Saturday, August 31, 2013

An OSR Styled Game That Fits on a Single Sheet? Dungeon Delvers (PWYW)

I've often thought about stripping down an OSR styled ruleset to it's very essence, in an attempt to get it to as few pages as possible.

+Brent Newhall has gotten it down to a single sheet of paper with Dungeon Delvers, and I'm impressed. A few d6 and a single sheet of paper and you can experience some old school gaming. Will it be as complete as S&W, LL or one of the others? No, of course not. It would make for an excellent game to run at a convention tho' - print out a half dozen copies of the rules, provide some d6s and you are ready to go.

It's priced as Pay What You Want - so you can grab it for free and then throw a few coppers in the virtual RPGNow tip jar if you find it valuable.

At some point I'll need to run a playtest session to see how this works in actual play, not just in quick read, but it looks playable and the price is certainly right.

From the blurb:

Dungeon Delvers is an ultra-portable one-page D&D variant.

Dungeon Delvers packs a lot into one page: rules for attacks and saves, 4 classes, 3 races, spells, healing, conditions, and monsters. The system uses only a d6. There'll even be a rock-paper-scissors system for rolling a d6!

Here's what you'll get:

A two-page PDF containing the rules on one page, and an expanded spell list on the second page. The spell list includes spells for wizards and clerics levels 1 through 3 (that's a lot of play time).

A one-page PocketMod PDF of the rules that can be printed and folded into a booklet that will fit in your pocket.
An .azw3 file containing the rules and expanded spell list, for use on newer Kindles.
A .mobi file containing the rules and expanded spell list, for use on older Kindles.
An .epub file containing the rules and expanded spell list, for use on iPads and other eReaders.
The System

All rolls are 1d6. Roll 1d6 each for the 6 classic abilities. Attack rolls succeed on 5-6. All other rolls are ability rolls, which succeed if they roll less than or equal to the relevant ability. Ability rolls are used both as skill checks and as saves.

Fighters deal extra hits per level, rogues get a bonus on ability rolls, wizards get one spell per level to use at-will, and clerics can cast any one spell of their choice once per day (more at higher levels).

Quotes From Gary Gygax's Role-playing Mastery - Designing Games, 'Cause Everyone is Doing It

What follows is a short quote:
"Before a single rule is written or even thought about, the designer must make three important decisions concerning his game-to-be - its genre, its period and its scope." p138, Role=playing Mastery, Gary Gygax
First, I'm surprised there is even a chapter on Designing Your Own Game in Role-playing Mastery. Not that it surprises me that folks would want to do so - I had a tile type dungeon game I designed 20+ years ago (long gone) that was part board game / party RPG. Many players are frustrated game designers to some extend. It just seems like the waste of a chapter, as it doesn't go nearly deep enough into the topic to be of much worth.

That being said, the above quote could be easily used with the idea of "campaign design". Rappan Athuk vs Barrow Maze vs Razor Coast vs Blood Island vs Greyhawk vs  Wampus Country vs Forgotten Realms vs etc... each plays out very differently using the same or similar rules.

"Know your players" and the rest should fall into place.

Friday, August 30, 2013

First Look - Whitehack - Old School With Some New School

I must admit, for a person who suddenly has much less free time on his hands I have a
plethora of excellent RPG systems to read. I'm not just talking the big guys of Numenera and 13th Age, but Five Ancient Kingdoms and now Whitehack.

Whitehack does have one huge advantage over the rest - it's a mere 32 pages (less the OGL).

I'm dead tired after the 7 hr install session that was Fios (all hail Fios), but after visiting my mother in law tomorrow afternoon, I plan to give this a solid read.

Much thanks to +Christian Mehrstam for putting a copy in my hands. My cat appreciates it too ;)

Indiegogo Fundraiser for Chris Pramas - Cadaver Bone, A Dark Fantasy Anthology

I don't read hardly as much fiction these days as I used to, but I'll gladly read some to support a good cause.

I do wonder what +Chris Pramas will do if he blows past his 10K goal to support his surgery. Maybe a fund to support game creators in similar circumstances?

Here's a brief summary from the Cadaver Bone Indiegogo page:

Short Summary
Would you like 17 short stories from award-winning writers of novels, games, comics, TV shows, and movies? And would you like to help me pay for spinal surgery? Read on! 
My name is Chris Pramas and I've been working as a game designer, writer, and publisher for the past 20 years. I am the founder and president of Green Ronin Publishing, and you may have enjoyed games of ours like Mutants & Masterminds, Dragon Age, A Song of Ice and Fire, and DC Adventures. I need an operation and my insurance is not going to cover all the expenses.

I have a pinched nerve in my neck and I’m going to get a double spine fusion operation in September to fix it. My insurance will not cover the whole thing so I have turned to author friends to put together a dark fantasy fiction anthology called Cadaver Bone. Each author is donating a brand new story and the proceeds will go to paying my medical bills. I’m going to have cadaver bone in my neck; you should get Cadaver Bone for your favorite e-reader! 
Confirmed authors for the Cadaver Bone anthology are: Cecil Castellucci, Christopher Robert Cargill, Richard Dansky, Ed Greenwood, Matt Forbeck, David Gaider, Steve Kenson, John Kovalic, Robin D. Laws, Jess Lebow, Colin McComb, Chris Pramas, John Rogers, Lucien Soulban, Melinda Thielbar, John Scott Tynes, and James Wallis. See below for bios of all the authors. They are a talented bunch and I am so grateful for their help. 

Home Today Having Fios Installed - Which Will Mean at Some Point - No Internet - Scary!

Even the idea of having no internet for just a few hours is strangely unnerving. Until I remember I have my Clear Wireless Internet Hub - lol ;)

Seriously, how do these D&D adventuring party's go anywhere without Google Maps, GPS, google search for the monsters' weaknesses, finding the location of a good inn and all of the other goodies ;)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

When is a "Kickstarter" NOT a Kickstarter? When it's The Unspeakable Oath Subscription Drive (CoC)

The RPG that I plan to get some serious mileage out of next year (and maybe this year in late October) is Call of Cthulhu. I supported the Orient Express Kickstarter for it and I'm dying to get some play out of it.

So when I saw The Unspeakable Oath (a CoC mostly quarterly magazine) was having a subscription drive, I had to jump in and jump start my CoC gaming.

Four issues in print and PDF for 30 bucks plus shipping is a steal. Bonuses added in for subscribers as certain subscriber totals are met? It's like having stretch goals for an already complete project ;)

Do you need a better reason to get one of the higher quality gaming magazines on the market?

A Look Back at the Diverse Selection of RPGs I Ran "Back in the Day"

I played just about ever RPG back in my high school and college days, and when I say I played just everything, I mean I ran just about anything - I was the main DM / GM in the group.

Regretfully, I no longer seem to have the affinity to quickly pick up and understand diverse rulesets these days. In my younger days, I ranged far and wide:

MERP - I still remember some crazy NPC chasing the party yelling "Bola?!? Bola? You want bola? I give you bola!" as they ran in terror. This morphed into Rolemaster, which then killed the campaign under too many rules

Swordbearer - we never got further than character generation regretfully, but I did use the Dwarven Halls adventure in AD&D.

Star Ace / Timemaster / Chill / Sandman - I ran them all, but I do vividly remember a player's space fighter being destroyed around him, and he was left floating alive in space during the battle.

Traveller - more character generation than anything else, but I did run a few one or two shots - the planned campaign never seemed to materialize.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay - we had a campaign that lasted for months, before the party's spell caster inadvertently cast a fireball with himself as ground zero. Did I mention he carried like a dozen glass flasks of oil?

Paranoia - OMFG, but this was a blast to run. Killing players without remorse - Here come the clones! Amazing in small doses.

Top Secret - fun for one shots, there was little interest in playing this more than a handful of times.

Gamma World 1e - I think we played a 2nd session, but I'm not sure. There just wasnt much love for it in my group. First game I bought with my own money as a teenager (during my first trip to the Complete Strategist in Manhattan).

Star Trek (FASA) - tried to use it in conjunction with the Command Deck game for it - we never got to a second session.

Mechanoids - a single session

Palladium Fantasy - we played the digest sized published adventure with the red cover - and always talked about going back to it but never did.

Call of Cthulhu - a handful of one-shots, usually in October

Runequest - I got the 3rd edition of the rules for Christmas one year and never understood the sorcery rules. Grabbed the 2e rules, Pavis and Big Rubble at a con at Columbia University, and ran 2e for a summer and then some as a sandbox type setting. Fun times.

Conan (TSR) - ran a few sessions before we all decided we preferred D&D by far. Wasn't even fun as a change of pace.

GURPS - always wanted to run it more then I ever got the chance to, two campaigns ended in the first session with TPKs. Ah well.

Elric - one session. It deserved more, but I dont think any of us had a handle on the setting and expectation at that time.

Champions - this was the boxed set. Balancing the powers got way too confusing. I've never enjoyed supers games much anyway.

Spacemaster - I ran this for a two player group for the better part of a year. Still don't think I knew half the rules, but it didn't keep us from playing and having fun.

Cyborg Commando - The Complete Guide to RPGs gives this 3 1/2 * - I give it 4 shits. My God, but this was awful. I can't believe I made my group even try to play it, but we did. I'm still trying to live it down.

The Morrow Project - one of my players really wanted to play this, so he gave me his rules. We got as far as character generation. Ah well.

Pendragon - we tried, really we did. Not enough stuff to kill for my old group ;)

Toon - I ran a few sessions when the group was short a player or two. It was a fun change of pace.

Boot Hill - we ran a session that seemed more like a single unit miniatures war game. No one wanted a second bite of the apple.

The above is a fairly complete list - I suspect there are a few I've inadvertently missed. Still amazes me that I had a decent handle on such a diverse selection of rules.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Quotes From Gary Gygax's Role-playing Mastery - The Creator - The... Kirk ;)

Another quote from Role-playing Mastery:
"The game master is the creator, organizer, and arbiter of all. His most important functions during play, though, are more mundane. He is nature. He provides sensory data, and finally he fills the roles of the living things the PCs interact with during the course of the session." Role-Playing Mastery, page 48, Gary Gygax
What sticks out to me is the "sensory data" part of the quote. This doesn't mean just sights and sounds, but even touch and smell.

Back in '93, at my one and only GenCon, one of the GMs we had for the tournament we went through was in a wheel chair. I never asked if it was a permanent or temporary situation for her, as the question would have been damn awkward, but I suspected it was the former.

In any case, she had a sense that she was hooked on describing - the sense of smell. Cooking, burning, blooming, rotting - she nailed them all with verbal descriptions that brought the actual smells to mind. Which was scary in a way, as they didn't seem to be integral to the plot (and I suspected she was filling these parts in on her own) but that sense of smell made the session she ran seem more real than any of the others I played in over those four days. Maybe the most real of any session I've ever played in.

Strange, we speak of "gamer funk" at cons and how it assails out nostrils, but we often forget to use that same sense of smell when describing events and such in our game sessions.

Haven't thought of that in a while. Interesting what a single quote from a book can dig up in one's memories.

Mini Review - The Dungeon Alphabet - Expanded Third Printing

+Vincent Florio another post with Ashley, just for you ;)

I have the original printing of The Dungeon Alphabet packed away somewhere, but I saw the expanded third printing last Friday when I was at The Complete Strategist here in NYC. I had to grab the new copy.

The shit rocks even more than before.

Like tables? It's got you covered.

Michael Curtis captures a piece of the soul of the OSR and smacks it down on a page and then does it again and again, consistently.  Did I mention the Erol Otis art?

The PDF version on RPGNow says it has 48 pages, but it's actually updated to the 3rd edition - so it's 64 pages or so. If you bought it in PDF back in the day like I did, you can download the updated version for free. That's damn cool!

If you don't have a copy, you probably should.

From the blurb:

An A-to-Z Reference for Classic Dungeon Design

Now updated to the same text as the third printing! This newly expanded version includes 16 additional pages of content, new endsheets, and new interior illustrations!

Designing dungeons is as easy as A, B, C! The Dungeon Alphabet compiles twenty-six classic dungeon design elements in one place to assist the game master in creating subterranean challenges. A is for Altar, B is for Books, and C is for Caves: the Dungeon Alphabet has advice, hints, and randomized tables that bring new life to your adventures. Suitable for any rules system, the entries are accompanied by outstanding art from classic fantasy illustrators, with a foreword by noted game designer Zeb Cook

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Last Week Was My Lowest Post Count Since 2011 - I'm Failing My Initiative Rolls ;)

Work has been busy this summer, and it's been keeping me rather busy, as you can tell from my slowly decreasing post count here on the blog. Maybe I just need better time management skills ;)

In any case, I was going to try and organize a Virtual Con type of thing for mid to late September for Swords & Wizardry, but with VirtuaCon 13 the weekend of October 18-20 it seems kinda redundant. I've noticed a fair share of Old School and OSR games recruiting on VirtuaCon 13, so maybe a nice cold weekend in the winter, when no one wants to leave the comfort of their home anyway for the S&W Online Weekend. Work has to calm down by then, right?

The Unofficial OSR Zine's release is getting pushed back to late September / Early October at this point. We have some excellent submissions that I need to organize and well as an article or two to write myself before moving this over to the layout god. If you know of an easy way to grow my own fully mature clone to speed this up, let me know.

A DCC RPG Appreciation Day / Week was penciled in to mid October, but maybe moving that to November to avoid overlapping with VirtuaCon 13. I do have vacation the week of Thanksgiving.

Yep, I need a clone. Simulacrum would want to kill me the moment it knew I exist if I recall correctly, so science over magic in this case ;)

Rediscovered Book - The Complete Guide to Role-Playing Games by Rick Swan (published 1990)

It's amazing what a little emergency cleaning before the installation of Fios can dig up ;)

The Complete Guide to Role-Playing Games by Rick Swan was apparently an 88 cent pick up at Odd-Job (pretty sure that discount chain is defunct now).

Sweet cover art by Phil Foglio too.

Looking at some random reviews:

GURPS 4 stars (4 seems to be max)

Rolemaster 2 1/2 stars

Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes 3 1/2 stars

Role Aids 3 stars (wasn't this a line of supplements and modules for use with (A)D&D?

Tunnels & Trolls 3 stars

AD&D 4 stars

High Colonies 2 1/2 stars (never heard of it)

High Fantasy 1 1/2 stars (ouch - and never heard of it)

Supervillains 1 star (Bamn! Pow!)

Alright, I may have to alternate some pulls from this book with EGG's Role-playing Mastery for future postings...

Anyone Know Where This Amazing Dwarf Came From?

I was just sent this in my email by a friend who stumbled across it on the net.

Anyone know the artist? Source (book, game, etc)

This is SO much my vision of Tenkar Calishun it just isn't funny :)

You Hit it on the Head! Helmets in 1e

I was listening to the Roll for Initiative podcast on the commute to work this morning, and they brought up one of the obscure rules for helmets in AD&D 1e - intelligent adversaries attacking an unarmored head 50% of the time.

As such, I remember we always bought helmets for our PCs and then had no use for the rule.

The thing is, I always thought of the AD&D combat system as abstract - it wasn't blow by blow and it didn't have hit locations, so this rule is a rule that kind of breaks the rules that were already in place by default.

Did you / do you use the unarmored head gets the shit beat out of it rule when running you AD&D / OSR games? Why / why not?

(damn, I should ask about "weapon speed" in a later post ;)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Character Class as a Role - or - Niche Protection Before MMORPGs

Tallifer made a comment in regards to my previous post that became a bit "thought provoking" for me. Here's the relevant bit:
"It is interesting that you recognize the existence of roles even in old school games."
Here's the deal Tal - we recognized the roles the different classes played in the game, even if we didn't label them Tank, DPS, Controller, Healer and the like. The roles changes for the classes as the game and character levels progressed.

Fighters (and their subclasses) were the front line fighters and the main damage bringers for at least the first few levels, before liberal use of fireballs and lightning bolts changed that balance. They had both the hit points and armor class to hang with the big baddies.

Clerics were always the premier healers. Druids made a poor substitute and Paladins served as little more than a bandade in that role. Hold Person as a 2nd level spell made Clerics decent Controllers at 3rd level and beyond. They could also on occasion fill in for a front line fighter when needed

Thieves were rarely the big damage dealers, but their skills with traps and locks kept the party alive in other ways.

Magic-users were weak as shit for the first few levels (but Sleep was always one hell of a game changer). At 5th level, Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Hold Person and the like change much of the DPS and control focus to the simple and fragile Magic-User.

And of course I'm leaving out the multi-classing, UA classes and different race adjustments that sneak into the picture.

This all being said, I don't recall us ever saying "we need X to fill the Y role". Still, you knew a balanced party included one each of the core four classes. While fighter subclasses did a decent job in filling the same niche as a fighter, the druid, assassin and illusionist generally made poor substitutes for their more popular siblings, but in the hands of the right player, even this could be overcome.

So yes, even 30+ years ago, we recognized there were niches or roles that a successful party needed to consider. It just hadn't occurred to us to limit ourselves by labeling the roles like MMOs do, which then carried over in many ways to table top role-playing.

The problem with MMORPGs is that if you aren't the best at what your "role is", then you are wasting the time of everyone else in the party. Limited to 4 slots or 6 or x in the party, you need to make every character count. Which makes MMOs seem more like an exercise in math and statistics than an actual game to me these days.

All of which might have little to nothing to do with Tallifer's excellent quote, but it got me thinking along my own set of ideas on the topic ;)

Do You, As a Player, Have a Preferred Class Type?

I've noticed in my gaming group that some players gravitate towards certain classes or roles.

Arcane caster, any kind of caster, fighter, thief - it seems most players have character types that they feel most comfortable with.

As for myself, I tend to GM more much more often then I play. When I do play, I'm willing to fill any unfilled role the party needs - and if the needs are filled, I'm looking to play a bard or some other class / class combo that can fill multiple roles as they come up. I don't THINK I have a preferred class, but if I did, it would be the "jack of all trades" type of character.

Do you have a favorite class or role to play in a party?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Quotes From Gary Gygax's Role-playing Mastery - About Understanding the Rules

And now a word from the author of Role-Playing Mastery:
"Knowing the rules of the game is not nearly as simple as committing the relevant passages to memory, because memorization does not bring understanding. It is not only important to know what is written in the rules but to also perceive how the parts of the rules fit together and work in harmony with each other. This later task is certainly achievable, but it is not always easy." Gary Gygax, Role-Playing Mastery page 24
It's kinda funny to read the above, as I always thought I had mastered AD&D, but I did so by eliminating weapon speed and not always enforcing spell segments and the like. So long as the changes applied across the board, PCs and adversaries alike, it worked.

When I ran a few DCC RPG story arcs last summer and fall, I didn't realize how little I knew until I ran the first session with characters that actually reached 1st level. I ran a hodgepodge of AD&D and DCC, and it worked, but mostly because I kept the action moving so the players wouldn't readily notice the discrepancies.

This time around, I think my knowledge of the DCC RPG is stronger, but it still has a way to go. I'm one of those that learns better not so much by reading but doing.

I'm also learning how the various twists within the DCC game truly makes it unique, which weren't so obvious to me from reading alone.

In any case, as I (re)read Role-playing Mastery over the next week or so, I'm going to pull out quotes that I find interesting. Hopefully, you will too.

Rediscovered Book - Role-Playing Mastery by Gary Gygax - Multiple GMs / Same Session

I have no idea when I first picked this book up, but judging from the shape of the spine I strongly suspect I never read it. I certainly have no recollection of any of it's contents.

So, I randomly opened it to pages 86 and 87, where Gary talks about "group size" and using GM assistants or even co-GMing. Interesting stuff.

The he says the appropriate ratio is 3 to 4 players per GM / assistant.

Was this really the case back in the early days of OD&D? I remember stories of a dozen players or more being run by one GM.

Heck, last night I safely juggled 7 in my DCC campaign and figure 8 is my safe max. Most groups I've been a part of have had 5 or 6 players plus the GM.

Was running games with multiple GM's actually feasible back in the day? I haven't heard of any games being run in that manner these days.

Damn, I suspect there are a lot of blog topic seeds inside this small book...

Is the Default D&D Next Stat Bonus a +1 Average?

So, I've been looking through Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle (not the best name - maybe they should have used +Matt Finch 's Tome of Adventure Design for some other naming ideas). I've just been flipping through thus far, enjoying some of the art (I suspect it's all recycled from different editions, which is cool but a bit jarring at the same time).

Then I came to the supplied pre-gens. Humans have a total stat bonus of + 7, demihumans have a total stat bonus of + 6.

Which means you could simply change all of the DCs and other rolls by one and return the average stat bonus to zero - but then they wouldn't look so heroic I guess.

I dunno, it just kinda stood out and hit me. If the totals were around + 3 or 4, I doubt I would have noticed.

In any case, I am able to read the stat blocks and have a pretty good idea what is going on, so this is still much closer to the D&D I know than 4e ever was.

Highlights From the 2nd Session of "Doom of the Savage Kings" (DCC RPG)

Last week, some amazing die rolls by the party's arcane casters changed the direction and tempo of Doom of the Savage Kings a bit. Gone were the Jarl and his men. Added this session was +Erik Jensen 's gaggle of 4 peasants, handily recruited from the village's lynch mob ;)

Highlights from the session (vague spoilers but spoilers none the less - you have been warned)

- Dealing with the crone and trying to decide which party member would marry her for the help she offered (they decided on one of the "gaggle" of zeros)

- reminding the "lawful" character that killing in innocent so that you can use the now deceased body in a manner benefiting the party is NOT a lawful act ;)

- Looting the Jarl's Hall and finding little of true value

- Dealing with the Jarl's seer, and getting nothing but frustration

- Finding the "box within a box"

- The party Wizard has now cast TWO consecutive spells with a "natural 20". He so badly wanted to leech off of the halfling. I had to point out that even the roll he had would have destroyed half the village with his Scorching Ray, and he would be better ofhf notching it down one result. Sad Wizard. Happy, not burning village and dying villagers.

- Watching one of the "gaggle" get killed from a fellow party member's fumbled attack roll. The funnel finds itself some times.

- The funnel strikes a second time, as a snake-like thing swallowed another member of the "gaggle". And then there were two.

Third session of Doom of the Savage Kings is set for next saturday night.

I'm impressed with how well Google Hangouts / Roll20 handled 7 players (10 characters to start - 8 by the end of the session). Of course, somehow I had forgotten to upload the 2nd and 3rd maps for the adventure - brain fart - but seamlessly did so mid session. Huzzah!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Thoughts on a NYC Area "PubCon"

Yesterday afternoon (and a good chunk of the evening) I hung out with +Joe D and my beautiful wife Rachel. It was her first time ever to the Complete Strategist in Manhattan. She's a trooper ;)

Afterwards, we settled into Rattle N Hum, a truly amazing NYC Pub. Great place for a bite a and few brews after some heavy "game shopping".

Anyhow, to cut to the chase, Joe brought up the idea of a NYC PubCon. We've discussed this before (while at the same pub), so it's certainly something on our minds. I can guarantee you it won't be at Rattle N Hum, as the space is limited and the cost would be more than painful.

We are still in the early stags of brainstorming this. We figure Spring 2014 at the earliest, and probably one of the outer boroughs of NYC to keep the prices down. It would also be more of an informal con I suspect than a "professionally" run one - closer to a "gameday" with adult beverages and good food. Aimed at Old School Gaming, but not limiting itself necassarily to the OSR.

The place I have in mind is blocks from the subway, easily accessible by highway and has a legit (not hourly ;) hotel within walking distance. Not sure how many would need a hotel, as this would probably be one day only at this point, but just throwing it out there.

Just trying to judge the interest in this before working out more details (like how much it may cost us and finalizing a location).

Heck, my wife even said if we move forward with this, I need to teach her how to game so she can join in ;)

We're open for input...

Review - Five Ancient Kingdoms - Men & Mettle (Part 1 of 2)

There are three books and one adventure (and dice if you buy it in print) in the Five Ancient Kingdom set, so I'm going to try and go through the books in order. I doubt I'll be able to cover everything, but I'll do what I can.

Men & Mettle is the first volume of the three rulebooks. The default setting is bases off of the Muslim / Arab / Middle East of 800 AD or so (sorry - I don't use CE)

First things first - a small observation: The organization of the rules is not exactly what I'm used to these days, although it is reminiscent of the "Original Boxed Set". Basic explanation of task resolution, followed by classes, followed by subclasses, followed by stats and character generation rules. I'm used to stats, classes, character gen... So, I needed to adjust to the flow of things.

FAK uses d6s for everything. "1"s are read as "0"s all of the time. There are NO exceptions (at least none that I've found thus far). FAK reads much like an OSR ruleset, but I suspect it plays out very differently while retaining a similar feel.

The core classes are Hero (fighter), Magician, Saint (Shaman for those that don't follow monotheism) and Thief. Pretty much the standard fair. What really ups it a notch are the subclasses. There are eight - two per core class. Each subclass's description takes up about 3 or 4 sentences. That's it. It's really a prefect way to handle it if you ask me. Just enough to make them different - not so much that they seem like a whole new class.

Characters have both an alignment (Law / Neutrality / Chaos) and a Motivation (fortune / glory / power / etc). Calling into play your character's motivation can have a mechanical bonus as well as a story effect. Heck, it's mechanics and a roleplaying nudge all in one, which is surprising when the author refuses to label FAK an RPG in the classic sense. I suspect that is much about splitting hairs myself.

The character stats are the ones we know well: STR, INT, WIS, DEX, CON and CHA. Heck, even the order is classic. High prime reqs give and expo bonus, low scores give an expo penalty. High and low scores give an assortment of bonuses and penalties respectfully.

Stats are rolled using 4d6, drop the lowest counting all "1"s rolled as "0". The player may place the scores in any order they desire.

Hero Points are your Hit Points and are rolled each adventure (1 Hit Die per level, roll adjusted by class, all "1"s are "0").

Social Status is also rolled at character generation (and probably should have come before the description HPs, as Social Status is not determined each session but one time only). 3d6, giving a result of 0 to 18 - escaped slave to nobility. Social Status also determines starting gold - multiply by 10 and add 20 (although the example used later in this section neglects to add 20, so that might have been changed).

Last major thing to determine for starting PCs is their starting "advantage". Anything from extra wealth, failed magician apprentice (with some spell use), combat bonuses, story hooks - all are possible - 36 possibilities in all, it goes a long way to making characters unique and the concept easily translates to other OSR games.

Part 2 of the review will deal with mechanics, combats, saving throws, retainers and the like.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hunting Down the "Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle" (D&D Next)

Yep. I did it. I picked up the GenCon exclusive "Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle", a D&D Next Mini Campaign over on Ebay for a surprisingly fair price (less than I paid for RQ6 in paperback at retail last year).

I haven't read it yet. Heck, I have barely peeked at it.

It will be reviewed over the next week or so (I need to read Five Ancient Kingdoms first).

I notice they credit Davis A. Trampier as one of the numerous artists. I'll need to make that my "Easter Egg Hunt" as I read through it ;)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dungeons & Dragons the RPG - Alas, I Knew You Well (D&D GenCon 2013 Presentation)

Sadly, adter watching this video I now know what "Dungeons & Dragons" means - recycled fiction, 2 MMORPGS, lego like ugly ass crap with one recognizable character from the Drizzt series of books and it isnt even him, iOS Battlegames, iOS Boardgames, re-released 20+ year old computer games and if you are lucky there might be an RPG - but that's just to drive sales for all of the previously listed money makers.

Yes, I know this shit is a business, but WotC has gotten so corporate it's scary.

They will never sell the D&D trademark, but perhaps, one day, an RPG titled Dungeons & Dragons will live up to it's heritage in the hands of others.

Micro Review - Labyrinth Lord Gnome Class (Free OSR)

Now THAT'S a Nose!

I really can't make Labyrinth Lord Gnome Class a mini review - as the actual product less it's cover is a page long.

So Micro Review it is.

Magic User / Thief hybrid class that get's advanced (+2 level) thief skills and comparable MU spells for the same level. It's a bit over powered at early levels, but screw it, it's free, right?

My one concern is the lack of the OGL in a product that claims LL compatibility. No impact on gameplay, but I do believe that is a violation of the applicable licenses.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Is D&D Next "Close Enough to Emulate" the OSR, and is That Good or Bad?

I REALLY need to catch up on the latest release of the D&D Next rules, but as I'm sure others already are caught up, I pose the following questions to my readers:

- Are the rules close enough to the OSR to emulate OSR / Old School style gaming - or is this just a simplified 3x with some other pieces bolted on?

- Have they figured out the simple / complex - basic / advanced in the same campaign paradox that they were trying to implement? Does it do what it "says on the box"?

- If it can come close to Old School style gaming, is that good for the OSR in general or a sign of the forthcoming gaming apocalypse?

D&D Next Playtest is Coming to a Close - Is It Actually Done?

Got this in my email this morning:
A few days ago, the D&D team announced that the next playtest packet will be the last in the public playtest. That’s why it’s more important than ever that you provide feedback. Today’s survey focuses on content that was updated in the August 2nd playtest packet, such as feats and classes.
So, if the public beta is done, does this mean the rules are ready to be finalized?

My group tapped out of the playtest in late spring of 2012 and I really haven't followed the updates all that much recently.

I know the initial vision of all things for all editions is pretty much out the window, but for those of you that have kept up with the beta, do you think we have a winner or another loss of market share?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mini Review - Gygax Magazine Issue #2

I guess Two is better than One ;)

I wasn't all that impressed with issue #1 of Gygax Magazine, as it was full of a significant amount of "here's my Old School Cred" and very little material that was worth something to "Old School Gamers".

Issue #2 of Gygax Magazine has measurable value for "Old School Gamers". There are other games represented too (including The One Ring, which is tempting me to sit down with the rules and maybe learn them).

So, what old school goodness do we have?

First, the Jeff Easley cover. Well done and very evocative of the classic Dragon Magazine covers from the mid 80's. It sets a nice tone.

Next up is Leomund's Tiny Shelter - Len Lakofka talks about death in AD&D. A bit chart heavy for me these days, but certainly the type of article you would find in a classic issue of The Dragon.

Jon Peterson has an article about what might be the earliest version of the D&D rules. Yep, he's the guy that wrote Playing at the World. The article is a good chance to see if you like his style of writing. It's a very interesting article at that.

Ken St. Andre +Ken St. Andre writes about ordinary characters in fantastic worlds. No game rules, just ideas and thoughts. Systemless.

The Old School Renaissance gets some attention from +Vincent Florio .You know, the guy behind ENnie winning Mazes and Perils. A decent article to point those interested in the OSR in the right direction.

+Jeff Talanian presents an article on adding some Lovecraftian strangeness to run of the mill fantasy. Or even taking it further, and moving on to "strange new lands" inspired by Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith and leaving the stale fantasy behind. Again, systemless but easily used for inspiration with the OSR ruleset of your choice.

The Blighted Lands are a peek at +Luke Gygax 's upcoming campaign supplement. It looks to be AD&D compatible. The dead tree version will even have fold out maps. My one complaint is that the introductory adventure starts out with three paragraphs of text to be read to the players - my group will zone out some where after the third sentence ;)

Did I mention the very nice maps? I'll be eagerly awaiting my print issue to arrive in the mail.

Heck, there's even a page of Order of the Stick :)

Well, there's other stuff too, but I must say the amount of articles aimed at and usable by old school gamers like me is impressive. Issue #2 of Gygax Magazine has leveled up.

Well done.

Contents for issue #2 of Gygax Magazine

Tactics in Samurai Battles by Tim Kask

The evolution from wargaming to role-playing by Ernest Gary Gygax Jr.

Hitchhiking in Doctor Who by Jay Libby

Leomund's Secure Shelter by Len Lakofka

A forgotten grimoire and its curse by Jon Peterson

From one geek to another by Jess Hartley

Building a winning spellbook for Mage Wars by Bryan Pope

Heroes, kings, and champions by Ken St. Andre

The old-school renaissance by Vincent Florio

Weird vibrations by Jeffrey Talanian

The inkubus by Gordon Dritschillo

The hare and the hill giant by Shane Ivey

Special Attraction

The Blighted Lands by Luke Gygax

The Kobold's Cavern

Super-science in fantasy games by Eric Hindley

Dueling through the AGEs by Rodrigo Garcia Carmona

Lost wonders of Caelmarath by Brian Liberge


Full Frontal Nerdity by Aaron Williams

Order of the Stick by Rich Burlew

Why Do You Go to Gaming Conventions?

GenCon is over, but there are other cons left for the year.

So, why do you go to gaming conventions?

Is it to...

   play games?

   shop the vendor room?

   attend seminars?

   meet various gaming friends?

   meet publishers?

   pick up con exclusive releases?

all of the above? some? none? other stuff?

Let us know...


Monday, August 19, 2013

Mini Review - The Twice Robbed Tomb (Labyrinth Lord Adventure)

The Twice Robbed Tomb is a nice little adventure for LL or really any OSR system of your choice. It's not huge and is probably playable in a single session, unless you have to herd an unruly pride of cats like I do every Saturday night, in which case it may take multiple sessions ;)

Ah, to be a teenage boy w/o
the internet again ;)
I always appreciate it when a publisher includes a players' map, as I run my games online using Roll20, and I hate inadvertently revealing secret door and traps to the players before the proper time. Purple Duck is pretty good with including an unkeyed map for use in VTTs, and this time is
no exception.

I'm not so sure about the level spread. A party of 6 2nd characters will probably get their asses handed to them. I'd personally move the range to 3-4, with 5-6 characters, but that's because I'd hope to see most of the party survive. Maybe I'm not "Old School" enough... heh.

I do like the adventure. Just enough surprises to keep it fresh, some "save or die" moments that give the observant players ample warning and just enough to play in a night of gaming. For 2 bucks it's damn close to a steal.

From the blurb:

The long-disappeared loot of Pheniket the Pharaonic’s tomb was indeed a mere distraction, a few baubles hidden from the looting rebels. The opening of the tomb fifty-odd years ago allowed some of Pheniket’s almost completed efforts to come to fruition, and a demonic being known as a succubus has set up in the uncompleted lower level of the tomb, served by a large pack of ghouls attracted by the necromantic powers of a node of negative energy secured by Pheniket in his last days.

To build her power, the succubus, Invexia, has used her powers of temptation to start a campaign of corruption and seduction, using greed to bring gullible adventurers to Pheniket’s tomb. She knows of the other of Pheniket’s creations, a portal to the Plane of Shadow that he used to control his fledgling kingdom. It is this nexus of power that subsequent plunderers unknowingly seek. She solved the entrance requirement- a certain astrologically-shaped golden key- and is now sending charmed catspaws to ‘sell’ maps and keys to greedy adventurers, bringing loot, prospective undead soldiers, or perhaps even playthings and minions to her spider’s web beneath the Twice-Robbed Tomb…

A Labyrinth Lord adventure for 4 characters of 3rd level, or 6 or more of 2nd level.

First Look at "Five Ancient Kingdoms" ("OSR" Ruleset)

What is Five Ancient Kingdoms? Apparently it's NOT an RPG but a Fantasy Adventure Game. Semantics aside, if you like OSR gaming (and are a bit of a completist) this is probably something you should take a look at.

It comes in with 3 booklets, a short adventure and a set of 4d6. These aren't your usual d6, as where one would normally expect to find a "1" you find a "zero" instead. I need to look deeper to find out how that effects the usual number spread.

So, you get your six "OSR" stats, which are generated using 4d6, drop the lowest and re-roll Zeros. You get the usual 4 core classes (even if they are renamed) and a butt-load of subclasses.

You also get "advantages", which is almost like a prior profession / skill acquisition. You get one randomly determined at 1st level.

Hit Points are randomly determined each session. That's damn interesting.

Alright, enough random observations from the first booklet - time to read this a bit more in depth.

Available in print only I believe, but a PDF version would look nice on my iPad ;)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Just a Wee Bit More Fiction - "The Door" (Swords & Sorcery)

Following up on "The Contract" and leading up to "Who Knows What", "The Door" is the next part of my submission to the Librium Mysterium. Heads up to +Tim Shorts , +Ken Harrison and the rest ;)

The dwarf ran his hands along the surface of the tower door. It was made of stone, but his fingers could feel light etchings along the surface.

“Val” the dwarf paused to spit before proceeding, “as you suspected, this door was made by the hands of my kin. If we open it in the wrong manner I suspect it will lead to death.”

The sorcerer acknowledged the dwarf’s observations by summoning their recently hired “apprentice treasure finder”.

“Meg, have you estimated the height of the tower yet? ‘Cause even if you haven’t, we need your skills here” as Val gestured at the dwarven made door.

The young man scurried down off of his nearby perch, where he had been scanning the tower for additional ways of egress. He failed to find any.

“Why do they call this the Tower of the Purple Sorcerer? It’s not purple, it’s grey.” Ever the observant was Meg.

“It isn’t the color of the tower, but the title of the one that built it. Powerful sorcerers rarely use their birth names and colors often have other meanings. In this case, the sorcerer in question was insinuating that he was of high noble birth, perhaps royalty or the bastard son of such. After nearly 400 years, I assume he is dead. Hopefully his treasure remains. Which is why you are here. Tenkar says the door is of dwarven make, possibly trapped. Time to earn your share lad.” Val gestured towards the door in question.

“Aye lad, I suspect it is trapped. We’ll look for prying eyes as you do your work.” Both the dwarf and the sorcerer made their way to the nearby outcropping that Meg had previously used.

The young man focused himself on the stone door. Running his hands along it’s surface, he felt the nearly invisible etchings Tenkar had found before him. This was no simple lock to pick - there was no visible lock. Instead, he ran his hands along the stone surface surrounding the door.


One. Two. Three barely perceptible raised stone buttons, invisible to the eye but found by well trained hands.

One of these will open the door, Meg thought to himself. The others are probably trapped. Which one? Dwarven door - dwarves are short - the bottom button.

As Meg pressed the bottom stone button a soft “click” was heard from above before the stone door swung down and outward on a pivot approximately 1 foot off of the ground. Meg threw himself to the side, the heel of his right boot ripped off by the falling stone slab.

“Lad, didn’t they teach you to open dwarven doors from the side?” Tenkar asked of the now dirt covered and one boot heel short Meg. “Keep getting lucky like that and you may actually earn that share” the dwarf said with a grin.

“Val” Tenkar let loose a globule of spittle inches from the still prone Meg, “can you shed some light for us before we go in. Place is as dark as a tomb. Which is a good sign, I might add.”

My Family / Friends Went to Gen Con, and All i Got Was a Lousy...

Some of you went to Gen Con this year. Hope you had a blast.

Most of us didnt get to attend.

For those that did, what items did you pick up for friends and family.

For those that didn't get to attend, what exclusives do you wish you had a chance to get.

For me, it was Gaming in the 'Verse for the new Firefly game, but I can grab that for 10 bucks in PDF on RPGNow if I decide I really want it.

The DnD Next exclusive would have been nice, but as I have less desire to even catch up on reading about the updates (let alone download the actual updates and no desire to play) that's a loss that I can easily suffer through ;)

DCC Session Recap - Doom of the Savaged Judge

Last night was our DCC RPG session and our second session since the funnel that kicked things off.

Warning - minor spoilers follow for Doom of the Savage Kings.

The party was in search of the village of Hirot, and were almost there when they saw a large group emerge from the mists - 3 dozen peasants in a mob with a tied and gagged young woman at the front and the town leader and his guards bringing up the rear.

Hail and well met? No...

Halt! What is going on? No...

Instead, fizzled Charm spell at the obvious leader of the armed men, followed by the Wizard stating he's casting Sleep while the Elf states he's casting Choking Cloud on the soldiers.

Wizards rolls a natural 20. Elf rolls... a natural 20. Halfling offers to boost the sleep spell to "all hostile targets in 200'"

Now I need to have the Wizard and Elf roll initiative against each other. Wizard's sleep comes off first. Choking Cloud on the Jarl and his men follows.

32 peasants plus the ties and gagged on - asleep.

Jarl rolls nat 20 against sleep and nat 19 against the Choking Cloud - his men and their horses are not so lucky.

Jarl runs and gets chased down and killed.

Party takes no damage - not even an attack in their direction.

We end the session (which was over 2 hrs of blabbing before we kicked things off anyhow).

I have until next Saturday to figure out the new direction of the adventure.

The Doom of the Savage Kings savaged me, but it was a f'n blast to watch it play out ;)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

And the ENnie Winner For "Best Free Game" is... (Hint - It's an OSR Game)

The Mazes & Perils RPG - Vince and team took home the gold for best free game.

+Jon Marr from Purple Sorcerer took home the silver for Best Software for his Crawler Companion app / software for the DCC RPG (Roll20 got the gold, so you know it was a damn tight race).

Gnome Stew won gold as best website (and best blog - which seems strange but cool too) and Dungeon World grabbed gold for best rules. Lot's of other winners that I don't care much about, but you can read the list over at ENWorld.

edit: Can't find this on the ENWorld site right now, but apparently Goodman Games won the fan choice silver award for Best Publisher.

GenCon 1993 - Looking Back 20 Years to My One and Only - I'm Spell Jammin! I Hope You Like Jammin' Too!

There are certain memories of my one and only GenCon that majorly stick out in my mind.

Meeting the guys at Palladium Games, buying Rifts and getting the core book by Kevin Siembeida and Kevin Llong signed is certainly one of them. They were very approachable guys (even if Kevin S has turned into the C&D Nazi in later years). GenCon lead to the infestation of Rifts in my group for a long time, even if I was never the one to run it.

It's also where I bought Dangerous Journeys, EGG's first major RPG after getting the boot from TSR (Cyborg Commando is far from a "major" RPG).

Then there was the SpellJammer set up that was being run by Slade Henson when I found it. It was a large, space asteroid thing with dozens of miniatures and terrain elements. You chose a miniature and wandered around until you got killed - or something like that. It was impressive.

I observed for a few minutes before jumping in as another player died. I wasn't sure exactly what was going on, but Slade was really hamming it up, so whatever it was, it was fun.

Suddenly, Slade turned to me and said (I'm paraphrasing after 20 years): "You think you can handle running this for 5 minutes? I gotta take a leak!".

That shit-ton of panic hit. How the fuck am I going to run this? I don't even know what the rules are.

"It's simple - high roll on a D20 wins - one hit kills. Play it up, be descriptive. I really gotta hit the can. Just 5 minutes."

So I did it. I actually have no memories of how well I did. I think I was too damn nervous to be able to remember. I do recall Slade was gone for over 20 minutes. It apparently was a bit more than a piss break ;)

In any case, he thanked me and I moved on to the next shiny in the room. But I can say, for about 20 minutes, I ran a TSR event at a GenCon. I just wish I could remember the details ;)

Friday, August 16, 2013

"Dungeon Robber" is Picking My Pocket - It's Stealing Time!

Damn +Tim Shorts for linking Dungeon Robber on G+ earlier tonight.

I've wasted over an hour, Tim! And I'll be wasting more!

Damn youuuuu!

Kickstarter - Myth & Magic Player's Guide Update - Bonus Material Round 1 - New Races and New Class - or - WGAF!?!

Really, WGAF about new material when we haven't gotten the material we were promised? We were promised updates with every 10% of the M&M Player's Guides shipped - and haven't gotten an update since the first mention nearly a month ago.

I sense some Nystulian magic at work...

The update is "Backers Only" but fuck that - leaving the link to the PDF out tho:

Hello Everyone,
As part of the bonus material earned in the Kickstarter, we promised a few races and two new classes, the Runecaster and the Witch. 
For your patience, and for the general reason that we love to create cool stuff, we fleshed out ALL the popular races from the poll and we rocked the Runecaster and Witch!!! 
This first PDF contains a bunch of new stuff. Five of the six new "core" races, some monstrous races, including Thri-Kreen, and the Runecaster class. 
Next week, we'll post the Eladrin core race and the Witch core class. 
After a short time to digest your comments and playtesting, art will be laid out and the whole thing will be delivered as one big shiny PDF of Goodness.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

GenCon 1993 - Looking Back 20 Years to My One and Only - Arrival and Breakfast and Badges, Oh My!

I remember arriving in Milwaukee the night before GenCon of 93. Paul (miss ya lad), Tony and myself apparently got robbed by the car service we used to get from the airport to the hotel (as we were told by a later driver who refused to take out cash).

Our hotel was no where near the venue, but that mattered little. The room was relatively cheap, although we had to remind the staff we had asked for a roll out bed. We were good friends, but not "that" good.

It was a restless sleep, knowing we wanted to get there early so we could get our badges and get inside to the Con goodness.

The next morning we learned something important - apparently New Yorkers are the rarity in ignoring "Don't Walk" traffic signals. The looks we got were interesting if nothing else. The homeless guy picking thru the trash can wished us "good morning" and didnt try to shake us down for pocket change. Truly we were in the midst of culture shock.

We hit a diner for a quick and cheap breakfast (especially compared to NYC pricing) and got on line for our badges. I had signed up for way too many events, including workshops and tournaments and lord knows what, but the biggest thrill was just to be there. We had never seen so many gamers together at one time, and that was just the line for the badges.

I have pictures of that line with us on it packed away somewhere, but the images are burned into my mind, especially the goofy smiles we all had.

The smiles just got bigger as the days went on.

Next - of Rifts and Dangerous Journeys...

Surprises From the Dusty Sky...

In the midst of all of the Kickstarter and other pre-orders that are shipping now to arrive in time for GenCon madness, I received this piece of awesomeness from the mind behind ...and the sky full of dust blog.

I just had to post the magic before I post the more mundane reviews to follow;)

We need more parts to solve the puzzle. Who has the other pieces...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Besides Frog God and Goodman Games, Are Any Other "OSR Companies" At GenCon 2013?

I know the OSR likes to punch above it's weight when it can, but off hand I can't think of anyone other than Frog God and Goodman Games seriously representing the OSR at GenCon this year.

Truth be told, I haven't been paying that close attention. It's been 20 years since my one and only GenCon (there is a post there for later) and I think it's even less about the game playing and more about the game selling these days then it was back then.

Still, I'd love to hear about the other companies / small press that are making their mark at this year's GenCon...

Any Gen Con Plans for Those That Aren't Going?

Are you doing anything to celebrate NOT attending GEN Con 2013? ;)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Thoughts on a "Friday Fanciful Encounters" Series of Postings For the DCC RPG

In case you haven't noticed, I find the DCC RPG art both evocative and inspiring. I've started using pieces of art from the DCC RPG rulebook for the new series of Magic Mayhem Monday posts, two of which have already been posted.

I'm thinking of doing something similar with some of the larger pieces of art. This time, I want to use them to inspire some encounter or room write ups. I've got some ideas for the above piece, but it may not get done by this Friday (the regular job has been running long the last few weeks and will be for the foreseeable future).

Any ideas on how to make this work even better than my basic idea? Anyone want to join in on the fun? ;)

Raggi Posts the Plans for the LotFP WF Referee Book Crowdfunding Project

I'm not sure about this one myself. I really like the LotFP's WF Referee Book and think it would make a fine, stand alone product, but I dont need another copy.

Unlike the WF Rules & Magic Book, this is a read once and done. You dont need it at the table and only the DM really needs a copy.

Also, unlike most other crowdfunded projects, you arent getting the actual book but store credit at the LotFP store (and you still need to pay shipping) to buy the book and perks.

Eh, I'll let Raggi explain (its a lot to read - here's the direct link):

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Referee Core Book: Procedures and Inspirations

Perk Levels

$1 Ref Book Haters
You don't want the Ref book, but you do want some of those sweet, sweet extras, so you can use this perk level to get those and to hell with the Ref book!

$10 PDF
Ref book PDF + PDFs of all stretch goal adventures.

$35 Referee Book Standard Edition
Voucher for the cost of the Ref book + all stretch goal adventures for the LotFP store. You will pay shipping for these items through the LotFP store when the book is released. You also get the PDF. The Ref book will have two bookmark ribbons, exclusive for backers.

$50 Referee Book Exclusive Cover Edition
Voucher for the cost of the Ref book + all stretch goal adventures for the LotFP store. You will pay shipping for these items through the LotFP store when the book is released. You also get the PDF. This Ref book will have cover art by x which will be exclusive to this version of the Ref book and will not be used by LotFP ever again. This version of the book will be numbered! The Ref book will have two bookmark ribbons, exclusive for backers.

$75 Both Referee Book Combo
Voucher for the cost of two Ref book + all stretch goal adventures for the LotFP store. You will pay shipping for these items through the LotFP store when the book is released. You also get the PDF. You'll get both versions of the Ref book, and both will have two bookmark ribbons, exclusive for backers.

$350 Retail Package
20 copies of the normal Ref edition of the Ref book (with the two bookmark ribbons) with free shipping. Notes on additional copies and substitutions below.


These extras are available as add-ons for all backer levels. All prices include shipping and will not increase the shipping cost of your Ref book order. However, due to the weird nature of crowdfunding and how stretch goals and bonus stuff intersects, I am announcing that only 50% of all money put into extras count towards stretch goals.

At the end of every day I will update on what the "Effective Funding Level" is.

$20 T-Shirt

Simple LotFP logo on a color that YOU choose! Sizes Ladies' S-XL, Mens' S-XXXXL. Printed on preshrunk 100% cotton Gildan Heavy Cotton shirts. (add $4 for sizes XXL and above).

$15 12-Dice Set
Opaque red dice with white numbering:
1x d4
1x d6 (numbers)
3x d6 (pips with a Dead Sign in the 1 spot)
1x d8
1x d10 (0-9)
1x d10 (00-90)
1x d10 (000-900)
1x d12
1x d20
1x d30

$50 Slipcase
A nice thick 1.8mm full color slipcase designed to hold this Referee hardcover and the Rules & Magic hardcover (which is not included in this campaign!).

$5 Thulian Echoes PDF
Zzarchov Kowolski (Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess, The Gnomes of Levnec, A Thousand Dead Babies) is helping out by letting LotFP release his new adventure. Zzarchov of course gets a cut of every purchase of Thulian Echoes.

$15 Thulian Echoes Print + PDF
Zzarchov Kowolski (Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess, The Gnomes of Levnec, A Thousand Dead Babies) is helping out by letting LotFP release his new adventure. The print version will be exclusive to this campaign. Zzarchov of course gets a cut of every purchase of Thulian Echoes.

$10 LotFP Note Pad
48 page, A5-sized note pad (with cover artwork by Satine Phoenix!). The first half of the book has graph paper on one side of the spread and lined paper on the other, and the second half has hexes instead of graph paper - perfect for your mini One Page Dungeons and Wilderness needs.
Stretch Goals


This will get the Ref book printed. I'll do the layout myself, it will be proofread by the wife. Very basic stuff that will get the book out the door.
Once this goal is reached, existing backers will get an email with a list of possible stretch goals, and backers will have 24 hours to vote on which should be the next goal. The goals as they stand now:

+$700 Pro Copyediting
The book will go to an outside copyeditor.

+$1200 Pro Layout
Layout for the book will be done by Tigerbyte, who did the layout on the Rules & Magic hardcover, The God that Crawls, The Monolith from beyond Space and Time, and Isle of the Unknown.

+$2300 Full Color Layout
The layout will be in full color.

+$2300 Indexes
A comprehensive index covering both this new Ref book and the Rules & Magic hardcover will be in this book.

+$2800 Developmental Editing
The Ref book is going to be one part advice and procedures, one part game tools, one part inspiration, plus intro material for new Refs. To help everything flow more smoothly and to help create a more impactful book, a developmental editor will be brought on board with this stretch goal.

+$2800 Color Section
A 4 page insert with full color art, like the one that appears in the Rules & Magic book, will be part of the Referee book. This goal may be reached multiple times.

+$3000 Custom Slipcase Art
You want brand new, exclusive artwork for that slipcase? Better reach this goal.

+$3700 Module Reprint
Older, out of print need to be reprinted. Reaching this goal will get one of the following adventures reprinted: Tower of the Stargazer, Death Frost Doom, The Grinding Gear, Hammers of the God. The value of the adventure will be added to the LotFP store voucher backers received so you get it just the cost of added shipping if the goal is reached. This goal may be reached 4 times, once for each adventure.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Magic Mayhem Monday - Holly Hobb's Pipe of Perfect Peace (DCC RPG Magic Item - OSR Conversion Notes in Comments)

Holly Hobb is one of the earliest adventuring halflings of historical record. Holly, who preferred to be called by his last name Hobb, as Holly was unsuitable for an adventuring halfling, enjoyed peace and quite whenever it could be found and even when it couldn't. He would often stop to smoke his pipe in the darkest and deepest dungeons and crypts, in the firm believe that a calm mind led to calm success. Not every creature agreed with him.

Thus it was that he searched out The Blue Wizard, and convinced him to craft a pipe of wonder. The price Holly paid is not recorded in history, but it is believed that a piece of his soul was used to enchant the pipe that bears his name.

In the hands of a non-halfling, Holly Hobb's Pipe of Perfect Peace appears to be an ever ready magical pipe. The tobacco is always fresh and properly packed. Smoking the pipe relaxes the mind. After 5 minutes of smoking the pipe, the PC heals 1d4 Hit Points or 1 point of Spellburn. He must also make a Stamina Save of 12 or better or fall into a magical slumber for 2d10 rounds from which he will not awake until the duration is up. The pipe can be used for healing once per day.

In the hands of a halfling, Holly Hobb's Pipe of Perfect Peace shows it's true powers. In addition to the above healing properties (a halfling only needs to roll a Stamina Save of 5 or better to avoid falling asleep) the halfling can use the pipe to cast Choking Cloud and Sleep each once per day as if he were a Wizard of the same level. Int does not effect the spell check but Luck does. On a failure, the spell is lost for the day as usual. On a roll of a natural 1, the halfling mistakenly inhales too much smoke and takes 1d4 damage and is unable to act for 1d3 rounds as he recovers from the smoke inhalation.

Are There Any Gen Con Releases You Are Anxiously Awaiting?

Amazingly enough, I can't think of anything off hand.

So, what are you expectantly expecting to be released at Gen Con?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Trying to Decide My Magic Mayhem Monday Entry For Tomorrow

I'm having fun designing magic items based on the art in the DCC RPG rulebook.

I have a few possibilities to use for tomorrow's item.

Hmm, 3 out of 4 are staffs or wands this time around. Go figure.

If you have a favorite, let me know. One of these will get stated out for the DCC RPG sometime tomorrow.

Review - Lich Dungeon Level II - A Dungeon Out of Time

When I say that Lich Dungeon Level II is "a dungeon out of time" what I mean is that it doesn't fit into modern gaming sensibilities, even those built around the OSR. It is a product of the late 70's / early 80's, even if it was written in modern times.

What are some examples?

Boxed or highlighted text for the DM to use as a memory refresher / quick description for the
party? not present. You better have a full working knowledge of every nook and
cranny of this level before running it, or your players are going to go back to texting / surfing / talking amongst themselves as you read a single room's complete description to yourself to refresh your memory. Actually, back in "the day" I don't recall many dungeon rooms having paragraphs of lengthy description, which is probably why we didn't need boxed and / or highlighted text for the most part.

A pole-arm random table with 16 possible pole arms? Present. This is more like a small gem and makes me want to break out my AD&D 1e books to see what each one looks like.

No blank spots on the map - every hex is used. Sure, that's how I drew dungeons when I was 15 - but then again, I was 15.

Doors. WTF is it with all of the doors? Level II is the level of doors it seems.

Fun. I can tell Frank had fun writing this. There are many parts that I had fun reading. The thing is, this is one of those "silly" dungeons, and unless your players are in the mood for such, it will get old - fast. If they are in the mood for such, there's lots to like.

Gygaxian ecology explained? Yep

So far for me, it's a mixed bag. The problem I have with mixed bags when it comes to gaming is sorting it out to the point I can comfortably use it. Time to dig deeper for that.

Lich Dungeon links at The Tavern

Free OSR Adventure - Cave of Seiljua (One Sheet Dungeon)

 +Tim Shorts released Cave of Selijua on OBS last September and I missed it that time around. Heck, I only found it because Tim posted a link on his blog about another blogger converting it for use in Stars Without Number.

If you are like me and somehow have been deprived of this hand drawn dungeon now's you chance to grab it for free.

BTW, it's got trolls ;)

From the blurb:

Ragnar has slandered a fellow clansman, but fled before he was brought before the Thing.  The jarl orders the players to return Ragnar...alive.  The jarl believes Ragnar is hiding in an old cave within the wildlands.  A place once hunted often to thin out the horrible creatures that lived there.

This is a mid-level, one page, viking themed adventure.  No stats have been included since I've used the one-page dungeon theme.  Enjoy.

Mini Review - Charnel Crypt of the Sightless Serpent - (AS&SH Adventure)

Strictly speaking, The Charnel Crypt of the Sightless Serpent is not new, having previously appeared in an issue of Knockspell. That version apparently has been tightened up by +Jeff Talanian with new maps, new art and has been updated to the released version of the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rules.

So, how does it stand up?

Pretty well.

I'm not comparing it to the original Knockspell version, as that would require me to dig out my original Knockspells ;)

Charnel Crypt of the Sightless Serpent is a nice S&S flavored adventure. Sure, it's written with AS&SH in mind, but all that really means is that it can be used with just about any OSR ruleset you can think of with little effort. The hook alone screams Dungeon Crawl Classics to me:

All of which reinforces my thoughts on stealing liberally from AS&SH for my DCC RPG campaign.

There are two included maps - the outdoor map for the immediate vicinity of the crypt, and the dungeon map of the crypt itself.

The first map is little more than a tool for the GM and it lacks bell, whistles and details. The second map, the crypt itself, is well done and has more then one way for the party to enter. It's undead heavy, but it is a crypt ;)

I'm really enjoying the art (sample above) as it does a great job of evoking the flavor of the adventure. Were I to run this in Roll20 (for DCC of course - for a party of 2-3 level characters) I'd have the art ready to as player handouts.

Damn, I really want to run this as there is even the possibility (using DCC) of a spell duel, but my DCC party is just 1st level...

Oh, and it should work damn fine as an adventure with the OSR ruleset of your choice.

From the blurb:

An adventure in HYPERBOREA designed for 4–6 characters of 4th to 7th levels. For use with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea™ and other traditional fantasy role-playing games.

A millennium has passed since the Green Death swept across Hyperborea. In that bygone age of pestilence, a noble family fled the City-State of Khromarium. Far beyond the walls of the city, they entombed themselves in order to elude the inescapable plague. Their necromancer placed them in a deep slumber from which they never wakened. Also he summoned a mythical serpent to guard the vault, a beast reputed to shed gems for tears from eyeless sockets. Tales speak of this beast as the Sightless Serpent. Now, a knave of Khromarium claims to have witnessed the legendary beast. For a pittance he will lead your party to its trail . . .

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Majus By Michael Curtis - In Hand and PDF

I think these bookmarks will be Minor Contest Prizes
I was a backer of the Majus Kickstarter by Goblinoid Games. It's a modern magic RPG written by Michael Curtis and powered by the classic Pacesetter System (Chill, Timemaster, Sandman and others). I had lots of fun running Pacesetter games in my college days and having Michael Curtis writing one was icing on the cake.

I woke up to my RPGNow code in my email this morning and returned from visiting my mother in law to find my printed copy in my actual mailbox. It's a good day.

Of course, yet more for me to read and review ;)

Did I mention the non-watermarked layout layout?

Free Stuff Today Only From Purple Duck Games

Today is +Mark Gedak 's birthday, the man behind Purple Duck, and he has put some stuff out there for Free TODAY ONLY:
Following Daniel Bishop example of giving things away on his birthday. I've put the following things written by me up for free today. Get them if you haven't yet. 
Purple Mountain I 
A Score of Trapped Chests
Legendary II: Legendary Weapons  
I wish I could offer something newer but most of my time now is spent in layout and not writing. 
Feel free to share the link so that nobody misses out. 

Review - Lich Dungeon Level II - Old Vs New "Non System Specific" Stat Block

My first introduction to the "Non System Specific" stat block employed by Eldritch Ent was in Lich Dungeon Level I. I found it needlessly confusing for something aimed at OSR gamers and the straight forward stat blocks that are employed in the vast majority of adventures aimed at such systems.

Here is a sample of a stat block from Lich Dungeon Level I which I reviewed in May of 2012:

Painfully annoying to convert, and really, if it's aimed at old school or OSR rulesets, why should one have to convert at all?

Here's an example from the recent release of Lich Dungeon Level II:

The conversion from percentile to straight up plusses based on a D20 are included for you, which is a big step up. Still, it's not easy to read and is repeated in total in the back of the PDF for each monster encountered. That results in on heck of a needless page bloat. The above works well for a bestiary in the back of an adventure, but not when it's used to fluff out an encounters "page space".

Now here's an example from a recent release, The Last Candle:

The above is about the most I want when I'm running an adventure and looking at an encounter or dungeon room or whatever. It also aligns fairly closely to classic stat blocks in adventures.

So, to recap. Lich Dungeon II has an improved stat block compared to Lich Dungeon I, but it's still needlessly bloated. The adventure itself has some charm to it. More on that later.
Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition