Saturday, September 24, 2016

Old School Campaign Deconstruction Using The Prehistoric Western Film With The Valley of Gwangi (1969) & The Beast of Hollow Mountain 1956 Cowboys, Dinosaurs, and Boot Hill

On a lazy Saturday afternoon in Connecticut way back in 1970 something or so, my world exploded in a prehistoric stampede of dinosaur fun when the Valley of Gwangi came on television. Maybe it was the fact that the Dinosaur Western wasn't that well  known or that this film came to define the Dinosaur Western genre in film. But for me in the Seventies & Eighties it came to define a friend's old school campaign world as we shall see.

My ex friend Peter was crazy about the film;"In Mexico at the turn of the 20th century, a cowgirl named T.J. Breckenridge hosts a struggling rodeo. Her former lover, Tuck Kirby, a heroic former stuntman working for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, wants to buy her out. Along the way, he is followed by a Mexican boy named Lope, who intends to join the rodeo on a quest for fame and fortune. T.J. is not interested in Tuck because of this, but Tuck is still attracted to T.J., especially when T.J. jumps off a diving board on her horse. T.J. finally accepts Tuck when he saves Lope from a bull and the two kiss.
T.J. has an ace she hopes will boost attendance at her show - a tiny horse called El Diablo. Tuck meets a British paleontologist named Horace Bromley, who is working in a nearby Mexican desert. Bromley shows Tuck fossilized horse tracks, and Tuck notes their similarity to El Diablo's feet. Tuck sneaks Bromley into the circus for a look at El Diablo, and Bromley declares the horse to be a prehistoric Eohippus.
The tiny horse came from a place known as the Forbidden Valley. A Gypsy known as Tia Zorina claims that the horse is cursed, and demands that it must be immediately returned. Later, she and the other gypsies collaborate with Bromley to steal El Diablo and release it back in the valley. Bromley hopes to follow the horse to its home in search of other prehistoric specimens. Carlos, an ex-member of the Gypsy tribe now working for T.J.'s circus, walks in on the theft and tries to stop it, but is knocked out.
Tuck arrives just as the Gypsy posse leaves. Carlos sees him as he is regaining consciousness. Tuck notices that the horse is missing, and sets off after Bromley. When T.J. and her crew discover Carlos, Carlos claims that Tuck has stolen El Diablo for himself. Carlos, T.J., and the others decide to follow Tuck and Bromley into the valley.
Making their way into the Forbidden Valley, Tuck, T.J., and the rest of the group meet up and soon discover why the valley is said to be cursed when a Pteranodon swoops down and snatches Lope but due to the weight it falls back to the ground. After Carlos kills the Pteranodon by twisting its neck, they spot an Ornithomimus, which they chase after in the hopes of capturing it. Just as it is about to escape, it is killed by Gwangi, a vicious Allosaurus which chases Bromley and the rest of the group. However, a Styracosaurus appears and drives Gwangi away. As Gwangi leaves, he takes the dead Pteranodon with him.
Later, Gwangi pursues the group to their base camp and they try to rope him down, but he breaks free when the Styracosaurus reappears. Gwangi battles and kills the Styracosaurus and later manages to catch and kill Carlos, but is knocked out while trying to exit the valley in pursuit of the rest of the group.
Securing the creature, Tuck and the other men in the group take Gwangi back to town to be put on display in T.J.'s show. On the opening day of the show, the dwarfed Gypsy sneaks in and begins to unlock Gwangi's cage in an effort to free him, only to be killed when Gwangi breaks free. The crowd begins to flee as Gwangi attacks, and Tia Zorina is trampled to death in the chaos. Bromley is crushed by a broken piece of the cage, and Gwangi attacks and kills a circus elephant before rampaging through the town. Tuck, accompanied by T.J. and Lope, tries to hide the crowd in a cathedral, but Gwangi finds them and breaks in. Tuck urges the crowd out through a back exit, leaving Tuck inside with Gwangi, T.J. and Lope.
Gwangi tries to eat them, but Tuck manages to distract him by stabbing him with a flag. Tuck is eventually able to throw a torch onto the floor near Gwangi, setting the building on fire. Tuck and the others manage to escape, trapping Gwangi in the burning building. Roaring in agony, Gwangi dies in the fire. Tuck, T.J., Lope, and the crowd look on to mourn the sacrifice of the burning church."
Yeah its a classic & it was supposed to be done by the effects master Willis O'Brien but he passed shortly before the film could be produce & made. Now I've written extensively of  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World as fodder for an old school campaign but it was also the inspiration for the Valley of Gwangi.
But the Valley of Gwangi wasn't the only film in the Dinosaur Western genre there was a film that proceeded it. The Beast of Hollow Mountain was shown on Saturday afternoons as well as on TNT cable's Monster Vision much later on;"The Beast of Hollow Mountain is a 1956 Weird West movie about an American cowboy living in Mexico who discovers his missing cattle are being preyed upon by an Allosaurus. The Allosaurus would later attack local villagers in a town, and eventually be destroyed by getting lured into some quicksand and drowning.
The first film to show dinosaurs and cowboys in the same picture, it is notable for being based on a story idea by special effects innovator Willis O'Brien. It used a form of stop motion called replacement animation to bring the dinosaur to life. O'Brien co-wrote the script under the pseudonym El Toro Estrella; O'Brien was also to have originally done the special effects for this movie, but this did not happen for reasons unknown."
There are a few great differences here between the two films that an old school Dungeon Master can exploit. The Beast From Hollow was actually my preferred film because we were way back when playing a mix of Gamma World, Boot Hill, & OD&D. The Beast of Hollow mountains has a fully realized setting with prehistoric swamps, dinosaurs, & all of the classic lost world elements. These areas were all a part of an ancient empire belonging to the Serpent men of H.P.Lovecraft & Robert Howard's creation. These lost worlds & prehistoric laboratories were scattered throughout Mexico & Central America. Their degenerate Elven attendants still at the helm even into the apocalyptic era.

This is how we designed it in my old D&D group, many of us too turns Dungeon Mastering and we were in competition with each other to see who was the better DM. This also allowed us to cover lots of ground when it came to DMing. It also meant that we had an extensive prehistoric lost world inner Earth empire to accommodate our megadungeons and prehistoric wilderness point crawls.

All of this can easily be done by using both the Boot Hill rpg & AD&D, Boot Hill gave us some great 19th century fire arms rules along with quick rules for NPC cowboys and farm hands.

By using Mutant Future plus Labyrinth Lord and LoFP's World of the Lost to fill in the prehistoric monsters & the weird lost world elements as necessary. These strange types of Lovecraftian lost world adventure locations could show up anyplace and could be found tucked away across the world. Time warps, space gates and more means could be the perfect venue to bring in PC's as needed.

There are lots of possibilities for mocking up and using this sort of a lost world campaign, the hidden legends, weird mythologies, and even the possibilities of sneaking in some Lovecraftian horrors into the old school adventure mix. As a point crawl this sort of a campaign style can't be beat with the mix of classic old school TSR era elements to form a structured and stable campaign that could be enjoyed for years to come.
Cheers & remember to keep those dice rolling!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Four Free OSR Monster Books For Your Old School Campaigns

Old School dungeon masters can't have enough monsters & sometimes you've got to dust off some old favorites to throw a scare or two into the players.  Last night I was pursuing through the Planet Algol blog & dusting off some old ideas for my inner Earth campaign. Keeping to the gonzo pulp aesthetic of the campaign has taken me down a short path of memory lane to a few years ago. The first thing I noticed were two monster books that had escaped my notice for a long while. The first one was Varlet's & Vermin from the Roles,Rules, and Rolls blog;"It's a collection of monsters and related ideas for challenge levels 1 and 2, written for Swords & Wizardry but easily adaptable to other systems." I had forgotten how good some of these fiends were. I also really like the Man of Wounds, and the rat variants are very nicely done.


The second monster book is Telecanter's Deadly Distractions from Telecanter's Receding Rules blog and these are perfect beasties to challenge as well as dismay your party of adventurers. These are low level creatures with a twist or two. They're very well done and quite weird fitting in a number of criteria that I've had.
Download Telecanter's Deadly Distractions
Finally there's The Basic Fantasy Field Guide of Creatures Malevolent and Benign which has a ton of monsters that are usable with a number of retroclones with minor adjustments. Did I mention that their free and you should also check out some of the other free downloads while your there on the Basic Fantasy website as well.

The Basic Fantasy Field Guide of Creatures Malevolent and Benign Here
 There are two free nearly forgotten tomes of monsters from Dragon's foot. org Monstrous Tome - Volume One which contains new dragons , demons, monsters and all original content for AD&D first edition.  Be careful with these monsters some of these creatures have the potential for an old school party wipe of adventurers. GRAB Monstrous Tome -

Then there's the second volume of The Monstrous Tome which adds a whole other layer of weirdness & nastiness to the monsters in your dungeon. The second volume of the Monstrous Tome seems to focus on monsters of the planes, some deadly dungeon deviants, and more horrors to throw into old school campaigns.


Monstrous Tome 2 - Book of Beings HERE

There's a good mix of old school style original creatures to populate your dungeons, megadungeons, and campaigns. Then of course there are the various creations of Ancient Vaults whose Senufio: Lords of Misrule  are going to get a workout as the heads of some of the heads of cults of Chaos that the party will be encountering.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Inhumanoids 1986 Kids Cartoon As A Quick Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaign Jump Start

So what happens when you take the over excess of the Eighties add in power armor & over the top gigantic pre historic  monsters? You get the Inhumanoids cartoon an inner Earth weirdness fest that was air along side Jem and the Holograms back in '86. Even back then these things were gonzo bat crap craziness all of it owned by Hasbro;"Inhumanoids is an animated series and Hasbro toy property in 1986. In the tradition of other Hasbro properties such as Transformers and G.I. Joe, the show was produced by Sunbow and Marvel Productions and animated in Japan by Toei Animation. Inhumanoids tells the story of the scientist-hero group, Earth Corps, as they battle a trio of subterranean monsters called the Inhumanoids with the aid of elemental beings, the Mutores."

As you can read the whole wiki entry here about the series  and its pretty detailed but then there's this gentleman's video which goes into some pretty good detail about most of the plot points, cast, and lots of The Inhumanoid's weirdness.

There is so much to mine here that I can't do this Eighties gonzo giant monster  show justice. Inhumanoids was packed to the brim with so much goodness that in sixty five episodes there was lot of epic ground to cover. The plot of the Evil That Lies Within movie goes something like this;"The story begins with the discovery of a monstrous creature encased in an amber monolith buried in Big Sur national park, which is recovered by the government-funded Earth Corps, a geological sciences research team. The finding spurs corrupt industrialist Blackthorne Shore to clandestinely uncover a second monster buried elsewhere — a giant vine-like creature called Tendril, who attacks the amber block's public unveiling in San Francisco to release the macabre colossus trapped within, D'Compose. They rampage through city streets before fleeing into the watery darkness of the bay.
Earth Corps member Liquidator returns to Big Sur in search of further clues to the origin of these monsters, whereupon he discovers a race of sentient trees, the Redwoods, who explain that they are members of a subterranean population known as Mutores, and that their kind sealed the evil Inhumanoids Tendril and D'Compose beneath the Earth ages ago. The malevolent Inhumanoid leader, Metlar, remains imprisoned below the surface, paralyzed by the magnetic field of a Mutore duo named Magnokor.
A nocturnal assault by Tendril demolishes the Earth Corps base, prompting a chase into the depths of the Earth, but even with the help of another Mutore species, the rock-bodied Granites, they are forced to retreat back to the surface. When their budget is summarily cut by Senator Masterson — a crooked politician in Blackthorne Shore's shady pocket — they are approached by Sandra Shore, Blackthorne's sister, who has learned of her brother's sinister plot to liberate Metlar. Funded by Sandra, the team constructs new vehicles and embarks back below the Earth's surface, tracking D'Compose and Tendril to the city of the Granites, where an ensuing battle frees Metlar from Magnokor's hold. Having pilfered Earth Corps' engineering schematics via his ties to Masterson, Blackthorne joins the fray, now equipped with his own battle-suit whose magnetic powers he wields against Metlar, only to be derailed by Tendril's interference while Sandra falls victim to the mutative touch of D'Compose.
Earth Corps manages to escape and forms an alliance with the Granites. Herc accompanies them to D'Compose's domain of Skellweb while Auger and Liquidator venture into Metlar's kingdom of Infernac, and Bright convinces the Redwoods to help defend the surface world against attempts by the Inhumanoids to acquire sources of power. Herc and the Granites are able to defeat D'Compose's reanimated soldiers and restore Sandra to normal. Blackthorne pursues Auger and Liquidator to Infernac and tries to use his magnetic powers on Metlar once again but is foiled by Magnokor and taken captive by Metlar.
Acting on information forced from Blackthorne, the Inhumanoids raid a Soviet air base, stealing a handful of nuclear missiles. A seemingly repentant Blackthorne warns Earth Corps that the missiles are intended to shatter the divide between the Earth's crust and mantle, but upon travelling into the Earth to preclude this catastrophe, the team discovers that Blackthorne has set them up and that the missiles are actually meant to detonate the planet's core. Earth Corps is able to convince D'Compose to allow them access to Infernac — a deal made easier by the fact that the Inhumanoid already fears for his own survival in the face of Metlar's insane plan — and they manage to defuse enough of the missiles to thwart the explosive scheme.
Following a climactic battle, D'Compose is re-sealed in amber casing and Tendril is imprisoned by the Granites. Finally, Magnokor succeeds in neutralizing Metlar even as Blackthorne is arrested by Earth Corps. Senator Masterson provides the Earth Corps team with a new headquarters facility, but a tissue sample secured from Tendril during their first encounter with the monster has mysteriously gone missing...:" To this day this show still has some of the most devoted fans outside of Transformers I've ever encountered. What is there for the old school dungeon master to mine & borrow? Lots and lots of stuff as we're about to get into.

Now here's where I head South from the fiery depths of the Earth folks, Inhumanoids is the Eighties version of an adventure opera. This is seriously one show with so much ground to borrow from it isn't even funny. You've got scientists in power armor running around facing some of the weirdest monsters to burst forth from the depths of the Earth. Let's start with the fact that if you want to get into gonzo epic weirdness this is a show to emulate in spades. Inhumanoids is the perfect adventure cartoon to use as a template or plan to use for an old school gonzo game. And when it hit in Eighty Six we grabbed our copy of second edition Gamma World (no we didn't fall for that third edition Action Control Table stuff) & set an Inhumanoids style giant monster game right up after school during the Shadow Years! But when it comes to using a power armor party going against giant monsters I can only think of the Mutant Crawl Classics game being able to sort of handle a funnel style with an Inhumanoids giant monster bent. Did that after school game back in sixth grade make a whole lot of sense? Give me a break we were kids. But the sheer scale of the game was really one of the fun parts.

While Mutant Crawl Classics isn't out yet I can also see using the Crawling Under A Broken Moon fanzine for my own Eighties power armored VS giant monster fueled fun. Given the fact that the collected fanzine has all of the elements a DM would need for giant monster bashing fun. Yeah this style of campaign is a perfect marriage of gonzo retroclone weirdness. But there's a lot more going on below the surface here in Inhumanoids.

There was one thing that made Inhumanoids such a hit with the kids back in Eighty six & that was the sheer variety of monsters and races in the cartoon. There was an internal consistency to the background,history, plot points, and internal mythology of the cartoon. Yes it was completely over the top Eighties cartoon crazy but it was so in an internal universe way. This was something really important that as a DM I learned from Inhumanoids, the idea of world building with an internal setting with layers of back history, etc. that the players uncover the deeper into the adventures they go. Marvel had a Sunbow crossover series of comics and it kept this aspect of the show but it came out in '87 and was canceled. "Marvel Comics produced a short-lived Inhumanoids comic book under its Star Comics imprint in 1987, adapting the storyline of "The Evil That Lies Within". The series ended after only 4 issues and left readers with the cliffhanger of Metlar's escape from captivity and Sandra Shore's transformation into an undead minion of D'Compose." Boo, hiss.
Could the giant monster vs power armor work for other retroclone systems or post apocalyptic  games? Short answer yes on a number of levels. The Inhumanoid's inner Earth ecology is very applicable to a point crawl game with lots of potential for underworld mutant monster races & forgotten adventure locations. I used this idea as a part of my Warlords of the Outer Worlds game recently.

A  couple of years ago an ex friend of mine DMed a Lamentations of the Flame Princess/ Mutant Future crossover game which used giant mutant god monsters straight out of after school Eighties goodness. This far more generic game used a group of scientists who are transported lock, stock, and university onto an alien planet ala Carcosa and they had to fight giant god things to survive. The play sessions were interesting, challenging, and very well done. And that same formula also had a brother/sister rivalry of patrons as well but that's where things went in very different directions then Inhumanoids as the sister was killed as a sacrifice for one of the god things. The brother ended up as the patron of the party of adventurers after suddenly seeing the light. The whole thing  works well with games such as Mutant Future or Gamma World 1st & second edition where the technology of inner Earth travel was implied and was never used. Now adventure locations with Shadow Years flavor are easily within reach of PC's.

So why use this style of game campaign? Because its Eighties gonzo epic adventure opera at its best. The stakes are ridiculously high, the weirdness is up to Eleven, and its got giant mutant monsters to boot! I've had several of the Earth Core pop up from time to time as high level retired adventurers in various campaigns making NPC cameos. Even after all of these years there are still thousands of devoted Inhumanoid fans out there (myself being one of them). The basis for the cartoon series could be used for an epic gonzo campaign of incredible old school proportions. The series is out on Blu ray and DVD so its easily accessed for someone with the time to grab it. I love to see a big screen revamp of it, given the fact that so many Eighties cartoon properties are being given new life. This is one to take a look at. Obviously I'm not trying to violate the trademark or copyright of Inhumanoids and this blog entry is for educational & entertainment purposes only. None of the table top rpg's mentioned in this article are responsible for its content its all down to me and my warped DM's mind and opinions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Reading Through Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #3: Villains of the Undercity By Mark Taormino For Your Old School Campaigns

"Danger lurks at every corner of the small coastal city of Las Farporte. The locals insist people are being abducted in the night and taken into into the bowels of the rumored "Undercity Dungeon" below. A lone survivor managed to escape and give some information before dying in your arms: “Secret door... Tavern of the Wiley Wench... The password is... the password is... Ugh!” You and your brave team of adventurers have decided to investigate these rumors, plunder the dungeon and destroy the dreaded "Villains of the Undercity!" Oh but first loot the body, of course. He won't mind... he's dead." This is the set up for Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #3: Villains of the Undercity By Mark Taormino & its a viciously funny SOB of an adventure. Mark sent me a review copy and I've got to say its even more impressive then it was as a PDF. The paper is crisp, the images good, and the text is clear for these old eyes. The module is very well done & up to mark's usual standards of excellence in old school adventure fun.

"This module is designed for character levels 1-3 and can be played with the OSRIC(tm) system or easily adapted to AD&D, D&D 1e to 5e, Pathfinder, D20 System, Labyrinth Lord, BFRPG, Swords & Wizardry, Warrior & Wizards, etc or any fantasy role playing system you may want to use it with under the Open Gaming License v1.0a! The module will have a mix of hack & slash and interesting puzzles, traps and characters. I need your help to actually finish it and turn it into a real game book for you and your players to enjoy. It can easily be adapted to most campaign settings as well. If you like this module, look for future ones soon (I have about 10 more planned so far and will make more after that)." 
This looks like so much fun to unleash on my party of fools erm adventurers & he really delivered the goods with this one. The artwork is well done and the layout is top notch and possibly one of the better products I've seen come out of kickstarter besides some Venger Satanis's old school ventures, all of the usual tropes including the detachable map are here.

There are tons of potential with this module & with a bit of modification this module could be made to work any number of retroclones or neo clones including Dungeon Crawl Classics which would fit this one to a tee because it delivers on ; "irreverent characters, diabolical villains, over-the-top monster encounters, outrageous magic, mischievous NPCs, traps, puzzles, and more blood and gore." Here the set up for campaign and urban play is built right into the module with old school nods and Easter Eggs scattered throughout the module.

Take the idea here that the Caves of Chaos have been cleaned out, & the Keep on the Borderlands had been destroyed. A certain group of Slave Lords moved in & a city has been built over the remains of these dungeons of the past. The break down for this module goes something like this:
- 36 page module
- 3 blue dungeon maps (two dungeon levels and one tavern map)
- 8 Pre-Generated Characters

This whole package screams beer & pretzels module with friends over AD&D 1st edition or your favorite retro clone system. The balance here between Maximum Mayhem Dungeons humor, the nastiness of the adventure and the old school weirdness is tight as well as well done. The adventure moves you right into the cross hairs with an attention to plot of adventure that drags the party into the deep end of things right away.

Let's not even get into good old Wendell and his issues being one of the main forces of nastiness in Villains of the Undercity because he's not someone to trifle with at all. He's got a chip on his shoulder & he's going to be taking it out on your PC's!

There is enough details on the campaign setting of  the small coastal city of Los Farport that I can see porting this location over into either DCC or a similar retroclone system or even as a post apocalyptic location especially given The Secret Machines of the Star Spawn adventure or The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen 

Given the location details of Los Farport these modules could be placed back to back to form a great whole cloth setting. I sure as hell enjoyed reading the module last night and it works on a lot of levels & personally I can't wait to see what's next in the Maximum Mayhem Dungeons bag of tricks!
I give  Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #3: Villains of the Undercity By Mark Taormino  a five out of five for style, substance, and old school weirdness!


Straight Down, Morlocks, A New Machine,Undead Dwarves & A Random Minor Artifacts Table - Warlords Of The Outer World Actual Play Recap

Let's see last night the party wasn't quite happy with the fact that the NPC mutant pilot was stone cold drunk or the fact that his Morlock co pilot left him in the tavern at the fort. Words were exchanged & the party was able to secure their passage on a mega ship but they had no machine to begin their journey into the Earth?!?

Well the party were having it out with the National Traders Inc/ Guild representative, another member of their party hadn't been seen in almost seven days game time. He was overseeing a project of epic proportions as one of the adventurers was trying to get an android repaired that they had picked up last game. Finally the party followed the line of NPC hirelings, savants, wasteland scientists, etc. to an old Russian aircraft hanger. Inside a tremendous model of  Cyclotram has been build for months while all of the adventurers were off on their various adventures. Forrest's adventurer had been putting away treasure, selling it, squirreling away every penny to have this thing revamped & rebuilt with  Atlantean technology.

Now it was ready loaded up on trucks & after a bit of exposition along with their bill of passage from NTI the party is dropped onto "Mount Neleh" in the Aleutian Island chain off Alaska. Then its straight down into the Earth as the atomic pile kicks in. The reactor runs on "concentrated sub-atomic by-products"  After seven hours the party comes across a series of caverns with gems, gold, and other rich minerals as well as a ruined city. That's where the party ran into a whole bunch of Morlocks.

After grabbing a few handfuls of material it was back into the tunneling machine & the party pressed downward again. A few hours later they came across a ruined Dwarven citadel & city and here's where things got really hairy. The citadel was locked up, the fossilized wood doors sealed with iron spikes. The party blasted the doors and out poured a horde of ghoul Dwarfs hungering for the flesh of the adventurers. Some outside force was directing these foul undead and even with the party's Gothi & they're Fae wizard's protection from evil the

Cyclotram weapon systems were the only thing stopping the horde of foul undead. The last of the monsters burned themselves out on the electrical field of the tunneler.

Undead Dwarven warrior from here

But now whom is directing these horrors from the citadel & what secrets does he hold after almost possessing our party's psychic? Well find out in one week as our inner Earth adventure continues next week.
So for last night's game for an OSR rules set I used a combination of Mutant Future, Realms of Crawling Chaos, Labyrinth Lord Advanced, & a good chunk of Fantastic Heroes and Witchery with a sprinkling of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea not to mention Lamentations of the Flame Princess's Carcosa.

There are a few minor artifacts coming in the campaign as the party makes its way into the Inner Earth.

1d4 Minor Artifacts of the Ancients
  1.   The Crown of Hiz - This crown of the ancients has been imbued with the ability to heal any wound of the one who wares it. The crown itself has been bathed in the blood of a unicorn and has the spirit of the animal attached to it. It allows one to teleport three times per day and can destroy minor undead with a wave of the user's hand twice a day. It can also turn a major undead as if the owner was a seventh level cleric. The crown has been lost for centuries. 
  2. The Gauntlet's of  Cru's ruo - These gauntlet's once belonged to one of the first mutant overlords before the coming of the apocalypse. They are seen as symbols of authority among certain tribes and allow a mutant to 'borrow' the powers of any other mutant within a 20 foot radius of the owner six times per day. The gauntlet's also act as a rod of command to any mutant being within line of sight of the owner. The carry a psychic signature that enrages pure strain humans who are with the owner after 1d6 days. 
  3. The Master Key - This key is to a vault of The Ancients that holds many fantastic treasures, the key will grow warm in the owner's hand. The key is also a symbol of power any low level Lovecraftian horrors may not approach the owner within 10 feet. Why is one of the mysteries of this object. Humanity holds the key in an almost religious context. 
  4. The Stone of Gr'e & Chaos - This fist sized piece of psi crystal beats like a heart with the power and insanity of the Old Ones. It allows one to change & twist their bodies in the service of the Lovecraftian gods by gaining 1d8 mutations. It is seen as a symbol of the Mythos gods among certain mutant cults in the wastelands.

Unless otherwise noted these treasures and relics were lost during the apocalypse and haven't been seen now in centuries.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

'Express Elevator Ride To Hell' A Warlord of The Outer World Actual Play Event Plus 1d20 Inner World Random Hazardous Encounters Table

The PC's are going into an NTI drilling machine & heading straight down into a rescauce mission for another group of players. This is going to prove to be a very interesting adventure as the PC's have already butted heads with the 'Guild'. A group of wasteland post apocalyptic traders & secessionists from NTI who have been offing adventurers & collecting their relics, gear, etc. to sell to the next suckers erm adventurers. Now NTI has lost some of its own in a recover expedition gone wrong off plane. So now its down into the depths of the post apocalpytic Earth to the remains of an Atlantian gate station to cross into another world.

But is  National Traders Inc. telling the PC's the truth about the last party? Can the players trust their 'Guild' contact or is this the set up for something far more diabolical? What is NTI's interest in the inner world & what secrets does the inner recesses of the post apocalyptic world hold?

Here are some of the inner world random hazards the PC's will be facing in tonight's Fantastic Heroes & Witchery game.

1d20 Inner World Hazardous  Random Encounters
  1. A cavern of violet fungus some 200 feet long with the congealed remains of hundreds of skeletons strewn throughout. 
  2. Hordes of fungus encrusted skeleton warriors armed with all kinds of swords & shields attack! They hunger for the flesh & vitality of the living. 
  3. Mutant Morlock raiders 4th level fighters armed with machine guns and spare ammo 
  4. Goblin flesh ripper mutants, mutated goblins with acid dripping fangs & claws. 
  5. Giant slugs after fresh flesh 
  6. A group of deep Dwarven pilgrims on their way to a shrine of the Under Goddess 
  7. 1d10 mutant human deep dwellers armed with ray guns who want sacrifices for their Earth demon patron. 
  8. A black wizard of 6th level whose looking for some spare experimental subjects 
  9. Giant under dweller spider creature looking for prey with flesh dissolving poison. 
  10. Giant mutant  bats looking for prey, what out the floor crawls with 1d6 giant insects and flesh eating roaches. 
  11. Crazed adventurer completely lost! Keeps babbling about some ruins that are far away from your position. He's dying of radiation poisoning & could be a hazard. 
  12. 1d8 ancient dead zombies in archaic armor hunger for your flesh. 
  13. Blind & weird Atlantean wizard of 7th level is on a mission but willing to pick up some stray victims for later. 
  14. 1d4 giant pill bugs on a feeding run who will bite for 1d3 points of damage. 
  15. Mutant humanoid dweller who wants nothing to do with you and begins hurling insults down the tunnels. 
  16. Poison gas ! 
  17. Deep dwelling elves on a mission to the underworld, they are 5th level fighters and armed with light cross bows with poison. 
  18. Giant mutant reptile slug snake scavenger prowling for anything it can eat. Very dangerous and really nasty. 
  19. Blind and idiot modern man whose been mutated into  a dark dwelling mutant horror 
  20. A giant flesh dissolving protoplasmic horror that seeps and covers one to two acres of cavern floor space. The thing is very hungry & dangerous!

Monday, September 19, 2016

1d6 Random Flesh of The Gods Encounter Table For Your Old School Campaigns

In the wastelands where the lesser gods have done battle & retreated down into the depths of the Earth to await the time when the stars are right again. The still living flesh of some of their victims still lives & bleeds on the battle fields of ancient forgotten places under the undying sun. This divine toxic waste of undecaying flesh births monsters & is highly prized by black wizards & mad scientists. The ground seeps in the blood of the gods and chaos reigns around the landscape when these horrors fall from the skies.

There are rumors of black markets where the flesh of the lesser gods fetches a hefty price of over three thousand gold pieces a pound & only the energy tools of the long lost serpent men or the atomic knives of  K'n-yan.can cut this super dense still living tissue of the gods. This material is perfect for summoning demons from the Outer Darkness. Anyone consuming this stuff is going to have to make a save vs poison or explode in shower of weird mutational horror as their tissue courses with the other worldly energies of the gods.  Monsters & other living terrors are birthed from it every 1d8 days & strange radiations dance around the flesh every 1d20 hours.
1d6 Random Flesh of The Gods Encounter Table

  1. 1d6 calf sized purple worms churn in the ground under the flesh as the sky cracks with weird & deadly radiations of a sinister nature. Anyone coming near the clouds of strange swamp like gas must make a save vs poison check or suffer a deadly coughing fit plus a mutation check as they throw up 1d4 rot grubs every hour. 
  2. 1d20 giant mosquitoes hatch from the strange smelling blood liquid that puddles around the quivering mass of flesh. These horrors will swarm around any human or near human present and try to suck them dry. These horrors buzzing almost sounds like the mad laughter of a crazy man. 
  3. 1d6 trolls are being birthed from the interior flesh like tumors on the ground. These horrors love to hunt and kill humans for sport and food. They're very deadly and they're armed with bone knives taken from past victims. 
  4. There are 1d6 zombie dinosaurs animated by the energies of the flesh, the horrors fight to defend themselves and node of animating energy. Plus they're also pulsing with a frightening corruption borne of the flesh of the gods. 
  5. 1d8 macro cellar organisms have been birthed onto this plane from the weird god flesh. They will attack and kill anyone who comes across they're path and their so hungry. 
  6. 1d20 imps from the Abyss have been birthed from the corrupted flesh of the gods. These horrors love to murder anyone they come across. The nice thing is the fact that they're being born into the world by some dark impulse and instinct within the flesh itself.
The flesh of the gods will turn any ordinary or prehistoric animal into a killer with the instincts of a psychopath on the loose. These monsters will go out of their way to track and kill PC's with an unerring sense of violence & depravity.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Commentary & Old School Lost World Campaign Impact With Marvel Comics Skull The Slayer

An adventurer out of time caught up in weird prehistoric hi jinks in the Bermuda Triangle? Sounds like the latest film from Hollywood? Nope this is a flash from the past from 1975 by some Marvel legends.

I'm trying to remember that exact moment when I remember seeing the first issue of Skull the Slayer from Marvel? I believe it was in Maxwell's drug store in 1975, but I can tell you who was with me. It was my dad Tom Fabiaschi & perhaps I don't mention my dad enough on this blog. My dad is responsible for a lot of the other half of my interest in my hobby. It was his box of Edgar Rice Burroughs books that I inherited, his keen interest in science fiction, the friendship with his best friend whom was in the RAF who brought me to this hobby(obsession), & his twenty five cents that bought this comic book. To understand the impact that Skull The Slayer had on me as a kid is to understand part of the catharsis that is this blog. You see I grew up with a ton of James Skullies in Torrington, Ct. Guys who came back from a war that never left them.Vietnam was a war that left its cuts, scars, and horrors on everyone who was involved. The plane that skull goes down in was actually a military transport to his own execution after killing his own brother in the series. This is really heavy stuff for a Marvel comic but back in the 70's Marvel wasn't pulling any punches.

The Wiki entry on this hero doesn't really get into the gonzo prehistoric aesthetic of Skull; "Skull the Slayer is a trained soldier turned superhero who wears a Scorpion power belt that enhances his strength and durability. The belt also has preservative effects on his body's metabolism. On one occasion, Scully was able to funnel energy into explosive force.[volume & issue needed] The full capabilities of the belt are unknown." Now I get all nostalgic about the series because when I was a kid, this comic was one of the things that my dad used to read to me to send me off to sleep. The thing I loved about Skull The Slayer was the fact that he was an 'every man'. For me he might have any of the dozen or so guys I grew up with who came back from a war they didn't want to remember or understand. But what really sent it over the edge for the eight issues of its existence was that it had a bit of everything that made the Seventies so great to grow up in. The Bermuda Triangle, aliens, cave men, lost worlds, dinosaurs, alien tech, over the top super heroes, & more. Skull had everything a kid needed to move through that ever weird and dark era we grew up in. Created by Marv Wolfman (Writer) & Steve Gan (Artist). The book only lasted about eight glorious issues but its like a  game of Dungeon Crawl Classics or something that would be birthed from the mind of  one of the OSR writers or addicts.

My history with the character begins & ends with the eight issues of his own series in 1975 and for the longest time I had & treasured those issues;"
Skull the Slayer is a trained soldier turned superhero who wears a Scorpion power belt that enhances his strength and durability. The belt also has preservative effects on his body's metabolism. On one occasion, Scully was able to funnel energy into explosive force.[volume & issue needed] The full capabilities of the belt are unknown.
Jim Scully was an adventurer whose plane went through a time warp in the Bermuda Triangle, marooning him and three companions in an alternate Earth where dinosaurs, primitives, and aliens co-existed. Scully and his three companions were eventually rescued and returned to their own world by the Thing of the Fantastic Four.[1]" 
All of this relates back to the fact that given the time of publication and its direct impact on all things gaming in the 70's that we'd see some influence in the big lost world D&D adventure Isle of Dread from Skull the Slayer. All of the major weirdness from the series can easily be filtered into taking the Isle of Dread into a Skull style direction.
 From the weird prehistoric fauna to the various cavemen, inhuman tribes, to the strange Lovecraftian menace of the kopru fit all of the weirdness that we've seen in the Skull the Slayer series. Many of the clever & dangerous pulp elements of Skull the Slayer can easily be transported over to the Isle of Dread this includes the 'Tower of Time', the various tribes from Skull, perhaps even the aliens, & the various dinosaurs.

There are at least three elements from Skull's series I would add to the Isle of Dread module without blinking my DM's eye. The time warp effects of the setting of Skull's Island to the Isle of Dread, two the alien elements of Skull the Slayer, & three the black wizard from Skull's series.


  Another tactic that I've recently seen used in a more contemporary OSR resource was to have Skull's island be a part of the same chain as Venger Satanis's Islands of Purple Haunted Putrescence which could be back hooked into his latest Kicksarter adventure 
Slaves of Tsathoggua which has a dark science fantasy bent. Would it be a perfect fit? I don't know the kickstarterter for these adventures is on going & I actively encourage its support. But back to Skull The Slayer.

 Skull the Slayer has appeared in a few of my games as an NPC adventurer that players have helped & had to deal with. He's savy, obscure, dangerous, and just weird enough to be very memorable for an old school  campaign. He's a seventh level adventurer by the time the limited series ends and he's already had some experience with super heroes, other adventurers, and alien wizards by the time the comic series ended.  Now if you want to check out the first issue plus some of the other great pulp elements from the other issues, The Diversions of The Groovy Kind blog has a great retrospective of it up.

For those of us budget conscious folks, Marvel has released the complete series of Skull the Slayer into a collected trade & its easily available from Amazon.
So until next time keep those dice rolling.

Monsters, Campaign Choices, & Lovecraftian Flavors For Old School Campaign Set Up

I shut down my computer last night & rewatched the Dragonslayer movie(1981) & it was great. Wonderful cast, excellent special effects from 1981, fantastic locations, tons  of atmosphere, and none of what I was looking for. Everything  in the film is far too developed to make an effective science fantasy campaign; this film's world is a gritty low fantasy affair.
I started going back through 'Holmes D&D', reading through ''Labyrinth Lord', the 'AD&D 1st Edition Monster Manual', the 'D&D Rules Encyclopedia', 'Adventurer, Conqueror, & King', & finally 'Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.' What struck me was the fact I wasn't looking for simply a monster but a symbol. A symbol for an older order of chaos and depravity. Because of the very pulpy nature of the inner Earth campaign that I was running I needed something rather nasty & unexpectedly dangerous. Dragons may appear but their going to more of the dinosaur or saurian worm variety. 

What I was looking for was something that I already had and had used in the past. The Hydra was a perfect murder weapon & symbol of chaos in my past games. So why not use it now?! There is also the fact that older players in my games have never experienced the terror & horror of one of these monsters of the older editions. There is also a clear link between hydras & giants in OD&D as well as Edgar Rice Burroughs who used giants a number of times in his pulp novels.  Time & again I've used the hydra to be the left overs of HP Lovecraft & Howard's serpent men. Living toxic waste monsters & weapons left behind in a bygone age. Something for PC's to stumble upon & see them for what they are a product of a bygone age.

There have been various run ins over the years with troglodytes in red lit Yoth beneath K'n-yan. The troglodytes were once the cannon fodder for their more advanced serpent men masters who could be directed & used in the whole sale slaughters of their enemies. Now only the degenerate colonies of their servants remain on some swamp like fetid worlds & the various red lit caverns where they once tread.

Giants are often the telepathic pawns in the small scale wars that break out between the human hybrid serpent people & the Elder Things who still have alien colonies down below. Medusa continue to act as independent agents for Yig in the darkness spreading the ancient faith along with his dark goddess's corruption among the various peoples down blow in Pellucidar. Even while the Mahars continue their horrid practices in the lost corners of the world paying lip service to their ancient masters. The knowledge they wrought from Ubbo-Sathla they still use to this day. Necromancers from K'n-yan continue their horrors under the gaze of the unceasing sun.

The prehistoric fauna & flora of the campaign are going to demand a far more gonzo pulpy aesthetic for this campaign. I'm going to continue to draw on all of the popular inner Earth material from popular culture including UFO lore, The Lovecraft circle of writers, public domain material, and lots of rubber suited weirdness that at the moment is simmering in my imagination.So I'm going more for the gonzo strangeness of the 1976 At the Earth's Core feel here.