Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Magic Helmet for Pits & Perils (April 1st Edition)

The magic helmet appears as one of the ordinary sort, but with outlandish horns of the kind only seen in the worst Viking movies or Wagnerian opera (the latter, especially).  When initially donned, the wearer must roll saving dice at -1 or immediately succumb to a curse with the following effects:

(1) All character dialogue must be sung in pseudo-operatic tones, noting that this must be strictly enforced!

Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit...

(2) The wearer will feel an irresistible urge to hunt a mythical creature known as a "wabbit", noting here that actual rabbits aren't targeted.  Instead, everyone the character comes in contact with requires additional saving dice to avoid be taken for the eponymous beast and hunted down relentlessly.

(3) Cursed characters (players) must sing "kill the wabbit" to the tune of "Ride of the Valkyries" doing so.

(4) The magic helmet grants the equivalent of a 9th level Bolt spell once per round, although this bars other activity.

(5) If their quarry is slain, saving dice are rolled again, with success causing the character to feel remorse, weeping and carrying off their victim for proper burial.  When finished, the curse is lifted and the helmet functions no more, although others might still fall prey to its power, referee permitting...

Your players will absolutely love this and beg for more!*

*DISCLAIMER: Olde House Rules will not be held liable for actual bodily harm inflicted by hostile players, including, but not limited to, severe beatings with dice bags full of the heaviest d20s!  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

One Million Years Braunstein!

Growing up in the 1970s, you might remember those excellent Tor comics by Joe Kubert.  Or perhaps you thrilled to One Million Years B.C., the version with animation by Ray Harryhausen.  Either way, you're dealing with prehistoric fantasy, an imagined past where man and dinosaurs lived side by side.  

Consider this.  Human prehistory is the closest thing to a traditional fantasy world.  One where different intelligent species coexisted with incredible monsters in the form of mammoths and voracious saber tooth cats, etc.  Prehistoric fantasy ups the ante by introducing dinosaurs to the mix and leaves the door open for whatever other ideas one might imagine...

Joe Kubert's Tor only ran for six issues,
but captured the feeling of this conversion... 

Our own Braunstein! is a historical fantasy game that can easily become pre-historical with the following additions:

(1) Check out the above comics and/or film(s).

(2) Characters can be Bone Children (Neanderthals) or Stone People, being modern humans (Cro-Magnon), and literacy is replaced with tribe per the following:

Bone children are illiterate.  They cannot fight with ranged weapons, but have the greater LUCK that comes from being physically robust and cold-adapted in general.

Stone People are literate, speaking their own tongue and that of Neanderthals, but with no written form.  They, alone, can employ prehistoric ranged weaponry, but will not add +1 for two-handed attacks (only the Bone Children have that strength).

Assume Cro-Magnons add +1 recalling facts.   

(3) Armor is cured hide, with no shields available. 

(4) Money is not used.  Instead, use barter points (BP) that are otherwise treated as silver. 

(5) Weaponry is limited to that appropriate to the period, and the judge should research this.  Ranged weapons were also limited, including the following early types:

effective spear thrower
Thrown melee
includes axes and spears, etc.

The judge should research these to become familiar.

(6) Dinosaurs have the following stats:

powerful bite (+2)
trample (+1)
horns/trample (+2-3)
claws/bite (+1)

*May be split between multiple targets

Of course, the judge should research individual dinosaurs and interpret statistics accordingly.  Otherwise, mammals more closely resemble the animals in Braunstein! proper...

This ceratosaurus (+2) is fighting a
triceratops (+3), with statistics per the judge... 

(7) Characters are a mixed band of social outcasts travelling from place to place and/or tribe to tribe.  Once again, Joe Kubert's great Tor comic (and reboot) has great ideas... 

(8) Optionally, the judge can allow shaman from either tribe, who call and command animal spirits per the rulebook.  

If nothing else, we hope this post encourages you to explore prehistoric fantasy (and fact).  But if you've a mind to really do so, you can use Braunstein! to create gripping adventures in an actual fantasy world complete with monsters that really were, even if we're off by a million years or so!  And if you do this, post your materials on the Braunstein! community at Google+!  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bloodnut Pass (A Review)

This time around, we're reviewing Bloodnut Pass, another new adventure for Pits & Perils under the OSL.  This one is a chilling tour of Hell that's not for the faint of heart by Matt Jackson, blogger and mapper from Chubby Monster Games... 

The design is very old-school, with a typewriter font and creepy black and white illustrations that recall the sort of graphics common to many fantasy digests.  Think Analog or Night Cry (a good horror digest from the 80s) for reference.

Yeah, you'll meet these guys...

In fact, it's physical design gels nicely with its content, and whenever a product makes good use of all its elements to convey an atmosphere, it says a lot!  

Here's the premise: A party is on its way somewhere, and to cut time, they take an unfortunate shortcut that takes them through the lair of something both evil and ravenous...

WARNING: This adventure contains some foul language and vivid descriptions of torture and implied sexual violence.  Now, we don't condone this behavior, but the scenario makes it abundantly clear who the bad guys are and why...   

Bloodnut Pass is a side trek; an interlude between principle adventures, although playing could easily take up an entire session depending on how things go for the characters.  Fortunately, the book does an excellent job of helping referees to get things started, with good advice on how to reel the party in and even how to orient the map for best results.

Something truly outstanding about Bloodnut Pass is its ability to evoke a sense of growing menace.  This is skillfully done, and should help the referee convey this to the players.  

The adventure is a brutal (although smartly done) meat grinder, being physically laid out in such a way that simply navigating it is extremely difficult.  And then there's the enemies!  In fact, the interplay between the dungeon and its inhabitants is without a doubt one of the best constructs we've ever seen...

Is it a dungeon with monsters, or monsters with a dungeon?  

Where do you run?  Where can you run?  Each option, although very difficult, is nonetheless survivable if well played...

Now Matt understands P&P, and he employs this knowledge to great efficiency here.  Unlike some games, characters never outgrow lower level enemies, and there's no such thing as a 10th level dwarf wading through a mob of orcs unscathed.  Higher level characters can take on more powerful foes and have more resources to draw from, however, low level monsters remain a threat.  Especially when they live in well-constructed lairs!

Bloodnut Pass recalls 1970s horror
flicks in all their exploitative glory!

That said, Bloodnut Pass is suitable for characters of any level, starting at maybe 3rd to give them a chance...

It might be easy to dismiss this one as a bloody mess with foul language (it's that too, so don't play this with the kids), but this is overlooking what a cleverly challenging scenario this actually turns out to be.  Especially with the right players!

Remember those Creepy and Eerie comics from the 1970s?  That's the atmosphere present here.  Dreadful fun!

Finally, Pits & Perils prides itself on taking inspiration from those influences available in the 1970s, and one of these is horror movies; namely, exploitative slasher flicks with gore and/or sex aplenty and lots of dismemberment.  Old-school now has its own Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and it's called Bloodnut Pass!  Get this vile mess digitally at Drive-Thru RPG or any of its affiliates!