Showing posts from May, 2014

The King is Dead: Trials and Punishments

So... Player's Guide information or GM Guide?  I'm leaning toward GM Guide, but I'd like players to know how risky the life of a revolutionary can be...
COMMON AND CANON LAW The people of Malleus have been cowed into submission by centuries of brutal oppression by a corrupt and malignant State and Church.While the system breeds resentment like a festering corpse breeds flies, it takes the truly brave to openly defy it.Most who fly in the face of it are swatted down.

Trials and Judgment The depraved legal system of Greater Malleus is essentially divided into the common law enforced by the king’s magistrates and the canon law enforced by the Holy Panoptic Church of Sathaniel.Emperor Etzel cunningly balanced devotion to the Church with cultivating his own power, resulting in a “separate but equal” doctrine of Church and State that has been copied by his client kings (like King Wilhelm) and which persists to this day.Crimes of the body are punished by the State while crimes of the…

The King is Dead: Revised Introduction

Work on the playtest package for The King is Dead proceeds apace.  Here's the revised and expanded new introduction to the setting.  Feedback, as ever, is welcome. THE KING IS DEAD Revolution in a Gothic 18th Century That Never Was... INTRODUCTION
The king is dead!
These are words that cannot be denied. What is a vampire but an animate corpse? What are the undead but dead that walk? What is our king but a vampire?
A rotting corpse sits on the throne of Malleus – a rotting corpse to whom we bow and scrape! We have allowed the dictates of King Wilhelm and his vampire children to dominate the lives of living men and women for centuries. We have allowed him to make not mere slaves of us, but cattle. We have allowed our so-called nobility to feed on the lifeblood of our sons and daughters for far too long.
In signing this declaration, we commit ourselves to the fight against injustice and tyranny. We commit ourselves to the overthrow of the vampire King Wilhelm and all his broo…

Godzilla (2014): Brody and the Hero

It’s ironic that one of the few criticisms leveled at Godzilla (2014) is that human deuteragonist Lt. Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is viewed by many as wooden and uninteresting, because he’s actually one of the most realistic military characters I’ve ever seen.
I have a healthy skepticism of the military.My mother was basically a hippie who spent most of my youth going through a profound rebellion against her WWII veteran father, to the point of implying to me that my Vietnam vet father died from illness caused by exposure to Agent Orange (he didn’t).The Iran-Contra affair and George H. W. Bush’s ties to Manuel Noriega – and the amusingly cynical portrayal of politics in Larry Hama’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – combined to give me a jaded view of war that certainly wasn’t helped by George W. Bush’s adventurism.I even wrote a really angry poem in high school taking soldiers to task for allowing themselves to be used as chess pieces.
San Antonio, TX is, however, a city with a…

Godzilla (early Showa Era) for Savage Worlds

And here's the King of the monsters after the events of Godzilla (1954), Godzilla Raids Again (AKA Gigantis, the Fire Monster), and King Kong vs Godzilla as he stands on the brink of transforming from villain to anti-hero.  He just has one last foe to face as a villain, a foe that will teach him to use his rage in the service of the Earth, a foe named Mothra.

Godzilla (early Showa Era) for Mecha Kaiju Sensō Tai!!! Saurian Kaiju Rank: Seasoned Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d8 (G), Vigor d8 (G) Skills: Burst d12, Climbing d4, Fighting d8, Intimidation d6, Notice d4, Stealth d4, Swimming d6. Charisma: -2  Pace: 6 (G)  Parry: 7  Toughness: 6 (G) Hindrances:  Arrogant, Enemy (minor), Wanted (minor). Edges: AB: Super Powers (Burst), Aquatic, Fast Healer, Nerves of Steel. Special Abilities Gargantuan Armor: Kaiju and mecha on the Gargantuan scale may only be Shaken by Heavy Weapons; their attacks count as Heavy Weapons for the purposes of bypassing Heavy Armor..  They may…

Godzilla (1954) for Savage Worlds

Instead of the spoiler-filled analysis of Godzilla (2014) that I want to write, I'm going to content myself with some stats.  The following uses my house rules for the setting sketch Mecha Kaiju Sensō Tai!!!

Godzilla (1954) for Mecha Kaiju Sensō Tai!!! Saurian Kaiju Rank: Novice Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d8 (G), Vigor d6 (G) Skills: Burst d12, Climbing d4, Fighting d8, Intimidation d6, Notice d4, Stealth d4, Swimming d6. Charisma: -2  Pace: 6 (G)  Parry:Toughness: 5 (G) Hindrances:  Arrogant, Enemy (minor), Wanted (minor). Edges: AB: Super Powers (Burst), Aquatic. Special Abilities Gargantuan Armor: Kaiju and mecha on the Gargantuan scale may only be Shaken by Heavy Weapons; their attacks count as Heavy Weapons for the purposes of bypassing Heavy Armor..  They may only be wounded by G-scale weapons such as the weaponry of other G-scale creatures and weapons of mass destruction.     Gargantuan Damage:Kaiju and mecha on the Gargantuan scale are considered to…


I definitely need to add some stuff about weather to the Gothic landscape section in The King is Dead's GM advice.  I am Fatigued and suffering a -1 to all actions...

Dreams of Avarice

It's a weird, misty Monday morning here in San Antonio and I feel caught in a strange, dreamy haze.  I find myself caught up in fantasies of wealth, dreams of avarice...

WHen I fantasize about finally getting The King is Dead published, there are two artists I dream about using for the cover and interiors.  The one more familiar to the gaming public is the ubiquitous Wayne Reynolds, pernnial Paizo cover artist.  It's not just that he's popular and getting a cover by him would kind of scream "This is a real RPG!," I genuinely like his art.  It's got this chunk, kinetic, over-the-top-but-lived-in quality -- plus he's got some experience with both Gothic settings and tricorne hats through his contributions to Magic: The Gathering's Innistrad and Green Ronin's Freeport lines.

The other artists I dream about is hard-working comic book artist Francesco Francavilla.   Sometimes I'm not sure if I really love his art or if I just really love his appre…

The King is Dead: An Illuminated Example

So, here's an example secret society write-up from the upcoming playtest packet.  What do you think?
The Illuminated Freethinkers and cabalists
“The goal of alchemy is to change lead into gold – to change the dross of a dark and hopeless world into freedom and progress.” The Illuminated are a society of philosophers and occult scholars dedicated not only to the overthrow of the vampires, but also the reformation of society.  They preach the values of freedom, equality, and brotherhood (but what exactly those values mean is a topic of debate in the society).  Membership is theoretically open to anyone of any race or gender who accepts their ideals, but the majority of Illuminated are middle-class Mallean men.  They have members amongst the planters of the Colonies and gentry of the Pale, the merchants and professionals of the towns and cities, and the adventurers of Hammerstadt.

The Illuminated are skeptics, challenging the accepted wisdom of nearly two millennia of tradition.  T…

It's all Fast And Furious -- Until It's Not

Over on Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque today, Jack Shear has tips on how to build your own escalation die for use in the RPG of your choice.  The escalation die, for those who don't know, is a mechanic from 13th Age in which (basically) the players get escalating bonuses to their combat rolls if a fight starts dragging on too long.  Jack suggests its use with Savage Worlds, and I have to admit that I have experienced a few combats where it would have been a good thing.

I like Savage Worlds combat overall, but occasionally the dice just don't want to cooperate and something that should be fast, furious, and fun becomes a slog through a bog.  The most infamous example I can think of from my own experience was a ninja ambush during a short-lived pulp campaign I ran about four years ago.  It should have been pretty simple -- four seasoned Wild Cards against eight ninja extras -- but (in a hilarious example of the inverse ninja law) once seven of the ninja had been elimin…

Fiasco at the SA Sci-Fi/Fantasy RPG Gaming Guild

We played Fiasco -- Bully Pulpit Games' meta-RPG about powerful ambition and poor impulse control -- at the San Antonio Sci-Fi/Fantasy RPG Gaming Guild's monthly meet'n'greet last Friday.  It was fun, but I have to admit that it took me a little bit to warm up.  I'm so used to being the GM that it was a little intimidating to concede narrative control to my fellow players (especially since it was my first time playing the system) but I had fun and look forward to playing it again.

We played the Guy Ritchie-inspired Gangster London playset, so I got to use one of my British accents and one of my Russian accents too (for the same character, oddly, as it turned out my pig farm owner Clive was actually a Russian immigrant).  I managed to stay one step ahead of getting killed by all the PCs with reason to hate me, but my proudest moment was while filling in as an NPC.  I had no idea that I could do a decent Hermes Conrad impression until it came out of my mouth.


The King is Dead: A Gothic 18th Century that Never Was

I’ve spent some time this week working on the introduction for the player’s playtest packet.I’m actually surprised at myself for working so hard to get an introduction right, but it really is important.It’s part manifesto, part sales pitch, and part summary. The introduction draws the reader in and sets the tone of the whole work.

One thing I realized while working on the introduction is that the old “A Land in Need of Revolution” section from the early The King is Dead material only tells half the story.It embraces the Gothic vampire slaying and the 18th century conspiracy-and-criminals angle, but it doesn’t acknowledge the gonzo kitchen-sink part of the setting.Admittedly, the actual games I’ve played with Robin haven’t really involved that part either, but I really do want The King is Dead to be a setting that embraces all of what Savage Worlds offers.
Writing the new introduction has forced me to reexamine my focus, to fine-tune my vision.The films and television programs with th…

Penny Dreadful (2014 TV series)

Penny Dreadful commits the annoying sin of making Frankenstein (published 1818) contemporary with Dracula (published 1897), but otherwise it seems likely to be a lurid guilty pleasure – rather like the sensational pulp magazines from which it takes its name.
It feels like it started as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fan-fiction (or maybe a pitch for a series based on the movie version).In the first episode, we’re introduced to a spooky beauty (Eva Green) that easily could have started as Mina Murray, an old African explorer (Timothy Dalton) with more than a little of Alan Quatermain about him, a brash young American (Josh Hartnett) who reminds me of the LXG version of Tom Sawyer, and a medical man (Harry Teadaway) with a monstrous side (Rory Kinnear) that could easily slip into the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde role.They’re not the same characters, of course.Most of the cast are original characters created for the series… which actually disappoints me in a weird way; if you’re going to u…