The new and improved defender of RPGs!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Cults of Chaos Featured in Knights of The Dinner Table!

So the latest issue of Knights of The Dinner Table is out, and it features a review, a very positive review, of Cults of Chaos!

The review is by J. L. Duncan, who's done quite a few reviews for KoDT, and he has lots of great things to say about Cults. Obviously, you'll have to pick up KoDT to get the full review, but I'll give you a preview: he says that "As a product it’s not only a Game Master’s toolkit, but probably the best system neutral plot-kit device I’ve read."

So there we are, Cults of Chaos keeps racking up praise!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti half-volcano + C&D's Bailey's Front Porch

Saturday, 3 December 2016 Saturday: Science vs. Mysticism Edition

Modern science is looking more and more like what the (serious, not deepak-chopra-style) Eastern Mystics have been saying for literally 3000 years now. 

 Has science got something to learn from mystics who, even without the scientific method, figured out some of the details about the nature of reality that they themselves are now only starting to guess at?

Check out the details in my article, Has Science Just Become Taoism Now

And as always, if you like it, please share!


Currently Smoking: Dunhill Amber Root Bulldog + C&D's Crowley's Best 

Friday, 2 December 2016

What I'm Considering Working On: An Even MORE "Medieval Authentic" OSR Book

In Dark Albion, I tried to make magic-users (and to a certain extent, clerics) more "medieval authentic" in the style of how magic worked in the Albion setting. I introduced the rules for demon summoning, which work completely separately from the vancian part of the magic system, toned down the spell selection to get rid of stuff that would be too flashy, and tried to frame stuff on item-creation of D&D-style magic items and spell-research to fit the setting.

But lately I've been toying with the idea of trying to remake both Clerics and Magisters (Magic-users) to fit the medieval authentic mode even more accurately. This would involve scrapping the Vancian magic and spell system entirely, giving clerics a limited selection of miraculous gifts, and magic-users a set of skills and magical talents as well as knowledge of summoning. 

Some of these magical techniques would be potentially quite powerful, but mostly would require either more time or more preparation beforehand, rather than the vancian system where magisters can cast a spell in a single round so long as they've just memorized it.

All of it would be based on the type of things medieval/renaissance magicians actually studied and were believed to be able to do.

Is this something that people would have an interest in?


Currently Smoking: Dunhill Diplomat + C&D's Crowley's Best 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Classic Rant: "Leaders" and the Real Social Dynamics of Gaming Groups

Hello, faithful readers. Over on theRPGsite, we had a thread where someone posted a subject too interesting to pass up.

Here's the relevant section of the original post, talking about whether there should be 'leaders' in a player group:

"Few months ago I bumped into a forum discussion by game designers where they were wracking their little brains on ways to prevent the dread occurrence of the group having a leader.

As far as they were concerned having a group leader was apparently akin to having a group rapist or something. The players should not be stifled and railroaded by these vile commanders of their fate. So they were coming up with game rules to prevent anyone from becoming the leader. Didnt matter if it was a board game or RPG.

So I've seen that before too. Its a common mentality among fashionable game designers and other various Swine alike.

See, the problem is that these are people who've gotten a little bit of mostly shitty modern education, and have been taught by Gramscian socialist college professors that "authority inherently implies illegitimacy". In other words that we have to at all times implement social rules that DISCOURAGE rather than encourage people from becoming leaders or standing out. That what you want is to try to gradually weed out of humanity any tendency toward individual achievement, much less the notion of one person being better than others at things, because then they might get it into their head that they're better in general as people!

So like good little drones following their programming from poli-sci or phil or soc or comp-lit 101, they're trying to apply this notion that "leaders are bad" to all levels of society, right down to gaming tables and other meaningless venues of social activity (because the change must be gradual but profound to all levels of western civilization so that its collapse can be assured; because of course western civilization is the ultimate illegitimate authority!).

The fact is that Reality is the exact opposite of what they're pushing (that's always been socialism's single biggest problem)! Human beings tend, at all time, to want leadership. And when they haven't been brainwashed into handing over said leadership to the Central Committee (and even then!), what they want is to figure out the natural hierarchy: there's someone who's an alpha, there are betas (seconds-in-command), there's a whole shitload of 'gammas' (people just along for the ride) and there's an omega (the one at the bottom, the one that makes everyone else know they're not at the bottom).

In my old blog I wrote a whole series of entries about this, about the qualities of the Alpha gamer, the Beta gamer, and the Omega gamer; the conclusion I came to is that the GM had damn well better be the Alpha of the group, and this is the most important. Second most important is that there needs to be an Omega, believe it or not. A group where there's one person who (usually unbeknownst to himself) is kind of the loser of the group, the one the rest of the group can either have a chuckle at his antics or complain about his goof-ups, is in my long experience a more stable and healthy long-term group than one where there isn't someone like that.

Thirdly, the group needs one or more Betas: someone who is competent, and isn't "just there for the ride" like most of the group will be, but is the hardcore player that will always show up (and usually always on time), will pay the most attention to the game, will know the rules sometimes better than the GM and act as a helper in terms of referencing and arbitrating rules, will subtly or openly get the rest of the group's act together (getting them to pay attention, helping them to make decisions), and will do all this without trying to usurp the GM's place or power.

In the set up quoted above, the 'group leader' would be the Beta. In my experience, he's not always thought of as the 'leader' by other players, or even to himself.
Shit, in my experience, players often want to imagine they're all lone wolves and an autonomous mass of rugged individuals that defy all social structuring because they're so cool.

Notwithstanding, the fact is, in almost any group I've seen the above hierarchies apply; and when they don't (when there's no beta to keep the group on-task, or no omega to help the group hierarchy feel defined, or when some player really wants to challenge the GM for the alpha spot) that's when you have fucked up gaming groups that are not long for this world.


(Originally posted October 9, 2013)

Tuesday, 29 November 2016 Tuesday: Awesome Cult Leaders Edition!

Today on, I take a look at a much-maligned profession: Cult leaders.  Sure, MOST of them are pretty godawful, but remember that most major religions started as a cult (not that this necessarily improves the reputation of cults, given how shitty some religions are).  Anyways, the point is that over the course of the 20th century there were some real and serious spiritual thinkers who were given, at one point or another, the status of 'cult leader', but what they were actually teaching was really pretty awesome.

In my newest article, I take a look at a list of some of those 20th Century cult leaders that I thought were pretty fucking awesome.

As always, if you like this, please feel free to share it!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Solani Aged Burley Flake

Monday, 28 November 2016 Monday: Porn Stars for Trump Edition!

While some of the adult industry are afraid of a Trump presidency, others think Trump is good for America and might be good for business, too.

In my latest article, I take a look at a dozen well-known stars in the adult industry, all of whom voted for Donald Trump! Some of them, you'll find, have pretty interested reasons, and prove to be fascinating people.

So check it out, and as usual, if you like the article, please feel free to share it.

Currently Smoking: Missouri Meerschaum + Stockebbye's Bull's Eye Flake

Sunday, 27 November 2016

DCC Campaign Update: Into The Shithole!

When last we saw our stalwart PCs, they were being hunted by both the Minotaurs and a Fire Vampire. Or, more accurately, Bill the Elf was being hunted by both of these, and everyone else was being killed as innocent bystanders.


-"Hey Elsa, want to worship G.O.D.?"
"No. G.O.D. will be no help here. Only shovel is needed."

-"Why not get G.O.D. and a shovel?"
"Adding G.O.D. as a superflous factor to an already complete formula does not justify G.O.D. existence!"

-"We should go to the Azure Tower. I have to make peace with the Azure Order, and then they'll help me."
"They won't help me! Those freak-wizards will all be like 'no you shouldn't make Priscilla queen of the Grey Lands again, she's too attractive!'"

-"we don't really need to help Priscilla."
"Fuck you, cleric! You guys, that cleric is a total perv! He tried to touch me in the rectory!"
"I did not!"
"yeah you did! And you probably have gonorrhea!"

-"Maybe we can find Morris. Priscilla, you'd probably like Morris."
"Is he rugged?"
"Not really. More like Creepy."
"So he's a cleric?"

-"Wally, you and Yarr should go back to Gaga. And take Priscilla with you, take her to Harembe."
"Is this Harembe rugged?"
"Actually.. yeah, probably."

-"We'll meet with Queen Zoey."
"She'll have to welcome me, because we're both beautiful princesses!"

-It was thus decided: half the party (the ones who didn't show up to this session) would return to Gaga with Wally the Airedale Terrier, and take Priscilla the grey-alien-chav with them to keep her out of trouble. Meanwhile, Bill and Shebubu would teleport to the Azure Tower to try to convince the Azure Wizards not to kill Bill and to help them with the Fire Vampire. And Elsa will probably go off hunting vampires on her own.

-Unfortunately, Bill fumbles his Planar Step spell-check, and Sezrekhan hijacks his trip. Bill is told by a clearly-more-insane-than-usual Sezrekhan that he has to find the High Council of Wizards and destroy them. Unfortunately, Sezrekhan doesn't know where their secret headquarters are found, but he has discovered that there's apparently a way to get to them, in the worst region of the entire world of the Last Sun... a place called "The Shithole".

-"Maybe it's not such a bad place, it just has an unfortunate name?"
"I doubt it."

-"Bill and Shebubu find themselves on a mountain overlooking a vast area of badlands, cracked earth, where almost nothing seems to grow."
"We might be in Australia."

-Meanwhile, Morris is in Gaga. He's been imprisoned as his excessive Creepiness has led him to go over the legal limit of his likes/dislikes ratio on Coolland's social media. Coolland's dungeons are full of people: creeps like Morris, but also ugly people, weird people, very old people, people who are depressed in uncool ways, and almost anyone else who isn't young and hip and chipper.
"And there it is! The Dystopian side of Coolland! I knew it was too nice to be true!"

-Jalludin the Rogue suddenly sneaks into Morris' cell, apparently right out of a shadowy corner!  He tells Morris that he needs to tell Bill that Sezrekhan has gone completely insane, and has to be stopped. Jalludin wants Bill's help.
"But how can I even get to Bill?"
"I'm going to stab you with the Dagger of Teleportation. It'll send you to him."
"Ok. Wait.. what do you mean the Dagger of--ARGHH!!"

-Morris suddenly appears, with a nasty stabbing injury, near to Bill and Shebubu, on the mountainside.
He barely manages to avoid plunging to his doom.
"The dagger isn't even very accurate!"

-"What the fuck happened to you?"
"I got stabbed!"
"You deserve everything that happens to you."

-Suddenly, a Minotaur appears on the mountainside, right near Bill.
"See? THAT'S accurate teleportation!"

-Bill shoots a magic missile at the minotaur, doing only 1hp damage, and slips off into the Neutral Zone. While there, he sees this great column of shadow off in the far distance, somewhere in the badlands of the Shithole.
"So, I can see it only here? Not in the, er, Normal Zone?"
"Oh please, like Bill is ever in the Normal Zone."

-Since Shebubu and Morris didn't actually attack the Minotaur, he doesn't attack them either. He's just furiously looking for the missing Bill. After they assure him they also hate Bill, he even talks with them. When they mention that the area below is The Shithole, the Minotaur explains that they're in the Southern Continent (somewhere to the south of Tholia), and that the Shithole, according to legend, is the place where the Dark Ones first broke out onto the surface world during the great disaster. According to legend, the center of the Shithole is the exact place where the Dark Ones emerged; and it is surrounded by three damned cities, two of which are in ruins.
"And the third?"
"It is a terrible city, known as Tijuana. The shittiest place on Earth."

-"These mountains, do they surround all of the Shithole?"
"Yes, they are probably artificial, created by great magic to try to hold back the Dark Ones."
"So... someone built a wall?"

-Bill comes back from the Neutral Zone and immediately kills the Minotaur.

-Morris reluctantly converts to G.O.D. so that Shebubu will heal him, but only after Bill convinces him.
"See, Shebubu? Even I'm better than you at your job."

-"Bill, Jalludin told me that Sezrekhan is crazy!"
"That's probably just because he's all jealous that I'm Sezrekhan's favorite now."

-"So wait, Jalludin 'stabbyported' you here?"

-Bill tells Morris (who was formerly a terrorist) about Priscilla apparently having a huge bomb.
"Morris gets aroused."

-"So this place is called the Shithole."
"Yup, and Bill's here. We're in a Shithole with an asshole!"

-The PCs half-reluctantly make their way down into the Shithole. Soon after, Morris feels something trembling under the ground.
"Oh shit guys, I think this is some kind of Tremors-type situation here!"
"I'm screaming very quietly."
"Awesome movie, though."

-Not wanting to know what's down there, the party takes to traveling by Levitation spells in one-hour bursts.

-That night, they rest with the protection of a Sequester spell. Some extremely primitive-looking mutants come charging at them and all immolate themselves.

-Continuing the next day, still floating along on a Levitation platform, the party (who were slightly unprepared for all this, missing a few minor supplies like WATER) spot a walled tropical garden in the middle of the cracked barren desert.
"Oh, that's not suspicious at all!"

-Morris climbs into the garden.
"Hey Morris, if all is clear, make a bird noise for us."
Morris then roots around the garden for a while, then comes back into the clearing and literally does this:

-"Why didn't you just say 'all clear'?"
"I don't know..."

-"Let's all go in. Morris goes first."
"I chose the wrong party."
"Too late, ese."

-The garden turns out to have spores that cause very slow-acting toxic poisoning.  By the time they get to the pool in the middle of the garden, saving throws are required. Bill passes out, but fortunately the other two manage to stay conscious, and for some reason drag him back out.
"We still need water."
"It's ok. I have an idea. Plants burn, right? And water won't."

-One hour and a Control Fire spell later, they've killed everything that lives in the garden, and get some water. Which is great, for now, but then they realize they have no waterskins, bottles, or any container of any kind other than a single small scroll-tube.

-In any case, Shebubu gets disapproval for the fifth time that day, and has to pray for 24 hours. They decide to camp out there.
"What do we do while we wait for the cleric?"
"While I was looking for waterskins, I found this old card game: Cards Against Chumanity!"
"Ok, let's play."

-Some time later, Bill and Morris spot a large lumpy purple-furred monster climbing over the garden wall.  He looks a bit like this (only a cyclops):

"I am Shlub!!"

-"who did all this burning?"
Bill elbows Morris, who raises his hand "um.. me!"
"Who are you?"
"Morris the Creephole."
"You must be mighty wizard!"
"Well... I'm mighty in some ways..."
"Shlub seeks great wizard to serve. Shlub will serve you, Morris Creephole!"

-"Fuck it, it was me. I'm Bill the Elf."
"Prove you Bill!"
Bill casts Cantrip. "that was only moderately mighty."
Bill casts Choking Cloud. "Shlub will trust for now."

-The party gets ready to move on, now joined by Shlub.
"Shlub, you managed to drink an awful lot of water."
"Shlub has a water sack"
"Where? You're naked!"
"Inside Shlub!"
"He's like a camel!"

-"Are all the people who live in the hills we're headed to large and naked like you?"
"No, some are small and naked, like you, but naked!"

-"Hey Shlub, can I ride on your shoulders?"
"...if you must, mighty wizard."

-Shebubu gets yet another disapproval!
"What did you do to G.O.D., dude??"

-Bill tries to contact Sezrekhan in the hopes of getting some more information about where the hell the way to the Wizards' Council is.
"BEEP BOOP BOOP: The Daemon you are attempting to reach --- is out of range --- please try to invoke again later"

-Bill fails his Sequester spell with a patron taint, and carves a third eye onto his forehead with a dagger.
"Oooh.. you ARE mighty wizard!"

-After some more marching, the PCs are running low on water again.
"Can you share your water from your water-sack, Shlub?"
"Shlub not see how."
"well... maybe the next time he has to pee he can do it in a cup.."
"Fuck's sake Morris!"
"Shlub could do that. Does Morris Creephole have cup?"
"....god damn it."

-Suddenly, the party crosses paths with a group of hideous tentacle monsters!
"They are Yithi"
"What the fuck?"
"They say they are looking for library. Also, Yithi are real assholes!"
"How do you know that?"
"They speak shoggoth. Shlub speak shoggoth"
"You speak shoggoth??  Do you know my friend Bob Shoggoth?"
"Just because Shlub speak shoggoth not mean Shlub knows EVERY shoggoth!"

-It turns out the library is in an underground cave, which Shlub knows to be full of poisonous slime. So the party does the obvious thing: lead the Yithi all in there, and then Ward Portal the only exit.

-That night, the party is attacked by a group of mutants dressed in rags, who also die horribly immolated by Bill's Sequester.

-"have you guys noticed its been days and days since we saw a Minotaur?"
"The Shithole must have some weird effect that blocks teleportation. That's also probably why Sezrekhan, and Jalludin, teleported us only to the edge of the Shithole. And why I wasn't able to Invoke Sezrekhan!"
"Is that also why the cleric keeps getting Disapproval?"
"No, that's just because G.O.D. hates me."
"You're just like the Fishman!"
"No. He was useless. Shebubu is just incompetent. He could theoretically be useful, if he didn't suck."

-The party is attacked by a giant feathered insect-creature! The Cleric gets massive disapproval AGAIN, and Bill casts magic missile and then disappears.
"Where has the mighty wizard gone???" Shlub refuses to do anything without Bill there to give him orders.
The party looks in serious trouble, until Bill reappears from the Neutral Zone.

-After an encounter with some phosphorescent green mutants, the PCs make their way to a town not far from a large lake. Water at last. The town has some more of the aforementioned mutants, who want to capture the PCs as slaves. But when the PCs make short work of them, their Chieftainess comes out, a large tough warrior-woman. Even so, Bill convinces her that they're better off trading with them.
"Who are you?"
"I'm Shebubu the mighty... no wait, Shebubu the inconsistent."

-This village is apparently a subsidiary town of a small kingdom rules by a mighty sorceress called the Queen of the Lake.
"is the lake queen hot?"
"She is dark and terrible!"
"So, is that a yes?"

-After obtaining a lighter from them (whose 'magic' impresses these barbarians mightily), the Chieftainess agrees to escort the PCs to the town of the Queen of the Lake.

-Along the way, the party encounters a colossal swamp worm!  Bill casts magic missile, almost killing the worm, and vanishes to the Neutral Zone. This makes Shlub panic again.
"The wizard is gone? Where did wizard go???"
"Shlub isn't very smart."
"well, he is with us, after all."

-The barbarian chieftainess, who is a highly skilled fighter, finishes off the worm.

-they arrive at the 'capital' of this little feifdom, which is also a shitty mud-hut village only twice as large as the other one. There, they are brought before the Queen of the Lake. She's a very hot phosphorescent green mutant sorceress. She recognizes Bill as a mighty wizard, and agrees to exchange some of her many potions for some of bill's extra scrolls. She also agrees to tell Bill what she knows of the High Council of Wizards, if he'll sleep with her.
"with me?"
"Yes. You and I are both great wizards. Thus, our child will be a destined super-wizard that will conquer all before him!"
"Sure, ok."

-After their tryst, the Queen explains to Bill that many wizards have come from the 'outer lands' to the Shithole, seeking the Council of Wizards. Some of them had told her that crossing through the Shithole was a quest, and that the way to the Wizards' Council was found in a place in the absolute center of the Shithole. In the place where the Dark Ones first emerged unto the surface world and brought darkness in the great disaster. This place is known to locals as "The Sphincter".
"...seriously? OK."

-"You should not seek the Sphincter, Bill. It is certain death!"
"I've been through certain death before. I always come back anyways."

-The party decides to stay in the Lake Queen's village to rest. While they're partying with the barbarians, Shebubu decides to do a Detect Evil on Shlub, and notes that he detects as Evil.
"So that means Shlub is either not as dumb as he appears and he's something terrible..."
"Or maybe he's just too dumb to know he's evil?"

That's all for this session. Next time, presumably, the party will continue along their route to The Sphincter!


Currently Smoking: Blatter Diplomat + C&D's Crowley's Best