Saturday, 26 September 2020

Random Adventurers for Thrice Cursed Megadungeon

So I'm trying to finish this project that is far bigger than I intended. A sprawling multi-faction megadungeon under a ruined city for Patreon. I should have a big chink done this month but probably another to finish. So here is a bit that I need for It.  

The ruins have an explorers guild outpost where the party can get drunk or high between adventures, sell off goods well below market goods, pay full price healing and meet other adventurer scum. Formating on blogger and random spaces I give up caring. Some other weird space issues im discovering and toolbar keeps coming and going.

d12 Adventurer Type 
1 Priest - here to fight cults and aid those fighting them to cleanse the ruin
2-3 Rogue - here to plunder possibly affiliated with the local guild
4-6 Warrior - here to fight and plunder
7 Wizard - seeking forbidden lost lore
10 Other classes d4 1=Bard 2=Druid 3=Monk 4=Sorcerer
11 Demihuman d4 1=Dwarf 2=Elf 3=Gnome 4=Halfling
12 Other races d4 1=Abhuman (beastfolk or orc) 2=Changeling 3=Giant 4=Tako

d12 Quick Back Story
1 Young and naive seeks easy wealth
2 Young and naive seeks glory
3 Young and naive wanting to save the world
4 Running away from family obligations
5 Running away from law and authority
6 Running away from enemies
7 Running away from love gone wrong
8 Mercenary for hire down on luck
9 Owes money to avoid painful murder
10 Ancestors came from here long ago
11 Looking for a missing person who came here
12 Vet murder hobo here to kill and rob the joint 

d20 Quick Dark Secret
1 Member of a fish cult (1in6 chance is a hybrid)
2 Demon cultist here on pilgrimage
3 Evil god cultist here to evaluate the area for cult schemes
4 Darkness cultist here seeking forbidden lore and relics
5 Member of local slavers here to evaluate possible gladiatorial slaves
6 Member of local bandit gang here to spy on adventurers
7 Thief here to spy on adventurers and steal
8 Secretly a mutant tainted by curse or chaos, guided here by dreams
Doppelganger in disguise, working for clan planning to eat and rob explorers 
10 From a cursed bloodline of the city - doubles wandering monster odds
11 In previous party they murdered fellow adventurers over money
12 Delights in murder, disembowelling, torture, poisoning and mutilation
13 Heard from scholar how one curse on the city can be lifted
14 Has a grudge against one of the local factions and here to kill them
15 Agent of a noble here to evaluate threats to the kingdom for a noble
16 Stalking someone they love who barley is aware they exist
17 Sent by a wizard to seek spell books and scrolls 
18 Sent by a church to recover a long lost relic
19 Sent by the church to evaluate cults festering in the ruins
20 Sent by merchant cartel to evaluate goods coming and going

So my need for d100 stuff has flatlined a bit as my current game thriving fine off content in my Stone age sorcery book and a few extras. Its a pleasantly uncomplex world. Not getting any classic dnd stuff and my real-world craft and art jobs taken over my free time. A Demon cult generator next. 

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Cyberpunk: Lawnmower Manning Down The People





























So kids are wearing Cyberpunk 77 shirts and ppl are selling their old eds for a fortune and gamers are raving about a thing they pre-paid for foolishly trusting the system. I think when I saw the four-character choices for CP77 (cos you cannot say CP) I was disappointed by how glamorous everything seemed to be. Also I have been on cyberpunk forums since FB started and I was involved in teen hackers in 80s doing kind of dodgy stuff so I feel like I was into the genre before it was named. The cyberpunk maxim from Mondo2000 era "How Fast? How Dense?" has been my art and writing based mantra since 1990ish.

Of late I noticed a flood of new cyberpunk groups online who missed the point. Many featured underage girl cosplayers and anime characters and crude sexual discussions that made me the think CP is appropriate for these groups. I quit a bunch and began to think the older groups where lefty tech punks feuded with libertarians and capitalist fascists were actually better all along. I run an Australian cyberpunk & apocalypse group that started as a local thing for gamers before COVID but I opened to Australia and more recently to anyone interested and we have been mostly jerk-free (though there is a Nazi I'm looking for an excuse to banhammer but they have been careful about saying in public so some kudos for staying in your shitty closet-nazi uniforms and white race pride crap). I'm pretty disheartened how some men weaponise soft porn to drive any who don't share their values from groups and to gaslight people. So they don't want young peoples ethics issues or women or people who side with them and soft port is the means to purge groups. Plenty of admins don't see this and ban the wrong people in some sort of centrist fantasy bubble. So I opened up my group to rescue people from some groups which was nice.

On a side note, I worked in pin-up art and men's mags but you don't have to turn all your interests to porn or imagine fucking everything you like to look at. Actually, you kind of appreciate a break and working in it makes it a chore, not fun and you don't even see attraction the same way anymore. My old boss won't accept male friend offers mostly because they discuss his art in ways that make him want to puke.

Go look at Solarpunk if you need a break from bitterness. Those groups are so much nicer on the whole and optimistic.

Anyway, the discussions of late we had (which led to me formalising my Cyberpunk1977 stuff) explored the changes and parts of cyberpunk culture since the hype for the new game have been affecting groups and other Admins and I have discussed it. This is a bit from my FB page and some extra content following that. Im a bit reminded of a guy who ran a nightclub complaining when a certain gen reinvented punk as glamour with more shiny PVC than punk and that was 20 years ago. There is more to being cool in cyberpunk.

Lots of this Included Eff Wing, Richard and Tai and follows from Eff Wing questions and I'm Tudor here (don't ask - a sad FB story). This was pulled out of lots of threads and tangents but Ive tried to make chronological which it wasn't. Be kind and blame me rather than any participants please - hard to convey a sprawling multi thread conversation over days here. (sic) means ive changed the wording and I hope not intent for clarity. Ive added to my stuff a bit cos I can. Basically, it is a clumsy attempt to explain Cyberpunk and Punk vs Cyberpunk77 marketing hype.

Your welcome to agree or disagree in comments but please don't make personal attacks on participants. There are lots of takes on this topic and better histories. Its just a discussion not a textbook or absolute truth statements.

Eff: Any opinions on Blade Runner? Alien? Total Recall?

Tudor: Mine or groups? More to it than 80s cinema. The genre is pretty stuck in 80s

Eff: lol. IMO AirPods, watches, RFID chips under our skin, and the way we never are far from our phones make us cyberpunks in a way

Tai: No, that just makes people consumers and non-questioning subservient cattle. Bread and circuses.

Eff: it's herding us toward more cyberpunk notions isn't it? ala Singularity book

Tai: "cyber" yes, "punk" no. Most people these days append "punk" to any genre because they naively think it sounds "cool" or "clever", not because they understand the meaning or origin. Which is ironically the opposite of being "punk".

Eff: It's fascinating that the pandemic has made us all even moreso a digital version of ourselves. you're being a bit coy, please help me to understand what the 'punk' means? what is the meaning and origin of cyber 'punk,' if you don't mind sharing? Cheers.

' punk ' mainly implies rebellion against the government / megacorps / authority and normal society ' doesn't it ? ShadowRun! back alley transactions! Jonny Mnemonic! If one wishes to go Blade Runner or Dreaming Androids, that's more philosophical, but not really a punk idea, methinks. not really sure why you (Tudor) and Tai are making this definition so murky, but I'd appreciate a straight answer if you don't mind.

Tudor: Im not gonna write an essay on this now but I prefer sf dealing with philosophy and humanism. 

In 80s i hung with punks and hackers. Mid-late 80s into early 2000s punks I knew were brawling with nazis, eating garbage, having secret raves in drains with hacked power, shoplifting games to pirate and distribute them with hand photocopied walkthroughs and decoder wheels and other hijinx. Punk is grimy and a bit scary and only came to be middle-class glamour in 90s. Punk is DIY vs mass-produced. It isn't just game saying no authority like a kneejerk move but maybe for some it is. Not really one take on this but I have an idea of authentic punk formed in 1977 to 2000ish.

2000ad comics with judge dredd was full of cyberpunk grit.

I liked gurps cyberpunk and iron crown cyberworld which reality was uncertain and quirky and riddled with conspiracy theories to the extent the GM could define their settings reality level from dry sci fi to a more tabloid reality. More games should do this.

I like cyberpunk rpg in someways it is Metkon rpg modded to anime cyberpunk. I liked TSR freelancers setting. Torg had good tech and corporate warfare rules and first RPG to implement 3d printing in a way TV is just starting to use. 2300 was perfect for aliens style sf and did a cybertech supplement for the earth.

High Colonies rpg, much-maligned was like the expanse setting and not cyberpunk but slots into Aliens or 2300 well. High colonies did have a fascist faction with clone soldiers which kind of united everyone and hidden alien jerks nobody in setting new about. Would work well with some cyber add ons. The hab generations and birth tables could be used in any in system sf.

I'm not saying anything I say is authority or matters. Don't be like me.
I don't want a cyberpunk that parades of 14-year-old characters or cosplayers as sex toys rather than for the cool costumes or hair or artistry or effort. Pics are one thing ogrish comments ppl make about them are morally repugnant and would be illegal in many cases if they acted on them. If you have wife or daughter or sisters or a mother maybe consider If your comments helps them or hurts them.


Eff: Thanks, i understand.
I think I was put-off by the attitude of Tai's response -- it seemed inaccessible, i guess?
I agree and think that philosophy and humanism are likely the underpinnings of any 'punk' movement, the raison d'etre of the rebellion, perhaps. Why hack? Why fight nazis? Why eat garbage? Why hold secret raves? Why pirate software / media? Because it's the philosophical or human 'right thing to do,' to some degree. (Tudor: poverty, inaccessibility, gentrification, only way to enjoy these benefits of modern living my answer)

For RPG's, I think that the Shadowrun genre (cyber tech deckers, physical combat, and magic) has the most flexibility. for one, magic is the ultimate rebellion, above physical and technological laws, some would say. (I'm running a 'hack' of Marvel Heroics and Cortex Prime to create a fast and easy Shadowrun game on Facebook groups atm). The cyberpunk genre can be gritty, can be anti-establishment, can be costumes/hair/piercings, but it can also be a 'wage slave' that fights the good fight in the night. (and on weekends?). In any case, happy cyberpunk roleplaying - as i type my cyber message about punks to you on my tech, I think the world is basically 'there' in many ways.

Tai: No, I touched on a major core point. In general (and there is a large variety), the punk side (including the writing itself) has its basis in questioning, thinking for one's self, exploring ideas, not being manipulated, and self-sufficiency; which is opposite to the OP mentioned tech-cheesecake, being controlled consumerist sheep, and conforming to "pop culture" to be "hip".
Therefore, just using tech/cyber does not make one cyberpunk. In most cases these days we only have cyberconsumers.

Eff: Ah thanks for that clarification, good to know.
The "If you know, you know" attitude kinda Irks some people.
So punks (without the Cyber) include protagonists in stories like:
Brave New World,
Sherlock Holmes,
and Equilibrium.
Toss in some integrated / internal tech and these characters become Cyberpunks, is that right?
I'd say with the pandemic lockdowns, people are showing their punk side. Questioning / exploring ideas: answers are all over the internet, and everyone is doing research on topics like the pandemic. Thinking for one self / not being manipulated: some punks wish to not wear face masks, and keep partying without social distance. Self sufficiency: some punks are using what they know (herbs, meditation, exercise) to make themselves heal better after getting infected, though it seems unorthodox. I agree, we're mostly cyberconsumers today. But for those that are 'punks' today, it is easier to observe them (e.g. join the 2600 hacker collective); it is easier for them to 'rebel' thru social media (e.g. Antifa and UBI movements).

Tai: By knowing what it isn't and is the opposite of (eg: tech gadgetry by itself, consumerism, tech for the sake of tech, and the mentioned tech-cheesecake), you can develop a better understanding of what the punk part of cyberpunk is.

Eff: Okay so to reiterate from all of these comments, that "punk is rebellion from the norm"
Cyberpunk is "rebellion thru technology"
Thanks for the lesson, coach.

Tai: Not necessarily blind rebellion. It usually involves some degree of intelligence/thought/insight and avoiding being used/abused by "the system" which is often a dystopian society or corporation. It's not normally about causing trouble for the sake of trouble (eg: not wearing a mask during COVID so as to be "anti-authoritarian" when the infection has been verified is self-defeating).

Eff: so punk is political then, yes?

Tudor: Inherantly

Tai: Everything is political, but it is the way CP is political that defines CP. Mal from Firefly resists the Alliance, has tech and so on, but is not really CP. Luke resists the Empire in Star Wars, has tech, but is also not really CP.

Tudor: punk kids still use political images. Ive got lots of books of punk posters many like John Heartfield art memes of pre ww2. Look at dead Kennedy's (top of post) Art like this easy to look up. If you only appropriating punk for fashion you never got it (even though Vivian Westwood was there in early days of punk when she and Malcome and Punk flirted with Swastikas briefly to be edgelords then stopped - but that another story).

The first modern description of "street art" was punk posters. Punk kids first crackers who got into scar and hiphop.Johnny rotten was kicked out of scar scene for his swastikas - punk scene flirted with it as shock/rebellion till violent skinheads tried taking over scene and punks fought back - generations of punks kept this up. And the flirting with swastikas ended (Souxie and Banshees did it too, then bands with Nazi inspired names like Joy Division and New Order - but I dont think any of these ppl were actually Nazis). 

Punk was always about poverty and DIY vs overpriced gigs that paywalled the poor. Rebellion is there but gamesaying and shock for the sake had problems with consequences (use of swastikas). Sherlock holmes I cant really see as Cyberpunk but I guess noir detectives are common in genre and Sherlock was a drug additct and jerk. Sherlock written by a newage sucker duped by fraud psychics is funny.

Eff:Okay who are some characters that 'are' cyberpunk?
I'm guessing Jonny Mnemonic? Mr Robot? (sic) Protagonists in the Matrix>

Tudor: Im more interested in setting than characters who often are or start as stooges - Jonny is a highly paid corporate agent in a cp world - he wears a suit but deals with punks. The junky dolphin is the most cyberpunk character and film too gutless to discuss it.

Eff: I was of the impression (sic) that anyone could be cyberpunk, including wage slaves who go to their day job, but hack at night, like Mr. Robot. Wow the dolphin is cyberpunk.

Tudor: metropolis 1926 is more cyberpunk than some takes (though ive done stuff on decopunk before and dislike modern steampunk and dieselpunk - perhaps id use Jetpunk for 60s). Metropolis has class struggle, consciousness, a megacorp, oppressive urbanisation and an android/consciousness transfer or mind copy.

Eff: oh gosh I'll need to look that up, thanks. Um... any other mainstream examples of cp?

Tudor:Protagonists dont have to be punk or start off that way. JudgeDdredd is a case in point
2000ad characters and worlds are often punk - so many brit writers from there made vertigo comics. 

Eff:Ok so judge Dredd was not a cyberpunk himself, but the other supporting characters and his targets were cyberpunk, is that right?

Tudor: Yes - characters explore the world but might look down on it rather than fight it. I like Johonny Nemo too - a brit comic cyborg detective who is modded to drink more, has a robot assistant and deals with weird tech crime in an often brutal manner. Currently, I'm more interested in what I term "proto cyberpunk" nowadays. 6million dollar man, Semon Seed, Forbin project, Brainstorm.

Eff: I thought Steve Austin is basically a loyal government agent ?

Tudor:As I said protocyberpunk. He was astronaut turned into cyborg, only very tough and strong willed could survive - Jamie a world class athlete (the book Cyborg is nastier and has inbuilt assassin weapons. He early on refuses missions so they trick him into them and make them personal by using his friends - he refuses to kill for OSI (in tv only). In bionic woman she is keen after the shock of surgery but at end she wants to quit, they hunt her down and she cuts a deal to live after being a fugitive. Both have good ai and replicant episodes. Computers in some episodes straight from Forbin project. Only big government could afford AI and bionics in 70s. Shockwave Rider by Brunner the hero trained by a prestigious thinktank but becomes a fugitive. Starting corp and falling and seeing inequality and poverty and lies works (Matrix). In 80s Cyberpunk tech it is common, stealable, hackable, recyclable.

I generally prefer Japanese cyberpunk to novels in the 80s by guys on typewriters (I'm looking at you Nueromancer). I couldn't get past the first chapter of Snow Crash despite having Sumerian references because it was too too cool and wasteful of resources for a pizza delivery. Most of my friends loved it. Possibly I like cyberpunk comics and Japanese animation more. Probably roleplaying games did it better than novels too for me.

Eff: Fifth Element?, Total Recall?, Mad Max?

Tudor: mad max nope - though the decay and punk is there from when family folk feared them.
I preferred modern total recall to old one - Phil K Dick a huge influence on genre - best thing in 1st one was Jonnycab. Original total recall spent years in edit and needed tech to save it ironically. 5th element the city squalor is cyberpunk but the film is ultimately religious ending in space gods deus machina and a vertical shaft of white light (cop out end of too many SF films). Cyberpunk elements are mainstream now and overlaps but some things probably more specifically cyberpunk not just visiting for the glam.

Ghost in the shell is probably my fave film/anime/manga of genre - philosophy of consciousness is big part of the genre and how tech changes everything. In series, people are always doubting the rules of technology and how aware machines are. I like Burst Angel quite a bit too but that's also a spaghetti western and mecha drama. Some include Akira but it probably has non cyberpunk territory. Tetsuo Body Hammer films are interesting but I couldn't watch ever again (I blame you Richard). The KDFM vid using Gunhead footage is probably the most cyberpunk thing ever to me.

Eff: (sic) Is this the game (shows pic of Cyberpunk77) It looks interesting, but it could also just dilute everything that we've discussed in this thread. Anything that is a big open world video game can become rote very fast, losing the original intent / message / gravitas and becoming ... Well, just a video game.

Tudor: basically my point all along and point of this thread. When they announced the character backgrounds and pix of them I lost interest (but I might play when cheaper - now im actually online not homeless with a phone tether I might change after I thrash Farcry Primal and Fallout stuff I missed).

Eff: In your post you said game, so I thought it was referring to a new paper rpg game, like Shadowrun. That also has races and classes.

Tudor: Best not get me on Shadowrun. Class and race not the inherent problems just the Cyberpunk2077 game ones (but class and race do have problems inherently in games).

Eff: Videogame marketing for 2077 is very heavy-handed.

Tudor: Yes more glamourpunk

Eff: Is there anything they could add to the game, to attract you into playing it?

Richard: I think you're being a bit harsh about the classes - creating content for all the classic character classes would bee too expensive. They might only have two skill trees available, but you can build your own character from both skillsets and you get a choice of three backgrounds which I assume give separate skills and bonuses. The backgrounds are more the character archetypes anyway - corporate (diplomat/resources), street kid (I guess rogue/tech/hacker skills) and nomad (street samurai type stuff). Better for them to focus on deeper content for fewer character types than broader but shallower material for all.

Tudor: (a few ppl have said this to me) I get that but are classes in rpg
corp=fixer
nomad=mad max types in ttrpg
street kid=gang member in ttrpg?
I think its kinda over glamorous my main hot take

Richard: It's meant to be a first person immersive CRPG, not a social beer and skittles RPG session - they need to put the money on the screen and want to take everything up a notch from Witcher 3.

Tudor: I get it and I hope not a GTA reskin full of heists. Hope it has philosophy social commentary and cognitive gonzo. I only play fallout so what would i know about computer gaming.

Richard: Well, the Witcher games had a go at subverting expectations re the monsters and curses. You could straight up treat the monsters as monsters and hack them up and still keep going with the game, or you could investigate the legends, the characters involved in the affected village and work out that a lot of the time the monster was only there because of someone's corruption or evil actions, and bringing them to justice would lay the curse.

Tudor: Possibly like many things just marketing and fans that bug me.
Worst film ever made gets me more curious than blockbuster of the year

Richard: So I doubt Cyberpunk 2077 will be just another shitty open worlde collectathon and icon a-la-ubisoft

Tudor: I guess we should wait and not speculate

Richard: I can wait and speculate

Tudor: Your a special man. Solarpunk is the cool thing kids into now
sustainable egalitarian tech. Cant imaging a computer game Solarpunk77 - probably a sustainable city sim about gardening and recycling so supermarkets and power companies collapse. 

Tai: If you can, watch "Appleseed Ex Machina"

Eff:Cool thanks, watching the YouTube clips now
Sooo many bullets, John Woo bullets, many many

Tai: You need to watch the whole thing to see the message.

Eff: Shall do. I like the love story too, lol
  
(later)

Thanks Tai Lung and Tudor Cook Beal , I've been inspired to check out the live version of Ghost In The Shell (can't access Appleseed yet). Just starting to watch it, it seems a bit more heavy handed with the cyberpunk message than the anime, but I like how much grittier it seems. (I watched the anime years ago, and am trying to appreciate the live version on its own) Thoughts?

Solar Punk seems nice!

Tudor: (ghost in the shell) film was abused as dumbed down and whitewashed so lots of fans hate it. I liked It anyway. Stand Alone Complex the tv series is the best version but some ppl don't like that. I guess the idea of failures of high tech is part of the dystopia - so grunge, ruins, poverty all part of the mix. Solar punk guys got me into dumb tech - less fragile more sustainable longer lasting. Looking at Indiginous long lasting cultures again.

Eff:
I realize the live movie is different, but in some ways, the dumbing down made it more accessible. If I had seen it first, I'd be interested in watching the anime/tv series after.

Tai: The movie is different in that is does not capture what made the anime special. It does not have the depth, the thought, the essence. That is the problem with everything becoming accessible, you lose the depth that originally inspired and drew people to it. Then pop culture is drawn to something that is not what it was, only to something that implies what it is. You lose the original.

Tai: An excellent overview and perspective
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FH2aVDj6HVM

Rodney: Cyberpunk died in 1993 (with pic of Billy Idol's Cyberpunk single)

-----------------------------------------

This thread came to life elsewhere again but it links to my older cyberpunk 1977 and deco posts

For the record I side on Pure genre over elements of genre featured. So Psychic aliens or demons tend to put outside scope of my work. I dont dislike it (if you do better than Shadowrun) but when Im talking genre other stuff should be a minor element. Corsucant in StarWars had dirty low living neon scary streets but Starwars is not cyberpunk even if it has the odd bionic bit.

Monday, 21 September 2020

I Call Ye Craftgod!

 














So I got proper internet or what Australia passes for the net, not just phone. I thought I'd spend 72 hours a week playing Farcray Primal and Fallout but nope. Mostly watching videos and since I found this wood mirror frame I've been crafting lots. I've pulled out my minis, kits, scrap boxes, and got to work. Above is battleboard I'm working on and some pencil sharpened sticks hot glued awaiting a base currently keeping Cthulhu away (i will paint).

Mostly working on making frame into a battleboard with a cobblestone texture still drying after days. Has one coat of pva and spak filler mixed to fill in edge around outside and seal. Will try a pva and colour wash next. Has some cracks from Femo air dry clay but overall its less like baby poop than Das brand I've always thought a sad and disappointing product. The Femo brand was perfect with texture rollers from greenstuff (yes send me free products to review and name drop). Some of my cheap pva had gone sour and nasty but the good stuff seems fine after 20 years. This has been good to purge stuff.

So the baseboard in cobblestone will be for dungeons and ye old cities. I got a green grass square for it for outdoors. Will do a city grid and perhaps a space scene for sf battles. Started on some scatter terrain bits and hope will get a bunch ready for my stone age games with cliffs, hills, and trees. I have two lots of mars attacks redbrick ruins and an industrial foundry kit I'm going to build and paint finally. From what I've seen from 20 years of stenciling and aerosol art I have lots of the skills I need and enjoying learning from vids while i work and potter about the house. I've been eating less too which I didn't expect. So my net has given me a new lease on life. Plus walking to the hardware store and collecting sticks and smashed bits of car plastic on the highway for post apoc terrain. I'm supposed to be building a moon theme room at one club and a poster corridor of my art for a punkier one. I Will see how this goes but doubt I will get Sydney pay here.

I appreciate art tricks cos as an art teacher for 20 years lots of art is tricks. I know lots that my vid viewing channels don't know and more fine art or street art so I think I have something to bring to the table. Got a Dremel for sawing (a bit disappointing cutting sticks vs my titanium bladed shears). Used to unrivet some old toy cars for gaslands type stuff. I have a few test things drying and some things I want like cheap mesh not a dollar a cm mesh from hobby or art shops. Hoping to find cheaper expanding foam.

So having been a mostly not interested in minis gamer what happened? I liked 1/72 and a kid because it was compact and you got alot and as I felt to starved I mostly liked lego, matchbox cars,  blocks, soldiers, animals, and starwars as you could add to a collection over years and I knew I would not have cool seasonal toys. My plane kits collection my mum paid me so she could smash them out of some anti model fantasy from a life time of model making males in her life - i used to buy unearthed arcana in 80s. She did wince when I told her they were worth quite a bit. Mostly relatives gave me macrame owls, hankies, candy and tea towels so I got good at hoarding my scant resources.

So 40 years later I have a bunch again. I like fancy toy animals and collecting them made me draw better and learn about evolutionary biology and evolution better (I love synapsids). When I lived above a gaming club and ninja dojo for years in Sydney I got to see huge piles of scenery, tables, crafters at work, and model makers. I got back into minis "biblical era" first for my BRP Babylon games and later Vikings, Roman era, medieval. The monster scale I find less important. Big monsters for non-humanoids ok. I have almost the whole line of Mars attacks - civilians and burning cow set (i will build my own burning cows). I was mostly ok not painting as I like silhouette mostly. Club kids laughed at my use of paper minis for marvel (sob) and scrouged me a tub of Heroclix for my marvel game. I since got a few hundred bulks that have had years of use. BRP murder highway game I got lots of modern special forces and recently sets of 1/72 rednecks and zombie fighters. I got a sizable pile of 1/72 armed pre ww2 civilians and cops and gangsters and boxer rebellion civilians and ww2 partisans for Cthulhu plus a pile of 1920s cars, trucks, and busses. In the last few years, I was running Cthulhu and got lots of squamous and rugose things.

I'm mostly working on terrain till im happy with tool use and using less glue and paint better. But will paint some up eventually possibly when I get my shed and spare room clearer. 

So other than renewing my toy and company starved youth that probably helped me be imaginative what have I come to like about minis, especially when you have enough?

They really do ad to drama when you go for your monster box and pull out some Cthulhu Mythos thing and players go EWTF is that and worry more.

Sometimes playing with stuff gives you ideas. Sorting my cars into themes suggested roadwar adventures and gangs. 

As for who is where and can shoot It reduces lots of ambiguity and speeds play.

Helps some ppl less imaginative than me work out what's happening because sometimes theatre of the mind varies from person to person.

I think playing TSR marvel I always liked minis because punching ppl through walls and knowing what stuff in the street you can lift and smash ppl with is important. I ran a con Secret Wars 2 street battle 12 player battle royals that were fun. Scenery and minis help players come up with crazy ideas.

I have considered now I have lots of monsters I could draw random monster from a bag instead of dice. Mostly my ice age mammals this works but my dungeon critter pile improving.

Scale and numbers can really add to the horror and theatre of gaming. Possibly I'm driven by ooh and ahs of players a bit.

I'm supposed to be doing a megadungeon module for Patreon and rewriting my spell lists but not. Checking if my airbrush in the shed workable tomorrow and checking the state of long-stored art supplies. Need packs of chipboard cos I do pretty well with cardboard so some buildings in works soon. Hopefully will have something decent to show off soon. The skills I learn here I will abuse in my fine art in the future.

I guess I'm finally enjoying covid shut-in and loss of my career and thankfully I have a place to live and the means at the moment. 2/3 of my friends awol since march a bit sad so I hope they are all well. I guess I have come out of this better than lots of people. Id like to thank my readers for keeping me going through a few horrible years.








broken found bits from the road will end up post apoc scatter terrain


Wish I had known about these before I bought a fancy hi-tech ruin kit



Kit bits. Good inspiration but I think I could scratch build now. Still good inspiration.

Still find Blogger changing things after I do with spaces, fonts, justifications. I prefer new facebook to new blogger.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Stone Age Saga Reach Name Level


 











So we had some absentees from the game and an old AWOL player popped back in which was nice. I've been learning to cope with name level player characters after a few years absence and even then most of my games end 12-14th level. I've always preferred low-level play and BRP always feels low level or is at least never stops being risky. Played Dawn of Man a while on PC and very pretty and nice but I'm not sure if it ends and is pretty slow even on the fastest setting so games take days. You could possibly run on screen and work at the same time. My second game advanced faster but I'm not sure If you really win or lose or just pass time. Civilisation2 had a cave mod that had a tech tree with various stone tools and other things on the tech tree. Baskets and knots are pretty underestimated tech when you only care about weapons. Playing Farcry Primal again now my machine working with new boards (wouldn't run with 2 cards so I got a bigger better one) plus I have real internet not my phone so I'm no longer a starving homeless person using my phone for everything. Primal is pretty good though I dread a few later weapons when they had plenty of real stuff to work with. 

So I have in my sandbox-style players have had three choices kicking around a while.

1 Pesky centaurs invaded the region with advanced tech and slavery
2 Frost giant keep near the city of the old ones up to no good (4-5 month waiting)
3 Dysons Delves vol 2 - Red Ape Valley

And once again they went back to Red Ape Valley and wiped out most everything and plan to colonise it. Possibly the tribe sky cult might adopt the Ziggurat. So as Larnos the giant changed class he technically is not named level he has a cave in Red Ape valley with a healing fountain and a huge pack of dogs he can talk with. Sourberry known mostly as "The Elf" has been knighted by Elf nobility who dislikes him immensely for being some kind of chaos clown trickster leading young elves astray has been awarded the local elf hidden hillfort. He is busy glassblowing an alchemy lab. So they caught up with Orko the greatest living human wizard in the human world who has been living in the lost dino valley with a Pterodactyl barbarian and lizard monks (was 3rd Lv when last played now 10th).

One advantage of lots of old-style adventures is the level guidelines are blurry and fairness and balancing are scoffworthy only. So I'm impressed I ran the first half the Dyson adventure as a Solo but worked fine with a few extra players for the hard bits. There were two moments in the Ziggurat of the morning lord I thought might be a TPK. Also, nobody has much healing or even first aid at the moment. As party name level they seem happy to have followers do stuff like mind homes.

So when Orko returned to the mountain tribes cave he was awed to see numbers up, gardens, wooden walls, fruit trees, and earthworks made by druids. Also noted several tribe members riding griffons and talking to them. So they looked at the list of problems and decided Red Ape Valley was the place to visit. Largos the giant showed of his cave and dogs before they climbed up the cliff that split the valley and went to the Ziggurat. Red apes fled them which pleased everyone after the beating Largos gave them when he moved in with his dogs. 

So into the complex which I will skim details as you should play it but the best moment was when they activated a magic trap twice so I was pleased to trap them with two firewalls and two summoned invisible horrors which pleased me greatly. Not really supposed to happen but good to see players mess up a magic trap so badly. Anyway, luckily Orko the magnificent had magic visibility dust making the battle not so bad.

The last area in the valley had a cave with ogres, ogre magi, red apes, white apes, and a succubus had been breeding. The party had gleaned some forbidden woman and monsters were there but over the last thousand years hybridizing got worse.

One great moment when at a fork Lagos asked his dog which way smelled best. The dog took a big whiff and the equivalent of a sanity loss and blubbed bad men eating and killing friends! So they ran immediately to see a grizzly band of ogres killing and eating halflings and saved two. Then went through a secret door and an ogre-magi blasted them all with a freeze way. Orko fled badly wounded. The elf hid behind the giant. The big dire wolf size dog ran away. They blasted the ogre magi with spells and chased it but it turned to mist and went through a door. They hesitated a bit then charged only to have the Giant charmed by the succubus and the ogre. The elf had turned invisible and positioned himself and fireballed the boss monsters and Orko scared of the giant did the same vapourising the monsters and nullifying the spell in time. So the party saved by a 2nd level spell again.

Was big fun and the valley mostly cleared up now of trouble and some of the tribe plan to colonise the place. The sky cult will probably adopt the Ziggurat former home of the apes. The elf also used charm monster to tame the succubi pet otyg which they settled in a pit for the community sewerage and composting facility (well a pit really). Elf made some secret tunnels connecting his fort to the pit then the cave systems below the tribe. Orko met the ogress and saw the cave cathedral covered in mystic scrawls of ancient wizards. Being the most powerful wizard in the land pretty easy when he might be the only wizard in the land. The other characters have shown him lots of ancient scrawls and sites he might exploit.

So hoping they can finish those centaurs (griffons are keen) and then take on those giants.

I have a full colour cover sitting for the next revision of my stone age sorcery book. Might add some extra blog posts, tribes data, a city of the old ones, weapons, monsters, and more to next version. All minis below set to 1/72md. Helps lots mostly for marching order and location in a fight. I had to make fireball templates in-game as so many flying about.



This if the firewall trap going off which party sprung when elf's sprite follower was unanointed came in while they were meddling with both trigger gems. DOH!



Ogres eating halflings battle

Ogre magi waiting behind secret door ready with cone of cold. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Monsters: Magnetodon & Black Slitherer

















Magnetodon (Magical Animal)
Small AC +7 HD 3 Bite 2d4 Mov 6 can snatch up to 6 points of ENC weapons or points of AC from metal armour into its mouth per round within 6 range which it gobbles up instantly
Large AC +10 HD 6 Bite 3d4 Move 9 can snatch up to 12 points of ENC of weapons 
or points of AC from metal armour into its mouth per round within 6 range which it gobbles up instantly.  
Large Magnetadons have various broken metal items clinging to it and when angry can create a vortex of flying shrapnel that causes 2d4 damage to any creature within 1 range.

Spending all your effort to hold onto a weapon or armour (not both) requires a STR save to avoid it being eaten. Magic weapons take a whole round to devour and the beast will stop gobbling weapons to chew anything magical or certain strange metals. 

This power can be very destructive to technology, metallic golems or other metallic monsters and causes a d4 damage per ENC point they steal or half with a save. The effect interferes with electronic devices like radio, radar, guidance or ignition systems.
 Rust monsters touch causes the monster to save or die and become a pile of rust. Spells causing rust inflict a d6 per caster level save halves. Metalic beings can sense something when the creatures get within 6 range.

This living metallic preditor (possibly from the plane of earth or some metallic demiplane) on it's own world hunts other metallic creatures to devour by use of magnetism to draw prey into it's mouth. Resembling prehistoric synapsids like dimetrodon with eyes on short stalks possibly used to hide under rivers of liquid mercury on their own world. They are dark metallic grey or black and sometimes shiny. Smaller ones are 2m long and larger ones reach 4m. Nobody knows how they got to the world and most agree it was a mistake. Possibly they were created by a mad wizard in a lab.

Black Slitherer (Magical Animal)
AC +7 HD 4 Tentaclex2 grapple + 2d4 acid Mov 6 (Climb or Swim) The 2m tentacle will hold on automatically causing acid damage each round. If both tentacles grab hold and the target is human size or less the slimy horror will engulf them for 2d4 damage and possibly drowning the victim. This also frees up the tentacles to attack but it cannot engulf anymore victims until the first is at -10 HP and very little is left.

These 2m tall gelatinous horrors make a hideous sucking sound while moving but are silent waiting for an ambush on a ceiling or in water. They resemble a black tar-like gelatinous creature that walks on dozens of short sucker feet. They have crude motion-sensitive sensory organs that do not require light and are mindless only motivated by hunger or pain. Their appearance can change as they move and none have a set form or distinct appearance. They can ooze through bars but their acid only affects organic material not metal or stone. They help clean up dungeons by eating dead or anything organic they collect in their slime. They leave a wet caustic train which dries to a crust in 10 minutes and some alchemists value. A d6 hours after eating a human-size prey they bud into two smaller weaker ones which hunt vermin for a d4 weeks before big enough to eat a human or medeum animal. Adults might eat a smaller one so they stay hidden. Adults might lurk together and seem to cooperate but it is more like coopertition. 

Bonus points for knowing where I stole these from. Extra If you don't use the Internet.
 

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Books for Babylonian Gaming














I had a reader request which books are good for Mesopotamian gaming which Im happy to oblige with. To be fair some come from a Biblical scholarship point of view which sometimes has some problems when they refute the writings of the actual people vs some interpretation from frequently erroneous and biased Bible sources. So it is a thing to look out for. The biases of UFO scholars is probably worse and up there with anti-vaxxers and other anti-science non-truths. Lots of older books based on victorian era ideas and you need to be wary of. UFO experts often cite dated sources. Actual Assyrians told me Victorians ideas on their occultism mostly wrong and frequently repeated. Identifying the Burney Relief (also known as the Queen of the Night relief) as Lilith or Ishtar probably a sign your source is dated. Gilgamesh has been revised with new tablets found a few times - I have three versions. Germans and French have more. So little Persian in English it's kinda revolting as they outlasted Rome.

Zechariah Sitchin is the wanker responsible for UFO ancient astronaut cults, most mentions of the Annunaki and Niburu all which he mistranslated as a qualified Economist. He is responsible for so much trash in the world. I'm increasingly over ancient astronauts in SF and see it as damaging to archaeology and to the descendants of people who are denied their heritage by racist UFO nuts. Von Daniken proven to have copied HPL subject and prose style is pretty bad too. Most modern UFO nut s don't realise their beliefs go back to a handful of madmen. It is so easy to debunk fake translations because everything is online now. 

Illustrated children's books are a great source of everyday life stuff and most useful for players. I prefer illustrated ones to photographic actor based ones as they all look too clean and new.

Look for the penguin classics too of Gilgamesh and Enuma Elish. Marduk establishing his dominance over the old assembly of gods is great stuff

Atlas series has a volume on Mesopotamia. Time-life and others have published these as cultural atlas series. They have useful essays and some maps. Ancient Egypt, Greek World is good. I was disappointed the Russia one skimmed over Slavic and Viking era and mostly on the Russian revolution. There are lots of volumes in series often under $20 bucks. Id like a medieval one.

Myths From Mesopotaimia - Stephanie Dalley 1989
Good bunch of translated myths

Gods, Demons & Symbols of ancient Mesopotaimia - Black & Green
A great book with myths, family trees of gods, illustrations and explanations. I found a free pdf on an academic journal site recently but forgot where (I'm a member). I get essays on this topic emailed to me automatically some are very good. This book is a good start.

Sumerian Mythology - 
Samuel Noah Kramer
Pod copy from forgotten books.org Full of type errors from ocr - Im dyslexic but if I see mistakes its bad. Book is great though but get a hardback old one perhaps

Art of the Ancient Near East - Pierre Amiet 1980
Is a pretty amazing book I lucked out and found second hand. 3 Inches thick of art images, photos and diagrams. Currently almost 400 dollars so I did ok for $80

The Sumerians Samuel - Noah Kramer 1963
All his stuff pretty readable, good commentary based on texts

Dictionary of the Ancient Near East - 2000 
Has lots of good content in mini-essay entries including small diagrams and maps

Penguin Encyclopedia of Ancient Civilisations - 1980
Fairly broad scope but chapters on Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, Assyria and Mittani

History of Assyria - A.T. Olmstead 1951
Almost 700 pages. Focuses on late empire vs Israel quite a bit

Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia - Jean Bottero  1992
Not so dated good range of coverage 

The Archaeology of Mesopotaimia - Sefton Lloyd 1978
Lots of good maps and diagrams

Cities & Planning in the ancient Near East Paul Lampl 1968
Lots of maps and some comments on urban planning 

Inanna - Wolkstien & Kramer 1983
Prayers to Inanna featuring myths. If you don't read prayers of a god you're missing out on ever understanding them. Id recommend reading prayers to greek gods you thought you knew.  I was shocked a few times reading this book.

The Ancient Near East vol 1 & 2 - Ed James B Pritchard 1958
Great pictures and samples of ancient texts. For comparative Bible studies but great

Who's Who in the Ancient Near East-  Gwendolyn Leick 1999
Handy to look up kings and named persons

Mesopotamia -
 Gwendolyn Leick 2001
Great book focused on urbanisation and some cities

The Art & Architecture of the 
Ancient Orient  Henri Frankfort 1954
Great photos and maps, good essays

Armies of the Ancient Near East 3000bc-539bc - Stillman&Tallis
Very wargame focused book of military kit - osprey books worth a look too

The Assyrian - Nicholas Guild
My fave historical fiction and one of best books I ever read. Never found other books and seems he quit writing. Amazon had bad ocr versions full of typos

Creation - Gore Vidal
Not quite on point era wise but a great book of travel and religious history fiction

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East - Ed by Eric M. Meyers
600 bux a vol last time i looked but a good library might have it
https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780195065121.001.0001/acref-9780195065121

Iran - R.Ghishman 1951
A bit outside this topic but prehistory and Elam content ok start. Shamefully few books on this in English. Don't trust the woeful 300 films which are disgusting attacks on democracy by human trash Frank Millar

Plenty of others out there with pix I'm not mentioning as very repetitive and basic.
Looking at these dates, it is time I looked for something more recent but I mostly read a few journal essays a month now on topic possibly better than books or Facebook or youtube

Id welcome any more references out there.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Some Standout Gaming Stuff



The other day someone asked which rpg books had the best design and art and writing. And I replied very few do all well and not many Id show to non-gamers. Well, I got a copy of Luka Rejecs ultraviolet grasslands proving me wrong next day. Here is my non-gamer pal yaz reading and enjoying this book. Very awesome stuff and pretty compatible with my own Planet Psychon book. Sadly hard to find in Australia on shelves - i got from game dealer on ebay from Melb who had a few copies. I look forward to the movie. This Anomalous Subsurface Environment and Planet Psychon could all be used together possibly Hills Canton could too.

I will do a better review later buy Yaz read for several hours which gamebooks seldom impress my artist/film maker friends so much. 

Strangely im reading 3 awesome purple hardback gaming books including UVG. Goodman games "Lost City" vol 4 of of their remastered classics and the fancy cover of Wizards DnD5 Saltmarsh. Funnily I wanted a goodman games treatment of original but this is a very good book. Im a life long hater of Wizards of the Coast for Everwhay RPG (new age and appropriation crimes - think kids gateway to Golden Dawn magic yawn). Recently I got mad mage dungeon, Theros and now new Saltmarsh. As they are doing better by me I'm giving them a go in hopes they do more betterer stuff. The main key for me is nice maps I can read that don't look like videogame cheat sheet maps. Theros and Saltmarsh have stuff I could use in other campaigns. Saltmarsh is better written than the Mad Mage (I'm sure they mean angry not an unqualified mental health diagnosis). Mad mage is my go-to sleep time book vs other books I can't put down but as I'm trying to sleep properly, this is perfect. Theros and Saltmarsh have good spacing with spot art, maps and tables breaking up text. It's gone back to boxed text but not overwritten. Ship deck plans look useful. I loved the original 1st saltmarsh book but the other two were harder to use. Dunwater always seemed odd as you kill monsters to discover your wrong and pay them compensation to get them onside. Pretty depressing unheroic stuff I'm surprised to see it here but I think the episode could have not had a map even unless you have to help fight an evil lizard faction to get them onside and spot which is which. That's what I would do to fix. A bit like Secret of Bone Hill - If you don't want murder hobos to wipe out village and castle don't stat them up and detail like a combat dungeon. If they try everyone runs away screaming you murder lots and everyone thinks your notorious serial killers now in only a few sentences of play. Bone Hill promised us the village would be featured in the sequel and it barley mentions content in the first volume. Anyway, I'm not super into Saltmarsh yet but I'm pretty pleased with the direction. 

Probably my biggest turn off from playing dnd5 is
1) half races described in terms of cliches I got taught in archaeology to not use 30 years ago that made some of my students cry
2) furries and lack of humans in most games. Even I want to play Kenku, lizardfolk and lionfolk. It seems like a feature of the game but it makes the whole thing a bit less real
3) pedants on forums and in games who love and care about rules vs older eds loosey-goosey no-2-games-the-same and ok to homebrew spirit of older games
4) man they nerfed spells and lore - feel like my 40 years of fandom wasted over trivial changes. Succubi, not demons. Drow not into drugs and porn but consensual bondage is evil. Bloodwars. Lots of stuff. Like I just don't care about dc/marvel/starwars/drwho lore now since they all quit their decades of continuity pretty much the same year and also nerf stuff and rewrite history. Sometimes they get it better but often changes seem like those of a new boss who comes in with changes to flex their muscles and ignores staff who have been around decades and know these changes will wreck the joint.

I'm fine with moral shifts like race and gender diversity and asking "are we the baddies?" when killing goblins. I appreciate the effort even If they get It not quite right (and might not age well).

Got scifi and factory terrain crate too and some big prepainted fuel tanks and an industrial ruin pack too so I'm terrain up. Im only using jumbo dice now. Puny tiny dice not scary enough.

Anyway, UVG is best product 2020 and in my top 10 rpg books ever.
I might write up some of my lists as ppl asked.
Also had a request to share my Mesopotamian bookshelf with ppl so will soon.

Hoping if your near a fire stay safe, Australia went through this already (and will have again where forests left). Main lessons I have for you is the smoke will affect your health for months and a double whammy if in COVID lockdown. Murdoch press and anti-science loonies blamed fires on green party policy and left arsonists etc and even if disproved ppl got more anti-environment if you can believe it. Not helping ppl get global warming aware as some might hope. They will just double down deny.  Sorry, its really boiling frog bullshit.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Megadungeon Project + Reading the Mad Mage Dungeon

 














Blogger still changing spaces and changing justifications after I post them.

So this month on Patreon I'm presenting a mega-dungeon module on my Patreon. My earlier attempt was overcrowded and too busy. This one is spread out over a much bigger area with themed clusters connected by long corridors hundreds of meters apart. I dreamed about it a while before I did the maps a few months back. I have just blown up 8 maps from this with encounter tables and I'm ready to start work on the actual book now.

I'm pretty happy with most of the progress and I need a break from post apoc for a bit. One artist Dan Smith completed everything I asked in 48 hours and was great to work with. Others Ive not heard much from and will probably cancel after 30 days of no response. 

I did read the Rick & Morty dnd set which reads like a murder hobo primer. It's pretty refreshing and I laughed aloud a few places. It made 5th ed rules more readable and helped remind me why I don't want to play it much. The module I couldn't finish reading, maybe later.

I am reading level 4 of the mad mage dnd5 hardback for mostly negative inspiration. I'm pretty sure its ok to say he is a very angry and mad wizard.

Good Features
-I like the thematic struggles of factions
-I like you get rewards for non-killing monsters but seems inconsistent who you get xps for helping as it comes up a lot
-good variety of monsters and lots don't want you dead and just want to eat
-catching a wizard learning spells, they spend a 1/3 of their lives doing it so about time
-nice links of characters to other products which I appreciate but won't affect me
-so many monsters have names which I guess is good to know
-I like the maps in recent books and really disliked the full-colour computer game looking ones, possibly these maps are what makes me want recent books like this, Theros and Saltmarsh. I even got curious to look at some other books again buy maps and linear writing killed it
-The maps look good and stealable and I accidentally got the map pack which I was pissed at first then liked them. When I read the book having these on hand made book far more readable than flipping around in the book. Of course, older modules all did this or had separate map book 
-I like the detail on fungus, good stuff plus awakened giant fungi made by deep gnome druids
-Im liking the art more and paintings of monsters in this book 
-I like the mad mage's ego is everpresent spying on the party and nerfing their plans and various things with his likeness. Id probably amp this up more
-Has a goblin market. Goblinoids are set up to be more neutral overall which I'm fine with
-Lots of situations activated by adventures presence but If they spend months here clearly lots of these situations will change. I like remnants of dead adventurers and damage
-There is one toilet on Lv3 phew!
-Lots of effort thinking this through and various interconnections for fans

Not So Good Features
-writers do not know what a fresco is and misuse it in text
-explaining that beads have holes drilled in them
-long-winded descriptions makes it harder to remember and harder to skin quickly
-has various corridors to add extra content but should offer hints to hide them more
-has gates everywhere but needs them marked and where they go on the map cos locating where they go might require lots of reading 
-drow into consensual bondage is evil but now they don't do drugs or porn like Gygax 
-still feels a bit crowded and hard to believe a bunch of hobgoblins could stop even one party let alone drow and the Xanthar guild 
-magical puzzles you'd need a spell to solve so barley puzzles
-poetry puzzles not really solvable really with given information, even if you have seen everything they talk about you might not know it
-treasure seems skimpy vs Gygax at this level. I could set up a shop selling spells in the market and make more money. Silver at 8th level is just beer and tip money for servants
-a poisonous thing in water effects stuffs upriver in a huge body of water....
-kinda offers to pit factions against each other but they are all evil and gotta die in the long run
-mentions random encounters a bit with no tables. Early it gives you some options for such things but then forgets. Id make my own up because resting is for the weak
-I almost feel like a chart of relations between NPCs and what level they work on could be handy like a Drow family tree. But sometimes your players just kill the shit out of everyone and knowing their names and mothers just makes it harder to kill them
-Not a lot of art, pages of text blocks, some B&W spot illustrations might have helped

Overall it is a good product and is a big fat dungeon that debunks claims dnd5 doesn't do this. It would probably take a lot longer to play with 3rd or later ed. It has got me interested in dnd5 stuff again and If I see anyone selling the DM book, Volo, Xanthar and Morkendainens books second hand I will grab. The Tasha book will be interesting as I want to see how much they have changed her lore. It's like every world-shaking Greyhawk wizard is moving to the Forgettable Realms these days and changing their backstories.

The thing that puts me off 5th ed complexity and slowness the most is pedantic fans cockblocking each other with petty rulings. Possibly in the seeming all-furry games, I played in this kind of thing came up a lot. I guess so many spells have been nerfed also so 36d6 fireballs not a thing and charm spell is pretty meh now. Theros book almost tempted me and running the Mad Mage dungeon is almost appealing. They seem keen to get you into High-level play in current DnD and as it is even harder to die than old versions the risk seems reduced. Lots of lore changes seem petty. Succubi not demons now. Sigh.

So my currently dungeon is under a ruined city by a marshy patch where a river ran long ago. The surface is mostly rubble and grassy with a few monsters and intact buildings. Some of these have connected sub-surface tunnels that make up the dungeon. I might ad a cavern level later with some planar gates. I'm hoping the separation of factions makes them feel more plausibly separate rather than the crowded motel complex vibe of other dungeons where monsters must meet many times a day like we meet other humans at a supermarket.  

The Legend of Thrice Cursed Karbaal 
So long ago the city of Karbaal was a prosperous city part of an ancient empire. As the imperial government began to support bloodthirsty war gods and demons the local land spirits and gods rebelled, moving the river and taking away the fertility of the region. The warlike governors had forgotten their old pacts with nature and the city was cursed. The city declined into brutishness and was sacked several times before the final reduced population were taken away as slaves to another city. Various wonders of the cursed city are still intact ruins. The monsters here are the bitter venom of the old gods. In recent years greedy adventurers came here to loot the place and set up a permanent camp and took control of a dungeon entrance. For a modest fee and 5% cut you can join up. Without is guild adventurers consider you to be stealing from them. The guild rapidly discovered there are evil cults here seasonally also and they have come into conflict. 

When the cults are culled and monsters are driven away settlers will return according to prophecy. The wandering descendants of those taken as slaves long ago will return and the old spirits and gods will renew the land and strike away from the cursed fate of the ruins.

This should be done this month on Patreon and I will probably revise My Murder Hobo Manual and do a smaller dungeon zine next month.

Cyberpunk 1977

 


A long interest of mine is the Idea of Proto-cyberpunk. Looking at films, tv and books hinting at the future themes of Cyberpunk. These are my suggestions. I welcome more. I guess one of the key differences is that super cutting edge tech is almost always the domain of big government and military rather than plucky loners. Although the protagonists might resist with difficulty. I'd be interested if any readers might add to my list. I'd be tempted to run a game based on this set in 70s spy agency like the OSI or OSO (Office of Strategic Operations in the Six Million Dollar Man).

1970s was a great time for post apoc sf and steampunk films too.
Technological progress should be questioned is a common thread here too.
Spy Fy often enters this territory and cold war fear of nuclear weapons too.

TV
The Six Million Dollar Man 1973 (99+6 tv films)
The Bionic Woman 1976 (58 episodes)
Beyond Westworld 1980 (5 episodes)

The Bionic franchise was huge part of my life in the 70s and I was a huge fan. Possibly too many episodes helping orphans and such but the best episodes have good SF ideas from other media. Westworld androids and Fembots were repeat appearances. Computers threatening to take over the world in control of vast complexes are a thing. One episode of 6Mil$Man had a character who had his brain programmed by computer for various missions a bit like the children's Joe90 series. Androids first used as an espionage tool then for global domination and self-awareness is a thing. Avengers tv series cybernauts touched similar ideas. The visual conception of this as a mask that comes off revealing a circuit board was scary at the time though less convincing at the time. I did like the fact Steve Austin refused to kill early on and wanted to avoid missions but the Agency would con and trick him. The final episode of The Bionic Woman is pretty bleak as when she wants to quit they offer to send her to agency controlled retirement town for people who know too much so she runs away. 

Film
The Tenth Victim 1965 - manhunting murder sports with celeb assassins
Seconds 1966 - corporate surgical mods gone wild
The Forbin Project 1970 - AI take over the world based on book 1 of triliogy
A Clockwork Orange 1971 - gangs, mind control, dystopia
ZPG 1972 - train wreck more like a bunch of ads than a story
Westworld 1973 - the forerunner of recent tv show by Michael Chriton
Soylent Green 1973 - corporate cannibalism dystopia
Rollerball  1975 - corporate gladiatorial sports for global domination 
Stepford Wives 1975 - android wives
Futureworld 1976 - the sequel to Westworld where androids get more purpose
Demon Seed 1977 - Proteus the AI wants a baby
Brainstorm 1983 - mind recording tech changes the world

Themes like evil corporations taking over, social decline, manipulation of the masses and AI all here. Stepford wives Id almost find good for kids English except for the overly sexual last scene. The more recent reinvention of Stepford brides as a comedy was a horrible idea nullifying the originals message (multiple tv film sequels I can't find anything on). Demon seed I saw at the drive-in with no sound while parents in the front seat were watching something else I forgot. Recently re saw and loved it. By Dean Koontz which surprised me. Brainstorm is underrated as it details a new world-changing tech and how it is rapidly misused. 

Books
Colossus 1966
Cyborg 1972 - Martin Caiden
The Shockwave Rider 1975

The first two were books made into films the third is about a Hacker escaped an elite gov school after learning they have been experimenting on genetics and discarding the rejects. John Brunner coined the term worm which was adopted by computer programmers and is still part of the genre. The corporate state is controlled by organised crime which is a nice touch. Lots of ideas and things we see as the hero changes identities. Corp elite can buy private but ordinary people cant. Influenced by Tofflers Future Shock.

Honorary Mentions
Metropolis - 1926 the cyberpunk classic
The Creation of the Humanoids 1962 - stage play like android rights movie
The Prisoner - 1967 village for retired spies
Doomwatch - 1970 UK agency dealing with tech threats
1990 - 1978-9 fascist state UK with edward Woodward (1984+6) 
2000AD Comics - 1977

Metropolis has dystopian class inequality, androids and other elements standard to the genre. The Creation of the humanoids is a 3 part thinkpiece SF film where people question androids rights. Its an old film but the philosophy driving it is interesting (youtube)The Prisoner had lots of SF elements and also utterly failed to answer any of the basic questions of the show and the final episode is surreal and possibly alien. Certain episodes play with consciousness. Doomwatch is an agency who investigate technological problems influenced by books Like The Waste Makers by Vance Packard. Most of the threats are corporate technology misused or with unforeseen consequences. Plastic eating bacteria on a plane, intelligent super rats, chemical mind control in products etc. 1990 one of many UK dystopia tv series we still working to reproduce in reality. 2000AD had many cyberpunk ideas before anyone knew what that was. It sure had the punk and dystopia part down. Even Judge Dredd had many issues part of the genre. Even Rogue Trooper, a genetic engineered soldier with his dead comrade's personalities in AI chips in his equipment. Probably lots of brit boys comics in Eagle and Lion had spy heroes with one tech gimmick. 

Cyberpunk 1977 RPG
So If I was to set up this as an RPG I would feature characters as scientists, spies and military personnel of the OSI dealing with AI, cyborgs, androids and other tech threats. Some characters would be experiment test subjects. Corporations, rogue agents and foreign governments would be the main threats. Rogue scientists and agents using blackballed tech would be frequent enemies. 

Lack of mobile phones, internet and other modern conveniences can make some adventures easier to plot. It would be more like SPyFi with stronger technological themes and gadgets. Id probably use BRP or possibly Top Secret (i prefer SI version). F.R.E.E.lancers setting by TSR was slightly pre cyberpunk and had lots of good motifs. The gamebook includes rules for minor super talents, dead people connected to AI, skill chips and more. A setting book for America was good too with only Tax dept and Military left of government and state vs states post USA. I did get some novels but they disintegrated as I read them as did my Agent13 book. These books echo some of the ideas I have. SpyFi includes James Bond, Avengers and even Man from Uncle and it wouldn't take much to amp the tech elements up more.

I would possibly include some 70s martial arts here too and the idea of hyper trained agents. Don't need to be quite like Destroyer novels (see the Remo film) but a few ideas I liked. In 70s psionics and UFOs and bigfoot might appear but they could also be hoaxes with other events behind them that characters might investigate. Think of some great 70s action disaster movies. Like Poseidon adventure but with cyborgs or androids. Supertrain with a rogue AI. Adventurers wives/husbands all replaced by androids. Experimental uplifted apes escape. Deathrace is a bit over the top but I love it. Inventing an alternate 1980s or year 2000 might be fun. Towering Inferno - who among elites your saving is the killer android who sabotaged building? Misty Knight in 70s Marvel was a CYborg Pam Grier.

Possibly might do a bunch of mission generators. 

Id appreciates any thoughts and suggestions of other works I should consider in this list.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Those Damned Dirty Centaurs
























Planing a Centaur war in my stone age game so finishing this thing sitting around for a few months. Got box of 1/72nd scale centaurs which helps.

Production Diary
I have 20 unfinished items sitting on blogger. Some are hard work. I almost got a pile of DnD5 books second hand but missed out. Watching pedantic rule debates over stuff online probably cured me of this. Theros book made me consider running it but I'm too scared really of complexity and fans and current culture (random psychic damage for upsetting DM type stuff is toxic).

Been so long since I ran straight dnd setting my imagination seldom goes there. The current Broken Hill book with fresh art on Patreon now. Letting it sit a while for minor corrections and see how artists go. Dan Smith wins for turn around and value so Id say I will use more of. Also got point of my lease offer which I got little response to (pay to use pre-existing art for a project vs commissioning and owning a work). I am meant to be working on My EMO rule book magic section which feels like work. Fathers day killing my next game so I have some prep time. I have an amazing bit of cover art done for the next version of stone age sorcery when I update next. Im updating murder hobo book too. I'm trying to get a bunch of stretch goal items for a KS campaign ready to go as I want it resolved in under 12 months. I have someone reprinting a bunch of my stuff for another KS sometime too. Finished big multi-layered map PDF which I only just figured out how to do and will do more.

d12 Centaur Tribes
1 Ungarans - savage tribe of brutes
2 Kurians - honour obsessed harsh warriors
3 Zarhangi - demonic chaos warriors
4 Astartans - amazons dedicated to arts of love and war
5 Belarad - tribal warriors who live for battle
6 Archeran - philosopher and scholars
7 Dorjan - devil worshiping 
8 Kayleran - zebra like, now hate humans
9 Unaran - wild cyclopses
10 Ramelos - nomad traders
11 Narangul - serve undeath & necromancy
12 Makula - wild but do trade

1 Ungarans (Chaotic & Neutral tendencies)
Wear: Dress in wild animal skins if at all
Wield: 
Stone weapons kit including darts, huge clubs, hammers or axes
Worship: ancestor and beast spirits
Nomads who follow herds, raid humans for mates, wine and food.
Humans are unwelcome rivals without divine blood
Brown and white piebald fur, brown skin, hairy and shaggy

2 Kurians  (Lawful & Evil tendencies)
Wear: bronze armour, helms and hoplite shields
Wield: bronze spears, javelins and sometimes dual wield short swords
Worship: gods of war and metalwork
Obsessed with honour and courage, always accept single combat from warriors
Enslave humans as slaves to build and toil and serve, they only respect the strong 
Chestnut furs and hair, olive skin, very clean

3 Zarhangi (Chaotic & Evil tendencies)
Wear: hideous living chaos armour, helms and shields
Wield: a variety of demonic weapons especially flails, chains and blades

Worship: demons, chaos entities and beings of the outer void
Rampage and murder for their obscene masters, bring about the apocalypse
Humans are for sacrifices, eating or making into mutants with ghastly flesh magic
Often mutated and carry cursed chaos items
Grey fur and pale skin they keep covered from sunlight

4 Astartans 
(Chaos & Good tendencies)
Wear: bronze armour, helms and crescent-shaped shields of hide
Wield: composite bows, lances, spears, javelins
Worship: frightening goddess war and love, sometimes bloody others beautiful

Perform deeds of heroism and evil monster-killing
All-female, kidnap lovers usually discard male ones after a while
White to tan fur, skin and hair colour varies 

5 Belarad (Chaos & Good tendencies)
Wear: bronze armour, ornate cap helms and large ornate oblong shields
Wield: spears, javelin, shortsword, axe
Worship: nature and forest gods
Work with other woodland beings to protect woods
Often work with elves or others protecting wilderness
Cosen warriors are berserks often wielding two axes
Ginger fur and hair, brown skin

6 Archiron (Lawful & Good tendencies)
Wear: linen togas and robes and wreaths of leaves
Wield: huge clubs and bows but often don't carry any in peacetime
Worship: various gods of earth and the sky

Scholars, healers and teachers who often aid and unite wild creatures
Often teach and advise humans who they have hopes for
Chestnut, fair-skinned, long braided hair and beards 

7 Dorjan (Lawful & Evil tendencies)
Wear: heavy iron armour, horned helms and spiked shields
Wield: morningstar maces, serrated swords, axes, and composite bows
Worship: the lords of hell and all have sold their souls, leaders have imps
Torment those who do not submit to sell their souls to hell
Humans must be tortured & harried, they must never settle or take root in the world
Black fur and hair, reddish skin, some horned with devil rune tatoos

8 Kayleran (Nuetral & Evil tendencies)
Wear: chain or plate armour suits with helms and shields, commoners none
Wield: nobles use lance, flail, sword, commoners use composite bows, javelins
Worship: ancestral spirits, increasingly darkness templar cults offering revenge

Formerly served law and good but let down by humans and now serve darkness
Leaders do the most fighting but commoners hunt with bows or javelins
Humans are base betrayers and all must die
Black and white zebra patterns and black mohawk hair styles

9 Celerete (Chaos & Nuetral tendencies)
Wear: hide, some have crude small wooden shields
Wield: blubs, rocks, slings, sickles
Worship: nature spirits and gods they regard as kin, gifted prophets
Cyclops tribe, live as simple herders with sheep
Cultivate berries, wines and cheeses
Avoid humans who think them hideous and stupid brutes
Spotted fur, dark hairy skin, big beards 

10 Ramelos (Chaos & Nuetral tendencies)
Wear: wear ornate merchant class clothes
Wield: short bows, throwing knives, swords, often with exotic martial skills
Worship: gods of travelling, luck and trade
Nomadic travellers with a reputation as shifty among other centaurs 
Live on the road in family groups, avid traders, speak many languages 
Hot blooded in love and easy to provoke to violence, practice divination and curses
Vary greatly in appearance due to travelling ways
Let other centaurs join them most readily and thus despised by other breeds

11 Narangul (Chaos & Evil tendencies)
Wear: heavy iron armour, pointy spiked helms and shields
Wield: Wear ancient armour and shields, with bows and lances
Worship: gods of death, often serve necromancers even beyond the grave
Served as cavalry mercenaries for a sunken civilization necromancers
Their skin and fur is grey and emaciated, features more orcish 

12 Makula (Chaos & Nuetral tendencies)
Wear: hide and wicker shields
Wield: spears and shields
Worship: spirits of nature
These mostly live with their herds in walled villages
They will take slaves and mates but will trade them back if asked
They wear ornate headdresses and body paint 
Tan hide and skin, beardless