Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pacesetter Games

Last night I was going over some material from a game called Star Ace. It was released by Pacesetter games in the mid 80’s. Pacesetter is the same company that released horror RPG Chill that I wrote about a few weeks ago. I started thinking about some of the other products that Pacesetter released. They did a really well done Time travel RPG called Timemaster and several months ago I wrote how The Blackmorn Manor game was the closest my wife has ever come to role-playing, that was a Pacesetter game as well. I wonder if Pacesetter wasn’t just a little bit ahead of it’s time? The games are still out there in PDF form from places like RPGnow. They can also be found on EBay where they sell at pretty reasonable prices.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Motivational Monday

Thanks to RPGNet

Saturday, January 27, 2007

24 years later

Back in 1983 I read this book about a British Secret service agent who is sent on a mission to rescue the Tsar and his family from the Bolsheviks. He teams up with an American adventurer and a White Russian Cavalry commander. I remember enjoying the book and then lending it to a friend. Needless to say I never got it back. I could never remember the title of the book or it’s author. But every time I’ve walked in a used bookstore for the last 24 years I’ve made at least a cursory check for it. And in 24 years I’ve never ran across it, until today.

The book is called “The Buckingham Palace Connection” written by Ted Willis (who it turns out was quite a prolific and successful British writer).

Check out the back cover blurb:

“Escape from Siberia”
It began one hot summer afternoon in 1976 in the House of Lords. But it would lead back to 1918, to war-ravaged Russia where an armored train plowed through Siberia on a mission of deadly vindication, personally ordered by King George V of England.

It was an unlikely rescue team: James Tremayne, a dapper British undercover agent; Tom Story, a brash young American engineer; and Colonel Kasakov, the fanatical commander of a White Russian cavalry troop
-but then it was an even more unlikely scheme.

In a riveting race against impossible odds, Tremayne and his crew battle 4000 miles of treacherous wasteland to reach a little town in deepest Siberia. There Tsar Nicholas II and his family await execution- little realizing that one of the most daring rescues ever attempted would soon alter the course of history.

Doesn’t that sound like it would make one kick ass RPG adventure?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Villa Rides!

Back when I was 5 or 6 years old I remember going to the theater to see this movie. I thought it was the coolest thing. It was the first time I ever saw Mexicans in an English speaking movie that didn’t act like oafish buffoons, bowing and scraping to the Anglo characters (“Please Senor, we want no trouble”). I know now that the two leading Mexican characters were played by a Russian and a Pole. But at the time they sure looked Mexican to me. In 1969 there weren’t to many role models for Mexican/American kids other than the Cisco kid, Zorro and Speedy Gonzales. It was cool to see some guys that looked like my uncles kicking ass and taking names.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Old School Gamers

Old school Gamers-

• Had to play with six-sided dice until they could get the right ones.
• Judged the value of a game by the weight of the box.
• Rode the bus across town to the one hobby store that had a TSR rack.
• Played Judges Guild modules as is.
• Rolled pages of character stats to try and get that perfect character.
• Point-Based character generation never even occurred to us.
• Used the words Rock, Stone, or Iron somewhere in their Dwarf’s name.
• Never questioned the rules. If a Cleric couldn’t use a sword then that was it.
• Played Chaotic Neutral all wrong- but nobody cared, we were having too much fun.
• Loved nothing more than cleaning up a law level zero space-port with a couple of Gauss guns and a lot of attitude.
• Had one character that used matched pairs of Lucern Hammers in combat, until somebody actually saw what a Lucern hammer looked like.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Motivational Monday

Thanks to RPGnet.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Saturday matinee memories

Remember sitting in the theater watching Sinbad for the first time? Ray Harryhausen's work is awesome. Take a look-

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

LoS update

It’s been quite a while since I have posted anything regarding my Legends of Steel game. The good news is that I have been working steadily on it and making really good progress. There are now three sections comprising the game. The players section is the first and is done. Second is the Game masters section which is about 80% done and the third being the Campaign section in which I am converting my longstanding fantasy campaign world of Erisa to fit the Sword & Sorcery motif.
Below is a Sneak peek at the character sheet I have developed for the game. For those of you who have just recently joined us and don’t know what the hell I’m talking about go here and get informed.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Motivational Monday

Thanks to RPGNet.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday gaming

Well today was the second official meeting of my GURPS Castle Falkenstein group. We are using the GURPS 4th Edition rules. When the first call for gamers was made a month or so back 7 answered, back then I said if I got two or three solid players out of the group that showed up, I would be happy. Well my wish came true. Out of the seven, 5 flaked out for one reason or another. The last to bail was a player that just couldn’t get the swing of the genre. To be honest, the two that remained were actually the ones that were the most promising. I would rather have two players that are into the genre and involve themselves in the campaign that a dozen players who just wait till the fights occur so they can roll some dice. Don’t get me wrong I love slinging dice as much as the next geek, but if combat just for the sake of combat is all you want, well then you’re at the wrong table. Anyway today’s game went off without a hitch and we were all reacquainted with the lethality of the GURPS tactical combat system.

Friday, January 12, 2007

WARP 11-She make it so

In my heydays of gaming back in the late 80’s – early 90’s I hooked up with a bunch of guys from Carmichael. We gamed maniacally- we started on Friday evening and sometimes went non stop through the weekend except for Taco Bell runs and Mountain Dew infusions. One summer we were mostly all unemployed and living in a pair of upstairs lofts of a house that one of the guys inherited. It was a cool crazy time of music videos, porno movies, blasting stereos, girlfriend meltdowns, and of course all night gaming- D&D, Champions, GURPS, Traveller, Cyberpunk, even a weird ass game called vampire. One of the guys was Karl. Karl was the luckiest guy on earth. He had a job AND a hot girlfriend, Dawn, who was not only totally cool but she also liked to game (she ran Ravenloft). Karl always had something about him, a mystique if you will (Charisma of 16 at least). He was a guy you just wanted to hang out with. He’s still got it. Here is Karl and his band WARP 11 (Karl is the singer by the way). Karl if you’re out there- I miss ya buddy. Good times my friend, good times.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

BASH brings it on!

Yesterday I was itching to buy a game, and as I was looking over RPGNOW, I ran across a game called BASH – Basic Action Super Heroes. I love universal systems and this one looked relatively successful- It had good user reviews, a couple of supplemental products, a free fanzine, and a very attractive price of $5.00- for five bucks I figured I could take a chance.
Back on October 19th I posted a gamers mantra here on the Blog. One of the points was:

“Buy the good stuff, and tell people about it. Hell, buy the bad stuff, and warn people about it.”

So I put my money where my mouth was and purchased BASH. I’m happy to say it was money well spent. I’ve been reading it over this evening and it makes me want to play, which is the best compliment I can pay a game. The rules are fast and light- a very easy read. The art is just okay-but it does convey the impression of an action packed game- so it does its job. They even provide a “Printer friendly” version without the art to save paper, this is a nice touch that I wish more companies offered. I honestly can’t review it since I haven’t had the chance to play it. But as it stands I will be playing it at my first opportunity. In fact, I’m eyeing the Fantasy supplement at the moment and will probably be buying it shortly.

For affordability BASH is hard to beat. The other day I was at a game store looking at the new Runequest game by Mongoose, each those anorexic books costs $24.95 or more and you need at least three of them to have a complete game. One of the books doesn’t even reach 100 pages. What a joke.

So you want to step up for the little guy? Help out small business? Encourage efforts to produce fun low cost games? Give BASH a look. Hell, if you really don’t want to pony up a five spot for a game then download their free magazine and give it the once over. There are a couple of adventures and a few articles in there to mine for ideas.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Evil DM's album

In my daily net surfing I run across a lot of photos. many of them I save for use here. some however languish in my files for months looking for just that right post. Here are a bunch that have been waiting a bit some may eventually make their way to a post but for now they sit in The "Album of misfit pics" waiting for a blogpost to claim them.

Atlas Comics holds a lot of memories for me. they had a short run but there are still old guys out there like me who remember...

I was gonna use this gal as a character in my Lost Worlds PBEM game, she was to be cast as a "Jungle Princess" but she lost the role to one of my action figures.

Here are a couple of pics that didn't make the cut for my FASERIP Pulp gamebook. the first was from an old Marvel monster mag, the second from a trading card game.

I love the expression on this gal. You should see the whole pic. YOWZA!

Can you say "Creepy kid"?

You gotta love this old Long haired leaping gnome.

Love her or hate her, the girl can sure take a hot photo.

Must be the Danish army.

Teddy, now more than ever!

Is this a cool "Evil DM pic or what??

Awesome shot!

God I miss "Firefly". Fox network, you fucking idiots, you completely screwed the pooch on this one.

PS3 for sale- cheap!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Motivational Monday

Thanks to RPGnet.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Sword and Sorcery Saturday

I’m the kind of reader who absolutely cannot start a series in the middle. Because of that I have about a dozen or so part two or part three books lying around waiting for me to locate their predecessors. Today we made the rounds of the local used bookstores where I managed to complete not one but two collections that have been sitting around in the house for a while. And best of all they’re Sword and Sorcery titles! I just finished a Victorian age thriller and was about to begin a Western, but it’s been too long since I cracked a good sword-slinging tale. The books I found were Hadon of Opar by Philip Jose Farmer and Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer Book 2 "Lords of Destruction" by James Silke.
I’m starting with the death dealer books. And if the first few chapters are any indication, it was the right choice. It’s down and dirty S&S action with plenty of gore, sultry witches, barbarians, and wicked fights- I start to miss these kinds of stories after a while.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Red Nails

So is this movie ever gonna get made?
I doubt it. The website has been dead for months.
But in the interest of keeping the art around, here are some Pics.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Savage Tales is back!

Great news for Sword & Sorcery fans -
The Savage Tales title is back in print. Marvel has let the trademark lapse and it was picked up by Dynamite Entertainment. It looks like issue #1 will be hitting the shelves in March 2007 with a cover by renowned artist Arthur Suydam. For more information visit Newsarama.
Thanks to Terry Allen from the REH Comics Group for the “heads up” on this

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Just Chill

The other day I posted an article of mine from a past issue of Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine revisiting the Conan game by TSR. Today I have another article from a past issue (#118) revisiting The horror RPG Chill from Pacesetter games.

Chill-Adventures into the unknown
Jeff Mejia

In 1984 a small company called Pacesetter games released “Chill”, a Role Playing Game set in the genre of classic horror. All the guys in my gaming group back then grew up on a regular diet of Saturday night “Creature feature” shows on TV. We loved the old black & white Universal monster movies featuring Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster, etc. as well as the Hammer horror films with Christopher Lee and lots of busty vampire chicks.
Up until Chill the only horror game around was Call of Cthulhu, and while there is no denying that Call of Cthulhu is a classic, my group never really cared for it, mainly because no matter how well you played your character, He/She would eventually go insane, in fact everybody’s character eventually goes insane in Call of Cthulhu. My group was made up of mostly “meat and potato” gamers- we liked to hunt down the bad guy, hack him into tiny pieces, and then loot his lair for +2 swords. The idea of our characters eventually going nuts never held much appeal.
Chill didn’t have that aura of hopelessness that Call of Cthulhu had, and none of the pretentious angst that “Vampire: the Masquerade” would later have. And though I was familiar with Lovecraft’s works most of the guys in my group weren’t, so it was hard for them to visualize why they should be running from a “Slithering Miyagi” or an oozing puddle of space pudding with a hundred eyes. It just wasn’t working for them. With Chill, if I told them they were being attacked by a pack of hatchet wielding zombies led by a Voodoo priestess, they had a frame of reference.
The Chill game comes boxed. Back in the day, most Role-playing games came packaged in a box. And believe it or not, many a games complexity and dollar value was judged by the weight of the box. Chill came in at a healthy weight, better than “Cyborg Commandos” but way less than “Bushido”. The game consisted of two rulebooks, a world map, introductory adventure, three 10-sided dice, a set of cardboard counters and what in today’s terms would be called a set of “fast play” rules.
In Chill, the player characters are all part of a secret organization called S.A.V.E (Societas Albae Viae Eternitata, the Eternal Society of the White Way).
S.A.V.E. Operatives fight a never-ending war against the supernatural forces of evil. In the world of Chill, Vampires are real, Were-creatures are real, and Malign spirits are real. The forces of evil exist and the agents of S.A.V.E. seek them out and destroy them. The setting for the game can be in any period from the mid 1800’ to present day, and globe spanning adventures are not only possible but encouraged. The setting has a classic horror movie feel to it thanks to the great artwork of Jim Holloway throughout the rulebooks.

The campaign book covers character creation based on eight abilities generated by random dice rolls and a system formula. Along with the regular Strength, Dexterity, Agility, Stamina, and Personality, they offered some additional “genre” specific abilities such as Willpower (used when making the obligatory “fear check”), Perception (which aids in noticing specific clues or unusual details), and Luck (which aids in character survival by allowing “Luck checks” to avoid immediate death).
All of these abilities are used when deciding the success of a characters action, this is known as making an ability check. There are two types of ability checks the first is known as the standard check, and is used when rather straightforward actions are resolved the second is known as a specific ability check this type of check uses a unique chart system known as the “Chill action table” to gauge the degree of success. The better the roll, the higher the degree of success, for instance, if your character is trying to jump out of a window to escape from a foe, the referee may want you to roll an ability check based on agility. If you succeed the referee will compare your roll to the success chart. A limited success may indicate you jumped out of the window but may have injured yourself on the fall. A medium success could indicate you landed hard but are uninjured, a high success may mean that you landed on your feet and can move normally next round.
Characters advance and gain experience in Chill by participating in adventures and defeating evil creatures and their minions. “Insight Points” are awarded for success and these points can be later used to improve current abilities and skills or to purchase new skills for future use.
Chill offers a wide variety of combat and non-combat skills to choose from when creating a character. All skills have corresponding success scores that are based on one or more abilities and ranked as student, teacher, or master. Each rank adds a percentage point bonus to the skill, which insures a player at master rank, is effectively a leader in that field. Players start the game with student ranks and use “insight points” to increase their rankings in various chosen skills.
As with the ability checks, Chill has two types of skill checks. The basics skill check which is a straight success/failure roll and a specific skill check which utilizes the “Chill action table” to determine the degree of success. There are a fairly adequate number of skills supplied for the game, and by following the general formula it’s not at all difficult to add new skills to the list as needed. It’s worth noting as well that Chill spends a good amount of time explaining the use of professional and research skills. In Chill your characters ability to read a map, use a library, and speak Latin will be as valuable as what caliber of pistol he carries or what level of mastery he has in Judo.
Character actions are covered in the next section. The mechanics of campaign play are introduced in this section. Game time, travel times, fear checks, movement, damage and healing, and combat are all examined. An area, which was revisited quite often in our campaign, were the rules on lighting and visibility. Quite a few of our combats took place on fog-shrouded streets and in dark cemeteries.
The various types of Non-player characters are covered in part five of the rules. The reactions of Animals, persons and creatures are covered here along with societies reactions in general. The hardest part about interacting with NPC’s in Chill is trying to convince them that your character isn’t a loon, this is where having an organization such as S.A.V.E around is invaluable. Not only are there people who will actually believe your story about the secret cabal of demon worshippers at Fairfax manor, they may even be able to help you do something about them.
Which leads us to part six of the rulebook. Characters in Chill may face vampires, mad scientists and evil witches, but they don’t do so without powers of their own. This section of the rules outlines the use of The Art. The Art is basically a collection of disciplines used to combat the minions of evil. The Art is a combination of Psionic abilities and arcane protections that enable the agents of S.A.V.E a fighting chance when confronting the disciples of the evil way. The chapter ends with a brief history of S.A.V.E, it’s rules and tenets. The final section gives some brief advice for the “Chillmaster” (CM) on running a successful horror campaign.
The second book in the boxed set is titled Horrors from the unknown. This volume is essentially a combination spell book and monster guide. The first part describes the various spells and magical effects that the creature’s posses and use to combat the heroes of S.A.V.E. the second half of the book details creatures both common and supernatural that are used in the Chill game, unfortunately they only list around eighteen creatures total.
Chill received a decent amount of support for its run. There were nine published modules ranging from encounters with Dracula and the Mummy to exploring haunted amusement parks and touring with a rock band. There were also several sourcebooks, which added to the Chill line:
• A “Chillmasters” screen with the obligatory mini-adventure.
• Vampires-a sourcebook giving detailed descriptions of several vampires from different parts of the world.
• Creature Feature- a Chill game variant that lets the players assume the role of the monsters. The book also offers more rules for combat, new skills and an additional discipline of the Art.
• Things- basically an expanded (over fifty) listing of creatures and new evil way disciplines.
• Evenings of terror with Elvira- a set of nine linked scenarios hosted by the mistress of the dark herself.

It’s worth noting as well, that in the 1990’s Mayfair games purchased the rights to Chill and gave it a new look and a new audience for a brief time.
By today’s standards, when held up against somber fare like the World of Darkness and Kult, Pacesetters Chill might seem a little light and old fashioned. But for the folks who like their horror a little less Anne Rice and a little more Boris Karloff, Chill is just the ticket.

Monday, January 01, 2007