Showing posts with label osr. Show all posts
Showing posts with label osr. Show all posts

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Witch for Swords & Wizardry White Box

It's 13 days till Halloween.
What better way to celebrate than with



A complete set of rules for the witch class for the Swords & Wizardry White Box RPG.

Inside you will find:
  • The Witch Class (levels 1-10)
  • The White Witchcraft tradition
  • 183 witch spells
  • 76 brand new spells
  • 18 monsters 
  • New treasure and magic items

All for your Swords & Wizardry White Box old-school games!

And 100% compatible with all my Swords & Wizardry witch books/traditions.

Cover art by A.E. Short.
Some interior art by Anna Marine:



Available NOW in both PDF and Print on Demand formats.


Joyous Samhain and Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Bunnies & Burrows 3rd Ed.

It's been some time in the making, but Bunnies & Burrows 3rd Edition is coming from Frog God Games.

Bunnies and Burrows 3rd Edition


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/froggodgames/bunnies-and-burrows

I will admit I was and am a fan of the original 1976 Edition.  I never really got to play it, save for one time, but that was it.

I did, however, spend a lot of time back in 2007 rewriting the Bunnies & Burrows article on Wikipedia.  Not only was I and others able to get the article to Good Article status, I had a Furry Advocacy group offer to send me money because of it.   I just asked them to donate the money to the Humane Society.  I didn't want my edits called into question if I Was doing them for pay.  I was doing it to further my own RPG knowledge.

I have not seen this new game yet, but it feels like it stays true to the spirit of the original version.   Though in 2018 it is hard to capture the real feel of 1976.

Of course, I backed this.  I have kids (although a younger set than what I have is better for this game) and I have bunnies.    So this could be fun.  I am already planning a "you have been changed into animals" adventure to use this with.

What do you say, Nigel? Is this a good game?



Nigel says yes. And he is a bunny, so he knows this stuff.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Dark Places & Demogorgons: The Ghost Hunter's Handbook

Nothing beats a good ghost story and the early 80s was full of them.  From the old school hauntings of 1981's Ghost Story to 1982's Poltergeist to the old guard in House of the Long Shadows (1983) and even to 1984's Ghostbusters. And this is now where near all. If you loved ghost stories it was a great time.

Thankfully Bloat Games hears you and has what you need.

DARK PLACES & DEMOGORGONS - The Ghost Hunter's Handbook is 60 pages (digest sized) with color covers and black and white interior.  It has the same feel as the other books in this series.  The art is good and I recognize a lot of the names inside. 

With this book, like the others, we start out with new classes.
The Clairvoyant can see things the others can't (we have a couple "I see dead people" classes already, but this is a good one).
The Parapsychologist is great, but I think it is stretching what it means for a "Kid" class like the core book is filled with.  Though, I guess reading the starting equipment this is also the class that best fit me in High School! Yes, I did write a program to emulate a PKE meter on my TRS-80 Color Computer.
The Mystical Ghost Hunter covers your basic exorcists/cleanser type.
But the class I was happiest to see was the Nullifier!  This is the guy who walks in the room and all paranormal activity stops.  The class might have limited growth, save that they are the ones that will survive any magical attack, but I like them all the same.  In college one of my "hippie" friends claimed I was a "Null" because his Ouija board never worked when I was around! 

Pages 14-24 cover different kinds of ghosts, spectres, and haunts and their reasons for haunting.   This is one of the parts that make this book "and use w/other OSR games".  You can drop these spookies into any OSR game (some will require tweaks) and you are good to go.  They can all be run as-is really; especially if you are playing Swords & Wizardry.    In fact, there is a lot here in the DP&D that the S&W game master can use.

A few pages on what you can find on The Other Side! (uh...Thanks! but I didn't get you anything.  OH! THAT Other Side.)

There are a couple pages on equipment including Ghost Hunter kits to fit your price range.

Next, we have some new ghost-related magic items.
A couple pages of minor and major spells.

And what book on ghosts would be complete without a haunted house? Well, this one taped into that 80s feeling well and gives us a haunted asylum! It's like you guys read my Christmas lists or something!

Information of the J'town Paranormal Society (which feels like it is somewhere between Supernatural's "Ghost Chasers" and Doctor Who's LINDA).

We end with a great, but incomplete, list books, movies, and television shows.

Author Josh Palmer did a hell of a job here and this is a worthy addition to the DP&D line. The book is worth every penny. In truth, at just $5 and 60 pages you are getting a hell of a deal.
Print on demand is coming soon.

It's Halloween. Get out there and bust some ghosts!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: Survive This! Dark Places & Demogorgons Companions

Today I spend even more quality time with Dark Places & Demogorgons.  There are a number of great supplements now out for PD&D and more on the horizon.  Right now I am going to focus on these four since they will focus on my new campaign idea I'll talk more about tomorrow.
In all cases, I am reviewing the physical copies and PDFs.



Dark Places & Demogorgons: Jeffersontown Setting Guide
140 pages, color covers, black & white interiors.
This book covers the Jeffersontown setting introduced in the core rulebook.  I have to admit, I was not going to buy this book.  I was not really that interested in the J'town setting; I had my own setting, settings really, to try out and this one did not grab me.
That would have been a mistake. This book is really freaking awesome.
Reading through this book you begin to realize that all small towns are the same.  I read through this and was mentally replacing J'Town details with my own old hometown Jacksonville (J'Ville, no really that is what we called it).  There are a ton of great ideas here for any type of campaign.
So who should buy this?
Well if grew up in the 80s then you know this already. You lived it.  But this book is a wonderful trip down memory lane.  It's someone else's memory lane, but it looks like yours; it looks a lot like mine too.
If you didn't grow up in the 80s then this book is a must-have.  Really sets the tone and tenor of the game perfectly.
This makes this book a must buy, I am glad I picked it up.

Dark Places & Demogorgons: Player Options & GM Guide
124 pages, color covers, black & white interiors.
Now this book.  I knew I needed this one the moment I read the table of contents.  This book expands the game in a number of really awesome ways. Now all classes can go to 7th level and all the core classes get a boost.  That is great, and we get 13 new classes. They are Equestrian Show Rider, Equestrian Rider, Monster Hunter, Party Animal, The Performer, Phantasmagon, ROTC Cadet, Soviet Spy, Spy in Training, Street Tough, Survivalist, Teen Ninja, and the Telepath.   We also get five new Magic classes! Black Witch, Mechano-Mage, Nature Witch, Voodoo Practitioner, and White Witch.  All with a bunch of new spells! So yes, I am quite excited about these.  Worth the price on the cover alone for me.
Additionally, we get a bunch of new skills.

The last half of the book is everything 80s.  I have seen a lot of 80s guides in games before, but this one is very comprehensive.  These sections include 80's Crushes/ Idols, Your Songs of the 80's, Your Movies of the 80's, Random 80's Movie Quote Table, and Your TV of the 80's.  And just listing these does not do this lists justice at all.  I consider myself an 80s aficionado and there are things here I had forgotten or even never knew.  I am little surprised there isn't a Dark Places & Demogorgons 80s mix list on Spotify.
Really glad I got this book and I consider it a must-have for fans of this games.

Dark Places & Demogorgons: Vampire Sourcebook
36 pages, color covers, black & white interiors.
With the Vampire Sourcebook, we move DP&D a little further away from "Stranger Things" and "X-Files" territory and more into the realms of "Fright Night", "Lost Boys", and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".  The cover in fact is very reminicent of all the above.
We start off with an introduction to basic vampire pop-culture lore and quickly move to a list of vampire movies of the 1980s.  It's a solid list, I knew all the titles so it feels complete, but I am sure there a couple Euro flicks missing.  Not a big deal since that is not the focus of this book.
We get stats for a variety of vampires and plot hooks/backgrounds for all of them.
The book is designed for DP&D, but it really can be used with any OSR game.
For more 80s fun combine it with some New Wave Requiem from the World of Darkness game.
If you want to play a vampire then I suggest The Blood is the Life - Basic Vampires as a mostly compatible solution.
It is a thin book and I would have liked to see more varieties, in truth this probably the perfect size. Vampires are series-ending "Big Bads" not just your monster of the week.  So characters are only likely to see one or maybe two their entire game life.

Dark Places & Demogorgons: Werewolf Sourcebook
36 pages, color covers, black & white interiors.
Same size, but a step up from the Vampire book to be honest.  There feels like there is more material here and I will admit I was surprised to see the page count was really the same. 
We get a little background on werewolves as a horror trope. Different means of causing lycanthropy are also covered.  There is also a section of infecting humans and how it alters their stats, including Player Characters.  Now I would say that being a werewolf runs counter to what a GM might normally want to do with a DP&D game, I can see it coming up.  Good for drama really.
Now anyone that knows me well knows I am "the Witch guy" and before that I was "the Vampire guy".  So I was totally expecting this to be my least favorite book, but no chance of that!  This is a great book and even better than the Vampire book.
There plot hooks, NPCs, monsters AND a complete adventure.  The book is packed. Well worth the money spent.
IF you can only afford one of these books, Vampire or Werewolf, then I would put my money on the werewolf one. Plus it has some fantastic Jacob Blackmon cover art, so what could be better?


Monday, June 25, 2018

Monstrous Mondays: Scarecrow for Dark Places & Demogorgons

"Rain on the Scarecrow.  Blood on the plow.
Blood on the scarecrow. Blood on the plow" 

- John Mellencamp, Scarecrow



Is there anything more ubiquitous to the midwest than the cornfield?  How about that lone scarecrow in that field.  Standing silent vigil throughout the summer and into the fall.  Are you sure he is not watching you?

Scarecrow
Scarecrows are basic guardians similar to golems, but not nearly as powerful. Like typical scarecrows, their bodies are made of straw and cloth. The stumble about their assigned area poorly and attack most anything that wanders through it. Some Scarecrows are bound to a post. A Scarecrow can use their paralyzing gaze to imprison any trespassers (save vs. Courage, fail means victim remains rooted to the spot).
Scarecrows are assigned to protect a particular area. They never leave the area, even when chasing an intruder. They will attack anything, humanoid or animal-like in appearance that walks into its territory unless otherwise instructed by their creator.
A scarecrow is immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, disease, and similar effects. They are not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain or death from massive damage.
Fire Vulnerability: Because of their straw bodies, Scarecrows are extremely vulnerable to attacks from fire. They take triple damage from all fire attacks.

Armor Class: 10
Hit Dice: 3 + 1
Move: 12
Attacks: 1
Attack Damage: Slam 1d4+4 or Slap 1d4+1
Special:  Paralyzing Gaze.  Courage roll required if victim meets the gaze of a Scarecrow. They can't move for one moment.
Bonuses: +1 to hit, +4 to hide in corn or soy fields.
Terror: 8
HDE: 4

Review: Survive This! Dark Places & Demogorgons

I'll start off my week-long look at Survive This! Dark Places & Demogorgons with the core rulebook.   A little bit of background thought first.  I love the 80s in the way a true child of the 80s only can.  Everything about the decade still fascinates me, fills me nostalgia and is a creative well I keep going back to.  In truth, I had better decades.  The 90s were particularly good to me and the 2010s are also really nice, but the 80s hold my interest more, especially when it comes to gaming.

Dark Places & Demogorgons (DP&D) taps into all of this in such a deep and profound way that it pisses me off me to no end.  Pisses me off, because I wish I had come up it myself!

A few things upfront.  DP&D owes a great deal to Stranger Things (which in turns owes a lot to D&D), but as fantastic as that is, that is not enough to sustain a game.  DP&D draws on deep 80s culture as well.  And deep I do mean shallow!  Nothing here about the Cold War, or USA for Africa, or the 84 Olympics, or the home computer revolution.  This is about what was going on in YOUR small town USA and how it felt like it was the strangest place on the planet.  All that "important stuff" is just background noise to what is really important; what are we doing Friday night and who's going to drive around cruising?  That of course until your friends start to disappear.

Dark Places & Demogorgons (DP&D) is a 200 page 5"x9" book with color covers and black & white interiors.  The art is a mix of new art, some art purchased from collections and (my personal favorite) some photos of the authors and friends from some 80's high school yearbooks.  I am reviewing both the physical book and PDF.  Both of which were purchased by me so no books were contributed for review.

The book is divided into an 80 page Player's Section which includes the Classes and Basic rules, and a 120 Page Game Master Section.

The Players section introduces the concept of a Role-playing game and what you can do.  We also get a little background on the town this all takes place in, Jeffersontown KY.
We go right into building a character. Now while the book tells us that this is a version of the same game played in 1974, there are more 21st Century rules here.  The rules feel like a Swords & Wizardry variant with some Basic (Holmes in particular) thrown in.  There are multiple types of saving throws (ala OD&D, Basic, an on up) and ascending AC (S&W, 3e).   In short though if you have played any sort of OSR game in the last few years you will pick this up fast.  If you have never played before, well you will still pick this up fast.

Unlike its progenitors, this game has Seven Abilities.  The new one is Survival.  At first, I was not a fan of it, but now I see how it works in the game it makes more sense to me.  Much like how another seventh ability, "Luck", works in The Heroes' Journey.
I mentioned there are new saving throws too, Courage, Critical, Death, Mental, and Poison.  Courage works a lot like a Fear/San test and there is even a terror table.

Where DP&D takes off though are ways you use to describe your characters.  We start off with Backgrounds.  You can roll randomly here in true 80s style, or choose.  Rolling seems better.  These include things like "Parents are never home" or "Bratty Kid Sister" and they have in-game effects.  Not having your parents home makes for your house to become the natural HQ of your monster surviving endeavors, but having to watch your "Strawberry Shortcake" obsessed little sister is going to slow you down.

After that, you can decide on what your Class is going to be. Classes work here like everywhere else really.  They decide your skills, they let you know where you fit in the world and they provide a role-playing guide.  The classes in this book are largely based on 80s High School stereotypes.  There are five main classes with three subclasses each (similar to how 5e does it) You have The Brain (Kid Scientist, The Nerd, The Geek), The Athlete (The Jock, Extreme Athlete, The Karate Kid), The Outsider (Break Dancer, Goth, Metal Head), The Popular Kid (Preppy, The Princess, Teen Heart Throb), and The Rebel (Bully, The Hood, the Punk Rocker). That pretty much covers everyone in a small high school.
Each class gets 5 levels and new abilities and/or skills each level.  So the Karate kid gets new moves and martial arts, the Princess can affect others and so on.

Skills cover the things you can do.  You can get some via your class or be improved by your class.  Others you can pick.  Combat is a skill and if you want to be better at it then you need to take the skill otherwise you are just a kid with a +0 to hit.

Character creation then is largely rolling up Abilities, picking a Background, a Class, some skills, determining your saving throws and finding out how much cash you have in your pocket.  Then you are set!

I recommend a Session 0 for character creation and concept.  Sure it is not in the rules and certainly not old school, but it better than everyone showing up for the game playing all playing "The Bully" or "The Nerd".

Lastly, you come up with your age, Alignment and various combat-related stats (AC, attack bonus).  DP&D is not a combat focused game.  You are kids and the monsters are, well, monsters.  You might score a hit or two, but that is it.  Otherwise, run!
XP and Leveling are a little "easier" then and there are other ways to gain levels.

We end this section with some sample characters, examples of play and a quick breakdown of the 1980s vs. Today.

The Game Master Section is next and this is where the fun is!
Here the advice of not making this a combat heavy game is repeated.  This is a game of mystery, investigation, and deduction.   From the book:

This game draws inspiration from movies like The Goonies, ET and The Lost Boys and T.V. shows like Stranger Things, Eerie Indiana and Scooby Doo.
Talk about hitting me where I live!

The rules might say 1974 on the tin, but they are much easier than that.  Nearly every rule is simplified and straightforward in a way we never would have tried in the 80s.  Among the "new" rules are Difficulty Classes (circa 3e) and Advantage/Disadvantage rules (circa 5e).  It makes for a very fast-paced game and the rules will fall into the background.

We get some weapons and explosives, but not a lot.

There is a nice section on magic and the occult which include some really nice Psychic classes.  In case you want to dial your game up to 11 (see what I did there!).

The fun part of the book are the Adventure Seeds.  Some are familiar to anyone that watched movies or TV in the 80s.  But others...well I can only conclude that these must be local legends and myths from the author's own home.  Which reminds me how much all these little towns are really the same, just the details differ.


Replace the Pope Lick Monster with the Mobil Monster and they could have been talking about my old hometown of Jacksonville, IL.  We even had giant cats, giant birds and bigfoot.  But if you know what is good for you stay away from Magical Mystery Lane (if you could find it) or the glowing "things" out by Lake Jacksonville.

The book also has a bunch of monsters in Swords & Wizardry format (more or less).  You could add more, but be careful.   Just because I have the stats for a Manticore in a S&W book that would work with this there had better be a good reason to include it.

There are stats for animals and various types of NPCs.  There is even a table of random monster generation.  Delving into more game specific tables there is a table (1d100) of basic adventure hooks.

We also get a small guide to the setting, Jeffersontown, or J'Town (I grew up in J'ville. AND we used to call it a "Sinkhole of Evil" YEARS before anyone ever said the words "hell mouth").
The guide is great, not just for use in the game but for the sheer nostalgia.  It read like someone had taken a fictionalized version of my old hometown.  I think that it is also flexible enough that an lot of people reading it will feel the same way.

We end with a nice solid appendix (the PDF is not hyper-linked here) and their own "Appendix N" of movies, television, and music.  Music was too important in the 80s for there not to be a list like this.

We end with a copy of the character sheet.

Wow.  Where to begin.

Ok first of this game is very nearly perfect and I hate it so much.  That's not true. I hate that I didn't come up with it and publish it sooner.  But in truth, I am not sure if I would have done the same quality job as Eric Bloat and Josh Palmer.  Plus the inclusion of their yearbook pictures and own background made this book for me.  I LOVED reading J'Town because I could see and feel my own J'Ville in it.  I would not have been able to do that if I had written it myself, so much kudos to them.
This is a work of art and I love it.

Everything feels right about this game, to be honest.  I even have a potential "Series" in mind for it.

Can't wait to do more with it!  I would love to get some of my old gamer friends from the 80s and have them play versions of themeselves in a "Stranger Jacksonville" or more to the point the Jacksonville we all WISHED it was.

Next time I look at the supplements.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Survive This! Dark Places & Demogorgons Week

I am going to spend some quality time this week with Bloat GamesDark Places & Demogorgons.


The game is set in the 1980s and uses the same basic rules as 1970's era D&D. The game owes more than just a little to Stranger Things, but also to just the glorious weird times that was the 1980s.
The same cauldron that gave us the Satanic Panic would later set the groundwork for shows like The X Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This alchemical brew would also fuel so many of my games from then til now.

This game hits all my nostalgia buttons in one nice tight little package. Spending the week with it is going to be a real treat. Weird little towns, vampires, werewolves, ghosts and maybe the best soundtrack ever.



So load up your favorite 80s mixtape, put on your Member's Only jacket and pull out your Trapper Keepers full of graph paper dungeons and let's explore some Dark Places!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Got My OSR Patch

Just in time for Gen Con!


I'll get one of these sewn on to my "bag of holding" before August.

Want one?  Check out the original post over at Tenkar's.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: No One Warps For Free

Venger is back and this time he has some new for the universe of Alpha Blue.



The newest and now full color Alpha Blue supplement, Alpha Ass, Hydrogen Gas, or Cosmic Grass... No One Warps For Free!  Is being kickstarted today.

I will freely admit.  I love Alpha Blue.  70s Sci-Fi sleaze is almost as much fun as 70s horror sleaze and I love them both.  Alpha Blue is one of my favorite all time RPG books.  Not books Venger has done, but all RPG books.  Why? Because it is so over the top and really in an infinite universe a space station like Alpha Blue would exist.  


Venger always delivers on his kickstarters so this one should be no different.  He is promising a minimum of 30 pages and all full color. 

New classes include Bard, Primitive Screwheads and Space sorcerers.  Hell, it sounds like so much fun I might need to come up with a sect of my own Sisters of the Aquarian Order to play with this.    Oh know!  Before they take their final oaths all prospective Sisters are given 24 hours where they are free to do whatever they want.  Well, a group of near-graduating space witches have chosen to party on Alpha Blue.  

So check this out.  Alpha Blue is Venger's best selling line for a reason.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

OERAD: Spellcraft & Swordplay

Wellcome once again to the annual Original Edition RPG Appreciation Day!

Uh wait... isn't that supposed to be Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day?  Well, yes, but this year Gamers & Grognards, our host, has decided to expand the day to any old-school game that emulates the Original Edition, or (of course) the Original Edition itself.

This year I want to talk about one of my favorite Old-School games, Spellcraft & Swordplay.

Now, just I get this out of the way first.  Jason is a friend of mine and we worked on a lot of Unisystem games together.   Also, I worked on a supplement for S&S called Eldritch Witchery.  That all being said I developed my opinion of this game long before EW ever was thought of.

Spellcraft & Swordplay is not a retro-clone exactly.  It is more of a "near-clone" or as I often think of it as an alternate reality version of OD&D. This game was released in 2011 and it is much closer to the Original Edition feel than S&W.  How?  Well, it uses the original 2d6 means of combat resolution rather than the "alternate" method of the d20.

When D&D was starting out it grew out of the rules in Chainmail.  Using a d20 (twenty-sided die) was the "alternate" combat method that became the norm.  But the original combat method involved 2d6 (two six-sided dice), S&S (among other changes) explores that further.

There are other changes such as saving throws are made against the appropriate ability (which is not too far off to how 5th edition or Castles & Crusades does it). So you can make a Dexterity save to avoid getting hit with something, or a Constitution save to avoid the effects of a poison.

There are no skills, but ability rolls and some characters get bonuses due their classes.

S&S “feels” a lot like the old rules.


The first third of the book is dedicated to character creation. It is roughly analogous to “Men & Magic” and about the same size. We have our introduction that tells why this book is here. There is a section on ability scores and what they can do. There are entries for the four core races (humans, elves, dwarfs, and Halflings), Warriors (not Fighters or Fighting Men), Priests, Wizards, Thieves and Assassins, all the things we remember as kids or have been told about. Some things have been renamed (my OD&D had Clerics and Magic Users and it was not till 2nd Ed that I had Priests and Wizards) some oddly so (Crypto-Linguistics? I am going to need some more levels in Read Languages to figure that out!) but the spirit is there and that was the point.
Classes each have their own advancement tables as in days of old, though the hit point calculations are weird, they are in line with OD&D rules (I just had forgotten how it was done). Though I missed the level names. Spells are a simpler deal. Levels and description, that’s it.

Part 2, Combat and Confrontation is a little more modern than it’s old school counterpart, showing it’s modern sensibilities. It is, in fact, truer to a more modern concept, the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Ability checks, for the most part, replace all skills. Armor Classes though go up instead of down (so 7 is better than 3) and start at 1, not 10.

Part 3, Monsters and Magic is the “Monsters & Treasure” or “Monster Manual” portion. All stats are in a table at the beginning of the chapter, with descriptive text and some pictures following. It does make it awkward to read, but again this is the same as the OD&D books. Monsters are followed by a listing of magic items.

While there some differences from baseline D&D,  S&S is one of those systems that becomes systemless after a while.  The focus is less on rolling dice and more on adventure and role-playing.  For that reason, I find anything written for OD&D, Swords & Wizardry or Basic D&D can be translated and used in a snap.

In fact, as much as I enjoy Swords & Wizardry I find Spellcraft & Swordplay closer to OD&D in terms of gameplay and feel.

Spellcraft & Swordplay Books


Spellcraft & Swordplay Characters
Reviews


Friday, January 12, 2018

Kickstart your Weekend with Venger As'Nas Satanis

You gotta love +Venger Satanis and his Kortthalis Publishing
He is out there doing his own thing. Doing to make the stuff he wanted to play with back in the day and if we want to come along, well great. While he takes himself far less seriously than other publishers, he takes his games and books very seriously. And it shows in his production values.  So today I want to share two new Venger products with you.  First up a Kickstarter.

Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1575519826/battle-star-trilogy-trek-wars

I'll admit it. I LOVE Alpha Blue.  I might be because I am the right demographic for it, but I also love 70s sleaze.  Anything for Alpha Blue then is good in my book.
This one will be three adventure scenarios for Alpha Blue, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't thinking of trying them in White Star and/or Star Frontiers.

Player's Handbook Like A Fucking Boss
Out now is Venger's latest in his "Like a Fucking Boss" series. 
Venger is a man after my own heart, and PHB-LAFB takes many nods and cues from Basic-era D&D, or at least his reading of it which is just as good.
PHB-LAFB is not a rule book or an adventure, but a collection of various tips, tricks and odds and ends to help your game along.  There are some very obvious nods to classic/Basic/OSR style play and there are nods to more modern/D&D5 style mechanics and design.  The bottom line here (and a big one for me when reading this) is I can use it with just about any game I play.
In truest old-school fashion there are plenty of tables. "Stranger Things" gives us a table of various odds and ends, emphasis on the odd.  "Honor and Fame" and "Dishonor and Infamy" are also very useful tables for rewards that reminds me of some the rules I have seen in AGE and Blue Rose; again a natural idea given Venger's own twist. 
There is a lot of great character building ideas too. Tables, checklists, backgrounds. It's all here.
For $5.00 and 33 full-color pages, it is quite worth it.
I am not quite sure if it is up to the level of awesomeness that is How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss but it is also more focused on players and characters and is half the price too.

No one does Venger quite like Venger.  Both of this products are top notch.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New Releases Tuesday: The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light

I have been keeping this one under wraps for now, but it's Halloween and it's the time for witches.



Cover art by the wonderful Marlena Mozgawa, Lenamo Art. http://www.lenamo.art and https://lenamoart.deviantart.com/.

The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light includes:

  • Seven levels of the Witch Class with three brand new witch traditions
  • new, never before published witch spells
  • rules for familiars and ritual magic
  • new spells, monsters and magic items for Swords & Wizardry Light/Continual Light

All in 13 pages for your Halloween games.

The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light is designed for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New in Print: Mail-call Edition

When I get games or game books together; either via a con, or an auction, 2nd hand sale, or whatever I tend to think of them as "linked" products whether they are or not.  This is doubly true when I get a bunch books at the same time in the mail.  Like I did over the last couple of days.

Here is what the UPS man left on my door in three different boxes.


That is +Mark Taormino's latest Maximum Mayhem Dungeon #4 Vault of the Dwarven King, fresh from the Kickstarter.  The print proof of my own The Green Witch, which you can now buy in print AND while it is on sale at RPGNow's Christmas in July.   With +Gavin Norman's print copy of Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition. His PDF is also on sale.

Let's jump in!

First up is the fourth installment of Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem Dungeon series.  This time for characters level 4 to 7 it involves investigating a Dwarven mine.  But you know that is not all.

The mine cars and tracks look more like roller coasters and there are monsters breeding down in the mines.  I would say they are unimaginable, but in truth, they are EXACTLY the sort thing we probably imagined at age 13-14 when making our own dungeons.  Mark just has better production values.  Like the others in this series, this is pure nostalgia fueled gonzo fun.   Crazy mines, insane monsters, goblins with chain saws. Yup.  This module has it all, and what it doesn't one of the others in the series does.


OR order them this way to have The Maximum Mayhem CampaignTM for levels 1 to 14!


Makes me want to pull out my Basic and Expert books and do that!

If so then you can bet that I will be including one of Gavin Norman's Vivimancers in the mix.

Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition has been out for about 7 months and it looks like it is doing well.  That's great because this is completely kick ass little book.


Inside we have three new classes, The Elementalist (specialist in the volatile energies of nature), The Necromancer (master of death and restless spirits), and The Vivimancer (expert of cloning, vat-growth, and bio-sorcery).  All for you Labyrinth Lord or Basic-era game.
If you have the older T&T then Gavin has put up a blog post to explain the differences.


And of course, I will have to include a Witch in the mix.


The Green Witch for Swords & Wizardry follows up my Warlock class.  These are witches that protect the wood.  Are they protecting it from humankind, or are they protecting humankind from it? Maybe both.

Like my other witch books, this presents a new witch Tradition which includes new Occult Powers and Spells.  It also has some new associated classes, the Green Knight (a paladin for witches) and the Huntsman (a pagan-inspired Ranger).


All my recent witch books are for Swords & Wizardry and written not only to be compatible, but also to have very little in the way of overlap.  Obviously, the Experience tables are the same (they are all witches) and some spells are shared by all witches (Bestow Curse is a good example).  I try to make each one worth your while and moeny to buy.



And right now it is on sale. In fact nearly everything for the witch is on sale now.



Monday, June 19, 2017

FreeRPG Day Haul

 Really busy weekend.

Free RPG day, Father's Day, grilling, playing D&D.  It was packed.

Here are the books I got at my FLGS.


I am most excited about Runequest. I have not played it in YEARS and have been itching to do so more with it.

My hat is off to +James Raggi.  I admit I have been critical of his products and style over the years.  The truth is his style is not my style. That is not good or bad, just different tastes.
But  ALL that aside, giving out a free HARDCOVER book? Holy shit dude.
Plus his Vaginas Are Magic is actually really, really good.

It galls me, and makes me happy, that he keep proving me wrong by being good.

I might not ever play Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but damn. His production values are through the roof.  He even pulled in +Stacy Dellorfano and +Elizabeth Chaipraditkul to help him on this book.  I trust their opinions and judgment. I am going to have to dig into his book a bit more. Ok. A lot more.

So +James Raggi, it took me a while, but I think I finally "get it".  

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Methyn Sarr, Witch Queen of the Fire Coast

I spent some time over the long weekend reading through Barbarians of Lemuria: Mythic Edition. I have the previous editions and this one captures the same feel of the pulp-era adventures.  It is a fun game in it's own right but in truth, I am not at a point anymore where I want to learn a bunch of systems.
I am very, very happy with my world of OSR and B/X so I set out to convert BoL over to B/X D&D.   I also quickly discovered that a one to one conversion is not always the best idea.

Barbarians of Lemuria: Mythic Edition is a low-magic, and dare I even say, low-powered game.  Even the main antagonist would not really convert to very high level given most of the advice I have seen online.

I went into Barbarians of Lemuria with two goals.  First, I want to get some more information on Lemuria for my own games and add this feel to my current "Second Campaign" game.   Secondly, I want to convert the main antagonist, Methyn Sarr, into something I can use for my "War of the Witch Queens" game.   I'll detail the first as it happens, but I can talk about the second now.

Barbarian's of Lemuria, along with Crypts & Things, share an ethos and a feel with another favorite game of mine, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  In my mind all three can be combined to make a Pulp-fanstastic, old-school D&D like-game worthy of any mighty thewed barbarian or crafty sorcerer. Mix in a little DCC or Lamentations of the Flame Princess and you have a heady brew.   There is a lot to love here, I just wish I had the time to do all of these games the justice they deserve.

Of course, the antagonist, Methyn Sarr, caught my eye.  She is described as "the Witch Queen of the Fire Coast" and the devoted agent of Zaggath, Lord of Fire.  She is fierce, cruel, beautiful and deadly. Everything I love about an evil witch.  A direct conversion didn't feel right.  No one is afraid of a 3rd level witch*.  (*the suggestion that 1 HD = 5 LB has been thrown out on the internet.  So her 12 LB would be 2.4 HD).

Instead, I looked at her Arcane Power (16) and her careers.   She can cast Third Magnitude spells which I figure are about 6th-8th level for witches.  Since I was looking at AS&SH that puts her 11th level (or 12th).  I wanted something a little more impressive, so I also looked at my own Witch stats for 13th level.

Methyn Sarr, Witch Queen of the Fire Coast


Methyn Sarr, Witch Queen of the Fire Coast
Female Witch 11th level (Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, +Jeff Talanian)
Chaotic Evil

Race: Human
Secondary Skill: Torturer

Abilities
Strength: 10
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 17

Casting Ability: 11
Fighting Ability: 5

Hit Points:  24
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 5 (battle harness)

Powers
1st level: Brew Potions, Familiar
3rd level: Brew Philtre
5th level: Dance of Beguilement, Effigy
7th level: Animate Broom
9th level: Witch's Apprentice

Spells (due to her connection to Zaggath she may also cast Pyromancer spells)
First: (5) Burning Hands, Charm Person, Influence Normal Fires, Shocking Grasp, Sleep
Second: (5) Cause Blindness, Flame Blade, Flaming Sphere, Infernal Tongues, Ray of Enfeeblement
Third: (4) Black Cloud, Explosive Runes, Fireball, Witch Fire
Fourth: (3) Fire Shield, Mirror Mirror, Transfer Wounds
Fifth: (2) Magic Jar, Produce Bonfire
Sixth: (1) Disintegrate

Magic Items
Battle Harness (provides AC 5)
Blood Dagger of Zaggath (adds +1d6 damage due to dripping fire blood)


Methyn Sarr, Witch Queen of the Fire Coast
Female Witch, Malefic Tradition 13th level (The Witch)
Chaotic

Abilities
Strength: 10
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 17
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 18

Hit Points: 29
AC: 5 (battle harness)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Raven
7th level:  Evil's Touch
13th level: Devil's Tongue

Spells 
Cantrips: Black Flame, Daze, Detect Curse, Object Reading, Open, Palm
First: Cause Fear, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Increase Sex Appeal, Sleep
Second: Agony, Blast Shield, Death Armor, Evil Eye
Third: Feral Spirit, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Tongues
Fourth: Dance Macabre, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Phantom Lacerations
Fifth: Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting
Sixth: Death Blade, Mass Agony
Seventh:  Wave of Mutilation

Magic Items
Battle Harness (provides AC 5)
Blood Dagger of Zaggath (adds +1d6 damage due to dripping fire blood)

So not exact conversions by any stretch, but certainly workable ones.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry

Now to the Brocken the witches ride;
The stubble is gold and the corn is green;
There is the carnival crew to be seen,
And Squire Urianus will come to preside.
So over the valleys our company floats,
With witches a-farting on stinking old goats.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe "Faust" 

Tonight is Walpurgis Night.  Tonight the witches will ride on brooms and goats to the Brocken in the Harz Mountains and celebrate with the Devil.
Tomorrow is Beltane and Witches will celebrate the start of May and the return of Summer with bonfires.

Today I celebrate the release The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry!

Cover art Copyright 2015 Dean Spencer

The Warlock includes:
  • The Warlock class
  • New race: The Tieflings
  • Rules for goblin, hobgoblin and bugbear warlocks
  • 160+ spells
  • 50+ Warlock invocations
  • New monsters including the Baalseraph, Calabim, Lilim and Shedim demon families.
  • Animal Lords and Faerie Lords
  • New Magic Items
The Warlock is 64 pages and is compatible with The WitchThe Witch for Swords & Wizardry LightThe Witch: Aiséiligh Tradition for Swords & Wizardry, and The Witch: Hedgewitch for the Hero's Journey RPG.  It is also rules-compatible with Sisters of the Aquarian Order.  In fact, all are designed to work together as a complete whole.  Getting these various witches to work together in your game is another matter entirely.

A softcover version is coming in the next couple of days.  I just need to wait till it is delivered to me for approval.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reviews: Battleaxes & Beasties and the Witches of Hagswallow

I have been wanting to get some more reviews in and I am woefully behind schedule. So along with my deep dive into the Forgotten Realms, I am also investigating more games and products built around Swords & Wizardry.

First up is Battleaxes & Beasties by +Anthony Hunter.


Battleaxes & Beasties is a core rule book from Sleeping Griffon Productions. It is based on Swords & Wizardry, but has some interesting quirks of it's own.   The book is 175 pages, black & white interior with color covers.   There are hardcover and softcover options, I am reviewing the PDF.
We spend a couple of pages going over the basic "what is roleplaying" and "what are these funny dice".  We have all seen this a 1000 times, but it does make it work well for a new player.  Indeed the whole book is great for anyone that has never played before.
Since this is based on S&W we have the same basic six Attributes and modifiers.
It is not till we get to the classes that we some changes.  Now B&B can act as a standalone game, there are enough classes here, but it can also act as a supplement to and other S&W-based game.  I could not help but feel there was a certain level of, well, camaraderie between this game and The Hero's Journey.  Both fall closer together on the "Heroic vs Muder Hobo" scale than say Dungeon Crawl Classics.  The classes include a Beguiler (which is like a Bard, but instead of songs he masters lies), the Faithful (like the cleric), Hunter (something like a Ranger), Scout ( Ranger-y Rogues), Totemist (Druid-Shaman cross),  Warrior and the Wizard.  All the classes advance to 10th level, so this is solid White Box territory.  After the human classes, we get race-specific classes.  Now, these are a lot of fun really. There is the Dwarven Guardian, Dwarven Paladin, Elf Ranger, and the Halfling Outcast.  Seriously fun stuff. We are 20 pages in and the book has paid for itself in my eyes.
There is a section on careers, which other games might call backgrounds.
Spells come next and are sorted by class and level.  There are some new ones here too, not just a rehash of the same old spells.  Additionally, magic is divided into Arcane, Miracles and Fey magics. An interesting touch if you ask me. It doesn't have a lot of game play effects, save on how Rangers learn spells, but it does provide a nice bit of flavor.
Next, we get to the default setting for this game, the Borderlands of Zarteth.  It starts with a "Z" so you know it is going to be a dangerous or at least strange place!
The setting is very D&D; that is neither good or bad, just what it is.  I got the feel reading it that was Clark Ashton Smith plus Robert E. Howard, without the extra helping of doom and despair. It's not 4e Points of Light, nor is it Hero's Journey's "Let's go on an adventure" nor is it the Grimdark of DCC.  It is in between.
The rest of the book is the Referee's Section. I say "rest" but it is really half the book. Everything you expect is here.
The gem here is the Monster section. The monsters are divided up by type first then alphabetically.  There are some nice new monsters here too, again making the book rather worthwhile.
To go with those monsters are some great magical treasures.
There is also an included adventure, reference sheets and a nice character sheet.
Battleaxes & Beasties does not break any new ground, but covers the same ground in interesting ways. Interesting enough to make it easily worth 10 bucks for the PDF.
I am caught between 4 or 5 stars out of 5 here. I'll give it a 5 to adjust the review average.

Witches of Hagswallow Adventure is an adventure for Battleaxes & Beasties.
It is 47 pages, color covers, Black & White interior. Designed fro 3-6 characters of 2-3 level. It can be run directly after the included adventure in the corebook and gives more background on the setting of the Borderlands of Zarteth.
It is a great example on how even the simpleist monsters can be used to great effect.  The "witches" are not witches of course, they are harpies.  But for all practical purposes, the might as well be.  After all these are 2nd level characters; most have just learned which end of the sword is the dangerous one!
There are a lot of great maps, a bunch of new monsters and it expands the world a little bit more for the players.
The adventure also comes with pre-generated characters.
Everything comes in the PDF, but separate files are also included.

All in all this is a very fun system.  Familar, but with a enough new materials to make it completely worthwhile.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

It's a Liminal Time, A Time of Hedgewitches

Tomorrow is the Vernal Equinox also known as Ostara.
Tomorrow we will have equal amounts of light and dark.
Half-way between the start of winter and the start of summer.

It is a time for in-betweens, for liminals, for things not one thing or another.
A time for Hedgewitches.

Tomorrow you can join them.




Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens

I have been wanting to stat up some of the classic witches of the D&D game and one of the ones I had forgotten about was Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens, from Return to White Plume Mountain for 2nd ed and Outside the Moutain for 3rd ed.

For 2nd ed she is depicted as a 12 HD hag.  For 3rd Ed she is a CR 12 green hag wizard.

But we all know what class she should be.

I want to try out her out using my Basic Witch class, but I also think I really need to also stat her out as one of +Jonathan Becker 's The Complete B/X Adventurer Witches (his blog IS B/X Blackrazor afterall) and Sage of Greyhawk, +Joseph Bloch's Adventures Dark & Deep Darker Paths Witch class.

All will do a good job in representing this sort of witch.

According to the 2nd Edition "Return to White Plume Mountain" she is:

Thingizzard
AC -2 (natural hide and Dex bonus); Mv 12, swim 12; HD 12; hp 80; THACO 9 (3 with Wave and Str bonus); #AT 3/2 (Wave); Dmg ld10+9; MR 25%; SZ M (5’ tall); ML fanatic (17); Str 18/00, Dex 17, Con 19, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 12; AL NE; XP 7,000.

Special Abilities: full movement rate through quicksand and swamp; brew any potion.
Spell-like Abilities (at 12th level): l/day-animate dead, call lightning, control weather, curse, dream, forcecage, mind blank, polymorph other, polymorph self, veil, vision.
Special Equipment: five potions of extra-healing, potion of gaseous form, potion of super-heroism.

These stats also assume she has Wave.

I think for the sake of building and good comparison, I am going to make her a 13th level witch in all cases.  Also in each case I am going to swap what her highest ability should be. So for my witch it will be Charisma.  Wisdom for the Darker Paths Witch. Intelligence and Wisdom are the primes for the Complete B/X Adventurer Witch, but I think I'll give her the higher Intelligence here to balance it out.

Of course in the original, she is a hag.  So in these versions I will keep that by keeping her really high physical stats.

Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens

Basic Era Witch
13th Level Hag (Faerie) Tradition

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 14
Wisdom 12
Charisma 15

hp: 63
THAC0: 16

Death Ray: 9
Magic Wands: 10
Paralysis, Turn to Stone: 9
Dragon Breath: 12
Rods, Staffs, Spells: 11

Occult Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Potions
Lesser: Speak with Animals/Plants
Minor: Fey Shape

Spells
Cantrips: (4) Alarm Ward, False Glamour, Mote of Light, Object Reading
First: (4+2) Blight Growth, Burning Hands, Detect Invisible, Endure Elements, Hold Winds, Sour Stomach
Second: (4+1) Discord, Evil Eye, Fever, Nausea, Scare
Third: (3) Bestow Curse, Dispel Magic, Toad Mind
Forth: (3) Confusion, Polymorph, Vomit
Fifth: (2) Animate Dead, Dream
Sixth: (2) Control Weather, True Seeing
Seventh: (1) Greater Arcane Eye

Darker Paths 2: The Witch by +Joseph Bloch
13th Level Witch

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 14
Wisdom 15
Charisma 12

hp: 72
THAC0: 12

Paralysis, Poison, Death: 5
Petrification, Polymorph: 8
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Spell: 10

Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Poisons
Bell, Book and Candle
Create Magic Items

Spells
First: (5) Charm Person, Predict Weather, Taunt, Witch Shot, Wither
Second: (5) Blight Field, Change Self, Charm Monster, Misfortune, Precipitation
Third: (4) Bestow Curse, Control Winds, Fear, Insect Swarm
Forth: (4) Jealousy, Polymorph Self, Prophecy, Sleep
Fifth: (4) Breath Poison, Control Weather, Polymorph Other, Season of the Witch
Sixth: (3) Blink, Cackle, Magic Cauldron
Seventh*: (3) Call Lightning, Death Curse, Great Rite

*Ok, she should not get seventh level spells due to her wisdom, but hey, my character.

The Complete B/X Adventurer by +Jonathan Becker
13th Level Witch

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 15
Wisdom 14
Charisma 12

hp: 65
THAC0:

Paralysis, Poison, Death: 5
Petrification, Polymorph: 8
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Spell: 10

Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Poisons and magical Potions
Bind Wounds
Book of Shadows

Spells
First: Hex, Light, Resist Elements, Speak with Animals
Second: Dreams, Fog, Locate Object
Third: Call Animals, Hoodoo, Object Reading, Quagmire
Forth: Mind Jab, Polymorph Others, Polymorph Self, Tarantella
Fifth: Control Weather, Greater Hoodoo, Insect Plague, Visions

I am hard pressed to say which witch I like better for her.  All three have something essentially "Thingizzard" about her.  Each witch has some spells that are particularly nice for her.

I will have to come back to this and see about doing 5e version once Tales from the Yawning Portal is released next month.

Bonus Question: How do you pronounce her name? I am partial to "Thing-iz-zard" myself, but "Thin Gizzard" also has a nice swampy feel to it.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Kickstart Your Weekend: Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #4: Vault of the Dwarven King

Mad genius +Mark Taormino is at it again!

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #4: Vault of the Dwarven King


The 4th dungeon in the Maximum Mayhem Dungeon series is being Kickstarted.

These modules really embody what I think is best about Kickstarter.  Mark uses these to get to a wide audience to pay for his art and production costs, which are always top notch, and get them out to everyone despite being a one-man operation.

This adventure is for levels 4 to 7 so it helps round of the "missing levels" from the other three modules.  It's almost like he was listing to me! ;)
(for the record I know he was not, this is a logical level spread and my input was not needed.)

In any case, back this. You know you want too.

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