Thursday, September 24, 2020

Libra (GLOG Hack)

Libra is an urban fantasy/supernatural conspiracy version of the GLOG. Instead of dice, it uses Zener cards - tools used by 20th century researchers into psychic ability.

It has 7 classes (6 varieties of psychic and 1 standard person), an original magic system, and 18 adventure seeds. It's been playtested in a short campaign that reached level 2. Click on the cover to grab the PDF.

Edit: ArkosDawn has recommended a great way to make this game still work online - roll 1d6 ignoring 6 (or 1d5 on a die roller) instead of drawing, and have the player guess for checks as normal.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

King of Dust Zine!

 My cyberpunk management game, King of Dust, has finally been released publicly - you can buy it on here for $4. Thanks for your patience - it's taken a lot longer to release this than I had hoped it would.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

OSR Interviews 2 - Vayra

A: So, introduce yourself - name, blog, favorite color, etc.

V: HI MY NAME IS VAYRA you can find my Works (gaze upon them, and despair) at

I live in the PNW (BC, Canada, to be exact) and my favorite color is being needlessly contrarian.

A: Ah. I'm partial to yellow, myself.

What have you been playing/running recently? Anything you've enjoyed?

V: I'm currently engaged in a (supposedly) weekly Monster of the Week game IRL, which I hate. Beyond that, I'm participating in many GLOGs online: OSR Discord user deus ex parabola's Face campaign (probably the best game I've played), Phlox's Vain the Sword play-by-post, and Xenophon of Athens' run of Deep Carbon Observatory using his own Carolingian GLOGhack rules. I also recently wrapped up a minicampaign of a novel scifi-horror game called Sunless Horizon run by someone whose name escapes me, and am hopefully going to be in an OSE run of Barrowmaze, if we can work out scheduling.

On the GMing side, I recently had to mercy-kill a 3.5e play-by-post (which went the way of most of its ilk, withered due to lack of attention) and am gearing up to run a DCC one-to-three-shot for a "RPG Bucket List" event a discord server I'm on is holding - basically a lot of people signed up to run or play one-shots and try systems they've always wanted to.

A: Hm, I wonder who could've run Sunless Horizon.

Have you run DCC before? What do you think about it?

V: Right? Who could it be?

I have not! I dug into it a bit to make pregen level 0 characters (four each) for my prospective players - it seems awfully complicated, if I'm honest. I'd thought that anything with such a focus on funnel play would have very rapid character generation, but it's a bit overwhelming and would probably remain that way until/unless I fully familiarized myself with the process. I am apprehensive about running combat with something close to 20 participants (though DCC being initiative-per-player in funnel play is a nice gesture towards usability). Besides that though, it seems like a perfectly serviceable D&D.

A: It was the first RPG I ever ran - I thought it went quite well.

And speaking of first games, you were introduced to RPGs through D&D 3.5e, if I remember correctly. How did you move from there into the OSR?

V: My first introduction was actually through Red Box Basic, in elementary school - but we only played a couple sessions (through the introductory dungeon in the box) and I don't remember anything about it except that someone rolled a 1 for their Magic-User's HP and that we got TPK'd by that fucking Carrion Crawler. I do commend that version for being able to teach myself (age about 7), an older student (somewhere in their young teens, the school was K-12) and a teacher I'd roped into it how to play, all of us with no prior experience.

But yeah, I really got into it in highschool with 3.0/3.5e. Long before I'd heard of the OSR, my favorite way to play was E6 - capped at 6th level, before the towering superstructure of 3.5 really starts collapsing in on itself under its own weight. I was also always big on homebrewing and hacking: I ended up making a classless E6 hack using bits from 3.5, d20 modern, and an entirely homebrew firearms system (which I keep meaning to clean up and post, eventually) to run a hugely successful post-apocalyptic campaign - still before getting into the OSR, but I'm sure you can see the parallels!

At some point a few years ago - maybe 2013-2014-ish? - I happened upon the blog of [DATA EXPUNGED], which was okay, and from there somehow found my way to Goblinpunch, the home of our gobfather Arnold K. (PBUH) and a pile of other blogs like Middenmurk (now defunct, here's a good post) and Straits of Anian (likewise). This was my introduction to the OSR, but I never got onto Google+ so I remained exposed to them purely through reading the blogs and immersing myself in the wonderfully Weird settings. I really got involved with the community only recently - mid-March this year (2020) - when I joined Chris Dowell's OSR Discord and started a blog to work on my own Weird Fantasy setting.

A: Let's talk about that setting - the Mountain. Where did that come from?

V: So, after playing 3.5e through highschool (and for a while after), I was pretty thoroughly tired of Generic Fantasy settings. Regardless, around 2014 I started gearing up to run an online E6 game for some pals from leftbook, and for my broken brain that meant creating a fully detailed more-or-less-generic-fantasy setting to run it in. It was roughly patterned after the world from the Belgariad/Malloreon novels (exemplary works of Generic Fantasy) - basically a pastiche of interesting historical empires all smashed into the same time period. My sole concession to Weird was: "'Human' is a generic term for vaguely humanoid species. Common 'races' are orcs, goblinoids, kobolds, lizardfolk, minotaurs, dogmen, etc."
The game never happened, but I still wrote out a whole-ass 31 page setting document for it, in the style of a 3.5e gazette. It is deeply exhausting to read and I will never link to it directly, but it lives on as the basis for the (off-screen, out-of-scope) "Civilized Lands" in the Mountain setting.

More recently, around 2018, I remembered I had all these OSR blogs bookmarked and I started reading them at work (I believe the best way to recover excess value stolen from us by our bosses is to work as little as possible, so I spend a lot of time reading things at work). This drove me to re-envision the setting: I stole the basic concepts, some elements from the history, and one thing I remembered from a short-lived highschool campaign run by my girlfriend at the time - the entire thing would be set on a single, gigantic Mountain. 

I also committed to making it much more thoroughly Weird, starting with the four elements. I had been listening to a series of witch house mixes by a duo named ∆AIMON a lot at the time, one of which was titled WATER BLOOD ASHES BONES, which I thought was an excellent set. Obviously keeping 'water' as an element wouldn't do, so I swapped it out with 'fish' and, well, here we are.
In the future, I'm hoping to slowly produce the Mountain's levels as self-contained booklets, then maybe self-publish them as a megadungeon along with a setting guide. Somewhere along the way I'll also have to actually run it, of course.

A: I hope you manage to run it sometime - megadungeons are really interesting, and it looks like this one will be more interesting than most.

Well, we've talked about playing and writing, so now we only have one of the three pillars left - reading. What have you read recently (an OSR book, an RPG book, just a book) that you'd recommend?

V: Hmm, these won't all be recent, but let's see...

David Graeber, who is probably my favorite nonfiction author, died recently. I consider his book 'Debt: The First 5,000 Years' to be essential reading for any aspiring worldbuilder, and I read it within the last year or so, so I'm gonna recommend that one first. His other books are also excellent, and I would recommend 'Bullshit Jobs' and 'The Utopia of Rules' to everyone as well despite them being less directly connected to RPGs.

A lot of RPG writing and worldbuilding focuses around war. They aren't fantasy or historical, but I would highly recommend people read 'Hammer's Slammers' by David Drake (mil-SF) and read or watch 'Generation Kill' - either the book by Evan Wright or the 7-episode HBO miniseries based on it - (nonfiction) to get a feel for that sort of setting. Both works paint an excellent - and reportedly, accurate - picture of war and the people who fight in it without falling into jingoism common to works about the topic. 

Old blogs! Dig up some old blogs! I mentioned Goblinpunch, Middenmurk and Straits of Anian earlier, but check out Udan-Adan and Richard's Dystopian Pokeverse too. Start from the beginning. I bet there's something you missed.

A: I have read Goblin Punch and Udan-Adan front to back more times than I want to admit.

We're getting close to our time limit - is there anything else you'd like to talk about?

V: Gimme a topic, anything.

A: Why did you choose the GLOG as your OSR system of choice?

V: Ah! That's easy: So as I mentioned, I really got into TTRPGs with D&D 3.5e and mostly played E6 - and as I maybe haven't mentioned yet here, I still really enjoy it. GLOG reproduces the elements of it that I like (low level cap, relatively powerful characters, lots of options) while dispensing with the elements I don't like (too many moving parts). I was briefly in a BFRPG game or two and even that kind of rubs me the wrong way now, as does anything else with uncapped (or high-capped) levelling! It's all about that juxtaposition of power and vulnerability, for me - something that GLOG and E6 do very well, and I find most other things don't.

The mood, the culture, also, is essential. I wrote a whole post more or less about that, in fact.

A: That post looks great! Thank you for your time!

Monday, September 7, 2020

OSR Interviews 1 - Erika

For a couple weeks, I'm going to be posting interviews with members of the OSR community - first is Erika, of Ice Queen's Throne. This is my first time interviewing anyone, so it has some issues; the next ones should be better. If you want to get on the list, I have contact information on my blog's sidebar.

Archon: First, let's talk about something light - have you been able to play anything recently?

Erika: The last game I ran was the final session of my Old School Essentials game set in the Forgotten Realms; we kind of got collectively frustrated at the poor design of the module and cancelled it, so not the most fun session, but onwards and upwards!

A: Ah, I'm sorry about that. I haven't played OSE - what do you think of it?

E: I like it a lot, honestly - I'm about to back the kickstarter for new rules taken from AD&D. The toolbox purity of making sure it's compatible with original B/X stuff is really appealing, as I often want to revive some older module/setting/style of play that I'm curious about. The rules are well presented and easy to run, which is really nice.

A: So, do you think you'll keep running OSE in your next campaign, or is there another system you'd like to try?

E: Honestly, I have so many games I want to try it's hard to tell! I'm running Pathfinder 2e for my other group right now and that's a blast; I'm looking at setting up some one-shots to clean out stuff that's been on my shelf for years and never been played, and I kind of want to run a new World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness game next. For old-school stuff, if I want to do something strictly revivalist, OSE is a good bet; for something more revolutionary I should really try the GLOG and Esoteric Enterprises and Knave and [goes on forever here].

A: There's always a lot to try, isn't there. I'd recommend the GLOG (because of course I would).

E: Why would you recommend the GLOG? What does the GLOG do well for you?

A: I think it does a lot of things quite well - for one thing, it's incredibly simple - one of my unreleased hacks fits all its rules onto a single page. It's also very modular; I've seen lots of different combat systems, stat systems, and settings, because of how easy it is to change the few rules it has. Most importantly to me, it's excellent at containing setting - through your class choices, you can show almost any genre through the GLOG. For example, there's a couple cyberpunk versions, and I'm currently working on an EE-like urban fantasy hack. 

And, I know this is a peripheral thing, but the culture around the game is excellent - they just keep making things, constantly, and its always something strange.

I know you have your blog, but is there anywhere else you release OSR content? A book or a zine you've written, anything like that.

E: Nothing yet really, most of what I do is specifically for the games I'm running, so I haven't had a lot to show otherwise. I was thinking about doing a hack of OSE and 2e AD&D, but put that aside with the game ending.

A: That's a shame. You were one of the originators of the PLOG movement - do you think that's had an effect on the OSR as a whole?

E: Not a lot? It was more of a personal calling card for myself and Zach about how we wanted to approach our own way of interpreting the OSR, and if it didn't go a whole bunch of anywhere, that's okay. 

Part of the idea of it being about loving your own trash was that it didn't have to be the same as everyone else's trash, and if other people didn't see the value in it, that's alright! Stuff like the GLOG is way beyond the realm of the PLOG, and if that's where people are having fun/being happy, that's what really matters. I appreciate having an idea and a mission statement for how to approach the revivalist stuff I like doing with OSE and other older D&D books.

A: It's a good guiding concept for OSR revivalists, in my opinion. The idea of tearing apart official products to scavenge good bits of them was what drew me to the community in the first place.

Speaking of that, how did you get into the OSR?

E: So for me, I straddle the line between old-school and modern D&D. I picked up D&D when I was like 9, at the very tail end of 2e, and didn't really get to play until I had the 3e starter box set a few years later. But my grandfather picked me up a used copy of the 1e DMG, and I was blown away by how incredibly lush and dense and inspiring it was. I could see that the rules were generally better in my 3.0 books, but the STORY and especially the world was so much better in that old DMG.

A: I've heard a lot of good things about the 1e DMG.

E: Right! there's tons of good stuff in it, so I'm always kind of balancing, the smoother rules and careful balancing and all the little content gimmicks of 3e/4e/Pathfinder with the sheer captivating power of the old-school stuff. and I want to find a way to kind of reconcile those, in my head? 

Have good flexible rules that can do a lot for character creation but also have a lot of room for worldbuilding and sandbox play like the old-school games did. I can never quite settle on one or the other. 

And I remember back in the 3.5 days the older stuff was kind of discarded, frequently given away for free by WotC; it wasn't until OSRIC came out that there was really something THERE to grab on to. The most influential OSR blog to me personally was likely Grognardia, because James Maliszewski's readings of older products really illustrated what they did well and what was worth celebrating about them that my newer stuff didn't have, and that was a convincing argument for trying old-school games off and on over the years. Haven't really quite had it stick yet, but I've learned a lot!

A: Grognardia recently returned to blogging - how do you feel about that?

E: I'm very excited by it! And he picked a hell of a product to come back with in Mork Borg, which is great. James admits he doesn't quite get "it" but he also doesn't have to, he can recognize that it's cool and good without being his cup of tea.

A: Have you taken a look at Mork Borg?
E: I haven't, but I'd really like to, it looks like a lot of fun, both stylistically and gameplay wise. As someone who GMs a lot by choice, Mork Borg is right up my alley, if I can pull myself away from big juggernaut projects to give it a go.

A: I hope you can find time to read it soon. Earlier, you also mentioned an interest in WoD/CoD - do you think there's anything the OSR can take from White Wolf's games?

E: I don't think there's a lot, because a lot of what those games do is very much what the OSR specifically doesn't do or does already do. CoD stories are often very tightly plotted, not a railroad but definitely involving quantum ogres and the like; at the most they're in sandboxes but they're very frustrating grindy ones for the players. 

The OSR definitely doesn't want metaplot, and it has its own toolkits already, so they're not very much alike. Emmy Allen's Esoteric Enterprises is a good example of putting the two together, but it does so by taking some of the narrative ideas in CoD stuff and putting it in the rules, style, and game framework of an OSR game, instead of mixing the two completely.

A: It's been about an hour: do you have any final statements before we finish up?

E: I don't blog a lot but when I do it's usually been about the Forgotten Realms not sucking pre-5e, so you should check out my blog for stuff on that.

A: Sounds great. Thanks for coming!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Sunless Horizon Play Report #2 (Sessions 3, 4, and 5)

Last session, the party started their adventure, went on a nice boating trip, were attacked by bugs, and then ate someone.

This time, we end the first "season" of the campaign with them completing their final objectives. And then they ate someone.


Unnamed - Oblidisideryptch 
Aemanda Tessier - Dom (only session 3)
Eni Léashvath - Vayra
Arok Tseyvar - Kwub (only session 3)
Erul Avedayati - PurpleCthulhu
Zoma - Justin Hamilton


More Walking
The players spent some time in Subrayada - giving the Overseer the capacitors they'd gathered, then going on a shopping trip. They managed to afford some more bullets for [PLACEHOLDER]'s new gun, and a knife for Aemanda.

They checked their map - the nearest objective was a Network Anteenna, from Network Station 32-c, only a mile and a half away. They leave, passing through Subrayada's front gate and a massive crack in one of the ship's walls. As they walked, the path in front of them split, over and over, until eventually they marched through a corridor only 10 feet wide. 

Then, they stopped. A 20-foot wide stream of corrosive liquid cut through one of the path's walls like a bleeding wound. burning through the floor and vanishing somewhere below.

[Unnamed] was immediately interested in tasting the liquid. When Erul's 10-foot pole (used for depth testing) came up tarnished and smoking, that attitude changed.

Eni decides fire fixed everything last time, and lights a torch, pushing it across the ground towards the stream. The liquid sputters and boils immediately, but does not burn. The party quickly realized that turning the dangerous corrosive stream into a dangerous corrosive cloud really wouldn't help their situation, and pulled out the torch.

Eventually they decide to block the flow with a wall panel. Eni bravely sacrifices their 10-foot pole to the task, and starts prying at the wall. The other PCs hear a pair of footsteps coming up from behind them - their special brand of violent paranoia is (at least time) unjustified, as the footsteps come from a pair of Sworn (Sworn are well-supplied direct agents of the Hierarchs, usually kept for actual wars. Subrayada has a few because of its proximity to a Coolant Sea, and with the rail line down the Overseer is at the top of their chain of command), out here trying to build a perimeter.

The Sworn warn them about the Network Station - traders have returned from there warning of Ghoul attacks. Eni responds with a... less than charismatic reference to Creationist Heresy, leading the more pious of the Sworn to blink in confusion. Luckily, the other breaks the tension, offering the party a round of drinks if they manage to make it back.

Having (barely) managed to talk to a person for 5 minutes without thinking about eating them, the party decide it's time for some lunch, and a test of Sunless Horizon's Rest system - instead of just healing, you get to choose 2 of a list of options (resting to restore Hope, using bandages and other medicine to restore Flesh, Scouting to change the random encounter table, etc.). 

[Unnamed] passes their Scout check, and decides to hunt down a group of bandits in the area. Aemanda passes as well, and removes one of the more threatening Obstacles. They start to move, and conceal themselves on one of the bandits' routes. Thanks to my poor initiative system, the fight turned into a massacre - each PC killed the bandit just below them in initiative, so initiative went to another PC, who then killed the next bandit, and repeat. (After this session we switched to a simultaneous system that seems to be working a lot better). 

The party loot the bandits, then travel the rest of the way to the Network Station.

Network Station 32-C

The Station is marked by a pair of enormous hydraulic doors, both stenciled with the station's designation. Over these stencils are unknown brownish symbols, scrawled by Ghouls to mark one of their nests. 

As the players crossed the doorway, they found a pair of heads on pikes (one Kaiva, one Disciple) staring at the entrance of the nest. Inside this front room is a round shaft leading deeper into the station, and a rusted scaffold drooping into the pit from the ceiling, bearing the antenna at its nadir.

While the players inspect the pit, they see a pair of wet, dark eyes - a Ghoul, staring back up at them. They decide to move down and try to parley - Eni descends on a rope and offers it some food. It accepts, but doesn't understand their language - Eni asks where the antenna is, but the Ghoul assumes they're looking for the last group of Jackals, and points to a small maintenance room on the other side of the shaft.

The rest of the PCs keep an eye on the Ghoul while Eni crosses over, and opens the door to the maintenance room. They are almost stabbed by one of the last Jackals - an Ayir named Alexis, with two broken legs. Alexis begs to be rescued, and the players bring her up to the first floor. The Ghoul they found leaves, crawling through a tunnel.

Then, they decide to descend all the way to the bottom, skipping the 3rd and 4th floors of the pit. At the bottom, they find the Network Antenna, hanging over an abyss. They can see lights blinking back at them from the bottom - it seems like they're miles away.

Like this, but upside-down. Sure looks safe to me!

As the PCs make a plan to detach the Antenna without it falling, a Ghoul starts to climb across the scaffolds above, from one room of the 3rd floor to another. As Eni disconnects the Antenna, [Unnamed] uses their duct tape to tape it to Eni's back. 

The Ghoul looks down and sees them. It coils and leaps, but [Unnamed] deflects it, sending it into the abyss. Its scream awakens the rest, and 5 Ghouls emerge from the 3rd floor. 2 start to climb the scaffolds to the top, while three descend.

This fight was the first test of the new simultaneous initiative system. 

Round One

Zoma and Erul both fire, the sound of their guns resonating in the walls. Both shots hit, one caving in a Ghoul's skull, the other puncturing its lung. Alexis throws a spear, stabbing through one of the descending Ghouls.

Round Two
One ghoul manages to reach the top floor, clawing at Erul before it dies of blood loss. Another simply collapses, falling from the scaffolds into the abyss. The last Ghoul resists Eni's poisons and bites them, before being thrown into the abyss by [Unnamed].

The PCs all rest, then decide to return to town and give the Overseer the Antenna. 

Oh Wow, a Real Conversation

Every obstacle between the Network Station and Subrayada had been cleared, so the PCs returned with no random encounters. After surrendering the Antenna, they take up the Sworn's offer of a meal. Eni immediately takes over the conversation, rambling about Keter's will. One of the Sworn, a Seeleh named Azad, rebuffs these arguments - the other, the Ayir Purnama, doesn't care (he's a pagan anyway).

Eventually, talk turns to more corporeal matters; Eni asks about becoming Sworn, and is told "Once you get the Overseer's Favor, they'll start giving you work - take it. Eventually, if you do well, they'll send you up to the Hierarch. This is a good time to do it, too - the Oasis Kingdoms are arming themselves, and the Lord Navigator's worried."

The Sworn also talk about the Mass Driver Aperture - apparently, some Skinborne say the own the place now. They don't usually hold territory; there must be something special about the place.

At this point, the players decide that direct exposure to vacuum isn't particularly healthy, so they sell one of their two guns to buy a Papersuit (thin foil spacesuit) and some air. They also made a backup plan - if they can't manage to afford the papersuit, they're just going to abandon the Houses entirely and try to make friends with the Sea People.

Luckily, the tiny amount of money they had was enough to buy a child's Halloween costume state-of-the-art spacesuit. Then, they leave town.

Even More W A L K I N G

The floor of their path quickly decays, eventually collapsing. 4 feet below is a reservoir of filthy, stagnant water. The floor returns after 60 feet. While Eni goes fishing (catching a strange crustacean), the rest of the party prepare to climb across the ceiling.

Eni slightly cuts herself on the ceiling's bars, while Erul falls off and lands eye-first on debris.

So, the party's priorities change immediately as Erul is now stuck in the reservoir and missing an eye. They all try to fish Erul out, and succeed.

(At this point, I gave up on my climbing system completely - it takes too long to resolve, and the failure tables are way too abrupt. If anyone has any good ideas, please put them in the comments, because this system has haunted me for months.)

After that incident, they make it to the Aperture without a problem.

It is Puzzle Time. You Have No Choice.

The party opens the sliding door to the Aperture. On the other side is a ladder leading up, and an airlock.

Everyone except [Unnamed] and Zoma go up the ladder, to the control room.


Control Room Objects
Console: Joystick, Red button (fire), green button (load)
Loader: Marked “No Personnel - Electrical/Crushing Hazard”. A large set of rollers lead into it, and it's connected to the breech of the mass driver
Floor Panel: Marked "Warning - Electrical Hazard. No Detach"

Eni immediately messes with the console. After some experimentation, Eni finds that the green button turns on the loader and energizes the rails, while the red button opens the barrel cap (the barrel is capped to ensure everything stays airtight) and releases the rails' energy.

Then, [Unnamed] and Zoma open the airlock, and float outside. Here, they find the Turret Ring, which connects the Aperture to the worldship's hull. They also see a single star, just over the hull's artificial horizon.

They both come back through the airlock, while Erul and Eni jam the loader with a metal pole. Then, they make a plan - the pole should short the rails next time they try to charge, so the inside of the barrel should be safe, or at least safer. [Unnamed] will out into space, then Eni'll cycle the gun again, and [Unnamed] will climb into the barrel while the turret cap is open. Zoma will go with them to make sure nothing weird happens.

The plan works... mostly. [Unnamed] makes it in without a problem, but Zoma notices the star they saw earlier is a lot closer now, and looks to be about 6 lights. Then it gets closer. And closer. Because it's a Skinborne ship, coming to take apart the Aperture and attach it to the Ark.

At this point, everyone panics. [Unnamed] hovers inside the barrel, hoping the ominous blue glow of the rails subsides before they drift into one of them, while Zoma completely abandons him, barely making it into the airlock before a pair of Skinborne emerge from the ship.

As the Skinborne move to the airlock, [Unnamed] begins stripping the mass driver's rails, ending up with 4 8-foot long cables studded with electromagnets. As the rest of the PCs hide in the ladder, [Unnamed] hatches a quite risky plan - they start to tie the rails together, and reconnect to them to their power source, explaining the plan by hammering on the walls of the turret in morse code.

Eni climbs up to the turret and hits the red button, opening the turret cap. [Unnamed] floats out of the barrel, throwing the rails as Eni hits the green button, charging them. The rails make contact, and both Skinborne convulse violently - one cracks their helmet's faceplate on the hull, and the other one wraps around the rails.

After a few minutes, a third Skinborne opens the ship's airlock, sees the two corpses, and goes back inside.

The PCs loot the bodies (getting a pair of lightly scorched Papersuits along with some tools), then they start the long trip back to Subrayada.

The Ceremony of Favors


At that point, the campaign (or at least its first season) ended. But, I'd prepared this little epilogue, so why not use it?

After the party returned to Subrayada, they spent a few days waiting for the Maglev Rail to be repaired. They were all formally invited to the opening.

When they arrived, the Overseer's Herald brought them up onto the train platform, and pushed them down in front of the Overseer. The Overseer signed, and the Herald translated - "You will be as hands to me. My orders will be obeyed, and in return, you will be elevated further. Look to me."

The Herald pulled their heads up to look at the Overseer, and dragged a thin knife across their foreheads. The Overseer bent down to taste the blood.

"It is sweet - you are Favored."

  1. Simultaneous combat is definitely the best option for this game.
  2. The Difficult Terrain system isn't really working how I had hoped. I'm currently debating whether to try a pointcrawl-like Difficult Terrain minigame, or just drop the subsystem entirely. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd really like to hear them.
  3. The game doc needs a lot more resources to be run by anyone but me - the Obstacle and Encounter tables are all placeholder, there's no guidance for if the PCs abandon the Houses, etc. This is my highest priority for the next version.
  4. And finally, this is a working concept. Even after all the work I'd put into this setting, I was still (very slightly) unsure if it would work for an RPG.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

sunless horizon rambling

i n t r o d u c t i o n
I am very lazy. Instead of writing something with actual substance, here's both a pile of pictures, and some vague rambling about video games.

first bit - the pictures

much of Ein Soph has decayed, becoming a wellspring of new life
some has not.
second bit - the rambling

zoop woop veyedio gaems

I steal all sorts of concepts and ideas from video games for Sunless, simply because it's all easier to reach. I can go "hm yes, maybe this game has good ideas", and then just play it for ~30 minutes, and see the good ideas! (yay)

So here are some veyedio gaems that I am mercilessly deconstructing and scavenging. Also, hey, maybe some of them look like fun.

Reciever - Fairness in Hyper-Lethal Environments

Reciever is the fastest, most utterly ridiculously lethal game I've ever played. You play as a person(?) wandering through an infinite purgatory of fancy apartments, hunting for audio tapes and fighting drones and turrets.

It would be incredibly boring if it didn't hate you so much. You can't just reload your gun, you need to mash 8 buttons in the correct order to go through the process of firearm operation step by step. 

Fights with the drones aren't even really fights in the traditional sense - either you see the drone first and knock it down with a single well-placed shot, or it sees you first and you frantically dump your entire magazine into it while screaming, then die.

look into the eyes of death

Despite this, it has one thin barrier between you and not-being-you-anymore - every enemy forgot to turn their headlights off, and they're so powerful the light glitches through walls. 

It's nearly impossible to be surprised - even if you don't notice the huge blue light (which is also the only blue thing in the game), the little *beep* they make a second before they attack will be burned into your mind.

This gives some good advice for the equally lethal combat found in Sunless Horizon (and the majority of other OSR games) - warn the players about monsters. For example, no one in Sunless Horizon has darkvision except the Disciples, so any group of wanderers would be bringing light. While Disciples are harder to see, they're easy to hear, thanks to their constant static-filled chanting.

NaissanceE - Inhuman Architecture

NaissanceE is a platformer(?)/walking simulator... thing, where you walk through a seemingly infinite purgatory of machinery and stark colors. Are you starting to see a theme?

The game is incredible at making you feel like you don't belong - the lights shift instantly from pitch-black to blindingly bright, you spend 5 minutes crawling through a tunnel barely taller than you are only to emerge in front of a mile-long chasm, electricity arcing across it in massive bolts. Nothing here it built for you. You should not be here. You do not fit into it's world.

A lot of what's been written about Sunless Horizon is very "woog darkness claustrophobia argh", but that's something I'm trying to move away from, into a less predictable framework.

You should absolutely watch this video, which explains the game better than it could ever be described in text.

Pathologic - Just Utterly Ruining Your Player's Lives
H E Y - this has spoilers for Pathologic, so if you don't want that, go away ok cool

Pathologic is a Russian survival horror game where you work to cure a plague in a rural steppe town. Pathologic is incredibly unpleasant to play - the vast majority of your time is spent slowly trudging through town over and over, the combat is odd, slippery, and terrible, and the game has a slight habit of not actually telling you how to play it.

However, it's very interestingly cruel - for example, on your second day in town, all prices increase tenfold without warning, dragging you down from a place of "I can easily afford stuff, I thought this game was hard!" to "Maybe I should sell my only weapon so I can buy food and survive another day."

It's incredibly unstable - things just change (always for the worse), with no warning, and you just have to deal with it. You can never be prepared for what happens next, it's all awful forever.

This is surprisingly easy to accomplish - a few timetables similar to those found within A Pound of Flesh can set up a framework for multiple types of events, from war between the Navigator Houses to the Disciples' Last Crusade. This idea's also useful in any game - have tables for the living Moon coming to kill everyone, the invasion of the Icthyan Empire from beneath the sea, or the rise of Hell and upending of all of the cosmos.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Canyon, a 200 Word RPG

Edit - Vayra of Mad Queen's Court has made an expanded and fancier version of this game here.

Even though there's no 200 Word RPG contest this year, I was so excited about making one that I did one anyway.

Canyon is a duet game about resource management and unexpected solutions, set in a largely undescribed post-apocalypse. I haven't gotten to test it yet, but I'd like to.

Game Text

You are a scavenger, in a destroyed world. You've been in a horrific car crash, breaking your leg and leaving you trapped. HOME does not know where you are.

There is one stat - PAIN. Start at one PAIN, gain one whenever you move or are attacked by the Ghoul, roll 1d6 > PAIN to act. Die at 6 PAIN.

There are 3 locations.

*Car Front*
Start here. 
Radio: contacts HOME, needs BATTERY
Headlights: make LIGHT, only forwards
Metal Tube
Vodka Flask
1 bullet
Door: destroyed, leads Outside.
Windshield: destructible, leads Outside if broken.

*Car Back*
Canned Meat
1 bullet
Heavy Metal Box
{ Flare Gun: 1 flare, makes LIGHT }
{ BATTERY: runs out after 1 use }
{ Flashlight: makes LIGHT, needs BATTERY }

The Ghoul waits here.
Gas Tank: mostly full
Gun: 1 bullet

The Ghoul is AFRAID OF: light, pain. ATTRACTED TO: sound, food. It is stronger than you.

Each turn, you can move once and act twice, and the Ghoul moves and acts once. Grabbing an item does not count as an action, but failing the roll to act does. In 8 turns, the sun will come up.

Sunless Horizon

Sunless Horizon is the most self-indulgent setting I'll ever make, taking inspiration from Veins of the Earth , Axis Mundi , HMS Apolly...