Saturday, December 24, 2016

Child's Play

About a year ago, I read little bits of this fantasy Choose Your Own Adventure book to my eldest daughter, Briella.  Though we both found it mildly intriguing, that particular book - though it came highly recommended - didn't really trip our triggers.

Over the last few weeks, I dropped hints that I was thinking about ordering another CYOA book.  One that I remember fondly from my youth - Zork.  I also was able to talk Briella and her sister into watching The Hobbit (animated version) - which they both enjoyed.

Briella is 5 and 1/2 now and really wanted me to find the CYOA book we already have.  I couldn't find it, but I told her that we could still make characters and play Dungeons & Dragons.  We looked over a few entries in the AD&D Monster Manual to get things going.

Eventually, Briella said yes and a bit later, so did her sister, Illyria, who is 4.  Hey, if I could teach them to play poker - which I did last week - then I could guide their imaginations to a sword & sorcery dungeoncrawl!

While the twin boys slept, our 18 month old, Trinity, needed to be watched (very closely).  So, we enlisted her help, too.

It seemed obvious to me that I'd have to simplify the rules.  More on that later...

Briella's character was named Nyla.  She's a human who can turn into a mermaid or fairy.  A magic-user wielding a wand named Lyra; the wand can turn into a sword with a poison blade.  Nyla can also become invisible and be very fast when she wants (I talked her down from "every power in the galaxy").  She wears a rainbow sparkly dress and her familiar is a pet ghost bunny who wears a little bell named Skippy.

Trinity played a pixie-fairy thief named Madison who carried a dagger.

Illyria's character was named Starry, a mermaid princess with diamond wings.  She had the magical power of transformation, and wore a short pink dress decorated with snow flakes.

Briella wanted me to explore the dungeon with her, so I not only DMed but played a human fighter named Jorr.  He wore all black and wielded a two-handed sword.

I told Briella that our characters were traveling through the forest.  I asked her why we might be traveling and she said to kill monsters.  Fair enough.

Just then we noticed a steel door barely noticeable through all the branches.  The door had ancient writing upon it - runes.  Jorr suggested we have the thief check the door for traps.  I rolled for Trinity and got a 1.  She didn't detect any traps, which was a pity because I had already decided that the door's runes were trapped.

Nyla volunteered Madison to open the door.  The pixie-fairy was blasted back 10' and took a point of damage.  Ok, time to share some rules...

Anytime a PC wants to do something within his power, he rolls a d6.  If the result is a 3 or higher, he succeeds.  If the result is a 1 or 2, he fails.  Enemies, NPCs, and monsters usually require a 5 or 6 to succeed - unless they are quite powerful.  Each successful hit is a point of damage and most low-level monsters and such only have a single hit point.  The PCs each have 3.

Jorr attempted to open the door and luckily the steel door was no longer full of juice.  Before our adventuring party lay the dungeon!

To the east and then south, there was a triangular room containing a green slime blocking the way to three alcoves in the far wall.  Perched upon the middle alcove was a demonic idol with ruby eyes.

Nyla used her wand / magic poisonous blade to destroy the green slime, and then we took the idol.  There was some talk of not taking it, just in case it was cursed.  But our party's greed won out.

Further to the east was a grand, hexagonal chamber where 6 priests in robes stood in front of a tremendous black hole in the far wall.  One of the priests blew into a horn.  I used the cardboard paper-towel roll to make the sound... and it was impressive.

Not knowing what was going on, Nyla asked one of the priests what they were doing.  Summoning Demogorgon, of course!  Since Demogorgon was one of the things we read about in the Monster Manual, Briella realized he was bad news - especially when the cultists (!) went on about using him to destroy the world.

Jorr and Starry missed the first round.  With 6 opponents and a few lucky rolls, it didn't take long for them to whittle Nyla's hit points down to zero.  She died, and the cultists soon followed.  It looked like Briella might cry, but she didn't.

The survivors looted their bodies, finding 32 gold pieces and that magical horn of demon summoning.

The adventurers decided to leave the dungeon and go back to town in order to find a temple so that Nyla could be revived.  It only cost us 32 gold.

Upon our return to the dungeon, we explored west.  Unfortunately, Briella suddenly decided that she didn't want to continue.  Nyla's leaving was a sad loss to our band of adventurers, but we wished her farewell.

Our party came upon a circular room with a pool in its center.  The pool was filled with an iridescent water which Starry decided to fill in a glass container and take with us.

Walking south, we encountered a square room with 3 goblins guarding a treasure chest.  They were easily dispatched.  Our thief checked for traps on the chest and found it to be trapped indeed.  She disarmed it and we pocketed 930 pieces of gold.

A door to the east led to a long, rectangular room containing 4 skeletons with swords.  Jorr and Starry each took a point of damage before dispatching the undead.

The room seemed to be a dead-end... until our thief checked for secret doors and discovered a triangular room to the north.  It contained a marble statue of a beautiful woman - possibly Athena.

Starry wanted a closer look.  Examining the statue, she found a button at the statue's base.  She pushed it and the statue slid across the floor, revealing a spiral staircase leading downward.

We walked down and entered an octagonal chamber with a door at each cardinal direction.  Starry opened the door to the south only to discover the hallway led to a dead-end, and tripped a trap as she did. A red laser blast shot down the hall, striking Starry.  She was now down to 1 hit point.

At that point we had to call it a day and get on with our Christmas Eve activities.  It was a fun-filled hour of D&D (though, more like Crimson Dragon Slayer for children).

Though Briella frequently gets discouraged when things get hard, I find that she eventually gathers her willpower to fight another day, struggling against opposition until she's successful.  I'm confident that she'll be interested in playing again soon.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Remembering Grognardia

I try to remember that ideas are cheap, but player interest is often priceless.  For some, it can be a hard lesson to learn, but once understood, it more than repays the time and effort spent acquiring it.

~ James Maliszewski

I was going to title this blog post, "Looking Back," but it's really going to focus on the OSR blog of OSR blogs, back when the OSR was just becoming a thing - Grognardia!

I was tuning in a little later than most of the original OSR folks - early 2013.  That's just after Grognardia "went dark."  I probably read about a dozen of +James Maliszewski's posts.  They were good, but by then James was mostly reviewing products or talking about the Gygax foundation / memorial / statue or whatever it is (was).

Grognardia was a bit intimidating and maybe it was my assumption that James and similar folks into the old school ways were "fundamentalists" when it came to D&D.  Perhaps I had heard some negative things about the Dwimmermount Kickstarter or "OSR Taliban" from +Kasimir Urbanski (RPGpundit).

I'm not sure what it was exactly, but I never went that deep into Grognardia... until recently.  Everything from his unsure trials with old school mechanics, DM style, and campaign setting (a megadungeon) to his love of "pulp fantasy" to theorizing about what made D&D so awesome back in the day.  Some of our experiences are eerily similar, others are just really interesting (like his assumptions about 4th edition D&D based on pre-release announcements).  But there's real knowledge, experience, and understanding in many of those older posts.

Here are just a few favorites of mine:  Pulp FantasyGary Gygax 1979, Dice as Oracle, Rough Edges,  Old School Culture, and My Megadungeon: Dwimmermount.

Speaking of Dwimmermount, I'm very interested in buying / reading / running this campaign in the near future... when I start GMing again, of course.

Dwimmermount was James' rejection of "modern" D&D for some kind of primordial version - to see if he could implement the old ways and capture that nostalgic vibe from the 70s and early 80s.  Not merely because he wanted to re-create the past, but he was seeking a return to the much-more-satisfying roots of our beloved hobby.

I started blogging about old school gaming stuff shortly after James stopped.  Here's my first post from March 14th, 2013.  It was shortly after that that I self-published my own crash course in old school fantasy roleplaying experimentation with Liberation of the Demon Slayer.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Possible Pivot

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, and what this blog post contains is just that - thoughts.  I'm thinking out loud, except that it's actually silent and in writing.  Nothing set in stone.

The Idea:  Instead of placing the vast majority of my attention on designing, writing, and publishing, I'd rather Game Master.

There are several good reasons for a change of focus.  Originally, I made Liberation of the Demon Slayer just to say that I had done it.  A small self-challenge before I turned 40.

The adventure was a way for me to prove to myself that D&D, and roleplaying games in general, were still worth pursuing.  After 3rd edition, 4th edition, and Pathfinder, I was pretty much ready to quit the hobby.

That's when I found the OSR and everything seemed to fall into place.  But I also made that adventure and the ones to follow because I thought it would be neat to see my creations in a professional-looking book, hold them in my hands and run them properly - instead of two dozen scraps of lore spread out over several notebooks, the back of envelopes, and post-its.

Even in those early days, the act of publishing and getting a manuscript ready for publication, was in aid of running a great game.  I haven't forgotten that.  Game Mastering is the key.  If there's no GM, it doesn't matter how many thousands of RPG books one has on the shelves - or how many one has produced - they are practically worthless until actually used; played.

I'd like to GM more because it's fun and I'm good at it.  But there's more to it than that.  The Game Master has a calling.  He answers the call.  He's needed to run the game.  I wrote How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss because there was a sense of urgency.  The art of GMing is essential to creation born out of shared imagination.

Assuming one is on the right track, the more you GM, the better GM you'll be.  I want to improve and keep improving - to the point where I can make some small living running games.  Yes, I'm talking about the ever-elusive dream of becoming a GM for hire.  You get paid (in one form or another) for running games.  But it's not just about the money... I'm in it for the glory, too, of course!

As I type this, I'm wondering something about myself.  Would I rather be known as a fantastic author or GM.  Both, obviously.  But if I had to choose one over the other... I don't know.  GMing is where the action is.  When you're at the table and behind the screen (so to speak, I usually don't use a GM screen), you're on the front lines.  That's where the war is being fought.  Our collective imagination versus reality.

As a side benefit, I'll be able to run all kinds of adventures and campaigns that I've been neglecting the last few years.  When you're writing and self-publishing your own RPG stuff, most of the time you're either play-testing stuff before it comes out or running the stuff you already published.  After all, those scenarios and game aids are like your children and if you have the chance to take your kid to Disney World or some other kid named Dwimmermount, Stonehell, Dark Albion, Maze of the Blue Medusa, and Anomalous Subsurface Environment, who are you going to choose?

Pivoting to professional Game Mastering (or even regular old GMing for fun, should the pro thng not turn out) will allow me to focus on presenting an awesome experience.  Making that a priority over showcasing stuff I came up with all on my own.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My hiatus begins

As I mentioned on g+ a few days ago, we had the twins. 

Identical boys.  One born on November 22nd, the other born on the 23rd.  Eight hours apart.  Yeah, it was a rough labor.  My wife is still recovering and I'm doing as much as I can to take care of everyone. 

The first and eldest is named Kanan Ezra Satanis.  I wanted it to be Zirnakanan, after a dark elf city in some half-remembered D&D adventure or campaign guide, but that didn't happen.  She fell in love with the name Kanan.  Oh well, he'll always be Zirnakanan to me.

The second and youngest is named Kylo Phoenix Satanis.  Yeah, I'm kind of surprised the wife went for that.  I'm also 74% certain that he's going to be the evil one.  ;)

They're both healthy and happy (albeit continually fussing/crying when they aren't sucking down booby milk).  I can't ask for more than that.  Will produce pictures when they're out of that unflattering newborn stage in a few weeks.

These are the last kids I'll have, unless there's an act of god out there brewing.  Five is a good number for an adventuring party.  We'll have to see how that goes in about a decade from now, maybe less.

Anyways, that means I'm on permanent vacation for awhile (yep, an oxymoron).  But I'll still try to post something once a week or so, here and on Draconic Magazine, just to keep the creative fires burning.  I expect the RPG projects will reemerge this Spring... hopefully.

I was able to accomplish quite a bit in 3 years.  I'm proud of my prolific ways and means.

A few projects were squeezed in before a birth or vacation or self-imposed Kickstarter deadline.  These things needed to get out there.  So, I wrote my ass off in a blur of psychedelic hues, splattered gore, flashing blade, laser blast, the crunching of bones, obscene gestures to tentacled idols, and whispered ululation for those dark forces of the earth... until those manuscripts were finally conjured before my warlock hands.  Obviously, +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal) worked his magic to make them look fantastic. 

Here's a list for those keeping track.  Well, that's it.  So long and thanks for all the awesomeness!


p.s.  No, their birth certificates don't say "Satanis."  But there's always a chance my kids will take up that moniker one day, when they're older.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Trinity of Awesome +1

For those of us who prefer paper to PDFs...

The collected works from my Trinity of Awesome kickstarter - Slaves of Tsathoggua, Slippery When Wet, and A Green Jewel They Must Possess - in addition to Death Race: Fury Road are now available as a single softcover book!

You can purchase Trinity of Awesome +1 at CreateSpace now or wait a couple days for it to show up on Amazon.


p.s.  Image used by permission by Wasted Warriors.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Election Results by VS

I'm sure many people are just as sick of the post-election detox / reflection / autopsy as they were of the election itself.  Or perhaps people are craving more discussion in hopes of understanding what happened and all the many things to come.

For the record, I'd like to classify myself as an independent, but since there are really only 2 sides in the US, I find myself on the Democratic side a vast majority of the time.  And I voted for Hillary Clinton. 

The following it my 3 cents.  Here's the TL;DR version: Progress is nothing if not two steps forward, one step back. 

Eventually, things will be moving forward again.  This is just a temporary and necessary motion backwards.  Assuming we don't find ourselves in a nuclear war or something.  Remember all those episodes of The Twilight Zone and post-apocalyptic 80s movies?  Collectively, I believe America thought that shit was in the past.  Yet, there's a small chance that was foreshadowing an event or chain of events that will come to pass in the next 4 years.

I've been reading various blog posts such as +Kasimir Urbanski (RPGpundit) and a few others.  This election was partially a direct result of the country sick and tired of all the SJW and whining about masculine toxicity, white privilege, sexism, rape culture, LGBTQRSPV (and however many letters will eventually be added), etc.  And when peaceful protests turn into riots, including violence and destruction of property... well, that just makes your side look like the assholes you aren't, so stop it already!

As a straight white male, I feel I can see both sides.  I'm all for equality and a progressive agenda, everybody deserves a fair shake, free education and health care.  This country shits on minorities, women, homosexuals, and a lot of disenfranchised individuals and groups all the time.  It fucking sucks.

On the other hand, this new millennial-driven inclusive agenda is starting to sound a bit repetitive and shout-y, especially when it's backed up by wrong-headed activism (like trying to get Alpha Blue banned from OBS).  Everyday Americans have had enough.  For them, Trump is nostalgic.  He's their OSR, albeit in a twisted, negative, and ridiculous way.  It sucks, but I can't blame them for wanting to keep the US recognizable from their perspective.

I don't know.  I can't predict the future.  However, that won't stop me from prognosticating right here and now...

  • No one will know how it's all going to turn out.  I have a feeling it won't just be liberals and a few "never trump" conservatives who will be disappointed.  Trump is the wild card of wild cards, and any Trump voter/supporter who thinks he knows what he's getting is most likely in for a surprise.

  • A lot of giddy, gloating, sore winner Republicans will out themselves as pieces of vile filth and will either lose their jobs or be forced to endure an unpleasant backlash they weren't expecting.  Actually, it's already happening.

  • I believe this victory will actually propel the United States into a new progressive age.  If Republicans get their way with majorities in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches, it will give Americans a true taste of what they ordered - and it will eventually sicken them to the point where Republicanism is about as popular as neo-Nazi and KKK organizations are today.

Ok, I've probably said enough on this topic.  If anyone wants to talk politics or whatever, feel free.  I try to be open minded while still holding onto my own beliefs, independent of the two major political parties.


p.s.  One more thing, for what it's worth, Bernie Sanders might have won (if he'd been the Democratic nominee), but he's too far left for the United States (at this time).  So, if he did become our next President, we might have gone two steps forward and three steps back.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Vote Today!

Yes, the United States Presidential election is also important, but I'm talking about this...

Vote for your favorite Kort'thalis Publishing product! 

Below is a list of everything I've put out since October 2013 (it's been a busy 3 years).  I'm so close to 20 that I can practically taste the blood dripping off Kalthalax's infernal blade. 

But it's hiatus time, sadly.  Although, let's not be too sad because the wife is giving birth to twins any day now (yay!) and the break will do me good - I hope to come back stronger than ever in 2017!

Simply comment with your favorite.  If you can include a brief explanation or anecdote, please feel free to elaborate on your choice. 

Kort'thalis Publishing Products
  1. Liberation of the Demon Slayer
  2. The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence
  3. Revelry in Torth
  4. The Baleful Sorcerer of Tsathag'kha
  5. Three Swordsmen
  6. Crimson Dragon Slayer
  7. Crimson Dragon Slayer, edition 1.11
  8. Descent into the Candy Crypts
  9. No Escape from New York
  10. How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss
  11. The Outer Presence
  12. Alpha Blue
  13. Girls Gone Rogue
  14. Universal Exploits
  15. A Green Jewel They Must Possess
  16. Slaves of Tsathoggua
  17. Slippery When Wet
  18. The S'rulyan Vault
  19. Death Race: Fury Road
  20. Roll twice... ;)

Thanks for taking part in this survey.  Discovering what you like best will help me create more of your favorites.


Friday, November 4, 2016

Outer Purple Fury

I just read the latest review for The Outer Presence.

It's my contribution to 1970s, Lovecraftian investigative horror RPG/scenario combo from last year.  I think Endzeitgeist did a fantastic job analyzing it.

This is an actual play report using The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence as hex-crawl inspiration.  Good stuff!

And here's the second blog post talking about Death Race: Fury Road.

Until next time, keep reviewing, blogging, and playing my stuff.  It drives me onward and downward, spiraling into the black nothingness at the very heart of awesome itself!


p.s.  My dice go out to my brother and sister gamers at Game Hole Con happening right now.  Wish I could be there with you all!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Presidential Election

Remember Universal Exploits?  That was an Alpha Blue sourcebook and campaign guide I published a few months back. 

It's got a ton of random tables and ideas, giving your sci-fi or space opera RPG of choice more than a little edge.  But what's the significance with the upcoming election?

I wrote some satirical political stuff, mostly about Donald Trump and included it in UX because he was a big focus in the daily news cycles.  They were written before Trump was the official Republican nominee for President of the United States. 

Since we're so close to election day, I decided to have a 50% off sale on the Universal Exploits PDF (softcover books on DriveThru and Amazon / CreateSpace have also been discounted, just not as much).  The sale will run until the election is over and the result is finalized... which could be well into 2017 considering what we've seen so far!

Even if you're not interested in the "space Trump" humor, I hope the star pulp and vintage sleaze are enough to take your mind off things.  ;)


p.s.  Even though the Amazon price has been changed, it will probably take several hours for the updated price to show.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Death Race: Fury Road PDF

Death Race: Fury Road PDF is live on DriveThruRPG / RPGnow... and FREE!

A special thanks to Andrew "Zakero" Moore for emailing me about his idea and contributing so many great ideas.  I also used suggestions from +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal), +Eric Fabiaschi, +TheJohnnyNormal, +Chris Tamm, +Bob Bersch, and others (see the credits at the end of the PDF for a full list of contributors).

If you'd rather have the Dropbox links.  Here is the sexy version.  This is the printer-friendly version.

The beauty of DR:FR is that it's a mini-game all on its own.  While I designed it with Crimson Dragon Slayer and Alpha Blue in mind, you can play it without any RPG attached.

If you try it out, definitely let me know what you think!


p.s.  As mentioned in my previous post, this document will appear at the end of the print-on-demand Trinity of Awesome... coming soon!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Death Race: Fury Road

This being a Venger Satanis project, it's growing by leaps and bounds!  I assumed it would only be 5 or 6 pages, but I think it's going to double by the time this is all over.

Besides the d100 table (which racers will roll on three times), now there are other tables such as why are they racing?  Zakero came up with that one.

I'm working on a few others, like what is being wagered, an easy table for rolling saving throws, etc.

So, this is an exciting project.  I hope more suggestions are coming.  Personally, I'm trying to recycle and re-imagine ideas touched on in my previous books.  A little bit of Torth, the space station of love, Thule, the Purple Islands, etc.

The vagina whale sand worm gets a mention!

Thanks to everyone who has submitted content already!  We really appreciate it.  This is the google document where updates are made.  I'll be editing it all together between now and Wednesday.

If you prefer to submit ideas and suggestions via comment, that's also fine.  Go right ahead!

The above/right picture will be the cover.

Full disclosure: this will still be a stand-alone PDF and absolutely FREE.  However, because so much time, energy, and awesomeness is going into it, these pages will also appear at the end of Trinity of Awesome - the three scenarios Glynn Seal and I will be combining into a single print-on-demand softcover this winter.

I'll personally get more use out of Death Race: Fury Road if it's printed in an actual book.



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Community Project: Post-Apocalypse Race

Zakero brought this idea to me, I loved it, and so now it's happening.  But we want you guys to help.

This is a crowd-sourcing community project for a weird, wild, gonzo, post-apocalyptic race set in the future, possibly on another planet.

Here are the basics: It will be a d100 random table full of crazy/awesome yet appropriate results.  The race will be in 3 parts; first racers will roll a d12, then a d30, and finally a d100.  If you want a spawn of Cthulhu to have anal sex with a cybernetic neon unicorn, well... that's probably a different table for another time.

Think Mad Max, the Hills Have Eyes, and that Thundarr the Barbarian episode where they have to get the helmet of power - "Challenge of the Wizards" (suck it, Chom!) This is a hellish, science-fantasy, mutant-strewn wasteland.  Each entry should be 2 or 3 sentences long and appropriate to the genre.  After that, feel free to do as you please, though there are no guarantees of having your entry published.

Things to keep in mind: references to 60s, 70s, and 80s sci-fi, humor, sexiness, gonzo, weird but plausible, flavor text to give us a sense of the race itself.  Any kind of world building is a plus!

Whatever you suggest is simply that - a suggestion.  There are no guarantees.  And your suggestion gives us permission to publish it in the forthcoming PDF, which will be available for FREE.

There's a little bit of cost for layout and art, but I'm going to eat that myself.  Especially, since this is going to (possibly) expand the Alpha Blue and Crimson Dragon Slayer lines.  Although, since this concept is a random table, it should be usable with any tabletop RPG.

What to call it?  Zakero came up with Alpha Blue: Getting Racy, which is good.  But the title is still up for grabs.  After considerable thought, I liked Death Race: Fury Road, an homage to both Deathrace 2000 and Mad Max: Fury Road.  Nothing is set in stone.

Zakero set up a google document here.  But I'm also taking submissions in the comment section below and privately via email if individuals prefer:

Just know that once you submit an idea, it can be used for this project.  However, you also retain the rights if you want to use it yourself down the road.

The deadline?  One week!  That's right, on Wednesday morning, October 26th, the document will be finalized and handed off to +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal) so he can make it look awesome.

Any questions?  Just ask below!


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Trinity of Awesome PDFs live!

As of this morning, the Trinity of Awesome PDFs that I funded via Kickstarter are available on DriveThruRPG.  But they're not lumped together anymore (although, I'm tempted to eventually bundle them together as a print-on-demand softcover).

No, today they stand on their own two (three?) feet (or virtual tentacles, maybe).

"Slaves of Tsathoggua" is an eldritch fantasy scenario Crimson Dragon Slayer (both versions).  It also contains several random tables that can be used in any fantasy RPG.

"A Green Jewel They Must Possess" is an investigative horror scenario set in the 1970s.  I made it with The Outer Presence in mind, but any self-respecting GM who appreciates Cthulhuism & Yog-Sothothery can easily convert the adventure for their favorite system.

"Slippery When Wet" is a scenario for the sleazy space opera RPG Alpha Blue.  This includes a +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal) map of underwater vessel The Bearded Clam.

All these scenarios are short and come in both a rich parchment color with blood stains, Kort'thalis sigil echo, and disturbingly lurid tentacle veins, as well as, a printer-friendly black and white version.

The KS backers have theirs, now it's your turn!


Monday, October 10, 2016

Miscellanious stuff

There's a spirited  review of my very first OSR adventure - Liberation of the Demon Slayer.  It was a lot of fun to read as it allowed me to revisit that world, albeit briefly.

There's an awesome actual play report from the guys who took part in a session of Alpha Blue on Roll20 a couple weeks ago.  And here's another one with kids(!) that's totally PG-13 (for space drug references).

This was a nice review of Crimson Dragon Slayer edition 1.11.

I've also managed to write a few more things on Draconic Magazine.  Please check them out and let me know what you think.

Trinity of Awesome will be available soon.  First it goes to Kickstarter backers and then everyone else on DriveThruRPG / RPGnow.  If you're an RPG blogger and/or reviewer and want to be put on the list, send me an email at:



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Purely a Throwback

This blog post is just a minor rant about the latest edition/printing of Swords & Wizardry kickstarter.  There's an undercurrent of what I'd call "anti-OSR agenda" which I think the Progressive Gaming Coalition should be made aware of.

We’re starting to run low on our stock of the 2nd printing, and it’s time to print some more. We didn’t just want to do an exact reprint, and the history of the changes here date back a while ago to when we were talking with designer Stacy Dellorfano about the fact that many OSR games have a physical appearance and presentation that really targets the 40 year old guys who’ve been gaming since forever, and doesn’t have nearly as much appeal to younger or female gamers of the generations following that first wave of players from the 1980s. In point of fact, old-school games, with their light-rules aspect and emphasis on a game master’s “common sense” interpretation of situations, are actually a really good tool for anyone who feels like rules-lawyers may be spoiling the game by trying to be over-authoritative or even overbearing with a GM. But if the appearance and presentation make the game look like it’s purely a throwback and not a modern tool for good gaming, then there’s a real obstacle to the game’s push into the mainstream gaming community.

Yeah, why target your actual demographic when you can try to appeal to a wide array of people who have very little interest in your product?

I'll let readers decide for themselves if a pure throwback cover depicts what's really involved with game play or if it's just expected window-dressing.  Truth in advertising is not my main point here.  No, my main point is where Swords & Wizardry equates old school gaming and the sword and sorcery genre itself as a kind of primordial relic for less evolved cavemen engaging in bad/wrong fun.
Furthermore, that we throwbacks might be an obstacle to "the mainstream gaming community."  A community that seems ready to leave us behind.

As a result of this analysis, we engaged Stacy as a designer to produce an edition that’s no less appealing to older male gamers, while being MORE appealing to younger and to female gamers. Stacy put together a team, all women, to address this dual objective. We think her team has done an awesome job, and when you see the design results, we think you’ll agree.

There's been more than a little outcry regarding the cover artwork alone.  It evidently is less appealing to older male gamers.  However, I've no idea if it's more appealing to younger or female gamers.

Again, why cater to your fanbase when you could go for an entirely different kind of fan - gamers who may only be mildly interested in old school fantasy roleplaying?  Why give your audience what it wants when you could alienate them instead?

I just can't understand why Frog God Games is bending their knee to a small but vocal sub-set of gamers who would love nothing more than taking excessive gore, demons and devils, sexuality and eroticism (especially of female flesh), "toxic masculinity," and adult situations out of the game - out of the RPG hobby, if they could!  And why not throw out "white male privilege" while we're at it?

Unfortunately, we think there may be some controversy about the fact that the design team here is made up entirely of women. We’ve already heard a couple of comments that generally turn on the idea of “Why restrict the project to women designers? Shouldn’t the objective be to pull the best talent whether male or female? What a gimmick.” We’d like to address that out front, rather than have it turn into a back-channel controversy in the halls of the internet. The missing piece of information is this: there are so many different directions that a project can take that there’s no such thing as “the best talent.” Given our goal of making the game more accessible, we hired – through Stacy – talent that coordinates with the goal. We asked Stacy to put together an all-woman team not as a societal goal, but because she had the chops to assemble the kind of team we wanted. This isn’t a “pink” edition of the rules. It’s the more-accessible next printing that we are targeting toward the mainstream market. It has always been our goal to get the open-ended rules of 1974-78 gaming into the mainstream, and this is our objective here. We think that Stacy’s team has hit this goal out of the ballpark, and we think you’ll agree.

I have no problem with a design team made up entirely of women, just as I don't have a problem with an all-female cast in a movie or clubs that only have women members.  But I do take issue with notions that this edition will be "more accessible" or "mainstream."  For an RPG book on adventuring in the lands of Georgia O'Keeffe?  Yeah, sure... maybe.  But an RPG like Swords & Wizardry?  Come on!

That cover and this attempt at making the decision less controversial have nothing to do with rules circa 1974 - 78.  Nothing to do with old school fantasy.  Nothing to do with the mainstream RPG community or market.

So what is it?  In my view, it's a sad attempt at divorcing S&W from the OSR niche and the gaming culture we all know and love.  If Frog God Games wanted S&W to be more "inclusive," they could have done an homage to Taarna from Heavy Metal or Red Sonja.  Of course, in the eyes of the outrage brigade, those icons of sword and sorcery females would have been too exploitative.

So, even though I'm a fan of the prior printings/editions of Swords & Wizardry, I've got to say shame on Frog God Games for coming out with this and not listening to their fans who're appalled by the results.  And I have to say that I'm also quite disappointed with +Erik Tenkar for not condemning this aesthetic repudiation of the OSR.

Thank the Gods there are old school sword and sorcery creators within and without the O5R who have not forgotten why we fight, why we bleed, and why we die!

Venger As'Nas Satanis
High Priest of Kort'thalis Publishing

p.s.  If you're looking for no holds barred roleplaying, check out the right-hand sidebar.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Last call for Awesome!

If you didn't know, my final Kickstarter campaign until Summer of 2017 (at least) is winding down.

And guess what?  VS, your fucking boss of a hoss, is planning on over-delivering... again.

Yeah, not only are you lucky dogs getting three PDFs for $3, but they'll be double the promised length.

But that's not all!!!  Glynn Seal +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal) and I have a good relationship.  I tell him to make something awesome while shouting out random words like "Tentacles," "Veins," and "Vagina Whale!" then he turns around and makes it visually awesome.

Case in point, the eldritch fantasy adventure will have the red, the investigative horror will have the green, and the sleazy space opera will get blue.

Click on them to get the full effect!

So, thanks for backing.  Keep telling your gaming friends about this wondrous deal of insanity on acid meth!  Let's see if we can hit $2,000 in four days.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Alien Hieroglyphs - Alpha Blue actual play report

Yesterday was probably the last face-to-face roleplaying I'll get to have until sometime in 2017.  Impending twins and all that.  So, I wanted to go out with a bang.  And we did.

The 4 hour game turned into a 2 hour game because of pizza, off-topic discussions, and character creation.  Since there was only 2 players, we went all-out, despite the one-shot nature of this particular game.  Below are a couple videos that capture the character creation experience that is Alpha Blue...

Steve's character, Azaxyr, was an alien pilot who needed an atmosphere suit to survive (non-oxygen breather).  He was a dog-sized amphibian with a strange way of speaking, porcupine quills, hemophilia, and a Necrophilia sexual fetish.  Oh yeah, he also had the power (more like a defect in the far future) of disabling any electronic device he came within a few inches of.

Patrick's character was a human pilot and bounty hunter named Gebek wielding a neon-frisbee.  It's like a laser-frisbee, except neon doesn't cauterize the wounds, so you keep bleeding.

Since I don't have a chat-log that I can just look back at and retype here, I'm going to bullet-point the crap out of this actual play report.

  • The space adventurers were traveling to Alpha Blue when intercepted by a Federation patrol ship who wanted them to submit to a random checkpoint search and seizure.  "Fuck that," was the PC's response, naturally.
  • It took awhile to destroy the Federation ship.  Waterbeds were punctured on both sides of the conflict.  We decided that once you take your waterbed off-world, the warranty is invalidated, and that artificial gravity is the leading cause of waterbed death.
  • Once everyone was dead, the PCs went aboard and found a criminal in a similar survival suit to Azaxyr.  This convict's name was Ettis, a human-sized being made of pure energy who considers the spilling of blood to be a sign of good fortune.
  • The reason they were going to Alpha Blue in the first place was a new Ancient Egypt exhibit in the space station's museum - yeah, sex and drugs on Alpha Blue, but there's culture, too.  Somewhere in this collection of Egyptology junk was a sarcophagus which contained hieroglyphs.  When deciphered, the hieroglyphs gave coordinates to a stable wormhole (Patrick's idea).
  • They got to Alpha Blue and Azaxyr disabled the space station's automated welcome wagon with a touch.  This is where Azaxyr said, "I just want to watch the world burn... one small display screen at a time."  The spacers continued on towards the Egyptian exhibit.
  • That led them to the red hologram district where Gebek got knifed and the pair of them were propositioned by a hooker.  No takers, as they had a mission to fulfill.
  • The PCs entered a cross-section of the space station that was both red hologram district and party/entertainment.  So, there was wall-to-wall sex, drugs, alcohol, and weirdness going on. 
  • They both smoked some pink crystals and enjoyed the benefits, as well as, succumbing to the dark side of alien narcotics.  
  • While Gebek was out of commission and propped up at a booth a la Weekend at Bernie's, watching a stripper with 5 boobs, Azaxyr took a job - kill 3 Federation officers walking around this section of Alpha Blue.
  • Once Gebek woke up, there was a shoot-out.  Azaxyr died in the laser fight.  Ettis walked up behind the toughest Federation officer and blasted him in the back of the head.  
  • Luckily, Alpha Blue has one of the best medical care facilities in the galaxy.  Although, Azaxyr didn't have space health insurance, so it cost him 1,400 credits to get a new pancreas, spleen, and right arm.  I finally got to roll on the spare parts random table in the Alpha Blue book. Yay!  
  • Not only were pictures of the sarcophagus taken, but a space mummy was destroyed, and the entire sarcophagus was stolen by the PCs. 

I wanted to play my CD of Heavy Metal (yeah, I still use CDs - when I can find them - I'm old) but lost it somewhere.  Patrick used his phone to play the entire album.  But the songs kept getting interrupted by Red Lobster ads.  So, I told them that Space Lobster ads were coming over the "air waves" of the PC's starship... even though there isn't a Space Lobster within light years of here!

Anyways, it was a fun game.  And the last for awhile.  But I'll still run a few one-hour games via Roll20, so at least I've got that to look forward to.

BTW, Thilo reviewed Girls Gone Rogue on his Endzeitgeist website here.

Thanks for reading,


p.s.  Almost forgot!  I'm still promoting my Trinity of Awesome kickstarter.  Check it out, and tell your friends.  ;)

Friday, September 16, 2016

FORCE DOCK - Alpha Blue actual play report

Another week, another Alpha Blue game on Roll20.

I both like and dislike (love and hate are too strong of words for the platform) Roll20.  It's easy, frustrating, counter-intuitive, and a lot of fun simultaneously.

Case in point: for some reason Roll20 decided to automatically write in big, bold letters, "2 Successes" when a player had rolled a 1 and 4.  That's never happened before, so perhaps one of us clicked a box or it's a new setting Roll20 is trying out.  Since it was dead wrong (1 on its own would be a crit fail and 4 is a partial success), I found it distracting.

Anyways, I'm here to report the action!

Two new players - Dave and Hawk.  Neither had played Alpha Blue before.

Dave wanted his character to be a spacer version of the Monster Magnet frontman, Dave Wyndorf.  He's an ice pirate and we never settled on a name (that I can see from the chat log), so I'll just call his character Space Lord.

Hawk wanted something weird (I usually have 2 players each time I run one of these and 50% of the party invariably wants to make an unusual character.  An alien is the weirdest, so we rolled some dice and came up with a human-sized being made of pure energy with pineapple texture on his head.  For his alienism quirks - he says random, personal things at inappropriate times and never lies or obscures the truth in order to protect himself.  For a career, he rolled pilot.  We ended up calling his character Piney.

That's as far as character creation went since we only had an hour to game.  Let's get to it...

VS:  You stole a fast starship form a crime lord you barely saw at last night's disco.  The ship came with a couple droids that are currently wandering around near the cockpit area.  The droids are the only thing of value on this ship.

Space Lord:  We need guns and mercs now.  My region of the galaxy is arid, and I have a more industrialized approach to piracy.  Are we on the station or in deep space?

VS:  You're flying through space, but you could turn around and head back for Alpha Blue.

Piney:  What do you think, Space Lord?  Should we try to pirate some ice or go back to the space station for supplies?

Space Lord:  Well, we did just steal this starship from the docks there, I presume.  I don't really remember the last couple days after I ate that Sarlacc nugget.  Probably should look at flipping this thing for a freighter... and find some lizard mercs.

Piney:  That sounds like a plan.  You know, my hemorrhoids are really bothering me today.

VS:  Your ship's scanners find a nearby planet that should provide what you're looking for.

Space Lord:  Any Federales or orbital defense picked up on our scanners?

VS:  No, this is a backwater planet.  The kind that Alpha Blue likes to hang around.

Space Lord:  Good deal.  Pineapple head, you're the pilot.  Take us down for a closer look.

Piney:  Roger dodger.

VS:  You land the ship in a clearing near a swamp.  Visuals indicate there are several reptilian humanoids standing around just outside.

Space Lord:  What kind of reptilian - feral or civilized (civilized being loosely applied).

VS:  They look like Silurians from Doctor Who.  So, apparently civilized... more or less.

Piney:  If these guys aren't here in peace, they're leaving in pieces.  Space Lord, this is your specialty.  Go talk to them.

Space Lord:  We observe for a few moments to see if they communicate.

VS:  You hear a few loud clangs.  One of the reptilians is knocking on the side of your ship.  "Hey, assholes!  What do you think you're doing parking here?  This is a no parking zone.  Can't your pilot read?"

Space Lord:  I open the hatch.  "Sorry there, my friend.  Are you with the planetary authorities?"

VS:  "No."

Piney:  Since I'm still sitting in the cockpit, I'm getting my blaster ready.

Space Lord:  "We're with an advanced survey crew from Galactic Redistribution, Inc.  We'd like to talk to someone about water samples."

VS:  "Ok, let me get S'ssszzslls," he says walking away, then turns his head, "Got any snacks?"


The space adventurers find some snack food for the reptilians and two of the humanoid reptiles agree to join the crew in exchange for a couple hundred credits and a small share of any loot they find.  Turns out one of the reptilians is "good with a blaster" and the other is a pimp, naturally.

Space Lord and Piney discover that a Federation cruiser just took off with all the good water (now ice) and so the pirates attempt to intercept the Federation ship.


VS:  You've located the them.

Space Lord:  How big is their ship?  Is it big enough for us to dock inside?

VS:  Alongside, yes.  The Federation cruiser is larger than yours, but not by that much.

Space Lord:  Hail them with a distress call, Piney.  Tell them our oxygenator is wack and we're all going to die unless they rescue us.  We need to dock if possible.

Piney:  Aye, we'll hail their ship.

VS:  "We don't talk to spacer scum.  Move along.  Hail the Federation!"

Space Lord:  Hmm... we could try to space jump it, that might leave their ship intact for us.  Of course, we could die horribly if we miss.  We need that ice!

Piney:  Can we force dock it?

VS:  You can try.  Roll 2d6 if you want to attempt it.

Piney:  [He rolls a 5 and 6 for a critical success!]

VS:  Ok, you successfully "force dock" your ship to theirs - which has never been done before in the history of space.

Piney:  Hail to the King, baby!  These lizards better be able to shoot straight.  Round up the droids.

Space Lord:  Can the droids hack the door or do we need to blast it?

VS:  All six of you are at the airlock as one of your droids inputs into the ship's computer.  Sparks fly and the Federation ship's door opens.

Space Lord:  If there are targets on the other side, we're ready.

VS:  You hear a few Federation troops running down the corridor towards you.

Space Lord:  No mercy!  Unless they surrender.

Piney:  Does this blaster have a disintegration option?

VS:  No, but you could always try turning it up to "11," but that might have serious consequences.

Piney:  Nah, we'll keep it at 9.5.

VS:  From what you know, Federation shock troops like these never surrender.

Space Lord:  That's how I rationalize their murder.  "Not too much damage to the inside of the ship, guys."  I hope I didn't forget my vibro-knife.


A lot of laser fire is exchanged.  The PCs take down the Federation troops and make their way towards the bridge.  On their way, they see a lovely green-skinned female walking down a side corridor.  She reminded Piney of his ex-wife.

While the reptilian mercs "take care" of the female, the PCs charge on towards the bridge where they see two Federation officers pushing buttons.

Piney threatens one of them, but rolls a critical failure and is the least intimidating presence currently on the ship, giving one of the officers a chance to pull out his blaster and fire - a line of deadly red light narrowly misses his pineapple-ridged head.

Eventually, both officers are overcome and surrender to the PCs.

The reptilians lazily walk onto the bridge smoking cigarettes after its all over.  They obviously had sex with the green-skinned female.

Besides the ice, the PCs discover that the Federation ship is carrying something else of value - something called a gorlax.  Piney rolls and gets "mostly success," enough to know that a gorlax is some kind of giant, alien gorilla made of purple slime.


That's all we had time for.  Both Dave and Hawk told me the session was awesome and gonzo, then they thanked me for GMing.

Both Space Lord and Piney reached 2nd level, where only their Health changes (going from 25 to 30).

I hope y'all enjoyed reading this Alpha Blue actual play report.  BTW, I recently created a new Kickstarter campaign to fund a trio of short PDF scenarios.  Only 3$!!!  Check it out.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

[KS] Trinity of Awesome!

Yes, back at it again with a new Kickstarter.  Don't hate me because I'm prolific.  I only wish I could unleash more weird, filthy darkness upon the world.

Let's take what we can get!


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sandcrawler Menagerie - Alpha Blue actual play report

This post is a report of actual Alpha Blue play that went on earlier today via Roll20.

One GM (me) and two players.  One of the players (David) had very little roleplaying experience.  Neither of them had ever heard of Alpha Blue before the session started.

David wanted to be something unusual.  Those were his only instructions.  So, we went with an alien.  Strange that Roll20 doesn't have an easy go-to feature for rolling a d30, so I just rolled a d20 instead.  Crystalline!  Then I rolled size and got "human."  Rolling twice for alien features I got these: often uses "the" unnecessarily (think Starfire from Teen Titans Go!) and relates his experiences to The Wizard of Oz... which he believes is real or is based on actual events.  He wields a vorpal chainsword.

8BitAndroid already had a concept in mind - a human/wolf hybrid.  So, I assumed he'd be a mutant and that would be one of his three mutations.  The others being that he had horns and a kangaroo pouch.  For a weapon he carried a thermal detonator.

Both wanted to roll for a name.  Both rolled the same number and got Terran.  8Bit decided his character wanted to change his name to Akros Sterling, but also mentioned something about the two being blood brothers.

Next, I rolled for their occupation and got "bounty hunter" for both.  Haha!  They were blood brothers.

After what seemed like a century of people trying different things in order to get one picture to show - which led to my entire computer freezing/crashing - I gave up and simply described everything.  Below are bits of dialog that I'm cherry-picking from the chat archive.

VS:  Ok, both of you are cruising around in a stolen starship.  You felt as though Grabba the Butt (my go-to intergalactic gangster created by +Fantastic Dimensions) owed it to you.  Grabba had other ideas, so you just took off and haven't looked back since.  You stopped to refuel on a barren, desert world.  While filling your tank full of space gas, you notice a gigantic sandcrawler and a jawa selling a wide variety of robots.  Another spacer is present.  He's checking out their wares.

Terran:  Let's go.

Akros:  Junk and sand everywhere.  I wonder why Grabba was so upset with us?  At least we managed to... recover his ship.  It'll do us good.

Terran:  Well, we can't do anything about the Grabba.  It is what it is.

VS:  The jawa walks up to you.  "Do you enjoy our little sandcrawler menagerie?  Every droid half-price.  You can't go wrong with that sexbot, my friends."  Akros has 500 credits.  Terran has 800 credits.

Akros: [Mutters and inspects the bots]  Half price?  I wonder if they have any defects.  I'd hate to be duped out of hard earned credits if they're just going to fall apart after light use.

VS:  The jawa says, "I always include a guarantee in the price - one standard month."

Terran:  Only a month?

VS:  "Or buy the warranty - three standard years.  Only 100 credits!"

Akros: [Huffing a bit and kicking a few tires]  "Which one is the cheapest?"

VS:  You notice one of the prospective buyers is handling a blonde, female android that looks just like Kristen Bell.  She's not wearing much clothing.  The price tag says 400 credits on her arm.

Akros:  [Notices Bell but doesn't want to spend a lot of credits]

VS:  The jawa points to some cheap piece of CGI crap from one of the prequels.  "This one is only 50 credits, my friend.  You want it gift wrapped?"

Terran:  I don't think we need that one.


Meanwhile, Akros notices the other customer loosening the velcro strap on his blaster.  Akros comes up behind him and puts a blaster to his head.  The guy walks away, but then it turns out the jawa wasn't a jawa at all but a little amphibian alien with three eyes.  He sucker-blasts Akros in the chest for 11 points of damage.  Both the PCs started the game as 1st level characters with 25 Health.

It's a shootout!  A few rounds later, the ambushing alien named Meebly has a bloody stump for a leg due to Akros' thermal detonator and blackened/burned hand from Terran's blaster.


VS:  Meebly gets down on his hands and knees, "You've beaten me.  If you spare my life, I shall be your servant."

Akros:  You can serve my crystalline brother, but if you betray us I'll bite your head off.

VS:  "By the way, I stole this sandcrawler.  So, maybe we should get out of here?

Terran:  Let's get aboard the starship.

VS:  "Bring the sexbot.  KB will make a fine companion for the three of us.  She's the only one I didn't rig with explosives."

Akros:  I kick the console and get our ship flying.

VS:  "Also, my former masters, the klingons, will be here soon.  And I expect they'll be furious.  I was supposed to kill you both for 3,000 credits."

Terran:  That's it?

VS:  Just as you're about to leave the solar system, you notice a klingon warhip approaching the desert planet.  Meebly:  "Whoo boy, I'm beat.  Where do you spacers keep the Venusian whisky?"

Akros:  Shit!  I'm going to activate a cloaking device or something.  [rolls a critical success]

VS:  You bounce a sub-sonic wave pattern against a nearby moon, effectively camouflaging your escape vector.

Terran:  Meebly, get us some beer or something!

VS:  Meebly opens up a panel in the lower back region of the Kristen Bell droid.  Sparks fly.  He closes up the panel.  "Bring us some space beers, KB.  We're thirsty."  She complies, bringing everyone a beer poured into a strange, blue-green rectangular glass.

Akros:  Whoa, that piece of junk actually works!

VS:  "Heck yes she works!  You should see what she can do with her squelch-valve."


That was it.  The players told me they had fun.  Maybe we'll pick it up again soon.  Who knows...

Thanks for reading,


p.s.  There's a nice little review of Girls Gone Rogue over here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Should ENworld keep stroking itself?

The little picture at the top right was the icing on the cake... or perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back.

There's a small chance that Russ Morrissey was referring to +Kasimir Urbanski (RPGpundit) and this post.  However, it's far more likely that Russ Morrissey was talking about +Erik Tenkar of Tenkar's Tavern fame.  Last week, Tenkar posted thisthis, and this.

If I'm right and Russ was referring to Erik as the "abusive personality" than things are even more dire than I feared.  Erik is a lot of things, but he is not abusive.  Oh, the thieves, scoundrels, malcontents, and idiots occasionally consider him abusive - that's because he pops the balloons of delusion those people cling to.

Here's what this is all about: ENworld posts a lot of RPG news on its front page, big splashy, colorful press releases - news and advertisements all rolled into one.  ENworld also has a few people on the payroll who either create or vet these puff pieces for gamers to look at and discuss in comments below.  They must not vet them very hard because I can't remember seeing any criticism or negative commentary anywhere on ENworld's front page.  Unless you count the user comments who are not being paid by RPG companies and/or ENworld.

I'm a little biased.  I'll admit that upfront.  +Sean Patrick Fannon had some shitty things to say about me and my sleazy space opera RPG Alpha Blue when it got temporarily removed from the virtual shelves of DriveThrRPG/RPGNow.  And I've exchanged words with Morrus on many occasions, and pretty much every time he's been either dismissive or condescending.

So, now that Russel Morrissey is expanding his RPG line with O.L.D., N.O.W., and the latest N.E.W. (Really?  And they sell even with those titles?), ENworld is suddenly inundated with in-depth analysis and several people chiming in about how awesome it is - including Russ Morrissey himself.

It's also been one of Sean's Picks of the Week.  Sean Patrick Fannon is a staff writer, reviewer, press release sifter for ENworld.  And even he admits that there's "...a fine, fuzzy line between news, promotion, and outright advertising."  Though, it looks like ENworld has crossed the line.

You might think that such false advertising (by that I mean - no disclaimer) has a negligible effect on sales; however, I just looked at DriveThruRPG and N.E.W. was uploaded on August 19th and is already a Best GOLD Seller.  Compare that to a fairly successful but small independent self-publisher like myself.  Alpha Blue was uploaded onto DriveThru on December 18th of 2015 and is currently sitting pretty (well, I think she's pretty) at Best ELECTRUM Seller.  For those of you who've never played AD&D, gold is better than electrum.

Basically, this blog post is boosting the signal for RPGpundit and Erik Tenkar, as well as, a chance to ask the gaming community some hard-hitting, philosophical questions.  Real big picture stuff.  Here goes nothing...

  • Does this kind of thing (payola) bother you?
  • How susceptible are you to hype, advertising, promotion, and the like?
  • Do you prefer to only hear about games from big companies with lots of advertising dollars behind them? 
  • Why are labels, brands, and officially authorized/licensed take-your-pick important to the average RPG consumer?
  • Would you agree that creating a sense of immersion is a high priority in RPGs?
  • Would you also agree that rules-light RPGs are more immersive because they present less obstacles, procedures, and time devoted to looking things up?
  • Since crunchy and rules-heavy games are three times less likely to bring in new roleplaying blood than simple and rules-light games (yeah, I just made that statistic up - but it seems legit to me), why continue to support the former over the latter?
  • Is authority more important or valuable than autonomy?  

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

Holden:  Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about... your childhood movie watching habits.

I must have been about 10 when Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone reached premium cable.

I remember seeing it a lot - probably 20 or even 30 times once it hit HBO, even though before today, I couldn't give you any more than scant details.  Maybe not even that much.  It was borderline scary at times and even though it could never match the awesomeness that was Star Wars, I enjoyed it immensely.

I watched it over and over again just as I did with The Beastmaster, Ice Pirates, Flash Gordon, Conan the Barbarian, and Blade Runner.  But not necessarily from beginning to end.  The majority of viewings must have come in just before or after the sail barge train battle scene.

Because seeing it again today after 33 years, I didn't recall anything of the first 10 minutes.  You know, the part that kind of sets up the rest of the movie.

This review does a good job of summing up the plot while noticing the sleazy aspects that make it a weird time-warp kind of anomaly that could only exist right around 1983.

There's a Mad Max kind of feel to it, as well.  Not so much cyberpunk as I envision it, unlike the linked review above, but definitely a high-tech / low-life aesthetic.  Not too long ago, Cyborg was screened at one of my monthly pizza/movie nights.  Spacehunter reminded me of Cyborg, too.  Especially, the brunette android.  But there was more to it than that - a world gone to seed.  A post-apocalypse of trash, a wasteland of dirty nomads looking for flesh.

The whole thing seems to have a bigger budget than I would have guessed.  The alien planet looks kind of like an alien planet.  Not sure whey they filmed those outdoor scenes, but it's realistic while also being unfamiliar.  Likewise, the "garbage chic" costumes and "rust tech" machines are equally impressive.

The pacing is also excellent.  It feels like a long journey even though the audience never grows bored.  Interesting things are happening all the time and in between, we get the emotional journey of the good guys.

Which brings me to my favorite aspect - because it's a rare commodity these days, like some kind of mineral used for making particle beam weapons that can only be found on planet SK-9 in Terra Quadrant.  Sleaze!

Like Starchaser: the Legend of Orin, there was a sexist kind of masculine vibe that I enjoy, that feels right to me, even though in today's culture of twitter wars and social issue outrage would surely be described as "toxic."

The protagonist, Wolff, obviously uses his pretty android engineer for sex.

When the three human women are captured by the antagonist's henchmen, they're obviously going to be used for sex or to satisfy some carnal appetite.

When Wolff meets the girl tracker, Nikki, who helps him find the captured women, there's definitely some adult expectation subtext going on.  Later, when Wolff gives her a bath and finds out she's about 16, he takes on a fatherly role, leaving behind a possible romantic relationship which Nikki assumed would happen.

Mid-way through the movie, Wolff and Nikki encounter a tribe of underwater amazons.  The amazons voice their interest in Wolff as breeding stock.  That doesn't sound like a bad idea to Wolff, however, when they put Nikki in danger, he decides to get out of there rather than have sex with many strange and beautiful (and probably dangerous) women.

You don't get stuff like that in a "kid's movie" these days.  1983 is long behind us, and so when a forgotten cult classic like this emerges from our distant cinematic past, I feel we should embrace it.

Obviously, there are a few problems or missed opportunities with the movie.  The antagonist goes by the name Overdog?  Yeah, it's no Star Wars.  But then neither is Ice Pirates, and that also deserves a 2nd or even 3rd viewing if it's been over a decade since you've seen it.

The standalone Spacehunter DVD seems to be out of print and therefore more expensive than it should be; however, after a little searching, I discovered that Walmart sells a Krull / Spacehunter combo DVD for around $5.  Doesn't get any better than that.  Well, neither film has any extras - not even the ability to select chapters.  But the movies are the main event, so yeah... buy it.

It should go without saying that Alpha Blue is the perfect vehicle for a kind of Starhunter RPG experience.  Pick up the bundle if you want both sourcebooks included in one low price.



Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Threesome of Space Opera Sleaze

I just created this DriveThruRPG bundle at 20% off each of the three products:  Alpha Blue, Girls Gone Rogue, and Universal Exploits.

Those on the fence, hesitant about spending their hard earned money on a humorous soft core sci-fi shameless ripoff of dozens of popular and obscure franchises can check out the previews, read the reviews, and (if you like what you see) get a deal on everything at once.

Combined, these three books are like How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss, except for sci-fi and space opera RPGs.  There are multiple, short essays on GMing in the genre of blasters and starships.  The entire series is full of adventure hooks, evocative artwork, 1970's & 80's nostalgia, and high-res maps you can take to a local printer or use in a virtual tabletop.  You simply would not believe how many random tables are included in order to facilitate an infinite space sandbox for years of campaigning.

Even though Alpha Blue and both its sourcebooks are firmly in the old school style, I've provided ultra-neo innovations that make it easy to try this game with your non-gamer friends.  One-shot character creation takes as little as 5 minutes; short campaigns about 15.  It's all pick-and-choose or rolling on random tables... no number crunching, no min-maxing, and best of all - NO BORING!!!

I hope you take a chance on these books that I've put my heart and soul into creating the past year and a half.  In my opinion, it's the best of Kort'thalis Publishing and if you don't mind getting a little screwball and raunchy with your thermal detonators and photon torpedoes, I believe it'll soon become your new favorite RPG.


p.s.  And here's a fun little bonus on the house!