Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

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Thursday, 28 February 2019

#RPG Fangs To Zine Quest Now We Have Something To Sink Our Teeth Into...

"Dracula, king of the vampires. Vampires, the most noble of undead.

For too long these classic monsters have been tweaked, bent, and reimagined to where they no longer resemble the classic bloodsuckers of old.

But no more! Draugrs & Draculas brings the vampire back to its evening-wear-clad glory. Retro Draculas for retro RPGs! The kind that would make Lee and Langella proud.

Also, just for fun, we've got some undead vikings
."
Funded within 15 hours of launching this week, Draugr & Draculas is the latest old school RPG fanzine grabbing my attention this week as part of Kickstarter's Zine Quest initiative.

The first Kickstarter from seasoned game writer, artist, and designer Joshua LH Burnett, Draugr & Draculas is:
"...a one-off zine for old-stye/OSR roleplaying adventure games. Dr&Dr focuses on vampires, undead, and spooky horror magic for use in your own fantasy RPG campaigns.

The zine will be entirely written and illustrated by me, Josh Burnett. In accordance with the Zine Quest guidelines, Draugr & Draculas will be a 5.5” x 8.5” zine, staple-bound and printed in black-and-white.

I estimate it should clock in at around 24-32 pages.
"
The fundraising campaign is running until March 27. On its Kickstarter page, Josh - from the Bernie The Flumph blog - gives potential backers an idea of what will be included in the zine:
  • Count Dracula himself, as well as his origins and current motivations
  • Details on Dracula's lesser servants
  • Dracula's deadly rival, Elizabeth Bathroy
  • Draugr—northern undead of varying degrees of power
  • The Draugr class
  • Rules for magic users striking a deal with the Devil
  • New magical items of perilous power
  • Pagan's Well, a small dungeon full of traps and treasure
  • And whatever else I can fit in this thing.

Teams-Ups And Weird Heroes Are The Order Of The Day In New Season Of The Tick...


WEEKLY WORLD NEWS: Wasn't This The Plot Of A Recent Simpsons Episode?


Ooooh, Heaven Is A Place On Earth, sang Belinda Carlisle in 1987, but Weekly World News would have you believing that both it and Hell are places we can - under the right circumstances - pop by to visit...

And whose inhabitants can come and visit us!

More wonderful inspirational material in this week's collection of headlines from that highly esteemed newspaper, full of potential story ideas for all kinds of roleplaying game genres.

Whether storming the gates of Hell (or Heaven) or battling demonic (or angelic) interlopers, there's something for everyone here.

The Dark Phoenix Rises...


In Dark Phoenix, The X-Men face their most formidable and powerful foe: one of their own, Jean Grey.

During a rescue mission in space, Jean is nearly killed when she is hit by a mysterious cosmic force.

Once she returns home, this force not only makes her infinitely more powerful, but far more unstable.

Wrestling with this entity inside her, Jean unleashes her powers in ways she can neither comprehend nor contain.

With Jean spiralling out of control, and hurting the ones she loves most, she begins to unravel the very fabric that holds The X-Men together.

Now, with this family falling apart, they must find a way to unite - not only to save Jean's soul, but to save our very planet from aliens who wish to weaponize this force and rule the galaxy.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

#RPG Dice For The Dice God!


The latest addition to my infinite pool arrived this week: a nicely bagged full set of polyhedrals from British company Paladin Roleplaying.

These were my reward for backing their recent successful Kickstarter for the production of "gorgeous RPG dice sets for DnD and other roleplaying games"

When it came to choice of colours/designs I opted for the striking "Blood God" theme, as I thought my tired eyes would find these the easiest to read.

Estimated delivery date for the dice was April, so these bad boys rocked up a good month-and-a-half early!

Also arrived this week - all the way from China - was my d60, which is essentially a golf ball with numbers on.

My Sixty-Sided Die

It wasn't a die I went looking for, but it popped up in my Amazon Recommends as costing one pence (plus £1.99 shipping).

So how could I say no? Two pounds for a truly funky die from the other side of the world?

It took just 12 days from ordering to landing on my doormat.

Weird Wednesday...

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

What Every Well-Coutured Zombie Apocalypse Will Be Wearing This Year...


After years, if not decades, of fannying about over what genres to focus on in my gaming hobbies, I've finally (well, for the moment anyway) settled upon zombies for wargaming (under my PROJECT Z banner) and old school fantasy for RPGs (almost certainly my houseruled hack of First Edition Crypts & Things, but that remains fluid at the moment).

I'm not getting any younger and as much fun as it is switching my focus every six or 12 months, eventually I'm going to run out of time before I actually get an enduring campaign going.

Further to this, I have decided that my RPGs with the Tuesday Knights will stick with using 28mm miniatures, battle maps, and tiles (of which I already have a fair number).

I'd toyed with the idea of switching to Crom's Anvil's gorgeous little 15mm line, but, sadly, realised I already owned so many 28mm miniatures that such a major change at this stage of my gaming life would be daft.

Meanwhile my zombie games - using Mantic's Walking Dead: All Out War system - will feature proper 3D terrain et al

To that end I've backed Mantic's new TerrainCrate 2 Kickstarter to snag me a box of hard plastic scenery that's perfect for the post-apocalypse.

There's actually a choice of different genres of terrain on offer, from creepy Gothic manor to contemporary market place, each containing a variety of 'scenes', but I've chosen the Campbell Heights set (pictured below).


Check out the TerrainCrate 2 Kickstarter page here for more information on costs, shipping, add-ons etc. The campaign's already well-funded (which means stretch goals are adding extra miniatures to different sets), but only runs until March 7.

#RPG Justin Wants You To Treat Yourself To A Magical Drink At Cade's Place...

Dragon Fang Battle Stein, art by Josh Beckelhimer.
These magical drinking vessels double as weapons, and pack quite a punch

Whether your player-characters need some Dutch courage before facing the latest Big Bad or have to unwind after a violent few days of tunnel grubbing, you're going to want to get a hold of Cade's Big Book o' Booze by Justin Ryan Isaac.

Part of Kickstarter's Zine Quest month, this alcohol-related zine for use with 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, has almost 90 per cent funding with just over a week to go.

Although written for 5e, the contents are easily adoptable to any old school system.

Kicktraq has it on course to fund, but let's not get complacent, the campaign still needs your support to make sure it crosses the line.

Cade's Big Book o' Booze -- Kicktraq Mini

This is my good friend Justin Isaac's first Kickstarter, although he has consistent form creating material that he has either published himself or through Eric Bloat's Bloat Games.

Eric has pledged that at the end of this campaign, upon funding, all backers will receive complimentary PDF copies of Conspiracy Theories issues one and two, the fanzine for Bloat Games' old school SURVIVE THIS!! system.

For those looking for a 'taste' of what's on offer in Cade's, check out the latest Kickstarter update, which includes a flavour of Justin's new alcohol rules for 5e - which are way simpler than the crunchy ones I brewed up back in 2011 to try and do the same thing in Crypts & Things.

I shall certainly be using Justin's rules in my games going forward.

Check out the Kickstarter page for Cade's Big Book o' Booze to see the investor incentives, learn a bit more about the zine, and make your pledge before March 8.

D&DVD Of The Week: Hercules (1983)


In a nutshell, the Lou Ferrigno-fronted 1980's Hercules does for Greek mythology what Battle Beyond The Stars did for space opera.

It is similarly cheap, cheerful, camp, and cheesy, with gloriously wonky special effects - as you would hope for from sci-fi fantasy of the era.

Ingrid Anderson
The 104-minute romp opens with a bizarre and jumbled retelling of a creation myth, that cherry picks various mythological elements (as does the entire story) and mixes them in as it sees fit.

This then segues into Hercules backstory - which borrows heavily from Superman's origin - with baby Herc being smuggled away from a palace coup that saw his parents murdered, then cast adrift in a spaceship small boat, before washing up on a riverbank in Kansas and immediately adopted by a friendly pair of childless farming folk The Kents.

Time wibble-wobbles forward and Hercules has grown into oiled-up beefcake Lou Ferrigno, just in time for his adopted parents to be killed off and for him to seek his destiny in the big city.

Having competed in a series of tasks, he is supposed to serve as a bodyguard to the stunningly gorgeous Cassiopea (Ingrid Anderson), but before Hercules can begin, Cassiopea gets kidnapped by the wicked King Minos of Thera (William Berger) and his daughter, Adriana, played with bosom-heaving brilliance by the ever-reliable Queen of Scream Queens Sybil Danning.

Sybil Danning
Hercules is dropped in the ocean, but manages to swim for a week to the shore of the island home of the witch of Circe (Mirella D'Angelo), yet another breathtakingly appealing woman falling into Hercules' lap.

Teaming up with Circe, our hero has to descend into Hell to retrieve her stolen amulet, which will supposedly help them get to The Green Island of Thera, where Minos is holding Cassiopea captive, under the spell of the dreaded black lotus.

I think this take on Hercules is possibly a meditation on the battle between science and faith, with Hercules being helped (and hindered) by the gods and their agents, while Minos, with the aid of a funky (possibly alien) entity called Dedalos (Eva Robins), represents the advancement of technology and science.

But it's a very weird science - that, at times, relies on the power of human sacrifice as well as other clearly magical shortcuts.

Yes, I know, the general take on Arthur C Clarke's third law, but I suspect writer/director Luigi Cozzi was more influenced by Erich von Däniken's Chariots Of The Gods pseudoscience than Clarke's hard sci-fi.

Mirella D'Angelo
There's definitely a strong whiff of Ancient Aliens madness at work in the mythology of Hercules.

And a large part of the film's appeal to me (along with its central trinity of beautiful actresses) is that it takes this quirky spin on Greek myths, while still employing a very fantastical over-the-top approach that doesn't bother too much with rules and structure.

The movie certainly plays fast-and-loose with the idea of verisimilitude, refusing to let this hero's journey be grounded in any shape or form.

It's one of those films where ideas were obviously thrown at the screen, then forgotten as the production team moved on - for instance, in some of his early fights, Hercules (who we've learned was originally created as a being of light by Zeus, to be mankind's protector) gives off flashes of light when he hits people.

But then later on, you realise this just isn't happening any more.

Which is a shame, because it was an oddly comic book-like effect.

There's a lot of model use in the film, again as you would expect, and while the creatures (mainly mechanical robots of various shapes and designs) are quite raw and basic (and ultimately ineffectual), the set designs - although obviously models - are interesting and evocative of the strange world Cozzi is creating for his characters to exist in.

GAME MATERIAL


The Sacred Swords Of Thera and The Phoenix.


Sacred Sword Of Thera

Sacred Sword Of Thera

(+3 flaming broadsword)

Damage: 2d4+4

Flames: a sheath of yellow, pink, and orange flame ripples along the blade once it is drawn (and will stay for 1d4 rounds if dropped for any reason).

A successful hit with the flaming blade calls for a Saving Throw vs Pain for the wounded target.

A failure means they cannot act for the following round (if they haven't already had their action in the round they were hit they also lose that action!)

Magically light and easily used in one-hand, the sword grants a +3 bonus to attack.

Sacred Sword Of The Phoenix

Sacred Sword Of The Phoenix

(+3 two-handed sword)

Damage: 1d10+5

The more powerful of the paired blades, the Phoenix sword was crafted in a long-forgotten age from the material of a dying star, which has granted it power over the element of fire.

Its very elaborate golden hilt ends in a stylised pommel in the shape of a phoenix.

A mighty two-handed sword that grants a +3 bonus to hit.

The Sword Of The Phoenix can be carried by a normal person, but it requires both a STR and DEX of 15+ to wield safely.

For every statistic point - cumulative - below that threshold, the user suffers a -1 to hit and on damage. For every three penalty points he incurs, his fumble margin rises by one as well (e.g. a person with STR 14 and DEX 13 would hit at -3 and fumble on on a roll o either a natural 1 or a 2).

Fire Resistance: While held, it grants its wielder invulnerability to all forms of fire damage (both natural and magical).

Ultimate Death: Anyone slain by this sword is automatically reduced to a pile of ash and will therefore require extraordinary magic (possibly the direct intervention of a god) to return to life. If such a thing is desired.

Bind The Phoenix: However, its major power, and the one that makes it most sought after, is it's ability to control volcanoes.

If planted in the ground within 100ft of the base of an active volcano (the metaphorical phoenix), that volcano will not erupt all the time the sword remains.

However, once the sword is next removed - as long as it has been there for 1d12 months - the volcano will start erupting in 1d20 rounds.

Oil Of Hercules

Found in a vial with 2d6 applications left, this oil must be used to cover the bulk of a person's body (upper torso, legs, arms, face) for its magical enchantments to work.

For 24 hours, per full application, it grants its user heightened strength and protection of damage.

However, it only works on naked skin, and so is best employed by, say, a fighter or barbarian dressed only in a loincloth.

While the oil is on a person's skin, and exposed to the air, it grants +1d6 temporary Strength bonus (reroll for each day/application) and invulnerability to 1d6 points of damage.

The damage resistance is rerolled each time the wearer is potentially wounded (from a a weapon, environmental hazard, fall, magical attack etc), so they will never know how much protection the oil is granting them.

An added bonus for the user of the oil is that it grants a -4 penalty to anyone attempting to grapple them.

A person may only be subject to the benefits of a single application at any one time. Any attempts to layer applications simply waste the oil.

HAWK THE EPHEMERA...


Long before the thrilling audio revival of Hawk The Slayer was announced, I have been on a quest to discover ephemera and souvenirs from the legendary '80s sword-and-sorcery classic.

As well as simply keeping an eye out when visiting shows etc for the random, lucky find, I have a standing search set up on eBay, which is how I came into possession of the above vintage magazine advert for the film's original release in the UK.

Of course, what I'd really love to add to my small Hawk The Slayer collection would be something like a prop replica of The Mindsword or an original script from the movie.

The adventure continues...

Monday, 25 February 2019

You Had Me At "Folk Horror"...



Eight of the most exciting new voices in international horror were asked to draw upon the folklore of their country, reimagining a legend through their own unique (and often twisted) creative lens.

A feature-length anthology film from Super LTD. They are known as myths, lore, and folktales. Created to give logic to mankind's darkest fears, these stories laid the foundation for what we now know as the horror genre.
After success on the festival circuit, The Field Guide to Evil will hit cinemas and VOD from March 29.

A Posh, New, Holiday Home For Barney...

Barney in his new holiday home at Rachel's parents

Speaking of our extended fur family, Barney the bunny has a new holiday home.

As I've said, he's currently staying with Rachel's parents while we get everything ready for our house move next month.

However, they were getting concerned because he's been staying in their conservatory and, as the weather warms up, it's been getting very hot out there and they feared it might soon get unbearable for him.

We'd agreed to come and collect him (our moving date had been pushed back several times, due to complications, which had messed with our original plans to limit the amount of stressful travelling we'd be subjecting Barney to), but at the last minute Rachel's parents announced that they had decided to get Barney a new - outdoors - holiday home.

When Rachel, Alice, and I popped over at the weekend, my father-in-law had only recently assembled the hutch and this was Barney's first day in his new abode.

The rabbit was definitely very happy (or as happy as Barney gets), testing the limits of his new domain, choosing where he'd go to the toilet, where he'd like his food etc

All being well, it won't be long now until we move into our new home and Barney will get his brand, spanking, new fur-ever home in our garden.

But, in the meantime, we're beyond happy knowing he's comfortable with my in-laws, and being very well looked after.

#RPG Treasure Trove: Ranulf's Dwarven Crossbow Of Speed...


The exact origins of the unique creation known as the Dwarven Crossbow Of Speed are unknown.

Somehow it came into the possession of the storied mercenary Ranulf, who had it with him when he finally sought the peaceful retirement of village life.

Sadly, his life was upended when the village was attacked by the villainous Voltan and his hordes, driving Ranulf - eventually - to find Voltan's brother, Hawk, and set about bringing an end to The Dark One's rampage.

With the dwarves of The Realm long gone, the secret of the magical crossbow's creation - a streamlined version of humanity's cumbersome repeating crossbow - passed into history with them.

It can only fire the finely crafted bolts that come in the magazine that attaches to the underside of the weapon.

Once these 12 bolts have been spent, they must be retrieved and reloaded into the magazine, then slotted back into the crossbow before it can be fired again.

The bolts, while not magical, are incredibly well made and  won't break under normal circumstances, thus making them easy to recover after a battle.

Dwarven Crossbow Of Speed

  • Magical Bonus To Hit: +2
  • Rate of Fire: 6/round
  • Damage: 1d4 (+2 damage at close range)
  • Range: 600ft (close range: 60ft, over that -2 per 60ft)
In a single round, each bolt can (but doesn't need to be) directed at a different target within 10ft of the initial target that round.

The user pulls the trigger once and holds it down, then the machinery of the arcane device fires, reloads, fires etc up to six bolts in a round. She may release the trigger sooner, and fire less bolts if desired.

However, no matter how many attacks her character class allows her, she may only use the crossbow once per round (e.g. a fighter with two attacks per round can still only fire off a single volley of six bolts in a round).

For use in a Crypts & Things campaign, inspired by Hawk The Slayer (of course)

Ranulf And The Dwarven Crossbow Of Speed

A Taste Of Dark Materials To Come...



A true teaser for the forthcoming BBC and HBO collaboration, His Dark Materials, bringing Philip Pullman's popular series to the small screen - and, hopefully, wiping away memories of the underwhelming film adaptation (The Golden Compass).

There's no release date yet and, as the Beeb's tweet below draws attention to, there's no sign of the "daemons" either (a central part of the books' mythology).

But the fact that they've acknowledged them means they are still, very much, part of the story. I suspect the CGI isn't quite finished yet.


Musical Monday: Pinky And The Brain Theme (Postmodern Jukebox ft. Emily Goglia, Rob Paulsen, Maurice LaMarche)


Sunday, 24 February 2019

#RPG When In Doubt, Bash Its Head In!


Given that my surname is Knight, I've long romanticised swords as the "go-to" weapon for Medieval combat, but it took just one episode of the amazing Knight Fight for me to change my mind and wonder why everyone just doesn't kit themselves out with a mace?

Dungeons & Dragons/Castles & Crusades etc have a variety of maces in their equipment lists and I reckon in the future that'll be the direction I take my fighter player-characters.

I suspect, over the next few weeks, Knight Fight is going to give a lot of things to think about re: D&D combat. This isn't staged film fights, but full-on, competitive combat with real arms and armour.

Sure, the blades are blunted and there are rules, but it's still freaking dangerous and a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

Here's the world's strongest man (2017), Eddie Hall (Strength: 18 or higher?), putting the sport, its weapons and armour, to the test:


My Godson Is A Dice-Rolling Prodigy!

Our squadron (left to right): Alec, Nick, Bettany, and me

The dice gods smiled on godson Alec today during the two participation games, he, sister Bettany, dad Nick, and I played at our annual local wargames convention, Cavalier, in Tonbridge's Angel Centre.

Our major triumph was the first game, an air battle in Central America's 100 Hours War, where our four Honduran pilots - with Alec taking the lead role of Captain Fernando Soto - were charged with strafing an El Salvadorian convoy and keeping their two fighter planes at bay.

We all did good at attacking the ground forces, and while both Alec and I managed to engage the enemy fighters, it was Alec who became the first person of the day to actually shoot down another plane!

Chaos Ensues: The orange markers on the road are where we've destroyed enemy trucks

The other game we played was an English Civil War skirmish that saw Alec adopting some 'interesting' tactics to lure the Royalists out of their farmstead, but then Bettany snuck a couple of Roundhead cavalrymen round behind them and took control of the building.

Given that his men were armed with single shot pistols and carbines, Alec did a terrifying job of knocking Royalists off their horses, with the majority breaking their necks in the fall or otherwise dying from their injuries.


The show was as entertaining as ever this year. I'd say there might have been slightly fewer traders, compared to last year, but there was a steady flow of visitors through the four or so hours I was there.

And the biggest revelation - which I hope they build on for next year - was the first ever appearance of a roleplaying club. It was a group from Wadhurst playing some 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons and trying to recruit more members of their club.

I was very excited to see roleplaying games being represented

Nick and I reckon the Tuesday Knights should have a table next year and try to recruit some more members that way (not sure Rachel would be happy to continue footing the pizza bill if we became a fully-fledged club!).

A couple of stand-out demonstration games were the Deal Wargames Association's "Invasion Of Elba, 1944"...


... and Halsham Wargames Club's The Da Vinci Wars, a Renaissance era game complete with a Da Vinci glider and tank. All very Da Vinci's Demons!

 

Nick got the kids Star Wars space ships (Bettany got The Ghost from Rebels and Alec got a snazzy TIE fighter), I got Nick a book about The 100 Hours War for this birthday, and I picked up some cheap dungeon tiles and a lovely little box of part-painted Game Of Thrones miniatures, Stark Family heroes from the new Cool Minis Or Not A Song Of Ice And Fire wargame.

A minimalist haul from a great day out!

Jokes From The Past...

Saturday, 23 February 2019

I Suspect The Film Will Not Live Up To The Brilliance Of This Poster...


Sophie's 18th birthday becomes a bloodbath when monsters descend upon her house and start to devour the party guests. Sophie and her friends must rally together to send their party crashers back to hell.
Arriving on VOD and home video in the States on March 19, this British horror flick boasts a gorgeous poster from The Dude Designs.

Be warned the monster and swear-heavy red-band trailer is definitely NSFW!

Thor: Love & Thunder (2022) + Dr Who (2022)

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