Thursday, 31 December 2020

Books & Stuff (NS, No 9) - Reading in Dec 2020

 Finished Reading

Fritz Leiber, Swords in the Mist

In which our heroes Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser (strangely) transfer from the fantasy world of Newhon to the (equally fantastic) Ancient Near East.
Atomic-Age Cthulhu: Mythos Horror in the 1950s

A series of seven 1950s-set Call of Cthulhu scenarios.  Most are based in the United States (the one exception follows a US Army tank crew in the Korean War) and tackle 1950s bugbears: - communist villains, nuclear power, juvenile delinquency,  rock and/or roll and Stuff from Outer Space.

It's always hard knowing a scenario just from reading it, but these seem an interesting, if mixed, bunch.  There's also a brief over-view of the 1950s (in the US) and how one might set mythos RPGs there.  

I read some very mixed reviews online, but at the moment it's in warehouse clearance for UK buyers, and worth the £7.34 they're asking for softback copy and pdf.  But you'll need the pdf - the reproduction of the (not great) artwork in the hardcopy isn't very good.

Currently Reading

Fritz Leiber, Swords Against Wizardry

After a tedious mountain-climbing story with a shaggy-dog of a climax (and which I was surprised to see was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1966), the heroes get down to some proper Swords and Sorcery adventures.

MR James, Collected Ghost Stories

What would the period between Christmas and New Year be without the genius of Montague Rhodes James?  Dull, that's what.

Gaming in Dec 2020

  • 2 Dec 2020 - Blackmoor(ish) (OSE) - On-line 
  • 9 Dec 2020 - Blackmoor(ish) (OSE) - On-line 
  • 20 Dec 2020 - Wasters (OSE) - On-line
  • 23 Dec 2020 - Grimbo Grotto (Christmas on-off) - On-line
  • 30 Dec 2020 - Blackmoor(ish) (OSE) - On-line

Blackmoor (OSE)

As mentioned in last month's round-up, our regular GM is taking a break from his duties, so we're having rotating GMs.  We're maintaining continuity of characters, but the setting is not strictly the same as Dave's Blackmoor hack.

This month it was my turn as GM (my PCs having gone to 'Shroomfest).
  • 2 Dec
All they have to do is keep
Gwendolyn safe from harm...

The party rescued a damsel in distress and were taken home to meet 'her mother'.  They seemed to expect her to turn into a wolf at any minute, so didn't enjoy the tea, cake and lashings of ginger-beer as much as they might have.  But they agreed to accompany the young witch apothecary's apprentice on a foraging trip (on the basis that she is guiding them to an unlooted tomb of a Dwarven warrior).  What could possibly go wrong?
  • 9 Dec
Death by heraldic beastie...

The group came across a group of Goatmen dragging a Halfling and a Dwarf along as prisoners.  After a rescue, the two were accepted into the party (they were PCs).  This was a decidedly bad idea.  The Halfling (Alignment: Chaotic Stupid) decided that it would be cool if he could creep up on two dozing Wyverns and tie their tales together.  Result: three PCs dead (in addition to one Retainer killed in the earlier encounter) and the rest scattered to the winds.
  • 30 Dec
"Look's like goat's back on the menu boys!"

After our Christmas excursus (see below) we returned to the mission towards the Dwarven Tomb.  Giant vampire bats disposed of, the party came across a couple of Goatmen marking their territory*.  They put a well-crafted plan into action, killing the one with the paint-pot and toupee**, and capturing the other.  He was subsequently traumatised by the sight of the Halfling (literally) butchering his workmate and proved very helpful.

*Am I strange in that when I read on a random table of two Goatmen 'marking territory', I immediately see one with a pot and brush painting stones white, while the other loafs with a woodbine hanging from his mouth telling him what to do?
** Oh, I love random tables!

They took up position within striking distance of the Tomb (which they now knew to be the Goatmen's new base), only for an orc raiding party to pass by their camp.  The Dwarf's sense for treasure was all a-tingle, so rather than letting them go, they attacked.  At the cost of a dead Halfling, they now have almost as much*** treasure as their mule can carry.  They are thinking of abandoning their (vague) mission and missing friends, and heading home.
***Randomly rolled.


We took on a job to go and steal a muscle car from one of the gangs in The Wastes, but got nowhere near completing it.  Our first attempt lead to a masacre, with only one party-member surviving.  On the second, we were ultra-cautious, and only covered half the ground necessary.  But we made the Big Score, finding a stash of loot that was so hefty that we couldn't carry it all away.

Grimbo Grotto
  • 23 Dec

As a Christmas treat we played this "Christmas Farcial Horror Aventure" written by Goblin's Henchman, and had an absolute blast.

The funniest thing was when the party (having captured a Gnome) asked if there was anything dangerous in the next room.  I had to say in my (Scouse) Gnome voice "Well, there's a Giant Putrid Gravy-Spewing Undead Turkey.").  It took me three attempts to say that without cracking up and (foolishly) they didn't believe him.

The scenario is Pay What You Want on DriveThru RPG.  I was worried how this might go down, but it proved to be the highlight of the month's gaming!

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Wasters No 2: "A Quick, Clean Job"

Played 21 Nov 2020 (On-line) 

This was the first session I’d played of ‘Wasters’, a cyberpunk hack of Old School Essentials.  I’ve written a short outline of the setting here.


Games Master 



“Two-Brains” - Level 1 Analyst  

Retainer - “Yellow Dog” Level 2 Analyst 



Wispa – Level 1 Infiltrator.  A 12-year-old psychopath. 


Retainer – Wilber, Level 1 Sentinel  



Jax – Level 1 Infiltrator 



Damon – Level 1 Sentinel 


Retainer – “Meatshield”, Level 1 Sentinel. 



Rezzer – Level 1 Infiltrator 




We were misfits from our broken society, those who had chosen to leave the dystopian slums and to go into The Wastes, scavenging for whatever we could find.   

Club Lavender
The watering-hole and meeting-place for such misfits is Club Lavender in the Safe Zone.  It was there that we picked up our job: to go and retrieve maps and surveying tech that was in the admin buildings of a long-neglected park.  The reward was to be a data chip containing useful (and therefore valuable) information that we could trade for hard cash. 

Before we set out, we managed to hire a mixed bunch of retainers.  In addition, Wispa bought some tech – an amour that the vendor promised would be worthwhile.  At the last minute though, she decided that it was too risky to trust it on a mission without it being tested first. 

As Wispa had the most experience in The Wastes, she led us through the ruins, managing to avoid gang territories.  At first travel was uneventful: we saw gang tags and heard shots, but weren’t interfered with.  Towards mid-afternoon, however, we were approached by a group of nine strangers, apparently armed with knives.  Warnings and threats didn’t deter them, so Wispa took a pot-shot, killing one.  After that they scattered.  An examination of the body found no gang marks and only meagre possessions: they were probably Muggers. 

Artwork by James Chadderton

After an uneventful night’s rest, we set out on our eastward journey.  We encountered wild boar rummaging around in the ruins of a burn-out fast-food joint, but were able to avoid them easily.  It was with some surprise at our good luck so far that we then entered into the Park.  The rest of the day was spent scouting the block and turning over the ruins of the admin block.   

Having successfully discovered the maps and surveying tools, all that remained for us to do was to return to the Safe Zone.  We determined that, given the number of wild animals roaming freely, the Park wasn’t a safe place to spend the night.  Therefore, we moved into an adjoining block as, despite it being deeper into the Wastes, we could see that it was unclaimed territory. 

We settled down in a deserted office building for the night, but during Wispa and Wilber’s watch they heard animal noises in the street outside.  All, apart from Two-Brain's retainer went out (she earned the tag “Yellow Dog” as a result), only to be attacked by a pack of feral hounds.  In the ensuing melee Jax was savaged and killed.  Meatshield insisted that it was a proper tribute to cook and eat the defeated hounds. 

The next day, rather than returning to Club Lavender, we decided to scout this new block and to see if there was any other loot worth taking.  We came across one building of interest, a relatively intact warehouse which seemed to still have power. 

Unfortunately, both our Infiltrators were unable to break in without setting an alarm.  It was immediately clear that we had broken into a very dangerous building indeed.  Not least because in the corner was a naked, bound and gagged prisoner, chained to a chair and nodding his head wildly.  Wilber took off the gag only to hear “The whole place is rigged to blow!”.  As we tried to leave, the gang members erupted from the back room.  Wispa and Meatshield hurried the prisoner along, but he attempted to set off the booby-trap in order to delay the axe-wielding gangstas.  This was mainly futile, only managing to wound one and himself.  Meatshield’s attempts to save him were unsuccessful, and the prisoner was hacked to pieces before he even managed to tell us his name*.  Meatshield sacrificed himself, holding the rear and allowing the rest of us to retreat to a safe distance.  When it became clear to the axemen that they weren’t going to be able to bring us to melee before we picked them off with our carbines, they stopped the pursuit. 

*This was in fact Rodrigo's replacement character, Damon.  After his death, Meatshield was promoted to PC, albeit briefly.

After such a bruising encounter, we made our way as directly as possible into the Safe Zone, keeping a low profile.  We took a diversion to avoid a Police patrol and, later, had to dump our rations to distract some marauding boars. 

On returning to Club Lavender we received the data chip.  Once decrypted by Two-Brains, it contained intel on gang movements, with a street value of $5,000 in the Safe Zone or perhaps twice or three times that in The Wastes.  We opted for the quick payment. 

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Kickstarter Watch: Pig-Faced Goblins and Dog-Faced Kobolds

Now, as many of you will know, I'm old-fashioned (comfortably so - it's to do with my age).  I likes me Orcs to be pig-faced and Kobolds to be doggy rather than lizardly.

Those of a similar bent might like the Kickstarter by RBJ Game Co for Yippers and Squealers - pig-faced Goblins and dog-faced Kobolds*.  It's already well over target with a fortnight to go.

*They did pig-faced Orcs in a previous Kickstarter.

To be honest, the schnauzer-like Yippers are probably a little too cute to be successful Kobolds, but frankly they are such nice things, they're probably worth having on their own account.

International postage being what it is, I won't be backing this one.  Had it been based on this side of the Atlantic, I think I probably would have some of those doggos.

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