Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tales of Gothic Transylvania - A Gothic Horror Campaign - Actual Play Part II

The PC's dealt with the mysterious air ship hovering over them and playing odd coloured lights about them. They were very nervous to say the least and so was the crowd of the city state that they've been adventuring in.
The lights snapped off and the craft moved silently, ominously away from the city sky line. 
The PC's dealt with weird assassins, odd giant spiders preying on random passers by from above an alley and robbery. 
The PC's have been investigating the disappearance of a merchant prince within a far flung corner of a Gothic Pulp world. 
File:Giovanni Catane - Pair of Flintlock Belt Pistols - Walters 511347, 511348.jpg
After several leads, dead ends, and near run ins with some rather dubious characters the PC's finally managed to track down a weird cleric operating out of some back alley theater. Through a beggar the PC'sd were able to find his domicile.
They did so through the sewers of the city. A rat infested horrorscape of weirdness with all sorts of black nightmare inducing crud was waiting. Noting attacked them but it was quite a bit of fun to see em squirm. 

The Man From Mord-Stavian
File:Govard Bidloo t87.jpg
With this 'beggar''s help they managed to break into this man's apartment which was more like a converted North African funeral temple. There were the usual bubbling apparatus  the bedroom had been converted into a fully functioning funeral alter area complete with a level drained merchant prince close to death. 
File:Berlin Neues Museum - Trauer Relief.jpg
There was also the small matter of the magic mirror that housed a animal headed guardian spirit and the 'other where' dimensional reflection of the place. 
They were able to talk their way into the reflection and found a journal detailing this visitor from 
 Levanti, the capitol city on the River Nilus. 

The 'otherwhere' temple/apartment was covered with strange glyph works of  Hundred Death Gods. 
It seems that this visitor has been passing himself off as a performing priest when in actuality he's a mage of the darkest stripe whose getting ready to bring about the final movement in a diabolical performance to a charmed audience in hundreds.
Can the PC's stop the rite to the 'Hundred Death Gods' in time? (Of course they can't!) But what is he up to and what does this have to do with the level drained merchant prince whose wife now wants nothing to do with him?
Tune in this coming week for more!

“For it is in the arcana of dreams that existences merge and renew themselves, change and yet keep the same.” 
― Bram StokerThe Jewel of Seven Stars

Free OSR PDF Burgs & Bailiffs: Warfare too By Paolo Greco For Your Old School Horror Campaigns

Burgs & Bailiffs: Warfare too By Paolo Greco is a thirty eight page free OSR magazine that injects more of the blood, guts, gore, and more aspects of the old school games. 
Get it right over HERE
Burgs & Bailiffs: Warfare too

The GrimDark Crew does a good job of providing a very tight little pdf in thirty eight pages with almost every single article relating to Warfare within the 
medieval milieu. They even include a character class that manages to evoke the thunder of battle within a very nice short write up. A nice usable write up for a character class. This magazine does its job of creating a feeling of grim and gritty OSR playing style in just thirty eight pages. Its short, sweet, and very well done. They include skirmishing rules, battle field encounters, and much,much more. This is one magazine that doesn't pull any punches. This is very gritty as well as being strictly 'Old School Gothic Medieval'. I was rather pleased to see this style of writing continuing with the second issue. Check it out and you won't be sorry. I look forward to seeing some really interesting stuff from the B&B group in the future.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Free Burgs & Bailiffs [PDF] By Paolo Greco For Your Old School Horror Campaigns

Burgs and Bailiffs is a pretty unusual magazine that actually has articles about the horrors of warfare, disease, and weirdness in the Middle Ages that can easily be slipped into your favorite retroclone. 

Get it right over HERE
 This is thirty three pages of sheer OSR awesomeness guaranteed to up the horror factor for your favorite Gothic horror or simple retroclone. 
"Here's what you get with this issue according to Lulu:
Do you want to make your medieval RPG more medieval and grim? Browse no further! Burgs & Bailiffs is a 'zine full of articles on the European Middle Ages written specifically for roleplaying game use (absolutely guaranteed not peer reviewed). With articles on justice, tournament, warfare, cities, illness and medicine Burgs & Bailiffs will bring more a more historical feeling to your game."

Using Burgs & Bailiffs [PDF] By Paolo Greco

Since I've been going through Jack Sheer's World Between material I've been looking around for a bit more support for the pulptastic campaigns that have been turning up lately.
This magazine came up in the search and I'm happy to say that ninety nine percent of the material is actually useful. The articles in here are compatible with most if not all of the retroclones out on the market.
This is actually a pretty slick little publication already on its third issue(I'll be reviewing that pdf soon enough). The authors actually seem to care what the heck their putting out and this seems like another winner in my book.
Note that that this is less Warhammer Fantasy and more historically accurate seen through a glass darkly. For a game Gothic horror game these magazines are a must. The author has a very successful blog that actually supports the magazine and his own retroclone.
The material however is very well done and actually does a bang up job with the time period.
**** out of five stars 

The author's blog can be found right over

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tales of Gothic Transylvania - A Gothic Horror Campaign - Actual Play Part I

Vintage Halloween Image Gate

Welcome to the world of Gothic Pulp.
 The Gates have swung open upon the city state streets. This is a world of the Gothic Pulp a place where the edge of nightmares have overtaken the daylight world and people fear the night. Only adventurers stand against the darkness. The Gothic Transylvania countryside is one part 'Supernaturalypse' and three parts of Hell.
 Its place in desperate need of adventurers and heroes. 
Last night the PC's step through those gates and into the shadow of the dark fantastic. A specialist and his cleric partner have been hired by a rug seller and dealer in antiques to find out what's happened to his partner.
The man hasn't been seen in two weeks.

File:Biserica saseasca din Viscri, Transilvania.JPG

The VillaFile:Roman Villa Rustica Model .jpg

The PC's go to a Roman style villa in a very well to do part of the city state. The front gate is unlocked. The inner door is slightly a jar and there is a low moan coming from inside.
File:Littlecote Roman Villa 2.JPG
Upon the floor is the body of a :Lady. She is face down. Bleeding out and a knife lays near her right hand.
There is a sound like breaking glass coming from the back part of the house. The cleric gives add to the lady while the specialist/fighter gave chase.
The assassin was getting away and climbing a garden wall to escape.
Two daggers to the back and shoulder made quick work of  him.
The assassin burst into flame while looking directly into the eyes of the fighter.
Meanwhile the Lady Alexandreina was in rough shape. The knife wound was bleeding out and she was in shock. A healer and doctor were needed quickly. File:The Cherusker 03.jpg

The cleric stabilized her as best he could. A healer and doctor were called and arrived in the nick of time. The Lady was stabilized. 
File:Fig3Mamillare d'apres une peinture trouvee a Pompei.gif
 There was furniture over turned. The place was ransacked except for a strong box which had been tampered with was solid and not tampered with. 

File:Romersk kassakista, Nordisk familjebok.png
With the Lady of the house resting. The PC's got to work on the strong box. The specialist had quite the time with the piece. Eventually springing the lock and avoiding the poison needle trap.
It seems that the merchant and partner of the antiques had quite the shady past.
 File:Dräkt, Romare, Nordisk familjebok.png

Andri The Wise has ties to the local smugglers and thieves guild which unlike the specialists isn't a recognized Craft. He's been working with Amazon Mutual and has a special policy with them. He may be an agent of theirs operating on this world. Most jobs for
Amazon Mutual Life Assurance Company involve rescuing prisoners or recovering bodies of
policy holders and returning the for resurrection -- but not always.
Andri The Wise might be from Delos itself. 

"Like Arduin, Delos hath never built fireish machines but off times spaceships land here from the techno worlds and trade their goods or mayhap are robbed of them, and starrish beasties leave ship to roam in our woods. And here Multiversal can sell many strange goods from many strange worlds, but some they cannot sell because of the Prime Directive. And the rich living mana hereabouts offtimes sparks cross-Shadow making natural gates as those from England to Narnia, whence persons come through by mental inclining from amany strange Shadow-worlds and times, by the strength of their hearts' desires."
There was also some gold bars and a bit of cash in the strong box as well. The PC's pocketed the gold and cash. That's when the sky ship showed up above the house! There was also the small matter of the vials of vampire blood the PC's found.
To be continued!

Delos is copyrighted and trademarked to Dragon Tree press.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Further Meditations on 'The Whipserer In The Darkness' The Miskatonic Project Graphic Novel By Mark Ellis For Your Old School Horror Campaign

You can Download And Purchase this right over HERE 

So in honor of HPL's Birthday I've done a really extensive dig into  'The Whisperer In The Darkness' The Miskatonic Project Graphic Novel By Mark Ellis. The first part of my musings can be found right HERE

The Miskatonic Project was a small group of paranormal investigators from the special documents wing of the Miskatonic University library in Arkham. Well they're each investigators whose lives were touched by the Mythos. These brushes with the Great Old Ones in the past have had some very nasty effects on these folks. That's not say that they are victims.
This is actually where the differences between the approach that HPL presents and Mark Ellis.
The idea that the characters or PC's are central to the story line or adventure. Whisperer follows the old pulp tradition of putting the investigators into harms way right out of the gate.  
H. P. Lovecraft's The Miskatonic Project...from left to right, Fleur Averoigne, Randolph Carter and Detective Malone.

Each and every one of the investigators of the Miskatonic Project have had life and limb scarred up. They're minds, sanity, and souls touched as well as consumed to some extent by the Mythos. They've seen behind the curtain of reality and they can never look away.
The Project never swirves away from the Mythos or Lovecraft's stories. These tales especially Whisperer dive head long and weave their mysteries around the events of the various Lovecraft tales. A take that Chaosium would later borrow by providing stats for various Mythos NPCs.

This is a group that is willing to do anything to stop the world wide conspiracy that is the network of the Great Old Ones. Even if it means their sanity or lives.  The trouble for the investigators and adventurers of this series is not like  something not out of the sanity shattering fiction of HPL but a pulp roller coaster ride. Robert Howard's Mythos writings have this sort of two fisted pulp sensibilities about them. And so do the characters of these stories. These are flawed heroes dealing with the fallout of their lives touched by forces from beyond their pale. They've had to suck it up and fight outwards. 

The Kingsport Archive And The Miskatonic Project

Several differences between The Miskatonic Project's version of the various cults of the Old Ones and others is that these cults are very well funded. They've got the best equipment. Headquarters are stellar and they've got access to the very best Mythos tomes that money can smuggle.
They form a world spanning network of like minded cultists willing to do anything for their various dark masters and their alien servants the Mi Go.

The Kingsport Archive was formed by 'Top Men' after the Fall of Innsmouth and this group operated more like a spy cell then a group of academics. They were more then willing to get their hands dirty with wet work. They seemed to always be running afoul of Lord Justin Sabbath.This happened to be over a certain nasty piece of Mi Go technology that they had recovered. 
It took the attentions of both folklorist Professor Albert N. Wilmarth and Inspector Lagrasse's intervention to stave off bloodshed and legal action. 
The Archive began the task of recovering the various Mythos artifacts and dealt with the sanity shattering effects of said artifacts keeping them under lock and key. 

The Archive's collection was taken away and was later incorporated into the stacks of a certain warehouse. The PC's went their separate ways after The Red Hook Affair took the life of one of their number. 
The 'Archives' often seemed to take up the slack in New England when the Project was off in some other part of the world.  My advice would be to use the project sparingly if at all.
 The Archive was much more New England or backyard oriented while the Project seemed to be a more world spanning organization. The players actually seemed to care more when the game took place on their home Lovecraftian turf. 


The Different Aspects of the Mi Go

'The Whisperer In The Darkness' has some other marked differences from other takes on the Mi Go. The author uses the Mi Go as scouts for the returning 'Old Ones' and they are laying the foundation for the return of great Cthhlu and his ilk. 

Why do the Mi Go appear different from other adaptations of the story? This might easily be explained by the fact that there are different aspects of this insidious insectoids. Things that scuttle through the cracks of the universe and undermine the fabric of the cosmos for the 'Old Ones' return. 
There is a sense with these Mi Go that their disposable in the long run in the agenda of the Old Ones. Simply another biological tool or weapon in the arsenal of the Mythos. Mankind is heroic but it matters little in the scope of the agenda of the cycle in the Mythos. 

The Mi Go make an excellent pulptastic antagonist race against a party. 
'The Whipserer In The Darkness' The Miskatonic Project Graphic Novel By Mark Ellis is a really nice take on the Mythos instead of the usual turn of events. As always your mileage may vary. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Tales of Gothic Transylvania - A Gothic Horror Campaign - Further Meditations On Tales Of The Grotesque And Dungeonesque Volume One

The nights are beginning to get longer and the shadows are lengthening. I'm putting together a series of one shot Gothic Fantasy Adventures using Tales Of The Grotesque And Dungeonesque. I've been rereading volume one of this piece of forgotten lore.

What Is Tales of The Grotesque And Dungeonesque? 

The Tales of The Grotesque and Dungeonesque volume one is a Gothic Fantasy Supplement for old-school fantasy role-playing games.

Contains house rules, random tables, new spells, new monsters, and a campaign setting for Gothic Fantasy adventures in the old-school fantasy RPG system of your choice.

Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque
 Get The Book Right Over HERE

Its actually a bit more then just that. The book is actually the campaign setting background and volume one in three part Gothic tour de force. Tales is set up in such a way to be a plug and play piece of goodness. From the 162 page book of volume with the variations of horrific OD&D tropes. The book is set up for Labyrinth Lord but its easily adaptable to any number of OSR retroclones.
The first book is essential because it sets up the PC options, adds flavor to character generation, And adds the real world/fictional counterparts to the game world. The second volume adds even more background.

 Appendix N Background Material 
When I was very young, I was shown two books from the U.K. that grabbed my imagination and led me on a fifteen year odyssey. At a county fair I glimpsed a copy of  Tourist Guide To Transylvania And The Dracula Collection. They were deemed far too scary for me by well meaning grandparents. It too the better part of ten years to find the books I had glimpsed. Weirdly enough my wife whose from the U.K. where the volumes were published by Octopus books also owned them. 

The Tourist Guide & its sister book the Dracula Collection were essentially a number of science fiction & fantasy pieces with the Transylvania country side of a sword & sorcery universe as its framing device. The books are fantastic. They have zippo to do with the real world at all. Seriously this is a universe where no only is magic real but the countryside is ruled by vampire lords, liches, & black magicians who summon the very powers of Hell itself! Faerie exists  but its an uneasy relationship at best. These are the 'Kindly Ones' version of the fey. A sort of extra-dimensional monsters that can cause all kinds of problems. Count Dracula is eluded to but never given any real consolidation in the book.
There are barbaric tribes, witches, covens of white, black, & grey magicians, & all sorts of powers from beyond. Hell plays a very prominent roll in this book. This is a dimension where the gods of yesteryear roam the countryside plucking victims to feed their dark hungers.

 The second book describes Dracula's art collection and some of its inspirations. It also describes a family museum and the occult devices of power which it holds. The books are nice because in detail we are given a complete picture of the 'family Dracula' separate from the Hammer Films and even what we've seen before.
This is really a world of Gothic Dark Fantasy. 
These books provide very solid fodder. 

Tales of Gothic Transylvania
File:Biserica saseasca din Viscri, Transilvania.JPG

This is a world of the Gothic Pulp a place where the edge of nightmares have overtaken the daylight world and people fear the night. Only adventurers stand against the darkness. The Gothic Transylvania countryside is one part 'Supernaturalypse' and three parts of Hell. Its place in desperate need of adventurers and heroes. 
Some of these hard bitten individuals are those who seek thrills and hunt the most deadly game of all. The undead have run up against adventurers from 'The City' time and again. The odds are that the players are going to run into an NPC or two from the City. Trey Causey little creation is also going to be making an appearance or two at the table. 

For a metric ton of mileage from the author visit his blog right over HERE