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Rub It Review: Barrowmaze

Doomslakers! - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 15:08
I picked up +Greg Gillespie's Barrowmaze Complete a couple of years ago. I was instantly hooked. I ran a short campaign as soon as I could. It included a luchador and a necromancer and ended with a 50% TPK (in the town of Ironguard Motte, not the actual Barrowmaze). Very satisfying.

Barrowmaze is a megadungeon, which means it is mainly a big fat huge collection of rooms designed to kill you. But it's more. It's a sketched out, robust setting that actually works. It gives you all the essential information you need in order to get a game going very quickly. It doesn't include a lot of flair and additional information about the setting that isn't immediately useful. It's quite lean in that sense... but not spartan. It's got some style.

What I love about this book is how easy it is to use. If you are going to run a short adventure for a one night gig you can just flip through the various barrow mounds and find one with a few rooms. Then just concoct a reason for the PCs to be there. They are hired by a wizard to go to the mounds and uncover a specific tomb. Start the game right there at the tomb. Bob's your uncle. The fact that the mounds are not all connected to the bigger maze means you can do in and out adventures, exploring the mounds as quickly or slowly as you like. Eventually, the PCs will find the maze and you can sink your teeth into that monster for the long haul.

(The third time I used Barrowmaze the PCs managed to navigate directly to the primary maze entrance on the first session. I wanted them to poke around in some mounds first... but that's not what happened...)

This is written for Labyrinth Lord and feels exactly like a first edition boxed campaign with a strong Fiend Folio vibe. The art is incredibly good. The cover is by the legendary Erol Otus! And check out this list of interior illustrators: Zhu Bajie, Alexander Cook, Ndege Diamond, Cory Hamel, Trevor Hammond, Jim Holloway, John Larrey, Scott LeMien, Peter Pagano, Stefan Poag, Tim Truman, Jason Sholtis, Stephen Thompson, and Tara Williamson.

The writing is tight and lean, allowing you to run the maze or the mounds on-the-fly without actually reading too much of it in advance.

This book costs a lot of dough. If you don't know Barrowmaze, you might see the price tag and say "nope". I totally understand. But the book is well worth the investment.

Oh, and if you like undead this will be like Disneyland for you. If you don't like undead and don't want to pay that much for a PDF or print book, maybe not so much.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary - Why Expert Dungeons & Dragons Turns Up The Volume To Eleven

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 06:05
So labour day is over but I spent it with an old friend of mine, the Dungeons & Dragons Expert rule book is where things really start to take off. Sure the red Basic D&D book maybe iconic but its really Expert where that old magic flavor happens. You get  rules for PC's up to 14th level:  deadlier spells, more fleshed out equipment including ships and mounts, & full followers for higherNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rub It Review: The Rad Hack

Doomslakers! - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 03:07
The Rad-Hack is a Black Hack hack by +Karl Stjernberg, whose killer maps are killer. Like most hacks, this hack is short, sweet, and straight to the point. You get pretty much the entire game system on one page and by the second page you're into character classes. Classes include human (wearing a bunny mask, lol), mutants, robots, and psionics.

It's a cool little 36 page book packed with flavor and badassery. I wanna be a mutated monkey with acid spit!

So the reason I wanted to call out this game is because Karl's work is just dripping with attitude. His style reminds me of many alternative comics icons such as Charles Burns (a little bit) and of the many counter culture or car culture/tattoo culture artists who draw wild shit all the time. I likey.

Favorite Rub: The Rad World map.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Pink and the Orcs go Wandering

Two Hour Wargames - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 22:32
Having taken the Job from Grug (Part One) Pink leads 4 Orcs on an Encounter trying to find the entrance to a dungeon, rumored to be nearby.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Simplify, Simplify: FEATS

The Splintered Realm - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 22:12
So, the game has, since its inception, had two types of FEATs: those you roll against the static target of 20, and those you roll against another creature; you are trying to pick a lock, so that's resisted statically. You are trying to sneak by the guard, so that's resisted actively.

Except it doesn't have to be.

The thing is, this really only matters for sense checks. Everything else falls onto the static continuum. However, I can bump sense a little bit; instead of rolling a Feat, you instead impose your sense modifier as a penalty to the opponent's FEAT check. So, the guard with keen senses imposes a -2, the elfin master hunter imposes -4, and the elder dragon guarding its massive hoard imposes -6.

Easy to the peasy.

That just took out a LOT of language about how to determine FEAT ratings, how to resolve ties...

And, again, it better aligns with the source material. Red Box expected the thief to try to move silently or hide in shadows as a percentage chance of success; the foe you were hiding from was of secondary import.

Review: “Blagdaross” by Lord Dunsany

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 18:24

This should be a throwaway story. Filler. A curio. This should be the sort of tale that you skim past in order to get to something with a hero, a magic sword, and a dragon in it. But it really isn’t.

Check it out. Here is Lord Dunsany writing about… (wait for it…) a piece of cork:

For the first few years in the bottle that I guarded the wine slept, dreaming of Provence; but as the years went on he grew stronger and stronger, until at last whenever a man went by the wind would put out all his might against me, saying, ‘Let me go free; let me go free!’ And every year his strength increased, and he grew more clamourous when men went by, but never availed to hurl me from my post. But when I had powerfully held him for twenty years they brought him to the banquet and took me from my post, and the wine arose rejoicing and leapt through the veins of men and exalted their souls within them till they stood up in their places and sang Provençal songs. But me they cast away—me that had been sentinel for twenty years, and was still as strong and staunch as when first I went on guard.

This is not one of Dunsany’s signature stories. It’s not going to be collected into anthologies. It’s not one people are going to rave about to each other or insist that people read. But it does highlight something that I think is really significant: the man could find more myth and romance and virtue and wonder in a garbage dump than most people would think to put into entire worlds of fantasy.

What is it that makes this possible? Why is there such a harsh break between what he was doing and what practically everyone would go on to do later on? Personally, I think it is due to this:

I lay idle one night in the gloom on the warehouse floor. Nothing stirred there, and even the spider slept. Towards midnight a great flock of echoes suddenly leapt up from the wooden planks and circled round the roof. A man was coming towards me all alone. And as he came his soul was reproaching him, and I saw that there was a great trouble between the man and his soul, for his soul would not let him be, but went on reproaching him.

A modernist would see nothing more here than disgraced man about to use a piece of cord to commit suicide. Dunsany, on the other hand sees things as they actually are. Because the truth is that we really are surrounded by all manner of wonders and terrors and tragedies. You don’t need some Never Never Land buried in mankind’s forgotten past in order to explore this. This is where we live. 

This is also only the beginning. Because for his big finish, Lord Dunsany has a concise expression of what fantasy in the early nineteen hundreds was all about.


I am Blagdaross. Woe is me that I should lie now an outcast among these worthy but little people. Alas! for the days that are gathered, and alas for the Great One that was a master and a soul to me, whose spirit is now shrunken and can never know me again, and no more ride abroad on knightly quests. I was Bucephalus when he was Alexander, and carried him victorious as far as Ind. I encountered dragons with him when he was St. George, I was the horse of Roland fighting for Christendom, and was often Rosinante. I fought in tournays and went errant upon quests, and met Ulysses and the heroes and the fairies. Or late in the evening, just before the lamps in the nursery were put out, he would suddenly mount me, and we would gallop through Africa. There we would pass by night through tropic forests, and come upon dark rivers sweeping by, all gleaming with the eyes of crocodiles, where the hippopotamus floated down with the stream, and mysterious craft loomed suddenly out of the dark and furtively passed away. And when we had passed through the forest lit by the fireflies we would come to the open plains, and gallop onwards with scarlet flamingoes flying along beside us through the lands of dusky kings, with golden crowns upon their heads and scepters in their hands, who came running out of their palaces to see us pass. Then I would wheel suddenly, and the dust flew up from my four hooves as I turned and we galloped home again, and my master was put to bed. And again he would ride abroad on another day till we came to magical fortresses guarded by wizardry and overthrew the dragons at the gate, and ever came back with a princess fairer than the sea.

This concept of fantasy did not evaporate the moment that John Carter made his first leaps across the Barsoomian sands. It endured as a default reference point throughout the works of later authors such as L. Sprague de Camp and Michael Moorcock.

When did we as a people finally lay this down collectively? Ah, that’s easy. That happened some time around 1980 when somebody figured out that you could use D&D and Tolkien’s pre-Christian mythology as a template for a new type of fantasy that is utterly disconnected from wonder and Western culture.

Going down that path might have brought us something substantially more realistic. But it sure didn’t give us much that was actually real.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Ch. 5, Page 21

Castle Greyhawk - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 15:25
Tenser, at long last, reached his room. He made straight for his dresser, where all his magical paraphernalia was kept under lock and key.

Otto finished casting his spell and then remembered to breathe. Fighting monsters always got the heart racing, but Otto had decided that fighting things that were invisible was his most terrifying experience yet.

He could not wait to get his hands on an invisibility spell.

Rub It Review: Quack Keep

Doomslakers! - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 15:02
Quack Keep

The legendary Jennell Jaquays along with Darcy Perry deliver the goods with this 56 page adventure setting. Ducks are PCs. 'Nuff said.

The book is quite lovely with full color on the inside. The art by Jaquays and Perry is deliciously evocative (check out pages 5, 16, and 18 in particular). There are lots of NPCs with which to interact, such as Bigus Duckus, Coduck the Barbarian, Daisy Ladyhawke, and The Grey Moulter.

The entire region of Reedy Bend seems to live in fear of the duck-like dragon Daffyd Platypyros, a horrifying monster to be sure.

This book is FULL of playful language and puns. When I was writing Rabbits & Rangers I was dipping my toes into the "funny animal" genre. But truly Quack Keep dives in head first and I absolutely adore it for that reason. In fact, the first thing I realized upon flipping through it was that this book, being system agnostic, is PERFECT for use with Rabbits & Rangers! And I have it on my bucket list to run a little Reedy Bend campaign for R&R.

There's a lot more to this than I have touched upon. There are maps, lots of encounters and magic items, story hooks, and all kinds of fun and funny gems about roleplaying the Fowl Folk.

Get it.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


Doomslakers! - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 14:54
Glorptastic! It is Black Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One, collecting the first four issues of Black Pudding into a single nasty mess arranged by category.

Get it now or face the oozes.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Why I'm Excited About Tales of the Splintered Realm

The Splintered Realm - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 14:49
I know that I get excited about each of my releases, and that I have a bit of a bias towards something that I've invested time and energy into. That said, I have a few reasons to be particularly excited about the rules for Tales of the Splintered Realm.

1. I have a plan for updates that I can actually, you know, UPDATE. The reality of online game publishing is that you need to be turning out new products and updates in order to keep the game alive. People are going to move on. It's the nature of the beast. the reality of my life is that I have neither the time nor energy for routine updates of 20+ pages. The entire model of the game is predicated on having the ability to constantly provide smaller niche updates that move the game in new directions. The 'core' of what you need is right here in 16 pages. It's all of the basic rules, and enough character archetypes, magic, monsters, and treasure to get you started and keep you playing for a while. It's the best of the red book of D+D. When paired with the existing SSR rules, which are still a pay-what-you-want download by the way and easily backwards compatible (I'll post about conversions soon), you have a WIDE range of options.

2. I have an actual plan to get YOU involved in growing the game. As I've been thinking about it more and more, one of the things that has allowed D+D to grow and thrive was that it was not just one vision for the game; D+D was the messy stew of a hundred different designers all pitching in. This was a big part of what has made D+D so wild and chaotic over the years. If you have ideas and a Paypal account (you will need both), I will publish your work (and do the layout; and provide a little art if you'd like); you can publish expansion modules through Splintered Realms Publishing as 'official releases'. I'll say more about this soon. I am thinking of this as the "Ed Greenwood" model; he started by fleshing out parts of his game world through shorter pieces in Dragon Magazine, and eventually created an important corner of the larger D+D universe. You could decide to publish your own collection of monsters, or spells, or items, or an adventure... and start building your own corner of the Splintered Realm. And, if it sells a million copies, I guess you've just made a lot of money. I figure that people will want my core rules to get your amazing supplements, and I get to keep all of the yummy publisher points so I can roll advertising forward, so it's a win/win.

Of course, you can also publish your own expansions on your own, and I'll soon share the template that I use so that you can just go in and plug in your own content and build you competing empire that sells millions of copies and when you get the designer of the year award at GenCon and you don't even mention my name and I'm crying in a corner somewhere I will bring up this blog post and tell everyone about it and no one will care because you are so cool.


The game is done, but I'm spending a few days on edits so that this little package is wrapped up with a bow. I don't want a single typo, and at only 16 pages (one of which is the OGL), I should be able to do this.

Labor Day Reading

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 11:31

An embarrassment of riches for my Labor Day rpg reading! Kobold Press' Creature Codex dropped as did Jack Shear's new setting Cinderheim.

More on these in days to come.

Caverns of Ambuscade

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 11:07

By Davis Chenault
Troll Lord Games
Castles & Crusades
Levels 5-6

The silver mines run deep under the Unterbrook, unearthed by the clever hands of man and dwarf and the wealth has flowed like never before. But such wealth tends to draw unwanted eyes, and such excavations to cross powers best left asleep. Recently, all contact with the mines has been lost and a brooding silence settled upon the Unterbrook. Even the goblins shun the region. Plunge beneath the mountain’s roots and learn the mystery of the silvered caverns.

This 24 page adventure describes a mine with two levels and 24 rooms. It’s a Tuckers Kobolds kind of scenario, with ambushes and masses of low-HD opponents. In other news, I continue to have no patience for verbose, unfocused writing.

The Trolls may own the printing press, but its an editor that they need. Column long rooms, four paragraphs for an empty room. My intolerance for obfuscation seems to be growing. Building two in a old watch tower. It gets a paragraph of read aloud and then three more of additional information. There is a body in it, long decayed and picked clean by buzzards so you can’t tell what it was. But … we do know it was on guard duty and was killed by snakebite. Well, the DM knows this, the players have no way of knowing. What’s the point of this? The history of every rock and patch of lichen? The room has a cast iron stove in it, connected to a flue that juts out of the roof, with kindling in the room, and salt residue. It’s literal fucking trivia. The adventure does this sort of shit over and over again. It is COMPELLED to tell us the history of every little item encountered, as if it fucking mattered. You know what matters? Running the fucking game. You know what matters? Things the players will interact. Actual items related to actual play. The inability for writers to recognize this is one of the most frustrating experiences you can have. To see something this obvious, that happens over and over and over again. No Exit indeed.

How about a list of normal supplies? Want to know what’s in a room? How about a kitchen? A mining supply room in a mine? Have no worries, Davis is here to save you! Exhaustive lists of mundane room contents are included almost everywhere! Now you too can know what’s in a pantry! Joy! And to think, you’ve lived your whole life knowing this without the padded text of this adventure.

This is bad writing. It’s bad design. It’s some misguided appeal to realism. It has no place in the adventure. It’s only useful if it adds value to the actual play.

And this is to the detriment of the actual play value of the adventure. At one point there’s a steep stair over a chasm. A chasm that doesn’t show up on the map. It’s exceptionally confusing trying to figure out what is going on. Ledge … what ledge? Chute? Chasm? None of it is obvious AT ALL.

I leave you with two choice examples of text from the adventure. The first rivals Forgotten Realms for being incomprehensible. The second describes another point of trivia that has no bearing on the adventure.

Unbeknownst to the Leonhirdz, the mining operation alerted a Therafak (see New Monsters) living nearby. The Therafak bided its time and awaited an opportunity to do something. With the war in the south brewing, the Moorzeepin informed members of the Magdole Gang of the operation and they in turn informed a raiding party of Zjerd that had begun operating in that region of the Unterdrook. A Zjerd war

The kzarkim used several trullmirst to dig out holes in the walls leading from Room 2 to Room 4. They then stacked the planks and lumber over the holes in Room 2 so that they were not readily apparent. The idea was that, if anyone enters the mines and goes up to Room 3, the kzarkim can sneak out of the holes in here and ambush them.

This is $10 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages. The last couple give you a good example of meandering writing style compelled to explain everything.–Crusades–Caverns-of-Ambuscadia

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Review: “Poltarnees, Beholder of Ocean” by Lord Dunsany

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 03:53

Lord Dunsany is right there on the Appendix N Inspiratonal Reading list… listed as “Dunsany, Lord” no less.

Now… why is he there? Well, take your pick:

  • Because Gary Gygax grew up reading and enjoying these stories and this is a completely haphazard and idiosyncratic selection of things that just so happened to fire his imagination.
  • Because Lord Dunsany is arguably the most significant fantasist of the twentieth century and nobody collating a list of significant works of fantasy during the mid-seventies would have dared omit him.

Think carefully, y’all!

But seriously, though… the guy is positively tremendous. The story we’re going to look at today is my favorite short story ever. I had picked up Lin Carter’s compilation of Dunsany stories At the Edge of the World and when got to this one, I set it aside because I was persuaded then and there that I simply had to read all of Lord Dunsany’s fantasy from the very beginning. It’s that good!

A word of warning is in order here. Given everything else on the Appendix N list, you are liable to be extremely disappointed to find out that Lord Dunsany did not in fact write mind bendingly weird horror, blood soaked tales of sword & sorcery, sizzling planetary romance adventures, or off the wall science fantasy. Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany actually had his work published in literary magazines! (His story “Time and the Gods” appeared in the same issue of a magazine that featured work by Bernard Shaw.)

But don’t let that scare you off. You’re going to be right at home with his stories. Among other things, they are the perfect prelude to the Complete Works of H. P. Lovecraft. (And contrary to the haters out there, I think Lovecraft was pretty darn good at emulating the cadence of Dunsany’s prose.)

Even better, there are things here that really can be a big help to your tabletop role-playing game sessions. Dig this opening passage, for instance:

Toldees, Mondath, Arizim, these are the Inner Lands, the lands whose sentinels upon their borders do not behold the sea. Beyond them to the east there lies a desert, for ever untroubled by man: all yellow it is, and spotted with shadows of stones, and Death is in it, like a leopard lying in the sun. To the south they are bounded by magic, to the west by a mountain, and to the north by the voice and anger of the Polar wind. Like a great wall is the mountain to the west. It comes up out of the distance and goes down into the distance again, and it is named Poltarnees, Beholder of Ocean. To the northward red rocks, smooth and bare of soil, and without any speck of moss or herbage, slope up to the very lips of the Polar wind, and there is nothing else there by the noise of his anger. Very peaceful are the Inner Lands, and very fair are their cities, and there is no war among them, but quiet and ease. And they have no enemy but age, for thirst and fever lie sunning themselves out in the mid-desert, and never prowl into the Inner Lands. And the ghouls and ghosts, whose highway is the night, are kept in the south by the boundary of magic.

What a place!

What a stage!

Now I’m not sure how it is that we got to the point where role-playing game supplements went full on with the whole census data and almanac shtick. Honestly, the more stuff you give me the more stuff I feel like I oughtta be faithful to in running a game. That’s work! But worse than that, there’s only so much I can keep in my head at once. And even worse than that… the players are generally only going to want to hear at most half a paragraph sketching out the basic geography of the setting at any given time.

If you’re going to throw something like that at your players, you might as well make it something awesome like ghosts and ghouls that are kept out only by a boundary of magic… or even better, the personification of Death himself just chilling out in a desert! Heck, you just invited your friends over for a fantasy role-playing game. Imagine the look on their faces when they get a little unadulterated fantasy instead of yet another jumped up Poughkeepsie!

Short stories like this have to sketch out an entire world in a couple of paragraphs. And convey a tone and an atmosphere and a feeling all at once. And they have get to the point quickly– and convey that quickly as well. Just like you do when you’re running your games.

Here’s how Lord Dunsany does it:

From these three little kingdoms that are named the Inner Lands the young men stole constantly away. One by one they went, and no one knew why they went save that they had a longing to behold the Sea. Of this longing they spoke little, but a young man would become silent for a few days, and then, one morning very early, he would slip away and slowly climb Poltarnee’s difficult slope, and having attained the top pass over and never return. A few stayed behind in the Inner Lands and became the old men, but none that had ever climbed Poltarnees from the very earliest times had ever come back again. Many had gone up Poltarnees sworn to return. Once a king sent all his courtiers, one by one, to report the mystery to him, and then went himself; none ever returned.

This is what I call a situation. And this sort of thing is the bread and butter of role-playing game sessions.

Now, in our games the players are more likely going to have to foil some dastardly scheme perpetrated by Cthulhu worshiping cultists that are dead set on disrupting the magical barrier that keeps the ghosts and ghouls at bay. They’ll probably have to contend with Thirst and Fever as they head out into to the desert in order to challenge Death to a battle of wits. That’s just how we roll!

Where Lord Dunsany goes with this one is of course nothing like that. He’s more concerned with things like wise kings, beautiful princesses, heroic hunters, true love, solemn oaths, and terrible blasphemy.

You might recognize the overriding theme by the time you get to the end, though!

Read the whole thing!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

In brief...

3d6 Traps & Thieves - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 01:00
The Avremier 0e project is finished. All five books are printed. They will all be made available on the DriveThruRPG store. First, as PDF - then as PoD. In the months and years to come, more Avremier goodness will follow.

The next project/product line will be Duckin' & Braggin' - the humor fantasy RPG guide. Based upon the original B/X framework, D&B will encompass our "Sword & Farcery" line of products for the near future.

Moving forward, all offerings will be sold and fulfilled through DTRPG. Mothshade Concepts will not be in the business of printing and shipping books - just writing and producing them.

This blog will be a place for gaming stuff - mostly in the OSR RPG area. More to come.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

K.I.S.S. the Splintered Realm Hello

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 09/02/2018 - 19:56
As I refine and refine, I keep going back and forth on a few issues. In the end, I think I am going to go with the simplest option for each problem, because the simplest is the easiest to remember, it takes up the least space, and at the end of the day you don't lose anything from the play experience by taking the simpler option that the more complex option would have given you...

FEATs. FEATs have grown a bit since the original SSR rules. In the supers game, the DT of a FEAT is relative to the power and level of the foe; Magneto's magnetic control is more difficult to resist than the Magnet Kid's (I just made him up, so (c) that immediately and wait for the royalty checks to roll in) magnetic control would be. By the same token, the breath weapon of a huge elder dragon is more difficult to resist than the breath weapon of a young wyrmling. Except it doesn't need to be. In several situations the FEAT is only allowing you to minimize the damage; you still get hit, and you still take damage, and this as scaled based on the level of the foe. Okay. Then there's this problem: if your FEAT modifiers scale with the foes, you basically always have the same chance of success; you never 'feel' like you are getting better, because the difficulty of the situation is also getting harder. In that case, why have FEATs at all? Why not have everything be a 50/50 chance? If I got to take +7 at level 1 to pick DT 20 locks, and now at level 6 I take a mighty +12 against DT 25 locks... I am no better off. The game is more complex, sure, but for no notable gain, and possibly for a loss. It's much easier to say that the DT for all Feats is 20, and then create a few basic modifiers; a good lock is always at -2 to the FEAT. This is how it is in the original SSR rules, and it's staying. I toyed with the Sentinels model, but it doesn't make as much sense here. This target 20 actually aligns better with the source material; your saving throw vs. Dragon breath is always the saving throw. It gets better as you get better, and is rarely dependent on the specifics of the dragon who is doing the breathing.

Magical Bonuses. This is always one of the big bugaboos. How do you balance magical benefits? I don't like the complex array of stacking; this item gives a benefit, unless it is with this item, then you take the better of the two; but in some cases, you get to take a third bonus, but only if the first bonus is not from a ring.
I am thinking of a simple hard cap on magical bonuses. You are limited to a magical bonus to any ability, attribute, or quality of + your level. At level 2, your magical bonus to AC can be no better than +2 altogether. This could be from a ring that grants AC +1 and a shield that grants +1 AC, or from a spell that grants +2 AC. Doesn't matter. You cap at your level. This means that a level 6 character could conceivably run around with magical +6 to attack, damage, attributes, Feats... okay. These are endgame characters. I'm cool with that. So, a level 1 character can pick up a sword that gives +3 to attack and damage, but he cannot use the full power of the sword yet; he just isn't powerful enough to wield it, so he gets +1 to hit and damage. I actually like this a lot, because a character could start with an heirloom weapon or suit of armor and not know its full benefit until a few levels are achieved and it stops getting better...

Magic. I have WAY simplified the magic system. I like it. As a caster, you can cast one spell of each spell tier you have per turn. If you are a level 3 primary caster (like a magic user), you get a tier 1, 2, and 3 spell each turn. You want to throw fireball every turn? Fine. You only get one, so I hope it counts. This at least requires some level of diversity. In fact, this better aligns with the movies that I often try to emulate; a wizard never just stands there delivering the same spell over and over. The wizard draws different spells from his repertoire, throwing an assortment of different magic at his foes. Mechanically, the game will support this approach. And, this solves the problem of a level 2 magic user have a grand total of 2 spells per DAY. Ugh.

The draft is coming along nicely. I should have it out in the next few days.

Holmes Dungeons & Dragons Sunday & Seventies Cyclopean Orcs

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 09/02/2018 - 19:04
If your new here welcome aboard! Last night I was prowling around the Zenopus Archives and a bit of information on the artist known as Fangorn aka Chris Baker cropped up. Especially his famous dragon  illustration from the Fiend Folio! But the speculation is that this was supposed to be the cover of the U.K. Holmes Basic  edition of Dungeons & Dragons! Suddenly the quest of our fighter Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Weird Revisited: INFERNO-LAND!

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 09/02/2018 - 14:00
This post first appeared in 2012 and was written for a Bakshian post-apocalyptic setting. it could be used in any number of post-apoc settings, though...

Beneath the wilds east of the domain of the dwarves, there is a series of caves and grottoes, lit crimson and cast in flickering shadow by ever-burning fires. This subterranean realm is know as Hell.

Hell’s most famous entrance (though there are rumored to be many) is located in a lonely ruin near the sea. It’s accessible through a door in the mouth of statue of a giant head. Near the head is a runic legend that resists translation: “D NTE’   NFEFNO-L N !” The head’s leering and horned visage is said to be in the likeness of Hell’s sardonic ruler. He names himself Mephisto (though he has other names) and appears as a Man of ancient times, save for the small horns on his brow and the ever present flicker of flame in his eyes.

Lord Mephisto is not confined to his domain. He tends to appear when people are at their most desperate to offer a bargain. And a contract. Souls are typically his price and stories say that he doesn’t wait until a person’s death to collect them. Unwise bargainers and those who blunder into Hell unaware find themselves in the clutches of Mephisto and his minions: snickering fiends with crimson skins, horns, and often, batwings. Smiling, they escort captives to one grotto or another and enthusiastically apply some torture or torment.

There have been a lucky few to escape Hell’s clutches. Their tales are difficult to comprehend, even considering the strange nature of the place. They speak of a room full of copies of Mephisto in repose upon slabs and glimpses of ancient devices of Man behind the torture tableaux.

A Quick Response to Malcolm the Cynic

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sun, 09/02/2018 - 13:22

This is from the comment thread on the previous post:

“You can prefer pre-Tolkienian fantasy if you like. You can dislike how too many people copied Tolkien if you’d like. But one thing you cannot do, at least not honestly or at least accurately, is claim that Tolkien didn’t make exactly what he wanted to make exactly the way he wanted to make it.”

I agree.

Going down that path at all is clearly not constructive. It was a mistake.

Those of you that wanted me to explicitly walk that stuff back before trying a different angle on this… consider it done!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

1d6 Random Mysterious & Important Skalds of The Lost Tribes Encounter Table For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 09/02/2018 - 06:07
" Olafar Skaldarb strode into the court with the gaze of a man who owned the place.No man met the yellow golden iries of his eyes for they shone with unnatural light of one who had been to the Otherworld. In his hands was a well made but very well worn lyre whose strings shone with colours strange & weird. It was said that Olafar Skaldarb had met Loki himself as he walked on toward the roadNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Original Southlands Map redux

Bat in the Attic - Sun, 09/02/2018 - 01:29
Back in 2009 I released my take on the Outdoor Survival Map mentioned in ODnD. Modifying the map using the guidelines found in Book 3 Underworld and Wilderness Adventures along with substituted Judges Guild icons in place of the original.

Since then it made the rounds appearing in projects like Autarch's Dwimmermount.

Recently +Nathan Jennings requested a version that didn't have the title block in the upper left. Since I still had the original files it was easy make a version that does just that.
So here it for everybody else to use for whatever project they have in mind. Just click here to get the full resolution version.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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