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Sunday, 17 December 2017

Wild West Campaign Update: Shootout at 20 Paces

This week's adventure featured a number of events that happened around East Vegas.

Doc Thomas was kept busy, as in one day there would end up being no less than four shooting survivors. The first two shot each other, over a saloon girl in the Goodlet & Roberts Saloon.

(a real East Vegas saloon)

The third was a guy named Baker, who was shot in the back by a mystery assailant. While he was still unconscious, a deputy came in from the town of Roswell, claiming that Baker was wanted for murder and he was under orders to bring him back dead or alive.

Doc Thomas referred the matter to Hoodoo Brown. Hoodoo was a bit torn, and waited until Baker regained consciousness, when Baker claimed that he had indeed killed a man, but it was in a fair fight. Only the man was the son of a wealthy rancher who owned the town, and if they sent him back he was bound to be executed.

Crazy Miller felt a certain sympathy for the guy and pleaded his case to Hoodoo. Hoodoo in the end said that someone had to disappear: either Baker or the Deputy, and that in either case no one in town could know.

The PCs set up a trap for the Deputy, one meant to test whether he was really here to see justice done, or to just murder Baker, as by now they suspected he was the one who shot Baker in the back in a failed murder attempt.  So they led him to think that Hoodoo wasn't going to turn over the prisoner, to see if he would try a lawful means of appeal, or if he would try to sneak into the Doc's office in the night.

Turned out the Deputy chose the latter. But he spotted the ambush when Kid Taylor botched his sneak, and made a run for it. Unfortunately for him, the PCs knew the town a lot better than the deputy, and they intercepted him at the stables. 
Other Miller's code of honor didn't sit well with just executing a man, so he decided to take the deputy out of town, and give him a gun and a fair shoot-out, which was frankly a badass thing to do. The deputy got the other PCs to give their word that if he won the fight, they'd let him go.

The shootout was tense. It was also one of the rare cases of a 'draw at 20 paces' shootout in the campaign. 
Other Miller took more care with his aim, so the deputy shot first. Both men missed their first shot. The deputy got his second shot off before miller, and landed a bullet into his right knee. But then Miller got the deputy in the head, and he was dead before hitting the ground.

They got Miller over to the clinic; unfortunately, Doc Thomas was already famous for his incompetence. So far he'd managed to not kill any of the three previous patients, but that was because two of them had relatively minor injuries (even so, he managed to make Baker's wound worse for no reason), and the third was a sheer stroke of dumb luck. Miller actually knew that Kid Taylor, who had trained a bit back in Dodge under the old and expert town doctor, was more experienced and he insisted that Kid Taylor treat him.  Unfortunately, Kid Taylor somewhat botched setting the leg, which meant that while Other Miller would survive, he would never be able to run or sprint again. Not that Doc Thomas would have done much better.

There was a whole other subplot this adventure, regarding an old but famous shootist, tired of living, who came to town looking for a gunfight worthy of him and just ended up being killed by a back-shooting piece of human garbage (who would in turn be killed by Doc Holliday, who had refused to give the shootist the fight he'd been looking for). But the PCs pretty much had nothing to do with it.  They knew it was going on, but they just decided to stay the hell away from it. 
That's pretty much just how it goes sometimes: I throw two or three possible adventure seeds into town, and let the players choose what their characters get into.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Solani's Aged Burley Flake 

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Lion & Dragon: Now On Lulu!

So, for most of the week now, Lion & Dragon has been available on RPGnow, in pdf, hardcover, or both!

But DOM Publishing knows that for some of you, the shipping of print editions from RPGnow are not as affordable as from Lulu. DOM probably knows this because of being based in France (which makes all the fake-outrage about my Frogmen all the funnier).

And yes, there's also Frogmen in Lion & Dragon, in the monster chapter.

Anyways, for all of you in Frogland or anywhere else where you'd have a better time shipping through Lulu, I have some good news: the Lion & Dragon hardcover is now available on Lulu!

Yes, you now have the choice of whether you order from one or the other. We make money either way, so it's all cool.

Oh, and lots of you have been telling me how much you like L&D, and I'm super grateful for that. Please keep letting me know what you think of the game, and feel free to post blogs or reviews about it, or to rate the product wherever you bought it, so other people can hear the news too!


Currently Smoking: Dunhill Diplomat + C&D's Crowley's Best

Friday, 15 December 2017

More Info on Lion & Dragon!

So as of today, Lion & Dragon continues to do great on RPGnow! It managed to remain in the top 5 of the Bestselling Titles, and it got as far as #3 today in the best small press.

I figured I should share with you some answers to questions asked over on the threads about L&D on theRPGsite.

One thing some people wanted to know is just what type of D&D Lion & Dragon is based on.

Well, the answer is really none.  It's not strictly speaking cloning any specific TSR edition of D&D. The system is very very different. Characters do not gain set abilities when they level. In the same style as Arrows of Indra, characters can either roll twice from a table for their class or choose once, to see what bonuses they gain when they level.

Here's a few other interesting details about L&D:

-The magic system is totally non-Vancian and based entirely on how real magic was supposed to/thought to work in the medieval period (taken from actual medieval grimoires).  Social class is a very important factor in gameplay. Characters start out as 0-level and have background skills based on their social class and family careers. There's also background events.

-The mechanics of the game aside from magic are not radically different from D&D, albeit with some innovations. Most notably (aside from magic), actual parrying rules that make shields do what they're supposed to do.

-Armor and weapons are based on correct armor for the (late medieval) period. So stuff like brigandine, and not 'leather armor'.

-Magic items, most of which are quite rare, tend to be limited-number or unique objects all based on actual medieval folklore. The monsters are based on actual medieval folklore too.

-There's also an appendix at the back which has random tables for generating encounters/adventures in frontier areas.

So, that gives you a  bit more information about what you can expect from Lion & Dragon. As you can see, it is a new twist on third-wave OSR.  It isn't just another clone. Instead, it's highly innovative within the OSR mold, and designed specifically to emulate Medieval-Authentic worlds of play.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Poker + Fox Dorisco

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Classic Rant: "Real" Magick in RPGs: the MotherFucking Kabbalah

I've spoken about the Kabbalah previously, but I feel like I need to get some more detail in about that; mainly because if there's one thing that can drive a regular person to utter metaphysical "magical insanity" it's the Kabbalah.

The first thing to note is that the Kabbalah that magicians use is not the same as the traditional Hebrew Kabbalah; nor is it the sort of thing Madonna is into; that's a new-age Hollywood version of the Hebrew Kabbalah. Though it can be funny for people in your game to make that kind of mistaken assumption, as its the sort of thing that would drive a magician to rage, if someone says shit like: "Oh yeah I love the kabbalah, i have a special power bracelet, see?"

The Hermetic or Magical Kabbalah is descended from the Hebrew Kabbalah; its point of divergence is when Johannes Reuchlin and a few other Christian writers in the 14th century began to borrow the Kabbalah (which contrary to claims was only a couple of hundred years old at the absolute most at that time), translating it into Latin, and writing commentaries on its virtues that stated to separate it from Judaism. Their intention originally was of course to try to use the Kabbalah to "prove" that Jesus was the Jewish messiah, but the unintentional result of their methodology led to the Kabbalah being transformed into a system that could work outside of an orthodox Jewish religious context, and seemed to reveal a much broader view of the universe than either Judaism or Christianity would offer. It was the Hermetic Kabbalah, teaching something that magicians already were working on but could not as easily explain before the Kabbalah came along to act as a giant "filing system" or index: that everything is connected to everything else, that the universe operates on multiple dimensions where different rules apply in each dimension, and where all of creation is ultimately One, and then None.

The Kabbalah's popularity, and what made the Hermetic Kabbalah central to western magick from that moment on, was that it served as an aforementioned indexing system. It had a practical application, which is what we want to focus on in terms of emulating it for gaming: it lets you try to figure out the secret codes of the universe, and how any one thing connects to any other.

There are two parts to this: the first is the Tree of Life, the giant blueprint of creation. It consists of ten spheres (sephira) with 22 paths connecting it (the same number as there are letters in the Hebrew alphabet, or cards in the major arcana of the tarot). Each of these sephira represent a different level of reality, from the 1st (Kether) that is pure creation, to the 10th (Malkuth) that is what we usually think of as our actual material world. But each of these spheres actually contain within them an aspect of all reality, like a miniature blueprint of the universe within them, so that in each sphere, there's also a tree, making for not 10 but 100 sephira. But beyond that, there are four overall levels to creation, making for not 100 but 400 sephira. And somewhere on these sephira or the paths that connect them you can place absolutely any object, word, colour, phenomenon, or concept; to see what other concepts are basically identical to them, which are very closely related, and which are very far away.

The methods by which to derive this are by correspondence (as in, looking up in tables of correspondences that have already been compiled by others) or by what's called "gematria"; where you calculate the number value of any word, and compare it to other words that have the same value.

Finally, the Tree of Life can also be used as a method to engage in astral travel; where you project yourself in spiritual visions to different levels of the tree, to try to learn or experience the lessons of that level.

So what would all this look like? How would you simulate it in a game?

First of all, an NPC who was caught up in the Kabbalah would probably be frequently doing gematric calculations; either about everything in general (if he was rally batshit obsessed) or about the specific magical works he's doing (magicians tend to use gematria for "proofs", that if they can find something meaningful in the gematric calculations for symbols or words or numbers they've received in operations or visions, it's a "proof" that they're on the right track). Such a magician would be very excited when he made a connection, and would talk excessively about numbers and words and how such and such word "corresponds" to some alchemical concept, or to the planetary spirit of mercury, or to a phrase from the old testament, or whatever.

You might have to, as GM, simulate Gematria. Unless you want to actually become a kabbalist yourself, the best way to do this is probably to bullshit it; have a "kabbalah" skill or use whatever skill is effective in your game, and abstractly imply that the PCs have figured out the number values of words (this isn't hard to do, it only takes a minute or two for anything short of a paragraph), and have looked up in a kabbalistic encyclopedia (very easy to obtain, remember magical books are NOT hard to get) to find that the word corresponds to whatever damned magical concept you want it to in your game. 

You could try to be tricky, for example if the players are dealing with a particular kind of demon, something new or little known, the name of that demon might not be in the encyclopedia; but it could be connected to the name of beelzebub or some other goetic demon, or to one of the qlippothic spheres (oh yeah, the Tree of life ALSO has a "negative" or "qlippothic" realm of broken things that never were, a kind of shattered mirror of the tree of life, from which demons are said to arise - there's shitloads to be done in a campaign with that alone!). They might have to calculate the names of two different things, only to find that they correspond to the same number, to discover that a certain object has power over a certain spirit, for example.

A failed roll can be explained as mistake in the calculation. Anything that isn't in Hebrew has to first be transliterated into Hebrew before you can calculate its number; and that's where errors can easily come in. There's no single agreement for what the value of certain English letters with no Hebrew alphabet should be translated as, or even if they should be skipped. There's no Hebrew F, or E; and while there is a Hebrew A (aleph), a word with an A in it may sometimes have that "A" translated into an aleph, and sometimes ignored, because in biblical Hebrew there are words with an "a" sound in between the consonants without an actual Aleph being there.

Such errors might be discovered, but since most magicians tend to jump to certain conclusions in their work, they may miss some obvious correspondence that way until something they're trying doesn't work or doesn't make sense, after which they'll try to figure out the gematria yet again.

Go overboard with gematria, and pretty quickly you reach "A Beautiful Mind"-levels of near-schizophrenic obsession of seeing connections and deep magical meanings in everyday objects and events. Everything starts to seem metaphysically important.

As for astrally pathworking the tree of life; I think trying to describe pathworking will take up at least an entire entry of this series, but if you want to get ahead of me on that, I'd strongly suggest you read Alan Moore's comic Promethea. The main character goes through a journey up the tree of life in several issues of that series, and its one of the best illustrated descriptions of the type of experiences one can have along the way; no doubt sprung from the recollection of Moore's own pathworkings.


(Originally posted December 9 2011)

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Everybody Loves "Lion & Dragon"! Also, Check Out "Crazy Wizards"!

So the update in brief: yesterday, Lion & Dragon was released for sale on OBS, and it has been a big success!

I personally saw it get as far as #2 on the Bestselling Titles list on RPGnow (it's now at #3, for the moment). Clearly, people were excitedly anticipating this OSR game of Medieval Authentic Roleplaying.  Some for it's non-vancian magic system based on real medieval occultism, some for its details on folklore, culture, etc.; and some for its full on grittiness (one fan described it as "Nightmare Iron-Man Survival Mode", though that's really not how I would describe it... maybe its how someone not used to Old-school might, though).

So if you haven't picked it up yet, go check it out! You only THINK you're playing "medieval fantasy" until you play Lion & Dragon!

But that's not all for today! I know that not everyone is a fan of Medieval-Authentic hyper-realist emulation.... some of you prefer Gonzo!

Lucky for you, I love them both, so today we also have just released RPGPundit Presents #11: Crazy Wizards!

Jeez, seriously? We've done 11 of these already?

Anyways, "Crazy Wizards" is a collection of a brief biography of 10 different utterly Crazy Wizards! You get their backstory, and each one comes with either a new spell, a new magic item, or more!

There is:
Fuxi and his Plastromancy spell (material component: setting a turtle on fire)

Shivarud and his Death Dance

Tyanus and his Rainbow Transfiguration

Joe the All-Powerful and his stolen magic items

Plantina, Mistress of Spiders

Master Dong, and his Eight-Element Circle of Reflection

Manny the Neutral, and his Cone of Neutrality

Gabal Godkiller and his Aura of Menace

The Sea Priestess and her table of random swords

Honorius III and his Grimoire

So go check out "Crazy Wizards" on DTRPG for just $1.99! Or the Precis Intermedia store for the same price.

Also, while you're at it, be sure to check out the earlier issues of RPGPundit Presents:

RPGPundit Presents #1: DungeonChef!

RPGPundit Presents #2: The Goetia

RPGPundit Presents #3: High-Tech Weapons

Stay tuned for more next week!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti half-volcano + H&H's Chestnut

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Lion & Dragon: Medieval-Authentic Roleplaying is AVAILABLE NOW!

Hey all!  It went live faster than expected, but Lion & Dragon is already available on RPGnow!  And I take it as a very good sign that without any real promotion from my part yet, in the first 18 hours or so from its release, it's already made it to #4 of the hottest titles on rpgnow. 

If you would rather get it from Amazon or Lulu, those options will be coming, soon. But if you don't care how you get it and you just want this game RIGHT NOW, go get it!

Lion & Dragon is a Medieval Authentic OSR game. Until now, you only thought you were playing "medieval fantasy"!

With Lion & Dragon, the rules of the original tabletop RPG have been adapted to create a more historically authentic medieval experience, to reflect the grittier and yet more mythic world of a magical medieval Europe.

L&D includes new rules governing social class and materials on culture to help a GM craft a world that feels closer to the world of the 100-years war or the War of the Roses. It has a grittier and more dangerous feel to reflect the cheapness of life at the time. Also included are sections on medieval economics, law & justice, and chapters with monsters and magical items based on authentic medieval legends. Finally, a completely revamped magic system is based on actual grimoire-magic as the medieval magicians really envisioned it.

From the creator of Dark Albion, Lion & Dragon will have you discovering real medieval fantasy for the very first time.


Currently Smoking: Neerup peach + Image Virginia

Monday, 11 December 2017

"El Fregadero!"

My sourcebook on The Kitchen Sink, with complete rules for covering interesting and fascinating OSR kitchen-sinks (or fountains, or whatever) to put in Dungeons, has now been released in Spanish.

You can pick it up as "El Fregadero!", which I find fairly funny, just because that's not the word you'd use for a kitchen-sink over in Uruguay.
Here, we'd call it a Pileta. Of course, others might confuse that with a swimming pool.

Ah well, Spanish is complicated.

Pick up El Fregadero on the Precis store or over on DTRPG.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Volcano + Blue Boar