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Head Shot Updated for Cortex Prime SRD

HEAD SHOT! A Zombie Apocalypse Hack for Cortex Plus Action Roleplaying

Head Shot, the Cortex Plus Action Roleplaying hack for the zombie apocalypse, now has an additional document containing updates to the latest version of the Cortex Prime SRD, plus a new character sheet to take into account the new skills and updated Distinction rules!

Click here or check out our Free Stuff page for the link to the PDF, and read on if you want to get a brief overview of some of the enhancements!

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Dungeon Masters Guild: So, A Blank Walks into a Tavern…

Remorhaz by GreenAirplane - click to check it out at DeviantArt

In celebration of the release of So, a Cleric and a Vampire Walk into a Tavern compiled by Alan Tucker — the madman behind the best-selling Dungeon Masters Guild adventure Tentacles. Why Did It Have to Be Tentacles? — we are releasing an additional encounter here!

Alan worked with a host of the Dungeon Masters Guild’s best and most prolific writers — R P Davis, Alex Clippinger, Tony Petrecca, Jeff C. Stevens, and many others — to create this free compilation of 1 or 2 page encounters that all take place in a tavern. This puts an epic — and sometimes horrific, or mysterious — twist on the defining trope of “you’re a party of adventurers, and you meet in a tavern…”

So, a Cleric and a Vampire Walk into a Tavern features 12 encounters (one from yours truly but inspired by ideas from Glen Cooper) plus an appendix with dozens of sample tavern names. It’s free, so pick it up today, and add the encounter below to it!

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Updates for our Cortex and Dungeon Masters Guild Releases

Cortex Prime: A Multi-Genre Modular Roleplaying Game

Just a quick update concerning what’s going on behind the scenes here at neuronphaser.com!

Let’s take a look at what irons are in the fire:

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Encounters in the Savage Jungles: Expanding the Kobold’s Dam

Encounters in the Savage Jungles (Dungeon Masters Guild)

Among the many amazing adventure sites, NPCs, and events you can find in the compilation Encounters in the Savage Jungles (click the link to pick it up at the Dungeon Masters Guild) is Dam Kobolds! written by yours truly. In this site-based encounter, a bunch of kobolds cranked up on ryath root (basically a form of monster PCP found in Tomb of Annihilation) have made a lair out of some caves hidden behind a waterfall. They’ve got a captive faerie dragon and they are in need of a beat down. Enter the PCs.

It’s a very simple setup likely to be a slugfest through some windy, cramped tunnels, wherein the PCs dodge some deadly traps and beat up overly tough kobolds. But there’s plenty of DMs out there looking for something a little more complex than a thrashfest. If that’s you, this article is here to help!

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The Dungeon Master’s Binder Part 2: A New Dungeon Master’s Guide

More play aids

Last time I took a look at the DM’s Binder, I concentrated on what I’d call the Campaign Binder: a three-ring binder that contains the campaign-specific materials you need to organize and run a game at the table. Things like player- and DM-specific lore and maps, some tools you can utilize when things go off the rails or you need to name some random blacksmith, and a few house-rules that are specific to the game you’re running that week.

Now, I’m going to go a bit more high-level in concept. But, if I’m being honest, I’m starting to think that after 30+ years of gaming, this might be a better place for DMs to start. Even if that’s not the case, it’s certainly the kind of stuff DMs want to have handy to read, re-read, and reference over and over again for their Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, even if they aren’t the kind of thing you use at the table on game night. What I’m talking about here is basically a self-made Dungeon Master’s Guide, the kind of thing that tells you how the game works and how you can get it to work simply, logically, and in the most fun way for everyone at the table.

Let’s take a look!

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Dungeon Crawl Classics: Monster Stat Blocks

Undead hordes

Stat blocks are honestly one of the most infuriating things in any game. For me. Because I’m weird.

They are supposed to be a neat, orderly summation of everything you need to run a monster, but in OSR-style games they are too terse, in 4th edition D&D they look like something from a graphing calculator, and even in 5th edition D&D they unintentionally obscure the most important piece of running any monster: their tactics. But IMHO, 5th edition comes close to getting it right, so I’m gonna ape that in this column, which could be alternately titled, “Here’s some monsters from Rappan Athuk for use in your Dungeon Crawl Classics game.”

Because for my home game, I’m running Rappan Athuk using the DCC system. I wonder how many characters will die?

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Arms & Armor for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

Arms & Armor for the Castles & Crusades RPG

When the Troll Lords launched a Kickstarter for the Castles & Crusades “Three Sisters” (AKA the core rulebooks), one of the stretch goals they hit was a revision of Arms & Armor, a fantastic little book packed beyond what its page count should suggest with neat historical and physical details and info about hundreds (thousands?) of pieces of combat gear. Dozens of different armor types and full suits, a couple dozen helmet styles, shields galore, and more weapons than you can shake a stick at. Enough so that there’s not always enough mechanical depth to show the differences in the items, but when you take into account all the diagrams and background info on the items it gives you the perfect mix of game stats and real-world info to provide neat flourishes to different fantasy world cultures.

Well, since everybody loves this sorta thing to help differentiate their character — whether it’s the knowledge of a specifically sized sword with an interesting grip or its the knowledge of rolling that slightly higher die type for damage — I’ve decided to convert the tables to the Dungeon Crawl Classics rules, and provide it for free. So, you’re still gonna have to buy the book to get all the cool background info, but you can make use of the stats when you do. And if you don’t, well, you can just use the stuff you know, do your own research, or make it up!

First, a little explanatory text, and then the link to download this thing, below:

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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG: Vendettas and Soldiers

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

Having recently played the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG for the first time (finally!), I found the experience exhilarating and hilarious as our bumbling 0-level characters found themselves immediately in over their heads and striving to tackle traps and dungeon guardians they couldn’t possibly defeat without incredible ingenuity and luck. It’s what makes the game great: the stuff you face can and should destroy you utterly, but — when the adventures are done right — there are little tips and tricks tucked away that can push things in your favor. If you look for them, roll good, and make use of them. It rewards good play and hangs on the occasional good score or dice roll, as opposed to just relying on good scores and lots of mechanical options and doodads to play with.

As I prepare to run DCC for the first time, as opposed to being a player, I co-opted something that will help reinforce the roleplay aspect of DCC for a new player, giving them deeper motivations to send their character into the heart of danger. I also came up with a little mechanic that can help the 0-level characters get a better fighting chance in an especially hard funnel adventure, one that also will provide them with useful prompts to help them learn some of the “good strategy” involved in D&D-style gaming, if they aren’t already familiar. This may sound like I’m being too nice of a Judge — DCC is by intent not a game in which you really should be a “nice” and giving GM — but if you know anything about Rappan Athuk, well, that’s the adventure I’m using as the funnel and later campaign, so I’m actually probably still being mean. The players just won’t know it as quickly.

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Review: Blood Dark Thirst

Blood Dark Thirst by Kort'thalis Publishing

Blood Dark Thirst in a nutshell is Vampire: The Masquerade as distilled through author Venger’s propensity for an extra layer of darkness or weirdness (these are blood suckers who are possessed by demons!), and a major streamlining of system and theme. This isn’t a game that sells itself on its lavishly developed setting or the complex machinations of vampiric clans or houses, but instead boils everything down to the personal traits that create such beautiful conflict in the modern vampire mythos. For those seeking a quick and dark way to tell vampire stories of personal horror, you can’t go wrong. For those looking for more — more details, more traits, more than just “how does my vampire overcome or succumb to his bloodlust — this isn’t for you. And that’s just fine.

Rating: Content 4/5 and Form 5/5.

Read on for the full review!

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Curse of Strahd As A One-Shot

Strahd astride his nightmare steed

The idea of boiling down the iconic adventure Curse of Strahd is one that isn’t exactly promising for a few reasons: Strahd works best when he shows up several times, there’s a lot of backstory conveyed through locations and NPCs in Barovia, and there’s several artifacts spread out across the realm that even the odds against Strahd and present their own sidequests. Castle Ravenloft itself is a big place, with hundreds of areas to explore.

But Strahd’s been around for decades, so literally thousands of players have already played through some edition’s version of the adventure surrounding Ravenloft’s key adversary, or they’ve read about his exploits and power-level. The iconic status that makes him the perfect enemy for a party is also what makes him so cool for players to challenge head-to-head over and over again. In fact, that’s a key element of the campaign: Strahd, as a Dark Lord of a domain in Ravenloft, may have no way of being permanently defeated, and so he will play out his torturous, unrequited love story for all of time.

For Halloween, I’ve attempted to boil down Curse of Strahd to its barest elements, and I think I’ve created something that can be finished in 4-6 hours of play while still revealing the story of Strahd. Let’s see what you think!

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