The Plague Pyramid of Geishu

    Very dedicated standup comedian by Zak S.    It's all fun and games when your players' characters become legendary figures, and songs are sang about how they saved Japan from thousands of ghosts and millions of bandits (poets are prone to slight exaggeration). But sooner rather than later, it begins complicating their lives, and your work as a GM. The characters are effectively celebrities now. People recognize them, even some spirits recognize them, and their rich and powerful enemies who want them dead because that's what happens when you help a daimyo's daughter escape and then marry her? They hear the news of your exploits almost sooner than you finish beating up another undead army.  So I gave the characters a chance to go dark. One of the poets mistakenly wrote about how the  heroes perished in their greatest battle ever. They enjoyed hearing about it, and added some details about the heroic deaths of, uh, their teachers and icons.  Besides, there were more t

Playing Demon City in Ukraine: The Demon City Where We Live

 Note: I Do Not Officially Endorse This Actual Play Report. - Zak S. It’s Sunday, and we’re all alive and more than a little mad, up to the point that the kindest people, the ones that you see when you open the dictionary on “ P – Pacifism ”, and there’s their portrait, - these people speak about killing invaders in level voices and you are not worried about it, because you feel the same way. It didn’t happen in a year. We had eight years to see and understand and accept that there’s a huge crowd of people across the border who wish us evil. The news about war crimes, torturers, rapes are grim but not surprising. We’ve heard it before. We’ve learned that this shit is very real. Anyways, we’re still alive and we managed to deal with the end-of-the-year-must-wrap-up-all-the-projects blues, so we get together to play some tabletop games. And I bring a printout of Demon City.   Demon City is an urban horror game, so the setting is modern and the characters meet in a city. Also, the

OGL is not the problem

I'm not a lawyer nor publisher, so I'm not going to give you my opinion on how Open Game License works. Because however it does, the OGL is not the problem.  OGL is not the reason why bad things happen to people in tabletop roleplaying hobby.  OGL is not the reason why 5th edition of Vampire: the Masquerade was killed.  OGL is not the reason why Lamentations of the Flame Princess struggles to survive.  OGL is not the reason why Drivethru introduced new rules which basically stated "We can remove your content if you ever express your opinion about anything anywhere, just saying".  Because all of this happened before the news about Hasbro planning to change the license arrived.  And bad actors in the hobby were, and still are, the reason.  Liars, harassers, and their useful idiots are the reason.  They created the scandal around VtM which included a very real monster who was offended by the way he was portrayed in the book about monsters.  They attacked James E. Raggi t

Zak Smith's Demon City

I'm not a big fan of horror games. I like fantasy, I like superheroics. And in these traditions, scary things have their own important place - they're just not the main actors.  The Black Riders are bloody scary when they first appear, because we don't know what they are and what they want, and everything about them feels just wrong - the way they talk, the way they breathe, the way they look. The Ringwraiths become less scary when we find out more about them, when they become powerful enemies but not nameless, faceless horrors.  Batman's modus operandi is based on two things: 1) human-sized bat-like creature is scary when it jumps you in the darkness, 2) a man who dresses up as a giant bat specifically to find you and beat you up is scary because he's definitely crazy, and insanity is scary. But it's not supposed to be scary for the reader, because the criminals see the Batman, and we see Bruce Wayne who's sometimes sad and sometimes awesome and sometimes r

Uncle Bloody reviews Tomb of the Serpent Kings

  It's been a while since your beloved old Uncle Bloody reviewed stuff. As you might know, Uncle Bloody is a well-meaning but rather disfunctional old-school roleplayer. In fact, he's putting the "senile" in "old-school".  Which makes the Tomb of the Serpent Kings, written by Skerples, a perfect match to Uncle's analytic skills.  Let's start.  W HEN YOU FIRST START UP Super Mario Bros., the game doesn't give you any instructions. The first  level is cunningly designed to teach you the rules: jump on enemies, pick up mushrooms, look for secrets, get coins, avoid pits. There is no tutorial; the game itself is the tutorial. From the very first lines, the adventure gives us the feeling of classic Skerples forget-the-facts style. I mean, Super Mario Bros definitely did have an instruction, teaching you how to do this.         And also this.       It also tells us what happens      And informs us that coins should be gathered, because        So basi