Thursday, December 31, 2009

10 for '10: New Year Gaming Resolutions

Here's hoping everyone has had a great holiday season, and has a debauched and (reasonably) safe New Year's Eve! If you haven't yet, he sure to grab your copy of the 2009 Beyond the Black Gate Compendium. Thanks for all the kind comments on this, I hope you get as much use out of it as I do.

Now on to my top 10 Gaming Resolutions for 2010:

1. More Gaming! While I enjoyed more old-school sessions in 2009 than in 2008, I still would like to get a regular weekly thing going. Optimistically, I've talked to quite a few local old-school ex-gamers over the last year or so, and with a little effort via phone and email, I can probably put something together.

2. More Writing! As I put the finishing touches on the Warriors of the Red Planet rough draft and an as-yet unannounced project (see certain past blog entries for clues!), I hope to get still more projects rolling for 2010. I have to say writing with an old-school ethic has certainly been liberating compared to the d20 projects I've worked on in the past. I've actually had to "re-train" myself to focus on real text rather than rules-crunching, and its been very educational.

3. See Warriors of the Red Planet published! As this gets closer and closer to a form I'm not terminally embarrassed of, I'm getting more and more excited about actually seeing it in print. Partnering up with the amazing Thomas Denmark really raised the bar on this for me, and made me seriously focus on turning what was basically a pet project of house rules for Sword & Planet gaming into something I can be proud of.

4. Convert at least one non-gamer. If you had asked me five years ago whether these great old-school games would actually see a resurgence, I would have had my doubts. I think its fantastic how things have taken off in just the last year or so, due in large part to the hard work of the RC, adventure, and supplement authors, the contagious enthusiasm of so many great bloggers, and the publishers of awesome old-school mags like Knockspell, Fight On!, and Green Devil Face. So here's hoping everyone does there part and brings at least one new gamer into the fold this year to enjoy this stuff.

5. Run a public Demo. I ran a couple of Megadungeon demos this year for friends, and this coming year I'd like to step it up a notch and run some at local cons. Also, 4E has made the local D&D Meetup chapter grow to huge numbers, and they welcome all manner of games, so I'm planning to run a few demos for these guys, too!

6. Contribute to Old-school Magazines. One of the more frequent comments I see on the blog is "you should submit this to (insert magazine title here)", so I plan on doing just that. Thanks for everyone's support and encouragement! You should see my first effort (already submitted) in print very soon...

7. Watch more Cheesy Movies. Since expanding my cable service (and, sadly, my cable bill *sigh*), I've rediscovered my love of cheesy sci-fi, fantasy, and horror flicks, and subsequently rediscovered how much cool stuff is out there to mine for great gaming ideas.

8. Expand my Pulp Library. Thanks in large part to Grognardia's awesome pulp library features and Paizo's wonderful Planet Stories, my appreciation for classic pulp fantasy and sci-fi continues to grow. I hope to post reviews of my more interesting finds here on the blog at least monthly.

9. Talk about Health. Is it gaming related? I don't know, but we all joke about "Gamer's Disease", and it's no secret our hobby doesn't involve a lot of healthy eating/exercise, and many of us are soon-to, or have long-since, passed the dreaded, evil, forty-mark. There have simply been too many health-related tragedies in our hobby in the last few years to pretend there's not a problem. Is there a way to effectively promote healthy living hand-in-hand with gaming? I'm not sure, but I have some ideas, so stay tuned for more on this subject.

10. Help Promote Retro-clones at Game Stores. With Swords & Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord in print, I plan on making a point of visiting any local game stores and encouraging ("we wouldn't want any accidents to happen, now would we?") them to get these on their shelves ASAP.

So what are your gaming resolutions for the big '10?

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Gift for You.

I Hope everyone's having a great Christmas! My guys have been up for hours already breaking in the Wii, who woulda thought, a video where you stand up and move around instead of sitting and staring with glazed eyes...;)

Click here to download my Christmas gift to all of you: The Beyond the Black Gate 2009 Compendium.

Its packed with charts and other fun stuff I use at the table. Print it up "little booklet" style for maximum old-school effect. Hope you like it!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Savage Swords of Athanor

One of my favorite bloggers, Doug of Savage Swords of Athanor, has put up his Weird Science Fantasy Goodness on LuLu. From the blurb:

"Savage Swords of Athanor is a science fantasy campaign setting and rules supplement for Swords and Wizardry. Athanor is a dying world with crumbling ruins, lost technology, dinosaurs, and ancient slumbering evil. Savage Swords of Athanor includes: new character class (the Rogue); modified spell lists and rules for magical mishaps; new races; a wilderness map, encounter charts, and key; and new monsters and items. This supplement includes material presented in the Savage Swords of Athanor blog, compiled, cleaned up and expanded as well as new material."

Get it here!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Warriors of the Red Planet - Dungeoncrawling on Mars

As I re-read several of Burrough's Martian books while working on Warriors of the Red Planet, I was surprised to note just how much action takes place in what we gaming fans would consider to be "dungeons". In fact, nearly every book features some sort of Underworld action. Burroughs was not alone; from the great cavern-factories of Kline to the mountain hive-cities of Norman, from a strictly literary perspective, "dungeoncrawling" seems more a part of Sword & Planet adventure than most "standard" fantasy fiction! To name a few:

The "Pits" - First introduced in A Princess of Mars, the martian gaol, or "Pits", is a maze of underground corridors and cells. Typically, these are huge complexes, but the martians seldom utilize more than a small area of them, leaving the rest to grow wild and frightening, inhabited by nameless, unseen horrors that feast upon forgotten prisoners. Most are also honeycombed with tunnels gnawed by the ulsio, the fearless, repugnant, hairless martian rat, a creature about the size of a large terrier and with the disposition of a wolverine. No prisoner may sleep peacefully in a martian dungeon for fear he will awaken with an ulsio trotting off with his arm in its mouth! Also, the gaols often feature hidden shops and laboratories, or may intersect with the buried ruins of long-dead cities.

Underground Rivers and Lakes - There are no true above-ground rivers or seas on Barsoom, but deep below ground are many tributaries leading to the River Iss, a mighty subterranian river. When the long-lived martian grows weary of the bitter struggle of life, he or she ventures into the underworld to follow the Iss to the martian paradise, the mythical Valley Dor, where they may rest amid peaceful surroundings (see Gods of Mars for more on this!). The course of the underground river is fraught with fearsome predators and natural hazards, and few indeed make it as far as Dor.

Ice Caves - The great glaciers of the north are riddled with tunnels and great caverns, many haunted by the fearsome Apt, a bloodthirsty predator. It is rumored that inhabited lands beyond the icy walls may be reached via these tunnels (see Warlord of Mars for more on this!).

Underground Cities - Some two miles beneath a great volcano lies the black underground sea of Omean, and on its shores and burrowed into its walls is the fables city of the Pirates of Mars, once rumored to come from the nearer moon of Mars. The city is a maze, with great chambers, flooded passages travelled by submarine, a great arena for gladitorial combat, sunless gardens of unearthly beauty, great temples that revolve with the passage of time, and trap-filled secret corridors and concealed doors linking every thing together. Elsewhere on Mars is a great underground city of tunnels, populated by repulsive, crablike creatures which ride headless humans like horses, and still elsewhere a buried, lost city populated by ancient undead who nonetheless believe themselves to be alive!

"Lost Worlds" - Subterranean cavern complexes and deep, shadowed valleys offer rich opporunties for the fearsome monsters of bygone ages to pick out an existence feasting on the occasional traveller or sacrificial victim. In Fighting Man of Mars, the adventure follows a cavern and underground river haunted by monstrous reptiles. Fighting through this only leads to the even more fearsome Valley of Spiders!

Megadungeon - Obviously, the potential for a Megadungeon in a Sword & Planet setting is immense, just drawing from a few resources like those mentioned above. A Martian Underworld location like Omean, perhaps a version conquered and left in ruins ages ago, to be populated only by rampant monsters, the degenerate remains of the original city's inhabitants, and the obscene, failed experiments of a mad scientist still plying his trade in the deepest Pits, would make for an immense dungeon that could span many campaigns worth of adventuring! Imagine an area like this:

Area 2.33: The Vault of Seven Chieftains -
he staggering dimensions of this natural cavern are almost too huge to define. Far above, ancient globes of irradium light still dimly illuminate the glittering strata of platinum and rubies that run through the ceiling. Opposite you, set into the wall, are forty-foot-high steel doors inscribed with the heiroglyphics of a bygone age. A crystal bubble filled with gold and silver clock-work gears joins the two doors together where a handle and keyhole would normally be set. A forest of stalacmites and stalactites obscures the far reaches of the cavern to either side of you, but you detect a hint of movement, and something dark scratches at the corners of your mind...
ine Hrecha lurk in the far corners of the room, waiting for their master, Bors Borsinn, a 5th level Mentalist, to summon them to the feast. At even intervals around the cavern are seven crystal sarcophagi containing the perfectly preserved bodies of long-dead chieftains with faintly purplish skin (a race that died out eons ago). Their jewelled harness and ornate weaponry are worth in excess of 1200gp, but each sarcphogus is trapped with a gas that causes a slow rot (1hp per turn damage for 3d4 turns) to any standing within 10', failing a save. The bubble on the door can only be opened telepathically by reading a series of nineteen formulae inscribed upon the door. The heiroglyhics may be deciphered by a Scientist of 3rd level or higher. The skeleton of a Great Albino Ape lies just to one side of the door, covered in some faintly-glowing green fungus.

Hrecha: HD 5; HP 30, 25x2, 22, 20x3, 12x2; AC 5[14]; Atk 4 claws (1d4) or 1 bite (2d8); Move 6 (fly 18); Save 13; CL/XP 5/240XP; Special: Fly-By Attack (-2 to hit flying Hrecha).
Bors Borsinn, Mentalist Lvl5; AC 5; HP17; Powers 3/2/1; Irradium Pistol, Gas Belt, 22pp.

Past Previews

Friday, December 18, 2009

Still more on ships!

Check out the RPG Corner today for Ships of the Wilderlands, which includes some nice info on the Galley, Corbita, Longship, and Xebec.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More on ships - the Crew

Ship's Crew

Of course, a skilled and reliable crew was as important to a successful expedition as a sturdy and reliable ship. With a crew of only about twenty sailors, every man had a place on the Caravel. Some of the more important positions included:

Captain - A good captain will have served in every other position on a ship, and know the workings of the ship inside out. Some captains, however, attain their position through wealth or position in society, and must rely more heavily on the other ranking crew members. A captain needs to be familiar with supplies, travel times, costs of provisions, materials, and repairs, and a dab hand at maintaining crew morale is a must, especially for long voyages.

First Mate - As the captain's right-hand-man, the mate needs to be just as familiar with the workings of the ship as the captain, and also serves as a force for intimidation and order as well, especially for smaller crews with no official "sergeant-at-arms", and may also serve as quartermaster, allotting provisions and alcohol rations as necessary.

Boatswain - The boatswain is essentially the foreman of the deck crew, overseeing the basic operation of the ship, inspecting the rigging, planning and scheduling sailor's work duties, etc. Getting on the boatswain's bad side was a good way to spend a long voyage scrubbing out decks and emptying slop buckets.

Pilot/Navigator - A must for any but the shortest, shore-hugging voyage, the Navigator is responsible for plotting a course and knowing where exactly the ship is at all times. A Navigator lives and dies by his knowledge of the seas he travels, and jealously guards his maps and charts (cool map at the link). A Navigator with an extensive and accurate collection of charts is able to hire himself out at a premium. Not unlike the priests of a mystery cult, Navigators closely keep their secrets, preferring the masses to remain ignorant of the scientific truths they utilize. They are able to use an hourglass, the stars, the wind, position of the sun, magnetism, and other less obvious clues of nature to know where they are at and where they are going.

Arms and Armor

Despite the popular Hollywood view of ship-board combat, sabres and pistols waving, the common arms of the common sailor were a lot less glamorous. Swords were typically the arms of the nobility, requiring expensive training, and pistols, also expensive, don't often feature in most pseudo-medieval fantasy campaigns.

Pin - The most common shipboard weapon was the Pin, a heavy wooden, clublike implement (sometimes filled with lead for added weight) used to secure rigging, hatches, and within easy reach all over the ship. It makes for a handy and deadly weapon. Suggested damage for the Pin is 1d6.

Hook - Used for hauling cargo and pulling heavy ropes, rigging, and sails, the Hook was another weapon always within easy reach, and was often used in combat to pull an enemy sailor into a death-blow from a knife or hatchet. Suggested damage is 1d4, and target must save vs. Paralyzation or suffer automatic damage from a weapon held in the assailants other hand.

Hatchet - The hatchet was also kept within easy reach at all times, as often rigging needed to be cut free quickly to avoid damage to the ship or sails in inclement weather. It's short handle made it an effective weapon in crowded shipboard conditions. Suggested damage for the Hatchet is 1d6.

Crossbows - Crossbows were a common weapon of medieval ship-to-ship combat, and special oils and grease were needed to keep strings, screws, and cranks functional in the salty sea air. Quarrels dipped in pitch and set afire were a particular menace. Unlike traditional long or short bows, crossbows required little training and were more effective in cramped conditions.

Armor - Armor is typically not worn on ships, more due to its restriction on movement than for any fear of sinking (many sailors couldn't even swim, and freezing cold often finished off those that could!), but some more militant crews wore piecemeal scraps of leather, helms, bracers, coats, boots, and the like (this sort of "armor" should convey a bonus of no more than 1 or 2 to AC). Ship's marines usually wore whatever armor their infantry counterparts wore, though they typically engaged in sea-to-land combat, not ship-to-ship. Sailors, spending months or even years aboard their ships, become intimitately familiar with their confining deck conditions, and its recommended that ship-to-ship attackers suffer a -1 penalty to-hit defenders.

Sand - An another important defensive implement on ships was sand, and many barrels were kept on board. Sand was used to douse fire (such as that from naptha or "greek fire"), and to give slippery or bloody decks more traction.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


One of my favorite comics as a kid was Elfquest. Short of the Conan comics (and Epic and Heavy Metal, to an extent), there just wasn't a lot out there to offer the fantasy and comic fan, and I stumbled across Elfquest well into its run. For several months strait, I would go out to breakfast with mom on Saturday morining, and run across the street to the local book/comic store (this is Wilson's Books and the Family Kitchen, if any of you are familiar with St. Petersburg, FL; both, amazingly, are still there, and still fantastic) for a back issue, and a large part of the week would be spent poring over the pages, caught up in the rich imaginary world of its creators, Wendy and Richard Pini.

If you're not familiar with the comic, it follows the tale of a tribe of elves who are driven from their idyllic forest home into a savage prehistoric wilderness. They are the dimished scions of a group of tall, powerful elves that accidentally "crashed" their plane-travelling castle into "our" world, where magic is weak and hard to come by. They were vulnerable to the weak but vicious tribes of humanity they encountered, and were scattered across the world into small enclaves fighting for survival. Despite the often "cutesy" art, the story ventures into some surprisingly dark territories as the main characters encounter other tribes of elves, many twisted and changed by their circumstances, some irredeemably.

I bought four compilations gathering the original 20 issues of the series together in full color (the original comics were black & white) several years back, and was surprised after a recent re-reading that the story still resonated with me. The Pinis and others have since continued the story in later editions, but those new storylines seem unfamiliar to me and nowhere near as stirring (perhaps an inevitable change from the freedom of underground comics to the sometimes unkind influence of more corporate publishers), but I highly recommend those original 20 issues. You can read all 20 of them here at the official site (labelled "The Original Quest"), or buy them in the current editions of the four anthologies (a bit more expensive than the $12.95 price tag of the originals!).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Free d6 System .pdfs! / Trouble w/Trolls

I'm not sure if this is a limited-time promotion or not, but you can get several of West End Games's "d6 System" .pdfs free at this link, including their Fantasy, Fantasy Creatures, and Fantasy Locations.

In other news, their seem to be some copyright issues with Outlaw Press, a publisher of Tunnels and Trolls stuff. Someone's getting naught but coal & lawsuits for Xmas this year... A side by side comparison of some of the more egregious alleged infringements is here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A little info on Ships

Traveling by ship is a staple of fantasy gaming. By far the most popular ship of the mid-medieval centuries was the "Caravel", an extremely versatile vessel sturdy enough to travel long distances and yet small enough to navigate the shallower rivers and coastal regions. This makes it a great choice for both merchants and explorers, and a reliable means of long-distance transportation. Along with the cog, the carrack, and the Norse knarr, the caravel saw use for centuries and was often modified/customized for widely different, specialized purposes. Combat modifications to this ship would eventually result in its specialized evolution into the huge, notorious fighting galleons of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance.

The Caravel typically sported 2 or 3 square-rigged masts, with a triangular lateen sail on the mizzen (a small mast near the back of the ship) to help with fast tacking and manueverability. The ships weighed in at about 50-150 tons, and had a hull length of 60-90 feet, with a width of 15-20 feet. Crew size was typically 15-20, and the crew usually lived on deck, under canopies in times of inclement weather. Below-deck was reserved for cargo and stores, particularly during long voyages, and a couple of small cabins were available for the captain or important passengers. Cooking was done on deck with small coal braziers, and experienced sailors knew to supplement the usual "hard-tack" biscuits and salted meats with the occasional lemon or apple to avoid scurvy.

A good sized caravel could carry roughly 150 tons of cargo.

The average speed of the caravel was roughly 4 1/2 mph, and the ship could often manage 100 miles per day in open seas, and up to 150 miles per day - weather permitting. The narrow width of the ship made it capable of bursts of speed up to 10mph if wind conditions were favorable. In stormy conditions, the main sails would be furled to prevent the masts from breaking, and in calm or still conditions, up to 20 oars could be deployed for short periods.

A good, short glossary of ship terminology may be found here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Majestic Wilderlands - Take a Look!

Last Summer I had the privilege of getting a thorough look at the working draft of Rob's excellent Wilderlands supplement for Swords & Wizardry, and even got to play a variant Magic-User class from the book. If you're a Wilderlands fan, this is a must have; Rob offers up tons of dense, exciting content here, some of which he's been working on in one form or another for decades! If you're a Swords & Wizardry fan, the book is a great example of how very customizable the system is as a tool box to create something familiar and playable, yet totally unique at the same time.

Go here to see more.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Hexcrawl in Actual Play

Here's a sample from my campaign journal, again from the summer of '07, when I was running a lot of hex-based action. I use my campaign journals to keep track of dates, locations, and the players' most important actions. Its proved to be a great tool for running a cohesive wilderness game, and is also a good way a remembering some fun sessions that occured years ago!

Session Journal: 4436 Portly Pomp Month(4)

PP17 Hex8-3519 Party encounters Giant Slug en route to Onhir, just on the border of Arthiop mudflats. Slug injures Belegost with acidic spray. Magnus loses halbard in action, draws greatsword found in Witch-queens fortress. Kills slug in one great chop, which creates a blast like thunder.

PP18 Hex8-3411 Barrens devoid of usual dire rats. Reason becomes clear when party encounters large pack of Denuvian dragon-dogs, a reptile/wolf crossbreed not seen in great numbers since the days of the Orichalan empire. Unnaturally cunning and well-armored. Party decimates them with missle weapons and several spells from Rho.

PP19 Onhir Party met by borderwardens 3 leagues outside of Onhir. Forced to wait for special permission to enter city due to presence of the partys dwarven ranger Horthe. Permission given, elven slaves given into the care of Onhir.

PP20 Onhir Annual Beltene Fete of Brilliant Fire celebrated in Onhir. Party made guests of honor for return of slaves. Festivities include phoenix rebirth, ceremony of the fire witches, blessings of the groves by druidic circle. Other guests of feast include a visiting Antillian merchant and Lady Cilborith of Anatal. Party is gifted with masterwork strength bows by the Onhiri. Horthe adopts runt elven hunting dog (cooshee) as his animal companion.

PP21 Onhir Rho pays after-midnight visit to quarters of Cilborith to talk shop. Surprises assassin just entering sorceress' chamber. Kills him instantly with empowered fire spell. Cilborith rewards Rho with Pearl of Power 2, identifies partys takings from DCC17 for free. Notables include Thundering Greatsword (now christened "SlugBane" by Magnus), a type-2 Bag of Holding, a string of lesser Prayer Beads, and a ring of Counterspells. Antillian merchant and his retinue are discovered to have left mysteriously in the night, and a search of the assassins corpse reveals a tattoo consecrating him to Harmakhis.

PP22-30 Onhir Party spends next week or so recuperating, selling loot, repairing equipment, training, researching, and carousing. Also participates in Dire Boar Hunt in the forest, with Magnus scoring the killing blow. Rho and Cilborith spend much time together talking shop before she departs back to her small city in the Ered Perack.

Session Journal: 4436 Yellow Moon Dog Month
YMD1 Onhir Party departs Onhir in full strength, determined to reach CSIO by the War Festivals (YMD28 ) .

YMD3 Hex8-3408 Encamped for the night by River Magevin, 4 giant spiders steal silently into camp, drawn by the horses. Man-at-arms Nok on guard duty, takes poisoned wound while alerting camp. Party quickly roused, spiders killed or driven off without hardship. Wounded spider tracked to lair in the morning. Among the desiccated corpses hanging there is found a +2 Dagger and about 60gp worth of various coins.

YMD4,5 Hex8-3308 Party reached Bellystone Ford, invited to stay at Southmarch Castle under Lord Cairnols hospitality. Party treated to performance by some of the best bards in Altanis. Tibal participates on zither, only barely restrained from practicing his pick-pocketing arts on his fellow musicians by a stern eye from Magnus. A feast that night features flank of catoblepas, a rare and dangerous delicacy.

YMD7 Hex8-3105 Party climbs up into Black Baron Pass. Horthe soon notices trail of a band of ogres, probably lying in wait to ambush travelers through the pass. Stopping their party well before a natural ambush point, PCs leave NPCs behind with wagon and horses while they advance to surprise the ambushers. PCs assault ogres, driving them from the cliffs with little trouble. Horn sounds from wagon party down the trail. The party has been duped, a larger party of ogres led by a huge raging chieftain tears through the small caravan like wildfire. Party arrives to find their companions all dead or dying, only the cooshee pup still standing defiant. They rush forward into pitched melee. Magnus and Belegost are both taken down to negatives by the savage ogres, and Horthe is nearly felled as well. Things look ill until a well-placed Deep Slumber from Rho takes down the chieftain and a nasty sneak attack fells another ogre instantly. A few flee but are taken down by Rhos spells while Horthe revives Magnus and Belegost with a wand of CLW. One remaining ogre surrenders. The party takes stock of the damage: the wagon is smashed and worthless, at least half of their provisions are scattered and ruined, 2 horses slain, and they dig graves on the bluff overlooking the pass for 5 long-time NPCs: Dewer and Nok, the 2 men-at-arms, Ofreda the cook, Dalmidge the teamster, and Chuffrey the page (a teenage thief rescued from the streets of the CSIO) who actually put up a good fight against the Chieftain before meeting a gruesome end (-18hp!). Of all the supporting cast, only Sergeant Hancy (leads the partys men-at-arms) and the Cooshee are able to be saved by Belegosts healing magic. Gathering the surviving horses and provisions the battered party continues north with heavy hearts!

DMs notes
*I would have allowed the party's ranger to discover the tracks of the other ogres, thereby discovering the feint, but they never looked around, just took off - getting cocky!

*It took all of 3 rounds(!) for the ogres to decimate the party's caravan. Leaving the ogres 2 rounds to begin looting before the party arrived back on the scene, already a little battered from the first fight.

*The party's fighter, Magnus, actually fumbled his first attack against the ogre chieftain, and "SlugBane" flew out of his grasp. The ogre chiefatin then scored a critical hit against him, dropping him in 1 hit. The cleric Belegost got dropped by a critical hit from a thrown javelin. Fortunately, the elven wizard Rho had only engaged in melee in the first attack and so had a full complement of spells for the next attack, which made the difference between victory and a possible tpk.

*The sole-surviving NPC, Sergeant Hancy(War3) has been with the party since their 1st adventure "Whispering Cairn" and received enough xp in this fight to reach level 4. Most of the other NPCs were recruited during DCC3, and Chuffrey was "saved" from the mean streets on the way to DCC17. Ofreda was notorious for making stew out of every monster the party killed. Other than the ubiquitous "red-shirt" men-at-arms they go through all the time, they'll have a hard time replacing the rest of them, and a grudge against ogres for some time to come...

*The party is concerned about the assassination attempt on Cilborith, and wonder what the connection is to the temple of Harmakhis. They will be following up on this in the CSIO, especially Rho, who has taking the attack on his "girlfriend"(if you can call a terrifying 9th level elven wizardess "girlfriend") personally.

Friday, December 4, 2009

How I Hexcrawl

Here are some notes from a 2007 Wilderlands campaign journal detailing how I prep my hexcrawls for the Wilderlands of High Fantasy (JG).

Typically, I would gauge where the players were likely to travel, between point A and point B, and make a quick list of what was probably going to be in each hex. I was also very strict about the players maintaing the proper provisions, pack animals, etc, so I'd be sure to know how much resources would be needed.

With wandering monsters, I like to have certain "iconic" monsters for each area (such as werewolves in the Blighted Forest and Ankhegs in the Sunken Hills, etc), rather than a mixed bag, as it gives those areas a more distinct flavor. I would then assign a chance for an encounter based on my perceived density of the local monster population. I try to use a lot of mid-powered creatures when possible, because its easy to scale them to the party's power level by simply adjusting their numbers (ie 1 ogre for a 1st-lvl party, a band of ogres for a higher level party etc).

Here's an example of a hex-crawl prep-sheet from the back-water Altanis town of Zothay, to the secretive Elven city of Onhir, as the players were going to return some freed slaves. The numbers refer to the map (Altanis is Map 8) and the specific hex number, and I usually note the general region the hex falls into (Arthiop Mud Flats, etc).

Part One:
Black Iron Band
Hex Crawl: Zothay to Bellystone Ford via Zothay Trail (Map8, Barbarian Altanis)
6 Hexes: 8-3711, 8-3710, 8-3609, 8-3509, 8-3408, 8-3308.
Total Distance: 30 Leagues (5 Leagues per hex)
Travel Time: 1 hour/league/on horseback, 10 leagues/day, 3 days.

Party Size: 36humanoid(6PCs, 30freedslaves), 14livestock(6 riding horses, 2packhorses, 6wagonhorses), 3wagons.
Food needed: 108man-days, 42horse-days worth.

8-3711: Zothay Trail/Arthiop Mud Flats. The swamp encroaches closer to the Zothay Trail every year, and the damp stones are always haunted by clouds of biting midges and flies. Slime trails criss-cross the road for several miles. Encounter Chance: 40%.
Encounter: Giant Slug
Giant Slugs have haunted this stretch of road for years now, finding food ever scarcer in the swamps due to the rapidly increasing population of lizardmen.

8-3710: Zothay Trail/Arthiop Mud Flats. The swamp encroaches closer to the Zothay Trail every year, and the damp stones are always haunted by clouds of biting midges and flies. Slime trails criss-cross the road for several miles. Encounter Chance: 40%.
Encounter: Giant Slug
Giant Slugs have haunted this stretch of road for years now, finding food ever scarcer in the swamps due to the rapidly increasing population of lizardmen.

8-3609: Zothay Trail/Batstone Bridge. An ancient bridge spans the Murmering Stream here, each block of purplish-black stone bearing the weathered imprint of a stylized bat. Encounter Chance: 100%
Encounter: Rufus the Swamp Troll
Rufus lives under Batstone Bridge and will attempt to charge tolls to anyone crossing the bridge that does not appear to be a resident of Zothay. He only charges 5gp per traveler, and will take less from obviously poor travelers. Most travelers find it easier to pay the toll than to face the crackling javelin of lightning Rufus holds aloft while demanding his toll. Rufus is not too unpleasant for a troll, and converses merrily with those he robs, though he often includes someone named Clem in his discussions (like, "Wow, Clem, lookit this pretty necklace!"). Clem was Rufus's brother, and was killed several years ago by a war-party from Zothay, which is why such warriors now pass free of charge. Rufus would welcome a chance to cause them mischief, though, as long as his personal risk is minimal

8-3509: Zothay Trail/River Mageven. The north bank of this wide stagnant river is always swarming with clouds of biting flies and midges. The stink from the river is nauseating. Encounter Chance: 40%
Encounter: 2-5Belabras
Belabras, large floating jellyfish, hover through this area, scooping up whole swarms of flying insects for sustenance. They have no problem with tackling larger prey when it presents itself.

8-3408: Zothay Trail/River Mageven. The north bank of this wide stagnant river is always swarming with clouds of biting flies and midges. The stink from the river is nauseating. Encounter Chance: 40%
Encounter: 2-5Belabras
Belabras, large floating jellyfish, hover through this area, scooping up whole swarms of flying insects for sustenance. They have no problem with tackling larger prey when it presents itself.

8-3308: Bellystone Ford. Encounter Chance: 75%.
Encounter: Patrol from South March Citadel. Dujik Panpipes (Bard4 w/Wand of Hideous Laughter(12 charges)), 4 Veterans (Ftr2,chain, l.shield,longsword,heavy crossbow), 8 Men-at-arms (HD1, Sd.leather, l.shield,handaxe,javelin).
Water at ford unusually high for this time of year, crossing takes 1/2hour, roll extra encounter chance during crossing.
Dujik Panpipes is friendly, but thorough. Will demand search of partys posessions: coinage in excess of 100gp per individual will be taxed 5%, illegal substances or items will be seized, names of characters will be recorded. Dujik will accept a bribe of 50gp per individual to forgo his search. Will use force if needed.

Of course, the actual notes in my journal aren't quite so neat, but the above gives you a good idea of what my shorthand info means. I've found that just a quick sentence or two of description for each hex can really help me expand more greatly in-play than I would going into it blindly, and takes only a few minutes of prep-time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Torgo Thursday!

Yes, I know, its not Torgo Tuesday, but Torgo's been complaining that his presence on the blog has been light lately, and he's concerned that his servitude here won't lead to the lucrative reality TV show contract he's obsessed with getting.

So I'm giving him a Thursday this week.

As many of you no doubt know, Torgo loves nothing more (during his infrequent days off) than to raid my attic cache of cool toys from the 70's and 80's, even though he knows this typically results in a vicious beating. Last weekend I found him imaginatively engaged in a titanic struggle between two mighty forces of Japanese 80's toys: A Shogun Warrior, and the noble Space Battleship Yamato!

Which got me thinking: There's got to be a game in there somewhere, right? I mean what could be cooler than massive, brutal battles between Shogun Warriors and the powerful starships of the Star Blazers universe? I may have to put together a quick set of rules for this (scribble scribble)! I could even throw a Plush Cthulhu into the mix...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Riddle me this...

Riddles can be a fun part of RPG game sessions. Whether presented by helpful or harmful creatures, demanded in payment by fey and inscrutable oracles, or scrawled on the magically locked door of the treasure vault, they can be a nice change from combat, traps, and the other more typical challenges of an adventure.

I find it a good idea to keep a few riddles on hand on the chance an opportunity presents itself to use one. As old English and Norse literature is full of riddles, which were every bit as important an oral tradition to those cultures as the great Sagas were, its not too hard to track down some good ones to use at the table.

Riddles can range from simplistic:

Q- What is yours, yet your wife uses it much more than you do?

A- Your Name

To Long and Complex:

Q- Time was, when I was weapon and warrior, Now the young hero hoods me with gold,
And Silver. At Times men kiss me. At times I speak and summon to battle
Loyal companions. At times a courser, bears me o'er marchland. At times a ship
Bears me o'er the billows, brightly adorned. At times a fair maiden fills me with breath;
At times hard and headless I lie on the board, bereft of beauty. At times I hang
Winsome on wall, richly embellished, where revelers drink. At times a Warrior,
Bears me on a horse, a battle adornment, and I swallow, bright shining, the breath from his bosom. At times with my strains I summon the heroes proudly to wine, at times I win back
Spoils from the Spoiler, with sounding voice, put Foemen to flight! Now ask what I'm called...

A- A Horn

I prefer mid-size ones that are not too easy, but not too hard that they'll never be figured out, and with the possibility of an easy misinterpretation:

Q- A strange thing hangs by a man's thigh, hidden by a garment.
It has a hole in its head.
It is stiff and strong and its firm bearing reaps a reward.
When a man hitches his clothing high above his knee,
He wants that hanging thing to poke the old hole
Of fitting length it has often filled before.

A- A key

Some good resources for riddles are here, here, here, and here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

November OSR Roundup - Just in time for the Holidays!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Cthulhu!

There's some great stuff out this month, in case you haven't noticed, perfect for those gaming fanatics on your Secret Santa list:

Knockspell #3 - The print edition is nearly sold out, so grab your copy quick if you haven't already!

The Grinding Gear - Raggi's latest old-school elf-mincer is available at Noble Knight Games.

Stonehell Dungeon - Check out this Megadungeon built on the "one-page dungeon" concept. Also free goodies available; a preview and the "Brigand Caves"!

Companion Expansion - James at the Underdark Gazette is reporting Barrataria Games' massive, 109 page Companion Expansion available for free download and hopefully for print very soon. Built for B/E, its obviously useful for most old-school games, with classes, spells, monsters, and lots of other goodies.

The Dungeon Alphabet - is available for presale. At $9.99 with a "who's who" of old-school artists inside, this is a no-brainer.

Map of the City State - This is a huge reproduction of Bob Bledsaw's original blueprint map of the City State of the Invincible Overlord! Note this is from when the campaign was still set in Middle Earth:)

Dark Fate - Check out this low-fantasy, Horror RPG inspired by Swords & Wizardry! Available in hardcover too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Expanding the Fighting Man

Sublime in its simplicity, the OD&D/Swords & Wizardry class of Fighting Man is the ultimate fantasy archetype: man with sword, ready to face down slavering dragons and cunning wizards. One of the strengths of the Fighting Man is that you can envision him to be pretty much anything you want. Knight, rogue, mercenary, crossbowman, gladiator, duelist, the list goes on and on. No specific rules additions are *necessary* to run your own Fighting Man within the specific archetype of your choice.

Nonetheless, there are times when it is desirable to more greatly reflect the differences between the various archetypes with specific rules, and this would quickly manifest itself as D&D evolved from the LBB's into AD&D. As supplements like Dragon and Greyhawk appeared, so to did classes like the Paladin and Ranger, created whole cloth as individual classes with their own individual rules.

As players in my S&W game got interested in branching out into other types of Fighting Men, I was reluctant to add more classes to the streamlined S&W ruleset. I especially wanted to avoid the apparentl tendency to give many fighting classes spells at higher levels. Instead, I decided to simply add a few rule additions to each variant of the Fighting Man. To justify paladin and ranger-flavored Fighting Men and their extra abilities, I also had to beef up the base Fighting Man class a bit, and came up with the Warrior. All the variants would use the basic saves, exp progression, experience bonuses, etc, of the Fighting Man, but would have two or three rule-based benefits to make them stand out from the crowd.

To take a look at my variant Fighting Men, click on the link here to download it. These variants are suitable for use with Swords & Wizardry, and may easily be used with B/X, OD&D, Labyrinth Lord, S&W Whitebox, and other similar rules-lite, old-school systems.

As always, any feedback is appreciated!

Past Downloads: The Thief.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Music & D&D

I don't know about you, but my introductory years with gaming seemed to coincide with my introductory years with music. To this day, there are certain albums I can't hear without strongly associating them with D&D. Styx's "Kilroy was Here", for instance, evokes a strong mental image of myself and three buddies (sadly, I can only remember one of their names, Andrew, whatever happened to those guys anyway?) exploring the Isle of Dread on the doorstep of our cabin in summer camp ('83). Zep's Zoso album seems to be inextricably linked with the memories of my first forays into Judges Guild's fantastic Wilderlands. "Back in Black" must have been stuck on "repeat" during the garage-gaming days of high school (and I seem to remember Asmodeus himself uttering the line just before a brawl between the PCs and every arch-demon in the MM). Heck, one of the guys even designed a whole adventure around the lyrics of "Hotel California".

What music reminds you of gaming?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Some good sunday reading...

Al Harron has posted a great article at the Cimmerian about the many and surprising similarities between Howard's Cimmerians and Tolkein's Dunedain. Its a very nice piece, and there's plenty of gaming inspiration to be found!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anaxophis - Scourge of the West

Ages ago, in the Time of Legend, the Tyrant God unleashed five great dragons from his unholy Deepforge upon the world. Of the five, only one is believed to still exist: Anaxophis, known as the Scourge of the West. To the Ancients, Anaxophis was a name to inspire terror, and its deprivations are recorded in many of their darkest Sagas. The great hero, Gar Garash, known as Ironhand, sought out the beast centuries ago, carrying with him the great blade Artefex. Neither was ever seen again.

Today, rumors have drifted from the western borderlands that this ancient terror is stirring again from its last known lair, the ruins of the Night Citadel, last stronghold of the extinct race of Nef'Larim, which perished after a day and a night of flame and terror. What has stirred the dragon from its slumber is unknown. If true, it will be the first time the dragon has been seen since the cataclysmic seige of the Gates of the Forsaken Halls over a century ago.

Anaxophis appears as a dragon of the largest size, with metallic-looking scales of black iron that gleam like silver at night. It possesses a vast intellect, a legendary capacity for cruelty, and an unsurpassed arrogance.

Black Iron Dragon
Armor Class: 0
Hit Dice: 11 (88hp)
Attacks: 2 claws (1d8+2), bite (3d10)
Saving Throw: 4
Special: Breathes combustible acid
Move: 9/24 (crawl/fly)
Challenge Level/xp: 13/2300

Anaxophis' breath weapon is a cone (120' long, 30' wide) of acid that combusts upon contact with open air. This fiery breath does damage as normal for the first round, but will continue to burn and eat away any substance it has coated, causing 1d6 damage for 2d6 rounds after. Living creatures may spend a round rolling, disrobing, etc to stop this damage, but it is difficult to remove the substance from inanimate objects, so this attack often permanently ruins all it comes into contact with, such as armor, or cities.

Anaxophis casts spells as a 9th level Magic User, and typically has the following spells memorized: Charm Person, Detect Magic, Shield, Sleep, Detect Invisibility, Invisibility, Stinking Cloud, Haste, Hold Person, Suggestion, Confusion, Fear, Feeblemind.

It is possible that the dragon's hoard (rumored to be in excess of 100,000gp total worth, not including items of a magical nature) still contains the legendary sword Artefex: a +3 Two-handed sword with a pommel and crossguard resembling the head and wings of a Great Heron. The sword's blade is made of a silvery, unbreakable metal unkown to contemporary metallurgists, and is etched with runes from the Time of Legend. The sword is inimical to magic in some way, and allows a 2nd saving throw attempt if its weilder fails a save versus some magical effect or spell. If held, it allows its weilder to use the spells Clairvoyance and Darkvision at will, and will insantly heal its weilder as per the cleric spell Cure Light Wounds once per day if the weilder has suffered more than 75% of his total hit points in damage.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Megadungeon - Evolution through Play

Each time I get a chance to run my Megadungeon, The Forsaken Halls, I'm struck by how different it has become from its original form. What's most interesting is how this didn't come through sudden changes or revision, but through gradual changes made and tweaked from session to session.

For an example, I present an area of the Halls now known as the "Spider Maze". Originally, it was a sort of foyer, a fairly large open area between the bridged chasm near the dungeon's entrance, and the Halls of Madness (the "centerpiece" area of level 1). Before I moved to Swords & Wizardry, the Forsaken Halls were simply a way to test out the new 4th edition of D&D, which hadn't even been released yet; all we had were some scans of Quickplay rules from a preview at a convention, and a compilation of monsters cobbled together from peeks at early drafts of the monster manual, as well as a few pregen characters.

With these materials in hand, I dug out an old unused dungeon map, made up a quick background story, and we got down to business test driving the new edition to see if it had legs or not. That first session, it just so happened, as I was basically using monsters in order as I ticked them off on the preview sheet, that the occupants of the Foyer were something called "Deathjump Spiders". The Spiders made mincemeat of the party, forcing them to flee the Forsaken Halls altogether, and leaving one of their number behind, dead!

For the next foray into the dungeon, I knew I'd better give the players some cover, and had been reading up a little on 4E's emphasis on providing challenging terrains, so when the party next entered the chamber, it was wholly filled with sticky webs! Unphased, the party put the webs to the torch, leaving them, yet again, to the tender mercies of the deadly, leaping spiders. With some lucky rolls, they managed to win the day this time, and discovered the corpse of their fallen comrade hanging in a cocoon from the far corner of the chamber, along with several other cocoons.

The third time I ran the dungeon, it was with Labyrinth Lord, as by this time I begun exploring the retroclones a bit more. Not wanting the players to waltz through the Spider's foyer quite so easily, and wanting to add more description and exploration to what had originally been little more than a combat set piece, I changed things up again. I described the chamber to the players as a vast dark area apparently glittering with stars hovering in midair. While the area was still choked with webs, they were now nearly transluscent, and glittering with water that seeped down from somewhere high above (everyone's seen a dewey spiderweb at daybreak). No longer would the spider webs be burned away wholesale in a few short moments, the party must now hack its way through the area like an expedition from an old Tarzan Movie.

Now on its ? run, the last several with Swords & Wizardry, the area has become a winding maze through the wet, hanging webs. The players must navigate the confusing, sticky corridors in search of the way to the greater halls beyond, while some tunnels lead to secret doors, and others to the spider's abbatoir, where the dessicated corpse of that first elven ranger to die back in May of '08 still hangs alongside newer victims. All the while, spiders lurk above, below, and alongside these tunnels, ready to pick off the unwary, "Aliens 2" style.

Most of the dungeon explored thus far has been like this, shaped through the actions of the players, and my response and reactions to those actions. I can't wait to see how the countless untouched areas will change and evolve when they at last are explored as well.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lejendary Adventure - The "other" Gygax RPG

As the 20th century drew to a close, D&D was being re-worked and "re-imagined" into a whole new beast: 3.0. Unlike the advent of 2E, 3E was introduced into a time when everyone, it seems, was online. A frequent query about 3.0 was whether Gygax was involved with this new edition (he wasn't, though some token "consultations" were touted). On the contrary, Gary was immersed in his newest creation: The Lejendary Adventure RPG.

Which was largely ignored, as best as I can tell.

Debuting in 1999, "The Lejendary Rules for All Players" was released under the auspices of Hekaforge Productions, with later releases coming from Troll Lord Games. Like older editions of D&D, Lejendary Adventure was intended to be "rules lite", though based on a skill system rather than stringent class archetypes. Characters were referred to as "avatars", and some basic class archetypes were presented, more as a template than anything else. You can take a look at the Quick Start rules here, though they don't seem to present more than a very general overview of the system, along with a short, encounter based adventure.

With ENWorld serving as a sort of online hub for 3E, it wasn't long before Gary made an appearance there, and a dedicated Q&A thread was set up for him, in which he very graciously spent a lot of time answering questions and keeping folks updated on what he was doing. He also gave a lot of insight into the design and history of early D&D. Inevitably, as he first appeared on the forums frequently around late 2002, a lot of questions were posed as to his involvement with 3E, was he writing anything for 3E, what did he think of 3E, etc.

To which he often answered something along the lines of "I'm busy working on Lejendary Adventure!". Though he was usually diplomatic about it, he clearly didn't care for the d20 system and its ponderous stat blocks and rules cross-referencing, and when a d20 product did appear with his name attached, it was always "co-developed" by someone else, meaning, he turned in a manuscript, and someone else did all the annoying stat work. Questions on d20 were usually given short shrift: "As far as I am concerned, I much prefer creating in the LA game system than doing so in the D20 one", while his responses to the few and far between questions on LA showed an obviously high level of enthusiasm for the game he ran weekly and was writing for in large volume.

In fact, as you read further into these early Q&A's, you can see a certain level of frustration in Gary's responses to questions on 3E, or queries about the origins of the Drow, etc, and he seemed to be trying to steer the discussion back towards LA. Big plans were afoot for awhile, including a card game (which only saw print very briefly) and an online MMORPG (which got cancelled).

So what happened? On one hand, the power of the Brand Name is evident here: D&D 3E and LA debuted at roughly the same time, and one was obviously a bigger seller than the other. Did Gary's name not have the same draw it did even a decade earlier (or seems to have again today)? Was the Lejendary system just too far removed from D&D's for gamers returning to the hobby after a long break during the 90's to grok? Perhaps it was a simple matter of visibility - Wizards of the Coast was a giant at the time, and what exactly was Hekaforge?

At any rate, the very moment Gary Gygax would suddenly return to the public consciousness of the world (his death, sadly), giving Lejedary Adventure perhaps its greatest opportunity for exposure, also seemed to spell the game's doom. By this time, the game was being handled mostly by Troll Lord Games, and as we know, all things Gygax were swiftly removed from their imprint shortly after his death, resulting in a stunted print run of Gary's perhaps most eagerly-awaited work (the "Zagyg" dungeons) and the reassignment of LA to Gygax Games. Obviously, Gygax Games has done nothing with LA in the year since, and seems to have done what it could to alienate what fan base the game had (whether this misstep was intentional or not I have no idea).

I've never owned or run Lejendary Adventures. The quickstart rules don't do much for me, but I am interested in getting ahold of the full game and giving it a whirl, as the folks who did report playing the game gave it favorable reviews, as well as simply because Gary made it. Unfortunately, the online vendors I frequent no longer have copies of the books, and the current owners of the game aren't making new ones, so it looks like I'll have to hunt the secondary market for a copy.

If you've read or run the game, I'm interested in hearing your opinion of it, and if you were aware of the game but weren't interested, I'm very interesting in hearing your opinion on why not! :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dungeon Sets from Pied Piper

This caught my eye this morning.

Looks like a sort of "Dungeon Geomorphs" type product, with maps ready made and awaiting a DM to fill with goodies, 12 interconnecting levels. I like Andy "Atom" Taylor's cover art here, which appears to depict a couple of characters somewhat reminiscent of Mordenkainen and Robilar, perhaps a hint as to the possible pedigree of the maps within?

At any rate, I love dungeon maps, so I'll doubtless be taking a close look at these. POssibly a timely release for some as well, as there's been a bit of noise in the blogosphere lately about the difficulties of megadungeon mapping. These could likely serve as a strong starting point.

There are also some related future releases, including "a treatise—an in depth essay—on dungeon-crafting in its many facets should be of interest, so we are gathering notes to add to my already 10,000+ word MS which describes the creation of Greyhawk™ Castle, Castle El Raja Key and Maure Castle™", and Dungeon Trappings, "supplemental material of various kinds, such as new magic, spells, monsters, tricks, traps and special set pieces", "this will also include primary matter gleaned from my Original Campaign files dating back to 1973, with salient art re-rendered from my illustrations done then".

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Evolution of the D&D Cover

So what are Your top three favorite covers?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

100 Book Titles

Every so often, be it in the Forsaken Halls, or some other adventuring locale, the players come across a library, or a shelf of books. Invariably, they ask what the titles of the books are, and I'm left floundering for titles to come up with at the drop of a hat. This random table is designed to help with those situations when players want to know, specifically, what books are in that hidden case in the Necromancer's workshop.

Of course, you needn't give them up too easily. 10% or so of these should require special means to decipher them. Spells like Read Magic and Comprehend Languages are there for a reason, just be sure to reward the use of such resources with the odd scroll, treasure map, or all-new spell!

100 Book Titles
1. Offerings to Set: A Diary
2. Cocktail Recipes of the Crimson Court
3. The Prayers of Arumfus
4. Black Nights and Red Blood: A History of Lost Harnfell
5. The Rise and Fall of the Dread Emperor
6. Limericks for an Elven Fete
7. Cistikins Foul Grimoire
8. The Last Titan
9. The Teachings of the Great Nordoolus
10. Bezum's Book of Marine Engineering
11. One Bridge Too Many: Last Stand of the Excitran Cavalry
12. The Poetry of Fars Fargrim
13. A Dwarf In Shackles: Overcoming the Curse
14. Troll Recipes for Fanciful Children
15. Anatomy of the Centaur
16. Tira and the Roper: A Tale of Forbidden Love
17. Nineteen Filthy Leprechauns
18. Maps and Floorplans of Porttown
19. The Memoirs of Grewg the Pirate
20. Bleak Happenings: A history of the Mindplague
21. Drinks to liven your Existence
22. Popular Dress and Hairstyles of the Second Age
23. Aradombular: Three Plays
24. Aradombular: A Treatise of the Meaning of Things
25. Aradombular: The Philosophy of Gromus
26. Aradombular: The Pagan Essays
27. The Battle of Orichs and the Fall of Trayle
28. The Twelve Sagas of Bronn the Hero
29. Ornamental Dogs and their uses in Modern Cuisine
30. My Five Humans: An Ogre's Tale
31. Dragons: Myth or Fact?
32. The Encyclopedia Geraximus: Volume Thirty Four Ch-Cz
33. Balls
34. Military Ensignia of the Knights Emergent
35. Juiblex: The Lost Comedies
36. Ode to the Hobgoblin Maiden
37. Fifteen Holy Relics of Ylalla
38. Pyromancy: An Urban Crisis
39. Fuanatic Poisons and Their Cures
40. Klybec's Passion
41. Otyugh and I
42. Letters to the Major: A Bordercaptain's Shame
43. The Lost Shrine of Amberdown: Found?
44. Hyrax: A Play in Seven Acts
45. Tools of the Late Jurian Age
46. Bridges: The Secrets of their lasting Construction and Maintenence
47. An argument against Necromancy
48. The Seventy-seven Quips of Borlak the Arch-Mage
49. Thirty Leagues Below Mount Grimbad
50. Shields and Bucklers of the Late Devalian Rennaisance
51. The Chemistries of Niflif the Clever
52. The Cat-Gods of Olix
53. Koepple: Ninety-nine Songs of Hate and Derision
54. A Brief History of the Orange Uprising
55. Desert Survival, A Beginner's Guide
56. The Mysteries of Dionicus
57. The Care and Feeding of the Xorn
58. Small Things and Gnomes
59. Deciphering the Language of Kobolds
60. The Humorous Letters of Mayor Barrelroom
61. Nine Sages in Hell: A Warning
62. The Flora and Fungi of the Grey Forest
63. The Thirty-Seven Useful Parts of the Catoblepas
64. The Unmasking and Trying of Witches!
65. Fifteen Fowl Recipes
66. Siege Engines and their Construction and Use
67. Engineering Secrets of the Elder Kings
68. The Sins of Father Trinicus
69. The Prophesies of the Jilgrian Sisterhood
70. Small Wonder: Rise and Fall of the Halfling King
71. Herbology: An Apprentice's Handbook
72. A Pictoral Guide to the birds of the Mossy Vale
73. The Secrets of Seduction for the Clueless and Childless
74. Naughty Gifts, the Memoires of Lady Truncheon
75. Autumn Leaves: The Diary of Woqueforte the Unloved
76. Poetry of the Lobingian Epoch
77. Seven Simple Love Charms and Potions
78. Fishing Lures for every Season
79. Preventing Pox
80. Disciplining the Wayward Child
81. Puddings and Oozes of the Sunless Realm
82. Undeath: A Treatise
83. The Saga of Eligarth the Bold
84. Flumph Recipes
85. A History of the Pale City
86. Sewage and Irrigation of the Modern Gaol
87. Courtly Manners of the Appropriate Kinde
88. Ninety-Nine Songs of Hate and Derision: Right Back Atcha, Koepple!
89. Feces: A Hunter's Guide
90. The Travels and Travails of Willus and Feng
91. The Browne Arcanum
92. The Legend of the Diamond Throne
93. Secrets of the Prax Society
94. Brewing like the Masters!
95. The Lost Erotica of the Merrow
96. Tales of the Far South
97. Twelve Habits of the Successful General
98. Misery Loves Company: The Care and Spreading of the Latest Plague
99. The Polite Prayerbook of the Penitant Pilgrim
00. Haques' Dictionary (2600 pages).

Monday, November 2, 2009

Warriors of the Red Planet - November Preview - Art!

I know what you're thinking... "Why no October Preview!?"

Well, that's because I was busy pounding out and finishing the "rough rough draft" of Warriors of the Red Planet, as well as a "spin off" of sorts, my Sword & Planet short story submission ("Exiles of the Red Planet") for the upcoming "Weird Enclaves and Black Pits". Now begins the "work" part of the project, patching the various documents together into one cohesive whole, alphabetizing the scores of monsters, items, and "spells", checking/cross-checking/re-checking rules to make sure nothing is ridiculously conflicting, redundant, or! Actually, it has been a lot of fun, especially the playtests. Not to mention how cool its been to watch this go from "idea!" to "actual game!".

But what would be cooler than a Sword & Planet RPG with old-school rules?

How about a Sword & Planet RPG with old-school rules lavishly illustrated from cover to cover by a brilliant artist? Remember how easy it was to flip through the illustrations in the 1E Monster Manual and let your imagination run wild with the possibilities for your next game?

Well, that's what we're shooting for with this book. Not just a collection of rules, but a springboard for the imagination to keep the ideas flowing. And by "we", I mean I've teamed up with artist Thomas Denmark, who I think you'll agree has a dab handle on all this Sword & Planet stuff, and a sound appreciation for what old-school gaming is all about. I'm honored to be working with Thomas on this; he's no commissioned artist, but a full-blown partner, as committed as I am to making this book something really special. Take a look:

Stay tuned for more previews here and over at Thomas's blog as this book continues to take shape!

Past Previews.


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