Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

I'll Take a Pumpkin Spice, A5 size

You have asked and I serve them up. It's September, it's almost the start of Autumn and that means Pumpkin Spice Season!

The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition

Pumpkin Spice Witch, Letter and A5

And I am so pleased with it!

Much like my Craft of the Wise book this one now comes in softcover and hardcover options. 

A5 Witch books

The Softcover version is Letter-sized, 8.5" x 11".  This works with your B/X, BECMI, or other OSR books.

The Hardcover is A5 sized, 148mm X 210mm, (8.3" x 5.8").  This is the same size as the OSE books and roughly the same size as my Warlock book (which is Digest size 6"x9").

The content and art are the same for each, so the layout is different. Despite the size, this is still designed largely for Labyrinth Lord; so 20 character levels, and 8 spell levels. Though obviously it can be used with any "Basic Era" sort of game.

A5 Books

Pumpkin Spice Books

Same contents, different layout

With only 55 days left till Halloween order yours now and enjoy the magic of Fall!

Friday, August 26, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Wayne Robert's O5E Classes

Wayne Robert's O5E Warlock
Going a little bit old-school and a little bit new-school tonight.

Earlier in the year Wayne Robert released what he was calling O5E classes. His first batch includes the Warlock and Sorcerer for Old School Essentials.

Wayne Robert's O5E Warlock

PDF. 8 pages. 1 cover, 1 title, 2 blank, 1 back page. 3 pages of content. $1.50.

Presently this version does not have art. There was a version before this that did have art, but the author made the choice to remove it for now.

The class is done up in OSE style. There are obvious nods to the 5e Warlock, which is by design.  The warlock does have spells and which spell list you use will depend on the warlock's pact.  Four Patrons are detailed, The Archfiend, The Faerie Regent, The Whisperer, and the Primordial. 

In truth a very serviceable class. Though some new, Warlock-only spells, would have been a nice add.


Wayne Robert's O5E Sorcerer
Wayne Robert's O5E Sorcerer

PDF. 8 pages. 1 cover, 1 title, 2 blank, 1 back page. 3 pages of content. $1.50.

Presently this version does not have art. There was a version before this that did have art, but the author made the choice to remove it for now.

The class is done up in OSE style. Much like his warlock book this one borrows from the OGC Sorcerer (though there is no OGL page here). 

Sorcerer's gain their magic via their sorcerous bloodlines. These are Celestial, Chaos, Dragon, and Serpent. So a nice little switch-up. 

They cast magic-user spells and gain access to meta-magic powers.  Each bloodline also gains some powers.

A really neat application of the Sorcerer for OSE or B/X.


Of the two I rather like the Sorcerer a little bit more.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween




 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 25 - Where has the character been?

I suppose for the purposes of this #RPGaDay I should have started out with just one character.  But where is the fun in that?

So the Werper family began in Mystara, Glantri to be exact. I know clerics in Glantri. But when I moved over to AD&D 1st Ed my DM and I merged our worlds (me Mystara, him Oerth) Glantri changed a bit.  Since then Johan the III was trapped in Ravenloft and thought to be lost. Johan the IV was the first ever to travel to the Forgotten Realms. All of them have been to Abyss to fight demons, their sworn enemies and Johan II even ended up in London in the 1980s.

Likewise, Larina has been EVERYWHERE.

But I love a good plane-hopping adventure.

War of the Witch Queens will introduce my kids to my favorite playground, the Multi-verse. They have already been Krynn, but didn't know it yet.


RPGaDAY2022

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 23 - What situation are they currently in?

Going off of yesterday's post here is what is happening. 

Phygor is "exploring the world." That is code for I don't know what I am doing yet.

Johan is still in the Demonweb with the other D&D 5 characters.

The OSE characters are all NPCs in the "War of the Witch Queens."

But let's talk about my AD&D Second Ed characters, Sinéad and Nida.  These characters are still rather new for me.  The stats I posted are not the ones I am playing. They are still both 1st level, and they are not in the same game. Well. At least for now.

We are trying out all different editions of D&D here and these will be my return to AD&D 2nd Ed AND my first real introduction to the Forgotten Realms.

Of the two I have only played Nida once. Sinéad is 1st level, but I have not taken her on any adventures yet.  Right now there is not a lot to tell them apart save that Sinéad is a half-elf and might be the daughter of my last AD&D 1st ed character.  Not sure about that one just yet. Though I do think I am getting a grasp on who they might be.

Nida
Nida, Witch of Rashemen

Sinéad
Sinéad, half-elf Bard/Wizard

The current situation right now is me needing to move them forward. 


RPGaDAY2022


Monday, August 22, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 22 - Who is your current character?

Johan VI
One thing I never quite understood was the assumption that anyone has just one character at a given time. I have dozens!  I might be playing them all, but they are there.  Here are some of my favorites.

D&D 5e

This is my current 5e character, Johan Werper the VI. He is a cleric/paladin. He is the great-great-great-great-grandson of my first ever D&D character Johan Werper, the Cleric.  Johan the First was followed by Johan the II (Paladin), Johan III (Cavalier), Johan IV (Cleric, Prestige Paladin 3e), Johan V (Paladin, multiclassed feat Cleric, 4e) and to the new generation.

It has been a real joy to have a multi-generational arc for my characters and great to play with this concept of the Lawful Good paladin across all generations of the D&D game.  Each has given me something slightly different and all have been a blast to play.

Some of my other characters for 5e that jump between PCs and NPCs are Tayrn Nix,  Half-elf Warlock (Fey Pact), Celeste Holmes, Human Wizard (Sage), Cassandra Killian, Human Sorcerer (Divne Soul), Jasic Winterhaven, Gnome Bard (College of Lore), Sasha, Cleric (Knowledge Domain), and Áedán Aamadu, Human Druid (Circle of the Land).

Old School Essentials

Some of my OSE include the druid couple Asabalom and Maryah and my Pagans Lars and Siân.  

AD&D 2nd Edition

I have two I have been working with. I was just telling my oldest last night I need to pull them out again and do more with them.  Both are AD&D 2nd Ed interpretations of a Witch, Goodwife Sinéad (Witch Kit) and Nida (witch of Hala/Witch of Rashemen kit)

DragonQuest

My character for this game is still Phygor

--

Of course, I do have to mention my iconic witch Larina, who gets stated up in every game I play.

Larina by Djinn



RPGaDAY2022


Saturday, August 13, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 13 - How would you change the way you started RPGing?

I don't think I would change anything, to be honest with you.  Save for maybe hold on to some items longer.

Generally speaking, I am not one to have regrets or second guess my past. Things happened, I made the best choices I could with the knowledge I had and it made me what I am right now and I would not want to change that.

My struggles to figure out how Holmes Basic worked with the Monster Manual or Moldvay Basic/Cook Expert worked with the AD&D Players Handbook set me off into directions to understand these systems better. Which got me to write my own material. Which got me into writing my own material for online use. Then to working with real publishers. To produce materials that people buy now. 

It all goes back to that. I would not want to change any of it really.

RPGaDAY2022


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 10 - When did/will you start Gamemastering?

When did I start Game Mastering?  Right away to be honest.

It would have been with the D&D Basic Set edited by Tom Moldvay. I am sure I ran my younger brother and sister through some adventures.  I know I had made my own dungeons then and still have a couple of the maps. One, in particular, had a red dragon in one room and a green dragon in another.  No idea how they got through the doors.

I would like to think I got better.

RPGaDAY2022


Monday, August 8, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 8 - Who introduced you to RPGs?

That one is a little harder to figure out.  I feel like that in the late 70s and early 80s D&D was all over the place. I knew of it as far back as 77 or 78. I didn't read any of it until 1979 though.

I borrowed the Monster Manual from my classmate Geordie Herald. I got a copy of Holmes' Basic from someone. My first real DM was Jon Cook. 

In truth, there was this critical mass of D&D in my town in the late 70s. I DO remember I almost didn't get involved with it due to my interest in video games. But reading mythology and "The Hobbit" and watching all sorts of horror movies I think made my involvement in the game at the time rather inevitable.

All roads lead to the Keep on the Borderlands it seemed.

RPGaDAY2022


Friday, August 5, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 5 - Why will they like this game?

I guess this is continuing on from Day 3's choice.

Why will they like this game? 

Well for Basic D&D you can get up and running really fast. Character creation is quick, you can be right into the action in under an hour.

I also use D&D Basic to sell people on the game by appealing to their sense of history, I talk about how many others have traveled the same paths they have. I appeal to their nostalgia.  With "Stranger Things" so prominent in the media now this is a good hook.

Gateway to Adventure

"So many heroes have walked this path, but so many more are now forgotten. Which one will you be?"


RPGaDAY2022



Wednesday, August 3, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 3 - When were you first introduced to RPGs?

I believe I have shared this story before, but it never hurts to re-share.

For me, it was the Winter of 1979.  It was "quiet reading" time at school and I had already read everything in our school's small library on science and my new fascination, Mythology.  So instead of picking up "D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths" for the 100th time, I borrowed a friend's book that also covered all the same monsters and creatures. 

The book was the AD&D Monster Manual.

D&D gateway

The rest is history.  I tried to figure out to play on my own, made up a bunch of stuff, and then finally got a copy of the Holmes Basic book. A poorly Xeroxed copy to be exact. Until I got my hands on the Moldvay Basic set this was how I tried to play D&D.  

RPGaDAY2022


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

In Search of the Unknown / Keep on the Borderlands as the 1979 Campaign

I have been going over old notes for the past few months, re-reading some monsters I created back in the day, and wondering which ones might be good for the Basic Bestiary.  One, in particular, jumped back out at me, the Schreckengeist, which lead down a rabbit hole of notes I had collected on the adventure B1 In Search of the Unknown

The 1979 Campaign

This got me thinking about an entire campaign, or even mini-campaign, that includes B1 but also B2 Keep on the Borderlands.  These two adventures are designed to work with each other.  To do a campaign though I would need a slightly larger (but not much larger) sandbox/hex crawl.

A while back Eric Fabiaschi posted an idea on using Judges Guild 'Wilderlands of High Fantasy' & Gary Gygax's B2 'Keep on the Borderlands' As Old School Campaign.  There are links to a discussion on the Piazza and a map for "The Borderlands" for the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. Additionally, Zenopus Archives (home to all things Holmes) talked about the Warlocks & Warriors wilderness map as a hex crawl.

These have a lot of merits, to be honest, and that along with my ideas of a "1979 Campaign" have morphed into something "new" and interesting. 

Looking back over my post The Enduring Appeal of Holmes Basic & B1 I can't help but think there is something here worth exploring.  

The 1979 Campaign

The idea behind this is a campaign, likely only using Holmes Basic (so levels 1 to 3), the AD&D Monster Manual, and B1 In Search of the Unknown to create a hex crawl style adventure campaign.  At least that is the start. Over time the characters (strictly Holmes Basic ones) would move on and out to the Keep and the Caves of Chaos.

D&D 1979

The idea is to be 100% old school, though I am free to grab newer materials that expand on these areas the core will be D&D circa '79.

I suppose I could be accused of trying to chase some sort of high or feeling from my youth. And that would...not be entirely wrong. But in truth, there is no way I can recapture the feeling of 1979 any easier than I can recapture the feeling of yesterday's lunch. What I can do is try to set up something that helps me recall how it all was.

This would obviously be some sort of limited-run experiment. Holmes tops out at 3rd level.  

My current debate with myself is whether or not to include module T1 The Village of Hommlet.

There are plenty of good reasons to add it.

  1. It was released in 1979 (August 16–19, 1979 at Gen Con XII)
  2. It is a great introductory module for first-level characters.
  3. It was written by Gary so there is a certain veneer of authenticity about it.

The only reason I would not use it is because it is so deeply tied to the Temple of Elemental Evil notion. It is the starting point of the TAGDQ series for AD&D.  All the other adventures I am considering are pure Basic D&D.  While I am considering other adventures, they all tie into the B1/B2 areas of exploration.  T1 is a little different.

The Adventures

Supplemental Adventure Material

I could take all of this and put into my three-ring binder format. Hell. There is even enough room for Holmes basic in this!

If, and that is a big IF, it goes well I would even consider moving on and up. Either via Blueholme rules or take the B/X - OSE route.  In truth though I would rather keep this one light and tight as it were. Levels 1 to 3 with the goal of exploring the local wilderness (hex crawl style) and clearing out the local caves.

I also can't help but think of my Traveller Envy and the three board games I have covered here also released in 1979; Wizard's QuestMagic Realm, and Demons.  While my original goal was to mine these for ideas for my War of the Witch Queens, there is no reason why I can't also use them here.  

Wizard Quest has the players explore a wilderness area until they have collected enough treasure. In Demons the players are searching for treasure with the aid of various demons while avoiding local authorities. In Magic Realm...well I have not been able to play that one.  BUT I could incorporate the background as the past for this area. A bunch of wizards had a mighty battle here and the land is full of strange creatures and even stranger treasure.  All these wizards bringing in their bound creatures would also explain why the Caves are so full of them and so much magical treasure around. Maybe even Zelligar is the last of these great wizards.  It would also allow me to bring in weaker demons and devils from the monster manual. Though not too strong, these are only 1st to 3rd level characters.

It certainly would get me into the mood for all things 1979. Plus what is more 1979/early 80s for me than Traveller Envy? 

If I was really clever I'd collect the names of characters from people playing in 1979 and have them be some of the "named NPCs" for the background.

How about it? Were you playing in 1979? If so drop your character's name and class below!

Notes / References

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Old School Essentials: Eddie and Chrissy

Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy Player's Tome
Stranger Things is still making news and dominating all sorts of geeky-related culture and I think that is great.  While I do agree that Saddie Sink, aka Max, got absolutely robbed of an Emmy nomination this year, I am enjoying all the love that Joseph Quinn and Grace Van Dien, the ill-fated Eddie Munson and Chrissy Cunningham are getting online.

Spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4 follow.

Eddie is the metal-loving, D&D playing, "super-senior" and head of the Hellfire Club.  Chrissy is the popular cheerleader who goes to Eddie to look for drugs to help stop the visions she is getting.  Their few moment of screen-time have prompted the Duffer Brothers to come out and say they regret killing both characters because their chemistry was so good. This has led to the Internet's newest "ship" of Eddie/Chrissy, known online as #eddissy or #hellcheer.

Grace Van Dien has been on her Twitter account and is a huge #eddissy fan. 

It's cute. The metal head and the cheerleader find common ground and even become close. Hell back in, oh about the exact same time, I remember talking to a classmate when we were both outside of our high school social structures and I was very surprised and very pleased that this cheerleader I barely knew had such excellent taste in music (from my point of view).  Certainly opened my young eyes.

So yeah. I am not much of a shipper these days, but this is fun.  Then I got to see this artwork.

Well. Eddie and Chrissy might have fallen to Vecna/#1/Henry in Hawkins, but that doesn't mean a D&D version of them didn't survive somewhere!  So here they are for Old School Essentials - Advanced Fantasy.  And since I just got back from the Bristol Ren Faire I have some ideas. 

Chrissy Cunningham
2nd level Human Acrobat
Chaotic Good

STR: 12
INT: 16
WIS: 12
DEX: 17
CON: 11
CHA: 16

HP: 6
AC: 7
THAC0: 19 [0]

Saving Throws
D: 13 W: 14 P: 13 B: 16: S: 15

Acrobat Skills
CS: 88 FA: 25 HS: 15 MS: 25 TW: 65

Eddie Munson
3rd level human Arcane Bard*
Chaotic Good

STR: 14
INT: 14
WIS: 13
DEX: 15
CON: 13
CHA: 17

HP: 13
AC: 7
THAC0: 19 [0]

Saving Throws
D: 13 W: 14 P: 13 B: 16: S: 15

Powers
Bard skills, Lore, Spell Casting*

*Druid spells don't really fit Eddie, so he is getting Magic-User spells instead. The Arcane Bard from Carcass Crawler 0 is a better fit.

Bard Skills
CS: 79 HN: 1-3 PP: 30 RL: 60

First Level: Charm Person, Shield

--

Based on the wonderful art from JC above, this version of Eddie and Chrissy are street performers by day and thieves by night. I imagine they come into a town Eddie plays while Chrissy dances for tips all the while scoping out the locals.  They try to steal only from the very rich and corrupt. It usually doesn't take them long to figure out who their mark will be.  

They are not evil, so they steal what they can and give most of it away to the needy, keeping a couple of choice items for themselves. They also keep enough from their take and tips to live a comfortable, if nomadic lifestyle.

Since these characters are in OSE-Advanced, I might make them "blink and you will miss them" NPCs in my War of the Witch Queens campaign. I am going to say they have a small apartment above the tavern they perform at in the town of West Haven.  Here they just perform, no theft.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

I Am A Lying Liar from Liartown

I was cleaning up my office on Wednesday, waiting for a meeting to start when I started going through a bunch of binders I have.  In particular a few for notes on my witch and necromancer classes (maybe I'll do a necromancer one day).  Anyway, I sorted through all my notes and I found many treasures.

3.5" Floppy disk.  What treasures await??

The fruits of that labor are:

More Monsters!

And...I dug up enough information for not just two new witch books, but three.

For the last year or more, I have been talking about "My Last Witch Book" the High Witchcraft Tradition.  The High Witchcraft book is very much tied up in organizing all my notes and sources project, so I knew I was going to find new material for it today.

I knew I had a lot for it, it was just all over the place on whatever I decided to take notes on.  I thought I had maybe enough for it and another, smaller, book.  Nope. I have enough for three different books now.

I am not really ready to reveal what these other books are/will be.  I reserve the right not to do them if push comes to it.  

So. Yeah.  I guess I do have more books in me.  Though I think I am going to keep the High Witchcraft book as the Last book.

Now I just need to dig up a 3.5" floppy drive.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Review: Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy

Old School Essentials
Arguably one of the biggest success stories of the late OSR movement has been the publication of Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy (2019) and Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy (2021).  Indeed I feel that OSE has supplanted Swords & Wizardry, the darling of the middle OSR movement as the old-school game of choice.  It is the old-school game of choice here in my home game, alternating between it and D&D 5e, and seems to be the most talked-about game in the old-school discussion areas. 

This is all with good reason.  OSE is well designed, superbly organized, and has wonderful art.  There is a minimalist approach to the rules and presentation that does not detract from the experience, instead, it rather enhances it.   You can see my enthusiasm in my review of the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy Boxed set back in 2020.   So imagine my surprise when I learned I had not given OSE Advanced a proper review yet.

I have detailed my introduction to D&D many times here. But briefly, my "first" D&D was a poorly copied version of Holmes Basic with an AD&D Monster Manual.  My first "true" D&D, the one I could properly call my own was Moldvay Basic/Cook & MArsh Expert (commonly referred to as "B/X").  I would over the course of a year or so add in elements of AD&D.  Most importantly the Deities & Demigods, the Fiend Folio, and a copy of Eldritch Wizardry.  *My* D&D was always a mish-mash of Basic D&D and AD&D.  I later discovered that my playstyle was not at all unique.

Old School Essentials Advanced Fantasy Edition really strikes at the heart of what this sort of play was like.  The familiar and easy Basic/Expert rules with AD&D layered on top.  Layered is the right word, AD&D had a lot of situational rules and rules used in tournaments and rules designed to cover what looked like medieval realism.  As real that is in a world where half-elves fought dragons with magic.  OSE-AF strips this down back to the B/X style rules found in OSE-CF and then adds in what people used the most from AD&D.  No weapon speed factors, no tournament scoring, just D&D-style play.  

OSE-AF is divided into two books, the Player's Tome and the Referee's Tome.

I am a sucker for a book with a ribbon

For this review, I am considering the hardcover books I got via the Kickstarter, the PDFs from DriveThruRPG, and extra copies of the Player's Tome I picked up at my FLGS.  All books were purchased by me and none were submitted for review purposes.

OSE-AF Player's Tome
OSE-AF Player's Tome

Hardcover. Black and White and color interior art and covers. 248 pages. Bookmarked PDF with hyperlinked table of contents and index. $40.00 for the hardcover print (retail). $15.00 for the PDF.

The Player's Tome covers everything an OSE-AF player needs to know. The book details a lot of the same rules that are found in the OSE-Classic Fantasy (or read: Basic) rules.  This new book though integrates the "Basic" and "Advanced" material together with some notes on the "Advanced Fantasy" sections. One might be tempted to say that this book is not needed if you have the OSE-CF book, but that is not really the case. While there are certainly more classes, and more monsters in the case of the Referee Tome, there is still quite a lot of new material here.  Enough to make AF twice as large content-wise as CF.   

The main feature of this book, and indeed all of the OSE line, is the layout.  All material is laid out so that everything you need to read is on facing pages.  So a character class always takes up two pages (even and odd) so that when laid flat everything can be read at once and easily.  There are very few exceptions to this rule and it gives OSE it's unique look and feel. Add in the art, sparingly but effectively used, the feel is elegant, if minimalist, efficiency.   This is the same design that made D&D 4e a joy to read.  The same feeling is here.

Advanced Fantasy follows its Advanced namesake and splits character race and character class into two separate things. Basic combined race and class so you got Clerics (always human) and Dwarves (always fighters).  Here is the option that most folks want in the "Advanced" game.  In addition to the four classes and the four races of Basic, this book introduces six more races and nine more classes.

In the OSE-AF book, we get: Acrobat, Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Illusionist, Knight, Magic-user, Paladin, Ranger, and Thief.

There are also the "race as class" variants of: Drow, Duergar, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-elf, Halfling, Half-orc, Human, and Svirfneblin.  The level maximum is 14 for humans and variable for others. All race/class combinations are detailed.  This covers our first 80 some odd pages.

What follows next are guides for character advancement, equipment, animals of burden, transportation, and crews.

The next biggest section is Magic and this covers all the spells for the magic-using classes. Since the max level for any human is 14, spells are limited. Divine spellcasters are limited to the 5th level of casting and Arcane to the 6th level. The advantage here is the clerics and druids are on more equal footing with each other and so are magic-users and illusionists.  Unlike their Advanced namesake, this book does not require spell components nor are their other details given.  The spells are firmly in the Basic format.

The book wraps up with Adventuring, Hirelings, and building strongholds.  

The feel is solid B/X Basic with enough "Advanced" added in to make it feel just a little different. Or in other words, exactly how we used to play it from 1980 to 1983.

OSE-AF Referee's Tome
OSE-AF Referee's Tome

Hardcover. Black and White and color interior art and covers. 248 pages. Bookmarked PDF with hyperlinked table of contents and index. $40.00 for the hardcover print (retail). $15.00 for the PDF.

This book covers how to run an OSE-AF game.  Some of the details here are the same as OSE-CF but there are enough rules additions and clarification to make it worthwhile to anyone that has OSE-CF.

The first part covers running the game and adventures along with designing a dungeon and wilderness areas.

The next section, Monsters, makes up the bulk of the book.  All the old OSE-CF favorites are here and most of the Advanced era monsters.  In 107 or so pages we get over 320 monsters.  Again the art is light, but it is there.  We do not get any Demons or Devils, those are coming in a future book from my understanding, but it is still plenty.

The next largest section is Treasure which includes intelligent swords.

We also get sections on monster tables by terrain, strongholds, and NPCs.

The main feature of this book, and indeed all of the OSE line, is the layout.  All material is laid out so that everything you need to read is on facing pages. This is less obvious here as in the Player's Tome, but it is still a solid feature.

The two-volume set might just be the ultimate in expression of the time period in which I was doing my earliest D&D play.  There are other Basic/Advanced hybrid games out there and they all provide a good mix of their sources, but it is OSE-AF that is the closest to what I was playing then. All of the fun of Basic with the options in Advanced I loved.   The modularity of OSE also allows for expansion.  While the 1 to 14 level range covers most of what people will play there is no reason why there can't be an OSE-Companion to cover higher levels.

OSE-AF Carcass Crawler #1
OSE-AF Carcass Crawler #1

PDF only, 32 pages. Color covers, black & white interior art. $7.50 PDF.

The sometimes zine for OSE and named for the OGC version of the infamous carrion crawler.

This issue adds the new races to the Advanced Fantasy line, the gargantuan (like Goliaths), the goblin, and the hephaestan (logical, elf-like beings).  I am particularly happy with the Goblin.

New classes for Classic and Advanced fantasy are the acolyte (a type of spell-less cleric with healing), the gargantuan (race-class), the goblin (race-class), the hephaestan (race-class), the kineticist (psychics), and the mage (a spell-less magic-user with magical abilities).

There are new rules for fighters and thieves as well as black powder guns.  I like the fighter talents, help give it a bit more to do really.  They are at every 5 levels, but I might make them every 4 instead. 

OSE-AF Fantasy Reference Booklet
OSE-AF Fantasy Reference Booklet

PDF only, 32 pages. Color covers, black & white interior art. $4.00 PDF.

This handy guide covers all the major tables found in the OSE Advanced Fantasy line. For $4 it is a great little reference.

Through out all these books and the entire OSE line the art is both evocative of the old-school style and still modern enough to please new audiences.

This is the game of choice for me to introduce old-school style play to players of modern games. My regular 5e group took to it like ducks to water. They love it. They still love their 5e games, but they also like to do this one.  None of them had ever played B/X prior to this and it was a huge success.

I know that Gavin Norman and Necrotic Gnome have more material to give us for this, I hope it all lives up this new gold standard I set my OSR book to. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Review: Comes Chaos

Comes Chaos
I am a complete sucker for anything B/X.  While I have many games I love, it is B/X era D&D that really gets my nostalgia going.  So anything made for it gets my attention.  While the products, both official and fan-made, can vary in quality, I am rarely disappointed.  

One publisher that has delivered well on the nostalgia factor is Jonathan Becker of Running Beagle Games.  Becker, known for his B/X Blackrazor blog, "gets" B/X D&D.  He has demonstrated time and again that he gets how B/X is different that AD&D and indeed other Basic-era clones.  His B/X Companion remains one of my top 10 favorite books of the published OSR books.  So when he came out with a new book I jumped on it!

And...promptly forgot about it!  Ok, in my defense October is like my high holy month and I had a lot going on.   So now it is February and I figure I should come back to this one.

Comes Chaos

by Jonathan Becker.  64 pages, black & white art by Kelvin Green.  

Comes Chaos is a combination rules addition/setting for use with B/X era D&D.  It can be used with other versions of Basic D&D and the various clones, but there is a focus here.  That is appropriate for a few reasons I will touch on in a bit.

Like the Basic and Expert books of old, and his own Companion book, this is a 64 page book.  Printed with it's black and red cover it would look rather nice sitting next to the other books.  At this point Becker has enough material (CompanionComplete B/X Adventurer, and this one) for a reasonable boxed set.  Maybe one with a "3" in the corner.

ARJADEM
PART 1: INTRODUCTION

Comes Chaos deals, naturally, with the forces of Chaos (capital C) and how to use them in your game.  There is an implied setting that can be used as-is or elements can be used in any game. 

The book is formated like that of the Basic and Expert (and Companion) books, so following the flow of information is straightforward.  The difference here is that these are alternate and additional rules. 

This section also introduces the "Four Great Powers" the Demon Lords ArjaDem, MorSolahn, SeiAhsk, and TeeGal.

PART 2: RUINED PLAYER CHARACTERS

Here we get alterations to the seven player characters classes. Clerics of gods of Law, for example, cannot use reversed versions of their spells. But their "Turning Undead" chart is not extended to include the demons of this game.  There is a new Magic-User "sub-class" (that word is not used) in the Chaos Sorcerer.  This class works a bit like the Sorcerer or Warlock of other D&D games. It uses Intelligence as a Prime, but I am going to change it to Charisma. 

The next part of this section deals with Corrupted characters and Chaos Champions.  Corrupted characters are ones that started out "good" and then fell into chaos.  Chaos Champions start out chaotic. These characters also gain the favor of one of the four powers. 

The four powers and their gifts are covered last. The four masters are unique to this book but remind a bit of the sort of creatures one might find in the writings of Moorcock. Not quite demons, not quite Lovecraftian horrors, but a little bit of both.  There is also a desire, and this might just be me, to link them up with the old AD&D Elemental Princes.  Maybe because there are four.

PART 3: TAINTED MAGIC

Magic gets some changes in Comes Chaos.  Both Clerics and Magic-users now have some restrictions on what spells they can normally cast.  We also get some new Dark Sorcery spells used by Chaos Sorcerers, Demons, and Chaos Champions.  Additionally, some spells are "patron" spells for three of the four Chaos Masters.  The other Master, ArjaDem, forbids their followers from using magic. 

The spells are in B/X format and there are eight per level for levels 1 to 6.  Some are repeats of other B/X spells. There are enough new spells to keep players on their toes when dealing with a minion of chaos. 

Chaos at work
PART 4: EXPLORING THE WASTES

The Wastelands are areas that are corrupted by Chaos.  Spending time in these lands also leads to corruption and mutations in the living creatures here.  This section also has other hazards such as how long food and water will last, how much movement and time is changed, and what sorts of strange occurrences and creatures that can be encountered.   The section has a whole Colour out of Space feel to it. 

PART 5: BLOOD AND SOULS

This section deals with encounters and combat. Alterations are given for Champions of Chaos and demons as well as others dealing with these threats.

PART 6: BEASTS AND DEMONS

This is our monster section and it has 37 new monsters.  As expected 19 of them are demons and 4 are undead.  There are also corrupted versions of other monster types (elves, dwarves, etc) that can be used as guidelines for other corrupted monsters not listed.  

The demons depicted here are not the Demons of the AD&D monster manual. Nor are they the demons of Earth myth and legends.  These are new creatures unique to this book.  There are some interesting ones here and again the feeling is not quite demons and not quite Lovecraftian horrors, but a combination of the two.

PART 7: UNHOLY TREASURES

This section covers the treasures you can find with these creatures or in the wastelands.

PART 8: DEMON MASTER INFORMATION

The person running these games is called the "Demon Masters" which is just a way really to use "DM."  This section covers how to deal with corruption, magical research and chaos magic, and how to design a wasteland.

There is another class presented here, the Witch Hunter, from the Complete B/X Adventurer. Despite the success and dare I say universal approval of his own Companion Rules, this class only goes to level 14.  Though it is mentioned that levels 15-36 can be found in the Adventurer book. 

In fact the next section covers using this book with the Complete B/X Adventurer and the B/X Companion. 

PART 9: SLAVE-LORDS OF CHAOS

This section covers how to run an "evil" game including unique experience point rewards.

Comes Chaos is a great extension to any B/X style game.  Especially ones where "Chaos" is more of a factor than say "Evil."

Chaos in Comes Chaos follows the implicit guidelines originally set up in Moldvay Basic.  Chaos is not just a philosophy or moral outlook, it is a force and "thing" that must be dealt with. I feel this book does a good job in trying to expand on this notion and make it something to use in your games.

The ideas presented here are not all unique; Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Dungeon Crawl Classics cover similar ground in terms of Chaos as a Force to Fight and Realms of Crawling Chaos for the Lovecraftian Chaos is a Force.  Comes Chaos though combines these ideas into something that is uniquely B/X.  Yes both LotFP and Realms of Crawling Chaos have strong B/X roots, but this is explicitly B/X.  

Given this, Comes Chaos should work well with Old School Essentials as well.  Though one gets the feeling that OSE is more like "The Hobbit" than it is "Colour Out of Space."  Though I am not sure it would feel the same for Advanced versions of the Old-School games since there is a focus on Good vs. Evil there as well. 

The art by Kelvin Green is great and having one artist to do all the work gives the book a united vision. 

It is available at DriveThruRPG where it is currently just under $14.  The rule of thumb I have adopted over the years is 10¢ per page, which would place this at $6.40.  The price is twice that, but I still feel it is worthwhile.  Again this is a rule of thumb, not a hard and fast rule. 

There is no print-on-demand option on DriveThru for this.  Though none of Running Beagle's books have this.  You can though get print copies of this and all their other books from their website.  Print copies of Comes Chaos are $27.99 and handled via PayPal.

Comes Chaos also is not released through the Open Gaming License.  Not an issue to be honest, but I look at it as a way the creator/publisher "gives back" to the community.  Generally speaking, OGL products sell better than their non-OGL contemporaries/counterparts. 

Comes Chaos is a fun supplement.  I used similar ideas when running my B/X games in the past I will adopt some of these ideas to use in my current OSE game.  I am not likely to use the four demonic princes, my game has a solid cosmology, but I might adopt them for a 5e game I am running that could use Chaotic Evil figures like these.  

Who should get this?  DMs that want to add a little chaos effects to their games but do not want to go the full Dungeon Crawl Classics route.  DMs that play/run B/X and/or OSE in particular. 

This is also for DMs that enjoy the classical roots of the game but whose interests lean more towards Moorcock rather than Lovecraft.

For me, the price and the lack of the OGL keep it from being a perfect addition to my games.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Review: Chromatic Dungeons, Part 1 Basic Rules

Edited to add:  Here are all the parts to this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

The craziness that  is October is behind me now, time to settle in and read some books and do some reviews.  I have been planning to do this one now for some time and this feels like the best time for me.

For the next few days I am going to review the new Old-School Game on the block, Chromatic Dungeons from Roderic Waibel and Izegrim Creations.  Waibel ran a very successful Kickstarter for this over the Summer and the physical books and PDFs have been in my hands since the very start of Fall. I am happy to report I am very pleased with what I have received. I interviewed Waibel back when his Kickstarter was live so you can get an idea of the goals of Chromatic Dungeons.   I'll refer back to that to see how well his stated goals were met for me.

Chromatic Dungeons

Let me begin with noting that that there three distinct reviews I am doing here this week.  The first covers the "Basic Rules" made up of Player's Book and a Monsters & Treasures book.  The "advanced" or full game of Chromatic Dungeons will be tomorrow. Finally a zine-like product, The Gnoll Sage, will be after that.

Chromatic Dungeons, Basic Rules

Basic Rules, Player's Book. 86 pages, soft-cover, color cover art, black & white interior art.
Basic Rules, Monsters & Treasures. 58 pages, soft-cover, color cover art, black & white interior art.

Chromatic Dungeons, Basic Rules

For this review I am considering the two soft-cover Basic Rules books and PDFs.  

The Basic Rules of Chromatic Dungeons consists of two books a Players Book and a Monsters & Treasures book.  The material for the Game Masters is split between the two books.  Players only need the Player's book, but the GM will need both.  Considering the prices of the books this is not a problem.

The guiding principle for Chromatic Dungeons is to provide an old-school ruleset, say circa 1981, but still have some new school sensibilities.  Because of this it does not make much sense to call Chromatic Dungeons a "retro clone."  It is an old school game yes, but the rules inside are an interesting mix of old and new school mechanics.  I will point these out as I move through the text but to put the major selling point up front, this is the game you are likely to have the most success with when introducing old school play to newer players.  I will detail more (and a few more times) as we progress.

The Basic Rules are designed to introduce new players to the CD game.  It has a lot in common with it's progenitor game, Dungeons & Dragons, in particular the 1981 Moldvay Basic set.  It is written for people that have never played before.  This is still a good thing since one of the goals I believe of this game IS to introduce new players to old-school gaming.  

Basic Rules, Player's Book
Basic Rules, Player's Book

We get an Introduction and Forward that helps explain the nature of this game, but also to set the stage for what we will see. The author wants to make it plain up front that this is an inclusive game and that everyone should feel welcome to it.  This includes a brief overview of the game and a brief glosary of game terms to get everyone going.

Character Creation is first with the character concept and the rolling of ability scores.  The method used here is 4d6, drop the lowest and arrange to suit your concept. This strikes a good balance between getting the character you want and old-school randomness. Want 3d6 in order? That game was already written and likely you already have it.  After this you choose your Ancestry (and Heritage), Class and get equipment.  Lets go into some detail here.

XP per Level is covered first. Each class uses the same XP value much like you see in 21st century D&D games (3rd Edition and beyond).  This has a number of advantages of course.  Multi-classing becomes easier and it helps keep level progression fairly even.  Also it helps the intended audience, new gamers, become acclimated faster.  (Editorial aside: I have taught many players whose first experiences were 3e, Pathfinder or 5e and they adapt to differing XP level charts fine; often with an occasional reminder that the thief is higher level because of it. But still this is easier.)

Ability Scores are the standard six we are all familiar with.  Like the Moldvay Basic set the scores run 3-18 with simple modifiers they all share. Note. These mods are slightly different than what you might find in B/X, Labyrinth Lord, or Swords & Wizardry, so make sure you put them on your character sheet and don't go by memory.  A simple ability check system that is compatible with, well, really all sorts of versions of D&D/Clones is presented.

Note in this version of the Chromatic Dragons game there are no "Saving Throws" but rather specialized ability checks.  For example to "save" against some mind affecting magic you need to make a Wisdom check.  This actually works rather well in my mind.

Ancestry and Heritage is the system used to replace the antiquated notions of "Race."  Essentially this is a "Nature and Nurture" idea where Ancestry is your genetic or biologic make up and Heritage is how and under what conditions you were raised.   For ancestry you can choose Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, and Human. Each has details common to members of the same Ancestry. Dwarves are short, live to 300 years or so, and also something called "solid build" which gives them the ability to reduce damage by blunt object by 1 point. Humans get to add 1 point to any ability score, elves don't need to sleep and so on.  Heritages are how you you were raised.  So this helps give players a bit of character creation control to that backstory in their minds.  You choose two heritages and the list can easily expanded.  For example you can be born a halfling and have all the benefits of the halfling ancestry, but maybe you lived in a a Dwarf community, so you have the heritages of "Crafting" and "Subterranean."

This is a great concept and one I would wholesale adopt for all my games in the future. It just works too well for me. But I do have a couple of nitpicks with how it is done here.  First under Ancestry everyone gets a language of their ancestry.  This is something I feel better goes under Heritage.  And there are some heritages that are better suited for ancestry.  For example my Halfling who grew up in the Dwarven community knows how to speak Halfling due to their Ancestry and has Infravision due their "Subterranean" heritage.  I can see "Dark Adapted" working, or even the ability to detect sloping corridors; but infravision feels like something you should be born with and languages are something that are learned later.  Again, a minor nitpick, but one I will adjust when playing.

Basic Rules Art
Character Classes cover the three basic classes; Fighter, Rogues, and Wizard.  Other 3-class games call these Warriors, Rogue (or Expert) and Adept, but the names in the book are more suited to this genre and make translations to the "Advanced" game easier.  Each class get an ability bonus, much like you see in newer games.  So fighters get a +1 bonus to Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity.  This can be easily rationalized as training. Each class also gets a set of abilities.  Note, the Rogue abilities are presented using the same system as all other ability checks.  They get bonuses for particular abilities; same name as the thief abilities of other games.  Each level they gain 6 points to improve their 9 abilities as they choose (reminds me of 2nd Ed AD&D's Rogues).  I do rather like this, yes it is different from the multiple subsystems that was either the curse or the charm of old-school games (depending on your point of view) but it also makes for a speedier game.  Wizards for this game cover wizards, magic-users and clerics.  Another small nitpick, since there is the Advanced game, I would have called this class a Magic-user, and then when the classes are separated out in the Advanced game called the Magic-users Wizards.  But again, this is minor.

Alignment is a basic, or rather Basic, affair of just Law, Neutrality and Chaos. 

Equipment covers everything you can buy.  I remember running some friend through the Keep on the Borderlands years decades ago and they spent the entire adventure shopping in the Keep and trying to get deals.

How to Play covers all the Basic rules starting with movement.  Movement scale is closer to that of newer, 21st century forms on D&D. We also get good coverage on time, vision, stealth and more.  Discussions on what you can do on your turn are detailed.  At this point we have read a little about about combat, but not all of it. That comes up now with initiative.  Here we are using a hybrid of Basic and 2nd Edition inspired initiative sequence.  We also get Morale another Basic/2nd Ed hybrid, but based on a max score of 10 as opposed to 12 (Basic) or 20 (2nd Ed). 

Armor class is Ascending, not Descending.  This is good since it gets rid of the need for attack tables. Characters have an attack bonus and they roll vs. AC. 

Experience Points are pretty much the same as seen in earlier versions of D&D.  A bit on creating adventures is given and a sample adventure is provided.

Wizard Spells follow.  Since there is only one spell casting class, all the spells to 5th level are here.

We end with a blank character sheet, Appendices of tables, sample characters and a combat quick guide.

Basic Rules, Monster & Treasure
Basic Rules, Monster & Treasure

This book is primarily for Game Masters.  

The bulk (2/3) of the book is about monsters.  It starts off with what the descriptions of the monsters mean, how to read the stat blocks and so on. The stat block is pretty similar to what is found in *D&D circa 1981, so reading or even adapting to other games is easy.  While XP values are listed Treasure type is not. 

There is a section on special monsters, such as having the abilities of a character type or class. As well as assigning numbers for ability checks for monsters.  Something that will be easier in the "Advanced" version of the game. 

The monsters are grouped by category rather than all alphabetical. The Categories are Beasts, Dinosaurs, Dragons, Elementals, Fey, Fiends, Giants, Humanoids, Lycanthropes, Monstrosities, and Undead. Nearly all the usual suspects are here. 

Some monsters are given the alignment of "n/a."  This is typically true of creatures that are too unintelligent for alignment such as dinosaurs, or humanoids that can be any alignment.  I do think for creatures like beasts, dinosaurs and elementals that "neutral" would have been fine and for humanoids "any" would have worked.  Fiends are all Chaotic and so are most of the Dragons, Giants, and Undead.  

The Treasure section covers not only magical treasures as expected, but gives us an alternate treasure type system based on the monster's HD.  So not dissimilar to 3e or 5e. 

Both Books

Both books are filled with evocative old-school style art.  Some of it from various stock art artists the Old-School community knows, but a good deal is original and new art.  Much of it clearly enfluenced by 40 years of playing.  The art goes beyond "Euro-centric" D&D art and variety of ethnicities, genders and peoples are represented. 

Both books are really directed and written for people coming into the Old-School RPG scene anew. While there is a lot to enjoy here if you are an old Grog, and the art in this case is a particular treat, the audience that will get the most out of this are a generation younger.  If you still have your original D&D books from the 1970s and 80s you will still find enjoyment here. Especially if you are like me and enjoy seeing the design choices of "D&D's Greatest Hits" here.

Both PDFs are fully bookmarked.  Both books are fully OGC.

This game is a great game to introduce new players, new to RPGs or new to Old-School style games, to the ways of playing of the 1980s.  Sure it is not exactly how we did it, but it is a great compromise between Old and New school.  This game is also the perfect introduction to the "Advanced" game of Chromatic Dungeons.  Finally, someone has made a "Basic" game that works great as an introduction to an "Advanced" game and one that works well enough on it's own.  Yes, yes there is Old-School Essentials and Labyrinth Lord that have both Basic and Advanced options, but Chromatic Dungeons' Basic game is truly that, an introductory game, "Basic" and "basic" at the same time.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the full Advanced game.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Back Home from GenCon 2021!

I just got back home from GenCon 2021.  We had a great time.  We stayed in masks a lot and we spent a little more time playing games in our room and outside, but all in all, we took a lot of precautions, washed hands a lot, and of course got vaccinated a while back.  

For this Con, I did not continue the Order of the Platinum Dragon campaign.  I have been building something cool for it and taking it to Gen Con would have been a pain in the ass.  Instead, we continued on with the War of the Witch Queens campaign.  Everyone really took to Basic Ear D&D well and my son even bought his own copies of Old-School Essentials.

Basic D&D

We picked up our Old-School Essentials at the Games Plus booth. They had a bunch on Day 1 and were completely sold out by Day 3!

Games Plus' Booth

Games Plus' Booth

Games Plus' Booth

Oh. And despite some claims to the contrary, Gen Con was still full and there were plenty of people here.  We spoke to a few of the restaurant workers and a few owners and they were thrilled that Gen Con was back, even in this limited fashion.

Still crowded

Still crowded

Still crowded

People stayed in masks, for the most part. Though we are still going to quarantine for a bit just to be safe. 

We picked up some great games too.  The kids both work now so they were able to spend their own money. Which is great, cause I bought a lot for me.

Games

Games

Games

So far our favorite has been The Red Dragon Inn by Slugfest Games.  We had a blast with it. I have been wanting it for a bit now and I am glad we got it.

We played some NIGHT SHIFT and that was great.  While we were playing this guy stopped to see what we were playing. He mentioned he wanted to introduce his 10-year-old daughter to D&D.  Long story short, the drummer of the band Shinedown watched our game. I gave him a copy of NIGHT SHIFT, which he loved. 

Not sure what our plans are for next year, but we had a great time this year.  Glad to be back at Gen Con.