Cawnpore and Perseus are available in the Createspace eStore and on where, if you order a physical copy of the books, you get the ebook for free. They are also available as ebooks on every ereader out there.

I thought I’d take a shot at writing up a few characters from various Hollow Earth Expedition campaigns in the new Atomic Robo RPG by Evil Hat:


This character started as a joke and powered a cool half dozen or so adventures. I have his stats for HEX somewhere around here, but couldn’t find them quickly, so you’ll have to take my word the character design came out pretty close to that of the original. The character was a WWI flying ace who gets turned into a gorilla by accident while fighting Nazi scientists in Africa.

Concept Aspect: Human Trapped in a Gorilla Body

Good Mode +3 (Gorilla) — Aspect: Created by Nazi Science; Provoke +5, Athletics +4, Physique +4, Notice +4, Tooth and Claw +3

Fair Mode +2 (Action) — Aspect: WWI Flying Ace; Vehicles +4, Combat +3

Average Mode +1 (Banter) — Aspect: If they like you, you’re not a freak… ; Will +3

Omega Aspect: Might as well enjoy it…

Stunts: Barnstorming: +2 to create an advantage w/ vehicles when flying; No Time to Bleed: use will to defend against physical damage when a consequence is involved; Look Out Below!: +2 to overcome w/ athletics when swinging or jumping; Terrible Growl: Use Provoke for defending vs. fear attacks; Vincetti Sportster #1: +2 to vehicles when flying his VS#1

Physical Stress: 5   Mental Stress: 5


One of the more popular characters of our last Hollow Earth campaign was Jack MacMahon — a son of wealthy New York Democrat Party operatives, Columbia trained lawyer who couldn’t pass the bar, and showy womanizer. He evolved into the super gun bunny rich boy who wasn’t stupid, but had the sense of…well, a really stupid person. Again, a very close match to the HEX character.

Jack MacMahon

Concept Aspect: Handsome, but Thick Man of Action

Good Mode +3 (Action) — Aspect: Not in the Face!; Athletics +4, Notice +4, Provoke +4, Combat +3, Physique +3, Vehicles +3

Fair Mode +2 (Banter) — Aspect: Winning Style & Boatloads of Style!; Contacts +3, Deceive +3, Empathy, Rapport, and Will +2

Average Mode +1 (Intrigue) — Aspect: Sucker for a Dame ; Burglary +1, Stealth +1

Omega Aspect: Trust Fund Baby

Stunts: Friends in High Places — +2 to rapport in high society functions; Betty and Carla, his S&W Registered .357 Magnum (#RM11) and his Winchester 1897 .357 magnum (#002): Weapon 2; Stupid Is What I Do — +2 to overcome with athletics when difficulty is Good or higher. Two left to set.

Physical Stress: 4   Mental Stress: 4


And the “lead” for our current HEX campaign:

Thomas Drake

Concept Aspect: Disreputable Archeologist

Good Mode +3 (Science) — Aspect: Little More Than a Tomb Raider, but… ; Archeology +5, History +5, Notice +5, Geology +4, Will +3

Fair Mode +2 (Intrigue) — Aspect: It’s a Cut-throat Business…; Athletics +3

Average Mode +1 (Action) — Aspect: Good Man in a Pinch; All at +1

Omega Aspect: Fortune & Glory!

Stunts: Not If I See You First — Use notice for stealth when target has not seen you; Best in a Dirty Business; Hoopcycle — +2 vehicle tests when using the hoopcycle; 2 left to set

Physical Stress: 3   Mental Stress: 4

The exchange between Runesligner and myself on the spectrum of play was interesting and informative, and has been getting consistently good page views. Thinking on it, there have been a lot of good comments from other readers that most likely don’t get viewed by the casual reader, so here is my casual, but official, call for folks to submit response pieces to The Black Campbell. If you’re on WordPress, it’s as simple as asking me to reblog a post on your site, but for folks on other blog platforms, or who want to toss out a 500-1500 word opinion piece on the subject of gaming — from reviews, to gamemaster and player tips, to general theory on the hobby — contact me in comments here and I’ll will gladly host a guest post.

No, I won’t pay you, and my only request is I have the right to “publish” the piece for the life of the blog. (That’s because I’m too lazy to go through and delete them…)


Here’s a good response to my “It’s Not the Game That Sucks, You’re Playing It Wrong” post…

Originally posted on Casting Shadows:

For a few years, my game group and I switched games and usually systems every month. Every once in a while, the other GM in the group would switch systems out from under a setting to try a new way of running a game we’d already played for his month of sessions. Generally, though, each new month (give or take a few lengthy runs) brought us a new game to learn. Exposing myself to new games was not new to me. This was something I had been doing since my first year of university. It was, however, the phase of fastest acquisition and implementation, through which I have passed before or since.

It was a lot of fun at first; it truly was. I learned a lot of games. I learned a lot about games. I learned about learning games, and I learned about how other people learn games. In…

View original 1,819 more words

For the last decade, I’ve had a selection of rifles — mostly AR-style carbines from various manufacturers in gas port and gas piston, but I never meshed with the ergonomics of the weapon. i was much more fond of the FN PS90 in 5.7mm — sure, it didn’t have the power of the AR-15, but for most urban engagements or home defense SHTF situations, a pistol cartridge carbine has a few definite advantages: 1) they’re lighter, 2) ammo is interchangeable with handguns, 3) they’re easier to control and shoot. The downsides are obvious: 1) lower power, 2) shorter effective range.

The PS90 served the house for a decade with the FiveSeven as my carry gun, but over the last two years or so, I realized i wasn’t carrying the FN, despite the lighter weight; my 1911 was more concealable. Also, I hadn’t shot the PS90 in almost three years. Time to make some room in the gun cabinet. I decided I wanted a 9mm or .45 for cost efficiency (and because it’s near impossible to get a 10mm carbine.)

There were only a few options — an AR in 9mm, but i don’t like the ergonomics and if you’re going to buy an AR, buy a rifle cartridge; there was the Hi-Point, which had some real boosters online, but looked like crap; and the Beretta CX4. The Storm is a sexy looking thing that uses M9/92 model magazines, and those are plentiful. All the reviews touted the reliability and the accuracy. I borrowed one from the local range and put a few boxes through it.


The bad first: The trigger’s a bit heavy, but better than the PS90. The iron sights are spot on but horrible for quick use. The gun needs a decent reflex sight or a simple red dot. I dropped one on and I can still see the iron sights through the glass, just in case. Some might not like the safety — it’s a cross bolt and hard to operate unless you’re used to a shotgun; then you’ll be fine. The magazine well is a bit clumsy for seating the standard 15 round M9 magazines, but I suspect the extended 30 round ones should go in much easier. It’s a little pricey at $700 when a el-cheapo AR is running $850.

The good: Accuracy is great out to the 30 yards I tried it at. My suspicion is it should be spot on out to 100-150 yards. Reach to the trigger is about the same as the PS90. Recoil is very manageable and the rubber cheek pad and buttpad is very comfortable. There’s a Piccatinny rail on the top for optics, a light screw-on rail for the side near the front for a light, and there’s a very small nub of a rail under the barrel that after cleaning the Storm, I noticed connected to a long bit of plastic in the upper. Pushing in the front sling post allows you to slide a long, useable rail out under the barrel.

The great: It looks amazing and futuristic. You can swap the ejection port and charging handle with ease from right to left hand. The takedown is as easy as the PS90 — knockout a wee pin from either side of the foregrip, pull the stock out, pull the bolt out. Done.

New CX4 with a crappy BSA red dot scope.

New CX4 with a crappy BSA red dot scope.

So is it worth it? Yes.

UPDATE: I took the Storm out this morning and dropped 200 rounds through it. The old BSA RDA30 scope shook itself apart about halfway through the shoot and had to be junked in favor of a new BSA reflex sight. The rifle had no malfunctions, shot true to it’s iron sights and my original red dot, and once I got the new one sighted in, here were no issues. It is, however, a dirty gun — 200 rounds had me with soot all over my fingers and I could feel the oil from the ammunition on my face.

One thing I noted in the Battlestar Galactica campaign we’ve been running is that the system doesn’t quite allow for the toaster splashing antics of Starbuck and Apollo, nor are the toasters as deadly as they could be. One reason for that is the Cortex Classic mechanic for damage in a fight. As mentioned in the Discussions on Damage post from today, the idea for these possible house rules catalyzed out of a Facebook group post that caught my attention. So without further ado:

Suggestion 1: Tying the damage die to success. You need a 7 to hit the target and get a 12. That’s 5 points basic damage plus the d8W for your rifle (or viper.) At this point, anything under 5…is a 5. That means when you roll the d8W, you get between 5 and 8 as a result, so a 3 stun and 7-10 wound. This makes you a ton more effective against the toasters…and vice versa.

Suggestion 2: A static damage number that is tagged to the basic damage. As per the last example — you’ve done 3 stun and 2 wound basic damage. Now your rifle does 8 wound. This seems a lot more dangerous, and isn’t the one I would recommend.

Suggestion 3: This is one I suggest separate from the above ideas, and is one I use in my Cortex games: characters always roll an Endurance (Vitality+Willpower) versus damage taken. If they succeed, no penalty is rendered; if they fail, they are stunned for the number of rounds they missed by. This can be bought out with a plot point, or if they have Cool under Fire or some such asset. If they are hit with an extraordinary success and the character misses the roll, they suffer the effects as per the normal rules (pg 94 in the Cortex core book.)

Suggestion 4: This has also been one I’ve used in our campaigns — an extraordinary success on an injury leads to some kind of lasting effect — a broken arm, or the like — that gives the character a temporary Chronic Injury complication equal to the wound, round down. So say you take 9 wound and 3 stun, but live…you have a d8 Chronic Injury, Broken Whatever that takes that many weeks of game time to heal.

As usual, feel free to completely ignore any or all of this.

One nice thing about roleplaying is that it is social, it’s a discussion — between GM and players, between the characters, between players in different groups across the interwebz. One discussion that caught my attention was on the subject of damage or injury in a game. The question asked was static or random damage…but is that all the choices you have?

Most Fate variants have the ability to soak injury into complications like “Broken Arm” or some such mechanic that works against the character, but doesn’t take them out of the game. James Bond RPG had an excellent rules set where the quality of the attack dictated how much damage was done based off the Damage Class from A-L (character’s could usually delivery A-C damage in hand to hand; a pistol between E and G), so you might take a Light Wound on an acceptable or good hit, a medium on a very good, or a heavy on a excellent result. Cortex has a similar quality based damage system where basic damage is done by the amount of success on the attack roll. Say you have to hit on a seven, and you roll a 12; that’s 3 stun and 2 wound…but then you add the randomized damage of a dx wound or stun for the weapon. That 5 total damage was pretty good, but Oops! you rolled a one on the damage roll. Kinda sucks, huh? There’s a rule that extraordinary successes do full damage of the weapon (pg 94, Cortex core book) where the target suffers a steady d2 bleed out until they get aid, but does that accurately (or even cinematically/dramatically) represent a great shot?

One way around this is a “mook rule”, if you will. PCs that get extraordinary success or a critical hit, dispatch whatever no name henchman or monster they are dealing with. Only the lead villains or major henchmen get the benefit of damage roll. (Or to quote Nigel Power in Goldmember, “You haven’t even got a nametag! What chance have you got? Why don’t you just…lie down?”)

Another could be to take the weapon and add it to the roll for the attack. Does your sword do a d6 damage, add that to the d20 (if this were D&D, say) and whatever you beat the AC by, that’s your damage.

Another might be to use a variant of the Cortex rules — damage is based on how well you rolled over (or under, depending on the system) the target number with a set damage rating for the weapon. The downside to this is combat gets a lot deadlier for the PCs. Another option is you can’t roll below the amount you succeeded by. So if you beat a target of eight by four — you do four points before the d6 for your weapon.  Anything under 5 is four, so a total of eight or higher. There’s still some chance, but the results take quality of action into effect more.

These are just a few suggestions, but it does break us out of the flatness of a random or static only damage mechanic for a game.

It appears that Margaret Weis Productions is looking to re-release Marvel Heroic Roleplaying without the Marvel. I suspect this will be the same, or mostly the same, rules set stripped of the licensed material. This could be a nice boon to the superhero RPG fans, as the rules set was great at recreating the flavor of comic books.


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