Monday, May 31, 2010

Product Update

Been working a bit on some Pathfinder stuff, a couple of new classes, a really cool book of encounters (which will also be Old School) and a big book of cool spells and such (which may also be Old Schooled)

They aren't ready yet but there has been progress.

Stay Tuned and thanks for reading my blog.

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day in the States.

While this blog is a-political I still have to say, bless those who gave their lives to defend my liberty.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And the Worlds They Come... Another Creation Dariel

Just had another idea for a game world, Dariel --

Dariel is a world where a single monotheistic God is the creator of the world. This being "The One" created the universe and everything in it and is the source of all good. I imagine the Church as Celtic Catholicism with a hint of Wicca and Gnosticism.

Basic teachings, those who do evil unless granted The Divine Mercy will pay for it on Dariel (sinners reincarnate till they are worthy of Heaven) or if its bad enough in Hell where they suffer till the sin is burned off. There are of course a lot of local variants and the usual interfaith warfare just to keep things interesting.

The real enemy of mankind are the spiritual forces that plague him. These include the Rebels and the Fallen who desire to make Dariel into a reflection of the Hells they inhabit and the Fae.

The Fae are soulless immortal creatures who can only gain a soul by interbreeding with humans or by being around them for a long time.

What makes this world unique is that evil is objective real and detectable so for example, if a Paladin finds some Orc babies, its lawful and good to painless destroy them. They are soulless and will always do evil as they have no free will. Evil acts can leave lingering traces and so on.

I imagine some limits on classes, all the mundane classes, a variant ranger without spells and magic classes limited to Cleric, Paladin and Wizard.

"Free" races with Souls include Human, Half Elf, Dhampir, Shifter, and Half Orc. If I decide to use them possibly Halflings and some Dwarves too. If I were to run it the system would probably be Pathfinder.

THE LAND OF NOD #1 is out


This is an entirely excellent campaign primer/house rules document/magazine aimed at Swords and Wizardry (more or less)

Man, if these three don't keep y'all busy, nothing will.

LotFP: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Version 0.7 is out

Its like a surfeit of old school goodness coming out all at once.

You can get this cool thing here

Blackleaf Needs You!

Dark Dungeons, the Cyclopedia retro-clone has been released. Like a lot of the magnificent generous people in the OSR its been made available as a free PDF .You can also get it in print, at cost .

So shoo!, what are you hanging around here for? Go get it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Another World I Made

I went through some of my files this morning and to my surprise found a world I had made and forgotten about. Seeing that, I suspect its a good thing I am not a major God, I'd be a rather forgetful one.

Anyway the world in question was for 3x, Inspired by Runequest (where everyone used magic) The rules were a mishmash of my Low Magic House Rules Pathfinder and Thieves World with the cantrip system lifted whole cloth from standard D&D.

In the setting, there was an event called the Leveling that destroyed all the magic of the world above L0 spells. Magic items from before the event still worked fine but spells were no longer available. However as a consequence anyone could use any cantrip they knew at will. Healing Cantrips were gone except for Pathfinder ones to maintain game balance.

As a kicker PC's started with INT mod cantrips, more with certain backgrounds.And pretty much that was all there was.

I never got to run it which is too bad. I kinda thought it would have been fun.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Worlds I Made

While my products generally won't have a specific setting other than "Pathfinder" or "Old School" like many DM's I am an inveterate world builder.

Over the years I developed 5 fantasy worlds for my gaming and no they don't really reference the Five Stones in the company names. Thats actually a coincidence.

Now each of these worlds served a different gaming goal at one time or another

The first of these Midrea was a built around the idea "What are the logical consequences of a D&D world being real" -- it was strange and in its final 3x version (it had been 2e, GURPS and a homebrew at one point) it turned out to be a magical cold war with a lot of Sword and Sorcery and Cthulhu elements.

The Second, Enarion (also known as Along the Great River) was means to trim out most of the Tolkien and Faerie Tale bits and leave me with something more inspired by Lieber, Howard, The Bronze Age and Pirates of Dark Water.

The Third was Eradim and yes this is a the reverse spelling of Midrea. It was Midrea after most of the magic was gone and the technology advanced to about 1650 or so. This allowed me to keep my setting intact but change the play parameters a bit, something I found to be a time saver. Its fare more romantic fantasy meets gritty history meets swashbuckling than its parent.

The Fourth was Mekethkier. The premise there was "Evil Wins" It predates Midnight (I created for the WotC design a setting contest) and was much less bleak. Beyond that I only remember a little about it .Since a goblin ate my notes, I can't tell you much more.

The fifth and my most recent is "Faerielands" which is basically D&D with all the Sword and Sorcery edited out and a heap of faerie tale and smidgen of horror. For me it serves the same goal as the Mandragora setting does for Scott. It provides me an easy tool set for gaming faerie tales and limits the pallet to appropriate flavorful material.

Of them, only the last might see print. There is in my opinion a real need for an action faerie tale RPG using a familiar system. This kind of set up is great for younger players and as a starting game at least in my not so humble opinion.

The other worlds like the thousands of homebrews out there will remain unpublished and only enjoyed on the web and by my players.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Memory Hole: PDF Only Releases and You

Thinking about En Ferreus Veritas reminded me of something. Unlike books, there is no secondhand PDF market and should a PDF get pulled, its gone.

Now there are obviously less legitimate ways to acquire things but I am a publisher and we don't talk about or encourage that kind of thing . After all, you don't excrete where you eat.

However even for those who don't mind the back channels some things can't be found anywhere you look

I ran smack into this problem trying to get the above PDF. Publisher kaput, no print version and no second market. Very frustrating. My advice is if there is a small press PDF only release you want and you have the cash you need to get it when you see it. It may be gone sooner than you think.

Musings on 3x: Its all been done before

When I think about "d20" I sometimes get a snippet of the old lyric "its all been done before" running in my head. This is not out of some snide put down of my fellow publishers but out of the humbling revelation that there simply are so many different ways of doing any given tasks in the d20 system. I have to admit whenever I sit down thinking of rules patches I really have to ask myself, can I do better? And to be honest, while I can do as well I can't really do better. Its a sobering thought.

Lets take rapier fencing, this is not a large part of most D&D games yet despite that in addition to the decent enough rules in D&D 3 and Pathfinder I can find 4 separate 3rd party supplements with fairly extensive rules, most focused around feat and prestige class combos.

There are of course more than this, probably hundreds of feats and prestige classes scattered in dozens of books, most all of which are balanced and playable. If any publishers want to pimp a related product in the comments or feel left out, feel free to chime in.

The big 4 I founder are/were

#1 D20 7th Sea which had dozens of sword school prestige classes and a ton of feats

#2 Skull and Bones which has a very good flexible prestige class systems and feats

#3 Codex Martialis which is basically realistic authentic D20 Medieval and Renaissance Combat written by a martial artist

and lastly #4 En Ferreus Veritas which was a pure rapier source book I have not read (can't find a copy)

What does this all mean?

Well first it means choices have to be made before you run a game

Second, all of us would be publishers ought to think before they write. Of course I suppose its been that way all along. Or since 2002 anyway ;)

Today's Music for Your Games Braveheart

Its a bit Celtic and IMO the movie is quite overrated but in the right context it makes very good gaming music.

Another Exciting piece of music with a wilder and more exotic flavor is the King Arthur Soundtrack. I like this quite a bit as it offers a wide range of pieces both somber and exciting.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How about a Free space game using OD&D 1974 rules


Its here and its pretty sweet, nicely illustrated, real nice price ;) and very old school.

I like it so far.

New Magic Item: Lore Stone

The stone from the above encounter.

A lorestone stone is small dull blue flat bottomed rock the top of which is marked with a intertwining sign in some lost language.When carried it grants +1 to the bearers intelligence and the ability to ask a question once per day.

This question may be about any topic but more difficult or distant questions naturally give vangue answers.

Such stones can be modified by a magic user to provide some intelligence and direction to constructs or undead fairly simply but this damages the stone. Such a damaged stone will reduce the bearers total HP by 1d4 till the damage is repaired by soaking in holy water, a remove curse spell, a bless spell or in the case of a stone used to animate constructs by soaking it on oil overnight.

Note the stones magic can be used to find out how it can be repaired. Lorestones are usable by anyone.

A very nasty encounter (Old School)

A freebie for the late night crowd. Something to scare the pants off your players.

Chamber of the Dead

DM Intro

As the 4th member of you party enters the semi spherical moss encrusted cold stone chamber, a portcullis of spikes rises from the floor with a scream of twisted metal. Bits of rotten flesh, twisted metal, broken weapons and worse adorn the grisly metal trap . As you turn to look for a way out , there is a foul smell of corruption and a creak of metal. Something seems to have attracted the attention of Something

Eight armored figures adorned in a half rusted shambles of plate and armor turn in ghastly unison, lift curved axes and begin to approach in a parody of marching . Roll for initiative


These are zombies of course so the initiative roll is simply to determine who moves first in the approach round. The zombies will always attack last

MV 60
HP 10
Dam 1d8 (rusty Axe)

The armor these guys are equipped with is purely piecemeal and will be destroyed on a hit leaving the zombies at AC8 for future rounds

In addition to the zombies there is an invisible skeletons controlled by a lore stone embedded in its forehead . This stone allows any user 1 "hint" per day and adds +1 to intelligence if anyone carries it. However it has a slight unholy taint and it will reduce total HP by 1d4 till it is soaked in holy water over night, blessed or a remove curse is cast on it.

The skeleton is armed with a nicely made steel bow and 4 arrows each coated with a magic poison (save vs poison or die) .It will shoot at anyone with a holy symbol.

MV 120
HP 8
Dam 1d6 (short bow + poison)
AC 7

At the far end of the room is lever that will open the portcullis gate (or it can be forced on a zero or less on 1d6 strength applies normally) however another zombie as above guards the lever and will attack anyone trying to touch it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Some Things I Am Working On

New Racial Classes for Labyrinth Lord


My take on elves is that all of them use arcane magic of some kind. Like a certain elf from a very bad movie "Humans use magic as versus elves being part of it." This colors all the elf classes as X + Plus magic user.

All elves will have certain abilities in common. In newer editions these would be called "racial" abilities but here they are part of the class.

Those abilities include:

Night Vision (instead of infrasvision)
auto detect secrets doors on a 1-2 and concealed doors on a 1-3 if within
Immune to aging,disease, ghoul touch, magic sleep
Hear Noise +1
Surprised 1 time in 6 less
Stronghold at L9

Classes for Elves include

Sword Dancer (your classic fighter/mage)
Spell Hand (sneaky elf)
Wanderer (woods elf)
Arcane Archer (archery and magic rather similar to the prestige class)
Healer (limited cleric and nature magic )

More Praise The Grand OGL Wiki

Another awesome group of generous companies and gamers, the Grand OGL Wiki people deserve thanks

The site has a ton of cool D20 material, free and legal for use. And yes it combines with only a tiny bit of work with Pathfinder too.

Its awesome and just like the Pathfinder guys if you happen by, thanks.

In Praise of Piazo

Since I plan to support Pathfinder this is a bit "conflict of interest'y' if you'll forgive the Buffy speak however I really want to say Paizo, is an incredibly generous company.

if you haven't checked out the Pathfinder SRD its been heavily updated with material from the newest books. The volume of stuff thats free for us developers and strapped players to use, just given away is astonishing.

Now the D20 SRD was solid but the Pathfinder one? Well its an on-line library of goodness.

I would be remiss in not thanking the crew over there too, so in case any of you guys happen by. Thanks for all the hard work.

Confession 3: I am not in a current game

I actually hate making this one but do to circumstances beyond my current control I am not playing or DMing anything, Old School or Pathfinder.

I intend to remedy this either FtF or worse comes to worse, with an on line PbP game.

I am still not sure what system to use though. There is so much good stuff out there to choose from.

Another Dio Song:

My Favorite also with lyrics. Rainbow in the Dark

R.I.P Ronnie James Dio

Rest in Piece Ronnie James Dio.

Dio was the kind of music a lot of us older gamers grew up with. Now my love of metal started later in life with Twisted Sister but once I discovered Dio (with the Iron Eagle soundtrack) it was 100% Oh Yeah!

Here in tribute with lyrics Holy Diver

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Acrobatic in Armor: Yep

Just in case anyone wondered, armor is not particularly encumbering, certainly not enough to slow down someone by half. And while yes armor is really hot and somewhat encumbering and deserving of a penalty to endurance and to acrobatic maneuvers it has only a moderate effect on agility.

Most of 2e and before were written before we new anything about armor. So a lot of what shows up in books is flat wrong and comes from stuff like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court more than any scholarship .

The limiting factor on armor was its cost, think "buying your own tank" cost not just a fraction of your starting wealth.

Now when I play B/X or Labyrinth Lord I use the rules pretty much as written. They aren't "historically accurate" but they work and thats good enough. I do tend to be generous though and I never penalize any Dex to AC bonus or anything like that.

A video for the interested, on You Tube showing a workout in what D&D calls Plate Mail or Field Plate depending on edition

Today's Music for Your Games

Todays first jewel is as official as you can get. Midnight Syndicate, the official D&D soundtrack guys. If you haven't heard them, give them a try. They are a solid choice for background music, stylish and pretty cool all around. This is Gates of Delirium from the album of the same name.

nest up is Nox Arcana with Temple of the Black Pharaoh. The two groups share a kind of Darkwave/Fanciful. There is a little eerie chanting in the background of this but its less Egyptian than D&D mummies tomb which makes it great for gaming.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Today's Music For Your Game

My bar none #1 favorite piece for the Conan soundtrack. If you are one of the few gamers who is not familiar with the sound track to the 1983 Conan (staring now California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger) this is the best and most evocative piece of music on the sound track. It epitomizes the Sword and Sorcery roots of the genre.

The Orgy Chamber/Attack on Thulsa Doom - Basil Poledouris

A rarity here, a vocal piece, The March of Cambreadth by Heather Alexander. Just listen. Pure epic battle lyrics. By the way Heather is great in concert. If you get a chance to see her, do so.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A New Feature, Music For Your Game

Blackhawk Down Sound Track.

The first tune I've included is Vale of Plenty which feels very suitable for Firefly gaming.

The second from the same sound track Chant.

This tune is powerful with a strong "Middle Eastern" flavor and if you don't mind rock at your table great for setting like Al Quadim

Neglected Obits #2 Frank Frazetta

Frazetta too passed on this year .

His art was a huge influence of so many of us in the day. Funny enough I was not one of them. He was a great artist, no argument there, but I never cared for the thud and blunder style of his art. It was just too, metal I guess.

I preferred softer fare like Hildebrand or later Elmore.

However (and I nicked this image from Wikipedia and am using under assumed fair use as tribute to the artist) I have to admit this one heck of a piece of art

Frank Frazetta.

Conan may not have had that much gymnasium muscle but that is a powerful work.

Neglected Obits #1

Dr. J. Eric Holmes famed off Blue Book D&D. I started with this edition, as many OSR people did. Passed on this year . He will be missed.

Monday, May 10, 2010

And Now There Are Six

A new freebie (at least for the first issue) magazine, Encounter

Thanks also to Bat in the Attic for pointing it put.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

One of the Handiest Rules of All: Greyhawk Average Hitpoints

I cribbed this rule from Living Greyhawk,, to give credit where credit is do.

How it works is simple

Instead of rolling hit points are calculated as the middle number on the die plus one. Basically average rounded to the nearest number. I.E. 1d6hd is 4, 4d8hd is 20, 7d10hd is 60 and so on.

This adds a tiny bit of extra punch, maybe 1/2 hp per level, speeds and simplifies prep time and is across the board fair.

It works only a tiny bit differently for PC's and major NPC's in that they still get Max at level 1.

Whats also great about this rule is it can be used with almost every D&D edition except 4e where its not needed anyway.

Try it I think you may like it.