Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dave's not here, man (a prelude to an adventure)

Ready to roll, +Shawn Sanford. Something to work from. I'm not sure what the adventure involves (only have read the back cover blurb), but this should take it in the right direction.

Ever since the collapse of Emirikol's tower, Kormaki had felt listless, a sense of pervasive dread and impending doom filling his waking moments. His brush with his deities had, on balance, been something other than what he'd ever expected, and certainly nothing he would wish for. Even the arms of Wendylita, the High Priestess of the Metal Gods' Iron Cathedral brought him little comfort. For a time, he sought refuge in drink. It didn't work. So he drank some more, and stonger stuff. All that bought him were hangovers and blank places where his memories should be, and bruises and scrapes where his skin should be. When his brothers and sisters in the Divine Order asked him what troubled him, he had no real answer. Nothing did. Everything did. He didn't want to talk about it.

After several weeks of this pathetic crap, Kormaki discovered, quite by chance, that he still had one more dose of the Purple Tentacle. He'd first encountered this substance back in the days when he'd just started adventuring with the Order, back before the Order even had a name. There had been a well, but not an ordinary well. When they'd approached it, they'd been attacked by some hideous beast from beyond space and time. They'd sent the bastard packing, of course, but it had left behind the tip of one of its purple tentacles. Long story short, they decided to see if it had any special properties... particularly psychoactive properties, and... well, yeah... they got totally high. Hey, man, it was the Seventies; it was a crazy time. They'd seen visions of things and places beyond the realms of their imagination, and it changed their perspective on the world around them. From this communion was born the Divine Order of the Purple Tentacle. But here was one last dose... "What the hell," he muttered, and drained the vial in an instant, chasing it with moonshine.

Perhaps hell-beasts from beyond space and time age differently than creatures of this plane. Perhaps substances derived of them do, as well. Whatever might be true, the Purple Tentacle had somehow become even more potent with age. Kormaki's mind was transported to every place, and every time. He watched the march of history from its beginning to end, and witnessed, first-hand, each of his lives upon this world, past, present, and future. Whole universes were birthed and then died, and he was witness to every moment, every tiny detail. Everything was born. Everything lived, Everything died. Everything was born again, lived again, died again, over and over and over. After a while the details began to blur into formlessness, and only the recurring patterns remained viable: Birth-Life-Death, all connected, with no beginning and no end.

Kormaki awoke, many hours later, his head hazy, his body weakened from the Tentacle's effects, remembering virtually nothing of his visions, but muttering to himself, over and over, like a mantra, "Deathisnotfinaldeathisnotfinaldeathisnotfinaldeathisnotfinal..." He blinked his eyes, and rubbed the crud out of them. Reaching for the whiskey bottle to wash the foul taste form his mouth, he suddenly was confronted with a moment of absolute clarity: a vision of Dave Filth's final moments, right before, during, and after he was sucked into that wizard's accursed jewel, and lost forever.

In that moment, everything clicked into place. Death is not the end, but only the beginning. Thus it only stood to reason that Kormaki's duty to his flock, even if that flock was only a gongfarmer-turned-warrior and a newly-frocked member of the cult of the Metal Gods, also had no end... They were brothers to death, through death, and from death, onward. And in that moment, he found a new purpose. He would confront Death itself, if need be... but Dave Filth would live again.

Filled with righteous certainty, Kormaki readied himself, donning mail and taking up axe, he hit the streets to look for those who might join him. They'd have to be brave, or fools, or both. As he strode down the filthy streets, guided by his idiot vision, a lost hymn was revealed to him, and so he knew he was on the right path. Though it led to death itself, it was the only path to take.

So we bravely gather, though we moan with dread,
Do you see before you, the Kingdom of the Dead?

Monday, August 25, 2014


I've been a participant in +Shawn Sanford's ongoing DCC RPG FLAILSNAILS campaign for probably something over a year, now. Shawn runs a great game, and his skills as a judge, combined with his reliability in running sessions, are things that have kept me coming back for more. This game also has given me a chance to play in a variety of published DCC RPG modules, which I really don't get to do as often as you might think, and certainly not as much as I would like to. He has hinted that he might be on the verge of exposing us to some original, sandbox play and Sanford-authored adventures, which I would love to try out, but we'll see what happens with that in a couple of weeks. For now, let me tell you about the last session.

At the last cliffhanger, the party (most of us below the recommended level) had killed two wizards, including Emirikol and his rival, Leotah (sp.?). I was pretty sure we'd die in that session, but not so. That put my cleric, Kormaki Lemmisson, right on the cusp of 4th level, a place I never thought to see. We still needed to survive one more session for him to make the jump, though.

We began by looting the wizard's bedroom/study. Found some pretty good stuff in there, including a lot of actual gold and gems. Mat's wizard gained a bitchin' cape of protection against magic, plus 2. Then we went through a portal to what seemed to be Emirikol's "panic room." It was chock full of iron golems and a black gem that zapped us repeatedly with harmful magics. Chris's Dyer Halfling managed to spider climb up to the ceiling, and dropped about 30 feet to double stab it. Double crits! He smashed the gem... and himself. Tried to heal him, but failed. Then, the tower started shaking. Self-destruct mode initiated, apparently. Time to bail! We fled to the previous room, presumably the top of the tower.

Once there, we had two options: Leap through the black portal that Leotah had used when she'd arrived, earlier; or, we could brave the non-Euclidean geometries of the tower, and not die in the process. There was a lot of falling stone happening, and I was not convinced that we could find our way out. That tower was confusing. Given that we didn't have any idea how long we had, I opted (along with Chris and one other person--Mat, I think) to leap into the black portal. It was... a mistake. We suddenly found ourselves 120 feet above the pavement. Shawn advised us to get ready to roll 12d6 damage. Instead, I called upon the Metal Gods, asking for for divine intervention. Chris burned his luck down to the minimum to aid the cause. I burned mine too, and the roll was a 37. Shawn allowed that I'd survived unscathed (as I most likely was aided by Robhal, the Metal God of flight, studded leather, and steel). Chris and (I think) Mat each took some damage, but not 12d6. They survived, barely. Chris's luck will heal, at least. That's excellent. That halfling has been a godsend to this party.

So, we survived. Believe me, no one saw that coming, least of all me.

Bad things:

  • My disapproval is now going to need some serious repair. My cut of the treasure will be donated at the Iron Cathedral, when I am able. Maybe I'll blow it on Dave Filth's wake (see below).
  • My luck mod is now -3, and that's not going away any time soon. I fear it may be the death of me.
  • It's official: Barry's character, Dave Filth, is no more. When Emirikol died, we lost all hope of getting him out of that gem he got Magic Jarred into. I'll miss that guy. He was a mate to Kormaki, and we'd been through many an adventure together. I'll see that he is sent off properly at the Iron Cathedral. There will be many a tankard and bottle drained in his name, at the wake. 

Good things:

  • Kormaki is now 4th level, an Apostle. He gains one 1st and one 2nd level spell, and another hit die. He also gets a +1 bump to his Fort saves.
  • The wizard tower is now a pile of rubble. Fuck you, wizards. Eat a bag of wangs. Oh, wait, you can't. You're dead. Fine, eat them in Hell.
  • We are due some payment from the city guard for fulfilling our charge to deal with this wizard problem.

Now, all I have to do is avoid falling anvils and pianos. I have a feeling it won't be very easy, so wish me luck. It's not like I have any of my own.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Meetings with the Metal Gods: Recapping an Epic Gen-Con

People, I've seen the Promised Land. I have traveled across the hills and plains, and found Nerdvana; and it was peopled with My Folk.

I rose in the dark of the morning, and, lacking sleep did sally forth to Bush Field. There did I mount a bird whose food is flammable, whose breath is fire, whose roar is mighty, and rose we did up into the sky. A short journey ensued, to the land of Indy, ere I dismounted and, girding my loins, and taking up my pack and what small weapons and gaming stones I bore with me, strode into a new land. And, Lo! There I saw in the sky, wreathed in fire and smoke, an apparition of Chaos. 'twere the wizard +Wayne Snyder, and I recognized him instantly. Soon we were joined there, in that eyrie by others of our clan and faith: +Gabriel Perez Gallardi and +Doug Kovacs.

Doug and Wayne did depart, riding in a waiting chariot, while I and the Uruguayan, a swarthy, moustachioed  worthy of fell aspect and impeccable manners, awaited our own. Soon did arrive the hulking Pole with booming voice, +Adam Muszkiewicz to bear us away, into the heart of the city. Within mere minutes, our foe, Murphy, did strike against us, casting a spell of heat and imminent fire against the mechanical heart of the chariot, and we were forced to stop at a local oasis. There did we purchase cool drinks while the chariot cooled its temper. We provided an elixir to sooth it, and soon we were on our way, once more.

We approached the monolith, itself limned against others like it, known only as Con-Rad. In this great edifice would we lay our heads, when the opportunity for slumber came (which was not often enough). Our hosts treated us like kings, though we were but princes of the road, and unsavory to look at. It was then that I strode forth to meet the Dark Master, Good-man, who had summoned me from my lair, to bear witness to this annual ritual.

I wound my way through the labryrinth called "Sky Way," and, after many a false turn, was guided by a member of the Con Guard, to the mighty treasure house. There, I communed through the aether with the Dark Master, and he brought forth a talisman for my use. With it I could pass, then, the gate guards and enter the sanctum. Within, men and beast alike arranged in artful ways the treasure of many distant lands, each conclave of wizards within its own ritual circle. Some even did erect edifices of stone and metal to bear their banners, and the jewels of chaos gleamed under the harsh light of the weirdling suns.

Chessex dice display. Yes, I bought a lot of them. How could I not?

For the Dark Master I toiled, long into the eve, ere being granted leave to join my band, the +Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad. We gathered in the tavern of Em-Bas-E for the nightly ritual, contending there each night, our judges calling forth powers fell and terrible: Fish wizards with laser eyes, the dead ones, amazons and squid men, and Young Dave Mustaine. Many died there, from battle, from rains of acid blood, and from corruption. I slew a fish-wizard, garotting him with my sackcloth thong, though my corrupted junk had withered away (not pictured).

In the end, only one escaped from Catastrophe Island. I, however, fell to fierce and furry Chewbacca, whose luck knows no bounds. Then the gods grew weary of play, and their mortal toys were put away.

Let me tell you also of the siege of Exhibition Hall. Each day the ravening hordes did gather outside the gates, ready to sack and to pillage.

Totally ready for ravening. Take our money!
Each day we stood stalwart and steely-eyed (or bleary-eyed, depending on the previous night), behind stout ramparts of merch'.

The Goodman Games booth crew.
Top: Steve Bean, Edgar Johnson
Bottom: Michael Crane (I think?), Keith Labaw, Dieter Zimmerman
For days we were besieged, our merch stocks dwindling, until the hordes broke and retreated to their lairs. Much gold had we gained, and one Hwil Hwheaton (a.k.a. +Wil Wheaton ), skald of the Interwebz, consorted with the Dark Master and +Michael Curtis. I am told he bore from that meeting two tomes of lore. Mayhap he will sing their praises before all is said and done. 

Yeah, I missed this one. Hey, Wil, how about putting DCC RPG on Tabletop?
(Photo from DCC RPG Facebook page)
 Each day was battle and bachanal, each night too short, as we feasted and drank, well-met in taverns and great halls, telling stories, playing games, rolling dice.

Blood for the Serpent King!
Each night grew longer; each morning came earlier. But we were stalwart. Each day dawned to reveal new possibilities and new challenges. We marched on, our line unbroken, under the protection of the Metal Gods.

These are my people.
And on the last night, we met in conclave, hoisted tankards, and drank to our own health. The night was endless and too short, all at once. 

Oh, boy, did I fail my Fort save this night. Almost missed my plane.
So much happened on this campaign, too much to remember, too much to tell. But I was there, surrounded by friends, both old and new.

Joseph Goodman, Nathan Panke, Alex Mayo, Harley Stroh
I finally got to meet Jen Brinkman. She's just as good in person.
Gabriel Perez Gallardi and Wayne Snyder. Also even better in person.

The ritual is complete, the spell is cast, and circle is joined. We call into being a Purple Planet. We summon forth the Metal Gods. You will all die, and you will love it.
The wizard, Harley Stroh, and his team of badasses. We will bring forth
the Purple Planet from our fevered brains. (Photo by Wayne Snyder)
Pictured: Harley Stroh, Edgar Johnson, Doug Kovacs, Tim Callahan.
Photobombing: The rest of the Metal Gods crew.
Not pictured: Daniel J. Bishop and Terry Olson).
The final dawn it came too soon. I bolted from my pallet, reeking of the night before, stomach churning, head pounding, parched and panicked. Without even a proper fare-thee-well, I departed, borne to the hall of the great birds by a hulking black chariot. But all was not well. The bird of my desire had fallen ill, and would not be on time. I was stranded for a time in Indy, and then again in the land of Charlotte, where I bided my time on the edge of sleep and sickness, the corruption from my night's revelry roiling in my guts. Long hours did I wait, until at last I was born home upon wings of steel, to be greeted by my loving clan.  I spilled forth, then, my tale, and gave out the loot I had wrested from that foreign land. A slight repast. A sleep like death, but too short. Far too short. 

Cold morning came early (too early), whisking away half-remembered dreams. Dreams? Was it only a dream? Then how true these dreams, of people and places, and all the things we did, graven upon my heart like a poem, ringing in my mind like a song. I was there, and you were too. Our days were too long, and our hours too few. I hope that yours was just as fine, your friends and your time, as good as mine. That's all I have, and this tale is done.

Author's Note:

Thanks to everyone who made my first Gen-Con (my first gaming con of any kind!) a great one. I know I'm going to miss somebody, but here's a list:

Sadly, I will not return next year. It's at a bad time of year for me (Monday was hell, people...). However, I will attend North Texas RPG Con 2015. I hope to see at least a few old friends there as well.                      

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Off to GenCon

Oh, long suffering readers (all two of you), please forgive the radio silence. Between work on stretch goals for the inimitable +Harley Stroh's Peril on the Purple Planet, getting ready for GenCon, and getting work stuff squared away for going away this weekend, I have been neglecting the blog. I will come back soon, with reports from the hinterlands of Indianapolis.

In the meantime, I look forward with great anticipation to meeting the flesh sacks of the virtual people with whom I interact fairly frequently. The +Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad will be there, including Sr. +Gabriel Perez Gallardi, all the way from Uruguay. Cannot wait to see them.

I'll be working with Goodman Games on my first ever GenCon (and first ever gaming convention of any kind). I'll be at the booth in the exhibition hall from 10-1 on Thursday and Friday, and 10-11 on Saturday, and running games in the afternoon on those days. You will also be able to catch me at DougKon in the evenings, if you care to do so.

I've also made my reservations for North Texas RPG Con 2015, which will be my con for the foreseeable future, probably, as GaryCon and GenCon come at very awkward times of the year, work-wise. Still, the lack of sleep this weekend, the probably "con crud" I will pick up, and all the rest of the unpleasantness of travel, all of it will be worth it. My friends in the Metal Gods group are the fucking best, and the rest of the folks at Goodman Games are classy as hell.

Livin' the dream, people. Hope to see some of you there.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Bleg: Peril on the Purple Planet

I don't do a lot of these "blegging" posts, but here's one you might want to read.

Goodman Games' current Kickstarter for Peril on the Purple Planet is going full-tilt boogie, and closes out in seven days. The adventure is the work of Harley Stroh, but also includes components created by a cast of many others, including me, Daniel Bishop, Terry Olson, Tim Callahan, and illustrated (of course) by the mad wizard himself, Doug Kovacs.

I've seen a lot of the material for the stretch goals (Yes, they're already written/being written), and the work we've done, so far, is incredibly cool and fun. Because of non-disclosure agreement, I can't go into details about the specific content, but the stretch goals listed on the pledge site are suggestive of the various aspects of The Awesome that Awaits. Go take a look at those stretch goals and imagine what you could do in your games with that material, even if you don't run the straight adventure. You could mine this stuff for great ideas for years and years of DCC RPG madness.

The $50 buy-in is the sweet spot, for which you'll receive a boxed set, including all of the stretch goals. Just go look at that list, and tell me it's not worth the money.

The Pitch: This thing is awesome. Let's make Joseph Goodman create some more stretch goals. Let's make this boxed set the coolest thing ever. Fifty bucks gets you EVERYTHING. Go (NOW!) and make it happen. You won't regret it.