Saturday, December 31, 2011

King of Tokyo

The big winner this Christmas, game wise, is King of Tokyo. This game first came to my notice when I read a post on GeekDad. My youngest is a big fan of the original King Kong and Godzilla. So I thought this would be a great game for him. And it is.
In King of Tokyo you are a giant monster on the rampage in Japan. Your goal is to either wreck a large portion of Tokyo or destroy the other monsters. You do this by accumulating 20 victory points or reducing the health of the other monsters to zero. This is a dice driven game that uses six special dice to determine how much damage you do to other monsters, how many victory points you gain and how many energy points you get. Energy points allow you to buy cards that give you special monster powers such as Solar Powered which allows you to gain an energy point if you don't have any. There is a small game board which shows Tokyo. A monster is either in Tokyo or not and only one monster can be in Tokyo at a time (except in games with 5 or 6 players.) When in Tokyo you gain extra victory points but the downside is you become the target of all of the other monsters attacks.
All in all this is a fun game. It has a heavy random component with the dice but there is some strategy involved. Mainly, whether to stay in Tokyo or bail. Everyone in my family enjoys playing including my wife who is often reluctant to play board games.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tsunami Inspiration

Here are two photos of creatures washed up in Japan by the tsunami. They look like something out of a science fiction/horror story. I bet I could work these into a game.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Yep, if Calvin can call it loot, so can I. I received two game related items this year. I received a hardback copy of Stars Without Number. I also received and expansion to the Small World board game.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Hope you get everything you desire.

(For more CalvIn and Hobbes fun see here.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Homecoming of Count Inchiostro

Hey, if you haven't already, do yourself a favor and check out G-Man's BoL adventures over at Strange Stones. They're like a free Christmas present to yourself.

The latest installment is another Hyborian adventure entitled The Homecoming of Count Inchiostro. Count Inchiostro is a dispossessed Zingaran noble looking to reclaim his heritage. But, of course, he needs the PC's help to do this. Inchiostro has a resemblance to a certain historical literary character of a semi-comical nature. The adventure itself, though, is far from comical. It is rather gritty and has an appropriate ending for this type of adventure.

G-Man has scored again with this adventure.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Brothers Two

Twins Arbelo and Karnelo Shirz were the sons of a prosperous merchant from Parsool. The merchant loved his family dearly and often took the boys and his wife on the sea voyages he made in the pursuit of business. He did this despite the danger of shipwreck and pirates. The odds finally caught up with the merchant when two pirate ships successfully attacked his vessel. The pirates captured the ship and murdered the merchant before the horrified eyes of his family. When splitting up the loot, one pirate captain took the boys as slaves and the other took their young and attractive mother. They never saw her again. Life was rough for the boys but they soon adapted and began to thrive. Over the years the boys learned all the pirates could teach them about seamanship and ship handling. They became excellent seaborne fighters, both with ships and hand weapons. The experience, however, affected each of them differently. Arbelo developed a deep, unquenchable hatred for pirates. Karnelo came to identify with them and grew to love the life. So much so that seven years later, when the opportunity to escape presented itself, Karnelo chose to stay with the pirates. He continued to distinguish himself and within 10 years he had his own ship and crew and earned the nickname “The Scourge of the Sea.” Arbelo made his way back to Parsool and joined the navy. He also quickly rose in rank and by age 22 became the youngest captain in the fleet and was soon known as “The Pirate’s Bane.” The brothers eventually became entangled in a cat-and-mouse game as Arbelo attempted to capture his brother. The stage is set. What will happen? Will filial love save the day or will tragedy consume them?

Arbelo Shirz
“The Pirate’s Bane”

Attributes: Strength 1 Agility 2 Mind 1 Appeal 0
Combat Abilities: Brawl 1 Melee 2 Missile 0 Defense 1
Careers: Merchant 0 Slave 0 Seaman 2 Soldier 2
Boons: Born Sailor, Pirate Killer
Flaws: Missing Eye
Lifeblood 11 Hero Points 5

Karnelo Shirz
“Scourge of the Sea”

Attributes: Strenth 1 Agility 1 Mind 1 Appeal 1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 2 Melee 1 Missle 1 Defense 0
Careers: Merchant 0 Slave 0 Seaman 2 Pirate 2
Boons: Born Sailor
Lifeblood 11 Hero Points 5

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Seriously, I didn't know this character was named Porkins. That just cracks me up.

(I love the "Porkins is my Co-Pilot" over at What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse... blog.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas List 2011 Revised

Oh, I thought of a couple of things:

Barbarians of Lemuria - I would love a hard copy.
Stars Without Number - It's time to look at another sf game.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas List 2011

So, my list of greed, er, my Christmas list is short this year. At the moment I can't think of any RPGs I'm really yearning to have. A few board games perhaps, but not RPGs. If I think of something I will add to this post later.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Brave and the Bold

So, I didn't watch Batman the Brave and the Bold much until recently. When I saw the first episode I thought it was goofy. But it grew on me. Now I really like it. And I caught the last episode last night. And it made me sad for some reason.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Zoltan Zo the Man Hunter

Zoltan Zo is the sixth son of the legendary Zollo Zo of Satarla. As such, he was raised in the lap of luxury and, having no real responsibilities, found his passion and his outlet in hunting. He devoted his life to this pursuit. He didn’t approach hunting in the same way many of the wealthy did, that is, with a huge retinue of professional hunters, brush beaters and servants. He preferred to go it alone or with just a few select companions. He also preferred the spear to the bow. He liked to make his kills up close with the beast’s breath blowing in his face. He became good, very good. He is reputed to be the best hunter alive and his record backs ups the statement. He has chased and killed nearly every major game animal and predator in Lemuria. The more dangerous the better. However, he eventually became jaded and bored. After killing his fifth deodarg single-handedly, he realized that there weren’t any challenges left. He had done it all. His mania for hunting was such that he needed ever greater challenges. Then he thought of the most dangerous of all prey: Humans. However, after abducting and hunting a couple of peasants he realized the unskilled were also no challenge. He soon began kidnapping professional hunters that he despised and hunting them. Most of this was done in secrecy and if any information or hints of impropriety did leak, the influence of Zoltan’s father kept his son safe from any official notice. Zollo was not aware of his son’s activities but wise men did not cross Zollo, so no one dared accuse his son. Eventually, however, Zoltan made a mistake. The second greatest hunter in the land was a nephew of Davym Tarv, the king of Satarla. An attempt to abduct this nephew was foiled and one of the kidnappers told all to the torturers in an attempt to save his own life. Zoltan got wind of his coming arrest and absconded with a sizable chunk of his fathers wealth to a fortified hunting camp deep in the Jungles of Qush. In his arrogance he issued an open challenge to anyone brave or foolhardy enough to try to catch him: “Come get me.”

Fired by greed for the treasure, many, both singly and in groups, have attempted to apprehend or kill him. None have succeeded.

Zoltan Zo The Manhunter

"There is no escape.  I will find you no matter where you hide."

Attributes: Strength 1 Agility 4 Mind 1 Appeal 1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 0 Melee 4 Missile 1 Defense 1
Careers: Noble 1 Hunter 5
Boons: Great Wealth, Jungle Tracker, Keen Hearing
Flaws: Arrogant, Morgazzon’s Curse (Hunting)
Lifeblood 11 Hero Points 5
Equipment: Finely crafted hunting spear

Although this character is created for the world of Lemuria, the character is easily transferred to other settings. I can think of several ways to get the characters involved. Simple greed is the first. Zollo could commission the characters to either capture his son or recover a particularly prized possession that Zoltan stole. The king might (actually probably would) put a large bounty on his head. Or, prior to the discoveries of his activities, Zoltan abducts the characters and they become his prey.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Honor & Intrigue

For those of you who may not have heard there is going to be a new Barbarians of Lemuria based game. It is called Honor & Intrigue. It is to be a swashbuckling game in mode of the Three Musketeers. Chris Rutkowsky, he of BASH! fame, is the author and it will be put out by Basic Action Games.

This game looks like it will be a fun addition to the Barbarians family. And, being the fan that I am of the system I am sure I will get it. The question is, do I pre-order, or get it later?

If you are interested in it here are some links:

Basic Action Games website page. thread.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dicey Cowboy

Abe Smith was born in 1870 in Ohio but moved West as a child. He experienced much of the tumult of that era. He knew gunfighters and warriors, settlers and sawbones. He also saw the closing of the frontier and the death of the Wild West. He worked many jobs in his youth: Cowboy, soldier in the Spanish American War, roughneck, prospector and even did some railroad work. Now in his sixties he is still a leathery tough and likes to play up his connection to the Old West through his mannerism and speech patterns and he certainly never turns away a whiskey. As a result he’s managed to get himself a job as a wrangler and sometimes technical advisor for a movie company that produces B grade cowboy shoot-’em up motion pictures. He has even had a few bit parts in the films as an extra. But that’s coming to an end soon. The movie company has fallen on hard times and he has received his layoff notice. What adventures are ahead of him?

Abe Smith

“Yep, I knew both Wyatt Earp and John Wesley Hardin!”

Strength 1
Agility 2
Mind 0
Appeal 1

Brawl 2
Melee 0
Ranged 2
Defense 0

Cowboy 2
Soldier 1
Laborer 1
Prospector 1

Lifeblood 11
Hero Points 5

Cast Iron Guts
Fist Fighter



Six Shooter
Cowboy Hat
Fancy Cowboy Boots

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Castles and Crusades

I've never given much thought to Castles and Crusades. With all the other D&D clones/retroclones around, many of them for free, I didn't feel the need to part with the money. Now, though, DriveThruRPG is have a half off sale on Troll Lord Game products. Two of the three main rulebooks are half off. (They aren't discounting the Castle Keeper's Guide.) But I can get two for under $10.

So, does anyone have any experience with C&C? Good? Bad? Mediocre? Like? Dislike? Ambivalent?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dicey Characters

I have long planned to write a comprehensive, witty and incisive review of Dicey Tales. Due to my busy schedule and and general laziness when not busy, this hasn't happened. I have had to finally admit to myself that it is not going to happen. So, instead, here is a quick overview of the first issue of Dicey Tales and a couple of characters I created using its guidelines.

Dicey Tales is a periodical written and published by the Evil DM himself, Jeff Mejia. It is dedicated to supplementary materials for my favorite game Barbarians of Lemuria. The first issue covers 1930's pulp adventure and adventurers. It gives modified or new careers and boons for characters as well rules for firearms. It also covers magic and psychic abilities appropriate to the genre. The 85 page PDF (now available in hard copy as well) concludes with two nifty adventures heavy in pulp atmosphere so you can jump right into the action. It is my understanding that Future issues will cover different pulp genres such as science fiction and have other writers in addition to Mr. Mejia. It is also my understanding that this project has the blessing of Simon Washbourne, the creator of BoL. I really like this issue of Dicey Tales and am looking forward eagerly to future copies.

So, now the characters:

Carter Creek was a petty criminal in his youth. But not a very skilled one. Caught one too many times, the judge gave him a choice between prison or the military. Carter chose the military. Being a tough kid he managed to wrangle his way into the Marines. He became an excellent Marine and served with distinction in the Banana Wars of the ‘20s. It was during his service in Central America that he first heard rumors of lost cities and ancient treasures. When he mustered out eight years later he worked various manual labor jobs but quickly became dissatisfied with his lot. Using money he had saved during his military service, supplemented by his day job, he began to get an education. He was still captivated by the tales he had heard in the Marines and chose to study history. After years of study, he finally received his degree. Since then Carter has spent every possible moment scouring the jungles and hillsides of Central America, searching for treasure and always finding adventure.

Carter Creek

Strength 1
Agility 1
Mind 2
Appeal 0

Brawl 1
Melee 0
Ranged 2
Defence 1

Criminal 0
Soldier 2
Laborer 1
Scholar 1

Lifeblood 11
Hero Points 5

Crack Shot (Rifle)
Just the Thing


Various equipment related to jungle expeditions.

Patrick Kelly grew up in a family of cops. His father is a cop, his uncles on both sides are cops, his brothers are cops. He never wanted to be anything but a cop. He didn’t even cross his mind that he could be anything else. It was a proud day for him when, surrounded by family, he became a cop. It wasn’t until then that the trouble began. You see, he believed the pious mouthing of his family. The words he had heard since he was a child: Honesty, Integrity, Service. He believed in those things. He was incorruptible and became quickly disillusioned. He saw the petty criminal activities of his fellow officers and became disgusted. It caused friction when he wouldn’t partake of the kickbacks and petty briberies that was the lifeblood and spending money of the rank and file.. He refused to take his share of the larger paydays that sometimes trickled down from the captains and lieutenants. It was rough but he stood steadfast. That is until his father came to talk to him about the trouble he was causing. It was in this way that he discovered his father and the rest of his family participated in the corruption. This broke him. He resigned, disavowed his family and began drinking heavily. He wandered and worked odd jobs, eventually becoming part of the crew of a tramp freighter. But he had copper in his blood. He eventually went back to the corrupt city of his youth, partially reconciled with his family and became a private detective. He hoped that he could do at least a little good in that capacity.

Patrick Kelly

Strength 1
Agility 1
Mind 1
Appeal 1

Brawl 1
Melee 1
Ranged 1
Defence 1

Police Officer 1
Laborer 1
Sailor 1
Private Detective 1

Lifeblood 11
Hero Points 5

Cast Iron Gut
Serious Backup (His family and by extention, the police)



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nook Books

I may have mentioned (or maybe not) that I received a Nook Color as an anniversary gift. I have some books, I've put some of my gaming PDFs onto it, it does light web browsing decently, has a few apps. In general I like it. Last night, on a whim, I did a search on RPG and role playing games in the Nook bookstore. And I'll be damned if there weren't some listed. It looks like Lulu has made some electronic copies of RPGs available for download. Including a few games by Simon Washbourne. I don't know if they are available for the Kindle or other formats but it was a pleasant surprise. Maybe others knew about this but I didn't.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Marvel Super Heroes RPG D6

I ran across something interesting in my travels through the interwebs. Someone has done a d6 conversion of the classic TSR Marvel Super Heroes RPG. The document is 18 pages long and states it is not a complete game. You will need a copy of the D6 Adventures book. It tries to adhere closely to the MSH rules and feel but I can't really comment because I don't have any real experience with MSH.

You can find the d6 MSH and other Open D6 material, including the D6 Adventure book, here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crimson Shoals

When I heard that G-Man was going to create a Barbarians of Lemuria adventure set in the Hyborian Age of Robert E. Howard, I was excited. I have very much enjoyed his previous adventures and since Hyboria is one of my favorite literary settings I figured that it would be a great adventure. My excitement wasn't misplaced, it is a great little adventure.

The characters are the survivors of a ship that wrecked off the coast of Shem. They discover two ships on a nasty reef that seems to draw ships towards itself. As usual I don't want to give much away but the adventure involves pirates, treasure, Stygians and magic foul. As is his practive, G-man has included several helpful appendixes. These include the full stats for important npc's, random treasure tables and pregenerated characters that can be used for the adventure. The last appendix branches out and includes the full stats for the npc's for the Basic Roleplaying.

I really like this adventure and appreciate that G-Man shares the results of his labors with the rest of us. Crimson Shoals would work great as a one-shot or as the springboard for further adventuring in the Hyborian world. Also, Hyboria is a perfect setting for BoL. If you are a fan of the game or the fiction, I believe will enjoy this adventure. I only hope G-Man has the time to create another adventure in this setting.

Edit: You can find the PDF here.

I snagged the artwork from the cover. It is again the work of Floyd Thompson, III.

Batman: Lovers and Madmen

Warning! This post contains spoilers! Key plot points are revealed below!

OK. You've been warned. Batman: Lovers and Madmen is set early in Batman's career. He is feeling a bit smug because he has cleaned up Gotham and the streets are safe again. He knew ability applied correctly, logically would win the day. But then a new criminal appears. A man called Jack. Logic does not apply to him. His crimes and murders, though they could be well planned, are, in a word, crazy. Batman has troubles dealing with this. Logic does not apply. At the same time, Bruce Wayne, seeking balance in his life, begins a relationship with a beautiful museum guide. Of course the two parts of his life collide and Jack gravely wounds the woman. Batman stays with her instead of chasing Jack. But Batman wounds Jack on both cheeks with his razor sharp batarangs to let him know it is not over.

Batman is at a loss. His logical style of crime fighting is not succeeding against Jack. Batman is feeling inadequate, feeling like a failure. He comes to the conclusion that the only way to deal with Jack is to remove him. Permanently. Not being able to do the deed himself, Batman uses his contacts with the underworld to put a hit on Jack. Even other criminals dislike Jack. Well, the hit fails, Jack falls into a vat of pharmaceuticals and becomes the Joker. Batman has created a creature even more monstrous than Jack was. In order to focus on his quest to eradicate evil and not endanger loved ones, Bruce Wayne plays the cad and breaks off his relationship with the woman.

My verdict? I hated this graphic novel. Hated? Maybe despised is a better world.

And of course, I will tell you why:

I can accept Batman in his many versions. Dedicated Batman. Scary Batman. Genius Batman. Techno Batman. Hardcore Batman. Slightly unbalanced Batman. Even funny Batman. But the one thing Batman despises is killing. And this version of Batman takes out a freakin' hit on Jack! I cannot swallow this and reject it. Even in The Dark Knight Returns where Batman is the direct cause of the grievous wounding and perhaps the death of at least one criminal, he does not actively seek the death of the criminals. In fact one of the moral choices Batman faces is whether to kill the Joker or not..

So, despite the excellent characterization of Jack/the Joker as a psychotic, I cannot and will not enjoy this book because, in my opinion, it does not stay true to the essence of the character of Batman.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Watch Out!

Saw this over on I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters... and for some reason this really strike a cord with me. Maybe it has something to do with turning a paradigm on its head.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Still Here

I'm still around. I have a couple of mini-reviews I want to write but haven't had the time. Soon. Soon. (So I keep telling myself.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beyond Belief Games Website

Simon Washbourne has set up a website for his his game company Beyond Belief Games. It is your basic website with descriptions of his games and a few freebies. Amongst the current freebies is the complete Medieval Mysteries and Lashing the Ginger Beer games.

Thanks Simon.

Monday, June 20, 2011

G-Man's Lovecraftian BoL Adventure Trilogy

I’ve completed my read through of G-Man’s third installment of Lovecraftian adventures for Barbarians of Lemuria. (You can find the other posts here and here.) This adventure is called Children of the Void. I enjoyed this adventure as much as the other two. It has a similarly strange atmosphere and creepy bits. It comes in at 11 pages, which includes a nice appendix covering spells appropriate for the adventure. And it has maps. Once again, I don’t want to give the little (or not so little) surprises away so won’t comment more on the content.

Of the trilogy, I like The Sea Devil’s Debutante the best. The others are great but for some reason Debutante resonates with me the most.

G-Man has stated that he is working on a Hyborian adventure for BoL and, frankly, I’m having troubles waiting. G-Man is a creative individual who did such good work with these three Lovecraft flavored treats that I really would like to see what he can do in the world of Conan. When I think of BoL, I think of Conan so these should be right up my alley.

The three adventures can be found here. And once again the evocative front piece was done by Floyd Thompson III.

You can find all three adventures here. The material is hosted at Strange Stones. Check it out. It has some cool materials beyond G-Man's stuff.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Sea-Devil's Debutante

The Sea-Devil's Debutante is another atmospheric adventure for Barbarians of Lemuria by the talented G-Man.

The beautiful Clarisse Strangtham, scion of the mysterious, waterloving Strangtham clan, has come of age and is looking for a husband. So the Strangthams throw a party on their floating mansion to select the bridegroom. But all is not as it seems.

I won't say more so as to not ruin the surprises for potential players.

I very much like this scenario and how it is written. The author offers several potential hooks for getting the players involved. He sketches out the main npc's in enough details so you have a sense of what they are like. I particularly like the first of the two appendices. Appendix A details Strangtham family artifacts that can be potentially found in the mansion and used by or against the players. They can also be stolen and/or modified for other adventures.

If you are looking for a (self-labeled) Lovecraftian style adventure for BoL, look no further.

The gracious Venomous Pao is hosting the document over at his blog Strange Stones. You can find the 13 page adventure itself on this page along with other adventures for BoL and different systems. The artwork is from the first page of the document and was done by Floyd Thompson III.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Robert E. Howard

I just finished reading The Phoenix on the Sword by Robert E. Howard. It reminded that he is a very entertaining writer. I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

However, I have a love/hate relationship with Howard. And it really isn’t his fault. When I was a teenager I had two favorite writers: Howard and H. Beam Piper. (Of course my little teenaged mind thought it was of great significance that they both died by their own hands.) They are no longer my two favorite writers but they are in my top ten list. Then I started reading opinions and analyses of Howard and his works. My problem are the defenders and apologists of Robert E. Howard’s reputation and legacy. The vociferous levels of rhetoric that sometimes accompany discussions about his works is off-putting. If seems that Conan can’t be mentioned without someone excoriating L. Sprague de Camp, analyzing Howard’s psychological state at the time of his suicide or generally arguing that Howard was the best writer EV-AR.

I was letting these things get in the way of my enjoyment of the stories. And this is really too bad because not only do I enjoy the stories but I really like to game in the type of milieu that Howard created with Hyboria. I think I am over this now. I realized that people have taken these adventure stories and their author much to seriously. I just need to enjoy the stories and ignore the rest. And I need to find a sword & sorcery game to play in.

(I will make one comment, however, and this is more a reflection on me than anything else.. I grew up reading the de Camp edited stories and, frankly, if you set them down in front of me side by side I don’t think I would be able to tell the difference. Anyways, my two cents.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Scribblenauts and Cthulhu

My boys enjoy a Nintendo DS game called Scribblenauts. Well, my son would correct me. He actually plays Super Scribblenauts, the second game in the series. Well, this is a puzzle type game where you can write the name of an object or person and it will appear in the game. Then your little character can interact with it. I haven't played it but it seems like a fun little game that poses challenges for the young lads' imagination.

Much to my surprise my oldest told me that he had summoned this creature called Cthulhu. What? I described Cthulhu and he said that it was indeed the creature he had in the game. He then showed me and sure enough there was a little cartoon Cthulhu. He also mentioned the Necronomicon being in the game.

Once again I was astounded. Talk about video games warping the minds of our youths. That, however, is a post for another time.

He asked me how I knew about Cthulhu. I explained what little I know about H. P. Lovecraft, his stories and the Mythos in general. I'm not a huge fan of Lovecraft so the discussion was pretty limited. I did mention, almost as an afterthought, that there is a roleplaying game called Call of Cthulhu. He immediately decided he wanted to play CoC. I don't have CoC let alone any BRP materials other than the free quick start rules. So I printed out the CoC quick start rules and had him read them. So we are going to play at least one session of Call of Cthulhu. I never imagined I would. I have come up with an age appropriate scenario so away we go.

I hope we both keep our sanity!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Risus Esperanto

I knew Risus had been translated into several languages other than English. I did not know until recently that Esperanto was one of them. I think this is great!
You can find it at S. John Ross' website here.
There is another link here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fuzzy Nation

As I’ve mentioned before, H. Beam Piper is on my all time favorite author list. I’ve always wanted to play in a game set in one of his worlds, either the Paratime stories or the Federation/Empire timeline. I have, however, neglected one portion of the Federation/Empire stories. I have only read Little Fuzzy once about twenty years ago. Now, John Scalzi, another author I have come to like, has written a book called Fuzzy Nation. It is my understanding that it is a retelling of Little Fuzzy. So, I am now starting my first re-read of Little Fuzzy. Then I will need to read Fuzzy Nation. And of course compare and contrast.

I haven’t been overly thrilled with Piper sequels written by other hands. Great King’s War written by John Carr and Roland Green did not really live up to the original. It wasn’t a bad book; I just didn’t enjoy it nearly as Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen. Carr has written several more sequels that I have not even attempted to read. There is at least on Fuzzy book written by another author that I have ignored also.

So, some of my future reading list is now determined. And I need to work up some Piper gaming material for my son.

Oh, and I still think George Lucas owes Piper’s estate large sums of money for ripping off Piper’s idea for Return of the Jedi.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Modern Day Retroclone?

My son said the other day, "Wouldn't it be fun if there was a D&D set in modern times? You could take on a dragon a lot sooner with guns." I thought it would be fun. Though I contend that any dragons left around would be even more cunning and powerful in order to survive modern weapons.

This got me thinking about retroclones. We enjoy Labyrinth Lord and I know there are at least two science fiction retroclones (pseudoclones?) as well as one set in a post-apocolypse world but I've have yet to run across one set in contemporary times. I've done a few searches and haven't found one. Does such a thing exist?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Zarand Zin

Zarand Zin was born to a poor family struggling to get by in the big city of Parsool. His parents died of a plague when he was eight and his hardscrabble life became even more difficult. He came to resent the mockery and disdain of those with money and leisure and became angry at the great disparities of wealth that manifested itself in Parsool He tried to support himself through odd jobs and begging but on many occasions had to resort to thievery. He became adept at sleight of hand and misdirection and became an accomplished pick-pocket. As a result, he came to the attention of an elderly street magician who saw in Zarand the potential for a great entertainer. This made life slighty better but again entertainers aren’t held in the highest esteem in Parsool. The old fellow taught Zarand a few minor magical tricks as part of his training, which he used to enhance his stage show. One night Zarand nearly burned down the hovel he lived in while practicing the torch lighting trick he had learned. Instead of producing a small flame as usually happened, a sheet of flames erupted from his fingers. The accompanying surge of power he felt opened a new world for him. He knew now that he could work powerful magics and that, with the right training, he could change his station in life. And for Zarand, there was only one place to reach his full potential: The Isle of Thule where the dark magicians practiced their arts. The resentment that was always bubbling under the surface finally burst forth. He sought out the first rich person he could find in the gathering darkness and attempted to cut his purse. However, the nobleman noticed and called for his bodyguard. Zarand, desperate, slipped the knife into the man’s ribs and fled into the alleys with the money. He had never resorted to violence in a robbery attempt before. He immediately bought himself passage to Thule.

Now, fifteen years later, Zarand Zin has reappeared. His dark masters have sent him on a mission to recover an artifact of great power. What it is and where it is located nobody knows. But the one thing that is apparent is that Zarand Zin is a changed man. He is dressed in the finest of silks and travels with servants who do his every bidding. His equipment is abundant and is of the finest quality. It is also easy to see that the darkness in his soul has consumed him and an unholy fire burns in his eye. Zarand Zin is now a force to be reckoned with and the world had better beware.

Zarand Zin
Strength 0
Agility 1
Mind 3
Appeal 0

Brawl 1
Melee 0
Ranged 0
Defence 3

Begger 0
Entertainer 1
Magician 2
Thief 0

Lifeblood 10
Hero Points 5


Lemurian (Literate)
Sorceric (Written)
Ygddari (Literate)


City Dweller

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Unholy Greyl - A BoL Adventure

The Unholy Greyl is a Barbarians of Lemuria adventure by a fellow called G-Man that is being hosted over at Strange Stones. It runs 9 pages and is filled with BoL goodness. The Unholy Greyl has all the classic sword & sorcery qualities and as a result it hits all the right notes for me. It is atmospheric, set in a strange, mysterious locale, there is a lost and degenerate race, greed, slavery, and sorcery strange. The adventure has a definite terminus but the author also gives the GM a lot of flexibility and room to customize or randomize aspects of the scenario. It also includes an adventure seed that could lead the players further into the dar forest.

I don't want to give much more away, so suffice it to say that if you are a fan of BoL then I think you will like this adventure. Oh, and it's free!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Impulse Buys

I purchased two games today on a whim. I am now the proud owner of Tombs & Terrors and G-Core. I got both from DriveThruRpg in PDF.

I'm a big fan of Simon Washbourne's work so I couldn't pass on Tombs & Terrors. I appears to be his contribution to the world of retro-clones.

G-Core is an update and simplification of the FASERIP system. No chart, apparently. The core rules are superhero focused but there are supplements that expand play into other genres. When I get to reading them I'll pass on what I think.

Oh. Total cost: $5.00

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ranks of Bronze

I read many of David Drake’s stories in my youth and they had an effect on me in the realm of gaming. They fired my imagination and made me want to play in one of his worlds. I would like to highlight a couple of these stories in a series of posts over the next several weeks.

First up: “Ranks of Bronze”

“Ranks of Bronze” is a serious contender for the top spot on my list of favorite short stories of all time. It is the story of the tribune Gaius Vibulenus and the other legionary survivors of Crassus’ disastrous war against Parthia. After the legions were destroyed the Parthians sold the survivors into slavery. The buyers, however, were not of this Earth. The galactic Federation has laws against using advanced technology against the indigenous people of the planets the merchants want to exploit. That’s where the legionaries come into it. They are the ones sent down to the surface and kick the locals’ butts so the merchants can make a buck.

“Ranks of Bronze” was first published in magazine form in 1975 and I first read it in a short story collection in the early ‘80s. It isn’t a very long story, only taking up about 14 pages in paperback form. And the story only covers the events of one battle. To top it off it isn’t a completely original idea. Andre Norton wrote Star Guard a considerable time before “Ranks of Bronze” saw print. And it is written in present tense, which I despise. The story so grips me and my imagination that it doesn’t matter.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who really like the story. Jim Baen eventually persuaded Drake to write a novel expanding the story of the legionaries. I read this in the mid-80s but I don’t remember being particularly impressed by it.

Fast forward another 15 years and the demand for stories set in the Ranks of Bronze universe continued. Baen kept pressing for a sequel to the novel but Drake kept resisting. As something of a compromise, Drake agreed to contribute a story to a collection of stories written by others. Thus was born Foreign Legions. It contains the original short story in addition to five new ones. This is a volume I also enjoy very much. The tales within don’t elicit the same wonder in me as the original story but they are very entertaining and in some ways wrap up the loose ends of the universe. Not only that but David Weber took his short story “Sir George and the Dragon” and expanded it into a novel called The Excalibur Alternative. This I haven’t read.

So, if nothing else I suggest you track down the original short story. It is a good read. I’ll continue dreaming of the day I can be a player in a game based in this universe.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Me and my oldest managed to play a bit of Super!. Currently, the super-villains in the Stronghold are attempting a mass breakout and all the heroes in Supersville are trying to contain it, including my character Concrete. If I may say, Concrete is kicking some villain rear.

But that is not what I want to write about. Someday I would really like to play in a dark, gritty campaign. Something like Powers. Powers was created and is produced by Brian Michael
Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. It is the story of Christian Walker, a detective with a special
homicide unit that deals with the murder of powers. Powers are the super-powered individuals of the world. (Really? You must be kidding!) Be they hero or villain, their deaths must be investigated. This is a dark world. Gangsters with powers, morally ambiguous heroes with
powers and so forth. The issues are filled with graphic violence, foul language and sex. I don't like some of the plot twists that have been introduced but that is a personal preference, not a reflection on the quality of the work. I've only read the collections, which start with Who Killed Retro Girl?, so that might contribute to my confusion.

If you like your comics rougher than your average fare, give Powers a try.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tower of the Elephant

One of the first adventures I gm'd for Barbarians of Lemuria was a very rough adaptation of Howard's Tower of the Elephant. Well, on one of the threads on I ran across a nice resource. It is actually an adaptation of an adventure on the the Hyborian Age website. This site is focused on the world REH created for Conan for the D20 player. Maxwell Luther took the D20 Tower of the Elephant adventure and converted it to BoL! It's pretty cool. I think I may run this as a one shot just for the heck of it. You can find the BoL version here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

I dislike New Year's resolutions and do not usually make them. Maybe because I do such a poor job of keeping them.

So, I will not make any New Year's resolutions but I will set myself a couple of gaming and blog related goals.

  1. Post more.
  2. Post more characters, particularly for Barbarians of Lemuria. I frequently come up of with characters for BoL but fail to write them down. In fact, I would like, someday, to write fantasy and SF stories (of course, I've been saying that for twenty years, see what I mean about resolutions.) I immediately began thinking of the latest character to spring into my head for a fantasy story in BoL terms. I find it BoL great for developing the personality and back story of fictional beings.
  3. Play more. I frequently think and write about rpg's but play them entirely to little.
So, there are a few goals for 2011. Wish me luck.