Saturday, June 29, 2013

DCC RPG On the Cheap - Be a Player With Little or No Out of Pocket

If you are an OSR gamer like I am, you like your RPGs inexpensive, at least on initial investment.  Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, LotFP Weird Fantasy BFRPG and many others have free PDFs available of their core rules and higher end PDFs as well as print versions.

I like the idea of free or inexpensive initial buy ins for RPGs, especially when one's group plays via Hangouts and the like. It's not like you can pass around a copy of the rules at the table when your players are in two different time zones (let alone two different countries).

DCC RPG is $40 for the regular edition in print and $60 for the limited edition cover and $25 in PDF. That's a significant investment for a group of 7 if all need their own copy, especially when the game might not strike the same chords for the members of the group (it happens). Who wants to pay $25 or more for a game they may only play once or twice?

Here's some resources for players to check out and even play DCC RPG on the cheap (the GM / Judge will need a full copy of the rules):

DCC RPG Quickstart - enough to generate characters for a funnel but little more.

DCC RPG Beta - much closer to the full DCC RPG than the Quickstart (and more useful), but there are some changes, large and small. Probably enough there to generate PCs, so long as everything is cross checked against the full release of DCC.

DCC Resources Page - this is where you find the DCC Reference Sheets, which includes pretty much all the charts a player needs but the spell sheets. With these sheets, one should be able to play a non spell caster without cracking open the book (once you know your class abilities - that's what the DCC Beta is for). Oh, almost forgot - not only are there character sheets here, but many of the spells have been reformatted to fit on a single sheet of paper. Not much here for clerics, but for a low level magic-user or elf, it's golden. Oh, and it's free.

DCC RPG Character Generator - for those days your really need a quick gaggle of zero level humps ;)

Spell Record Sheet - because your spells are personalized in the DCC RPG

The Crawler's Companion - Charts, Spells, Funky dice - it's all here (web, phone and tablet varieties)

One Page Chart For All of Your Zero level Adventuring Needs - Mostly ;)

Thief Skill Reference Sheet - for your thief skills - doh!

With the above and a Judge who has a copy of the DCC RPG in hand, you should be able to get a party though a few early sessions and let the party decide for themselves if it's a game worthy of continuing (and investing in).

(if i'm missing anything, let me know and I'll add it above)

Why Do I Like the DCC RPG?

I've been asked this question a bit recently and decided it needed an answer. The answer isn't an obvious one.

Believe it or not, it's not for the art. I love the art, but that's not what makes the game so special.

It's not even for the awesome maps in the adventures, many of which I'd like to have in a "suitable for framing" print. I've said this part before, haven't I?

It's not the never ending spell charts. I'm not a lover of endless charts. Ever.

It certainly isn't because of a book suitable for stopping bullets and caving in heads. I prefer my gaming books thin and svelte.

Why do I like the DCC RPG despite the above?

Because it recaptures the magic and excitement from my early days of gaming, which isn't easy to do. Hell, if I knew how Goodman did it, I'd actually make some money off of my hobby ;)

Swords & Wizardry Complete captures the feel of how my group played AD&D in my high school and college years and fits like a prefect glove.

Dungeon Crawl Classics captures the magic I felt when first learning to play AD&D. DCC most certainly isn't AD&D and doesn't try to mirror the system, but somehow has found a way to extract the magic of those early days for me.

The DCC adventures keep that magic rolling, and I suspect they would keep much of that magic even were I to convert them to S&W.

Maybe I need to houserule a DCC / S&W Hybrid ;)

Mini Review - The Vile Worm (DCC Adventure)

The Vile Worm is the second in a series of adventures to be published under the Appendix N Adventure Toolkit banner. Like it's predecessor, The Ruins of Ramat, it's digest sized and clocks in at 12 pages.

Physically (as I'm holding the dead tree version as I write this) it's impressive for the $5.95 price tag. The cover, which is removable, hold the adventure's map on the inside. While not as exciting to look at as it's predecessor, it's still a pleasant map with accompanying art. Two player's handouts on card stock round out the package.

How is the adventure itself?

Lackluster. Six rooms and not much to encounter. The Ruins of Ramat squeezed a lot of gameplay into those 12 pages. The Vile Worm, not so much. If you have a short session (2 hrs or so) and need a short adventure, this would fill the bill, but I can't recommend The Vile Worm over The Ruins of Ramat all things being equal.

$5.95 in dead tree (dead tree + PDF subscription for $26.00), $2.95 in PDF.

Tonight I Get to Play Some AD&D For the First Time in 20 Years (By "Play" I Mean as a Player)

My most frequent role in my gaming groups is the GM. It's been like that pretty much since I started gaming back around 1980 / 81.

The times I was a player, it was rarely AD&D. For some reason, others would run Rifts or Battlelords or whatever, but AD&D was my realm to run. No one else wanted to step up, and most of what we played was AD&D.

My last AD&D session was at Gencon, back in 1993 or so.

Tonight, +Joe D is running G1 for our group and I'll be using one of the pregens from the back of the module, and I'm going to game like it's 1993 again.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Review - Monsters & Magic - Part 3 - Taking Action and Refocusing

Actions are, not all that surprisingly, the things you can do whose success or failure comes down to an "Action Check".

So, what does it cover?

Melee attacks, spell casting, finding hidden things (this is your secret door check), non magical healing, hiding and moving silently, helping or hindering another character's action check, intimidation, making camp (this kinda falls into the "why" category, but whatever), making a "touch attack" (formerly known as "hitting AC 10"), persuasion, picking pockets, terrifying someone (wouldn't this fall along the lines of intimidate?), traversing the wilderness (what, no tracking?), tripping an opponent and shooting a bow are examples.

The above come with a short paragraph with examples suggesting the stat you would use to resolve the check. I'm kinda surprised that find / remove traps and picking locks weren't listed examples, as they are certainly more prevalent in "Old School" play than "making camp".

In any case, class abilities, combat situations and situations that might otherwise fall under a general "DM Fiat" ruling get wrapped up nice and neat into the Actions that PCs can make. I've participated in conversations / discussions / rants about DM Fiat in the past, but to summarize my thoughts on it, I think it's one of the things that defines "Old School Play".

Which brings up something that I think needs to be pointed out. Monsters & Magic is not an "emulator" of "Old School Play". You are not going to use M&M to game with the expectation of a 0e experience. This isn't a way to install Windows on your Macbook.

Instead, Monsters & Magic is more like a "translator" of sorts. You get to play your classic adventures in a "New School Environment" with minimal fuss. It's a different experience. It's closer to using Pages in an OSX environment to manipulate a Word document. Maybe not a prefect example, but it helps.

This means I need to do a 180 on my approach to M&M, which had been "how well does M&M evoke 'Old School Play' with modern play additions". Instead, I need to look at "how well does M&M translate 'Old School Adventures' to a modern play system". Two very different questions, and part of the reason for the length of time between the 2nd and 3rd parts of this review as I struggled to redefine my focus.

It's not that Monsters & Magic isn't up front with the intention of being a translator and not an emulator, but the presentation and trappings are certainly old school in nature even if the system isn't.

I'm not sure I'd still refer to it as "New Wave OSR" as I dig deeper, as the Old School is in the translation and not the play. I'm impressed with what I see so far, and as a tool to bring some classic adventuring to players on the modern "storytelling" type of RPG it seems to be on the money. The play will be different, but those coming from outside the OSR probably will never notice the difference ;)

I'll probably hit on "Effects Points" in the next part.

A Hollow Earth Expedition Kickstarter Hits on July 1st - Revelations of Mars

I think I've mentioned before that I've really had a difficult time wrapping my head around the Savage Worlds ruleset. No idea why. I've heard it's simple enough and I own multiple versions of it (and would love to run or play in some Solomon Kane at some point) but it has never "clicked" for me.

The Ubiquity system as first seen (as far as I know) in the Hollow Earth Expedition RPG is about to get some more visibility - on July 1st the Hollow Earth Expeditions: Revelations of Mars lands on Kickstarter.

If you haven't noticed yet, I'm on a bit of a Kickstarter diet - lots of cash tied up in extremely overdue projects. Still, this is one I'll be keeping an eye on, as I am a lot closer to grocking Ubiquity than I am Savage Worlds and I do like the setting of HEX.

There's Little Better Than a Week of Vacation - Except Maybe Reading Zine Submissions Over Vacation.

Well, except maybe two weeks :)

I'm on vacation for until the 8th of July. The plan to head to the Poconos for the first half of the vacation has now changed to the second half of vacation, as my beautiful wife was unable to get off the 1st and the 2nd but has off from the 3rd.

Still, plenty of time for reading, reviewing and hopefully looking over some more zine submissions to Unofficial OSR. You still have more than a month to get your submissions in, but the sooner is always the better so I can guesstimate the number of pages we'll be running at. Fun times. Send you thoughts, questions, ideas, etc to tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom

Hey, being home on Tuesday means I'll be around for my Reaper Bones delivery! Rockin!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Looking Back at the DCC Beta (and Forward too)

I just re-downloaded the DCC RPG Beta rules from the Goodman Games website and see they are dated June, 2011. Kinda makes sense, as the Goodman Free RPG Day 2011 release was for the DCC RPG and for use with the beta rules.

Holy shit but I was not impressed with the beta rules. I'm not 100% sure why that is, but I do remember my disappointment with the funny (funnier?) dice and the idea of the character funnel did not sit well with me.

Oh yeah. The charts. Overwhelming at the time.

Strange how I like the total package these days. Heck, preordered the rules when preorders opened even though I didn't particularly like the DCC Beta, mostly because I trusted Goodman to put out a good game. He did. The DCC RPG is a good game. Damn shame I'll probably never get my regular group to play it.


The size of the rulebook.

They would probably be fine with it after playing a session or two. The DCC RPG kinda get's it's teeth in you and you find yourself a convert. I need to get them to the table first, and convincing the others to invest the time (50 bucks now) and time in this tome is a hard sell. Especially to OSR players who are used to the try and then buy method.

So, I was thinking of directing them to the DCC BRPG Beta download, but I know the game has strayed from the beta a bit. Experience points is the one thing that sticks out mostly to me but I know there are other parts that changed. Did anyone ever put together a document that explains the changes?

I wonder how useful it would be to update the beta to the final rules, so less a beta and more of an introduction to the rules. It might be too labor intensive, but if not, it may be a great way to expand the DCC RPG player base. If you are going to do it, now is the time, before "Next" becomes the next big thing - or not ;)

(what is it with "summer" and DCC for me? heh)

Mini Review - Crawl! #7 (DCC RPG)

I misplaced Crawl! #7 after it was delivered without reading it. Actually, for a while I was doubting that I even ordered it. I found it yesterday :)

Dak continues to do a fine job with Crawl! and I really like the fact that much of this issue is easily transportable to other fantasy RPGs with little if any conversion if needed. Don't believe me?

Kirin Robinson's "Lost in Endless Corridors" is an article about using mazes to drive your PCs crazy. Stat free and good with any RPG system.

"Roguelike Fountains" by Thom Hall is about, you guessed it - magic fountains. Some parts of the tables may need minimal conversion, but there is a lot to like here for any OSR game. A d30 would help, but that's the first weird ass die I owned way before the DCC RPG ;)

"Consider the Ogre" by Sean Ellis is an article about making Ogres "fresh and mysterious". It's an awesome article and nearly worth the price of admission on it's own. Works with any OSR system

Jeffrey Tadlock gives us "Critical Table T: Traps". Use it for inspiration and you can simply pick and chose what works in your game without conversion. I'd use the crit table in place of the regular trap damage in a game like S&W just for the flavor. Probably more valuable for DCC referees.

"Shadowsword of Ith-Narmant" by Jurgen Mayer is a sword with awesome flavor, lots of power and one hell of a price to pay. It would work very well in a LotFP Weird Fantasy campaign with some conversion from the DCC RPG specific mechanics.

"My Gongfarmer Can't Do Shit!" by Paul Wolf is a one page article on how to make your zero-level profession useful in later levels. Pretty system specific in nature.

Crawl! is consistently one of the highest quality zines being published these days and it's available in digest sized print and PDF for the unbeatable prices of $3.95 shipped in digest size and $2.95 in instant gratification PDF.

You owe yourself an issue of Crawl! no matter what RPG system you play.

New DCC RPG Podcast - Spellburn

Consider me very pleasantly surprised with the Spellburn podcast. There are 3 episodes out and I've listened to 2 1/2. It's just damn fun to listen to and I listen to a wide range of gaming podcasts.

Yeah, they do the same damn stichk as the others on the same network - "This is DM Dip and I'm DM Stick" but they use the "ref" term from the DCC RPG and then seem to forget it, which is good.

Why is it good? Because they sound like a bunch of knowledgeable guys talking about the hobby they enjoy and aren't going out of their way to impress. They sound real, both in their manner of talking and in their enjoyment of the DCC RPG. I suspect it's a fine listen even if you don't play the DCC RPG, although you might be tempted to after listening for a while.

Now, can they keep that realness going without turning into voices reminiscent of minor market radio personalities? I hope so ;)

Kickstarter Question - Why Does it Seem That For Every Kevin Crawford There's a Half Dozen "Nystuls" Looking For an Easy Score?

Alright, maybe a half dozen "Nystuls" is an exaggeration.

Still, while most RPG Kickstarters fall into the realm of "terminably late", the severe fuck ups like Nystul greatly outnumber the +Kevin Crawford s of the Kickstarting world.

Shit, I'm still waiting on my Myth & Magic Player's Guide - maybe we need to send someone to the Boston area to bid on the storage unit the books are supposedly in - because it's been over two months since the last update and those books are still sitting somewhere - then again, we've only seen pics of a single book.

Far West, Quantum RPG, Axes & Anvils, Infinite Dungeon... fucking sad state of affairs.

Notice how few new Kickstarters I talk about these days? I don't kick in to the very end if I even do. Too much tied up in projects that are spinning their wheels.

But Mike is special - Oh For Three!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mike Nystul the Fiscally Incompetent Washes Himself Clean of Yet More Responsibility - Passing the Buck on Cairn

Lets see. Mike ran out of money (which was probably shortly after he received the Kickstarter funds which were spent on his own personal fantasy - Castle Nystul - and a pointless Dwarf Con) without producing anything for his three Kickstarters (oh, almost forgot his scamming through Indiegogo after the fact).

At best, Mike is a foolish, incompetent, idiot that should never be allowed near adult responsibilities again. At worst, he's a thief.

Mike's found a sucker partner to take responsibility of The Infinite Dungeon. Mike claims to be getting the mini rewards together, but the last update was a month ago. Don't expect much from Mike's side of this.

Two weeks ago Mike promised a playable PDF of the Axes & Anvils game. It isn't here yet and again, don't expect physical rewards. The money was spent on staff for the company that can't complete a product.

Today's announcement is for Cairn. This is where I tapped out on Mike, as it was his third Kickstarter with nothing in hand and warning bells went off in my head. Guess what? He has signed over the property to a third party that will complete the project and will offer it in print to backers (just pay shipping & handling) but the Kickstarter promises and stretch goals all remain with Mike.

Is it better than getting nothing? Sure. Is Mike still a fuck up that lived up to his namesake spell in AD&D 1e? You tell me.

Oh, here's part of his Risks and Challenges part of the Cairn Kickstarter. Talk about lying through your teeth:
We have the game in hand being edited even as we speak. The art is mostly blocked out and is being inked. The cover is done, layout has been designed and we are all set to put the thing together as soon as it looks like we have the backing we need.
Here's today's Cairn update:
Dear Cairn Backers, 
Real, substantial news has been a long time coming. I hope here to clear up a little of the confusion around the Cairn Kickstarter, let you know what’s going on, and what’s coming up next. 
First, this is not Mike from Castle Nystul. I am Ross A. Isaacs; some of you may remember me from a previous update. I have freelanced for Chaosium Inc., Holistic Game Design, White Wolf, and AEG, and I’ve been employed as a full-time employee at Last Unicorn Games and Decipher. I am a seasoned professional with a proven track record for producing quality game products. 
My involvement with Cairn, up until this point, was as a freelance writer and editor. I joined the project in 2012 because I truly felt it was a wonderful game in a unique setting, and brought something new, fresh, and charming to the tabletop gaming world. 
When Castle Nystul announced that all of the capital from their three Kickstarters (Axes & Anvils, Nystul’s Infinite Dungeon, and Cairn) had been exhausted, I was as surprised as you. All three projects were effectively on hold, waiting on whatever solution Castle Nystul could craft, which could mean potentially months (or even years) until new funding could be secured. 
Mike was looking for a solution. I decided to step up and do something. Which is why I’m writing to you today. 
Cairn is a wonderful title with a great deal of potential, into which the writers and contributors have poured a great deal of themselves. It’s a truly delightful family-oriented game. It’s a game that you’ll be happy to play with your kids. 
You want the game. I believe it deserves to be out there. So I’m going to make that happen. 
When it became clear that the Cairn rights were available, I approached Mike about transferring the intellectual property -- the writing, artwork, and any future Cairn projects. He agreed, and we’ve negotiated a settlement. The Cairn title is in capable hands and hopefully my industry pedigree reassures you in that regard. 
I am forming a small, independent game publishing company with help from a few of my friends. 
The Bad News 
You might have read a few things in various places, or been told the status of the project outright. I’d like to draw a line in the sand and look forward, not backwards.
We had a version Mike was considering publishing in his rush to get something out. But the work stopped when the money ran out and the net result is not something I am comfortable bringing to market. Moreover, key elements were left on the cutting room floor and two chapters have yet to be written. The book is not finished nor is it in layout. 
All of the funds raised by Castle Nystul’s three Kickstarters is gone. Getting Cairn into print will be at my own expense. As I am sure you will agree, this is quite the financial undertaking. I hope you will understand that any promises made by Castle Nystul during the crowd-funding process remain with Castle Nystul. This means that no other perks can come from my company. I simply do not have the money to cover the production costs for the plushies, the miniatures, the storybook, the hardcover Cairn rules, and so on. 
I am taking on the Cairn IP and future publishing rights. I am not taking on the responsibilities of the Cairn Kickstarter.  (emphasis mine)
But There’s Good News… 
I’ve got a large personal investment in this that is about to get even larger. I have good friends and family who have invested in the project. You paid Castle Nystul for a copy of Cairn. I want to make that happen. Call me “old fashioned” but I believe this is just the right thing to do. 
I am therefore offering all of Castle Nystul’s backers a FREE copy of Cairn from the first print run. I will have to ask you for shipping, but I assure you that it will be for whatever I have to pay to get the book in your hands. And I’ll be offering pickup of your copy from future conventions where Cairn has a presence (wherever possible). More details on this to come. 
I understand that you might not be happy with this. You’ve already paid money, and gotten nothing for it. All I can do is get you the roleplaying game you were promised. It’s the best I can do. 
If you want your FREE copy of Cairn, please email souljar.info@gmail.com
What Happens Now?  
To the beginning of August, I will be finalizing Cairn writing and artwork. Layout is slated to begin on the third week of August. 
In mid-September, the layout should be done. I will provide you with a PDF at this time. The book goes to the printer. 
Printing should be done by the third week in October. 
Any Cairn backer who wishes to get a FREE copy (plus shipping & handling) will be sent their book at the end of October. 
If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will address your concerns as openly and honestly as I can. From now on, please visit http://www.souljar-games.blogspot.com/for further updates and information on the Cairn RPG. Thank you. 
Ross A. Isaacs
Ross, God bless you for taking part of this project over but I'm glad I don't have to pay shipping for something that was already paid for.

Games From the Basement - Space 1889

Strangely enough, I don't think I ever really read the rules to Space 1889, let alone ever tried to get my group to play it. Heck, it's not like the John Carter books were on my list of things to read - knew about them and had no interest at all.

Why I spent 30 bucks on this in the late 80's I really have no idea. 25 years on the bookshelf and I looks like I just bought it.

Maybe I should read it some time (there's a recent Savage Worlds adaptation of this if I recall correctly)

Timothy Brown to Release "Spiritual Successor" to Dark Sun - Dragon Kings

You know what?

I wish there was more to this press release than is given, as I enjoyed Dark Sun back in my 2e days and I'd love to see what Tim Brown has in store:

Hello, I’m Timothy Brown. 
I’ve made games for many years, including the Dark Sun universe, the science-fiction setting 2300AD, and most recently the End of Nations computer game. 
I’m also a musician. I’ve played with a number of bands, including Head East (if you’re an old classic rock fan, you’ll remember them). I’m a big Rush fan, too, and I always wanted to make my own 2112. 
I’m creating a new role-playing game universe that I want to conceive in fiction, art, and music all at the same time. I’m calling it Dragon Kings, and it will be my ‘spiritual successor’ to the fantasy setting Dark Sun. 
Khitus, the World of the Dragon Kings

Right now I believe that will include: 
· A progressive rock CD
· An art-intensive ‘album’ or ‘concert’ style book that expands heavily on each song (with lyrics, more stories, maps, specific art, etc.)
· A hardbound game book 
That’s the plan! 
Watch this space. I’ll be putting up ideas and art, even scratch tracks and finished songs as we go along. I’m recruiting a lot of old friends to contribute, and some really talented people who I’m working with for the first time, too. 
It’s going to be a journey, kind of an adventure in itself, and while I have all the basic concepts designed now there’s still a long way to go. 
The collaboration with other talented people is just beginning, and those aspects of the world are starting to take shape. I’ll tell you one thing: I haven’t had this much fun in years! I think you’ll enjoy it, too, and look forward to sharing it with you as it comes to life! 
Timothy Brown
May 2013

If you enjoyed Dark Sun, you’ll enjoy Dragon Kings, as well.
I'd like to know if this is going to be a new system, OGL based or some other type of ruleset.

Not so interested in the progressive rock album, but ya never know.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tunnels & Trolls Contest Time - Signed, Limited Edition T&T 1e Reprint With Typo to be Given Away

Take a close look at the cover of this Tunnels & Trolls 1e Reprint and you'll notice a typo. There are only 10 such copies in existence and thanks to the generosity of +Jason Paul McCartan I have two such copies. One is personalized to me by the great +Ken St. Andre (that's mine) and the other is signed with a note from Ken.

That second one is the one I'm giving away.

What do you need to do to one this rare piece of Tunnels & Trolls memorabilia?

Simply tell us why YOU deserve it. Be entertaining. Make it fun, as that is certainly what T&T is.

I'll leave this post's comment section open for your entries until midnight, Friday June 28th, 2013.

At that point, Jason and I will decide on the winner (shared responsibility Jason). I may have something or other in my collection for a runner up - I need to check the prize closet ;)

How Important is Art in an RPG Product?

Yeah, I know this is a very individual taste type of question, but then most opinion questions are.

When I look at released from Godman Games or LotFP, one of the things that really stands out is the art. It's not just good or damn good, frequently it's of the "holy shit I want a print of this to fram and hang on my wall" type of quality.

Good art isn't cheap. Well, it can be, but not if you are paying something close to what it is worth. Art will certainly effect the bottom line of a product.

So, when it comes to art in the RPG products you by, how importnat is it to you compared to the rest of the product?

Thoughts on a DCC RPG "Basic Box"

The DCC RPG rulebook is "friggin' 'uge!" Hell, it's damn near intimidating.

The reality is much of that size is due to the numerous spell charts, but until you open the book up you might not realize that.

I think the DCC RPG might be well served by a "Basic Box" or "Basic Set".

Levels 0-2 only.

A small, handpicked selection of spells.

Humans only to keep the class selection simple.

A zero level funnel, two short first level adventures and a short second level adventure - just enough to entice players to move on the the full rulebook.

Everyone knows boxed sets look nice on store shelves, and if the funky dice were included it really would be a complete introduction to the DCC Game.

Hey, a man can dream, can't he?

It's a better option in my opinion to putting out the core book with a new cover every 6 to 9 months...

Monday, June 24, 2013

I Love the OSR Extremes - Swords & Wizardry and Dungeon Crawl Classics

I almost went with "like", but I like nearly all of the systems in the OSR realm of gaming. I fucking love S&W and the DCC RPG, and they seem like such polar opposites.

S&W is concise and simple and if it weren't for spells could probably be run with just the adventure in hand after the DM has a few sessions under his belt. It feels very close to AD&D 1e as we played it back in the day, especially when you add in the classes from S&W Complete (and maybe houserule the stat adjustments just a wee bit).

The DCC RPG is almost nothing like my AD&D 1e of old, and yet it evokes much of the same magic and excitement of my early days of roleplaying. Every spell is something new and exciting. Fighters with their Might Deeds can push things beyond anything I could have accomplished in my days of old. Magic-Users are truly magical. The book can be intimidating, but so was the AD&D 1e DMG.

And then there is the DCC RPG art. Holy fucking shit, the only other publisher that even comes close is LotFP. I love the art because it reminds me of the awesome art I saw as a teenager in the Player's Handbook.

So, what do I run on a mostly weekly basis? AD&D 1e / OSRIC. Notice that both of the systems I mentioned evoke feelings of AD&D 1e for me?

Coincidence? I think not :)

ConTessa Video Panel: WTF is the OSR?

I had no idea this panel was going on last night or I would have watched live and annoyed the panel with questions and comments like I did with the Marketing Your Game panel.

It's an interesting video to watch and in a way I'm happy to see no one can really agree what the OSR encompasses. I like a little anarchy in my OSR ;)

There were shouts out / mentions / praise of folks like +matt jackson , +Stuart Robertson and +James Raggi to name a few (much praise for the Referee Book for LotFP Weird Fantasy, ans I've been praising that for years it seems).

Nicely done all :)

What Are the Best Judges Guild Products?

Serious question.

I have a handful of Judges Guild stuff in print (Rat on a Stick, some RQ stuff, a EotPT adventure) and I'm now checking out the Wilderlands in PDF.

What's the stuff I should be setting my sights on?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Would You Believe I Never Owned The Wilderlands of High Fantasy From Judges Guild...

I have the 3e boxed set of the Wilderlands that was released by Necromancer and I have a handful of Judges Guld Products, but I never owned the originals.

I still don't, but I just grabbed the map pack in PDF for $10 off of RPGNow and I think I've found a new love.

Current game plan is to snag stuff in PDF from RPGNow first, then decide if I should hunt for certain items on Ebay.

I need to buy ink for my printer too, as there are like 90 pages worth of maps to print out.

Hell, 3 bucks for the Wilderlands of High Fantasy booklet in PDF? (maps not included) No brainer. I think I'm in trouble...

Mini Review: DCC #74 - Blades Against Death (Level 4 DCC RPG Adventure)

I'm trying hard to get through a huge backlog of reviews and I've noticed I have fallen behind on Goodman Game's latest DCC RPG releases. In part when it comes to the DCC RPG, I haven't had an opportunity to run a session since last fall. Summer is here, and I'm hoping to squeeze in some random DCC RPG as my schedule permits.

First, let me start out by saying that Blades Against Death oozes with atmosphere. It also reminds me that the DCC RPG needs a setting of sorts to place the official adventures in, as they feel disconnected otherwise. Sure, when I started gaming and DMing over 30 years ago, I never had a setting and the players went from adventure to adventure without worrying about the nebulous connections. I'm 30 years older - show me a setting please ;)

On to the adventure. If you're working from the PDF like I am, I don't care if your are reading from your computer screen or a tablet - print out the two maps. Seriously. This applies to most adventures no matter the system, but the maps really help you visualize the accompanying descriptions in Blades Against Death. Of the two maps, the second one is definitely suitable for framing. +Harley Stroh tell Joseph that some of us want to buy these maps as prints suitable for framing.

It takes some mental adjustment on my part to remember that level 4 in the DCC RPG is somewhere around level 8 in other OSR games based on relative power and rate of advancement. The fact that much of the first part of relies on stealth (or at least, the attempt of stealth before it all goes to shit) is something that I'd really enjoy playing through, both as a GM or as a player. Success in most DCC RPG adventures relies upon brains (and luck) as much as it does combat - this is no exception, especially the first half.

That is one of the nice things about this adventure - it feels like two interwoven adventures and you get your monies worth with this one.

Blades Against Death is most certainly a "two nighter" as the first part has it's own climax (assuming the PCs are successful) before they land in more trouble. Actually, the second part has even more atmosphere than the first part. The players have a chance to cheat Death himself, and that's no small task. I am sorely tempted to convert this adventure to OSRIC just to give my players an entertaining side trek from Rappan Athuk. Heck, I could probably do it on the fly if needed. Damn, I'm derailing myself here...

Eh, I'm derailed. The blurb will have to suffice for the rest:

Punjar: wide-eyed madmen stalk the streets pronouncing the end of days, mail-clad priests crush the skulls of heathens underfoot, and timorous virgins are offered up in sacrifice within sooty temples. But even the greatest of shining temples and the strangest of mystery cults don’t dare to challenge the terrifying finality of Death.

Until now. In Blades Against Death, the adventurers cross between the realms of the living and the dead, and wager their souls in a desperate bid to steal a soul from Death’s hoary grasp. To win over the God of Dooms, you must be the most daring, stalwart and cunning and – when all else fails – willing to test your blades against Death!

A mid-level adventure for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game, Blades against Death offers characters a once in a lifetime escapade. Those that return from the Realms of the Dead will have earned the true title of adventurer, while those that fail will spend eternity in Death’s service.

Games From the Basement - Steve Jackson's MAN to MAN (Fantasy Combat from GURPS)

I remember using this for small unit skirmishes when we only had two or three players show up for a gaming session.

There was more than enough here to get me warmed up for the full GURPS release shortly after I found this. Even though I ran some GURPS Fantasy back in the day, I don't think any of us in the group fully understood the magic system (a problem we also had with sorcery in RQ3)

MAN to MAN even came with free "Cardboard Heroes" Miniature - I still have them in the ziplock in the back of this book.

BattleTech: A Time of War: Quick-Start Rules (Free RPG Day 2013) (Free PDF)

It looks like the Free RPG Day 2013 PDFs are trickling out.

BattleTech: A Time of War: Quick-Start Rules (Free RPG Day 2013) is available over at RPGNow for the price of FREE.

Time to grab my copy...

There is Now an OSR Forum Sub-Section at ENWorld

Now, before anyone goes on about ENWorld in general (I've seen the rants - heck, I've written some of them), this specifically can only help our little corner of the D&D Universe.


Because unlike other forums such as Dragonsfoot, Knights & Knaves and others that are already preaching to the choir, having a sub-forum for the OSR on ENWorld can only add to the visibility of the OSR. As the D&D Brand transitions from 4e to Next we have an excellent opportunity to showcase the type of gaming the OSR is known for.

I haven't been a big forum guy since I started blogging, but I'll have to change my habits slightly and check on the OSR forum over at ENWorld a few times a week. It's just a shame I didn't notice this before today, as it's been live since May 12th.

(yeah, there are older OSR posts in the OSR Forum, but the actual sub-forum - not just the "tag", went live last month)

Looking For a Bargain Price on "Dyson's Delves" in PDF?

Hell, I have the dead tree version of Dyson's Delves and I'm hankering for the PDF for easy integration of the maps into Roll20 (and I really don't want to write in my dead tree version).

Dyson is working with the Delvers podcast to offer a 25% discount on the Dyson's Delves PDF.

More info at the Delvers Podcast site. While you are there, listen to the podcast. It's the best produced "real play" podcasts I've listend to.

First Look - Shotguns & Saddles (Classic Western OSR RPG)

With Shotguns & Saddles+David Bezio (he of X-Plorers fame) brings the American Old West genre to the OSR. There are some notable changes to the system most of use are familiar with, which is why I'm making this post a "First Look"and not a mini review (that will come later). I want to look at the core of the system David is presenting in Shotguns & Saddles.

There are 12 attributes in S&S, not the usual 6 (or 7 for the 2e crew). Athletics, Book Learning, Fighting, Frontier, Grit, Horsemanship, Perception, Presence, Shooting, Stealth, Strength, and Quickness. Some of them are obvious reskins of OSR attributes, others aren't. Rolls range from 3-18 which then get converted to a score from -2 to + 2

The Background table adjusts 2 to 4 of these attributes by +1 depending on your roll. A Teacher would get bonuses to Book Learning and Perception while a Railroad Worker would get Frontier, Grit and Strength.

How fast you more is determined by athletics and a high quickness will help with your Defense (kinda like your AC, but as you don't wear armor, it also gets better with leveling).

Hit Die size is determined by you Grit score.

There is even an alignment system, but it is labeled by hat color: White Hat, Brown Hat, and Black Hat. You can probably guess the generalities of how the hat colors are defined.

You also get a randomly determined Special Ability which helps differentiate your PC from the others.

So, much of the above seem familiar enough and I doubt the the transition would be all that hard. I'll review this when I finish my way through the rest of it. I'm really hopeful that converting some Deadlands stuff, at least in a general sense, shouldn't be too hard.

Mini Review - The Ruins of Ramat (DCC RPG Adventure)

I recently received my dead tree copies of the first two Appendix N Toolkits - The Ruins of Ramat and the Vile Worm. With this post I'm taking a look at Adventure Toolkit #1, The Ruins of Ramat.

Right off the bat, I need to mention that the quality of the map is right up there with the best of the Goodman Game DCC RPG Adventure releases. You know how I harp about wanting to frame some of these awesome maps as prints? The copy of The Ruins of Ramat I unwrapped (I'll be giving some away in a contest later this summer) came with two wrap around covers. That means it has two wrap around maps on the inside of the cover. One for use in game, one for me to frame. +John Adams , the Lord does work in mysterious ways sometimes ;)

It also comes with two full page player handout inserts on cardstock. I always enjoy player handouts, so this is very cool. In the PDF version they are easy enough to load up in a application like Roll20 or print out as needed.

Regretfully, the player introduction is cut short, but as it is basically the same hook that's on the back cover of the adventure, it's omission isn't a huge issue. Still, here's the two paragraphs complete from the PDF version (the rear cover also refers to 4 handouts - there are two - the rear cover of the PDF version correctly refers to 2 handouts):
It is mid-spring, the time when the land’s rulers and their men-at-arms go to war with
their neighbors. Nearly every able person is already involved in such conflicts, or helping the remaining militia protect the local village. 
A little girl comes running and crying into the center of the village. When questioned, she sobs that she and her dog were playing just outside of town, by Rose Hill, when a giant,clawed creature came up out of the ground and took her dog. The girl is completely terrified and her dog, which never normally leaves her side, is nowhere to be seen. You and your companions volunteer to look into the matter. (the last few words are the ones cut off)
The adventure itself is relatively tame for a DCC 0-Level funnel. By that, I mean that I'd expect a sufficient number of survivors without the need of mid adventure 0-Level "recruits" ;)

$5.95 for the print version of this a well worth it ($2.95 in PDF).
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