Monday, December 13, 2010

Savage Worlds Characters: Detective Tom Gunn and Father Burk

I enjoyed something last week that I have not enjoyed for a very long time: participating in a game as a player. Life's gotten complicated of late causing me to prune some of my favored pastimes just to keep things afloat for family and work.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Interview - Joel Kinstle VP Pinnacle Entertainment

Anyone frequenting the Savage Worlds forums knows it as a place more akin to a friendly neighborhood game store than a troll-ridden haven for Internet flamers. The Pinnacle Entertainment Group staff are quick to respond, highly informative, and very friendly.

That said, some staffers stand out a bit for quickness of wit and response. Case in point is Joel Kinstle, Vice President of Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Joel is a graphics designer by trade who cut his teeth at Pinnacle on Necessary Evil: Explorer’s Edition. While not in the pixel mines of PEG, he manages the talented cat herd known as the Pinnacle staff.

Joel took time away from worrying about deadlines to grant The Savage Troll an interview regarding RPGs, his winding career path, future PEG releases, and life as a somnambulistic chef.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Savage Worlds Lite for Kids
Recently I began searching for a RPG for my seven year old. He's a highly imaginative young man and I hope I to turn my love of RPGs into something enjoyed by the entire family. Wiggy, from Triple Ace Games, recently posted he ran a cut down version of Tales of the Fabulous Four at a local school that went well.

He used a simplified version of Savage Worlds. After some thought I realized Savage Worlds is the perfect candidate for a Kids RPG. It's already Fast, Furious, and Fun so, with a little modification, it should fill the bill nicely.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Unspeakable Oath Returns!

The Unspeakable Oath returns in December of 2010 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the magazine's launch in 1990. The quarterly magazine is dedicated to Horror RPGs utilizing H. P. Lovecraft's C'thulhu Mythos. It features stories, scenarios, art, and source material for all things tentacular.

The original Unspeakable Oath was the flagship publication of Pagan Publishing and ran from 1990 until 2001 spanning 17 issues. Arc Dream Publishing will relaunch with issue 18 with a star-studded editorial board including:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

AP: Space 1889 - Date Night - Pt. 2 Alexander's Mark

By Neville Duck
Spoiler Alert! - Alexander's Mark is the first Savage Tale in the Space 1889: Red Sands. If you plan to play it, don't read this. Just enjoy part 1 for now until you do get a chance to play.

The Cast

Nicolette LeBrun. (Main Player Character) - Junior Society member, budding archaeologist, linguist, and tutor to the social elite.

Sir Chester, Lord of Windon, patron of the London Museum of Antiquities, and member of the Explorer's Society noticed Nicolette during his son's tutoring session. Her mastery of language and history was apparent.

Lord Windon decided to test Nicolette's knowledge of antiquities whereupon he discovered, much to his dismay, his 300 pound sterling vase was a forgery. It seems modern Greek syntax wasn't used during the early stoic period despite the clever pun written upon his prize vase. Lord Windon insisted the Society induct Nicolette with the task of reviewing the Society's ever-growing collections from India, Syria, of course, Greece.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

AP: Space Nazis - Battle for the Throne Room

Greetings Rocketeers!

This episode takes place as the battle for the hanger bay rages on.

Galaxia entered her throne room aboard the Dominance. Her many minions stood guard around Fulton's companions: Captain Oft, Ballcutter the Amazonian warrior, Gerrowl the lion man, Peeps the bird girl, and MicD Robot.

Galaxia sneered at the companions. "Now that Fulton is my love slave I have no use for this rabble. Have the robot dissected for spare parts. Do with the others what you will. Come Lord Galaga. We have business on the bridge."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

AP: Space Nazis - How I Learned to Hate Galaxia but Love the Bomb

Greetings Rocketeers!

In our last episode of Adventures in Z-Space, the heroes boarded the Dominance after Queen Galaxia threatened to destroy the city of Hempstead, Texas. The PCs jettisoned the ancient Stargate along with the non-combatant members of the Achilles crew. The plan was for Fulton to stall the Queen while Dash, Anthem, Xander, K'hyven, Parkay, and Fidget found a way to disable or destroy the Dominance, preferably with the same atomic weapons Galaxia planned to use on Hempstead.

Fulton, along with the NPCs Captain Reginald Oft, Ballcutter the Amazonian warrior, Gerrowl the Lionman, and Peeps the Birdgirl were brought before Galaxia. The enraged tyrant demanded to know what they did with her Stargate. Fulton was his usual womanizing self. He fully expect the Queen to succumb to his considerable charms. One kiss from Galaxia, however, made Fulton the Queen's love slave. He told her everything about where they dumped the Stargate and what his friends were doing to her ship.

Fulton Trapped with Hitler and the Chronobot Master Cog

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Space 1889 - Date Night, Newbie GM and First Time Adventurer Pt 1 of 2

Duck is a long time friend of mine. He, I and three others form the core of a 30 year old gaming group called the UEDSS. Duck's been working on the blog behind the scenes helping proofread, suggesting content, and developing a podcast titled Stop, Duck, and Troll. (first episode out soon). Duck is an excellent figure painter and builds scale models as well as any professional I've seen.

His wife recently volunteered to play a RPG for the first time. You can read his first official blog entry titled 'Date Night'

RP Troll

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Making of Space 1889 - The Burning Desert

This post is a companion post to AP - Space 1889: The Burning Desert. In it I detail how the scenario was developed, what Maptool modifications were needed to run it, how the maps were created, and what other resources were used in the final product.

Adventure Source
I used the first scenario in Frank Chadwick's original Tales from the Ether. The adventure used the original Space 1889 rules and so I had to convert the NPCs into Savage Worlds.

The conversion was amazingly simple. In Space 1889 the attributes and skills go from 1 to 6. I simply doubled the score to give values from d4 to d12 (counting 1s and 2s). The skills matched Savage Worlds fairly well but I fudged them a bit here and there as needed.

The handouts I pulled directly from the pdf using GIMP's screen capture utility (File->Create->Screenshot). There were quite a few of these which included letters, newspaper articles, and a detailed description of Mercury. The hand-written letters were a bit hard to read in the source material and this remained true once I moved them into Maptool.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

AP - Space 1889: The Burning Desert

On Sunday, September 19th, I ran another Savage Worlds/Maptool introductory game using the Space 1889 setting from Pinnacle Entertainment Group.  We had three participants who played Adventurer Tex Chapman (ChiTownRoy), Naval Petty Officer Aku (Aku), and Inventor Alexander Setsu (rstehwien). Unfortunately ChiTownRoy had technical problems and left before the final battle.

The characters started in London at the Explorer's Society. One of the characters received a letter from a friend on Mercury describing a plot that could harm the economy of England. The letter included a Times article about the falling price of tin due to flooding of the tin markets from a small Pacific island. The letter ended with a plea for the character to come to Mercury to help root out the conspiracy.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Space 1889 Player Characters

Below are a few Player Characters for use in the Savage Worlds Space 1889 Red Sands setting. They can be used as a group or individually.

The Adventurer is an American thrill seeker who's traveled the Ether in search of fame, fortune, and, of course, adventure. He carries a Winchester rifle, six shooter, and a Bowie knife. He's nearly as dangerous with his fists as he his with his pistols being an accomplished hand-to-hand fighter. He spouts off in battle letting everyone know that ass-kicking they are about to receive. His boisterous personality is better suited to the wilds of Africa or the deserts of Mars than in a more confined 'civilized' setting with all it rules and expected social behaviors. The adventurer is a little dashing and a lot cocky, making his way through life on charm and braggadocio.

The Explorer's Society recruited the Adventurer after he single-handily stopped a plot by the Brotherhood of Luxor while on a tiger hunt in India.

Rank/Race: Novice (0 xps)/Human
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d4, Strength d6, Vigor d8,
Skills: Climbing d4, Fighting d6, Guts d4, Notice d4, Riding d4, Shooting d6, Stealth d4, Survival d6+2, Swimming d4, Throwing d6, Tracking d4
Languages: English, French, Koline
Derived: Pace 6, Parry 5, Charisma 0, Toughness 6, Bennies 3, Status 1, Favors 0
Hindrances: Major: Cocky, Minor: Loyal, Disowned
Edges: Pugilist, Explorer
Gear: Dagger, Pistol, Winchester, Bulletsx100

Friday, September 17, 2010

Interview with Arc Dream Publishing's Shane Ivey

When I review of a product, especially one as interesting as The Keberos Club, I want to know more of the people behind it. Most game makers wear many hats and have family lives to balance with their RPG endeavors. So why do they do it? In Shane Ivey's case the answer is simple: for love of the game.

Beside adoring all things Cthulhu, Shane Ivey is a writer, editor, and webmaster. He is responsible for the official Web site of Delta Green, and helps out with The Black Seal. He spent years as a play tester and occasional writer for Pagan Publishing before launching Arc Dream Publishing with Dennis Detwiller. He founded the popular science fiction Web zine RevolutionSF, with contributors including Joe R. Lansdale, Michael Moorcock, Jhonen Vasquez, Caitlin R. Kiernan and many others. He also works as webmaster for boardgame publisher Avalanche Press.

Recently he and Dave Blewer converted ENnie nominated The Kerberos Club into the Savage Worlds system. Tales from The Savage Troll caught up with Shane shortly after Gen Con.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Quick Mapping with MapTool, TokenTool, Google, and Gimp

Recently I faced the dilemma of a time shortage and the need to produce several new maps for an upcoming game in my Space Nazis campaign. I was able to produce everything in about an hour but only because I follow a tried and true method of map and token making. This post details the source, resources, and methods used to generate these maps quickly with a minimum of effort.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Review: Space 1889 - Red Sands

Years ago I picked up a game book with a Victorian Era British soldier on the cover fighting off gold-skinned ape men with fin ears. The logo had "SPACE" drawn as riveted metal with a stylized "1889" below it. I picked up the blue book and read the back cover.

Role-Playing In A More Civilized Time. Everything Jules Verne should have written. Everything H. G. Wells could have written. Everything A. Conan Doyle thought of, but never published because it was too fantastic. Everything you need for adventures of the century! The Space 1889 role-playing game covers the exciting background of Victorian science fiction: ether fliers and Martian cloud ships, the canals and ancient civilizations of the red planet, Venus' swamps and dinosaurs, the honeycombed interior of Luna, and the thrills of inventions and inventors; the driving force behind Victoria's multi-world empire!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

AP: Galaxia's Web

Greetings Rocketeers!

In the last episode of Adventures in Z-Space, our heroes evaded or destroyed a squadron of Nazi fighters and war rockets after stealing an ancient Stargate from a hidden Nazi swamp base. Stargates are incredible devices allowing instant travel from one place in the universe to another. Queen Galaxia was displeased with the theft of the device and threatened to destroy the small Texas city they used as a base if they didn't immediately bring the Stargate to her ship, The Dominance.

And now for this week's episode

Galaxia's Web

Savage Releases

The following Savage Worlds products were released recently.

Hellfrost Encounters Book 1 from Triple Ace Games
I enjoyed my brief stint in Hellfrost. Its a crunchy setting from Triple Ace Games that reminds me greatly of 2nd edition DnD. Not in terms of the mechanics but in terms of character flexibility for DnD went over the edge in complexity. Wiggy's latest work, Hellfrost Encounters Book 1, is designed with the busy GM in mind containing 50 encounters covering a variety of situations and locales.

Each encounter fits in one or two pages and is useful for random encounters, a mini-adventure on the spur of the moment, something to break up the party’s travels, or a starting scene for an adventure of your own devising.

The Sundered Skies Companion from Triple Ace Games
Sundered Skies is a dark fantasy setting with hints of steam punk thrown in for good measure. Triple Ace Games just released The Sundered Skies Companion which expands upon the information found in the Sundered Skies Setting Book. The companion is designed to be used by players and Gamemaster’s and includes;

  • New Edges and Hindrances.
  • Detailed information on day-to-day life in the Sundered Skies, including superstitions and commonly held beliefs.
  • Advanced Dwarven munitions add even more explosive options to your arsenal of equipment.
  • Several new ship designs, including the experimental flame dancer.
  • New magic and spells, including a new goddess, The Beautiful One, and Voidomancy—where the caster draws on the void itself as a source for his spells.
  • Holy days for the gods.
  • Expanded information on the isles of the skies, including four brand new islands —The volcanic Atrium; frozen Frostrock, the desolate and tragic Remorse, and the mysterious jungle isle of Savannah
  • 16 cults and secret societies the heroes can join or oppose. Each goals and organization is fully detailed, including unique Edges available to heroes who join.
  • Over 25 new Savage Tales designed to be used alongside, and within the existing Plot Point found in Sundered Skies.
  • Sundered Gods—a guide to what direction your campaign can take once the Plot Point is completed.
Space:1889 - Red Sands from Pinnacle Entertainment Group

Since Thomas Edison first explored the worlds with the help of his marvelous ether propeller, the British Empire has grown to include the red plains and stately canals of Mars, the steaming, dinosaur-infested swamps of Venus, and even a remote outpost in the twilight zone of Mercury. In 1889, the sun truly never sets on the British Empire!

But deep inside the Empire a core of revolt festers and grows. Martian cultists cry out for the Earthlings' expulsion. Britain teeters at the edge of war with the Oenotrian Empire. In the midst of seething turmoil, the being known only as Kronos seizes the technology of a forgotten race to threaten the very future of mankind!

Space 1889: Red Sands contains everything you need to play thrilling Victorian space adventures with the Savage Worlds game system: new Edges, Hindrances, combat and construction rules for ether vessels and aerial fliers, a complete system for Inventions, copious information about the various locales, races, and mysteries of the Solar System, an Adventure Generator, dozens of Savage Tales, a bevy of alien creatures and nefarious foes, and a Plot Point campaign to take your heroes to the stars and back again.

Interface Zero from Gun Metal Games

Welcome to the Future!

Interface-Zero, is the first book in the Interface-Zero Cyberpunk Setting by Gun Metal games. IZ brings your Savage Worlds game up to speed with the dark, frenetic world of 2088.

Didja Bring Your Gun?

Within the pages of Interface-Zero, you can match wits with ancient triad lodge masters, anarchist hackers and digitalized corporate moguls. Thwart the machinations of the New Chinese Mandarinate, or the Theocratic North American Coalition. Stare down the end of your Gauss rifle at or match nano-woven steel with ganglanders, gene-spliced hybrids and borg shock troopers.

Are ya Wired?

Life is fast in 2088. If ya wanna survive, you need to be faster. Don't worry Ami, we got ya covered. Fast Furious and Fun cybernetic rules enable you to create any type of cybernetic implant or bioware modification you can imagine!

Wanna crash a corp Domain?

Interface Zero hooks you up with everything you need to hack a computer network or de-res an enemy hacker in 2088. But watch out, omae; ghost into the wrong system and you'll get fried faster than your food vat can spit out NUTRIpaste!

Interface Zero is a game without barriers; a setting where you can be artificially intelligent robots, vat-grown simulacrum, transgenic hybrids or just plain old flesh and blood humans. You can jack into the world around you and program it to suit your needs. You can implant cyberware in your body, interface with machines, fly hover craft, golemmechs, jump bikes and even hover tanks and Low Altitude Vehicles complete with the latest weapons and cutting edge VTOL or anti-gravity propulsion systems.

You can assume the roles of shadow operatives who rage against the corporate machine, private detectives cut from a noir-inspired cloth, fearless, larger than life heroes piloting mecha in a futuristic, transhumanist Japan- even survivors gutting it out in a post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with mutant horrors or AI-spawned mechanical nightmares are viable concepts in Interface Zero. Interface Zero is more than just a game setting, it is a toolbox you can use, adding or dropping whichever elements you wish to create the scifi game world that you and your friends want to play.

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    Review: Ambient Music for Gaming by Sonic Legends

    Ambient Music for Gaming can be very useful depending on your group. Here are two selections from Sonic Legends (as found on that are two good examples of the different approaches background music can take. The first takes an ambient background approach that can have it's effect without overpowering the group. It plays in the background, adding the emotional white noise that makes the mundane melt away. The second is a powerful movie soundtrack that makes you immediately want to jump into a pirate adventure. It's strong themes can overpower you and you just sit there listening, why didn't they have that soundtrack on _____ movie last night!

    After the battle is a mournful ambient track that accomplishes its goal. It evokes the windswept field where only the mourners and crows pick thru the dead. As as tool to set the mood for an outdoor encounter where the baddies have wrought destruction, it will work quite well. I'm a big fan of orchestral strings to set moods with the deeper strings and timpani to layer. I'm less of a fan of the 1980s synthesizer sound. You only encounter the synthesizer sounds (which aren't bad) early on. I'm also a fan of using choral layers to add emotion and brass to evoke power. At 8min 20sec
    you get a track that can repeat without annoying.

    This offering is less ambient track and more Film Score. Of the two, its by far my favorite, mostly because movie scores are powerful emotional tools. It made me want to go make a pirate movie. The opening theme was as effective as a certain Caribbean pirate movie of recent memory. Well Done!

    This summer I enjoyed taking my niece and nephew to Disneyland for their first time. While the Jedi Training Academy will probably be their highlight, mine will be our Pirates of the Caribbean excursion. My niece liked it enough that she wanted to eat dinner in the Blue Bayou Restaurant in the we did. This track could easily have been the soundtrack for that ride.

    The little riff four and a half minutes in using the tuba and squeeze-box created the image of a staggering pirate trying to navigate the rolling deck of a ship with humor. If you use ambient music to set the tone, this one is a great pirate adventure score. I will enjoy playing it while driving thru Southern California traffic. Now I just need a cannon. I can think of so many B pirate movies that could have been almost pushed into an A with this soundtrack.

    -- by Neville Duck, editor --

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    More Fantastic Maps from Jonathan Roberts

    Jonathan Roberts is a cartographer for Kobold Quarterly, Sunken Empires, and Adventures in the Hyborian Age. He also contributes regularly to the Maptool forums under the name Torstan.

    His Fantastic Maps bundle is on sale this week (all 30% off, and the bundle reduced even more). Each map pack has a jpg map for use with Maptool or other VTTs, along with a printable version for use in face-to-face gaming. Many of the map packs contain Maptool files with the VBL drawn in and grids and lighting set up for either 4e or OGL games. All of them will have these files included in early September (they're all done, just not quite uploaded yet). If you buy now, you will get the new files with the Maptool files when they are updated.

    Black Sky Butte, Lone Island in the Sky, Mire of Lost Souls, Temple Mound, The Dragon's Lair, The Glass Balcony, The Ice Temple, The Island Cave, The Leafless Wood, The Low River, Tree Bridge, and Tribal Encampment all for $13.99.

    Sale ends September 1st. You can find all the map packs here.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Review: Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition for Savage Worlds

    Savage Worlds 1930's Pulp Fiction
    If you ever enjoyed the two-fisted treasure hunting of Indiana Jones, the high-flying action of Dave Stephens' The Rocketeer, the globe trotting exploits of Doc Savage, the extra-planetary adventures of Flash Gordon, or the gritty mob busting of The Untouchables then you've enjoyed a story set in the pulp era. Pulp is not a genre unto itself. In the strictest sense, pulp was the medium used to present stories during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. The pulps reached their height during the 1930s as great change swept across the globe. Gandhi's fasting and Hitler's rising occurred as synchronous events. It was the time between World Wars with the world growing steadily smaller thanks to air travel, automobiles, radio, and an increased literacy rate.

    Pulp fiction fed a hungry and growing audience a steady diet of adventure, intrigue, and action. Good was good and bad was bad. Even some bad guys were really good guys if given half a chance. The hero never died in pulp adventures. But then again, neither did the villain. The stories, plots, heroes, and villains are great RPG fodder as players and GM recreate some of their favorite settings from movies, books, and TV. Adamant Entertainment produces a Savage supplement titled Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition to add to their extensive line of Thrilling Tales products.

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    AP: The Getaway

    Robert Fulton
    Greetings Rocketeers!

    In our last episode the heroes loaded the ancient Stargate into the hold of the rocket ship Achilles. Fulton leapt into the pilot's seat blasting toward the whiteness of Z-space to avoid capture by a squadron of Nazi war rockets heading their way.

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    Free Product - Sewer Map Set 1

    It's hard to complain about free products. So I won't. I simply state that a little more effort would have made Sewer Map Set 1 from WYDRAZ RPG Products much better. But there are some positive aspects.
    • It's free.
    • It works well with Maptool possessing a 100 ppx grid that lined up well when I imported it.
    • The advertisement at the end of the pdf showed some nice products from the same company.
    • It's free.
      If you are a Maptool user, I recommend drawing sewers like this with textures. You'll use less memory although it takes more time to create.

      To improve the product, I recommend different textures. The ones used in this work are all very green. The water color is particularly bad. You could also alter the texture from the 100ppx to something larger with more variety. Use more than the basic three textures so every floor, water, and impassable section aren't the same for every square. Also, add some other decoration i.e. rats, gates, spider webs, slimes, and oozes.

      I suspect this product is advertisement to show off other, pay-for products. If so you should spend a little more time jazzing it up. As is, I wonder if the quality of your other work matches this one.

      Friday, August 13, 2010

      Net Find: Men's Adventure Magazines

      I'm a pulp fan so I'm always happy to find a resource for game prep. I use Maptool for online RPGs and thus need art to make tokens to move about the map. I was therefore very happy to find a web site catering to the pulp magazines of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

      Men's Adventure Magazines is a blog dedicated to the "Sweat" pulp mags from the post war era. Not only does it contain numerous magazine covers, it is rife with plot ideas for your pulp games.

      The blog does contain some scantily clad women which I'm sure were quite scandalous back in the day. Today they seem pretty tame but the site still boasts a "Mature Content" warning.

      Check it out for all your pulp gaming needs.

      Wednesday, August 11, 2010

      eReader vs. Tablet for RPG pdfs

      (see end of article for an update)

      I'm tired of lugging around RPG books. I have a bookshelf full with many resting unused for years. Some were never used. I just don't see the point.

      Now that I play Savage Worlds my need for new books is even smaller. Since I design most of my own settings, I usually use the supplements as source material without actually using most of the game itself. I therefor starting buying my games as PDFs to save space. The side effect was to make for a rapidly searchable text when looking for rules during my online games.

      So it seemed reasonable that one of the eBook readers like a Kindle or a Nook would fill my need nicely. I posted the question to a few online forums asking for advice. I was surprised by the response.

      Monday, August 9, 2010

      N-Space Beastiary: The Beastmen of Mars

      The Races of Mars

      This article discusses the various races of Mars in the Space Nazis setting. The setting utilizes the Slipstream product in conjunction with the Savage Worlds Explorers Edition from Pinnacle Entertainment Group for race creation, equipment, vehicles, edges, hindrances and power.

      Cat Men are the Red Planet's dominant life form. Other races live alongside them as either prey species, intellectual masters, or hide from them altogether to prevent racial extinction.

      The topography of Mars is that of large swaths of red, savanna plains separated by forests, mountains, caverned trenches, and polar ice caps. The canals of Mars stretch from the poles to the equator supplying water and trade routes.

      Sunday, August 8, 2010

      AP: Space Nazis - Fidget's Big Score

      Last week our heroes crashed into the gate house attempting to capture or disable the Nazi-run star gate that was sending Zombie microbes into their home dimension of N-Space. Their APC is disabled after crashing through the gatehouse wall. Almost everyone is unconscious. While their entrance killed most of the Nazi soldiers, two heavy weapon wielding SS troopers remain along with a beautiful German scientist.

      Saturday, August 7, 2010

      Bone Tooth Pick: How To Be A Great GM

      For insecure GMs everywhere, Avalon Games produced a new supplement telling you how to be the bestest GM ever. The work is 15 or so pages long and includes such topics as Getting Organized and Knowing Your Players.

      My first reaction to this supplement was to snort in derision but my view has softened a bit. Maybe its for people that really want to game and think the only way they'll be able to play is if they pick up the GM mantel. For those folks I recommend visiting some of sites that help match players to games like RPG Game Find or other similar sites.

      If you really do want to improve your GM skills, I highly recommend reading the GM section in the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition. The SWEX GM's section is as long as this entire supplement, comes with all the Savage Worlds rules, and only cost $10.

      Still, if you enjoy Oprah this might be the self-help book for you. For only $4.99 you can learn all (and I mean ALL) the secrets of good GMing. As an alternative I recommend asking your players how to improve the game and making sure everyone has a lot of fun.

      Wednesday, August 4, 2010

      Savage IRC hosted by Apathy Games

      Come join the Savage Worlds IRC Chat hosted by Apathy Games on Wednesday, August 4th. They hope to have some Gen Conners show up for some Q and A.

      You can find the channel on in #savageworlds.

      The subjects will include:
      • Converting a reluctant D&D player to Savage Worlds
      • Designing an epic Boss Fight
      • Anything else that comes up
      C'ya there.

        Monday, August 2, 2010

        The Kerberos Club Quick-Start Guide

        For those wishing learn more of The Kerberos Club setting, please check out the free The Kerberos Club Quick-Start Guide from Arc Dream Publishing. The introduction uses the One-Roll Engine rules set.
        While the work does not use the Savage Worlds rules, it does contain some of the background information discussed in the review including the settings time line.

        Friday, July 30, 2010

        Review: The Kerberos Club - Savage Supers in the Victorian Age

        Product: The Kerberos Club - Savage Worlds Edition
        Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
        People: Benjamin Baugh, Todd Shearer
        Price: $23.99

        Since I normally develop my own settings, few products give me a desire to drop my current game in favor of something new. Space 1889 is a perfect example of such a game. The concept of colonial, Victorian England in space and Liftwood ships over Mars was too juicy to pass over. Another was Solomon Kane dealing with horror in the 1600s. I forced these games upon my players for the shear joy of Game Mastering the setting. I have a new entry in that small list. A super hero game placed in 19th century London: The Kerberos Club from Arc Dream Publishing.

        The reason: the Victorian Era is as rich in history and change as it is in literature and invention. The War of 1812, The American Civil War, and the Crimean War changed forever the way nation fought nation while inventions like the railroad, telegraph, photography, gas light, cars and even aircraft changed the very fabric of society. Science grew into the discipline we know today with Universities and companies devoting ever increasing resources to new discoveries. Occultism and Secret Societies became popular as it seemed there was no limit to what man could understand and do and no mystery too deep to uncover.

        But inventions and advancements weren't the time period's only gifts. The Victorian Era gave birth to the literary works forming the foundation for almost all modern the RPGs, Fantasy, and Science Fiction we enjoy today. Works like:

        • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
        • Bram Stoker's Dracula
        • H. G. Well's The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, When the Sleeper Wakes, and The First Men in the Moon.
        • Jules Vern's A Journey to the Centre of the Earth , From the Earth to the Moon , Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, and The Mysterious Island.
        • George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin
        • Andrew Lang's 12 "Coloured" Fairy Books

        The 1800s saw the rise in power of the USA along with its breaking, remaking, and expansion from coast to coast. It was the era of the cowboy, the end of slavery, and the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

        In England, it was a century of overall peace and prosperity often referred to as Pax Britannia with England being the dominant sea power of the day. In fine Savage Setting tradition, The Kerberos Club takes this history and twists it by introducing The Strangeness as an unseen force that warps and changes those it touches.

        Thursday, July 29, 2010

        Thor: The Movie Trailer

        The Thor trailer that was once posted here is no more. Apparently the site housing the leaked video pulled it. I understand it's still out there on a few foreign web sites but I'll not post it here until official and authorized release hits the web.

        For what it's worth, the trailer looked awesome. To paraphrase, Thor is thrown out of Asgard for being a punk. Odin dies but sends Thor's hammer to Earth. Anyone able to pull the hammer from the stone shall be the rightful heir to all England. Wait, no, that's not it. Whosoever pulls the Hammer from this crystalline mass shall wield the power of Thor.

        In the mean time, Loki takes over Asgard and sends a Destroyer to kill Thor just in case Thor learns how not to be a brat and returns to take Odin's throne. Although not shown, I assume Odin comes back after Thor grows up.

        Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Natalie Portman, and Anthony Hopkins (Odin) star in the adaptation of the Thor comic book from Marvel. I'm not much of a Thor fan but I can't wait to see this movie.

        Torstan's Maps

        Jonathan Roberts is a map maker who, through pure altruism, improved the quality of my fantasy maps greatly. He's also a cartographer for Kobold Quarterly, Sunken Empires, and Adventures in the Hyborian Age

        Under the name of Torstan, he contributed tile sets and maps to Maptool which either ship with the product or can be downloaded into it. His work greatly speeds the development of new fantasy scenarios through the use of drag and drop map making. I created the Ogre Bandit Lair adventure with his tiles.

        Jonathan released the latest map set in a series titled Low River Map Pack. The set contains battle mat pdfs for printing and jpeg files to import into your favorite Virtual Table Top. It also contains a Maptool campaign file with the maps preloaded. You can find the entire bundle of Fantastic Maps on DriveThruRPG.

        Sample Map from the Low River Collection

        Tuesday, July 27, 2010

        Savage Space: 1889 Coming Soon

        Space: 1889 and its companion Sky Galleons of Mars comprise one of the most memorable settings I've ever played. The character combat system wasn't great but the ship-to-ship rules were awesome. The book gave you atlases of Mars, Venus, the Moon, and Mercury along with the indigenous races for each planet. I fought the cursed Belgians from one end of Mars to the other and knew victory captaining the Screw Galley Texan's Pride. Now THAT was a setting!

        This work, more than any other, inspired my pulp SciFi solar system for Space Nazis. Chadwick's vision of a hot and steamy Venus, a Mars in decline, and the world river of Mercury were all amazing. I admit I still love the setting after all these years.

        Pinnacle Entertainment Group will release its own version of Space: 1889 at Gen Con this year melding my favorite setting with my favorite game system. If you're interested in learning more, you can download the free Introduction to Space: 1889 to tide you over until Pinnacle releases Red Sands to the rest of us who weren't able to attend Gen Con. (honest, I'm not grumbling.... much)

        Saturday, July 24, 2010

        Game Glimpse: Shambles a.k.a. My LIfe as a Teenage Zombie

        Ever want to explore life as a zombie? Then Shambles is the game for you.

        You may think playing a slowly decaying corpse has limited RPG appeal but think of the fun of sharing your new undeadness with all your friends? Sure you have to dodge self-appointed, chainsaw-wielding zombie killers, government agents, and scientists seeking a cure but that's just part of the fun.

        Shambles uses a lightweight RPG system you can play funny, grim, or gory depending on your mood and appetite for brains.

        Friday, July 23, 2010

        Bone Tooth Pick: 4e Supplement - Markets and Merchandise

        I'll be honest. I don't get it. You're going to buy a supplement that contains what your players can buy in your game world. Granted it has all sorts of stuff about developing a currency system and two pages describing the difference between a copper, silver, and gold piece (spoiler: it's the kind of metal they're made of). While I may need to read that sort of information to go to sleep at night, it's not something I need to by to run a game.

        Thursday, July 22, 2010

        Matt's Maps

        Matt Jackson (another project ADD sufferer) is putting his half finished works up on his blog . .lapsus calumni. .  Recently he posted a science fiction map that should suit your sci fi gaming needs. Drop by and check it out.

        Wednesday, July 21, 2010

        AP: Tearing Through A Nazi Base

        Last night's game got a bit sillier than usual. The crew decided to double back to the Nazi base to activate the portal between Z-Space and N-Space. The Nazis, their numbers depleted, decide to activate their Zombie-fication device to refill their ranks with reanimated troopers.

        As the characters drove towards the base in their captured Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), the Zombies swarmed over the vehicle trying to gain entrance. The characters merrily blasted at the undead through the gun ports but several zombies hung on for dear unlife. 

        Space Nazis - N-Space Beastiary: Sharkmen and Porchinians

        Often when you create a universe your players will step in with filler. This happened when Trevor Croft, creator of Maptool, decided to play a character from my Space Nazis campaign. Trevor's busy schedule precluded studying the rules long enough to develop a character for my setting so, from a chat conversation, I developed a Sharkman from Venus.
        Trevor's requested  character was a shark with a frekkin' laser beam on its head. When I asked if he wanted anything else he said a side of ham. So I added Sharkmen to my universe along with a diminutive pig race named Porchinians. I presented the characters to Trevor who then created the racial history below.
        During the game Sharshar was viscious and Sharkbait was the luckiest pig in the Solar System. I've included their character sheets below in case anyone else wishes to build upon Trevor's creation. I've also included the vast (2 paragraph) material Trevor had to work with; a planet description and a character sheet. What follows afterwards is his write-up for Sharsharharkisharhar Sharharsharkashar SharkSharkarkishark-Arr the Sharkman and his constant companion Sharkbait.


        Monday, July 19, 2010

        Dragon Art

        In the interests of a full disclosure, I don't often enjoy art but Howard David Johnson has a great online gallery which features Dragons, Fairies, and other mythical creatures. Other topics of interests to the Virtual gamer include Greek, Norse, Asian, and Celtic mythologies as well as a wide array of fantasy artwork. I highly recommend you drop by and take a look.

        His work is great fodder for tokenizing via programs like Token Tool from

        Saturday, July 17, 2010

        Hellfrost Character: Seamus O'Thay

        The following character was used in Bryan Meadows Hellfrost scenario from Triple Ace Games. I had fun with the character who played well against Matt Jackson's muscle-bound Bullwolfie character. Seamus managed to get Bullwolfie into a fist duel with three warehouse guards while he taunted the guards from the sidelines allowing their dwarf companion the chance to search the grounds for clues.

        He was a good character and I'm sad I didn't get a chance to play more of him. Feel free to use and abuse Seamus as you please.

        Rank/Race: Novice (0 xps)/Hearth Elf
        Attributes: Agility (d8), Smarts (d6), Spirit (d8), Strength (d6), Vigor (d4),
        Skills: Fighting (d6), Guts (d4), Intimidation (d6+2), Notice (d4), Persuasion (d4), Shooting (d6), Taunt (d6+2), Throwing (d4), Faith (d6)
        Derived: Pace 6, Parry 6, Charisma 0, Toughness 7(2), Faith Power Points: 20
        Hindrances: Major: Curious Minor: Novate, Black Sheep
        Edges: AB-Miracles(Priest of the Unnamed God), Strong Willed
        Gear: Arrow x40, Arrow - Armor Piercing x20, Arrow- Flesh Ripper x20, Bow, Leather Shirt, Long Spear
        Powers: fear, shape change, mimic

        Seamus is a priest of the unnamed god who delights in tricks and learning through hardship. Seamus follows his gods' example attempting to trick his opponents early in each combat. He believes, sometimes erroneously, that his is smart enough to get out of any situation his mouth gets him into.

        Friday, July 16, 2010

        ENnie Voting is Open

        Go vote for your favorite game at the official voting site.

        Don't forget the Savages and Hero System titles and companies.

        Thursday, July 15, 2010

        Miskatonic University

        I'm a big fan of the Cthulhu mythos. Bits and pieces of it eventually make their way into almost any campaign I run. While I haven't played any form of Call of C'thulhu since its first release I do warp its creatures into my many creations. My Space Nazis campaign is a fine example of this.

        I have a special fondness for Miskatonic University, home of the fighting Encephalopods.  True they've never won a pennant, bowl game, or even made it to conference finals but what can you do when half the team is down a few sanity points? 

        I actually hold a degree from Miskatonic U (Go 'Pods!) in Medieval Metaphysics. True, it was through their online program but I'm told it holds the same weight as a normal degree from Mis U. Chaosium recently release the Miskatonic University Campus Guide if your interested in learning more.

        Wednesday, July 14, 2010

        2010 ENnie Nominees

        The ENnie nominations are in. Voting begins this Friday (7/16). Drop by their web site to see a full list of nominees.

        Sadly, only the Hellfrost Bestiary made it from the Savage Worlds game system. Its a scandal, a scandal I tell you. Good Luck to Wiggy and the other Triple Acers. Wiggy produces incredibly rich content and I highly recommend the entire Hellfrost series.

        Congrats also to Hero Games for multiple nominations in the Best Interior Art, Best Game, and Best Rules category for Hero System 6th Edition and a nomination for Best Supplement titled Lucha Libre Hero, the game of heroic, horror fighting, masked, Mexican wrestlers.  Jack Black would be proud.

        Saturday, July 10, 2010

        Space Nazis Z-Space Beastiary - Allies of Galaxia

        Once the characters transit to Z-Space they'll be caught in a three-sided war between the Dark Ones, The Alliance, and Queen Galaxia's forces. This article details some of the thrall races and personalities under Galaxia's command.

        Holy Hot Chainsaw Wielding Nazi Ninja Babes, Batman!

        This popped up as a new product on DriveThruRPG. I pass it along with no comment other than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been one-upped in the genre goulash department.

        Check out The Chainsaw Ninjas of the SS! It's only a dollar but you need HOT CHICKS: The Roleplaying Game if, for some strange reason, you actually feel the need to play.

        Friday, July 9, 2010

        Space Nazis Z-Space Beastiary - The Dark Ones

        If your characters make it to Z-Space they are likely to run into Dark Ones. These minions of the Elder wander Earth in search of slaves and food.  Their ancestors were banished to Z-Space when the Elders were put to sleep eons ago by the Harmonic Stabilizers. 

        Wednesday, July 7, 2010

        Savage Setting - Space Nazis - The Reveal

        This would be considered the GM's section of the Savage Setting - Nazi Horror from Outer Space!  The previous post is player information to give you and your players a feel for the game universe. This post contains information not generally known by the peoples of the Great Solar Alliance for the Librarians of Mars keep secrets very well indeed.

        AP - The Nazi Horror from Outer Spaaaaaaaace

        July 5th – One Shot Space Pulp w/Maptool

        In another of my Savage Worlds Evangelism Experiences, I held an open game of Savage Worlds in a Space Pulp setting of my own creation titled The Nazi Horror from Outer Spaaaaaaace! Participants included Save newbies Worldbuilder, Captainclock, Cyroa from the Maptool Forums. After my last experience with ten players I decided less was more for this adventure.

        Friday, July 2, 2010

        Gods Game 2.2 - Greetings

        Gûndaff's home world lay on the other side of the portal. The gateway's green border framed a forest clearing filled with green grass and tall oaks. On the other side a lone figure stood facing the portal. Gûndaff smiled and raised his hand in in greeting.
        An arrow struck the ground between the old man's feet as a female voice yelled from the other side. “Gûndaff Faêrenfarr, you step one foot through that portal and I'll drop you where you stand!”
        Corporal Hernandez's pistol was drawn and pointed at the voice on the other side. Gûndaff placed his hand on the gun forcing the Corporal to lower his side arm.
        Friend of yours, General?”
        Worse,” said Gûndaff. “A friend's insane ex-girlfriend.”

        Sunday, June 27, 2010

        Tuesday, June 8, 2010

        Savage Setting - The Nazi Horror from Outer Space

        I love creating universes. It's the aspect of Game Mastering I enjoy the most. I'm almost never satisfied with an out-of-the-box setting. I feel compeled to add my own twist to it.

        What follows is my re-imagineering the Slipstream setting from Pinnacle Entertainment Group. It can and should be used directly with the Sliptream Players Guide.

        Monday, May 31, 2010

        Gods' Game Characters - Serina Diamondeye

        Serina Diamondeye is a character from the Gods' Game story. She is the niece of Cornelius Diamondeye and bar maid at the Full Tankard Inn.  Like most gnomes, Serina is an illusionist (Savage Worlds Obscure Power, limited to small burst template, affect sight, sound and feeling).  She's called flat face due to her petite nose, a horrid disfigurement for a gnome.

        Saturday, May 29, 2010

        God's Game 1.8 - Departures

        Episode 1: Arrival
        Episode 2: Reunions
        Episode 3: Nigh Watch
        Episode 4: Big Dogs
        Episode 5: Judgment
        Episode 6: On Display
        Episode 7: The Uninvited
        Episode 8: Departures

        And now for this week's episode: Departures

        Gods' Game - Characters

        Episode 1: Arrival
        Episode 2: Reunions
        Episode 3: Nigh Watch
        Episode 4: Big Dogs
        Episode 5: Judgment
        Episode 6: On Display
        Episode 7: The Uninvited
        Episode 8: Departures

        Jack Large(foot) - Halfling from the island continent of Straulia.  Jack is the son of a halfling cobbler; an ironic choice of professions as halflings don't wear shoes.  Jack was raised in a human city and has a rather large chip on his shoulder concerning his height.

        Ballar - priest of the hunt and member of the Tehasian Rangers.  Ballar travels with a huge, black Straulian wolf named Fenris.

        Serena Diamondeye - gnome, niece of Cornelius Diamondeye, and bar maid at the Full Tankard Inn..  Like most gnomes, Serena's demonstrated illusionist ability (Savage Worlds Obscure Power, limited to small burst template, affect sight, sound and feeling).  She's called flat face due to her petite nose, a horrid disfigurement for a gnome.

        Cornelius Diamondeye - Leader of an Adventurer's Guild in Misty Bay Colony.  The guilds are licensed by the King of Sun Mountian and tasked with clearing the ruins surrounding Misty Bay.  The kingdom taxes treasure recovered from the ruins at extraordinary rate.  Cornelius is a man of power and wealth in the Colony.

        Tared Norbringer and Jordon Garthlow - A pair of adventurers formerly in Shiva's Adventuring Guild.  After Shiva left the Colony the two drifted from job to job never staying with one guild for any length of time.  They seem to have landed themselves on perpetual Night Watch for attempting to withhold the King's taxes for treasures found within the ruins (a charge they deny).  Tared laughs and jokes almost constantly.  Jordon is the down beat to every one of Tared's up beats.

        Fast Larry - Another Straulian halfling.  Larry betrayed Jack in Straulia then fled to escape Jack's wrath.

        Tuesday, May 25, 2010

        Gods' Game 1.7 - The Uninvited

        Episode 1: Arrival
        Episode 2: Reunions
        Episode 3: Nigh Watch
        Episode 4: Big Dogs
        Episode 5: Judgment
        Episode 6: On Display
        Episode 7: The Uninvited
        Episode 8: Departures

        This week's episode: The Uninvited

        Interview with Trevor Croft, creator of MapTool

        trevor's avatar
        With a full-time job, a newborn baby, and a virtual tabletop software application project all consuming his schedule, Trevor Croft, creator and caretaker of MapTool, was kind enough to take a few moments from his own busy life to answer a few questions.

        (Article originally appeared in The Dice of Life )

        Thursday, May 20, 2010

        No Fault

        This is another story in the Skipping Stones universe containing the first person testimony of a Blorb named Blasphornomiconiumoocus at his trial for the genocide of Planet Caractus's entire population. In his defence, it really was an accident.

        The Blorb are a race of huge, tentacled, slug creatures who eat rotting meat and are bent on galactic domination. To make things worse they are powerful psychics with the ability to bend other races to their will. They stink, leave a trail of slime where ever they go, and treat all other races as lackeys who exist for the sole purpose of serving the Blorb Syndicates. There is absolutely nothing to like about a Blorb. This, of course, increases the enjoyment of writing dialogue for them.

        This story, while small, is pivotal to the overall Skipping Stones arc, but it didn't fit within the other writings. The anti-hero is tangentially responsible for saving the galaxy from domination by a time shifting race of crystalline robots. Blasphornomiconiumoocus would hate to be known as the saviour of the galaxy, but that's how history documents his otherwise dreadful life.

        Friday, April 30, 2010

        Sweet Spots for the Time-Crunched Gamer: Weeknights, Nine To Midnight

        So you've tried all the automation tips and game systems we've discussed and still can't get your group together to game. What's an RPG enthusiast to do? You're now battling the toughest constraint of all, which is time itself.

        Tuesday, April 27, 2010

        Savage Worlds/Maptool Oneshot Game 4/19

        Occasionally I run Savage Worlds/Maptools Games to show off both products.  You can read my gaming history, how I found Savage Worlds, and why I use Maptool in other posts on my blog. In a nutshell, my discovery of Savage Worlds and Maptool allowed me to game again. To repay that debt, I run One Shots for other folks who, like myself, have limited time but a great desire to maintain the hobby of their youth.

        Saturday, April 24, 2010

        Interview with Shane Hensley, Creator of Savage Worlds

        When I began writing for The Dice of Life, I wanted to make the blog a source of ideas and inspiration for the time-crunched gamer.  The idea struck me that interviews with some of my gaming heroes would fill this requirement nicely.

        I have to admit I was nervous reaching out to Shane.  You just never know who's on the other end of the email.  As it turns out, Shane is one of the nicest and most helpful guys in the gaming industry.  He's also an undead, giant fish. (well, he can dream, can't he?)

        Interview with Paul 'Wiggy' Wade-Williams of Triple Ace Games

        Paul "Wiggy" Wade-Williams is one of the most prolific writers in the gaming industry. If you don't believe it, just Google his name and count the products he's authored. Wiggy has played RPGs for over twenty-five years and has been a published author since 1998, having written for Atlas Games, Eden Studios, Britannia Games Design, Kenzer & Co., Pinnacle Entertainment Group, and Green Ronin.

        He and his wife of seven years, Maggie, live on the Shetland Islands where life is slow, the community spirit is strong, the folk are friendly, and the scenery is beautiful. While not participating in the annual tradition of burning a Viking Longship, Wiggy serves as the creative director for Triple Ace Games, producing such titles as Hellfrost, Daring Tales, Necropolis, Sundered Skies, and Wonderland No More.

        Recently, Wiggy took time out of his busy production schedule to answer a few questions for The Dice of Life.