Friday, March 17, 2017

The Frog Demons are Coming Y'all (Eventually)

So the long and short of the update on What Ho, Frog Demons (the fourth of the Slumbering Ursine Dunes series) is that we are right in the middle of the editorial process. The ever-versatile Luka Rejec has jumped over from the illustration side to being the chief editor and just when I thought I was catching a break from the ever-demanding eye of Robert Parker I find myself wading through a 21-point revision list for the manuscript.

Punchline: What Ho is going to take a month or three longer---but it will be tougher and stronger for it.

So in the meantime here's some actual gameable content, one of the lesser tiers of the eponymous critters (the full version comes complete with a random generation system based in freakish real world adaptations to create your nightmare). Also Luka being Luka some sketches of anuran fiends are already percolating through the ether here are some.

Frog Demonettes/Žába'dabel Nymphs
No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d6)
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 2 (claws or barbed steel darts)
Damage: 1d4 or 1d4+1
Save: D2
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: XI
XP: 60
Like many extra-dimensional xenoforms the Žába'dabel as a demonic race both mirror and defy natural ecology. Frog Demonettes, the lowest of the three basic types—one hesitates to call them life-cycle stages as they seem to lack rhyme or reason alternately evolving or devolving at seemingly random intervals of their millennium-long lives—is a uniformly female-appearing race of man-sized, lithe, pastel-skinned bipeds with short stubby tails.

Though the Frog Demonette is not as intellectually well-rounded as the larger, more mutated Oorhi, they are quite cunning and love tinkering. This dovetails nicely with their typical caste role as trap setters, sanitation maintenance specialists and unionized builders of the grotesque, baroque floats that grace the annual Benighted Parade of Weltschmerz in Peklo, their home dimension.

Frog Demonettes can cast Mend and Push spells once a day. Admittedly a power that will see little use in combat with PCs.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hydra Needs Editors

A good kind of problem to have, but our happy little creator-owned outfit the Hydra Cooperative has enough projects going right now that it is looking for both line and copy editors for freelance project work.

Qualities we are looking for:
1. Done editing work previously on a professional or volunteer basis. Bonus points for having done it in a gaming context.

2. Have an interest for the DIY and OSR gaming scene (broadly speaking) and pushing that design vision.

3. Are familiar with the work of the Hydra Cooperative (Strange Stars, the Slumbering Ursine Dunes series, Ruins & Ronin, Weird Adventures etc).

4. Understand the balance between the interest of the readers and the aesthetic vision of precious snowflake designers.

5. Understands and respects the need for making deadlines and general timeliness in publishing. Communicates proactively about potential conflicts and delays.

If interested drop me a private email at kutalik at the gmail dot com to talk details. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Peklo the Hot Hell: a Brief Tour on Ten Electrum Pieces or Less, Part 1

One hell is really insufficient for the inimical side of the Hill Cantons' cosmology. The reality of the Cold Hell readers of Misty Isles of the Eld have experienced, What Ho, Frog Demons explores some adventurable connections to that other fell dimension, Peklo or more baldly the Hot Hell.

I have cut the long willow branches from their tree and dragging them thrice around where the red bull stomps the tall rye, I have made loving supplication to God S-d. Erecting the lead barriers and donning the Suit of Containment and issuing the mutterings of the Vulgar Hyperborean words of protection, I can tell finally of Peklo.

The Ludicists maintain that Zem, is just the dream projection of a great and cosmic game. That is of course heresy vile and ill-informed, but like most corruptions of the mind has an element of Truth in its inception. When great Overgod floated across the void, his ship left a wake from Demonspace. How natural, how predictable, how convenient, that it was that the ego-drunk Demons with their great arrow-like vessels penetrating the heavens would also follow shortly in their vessels.

The Sunlord in His Wisdom sternly warns us of the trap of timelines, intoning of expository history and the senseless capitalizations of portentous proper names but suffice it to say there was a time of Conflict between Overgod and the voyaging Captains. Overgod held his own trapping the inimical encroachers to an infinite in-between plane of psychic friction: the fell place we now know as the Hot Hell.

Lower and Upper Hell
The Two Hells each have their own two hells. Much like our world the Hot Hell is divided between a flat bedrock of daily existence and an upper firament. Unlike Zem with its orderly domed heavens and neatly bounded earth, the Lower Hell and the dark inky void Upper Hell are said to run dizzingly, terrifyingly infinite.

Upper Hell is a lifeless zone, a place of transit (astral flyover country if you will), eschewed even by the Captains. The void is punctuated here and there by the running lights of the hulking, ruined Vessels and cold rocky orbs. It is known to run over the Cold Hell, a pocket dimension closer and more imbued with its substance.

Lower Hell in comparison teems with demonic ecologies. While universally unpleasant and over-warm, the Lower Hell is a bewildering patchwork of fiendish bio-climes fecundly blossoming from the psychic projections of the deep anxieties, ugly archetypes and ego excesses of the adjoining dimensions. Here is the Malachite Scarp, a vertigo-inducing narrow-ledged cliffscape of barely perched stork-legged backward facing demons raised by the pure might of petty insecurity. There the polished bronze phallic towers and monstrous hot pink orchids of Vulvak, the Archtownship of Unsubtle Imagery.
Also striking are the teeming, squalid squatter cities thrown up around the wrecked hulks of the Vessels (more about those later). Lording over each vessel-city are the silver-suited Captains with the castes of the Crew eternally jockeying from the flaming-eyeball headed engineers up to the gargantuan, multi-headed Officers.

And those are just the thematically discernible sections, some areas seem to be a confusing stew of jarring elements. Great barb-vined patches of demonic tubers nestle up against tarpits filled with lamprey-faced life coaches, cellophane forests, and dung warrens of cold-calling bivalve psychic marketers.

In the Next Part we get into some of the hot spot (no pun intended) sites of Peklo.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

Thin-Skinned Monarchs, Ugly Doublets, War-Bears on the March: News from the Hill Cantons

And now the News from the Hill Cantons...
Late Sunlorday residents of Marlinko were surprised by the sudden plastering of a 72-panel wall-poster onto the Tomb of the Town Gods-- penned no less by our most puissant and august new Overking, Radulf II, himself. The surprisingly verbose and sharply-worded jeremiad is a rebuke to the passing words by Mavo the Elder, a local junior master in the Illustrious Workers of Wood. 

Mavo in comments at his guild meeting had stated “for the record” that the new monarch's claims that a 1,100 foot-high wooden scaffold would be constructed for the overking's Build the Ziggurat project was “a physical impossibility with our current construction methods.” After 48 panels of detailed derisive comments leveled against every individual member of Mavo's kin for 13 generations, our beloved monarch gently corrected the record with a firm and dignified assessment that He is in fact “quite amazing in his mastery of zigguartry and civil engineering...and that a single wart on my dog's teat has more comprehension of these matters than Mavo has learned in his lifetime.”

A showdown in the petty kingdom of Pohansko seems eminent. Riders from the eastern wilds say that two of three columns of war-bears are now in striking distance of the little client state after mastodon-ambush and cave-exploration delays along the way.

Break out the ugly velvet doublets and mustard yellow cloaks of mourning for the Sunlord is nearing his annual wintry vacation with the dead Hyperborean gods. Traditionalists are warning Cantoners not to go soft on the time-cherished practice of taking a favored toy of the children in their lives and replacing them with burned beets. “Spare the beets, spoil the child.”

Goatherds in the hills north of Revoca town have noticed a “totally unremarkable and hitherto unfound small valley choked with green tube like plants and slender clusters of rusting iron pagodas.” Surely the slivovce is flowing early and freely in that Canton this time of year.  

Friday, December 9, 2016

Misty Isles of the Eld Review Round-Up

Confession time. Despite having more than a few years experience getting published in the so-called real world, I was disproportionately nervous about getting my first real elfgame booklet, Slumbering Ursine Dunes, out in a non-shitty form.

I spent a lot of time in that spring of 2014 reading and rereading a lot of the toughest criticism of adventure writing in our circles trying to drill down on what  the most common pitfalls are (like I already had years of strong but untested opinions myself). Pretty high on that list was Bryce Lynch's reviews on Ten Foot Pole blog. Tough, often funny and in my own game design value wheelhouse his reviews were really a good marker for that kind of weeding out.

So anyways punchline, I felt like his recent review of Misty Isles of the Eld was a well-earned one for our crew (and I emphasis crew the publication just wouldn't be the same without the creative love of Luka Rejec, Robert Parker, Humza K and Trey Causey).

And while I have you here are some other rundowns on the labor of love:

A nice comprehensive video rundown on MIE (do check out the rest of his list of Youtube reviews). 

And a great overarching review by John Bell in the context of all three SUD series books.

Needle's fun take on Misty. He gets me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Salacious Salon of Sxiploi

An excerpt from the upcoming What Ho, Frog Demons (fourth book in the Slumbering Ursine Dunes series) for your amusement, a little stylish sub-level inside the Temple overlooking the Hot Hell in which you can employ the Top Ten Books of Hell list (along with some other guiding boxes in the text to help with the demonic repartee.

Room 10. Cloakroom. Blixr, a sickly thin frog-demonette with flaccid urine-yellow skin and a loose-fitting (but immaculate) white uniform fronted with golden braid sits on a tall stool here behind a counter. In a terse, heavily-accented croak she ask for cloaks or other outerwear, producing from a slit in her wane neck an obsidian token in exchange for the article of clothing. A delicate cape made from ocular-bat wing membrane (worth 150 gold pieces) and a heavy ermine coat with thick shoulder pads and inexplicable rows of cast iron barbs (worth 500 gold pieces) hang on a rack behind her. The demonette will only attack if the cloak rack is disturbed.

Blixr [AC: 5, HD: 2, Hp: 9, Attk: 2, claws 1d4]

Room 11. Moist Towelette Room. Two large white-steel covered buffet trays sit here on a gleaming, polished marble counter. Two cans of magic sterno (low open flame burns for 24 hours before running out) sit below the trays warming neatly-folded moist towelettes. A small sign scrawled in menstrual blood states “take one and only one and refresh.”

Taking more than one has no consequence.

Room 12. Salon. The salon is decorated in the clean, crisp lines of Late Hell Modernist style: bare, polished rock floor with light thin metal gas burners (mounted on the wall for illumination) and a long airy window on the southern wall emitting red light. Through the glass panel (which overlooks interdimensionally the Hot Hell), a massive pillar of fire can be seen arching up from a plain of volcanic glass littered with styrofoam cups. A low, black wood coffee table has three tiny artfully-arranged delicate bowls containing decorative ebon black, pale green and blood-red pearls (worth 2,000 gold pieces each) and a platter of giant fly thoraxes wrapped in lammasu bacon.

Lounging on three low, sleek hobbit-skin couches are three Type B frog demons, Kanvmp, Hilrtnoc and Vasescltz, debating and discussing the political dimensions of soul-juice derivative markets (they vary in the difference of regulation of said financial instruments) and Hot Hell literary trends with their host, Sxiploi, a severed donkey head resting on a velvet cushion. The demons will react to apparent sharp points by the mute and long deceased head. The debate is punctuated frequently by droll, cutting gossip about local Marlinko human notables.

The demons will not immediately attack but will demand that party member participate in their conversation. Failure to provide more than two real-time minutes of interesting conversation (or attempts to steal the table bowls or otherwise be a boor) will bore the demons enough to fight, otherwise they will let the party come and go with no fuss.