Appendix N and Atomic Rayguns in D&D

There’s always a bit of a discussion on just how gonzo D&D should be and those “weird” modules that had rayguns in them.

How can you have rayguns in D&D? It doesn’t make sense! Why would there be swords and magic and ALSO rayguns!? It’s just not supported!

Except it totally is.

Chieftain of Andor by Andrew J. Offutt

I’ve been reading an Andrew. J. Offutt novel, Chieftain of Andor [hat tip to Schuyler Hernstrom], which features stone age atomic death rays.

The setting is a Sword & Planet world where there are explicitly no firearms [lack of saltpeter is cited], primitive swords are the weapon of choice for most civilized peoples, and sorcery is real [‘A does not necessarily equal A’]. Yet the hero ends up with an atomic death ray. How?

Two races of mermen live in the caverns underneath a mountain composed in part of a radioactive mineral. The blind albino mermen in the upper part of the mountain have devised a weapon: a small obsidian mirror-box that contains a tiny chunk of highly radioactive material. There’s a door flap that is opened by pulling on a simple trigger. Whatever is in front of the box gets Lou Slotined.

Of course construction of the device is always fatal to whomever harvests the rock and assembles it, so there are necessarily very few and they are only made when absolutely necessary.

The hero observes that in the hands of anyone else on the world other than the blind albino mermen who never leave their mountain, the device could lead to a devastating holocaust, and he’s reluctant to accept the one that is gifted to him for saving the beautiful blind albino mermaids from the chief of the not-blind albino mermen.

So, uh… yeah. If you need some sort of justification for why or how you might have death rays in your AD&D game where swords and wizardry are the words of the day, you need look no further than Appendix N.

Playing Around With HeroForge – Mongoose and Meerkat Minis

One of the things we did with our Mongoose and Meerkat project with Jim Breyfogle was create D&D stats for a few of the stories so they could be run for B/X.

Something I’d love to do for a future Kickstarter would be include some minis for Mangos and Kat. The idea had me playing around with HeroForge, which is a site that allows you to create custom one-off minis for tabletop.

The only problem is that HeroForge DOES NOT allow commercial licensing, so even if I made some awesome minis using their tools, we wouldn’t be able to offer them as part of a Kickstarter or anything else.

That didn’t stop me from coming up with these as sort of a ‘proof of concept’ based on Dark Filly’s designs. If we’re able to, in the future, we’ll have Filly do some model art and get a 3D modeler to make us some 3D models for real minis. In the meantime, I thought these were kinda cool.

Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat Volume 1: Pursuit Without Asking, by Jim Breyfogle, is out now on Amazon!

Already read Tales volume 1? The adventure continues in The Golden Pearl, in the Spring issue of Cirsova, out now!

Hunt of the Mine Worm will be out in December in our winter issue.

…and Almost Finished with Game Content!

I spent a pretty good chunk of the evening working on bonus content for Mongoose & Meerkat!

The result is roughly 3,000 words of gaming content, including:

  • How to drop the Battlefield of Keres into your hexcrawl map
  • Suggestions on how to run a short adventure based on Brandy & Dye
  • Scenario for Sword of the Mongoose
  • Encounters in Terzol
  • Statblocks for monsters and encounters, ranging from the Hands of the Bursa and the Terzoli Remnants to Isak Yan and his undead to  Keres’s magical anomalies
  • Much much more!

I’ll be putting the finishing touches on it soon then will be running it by Jim Breyfogle for approval.

Once he gives it the OK, it will be added to the Appendix of the hardcover.

In fact, we’ll be adding all of the bonus material to the hardcover [except for the list of backer names, of course] this week, at which point the hardcover will be officially Almost DoneTM.

Once we have a page-count, we can do the layout for the hardcover’s dust-jacket.

No promises, but this could begin fulfilling by as early as June!

6 x 9 cover

Mongoose and Meerkat Author, Jim Breyfogle, on Geek Gab with Daddy Warpig and Dorrinal

Cirsova author Jim Breyfogle was on Geek Gab over the weekend, talking about the Mongoose & Meerkat project and other fun stuff.

Check it out!  And once you do, be sure to back the kickstarter today!

We’ve met our $2k goal and are well on our way to meeting our initial $3k stretch goal to create gaming content based on these adventures.

Mongoose and Meerkat Volume 1 Kickstarter is Live!

The Kickstarter is live for Jim Breyfogle’s Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat: Volume 1 – Pursuit Without Asking!

This volume collects Kat and Mangos’ first five adventures with illustrations by the incredibly talented DarkFilly and is available in four formats:
  • Digital – Some people love digital and prefer that to the weight and warmth of a book in their hands; we aim to please all of our readers, so this one’s for you!
  • Pocket Paperback – Our buddy JD Cowan recently observed that publishers cutting out the pocket paperback format drastically changed the writing landscape for the worse, and he opined the days of the pocket paperback.  Well, we’re bringing the pocket paperback… back, exclusive for this Kickstarter! Get the pocket paperback edition at a pocket paperback price.
  • Trade Paperback – This is your standard 6 x 9 trade format book. Solid, robust, and standard. This edition will remain in print and be available through retailers, but you’ll get yours ahead of everyone else! It’ll look nice on the shelf with other contemporary Trade Paperbacks, such as our Duel Visions anthology from last year!
  • Deluxe Hardback – If you’ve ever bought one of our hardcovers, you know how nice Cirsova Publishing’s hardbacks are. This will be a gorgeous deluxe edition that will not only include all five Mongoose & Meerkat stories and the all new novelette, it will include an appendix of unused art and sketches, TTRPG character sheets for Kat and Mangos, a listing of all backers, plus any bonus content unlocked!
This volume features…
  • The Battlefield of Keres – An ill-conceived bet brings Mangos and his new companion Kat to a vast no man’s land full of relics and magical anomalies in search of a fabled helm!
  • Brandy and Dye – High atop rock spires, above the breeze from the Devil’s Arse, men toil to collect the valuable guano of the Minix bird for Royal Dye, but when the production is threatened by distillers at dizzying heights, the dyers hire Mangos & Kat to bust a few heads!
  • The Sword of the Mongoose – When a shady merchant loses a bet with Mangos, he has nothing to pay with but the story of where a masterwork blade may be found! Can Mangos reach his prize before other treasure hunters?
  • The Valley of Terzol – Kat and Mangos are hired to accompany an adventurer to the ruins of Terzol in search of a lost delivery: a thousand-year-old receipt offers a clue to either fabulous rewards or certain death!
  • The Burning Fish – Seeking out the fabled Burning Fish for a client, Mangos and Kat instead find a strange cult devoted to keeping a simple life and protecting the secret of the fish at any cost!
As a bonus, this collection will feature Deathwater, a never before published original novelette!

6 x 9 cover

 

Reminder that Frogs are Creepy and Spoopy and Turn Bogs into a Nightmare

Was walking my border collie last night by the boglands near the river. It was a horror-show of sounds with cheeps and peeps and under it all, cackling laughter. A menacing “HA HA Ha Ha ha…” from the murky dark behind the trees and tall grasses…

At one point, the trail goes straight into the bogs, and my border collie flipped out, all “nope nope nope, not gonna do it, evil goblins that way, let’s leave!”

Take a listen to some of these frog sounds, particularly the Coastal Plains Leopard Frog.

http://www.herpsofarkansas.com/?n=Frog.HomePage

File this post under “D&D inspiration”.

Maze of Nuromen, Breaking the Speed of Light, and 2020 Advertisements

Maze of Nuromen at Arkansas RPG Con

Over the weekend, I ran the Blueholme introductory module, Maze of Nuromen. It’s called The Necropolis of Nuromen now, but I’m Old SchoolTM.

Michael Thomas of Dreamscape Design was kind enough to not only send us some player guides, he also sent a copy of the updated module [which turned out to be a lot of help]. I made sure to let everyone there know that DD had sponsored the game and gave out the Prentice rulebooks as gifts to my players.

We ran the module DCC style, with each player having 3 characters. I gave everyone a Fighting Man and let them pick two other classes; these two other classes were where their “goals” came from:

  • Elves and Dwarves looking to retrieve the Elven Crown
  • Magic Users looking to find the Book of Power
  • Thieves looking to find the chest of the Master Thief
  • Halflings looking for the body of a long-ago halfling adventurer [which I made Yolo Swaggins from my B/X B4 game]
  • Clerics looking to find and destroy an unholy bible of the ape god

Fighters were hired muscles to act as the “front row”.

This is the first time I haven’t used minis for a Basic game, but this setup made it easy to do things Final Fantasy style–unless there was a “boss” or unique circumstances, fighters get hit, then folks in back as characters go down. Worked out nicely, actually.

My players made surprisingly good progress on it for a con module that lasted roughly 3 and a half hours. If I didn’t have to go run some errands and could’ve stuck around another hour, they might have even finished it.

So quick rundown:

They got into the Maze without any real problems; for some reason, I always forget about the goblins in the first room, so I just handwaived that they’d hidden behind rocks when they heard nearly two-dozen adventurers gathering around the tower entrance. The party crossed the stream and wisely ignored the bottomless pit. Surprisingly, the character they sent to secure the rope across the stream only had dex 7 but he made the check.

Some elves in the main hall told them that they’d seen a boatload of goblins in the dungeon, so they’d been hiding and waiting for a moment to make a run for it.

The party got hit pretty hard with the Harpies’ charm person in the dining hall–the PCs that made their saves managed to pull everyone out, but at least one MU got nabbed and torn to shreds.

They explored the prison corner to little avail [it’s a trolly dead-end with almost no loot and just some encounter bait].

The barracks proved a bit more of a challenge, but some lucky rolls and good choices helped them survive it. A shrieker attracted a gelatinous cube, but they wisely didn’t mess with it–unless you’re determined to get yourself killed by a jelly cube, they’re pretty easy to avoid. The skelies didn’t prove much of a problem, either.

While the party was pretty uninterested in the pantry and kitchen, they smartly guessed that they could use the wax for the candles to plug their ears so they wouldn’t be affected by the harpies’ song. Sated on mageflesh and fairly outnumbered, the harpies were content to leave them be as they skulked out of the dining hall.

A fighter got green slimed near the savage garden, but since he was wearing plate and helmet and it was a VERY SMALL green slime [ended up like 1hp], the fighter took more damage from having it burned off his armor than from the slime itself. The party didn’t poke around the vegetation, and the dwarf kept everyone from tripping up the water features, so fire beetles kept to themselves.

The party raided Nuromen’s apartment, found the keyword to open the door to his lab and made their way there. They messed with EVERYTHING.

At least two characters got blown up by the alchemy lab trap, someone got hurt by the frog, they found Yolo’s stuff, and the trap doors.

With all the magic users dead, no one achieved a “goal” from the Tome of Power, but an elf got permanently infused with Detect Magic. One of the clerics thought the Tome of Power was the evil book they were trying to destroy. It wasn’t, but it unleashed a chain reaction that permanently enchanted their mace with light. If any MUs had been alive, they would’ve lost their mind over it, but elf didn’t really care.

Party dropped down the trapdoor to the temple of the ape god and found the back-way into Nuromen’s ancestral tomb. While the party made pretty short work of the three zombies, Nuromen himself killed 3 party members with Magic Missile and level drains. They managed to drive him off by, of all things, hitting him repeatedly by throwing the silver puppet at him and then dousing him with holy water.

That’s where we called things.

Funny thing, for how many goblins were crawling around the Maze, they never actually encountered any because they never found the room where they were camping out and goblins never came up on the Random Encounter table.

Great part was DMing for old school guys [including Shane Stacks from Shane Plays] who were demanding more blood and more PC death, even saying that it would be great for things to end in a TPK [because Con Game]. It was a blast.

Wild Stars: Breaking the Speed of Light 

This comes via Wild Stars author, Michael Tierney:

When I wrote my first Wild Stars novels back in the 1970s, three of concepts that drive the mechanics the Wild Stars universe challenged the accepted views of our reality. One was that mankind made our first migration into space and colonized planets circling the brightest stars in the night sky some 75,000 years ago. Then, around the year 2000, geneticists cracked the human genome and discovered that the human population crashed to only a few thousand people alive on Earth around 75,000 years ago (the Wild Stars explains where the rest went). The other two were the often mocked concepts of time travel and starships that can travel faster than the speed of light. A couple of weeks ago, this story was released:

https://www.thescienceandspace.com/2019/10/breaking-researchers-at-cern-break.html?fbclid=IwAR1kOX72AAKnHrp_U6wdY86MNRGAOkpMMFSSrRlEjnA9KLKz_sYQcwYT_aQ

Also, Michael’s shared the following tidbit about author sales rankings:

For anyone who ever wondered how the rankings work on Amazon, here is today’s snapshot of my sales in Science Fiction, superimposed with new works released at the time. Amazon recalculates hourly, who what might be an upwards spike in the morning could end up as a rankings dip by the end of the day.

michael's sales rank

2020 Advertising

We’re opening up advertising for 2020 a little bit early so we’ll have enough money to buy stories for next year. John E. Boyle has already claimed the back cover slot for the Spring Issue [#3], but there is plenty of interior space.

Details on ads are here: https://cirsova.wordpress.com/cirsova-magazine/advertising/

Why are we trying to get our hands on as much capital as quickly as possible?

I need at least another $3k monies to buy all of the stuff that we’re wanting buy for 2020 and still be able to replace the ductwork in my house. I’d rather not have to take out a loan; I mean, I’m probably going to have to take out a loan anyway, but I’d rather it only be for a few thou than

ductwork quote.png

 

Free to Use B/X D&D Character Sheet

There are a lot of good character sheets out there for B/X, and a lot of them are free for private use. But I needed something for potential commercial use, and I didn’t feel like digging through the internet for one that had a commercial use license. So I made one of my own. It’s not all purpose [it’s for fighter/thief only right now], but my gift to the OSR is that it is free for commercial use without permission.

[Character Sheet Template]

Character Sheet Template.png

More AD&D Gaming Thoughts from Daniel J. Davis

The episode of Geek Gab that Jeffro Johnson and I were on talking about the implied setting of AD&D has sparked some incredibly thought-provoking posts from author Daniel J. Davis on his Brain Leakage blog.

http://www.brainleakage.com/home/between-appendix-n-and-pink-slime

http://www.brainleakage.com/home/the-implied-apocalypse-of-dungeons-dragons

This is seriously good stuff, and you ought to start paying attention to this guy.

Also, don’t forget, there’s only 5 days left to back Wild Stars, which is also being adapted into a setting for Amazing Adventures 5e!

Last Day For the Wild Stars IGG! + On Geek Gab with Jeffro Johnson

Update: John Trent’s interview with Michael Tierney at Bounding Into Comics has gone live!

Today is the last day for the Wild Stars IndieGoGo. And while I don’t expect a miracle that would land us $5500 in backers on the last day, it would be nice to get some numbers up. [It’s a flexible campaign, and all backers will have their perks fulfilled.]

We got all of the cover art in from Mark Wheatley, so we should be able to start getting the softcover proofs very soon.

Back Covers

I did another Wild Stars Noise Stream. This time, actually live. But because it was my first time, and I am a pleb, you can hear the “how does i obs?” vid I was checking to make sure I could hear my own streaming audio in the first couple seconds of the stream.

 

In a non-Wild Stars related note, I was on Geek Gab with Jeffro Johnson to talk about AD&D. This was really cool, especially since this is the first time Jeffro and I have actually talked, not just via email and blog comments. So it was kind of a big deal to me!