Thursday, April 23, 2015

Adding a Little Salt to the Flayed King

Tim Shorts dropped a free S&W adventure on us this week, "The Flayed King." It's ballin', yo. Really it's more of a location than a sequence of events. It's still awesome and I still can't wait to use it.

How to complicate The Flayed King (for those who don't believe in a free lunch). Roll 1d6 or pick or use several of the following:

(Spoilers, kids. Run for the hills if you finna play in this)

1. The King will not speak unless the PCs offer someone to replace him.
2. The King has no tongue. To make him speak, a freshly cut-out tongue must be inserted into his mouth. This tongue is irretrievable and can never be regrown.
3. The King has a 30% chance of lying and telling the PC whatever false information will cause them the greatest harm.
4. The King tells the exact inverse of the truth.
5. The King speaks a language nobody has spoken in 1,000 years. (And remember he speaks only once a year) If the PCs catch enough of the phrase, maybe they can get a rough translation by consulting an old text somewhere. (Klaatu, verata, uh...n...nuh...nghamahm....)
6. The PCs can never speak aloud, write down, telepath, or otherwise communicate the information they learn from the King. Their hand writes something else, their voice catches in their throat, etc.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Alright, so I got to feel special for like a couple of weeks before Palladium let the cat of the bag in regards to their RIFTS licensing deal.

...I just have to say that this is pretty much the best thing ever. I love RIFTS, but even with extensive house-ruling the system kind of makes me want to chew my own tongue off. I'd played around with using D6 (the West End system), AD&D 1st edition, and even Fate Core for running the game...but I think Savage Worlds will do nicely. Very nicely.

Think I know what I'm asking the missus to get me for Xmas this year.

This is also the perfect way to introduce my Friday group to RIFTS. They seem keen on the idea (one of them has even played in a couple of RIFTS games), but they're already familiar with the SaWo rules.

So excited.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Choosing My Fate (and blowing my mind)

Currently brainstorming the upcoming Fate game with my crew. We're all tossing ideas back and forth via email. Right now these two premises seem to be in the lead:

1. Dimension Hopping Wanderers

2. Post-Apocalyptic humanity struggling against a superior mutant class.

So I was trying to congeal this in my mind, perhaps even combining the two settings. I was looking at artwork from The Strange (which seems cool but I'm not really into the Cipher system), but then today I was perusing my blog roll and was reminded of the news that RIFTS is getting a third party release via another company (and I know which one, but I'm not saying anything because it was entrusted to me in confidence) and then I looked back at my post and was like... Dimension Hopping and Post-Apocalypse... that could be RIFTS.

I'll pitch the idea to my crew of something like a cross between The Time Machine, RIFTS, and Sliders. Hot.
(Or just a hot mess....time will tell.) 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Trying to Wrap My Head Around Bliss Stage

I recently purchased Bliss Stage and Polaris, two decidedly indie and unabashedly narrative-focused rpgs from Ben Lehman. I feel like this strips me of any scraps of OSR street cred I may have had at any point since I started blogging.

Anyway, they were both PWYW, so I paid one American dollar each, with the notion that if I like them, I will buy physical copies of them. (Yes, I love my PDFs, but physical books, I just can't quit you.)If I don't like them, I will simply delete them, effectively just having given a vending machine trip to Mr. Lehman for sharing his ideas with me.

I have no idea what to do with these games. Like, even though I have read through the rules of Bliss Stage one and a half times, I have really no idea how the game works beyond a very basic conceptual level. It uses Fudge dice, though, so that's hittin'. (I have some crusty old Fudge dice from back in the day, as well as some slick but overpriced Fate dice I bought with the core book.)

I'm not sure that anyone I game with presently would like this. I've had groups in other times and places that would've been all over this, but I'd be very surprised if I ever got the chance to run this. Even my players who assure me that they'll play anything that I run...

My brain is already thinking about ways to repurpose this game, much the way that Thou Art But a Warrior repurposed Polaris. This is presently not a good thing, because I'd like very much to finish BXWoD and think of a good Fate setting.

I'd be remiss if I didn't pay Bliss Stage this compliment, though: Just as Icons is the only superhero rpg I've ever encountered that feels like a comic book (or rather an animated series based on a comic book), Bliss Stage is the only rpg I've ever encountered that feels like the mecha anime I loved back in the day, whereas games like Mekton Z just felt like we were playing "Battletech with Purple Hair" or somesuch.

No real word on Polaris, yet, as I've naught but skimmed it. Bliss Stage has my attention.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Deadlands: Happy Trails

Brought Deadlands to a conclusion tonight. Denver ended up a magical dead zone, with no spells functioning and supernatural creatures losing all power. Rachel and her husband fled to Chicago, Sebastian went away to train. We intend to pick it up in a 20's altered-Noir setting with wise old Sebastian being all Yoda and the grandchild of Rachel and Arthur.

And if none of that makes any sense, it's fine... just know that we had a satisfying and surprising conclusion to the campaign.

Oh, and I got them to agree to try Fate Core. Here goes nothing....

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sunken Tower of Tsenophal Initial Design

(If, by some chance, you are planning to attend the Nuke Con game day in June and plan to play in my game, do yourself a favor and don't read this. I mean, I can't stop you, but you'll possibly spoil your own experience.)

Some things I have decided about The Sunken Tower of Tsenophal:

-The true nature of Tsenophal will not be revealed.
-Possessing the Heart of Tsenophal allows you to break the scenario. If you get the Heart, you win. (Sort of)
-Possessing the Heart of Tsenophal dooms your character. (But hey, it's a one shot)
-The Heart will not be at the "end" of the dungeon. 
-Some of the pregen characters have goals that have nothing to do with the Heart.

More as I think them up.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Sunken Tower of Tsenophal

"He who holds the Heart of Tsenophal shall rule Igoroth the rest of his days."
                                                                                             -The Prophecies of Ikras, Canto II, Verse 437

Tsenophal was a god. Tsenophal was a demon. Tsenophal was an archmage of unthinkable power. Tsenophal was but a man, a messianic cult leader. Tsenophal was a golem that descended from the heavens. Tsenophal never existed. Read a dozen texts of old and you will find a dozen accounts of what Tsenophal was, but all agree on one thing: the tower where Tsenophal resided stood upon a silver mountain, and that mountain collapsed into a valley that flooded with water that seemed to come from the very stones.

Ages later, an earthquake has caused the flooded valley to partially drain, leaving the structure exposed. The Ikrasites claim that the time of prophecy has come. The King of Igoroth has declared the Ikrasite religion heretical and the prophecies blasphemous.

In these turbulent times, men dream of the Heart of Tsenophal, and the promise of power to come with it.


When I don't know what to run at a convention, I come up with a title. I then make myself build something around that title. I did it with the Temple of Zirugar several years ago, and that turned into a module trilogy run across multiple games at the same convention. The Sunken Tower of Tsenophal entered my head today, and the rest follows. It's what I'm going to run at the Nuke-Con game day in June. So be it!