The latest pulp adventure from Black Campbell Entertainment is out and marks our first in the second wave of adventures for 1930s pulp games.

Mexico, 1938: The discovery of a mythical tecuanes, a were-jaguar, on the grounds of a henequen plantation in the Yucatan leads a group of adventerers and scientists into the hazardous cave complexes under the jungle in search of its origins.

Secret of the Jaguar Temple is out for the Ubiquity Role Playing System (the system powering Hollow Earth Expedition) and Fate is now available on DriveThruRPG with cover art, once more, by the excellent Bill Forster.

Jaguar blurb

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So, I’m way behind on game play recaps, as I am trying to get two books out the door, do teacher certification, and run herd on a seven year old in a age where you can’t just let them go out and play without getting arrested.

I hate summer: Too much to do and no time to do it.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some more stuff up for the Britain campaign, as well as more on the upcoming Airships of the Pulp Era. There’s also a big website redo planned.

Did I mention I hate summer?

We have a Zazzle store open with Sky Rats swag: tees and truly gigantic coffee mugs that can hold enough joe for any flyboy.

Hit up the store!

Sky Pirates of the Mediterannean is off to its editor, and the cover art has been contracted. Interior art is unway, and I think we’re on track to deliver a 130ish page guide to sky pirates in the 1920s and ‘30s. This one will be print on demand, as well as PDF, and done for both Ubiquity and Fate.

Hopefully, we should have our small Airships of the Pulp Era ready to go sometime in July. This one will be for Ubiquity only. It’s about half way completed already. This book will cover the real and pulp histories and uses of airships, with write ups for over a dozen vessels.

Not really gaming related, but a damned good life motto, you cam find our new tee shirt and mug designs on Zazzle.

When in doubt, turn up the wick!

We had a week off as half the group was off on travel, but this week we picked up right where we left off. (Recap here.) The characters aided the village of Dal Owyn with their medical skills and Myrddin with outright magic to heal one of the villagers Fianna had shot through the leg with an arrow. While they were about this, Faolin (in wolf form) had slipped away to change back to human and get dressed. As they were finishing helping the villagers and trying to explain what had happened to them, Aiden’s father and the clan leader, Brann, arrived with Aiden’s cousin…Aiden, who had been killed in a case of mistaken identity by the pair of assassins hunting for him.

This led to a confrontation between Brann and his brother Gwynn, father of the dead boy. What had his son done to bring professional assassins, magic-users, upon them!?! The prefect, Ardanus Britannicus intended to find out. With the aid of Fianna and Faolin, they woke the assassin they had critically injured and questioned him. “The boy — he doesn’t even know who he is, does he?” the man asked. He’s being hunted because o who his father is. But Aiden understood his father to be a simple Roman soldier. It’s who he is now that matters, and that is why Tribune Gallicius — a member of the court of the “King of Britain”, the comte britannicus, Magnus Maximus. Why would an adviser of the most powerful man in Britain be looking to kill as 15 year old boy? Because his father is Quintus Marcellus Quadius Corinthanus Augustus: the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire!

They speculated on why they might be worried about the boy. Since the battle between demons and angels at the River Styx (the denouement of our first D&D game), and the release of the ancient gods and creatures into the world, Marcellus had been appointed the eastern emperor at the death of Valens by his friend Gratian, the western emperor. Marcellus successfully turned the Gothic invasion with the aid of the Olympians that had returned. This secured his position in Constantinople, but it also caused the Eastern Empire to begin sliding back to paganism. Here in the Western Empire, Nicaean Christianity was still the official religion — one to which Magnus Maximus and his uncle, the famed general (and in the real world the man who would have been the Eastern Emperor), Theodosius ascribe.

Aiden’s parents affirmed that he and his mother were sent into hiding because Marcellus could not protect them in Britain, and could not safely transport them to Constantinople. They kept the secret from him, and the tribe, to keep them all safe. This revelation nearly led to a fight between Brann and Gwynn, but this was mitigated by some enchantment on Myrddin’s part.

After a burial and wake that evening, the party traveled to Corinium, Aiden going against his parents’ wishes. People are hunting him; they thought it too dangerous. Myrddin has taken an interest in the boy, whom he suspects has a destiny. The siblings Fianna and Faolin wanted to shop for clothes and other things, now that they have money for the first time. The prefect wanted to check in with his tribune in town and get a lay of the land.

There was some character interaction bits, but Prefect Britannicus learned quickly from the tribune that things are happening in Britain and the empire. The soldiers are calling for a vote about Gratian, whom they see as having abandoned the faith, and to select Magnus Maximus as the new emperor. He is aware of the murder, that they captured one of the miscreants, and that the boy they were hunting is still alive. He orders Britannicus to bring the boy to him, but the prefect is suspicious of the motives. This moment played into several of his flaws — his contrarian nature, his sense of honesty, and his duty as a Roman officer. Torn by what to do, he agreed, but the tribune thinks he is playing for time.

The conversation was overheard by Myrddin, who was using a crow to spy on the meeting. As soon as Britannicus left the room, the tribune ordered the escaped assassin, a cambion (half demon) to hunt the boy down. With this knowledge, he found the rest of the party right after Britannicus had, but Aiden noticed there were Roman troops watching them. Something is afoot? Reacting to the perceived danger, Fianna drew her bow on Britannicus; did he mean them harm? The action, however, spurred the legionnaires into action and we ended the night with the party surrounded by trained Roman soldiers, Fianna holding another character (the prefect) at arrow point, and Myrddin spotting the cambion lurking above them on the rooftops.

Originally, I wanted to do a slower burn on this campaign, but the pacing so far feels better. The gang is thrown together, a mystery leads to a conspiracy of imperial scale, and they are suddenly on the outs with the legitimate authority. Now, maybe I should have a plan for where we’re going…

So, we got the second volume of our late antiquity campaign going. The intro was riffing off of the introduction from the first volume. Where the characters in the first game had been waking up to a still snowy winter day on the Germanic border line, this one started with a foggy, drizzly spring morning in the woods and rolling hills of the Cotswolds. The characters were dropped in media res, hunting a party of sheep reavers who had stolen a sizable flock from a local landowner. The party was lead by Sigmon Hallig, a disgraced Saxon ship captain turned bounty hunter and tough for hire, and a group of Celts out of Dal Owyn, including Aiden mac Quint, the unwitting son of the emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, and who was regretting having loaned his fine cloak to his cousin, Aiden mac Gwynn, for a romantic tryst. While tracking the sheep thieves, they stumble onto a brother-sister pair who are on the run from the destruction of their tribe and village over the mountains in Wales (this is the huntress Fianna and her brother the werewolf Faolan) who glom onto the party, having seen the large party of sheep reavers the night before.

They found the men, a group from the nearby O’Dwyn tribe, and set on them stealthily, but a botched test on Aiden’s part alerted the thieves and the fight was on. (This was our first chance to see how the combat rules for the game system we’re developing works.) Straight off a couple of the O’Dwyns let fly with arrows from their bows, but either missed or did negligible damage. Fianna returned fire with the shortbow and get a spectacular hit, almost taking the reaver’s leader down to zero hit points. Sigmon made short work of one man with his axe.

Another O’Dwyn hurled a 12 lb kettleball at Fianna, scoring a hit dead center and dropping her like a stone. Aiden missed a return shot on the man, but Fianna having barely passed her stun test, managed to return fire and drop the guy before deciding to take a turn to gather her strength. Angered by his sister’s injury, Faolan scooped up the kettleball and got a great roll, smashing another guy’s head.  (The player liked the result so much, he started carrying the kettleball.)

With four of twelve guys down, they were able to convince the rest of the reavers to surrender. They spent some time collecting the sheep — Faolan proved uncannily good at this — and took the lot back to the local Roman outpost on the Fosse Way which runs from Corinium north to the border with Caledonia. There they met the local prefect, Arden mac Wynn, and the local representatives of the landowner. The prefect had some issues: theft isn’t a “direct affront to the empire” so it’s usually a matter of making the miscreants pony up twice the value of the stolen goods (quite a bit in this instance.) The O’Dwyn’s can’t pay, so he sentences them to debt slavery under the landowner. As for the bounty hunters, collecting one’s property with violence is an accepted thing locally, but is a gray area for Roman law. He decides to let the matter slide, rather than stir up trouble with the tribes.

The characters are suddenly flush with reward money and the siblings decide to travel to Coriniun to buy clothes and other necessities. (They were wearing scraps, and stole clothes from the people they’d killed.) At the small inn that serves the outpost, the characters met Myrddin Cam, the alias for Myrddin Wyltt (or Merlin.) There was some character building moments, and we ended the first night there.

The second session saw the group walking down Fosse Way toward Corinium and Dal Owyn, a hilltop village about halfway. The prefect had remained at his post until a runner brought two messages — the tribune in Corinium is recalling him for a meeting, and there’s a body next to the road under the Colm Bridge, tied to a tree. Murder is definitely under his authority and he heads down with his cohort of soldiers and his fir bolg slave, Fennis, to investigate. The group arrives about the same time at the bridge, where they find a young man beheaded, and obviously having been tortured. They can identify the body from the cloak: it’s the “other” Aiden, his cousin!

They investigate the scene, determine there were at least two assailants that left, heading south but using the forest as cover instead of the road. Both look to be decent sized men, judging from their footprints, but one is light, barely making an impression on the ground, and his foot prints disappear for yards at a time. Myrddin, meanwhile, got a chance to test-drive the magic rules, using divination to try and see into the past and discover what happened. He sees the attack by two men, both fairly large, and one who is strangely blurry; the assassin is able to block the Sight! They’re dealing with some kind of magic user!

With Sigmon urging them on to take revenge and the prefect coming along as the legal authority, they track the two to Dal Owyn — Aiden and his tribesmen’s home! The town is strangely still behind its wooden palisade, but as they approach, the townspeople — men, women, and children — pour forth to attack them! They seem not to recognize Aiden, and they aren’t responding to his cries. Trying not to severely injure anyone at the prefect’s order, Fianna and Aiden exchanged arrows with the one of the assassins, while Myrrdin entered the town from a different gate on the prefect’s horse to find the second assailant — a winged, dark-skinned man, a cambion, like himself.

Sigmon, Faolan (who changed into wolf form unnoticed), Aiden, and the prefect did their best to take out the townspeople without hurting them badly. This led to one of the funnier moments when Sigmon picked up the prefect, who was using his shield to batter people, and used him as a battering ram to drop a half dozen people. The spell over them was finlly broken when Myrddin and the cambion started throwing down on each other, the cambion conjuring fire bolts, and Myrddin enchanting the birds to attack the guy, while also causing a wind storm to distract him. He did learn that the assassins were after the boy, Aiden, because of who his father was; they had been mistakenly directed at his cousin.

The magic is proving powerful because it isn’t limited to spell books, simply what they describe wanting to do, but the damage levels are relatively low. Despite that, the cambion almost managed to put Aiden and the prefect down with a blast, but for the use of plot points to clear damage. A few arrows injured the cambion badly enough that he flew off and abandoned his injured companion.

We ended there, with a captive in custody and a confused town of people. Who is after Aiden, and why? Who is his father? He was told he was a simple Roman soldier (which was true at the time.)

So far, the campaign seems off to the strong start, with an oddball group of characters who will steadily have to come together to ward off their enemies right as the Romans are about to pull out of Britain.