ASE2-3 Black Friday Sale

Lulu is giving 30% off on Black Friday, running from Friday 11/23 thru Tuesday 11/27.  Enter the coupon code DELIRITAS at check out for mad crazy savings on ASE2-3!


review: Knowledge Illuminates

I'm already bored with marketing (which consisted of a blog post shared on G+ and posts to four forums). So on to other things.

Now that ASE2-3 is out the door I've got some time to read some of the gaming material I bought in the past few months - namely, Knowledge Illuminates and Barrowmaze.  Just finished KI, and just started BM - so I figure I'll toss out a review of KI, since there aren't many out there.

Completely coincidentally, Bryce at tenfootpole.org just reviewed KI as well...

Disclosure - I know the author, Tim Shorts, from a few sessions in Trey's Weird Adventures campaign earlier this year.

So, Knowledge Illuminates is a small lair-type dungeon, with 11 rooms. I like it quite a bit. The idea is that there's a box full o' demon, some of his minions got out in a wizard's lab, everyone dies, and eventually the party stumbles across the lair.  This is the only weak point - the hooks to find the wizard's lab aren't very strong. I'd toss them entirely and leave a treasure map somewhere instead.

The lair itself has a few monsters, and a LOT of magical loot for that room density. Treasure, btw, is using a silver standard - values are always referenced as "silver pieces".  It's a fairly old-school ratio of monsters to empty rooms - the dungeon is front-loaded with the monsters, so as you go deeper in it's all traps and learning the horrible history of the chest, and learning various bits of magical knowledge that can greatly increase your loot-haul, if the players pay enough attention.  The trap that slowly turns players into ghouls is particularly nice - I can see that causing a certain amount of heartache.

I would have liked to see the demon-locked-in-the-chest statted out and illustrated, in case the players go full stupid and let him out.

There's also a small wilderness area around the dungeon described. This stuff is mostly unrelated to the dungeon (except the hangman's tree, which has a nice payoff if you've read some books in the dungeon). As evidenced by the small amounts of treasure most encounters have, this is filler should the players go wandering afield - the real meat of this adventure is all underground.

Tim's got a chart at the back that shows how he doles out XP - it's more of rewards for certain accomplishments, instead of the straight xp-for-treasure. I'm too crusty and mean for that - you get your loot, and that's all the XP you'll be getting.

So it's a good 1st level dungeon, that can be run through in a single session.  If you're looking to get a copy, I believe there's a PDF up at rpgnow or you can order a hardcopy from Tim directly.


Dungeon Module ASE2-3 is FOR SALE

The Anomalous Subsurface Environment is more than just robots and lasers – it's clowns and dinosaurs, too! Levels 2 and 3 of the critically ignored gonzo megadungeon are finally available – with more classes, more tables, and more cruel and unusual ways to die deep beneath the surface of the post-apocalyptic Earth!

Got the proofs today, and it looks GOOD!  So I hereby proclaim ASE2-3 officially FOR SALE!

What? You're on the fence? And you're reading this blog? Perhaps these words from a few kind souls about ASE1 will sway you:

“This is one of the best products ever made. Go buy it now.”
Bryce Lynch, of tenfootpole.org

“One of the finest OSR-derived megadungeons”
James Maliszewski, of grognardia.blogspot.com

“It is awesome”
Tavis Allison, muleabides.wordpress.com contributor and Autarch co-founder

“One of those products people will remember fondly 20 years from now”
Gabor Lux

ASE2-3 is available for sale at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/PatW, in Publisher Grade Paper, Standard Grade Paper, and PDF form. Publisher Grade is very slightly cheaper, but only prints in the US, so if you're outside the US order Standard Grade - way cheaper shipping.

Anyhow if you buy it, please talk about it! This is a niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche product, and every bit of publicity helps!

And a big "Thanks!" to everyone who bought ASE1 and thus unknowingly guilted me into producing a sequel!

EDIT - Oh, and Lulu is having a 20% off sale now if you use coupon code NOVBOOKS12 on check out!


session recap, 11/8/2012

Mongo the Fighter (4), his henchpersons "Bunny" the Thief (1) and William the Sentinel (1), and his soil-bearer Malazar
Gutboy the Cleric (4), his henchman Trezgar the Elf (1) and his dog Rufus II

For our last recap, we had left our intrepid duo and their motley crew of henchmen in the not-quite-abandoned moktar lair, having just encountered a large group of goblins, led by their silver-robed giant-headed incredibly tall leader.

No time was spent puzzling over this encounter - there was a dungeon to plunder.  They went to a hatch in the floor they had previously discovered, turned the valve sealing it shut, and opened it to reveal a ladder leading down to a partially flooded tunnel. They climbed down, and followed the tunnel, coming upon a guard post with six fish-men.

Fish guy: "Who are you? Are you the ones who killed the cat men?"
Mongo: "Yes, we did!  We are the Mongos!"
Fish guy:  "We are the Cod Men!  You have done a great thing in killing the cat men!  You must meet our leader!"

Mongo and Gutboy instantly agreed, and the Cod-Men led them through several rooms, one with a blank beige tapestry, another with tentacled arches, and finally into a room with a protonium-metal pedestal emerging from the water, a stainless steel chair bolted atop it.  A plastic console was afixed to the pedestal, with two knife switches, labeled "Devolve" and "Evolve".

The pair stopped in their tracks. Here was a chance to experiment upon henchmen - an opportunity that could not be ignored.

Gutboy: "What is this chair?"
Cod-Man: "Oh, legend say that chair make us in far past. Can turn cod-men into pasty pink fleshy things like you, no point in that. Do you want to be cod-men?"
Gutboy: "No! That's not really what we're looking for..."
Mongo (to Malazar the soil-bearer): "Hey, go sit on that chair for a minute"
Malazar: "Very gracious of you, sir, thank you for thinking of my aching back. This soil is quite heavy."

Gutboy then flipped the "Evolve" switch, and a field of rainbow colors surrounded Malazar.  His head grew larger to accommodate a brain of increasing size, while his body shrank until it was the size of an infant's, dangling below his floating head.  His face had not expanded along with the head - it was still narrow and pinched under the bulbous cranium.

Malazar: "Ahh, where my body has withered, my intellect has blossomed.  My powers have grown considerably.  I am now Hyper-Malazar. With a few more like me, we can combine our mental strength and be even more powerful.  All shall be crushed!  Not you, sir, of course.  I mean enemies.  You do seem to accumulate them."

Just then, the cod-man chief burst into the room, followed by a witch-doctor with a tooth necklace and elaborate head-dress, and two large cod-men wearing tailcoats.

Pyceen: "I am Chief Pyceen.  I have heard that you are those who slew the cat-men!  It is a pleasure to meet you!"
Gutboy: "Not king?"
Pyceen: "No, just Chief.  Now you will surely join us in our fight against the wretched goblins!  You shall surely slay them all!"
Mongo: "Do they have treasure?"
Pyceen: "Assuredly!  They have many gems, it is told!"
Mongo: "We like gems!"
Pyceen: "Then it is agreed! Crush the goblins!"
Mongo: "Where are they?"

Pyceen responded with a vague set of directions. In the meantime, Gutboy placed his dog Rufus II on the chair, and pulled the "Evolve" lever.  The dog became larger, and its hair shaggier - and when the chair was deactivated, it spoke.

Rufus: "Ahh, my mental capacity is greater now.  I have become more than a mere hound!  I thank you for this gift!"
(Rufus disappeared from the chair, and reappeared instantly next to Gutboy)
Gutboy: "Whoa! Would you say you just 'blinked' off the chair?"
Rufus: "An excellent word for it!"
Mongo: "Malazar, can you combine your mental powers with the dog?"
Hyper-Malazar: "Alas, no, his mental prowess is not at our level.  Surely he is greater than he once was, but he will never reach our level."
Rufus: "Harumph."

Eventually Mongo cajoled Bunny into sitting on the chair, and she too became a floating head with a tiny dangling infant body. The party then left the Cod-Man lair, heading deeper into the dungeon - the first thing they encountered was a statue of a nude pregnant woman.  A hole was punched in its stomach, revealing a stone baby within the womb.

Mongo instructed Bunny to move the baby with her mind-powers, and she did so easily - and a guillotine blade sliced down behind the hole.  The trap discovered, Gutboy set to smashing the stomach of the statue open with a hammer, and dismantled the trap in the process.  Alas, the stone baby was merely a stone baby, and no treasure was found.  Further inspection did reveal that the woman's face could be screwed off, so they removed it and placed it in their back pack.

There was some discussion about how to proceed, and the party decided they needed to rest and regain their spent magic.  Mongo and Gutboy were intent on staying in the relative safety of the Cod-Man lair, but could not figure out how to sleep in 2' deep water.  Eventually they come up with the plan that they should all become floating heads, and take turns supporting sleeping Rufus and their gear using their telekinetic powers.

The only hitch with this bizarre sleeping arrangement was that Trezgar was unable to evolve - the machine intoned "Hybridization prevents further analysis."  So his sleeping body was elevated using telekinesis as well.

After a good night's rest, the group slowly floated off into the dungeon, with Trezgar and Rufus staying a good distance behind, to avoid being damaged by the hyper-group's mental blasts.

Their first encounter occurred a scant few dozen feet into the dungeon - a group of four green-and-purple freaks with hideous faces (sagging sacks of flesh under their eyes, cleft noses, and dangling foot-long forked tongues) and crystal-lensed boxes protruding from their chests emerged from the darkness.  They yammered excitedly, and began twisting knobs on the boxes embedded in their bodies - shining beams of light shone forth at the faces of Hyper-Mongo, Hyper-William, Hyper-Bunny, and Hyper-Gutboy.  Horrifyingly, their faces became exchanged with the freaks - who immediately began running off into the darkness, shrieking "I'm handsome!  So handsome!"

Trezgar ran forward and cast his Sleep spell - three of the freaks collapsed face down into the water, but the fourth (with Hyper-Bunny's face) got away, its shouts of "I'm a pretty girl!" echoing in the distance.  Bunny began howling disconsolately about how her face had been stolen, while the others levitated the sleeping freaks out of the water.

Gutboy used his mind powers to twiddle the knobs on Williams' freak's box, and a beam of light once again short forth - William's face was returned to him.  Gutboy and Mongo then returned their own faces, and Trezgar slit the throats of the three sleepers.  They then decided their most urgent task was to recover Bunny's lost face, so they instructed Rufus to follow the trail.  Sadly, the blink dog was unable to follow a scent trail in 2' of water, so they just headed off in the direction of the goblin lair, hoping that the face-stealing freak was in that general direction.  Bunny was unimpressed with the plan.

The vague directions brought them to the end of a 30' wide corridor, with a few archways leading to side passages, and a 12' tall statue of a long-haired ape-man.  The face on this ape-man screwed off as well, but Gutboy simply screwed it back on this time.

They proceeded into one of the archways, and came across a featureless bronze door, with no handle.  Mongo used his telekinetic prowess to pull the door open regardless, and a horrible stench wafted out - a 20' long dead albino catfish lay within the room.  They probed at the rotting fish-corpse with their minds, and a segmented worm lunged out of the rotting flesh, snapping at the mental fields protecting their fragile infant-bodies.  The hyper-group combined their mind powers, and pummeled the worm into oblivion with a series of mind-blasts.  Hyper-Mongo was relieved to find that his damaged mental shield quickly regenerated itself.

Thinking back to their comrade Razoe, who was unable to make it on this expedition, and his predilection for disemboweling corpses, they decided to use their minds to tear the catfish apart.  They were happily surprised to find a pair of gold spheres within the catfish's stomach.  They then tore apart the worm, and found a third gold sphere within that corpse.

Happy with their find, they opened a door beyond - and were shocked as over a dozen hooked tentacles reached around the door, pushing it all the way open.  The tentacles were attached to what looked like giant clams, and quickly dragged the clamshells along as they yanked their way to the rotting catfish.  The party floated back as fast as they could - fortunately the clam-monsters were only interested in the dead fish.

Satisfied with their haul, they headed back to the Cod-Man lair, annihilating a giant salamander on the way back - it had been munching on the face-freak corpses they had left behind.  They went to Chief Pyceen's chamber, where their equipment had been piled - the chief mumbled something about everything but the swords being too big to fit in the egg, so they had dumped it on a table instead.  The egg referred to was metal, 1' wide, with a 5" hatch in its side, sitting upon a tripod in a corner of the room.

Mongo grumbled about not being able to find the goblin's lair - the chief looked at their map, pointed at the other archway at the far end of the tunnel, and said "It's there. Duh."  The group then returned to the chair of evolution, and devolved themselves back into humans (although sadly, Bunny's face remained as that of the hideous freak).  Only Rufus remained as a blink dog, refusing to devolve from his new improved state.

And here out session ended, with the party remaining safely (?) ensconced in the lair of the Cod-Men.

Gains: three gold spheres (400 gp each)
Kills: 3 face freaks, 1 giant segmented sea-worm, 1 giant salamander
Losses: Bunny's face


ASE2-3 pricing

Here's what I'm doing for pricing on ASE2-3.  It's 147 pages, 50% longer than ASE1 (both word count and pages), took twice as long to write, and art cost are more than twice those in ASE1.  So I intend to net $15 per sale rather than the $10 I net for ASE1.

That puts prices at:

ASE2-3 Publisher Grade Paper (int'l shipping is expensive) - $25.09
ASE2-3 Standard Paper (cheaper for international shipping) - $26.56
ASE2-3 PDF - $17.66

I think that's fair for nearly 150 pages.

I'm also debating the need for a publisher grade option at all, but hey, $1.45 savings, so I suppose it's useful.


Layout for ASE2-3 is DONE

Layout is DONE!

All I've got left is player handouts now, there's one that I'm doing (just showing piano keys, a hint for a puzzle in the Tomb of Metal), and waiting on a hopefully minor treasure map revision.

So with any luck I'll have proofs by next week, and this thing should be up for sale a little before Thanksgiving.

Oh and I have to put together the cover, but that's pretty easy.  The front cover's already done, here's a sneak peak:


session recap, 10/25/2012

This session was pretty short - Razoe's player couldn't make it, Gutboy's player was 2 hours late, and George's player was a no-show.  It happens sometimes!

Mongo the Fighter (4), his henchpersons "Bunny" the Thief (1) and William the Sentinel (1), and his soil-bearers Malazar and Benarto
Gutboy the Cleric (4), his henchman Trezgar the Elf (1) and his dog Rufus II

Mongo and Gutboy were sitting around the apartment, wondering how to kill some time - a return to the lair of the Moktars seemed a delightful excursion, and away they went.

This time, they headed to Chelmsfordshire, to see what tax schemes were the Exalted and Chosen Brethren were cooking up. Talking with one of the hard-bitten adventurers loitering in the village green, it turned out to be something a little more peculiar - one of the Exalted Brothers had sponsored "Slezgar's Law," a regulation designed to prevent tragedies such as the untimely death of Denethix's beloved Slezgar - now all adventuring parties had to register before heading off to the dungeon.  They commiserated with the nameless adventurer, who explained how most of them just skirted around Chelmsfordshire now - not that Mongo and Gutboy would ever try to circumvent a city regulation.

Mongo and Gutboy decided to head west to the dungeon without registering, and were quickly intercepted by a guardsman from the Unyielding Fist

Fist: "Hold up, there. Where are your papers?"
Gutboy: "Oh, we don't have those.  We're not adventuring, we're just going to Denethix."
Fist:  "Denethix is east."
Gutboy (trying to push past): "Yes, of course it is!"
Fist (pointing back the way they came): "The other east."

Gutboy gave up his feeble ruse, and the duo (with their train) headed back east towards Denethix, immediately doubling back and around Chelmsfordshire once they were out of sight.  Camping in the woods overnight, they were beset by a half-dozen stirges - the combat was short, but sadly one of Mongo's dirt-bearers (which exactly I don't remember) was drained dry, the bloated and satiated stirge flapping listlessly away after its feast.  The only notable grieving was of the henchman William, who now had to carry a backpack full of dirt.

In the Moktar lair, there was a brief exploration of some of the flooded western tunnels:

a. A room with a flickering God's Eye, displaying a blonde man in a black suit with angular features.  The words "establishing contact... insufficient signal strength... retrying..." were whispered repeatedly.

b. A black room with a pedestal that had a broken iron rod sticking out of it

c. A white room with a pedestal that had a vibrating tall iron rod sticking out of it.  Mongo poked at it with his 20' extending pole, and nothing happened.

b. A short dead-end hall - walking through the water here, Mongo and William suddenly tumbled down a submerged staircase.  They quickly clambered back up the stairs, and were followed by a giant crab.  The beast was dispatched, but Mongo took quite a beating - and it turned out his soil had been drained of nutrients.

At this point, the party headed back towards the entrance to fetch fresh soil for Mongo.  On the way, they ran into a group of over a dozen goblins wearing clothes of shiny silver fabric, led by a 6' tall goblin with a huge head, carrying a laser pistol and wearing flowing silvery robes.  The tall goblin began speaking.

Goblin: "Ahh, I know you, surface worlders."
Mongo: "What? Where?"
Goblin: "I am Grolikus.  Do you remember me now?"
Mongo (a glimmer of recall on his face):  "Oh, in the dungeon, right."
Goblin: "I commanded you to stay and you defied me!  Now, you will show me the way to the surface world!"
Gutboy:  "Well, what's in it for us?"
Trezgar (Gutboy's elven henchman):  "Aieee! It's in my head!"
Goblin:  "I see you have brought one of our creations with you.  They are flawed, but still useful."
Gutboy: "You made elves?"
Goblin:  "Yes, they are a failed experiment.  Now step aside."

The party stood aside to let the goblin troop pass - Gutboy briefly considered dropping the portcullis near the entrance to the Moktar lair on them, but after all, discretion is the better part of valor.

And there our session ended...

Gains: none
Kills: 5 stirges, 1 giant crab
Losses: Soil-bearer