Saturday, January 19, 2019

kickstarter krazy

For the last two years I've been kickstarting board games with the rational that they're coming with a ton of miniatures and if the game is bad then it's still worth it. Except I funded too many of them, plus I went Frogdog on the latest Kingdom Death and that helped to kill my wallet once and for all. I spent a decent grand kickstarting board games and game books just in 2018, and that's not something I'm proud of. I don't have time to play anything anymore either. I started this year with the idea that I was no longer going to help fund anything on kickstarter, and yet I've already broken that resolution by funding Silent Titans, Into the Wyrd and Wild, and now Cha'alt.

Cha'alt is the latest supplement by Venger Satanis, a native to my part of the country - his house is only 10 minutes away from mine - and it looks just as crazy and over the top as anything else he's written. He's had sixteen previous kickstarter projects and they all hit their goals, and were all delivered on time (I think the old school map was delayed but only due to a printing error). Cha'alt still has two weeks left and hasn't hit its funding goal yet, but I think this is the first time I've seen one of his projects with such a high goal set. It's also the first time he's tried to make a hardcover print run.

And now, I can't fund anything else for the rest of the year... unless Jacob Hurst creates a campaign to fund his next swordfish island book, but then that's it!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

escape from Vancian magic

here is a continuation of my ramblings about Vancian magic

What do I dislike about Vancian magic?
What do my players dislike about Vancian magic?

Solution: get rid of memorization.

What do I like about magic?
When a wizard, in DCC, rolls a 20 and gets an uber-result or a bonus effect.
What do my players like about magic?
When the spell does what they want it to do.

Solution: make the spells simple affairs that have the potential to make uber-results.

The idea I have now is to give wizards Magic Points that they use to cast spells.
Earning Magic Points by leveling up (this is a rough draft):
Level 1 = +1mp
Level 2 = +1mp
Level 3 = +1mp
Level 4 = +2mp
Level 5 = +2mp
Level 6 = +3mp
Level 7 = +3mp
Level 8 = +4mp
Level 9 = +4mp
Level 10 = +5mp

Wizards add their best bonus between Intelligence and Constitution to their Magic Point total at each level. A Magic-User with +1 to int and +2 to con gets +2 Magic Points (total of 3mp at 1st level, 6mp at 2nd level, 9mp at 3rd level, 13mp at 4th level, etc.) That might be too fiddly, but it's my starting point.

Spells also cost an equal amount to cast so a Level 1 spell costs 1 Magic Point to cast. There is no roll and no memorization, if the Magic-User knows the spell then they cast it. Magic Points recover completely after resting/sleeping for 8 hours. Magic Points can probably be recovered through meditation, magic items, or just having reduced costs for specific conditions. Some sort of crystal or plant, maybe both, can help a wizard recover MP faster. Some things, like monsters or cursed items, would drain MP!

Spellburn: if a wizard "burns" their Constitution they can create an uber-effect with a spell. Burned Con points recover at 1 per week, magical healing doesn't increase the amount healed or reduce the time needed to heal. Maybe a purple lotus flower could recover burnt Con.

Map spell progression to leveling, a 3rd-level wizard can cast 3rd-level spells, but do they know the spell?!

Specialists get reduced casting costs or can create bonus effects easier with their specialized school.

This all assumes a 10-level character progression.
Having written this all out and looking at it side by side, I'm leaning toward comparing the different versions of the same spells across multiple systems (AD&D, Labyrinth Lord, LotFP, DCC, plus anything else I own) and seeing if I can distill the spell down to a simple action with little need for adjudicating effects.

Saturday, January 12, 2019


I've been thinking a lot about how magic works in D&D and how it could be simpler. My players tend to be casual and don't read the rulebooks backward and forwards. Only one person I play with owns a Player's Handbook, and the rest of them are at the table for the ride I'm giving them. As a result, none of them have ever played a wizard or cleric.
"Too busy."
"Seems like a lot of work."
Just what I've heard from them. Meanwhile, I read blog after blog of OSR enthusiasts inventing rules for streamlining combat or generating random encounters, but nothing for just giving players a simplified wizard character with little to no work on their part.

Enter Stars Without Number. The original rules have a very streamlined and elegantly simple way for psychic characters to progress through their power. The revised edition expands on this system, adding common abilities attached to the psychic's skill level with the area of psychic discipline.

This last week I've been thinking about how you could apply this simple elegance to wizards, and there are a lot of pitfalls. How do you give them the ability to detect magic and identify magic items? How do you give them the same arc of power present in earlier versions of D&D? How do you allow them to specialize in one type of magic? I stopped trying to solve all of the problems and decided to just make my own wizards. I've never liked the Vancian system of magic, and I always felt the 2nd edition AD&D method of specializing in a school was hobbled with bad bonuses. I like the idea though so I want there to be two types of Magic-Users: specialists and wizards. Specialists would be characters who receive less power overall but get automatic bonuses from their school/affinity and Wizards would receive greater powers but would not be able to specialize in any way. So far, this is what I've come up with:

Assuming a 10-level character progression...
Magic is divided up into affinities, or paths, and a magic-user studies an affinity in order to cast spells from it.

Magic-Users have Magic Points equal to their Constitution score plus their Intelligence modifier.
1st-level Spells cost 9 Magic Points to cast at 1st-level. At each successive level, they cost 1 less Magic Point to cast. All spell levels act like this, thus a 2nd-level Magic-User casts 2nd-level spells with 9 Magic Points and 1st-level spells with 8 Magic Points. Specialists always reduce the cost to cast their spells by 1 Magic Point. Sleeping for 8 hours restores all Magic Points.

All Magic-Users can Detect Magic. They need to concentrate to see magical auras, which means moving slowly and taking no other actions. When a Magic-User touches an object, they instantly know whether it is magical or not, regardless of whether they're concentrating or not.

An example of an Affinity might be:

Level 1 = Speak with Corpse (spirit of dead body speaks to necromancer)
Level 2 = Scare (frightens opponent into fleeing/cowering)
Level 3 = Drain Life (touch creature and drain 1d4hp to gain 1mp per caster level each round)
Level 4 = Contagion (produces/spreads disease)
Level 5 = Enervation (fatigues living creatures)
Level 6 = Create Undead (raises corpses as zombie soldiers, or assembles bones into skeletal servants)
Level 7 = Magic Jar (necromancer's spirit is able to live on past the destruction of their body)
Level 8 = Clone (makes a perfect copy of one creature)
Level 9 = Death Spell (instantly slays one creature)

I'm not sure if this really works, I'm going to keep thinking about this though.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

poor parenting

I've been neglecting this blog. I've been content being a lurker on most forums and on most blogs, only commenting when I truly feel like I have something to add to a conversation, and largely haven't been making anything new, just working on my own games and keeping my players entertained. With the collapse of g+ I'm losing the avenue of expression that served me the best. In the meantime, I've joined reddit and I've decided to make writing in my blog a regular occurence, even though I believe I only have about 20 regular readers. Hi folks! and thanks for sticking with me during my protacted silence!

Things I want to do in 2019:
- produce a rulebook for my players, used exclusively at my table
- draw more maps
- write an adventure and publish it online
- write in this blog at least once a week

Not incredibly lofty goals, but it's difficult to make time for writing when I don't have a comfortable space to work in. These next few weeks I'm not celebrating the holidays, instead I'm cleaning my house, rearranging furniture, and preparing to sell a whole bookcase worth of board games, card games, and books just to clear out space.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

re-introducing the Horseman

Those seals are broken and the end has come.
Seems like we didn't all get the message, huh?
Well, somebody has to break the bad news to the fools gone deaf.
Better be one tough sonofabitch though.
These motherfuckers are likely to kill the messenger.

Johnstone Metzger once granted me permission to convert his Heralds of Hell playbooks into a legal-size format, and now he has granted me permission again to revise those same playbooks to the second edition rules for Apocalypse World.

This is the second of five, the Horseman, with all new artwork provided by Marie Ann Mallah!

letter size
legal size

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

re-introducing the Last Child

We knew we’d never live enough to grow old, but our children never even grow up. Between cannibals, plague and the black wind howling in our minds, the souls of our young are snatched from our homes nearly every day.

Except for that one, the youngest. The last one born, who looks at you like they say the sun used to, before all of this. Don’t speak of kill or be killed, this one has other means, so strange to see. Is this child really the last of us, or the first of something else?

Johnstone Metzger once granted me permission to convert his Heralds of Hell playbooks into a legal-size format, and now he has granted me permission again to revise those same playbooks to the second edition rules for Apocalypse World.

This is the first of five, the Last Child, with all new artwork provided by Marie Ann Mallah!

letter size
legal size

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

re-introducing the Grotesque

They talk about the apocalypse like it’s a curse. They talk about the apocalypse like it took something from them - the golden age of once upon a time. They talk about the apocalypse like it’s an act of betrayal, perpetrated by some malign entity.

They talk about the apocalypse as if they don’t realize you’re standing right there.

Thanks to the generous permission granted by Avery Alder, I have revised the Grotesque playbook to fit with the second edition rules for Apocalypse World, with all new artwork provided by Marie Ann Mallah!

letter size
legal size

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

random encounters as ability checks

When you traverse an unremarkable section of the dungeon, roll+LUCK (whoever has the lowest).
On a 10+, nothing will accost or surprise you until you enter another room/passageway.
On a 7-9, you're fine for now, but you can hear something in the darkness. Choose 1:
- you can't be surprised
- you can't be prevented from retreating
On a miss, random encounter (the GM determines what and how it approaches you).

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Megadungeon to rule them all

I don't think that I really like megadungeons. Not as written, that is. I think most are designed too cleanly, in one way or another, and a megadungeon should be messy and wild.

Stonehell is a wonderful concept, but many of the areas feel too lived in for what is supposed to be living in its halls. Plus each map is too uniformly square, which doesn't really make sense with the history the place has.

The Ruins of Greyhawk are just, well, dumb. Too many things that are designed to hobble a specific playing style, and too many areas that seem disconnected from one another.

I'm GMing Dwimmermmount again, and I have found that the limitation of this dungeon is in thinking of it as a center of civilization. There are no wide corridors for troops to march down, there are no plazas for marketplaces, and there are certainly not enough bathrooms for the supposedly hundreds or thousands of people who once lived here.

I've repurposed Dwimmermount as an old wizard's school and laboratory. Instead of the remains and evidence of soldiers, we have former wizards. The Empire didn't stop the ascension of Termax, a schism of his own students did. This opens up so many more possibilities. The secret society that wants to re-enter Dwimmermount to resurrect Termax is competing with a rival secret society that wants to re-enter Dwimmermount to ensure Termax is dead.

I've included the mountain's ecosystem as something to draw upon for random encounters. There is a magical explanation for why nobody moved in and out of the mountain for two centuries, but I rather like the idea that there are cracks through this magic and the lizards and bugs of the mountain found their way in to become natural prey for the predators surviving in dark hallways for two centuries.

The population is finite, however. There is no restocking of the dungeon happening here. There are 61 kobolds. Once they're dead, they're gone for good. Any result on the encounter table for kobolds should just be replaced with the next option down. In this way, I've also rewritten the random encounter tables, the most dangerous foes are the highest rolls. Kill, defeat, and displace everything that is weak on one level and the only thing that remains are the predatory threats who have run out of prey and food.

The rooms are not static
It's easy enough to just use the descriptions of the rooms and apply some common sense as to what might be in one. There are orcs on this level, so why is this room empty? Let's put some orcs here and have them cooking a snail and moss stew on a small firepit. Where does the smoke go? Nobody has asked, but there a small holes in the surface of the ceilings designed for ventilation. Too small to crawl into, unless you're an insect. Where do the vents go? All over the mountain, it's a three-dimensional maze that is virtually impossible to map!

That's a key trait that I just don't seem to have. If nobody asks, why bother coming up with an explanation for it? Because if I think of it, I need to explain it to myself and then I have an explanation ready.

Who wants in?
I've created a few factions that are looking for passage into Dwimmermount. They're all hanging out in the local town for now, but as soon as the PCs return with orc heads and stories of dungeon delving they'll be making their way up to the gates, and become instant rivals for the loot to be found inside.

The Order of Cytophim. A secret society of magic-users who wish to ensure that Termax is dead and never coming back. They vow to use magic to preserve the Law, and punish those who wield spells carelessly.

Termaxian Cultists. People who believe Termax is still alive, that his godhood is imminent.

Dwarven outfitters. They believe the mountain should belong to them. It was a dwarven home before Termax moved in and displaced them!

Sken's Rogues. These guys are awful!

Queen Ilona. A Thulian descendant who wants to reclaim Dwimmermount as her ancestral home, and rule a new kingdom from it. Inspired by the PCs from the last game I ran in Dwimmermount.

Wait! You're GMing a new Dwimmermount campaign?
Oh! Yeah. Didn't I mention that? I started a new campaign two weeks ago and kicked it off by giving everyone Dwimmermount as an adventure I'd like to run again. We're playing using the Freebooters on the Frontier rules, which is a sort of OSR-ified version of Dungeon World (itself a D&D-ified knockoff of Apocalypse World).

I really like the system for two reasons:
1) it randomizes everything very neatly and in a not complex way that is easy to GM on the fly
2) it is very deadly and careless PCs will get FUCKING MURDERED if they don't take care of themselves

So, I really like Freebooters and I incorporated some elements from the Black Hack into it, and that's what we're playing with. We had one session and everybody really successfully killed some orcs but they made enough noise to draw the attention of some giant spiders and now we'll get to see if they survive the second session.

This is the picture I used for Muntburg, I forget where I grabbed it from:

To summarize, my rules for GMing a megadungeon, or Dwimmermount, anyway:
Nothing is organized, the rooms and the creatures are wild and messy!
The population is finite, and can be killed off, displaced, or recruited/enslaved.
More people want to get inside!

Friday, April 13, 2018


Two years ago, my wife and I visited Seattle, as a prelude to possibly moving there. I have friends in Seattle, I had never been there, and I wanted to experience as much of the city as I could.

I didn't get to do everything I wanted to do, but I returned home looking at the budget for moving there. I bought boxes for storing and shipping my collection of game books, and when I ran out of boxes I bought more. I ended up with 25 boxes of books, which I moved into my basement, and I still had a bookcase full of books!

I made the decision to get out of debt before trying to move out of state, and so I've spent the last two years trying to do that and during that time I would occasionally need a book that was down in the basement, in a box, and if I really wanted the book I would go downstairs and hunt for it amongst the boxes. If I felt like I could make do without it, I would just wing it or use a digital copy of the book.

In December, I decided to pull all of my boxes up out of the basement, and as I pulled books out of the boxes I started to wonder "Am I ever going to play this game again?" and "Why do I own this? I'm never going to use it!" I started putting books back into the boxes, with the idea that I would sell the entire box and ship it to whoever would buy it, as is. There's not much of a return in selling in bulk like this. I've probably spent about 20 grand on gaming books over the last 20 years and in selling half of my collection I think I've only made about 5 grand. I had a lot of rare, collector's items, but I also had a lot of filler and cheap books. Most of it's gone now.

Here is an obligatory picture from before the purge:

At the moment, I have two bookcases that represent the books I am keeping but I would like to get it down to one - this doesn't include board games or miniatures because they aren't selling so well. I put eight board games up for sale and only two of them were bid on. At some point, I may just give the games away to clear out space.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

introducing the Dog

Man's best friend.

If they only knew.

A playbook for Apocalypse World that puts the player into the role of a psychic dog, heavily inspired by the novella A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison.

letter size
legal size

Friday, September 1, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Regurgitation

I preferred Twin Peaks when it had a tired, saggy second season that ended with the bad guy winning!
I have almost total and complete non-interest in finishing Twin Peaks. The resurrected show is not fun to watch, it's boring, and, most importantly, it's frustrating.
I am fairly confident that one could take all 18 episodes of The Return and edit out all of the fluff and silence and scenes with "Douggie" to a two hour film. Perhaps they should have.
It's only funny in moments where there is literally nothing happening, and only then it's amusing because you're aware that David Lynch is fucking with you. Every time a conversation lags or the camera lingers on a face for more than five seconds or we see somebody tie the laces of their shoe, you can think "Wow, David Lynch got paid to make this?"
It's hard to elevate trash by being trash. Nothing about this new show is appealing.

Yet, I can't stop watching it.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Apocalypse World (actual) playbooks

Look what I made!

These are actual books with flippable pages, designed to be used by complete newbies to the game of Apocalypse World - or even new to tabletop gaming in general.

I've been MCing two games for the last few months, one with players who are well-versed in Apocalypse World and the other with a group of guys who have never played a tabletop role-playing game before. The newer players really prefer these books to the standard letter-size playbooks, and even the seasoned players who prefer the traditional 1st edition trifold playbooks have started gravitating to these flipbook-style playbooks. After the last few sessions, almost everyone in both groups has asked for one of these.

Note: I made a few adjustments to the writing of the traditional playbooks
click these pics to embiggen

1) the CREATING YOUR playbook section is more illustrative and explanatory. There is a step-by-step description for making a character out of the playbook on the back cover - and pages are numbered so everything is easy to find. The phrasing here is often what I say to new players, and rather than hand them a playbook that doesn't have these statements in text I inserted the statements into character creation. That way, I can just hand them the playbook and they'll have fewer questions.

2) under GEAR the word "fashion" is replaced with "clothing" to avoid confusion with the earlier use of the word "fashion" under LOOK, "clothing" is what you're wearing and "fashion" is how you're wearing it.

3) START OF SESSION moves are notated on the first page of text. This helps remind players that this is what we do when we start. LIFESTYLE is explicitly placed before CHANGING HIGHLIGHTED STATS or START OF SESSION moves (if any) based on how I personally MC the start of my games. Also, I never remind players to change their highlighted stats, I allow a player to remind everyone - you might be surprised how often it doesn't happen when you don't mention it.

4) BASIC MOVES are in the very center of the playbook so the book can be spread easily to look at them. ADVANCED versions of the MOVES accompany them with the choose-style circles that are present with a playbook's MOVES, so when players do advance the BASIC MOVES they can notate for themselves which MOVES they have ADVANCED.

5) lots of empty space for note taking and extra moves and shit. Because not every playbook afforded a lot of room, every one of these playbooks has a page dedicated for NOTES!

6) END OF SESSION move is on the last page of text before the back cover. This helps illustrate to players that they should be aware of the BARTER and HARM MOVES as well as the GANG and VEHICLE moves, since these take up the pages just preceding the END OF SESSION move.

7) these don't have artwork! When I first started making these I just didn't have time to scale the artwork onto the covers as I was more concerned with making these playbooks functional and printing them off for my players. Consequently, I've found my players use the covers to draw their characters or sometimes use the extra empty space for more notes. So, I'm leaving them blank for you too.

8) no BATTLE MOVES! This isn't really different, but I thought it was worth pointing out because I made an entirely separate playbook for the BATTLE MOVES! However, I don't print off enough for all of the players. If you've got 5 or 6 players then only keep out 3, if you've got 3 or 4 players then only keep out 2. This keeps the players constantly having to share or exchange the BATTLE MOVES when they come into play, and as an MC I really like watching this happen.

9) not really a thing but I made a CHARACTER MOVES playbook that incorporates all of the moves from the expanded playbooks, and I only printed one of these off - forcing players to share, yes, but I also keep the CHARACTER MOVES book next to myself during play for my own reference.

How to print and fold them: remember you can click these pics to make them bigger

Print double-sided, if your printer does this automatically then just select "flip on short edge" when you're printing. This pic shows what my printer specs look like before I print these off.
If your printer doesn't flip the paper automatically then obviously you're going to have to do this yourself. It's a little bit of a chore, alternately you could just print all of these single-sided and then have twice as many pages, but that's a waste of paper and you really won't need that much blank space for note-taking.

Every two pages has a line, fold along this line and (noting the page numbers) line up all of the pages in their proper order. Voila! An Apocalypse World playBOOK!

Staple them along the outer line if you want to get real fancy.
Be careful though, if you don't align your stapler properly you can fuck up the pages.

I fold the pages before I staple cuz I think it's easier.

Here are the links:
the Angel
the Battlebabe
the Brainer
the Chopper
the Driver
the Gunlugger
the Hardholder
the Hocus
the Maestro D'
the Savvyhead
the Skinner

the Battle Moves
the Character Moves

the Child-Thing
the Faceless
the News
the Quarantine
the Show
the Waterbearer

Sunday, August 6, 2017

state of the nerdwerds

I stopped blogging about my individual games, mostly because the history is getting too convoluted for both. Characters are running around the map, doing their own things, sometimes a player doesn't show up and we just ignore that part of the game world's drama, and I just found relaying a lot of that information tiresome. Especially for two games!

I run two games, and we've been playing every week. Every Saturday and Sunday I've just been busy MCing these two Apocalypse World games.

Last week one of the players finally used the lost move. This is Apocalypse World and lost does something funky: when you whisper someone’s name to the world’s psychic maelstrom, on a hit they come to you, with or without any clear explanation why. The player had been thinking that when he used the move, it would call the person to you in real time, and they would have to travel that distance to get to you. He used lost on another PC and I had the other PC just show up, next to his Skinner's side. He hit a 10+, so I just treated the result similar to bonefeel. The psychic maelstrom cracked a little and brought the other PC through.

That was fun!

I'm going to need a break from MCing soon. I've been buying components to build my own PC and once they've all arrived I want to spend a weekend just putting it together and setting it all up. I haven't had a really decent PC in almost a decade, and this one will be, well, if you know anything about computers you can see my part list on pcpartpicker - the only thing I have left to buy is the monitor.

New computer means new games. Most importantly, it will be fast enough to run the programs I want to use to make my own games. I have ideas for making little test games using gamemaker and unity. I used to make mods for Neverwinter Nights, way back in 2002 and 2003, and I want to get back into making things. I have ideas.

Consider this a state of the union for my blog. I've neglected this blog quite a bit because I'm not always gaming, and even when I am gaming it feels exhausting to just write up game sessions. I haven't been writing for the last month, and I don't want to lose that mental muscle. I want to get back into the habit of writing, even if it's just once a week. Going forward when I write something I'm going to talk about it here, when I work on my video games I'm going to write about it here, and when I play a game - even just a video game - I'm going to share that here.

Meanwhile, I have been working on this one project...
...I'll share more about it once its finished.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

threats for Apocalypse World

these are some threats I've used for my Apocalypse World games, merely transcribed from my original notes, I've reused some of these two or three times but sometimes I change the names

Whitney ♀
Warlord: Prophet (denounce & overthrow)
12-yr old girl, dark skin, piercing eyes
Cast: cultists +obedient +savage +violent, Teapot♂ Kettle♂ Piehole♂ Stuffing♀
Whitney always has 1-armor
when Whitney wants something and speaks to you roll+cool, 10+ it's cool, 7-9 the stick, 6- the carrot & the stick
when Whitney speaks to a crowd roll+cool, 10+ she doesn't turn on you, 7-9 she leaves you out -1forward, 6- she points to you as a threat
3 o'clock - Whitney offers jobs
6 o'clock - Whitney demands obedience
9 o'clock - her cult grows, in number or strength
10 o'clock - pledge loyalty to Whitney or die
11 o'clock - her cult spreads out to other settlements +influence
12 o'clock - her cult is everywhere, non-cultists are hunted/killed

Doctor Faustus ♂
Grotesque: Mindfucker (craves mastery)
Cast: current patients +stupor, Plumbob♂ geezer, Roark♂ burn victim
Faustus uses an Angel kit on PCs (they roll) with +1stock for 2-barter
Faustus has experimental treatments: complete healing in less than a day but you owe Faustus a favor
Anyone who owes Faustus barter/favor has -3ongoing vs Faustus
Faustus dies at 3-harm; when Faustus dies, all of his former patients take 2-harm ap

Jackson Indifferent
grotesque: cannibal - craves satiety & plenty (doesn't eat meat ever, satiety is not being bothered, plenty is peace)
shaved head, short, glasses, gloves
Jackson Indifferent doesn't get harmed by brainer gear
when Jackson touches you roll+cool, on 10+ Jackson fixates on you, on 7-9 answer 1 question, on a miss Jackson knows what you know
when Jackson fixates on you and you give him something roll+weird, on 10+ take 1harm ap and you felt Jackson in your head, on 7-9 you're at -1ongoing unless you submit to Jackson's desires, on a miss you can submit to Jackson as 7-9 and he can inflict 2harm ap whenever until you submit

Honest Jon ♂
Grotesque: Perversion (craves chaos)
when you want to buy something from Honest Jon roll+sharp, 10+ he's got it and it's for sale at a fair price, 7-9 he's got it but choose 1:
• he's gonna charge you extra
• he's using it, why do you need it?
• it's hidden in a cache somewhere dangerous
6- the MC chooses 1 above and "that's gonna take some time"
when you read Honest Jon, unless you have read a person advanced, you may only ask questions from this list:
• who do you trust the most?
• who is your weakest link?
• what's worrying you right now?
• how can I get you to take an interest in me?
• what are you looking for here?
• where was your last big score?

the Fetch ⚥ - idea from Zak Sabbath's blog
Grotesque: Perversion (craves overthrow)
pick an NPC and ask a player "where do you think they hang out?" their fetch is in that location
all rolls in the presence of the Fetch (including help/interfere) are made with roll+weird instead
3 o'clock - the Fetch offends someone important
6 o'clock - the Fetch invites violence
9 o'clock - the Fetch actively starts shit
10 o'clock - the NPC is killed and the Fetch replaces them, new threat!

it's fucking cold (landscape: prison - contain/deny egress)
push terrain, display something for all to see, hide something, bar the way, disgorge something, take something away
howling winds (terrain: exposed place - expose to danger)
inflict harm, stall someone, hide evidence
blizzard (terrain: shifting ground - cost someone their bearing)
inflict harm, isolate someone, bring someone somewhere

the Deep Ravens gang
brutes: hunting pack (victimize the vulnerable)
Dex - gaunt druggie with a fedex truck (tells stories, make them buy)

Monday, July 10, 2017

apocalypse worlds

I've been running two Apocalypse World games for several months now, one is on Saturdays and the other is Sundays, different players, different worlds, different plots. I've really struggled with the Sunday game, half of the threats have been eliminated and I'm at a loss for what to do. I started to make some of the minor NPCs more relevant in the last session, but the players tend to forget the NPC names a lot too, makes it more difficult to really suck the players into that world. Though now that I think about the Saturday group took some time to create interesting developments as well, most of the NPCs were easy to ignore at first, and the biggest threat was one of the players. But we've also had some player migrations with the Saturday group, cycling through the cast of characters a little, making it hard to form lasting relationships.

I really enjoy playing both games for different reasons, but feel like I might have to drop one soon. The creative energy needed to run two games has been cutting into my standup comedy, and I already felt I needed more momentum to write material. I've started doing a weekly interview podcast and I try to stay two episodes ahead of schedule, and I'm part of a monthly show now as well, though I often feel like I'm just a little too slow compared to the other writers. I probably just need to get more sleep.

Joesky tax? Here's something I just wrote this weekend
the Fetch ⚥ - idea from Zak Sabbath's blog
Grotesque: Perversion (craves overthrow)
pick an NPC and ask a player "where do you think they hang out?" their fetch is in that location
all rolls in the presence of the Fetch (including help/interfere) are made with roll+weird instead
3 o'clock - the Fetch offends someone important
6 o'clock - the Fetch invites violence
9 o'clock - the Fetch actively starts shit
10 o'clock - the NPC is killed and the Fetch replaces them, new threat!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Heck You!

Dear Batman,
You've been travelling for several days with Jonesy.
Aquaman and Leech have taken you upriver and today you're within sight of the SatCom Relay Station! Roll+weird.
On a hit, you know what Jones is!
On a 10+, you can ask any question and if the psychic maelstrom can answer it, it will.
On a miss, something has unnerved Leech and Aquaman and they've gone further upriver to scout out the area without you.
Love & Kisses,
Your MC

Jones is a spirit of the maelstrom

Dear Cynnymyn,
Since you sacrificed two of your cousins, the rest of your family has been struggling with its morale. Roll+weird BEFORE you roll+fortunes.
On a 10+, choose 1. On 7-9, choose 2:
• someone from your Family has gone missing (I choose who!)
Joe's Girl and some of her Burners have been hanging out with your family, this can't be good
Grome has declared your family to be outcasts, you have to leave Last York otherwise roll+fortunes is at -2
On a miss, all 3 and your followers are breaking apart! You have to fight your family to maintain order. Right now!
Love & Kisses,
Your MC

Oprah went missing, later on Cynnymyn let his family butcher and devour Oprah and Joe's Girl

Dear Jonesy Sundown,
You've been travelling for several days with Batman.
Aquaman and Leech have taken you upriver and today you're within sight of the SatCom Relay Station! However, it's currently occupied by a gang, they are well-equipped and probably violent, they've been here for some time. Roll+hard.
On a 10+, choose 2. On 7-9, choose 1:
• there are no traps set up inside
• the gang is not dug in, they can be removed with guile and cunning... or by getting incredibly lucky!
• the leader is unpopular and ineffectual, the gang will split up and leave if he gets killed
On a miss, none are true. Raw deal!
Love & Kisses,
Your MC

None are true!

Dear Ooplar Grand Cherokee,
It's been a few days!
Have you burned down Gnarly's place?
If yes, take 2-barter - pretty easy huh?!
If no, tell me why you haven't.
Then roll+cool.
On a 10+, choose 1. On 7-9, choose 2:
• you're all out of fuel. Time to buy some!
• the survivors of Gnarly's gang know where you are, and won't let themselves be caught off guard again.
• your APC won't start up. It's time to dig in for repairs!
On a miss, all 3. Good luck!
Love & Kisses,
Your MC

the APC wouldn't start, but Gnarly's gang was caught off guard

the big questions now are:
will JC Jason catch Batman and Jonesy before they can use the SatCom Relay?
how long will Grome's patience with Cynnymyn last?
who will be upset that Ooplar murdered everyone in Gnarly's gang?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Guaranteed Destiny

Dear Batman,
Look up the following battle moves:
stand overwatch
• do single combat with someone
• you're the mouse
• board a moving vehicle
(road war move, technically)
For this session only, the first time you attempt that move, you'll get an experience point (in addition to any other experience point you might earn for having a stat highlighted).
Love & Kisses,
Your MC

I decided to be nice

Dear Cynnymyn,
You and your followers have retreated to Last York to lick their wounds. Before you roll Fortunes, choose 1:
• for this session only, when you read a person, roll+weird instead of +sharp
• for this session only, when you make the harm move you roll at -2
• when you roll Fortunes, take +2 to Fortune
Love & Kisses,
Your MC

for one session only

Dear Jonesy Sundown,
Staking out the boneyard has affected you deeply, choose 1:
the boneyard has quickened your psychic development, for this session only, if you "get a new brainer move" it only takes 4 experience to unlock the improvement
the boneyard has shown you visions of important people around the area, add +1HX with everyone and I'll also tell you one of Grome's and Shark's secrets
Love & Kisses,
Your MC

this won't happen again

Dear Ooplar Grand Cherokee,
Anyone who helps you take out Gnarly and his raiders, will get +1HX with you for helping, and you will also get +2HX with them (+1HX when they first agree to help you and +1HX again at the end of the session; also, you don't need to tell anyone what you get out of it)
HOWEVER! For this session only, if you take Gnarly out without anybody else's help, you'll get 3 experience. Storming his compound might get you killed, but if you could lure him out...
Love & Kisses,
Your MC

Thursday, May 18, 2017

where four Apocalypse?

I haven't updated in awhile. Oh well.

The "city" of Partyville was designed by my players using the Apocalyptic Settlement Generator I made. Cards that were set aside were 'drug dealers' 'overgrown park' and 'entrance to sewers' - all of these things are ALL OVER the place in Partyville.

When they placed the 'dogyard' the players were describing these hell hounds that were immune to bullets and were spreading out into the "rich" part of the city. This is the first time I've said "Are you sure about that?" in years. Years! Point blank I said "You know, if you want the world to have ferocious bulletproof dogs from hell running around, I have no objections." and they quickly relented.

A lot of NPCs got killed. But some new NPCs have taken the stage.

Whitney is a 12-year old girl that everyone at the farms just south of the city listens to, and worships. Since Tum Tum got killed she wants to restore order to Partyville by any means necessary.

Doctor Faustus is a medic with a few experimental treatments that work surprisingly well. Both Snow and Jere-Mi sought healing from him.

Pamlico is a prostitute who works for Noah, and Noah is a madam who gave BLAKKSNAKE shelter and respite after his last fight.

Dog Head is the last living lieutenant who followed Tum Tum and even though he wants to give BLAKKSNAKE some payback, he mostly just wants to flee Partyville as fast as possible.

As for the PLAYERS' characters?
Dart is gone, officially, and is now relegated to NPC status - he's currently enslaved by INDIGO
T-REX has been captured by whoever killed Fleece (protip: I know who it is, nobody else does)
Crushed V disappeared at the same time
Snow is broke, so she got hired by Dog Head as an enforcer
Jere-Mi is repaying their debt to Doctor Faustus by acting as a combat medic for Dog Head
BLAKKSNAKE has been threatening everybody's lives and trying to find whoever crucified Bob Marley, but her gang is about to be raided by Dog Head


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Apocalyptic Settlement Generator

I made these cards for creating an apocalyptic settlement. I brainstormed a list of things you might find in a post-apoc settlement and out of that I assigned priorities to different items. Every settlement is probably going to have a Bustling Marketplace, right? But not every settlement is going to have an Entrance to Sewers or a Metalyard filled with scrap. The lower priority items went on later pages.

Here's the link to my Apocalyptic Settlement Generator - inspired by a post of Dyson's.

With the pages printed off, the players take turns drawing a card and placing it somewhere in the settlement. You can also "burn" a card, meaning you put it aside or rip it up or whatever and then the settlement either has NOTHING like that or it has a TON of those things or similar features. I did this with my group and the first card to get burned was Drug Dealer, which meant there were drugs everywhere and they were easy to find/buy.

It should be pretty easy to print off the first 2 pages and just use those, but additional pages should be good for adding custom details or expanding into a huge sprawling city. The last page is blank so you can add places you think you might need (also, with an editor you can go into the last page and just add items with the vtks_good_luck_for_you font).