One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Carving With The Zombiecowboy Family

Heres a few pictures from yesterday during one of our regular Sunday Family dinners at my parents house:
Mrs. Zombiecowboy hard at work.
Hey that's me!
Me and Pumpkin Cthulhu
A close up of my Pumpkin Cthulhu
Getting sexy with Pumpkin Cthulhu
Look Ma, I'm a Thrall of Cthulhu!
All Hail Pumpkin Cthulhu 'Ia Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!
Ahhh! Chillaxing in the Hot Tub-Time-Machine with my Dude-Bros-in-Law and the Wife!
Can't you feel the love?

From left to right, my niece Little K, my daughters Big Trouble, and Princess Chaos.

Special Thanks to my little sister The Littlest Crafter for taking the photo's
Have a Happy Halloween Everyone!

Arkham Heat: Session 1

Session 1: Saturday, October 29, 2011

Karla Blackwood: Private Detective and proprietor of Blackwood Detective Agency.  

Ajax Windsor: Mechanic/tow-truck driver and freelance bootlegger/rum runner.

Jimmy Mills: Special Agent with the Bureau of Investigation in Arkham.

Arkham City Monday, April 15, 1929

The campaign begins with a summons. At Benito’s Italian Café, a speakeasy the Investigator's often frequent, Mafia God-Father, Guisseppe "Joe" Potrello invites the group to breakfast.  The God-Father has just received a ransom note and ultimatum from his rival Danny O’Bannion, leader of the Irish Mob:

We have your son Michael. If you ever want to see him alive again shut down your operations, and get out of Arkham by Friday.

Potrello, not one to be easily pushed around has decided to make his stand against O’Bannion and his mob. Potrello makes them a job offer, please find my son before Friday. Having no love for the Irish mobster, the group accepts . They soon learn that Michael was last seen by one of Potrello’s lieutenants entering Fenner’s Roadhouse a popular hangout located 20 minutes out side of Arkham. Ajax, having personally delivered booze to the place knows the spot well and the three of the pile into his tow-truck to pay Fenner a visit.

At Fenner's the group learns from the Roadhouse's owner Mel Fenner, that yes Michael was indeed there a few nights ago, and that he was in the company of the beautiful " Little Gina" Lorenzo. Fenner found this a little odd since last he’d heard Gina was the arm piece of Vinnie Fazuli, an enforcer in O’Bannion’s gang. At some point later in the evening the pair had left, but Fenner made little of that since he figured they had just gone off to do the midnight dance with one another, if you understood his meaning.

The group decided that they wanted to track down Vinnie, or Gina and ask them a few questions. Not being sure where to find either of them they went out to shake a few of O’Bannion trees and see if they could knock loose a few low hanging apples. The first "tree" they decided to shake down was the Irish speakeasy in Arkham called the Bell Café. At first they met a little resistance trying to get into the back of the café, but eventually after some minor threats the clerk buzzed them in. While there was no Vinnie or Gina here they did manage to have a conversation with a low ranking thug in O’Bannions gang known as Twitch. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, the nervous and twitchy man had no idea where either Vinni or Gina might be, though he was also surprised to learn that Gina was messing around with another man. He was able to give them the address to Gina’s apartment in Arkham’s North Side. Guardian Apartments, 622 Brown St. Ajax thanked  Twitch and told him to keep his eyes open and let Mel Fenner know if he saw or heard anything. When Twitch asked him what he did for a living and what his name was, Ajax replied,

"Just tell Mr. Fenner I’m the Delivery Man",
" Like the Milk Man?" Twitch replied.
"Yeah Twitch, I’m the Milk Man…"

The Investigator’s made their way to Gina’s apartment. When no one answered the buzz at the door, Jimmy used his law enforcement credentials to get the building manager to let the group in and check out Gina’s apartment. The place was clean, and a talk with local’s lead them to learn that Gina had not been home for the past few days. As the group left the apartment they ran into three of O’Bannions thugs. Ajax managed to get the drop on the leader of the group, an enforcer named Ian Fitzroy, clubbing him with a big wrench he kept hidden up his sleeve. Fitzroy pulled a gun, but between Jimmy’s skill in martial arts, Ajax’s big wrench, and Karla’s mean right hook they soon managed to take down the thugs.

Shortly after the scuffle, the Arkham PD arrived on the scene. Leading Arkham's "Boys in Blue" was Lieutenant Ray Stuckey. It was well known to the Investigator’s that Stuckey was on O’Bannion’s pay roll and that they could expect little to no help from the man. Jimmy was able to find out that the thugs were being taken to St-Mary’s Hospital, and after a long period of questioning from Stuckey he reluctantly let the group go on their way.

At the hospital, the group was able to get Fitzroy to spill the beans. The thugs were to tasked break legs and warn people off of asking too many questions about Michael, Vinnie, or Gina. It was Twitch who innocently tipped off the thugs that the group had been looking into the trio's whereabouts. All Fitzroy knew was that Michael was being held in an old mansion somewhere out near Falcon Point, roughly 45 minutes out of Arkham.

Armed with this information the group headed out to Falcon Point to locate the mansion. In Falcon Point's ramshackled community of fishermen no one knew anything about a mansion, but maybe someone out on Boynton Beach might know something. They were warned to stay away from the town of Innsmouth, which was located about a mile up the road. Oddly they were also told a story of a missing local named Enoch Conger. A fisherman, Conger once claimed to have caught a mermaid off of nearby Devil's Reef.Unsure of what to make of this odd story the group took their leave and took the pathway down the cliff side that lead to the settlement of Boynton Beach.

Smaller than Falcon Point, the group met the community's leader, Corey Weston. He had a lot to say. Yes he knew of a mansion. Round these parts it was known as "Old Man Babson's Place", and shunned by the locals. Word around here was that Babson was reputed to be a Warlock. Weird noises and lights had been coming from the place lately. The mansion is located further up the beach past Fish-Head Rock, an ancient site sacred to the Indians that once lived in the area. Just take the path in the cliff side to the top and you cant miss it. Weston also warned the group to stay away from Innsmouth. When asked why, he told them that he didn’t know nothing from nothing, as he would often repeat during the conversation, but he heard that people who lived there wernt quite right. If rumour was to be believed the town folk laid with their own kin if you know what I be saying, though I be knowing nothing from nothing in all...

Following Weston’s directions the group found the Babson Mansion. A rotting hulk of a building Old Man Babson's Place had seen better days. Inside they found recent muddy footprints that lead them to investigate the basement. In the basement they discovered the signs of recent habitation new, but used cots, empty liqueur bottles and playing cards, and in a nicely furnished room Little Gina…

To Be Continued

Friday, October 28, 2011

Here In Arkham, We Play By Our Own Rules.

                                                                                Yo my peeps! I'm your resident undead-cowboy, and host back with another action packed Arkham Heat update that will knock you to the moon and back baby! Just watch out for Mi-go on the re-entry, word is there into the probing of the anal variety. But hey, maybe your one of those people who are into that sort of thing....
If your confused, (more than me) or just checking this out for the first time now, I'm referring to my new Call of Cthulhu Campaign compadre, coming exclusively to a gaming table somewhere around the island of Montreal. In Part 1 I discuss what inspired me to get the ball rolling on this thing. Part 2, is the down low on the protagonists of the campaign. And today, (that would be Part 3 meat-head) I shoot the shoggoth shit about rules, systems, and all that jazz.

So rules.

The Call of Cthulhu rules are pretty venerable. Not much has changed in the 30 years they've been around, and I'm not holding my breath that 7th edition will be much different. Don't get me wrong, I dig the rules, and I love the simplicity behind the system, yet after running The Realm of Shadows using the d20 rules, and the Shadows of Yog-Sothoth campaign using the classic rules I found myself wanting a little bit more from the system. I think it's a dude thing, wee like to get dirty under the hood and tinker. To quote Tim Allen "It needs more POWER"!

So taking a page from the Binder 2000 play book I decided to check out a product that I have long wanted to get the 4-Eleven on, The Basic Roleplaying Rules 4th edition.

OK, First off there is a lot of stuff here. I had no idea the long history that BRP has had in the RPG industry.

Second thought, wow, I had no idea just how stripped down the CoC rules really were when you compared them to the BRP rules!

But what I really liked about this book was all the options that you have at your disposal both as a player and GM for creating characters and running the game. Ultimately, I didn't take too much away from the book. I decided that I wanted to remain rather rules light. But I did swipe the rules for a point buy system. It's too early to tell how this will work in the long run, but like a lot of what I'm doing this is part of the experiment.

The second mind blasting tome of un-carnal knowledge I checked out was the excellent Unknown Armies 2nd Edition. OMG my brothers and sisters! Praise be too all that is unholy! This is an awesome, gnarley-gnarligton of a RPG. The writing is second to none, and the mechanics, in addition to being a percentile system are bloody easy to run with and understand. I can't praise this book enough. So I ripped off a few combat rules from here that I'm going to experiment with as well.

So in the end I'm running this thing as a hybrid monstrosity combined with 2parts Classic CoC, 1 part BRP 4e, and 1 part Unknown Armies 2e. Stew in a broth of awesome sauce and BAM! that's the rules system powering this campaign.

Like I've said before this is an experiment. Who the eff knows how it will all turn out. Maybe it it will just end up being a big pile of Deep One doo-doo. But hey, one of the things that I've discovered about myself is that as much as tinkering with rules can be fun, I tend to run pretty rules light. The most successful campaign I( in my mind at any rate) that I ever ran was powered by d20 Modern, and I pretty much ignored most of the rules except for chucking a d20 here and there for attack rolls and skills checks when I though it made the most sense. It's my theory, that the enthusiasm of both the players and the GM are way more important than any one system can ever be. So in the end, my rules tinkering may fly out the window and into the mouth of madness. Only time will tell. Of course at some point in the future I will revisit this topic and let you all in on what worked, and what didn't.

Till then have a safe weekend and see y'all Monday.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pawns and Players

Yesterday I talked a little about the inspiration behind my new Call of Cthulhu campaign, Arkham Heat. Today I wanted to show case the three characters that will be the focus of the campaign.

It's a small group, but I actually like that. I find investigation games work better with fewer people. It's easier to stay focused, and get shit done. But also, there's just so much investigating and clue gathering that can get done. With too many players people start stepping on each others toes. I mean everyone wants to feel useful right?

Take a show like CSI for example. All the characters tend to break off into smaller groups and work on separate cases. Occasionally a big case will require more people, but I see that as more of a logistics thing, and not particularly applicable to RPG scenarios. In addition, you tend to have specialist characters that show up in order to analyze the clues and give lab results. These characters are present just to pass on info and are on screen for a scene or two, rarely does it makes sense for a lab guy to be out in the field.

But this campaign is more than just about investigating weird spooky stuff. It's about people trying to live their own lives in a tough town full of crime and corruption. Each of these characters have their own problems and most of them not supernatural.

The glue that binds this group together is Karla Blackwood. This attractive 25 year old private detective has inherited her missing father's PI agency. Karla's father was an officer and in the Great War, and was for a short time a detective on the Arkham Police force till he left for reasons unknown to his daughter. As time went on the PI became more and more withdrawn and secretive, till one day 6 months ago he vanished. Declared dead, he left his agency and all his possessions to his daughter. Karla now runs the Blackwood Detective Agency, with the aid of a couple of her friends, James Mills, and Ajax Windsor. Despite the official declaration that her father is dead, something in her heart leads her to believe that he may still be alive....

James Mills fought in the Great War was once apart of the tank crew commanded by Norman Blackwood. During the war he formed a strong friendship to the man, and was friends with him till the day he disappeared 6 months ago. It was during this time that he also formed a friendship with Blackwood's daughter Karla. Today, James is a Special Agent with the Bureau of Investigation in Arkham. James career in the Bureau was on the fast track till an unspecified incident brought down the ire of the Bureau's head honcho J. Edgar Hoover. Stuck under the direction of an incompetent jerk of a boss, James often finds himself working along side his friend Karla on cases with her at the Blackwood Detective Agency.

Ajax Windsor was a tank driver in the Great War. During that period he befriend both James Mills and his superior officer Norman Blackwood, a friendship that continues to this day. While Ajax is a talented mechanic, and runs a decent auto garage and towing operation, it is in fact a cover for his freelance booze smuggling operation. An operation that has been aided and abetted more than once with the help of his connections with James at the BoI. During that time the Irish mob boss in Arkham put a hit out on the bootlegger, and Ajax's wife was killed by mistake. Now Ajax plans to do everything in his power to take the mobster down. The last part of the Blackwood triad, Ajax often fills the role as a wheelman for Karla, and James.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Arkham Heat

Yesterday I wrote that I was in the process of starting a new Call of Cthulhu campaign. This past weekend characters were made and this coming weekend the insanity begins. However, today I figured I’d shoot the proverbial shit behind the inspiration for the campaign I'm calling Arkham Heat...

I’ve been wanting to write a hard boiled detective/mystery story for some time now. I wanted to create a noir setting involving a detective that I could come back to again and again in a series of short stories. One of the things that intrigues me lately are TV shows and comic books. By that I mean I find it fascinating how writers are able to craft an ongoing series based on a cast of reoccurring characters and scene locations. Used over and over again, we seen the cast pitted against all manner of events and watch them grow as a result. Both TV and comics, two similar yet different mediums of story telling allow the author to tell shorter stories in the context of a larger over arching plot line. But I’m digressing from my main point.

Right, so hard boiled detective fiction. I think everyone knows what the stereotype of hard boiled fiction is, and yet I'm sure few people actually know what the genre is all about. More over I feel like many people have their own personal definition of what they consider the genre to be. At least that's how I felt. So I decided to do a little bit of personal research into the subject and went to the local library here. There I checked out two collections of stories by the God-Fathers of the genre Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett.

I wasn’t able to actually finish the collections as my reading time as of late has been rather reduced, but I did manage to finish Hammet’s novel Red Harvest.

Holy Shit.

As I read this story all I could think was “This is Cyberpunk, with out the cyber!” It was bloody, and dark. Bullets, broads, and booze were everywhere. People were being killed, plots, within plots were being hatched, and I found myself completely blown away. What I thought was going to be a dry boring read made me think that this could easily be slightly modified as a modern action flick for today's big screen with no problem at all.

And it made me think of Cthulhu. Strangely, Lovecraft wrote in this same time period more or less and yet his stories did not sound like this at all. While Hammett was raw and rough, Lovecraft had some kind of old English gentility to his writing. Regardless, the streams were crossed and my mind began to wander pregnant with possibility.

I imagined an Arkham that resembled something more akin to Gotham City, than a peaceful university town. A place that was full of greedy, low life thugs looking out for only themselves, and that was just the cops. A place where the mob rubbed shoulders with the heads of banks, and government officials. A place that if you wanted justice done then you needed to pay off the right people. And of course at the very center of this web of corruption, awaited the biggest cancer of all. The Cthulhu Mythos.

I don’t want to say too much right now because my player’s may be reading this blog. But that’s the seed that started it all. Next time I will talk a little about the characters that are about to be burned alive in the Arkham Heat…

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


This is a blog post in response to The Happy Whisk's question of  what I've been up to in my comments section.

It's been 5 months since this blog went dead. Or something like that. I had a little bit of momentum going, I was picking up some followers and then SMACK. I hit the WALL. If your a blogger, or a writer, you know what I mean when I write of the WALL. And no, not the Pink Floyd variety either.

When I first started blogging the intention was to get my writing chops in shape. I wanted to be a writer. One day I was going to be the next Stephen King. Yup...My Balls were that big.

First I was going to write that gaming supplement. Just for shits and giggles. Because hey RPG's were my first love, the thing that gave me hope of breaking into writing for a living. But the blogging thing was taking up all my time. All the writing projects I wanted to do were being pushed to the side because I needed to blog every day. Of course during the break, some how sitting down to write everyday fell by the wayside. Apparently I have the drive and willpower of a 5 year old... So depressing.

In addition, this was a gaming blog. The reality is I don't really game all that much anymore. I still dig it, but it is no longer at the center of my universe. My family has taken front and center, and that's how it should be. So with no real gaming going on, and no real writing going on, I decided it was time for a break. I just didn't imagine the break being this long. Mostly I feel like a failure, and the desire to write anything has been pretty much non-exisitant. Serisouly, I'm pretty envious of all those guys in the OSR blogsphere who have put out some top notch material. Regardless of the production values, anyone who has written and published something should give themselves a big pat on the back. They do what all proffesionals do. Make it look easy. So the tip of my hat to all of you, and you all know who you are.

As for the future of this blog...I dunno. I'm no game Guru. I dont keep up with the game news anymore. I dont give a shit about what edition of D&D people play, or if 5th edition is on the way. I dont care about the endless debates on whats old skool or not, or if thats what Gygax would have wanted. But mostly I don't really feel like I have anything useful to add to the community. There are a lot of fine bloggers out there, people who actually have something to say, and are saying it better than I ever could.  

On the flip side, my gaming group did just recently finished up our steam punk mini-campaign using the Cyberpunk rules. I  have taken ahold of the GM reins again and am now getting ready to run a Call of Cthulhu campaign, nominally called Arkham Heat. So there will be some dice chucking goodness to report on in the near future. I dunno, I just don't really have the drive to do it anymore. Mostly it comes down to time. Can I make the time? Sure, but theres just so many other things that seem to be demanding my time these days it a little over whelming.

So If I do get back to blogging it will most likely be only a few times a week. More if I feel like I have something to say and have the time to say it. But I do hope that the stuff I wrote in the past was interesting, useful, or enjoyable. If you did miss this blog and there was something you liked about it drop me a line in the comments and let me know. Perhaps, it will help me get past the WALL.