Discover more from TEETH
Doom Horns of Antiquity
Even If His Crewmates Had Tried To Save Him.
You are reading the TEETH newsletter, written and compiled by submerged anomaly Jim Rossignol and offshore utopia Marsh Davies. This is a newsletter about table-top role-playing games: our own—that we’re publishing over here and also here —as well as occasional interviews, links, and general noodling. Want us to see your work? Get in touch!
What We Have Been Up To.
The TEETH books, zines, and maps have begun to arrive across the world, with confirmed deliveries in the UK, Europe, Australia and US! It’s an amazing thing to see this ending up in your hands, and we extend our profound thanks to everyone who has helped us on this journey.
If you backed the project but have not yet set your delivery in motion please do so! You will need to log into Kickstarter and check the link that you’ve been sent via direct message. All the information for fulfilment is in there.
If you have the book already then please do let us know! We’ve been overjoyed to hear and see evidence of these arriving in people’s hands.
If you missed the Kickstarter then please check in here regularly, as we overprinted a little and there will hopefully be books on sale after we have dealt with any lost or damaged items during the fulfilment phase!
Again, thank you all so much for supporting this project, it means the world to us. It is genuinely one off the Bucket List to have finally produced a TTRPG book of our own.
There is still one more thing to come, of course, which is the TEETH: MORE TEETH stretch goal PDF, including the three separate goals of a new adventure, weird magical items and their creator, as well as some surprising pre-generated characters and tips on how to play them. We did a little twist on those, which we think you’ll enjoy.
And then in 2024? Well, we have some plans. We’ll let you know. I for one (Jim) will be moving on from my current secret project day job work and into a place where, for a while at least, I will have rather more time for TTRPG-authoring activities. I am quite excited about that!
-Marsh & Jim
Thing of The Week (sic) is not a difficult choice. If you have spent a little time with the preview PDF of Mythic Bastionland (or indeed the quickstart rules which are linked at the top of the Kickstarter page) then you will know what to expect of this mythic and extraordinary game of knights. “Each player is one of 72 Knights, with personal equipment, a unique ability, and a passion that fuels their spirit. As your glory grows, you might eventually embark on the legendary City Quest, an impossible challenge to find The City itself, a shining metropolis seen only in dreams.” That barely skims it. I didn’t take long to pledge for this one.
And while we’re on the topic of people making psychedelic RPGs, I was captured by The Ultraviolet Grasslands And The Black City 2E. Get a load of this: “The Ultraviolet Grasslands and the Black City is a tabletop role-playing game book, half setting, half adventure, and half epic trip; inspired by psychedelic heavy metal, the Dying Earth genre, and classic Oregon Trail games. It leads a group of ‘heroes’ into the depths of a vast and mythic steppe filled with the detritus of time and space and fuzzy riffs.” My jam. My very marmalade.
And staying on-topic for a third bullet-point, I obliged to point out that fantasy-as-a-genre essay collection Realms Of Imagination is worth picking up. The contributors are each and all excellent, including Chris Gardiner. More on him, later.
Finally, very into these Doom Horns Of Antiquity. If you were going to topple the Roman Empire, this is the soundtrack you’d want to do it.
What We Have Been Up To
Those of you whose predilections include space horror, horror in space, and horrible spaces, will no doubt already have been all over space horror TTRPG Mothership. That’s been super-true for Monday Night Dice Club, too, with a return two years on from our original outing.
(And, all that that said, the space horror locker is getting a little claustrophobic now with concerted competition via Death In Space or the Alien RPG, or even Extinction or This Ship Is No Mother. I feel like there was another one, too, but I can’t find the link.)
Anyway! Back in the deep abyss of 2021 we played a bit of the original Mothership release (wincing and worming our way through the excellent Dead Planet scenario) before electing to wait it out for the boxed release of the Kickstarter. That still hasn’t materialised, although the images of the planned box are looking profoundly tantalising, and the Mothership PDFs have started cropping up in our inboxes. We decided we could wait no longer: it has been Time To Play.
One of the things I have found fascinating about Mothership is the sheer reach of its appeal. Rarely does an indie TTRPG team find a niche relatively unoccupied and fill it so completely. The tearaway success of the Kickstarter is a measure of that, but on a more personal basis the intense enthusiasm my group has for this game has taken me somewhat by surprise. Which is not to say that I don’t understand the broad appeal, because that is obvious, it’s just that they really like this one in a way that I struggle to explain fully.
The Mothership ruleset does not seem to be the reason that my gang like it so much, it works fine, and is totally passable for most purposes — improved for this edition, even — but it does lack the inertial panache of Trophy or the interlocking systemic crunch of a good FiTD game. We had to house rule some stuff the first time around, too, which I found to be an irritant. Not all of that is gone in the latest edition.
What has worked particularly well, and this is a first for us, is the use of a character-holder app. We’ve not used anything like this before, but since the group has had to shift back and forth between remote and in-person sessions, much like the rest of life, it has employed to great effect: even allowing us to share the generated characters between instances of the app using a generation code. It does dice rolls and generally does a bunch towards makes it all convenient (equipment cost disparities aside). But I don’t think that explain the excitement, either.
I think the reason my group has connected actually comes down to this being the first game where they have really embraced character death. The start of the Dead Planet run was tentative in the extreme, and members of the group explicitly worried for the loss of their characters, but something about Mothership has broken that spell. When a character died in the last session, having dodged an alien eel monster, survived an exploding pressure door spinning through space, only to finally fling themselves injuriously into a pylon and be abandoned by the team (you don’t know, in Mothership if someone is actually dead* until another character checks on them, which I think is my favourite bit of the game) it was hailed with cheers and commiserations. It is in this spirit that our campaign continues, and I am starry with anticipation over the risks that will be taken and the consequences that will be borne in the coming sessions.
*The android, Bionicus-1, would have been beyond saving, even if his crewmates had tried to save him.
Robert E Howard’s Conan: Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of
Tuesday nights has seen us flexing (or at least incrementally developing) our 2d20 muscles with a Conan campaign run by the excellent Chris Gardiner of Failbetter Games. 2d20 is, as I have mentioned elsewhere, a particularly interesting ruleset and I suspect I shall write about this one with more clarity at some point, because I am still just getting to grips with it. But if you do see someone talking about Modiphius’ Conan The Barbarian game then the chances are that what they are saying is extremely positive, because that’s been my experience of both playing it, and hearing other people talk about their experience with it.
[Note: I haven’t linked Conan because a first-party page for this doesn’t seem to be available anymore, and it’s not on DriveThru, so I am going to cautious about linking to sites I don’t know. I am sure you could pick up the book somewhere though.]
This tendency to excellence is, I think, because the game scratches several gamer itches at once. The first itch is that of profocient systemic crunchiness, which Conan thrusts upon you with its numerous interlocking systems: the 2d20 itself, which is the basic roll, requiring you to make a number of successes against the relevant stat, as well as the ability to incur or spend “momentum” to add dice to the pool, as well as the GM having their own narrative currency (Doom) which they too can spend to increase the stakes of everything.
The other itch addressed by this Conan game is a worldly/immersion one. The sheer amount of world resource and sense of place that the material churns out is daunting. Now, this is partly down the GM, and I am not much of a Conan-ite, unlike Chris, who has long been familiar with the source material, but it has been a pleasure to become acquainted with a fantasy world upon which many other sword & sorcery experiences are already based, and in turn look at the places it has stolen from. One player is a thinly veiled Welsh archer embroiled in high-fantasy politics, another a thinly veiled Siberian shaman with a GM-invented demon-slave of a witchgod on speed-dial, while another a thinly-veiled Syrian warrior whose axe armour gets very Eighties Action Figure on the asses of our enemies, demon or mannish. All this combines to deliver a stronger motif than perhaps it appears now that I am writing it down: let me just say that I am always a sucker for blending genres, and here a fantasy world blends many different periods of antiquity across one fantasy world, stealing liberally and weaving confidently. And I really like am enjoying the result. We’re even playing as pirates, which seems from another era entirely. And yet it works. It has also been a relief that Modiphius have been so adept at handling what we might call a rather “of its time” worldview, in the original stories. Many yikes are incurred by those reading the original tales for inspiration.
So yes. If this Conan campaign has issue, it is that the constituent players are all tired and busy men in their forties, whose family lives and need to make rent mean that we can’t always manage to meet for the session. We have been faced with the age old games-on-a-table problem: what to do if someone can’t make it? Monday Night Dice Club defaults to some card games, more often that not. But for the Tuesday gang Mr Gardiner had another ingenious solution.
Now, we’ve only run the world/character creation and then a single session of Starforged, which turned out to be an exploratory sort of enterprise with myself and Comrade Gillen stumbling our way through the rules (Gillen had, thankfully, played Ironsworn, on which the science-fiction variant here is based) but we have so far witnessed the makings of a lovely time. More importantly: we (sort of) proved that can play it regardless of who turns up.
Yes, this sort of game might just be a remedy to the issue of someone not making it to the game which can’t coherently continue without them. Especially when that person is the GM. The reason for this is that Ironsworn (and by extension Starforged, the science variant we are indulged with) is constructed to be played solo, as a journalling-type game, but is set up to be extended to co-operative play and, even further extentendly, it can be GM’d backed to full fat Old Fashioned RPG again.
The reason for this is that like, say, a journalling game, Starforged itself does lots of the heavy lifting. Tables for all manner things to scaffold the experience rapidly make themselves available from the outset. A world is constructed, and with quests falling out all over the place. NPCs pop into existence with a few dice rolls (or clicks on supporting online generators) and even choices that players create for themselves can be answered by consulting one the game’s many tables or “oracles”. It’s by no means a self-playing RPG, but it’s as close as one can come, I suspect.
And while it lifts and enables, it also resists! The dice rolls of the action system are there to make sure you are not just unspooling a pleasant story for yur space friends, and the way the dice incur peril means the moves you make will result in unforeseen consequences. We quickly found ourselves struggling to overcome our own story. I have to say that I don’t usually gravitate towards GMless stuff, as we have explored in previous newsletters, but I can really see how this could cure of me that, too.
I’ll let you know how this Starforged experiment goes, because it feels like we found an answer to the conundrum posed upthread. What do we play on an off week? This. That’s assuming, of course, that we actually get a few more evenings with a man down. Given that it’ll soon be flu and snots season, I expect we will. I am just praying that man isn’t me.
More soon x