Thursday, August 31, 2023

Example of a World-Driving Rumor Table for a Sci-Fi Game

I am starting a game with my wife in the same setting as my Starfarer game. I needed to set up a starting star system and space station to use as a home base. 8 have some big mysteries and ideas to work with, but I decided to let automated tables do the rest:

I created a star system using the Donjon Star System Generator 

Once I had a star system, I went through and made some notes about how people would live and operate on each of the planets, if they would have a reason to be at them at all.

I came up with a name of a cantina and a marketplace, and a few characters who would be doing vital functions about the space station.

Then I ran the Donjon space jobs generator. I could have also used the space job generator from the Science Fiction Codex of Lists 2e, which I have also used heavily in my solo gaming.

I went through the list and deleted a few repetitive entries. I renamed some characters and to change their species to add a little variety and fit my larger setting. Then I tucked that away in a GM notes document so I knew what was a trap, A scam, or had other difficulties.

I posted most of the jobs on the news board for the space station. Omitting any details of my giveaway surprises, and re-writing them with fees and contacts. 

I then added some flavor posts: a spaceship for sale, but entertainment event, and a couple of items sales to give the sense of the space station as the center of commerce in an active star system.

For every inhabited planet,  I added one or two "flavor jobs" to give a sense of what goes on on that planet. For example, Veles V is a highly volcanic world with a colony on a moon that does experimental hostile environment mining. I got the idea from the fact that it had a moon, and was a volcanically active Rock Planet. Advertising for mineral scanning and engineers to help them work on hostile environment mining Tech seems like a great way to describe that without telling the players what goes on on that planet. 

Likewise, Veles VIII is an ice mining planet with some eccentric, geeky characters turning it into a anarchist party planet. Adds for courtesans, casinos, rock bands, and dangerous sporting events seemed like a great way to get that impression.

In the end, with a little art and flavor added, I've ended up with a very interesting document that I will have beans to the calm link of the player characters when they arrive at the station. It will give them a pretty solid setting with over a dozen hooks in one swoop.

Anything the PCS don't pursue, if it doesn't have a timer already built in, I will give a cumulative 1-in-6 chance of changing or disappearing and being replaced every week (rolling new items from generated tables.)

Here's my final result. (The original tables will follow.)


Please check in with Sergeant Lōm after arriving.

Thirsty? Say hello to Itha-Q6 and Brenna at Bubble & Fizz! Genuine Earth and Uzz-III cuisine.


Monday, August 28, 2023

Thank You!


Shen-Maian Princess, by Brian C. Rideout ©️2023, Made with Unstable Diffusion

Despite my slow second half,  this month has been the best month for Welcome to the Deathtrap ever. 

I have been blogging in some way shape or form since blogging became a thing. I have never been great at getting attention to my work. I have never been good at changing my format to match what works well with search engines, or, for that matter, is easy for casual reading. I am always so grateful for the people who stop and take the time to read my work. 

I have spent this month in travel, teaching myself the new skills of working with A.I. for image generation and writing.

I don't generally share much about myself, but today I wanted to say that over the last nine months I have been learning to cope with chronic, sometimes crippling pain. Pain that has made writing, drawing, talking, eating, and even walking a misery on the bad days. Working on my games, and writing this blog is something I make myself do, even when it is painful, because I know you all are out there waiting to read more. 

Working on the blog has become a sort of training; learning to do the worthwile things even when it doesn't feel good, because I cannot give up on the things that bring me joy, just because there is pain in the way.

Thank you all so much for a fantastic, rewarding month, and giving me a reason to keep on writing.

Friday, August 18, 2023

My PCs Died for the Glory of Old Fashioned Campaign Structure

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I was on the receiving end of a hell of a TPK in the Blueholme game tonight. Our GM is running a pretty rich Gygaxian campaign where there are large stables of PCs, and multiple groups of players playing at different times of the week in 1-to-1 time. It also has a handful of Patrons: players who intrigue against one another as lords, dungeon boss monsters, dark forces, guildmasters, etc., in a Braunstein-style Free Kriegspiel that has an impact on the events of the campaign.

And tonight it all came  together in a spectacular imbroglio. The players who play in the other group ambushed us with 60 Heavy Infantry and 30 Cavalry.

They accused us of a wide range of nasty sabotages, sleights, and thefts. Now, my PCs were out of ciculation for a month as I was dealing with health issues, I was not there when the parties started intriguing against each other. I gather that a couple of the charges they laid at our feet were our actions. But it is also clear that a patron, some NPC villains, and random happenstance had led them to believe that we were an active meance out to sabotage their every move.

Literally, we no idea of what 60% of what they were saying was about. (I wasn't there for another 30%)

Monday, August 14, 2023

Adventure Review: Slumbering Ursine Dunes, Misty Isles of the Eld, Fever Dreaming Marlinko, & What Ho Frog Demons

: Chris Kutalik (w/ writing credits for Luka Rejec)
Publisher: Hydra Cooperative
Marketplace: Drive-Thru RPG (SUD, MIoE, FDM, WHFD)
System: Labyrinth Lord (OSR Compatible)

I have been putting this review off for a long time; if I'd had my head screwed on straight, I would have done so when they were a part of a Bundle of Holding recently.

Slumbering Ursine Dunes, The Misty Isles of the Eld, Fever-Dreaming Marlinko, and What Ho, Frog Demons! are four interconnected modules set in the Hill Cantons setting created by Chris Kutalik, the setting is also detailed in his Hill Cantons blog, and in the Hill Cantons Compendium, Hill Cantons Compenduim II, and Hill Cantons Cosmology.

When I finally got tired of keeping up with the slow, painful bloat of Wizards of the Coast-era Dungeons & Dragons, and started looking for fast, fun alternatives in the Storygame and OSR movements, these books came up on my radar pretty early on. And getting a look through them on Questing Beast's YouTube Channel is what eventually pushed me over into grabbing a bunch of OSR games, especially the free version of Labyrinth Lord, and eventually led me to starting this blog.

The Hill Cantons Quartet look damned good thanks to the expert layout and design by the Hydra Cooperative crew and the art from the mighty Luke Rejec (whose opus magnum, Ultraviolet Grasslands and the Black City is the most beautiful TTRPG book it has been my pleasure to own.)

 What really sells them, however is the sheer wierdness of their setting. The Hill Cantons fuse the oddest bits of Jack Vance's Dying Earth series, with Slavic mythology, and liberal dose of Douglas Adams style humor to create a world that feels like somthing lighthearted, imaginitive, wild, and strange. It definitely is not your standard-issue Dungeons & Dragons setting. And playing it can feel like a breath of fresh air.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Game: Review: Blueholme

Author: Michael Thomas
Publisher: Dreamscape Design
System: OSR (B/X) Compatible 
Marketplace (Prentice): DrivethruRPG,
Marketplace (Journeymanne): DrivethruRPG, Lulu

A few months ago Stephen Smith put his World of Wierth campaign on indefinite hiatus, because he was inspired by the Lost Dungeons of Tonisborg and it's many articles on the original play style during the testing phase of the development of Dungeons & Dragons. Mixed with patron play and one-to-one time, he was hoping to create an experience that feels like the player driven, intrigue riddled version of Dungeons & Dragons described therein. There was a catch, however: he didn't want his other players to require The Lost Dungeon of Tonisborg to play. In fact, he desperately wanted them not to have access to the book at all. 

Which, of course, meant that he needed a different set of rules that players could use. He wanted something as close as he could possibly get to the TAZ rules from Tonisborg without copying anything from the book. After looking through a dozen or so retroclones, he decided that Blueholme was the closest to the extremely light and simple feel of that rule set. And so, I have been playing for several months in a campaign that uses both The Prentice and Journeymanne rules for Blueholme.

The Blueholme Prentice Rules imitates the structure of the original Holmes Basic Dungeons & Dragons manual. It provides only enough rules to play from levels 1 to 3. Everything about Blueholme Prentice Rules is an homage to the original Holmes basic, and where possible, is even simpler. It embraces the idea that light rules and a format that encourages rulings instead of rules is a superior form of play.

Blueholme Journeymanne Rules are their own interpretation of what Cook's Expert Dungeons & Dragons rules might have looked like if they had been designed by Holmes with that same eye to simplicity and universality. The rules cover characters from 1st level to 20th.

Normally when I review a role-playing game, iI read the rules, and then I solo play a test designed to help me understand most of the unusual rules mechanics and systems. 

This one is a little different because I I'm coming from it from the position someone who has been playing the game in an almost-RAW format for nearly 6 months.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Seeking the Wisdom of My Readers (complete version!)

The Intrepid was created by taking starship images
From No Man's Sky (©️2017 Hello Games)
And feeding them into Stable Diffusion to
Create retro-80s Scifi graphics 

Blogger's Brain Broke!

When it hit publish last night, blogger spazzed and  deleted an hour's worth of writing and editing! I wasn't aware that only 1/3 of the article was up when I went to bed at 1:00am.

Mea culpa, readers.

Let's try this again....

In my last blog post I mentioned a solo game I was playing and a PC who I couldn't seem to kill.

The project, tentatively named Starfarer, has been a great escape during a time of great uncertainty and stress in my life. 

My original intention for Starfarer was that it would be a No Man's Sky inspired SciFi adventure using the Mythic GME, Star Adventurer, and Alone Among the Stars that I would eventually turn into a solo gaming podcast in the vein of Tale of the Manticore. 

I never intended the game to tell the story of one character.  If anything, I was hoping for the Ship and its mission to be the Stars.

Like the podcasts that helped inspire my solo experiment,  I intended that "no character [would] be sacred, and no character [would] be spared if the dice decide their fate is ay hand."

But The Game Had Other Ideas...

Portrait of Molly created Using Stable Diffusion 
Vis the Imagine App. In Manga style.
One character,  Molly Hyaline,  often got out of situations by the skin of her teeth, surviving most - or all - of the crew, and often the ship. She ended up in conflict with a secret society,  with a price on her head, an experimental ship, unique brain damage that made her almost a null space to psionics, a serial killer stalker, and the enmity of an evil entity of pure thought.