Monday, September 23, 2013

Darkshade Publishing - New Artwork Preview #2

Got some more art from the talented Mike Hartlieb...this one is a group sketch of the main characters in my Darkshade Chronicles/Adventures.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lost Blog Files #1: Zombies in my subconscious

I was going through some blog posts that I had started at some point over the last few years and never completed. I cannot recall why I never posted this one as it seems fairly well put together, unless I wanted to add some artwork...

I must really have zombies on the brain.

Sunday October 21, 2012
Had a really cool dream last night (after watching the new episode of 'Walking Dead') where myself and an indeterminate group of companions fought our way out of a a zombie infested area only split up and run into another such building. I also remember my group jumping into a car and letting our other group know we were jumping on Highway 88 I there a Highway 88 anywhere?

On the way from point A to point B, we passed a crowded restaurant or some kind of party where the people were oblivious to the situation. My dream then started playing classical music as a wave of zombies slowly but surely tore its way into the unsuspecting crowd with no other sound effects - very cool for a dream. I cannot remember if I have ever specifically can recall sounds before in a dream. It was quite eerie.

OK - back to that building we somehow got to...

I remember a zombie coming up to me after running down a flight of stairs and it was like I was watching myself in a dream (pretty weird, a dream within a dream). I could do nothing as a I did not react to a zombie slowly grabbing me and and getting ready chomp on the exposed flesh of my arm. Somehow, I came to my senses and was able to pop the deadite in the the cranium with whatever it was I had in my hand.

Next, a figure comes tearing around a corner with a 2x4 and I am able to stop him from caving my skull in. He says the building is not safe and is just too big with too many infected. We begin grabbing some desks and other furniture to set up a barrier so that it is easier to keep them at bay while we fight them hand to hand. While doing this, I see a group of zombies coming at our group from behind.

Then my daily call to wake up for work interrupted this story. Since I do recall having this dream before, I can look forward to this one to play again sometime soon. I would like to get more details on the whats and wheres.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Stay Alive!: Gaslight Edition

Years ago I experimented a bit with the 'Savage Worlds' system. Overall, I thought it was an OK game, but it ended up not being totally my cuppa tea. The campaign I played around with in Savage Worlds was the 'Rippers' game, where players were members of a secret organization that fought against monsters that were just rumored to exist.

The basic concept is nothing unique. Television shows like X-Files, Supernatural, and Grimm all had the same basic premise. I did a large amount of work on the background of the campaign I developed, separate from the Rippers campaign.

As I work my way to completion of my Stay Alive! Lite Edition, I included a short section on different types of campaign seeds. I am bringing back all that work I did and calling it Stay Alive!: Gaslight.

Here is the original character creation idea I had when my group was creating their characters for the game. I will implement this in some way into my future Gaslight Edition. My campaign was taking place in 1890's America, so the timeline below is definitely biased towards that angle.

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You can earn some bonus experience by completing a short background on your character. The basic idea here is that in some way, you have had contact with something that goes bump in the night.

Maybe your sister was kidnapped and found dead with some puncture wounds in the neck.

Maybe your parents were killed by an unknown animal attack.

Maybe you yourself encountered something that the authorities dismiss as your active imagination.

Think of something, but keep in mind we are dealing with the early 1890's. As a frame of reference, here is a historical timeline for you to review.

1857 - George Pullman invents the Pullman Sleeping Car for train travel.
1860 - Pony Express begins.
1861 - Confederate States of America (the Confederacy) established in Montgomery, Alabama.
1862 - Richard Gatling patents the machine gun.
1863 - Battle of Gettysburg
1865 - Robert E. Lee surrenders on April 9. The Civil War ends.
1866 - Alfred Nobel invents dynamite.
1867 - Alaska Purchase from Russia
1869 - Golden spike nailed in, completing the First Transcontinental Railroad (North America)
1871 - Great Chicago Fire
1876 - Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone.
1877 - Thomas Edison invents the cylinder phonograph or tin foil phonograph.
1879 - Thomas Edison invents light bulb.
1885 - Harim Maxim invents the machine gun.
1888 - Nikola Tesla invents the AC motor and transformer.
1890 - Wounded Knee Massacre
1892 - General Electric Company founded
1893 - The Columbian Exposition - Chicago Worlds Fair

Friday, September 6, 2013

Do you hear that?

That is actually the sound of pen scribbling on paper...or at least keystrokes energetically gathering and dispensing random thoughts from my overzealous mind. There is movement I can say, a momentum that is gaining ground with an actual hope of producing something that was promised many months ago.

Stay Alive! is really my second born, bastard child of an idea. I wanted to run a modern game using T&T rules. The boy wants to play games with spies and guys with guns, so I attempted to go back to 'Top Secret' once again. IMO, Top Secret is a system that implodes onto itself - from the calculus needed to figure out a successful missile attack, to the totally unusable experience tables. I was pointed towards an article from a now defunct and hard to find magazine (Sorcerer's Apprentice #7) that featured 'The Lovecraft Variant'.

Having not tracked that down, at least for a cost I was willing to pay for it, I then reached out to FBI to get a copy of Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes by Michael Stackpole. MSPE is basically T&T with some tweaks and changes. I cannot comment on any T&T system prior to 7.5 being such a newbie, but the 'talents' are basically 'skills' that can be chosen for your character based on your INT attribute (the value) and other pre-requisites based on the skill you are looking to have.

MSPE also ventures a bit more into the abyss of 'hard to play' because of the separate tables for missile attacks (based on the type of weapons), the ambiguity of how damage can and should be applied, and the way experience (AP) is tracked based on total experience for the player as well as individual experience for each skill (or is it trait?) every time it is used.

In the latter, it is very similar to 7.5 and its Talents in that the level of the skill (trait?) is your modifier when attempting the saving roll for the skill (I am just sticking with skill at this point). I did like the fact the missile adjustments were created based on shooter movement, target movement, and range. Melee combat is basically handled the same as T&T - roll the damage, compare the totals, and apply the difference as the adjustment to health/CON.

So what the heck am I doing then? Nothing that is too trailblazing I guess. I created a few things that I can hopefully say are my original ideas. Not having every seen the 'Lovecraft Variant' or reading everything that has ever been written in article or blogs for T&T, I cannot truly know if it is a purely original idea. I changed some things with missile combat (based on a combination of MSPE and T&T) that has grown from play testing online, games at conventions, and the home play test group made up of the boy and the girl. I have also added to, updated, and changed some weapons and their combat values. I figure it is better to go basic than deal with specific automatic weapons or shotguns or handguns - if you want to add more detail as the GM, that is your prerogative.

I am also going to add some additional rules on using miniatures with the T&T system. I know Ken is offering something up in the upcoming Deluxe rules regarding miniatures, but being a guy who has been using miniatures from day 1 with all my T&T games, I think I do have something to offer in this regard for those that would be interested. Obviously, miniatures are never a necessity, but I think they make things work better when dealing with range and line of site.

Why 'Lite Edition' for the rules? My plan was to originally make an entire book with rules and supplemental material for running a Zombie campaign. That is still in the works, but I want to get something out there at a very low cost that just encompasses the rules that I am envisioning. The Zombie Edition, Weird West Edition, or the Gaslight Edition - those will come later. Hopefully. Maybe.

We shall see...