Saturday, September 30, 2023

Grim Weaponry

The other day I was goofing around on
and I decided to knock together a quickie Grim Reaper.

That's when I thought of this visual gag, which I call
"New Reaper Shows Up to 1st Day of
Work Having Misunderstood the Assignment."

So what else could a Grim Reaper wield?
This sword looks cool but feels kinda basic.

This battle axe looks pretty dang badass.

"What am I, a cleric over here?!?"

"Time to die. Square up, mofo."

Is this a Shaolin spade? The author of the
Zombie Survival Handbook insists that this
 is the best weapon for decapitating zombos. 

Dual wield spiked chains seems extra AF.

This Reaper is not messing around.

The ultimate horror.


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

An old fave from 1981

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

An Email Exchange

[Thanks to Steve for allowing me to post this.]


Hi, Jeff! I'm preparing to run Broodmother Skyfortress and trash my 20+-year campaign, played annually with good friends since university in the 90s. Per your kind  p5 invitation, checking in with Mission Control.

My campaign is not medieval/D&D but post-apocalyptic. System is genre-agnostic ELEMENTAL, easy enough adapt to d&d-style rules and kind of meant for this kind of stream-crossing.

I've decided the giants are mutants and, um, the creators are Space Gods or something? I don't think the average wasteland dweller is going to react much differently to the giant invasion than the average medieval peasant -- it's going to be days of WTF is the world ending again?! Armed response will be louder, and communication faster. But it's still baffling, early reports nonsensical. 

Our heroes are all packed onto a pickup truck and can get places fast. A number of ideas will no doubt occur for getting Up There, anticipating no problem there. The giants will still be very dangerous, and maybe firearms-resistant.

Some of my players may be bitchy about this wild upset of player expectations/tone. I'm fine with that (bitchiness is a part of our group's charming culture) but I hope to entertain more than dismay!    
  • I started the campaign with the map from the original (1997) Fallout, the PCs are from vault 13, and they've been everywhere in the region: spent a few weeks in LA, which would take the giants a few nights raiding (a week?) to destroy the populated parts of the city, maybe a neighbourhood a night. 
  • The underground vaults are probably safe from the giants for now. There's a nuke in the possession of one of the villains someone might turn on a vault or a skyfortress. 
  • Truck Stop, the longtime base town of friendly mutants and assorted refugees is perpetually in peril, packed with repeat NPCs and the PCs favourite cocktail lounge. There's more than enough people and stuff to threaten, but this place is probably the one that would hurt most. It would be crushed in a night.

  • The first village they came to outside the vault is Shady Sands, and that's where I'll start. Probably nobody remembers that first game in like 1999-2000, but there may be notes on the long-forgotten NPCs, none of whom are likely to be heartbreakers. Anyway, now it's all a trampled, mildly radioactive, gory mess anyway, gone in an hour, and the green cloud of mutant lightning nimbus death is headed to whichever locale is next on the shitlist. 
See what the players do next, so far so good. But then what? Do people honestly do this to their campaigns and remain on speaking terms with their players?



Thanks for the email!  Mission control is here to help!

To the best of my knowledge you've got the longest-running campaign anyone has inflicted Broodmother upon, so I'm not fully sure how to advise you. But here are a few thoughts:

If you decide that the giants are as resistant to small arms as they are to medieval weaponry (which I heartily endorse), you might want to signal that. A dying man whose last words are "whatever they are, they're bulletproof...ack." ought to do the trick.

Is there something the giants could steal or someone that they could kidnap that could serve as a symbol of hope for the party? "Truck Stop is in ruins and Shady Sands will never be the same, but at least we got ______ back. Life will go on." If you don't have such a thing already, have some NPC explain how the last known copy of Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" was the secret glue of the community. "We would always play it once a year as the centerpiece of the local festival. If only we could get that back, maybe we would have the heart to rebuild." Did you all have a favorite song back in '99? Maybe use that instead of Miles Davis. Or whatever other MacGuffin you could hang some emotional stakes on.

Does that help?

That does, thanks, Jeff! Turning my thoughts towards MacGuffins…There’s a functioning radio station with a popular brain-in-a-jar robot DJ, Dick Personality…so either he or the station/transmitter/irreplaceable music collection (the last Kind of Blue is a great idea) could suffice along those lines. Thank you for writing this beautiful bonkers adventure and helping interpret it!

Please let me know how it goes, even if it is a disaster. Hell, send me hate mail for ruining your campaign, if it helps you feel better.

First session rocked utterly. 

Destroyed a couple of places, including one PC's tribal homeland (and tribe). I laid down the campaign map and ostentatiously crossed the lost places off one by one. Much arriving too late, lamentations, whining, bitching, moaning, this is so unfair, so cruel, what are even supposed to do-hoo-hoo -- and then they started fighting back. They evacuated the base town  (Truck Stop) ahead of the mystery murder cloud, and watched from a distance as the giants wrecked all the old beloved places there, and finally saw what they were up against. 

Next up: The Doom of LA: While Swordmaniac, Chainmonster and Vomitboy rampaged across Disneyland, they landed on the Skyfortress in a handy small VTOL craft (they also took the precaution of packing parachutes, lucky as a gust of wind hit them at the Obelisk and whisked one character off into the wild blue yonder).  They explored the ruins, where they discovered the charm monster/mind control ring and a mighty rubble of various stolen landmarks of this campaign and others -- is that an entire medieval guard tower? 
Chainmonster by Ian MacLean

Enroute to the Skyfortress proper,  they caught the Runt mid-business at the Stank Hole, discombobulated him with some mutant psychic zapping, and, in an epic confrontation, FUCKED HIM UP! Victory, catharsis, to be continued (likely in a year, as that's about as often as this far-flung crew can manage to be in the same place).   

Holy shit, Jeff! It works! 

Hey, been busy at work at and just checked my gmail for the first time in days. Thanks for putting a smile on this tired guy's face.

May I incorporate some of your emails into a blog post? If not, no harm done.

Heck yes, blog away! 

[The new printing of Broodmother Skyfortress is available here. PDF version here.]

Monday, September 25, 2023

The Cosmic Purpose of Role-Playing Games

If your sessions are anything like mine, a lot of ludicrous stuff gets said by the participants. RPGs put people into imaginary situations via dialogue. That means people will say things in an RPG session that would never be said in any other context. Therefore, RPG play taken as a whole is a sort of Unique Utterance Machine. We are collectively reciting the Nine Billion Names of God, the spoken version of the Tower of Hanoi, the oral Library of Babel. The last RPG played will exhaust language itself.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Mystery Solved


Last December I posted a message asking if anyone knew what the heck this four-armed three-eyed weirdo was and today I noticed someone had an answer. An anonymous commenter has recently added some useful info:

It’s a Gobbler, a creation of gloranthan dwarves, whose job is to eat special metals and other materials the dwarves would prefer that humans, trolls, and others not get their grubby hands on.

Basically the dwarves take it near where they suspect other races have been doing technological espionage, feed some Gobblers a sample of X material, and then those Gobblers go crazy for X, can sense it from far away, can digest it, will fight past anything just to reach it, and will eat it in preference to continuing to fight

I don’t recall which book they are in. I don’t remember their RuneQuest stats either, but I don’t there was anything unusual about their combat abilities. Doubt they had magic, unlike nearly everything else in Glorantha, since they are artificial.

Thanks, anon-a-commenter! With that lead I was able to track down this image of the re-release of the original Archive mini back in 2005 or so:

I also found this new re-design for a more recent HeroQuest figure line:

The Gobblers are mentioned in Different Worlds issue 24, the special issue devoted to the Mostali, RuneQuest's dwarves. Here's what Greg Stafford has to say about them in his article "Why I Dislike Mostali": 
Dwarfs have other creatures to help them protect their possessions, too. One of the best known is the Gunpowder Gobbler. A horde of them appeared one time, and they ate much more than that arcane substance when they stampeded towards their prey. They have many hands and a great mouth, and they are very strong. Their appetite is enhanced by their eating the alchemical powder, and they get stronger from it as well . Thus, the more there is to eat, the hungrier and nastier one gets. Once it has eaten everything, it goes on a rampage. Many instances of Gobbler outbreaks are recorded, and most authorities are quite adamant about suppressing the development of, or even experimentation with, that alchemical powder in their districts.
I feel like Different Worlds is
overlooked nowadays. Good mag.

According to this web article by Sandy Petersen, Gobblers "can be taught spells, but has only those Arts and Presence which has been enchanted into its hide." I have no idea what Arts and Presence mean in this context, as I know very little about the RuneQuest/HeroQuest family of games. 

Finally, I was able to track down some RQ stats for these four-armed goons:

Characteristics Average 

  • STR 2D6+12 19 
  • CON 4D6+12 26 
  • SIZ 3D6+12 22–23 
  • INT 1D6+2 5–6 
  • POW 3D6 10–11 
  • DEX 2D6+8 15 

Hit Points: 29 Move: 8 Magic Points: 11 Base SR: 2 Armor: 7 points of metallic hide. Skills: Dodge 35%, Smell Foodstuff 160%. Magic: A gobbler can eat near-limitless quantities of its designated substance. Sometimes gobblers receive enchantments or long duration sorcery spells from the dwarfs.Weapon % 55 Damage 1d4+2d6  SR 5/8 Note: A gobbler attacks four times each round, with both upper arms on its initial SR and both lower paws 3 strike ranks later. Add +1% to its Paw attack skill for each ENC of the target substance eaten. For every 10 ENC of the target substance eaten, add +1 to one characteristic chosen by the dwarfs when the gobbler was programmed


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Starmongers Guild

The Starmongers Guild is the closest thing to an operational magic-user's organization in the Kingdom of Drazbin. The main guildhouse is in the city of Yowat, but there's also a large contingent in Dillhonker. The original point of the organization was to provide solidarity for astrologers and soothsayers during a royal crackdown on fake fortune tellers, but all practitioners of the arcane sciences are now welcome. The usual route to membership is to apprentice under a master for several years but adventurers can skip that nonsense and join for a mere 1,000gp donation and a successful Charisma check (the fee is non-refundable). Membership provides the following benefits:

  • Membership is a legal defense against accusations of witchcraft (but not Black Magic) wherever Royal law applies.
  • The right to participate in the parades and festivities of the order. This means anytime you carouse in a town with a guildhouse there's a 1 in 6 chance the XP gain is doubled.
  • The Dillhonker Tarot has 99 cards.
    Every time you level up after joining, you receive an additional benefit if you can roll OVER your level on 1d12. If this roll is successful, throw 1d6 on the chart below:
    1. Gain basic proficiency in astrology. (If re-rolled on a later level, you get nothing.)
    2. Gain the alchemical knowledge needed to brew 1d3 different random potions.
    3. Gain the ability to Read the Cards once per day, which works like the spell Augury (if re-rolled, gain an additional usage per day).
    4. Gain a random MU spell.
    5. Gain knowledge of an ancient language.
    6. Gain all the mental abilities of an Arduin Psychic equal to your level. (If rolled again, you lose these benefits. They can be regained later.)
Note that non-magic-users can try to join the guild. In these lazy days of warlockery there's only a 1 in 6 chance they detect that you're a charlatan. But woe unto ye if that happens.