Monday, January 7, 2019

Mappi Monday: Forgotten Ruins of the Middle Hyborian

For some time now, the minds behind the acclaimed military-space-opera novel series Galaxy's Edge, Nick Cole and Jason Anspach, have been working on a fantasy setting. There's not a great deal of information yet, although some bits can be gleaned from the Facebook page and the dedicated website. For example, yesterday the former revealed this amazing map:

Thursday, December 6, 2018

GUMTHEWS Cover Reveal

A couple of days ago, Pelgrane Press revealed the cover art for Swords of the Serpentine, their upcoming Swords-and-Sorcery GUMSHOE hack.

While I wish they'd kept the "GUMTHEWS" pun for the name, I have not yet been disappointed by a Pelgrane product and, from the looks of this article on the genre guidelines the authors used, I don't think that's going to change:

While there is as yet no release date, nor indication of whether the release will be crowdfunded or direct, I'd say this is coming along quite well.

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Circlet of Fungal Power

A new magic item for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

The Circlet of Fungal Power presents itself as a typical golden crown with a velvet lining colored purple with white spots. If worn, it transforms the wearer into an Amazon warrior woman with the following attributes:

Height: 6'2, Weight: 170
STR: 9, DEX: 17, CON: 11, INT: 11, WIS: 11, CHA: 18

All other characteristics, including class, remain the same. Upon removing the crown the wearer reverts to his previous appearance and attributes, but there is a cumulative 1% chance the wearer must make a Save Vs. Transformation or have one attribute (rolled on a d6) permanently altered. The accumulated chance resets with each save, but the seventh failure results in the wearer completely transforming into Amazon form (as per the Polymorph Other spell), in addition to gaining the firm conviction that they are the heir to the throne of a far-off kingdom of intelligent toadstool people.

Inspired, of course, by this. I'm not even sorry.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Wacky Campaign Concepts: Bookhounds of Freeport!

Art by Everwho
So the other day I was reading the recent-ish Freeport: City of Adventure* from Green Ronin and noticed something interesting. For all that Freeport is a pirate-founded tropical port at the semi-pre-industrial tech level standard to Dungeons & Dragons settings, there's an awful lot of factions gathering secret libraries of information - from the Wizard's Guild, for whom scrolls and spellbooks are key professional accessories, to the orc settlement founded by a half-orc historian, to the secret archives of the local guides/explorers for hire, not to mention the map shops, alchemy labs, and more bookishly inclined temples.

Art by ilacha
This odd juxtaposition got me thinking about Bookhounds of London*, Ken Hite's Trail of Cthulhu* supplement about Depression-era booksellers getting caught up in the Tome of Eldritch Lore trade. While deeply tied to its London setting, the flavor of hardscrabble book scouts and inquiry agents is very strong, and I think there's enough to transfer to Freeport. There are a few points of similarity between the two cities, too - both are cosmopolitan port cities with sharp class divides and deep histories, although London obviously has a much vaster base to draw on. The Cthulhu Mythos, too, is a point of convergence between the two settings, although it's much more subtle in Freeport. Ironically, the non-Earth setting of Freeport means that the standard library of Mythos tomes are not as easily used - however, a crafty GM can turn this to his advantage, Who would, after all, suspect a book with a nice, safe, Elvish-sounding name like Parmofírinesse?

Which all begs the question of what system to use for this game. The Freeport booked linked above is for Pathfinder, although if I was going to run it in a D20 I might use ACKS for the economic emphasis, instead. There is not currently a GUMSHOE variant that would fit really well; however, rumors fly of an in-development game (with the delightful code-name "GUMTHEWS") that is basically a sword-and-sorcery take on the GUMSHOE engine. This sounds like the perfect way to run this game - and I'm apparently not the only one who thinks so:
Even without being able to play a book pirate this sounds like a terrific game - I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for it!

*Drive-thru-RPG Affiliate link. I make money, but not from you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Kickstarters Coming and Going

With the advent of Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms, it seems there's always a neat gaming-related project running. To illustrate this point, I'm going to highlight a couple that I'm currently backing, one that's just started and one that's almost out of time.

First off, Secrets of the Nethercity by Autarch is ending in just a couple of days. This project is actually two books, a city guide and a "kilodungeon"* filled with the remnants of a necromancy-fueled elf culture, both obviously intended for use with Autarch's Adventurer, Conquerer, King System** but easily adapted to the OSR system of your choice. While it's reached its funding goal, there are several stretch goals to go that will add details to the city setting, many of which will be unlocked in just a few thousand more dollars.

While I'm a bit behind in reading it all, I've been a big fan of Autarch's output thus far. I can also vouch for their customer service, having had a small problem during the fulfillment of their last Kickstarter, which was remedied within a day. So if you want to uncover the Secrets of the Nethercity, I certainly encourage backing it.

As for the new one, what it lacks in direct RPG content it more than makes up for in style and good ideas. I'm speaking of Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, which is currently in the process of funding its 9th and 10th issues.

 Or rather, it's funding Volume II, since the editor of Cirsova, P. Alexander, has said that even if the Kickstarter fails to fund, these two issues will be released on Amazon. Still, the Kickstarter price for these two magazines starts at just $1 for digital copies of both, so there's incentive to back now instead of later.

So what do you get for your $1? For the past few years, Cirsova has been publishing some of the best short fiction available in a pulpy/Appendix N/Weird Tales mode. While it tends towards Burroughsesque Planetary Romance, strict genre lines take a backseat to action and plot - the latest released issue includes cyberpunk, urban fantasy, and space pirates, while the first three issues available for free on the website include swashbucklers, Lovecraftian sword-and-sorcery, and weird Colonial-era yarns. No matter your taste in fiction, there's probably something here for you.

And as for gaming utility, there are a few stat blocks and one-page dungeons scattered throughout the magazine's run, but the real utility is giving a GM a wide variety of incidents, characters, and details to work into their own games - much as the original Appendix N did, and continues to do.

Like with Autarch, I'm a happy previous backer of Cirsova magazine. Neither of these fine publishers have any idea I'm writing this, my only benefit is that more backers means more and better content for everyone. So if either of these interests you, by all means help them out!

*Because it's big, but smaller than a megadungeon, you see.

**DriveThru affiliate link - generates a small percentage paid to me at no additional cost to you. Thanks in advance!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Discovery of the Day

While noodling about on eBay this afternoon looking for cheap copies of old Conan modules, I happened across the most interesting thing - a book called Conan and the Prophecy, published by TSR in the '80s as part of something called "Endless Quest" books.
Probably not by the Bond actor.
Further investigation shows that this was a line of choose-your-own-adventure type books taking place in various TSR properties - mostly Dungeons and Dragons, but also including Star Frontiers and a total of three Conan books.

Details of the plots are a bit on the scarce side, but what information is available suggests that these books are based more on Arnold Schwarzenegger than Robert E. Howard. To be fair, though, this was pretty much right when Conan the Barbarian was first released, so this is to be expected.

Less expected is the pair of Tarzan books that are also part of the Endless Quest lineup.

Unless I missed something rather major, the presence of Lord Greystoke is something of a puzzler. Edgar Rice Burroughs is, of course, in the famed Dungeons & Dragons  Appendix N, but for John Carter and Barsoom, not Tarzan's Africa. I actually can't think of any RPG that's based on Tarzan particularly, though his archetype often comes up as a character option in pulp-genre games. I've only read a few of the Tarzan novels, but there's enough of them that now I'm wondering if it would make a viable setting (and what you would do there besides be Tarzan). I do know he visits Burroughs' version of the Hollow Earth at one point, but again I can't recall a Hollow Earth setting that is Pellucidar, specifically, rather than just being heavily influenced by it.

Sadly, all five of these books seem to be quite rare and expensive now, I know I'll be keeping an eye out at garage sales and thrift stores for them. Like their digital descendant eBay, you never quite know what you might uncover . . .

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

6 Setting Crossovers for Your Savage Monster Hunter International Game

Unlike last time, as the current Monster Hunter International RPG Kickstarter has been going on, I've been refraining from giving constant updates on its status. Suffice to say that at this point, just 24 hours from ending, all the stretch goals have been hit and the deal is better than ever.

But perhaps you're unsure about how useful the new material will be. In that case, let me show you how it could easily mesh with some of your favorite Savage Settings:

East Texas University*: Probably the easiest setting to mesh with Monster Hunter International, as the basic premise is playing occult-investigating college students. As the typical ETU campaign has a built-in endpoint (graduation), it might be fun to have a recruiter from MHI show up to attract promising graduates. On the other hand, the college-town setting of Pinebox would be a good place to base a Hunter team out of, even if the PCs weren't enrolled in the school.

Chuck Finley: Zombie Hunter!
Tropicana*: A tropical island city-state crawling with spies, jet-setters, criminals, and modern-day adventurers of all sorts is almost guaranteed to have some monsters crawling around at the fringes. The company is called Monster Hunter International, after all, and wouldn't the PCs just love to take a job in a Caribbean paradise? Co-starring Bruce Campbell!

Deadlands*: It almost seems like cheating to mention this one, but as the Old West monster-hunting setting (now expanded to what the old MHI RPG called the Pulp Era*!) it's definitely worth a look. Of course it's a pretty crazy-gonzo alternate history, what with California falling into the sea, the Four Horsemen empowering undead monstrosities and mad scientists alike, and, worst of all for the Alabama-based Professional Monster Killers, a Union-Confederacy cease-fire.

Rippers*: For a slightly less gonzo 19th-Century monster-hunting experience, the world of Rippers is much closer to that of Monster Hunter International, by which I mean it's like the real world, except all the classic horror-movie monsters really exist. And while Bubba Shackleford may be reluctant to indulge in Rippertech, some of the other Hunter groups that existed back then may be less choosy . . .

50 Fathoms*: OK, this is an odd one, being a swashbuckling fantasy setting. It is, however, a swashbuckling fantasy setting that expects the PCs to be visitors from Earth, and there's nothing to say that those visitors couldn't be from the 21st rather than the 17th century! Whether they get caught up in the hag-curse related metaplot or just indulge in fish-out-of-water goofiness, a brief trip to Caribdus would be just the thing to shake up a Hunter team based out of Hawaii or Miami - or Tropicana, for that matter.

The Day After Ragnarok*: I love this setting, I really do. From the incomparable mind of Ken Hite comes an alternate world where Nazi sorcery unleashed a giant serpent on Europe, bringing about the ruin of every nation that touches the Atlantic. With the Confederacy on the rise (again) and snake-based monsters and magic popping up everywhere, there's plenty for WWII-era Hunters to involve themselves in, either as their standard globe-trotting adventurous selves, or perhaps pulling a Newton Knight and setting up their own independent settlement. Especially if they can navigate the wreckage of Europe and link up somewhere in there with Franks, who is undoubtedly beyond pissed at all this.

*Affiliate link. Provides extra gaming money to me at no cost to you.