Monday, March 25, 2024

Lost in Paris


It has come to my attention that the pdf versions of Terror in the Streets -- both the DriveThru version and the one you get with a physical purchase from LotFP in Europe or North America -- are missing the player map. I'll see if I can get the pdf updated, but in the mean time here are some download links:

Greyscale map (about 1mb)

Colour map (about 1.8mb)

If the links don't work, please let me know.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Mistaken Identity, Yes?

It's #DrawDeathsHeadDay the most freelance peacekeeping day of the year!

This year, as well as wishing Simon Furman a happy birthday, I must also apologise to Gene Colan for my artistic theft. Sorry, Gene.

(If it helps, I re-drew the entire cover, when a more sensible person would have just photoshopped Death's Head in. I have never been sensible.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

We Are Moved to Tears by the Sheer Size of This Thing

I am a terrible person!

I forgot -- or rather didn't realise -- that Monday the 18th was the 20th anniversary of the release of Katamari Damacy, one of my favourite computer games of all time.

I remember first discovering the game on a Penny Arcade text page. The description was wonderful, a gameplay first sort-of-puzzle-sort-of-action game of the kind that you would get on the Commodore 64 or Spectrum in the 80s, but had become basically non-existent by 2004. I knew I had to have it, and have it I did!

(Although I was apparently quite lucky as it had a limited release and only about seven copies made it to North America, where I happened to be at the time.)

It more than lived up to expectations. Simple in concept but often challenging, and quite bonkers, with bizarre imagery and a plot that had zero to do with the game itself. To get a feel for how mad it is, here's the first thing you see when you start the game:

As you can probably tell from that video, the soundtrack is great too.

I always thought it was a shame the series never made it to the Wii as it would be perfect there, but some version is available on pretty much everything else these days -- the first video above is from the PS4 re-release -- and you can even play it -- sort of -- in your browser if you go to google and search for "katamari".

Happy (belated) birthday Katamari Damacy!

Monday, March 11, 2024


Muscle Wizards are ace. Redbox Hack is ace. So here's a Muscle Wizard for Redbox Hack.

The Muscle Wizard was, I think, first birthed by Monstrous Television and then further developed and remixed by Basic Red, Ten Foot Polemic, and Goblin Punch.

Basically, I am very late to the party.


You are a wizard, but instead of learning magic through arcane study, your awesome power derives from your extreme muscularity. Books are for nerds. Armour is for nerds. Even weapons are for nerds. All you need is confidence, muscles, and lots of oil.


Maintaining your physique requires constant exercise. While others rest you work out, which keeps you nice and fit but the combination of increased endorphins and sleep deprivation makes you a bit erratic and strange.


You may never borrow a Cross-Class Talent from the Magus, nor may they borrow from you, but don't worry, you can still be friends.


ALWAYS AWESOME: You are flamboyant and impressive and you treat Showing Off rolls of 7 or less as 8.

CUTTING A PROMO: You have a knack for rambling and borderline nonsensical monologues that can nonetheless entertain and entrance a crowd for a scene, or minutes equal to your Eloquence score if you need a more exact duration.

MAGICO PUUUUUUNCH: You channel your sorcerous power through an unarmed strike, which doesn't have to be a punch! You always cause normal damage, plus anything from Awesome Tokens, and the target must roll Stubbornness versus TN7 or lose their next action as they are swept up in a swirl of magical energy. You must speak the name of the spell as you attack -- and please come up with your own evocative names! -- otherwise your punch is just a normal punch.

PHYSICALLY FIT, PHYSICALLY FIT, PHYSICALLY, PHYSICALLY, PHYSICALLY FIT: You gain a +2 bonus to Armour, Size rolls, and any other rolls involving feats of physical might, except attacks.

QUITE THE FLEX: You flex your mighty thews and in doing so warp reality in your immediate vicinity. You define what is true within a bubble of a radius roughly an arm's length from you, for as long as you gurn and strain. To maintain the flex for an extended length of time -- longer than a short scene, say -- or if you are somehow distracted, you can take a point of damage or roll Stubbornness vs TN 9, your choice.

Appendix MW:

I did have a few more punch spells in my original draft and allowed the Muscle Wizard player to choose which spell was "cast" when they attacked. I realised that this was both making the class more complex than the other RBH classes, and it was making the Muscle Wizard more versatile than the Magus, when they should be more or less equal. So I stripped the other spells out, but I also didn't want to lose them as an option, so here they are:
  • Blast: 2 Damage. A Magus will consider this a grotesque bastardisation of their Talent of the same name. You probably don't care what they think.
  • Confusion: the target rolls Stubbornness versus TN7 or loses their action.
  • Darkness: The target's vision is obscured until they Move.
  • Dispel: A single magical effect or spell is negated for a turn. Permanent effects can be dispelled if you sacrifice an attribute point.

Friday, March 08, 2024

Roll Out!

Look at this handsome lad!

This is the new "Missing Link" Optimus Prime. Or technically it's Missing Link Convoy as I seem to have the Japanese version, but whatever.
Anyway, he's quite special, or rather I think he's quite special, because he is something for which I've been asking for years.

The problem with almost every Optimus Prime toy -- that I know of, anyway -- is that they cheat with the transformation, usually with some sort of false chest. By which I mean the front of the lorry does not form Prime's torso, and instead there is some sort of hidden chest somewhere in the toy that only looks like the front of the lorry.

I fully admit that I'm being pedantic and more than a little weird when I say that I want the transformation to be "true" and not involve such deception. After all, he's an Autobot, not a Decepticon!

(Transformers joke.)

They got it right first time with the 1984 toy, but he's a bit clunky and not very poseable at all. And that's where Missing Link comes in. He looks more or less identical to 1984 Optimus; in fact the metal chest piece may be the same one from the original toy.

He has multiple points of articulation! He's super poseable! You can, in fact recreate the "jumping and shooting" pose from Transformers: The Movie that is subtly hinted at on the box art!

Now mine is a bit stiff around the upper leg joints and I don't think his, um, groin (?) would take the strain if I tried to force them, but overall I'm very happy with this Optimus. I had the original and broke his arm off almost immediately, then spent the following decades rejecting various replacement Primes for their misleading transformations -- which is more a me problem than a Takara/Hasbro problem, I know -- so it's lovely that the quest is finally over.

Monday, March 04, 2024

Strict Location Records Must Be Kept

I've had a handful of questions -- or rather what is more or less the same question restated in slightly different terms -- about my adventure Strict Time Records Must Be Kept. Before I try to answer it/them, I should explain the context.

In Strict Time Records Must Be Kept -- henceforth STRMBK -- the player-characters are dosed with a slow-acting poison and are given the task of finding an antidote hidden somewhere in a mansion, before they die a messy death. There are some "dials" that the Referee can use to adjust the difficulty and fairness of the adventure -- whether the antidote exists at all, whether there's one antidote or many, the speed of the poison, and so on -- but for today's purposes we are assuming that it's being played straight and there are enough doses of antidote available for all the player-characters.

(A brief aside here to answer another question that so far I have been asked only once. Yes, the antidotes can be scattered throughout the house; they do not have to all be found in the same place. In fact, I recommend that multiple doses are not found in the same location. That's far too easy.)

The idea is that the Referee looks through the description of the house and picks the locations of the antidote bottles based on their knowledge of their own players, but also -- and most important -- based on what seems most fun to them. As such, no specific locations are defined, and this is quite deliberate. The decision, Oh Referee, is yours.

That said, the question I've been asked a few times since release is something along the lines of: where should the antidotes go? I can see how that would be useful for the time-starved -- ha ha -- Referee, so here are my "suggested" antidote locations:
  • p18: Inside one mannequin, but only one! I would perhaps indicate a glint of something glass -- a bottle? -- in the folds of a mannequin's clothing, just to give the players the idea. Taking a whole Turn to search a mannequin seems a bit long, but it's consistent with other activities, and no one wants to be dicking around with Half-Turns or some other arcane nonsense. There are 26 mannequins and they should be everywhere around the ground and first floors, but I suggest putting the one with the antidote in the corridor outside the dining room (p49).
  • p37: The Abaddon or Mammon rooms -- but not both! -- with the blunderbuss traps. A relatively easy one, to give the players some hope.
  • p41: The Apollyon room, in the puzzle box. Another somewhat easy one, or at least an obvious one. There's potential for damage and wasted time here, so it seems only fair to reward those risks with an antidote.
  • p42: The Eblis room, among all the threads. I like this one because the bottle is visible but difficult to approach. I would consider making it more tricky even; maybe making it a five Turn task, with a saving throw each Turn.
  • p43: The Erasmus room, in one of hundreds of bottles. I like that this one isn't difficult, and isn't really a puzzle as such, but wastes time.
  • p53: Room F, inside the "corpse". Assuming the players work out that there's a bottle inside the victim, they then have to make a choice to cut them open, and that choice has serious consequences. This is one of the first puzzles I wrote for the adventure and I adore the gruesomeness.
  • p54: K, the barbed wire room. I would put the bottle in plain sight in the middle of the tangle. The bastard in me suggests a chance of smashing the bottle if someone falls in from above (p43); perhaps by rolling an even result on the Paralysation save.
That's seven doses; when writing these blasted things, I assume a party of four player-characters but I know that's a bit on the light side for many OSR groups. If you're running with more than seven player-characters then bear in mind that there are 10 puzzle rooms, plus 26 mannequins so there are plenty of places to hide bottles.

I hope that helps! If anyone has any more questions or thoughts then let me know in the comments. You could email or message me too, but I'll probably want to add any answers here. Also, if anyone needs any tech support for any of my other adventures, then I'd be happy to do more posts of this sort.

If you're reading this and thinking "I'd like to give Strict Time Records Must Be Kept a try" then that's a bit weird because the post is for people who already have the book, but stranger things have happened and you can buy it in print here and in pdf here.

Huh. I didn't need to shorten Strict Time Records Must Be Kept to STRMBK again after all. Except just there.