Wednesday, October 31, 2012

13 Days of Halloween: Day Thirteen

The Queen of Halloween, that is...


Happy Halloween, Blessed Samhain, etc. everybody!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

13 Days of Halloween: Day Twelve

On this date in 1938, many parts of the country were thrown into a panic by a broadcast of an adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds. Orson Welles produced the adaptation for the Mercury Theater of the Air, framed as a series of fictional news bulletins simulating an invasion of the Earth by invaders from Mars.

People have debated for decades just why the country was so willing to be fooled by the broadcast, and the question of whether or not Welles had an inkling of what would happen was never answered. It is certain that he denied it at a later Congressional hearing, but in subsequent interviews he answered the question rather coyly, implying that he might have known what could happen.

Here is the 1938 broadcast, in its entirety:


Monday, October 29, 2012

New D&D Next Playtest Packet Available

For those of you who, like me, are following or participating in the open playtest for D&D Next, there's a new playtest packet available for download. The new packet takes the characters to level 10, makes some changes to spells and the rogue class, adds new monsters, and skills, backgrounds, and specialties have been tweaked. The packet also includes a rework of the classic adventure X1: The Isle of Dread.

You can download the latest packet here, and you can find a fuller description of the changes that it contains here.

Enjoy!

13 Days of Halloween: Day Eleven

Today, the memento mori, a genre of art and music that spans history from the Middle Ages through today. It was particularly in vogue in times when death was of particular concern to people; during the Black Death, for example, or in Puritan times. It was also said that the phrase "memento mori"-- which means "remember you are mortal"-- was repeated by a servant to Roman generals receiving a triumph. They often consisted of depictions of Death personified as a skeleton, skulls and bones in general, and images related to time, such as hour glasses.








Sunday, October 28, 2012

Be Safe, Everyone

Just a quick note to everybody in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states as Hurricane Sandy bears down upon us. Here's hoping that everybody in our close-knit community weathers the storm without incident, injury, or damage. Remember to move those wargames and RPG books to higher ground! 

13 Days of Halloween: Day Ten

Today I thought I'd give a quick run-down on real-world occult books that an enterprising game master might find of use when putting a game together. Whether you want to make your demonology in a fantasy game more true-to-life, or need some background for Call of Cthulhu, hopefully you'll find these of interest. All are still in print or available as free electronic editions somewhere online.

The Key of Solomon the King (aka "Clavicula Salomonis"). There are a bunch of translations out there, but this is one of the basic texts on summoning and controlling demons and angels.

The Lesser Key of Solomon (aka "The Goetia"). Along the same lines as the Key of Solomon above, but this one is actually a different book. This is the one that has the 72 Goetic demons, along with their various seals. Alistair Crowley did his own edited translation of this book, which was quite different from the original text (some say it's much more practical in terms of application).

The Black Pullet. Another early-modern grimoire, covering much the same material of the two Keys of Solomon, but with it's own details and symbols. Personally, I think this is one of the best names for a book of magic ever.

Futhark, A Handbook of Rune Magic by Edred Thorsson. This was one of the first books to popularize the runes within the pagan and occult communities, and remains one of the best in terms of the quality of the scholarship (the author holds a PhD in Germanic Languages and Medieval Studies) and accessibility. It covers all of the historically-known runic alphabets (there are more than just one) and describes magical uses for the runes including divination, magic, etc. If you get one book on runes, make it this one.

The Black Books of Elverum. This is a nicely different pair of magical books; two grimoires from Norway. The book gives hundreds of charms and spells to find stolen objects, get a lover, etc. etc.

The Magician's Companion by Bill Whitcomb. A pretty comprehensive encyclopedia of everything to do with ritual magic, broken up into a number of different magical models; 4 elements, 7 planets, 28 lunar mansions, etc. An excellent source-book that you can just open up at random and find inspiration.

The Anglo-Saxon Metrical Charms. Want to know what folk-charms and spells look like? Go to the source.  Here you'll find what the ancient Anglo-Saxons did to cure various diseases, find lost cattle, etc. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Darker Paths: Necromancer and Witch

Just in time for Halloween, I'd like to remind you, my loyal readers, of a pair of NPC *cough* character classes suitable for use with AD&D, Adventures Dark and Deep, OSRIC, etc.

The Necromancer is a master of death and the undead, and possesses scores of new and unique spells designed to control and mimic the undead, and enter their haunted crypts and graves. He has more than 75 new spells including Funeral Shroud, Living Death, and Kiss of the Vampire. The pdf is 20 pages.

The Witch is an outcast from society, weaving malevolent magic in order to take her revenge on those who have wronged her. She has more than 50 new spells, including Hand of Glory, Blight Field, and Candle Magic. The pdf is 26 pages.

Each can be introduced into your campaign either as a villainous NPC or, if you choose, as a new character class for your players. Each costs $5 individually, or you can buy both together for $8.

Happy Halloween!

13 Days of Halloween: Day Nine

Today, I'd like to bring your attention to some lighter fair; a pair of spooky-yet-lighthearted films that were staples of my youth. Both, not coincidentally, are currently available on Netflix for instant viewing, both featuring Boris Karloff, too.

The first is Mad Monster Party? (the question mark really is part of the title). Remember those stop-motion animated specials that Rankin-Bass did for Christmas and Easter? Rudolph, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, etc.? Well, many people don't know that they also did a horror-themed one called Mad Monster Party? Basically, take all of the old classic horror monsters; Frankenstein's Monster (as well as his bride-- played by Phyllis Diller!), the Mummy, the Wolfman, Dracula, etc. and throw 'em in together with a schlub pharmacy assistant who doesn't really realize what's going on around him and have a ball.



The second is The Comedy of Terrors, a quirky but very funny comedy/horror film starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Basil Rathbone. Price plays a murderous mortician who drums up his own business when times are slow, and the whole thing turns into wonderful farce when one of his victims turns out not to be as dead as Price might want him to be. Mix in a neglected wife with a singing voice that can (literally) shatter glass and there's a lot of good fun here. It's wonderful to see the range that these classic actors have, stretching from horror to slapstick comedy and back again. Well worth watching right after Tales of Terror, which featured much of the same cast just the year before.


Friday, October 26, 2012

13 Days of Halloween: Day Eight

Today, an American classic Halloween tale. While I'm a huge fan of the Johnny Depp version of Sleepy Hollow, I have to confess that there's a soft spot in my heart for the Disney animated version, narrated by Bing Crosby. It's the version I grew up with, and to me still the best.


Fortunately, someone has put the whole thing on Youtube:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Thursday, October 25, 2012

In Praise of Arnold's Conan

I hereby go on record as saying that I loved, and still love, the 1982 film Conan the Barbarian.

I didn't at all like the sequel Conan the Destroyer. But the original, while blissfully ignorant of the corpus of REH's work, was a stirring romp with wonderful cinematography, outstanding music, and a great performance by James Earl Jones. Treat it on its own terms, and it's a terrific film. Big, broad, and fun. Don't try to analyze it in the context of the original REH stories. That's not what it is, or what it's supposed to be. It's its own thing. Embrace it as such, and you might find you like it.

So, when I heard the news that a final installment of the series, The Legend of Conan, was in the works, I was cautiously optimistic. Would it be the incomprehensible mess that the second film was? Or would it be akin to the serious, but not ponderous (in the way that the second half of Excalibur is ponderous), first film? Time will tell. As long as it's not like the Grand Theft Auto-esque remake from last year. That would well and truly suck. 

13 Days of Halloween: Day Seven


RESTLESS SPIRIT

FREQUENCY: Rare
NO. APPEARING: 1-6
ARMOR CLASS: 3
MOVE: 9”
HIT DICE: 8
% IN LAIR: 25%
TREASURE TYPE: E
NO. OF ATTACKS: 0
DAMAGE/ATTACK: Nil
SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
INTELLIGENCE: High
ALIGNMENT: Neutral evil
SIZE: M
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

The restless spirit is a form of non-corporeal undead who died with some great task left unfinished. They are thus doomed to wander the mortal plane for all eternity. As with all undead, they are immune to all mind-affecting magic and cold, and can only be harmed by weapons bearing an enchantment of +2 or better. Holy water causes them 2-7 points of damage per full vial that hits them. The restless spirit does not attack in the conventional sense; each possesses a special attack, often somehow related to either their mode of death or the unfinished task that prevented them from moving on to the afterlife.

These special attacks can take many forms, and the specifics are left up to the individual game master to decide. They can influence the mind (causing insanity, for instance), the body (paralysis, aging, loss of attribute score), or their environment (animating objects, causing heat or cold, etc.). Clerics can turn them as special undead creatures.

Restless spirits appear as translucent images of their living selves. Contrary to folklore, completing the unfinished task of a restless spirit will not put it to rest, and may even enrage it, reminding it of what it was unable to do in life.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Notable Quotable


"Another mechanism for keeping  things under control is the “Godswar.” This concept is also a good justification to cover the changeover of a campaign from D&D rules to AD&D rules—and will also justify any other divine revisions the DM feels necessary, once." (Ed Greenwood, Dragon Magazine #54, p. 7; emphasis added)



13 Days of Halloween: Day Six

Tonight's a pretty special night for movie buffs. For one night only, TCM is sponsoring a double feature of the original Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein in theaters across the country, digitally remastered. Should be a blast-- these are two of the genre-creating films of the golden Universal horror movie era (or, as Boris Karloff preferred to call them, "terror films"). You can get tickets and theater locations here.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

13 Days of Halloween: Day Five

Today, some spooky purported-to-be-true ghost images caught on tape. Don't worry-- none of them are the "59 seconds of silence and then there's a face and a scream" type. I hate those.



That first one in the car definitely seems staged to me. All the others could be, of course (except for the police dash-cam video)...



And, if you're interested, you can also check out the live cameras set up in the Willard Library in Indiana, which is purported to be haunted as well. There are several live cameras set up in several areas of the library, and you'll also find a few documentaries on the site as well. Enjoy!

Pathfinder Tops D&D Again

According to the latest estimates released by ICV2.com, Pathfinder was once again the sales leader in the RPG field this summer, beating out the "genre-defining title" Dungeons & Dragons. Rounding out the field are Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader by FFG, Dragon Age, and Dungeon Crawl Classics.

I've got to say that last one surprises me a bit, but I'm pleased as anything that something that is deliberately being aimed at the old-school market is doing so well when stacked up against all the other RPGs that are out there. Even if I don't personally care for it, it's helping my corner of the hobby, and thus I wish it well.

Bear in mind that these are estimates based on a variety of different sources, since most gaming companies don't publish straightforward sales statistics. They're still regarded as pretty much the only source for comparison. 

Iron Man 3 Trailer

Well, the trailer for Iron Man 3 hit the web today (not that trailer-of-a-trailer nonsense from a couple of days ago):



Two things strike me about this. First, the "I'm not a terrorist, I'm a teacher" line sounds like something Bane could have said in Dark Knight Rises. Second, the scene of the Iron Man armor blowing up reminded me of the Riddler doing the same thing in Batman Forever. Still, I've got to see this-- I especially like the notion that Tony Stark is actually having to deal with the emotional aftermath of the events in The Avengers, and Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin should be a joy to behold.

Monday, October 22, 2012

13 Days of Halloween: Day Four


PYRE WRAITH

FREQUENCY: Rare
NO. APPEARING: 1 (or 11-20)
ARMOR CLASS: 2
MOVE: 9”
HIT DICE: 3+1
% IN LAIR: 100%
TREASURE TYPE: U
NO. OF ATTACKS: 4
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 2-7
SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
INTELLIGENCE: Very
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
SIZE: S
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

Pyre wraiths are a unique combination of undead and elemental formed from a specially constructed funeral pyre or cremation fire. They are usually imprisoned in a funeral urn, whence they are incapable of escaping. However, if freed, they will lash out at any living beings in the vicinity, in a blind rage at their undead status. They are usually encountered singly, but in a crematorium or columbarium, they can be found in large numbers.

Pyre wraiths are able to cast fireball and fire charm once per round. Although they appear as some sort of fire-based elemental, they are, in fact, undead creatures and thus are immune to the usual mind-affecting magics as other such creatures. They are immune to fire-based attacks, although cold and water based spells do double damage. Only weapons of +1 or greater enchantment can harm them. They appear as pillars of fire, lashing out with tentacles of flame; any flammable substance or object struck by a pyre wraith must make a saving throw vs. (normal) fire or burst into flames itself. Clerics turn them as if they were shadows.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

November is National Game Design Month!

Last year I took the NaGaDeMon challenge and smacked that puppy up and and down the street. You start designing a game on November 1, and it's done by November 30 in every respect; design, playtesting, components, etc. If you can't play that sucker after Thanksgiving, you've lost the challenge.

Not sure if I'll be able to step up to the plate this year (but I might), but I did want to remind you all that the event is being held this year as well. It really was a hoot to do last year, and it really focuses your energy when you've got that sort of deadline staring you in the face.

If you've got something inside you waiting to get out, this is your opportunity! Unless you want to try the "Alien Surprise" at Gus's Galaxy Grill, of course...


13 Days of Halloween: Day Three

What really scares you?

I mean, what is your innermost, deepest, if-Freddy-Krueger-were-after-me-this-is-how-he'd-kill-me fear?

Lots of people are scared of heights, or spiders, or snakes, or whatever; many to the point of actual phobia. But deep down inside there's got to be something much more fundamental. Something that fills you with existential dread to the point where it's difficult to even imagine, much less articulate. It's often a theme in our nightmares, although it doesn't have to be literally played out there. Often a hint is enough.

For me, it's immobility.

The thought of being trapped in my own body, watching the world go by around me, completely unable to interact with it, helpless to defend myself... *shudder*

I think I don't play on these possibilities enough while running a game. For instance, to use the above example, when a character is immobilized by some undead creature, rather than just saying "You're frozen for the next 6 rounds", you could get a lot of atmosphere by saying something more evocative like "The ghoul touches you and you feel your muscles freeze, turning to stone. You can still see and hear everything around you, can catch glimpses of your comrades fighting the creatures out of the corner of your eye, but you are just standing there, a completely immobile spectator, waiting for the outcome, unable to affect it."

So, what really scares you?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

13 Days of Halloween: Day Two

Today I'd like to discuss some of my favorite horror films from the 1970's and 1980's. These were my formative years, and these are the movies that made a huge impression on my young mind. I don't much care for modern horror, which is all too often just torture porn or soggy creepy kids. Here's my top thirteen list from that golden (to me, anyway) era (which is different from last year's list, which was my top ten horror films of all time)...
  • The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) / Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972). I'm counting these two films as one, and this is definitely a gruesome twosome. Vincent Price is the titular Doctor Phibes, who is first murdering the surgical team that allowed his wife to die on the operating table, and then murdering members of an archaeological expedition in Egypt in order to bring his wife back to life. While he, himself, has no face and is able to concoct murderously ingenious deathtraps for his victims. 
  • Theater of Blood (1973). Vincent Price is a maniacal actor who is taking revenge on the critics who snubbed him for a prestigious award by killing them in imaginative ways relating to Shakespeare's plays. 
  • Black Christmas (1974). Psychopath is killing a bunch of sorority girls alone over Christmas break. Creates a terrific atmosphere of suspense throughout.
  • The Omen (1976). You don't need to believe in the Bible to find Damien creepy, especially when the people around him who get to nosy start to die in various... accidents. I actually really like the next two films in the series, too; Omen 4 loses me, though.
  • Halloween (1978). This film is all about building tension. Even the most innocuous of scenes is made scary by that terrific music that John Carpenter wrote for the film. It's only in the last half hour or so that the killing really starts, and even then there's not a lot of gore (unlike the later films in the series).
  • Alien (1979). This is one of the best horror films ever made, that just happens to be set on a spaceship in the future. The claustrophobic atmosphere is perfect, the alien menacing and shadowy, and the acting is terrific. Yaffet Koto is probably my favorite member of the crew.
  • When a Stranger Calls (1979). Yeah, once you know the punchline, it sort of ruins the effect, but you can say the same thing about Psycho. Terrific atmosphere, and Carol Kane (whom I best know as Simka-- Latka's girlfriend from Taxi) was absolutely wonderful as the isolated, vulnerable babysitter. 
  • Terror Train (1980). This really was little more than a way to glom onto the slasher-movie boom that Halloween unleashed, and even had Jamie Lee Curtis in pretty much the same role/different name as she had had. But I still find it holds up well; the isolation of the train, the messing with identies enabled by the costumes, and a very unexpected twist at the end all combine to make a very effective slasher movie.
  • Motel Hell (1980). Farmer Vincent and his sister are creepy enough, but it turns out they intentionally wreck motorists and bury them up to their necks in the garden, sever their vocal cords so they can't speak, and then break their necks with a tractor before turning them into sausages. Yup, great stuff for a 14 year old.
  • An American Werewolf in London (1981). I love this movie because it's so much more than just a werewolf movie. There's ghosts, and zombies, and all sorts of other stuff thrown in there. The special effects are great, and it's one of those generational movies that everybody grew up seeing. 
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Perfect, just perfect. In the first film in the series especially, they really nail the dreamscape; I've actually had that dream where I try to run up the stairs, and my feet sink into them, so I can't move. Wise-cracking Freddy is sinister as one would expect. 
  • The Howling (1981). This is my perfect werewolf movie. It starts off as a serial killer film, but then we find out not only that the killer is a werewolf, but he comes from a whole colony of lycanthropes. Patrick Macnee is terrific as the leader/doctor, as you might expect. Very urbane, but with a hint of menace just under the surface.

What? No Friday the 13th? Nope. Didn't do much for me, I'm afraid.

Friday, October 19, 2012

13 Days of Halloween: Day One

I thought I'd count the run-up to my favorite holiday of the year by putting out a little something spooky, creepy, or just plain weird for the 13 days leading up to Halloween. Today, some really creepy and fun music videos, just to whet your appetites...

"Sober" by Tool:



"Drink with the Living Dead" by Ghoultown:



And last but not least, "The Ghost of Stephen Foster" by the Squirrel Nut Zippers:


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Legendary Realms Terrain

The good folks over at Legendary Realms are doing a Kickstarter (yeah, I know, we're all feeling KS fatigue, but this one is really cool) for their "themed rooms" line. While they make an excellent assortment of dungeon walls, floors, caves, and accessories, these are specially themed sets designed to evoke a particular locale. There's a throne room set and a cell block set, and you can get either the full magilla or just the accessories to turn your already-existing dungeon walls and floors into the specified room.

I've seen their work first-hand at Dexcon and Dreamation, and if you were at GenCon this year you might have seen their magnificent Labyrinth Lord setup. If you use miniatures, their dungeon walls and such are well worth the investment; they beat the heck out of marking a mat with a grease pencil.

Do consider backing their Kickstarter; they're a great bunch of guys and their products really are spectacular.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Adventures Dark and Deep Update

Here's the latest on Adventures Dark and Deep™:

The Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore hard-copy books are making their way into peoples' hands (the pdf is also available at that link, and if you buy a hard copy, you get the pdf for free). The folks who supported the kickstarter have started to report receiving copies, and there is a steady stream of sales coming in at RPGNow.com. A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore is intended as a rules supplement, allowing you to bring in some of the "new stuff" from Adventures Dark and Deep into your 1E, OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, etc. game. It's completely modular; take what you like, leave what you don't.

Now we move on to the real business; the three-volume core rulebook set. The stand-alone game that I wanted to play in 1985. One of the things that Gary Gygax explicitly stated was that he wanted to bring things back to a set of three books (plus a Deities and Demigods-type book). The three books will be the Players Manual, the Game Masters Toolkit, and the Bestiary. All will be released under the OGL.

There will be a Kickstarter campaign for each of the three books. I ran the numbers, and if I want them all to be as beautiful as intended, I can't quite swing the financing on my own. Art ain't cheap, and neither is professional editing, proofreading, and layout. Save your pennies!

The Players Manual kickstarter will begin in November. The Game Masters Toolkit will be either December or early 2013, and the Bestiary will cap the whole thing off in early 2013.

The Bestiary will be... a beast. We're looking at 850 or so illustrations-- one for each creature. It's going to be amazing if we can pull it off. Nearly every beasty from the 1E Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual 2, fully statted and each with its own illustration. Plus new monsters. This book is going to single-handedly be a renaissance of old-school art!

Adventures Dark and Deep is my effort to imagine what AD&D would have looked like if Gary Gygax had been allowed to develop it as he had intended. It's based on exhaustive research of his Dragon magazine articles from the mid-1980's as well as public statements in various online fora and other sources over the years. I have no inside track into his thoughts, but he left enough information out in public view to make a good go of it. The game has undergone a 2 year open playtest, and literally thousands of the open playtest books have been downloaded and played by dedicated gamers across the globe. Their feedback has been incorporated into the final text to make it the best game possible. Now I just need to make it beautiful.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Here Come the 2nd Edition Reprints

Looks like May of 2013 will see the return of the original 2nd edition core rulebooks with the same repritn treatment that the 1E books got:


And also a hardcover edition of Against the Slave Lords and S1-S4 which is an innovation in term of reprints, as far as I can tell.

Can the Rules Cyclopedia be far behind?

(h/t to Jason Paul McCartan)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tomorrow is Star Wars Reads Day

I think this is a terrific idea to get young people reading. Tomorrow, October 6, is "Star Wars Reads Day". There are special events all over the world, some with costumed fans, at libraries, bookstores, toy stores, etc. all in celebration of the myriad of Star Wars related titles that are in print nowadays. Yeah, yeah, it's going to put a few more bucks in Lucas's pocket by selling more books, but it also encourages reading especially among young Star Wars fans, and I see nothing wrong with "doing well by doing good".

Interestingly, compare this with an article at Tor.com Wednesday that postulates that most of the inhabitants of the Star Wars universe are probably illiterate. Heh.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Forgotten Lore has Arrived!

I got the hardcover and softcover copies of A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore today, and they look AWESOME!


Now I just need to autograph these bad boys and send 'em in the mail to the folks who ordered the top-of-the-line reward on Kickstarter. For everybody else, your books should be heading to you directly soon; they're in RPGNow.com's capable hands, and they're working diligently to get them out. (And a special shout-out to Pauline over there, who helped me work through some technical glitches and was exceptional in her helpfulness and willingness to assist.)

If you haven't gotten a copy yet, A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore lets you add my take on some of the things that Gary Gygax was planning on including with his 2nd edition to your AD&D, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, etc. game. New classes like the Bard, Jester, Mystic, Savant, and Mountebank. Streamlined combat. Tons of new spells. Plus lots more, and it's all completely modular, so you can take what you like and leave what you dont! It's available from RPGNow.com as a pdf, softcover, or hard cover, and with the hardcopy versions, the pdf is included free. You can't miss!

A Real-Life Dungeon Crawl

Over at Smithsonian magazine, there's a terrific article about the Cave of the Sybil at Baia, near Naples. It speculates that the site was used to mimic (or, less charitably, trick people into thinking they were actually) traveling to the underworld. There are apparently multiple tunnels, an underwater stream (heated "to near boiling" by the subterranean volcanic activity; the place is only a few miles from Mt. Vesuvius), hidden staircases, concealed doors; all it needs are pig-faced orcs.
Within the portion of the tunnels choked by rubble, Paget and Jones found, hidden behind an S-bend, a second blockage. This, the explorers discovered, marked the place where two tunnels diverged. Basing his thinking on the remains of some ancient pivots, Paget suggested that the spot had at one time harbored a concealed door. Swung closed, this would have masked the entrance to a second tunnel that acted as a short-cut to the lower levels. Opened partially, it could have been used (the explorer suggested) as a remarkably effective ventilation system; hot, vitiated air would be sucked out of the tunnel complex at ceiling level, while currents of cooler air from the surface were constantly drawn in along the floor.
The article also has several awesome maps, such as that above, that readers here might find interesting. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Link Roundup

Just wanted to post a couple of things from around the web today that I thought were interesting, cool, etc.

The 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Werewolf: The Apocalypse blew through it's $85,000 goal on Kickstarter within 48 hours, and is now well north of $100k. Cost to get a copy of the 520 color page, black leatherette covered book? $120, but there are plenty of rewards at different funding levels, too.

Someone in the Washington, D.C. area is going to get the bachelor party I wish I had thought to ask for when I was getting married. If you're a female DM in the DC area, here's a chance to get paid to run a game! (With only one string attached...)

The Daily Mail has some awesome pictures from the set of the next Iron Man movie, including some close-ups of the Iron Man and Iron Patriot armor.

Rich Burlew of Order of the Stick fame is going to be out of commission for a while as his lacerated thumb heals. Yikes! Feel better soon, Rich!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What Has My Familiar Been Up To?

Just a quick preview of something I'm working on for the upcoming Adventures Dark and Deep™ Game Masters Toolkit. A section of random tables. Dozens and dozens of them, each answering a question like "What does it taste like?" or "Why was he exiled?" or "What happened to me in the tavern last night?" or "Why is that mountebank here?" Just stuff to help the ol' creative juices to flow. This is a section that was not included in the open playtest document, but is planned for the final release. Here's one I just finished; "What has my familiar been up to?"

01-05 Drinking your blood (just a little each night)
06-10 Engaged in deep philosophical discussions with one other member of the party
11-15 Falling in love with someone else in the party (but still serving you, as it must)
16-20 Fighting off evil spirits bent on destroying you (but keeping it a secret so you don’t worry)
21-25 Fighting other familiars of opposite alignment
26-30 Gambling with one of the other members of the party
31-35 Giggling to itself, then suddenly stopping
36-40 In a revel with other familiars of similar type in the area
41-45 Mocking your actions, movements, gestures, etc. behind your back
46-50 Off on a mission for its superiors while you sleep, but always comes back before you awaken in the morning
51-55 Reading
56-60 Reporting to its superiors about your behavior (particularly your lapses)
61-65 Secretly adding something to everyone’s food when nobody is looking
66-70 Sneaking sips from your wineskin
71-75 Sniffing the ground as if searching for something, when it thinks no one is looking
76-80 Staring at you while you sleep
81-85 Staring intently at one of the other party members
86-90 Stealing milk from a farmer
91-95 Talking to itself
96-00 Watching the birds with great suspicion