Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Dead in the Water (for MCC RPG)

Hello everyone!

If it seems that I have not posted in awhile, that because I have been caught up with real life — the bane of all RPG players.

I was working on another art project with Tim Snider and the final product came in my mailbox. Unlike the other projects, this one is for Goodman Games' Mutant Crawl Classic (instead of Mutant Future), and this one showcase a painting I did for him years ago on the cover (while working on the last Mutant Future-based supplement). I was so happy to see one of my pictures on the cover, I wanted to shout it from the rooftop, but them I remembered I have a Blog (pardon the dust... and cobwebs... and the old Christmas boxes... and the dead hookers).
The 16-page booklet — first featured at Gamehole Con in Madison, WI — is a simple "funnel adventure", for 12 to 16 zero-level characters. For those unfamiliar with Mutant Crawl Classic, as a standard rule, players start with multiple characters due to the high mortality rate at level-zero — once they gain a level, they play a single character with a class, and all the abilities that comes with it. If you cannot tell, where Mutant Future is the spiritual successor of 2nd ed. Gamma World, MCC feels like a successor of 4th ed. GW.

The adventure that takes place in The Rainbow Sea, on the legendary Island of Fire, where horrible mutants that stalk a local fishing village dwell! Your mission is to head out it the island and deal with these foul creatures.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Oh Zak...

Picture of Zak S., aka Zak Smith, aka Zak Sabbeth, aka Zak Shitbag.

I just found out about this today.

Why am I not suppressed?

For those not in the know, epic-level shit-starter Zak "S" Smith of Playing D&D with Porn Stars Blog and I Hit It With My Axe v-blog was just #MeToo-ed at the beginning of the week. In a nutshell, his ex-girlfriends -- Mandy, Jennifer, and Hannah and Vivka -- came foward to tell the world about his menially, emotionally and sexually abusive behavior towards them.

You can read it here.

I read their posts. I have no doubts about the honesty of the women that came forward. What they said about him is too specific and are the types of things people seldom think of when it comes to abuse. He is a narcissistic ass who treats people like shit and then looses his shit when people throw this shit right back at him. I recognize the patters, and I have known too many assholes like that!

Years ago, I used to follow his blog, and it had some good stuff on it. Some time after, I noticed how toxic he is, and they way he overreacts to anyone who disagrees with him. I hate the term "SJW" and I considered people threw that term around (along with "cuck" and "NPC" -- outside RPGs and video games) to be self-deluded shit-heels, but Zak acts as the poster boy of what Alt-Right wankers call "SJWs". Although, in Zak's case, he does not care about anyone else to really care about the equality of others, especially women. Much like a rich prick who throws a million to charity and a further 2-million to make sure the while world knows it, Zak puts on the badge of "social inclusiveness" to make himself look good.

While there are going to be apologists who will take his side, they can kiss my ass, along with those asshats who would start a campaign of threats and harassment on the woman... well they can choke on my dick! Well, people are dropping him left and right like the burning bag of shit that he is. His ability to find sites to publish his stuff is now limited. He is already banned from a number of forums (to be fair, he was already banned from many sides for being such a toxic person).

I wish to thank the woman for being brave enough to speak out about him, as the internet gets really nasty with women who do so. That kind of added abuse should also not be tolerated. I wish the women well and godspeed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Happy Holidays!

Tis the season to be naughty, Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

Whatever holiday you celebrate, eat & drink well, fuck hard, and enjoy your bounties.

Happy Holidays, you awesome motherfuckers! _\,,/

Sunday, November 4, 2018

My DriveThruRPG POD Haul

For those do don't know, the DriveThruRPG website offers not just game books in a digital Portable Document Format (PDF), but also physical Print-On-Demand (POD) copies, much like with I have a TON of PDFs on my computer and backups storage mediums (disks, USB sticks, etc.), along with a small tablet to read them, and I love that I have access to a lot of gaming resources (legal or otherwise) at my finger-tip, but I also like to run games with actual physical books instead of fumbling through a sea of digital files that cannot be booked-marked or recalled with any amount of speed. Here is something about having books right there at your desk and in your shelf. Plus, a number of the current PODs are for old, discontinued products, with a good number providing extra income to their creator (although, I could care less about WotC or who ever took over White Wolf Publishing).

Mind you, in a number of cases, retro-clone POD books are cheap enough to buy out of hand, but I still have to save-up for them. It this case, I had to save up for months to buy these "big books":

OK, firstly, months back I got the re-print of the classic Empire of the Petal Throne: The World of Tékumel.

For a while I was reading through some pirated PDFs about the setting and fell in love with it. It is a rich and beautiful backdrop deep in history and culture. To me, this is true fantasy, as its far beyond the mundane and ordinary fantasy we see everywhere today. This is not a setting like Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms where you can jump right in without effort. Tékumel requires a bit of research (and some mental adjustment) to get into. I know this is really off-putting to most, but I eat the setting details up like candy. As a fan of the Barsoom Saga, I'll usually fall back on the Tsolyáni culture to round-out the Barsoom people... or a derivative there off. Buying the hardcopy felt great, as I know it would go to Baker's estate.

I quite enjoyed the book, but I could care less about the rules. I'm more interested in the setting itself, so I put my sights on Swords and Glory vol. 1: Tékumel Source Book, which I ordered last month, along with the next book...

For few a years now, I have been in an '80s nostalgia-driven classic cyberpunk kick. Back in the '90s I was into the cyberpunk genre, but the only thing available was Shadowrun, but I never liked that game. All I wanted was pure, unadulterated cyberpunk! No punk-rock elves! No street-mages! No dragon-CEOs! I have a number of cyberpunk RPGs on my files — Shadowrun, Cyberspace, GURPS Cyberpunk, C.O.P.S., etc. — and I like to mix things up, but the cyberpunk backdrop that really stood out is Cyberpunk It has all the right mix of elements: Gibson/Sterling-styled "Mirrorshades" cyber-punks; Bladerunner-like backdrop; Tech Noir-styled bars bathed in blue & pink bisexual neon lighting; OCP-like Machiavellian corporate politics; Mad Max-styled Nomads (and Water World-styled Pirate-bikers for good measure) Rage Against the Machine-like Rockerboys; weapons, gear and vehicles that look like concept art form late-'80s OVA-era anime; a sex-positive attitude towards nudity and sexuality; and a fashion sense and outlook that is so entrenched in the 1980s.

Now, I'm not a fan of the Cyberpunk 2020 rules: I find the game mechanics to be dull and I never liked Humanity Loss, as I see it as a wonky limiter on the number of cybernetics that you can install. Plus it makes no sense that a few cosmetic implants that change your physical features in smalls ways (color-changing hair/eyes/skin, glow-in-the-dark tattoos, etc.) and things that folks do even think about (blood-filters, contraceptive implants, and the like), above and beyond the major mental and physical alterations, would push someone into becoming a murderous psychopath. (If anything, only have the cool, useful things strip one's psyche.) It also has a strange aversion to recreational drug-use in that "Reefer Madness" sort of way. I don't care what Maximum Mike said: Cyberpunk is vary much "Dungeons & Drug-Dealers"! Much like in the real-world, safe recreational drug-use is a skill all its own (hell, even as a kid I was taught: "Even with weed, always know the person you are buying drugs from!"), and drug-dealers do not last long peddling bad shit.

But still, I bought the reprint of Cyberpunk (second edition, version 2.01). You might be asking way I would put money down on a system I don't care for. The truth is, I see the Cyberpunk 2020 setting as a foundation for my own cyberpunk games. I can add, mix, alter and remove things as I see fit, using a rule-system of my own choosing. I have a ton of other cyberpunk-related books, RPGs, movies and anime to work with. More over, there is a a great resource for EVERYTHING Cyberpunk 2020-related called Datafortress 2020! It list every item, weapon, armor, cyberware, lifestyle and vehicle found throughout the history of CP2020 and than some. It expands on Night City. Goes into the major military conflicts in Africa and South America. And it really flesh out the Nomad culture. (All while using a lot of images found on countless search results.) I highly recommend that site, even if you are not into the CP2020 setting.

The Tékumel Source Book and Cyberpunk reprints arrived a day before Halloween and I have been reading both. The Tékumel Source Book is full of great information, but lacks page numbers with it indexing. Everything is in 1.XYZ index numbers with the "1" being the book, the "X" being a section of a broad topic and "Y" and "Z" going into more and more specific topics. As such, I'm having to write the section headers and index numbers on the top corners of each page to be able to find everything as the sub-section headers tend to get buried it the walls of texts. Due to a lack of artwork, I cannot rely on them to "landmark" sections, so I'm more dependent on the indexing. The top-page headers I put in looks like this (bun in pencil):

Early History — The Historical Empires
1.200 — 1.310

Besides that issue, I really enjoy what it has too offer. Its going to take more time to fully absorb it, but so damn worth it!

Beyond the rules, the Cyberpunk 2020 book is great! The artwork is good, although I wised that it was a little less prudish. I have seen the non-English CP2020 books, and they have less restraint. (Although, if I had my way, Tim Bradstreet, with his hard realistic, film noir style, would totally be apart of their artist pool.) What I really enjoy about the game is how it is presented like a series of magazine articles with magazine adds here and there for notable equipment. I love this! It really adds to game immersion. When you read the start of the chapters it really casual and, much like actual magazine articles, you'll find quotes from the chapter placed in sidebars as large, bold text to really highlight what the section is about. You'll find newspaper articles related to a situation only to turn the page and find a game scenario about it. You'll find quotes form the likes of Johnny Silverhand, a rebel Rockerboy, Morgan Blackhand, the "Solo's Solo", and Maximum Mike, who is essentially the Word-of-God for the game (the game was written by Mike Pondsmith). With all the art, tables and sidebars, is hard to to get lost in this book.

In both cases, the books kind of suffers from the black & white line illustrations due to how both setting love vivid colors. In Tékumel, they love bright, contrasting colors. Houses, clothing, banners, the works: Bathed in bright colors with a lot of meaning. Cyberpunk maybe a futuristic film noir, but it is covered in Hajime Sorayama-styled chrome, with the bold color contrast of Patrick Nagel, and the aforementioned blue-N-pink bisexual neon lighting. (Although, that would have made the reprints more expensive and time-consuming.) Also, I'm not above altering the artwork of a new or reprint RPG, if I have issue with it — I did this for my Crimson Blades books and some others. Being line art, it makes my job way more easy.

If there is one thing I wish DriveThruRPG had for Tékumel is Book of Ebon Bindings. Is is a book about demonology and the occult. Damn good stuff!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Old-School Cyberpunk (and Nostalgia)

For some years now I have been rally into Cyberpunk-genre gaming, mostly out of '80s and '90s nostalgia.

I grew-up in the '80s, will all the cheesy cartoons, comic books, and blood-n-boob filled action & horror films that came with it. On top of that, being from the San Fransisco Bay Area, I was exposed to the Puck scene, the Hip-Hop scene, sci-fi/fantasy/comic/RPG conventions, and bootleg "Japanimation" more-or-less at once. It was neat, but I was mostly in the background as a child too young to really understand a lot of it.

I started to come in to my own as a young teen in the '90s. By then, I was into heavy metal, discovering a lot of legally made "dubbed" anime (before then, you had to rely on bootlegs having subtitles or own a magazine that lists the translations) that came of the OVA video market, and I was running my own D&D games. The '90s anime market had a wide range of genre, but the one that really stood out was cyberpunk, with titles like Akira, Appleseed, Battle Angel Alita, Bubblegum Crisis, Ghost in the Shell, etc. (Much of it was inspired by American films from the '80s) Back in the '90s, I mostly played D&D, Battletech, 1e Gamma World. My first exposure to cyberpunk gaming was Shadowrun (2e). It was classic cyberpunk mixed with fantasy elements. I never liked that combination. By the time I discovered SR, the Tolkien elements of fantasy — elves, orcs, overly-useful magic, etc. — was wearing thin on me. All I wanted was a pure cyberpunk game and I was unaware of Cyberpunk 2020 or ICE's Cyberspace. It felt like everyone was playing 2e AD&D, Shadowrun or Vampire, without much variation.

I finally discovered Cyberpunk 2020 in the mid-2000s. The site that really got me to looking into CP2020 is an old site called Datafortress 2020 by Deric "Wisdom000" Bernier. It is a great resource of CP2020 that helps expand upon the setting, often using anime and images found across the internet.

With Cyberpunk 2020, I found the rules to be... well... Dull. In a nutshell, it was basically "Roll a d10, add relevant attribute, skill and any other adjustment vs a static Target Number." With rules, I want something with more pizazz with the game mechanics, as well as a focus on actual role-playing. On top of that, it also had a "Humanity Cost" for getting fitted with cybernetics, with the ultimate cost being Cyberpsychosis: A mental infliction that turns a character into ether an emotionless introvert who balls-up in the corner and withers away, or a mindless berserker that must murder-fuck EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING!!! I was never a fan of this rule. I see it as a cheap game-balance mechanic to limit the amount of cybernetic a character have at one time. To me, the best limitation to what you can have installed is power and maintenance. That is, some of the more powerful cybernetics would require a lot of power. You might have to use some of the internal areas of a cyber-limb to mount batteries, while a whole cyborg body would require portable motor! Maintenance goes without saying. Its silly to think that you get your right arm replaced and it would stay as good as a natural arm: A cyberarm cannot mend its own cuts and brakes, and you still have to keep it oiled and what have you. If anything, you should be able to mount any number of cosmetic, superficial cyberwear, like any fashionwear, sensory-enchantments, the Mr. Studd™ sexual implant (yes, this is a thing), Skinweave, etc. After all, being able to go "full cyborg" should be an achievement into itself, and not something that is relegated to a murderous corporate attack-dog.

And yet, I still really like it! The game gets "Cyberpunk" right! The chrome, the fashion, the scene, the punk! You can never downplay the fashion or the "punk" enough. Its high-tech lowlife adventure! Cyberpunk took a lot form other fiction and it is better for it. You'll find a lot of great content with it its rulebook and supplements. The art is great. Although, its a shame that is mostly black & white (the cyberpunk future is best viewed in that punk-n-blue neon-back-lit "bisexual lighting"), and a number of the more risqué artwork found in the French language editions was altered or expunged from the English edition, which is a big no-no, as cyberpunk is supposed be erotic. Another great part of CP2020 is that due to people getting disenfranchised by the mega-corporations (aka, the only employers in town), they avoided becoming homeless rats in the urban war-zones by coming free-roving families called the Nomads. Beyond "The Sprawl" of the big cities, fly-over country is an endless landscape of dead farmlands, suburban ruins, old decayed roads, lawless gangs of bloodthirsty raiders, the Nomads trying to survive in the wild countrysides of North America. Basically, Cyberpunk 2020 goes into Mad Max territory.
In this game, you can freely sample classic cyberpunk novels, '80s sci-fi action films, '90s cyberpunk anime, post-apocalyptic biker films, and even the stranger cyberpunk films of the '90s. You can watch Bladerunner, Freejack, and Crime Zone for the urban backdrop, Robocop (1 & 2) for the corporate backdrop and corporate-controlled media, Mad Max (The Road Warrior, Beyond Thunderdome, and any number of their imitators) for the Nomad communities, Liquid Sky (and Patrick Nagel's art, and Jem and the Holograms) for the fashion, '80s punk for the rebel Rockboy scene, Hackers for Netrunner scene, Strange Days for the directive stories, and so much more!

Mind you, I'm still not a fan of the rules, and I will use a system that will strike my fancy. In the past I'd use Dream Pod-9's Silhouette system. Right now, its something more cobbled together from a number of different rule systems. I will ape content from Shadowrun, Cyberspace and any other cyberpunk game I can find. I find the Cyberpunk 2020 setting to be easy and available.

Unsurprisingly, Cyberpunk 2020 is going to see new life with the upcoming video game Cyberpunk 2077 by CD Projekt RED and tabletop RPG Cyberpunk Red by R.Talsorian Games. Here is the tailer for the video game:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Colder Than A...



They are quit hot. 😉 😍


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Battles of the Mechacyberoids

Battles of the Mechacyberoids is a setting that I just came up with. Years ago, at the old (now defunct) Goblinoid Games forum, we were fooling around with the character generation system used in Mini-Six during its beta-testing stage. We were making stats for all sorts of characters, established and original. Among them, I managed to make stats for some of the Gen-1 Transformers, namely Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Bumblebee, Megatron and Starscream. One of the key things with this was the use of scale. In the rules, scale determines size and firepower (and the resistance there of). Bumblebee had the smallest scale in any form, while everyone else were huge in size. Although, the rules did not cover scale in chargen, it was a neat gimmick. After that, I have been thinking about a Transformer-inspired that was different enough to be its own thing. Only until now, did it hit me...

This setting is a cross between super sentai fiction (think Voltron and Power Rangers) and cartoons with giant transformable robots (Transformers; Go-Bots), with some magical girl transformations (Cutie Honey; Sailor Moon). I wanted to make a setting about giant transformable robots, but to do so, without being reliant on human sidekicks — such characters, often teenagers, were used as intermediates between the young viewers, and the strange alien robots. I wanted the action to jump between human-scale and mecha/vehicle-scale without having to change characters. One of the key ideas came from Transformers: Headmasters; a strange take on later Gen-1 Transformers, where alien humans had the idea of turning Cybertronian heads into transformable exo-suits, allowing humans to serve as a supporting brain, while leaving the Cybertronian in alt-mode (vehicle mode) when not together. I just dropped the human partner, and made it so that the giant robot can detach its own head in order to transform into an artificial human. "Mechacyberoids" is a working title, but it is based on the long-winded titles found in a lot of old '70s-'80s giant robot anime.

In this setting, some alien cyborg drones called the Mechacyberoids, who in their natural state, resemble giant robotic bugs, found their way on earth in the late '70s to early '80s. They were on a mission by their master, the dreaded Cybergorgon, to secure an artifact (a blue gowning dodecahedron) that is believed to had fell on earth. While there, they discovered a strange form of life that could threaten the mission. Initially, they though the machines and cities were a living hive collective. Without a means to communicate, first contact was not pretty. They damaged cities, killed bystanders and had a deadly conflict with the US military. To understand the treat better, they took on new forms. Initially, they formed into vehicles and moved aimless round cities and highways. On further examination, it was revealed that smaller beings that called themselves "humanity" were in control. From there on, they separated their own heads form their bodies, and human form...

After years of close contact, the Mechacyberoids began to understand humanity better and became enamored with human idols and culture. They exist in two bodies: a human form; and a telepathically-linked vehicle. Their human body is mechanical, covered by life-like holographic skin. They have the ability to pull out weapons and tools from out of nowhere, and to transform into "soldier mode." The transformation is vary much like Cutie Honey, and when done, they are in a cool outfit, covered in armor plating and assessors (HUD-set, hover-feet, jet packs, bunny-ear antenna, utility belt, etc.). Their vehicular body can change into "battle mode", where weapons and other equipment (wings, ram-plates, grapple arms, etc.) fold out of the body. The transformation is vary much like M.A.S.K. When the threat gets too big, they can transform their vehicle bodies into "robot mode", jump onto the torso to transform their human body into the giant robot's head. Their giant robot bodies resemble the classic Transformers. Their giant robot bodies are build and armed for battle. Unlike Transformers, their vehicle forms are not fixed to one type of vehicle, but change their alt-mode takes time to scan and reconfigure. And also unlike Transformers (which never had any concept of scale), they are bound by their default size.

They can also combine freely, creating "Gestalt" (aka Combiner) forms form nearly all combinations of fully-formed giant robot Mechacyberoids. A Gestalt form increases the size and power by the number of Mechacyberoids formed into it. The only problem is that all the joined Mechacyberoids form a telepathic link, and they all need to be unified in thought and action in order to function. Normally, in the past, Mechacyberoid drones could work freely in this mode in great numbers, but the differing identities that came with human contact, had made this a difficult feat. (This is vary much like Fusion in Steven Universe, but more mechanical.)

These earth-bound Mechacyberoids pass off as normal people, living one human lifestyle or another. Although, unable to start families, they do engage in human relationships. They have no sense of gender or sexuality, but they have embraced such concepts and take on these identities as part of their "human role." They have two names: A "human name" that is part of their human identity; and their "true name" that would sound like a strange nickname to most people, but is the name chosen, and used with each other, that reflect their unique identity or dispossession. For example, a transformable dump truck was named Granite, as "he" is a stubborn oaf who throws his weight around, without an ounce of grace. As a human, his false identity is Arnold James Bolton, a construction worker from Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Despite their attempts as being as human as possible, they tend to exaggerate what is expected of them in their human roles based on what they see in media. For example, a Mechacyberoid living as a normal husbands, might emulate a fictional husband from an old TV sitcom (smoking jacket, penny loafers, and all). A Mechacyberoid who wants to "protect and serve" might join a local police department and act out a fictional TV/movie cop (short fuse, over-sized pistol and all), or dress in a loud outfit and fight crime as a costumed vigilantly (cape, tights and all).

As enamored they are with human ways, they all know that if Cybergorgon finds the earth, he will consume it, turn it into a dead planet. He would also see any free-thinking Mechacyberoid as an abomination that would infect other Mechacyberoids with its corruption, and thus destroy any humanoid Mechacyberoids. And if he gets the artifact, he would become an unstoppable force in the cosmoses. As such, there are four factions with the earth-bound Mechacyberoids: The Guardians; The Renegades; The Rogues; and The Loyalists. (all are working titles)

The Guardians were founded by a noble leader who dreams of a future were humans and Mechacyberoids live together in harmony. Their primary goal is to keep the earth a secret form Cybergorgon, and to keep the artifact from him. They also seek to defend the earth, when Cybergorgon's forces come looking for answers.

The Renegades are ruled be a power-hungry despot, who wants to secure the artifact, in order to defeat Cybergorgon and take his place as the master of the galaxy. Followers are drawn be the more proactive defense against Cybergorgon, and are more willing to sacrifice the earth and its people, if need be. They look down at humans for being weak on all levels. As the Guardians and Renegades cannot see eye-to-eye on most things, they are always at conflict with each other.

The Rogues are, for the most part, self-indulgent hedonists. They do want to keep earth a secret, but they do not want to engage in outright rebellion. They would rather lay low and hope Cybergorgon forgets about them. They have no leader or unified ideals. They mostly operate as gangs. They make up the majority of Mechacyberoids on earth.

The Loyalists want to continue the mission and hopes that Cybergorgon would forgive them for the delay. As they are seen as a threat all other factions, they operate in secret, trying to rebuild the communication network damaged by Guardians and Renegades forces. They have no regard for humans. Thankfully, they are few in number.

Cybergorgon resembles a large spaceship with three mechanical dragon heads, each mounted on a long articulated "Doc Ock" styled neck. Without any human contact, he has not concept of empathy or free agency. As he built this Mechacyberoid as semi-autonomous tools, he expect all his drones to serve him, and sacrifice themselves, if need be, without hesitation.

So far, it is a premise with a lot of room to build upon. I have no idea when I'll make a sourcebook for this, and I want to stock it with some key players and items. As this is new, I'm still coming up with new ideas, and even this basic premise would likely face revision.