Tuesday, September 4, 2018

B/X Mars Preview Factions

I’m nearing completion. Some playtesting has been done. I’ll be doing a preview a week until I’m done. 

Under the Mad sun  

Ages past, the sun went bad. Now, Mars breaks beneath its scorching and  unclean  regard.  The Time of The Mad Sun endures, with no foreseeable surcease; the Red Planet’s last survivors gather now,  south of the Great Rift’s eastern edge- near the equator- in the land once called Zerzura.  The last cities writhe with intrigue and strife. Nomads rule the burned out wastelands. Monsters and worse stalk the eternally shifting sands. The night sky is strewn with burned out stars.  The desert dreams of war, cataclysm and extinction.  

The following section examines the region through the intertwined perspectives of biology, geography and politics. On Mars, these elements intertwine to a high degree;  ancient civilizations, long forgotten, altered many living creatures, and  constructed mysterious structures full of eldritch machines, all in order to ensure life’s long term survival. 

 Dance of sand and shadow
Powers, Factions, Cults and Secret Societies

Name: House of Zolo/ Great Stone Ark

Description : The individuals and organizations under the control of the Crimson Queen, ruler of the Great Stone Ark. 
House Zolo’s power is primarily represented by the Crimson Blade, the city’s force of warriors. 

Headquarters: The Red Tower,  aboard the Great Ark. 

The Shape of Things: : The incomparably lovely Crimson Queen, Zenia Zolo is the absolute ruler of the Ark and House Zolo- and has been for an impossibly long time. Everyone ultimately answers to her; 
Crimson Bladesmen, chief operatives of the House Zolo comport themselves with arrogance and aggression.  They rarely interact with outsiders, but when they do, it usually ends badly. 
The queen also commands an advanced network of spies and secret police. 
Goals: the Queen wishes to wrest the control of Xards from the Bleeding God. 

Demeanor:  Rapacious and somewhat out of control,  House Zolo threatens all who enter its sphere of influence. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mars Monster Gallery and drivel.

I'm not dead,  I just went dark a couple of months ago in order to focus all my efforts in one direction. BX Mars. I will attempt to keep you updated a little better as I draw closer to completion. Character Generation is just about done, and will be complete aside from art, later today if I don't slack off.  The Atlas is mostly done,  lots and lots of maps are already done, Monsters, aside from a Handful of illos are DONE.
basically I am yrying to clear the deck of old projects.  so if there is something you've liked and wanted to see more of. I'm going to get to them all- one at a time.

okay,  bitches,  here's the art:

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Madling Sea

           The water surrounding Madling Isle festers with life, most of it extremely dangerous, from a vast array of Earth’s earlier time periods. Megalodon, merfolk, giant sea scorpions, ichthyosaurs, orca and an impossible host of other creatures inhabit the waters below the perpetually rough waters. 
            The most feared of all these creatures is the giant possibly immortal liopleurodon,  Dreadfin. In B/X terms Dreadfin functions exactly as a 12 HD Sea Dragon (Expert book pg 39) with a Morale of 10. A natural 20 on the liopleurodon’s attack roll results in a medium sized creature being swallowed whole,  or alternately the utter destruction of all but the most fortified watercraft.
            I was tempted to do a bunch of new monsters,  but the Madling Sea provides ample opportunity to use a ton of very underused critters- whatever your preferred edition.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017


The streets and terraces of the great city of Neopolis are patrolled by a lobotomized, cyber controlled and enhanced paramilitary police force, officially dubbed Wolf Soldiers, but commonly called ‘Dogs’ by residents of the city.
Dogs, as one might expect move in packs. The standard pack consists of twelve dogs, one of which has not been lobotomized and controls the other. The pack leader (commonly referred to as the Bitch) is otherwise indistinguishable from his charges. All dogs wear mirrored visors and black body armor. 
Notoriously hard to kill, Dogs have augmented strength, endurance and senses. They can see in the infrared and pick up radio transmissions, although they rely more on their enhanced olfactory whilst hunting for suspects.
Each carries a maser pistol and shock truncheon; both of which self-immolate if the Dog is killed. All Dogs have a low yield explosive housed in their chest

Next week, I’ll have art and stats (ICONS) for these guys, and if all goes well that Map I promised last week

Monday, August 28, 2017

Snowflakes and the Storm



How to create early engagement in your campaign.

We enter this world in bloody screaming trauma, each of us different from all those that have come before. That trauma and those differences set the stage for what is to come later and anchor us to this life.

Player characters come into their worlds all too often as a combination of dice rolls or points spent and some selections from a more less a universally available list of gear. With staggering regularity the same characters begin their journey in or on their way to a tavern in search of adventure. Aside from a few numbers on their sheet low level characters in most editions bear a striking resemblance to other members of their class.

Many players, myself included, I’m afraid, find this to be boring and off-putting. I contend that if you want characters to engage in the storm and fury of the setting you love, you have to put them into that storm, and make them a part of it.


1. This cannot be overstated, forget about the three chimeras: balance, consistency and orthodoxy.

2. Start the campaign with an initiative roll or some other sort of compelling action, e.g., a pirate raid; escaping a shipwreck; waking to an assassin in the middle of the night; on a cart riding to the gallows; fleeing from the city on horse back with saddlebags full of treasure- perhaps some of it cursed, or too dangerous to fall into the wrong hands.

A meteor falls in the center of town turning everyone but the pcs into undead? Why? I don’t know, you tell me- you’re the referee! Do something crazy. Ride your game like a stolen horse.

3. Customize each player character out of the gate. Give them an interesting minor or even major magic item. Looking to media for examples: In the movie Excalibur, for example Arthur pulls the sword from the stone at the beginning of his story. He doesn’t ‘earn’ it- and that right there is creates all sorts of interesting complications. D’artagnan gets a junk sword from his father that breaks almost immediately and necessitates the acquisition of a new sword. Extra levels are not a bad idea either, D’artagnan is a better swordsman than Porthos right out of the gate, despite the years of experience of the latter. Porthos however, has advantages all his own in the form of an innate ability to get women to pay for all his gear. The Grey Mouser has a couple of level in MU before he begins his career as a thief.

There are so many things you can do to make this happen. Perhaps the character has some dragon in their blood line and can cast a fire ball once a week- perhaps they did it for the first time by accident and are now on the run from the consequences of said deed.

A magic user whose father wanted to make a man out of him and insisted he learn to use a sword.

A locket containing a picture of and haunted by the character’s dead mother who speaks warnings to him in times of danger.

A cask with a strange ruin carved spike protruding from the side- impaling- one's palm on the spike for 1pt of damage causes it to fill with wine.

The skull of the pc’s dead twin- that knows things, important things, and speaks in a voice that all can here, but hates its sibling more than anything and can only be coaxed to speech or silenced by a meal of blood.

Other ideas:

Extra spells.

Extra hit points

Weird and creepy magic items.

Dark Secrets

A price on all their heads for a crime they did or did not commit.

Cosmic awareness, or prophetic dreams

Monster traits

See what kind of ideas your players have.

Don’t feel obligated to limit oneself to one or two of these, either and don't worry about balance. You can always make tougher challenges. Always.

So in short, make every character a special snowflake. Every. Single. One.


Tomorrow: Neopolis.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ruinlands Revisted, Madling Isle.


Madling Island:

According to popular legend, as related in the wine shops of Ssaur, the so called Madling Island, located in the Purple Lake of The Forgotten Depths, is the site of an abandoned factory, which, during the Lost Wars, was used for the production of Skeletal Warriors. Supposedly, a powerful Madling sorcerer took up residence in the old factory several centuries ago, and abides there still, engaged in an attempt to reactivate the factory's eldritch apparatus in order to raise an army with which to conquer Ssaur and the Rüinlands. The sorcerer is said to have a vast store of treasure. This horde is reported to be made up of magical, monetary and technological constituents. All of this is, of course, hearsay, and it is impossible to identify anyone who has traveled to the island and returned. Thus, the claims of legend remain unconfirmed, and true knowledge of the place is scant, if not completely nonexistent.

The truth of the matter is that the rumors are largely accurate, but they tell only a little about the strange and terrible place that is Madling Island.

Madling Island, Some Facts:

The island exists inside a time-space depression (TSD, henceforth); it actually occupies far more land area than it appears to from a distance. Although, at less than a kilometer away, the Island appears to be roughly 15 km from end to end, it is in truth, roughly 10 times as long. Furthermore, time flows differently there; for each day that passes on the island and in its immediate environs, a month passes in the outer world. Obviously, there is no missing the change in physical scale as one approaches the island; however, individuals within the TSD cannot detect the temporal aberration, as the day-night cycle is absent therein, replaced by an endless, brooding and blood-red twilight, punctuated only by the pulsating sullen glow of Godmount.

It is possible that a careful observer from outside the TSD might notice a dull flickering over the island, the cause of which would be difficult to ascertain.

The cause or causes of these strange conditions are poorly understood, although it is likely that the powerful reality warping magic utilized in the creation of entire armies of Skeletal Warriors- and the many other experiments and activities that took place on the island may have been among the causative factors


Origninally presented July 7th 2011, over the next few weeks I'll be fleshing out Madling Isle with new content and old. I rather like this old map though.