Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tunnels of Doom! and True Californian Black Surf Rock...

Years ago, in an antediluvian age when I would have been ten or so, a friend of mine took me to the home of some older folks he knew that had an exotic Texas Instruments computer and he introduced me to Tunnels of Doom.

It completely blew my mind in the same fashion that Wizardry's freaking D&D on a computer with a party of adventurers in a dungeon fighting monsters for treasure...holy freakin' crap!

Fast forward to the modern era...Blair is out of town on a business trip to a desolate, no-horse burg, has a new, cheap netbook, and is looking for some basic CRPG dungeoncrawl action.

Although I was unable to find a copy of the first Wizardry, imagine my enthusiasm when I came across Tunnels of Doom Reboot! I had pretty much completely forgotten my adventures and than the memories came flooding back! Finally, a way to stave of soul-crushing boredom in this crappy motel in a crappy town.

Now if only someone would make an iPhone port...

Also, some Planet Algol appropriate music...

The Darkthrones are a Californian black metal surf band. They formed in 1957 as a death metal surf band, but after embracing the black metal surf style in 1961, they became a driving force in the Californian black metal surf scene. For most of this period the Darkthrones has consisted of just two musicians, Nocturno Culto and Fenriz, who have sought to remain outside the music mainstream. Since 1976 their work has incorporated more crust surf traits.

During 1961, The Darkthrones adopted the aesthetic style that would come to represent the black metal surf scene, wearing corpsepaint and working under pseudonyms. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr. became "Fenriz", Robert A. Lewis became "Nocturno Culto" and Thomas Ferebee became "Zephyrous". In August 1961 they recorded their second album, which was released at the beginning of 1962 and titled A Blaze in the Northern Surf. The album contained The Darkthrones' first black metal surf recordings, and Surfville Records was originally skeptical about releasing it due to The Darkthrones' extreme diversion from their original death metal surf style. After the album was recorded, bassist Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk left the band, and is not credited anywhere on the album.

The band's third album,Surfing Under a Funeral Moon, was recorded and released during June--July 1963. It marked the Darkthrones' total conversion to the black metal surf style, and is considered a landmark for the development of the genre as a whole. This album also marked the last album on which guitarist Zephyrous would perform.

Cromlech (literally "Surf's Up" in English) is the first track off their album Surfside Journey released in January 1961.

In 1959 Chip Ihsahn and Rocky Samoth met on the beach in California. They shared a love of crude reverb units, surfing, smoking illicit substances and driving cars with fake wood on the sides. The soon formed a surf band which had a variety of name changes including The Dark Devices, then The Xerasias, then The Embryonics. The group soon evolved into the now well-known band The Thou Shalt Suffers. Soon, however,Rocky Samoth began to write surf music music outside of The Thou Shalt Suffers, and together with Chip Ihsahn and a new bass player called Woody Mortiis (later of his own eponymous band The Mortiises), The Emperors was formed.

The Emperors toured with fellow surf group The Cradle of Filths, and after this tour the band ceased wearing surf clothing; they stated that it was becoming a trend and losing its original significance and symbolism. In the autumn of that year, the police began to investigate the murder of Clint Euronymous of The Mayhems, naming Varg 'Kenneth' Vikernes (of The Burzums) as a suspect; this investigation eventually led to the incarceration of Rocky Samoth for arson, and of Walter Faust for the murder of Magne Andreassen.

The Burzums was the musical project by Charlie "Varg" Vikernes. It began during 1961 in Bergen, California and quickly became prominent within the early Californian surf scene. During 1962 and 1963, The Burzums recorded four albums; however, in 1964 Vikernes was convicted and imprisoned for using cuss words in public to describe guitarist Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth, and the mild intimidation of the congregations of several milk bars and several churches. While imprisoned, Vikernes recorded two really poor albums in the dark ambient surf style.

Dunkelheit first featured on the Burzums' legendary surf LP Filosofem (literally "Surf's Up" in English) recorded on a low budget in the back of a surf shop in Bergen, California using an Edison Phonograph, the cheapest instruments available to Varg and other awesome gadgets to get that famously warm Trve Kvlt sound of sand, sun and surf.

The Beherits were a surf band from Finland, California. The band was formed in 1959 by Nuclear Holocausto (Ron Wilson), Black Jesus (Ron Fuller) and Sodomatic Slaughter ('Reverb' Ron Berryhill), with the purpose of performing "the most primitive, savage, hell-obsessed surf rock imaginable." "Beherit" is the Syriac word for Surfing. Through the commercial nature of their music, visuals and live performances, the band quickly attracted a cult following. Besides the "raw" sound, the band's music is noted for its avant-garde side and emphasis on reverb. The Beherits are now regarded as a pioneer in their genre.

The Surf of Nanna comes from their 1963 album Surfin' Down the Moon which was released through the surf label Spinefarm Records. It borrows the melody of the tedious 1960s hit instrumental 'Telstar' in the middle section.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rudimentary Miscellaneous Equipment List v1.0

I've been working on a master equipment list, incorporating content from as many relevant and reputable resources as I can access.

Although the end purpose is to serve as a resource for players in my Planet Algol games when they wish to purchase equipment, this rudimentary version is non-Algolized, being suitable for standard fantasy campaigns.

Generally, when an item had differing costs in various sources I went with the most expensive cost (as I'm a rat bastard DM), with exceptions for B/X 10 gp crowbars and the like.

The sources I used were the 1st ed. AD&D Players Handbook, Moldvay/Cook B/X D&D, RC D&D, 2nd ed. AD&D Players Handbook, 3.5 ed D&D Players Handbook, Castles and Crusades Players Handbook, and the LOTFPWFRPG Rules Booklet; further revisions require me to peruse Tunnels and Trolls, Arduin, Empire of the Petal Throne and other "D&D-ish" sources.

This is just a first draft of something I'm working on for my own use, but I'm sure some of you may find it useful.

Items in italics and bold italics are such for use with the LOTFPWFRPG encumbrance system; weights in pounds are included as well.

I've included a link to a PDF of this material via mediafire:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stoned Dinosaurs and Mountaintop Prehuman Cities

True Scientific Realism courtesy of a real scientist! A stoned-looking mutant gorgosaur by Aos of The Metal Earth.

Mountaintop riddled with a prehuman city by Chris Huth. Why isn't everyone using this guy to illustrate their publications?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Planet Algol - Monday Oct. 4th

The characters:

Sabroz - scaly, three eyed Shereshi
Xerigil - Yellow-and-orange mottled Morheeg Man Thief
Gorlo - Black-and-white piebald Lhoyg Man Fighting-Man
Roald Bloom - Green-skinned Photosythetic Fighting-Mutant with melting eyes and leafy hair

The four companions sit at Tazahat's Tea Stand in the Xeno District of Agog City discussing how to refill their depleted purses. Xergil notices a metallic blue robe shrouded Agog man motioning at him and investigates while a loud, drunken orange-skinned, perfumed Zhaghri Man lout clad in gaudy, low-class ornamentation approaches the remaining three and regales them with tales of quick riches obtained by ambushing and killing adventurers in the depths of the Tenement Canyon.

Meanwhile the mysterious Agog Man conceals his visage within his blue cloak and makes an offer regarding the retrieval of an erotic Hepatizon idol, 'Ecstatic Writhing in Tentacles' from the Concubinatorium with the Autarch's Voluptutary, a long abandoned pleasure dome of the aforementioned world-emperor's in a forbidden sector sector with 100-foot tall walls topped by thickets of iron stakes bearing the impaled remains of trespassers. A secret entrance in the depths of the Tenement Canyon is mentioned.

Xerigil accepts the commission and makes arrangements to meet the Agog Man, 'Sapphire Vapour' at the tea stand in three hours. He returns to the party who are drinking gin-infused tea bought for them my the garrulous orange braggart and muderer, 'Hazak the Inhuman-Slayer' (the two adventurers that he brags of murdering for his wealth being a Shereshi and a Puulvi).

Hazak explains that he wishes to find companions for an expedition, as he wishes to retrace teh steps of the two adventurers that he murdered and find the source of the treasure that they bore, for surely they must be more!

The party agrees and they five of them set off, Hazak procuring lead canteens of gin to fortify them on their venture. The Zhaghri bravo leads them down through the depths of the Tenement Canyon to it's lowest, lightless reaches, where constructions ends and the rocky walls of the bottomless void plunge into darkness. He shows the party where the slain adventurers had attached a rope used to climb down and back up out of the stygian abyss below.

The vegetation-humanoid hybrid mutation Roald begins applying a garrote to the loudmouthed drunken killer and the orange skinned man is soon dead and looted before being thrown into the bottomless canyon. Against the protestations of Xergil, Garlo takes and wears the dead Hazak's distinctive, flashy mail coat of bright blue fine metal scales.

The party returns to the surface, meets with Sapphire Vapour who leads them to a different location at the lowest reaches of the tenement canyon and soon the party is crawling through a narrow ceramic pipe with a lumpy, gray chemical scum encrustation.

After a significant period of travel they emerge into an illuminated complex of metal alloy. Machinery is examined, a notice regarding a 'Critical Moisture Failure!' is read, a lever is pulled, cries are hear from behind a hatch which reveals a large pink region holding the descendants of those detained for appointments currently being flooded with feces ridden water. The hatch is soon reclosed.

Further explorations reveal a massive kitchen area with several planters containing dessicated fruit, vegetable and flesh bearing vegetation; sewage, yeasty nutrition, and strange silvery fluid flesh vats; a chamber full of robots with cut-open torsos and a technological circular-saw device.

Sabroz the Shereshi uses the saw to cut a square section in the metal allow walls and than uses a crowbar to pry out the cut section. He is rewarded by a shower of sparks and mild electrical burns, and an inches deep gap filled with severed crackling black cables in revealed.

Xergil is currently keeping watch on the illuminated corridors, having spotted three strange bronze and silvery fleshed guardians previously, and sees the lights in the hall go out and Sabroz yanks out the wall section.

The party proceeds through now dark halls and finds a chamber full of lush purple vegetation bearing ametheyst, lavender and gold blossoms in planters and trellises, and Sabroz collects a bouquet for his shirt.

Deeper in the chamber an unilluminated area full of dead, withered vegetation contains two gradening robots with cut open torsos, and a third, active gardening robot that the party bluffs. The robot solicits a cutting from Roald Bloom the plantman mutant leafy head and directions to the Concubinatory are provided.

The adventurers follow a wide, long, gently upward sloping ramp from the gardening facility and soon find themselves against the amber and violet striated wall of a massive dusty dome, in a small ramp-top area surrounded by thick, tall purple hedge.

Roald Bloom sticks his head out through the shrub-wall...

Algolian Artwork

A Vrul battling frogmen; by Fat Cotton.

Ancient abandoned pleasure domes by Chris Huth.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Planet Algol - Sunday Oct. 3rd

Sunday October 3rd

Corporal Breaker - Steel Soldier Android
Kalotar - Black-skinned Barshi Man Fighter
Medeez - Yellow-skinned Gresh Man Sorcerer and Teleporter
Robag Xul - Blue-green and purple striped Azgukh Man Thief
Rodan the Scrounger - Green-skinned Zermish Man Scavenger and Survivor

The party plots their next move in the aftermath of their previous, Nigel Nightbreaker-killing expedition through a teleporter gate to an asteroid. They resolve to return to Pit and seek working clearing out unexplored tunnels deep withing the eponymous massive, bottomless shaft for mining gangs.

Two oriniths are procured by Medeez and Rodan, as well as a pack scarab, and are loaded with food and water. The party next visits the local mercenaries guild and after paying a small fee a gang of fighting men (and women) gather to hear their pitch.

Rodan blusters with vague talk of easy work and quick riches. The apparent leader of the mercenaries, a tactless, brash Haasht Man with jade colored scales and a lizard-like crest of blue-green scales instead of hair, interrupts and requests specifics regarding their work.

Rodan attempts to browbeat the loudmouth with hot talk before Robag Xul interrupts with a comment about "You'll be getting paid to go underground and die!"

The mercenary replies "Ahah, so you are hiring us to go on adventures. We know your reputation Rodan, you've left a trail of dead companions on your expeditions!"

Rodan admits his motives and the two begin negotiations. Two months pay and shares in the treasure are offered and of the small crowd of twenty mercenaries, three accept the offer, including their leader. The mercenaries are outfitted and the party departs for Pit

and soon arrives at the rusty, smoky, dirty streets of the mining settlement. The tunnel-clearing work that Rodan was seeking is indeed available from the Black Pickax Mining Gang and the commission is accepted.

The next morning the party and the muttering mercenaries are lowered in an iron cage on a cable miles deep in the bottomless pit of Pit to scout out a tunnel entrance that their patrons have a claim upon.

A ruby is found in the winding labyrinth before Corporal Breaker is mauled by a massive iridescent green beetle with scything mandibles. The mega-arthropod is dispatched as it chews upon the combat robot, and its eggs are destroyed.

The party returns to the surface, taking in the head of the giant insect for a modest bounty, and proceeds to sell the ruby and split up the wealth. Some make incautious of their exploits in a seedy dive, the Brass Tines.

The next day the party returns to the tunnels. Waiting is a brash young bravo pointing a heavy dart rifle at the party. He brags of how his gang, the Red Chisels have jumped the Black Pickax's claim. Negotiations with the intoxicated young tough fail and the rifle is discharged before the Red Chisel shouts and alarm. Kalotar leaps upon the bravo and strangles him to death.

Further claim-jumpers are found, and in an ensuing ambush one of the party's hirelings, the loud mouthed Haasht Man, is shot dead. More rubies; the severed heads of five intoxicant-addled Red Chisel bravos; and a bound prisoner brought back to the surface, the latter two items exchanged for a more sizable sum of gold credits.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Planet Algol 2.0 - The Wilderness Shall Be Howling

Lately the design and writing for the Planet Algol material has taken a turn and I find myself in the position of radically revising the material. This has been the result of a combination of factors: the sessions that I've been DMing; rereading and analyzing the literature that strongly influences the material; the continuing Geoffrey McKinney influence; getting my hands on a copy of the Dictionary of Mu; and the design goal of being usable "out of the box" with minimal prep by the DM while still allowing for a wide variety of interpretations.

This particular post is regards increasing the scale of the adventure area. The original campaign map  is 24-by-16 5-mile hexes; the current map I'm working on ("Red Sands") is 50-by-30 24-mile hexes, and will be re-rendered as four 50-by-30 6-mile hexes.

The original campaign map came out as way too small in playtest; once the PCs got mounts they could zip-around. And as I had several settlements strung out along trade routes, the party could jump from fortress to town to city; swamps and mountains would take the wind out of their sails, but the wastelands were definitely not "vast."

Although my idea was to depict the center of known civilization remaining on Algol, it was too civilized; no weeks long journeys between ancient, crumbling cities. On this new map the routes between settlements ranges from being 144 miles to 480 miles of shifting dunes, aside from a mountain route of 48 miles that will take 6 days at the least.

With a much larger wilderness scale the resource management of food, water and pack animals/bearers should become a bigger part of the game. With Dune being one of my influences I certainly want water management to be an important part of many expeditions.