Kung Fury and Wizard Cop

Look, I don’t have much to add. You just need to watch these, okay?

kung fury posterKUNG FURY


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Reskinning the elves.

Jack Shear reskinned the traditional races when he made Devilmount, the parody of Dwimmermount. My favorite reskin was to use the same mechanics for dwarves, but to replace them with gray men. That really captured my imagination.

gray men armor

This weekend I had another thought. Where Jack replaced the elves with tieflings (which is also great) I realized how awesome it would be to replace them with kaminoans.


Replace “longsword and longbow” with “spear” for favored weapon (if necessary, or at least in the fluff) and leave the rest as it is. I think that’s an amazing effect.

Here is a rough approximation of how that would scale out and how it would look.

kamoinoan elf comparisonThey could wear a device called “neck shoulders” and walk “folded” to fit in among humans, in roughly this shape.

k elf folded

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More Blades in the Dark

First Adventure. Our session was three hours, with two heists and two downtimes.


Wolfram Keel and Aldo Nyman answered the call from Casta, Wolfram’s bounty hunter friend. She got beaten up by the bluecoats because they were asking questions about her brother Bertram, and she didn’t like their tone, so she “resisted.” Now the bluecoats suspect her of aiding and abetting him, so she has to get out of sight; their attention on her daily business would be ruinous, because she does some illegal things on a regular basis.

While she hid in their safehouse under Adeleide’s Phrenological Emporium, they investigated her brother’s whereabouts. By day, a mild-mannered clerical worker for the University. By night, he hung around Seven Shallows, a rough neighborhood in Crow’s Foot. He spent lots of time in places he couldn’t afford every night on his pay, so he was likely involved in gang activity of some sort.

Further, they discovered that Inspector Kiva was investigating a ring of plasm smugglers and/or manufacturers operating out of Crows Foot. She was the force behind the heat to find Bertram because he was connected with the plasm smugglers somehow. The bluecoats didn’t care, and many were in the pay of local gangs, but they had to answer to the Inspector.

Catfish Bait

Wolfram and Aldo went to a tavern called the Catfish Bait in Seven Shallows; Aldo talked to Baz, who knew the bartender, a man named Limp. The night was deep and foggy, but inside, the tavern was glum and violent. They chatted up Limp, who warned them not to get involved with the dangerous Skovlan gang that laired in the place.

Wolfram and Aldo saw the balcony from which the Skovlan thugs surveyed the tavern. Wolfram scouted the outside, seeing where the gang came and went via a drawbridge to the Skovlan fishing warehouse roof next door, and another basement back door. Meanwhile, Aldo watched the knife fights and betting inside. Fights were to first blood, between men tied together at one wrist, with each victory earning more of the betting profits.

Iruvians and Skovlans had an informally racist contest going, and Wolfram entered to set up Aldo for success. Aldo, a wiry Skovlan, incited the Iruvians so racial violence simmered close to the surface as the knife fight started. It came to a desperate clinch, and Aldo toppled back and cracked the unfortunate Iruvian’s skull on the fireplace, killing him.

Violence erupted, the Skovlans and Iruvians at each other’s throats with blades. Wolfram leaped up on a table, egging them on, and drove them back as his armor was cut to ribbons; Aldo prevented the Iruvians from flanking the indomitable whaler as he lay about himself with a deadly hook and a grasping hand. When it was over, the Iruvians were routed, and one of them was on the gently swinging chandelier overhead.

The Skovlans celebrated with pride and drink, taking their newfound friends up to meet the boss, a trim Skovlan named Keenan. They also saw Bertram upstairs, as well as a number of sword women.

Aldo laid it all out for Keenan, honestly explaining about Casta and her brother and the bluecoats and so on, offering to help. Bertram passionately interrupted, complaining his sister was not to be trusted, nor any of her friends. Keenan didn’t kill Aldo and Wolfram, but didn’t trust them either; his men hurled them from the second floor roof, they fell to the cobbled streets.

Wolfram tucked and rolled, but Aldo bounced off a bluecoat paddywagon that was rattling by. (Aldo took 1 trauma, his first.) Barely conscious, he pointed out the thugs to the bluecoats, who waved to the Skovlans and laughed. They were on the payroll. They drove off, leaving Wolfram and Aldo to limp home battered and unsuccessful.


As they healed up and rested for a long weekend, Wolfram’s spies reported that the illegal leviathan blood trade was focused on a sally port somewhere in Seven Shallows. The scoundrels otherwise healed up and prepared to go after Bertram, for whom they now nursed a sullen rage.

Tyrol, a Skovlan thug, led a group that held several of Vincen’s gang hostage. Aldo and Wolfram traded some expensive books to get their adepts back; Tyrol explained it was just business, pointing out the Catfish Crew knew how to reach them.

Jettilyn’s Boathouse

Asking around, they discovered the only reason Keenan and the Catfish Crew put up with Bertram was because he was the new boy toy for a powerful whisper named Jettilyn. She lived in a boat brought into town, turned upside down, and adapted to be a house. She surrounded her house with a cemetery of dead domestic animals. The tavern across the street always had relaxing Skovlans so if there was a disturbance they could help.

Wolfram and Aldo brought their gang of adepts to conduct a ritual to suppress magical defenses so they could get into the boat house at 3 a.m. Even with the extra-expensive ingredients (special rabbit fetuses and the like) the mist of trap suppression didn’t quite make it to the door. Figuring their special charms would have to carry them the rest of the way, the intrepid scoundrels closed on the house.

As Aldo used the special spirit lock-pick charm they had purchased for the mission, it twisted in his hand and activated the trap on the door. The latch was closed with hair, and the hair grew into his body, through his veins, towards his heart. Meanwhile the gargoyle perched on the tavern shuddered to life and swooped at them.

Wolfram blew the gargoyle away with electroplasmic shot, then turned his guns on the trap; he shot it up and Aldo vomited out the last of the invasive hair. Attracted by the noise, Skovlan toughs poured out of the tavern; however, after discarding a number of risky plans involving their adept gang, Wolfram and Aldo had engaged the services of one of Baz’s super-tough Lampblack gangs. They were to drink with the Skovlans, then distract them when the attack went down. A brawl broke out.

Wolfram and Aldo broke into the boat house, to find that it was bigger on the inside, and possibly out at sea. Jettilyn faced off with them, and Bertram was unwounded but covered in blood and somewhat strung out at her side, terrified to see the scoundrels. Wolfram raced over and snatched him while Aldo held Jettilyn’s attention. She threatened to meet him in his dreams, getting a foothold in his psyche. Then the rogues escaped back into the less-weird world.

They dropped Bertram off at the hotel where Inspector Kiva was known to stay, not trusting him with bluecoats who may return him to the Catfish Crew. Reward found its way to them through Casta and back channels.


Wolfram finally got a break in his investigation of leviathan blood; a crew of limmers were operating out of Seven Shallows. (He has 5 of the 6 segments to complete his project of figuring out part of the illegal leviathan blood trade!)

Aldo used some of his fortune, the adepts, lots of charms and such, and his fine charm to try and break Jettilyn’s hold on his dreams. He succeeded quickly, before she could do much damage.

Melbek, a thug working for the Crows, has an unnatural interest in whispers. Furious at how Aldo and Wolfram disrespected Jettilyn, he made a traitorous bid to push them out of some of their territory. Refusing to give an inch, Wolfram and Aldo will confront the backstabbing Crow–next time.

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Double Feature Review

double feature thumbnail

InfiniBadger Press has put out a double-feature for charity, the “St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Charity Module.” More to the point, it has Erik Jensen’s “Bonespur Glacier” module, and Jason Paul McCartan’s “The Tomb of Bashyr.”

The project started when Christopher Mennell ran a contest in 2012, with the first place prize being a professional work-up of the module. I do not know the long and dark road the project followed to get to this point, but one of the cool things about the OSR community is sometimes wayward projects get new personnel infusing them with energy and skill so they make it out in the end.

Bonespur Glacier

My favorite things about this one are likely summed up during and right after the introduction. I think the idea of polar bear people is pretty neat, and the description of the glacier is great. It has yellow-brown algae, so it looks like a chunk of bone. The algae blooms in the summer, so “the entire mountain looks like the haunch of a fresh kill.” Good stuff.

The module describes the polar bear village and testing ground. Also, some supernatural bandits. Also, a dragon lair. Also, a strange tomb. That is a lot going on, in really tight quarters!

The trouble is, I would need to add significant narrative to make the spaces immediately useful in a game. The bandits, sure. The tomb is very small, and would have to be the climax of a thematic adventure not provided here (or a very weird little side note.) Either way, it is better served being in a remote place, not tucked into the same confined space as the other elements. I feel the same way about the dragon; more likely to be a customer, quest giver, or sage than a foe; it is strange for the dragon to be so close to the polar bear people without any explicit relationship between them. I don’t need a map of a polar bear village for them to visit it, unless they’re going with larcenous or murderous intent.

The map is neither here nor there. It is not inspiring, but there isn’t anything wrong with it.

If I was going to run this, I’d reshuffle it a bit. Here’s how.

The people in the valley view the polar bear village with awe, as they are the keepers of ancient secrets. There was a girl tyrant once, with her vicious retinue; the polar bear people first came in answer to prayers, and took the unkillable girl away and sealed her up. Since then, a dragon came to watch over the valley, and they control the only way up to the dragon.

The adventure: a lich has hired them to find the secret of the proto-immortality of the girl queen. They go to the valley and find the tomb is protected by the polar bear people, who are not trusting outsiders right now because of their bandit troubles. Sort out the bandit troubles, and you can have access to the tomb and to the dragon sage (who secretly moved to this area to guard the secret in the tomb.)

No new stats, but that does involve a bit of a reshuffle story wise. Now there’s something to do, a reason to be there, a way the parts interrelate. Enterprising DMs can still use the pieces individually if they want, but if they are looking for a session or two of integrated play, it’s more purposeful.

Anyway, Erik Jensen excels at flavor and style, and this adventure is no different. From frozen soldiers in furs with rifles to a floor tiled with silver pieces under ice, his imagery is satisfying and great to relay to players.

The Tomb of Bashyr

Here you have it all. Goblins, a secret entrance, big vermin, piles of treasure, illusions, esoteric boobytraps, dwarven stonework, riddles, and room to expand. This is an unabashed dungeon crawl environment.

I think the mix of elements here is very evocative of the stereotypes of old school play, especially with the focus on thinking over raw physical might. There are weird magical riddles and traps, so you have to think things through and be cunning instead of just punching everything you see. There aren’t many monsters, but the ones that appear are iconic and entirely at home in the tradition of settings like this, right down to the customized skeletal statues.

In the best OSR DIY tradition, there’s an entrance to level 2. What are you waiting for? Get your graph paper out and keep going!

Closing Thoughts

The art is great. The adventures are neat. I have a soft spot in my heart for wayward projects that finally emerge into the light of day. We all know what it is like to have a great idea, then to lose our grip on it for one reason or another, and see it founder and sink. This project is cool in its own right, and it also has a winning underdog inspiring story to it, and the proceeds go to charity.

Lulu Paperback, PDF versionPWYW PDF version.

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Leviathans of Duskwall

(Some world-building for Blades in the Dark.)

The first instinct is to make leviathans whales, albeit demon whales. So they are slain and harvested, right? But that is not John Harper’s view. They are truly immortal; they cannot be slain, so harvesting their blood is done mosquito-style, until the leviathan breaks free. This changes things.

Maybe you still like having leviathan bone in your game, and blubber, and whale-skin leather, and so on. If you do, I have a way you can get there.


Before the industrialization of the leviathan blood really took off, the hunting was far less regulated. One of the most successful methods was pioneered by cultists who learned the lure for the leviathans from their demon consorts.

If the leviathan was within a certain distance of an appropriate beach, you could sacrifice humans in a proscribed ritual. Every dozen increased the range and power of the lure, topping out somewhere around 108 sacrifices.

The leviathan was drawn inexorably to the flowing blood of the ritual murders, plowing up onto the shore, gasping and beached. While it was there, you could get a good look at it.

Every leviathan’s propulsion is a bit different. There is a mix of flippers, whip tendrils, stubby legs, and other limbs. A specialized team of insane butchers would approach the beached leviathan and target one or more limbs, removing them with massive saws, blades, drag harnesses, and other equipment inspired by a combination of butchery and lumberjacking. One massive flipper might have a hundred pounds of bone in it. Leviathans stripped of one or more limbs could grow them back in time, so the resource was renewable.

This practice came to be known as limming, practiced by limmers. (The “b” of “limb” was dropped because it made pronunciation confusing.)

Now that industrial production requires harvested leviathan oil, and major companies (that are publicly acceptable) hunt the giants, the practice of limming is considered a distasteful relic of the past. Human sacrifice is not legal. Luring leviathans to the shore is irresponsible and dangerous. There is no need for whale meat or bone. Standard hunting techniques of the massive metal ships can garner some blubber, leather, and the necessary blood.

Still, the dark practice of limming is responsible for most of the whispers in the city; the fury of the leviathans in their weird blood changed those who tortured them at point-blank range and lived. Cultists carve demonic insights on leviathan bone, dreams processed through the human psyche and desperate to return to the demonic source. Get deep enough in the criminal world, or the religious world, and you’ll find limming is not quite as extinct as the civilized world pretends.

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First session of “Kapow!”

Now that my computer can handle it, and I’ve got the bandwidth and so forth, I can game online! So I was able to take advantage of the standing invitation to get in on the Wednesday “Kapow!” super hero game. Thanks to Keith Jacobson for running a fun game in a system I’ve never played in before!

I made a tough-guy experiment survivor who can fly, and has super strength, and invulnerability. First time he opened his mouth in play, I found out apparently he has a Russian accent, and that was just hilarious. He likes punching things in the face, maybe too much. He is Sky Warrior; his business card has his moniker, a phone number, and notes “face punching” as a service he offers.

He adventured with Warlock, the kung fu wizard; Spitfire Jane, the pistol-packing flier; and Equinox, master of elements. (Towards the end they were joined by Parallel, student of time and alternate realities.)

I think the simplest way to do this is to unpack the plot as explained in the past and as projected forward based on this adventure. Then I’ll do an action summary.

The Story

Eight months ago, a Maine coon cat named “the General” was hit by a car. Instead of euthanizing the cat, Dr. Steven Whittaker used the nanites he was researching at the university, injecting the cat (who had a full recovery.) The nanites left no traces in the repaired flesh; they dissipate, and do not self-replicate. The General became a mascot for the research lab.

Two weeks ago, Dr. Steven Whittaker went on vacation unexpectedly, to Key West (Florida.) He has not answered email or cell phone calls, and has not been seen since.

Two weeks ago, Extortion Inc. threatened the city with a Poisoning Plague. For a demonstration, they poisoned six concert goers, creating a scene of mayhem the heroes mopped up. Then Extortion Inc. revealed they had poisoned the water supply already, and they demanded a ransom; the heroes found an antidote and shut them down.

Three days ago, LARPers equipped with magical weapons that made them as powerful as high-level fantasy characters attacked the university. They were assisted by Randy Ratofski, whose online handle was Blood Lord; the heroes defeated the LARPers and captured Randy, who promised to cooperate in stopping Extortion Inc. During the attack, the aggressors released a virus to wipe all the computer data; only a time stop prevented the plan from full effectiveness.

When Randy (who wrote the code to attack the university computers) had a chance to review the code, he noticed there were sections of code he did not write. They targeted the lab’s IP address, specifically aiming for the research files on the nanites. The virus he wrote was intended to target the records of four previous students and wipe them from the system–those four students were the masterminds of Extortion Inc! (Now the heroes know who they are.)

Also during the attack, someone broke into the lab and took all extant samples of the healing nanites. The lab theft drew the attention of a newspaper reporter, Davelle, who wrote up a small piece in the paper about the theft.

Sky Warrior reads everything Davelle (a reporter) writes. He read the piece on the university theft (not knowing what was stolen) and decided he would investigate. To get others involved who could help with talking to people (because he creeps them out) he went to the local Sentinels office to make contact with the heroes.

As they came to see what he wanted, they were informed by Ocasta, Randy’s expensive lawyer, that he was quitting Randy’s case. And also that there was going to be an assassination attempt on Randy.

The Session

Sky Warrior was at the Sentinels office, and the heroes showed up and invited him to come along to protect Randy. He did, and they clashed with four LARPers (who summoned a dragon.) After pounding the dragon and separating all four LARP villains from their enchanted weapons (so they returned to teenage state) they took Randy to a safe place. All the painful damage done to the teens was healed by the heroes, so hopefully there are no hard feelings.

The heroes agreed to take a crack at wearing street clothes and investigating the lab, talking to Laura Ellsworth, a grad student filling in for Dr. Whittaker. After hearing their story, Sky Warrior insisted they take the cat, as it was the sort of loose end a villain would return for. Ellsworth did not want to let the cat go, but a nearby student sweeping floors for extra credit tipped her hand that she might be exceptional (Parallel) and volunteered to be the cat’s guardian. Sky Warrior gave everyone his card, confident that he had advanced the investigation into the plots of super villains, and strode off into the midday lunch hour.

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Blades in the Dark adventure summary 3!

The Gang

A gang of scoundrels working for the Crows got together to do a heist. They chose to be rovers, working with vehicles and back allyways, routes and signaling and chases. They chose to work for Virgil, managing the organized crime of the Crows and the independent operators that irritated them.

  • Orlon Brogan was a slide from a family of bluecoats, he used to be a detective. He liked to relax by drinking, and was good friends with Arlene, a tavern owner he saved from an extortionist during his days on the force.
  • Hook Scapa was a cutter who didn’t make it as an academic, probably due to his gambling problem. His best friend was Grace, an extortionist.
  • Skinner was a slide, and an experienced merchant from Tycheros. His faith was not about worshiping demons, but instead the Forgotten Gods–not that most people can tell the difference. His best friend was Bryl, a drug dealer.
  • Tenner was a lurk, and also an entertainer. He loved following the music scene, entranced by the vibrant culture and arts seething out of view of nobles and their patronage. His best friend was Telda, a beggar who was also a great singer and informer.

The Job

Virgil told them a gang of outsiders were drawing attention by doing jobs based out of a wagon that physically resembled some wagons the Crows did not want the bluecoats to inspect. Besides, independent operators are bad for business. Get rid of them.

The Prep

Skinner approached them directly and found that it was Old Man Gaucho and his two sons and daughters; they were traveling people pulling jobs to get enough gear and food and coin to make it to the next stop, just passing through. They were trying to get out of range before danger caught up to them. Too late! They thought they were living off the land, but they were hitting people who paid the Crows for protection, so they had to be stopped.

The gang formed a plan to have the traveling people hit the Red Sashes, who were in terrible shape and scrambling to keep their crew together. The Red Sashes were sure to wipe the traveling people out, so the problem would be solved. Meanwhile, the gang could either scoop up the winnings from the dead travelers, and/or take advantage of any gaps that opened in the Red Sash defenses.

Some snooping around revealed that on Tuesday the Red Sashes would move their gold idols from the Numan Street drug den to the Thickwylde Street drug den. While Tenner scouted for a good spot for the ambush to go down, he was spotted by a Red Sash champion, Tyrian. Tenner told him that some rough thugs hired him to scout a route to hit their shipment; this was a great way to tip the Red Sashes off about the upcoming attack. Then Tenner managed to slip away without a scratch. Tenner then lied to his gang, telling them the perfect spot was picked out and there were no problems. Eyes narrow, Orlon refused to believe him, and that got uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, Skinner approached Old Man Gaucho again, this time with Hook at his elbow, and convinced the old man that the Sashes would be at low strength, easy prey, and then the travelers could leave town and not look back. Gaucho wanted to take Hook with them too, but Skinner talked him out of it.

The Attack

The gang followed the Red Sashes in a coach. They saw someone down on the canal walk below the street throw grapples up into the gold wagon’s wheels that jerked it to a stop, and they saw the two young men attack the coach by jumping down from a rooftop when some of the guards pursued the grapple-chuckers.

The thieves were no match for the Red Sashes. Both young men were skewered, and when Gaucho himself pulled the wagon out behind the gold wagon, Tyrian shot him dead, then threw a lantern on his wagon to set it aflame.

The guards freed the wheels and the Red Sashes raced off with their gold. Meanwhile, Hook and Skinner pursued the fleeing saboteurs and dogged Red Sash. Orlon and Tenner dealt with the flaming wagon and thief corpses.

Death and the Canal

Hook and Skinner raced after the Red Sash. By the time they were close enough to see him, he spotted them, and took off. He left behind something on the canal walkway, probably person sized; it rolled into the dark waters. Nothing surfaces from there, not for a good long while. Shivering, they called off the chase and headed to the rendezvous point.

The Wrecked Wagon

Orlon and Tenner made sure the three men were dead; Orlon took a moment to make sure the old man knew his sons were dead before finishing him off. Then they desperately tried to put out the fire on the wagon. Spooked, the horse took off, dragging the comet-like wagon along as they balanced on it fighting the fire. The realized there was gunpowder in some of the kegs on the wagon, now on fire, with some kegs bouncing out the back.

They managed to unhook the horse from the wagon, and clamped down on the brakes. The wagon stopped, but pitched them off, down the drop to the walkway by the canal. Tenner cracked some ribs on the fall. They both clambered back up in time to see bluecoats taking an interest in the wreckage.

Orlon tried to convince them he was a bluecoat; after all, he and Tenner were wearing make-shift bluecoat uniforms, and it was dark and pouring rain, and Orlon had all the lingo from his years on the force. Compelling as the performance was, one of the bluecoats knew him, and restrained him! Fortunately Orlon was still in the game enough to have a choice piece of dirt, suggesting if he was questioned he’d have to reveal events around a certain raid last spring. The angry bluecoat let Orlon hit him, then Orlon fled into the night.

He met up with Tenner, and together they managed to find one keg of gunpowder that fell off the wagon. That was their biggest profit from the night.

The End

The gang reported back to Virgil and got their 1 Coin, and 1 Coin from the keg. Sure, there may or may not be a loose end or too, but the heat was low enough and there was some pay. Another heist in the life of a scoundrel.

G+ discussion.

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