Showing posts with label DriveThru. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DriveThru. Show all posts

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Mail Call, Part 2: Another Return to Ravenloft

Ravenloft Print on Demand
Well, I had forgotten I ordered this, but I am glad I did.  Waiting for me on my front porch after getting groceries today was a Print on Demand copy of I6 Ravenloft

It was not very expensive really, just under $9 for the book. I had bought the PDFs when it first came out so I just grabbed the Print on Demand version this time.  Getting both is $2 more than just the print but still cheaper than getting them separate like I did. 

It was about $4 for shipping and a buck something for taxes.  All in all, it came in just $15.   Sure more expensive than my original, but relatively speaking still cheap.

The scan is really nice. Not exactly what I would call crisp, but perfectly clear.

The maps are in the back of the book, as the pictures below will show. So not really useful. But when you buy it with the PDF you can print them out.  

Ravenloft Print on Demand

Ravenloft Print on Demand

Ravenloft Print on Demand

It's not like I needed another copy of Ravenloft.  I have ran it so many times now already I don't think I'll run it again as is.  But it is nice to have this.  It does compare well to my original edition and my 25th-anniversary edition.

Ravenloft three different printings

Not to mention the AD&D 2nd Edition House of Strahd, the D&D 3rd Edition Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, and the 5th Edition Curse of Strahd.  All of which are essentially the same adventure with tweaks to their respective systems.

All versions of Castle Ravenloft

I am likely to give my new copy to my oldest son who LOVES Ravenloft now.  This kid hated anything horror growing up and now can't get enough.

Maybe one day I'll run it with a distaff Strahd.  OR maybe Darlessa?

Monday, August 30, 2021

Ghosts of Albion is a Platinum Best Seller!

I was working on something for later in the week and I noticed something really cool.

Ghosts of Albion is a Platinum Best Seller

Ghosts of Albion

I have a Platinum best-selling title!  I do admit I am pretty pleased by this. This game is my pride and joy. 

Another of my favorites is NIGHT SHIFT which is also moving up in the sales ranks.

NIGHT SHIFT

Silver is pretty good considering we had a successful Kickstarter and sell the book via the Elf Lair Games store-front

Ghosts of AlbionNIGHT SHIFT


Don't forget! The Night Companion is in the last days of its Kickstarter. Love to hit the 5k stretch goal, but 6k would be even better.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

OneBookShelf / DriveThruRPG Price changes

Quick one here.

One Book Shelf

So last week I got a note from OneBookShelf about changes in their prices.  This will not go into effect until July, but I wanted to make you all aware.

This means that some prices might be changing for some of my books.

No idea which ones yet.  My inclination is to leave the prices of older titles the same and take the hit on the increase, but I need to figure out how much that is.  

Also, while I am still picking away at my High Witchcraft book as the last of my "Basic Era" witch books, I have also been mulling the idea of a "Complete Witch" for the new Swords & Wizardry boxed set.

It would be for Swords & Wizardry. 1-20+ levels and contain all the material from all my S&W books. I would put a big disclaimer on it to let people know what they are getting. It would be the class, all the traditions and spells, and magic items.  No monsters unless they are needed (like for a spell).  Same digest size as the S&W boxed set.  Maybe, maybe, some new content.

Thoughts?


 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Review: Spelljammer, AD&D Adventures in Space

Cover of the Spelljammer book
Come back to me if you will to a time just right before the Internet.
(Ok, technically the roots of the Internet were here in ARPANet and what I was using BitNet at the time. But you know what I mean.)  

The time is 1989 and the game on my table is AD&D 2nd Edition.  Well, it is really Ravenloft, because, in college that was my setting of choice, AD&D just happens to be the system that ran underneath it all.  So a couple of points already.  I was playing AD&D 2nd Ed and really all I had the money for at the time was for one setting and that was Ravenloft.  There were a lot of great settings in the AD&D 2 days; Forgotten Realms loomed large and impressive, and maybe a little intimidating.  Greyhawk and Mystara only had some minor entries, much to my disappointment, Al-Qadim and Kara-Tur both looked like fun, and then we would also get Planescape. But there was one out that seemed so strange to me that I wanted to know more but yet could not bring myself to buy.  Until now. 

DriveThruRPGs Print on Demand has been a fantastic opportunity for those of us who want to go back and look at some of these other systems and games of our youth.  While I have relied mostly on the aftermarket to get myself up to speed on the Forgotten Realms (and enjoying it) I recently picked up the hardcover POD version of AD&D's Spelljammer.  And I am so happy I did.

Now don't get me wrong. I wanted to play SpellJammer back then.  We ever started a new campaign where all the characters were in a navy, so they all had 3 free levels in fighter, and then they were level 1 (or 4 for the fighters) in whatever other classes they were going to be.  Using the AD&D dual classing rules meant they could not act as fighters until later. But it boosted their HP.  They were going to spend some time at sea, but eventually, they were going to turn their ship into a SpellJamming one.  I named the ship "The Black Betty" after the Ram Jam song because every time I heard "Spelljammer" I thought "ram jam" and the Black Betty was a good name for a ship.  Sadly we never got very far. I was at University and my DM at the time was at a different school and the other players were also at yet another school. Meeting only over the summer was not helpful for a long-term campaign.

Fast forward to today.

Spelljammer: Adventures in Space

For this review, I am considering the Print on Demand hardcover and the PDFs from DriveThruRPG.  There may be things true of these versions that are not true for the original boxed set and things that might be the other way around.  I can't speak to the boxed set since I never owned it.  

Spelljammer is a whopping 278 pages.  Jeff Grubb is our primary author with art by Jeff Easley, Jim Holloway, Dave "Diesel" LaForce, and Roy Parker.  Easley is responsible for our cover, and indeed many of the covers from this time.  The interior art is Jim Holloway who really set the tone and feel for what I consider the 2nd Ed "style" of that time.  The interior is largely black and white with some color illustrations.  Mostly the pictures of ships, what were covers in the separate boxed set books, and some maps.  The scanned pages are not crisp, but they are easy to read.

The book is divided into two large sections that correspond to the two 96-page books that came in the boxed set, Lorebook of the Void and Concordance of Arcane Space.

Lorebook of the Void

We are introduced to how Spelljammer, AD&D in Space, came about.  We also now know that this was the first of new boxed set settings to come out for AD&D 2nd ed.  More would follow and make 2nd Ed more famous for their settings rather than their rules.  The goal for Spelljammer was overtly a simple one; AD&D in space, connect all the main AD&D worlds, and make them work together without changing what makes each one unique.

This section covers the basics of Spelljamming and operating a spelljamming helm.  We get a good overview of the types of spelljamming ships and that various races that can be found in Arcane Space.  We learn that gnomes and halflings for the most part avoid Arcane Space since they are too closely tied to their planets (makes sense) but Krynn's Tinker Gnomes are not so tied to their world in the same fashion so they are very much at home in Arcane Space. We even get a bit on goblinoids.  

The next third covers the various monsters and creatures you will find in AD&D 2nd Ed Monstrous Compendium format. We are given new details on the Beholders (they take the place of Daleks in Arcane Space) and the Neogi. Mind Flayers also get new treatments.  

The last thrid covers the three main AD&D game worlds, Krynn (Dragonlance), Oerth (World of Greyhawk), and Toril (Forgotten Realms).  The problems begin to show here since the cosmology of Krynn is tied very much to their gods.  This is not the fault of Spelljammer or Dragonlance, but rather one of trying to fit the divine into a scientific worldview.  I will admit I do like how the spheres are covered here.  It reminds me a little of how the solar system of Urt is covered in the D&D Immortals Set.  One could take that information and drop it rather cleanly into this book.  It was not done of course because at this time Urt/Mystara was considered part of D&D and not AD&D.  Even discussions online close to the time described AD&D as one universe, maybe even in the same galaxy, and D&D in a different universe altogether. 

Concordance of Arcane Space

The second major section of the book covers the rules part of Arcane Space.  The first chapter describes some basics of how Arcane Space and the Phlogiston work.  Chapter 2 covers some changes to the AD&D rules.  The first change, Lizard Men are now a playable race.  There are changes to some spells and how clerics can talk to their gods. We also get some new spells.  Chapter 3 covers the ships. How they are made, flown, and the capabilities (armor, weapons, storage) of examples.  Combat is covered in Chapter 4.  Ships are a lot like characters in they have an Armor Rating and Hull Points.  Damage by large ship weapons can deal hull damage and/or hit point damage. Chapter 5 covers celestial mechanics, or how systems are made. While in real-life astrophysics we know that forces like gravity will produce round (or oblate) planets and stars, there is a wide variety of things found even nearby to us.  Arcane Space should be just as diverse if not more so.  Oerth (Greyhawk) is a Geocentric system, Toril and Krynn are heliocentric. There are other systems that can be and should be, even stranger.  We learn that there is a flow to the Phlogiston and that some worlds might easy to travel to, but harder to travel away from.

We also have several appendices.  The first covers how magic spells and items work in space.  Appendix 2 covers travel times with Earth and the Solar System as an example along with Krynn, Toril, and Oerth.  Mystara/Urt can be substituted for Earth easy enough.  Flow can affect travel times.

The last section of the book are the color deck plans of various spelljamming ships. Maps and cut-out-and-fold ship minis. Best get the PDF along with the printed book so you can print these on your own.  A large black-hex map would work great for movement in space. 

Reading it today I can overlook some of the flaws that would have bothered me in 1990.  

Print on Demand Book

The Print on Demand book is hardcover, mostly black & white with some color art inside and color covers. It is a hefty volume on premium paper which makes it a little thicker than you expect a 278-page book to be.  It is very high quality. 

Covers of the Spelljammer bookCovers of the Spelljammer book


Interior of the Spelljammer book


Interior of the Spelljammer book

Interior of the Spelljammer book

Interior of the Spelljammer book

Interior of the Spelljammer book

Converting to 5e

In the first chapter of the first section, some advice is given about converting older AD&D monsters to use with Spelljammer since in theory every monster could be found somewhere.  The example given is the Grimlock from the Fiend Folio, a monster they describe as not likely to be updated to 2nd Edition.

Well. We know now the Grimlock. And updated to 3rd and beyond.   So there is no good reason to assume that Spelljammer will "Never" be updated.  In fact with D&D 5's desire to embrace the past and every world of D&D in their products it is reasonable we will see some Spelljammer at some point.  A spelljamming ship was already placed on a level in a 5th edition adventure. 

But converting to 5e based on the material in this book? Well really there are two main areas of focus; monsters and magic.  Many of the monsters have newer 5e writeups now, so this is less a question of conversion and more of replacement.  Magic, in particular spells, would need some more work but the guidelines are in place.  Similar spells should change in similar manners.  Combat can be swapped out for 5e combat, which not terribly different. So yes, if you are playing a 5e game then you can get a lot of use and play out of this book.

If you have ever been curious about Spelljammer but did not want to pay the aftermarket prices then the PDF is an absolute steal.  If you know about it and want to give it a go again (or for the first time) then the POD version is equally cost-effective.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Review: Stars Without Number, Revised Edition (2017)

Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
A few years back I reviewed Kevin Crawford's Stars Without Number.  At the time I said:
The game is beautiful and there is so much going on with it that it would take me a number of games with it just to get the right feeling for it. The overall feel I get with this game is that it is the perfect child of Basic D&D and Traveller. So much of what made both of those games so great is here.

Is Stars Without Number perfect? No, not really. But it is really, really damn close and even from a short distance I could not tell it apart from a perfect game.

Recently I went back over the game and still found it to be nearly perfect. But I had not played it all that much since then.

So on a whim really I picked up the newest Stars Without Number: Revised Edition and I figured I would grab the Print on Demand as well.  I just go it in the main this past week.

Wow.

That is really the only way to describe it.  Any of the reservations I had about the previous edition evaporated with this edition.  

I am considering the PDF and the full-color Print on Demand version. 

Written by Kevin Crawford, art by Jeff Brown, Christof Grobelski, Norah Khor, Aaron Lee, Joyce Maureira, Nick Ong, Grzegorz Pedrycz, Tan Ho Sim. And what fantastic art it is too!  All pages are full color and each one is evocative and eyecatching.   324 pages. 

Character Creation art

Chapter 1 covers Character creation.  We have seen this all before, but perfect for people new to RPGs or sci-fi fans new to the Classic 6 Attributes and level/class systems. The feel here is solid old-school and SWN:RE wears its old-school and OSR cred proudly.  BUT they are also a new game with new design sensibilities.  For example, character creation is broken down into easy steps.

Stars Without Number PC Sheet
You can determine your character's skills (and these can be from a number of sources).

There are background packages that can be added to classes to give your character more depth and determine some of their skills.  There are also training packages to further define your character.

The classes are the three "archetypes" that you can find in other games, The Expert, The Psychic, and The Warrior. This edition also has The Adventurer which does a little bit of all the above. 

Character creation is a breeze and no one seems to die while doing it. There is even a quick character creation method on pages 26-27.

Chapter 2 covers Psionics.  Psionics are rather central to the background fiction of the SWN:RE universe, so they get special placement.  There are quite a lot of psionic powers detailed here.  So first thing, if psionics are something you must have in your sci-fi game then please check this game out first.  Psionic points always give the powers a different feel for me than magic, so this is another plus really.  These powers are not merely reskinned spells, they have been redone to fit within the mythos of the game better.

Chapter 3 is the Systems chapter.  It includes the expected combat, but also a new twist on the skill checks with Target Numbers.  Useful if you are using the skills as described here, but its real utility comes in how flexible it can be.  I would have to try it out more, but it's close enough to other skill + die roll + mods vs TN that I can see its use in a variety of situations.  What I like about these skills is they are a 2d6 roll resolution system and not a d20.  Sure makes it feel a little like Traveller. TRhis chapter also covers all sorts of actions, like combat (regular d20 vs AC here) and Saving Throws; Physical, Evasive, and Mental. Hacking also dealt with here since it is most similar to a skill check.

This also covers Character advancement.

Chapter 4 details all the equipment you will need including the Technology Level of the equipment.  D&D would be tech level 1 (or so) while we are at TL 3.  The game is set at TL 5 with some artifacts at TL 6.  Time Lords are hanging out at 7 or 8 I would say.  D20 Future and Traveller also use a similar mechanic, so if you want to see how they can also work, checking out those games is advisable.

The standard batch of weapons and armor from sticks and stones all the way up to energy weapons are discussed.  AC is now ascending.  What is really nice about this game is in addition to lasers, energy swords, and computers it also includes Cyberware, Drones, Vehicles, and "pre-Silence" artifacts. 

Chapter 5 gives us Starships. Everything on size, type, and costs to ship-to-ship combat.  

Starship art

 Chapter 6 covers the History of Space of the default campaign setting.  Even if you don't use it there are some great ideas here. 

Chapter 7 is Sector Creation which is just FULL of material for any game.  While this game has a lot going for it, this is the real gem in my mind. This chapter is long, detailed and honestly, it makes me want to create worlds.

Chapter 8 covers Adventure Creation. You have characters, you have created all these worlds. Let's get them together. 

Chapter 9 is the Xenobestiary. AKA the Monster Manual.  Again we are given a lot of detail on how to make alien beasts and then a listing of several samples.  Given the old-school nature of this game you could grab ANY old-school monster book for ideas.  Yeah...doing Space Orcs could be boring, but Warhammer 40k has been doing them for so long and if you wanted to do them here, well the rules won't stop you. This chapter also covers the creation of alien species. First, the hows and whys of aliens are discussed; what to use, where, and why to use them.  Some of this is situated in the campaign setting, but there is some good advice here even if you plan on using your own background/campaign or not even have aliens. 

Factions art

Chapter 10, Factions.  Factions are important groups.  Say a group of allied pirates or smugglers, a government or a band of plucky rebels.   Several key factors when creating a faction are given and there is a huge list of sample factions.

Chapter 11 is Game Master Resources. It talks about character death and when to roll for skills. How to build a galaxy and conversions from First Edition Star Without Number.

Game Master Resources

Chapter 12 covers newer material, namely Transhuman stories.  Or what I call the Altered Carbon chapter.  The ability to move on to new bodies.

Chapter 13 has my undivided attention since it is Space Magic. That's right magic and wizards in space. Not psionics, but real arcane magic. 

Chapter 14 covers heroic characters.  These are not your Traveller grunts or even characters from Star Frontiers, these are your Luke Skywalkers, your Buck Rogers, and more. 

Chapter 15 is True Artificial Intelligence. 

Chapter 16 covers Societies.

Chapter 17 gives us Mechs. 

There is a fantastic Index (sadly lacking in many books).

SWN:RE ups the game in every possible way over SWN:1st Ed.  

Print on Demand

I said this book was gorgeous and I meant it.  The print-on-demand copy I got is sturdy and heavy.  It is also the closest thing I have seen to offset printing in a POD product.  You would have to look hard to tell difference. 

I described the previous version as "nearly perfect." Reading through this version I am only left to say that is one pretty much is perfect.  It does everything a sci-fi game should. I mentally slot different sci-fi stories, tropes, and ideas in while reading through it and I could not find something that didn't have a fit somewhere.

I have read a lot of sci-fi games this month, but this is one of the best.  

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Review: Mutant Future (2010)

Mutant Future cover
I reviewed 1st Edition Gamma World which got me thinking about Mutant Future. I was surprised to discover I had not written a review for Mutant Future. Well, today seems like a good time to do that. This review will cover the PDF and the POD versions from DriveThruRPG.

Mutant Future (2010)

Not to start with, Mutant Future is not really a Retro-clone, near clone, or anything like that.  The closest game it is like is Gamma World.  Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Gamma World has its roots in the dawn of the RPG age and D&D in particular. Filled with mutant animals, plants, and humans of all sorts.

While Gamma World has its own near-D&D system it is not 100% compatible.  Maybe 95%.  Mutant Future doesn't have that issue. It is the exact same rules as its sister game Labyrinth Lord. Plus Mutant Future is not trying to emulate Gamma World exactly.  Mutant Future then is a new game that feels like an old game that never really existed.  Mutant Future does have some differences from Labyrinth Lord. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth much like Gamma World. 

Section 1: Introduction

This covers the basics. What this game is and what to do with it.  A brief overview of dice and common abbreviations is covered.  This largely the same as what we see in many games and in Labyrinth Lord in particular.  Mind this is not a drawback to this game. There is a strong implication here that anything made or written for Labyrinth Lord is also good for Mutant Future. 

Section 2: Characters

Again, there is familiarity here, and that works to Mutant Future's advantage.  The ability scores are the same as Labyrinth Lord/D&D and are generated the same way. The various species or types you can play are also here. Characters can be an Android (basic, synthetic, or replicant), mutant animals, mutant plant, mutant human, or the rare pure human, also like Gamma World. Abilities can go as high as 21 and there are a different set of saving throws, but the basic rules are the same as Labyrinth Lord.  The types also list what HD each character has and how many mutations you have.  

This section also covers gear. It uses a coin system much like D&D and Labyrinth Lord as opposed to the barter system of Gamma World. Either works fine.

Section 3: Mutations

This covers all the mutations that all characters, NPCs, and creatures can have. In true old-school fashion, these are all random tables. 

Section 4: Adventuring Rules

This covers the rules of the game and what characters are likely to do.  Again these are replicated (but not cut and pasted) from Labyrinth Lord.  Mutant Future sticks with feet and Basic movement as opposed to Gamma World's metric and more AD&D-like movement. 

Section 5: Encounters and Combat

Combat and weapons of all sorts are covered. Also covered are damage from stun, paralysis,  diseases, radiation, poisons, and more.  This is one of the bigger departures from the Labyrinth Lord core, the saving throws are keyed for Mutant Future damage types. There is also a mental attack matrix here much like Gamma World.

Section 6: Monsters

This section covers all the sorts of creatures you can encounter. It is fairly expansive and since the format is the same as Labyrinth Lord creatures can be used in one or the other or both.  40+ pages of monsters is a good amount. There are also plenty of detailed encounter tables. 

Section 7: Technological Artifacts

This would be the "Treasure" section in a fantasy game, but this is highly appropriate since the world of Mutant Future is supposed to be littered with the technology of past ages.  This includes non-playable robot types, vehicles and things as mundane as protein bars.

Section 8: Mutant Lord Lore

This covers how to run a Mutant Future game. Not just how to run their own but how to build your world.  Unlike Gamma World which has a sort of baked-in setting, Mutant Future is more open. The Mutant Lord (and I think an opportunity was missed in not calling them Mutant Masters) gets to decide how the world is the way it is.   Advice is given on how to run adventures and a sample setting is provided. 

Section 9: Mutants & Mazes

While it might not really be needed, this section discusses using Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord together.  The rules are remarkably similar, like 99%, so there are only minor pieces to consider. Though this section does expand mutations to the standard D&D tropes of race/class.

All in all this a fine game. It is not exactly like Gamma World, more was it trying to be. It does however give that Gamma World feel in an OSR ruleset.

Print on Demand

The PoD version of this book is a sturdy hardcover that compares well to my Labyrinth Lord books.



Sunday, April 25, 2021

Mail Call: B7 Rahasia, Print on Demand

Got a nice treat in the mail last week.

Module B7 Rahasia

Rahasia is one of the next adventures I will be running in my War of the Witch Queens campaign for Basic-era D&D.  I have a copy of the original B7 version, but I thought a Print on Demand would be nice to have as well.  

I was not wrong.

Interior of Module B7 Rahasia

Interior of Module B7 Rahasia

Interior of Module B7 Rahasia

Interior of Module B7 Rahasia

Back of Module B7 Rahasia

As with all the PoD modules from the TSR era the maps are not printed on the inside covers but rather as pages.  Not a huge deal to be honest, just make sure you buy the PDF as well and print them out at home.


I had hoped that Rahasia's letter had been cleaned up.  It hasn't. But the source version was difficult to read as well.  I had to retype it so I could have it ready for my War of the Witch Queens game.  

To get this once rare and hard-to-find adventure for just under 12 bucks (I paid $11.99 total) is a really great deal, to be honest. 

Rahasia Links

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Mail Call: 2nd Edition Settings

The one thing nearly everyone agrees on is that AD&D 2nd Edition had some fantastic settings.  At the time these settings were new there were so many and I was in college so I never had the chance to play them.  So  I stuck with Ravenloft.  It was a perfect match for me really.  Gothic horror, D&D, what was not to love?  I was always curious about the other settings though. 

Now thanks to DriveThruRPG's Print on Demand service I can satisfy my curiosity without breaking my bank. 

First up the hardcover edition of the Spelljamer Campaign Setting. This had been the boxed set, now it is a quality color hardcover book.   I am used to a high-quality product from DriveThru on their POD but this one is above and beyond.

There are some maps and what had been inserts from the boxed sets that are now printed in the book, so I suggest getting the PDF along with the book to print these out, but the book is just fantastic. I want to try using this with my current games, Basic-era and 5th Edition,  so I hope to report on well it converts over to either of those systems.  

I also grabbed the Planescape Campaign Setting. Again this had been a boxed set and is now a single softcover book.  Again, this set had some great maps and full-color inserts that are replicated here.  This is also a good case for picking up the PDFs as well. 



Both books are really fantastic looking and I am getting a great vibe from these. I would have loved them in the 2nd Ed days. I can't wait to try them in my current games especially in 5e.  Outside of some monsters, I think it could work out well.

In preparation, I even got out my old Monstrous Compendiums to read over. 

I also grabbed some Ravenloft books to replace one I sold and one I never bought.



Domains of Dread is largely as I remembered it.  The one I had back in the day was hardcover of course.  Expedition to Castle Ravenloft is the 3.5 version of the Ravenloft adventure.  I have the other "Expedition" books and this one compares well to the ones I have already.

With the new Ravenloft book for 5e on the way and the ones already out for 5e this will give a good way to see how well they all flow.  In truth, there is little in any edition that can't be converted over. 

The PODs at DriveThruRPG have been great and are getting better.