Saturday, 1 August 2015

Mathoms II: Barsoom Stats & More!

"Mediocre!"
So far, only 5 people have signed up to get the 2015 Mathom, in this post.

The Mathom is done. It contains a bunch of stats for Barsoomian creatures, as well as the lunar creatures from The Revelation of Mulmo, and an extra monster or two (which are OGC).

Shiny, Chrome, and Ready for Valhalla!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Mathom Time

Well, it is nearly that time of year again, when I send out a "Birthday Mathom" pdf. Next Tuesday, as a matter of fact.

While I am not yet sure what is going to go into this Mathom, I will be sending it out to anyone who does the following:

(1) Posts in the Comments section with their Top Three DCC adventures to date - any author! - with at least three words for each to say why.

(2) Sends me their email address at ravencrowking at hotmail dot com so that I can send them their Mathom.

DEADLINE: Monday, 3 August 2015 at midnight EST.

As in years past, the Mathom is likely to be some combination of preview material and other stuff that I couldn't publish normally due to copyright reasons (such as stats for Appendix N creatures). But I don't know. I haven't assembled it yet.

On Another Note

The last couple of years have been challenging for me. Specifically, my creative output has suffered as my energies have been channeled elsewhere. I was hoping that 2015 would have seen output similar to 2013, but Life doesn't always play fair.

Most of the things that have vexed me in the last two years are simply domestic. Everyone has to deal with domestic issues, and hopefully with time and effort, they will be sorted. This is something you could help with, though, if you were so inclined.

Regardless of my own reduced output, there has been a LOT of GREAT material published for this game in 2015, both by Goodman Games and others. I would like to point out especially The Vertical Halls, Patrons Extraordinary: The Unpretty Preview, Crawling Under a Broken Moon #5, and Steel and Fury as some things you may have missed and probably should not have. Did I mention Drongo: Ruins of the Witch Kingdoms, Wrath of the Frost Queen (now available in print), or the most excellent Black Powder, Black Magic

I am sure that I haven't even mentioned some of the best of 2015 so far. Blame Old(er) Man Memory, which is not nearly so good as Young(er) Man Memory. Also, I assume that you are all aware of boxed sets like Peril on the Purple Planet and The Chained Coffin. If not, why not?

UPDATE

The Mathom is done. It contains a bunch of stats for Barsoomian creatures, as well as the lunar creatures from The Revelation of Mulmo, and an extra monster or two (which are OGC). Hope you enjoy it!



Sunday, 26 July 2015

Rhino-Triceratops from the Herculoids

Rhino-Triceratops: Init +2; Atk gore +5 melee (1d12+6) or charge +3 melee (3d12+6) or energy rock +4 ranged (3d6); AC 20; HD 10d8+20; MV 30’ or burrow 10’; Act 1d20; SP fast movement, extendable legs, energy rocks; SV Fort +10, Ref +4, Will +6; AL N.

These strange, alien creates appear to be a cross between a rhinoceros and a triceratops, with ten short, stubby legs. These legs are extremely powerful, allowing the creature to move at twice its normal speed, in addition to its regular move, by expending an Action Die.  The legs can also extend upwards to a height of 50’, enabling the rhino-triceratops to reach sustenance that might be out of reach, but the creature can only move at half speed, and cannot spend its Action Dice for additional moves when doing so.

A rhino-triceratops has four horns on its head, one medium-length horn rising from the tip of the snout, two smaller ones further up, and one hollow horn in the middle of its forehead. This horn is where the rhino-triceratops stores its supply of energy rocks (see below). These horns also assist in burrowing as the rhino-triceratops rotates its head rapidly, moving through the earth and even solid rock.

Through some unknown method, a rhino-triceratops can generate and store up to 12 “rocks” made of solidified energy, which they can fire as a ranged attack (up to 120’) from their hollow horn. They explode on impact, and a rhino-triceratops can shoot two of these rocks using a single Action Die.

Generally benign herbivores, rhino-triceratops are usually solitary. They become hostile when threatened in some way, often attacking until their foes are slain or driven off. They stay together long enough to mate and then they part, with the female raising the young only until they can fend for themselves.

Rhino-triceratops communicate amongst themselves with gravelly growls, snarls, and roars, and appear to have a rudimentary form of intelligence. They sometimes form close attachments with other creatures, although this is very rare. Rhino-triceratops are brown, green, or any shade in between.


Source: The Herculoids (Hanna Barbera Productions). Modified from original write-up by Rendclaw, via Turgenev’sPDF collection.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

I just signed the petition "Supreme Court of Wisconsin: Grant justice in the appeal of Walter Wessel IV" and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name. 

Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here.

More gaming stuff anon.

Thanks! 
 Daniel

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Please Help

On 30 April 2015, my nephew, Walter Wessel IV, took his own life as a direct result of his experiences with the Wisconsin judicial system. He was accused, while a minor, with criminal damage to property over $2500. One of his accusers has now subsequently committed suicide.

Like many teenagers, Wally had a rebellious side. He initially refused to speak to the detective assigned to the case, citing his Constitutional right to do so. This seems to have upset the detective enough that she made it her mission to see him convicted. In the preliminary hearing, the judge indicated that there was not enough evidence to go to trial.

Consider the highlights: 
  • The prosecution withheld the recordings of the interviews with the only witnesses for the state from the defense.
  • The investigating officers took DNA evidence, which did not match the accused.
  • There was, in fact, no physical evidence presented.
  • The witnesses for the state had their juvenile charges either completely dismissed or adjudicated as a result of their testimony. Again, one of these has now committed suicide himself, following the death of my nephew.
  • These witnesses not only had a motive to fabricate an accusation, but they were consistently inconsistent in their testimony about that accusation.
  • My nephew had an alibi for the time the crime had been committed, which could be verified by phone records, and that person testified in court.

In the initial trial, the court-appointed defender was clearly incompetent, and sabotaged the testimony of my nephew’s witness. Upon appeal, the District Attorney stated that they had worked hard at finding the guilty person, going so far as to use DNA analysis, although she neglected to mention that the results of the DNA analysis did not support conviction. The appellate judge ruled that, although my nephew had not received a fair trial, his Constitutional rights had not been violated because (1) he had heard the evidence against him at the pretrial hearing and because (2) the judge did not believe my nephew’s testimony.

My nephew committed suicide during the appeal process. Although his family has tried hard to restore some sense of justice, they don’t even have a reason behind the second appeal’s failure. They now have until 17 August 2015 to request a further appeal from the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, and have no hope of being given a fair hearing if the matter can simply be swept under the carpet.

According to my nephew’s attorney “The Supreme Court is very hostile both to one another and to defendants. Even if they did take the case, I don't think they would grant him relief. In the last few decisions they've released in criminal cases (including one of my cases), the supreme court has gone out of its way to deny relief to defendants and in doing so (in my opinion) created very bad law.”

My nephew, Wally, was not perfect. He did have run-ins with the law as a juvenile, but he was also turning his life around. He was gainfully employed, well-liked at work, and in line for promotion. He smoked pot recreationally, and he drank about the same amount as his peer group.

Wally was sent to the Huber Facility, where he was provided hard drugs by other inmates. To the best of our knowledge, this was his first experience with hard drugs. On the day after his release, his probation was revoked for drinking and drugs, and was sent to prison to wait his revocation hearing. He had been diagnosed with depression while in custody for awaiting his revocation. 

He elected to go to a boot camp for 6 months, although depression disqualified him from going, and after a couple of months he had to leave because they were afraid that he would kill himself. His probation officer knew at the time that he had been diagnosed with depression by two different doctors, one paid by the state. His probation officers broke the rules by sending him there, and should have offered him a drug program instead. Neither his parents nor my nephew were made aware of this until it was too late. His lawyer suggested a doctor assess his mental state. He was found to be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, most likely related to his conviction of the crime and what followed. He was once again released to probation.

After 3 months, Wally smoked again to ease his depression, an act that cost him 18 months in prison. His mother, my sister, said: “But before the judge sent him to prison he commented on how convenient it was that we were able to buy a diagnosis of PTSD and then he went on for what seemed to be at least 10 minutes telling my son what a piece of shit he was. Then he sent him to prison, not because he was a danger to society but because he needed to be punished. I guess that wanting to end one’s life is not punishment enough.”

Because Wally was small, he spent a lot of time in solitary confinement for his own protection – a small room with no windows. This is normally a severe punishment, and there is growing consensus among psychologists and human rights advocates that it is a form of torture. This was after he had been diagnosed with PTSD.

Four months after my nephew got released from prison his grandfather died. He was depressed and again smoked pot. Since this had been the second time (he admitted to both times prior to any tests) he was locked up for 3 days. His grandfather died, he smoked a joint, he had to go to jail for three days.

I don’t have the words to tell you what Wally’s suicide has done to his family. No, he was not perfect. But he was also not guilty of this particular offense, and no reasonable court interested in a just outcome would have found him so. Therefore, I am asking you to help. When the Supreme Court of Wisconsin is considering whether to hear this case, and when they rule on it if they do, they need to know that the outcome matters. They need to know that people are watching and waiting to see what they do.

Below is a link to his court records. These are a bit misleading, because the two Dane County traffic offenses were related to another person by the same name.  The final case in Waukesha relates to sending a topless picture of an ex-girlfriend to a then-current girlfriend. The prosecutors sought a 40 year sentence.


We would like to give this case as much coverage as possible. What I am asking you to do is simply to +1 on Google or share to Facebook. Even if it does not help his case with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, it will be of enormous comfort and support to my sister and her family.

I beg you to help me.


Friday, 17 July 2015

Plasmoids from Herculoids

Quasarian Plasmoid (small): Init +5; Atk slam +1 melee (1d3) or grapple +4 melee (0); AC 17; HD 4d8; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP DR 5, +4 AC vs. ranged weapons, grapple (Strength +4), immunities (blunt weapons, electricity, force attacks), regenerate 3 hp/round, half damage from fire, cold vulnerability, malleable form; SV Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +1; AL L.

Quasarian Plasmoid (medium): Init +4; Atk slam +3 melee (1d5) or grapple +7 melee (0); AC 18; HD 6d8; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP DR 5, +3 AC vs. ranged weapons, grapple (Strength +6), immunities (blunt weapons, electricity, force attacks), regenerate 2 hp/round, half damage from fire, cold vulnerability, malleable form; SV Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +3; AL L.

Quasarian Plasmoid (large): Init +3; Atk slam +5 melee (1d7) or grapple +10 melee (0); AC 19; HD 8d8; MV 20’; Act 2d20; SP DR 5, +2 AC vs. ranged weapons, grapple (Strength +9), immunities (blunt weapons, electricity, force attacks), regenerate 1 hp/round, half damage from fire, cold vulnerability, malleable form; SV Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +1; AL L.

These strange creatures are formed of a softly glowing whitish-yellow protoplasm. They have solid black eyes with whitish-yellow irises. Reproducing by division every 10 years, they range in size from three feet in height to over eight feet, depending on their maturity level. Plasmoids move by either bouncing along or undulation, and can alter their shape to fit through the smallest holes and cracks. They originally hail from the world of Quasar, but have been found on different worlds as well.

Plasmoids tend to be solitary creatures, but they have an affinity for Lawful humanoids, sometimes becoming their self-appointed protectors and guardians. Plasmoids can fully understand humanoid languages and desires after 1-3 weeks, but communicate with each other through a language of chitters and babbling, along with eye expressions. They draw their
sustenance from the very air. These creatures are very difficult to kill. They can be stretched, even sundered, and they will reform their shape in moments and start regenerating the damage taken. Usually these whimsical, strange yet kind creatures spend most of their time
defending either their territory, their young, or their allies. Some wander their world, hiding from those that might fear them while searching for potential allies.


In combat, Plasmoid bodies shift and undulate in strange ways to avoid blows. This is even more effective against ranged attacks, which they can dodge with comparative ease. Their elastic, spongy flesh is immune to impact damage and blunt weapons, electricity, and force attacks (such as magic missiles). They take only half damage from fire, but are vulnerable to cold, which causes a –4 penalty to AC and a –1d penalty to a Plasmoid’s Action Dice for 1d5 rounds. These effects are cumulative with multiple cold-based attacks.

A Plasmoid can attempt to wrap around an opponent, doing no damage but potentially disabling him unless he can succeed in an opposed Strength check. A creature which fails three such checks is helpless.

Plasmoids are very intelligent, and can reshape their bodies roughly into any solid shape they can imagine. Because of their resilience and elasticity, they can form umbrella-like shields, parachutes, or even trampolines. The efficacy of any given form must be determined by the judge on a case-by-case basis, but the judge is encouraged to grant the Plasmoid a faux “Deed Die” or a die type equal to its Hit Dice (1d4, 1d6, or 1d8). This faux die does not add to attack roll or damage, but the result can be used to judge the success of attempts to trip, encumber a weapon, etc., that the Plasmoid may make inside or outside combat. This faux die can also be reduced by cold-based attacks, or have circumstantial penalties or bonuses using the dice chain as the judge determines.


Source: The Herculoids (Hanna Barbera Productions). Modified from original write-up by Rendclaw, via Turgenev’s PDF collection.

Note: The relationship between the Plasmoids of Quasar and other strange, bud oddly similar, creatures isn't well understood. In particular, the Shmoo seems to be a somewhat less malleable neutrally-aligned relative of the Plasmoids. Shmoos also reproduce far more quickly than do Plasmoids, and a single Shmoo may rapidly become an infestation.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Chained Coffin Rides Again!

The Peril on the Purple Planet boxed set has gotten a lot of attention, and for good reason. But it is not the only recent boxed set from Goodman Games. I call you attention to the Chained Coffin boxed set, written predominantly by Mr. Michael Curtis. In all fairness, I was given a chance to playtest the adventure with my group, although uncredited, and had nothing but praise for it then. The lack of useful feedback may have something to do with being uncredited.

The main advantage of the boxed set is a fully-realized, non-standard fantasy setting that owes much to the “Silver John” stories of Manly Wade Wellman. The advent of the Dungeon Crawl Classics role-playing game encouraged me to look again at the list of Appendix N authors in the original Dungeon Master’s Guide. Among them were a few authors I had never really read before. Manly Wade Wellman is a strong storyteller, with an excellent voice. I have devoured all of his work that has fallen within my reach…not only John the Balladeer, but also Hok the Mighty.

Michael Cutis has really managed to capture the tone and feel of these stories within a fantasy RPG framework. I don’t know that there is any higher praise I can give without adding spoilers about the adventures herein. Perhaps a secondary, and better, praise can be added: In a recent conversation at the gaming table, returning to the Shudder Mountains has been suggested amongst the players themselves. Perhaps, they say, they should try to find Ol’ Blackcloak again, and this time actually talk to him.

Within the boxed set, you get the titular module, an 11 x 17 map, the Almanac of the Shudder Mountains, the Chained Coffin Companion, Sour Spring Hollow, The Woeful Caves of Yander Mountain, and, if you paid premium, a complex handout for a puzzle in the module. Taken altogether, this gives the prospective judge a funnel, a 3rd level adventure, a 5th level adventure, and enough information on the setting to (1) modify the DCC rules to take advantage of its strengths while (2) having material to play for a long, long time.

Several creatures from Appalachian folklore – or seemingly straight from the pages of the inspirational literature – are also provided, and provided well. As is magic appropriate to the setting. Hell, the whole thing’s good. The only thing I had asked for, and did not get, with this set was a CD of Michael Curtis singing folk songs. I’ve never heard Michael Curtis sing, so it could be a blessing.

These adventures are all good, and, even more importantly, they all capture the right “feel” for the setting. The Chained Coffin itself offers the players a rather unique experience – carrying around an NPC within a coffin that they cannot open. Hopefully, the NPC is who he claims to be. Hopefully, they can make peace with the superstitious folk living on the mountain while carrying around a coffin covered with Chaotic sigils. The climactic encounter of this adventure briefly introduces another location that I, as a judge, immediately wanted to detail and have the players explore.

Michael Curtis, I am sure you know what I mean, so get to work on it!

There is also a bonus adventure, The Rat King’s River of Death, by Sean Bean, which is disgustingly worthy in its own right, although it doesn’t necessarily fit into the Shudder Mountains. This adds a level 1 adventure to the brew, and cunning judges will find a way to incorporate the material if they wish.

Finally, if you need more material that can be meshed into your Shudder Mountain campaign, you can easily use my own Arwich Grinder published in Crawl#9, Mermaids from Yuggoth from In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer (you will note a Silver John reference in this adventure; the first of two adventures for DCC – and both in this product – designed to be played interspersed with other adventures), and (perhaps) even Tomb of the Squonk from PulpWeird Adventures #1.

The Chained Coffin boxed set is well worth the money.


Good gaming!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Moktars: A DCC Class

Moktars are 7’ tall humanoids, heavily muscled with short tawny fur and thick-maned lion-like heads. Women and children are rarely seen, as they are kept in remote, well-hidden lairs among the ancient ruins of the Land of One Thousand Towers. Although mostly encountered as roving war-bands, preying on travellers and isolated villages, not all moktars are raiders – a small number seek out their fortunes in the towns and cities of men. You are one of these. You have decided to leave the comfort of the warband to live among humankind.

Hit Points: Moktars gain 1d10 hit points at each level.

Weapon Training: Moktars are trained in battle axe, hand axe, club, spear, longsword, and short sword. Moktars can make attacks using their claws, having a base damage as indicated by level; this is real, not subdual, damage. Moktars can wear armour, but finding armour designed for their large frames is difficult and expensive.

Alignment: Moktars are almost always Chaotic. Some few are Neutral. Few, if any, are Lawful, and these are considered to be deranged by other moktars.

Strength and Agility: Moktars are not particularly agile to begin with, and moktars accustomed to living in comparatively cushy human cities are even less so. Moktar characters thus have an additional penalty to Agility rolls (applied to the Agility modifier, not the Agility score). This does not affect Reflex saves. They are, however, very strong, and have a bonus to Strength rolls (added to the modifier, rather than the Strength score). These modifiers are level-dependent.

Thick Hide: Moktars have a base AC of 14.

Luck: A moktar’s Luck is used to modify attack and damage rolls. A moktar may spend a point of Luck to negate a critical hit scored against him.

Infravision: Moktars have infravision to a range of 30’.

Large: Moktars are large, and may have difficulty squeezing into tight spaces.

Languages: All moktar PCs understand the prevailing common tongue – but their jaw structure prevents them from speaking it. They can only communicate in the native moktar tongue, a language of roars.
Likewise, while humans (and demi-humans) can learn to understand moktarish, they are simply unable to enunciate the subtle differences in roaring that are essential to the moktar language. Moktars may understand additional languages based on Intelligence, but cannot speak them.

Action Dice: Moktars Action Die can only be used to make attacks.

Level
Attack
Crit Die/Table
Action Dice
Strength Modifier
Agility Modifier
Unarmed Base Damage
Ref
Fort
Will
Level Title*
1
+1
1d4/I
1d20
+1
-4
1d4
+0
+1
+1
Tribesman
2
+1
1d5/I
1d20
+1
-4
1d4
+1
+1
+1
Ranger
3
+2
1d6/II
1d20
+1
-3
1d5
+2
+2
+1
Wanderer
4
+2
1d7/II
1d20
+1
-3
1d5
+2
+3
+1
Warrior
5
+3
1d8/II
1d20+1d14
+2
-2
1d6
+2
+3
+1
Hero
6
+3
1d10/II
1d20+1d14
+2
-2
1d6
+2
+4
+2

7
+4
1d10/III
1d20+1d16
+2
-1
1d7
+3
+4
+2

8
+4
1d12/III
1d20+1d16
+3
-1
1d8
+3
+5
+2

9
+5
1d4/G
1d20+1d20
+3
+0
1d10
+3
+5
+3

10
+5
1d5/G
1d20+1d20
+4
+0
1d12
+4
+6
+3

* Note: All moktar level titles are grunts and howls; these are the nearest common tongue equivalents.


0-level Moktars: 0-level moktars gain the advantages of thick hide and infravision, but are large, can speak only moktarish, and have a –4 penalty to Agility-based checks. 

Note: This class is based off the moktars from Patrick Wetmore's excellent Anomalous Subsurface Environment, which is an excellent resource easily converted to DCC play. It is not an official conversion!


Monday, 22 June 2015

Hypercubes, Hypercubes, Hypercubes!


This year for Free RPG Day, I ran The Hypercube of Myt at Duelling Grounds in Toronto. Turnout was fair, and I think that a good time was had by all. We were blessed by the inclusion of Elias Scorsone, author of Wrath of the Frost Queen and Marzio Muscedere, author of Steel and Fury ... and the first-place prize winner of the tournament funnel, who obtained thereby a $40 gift certificate to Duelling Grounds after surviving 13 encounters.

(Second and third prizes were determined by a dice-off with 9 encounters survived each. Prizes awarded were a $20 and a $10 gift certificate, respectively.)

I had intended to keep track of the 0-levels who died in the game, but frankly lost track early on as the Red Stamp of Death was deployed early and often.  I got to hand out some Goodman Games swag, including the Free RPG Day GM’s Screens on behalf of Duelling Grounds,

Marzio brought colour print copies of his material to add to the prizes for Death by Nexus at OSRCon 5.5. Elias brought some copies of his adventure to sell through the store, which meant that I have a print copy now for my own fell purposes.

Although I foolishly didn’t bring a camera, I was given an excellent sketch of “Raven Crowking” by Elias Scorsone, who also produced some spot illustrations during the game that (hopefully) will at some time be posted either by that worthy, or appear in some future adventure of his devising.

I was also able to pick up the Goodman Games 5th Edition Free RPG Day offering from the store. Duelling Grounds had some special “GM Swag” for folks running games, but this year, having GMed from 11 to just after 5 without even a bathroom break. Not that I needed one…the pace was brisk and time seemed to fly.

Foolishly, I brought no camera. With the furious action at the table, though, I would probably not have had time to take any pictures.

Thank you all for coming, to those who came. Thanks also to Hypercube organizer Jim Wampler, and co-authors Jim Wampler (again!), Stephen Newton, Dak Ultimak, Adam Muszkiewicz, Jeffrey Tadlock! Thanks also to James V. West, who did the cover art for the Hypercube, which was used more than once during the game to illustrate the visage of Mytus the Mad. And thank you again, Marzio and Elias, for your generosity!