Wednesday, May 30, 2012

One More DCC RPG-Related Announcement

A new Kickstarter campaign has just been launched for Tales From the Fallen Empire, a 3PP supplement for Goodman Games’ Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. Tales of the Fallen Empire is a post-apocalyptic swords & sorcery setting inspired by the works of Fritz Lieber, Robert E. Howard, Lynn Carter, H. P. Lovecraft, Roger Corman, and Michael Moorcock. It’s being produced by Chapter 13 Press and here’s the skinny on the setting:

1OO years have passed since Mankind revolted and slew the Sorcerer Kings of old… Now, the survivors of seven kingdoms begin to rebuild, placing new lives and hopes on the ashes of old. However, even as life continues, an ancient and forgotten evil stirs awaiting its moment to strike against mankind.
Join a war-torn land where the struggle for survival continues as new empires arise to impose their will upon the masses. Vicious warlords fight to control territories carved out of fallen Kingdoms. Imposing magicians emerge claiming the legacy of the Sorcerer Kings. High Priests of long forgotten gods and goddesses amass wealth in the name of divine right while Warrior-priests, devoted to a banished god, patrol the lands bringing justice to people abandoned by their rulers.
Within these pages is a detailed post-apocalyptic fantasy setting taking you through an ancient realm that is fighting for its survival and its humanity. Seek your fortune or meet your fate in the burning deserts of the once lush and vibrant land of Vuul, or travel to the humid jungles of Najambi to face the tribes of the Man-Apes and their brutal sacrificial rituals.
Tales From the Fallen Empire is a post apocalyptic swords & sorcery setting created for use with the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG by Goodman Games.  It introduces new classes, an alternate way to handle the 0 level character funnel, setting inspired spells, new optional rules for swords & sorcery play and more.  Tighten the straps on your sandals, grab your weapon, and head forth into a land of trouble and turmoil. Adventure  awaits those foolhardy to enter the wastelands or for those who fear not the unknown. Pledge today to begin the adventure in the fragments of the Fallen Empire. 
I’m one of the writers slated to contribute to the book and your funding means you keep me working! I’d be ever so grateful if you stopped by the Kickstarter page, gave the project a look, and help make Tales From the Fallen Empire a reality.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Two DCC RPG-Related Announcements

First, a general one to the gaming public at large: As usual, Goodman Games is participating in this year's Free RPG Day. As you might expect, their contribution is new DCC RPG material. The following is Joseph Goodman's post on the Goodman Games DCC RPG Forum:
Free RPG Day is Saturday, June 16! Just in case you missed the front page update, we've posted details on our Free RPG Day release for this year. You can find the page here:

This year's module features two adventures, plus the start of our Mystery Map Adventure Design Competition!

The first adventure is The Undulating Corruption, a level 5 scenario by Michael Curtis. The characters learn of a purported Crucible that can cure their wizard's corruption...but reaching this cure is not easy!

The second adventure is The Jeweler That Dealt in Stardust, a level 3 scenario by Harley Stroh. A jeweler and fence has gone missing, and his house of jewels now sits empty. Surely a cunning thief could make his way inside to steal the unguarded riches?

Rounding out the two adventures are full details on the Mystery Map Adventure Design Competition. The Free RPG Day adventure booklet contains The Mystery Map -- a partially complete map. In the Mystery Map Adventure Design Competition, your job is to complete the map and pitch us on the 5,000-word adventure you would write to accompany it. A panel of distinguished judges will decide on the winner, who will receive a contract for $1,000 to write his adventure.

More information on Free RPG Day is available at

As always, our Free RPG Day module will premiere in participating retail stores, then be available for purchase online (as print or PDF) approximately 1-2 weeks after the event.

The second item is for those happy few playing in either one of the sessions of DCC RPG I'm running this year at NTRPGCon. If you are playing (or hoping to sneak into the game) and own your own set of "Zocchi Dice" (d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24,and d30), please bring them! I'll have a set of "table dice" for all to share, but I know people can be...peculiar...about sharing dice and I don't want "out of game" violence breaking out at my table!

Friday, May 25, 2012

D&D Next in a nutshell

I've been privy to the D&D Next playtest notes for a few months now, but since they're public, I can say finally what my ongoing impression of the new rules is:

D&D Next reads like somebody's campaign house rules that they've been assembling over the past few decades, cherry-picking from each edition things they like and discarding what they don't. That doesn't make it a bad thing, but you may already be playing D&D Next and not know it. Only time will tell whether the customer base wants to play the "official" house rules or not.

In the meanwhile, don't forget to playtest my new game once the "new car smell" of D&D Next wears off.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

An Ill-Fated Expedition into Stonehell

So apparently it is now possible to record your Google+ Hangout sessions and completely scuttle any chance you might have for public office. A hearty big thanks goes out to Nicholas Mizer and David Brawley for not only allowing me to join in on their Stonehell hijinks (although not in this session), but for recording their exploits and posting it for all to see. Maybe once I get a real internet connection again, I can stop by and play some time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Goblinoid Games Playtesting Underway

Regular readers will remember that I hinted at (well, OK, blatantly plugged) the fact that I've written a new game for Goblinoid Games using the Pacesetter System. As of today, the playtest document is now open to Labyrinth Lord Society members. If you want to get in on the action, you'll need to sign certain documents writ in the burning blood of Orcus and become a Labyrinth Lord Society member.

The following except is from the email that went around to Society members this morning. If it piques your interest, why not go to the LLS page and sign up!

I'm looking for playtesters for a new Pacesetter System game developed by Michael Curtis. The genre is urban fantasy, particularly of the dark urban magic variety.

Playtesters will receive credit in the book and free PDFs of the final release.

In order to be a playtester you need to have a currently active gaming group willing to play, and be willing to commit to playing three sessions before September 1st. I would also ask that the GM submit a playtest report, briefly describing your experience running the game and any comments by the players. Ideally you will already have played similar games like TIMEMASTER, ROTWORLD, SANDMAN, etc., but this is not mandatory.

I'm really excited about this game! I think Michael Curtis has done a great job with it.

Dan Proctor

Goblinoid Games

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"I don't always run Call of Cthulhu, but when I do..."

This is what I think about.

Sure, everyone has their own iconic fantasy illo for D&D (often with the name Trampier, Otus, or Elmore attached), but so few people talk about what they picture when other RPGs come to mind. I first saw "Ward 13" in the 4th edition of CoC and I've never been able to shake it. For me, its appeal is that this is one of those pictures that begs the questions of the viewer, "What the holy hell is going on here and how did it come to BE?!" I found a few Call of Cthulhu illustrations over the years that have the same effect, but this is my first. And you never forget your first.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The October Country: Swamp Shark

More scavenged material regarding the October Country setting from my other blog. I've gone from "working on a book" to "planning on working on a book once I finish Stonehell 2, but the October Country material still looms large in my head.

I’m working on a book that brings detail to a section of the October Country known as Snakewater Swamp. It’s been a lot of fun and is helping me to focus on certain systems I want to implement in the game and to flesh out the world in greater detail. I won’t say much more in the meantime.

Like the rest of the October Country, the wildlife found in Snakewater is largely of my own creation. For various climatic reasons, gators aren’t nearly as common as they are on Earth, but that doesn’t mean the swamps are free of large, aquatic predators. The swamp shark fits that bill wonderfully and has the pedigree of being inspired by the late-night, Sci-Fi channel cheapy movie of the same name. If you’re going to watch crap, you might as well make the best of it.

Swamp Shark

STR: 4d6+12 (26)
CON: 3d6+6 (20-21)
SIZ: 4d6+12 (26)
INT: 2d6 (7)
POW: 3d6 (10-11)
DEX: 4d6 (14)

Average hit points: 24
Move: 10 (swimming)

Other skills: Hide—50%, Leap from Water—50%, Swimming—95%, Tracking—85%

Damage Modifier: +1d12
Armor: 2 point skin

Bite: 50%--1d10+1d12 damage

Swamp sharks are a species of shark that has adapted to the brackish and freshwater conditions found in coastal marshes. Their adaptations allow them to venture further into the headwaters of coastal rivers and bayous and many have begun to use these areas as nurseries for the pups. Full grown swamp sharks range in 8 to 11 feet in length and can weigh up to 700 lbs. Skin tones are brownish-gray to dark green, giving them natural camouflage in the muddy waters of the swamp. Swamp sharks are usually solitary predators (85%) but are occasionally encountered in pairs (15% chance). They attack by rushing their prey from concealment, biting their victim to shear off flesh, and then move past their prey to devour the mouthful of meat. They turn and make another pass two or three rounds later.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Need a copy of the Dungeon Alphabet? These guys can help you

If you've got a cool grand, that is.

I know those prices aren't indicative of the market and/or the book's availability, and are merely an artifact of the way some online retailers work on Amazon, but I still find it pretty hilarious.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rainy Night in the Garret

Here's what I come home to a night. Nothing fancy, but it keeps the rain off my while I write.

Now, with furnishings (and it really is that small)

The Reading & Writing (non-RPG material) Nook

Where I toil away on Stonehell 2 for you fine folks.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Oh, That’s Right: I Have a Blog

Forgive the dearth of posts here for the last two weeks. As you might imagine, things are very hectic around these parts as I settle into a new life and new job. Despite the distractions, I’m still busy at work on various gaming-related projects and even managed to finish up a short one today. With a few moments to spare before I consider heading off to the Land of Nod (not the blog or fanzine, but the metaphorical place of dreams), I thought I’d bring you all up to speed on things.

I’ve finally managed to unpack and get settled into the new apartment. Unfortunately, without much time between accepting the position and my first day of work, I didn’t have a lot of lead time to find a place to live. The result is that I’m living in a much smaller space than I had hoped. It’s not a studio or what they laughing call an “efficiency apartment” (read: “motel room without the conveniences of an actual motel”), but it is a bit cramped, especially for the archivist and gamer whose library is one of the reasons people usually only help me move once.

The upside is that the place does have its charm. It was originally a large barn built in the 1880s that’s since been renovated and diced up into apartments. I have lots of old exposed wood beams and floors, as well as a pair of stained glass windows that look into the bedroom and what I’m calling the “reading and writing nook.” I can see the Wallkill River and its cataracts from my window and aside from the Mysterious Thing with Heavy Feet that Lives Overhead, my fellow residents are friendly, yet discreet. Being on the second floor, my place also comes delightfully equipped with a Superhero Emergency Escape Hatch, which is a fire exit leading to a shaft containing a ladder running down to the ground floor, located directly off of my bedroom. I’m contemplating starting a life of crime just so I can utilize it when the S.W.A.T. team starts breaking down the front door. When time allows, I’ll post some pictures of my new headquarters and you’re all invited to drop by for a delve into Stonehell the next time you’re in the neighborhood.

Speaking of Stonehell, work continues on the sequel and my determination to finish it and get it out by year’s end remains unabated. My work schedule and the whole process of relocating and unpacking have cut into the time I’d like to be writing the manuscript, but I’ve taken to getting up an hour early to get some design work accomplished before I start my day. I’m currently working on a quadrant on the 7th level called “The Welchers’ Halls” for reasons that will become apparent once you see what lies to the south of this section.

Those of you who contributed to the “Help Mike Relocate to the Wilderness Where He Belongs” Fund will all receive a special mention when the book comes out, as promised. I’m really dumbfounded by the contributions some of you made and am in awe that you were willing to part with your hard-earned cash to help out some guy who writes about monsters, magic, and other dubious pursuits, one many of you have never even met. Those funds were a real life-saver this week when I was hit with some unexpected bills above and beyond the astronomical cost of renting a Penske truck and filling that beast with gas. The alternator went on my car and I got hit with another $100+ bill for another repair. Without that extra money, I’d be scared spitless regarding how I would survive until my first paycheck clears. So although I’ve already thanked you all in email, let me do so again: “Thank you, thank you, thank you very much!”

With such limited space to live in, I had to leave the majority of my gaming collection in storage back on Long Island, but I’m trying to view that as a feature, not a bug. Aside from the B/X books, Stonehell I, and the Labyrinth Lord rulebook, I just have my 1st edition (2nd printing) Call of Cthulhu boxed set and my complete run of Wraith: The Oblivion (which got loaded onto the truck when I wasn’t looking). Call of Cthulhu is really , well “calling” to me right now, and I’m very tempted to make that the next campaign I run once I find my place here and a new gaming group. If I were to do so, I’d take the “Out of the Box” approach, using just the materials provided in the boxed set and pretending nothing else was ever written for the game. That idea really has my head whirling with possibilities.

The other reason that Call of Cthulhu is enticing me is that I’m now living in the real Wildwyck County. The series I’m writing for Fight On! is based on the landscape, history, and my own experiences in Ulster County as an undergraduate. Now that I’m an actual resident of Wildwyck, I’m hoping to tap into the rich history and atmosphere that pervades the country just outside my front door and make that series even better. I’m planning on watching the full moon rise tonight and brainstorm.

I made the initial efforts to locate a gaming group this week, joining a local Meetup group based in the area, but I’m not sure how that’s going to pan out just yet. So again, if you’re one of my readers and want the dubious honor of having me at your table, feel free to contact me at the email listed to the right. Unfortunately, my internet connection is less than efficient, meaning I won’t have the option of participating in FLAILSNAILS games for the foreseeable future, making me even more determined to find a local face-to-face group as understanding and tolerant of my penchant for weirdness as my last one.

Before I go, I want to remind you all once again that even though my postings may be reduced, my participation in the hobby is not. Some of you lucky bastards have already gotten their hands on Goodman Games’ new Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG and you’ll notice my name in that book’s credits. I did some of the spells for it and there’s one I’m most proud off. A No-Prize goes to the first one to guess which spell that is. Goblinoid Games will be releasing another game I designed using the Action Table System to Labyrinth Lord Society members in the near future and I hope you card-carrying members download it, give it a whirl, and let me know what you think. I charted a course into Bat Country when writing it and I hope that comes through in the final product.

In still other design news, I’m one of the contributing authors to The Secret Fire’s next supplement, Fragment I: The Way of Tree, Shadow & Flame. One of my co-designers on that book is an up-and-coming young lad who I think has a lot of potential, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing the name” Eddie Greenwood” again in the future.

Lastly, a reminder that I’ll be down in Texas for NTRPGCon to run a few DCC games (“Emirikol Must Die!,” a convention variant of my forthcoming Emirikol Was Framed! adventure from Goodman Games, as well as a converted (and possibly perverted) version of my first OSR release, “The Fane of St. Toad.” One of those sessions may have a secret special guest, but I’m not telling who or when. There’s also talk of Tim Kask and I doing a workshop on “Gonzo Gaming” with other guests, but that’s still being hashed out as far as I know. After getting to know and play with Tim at Gary Con, doing a seminar with him would be a great pleasure. One that would only be eclipsed if Dan Proctor and I win this year’s Three Castles Award for Realms of Crawling Chaos.

Oh, one more thing: this year’s Goodman Games’ Free RPG Day release features two adventures and another special treat. Those adventures were written by the most excellent Harley Stroh and I. My home group had a blast playtesting my contribution, even if things didn’t turn out so well for one of the PCs.

OK, I’m done. Off to howl at the moon a bit before bed. Thank you all again for the well-wishes, support (both verbal, financial, and professional), and camaraderie you’ve provided me since I first dipped my toe into both the OSR and the industry. I couldn’t have done it without you.