Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Running 'The Pay What You Want' Dungeon From A Distant Star Adventure From Robertson Games As Part Of The Warlord Of The Outer Worlds Actual Play Event

Today was one of those days that I wasn't quite up to my usual standard of gaming; I had taken my father to a new doctor today some forty miles away and after coming back I was completely mentally blown or so I thought. I suddenly looked and it was seven PM and my players were out in my driveway for tonight's Warlords of the Outer Worlds game. I was caught with my pants down or was I? I hadn't designed the interior of the ruins of a Dwarven tower that in last week's game the PC's had discovered.
So I calmly opened my note book and there right in the middle of my binder was Dungeon From A Distant Star From  Robertson Games
I've run this dungeon back to front so many times since it came out in 2011 and tonight it got turned into the interior structure of the Dwarven citadel/tower. My PC's weren't happy at all especially coming across some of the science fantasy weirdness of this classic science fantasy dungeon. Why? Well because the dungeon features some very unexpected sci fi style weirdness with: A flying saucer buried underground for hundreds of years lies a spaceship from the 3rd planet in the Altair system. While heavily damaged, the ship still has power for many of its systems and doors and lights are still fully operational in most sections. Will you be the first to explore The Dungeon From A Distant Star and uncover it's otherworldly secrets?An old school one-page dungeon including dungeon map, legend, wandering monsters, random tables and descriptions for 23 separate rooms. This module also features some of my all time favorite AD&D monsters &  fan favorites such as the vegepygmy and the Flumph as an alien race encounters!

With a bit of creativity the party of adventurers managed to make it through most of the major parts of the dungeon and into the control room where the remains of several Dwarven heroes awaited them and the weird final boss. They faced down Grey zombies and other wonderfully weird undead plus a boss alien undead thing in the center of the control room but they only managed to get through half of the dungeon tonight. They didn't happen to come across the room of vegepygmy tribesmen yet. They've also released at least one beakotopus after a pitched battle with android adherers in one of the saucer's corridors.

All in all using Dungeon From A Distant star was downright fun and as a quick pick up adventure this one went down quickly, it's material fit the over all style and tone of the campaign setting. I can't recommend this classic adventure enough to those who want to fight against some unusual monsters in a wholly original dungeon sci fi adventure location. Five out of five for this OSR classic!

So grab some dice and remember to make the save!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Free OSR PC Resources With First Edition Character Classes By Leonaru For First Edition AD&D, OSRIC Or Your Favorite Retroclone

A couple of years ago I needed a first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Samurai character class for a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 Japanese-language film Seven Samurai as an OSRIC one shot adventure. Now I've been a fan of the class since the original NPC class appeared in the pages of  Dragon magazine as a sub-class of the fighter in Dragon #3 (October 1976). Fortunately I was able to not only find that the class had been done for me for zero edition, AD&D 1st edition but second edition as well. It was also done very well and for free. The pdf comes with everything including the samurai's weapons, armor, and equipment.

You Can Grab All of PC Classes of Leonaru
right over here!

Leonaru also did a reworked Monk class, scout, barbarian, knight
& even alchemist for second edition 
& even a duelist class for those Romance era types who want a sword swinger from Old Europe.  The classes are well balanced & can be used creatively to fill in a number of holes in a campaign for even NPC classes where necessary. Finally there's the Samaurai's old friend the ninja in zero edition flavor warning the Ninja class is over powered compared to some of the other styles of classes available & the class is done in a very cinematic style. The pdf of the ninja contains everything from equipment, tools, weapons, tactics, and more.

Finally Leonaru did the Full Metal Plate retroclone which has a few twists & turns on the world's most popular fantasy role playing game. You can check it out for free here  or you can buy a copy right over here.
Now these character classes can be added quite easily into the wastelands of your favorite post apocalyptic old school campaign for some extra cheesy weirdness or these classes could be used to represent some twisted version of Old Earth culture. These classes can easily be added into your favorite old school campaign for a twist on the usual PC classes that one finds in the various editions of  Dungeons & Dragons. Many of these classes are perfect for representing memorable NPC's. Anyway you slice it these are another welcome addition in the old school DM's arsenal of tricks to present to players. 
He even did a decent Lovecrafian monster book
with some of the usual Lovecraft alien races.

Free OSR Monster Resource - Monsters of Myth By The First Edition Society For OSRIC & Your Old School Campaigns

Sometimes a dungeon master needs something a bit weirder or stranger then the standard dungeon horrors and of course it all goes back to basics for me. Monsters of Myth by 'The First Edition Society'  was either the first or second monster book that I downloaded and had printed up.According to the official blurb on Rpgnet;"Monsters of Myth is an old-school bestiary inspired in both style and content by the original Monster Manual, Monster Manual II, and Field Folio for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and serves as both a sequel and a tribute to those books. The almost 150 monsters are entirely new, but compatible with AD&D (via OSRIC)."

GRAB Monsters of Myth
By The First Edition Society HERE

  So way back in 2006 the First edition society got together & made a solid monster book in the tradition of the Monster Manual & Fiend Folio for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. So why I'm I dragging this pdf from another age into the light of day? Well because it's got a ton of monsters that can be used at your table to scare the crap out of players. These are not your standard horrors of the dungeon instead you get a whole package of weirdness with new giants, dragons, demons, and more.
These horrors can also be used in the wastelands of your favorite post apocalyptic wasteland or far flung asteriod or sword & planet adventure with a bit of old school math magic. The majority of these creatures are very dangerous to the life and limb of adventurers. This is a monster book that I've used over the years to build adventures around and to stick monsters into the dark background of certain styles of AD&D  campaigns.
 Why should you care besides its free & mostly forgotten by the majority of the  OSR crowd? Besides the fact that the vast majority of these critters has a pulptastic sword & sorcery feel?
As one reviewer notes "
The book is very much a tribute to the style and feel of classic AD&D, with art and text that old fans of the hobby will find fitting for the era of the late 70's to early 80's. The book would also prove useful to newer gamers who enjoy systems such as Castles & Crusades and other more recent "reductionist" style versions of the D20 system such as Basic Fantasy or Swords & Wizardry'

These monsters are very well done and easily usable in a Halloween sword and sorcery fest which is exactly what I'm going to do. If you want a physical copy Black Blade sells this bad boy for about thirty bucks and its well worth the price of admission.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Occult Secrets Of The Trinity of Awesome Kickstarter With Kort'thalis Publishing

The Trinity of Awesome is winding down in about seven days but it still needs your help to get to the promised stretch goals but I wanted to take a look into the deeper Lovecraftian horrors of  The Green Jewel They Must Possess adventure for a moment a part of The Outer Presence rpg line.

When it comes to low prep, high octane Seventies old school adventure one of my favorites is the Outer Presence by Venger Satanis. Now with the release of the Trinity of Awesome kickstarter we've got another Lovecraftian piece of that puzzle that is the Outer Presence universe in the form of A Green Jewel They Must Possess adventure. The basic plot outline sounds like something from an Eighties animated film but there are some very subtle differences;"This is a 4 - 5 page adventure of investigative horror set in "modern day," specifically the 1970's.  A glowing green sphere with spiritual powers has been discovered in Peru, but it's cursed because people keep dying.  Obviously, it's worth a fortune."
Right off the bat we've got this glowing jewel showing up in the 1970's Peru a country with a history soaked in blood going all of the way back to the Incan empire through the rise of the Shining Path. There is a lot of real world & Lovecraftian history tied up in Peru.

Photo by Matěj Baťha

Weirdly enough this is the second Venger Satanis adventure set in South America, the first one The Outer Presence deals with some very 'Cannibal Holocaust' jungle elements & Lovecraftian adventure sequences mixed with a good dose of adventure. These adventures are also self contained mini rpg systems that hook in with the principal game mechanic which is a d6 dice pool.  It's a simplified, closer-to-the-real-world version of Crimson Dragon Slayer and it makes modifying it into your favorite old school investigative supernatural game a snap. The Outer Presence takes place in & around Papua New Guinea with a health dose of action & some very dark supernatural horror taking place within its pages.

There is a definitively Lovecraftian element to the back universe story in the Outer Presence;"
The adventure starts in and around Miskatonic University and quickly heads to Papua New Guinea... cause you know what they do there, right?  This isn't one of those dull scenarios where hardly anything happens.  In fact, The Outer Presence occasionally borders on "out there" without diving into full-on gonzo territory.  Eldritch pulp action-adventure probably sums it up best." There are several places where the adventure almost seems to strain against itself to tell you more about the Outer Presence universe. In fact just the other day on G+ Venger let slip a tid bit about that universe that implies that there are deeper secrets in the Outer Presence adventures then meets the eye;"There is a para-military organization safeguarding the world from supernatural disaster. Theta Chartreuse is a splinter group devoted to awakening the Great Old Ones. They are determined to usher in an apocalyptic new world order." So already we're getting into tin foil hat X files territory which reminds me of several late night Eighties horror films not to mention the Heavy Metal film from 1981. 
Could this be because someplace deep within the Outer Presence universe there are those in the 'know' who are being deeply influenced & whose sanity is strained by the very Lovecraftian gods, horrific elements, and other weirdness just lurking on this side of the adventure. Could this have something to do with the Lovecraftian horrors lurk just on the other side of both Crimson Dragon Slayer and Alpha Blue? I think so my friends because there are wheels within wheels in the Outer Presence & Venger Satanis's creations. We've seen this in Alpha Blue & The Island of Purple Haunted Putrescence's connections through NPC's, random encounters, and other game elements. The same could be said for the Outer Presence. This sort of a pulpy weird vibe runs through the Outer Presence right from the very beginning.
 Basically its really essentially a boiled down pulp adventure done in a more contemporary style with Venger's flare for the gonzo with a heap of Lost, Cannibal Holocaust, and a piping hot side of HP Lovecraft. .There's precious little preventing the Game Master from swapping New Guinea out for the jungles of South America or similar locale. This scenario could take place during any period of the 20th century. If the 70's don't resonate with you, feel free to change it. Some conversion will be necessary, but the majority should play just fine as it is."

There are elements of Robert Howard's Cthulhu Mythos and other far more contemporary echoes in The Outer Presence. With a heap of Jim Jones style madness that anyone who grew up in this time will recognize. For example is  Doctor Karl Steiner, anthropologist, ego-maniac, and frequent contributor to the quarterly anthropology journal Culturally Speaking. With the help of Dr. Steiner and his team, the Meepie tribe has regressed to cannibalism and human sacrifice in order to appease something that lives in the nearby temple…the outer  presence."

And now the circle of Green Jeweled Lovecraftian madness has moved into 1970's modern  America, no one or nothing is going to be safe from the horrors that shall come from outside our reality. The secret cabal behind the jewel and its machinations are going to the fodder for the continuing weirdness. Be sure to support the Trinity of Awesome on Kickstarter to get more 1970's investigative horror.

Inner Earth Conflict - Lovecraftian Gods, Random Encounters, & Old School Campaign Set Up.

Yesterday I wrote about the Beast of Hollow Mountain & the various Mexican 'lost worlds' belonging to the Serpent People of South American inner world. I'd love to clarify about my Warlord of the Outer Worlds campaign and how all of this relates to the Lovecraftian elements of the campaign setting. Because of the very nature of Pellucidar as adventure and campaign fodder it seems quite easy to connect up the lavish and nicely put together underdark and OSR mega dungeon campaign worlds. All of these connecting up nicely with campaign settings such as the under Hyperborean world  campaign setting of AS&SH, Basic Fantasy, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and even my own Atlantadria Port City Of The Accursed and The Warlords Of The Outer Worlds Campaign Earth. At the center of the affair is actually two Great Old Ones Tsathoggua & Rhan-Tegoth who have been having a cold war for ages using the outer and inner  Earth as the battle field.

Depiction of Tsathoggua by Khannea Sun TzuWarfare between the hybrid mutant Serpent People & the Empire of  K'n-yan came when the stars went right once the apocalypse took the Earth. The Voormis & the similar Gnophkehs  have begun their age old warfare using both their own peoples & hybrid mutant tribes out in the wastelands.  Formless Spawn carry out the alien will of their god making sure that temples and relics stray not from their master's sacred places.
The basin ... was filled with a sort of viscous and semi-liquescent substance, quite opaque and of a sooty color.... [T]he center swelled as if with the action of some powerful yeast [and] an uncouth amorphous head with dull and bulging eyes arose gradually on an ever-lengthening neck ... Then two arms—if one could call them arms—likewise arose inch by inch, and we saw that the thing was not ... a creature immersed in the liquid, but that the liquid itself had put forth this hideous neck and head, and [it was now forming arms] that groped toward us with tentacle-like appendages in lieu of claws or hands! ... Then the whole mass of the dark fluid began to rise [and] poured over the rim of the basin like a torrent of black quicksilver, taking as it reached the floor an undulant ophidian form which immediately developed more than a dozen short legs.
—Clark Ashton Smith, "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros"
Sometimes great Martian war machines can be seen in the distances and there are rumors of them under Earth as well.

The Earth has been softened up by the Martian invasions of the 1800's when agents within the various Earth governments paved the way for the invaders to cause untold destruction on Earth. They almost terraformed the Earth to conditions more fitting to the old races. After the invasions of the Martians some of these horrors stayed behind within the inner Earth in some of the strange grottoes and pits.

Cults dedicated to  deities include Shub-Niggurath, Nug and Yeb, Ghatanothoa,[3] and the Not-to-Be-Named One (a title sometimes used to identify Hastur) have been gaining in popularity within the Earth & outside of it. Many of the outer world colony pirates, marauders, mutants, and renegade spacer warlords all follow these new faiths. Earth is just starting to regain the upper hand once again but it will take time. PC's have heard rumors of the horrors of the Gibbering Tower have been stirring.

1d20 Inner Earth Lovecraftian Random Encounters Table
  1. 1d10 2nd level  Voormis warriors on a holy mission for their priest on a mission to find some relics and looking for their enemies. They are aggressive and very dangerous. 
  2. A group of mutant serpent men looking for sacrifices &  looking for relics for their clutch. Armed with three laser pistols and a heavy stunner. 
  3. 1d6 ghoul warriors on their way to the Dreamlands looking for a bit of that extra juicy meat. 
  4. Inner Earth Martian walker looking for a blood donor or three, the thing is armed with a heat ray capable of doing 1d8 points of damage to anything within a forty foot radius. 
  5. K'n-yan necromancer and zombie horde moving through the underworld on their way to their inner world base. Capable and vary dangerous depending on how the party approaches her. 
  6. A group of 1d10 morlock warriors led by mad scientist armed with energy weapons & looking for specimens. 
  7. A lone 6th level yeti warrior searching the dark for his familial tribe of brother warriors. Very capable & armed with an energy pistol. 
  8.  1d20 mutant  man eating ape men blind and idiotic searching the dark for prey. 
  9. A lone  K'n-yan scientist searching the underworld for specimens riding a ghast like mount. He's armed with energy weapons and wants a humanoid specimen for experimentation. 
  10. A underworld Dwarven trader & giant mutant centipede mount with 1d20 minor relics to trade. See appropriate matrix for material. 
  11. Lost scientist from a drill machine party who got separated from his fellows. He's being tracked by an inner Earth Lovecraftian horror. He's a doomed man and doesn't even know it. Has several maps and he's twenty five miles from his party.
  12. Broken troll being eaten by Lovecraftian inner Earth blobs of protoplasm. They will be 1d8 lone monsters looking to feed. 
  13. Lone black wizard searching the under world for the ruins of an alien base. He is guarded by 1d6 unseen demonic warriors. He will hire adventurers quite readily. 
  14.  K'n-Yan Empire atomic borrowing machine with a 1d10 war party led by a black wizard of 7th level. These bastards are out for sacrifices & slaves for their horrid under world empire. 
  15. A pack of 1d10 serpent men hybrid mutant soldiers is on patrol and looking for an escaped prisoner. They're armed with energy weapons and a bad attitude, they're aggressive have laser like weapons that do 2d8 points of damage but the energy cells are highly unstable. 
  16. A grazy ooze is going back to its home cave to reproduce & will try to kill anyone or anything that tries to stop it from getting back to its spawning ground. 
  17. A horde of 1d6 Martians is moving through the darkness in war machines AC5, HT 30, with death rays capable of doing 1d10 points of damage with a 60 foot radius. They're on a mission for their brood queen and are aggressively carrying out her will. 
  18. A giant mutant cave fisher moves through the darkness capable of taking out vehicle sized targets and prey is casting lines in the caverns and tunnels below. Watch out! 
  19. An ape man cleric of the Mahars moves through the darkness with dark vision goggles on his way to another kingdom of the sacred reptiles. He has several key magic scrolls bound in human flesh. He is also armed with several weapons of their design. He will hide or kill anyone who tries to interfere with his holy mission. 
  20. A serpent man black wizard of 8th level moves through the darkness with several mutant serpent men body guards. They are on a mission to the shrine of their black gods and will not hesitate to add in a few more offerings to the lot they have on their weird mutated mounts. They are armed with ray guns and are not afraid to use them.
Between Realms of Crawling Chaos , Obscene Serpent Religion ,Cults of Chaos for Dark Albion I've got about ninety percent of all of the campaign's Lovecraftian needs met. So that's the set up for this week's upcoming game folks!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Old School Campaign Deconstruction Using The Prehistoric Western Film With The Valley of Gwangi (1969) & The Beast of Hollow Mountain 1956 Cowboys, Dinosaurs, and Boot Hill

On a lazy Saturday afternoon in Connecticut way back in 1970 something or so, my world exploded in a prehistoric stampede of dinosaur fun when the Valley of Gwangi came on television. Maybe it was the fact that the Dinosaur Western wasn't that well  known or that this film came to define the Dinosaur Western genre in film. But for me in the Seventies & Eighties it came to define a friend's old school campaign world as we shall see.

My ex friend Peter was crazy about the film;"In Mexico at the turn of the 20th century, a cowgirl named T.J. Breckenridge hosts a struggling rodeo. Her former lover, Tuck Kirby, a heroic former stuntman working for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, wants to buy her out. Along the way, he is followed by a Mexican boy named Lope, who intends to join the rodeo on a quest for fame and fortune. T.J. is not interested in Tuck because of this, but Tuck is still attracted to T.J., especially when T.J. jumps off a diving board on her horse. T.J. finally accepts Tuck when he saves Lope from a bull and the two kiss.
T.J. has an ace she hopes will boost attendance at her show - a tiny horse called El Diablo. Tuck meets a British paleontologist named Horace Bromley, who is working in a nearby Mexican desert. Bromley shows Tuck fossilized horse tracks, and Tuck notes their similarity to El Diablo's feet. Tuck sneaks Bromley into the circus for a look at El Diablo, and Bromley declares the horse to be a prehistoric Eohippus.
The tiny horse came from a place known as the Forbidden Valley. A Gypsy known as Tia Zorina claims that the horse is cursed, and demands that it must be immediately returned. Later, she and the other gypsies collaborate with Bromley to steal El Diablo and release it back in the valley. Bromley hopes to follow the horse to its home in search of other prehistoric specimens. Carlos, an ex-member of the Gypsy tribe now working for T.J.'s circus, walks in on the theft and tries to stop it, but is knocked out.
Tuck arrives just as the Gypsy posse leaves. Carlos sees him as he is regaining consciousness. Tuck notices that the horse is missing, and sets off after Bromley. When T.J. and her crew discover Carlos, Carlos claims that Tuck has stolen El Diablo for himself. Carlos, T.J., and the others decide to follow Tuck and Bromley into the valley.
Making their way into the Forbidden Valley, Tuck, T.J., and the rest of the group meet up and soon discover why the valley is said to be cursed when a Pteranodon swoops down and snatches Lope but due to the weight it falls back to the ground. After Carlos kills the Pteranodon by twisting its neck, they spot an Ornithomimus, which they chase after in the hopes of capturing it. Just as it is about to escape, it is killed by Gwangi, a vicious Allosaurus which chases Bromley and the rest of the group. However, a Styracosaurus appears and drives Gwangi away. As Gwangi leaves, he takes the dead Pteranodon with him.
Later, Gwangi pursues the group to their base camp and they try to rope him down, but he breaks free when the Styracosaurus reappears. Gwangi battles and kills the Styracosaurus and later manages to catch and kill Carlos, but is knocked out while trying to exit the valley in pursuit of the rest of the group.
Securing the creature, Tuck and the other men in the group take Gwangi back to town to be put on display in T.J.'s show. On the opening day of the show, the dwarfed Gypsy sneaks in and begins to unlock Gwangi's cage in an effort to free him, only to be killed when Gwangi breaks free. The crowd begins to flee as Gwangi attacks, and Tia Zorina is trampled to death in the chaos. Bromley is crushed by a broken piece of the cage, and Gwangi attacks and kills a circus elephant before rampaging through the town. Tuck, accompanied by T.J. and Lope, tries to hide the crowd in a cathedral, but Gwangi finds them and breaks in. Tuck urges the crowd out through a back exit, leaving Tuck inside with Gwangi, T.J. and Lope.
Gwangi tries to eat them, but Tuck manages to distract him by stabbing him with a flag. Tuck is eventually able to throw a torch onto the floor near Gwangi, setting the building on fire. Tuck and the others manage to escape, trapping Gwangi in the burning building. Roaring in agony, Gwangi dies in the fire. Tuck, T.J., Lope, and the crowd look on to mourn the sacrifice of the burning church."
Yeah its a classic & it was supposed to be done by the effects master Willis O'Brien but he passed shortly before the film could be produce & made. Now I've written extensively of  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World as fodder for an old school campaign but it was also the inspiration for the Valley of Gwangi.
But the Valley of Gwangi wasn't the only film in the Dinosaur Western genre there was a film that proceeded it. The Beast of Hollow Mountain was shown on Saturday afternoons as well as on TNT cable's Monster Vision much later on;"The Beast of Hollow Mountain is a 1956 Weird West movie about an American cowboy living in Mexico who discovers his missing cattle are being preyed upon by an Allosaurus. The Allosaurus would later attack local villagers in a town, and eventually be destroyed by getting lured into some quicksand and drowning.
The first film to show dinosaurs and cowboys in the same picture, it is notable for being based on a story idea by special effects innovator Willis O'Brien. It used a form of stop motion called replacement animation to bring the dinosaur to life. O'Brien co-wrote the script under the pseudonym El Toro Estrella; O'Brien was also to have originally done the special effects for this movie, but this did not happen for reasons unknown."
There are a few great differences here between the two films that an old school Dungeon Master can exploit. The Beast From Hollow was actually my preferred film because we were way back when playing a mix of Gamma World, Boot Hill, & OD&D. The Beast of Hollow mountains has a fully realized setting with prehistoric swamps, dinosaurs, & all of the classic lost world elements. These areas were all a part of an ancient empire belonging to the Serpent men of H.P.Lovecraft & Robert Howard's creation. These lost worlds & prehistoric laboratories were scattered throughout Mexico & Central America. Their degenerate Elven attendants still at the helm even into the apocalyptic era.

This is how we designed it in my old D&D group, many of us too turns Dungeon Mastering and we were in competition with each other to see who was the better DM. This also allowed us to cover lots of ground when it came to DMing. It also meant that we had an extensive prehistoric lost world inner Earth empire to accommodate our megadungeons and prehistoric wilderness point crawls.

All of this can easily be done by using both the Boot Hill rpg & AD&D, Boot Hill gave us some great 19th century fire arms rules along with quick rules for NPC cowboys and farm hands.

By using Mutant Future plus Labyrinth Lord and LoFP's World of the Lost to fill in the prehistoric monsters & the weird lost world elements as necessary. These strange types of Lovecraftian lost world adventure locations could show up anyplace and could be found tucked away across the world. Time warps, space gates and more means could be the perfect venue to bring in PC's as needed.

There are lots of possibilities for mocking up and using this sort of a lost world campaign, the hidden legends, weird mythologies, and even the possibilities of sneaking in some Lovecraftian horrors into the old school adventure mix. As a point crawl this sort of a campaign style can't be beat with the mix of classic old school TSR era elements to form a structured and stable campaign that could be enjoyed for years to come.
Cheers & remember to keep those dice rolling!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Four Free OSR Monster Books For Your Old School Campaigns

Old School dungeon masters can't have enough monsters & sometimes you've got to dust off some old favorites to throw a scare or two into the players.  Last night I was pursuing through the Planet Algol blog & dusting off some old ideas for my inner Earth campaign. Keeping to the gonzo pulp aesthetic of the campaign has taken me down a short path of memory lane to a few years ago. The first thing I noticed were two monster books that had escaped my notice for a long while. The first one was Varlet's & Vermin from the Roles,Rules, and Rolls blog;"It's a collection of monsters and related ideas for challenge levels 1 and 2, written for Swords & Wizardry but easily adaptable to other systems." I had forgotten how good some of these fiends were. I also really like the Man of Wounds, and the rat variants are very nicely done.


The second monster book is Telecanter's Deadly Distractions from Telecanter's Receding Rules blog and these are perfect beasties to challenge as well as dismay your party of adventurers. These are low level creatures with a twist or two. They're very well done and quite weird fitting in a number of criteria that I've had.
Download Telecanter's Deadly Distractions
Finally there's The Basic Fantasy Field Guide of Creatures Malevolent and Benign which has a ton of monsters that are usable with a number of retroclones with minor adjustments. Did I mention that their free and you should also check out some of the other free downloads while your there on the Basic Fantasy website as well.

The Basic Fantasy Field Guide of Creatures Malevolent and Benign Here
 There are two free nearly forgotten tomes of monsters from Dragon's foot. org Monstrous Tome - Volume One which contains new dragons , demons, monsters and all original content for AD&D first edition.  Be careful with these monsters some of these creatures have the potential for an old school party wipe of adventurers. GRAB Monstrous Tome -

Then there's the second volume of The Monstrous Tome which adds a whole other layer of weirdness & nastiness to the monsters in your dungeon. The second volume of the Monstrous Tome seems to focus on monsters of the planes, some deadly dungeon deviants, and more horrors to throw into old school campaigns.


Monstrous Tome 2 - Book of Beings HERE

There's a good mix of old school style original creatures to populate your dungeons, megadungeons, and campaigns. Then of course there are the various creations of Ancient Vaults whose Senufio: Lords of Misrule  are going to get a workout as the heads of some of the heads of cults of Chaos that the party will be encountering.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Inhumanoids 1986 Kids Cartoon As A Quick Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaign Jump Start

So what happens when you take the over excess of the Eighties add in power armor & over the top gigantic pre historic  monsters? You get the Inhumanoids cartoon an inner Earth weirdness fest that was air along side Jem and the Holograms back in '86. Even back then these things were gonzo bat crap craziness all of it owned by Hasbro;"Inhumanoids is an animated series and Hasbro toy property in 1986. In the tradition of other Hasbro properties such as Transformers and G.I. Joe, the show was produced by Sunbow and Marvel Productions and animated in Japan by Toei Animation. Inhumanoids tells the story of the scientist-hero group, Earth Corps, as they battle a trio of subterranean monsters called the Inhumanoids with the aid of elemental beings, the Mutores."

As you can read the whole wiki entry here about the series  and its pretty detailed but then there's this gentleman's video which goes into some pretty good detail about most of the plot points, cast, and lots of The Inhumanoid's weirdness.

There is so much to mine here that I can't do this Eighties gonzo giant monster  show justice. Inhumanoids was packed to the brim with so much goodness that in sixty five episodes there was lot of epic ground to cover. The plot of the Evil That Lies Within movie goes something like this;"The story begins with the discovery of a monstrous creature encased in an amber monolith buried in Big Sur national park, which is recovered by the government-funded Earth Corps, a geological sciences research team. The finding spurs corrupt industrialist Blackthorne Shore to clandestinely uncover a second monster buried elsewhere — a giant vine-like creature called Tendril, who attacks the amber block's public unveiling in San Francisco to release the macabre colossus trapped within, D'Compose. They rampage through city streets before fleeing into the watery darkness of the bay.
Earth Corps member Liquidator returns to Big Sur in search of further clues to the origin of these monsters, whereupon he discovers a race of sentient trees, the Redwoods, who explain that they are members of a subterranean population known as Mutores, and that their kind sealed the evil Inhumanoids Tendril and D'Compose beneath the Earth ages ago. The malevolent Inhumanoid leader, Metlar, remains imprisoned below the surface, paralyzed by the magnetic field of a Mutore duo named Magnokor.
A nocturnal assault by Tendril demolishes the Earth Corps base, prompting a chase into the depths of the Earth, but even with the help of another Mutore species, the rock-bodied Granites, they are forced to retreat back to the surface. When their budget is summarily cut by Senator Masterson — a crooked politician in Blackthorne Shore's shady pocket — they are approached by Sandra Shore, Blackthorne's sister, who has learned of her brother's sinister plot to liberate Metlar. Funded by Sandra, the team constructs new vehicles and embarks back below the Earth's surface, tracking D'Compose and Tendril to the city of the Granites, where an ensuing battle frees Metlar from Magnokor's hold. Having pilfered Earth Corps' engineering schematics via his ties to Masterson, Blackthorne joins the fray, now equipped with his own battle-suit whose magnetic powers he wields against Metlar, only to be derailed by Tendril's interference while Sandra falls victim to the mutative touch of D'Compose.
Earth Corps manages to escape and forms an alliance with the Granites. Herc accompanies them to D'Compose's domain of Skellweb while Auger and Liquidator venture into Metlar's kingdom of Infernac, and Bright convinces the Redwoods to help defend the surface world against attempts by the Inhumanoids to acquire sources of power. Herc and the Granites are able to defeat D'Compose's reanimated soldiers and restore Sandra to normal. Blackthorne pursues Auger and Liquidator to Infernac and tries to use his magnetic powers on Metlar once again but is foiled by Magnokor and taken captive by Metlar.
Acting on information forced from Blackthorne, the Inhumanoids raid a Soviet air base, stealing a handful of nuclear missiles. A seemingly repentant Blackthorne warns Earth Corps that the missiles are intended to shatter the divide between the Earth's crust and mantle, but upon travelling into the Earth to preclude this catastrophe, the team discovers that Blackthorne has set them up and that the missiles are actually meant to detonate the planet's core. Earth Corps is able to convince D'Compose to allow them access to Infernac — a deal made easier by the fact that the Inhumanoid already fears for his own survival in the face of Metlar's insane plan — and they manage to defuse enough of the missiles to thwart the explosive scheme.
Following a climactic battle, D'Compose is re-sealed in amber casing and Tendril is imprisoned by the Granites. Finally, Magnokor succeeds in neutralizing Metlar even as Blackthorne is arrested by Earth Corps. Senator Masterson provides the Earth Corps team with a new headquarters facility, but a tissue sample secured from Tendril during their first encounter with the monster has mysteriously gone missing...:" To this day this show still has some of the most devoted fans outside of Transformers I've ever encountered. What is there for the old school dungeon master to mine & borrow? Lots and lots of stuff as we're about to get into.

Now here's where I head South from the fiery depths of the Earth folks, Inhumanoids is the Eighties version of an adventure opera. This is seriously one show with so much ground to borrow from it isn't even funny. You've got scientists in power armor running around facing some of the weirdest monsters to burst forth from the depths of the Earth. Let's start with the fact that if you want to get into gonzo epic weirdness this is a show to emulate in spades. Inhumanoids is the perfect adventure cartoon to use as a template or plan to use for an old school gonzo game. And when it hit in Eighty Six we grabbed our copy of second edition Gamma World (no we didn't fall for that third edition Action Control Table stuff) & set an Inhumanoids style giant monster game right up after school during the Shadow Years! But when it comes to using a power armor party going against giant monsters I can only think of the Mutant Crawl Classics game being able to sort of handle a funnel style with an Inhumanoids giant monster bent. Did that after school game back in sixth grade make a whole lot of sense? Give me a break we were kids. But the sheer scale of the game was really one of the fun parts.

While Mutant Crawl Classics isn't out yet I can also see using the Crawling Under A Broken Moon fanzine for my own Eighties power armored VS giant monster fueled fun. Given the fact that the collected fanzine has all of the elements a DM would need for giant monster bashing fun. Yeah this style of campaign is a perfect marriage of gonzo retroclone weirdness. But there's a lot more going on below the surface here in Inhumanoids.

There was one thing that made Inhumanoids such a hit with the kids back in Eighty six & that was the sheer variety of monsters and races in the cartoon. There was an internal consistency to the background,history, plot points, and internal mythology of the cartoon. Yes it was completely over the top Eighties cartoon crazy but it was so in an internal universe way. This was something really important that as a DM I learned from Inhumanoids, the idea of world building with an internal setting with layers of back history, etc. that the players uncover the deeper into the adventures they go. Marvel had a Sunbow crossover series of comics and it kept this aspect of the show but it came out in '87 and was canceled. "Marvel Comics produced a short-lived Inhumanoids comic book under its Star Comics imprint in 1987, adapting the storyline of "The Evil That Lies Within". The series ended after only 4 issues and left readers with the cliffhanger of Metlar's escape from captivity and Sandra Shore's transformation into an undead minion of D'Compose." Boo, hiss.
Could the giant monster vs power armor work for other retroclone systems or post apocalyptic  games? Short answer yes on a number of levels. The Inhumanoid's inner Earth ecology is very applicable to a point crawl game with lots of potential for underworld mutant monster races & forgotten adventure locations. I used this idea as a part of my Warlords of the Outer Worlds game recently.

A  couple of years ago an ex friend of mine DMed a Lamentations of the Flame Princess/ Mutant Future crossover game which used giant mutant god monsters straight out of after school Eighties goodness. This far more generic game used a group of scientists who are transported lock, stock, and university onto an alien planet ala Carcosa and they had to fight giant god things to survive. The play sessions were interesting, challenging, and very well done. And that same formula also had a brother/sister rivalry of patrons as well but that's where things went in very different directions then Inhumanoids as the sister was killed as a sacrifice for one of the god things. The brother ended up as the patron of the party of adventurers after suddenly seeing the light. The whole thing  works well with games such as Mutant Future or Gamma World 1st & second edition where the technology of inner Earth travel was implied and was never used. Now adventure locations with Shadow Years flavor are easily within reach of PC's.

So why use this style of game campaign? Because its Eighties gonzo epic adventure opera at its best. The stakes are ridiculously high, the weirdness is up to Eleven, and its got giant mutant monsters to boot! I've had several of the Earth Core pop up from time to time as high level retired adventurers in various campaigns making NPC cameos. Even after all of these years there are still thousands of devoted Inhumanoid fans out there (myself being one of them). The basis for the cartoon series could be used for an epic gonzo campaign of incredible old school proportions. The series is out on Blu ray and DVD so its easily accessed for someone with the time to grab it. I love to see a big screen revamp of it, given the fact that so many Eighties cartoon properties are being given new life. This is one to take a look at. Obviously I'm not trying to violate the trademark or copyright of Inhumanoids and this blog entry is for educational & entertainment purposes only. None of the table top rpg's mentioned in this article are responsible for its content its all down to me and my warped DM's mind and opinions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Reading Through Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #3: Villains of the Undercity By Mark Taormino For Your Old School Campaigns

"Danger lurks at every corner of the small coastal city of Las Farporte. The locals insist people are being abducted in the night and taken into into the bowels of the rumored "Undercity Dungeon" below. A lone survivor managed to escape and give some information before dying in your arms: “Secret door... Tavern of the Wiley Wench... The password is... the password is... Ugh!” You and your brave team of adventurers have decided to investigate these rumors, plunder the dungeon and destroy the dreaded "Villains of the Undercity!" Oh but first loot the body, of course. He won't mind... he's dead." This is the set up for Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #3: Villains of the Undercity By Mark Taormino & its a viciously funny SOB of an adventure. Mark sent me a review copy and I've got to say its even more impressive then it was as a PDF. The paper is crisp, the images good, and the text is clear for these old eyes. The module is very well done & up to mark's usual standards of excellence in old school adventure fun.

"This module is designed for character levels 1-3 and can be played with the OSRIC(tm) system or easily adapted to AD&D, D&D 1e to 5e, Pathfinder, D20 System, Labyrinth Lord, BFRPG, Swords & Wizardry, Warrior & Wizards, etc or any fantasy role playing system you may want to use it with under the Open Gaming License v1.0a! The module will have a mix of hack & slash and interesting puzzles, traps and characters. I need your help to actually finish it and turn it into a real game book for you and your players to enjoy. It can easily be adapted to most campaign settings as well. If you like this module, look for future ones soon (I have about 10 more planned so far and will make more after that)." 
This looks like so much fun to unleash on my party of fools erm adventurers & he really delivered the goods with this one. The artwork is well done and the layout is top notch and possibly one of the better products I've seen come out of kickstarter besides some Venger Satanis's old school ventures, all of the usual tropes including the detachable map are here.

There are tons of potential with this module & with a bit of modification this module could be made to work any number of retroclones or neo clones including Dungeon Crawl Classics which would fit this one to a tee because it delivers on ; "irreverent characters, diabolical villains, over-the-top monster encounters, outrageous magic, mischievous NPCs, traps, puzzles, and more blood and gore." Here the set up for campaign and urban play is built right into the module with old school nods and Easter Eggs scattered throughout the module.

Take the idea here that the Caves of Chaos have been cleaned out, & the Keep on the Borderlands had been destroyed. A certain group of Slave Lords moved in & a city has been built over the remains of these dungeons of the past. The break down for this module goes something like this:
- 36 page module
- 3 blue dungeon maps (two dungeon levels and one tavern map)
- 8 Pre-Generated Characters

This whole package screams beer & pretzels module with friends over AD&D 1st edition or your favorite retro clone system. The balance here between Maximum Mayhem Dungeons humor, the nastiness of the adventure and the old school weirdness is tight as well as well done. The adventure moves you right into the cross hairs with an attention to plot of adventure that drags the party into the deep end of things right away.

Let's not even get into good old Wendell and his issues being one of the main forces of nastiness in Villains of the Undercity because he's not someone to trifle with at all. He's got a chip on his shoulder & he's going to be taking it out on your PC's!

There is enough details on the campaign setting of  the small coastal city of Los Farport that I can see porting this location over into either DCC or a similar retroclone system or even as a post apocalyptic location especially given The Secret Machines of the Star Spawn adventure or The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen 

Given the location details of Los Farport these modules could be placed back to back to form a great whole cloth setting. I sure as hell enjoyed reading the module last night and it works on a lot of levels & personally I can't wait to see what's next in the Maximum Mayhem Dungeons bag of tricks!
I give  Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #3: Villains of the Undercity By Mark Taormino  a five out of five for style, substance, and old school weirdness!


Straight Down, Morlocks, A New Machine,Undead Dwarves & A Random Minor Artifacts Table - Warlords Of The Outer World Actual Play Recap

Let's see last night the party wasn't quite happy with the fact that the NPC mutant pilot was stone cold drunk or the fact that his Morlock co pilot left him in the tavern at the fort. Words were exchanged & the party was able to secure their passage on a mega ship but they had no machine to begin their journey into the Earth?!?

Well the party were having it out with the National Traders Inc/ Guild representative, another member of their party hadn't been seen in almost seven days game time. He was overseeing a project of epic proportions as one of the adventurers was trying to get an android repaired that they had picked up last game. Finally the party followed the line of NPC hirelings, savants, wasteland scientists, etc. to an old Russian aircraft hanger. Inside a tremendous model of  Cyclotram has been build for months while all of the adventurers were off on their various adventures. Forrest's adventurer had been putting away treasure, selling it, squirreling away every penny to have this thing revamped & rebuilt with  Atlantean technology.

Now it was ready loaded up on trucks & after a bit of exposition along with their bill of passage from NTI the party is dropped onto "Mount Neleh" in the Aleutian Island chain off Alaska. Then its straight down into the Earth as the atomic pile kicks in. The reactor runs on "concentrated sub-atomic by-products"  After seven hours the party comes across a series of caverns with gems, gold, and other rich minerals as well as a ruined city. That's where the party ran into a whole bunch of Morlocks.

After grabbing a few handfuls of material it was back into the tunneling machine & the party pressed downward again. A few hours later they came across a ruined Dwarven citadel & city and here's where things got really hairy. The citadel was locked up, the fossilized wood doors sealed with iron spikes. The party blasted the doors and out poured a horde of ghoul Dwarfs hungering for the flesh of the adventurers. Some outside force was directing these foul undead and even with the party's Gothi & they're Fae wizard's protection from evil the

Cyclotram weapon systems were the only thing stopping the horde of foul undead. The last of the monsters burned themselves out on the electrical field of the tunneler.

Undead Dwarven warrior from here

But now whom is directing these horrors from the citadel & what secrets does he hold after almost possessing our party's psychic? Well find out in one week as our inner Earth adventure continues next week.
So for last night's game for an OSR rules set I used a combination of Mutant Future, Realms of Crawling Chaos, Labyrinth Lord Advanced, & a good chunk of Fantastic Heroes and Witchery with a sprinkling of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea not to mention Lamentations of the Flame Princess's Carcosa.

There are a few minor artifacts coming in the campaign as the party makes its way into the Inner Earth.

1d4 Minor Artifacts of the Ancients
  1.   The Crown of Hiz - This crown of the ancients has been imbued with the ability to heal any wound of the one who wares it. The crown itself has been bathed in the blood of a unicorn and has the spirit of the animal attached to it. It allows one to teleport three times per day and can destroy minor undead with a wave of the user's hand twice a day. It can also turn a major undead as if the owner was a seventh level cleric. The crown has been lost for centuries. 
  2. The Gauntlet's of  Cru's ruo - These gauntlet's once belonged to one of the first mutant overlords before the coming of the apocalypse. They are seen as symbols of authority among certain tribes and allow a mutant to 'borrow' the powers of any other mutant within a 20 foot radius of the owner six times per day. The gauntlet's also act as a rod of command to any mutant being within line of sight of the owner. The carry a psychic signature that enrages pure strain humans who are with the owner after 1d6 days. 
  3. The Master Key - This key is to a vault of The Ancients that holds many fantastic treasures, the key will grow warm in the owner's hand. The key is also a symbol of power any low level Lovecraftian horrors may not approach the owner within 10 feet. Why is one of the mysteries of this object. Humanity holds the key in an almost religious context. 
  4. The Stone of Gr'e & Chaos - This fist sized piece of psi crystal beats like a heart with the power and insanity of the Old Ones. It allows one to change & twist their bodies in the service of the Lovecraftian gods by gaining 1d8 mutations. It is seen as a symbol of the Mythos gods among certain mutant cults in the wastelands.

Unless otherwise noted these treasures and relics were lost during the apocalypse and haven't been seen now in centuries.