Saturday 31 January 2015

How To Gamemaster Like A Fucking Boss, a Kickstarter by Venger Satanis

Cover art by: HELMUTT

If you have read Liberation Of The Demon Slayer and The Island Of Purple-Haunted Putrescence you know that both adventures include house-rules and some GM tips from the author, +Venger Satanis.

Now he is putting out a full guide how to GM like a fucking boss. What does it mean.

The Game Master secrets of Venger Satanis. I'll teach you how to become a better Game Master. Not just better... one of the best.
Bold claims, I say. But I am intrigued. I have enjoyed Venger's style of writing in LotDS and
TIoP-HP and even though I wouldn't use all the house-rules he's included in these books I think those are very solid and not bad at all.

Because of those facts I know about Venger's writing I think this could be a good book also.

I already have enjoyed Quick Primer For Old School Gaming (by Matthew Finch) what was an awesome tutorial for me to understand the differences of old-school and modern Dungeons & Dragons. Also The Referee book in the Grindhouse Edition boxed set of Lamentations of the Flame Princess is really good also teaching a lot of running games.

Does How To Gamemaster Like A Fucking Boss teach you tricks to be an awesome DM? Is it for newbies or could it make anyone shine? Is it full of obvious? Is it full of itself? You have to read the link and make your own decision for that.

I think it is inexpensive, so it doesn't hurt to get it. And I think that part of being a good DM is to learn and read a lot about DM methods and how other DMs run games. You don't have to use everything from everyone, but extra knowledge never hurts.

And Venger promised that interior artwork will be best amongst the DM guides.

Am I going to get this, you ask? For sure!

Hulks & Horrors character spreadsheet

Here's a spreadsheed I created for Hulks & Horrors roleplaying game. Easy to edit in drive. Downloadable in many formats (Microsoft Excel, Open Document Sheet, PDF...)


Download here.

Friday 30 January 2015

Attribute checks with six-sided dice

I replaced normal (basic/expert style) Attribute checks with this:

Ancient Roman bone dice


Roll D6s under your Attribute score to success.


How many dice, how easy it is to roll under, is determined by the difficulty of the task.

Easy - 2D6
Normal - 3D6
Hard - 4D6
Extreme -5D6

Double Sixes Always Fail

No matter how many dice you roll, two sixes is always an failure.

Wild Die

If the character class should know how to do it, roll an extra die of different color - wild die. Wild die result can be used to replace any other die result.


How many people can help in a task depends on the situation, space around it, individual capability, etc. All additional participants' Attribute modifiers are added together and divided by three. This is extra wild dice that can be used.


Example 1: Roger the Thief tries to remember very hard has he heard anything about weird incidents in the city sewers. The town is quite big and Roger is familiar with it, so the task should be easy (2D6). For the fun of it, Charisma score is used. Roger rolls 4 and 6 (10), under his Cha of 12 and has heard rumors considering the sewers...

Example 2: William the Fighter tries to bend bars of the cage his fellow adventurers are locked in. The bars are rusty, so 3D6 are rolled against his Strength. Other characters locked inside will help him, with total Strength bonus of 4, so they add one wild die. William, as a Fighter is supposed to do tour de forces, so he adds another wild die from his class.

Example 3: Time is running out when a friend is suffering severe magical poisoning. Time cannot be wasted but there are just so many books in this arcane library. Magic-User Matthew rolls 4D6 trying to score under his Intelligence. But he knows them books, getting a wild die to help his task.

Example 4: Weird old engine of ancient dwarves. All the pieces seem to be collected, but now it is time to assemble it. The adventurer party of four puts their heads together and start the job. Difficulty is extreme, 5D6, but at least they get three wild dice. Intelligent ladies they are.


Praedor roleplaying game by Burger Games, +Ville Vuorela
Liberation of the Demon Slayer by Kort'thalis Publishing, +Venger Satanis

[Review] Liberation Of The Demon Slayer


(Puple-Haunted italic commentary by Venger Satanis)

Venger to the left.
Liberation of the Demon Slayer to the right.
I have been so excited about this product and finally bought it last year. Read it and had mixed feelings about it until I “got it” and really, really enjoyed it. I have to thank Venger Satanis for openly discussing of LotDS and for Kirwyn correcting my comment about “a hot mess” to “a hot mess of awesome” (or something like that! It’s a pain to scroll back G+ post discussions so correct me if I quoted you wrong).

There is tons of awesome and few problems. This is Venger’s first big publication so I am gentle. Gentle but honest.

For me this will be the first RPG book I am going to make markings on. I never do it, so LotDS will be a gate for the world of making RPGs even more usable and accessible on the table.

Also I wanted Venger to comment on my review to make it review/interview/discussion type of thingie. His unedited comments are IN PURPLE. Enjoy.

Looking Good

Hang in there, mr. headline!
Otherwise looking good.
The cover is very nice, illustration very good (not safe for work because nudity), maps by Dyson Logos great (as always) and layout looks clear and text easy to read. One annoying thing is a light grey shade of a tribal tattoo styled logo on every page. It looks like an annoying shadow and it is always there no matter how you turn the book to the light.

Not only is there nudity of the female human (or perhaps half-elf) variety - she’s chained to the floor before some shoggoth-like entity the K’tulu cultists are worshiping.  The High Priest is giving a sermon, reading from some moldy, forbidden tome; he’s taking a break from whipping her with some kind of tentacle flail.  So, it’s nudity plus BDSM adult situation.

As for the Kort’thalis sigil, I personally think it’s one of the coolest aspects of the layout.  As long as the text is still legible, I don’t see a problem.  Obviously, not everyone will agree.

You are right about the sigil. It is not a flaw, it is a feature and design decision. I don’t like it for the reason I said (looks like a shadow that never goes away). But I don’t want people to think here that it’s very dominating feature. No it isn’t. There’s far more worse than this!

There are some layout problems also what could have been easily avoided. Loose headings should not happen. Problems are minor and few and most of the product is easy to read.

Regarding the loose headings, etc: yeah, it’s not perfect.  I’m not sure if this was Ed’s (the layout guy) first big project, too.  Thankfully, we’ve grown together and the overall appearance of my books keeps getting better.  

Also I do remember you explaining that you had busy time in personal life at the time of publication of LotDS. Also you do have a good author’s page where you discuss LotDS.

Maps Are Lovely, Map Keys Suck

One big thing in an adventure like this are maps. You need them. Maps are gorgeous but map keying is screwed! There are no clear markings from where you get to what floor. In some cases even not in text. And in some cases when it’s on the text it’s later, not earlier what would be better to understand the general dungeon layout.

Gorgeous map. Keys need custom work.
Also the map keys are screwed in my opinion. Sometimes how they are laid doesn’t make any sense. Next to each others can be totally random things what can make the dungeon feel like a christmas calendar. And then there is this [see the map to the right]. See, F and L are both in the same room. They are in different ends but still. E and F have same content, slaver’s lair. So E can be slaver’s lair but so is F. L, M and N are kobold army. Is there something wrong with me or is that just stupid? I think that map keys work better if they are erased and rearranged.

Yes, there are a few inconsistencies.  Here’s how not to publish an adventure: 1) Write all the encounters out first.  2) Get someone to draw all the maps for you independently of what you’ve written.  3) Fill in the numbers later and try to match everything up.  Unfortunately, that’s what happened.  Definitely a learning experience.

Ideally, the entire book should be a loose conglomeration of ideas for the Game Master to mix, match, and use as a spring-board for his own creation.  In my 30 years of Game Mastering, I’ve probably only used an adventure “as written” a handful of times.  I always put my own spin on things, my 15% that truly makes it my own.

Now I must ask Venger something: How different ways have you used LotDS yourself? I mean you obviously as an author don’t run it by-the-book and you if anyone knows what to do with it. It is obvious for the background details and setting premises that LotDS is not only an adventure you put out for the giggles. It is something more.

Many things you see in the book were improvised during various playtest sessions and included because they seemed either more natural or more weird and wild.  Liberation of the Demon Slayer is my attempt to create something that feels old and familiar while still being new and strange.

More Than You Paid For

But before you go into the dungeon you get brief explanation of the setting where LotDS is placed. The setting is swords & sorcery in feel and doesn’t go into much detail. This can be generic adventure you can place in any setting (well, in theory) but still the default setting information is cool. It’s always great to read small things like this to understand what’s in author’s head.
You also get some house-rules what is great. I love adventures what give something to use even if the adventure is played through several times. It is everyone’s own decision what house-rules to use or what to ignore but I think most, if not all, of these are very solid.

Also reasons for adventuring is good addition so I don’t have to figure out alone why player characters should engage this adventure. Again, meta information from the author how he thought things.

Dark secrets and character backgrounds are also great addition!

The Dungeons

The dungeon complex is 6 levels deep but the adventure why you most likely delve in can be done in the first level. So why the extra levels then? I have to say that here discussion with Venger helped me to understand the idea.

There’s also a ½ dungeon in another realm/planet/dimension which can break up the monotonous dungeoncrawling if the Game Master wishes to use it.

Illustration is great! There's also amateur-ish pencil
pictures, but I also like those a lot.
You can run this adventure in a single night, or a con or something. Because the adventure, well the “mission” is in the first level. But the five levels beyond are extra. Characters could have many reasons to venture further: greed, getting stuck in first level and trying to find another way out, even a new “mission”, different factions interact with characters (yes, there are factions), explore as a player using characters as chess pieces…

So basically you get one adventure and one dungeon level and five dungeon levels extra! Cool! There could have been some adventure hooks (one sentence) for the rest of the content, though. Yeah yeah GMs can easily make up stuff, but I am talking meta-information from the author again. How author used it.

The levels are interesting and different from each other. Not all encounters want to eat your face as there are different factions within. There are also cultists, demons, strange things to explore, treasure (maybe could be more treasure, eh?), and even a level you cannot access before you make it accessible.

In my opinion, there’s actually quite a bit of treasure throughout the adventure.  Especially if you count the weird shapes of color.

Well, true. I ment “traditional” treasure, like gold and jewels laying around. This thought of lacking treasure basically was because there’s always a group motivated by the glittering stuff you can buy better stuff. Still, it is not hard to add boring and traditional gold, is it. This is not a flaw, but a feature.

This is not just a dungeon, it is a playground, kind of a sandbox in caves if you stretch the idea further.

Most of the content is damn cool and awesome. Some of the content feels a little random but what I’ve read old-school adventures (the real ones) this was the style back then. So LotDS emulates pretty well old-school dungeon exploration with weird and cool.

Weird and cool are swords, sorcery and science. With healthy dose of cultists and mythos style monsters.

Why Get It?

If you ignore the biggest flaws (can’t say that layout problems are a big deal BUT map keys are a big thing for me) you will get some rules material you can use in other games later, six dungeon levels, lots of stuff for players to do, and an one floor adventure.

If you like mythos and swords and sorcery and science and slaves and monsters and demons and don’t mind nudity and not safe for work content (women being tortured, sex slaves, cannibalism) I highly recommend this.

Also this is highly compatible product as long as you know what AC, HD etc. are. Stat blocks are minimalistic (which is good).

Thanks for the review.  I love reading session reports and actual play posts of my work, so let me know after you’ve experienced Liberation of the Demon Slayer, The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence, and Revelry in Torth.  

Oh yes, I also love to read play reports of the products I am interested in or have reviewed! And I’ll propably write about LotDS when I run it. Maybe trying out Swords & Wizardry with it. Any advices for me how to make LotDS fucking awesome? I mean it is awesome and all, but you do have some tricks inside your sleeves, don’t you?

The idea mentioned in the book of using the adventure as a meat-grinder might be worth pursuing - if players had multiple zero-level or 1st level characters.  You could give Kalthalax a powerful motivation like becoming god of the dungeon.  Maybe it’s not so much a demon-slaying sword as it is a demonic sword trying to open a dimensional rift into Hell?

I like the idea of my books being somewhat compatible with each other.  I think ideas from The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence could be used in Liberation and ideas from Liberation could be used in conjunction with Revelry in Torth, etc.

Venger Satanis with Liberation of the Demon Slayer

Buy at DriveThru. Both print and PDF.

Venger's blogposts about LotDS here.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Hulks & Horrors Redshirt Template And NPC Quick Generator

Redshirts in Hulks & Horrors roleplaying game are a character class for those fresh characters who cannot qualify to be any of the seven classes. Instead of re-rolling there is an option to play a redshirt class. They are weak but learn a stat point in every level until they can qualify for a class and get "promoted" to that class.

This document gives DMs a quick rules to create NPC redshirts (something like "henchmen" in fantasy editions) and a character tracking sheet.
First table shows HD/level, to-hit modifier and HP for redshirt. Either choose what level redshirt NPC you would like to create OR roll % dice to see what level redshirt you got.
Example: Rolling 83 gives HD/LVL 3 redshirt with +1 to-hit and 9 HP, unless you want to roll the HP using 3D6.

Firearms are rolled with 1D10. One firearm per redshirt. How much ammunition, shots, the redshirt has for his gun is rolled 3D10 minus roll result of firearm.
Example: Result 8 gives redshirt Naval Pumpgun and 3D10 - roll result 8 five shots for it.

Melee weapons are rolled like firearms. One per redshirt.

Armor are rolled using D6. It's more likely that a redshirt is unarmored (he's got a red uniform, though. Or any other kind of uniform his job fashions).

Other equipment is given for the redshirt. If a redshirt is hired he possesses a firearm, a melee weapon and possibly an armor. NPC redshirts player characters encounter have the equipment DM gives them.

NPC tracker is used for created redshirts. # is basically identification for additional notes and information. HP is current HP.

Feel free to download! There might be version updates (1.0 at the time writing this), or not.

Sunday 25 January 2015

[LL] Dwarven warriors of Longland stats

Not perfect but it worked fine printed in my game. There's attack "battle yell" but for some reason I forgot to include it! How embarrassing!

So, here it is:

Battle Yell Of Longland Dwarven Warriors

Once a day a dwarven warrior of Longland can make a battle yell. It costs one round to perform but next save roll is automatically succeeded. Duration: 1 hour.

Thursday 22 January 2015

The Wandering Moon Fixer (for S&W and other OSR)

THE WANDERING MOON FIXER (for Swords & Wizardry and other old-school roleplaying games)
HD: 17
AC: 7 [12]
Attacks: none
Saving Throw: 3
Special: See below
Move: 12
Alignment: Neutral
Challenge Level/XP: 1/3500

Standing 100 feet tall this faceless man wanders the shores knee deep in the water. He wails deeply and eerily trying to collect moon reflection from the water, reaching high. But he never can put moon reflections back above.

He is forever sad disappearing in deep sea following the settling moon.

Saturday 17 January 2015

[Review] The Grinding Gear from LotFP

I am writing another review at the moment, but when I browsed google plus I found out that The Grinding Gear (TGG for now on) is currently pay-what-you-want at RPGNow. So I got it (even beat the average amount of gold pieces). I decided to review it immediately as I read it. So if the review is a bit weird and disorganized it's supposed to be like that.


The zip file comes with two folders. These folders are for A4 and letter size files. Good for US and EU guys who want to print this.

The cover is very cool. Layout is simple, well you cannot call that layout because there is no tricks. One column is not my favorite to read. This is older product (2009) so it is understandable. But if you know today's LotFP publishing standards TGG looks very rough.

Few pieces of interior art are nice if you like the cover.

Maps are functional and quite nice. They don't look professional but I like these maps more than those computer generated maps.

The book starts with author's notes about the adventure and introduction for referee which both explain this adventure. There is a suggestion not to change anything, because that's the point of adventures you buy to give different styles to run besides your own style. I quite agree with this. This claim might sound a little dickish but hey, you change stuff if you want to, at least this gives you something to think about and consider not modifying it. For me this simple sentence was a good advice.

Also it is stated here that this adventure will be tough. If you know LotFP you should know that already.

I just realized that it is not too long ago when I thought that I'd like James Raggi to write adventures again. He does publish awesome stuff but it's been a while since he wrote anything. This is not new but now I got something Raggi wrote I haven't read before. And baaaaaack to the topic...

The adventure is very easy to drop in your campaign (setting). Inns are generic, ammirite? Also this adventure is for adventurers! Not in meta, but in-game-setting-lore. Nice. It does not tell how to get players involved though. But it should be easy enough. You can just use the oldest motive in dungeon delving ever: treasure!

There are random encounters what might give nice roleplaying opportunities. Good, because random encounters what are 100% just monsters that bite you are a little dull in my opinion.

In this adventure there are still bits more fantastic than current LotFP line of 17th century Europe. Not too much, though, to make this a Lord of the Rings gone wrong.

The adventure might be deadly and dangerous, but if you are careful, clever and a little lucky this is not impossible. There are lots of interesting and fun bits and you need to investigate to advance. Really. Because puzzles.

There are some nasty tricks you can't do nothing about it. Especially one part where you must save, save, save, and save or take damage. That's your decision though so it is not forced against you. But still. If your character has lots of HP that can be exciting, but first level dudes don't want any kind of damage die to be rolled against them. Many of the traps are not invisible so careful advancing and some thinking might save your butt several times. If you run around like a jerk opening every door you just dig blood from your nose.

The dungeon is kinda random, with different content in every room. It's basically the point of this adventure, though. The content is not too random (zombies in this room, orcs playing chess in next, acid pit trap ooze beyond etc.) and it varies nicely trying to keep a theme going on. This dungeon is a trick place in the game world, so it is not just a meta-challenge.

This feels like a solid dungeon adventure where there is challenge and fun things. Not fun like amusement part but fun like great one evening's session. Traps, treasures, tricks... it's all there. Obviously I haven't ran this (seriously, bought, opened, started reading and writing this) but I bet this is easy to run in a table. I don't like complicated adventures what are unclear and what you need to memorize inside out and do a book worth of notes to make it run smooth. This is not an adventure like that.

Also the writing is very good. I enjoyed reading this a lot. I like James' writing style. It is... just easy and simple but not cheap.

And the last puzzle is evil! You need to know stuff. I can imagine players brainstorming around a table. I love it. I'd love to hear how many player groups have passed these.

Oh and there's a "cheatsheet" PDF what explains the dungeon so it isn't just a "this after that because challenges". This is mainly meta-information for Referees who might think that this is a "christmas calendar" with random stuff just because fuck you that's why. This file was very informative though, because I was wondering about those horses in good condition...

Get this if you want to know what LotFP dungeons were back then. This is a great dungeon what is more like old Dungeons & Dragons material than new LotFP products what "try too much". And by trying too much I don't mean that they are bad. I mean that production values are cranked to 11, everything is big and flashy and the "weird" is gore and guts and boobies.

The Grinding Gear is a dungeon. Where adventuring characters go because they want treasures, they want to adventure, and because players around the table want to have fun exploring it.

The concept is simple and the amount of fun is huge.

You want a dungeon to run, go get this.

Available at LotFP store and RPGNow.