Thursday, March 26, 2015

Metal Gods Of Ur-Hadad zine Issue #3 is Here!

Buy Issue #3 In Print!
Get the Pay-What-You-Want pdf on RPGNow or DriveThruRPG!

After far too long of a wait, the much-anticipated Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad Issue #3 is here!

In this issue, you'll explore: 
  • A new patron, Atraz A'Zul, the Mother of Spiders!
  • The various currencies of Ur-Hadad and world beyond!
  • The Heist! An adventure toolkit designed to let any Judge run a complex robbery on the fly.
  • A Wayne Snyder Dungeon Insert: The Marrow Web Bridge!
This issue is produced in support of Freedom To Read Foundation's Frank Zappa Fund (more info here:, fighting to keep our public libraries free from the absurdity of censorship. Donations over and above the sticker price of $4 for this product will go to support the important work of keeping book-bannings out of our schools and libraries.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More #ElfLoathing: Adam's Attempts to Curb Elfishness

First, before you read any further, you need to be familiar with Elf Loathing. You can find out more here:

I'm not exactly against people playing elves, and it's not so much that I want to discourage people from playing them, but rather, I don't want my games to get "all elf-ed up." Elves don't have to suck, but when folks look at elves and only think of Tolkeinian tree-huggers, that's the shit that I just won't abide. I think that Elf Loathing should really be a thing, so here are the ideas that I tend to use in my games to keep elves from running rampant and being everyone's go-to choice for lame frippery.

  • Elves are basically Melniboneans. Seriously. They fight, they cast spells, and they probably do some awful shit along the way. Melniboneans are a corrupt, decadent race that doesn't much care about what happens to anyone but good ol' Number One, so elves should be prepared to sell out anyone who gets in their way and expect that all other elves will do the same
  • While elves come from the Dreaming Dimension, humans aren't the only species that dream, so elves are injected with all sorts of weird shit from the dreams of every sort of sentient creature. The DM is in his rights to ask the player to explain things in "dream logic," ruling out parts that are too normally logical and making the player try again.
  • As per the DCC RPG, all elves are allergic to iron, always. They don't get to use iron or steel weapons or armor, which means most of the stuff out there. Sure, I'll give them the one-time bonus of being able to buy a mithril suit of armor and a weapon, but just once. The nature and severity of the iron allergy is totally in flux, since elves themselves are mercurial, and I get to change what that means for each situation.  
  • Sure, elves get horns at 4th level, but they could get other weird mutations at 4th level as well due to their exposure to the Waking World and the iron that they're allergic to. Make the player tell you how his elf is clearly something other than human -- as in, what's specifically inhuman about this elf? -- or roll on one of the many awesome mutation charts you've probably got lying around. 
There's four ideas to keep folks from playing elves in your game the amount of elfishness in your games to a minimum. If you have ideas, blog them. #ElfLoathing really should be a thing... Also, if you want more like I just mentioned, Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #4 (due out... some time) will pretty much be full of it. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Not-Quite-Inevitable Pre-GaryCon Post and the Post Where I Tell You When MGOUH#3 Will Be Available

Like I said ... 11 days ago? Has it been 11 days already? Well, clearly it has, but man, it really doesn't feel like it's been that long! Crap, let's start over.

Right, like I said 11 days ago, the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad zine is only days away from publishing its 3rd issue. Because I like suspense and things of that sort of anticipatory nature, I decided that the zine should be available for sale online at the same time it's available for sale in real life which means at GaryCon. So, as of right now having only halfway checked into whether this is possible or not, I'm planning on delivering Issue #3 into the hands of +Roy Snyder & +Jon Hershberger on Wednesday (at latest early Thursday) so they can have them on sale and ready to rock. Unlike last year, this year I do not plan on selling any of the zines myself, so if you want one the moment it's available, you'll probably be buying it from one of these two excellent gents.

While tonight I have a bunch of work ahead of me prepping stuff for GaryCon (making zines, making DSR flyers for the flyer table, packing, no game prep whatsoever, etc.), the amount that I'm prepping probably belies the fact that, for me, GaryCon is a vacation. I'm not running any on-the-grid events (though I'll probably run some after hours stuff with Doug & Jobe), and I'm not registered to play in any (but I'll totally pop a squat in any game that'll have me when I'm ready to play a game), but that's part of the vacation: I'm not about to run around from game to game like a madman on my vacation! That's ridiculous!

I know this has been a frequent refrain over here on the blog, but I'm about to be a first-time dad. Katie & I are really happy that we're going to be able to make GaryCon (she loves it as much as I do, if not more), especially since we're going to have to miss GenCon this year since our little future man is due the week before. This isn't really a "last hurrah" for us, but it probably is the last convention we'll be attending without the werecub in tow. So I guess that does sort of make this a "last hurrah," but I don't see anything final in it, so I'm not thinking of it in those terms.

As I said, I'm not running in or scheduled to play in any on-the-books games, which is cool with me. I prefer to go with the flow, see what games have open seats and weasel my way into games that are totally full already, if only because, for me, the real reason to go is almost entirely social. Sure, I'm going to play games, but I'm going to play games with folks I like spending time with. There are plenty of other folks that I don't know if I'll get to game with, but it'll be pretty sweet to actually hang out. And then there's the folks who I've wanted to meet in person for awhile who I've never managed to coordinate with in real life, like +Del Teigeler. We've got to work those folks in.

I need to wrap up a few more loose ends before we pack up and head off, so I'm going to have to let you go, but before I do, let me give you my heartfelt pitch for why you should come to GaryCon:

It's like those gaming sleepovers of my youth writ large and for adults.

I have no greater endorsement.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Metal Gods #3 Teaser

The title of this post says it all! Here's the cover of the upcoming Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #3, yet again featuring the fantastic art of the remarkable Mr. +Wayne Snyder.

We're working on finalizing this issue now. A final manuscript should be sent off to Mr. Goodman here in the next few days, at which point I start in on layout. The cover should be off at the printer probably by Monday and I'd like to have pre-order rocking while I'm off at GaryCon. Yep, if you're going to GaryCon, you should have the first whack at getting your hands on this issue!

So, some brief commentary on this cover. First, I love that Wayne takes each cover up a notch. This is one of those pics that I notice something new every time I look. I just noticed that the sack on the halfling's left is spilling coin, despite the fact that it's not the one with arrows in it. It took us a surprising amount of time to settle on orange as the color for this cover. Wayne initially intended on making this a wraparound cover, but I'm happy with what he ended up with.

So, keep an eye open: Metal Gods #3 is imminent!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Lazy Post: March Means A Lot of Work

I've been pretty bad at posting consistently lately. My job has been really busy (it's our busiest time of the year right now), which is good for me, but bad for the Dispatches. While ye olde bloge here has had to suffer, I've actually been working a lot on a number of different projects. Here's the stuff that's been taking up a lot of my time lately:
  • Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #3 
    • I assure you, this is indeed forthcoming. I started getting art from Wayne this past week and now things are trucking along nicely. I've got a few more bits to finalize writing-wise, then this thing is off to Sr. Goodman for approval. I'll probably order the covers by the end of this week, which means you can expect a cover teaser here shortly. What to expect: 
      • The Heist! - A system for quickly generating and running a heist-style adventure in Ur-Hadad or the metropolis of your choice.
      • A Supernatural Patron by the Reverend Doctor EJ complete with 3 patron spells!
      • Street Foods of Ur-Hadad - What's for sale on the street corner? Roll some d30s and find out.
  • DSR Actual Play Podcasts
    • I handle most of the bookings for DSR and write our notes for each episode. Traditionally, this has been a pretty cushy job. But, when we decided to do actual play episodes, I volunteered to edit them. Just the actual play stuff, not the actual podcast. So, I've had to teach myself my audio editing software, which is really just reaching back into my past to recover memories from my days as a touring/recording musician back in the very late 90's and the homebrew recording stuff I've done over the years since but left behind just before I got married. I'm still not terribly skilled (as anyone who heard the first "DSR Learns Fate" episode can tell you), but I'm getting better. This is taking time.
  • Sandbox-As-You-Go Hexcrawl Project
    • I've been talking and thinking about hexcrawling and sandbox play a lot lately. After a really great conversation with +D.j. Chadwick about hexcrawls and sandboxes, I realized that there's no one resource I can point to and say "I do it like this." That's what I'm trying to write, but doing so slowly. To express my philosophy on the matter concisely, I prep to improvise. 
  • Secret Project for DougCon At GaryCon
    • I kicked around an idea the other day which was entirely based on a potential title for a gaming supplement (we all know that this is where half of our best ideas come from: a snappy idea for a name) and I had a few folks close to me express interest. So, a select group of folks very close to home an d I are developing a thing that we'd like to demo at GaryCon, probably during DougCon. After that, I'll either not be able to talk about it at all or talk about it all the time, depending on which way things go.
  • The First-Time Father Thing
    • Sure, we're months away from having this damn kid, but that doesn't mean he doesn't take up a good chunk of time. First, yes, we know he's a he and his name is Stanley Isidore Muszkiewicz, but you can call him Stan or Izzy or Stosh if you're Polish. I know that real parents who've already broken in their kids have all sorts of shit to say about how much time they spend on their larvae, and that it by far outweighs the time drain that my larva is on me, but still, it's something I'm not used to and have all of a few months to acclimate myself to in order to have that particular acclimation rug ripped out from under me when the little guy finally shows up and breaks every single plan I've made in the past nine months. 
Before I go, I do want to make some general observations about stuff that I've been meaning to say more about.
  • Check out Lair of Swords & Sorcery, both the blog and the project. This excellent guy +Ripley Stonebrook is making this fantastic game that's like a mixtape of classic D&D, HeroQuest (the real one, not the Issaries one) and a badass DIY project and releasing it in a comic book standard. Freaking cool project that deserves more attention. 
  • Mythoard has been kicking ass, hasn't it? Every month, I'm getting little bits of great in the mail that's like a tiny geek Christmas. Maybe more like St. Nicholas Day since it's about enough to fit in a shoe. If you're listening, +Jarrod Shaw, but if you are, well done, sir. 
  • +Kevin Chenevert's Red Kobold stuff is awesome! If you haven't seen his Blue Dungeon Tiles in person, let me tell you that these things are really cool and are designed to last. Since dungeon tiles are typically made of plastic, I either treat them gingerly or expect them to crap out and warp or something. That's largely the reason that I stopped using them. Kevin's tiles, though, man, these things are seriously laminated and feel like they'll be around with the roaches and twinkies. 
That's pretty much it from me for now. The Metal Gods are off in the Dreaming Dimension, the Iron Coast gents & lady are about to literally take a trip down the rabbit hole and everything else is falling into place. Catch you all later. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Monster Monday: the Wookalar

Back in the mists of time, when I was a high schooler, I remember that the same goof-off stoner in marching band who got me into Mr. Bungle (he just gave me their self-titled first album on cassette saying "Here, you like weird shit, take this") used to use the word "wookalar" as if it were a thing that everybody should know about. From Wade's use of the word in conversation, it became clear that wookalars were humanoid-ish sentient beings and that this other guy named Luke knew how to speak their language, which sounded like a throaty warbling not unlike that of Wookiees. Was the wookalar just a knock-off stoner wookiee? Maybe. If anything, that made them more interesting in my mind. Wade saying "Oh shit, did you see that wookalar over there?" to distract me while standing at attention during marching band practice cemented the imaginary guys in my brain and many years later made me figure out what I thought a wookalar is. And while it's clear that Wade's use of the term was either intended to confuse or to bait the listener into asking "what's a wookalar?" (a question which I never heard asked, but to which I'm sure that Wade had a carefully-crafted answer at the ready), the fruits of my own imaginings have showed up in the Metal Gods campaign. 

The Wookalar

A race of giant humanoids that stand 11-12' tall, the majestic wookalars of the forests and swamps of northern Ore blur whatever lines are drawn between men, animals and plants. Though roughly shaped like men, wookalars are covered in a deep shag of wavy hair that's less like a human's and more like that of a really fluffy dog. This coat of fur is almost always a series of dark earth tones -- with a few lighter-tinted highlights -- that mirrors the wookalars' environment and often contains elements of that locale. For example, many swamp wookalars will sport epaulets and even beards of moss while forest wookalars may have the tender leaves of small saplings adorning their coats.

Each wookalar -- male and female alike -- sports a rack of antlers not unlike those of a great elk except for one important detail: rather than being made of horn, these antlers actually made of wood, sprouting from the head as if the wookalar were some shaggy tree. These antler-branches grow from year to year and support leaves when in season (usually April through September), though often the wookalars' high level of activity causes many of these leaves to fall prematurely. There are tales of ancient sedentary wookalars who spend their life in mystic contemplation whose branchlers (the technical term) are unimpeded in growth by their (in)action and thus grow to nearly comical proportions. Further, some unsubstantiated rumors suggest that in the extreme northern climes of Ore, beyond even Hyperbarbaria and nearly to the polar Thunderlands, exist a breed of hardy arctic wookalars whose branchlers are evergreen rather than deciduous.

One final defining physical characteristic of the wookalars is the fluid number of joints their skeletons appear to have. One wookalar may only have one elbow per each arm, whereas another may have two or three. Knees are likewise in various supply and distribution. This variance maintains lateral symmetry, however, and no wookalar has more knees or elbows on one side -- left or right -- than the other, but are rarely more than three per appendage. Similarly, the fingers and toes appear to possess "extra" joints as well, often resulting in oddly curved digits.

As a people, the wookalars are famously peaceful and seem to take a live and let live approach to life, which is great and all, but there are some concepts common to other species that wookalars seem to have no understand of. Such as personal property. Or nations. Or borders. Or value and trade. Thus, wookalars go wherever they like, take whatever strikes their fancy and eat anything that think might taste good. In general, their natural lifestyle seems to be that of incredibly laid back (and often remarkably lucky) hunter-gatherers (more like "happen upon-picker uppers") and are often treated as a nuisance by neighboring peoples. In particular, the wookalars of the Filthwallow Swamp between Karel and Kuth face a high degree of persecution: the Karelites have built a large wall around the Swamp and a bridge over it to keep the wookalars out of Karel's fields, farms and pastures and Kuth situated itself on the opposite side of a range of mountains to segregate itself from Filthwallow's wookalars (many of which were displaced refugees from the forests of Kuth).Further, the Filthwallow wookalars share their lands with the mad marshmen, the Losels (see next week!), a hulking race of swamp-dwelling proto-men who are fiercely territorial, sparking a series of border skirmishes between the two races that the wookalars can't quite understand.

Many of the more contemplative-minded wookalars develop shamanly or wizardly talents, but have never been observed to practice any form of violent magic (such as Magic missle or Flaming hands), preferring more peaceful or constructive spells as well as those that impart knowledge or improve understanding.

While as a species the wookalars prefer peace, when backed into a corner they can fight ferociously. Beneath their shaggy coats, wookalars boast long, sharp claws -- which are actually more like thorns, much as their branchlers are quite treelike, these thorns aren't unlike huge, strong briarthorns. Further, all wookalars boast some form of tusks, whether in the lower jaw or the upper jaw or even both. A wookalar enraged enough to gore an enemy with its tusks is a fearsome sight to behold. Thankfully, few ever see it.


Init +1; Atk thornclaw +7 melee (1d7) or tusk gore +5 (1d12); AC 14; HD 6d10; MV 40'; Act 2d20; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +6; AL N.