Ode to My Friendly Local Game Store

Last Thursday due to the increasing numbers of cases of the COVID-19 virus in the United States, the state of Pennsylvania placed further restrictions on shops and eating establishments, placing the maximum number of occupants at 25% normal capacity until further notice. The new guidelines made if no longer feasible to operate a local cafe and game shop I like to frequent called The Game Chateau, so owners Chris and Elle made the hard decision to permanently close the store. I’m heartbroken.

The Game Chateau was a unique place, an all inclusive establishment that offered good food, fun games, and a safe place to be yourself. It was their Saturday Night 2nd Edition AD&D games presided by my friend Bernie Kovacs that got me back into playing after a long hiatus. I’ll miss the long conversations, the holiday parties, and most of all the love. Chris, Elle didn’t treat you like customers, they treated you like family. A big happy family exploring fantastic realms over coffee and cheese covered tater tots.

I just wanted to recognize Chris, Elle, and their partners Katy and Ian for all the good things they have done and will continue to do for the community they created four years ago. I wish everyone good fortune in all of your future adventures. Thank you for rekindling my interest in gaming, thank you for creating the Game Chateau, and most of all thank you for being my friend.

Postcards from Ragora, Episode ???+1 – The Lollipop War

A brief retelling of our game session played on July 3rd, 2020. As with any ongoing saga, it starts in the middle.

The Bore Leviathans of Ragora, enormous worms the size of mountains marching across the black mold meadows between the great mushroom forests of Fungora and Toxia. Mysterious creatures that consume the brains of a dying god and excrete objects from alternate realities. The treasures they defecate is what drives the entire economy of the Skull, wars have been waged over the salvage rights of the “tihs mrow”. The Devlin, the race of she-devils native to Ragora, protect the Bore Leviathans fiercely to keep their culture prosperous.

Excitement was growing among the Rednaltuo tribes, Devlin nomads who wander the wastes of Ragora scrounging for salvage. Eno-Taf, the largest of the bore leviathans, was suffering from a bowel obstruction. It was going to pass something…big. Our intrepid players, recently exiled from “civilization” and on a run of bad luck, made a pact with Stefatos, Chieftess of the Lamek tribe: supplies and shelter for military service. Stefatos was certain with help from master assassin Robbin “The Red Handed” Corner and her Band of the Red Hand, Eno-Taf’s treasures would be hers. So the tribe saddled up their camels and rode off to Eno-Taf, roughly twenty hours travel (it’s impossible to tell time in Ragora, there is no sun inside a god’s skull).

As always, nothing went as planned. The convoy encountered Quilla the Crone, a giant cannibal hag with three foot quills for hair, collecting and devour soul larvas (maggot-like worms two to four feet long with a mortal’s head). The group lost time going around Quilla, so a rival tribe beat the Lamek to Eno-Taf. There was going to be a fight, with the winner getting squatting rights.

The rival tribe was the Ekib, a powerful tribe armed with powder-crackers (muskets) and methane fueled dirt bikes (meth-bikes). The Lamek had camels and lances and were sorely at a disadvantage. However, the Lamek did have Robbin and the Band of the Red Hand. So Robbin and her friends skulked their way to the rear of the Ekib camp and amushed the nomads. Stefatos and her lancers soon charged, and a bloody battle ensued. Eno-Taf became agitated and rolled into the battle, causing casualties on both sides. Eventually Robbin and company prevailed, and the Lamek were victorious.

Soon after the battle concluded, Eno-Taf passed it’s obstruction. It lifted it’s great tail into the air and released a immense cloud of glowing blood…and lollipops. Five million lollipops, twenty tons in total. Drifts of glowing, bloody lollipops throughout the black meadows. In a universe filled with orally fixated she-devils, twenty tons of lollipops is better than gold. As word of this historical discovery travels through Ragora, the Players troubles as just beginning.

Tippy the Time Wizard also sold his soul to the Devil and Robbin lost her demonic identity, but I’ll save that story for the next time.

Postcards from Ragora

The big finale from Caverns of the Cannibal Crone. Art by Krim Glue

On July 3rd, my friends and I are continuing our Postcards from Ragora campaign after a three month hiatus. We have been playing this campaign intermittently at my favorite gaming cafe The Game Chateau located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for about three years now. It will good to be in the company of good friends again.

Ragora! The weird, foul little place that started from a total party kill in Jobe Bittman’s sinister adventure The One Who Watches from Below. All my friends wanted to keep their characters, so I reincarnated them: into half-demons. I pitted these newborn cambions against a giant, four-armed cannibal crone. That adventure was what turned into my submission for the 2019 Gongfarmer’s Almanac. Working on Caverns of the Cannibal Crone with Clayton Williams and company was an excellent experience. I had zero experience in the whole writing and publishing process, Clayton was extremely patient and kind. If anyone has any desire to write adventures and have them published, I would start with the Gongfarmer’s Almanac.

Since fighting the Cannibal Crone, Ragora has continued to get…weirder. The entire setting is inside a dying god’s skull. It’s ruled by the Demon King of Rock and Roll who commands a nation of devil girls obsessed with roller skating and an affinity for Eighties cable television. Robots, crashed spaceships, elephant sized man-eating amoebas, a purple gigantopithecus and whale sized worms that excrete Cadillacs are just a few of the things a person can run into in Ragora. I’m pretty sure my friends are masochists, because they keep coming back to play no matter how weird things get.

The original map of Ragora. Things have gotten more complicated since then.

For me, Ragora is the big project. I’ve been trying to decide how I want to present this strange, gory setting to the world. A big world book, a zine, little modules here and there? No idea, and quite frankly it seems a little overwhelming. So for now, I’ll blog about it. If you’re lucky, maybe you will see some of the stories about Ragora from my friend Marcie Herman Riebe, a accomplished writer and award winning actor in Scranton theatre. We shall see, I’ll let you know how Friday’s game goes.

DCC Days Online!

Partial Map of the adventure I ran for DCC Days Online

June 14th 2020 was officially my online debut as a game judge, and the first time I ever ran a game for a convention. DCC Days Online was four days of Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Crawl Classics, XCrawl, Metamorphosis Alpha, and other great games. DCC Days Online ran in conjunction with DCC Day which happened on June 13th, where tabletop events were played in Friendly Neighbors Games Stores around the world. Since the state I live in is still under lock down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, destiny sent me into the phlogiston!

I’m very glad to have participated. My first online game was as a player in the Shudder Mountain sandbox, presided by Goodman Games writer Michael Curtis himself. I won’t give any spoilers as the adventure we played was never published, but it was a real treat. Michael is a master game judge and the players were on point.

Second was a seminar on publishing third-party material for Goodman Games. A lot of game designers, third party publishers, and industry talent giving lots of great advice on getting your creations out into the public. If I kept better notes like somebody told me to do, I would have everyone’s names. Alas, I kept crap notes. It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to Goodman Games hosting similar events.

Countess Mekula! Did I mention I’m not a super awesome artist?

Lastly was my game, The Bloody Wrath of Countess Mekula. This is a funnel adventure in which a long thought dead vampire comes back from the grave to reap revenge upon the mortal world. An old school dungeon with deadly monsters, traps, puzzles, and a beat the clock plot (party has find and destroy Countess Mekula before the setting sun). I was absurdly nervous at first, but the group of players I had were excellent. One player was from the UK and stuck around for the entire game (The game started 8PM EST which would be 1AM UK time)! The party’s use of the holy items provided was clever and resourceful. They defeated the vampire right in the nick of time, which is impressive because I didn’t make it easy.

I had a blast, so thank you Goodman Games for hosting a great event and a big shout out to Matt, Steven, Hank, and David for being great people and players. I look forward to further adventures with you all.

What is this?

Hello! My name is Lou LaLonde and I’m into tabletop roleplaying games. Specifically Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Crawl Classics, and Xcrawl. I’ve been playing DCC regularly for three years now, although I have been playing RPG’s in various forms since 1982 (I have a very vivid memory of pouring over the Fiend Folio with the Eurythmics playing on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40).

That’s me. With my vacation hat. Don’t judge the Judge.

I have always enjoyed creating things, and I want to share them with people. So I’m embarking on this half crazy idea of becoming a third party publisher, and this blog will act as my journal through the process. Writing does not come to me naturally, so I have to practice at it and having this blog will force me to write (or not, we shall see). I will also write about the adventures of my ongoing campaign Postcards from Ragora (it’s crazy, but I want to talk about that another time), some of the tricks I’ve learned making home-brewed adventures, and share with you some of the monsters my children created which I use to crush my friend’s characters with (apparently my children are diabolical). Most importantly, I’m looking for kindred spirits out there to collaborate and create with. I’m curious to see where this journey takes me.

Well, enough of introductions! Thanks for your time, see you soon (that sounds weird, I’ll work on that later).