Category: Savage Worlds

Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell

UPDATE: CODEX INFERNUS KICKSTARTER CANCELLED.

Really sad to relate that the Codex Infernus Kickstarter has been cancelled – due almost entirely to a slower than anticipated uptake and an increasing likelihood that it would probably only just make its funding target, project creator David Jarvis announced today that the project was cancelled.   There is hope however that the book will still see publication, albeit through a more traditional route at a later date.  We wish David all the best – we thought it looked like a cracking sourcebook.
codex_infernus

A holy warrior fighting back infernal beasts on the precipice of a fiery pit. Cloaked figures chanting an incantation to bring forth a nameless beast. A man standing at a crossroads bartering with a demonic temptress for fame and fortune; the price of which is his very soul.Advisers to kings and queens, dictators and presidents, whispering lies at the behest of their demon lords with the fate of nations resting on whether or not the advice is heeded. A scientist examining a strange artifact found on a distant planet that, unbeknownst to him, opens a mysterious gate to a nightmarish dimension when a button is pushed.

These are just a sampling of the myriad images which come to mind when we think of Hell. Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell, brings those images to life and shows you how to plug them into your games, regardless of what genre you love to play!



And so opens the blurb of this new Kickstarter from David Jarvis/Gun Metal Games.

Now I’m going to start by saying that I think Kickstarter has become very important to the games industry – there are quite a few source books and games that wouldn’t exist (and some that shouldn’t) if it weren’t for Kickstarter.  I’m also going to throw it out there that the majority do not run smoothly and even the bigger companies can fall foul of the Curse of the Kickstarter.  So what is it about Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell that makes me want to put finger to keyboard this morning?  Well the answer is simple there are three things that stand out about this product.  Firstly, David Jarvis/Gun Metal Games have a decent track record, the previous Kickstarter Interface Zero 2.0: Full Metal Cyberpunk had some ups and downs but it delivered an exceptional product.  Secondly, I think that David did a good job of keeping people involved, providing updates, not oversharing the minutiae of his personal woes (as some authors seem to do) but actually keeping people appraised of the progress, the challenges and the final delivery.  Finally, he fell into the camp of positive Kickstarters that I like to feel treat their pledgees as investors rather than just a source of funding for pre-orders.  I felt a part of the development process for IF:2.0 and I’m sure the same will go for Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell.

So what is Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell?  Well one of the things I do like about  what I have read to date is that it is clear that this is not an attempt to produce a “One Size Fits All” single view of Hell which you’ll play and forget, or more likely disagree with – religion has many concepts of hell and RPG’s have even more!  A David puts it in his pitch:

Concepts of Hell, Demons, Devils, etc. mean many things to many different people. While this book includes a built-in, ready to use Infernal Realm, it also gives you everything you need to design a Hellish dimension that caters to your specific group, because the concepts  and rules we introduce in this book transcend genre, encouraging you to explore new possibilities for your Savage Worlds game.

So this is more of a Hell toolkit for YOUR Savage Worlds game, take hell to your genre, play in the wild west, the distant future, take it to Interface Zero! Or alternatively unleash the hordes of Hell into earth for your superheroes to deal with – its all possible.  Again using David’s own words:

How about a gritty, “Constantine-esque” type of setting where demons and angels fight a shadow war, with humanity caught in the middle?

Maybe an Over-the-top 70’s style super hero action game in the vein of the Nocturnals, Hellboy, Ghost Rider, Spawn, or Clive Barker’s Harrowers is more your style?

Perhaps you’re looking to run a fantasy game in the vein of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Timeepic, or the Diablo III and World of Warcraft franchises, where your heroes must confront the forces of darkness to save the world?

We’ve got you covered.

I’m really hoping that the project hits its funding target – and there is no reason to think that it shouldn’t.  As well as the source book there are a number of neat addons that you might want to consider.  To start with there are the usual Savage Worlds accoutrements; Wild Dice, Bennies, Cards.  But much more significantly there are seven Adventure Packs; short adventures that are designed to take up one or two game sessions each. Each adventure focusses on  a different type of genre of play, and should really show and inspire you as to the best way to exploit the  hellish themes, and utility of Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell! If you were to pledge for the full set of adventure packs then you would have no less than 30 hellish adventures from some really exciting writers and game designers.

Speaking of the authors, contributing to the kickstarter – either through the source book or the adventure packs – are some real roleplaying royalty: Clint Black: Critically Acclaimed author of Necessary Evil, Shane Hensley: The creator of Savage Worlds,  John Wick, John Goff, Rob Wieland: noted amongst other things for his work on Shadowrun, Star Wars Saga Edition and Firefly RPG, Eddy Webb: Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition, Eloy Lasanta: owner of Third Eye Games, Jay Peters, Monica Valentinelli, and not forgetting David Jarvis himself.  (There’s plenty of info on all of this talented bunch over on the Kickstarter page).

We are wishing David and Gun Metal Games every success with this kickstarter, its new innovative and really exciting.  It has the potential to literally add a new dimension to you existing games and campaigns and take your characters on the journey of   a lifetime – and further.

Derek Mayne

Lankhmar: City of Thieves

Back in 1985 TSR published a sourcebook for AD&D that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on, Lankhmar: City of Adventure.  At the time it was something really quite different.  At the time almost all published AD&D game material was set to take place in caverns, dungeons and the wilderness, with the Lankhmar source book your characters took a step into a new world of intrigue and adventure.

Now skip forward thirty years to 2015 and once again a Lankhmar sourcebook appears on our, now virtual, bookshelves.  New from Pinnacle Entertainment Group comes Lankhmar: City of Thieves. This all-new sourcebook for Savage Worlds contains details on the world of Nehwon and the City of Lankhmar, including Setting Rules, Savage Tales, monsters and foes, and persons of wide renown—including Fafhrd, the Gray Mouser, and their sorcerous sponsors.

Lankhmar: City of ThievesI have often wondered why no-one had revisited the worlds of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser for source material.  I grew up reading Leiber’s stories of this unlikely pair.  I was drawn to their almost anti-heroic nature, they were drunks, they were shameless thieves proud of their skills,  they had character flaws a plenty.  Yet to me they were  a breath of fresh air and a break from the all too good fantasy heroes of the time such as Conan or even Tarzan.  The seven books containing containing the bulk of the tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (Swords of Deviltry, Swords Against Death, Swords in the Mist, Swords Against Wizardry, Swords of Lankhmar, Swords and Ice Magic, and finally The Knight and Knave of Swords) remain among my favorites and when I look back the influence that Lovecraft had on Leiber now comes as no surprise to me, although it was many years after I discovered Leiber that Lovecraft began whispering in my ear.

The book from Pinnacle happens to be almost identical in page count with TSR’s earlier offering, but I can assure you that is where the similarities end.  Whilst the TSR campaign book devoted many pages to excerpts and summaries of the tales of Lankhmar Pinnacle do no such thing, the focus of their book is much more on how to play a game in that world and to adapt the Savage Worlds system to bring to life the characters and setting of Lankhmar.  As you would expect it covers what you need to know in order to create meaningful characters for the genre.  It includes details of Races (including Ghouls and Ratlings), Traits, new Hinderances and Edges, Equipment and provides a more than sufficient amount of background for the setting.

The magic system presented in Lankhmar: City of Thieves has been heavily modified to fit the style described by Leiber in his books.  This includes two new Arcane Backgrounds which are meant to replace those from the core books, there is also a strong ruleset for ritual magic which fits incredibly well with the dark, subtle and incredibly powerful magic in those original tales.

In the Gamesmasters section there are some 25 pages given over to detailing the setting, introducing key concepts such as the guilds of Lankhmar as well as physical geography, history and necessary background.  There are two Savage Tales to get you started with your adventures in Lankhmar and surrounding Newhon.  In the first tale “Tears of the Gods” a chance encounter with a drunken courier and the recovery of a mysterious bottle leads to adventure.  Whilst in “The Shrouded Corpse” the player characters are tasked with disposal of a body, a task which they soon discover isn’t as simple as it seemed and that very much puts them in peril.  Both of these tales are a good introduction to Lankhmar and to the intrigue and danger that players can expect.

In truth I think Pinnacles book with less page space given over to regurgitating the stories that Leiber wrote actually gives you more material with which to create your own, story driven roleplaying adventures in Lankhmar: City of Thieves.  The book delivers what you need to play games set in an interesting and very different setting. It might make you want to read Leiber’s stories, but won’t turn doing so into a necessary chore.

Also currently available for pre-order is a  detailed map of the city of Lankhmar, the center of the world of Nehwon and likely home to your Lankhmar game.  The map is double sided and the flip side features the world of Nehwon as Leiber described it, from the lands of the East to the Steppes of the Mingols, from the Inner Sea to the Parched Mountains.  The double-sided poster map (24” x 30”) has a coating that is wet, dry, and permanent marker erasable.  As the physical product is only available for preorder we have not had a chance to take a proper look at it, however both maps are available as pdf downloads from DriveThruRPG and the cartography is pleasing although I was slightly disappointed that it was only a general map of the city and did not (as in TSR’s 1985 publication) break out the various districts into more detailed maps providing more than just an enlargement of the map given in the sourcebook.  That said it is still a thing of beauty and I am sure would look great gracing the gaming table.

To summarise this ramble through Lankhmar: City of Thieves, the sourcebook provides something different, it pays appropriate homage to among the best classic fantasy of the 20th century in a way that is practical and playable.  In short we like this a lot and hope that it reaches as wide an audience as it deserves.  If in doing so it introduces some new readers to the classic stories of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser then that can only be a bonus.

Lankhmar: City of Thieves

A footnote: Leiber and Lovecraft.

Fritz Leiber’s first stories were clearly inspired by H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and letters between the pair clearly show that encouragement from Lovecraft during 1936 was instrumental in Leiber’s decision to pursue a literary career. After Lovecraft’s death Leiber wrote several essays on the great man some of which are believed to be pivotal in driving the serious critical appreciation of Lovecraft’s life and work.

“The mystery of the black outer gulfs, and of the deepest cognitive processes within us, must always remain unplumbed – and against these imagination must always frantically pound.”

From a letter to Fritz Leiber by Lovecraft – December 19th, 1936.

Weird Wars Rome – A Kickstarter Success Story

Weird Wars RomeWeird Wars Rome is a setting and campaign book of adventures of violence and horror in the ancient world, for use with Savage Worlds. It includes new rules for Spoils of War, Campaign Interludes, and Legacies that allow characters to pass down their deeds and treasures to future generations of their bloodline.  For War Masters it also also includes a comprehensive Adventure Generator and two mini-Plot Point Campaigns.

Since 2011 I have backed roughly thirty-six roleplay and gaming related kick-starters, many of which we have plugged here on miskatonic.co.uk and indeed back in september, tucked away in a post mainly about an Ice Cream card game we gave the then recently funded Weird Wars Rome a very quick mention.  We mentioned it then because unlike most of the others they appeared to be on track to hit their delivery targets, a real rarity when it comes to creative Kickstarter projects (the Ice Cream card game coincidentally was another that delivered bang to schedule).  Within days of the Weird Wars Rome Kickstarter completing backers received their PDF copies of the core book and the updates and add ons kept coming.  I’m now just waiting for my hard copies to drop through the mailbox and I am incredibly pleased with what has been delivered as a part of this Kickstarter.

The Weird Wars Rome products are now available online to buy through DriveThruRPG or directly from the Pinnacle Store, and so we thought it would be an appropriate time to look a bit more in depth at why you might think about buying a copy!

The PDF core book runs to approximately 100 pages and splits almost equally into two sections, the latter of the two being specifically designed for the War Master (or GM by any other name).

The first half of the book provides key background for players and War Masters alike detailing life in the legions covering everything from daily practicalities of roman military life, through to tactics and politics.  Then more of the mechanics of creating your characters.  Those familiar with Savage worlds will get everything that they would expect, including a step by step guide to character creation with all of the necessary new occupations, hinderances and edges specific to the milieu. There is an excellent section on equipment for your characters, covering hand to hand and ranged weapons, mundane equipment as well as vehicles such as chariots and galleys and specifics of a number of typical roman siege engines.  The first half concludes with some solid historical background material, a gazetteer style overview of the empire and a glossary which will help you and your players make the most of the specific terms that apply to this period.

For the War Master There are additional background hooks, details of campaign interludes, and enough campaign and historical background to allow the War Master to have a good level of comfort with the setting.  There are two plot point campaign scenarios; Romes Nightmare and Mountains of Blood which along with the Adventure Generator and the accompanying Bestiary should give War Masters more than enough material to get them started and to introduce their players to the unspoken horrors of the Roman Empire.

Throughout the book good use is made of callouts or sidebar  boxes to draw attention to specific points, to answer likely questions or to provide additional information.  This can be anything from roman names, to use of female characters or more general historic material such as details of the Roman Emperors and their reigns.

The artwork is high quality, as we come to expect from from games from Pinnacle Entertainment Group.  It is clear and evocative and used appropriately throughout the text.  Similarly the styling of the pages is nicely done with the aforementioned callouts or sidebars presented in boxes resembling Roman shields.

The core Kickstarter allowed Pinnacle to push ahead with the publication of the core book, specifically the printing of it, but also several additional products to support it –including two double-sided, dry-erase poster maps, custom dice, GM’s Screen, and the adventure, Nox Germanica included with the GM screen.  Stretch goals, which fell like flies during the early stages of the Kickstarter also facilitated a number of great add ons, all of which are available now for purchase:

  • The Weird Wars Rome original soundtrack, “Strength & Honor.” which really is fabulously evocative background music to play your game or campaign by.
  • The Wellspring, a 12-page adventure set in Britannia 166 AD. The Picts have pushed the legions back to Hadrian’s Wall. During the day painted barbarians engage with arrows, spears, and skirmish attacks, seeming to appear as if by magic, then fade into the undergrowth. At night, fellow legionaries vanish and strange cries are heard on the wind. Legion IX is on edge. They’ve been pushed hard, and are ready to push back.  Someone must find the source of the Picts’ strength–and destroy it.
  • Ten full-color, full-page, ready-to-play archetypes.
  • Printable, interior overlays you can print and use with the poster map sets.
  • Res Romana: An 8-page supplement by Jack Emmert (of Cryptic Studios) on the role of class and race, the gods, and myths and legends of ancient Rome.
  • Creature Feature: Art, background, statistics, Figure Flat, and several adventure seeds featuring the legendary Hydra!
  • The Half-Set Sun, a 12-page adventure set in the scorching deserts of Aegyptus.
  • Creature Feature: Art, background, statistics, Figure Flat, and several adventure seeds featuring The Cyclops!
  • Figure Flats I –Heroes of the Empire: Two full pages of “paper miniatures” including legionaries, medici, and auxilia.
  • Figure Flats II –Foes of the Empire: Two full pages of the many foes of Rome, from wild Celts to German barbarians and even charioteers!

I’ve had the joy, over the last six months or so to see all of this material as it has been produced off the back of the Kickstarter project and it has been a really great set of materials to get my teeth into.  When I backed the project I was probably getting a bit jaded with Kickstarter projects that just seem to drag on and on and where updates to expectant backers are few and far between but this one was a breath of fresh air and really has delivered.  I’m looking forward to running games of Weird Wars Rome and I’m also looking forward to backing the next Kickstarter that Pinnacle decide to run.  I take my hat off to Shane Hensley and everyone who worked on this, its a great setting and its been a real pleasure being able to back it through Kickstarter.

Ia! F’tagn!

Derek.

Weird Wars Rome

Savage In September

Weird War II

Just a heads up that over at DriveThruRPG there is an ongoing “Savage In September” sale with a whole host of source books for Savage Worlds at knockdown prices.  I strongly recommend you take a look at Pinnacle Entertainment’s Weird War II.

In the horror of war, dark things rise, and World War II is history’s greatest conflict. The Japanese stalk the jungles of Southeast Asia. Carriers battle in the South Pacific. Tanks trundle across North Africa. Planes duel over England. The Nazi blitzkrieg conquers most of Europe with a genocidal madman at the controls. Prepare to battle the evil of the Axis powers and the hideous things that rise in their wake. This isn’t just war-this is Weird War!

Weird War II contains everything you need to run horrific World War II adventures with the Savage Worlds game system: new powers, Edges, Hindrances, weapons, vehicles for all the major powers, an Adventure Generator, dozens of Savage Tales, new monsters, and an operational-scale Plot Point Campaign that ties it all together.

At a shockingly cheap $4.99 (thats roughly £3.20) you really can’t buy a better sourcebook, but if that doesn’t float your boat then I am sure that there will be something that does.

Ia! F’tagn!

Derek

Savage In September

It seems like an age… Oh and an Ice Cream Card Game?

Dear Derek...I realised today, that with one thing and another, we have been a little bit quiet here at miskatonic.co.uk with nearly a month gone by and next to no posts at all.  We failed to comment on GenCon, or even the results of the Ennies (well done Chronicle City/Modiphius – and in particular Sarah Newton – for the Silver Ennie for Best Adventure for Acthung! Cthulhu – Three Kings).  We didn’t even manage to muster a happy birthday H.P Lovecraft on August 20th (belated happy birthday Howard).  For all of this we have no real excuse other than its been a busy time.

Once again I found myself visiting Brighton for the BURPS ReuniCon.  This year our humble reunion/roleplaying con had a Zombie theme and I particularly enjoyed playing Cosmic Patrol and running some Savage Worlds – War Of The Dead.

I’ve also been busy trying to finish the Savage Worlds Weapons Cards. As mentioned in a previous post we have two more decks in the pipeline; Weapons Deck #2 will complete the list of common weapons found in the Savage Worlds rulebook and add in a few juicy extras, but we also have our WWII Weapons Deck which will list the most common British and German weapons.  There is a possibility that we may follow that up with a US and Japanese deck, but I need to research that a little more first.

Finally its been a great month for RPG Kickstarters, I’m particularly thrilled with Weird Wars Rome from Pinnacle Entertainment Group Inc, within a week of the Kickstarter closing they shipped the Core Rulebook PDF to backers and I have to say it is something I can’t wait to run, but it might wait until I get my hardcopy later in the year.

So while we have probably been a little quiet here in the non euclidean depths of the interweb, we have been busy elsewhere and hope to have lots of interesting articles and resources to bring you over the next few months.

For now I’ll leave you with something slightly different that was brought to our attention earlier today, a Kickstarter for a curious little card game that we think you may well enjoy and that we hope you might find your way to backing: Amg! Ice Cream.

 


 

Why do we like this little game?  Well there are a bunch of reasons…  Firstly the cute little “Blobs”, whats not to like there?  Secondly its a simple game that I can see people playing for fun with younger kids – anything that encourages famillies to play games together, (be that card games, board games or RPG’s) is a good thing in my book.  Thirdly, the gameplay looks to incorporate the essential elements of both strategy and luck, and I like that in a game, it balances things out particularly well when you play with younger or less experienced gamers – keeping it fun for everyone.  Finally the games designer and artist is in her twenties, and I love it when young, innovative people get into the games industry in this way – we need more creative young talent to bring new things to our games table.

So, I’m off to back the kickstarted for Amg! Ice Cream, (Good luck with it Tessa – hope its a huge success).

Ia! F’tagn!

Derek.