Showing posts with label Cthulhu Claus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cthulhu Claus. Show all posts

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Return to Shadow of the Krampus -- A Holiday Themed Shadow of the Demon Lord Adventure

I posted this last year, a little late, and am reposting it this year for those of you who want to add a little of the Season into your gaming.

I am a big fan of running seasonal adventures for my regular gaming group. Though my group hasn't played as regularly this year as they have in the past, I was inspired by Robert J. Schwalb's dark fantasy roleplaying game Shadow of the Demon Lord to write an adventure for this season. For the past few years, I've written and reshared adventures featuring Cthulhu Claus (based on my wife Jody Lindke's illustrations for an old Kickstarter) or the V'sori (evil aliens in the Necessary Evil setting for Savage Worlds), but this year I decided to feature Krampus -- that most devilish of Santa's helpers. While Krampus might be a bit played out for some, having gained mainstream notoriety, I'm still a big fan of the character and I have the pleasure of knowing an artist who has been participating in Krampuslaufen long before it was trendy to do so and Bill Rude's Krampus costume is amazing as is the fact that he can get even small children to pose with his horrifying costume.

Bill Rude is a talented artist and you can look at a variety of his projects over at his 7 Hells: The Retro Art of Bill Rude website.

Illustration Copyright Jody Lindke 2016
In this mini-adventure, the PCs are passing through the town of Nesbitt-Hill during one of their other adventures. You can use the map below to represent the portion of the foothills of the Iron Peaks immediately south of the Zauberspitz with Nesbitt-Hill being the northern-most community on the map and Tower number 3 representing the once great Beacon Fortress.

Shadow of the Krampus is a Novice (though not a "just now Novice") adventure for Shadow of the Demon Lord with a post-Christmas theme. 

The town of Nesbitt-Hill is a vital stop for wanderers and miners who brave the dangers of the Iron Peaks in search of adventure or riches. For years the town has been a peaceful refuge, seemingly immune from the spread of the Demon Lord's Shadow. For even as the Shadow has spread, the town of Nesbitt-Hill remains a spark of light an happiness in an otherwise dark and desperate world.

But that changed last night. Historically, the Winter Solstice has been a time of celebration when the townsfolk of Nesbitt-Hill memorialize the the Solstice King and his champion Krampus. For it is this duo who has protected the town since the Battle of Zauberspitz where the Solstice King and Krampus defeated a horde of the Demon Lord's servants, or at least that is what the stories say. The stories also say that Krampus steals children who misbehave and returns them at the Spring Equinox after the darkness has been purged from the children's souls. If it is true that Krampus takes children and eventually brings them back, why is it that Krampus has taken no children for twenty years? Why does Mistress Oetzel swear she saw Krampus take adults this Winter Solstice? And why were these adults among the most generous citizens of Nesbitt-Hill? Has Krampus returned, but as a servant of the Demon Lord? Or is something else afoot?

With the exception of the map depicting the area of the Iron Peaks I refer to as the Gronwald, an area that lies in the shadow of the Zauberspitz, all of the maps were drawn by Dyson Logos and were taken from his Commercial Maps webpage. According to the page, Dyson has released these images under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. If I have used any images that are not covered by this license, I will be happy to remove them.

The cover image of "Shadow of the Krampus?" was illustrated by Bill Rude, who was kind enough to give me permission to use it. Please visit his website and consider purchasing some of his art.

The other image is the "survival map" from Robert J Schwalb's playing aids page for Shadow of the Demon Lord. I am using it with the intention of it being fair use, but if Mr. Schwalb deems my use inappropriate I will be happy to remove it. This adventure requires the use of the Shadow of the Demon Lord rule book since all monster statistics, with the exception of Krampus, are located within the pages of that "vile" tome. Krampus was designed using rules from the Of Monstrous Mien supplement. It is highly recommended that you also own Hunger in the Void and Terrible Beauty to add details around the edges of this adventure.

The cartoon illustrations in the module are the work of my talented wife Jody Lindke. I included "rpg humor" cartoons because they remind me of the cartoons in the old AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide.

I hope you enjoy the adventure.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cthulhu Claus Holiday Card Backer Button for Our Kickstarter Project

I designed the first button to hand out to our Cthulhu Claus Holiday Card project backers. It uses a piece of art from the first series of cards. What are your thoughts?

If you want to become a backer of our project, please visit Kickstarter and join in.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

And Now is the Time on Sprockets When We Self-Promote -- Cthulhu Claus Holiday Cards Season 2

I'm very excited to announce that Twin Suns Entertainment - a company that I and a couple of friends started in 2011 - launched our second Kickstarter campaign today with Cthulhu Claus Holiday Cards Series 2.

When we launched the first series of cards in 2012, Twin Suns Entertainment had already attempted a failed Kickstarter program for a documentary about gamers that was going to be directed by our own Wes Kobernick. My wife Jody came up with the idea of doing a series of Holiday Cards based around a doodle she had done depicting Cthulhu as Santa Claus. My partners, Wes and Joel, thought it was a very good idea and so our project was researched, price quotes obtained, contracts with Jody Lindke and Kenneth Hite negotiated, and project launched. During the process, we teamed up with Game Salute as our distributor for those who wanted to purchase the cards after the Kickstarter campaign. You can still buy cards from them at this link.

Here is some sample art from the first campaign:

This image is a much cleaned up and colorized version of the illustration that inspired the first campaign.

The Cthulhu Claus sleigh ride illustration is probably my favorite illustration in the first set. I love not only the design on the "reindeer," but also the way Jody used color.

These are what the cards look like in the box of 25. There are five cards of each illustration that Jody did for the piece.

Even Cthulhu like's cookies. I really like how Jody used the image of frosting and red hots to represent a stomach wound and intestines.

And if Cthulhu can eat a cookies, why can't we. I hope that some day we'll be able to put together a Cthulhu Claus cookie cutter, but talk about an expensive proposition for the initial set up. And I thought trying to get die-cut stickers was a pain.

The new series of cards will have a slightly different look as the inspirations for the illustrations will come from multiple sources and stem from another project we are working on at present, but here is a glimpse.

I really think that Jody has knocked the ball out of the park with this illustration, but we'll see if you agree.  If you want to back our latest project, you can do so my clicking on the widget below. Please spread the word to your friends.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Big Bang Theory and D&D: One Geek's Perspective

Those of you who visit this blog with any regularity know that I am not merely a fan of Geek Culture, but I'm a bit of an evangelist as well.  I want the world to have the same love for Geek Culture that I do.  So portrayals, and reactions to portrayals, of Geeks and Hobbyists are something that I pay close attention to.  I am also a big fan of the television show "The Big Bang Theory."  To my memory TBBT has had the cast play D&D on two occasions, the most recent being the December 13th episode "The Santa Simulation."  This episode has met with quite a bit of criticism on my Twitter and Facebook feeds.  One of the most mild criticisms was Chris Pramas' post on 12/14,  though the brief conversation that followed gives a glimpse at some of the ire that the show can engender from the Geek community.

Before I continue, I'd like to point out that I'm on friendly terms with two of the writers on the show.  This isn't to say that I'm close friends or anything that intimate, but that I and my Geekerati co-host Shawna Benson have done podcast interviews with both Executive Producer David Goetsch (in 2008) and Supervising Producer Maria Ferrari  (late 2012) on separate occasions.  Maria was one of the writers of "The Santa Simulation" episode, so my curiosity wonders if some small spark for the episode came from her participation in my little podcast.  My Shatnerian hubris tells me "Of course it did," while the person who has an understanding of production schedules and how Hollywood actually works says "Puh-leeze, get over yourself."  These facts make me predisposed to be favorable to the show, and I thought everyone should know that before they read further.

The fact is that I find the Nerd Rage being tossed at the creators of THE BIG BANG THEORY to be ludicrous.  I can understand not liking "The Santa Simulation" as an episode, though I liked it and will discuss why below, but to rage at the creators accusing them of "laughing at geeks rather than laughing with them" is unmerited.  Having forced two of the writers to endure marathon live-streaming runs on my podcast, I have learned two things.

First, the people on the show are geeks.  They don't all geek out about the same things you do, but they do all geek out about aspects of geek culture.  They have writers who are comic book fanatics, Star Trek fanatics, video gamers, and hobby gamers.  Have you ever noticed the games that the cast plays at the beginning of episodes?  While the "Ticket to Ride" game going on in a recent episode was a fairly mainstream demonstration, the playing of "Talisman" during an earlier episode points to some serious Hobby Gaming on someone's part.

Second, these people are nice.  Extremely nice.  David Goetsch's only failing as a human being is that he is a Red Sox fan.  Given that the Cubs likely threw the 1918 World Series to give the Sox their much discussed "pre-curse" World Series victory, I have a particular disdain for Red Sox fans.  The fact that David Goetsch is so nice that he overcomes my anti-SoxFan bias is a testimony to how nice he truly is.  Listen to the conversations Shawna and I live-streamed with the writers.  They not only put up with my asides, meanderings, and bad jokes, they join in.  When hanging out with "real geeks," they spend not one moment laughing at us and are instead laughing with us.

Now for a discussion of "The Santa Simulation" proper, as it is an episode that has fostered so much distracting discussion on my various social network feeds.

"The Santa Simulation" is an episode that has as it's "A Storyline" that the core cast -- minus Penny -- haven't been able to play D&D as much as they like over the past few years and want to play.  They want to play so badly that they are willing to prioritize it over night's out with the women in their lives, in Sheldon's case he "forbids" his girlfriend from participating.

The first criticism that leaps out at gamers, and the one highlighted by Chris Pramas in the tweet I linked earlier, is that the show "propagates the myths that only dudes play D&D and that it's either D&D or sex."  I think that this is a fair criticism of the episode, but I'd like to examine it a little further.  It is true as far as it goes, but it should be pointed out that a) it is only Sheldon who "forbids" his girlfriend from playing, b) that Sheldon has very peculiar ideas about societal norms, and c) that Sheldon's girlfriend very much wanted to play in the game.

I'd also like to share a quick anecdote with you.  This past year, the company my friends and I started up launched our first Kickstarter.  We funded a Cthulhu Claus Holiday Card project that was illustrated by my wife Jody Lindke and that contained greetings written by Gaming God Kenneth Hite.  When the project was completed and all boxes had been shipped to backers, I approached my Friendly Local Game Store and asked if they would be interested in carrying the cards.  I also had a retailer tier available on the project.  The manager/owner of the local store said, and I paraphrase here, "the customers at this store would likely not be interested in the project as they aren't very sociable and won't have people to send them to.  They'll look at them, think they are cute, but won't buy them." 

I am not kidding.  Additionally, ZERO retailers backed the project.

That store owner was harder on the hobbyists who frequent the store than TBBT has ever been to the geek community.  The fact is that "gamer are not social" is tried and true stereotype.  The fact that hobby gaming is itself a social hobby that requires social networks -- physical ones not digital ones -- in order to fully appreciate is beside the point.  The most sociable people I know are all gamers.  Are all gamers sociable?  No, but many are and all seem to enjoy the company of their friends while playing games.  TBBT's "The Santa Simulation" at least got that part right.

Back to Chris's point though, he's right that the show didn't break stereotypes and it would have been nice if they had.  It would have been fun seeing how Penny reacted during Leonard's "Holiday Themed" D&D adventure.  I think there was some real room for comedy gold just in that thought experiment, not to mention how it would drive Sheldon crazy.  This is especially the case given that Sheldon has yet to defeat Penny at any game, and an entire episode was dedicated to Penny besting Sheldon -- though sad to say that episode (The Re-Entry Minimization) didn't include any hard core hobby games.  So I think Chris is on to something with his reaction.  TBBT had a moment when they could have gone for the harder, but funnier, storyline and they didn't.  TBBT stuck with the easy gamers are boys assumption when they could have been narratively braver.

That isn't only due to meeting stereotypes though, or from a lack of ability.  It also has to do with screenplay structure.  TBBT -- like most modern shows -- has an A and a B storyline.  Sometimes they even have a C storyline.  Given that the majority of the cast was playing D&D and they only had 3 regular characters not in the game, what would be left for the B storyline if everyone was playing the game?  That's a challenge the writers had to face, and they came up with the episode they came up with.  It was essentially "boys night vs. girls night out."  And you know what, the "boys night" looked like more fun.

That's right, the D&D game looked like more fun than going out "clubbing."  Leonard's "Let's rescue Santa Claus" D&D adventure was exactly the kind of thing gamers do for the holidays.  Savage Worlds has a free Christmas Evening adventure -- and I should point out that a couple of years ago I ran a Savages Save Santa Necessary Evil game.  RPGNow is filled with holiday themed adventures for heaven knows how many game systems.  This year I ran a Call of Cthulhu holiday themed adventure -- and no it didn't involve Cthulhu Claus.  Next year's will.  The guys were all having a great time, the play looked engaging and fun, until Sheldon ruined the boys night out due to his personal history with Santa Claus.

Let me say something that was embedded in that last paragraph again.  It made playing D&D look fun.  It started off silly, but in the end it looked like a great time.  I can see someone saying, "That's what people where afraid of in the 80s?  Really?  It looks fun and I'm going to give it a try."

Do I think the episode could have been better?  Yes.  Having Penny and Sheldon battle it out over the fate of Santa Claus would have been amazing.  Showing non-gamers being recruited to gaming was a missed opportunity for D&D evangelization.  But the episode was fun, and it made me happy that I'd already planned a holiday themed Cthulhu game.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

History, Mystery, Orcus, and Cthulhu Greeting Cards

Today has been a crazy day, but from the moment it began I knew that it was the day that I would have to launch my new Kickstarter project even though I haven't finished editing the pitch video.  Don't worry, I will finish that soon and I'll be adding a couple of rewards.

I knew I had to launch the project when my daughter Mystery who was cheerfully playing with one of my Balor D&D pre-painted miniatures ran over to the shelf where my limited edition D&D mini Orcus was lying and brought him to the breakfast table to "play with his friend."  I don't know exactly what kind of games that Orcus and his pal "little Balor" play together, but I do know they include Aurora from Sleeping Beauty and Silvermist from the Tinkerbell series among their closest friends an playmates.

Who knew that Aurora and Silvermist went for the "bad boy" type. Watch out Prince Phillip.

It was the perfect combination of cute and terrifying and I took that as the sign that the time was right.

You see, I've been planning to release a Cthulhu Claus Holiday Card project for some time now as one of the offerings of the business my friends Wes and Joel formed with me last year.  Our goal is to create a number of gaming and gaming related products with an overarching aim of building community and expanding the scope of the hobby.  I think that the Cthulhu Claus Holiday Card project fits that mold perfectly.

I hope that its mix of Lovecraftian imagery adapted by the humorous hand of my wife Jody Lindke -- the first woman to win the prestigious Charles Schulz Cartooning Award -- with the spirit of the Holiday Season will make a great gift for gamers and for non-gamer pulp fans alike.  Ever since I first saw "All I want for Solstice is my Sanity" video and read through Tor's December belongs to Lovecraft blog entries, I've wanted to do a Lovecraft themed Christmas product.  The only thing I lacked was the funds to launch such a project, and now with Kickstarter I have that opportunity.

Of course, that also means that the success or failure of this project is up to you.  If you want this product, please back my project.  I promise that there will be more rewards coming -- original artwork anyone? -- and that we will have stretch goals.  Help me make this happen.