Tuesday, April 30, 2013

On That Wagon Train West

For a while now I've been wanting to get into or run a wild west style campaign - well, perhaps a one off or two.

Back in the day, when me and my friends were just after getting our heads around Holmes' basic D&D we played a few games of TSR's Boot Hill.  We'd spend time rolling up characters, walking into town and then shooting the place to pieces!

That's pretty much what the few sessions we played ended up being - and that seemed to be a general criticism of the game itself - not too much room for role-playing but a good shoot-em-up sim.

But I've got that hankerin' to pull out the ol' six-shooters once again!

Of course, Boot Hill is long gone and picking one up these days is a bit pricey (you all should remember that the Warlock is a cheap!), so I've been looking around for a easy to run, quick to learn western rpg - in other words, inexpensive rules-lite!

Sure, some of you might be saying, "hey, why don't you give Deadlands a try"?

Well, it's not cheap and it is quite heavy on the rules.  Besides that, it's basically D&D in a western setting what, with the monsters and all - not at all what I'm looking for nor my cup of tea.

So looking around a bit I came across "Go Fer Yer Gun!", a nice little inexpensive rule-lite western RPG by Simon Washbourne and Beyond Belief Games.

With a foundation of Castle & Crusaders, GFYG is quite the stripped down version and has everything you need to run a pretty decent western game in just around 80 pages.  Yes, that's 80 pages for game rules.

GFYG uses a standard D20 system as opposed to Boot Hill's D100 and it's quite familiar with it's standard 3d6 attribute rolls (STR, DEX, CON, WIS, CHA, INT).  There are 10 iconic character classes such as the Maverick, Drifter, Gunslinger, Doctor etc, as well as an optional class for the Wandering Monk all with specific class skills. The game is run by the Game Marshal (GM - nice!).  

So after looking around a bit I've come to the conclusion that Go Fer Yer Gun! will be go rules for a western style campaign - no vampires, aliens or monsters....yet!  Now, if I can just get my gaming group interested.....

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day With Godzilla vs The Smog Monster

A real Godzilla freak-out!
Yes, to me Hedorah will always be the Smog Monster!

Having been on quite the Godzilla kick ever since I had posted those behind the scenes pictures of the "king of the monsters" I have come to the conclusion that the best Godzilla movie, after his first appearance in Gojira, would have to be his battle with Hedorah, the smog monster.

Don't get me wrong, Monster Zero, Destroy All Monsters and a couple of the others are pretty damn good and original giant monster bouts, but none of them were as horrific or as 'deep' as the first 1958 introduction of the radioactive Tokyo menace - that is until 1971when Toho produced Godzilla vs Hedorah (Godzilla vs the Smog Monster here in the states).

This movie gets a lot of bad rap.  Many fans don't like the break from the standard Godzilla formula of battling space alien monsters with his Monster Island friends or the decidedly direction of kiddie hero the series takes by this time, or the Godzilla flying sequence, but for me, these are all the things that I dearly love about this flick.

Godzilla started as a horrific reaction to the devastation of the dropping of the first atomic bombs at the end of WWII.  You see this destruction of a helpless populous over and over again in the early film Gojira.  You can feel the tension and horror and confusion that Japan must have felt after those initial bomb drops expressed in black and white.  Godzilla's destruction of Japan, over and over again represents this coming to terms of this new destructive power and the harnessing of this power.  Hence, Godzilla eventually becomes a reluctant ally of the human race, battling other monsters, evil corporate gangsters and alien invaders.

But it's not until mankind faces a similar destructive force, unintentionally created by man, that the series taps back into it's horrific origins.

Hodorah (the Smog Monster) is created by man's pollution of the environment.  It becomes a shapeless mass of oozing poison, leaving behind a trail of corrosive acidic air.  It is once again, man's own arrogance coming to destructive life realized in Gojira

We have to remember that this is 1971.  The environmental movement of the time is just picking up speed and here we have a movie that represents the affects of the worst nightmare of industrial pollution.  A Lovecraftian horror rising from the depths of the sea sucking on the black fumes of man's polluting factories.

This movie works for me on many levels.  The pacing is much different from the earlier monster mash-ups of the 60's.  It is slower and more meditative much like many of the other films of the time (think 2001: A Space Odyssey or Easy Rider*).  It has a lot of elements from many of the 'head-films' of the time as well, weird quick cuts and long silent scenes.  There are animated segments, letter readings.  There are burnt out Japanese hippies and hallucinations.  The monster constatnly changes form and has nightmarish vertical red eyes.  This mixture creates a very dystopian vision and somewhat disturbing Godzilla flick.

I always refer to this movie as Godzilla on acid.

This is the first original Godzilla film to have a young child protagonist, Kenny, but, ironically it is not a children's Godzilla movie.  Kenny has horrific visions of Godzilla and the coming of Hedorah's.  His father is maimed by Hedorah's poisons.  In fact, it is Kenny to comes with the solution to defeat Hedorah (even though his father is some type of scientist).

Godzilla has his problems in this one as Hedorah is quite the challenge of our monster king.  Godzilla is repeatedly defeated and burned and blinded by Hedorah's corrosive powers. It is not until Godzilla and the army unite that the Smog Monster is finally defeated by being dried up into a power.

 Godzilla vs Hedora is a great movie in and of itself but it land right up there with the original Gojira in terms of a vision of horror that has never again been attained by a Godzilla movie, old and new.

But the topper for me was the much hated title song.  Just a brilliant piece of James Bond influenced title credit and bad late 60's psychedelic rock.  Watch at your own risk as it will stick in your brain for years!

Bonus Earth Day cosplay of the stoned groovy singer that appears in the hippie bar during the film.
Save the Earth, my friends, save the earth!
*Yes, you read that correctly. I did compare Godzilla vs The Smog Monster with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Easy Rider.

Friday, April 19, 2013



It's been one heck of a week, what with the bloody chaos in Boston (apparently coming to a head) - terribly bad, S&W appreciation day - terribly good, job stuff (that's personal but I'm sure you all can relate)- terribly boring, that when I read this post from Zak which was a highlight of a thread on Story Games I think that was pretty much all I could take this week.

First, Boston...

Tragic event, yes, without a doubt!  But with the press jumping on any brown-skinned person in the crowd as a potential terrorist and the far right-wing extremists ready to pull their guns out and hang, burn, torture anyone that fits their narrow world view conspiracy forgetting all laws of due process that this country (which they are supposed 'patriots' of) is founded on is pretty fucked up.  The posts I've read online during this event were pure insanity.  Ignorant, racist insanity.  I probably should have taken a step back but it was all over the place.  These are the far right extremists who worry about Obama taking their guns and fascist-socialist-communistic-islamic take over from within the government and Obama declaring martial law in the "next two days".  Your quick-to-judgement racist rantings and arm-chair detecting and your call to violence has done nothing but affect the lives of kids who are innocent Americans and had nothing to do with any of the fucked up events (see NY Post & CNN's John King and then reality).  But you folks are a bunch of unhappy, ignorant, trigger-happy racists who would have the blood of the innocent on your hands in no time.  You are also the folks who are so deep up the ass of the NRA's and Wayne LaPierre's paranoid rantings that even mild common-sense background check legislation is looked at as an attack on your freedom.  Ironically, you're also the folks that would love a racist theocratic police-state.  Go figure.  Don't get me wrong or label me as some stereotype.  I have no problem with responsible gun ownership (read that again if you must) though I don't own one, but you folks are loose cannons and shouldn't be near any type of lethal weapon.  I'm sure most of you wouldn't pass any psychlogical test for gun ownership and maybe that's what you're really afraid of - being called out on your bull shit and seeing yourself for who you really are without the 'enhancement' of a firearm.

Second, Story Games...

D&D is, has been and always will be just a game. Period. It's a pure fantasy game for ages 12 to adult if I recall by Holmes box set correctly.  To young folk, goblins, orcs an other creepy things are not races they're monsters, monsters as in The Creature from the Black Lagoon or Ghidorah, the three headed monster.  They're not real.  They don't exist.  They're meant to be nothing but fodder.  To adults playing the game perhaps you consider some of these creatures as race based  but they're still not real so it's okay to kill as many imaginary goblins, orc and kobolds as you like, or I should say as your character likes.  If you think they are real, you should probably stop playing fantasy RPGs altogether, and video games, and watching TV or reading books and you probably shouldn't own a weapon (see above).   The fact that people still need to explore this argument just shows how backwards and behind the times some people are - then again there's a creationist museum so I shouldn't be too surprised.

I'll give the parent in the thread the benefit of the doubt.  He may never have played FRPGs before.
Maybe he grew up in a christian household in the 80's and is scared of this 'devil-worshiping' game and is now open enough to look for a little guidance, and I hope he gets it, but the thread really takes some wacky turns. If you're worried about your 5 year old daughter playing the game "without it becoming training in sociopathic behavior".  There are may different ways to introduce a young child to FRPGs and there are many folks on the interwebs that have made 'kid' versions of the game, but it's up to the parent (DM) to make it a kid friendly rated 'G' game.  Simple as that.  But, come on, it's a game.  Don't read too much into it.

People need to chill the fuck out.

Here's a little treat for those of you who read though this indulgance...

Peanuts Komandi Mash-up
p.s. - for those of you planning on commenting that I'm being a hater being hypocritical making stereotype accusations, keep in mind that with regards to my Boston comments, some of the 'folks' I call out are real people that I'm related to in one way or another - of course, plenty were online as well,  so yeah, I'm grouping plenty of people together but based on their actions.  And yeah, a creationist museum is pretty fuckin' stupid.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Day of Appreciation for Swords & Wizardry

Here's a collection of the goodies I've put together specifically for Swords & Wizardry over the past three plus years of our campaign, all of which is deliciously free

House Rules
My Swords & Wizardry House Rules V6

Gaming Aids

Two fabulous gaming aid booklets based on the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules. The Book of Wizardry and the Book of the Divine.

Book of Wizardry
Give your players this hands on Spell Book for their Spell-casting characters. Compiled from the existing spell descriptions in the classic-style fantasy RPG Swords & Wizardry Core Rules by Matt Finch and organized by level of spell with an index. 40 page Digest.
*FYI, I am in the process of updating the Book of Wizardry to the New Core Rules, I'll also be adding Matt's Eldritch Weirdness spells as well.

Book of the Divine
But why stop with wizards? You don't want your players casting spells of divine intervention to be left out? This book of divine spells are for Cleric or Druid characters. Also compiled from the existing spell descriptions in the fantasy RPG Swords & Wizardry Core Rules and Supplemental Lore by Skathros.

With a few modifications both of these books can be used with most old style fantasy RPGs.

Both books are available as a free pdf download that you can print yourself or as a print on demand book at the Warlocks' Lulu Storefront.

Character Record Sheets

NEW Swords & Wizardry Core Rules single sided character sheets.  There are two versions of the character sheet. The only changes being one having a space for spells (good for Clerics or Druids) and the other having more room for Equipment and Special Abilities.

S&W Character Sheet V1 Download

S&W Character Sheet V2 Download

Magic-user Spell Tracker used to keep track of their found spells, known spells and memorized spells. This should help Magic-User player keep all his spell notes organized.

Magic-user Spell Tracker Download

Classic Swords & Wizardry Character sheet. It's single sided and even has a space to sketch your character. I created a US 8.5 X 11 version as well as an European A4. Feel free to download it and use in your game.

Swords & Wizardry Races
Swords & Wizardry Monsters

The Warlock's Digest of Dungeon Dwelling Denizens

I've put together The Warlock's Digest of Dungeon Dwelling Denizens, a no frills old school monster statistical reference in digest format. It lists the stats only for all the monsters published in the Swords & Wizardry Core rules with a couple others monsters that I've used in my campaign thrown in. It sports ascending and descending armor class so it should be helpful in most old school style games.

It's a free download so have at it!

The DM's Campaign Journal
This 28 page free download is intended to keep track of the session number, session date as well as campaign dates. You can also add adventure notes, NPCs that the characters run into and any tiny plot hooks that come up. There is also a place to keep track of Treasure found, monsters encountered as well as their experience and hit points. And keeping track of time in the adventure can be challenging when there is so much else going on so check boxes for rounds and turns have been added.

As you fill this booklet up with your notes, add a volume number and begin filling up the next book, you'll have records of all your sessions as well as any tiny event that happened which can be referred back to in your organized volumes for new plot hooks and session ideas.

Campaign Booklet US

Campaign Booklet Europe

City Guide Booklet
The new city guides are created to help with sandbox campaign note taking and planning of various towns and cities that the characters may explore. As I've mentioned before, my sandbox is just a very broad-stroke which I fill in as the players explore. Thus, notes were beginning to pile up all over the place and on all sorts of notebooks and scraps of paper. Cities were a special case as residents may come and go, items sold or traded from previous adventures would now be a part of this shops inventory. This booklet will help keep that organized.

It's a 16 page booklet with room for 20 building maps and descriptions, a page for the general city map and city notes such as government, trade, laws, etc and finally a numbered hex map of the general region around the city or settlement.

Free City Guide PDF Download

Dungeon Time Tracker

Timekeeping during dungeon exploration is a crucial component for any game session and it's up to the DM to note this detail. Time keeping is important in knowing when to roll for wandering monsters, how long a spell may last as well as the use of torches, lanterns and other PC resources.

This gaming aid will help the DM keep track of rounds, turns and monsters encountered during a game session. It's based on my Campaign Journal gaming aid but has been simplified just for time keeping during dungeon exploration.

US 8.5 X 11

Europe A4

Time keeping is just a mechanic of the game and doesn't have to slog down game play. If PCs explore a room for example, a turn is checked off and descriptions are given. A DM doesn't have to drag time out.  For more info on my Dungeon Time tracker....

Dungeon Tiles

Having used some home-made dungeon tiles in my last session and finding them to be quite fun and useful, I've altered my custom set more for general use. The tiles are gridded with roomy 1 1/4" squares which translates to about 5 feet in game scale and can be use with most any fantasy game edition. A great free alternative to map out entire dungeon adventures or just close combat areas. There are 4 sets to download all around 3MB each.

Just print these pages out on a nice card-stock, get yourself a paper-cutter and start slicing.

These files are all greyscale to help save on printing costs.

Set One: 20X20 Rooms
Set Two: 30X30 Rooms
Set Three: Corridors
Set Four: Stairs & Rooms

Fantasy Role-playing Adventures

The Outpost On The Edge Of The Far Reaches - Full Module

An ancient outpost, abandoned centuries ago by a empire in decline, sits atop a lonely hill overlooking a bleak wilderness. Why was it deserted and left unattended all those years? Surely treasures that once littered the courtyard must have been claimed long ago. But still... vague murmurings of a hidden cellar have been overheard as well as visions of long dead veterans still haunting the battlements. Surely tales told in the evening in front of a fire to frighten gullible travelers. Perhaps there is something more here than meets the eye?

The elements in this adventure module have been left open enough to be adaptable with most old-school style fantasy role-playing game rules and worlds and should fit easily into any GM's sandbox with but a few alterations and modifications.

Available for purchase and pay pdf download at the RPG Now.

Forgotten Tomb of the Warrior King - One Page Dungeon

The one page dungeon The Forgotten Tomb of the Warrior King can be added to any campaign or amended to any dungeon.  Download the pdf file here!

And finally....our fifty session campaign journal powered by Swords & Wizardry!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


The third image in my Women of Conan series...Valeria!


Next up is Conan's queen, Zenobia.