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Forgotten Depths - Dungeon Crawling Tile Action
 So it appears that all I do is pimp out Kickstarters on this blog once every eighty years... ... but this one needs some love. Check it out - Forgotten Depths.Looks like a good causal one...

Metallic Tome - Get some!
 I haven't posted in ages.  Life happens. However, I had to share this new book from the mad man, Rafael Chandler.The Metallic Tome!  If you love metal and old-school D&D, this is your wet dream.  PDF:  DriveThruRPG linkHardcopy: Lulu link  

I'm a Sucker for Battlemats, so I had to Share this Kickstarter
(September 2020 Update:  This whole kickstarter has been a cluster-f*$#.  Still no mats five years later). Figured I'd dust off the ol' blog to share this...I'm a sucker for a good battlemat... (just take a gander at these posts: link).I recently relocated and my old Battlemat of the Gods might not fit (still figuring that out).These magnetic tiles from GNL look damn handy... 

I could watch this on a continuous loop...


Review: The Teratic Tome - A Book of Horrors
(This review is also posted at RPG.net.  A 20-page preview is available here: link.)Rafael Chandler hooked me up with a copy of his new monster book, the Teratic Tome (TT) and asked me to take a gander. In short: it’s excellent.You can pick it up the PDF at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow for $6.66 (nice price) or as hardback at Lulu for $26.66. I have the PDF, but the hardback looks fantastic (more about that below).Listed as an “OSRIC-compatible bestiary,” it is useable with any old-school D&D edit or D&D variant.TT appears to be part of a product line called Evolved Grottoes & Griffins. At least I hope it’s going to turn into a product line, because TT is great.There are several things that set this book apart from the sea of monster books out there. The CoverTT’s cover stands out. It screams old-school, but its voice sets it apart from the rest of the OSR choir. TT looks like it came out in the late 80s, during the time of the Monster Manual II, the Manual of the Planes, and the Unearthed Arcana. It reminds me of the Manual of the Planes’ astral juggernaut in particular. The ToneTT is horrific. This is a book full of monsters. These aren’t hit point bags meant to be mowed down by the party. These baddies will make your players say, “Ewww.” Its R-rated (at the least), but not in a cheap shock kind of way. These monsters are meant to disturb.The interior artwork isn’t censored, so don’t leave this book out where kids can reach.Here are a couple of examples:The remnant “looks like a humanoid scuttling about on all fours, except that it has four arms and no legs. Stranger still, each of its four arms ends in a bloody stump.”The nethasq is a humanoid female that “sports a glistening mass of foot-long tentacles that end in barbs and hooks” where its genitals should be. It “haunts places where women have been defiled” and “[w]hen a man enters a place that the monster has claimed for its own, he begins to seep blood from his mouth, anus, and urethra.” Implied SettingThe monster entries hint at a setting or world or whatever you want to call it. This is like the original Monster Manual and Monster Manual II. Remember how the MM told you about how Orcus and Demogorgon hated each other? Well, in TT, you have the Demon Queen Abyzou plotting against Beleth, the Locust Perfect. Or, we learn that the agonists were “[c]reated in a rare moment of collaboration between High Devil Ahriman and the Demon Queen Abyzou” and that the “demons of Ghorom (216th layer of the Abyss) are chaotic evil monstrosities who feed on weakness and decency.”The details are not distracting or over the top. They provide just enough to give the reader a sense of depth and motivation. Monsters with MotivationThe monsters in the TT have motivations that are unique to say the least.The altar beast, a “towering, wormlike entity with rubbery mauve skin that scrapes off as it undulates across the ground,” was created by a forgotten god of matrimony. What does that mean? That means it “preys upon those who dissolve sacred bonds of marriage. This can include spouses, clerics, priests, nobles, and anyone who participates in the annulment of marriage.”As one can see, these are specific motivations. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Would I want a monster like that?But, the more I read, the more adventure ideas came to me. Why are all these priests dying in the city? Because there is an altar beast on the loose. These details might inspire a whole adventure.Someone on Google+ called TT “the missing monster book for Lamentations of the Flame Princess” and I’d say that is a damn good summary. A lot of the monsters seem like they would be terrorizing a village or secretly being worshiped by the villagers.And one could still easily ignore these motivations and use the monster without if need be. Personal FavoritesHere are some of my favorite aspects of the TT.The Venerable Dragons: These ten dragons aren’t your old “it's red, it breathes fire; it's blue, it breathes lightning, etc.” Rather, these dragons are each one-of-a-kind and on the level of deities.When Ke-Sectat Hatath the purple dragon awakens, the sun “burns reds.” He “soars into the city, accompanied by giant insects and flying vermin.” Then there is Makkas-Nephata, who is “preceded by unnatural rains,” such as blood, frogs, snake venom, and bile.I can see making an epic adventure to stop the awakening on these dragons or working them into the background of a setting to explain why a region was laid to waste.Owlbear Variants: TT includes the Kodiak hooter and tufted grizzly. It’s fun to seem new takes on old standards.Various OdditiesThere are a few things that are, well, just odd about TT. I dug them, but they’re worth pointing out.Halflings are Crazy SOBs. The halfling culture alluded to in TT is just nutty evil. For example the Tenebrous Halflings created creatures known as “audiences.” “When several of the Tenebrous Halflings neared death, they would perform a necromantic ritual that transferred their souls into a monstrous body that had been stitched together by their chirurgeons. Within this new body, a floating sack of flesh adorned with tentacles, each audience was a collection of diverse personalities.”Not sure there are too many “floating sacks of flesh” floating around your standard halfling shire.I dig the different take, but your mileage may vary.Lots of Tentacles. I like me some Cthulhu-esque monsters as much as the next guy, but, boy howdy, you are going to find a lot of tentacles in this book.Lots of Tentacles Where Genitals Should Be. Self-explanatory.Monsters Have Smells. When I took writing classes many moons ago, I was told that one of the most under-described senses was smell. This seems to have been taken to heart here, as just about every entry mentions how the monster smells. And this isn’t the same ol’ “smells like rotting death and/or feces” you usually get. For example, the infiltrator “is a pink-skinned humanoid with lavender tentacles and a red-lipped circular maw in its chest” that “smells of fresh-peeled orange rind.”I like this touch, even if it came across as a bit forced at times. Bonus FeatureTT includes its own treasure system which is simpler than most I’ve seen and, therefore (in my opinion) better. Coin treasure categories include categories like “cache (3d20 cp, 3d20 sp, 2d10 ep, d10 gp)” or “fortune (d100 ep, d100 gp, d20 pp).” Categories for jewels, gems, scrolls, potions, and magic items include categories like “few (d4-1)” or “several (2d10-2).” ConclusionIf you want traditional humanoids, dragons, ogres, etc., you probably won’t care for TT.If you’re looking for horror-inspired, demonic monstrosities to make your players gag, this is the book for you.

Miss Tact-Tiles? Try Automagic Tiles
A couple years back I wrote a good bit about Tact-Tiles and alternatives (see here, here, and here).Ralph Clark recently let me know he's started up a Kickstarter for something similar, Automagic Tiles: http://kck.st/ZxGMTeThere are two things I really like.There are smaller tiles that work with the big ones.The Kickstarter video has an awesome metal soundtrack.

Arcana Rising: An Urban Fantasy Roleplaying Game
I've been slowing working up a review for the excellent Teratic Tome, but in the mean time check out Arcana Rising: An Urban Fantasy Roleplaying Game by John Berry, the guy behind Hulks & Horrors.  In fact, Arcana Rising is "powered by Hulks & Horrors."Like Hulks & Horrors, Arcana Rising pushes an old-school style rule set and game style (i.e., dungeon crawling) into a new setting.  So, I think this is more of modern-day dungeon crawling than, say, a Shadowrun-type game.He has a pretty reasonable target for his Kickstarter, so take a gander.

Hulks & Horrors is back... and FREE
Mother lovin' hovering squid and freakin' psionic bearmen!A while back I wrote about a great looking old-school sci-fi game called Hulks & Horrors (Dungeon Crawling IN SPACE: Hulks & Horrors and Hulks & Horrors vs Stars Without Number).Although the Kickstarter didn't succeed, +John Berry pressed on and made the game anyhow!You can pick up the PDF for free now: link

Score! I won The Secret DM's contest
The Secret DM held a contest a while back and I won! Very cool. I love how he used a randomizer to pick the winner.He was kind of enough to send the prize money to me via Paypal so I can blow it at Con on the Cob this weekend.

The Ballad of the Swiftblade
After a long hiatus, my group finally got a chance to play some C&C last Friday.  It was a blast of a session. Our campaign is set in the Southern Reaches of the Wilderlands, with the party operating out of Sacred Rock. They decided to follow-up on an old adventure lead about an abandoned guard tower outside of town. Quite some time back, they saw a gargoyle floating around there.A darkwing (notably, not Darkwing Duck).There was a stable and an armory on the ground level, and the upper levels consisted of  a series of walkways (i.e., upper interior was mostly hollow). After breaking in and battling some zombie guardsmen, they were set upon by darkwings and, later, a gargoyle swooping down from the upper reaches of the tower.It was a tremendous battle with plenty of "fantasy #@#$! Vietnam"-style play. Thanks to a critical hit dealt out by the gargoyle, the party's wood elf ranger, Ash Swiftblade, bled out at the very end.  The party's bard player posted the ballad below on the campaign's EpicWords site afterwards. As much as I take pot-shots at bards, there is no doubt this is awesome:The Ballad of the SwiftbladeTo the forgotten tower I did journeywith Wil, Gravel, Ash, and Antoninthrough its sealed doors we sought the secrets held in darkness within.The air was thick with dust and mustWe found arms and bones of horseBut in its draft we did find something much, much worse.Bold Gravel cried, "I need no helpTo vanquish this undead foe!"But was soon beset by deathtaken wing to dive from above to below.Swift as his blade, Ash ran up,his companion beset by undead scumbut a rushing, flapping sound from aboveforetold of death to come.Wings violet as night swarm in the darktrimmed with fangs and clawsthat will lift you up to heights so highthat the fall should give any man pauseA swarm so large it should be saidthat it could even lift large Gravel"We must pull back!" the Swiftblade said"Lest upwards you wish to travel!"Gravel found the quickest way down,landing with a sickening thud"To the armory!" the Swiftblade called"They'll not have our blood!"Through a hail of death taken wingWe struggled to the doorWhen it was slammed and leaned uponWe numbered only fourPotions were quaffed by one and allboth magics and fermentedThe door was braced, but slowly gaveunder attack unrelented.As we took stock and readied to fightto the bold and bitter deathWhen the scratching and clawing of our foeeased like a sighing breath."This is our chance!" the Swiftblade growled"We open this door and fight!"All agreed and so we did,his blade the first to cut right.Only a few remained, the rest drawn awayA riddle quickly wonWhen a voice we heard, Antonio's cry out"These beasts, they fear the sun!"Took flight we did for the door we came in,cutting through the winged lotseeking the solace of the sunand its warming rays most hot.As we did a beast did join, larger than the restIt sought our blood as its favorite sweetNearly putting enormous Gravel to his rest.Wil came up to the giant half-man,"We make our stand now and here!"And all did turn to fire uponthe gargoyle without fear.Know that gargoyles are not the sort to shywith their stony bodies and hideThough pelt it we did with arrows and blowsWith our line it did collide."You'll not have my friends!" the Swiftblade yelledHis sword arced for a mighty blowBut the gargoyle tore with tooth and clawto lay him bloody low.As there he lay, his lifeblood spillingHe beckoned me to take his blade"Take this now and run him through,before to darkness I do fade."I wish I could say I did such a thing,though at least I can say that I tried.But even as he lay bleeding he save me once moreor else I would have died.Slick with his blood, I could not standAnd the gargoyle terrible and fierceExpected with my rise to run me throughWith its horns it meant to pierce.With it low to the ground my companions did strikeThey ran it through front and backAnd there it fell, beside the SwiftbladeIts blood as Ash's name most black."Thank you for that," he sighed meas he died there in the sunBut he'd done much, much greater for usfor because of him the battle was won.So when into darkness you must treador through trouble you must wadehope you have a noble friendas brave as Ash the Swiftblade!

The Dungeon Bastard on my DMing Style
I wasn't able to attend GenCon this year, but two of my friends, Hans and John made it, and they met the one and only Bill Cavalier - Dungeon Bastard!They told them how, after a year of play, they are only 3rd level in my campaign.  This was his reaction.It reads, "DAN - QUIT BEING A DICK."Close up.REJECTED from The Badass Dungeon Crushers Association!

Two good reasons you should fund Hulks & Horrors
There is less than 12 hours to go to fund Hulks & Horrors.Two Good Reasons to fund H&H1. Mother lovin' Hovering Squid player characters2. Freakin' psionic bearmen

The Secret DM Contest
Like contests?  Like gaming?  The Secret DM has a contest  for you: Contest Time! The Super Secret Happy Birthday Gary Gygax Giveaway Bundle Extravapalooza!

The Google+ Role-playing Blog Directory
Have a Blog?  On Google+?  Then check this out!The Google Plus Role-playing Blog Directory 

Hulks & Horrors vs Stars Without Number
I'm pretty excited about the Hulks & Horrors game and hope that it funds.  One reasonable question gamers have, though, is why should I sign up for H&H when I can get Star Without Number for free?The short answer is that H&H is really meant to take on the "dungeon crawl" theme and put into space, whereas SWN seems to take a broader approach. H&H creator John Berry addresses this here: link.  He is also fielding any questions you might have at TheRPGsite forum here: link


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