the_gneech: (Default)

Uncanny Midnight Tales, by John 'The Gneech' Robey

Madison Beacon-Examiner handout for UMT Back in 2008, I was a huge fan of Star Wars Saga Edition, and in some ways it’s still my favorite iteration of the d20 engine. For this game, I created a Call of Cthulhu tribute game, Uncanny Midnight Tales. With Halloween a mere two weeks away, I thought now might be a good time to once again share it with the world!

Watch out, Not Howard Carter!What’s presented is not a complete game– it requires the Star Wars Saga Edition rulebook to play (and of course, SWSE was not OGL, so there isn’t any SRD for it), but for the most part it could be played in 5E with little alteration. But it does include character creation, equipment, and a Gamemaster Guide with a ready-to-go adventure and a collection of creature and monster stats.

Really, the entire project was more an excuse for me to create “my vision” of what a d20-based CoC might look like, but I had a lot of fun with it and creating all the handouts, and I don’t want it to be lost to the world. So go forth! Click on any of the images and have some spoopy fun this Halloween, on me!

-The Gneech

the_gneech: (Yog-Sothothery)
Session four of The Keep On the Borderlands took a turn for the weird(er) last night. After kicking the collective butt of Red Hand Harry's gang last time (and reaching 3rd level), the party made a big ol' bandit bonfire with the bodies (carefully making sure it was downwind), then set up camp for the tiny little bit of night that was left.

The King in YellowPer their usual routine, they intended to camp in three shifts, with two people up and on watch the whole time. Whoever took the middle watch... I'm not going to name names or anything... closed their eyes for just a second... and...

The party were suddenly all awake, with full gear, sitting in a campsite in a complex of caves, with no idea where they were or how they got there. After a few moments of WTFing, [ profile] sirfox's rogue Nikki figured he'd better check to make sure they were weren't any beasties sneaking up on them, only to discover... beasties sneaking up on them. Specifically it was four gricks– strange wolf-sized snake-worm things with tentacles and a beak where their heads should be.

The gricks were dispatched, but the evening wasn't about to get any less weird. Nikki scouted ahead to find that the caves all led to a large central chamber with a bottomless pit in the middle with altars on either side of it, and four differently-colored magic circles in each corner of the chamber. Standing in the yellow circle was a strange figure in tattered yellow robes, wearing a pale mask and a crown. Floating over each altar was a grell– bizarre monstrosities that consisted of a large, floating brain surrounded by tentacles and also with a beak. Larger cousins of the gricks? Something else entirely?

Aw hell, it's a grell!Whatever they were, the party decided (not unreasonably) that there was nothing in there that would do them any good, but there also seemed to be no way around it but through it. Miskan the purrsian bard determined that the one magic circle he could see (red) acted as some form of gate, while also acting as a damage buffer to anyone standing in it, which suggested the other magic rings also had some sort of function. So most the party bunched up at one entrance ready to rush in, while Togar (the dragonborn paladin) and Drang (the storm cleric) strode in through the entrance closest to the Yellow King to confront him.

As soon as they entered, the grell scooped up amulets bearing the Yellow Sign from the altars, carrying them towards the two groups as if in offering (despite Nikki's confidence that his scouting had gone completely undetected). In their minds, the characters heard a deep voice proclaim, "Kneel before me, for I am your king! There is no escape, even in death. Give yourselves freely, and be rewarded!"

This, as might be expected, didn't go over well. The most polite response was Togar's bellow of "Never!" although some of the less polite responses were also quite entertaining. The grell dropped the amulets on the floor and advanced menacingly, and battle was joined.

Togar attempted to tackle the King in Yellow, only to go flying right through him as it was just a projection, but also felt an unpleasant burning sensation when passing through the yellow circle. As the melee commenced, zombies began to appear in the middle of each circle, adding to the mayhem.

The fight was a tense, long battle. Fortunately for the PCs, the grell's attempts to grapple them were not succeeding, but unfortunately the zombies proved annoyingly durable, repeatedly being reduced to 0 hit points, only to stand right back up again. The players decided that the best way to deal with the zombies was to grapple them and shove them into the bottomless pit. This tactic proved quite effective, largely because the zombies kept rolling really badly to avoid the initial grapple.

Nikki and Rina the wood elf ranger, trying to find some way of breaking the Yellow King's sending, decided to destroy the altars by shoving them into the bottomless pits as well. This did have the effect of causing the vision of the Yellow King to vanish with a cruel chuckle, but the fight carried on. One grell was dispatched in messy fashion all over Sheala the elf magical girl wizard; the other was simply slain in a more straightforward manner. Finally the last zombie was tossed down the hole, and the characters all immediately woke up... in the bandit tower, no worse for wear other than being a bit freaked out.

It was late morning by that point, so the characters stuck with their agenda. Unfortunately, [ profile] sirfox had to bail for the last half of the session, so we decided to stick to mostly non-critical things in his absence. Red Hand Harry and the other two captured bandits were hauled back to the keep, along with all the recovered trade goods and captured gear. The Corporal of the Watch and Bailiff Delahuge were quite impressed at the capture of Red Hand Harry. The Bailiff didn’t have the funds on hand to deliver the reward immediately (they don’t keep that kind of money in the Outer Bailey), so the party was instructed to wait for a summons.

Then, there was shopping. Oddwall the blacksmith and Garrick the trapper bought armor and arrows respectively, but the group still ended up with ten sets of armor that nobody would take. The bandits' horses were also sold. Lizbeth the innkeeper wouldn’t let Sheala store the remaining armor in her room (“It smells up the place and is against the rules of the Keep besides!”) so eventually the group broke down and paid 1 gp/week to store it in the Keep warehouse.

Curian the jeweler was quite distraught at the news his caravan was never coming. The group inquired why he didn’t just travel with the guardsmen and the provisioners on their regular weekly trip to [next town west], to which he replied he wanted to go all the way to Pellak (capital of the kingdom), but the roads weren’t safe to travel alone. Apparently being stuck without a caravan in the Keep was still preferable to being stuck without a caravan in a podunk farming town.

Miskan and Nikki (by proxy) killed some time performing in the tavern, during which they heard a rumor that an elf had disappeared traveling across the marshes and that his companions were still looking for him.

The session ended when Percival (the nebbishy scribe who took the party's names and descriptions on their first arrival at the Keep) came and delivered a notarized summons for the party to enter the Inner Bailey and speak with Lord Blakewell the next morning.

This session's strange dream sequence battle with the minions of Hastur was something I cooked up completely, partially to take a break from dungeon corridors and tromping around the woods, but also to give Seifer a taste of 3E/4E style encounter design in contrast to the more old-school flavor of running Keep On the Borderlands straight. I was actually surprised, after the fact, at my own reaction to it– Ugh! XD It was a nice reminder of what a breath of fresh air 5E was.

I also felt a little bad about the negation of Nikki's sneaking, after last session when he so carefully blocked off the doors of the bandit hideout, only to have the bandits jump out the windows. In both cases there were reasons why it went that way (the Yellow King created the whole scenario so he knew what the players were doing the whole time in this session, and the bandits were simply panicked and would have jumped out the window either way in the previous), but it's always kind of unsatisfying to have to tell a player "It was a good idea, but it didn't help." On the other hand, Nikki got good use out of his new swashbuckler archetype abilities (from Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide), so that was good at least.

No game session next week due to family visits. But when we get back to it, it'll be time to finally meet Lord Blakewell.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Yog-Sothothery)

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Yog-Sothothery)
the_gneech: (Kero Magic Whupass)
The Daily Dot: Why Do "Good Guy" Movies Get a Bad Rap?
Of course, the idea of Captain America as “boring” has already been debunked by the $580 million his new movie just made at the box office. What we’re really talking about here isn’t Captain America as a character, but the way we react to blockbuster movie protagonists who aren’t morally ambiguous antiheroes.

In the 21st century, this kind of pure-hearted, optimistic hero is too often seen as childish and shallow, hence why so many people perceive Cap to be a stodgy do-gooder. The assumption is that in order to modernize an old-fashioned hero into a “serious” character, he needs to get darker. In other words, the infamous gritty reboot.

No matter how much time the Captain America films spend on real-world topics like PTSD and surveillance culture, in many people’s eyes they will never be truly respectable until the lead character starts acting like an asshole.

Good article. I was particularly amused by its description of CA:WS as an "F.U." to Man of Steel.

Unrelated Click Roundup...

Cathulhu -- A third party supplement for Call of Cthulhu in which all the players are cats, played perfectly straight and completely within the lore. That's pretty damn awesome.

13 Free Photoshop Smoke Brushes -- If you're like me (and I know I am), cool and funky Photoshop brushes should make you squee at least a little.

And finally, c/o
Whippet! Whippet good.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Archie do)
I am a fan of some problematic things. In fact, I'd go as far as to say many problematic things. When I stop to examine it, it's actually kind of daunting. Just for starters...

Robert E. Howard: Huge racism problems. Huge misogyny problems. Usually not hatred so much as ignorance and constant "othering," but occasionally quite nasty.

H.P. Lovecraft: Just plain rampant xenophobia, where "other" is defined as "anyone not a white male from the gentry of 1700s Britain". Including himself. In his defense, there are at least the glimmerings of recognition that these strange alien beasts are actually people too.

P.G. Wodehouse: A certain strain of "female of the species is more deadly than the male" misogyny, that seems to stem from a combination of putting women on a pedestal and then being disappointed when they turn out not to be saints. Not actually hateful, but tiresome in large doses. As for race? Well, there are no non-white people anywhere, although "savage natives" are occasionally referenced.

Rex Stout: Summed up best by Nero Wolfe's line, "Any woman who is not a fool is dangerous." On the other hand, the Wolfe stories are filled with independent women in control of their own fates, so it's hard to say how much is actual authorial misogyny and how much is Nero and Archie's in-character attitudes and general snarkiness. I'm told there are racism issues in books of his I have not read, but I have no firsthand knowledge on that score.

Tolkien: Orcs, an entire race born to evil. Men of the east and south (i.e., Turks, Indians, Africans) willing servants of the evil lord and being held back by the virtuous proto-Hellenic and proto-Britannic peoples. Women, when they appear, being unearthly, angelic creatures that you must strive to be worthy of and will never really be, although they might be nice enough to stoop down to your level. For a bit.

Star Trek: It tried its best and was revolutionary in its context, but it still had episodes with messages such as "she could have had as rewarding a life as any woman if she hadn't tried to be a captain" and a general theme of "we advanced peoples shouldn't interfere with those child-like natives." Not to mention institutional miniskirts and an awful speech by Yeoman Rand begging Kirk to look at her legs.

All of these things are formative works for me, which I've studied in varying amounts of depth, and I love them, warts and all. But I have to recognize the problem elements for what they are, and do my best to make sure they don't get carried forward in my own work.

Doin' my best. :) Open to suggestions.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Ghostbusters)
You remember those black slime creatures in Pinebox, WV? They pretty much looked like this.

Gaaah! case you were wondering.

the_gneech: (Yog-Sothothery)

This one’s not actually mine, so instead of just copying it wholesale, I’ll link it for you:

Errant d20 Designer: Cthulid

It’s a CR 9 large humanoid, something like a cross between an ogre and a mind flayer. Not as huge and epic as a star-spawn of Cthulhu, but definitely an “Oh #&^%@!!!” moment for most parties. Makes a great solo/final boss for a level 7-8 adventure with a Lovecraftian/Howardian vibe.

It’s currently written with psi-like abilities (c/o Psionics Unleashed, which is thought of by many as the “core” psionic rules for Pathfinder, even if it’s from a third party). The ability descriptions are in the d20PFSrd, but if you don’t want to use those, they could easily be swapped out for similar spell-like abilities instead.

Created by Tim Wallace. Nice job, Tim!

-The Gneech

PS: Yes, I know it’s not really Monday. ;P

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

the_gneech: (Rex Dart Eskimo Spy!)

Sleestak, Skeksi, Tellarites
Morloks eating trilobites
Wormhole, portal, dimensional rift
Klaatu barada, catch my drift?
Ghostly creatures of living gas
this planet is forbidden; none shall pass!
Atlantis, Lemuria, the land of Mu
Autotrepanation is bad juju
Frozen in time and lost in space
in a vinyl playset with a carrying case
Shoggoths quiver, phantoms creep
androids dream of electric sheep
It can happen here! Watch the skies!
Search a thousand years for the girl with green eyes
’cause when the worlds collide and Mars attacks?
It’s just a show, so just relax.

-The Gneech


Originally published at You can comment here or there.

the_gneech: (seasonal 2013)
Stolen from [ profile] theweaselking:

Man Runs All Out of Bubblegum

Brilliant. :)

the_gneech: (Default)

I declare!
There’s something in my chair!
It’s giving me a scare
and I wish it wasn’t there.
Usually it’s rare
to see anything but air
in my seat below the stair
and its cushion with a tear.
I don’t suspect that it will share
and perhaps I should beware;
I could touch it if I dare
and its soul would be laid bare
but it’s giving me a glare
which I just don’t think is fair.
I should really grow a pair
and remove it from my lair.
Or to extract it from my hair
maybe I should ask the mayor?
But I think she just won’t care
about the something in my chair.

-The Gneech

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

the_gneech: (Rastan Kill Monsters)

I’ve been making a few noises about this for a while now, but the Players Handbook for my new Savage Worlds campaign inspired by Borderlands is finally ready!

Coventry Players Guide for Savage Worlds, by The Gneech
(click through for PDF)

From the guide:

Coventry is a gung-ho adventure campaign somewhere between Mad Max and Cowboy Bebop, with a side of Escape From L.A. The year is 2766 and your characters all live on the quarantined prison world of Coventry, trying to make your way as best you can among the local monsters, the faction wars, the octane-sucking racing circuit, and of course the occasional insane robot. You might be a local, born and raised on Coventry, you might have been “dropped” here, or you might even have arrived here by accident due to a shipwreck or other mishap. However you came to be here, however, it’s all but impossible to leave.

The prison world of Coventry originally appeared in my Star Hero campaign in the early ’90s (Holy crap, was that really 20 years ago? O.o), and I’ve toyed with the idea of running a game there off and on many times since then, but it wasn’t until the Savage Worlds setting 50 Fathoms, combined with playing Borderlands 2, that a solid vision of how to make it work as a campaign finally gelled. By using the Savage Worlds “Plot Point” model, all I have to do is toss out a few hooks and let the players create the actual campaign, by fleshing out the ones they bite on.

Coventry as it appears here is a bit different from my initial conception in details, but much the same in spirit. I originally pictured it as a kind of “lost world” jungle setting with megafauna and people attempting to carve civilization out of it without help from the outside, but after playing Borderlands the idea of it being more like a dystopian “through the looking glass” world full to the brim with its own variety of Mad Hatters really appealed to me. This version is also in a separate continuity from my Star Hero game, not so much to avoid any clash with previous continuity (assuming any of could even remember the previous continuity), as just for stylistic reasons.

I’m thinking about trying to write up the setting for eventual publication as an officially-licensed Savage Worlds setting, but that will take time, development, and probably a Kickstarter campaign to finance some non-cribbed artwork. What I’ve got here is a draft/proof-of-concept more than anything else, but I’m pleased with it and I think the group will have fun with it.

…After we finish the current Ghostbusters scenario, of course. ¬.¬

Still! Players, start your thinkers. If all goes well, we could be playing this game on the 29th.

-The Gneech

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

the_gneech: (Ghostbusters)

The figures are done! After a few sessions of the Savage World of Ghostbusters using the closest minis I had on hand, I decided I had to have proper GB minis. I took a long look at Carmen’s Fun Painty Time set of Ghostbusters minis, and while I don’t have Carmen’s sculpting chops, I am pretty pleased with the final result. For those interested in the process, I figured I’d write up some details here. You can click through any of the pics to see larger versions.

Read the rest of this entry  )

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

the_gneech: (NIMH Scariest Icon)
Office post-lunch food coma... BRAAAAIIIINSSS...

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Alex Spaz)
Yesterday I accomplished pretty much nothing... but in my defense, I am sick and I haven't had a whole day off from "doing stuff" in some time. Mostly I spent the day either sleeping, or skirting the no-man's-land where you're not actually sleeping, but too sleepy to actually do anything, effectively having the worst of both worlds.

On the other hand, in the evening we went over to the Rathbunnery and played "Cards Against Humanity" and "Mansions of Madness," which were fun. In "MoM," the heroes were one turn away from actually winning when doom fell upon them, which is a much better showing than our first game, where they all pretty much died horrible deaths. We still haven't got a proper hang of the rules yet, so they kept alternatively having it either too easy or too hard, but the rules are scattered all over the books, which makes it a little hard to find things on the fly. I'm thinking of writing up a summary cheat sheet.

Today, I have to try to do some job work from home to make up hours I spent sitting in the doctor's office earlier this week. (I need to do this, because I have no vacation hours, but will be sitting around the doctor's office again this coming week. :P) Time permitting, I also hope to work on commissions and/or to-do-list stuff that didn't get done over the week.

*deep breath* Wish me luck. *jumps in*

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Ghostbusters)

When the Metro Authority called in the D.C. Ghostbusters to report a “dragon” was chewing up the rails between Roslyn and Foggy Bottom, in the deepest part of the tunnels under the Potomac River, the Gang in Grey had no idea what they were going to find down there… and once they did find it, they still had no idea what it was!

Turns out it was an electrophagic byakhoid, leaked into our dimension from the world/plane/whatever the group refers to as “Saturn,” during the incident of black slime portals opening up in the apartment of artist Klaus Furuhobendamengal, creating a lair for itself where it could feed off of the electric generators used to run the Metro trains. The byakhoid was chewing on the third rail so it could feed off of the powerful electric shocks.

Byakhee by ~christopherburdett on deviantART

♠ Byakhoid, Electrophagic

Unclassified (Non-Spectral) Transdimensional Servitor Creature
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d12, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d6, Notice d6, Psionics (Arcane) d6, Stealth d6
Pace: 4/16; Flight 16″ (Climb 4″), Parry: 5, Toughness: 10(2), Charisma: 0
Special Abilities:
Arcane Psionics: Gain the Psionics arcane background
Impr Frenzy: Attack twice with no penalty on Fighting rolls
Claws: (Str+d4)
Electrophagic: This creature feeds on electricity. On any turn this creature is hit by an electrical or quasi-electrical attack (including proton packs), it gains the Regeneration (Fast) ability and 2 Power Points, which disappear at the end of its turn. (This only happens once per turn; additional hits are not cumulative.)
Fear -3: Enemies roll Guts check with Fear rating as modifier
Natural Armor: +2
Size +2: Adjustment to Toughness based on creature’s mass
Star Travel: This creature can fly between the stars.
Arcane Powers (10 Power Points):
Blast: Targets in Medium Blast Template take 2d6 damage; Double points adds +d6 damage OR Large Burst
Bolt: Single bolt 2d6 damage; Up to 3 bolts at 1pt per bolt; 2pts does one 3d6 bolt
Damage Field: Anyone touching target takes 2d6 damage, 2d8 damage on a Raise

Text by John “The Gneech” Robey. Artwork by Christopher Burdett. Ghostbusters copyright Sony Pictures and used for fan purposes only. Stat block created by Hero Lab® (Registered Trademarks of LWD Technology, Inc. Free download at Savage Worlds is Copyright © 2004-2012 by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. All rights reserved.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

the_gneech: (Yog-Sothothery)
So, this image popped up on my watches last night:

Igor the Modified Henchman by *Gworeth on deviantART

And I couldn't help it... this song popped into my head:

Igor the modified henchman
had a very horrid arm
and if you looked at him sideways
it would do your sanity harm

All of the other henchmen
used to laugh and call him names
they never let poor Igor
join in any henchman games

Then one horrid Hallow's Eve
Cthulhu came to say
"Igor with your arm so foul
won't you wear my High Priest's cowl?"

Then how the henchmen loved him
as they shouted maddeningly,
"Igor the modified henchman,
you've blasted all my sanity!"

You've blaaaasted all my saaaaaaniiiiiiityyyyy!

And now... it's in your head. Mwuhahahahahaa!

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Yog-Sothothery)

NOTE: This actually looks better in my LiveJournal. The posting munges the format something awful.

And it’s upon us another year!

Look to the sky
way up on high
There in the night
stars are now right

Eons have passed          Fear
now then at last          the
prison walls break        Old
Old Ones awake            Ones

They will return          They                     Fear
Mankind will learn        will                     the
new kinds of fear         re-                      Old
when they are here        turn                     Ones

They will reclaim         They will reclaim        They will reclaim         They will reclaim
all in their name         all in their name        all in their name         all in their name
Hopes turn to black       Hopes turn to black      Hopes turn to black       Hopes turn to black
when they come back       when they come back      when they come back       when they come back

Ignorant fools            Ignorant fools           They                      Ignorant fools
Mankind now rules         Mankind now rules        will                      Mankind now rules
where they ruled then     where they ruled then    walk the                  where they ruled then
It's theirs again         It's theirs again        Earth again               It's theirs again

Stars brightly burning    They will return         Stars brightly burning    They will return
boiling and churning      Mankind will learn       up in the gloom           Mankind will learn
bode a returning          new kinds of fear        bode a returning          new kinds of fear
season of doom            when they are here       season of doom            when they are here

Scary scary scary         They                     Look to the sky           They
scary solstice            will return              there up on high          will
very very very            They                     Stars brightly burn       re-
scary solstice            will return              Old Ones return           turn

Up from the sea           Bring-                   Bring-                    Bring-
from underground          ing                      ing                       ing
down from the sky         cer-                     cer-                      cer-
They're all around        tain                     tain                      tain

They will return          Doom!                    Doom!                     Doom!
Mankind will learn        ...                      ...                       ...
new kinds of fear         ...                      ...                       ...
when they are here        ...                      ...                       ...

Look to the sky           Fear
way up on high            the
There in the night        Old
stars are now right       Ones

Eons have passed          They                     Fear
now then at last          will                     the
prison walls break        re-                      Old
Old Ones awake            turn                     Ones

Madness will reign        Madness will reign       Madness will reign        Madness will reign
terror and pain           terror and pain          terror and pain           terror and pain
Woes without end          Woes without end         Woes without end          Woes without end
where they extend         where they extend        where they extend         where they extend

Ignorant fools            Ignorant fools           They                      Ignorant fools
Mankind now rules         Mankind now rules        will                      Mankind now rules
where they ruled then     where they ruled then    master this               where they ruled then
It's theirs again         It's theirs again        planet again              It's theirs again

Stars brightly burning    They will return         Stars brightly burning    They will return
boiling and churning      Mankind will learn       up in the gloom           Mankind will learn
bode a returning          new kinds of fear        bode a returning          new kinds of fear
season of doom            when they are here       season of doom            when they are here

Scary scary scary         They                     They will return          They
scary solstice            will return              Mankind will learn        will
Very very very            they                     new kinds of fear         re-
scary solstice            will return              when they are here        turn

Up from the sea           Man                      Man                       Man
from underground          has                      should                    has
down from the sky         much                     fear                      much
They're all around        to                       to                        to

Fear                      Fear                     Look to the sky           Fear
...                       ...                      way up on high            ...
...                       ...                      There in the night        ...
...                       ...                      stars now are right       ...

They will return...       They will return...      They will return...       They will return...

Care of The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

Merry Christmas. ;)

-The Gneech

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

the_gneech: (Yog-Sothothery)

Ponynomicon by ~the-gneech on deviantART

Princess Celestia warned you to stop reading those old books, Twilight! Now you're gonna become an evil enchantress who does evil dances!

I guess it's really true, fiendshrimp is magic...

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Yog-Sothothery)
It's a little early for my annual posting of this song, but it's worth it.

For a kids' show about rainbow colored ponies, there sure is a lot of madness, horror, and monsters...

-The Gneech

April 2019

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