Eldritch Tales White Box Insanity

Well, I picked this up during Christmas in July and am finally getting around to rant about. OH boy! Wow! Cool. Yeah, I like it. Now let me talk about a few reasons why.
Eldritch Tales: Lovecraftian White Box Role-Playing is as advertised. It takes the well known White Box mechanics and puts them into the setting of Lovecraftian horror. If you’re used to all the core mechanics of D&D then you pretty much get how the game works. Since it is White Box for most game mechanics, you are either using a d20 or a d6. That’s it. Skill checks are resolved on an x in d6 chance. But unlike most other White Box where you want to roll low, Eldritch Tales is set up to roll high. Actual skills and “occupations” modify the character’s chances of success.
Another way that it deviates from the standard is an awesome magic system. It is skill based (x in d6) and modified by the difficulty of the spell. There isn’t a spell casting class. Any one can learn a spell. There isn’t a specific limit on the number of spells. It all depends on how much you want to risk. There’s usually a cost and most spells take some time to cast. But the real catch is that something bad always happens if you fail the casting roll. Of course, there’s a list of spells. And I shouldn’t have to say this but just in case, there is good bestiary as well as plenty tome of forbidden knowledge and weird artifacts.
I’ve said this before. I’m not really that fond of the current edition of Call of Cthulhu. The most annoying thing is that flow chart for wounds. I do like the old editions and even think that current Delta Green is much more fun to play. I have this philosophy that character life expectancy should be inversely proportional to character generation time. So if there’s a high body count, character generation should quick. Eldritch Tales has much quicker character generation time than either Call of Cthulhu or Delta Green. Overall, you don’t lose that much of the feel of the other games but you’ve got faster and easier character generation mixed with a set game mechanics that most players already are familiar with.
As a default “setting”, the game is set in the 1920’s but since the White Box mechanics are so simple it’s no problem to use it for other time periods without that much conversion and you can easily reference other material for White Box games for inspiration. Hmm.

My Favorite White Box Cover

Speaking of inspiration… Throwing these two together seems like a great and natural idea. White Box Fantasy Cthulhu? Why the hell not? It is mentioned in the back of Eldritch Tales. Now, I’ve got some crazy ideas in my head. Excuse me while insanely type away. The voices in my head are really loud right now.

This Adventure is so boring…

Admit it. You’ve said this or thought this at least once. You could have been a player or you could have been the GM. We’ve all been there. The adventure is boring. So what do you do?
As a GM remember that adventures/modules are just like the rules. They’re guidelines. So mix things up on the fly. If the players aren’t acting then have something happen. If it’s something that the players would find interesting but isn’t in the module then add it. Listen to the players. Listen to comments and run with it. If they’re all sitting around just playing with their dice then make something happen. Did up an idea from anywhere just get something to happen. Sure the ending to the adventure may now be different. Who cares? Crazy endings are more interesting than just sitting around. And if some reason you have some great story that you’re trying to create and the players are bored. Well, then screw your story. Ditch it. Turn them loose and see what happens.
What about being a player? Then do something. It doesn’t have to be smart. It doesn’t have to even really make much sense. Just get things moving again. Don’t be a dick and throw another PC under the bus. Throw yourself under the bus and see what happens. Really, I’d rather have a character die of stupidity than boredom. So if the GM is sticking their precious story? Well, unfortunately, you just might have to play along. Guess, and do. It’s a problem that some inexperienced GM’s have. If you’ve got along time at the table. It’s OK to nudge things along now and then to help the GM out.
One more point I want to make. Any adventure can be boring. It doesn’t matter how well written it is. It doesn’t matter how exciting it reads on the page. Adventure designers can only go so far the rest is up to you. Ever here that old saying, “You’re responsible for your orgasm”.”? Well, it’s like that. As a player and as GM, it’s up to keep things moving and interesting at the table.
And if all else fails go by the old adage: Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!

NPC’s: Daphne & Silka

Last week I talked about this pair’s parents. This week meet the daughters of Ramona and Mycroft.

Daphne is the younger and much more impulsive of the pair. She’s highly intelligent but a bit naive and she’s not about acting more naive than she actually is. Her father has spoiler her a bit but this was mainly to only annoy her mother. She’s been know to cause significant property damage if she gets angered and feels she doesn’t get what she deserves. Daphne occasionally rebels against her parents but at most this lasts only a few weeks after which she goes back to live with her mother.
Daphne excels at and prefers direct damage spells and uses overkill as go-to tactic. She seems to care little about any collateral damage her spells cause.
Game Notes:
Race: Human
Class: mid-level Magic-User focusing on any spell that causes destruction.

Silka was always a great disappoint to her parents. From a young age, she was strong willed, independent, and showed little interest or aptitude for the arcane. She quickly fell into the “wrong” crowd and learned not only did she have an aptitude with a blade, she preferred the much more hands-on approach to dealing with problems. She quickly rose through the ranks of Garnax’s underworld and is the only non-Halfling to hold any position of power. She leads the Assassins’ Guild of Garnax.
Silka is as cold blooded as she is cunning. She’s rewards loyalty and competence and may dish out punish personally or send some poor sot on a “one way mission”. She does keep an eye on her little sister and occasionally intercedes when Daphne gets into trouble that’s over her head. Silka has no patience for her parents’ antics and has as little contact with them as possible.
Game Notes:
Race: Human
Class: Assassin with above average arcane knowledge. She can use Magic-User scrolls.

Cha’alt: Fuchsia Malaise

This is a continuation/supplement/add-on for the previously published Cha’alt by Venger Satanis. While it is available on Drivethrurpg, it’s still in the “soft opening” stage. That means there’s still a typo or two in there and that there are couple bells and whistles to be added to the PDF. But don’t let that get you down, it’s a steal at around $5 (as of this writing) for over 200 pages of content.
In case you missed it, Cha’alt is a gonzo, eldritch, science-fantasy setting. It’s got just about every weird thing you can think of thrown together in blender and poured out on the page but it still has its own internal logic so all of that makes sense. Fuchsia Malaise continues the work of the original Cha’alt. It take a few areas and details them more and offers up a nice set of adventures to throw into your campaign. So if you’re a fan of the original Cha’alt then grab this up if you haven’t already.
OK. So what if you aren’t a fan of Cha’alt. Well, there’s still plenty for you to use. The book has a great section of random tables that can be used in a wide variety of campaigns. Plus there’s even more weird alien monsters to challenge the player characters. So it’s still can be a valuable tool if you aren’t running Cha’alt or something similar. Sure it’s still got all that weirdness that may not fit into a vanilla fantasy campaign but that’s OK. Throwing in the occasional really weird makes that weird even weirder.
It’s a good addition to my collection and pairing it with other weirdness has great potential to make a campaign that’s not so cookie cutter. And that’s the kind of thing that I think we need more of. Plus there’s a third book on the way; Chartreuse Shadows.
You can grab it up on Drivethrurpg

OSR Retrospective: Basic Fantasy

As I said before I’m not doing these in any particular order. I’m just looking at my bookshelf and grabbing the one that catches my interest at the time. So this week, I’m going to talk about Basic Fantasy.
Basic fantasy doesn’t try to emulate and specific older edition of D&D but the foundations of the game mechanics are strongly rooted in those older editions. The game does use Ascending AC and race is separate from class. The main book has the four basic classes (Fighter, Magic-User, Cleric and Thief) along with the four basic races (Human, Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling). It uses the 5 Saving Throws for the older editions and Thieves use the old percentile skill system. The core book (3rd Edition) clocks in at 166 pages and has all the material you need to run a game as well as some very good optional rules and guidance for DM’s and players. All in all, it’s great game for beginners and experienced players alike.
Yes, I know that first paragraph sounded really boring but here’s what’s really cool about Basic Fantasy, the price. Many old-school games have their core books as PDF’s for free. The entire Basic Fantasy line is available for free in PDF. That’s right the adventures and supplements are free. Plus there is an active community putting together even more material. But wait. There’s more. The hard copies of all that are for sale at cost. That’s right at cost. So on Amazon the core Basic Fantasy book is only $5. There are PDF’s out there of core books that cost way more than that. And since most of the old-school games are largely cross compatible with little or no work, all those supplements and adventures are useful no matter what game you happen to be running. Basic Fantasy is a solid game and a great choice if you want to dip your toe into the old school style without investing a lot of cash.
Check out the Basic Fantasy website for all those PDF’s. And here’s the link to the core book on Amazon and Lulu.

Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!

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