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Review & Commentary On Famous Characters of the Old West By John Watts From Independence Games For The Rider & Other 2d6 Old West Rpg's

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 08/11/2022 - 18:56
 "Make new friends (or enemies)!This book features 19 famous historical characters from the Old West. Each has a full character sheet and a short biography and each is ready to be added to your Rider campaign. Meet such figures as Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Johnny Ringo!""Use them as NPCs for your next Rider campaign or even as Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Dungeon Delver’s Guide kickstarter imminent!

Blog of Holding - Thu, 08/11/2022 - 15:02

I’ve been talking a bit about my book Dungeon Delver’s Guide which is being published by EN Publishing. Well, it’s done and the kickstarter is launching later this month!

Get notified on launch!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Concerning Bat in the Attic Games, Voyaging into Strange New Worlds.

Bat in the Attic - Thu, 08/11/2022 - 01:56

First I appreciate everybody's support! I wasn't expecting the amount of traffic and that the outstanding amount would be covered in only three days. I was going by past sales and I figured on triple the normal traffic. Instead, I got way more. Thanks and appreciate the business. 

What is still available?

I have Blackmarsh, The Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG, Quick Reference Cards for Swords and Wizardry, and Quick Reference Cards for the Majestic Fantasy Basic Rules at the Bat in the Attic storefront

I also have Stuff in the Attic. It is packed with a bunch of free downloads some of which probably should been released in their own right like Merchant Adventures.

What Next?

 So now that the Judges Guild license is over with, what is next for me and Bat in the Attic Games? 

I am fortunate in that prior to getting the Judges Guild license in 2009, I was working on a new setting that was built around the material that is original to me. Folks saw parts of this as Points of Light, Points of Light II, the Sunrise Sea from Goodman Games, and as well as my own Blackmarsh. Originally I was going to call it Lands of Adventures, but now it going to be the Majestic Fantasy Realms. 

The Majestic Fantasy Realms is going to build on the techniques I have learned over the past decade. Any regional map I make for the Majestic Fantasy Realms will be cropped from a much larger map that I do my drawing on. 

This map is roughly the size of the continent of Flaness in the World of Greyhawk. It has a 5 mile grid at full print size (roughly 3/8" per hex). The advantage of this will mean that all maps will align perfectly with each other. 

While I have a sketch and notes on the details of the different regions. I will be building this piecemeal at first. Basically in four map sets. When I get a couple of these done, I will probably release a World of Greyhawk style folio covering the entire setting from a high-level view. The firs 

I am doing this to keep the focus on local level detail, the part that matters for most campaigns.  Each map campaign set of four maps covers a region 300 miles by 400 miles. Enough to keep a campaign going for several levels.

The first four maps will be released as Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms and it is the main focus at this time. I am about halfway done with the writing and shooting for a fall release.

Some close up views

Currently, Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms will have 10 12" by 18" map sheets. Four referee maps, four player maps, and an additional one or two maps with town maps. Along with a guide book for the four maps. Each map will have an overall background and details on Terrain, Islands, Lairs, and Settlements keyed by hex number.

Wrapping it up

Again thanks for your support. Below is a brief list of what I have planned in the order that they will be released.

  • Scourge of the Demon Wolf, Revised & Updated (for the Majestic Fantasy rules and setting).
  • Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms
  • The Manual of Puissant Skill, a player's manual for the Majestic Fantasy RPG 
  • Deceits of the Russet Lord Adventure.
  • The remaining volumes of the Majestic Fantasy RPG (total of three more). 
  • Night's Bride Coven Adventure

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Back To The Starship Warden?! - Using Cepheus Engine Rpg & Stars With Number rpg Together - 'Shiny, Let's Be Bad Guys!'

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 08/10/2022 - 18:00
So we've been all over the map when it comes to thinking out some of our Fall campaign scheduling. And it's been months since we got a chance to do one of our favorite campaigns. A combination of Stars Without Number & Cepheus Engine.You can read more about that over here.  And then over the last course of a couple of days we each got an update saying that Troll Lords was going to drop the Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 08/10/2022 - 11:14
By Jeff Simpson Buddyscott Entertainment Group OSR Levels 5-7

Long before the human settlement of Knup-Tra sprang up, the miners of the Magnitogorsk clan uncovered an ancient hall deep in the Mountains of Fire. A strange being taught them secrets  that led to their downfall. Are you brave enough to plumb the depths of the Underfurnace of the Mountain King and find what caused an entire dwarven settlement to virtually disappear

This twelve page adventure features four dungeon levels and a town with about fifty rooms. It uses a minimalistic style, with a few flourishes in the rooms, ala B2. This results in easy to scan rooms, but an environment that is somewhat less evocative, and interactive, then I generally think the minimal standard of quality should be today. But, I don’t hate it. Which is a major accomplishment.

A dude, doing his own maps and art? Rock on man, that’s the spirit of D&D! As is the mixture of B/X and 1e FF/MM that the adventure uses … just like we all did in the 80’s! I had high hopes for this … and was only moderately disappointed!

I want to take a look at the town, first. There’s a little map for it, but that’s probably not relevant. What is interesting is the page of town businesses. You get a bolded first word, like Carpenter, which is followed by the business description. Of which there are like seventeen. All on, essentially, one page,. He can accomplish this because the businesses just have the interesting bits described. “Run by the bickering couple of Silksif and her husband Granmar, much of their arguing comes from the fact that they are currently broke.” Just enough personality to run the NPC’s as their own place, making them a little memorable, and, maybe, providing some fodder for the DM to riff off of if the town becomes some sort of frequent base. A few other businesses have something notable for sale or some such, like Reeve’s badge of office, worth 900gp, or the smithy that has a silver inlaid breastplate. It never goes in to those excesses that are frequently seen in adventures where the townfolk are described in minute but irrelevant detail, along with a russian novel length backstory that doesn’t matter. These descriptions are focused on gameplay. Which is exactly how it should be!

The dungeon, proper, is a four level design, about twelve or so rooms per level. As I noted, there are about sixteen rooms per page, about eight per column. This makes for room descriptions that are relatively short and therefore easy to scan. Generally, a format of this type needs a good sentence to setup the room and maybe one or two more expand on things. What we’re looking for here is a great little descriptive sentence, the centerpiece of the room. That could be read-aloudish or just plant an imagination seed in the DMs head. Following that we’re looking, I think, for a sentence or two about the room that could be DM notes. Maybe a little variation in that format, with a two sentence description and a few sentences of descriptions for more complex rooms, but that’s the general idea, I think, for an adventure format that is trying to squeeze in sixteen rooms per page. You just don’t have the real estate and have to make exquisite usage of what you do have. 

But that’s not what is going on here. Instead we’re getting a slightly expanded minimalism in the description, akin to the B2 room descriptions, or at least the VIBE of the B2 descriptions. “Kitchen All of the knives here are gone. 8 kobolds rummage through the empty barrels.” 

On the plus side the description starts with a keyword. You’re now oriented to the room. I know what a kitchen looks like and can ad-lib what’s in it. Plus, the information to come is now filtered through the framing of “Kitchen”, which does wonders for the imagination riffing on things and filling in holes. Then we get a very B2 description. A creature, doing something. Rummaging through empty barrels in this case. The famous example, from B2 I think, is orcs shooting dice. But, there’s not actually a description here. That’s not really very evocative. It’s better than just “Kitchen: 8 kobolds” but that’s not saying much in 2022. 

I’m gonna slap in three more room descriptions:

Mine The floor here is pooled with quicksilver broken up by a few loose stones. For every turn spent in this room, roll a save vs Poison; failure means the character will die in 1d6 hours. The quicksilver drips from the lips of a stone bust of an emaciated dwarf with sunken eyes. If the bust is disturbed, four half-petrified ghouls (AC4) burst from the walls and attack.

Grand Hall There is a large oaken table in this council chamber with a fossilized skeleton of a blue dragon. There are 4 pyroclastic golems here who have been instructed by the orc sham- an to draw a thaumaturgical circle to reanimate it. There is a 5% chance that they succeed just as the party enters the room. The golems under- stand Dwarven and Giant. 6 dwarf skeletons (3HD), 4 armed with longswords and 2 with crossbows, attack anyone entering this room.

Cave The corpse of a rust monster lies next to an un-rusted sword. Disturbing the rust monster or the sword activates a silent alarm that alerts the dwarven vampire in Area 3 of intruders.

Looking at these you can see the format clearly. A brief one sentence description and then a thing, along with a note that is usually mechanics related. The monster, the treasure, the trap, etc. But we also see a certain abstraction. “An alarm sounds” is not very much fun. A pile of bones, or tin cans, dropping from the cei;ling may be more. Or a pile, precariously stacked, that falls down. Some additional interactivity and a little bit more on the descriptive/interactive unified front. Note as well the weird Gand Hall, with some golems, notes about an Orc shaman, and then also some skeletons thrown in for good measure? Weird disconnect there. Every once in awhile you get a great line, like the quicksilver dripping from a dwarf emaciated face with sunken eyeballs … great descriptive text there! 

What the adventure needs is more of those descriptive keywords. Pushing things a little bit more in both descriptions and interactivity, as with the alarm. What we get, instead, is an almost minimal adventure much in the vein of the much beloved B2. But, it’s also 2022. We can do better than B2. 

And, I noite, I have not even touched on this being a level 5-7 adventure. For a level range like that I might want a few more complex situations to appear. As it stands, there are drow and a vampire that might roam around a bit, but the adventure is far more “individual stand alone” room based than I think I want at level seven. I should mention that mroe. Oh well.

At least, those, he didn’t fuck it up. And “It could be better” is a far measure better than “This makes me hate my life and wish I had never learned about D&D.” I don’t think this kind of things cuts it today. The splendor of Xyntillian was how much it packed, in interactivity and evocative descriptions, in to so little space. That’s the bar to shoot for,

This is free at DriveThru.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: DC, November 1981 (wk 1 pt 2)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 08/10/2022 - 11:00
My goal: read DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around August 6, 1981.

Justice League of America #196: I've read this issue by Conway and Perez/Tanghal I don't know how many times since my childhood, and it still holds up. Batman, Earh-2 Flash, Hourman, the Atom, and Earth-2 Superman get taken out by the Secret Society members, one by one. Now the Ultra-Humanite stands poised to achieve his goal of wiping all the heroes off Earth-2! This is really rock solid 80s superhero comics here. This arc is the best so far of Conway's run.

Krypton Chronicles #3: Bridwell and Swan walk us through more of Superman's family tree, this time without even a hint of conflict in the framing story. We get the story of the Kryptonian Noah and the sort of Krytonian Archimedes--both of which are ancestors of Superman, as is the inventor of the Kryptonian surname. Clark's book is a big hit, which has Morgan Edge thinking about approaching Hawkman for a Thangarian saga.

New Teen Titans #13: Starfire and Raven enjoy a vacation on Paradise Island--that is until the purple ray turns Changeling into an enraged dinosaur--while the guys investigate Mento's disappearance, discovering Madame Rouge's secret base and Robotman. They recover Mento, but he's actually a mole for Rouge. Meanwhile, Wonder Girl gushes over Terry.

Secrets of Haunted House #42: Nothing really great here. There's a witch from the Amazon who gives a Great White Hunter talking boils that look like her face after he rebuffs her advances and kills her, courtesy of Gonzales/Breeding. Then, a humorous barb at comic book fanboys by Sciacca and Bender where the Devil gives said fanboy all the comics in the universe, killing him. I feel like their are some in-jokes here I don't get. 
Skeates/Cullins present a story of a astral projectionist who wants to kill a guy for undisclosed reasons. His heart is too weak to do it, so he trains he successor, who reneges on the deal, but then his ghost gets revenge. Three escaped convicts get turned into the crew of a model slave galley in a story by Kashdan and Pender. 
Wessler and Ayers/Rodin put a murder in a blackly humorous situation after he hides his wife's head in a bowling bag, but then gets caught up in who close call for discovery after another. Finally, Mishkin/Cohn and von Eeden/Mushynsky combine forces for a story of ghosts who switch victims to make it easier to enact their revenge.

Superman #365: "When Kryptonians Clash" Bates and Swan have Supergirl out to get Superman after he cures her of a rare disease. This isn't any slugfest, of course, but another of their puzzle stories and yet another nefarious alien plot. This one at least hints at a conspiracy as the alien is about to reveal who put him up to this when he is vaporized.
In the Rozakis/Schaffenberger "The In-Between Years" backup, Clark is in Metropolis for college, but Superboy has eventually settled anywhere yet, and the world wonders where he's going. Clark in the meantime is having to save folks like reporter Perry White without revealing Superboy's in town. In the end, White catches on though.

Weird War Tales #105: The Creature Commandos are really back, this time. This again hammers DeMatteis' frequent theme for this strip of the people who created the commandos being the real monsters, as Shrieve leads the team in terrorizing and driving out a town full of German sympathizers in the U.S. Shrieve views the situation in black and white, but some of the Commandos have more empathy. 

Kanigher and Yandoc present a tale of a German concentration camp commandant who has his face replaced with a replica of a dead Jewish prisoner and has the prisoner's number tattooed on his arm, so he can escape when the camp is liberated. Heading to South America to connect with Nazi expatriates, he is captured. No one believes his story, and he is gassed and his skin winds up making a lampshade for the leader. Kanigher is back again with Ditko with a story of German conjoined twins, separated after an accident, with one raised in the U.S. and one raised in Germany. By unlikely circumstance they both end up dying on a German U-boat on opposing sides. The final story by Kashdan and Estrada that posits a future where wear is expediently waged by robots playing chess--but the system falls apart when Mauritania cheats by sneaking a human player inside the robot.

Wonder Woman #285: The final showdown with the Red Dragon, and the of his schemes. What I noticed most about this issue is that it perfectly illustrates Conway's vagueness about Wonder Woman's power level. We have her saving the day, by jumping up and redirecting a missile in flight with her strength, then "gliding on air currents" back to the ground. Then she has an extended conflict with the (as far as the story tells us) relatively human but badass Red Dragon. 

The Huntress backup by Levitz and Staton has hints of unresolved sexual tension between Robin and Huntress, which feels a little off since earlier installments have played up the "big brother, little sister" dynamic, but it serves only to leave a thread dangling for another story. Her DA beau, after he's finally out of harm's way from the joker toxin breaks up with her because he can't have a superhero girlfriend.

The Weirder Lands of Dark Fantasy - Using Nightshift Veterans of the Supernatural Wars With B2 Keep On The Borderlands And World of Bastards Rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 08/09/2022 - 17:11
 Temperatures in Connecticut are high and so tempers are running just as quick.So last night myself & DM Steve got into a huge if somewhat heated debate over the classic B2 Keep on the Borderland By Gary Gygax. DM Steve insisting that we take out our Weirder Lands of Dark Fantasy campaign then add it into the back end of  Using The Night Shift Veterans of the Supernatural Rpg With The Sisters of Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

6 Things to Include in a 1st-Level D&D Adventure

DM David - Tue, 08/09/2022 - 11:00

The best 1st-level adventures make a great first impression. To start a campaign, we want 1st-level adventures that excite players and leave them eager for the adventures to come. More importantly, new players typically get introduced to Dungeons & Dragons with 1st-level adventures. That’s good because starting at 1st level makes a better impression than a plunge into the deep end with a higher-level character sporting a bewildering array of abilities.

As an introduction to D&D, I favor starting adventures that offer a sampler of all the game offers. Even at first level, I prefer adventures with a feeling of risk and with something at stake. I like to feel like a daring hero at all levels, and nothing feels so brave and scary as playing a new character risking their life to become a hero. But starting adventures need to avoid a big downer: dead characters.

By tradition, new D&D characters start as fragile as soap bubbles. The fifth edition design team felt comfortable sticking to this tradition because players lose very little play-time investment when their new character dies. Just write a new name on the sheet and play the deceased’s twin! Still, plenty of players invest creative energy in their new character’s personality and background. Even without that emotional attachment, losing a character feels like a loss. Nobody likes to lose.

If you’re reading this, then you probably qualify as a D&D fan, and I know the game hooked some of us despite new characters who died minutes after creation, but I suspect the potential fans scared away by a quick loss outnumber us. I want to win new fans to the game, not to haze potential fans with casualties.

Many starter adventures, even recent ones from the D&D team, seem to welcome the likelihood of dead characters. Lost Mine of Phandelver starts with a deadly ambush. Dragon of Icespire Peak can pit 1st-level characters against a manticore powerful enough to rout the party.

When I want to make a deadly starting adventure a little safer for new players, I contrive a way to give their characters the benefit of and aid spell. Have the priest reward a good deed by giving the party a boost. Or perhaps returning a holy symbol to the chapel earns divine favor. Five extra hit points makes 1st-level characters almost twice as durable.

Aside from such tricks, a 1st-level adventure can spare characters by including the right foes. See number 2 of my list of 6 things to include in a starting adventure.

A place to explore. The game starts with dungeons, and I like delivering what new players expect with a tiny dungeon. A size of 3 to 4 rooms leaves time for play outside the dungeon, showing new players that the modern game offers much more than gilded holes.

Weak foes in multiples to fight. Many new players will look at the spells and attacks listed on their character sheets and feel eager to test them in battle. Even long-time players like me like to see a fight or two. The ideal starting foes prove easy to hit and kill, rarely deal enough damage to one-shot the mage, and never had parents.

“Never had parents” depends on the players, but I choose foes younger players will feel happy to fight. Think undead, constructs, and plants. Spiders, insects, and the like also work, although they don’t technically qualify. These foes avoid second thoughts about what to kill.

Sadly, the fifth edition bestiary includes almost no weak creatures that qualify. Twig blights rate as best. Skeletons work well enough, especially if players learn and prepare for their vulnerability to bludgeoning, or with lower hit point versions as, say, snake or lizard skeletons. No one tries to befriend a twig blight or to capture a skeleton for questioning. You can easily reskin both types of creatures, so turn twig blights into animated furniture that deal bludgeoning damage.

A reluctant ally to win. A roleplaying scene makes an essential ingredient to adventure, but if players don’t enter the scene with a goal, then they often don’t know what to do. If the scene lacks an obstacle, then it lacks interest. Gaining help from someone who seems reluctant or even hostile feels like a win and adds an upward beat to the adventure’s drama.

See Avoiding the Awkward D&D Moment When a Priest, a Wizard, and a Dwarf Enter a Bar and Nothing Happens and Improve Roleplaying Investigation Scenes With These 23 Reasons an NPC Won’t Cooperate

Something to figure out. Players love to figure things out. The process makes them feel smart and capable. It reveals hidden order in the (game) world, and we love finding order in a jumble. In D&D, this joy of figuring things out can come from various sources: mysteries, puzzles, and objects with unknown functions like traps and magic. For a new adventure, make the thing to figure out very easy. Just figuring out that the holy idol belongs back in the indentation of the altar qualifies. If the adventure includes a trap, make the trap obvious and the challenge figuring out how to avoid it.

See The Fun Thing D&D Players Love that No One Mentions and that the Game Almost Lost

Something magical and fantastic. Sometimes low-level adventures falter by sticking close to the mud and the mundane. If the rats-in-the-basement adventure rose above cliché, then it still rates as bad because it lacks any magic or wonder. D&D brings the fantastic to our lives, and new players deserve a taste of it. So if the villager has trouble in the cellar, make it from a gate to hell that needs closing. Bonus: Manes and lemures make suitable monsters. (Kids will have no trouble destroying fiends, but watch out for concerned parents.)

A secret that hooks the next adventure. A starting adventure should leave players with a clear path to their next outing, even if that simply means a treasure map leading to a magic sword. Just avoid hooking the second episode too early. You might lead the party away from the current goals.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rat King’s Sewer

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 08/08/2022 - 11:11
By Ken Spencer Necromancer Games OSR Levels 4-6

Eastgate is a bustling city at the mouth of the Amrin River. As most of the adventure takes place in the sewers, and nearly all of it in an urban setting, wilderness orientated characters might find themselves at a disadvantage. Then again, the sewers are a maze and filled with all manner of deadly creature, the ability to talk to cockroaches might just prove useful.

This 28 page adventure is in a sewer with about 35 rooms to explore there and in a fey-landish/underdarkish area at the end. It’s filled with the signature “dont give a fuck” style of the Frogs, with sloppy editing, boring rooms, and an overall malaise, and not in a good way, of the writing. 

Pretty cool to see a new necromancer title, eh? It got me all worked up and excited. Necromancer did some cool things back in the day and seeing a new one got my notice. And then I opened it and it turned out to just be another Frog God title. It’s got Necromancer all over it, in name, but the house style and people involved are all Frog God. I have no idea why tey switched brands.

There is some crazy convoluted backstory about a lady coming back from the opera, attacked by thugs who kill her bodyguards. She kills all of the thugs, but loses her necklace and a rat steals the largest jewel. Turns out its a wererat who wants it to crate a portal so him and his buddies can get back home. Everyone in town goes down to the sewers to find the jewel, it says, so I’m thinking this is gonna be like Gone Fishin, but, no. The entire backstory is unrelated to the adventure at hand, it’s just a sewer crawl with a portal at the end. I have no idea why the backstory is even there, but, it is. So, whatever. What does piss me off is the sloppy integration of it. It references shit all the time in the adventure that seems to contradict the backstory, like the jewel being of little use to the rats (they critically need it for the portal?!) and them being willing to negotiate for it?! There’s also mention of a ransom request, just thrown in the text in a block of other text, that makes no sense at all?! The entire text is full of this confusing nonsense, one thing contradicting another. Even the most casual perusal reveals it, so I’m not sure what “Editing” really means in the context of a Frog God title. Err, sorry, Necromancer title. It goes on and on. The “Parfiegs” are mentioned. Out of context with little to go on. Evidently you are chasing the rats and they’ve gone through the portal already? I have no idea. I think they are a clan of humans living in the fey/underdark area? 

But, what we do get it long and extensive backstory thrown in willy nilly. “The Snarl Fangs, of the Order of the Swift Paw” …. Uh, ok. And a basilisk and gelatinous cube all get histories and backstory. That’s fucking wild. Its like the adventure is explaining WHY there’s a Cube in the sewer. Justifying it. It’s a crazy choice on how to spend your word count and creative energy. On shit that is absolutely meaningless to adventure at the table. But, no doubt perfect for people reading the adventure. 

The actual adventure is not much. The room descriptions are essentially barren, a minimalistic style that is ten expanded by providing very little meaningful information. Backstory in the rooms abound, but the actual descriptions of the environment, or creatures, is almost nonexistent. Thus there is no evocative environment, or encounter. This goes on, room after room. And it uses the Frogs house style, which is paragraph based, which makes scanning the text for actual useful information very difficult. Just a room with a sewer monster in it. Repeat. “The sheriff’s plan certainly worked; the smugglers were trapped in the tunnel. Slowly, they died of starvation or disease, but not before the leader and his closet followers had turned to cannibalism. Their corpses resurrected as a ghast and 4 ghouls.” Great. So a ghast and four ghouls. 

There’s just not much here at all, and what there is, in the larger context, is confused and makes little sense. And it’s $14. They’ve certainly made an art form out of living off of a brand a charging for it.

It’s unlikely I will review another Frog God/Necromancer title, unless I hear things have changed.

This is $14 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages, showing you the table of contents and backstory and no encounters. Joy.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Broken Compass

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 08/08/2022 - 11:00

Last week I picked up game Broken Compass by the Italian gaming company Two Little Mice from drivethru. It's a rules lite-ish game in the pulp adventure vein. Interestingly, the default setting such as it is is not the 30s pulp heyday of most rpgs, but the 1990s, positioning it as primarily meaning to replicate pulp-derived films like The Mummy (1999) and games like Tomb Raider and Uncharted rather than the original sources. It does, however, have a supplement for the pulp "Golden Age" also available on drivethrurpg.

In brief, it's not unlike YZE games: a d6 dice pool based on attribute (or Field here) plus skill, with a "push" mechanic (called Risk in BC) where you get to reroll. BC looks for sets of matching rolls, though, rather than a target number, and difficulty is ranked by the number of matching dice you need. I think BC intends for characters to fail their roll or at least partially fail a fair amount, though this often doesn't mean that their action has failed. Instead the Fortune Master is meant to apply a complication, setback, or plot twist (though this is mainly for Challenges, not life-threatening Dangers. For a Danger it seems like a failure is more likely to mean a failure).

There is no damage and no "hit points," though Luck points are lost in offsetting life-threatening failures. When all Luck points are gone the character is out of the adventure, though not necessarily dead. There are also Bad Feelings which are conditions that can be applied as a consequence and reduce the dice available for future rolls, and Good Feelings which are their opposites that can be earned to award additional dice.

With its mechanics and campaign structure based around "episodes" and "seasons," what Broken Compass struck me as likely being good for is action/adventure tv shows. Tales of the Gold Monkey, obviously, but with a bit of tweaking The Wild, Wild West or even Buck Rogers. Also, I think this would be a good game to run comic strip or bande dessinée type stuff like Terry and the Pirates or Tintin. Or Popeye!

There were some supplements Kickstartered last year that give alternative settings like Space Opera, Westerns, trad Fantasy, Cyberpunk, Occult Investigators, or Toons, but frustratingly they are not yet even available to nonbackers as digital products. Still, it seems a super-easy system to hack on your own.

There are some areas where it doesn't shine. It isn't really made for long-term play, perhaps; there isn't much advancement to speak of. Also, characters are not really mechanically much different, particularly if they are of similar "types," so if mechanical specialness is important to a player, they probably need to be in a game without too many fellow players.

Those things aside, I think it's well worth checking out and plan to give it a whirl soon. You can download the preview of the game here.

Using The Night Shift Veterans of the Supernatural Rpg With The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version) By Miguel Ribeiro, Sílvia Clemente, & Joe Coombs For The Wretchexploitation & The Wretched Époque rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 08/08/2022 - 02:13
 So three weeks ago I dusted off Veterans of the Supernatural Wars rpg after thumbing through the Red Room's Resort of the Dead after running this adventure with Bloat Games system. Why?! Bloat Games systems should be good enough and it is. But we've had a Veteran's chronicle running in the background for months with the 'Lost In The Eighties! LoFP Carcosa & OSR Actual Play Session - Extension'. Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Review & Session Report On The Sisters of the Seven Sins (Wretched Version) By Miguel Ribeiro, Sílvia Clemente, & Joe Coombs For The Wretchexploitation & The Wretched Époque rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 08/07/2022 - 19:42
 "This horror scenario takes place in a Portuguese convent with a dark history of demonic possession, black magic, and Devil worships that, in the mid-1970s, is occupied by a recently founded unusual religious congregation made up of disgraced women who wish to atone for their past, the Reprobate Sisters of the Seven Sins. Players can take the role of nuns, Vatican authorities sent to investigateNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Weird Revisited: Ozian D&D

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 08/07/2022 - 14:52

The original version of this post appeared in 2017 after a bit of discussion on Google+ about Oz-influenced D&D. With two 5e Oz supplements currently available, it seems like it's still a current topic.
From its conception, Oz has been an important (though certainly not the only) influence on the Land of Azurth (particularly for the primary campaign site, Yanth Country), so I've thought some about how Ozian elements can be used to inform D&D fantasy.

First off, it must be acknowledged that "Ozian fantasy" may not be a precisely defined thing. The portrayal of Oz itself changes from the first book to later books by Baum--and to an even greater degree throughout the "Famous Forty" and beyond. Oz in the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is mostly uninhabited, and the places that are inhabited are mostly agrarian, but later books pile on more and more civilization. Baum's vision is of an American fairytale, and so the early books lack standard European-derived or Arabian Nights-inspired creatures and characters: The Tin Man is a woodsman not a knight. Ultimately, however, knights, dragons, and genies all become part of Oz.

(Anyone interested in Baum's American fairytale conception and examples of it in his non-Oz fantasies should check out Oz & Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum by Michael O. Riley)

With that sort of lack of specificity in mind, here are my broad suggestions for how to make a D&D campaign more Ozian:

Lost worlds/hidden kingdoms instead of dungeons: Whether standard D&D or Oz, exploration and discovery plays a part, but D&D's exploration sites are often known areas of material wealth and danger near settled areas that are usually purposefully visited to be exploited. Ozian sites are unknown or little known areas, accidentally discovered, like the lost worlds of adventure fiction.

Animated Simulacra and Talking Animals instead of the usual demihumans: Both D&D and Oz have nonhuman characters, but Oz’s are more individual, not representatives of "races." They also aren't the near-human types of elves, dwarves, and halflings. In fact, all of those races would probably fall under the "human" category in Oz. (In the first book, most Ozites are short like halflings, not just the Munchkins).

Social interaction/comedy of manners instead of combat or stealth: Violence and death sometimes occurs in the Oz books, but conversation and timely escape are the most common ways of dealing with problems. While this may in part be due to them being century plus year-old children's books, some of the exchanges in Dorothy and the Wizard are not dissimilar to the ones that occur in the works of Jack Vance, albeit with much less wit or sophistication. No Ozian villain is too fearsome not to be lectured on manners--at least briefly.

Magical mundane items or magical technology instead of magical weapons: The noncombat orientation of Oz extends to magic items. Magic belts, mirrors, food dishes, etc., occur in Oz but few magic swords or the like that you see in D&D or European legend. Oz blurs the lines between science/technology and magic to a degree. (The examples of this that are more Steampunkian or magictech seem to be unique inventions, however.) Pills and tablets will fantastical (though perhaps not magical in the sense the term would understood in Oz) properties are more common than potions, for instance. In general, foodstuff with fantastic properties, both natural and created, are more common than in D&D.

Faux-America instead Faux-Medieval: Ozian society seems almost 19th century in its trappings, or more precisely, it is a society that is not foreign (except where it specifically means to be) to the a young reader in the early 20th century. It lacks most of the elements of the real world of the 19th Century, however, like industry, social conflict (mostly), and (sometimes) poverty. It also lacks complicated social hierarchies: there is royalty, but no nobility.

OSR Lovecraftian Ecology on Clark Ashton Smith 'The Tomb Spawn ''s the Ghorli (Updated)

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 08/07/2022 - 14:51
  "Great was Ossaru, being both king and wizard. He ruled over half the continent of Zothique. His armies were like the rolling sands, blown by the simoom. He commanded the genii of storm and of dark-ness, he called down the spirits of the sun. Men knew his wizardry as the green cedars know the blasting of levin."Clark Ashton Smith 'The Tomb Spawn 'When it comes to Clark Ashton Smith's far futureNeedles
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Running A Hyperborea rpg One Shot With "And The Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead" By Joseph A. Mohr 'A Pay What You Want Adventure 'As Prelude To U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 08/07/2022 - 06:12
 "This is an OSRIC adventure for characters of 1st to 3rd level of experience. As the adventurers arrive at a sleepy little sea side town not all is as it seems. The town is under attack by pirates. But these are no ordinary pirates. These pirates are undead and their nightmare ship is just off shore waiting for the plunder to be brought aboard. This adventure allows the players to explore the Needles
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Flash Fiction Challenge

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 08/07/2022 - 03:08
My response to Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge, using all three images...

Kylwyn locked the apartment door and set the bar across. Moving to the windows, he secured the shutters and, confident that they were immovable, he exhaled. From his satchel, he produced the scroll case. Carefully, oh so carefully, he withdrew the parchment therein and, savoring the moment, rolled it out on the bed before him. With the utmost delicacy, he used the last of his red ink to scratch in a small box, connecting it to two other locations and labeling it with his slender, fine script. It was, he was proud to say, the script of an elf.

He let the moment linger. He stared into the hearth, which he now knew was a gateway into the Everburning Wood. Only those who had accessed the Mad Scribe’s Sanctum had encountered such knowledge; only they knew how to step into the wood.

He knew. He knew many things.

He exhaled and returned to the parchment. There, before him, was revealed at long, long last a complete map of the primary underchambers that connected the underbelly of the great City of Jythra. From the Burial Vaults of the Serpent King through the Hall of Tomes and even past the Obelisk of Jyth itself, he could see it all. The delicate threads that tied the city together were now his to pull. He considered, with a mixture of joy and a growing tiredness, that he was, even after all this time, still the first to discover how the lifeblood of the city flowed. Among fifty thousand, he was the only one who could drop into a sewer drain in Cobbler’s Alley and emerge at the foot of the Library of Vash. Only he knew how to use the Tellis Gate, and its sundry hidden tunnels, to access the North Spires. 

Kylwyn admired the map for several minutes. Then, he resumed unpacking his satchel. He pulled forth the Mask of Hermaphros. Infiltrating this cult had taken months, and the mask itself had required painstaking exactitude, and no shortage of coin, to craft - but it had been worth it. Those cultists were able to share the final answers he had sought, once he had proven himself as worthy to join them. He set the mask on the bed beside the map, the only witness he could allow to this victory.

Next, he found a small, timeworn journal in the deeper folds of his satchel. Kylwyn reviewed the last several entries. It had taken him fifty-seven years and one day to complete this map. Fifty-seven years and one day of exploring and spelunking and near-death experiences had granted him an unheralded understanding of the veins and capillaries that both united and separated all of Jythra. He reviewed the intricate notes, the vast theories, the magical incantations that had driven his journey these last few decades.

Fifty-seven years. Kylwyn set that journal upon the map, now finding a second journal in the bottom of his satchel. This one was much more slender. Only four pages had been used. For the first time in decades, he looked at these. Page one had reported the task had taken him seventy-eight years, forty-two days. Page two reported sixty-three years and nine days. Page three reported sixty-one years and two hundred days. He now completed page four, smiling wide.   

He fixed this moment in his mind. It had been nearly six decades in the offing. Tonight, he would allow himself to revel. He would drink and dance and laugh in the glow of a knowledge that only he possessed. 

Tomorrow, he would start again. He would rise at dawn, pay visit to the priestesses of Ura the goddess of memory, and donate the thirty silver coins required to have this memory magically removed. Then, he would begin his quest again. This time, perhaps, he could beat fifty years. 

He admired the delicate contours of the mask one last time before setting it into the hearth, allowing the Everburning Wood to claim it. After its last ashes had drifted into the swirling smoke and into the unending beyond, he turned back to the map and the journal with his notes. He now began to tear them into thin strips before slowly, delicately, letting the Everburning Wood claim them as well.

And now for something completely unrelated....

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 08/07/2022 - 02:06

 Over on his blog, Chuck Wendig has posted a flash-fiction challenge using art created using an AI. I was thinking about trying the challenge, but then I saw this image (the third option he has given), and was blown away. This is the fantasy city of my dreams... the city and mega-dungeon are so interconnected that you move seamlessly between them; it is never quite clear where city ends and mega-dungeon begins.

This IS Jythra. My goodness but it's Jythra. I've known what I wanted that city to be like, but didn't have it until I saw this picture. Now, I'm going to write a story! 

Concerning Judges Guild, To All Things an End

Bat in the Attic - Sat, 08/06/2022 - 17:03
UPDATE!I appreciate the outpouring of support and patronage. As of 7:00pm eastern time, the amount of deferred royalties is enough to pay off the outstanding balance Judges Guild owes on the Wilderlands maps done by myself for the City-State Kickstarter. Accordingly, I have ceased sales of all Judges Guild licensed products.  A follow-up post will be up tomorrow. Again thank you.

Currently, I have three main product lines two of which are produced under a license from Judges Guild. For a long time, I had a good relationship with Robert Bledsaw II, the son of Bob Bledsaw one of the founders of Judges Guild, and the current owner of the IP. 
In February of 2020, I learned that Robert Bledsaw II was making unacceptable social media posts after which I no longer wished to continue to have a business relationship with Judges Guild. The details of this can be read in the following two posts along with the sources they reference.
Concerning Judges GuildConcerning Judges Guild, Further Development
The problem I faced was that I was owed a substantial amount of money for the work I had done on mapping the Wilderlands of High Fantasy as a result of the issues surrounding the City-State Kickstarter. Prior to this, in March of 2018, it was resolved by Robert Bledsaw II offering to forgo his royalties until it was paid. I agreed to this and until 2020 it was working out nicely.
With much of the outstanding balance remaining, I decided not to end sales of the Majestic Wilderlands or the Judges Guild Wilderlands remakes. I did inform Robert Bledsaw II that I would no longer be producing any new Majestic Wilderlands products or asking to make another remake. That when the outstanding balance was paid, I will cease sales of all Judges Guild licensed products.
Right now the outstanding balance is less than $90. With royalty percentage for Judges Guild and DriveThruRPG percentage of sales, this is roughly around $1,500 worth of licensed products. Normally three months at the current rate of sales for me. I am aware that once I announce that sales are ending that there will be a last-minute rush. So I decided long ago that when the outstanding balance got this low that I would make the announcement then.
Accordingly, I will end sales of all Judges Guild licensed products by Monday, August 21st, 2022. That will give those interested two weekends in August to decide. It will end early if I reach $1,500 worth of sales. I apologize if this last point creates a gold rush mentality. Personally I intensely dislike sales gimmicks. Given the circumstances, it is what I am willing to do. 
Wrapping it upGoing forward I will be making another post concerning Bat in the Attic Games and the status of the projects I have been working on. 

As for the situation with Judges Guild and the behavior of Robert Bledsaw II, I will let my actions speak for themselves. I will only add that subsequent events have confirmed for me that I made the right choice in this matter.

There are two issues surrounding Judges Guild, the personal behavior of Robert Bledsaw II, and the business situation regarding the City-State Kickstarter. The reasons why both are still issues in 2022 are why I feel pursuing the Majestic Fantasy Realms and other original projects is the best course of action for me going forward.

I appreciate the support everybody has given and your kind words. Thank you for the feedback on my works and honored that you would buy my products. There is more to come that I think you will useful and above all fun!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Review & Commentary Under Western Skies: 2D6 Adventure on America's Frontier From Michael Brown For Your Old School Western Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 08/06/2022 - 14:38
 "The term “Wild West” conjures up images of square-jawed cowboys on horseback, watching over a cattle drive; steely-eyed lawmen facing down desperadoes; painted saloon girls carousing with rowdy guests; and stoic Native Americans watching their world slip away. The Wild West — that period of America’s history during its westward expansion in the latter half of the nineteenth century — was all Needles
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The Sutherland Dragon on Exhibit Continues!

Zenopus Archives - Sat, 08/06/2022 - 11:32

The cover of the exhibition catalog

This summer, David Sutherland's original painting for the cover of the Holmes Basic Set has been on display again, this time at the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as part of the show Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration, which runs at that museum through September 5th.

Enchanted at the Hunter Museum

After this, the Enchanted exhibit moves to the Flint Institute of the Arts, in Flint, Michigan, from September 23rd, 2022 until January 8th, 2023.

I haven't made it to Chattanooga myself, but the exhibit was organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts, and I saw it there last summer. See my long post for more about the show and photos of Sutherland's painting, which I often call the Sutherland Dragon.

Also, I made a post with closer shots of details of the painting. It's beautiful in person and well worth making a road trip to see it with your own eyes!

And of course, the exhibit has a multitude of other treasures, including D&D art by Trampier (the pseudodragon from the original Monster Manual!), Easley and Elmore, and fantasy illustration by the likes of Frazetta, Brom and Tony DiTerlizzi.

DiTerlizzi himself made a great video preview of the catalog for the exhibition, which gives a sense of some of the art that is included. The catalog is available from the Norman Rockwell Museum shop or on Amazon (the latter includes my affiliate link).

(This post adapted from a recent Twitter thread)

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