1d12 Ways to Stumble into a Fantasy Dungeon.

1d12 Ways to Stumble into a Fantasy Dungeon and 1d12 Freakish but mundane nighttime occurrences.

The way into freakishly large, scary, underground complexes isn’t often marked by road signs and tourist maps.

Roll 1d12 and consult the table below:

  1. While wandering off the road to go to the bathroom, a random character tumbles down into a concealed pit. Take falling damage for a 40′ drop and look up to discover a very old necropolis.
  2. A couple of farm kids clearing a field piled up some funny looking rocks with symbols carved into them. Late one night a portal to some sort of maze opened in the new field.
  3. A Well Digger is reported missing while working on the town’s new well. He fell down onto a buried ziggurat with a large aquifer flowing around it. The Well Digger is okay aside from some bumps and bruises. Who knows what was down there in the dark with him.
  4. A local cleric discovers a secret passage leading to a previously unknown and unmentioned series of underground passages. He did not dare venture further into them alone.
  5. The group is gathering some firewood for the night and wanders right into the entrance of a bramble maze.
  6. The braying of wolves and flashing of will-o-wisps can be found on the moors late at night. One particularly playful wisp teases the group until they follow it to a mysterious cavern entrance.
  7. Insect plagues and stinging insect attacks are on the rise in a nearby farming village. This prompted the discovery of an enormous hive on the side of a cliff facing.
  8. A seemingly random monster attack in the middle of the night by some sort of burrowing beasties leads to a chase through their tunnels right into a complex underground lair.
  9. A hunter (perhaps someone in the group) following game down an old animal path discovers a long abandoned and forgotten fort lying in ruins.
  10. An orc comes running out of the bushes in fear for her life. The local kobolds have summoned something large in their warrens nearby and now the orcs are afraid their village might be destroyed.
  11. The construction of the new inn and stables went really well. Or at least until the first mule put into the stable overnight kicked open a hole leading into an underground passage.
  12. A pair of wyverns circles overhead before swooping down and capturing a stag. Clever characters can track them to their lair in a larger underground complex.
Photo by Kseniya Budko on Pexels.com

Freakish but mundane things that happen during the night in a fantasy woodland setting.

Roll 1d12 and consult the table below to freak out whoever is on guard duty.

  1. Footsteps can be heard in the distant underbrush. Whatever it is, it’s large. However there’s nothing there but large footprints and animal tracks if investigated.
  2. Rumbling of thunder can be heard in the distance as if a storm were rolling in. There isn’t a cloud in the sky.
  3. A distant owl hoots a bit more frequently than normal. It almost seems to be moving closer. Is it trying to communicate.
  4. A fox comes out of the underbrush and cautiously investigates the camp.
  5. A couple of bats continually swoop through the air near camp catching bugs. This isn’t so bad except they keep coming down right next to one of the sentries.
  6. A trio of raccoon kits attempt to raid the camp’s food or provisions. They’re loveable and cute as well as very harmless.
  7. A large colony of wasps is discovered next to camp in an old log right after the fire is built.
  8. The patter of deer footsteps are heard going past the camp in the dark after everyone has gone to sleep.
  9. One lone large coyote can be heard circling the camp. A while later it is joined by two more. Soon the whole pack is circling the camp looking for opportune prey. They may or may not actually attack.
  10. Something very large lands in the trees not far from camp. Later it can be heard flying away. The next morning the remains of a large animal are found somewhere near where whatever it was landed.
  11. The grass and shrubs near the camp constantly crackle and rustle as if growing rapidly during the night. In the morning it turns out the grass gained an extra inch or two while the group slept.
  12. A loud whooping noise can be heard in the distance. Soon the whoop is joined by another. Tree branches can be heard far away. The thud of rocks hitting outside of camp soon follow. They aren’t accurate enough to be considered an attack, more like a warning.

Dead Wood in Des Moines for Monster of the Week RPG.

That night’s stakeout of the cemetery was manned by Dan and Brenda while Tom somewhat illegally wrangled his way back into the Fair with some surveillance gear and provisions. (The cemetery investigation is detailed elsewhere.) The next morning, the entire team reviewed Tom’s bizarre, inexplicable footage

The Des Moines Remote Viewing Society picked up their second “case” much sooner than expected.

It was a dark and stormy night at the Iowa State Fair on the Monday after the fair opened. The Des Moines Remote Viewing Society snagged their second unofficial case. They were walking around the fairgrounds together discussing the cemetery case, eating funnel cakes, and not taking anything too seriously. They stumbled upon an unusual flyer on their way by the Frontier Village.

The Strange Case of AJ Sutton, Wood Carver.

The Case of the Missing Chainsaw Carvings.

The crew wandered down to the Chainsaw Artist’s booth and took in the 1:30 show. The crowd peered on as a man turned a fairly ordinary hunk of log into a statue of an old farmer wearing a straw hat and holding a corn cob pipe. The artist’s only tools were five sizes of chainsaws and his imagination.

He buzzed and grinded away for over an hour and a half, taking a few breaks for water and to talk to the crowd. The artist, AJ Sutton, said the statues just appeared to him in the wood. It was almost as if the statues wanted to make an appearance on their own. Most statues were polished and stained after the show, then given to whomever commissioned them or sold at the Woodcutter’s Tent.

Birds, wolves, cats, as well as school mascots like Cy the Cyclone and Herky the Hawkeye were popular. The statues usually sold for around $65.00 or more.

After the show, Dan and Brenda talked to AJ backstage while Tom poked around the scene of the crime under the pretense of buying a statue. The empty bases of where the Cy and Herky statues were on display remained intact, almost as if the statues had walked off on their own.

“It happens almost every year.” AJ explained.

“Usually it’s just some college kids playing a prank,” he continued. “Watch. They’ll turn up trying to milk the Butter Cow in a photo later or magically show up at a concert on the last night of the Fair. Happens almost every year.”

Tom discovered one anomaly that didn’t make a lot of sense. Usually the statues were stolen with their bases. The statues weren’t balanced well enough by themselves to stand on their own. Yet there was no sawdust on the grassy ground near the scene. Tina, the girl in charge of selling the statues said there had never been an incident where the bases were left behind before. There was bare wood under where the mascots had been posed.

Further investigation revealed one of the Fair sanitation workers had seen two “young kids in what looked like mascot costumes” running away from the scene.

Dan’s “command center,” a 2012 Dodge Caravan loaded up with cameras and electronics for the cemetery stake out was pressed into service as soon as the group rounded out their day. A quick Internet search revealed several pranks from years past as AJ had described them. In every photo, the statues were still on bases and many appeared to be heavy enough to require two or more people to move them.

That night’s stakeout of the cemetery was manned by Dan and Brenda while Tom somewhat illegally wrangled his way back into the Fair with some surveillance gear and provisions. (The cemetery investigation is detailed elsewhere.) The next morning, the entire team reviewed Tom’s bizarre, inexplicable footage.

No obvious signs of tampering. The camera aimed into the statuary sales area turned itself off and on three times during the night.

It got freakier from there. A lawn gnome and the farmer in the straw hat appeared to move around the area random during the night. Each time they moved, they reappeared in different poses. Each time they moved, they were still on their bases in a different pose!

Tom said he didn’t see anything strange at the time. No EVPs. Thermal was normal. He also did not notice the camera shutting down for half an hour at a time. The next morning he observed the statues back in their original places as if nothing had happened.

Closer to morning two “kids in mascot costumes” were seen climbing the fence on the University Ave side. A state trooper followed up on the report, but did not find anyone matching that description. There was some damage to the fence where someone heavy had climbed over and apparently used a piece of wood to get around the razor wire at the top of the fence. No blood or serious damage, however.

Donut Hut across the street on University from the fairgrounds also reported a break-in and vandalization during the night. The only anomaly was the presence of wood splinters in the broken glass of their front window, but no bat or other piece of wood found at the scene.

To be continued…

Disclaimer: People and events depicted herein are fictitious and intended for entertainment use only. Any similarity to persons living or deceased is unintentional. There is no Des Moines Remote Viewing Society. This is a work of fiction. No one was harmed in the making of this blog.

Legal Stuff: For use with with Monster of the Week by Michael Sands. Monster of the Week is copyrighted by Evil Hat Productions, LLC and Generic Games.

Monster of the Week Author Michael Sands Cuts Indie Writers a Break.

I was blessed to receive an email from the author himself! Squee! He was kind enough to drop the link for his official policy, too. And the icing on the cake- the best news out of all of this- the policy is practically idiot proof.

Okay, this isn’t breaking news for some, but it’s cool to me.

I emailed Evil Hat Studios because I was curious about possibly publishing a season or two of Monster of the Week RPG on DriveThruRPG. I’ve seen other material for MotW on there and thought it might be cool. So, as a somewhat responsible writer, I started poking around and asking questions. I wasn’t finding a ton of stuff, so I emailed Evil Hat directly.

What I got was a response from Sean Nittner saying my request would be forwarded to Michael Sands. It’s not impossible, but it’s unusual to be placed in touch with an actual author. I almost fainted.

Turns out, Michael Sands has this great website.

I’m dropping the link to Generic Games here: https://genericgames.co.nz/

I’m also excited about Codex of Worlds for MotW now.

I was blessed to receive an email from the author himself! Squee! He was kind enough to drop the link for his official policy, too. And the icing on the cake- the best news out of all of this- the policy is practically idiot proof.

This policy is instinctual. It’s stuff I would do anyway. And it’s simple. I wish every game company would be cool like this. There aren’t pages of “Must Include” OGL documentation, legalese and corporate butt-kissing that has to go into everything.

THANK YOU MICHAEL SANDS!!!

Michael Sands ROCKS! All kinds of love for MotW!

The link to the official policy is here: https://genericgames.co.nz/third_party_policy/

Personal Note: I got an email from the author himself. Squeee!

Hearing from authors turns me into a drooling fanboy pretty fast. I appreciate it!

I have to say, it wasn’t long. It wasn’t super personal. But it always blows my mind when I hear directly from an author. All the fun of getting an autograph without the need for a restraining order against me. 😜 (j/k!)

I’ve heard back from other RPG authors over the years, and it always makes my day. Maybe in this era of Internet interactions, it’s easier. Maybe it’s because I can’t get out to go to conventions these days (and I live in Iowa where conventions are few and far between.) Someday I hope to get out to run games, shmooze, and go to seminars again a convention.

Still, please give Michael some support where/when possible. He’s one of the good ones! Thank you again for getting back to me, Michael.

I hope June is a happy and prosperous month ahead for everyone. Thanks for being here. I appreciate you!

Power Rangers RPG Threat: Voltrix.

Voltrix is Slayn’s last attempt to destroy the Rangers before having to answer to the rest of the Triumvirate for his failures.

Power Rangers Lighting Force faces a new, scary electrifying new lieutenant. First Appearance.

Voltrix 1.0. She’ll be back if destroyed. Bwah ha ha!
Art by Jeff Craigmile.

Voltrix 1.0 (Normal)
THREAT LEVEL: 7
SIZE: LARGE | HEALTH: 9
TOUGHNESS: 13 | EVASION: 17
WILLPOWER: 17 | CLEVERNESS: 13
GROUND MOVEMENT: 30 ft. | FLY: 60 ft.
Voltrix is one of Slayn’s top lieutenants. She has been sent to defeat the Rangers at all costs. A clever and cunning opponent, she will refuse to stay down no matter how many times she is defeated.
SKILLS:
Might- Martial Arts (Electro Trident) +d6
Initiative: +d6
Targeting* Lightning Blasts: +d8
Alertness: +d8
Physics (Electricity) +d6
Persuasion: +d6
Languages: Putty, English
PERKS:
Storm Flight: Voltrix constantly floats approximately one foot above the ground at all times. She will float even if knocked down. Her wings give her exceptional flight (60′)
Resistance: Sharp.
ATTACKS:
Lightning Bolt: Targeting +d10* Twice per round Voltrix can throw a Lightning Bolt 30’/200′ (Evasion, 3 Electrical.) If it hits successfully, all targets within 15′ of the primary target may also be hit for 1 Electrical based off the same hit roll as the original.

Lightning Blast: Targeting +d10* Instead of 2 lightning bolts or Trident attacks, Voltrix can channel her electrical charge into a cone of lightning 60′ long by 30′ wide at the base. (Evasion. 2 Electrical.)

Electro Trident: Might (Martial Arts) +d8 May attack twice per round OR 1 Trident strike + 1 Lightning Bolt. Trident does (Reach, 2 Electrical.)

POWERS:
Summon 3d6 Storm Putties (Stats as Z Putty Patrollers.)

Storm Rage: Once per scene Voltrix can unleash a devastating electrical tornado Large Base Evasion Electrical 3 under Voltrix’s direct control for 3 rounds. Movement 40’/round.

Drain Electrical Sources: Voltrix may heal 1 Health per turn from a high powered electrical source such as high tension power lines, breaker boxes, voltage transformers, etc.

Dissipate: At 1 Health Voltrix will dissipate into a cloud of electricity and become intangible. She can reform after 9 days at full health.

Hang-Ups:
If Voltrix can be knocked to the ground, she loses 1 Health per turn until she is back in the air.

Likewise if she can be caged by metal or gets too close to a large conductive surface (Copper, Gold, etc) she will be stunned while in contact.


RPG Systems for a New Star Wars Game?

May Fourth’s article got me thinking…

Edge Games recently announced they are reprinting the some of the FFG Star Wars. Personally, I’d like to see a new system or a reprint of one of the classic systems. You can read the ENWorld article here.

If I were to design a new Star Wars RPG based on an existing system, what would I use? What would catch the cinematic feel of Star Wars? What is the best Space Opera emulator out there?

Several systems came to mind and none of them were D&D 5E. The first thing I thought of, oddly enough, is Renegade’s Essence20 System. The second system I considered was FATE from Evil Hat. I’m fairly predictable choosing Index Card RPG. And last, I thought about dropping all pretenses and going back to an old school D6 system. (*You know us Old Grognards…)

Essence20 from Renegade Studios is a joy to work with.

I think this would be an easy catch for Star Wars as an RPG.

It’s new, but loveable. I’m still not sure about any kind of open licensing status for this game, and someone really should address that. (Hint-hint Renegade.) It’s a simple, flexible, easy to adapt, and uses a familiar system (D20.) If it can be customized from Power Rangers to GI Joe and then Transformers, Star Wars can’t be that difficult of a stretch.

The only thing I think Renegade would probably struggle with is the massive volume of sourcebooks that inevitably comes with Star Wars. Thus far their track record with creating sourcebooks has been pretty skimpy. Renegade has a LOT of irons in the proverbial fire right now. That’s why I say an OGL for Essence20 would have to be in order. The system could get the job done.

FATE Star Wars. That could be a thing.

Reimagine this with Han, Mace Windu and Chewbacca? FATE Star Wars!

This game system is pretty much made for Star Wars! The narrative style of combat would take a lot of the extra crunch out of the game, which is great for some. It would make Jedi and Sith feel way more epic with their major abilities to cut down entire squads of droids or duel for several minutes without losing a limb. Massive fleet sized space battles and land wars between droid armies and Gungans would be easy without a lot of rules tweaks. I also think FATE captures the cinematic feel of Star Wars and put the characters at the center of their Universe.

All it would take for this wacky scheme to become a reality is for Edge (or whomever is doing the next Star Wars) to Reach out to Evil Hat Studios and offer a collaboration. FATE Space is already a thing and it’s really not hard to believe that the folks at Evil Hat would gladly hook up with one of the single largest franchises in movie/rpg history. How cool would that be?

The Old Grognard in me can’t resist saying it.

Why not?

I’m a sucker for the original. I’ve spent so many hours running and planning for games under the old WEG D6 system, it’s not even funny. My copies of this are very well-loved, maybe even worn out. I love this game so much.

If someone were to convince Disney/Lucasfilm to do a new version of the RPG, please bring back the old system with it. This game did everything you would want the Star Wars RPG to do and then some. It also underwent several revisions over the years and was very streamlined for gameplay. Not to mention the number of old school RPG fans that would come out of the woodwork to teach new gamers how to play this system. It takes less time to make a character than D&D and jump right into the action within minutes of sitting down. What’s old would truly be new again.

I found a great link to the past here thanks to @MikeRJArsenault on Twitter.

I have some outstanding honorable mentions.

Index Card RPG would be a logical choice for Star Wars RPG and I’m sure Runehammer wouldn’t mind. Look at Warp Shell. ICRPG also uses more theatre of the mind style combat and would fit the cinematic feel of Star Wars. Plus d12s. I mean, that’s good, right?

I could see someone trying to use Powered by the Apocalypse, but I strongly urge them not to ever do so. The sheer number of playbooks needed to emulate Star Wars properly would be staggering. I’m still trying to fully wrap my head around being a Keeper for MotW and I just think it would make for a very ugly, awkward Star Wars game. Maybe I’m wrong? You experiences may vary.

I’d also offer up Cortex RPG, a generic system with tons of potential for a good sci-fi anchor. A version of I think it’s highly underrated. I’d also mention the slightly crunchier What’s Old Is New game N.E.W. It’s already got a space game attached, an emulation of Aliens. Either system would be a great fit.

Last, I know Star Wars 5E is already a thing. Yes, using the world’s most well-known and beloved RPG does work for Star Wars. As the proud owner of multiple editions of the Star Wars D20 franchise I can attest to it working quite well. It’s good. My only trepidation is 5E is going to become 5.5 or 6E in about a year and a half? What happens to all of the numerous derivatives when the edition rolls over?

Nobody wants to play the waiting game. We want new Star Wars next week! or now? Sometime in the near future?

But seriously, unless someone puts up an unofficial, unlicensed conversion taking many hours of work as strictly a labor of love, we’re probably not getting a shiny new Star Wars RPG any time soon. Incredibly, conversions involving some of the rules sets listed above are already in use. Dear Disney, please for the love of Walt just volunteer someone to make a new official Star Wars RPG?

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you every day for being here in this space. Have a great weekend!

Note of Gratitude and Congratulations!

Congratulations to April Kit Walsh, Whitney Delagio, Dominique Dickey, Jonaya Kemper, Alexis Sara, and Rae Nedjadi and the folx at Evil Hat Productions! Their game, Thirsty Sword Lesbians became the first RPG to win a Nebula Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Holy buckets! Is this awesome or what?

A member of the gaming community recently hit it big.

Congratulations to April Kit Walsh, Whitney Delagio, Dominique Dickey, Jonaya Kemper, Alexis Sara, and Rae Nedjadi and the folx at Evil Hat Productions! Their game, Thirsty Sword Lesbians became the first RPG to win a Nebula Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Holy buckets! Is this awesome or what?

Nebula Award for Thirsty Sword Lesbians. Neat!

I think this is going to put Evil Hat on the map even more than before.

Thirsty Sword Lesbians RPG.

One thing I will say about Evil Hat Productions is they seem to really know how to pick them. FATE RPG is an amazing game with several successful spin offs/settings. Monster of the Week by Michael Sands is outstanding in the horror RPG genre as well as being an amazing game in its own right. Now, Thirsty Sword Lesbians by April Kit Walsh has hit big on several fronts. The good times are rolling for our friends at Evil Hat.

There are a couple of things that really stand out about this award as an event in the RPG community that I want to discuss. Aside from one of “our” own, (ours as in an RPG writer) making some headlines, I think it’s great that it’s not one of the big names in gaming for a change. It’s also remarkable to be recognized outside of the usual RPG industry awards such as Origins, ENnies, or Gen Con. Finally, this game uses Powered by the Apocalypse (*Apocalypse World Engine) as its core rules. I’ve been critical of any game using PbtA in the past, but my mind is changing fast.

Confession, I haven’t played this game yet.

Honestly, as much as I uh, love lesbians, I’m still a guy. That’s not to disrespect the gay community. A couple of my best friends are lesbians. Before anyone starts blasting this “Old Grognard” in the RPG community, let’s be clear- I fully support and encourage members of the LGBTQIA++ community. I honestly admire the fact that Thirsty Sword Lesbians was chosen over other industry notables such as D&D, Pathfinder, Star Wars RPG, Savage Worlds, and others.

That’s actually the first thing about this particular award that blows my mind. There have literally been decades of RPGs out there that could have been chosen in years past. I sincerely hope the marketing people at Hasbro had kittens when they found out about this. A little “indie” game did something D&D has never accomplished. Critical Role hasn’t even broken some of these barriers yet. Woot!

I think the rest of the RPG industry should be taking notes over what has been done here.

For any RPG to win an award outside of the usual circles is truly fantastic!

I used to be critical of PbtA. Then I was introduced to Monster of the Week RPG. After making four or five characters, I’m really liking the simplicity of character creation and the playbook style. It’s especially easy on new players. It lays out what characters can do well and helps build backstory in a few easy steps.

Usually one would expect an RPG to be given an award at some event such as Origins, Gen Con, or EN World. (love the ENnies!) For the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America to take notice? Thirsty Sword Lesbians must be a truly outstanding game. Whatever awards this games wins going forward, let’s consider this Nebula Award to be a good step in success.

Like I have pointed out here on my blog before, other Evil Hat games are pretty remarkable in their own right. I think part of what sets Thirsty Sword Lesbians apart is the subject matter. Fabulous art and talented writing help quite a bit, too. Again, I am grateful and really admire what this game has accomplished. Keep up the good work!

I hope someday I manage to put out an RPG product that makes money, wins awards, and raises awareness. I really admire what has been done here. I’m happy and grateful that members of the RPG family are being acknowledged for their hard work.

Congratulations again, Thirsty Sword Lesbians!

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Take care.

Please be kind to one another!

D12 Tables

1d12 is my go-to die for random tables in just about every campaign, every system.

I could make a 1d12 table of 1d12 tables I want to make.

That’s how much fun they are. I won’t bore you with that one here, but it could be done. I make d12 tables a lot for just about every game.

I make 1d12 tables for a lot of odd random things as a DM, though. They add all kinds of spicy goodness to bland encounters. They work for weather, travel, global events, some NPC attitudes, and of course, random monster encounters. I know I’m old school, but I still believe in the old wandering monster table. Because maybe the troll down the hall decides to go for a stroll about the time the party thinks they’re going to rest. Bwah ha ha! Rolled an 11. Meet the troll.

I think the d12 is the most underrated dice in any game, except ICRPG. Yay! I suppose they’re good in SWADE and EGS, too if I remember right. But D&D and Pathfinder are very reserved in their use of the d12. My solution is to use them for any and every thing I can think of. I carry the things for fun every day. Really.

My players have called me out on it in the past. I have a pattern for most of my tables. You can probably guess the pattern. 1’s are, of course going to be catastrophically bad or unwanted news. 12’s are, naturally, something favorable or at least more favorable. 2-3 are usually something unwanted but not scary bad. 10-11 are usually the pretty good end of whatever the table is. Everything else is likely meaningful but random. I’ve done more random variants, but that’s the gist.

I have more d12s in my bag than d20s.

Let me throw down a sample:

Roll 1d12. Average Night at the Stable:

  1. The stable catches fire! If the group has mounts there, the animals are in danger! One of the stable hands running into the inn a major panic to get help and save the animals.
  2. Horse thieves! Choose a random party member who had a mount in the stables. Their mount is now missing.
  3. Oops. The stable boy accidentally left the stall door open when he was cleaning. Choose a random party member. Their mount is now out wandering around somewhere.
  4. Asleep on the job. Stable keeper accidentally loaned one of the characters’ mounts out to a local merchant. The animal is treated well, but won’t be in the stable until the next night.
  5. Where did they find this kid? The stable boy decided to ignore his chores. The animals are not fed or watered, and stalls are not cleaned out. This will lead to somewhat moody, fatigued, smelly mounts the next day.
  6. All is well. The stable keeper feeds the all of the animals a treat! Unfortunately, it doesn’t agree with one of the mount’s tummies the next day. (Choose a random mount.)
  7. All of the mounts are well fed, well treated, and are ready for action the next day.
  8. The stable keeper notices an issue with a horse shoe and takes care of it, free of charge. He lets the group know the next morning.
  9. The stable keeper chases off a predator outside the stable. He lets the group know about it in the morning. One of the characters’ mounts is still skittish. The stable keeper will offer to loan out his personal thoroughbred for free if desired.
  10. The mounts are well-loved. They receive a +1 discretionary bonus to any one given roll during the day.
  11. What’s in that feed? Whatever the stable keeper fed the mounts, is working very well. The group receives an Advantage on any ONE given roll related to travel or the mounts.
  12. Holy buckets! The mounts are well fed, loved and ready to go! ALL mounts gain a +1 discretionary bonus and Advantage on one travel/mount related roll. They will also automatically pass the first morale roll within 24 hours automatically! The mounts are happy.

Competition Dungeon Crawls?

I’ll be the first person to tell you I’m not a competitive person by nature. There’s plenty to go around in the world as far as I’m concerned. I love me. I have nothing to prove gaming or anywhere in life, really.

Is that still a thing?

Geez! It’s still a thing!

I was poking around recently under Dungeon Crawl Classics and I noticed something peculiar. I know I’m an Old Grognard and a hermit by nature, so maybe it’s just my living under a rock, but… Are people still doing competition dungeon crawls?

I’m just kinda scratching my head on this one. Maybe it’s just enough before my time that we never got into it? Or maybe because I grew up in backwater middle-of-nowhere IA where we just didn’t have the “big” conventions or fancy gaming stores. I dunno.

Brief history lesson incoming.

It’s the Internet. I’m sure there’s more to this story. Lol!

Back in the day, as I understand it, when Gygax and Arneson were first starting out, RPGs grew out of miniatures wargaming. For those who may not be familiar, miniatures wargames are known for tournament competition. Well, somewhere in those early days, someone decided that hacking, slashing, spell-throwing and in-game thievery needed to be a tournament, too.

It’s important to remember that competitive roleplaying is not the same as pvp. It’s more of our party at our table vs some other party at another table running the same dungeon. It’s kind of mind boggling if you think about it. Almost like an alternate reality. Sorry, my urge to insert plots and story gets the best of me.

I remember the glory days of the RPGA. A lot of the things we still do in RPGs today are based around some of their tournament concepts. We still run in 4 hour blocks, especially at conventions. DMs are handed premade modules. A certain degree of table etiquette and decorum is still expected at conventions. Heck, even some of the modules being reprinted now were spawned back in those old RPGA Tournament days.

Surprisingly, some of the earliest and most popular modules that still stand the test of time were tournament modules at Gen Con. In fact, entire series of BECMI modules were based on/used at tournaments. Needless to say D&D has mutated considerably since then. I’m sure someone somewhere is probably still trying to D&D competitively even though the rules and the atmosphere of the game have changed completely.

My heart literally goes out to anyone brave enough to act as a “judge” for one of these tournaments.

It honestly still kinda blows my mind. Wargaming judges have it easy when it comes to being impartial. A rule is a rule. Rulers and tape measures don’t lie. Things are either painted or they’re not… It’s straightforward.

But a dungeon crawl? Oof. I honestly don’t think you could pay me enough to referee what could go very sour at any given moment. People go bonkers over the smallest detail on a regular day running a regular adventure. If you put the time and score elements on that? Eeek! No thank you.

Surprise of surprises. It’s still a thing.

Teamwork makes the dream work.

I checked Goodman Games’ website and sure enough, people are still doing tournaments. I am stunned. I would have thought such a thing would have died out ages ago. DCC is better structured for such a thing, I guess.

There’s a neat game called X Crawl that I played years ago. We were actually in a tournament, but it was very beer-n-pretzels, tongue-in-cheek style gaming. My group had a blast with it. We got beat out by a couple of other tables because we ran a little short of finishing the module. Probably because we were all rolling on the floor laughing for half of it. I promise most of us were even sober.

X Crawl is basically competition dungeon bashing. The conditions are more controlled to keep the different parties on an even keel. The loot, traps, monsters, room positions, and riddles are the same at every table. Time, party cohesion, combat survival, loot collected, rooms discovered, etc all play into your party’s score at the end. It gets kind of intense.

It was fun to try out, but I don’t think I could run one.

I’ll be the first person to tell you I’m not a competitive person by nature. There’s plenty to go around in the world as far as I’m concerned. I love me. I have nothing to prove gaming or anywhere in life, really.

As I like to say, if it’s your jam, that’s great. Please, go out and do it. Have fun.

All I’m saying is, it’s never been a “sport” I care to participate in. I’m interested in challenging myself to write such a module to see how it goes. It’s interesting as a writing challenge. I’ll probably circle back around to that sometime. Could be fun. The biggest hurdle I see is keeping it objective.

As always, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you!

(*I made it through an Old Grognard article without poking fun at Critical Role or Matt Mercer. I’m behaving, honest.)

Anime RPG is Mindset as Much as Ruleset.

My point is, you can slip a little of that anime flair into just about anything. Ask my college writing professors. It can be done. (*Pretty sure one of them retired early. I’m not saying it was my fault, but…)

With Dyskami dropping Anime 5E on us around June 1, it’s time to briefly discuss Anime as attitude and game system.

Dyskami Anime 5E

Btw, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, I’m a bit biased toward this particular genre and anything Big Eyes, Small Mouth in general and have been for many years. I actually had the privilege of going to a Gen Con seminar with Mark MacKinnon all those years ago. I learned a lot about RPGs in general and anime/manga games in particular. I also think Lemmings in Space would be a hilarious but short-lived RPG. Mark and the team at Dyskami have delivered a wonderful new spin on this genre, attitude and rules.

*Note, if fantasy is less your jam and you want more cyberpunk/mecha/space anime action, I highly recommend BESM Fourth Edition from Dyskami. Anime 5E is very much fantasy genre oriented, being based on the 5E D&D rules. All of the races, classes, monsters, magic and other tropes are based around fantasy stuff.

But enough shameless promotion, on with the show!

Just as a writer can pick up different tones and perspectives while writing, RPGs can come with differing attitudes for GMs and players. If a writer is working on a horror novel, for example, the tone might be dark, gritty, and have almost a feeling of hopelessness hanging in the air. Where as a horror RPG might have rules for insanity; penalties for PCs casting dark, creepy ritual spells; and foreboding, unfathomable, undefeatable old gods and monsters.

What does one think of when we hear the term “anime” or “manga?” It’s a pretty broad genre. Japanese animation and comics cover a pretty large spectrum of subgenres such as horror, science fiction, fantasy and cyberpunk to name a few. Personally I think of giant robots and cyborgs followed by high flying fantasy martial arts and determined samurai. It’s a different flavor of roleplaying gaming all together.

If it’s an attitude, won’t any old RPG system work?

The short answer to this is: I guess. Mileage may vary.
The long, complicated answer is: Nope. Don’t do it. You’re trying to force a square peg into a triangular hole. There’s an easier way.

I love a lot of basic European style medieval fantasy RPGs. Pathfinder 2E, D&D, ICRPG, DCC, and dozens more. Orcs, elves, dragons and labyrinthine death dungeons are the order of the day for me. Good stuff. I can certainly approach those with the anime/manga mindframe. But, then the rules fall a lot short of the mark.

How do you pull off a 50′ anime character leap while wielding a Bisento as an unarmored samurai? How do we set the scene for a brief chibi moment during a long rest? What do you mean I can’t play a cat girl ninja? It’s just not in the rules. (In fairness, I did stat out cat folk and ninjas for ICRPG, but…) If you want anime rules for a “classic” game, it’s going to end up being heavily homebrewed.

If I’ve learned anything from being a GM/writer over the years, it’s don’t try to reinvent the wheel. If someone else has done the legwork for you in terms of an RPG system, by all means- beg, borrow, or steal as much as you can for your game. If another system does something better than the one you’re currently using it’s not like you’re married. Switch to what works or adapt bits as needed. If that means switching to a new ruleset, then by all means.

The question is always how far to go.

If your D&D game is running just fine with a few anime moments, then maybe stick to D&D proper. If you’re just borrowing a few tropes here and there with the Monk, Fighter (Samurai) and Rogue (Ninja) characters and the players are cool, stick with it. Maybe the characters yell a lot. There are some chibi character moments that don’t detract. Dragons are worshipped as gods in the campaign setting. Certain weapons and armor are re-skinned. Maybe add some homebrew rules for unarmored defense?

OR- things are crazy overly stiff an rule dependent and you’re dying to be able to do more cool stuff. Try an actual anime RPG and setting! As a GM, boot whatever seems too outrageous or unreasonable. It’s still your game!

The main thing is do what you, as a GM, and the players will have the most fun with. Typical fantasy settings don’t do mecha and/or firearms at all. Anime games have to such restrictions depending on the GM. Giant leaps are very possible in anime. Ninjas are more Naruto and Ninja Scroll than historical black pajama party. Stuff blows up more in anime games. Trust me.

Complicated Relationship Table.

Another advantage to anime games is the amount of character drama. I once drew a very complicated flow chart for myself to map out all of the very complicated relationships in an anime supers game I was working on. This person has a crush on this person, but is secretly liked by this other person who they want nothing to do with and so on. It ate a couple of entire pages of my notebook and looked like one of those crazy conspiracy theory board memes by the time I was done. It ended up being useful for dealing with specific character interactions, though. It made for a fun game, despite over 20 pages of NPC backstories. I might have overdone it a little.

Anime fits in with so many other tropes and themes.

SCS mecha by Zsolt Varga is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Anime does very well with several subgenres either as a separate game or as part of a preexisting one. Many anime videos exemplify this.

Horror- easy. I’m sorry, have you seen some of the scarier anime? Eesh. I don’t want to give video examples. Just… it’s the internet. Feel free to explore, okay?

Supers- Sentai, giant robots, psychic cops even four color heroes. Again, it’s an easy catch. Power Rangers, Patlabor, Witch Hunter Robin and Tiger & Bunny are great examples of video anime supers. In fairness, I have to mention Sailor Moon, which is the premiere magical girl supers anime. It’s also one of the older anime RPGs.

Fantasy- Such a broad category by itself. Fantasy anime covers things such as Record of the Lodoss Wars. (Fantasy anime emulating a fantasy rpg emulating Tolkien. Mind bending.) Ninja Scroll is serious fantasy anime, and brutal. Rurouni Kenshin is great fantasy samurai anime. One of my personal favorites, which is also sorta shoujo, Inu Yasha makes for amazing rpg fodder. I also highly recommend Princess Mononoke. I should also mention Full Metal Alchemist, too. Again, they’re all fantasy anime, each with its own unique angle.

Mecha and cyberpunk are more or less ready made for anime games. These two subgenres pretty much started out as anime. Masamune Shirow was a pioneer in both genres with Appleseed, Dominion Tank Police, Black Magic M-66, and Ghost in the Shell. Mecha anime would not be complete without a mention of Macross/Robotech just to start. I should also mention Gundam in all of the many series on video. There are a lot of other cyberpunk anime on video, many are ultra violent in nature. Likewise, I’ve barely scratched the surface of mecha anime on video. The RPG potential is almost unfathomably deep for both subgenres.

Action- Last is all of the action anime. This would work with any modern type RPG. It could be martial arts, detectives, pirates, demon hunters, or any other number of action tropes. There are more anime video examples than I could list. I would recommend Gunsmith Cats if you get a chance.

I realized I barely dove into inspirational videos.

Anime 5E Magical Cat Girl

I’m probably going to write more articles in the coming weeks/months about anime RPGs. I didn’t even mention many of the anime I’ve taken inspiration from over the years.

I’m a huge fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion, but I’m not sure how it would float as an RPG? I’d also recommend Big O and Giant Robo as both mecha and superhero anime. There’s also A.D. Police Files, Bubblegum Crisis and Bubblegum Crash. These series were all a mix of police, mecha, supers, and cyberpunk anime with a tiny bit of psychic stuff thrown in. Last, Starfinder fans especially would benefit from watching Iria: Zeiram the Animation.

Like many otaku, I could go on for hours mentioning tasty videos to watch. Bringing character concepts and tropes over to RPGs is a subject to approach with your GM. Likewise, GMs probably shouldn’t expect players to just jump blindly into an anime series if it’s not what they’re expecting.

More, much more to come. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Thanks.

Tales of the Des Moines Remote Viewing Society (MotW TPG)

This is some of the backstory for my MotW RPG campaign. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is unintentional. This is a work of fiction.

Disclaimer: This is a fictional organization.

From the notes of Brenda Hart, Secretary of the Des Moines Remote Viewing Society:

Aug 3, 2016: Making it official tonight. Dan, Tom and I are going to start looking into the odd phenomena occurring here in Des Moines. I’m new here, only having moved from Colorado a few short years ago after my husband died. Ironic that I’m the one with the most experience in the field and the only trained remote viewer of the bunch.

Dan is our resident parapsychologist and tech guru. We wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for him and his website, The Midwest Monitor. He lives here in Des Moines and has seen a lot of strange things, more as of late. Most of his journals are on video in one form or another going back to the early 1990’s. He’s done a lot of investigations of local haunted houses.

If Dan is our parapsych and tech guy, Tom Ross is the exact opposite. He’s our resident spiritually conscious conspiracy guy. His intuition has led us to the tunnel network. (More on that later.) He’s also convinced Des Moines, IA is a popular stop on the extraterrestrial superhighway and a visitors center for the Reptiloid population. He also things a lot of the local happenings are eyeballs deep in the Illuminati, Freemasons, Nosferatu, shadow government, demons, Men in Black and so on. Tom’s notes are regularly mailed to my address as additional proof along with copies sent to friends, relatives and a random PO Box.

We have an unofficial fourth member named Lewis. He’s strictly on the Internet and goes by Big Lou 42 on most things. He’s a nice guy, but a lot secretive. I think he might be former government or a shadow corp employee turned whistleblower. He doesn’t live here, but he sure knows a lot about DsM. We have other internet friends, most live in BFN Iowa, MO, or MN. The local MUFON folks know we’re around, too. Dan used to be a member.

Tonight’s meeting was very informal. We met at Dan Miller’s house for pizza. It was our way of getting to know each other. Dan recently caught onto some sketchy activity in the cemetery over by the State Fairgrounds. It happens every year when the Fair crowd starts coming around.

Some teenagers were out partying near the cemetery when they saw some strange lights and bizarre fireworks coming from within the graveyard. They may have been drunk. They might not be credible. But I did manage to dig up some old newspaper files from the 1970’s and early 80’s of similar sightings.

In 1993 four college kids attempted to hold a seance in the middle of the night with a Ouija board. A week later, one of the teens died of an apparent suicide, two in a car accident, and the fourth went missing a few short years after college having been hospitalized in a mental institution suffering from multiple delusions and a nervous breakdown.

This year we’re going to do a very passive stakeout with cameras, trail cams and night vision gear mostly off the premises. If things look promising, we might move closer in toward the last nights of the Fair or after it’s all over. I’m going to do a reading three nights into the stakeout to see if I can determine where the disturbance might be coming from.

Tom says he has a lead on a bunch of activity near the cemetery in Pleasant Hill. That’s probably going to be the next destination just because of the close proximity and similar reports. Should be creepy fun.

-End of Entry.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Have a great week. See ya soon!

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