Tag Archives: Cyberpunk

Reskinning Saltmarsh

Riffing on my review of The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh I got into a discussion on how this adventure would be easy to reskin for other genres. Without further ado, here are some of my ideas.

1. Call of Cthulhu – This one is simple, as the setup for Saltmarsh is practically a 20’s pulp adventure already. The smugglers are gangsters running alcohol who have hired a down-and-out stage magician to rig up the hauntings that keep people away. The alchemist’s hidden lab remains practically unchanged, with the addition of a mythos tome. Otherwise the mansion remains mostly the same.

But since this is Call of Cthulhu we need to add some hooks. Something is wrong with the hooch being brought in by the smugglers. Some people who drink in the speakeasies supplied by the gang seem to go mad and even experience physical mutations. The gangsters captured a few of the worst cases, fitted them with cement overshoes, and sent them to sleep with the fishes. Unfortunately those individuals came back to shore. The gangsters now have them locked in the zombie room.

The rum is being stored in a cave underneath the alchemist’s lab. Magics from his experiments have seeped down into the cavern and infected the alcohol, which has begun mutating certain sensitive individuals into Deep Ones.

The sea elf prisoner on the ship is replaced with a deep one hybrid who has a psychic connection with sea life. The ringleader of the smugglers forces the hybrid to use his powers to allow them to avoid coast guard patrols.

2. Sci-Fi – This one is for Stars Without Number or Traveler fans. The mansion is a derelict research station in deep orbit that was once the property of a private research firm. Rumors say that the crew was killed when something they were working on got loose; a biological weapon, a killer robot, or out of control nano-technology. A former employee for the company claims to have discovered a shutdown code in the now defunct company’s files and is looking for a crew to salvage the stations data core. There are megacorporations who will pay good money for any files remaining in the station’s data core.

Unknown to the players, the threat was neutralized long ago and the station is now being used as a base for space pirates. The alchemist’s lab can be the station’s dormant AI, or a locked down cryo-statsis unit storing inert genetically engineered monsters. This could lead to an unstable alliance between the party and the pirates should the insane AI or the inert creatures be unleashed.

If you are playing Star Frontiers the sea elf prisoner should become a Sathar, alive but in stasis. A live Sathar would be worth more than the entire station and all its contents, if the players can get it to the right person.

3. Cyberpunk – The mansion is turned into a data vault that once belonged to a criminal syndicate. The mob was broken up decades ago but their intranet is still running, protected by an AI armed with high powered black ICE. Rumors on the dark web say that more than one decker has had their mind fried trying to run the node. However the party’s fixer has information of interest to the party. The old gang had blackmail material about one of the team’s powerful enemies. If that information still exists it would be in their old data vault and if the team could recover it, they’d have a powerful weapon against their enemies.

The vault was protected by a dangerous AI, but what they don’t know is that the AI was taken offline a few years ago by enterprising hackers. The vault now serves as a virtual information bazaar where world class deckers come to store and sell their illegally obtained files. Anyone who gets deep enough into the VR environment to discover this will find a very upset collection of capable deckers who will be quick to protect their secret.

Should the AI be brought back online it will determine that anyone it finds inside the data vault is an intruder and will unleash its countermeasures to eliminate them.

4. Pulp Adventure – Another relatively straight forward conversion, this time set during WWII. The mansion is a front for a Nazi spy ring. Or move it to the 60’s and use the KGB.

The hook for the players would be a series of sabotage incidents at factories in the region. Throw in the disappearance of an allied agent and the kidnapping of a senator’s son or daughter (to replace the sea elf) and you’ll have ample reason for agents to investigate the mansion.

It’s likely this will end up being a straight forward raid by the agents on the spy’s lair. For an added twist, as the battle plays out, have something get loose from the alchemist’s lab. Perfect for swerving the adventure from conventional secret agents into Delta Green territory.

5. Role Reversal – The characters are the ones charged with keeping the Sinister Secret, be it a speakeasy or an OSS base in occupied Europe. Let the players come up with ways to perpetuate the scary rumors that keep curious people away. Make them try to spot enemy agents or federal officers and find ways to throw them off the track.

Or the group of meddling kids and their dog.

They may also have to deal with anything they find still hidden in the basement chambers. Or which comes crawling up out of the sea, answering the call of something inside the mansion.


Do you have any classic modules you’ve reskinned for other games? Any more ideas for Saltmarsh? I’d love to hear about them.


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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Cyberpunk, Fantasy, Gaming, Horror, Science Fiction


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Bedroom Wall Press Goes Free

John Berry, who writes the Bedroom Wall Press blog and such games as Hulks & Horrors has made a big announcement:

“Starting today, Bedroom Wall Press products are free and open source products.”

-Bedroom Wall Press, July 12th

Bedroom Wall Press is the archetypical small press OSR publisher, it’s a writer who loves gaming, particularly old school, and wants to get his product out into the world. To further that goal he is making the .pdf versions of his books free. Fans can still buy physical copies as well. Berry has also released his products under the Open Game License, which means that other publishers can now release material for his games.

Go read the post. His words are better than mine and he talks about the thought processes that went into this decision. It’s a neat thing to read and you can find it right over here.

Bedroom Wall Press has four books available. Hulks & Horrors is a science fiction game based on original Dungeons & Dragons. Heaven’s Shadow is a game of angelic assassins. Arcana Rising is an urban fantasy game and Welcome to Neuro City is the cyberpunk expansion for it.

I have a pdf copy of Hulks & Horrors and while I haven’t run it, I have mined it for ideas to use in my Stars Without Number game. I haven’t looked at the other books yet, as Urban Fantasy isn’t my thing right now. However, now that they’re free, I’ll be checking them out.


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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Cyberpunk, Gaming, Science Fiction


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Translation App for your Smart Phone, Free

I won’t link to the original story, because Tech Republic has some annoying pop-up ads. If you want, go to their site and I’m sure you’ll find it.

Here’s the skinny; Google has acquired the translation app Word Lens and for now they’ve made it free on the iTunes App and Google Play stores for your respective smartphones.

Word Lens lets you point your phone at words and translate them on screen, either from English to another language or vice versa. The available languages are German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian. I’ve been pointing my phone at books all over my study and it’s pretty good, and definitely cool.

Once you download the app, click the world map and you’ll see language packs that are also available. You’ll have to download them too, but for the time being they’re also free.

There’s no word on how long the application and the language packs will be free, so if it’s something you’d be interested in I’d act soon.

Now if they would just add packs for Elder Futhark, Klingon, and Tengwar I’d be all set.

Hey, they’re more useful than Esperanto.

This seems appropriate, given R. Talsorian’s sale on their games. It’s very Cyberpunk.

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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Cool Stuff


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Talsorian’s Memorial Day Sale

R. Talsorian Games is having a sale!

“All R. Talsorian Games corebooks and adventures 65% off. The sale begins May 22nd and runs through May 26th. Includes books from Cybergeneration, Teenagers from Outer Space, Mekton, Castle Falkenstein, and Cyberpunk 2020.”

R. Talsorian’s Blog

I’m a big fan of Talsorian, both of their games and as a company. In particular I am enamored with Mekton Zeta, which I really need to get to the table more often.

The sale has begun already. At the moment, it looks like it only applies to the .PDF copies of the books and not the physical versions. I’ve shot them a message asking if the print copies will go on sale too.

The PDF’s can be ordered through their Drive Thru RPG page.

Print copies can be ordered through the R. Talsorian online store.

I’ll post an update if I hear back about the physical books.



Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Cyberpunk, Gaming, Science Fiction


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The Tower of David

This is possibly the coolest, most cyberpunk community I’ve read about since the walled city of Kowloon.

Standing 45 storeys tall, complete with helicopter landing pad and glorious views of the Avila mountain range, it was built with the intention of becoming a shining new financial centre in Venezuela’s capital.

Since it was abandoned roughly 20 years ago, amid a massive run on the country’s banking sector and the death of its developer, this incomplete skyscraper has been transformed into what has been described as the tallest slum in the world.

The building was seized by squatters in 2007, when then-President Hugo Chavez’s socialist government turned a blind eye, and now about 3,000 people call it their home.

-The Daily Mail

An unfinished skyscraper in the middle of a city, turned into a towering slum community. If that doesn’t make you think of Night City or Megacity One I don’t know what will. I’ve heard of the ghost towers in many Asian nations, unfinished skyscrapers that have been left empty due to lack of tenants or funding, but this is the first time I’ve heard of one that was taken over by squatters and turned into their own vertical city.

According to the article the Tower of David boasts its own form of civic governments, it’s own security, and shops. They’re a village unto themselves, rising out of the city of Caracas. And despite their reputation as a slum and the stigma that follows squatter communities, by all accounts crime is lower for the people of the Tower than it is for the citizens living on the ground.

That in itself could make for an interesting twist for a game setting. We’ve seen settings where technologically advanced people in an isolated sanctuary are safe from the chaotic world around them, but it’s less common to see a sanctuary for the poor rising above a technologically decadent civilization. It’s similar to the old Beauty & the Beast TV series, but rising up instead of burrowing below.

The full story is in The Daily Mail, complete with a brief history of the Tower, a bit about their society, and some wonderful photos.

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Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Cool Stuff, Cyberpunk


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Houska Castle – Adventure Seeds Pt. 3

Finishing out the 13 Adventure Seeds for Houska Castle!

Here are the links to the History & Legends post and Adventure Seeds Part One and Two.

10. Game of Death – In the mid-13th century Ottokar II sent his knights into the mountains to deal with a satanic threat.  A necromancer of frightful power had built a fortress using animated skeletons as slaves and warriors.  From there he terrorized the surrounding lands, his forces slaughtering the people and dragging their corpses back to join his undead ranks.

The knights fought a brutal battle, eventually laying siege to the fortress.  High in the tower of the necromancer they confronted the villain and cast him down, the Earth opening beneath them and swallowing the tower whole.  The knights were victorious, but they knew the necromancer was not dead.  They built Houska Castle over top of the chasm to seal him forever beneath the mountain.

Many years have passed and Europe is destroying itself in the horrors of the 30 Years War.  In the midst of this chaos the great leaders have each received a strange messenger.  Undead ravens have come bearing a challenge from the necromancer.  He has transformed the hell pit beneath the castle into a series of levels filled with traps and unholy monsters.  The necromancer will provide all the power of his dark arts to the side whose adventurers reach the bottom of the cavern first.

It is a truly Faustian bargain, but the war has already transformed central Europe into a landscape from Hell.  Besides, can anyone risk such power falling into the hands of their enemies?

11. Souls of Vengeance – When Houska Castle was built the old timber fortress before it was demolished as well as the homes of the peasants who were then forced to construct the new castle.  Conditions for the workers were brutal and scores died in accidents or from the harsh treatment of their overseers.

When the castle was completed the king brought a great treasure of gold and jewels taken from the pagans during the Northern Crusades.  He hid the wealth in the caverns beneath the castle, then ordered the remaining workers slaughtered to keep the secret.

The castle now lies empty and no priest has said prayers in its chapel for many years.  The new king has granted the castle and its lands to a group of adventures in thanks for their service, but the return of residents to the castle has caused the unquiet dead to stir in their forgotten vaults.

12. The Forgotten King – King Arthur, Emperor Barbarossa, Prince Vlad Dracula; occasionally a hero will rise up to embody the dreams of an entire people.  A warrior who achieves such power can transcend mortal life and when they are cut down they are taken into the Earth.  There they sleep until the day comes when they will once more take up their swords and lead their people in battle.  These are the Kings in the Mountains

In the 6th century such a king arose, a Celtic warlord who lead his people against the advancing Slavs.  He was a just lord, fierce in battle, and ultimately fell while holding a mountain pass single handed.  So great was his heroism that as death came for him the Morrigan herself turned the final blow aside, swept him up, and secreted him away in a hidden cavern.  There he would sleep as a King in the Mountain, waiting for the day he would once more lead his people.  But something went wrong.

His people did not stand against the invaders.  Instead they fled and the tales of the king and his deeds were lost.  Now his tomb lies forgotten beneath the mountain and Houska Castle rises overhead, it’s chapel covering its hidden entrance.  Christian prayers drift down to where the old king sleeps and have disturbed his dreams, telling him of the fall of his people and the loss of his legacy.

In the heart of the mountain the old king’s anger grows.

13. Vault of Chrome and Silicone – Ziny Flatline is the best hacker ever to dance through Cyberspace.  At 13 she’d run two megacorp mainframes.  By 16 she’d made her first smash-and-grab on the international bank-net, melting their black I.C.E. with software she’d written herself.  She dodged her first assassin less than 48 hours later.  For her 17th birthday an unknown corporate player sent her a gift courtesy of an attack drone.  She had just enough warning to escape before a missile turned her apartment building into a crater.  The rest of the residents were not so lucky.

It was all fun and games when it was only Ziny’s neck on the line, but seeing the collateral damage changed her outlook on life.  She used the funds she’d stolen to buy an abandoned pile of stone called Houska Castle and in the caves below it she set up a data vault of her own design. Then she assembled a team of like-minded hackers and they set out on a mission to fill the vault with a most unusual collection.

They collected malware of every kind.  Viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits, spyware, every piece of malicious code they could get their digital hands on.  They created the largest library of computer viruses ever assembled.  Now they take the viruses apart, examine their code, and compile new and more dangerous programs.  Their latest acquisition is a rogue A.I.

Ziny Flatline hasn’t said what her endgame is but you can bet it will be spectacular.



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