Tuesday, November 22, 2016

'Pedes, Pup & Pump-can (Apocalyptic Dispatches from Parcher's Pt. 2)

Hopefully these man-sized millipedes will haunt my player's dreams...

Got in our third session of Apocalypse-World. Not quite as action-packed as the last, but I did some poking, prodding and prep for what's to come (if you're playing the drinking game, take a double for my overuse of alliteration...).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Corpse Chewer - Or a semi-improv, low prep 13th Age One shot you could run too


After the election my wife asked me to run a combat heavy one shot RPG as a distraction, I've been burnt out a little on 5e D&D lately, so I decided to run 13th Age instead.

I like 13th Age for this kind of adventure/monster fighting combat heavy game because...

  • It's basically D&D. I mean, it's not official Wizards of the Coast branded D&D(TM) but it's got a unified d20 mechanic like recent D&D, the classic classes, races and a lot of the feel.
  • It's good at what it does and focuses on that. It's not the game I'd run if I wanted to run a social intrigue game (probably, right now, V20 Vampire the Dark Ages would win) or the game I'd run if I wanted a gritty game where the PCs struggled to survive (for now, that would probably be Shadow of the Demon Lord) but for a combat heavy game where PCs will have cool stuff to do during combat and you want a high fantasy feel it's an excellent choice. 
  • 13th Age PCs are surprisingly simple(ish). For the game I just used some pre-made 4th level characters (and recommend you do too) and they all fit onto a single page without needing a magnifying glass to read the type. Even if players make their own PCs, they really only need their class write up at hand to play and won't need to flip between multiple sections of the core book the way any of the spellcasting classes in 5e D&D do (and remember that 5 of the 12 classes of 5e have spellcasting and gain or can gain spells, though that Totem Barbarian who gets two spells as rituals won't need the book as much as the wizard, but still...)
  • Icon Relationships, Backgrounds and One Unique Things encourage player investment, even for one shot characters.
    • A few memorable one unique things from when I ran this...
      • Renowned as a 'fuck-up'.
      • Attracts random cats when she sings.
      • Half of his face looks like a corpse.
So, without further ado, here is Corpse Chewer, a semi-improv, low prep 13th Age One shot. It's semi-improv because I'm providing the skeletal sketch of the plot arc and combat encounters but you can improvise the description of the dungeon and environs itself and some of the flavor bits can be tailored to the icon relationships the players pick.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Bringing a Hand Grenade to a Tire Iron Fight (Apocalyptic Dispatches from Parcher's Pt. 1)

First, a reminder, please consider supporting my 2016 Extra Life campaign. It's not often that I get to put my nerdy hobbies to the cause of good, so donations do mean a lot to me. Thanks!


So... last month I started a new Apocalypse-World Campaign, taking the second edition rules out for a test drive, and got to run a second session this last Saturday. For this particular campaign, I went in blind, not having any ideas what I'd run until the players chose playbooks and created their PCs, and so I ended up having the following to toy with (a note, Parcher is the Hardholder NPC I created once it was clear there wasn't a Hardholder PC to run the joint):

  • Pinky - The Chopper
    • A woman with a busted face, wiry body and kind eyes. Wearing combat biker wear and a grotesque prosthetic leg with lots of straps, buckles and a complicated harness.
    • Has 2 harm gang medium savage mobile 1-armor, vulnerable to breakdown. Notable gang members: Winkle, Goldy, Stinky, Gary (the new Guy), Larry, Harry and Barry. Gang can call her Half-Pint, but no one else can.
    • Left Man bleeding and did nothing.
    • Has a side-car for Thirteen to ride in.
    • Just coming back to Parcher's Hardhold on day 130.
  • Ming - The Driver
    • An older Asian woman with a fine-boned face, sad eyes and a slim and frail body. Wearing an immaculate windbreaker suit. Also has a comfortable, hand-built, prosthetic leg with a complicated harness.
    • Has a Buggy that is fast, pristine, luxe and cramped.
    • Has been with Firefly for days on the road.
    • Also just coming to Parcher's Hardhold.
  • Man - The Gunlugger
    • Concealed gender, battered old armor, a dull face, sad eyes and a stringy body.
    • Carries a silenced sniper rifle, a shotgun and a shit-ton of knives.
    • Got Ming out of some serious shit and used to ride with Pinky's gang until they abandoned him in Parcher's Hardhold. Now serves as Parcher's enforcer and sometimes bodyguard.
  • Firefly - The Battlebabe
    • A woman with a girlish face, merciless eyes and a slim body, clad in display wear with high boots.
    • Wields a long-bladed sword staff.
    • Does odd jobs for Parcher, as well as Twice, who runs a club in the hardhold.
    • Has fought shoulder to shoulder with Man. Trusts all the PCs but Pinky, who she thinks she can take in a fight.
  • Thirteen - The Child-Thing
    • A girl with a pretty face, wise eyes and a child's body, clad in scrounge wear.
    • Always hiding from the Wolves of the Maelstrom, perversions of birth, who look like beasts under their disguises but they have empty holes for eyes and they only howl when their nature is revealed.
    • She has a radio that speaks only to her, and her den is a crooked, labyrinthine set of interconnected tunnels and boltways with ways into basically everyone's spaces, even if they've taken pains to close them off.
    • She thinks Ming and Man might be Wolves of the Maelstrom.
Fair warning... plenty of foul language below the cut...

Friday, October 28, 2016

Deathgrind D&D Preview - Extra Life 2016


Way back in June, I had the idea of Deathgrind D&D, after playing hours of Dungeon Robber, and thought it would work well for a birthday D&D game. Well... my birthday came and went and I didn't run Deathgrind D&D, but in the last few weeks I've buckled down and gotten it written out to a point where I can run it for Extra Life 2016. So, without further ado, here is a re-written pitch and rules and what-not...

But actually, before that, please consider donating to my Extra Life. Thanks for your support!


Semi-Competi-Comic-Death Grind D&D


5th Edition D&D at a frantic and farcical pace, a less than serious game where the stakes are low, but also high, and investment in your PC is low until they start surviving—A celebration of the absurdity of rolling dice and marking sheets of paper. Bring a roster of 1st level characters or choose from the many pre-made options to toss into the abattoir, or just watch and giggle and try to get a bingo. 

Compete for awards like “Fastest PC Death”, “Most Humorous Monster Kill” and “Most Natural 1’s by a Player” as we throw PC after PC into the death machine of a whimsical mega-dungeon, complete with room names like “The Deadly Catacombs of Cursed Mesmerizing Lights” and “The Forgotten Harem of Ghostly Mildewed Ladies”. 

Players will tag in and out as they come and go, or as their PCs die and new PCs enter the dungeon. Fun will be emphasized over plot, rules or continuity of any kind as we drink. Spectators and players not currently playing will be able to participate in Death Grind D&D Bingo.

Each PC will get a “DOOOM!,” like “Goblin Bait: Goblinoids attack you if they are able” and a “Glimmer” (as in glimmer of hope) like “Bone-Breaker: Once per encounter you can declare an attack against an Undead to be a Critical Hit, before or after the roll is made” and loot (magical and not) will be plentiful. 

Each player will get a chance to bring back a PC as a Zombie or a Ghost for a small donation in support of the Extra-Life campaign and other fun rewards will be offered for donations as well.

Full Deathgrind D&D pitch and rules

Additional samples...


  • DOOOMS!
    • Mage Slayer
      • You have an unreasonable hatred of Spellcasters and are unable to target any other creatures or take any action aside from making an attack whose target includes at least one enemy Spellcaster unless you use a bonus action to focus. This affiliction does not cause you to have any enmity towards PC Spellcasters. Gain 1 XP for surviving any encounter where this Dooom! comes into play.
    • Afraid of the Dark
      • You are afraid of the Dark and suffer from the Frightened condition in any encounter where you can see an area of Darkness larger than a 5' square until you make a DC 12 WIS saving throw or until the Darkness has been illuminated. Gain 1 XP for surviving any encounter where this Dooom! comes into play.
    • Thin-Skinned
      • You are vulnerable (take 2x damage) from Slashing damage. Gain 1 XP for surviving any encounter where this Dooom! comes into play.
  • Glimmers
    • Gear Smasher
      • Once per encounter you can declare an attack against a Construct to be a Critical Hit, before or after the roll is made.
    • Ghost Flub
      • Once an encounter you can declare any attack made by an Undead that targets or includes you as a target as a Critical Miss.
    • Blessed Entropy
      • Once an encounter you tell the DM that any single non-construct, non-trap inanimate object breaks. You can suggest how this happens, but the final call is the DM's, but as long as the object is not a trap or a construct it will break by the start of your next turn.
  • Luck Deck
    • You are turned into a Gelatinous Cube
    • Your armor become a suit of Plate Mail
    • You are under the "Reduce" effect of an Enlarge/Reduce spell for the remainder of the combat.
  • Room Names
    • The Fiery Maze of Crystal Bone Hands
    • The Green and Purple Pit of Souls Inscrutable
    • The Deadly Prison of Ancient Copper Eyes
  • Awards
    • Fastest PC Death
    • Most Humorous Monster Kill
    • Most Natural 1's by a Player
    • Most Natural 20's by a Player
    • Most Dead PCs
    • Most XP earned by a Player
    • PC with most Encounters Survived
    • PC with the most Loot

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Party Time - Voltron as Inspiration and other recent Party Building & Character Creation

Or how can a GM trick his players into forming a party that is both this
 and occasionally this...


Thomas insisted that I give the new Netflix reboot of Voltron, Voltron: Legendary Defender, a try, and I'm incredibly glad I did. I have very few memories of the Voltron TV series that aired on American TV in the 80s. I'm certain I saw re-runs in syndication and I had the Voltron figure that combined all 5 lions, though I lost the sword and paladin figures before I started elementary school. Which is to say, I knew Voltron, but didn't have many definite and concrete memories and went into Voltron: Legendary Defender with only hazy memories of what came before.

Now, I won't try to claim that V:LD is high art or ground-breaking for a 'kids show' in the way that I might for Adventure Time, Steven Universe or Over the Garden Wall, but I did find it enjoyable and I'm looking forward to the second season. There's a slow bit in the middle of the series with some rock people and a friend remarked to me that there's a lot of it that revolves around them not being able to or wanting to form Voltron, but what I keep going back too as I think about the show is how it could be an excellent model for a D&D style adventuring party.



Sunday, September 4, 2016

Meat is Meat - Antagonist Relations Actual Play Podcast 7

Once again we descended into the lair of the Ginger Giant and recorded the continuing adventures of the Stonestrike sisters plus retinue. Murdered and mutilated mirror doubles, more bores of boars and an unexpected death in "Meat is Meat - Antagonist Relations Actual Play Podcast 7"

Plus, remember the glimpse of the map I provided last time?


Here is James' attempt at mapping the northwest corner before it drove him mad....

Friday, September 2, 2016

Antagonist Relations Actual Play Podcast 6 - GM Commentary + Bonus Antagonist Relations Commentary

First, go listen to Because They're Suckers - Antagonist Relations Actual Play Podcast 6 as that is the session that I'll be commenting on. A Red and Pleasant Land is abbreviated as aR&PL below. Also, spoilers for the podcast, though I'll hide any spoilers for the players about upcoming sessions.

Comments are in roughly chronological order as I listen to the podcast for the umpteenth time...

A Mome-rath... a boar that's a... bore...