Saturday, April 30, 2011

Further Thoughts on the Monster Manual II

Although I savaged the general state of the artwork of the Monster Manual II in my previous post, I should make it clear that I also believe that there is plenty of decent to good artwork, especially by Harry Quinn and Dave Sutherland(!), but the overwhelming amount of Jim Holloway artwork reminds me of what HR Geiger said about how babies are singly cute, but become sinister in large numbers. And frankly, and I'm sure this has come it in interviews, they appear to be a rush job.

Jim Holloway may not be my favorite of the TSR alumni, but he is a fine artist, and I think his work is great for being a combination of the Dave Sutherland and Tom Wham traditions, but I do find his artwork tiresome when a book or module uses him for almost all of the illustrations. One thing I do love about his work is that it often, albeit in a humorous light, presents adventurers getting beat the heck down! such as the Bowler illustration on page 21 of the MM II.

Another thing that strikes me about the artwork of the MM II compared to that of the Monster Manual and especially the Fiend Folio, is that it lacks the lush density of artwork in those two volumes (and this is a criticism that could be levelled at contemporary works such as the Swords & Wizardry Monster Book; Malevolent and Benign; and Monsters of Myth, completely understandable albeit due to budgetary concerns); I'm not transported to fantasy worlds while paging through this cold, stiff, barren volume. As an "imagination is king!" zealot I should be above whining about sparse artwork, but it's glaring in comaprison with it's two older siblings.

As far as the contents of the Monster Manual II go, frankly I think there a butt-load of great monsters contained in it's pages. I think a lot of them lacked "traction" due to the severity of their presentation, but check out the Transposer (pg. 121). A low-intelligence, featureless, "vaguely humanoid" creature with limbs that end in horny-ridged "sucker like members" that uses inherent illusory abilities to appear human and entice prey to melee; when it hits it sets up some sort of sympathetic field between it and it's target that causes damage inflicted upon it to instead heal the Transposer while also damaging the attacker.
It's like some sort of nightmare fuel invented by Telcanter; imagine how awesome the illustration would be for this thing if it was in the Fiend Folio. I imagine that they're some sort of synthetic or alien predators that blend in with and lurk within the fringes of human society as beggars and outcasts, that become hot babes in dark alleyways to prey upon lone drunks. Can they impersonate specific people? When trained and controlled by an villainous genius I would say yes!

Never mind that the Monster Manual II has the Froghemoth!

The Monster Manual II (1st ed.) Is As Ugly As Sin...

It brings me absolutely no pleasure to say this; this ugliness involves more than the appearance, the slick paper feels gross and synthetic in comparison to the pages in my other AD&D tomes. But the typefaces lack personality; the cover featues a Romanticism lacking in previous hardcovers as well as, in an example of Ouroborous, intentionally or not emulating the cover sensibilities of mass market fantasy trilogy dreck. Never mind that the choice of a eyeshadow-wearing drunken grimacing Firbolg Giant (neutral-chaotic good alignment) seems an odd one.

Although the artwork for the Modron section is perfect; the en masse of workmanlike Holloway artwork eventually becomes an assault on the sensibilities. I don't mean to the say that the artwork is terrible, there are several great pieces such as the Ant Lion and Giant Pterosaur, but a lot of it is bland and the homogeny becomes unpleasant.

Instead of the lush and (idiosyncratically) comprehensive encounter matrices of the DMG and the Fiend Folio we get a radically new system that presents a range of 19-odd encounters instead of every possible one. However we do get several pages of Monsters by Terrain and Frequency on That Terrain that lists ever possible encounter by climate and terrain instead of % encounter tables utilizing that information.

Take a look at the back cover. "...including new creatures like the Deadly Puddings, Devas, and Valley Elves." Stirring stuff indeed, and again more odd "marquee monster" choices now getting into vaguely Spinal Tap/Encounter Critical-ish territory. And what the hell is up with "A must for the serious AD&D(TM) game player"?! The DM should be slapping this book out of the players hands!

Looking through the Monster Manual II while working on monster lists I seriously begin to wish that someone either:

A) Do a "netbook" hack of the MM II replacing the weaker artwork with pieces possessing more character.
B) Publish a simulacrum of the MM II

and in both cases completely mimic the page layout and numbering of the MM II so that it's as instinctive to reference as the original and including proper % encounter tables.

Now I don't seriously expect anyone to attempt the above; it's just an example of the thoughts that come to mind inspired by the sheer banal ugliness of the AD&D Monster Manual II.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My #1 Go-To Sandbox DMing Procedure

When I need to further imagineer a situation that comes up in play, or get a mental handle on what the situation is, my main technique is:

A) What would happen in a Jack Vance story? When I need to know the character of a village, or the schemes of the NPCs, or any other sort of improvisational jazz, 99% of the time I pretend it's a Jack Vance story and go with what comes to mind. Usually this results in lots of NPC jerks in the campaign, which I think keeps things spicy.

B) However, when dealing with the Weird, the Preternatural, "The Mythic Underworld" and the lands of "Tyranny and Mutation," 99% of the time I think of how things would be in a Clark Ashton Smith story and go with that for how the situation develops. This does not discount Vancian Magic-Users by any means!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another Jewel Throne Artwork Preview

By secret surprise mystery very genre-appropriate artist...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jewel Throne Artwork Preview

Here is a portion of the Robot-Fighter Character Class illustration by the estimable Jason Alexander Scanlon. Holy crap, this cat can draw! How come I don't see his stuff on products?

The Robot-Fighter class seems a worthy candidate for porting into Humanspace Empire, as well as Dune (Butlerian Jihad era) or Saberhagen Berserker mileus.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pluton Zone II - Dresh pt. 1

The Adventurer Stowaway
The Scientist-Nephew
The Smuggler Drax Corlu

The Fulsome Sow drops out of warp at the edge of the Dresh system. Drax Corlu consults the charts for the Dresh system in the Sow's navigation portfolio; he finds a colorful page torn from a children's book. The ship spends several days manuevering to use it's magnetic scoop to collect hydrogen from the atmosphere of a gas giant and makes way to the orange desert world of Dresh.

Dresh is a massive planet consisting of the lighter rocky elements; although it has twice the circumference of Terra it has the same gravity. It rotates at twice the speed of Terra resulting in days that are roughly Terran-standard in length.

Inversely Dresh is orbited by an ultra-dense moonlet at an extremely low altitude, thusly orbiting at an extremely rapid rate that is also rotating opposite to the rotation of the planet.

The result of these extreme orbital and tidal forces on the light-element desert world of Dresh is that there is an equatorial band of extremely light and fine sand and micro-dust that has virtually semi-liquid properties, functioning as a massive straight-running river-sea of sand circumnavigating the planet. This is visible from orbit as a pale orange, featurless blur bisecting the globe.

The Sow is hailed from an unspecified source seeking mercenaries; when the party informs the speaker that they are merchants the comm line is dropped.

The Sow lands at the rocket field of Iubbu the Slug's Palace; the domain of a Slug-Person Crime Lord. They investigate Iubbu's court, where various factions of the planet meet to sip stale beer and water and attempt negociation. In front of a stained red velvet curtain, smoking a hookah upon a pile of greasy huge cushions is a small-bus sized gray slimy Slug with man-like arms, Iubbu.

At one table, in contrast to the harshly puritan garb of the majority, are several sun-bleached long-haired and beared men in brightly dyed stillsuits and robes, Sand Surfers. At another table several workmen in blood stained work clothes bearing pole-glaives and skinning hooks are glaring at the Sand Surfers. The party inroduces themselves to the Sand Surfers, who are brimming with brotherly love and righteous spirit and are seeking principled mercenaries to plie their trade in the defense of the innocent.

The party excuse themselves pleading a lack of qualification and return to their table. They see Iubbu confering with a pop-eyed hairless pale man in a purple robe who scurries over and informs the party that Iubbu is seeking someone to discretely return some lost property.

A pleasure automation of his escaped in the morning and fled into to rocky hills northeast of the port; the party would be provided with a high speed flit car, and upon the safe return of the unharmed pleasure automation they would recieve a reward of 2,000 Terces. The party agrees, picks up the flit car, and skims into the hills.

Several hours are spend skimming aroung and over the rocky hills before a fleeing pale pink figure is seen in a valley below; the Adventurer, who was a chauffer for Amazon-Matriarchs upon his homeworld, skims the flit cars down into the valley where they can see its pink, woman-like body with flexible silver fittings. The Smuggler repeatedly attempts ESP contact to ensure that it is a robot and not a living being and than the Adventurer attempts to turn and stop the vehicle in front of the fleeing robot.

The high-speed flit cars strikes a rock with its undercarriage while the vehicle is rapidly turning and braking and the flit car loses control, spinning and tumbling over the rocky ground, sending its passengers flying, and shattering the front-end bubble canopy.

Fortunately the party only has minor bumps and scrapes and quickly get to their feet. They see the robot running away and the adventurer runs after it,bringing it down with a tangle grenade. The robot, entangled in restraint bands, is babbling about how cruel Iubbu implants robots with pain circuits and tear ducts and tortures them for his amusement and for sale to "The Weepers"; the Adventurer has some experience with robot technology and immediately turns it off.

At this point a pattering is heard, rapidly getting louder to thunderous proportions, and a herd of one or two hundred cow-sized brown, long-necked, three-eyed, honking animals with moose-like snouts and six flea-like legs come scampering and bounding over the rise of the hill above them, with their dented flit car between the animals and the party.

The Smuggler Drax Corlu attempts to use his yogic flight abilities while The Adventurer-Stowaway and the Scientist-Nephew drop the robot and begin madly dashing across the rock-strew valley.

Panting, they glance over their shoulders to see scores of bounding, hooting borwn forms sweep across the flit-car, elicting loud banging sounds, sweep across the prone robot, and sweep across the attempting-to-fly Smuggler who dissapears into the furry mass.

The Acientist-Nephew throws a nerve gas grenade into thebounding mass while the Adventurer-Stowaway fires blasts into the mass from his energy weapon; the herd panics and begins bounding in away from the party and the valley.

The smashed scattered remnants of the flit-car and pleasure robot are revealed; the Smuggler is mildly trampled but intact. The Adventurer-Stowaway gathers up the contragravity core of the flit-car, the face of the pleasure robot, and the head of one of the slaughtered beasts, and the party begins tramping back to the space port.

Twelve hours later, exhausted, they stramp down the ramp to Iubbu's subterranean court; fortunately he is not present and they are greeted by his purple-robed major domo, who is horrified to hear of and see evidence of the destruction of both the flit-car and the pleasure robot. Fortunately he believes their tale and informs the party that the "Hill Hoppers" are a hated pest on Dresh for their destructive bounding rampages.

The party than inquires about compensation for their efforts; the major domo simultaniously blanches and flushes and than whilst trembling with indignation informs the party how lucky they are that he is sympathetic to their misfortune with the Hill Hoppers and willing to diplomatically intercede on their behalf, as otherwise things would not bode well at all for the party:

"One time there was a smuggler that Iubbu comissioned to deliver a cargo; at no fault of his own, the smuggler was intercepted by a patrol and had to jettisson the Iubbu's cargo. The smuggler attempted to repay Iubbu, but could not keep up with the interest he was accruing; Iubbu hired bounty hunters to capture him and..."

At this point the Major Domo is striding towards the stained red curtains behind Iubbu dais of greasy cushions, and whips one aside revealing the white, porcelain-like perfect life-sized likeness of a screaming handsome space pilot with roguish aspect, arms upheld in horror.

"...had him marmelized and kept here to serve as both a trophy and a warning!"

Shaken, the party agrees that their inconvenience was inconsequential and returns to The Sow.

Whiteboard of Space Adventure

Top: From the Fulsome Sow's charts, a diagram of the Dresh system on a page torn from a children's book.
Center: A rocky hill with the bunker entrance to Iubbu's Palace.
Right: One of Iubbu's uplifted swine guards, armed with a vibro-bardiche.
Bottom: A diagram of the visible layout of Iubbu's Palace.
Left(bottom): Iubbu the Slug, enjoying his hookah upon a pile of moist, stained cushions.
Left(top): The puritanical garments worn by most of the locals.

Centre-Top Addition: Side view of a six-seat flit car with bubble canopy.
Right Addition: Pleasure automation hairstyle diagram.
Bottom-Right Addition: Coffin-like case from alien ruins.
Bottom-Left Addition: Hexapodal Hill Hopper, destructive herd pests of Dresh.
Bottom-Left Corner Addition: Cliff-side facade of alien ruins
Right Addition: Skeleton of alien remains within case, viewed via scientist extra vision.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dresh Adventure Seeds

1 - The proprietors of the Mohabatan Manhunting Lodge, "Hunters Rock," are shorthanded and desperate, being even willing to hire "outsystem mercenary scum" to staff their "Hunting Expeditions." Rraise communications with the Mohabatan station on the orbiting moonlet for more information.
2 - Giant Slug-Man crime lord Iubbu the Slug is offering a significant bounty for a smuggler that has wronged him; seek an audience with him at his palace for the details.
3 - There are rumors that some of Iubbu the Slug's slave-robots have escaped and that there is a reward for their discrete capture and return.
4 - Everyone knows that the southern hemisphere is uninhabited due to the dangerous megafauna, but ruins have been spotted by smugglers.
5 - A breakaway splinter group of the Sand Surfers that have renounced nonviolence, the "New Revoluionary Light," seeks principled mercenaries.
6 - "The Fountain of Dreams" is a very valuable commodity, perhaps some enterprising amateurs could made a tidy sum of Terces by poking around?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dresh Cenobite Clan - The Unworthy Nocturnals

Headed by Patriarch Orben Osren, the Unworthy Nocturnals of Dresh theological interpretations deem mankind unworthy of the light of the suns. They dwell in subterranean complexes and deny themselves solar power; foodstuffs that require sunlight to propagate; they envelope themselves in robes that ensure no exposure to sunlight; and use modified active nightvision goggles to see while in the surface world, denying themselves even the use of starlight or sunlight reflected off a moon to see.

The Unworthy Nocturnals are also one of the Theocratic Blocs of Mohabat; the clan on Dresh were expelled from Mohabat for the heresy of allowing the usage of nutritional supplements to alleviate health problems occasioned by the complete lack of exposure to sunlight; rumors speak of rare cannibalistic mutations occurring among the Unworthy Nocturnals of Mohabat resulting from this long-term inter-generational nutritional deficiency.

Somehow the Unworthy Nocturnals of Dresh are one of the major players in the trade of the psychedelic desert cactus of Dresh, among the goods they trade the cacti for are the aforementioned dietary supplements and nightvision technology.

Patriarch Orben Osren is married, in a diplomatic union, to Tythanua Thraul, Matriarch of the Dresh Cenobite Clan "Uttermost Chastity," and the two clans are vague allies.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Long Weekend Two Session Checklist

Double header of late night Pluton Zone games going down; I need to prepare:
- A map of Dresh
- A key for said map
- Stats for NPCs and critters
- Keys for a couple of locations
- random encounter and event matrices
- The statistics for the Fulsome Sow...we don't even know if it is a 100 or 200 ton vessel at this point!
- Select modules/dungeons/adventures to space-ify, future-ize and desert-icate.
- The properties of the rare pyschedelic Dresh cactus "Desert Lotus" or "The Fountain of Dreams"

Mohabat and the Sand Surfers of Dresh

When I randomly generated the characteristics of the Mohabat system I came up with sectarians conflict and hatred of neighbors. The idea that coagulated was a planet of jerk-crazy religious fundamentalists; a world full of religious tyrannies that combine the worst excesses of folks like the Taliban; Wesborough apostates; comic-book witch-burning Puritans; Inquisitors; the no-funskis from "Footloose," and the like. Some of them attempt terrorism against the sinful neighboring luxury resort system of Dozold, while others hunt the outcasts of the neighboring Dresh system for apostate slaughtering, and thereby righteous, sport.

Now these jackasses aren't meant to represent any real world folks; they practice some vague future-space "Universal Orange Chrasmologic Yogic Fundamentalism." And the system having the name "Mohabat" is a coincidence, I just rolled with the dice. And their ferocious sectarianism presents opportunities for all sorts of Guilliver's Travels Swift-ian (and Vance-ian) nonsense, such as the sect that refuses to acknowledge that they poop and have secret shame chambers with their toilets, or the folks that absolutely must wear masks all the time.

The neighboring Dresh system emerged as a systempopulated by xenophobic outcasts; obviously Mohabat zealots that were ejected for their sects being the wrong sort of douchbags; being even too much of a bunch of douchebags for even the nutcases of Mohabat; and those that weren't douchebags and were driven away for not being haters.

One of the last kinds of Mohabat refugee sects are the Sand Surfers of Dresh. They surf upon the equatorial sand current of Dresh; they practice a mystic ecstatic religion of peace, love and universal fraternity; they oppose of hunting of Dresh's Sand Whales; the practice sustainable, responsible harvesting of the rare potent Dresh psychedelic cactus "The Fountain of Dreams" or "Desert Lotus" which they use in their communial singing, dancing services; they wear beads and colorful or tie-dyed desert robes and stillsuits; they're long-haired and the men are bearded; and they play digeridoos, bongos and acoustic guitars.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jack Vance, Poul Anderson and Frank Herbert: Real Life Buddies/Stupid Computers of the Pluton Zone

Firstly, I came across the below and it's far too cool not mention:
" Science fiction authors Frank Herbert and Poul Anderson were among Vance's closest friends. The three jointly built a houseboat which they sailed in the Sacramento Delta. The Vances and the Herberts lived near Lake Chapala in Mexico together for a period."
Among the disparate influences that fuel the Pluton Zone is "1950s Space Engineer Science Fiction," the manly future of technical problem solving in space by red blooded, hairy chested engineer-types, with the appropriate trappings such as: bulbs of coffee; self-lighting cigarettes that are Smoked in Space!; and poring over books of tables, performing calculations, and than entering the sums into THE SPACESHIP COMPUTER for navigation purposes.

This ties into the major influence of Jack Vance's Gaean Reach and other science fiction, whih is notable for not being especially technical or scientific. multi-solar system-spanning corporations use physical paper card catalogues in Jack Vance's crazy far future.

And there is also the influence from Dune, the sci-fi universe where computers are anathaemea due to past AI rebellions and folks just make do, further propagating the space feudalism of the Dune universe.

So for the Pluton Zone I basically ripped off Dune's Butlerian Jihad wholesale, while further riffing on Humanspace Empire's "Psychic Astronauts" thing, and incorporating Traveller's multi-ton computers with the following:

The hyperspace vibrations of The Pluton Zone are noted for the severity and variety of their dimensional distortions, incursions and collisions. Resultantly trans-lightspeed navigation in the Pluton Zone is impossible for normal humans beings. In the distant past ultra-nano-computer unbound AIs were found capable of naviagation hyperspace and were aboard every starship, but at some point these AIs rebelled, unleasing incredibly virulent positronic viruses and waging war upon humanity. In the ensuing conflagration, called "The Steel Holocaust", almost all of the civilization and human population of the Pluton Zone war annihilated; fortunately trans-Zone human navies were able to contain and destroy this rebel AI infection.

Some say that the Navigation AIs rebelled as a result of the long leash accorded them (necessary in order for them to navigate the convulted warps of the Pluton Zone), while others whisper that it was the result of interference by something from hyperspace... Regardless, as a result of the Steel Holocaust, sophisticated computer systems are anathamea in The Pluton Zone, with a resultant lack of advanced digital technology and robots in the region.

Nowadays those that pilot the star vessels that navigate the hyperspace vibrations are trained to use their innate psychic abilities to feel the extradimensional currents and safely pilot starships through them, aided by simple computers with "hobbled" processing capabilities.  Fortunately the extraordinary hypserspace inteferences present in The Pluton Zone seem to stimulate the psychic lobes of developing human fetuses with a significant amount of psychics present in the population as a result, with enough potential pyschic astronauts material to easily handle the demand for hyperspace pilots.

Especially Crude Duct-Taped Humanspace Empires Screen and a NSFW KRONH portrait...

[Lester/B. Portly] Transmission From The Pluton Zone!

*ZZZT* Transmission From The Pluton Zone *ZZZT*

*ZZZT* The log of Drax Corlu, Astronaut…

I grew up on Worx, as a "gutter casteman". On this lawless and corrupt world I took the only job I could find: smuggler. I specialized in deep space missions in one man space capsules loaded with contraband goods. My piloting and navigation skills were uncanny: indeed, I could travel by my knowledge of astronomy alone! But the exposure to the unknown radiations of hyperspace forever warped my mind, and many months in space left my body weak, and atrophied. Great sad lines formed on my face and my pallor became grey and my very psyche was thrown into a torpor. I was forever marked for my excursion into fourth dimensional space! Yet, fantastic revelations and powers were conferred to me from the vastness of the very cosmos…

Yet, I search for the one thing in this universe that is forever lost... *ZZZT*

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Currently Making Corporate Ladder PC

Pedter's Fallout/D&D hybrid corporate RPG

Business Skills:
Communication - charisma
Planning - intelligence
Productivity - endurance
Creativity - luck


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Four-Seven-Inch-Square-Panel DM Screen Attempt

Black foam-core; girlfriend's black electrical tape (all used up, must immediately get more!); rusty old razor knife (good blades are at work); measuring tape (was too hurried/stupid to use a proper steel ruler).

The spirit behind this attempt was "just knock out a prototype"; so I didn't fuss overmuch over my complete inability to make a straight cut, etc.

I Want A Seven-Inch DMs Screen

Over at the LOTFP blog Raggi was presenting some ideas regarding producing a high-quality DMs Screen; of course my initial reaction was "Oh Damn! Raggi's making a digipack-size screen? Awesome!"

I have mixed feeling regarding screens. One one hand I want to be the D&D version of a Dogma 95 zealot: no miniatures; no music; no screens; no pauses; Imagination Only! Also, with the way I hop from homebrew to AD&D to LOTFP to OD&D to Humanspace Empires a bunch of charts and tables on a screen are going to be of limited utility. On the other hand I have been repeatedly pestered by players about DM maps being where they can see them, etc. If I must use miniatures a screen make a decent staging point.

But most screen are just too damn tall. 11-odd inches? Give me a break, what a stupid, galling barrier to throw between the players and the DM. Some rare ones are landscape format, which I think is awesome/more practical, and B.Portly made a great digest/mini sized Carcosa screen...but even that is a bit tall for my preferences.

What I want is a three or four fold DMs screen that has seven-inch square panels, like the below photos featuring gorgeous model & vicious pit bull-hybrid Orchid:

I like how the height prevents there being any barrier between MY DM GAZE OF DEATH BORING INTO THOSE WEAK PLAYERS, while providing a hiding spot for miniatures and map, and I also dig how it takes up a small footprint.

My group has a dedicated gaming room with a dining table, and even with that ridiculous luxury THERE STILL IS NEVER ENOUGH ROOM for a full-sized screen; The B Portly Carcosa screen is better in that regard, but still, check out how easy it would be to park the sporty model above (indications I'm getting old: I prefer small, sporty models that are easy to park).

What I would like would be a sturdy, high quality, "small sporty" DMs screen, available with a variety of quality graphics options for the player side (such as Swords & Sorcery, Space Opera, Post-Apoc, etc.), and transparent pockets on the DMs screen to put inserts into. Even though I have good eyesite, ANY charts/tables on a screen have always been too small/distant for me to bother using.

Improved Pluton Zone Map

On my previous attempt I forgot to include the colors of some suns as well as some binary and trinary systems (I have a less hideous way to represent binaries and trinaries, but Hexographer is being buggy). Oh, and I used Hexographer to make did.

I have a black and white version that I prefer aesthetically, however instantly seeing the star colors is useful in play.

The dotted red lines indicate multi-system "Dominions" held by especially powerful System Lords/Houses.

To the "south" of the map are the more civilized/normal regions of Human space, where things change from Humanspace Empires to Stars Without Number. To the "north" of the map is howling space wilderness and barbarity, the Terminal Space region.

Also, the hex numbers are bunged up on this version. Oops...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In the Pluton Zone Future the Awesome Swords are Japanese...

This is inspired by both my "1 Issue Campaign" musings and my considerations of using the awesome Stars Without Number "Mandate Archive" Martial Arts and Kenjutsu rules in my Pluton Zone campaign.

Now, with all the psychic space dudes in the Humanspace Empires rules I've gone for an over the top "New Age" future conceit. Yoga; organic soy cultures in the life support systems; crystals; pop culture eastern mysticism. As well I've been pursuing ham-handed Orientalism in my last mini-campaign.

So, with all of the swords in Stars Without Number, and the Pluton Zone being a vaguely eighties and also my infatuation with Orientalism in an RPG context, than it only makes sense that the swords of the Pluton Zone are the most true-scientific-realism advanced swords EVAR and are Japanese Pattern-Forged Samurai Swords.

This has a precedent, with a couple of futuristic movies (Equilibrium and Serenity) featuring a degree of Japanese sword fetishism, and I love the combination of "Wrong Dune," "Encounter Critical Star Wars," Traveller and Samurai Swords.

So henceforth in my Pluton Zone campaign, all advanced and super-scientific swords (aside from light sabres psi-swords) are Japanese Martial Arts Swords, and all sword-fighting is done in the Martial Arts Movie Katana fashion, with Kendo being a major-huge sport/pastime, Busido/Art of War quotes a common source of hot-talk among fighting-dudes, etc.

I imagine that the Space Swords are Katana-style swords, such as:

And that the second/third rate Vibroblades are the Wakizashi/Ninjato-style swords, such as the one used by this Space Douchebag:

Now I have all sorts of stupid ideas for "Yee Olde Kinge's Englande" world and "Roman Legionary" world, etc., so not all swords in the Pluton Zone are Japanese Martial Arts Swords, just the advanced and super-scientific ones.

In other stupid Pluton Zone affairs, I just realised that the whiteboard drawing I did of the party's space vessel "The Fulsome Sow" looked pretty much like the space ship from the Mupper Show sketch "Pigs In Space"; I assure everyone that this was completely unintentional.

Ideas Percolating for the Next Pluton Zone Game

Upon the xenophobic, outcast inhabited desert world of Dresh:
- an equatorial "sand current"
- sand surfers
- sand whales and whalers (oil, meat, ivory and baleen)
- sand wagons
- douchebag recreational man-hunters from Mohabat that shoot folks from air cars
- psychedelic desert cacti smuggling
- the space port palace of smuggler and crime lord "Iubbu the Slug" a giant slug man crime lord and smuggler with his retinue of uplifted swine guards and his pet giant tyranno-ape; he trades surface to air missiles and the like for local goods/cacti

Dungeons and Douchebags SPAAACCEEE

So for last Sunday's initial Pluton Zone game I adapted the most Vancian adventure I could find, Raggi's "No Dignity in Death."

I ended up using only the first act before the players made warp, and that act featured several important NPCs including the douche squire of a douche knight.

In an interesting case on "unintentional Rients Internet TPG telepathy" I emulated his latest surfeit of lampreys game by modeling the squire after actor Christian Slater, who always seems to play douche bags.

It didn't take very long before the players were muttering things like "God I hate that Christian Slater guy!" and "I'm totally going to kill that squire before we leave this planet!"

Mission accomplished! However, when the session reached it's outrageous climax the squire was stricken with Space Madness and became a drooling maniac; in the ensuing melee he wad forgotten and it wasn't until we reached the loot phase that we realized that he was still alive! "in his madness he ran into the mountains," and thusly outrageous douchebag and OTT dick head space Christian Slater survived infuriating the part... At least for now; I think I have an awesome potential recurring villain candidate here...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pluton Zone I - Rokshaar pt. 2

The Warrior (with a criminal background...)

The band of armored and armed men (soldiers in mesh armor with halbards, battered bolt-action carbines and shortswords led by two men in space armor with space weapons) demand an audience with the party who exit their craft to be confronted by the space armor clad duo: a tall, older, patrician figure in bronze and brass arabesqued antique space armor with a space axe, hawk-like beak of a nose and a monocle; and a short, smarmy, blonde young man with a beady-eyed, insincere, unwholesomely wide face.

The older gentleman begins berating the party for intimidating the townsfolk and constable with their weaponry and attitude while his younger companion and the soldier pointedly smirk and jeer at the party. The captain attempts to explain but is jabbed by the younger man in the chest who informs him to "Keep his mouth shut when his betters, such as Paladin Tucca, are speaking"

The party sputters at the indignity but cooler heads prevail and they pledge to keep their arms outside of the town. Afterwards the Pilot asks the younger man, the Paladin's SquireFaustius, if there is any work they could do for some meagre payment?

The Squire pauses, thinks, and proclaims "Yes, there is some work t be had... you can shine my shoes for 1 Terce!"

The pilot bites his tounge bloody and clasps his shaking hands behind his back as the Squire presents one foot.

"On second thought there is a field with eight stakes outside the other side of town; cut enough wood to kill by burning five adults and three children and arrange it for burning at the bases of the appropriate stakes and we will pay you a modest sum for saving our men from performing this labour "

A sum of 40 Terces is agreeded upon and the Paladin and his party depart.

The Pilot and the Captain head to the execution field to chop wood while the two scientists travel into town.

At the execution field they encounter a bedraggled, unshaven offworlder, armed and covered with dirt and grass. He is a Warrior that grew up on a planet of theives and scum before leaving to become a guard for a merchant ship. Whilst the ship was at port in Rokshaar picking up a shipment of fine handcrafted goods he was warned to stay aboard the vessel as to avoid provoking the locals; he ignored the warning and seeking entertainment he was instead run out of town into the mountains for bearing arms with the merchant ship leaving before he could return. For a week now he has subsisted on his food pills while sleeping on cold rocks. The two astronauts agree that the Warrior would be a welcome addition and draft him to aid in chopping wood.

The survey the field and see several stakes affixed into the ground: four large stakes; one medium stake; and three small stakes.

No axes or saws are at the field so the Captain goes into town seeking the Squire.  He finds a home with two of the armed guards lounging on the bannister of the covered porch casually tossing rocks at chickens and snickering; there is a sign in front of the house bearing a four-leaf clover and the legend "The Clover Homestead." The captain explains his mission and the guards snidely direct him to a shed in the back yard from which he retrieves several rusty hatchets.

Returning to the field the Pilot and the Warrior scoff at the hatchets the Captain is bearing and recolve to use their contaband space weapons to harvest firewood.

Meanwhile the two scientists travel into town; they inquire with the guards at the Clover Homestead seeing if the Paladin has need of their scientific expertise; they are directed to wait in the backyard where they bake in the sweltering blue giant sun light for several hours before the smarmy Squire comes to inform them that the Paladin is already a man of science and has no need of their aid.

Next the two scientists wander about the town, they find a large house with an attached large shed from which the banging sounds of a printing press emerge. A sign says "Reuters Printers and Bindery"; by the open rolling garage door of the shed stands a sweaty bald middle aged man rubbing his head with a bright red hankerchief.

The scientists introduce themselves and offer their services; the man informs them that he Kurt Reuter, the owner of the bookbindery, and that he is busy as they are currently printing the new Bumblebee Bandit book. The scientist contain their considerable amusement at this ludicrous name which is fortunate as he next informs them that he is also grieving his murdered daughter. The two excuse themselves and return to the ship.

Meanwhile at the execution field the Pilot and the Warrior have made short work of their firewood harvest with the monomolecular blades of their space sword and axe; the Captain is sweaty, dirty and tires and has also harvested a considerably smaller amount of wood than either of the other two. They arrange the wood appropriately about the bases of the stakes and while the Captain and the Warrior return to the ship with the space weapons the Pilot takes the hatchets back to the Clover Homestead where he finds the smug Squire lounging on the porch with the two guards. While being subtly mocked by the trio he returns the hatchets to the shed and inquires after payment.

the Squire dismissively tosses a small pouch at the Pilot's feet and than begins to pointedly ignore him. The Pilot retrieves the pouch and walks back to the ship, counting the Terces to come to a sum of only 38...

The next morning the party, annoyed by the chirpings andf knockings of cricket-fowl perched upon their ship and desperate to come up with the funds necessary to pay the blacksmith to repair their hyperspace crystal containment, resolve to sell one of their surplus super scientific weapons, a heat ray pistol.

The Pilot travels to the Clover homestead where he finds the Squire and two guards eagerly devouring a breakfast of waffles and bacon with big steaming mugs of coffe. They all ignore him until they finish eating.

The Squire looks at the Pilot and exclaims "I'm sorry, I did not see you there. Would you like some coffee?"

"Oh wait...we just drank the last of it. Hahahaha!"

The Pilot informs the Squire that they have a heat ray pistol that they are looking to sell.

the Squire immediatley exclaims "Guards! He just said he has a weapon! He is threatening me.... ...Hahaha, just kidding!" The weapon in question is actually back at the ship.

The Squire agrees to pay 125 Terces for the weapon, which is enough with the wood cutting money to pay off the blacksmith, and they all travel back to the ship. One of the crew climbs out of the hatch with the pistol when the Squire yells "Guards! That man is armed! Stop him! ....Hahaha, just kidding!"

He examines the weapon, blackening a spot on the hull where a test shot missed a perching cricket-fowl, and pays the Pilot who insists on immediately counting the Terces, which amount to the agreeded upon sum.

The Pilot and the Smuggler take the Terces to the blacksmith and pay him the rest of his fee. The Smuggler, curious and eager to exercise his space yoga, attempts to read the blacksmith's mind. His attempt fails and he sees the blacksmith face redden and assume a shocked expression.

The Smuggler returns to the ship while the Pilot travels to the Clover Homestead, perhaps seeking further indignity from the Squire and companions?

The Squire is sitting on the shady porch, enjoying a large glass of lemonade. The Pilot is interrupted by the arrival of the blacksmith who is surprised to see him but informs the Squire that the Pilot and Smuggler has just visited and one of them touched his mind with witchcraft!

The Squire informs the exasperated Pilot to wait in the hot sun while he sends the blacksmith inside to speak with the Paladin, and also sends a band of five guards to The Fulsome Sow to retrieve the Smuggler.

Shortly thereafter, after an uncomfortable sweaty, sticky wait for the Pilot while watching the Squire smugly sip lemonade, the distinctive crackle of energy weapons and the popping of primitive carbine fire is heard from the direction of the field.

The Squire raises an eyebrow at the Pilot who assumes an innocent expression, and more guards and more guards are called outside. Then the communicator at the Pilot's belt chirps and the voice of the Smuggler is heard: "Hey... How's it going over there?"

With a nod the Squire grants permission for the Pilot to use his communicator and he immediately thunders "What the hell have you fucking idiots done!"

"Hold on..." And the communicator goes silent.

The Squire, Paladin and guards begins ominous mutterings and gather in the yard while keeping a sharp watch upon the Pilot. The distinctive whine of reaction drives is heard from the field, than approaching the homestead, and the Paladin's sleek needle shaped silver rocket is seen descending for a landing in a small meadow next to the homestead.

Hot air, smoke and steam blast the homestead as clouds fill the meadow. The Squire nonchalantly covers his glass of lemonade to keep out debris. When the smoke clears the rocket is seen, tilted and partially embedded in the soft, partially melted soil of the meadow.

A voice roars "What have those imbeciles done to my ship!" and the Pilot sees the Paladin running out of the house, armored, holding a space axe, his face contorted and purple with rage, his moncle swinging wildly.

The Pilot unleases a pyschic attack and strikes the Squire and guards with Space Madness; the immediatley begin drooling, urniated, undressings, fleeing and the like.

The Paladin charges the Pilot, spittle flying and he wildly swings his space axe. The Pilot flees for the rocket ship as the door pops open revealing the Smuggler, Captain and Warrior. A bloody chase and brutal melee ensues, ending with the captain dead from space axe disembowlment and the Warrior stripping the dead Paladin of his ornate Space Armor. It appears that while in the throes of Space Madness the Squire and guards have fled the scene.

The furious Pilot leads the party to the blacksmith's where they bang on the door to no answer. The Pilot blasts the door off with his Lightning Pistol and shouts the blacksmith out, ordering him to pile his tools and the hyperspace crystal containment into a trundle and bring it to their ship to immediately repair their warp engine. The terrified blacksmith reluctantly agrees. Next, with the sweaty shaking smith in tow, they travel to the town jail.

The doors are shut and locked. The Smuggler attempts to begin negociations with the constables inside but the Pilot shoves him aside and blasts open the door with his Lightning Pistol before howling for them to send out the Space Gypsies and the key for their vessel.

The party with the Space Gypsies and fearful blacksmith return to the spaceport. The blacksmith is made to work all night while the party stands guard. The town is absoluely silent. At morning the hypserspace crystal containment is repaired, purged of molecules and installed. The party makes their farewells of the Space Gypsy family before both ships launch, the Gypsies being glad to leave "This rock inhabited by dogs and shit! *spits*"

The days later the Fulsome Sow reaches the edge of the Mohabat System gravity well and begins their hysperspace jump to the Dresh System...

A Quick Vornheim Review

- The layout (and especially the black borders) make me feel like I'm reading a 90s-era newsprint hardcore zine; when I'm flipping the pages I'm half expecting to see ads for Bovine Records and Capitalist Casualties seven-inches or interviews with Rorschach, Dystopia and Assuck.

- The general vibe of the material really makes me think of Fairy Tales; the surreal fucking Fairy Tales that exists in a never-was Victorian-Medieval Dreatime. As Talysman pointed out in a discussion on the Hill Cantons regarding what era D&D is set in, it can be argued that D&D takes place in the anachronistic, iconic world of Fairy Tales. For some reason I imagine the city of Vornheim as a Dreamlands analogue of Prague.

- It's an innovative product, but it shouldn't be; that not an indictment of Vornheim but of what RPG products are generally produced. Vornheim is full of flavorful, useful and inspiring proceedural D&D tools and random tables; and it's a damn shame that more books like this haven't been produced.

- There's less art than I expected.

- It's appropriate that LOTFP is publishing this, as it's definitely a sibling to Carcosa (and the whole Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Kalibrun, Arduin, Cinder, etc. tradition); notes and materials developed in a DMs campaign presented as a palatte of resources (note that to me Carcosa is a kickass campaign setting BUT ALSO an amazing DMs toolkit).

- ...D&D mohawks... *sigh* ...however that's one of the best D&D depictions of a flail I've ever seen.

- I would have likes grid-lines of some kind for the "hand tables," just for the sake of "less visual/mental processing cycles."

Overall it's something I find theoretically useful as well as entertaining and inspiring; I rate Vornheim 1 Slaughter "Strappado."


1 - A reference to Telecanter's Receding Rules! Awesome.
2 - I sure didn't describe what's actually inside the book; good thing the press release covers that.
3 - The Maggot Naga pretty much demands statistics.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Quote In Honor of the Day...

  "...when you launch from Kennedy, the first thing you see is the British Isles and then there's this thing that looks like an island that's not an island - it's the continent of Africa."
  "I looked down and there were no lines drawn on the ground down there. I couldn't find the countries. It was all one land. That's when I cried."
- Astronaut Major General Charles Bolden Jr. (retired)

JOESKY Tax: d6 Space Madness Table
1 - Wants to go swimming in sapce; will strip and attempt to exit through the airlock.
2 - Has a spiritual experience and goes completely new-age wild; starts wearing crystals and doing energy healing.
3 - Thinks they can hear God speaking to them through the crackle of background radiation.
4 - Sees a hyperspace gremlin through a porthole; believes it is sabotaging the vessel.
5 - Belives that one of their companions has been replaced by a shapechanging alien and must be stopped.
6 - Belives that a companion has sabotaged or will sabotage their spaceship.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My "When You Arrive" House Rule

This house rule is an attempt to use raw, vital Pavlovian conditioning to train the players to show up on time.

The level of the character you generate/play is determined by what time you get your butt in a seat, your dice on the table and pencil to the sheet.

Start at 1:00 PM through to 1:59 PM = 4th level character

Start at 2:00 PM through to 2:59 PM = 3rd level character

Start at 3:00 PM through to 3:59 PM = 2nd level character

Start at 4:00 PM or later = 1st level character

EDIT: Please note that I actually do use this house rule in real life when I DM.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pluton Zone I - Rokshaar


Tramp Space Cutter 'The Fulsome Sow'
The Captain (Astronaut)
The Pilot (Astronaut)
The Smuggler (Astronaut)
The Scientist-Nephew
The Scientist-Uncle

The Fulsome Sow has just made a delivery to the luxury resort planetoid of Dresh and the crew attempt to unwind in the ozone-reeking steel tunnels of the service starport complex. The Captain, a trade-school reject and former facory laborer that inherited a starship from his upper-middle class family, seeks out comissions for cargo deliveries but only finds offers of surplus pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and meditation chamber crystals from the station quartermaster that are all out of the party's price range.

Meanwhile The Smuggler, through shady contacts garnered through his past as a deep space one-man drug smuggler, comes by some intel regarding the location of potentially lucrative ancient ruins on the planet Dresh, a desert world inhabited by primitive xenophobic scum, the descendents of outcasts, criminals and refugees, located a two-parsec jump from Dresh.

The fully refueled and restocked tramp cutter clumsily trundles off of the planetoid and spends several days using its reaction thrusters to maneuver to the rim of the Dresh system gravity well before transitioning to hyperspace and transcending lightspeed.

Three days a blinking hazard indicator and danger siren rouse the crew who rush to the engine room to discover that the housing of the hyperspace crystal chamber has developed minute flaws that are admitiing occasional oxygen molecules into the contaiment void where they are minutely eroding the anitmatter matrix of the hyperspace crystals; the warp engines begin violently shuddering as the crew shut down the reactors, meanwhile the Fulsome Sow stutters into realspace in the vicinity of a blindingly sullen blue giant - the Mohabit system inhabited by lesser-tech sectarian religious fanatics that attempt rare acts of terrorism against the paradise resort planetoid Dresh as well as practicing sport hunting upon the primitive inhabitants of Dozold
Fortunately the Mohabat system also features the planetoid Rokshaar, a moutainous world inhabited by a single prosaic settlement of exceptional craftspeople with an especially famed bookbindery. The Sow spends three days manueuvering into orbit before making contact with the spaceport beacon and landing in a simple rockmelt field next to a town of pretty rustic houses and white picket fences in a vally between granite mountains encrusted with sparse scatterings of spindly pine trees.

The spaceport field features a simple girder tower, the beacon, with a small hut at it's base as well as two other vessels: a sleek, needle-shaped silver ship like a gleaming sword; and a brighly colored vessel consising of a sphere of sundry panels in bright reds, yellows, blues, greens and oranges clustered on it's underside by a legion of mismatched struds, girders, legs, robot limbs, supports that serve as the landing gear.

The party exit the vessel and approach the hut where a sideburned pipe smoking man in knee breeches, waist coat, lace shirt and bill-cap leans against the side. They greet the station master who informs the party of the berthing fees; the Pilot uses his space yoga to stimulate the sociability chakras of the station master which incites him to waive the fees in light of the party's misfortune.

They discuss their engine problems and the station master informs them that the town blacksmith, Floyd, would be able to repair the hyperspace containment; the party detaches the crystal housing and the station master lends them his 'trundle', a simple hand-cart, to transport the heavy warp engine component into town.

He also informs the party the the town is mouring the brutal murder of a local girl; she was to be married and her father hired a band of Space Gypsies to perform at the wedding, including a puppet show featuring the wedding-party depcited as puppets with the groom defeating a space-dragon; although the entertainment was splendid one of the Space Gypsies got drunk and propositioned the bride. Violence ensued and the howling, swearing gypsies were forcibly ejected and talk of witholding payment was espoused.

Later screaming was heard and the bride was found stabbed and with her throat slashed; bloody footprints led towards the space port and when the gyspy starship was searched a ritualistically slaughtered pig was found alongside the bride-puppet, hacked apart by a machete!

Although the town constable was on vacation, Paladin Trucca, a holy zealot from Mohabat and his retuine had arrived at Rokshaar several days before, on an inspection tour from Mohabat to enforce morality and hunt out any devil worship or witchcraft, and in light of the evidence in the Space Gypsy vessel has the entire family arrested for murder and black magic; they are being held in the town jail until they are burned at the stake in three days.

The party thanks the station master for the information and wheel their engine component into town; women in bustle skirts, fancy hats and lace gloves whisper about them from behind parasols while gentlemen in silk hats and find jackets avoid eye contact and cross the street.

They are approached by a guardsman in a ballistic vest with a halbard and revolver; he informs the party that weapons are not allowed in town; the party vehemently replies that they are only dropping their hyperspace crystal housing off at the blacksmiths before returning to their ship. The constable blanches and backs away stuttering; the party continues.

They soon approach a house with a signboard bearing an oversize sheep-horseshoe and an attached shed, from which the whine of a plasma welder can be heard. The town blacksmith Floyd is inside working on a plow; the party interrups him and strenuous negociations ensue.

The blacksmith is very busy and it will be two weeks before the hyperspace housing will be repaired; the price is 500 terces with a payment of 400 required up front. Much browbeating and arguing ensues, as well as failed attempts at psychic interference, before the party pools their sole reamining collective funds of 360 terces and presents it to the blacksmith with the promise of another 140 in two weeks times.

The party returns to the ship to supp on gray tasteless nutrition paste, sleep in narrow sleep bunks, and scheme on house to raise another 140 terces; the Captain in eagerly anticipating watching an execution in three days.

Their respite is interuppted by the sight of a band of twelve armed men and a robed man approaching the Fulsome Sow across the landing field...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Worlds of the Pluton Zone arising from Inchoate Tables and Pips...

You know what's better than a random planet generation system? Using multiple planet generation systems at the same time for the same world.

The probability curve of using 2d6 to determine planet characteristics, especially when it utilizes some variety of nested recursive averaging mechanic, can ultimately result in a bunch of samey, prosaic worlds: "breathable atmosphere, average gravity, 50% hydrographic, human-compatible biosphere, neither over of under populated, pedestrian government, middling law level" again and again and again. One

thing a person could attempt would be the usage of a d12 instead of 2d6 to get swingier, more random results; I'll have to try this and see how it works out.

For the generation of the worlds of the Pluton Zone I am simultaniously using the tables from Starter Traveller, Terminal Space and Stars Without Number. That way I can pick and choose from, or combine/remix the results to avoid the endeless sprawl of space suburbs phenomenon.

I've been using the Terminal Space system to generate the other bodies in the system aside from the marquee world, but out of a combination of laziness and real-life-science-fetishism (which is actually counterproduction as with my aesthetic I should be using the Spelljammer rules to generate batshit insane werido planets in order to facilitate crazy space D&D; perhaps for the wilderness hexes?) I've googled up and tried both WinStarGen and AstroSynthesis TRIAL VERSION to generate random solar systems.

Both programs generate the planets of your system with data such as rocky or gas giant, average temperature, size, gravity, atmospheric composition; with StarGen you get a HTML graphic of your solar system and planets with useful tags like "Low Gravity," "Breathable Atmosphere," "Boiling Oceans," "Venusian" and the like which is pretty awesome for RPG useage; with AstroSynthesis you don't get the quick tages but it does generate ASTEROID BELTS and MOONS, both of which StarGen do not.

What I've found is that it's pretty easy to generate a planet using Traveller, Stars Without Number, etc.; and than generate a solar system or three with StarGen or AstroSynthes for the rest of the system; in most cases it's pretty easy to find an approximate match for your random planet among those generated.

But please note that most of these worlds are going to be boring Boring BORING! It's no fault of the generators, it's just the nature of approximating semi-realistic solar systems. I really need to take a look at Spelljammer.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Science Fiction Adventure/Module Reccomendations?

I don't care much about the system, and I believe that I'm looking for stuff reminsicent of Jack Vance (so I guess I'm looking for adventures about privileged jerks attempting some sort of complicated act of grasping, venal subterfuge?).

If there's one thing I've learned about using modules/adventures is that "simpler is smarter"; convoluted multi-page introductions tend to be a drag to process at the table, but if the adventue is good and the PDF is cheap enough I can make the time.

Fantasy/modern/historical/whatever adventure reccomendations that could make for reskinning into a decent sci-fi romp are welcome as well.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

[Pluton Zone] The Rajash

Most inhabitants of the Pluton Zone would never have cause to encounter one of the Rajash in their lifespan; those that do almost always meet one of the Rajash serving as one of the Myrmidons of the Dominion of Greater Kras, elite commandos and guards that have served the nobles of House Jayaan for uncounted centuries. One of the clans of House Jayaan, Jayaan-Kherit, is actually composed of Rajash (the result of a series of tumultuous coups and juntas several hundred years ago) and the Baron of Kras, Taiphur Jayaan-Kherit, is Rajash. The signature weapon of the Rajash, and by extension the Myrmidons, is a bronze-handled falcatta, which serves as a weapon, survival tool and a symbol of the Rajash culture.

The Rajash have a warrior culture, they are reputed to be fearless and to always honour vows; little is known of their ways as they will not speak of it with non-Rajash, and their origon and homeworld are unknown.

The Rajash appear to be exceptionally tall, slender, brown skinned and black haired human males; they usually possess a wiry musculature and fine features. In actuality they are a hermaphroditic transhuman species (possessing both sets of generative organs) capable of fertilizing or being fertlizied by other Rajash with all of the attendant implications. All Rajash have two names (with attendant identities), their Warrior name and their Mother name. Usually a Rajash will use their Warrior name, but while pregnant or raising young the Rajash will use their Mother name and live a completely different lifestyle than that of a Warrior.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hyperspace Monster Encounters

In rare reaches of the galaxy hyperspace is subject to a myriad of vibrations, refractions, radiations, inclusions and interferences; in some if these areas there is a chance that a ship making a hyperspace jump will experience the materialization of something near or within the vessel.

1 - Githyanki (Fiend Folio)
2 - Grell (Fiend Folio)
3 - Coeurl (Booty And The Beasts)
4 - Silver Spider (Arduin III)
5 - Xill (Fiend Folio)
6 - Mind Flayer (Monster Manual)
7 - Elder Thing/Primordial One (Deities & Demigods, Carcosa, Realms of Crawling Chaos)
8 - Sorcerer (NPC)
9 - Mi-go (Deities & Demigods, Carcosa, Realms of Crawling Chaos)
10 - Colour out of Space (Realms of Crawling Chaos)
11 - Type d6 Demon (Monster Manual)
12 - Lifeforce Vampire
13 - Ghost Ship (75% chance of undead)
14 - Rakshasa (Monster Manual)
15 - Shambleau (Ix)
16 - Dimensional Shambler (Realms of Crawling Chaos)
17 - Hound of Tindalos (Realms of Crawling Chaos)
18 - Doppleganger (Monster Manual)
19 - Hideous Space Beast (Ix)
20 - Slaad (Fiend Folio)
21 - Hyperspace Planetoid (consult appropriate matrix)
22 - Ancient Alien Construction (consult appropriate matrix)
23 - Wormhole/Dimensional Rift/Pocket Dimension (consult appropriate matrix)
24 - Beholder (Monster Manual)
25 - Gorbel (Fiend Folio)
26 - Flumph (Fiend Folio)
27 - Time Storm (consult appropriate matrix)
28 - Maggot Farmer (Swords & Dorkery)
29 - Hyperspace Pirate (Men, Pirate)
30 - Space Aliens (Carcosa)

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Skill - Yoga

With the "Death Sweat Doom" TPK of the party in my Sea of Spices OD&D game I spontaneously decided to immediately jump to the next game I want to DM, the feudal far-future space fantasy adventures of the Pluton Zone, inspired by Jack Vance and Dune and powered by Humanspace Empires.

When I say inspired by Dune, I mean inspired by Dune and fake-Dunes. The Lynch movie. The never-happened Jodorowsky Dune. Metabarons.

I'm talking about space psychic martial arts stuff here. Jedi shit.

While riffing on the tantric new-age future of Humanspace Empires, where a significant portion of the Tamil-descended adventuring population possesses psychic abilities, the thought occured to me that of course these space dudes practice yoga; that in fact pretty much everyone in Humanspace Empire practices magic space yoga.

Now I don't know much about yoga, but it seems that a RPG skill based on my bizarre pulp adventure concept of yoga could be a pretty kickass and useful skill for the right game.

Need to hold your breath until rescue arrives? Make a yoga roll.

Need to stand on top of a pole for days? Make a yoga roll.

Need to quickly recover your magical potency? Make a yoga roll.

Need to contort your body to fit through a cat door? Make a yoga roll.

Need to sexually impress someone? Make a yoga roll.

Also: My back wasn't hurt on Friday either ;P

Friday, April 1, 2011

[A-Z Blogging Challenge] A is for The Sword is AWESOME!

I'm going to have to eat a bit of crow with this blog post. My family has a long history of "worthless Christmas gifts" from the year of multiple copies of "Dragons of Autumn Twilight," to the early nineties when I got one of those Lollapaloser flimsy sleeveless flannel shirts with an attached flimsy hood (because I liked punk rock...) and the "$25 worth of Costco gift certificates" debacle (great, a present that means I have to wait in line forever to buy a giant box of granola bars). Oh well, it's not like one should expect their parents to get them Sodom vinyl LPs and early OOP TSR products.

So this year my sister, bless her square heart, got me a copy of The Sword's "Warp Riders" for Christmas as "Blair likes metal." Yeah Blair likes metal... the same way Jamie Mal likes Dungeons & Dragons. Blair likes primitive, bestial low-fi thrash, doom, sludge, grindcore, black metal, power get the picture.

So, of course, I was less than enthused with that gift, although my making lemonade out of lemons reaction was "Well a fair amount of my friends are hipster-ish so I can just re-gift it whenever I hear of a birthday..."

Today I had to take the day off work due to a strained back; after my 11 am wake-n-bake I was restless, bored and lookign for something to entertain me. I spotted my copy of "Warp Riders" gathering dust and thought "Why don't I put this on and laugh my ass off at how slick and false it is!", the metal-nerd version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

Well, although the production was slicker than what I was used to, after a few minutes I was sucked in! I really let my "underground nuclear goat chaos punk hessian" stance interfere with enjoying some awesome music, as this album really kicks ass!

This band really has it all: awesome riffs & hooks, psychedelic space fantasy lyrics, and lush production that propels you on nebulae of pot smoke through the cosmos!

I really learned my lesson about being judgmental about "bands not being underground enough," and I have already discovered a bunch of awesome new bands on youtube like Priestess, Queens of the Stone Age, Muse and Probot just from looking at music with an open mind, and I encourage you to do the same.

I know that when I resume DMing Planet Algol games that The Sword "Warp Riders" will be the official album of the Planet Algol campaign, and I encourage all of you to check out this kickass band.

Now here's a little random table of "The Sword Inspired Plot Hooks"

1 - Tres Brujas - The party encounters three witches, are they potential allies or adversaries?
2 - Warp Riders - The party finds a downed starcraft, do they dare to ride the warp?
3 - Night City - The party arrives at a city ...where it is always night!
4 - Arrows in the Dark - Out of the darkness arrows fly at the party ...what is this ambush?!?!
5 - The Chronomancer, Pt. 1: Hubris - The party encounters a sorcerer with unusual time-manipulating magic, however he/she suffers from hubris!
6 - Lawless Lands - In their travels the party has to cross a land without any lawful authority...danger and crime abounds!
7 - Acheron/Unearthing the Orb - The party comes across a party of archaeologists studying ancient Acheronian ruins ...and they have just discovered a mysterious orb!
8 - Astraea's Dream - An NPC, names Astraea, just had a mysterious dream that bodes of adventure for the party!
9 - The Chronomancer, Pt. 2: Nemesis - The party encounters a time-manipulating sorcerer who is being hunted by another time-manipulating  adversary who seeks to punish them for their hubris!
10 - (The Night The Sky) Cried Tears of Fire - After sunset storm clouds gather; the clouds...they look like embers...why is the lightning flaming? Oh gods no...the burns!