Yes, I know it’s a click bait headline. But it kind of sums a lot of stuff. So, one of the things I’ve been doing during this time of work from home and the entire world had gone crazy is that I’ve been listening to a lot of “old” music. I know there are a lot metal heads out there in RPG land. But me? Well, I cut my teeth on punk and new wave stuff. I grabbed this headline from Chicken Shit Conformist by the Dead Kennedys. Just read the first part of that song and think about it.
Punk’s not dead
It just deserves to die
When it becomes another stale cartoon
A close-minded, self-centered social club
Ideas don’t matter, it’s who you know
If the music’s gotten boring
It’s because of the people
Who want everyone to sound the same
Who drive bright people out
Of our so-called scene
‘Til all that’s left Is just a meaningless fad
This is what I’m getting at here. The concept of the OSR and punk rock have a lot in common and I think it’s pretty important now with all the craziness going around. Here’s some excepts from Wikipedia on Punk subculture.
Although punks are frequently categorised as having left-wing, revolutionary, anarchist or progressive views, punk political ideology covers the entire political spectrum. Punk-related ideologies are mostly concerned with individual freedom and anti-establishment views. Common punk viewpoints include individual liberty, anti-authoritarianism, a DIY ethic, non-conformity, anti-collectivism, anti-corporatism, anti-government, direct action and not “selling out”.
A lot of that sounds pretty familiar right? I know not all of it and it varies from person to person and group to group. And it ain’t about safety pins and spiked Mohawks. It’s about attitude.
Let’s face it, a lot of the OSR folks fit into that older demographic and, in our own little way, we kind of think of ourselves as “The Establishment” or old guard. Those old games are fringe now. Admit it. Old school games are now more like the punk or underground comic scene. We aren’t following any “Comic Code”. We aren’t following the mob. So embrace it. Embrace the individuality. Play your own game.
There’s no marketing budget. There’s no celebrity endorsements. Sure we can sit on our asses in our basements and play the way we want to but to keep the old school scene alive, we need to make stuff and share stuff. Hell, share your thoughts on other people’s stuff. Like a product. Tell people. See a cool blog post or video. Share it. Have fun at a game session. Spread the word. Support who you want and how you want. And I leave you with this:
Every major city has a thriving Thieves’ Guild and Garnax is no different. The head of the Garnax Thieves’ Guild is Boss Trotter which he rules with a bloody iron fist. He keeps control of the Guild by placing only “family” (i.e. halflings) members in key positions of power and responsibility. )There is one exception but more on that NPC later.) While he has scars from many fights, he always dresses in the finest of clothes.
Boss Trotter’s gang doesn’t pay too much attention to larcenous activities as long as they get their cut. Most of the Guild’s and Trotter’s wealth and power stem from loan sharking, blackmail, extortion, and protection rackets. (This has lead to some rather interesting roleplaying when a country bumpkin halfling PC walks into a shop and the shopkeeper is scared out of his wits.) The only person Boss Trotter shows a healthy respect for is Lady Vasha of the Night Market.
He’s rarely seen in public but he still doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. Any one warrants his personal attention is “invited” to his manor and probably will face a long and painful death. Boss Trotter is as cunning as he is cold blooded but sometimes his tempter gets the best of him leading to usually violent outbursts. He is quick to assess opponents and come up with creative means of dealing with them with as little risk to himself.
And yes. I fully admit that I got the original idea from Fineous Fingers for a halfling thieves’ guild.
Roleplaying Tip: A picture is worth a thousand words.
NPC Portraits created with ePic Character Generator. I did a lot of editing on this one.
I admit that’s it been a long time since I really looked at anything by Venger Satanis. I admit that I really liked the early stuff like Liberation of the Demon Slayer, Revelry in Torth, Three Swordsmen, and The Baleful Sorcerer of Tsathag’kha. I was luke warm on The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence and Alpha Blue just wasn’t my thing. And I pretty much didn’t pay attention after that but I kept hearing interesting things about Cha’alt over on Swords & Stitchery so I figured, what the heck? Why not? I need something weird and different.
How can one describe Cha’alt? Well, it’s a gonzo, science fantasy, post apocalyptic and just plain weird. It’s all over the place. There’s weird eldritch things all over. There’s pop culture references here and there. And it’s easy to the influences of earlier works especially he Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence and Alpha Blue. Most importantly its an alien world and not your standard stock medieval fantasy land. Now there are places where it does overboard like with the pizza delivery guy. I like injecting humor into my games but maybe it’s just the way my brain works. I want to interject my jokes or one’s that fit whatever is happening at the game table.
There a couple things I really like. First, there’s more Character Options and more option is always useful. There’s Mutations (but then careful what you ask for since this could be bad), there’s a simple cybernetics system (if the PC’s get the money), and most importantly interesting Elves. There’s six kinds of elves who are native to Cha’alt and that’s a breath of fresh air.
Another great thing is that there’s a ton of new monsters, wasteland gangs, and just plain weird encounters and NPC’s. Once again, something cool that I can use no matter what setting I’m running at the time. And if you’ve followed the blog for any length of time then you’d know that I’m a big Swords & Wizardry fan. The stat blocks are very similar to those of Swords & Wizardry. And even more bonus, they are presented in a very clear, efficient, and easy to read manner.
Final Thoughts: At the very least, it’s inspirational. I’ve had the idea to do another home brew campaign world that’s more weird than Zoong. Something that’s got more a more weird fantasy vibe with a little bit science fantasy mixed in for good measure.
You can grab up Cha’alt over on Drivethrurpg.
I’m not doing this any particular order but I think Labyrinth Lord is the next best place to go on these rants. So what can I say about Labyrinth Lord? Like most of the retroclones, it’s so similar that adventures, monsters and characters really need no or very little conversion. I’ve had the PDF’s (which you can get at Goblinoid Games for free.)for a very long time. I did back the Kickstarter that gave us Advanced Labyrinth Lord with is the “basic” and Advanced Companion combined into one book. And like I said it’s damned good game and it follows closely to what classic D&D is like. I do have one major complaint about the book and that’s the organization of the spell section. It’s alphabetical but by class. So you turn to a page in the spell section and unless you have the spell lists memorized pretty much then you might not know if you’re in the Druid or the Cleric section. I know it’s a relatively minor complaint but it still annoyed me. And if you want a little more detail about its legacy check out the Wikipedia article.
Now I have ran a campaign using Labyrinth Lord. I called it my classics campaign. The party started with Keep on the Borderlands and went thru several classic TSR Modules (including Curse of Xanathon, The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, and The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth) and ending with the Tomb of Horrors (which the party gave up on). Overall the players loved it. Yes, there were a few complaints about how it wasn’t like more modern editions but folks got over it and enjoyed the game.
And here’s Part 1
Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!
It time to do another NPC.
During the day, the market square of the great city of Garnax is bustling with tradesmen and merchants. When the sun falls below the horizon and the butchers, bakers, tailors, and others close up their stalls and head to their homes, the Night Market takes of the plaza. The Night Market were astrologers, alchemists, and sages ply their trade. All manner of arcane, obscure, and even profane ephemera is for sale at the Night Market. Lady Vasha has made this her domain. She moderates disputes between merchants, and between merchants and customers. She passes judgement on would-be thieves and pickpockets. Her punishments for thievery are especially brutal. So much so that even the local Thieves’ Guild has put the Night Market off limits.
Lady Vasha’s pavilion is at the center of the Night Market and she is never without her retinue. Her Seneschal is a tall, gaunt mute half-elf seer. He is never seen without his Tarot deck. When anyone wishes an audience with Lady Vasha, they have to go through him first. He will assess the petitioner, draw a card then decide if they shall gain the audience. There isn’t any appeal. For those poor souls who attempt to push their way through are meet by Mordo. Mordo is a hairless ablino dwarf and totally psychotic. While he swings a very mean axe, his favored method for finishing off an opponent is ripping their throat out with his teeth. He is usually sitting at Lady Vasha’s feet, munching on a bowl of raw meat.
While all manner of magic items are available at the market, Lady Vasha buys up the best and most powerful for herself. There are some she is willing to part with for the right price or those who are willing to perform vary dangerous services for her.
Race: ? There are some rumors that Lady Vasha has an extraplanar origin, others insist she is udead, merely human working her way to lichdom or something greater.
Class: ? More than likely a powerful spell caster but she is rarely seen casting any spells but will do so without hesitation. She has extensive arcane knowledge.
NPC Portraits created with ePic Character Generator.