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.