Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Slackers - a USR concept game

Mallrats 2, guys! Actually, I'm generally seeing a tonne of hate for Kevin Smith and his View Askewniverse, but I don't care because I love those flicks.

A while back I was noodling with creating a game called Slackers - a while before USR - that would emulate films like Clerks, Dude Where's My Car? and Mallrats. Aptly, I put Slackers together but never got around to publishing anything.

Can Slackers be done with USR? I'm not sure, but that's not going to stop me from trying. You'll have to download USR 2.0 for free to play along at home.

Slackers: A USR Concept Game

Create a character or whatever

In Slackers, you play a regular schmo - average or below. You're probably young, poor and things don't tend to go well for you. You've probably just starting out on the job ladder that you hate and not many friends. Think Jay, Silent Bob, Randall and Brodie. Oh, and it's probably set in the 90s - the height of slackerdom.

Roll for your job. 1d10 please.

1. Video store clerk
2. Delivery boy/girl
3. Chain restaurant server
4. Unemployed
5. Arcade clerk
6. Convenience store clerk
7. Call center agent
8. Fast food clerk
9. Gas station assistant
10. In college

Roll for a goal. 

1. Win back your ex
2. Win the heart of the person you love
3. Have one amazing night
4. Throw the greatest party of all time
5. Get your high school diploma
6. Get your dream job
7. Get laid
8. Hang out with your buddies
9. Escape from a gang
10. Discover the greatest drink ever

Setting or something

Generally, a slacker film is set somewhere in the suburbs, probably in a more run-down area of the country. You'll have a convenience store (Kwik Stop), video store (set in the 90s, remember?) and a mall. These are all locations more familiar to people living in America, but you can be a slacker in any country.

What kind of stuff happens in Slackers, anyway?

Slacker films can be pretty tame on the violence (a la Clerks) or go all out (Pineapple Express), or fit in somewhere in between. The point is that your characters are going to be regular people thrown into a situation that they're not prepared for. It could be a road trip, a run in with a gang, or simply encountering a series of crazy people in a store. You're going to be doing more talking than fighting, in Slackers, so you're not going to be equipped with weapons from the get go or anything like that. Everyone has their own goals, so it's about how you attempt to achieve those and in what order you do them.

Don't think that everything has to be grounded in reality, though. Feel free to bring in supernatural elements, aliens, time travel. Whatever. Just make it funny.


1. Clerks
2. Mallrats
3. Chasing Amy
4. The Big Lebowski
5. Dude, Where's My Car?
6. Super Troopers
7. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
8. Slacker
9. The Hangover
10. Dogma

Monday, 23 March 2015

It came from VHS! A USR concept game

It's the 1980s and you're in a video store. You're browsing the shelves, looking for something that pops, that catches your eye and makes you want to grab it. Then you see it: a man wielding a sword mounted on a velociraptor. Dino Ninja 4: Return from Hell.

This is literally the greatest thing you've seen in your life. Nothing is going to stop you from renting this B-movie trainwreck. You claw it off the shelf and pass it to the girl on the desk, who looks at you disapprovingly. "But it's a ninja...on a dinosaur," you reason, handing over some change. She slides the box over to you, rolls her eyes and continues packing tapes into the drawers behind the counter.

Take it to the max

Running a game of It Came from VHS is license to bend the rules. You're about to become a mutant biker with a gun for an arm or a cyborg soldier from the year 2033. It's about cheaply made, pulpy movies with larger than life heroes and insane bad guys. It's about over-the-top, impossible action and badly-designed sets. You'll want to download the free USR rules to play.

Character concepts

If you're lacking imagination, then roll 1d10 twice on the table below to get your character concept:

1. Cyborg
2. Ninja
3. Dinosaur
4. Stripper
5. Biker
6. Demon
7. Alien
8. Barbarian
9. Mutant
10. Vampire

Roll 1d10 below for a background:

1. You're from hell
2. You're from space
3. You're from the future
4. You're from the past
5. You're from the swamp
6. You're from the sewer
7. You're from another dimension
8. You were made
9. Your family was murdered
10. Your the last of your kind

Freena is a barbarian cyborg from hell. This will be the best character you will ever play.

Equip them

This should be fairly simple. Think about what your character would ideally have to begin with and have it. Barbarian cyborgs have retractable arm blades - so let's call that a medium weapon at +2. She probably has a cool leather jacket at a revolver she stole from a gang member she impaled. Another +2, but ranged.

Stat them

Use the USR rules to fully create your character. Freena's going to have Action d10, Wits, d6 and Ego d8. She's pretty damned good with her arm blade.

In terms of specialisms, let's go with 'Fears no evil (wits)', 'Blademaster (action)' and 'Insane gymnast (action). Remember to make your specialisms over-the-top - VHS got no time for your milquetoast specialisms.

Get started

Now get your group together and go crazy.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

7 people who should play Green Lantern in the next movie

With news that Chris Pine is in the running to play Hal Jordan in the next Green Lantern movie, I want to take a look at some other famous figures who would be great picks to don the power ring.

1. Gary Busey

2. Jerry Seinfeld

3. Betty White

4. One Direction

5. The Jesus Fresco

6. Mick Jagger

7.  Tina Belcher

9 tabletop gamers talk about their favourite characters

Every player has a favourite character and by God everyone loves to talk about their characters. I reached out to fellow gamers to let them wax lyrical about their fondest characters. Feel free to sgare your own in the comments.

"Gren Dairkel, Halfling Monk.  He traveled the land not seeking combat, but found it.  He quested in dungeons deep not looking for treasure, but found it.  He defeated his enemies time after time, but humbly.  The elements bent to his will, but he never took them for granted.
He was a champion at the Keep on the Shadowfell and the Thunderspire Labyrinth challenged his wits. But above all, he was friend to all." +Karlen Kendrick

"Pathfinder RPG: druggie tiefling named "Odd." Basically I spent a derogatory amount of GP on miscellaneous drugs, did research about the different types of drugs, made a random chart to keep it unconventional. Every day I'd roll on the chart to find out how I was roleplaying Odd. Literally only time no one could argue he wasn't Chaotic Neutral. The funniest times were when I rolled "out of drugs/sober" because then he didn't understand where he was or what was going on (inspired by a stoner co-worker who came to work sober and didn't know how to do the job he did without issue for the past year"  +Matt Medeiros  

"Lord Talen the 3rd, Destroyer of Worlds, Bringer of Darkness, Defiler of Maidens.  we were playing a mage - Dark ages style campaign, and I couldn't come up with a name, so the gm had me roll a d20 and pick that many names. His side kick/cohort was Lord Gilder, a fallen'god' who was hacked to pieces by his followers several centuries before who was searching for his parts to make his power whole again, his various body parts were used as curse words in the world (By Gilders balls...) and when they were cursed upon, that area the part was missing from would tingle." +Dwayne Joy

"Kismet, a vicious killer from another homebrew world a couple of friends built: 'the Dockyard'. I normally play friendly, nice characters, but very occasionally I go the other way and she was great fun because I could do and say more or less what I wanted - nice or nasty (you really need to know and trust and be trusted by your group for that, so it feels pretty awesome to have such a good connection with people)." +Fern Kali

"Warhammer Fantasy: Effgeff. Effgeff was an elf, my first character for Warhammer Fantasy. He ended up losing his right arm due to a spider bite in the very first room we entered on the very first session.
Later we ended up sacrificing one of the other characters in the party because no one got on with the character. We were all cursed then after with a mark of chaos." +Geoff Harrison

"Fodoric Orlig Tavatarr Rinner Hanen Emin Daelos SeDekirk, a (D&D 3.5) Gnome wizard whose goal was to become the world's most powerful, most famous, and most versatile alchemist and magical construction engineer. He started his career with nothing more than a pack dog, a spell book, and a lot of ideas. Along the way he made many friends, including one kleptomaniac adolescent halfling, with a condition that seemed a combination of ADHD and compulsive talking, who became his ward.
He created many things to aid his allies and himself in their quests, whatever may have arisen. His Multi-Energy Emitter (a small handheld object that shot little bolts of anything from fire, to ice, to balls of lightning.
His Wagon-Without-Horses, or WaWiHo (or Wacky-Wiki-Hore, if you were a certain uncouth barbarian lady), certainly made getting from place much easier and faster.
And of course, the Small Item Projectile Tube. A magically enchanted tube that could launch small items much further than could be thrown. Very handy for alchemists tossing flammable flasks about. (Although again, if you were a particular barbarian wench, it was a "chicken launcher", even though it NEVER did any such thing."
In the end, he was getting ready to retire, as he began construction a floating bungalow home. Where is he today? No one really knows. But next time a large shadow crosses the sun on a cloudless day, you may want to look up. It's not every day you get to see floating bungalow." +Richard Stephens

"David Kahn, may he rest in peace, let me play a Unicorn in Telthanar. That was the best thing ever." +Vb Wyrde

"Star Wars D6 2nd edition R&E: Akeyro Sarkin. Akeyro Sarkin was a Iktotchi rebel, who was a good pilot and not a bad shot. He had a love of fine wine. He was also a great hair and makeup guy (despite the fact that Iktotchi males are naturally bald) who had plans to open up a barber shop on Corusant after the fall of the empire. Akeryo was inspired to join the rebellion after his parents were assassinated for being against the formation of the empire. Akeyro was inspired to heroism by hearing stories of the iktochi Jedi, Sassee Tinn who fought in the Clone Wars." +Cameron Faulkenburg

"Sir Chester of Fields, thus named because his disgraced family was striped of all property save a few fields, he was on a quest to become the richest sell-sword in Loudwater.
He was a 4e essentials slayer in a hacky slashy game, so he killed a lot of things. One of the most joyful and simple characters I ever made— he eventual settled down to run his own tavern out of a flying viking long-ship he stole from an undead frost giant." +Conor Rochon

Thursday, 12 March 2015

So much universe and so little time - thank you, Sir Terry

Words can't express how I felt when the news of Sir Terry Pratchett's death found its way to my feed reader. It wasn't a complete shock - the author had famously suffered from early onset of Alzheimer's - but when I saw that headline I just stopped in my tracks. Even though he was afflicted by such a debilitating disease, somehow he always seemed immortal to me.

Sir Terry had always been a fixture in my life. I remember when I was in my third year of primary school and we had reading time on the beige carpet. I would always toddle over to the book shelf and pick up either The Carpet People, Wings, Diggers or Johnny and the Bomb. At that age I didn't care who the author was - but I knew I loved the characters, the settings and the humour. I lapped up the humour.

Through primary school and into high school I discovered more Pratchett in the Discworld series. The first Discworld book I owned was Reaper Man, a present from my mum and step-dad, the latter being the one who really introduced me to Ankh-Morpork and its surrounding areas. Soon I would be devouring as many books as I could: Wyrd Sisters, Carpe Jugulum, The Colour of Magic, The Fifth Elephant. I couldn't get enough.

Much later I would write Halberd Fantasy Roleplaying - a love-letter to Pratchett and his world. I also discovered that Sir Terry shared my interest in folklore, which somehow brought us closer together (in my mind, unfortunately I never had the opportunity to meet him). I did, however, have the opportunity to gush about his work on his publisher's site, so at least that's something.

Sir Terry Pratchett has inspired me and thousands of others over his amazing career as a writer. He was one of the most hard-working authors of a generation and dazzled millions with his wit and charming characters, and he will continue to do so. Maybe he is immortal after all.

Thank you for everything, Terry. It's an embuggarance that you had to leave so soon.

"Death isn't cruel - merely terribly, terribly good at his job." - Sourcery, Terry Pratchett.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

d6 nightmares of the Neverwitch

It had been three hours since Sharna and Griff entered the Ash forest and the day was beginning to wane. As the orange glow of dusk's light struggled to penetrate the dense black foliage, the veteran explorers knew that they were not alone. 

Sharna had fetched kindling for the fire and Griff was spreading their bedrolls on the mossy, slightly damp ground. Both kept their weapons close, always keeping watch, wary of any movement around them. 

When night finally came and the fire was reduced to smoking cinders, Sharna and Griff slept a slumber that they would not soon forget. Their dreams were vivid and strange, almost as if they had a foreign energy about them. What was even more alarming was the fact that they seemed to share the same dreamscape. Over time the dreams grew nightmarish, and the adventurers found themselves battling against darkness itself. When they awoke, they found themselves covered in the wounds they suffered in their shared nightmare. 

The Neverwitch is a being who feeds on the nightmares of her victims. She is invisible - inhabiting the world between worlds and does not have a corporeal body. She is able to project dreams into the minds of the sleeping, and within the dreams she strikes, bending the nightmares to her will, appearing as various hideous incarnations.

When the PCs fall sleep the Neverwitch projects her nightmares. Roll 1d6 to see how she appears:

1. Root of Evil
The very ground, roots and plants in the surrounding area writhe and tangle into the forms of 1d4 Root Wolves. Their eyes burn with a fiery red and their teeth are solid bracken, easily rending flesh. Root Wolves are vulnerable to fire, and will retreat if burned.

2. The Return
Lifelike apparitions of the characters' loved ones appear before them. At first, they seem loving, talking sweetly to the characters and reminiscing about times gone by. However, over time they becoming menacing and their true forms show - a twisted portrait of their former selves. Their bones contort and their teeth sharpen into hideous fangs.

3. The Clothes Murder the Man
The very clothes on the characters' backs twist and thrust, attempting to strangle and asphyxiate their wearers. Armour crushes, boots keep them in place and gauntlets punch in a confusing, frenzied assault.

4. The Horned One
The world turns black, as if the sun itself has been extinguished by the hand of a mad god. From the ground a beast rises - with a goat-like head and the body of a warrior. Gnarled horns protrude from the beasts' head and cloven hooves stamp the ground down. The hellish creature screams, cracking its fiery whip and attacking its victims with a burning sword.

5. The Dead Rise
A cacophony of groans can be heard close by and before anyone knows what's going on a group of shambling corpses come into view, their grotesque visages causing utter revulsion in all who look upon them. There is only one thing that they crave: fresh meat...

6. Children of Doom
At first you hear the singing. A childish dirge that grows louder and louder. Then they appear. A group of pale, mesmerized children grow ever closer to their victims before pouncing at the last minute, revealing gaping maws of razor, howling and screaming as their thrash at their foes.