Wednesday, June 28, 2023

After the Thunderkiss

As promised in a prior post, I'm going to give you a wastelander's tour of America in the world of PLANET MOTHERFUCKER. If you like the sound of this shithole, buy a copy of PLANET MOTHERFUCKER today! Seriously, if you've been thinking about it you should know that postage rates are getting hiked by the post office in a few weeks and I'm down to about twenty copies left.


After the Thunderkiss

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how the game works, I want to tell you about the shithole where this all goes down: the weird wasteland of post-Thunderkiss America. 


New England is now a theocracy ruled by religious zealots with funny black hats and buckle shoes. The capital of the theocracy is New Salem, where the Court of Oyster and Terminator governs. Covens of satanic, folk horror witches live in the deep woods surrounding Puritania’s cities, villages, and towns—they fight against the oppressive regime of the Puritanians with hellfire, sorcery, and old-fashioned witchy know-how. 

New Amsterdamned

Like a syphilitic phoenix rising from the ashes of a meth lab fire, NYC has been reborn as New Amsterdamned. New Amsterdamned is governed by a coterie of vampires led by the vile nosferatu known as Rudy Ghouliani. The ruling class of vampires largely concern themselves with siphoning blood and taxes out of the city’s still-living populace. They certainly do nothing to curb the violence and gang warfare that dominates the streets of New Amsterdamned. Hell, they don’t even keep the streets paved.

The Dirty South

Southern culture truly is on the skids, my friend. In the former Southern US, the wealthy have sequestered themselves away in old plantation houses that have been turned into fortified compounds. In the backwoods, inbred hellbillies hunt their fellow human beings and feast on their succulent flesh! 

If you want to start a rumble in the Dirty South, loudly proclaim that another region’s BBQ sauce is better than the sauce made where you’re currently standing.


The Florida panhandle is now a feral wetlands known as Swamplandia. You know those lizard people that David Icke is always talking about? The ones who wear human guises and secretly rule the world? Well, they actually do rule Swamplandia. They got mosquitoes the size of horses down there, I swear.


Go west across the Gulf of Mexico and you hit the City of Gnawlins. Surrounded by bayous filled with mutant alligators, Gnawlins is the domain of voodoo queens, Cajuns, and frilly-shirt wearin’ goth vampires with names like Lestat and Maurice. 


A little further west and you hit the territory of Tex-Arcana, where spell-slinging cowboys patrol the wild frontier and protect the interests of oil barons, bullet barons, and beer barons. Ten gallon hats, tin badges, spurs and chaps, the works. All my exes cast hexes in Texas—that’s why I hang my hat in Tennessee.

Flypaper Country

As a setting, PLANET MOTHERFUCKER takes the same view as its author toward the middle of the country: who gives a shit? It’s probably a wasteland filled with warring barbarians tribes, cornfed dames, or raging Karen drag-racing soccer vans or something. Maybe the Midwest is infested with zombies, but then again, if it was—would we be able to tell the difference? 


Okay, one thing about the Midwest worth mentioning: although it’s basically hell on earth, a Rustbelt nightmare, and generally post-apocalyptic, the city of Destroit is still the place to go to get auto parts or a sweetnew ride. Nobody does it better than Destroit. You know all those factories in movies like Terminator that are just filled with open pits of fire and molten slag? Yeah, Destroit is like that.

Sin City

Once known as Las Vegas, Sin City remains a hotbed of vice and depravity. Play the slots, wake up with a raging hangover, and pawn everything you own of value at one of the many rip-off joints on the Strip. Visit a brothel, wake up missing a kidney. See a show, wake up puking your guts out after gorging at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Beneath the glitz, glam, and neon beats the black heart of American capitalism: feed your desires, try to beat the odds, and have nothing to show for it in the end. 


The city formerly known as Los Angeles is now Pornheim, a bastion of the skin flick industry. The city is governed by a council of “adult entertainers” and their shithead, narcissistic hangers-on. Everything is showbiz and exploitation out there, but underneath the Teflon coating of tan skin and blindingly white smiles lurks some really dark shit. Hell, the people of Pornheim are so medically modified they practically count as cyborgs.

San Freakcisco Bay Area

The San Freakcisco Bay Area is a hot spot of scientific innovation. If an outbreak of technological horrors—murderous robots, a man-made plague, or AI cars out to run down pedestrians—were to occur, dollars to donuts that some pencil-necked geek in the SFBA is to blame for it. The City of San Freakcisco is also a party town, rich in rainbow pageantry. Slay, Queen!

The Militialands

Washington and Oregon are now heavily forested—the primeval woods seems to have erupted to reclaim the land from the trespasses of human civilization. The Militialands have earned their name because the area is dotted with strongholds belonging to militias, paramilitary groups, and extremist cults. They’d be a real danger to the world at large if they could stop fighting against each other in endless bouts of zero-sum warfare, but these well-armed morons are too stupid to get their shit together.

The Monster isles

The volcanoes of Hawaii have erupted, awakening long-slumbering kaiju who now roam the islands and do battle with each other. Daredevils continue to brave the obvious dangers of the Monster Isles just for the chance to catch the perfect wave. Surf’s up, dude!

North, South, and the Rest of the World

The frozen northern realm of Canadia is home to wendigo, moose-riding Mounties, ambulatory poutine, and the underground trade in maple syrup.

Past the southern border, you’ve got luchadors battling drug cartels, donkey shows, and desperate folks who worship Santa Muerte. ¡Ay, caramba!

As for the world at large? Beats me. Make up something cool if it comes up in your game.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

The Battle of Spaghettysburg

I ran a game of PLANET MOTHERFUCKER last Friday. You know what I love about this game? I've never gotten as much laughter out of any other game. And it's not just my stupid gags that hit; everybody gets into the big dumb mood of the thing and shit just gets ridiculous. Love it.

Want to have this kind of fun? Buy a copy of PLANET MOTHERFUCKER today!

Here's what went down in our game:

The Characters

Runa Ravensbane, heavily tattooed metal babe (Church Burner)

Dr. MK Ultra, rogue physician prone to experimenting on himself (Doctor Feelbad)

Chet, a vampire who looks suspiciously like the Naked Cowboy (Living Dead Hustler)

Fat Elvis, exactly what he sounds like; has a feral child companion named Marsha Marsha Marsha (Wastelander)


The character were all down on their luck, working at a crappy Civil War-themed Italian restaurant named Spaghettysburg. Spaghettysburg was located within the walls of Civil War World, a theme part filled with animatronics dubiously re-enacting the events of the American Civil War. Runa was working as a line cook, surrounded by pots of simmering sauce. Chet was the dishwasher, stacking plates. Dr. MK Ultra stood behind the bar, wiping down glasses. Fat Elvis was stationed as the bathroom attendant, replacing urinal cakes. Marsha Marsha Marsha was the waitress--an egregious violation of child labor laws.

And then the lights went out.

Plunged into darkness, the group could hear gunfire and the screams of theme park guests. Chet peeked his head out of the front door and confirmed everyone's worst fear: the Confederate and Union robots had gone berserk and were executing everyone at Civil War World!

(While the lights were out, Fat Elvis emptied the till of cash, Dr MK stole a bunch of booze and cleaning supplies, and Runa grabbed a bottle of Finlandia vodka.)

The group decided that Spaghettysburg was no longer safe, so they got a move on to try to find a way out of Civil War World. They decided to exit the restaurant out the back. They saw two robots, one Union soldier and one Confederate, moving toward them. They attempted to sneak behind a shooting gallery, but Dr MK Ultra was spotted and the robots opened fire with their rifles. Fat Elvis nailed one with his submachine gun and Runa let lose a scream that exploded the head of the other.

While fighting the "robots" the group noticed a strange thing: despite being told that the animatronics were just lifelike, state of the art robots, they bled when wounded. Chet tasted their blood; as a vampire he could tell that it was genuine human blood, but not fresh. They put two and two together and realized that the park was using corpses as the basis for its "robot reenactors"!

Continuing to sneak behind buildings to find a way out, they next encountered the ominously titled Andersonville Prison Petting Zoo. Expecting that there were animals in need of setting free inside the petting zoo, the group entered...and saw some truly horrifying things. In this park exhibit, the meat-based robots were behind bars and being used to illustrate the horrors of Civil War era prisons; some had dysentery, some had typhoid fever, and all were desperate and starving. Although the "exhibits" pleaded to be set free, the group determined that they couldn't be trusted. Instead, they put them all out of their misery and left.

There was some loot dropped by fleeing visitors in the prison at least: a backpack full of Homies, a couple bucks, and an unused pregnancy test.

As they crept around the back of the park, the group saw that the roller coaster was still operating...all of the cars were full of dead people, except one fat kid who was busy vomiting on himself. The group took pity on him and shut the roller coaster down. They cleaned him up and renamed him Juice Pouch. He was happy to take the new name as his parents had named him Dickbert, so this was a step up in his opinion.

While they were dealing with Juice Pouch, the group were accosted by a gaggle of meat-robot Southern belles. Chet turned on the Southern Charm and talked them into going to wait for him by the Assassination of President Lincoln exhibit.

With the belles out of the way, the group made a bee-line for the General Lee exhibit, not sure if it was going to be about the soldier or the car. Thankfully, the car was on display. Chet slid into the driver's seat and everyone else piled in. No keys! But flipping down the visor revealed 'em. The group began to burn rubber toward the main entrance and ticket-taking booths, planning to ram their way to freedom. 

However, as they sped past several exhibits, they saw a young woman with an afro pinned down behind the counter of a souvenir shop as Union and Confederate soldiers fired on her. Unwilling to leave her to die, Chet pulled a quick U-turn. The back end of the General Lee clipped a costume depot, sending bits and bobs cascading out of the building. Chet rammed the meat-robot soldiers, mowing them down handily, while Fat Elvis fired his submachine gun.

Now safe, the woman in the gift shop introduced herself as Toffy. Chet insisted that Juice Pouch and Marsha Marsha Marsha get to pick out souvenirs from the ruins of the gift shop. A couple of the others grabbed kitschy t-shirts as well. Toffy pointed out that a meat-robot with a sniper rifle had just exited the Assassination of President Lincoln exhibit. This robot stuck out like a sore thumb: instead of wearing historical attire, he was dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans. The group realized that this meat-robot was made up to look like Lee Harvey Oswald because whoever was in charge of the assassination exhibit had confused him with John Wilkes Booth. 

Three-part names, both presidential assassins...easy enough mistake, right? Anyway, Lee Harvey Oswald assumed a shooting stance, yelled "Sic semper tyrannis!," and opened fire. 

Chaos ensued! Dr MK Ultra used the cleaning supplies and booze he had stolen from Spaghettysburg to craft some Molotov cocktails. Runa began screaming an ear-piercing Valkyrie wail o' death. Unfortunately, the Lee Harvey bot was soon joined by the Southern belles, who had grown bored of waiting for Chet. One of the belles dealt Runa a vicious blow with her parasol, so she switched to her ritual dagger and began carving up Lady Antebellum. Dr MK Ultra's Molotovs were doing work, lighting up belles left and right. Ultimately, Lee Harvey was put down with a combination of machine gun fire and lead pipe to the head.

When the dust settled, Fat Elvis examined the costumes that had spilled out of the annex and found a Kool-Aid Man suit. Putting it on, he was filled with confidence that he could now burst through any wall. Fat Elvis ran full tilt at the park's iron gate and managed to break on through to the other side. Everyone else plowed through the hole in the General Lee, ecstatic to escape from Civil War World at last.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

PMF May Contain Horribly Sexist Phrases like "Sorority Babes" and "Cat Women"

PLANET MOTHERFUCKER ruffled some feathers over on the official MORK BORG discord. Don't get me wrong, I also got to talk to some cool people over there too, but I seemed to strike a nerve with a few scolds who really needed to let me know that the game is bad and wrong. 

PMF has a history of rustling jimmies. A writer at Bleeding Cool got some heat from their editor when they did an article on it years ago. Someone else was asked to change the name to PLANET MELONFARMER when they ran it at a convention. Aaron Zirkelbach, editor on an edition of Swords & Wizardry, wrote me an email comparing the first edition of PMF to a shit he took, but declined to let me post the content of his message on my blog because he was afraid of how people would react if they could see his behavior firsthand. 

This time the kerfuffle started when I posted the following work in progress: a random table for generating a b movie title that would also serve as the inspiration for writing a PLANET MOTHERFUCKER adventure:

A few things on this table were objected to by a handful of denizens of the MORK BORG discord: "Sorority Babes" was judged to be a horribly sexist phrase, as was "Cat Women" (???). "Of the SS" caused offence. I was informed that "old" works, such as b movies and Big Trouble in Little China, were inherently "problematic." 

The grumpiest objector provided some "helpful" revision suggestions:

Anonymized because I don't support harassment or dogpiling even if someone is being a rube. People who have a problem with me never seem to do this.

I have a couple notes on the above:

1) "Just to give you food for thought" is an amazing dork-ass version of "I'd like to speak to the manager." I used to think letting this stuff roll off my back was the way to go, but we're living in an era where someone with a grudge got C. Derick Miller fired from his job for writing a "gross" novel, people tried to paint Gretchen Felker-Martin as a criminal over Manhunt, and somebody called Andrew F. Sullivan an "eco-fascist" due to the ecological themes in his latest novel. And I won't ever forget what "concerned citizens" did to Isabel Fall. Now it feels like you have to push back against all the little self-appointed moral guardians, even in extremely minor cases like this one.

2) Each of those suggested changes fuckin' blows. Absolute dogshit, baby-brained stuff. Trade the flavorful "Sorority Babes" for the vanilla-ass "Cultists"? You've got to be kidding me. Look to WotC or Paizo if you want pure milquetoast. 

Also, what's up with changing "Of the SS"? Clearly "Of the SS" is meant to describe the bad guys of the scenario--if you think we should never depict real-world villainy, I don't know what to tell you. Inglorious Basterds is worth seeing just to watch fascists die horribly. Fuck Nazis. I can't be any more clear than that.

3) I'm fine with the game not being for everyone, but come on, PMF does not hide what it brings to the table. The game has the word "Motherfucker" in the title. The cover has a woman in a bikini straddling a fuckin' missile. PLANET MOFO does not engage in subterfuge or subtly. 

The thing that surprised me is that this pushback was coming from a segment of the MORK BORG community, but as a friend pointed out, it shouldn't have. As she noted, despite the elements of grimdark misery and pretenses to brutal violence, MORK BORG does seem a little "smooth down there," if you know what she means. It's all Thanatos, no Eros. 

The attitude looks like this: Violence? Yes. Depicting a misery-laden apocalypse? A-OK. Drugs and Satan? Sure. Alluding to sex as either the intimate act or biology? Hold up, you can't do that! I'm not even talking about role-playing sex scenes--do what you want at your own table, I'd rather not with my pals, and PMF doesn't ask you to do this--I'm talking about the game noticing that sex is a thing that exists and has a ton of cultural baggage attached to it.

It's a stance I see a lot of nerds adopt these days. Ironically, despite the blasphemy that MORK BORG often revels in, some of the game's fans assume a stance that is essentially and deeply ProtestantBy which I mean: ambivalent about depictions of violence, horrified by any mention of sexuality, full of hypocritical pieties, giddy at the prospect of castigating others, and steadfast in the belief that their preferences carry moral weight.

While this handful of pearl-clutching fellas (and they all appear to be guys, according to their bios) perform their sensitivity to each other for approving reaction emotes and generally speak for women instead of to them, I'm over here busy packaging up copies of PLANET MOTHERFUCKER to send to the women who bought the thing. 

Food for thought, innit?

To state things bluntly: PLANET MOTHERFUCKER is an exaggeration of all the weird violent and libidinal shit that lurks in the dank bargain basement of the American Dream. It's a tongue-in-cheek critique through the lens of b movies, trash culture, shlock, and outrageousness. It's a fun excuse to gather at the gaming table with people who aren't shitheads and get loose with the dark side of America's atomic levels of ridiculousness. Uptight Good Boys are less likely to get that because part of what the game has in its crosshairs is them

Find out what all the fuss is about: buy a copy of PLANET MOTHERFUCKER today! This is a game by and for sickos. Squares and goons need not apply.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Shticky Fingers

Now that PLANET MOTHERFUCKER is out, I can talk a bit about some of the design choices I made with it. This post is going to be about the game's "Shticks"--basically the available character classes in PLANET MOTHERFUCKER.

The PMF zine presents seven Shticks. I've copy-pasted the flavor text from the zine in italics, then followed it with a commentary chaser. Here's mud in your eye.


You are a heathen devotee of extreme metal, empowered by the Metal Gods to go forth and wreak havoc on this blighted world.

Church Burners are basically the bards of PLANET MOTHERFUCKER, but true to the game's ethos they aren't about bolstering their friends by singing songs of great triumphs. Instead, they're extreme metal fanatics who bring extremely bad vibes.


You are a brute shaped by a lifetime of downtrodden struggle, bad luck, and hard times. Everything looks like a nail to you because you are a human-shaped hammer.

Face-Breaking Goons are designed to be simple to play; if "fighter" is the default choice in D&D, Face-Breaking Goons fill that role in PLANET MOTHERFUCKER. When you play a Face-Breaking Goon, your gameplan is pretty straightforward: approach every problem as something that can be solved with violence. It'll probably work.


Whether a born-again holy roller, a gun-toting nun delivering fire-and-brimstone sermons, or an apocalyptic cultist, you have been chosen to spread the “Bad News” of what’s to come.

Hellfire Preachers resemble PLANET MOTHERFUCKER's clerics, but they aren't relegated to the "healer" role by design. Since your starting ability is determined randomly, your Hellfire Preacher might having some divine healing, but you're just as likely to get kick-ass martial arts depending on how the dice land.


You used to be alive, then you were dead, now you’re somewhere in-between. You might be a zombie prostitute, a ghoulboy stripper, a Frankenhooker, or a vampire go-go dancer.

Living Dead Hustlers are built for resilience. Being undead has some perks; you're probably really hard to put back in the grave. One of the neat things in some of their abilities is the temptation to court death because you get some bonuses when your "hit points" aren't topped off.


You have made a pact with Satan and have been granted the eldritch secrets of the blackest magic. Hail, Satan!

Satanic Witches are the wizards and warlocks of PLANET MOTHERFUCKER, but their shit isn't all tied to spells spells spells. And, of course, their abilities are explicitly black magic--no "white" witchery here, my friend. This was the Shtick I probably had the most fun working on.


You are a thief, a sneak, a liar, and a cheat. And probably worse, if you were honest with yourself about how big a scumbag you are. But you’ve never been honest with nobody. So why start now?

Fuck your noble rogue with a heart of gold! Scumbags are what rpg rogues should be: morally compromised dirtbags on the make. Imagine if Han Solo had a meth problem and never came back to help the Alliance and you're on the right track with these shitbirds.


You are a road warrior, an amazonian barbarian, a badlands marauder, a high plains grifter, a monster hunter, or some other kind of shithead who travels the wastes looking for trouble.

Wastelanders are closest to D&D's rangers, I guess, but they're actually fun to play. Lots of unique shit in their abilities list: bitchin' motorcycle, feral kid sidekick, big fuckin' shotgun, etc. There's even a bit of Conan baked in as a possibility if the dice decide to hand you a big freakin' sword. This shtick probably has the widest range of interpretations.

Sound good? Buy a copy of PLANET MOTHERFUCKER and let the good times roll. I've got less than half the print run left, so don't be a slow-ass about it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023


PLANET MOTHERFUCKER is now out as a complete game in zine form from my Big Cartel site! Here's the hard sell:

PLANET MOTHERFUCKER is role-playing game set in an alternate-reality Earth where the worst fears of the Cold War came to pass in 1965—the Year of the Thunderkiss—when some fat-fingered bureaucrat pressed the shiny red button and set off Armageddon.

Instead of resulting in a grim, gritty wasteland where humanity struggles to survive, the atomic fallout warped the fabric of reality itself. America was twisted into a psychoholic grindhouse realm where mutant ratmen drag race hot rods against murder-minded robots, where lunatic wolfmans square off against brick house amazon princesses, and where doom nuns and foxy witches command the awesome powers of the bump ‘n’ grind occult. The mood and aesthetics of B movies, outlaw comics, and trash culture have bled into our world, creating a fucked-up melange of cartoonishly overheated sex and violence.

PLANET MOTHERFUCKER is ultra-violent, maxi-trashy, supra-lowbrow, and über-depraved. The characters are larger-than-life and garishly hued in neon technicolor and greasepaint. Horror movie monsters prowl the wastes and clown gangs rampage through the streets of what used to be called civilization. Fuel up your chainsaw, pop a clip into your Uzi, and rev your V8 engine—it’s gonna get messy out there.

The rules for PLANET MOFO are a hack of MÖRK BORG. The rules have been tuned-up and turbo-charged to make the characters super-sized and about as competent as the morons in a low-budget action flick. Characters in PLANET MOTHERFUCKER might still die, but they aren’t failsons right out of the gate. That shit is as useless as tits on a tractor.

About this zine:

- Contains all the rules you need to play: setting, character creation, action resolution, combat, enemies, adventure seeds, npcs, random tables, and more!

- 48 pages printed  in b&w on color stock (blue or green paper). This things is bulging with content, just like your favorite XXX star.

- Cover printed in full color on glossy cardstock. It's a thing of beauty that will be sure to attract romantic attention should you read it on the subway, at a bus stop, in line at Taco Bell, etc.

- Hand-assembled, the way zines were meant to be made. None of this pro shit masquerading as DIY. This is the real deal.

- Every purchase comes with a free pdf and a form-fillable character sheet pdf. Put the numbers in the boxes or you get the hose.

- Printed zine ships in a bubble mailer. So safe, so secure.

- Recommended if you like Rob Zombie, the Goon, Mandy, Joe R. Lansdale, Preacher, Big Trouble in Little China, Sin City, Escape From New York, The Venture Bros.

- Not recommended if you're allergic to juvenile humor, foul language, and bad attitudes. 

Interior pics:

Sunday, June 11, 2023

The Walking Dead of Marat (Part 2)

This is the second half of a Savage Krevborna adventure we started the week before. Now that the adventure is over, I should note that it was based on the old Ravenloft module Night of the Walking Dead.


Geradd, disreputable swashbuckler

Raoul Carathis, occultist and necromancer

Prioress Catarina Redmoore, prioress of an unsettlingly convent

Doctor Pendleton Torst, rogue anatomist


At the close of the previous adventure, the group had decided that they needed to find the old cemetery and locate the Marat family crypt. However, on the way to the cemetery on the hill they heard the sound of a lonesome, melancholic banjo. When they looked down the alley the sound was coming from, they saw Luc watching Constable Gremin examine something in the dirt. As they approached, they realized that the constable was looking at a large, day-old bloodstain--at the center of which was a single piece of red candy. 

Following tracks at the scene of the crime, they returned to the inn and talked to Lillian. When asked if there were any other visitors to the inn, she told them that a man named Johan Werther had arrived recently; she described him as a fop and reported that he had said he was a folklorist who had come to Marat to collect regional songs. During this conversation they also got Lillian to admit that the inn was actually a brothel frequented by the plantation workers. 

She also revealed that Jean Marat was also a visitor who availed himself of the inn's illicit services. He favored the attentions of a particular woman who worked at the inn, but Lillian noted that the girl hadn't been seen all day. They correctly assumed that she was the victim who had been taken in the alley. In fact, Lillian showed them that the inn's back entrance connected to the alleyway where the blood and candy had been found. While they had the back door open, the group was hit with a wave of charnel odor that left Raoul feeling unnerved and fatigued. Lillian told them this was the same stench she remembered smelling just before one of the inn's guests died and returned as a revenant.

The group attempted to follow the smell, which brought them back to the bloodstain in the alley--but did not otherwise reveal more clues as to what had happened. However, on the way back to the inn they heard a woman scream! Running to her aid, they found the inn's back door open, Lillian on the floor with a vicious wound at her side, and an aristocratic man who resembled Luc standing over her with a dagger! They had managed to interrupt Jean Marat in the act of killing Lillian.

As the group engaged Jean, they discovered that his body was partially undead--which made him difficult to wound. He also had the frenzied strength of a madman; Jean managed to stab the Widow (whose wound leaked a curious mixture of oil and blood) and he nearly managed to kill Pendleton. But Jean was put down, and Pendleton used his alchemy to save Lillian's life, patch up the Widow, and heal himself.

Raoul also took the opportunity to animate Jean's corpse as a zombie under his control. When Lillian regained consciousness and saw the re-reanimated Jean, she promptly fainted again.

As they regrouped, they heard an ominous crack of thunder as the sky quickly became overcast with heavy clouds. Rain began to fall in torrents. Just then, a foppishly dressed dandy (presumably Johan Werther) threw open the door to the inn and proclaimed that an army of the dead was marching on the town of Marat! As Johan and Lillian barricaded themselves away inside rooms in the inn, the group sought a higher vantage point; what they saw confirmed Werther's story: the animate dead were slowly shambling down from the cemetery hill toward Marat.

Skirting the approaching undead horde, the group made their way up cemetery hill through the rain and the mud. The graves all showed signs of having disgorged their occupants. They also located the gates to the overgrown section known as the "old cemetery"; a key they had taken from Jean's body allowed them entry. Once inside, they quickly located the Marat family mausoleum--a large structure with stained glass windows alight with an eerie yellow glow. The Widow was stationed outside the tomb to make sure that no undead were able to enter after them; she was also given instructions to enter and help after a minute and a half had passed. 

The floor of the mausoleum was carpeted with human bones and the remains of victims the undead had been devouring to sate their unnatural hunger. On a raised platform, sitting in an ornate chair, was the ghoul lord Marcel Marat, flanked by a pair of braziers burning with a strange yellow light. Attempts to converse with him proved futile; he would not share his necromantic secrets, nor did the party acquiesce to his demand to give him the scroll they had found at the plantation house. Battle was the only option as he had no plans to let them leave alive.

During the melee, Raoul realized that the unusual braziers were fueling Marcel's necromantic powers. A concerted effort between Catarina and the zombiefied Jean Marat under extinguished the braziers--plunging the tomb into darkness. Geradd lit a torch, but was attacked in the dark by Marcel. With a torch now burning, Pendleton saw that one of Marcel's undead minions was attempting to sneak behind them and cut off their exit from the mausoleum, but the undead lackey was swiftly dealt with. The Widow burst through one of the tomb's stained glass windows and dealt Marcel a shattering blow to the back of his skull. Geradd stabbed Marcel, piercing him through, turning him to dust and bones.

With the death of Marcel, the revenants under his control all fell inert. Among Marcel's belongings they found a ring with a red stone and a star chart that seemed to function as an overlay for the one they had recovered in a prior adventure from the stolen loot of the Scarabasca. 

With the undead menace dealt with, the group managed to get the sugar cane and molasses shipments back on track with help from Constable Gremin--who now slipped into a leadership role in the absence of the Marat family. Luc had now gone mysteriously missing during the attack. They also stayed long enough to collect the Widow's new outfit from Levy's tailor shop. They returned through the bayou to the waiting pirate ship and set sail again for Lachryma. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

The Walking Dead of Marat (Part 1)

We tried to continue our "Savage Krevborna" campaign the week before, but my internet cut out before we even got to start playing. We did get it together the week after though! Here's what happened.


Geradd, disreputable swashbuckler

Raoul Carathis, occultist and necromancer

Prioress Catarina Redmoore, prioress of an unsettlingly convent

Doctor Pendleton Torst, rogue anatomist


After arranging for passage to Marat with the pirates that were suppling Doctor Reichman's lighthouse, the group continued their journey. When the pirates dropped anchor, they put the group (plus the Widow) on a rowboat so they could traverse the bayou surrounding Marat. As night was falling in the bayou, they spotted a campfire on an island rising out of the waterway. Around the fire was a Polnezna family busy making dinner. Their houseboat was tied to a tree. The family's patriarch smiled broadly and gestured for the group to join them.

After dinner, the affable mood changed when the patriarch's daughter gave Catarina a tarot card reading. The girl seemed to go into a trance; while in the trance she made a pronouncement about a "rain of blood" and the "lost one" who was calling to them. Once the reading was complete, the family quickly excused themselves, locking themselves inside their houseboat while the group made camp outside. Although the group kept watch all night, the Polnezna family managed to slip away unseen in their houseboat.

The next morning the group continued to Marat. Again, they spotted a light in the distance amidst the gloom of the bayou's overhanging trees, but this light seemed to be hovering mid-air. As they got closer, they could see that the light was coming from a house on stilts. They could also now hear the sound of a lonesome banjo coming from the house. The group followed Geradd up the rope ladder hanging from the house's porch. Inside, they found a mute young man holding a banjo; strangely, even though the man was young, his hair was snow white. 

Because the young man couldn't (or wouldn't) speak, the group devised a way to communicate with him based on the speed of his banjo playing. They managed to glean that something was very wrong in Marat. Judging by the inscription on the book of poetry he had on him, they deduced that his name was Luc. Ultimately, the you man joined them in the rowboat and helped guide them to Marat.

Once they had booked a room at the Six Mule Inn, they noticed that the townsfolk were gathering in front of the town's church for a funeral service. The group decided to follow the funeral procession from the church up to the cemetery hill overlooking the plantation. One odd thing they noticed: the coffin was wrapped in chains. The reason for this became apparent when a loud knock was heard coming from the coffin as its occupant stirred. Soon, the coffin was rocking wildly as the priest droned on during the Last Rites. The people gathered graveside were not shocked by this uncanny event.

After the funeral, the townsfolk went about their business, but the group decided to talk to the priest, Father Brucian. They noticed that both the church and the decorations that Father Brucian wore were a bit "non-standard" for the Church of Holy Blood, which Father Brucian explained away by noting that the missionaries who originally converted the island's populace mixed the Church's faith with the pagan symbols of the prior religion to facilitate the adoption of the Holy Blood creed. According to Father Brucian, the people of the island originally worshipped a "god" they called the Lord of the Swamp.

Father Brucian was able to explain the troubles afflicting Marat that were holding up the molasses shipment. The problems started three weeks ago when a plantation laborer named Hogarth died--and then rose from death as a ravening undead creature. Since then, other deaths and horrific returns had plagued the plantation; now the workers were afraid to tend their fields for fear of turning into the living dead. The priest was also able to sketch the lay of the land in Marat: Marcel and Jean Marat run the plantation, as their family has for generations. Luc, the young man in the house on stilts, is the youngest Marat brother. Prior to the terrifying incidents, there had been no unrest among the workers.

Most of the group decided to go back to the graveyard and examine the walking dead monstrosity that had been buried earlier, but Catarina stayed behind to watch Father Brucian to make sure he wasn't up to anything beyond the pale. (He wasn't.) The group set the Widow to work exhuming the coffin and breaking its chains. The former plantation worker inside had indeed been turned into the hungry dead. Unfortunately, an overly ambitious lunge with his rapier landed Pendleton in the coffin himself. As the ghoul crawled over him, ready to strike, the Widow punched her hand through the monster's chest--killing it once more.

Once the group reconvened, they spoke to Lillian, a girl working at the Six Mules Inn. She reported smelling a horrible "wind of death" when a patron at the inn suddenly died and rose again as the undead. An herbalist named Flora also detected the powerful odor of carrion. The group spoke to Flora the next day, corroborating Lillian's observation. They also learned that Flora's daughter was among the missing--and that in every instance where a townsperson had disappeared pieces of red licorice were found at the "scene of the crime."

The group wanted to speak to the Marat brothers, but no one responded to their knocks. They were caught in the act of letting themselves into the plantation house, but Geradd managed to sweet talk the Constable Gremin into accompanying them inside to see if anyone was ill or injured. They found no one inside the house; it seemed as if it had been unoccupied for some time. However, Raoul managed to discover a secret alcove with a black hooded cloak, the pockets of which held both pieces of red licorice and a scroll. The scroll appeared to be a ritual to transform the living into the walking dead.

The label of the cloak indicated that it was a product of Levy's Tailor Shop here in Marat. Under the guise of buying the Widow a new outfit, a prospect bankrolled by Pendleton, the group managed to get some interesting information out of Levy. He had made the black cloak to Jean Marat's exacting specifications. He also admitted that he had seen Jean Marat carry his brother Marcel's body into the church!

Back to the church. The group put some pressure on Father Brucian; Brucian broke down and told them that when the troubles started Jean had brought Marcel's dead body to the church; Jean demanded that Father Brucian restore Marcel to life--a feat Brucian was unable to accomplish. Father Brucian thought he had managed to convince Jean to inter his brother in the family mausoleum in the old, overgrown section of the graveyard. As the adventure ended, the characters had resolved to find the Marat crypt.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

The Open Curtain

Episode 67: The Open Curtain

Brian Evenson’s 2006 novel The Open Curtain tracks the budding relationship between two Mormon teens… through the lens of mental illness, alienation, and ritual murder. Evenson’s  novel takes Jack and Kate on a deeply uncomfortable journey into the darkest aspects of religion.

Which gym teacher should be on duty when you start a beef with another student? Why should you always display the most off-putting books in your collection? Is Mormonsploitation a thing, and what’s up with the true crime connection? And is the exploitation call coming from inside the house? All these questions and more will be answered in this episode of the podcast.