More Awesome OSR Sale

DrivethruRPG's annual OSR sale continues through the end of the week (A little over four days left!) and if you haven't taken a look at all the amazing OSR products available (even stuff from yours truly) you really should.  

Here is a quick list of some of my favorite picks* (in no order):

Eldritch Tales from Raven God Games
How Orcus Stole Christmas from Frog God Games
The Codex of the Black Sun from Sine Nomine Games
Shards of Urflkin from Small Niche Games
Mutant Future Revised Edition from Goblinoid Games

* All third-party products are marked with an affiliate link and a small portion of sales through that link will be paid from OBS to GLG.

Night of the Slashers Part 1 - Dead by Daylight

One night several weeks ago my daughter (14) had a sleep over ... she and her friends decided to use my Plex server to binge watch every Slasher flick I had ... at 11 pm after only Halloween 1 & 2 and Friday the 13th Part 1 the internet died and four somewhat scared and bored girls approached me to entertain them.  You see my daughter had explained to them that I was a published GM ... I kept with the tradition of sleep over horror and introduced them to a world of pain, suffering, and small engine repair!

Dead by Daylight has been one of my favorite online games for the past two years.  The game has led to many nights of creepy through old barns, factories, asylums, etc trying to avoid being killed ... or trying to find those sultry teenagers to kill them.  During my short stint as a TWITCH streamer, Dead by Daylight was my go-to source of streaming content and to this day features some amazing streams.

A little on Dead by Daylight

 It is an asymmetrical pvp game in which 4 survivors need to outwit, outlast, and eventually escape a Slasher (as of this writing there are 10+ Slashers including Michael Meyers, Freddy Krugger, and Leatherface ... I'm hoping for Chucky this Halloween) by repairing and activating five generators which operate an escape door.  From the Survivors' side this is a harrowing experience as the Slasher cannot be killed, cannot be fought against, and can only momentarily be stopped by blinding him with a flashlight tool.  The only true option is to run, run as fast as you can and hope to escape ... if only for a moment.

Each of the Survivors have options for special skills, some heal fast, others run quickly, still, others are strong, and others still are better at repairing the generators.  To truly survive and escape the Survivors need to play a complex game balancing the need for cooperation with the reality that sometimes your own well-being is more important (especially when a guy with a chainsaw is after you).

The Original Survivors.

Conversely, the Slashers are insanely powerful, gifted with strange abilities and paranormal focus.  Each of the killers gets special perks and abilities that allow them to either outperform the Survivors or drive them slowly insane.  Michael Meyers may be slow but the longer he stalks a Survivor the stronger and more lethal his strike is.  The Doctor can cause hallucinations in his victims making them see him around every corner, slowing them as they cope with their deteriorating mental state.

The goal for the Slasher is to stalk, capture and sacrifice each of the Survivors to a Dark Entity who drives the Slashers forward forcing them and rewarding them for the blood they shed on the world.

Because of this nature, the near cat-and-mouse design Dead by Daylight can be an intriguing, adrenaline coursing event ... It can also be an extremely fustrating one depending on the skill and experience gap of the players.

Night of the Slashers

Night of the Slashers (NotS) is a take on the Slasher genre of horror movies for Swords and Wizardry by Neoplastic Games and takes a rather similiar approach to its modded S&W OSR system as Dead by Daylight.  In NotS you are offered several stereotypical teen archtypes:  The Jock, The Prep, The Goth, etc and are forced through the will of the DM to survive a night against a murderous, nearly unkillable being of pure hatred and chaos. While there are rules for creating your teen, there is also a provided pregen of that teen.  For me the provided pregens elevate the game as it makes it into a quick pick-up style game, which this type of genre is far more suited for.  The rules for creating the Slasher are wonderfully random, taking place on various tables and charts that lend a creepy and in some cases justifiable reason for the Slasher's need for teen blood (Like Mrs. Voorhees).

The mod of S&W is short, sweet, and delightfully fun to work with and play with.  I had been looking for an excuse to really sic my teeth (or in this case hedgeslippers) into it.

One Night at the Stathound Ranch

Copyright 2018 - Neoplastic Press
 The girls sat around the table clutching herbal iced teas and a few bags of nachos (somethings never change!) each holding a print-out of their chosen archtype:

Bonny the Cheerleader (Jock)
Steph the Queenbee (Prep)
Jade the Sukiban (Rebel) - Also my daughter's  character
Tina the "Witch" (Loner)

It was party make-up despite the fact that the girls covered all four available classes in the pdf and really  did their best to make those pregens their own in a short amount of time I gave them before play started.  What interested me more is the girls really did their best to play "different" than reality, opting to be strangers, enemies or (in the case of Tina and Jade) bitter rivals.

Like the girls I had little time to prep this and was mostly going off of their real world friendships being somewhat key ... oh boy was I wrong.

Orginially I had planned to base the Slasher's turf in a condemned convent, with the Slasher being a demonic nun.  All the girls had seen The Nun and thus would make connections that wouldn't be there in my game but just as frieghtening due to memory.  However, given the antaganistic nature the girls took which each other, I decided to go a different direction and one that was close to home for this 3/4 group of natural born Texan girls.

Instead of a convent the girls would be trapped in a ranch, one that hadn't been around for near fifty years and surrounded on all sides by piles of construction equipment.  The Stathound family had been upstanding members of their small community but when the housing boom occured the local county government got a little too greedy and forcably took the land from the Stathound family, causing the family to become penniless.  Soon after the family disappeared, along with the barn and farmhouse.

While developments, condos and highways have taken over the form ranch, however, if anyone happens to be at a certain crossroad on the anniversery of the stealing of the land that person would vanish to never be seen again.  That crossroads sorrounds the area of the former farmhouse and acts like a gateway to another space outside of time.

This is where the characters find themselves after being involved in an accident involving both cars at that crossroads ... What happens next is a story for tommorrow.

Where are the Pets?

Humans have had animal companions since before we had written language, barely had agroculture, and still thought a good layer of dirt was a good way to stay healthy.  Our pets have followed us throughout time, history, culture and art ... and yet, despite there being rules in place for them, I have rarely ever seen pets in a roleplaying game.  Yes, I've seen familiars, I've seen a Ranger's animal companion but not pets.  Where is the sword-wielding farmboy's faithful dog who refused to stay behind when her master ran off to adventure and came with?  Where is swashbuckler's cliche parrot, spouting sarcastic comebacks to his master's corny one-liners?

I started to think of this utter lack of pets when I was trying to get in to a Fantasyground's Pathfinder game.  I was in a hurry so I used HeroForge to create my character, a Cleric to some God of Justice when I noticed I could have a companion, I looked into it and found I could have a pet!  So My Cleric of the God of Justice was presented to the world with her faithful pet ferret "Bandit".  The GM turned down my application and was very honest with his reasons:  Pets don't belong in roleplaying game.

This got me thinking, why not?  Can only the Ranger or Wizard have an animal by their side? 

Personally, I think not and I challenge everyone who reads this blog, have a pet for even one game, share its sheet, share story ... show that pets can exist in the game as more than just a tool in a class's utility belt.

Marvel's Conan the Barbarian Issue 1

When I was of the wee age of seven my step-father took me to a local comic convention in Reading.  It wasn't like what my seven-year-old mind thought and I found myself rather disappointed to see booth after booth after booth of Tri-State comic shops selling old stock and collectables.  No Stan Lee, no Neal Adams, none of the few names I knew at seven; just pot-bellied old men trying to get 10-bucks for a comic about a scantily clad vampire with a silly name.

The one highlight for seven-year-old me though was the gift that I got from the check-in desk after my step-father paid for us to get in.  A 1978 Savage Sword of Conan magazine from Marvel comics.  It was large, black-and-white and filled with amazing tales of swords and magic, gods and demons ... and above all else, like a loom grim avatar of death:  Conan.  As it turned out my step-father had a huge Conan collection not just Savage Sword of Conan but also Marvel's Conan the Barbarian, Conan books, issues of Wierd Tales with Conan stories ... technically I wasn't allowed to touch these, but my step-father worked second shift at a steel mill so what he didn't know didn't hurt either of us.

Marvel Comics: Conan the Barbarian 2019
Shoot forward to last year when it was announced that Marvel had regained the comic rights to Conan.  I was overjoyed.  Yes, Dark Horse had produced some flatout amazing work on their run of the comic, but there is something special about knowing a character you love is going back to the people who had him when you discovered that character.  I was of course worried, Conan is not a good fit for modern sensibilities.  There is far too much that some would find problematic, and to strip those aspects away from Conan is to essentially make him He-Man (and I mean the DIC He-Man). Add to that Marvel's bullpen of recent years, so-so writers, bad artists, to much pandering to politics over storytelling and I started to think Conan's return to the Merry Marvel writer's room was doomed.

After reading the first issue I can say that I am hopeful.  Jason Aaron who had an amazing run on Thor post Civil War is doing the writing here and he channels the cadence and wording of the old Marvel comics beautifully.  This compiled with Mahmud Asrar's art and Matt Wilson's coloring go along way of finding a sweet middle ground between Barbarian and Savage with a little of the Darkhorse grit present as well.  Presentation-wise I was nothing but amazed.

The story is a long game, present a single event of Conan's past in his time as a thief and mercenary and projecting it forward to his final days as king as a cult of a demon lord who predates Atlantis wants to use Conan's blood to bring back their god.  The set-up for this is classic, and while I'm sure some people may get angry about Conan being bested and chained to a sacrifical table to be against the character, I disagree, and seeing how Conan escapes his plight (and just HOW Conan it is) is inspired at least one future event my 5e Barbarian will be involved in.  The part's that worried me were with King Conan and how heavily Aaron relied on the "aging warrior" trope.  Conan complains about his back, his muscles aching, etc ... Yes, this is a trope and can be done and has been done very well (see Dark Horse's run).  Here though I felt it was a crutch that didn't aid in deeping the character but in moving the plot and moving forward I hope Aaron irons this out or doesn't fall back on it after this issue quite so much.

Final thoughts - Marvel's main-stream appeal and eyes that are on the industry.
nan is a good Hard PG-13 take on the character which is the best we can hope for in the current comics climate and the


D6 Follow-Up

This morning I received an e-mail from Chris Tang of One Bookshelf (the people who own DrivethruRPG) and to say the least, it is promising.  With luck in a few weeks Open D6 (WEG D6) will have its own listing on the platform, allowing creators and fans of the system to more easily find and and list their products correctly!

Rambling Thoughts - AAC

Emanuel Martinez Lema 2016
Something I have been thinking of a lot lately is the interaction of armor to the wearer in rpgs.  I have typically been of the mind that abstractt is better than realistic ... with this in mind, AAC and DAC  have always been quite fine to me as it was an abstract representation of a character's ability to "roll" with a potential blow.  Recently, however, and maybe partially due to the number of actual play podcasts I have been listening to I have started to ponder other systems of defense and damage that do not work toward the DR style most people tend to move towards.

Please note, this is very much in draft form and I have not yet had the chance to test this out in any real way.  Also, this was developed with AAC in mind but should be easily adaptable to DAC.

AAC should continue to calculated in the manner that it has been since the earlest days of the AAC.  This means:

Second AAC exists Seperate from Health and is tracked in a similar manner. This means a character with 35 HP and an AC of 17 has two potential hit tracks.  This works as follows:

Enemy targets character and rolls as normal, if the roll is under AAC everything proceeds as normal.  If the attack hits that character loses AAC equal to the difference of his AAC to the Dice roll.  If an attack is critical the damage goes directly to the HP equal to the weapon HD.  Once AAC is reduced to 0 all damage is against HP and equal to the weapon HD with the only defense being 10 + Dex Modifier.

Again, this is very much a draft stage and both wording an implemantation needs a lot of work.  Still, I figured it was worth sharing.

Product Highlight - The Codex of the Black Sun

Sine Nomine Publishing, the folks behind the widely popular Science Fiction RPG, Stars Without Number, have released a new suplement for Stars Without Number that promises to "unleash the power of aranotech" into the Stars Without Number universe.

That's right, Magic in the till now hard Scifi setting.

The Codex of the Black Sun is a massive tome coming home at 152 pages with writing by Kevin Crawford and art by Grandfailure and Kittiphat.  Despite not even being out for a full month yet (released on December 9th, 2018) the release already holds as a Best Gold Seller on DrivethruRPG and holds an average ranking of 4 1/2 Stars.

The book comes with:

New Lore to slide into your SWN game
New Classes
New Enemies
New gear (through Arcanotech)
Spell Lists

I have not yet had the chance to play Stars Without Number despite owning it and a few of its suppliments for a number of years, The Codex of the Black Sun is on my Wishlist for this year as part of my new resolve to jump back into the RPG community and interact with other players from around the globe once more.

More Awesome OSR Sale

DrivethruRPG's annual OSR sale continues through the end of the week (A little over four days left!) and if you haven't taken ...