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Sunday, May 31

Dead Letter: Prologue

Hammer hung suspended over Jason Jawolalski’s impounded car in a full body harness, suspended in space by a truss that kept him from contaminating the crime scene. A pair of goggles provided a zoom function to scan every square inch of the car.

He thought he caught a hint of white sticking out of the inside of the door frame. Hammer pulled out a pair of tweezers from one of the many pockets of his overalls and leaned forward to get a closer look.

The intercom crackled. “Could you give it a wash too when you’re done?” It was Jim-Bean, watching from the observation room above him.

“Very funny,” said Hammer. “Sprague ordered me to give Jawolalski’s car the once over.”

“Didn’t Warner’s team already look at it?”

Hammer didn’t answer. They both knew that it in was Warner’s best interest to overlook any evidence that would help Sprague’s team. [MORE]

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Drakmar: Part 5 – The Heart of the Upper House

Kham was outside. He was in a formal plaza. It was illuminated by the light of stars and by the reflections of those stars in the black polished floor. Sebastian, Beldin, and Vlad were all there. Sebastian and Vlad looked terrible, with cracked lips and sunken eyes. Only the dwarf held his own, his constitution accustomed to long periods of hardship.

Sebastian barely managed a wave. He was weak from hunger and thirst. “Good to see you, Kham. I don’t suppose you have any food?”

“No food, but I found some water.” Kham threw the wineskin to Sebastian. The dark-kin slurped from it thirstily.

As they passed the wineskin around, Kham took a look at their surroundings. Aldebaran was visible very low down—its twin was reflected in the floor, the two touching and merging. A breeze brought a scent of cypress trees. Away from them, something stood out white, and there was a light, but it was distant and indistinct.

Kham took a step forward. He accidentally kicked a small object that slid and spun across the floor. As it went, there sounded a single clear note, swelling then falling.

Sebastian picked up the object. “Pipes,” he said.

The pipes were intricately carved in black with two mouthpieces curving down around a slotted barrel to become six pipes. The design resembled the byakhee, their mouths the mouths of the pipes, the ribbed wings the barrels. [MORE]

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Saturday, May 30

Chapter 39: Dead Letter - Introduction

This story hour is a combination of “Dead Letter” by Adam Scott Glancy from Delta Green: Countdown and “Come for the Reaping” by Rich Redman. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

When I first started this campaign, my original promise was to deliver a game filled with zombies. It took nearly 40 sessions to finally deliver on that promise.

My primary issue with Dead Letter was that it provided a host of details without a clear plot to follow. It’s entirely possible to conduct a raid without encountering any zombies whatsoever (a crying shame!) or the Karotechia. So I of course manipulated the plot to ensure both Reinhard Galt, the Neo-Nazi cannibal, released the Sapphire pathogen just as the agents arrived, ensuring zombies of all types. What I didn’t plan on was the forethought of the players, who so energized the plot with their role-playing that they convinced Fiona Lin-Wei, an irritating hippy activist and one-note NPC, into a full-blown radical eco-terrorist. She became far more important than I ever imagined, and suddenly the entire campaign revolved around her: Hammer’s relationship with her, Archive’s Elder Sign, and the very future itself.

The only thing more shocking thing than delightful turn of events was how close this scenario mirrored the plot of the new Terminator movie. We all went to see it afterwards, and the similarities are eerie: the protagonist meets an exotic woman of mixed Asian/European descent and teams up with her, special forces raid a processing plant, encounter mindless humanoid killing machines, and finally a heavily accented and indestructible Austrian stalks our hero through a dangerous industrial site.

Defining Moment: When Galt is temporarily incapacitated by Archive’s spell, the agents have seconds to take him out. Jim-Bean knows just the solution. [MORE]

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Darkmar: Part 4 – Navigation Through the Upper House

Inside, the fluting of the pipes was more clearly audible. As Kham walk, the sound sometimes seemed closer, or sometimes it was dim, or disappeared entirely.

Kham traveled for miles.

Skiz popped his head out of the haversack. “Where we going, boss?”

“Not sure, Skiz. But I’m hoping we find our way to the end before I run out of food or I’m going to have to eat you.”

Skiz sniffed up at him. “More likely the other way around, boss.”

“Very funny.”

Kham walked on and on. He passed through a massive chamber that took hours to cross, all the while out of sight of walls or ceiling. He journeyed beyond a corridor that opened into a succession of thousands of empty cells.

Sometimes the way was illuminated: a shaft of weak light slid down into a chamber from an unknown source, a gleam of phosphorescence seeped from cracks in the floor, and flat stones gave off a gray glimmer. But most of the time Kham journeyed in darkness. With Daemonscar, he could see no matter how dark it became…but the others might not be so lucky.

He imagined how they would survive. Beldin and Sebastian could see in the dark. But Vlad was not so gifted. The Milandisian would eventually be plunged into total darkness. And then how would he find his way?

Kham came across a fountain set in the wall. The water smelled sweet.

“Water!” shouted Skiz. The rat hopped out of Kham’s haversack and began to drink.

“Is it okay?”

“If it’s good enough for a rat, boss, it’s good enough for you.” [MORE]

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Friday, May 29

Darkmar: Part 3 – The Upper House

Time passed. The landscape was unaltered. The star was slowly dipping—it touched the horizon. Although solitary shantaks were sighted twice more, they were far off and there were no other alarms.

Something was interposed between them and Aldebaran, blotting out a portion of the star. A construction of a fair size was ahead, surrounded by monoliths.

The building was large and slab-sided, built of stone. It was two hundred and fifty feet on a side with fifty-foot high walls sloping slightly inward and stained a dull orange. There was no door immediately visible and no windows anywhere.

Vlad looked up at the monoliths. “These look familiar.”

The monoliths about it stood twenty feet tall and were smoothly-tooled, four-sided, tapering from a base four feet square to a flat top two feet on a side.

“It’s strange that even though there’s nine of them, they’re regularly spaced around the structure in a circle, not in the shape of a V,” observed Beldin.

“That’s because they’re not trying to summon the Unspeakable One,” said Kham. “He’s already here.” [MORE]

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Yog-Sothoth: More than just an outer god

Yog-Sothoth is more than just the name of the Outer God of time and space in H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. The RPG Examiner interviewed several community members to learn about this premier community for the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. [MORE]

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Thursday, May 28

Drakmar: Part 2 – Shantanks

From out of nowhere, a shantak decapitated a tcho-tcho with its maw.

The tcho-tcho priests screamed orders, creating a protective circle around them. There was not one but two shantaks, lazily circling overhead, looking for a weakness in their defenses.

Sebastian turned to face Livius. “You really think you’re blameless? Perhaps I should list the friends who are dead because of the cult you created!” He stalked forward, eyes brimming with rage. “It’s because of YOU that Holden Ash’ur and Calactyte died defending Semar from an attack of Ssethregoran cultists. It’s because of YOU that Nauris Dril was blown to bits by those same cultists. It’s because of YOU that Kham’s father, Corinalous, was murdered by Michael Coombs’ blast powder bomb! It’s because of YOU that we had to kill Ilmarė Galen’s sister Anulee!”

The tcho-tchos turned to separate the two, but a dive by the shantak distracted them, tossing warriors high into the air in a spray of blood.

Livius put up his hands, tears in his eyes. “I never meant for them to be harmed. Those who follow Hastur sometimes lose their way, like any religion. I am sorry for their loss. You have to believe that.”

Sebastian wasn’t finished. “You started a plague that still ravages Onara to this day. You started a war that may end in the destruction of everything and everyone we hold dear. You’re sorry?” He lifted one hand. A sphere of white light appeared in it. “I’m sorry too.”

“No,” began Livius, “wait—“ [MORE]

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Interview with Lee Garvin, author of The Noble Wild

The RPG Examiner interviews Lee Garvin, creator of Tales from the Floating Vagabond and contributing author to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, 7th Sea, and Deadlands role-playing games. His latest contribution is The Noble Wild, an ENnie nominated d20 supplement that greatly expands the role of animals in adventuring and even provides rules to play one. Lee shared his perspective on getting into the gaming industry, working on licensed products, and the possibility of a new edition of Tales from the Floating Vagabond. [MORE]

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Wednesday, May 27

To Drakmar: Part 1 – The Plateau of Leng

They stood in the middle of a vast, featureless plain. The landscape beyond the gate was unexceptional in every way. Scanning the terrain, there was nothing to interrupt a vista of flat, frozen earth. It was very cold, and there was a dusting of snow on the ground but mercifully, no wind.

“I think we’re back in Kadath,” said Kham.

There was no sign of the portal they had stepped through. The keening had stopped. No features marked the edge of the tundra; no trees or mountains stained the horizons. It was night and thousands of stars were in the sky, each pure and sharp, a beautiful sight.

Sebastian looked up at the night sky. “Those are Arcanis constellations, but their relations have subtly changed.” The orange star Aldebaran was visible low, low in the sky, sitting just above the horizon.

Livius stood surrounded by the squatter tcho-tcho cannibals, a father amongst his warped children. He was tall and slim with dark hair. Despite being the progenitor of a play that had killed thousands, he looked normal, clean and shaven, and wore a white chuba. He smoked a cigarette.

“Hello again,” Livius addresses Kham. “I see you’ve come to stop me. Or have you been converted the One True Way?” [MORE]

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Retro-futurism in gaming

The retro-future genre has recently become a popular topic for video games, but it has a long established history in architecture and design. This article takes a look at the history of retrofuturism in video and role-playing games. more

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Tuesday, May 26

Wild Hunt: Conclusion

“Good morning,” said Nina Juarez to the screen. “I’m outside Central Park, the site of a terrorist attack on a rave this past Halloween. Early reports indicate that the terrorists spiked the water supply, causing several ravers to hallucinate. We have a witness here with us. Sir, can you tell us what you saw?”

“Wolves,” said a wide-eyed Goth. “Wolves man. All over. And then this one giant wolf. It was huge, man, HUGE!”

“Huge wolves. I know Central Park can be pretty wild, but I don’t think we have any resident wolves,” joke Juarez.

“And there was this huge glowing guy in a sphere! And he was all like: I will crush you like ants! And we were all like: AAHH! And then he exploded.”

“Exploded?”

“After the wolves left.” [MORE]

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To Drakmar: Prologue

Stone trembled with the beat of a heart. Up ahead there was a ghost of pale light and a chill breeze. The corridor opened into a great, empty chamber. Entering, Vlad could finally straighten and stand. Kham entered behind him, Sebastian and Beldin soon after.

The crying was muted, but it didn’t matter anymore. Vlad knew that it was indeed a trick. Dril wasn’t calling to him. Dril hadn’t been there at all.

It took a moment to look into the light—weak as it was, it had an odd quality. It issued from a portal opposite. White and flat, it spilled into the cavern. Something moved there, not in the cavern but beyond it—through the doorway.

The cavern itself was a roughly circular space around sixty feet across and forty feet high. Four tunnels led into it, including the tunnel they had entered, a second and third close on either side of that, and the fourth on the other side of the cavern. The last held a great silhouette.

“What the hell is that?” asked Vlad.

A great bulk shifted sluggishly. With its elephant-like head and corpulent body it appeared to be some kind of nightmarish abomination. Its veined ears flared up, its trunk shifted, the round disc at its end questing. There was the faint sound like that of stone sliding across stone. Small creatures moved across it.

“I’d guess that’s Chaugnar Faugn,” whispered Kham. [MORE]

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Video game review of Stubbs the Zombie

I'm the author of Blood and Brains: The Zombie Hunter's Guide, so my brother found me the perfect gift for my...
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DVD Review of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, like Van Helsing, is a pulp film. The important twist is that it's a science...
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Video game review of BioShock

I didn't really want BioShock. The name didn't exactly thrill me, and the concept was a little hazy. Some guy...
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Movie review of Terminator Salvation

Before I ramble on about franchises and time travel and the cool visuals of a metal humanoid trying to kill you, let me just say this: If you are a...
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Book review of Where's My Jetpack?

When I was little, my uncle collected newspaper clippings of various articles about the American foray into space....
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Saturday, May 23

Fearsome research and reviews

Today's The Horror gives us The Ancient Art of Research, which is a scarier title to Call of Cthulhu players. Then a couple of new reviews are here, ready to be digested.

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Wednesday, May 20

Wild Hunt: Part 16 – Happy Halloween!

It was Halloween. Ravers and their friends and acquaintances were ready to partake of a night of drug-filled, music-blasting fun. They began to gather at Columbus Circle at 9 p.m. Hammer, Jim-Bean and Archive wore their Goth outfits and joined the procession.

Whenever around twenty people showed up, half of them begin walking the route. This prevented the police from noticing a large mass of people. Around two hundred people went to the rave in this manner.

At the beginning of the procession, a number of ravers drank a large amount of alcohol, and smoked some marijuana.
The route headed past the "haunted" apartment building of the film Ghostbusters, at 55 Central Park West and 66th street. Male ravers shouted things like "I am Vince Clortho, Keymaster of Gozer!" while females yelled "I am Zul, the Gate Keeper!" and engaged in provocative hugs and caresses. The ravers started to use ecstasy, crystal, GHB, LSD, and ketamine.

The route continued north to stop in front of the stately Dakota building, on 72nd street. One of the first fashionable West Side apartment buildings, the relatively squat building was better known as the place where Rosemary's Baby was filmed, and where John Lennon was shot. Ravers made various Satanic salutes and said things like "He has his father's eyes!" and "All them witches!" Ravers who had not yet used the typical raver drugs started to take them. Mushroom and PCP use started.

The ravers then headed over to the park itself, and traveled over the hilly stretch of parkland designated Strawberry Fields in the memory of John Lennon. Ravers mockingly sang Beatles tunes. Some ravers actually thought they were seeing John Lennon's ghost. Most ravers were actively using drugs and alcohol. They proceeded along a path toward the north side of the lake, toward the Ramble.

“Give me your pistols,” said Archive.

Hammer and Jim-Bean slipped him their weapons, and received them back a minute later after he had inscribed the Elder Sign on each weapon’s handle with a piece of chalk.

A few torch poles were planted around a small clearing. The stage and speakers were set up in a circle around the dance area. Large water bins were placed around for the ravers to keep drinking so they didn’t dehydrate.

The party began. The agents spread out amongst the crowd, staying in touch via their cistrons. The rest of the partygoers arrived throughout the night, about ten at a time.

“Now what?” shouted Archive into his comm, trying to look everywhere at once.

“Now, we wait,” said Hammer. [MORE]

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Chapter 53: To Drakmar - Introduction

This scenario is adapted from a Chaosium adventure, “The Upper House” from the Tatters of the King supplement by Tim Wiseman, set in the Arcanis setting. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

This last adventure wraps up the story arc involving the King in Yellow, AKA Umor, AKA the Unspeakable One, AKA Hastur. I was banking on one particular character being the salvation of the others and, as always, it never turns out that way. The players always manage to surprise me.

There are quite a few things that also surprised me, not the least of which is the cold dealings with Livius Carbo. The adventure makes a big deal that anyone facing the progenitor of the play that has killed thousands should feel bad about killing him in cold blood. Not so our adventurers! [MORE]

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I don’t want to play in your stupid sandbox

It seems every developer is creating at least one sandbox game, a non-linear gaming environment where you can do...
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Tuesday, May 19

Wild Hunt: Part 15 – Welcome to Partridgeville

“What do we have on Morton?” Jim-Bean asked Archive.

“We’ve got a short set of notes from the director of the lab,” said Archive. “One Llewellyn Crabwell. It discusses the director's difficulty in working with Morton. He described Morton as a top man in his field, but Morton's fascination with the occult worried Crabwell enough to keep an eye on him.”

“Not very useful,” said Hammer. “Where’s Melissa Morrow?”

“In Partridgeville, just like Alzis said,” said Archive.

“That dude freaks me out,” said Jim-Bean. “Seriously, he knew way too much.”

“Speaking of which,” said Hammer, eyes still on the road, addressed Archive, “the next time you mention Majestic-12 I will shoot you.” [MORE]

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Chaugnar Faugn: Conclusion

Sebastian awoke with a start. At first light, a sobbing echoed across the stony confines of the valley. It seemed to be human and it persisted.

“Where's it coming from?” asked Vlad.

“That passage,” pointed Beldin into one of the spiraling paths into darkness.

There were bleating moans. It sounded familiar.

“DRIL?” Vlad jogged down the tunnel. “Dril where are you? Tell me where you are!”

Dril’s voice cried out louder in pain.

Kham tried to stop Vlad but he was already past him. “Althares! That’s not Dril!”

Vlad paused. The crying came from another tunnel.

“Dril?” Vlad turned back to Beldin. “Is it over here?”

“No it's over here,” said Beldin.

“DRIL!” shouted Vlad at the top of his lungs. He looked around desperately. “Well, don’t just stand there! Look for him!”

Kham shook his head. “His body was in Semar.”

“We didn’t find a body!” Vlad’s voice cracked. “We’ve seen stranger things! Maybe the Unspeakable One took him!” He turned back to the tunnels. “Tell me where you are Dril!” [MORE]

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World-Wide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day

May 23 is Worldwide D&D Game Day, an opportunity for role-playing game fans around the world to celebrate their...
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Monday, May 18

Wild Hunt: Part 14 – Apocalypse Remix

Jim-Bean was back to his old self, his protomatter body having processed the PCP out of his system after he gulped several glasses of water. He marched up to the private area of the club, the Green Bar. Two bouncers stood before him.

“Federal agents,” he said, flashing his badge. “I want to speak with the owner.”

“He’s not speaking with anyone he doesn’t want to speak to.” The bouncers shook their heads. “Your badge is no good here.”

“Fine,” said Jim-Bean. He squinted at them. “Let me be a little more persuasive. Why don’t you let us in?”

The bodyguard smirked. “That might work at the door, but it won’t work here.”

Jim-Bean looked puzzled for a moment. Then with an elaborate sigh, he reached for his Glock. “Fine, we’ll do this the hard—“

There was a cold, clammy grip on his shoulder, as if a coat rack had accidentally caught hold of Jim-Bean’s jacket. When he turned, the man in the photos was standing there with one hand on his arm. Only it didn’t feel like a hand, more like a dead tree branch, completely lifeless and cold.

It was Hubert. He had prominent, high cheekbones, a narrow chin, a long face, and a heavy brow. His features were distinctly Aryan, as was his tousled blond hair. He looked twenty-five, but his skin had a somewhat plastic complexion to it.

“Gentlemen, that’s not necessary. I can introduce you to the owner.” [MORE]

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Chaugnar Faugn: Part 5 – Night Sweats

Carlo Schippone felled his companion, stubbornly clubbing him over and over with a rock, patiently breaking his face down to the bone. It was a man he knew well, someone who trusted him. Kham recognized him. It was Flavius Servilius, the centurion who had demoted Quintus years ago.

Whistling tunelessly, Schippone produced a knife and started to strip Flavius’ body open like he would a rabbit. Though Kham wanted to look away, he watched him make every cut.

Then Schippone laid the corpse out on a rock, wet-red. A hundred quiet ghosts could smell the blood. They looked out of their black lair in the rock and wondered…

Sebastian too was tormented by something horrible in his sleep. He was all alone in the dark.

Something old and bloated was out there. It shifted its weight. [MORE]

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Terminators in role-playing games

With the advent of the latest installment in the Terminator series, Terminator Salvation, Terminators are once...
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Sunday, May 17

Wild Hunt: Part 13 – Jesus Weeps

Gregor’s employer at Jesus Wept directed the agents to his squat. It was a crumbling old warehouse in the former downtown of old New York, located south of Canal Street, between Center and Baxter Streets.

Many walls had holes and other signs of decay. Along the outer walls were painted swastikas. Candlelight could be seen coming from the abandoned building.

Hammer kicked in the door. “Federal agents!”

People scattered. A few froze. They squatters included a few Goths, ravers, and ex-gang-type youth. A few teenage mothers with their babies hid in the adjoining rooms.

Jim-Bean collared one of squatters, a tough looking bald guy with a tattoo on one side of his face. “Not so fast.” The thug reached for a knife but Jim-Bean cocked his pistol and pointed it at his head. “Don’t even think about it.”

The thug dropped the knife.

“I’m not in the mood, so I’m going to ask you this just once. Where is Gregor?”

“F%$K YOU!” The thug spat at Jim-Bean.

Jim-Bean lowered his pistol from the thug’s forehead and fired at his calf. [MORE]

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Chaugnar Faugn: Part 4b – Toward Drakmar

The caves were quiet. The lowest were just forty feet or so up, the highest three times that.

“I count sixty-seven openings,” said Beldin.

There were paths, stairs, and handholds and footholds that appeared fashioned by hand or by use. Nothing distinguished one cave from another.

They clambered carefully up to one cave. Inside, there was a roughly circular tunnel about five feet in diameter leading back into the cliff. The floor of the tunnel was as smooth as glass, as though many, many feet had passed through. The walls and even the ceiling were smooth, too, perhaps from the trailing of thousands of p[alms and fingers. It was dark inside.

Beldin was ahead of them. “There’s all sorts of things in here.”

The tunnel traveled on for between twenty and thirty feet before opening into a small, round chamber twenty feet across and ten feet high. The wall of the chamber was rough.

“What kind of things?” asked Vlad.

“Tiny marks.”

“What?” Vlad entered the room along with the others.

“They're all over.” Beldin pointed to the walls. “Look around you!” [MORE]

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Saturday, May 16

Wild Hunt: Part 12 – Apocalypse Now

Located at 128 E. 98th Street and Lexington Avenue beneath the huge 55-story Teese Tissue Building, Club Apocalypse’s entrance was not marked in any way. Thirty-one steps wound down in a sharp curve leading to two large blue-steel doors, which were not visible from the top of the stairs. The Club usually opened at around ten o’clock, but the agents got there a little early.

Bouncers stood in their way.

Hammer snapped his badge. “Federal agents.”

The bouncer took a look at it. “Don’t care who you are. You’d better have a warrant if you want to get in here.”

Jim-Bean leaned forward. “I think you should let us in.”

The bouncer scratched his head, as if he had just remembered something. “Okay.”

As they passed in with their weapons intact, Hammer turned to Jim-Bean. “You’re scary sometimes, you know that?” [MORE]

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Chaugnar Faugn: Part 4a – Toward Drakmar

They spent the remaining five hours of daylight climbing the valley, traveling east away from the river and further into the mountains. The walking was arduous in the thin air and the howling wind, and conversation was difficult. As it got dark they were forced to camp in the open.

Fortunately, they had picked up supplies from the monastery. They were woefully unequipped for the cold weather after being boiled by the stifling heat of Nyambe.

Vlad peeked his head out of their tent. Kham was already up, staring out at the landscape.

“It’s like we’re the only people left on Arcanis,” he said to Vlad without looking at him.

There was no mark of man, although the eye could see for many, many miles from the top of the ridge. There was frost on the rocks, ice in the crevasses.

As they struggle upward the valley became steeper, its sides rising up a hundred feet or more. They walked on and on, monotonous hours in the shriek of the wind. Snow stung their faces. Only Beldin showed no signs of discomfort.

Then, at midday…something. [MORE]

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Friday, May 15

Wild Hunt: Part 11 – I Want a New Drug

It was around 2 a.m. when the agents got a call about victims arriving from Club Apocalypse. The agents met them at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

“What happened?” asked Hammer.

Curtis was there to give the report. “Witnesses saw these four kids start screaming at 2:14 a.m., and then they ran out into the street.”

Two body bags were carried passed them into the ER. “A car hit this girl as she ran wildly, clawing at invisible things. The guy stabbed himself in the throat with his own knife. Both were DOA.”

“But there are survivors?” asked Jim-Bean hopefully.

“Two other males: one’s been curled up in a fetal position and the other won’t stop—“

Two more men on stretchers were wheeled in. One of them was shrieking at the top of his lungs.

“—screaming,” finished Curtis. [MORE]

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Chaugnar Faugn: Part 3b – The Monastery

Sebastian looked carefully at the shooter’s head. “That’s Carlo Schippone. I saw a drawing of him in Sweet Savona.”

They entered the monastery through the door Carlo had used. Inside was a rough-hewn cave, very dark, with steps leading up. Stone steps and wooden ladders led up to another unlit cave and then into a larger assembly hall.

The hall had three small windows, each letting in just a glimmer of light. At one end was an elaborate wooden altar bearing frescoes of five Nyambe deities.

“Ever see these before?” Sebastian asked the others.

Kham frowned. “I don’t need to. Look at the last one.”

It was a yellow deity clothed in robes. [MORE]

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Thursday, May 14

Wild Hunt: Part 10 – …Desperate Measures

The three agents staked out the policewoman, who walked down the alley as bait.

“You think this is actually going to work?” asked Archive. “If this killer is intelligent, would he really fall for this?”

“It doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything,” said Hammer. “But no, I don’t think this will work.”

“At least it will buy us some time to get a fix on him,” said Jim-Bean, staring through his binoculars at the alley across the street. “Those poor bastards don’t have a chance.”

Archive looked curiously at Jim-Bean. “Since when did you become so casual about sacrificing people?”

“Sacrificing people is right.” Jim-Bean lowered his binoculars. “We’re all that stands between total chaos and reality as we know it.” He laughed a bitter laugh. “If we have to sacrifice a ten or twenty people to save a thousand, so be it.”

“He’s right. We’re doing this for the greater good.” Hammer pursed his lips. “When did we become so cold?”

Jim-Bean lifted the binoculars again. “When I became the discarded class project of an alien research lab. [MORE]

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Chaugnar Faugn: Part 3a – The Monastery

Hiking up the face of the Demon’s Horns was no simple task. While there was no technical climbing necessary, there were plenty of passages that required strength, balance, and care.

Kham grunted, struggling up the side of the cliff. “Funny, I don’t see Tranco with us.”

“We went over this.” Sebastian hovered, flapping his wings. “They’re all in bad shape. It’s best that we leave them with Baldric. They told us that Livius and his men went to the top of the Demon’s Horns, so that’s where we’re going.”

“I’m still not sure how Yolanda got there,” said Kham. “She was in Carcosa when we last met.”

Leaving Tranco meant leaving him with Yolanda, and Kham wasn’t sure how he felt about that.

“We’ll deal with that later,” said Sebastian. “Right now we have to stop Livius before he summons the King in Yellow.” [MORE]

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Why Monopoly sucks and how to fix it

Have you ever actually finished a game of Monopoly? If the answer's "no," that's the first hint that there's something wrong with the game.
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Wednesday, May 13

Wild Hunt: Part 9 – Desperate Times…

The agents, along with what remained of the police force, were gathered for the daily briefing at the NYPD station. Captain Matheson’s face was beet red. He flipped on the television.

“This is a Global News Network Special Report,” said Juarez on the screen. VAMPIRE ON THE LOOSE was plastered across the bottom of the news report in bright red letters.

“Last night there was a battle between dozens of police and the lone killer. I spoke with an expert on vampires last night…”

“Oh Magnus,” snarled Jim-Bean, “I am so going to murder you.” [MORE]

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Chaugnar Faugn: Part 2 – The Village of the Ola Tombo

The drumbeats grew louder as they approached form the hills above. A spiked, bamboo wall adorned with skulls surrounded the village. Many of the island’s natives writhed and danced in a blood ritual around a fire at the center of the village.

Tied to stakes in the center of the village were Egil, Tranco, and three other women. They were bound about the wrists, ankles, and throat by narrow cords of hide. A witch doctor had slashed the men’s chests, drenching them in blood.

“It looks as if the villagers are preparing to move their prisoners very soon,” said Vlad.

Kham leaned against a tree and started cleaning his nails.

“What are you doing?” asked Beldin. “Aren’t you going to help?”

“Yep.”

“And you consider that helping?” asked Vlad.

“Yep.” Kham shrugged. “I’m staying out of the way.”

“Out of the way of what?”

A roar answered them. [MORE]

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Tuesday, May 12

Wild Hunt: Part 8 – The Thing in the Alley

Hammer pulled the Civic to a screeching halt in front of a dead-end alley leading off of Wooster Street facing Hob's Court. A police car was already parked in the alley, lights flashing, blocking the agents’ progress.

There was a dark figure in a black overcoat and broad-brimmed hat. A limp body was in its arms, and three young men were at the far end of the alley behind the killer. They were on their knees, shouting “Master!”

“Looks like the kids found their vampire,” said Jim-Bean. [MORE]

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Chaugnar Faugn: Part 1 – The Citadel

A sheer cliff face of volcanic rock rose fifty feet above them. Sebastian flapped in a circle around it.

“I saw a wisp of smoke,” he shouted down. “Perhaps from a campfire.”

A stream of curses and warnings from above assailed him.

“Who goes thar?”

“Oh, I know that voice,” said Kham. “Baldric you old sea dog! Let us in!”

“Kham? Thar be Kham?”

“Aye. Now stop cursing and start lifting!”

“What th’ hell be that thing flyin’ around!”

”You’ve met him, that’s Sebastian. And he’s not so bad once you get past the wings…and tail…” Kham lowered his voice. “…and the claws…and the pointed ears…” [MORE]

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Where are all the gamer girls?

A recent comment on my article about finding a gaming mate brought up a woefully underserved segment of the dating...
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Monday, May 11

Wild Hunt: Part 7 – All That Glitters

“I think the FRACTAL GODS virus may have weakened the boundaries between Tindalos and our world,” explained Archive over the back seat to Jim-Bean, who was driving the agents’ standard-issue Honda Civic. “That’s why your powers summoned the Hound.”

“So this is all related to Centurion Computer Systems?” asked Jim-Bean. “It’s too much of a coincidence that these freaky dogs show up repeatedly.” Jim-Bean rubbed the bloodless wound that the hound’s tongue had left in his shoulder. “Is this ever going to heal properly?"

“Not without the assistance of some magical poultices, no,” said Archive. “In the mean time, I don’t recommend using any powers if you can help it. These Hounds travel in packs, and I don’t think we could take on more than one.” [MORE]

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Chaugnar Faugn: Prologue

As they rowed closer the bay on the south shore of the Isle of Chaugnar Faugn, their senses were assailed with the stench of rotting vegetation, bittersweet flowers, and slow decay.

“So what are we going to tell Quintus?” asked Vlad.

Kham looked over his shoulder. Vlad was rowing behind him. “Tell him what?”

“You don’t think he’s going to want to know about his child?”

Kham let out a loud laugh. “You’re serious?”

“What?”

“What Kham’s trying to say,” Beldin grunted between strokes of the paddle, “is that he doesn’t think Quintus is the father.”

“How can you be sure of that?” asked Vlad. He looked offended.

“I’m not great at numbers, but if the elorii birth cycle is the same as a humans, then it takes nine months from conception to pregnancy.” Kham ticked off nine fingers. “Atum estimates she’s been pregnant for three months so far. She wasn’t anywhere near Quintus during that time.”

“So whose child is it?”

“Ilmarė’s,” Beldin said forcefully. “And that will have to do until she’s ready to tell us.” [MORE]

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Sunday, May 10

Wild Hunt: Part 6 – Bad Dog

It was nearly two in the morning when Jim-Bean and Hammer arrived at the crime scene where Collins was attacked.

Jim-Bean yawned and stretched as they got out of the car. “Can’t we investigate this tomorrow morning?”

Hammer shook his head. “The killer’s moving fast. We can’t spare the time. Besides, do you even sleep anymore?”

“Yes, I sleep,” said Jim-Bean, irritated. “I just don’t…look, I sleep okay?” [MORE]

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Chapter 51: The Isle of Chaugnar Faugn - Introduction

This scenario is adapted from a Necromancer Games adventure, “The Isle of Bonjo Tombo” from the Dead Man’s Chest supplement, set in the Arcanis setting. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

George (Sebastian) was pretty sick during this session. Although he held up well for the first two adventures, by the third he was really suffering. And, as it turned out, we all got sick afterwards. Everyone, that is, except Matt who is impervious to all harm and my wife, who was juiced with pregnancy hormones and didn’t play most of the time anyway.

I had a much longer setup that involved the exploration of the island, but combat started to become tedious. Also, Sebastian’s newfound flight meant he was far more capable of avoiding overland hazards, as you’ll soon see. So, gaming by the seat of my pants as usual, I threw out a bunch of the stuff I had planned and went with the more cinematic solution. I also gutted the original cavern and instead moved to the next adventure, which takes place in Chaugnar Faugn’s cave.

All in all, it worked out well, but it was a lot briefer than I would have liked. I’m still itching to use all the wonderful things that lurked in the more expanded version of the cave. Oh well…there’ll always be other islands! [MORE]

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Movie review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I didn’t expect much from the Wolverine movie. Billed as X-Men 4 by the movie theater (says so right on my...
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Saturday, May 9

Wild Hunt: Part 5 – Shadow of a Man

”He was dressed in a black trench coat and wide-brimmed hat. His features were hidden by the hat and upturned collar. He had lifted up Wilma with one hand. He then walked into the alley with her, but as he walked it was if his shape rippled—dark ripples swimming over him. He was moving as if twisting, or swirling…bending. I—well, this sounds fantastic—but I glimpsed his face.”

“Yes?” asked Jim-Bean, rapt.

“I don’t know if you can even call it a face. It appeared to be a giant set of jaws—wolf-like.”

“No eyes or nose, right?” asked Jim-Bean.

“That's right, just fangs! Fangs…poor Wilma…I passed out. When next I awoke. I was in the hospital, getting this cast. The doctors say I only have a slim chance of walking again.”

Hammer nodded. “Thank you Mr. Collins, that’s very helpful.”

They turned to go when Collins’ arm shot out and gripped Hammer’s sleeve tightly.

“You get this bastard—you get him good.”

“We will,” said Hammer, gently releasing Collins’ grip. “We will.” [MORE]

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Secret of Semar: Conclusion

“Your friend is remarkable,” said Atum. It had taken all of their healing potions to restore the crushed and battered body of Beldin to life before dawn. “The orisha within him is very strong. He will be reborn at daylight, as you said he would.”

Around the Hutili’s fire, Sebastian also slept. The struggle to keep them alive and his newfound flight had taken much out of him.

“That’s great, Atum. Any news on Ilmarė?” asked Kham.

“I will check on her.” Atum tottered off.

Kham and Vlad passed a gourd filled with a Nyambean concoction back and forth in front of the fire.

“Do you think he really was Emric?”

Kham sighed and took a swig. “I think that he thought he was. Who’s to say that he didn’t wake up to see Ffashethh standing over him and thought it was Yig?” He handed the gourd to Vlad.

Vlad nodded and slurped from the gourd. “Still, it didn’t work the way Ffashethh wanted it. Emric had free will.” He handed it back to Kham.

Kham gulped some more down. “The curse of being human.” He winked at Vlad. [MORE]

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Role-playing games for kids

When many Gen-X gamers were growing up, role-playing games were a part of gifted and talented education (GATE)....
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Friday, May 8

Wild Hunt: Part 4 – Gregor and Co.

The three shadowy figures were heading into an alleyway connecting Mercer and Greene streets, between Spring and Broome.

Hammer pulled their car in front of the alley and hopped out. There were three tall, snarling, skinny men with fangs, dressed in black clothes and trench coats at the center of the alleyway.

“Federal agents!” shouted Hammer, flashing his badge. “Stop right there!”

The three started climbing a fire escape. A police car screeched to a halt, lights flashing, on the other side of the alley, weirdly illuminating the fleeing figures.

Hammer swore and holstered his pistols, climbing up after them.

“Jimmy!” shouted Hammer. “Cut them off!”

The Goths clambered up above him, onto the rooftop, only to bump into Jim-Bean. He was standing imperiously on the roof, pistol out. “Going somewhere?”

All three of them gasped. Then they bowed down. “Lord and master, we have searched you out so that you may bestow your gift upon us. Please bring us across.”

“What?” asked Jim-Bean. [MORE]

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Secret of Semar: Part 8d – Ancient Secrets

Beldin closed his eyes. “Let me go.”

“What?” shouted Vlad. “No!”

“It’s okay,” the dwarf said calmly. “Find my body later.”

“No, Beldin, wait!” But the dwarf had already made his decision. [MORE]

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Gamer moms: not as rare you as think

Happy Mother's Day! This week we review that rare breed of gamer that's becoming more common by the day: the gamer mom...
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Thursday, May 7

Wild Hunt: Part 3 – My Scuffle With Magnus

“It’s not a Vrykolakas,” said Hammer.

Magnus continued. “The method of destroying them usually was with fire. Crosses and sunlight are not mentioned as being effective. Neither are stakes; many accounts describe vrykolakas being impaled over and over, beheaded and so on, and still returning to haunt the living. I recommend that the police arm themselves with holy water, flame-throwers, and flare guns.”

“Magnus,” said Jim-Bean. “It’s not a vrykolakas. It can’t be.”

“The word "vrykolakas" means "wolf-pelt wearer,” said Magnus.

Jim-Bean pounded one fist on the table. “It’s not a vampire damn it!”

Magnus stopped speaking. “And how do you know that?”

“Because I SAW it.”

Magnus’ eyes widened in surprise. “When?”

Jim-Bean started to speak then caught himself. “Doesn’t matter. I saw it. It looks nothing like a vampire or a vrykolakas. It has a tongue like a snake and its face is almost all jaws, no eyes or nose…”

“Wolf-like jaws,” exclaimed Magnus. ““This matches up with what the witnesses reported, a wolfish look of the vampire--”

Jim-Bean hauled off and slugged Magnus across the jaw. [MORE]

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Secret of Semar: Part 8c – Ancient Secrets

The massive fresco of one of the Unspeakable One’s spawn glowed a sickly green color and slowly detached itself from the wall with a horrible sucking sound.

“Run!” shouted Emric.

Vlad drew a glowing gladius, the blade made of pure energy. “This weapon can take Carcosan beings down—“

Emric turned. “You can’t fight this! RUN!”

Kham was backpedaling. “But Emric, you can’t stop it either…”

Emric shook his head. “If it’s true, that I was manufactured by the Unspeakable One to betray you, then I won’t be able to fight this thing. And if I don’t have free will, I don’t want to live anyway.” He drew a thin longsword. “Sliver, don’t fail me now!”

Tentacles stretched and twisted towards Emric.

“Come on!” shouted Emric. He hacked at one of the tentacles. “Is that the best you’ve got?” [MORE]

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Adding medieval times to your boy's room

As a gamer parent, it can be frustrating to discover that there's not much in the way of geek-friendly décor...
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Wednesday, May 6

Wild Hunt: Part 2 – Having a Ball

“Well?” asked Hammer, staring at him curiously.

“This…this thing. It reminds me of those dogs that attacked you.”

“PROJECT RELISH,” said Hammer.

“Anything useful from that vision?” asked Hammer.

“Not unless you count a bouncing basketball,” said Jim-Bean. “I got a good look at the thing though. It has a long snake-like tentacle and a huge mouth. It shifts in and out of time and space, I think. Hard to look at it directly.”

“You think it’s a Tindalosian Hound?”

Jim-Bean shrugged. “Not sure. It may be two different entities. It’s hard to—“ Suddenly he went quiet. When Hammer started to ask a question, Jim-Bean shushed him. He cocked his head. “Did you hear that?”

Hammer listened. “No?”

“Howling. Like a pack of wolves. Really pissed off, weird wolves.” [MORE]

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Secret of Semar: Part 8b – Ancient Secrets

Kham’s pupils adjusted to the dark. It wasn’t the darkness he was accustomed to. The darkness was literally a vacuum of light, so dark that staring with his eyes open almost hurt. If he couldn’t see, Kham would have closed his eyes.

But he COULD see. His mind tore through the possibilities as his body continued to move. Ffashethh was already pressing the advantage. Emric seemed completely unhindered. Vlad held his own, taking slow, methodical swings to defend himself. Beldin flailed, swinging blindly in front of him. From the looks of how the Agamis was reacting, it wasn’t much better off.

The animated statues, however, were not so encumbered.

It was Daemonscar! The breastplate Kham picked up in Canceri gave Kham the ability to see in magical darkness, like a dark-kin…

Kham looked up. Sebastian, unhindered by the magical darkness, flapped like a giant bat, unleashing a blast of flames that somehow didn’t manage to illuminate anything despite the conflagration. It was all heat, no light. The fireball looked like a smudge with gradations of black and white.

The blast struck the bags, tearing them open. A torrent of stagnant liquid rushed out. A naked, dark-skinned human spilled to a halt in front of Kham.

Kahm hesitated. The smell of ammonia nearly overwhelmed him. But it wasn’t the stench that stopped him.

He stared down in horror. “Althares!” [MORE]

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Finding a gaming mate

As a group, gamers tend to be an exclusive bunch. One of our more charming attributes is our love of games. So it may be shocking to discover that some women don’t find gaming attractive, or worse, consider it childish. If you’re a heterosexual male gamer, this can make it difficult to find someone compatible who appreciates and understands your hobby. The obvious answer: find a mate who games. [MORE]

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Tuesday, May 5

Wild Hunt: Part 1 – My Dinner With Magnus

Magnus met them at an Asian fusion restaurant in SoHo called the "Itchi-Leng." The decor consisted of old brick walls, hardwood floors, timber ceilings, and paper lanterns, which lent the rooms some appearance of a Japanese country inn. Magnus recommended a hot dark broth served with half-cooked exotic vegetables, sesame seeds, and noodles. He ordered a dish of boned chicken, scallops, and blanched spinach, and as an appetizer avocado with shrimp in miso sauce.

“There is no doubt in my mind—we face the undead! However, the question is what sort—vampires are as varied as ice cream flavors...We must find proof before we tell the rest of the team, or they will dismiss us as madmen!”

Hammer rubbed his forehead. "You can't be serious."

"Deadly serious, I'm afraid," said Magnus with a bemused smirk. "You yourself staked a vampire."

Jim-Bean looked at Hammer. "Wait. What?" [MORE]

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Secret of Semar: Part 8a – Ancient Secrets

The potion allowed Kham to climb down the sheer forty-foot drop that ended in a large cavern. The mustiness of ages wafted upward and the stench of things that even death had forgotten offended him in ways even the recent battle of Semar did not.

Sebastian flew in above Kham. Emric slid down the rope behind him.

The natural cavern was actually a large chamber, hewn from the living rock of the land. The walls were decorated with serpent motif bas-relief artwork and decorations. Further in the back, pillars designed to appear like large snakes glistened in the meager light afforded by the opening above.

A hulking Agamis ss’ressen pounded forward to meet them. Vlad and Beldin arrived a few seconds later.

Off to the south were a dozen organic-looking bags, lifted off the floor and interconnected to each other by mucous covered tubes that resembled intestines more than anything else. Arranged upon a low dais, surrounding a seatless throne crafted for the coils of a serpent, were a dozen of the same glyph-etched stone urns.

Behind Ffasheth was a stone relief of a bloated, jellyfish-like monstrosity that encompassed the entire cavern. Kham recognized it.

“Spawn of the Unspeakable One,” whispered Kham. [MORE]

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New Fallout 3 DLC trailer: Broken Steel

I’m now thoroughly and horribly addicted to Fallout 3. I really wanted to hate the game, because I loathed Elder...
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Monday, May 4

Wild Hunt: Prologue

Agents Jim-Bean and Hammer met at 8 p.m. in a conference room at City Hall in New York City.

"What's this about?" asked Jim-Bean, looking around.

"Not sure," said Hammer. "Special murder case. One of our friendlies, Dr. Conrad, called in CIFA after finding some evidence of the preternatural. So here we are."

They took seats around a large table in the conference room.

"Hello Agent Hammer," said a familiar voice.

Hammer looked over in surprise. "Magnus? What are you doing here?"

It was Magnus, the vampire hunter who had his own show on late night television.

"I think that will all become clear in a moment," said Magnus in his rich baritone.

After a few minutes, Captain Matheson, Sergeant McGarnagle, Dr. Conrad, Dr. Gourdie, and District Attorney Chester Boulder walked in. They called the conference to order and briefly introduced themselves.

Hammer nodded at the DA. "That's Boulder. More of a politician than a lawman. He is up for re-election in a few months."

"How do you know that?" asked Jim-Bean.

"My grandmother raised me in the Bronx," said Hammer. [MORE]

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Secret of Semar: Part 7 – Prey

Days had passed since their journey began. Wildlife and flora unseen and undreamed of stalked the grasslands. Beasts of normal and huge proportions made the crossing hazardous and nerve-wracking.

Finally, they reached the edge of the Bida Rainforest. A green wall of foliage heralded the beginning of the end of the trek.

The going was even more arduous than the crossing of the grasslands, as if the very jungle conspired to slow passage. Feet snagged on stumbled over every root, vine and limb. Insects of varying sizes harried like miniature crows pecking on rotting carriages.

Emric put a finger to his lips and then cupped one ear.

They heard the guttural sounds of someone speaking in Ssethren, the ancient language of the Ssethregoran Empire.

Emric pointed. The Ssethregorans were standing in a clearing. The entirety of the clearing was made up of a large rocky mound, looking much like a huge burial cairn.

In the center was Ffashethh. A huge Agamis clutch ss’ressen lowered him into a recently excavated opening by rope. The rest of the Ssethregorans were arranged in a circle around the opening, more intent on what was happening below than their own surroundings.

An explosion ripped through the air, blasting through the remaining Ssethregorans.

Beldin looked up as a bat-winged shadow crossed where he stood. “I guess Sebastian wasn’t interested in waiting.” [MORE]

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Sunday, May 3

Secret of Semar: Part 6 – The Enemy of My Enemy

“So you’re trying to tell me that YOU’RE Emric?”

Emric nodded.

“We’re not talking about the human Emric.” Kham described Emric’s original stature with his hands. “We’re talking about the little squeaky Emric that I rescued from the Temple of Yig awhile back. About this high?”

“That’s me.”

“The same Emric who was turned into a giant avatar of Yig and fought the King in Yellow to a standstill?”

“Yes.”

“Didn’t you die in the collapse of the cavern?”

Emric tilted his head. “It was a death of sorts, yes. Yig gave me one last chance to be reborn again, not as a tool of Her will but as my own person. I chose to combine the traits of both of my parents.” There was a hint of a smile on his lips.

Kham looked closer at Emric. Emric’s irises were clear. His pupils were shaped more like a slit than a dot. “About that…Calactyte’s dead.”

Emric’s shoulders sagged. “Somehow, I knew that. I am sure that Mother died valiantly.”

“She…I mean he did.” Kham shook it off. “This is too weird for me.” He walked away into the grasses to confer with Mashudu. [MORE]

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Chapter 38: The Wild Hunt - Introduction

This story hour is “The Wild Hunt” by Bruce Ballon from Unseen Masters. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Wild Hunt is, at heart, a criminal investigation in the tradition of Kolchak and other 1970s-style cop procedurals, long before crime procedurals like CSI and Law & Order became popular. Thus it has a certain quaint charm about it; there’s reference to the Feds “newfangled computers” and one of the NPCs talks like Popeye. I chatted with my players about this and it didn’t bother them in the least—indeed, they saw many of the NPC quirks as just part of the colorful terrain of role-playing in my campaign. If they were okay with it, I was too.

The Wild Hunt is peculiar in its selection of props. Many of the props are red herrings involving vampire research, while props that are really useful to the investigation, like autopsy reports and media statements, are missing. So I made my own.

Picking up where we left off, I planned this scenario down to the hour. We had approximately six hours to play the game, so I made each day of the investigation take one hour. This kept the game moving. There’s certainly plenty to do, although there’s definitely a question as to how long each route of the investigation should take. With just under a week to solve the case, the agents had plenty of leads…

Until they didn’t. Then they got completely sidetracked by another red herring: Club Apocalypse. This turned out to be a gift in disguise, because a certain powerful NPC then gently pushed the agents back on track. It introduced someone I hadn’t planned on introducing but who has been lurking in the background of the campaign.

In the end, although Hammer and Jim-Bean did most of the investigating, Archive saved the day. Again.

Defining Moment: Archive turns to one Great Old One to defeat another. [MORE]

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Saturday, May 2

Book review of Six-Legged Soldiers

Six-Legged Soldiers is an interesting look at how bugs have been drafted by humanity as vectors to spread disease....
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Pandemic! Infectious diseases in gaming

The fear of infectious diseases has a long history as humanity's worst enemy, harkening back to the black plague in...
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Angular Gods: Conclusion

Hammer, Guppy, Archive, and Howell appeared through the gate. Jim-Bean was leading a team of government employees clearing a path through the wires. When the gate collapsed behind them, fires broke out, but Jim-Bean, fire extinguisher in hand, had it well under control.

The agents, covered in smoke, bruised and battered, sat down on the steps leading to the government building.

“What was that, exactly?” asked Hammer.

“Oh that?” said Guppy sheepishly. “That was just a combat form I coded to—“

“That’s Calactyte, the form Guppy used as his avatar on my game,” said Howell. She had a black smudge across her nose and she had long since lost her glasses. “I’m going to miss that game.”

“You look exhausted,” said Guppy, changing the subject. “Are you okay?”

Archive nodded. “The portals are powered by psychic energy. That’s what was affected Jim-Bean the first time we encountered the Hound, and it’s why the portal closed right after Lisa left it. She was powering it.”

“Yeah,” said Jim-Bean. “That’s a perfect explanation for why I didn’t go in with you guys.”

Guppy frowned at Jim-Bean. [MORE]

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Secret of Semar: Part 5 – A Feast Unknown

Marching in the sweltering heat for most of the day, they finally reached the end of the mountain range and moved into the grassland proper. At the end of the first day of tracking, Sebastian came across a scene illustrating the inherent dangers of Nyambe.

The dark-kin landed with a flap of his mighty wings. “There’s a pair of reptilian bodies laying in the empty expanse of the savannah.”

Kham walked over to the corpses.

“No, wait…” warned Mashudu.

“Ow!” Kham slapped at his neck. “Something bit me!”

Kham fell over, face first.

The shrill whistle of a projectile flying at high speed caused Sebastian to slap his own neck.

“What…?” Sebastian staggered to the ground.

“Tcho-tcho poison!” shouted Mashudu. “Beware!” [MORE]

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Friday, May 1

Angular Gods: Part 8 – ‘Umr at-Tawil’s Virtual Lounge

“Tear it up!” shouted Hammer, firing his Glocks at the thing at the center of the servers.

Bullets had little effect. The thing shouldn’t have been working in the first place; its arrangement of wires and monitors made no sense at all.

The monitors lining both sides of the room powered up, screens flickering all around the figure. The fractal edges of a gateway yawned wide, beyond the edges of the computer screens.

“It’s creating another gate!” shouted Archive.

The fractal edges stretched upwards, through the walls of the monitors and up to the ceiling. A tentacle of wires shot out and grabbed Howell by the torso. The mechanical monstrosity disconnected itself from the web of computers and retreated through the shimmering gate.

Guppy didn’t need to be told what to do. He dove right in. [MORE]

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Secret of Semar: Part 4b – The Evils of (Wo)Man

Sebastian didn’t waste any time. Flames rained down on the Amazons before they had a chance to react.

Kham swigged a potion and promptly turned invisible.

“This should be easy,” said Vlad. “With their primitive weapons—“

An arrow the length of the Milandisian’s arm ricocheted off of his shield.

One of the Amazons wielded a huge bow. It was easily as large as the woman herself, and she was tall to begin with.

Beldin charged forward. “You were saying?” [MORE]

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