A campaign idea: Beowulf, but with xenomorphs from Aliens. The player characters are all Geatish heroes lately arrived at the kingdom of the Danes to help the beleaguered Hrothgar, whose mead hall has been overrun by...aliens from beyond the stars. Of course, once Grendel--a xenomorph/human hybrid--has been slain and Heorot cleared of the alien menace, the heroes must venture beneath the lake to the crashed ship the xenomorphs arrived on and face Grendel's mother--the xenomorph Queen. This statblock from Geek & Sundry may come in handy:
Characters: Raymondo Cortiz (human assassin rogue); Grumli Fellhammer (dwarf path of the ancestors barbarian); Nina Kessler (genasi way of the frozen fist monk); Hiroshi (human samurai fighter); Zanna Cobblepot (gnome wild magic sorcerer); Wexel (goliath college of valor bard).
Events: The gang tracked Doctor Nymenholt to the medical clinic he runs in the Chandler's District. Zanna posed as a patient needing an examination; Nina came with her playing the part of a concerned friend. The rest of the group sidled around to the back of the clinic to enter surreptitiously through a window. Unfortunately, the break in went wrong from the start--Raymondo, Hitoshi, and Grumli made too much noise breaking and entering and were promptly attacked by nurses who turned out to be more than medical personnel--nurses generally don't cast spells that make the walls bleed and cause slashing claws to form out of the ether.
Meanwhile, alerted to the intrusion, the nurse who was attending Zanna in an examination room turned on her, slicing at her with a scalpel. Nina, reading a broadsheet in the waiting room, failed to hear the melee until it was too late...Zanna stumbled out of the examination room only to crash to the floor in front of Nina, dead.
And that's where we took a break so Zanna's player could make a new character.
The game resumed with the gang's sorcerer falling dead at Nina's feet. Now alone and besieged by a murderous, magically proficient "nurse," Nina fought for her life--and won. Upon examining the corpse of the nurse, Nina discovered that the woman bore the Adversary's mark. It was now apparent that the Church of the Outlander had enlisted the Excuciata in a war between two cults as the condition of their alliance--the Church of the Outlander were hoping that the gang could take out their occult rivals. Nina fled deeper into the Nymenholt Clinic to find the rest of the Excruciata. She discovered them in a pitched battle with other members of the clinic-cult. After dispatching the "nurses" the gang debated whether to press on with their mission to assassinate Doctor Nymenholt or bail in light of Zanna's untimely death. Misery and gain have their own staccato rhythm; the remaining members of the Excruciata decided to press on and take blood for blood. As they explored the now shockingly silent clinic, they discovered a patient--a goliath musician name Wexel--hiding in a janitor's closet. Wexel explained that he had come to the clinic hoping to beat his addiction to snowleaf, but had discovered that Doctor Nymenholt and his nurses were implanting the patients with unholy parasitic lifeforms. He had tried to make his escape during the chaos of the Excruciata's entrance into the clinic, but he hid in the closet when he saw the doctor appear suddenly and take the elevator down into the basement. Wexel decided that there was safety in numbers. Grumli armed Wexel with a spare sword and he was duly deputized as an auxiliary member of the Excruciata. The gang quickly located the elevator that Nymenholt had been spotted entering, and took it down into the basement of the clinic.
Episode 20: Facial Justice. L.P. Hartley's Facial Justice depicts a post-nuclear dystopia in which absolute equality is enforced by rule of... well, not law, but supposedly benevolent edicts designed to protect citizens--or in the book's language, "patients and delinquents"--from themselves. In this world, anything that might inspire envy is corrected by the state, even if that means surgically altering a person's physical appearance. Jack and Kate take a deep dive into this novel that is by turns cheeky, macabre, and thought-provoking.
Is it possible to be a good person in an inherently flawed society? How can language shape a culture? Is it worse to be banished to the underworld or forced to play rounds of golf? Why is 1984 standard reading but young people are deprived of the chance to discuss Facial Justice in the classroom? All these questions and more are explored in this month's episode of Bad Books for Bad People.
members of the Concordia work to “peacefully” establish a world
order that is free from war and strife through mental and emotional
coercion. They are willing to disregard the personal agency of
individuals in order to achieve a worldwide harmonious existence. In
order to foster their vision of utopia, the Concordians pursue
psionic disciplines that can be used to alter moods, sways minds, and
bend wills to their mission. To the members of the Concordia,
dissidence is a disease that can be cured by means of mental control
and psychological warfare.
is quiet and good inside the termite mound.
is the only ideal worth striving for.
individual must always subservient to the whole.
a utopia where law, order, and stability reign.
the psionic arts so that those unwilling to join in the world's new
order might be controlled and made compliant.
Have a Use For You
a hawkish general to pursue diplomatic means rather than
a mystic so their psionic powers might be studied.
Characters: Raymondo Cortiz (human assassin rogue); Grumli Fellhammer (dwarf path of the ancestors barbarian); Zanna Cobblestop (gnome wild magic sorcerer); Nina Kessler (genasi way of the frozen fist monk); Hiroshi (human samurai fighter).
Events:Having secured a source of kraken blood, as well as the sulfur and charcoal needed to make black powder, the Excruciata now needed to find someone crazy enough to add arcane power to the mixture so it could be sold on the black market for enchanted weaponry. Spreading a little coin around in the occult underground netted the gang an interesting piece of information: just south of the Tarnished Ward in a shanty town outside the city's walls, there is a cemetery in which a cult devoted to the Adversary meets by night--and that cult might be capable of providing the kind of power the Excruciata was looking for.
Venturing into the shanty town, the group found the cemetery--a sprawling mass of shallow graves and hastily erected monuments in the center of a sprawling mass of lean-tos and shoddily constructed shacks. Oddly, in the middle of the cemetery was what appeared to be a ramshackle pub bearing no visible name. Ducking inside, all eyes turned to the gang. The drinkers within were dressed in furs and the sober clothes of scholars; the Mark of the Adversary was etched on the flesh of everyone in the tavern and worn openly in defiance against the religious prohibition against dealing in arcane ways. The interior walls of the pub were covered in mounted antlers draped with magical wards and charms.
Raymondo decided to keep things on the level before any trouble started; he explained in clear terms that he represented a criminal organization looking for occult aid. An especially black-eyed pureblood woman named Freya stepped forward and explained that the group was a sect of the Church of the Outlander, an apocalyptic cult devoted to the study of occult texts. A possible alliance was discussed, but the Outlanders wanted some assurances that they were aligning with a gang that could get things done. A series of trials--something like the cult's version of a job interview--were proposed. First, the diminutive Zanna had to face off against one of the cult's younger adepts in magical combat. A circle was formed around Zanna and the adept as they brandished wands and traded spell for spell. Zanna's unpredictable chaos magic carried the day; no one expected that one of her dweomers would send a ripple of necromantic magic through the assembled crowd that instantly healed the wounds Zanna's foe had inflicted on her. (Even Zanna didn't expect that.) The thought of having to face a newly rejuvenated foe was too much for the adept; he yielded the victory. The second trial was simply a ritual signifying a formal alliance. Raymondo was placed in the awkward position of having to marry Freya as a way of symbolically linking the Excruciata gang and this sect of the Church of the Outlander. The ceremony was performed in the Adversary's name; the ritual befouled the air--everything stank of dark magic. The marriage was not official as far as the state or normative religion would recognize, but Raymondo felt like it had been sanctified by a far older and viler power. He was also surprised to find that her could now hear his new "wife" speak to him inside his head. The Outlanders had one last trial to pose to the Excruciata; to cement their business agreement the Excruciata would need to assassinate a physician named Doctor Nymenholt, and make off with his collection of occult tomes.
It's been exactly a month since Krevborna: A Gothic Blood Opera was published. I can honestly say that I did not anticipate how successful it would be; it sold more copies at a faster rate than any other role-playing book I've written, it became a "Copper Best Seller" and then a "Silver Best Seller" in short order on DriveThru, it's been well-rated, and people have said awfully kind things about it. I am very pleased by the reception, especially that people keep noting the information design that went into making the book easy to use--I spent a lot of time thinking about the format of the book and how to convey a campaign setting with only the useful, interesting bits facing forward. Of course, I'm not adverse to even more success. More success means more art budget for the next thing I write; I don't have a Patreon or do Kickstarters, so this is just good ol' fashion hobby publishing at work. Tell your friends about the book if you think they'd like it! Post a review on rpg.net or reddit or some g+ community I never go to! (But also let me know you posted a review so I can read it.)
As a way of saying "Thank you" to everyone who bought the book, I'm offering a free pdf of a chapter that didn't make it into the final book: The Krevborna Cookbook. In this pdf are five honest-to-god-you-can-make-these-yourself recipes for you to enjoy with your gaming group. Playing rpgs is a social occasion, so celebrate that with good friends and good food. Each of the recipes in the pdf is themed around one of the major locations in Krevborna--even though this pdf is purely for fun, I think it does give a little more ahem flavor ahem to the setting's most notorious locales. Of course, if you haven't taken a look at Krevborna: A Gothic Blood Opera you can pick it up here in print and pdf.
What perils await young women as they venture into the wider world? How do fairy tales translate into the modern world? Is there a reason why some stories end exactly where they do? Find out all this and more in this month's mini episode of Bad Books for Bad People.