Sunday, April 29, 2012

So, Conan

Finally saw the 2011 adaptation last night. Not as horrible as I feared and certainly no goofier plot wise than the Arnold version.

I will give it this; it certainly looked the part, some of the scenery and locations were fantastic, even if I’m pretty sure it was the same four broken columns at every location. Jason Momoa really does look the part and he was not bad given the limits of the script. Rose McGowan was at least having fun. No other character really makes much of an impression, especially the “thief” who can’t get out of a cage. There is also the prerequisit personality-free love interest and I gotta tell ya, Khalar Zym is no Thulsa Doom.

As much as love Ron Pearlman, did we really need to spend an hour reliving Conan’s entire childhood? I am starting to loathe movies and books that obsess over origin stories. It’s tired and takes up way too much of my friggin’ time. Give me some mystery. What ever happened to ‘The Man with No Name’?

Some of the more groan-worthy moment:
-the battle where Khalar Zym overruns Conan’s village is a tactical mess. And for being ‘feared barbarians’, they don’t seem to put up much of a fight.
-so they hunt down all the pieces to the mask, then spend ten years doing nothing?
-Dropping rocks on a slave market … is gonna kill a lot of slaves.
-Sand wraiths that can jump three stories straight up and can merge with the ground are killed by .. falling?
-a thief who’s main skill is a ring of keys? Ho-Ho! Magic!
-a rowboat full of soldiers sneaks up on a ship full of pirates in the full light of morning?

So what part of the movie would be useful in your roleplaying game? Not much. Any DM worth their dice would have seen this stuff a few hundred times. There is a *sigh* city of thieves, a summoning ritual over a (really, really deep) pit of fire, a monastery of peaceful monks (some who know kung-fu, some who just die a lot), a tentacle fight, and they even throw in a skull-headed mountain. Your best bet is to find some screen caps of the backgrounds, cities and maybe a few of the secondary characters for NPC ides and use them for inspiration. As I said, most of it looked cool.
Conan thee Movie Blog has some good pics.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Is this statue evidence of a Gladiatrix?, via the History Blog

The Pirates and ...

I just learned that in the UK, "The Pirates: Band of Misfits" is actually named "The Pirates: In an Adventure with Scientists" (which is the title of the book its based on) and plays up the role of Charles Darwin in the film. That alone makes it obvious they changed the name for the states, but jeebus on a pogostick it is utterly terrifiying when you think about it. I love Aardman, I'm so excited to see this!

Kids in the Hall Saturdays

Got things to do today!

I Dare You

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Red Dwarf Rides Again

First image from the upcoming Red Dwarf series. I'm very excited to see this and my love of the Dwarfers knows no bounds, I even liked 'Back to Earth'), but I gotta admit its starting to look a lot like 'Last of the Summer Dwarfs".

April A to Z: The Continent of Zhuul

Well, that’s 26 in 26 days.
yay!
Not all got out on the right day but hey, I got cancer … whaddayagonna do? I'm not happy with the quality of some of the later entries, but it was hard not to repeat myself and my attention has drifted off onto some other projects that I will elaborate here as they go.

I did manage to pick up a few followes, which is very cool.
Exploring the World of Nood
Z
The Continent of Zhuul

Lying like a squashed banana between the East Emerald Sea and the Seas of Mead to the south is the jungle cloaked continent of Zhuul.

On the far western horn, lie the Dribbling Deserts, once home to the mighty Byzhanistanium Empire, now a collection of warring city states and bandits that trade you a camel one moment, then steal it back the next. It is said that the ruins of a great civilization lies untouched in the heart of the Dribbling Dessert, unseen by mortal eyes since before the dawn of history, haunted only by the creatures that hunt in the deep desrt, djnns, and the restless mummies that stir in forgotten tetrahedrons tombs.

To the south, the deserts give way to the Savage Savannah, filled with terrible beasts and native tribesmen battling for dwindling resources beneath the burning sun. Where the great Knotted River empties into the South Emerald Ocean sites the city of Gozeria, the largest city on the continent and home to the Spicey Market, the Cockatrice Pits, The Tea Gardens and one of the world’s most famous schools of magic, the Academy of Acbracadabranas.

Even further south, and covering much of the squashed banana’s ‘bend’ lie the Jungles of Soul, filled with dark mysteries and its ever present funky mood. As the continent rises north again the jungles give way to mighty mountains and finally into the lands of Barbaria.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April A to Z: Yob Slobbersloth

Exploring the World of Nood
Y
Yob Slobbersloth

It came from the cold darkness between the stars, drawn by the bright souls that shone in that long dark, calling him like glitter across a stripper’s bosom to a drunken insurance salesman. It came, carefully at first, reaching into the minds of the fantastical, stupid and cruel, twisting their thoughts and desires until they served no-one but the dark master.

When the time was right, he came in the flesh, taking up residence in the Hazardrome, the grand gaming palace his followers built to his twisted desires at the centre of the once peaceful kingdom of Vanderdoom. As the years went by, Yob Slobbersloth’s influence grew and Vanderdoom became a Mecca for those seeking depravity, sin, games of chance and endless buffet tables.

The city’s influence slowly spread until a band of heroes known as the Wolf’s Army snuck into the city and enacted the Ritual of Begonning, expelling Yob Slobbersloth from the city, but also resulting in its destruction.

But the ritual was incomplete and as such, Yob Slobbersloth was not destroyed. His body was blown apart, but not one cell was killed and pieces of his flesh where scattered across Nood. Some lie hidden or forgotten, spreading their evil influence on the world around them, and anyone who dares live too close. Others have been collected by his followers, who seek to reconstruct their Dark Lord.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dvorak

Dvorak - a black card game that I'm post for my own perusal later.

April A to Z: Mr. Xiang's Dumpling Hut

Exploring the World of Nood
X
Mr. Xiang’s Dumpling Hut

Mr. Xang’s Dumpling Hut on Silver Eel lane in Cleopolis, is the last remnant of the fabled Empire of Pho.

April A to Z: The Wandering Island of Hyberia

Exploring the World of Nood
W
Wandering Island Hyberia

The Wandering Island drifts peacefully in the region of the East Emerald Ocean known as the Pointless Sea that exists between the Corsair Island and Kashamash. This region, known for its calm winds and still water is the bane of sail driven vessels. Sailors also claim that compass readings in the sea are unreliable and that even the stars move, drawing ships in and leading them in circles until food and water run out.
The region is known for drifting and wrecked ships; the crews long dead from dehydration and starvation. Many are still heavily laden with treasure if one is willing to brave the vengeful spirits of the dead crews, and occasionally strange creatures that crawl up from the still waters.
A lucky few ships reach Hyberia, a tropical paradise that wanders freely through the Pointless Sea. The native inhabitants are peaceful, welcoming and accommodating. They are eager to trade and have many rare fruits, plants and a potent beverage known as Hyberian Comtational which can fetch ten times its price in Port Eel or the Corsair Ilse.

Despite its reputation as a paradise, the old sailors claim the isle is cursed. They say that once a year when the Moons align just so, the island sinks below the waters where the inhabitants must serve the dark creature that lurks below the Pointless Sea.

Finding Innovative Ways to Waste Time

I actually tried out a MMORPG today. Kingdom of Loathing is a lot of fun and feels like I'm back playing Legend of Red Dragon from back in the BBS days.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April A to Z: Veeg-Seta Nine

Exploring the World of Nood V Veeg-Seta Nine The survey and supply ship moved into the system, paying particular attention to the second planet in the system; habitable with a complex moon system comprised of fifteen and a half lunar bodies. Lifeforms detected on the main planet, the ship drifted into orbit around the largest moon and began its survey mission. Without warning, the ship was suddenly forced to land on the moon, drawn to it by an unknown power. They landed at the gates of a massive palace, seemingly inhabited, but unsupported by any known means of life support… They were met by a servant that invited the ship’s Command Council was invited inside. After long deliberations and negotiations, Command voted to accept the offer and on the third day, they entered the palace. Six standard time units later, only the Quartermaster returned, mortally wounded and pursued by beings or creatures unknown. Once aboard the ship, he claimed that the rest of Command was dead and they had to depart immediately. Unsure of what action to take, the remaining officers attempted to put the matter to standard vote, but were overruled when the Quartermaster initiated the launch sequence, and expired. The Ship took off without anyone left capable of navigation and as soon as it left the moon, it began to spiral into the gravity well of the main planet. Plummeting uncontrolled into the atmosphere, it began to break apart as it fell.
It crashed into a mountain range along the western coast of largest continent, first skipping off the nearby planes and finally partially embedding itself into a cliff-face; an unfortunate turn of events that resulted in the destruction of much of the main engines and the death of much of the Engineering department. Finally, the Ship settled and the fires burned themselves out, leaving a colony of approximately 15,000 mid-level officers and technicians to survive on this strange world where the laws of apparent laws science can be circumvented through the use of inscrutable process known as ‘magic.’ The dominant intelligent species, in a mangled translation of their arrival on the planet call them, ‘Moonies’, but they are the Veeg of Veeg-Seta Nine, the city of the Moons.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April A-Z: The Umpteenth Mile

Exploring the World of Nood
U
The Umpteenth Mile

This small village, located deep in the Morning Wood is home to the largest Sasquatch population close to civilization. Though some of the gentle giants have travelled south to Cleopolis and beyond, little is known about their natural homes in the deep woods. At Umpteenth Mile, they have established a small community in town made up of a few large woven-branch cabins, located perhaps not un-coincidentally near the Burdle’s Amber-Mead Brewery that is also the main export of the town. The Sasquatch there are a little wiser than their forest kin, knowing the value of money and occasionally purchasing tools, weapons, supplies and great quantities of mead in exchange for goods from the forest including rare woods, mushrooms, furs, nuts and berries. Indeed most Sasquatch who are driven to travel southwards usually come from Umpteenth Mile.

April A-Z: The Tarlek Traders

Tand U are not my best efforts, but feeling really foggy today. Exploring the World of Nood
T
The Tarlek Traders

Moving across the open wilds of Flattened Planes, the Wild Beige and into the Black Expanse, the city of Córdoba is on constantly on the move. Run by the mighty Tarlek Traders, they are always in search of new looking for new goods to sell and new customers. Legend says that the city was once located on the Flattened Planes and was the centre of trade for much of North Albert, but after the rise of Cleopolis and Port Eel, the Tarlek Council decide to become travelling salesmen, uprooting the entire city and placing them on giant, wheeled carts pulled by the six legged beasts known as pedaphants. It is said that a Tarlek will sell anything. Dangerous drugs and slavery are the only exceptions to the rule and this mandate is enforced by the city’s Black Clerks, but not everyone is keen on following rules. The city is run by the Council, a collection of Tarlek clans that must pay for a seat. The head of the clan that contributes most to the Council that year is appointed Domo, a sort of mayor who leads the council. However, all determinations on where the city goes and what it does must be ratified by two-thirds of sitting council. The Tarleks are known for two things, their way around a sale and their eyewatering fashion sense. Each family clan has its own particular patterns and colour scheme and volatile feuds often erupt between clans if one feels that their style has been too closely copied. Indeed the entire city of Córdoba is decked out in a riot of colours and patterns that it can take the eyes a few moments to stop watering if first seen on a sunny day.

Kids in the Hall Saturday

Not because I gotta loose some weight, but because I somehow ended up buying a mega Hersey bar ysterday and could barely finish it. With my tastebuds ruined, strong chocolate is one of the few things left I can actually enjoy.

TWERPS Adventures in Time and Spacey-Wacey

This is what happens when I get distracted. Instead of working on April A-Z I ended up churning out a completely silly supplement for a game no one even plays anymore. Anyway here it is, The completely Unoffical TWERPS Campaign Book #13: Adventures in Time and Spacey-Wacey.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gamebooks

*sigh*, who do they fuck with things? Blogger has changed its settings and I am now forced to deal with them. Not a good sign when it took me two minutes to find the NEW POST button. Nor can I actually seem to VIEW my own blog. Wonderful.

Nevetheless, this post is about Gamebooks. A few weeks ago I stumbled across an old copy of Steve Jackson's Island of Lizard King buried in the back of my bookself. When I was younger I had played through the Way of the Tiger series and some of the Lone Wolf books. I had a few other Steve Jackson gamebooks, but don't remember if I played them as much. I am now looking to change that and have already started peaking into ebay and dug into a few second hand shops.

I'm also very eager to get my hands on THIS.

Since I'm working on a solo-game meself, I started digging around to see what the status of Gamebooks are in the intraweb and I was pleasently surprised to see that its doing okay. Its also nice to see that many of these games are being reissued (some as apps, which is neat) or being put up as freeware, which means I now have a decent cache stored on my zip drive.

BLOGS and Stuff

Turn to 400
Adventure Cow - write your own!
Fabled Land
Llyod of Gamebooks

Free Stuff!

Abandonia-Gamebooks
Project Aon - all the Lone Wolf books, free!

Then last night I discovered Heart of Ice by David Morris, an post-apok setting gamebook available for FREE and loaded it onto my ereader. As fortune rolled, there was a mix up at my chemo this morning and I ended up waiting around for two hours while the pharmacy caught up. Since it doesn't need dice to play,  I loaded up Heart of Ice and ran a game. Poor Mike the Mutant, he was doing pretty well until he started exploring the Ancient Pyramid of Giza and accidentally triggered an ancient nuclear failsafe that caused the destruction of the pyramid and I am assuming, a few square miles of frozen Sahara. Hey, if you gotta go, at least it has style.

I'm thinking of finding a dice-app that will work on my cell phone so I can try out some of the other games in similar situations. No one comments if you're jotting notes in a pad, but dice weirds some people out.

I intend fo try HoI again, which as I said is great because it doesn't need dice. But up next, my happy find for the month, my own, slightly batterd second hand copy of Warlock of Fire Mountain!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April A to Z: Sha'Nana

Exploring the World of Nood
S
Sha'Nana

Somewhere west beyond the Elvish Empire and the vast unmapped reaches of the Morning Wood lies a mythical land known as Sha’Nana. When the dark spectre of Yob Slobbersloth desecended on the city of Vanderdoom, the elves in their southern enclaves tried to warn of the coming doom by writing letters to the editor, calling all the morning radio shows and complaining endlessly to their kids.

When the influence of Yob Slobberloth began to spread, the elves saw no choice but to leave their sun washed enclaves and travel north in great caravans. They entered the Morning Wood, and disappeared. Five hundred years later, two hundred years after the Yob Slobbersloth was driven from Nood, they suddenly returned, though not as the one people when they left. Divided, they were now split into three tribes, the Silvery Elves that had returned, the Greyish Elves who remained deep in the Morning Wood, and the Elurid, the elves who had been left behind and were now pale and twisted from their underground existence.

What happened in that mythical realm beyond the Morning Wood? It is said to be land akin to paradise, of gentle rivers, flowing hills, under warm suns. So what prompted their return? The elves refuse to answer.


Sonnofa’TWERP!

I went scuttling to my game library last night to check a rules reference for my QUESTAMUNDO system and came across my old copies of TWERPS. Out of nostalgia I opened the cellophane bags and ended up reading through the rule book in about two minutes (because you can).

Don’t you hate it when you’re working on something only to realize that someone has already done it better? I LOVE reading through rule heavy systems, but I’ve never been able to play one successfully. My brain just doesn’t work that way and while GMing or playing I rather play Calvinball then Cricket. I just don’t have it in me to have to reference Book 3: Chapter VII, subparagraph ii, to figure out what the player wants to do. So if there is one mechanic that allows me or my players to improvise, so much the better. That is why I have a shelf full of Mechwarrior and Renegade Legion boxes, but I tend to play games like Talislanta (and the one-chart OMNI-system), the original edition of BESM (before the company went totally wacko), and WEG’s D6 system. But the simplest, purest game I’ve ever found has to be TWERPS (and to take a moment to shout out to its spiritual successor, the awesome RISUS).

Not only has TWERPS already used my idea for competing dice (but uses d10 instead of d20), they also incorporated a simple movement system for miniature use on hex or graph paper … all with one stat. I’m not going to drop QUESTAMUNDO, though I came close last night, since the main criticism directed at TWERPS seems to be limitations of the single Stat, which means most house rules I can find add Stats anyways. A least QUESTAMUNDO has four (or five) Stats to start, but I will be acknowledging my debt to TWERPS more often from here on.

Unfortunately, TWERPS seems to have dropped off the radar over time, so I’m going to do my best to keep the spirit of The World’s Easiest Role Playing System alive!

TWERPS LINKS
TWERPS on Wiki

Most comprehensive site I could find, but Warning: its an angelfire site so be prepared to fight pop-ups.

A nice and quick PDF for using TWERPS in Traveller

A setting for Cyber TWERPS

A Fantasy TWERPS rules-set that would fit well with an Anime Style Game

Mightygodking

via Mightygodking


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April A-Z: The Temple of Ramallama

I think this finally catches me up!

Exploring the World of Nood
R
The Temple of Ramallama

Deep in the Snarled Mountains, atop the highest peak on a mountain with no name lies a small temple tended by a handful of monks who never speak. This temple, mostly forgotten by the world around it, is the only known entrance to the Dungeons of Depravity; six hundred and sixty-six levels of dark labyrinth winding its way through the rock of the mountain and said to contain the souls of the six hundred and sixty six most vile, heinous, insane and utterly absurd souls ever to have walked the face of Nood.

When Yob Slobbersloth and his city of Vanderdoom was destroyed, a small force of monks from lands unknown landed in a small boat off the shores of the twisted Nether Regions. They began to hunt down the most affected by the unleashed Absurdity and took them to the unnamed mountain. Though the souls trapped within the mountain are imprisoned there, many have found ways to expand upon their underground realms, brining in treasures, guardians and even followers into their prisons. No one is sure if this is because the Monks numbers have decreased over the years, or if it all part of some mysterious plan.

The Monks allow anyone to enter the Dungeon, provided they survive the climb up the unnamed mountain. Some do so, seeking treasure or vengeance upon one of the souls trapped within. Returning is harder, for it is said that anyone who enters the Dungeon of Depravity and returns alive is destined to become one of the Silent Monks.

April A-Z: The Misplaced Continent of Qung

Exploring the World of Nood
Q
The Misplaced Continent of Qung

No one is sure if that is the real name or some gross mispronunciation of the land that exists beyond the great ocean off the eastern shores of Zhuul. Though some have tried, no one who has ever sailed that deep into the sunrise has ever returned, even the great explorer Zuzznufus Albertus XIII was lost, and only his polished skull returned, many years later, swaddled in a roll of silk bound for Kashamash.

It is said that in the time of the Caliphate of Byzhanistanium, mysterious vessels drawn by sea dragons would dock in hidden coves along Zhuul’s cliff and jungle choked eastern shore; trading rare spices, silks, gems for rare jungle woods, slaves and desert gold. These goods would crisscross Zhuul in mighty caravans as they traced well guarded routes to and from the markets of Kashamash, Port Eel and Cleopolis.

With the fall of the Caliphate, many of the old caravan routes faded away as civil war preoccupied the emirs. Trade must still go on however, as silks and rare spices can still be found if one looks hard enough. Exactly who is doing the trading, however, is still a secret of dark Jungles of Zhuul.

Super-Questamundo Heroes: The Black Racer

Total time-wasting post, but I have a few photos that I've wanted to use for my Super-Questamundo game and for some reason last night I came up with this... I tried using ICONS (which is my personal current fav ruleset for Superhero Play) but there is no 'artifact or item' power (like Thor's Hammer, Captain America's Shield or even Batman's belt). Image via Retronaut (click pic).

The Black Racer
Base of operations: Northern California, 1910-1918
Riding on his tricked out motorcycle “Thunderbolt”, the Black Racer was one of the first true heroes of the twentieth century. Known for his appearances at race-tracks, fairgrounds and trick riding as much as his crime-fighting, he is still famous for chasing down smugglers and other criminals on the expanding highways across the western USA. Though the Black Racer himself did not possess any known powers, his motorcycle was known to have a rocket-booster, a silent mode and numerous non-lethal defense mechanisms such as an oil-spreader and smoke screen.

The Black Racer is known to have travelled to Europe in WWI, though exactly in what capacity is unknown. He is thought to have died somewhere near the border of Germany shortly before the end of the war. “Thunderbolt” was never recovered, though the elite SS German Squadron known as the ‘Iron Horsemen’ possessed motorcycles and other vehicles equipped with suspiciously similar technology.

The Black Racer (Super-Questamundo Stats)
Rank: 6
Body: 7 Mind: 8
Spirit: 9
Skills: 7
Mechanical 10
Drive 15
Power: 12
Item: Thunderbolt
BodyPoints: 14
GoldStars: 11
Accouterments
-Armoured racing suit. Armour -5
-Pistol. Damage +4

“Thunderbolt”
Modified 1912 Harley Davidson Motorcycle
Speed: 10
Control: 2 (For Black Racer, 6 for anyone else)
Body Points: 10
-Armour -4
-Silent Mode
-Jet Boost/Jump (Speed 15, Control 10)
-Flame Cannon (Damage +4)
-Smoke Dispenser

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April A to Z: Port Eel

Exploring the World of Nood
P
Port Eel

North of Suck Swamp, nestled in Catbag bay sits the city of Port Eel, a semi-autonomous city state technically within the borders of the Elvish Empire, but operating as a city state with its own laws and ruled by a human governor. The truly cynical claim that the city was set up as a tax haven for the Elven elite, and point to the amount of trade that filters through the Port, taking advantage of the lax tariffs and easily bribed border guards. The elves of Cleopolis swaddle themselves in cheap silks while supping on tropical fruits and say nothing.

Indeed the city is a haven of trade, welcoming ships from across Nood and as well as serving as a market for people across south Albert, such as Tarlek Traders, Gnome Caravans, supply drones from Vega-8 and farmers from the Flattened Plains.

The city itself is a wild place with few laws that cannot be overcome with a quick bribe to the city’s Glass Watch. The famous Dred Docks are a welcome port to pirates and privateers while rogues of all types prowl the streets of Dead Dolphin Alley, Turbot Hill, and Wanton Park. Due to the city’s lawless nature and proximity to the Unpassable Peaks, Suck Swamp and the Dragons Jaws, certain inns and taverns in the city have developed a certain reputation launching the carriers of famous adventurers such as Jack Wolfshead, Banzar “Fireball” Beedle, Hep Sharptoes and Spazzer Shineschnozz. For that reason, it is said that Fortune herself sometimes walks hand in hand with Death into the Twig and Berries, The Swordfish Grill or the Capricious Unicorn.

10 Ways a Volcano Can Kill You

Good ideas for traps/hazards in a volcanic dungeon.

plus, for the treasure seekers, ten gems rarer than diamonds
via 109

Minister of Chance

Download the audio drama The Minister of Chance, now!

Monday, April 16, 2012

April A to Z: The Order of Chaos

Exploring the World of Nood
O
The Order of Chaos


The Order of Chaos is a shadow organization so secretive that many who are in it aren’t even aware they are in it. Most might work down on the docks and every Firenight they tell that nice friendly man down at the pub how many barrels with the black wax seal get put on the last barge and for that they he buys them a drink. Little do they know that they are telling him in code exactly how many Dark Disciples are travelling up the Flowing Stair, each carrying the heart of a Rended Devil as a sacrifice to the still living shrine of Yob Slobbersloth.

At its highest levels, the Order has been blamed for the atrocities of the Crawling Tower, the dangers of the Flushing Whole, the price of beer and the rise of certain popular troubadours. Nevertheless, officials claim that the Order of Chaos does not actually exists, despite all the complicated handshakes, secret gatherings and black robes that may or may not be hanging in their closet.

April A to Z: The Nether Regions

Exploring the World of Nood

N
The Nether Regions

South of the Unpassable Peaks lies the barren land of ruin and chaos known as the Nether Regions. Once the center of a sprawling kingdom known as Vanderdoom it fell under the thrall of the demon lord Yob Slobbersloth and became a realm of decadence, depravity and wanton sin. Everyone had a good time for a number of years until a small band of Heroes knows as the Wolf’s Army snuck into the Dreaming Palace and was able to perform the Begonning Ritual while plunging the Sword of Dragons into the Eye of the Golden Guardian, while destroying the Ring of Yob Slothersloth with the Hammer of Might. However, betrayed by one of their own, the Wolf’s Army failed to play the correct tune on the Canastas of Truth and the Ritual of Begonning was incomplete, resulting in the explosive destruction of Yob Slobbersloth’s corporeal form on Nood, (and a fair amount of rotting meat raining down up landscape) and a blast of absurdritch energy that levelled much of the kingdom in the ridiculous firestorm.

For years the region was engulf in a maelstrom of swirling, inane energies that rendered the land uninhabitable for close to a century. Once the storm began to pass, explorers began to inch their way into a landscape now so twisted it refused to play attention to any geographic, or temporal law. Monsters both fearsome and silly were born from the pieces of Yob Slobbersloth and even today, the land remains a bizarre and dangerous place. The Crawling Tower can been seen stalking across the landscape, The Endless Pit draws the unwary, The Shrinking Mountains are not a place to loose one’s perspective and the Orchard of Nigh are tended by the High Shepards. And at the northern edge lies the Burning Cliffs of Phlog, where Castle Sulk is said to watch all that transpires in the land below.

There are some signs of normality in the region; the town of Saferock has grown up at the mouth of the Knotted River and almost no-one turns into a goat there anymore. The town serves as a port of call for treasure seekers moving inland and as a point of trade for some of the bizarre inhabitants who call the Nether Regions home. The region is also infamous for the abundance of Goblins found here having, for strange purposes of their own, turned the ruins of Vanderdoom into the spinning fortress known as the Clockwork Castle.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April A-Z:The Morning Wood

Exploring the World of Nood

M
The Morning Wood


The northern west reaches of Albert are covered with thick wilderness known as the Morning Wood. Much of it remains unexplored; the last significant habitation is the village of Mulched Foot about two days journey west of Cleopolis. Beyond that, there are only a few outlaws, adventurers and hermits, but the deep woods are only truly home to the Greyish Elves and Sasquatch. The land itself varies widely from deciduous glens separated by wide meadows to the south, to thick pine forests in the higher latitudes. The trees stretch on for league after league, broken only by rivers, lakes and mountains unseen and unnamed by humans.

The woods are a dangerous place, filled with lost ruins, mad wizards, duplicitous witches and hungry monsters. Trolls, winged moose, savage squirrels, sabertoothed sloths, drop bears, wholly crocodiles and other fearsome creatures can be found in abundance here. Even many of the plants themselves are dangerous; siren trees, purple mushrooms, ambush elms, and dysentery berries all making life difficult for any erstwhile explorers.

Only the elves know what lies beyond the Morning Wood, though according to legend it is the Elvish paradise of Sha’Nana. But as one scholar dared write, if it was paradise, why did they return?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Fantasy Author's Exam

Writing a novel? If you answer yes to more than one of these questions, shred the f*cker and try again.

I've love to see one of these for game designers.

April A-Z: The Little Kingdoms

L
The Little Kingdoms

Along the northern edge of Backwash Bay, across the flanks of the Middling mountains huddle the Little Kingdoms. When Penultima, the last kingdom of men was conquered beneath the stylish boot heels of the Elvish Legions, the Lords of Glorianna scuttled the royal family and, typically of elves, promptly forgot about all it. Without a king of their own and general ignored by the Elves, the people of Penultima broke into smaller and smaller factions that laid claim to smaller and smaller portions of the once sprawling kingdom. By the start of the Age of Ennui the kingdom had been reduced to a patchwork of tiny land-holdings, some no larger than a few square feet (quite literally, the Barony of Gardiloo consists of a small hill, an oak tree and an outhouse that the Baron out rents to passing travellers).

Some of these miniature lands are brutal oligarchies where megalomaniacal emperors lord over their subjects, while others are balanced democracies, autonomous collectives, or communes, and there even a few where being a politician is punishable by death. If a style of government has been tired, chances are it is there somewhere and there are probably a few that have never been tried anywhere else (for instance the xenoarchy of the kingdom of Juniper, where a random stranger is chosen as their monarch. The stranger is never informed of her new found royalty, but her every word is treated as the letter of law for as long as they remain in the kingdom.)

April A-Z: Kashamash

K
Kashamash

The independent, island state of Kashamash began as a port of trade, penal colony for the Caliphate of Byzhanistanium that once ruled over half of Zhuul. When Byzhanistanium crumbled, the region fell into a brutal civil war, known only for reasons lost to antiquity as the War of Nine Goats, that reduced the capital of Byzhan to ruin and disrupted the lucrative trade routes that had been the life’s blood of the caliphate.

As the war raged on the continent, Kashamash was largely removed from the fighting and many of the Emirs and Sheiks began transferring their money to the island where it remained under the personal protection of Sheik Sh’ek, who had once been chief vizier to the Caliph. Of course, Sheik Sh’ek charged a reasonable fee for his services and soon grew quite rich. When the port city of Antiquita burned, taking with it the Caliphate’s remaining fleet of ships, Kashamash declared itself a fully independent city state and opened its ports, and Bank Houses to anyone.

Since then the island has become a thriving port entered around the only city also known as Kashamash. Traders from across Nood and beyond congregate here and the city is dominated by the vast marketplaces where no goods are considered forbidden if price is no object. The city is open to anyone and things are kept peaceful by the Sheik’s red-caped soldiers that can be found throughout the city, though it is said that the real police work is done by a network of spies and informants known as the Red Whispers, who’s ears can hear all the way to Cleopolis and the shore of the Misplaced Continent.

Beyond the city, a few of the richer inhabitants have palatial homes or plantations though arable land is sparse and covered in thick jungles. A tribe of cannibalistic halflings known as the Babu once roamed the island, but are now found mainly in the volcanic cliffs around the island’s isolated north coast. There is a region in the city known as Little Babu which is popular for tourists looking for shrunken heads, rare feathers and other jungle treasures. Those that brave the local takeaway shop do so at their own risk.

Kids in the Hall Saturday

This one is probably NSFW.

I was reminded of this sketch because this is what the hospital tried to give me for breakfast. I have no idea what it was suppose to be and fortunately my tastebuds died about a month ago, but I can assure you it certainly wasn't as good as Kevin made it out to be...

Friday, April 13, 2012

April A-Z: The Jungles of Soul

J
The Jungles of Soul

On the continent of Zhuul, between the desert of Al’Kuzamh and the land of Barbaria lies the steaming Jungle of Soul, a dark and dangerous land lost to time. It is an unforgiving region filled with lost tribes, mighty kingdoms, strange and ancient creatures, malicious flora and more monkeys than you can shake out of a barrel. Where death awaits every careless footfall, treasure unimaginable awaits the bold, brave and the lucky, all punctuated by a distant, funky drums.

Little is know about the deep interior of Zhuul, save rumour, tall tales and the ravings of madmen. They speak of the savage Living Stone tribe made up of lost explorers who have succumbed to the primitive beat of the jungles; of Toonga, the Kingdom of the Apemen surrounding the wide green lake known as the Emerald Ocean. Of the half-mile high Cloud Falls and the leaping fish that jump upwards to their spawning grounds. Of the teeny-elephant graveyard where patient treasure hunters armed with tweezers can find enough ivory to fill a small sack. There are endless tales of mad wizards, lost cities of gold, great magic and fearsome beings from beyond the stars. In short, a great place for future supplements and adventuresome Heroes to explore.

What is known about the Jungles is that it was the location of the first civilization to rise after the Exile of the Gods. As the millenniums have past, almost all knowledge, including its name, has been lost and swallowed by the jungle, but the Black Ziggurat of King Zayus I remains, carved with strange hieroglyphs and so far impervious to penetration. An order of scholar-monks has arisen around the Ziggurat calling themselves the Assemblage of Zayus. They have claimed to have deciphered some of the hieroglyphs and have sent a letter to the Lyceum warning of a that a pattern on the topmost tier warns of a rare alignment of the moons that is due in one year's time. The letter sent is incomplete and what it warns of is a mystery. The Lyceum plans to send an expedition to investigate the claims and see what has become of the Assemblage, who have become oddly silent in the past few months.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April A-Z: Isthmus Island

I
Isthmus Island

In the hot and humid south, Isthmus Island dangles like an uvula off the shore of Cape Smuge. It got its name from the narrow strip of land that connects it to the Cape, but is surrounded by high seas and strong currents that submerged the land bridge for much of the year.

A lone watchtower stands at the edge of the Cape and is manned at all times by a small squadron of Imperial Legionaries. Being sent to the tower is considered punishment duty by most of the army, but those that serve a full year are often given significant promotions or honourable discharges with a hefty purse for their service. The soldier’s sole duties include sending a runner to Cleopolis whenever the land bridge is exposed, and preventing anyone, or anything, from crossing back from the island.

The soldiers have no orders to stop anyone to crossing to the island and without fail each time the bridge is exposed, a group of six figures dressed in green robes appears. Each leads a llama laden down with a large (and sometimes squirming) black sack and goods of every description. Without a word to the soldiers they cross over to the island. They do not return.

The island is heavily wooded with bamboo forests, palm groves and semi-tropical woodlands and rumoured to be riddled with sinkholes and limestone caves that can be flooded by the raging sea at any time. From time to time, soldiers on the watchtower claim they can see the something large moving through the trees, though what it exactly it might be is obscured by the thick canopy. At the far end of the island is a grey, half ruined castle surrounded by thick walls. At night, strange, ill-coloured smoke can be seen rising from the chimneys.

Some of the soldiers claim they have seen an evil hunchback in white who climes to the top of the highest battlement of the castle and points towards the sky. They say he rings a bell and yells, though even with their enhanced hearing, the elves cannot make out what he is saying.

Things that make me a little aroused.

Been a hella busy couple of days. Still playing catchup with my A-Z, but I'm spending the weekend sitting on my ass for five hours a day with tied to the bed with a tube in my arm, so I'm pretty confident I'll get caught up. In the meantime, I'll turn the blog into a link machine ... of AWESOME

TRON: Uprising Trailer


The best Game of Thrones video game we'll never get:
... via iGeektrooper

MMA Stats

This article is for players who LOVE stat heavy games. A company called FightMetric (already sounds like an RPG system) is coming up with a statistics system for mix-martial arts fighting.

Silent Trap

A new idea for a trap ... silence.

Apparently the longest a human can stand complete and utter silence before going crazy? 45minutes.

Roll for SAN.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April A to Z: The House of Hugsonthebiquiffinary

H
The House of Hugsonthebiquiffinary

When the Silvery Elves returned from Sha’nana, they were not universally loved. Shortly after the fall of King Pladimir, a small alliance of human lords and elvish nobles was formed with the express purpose of overthrowing the Empress and her followers. The Elven nobles where looking to install their own leader, the Humans lords were promised a small kingdom of their own, independent of the growing empire.

They were led by Baron Hugson, a powerful landowner who had been a in the court of King Pladimir. He was also Grand Poohbah of the Cult of the Wiggly Tentacle, and slowly he indoctrinated the others in the alliance into his terrible sect. For almost two years, they gathered in his great manse and performed terrible, icky deeds to please the Dark Beings and gather enough power to fulfill their goals. The lands around the manse became a realm of nightmare as people where snatched from their homes, strange, unearthly creatures hunted living flesh, the dead opened pizza takeaways and the ground itself became particularly poisonous and nasty.

A rare tome written by one of the minor Elven Nobles involved with the cult seems to indicate that the Lords and Nobles became more obsessed by the Cult than their original goals until they began to prepare for the dreaded “Ganiz’Blig-Jablooy Yob Slobbersloth”; the Ritual of Summoning Yob Slobbersloth.

It is not know how close they came, but witnesses say that one night, the manse became enveloped in an unearthly light and disappeared.

To this day, no one knows what became of the House of Hugsonthebiquiffinary. Even the name is misleading as there is no Biquiffinary, either as river or county, and the elves claim that there is no record of the house or Lord Huggson ever existing. Yet some claim that the manse still exists somewhere, seemingly abandoned, but still filled with the horrors called forth by the misguided rebels, and home with enough gold and treasure to feed an army, ready to be claimed.

Monday, April 9, 2012

April A-Z: The Gods of Nood

Two a day until I catch up!
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G
The Gods of Nood


“The Gods Did Look Upon All that They Hath Created, and They Saweth that It was, Adequate.”
From the Book of Ogg.

There is always that unfinished project lurking in the back of your closet somewhere, started with the best intentions that never quite seemed to flourish into enough enthusiasm to see it through to completion. So it sits, tucked away in some dark little corner until accidentally stumbled across one rainy afternoon. Out of nostalgia you might tinker with it for a while, but soon enough it finds its way back to the bottom of the box underneath that Charlie Brown shirt you thought was so cool back in highschool. Even the gods have projects like these, and one such project was Nood.

It started as The Grand Ideal, a haven for all the grandeur and romance of the old tales, without all the grime, syphilis and general nastiness that tend to muck up real history. But the grand ideal faded during the constant squabbles over who didn’t put the top back on the stellar sparkles and the constant irritation because the tabs on the continental shelves never matched up properly. Finally, through the cosmic equivalent of copious use of a glue gun and a lot of cover paint, the gods managed to patch something together, but it never does ends up looking as good as it does on the box does it?

Last Gaffe of the Gods

As the ages wore on, the gods became debauched and cruel, treating their subjects as mere pawns and slaves and slowly a rebellion began to grow. The legends say that the final straw occurred when Izz, Father of the Gods, ordered a last minute, major change of choreography for his entrance parade and the backup dancers revolted; all ten thousand of them, starting a protest that flamed into open rebellion.

Lead by the Thakko, the First Hero, the Army of a Thousand Banners pushed the gods from their palaces, their nymthariums and their casinos and banished them to their Castles on the Moons where they dwell to this day. Forbidden by the One Thousand Contract to directly interfere in the affairs of Nood, they may only act indirectly through the tools of prophesy, their churches, vigorous door to door pamphlet campaigns and the prayers of their supplicants.

April A-Z Catchup: Feefawfummengar

F
Feefawfummengar

Realm of the giants on the southernmost continent of Dwizenknard. The land is closed to outsiders and much of what occurs within its borders is based on rumour, legend and the tall tales told by the few heroes who have braved its icy interior, and survived.

The land takes up almost the entire eastern half of the continent and is ringed by the mighty Frosties, the tallest and meanest mountains in all of Nood. The only point of access is Thunderer’s Gate, a mighty fortress on the northern coast where the giants trade with the Elves and privateers from the Corsair Islands. Even then, outsiders are rarely welcomed beyond the Gate, and heroes thinking about sneaking in this way may want to recalculate the logistics of blending in, but not being ten foot tall.

Beyond, legend tells of a true land of giants. Giant animals and creatures roam beneath trees that reach hundreds of feet into the sky. Giant insects fly above flowers that bloom ten feet across and giant wolves stalk giant elk across the frozen tundra while giant raves drift over head, following giant bears… well, you get the idea. The land is dotted with ancient ruins, their origins lost in the misty mists of history. It is also said that some of the ruins are of human scale, while others in their glory would have dwarfed even the mighty Storm Lord.

The Giants themselves keep no cities, only massive fortresses. The largest is the called Hugemungous and it sits on the flank of Zoomoolungen, the highest mountain on Nood, where it is said the Storm Lord can watch everything that occurs in the land below.

Dwizenknards is a land constantly on the brink of war between the Giants of the east, the Dwarves of the south west and the human tribes of the western fjords: The mighty and feared Knardsmen.

My Five Side Effects that have Stumped the Doctors

I’m alive! Turns out the fever was a drug reaction, not an illness, but it still meant I had to spend five days in hospital while they pumped me full of blood and electrolytes to get my counts up.

(If you've not seen this movie, do so)

The bad news is I have to go back in Thursday or Friday and will have to spend another weekend in the ward, but the good news is that it’s the start of my last round of chemotherapy! Can’t say it’s been a fun process, but so far I’m still on track to be done with this nonsense. It hasn’t been without it is surprises however, for me and for my doctors. So in honour of my last visit, here are:

My Five Side Effects that have Stumped the Doctors

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April A-Z: The Emerald Oceans

Editors Note: Temp has spiked and I'm going to have to see how high it is when wife gets home. I may end up in hospital again, but I'd like to asssure my literly dozens of readers that I am hell bent on finishing this challenge. It may take a few days but I have copious notes and drafts readyfor the next three entries and they be posted catch-up upon my return (or if I end up back in a ward with interweb access.
F: Feefawfum - The Land of Giants
G: The Gods of Nood
H: House of Hugsonthebiquiffinary
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...... and my font folder is empty

E
The Emerald Oceans

There are at least three, possibly four large bodies of water across Nood that bear the name Emerald Ocean. Whether by clerical error, lazy cartographers or forgetful explorers, it has created endless confusion and problems for navigators, explorers and geography students across the globe.

The first, and most recognized ocean that bears the name lies directly off the east coast of Albert. From Backwash Bay, it turns northwards before becoming ice-locked in the Snowy Sea and south to the Golden Ocean that surrounds the frozen continent of Dwizendknards. Eastwards, it ends at the western horn of Zhuul. It is sometimes known as the East Emerald Ocean and is home to the Corsair Island chain, the Wandering Island of Hybra, and the underwater realm of Glub.

The second ocean lies between the two ‘horns’ of Zhuul. Some increasingly desperate cartographers claim that the two oceans are in fact, the same body of water, but no one is buying it. It is sometimes known as the South Emerald Ocean and is home to the Isle of Kashamass, the Clashing Cliffs, sinking land of Sogg and the constant, raging storm known only as the Tempest.

The third lies north of Zhuul and the South Emerald Ocean, and is the endless expanse of water that stretches eastwards on, eventually becomes the uncharted Ocean of Qi. Whether this region is part of the East Emerald Ocean, the South Emerald Ocean, something in between, or even its own distinct body of water has been known to given navigators fits. A recent contest at the Imperial Lyceum in Cleopolis tried to award the body its own name, but ended when some joker stuffed all the ballot boxes with women’s undergarments marked with the name, Gigi. It is sometimes called the North Emerald Ocean, and is known for the packs of sea dragons that hunt in the waters, some used as monstrous steeds for the strange aquatic races that are known to call these waters home.

The fourth is actually a fair sized lake found in the Kingdom of Togga, deep in the Jungles of Soul. Though it would be hardly fair to call the area an ocean, scholars note that it is mentioned in the hieroglyphics carved on the Black Ziggurat of Zayus I and therefore has the strongest historical claim to the name.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April A to Z: The Downlow


The Downlow
No one has ever charted the labyrinthine network of caves, tunnels and caverns that spread out below the continent of Albert. Fifty years ago, V. Bashki Hrundi, official cartomancer of the Academy of Acbracadabras in Gozaria put out a call for one-hundred heroes to accompany him on an expedition to definitively chart the entire complex all the way from the Unpassable Peaks to the Snowy Seas. Attended by over five hundred miners, porters, cooks, catamounts, post-grad students, men-at-arms, henchmen and hirelings they set out with much fanfare from Port Eel, and were never heard from again.

Though thought to be interconnected, the Downlow is actually a network of thousands of different regions, some natural formations, some made by man and others carved from the living rock by creatures that have never crawled under the light of the sun. The very difficulty in reaching and surviving in the Downlow has made it a haven for evil wizards, dark cultists, bandits, escaped prisoners and madmen. Nor is it completely empty of civilization; known cities include The Bastion of Bone, rare Dwarven Clan-Cities, Troll Strongholds and the Queendom of the Elurid may provide some comfort for lost heroes, if they can find them.

The Downlow does not give up its secrets easily. The safest entrance is the Dark Gate of Certain Doom located somewhere in the twisted caverns of the Snarled Mountains. From there the tunnels lead to the Bastion of Bone on the shore of the Glimerless Sea. The fearless can hire a boat to take then across the black water, or take the tunnels deeper to the town of Broken Bay, a border outpost for the Elurid. Beyond those known locations, reliable information is unreliable and conflicting.

Other entrances include the Grinning Mountain, the Throbbing Hole, the Cave of Aargh! and the Bloody Well. There are also reliable stories of entrances, or exits leading to the Dungeons of Depravity, the Morning Wood, the Goblin Mire and Newark.

There are countless treasures and fortunes to be made in the Downlow, but those who dare brave its secrets must face unremitting danger. Many of the tunnels are relics of the long wars between the Goblins and Gnomes and so are brimming with traps. Others have given themselves over to strange ecologies filled with strange creatures, some natural, others the hideous decedents whose ancestors became stranded in the endless dark.

Festival of the Bizarre

I have exactly one professional writing credit. Back in 2004 I was lucky enough to write a Talislanta adventure module for Morrigan Press entitled “The Weight of Water”.

The biggest thrill for me was seeing artists like Adam Black and Ron Spencer turn my words into some spectacular illustrations. I even got a cover done by the preeminent P.D.Breeding-Black!



After that, they commissioned me to write a second book entitled, ‘The Thaecian Isles: Festival of the Bizarre”, but the rpg business being what it is, the book never saw the official light of day (there were also plans for a sequel to ‘WoW’ called, “A Glimmer of Glass’ that unfortunately never made it past an outline). Nevertheless, I did complete a draft of ‘Festival of the Bizarre’.

Both Weight of Water and Festival of the Bizarre are available for free at Talislanta.com, but I wanted to host a copy here on my own site.



Discworld Diceless


This was a mash-up of GURPS Discworld and Amber Diceless I did back before the turn of the millenium. I found it buried on a drive and turned it into a PDF. Absolutely in no-way an offical product of any kind.
Discworld Diceless PDF

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Old Skool Skeleton Fight

If you've never seen it, this clip is a Old Skool classic and a must for OSR gamers.
It still gives me chills, its so good. I would easily throw the skeletons up against any CGI monster they have farted as us so far.

The movie (Jason and the Argonauts, 1963)is a treat for Harryhausen fans, but the plot drags like leg irons and makes absolutely no sense. However, if you're not content with youtube clips, I recommend doing what I did and DVR it, scanning for the good bits which include the Colossus, the Harpies, the Hydra and the climactic Skeleton fight. I guarantee that each one will inspire you to throw some of these oldy, but goodie monsters.

April A to Z: Cleopolis

Cleopolis
The largest city on Nood and capital of the Empire of Elves, Cleopolis lies protected by a natural harbour before spilling out into the waters of Backwash Bay. Though located much closer to the northern border, the city is the cultural, governmental and most importantly, economic heart of a realm that sprawls across half a continent.

When the Silvery Elves returned from Sha’nana, they brought with them a new philosophy and a new leader. Under the Empress Gloriara, they would no longer be confined to their southern enclaves complaining how back in their day, the quests really meant something and yelling at the younger races to get off their lawn.

They heralded their return by conquering the Penultima, the last human kingdom. Penultima has been long suffering under the reign of King Pladimir the Mad and the conquest was almost bloodless as many regions and lords quickly defected. Only a few pockets of royalist resistance around the royal city of Tamshanter put up a fight, but even those died away in the final battle that has become known as The Last Plummet of Pladimir.

The elves incorporated Penultima into their rapidly expanding empire, but left Tamshanter and the region to pretty much govern itself where it dissolved into the lands known today as the Little Kingdoms. Instead they moved their capital to a peaceful fishing village on the western shore of Backwash Bay. Carving stone from the White Cliffs, they built a shining city they called Cleopolis.

The city’s true heart are the two massive harbours that expand north and south from the center park that is home to the Imperial Palace. Ships from across Nood can be found docked in her harbour and peoples and races of every description can be found in the bustling waterfront, sprawling markets and crowded streets. The city is open to anyone, though only those born in the Empire are considered citizens and only Elves are allowed positions of command. Free trade is encouraged, which has brought in merchants, artisans and tradesmen from every corner of Nood, and sometimes from beyond it.

Major areas in the city include the North and South Harbours, the Imperial Park, the Great Circus, the Hammock District, The Nightgardens, The Nymphodrome, the Pool of the Moons, Little Dwarfsburg. The poorest and most dangerous area of town, known as the Snarls, lies outside the city, nestled against the walls like a bloated, but contented leech.

Though peaceful, the city is heavily protected the navy, a dedicated legion known as the Polyguard whose best troops serve as Imperial Guard to the Empress herself and by some of the most lethal and officious bureaucracy ever devised. There are also the ten Sun Towers; massive columns built each topped by mirror designed by Gnomish Imagineers to throw a devastating beam of burning light on any invader.