Friday, May 27, 2011

New Blogs Added to the Blog Roll

Since I've been on somewhat of a Gamma World kick lately, I thought I'd check out some blogs that are specifically dedicated to post-apocalyptic gaming.  I found three (so far) that I've added to the blog roll.  

  • Gamma Rites: This site is dedicated to 1st and 2nd Edition Gamma World, which is right up my alley because they're the only two editions of the game I've ever actually played.  He doesn't update it often, but there's some really great stuff on here.  He's got campaign ideas, skill system options, background archetypes, and other info.  
  • The Savage Afterworld: This site bills itself as presenting "adventures, creatures, artifacts, mutations, and discussion for Goblinoid Games' Mutant Future RPG as well as other Science Fantasy games in a post-apocalyptic future."  Personally, I like it because he's done a full-on conversion of "Thundarr the Barbarian" for Mutant Future. SOLD!  
  • Gamma World War: This is a really fun site that I just discovered about 30 minutes ago, but that I can already tell I'm going to enjoy.  The premise here is that in a far future, post-apocalyptic earth, the last surviving pure humans battle against mutants for supremacy of the Earth.  Just as things are at the worst, however, there's an alien invasion and the humans and mutants have to band together to defend their planet.  It just seems like a lot of creative and goofy fun.

I'm thinking of actually creating a new blog-roll category for post-apocalyptic RPG bloggers just to make it easier to find what people are looking for.  I know some of my players really aren't into post-apocalyptic gaming for some reason.  :)

And just so fantasy gamers don't feel left out, I've also added Gothridge Manor to the blog roll.  This is a straight-up Old-School blog by Tim Shorts, author of the One-Shot Adventure Series modules.  

You should definitely check these blogs out.  I've found tons of cool ideas that I can use in future campaigns.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Amateur RPG Design: Atlantis City

© 1983 John Stireman III

A few months ago, I wrote about the first RPG I tried to design shortly after I’d been exposed to the world of Dungeons & Dragons.  That particular game, Quest, was created for a school project and was, sadly, extremely lacking in any kind of cohesion or actionable rules.  It was the kind of game that only a precocious 7th grader who barely knew any of the actual D&D rules would try to create only because he was so excited about the concept of RPGs.  For all its faults, though, Quest was, in its own way, a “complete” set of rules.  It had a cover, a table of contents, and basic sketch of rules, including a sample adventure.

My second attempt at designing an RPG, when I was a more seasoned 8th grader, was a much more serious endeavor, but sadly it was never finished.  It marked the beginning of a trend that continues for me to this day.  I always find that I much prefer thinking about, researching, and “noodling” with RPG ideas than I do actually writing them down and committing them to paper.  Even as we speak, I’ve got three other ideas for games and campaign settings rattling around in my head.  I’ve made notes for them in my notebook, even done some research online to come up with rules modifications, and started sketching out backgrounds and characters.  What I should be doing, though, is getting ready for next week’s World of Samoth game.  I suppose I’ll get around to it on the day before our session.  I guess people these days refer to it as “Gamer ADD.”

Anyway, my second RPG was called by the very poorly chosen name of “Atlantis City.”  I still have a stack of notes tucked away in my “game design file box” in my office, and I dug it out just to see how bad it was.  And believe me, it was as bad as a game designed by a 13 year old could be. 

The game was billed as “…a Science Fantasy Underwater Roll-Playing [sic] game.”  I re-wrote that particular passage at least five times from what I could find, along with a section on “how to use the dice” and a table of contents that was mostly blank with place-holders.  I had a very bad tendency back then of re-writing everything I’d already done to try to make it look nicer.  Again, this was in the days before everyone had a computer, so this was all hand-written.  I’ve got about 150 pages of hand-written pages for this game, but about 60 of them are actually just repeats of the same thing over and over.  I even drew a little sketch of the dice, based on the picture in the Moldvay D&D Basic rulebook.  I patterned the entire game off of the presentation in Moldvay Basic, but I also clearly had been exposed to 1st Edition Gamma World by this point since the label for the game of “Science Fantasy” was something I can tell I copied from GW. 

There’s really not too much to say about the game rules themselves.  It was for the most part a direct translation of D&D, so what I was really doing, in retrospect, was creating a campaign setting, or a “rules modification” of Basic D&D to fit a more futuristic setting.  The premise, from what I can glean from skimming my notes, was that in the future, Earth was being destroyed on the surface for some reason. Shortly thereafter, the surface-dwelling countries somehow find Atlantis and its inhabitants, and adventures ensue therefrom. 

The classes and races seemed to change with each “edition” (ha!) that I wrote, but many of the basics stayed the same.  The game was a class-and-level system with no skills.  Like D&D, I even used level titles, partly because way back then, I really liked them, even though I didn’t ever use them in play.  The basic classes consisted of Fighter, Scout (a fighter subclass), Buccaneer (a fighter subclass), Burglar, Magician (later changed to Clairvoyant, and then finally to the more futuristic Psychic), Sailor, Technician (a sailor subclass, which eventually I deleted), and Marine (a “new” sailor sub-class that showed up in the last version I worked on before giving up).  Also like Basic D&D, I had a “race as class” section, but oddly I divided the races up into different classes.  So, there were sea-elves, but you could play a Sea-Elf Fighter (a separate class) or a Sea-Elf Buccaneer (another separate class).  Both had completely different level titles and experience point progressions.  I also created a new race I called “Finams”, which were short 3 ½ feet tall humanoids with webbed fingers and toes.  They were their own race-class, acting as fighters but with a few more special abilities (like underwater breathing) and a level limit.  Later, I added a bunch of other races, namely the Shape Changers (listed at the end of the section on classes because they were “so powerful” and a games master might not allow them), and the Water Lords, which I gather from trying to read my notes were basically the Atlanteans.  Near the very end of the time I worked on the game, I added an Explorer class.  Each new class got more and more special abilities, with no concerns for balance.  Explorers were given a huge sum of starting “gold nuggets” based on the assumption that they had been exploring for awhile and were already successful at finding hidden treasure.  Marines were given a good selection of modern weapons and training in how to disable bombs (?) from “The United States Government.” 

There’s no explanation why sea-elves would suddenly appear in the future, and why, if there are “sea elves”, there aren’t any other kind of elves.  Thinking on it now, I can come up with a variety of reasons, but back then, that didn’t concern me.  Elves were cool, so I wanted to have elves.  Laser guns were cool, so I wanted to have those, too.  Laser-sharking?  Yeah, probably.  But, I was 13!

I made a homemade character sheet (again, all hand-written) that mentions the following character stats: Class, Behavior, Level, Armor Protection, Energy Points (e.g., HP), Physical Strength, Mental Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity, Endurance, Charisma, Ego, Gun Accuracy, Power Points (i.e., XP), Special Abilities, Special Skills (spells, burglar abilities, etc.), Endurance Saves (later changed to the simpler term “Resistance”) against Drowning, Spells, Fire, Wands/Staves, Poison, and Paralyzation.  There’s also a little chart showing what you need to roll “to hit” in order to attack different AP (Armor Protection) numbers.  Like Basic D&D, I used a system of descending armor values.

The equipment list is almost exactly like Gamma World, but with magic weapons thrown in for good measure.  It’s a mixture of swords, battle axes, laser guns, machine guns, ice bows, grenades... anything you’d want. 

The setting never was fully fleshed out beyond the simple idea of “explore the undersea ‘city’ of Atlantis.”  I never wrote down whether the Atlanteans were good, evil, or indifferent, and what the point of a long-term campaign could be.  It took place in the future, but not far enough that our current governments didn’t exist, given the reference I made to the US government training the Marine class in its class abilities. 

Really the only cool thing to come out of all of this mess was some pictures that my friend John created for me, which I included at the top of the post.  I’ve posted some of his drawings before.  This was just the kind of guy John was – he loved to draw and if something inspired him, he’d do a whole set of drawings and then just give them to you.  You can actually see on this one where he wrote, “For your game?” and I wrote back with “YES.”  This would have been a “note” that we passed back and forth during class.  I remember after I said “YES” he finished the drawings and cleaned them up a little bit before passing it back to me.  To us, this seemed much more important than Spelling class. 

I still remember having conversations with John where I acted the part of the dorky and über-excited gamer who talks at length about his game or character, and John making fun of me but at least listening to what I had to say and even offering ideas to make it better. 

Despite all of the time and effort I put into the game, it eventually faded away from my memory to just be filed away in a green hanging file folder, with the pages yellowing and paper-clips creating rust-shaped patterns over words written with my poor adolescent penmanship.  

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Design Decisions: Dark Elves

I just posted information on another race for my World of Samoth campaign.  This time it's for the Wraith Elves, which I guess you could say is my campaign's version of dark elves.

When I started creating the World of Samoth back in the mid-1980s, I originally had regular old straight-up drow, based on their appearance in the G-D-Q series of modules and their write-up in the Fiend Folio.  My perception of the drow was much more in line with a "Greyhawkian" vision and not that of the Forgotten Realms, which was brand new at that time, only having been exposed little by little through one-off articles in Dragon Magazine.  I even have an old picture saved that I drew of a drow elf for my campaign.  It's done in a very Bill Willingham comic-book style, with the bluish-colored skin like the dark elf featured on the cover of the Saga mini-game.

At a certain point in the very late 80s or early 90s, I decided to completely get rid of the dark elves.  I felt that they were but a shadow (pardon the pun) of themselves.  Once they became a playable character race featured in Unearthed Arcana, it seemed like everybody wanted to play a brooding dark elf who had turned his (or her) back on their society and left to join the surface world.  As I was crafting my campaign world history, I just couldn't find a place for the dark elves.

A few years later, I had a change of heart, mainly sparked by an idea my friend and I had had while working on a series of novels based on my campaign world.  During this stage, I had given up on the idea of using the world for an actual game campaign and instead spent most of my time working on the history and the overall story arc.  I wanted a sort of new, but at the same time a familiar, race to fulfill a certain role in the story.  The wraith elves are what we came up with.

Like most races in my campaign world, their name was chosen for them by humanity, who, upon first encountering the Dorai (as they call themselves in their own tongue), decided that they looked like shadows, or "wraiths" of regular elves.  The name stuck, mostly because that's the way the humans wanted it. 

The wraith elves are treated with a mixture of suspicion, distrust, and apprehension, based solely on their somewhat sinister appearance and their rather mysterious emergence from a northern wasteland only a few hundred years ago.  I specifically opted not to have them be underground dwellers, to differentiate them from the traditional drow of D&D lore.  They also aren't inherently evil - like most humanoid races in my campaign world, there are good, evil, and neutral examples of the race found throughout the world. 

The differences between the wraith elves and the drow are not just found in their appearance, homeland, or ethical outlook, though.  It's mainly a difference of their society and culture, and the role they play in the campaign. 

I encourage you to have a look, even if you're not playing using Pathfinder rules.  If you just skip over the racial traits portion, you'll find a bunch of (hopefully) interesting information about the wraith elves.  Even the "character concepts" section, which provides role-playing hooks for each Pathfinder character class, is designed to be "rules-light" and instead provide background on the race. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fun With Any Edition: D&D 3.5

This post continues my series of posts made about having fun playing any edition of D&D.  As I mentioned in my first post on the subject, I'm starting backward with the most recent edition and working my way back to the beginning.  I should point out, though, that I haven't played (and don't really have any intention to play) the D&D Essentials line, which seems basically like a poor-man's D&D 4.5.

So, having covered 4th Edition, we'll move onto D&D 3.5.  I remember this edition made a lot of people upset because it came out so quickly after 3rd Edition and made enough changes that it was difficult to use a lot of the product that came out from both WotC and the various third-party publishers for 3rd Edition.  And, there was A LOT of product back then.  I know because I bought a ton of it.

As both a player and a DM of 3rd Edition D&D, though, I welcomed 3.5 because it did "fix" some things that I thought could use some tweaking, but as time went on, it did seem that a lot of it was an excuse for WotC to basically remake all of their 3rd Edition product line under the "Revised Edition" logo.  But that's a topic for another post.

As a gamer, my favorite 3.5 session ever was, oddly enough, another one-shot (my favorite 4th Edition experience was also a one-shot), also coincidentally enough DM'd by the same guy, my friend Cal.  This particular one-shot was an "evil" one-shot.

This was back before the majority of us had kids, so we all picked a date that worked with our spouses/significant others, and set aside an entire day to hang out at Cal's house to play D&D.  This means we showed up around 11am and began drinking Guinness, had a great lunch (I honestly don't remember what we had, but I want to say it might have been homemade burgers with fancy fixings like blue cheese, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, etc.), moving on to wine (Syrah, mostly, if memory serves), another home-cooked meal for dinner (I'm thinking either spaghetti or vegetable lasagna), homemade chocolate fudge cake, port, and then (here's where things get really bad) Irish Whiskey, served neat.

Cal made all of our characters for us and sent them to us ahead of time.  This was the first time I'd played in a game where the DM not only created a character for me, but also gave me a history that included my character's perceptions of the other characters.  It's something I actually really liked, but I've recently learned pretty much only works as a one-shot idea.

There were, I believe, six players for this game (it's possible I'm forgetting a few people, because not everybody stayed the entire time).

In terms of 3.5 rules, Cal made full use of all of the very detailed information in 3.5, and this also helped make this session particularly fun and crazy - he really went over the top in terms of multi-classing, prestige classes, templates, etc.  

One player was a basic Rogue/Wizard/Arcane Trickster - a gnome, I believe.  Another was a straight-up Cleric (aka "CoDzilla", in 3.5 terminology) - human, I think.

Then things start to get strange.

Another guy played a Sun-Elf Were-Jaguar Assassin (I can't remember if he had a base class, or if he qualified for the Prestige class based on a combination of feats and racial abilities).

Another guy was a "human" Druid named Polly.  Basic enough.  We found out at the end of the session that Polly was actually a polymorphed awakened parrot who had been the pet of an evil pirate at one point, and learned druidic magic after he was awakened.

My guy was a Githyanki Psion - again, pretty basic, but it was the first time any of us had used the psionics rules in either 3E or 3.5, so it was new to us.

The last guy ended up being the "main character" - a Human Vampire Fallen Paladin Blackguard.

We were... I don't remember.  On some sort of quest to do some evil stuff on behalf of some Forgotten Realms god.  I've never played in the Forgotten Realms before or since, so I don't remember who I was.  I do remember that we were all very high level (the highest I've ever played, if I'm remembering right), and my guy was totally min-maxed to the gills with a massive intelligence that was augmented by various magic items and some super cool psionic powers that made him very deadly - much more so that I'm used to as a player.

I also remember just being fascinated by all of the different race/template/class combinations my friend Cal put together.  He put a lot of work into designing those characters, so it made a lot of sense to me years later when Cal (who I think is stellar DM) told me that he'd much rather play D&D instead of DM.  I think he got a lot of enjoyment out of designing those characters and using the rules to their maximum ability to create a bunch of really different, unique characters that, under ordinary circumstances, you'd never get to play in an on-going D&D campaign.

That's part of the fun of one-shot games - you can try different things that don't have bad long-term effects on a long campaign.

The 3.5 rules were perfect for this, because they had some many of these different feats, templates, classes, races, etc.

In 4th Edition, everything would've just been turned into a series of "powers" that basically all ended up saying "You do 1d6 + [STAT] damage and push an opponent one square."  (Okay, I'm being facetious.  But those of you who have played or looked at 4E know what I'm talking about).

In earlier editions of the game, you could have had characters like this, but they wouldn't have been "customized" to the extend they were in 3.5.  The vampire fallen paladin blackguard would have been, for the most part, a vampire fighter.  And fighters back then didn't have any class abilities to distinguish one from the other.  The Sun Elf Were Jaguar Assassin... I'm not sure how you would do that in an earlier edition.  I mean, sure, you could probably do it, but the thing is, for all of its "rules heavy" issues, 3.5 made it, dare I say, easy to create characters like this.  It's built into the DNA of the system, whereas in other versions, you'd be making it up.

I'm not saying that making it up is a bad thing, by any means.  But, there's something to be said for having all of that information codified.  I'm a firm believer that it actually helped with my creativity during that era.

What about you all?  What kind of fun games did you have with the revised 3rd Edition rules?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

World of Samoth: Adventure Logs #2 - #14

As I mentioned in my first post about my World of Samoth recaps, the World of Samoth is my home campaign that I've been running since May of 2001.  I believe that next weekend is the "official" 10th Anniversary of me actually DM'ing this campaign, although I've been working on it since my Freshman year of college way back in 1988/1989. 

In my continuing quest to update all of the old information I had on my old Yahoo! Geocities site (alas, poor Geocities.  We hardly knew thee.), I've dug up the old recaps from our sessions and am posting them in order. 

This particular series of recaps includes #2 - #14 back from 2001/2002.  The good thing about these particular recaps is that, for the most part, they're pretty darn concise.  It wasn't until much later in the game that I took to writing way-too-long two-three page recaps.  Since these are each just a few paragraphs, each with only two-three sentences, you can breeze through them pretty quickly.

In this particular series, we see the adventurers (called by the very unoriginal name, "The Company") participating in the following modules/adventures:

  • Module B6: The Veiled Society (an old D&D Basic adventure that I converted to D&D 3.0)
  • The Burning Plague, a free online 3.0 adventure written by Monte Cook that used to be housed on the Wizards website
  • The Crucible of Freya, an old D&D 3.0 adventure by Necromancer Game (1st Edition Feel!)
For all of them, I changed all of the names of the NPCs to be vaguely Spanish-sounding, since the characters were all in the country of  Esoría, my campaign's equivalent of late Medieval Spain.  And, like any other DM, I worked in some transitional stuff to flow the adventures together.  As you read through it, you'll also see that I had to deal with a lot of player turnover during this time.  One player completely dropped out after the first session (the guy who played Tennyson the bard), and one other player (the guy who played Gur Prasaad, the pacifist-paladin) pretty much only showed up intermittently.  We did add a player during this time, though, which was cool.  He later dropped out, though!

Of all of the players and characters mentioned in these first few recaps, only my friend Brian, who plays the character Jeremi Udall (a cleric/sorcerer) is still playing.  My wife (who played a rogue named Sebastian) was actually playing all the way up until a couple of years ago when my daughter was born, but then she took "a hit for the team" by dropping out in order to allow me to continue DM'ing for the gang. 

We were supposed to play again today, actually, but one of my players recently had some surgery and he's recovering.  So, we had to postpone.  I'm hoping to play again in the next few weeks, and add in another player, who is part of my Friday night game group.  

Hanging: Home office
Drinking: nothing
Listening: "Minas de Cobre (For Better Metal)" by Calexico

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Really Cool Custom Action Figure Site

I've been checking out this guy's site for awhile, but it occurred to me that a lot of you might also enjoy it.  The site in question is Siloff's Workshop, and he makes custom action figures.  Most of them fall into customized Star Wars, Marvel Comics, or DC Comics characters that he re-envisioned in different themes (steampunk, Samurai, Western, etc.).

The vast majority of these figures aren't for sale (and the ones that are for sale are extremely expensive, since obviously so much work goes into them).  But, in addition to just looking really great as pieces of art, they are also very inspirational pieces for RPGs, I think.

Here are a few pics so you can see what I'm talking about, but I encourage you to visit his site to check them out for yourself.  Bear with me - I posted a lot of images because I think this guy's work is amazing.

Please note: All images are © 2011 Siloff.

"Steam Wars" Snow Trooper
"Steam Wars" Slave Leia (calm down, Boys!)
"Samurai Wars": Soto-Mu-Bushi (Storm Trooper), Doku Joutei (Darth Vader), Fetababe (Boba Fett)
"West Wars" Bob A. Ford (Boba Fett)
"Star Wars 1942" Good Guys

"Star Wars 1942" Bad Guys
"Star Wars" - Ralph McQuarrie Concept Art Luke Skywalker

"Star Wars" Ralph McQuarrie Concept Art Luke Starkiller
Dune - Fremen Wormrider

Gaslight Flash (inspired by the "Gotham by Gaslight" Batman comic)

Gaslight Wonder Woman

1930s Pulp Era Spider-Man

Victoria Era Vision (Marvel Comics)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Slightly New Organization to the Blog List

While adding a new blog to my blog roll today (MTV's Geek News), I realized that my blog roll is kind of a mish-mash of a bunch of things I follow, but it's not really organized for people who are checking it out for different reasons.  Most of my followers are coming from the OSR (at least, I think), and I realized that they might not necessarily be interested in the latest update on 1970s comics or science fiction.

So, I've added blog "categories" to make things easier to find.

Geek News: This is a collection of sites/blogs that provide stories that could be of interest to any type of geek.  They cover RPGs, comics, video games, TV shows, movies, etc.  I've also included "Geek Life", a semi-regular blog on, well, geek life, by the author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks.

RPG Blogs: This is a catch-all category (and the largest one, by far) of blogs written by people providing thoughts, memories, and game content for RPGs.  Almost all of them are related to the OSR in one form or another, but a few new-school gamers sneak in as well.  This is also the category that includes what I'd call "amateur" publishers, like Jim Raggi from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. I don't use the word "amateur" in a negative sense here, but rather just as a way to distinguish them from the "big" publishers like Paizo, etc.  It's an admittedly vague distinction that I may change later.

RPG Publishers: This is where you'll find the blogs from "professional" game publishers like Paizo, Green Ronin, and the fine folks at Kobold Quarterly

Comics Blogs & Online Comics: Here's where you'll go to check out stuff like Order of the Stick, as well as the super-fly Diversions of the Groovy Kind (a blog focused on Silver-age comics from the 1970s).

Science-Fiction Blogs: So far, there's only one blog here, the most excellent Space 1970 (focusing on science fiction TV shows and movies from the 1970s).  I grew up with this stuff, so it appeals to me greatly.

Author Blogs: This is another rather vaguely defined category that I created, but I noticed that Monte Cook, for example, while primarily known as one of the main designers behind D&D 3rd Edition and the publisher of Malhavoc Press products, tends to actually blog more about non-RPG topics.  Robin Laws is another one who dabbles in RPG-related posts, but covers other areas as well.  I put my friend Wil Wheaton in this category, because more than anything else now, I'd consider him an author more than an actor.  I'm not sure if he'd agree with that or not, but this is where he's going for now.  Erik Mona from Paizo is represented here in the form of Lemuria Press, although he hasn't updated that thing in ages.

Friends' Blogs: This category is represented by a single lone entry, my buddy Joe.  Joe doesn't play RPGs, but he reads comics, works in IT, and really is a consummate geek.  His blog is pretty entertaining, but he hasn't updated it since his trip to Vietnam last August.

Advertising Blogs: Last but not least, I put my ad agency's blog on here in the hopes that maybe a topic will interest someone who has a need to hire an ad agency and they'll contact me.  Besides, it's good to broaden your horizons, right?  You might see something there that sparks your interest about marketing and advertising.

So, there you go.  I hope you find this new organization system easier to navigate.

NPC For Gamma World/Mutant Future (Including Custom Art!)

So, last week when I posted Part 5 of my "Encounters for Gamma World", there was "#24: Mutated Panther."  As soon as I copied that over from my old notebook, a little voice in my head said, "A panther is not the actual name of the animal.  Cal is totally going to call you out on that."  I had a momentary thought of changing it to something like "Mutated Mountain Lion", but I left it as is, because that's how I had originally written it down in my notebook all those years ago. 

Cal did not disappoint.  Shortly after I made the post, I received an email from him.

"So, on your fine blog, you know I gotta ask, before the mutated panther could become mutated, what kind of cat had it been that it mutated into a mystical animal like a panther?"

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, you can read about the word "panther" on Wikipedia, here

That did get me to thinking, though, that I remember having expanded that one particular entry for my game back around 1984 or 1985, and turning him into an NPC who ran a little trading post.  I even drew a picture of him, which was awesome because it also counted as an assignment for my 8th Grade Art Class. 

The assignment was to "draw an animal."  Unlike my super cool, free-for-all 9th Grade Art Class, this was back in my hard-core "fine arts" type class, where every quarter we had to draw ten sketches in our sketch book of a pre-determined list of subjects that she provided us.  These kids were super talented artists.  I had squeaked into the class based more on creativity that actual talent.  The instructor liked my ideas much more than my technique, as evidenced by the picture included with this post.

For the "draw an animal" assignment, I knew that I could turn in a very passable picture of a real animal that I copied from an encyclopedia photo or from a book on animals that I checked out from the library (this was before The Internets, kids).  But, it wouldn't be as good as the really good sketches from some of the other kids.  The fact that each week when the sketches were due, the entire class got in a circle around this huge table and critiqued each others' drawings always intimidated me, so I usually went a completely different direction, which was to try to "wow" people with my creativity rather than my actual drawing chops. 

This particular fellow is a pen-and-ink drawing using a dip-pen and a combination of brown and black India inks.  I can assure you that, back in 1984/85 Sandy, Utah, no one else in my class drew an "animal" that looked anything like this guy.  You can see from the picture that this was sketch #7, and it's toward the front of my book so it must have been from 1st Quarter.  I always got an "A" on my sketches because the teacher was usually always surprised by what I drew. 

Once the assignment was to draw an onion using colored pencils, and I was the only one in the entire class who drew a green onion ("scallion") instead of a Red, Yellow, or Brown onion.  Another time the assignment was to "draw a foot" and I drew a huge blow-up of an elephant food instead of a human foot.  Once again, I was the only one who drew an animal foot, and I distinctly remember the instructor saying, "That's not what I meant, but I guess it's okay because I didn't specify."  She gave me a lot of leeway and actually did work with me to improve my technique.

I apologize for all of the smudges and stuff.  This is a really old sketchbook and I didn't really take great care of my drawings back then.  I carried this sketchbook in my backpack nearly every day and the cover is pretty much just hanging on by a thread.  I tried to clean it up as best I could before scanning it. 

And without further ado, here's the write-up I did in my 1st Edition Gamma World notebook, with slight modifications to bring him "up to code" with Mutant Future rules.

The following is designated open game content per the Open Game License.

 Name: Droo Id
AL N, MV 120’ (40’), AC: 8, HD 4, #AT 1, DG 1d6 (bite), 1d6 (two claws), or by weapon (below), SV L4 , ML 9, Mutations: metamorph, gigantism (human-sized height), aberrant form (new body parts - vocal articulators), aberrant form - modified body parts (human-like hands), reflective epidermis (heat), mental phantasm, intellectual affinity (tinkerer).
MS: 16, INT: 14, CH: 7, PS: 12, DX: 17, CN: 11
Weapons: Spear, Quarterstaff, Musket Pistol.  May also carry a short bow, dagger, or short sword.
Armour: [sic - I used the English spelling because I thought it was "cool"] Scorns the use of mundane armour, and discourages its use among the village.  He will use a shield and in dangerous situations or when traveling, he has a chest-plate made of plant fiber (AC 7).  His natural fur provides AC 8.
Equipment: Droo Id carries with him at all times 30 rounds for his musket, an oil flask, and a Stage II I.D. on his wrist.  In his tent are a bedroll, hemp rope, heavy clothes, a water skin, and a leather sack.  He also has a small sack of explosive radiated seeds from a colony of mutant plants he defeated.  There are 42 of the seeds.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Encounter Tables for Gamma World (or Mutant Future), Part 6 (The End!)

This presents the last in my series of posts regarding the old Encounter Tables I made for 1st Edition Gamma World back in the early 80s to compensate for some missing pages of encounters from my copy of the rulebook.   As a reminder, I've tried to revise these slightly to comply to Mutant Future rules. 

The other encounters in this series can be found here: Part 1 (#1 - #5 and also explains why these encounter tables exist in the first place), Part 2 (encounters #6 - #10), Part 3 (encounters #11-15), Part 4 (encounters #16-20), and Part 5 (encounters #21-25).

In this installment, we find a few new mutations and "monsters" that had no corresponding lists in the Mutant Future rulebook; some of these actually came from 2nd Edition Gamma World, which I had acquired in the middle of making these encounter tables. 

Encounter #29, the "Army of the Dark Brotherhood" is from Hiero's Journey, with the serial numbers filed off for copyright protection. 


The following is designated open game content per the Open Game License.

  1. Riding Dogs (2) [AL N, MV 120’ (40’), HD 4, #AT 1, DG 2d6 (bite), SV L4 , ML 6, Mutations: one has none; the other has dual cerebellum and neural telepathy.]
    These two mutated mongrels are large enough to ride as mounts and can understand simple commands.   They are immune to all forms of poisons.  These two particular dogs served as mounts for a pair of explorers who were slain.  They are well-trained, but are extremely hungry and are reverting to a more savage state.  Offers of food will calm them down and enable the characters to use them as mounts. 
  2. “Beggar Rodents” (3)  [AL N, MV 120’ (40’), AC 5, HD 4, #AT 1, DG (by weapon; see below), SV L4, ML 9, Mutations: empathy, force screen (greater), mental phantasm, neutral telekinesis, neural telepathy, optic emissions (bright eyes).]
    One beggar rodent (the leader) carries a warp-field sword (DG 1d8+16) and a stun pistol.
    The second beggar rodent carries a fusion rifle (DG 7d6). 
    The third beggar rodent carries a radiation rifle with three shots left in its battery. 
    They also are carrying one missile launcher (DG 150 points in a 300’ radius). 
    These crafty, bipedal mutated raccoons have a knack for acquiring and figuring out how to use ancient technological weapons.  These three will not engage a strong party unless they can figure out a way to use their missile.
  3. “Friends of Chaos” (41) [AL C, MV 120’ (40’) or by vehicle (motorcycles), AC 4, HD 5, #AT 1, DG 1d8 (crossbow) or 1d8 (sword) or 1d8 (spear) or 1d4 (dagger), SV L4, ML 8]. 
    Five have aberrant form – natural weapons (quills, DG 1d6) and natural armor (scales).
    Nine have toxic weapon (gas generation; causes blindness for 1d8 hours).
    Ten have metamorph.
    Twelve have night vision and shriek.
    Four are pure humans with no mutations.
    These members of a loosely organized alliance will, as their name implies, attack the characters on site. 
  4. Army of the Dark Brotherhood (103) [AL C, MV 120’ (40’)]
    Humanoids (23) [AC 9, HD 6, #AT 1, DG 1d3 (hand-to-hand), SV L8, ML 10, Mutations:
    The leader has confusion (can use once every 24 hours; roll 1d4: on a 1, the subject stands mute and does nothing, on a 2-3, the subject attacks the nearest creature, and on a 4, it attacks the character using this mutation.  Effects last for three rounds), killing sphere, possession, summoning (can summon one non-intelligent mobile entity with an INT less than 4 within a range of 1 kilometer to appear before him and serve him; usable once every 12 hours).
    Two have mental barrier and vampiric field.
    Three have teleportation and mind thrust.
    Four have empathy (used to instill fear so creatures run away).
    Five have mind thrust and neural telekinesis.
    Eight have mental phantasm.
    These humanoids act as leaders for the bulk of the army (below).
    “Lethal Mutations” (80).
    Humanoid Reptiles (25) [AC 5, HD 8, #AT 1, DG 2d6 (two-handed sword) or 2d6 (bite) or 1d6 (claws), SV L9, ML 9.
    Mutant Baboons (26) [AC 4, HD 9, #AT 2, DG 2d6 (two-handed sword) and 2d6 (bite), SV L10, ML 10.
    Man-Rats (27) [AC 5, HD 6, #AT 1, DG 1d10 (bite) or 2d4 (claws), SV L8, ML 9.
    “Were-Bears” (2) [AC 1, HD 10, #AT 2, DG 6d6 (bite) and 2d8 (claws), SV L10, ML 10.
    This army serves the “Dark Brotherhood.”  The leaders are very powerful humanoids with mental mutations only; physically, they appear as pure humans.  The mutated animals in the army mostly walk upright and use human-made weapons.  Their primary goal is the destruction of all remaining pure humans and the spreading of evil.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Month of Holidays!

I forgot how chock-full of holidays May is.  We started off with May Day, then moved right into May the 4th Be With You Day, Cinco de Mayo... and now tomorrow we have Free Comic Book Day!  Check out their site to find the store nearest you that's giving away free comics tomorrow. 

Oh, yeah, and there's also Mother's Day and Memorial Day.

A funny anecdote about May Day... about 12 years ago, I went to Europe for the first time on a trip to Italy with my best friend, Brian.  He had a friend who had moved to Bologna and was getting ready to move back, and had said that if we ever wanted to visit him while he lived there, we'd better schedule a trip. 

So, we planned a trip to the "Big 3" (Rome, Florence, Venice), and also added in a trip to Bologna and Ravenna. 

My friend Brian is, let's just say, extremely frugal, so he had it planned that once we landed at the airport in Rome, rather than take a cab into the city, we would lug all of our bags on the train.  We arrived, deplaned (I don't get to use that word all that often, so I decided to throw it in there), and headed over to the train station.  However, after roaming around like idiots for about 30 minutes trying to figure out where to buy our tickets and actually find an entrance to the station that was open, we decided to cut our losses and hail a cab.

We hop in and tell him where we're going, and then in my best Italian, I said, "Il treno è chiuso?"  ("The train is closed?"  I had been practicing my Italian, per instructions from my friend before we went on our trip.  I was assigned to learn to speak as much Italian as possible, and also try to memorize the background and symbolism of the key art pieces we were going to encounter at the various museums so that I could, for example, say, "Caravaggio's dramatic use of chiaroscuro in this piece had a strong influence on the Baroque school of painting."  My friend isn't what you'd call a casual, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of traveler). 

So, the cab-driver mutters something back to me in Italian, but he's talking a mile a minute. After the initial shock of noticing that the cab driver actually spoke the language of the country he was in, I recovered and tried desperately to pick out a few words that I could understand. 

The cab driver finally got frustrated with my lack of comprehension and started violently pointing at a little calendar he had taped to the dashboard on the passenger side.  "Primo Maggio!  Primo Maggio!"  (It was something like that - I didn't quite understand him).  I finally figured out that he was pointing to the date, which was May 1st. 

I quickly grabbed my guidebook out of my backpack and flipped to a section at the beginning on "Planning Your Trip" and there it was - "May 1st is a holiday in Italy, and many public services are closed." 

Oh, well.  At least I now know how to say, "No, we are platonic friends only" in Italian. 
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