Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Generations of Feuds

In certain sorts of post-Tolkien fantasy, it's become popular to ascribe to Dwarven cultures certain traits in common with the Scottish - the highland accents and love of strong drink come immediately to mind. Strangely, to my admittedly incomplete knowledge, although Dwarves are often portrayed as "clannish", these clans hardly ever end up feuding with each other, only with Elves and Orcs.

Thankfully, this oversight has been corrected by Trey(EDIT: Upon re-reading the original post, I have discovered that the author of this is not Trey, but Thomas Molyes) of From the Sorcerer's Skull, who has not only written up a handy list of inter-Dwarven feuds, but created a random generator to whip up even more of them. It's a 3d10 chart, so let's give this thing a spin:
  • Level of Animosity: 8 - Vicious - Any meeting between representatives of the clans will eventually result in violence unless a third party mediates somehow. Both clans are actively scheming to attacking/weaken the other clan, with multiple dwarves having lost their lives recently.
  • Reason for Feud: 8 - Differing (and often trivial) interpretations of one section in the extremely lengthy and boring dwarven legal codes, often relating to dwarven brewing laws.
  • Flavor: 5 - One clan is suspiciously tall for dwarves.

The impression I get from this is that what might have been a fairly innocuous difference over brewing standards has mushroomed into violence, probably based on accusations by one clan of Dwarves that the others are "No True Dwarves" at all. Heck, they might even have a point - if human armorers on the Discworld can try to take advantage of the perceptions of "Dwarven Quality", why couldn't brewers? I'm also reminded of Doctor Cornelius in C.S.Lewis' Prince Caspian - he was a half-dwarf who was sneered at by some of the other dwarfs.

So, let's roll with that: a violent feud between a clan of Dwarves, some of whom have intermarried with local Human populations, and another clan not so interbred, ostensibly over an arcane point of brewing law - perhaps, say, whether certain kinds of booze can be sold "outside the family"?

I like it, and it happens to fit in with a fantasy setting I've been toying with recently, so I'll hang onto it until later. It does have an undercurrent of racial animosity that could lead to some . . . unpleasant real-world associations, but I believe I'll let that lie as subtext. Overall I think the generator worked rather well - I enjoy a focus on Dwarves in this genre, so I can see myself coming back to this one. Thanks, Trey (EDIT: Sorry, Thomas)!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Real-World Dungeon Architecture

Via the always-interesting Subterranean Design Tumblr, I recently happened across this article, "10 Incredible Places Carved From Rock". It's positively brimming with images crying out for use in a dungeon of some sort. For example, check out this shot of Mesa Verde, a Pueblo cliff dwelling in Colorado:

Each and every one of those holes could be an entrance to somewhere different, depending on how deep it goes and suchlike. Even more impressive is Ellora, a temple complex and World Heritage Site in India:

And those are just a couple of the places on the list, any one of which would make for an excellent place to have an adventure or two.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

One Last MHI Update

It is rather fitting, perhaps, that the day before the Monster Hunter International RPG Kickstarter ends turns out to be Halloween. One suspects Larry Correia and the folks at Hero Games to have done it deliberately.

Anyway, the response has been amazing - with an initial goal of $45,000, the current total pledged is at nearly $76K. And what is everyone getting for their pledges? With all of the stretch goals that have been met, everyone who went for at least the PDF will be receiving:
  • A complete copy of the Monster Hunter International Employee's Handbook And RPG.
  • A PDF copy of The Devil's Dozen, a collection of villains and other NPCs.
  • A PDF containing four five MHI adventures.
  • Another PDF of monsters, villains, and other NPCs, these created by the backers - for an extra $100, you, too can contribute to the collection.

And that's not even including the hard copies, patches, and dice that can also be added. Best of all, that PDF of adventures? It'll get another added for every $5000 that gets raised in the next 24 hours.

After all that, I think a big congratulations is due to Larry, Steve Long, and everyone who's put in their contribution. And if you're still wondering what this MHI thing is all about, well, I can think of no better introduction than this:

"On one otherwise normal Tuesday evening I had the chance to live the American dream. I was able to throw my incompetent jackass of a boss from a fourteenth-story window. . . "

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monstrous Monday: Piranhamoose!

As the name suggests, these awesome creatures are hybrids, combining the might of the majestic moose with the ferocity of the freshwater piranha. How, precisely, this combination came about is a great mystery, though the influence of wizards and/or mad scientists seems probable.

Although in the wild the piranhamoose is a fierce ambush predator, if tamed it makes for a very distinctive mount.

Inspired - OK, stolen outright - from the webcomic Wondermark, the piranhamoose can be used in a variety of settings - for an OSR or other Dungeon Fantasy-type game, for example, it fits right along with other weird hybrid-animals. Now that I think of it, in fact, it seems like it'd be a natural enemy for the infamous owlbear. The stats for such a beast might look something like this (I'm using Labyrinth Lord as a guide):

Number Encountered: 1 (2d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 240' (80')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 2 (butt, bite)
Damage: 1d8/1d12
Save: F2
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: None
XP: 80

If ridden, carries as Draft Horse.

For a more Earth-like setting, it seems like the piranhamoose is most likely to be found in the weirder settings - could it be a post-apocalyptic mutation? A creature of Faerie realms? The creation of a deranged mad scientist? The possibilities are endless.

This post brought to you by:


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Monster Hunter Kickstarter Update

As the Monster Hunter International RPG Kickstarter heads into its final two weeks, funding is at approximately 125%. When it hits 130%, or $60,000 we'll hit the next stretch goal - dice! - but what do we have so far?

Well, in addition to the main book, everybody who pledges for at least the PDF will get a copy of the (first? One can only hope) PDF supplement, The Devil's Dozen:

". . . an illustrated PDF of 13 new villains, monsters, and NPCs dreamed up by Larry and written up by Steve. We thought you might enjoy a sneak peek at a couple of the ideas Larry's already sent Steve:
El MaldiciĆ³n, the Haunted Gun:  This old, intricately engraved, gold-inlaid Colt 1911 chambered in .38 Super seems to possess a strange sentience, and to bring misfortune and disaster to those who dare to wield it."

That right there tells you tells you quite a bit about both the MHI setting, and Larry's writing style. If you're still on the fence, you may want to give his short story Tanya: Princess of the Elves a try (note that there are technically spoilers for the first two MHI novels in there).

But wait, there's more - there's also two exclusive MHI unit patches available. One of them can be added onto any pledge for at least the physical book, for an additional $10 - honestly, I feel that's rather steep, but the patch is very cool:

There's another patch for the upper pledge tiers that's even better, so cool I have to link to it instead of showing you directly. Alas, I'm already in as far as I can currently go . . .

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Did I Tell You?

It's been less than 48 hours since the Kickstarter for the Monster Hunter International Employee's Handbook and RPG went live, and already it's raised over 2/3rds of the original goal. Of course, MHI author Larry Correia has been saying all along there's some great stretch goals planned, so if you're a fan of the series, the HERO system, or the genre in general, you could do worse than backing this one (and, for the record, the only thing I'm getting out of this is better perks if those stretch goals do get hit!).

If you're not (yet) a fan of the series, there's some sample chapters and short stories on Larry's blog to give you an idea of what to expect. Check them out!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Zeppelin Vs Pterydanthals

So, it's just about twelve hours until the deadline for the "Gimmie Your Weird Adventures" contest currently being run by Trey of From the Sorcerer's Skull (which blog was the basis of the Weird Adventures weird-pulp-fantasy setting). Inspiration having struck sooner rather than later, I did come up with this:

Zeppelin Vs Pterydanthals

A technological marvel meets a hitherto unknown civilization in Far Asciana.

Set-Up: Blown off course from their previous heading, an airship filled with adventurers and other passengers has just gotten its bearings when, suddenly, an attack comes from the jungle below. The attack proves to be the work of a previously unknown population of winged caimen, based out of a ruined temple complex.

Highlights: Dogfighting the Ptero-men in the airship's scout plane. A sea of green surrounding an ancient stone mountain. Ominous flapping from the darkened windows of the ship's lounge.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fun with 4dF

Via Fred Hicks' blog Deadly Fredly comes this neat chart for using the standard FATE complement of four Fudge dice to determine "the mood of the room":

Not only is this interesting for the idea that the ratio of friends to enemies in a given location is something that can be tracked and accounted for, but the use of Fudge dice gives the chart some interesting characteristics.

For example, as with every such chart that uses more than one die, not every result is equally likely - note the probabilities helpfully provided for determining whether a given result is more or less likely. This could be useful for a "random encounters" sort of table, where you would expect to find fewer, say, Plutonium Dragons than Potted Plants.

Using Fudge dice, in particular, adds another layer of complexity in that results can be largely sorted into "positive", "negative" and "neutral" groups. A couple of ideas here might be "Fellow Travelers on the Road" (admittedly conceptually similar) or "Contents Discovered in Storage Crates".

Thanks again to Fred for sharing this idea!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monster Hunter International RPG On the Horizon?

As announced by Monster Hunter International author Larry Correia here and here. Details such as publisher and system are sparse thus far, but apparently the current plan is to release the book via Kickstarter. That should be a sight to see, as in my somewhat limited experience Kickstarts (?) that have a premade fanbase tend to be quite spectacular. I hope Larry's got some good ideas for stretch goals . . .

In any event, being a big fan of the MHI series I'm quite excited about this news. I's tough to speculate on the details, though the author is a fan of Legend of the Five Rings (not that that probably means much). I could see this working in any number of systems, though GURPS is probably out due to their very similarly named, already extant series.

7 AUGUST EDIT: The Monster Hunter  International Employee’s Handbook And Roleplaying Game  will be produced by HERO Games for their Champions system. A Kickstarter campaign is scheduled for October.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Recursive Inspiration

So, it seems that there's an organization out there calling itself Fantasy Brewmasters, a craft beer company that takes its inspiration from classic fantasy tropes. About three months ago, it seems, they released their first flavor, Burdisson's Dwarven Ale. Old news, perhaps, but it's got a couple of ideas brewing*.

Helpfully, the brewers have provided something of an in-universe backstory for the beer (without actually tying it to any particular universe**, also helpful), with a short history and some in-character promotional material - all of which feeds back into fantasy gaming, for it seems to me that with the material provided a creative GM could craft any number of interesting encounters or adventure hooks. For example:

- Characters needing some quick coinage might take a job guarding the merchants on the trade routes to the brewery from their favorite tavern.
- The beer could suddenly develop an adverse affect - from sickness to mind control - on the drinker, prompting a visit to the brewery to find out the origin of the contamination.
- Or, instead of the beer poisoning the drinker, it's suddenly not being delivered on schedule. What manner of catastrophe has befallen the brewery?
- Finally, maybe the brewery just happened to be the biggest/only settlement around when some evil forces came tromping over the land. Huge vats and other industrial equipment would make a great arena for a running battle with the Armies of Darkness.

Even the artwork is evocative, as this Dwarven statue/waterwheel combination demonstrates. The same artist also drew a map that makes me suspect that Burdisson's isn't the only project from Fantasy Brewmasters that will prove so inspirational.

*Pun fully intended.
**Though there's some intriguing hints that future flavors may end up contributing to just such a thing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Somewhat buried by the fallout from yesterday's news about some fantasy game, came an announcement earlier today simultaneously from Fred Hicks (of Evil Hat Productions, publishers of The Dresden Files RPG), Mike Olson (FATE blogger and contributor to that version of The Kerberos Club) and Brian Clevinger (writer of the comic series Atomic Robo) of, well, exactly what you'd expect those three to collaborate on:

This is, to put it mildly, really exciting news for me - I've just recently become a fan of Atomic Robo, and I'm quite the fan of the guys at Evil Hat. Putting the two together, it's like the proverbial chocolate and peanut butter.

For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of Atomic Robo, I shall elaborate: Atomic Robo is a humanoid robot created by Nikola Tesla in the 1920s, who goes on to a long a fruitful career battling Communists, Nazis, cyborgs, Nazi cyborgs, giant ants, Thomas Edison, government conspiracies, and pretty much any other pulpish, Weird Science menace that rears its head throughout the twentieth century - and beyond.

I can't believe I nearly forgot the psychotic hyper-intelligent velociraptor.

If your interest is at all piqued by this I highly recommend checking out the various free online comic stories, which give what I think is a good overview of the character - most especially the Free Comic Book Day 2009 installment, from which the above panel comes (as you might be able to tell from the title of this post, Dr. Dinosaur is easily a favorite character, surpassing perhaps even Robo himself).

I'll certainly be keeping a close watch on this game as it develops - besides the latest permutation of the FATE ruleset, the potential of an Our World - type guide to the world of Atomic Robo is particularly enticing.