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Hey there readers.

So yeah, I know it has only been a couple of weeks since my last rest day, but to be honest I am in crash mode again. Holiday days off for the 4th of July, and even though I have been getting more sleep, well for a day or so… I still feel like I cant get anything going.

So I am going to dodge putting effort in here and see if I can keep resting up.

Hope everyone out there is playing hard and playing safe.

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Rest Day

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Howdy readers

It was either try and do the gaming version of ‘dad jokes’ today or take the day off.

I figured everyone would appreciate me taking the day off.

Hope everyone has fun out there and stays safe.

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Game Review – Atomic Highway

Atomic highway

Ok so the last review I did was in April… wow…

Lets get right into the meat of this one shall we?

Atomic Highway has been around since 2009. Originally published by the authors in house studio Radioactive Ape Design. It is currently in the hands of Gallant Knight Games. The author struck a deal with them in 2018. However the game is not listed on GKG’s website, and is being offered up for free in PDF form on Drive Thru RPG.

And this post is going to be a little odd… the author, the game, and the publishers have no wiki pages I can link to. The current publisher has a web site but nothing about this game. So it feels kind of odd but this is a real game… seriously… you can still get it… this is just so odd.

Allll righty… SO… Atomic Highway is sort of like what would happen if you mixed Steve Jackson Games – Car Wars, with the classic TSR – Gamma World. Both are post crash/apocalypse. But Gamma World does not really have cars, and Car Wars does not have mutants. In some ways it reminds me of the much maligned movie Deathrace 2000 from 1975.

The core book for this game is fairly slim given modern standards of books so big you could defend yourself with them in melee combat. While that might seem like it would have to kill the fluff in a game it really only trims it. The art in the book has the right feel to it for the setting. Definitely giving that ‘after the bomb survivor feel to the characters and scenes presented. The world is a little light, but in my  mind that gives more room for the GM to work with making his/her/their/its world their own.

The game mechanics are fairly light. I would overall compare them favorably with the Interlock system for Cyberpunk. Well except for the personal combat rules. Those get a little chunky with weapon types and armor. But overall its a good system. Easy to run, task resolution is simple and based on number of successes, kind of a simple version of the Shadowrun style. I do have to give it to the creator though when he made the stats become an acronym… M.U.T.A.N.T.S.. Its cute. It really is and you know you have to have something to laugh about in a dark nasty world.

Since I am trying to run this one out fairly quickly lets see how I number it up.

Overall Fluff 4/5 – I can only go so far because the fluff is mostly the art. And while its good, having some short fiction or a little more world detail would have bumped it up.

Overall Crunch 3/5 – Given what I said above you might think this is a low score. But its not really. The game mechanics work well at a personal level. Its not quite as smooth with the driving, and having used Interlock, Shadowrun, and Car Wars in the past I know better examples of all of the components that were put together to make the game. However having them all in one package is unique and it is mod-able.

Overall Mod 4/5 – The game really needs a little tweaking to run really smooth. And with a system this simple you can mod the heck out of it if you like.

Overall Fun 4/5 – I happen to like the simplicity, and the openness of the setting. I also like the idea of mutants that would scare Mad Max running around exploring the ruins of the past and trying to avoid being killed by creatures that look like a mix of jackrabbit and horse with a T-Rex jawline. Yeahhhh that beast is in there.

Total Score 15/20 – Its fun, its fast, and you can tinker. I like it, I have had fun with it, and I will have more fun in the future with it. Which seems kinda weird to say since it is all about a post apocalyptic world…

Well thats it for today.

I hope everyone out there is having fun, learning that they can game remotely, and trying to stay safe and sane with all the fights for real freedom going on right now.

Now gimme the dice… I need to see how many mutations I can get on my driver before he wont fit in the car.






Tales from the game table – The Rules Lawyer

dm disaster mw kaluta

So several years ago I was running Pathfinder games at a local game shop. There was a mostly regular group that showed up but from time to time folks would ask to jump in and play. We did our best to stay open to ‘guest appearances’ like that. It would not always work though and this is a story behind one of those guest stars…

About three weeks into regular games a young man shows up and asks to play, we were already mid session and so the group voted and said no. We did however spend some time as individuals helping him set up a character that would fit into the ongoing campaign, and invited him to swing by for a later session. Since we started at the same time every week it was easy to schedule for.

So next week young man comes back, and with him he has a copy of the Pathfinder main book with all sorts of little note tabs sticking out of it. I had seen a few people do that before to make sure they could use abilities and spells correctly. More often though I had seen players set up so they could argue for doing things that would normally not be seen in a game because they wanted to take advantage of something… so I had to wonder what way it would go.

About twenty minutes into the game session new guy forces a fight in a scene that really didnt need one. And then he cracks open the book…

“So I have x and y… so I go first and do z.”

“Awesome so that means that the Barkeep can do aa.”

“What, no it dosent. I am a PC and have character levels in XX.”

“So does the Barkeep.”

“He is just an NPC he cant!”

“Can and does. Just wait til you try that on a barmaid.”

“You cant do that!!”

“Why not?”

“Only players have character levels!”

“Who says?”

“ITS NOT FAIR! Show me your stats!”


“You have to I asked!”

“No I dont.”

“You just dont want me to play!”

“Not true. I just want everyone to have fun. Your character started an unnecessary fight, and you immediately tried to use the rules so you could show off. I am happy to have you play. As part of the team. What you are doing is not helping everyone have fun.”

“NO! You are all just @$$holes!!”

Queue tantrum that gets young man kicked out of the store.

Over the years I have found that the fastest way to deal with a rules lawyer is to have an NPC mimic what they are doing. Most of the time it leaves the rules lawyer with such a bad taste in their mouth that they storm off and never come back.

In this case the young man in question (actually I think he was about twelve or so but young man sounds better than tween… it really does) came back two sessions later and after apologizing to the store and the group he sat in and played about three sessions. Had a great time as far as I could tell. And really acted like a team player. I think everyone got lucky out of it.

Well, thats it for today.

Now gimme the dice. I need to see how many players it takes to infuse wild magic into itself.


Martial Arts in Champions/Hero Games

MA - Tiger Wong Dragon Slaying Kicks 9 Suns

Hi there readers.

So anyone who knows me knows I love comicbooks and martial arts. And martial arts in comic books is just too sweet to pass up. Whether it is Richard Dragon in DC comics, Iron Fist in Marvel comics, or some of the awesome things like Oriental Heroes/Dragon Tiger Gate from Jademan Comics/Jade Dynasty (Chinesse comics called Manhua) I have to say I love it.

So when it comes to role playing games there are a few in my mind that do really well with their martial arts simulations. But since I am talking about comic books I thought I would focus on my favorite super hero RPG Champions/Hero System. For this particular article I am going to be using 6th edition rules. The rules for Martial Arts has not changed much at all since the Big Blue Book aka 4th edition. So anyone who has played since 1989 with a new copy of the rules should be up to speed.


So in Champions you can establish a martial art by purchasing specific maneuvers. Strikes, dodges, blocks, and so on, that all have specific bonus’, penalties and effects.

For example…

Maneuver              Phase Pts OCV DCV Damage/Effect
Basic Strike              ½      3      1       0    STR +2d6 Strike

Now then this basic strike can be defined as a punch, or a kick, or a head butt, or whatever else you desire. You bought it you name it.

In the Hero System Rulebook, Champions Rule books, and the Hero System Martial Arts book you get lists of not only maneuvers, but combinations of maneuvers that become martial arts styles. So classic Kung-Fu, Karate, and other martial arts are represented as best the authors can in the game system.

To make maneuvers more potent you can buy DC or Damage Classes to push up the effect. So adding one DC to the maneuver above you would add 1d6 to the Strike damage. Unless you only bought the one move, that single DC you purchased would power up ALL of your moves in that Martial Art.

Did you notice that I said “in that Martial Art”? Yeah that’s right I did. Because in Champions, just like in the comics, you can have a character with multiple Martial Arts. And because we love to do it, we can even make our own Martial Arts. Heck the rules even let us build our own maneuvers. A current favorite of mine from my creations is Octopus Style…

Style: Octopus
Name of Move                      Move             Action  Cost  OCV  DCV  Effect
Corded Throat                Choke Hold     1/2         4       -2        0    Grab one limb, 2d6 NND
Break what is offered      Crush               1/2         4        0        0    Str+4d6, Must follow Grab
Ocean is vast                     Flying Dodge  1/2          5       –        +4   Dodge All, Abort, Full Move
In your own way             Grapple Block 1/2         4       +1      +1   Grab one limb, Block
Go I keep                           Grapple Throw 1/2       3        0       +2    Str+2d6 Strike, Target Falls
Easy to break                    Joint Break      1/2         5        -1       -2   Grab one limb, 1/2d6 HKA,                                                                                                                   Disable
Legs too weak                   Leg Sweep        1/2        3        +2      -1    Str+1d6, Target Falls
Like Water                         Martial Escape 1/2       4        0         0     Str+15 vs Grabs
Water becomes Ice          Reversal          VAR       4       -1          -2   Str+15 Escape, Grab two                                                                                                                        limbs
No tools                             Weapon Bind  1/2         4       +1        0     Bind Str+10

Now then one of the other things that Champions does really well is the more mystical and high power Martial Arts stuff that comes from legends, or movies or comics that you may not ever get to see in the real world. And that is the power of Chi/Ki/Qi.

In the comics this is frequently shown as special powers that can enhance a martial artist physically, boost their skills and damage, allow them to perform attacks and moves that a normal human could not do and so on.

One of my favorite methods for doing this is to basically make a power block of some kind. Multipower slots work great. Especially if they come with an Endurance Reserve. Without going into charts I think the best way to talk about this is using Iron Fist from Marvel. I could go into it deeper using the Oriental Heroes characters but this will work too.

So Iron Fist has Dragon Chi on top of his martial arts skills. The Dragon Chi gives him powers, but it has a limit to the amount of power he can put out before he is exhausted. The Endurance Reserve represents the limits on the amount of power he can channel into his maneuvers. The Multipower represents the ways he can channel that power. Like making himself faster, hit harder, play mind games, or even use his signature Iron Fist. So even without tapping into the Iron Fist chi, the character is still a Martial Artist. Still dangerous and still powerful no doubt. But this gives you a method of modeling the character just like you like them.

Octopus Style as listed above does not have a specific Chi style to use with it. But if I was going to enhance it with one I would be tempted to actually make it some kind of elemental Chi. Like Water Chi, or maybe even Lightning to set up themed powers for healing and or speed and extra damage to power moves a bit more.

You can also add weapons elements into the martial art so that your style can use a weapon with certain moves. So say some of your strikes you can use with a sword. You designate the weapon, and the moves it can be used with.

So with Octopus style you can use a rope/chain with any move that has Grab in the effect. But I put into the description that master practitioners look at that as a sign of weakness.

The last thing I wanted to mention about this method of setting up martial arts in a comic book RPG is that it allows all kinds of characters to have martial arts skills. I mean heck I don’t know if it is still cannon, but at one time even Superman was supposedly a master of two Kryptonian Martial Arts… and some game engines just wont cope with a character that has all the power of a Kryptonian, AND Martial Arts.

I hope you get the idea that the versatility and the combinations you can come up with in this system for both a martial arts framework, and adding powers to it, be they Chi or something else, allows you to make the fighter you want. The artist you want. The energist you want. And it gives you the descriptive latitude to have fun with it.

Well I hope you all enjoyed the look at martial arts in Champions.

Play nice out there. Stay safe and remember to never take any reviewers word for anything, get out there and decide for yourself what you like.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many moves I can roll for if I give an squid (10 limbs) octopus style.


Tales from the game table – Its a TRAP!

dm disaster mw kaluta

  • This is a strange one… It happened back in the early 1990s. I was one of the players… … …

So three adventurers walk into an inn.

Its empty.

Town outside is bustling. But there is no one in the inn at all. Everything looks good on the upkeep in the place.

Fighter decides to check out back.

Wizard wants to help himself to whatever is in the bar.

Cleric/Thief wants to leave.

  • Anyone have any idea who, if any of the party survived?

Fighter notes that in the kitchen there is no actual food. All the gear is there. But no actual food. Oh and due to some luck she notes that the back door is made out of a guillotine.

Wizard notes that every bottle is empty. There are a few dozen. There are also three kegs. Not a drop of booze in the house.

Cleric/Thief is impressed by the fact that the front door and main window are no longer there. And nobody noted them disappearing.

  • At this point the DM gave us a couple of minutes to chat and try and come up with a plan.

Everyone notes once they are back together that the main room now seems smaller. The stairs are gone and there is no door into the back.

  • Honestly had no idea what we were dealing with at that moment.

Wizard casts something to break illusions. Nothing changes.

Cleric/Thief casts Detect Trap and the whole building lights up in his eyes.

Fighter takes her ax and tries to smash into the back room only to hear part of the wall scream.

  • Do you have it yet?
  • Was it ghosts? Powerful illusions? Divine intervention?

Party finally escapes when Wizard casts Lightning Bolt and hits many points at once creating a tear that gets the party outside.

Building collapses in a blob and the town cheers. They had been watching after the party went in.

  • The entire building was made up of 554 Mimics. All working together to create an inn that could draw in bunches of people at the same time.
  • Never before imagined Mimics working together in that fashion.
  • Never want to again.

Stay safe out there everyone. And remember from my example here that our ongoing lockdown for the Corona Virus could be worse. You could be stuck in a building made of Mimics.

Now gimme the dice… I need to see how many ounces this feeding of a tiny human will take.


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Temp leave of absence

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Hey there readers

Sorry there was no post on Sunday.

See my wife and I just became foster parents and there is a lot to do. And a lot less sleep. So posts are going to become irregular and likely shorter.

For a while.

So please bare with me, and the blog for a while. And know that things are cool and not messed up.

Now gimme the dice… I need to see how many classes can stack on a tiny new life form.

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Down for Repairs

temp out

Hey there readers. I fell behind in my prep work for the review I wanted to post this week. Sorry to say that with other things on the to do list today I will not be able to get the post out.

Hope everyone is having fun out there gaming and I will be back next week with a new game review.


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Grimtooth’s Traps – A classic series that still stands strong



Morning readers

Today’s article is not really a review but more of a reverent look at a classic series of books that should really be in just about everyone’s gaming library. I am sure that there are a ton of gamers who have never heard of these books, but that has never stopped me from bringing up something in the past… 😉

The Grimtooth’s series of books were originally published by Flying Buffalo Inc. as part of their Catalyst series of game supplements. Since first being published in 1981 the Grimtooth’s series of books has seen two other publishers add books to the series, and has seen numerous other companies produce similar works. I mean if you go over to Drive Thru RPG and type in Traps in their search function you come up with over two thousand documents/games/supplements.

The majority of the books that Grimtooth’s inspired however would not have the uniqueness that the series brought to the table. The first element that was, and remains unique, is that the books are not geared to any one game engine. Well ok at least the ones published by FBI (… yeah I think Flying Buffalo did that on purpose too). I know that “The Wurst…” published by Necromancer Games converted many previously published traps into d20/3rd edition D&D specific traps. But I dont think that should lessen the appreciation for the nature of the original books. Originally the traps were rated in how lethal they were by using a system of one to five skulls. And it was up to the GM to determine just what that meant. How hard it is to find, disarm, how much damage it does. All these things needed to be figured out on the fly or in advance any time you wanted to use one. Personally I think this is a great idea. There is no reason or requirement to keep all of the traps the same that way. I mean in a book that publishes a list of traps for a specific game engine then there is a tendency to just let it fly. Using 3rd edition D&D as a reference point, if a trap is listed as being a DC of 25 to disarm and doing 8d6 damage, then the easy thing to do is just let that trap be exactly the same whenever you use it. Where as if your GM has it in mind that five skulls for a bunch of first level adventurers means something different that five skulls for a bunch of level fifteen adventurers then that could mean that even if you, as an adventurer, have run into the same trap before and you recognize the layout, well… this trap maker may have been better than the last one. There is no impetus to use the exact same level of challenge over and over again.

The second thing that was unique was the art for the traps. Ok so it was not fully unique but, when they published the books the art for the traps was… active… I think that is a good way to describe it. Here take a look at this…

grimtooths superchargercrawlway

So in this image you can clearly see that the rollers in the trap are throwing the person who tried crawling through the tunnel into a wall of spikes. Until some other books came out after 2000 I did not see anything like this anywhere else. The comparison image I am going to give you here is from a more recent book, but this is sort of what I expected other than in Grimtooth’s…

Its a trap

I mean seriously, ok so I can see the layout, and I know where that wind is… but honestly I would rather see something like this…

grimtooths fishing

And incidentally this is a great trap to use on people who are into the fishing mini games in console and computer RPGs.

And to be honest with the number of traps in this series of books there are soooo many options.

  • Grimtooth’s Traps – 101 traps of various challenge.
  • Grimtooth’s Traps Too – Another 101 traps of various challenge.
  • Grimtooth’s Traps Fore – Another 101 traps of various challenge.
  • Grimtooth’s Traps Ate – Another 101 traps of various challenge.
  • Grimtooth’s Traps Lite – Another 101 traps of various challenge, but this time non-lethal
  • Grimtooth’s Traps Bazarr – 101 items and objects that are traps
  • Grimtooth’s Dungeon of Doom – Basically it is a series of traps made into a dungeon

I mean seriously, if you cant find a way to put together a trap for your adventure in all of that, you likely should not be using traps in your adventures.

I honestly feel like these books could be put to use by anyone setting up adventures, writing stories with traps, or who want to have an inventor or thief character who has enough lore and engineering skills to have moments like, “Ahhh this is like Edmonds Inestimable Fishing Lure. Yeah I need twenty feet of silk rope, two iron spikes, and that guards left eye…” (bonus points to anyone who gets the Guardians of the Galaxy joke).

I wanted to avoid doing a review/review on this one because I am seriously biased. I love these books and I dont think I could do an impartial(ish) analysis for others.

As usual though, take a look, think for yourselves, and have fun gaming.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many traps I can fit into a 10×10 square….




Closed for the holidays

Hello all

No plans to do any posts until after the first of the year 2020.

Taking holidays as down time and will be back with more soon.


Keep gaming over the holidays if you can, and always have fun but have it safe.

Now gimme the dice, I gotta role up a new year.

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