A New Dawn: Fantasy vs Reality

Last night, during a fit of insomnia, I woke up to check Twitter, and saw Anonymous, a rep for the network of international cyberpunk activists, was tweeting, so I decided to sit back and read.  With no surprise, I saw that he/she/it (could be an advanced AI for all we know) was talking about the hot topic – gun law reform.

During the tweetstorm (steady amount of tweets with occasional gun nuts), this tweet appeared:

Like some, at first I thought it was something I could Google search.  But with no satisfactory answers found, I decided to just sit back and read the post again.  Simple challenge.  Some obscure news article would not be simple.  So I asked myself, When was the last time I saw an American citizen with an assault rifle fending off “an illegal deadly hostile invading force”, who at the same time, did not kill innocents?  Wait.  I got it!


Red Dawn.  A movie that could be described as a pro Second Amendment propaganda film by some, a realistic enactment by others, or a social science fiction film by me, is about a foreign country invading and occupying the USA mainland, so young citizens have to fight back, guerilla/militia/survivalist style, with their legally purchased assault rifles to defend The American Way.  It is about as believable as The Purge.

I swear only two seconds went by after I tweeted when I got a like from Anonymous him/her/itself!  Being from the American Midwest, we tend to freak out when interacting with celebrities, so this really made my night.  I had not been this excited since the gorgeous Altered Carbon actress Hannah Rose May replied to me on one of her Instagrams.

I then went back to sleep, thinking about Red Dawn.  It is a movie about high school students fighting people (foreign invaders) who threaten their existence with guns by using their own guns (which is how some people say it should be in reality).  Today, we have high school students fighting people (gun lobbied politicians and their rich cronies) who threaten their existence with guns by using their own voices, desperately wanting to be heard.  It is almost surreal and quite numbing, how the same people that can cheer for the fantasy of students fighting for their lives in Red Dawn could be so against the reality of students fighting for their lives in Florida.

Let us take a rest from cheering for Red Dawn’s Wolverines to cheer for Eagles instead, and their fight for gun reform.  Let us make this a new dawn.  Eagles!



Trying out Real World Occupations for DCC

So, I am very excited about Mike Evans’s latest project, a mega-dungeon for Dungeon Crawl Classics based on The D&D Animated Series.  His first blog post for the project was a table so that the Level-0 characters have real world occupations.  Thus, I am posting today my rolling of a Level-0 character using the table, as well as another article I found useful.

In true DCC fashion, I rolled 3d6 and put them down in order.  I was amazed by the results.

11 Strength
16 Agility (+2)
9 Stamina
9 Personality
9 Intelligence
16 Luck (+2)

However, my real-world luck crapped out on me when I rolled a 1 for my Hit Points.

I could not contain myself any longer after that, and had to try out Mike’s Real World Occupations table.  I rolled a Medium, which starts out with a ceremonial blade (the DCC rulebook comments that ceremonial blades are like daggers), a book of spiritual signs, and a book of (her) horoscopes for the current year (2017).

Next, I was going to roll my Birth Auger, but recalled the article from the Goodman Games Gen Con 2016 Program Guide, 1970’s Earth Characters for DCC by Dieter Zimmerman, had an Astrology Table that replaced the Birth Auger Table.  Due to the horoscope book my Medium was carrying, in true DIY RPG fashion, I decided to roll on the Astrology Table, and found out my Medium was a Leo, which gave a bonus to Hit Points at each level, increasing the Hit Points to 3.

As long as I had the article pulled up, I liked the idea of replacing the starting copper pieces with $, so rolled that up ($38 – good luck with the currency exchange – LOL) and used the article’s Personal Items Table, which got me a notebook and a paperback novel (which I decided to be Almuric by Robert E. Howard).


For finishing touches, I decided to name her Malena.


Got Published!

I found out that Dungeon Lord Magazine came back, and in the Cruel Issue, the article I wrote, ‘Your Animal and You’, was published.  In this article, I give statistics for all of the Dungeon Crawl Classics animals a Level-0 character may start with, along with some ideas on how to make having the animal a more rewarding experience.

This was a lifelong dream for me, and I am so happy that I can now say I am a published author.  I thank Terra Frank of Death Machine Press so much for giving me this opportunity.

Dreamblade to Dungeon Crawl Classics Conversion: Baxar the Soulstitcher

I created this conversion for Doug Kovacs at his request because he is one of the greatest artists of our generation.  Dreamblade will always be important to me, as the volunteer demo work I did for Dreamblade earned me a trip to Wizards of the Coast for the Dreamblade Day event in 2006.

Dreamblade Day

That’s me in the lower right.

Baxar the Soulstitcher is a unique rare from the first Dreamblade expansion, Baxar’s War, which was one of many created by Doug Kovacs.  Some players were disappointed due to the leader of the Stitched not being designated of the Stitched lineage, meaning it would not be affected by the lineage abilities some of the other miniatures had.


The Unwholesome Lord, Baxar the Soulstitcher

Init +5        MV 30′

AC 19          HD 10d10          Act 2d20

AL C           Atk scythe-hand x2 +5 melee (1d10)

SP Soul Stitch

SV Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +10

On late nights, when veteran adventurers are exchanging stories over flagons of sacred mead and by blessed beeswax candlelight to protect them from being overheard by the powers of Chaos, those whose bravery and status which granted them presence will sometimes hear of The Unwholesome Lord, Baxar the Soulstitcher. Described as a monster with a metallic, insectoid exoskeleton, with blades and skulls all over, and the lower body like a giant snake, ending in what appears to be some sort of stinger (but in actuality, it is a spinneret which provides the stitching material), it is difficult to picture the reality of such a thing. It is believed that Baxar holds at least one level of a mega-dungeon deep under the ground as his dark domain. The origin of Baxar is said to be a summoning of dreamstuff from the collective subconscious dream-realm of the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad and The Great Old Ones, which then used its power to stitch together its own body from those who summoned it.

Baxar enjoys killing, but only because it gives him the materials to soul stitch. At any time out of combat when there are at least two dead creatures that received at least one successful attack by Baxar (or slice after they are dead), Baxar wills the parts it has sliced off to be stitched together into a monster of Chaos, which will be at least a little mad (in both emotional and mental health) due to having not just its bodies, but its souls stiched into one. Such creations, like Baxar, will have stitches visible upon them. It is believed that the stitches are made up of a precious metal, although this could be just a rumor created by Baxar to lure more bodies into his realm.

The statistics for Soul Stitched creatures can be made up in a number of ways, and it is recommended that other Dreamblade miniatures of the Stitched lineage be used as such creatures already created by Baxar, including his greatest creation, Marian, one of Baxar’s few intelligent creations, made up of an angel and a demon, but that will have to be a post for another day.


Cyber Sprawl Classics

I will be taking a break from Gamma-Hacked! until summer comes, as I have difficulty relating to a scorching hot post-apocalyptic future when it is below zero outside.  Therefore, I will be blogging about another one of my projects, Cyber Sprawl Classics.

Cyber Sprawl Classics is something I came up with in August of 2015, in which I had the idea of merging the Dungeon Crawl Classics rules to a cyberpunk setting.  I had started working on this idea in a private Google Plus group, but I “hit the wall” once I got to realizing how massive the project would become, as I wanted to create the foundation of an original cyberpunk setting along with the rules, but not detailed to a point where the game master could not meld it best for his gaming group.  The Hubris Campaign Setting by Mike Evans has been such an inspiration to me in this regard, and I treat this as the bar of what is desired in the final version.

Another reason why this is going to be a monumental task is because I had the idea of having a character class called ‘Suits’, the corporate management businessman type, who would work for a powerful Mega-Corporation, and I wanted this class to be similar in game mechanics to how Wizards serve a powerful Patron.  When the great Harley Stroh said this was a very clever idea, I knew I had something here.  Determining how to execute the idea has taken a lot of work.

While figuring out how to get the answers I needed as to what Cyber Sprawl Classics should be, I recalled that Joseph Goodman said he read the entire Appendix N (from the Dungeon Master’s Guide by Gary Gygax, titled Inspirational and Educational Reading) to come up with the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.  That is when I decided in order to come up with what I wanted Cyber Sprawl Classics to be, I needed to go through a cyberpunk version of Appendix N.  Over time, I put together a list of the movies, books, comics, established game settings, television shows, web series and music I felt belonged on that list.  As everyone likely has their own list of what their cyberpunk Appendix N would be, and since I do not want to get off the project by getting into why a certain item is included or excluded, I will not post the list in its entirety anytime soon, but odds are if you follow cyberpunk, then I am sure our lists are quite similar.

To finish today’s post, I will share one of the more recent additions to the list with you all.

The Esper Class for Gamma-Hacked!

So, in ‘Gamma-Hacked!’, humans are divided into two different groups.  The Pure Strain Humans are descendants of the humans that were safely inside underground bunkers and vaults, and have been able to preserve their genetic code throughout the centuries.  The Mutated Humans are those who were caught in The Cataclysm, yet by some miracle they somehow survived, albeit at the expense of their DNA getting scrambled.

Most Mutated Humans are physically deformed in some way, but some end up being born superior to humans.  The Esper is one such example.  While The Esper appears mostly to be a frail human with some minor physical mutated trait (their eyes are different colors, or there might be hair where there should not be, or no hair where there should), The Esper is born with mental mutations that can make them powerful, although they usually find it is best to keep such powers hidden from the general populace, as their mental mutations sometimes make them feared.  Nevertheless, there are always those who will pay much for an Esper to aid them.

Starting HP: d4 + 4HP
Per Level/Resting: 1d4
Weapons & Armor: Daggers, Knives, Slings, Hide Armor, and Shields
Attack Damage: 1d4/1 Unarmed or Improvising

Have Advantage on saves against other’s Mental Mutations.

The Esper has 1d5 Mental Mutations.  See Esper Mental Mutations (below).

Roll to see if attributes increase; roll twice for INT or WIS.

WEAPON: Dagger, knife or sling
ARMOR: Hide armor or shield
ADDITIONAL: stones for sling (if chosen), rations (1 week), lantern, 1d6 flasks of oil, compass.

INTERESTING TRINKET (roll 1d6): 1) earphones; 2) military medal; 3) portable electric firestarter; 4) holocube containing Ancient home videos; 5) start capacitor; 6) audio CD

Level 1 has 1 use/day.
Level 2 has 2 uses/day.
Level 3 has 4 uses/day.
Level 4 has 5 uses/day.
Level 5 has 7 uses/day.
Level 6 has 9 uses/day.
Level 7 has 10 uses/day.
Level 8 has 13 uses/day.
Level 9 has 15 uses/day.
Level 10 has 17 uses/day.

When The Esper uses one of their Mental Mutations, an INT test is made to see if the attempt is successful.  The target must be Nearby or closer to be in range of the Mental Mutation.  Unless otherwise stated, any Mental Mutation being active after the first round requires the concentration of The Esper.

Beguiling: A Nearby target considers The Esper a friend and obeys his commands.  Test WIS each turn to see if the effect lasts.

Confusion: The target is confused for 2d6 rounds.  Each round, roll 1d6.
1 – Urinates
2 – Curls into a fetal position
3 – Walks in a random direction
4 – Attempts to destroy closest object
5 – Attacks an enemy at random
6 – Attacks closest creature

Death Field Generation: All living things Nearby, including The Esper, lose 1d4+4 HP.  Any living thing reduced to 0 HP is killed instantly (again, including The Esper).  If The Esper survives, he is able to regain HP lost due to his own Death Field Generation at 1 HP per hour.  The Esper can only use this power once per week.

Density Control Others: Makes another living creature either half or twice its size, but the same weight.  Those shrunk have their movement reduced by half and Attackers suffer a Disadvantage.  Those grown have their movement doubled and Attackers gain an Advantage.  Those affected return slowly to normal over 8 hours rest.

Displacement: Unlike most other Mental Mutations, this one is attempted automatically if The Esper ever believes himself to be in mortal danger.  If the INT test is successful, The Esper teleports himself Far Away from his current position to wherever The Esper believes to be the safest position.  This power can only trigger once per hour.  This power does not trigger if The Esper has no uses left.

Empathy: The Esper can read the emotions of a living creature, or force an emotion (such as courage, fear, love, hatred, or happiness) onto it.  However, keep in mind that some living creatures may not act solely on their emotions.  If an emotion is forced onto a creature, test WIS each turn to see if the emotion lasts.  Concentration each round is not required.

Force Field Generation: The Esper creates an invisible barrier around him that can absorb 20 points of damage and regenerates 5 points each round.  The force field collapses after 5 rounds, if it loses all its points or if The Esper becomes stunned or unconscious.  The Esper is unable to interact physically with anything, including making physical attacks, but can use its other Mental Mutations while the force field is up.

Life Detection: The Esper can sense any living creature Far Away or closer.  The Esper can only use this Mental Mutation once per hour for one round.

Life Leech: The Esper drains the life essence out of all living creatures Close and Nearby, causing them to lose 1d4 HP for up to five rounds, if The Esper is able to pass the INT test each round.  The Esper gains the HP the living creatures lost, which heals The Esper to full HP, then creates extra HP which stays with The Esper for four hours, after which the extra HP dissapates.  The Esper can only use this power once per day.

Mental Blast: The Esper can mentally attack the mind of a Far Away or closer living creature, doing 1d6 damage/level.

Mental Invisibility: The Esper can force all living creatures Nearby, friends and foes alike, to not see, hear or smell The Esper, blocking him out of their minds, until The Esper turns off the power or til he physically interacts with something or someone that would unblock him, such as attacking a creature, or moving/interacting with an object that could only be explained that The Esper is doing it.

Mental Paralysis: The Esper is able to disconnect all voluntary muscle skills from a living creature’s brain, causing it to collapse.  The creature can still see, hear, think and use any mental powers it has, but cannot move or speak.  Test WIS each round to see if the effect lasts.

Mental Reflection: If targeted, this Mental Mutation automatically triggers an INT test.  If successful, The Esper is able to choose new targets for any Mental Mutation that targets him.  Please keep in mind that users of mental mutations will attempt to turn them off if possible the following round if they are doing something undesirable.  This power does not trigger if The Esper has no uses left.

Molecular Disruption: The Esper is able to disintegrate any object up to 5 cubic feet in size.  If used against a living creature, it does 1d8 HP damage.  The Esper must rest for 4 hours immediately after using this Mental Mutation.

Photokinesis: The Esper can manipulate light, causing one of the chosen effects each round for five rounds:
1) can bend light around him, making him appear invisible to anyone not Close.
2) can either double the damage of a Nearby laser attack or decrease by half the damage of a laser attack, reducing it below the visual spectrum.
3) can block light, “putting out” a Nearby light source.
The Esper can only use Photokinesis once every 4 hours.

Suggestion: The Esper can plant a thought in the mind of a living creature Nearby or closer.  The creature will believe the thought came from itself only if it is something the creature could have conceivably thought on its own.

Telekinesis: The Esper can move Nearby objects within sight with his mind as if he was physically carrying them, using his INT instead of his STR.  Telekinesis can also be used to disarm an opponent, sending the weapon flying out of his hands to a Nearby location.

Telekinetic Flight: The Esper can fly at the same movement speed he has on land for 10 minutes per level.  Concentration each round is not required.

Telepathy: The Esper can either read a Nearby living creature’s mind or transmit his thoughts to another Far Away living creature for up to 5 rounds, although using the latter power will not control the recipient in any way.

Teleportation: The Esper can teleport himself to another location that is Far Away, or Distant if The Esper studied that destination for eight hours within the past month.  The Esper can only use this mental mutation once every 3 hours.

Thermakinesis: The Esper can increase or decrease the temperature of up to a 5 cubic yard area Far Away or closer, causing anything in that area to either burn or freeze for 1d6 HP damage per round for up to five rounds.  Thermakinesis can also be used to reduce Nearby heat and cold attacks by half for up to five rounds.


‘Gamma-Hacked!’ is my first project that I will be blogging about.  Ever since I bought ‘Gamma World: Fourth Edition’ in 1993, I have been a fan of the Gamma World role-playing game and setting.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the maker of ‘Dungeons & Dragons’, TSR, created a post-apocalyptic role-playing game called ‘Gamma World’ as a change of pace from fantasy role-playing.  Described as “science-fantasy” (which means that, while part of the science-fiction genre, the setting is not grounded or based on science at all), this game takes place in the far future – centuries after an event called ‘The Cataclysm’ occurred, which caused nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry to be released on a massive scale, causing global climatic changes and an extremely mutated gene pool.

In this setting, civilization is dawning for the second time after hundreds of years of strife and suffering.  Towns have rediscovered how to make printing presses and gunpowder.  While most sentient species want to rebuild, there are many who still want to destroy, and those who want to rebuild have their own ideas on what this new world should become.  The world is still mostly unexplored and uninhabitable, with much undiscovered technology of The World That Was hidden…and thinking.

When playing Gamma World, the greatest problem I would encounter was that the players would expect their characters to start out with futuristic armor and weaponry.  I always found it bizarre that I had to explain to players that what they were requesting was the equivalent of starting a Dungeons & Dragons campaign with high level magical items.  However, I think the “gonzo” game design within ‘Gamma World’ was partially to blame for this misconception.  My players simply believed that the game master was going to throw such powerful monsters and obstacles at them from the get-go, they assumed their characters would be properly equipped to handle any obstacle in any way they chose.

While I never believed that I should resort to this (upon which the disagreement would usually end a campaign as quickly as it would start), my beliefs were confirmed upon reading Wrathofzombie’s post about how he made his characters realize that, like ‘Gamma World’, ‘Hubris’ is not a setting where you should assume that the game master will bend over backwards to make sure your opponent is designed to be easily vanquished upon the player characters showing up on the scene.

However, do not get me wrong.  I have always believed that the game design could be improved to make ‘Gamma World’ a bit less random and, dare I say, a bit more balanced.  I also wanted to find a way to make ‘Gamma World’ a tad less rules heavy.

One day, while reading Wrathofzombie’s excellent blog, I read his post about a new rules light game system called ‘The Black Hack’ that he had fell in love with so much, he was going to shy a bit away from ‘Dungeon Crawl Classics’.  This made me extremely worried, as leaving a well known game system for a lesser known one had me picturing the demise of his new company, ‘DIY RPG Productions’.  But after checking it out for myself, and seeing what Mike Evans was able to do with the rules in his product, ‘Cyber-Hacked!’, I was convinced he was on the right track, as always.  I then saw that other people were creating products also using ‘The Black Hack’ rules system.  This made me put it together that ‘The Black Hack’ and ‘Gamma World’ could be the perfect marriage (since Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie sure ain’t – Zing!), and thus, my idea for ‘Gamma-Hacked!’ was born.

Now, before anyone decides they need to point it out to me, I do realize that Wizards of the Coast owns Gamma World, and I can never, ever sell ‘Gamma-Hacked!’.  However, I do not believe that to be a sufficient reason to not write what I believe would be an excellent game, such as the DIY RPG Productions product, ‘Into the Wasteland’, which combines the ‘Into the Odd’ rules with the ‘Fallout’ setting.

So, while I have many other ideas I cannot wait to blog about, my upcoming posts will be articles regarding ‘Gamma-Hacked!’.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

First blog post

So, I have been extremely impressed with Wrathofzombie’s blog for a very long time.  I have also been thinking about a way to get my writing out there.  I was going to wait until an article I wrote and got paid for was published in a magazine, but that magazine ended up going out of business.

I was going to use Google Plus at first, but WordPress offers much easier access and like Mike Evans, I can post links there to come here, anyway.

I have had a lot of plans and ideas – works that I have either attempted or planned to get out there.  I had posted articles within a message board community, until I read that any posts within that community became the property of the message board owner.  So, I deleted my own articles, but that caused me to get banned by the message board owner, and she restored them after banning me, giving her ownership again, and my emailed pleas to her asking she grant me ownership of my work never received a reply.

I also met with a local writer and self-publisher who had seemed eager to discuss my ideas.  However, when I arrived at his home, all he did was ask me if I liked Star Wars, then made me watch a horrible dubbed European horror movie from the 1980s.  On top of that, he paused it when he went to go to the bathroom adjacent to the den, and I had to sit in the dark while listening to his urination.  After the “meeting”, he then sent me an email asking me for my name, which was on Google Plus, and had been the initial way I was contacted by him.  Suffice it to say, I blocked this person every way I knew how and moved on.

So, now I am here, where there is nobody to steal my work out from under me and no creepy person to use my desire to be published as a way to get me to watch crappy films with him.  I have many great ideas, and while I am not sure if there is any way I can post the article I sold (I have thought about breaking it down and expanding each section to avoid legal trouble), I am eager to get my writing out to the public at large.