Showing posts from September, 2013

The King is Dead: The Blood is the Life (Revised)

Chains of Blood
The blessed of Sathaniel watch over mankind as shepherds watch over their flocks, but sometimes shepherds must use sheep dogs to guard the lambs from wolves.  To this end, vampires employ their still-living children -- the dunpeals -- and their blood-bonded servants -- the moroi,
The power of Sathaniel that flows through the veins of vampires and dunpeals can bestow their inhuman strength and vitality upon mortals who drink it.Old men feel young again and young men feel immortal when they drink the blood.When offered such temptations, few can resist agreeing to any service the vampire commands and become the instruments of their own oppression -- sheep trained to be sheep dogs.
Moroi exist in many levels of society.The Glorious Revolt worries most about those used as assassins and double-agents to infiltrate the secret societies, but the majority are the aldermen, bailiffs, and burgomasters that enforce the law in the hamlets and towns of Malleus.  These willing d…

The King is Dead: I Have Changed My Mind About Vampire Boners

One of the earliest novels “from the vampire’s point of view” (as Otto the bus driver would say) I ever read was The Palace by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro; the vampire protagonist is Count Saint-Germain, based on the real-life 18th century con man.One of the startling choices she made in her approach was to make vampires incapable of sex; since they’re undead and their hearts presumably do not beat, there is no way for the erectile tissues of their bodies to function.As Yarbro’s work was an early influence on my impressions about vampires and as Saint-Germain is one of those Enlightenment fakers I admire so much, I thought I’d just steal this fairly unique approach to vampire sexuality and work it into The King is Dead.

But then I had a few thoughts:
1)The vampires need some strength in numbers to maintain control over the humans. 2)A role-playing game needs opponents of varying power levels.Even young vampires in Savage Worlds are pretty tough. 3)

The Month When There Are No Gods

I think Beedo over at Dreams in the Lich House has the right idea with his junkyard posts: when you’ve got an awesome idea but fleshing it out will disrupt your current campaign (or ongoing campaign development as with The King is Dead) then you just write out the fragmentary ideas you have and put them aside.Perversely, just days after starting an actual The King is Dead campaign, I am distracted by thoughts of another setting.
The Month When There Are No Gods

October in Japan is known as “the month when there are no gods” because of an old tradition about the eight million kami gathering at the Grand Shrine of Izumo.I get the impression that the Japanese don’t view this with any anxiety, but that haunting name and our own Halloween traditions call to my mind the spooky side of Japanese pop culture much more than the authentic Japanese tradition of the Obon festival of the dead in summer.For people with stronger nerves (and stomachs), Japanese horror conjures images of “The…

Things I Need to Own: Le Scorpion

Now I know how I want the art for The King is Dead to look.

Did you know there's a bande dessinée about an 18th century Indiana Jones wrapped up in a Dan Brown-style Vatican conspiracy?  I didn't.  It's called Le Scorpion.

Franco-Belgian comics are the best comics.  Subtler color and linework than American comics and all the variety in genres of manga wrapped together with le sexy
Le Scorpion is published in English by Cinebooks and is available at Amazon.  I'll get it eventually.

The King is Dead: The Colonies

I’ve actually decided to start our new The King is Dead duet in the Colonies rather than on Malleus.I haven’t quite figured out how the vampire nobility works – How many of them are there? How are their families organized? Why haven’t they eaten the entire island already? – and so I decided to start with life in the Colonies because that’s relatively unchanged from real-world history.Which means I need to get some material written on the Colonies.
I have also changed my mind on the subject of vampire sex.An upcoming post will address this in more detail (once I’ve better sorted those details out) but take it as given at this point they can and do have the capability for intercourse (though it is difficult and somewhat embarrassing), that male vampires can sire dhampir (known as dunpeals in the King is Dead) while female vampires cannot carry a child to term, and that the sex lives of noblewomen are just as proscribed as I stated earlier.Dunpeals do need to drink blood to survive, they …

The King is Dead: Savage Worlds Character Creation

Robin and I are going to start running a The King is Dead duet campaign to work out some of the bugs in the setting, so it behooves me to make up some character creation rules.
The King is Dead Savage Worlds Character Creation
Character creation follows standard Savage Worlds guidelines except for the following provisions.
Savage Worlds Horror Companion
The King is Dead makes use of the Savage Worlds Horror Companion.
The following Hindrances are allowed from the Horror Companion: Bleeder, Bullet Magnet, Combat Shock, Cursed, Jumpy, Screamer, Slow, and Victim.
The following Edges are allowed from the Horror Companion: Relentless, Fanaticism, Exorcist, Necromancer/Master Necromancer, Talisman Craftsman, Monster Hunter, Tower of Will, and One of the Chosen.
The following Setting Rules from the Horror Companion are in force: Buckets of Blood, Chronological Phenomena, Rituals, Signs & Portents, and Wards & Binds.
All of the new Powers introduced in the Savage Worlds Horror Companio…

Slightly Later Impressions of Accursed

Returning to my examination of the preview Accursed Player’s Guide, we find ourselves at Hindrances.Anemic, Bloodthirsty, Obese, and Outsider are removed.I get Bloodthirsty – I doubt anyone’s going to be very shocked about not taking prisoners when you fight the Witches’ banes – but I’m a bit surprised by the others; I guess the special qualities of the Witchbreed make being Anemic or Obese physically impossible.The “new” Hindrances are primarily drawn from other sources.Jingoistic is accidentally merged with Glass Jaw.
There aren’t any restrictions on existing Edges the way there are for Hindrances, except for Arcane Backgrounds.(I do feel I should point out to would-be vargr that there is no reason to take Berserk; you’re much better off waiting to Veteran and taking The Wilding).There are nineteen new Edges available in this section, which means that with the racial edges included there are a bit shy of fifty new Edges in the game.I’m not a big fan of piling on new Edges – Savage …

Early Impressions of Accursed

The preview Accursed Player’s Guide available to backers of the Accursed Kickstarter presents the history of the setting, abilities and character creation guidelines for the monstrous player character races, a double handful of new Edges, and some of the setting rules that make Accursed an interesting new dark fantasy addition to Savage Worlds. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a good start that I only expect to get better.
Let’s start with the fun and evocative cover.A cadaverous Solomon Kane lookalike, a Frankenstein’s Monster with spectacles and his hair tied in a club, and a raven-haired lady dhampir in sensible clothes face off in front of a spooky castle against a creepy hag with vine-tentacles emerging from under his robes.The illustration tells me a lot: the clothing styles all favor the 18th and 19th century so I know the setting speaks to my interests in more modern periods, the creators respect their female audience, and there’s at least enough humor and humanity in the setting t…

Mob Rules

Oh, there's no justice like angry mob justice. Principal Skinner, Bart After Dark
Whether you're looking for help storming the Bastille, burning down Castle Frankenstein, or lynching Homer Simpson, sometimes you need a mob of angry townsfolk to help.  The following optional rules can help Savage Worlds players rile up some extra help or help Savage Worlds GMs run snooping heroes out of town; sure, you could just use Savage Worlds: Showdown or put a bunch a bunch of allies on the battlemap, but we'd be tearing down a part of ourselves.  "You could close down Moe's/Or the Kwik-E-Mart..."

New Setting Rule:

A mob is a swarm (Savage Worlds Deluxe p.141) composed of humans (or sentient humanoids) who have been incited into a violent frenzy. 


Raising a mob requires a standard Social Conflict (SWD p.96) made to an audience large enough to potentially form a vengeful throng; crowded street corners, public forums, and town halls are likely venues.  …

The King is Dead: I Never Drink… Wine

Vampires can only survive on blood alone, but that does not mean they do not crave some variety in their diet.While only fresh human blood sates their hunger, the practicalities of constant predation on mortals and the tedium of drinking the same thing night in and night out have led to a profusion of blood-related foods and beverages.Human and animal blood is an ingredient in black soup, blood pudding, blutwurst, pancakes, schwarzsauer, and other dishes while fresh blood is mixed with beer, honey, milk, tea, and whiskey for extra flavor.
It is never mixed with wine.
The taste of wine is nauseating to the unliving.It is not poisonous, but it is foul.For that reason, wine in Malleus and Incus is a peasant’s drink.The grape is not cultivated on the grand estates of nobles or monasteries; vintages are not collected and stored in grand cellars.That is not to say it is not made – wine was the drink of choice in the ancient Remulan Empire – but in modern times it is a crafted by unrefined …

Behind the Scenes of Accursed

Today sees the start of the Kickstarter campaign for Accursed, the dark fantasy Savage Worlds setting from John Dunn, Jason Marker, and Ross Watson of Melior Via, LLC.I’ve been intrigued by Accursed since shortly after the development blog launched; it’s my kind of setting – alchemy, (sort of) alt-history, mad science, underdog heroes, vampires, the works – and I have no shame in admitting that it helped inspire my approach to The King is Dead (though little to nothing about the content).Since the guys were kind enough to treat this blog as a serious thing that actually deserved to receive press releases and review copies, I’m happy to return the favor and give them a forum to share a little more about Accursed.
The following interview was conducted by e-mail before I received my preview copy of the playtest materials.

W&S: I’ve familiarized myself with your biographies and past work from the website, but what would you like to say to introduce yourselves and what you bring to Acc…