The whole array of rules and the game mechanics are uncharted territory for gaming.

 For example:

The Warlock: There is no traditional, sprawling list of spells in E.C. and spells are not level specific.

Weapons of Power: With the hit bonuses provided in E.C. there's going to have to be an array of power weapons and armor to fight the increasingly powerful player characters.

My intention is to attempt to play E.C. as written. We all acknowledge that no one played AD&D "by the book." We were all playing Basic D&D with the AD&D elements plugged in where we liked. I am afraid I will bring the same approach to playing multiple secessions of E.C. I already have some preconceived ideas about how the game mechanics will progress. Combat saves will slow down progress but will provide a chance that n.p.c.s will survive the combat bonus happy player characters. I also can't agree with, "Attacks go in the same order, melee first, then missile." (p. 22) That ain't gonna happen, it's just illogical.

So, here's an updated list of elements I intend to use in Assignment: Outpost 6986:
1. Encounter Critical, Second Corrected Edition rule book
2. Time Echo by Lionel Fanthrope (very pulp Sci-Fi)
3. Epic Illustrated magazine
4. Adventure Time, season 1
5. A Trio of New Encounter Critical Races

As for the content from Time Echo, the antagonist in Time Echo is named Rajak the Magnificent. He's an evil dictator, like Darth Viraxis, I'll be using this name for the Warlock boss in the campaign plot.

So, enough of this nonsense for now. It has been suggested that I'm O.C.D. and I think that might be a bit more on the mark.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Malevolent & Benign; Phasic Tumblr Archives

I was looking at my blog roll this weekend and discovered that, last October, Max of the Malevolent and Benign blog had posted a message about his new Tumblr account dedicated to Encounter Critical. He calls it the Phasic Archives and he's still updating it, almost daily. Malevolent & Benign is one of the oldest rpg blogs to mention E.C. and certainly out dates my sophomoric synopsizes.

I had to take a stroll through these pics and found this Walking Eye. I will definitely be using these in the E.C. campaign which I'm brewing up.

It also occurred to me today that it would make much more sense if the scale for the map of the Might Land, from the E.C. rule book, was 500 miles per inch, rather than, 50 miles per inch. I'm not advocating that the scale of the map be officially changed, this is just  food for thought during my design process.

I might as well throw in a few design notes; the theme of the campaign is, Assignment: Outpost 6986.
-- Outpost 6986 is an abandoned and forgotten Vulkin installation from before the Fall of the Sky Gods.
-- P.C.s are recruited to locate the outpost and recover any lost tech. it may hold.
-- Campaign will included at least one random element from; Adventure Time: Season 1, Epic Illustrated
     and  the Lionel Fanthorpe novel Time Echo.

So, stay out of the heat ya street urchins and I'll try to do the same.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Defining an OSR Elf

As I've have mentioned, I play a race as class Elf in our Labyrinth Lord game and leveled up this week. With my advance to 4th level I gain improved saving throws and improved to hit scores. I think these improved saves are where the mathematics of the game play a part in defining the "nature" of an elf.

For a 1st to 3rd level elf the save vs. poison target is 12 which is a pretty excellent saving throw. At 4th level all of my saves are 13 or lower, these are the stats that will eventually allow me to shed the plate mail and begin to feel like an honest elf. (My alignment is neutral so I can feel honest, in character, about nearly anything.)

I gain one second level spell at 4th level and can now use 2, 1st level and 2, 2nd level spells per day. This is all "old hat" to most of you but, I was getting by pretty well with a combination of Sleep, Charm Person and Shrink and now get to add another second level spell each day.

Now, to hire a henchman or two and get the Wand of Magic Missile recharged...!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No door on the west wall. (Polyhedral Newsbag)

Last night, my game group, the Adventure Capitalist, met to play Labyrinth Lord as we do nearly every Tuesday evening. We're in the middle of the game, I'm reading some old notes I had made when I was creating the name for the blog, and I hear our D.M. say, "there's no door on the west wall." I think, "that would be a good name for a blog too." One of the names on the list I was reading was "1d4+4" which is silly stuff but could be a fine name for a blog.

We are playing the Temple of Elemental Evil, yeah we use the Advance Labyrinth Companion. I've never visited the T.E.E. before and, if any of the other guys have they're not ruining it for the rest of us. My character, Leerc Sirc, a race as class elf, just reached level 4. My h.p. is 19 but my A.C. is 3 (plate, of course!) I mostly stay in the back of the party and use my Wand of Magic Missiles or a long bow and need to hire a body guard so I'm not the last guy in our line of adventures.

I've been trying identify what really defines my character as and Elf. I don't believe it's the ability to wear plate and cast spells. Perhaps it's the spell casting and archery and the smarts to use the bow thus improving his chances of survival? I am probably putting too much consideration into the psychology of an imaginary character. 

In other news: I'm still working on the layout for the E.C. fanzine #5 and progress is still slow, I'm not going to make my deadline of June 30. I think the middle of July is going to be a more realistic deadline.

But, the E.C. wheels are still churning up in the old noggin. I have had the idea of running an E.C. champaign for a few months and have written some notes to this effect. I'm not sure who I'll get to play this though? I don't think the A.C. will want to part with their Labyrinth Lord fun. But, they have been known to surprise me, our current D.M. might like a break too. More news as this develops, honest!

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Blogger thing-a-ma-bob, watch out!

So, we've had this new Blogger layout for a while now, all year I guess? And, now that I have some spare time to revisit the Blog-o-sphere, I've noticed at least two bugs. 1. Earlier this week some one hacked the blog Save vs. Spells and made it "Personal Financial Planing." I'm sure a few other folks noticed this too. The hacker basically hacked new info into the blog, thus filling up the blog roll.

Which leads to number 2: How do ya delete a blog from you reading list in this new format? I had to go back to the old format to remove Save vs. Spells. Today I found that Embrace the Dungeon was hacked a month ago and changed to "Animal Pets" and filled with advice concerning domestic pets.

 Guard your passwords gentlemen, change them early and/ or often. If you go on a hiatus, at least, log into your Blogger/ Google account from time to time to run off the vermin of the entree-net. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Call for Illustrations...

Yes, the Polyhedral Dicebag has risen from it's late spring slumber! And thus, the production of  the Phasic Special, Damnation, Issue is back on track with a production deadline of June 30. But, I need some cover art for the old girl. I know many top-notch illustrators are out their surfing the inter-webs and I'm appealing to one, or two, of you to dedicate your lunch hour to a super doodle of a vehicle of destruction and mayhem on a level that can only be described as scientific realism. Forward any contributions to my e-mail address, which I believe you can find around here somewhere, thanks.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Damnation Vans I have known

Yeah, I've been away. Well, I've actually been right here  but my internet time has been all focused on work, the job, making the doughnuts, etc.About a month ago, I did announce on the Encounter Critical yahoo group  that I'll be doing a Special, Damnation, Issue of  phasic, the E.C. fanzine. I even read the novel, Damnation Alley by Roger Zelanzy in preparation for this special edition. Um, yeah, more on that later.

I've gotten a hand full of submission and haven't written a thing for this issue. The submissions include  material by a pretty heavy hitter in rpg writing and blogging circles. This is good, to have an issue of phasic in which I'm not the contributor of the majority of the material. I think I will do an illustration for the issue as my sole contribution.

If any of you Polyhedral readers would like to get in on the act, just write some nonsense about a transportation device for an rpg and e-mail it my way. (Do I need to give ya my e-mail?) By "an rpg" I mean, it needs to be  Encounter Critical  compatible. I feel that E.C. is pretty compatible with the early editions of Basic D&D and BRPG. (Isn't that the Ruin Quest system or somethin'?)  If you have ever played an rpg you're probably in the ball park for E.C. material creation.

So, for your viewing pleasure, here's a photo of a Damnation Van I've known. I took the photo, if that counts as "knowing" it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Help needed to recreat the art of Deities & Demi Gods

I am sure that most of the rpg blog-o-sphere is, by now, familiar with Kickstarter programs. And, you have probably heard that Jeff Dee is recreating long lost illustrations from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. (I'm assuming you all know this story.)

Now, if you have a buck or twenty, is the time to help with another Kickstarter program. This one is to recreate illustrations from Deities and Demi Gods that are the work of Diesel LaForce. There are only five days left to fund this project but over $1500. needs to be raised. You know you need another old school illustration to decorate your huge ruined pile. (I mean humble domain, of course.) When payday rolls around this weekend you can treat yourself, and some loved ones if ya like, and pledge your support to this program.

Now I'm gonna go up-date my resume and send it to my local NPR affiliate.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Yor: The Hunter from the Future

How have I missed this? It came out in 1983 but it looks like it was produced in 1976. It's got cavemen, cave-women, fire, floods, some funky looking space craft, explosions and more! Thanks to Jay's Gamma World War tumbler page for enlightening me with this Yor promo poster.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Faces of Vanth: Darth Viraxis & Co.

Yes folks today the image of Darth Viraxis will be exposed to the world. If you have read the Darth Viraxis f.a.q. you will know what to expect, if not, be warned as you may find the image startling and disconcerting. But first...

I'd like to share a bit of Encounter Critical news. No, Fifth Edition of E.C. is not in the works. In fact, a second edition of E.C. is not in the works, barring the Labyrinth Critical project. But it has come to my attention that E.C. is now being played in, at least, two languages. English we know and now a group of Portuguese speaks have posted their E.C. experience on the entree'-net. You can see some dandy picks from their game session (they had brownies and ice cream!) and read about it here.

Now I drag out Darth Viraxis and Court. First we have my rendering of the Viraxian Guard. These guys are basically Darth Viraxis' Stormtroopers or Red Shirts. Yeah, their supposed to expendable so, might as well get a laugh at their expense.

Why's that guy got green hair? Why not and it gives him the distinguished weirdo look, just the look for one of Darth Viraxis' personal guards. Here's the man himself, the titanic tyrant of the Might Land and parts beyond...

I will not go into the details of why D.V. wears fuchsia armor exclusively. Despite his appearances, he is not a man to underestimate. After all, he is the commander of the Empire of Darth Viraxis! About the image design, I wish I had given him a flint lock pistol in his right hand rather than that weird looking blade he's holding but it's good for now.

Here are the guys that you, player characters, don't want to tangle, or tango, with. `The Virazian Marines are my red flag in the game, they enforce game balance and plot continuity. Player Character stats go to a possible 18, the Viraxian Marines stats go to 20. If the P.C.s are level 1 then the V.M. will be level 3 and they will always have superior weapons and technology too. So be sure not to make fun of the fuchsia insignia on their armor.
I've made a few more images for the Vanth setting. I thought I would try to represent all of the possible races. I have done a few Frankensteins and an Ape Sultan commoner but haven't done an Amazon or a Lizard Man. I don't really fell a need to produce images of these last two. Hero Machine really isn't designed to produce Robodriod images. Oh, I did make one Vulkin but haven't done a Klingon yet. I'll roll out whatever I can throw together over the next week or so.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Faces of Vanth: Goblings

Segment two of the faces of Vanth features the Gobling race. A dream race comprised of the magical or, nature forbid, the biological cross between the Goblin and Hobling races. Example number one must lean heavily toward the Hobling side of the family. He's a sharp dresser and is ready for adventure with his leather armor, sturdy gloves and a torch. (Do demi-humans have infer-vision in E.C.?) He also has a dandy looking dagger that's probably a family heirloom. This chap looks like he'd have an Intelligence score around 12, pretty high by Gobling standards.

Gobling number two is an example of your more common Gobling, old leather armor, blood stained clothing and the same weapon ol' Gram-pa Gobling used to bash his way out of the caves each morning. He dose retain the Hobling tendency for snappy fashion sense!

Did someone get up out of the wrong side of the bed or did they wonder a bit too close to the Phasic Swamp? Either way, I designed this guy as a Mutant Gobling but I guess he could be a mutant anything with and enlarged cerebral hemisphere, weird ears, one enlarged hand and one cloven hoof. He has wide array of weapons and assorted armor and, true to his Hobling heritage, he's still got a plaid sash under the utility bandolier which he found, Kong knows where.

Lastly, for today, we have an example of a Bionic or Cyborg Gobling. What more do I need to say about this guy? If he doesn't get you with the energy weapon he has for a left forearm, watch out for that crowbar!
So far, I've only designed enough images for one more post. But time is certainly on my side in our temporally deceptive world of the Blog-0-sphere. Don't miss tomorrow's post when I reveal images of Darth Viraxis and his Viraxian Guard.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The many faces of Vanth: Hoblings

Arcadian over at No Signal! has been working on a project he is calling Labyrinth Critical. He's converting the races and classes of Encounter Critical for use with the Labyrinth Lord rules. He's certainly got my support, as well as, the support of every other E.C. nerd in existence I'd imagine.

So, the ol' creative wheels started turning and I started using Hero Machine to render images of the folks which I imagine inhabit the Mighty Land of Vanth. Here are my ideas of representatives from the Hobling race. Example one is a fairly average Hobling, he could even pass as a Halfling, gawd forbid, in other game settings.

Image two represents what player characters might experience as their first contact with the Hobling race and the third image represents the appearance of a Hobling Commoner. The advanced options in Hero Machine includes a pair of Bunny Slippers which I intended to put on Commoner #2. But the Bunny Slippers didn't load with the program, I'll be sure to use those slippers later.

I have only designed one female Hobling and this greatly confused Sally. Not because there is only one female, like Smurfette, but Sally didn't understand why she had short hair and furry feet. Once the image was finished, I labeled it and explained that she's a Hoblizon. Her bright crimson armor gives me the impression that she may be a security guard from the Xanadu Casino in Tidy Island Bay on the Mercenary Coast. Watch out for the semi-automatic in her shin holster!
Tomorrow I'll present the Goblings. (half Goblin & half Hobling)

Monday, January 23, 2012

A few more comments on the Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book

It turns out that the S.W.G.P.B & T.G. is divided into three sections. The first part is the fictional Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide. The second part is a discussion of the development of the sounds and languages of the Star Wars franchise and the brief third part is Selected Alien Language Scenes from Star Wars.

In my previous article about the S.W.G.P.B.& Travel Guide I did not give any information about the author, Ben Burtt who was a sound engineer on the first three Star Wars movies. Mr. Burtt also worked on E.T., Alien, Indiana Jones, and The Phantom Menace. (Just to name the movies mentioned in S.W.G.P.B.& T.G.) So, this is a guy who has played a very influential role in the entertainment industry for the last forty years. I certainly enjoyed section two, titled Behind the Sounds, which provides a first hand account of his work and development of the major languages, and sounds, for Star Wars.

I wanted to share this one antidote from the development of Ewokese. Too add emotional elements, realism and believability, the languages of Star Wars where loosely based on actual spoken languages. Voice actors for these languages were most often native speakers with no training in theater. Ewokese became based upon Tibetan and other languages from that region. Here Mr. Burtt describes he search for native speakers while Ewokese was being developed.

"As I continued to search about, another unusual individual turned up, an eighty-year-old Mongolian tribeswoman who had just recently, and for the first time, been brought to urban civilization. She spoke no English, but was congenial, as long as she had a desired beverage on hand. We called her Grandma Vodka, and she spoke Kalmuck. With shot glass in hand, she exuded some very charming folktales in a raspy high-pitched voice that inspired Ewok." (p. 150 - 151)

The fun and irony of the above antidote really made me laugh.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cloak of Elviskind

This is definitely going to show up in an Encounter Critical adventure. Thanks Daddy Grognard!

Now I'll get back to my current dungeon design, The Fargin' Ice Whole.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jumping on Zak's 23 Questions Bandwagon

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?

Hum, I would like to hope that my Raiders of the Mercenary Coast adventure, written for Encounter Critical, is wacky enough to be enjoyed by any with an interest in playing it.

2. When was the last time you GMed?

It has been over a year now but not for lack of trying.

3. When was the last time you played?

I played Labyrinth Lord this past Tuesday with my fellow Adventure Capitalist.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.

Using the Mutant Future rules, your a mixed race group of space explorers who have just crash-landed on an unexplored planet.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?

Look at my notes to prepare for what they may do next.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?

We usually eat salty snacks and beer, occasionally chocolate, it dependent on what foods are brought to the game each week.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?


8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?

A few weeks ago I lead the party in singing Happy Birthday to an ogre as attempt to prevent it from attacking us.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?

I've been running Encounter Critical for the past few years so there's little question of seriousness in the game setting.

10. What do you do with goblins?

Goblins play hockey in the warehouse in Raiders of the Mercenary Coast.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?

I made a Rube Goldberg devise for the final escape for another E.C. game.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?

Other then singing Happy Birthday to an Ogre? When I learned an important lesson about NPC placement when the players killed the Doxy in an E.C. game.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?

I was actually working on a adventure for Labyrinth Lord last month and looking at the L.L rules, Fiend Folio and AD&D Monster Manuel 2 to stock the dungeon. I also read a bit of the old Hackmaster Players Handbook last year.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?

Erol Otis, Jeff Dee, Dave Trampier, Larry Elmore and I like many of the new guys too, Steve Zeiser, Stefan Poag, Peter Mullen, Evil Schemer and probably a few, old and new, that I've forgotten about.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?

Yeah, I think they are always afraid of what I'm going to try to submit them to next.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)

Unbelievably, the only adventure that I can remember running that I didn't write was the sample dungeon from the Holmes Basic rules. I should really get out more often!

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?

We have a pretty sweet setting in my buddies basement and I've considered running a game outside on a warm day. I like Jeff's suggestion of the round table by a lake on a sunny day, that's pretty hard to beat. I'd bring a pitcher of Margaritas to that setting too.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?

I've got a real itch to get my hands, or eyes at least, on first edition copies of Tunnels & Trolls and Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. On a more reasonable and obtainable note, I hope to play around with Risus this year.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?

Holmes Basic Dungeons & Dragons, Tolkien's short stories, Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham and first edition Gamma World. Oh yeah, comics, DC's Mysteries in Space and Warlord and Marvel's Micronauts.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?


21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?

I used some trivia I heard on NPR to design some puzzles in an adventure.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?

The "Turn off the Internet so you can get some writing done" Devise.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?

I mention the wacky hijinks that occur around our game table to any friend, co-worker or family member who will listen and often garner laughter during these conversations. Most frequently, I speak with my wife about our games. She says she is no good at strategy games and I have explained that I think she is confusing rpgs with war games. I have considered designing a vampire hunter adventure to run at one of our occasional gamer cookouts but the idea's still on the drawing board.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bee Girl t-shirt design proposal

As suggest by my acquaintance Cygnus from the blog Servitor Ludi, here is my mockup of a Bee Girl t-shirt design. I need to give credit to Jaime Ibarra Photography as the owner of the image I used here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide

I am currently reading the Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book and Travel Guide by Ben Burtt which I just received last week from Paperback Swap dot Com. I thought this looked like a fun and funny book and my guesstimation was correct.

I have not spent much time playing Sci-Fi rpgs but I always seem to have some Sci-Fi related game ideas floating around. I probably wouldn't play a Star Wars rpg because I wouldn't know where to start the game. My approach to a Sci-fi game would involve the Mutant Future rules applied to any phaser and planet idea I may have in mind. Of course, Encounter Critical rules could be applied to any game genre a geek might want to try.

No mater what your rule set, the Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book and Travel Guide could be useful for adding some details to the setting. This quote could help set the scene if the setting is among the stars; "Thanks to the absence of open warfare in the space lanes, and the dry-docking of Imperial Interdictor cruisers responsible for pulling craft out of hyperspace during the recent Rebellion, you may be among the many who find it relatively safe and economical to cross space again." (p. 17) This sounds like Ben Burtt's been crossing his Star Wars with Doug Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide which is fine and fun and right up the ol' home brew Sci-Fi alley.

I've read 71 pages of this book and it's given me plenty of possible adventure seeds already. Here's a useable quote from Hutt cultural history, "the Baobab Archives have uncovered tablets in archaeological diggings on the moons of Varl (the Hutt home world) showing ransom notes written in ancient Huttese at least 1000 years ago." (p. 31)

Do you want to run some player characters through Mos Eisley? "Mos Eisley .... has less scum (and villiainy) nowadays. The recent cleanup (by Imperial Troops) has helped stimulate the tourist and business trade." (p. 32) Chapter Three, Survival in Huttese, contains three pages on Mos Eisely with details of hostels, markets and dinning establishments.

How about the Forest Moon of Endor, what's been happening there after the Jedi returned? We learn this on page 49, "There have been several privately funded salvage expeditions to retrieve valuable hardware, the most significant being the hire and transport of 480 Jawas from Tattoonie ... to clean up the wreckage. Last reports indicate they mutinied and formed a roving bandit gang that had been known to prey on innocent visitors. No one has been hurt, but..."

Lastly, for now, if you're running a Star Wars game or Encounter Critical, perhaps your playing your own home brew Planet Algol setting, and you need some Wookiee terms, the phrase "Huwaa muaa mumwa," is certain to come in handy. (Can I buy you a drink?)

I'd like to mention that I also received an abridged edition, 160 pages, of Gargantua and Pantagruel from Paperback Swap last week. I am certain it will be full of potential gaming fun too. I may include more from the Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book and Travel Guide in another post but, for now, I leave you with this Ewok phrase;

Allayloo ta nuv, coatee-cha tu yub nub.
(Celebrate the love, celebrate the freedom.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

A shirt for S. John Ross to sell

Hello, Hello, fellow friends of the rpg blog-o-verse and happy 2012 to you all. I certainly hope to be rolling out a few rpg blog posts this year. My average of four posts each month should be easy to maintain. I have a few incomplete rpg projects which were left lingering on the drafting table last year. I will continue to revise, polish and complete these projects and post the results for all to enjoy or ignore, as you may be inclined.

Here's an idea I had in the past few months and just threw together this morning, an Encounter Critical Brand t-shirt. That is, if Encounter Critical can be said to be an actual "brand." It's as good a brand as any in our modern age and is certainly well supported with branding at Cumberland Games and Diversions where it's supported by books, pdfs, bumper stickers, web links and t-shrits.

I hope this bit of silliness garners a giggle out of you. I'm gonna get back to the ol' drawing board and will be typing to you again in the near future.