“When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”

-George A. Romero, Dawn of the Dead

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tempest Sector: Cygnus

Art by Wen JR
Atmosphere: Breathable Mix
Temperature: Warm
Biosphere: Engineered
Population: Outpost
Tech Level: 4 (baseline)
Tags: Quarantined, Tomb World

The Star Kingdom of Chimera once had a science outpost located on this quarantined planet. Sometime in Cygnus's distant past an alien race lived on this planet. This race has not completely disappeared however. Massive pyramids and monuments of metal and stone remain. Hieroglyphs and alien remains have revealed that this race may have some kind of relationship to the ancient Egyptian culture of Old Earth.

Exploration of the the various tombs have revealed labyrinth like catacombs filled with traps, treasure, and the mummified remains of these highly technologically advanced aliens. The explorers also accidentally released a virus that infected the modern technology brought along by the Star Kingdom's military and researchers. Drone's and other equipment became self-aware and violent towards the explorers. Thus the need to seal off the planet from any other group that might want to explore it and reap it's hidden secrets.

Since that time the dead have somehow been brought back to life. Often these undead have been transformed into cybernetic terrors. So far efforts have been made to keep these horrors from being able to leave the planet and hide the truth from the galaxy at large. There are those however who would like nothing more than to get onto the planet and reap whatever reward they might be able to. In fact the Monolith Corporation would like nothing more than to have one of it's infected “Gorilla” Drones captured, alive if possible and returned to one of it's secret laboratories for study. The tombs themselves are filled with artifacts and art that the rich would pay handsomely for if one could survive the creatures and traps that wait within. Finally there are those that would love to topple the current government with the news of what secrets are being hidden from the people of the Kingdom.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Tempest Sector Map

A while back I had some free time on my hands. What I didn't have was the nice template from SWN to fill in. So I made my own. It's a masterpiece if I do say so myself. Only the real high quality shit for my readers. I rolled up stuff for each star there too. Now I just need to record it all here on the blog.
Hand crafted sector map for Stars Without Number

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rogues in the Death Star

This may have been the map our DM used.
There have been a few campaigns that I've run or played in during my time playing RPGs that have been pretty awesome. But the one that will always stand out in my mind will be the one we just called the Thieves Campaign.

It started the summer that the 3e Players Handbook came out. It wasn't meant to be anything more than a filler game until we could get the whole group back together again. There was just the two of us plus the DM.

The DM had just come back from a vacation in Germany. He had visited a little place called Rothenburg. He was excited because he had this map of the town and he wanted to use it for D&D. Add to the fact that we wanted to try out this new edition of the game and the DM's copy of TSR's Den of Thieves and we had a winning formula. The adventures of Ringo & Rictor began.

That night we had our first argument about Attacks of Opportunity. But we also had a lot of fun. We planned a heist and stole a bunch of gems. We made enemies with the Guild of Assassins and a notorious thief who shunned Rothenburg's Thieves Guild named the “Owl”. We made friends like Marcy a fellow thief who always tried to out do us, and Baruck who sponsored us to the Guild in the first place.

I'm not sure to this day how much the DM used from this
book, but it did provide the foundation for one of the
most memorable campaigns I've ever played in.
As things progressed and people came back from vacations the campaign continued. The rule was that you had to have a least one level of Rogue or Bard. It was a low magic game and I remember have a magic dagger that I cherished. If there was something that earlier editions got right it was that magic items should be unique and rare. We managed to create our own secret hideout from the underground lair of a band of serpent-men we defeated. Above it we created a bakery as a front and staffed it with an ex-gang member we befriended.

Those early days of my roleplaying career were probably some of my best. The newness of it all. The sense of mystery and fear. The rules had little to do with it. In fact the more we learned the rules, and the more serious I took the game, the less fun I ended up having. Ringo & Rictor were a lot like the Grey Mouser and Fafhrd. They were thieve's but they had a code of honour and they protected the city of Rothenburg from those that would do it harm. Of course a man has to eat so if a few things had to get nicked along the way so be it.


So aside from some nostalgic babbling here are the morales of this story. The best campaigns can and usually do arise from adventures that grow organically. Magic items are much cooler when they are rare and unique. Don't let the rules get in the way of the fun. Don't let yourself ruin the fun by taking thing too seriously. I guess the thing here is that line from Princess Leia in “A New Hope” to Grand Moff Tarkin. “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers”. To which Tarkin replies, “Not after we demonstrate the capabilities of this station”. An yet the Death Star was destroyed by Luke. An inexperienced pilot who turned off his targeting computer and trusted in the Force to guide his shot. The greatest of our gaming constructs are vulnerable to the smallest of things. So don't sweat it. Let go and just enjoy the ride. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Thoughts on Elemental Evil

Iä! Shub-Niggurath!
Iä! Shub-Niggurath! 
The Black Fire of Chaos with a Thousand Flames!
"There are wheels within wheels in this village and fires within fires."
                                           The Crucible

I've updated the Ultimate Greyhawk page. I realize that I barely wrote up a third of the locations in Hommlet, and yet I'm sure theres more than enough material to start playing this thing. So many hooks and mini adventures. And thats not even counting the whole Cult of Elemental Evil at the centre of things.

Speaking of Elemental Evil. Wizards has started to roll out their new 5e vision for it in the Realms. At first I recoiled from the idea. But now the more I think on it the more I approve. See the thing is I've always felt that the generic nature of the factions was weak. It was something I planned to fix in my personal take on the blog. The idea of strange mystery cults that draw in people of all walks of life, hidden in the wilderness plotting and planning really gets me excited. It's fresh and it's new. Change for change's sake is silly, but I think this is a move in the right direction. 

The other reason I've always felt that the cults needed more was because of Monte Cook. Some people believe that his vision for Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil was a bad one. I disagree with those people, but hey, they're entitled to their own opinions. Anyway, while Monte was working on RttToEE he was also running his Ptolus campaign. You can see the parallels between his Chaos Cults in Ptolus and the Elemental Cults. For me it really illustrated how while these groups all have a common goal they are all so different from each other. How much they hate each other, and just how much character they each have despite this common uniting factor. 

I think thats the secret to properly running any kind of ToEE campaign. In fact I'd go farther and argue that almost any campaign relies on the strength of it's NPC's and the organizations they represent. For me ToEE is all about secrets. It's about the PC's and who can they trust. There should be paranoia, fear and backstabbing. Running ToEE is like running a great Call of Cthulhu campaign. Each layer reveals a new one, and the process of reaching each layer bring the characters that much closer to losing their fucking minds. The cults of Elemental Evil are not about the Elements. Those are just the tools of madness. Worshipers of of Elemental Evil are all about CHAOS.

At some point I'll come back to all of this. The ToEE is one of those things that I always seem to come back to. I hope you've enjoyed what I've written so far. It's nothing spectacular, but it has been fun to do.



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Idea to Encourage Sandbox Exploration

I found this YouTube clip interesting from a sandbox design perspective. The designer discusses about how they didn't want to just throw quests at players in order to motivate them to explore the world. Instead they tease the players by showing them interesting locations viewed from a distance as they travel from one location to another.  One more tool to add to the GM's toolbox.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

All-New Captain America

Continuing on with the comic book talk theres a few other series I've started reading that show some promise. First I will blather on about what I think about the All-New Captain America? Read on and hear the good word my fellow nerds!

I really like this series so far because it feels fresh but has a certain amount of familiarity to it. Kinda like switching from briefs to boxers one day....or not. I guess since I have no real nostalgic memories or expectation tied to this series I may be in the minority here. But I've seen and read enough Avengers that I know who Captain America is. And honestly after Hawkeye, the Cap was probably my least favourite Avenger. 

ALL HAIL HYDRA!

Just kidding.  Fuck Hydra.

This review was approved by HYDRA
All hail Hydra!

But I'm not kidding about Captain America. He just never did it for me. Give me Thor, Give me the Hulk. Give me Hawkeye! Wait WHAT am I saying! No Hawkeye! 

ANYWAY moving on.

Spoilers to follow!!!! Consider yourself warned.

Ok now that the traditional disclaimer has been done hopefully there will be no nerd rage in response to what comes next. Who am I kidding, no one reads this blog anyway, and if this is where you come to get your comic book info, your probably in the wrong line bucko.

Soooo. Captain America.
So somewhere in the history of Steve Rogers, he goes to a Dimension Z, finds a new family, has an adoptive son who seems like an impulsive dick, loses his super powers by having the super solider serum sucked out of his body, grows old and passes on the Shield to Sam Wilson. Sam Wilson is the Falcon. But now he's also Captain America. I love it.

Somehow I feel like this could be President Obama
moonlighting as a super hero. If I was president I would make sure
as fuck I had a rad comic book I could call my own. 
So now Steve Rogers works behind the scenes helping Sam as the new Cap, who has teamed up with Roger's step son, Nomad. The cool thing is that Sam is still learning how to use his shield. He's interesting because of his flaws. His heart is in the right place, but he doesn’t come off as a super talented know it all. Issue 1 starts off with the team infiltrating a secret Hydra base and ends on a cliff hanger with our heroes neck deep in some serious shit. I don't know all of the original Hydra bad guys, but I have a feeling theres quite a few iconic ones that we see...

I would recommend this to people who are looking to get into comics. The story seems to hold some promise. Visually it's great and I look forward to reading the rest of the issues on my stack.

So what's your thoughts? Do you love or hate the the Cap? Let me know down below. Unless your my wife. I don't want you to yell at me for the mint I dropped on comics this week...



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Superior Spider-Man

So much awesome!
So as things intensify in my program reading for fun tends to get put on the back burner. It's not that I
don’t have the time. It's more of an issue of being too tired to actually have the mental power to focus and enjoy reading a good novel for any length of time.The thing is I really want to read. Then I hint on the idea that maybe something shorter and more visual might scratch that itch. I hit up a my local spot and chatted up the owner and he hooked me up with the first collected volume of The Superior Spider-Man*.

I've really enjoyed the story so far. In fact I just finished reading the second volume and can't wait to pick up the last four volumes in the series. The nice thing is that I've been told that series leads up to the new Amazing Spider-Man series which I have the first sixteen issues on the ready to read pile.

So if your like me and you're a fan of Spider-Man I would suggest picking this up and giving it a read.









*SPOILER ALERT!

The premise is that previous to the start of this series Doctor Octopus was dying. In order to save himself he did some sort of switch that put Peter Parker in his body, and him in his. Now Peter is gone and Otto Octavius has taken over with the goal of being a better- in fact- Superior Spider-Man!