Saturday, June 28, 2014


Through some combination of clean living, virtuous pluck, and crazy-stupid karma, you faced down a living nightmare that tore through your loved ones like a hatchet through wet toilet paper.  You came through relatively unscathed, all things considered, and now courageously aid others in similar straits.  You're hyper-vigilant and ready for anything...and never caught alone in the dark.

Yeah, you totally lucked out.  Things could've been so much worse...

Final Gal or Last Lad Standing (Well-Adjusted Version)
Attributes:  Agility d6Smarts d8Spirit d8Strength d4Vigor d6
Skills:  Fighting d6, Healing d4, Investigation d4, Lockpicking d4, Notice d10, Shooting d4Stealth d8
Derived:  Charisma 0Pace 6Parry 5, Toughness 7 (2)
Hindrances:  Cautious, Heroic, Loyal
Edges:  ElanLuck
Gear:  Kitchen Knife (Str +d4)Flare Pistol (range:  3 / 6 / 12, damage:  2d6+1, RoF 1, Shots 1), Heavy Sweater (as Chain Sleeves and Vest, +2 Armor), Backpack, Candle, Cell Phone, Flashlight, Lighter, Whistle

 they ended up for you, you poor bastard.

Sure, your body survived that unfathomable horror, but your sanity sure didn't.  Nope, it checked out and ran shrieking for the hills, leaving you helpless to clean up a life left broken and literally bloodied.  You're a jittery bundle of nerves, substance abuse, and night terrors...

...but those terrors better beware, because you're ready this time.  Oh, yes—fuckers won't know what hit 'em.

Final Gal or Last Lad Standing (PTSD Version)
Attributes:  Agility d6Smarts d6Spirit d8Strength d4Vigor d6
Skills:  Fighting d8Lockpicking d4Notice d8Shooting d6Stealth d6, Taunt d6
Derived:  Charisma 0Pace 8Parry 5, Toughness 7 (2)
Hindrances:  Habit (Major)JumpyTouched (Minor)
Edges:  Fleet-FootedHard To KillLuck
Gear:  Kitchen Knife (Str +d4), Brass Knuckles (Str +d4)Ruger (range:  10 / 20 / 40, damage:  2d6-1, RoF 1, Shots 9, Double Tap, Semi-Auto)Straightjacket (as Chain Sleeves and Vest, +2 Armor)BackpackCamo Fatigues, Crowbar, FlashlightHammer, Handcuffs, Lighter, Oil (x5), Rope (10'), Shovel

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Satanic barbarian warlord of the wastes, Wanton LaVey combines the the might of King Kong, the interests of Attila The Hun, the style of The Death Dealer, and the temperament of a rabid, 400-pound wolverine.  He has no use for bargaining with infernal powers like your typical hellevangelist; no, he doesn't plead with demons, but brutalizes them into submission.  Defy him, if you hate living.

Wanton LaVey doesn't drive, he rides...rides the biggest, nastiest critter he can find.  You've been warned.

And just because he could, dude once forced Conan to cry, "By Wanton!"  Cold.  Blooded.

Wanton LaVey
Attributes:  Agility d8Smarts d4Spirit d6Strength d8Vigor d8
Skills:  Fighting d12, Intimidation d6, Riding d8Throwing d8
Derived:  Charisma -2Pace 6Parry 8Toughness 7 (1)
Hindrances:  Mean, Overconfident, Stubborn
Edges:  Berserk
Gear:  Battle Axe (Str +d8), Leather Armor (+1 Armor), Steel Helmet (+3, covers head)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


With his two feet, evil's gonna git beaten!!!

All you know:
He's the demon guardian of the ghet-to!!!

Badder than Blacula!!!
Finer than Blackenstein!!!
When it comes to soul monsters,
He's the best of all time!!!

Springheeled Jacksonhe'll put ya in traction!!!

Coming soon to a theater near you!

Springheeled Jackson
Pulp Hero with Super Karma (+5 PP) (per Super Powers Companion 2e)
Attributes:  Agility d10Smarts d4Spirit d6Strength d8Vigor d6
Skills:  Fighting d8, Intimidation d8, Stealth d6, Streetwise d6, Taunt d6
Derived:  Charisma 0Pace 7Parry 7, Toughness 5
Hindrances Allergy: Sunlight (Major), Cursed (Major), Quirk: Relishes Terrorizing Foes (Minor)Vengeful (Minor)
Edges:  AcrobatArcane Background (Super Powers), Fleet-Footed 
Gear:  Fly Vines
Power Points (Super Powers):  20
  • Attack, Melee (2):  Str+1d6.  (Claws)
  • Attack, Ranged (5):  Range:  12 / 24 / 48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1, Cone (+1).  (Fiery Breath)
  • Deflection (3):  -4 to hit with ranged attacks, Device (-1).  (Flowing Cape)
  • Heightened Senses (2):  Infravision, Low Light Vision.  (Night Eyes)
  • Leaping (4):  Leaps 8" vertically and 16" horizontally, Death From Above (+1).  (Springheeled)
  • Super Attribute (4):  Agility +1, Strength +1.  (Supernatural Might)

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Camp Karankawa was once an idyllic place for a kid to spend a summer week or ten.  Plenty of sunshine.  Swimmin' holes.  Nature trails and singalongs and s'mores and merit badges.  Maybe even a first kiss with the brace-faced redhead from the rival camp across the lake.

But it was even better if you were a counselor for the rugrats.  Lookin' fine in short-shorts and shades, with sweet-ass whistles to command your charges...and after dark, non-stop weed and booze and playing "hunt the freckle".  As long as you avoided pregnancy and letting the little shits drown, it was a summer of hedonistic delights.

Those tube-socks go ALL the way up.  Awwww, yeah.

But then came The Thunderkiss...and with it the psychos and the gardening implements and the bloodshed and the screaming.

Sooooooo much screaming.

And the mad slashers didn't stay within the campgrounds.  Oh, no...they lumbered far and wide, racking up astronomical bodycounts (which was pretty easy, what with being supernaturally strong and nigh-invincible and prone to reincarnation and whatnot).  Soon, people were fleeing the territory entirely, leaving no one to butcher.

The denizens of Planet Motherfucker were helpless to stop the psychos.  The psychos were driving their prey extinct.  There was only one thing left to do:  strike an unholy bargain!

Now, every Friday The 13th (which can happen one to three times annually), all seventeen-year-olds are sent to the accursed campsite, now rechristened Camp Killalotta.  They are supplied with unlimited intoxicants, pharmaceuticals, and birth control, and given only one mandate by their elders:  

Survive the weekend...

...for the slashers are on the hunt!

"Camp Killalotta:  Experience SHEAR Terror!" -- Souvenir T-Shirt

If they make it to dawn on Monday, the campers are considered full-fledged citizens of the great state of Tex-Arcana, and granted all the *snort* rights and privileges thereof.  They're officially men and women.  Yee-haw!!!

The campers are encouraged to defend themselves by any means necessary, using whatever weapons they can find or fashion.  Nothing is off-limits:  tools, fire, pits, deadfalls; all are fine.  That said, campers can't bring their own arms, or hide them on the grounds before the big date.  Yeah, one time, some enterprising teens spent the week before the 13th stashing swords and guns and gasoline and such, and straight-up massacred the massacre-ers.  There was triumphant revelry that weekend, for certain...

...until the next Friday The 13th rolled around, and the campers discovered that the back-from-the-dead psychos showed early themselves and boobytrapped the entire camp...and the roadways leading in and out...and the surrounding countryside.  Hundreds died, and the locals got the point: play by the rules...or else.

As a societal Tex-Arcanan rite of passage, only seventeen-year-olds are required to go to Camp Killalotta.  If they survive their first sojourn, they never have to attend again.  Many teens make return trips, though!  Some become "counselors" and aid the rookies.  Some go for another chance to, as they say in the vernacular, "party hearty".  And others realize they have a taste for violence and bloodlust, and defect to the masked-and-maniacal side of things....

Survivor?  Slasher?  YOU DECIDE!!!

Why in Satan's majestic name would anyone tolerate this abominable tradition?

The general population likes it because the psychos go inactive for most the year.  That means no more holiday-themed kill-sprees.  No more campouts-that-invariably-turn-into-bloodbaths.  One thing less to worry about in your godsforsaken existence is a boon that can't be ignored.

And the parents on Planet Motherfucker aren't exactly the most responsible sorts.  Way they see it, if their offspring (which they never really wanted in the first place, truth be told...damned rhythm method!) are too stupid to survive some shambling, inbred landscaper with a pitchfork, they deserve to end up mulched.  Only the strongest survive...and death means no more child-support. Win-win!

The teens tolerate it because they really don't have many prospects out in the apocalyptic, monster-filled world.  After all, everyone on Planet Motherfucker is living on borrowed time, so getting your ticket punched at The Kegger To End All Keggers is a surefire way to say flip the bird to Heaven, Hell, and everyone in between.  And actually surviving?  Fuckin'-A, that means you're a living legend, maaaaannnn...and you've got a story that's guar-an-teed to get you laid forever! (Okay, okay...more likely one free watered-down shot at the roadhouse your first day back, but still.)  And you might've escaped with an awesome souvenir, like bulletproof goalie headgear, or a hatchet that slices through literally anything.  Relics like that have serious mojo, and are worth a fortune!

The conspicuous lack of stabwounds means she survived the weekend...

As for the psychos, they absolutely love it.  They have a a full weekend to run amok, with nothing between them and their victims.  It's their time to shine!  Too bad for the loonies (but great for the campers!) that they don't get along with their fellows, and generally hunt alone..."generally" being the operative word there.  [For GMing purposes, there's usually a ratio of one killer per 15-20 teens present.]

There's a particular question, though, that no Tex-Arcanan has really thought to ask:  now that the Camp Killalotta protocols are in place, what do the psychos get up to when it isn't Friday The 13th, anyway...?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Recipe:  Tim Waggoner's Nekropolis

  • 4-6 Palladium Rifts sourcebooks (chef's choice, but the goofier, the better)
  • 1 well-worn cardboard sleeve from a rental VHS tape of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
  • 1 ridiculously naive and altogether useless ingenue straight from 1940s Central Casting
  • 3 celluloid reels of Clive Barker's long-lost Nightbreed director's cut
  • Tim Burton's oeuvre
  • 1 cipher of a protagonist from the tritest pulp rag
  • ½ Dumpster™-load of disused props from David Cronenberg's SFX team
  • 1 tattered Mad Monster Party poster

Instructions:  Throw ingredients in a blender.  Hit puree.  Consume.  Feel hollow, then irritated, then angry.  Regret your life choices.

Y'all already know how I enjoys me some undead literature.  I also gobble up detective fiction, and get jazzed when it's slathered in the supernatural, like Glen Cook's Garrett, P.I., and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files.

So a novel about a zombie gumshoe in a world chock full o' monsters?  That should be THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD.

Instead, it's infuriating.

Our lead—Matthew Richter, former cop, current "guy who does things for people" (he fights the "zombie private-eye" appellation at every turn)—is dull and plodding and repetitive and lifeless (beyond the literal) to the point it's outright explained as being part of his undead condition.  Yet he knows everybody, because of course he does, and they all like him and owe him favors, because of course they do.  And Richter's prepared for anything and everything with his utility belt gear-laden trenchcoat of holding.

Say, did I mention Richter was a cop?  Because he sure does, about a thousand times.

Devona, the comely gal (like there could be any other kind in a book like this) who hires him, is the semi-spectral spawn of Vandal Savage-as-vampire-emperor.  Yet for someone who's close to a century old and grew up amidst The Borgias Of Monsterburg, she's gallingly dewy-eyed and unworldly.

As for the setting, the eponymous Nekropolis is a techno-magical, alterno-dimensional mega-city set some 300+ years in the future after The Forces Of Darkness leave earth.  Or something, as it's totally unclear when the book's actually happening, or the details behind the supernatural exodus, or why there's so many well-adjusted humans wandering around acting like everything's dandy.  The environs are overstuffed with wyckyd-kewl things like gene-spliced lycan-chimeras and hologram-tech'd cyber-vampires and teevees-made-from-eyeballs and carnivorous vehicles and voodoo surgeons and satyr bouncers and tee-hee-hee-aren't-I-clever name-checked characters from other sources—Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man's daughter, DJ Phantom Of The Paradise, The Frankenstein Monster—because why the fuck not?  The world-building aspects are straight-up disorienting and off-putting as there's just so much stuff.

Nekropolis is a cartoon.

A shitty one, at that.

Case in point....  Sigh.  I'm going to have to review this, too, aren't I?

The plot is as skeletal as the skull-faced bartender (named Skully, because of course he is) introduced on Page 1.

Zombie Non-P.I. needs money to pay his reanimating-mojo bills because, in the of hoariest of cop-related cliches, dude is literally two days from expirement.  (I came up with that myself.  Don't believe for a second that author was being clever and tweaking genre tropes.)

Dizzy dame shows up needing help finding The McGuffin.

So Thing 1 and Thing 2 wander from A to B to C, sightseeing Hellraiser-y landmarks and meeting weirdos with obnoxiously lazy pun-names (like Ichorus, a winged vampire.  Ugh).

Said weirdos create conflict.  Leaden banter ensues.  Gadget pulled from trenchcoat.  Conflict ends. Repeat ad nauseum.

During the lulls between non-fights, there's pathos-dripping ACTING! that'd make The Master Thespian know shame.

"I'm...I'm not saying that."

Romance happens between Richter and Devona, because of course it does, but it's hollow and groan-inducing.  They share a mind-bond, you see, so that totally explains how they fall madly, deeply in love after only knowing each other one whole day.

Pages start to run out, so The McGuffin appears in the hands of The Villain.  But it's a big non-climax, as our hero actually re-dies paving the way for the diabolus ex machina to handle things. Yep, Big-Willy of Nekropolis smites The Villain after the latter obligingly monologues...but it literally happens in the dark, so neither narrator nor reader know what goes down.


At least the eye-rolling tragic backstory involving Richter's dead African-American partner ends quickly enough, with nary a mention of him being too old for this shit.

There are over a dozen glaring grammatical errors: missing words, misspellings, sentence fragments, and misused punctuation.  Clunky structures abound.

The zombie-thing is also a non-starter.  Richter doesn't hunger for flesh or brains, or serve as the Haitian-slave of some occult practitioner.  Nope, he's just dead (from a comic-booky accident), with the only real inconveniences being a lack of smell and taste, an unpleasant scent, and the occasional lost finger or ear (that gets reattached, of course).  Why bother?

Oh, yeah.  The very first wink-and-a-nod throwaway cameo?  It's by a genre icon that's near and dear to my heart...and it fails miserably.

Carl Is Not Amused

So, are there any redeeming factors?

I dig the cover.  Wish it was on better contents.

One of the aforementioned weirdos—a randy, drug-dealing stick-bug named Morfran—was cool.

I guess some of the flesh-tech inventions are okay, like those Mind's Eye ocular sets that project directly into your brain, and jukeboxes that broadcast via singing heads.  But the scabby computers that get real viruses and cellphones with jabbering mouths are ripped straight from Cronenberg. Been done, man.

And with the preponderance of trying-too-hard names, some gems slip through.  Like, the country hoedown vampire bar named Westerna's made me grin...but in typing it out, I realize that it should be Westenra's.  Sunnuvabitch.  Waggoner can't even get his own lousy joke right.

Fuck this book.

Most Authentic, Hard-Hitting, Gritty, Noir Godsdamned EmbarrassingFor The Author, The Character, AND The ReaderNarration I've Read In Years:  "The crowd obligingly parted from him as he clip-clopped away on his goat hooves, bawling like a baby, which I decided was only appropriate considering he had an infant-sized wee-wee."

Most Supposed-To-Be-Serious, Emotive, Non-Ironic Lines Uttered By The Female Lead That Are Worthy Of The Utmost Mockery And Contempt:   "If you don't feel anything, perhaps it doesn't have anything to do with your being a zombie.  Perhaps that's who Matthew Richter really is—a man who was dead inside long before he died on the outside."

Seriously, fuck this book.

RPG Relevance:  What in Nekropolis isn't relevant to RPGs?  Christ, it's already Shadowrun and Rifts and Dark Conspiracy and Nightlife and The World Of Synnibarr and and and....

Which means there's copious material to add to your Planet Motherfucker campaign...but to make it work, you gotta tone it down with a vengeance.

Let that sink in.

I had this review 99% done before I finished the book proper.  But when I hit the Afterword, the author reveals that Nekropolis was originally a shorter novel that sat unpublished since 1995...a novel based wholly on a homegrown tabletop roleplaying campaign.

Boy, howdy.  That explains everything.

Final Review Score:  1.5 Nightbanes out of 5.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Thanks to The Thunderkiss, formerly harmless (if godsdamned disturbing) animatronic kiddie entertainers are now maddened, mangled, musical murder-machines known as bandroids.  The rottin', sockin' robots sing and dance while slaughtering and dismembering, and they always target the shortest individual(s) in any group first.

Bandroids are literally splitting at the seams, and obsessively seek out replacement parts and energy sources.

Attributes:  Agility d6Smarts d4Spirit d6Strength d12Vigor d8
Skills:  Fighting d8Knowledge (Music) d6, Lockpicking d6Repair d8, Taunt d6
Derived:  Pace 4Parry 7, Toughness 9 (3)
Gear:  Instrument Of Death (STR +d8Parry 1Reach 1)
Special Abilities
  • Armor +3:  Endoskeleton.
  • Construct:  Bandroids get +2 to recover from being Shaken, take no additional damage from Called Shots, never suffer from Wound Modifiers / Penalties, and are immune to disease and poison.
  • Recharge:  Bandroids gotta re-juice once per week (usually via jury-rigged generators), or become Fatigued until Incapacitated.  After that, Bandroids can only be reactivated with a successful Repair roll and a 4-hour refueling.
  • Unnatural:  Beneficial and detrimental Arcane Powers suffer a -2 penalty to affect Bandroids; damaging powers impact them normally.
  • Weakness:  Broken-Down (as Lame, -2 Pace, Running d4)