Saturday, February 17, 2024

Humble Bundle - Paranoia 25th Anniversary RPG MegaBundle

I have many fond memories of the Paranoia RPG, such as: not getting dice in my 1st Edition boxed set and writing West End Games a request for the missing dice. Instead, I got a letter written by Ken Rolsen with The Computer telling me to turn myself in for termination and a secret society transmission interrupting the letter. I remember playtesting Hill Sector Blues one summer evening in the WEG offices in Manhattan, wondering whose desk I was sitting at. I remember my group passing dozens of notes per game session. Those were the days :)

Over on Humble Bundle, they are offering Mongoose's Paranoia 25th Anniversary RPG MegaBundle. 32 Paranoia releases for 18 bucks, including many classics updated to the 25th Anniversary ruleset. Needless to say, I'm all in. Heh. 

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Friday, February 16, 2024

Free RPG - Tomb of the Serpent Kings - (OSR Dungeon Adventure)

Need an adventure for new players to the OSR genre? Need something for a new DM to wet their teeth on? Tomb of the Serpent Kings is what you need, and it's free in PDF and at cost in print.

People keep asking for "beginner" dungeons. Everyone can name "classic" dungeons - Tomb of Horrors, Barrier Peaks, The Temple of Elemental Evil, etc. - but for those adventures to make sense, there needs to be some sort of introduction.

It's like all the adventures we have are Bach concertos. People keep writing amazing works of staggering genius, but someone needs to write a book on how to play the piano.

I had the same questions, and since I couldn't find anything satisfactory, I decided to write the kind of dungeon I would have loved to find. I wanted to write the best basic old-school dungeon for new players that I could, and I also wanted to show the design process. And since people keep referring to it, I figured I'd put up a fancy print version.

Tomb of the Serpent Kings is designed to be easy to adapt to your system of choice to create an old-school dungeon-crawling tomb-robbing experience.

The PDF is free and licensed under Creative Commons NC-BY-SA. Hack it, share it, and translate it (there are French, German, and Spanish translations available on my blog). 


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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Free RPG - Classic Traveller (Facsimile Edition)

Yep, it looks like I'm diving neck-deep into DTRPG's Free Games Section. Not sure when I'll get a chance to come up for breath ;)

Today's Free RPG is none other than Classic Traveller, Facsimile Edition. Yep, the very game you could die in character generation, yours for the amazingly cheap price of FREE! :)

This is the original text of the 1981 edition of Classic Traveller based on page image Scans.

It includes Books 1-2-3, with errata and corrections inserted (where possible; and additional material in an errata appendix). This text is essentially an errata corrected edition faithful to the original Classic Traveller of the early 1980's.

The PDF has been OCR'ed. Margins are upgraded to 6x9 (from 5-1/2 x 8-1/2) for better margins.

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Bundle of Holding - Knock! Zine

For the uninitiated, Knock! is technically an OSR zine, but it is damn near textbook-sized, even if it is also digest-sized. As an FYI, Knock! is 22.50 in PDF at DTRPG, so 17.95 for three issues of Knock! is damn amazing!

Knock knock, adventurer! This all-new KNOCK! Magazine Bundle presents three digital issues of KNOCK!, the Merry Mushmen's magazine for old-school tabletop fantasy roleplaying games. Dubbed "an Adventure Gaming Bric-à-Brac and a Compendium of Miscellanea for Old School RPGs," KNOCK! showcases kickass layouts, dazzling color, and a barrage of articles, essays, tables, rules, maps, monster stats, and adventures that range from weird to – well, no, they're all uniformly weird. Every overstuffed 200+-page issue features the most audacious designers in the Old School Revival. Keep these lavish ebooks close by for perusing, daydreaming, and prepping your next session.

For just US$17.95 you get all three magazine issues in our KNOCK! Collection (retail value $69) as DRM-free ebooks, including KNOCK! Magazine issue #1, KNOCK! issue #2, and KNOCK! issue #3.


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Tuesday, February 13, 2024

DragonSlayer - Bard Class - Work In Progress

Artwork © 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved.

I've been wanting a Bard Class for DragonSlayer since Greg first passed me a Beta Copy of DragonSlayer in late 2023.

Note, the Song/Spell list is NOT complete and needs third through fifth level Songs to be added.


Ability Requirement: Int 12, Dex 13, Cha 15 

Race & Level Limit: Human U, Elf 7, Halfling 6, Half-Elf 8

Prime Requisite: Dex and Cha

Hit Dice: d6

Starting Gold Pieces: 2-120 (2d6x10)

Bards, often also known as Skalds, are the storytellers and lyrists of the world. They are well-traveled, as you never want to perform at the same establishment two nights in a row. 

Role: Bards are secondary fighters and competent spell casters.

Expo Chart: As Per Assassin

Attack Bonus: As Per Thief

Languages: All Bards speak a language which is known as Bardic Cant, a form of poetry and rhyme their songs are cast/performed with. Bards gain a new language at every odd level, starting at 3rd level. The language chosen must be one that the Bard has encountered during their travels.

Weapons and Armor: A Bard may not use two-handed melee weapons. Bards may wear chain mail, leather, or studded leather armor. They may not use shields.

Thief Abilities: A Bard may Pick Pockets and Hear Noise as a Thief of the same level. A Bard may only Pick Pockets when wearing leather armor or no armor. Bards may also use the PickPockets skill for sleight of hand, such as magic tricks on stage.

Font of (Useless) Knowledge - Bards learn things during their travels. This knowledge may or may not be useful, and is often esoteric in nature. The chance for the bard to have relevant knowledge is equal to a Thief's Appraise Skill for that level. So, at 1st Level the chance is 2 in 6, at 3rd Level it is 3 in 6, at 6th level it's 4 in 6, and at 10th level, it's 5 in 6.

Read Languages - Bards have an innate skill with the written word, and pick up bits and pieces of various languages and common phrases during their travels. This skill is similar to the Font of (Useless) Knowledge ability and progresses in skill in the same manner. It can be used to comprehend street signs, store signage, dungeon graffiti, and most warning language, but would likely not reveal much more than the title of a book without hours if not days, of study (DM fiat for the win).

Charm: A Bard may attempt to charm a person, like the Magic-User spell, once per week at 1st level. At 6th level Bards gain a second attempt per week.

Inspiring Performance: Once per day, the Bard can perform a song, poem, or dance that grants a +1 bonus to attack rolls and saving throws to all allies within earshot for 10 minutes. While performing, the Bard can fight, but not cast any songs/spells without prematurely losing the bonus for their allies.

Bards Songs (Spells), Scrolls, and Memorization Limit: Bards can cast songs or chants from the Bard Song List starting at 3rd level, and follow the Spell Progression Chart of the Monk Class

Bards can cast Cleric or Magic-User Scrolls of spells on their song list, with a 20% chance (+5% per spell level) of a miscast or lost casting, due to incomplete knowledge of the source material.

Bards start with two known songs or chants of first level upon attaining their level as a Bard. Bards gain one additional song for their repertoire with each additional level, and may learn additional songs from other Bards (for a fee) or songbooks they may find during their career.

Bards do not memorize their songs or prepare them ahead of time. Instead, they perform songs from their known repertoire at will, up to their limit for that day, without repeating any song during that day.

Bards do not get Bonus Songs for high ability scores

Traveler: May only keep what they can carry.

Bard Song List:

Level 1

Audible Glammer

Charm Person

Comprehend Languages


Dancing Lights

Faerie Fire


Remove Fear 



Level 2

Darkness (15')


Detect Charm


Magic Mouth



Silence (15')

Level 3


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Monday, February 12, 2024

DragonSlayer - A Look at Languages (finding the unexpected)

Languages play a major if unsung part in the Dragonslayer RPG. I noticed this as I read. Unlike most traditional OSR RPGs, not every playable race speaks common by default. Additionally, an intelligence of 13 is required to learn an additional language.

Here are the languages in DragonSlayer spoken by playable race:

Humans – Common

Cyclopsmen – Suul

Dwarves – Dwarven

Elves – Elvish & Common

Gnomes– Gnomish

Halflings – Halfling & Common

Half-Elf – Elvish & Common

Half-Orc – Orcish & Common

So, Cyclopsmen and Dwarves are likely isolationist by nature. Gnomes, I'm not so sure. In any case, as written, PC's of these races will need an Intelligence of 13 or more to speak common.

Integrated parties have some potential issues...

For me, I'd assume that PCs of Cyclopsmen, Dwarven, and Gnomish background have spent time in a human-majority society and have learned common, likely with a noticeable foreign accent.

Sorry, I play most of my RPG sessions via VTT and I'm not a fan of pantomime ;)

Additional languages are spoken by certain classes:

Clerics, Druids, and Monks speak Ancient Common (akin to Latin). Although Paladins and Rangers get Clerical and Druidical spell access at higher level, they do not learn Ancient Common as a bonus language.

Magic-Users and Illusionists have Black Tongue as a Bonus Language.

Thieves gain Thieves Cant.

So, a Halfling multi-classed Cleric/Thief with an Intelligence of 10 (no bonus language slots) would have Common, Halfing, Ancient Common, and Thieve's Cant as their starting languages.

It's similar for a multi-classed Magic-User/Thief, starting with Common, Elvish, Dark Tongue, and Thieves Cant.

Yep, giving Dwarven, Gnomish, and Cyclopsman PCs access to the Common tongue won't unbalance the game, but making it so most characters of those races don't speak common, especially in their own closed societies, makes sense and likely fits most settings.

Time to dig some more...

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Sunday, February 11, 2024

Does the Stat Rolling Method Really Matter?

Does the Stat Rolling Method Really Matter?
This last few weeks I've been seeing a lot of reposts of this picture, almost a meme(?) and it really got me thinking about all of the ways I've rolled up PCs and how much it actually matters.

My conclusion is that it really depends on the game, but players generally want higher-statted PCs, which makes sense because who wants to play a nobody?

Now with the older (I'm thinking B/X) having less than optimal stats weren't a big deal and the difference between a low stat and a high stat wasn't worth getting too worked up over. Of course it felt like there was some stat-creep in later editions and even that made sense to me. With all of this different classes coming out that had specific high(er) stat requirements. It seemed to me that the straight 3d6 (in order) soon moved to a straight 4d6 (drop the lowest) to 4d6 (drop the lowest) arrange as you want. I'm not going to look it up, but I also recall AD&D having alternate rolling methodologies (in the DMG perhaps) to help possibly get players the types of PCs they wanted.

When I migrated to HackMaster (4th Edition) stats went back to straight 3d6, but there was an additional fractional added (so a 3d6 + 1d100%) and you could buy fractional rolls with building points. Of course there was a cost that you maybe didn't want to pay, but it could help you get into that PC class you wanted. Knowing that as you leveled you'd get some fractional increases helped as well and there were some odd circumstances that could build you up as well. For example I really lucked out with my Double Specialist Invoker in that my school results gave me a +3 Intelligence, so I was rocking a 21 Intelligence.

Actually having a PC much, much smarter than me wasn't all it was cracked up to be as I couldn't actually access that intelligence as much as you'd think. Have to answer a riddle? Eff me man, I can't figure it out, but my PC is likely the smartest dude on the continent, if not the planet....he should be able to figure it out.

With the newer version of HackMaster gives you options, but you pay for them: straight 3d6 +1d100% gets you a nice bump in Building Points, swap two stats of the "straight 3d6" for only a 25 Build Point bonus, or just arrange the "straight 3d6" as you like for no Build Points. It also has a rule about if two of your stats are 5 or less or none above 13 you can start over (Shopkeep Rule) otherwise any other valid set of rolls have to be played/used for one session before retiring the PC from play.

For one of my PCs I had just about a set of Gawd-rolls. That kind of sucked actually. I do not remember what the straight 3d6 rolls were, but with the options given I could have conceivably chosen any race/class I wanted. The rolls were good enough that if not for the fact that two other GMs actually witnessed the rolls, I don't think I'd have been allowed to play that PC at someone else's table for fear of being suspected of cheating. The part that sucked about the rolls is that I just had too many options. This was pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I had a bit of decision paralysis about it. Ultimately I didn't make that choice myself. Instead I queried the group as to what they think we needed most, which was a tank. I ended up making the tankiest tank I could: Dwarven Fighter.

I haven't gotten to play this PC in years (kind of sad about it because I had a helluva lot of fun playing this PC, and not because of his ability scores!) but his current stats (mind you he gets some % bumps when leveling) at 9th level are off to the side.

His CON has a +4 bump from race that is offset by -2 bumps to Looks and Charisma. 

Now I'm not bragging about this PC or anything, just I think that there's a lot of range on what can be rolled, methodology-wise and there really isn't a good reason to hate on any particular method. I think the options given are usually there to make playing a PC one wants to play, viable. The simple straight 3d6 worked great when it didn't really matter too much.

Hell, lately...especially at a convention, I've just been rolling some d30's to quick generate stats based on the d30 DM Companion. I think the method used doesn't matter unless it results in too-high of a power level than what the players & GM want to see.

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