Thursday, April 19, 2018

Take a U Turn

Here's a table when you need to take a campaign U turn.

1.  A beloved NPC turns up dead the next morning.
2.  A God falls from the sky, dead.  It rains ichor.
3.  A strange magical portal appears on the side of a building or animal
4.  A note from a loved one is under a PCs pillow, a relative has died.
5.  Dragons no longer have the ability to breath fire.
6.  The local town is taken over by mysterious travelers, on the outskirts is a large metallic craft.
7.  A large vein of gold has been found, rendering the gold piece completely insignificant.
8.  A famine has taken over, people are hungry, begging in the streets.
9.  A tax collector has been strung up at the gates of the city.
10.  Large holes in the ground have started appearing, someone claims they are really deep.
11.  The night has come, the sun doesn't rise the next day or the day after.
12.  Alcohol no longer has any effect on anyone.
13.  Wishes come true, even the insignificant ones.  But only for 2 days.
14.  A herd of mechanical cows come stampeding across the local fields.
15.  People are waking up from the dead, they are not undead and not zombies, they resemble themselves the day they died.
16.  Locally grown mushrooms if ingested allow a person to time travel back one day.
17.  A ingenious alchemist invented gun powder by accident and burnt half the town down.
18.  A the local militia have mysteriously fell ill.  A barbarian tribe has encircled the town.
19.  It has not stopped raining for days. 
20.  All forms of birds have been found dead.  Sometimes falling from the sky.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Gavanov Barony

While working on "the return of the blue baron" we started writing a bit of the back story.  The original was never actually set anywhere.  When Jeff ran it he placed the Baron's castle in the city of Blueholme.  In reality these adventures can be popped into whatever world you have created for yourself. 

As it stands right now we have basically finished writing and are now on to what I like to call "Edit City", afterwards it's layout city. 

I think I will make this adventure 8x11 for the sake that most people will print it if they run it. 

I am also going to start gathering together some nice clip art and images from various sources.  I like to have a pool of graphics to pick from one I start working. 

Anyways, yesterday while recording some vocals with a nice Russian lady, I doodled this map and then did some editing on it at lunch.  All of the towns are in German, I used google translate with some basic names. 

grenzenstadt: border city
blaue stadt: blue city 
flusse rand: rivers edge
altes holz: old wood
Schneeglockhe: Snow cap

The barony is part of a large kingdom ruled by a Queen, in my mind the Blue Baron's territory is sort of Germanic/Bavarian (hence the silly translating). 

There isn't really an intention to have this within the module, as I say I just did a little map doodle for fun. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Just watching Heroes Of Jordoba

If you haven't checked out Matt's channel yet, I suggest you do if you like watching D&D on youtube.  For me it's wonderful to have something like this on in the background while I'm working.  As well, I really like Matt's idea for the dungeon being a city that was basically destroyed (by a Volcano?).  It's an underground city, I'm totally borrowing this idea.

In some of Matt's other videos he plays OD&D, but in this series they are playing Fifth Edition.  But honestly listening to them, it feels and sounds like Old School to me.  Except for the occasional mechanic question.  In this video the sync crapped up, but it's totally fine as I'm a theatre of the mind guy.  You should check out the crazy mini camera action that Matt does though!

Apparently they all rolled up characters using the 3d6 method, which is great.  Matt is winging it like a good old school DM.  You can tell that he's ran games for a long time, as he just rolls with the punches.

This to me is what a group should be like, this is what my old school group was like.  Laughs, not jumping from room to room to quickly, carnage, a few terrible jokes that will probably become a "thing", and everyone having a good time.

BTW I'm amazed at Zak's rolling! The guy was rolling 20's all night.  (Well I think he had one one).

Monday, April 16, 2018

My Wife doesn't like side initiative

Saturday afternoon we were driving back from the country and started talking about D&D.  The road was nice and clear, sun was shining down, so we were both getting sleepy.  I started the conversation with "I like side initiative,  because it's easier for me DMing".  I then on to explain exactly how it worked.  I also talked briefly about the last Fifth Ed battle I had, and the weird rotating initiative that happened.  I should start off by saying normally what I/We do with D&D is roll initiative once, and then that's the order for the entire battle.  The monsters all go once, not individually.  The last battle I was so confused because there was different initiative's for most of the monsters, so when I thought it was my turn, we still hadn't actually finished a round. 

Side note: I can't believe they got rid of turns. 

Anyways, Apparently (as per Wife) she really likes the separate rolls for everyone, it's "part of the fun".  So despite how much I'd prefer to just have one side go, and then the other I think I'll have to stick with individual initiative.  Another thing I'm going to have to stick with is, the full scale +5 to -5 attribute modifiers, as another player really enjoys the swinginess of it.

My solution for initiative is the following:  Everyone rolls a d10 instead of a 20.  Part of the reason is the countdown, with a pile of people who had A.D.D. "Alright who is 16??? no one???"  "wait! i'm 16".  You see how that's wildly problematic. 

So I think what I'll do is d10 plus dex bonus.  In case of a tie, whoever has the highest dex goes first.  In the case of a tie with monsters, I'll roll their dex score and see where it falls. 

I'm not sure if that will speed things up or not? But I'm going to give it a go the next time we play some elf games.

Sometimes I can be swayed, which is a good thing.  You have to listen when you run games.

Alright that's it for me!

Sometime this week I got a review I'll be doing, as well I'll probably do a friday catch up of the April TTRPG maker thing.

Have a good week!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

First half of #aprilttrpgmaker

Not that anyone really cares, but here's the first half of the April TTRPGmaker for me.  First off, I'm not really a RPG maker, I create adventures for the most part.  Although I've released a few half baked rules hacks.

1.  Who are you?
Shane Ward, sometimes I go by the nickname "Gilligan" or "Shaner".  But don't call me that.

2.  Where ya at?
The great white north kids! Specifically the city of Winnipeg, which is currently in a "white out" situation.  ie the Jets are in the playoffs.  The city is nuts.

3.  How did you start creating ttrpgs? 
I honestly fell into it I think.  I started this blog in 2013 (holy shit!).  Shortly after that I wrote "caverns of ugard" and it sort of spiraled from there.  I normally put out one to two adventures a year and they are almost all PWYW.

4.  Describe your work? 
In my adventure writing I try for a "swords & sorcery" feel, but I think it comes off more as low magic vanilla fantasy.

5.  Favorite game you've worked on? 
I'm guessing this is based on a set of rules I've written, which I really haven't.  I really like writing for Blueholme as a game.  Favourite thing I came up with is probably "Invitation from the blue baron" collaborative dungeon project.

6.  Favourite game mechanic? 
I'm a big fan of old school reaction and morale checks, I really should have used them more when I was a kid.  Makes the game a little less hack and slash sometimes.

7.  Your workspace? 
While I attempt to write at home on the couch with my laptop, nine times out of ten I get all my writing done at lunch at work.  Pretty much everything I do starts in google docs and then eventually get's ported to word or publisher.

8.  Describe your routine? 
I get an idea, usually when I'm feeling a bit manic and creative.  Write as much as possible on that, then totally forget about it when the next ADD moment crops up, and rinse and repeat.  Eventually things come out, but I don't really schedule myself at all, it just sort of happens in time. I currently have about 5 projects on the go in various states of completion (one of which I haven't even started, but I think about on a regular basis).

9.  Describe your process? 
As above.  ADD kicks in, usually on my walk to work (that's where I get all my ideas from).  I get a coffee and sit down and write the ideas while they are fresh (when I should be working.... like now).

10.  Favourite game to relax with? 
I can run b/x or blueholme all day.  Relaxing wise it's totally mexican train.  Put on an album, grab a beer and play for 4 hours.

11.  What's yer brand?
3 Toadstools publishing, which is a stupid name.  It's basically a tavern name in a hobbit village somewhere.  That was the name that I came up with for the blog, and then later used for the publishing end of things.  (cuz cross branding I guess?).  I think my stuff is sort of in the "old school" aesthetic as far as looking like a revamped TSR product and a bit of DIY RPG thrown in for good measure.  Reading other designers stuff gives me good ideas to incorporate.  So I'm learning.

12.  How do you get your work out there? 
Mostly google plus, posting in some communities.  Just talking with people.  I don't push as hard as I could.  At some point if I get something super exciting maybe I'll pour the coals on.  I do have a facebook page for the publishing company as well.  Once in a blue moon I'll email my customers thru

Find my stuff here. 

Grab my latest adventure "Dusty Door" here. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Four years ago

Four years ago I released my first adventure "The Caverns Of Ugard", which started my publishing journey.  I've learned a LOT since then.  I think with every adventure I get a teeny bit better.  So far, the only adventure that may have been a step back was "Mad God's Jest", at least writing wise.  I did have a lot of fun with that one though. 

Ugard is this terrible minotaur, that I sort of modelled after Jabba The Hutt.

Here's the publisher blurb. 

The name Ugard is notorious with pain and fear!  Thru-out the surrounding lands Ugard and his minions threaten, bully and extort money and lives.  The vile Minotaur is holed up in some caves on the outskirts of town.  This OSR compatible one page dungeon can easily be placed into any campaign for a night of fun!  

You can download it here:  It's pay what you want, like all of my titles. 

Interesting note, when I wrote gardag, I was originally going to use DRAGU as the name, but totally cocked it up.  You know, so that the modules would have something in common.  Whoops! 

Eventually I intend to put all my modules together and put out a book form, with a bunch of extra adventures.  While working on that, I re drew the map for ugard (to replace the computer one).  Here it is! 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Revisions, revisions.

I really don't like being that guy. The one that puts out revisions of products. However I'm going to work on revision four of "Dusty door ". I received some fantastic art for it, and I wanted to rejigger the fonts one more time.

At some point I would love to redo all my adventures and other releases.

I keep stopping myself though, as I would rather write more stuff!

Anyways that's what I'm up to this weekend. After work probably, I've got a recording session tonight.

Hope you have a good gaming weekend!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Rebel Breakout!

I finally had a chance to read "rebel breakout" and the Star Wars d6 rules from WEG this past weekend.  Pretty much everything is making sense mechanically, except one thing.  How the hell damage works.  From what I gather the following happens:

A check is made to see if a hit is actually made.  That is then compared to a armour check, whatever the difference is between those two rolls you then look up on a chart and see if the victim is stunned, incapacitated or really hurt.  Regardless of those conditions the victims stats rolls are all decreased by 1D until they are healed in some way.

I'm sure it will work out fine at the table, but wrapping my head around it is slightly difficult!

I'm going to print off the pre gen characters and basically lay them out on the table for everyone to decide what they are going to be.  I am hoping not to have 2 of the same character.  I also will print off the basic DM rules/charts in the back of the book.  Then run everything with the pdf on my laptop.

The adventure in the book "rebel breakout" is pretty cool, a little railroadey, but oh well.  My only issue is that the maps kinda suck.  So I may have to re jigger them a bit.  Seems like there are a lot of side passages.

Anyways, I'm excited to give this a go.  I am unsure if I'll try and find another module to run or just write something myself.  I'm thinking after the first game, the group may get a bit addicted and want to play every week.  So a module might be a better plan.  I also intend to just use the first ed rules, I know there are illegal copies out there of all this stuff including the rules for the 2e version.  But reading the first ed, just seems easy enough to me, without adding extra rules in my head. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Comparing a bulldog.

My cousin has this bulldog named Marty.  He's a sweetheart.  He is also sort of like a dwarf, very dangerous over short distances.  And he is an escape artist. 

Sometimes he will let himself out of the backyard and go for a run.  The thing is he runs as fast as he can for as far as he can, and then they find him sunning himself somewhere on a boulevard in a 2 block radius from their house.

When it comes to writing I'm like Marty.  I have these spurts where I write like a maniac (or a bulldog on a run) and then I end up sunning myself on a boulevard.

And that's entirely fine.  It's no way to be competitive, but its fine.

Holmes Bulldog
AC 8 HD2, MV 20 *note can run fast for like 50 feet then poop out.  ATT:  One large bite 1d6 on a good day.  STR 15 INT 8 CON 12 DEX 8 WIS 4 CHA 15

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Fun Stuff!

A whole bunch of fun stuff has been happening the last few days, I've been sharing it on my "Shane's RPG Musings" collection.  However I figured I'd do a blog about it as well.


First up, we are really friggin close to completing the writing of the "return of the blue baron".  I got excited on my way home yesterday and decided to make a video.   Note: The first part has a funny argument, wherein my Dog wins.

At this point I think we have about 11 rooms to go! I'm hoping I can write a few more rooms this weekend, as it's a long weekend for me.

When you get a chance check out this post about "pace in RPG design" by Scott Charlton (who is one of the writers on the baron's project).

I received an excellent review from tenfootpole, you can read it here.

Dusty Door is currently version 2, however I am going to be adding one more revision, the wonderful +Denis McCarthy drew up a awesome demon image that I'm going to add! (Orenumm).  The fun thing about the demon was I created him using the random demon tables in the 1e DMG.  To my surprise Denis went ahead and drew him.  Super cool!

+Goblins Henchman went and created this super neat version of Dusty Door, that has pop ups for room descriptions and monster stats! You can download it here.  Below are some screen shots.  If you are running this game online or with a laptop at your table it would be very handy! This would also be really fun if you were doing a solo play. 

This isn't really RPG related, but our kitchen renovation is sooooo close to being done.  Tonight we are having an epic party.  Hopefully next week the finishing touches are going to happen.  Last night my wife was working hard at getting food ready, and I sorta helped where I could.  Since I couldn't sleep much last night, I created a playlist for tonight.  It's basically a social playlist, a little bit of everything.  LINK TO THE PLAYLIST.

Note: a social is a Manitoba thing, basically when a couple is going to get married they throw this big party in hopes of raising some money for the wedding.  It's a bash with booze, silent auction, DJ etc. Always fun.  If you live in Manitoba, at some point you will get invited to one. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Re-Jigger Gaming Room

In my basement I have two rooms (well three if you count the laundry room).  Last night we had a conversation about how we can turn it into the gaming room.  Originally I had intended to use the smaller of the two rooms, but now I think we are going to go with the larger of the two! Woot. 

So here's the things I'm working on and considering in the back of my brain:

  • The one time I attempted to play online I had some difficulty with video, due to my laptop being on wifi.  Good news is that I can run a hard wired connection in the basement! So there's that.
  • I have a beer fridge! 
  • I had some chairs, but gave them away, so I'm going to make a run to Ikea one of these days and pick up a bunch.
  • I already have a table.  And my old desk will work perfect for a game's masters table.  So there's that.
  • Gotta find some decent carpet I can put down on the concrete.
  • My old basic box got destroyed, so I'm going to frame it and hang it.
  • I have a pile of forgotten realms maps that are going up on the wall as dressing.  Also a HUGE red dragon poster. 
  • Oh I also have a wine cooler? Although we drink red, so not sure how much use that's going to be.
  • A few extra lamps to provide some light ready to go! 
  • The room is about 15 feet by about 8 or so.  Should be enough to get a bunch of young grognards down there. 
  • Probably should get a batch of wine and beer going. 
  • The walls are currently white, not sure if paint will be required. 
  • Once I get that desk out of my office, its going to become my music room, which I'm badly in need of. 3 guitars and no place to put em. 
  • Some monster killing tunes! Gotta get that figured out. 

All of this is obviously happening because we just completed or are almost completed our large kitchen/bathroom renovation, which for the most part is for my wife.   So Shane needs a mancave! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

On God's

I don't have a copy of the Fiend Folio, but I've seen it.  I was thinking about Gods today, well specifically God stats. 

My first thought was HPs, gather together every d20 that you have at your table (including all your player's 20s as well).  Roll em.  That's the God's hit points. 

Spells, see that book you are using for the game, the God knows all those spells. Plus a few extra Godly spells.

Immunity? Sure let's go with almost everything.  Alright fine, give em one weakness.

Damage? Whether its a hammer, lighting bolt, a dark curse or a large bicep, gather up all your D6s.  Even the ones in all your board games.  Roll the whole set twice (or just multiply by 2).

What can hit em? Spells possibly, and +5 weapons.

What happens if the God actually get's killed? There's a slim chance, but maybe they are sent into the underworld, maybe they recreate themselves in space and rule another planet, maybe they are reincarnated into a far eviler terrible version of themselves? Who knows. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Jerk Player

I'm a jerk player.  I haven't been able to make the last few 5e
sessions, just seems like something is always coming up.  This pass
weekend I spent the whole time in the recording studio with a
wonderful blues band.  Hopefully I'll be able to get to mix it
in the next week or so.

Our group meets pretty much the 3rd Saturday of every month, one of
our members has a long haul trucking job, so it's really the best time
to get together.

When we started I decided to play pretty much the 2nd most basic
character, I'm playing a human female thief named Azalea.  I'm not
using the PHB at all, just the basic rules from wotc.  The reason for
that, was to prove that it can be done.  I also rolled up a basic
fighter for the same reason (also for when Azalea dies! which should
be soon).  I haven't quite been able to really get into that character
yet, because obviously haven't had much of a chance to play her yet.

In other news, I'm reading star wars d6 and slowly getting that
figured out.  The guys are starting to bug me to play soon.  now that
our darn kitchen renovation is almost complete, it should be
relatively soon.

Recently I got a few pathfinder adventures from Raging swan that are
quite good.  I think after we do a bit of star wars, I'm going to run
a whitebox campaign using the modules.  They have a bit of a kotb feel
to them.  The map that came with one of the modules is pretty cool,
just the surrounding area map.  I think I may place "dusty door" in
there somewhere as well.  Speaking of dusty door, Tenfootpole reviewed
it.  Check it out here.

So this was a bit of a boring post, I apologize! It is monday though.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Dead God Excavation - Review

First thing that came to my mind when I read the title was "Who in their right mind would want to dig up a dead God? 

Obviously +Venger Satanis!

Here's the publisher blurb: 

Dead God Excavation is a short adventure for characters between 1st and 3rd level.  I happen to think it's perfect for kicking off a gonzo, eldritch, science-fantasy campaign.  If you incorporate this into your "session zero"... respect, hoss!
This scenario was written for Crimson Dragon Slayer (including some new rules for clerics), but everything can be easily converted to your OSR system of choice.
The layout is sick!  But there's also a printer-friendly version for those who are intimidated by such lurid hues (or who want to print it out).  Just to make you aware, the pagecount includes the cover, two decorative pages, and a page for the credits.  It's a densely coiled micro-adventure... beyond gorgeous demon-haunted sandbox!  YOU CAN GRAB IT HERE. 

First things first, I have to say I really appreciate that everyone of Venger's releases has a printer friendly version.  This is handy, because I still print things off when I run adventures, I haven't wrapped my head around using a tablet or laptop while GMing.  

The adventure starts off with a few rumours to set the stage.  The one I liked was that the adventurer's have heard of ancient treasures and have come to possibly get wealthy and adventure! Simple enough to install the players in the game world.  I should note, that I am probably going to run this module is some form.  My first thoughts are somewhere in the desert of Mystara.  Quite possibly as a 5e one shot.  In the notes at the beginning of the adventure it is suggested to run it as a "session one funnel", while that is a grand idea, I wouldn't be able to pull it off with the 5e group I have.  Mostly for "character development" reasons.  None of which have anything to do with the packaged material.  Onward!

Once upon the scene things start to liven up.  There are a bunch of interesting NPCs with really good motives.  The NPCs alone can get you going on different adventure ideas.

There is a super cool table with a variety of effects when touching the Alien Metal.

This whole adventure has a demonic/alien/god thing going for it.  It's sort of like if you took expedition to the barrier peaks and mashed it up with Call of Cthulu.  Actually that's not a half bad idea!  The one thing this adventure lacks is a detailed map of the inside of the tomb.  Now obviously there's a ton of great resources out there for maps, here's a good spaceship one you can use:

As a side note, Venger if you need a map you can always tag me man, I'd be happy to try it out!

Prior to entering the tomb there's a nifty table called "Strange Occurrences" here's the text prior to the table.  (it gives me the willies) 

Strange Occurneces table: 
This is not simply the inert interior of a giant container full of deceased demonic deity, but an ultra-telluric biosphere somewhere between reality and the place where dead gods dream. For every 15 minutes spent exploring, roll once on the following random table to determine what strangeness occurs....

All in all this is a pretty solid starting point adventure, there is enough text and flavour to get you going, but not too much that it starts to feel like a railroad.  And of course the whole thing is filled with the general weirdness and gonzo that we have all come to expect from Korthalis publishing.  I'm almost wondering if its worth challenging Venger to write something straight up? Nah.. 

If you have a copy of the The S'rulyan Vault II I think this adventure would go hand in hand with it! 

As usual there is some great mind blowing art in the book, and the design is well laid out by +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal) who always does awesome stuff! 

Good stuff!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Kinda done with arguing.

I'm kinda done with the arguing that goes on, on the internet in regards to rpgs (and honestly everything in general).  Whether its edition wars, or people who want to call at an old schooler because they are old school, or vice versa.  Having a healthy debate about something is one thing.  Constructive criticize is also a good thing (sometimes).  What is really grinding my gears is outright hate, and social justice warriors.  Why? Why do these people feel the need to comment? It makes no sense.

It's the internet!  If someone is pissing you off, delete them, block them and move on.  It's sorta like that dog adage "if you can't eat it or fuck it, piss on it and walk away".

I suppose I could chalk it up to "Some people just want to watch the world burn".  Then I think, these people don't want to watch the world burn, what they want to do is argue because they have absolutely nothing else going on in their lives.

I hate to quote all of our mothers, but honestly "if you don't have something nice to say.... Don't say anything!".  ie think before you type.

Things to do other than argue with people on the internet - roll a d20
1.  Go for a walk, leave your phone at home
2.  Grab a bite to eat, leave your phone at home
3.  Call a relative
4.  Watch a sporting event.
5.  Read a book, re-read a favourite book.
6.  Do something creative! draw a map, write something, pick up a instrument
7.  Listen to an album.
8.  Do your socks match? Should they? Go find the match.  Should they not, but they currently match? go find a different sock.
9.  Have you watered any of your plants today?
10.  What time is it? is it time for a beer? cup of Tea? large glass of water?
11.  Have you decided which dice you are going to use next gaming session? figure that out.
12.  Go put sticky notes in your players handbook for important pages.  Better yet, retype it and print it off with your character sheet.
13.  Pile of laundry? do that.
14.  Chop some onions, you might need that at some point this week.
15.  Prep the coffee pot for tomorrow morning.
16.  It's never to early to start Christmas/holiday shopping.
17.  Plans for the weekend? make some!
18.  Work on a grocery list for next week.
19.  Do you live where it's cold? you probably have to shovel some snow.  Warm? is the front sidewalk dusty? leaves need cleaning up? are their weeds in the garden?  Bird watching!
20.  Netflix and Chill?


Sorry about that, I had to rant.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Frostbitten & Mutilated is out

The title makes me giggle, I feel like that's me in January!  I almost feel bad for other indie publishers when lotfp releases something.  It's like opening weekend of a Marvel movie, and a poor rom com also opens that day.  Yeah I know I just compared lotfp to Marvel. 

So here's what you need to know about Frostbitten & Mutilated.

Sometimes the snow will not stop. Under its particled screen like layers of veil that would make of the world a bride to an unknown, vast and unseen groom all civilization is wondering from its hearths and stone corners: What is to be done about the women? They spit and rage, they drown the taxmen, they hack the bellies of snakes and eat what they find, they abort babies and squeeze their milk into the bellies of troll-cats, they dwell apart among the wide white peaks, raiding, scheming, speaking to animals, willful and without trade or diplomatic discourse—the witch-women and amazons. They dominate and divide the Devoured Land. Who can see this ending well?
From the multi-award winning artist/writer behind Vornheim: The Complete City Kit, Red & Pleasant Land, and Maze of the Blue Medusa, this book details the bleak white wild created on the spot where the first goddess took the first bite out of the Earth, which maintains the balances and arrangements that held sway in the first days. It contains wolfpacks, cannibal giants, trolls, demons of the apocalypse as well as a wilderness kit with enough tables, generators and tools to keep your players busy until hell freezes over.

Frostbitten & Mutilated is a setting book for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing and other traditional role-playing games.

Here's where you can get it.  What is quite convenient is that you get the pdf and the book, since the book is travelling overseas this is quite handy! 

I'm wondering what mashups are going to happen with "Vaginas are magic" considering the book is about amazons! Can't wait to read the play notes. 

You can view the preview here

Zak is currently running a contest called #TerribleTakeContest

Basically you need to make fun of the new book, and whoever wins gets a piece of art created by Zak.  This is super cool!

At some point I'd like to interview Zak, I really should work on a few questions.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I took a u turn last night

Normal rules don't always apply when writing about alternate planes of existence.  Things like gravity, life (or lack thereof), resources.  Unfortunately I can't always chalk something up to "well it's fantasy, so get over it".  Rooting concepts in real world mechanics continues to crop up in my brain when I'm writing.  Example "The world is covered in fire, and the land is scarred".  Alright that literally sounds like hell.  But how will the PCs manage to find water? I mean if the world is literally covered in fire, there can't be any water right? They of course need it to survive? Well simple, give them some kind of magical item that provides that.  That is a bit of a cop out though.  These are the types of things that derail me.

The thing I was working on, it took a U turn.  And I already did a rewrite.  What I've noticed is the following statements are so very true.

Write drunk, edit sober.

Write what you know. 

Write drunk, edit sober.  Obviously you don't have to be fall down drunk when writing.  What you need to do is switch your analytical side of your brain off for awhile, give it a rest.  Just be creative.  Edit later, and figure out how these things are going to work.  I'm taking my own advice on that.  Last night I stayed up late writing, and writing.  When I finally did go to bed, that's when the editing started happening.  I didn't sleep well. 

Write what you know.  This is fucking obvious isn't it.  Let's say your a huge fan of comic books and superheros.  You don't have a real clue about Ancient Japan, other than a cursory knowledge.  Trying to write a epic RPG based around Ancient Japan isn't going to be easy.  Unless of course you do research.  If you want to write the Ancient Japan thing, get a few ideas peculating and then do research! 


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dark Fantasy Basic - A Review

+Eric Diaz sent me a copy of his ruleset "Dark Basic Fantasy".  You can check out his blog here: pretty cool stuff!

Publisher blurb:
Dark Fantasy Basic is an old school roleplaying game (or adventure game) that pays homage to a beloved 80's game - which is stilll, for many fans, one of the most concise, clear and well-written RPGs ever published.

This book uses the same system as the world’s most popular RPGs – six abilities, classes, levels, etc. – and it is meant to be compatible with games from that era. Or any OSR game, really. It also has some modern influences, including all of the OSR and the most recent version of this game.

This is a complete game (from the player's side), with five classes (fighter, cleric, thief, magic-user and hopeless), skills, feats, weapons, etc. There are no races - all PCs are human or similar - but there are notes on how to create races for your games. There are 20 different spells but each one is flexible, meaning you can choose the spell level and some of the effects as you cast them.

The book ends with conversion notes for other OSR games. No matter what your favorite system is, we hope you find something useful for your games here!

My thoughts: 
Dark Fantasy Basic is a solid OSR ruleset.  From what I gather it grew out of playing OSR games, and is a compilation of house rules that worked well for Eric.  There are bits and pieces from new games & mechanics, shout outs to lotfp & DCC, some swinginess of b/x, all very cool and thought out.  There is a lot of flexibility in these rules.  

I should note that this is the player rules.  I'm guessing eventually there will be a monster book/GM guide and HOPEFULLY a few adventures to go with the rules.  Obviously though, because it's an OSR game, you can pretty much use any adventure/setting/monster without a lot of conversion. 

The first thing I thoroughly enjoyed was that the game is built around the premise of starting characters being at 3rd level (something I tend to do, well I start at 2nd), for the simple sake that lowly first level peons die.  A lot.  This is a smart idea, and something that can probably be easily modified if you wanted to start at 1st level.  

The usual 6 attributes make an appearance in the game, and like b/x it has the swinging abilities bonus where 18 is a +5, etc.  Which I dig.  There is a cool skill system with DC checks, everything based on the 6 main attributes.  The game isn't minimalist, just straight forward.  You can run it how you want.  

Included are character backgrounds, which I always like.  It places you in the world, gives you something to base your roleplay/character on.  

Yes there are feats, but they are similar to the fifth ed feats, so they don't really break the game.  For me its a "nah", but for another GM I'm sure they'd be cool with it.  The feats don't break the game and they are not overly complex mechanically.  One neat thing, if you are a character class other than a typical magic user/cleric you can still cast spells! But you must use a feat to do so.  Interesting. 

The spells system is pretty cool, casting spells requires a spell casting check.  All spell effects are based on spell level, not caster level.  For example, some spells cause “1d6 damage/level”. This
means a fifth level spell would cause 5d6 damage.  My guess is that you can technically case a fireball as a higher level spell if you want, provided you can make the spell check.  This has a sort of dcc/lotfp/5e kinda vibe to it.  Another thing I dig about the magic system, is that all the spells are useful, there's not a metric butt ton of them which is good (myself personally I kinda like a trimmed down list).  There are a few changes from the normal spells you find in most games.  Example "black tentacles (basic terrain hazard), purge (basically fix rotten/poisoned food), Resit elements (gain resistance to the effects of fire etc).  

I must say reading this, I really enjoy the humour, whether it's dark, or just a good giggle.  There's no point always being the glum author, where everything is dark.  Writing like that makes me want to move onto something else.  

Note on money, silver is the standard. 

The stock art that is used in this game is fantastic! and it totally sets the tone for it.  Great job finding all this stuff and cleaning it up.  

One thing that I really dig about this rule system is that it's 43 pages, and far more expansive than similar games where you only get the first couple of levels.  It's easy as heck to create monsters and adventures for this.  You could run fifth ed modules without much issue, as well as all OSR type modules.  

Will I play it? Honestly I'm not sure.  I started working on my own hack, and I've got a variety of rule systems that I'd like to try as well.  I think this game will fit right in with anyone who has had a taste of fifth ed and osr games, and wants something a bit more straight forward and less bloated than fifth.  I'd play this any day over playing fifth.  It crosses the bridge from old school to fifth (and other newer games).  The game includes adv/disadvantage and other familiar concepts.  There are enough spells to keep any magic user type happy!  The skill system is smart and doesn't really get in the way (same goes for the magic system).  If you are looking for an OSR type game, with some newer mechanics this is a great pick. 

I should also note that Eric has seven comics called "the displaced" up on OBS, they all look pretty cool.  Here are the links.

Issue #1
Issue #2
Issue #3
Issue #5
Issue #6
Issue #7

Thursday, March 8, 2018

There is no reason not to be prepared. Actually! You don't even need to prepare!

After catching Black Panther last night with some of our old school group we went out and had a ice bucket of Corono's.  We started talking about "getting together" again and playing some D&D.  Specifically Star Wars d6 (which we had previously discussed last time).  My first thought was "oh shit! I'm going to need some time, I haven't got anything prepared and don't really have a grasp on the rules yet".

First off, the rules are fairly simple.  And I really only need about an hour to get everything figured out and then I'd be good to go.

That being said, I kinda want to make the first star wars game fucking epic. 

The list of things I want to do are as follows:

  1. Prep sound effects from SW, including the opening theme for the beginning of the adventure! 
  2. Go and grab either some actual minis, or SW action figures. 
  3. Take all the pre gens from the first book, print them out and put them in envelopes.  Everyone picks an envelope. (while I love the idea of having the players create characters, I think I'd wind up with 6 jedi). 

The thing that crossed my mind this afternoon was "There is no reason not to be prepared.  Actually! You don't even need to prepare!"

I don't need to read and learn the rules.  I don't need to run the first adventure in the d6 book.  I can probably make up an adventure on the spot.  I could use Whitestar or Mini6 no problem! I don't need to do any world building, cuz star wars!

I have to stop being hesitant about things.  An opportunity comes up to play, play! I mean if it was a fantasy game, I could grab something and run an adventure in about 5 mins of prep. So why not a star wars sci fi game?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Beneath The Fallen Tower (SWCL) Review

Premise: Fifty years ago, a magician known as Melchior the Despoiler, rumored to be consorting with dark forces near the town of Southfork was investigated by a troop of militia and a priest... all of who returned from his tower as undead attempting to slay their own families. They were defeated, and after a petition for aid, the Duke lent the village his trebuchet and his men leveled the mage's tower. Shortly before this assault was mounted, Melchior’s apprentice Xander escaped with a few books, a wand and a magical blade.

Now that Xander has died. His apprentice, Aurelia, together with her henchmen, have returned to find the master's library. Unknown to them, goblins have been living in the ruins for 30 years...

Beneath the fallen tower is written for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light, but is easily converted to any OSR type system.  The adventure is written fairly open ended, as a GM you could place it in your own home brew world without too much extra work.  The town where everything starts is called Southfork, and that could be just off the map, an explored section.  As well the adventure has a medieval feel, so keep that in mind when planning.  The premise of this adventure is pretty solid, you can easily create a bunch of rumours in the town of Southfork circulating about the wizard, and the line of apprentices.  The hero's are tasked with finding the son of a merchant.  The hope of course is that they stumble upon a bunch more bad guys, the tower, etc.  This adventure could easily be a few session thing.  Especially if the GM took some time to add in a few more things to do (according to the map).  Depending on which way the heroes end up going.  

The background for the adventure (the towns & world) is well thought out.  I would however have placed the section regarding the wizards tower earlier in the text, as it states "this is where the adventure takes place".  But all good.  The tavern is interesting, where the adventure starts.  There is a list of rumours and a table for how many true or false rumours you may receive.  This of course is a fairly typical but smart way of starting an adventure.  One thing I noticed is that the tavern is "fairly rat free" as far as the basement goes.  There's adventure right there! The actual town could have a bit more description as far as other stores.  Where do we buy weapons and armour? who can we sell our loot to? Once again easily figured out by a GM. 

Onward.  The hand drawn map detailing the surrounding area is cool, my only issue is that the text is a bit hard to read, although that is easily over come.  I would try and blow it up and bit, and throw a hex layer underneath for the sake of argument.  

I should note that this entire module is filled with great art, all of which are drawn by Denis Mcarthy (also the writer).  It's nice to see a product that is completely DIY, the writing, drawing, etc.  This is something I'd love to take a stab at, but my drawing is not really on point. 

Once the players find the son (and or lack thereof, I'm not ruining anything here) they will also notice that the ruins of the tower are fairly close to the sons position.  

The map of the ruins is pretty cool, hand drawn.  The actual dungeon is fairly straight forward, lots of monsters and some treasure.  A smart party will enter and re-enter the dungeon as many times as it takes to kill off monsters, and find any treasure.  And a smart GM will reload some of the monsters upon their return!  The dungeon has a few traps, and could be deadly for a party of 1st level adventurers.  As in most cases, if I was to run this I'd tweak the amount of monsters depending on the party.  Not that big of a deal. 

Overall this is a pretty cool adventure, straight forward.  As far as constructive criticism is concerned a layout job would make this adventure have a bit more eye candy.  (Which by the way I'd be totally up for!).  I read another review of this, in which the reviewer tore the whole thing apart, not linking to it though.  The text and descriptions of the dungeon could be expanded a bit, a few more sentences of description.  As well creating a gap between the player information and the GM information.  Obviously though an GM worth his or her salt can get this adventure going without an problem. 

This adventure is worth checking out, especially if you are looking for something to run for SWCL.  It could easily become a sandbox with a few other little adventures going on here and there.  As an example my Lizardmen of Illzathatch could be placed within the overland map no problem.  

And you can check out Denis's blog here:

Denis has playtested this adventure, and you can read about it here:  (which btw is friggin smart! We should all playtest our adventures!) 

I'd like to thank +Denis McCarthy for sending me a copy of this adventure!  If I ever get a old school group going again, this is something that I could incorporate.  And that's the thing about the OSR, you can grab little bits and pieces and just have a wonderful time. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

d10 treasure from upcoming module

I've been slowly working on an adventure setting. This is the first 10 treasures from a d100 table that will be added to the book.

  1. Golden Fleece: the fleece has the ability to resurrect one person from the dead.  
  2. A Ceremonial Bronze Bowl: engraved with furies fighting sea creatures.
  3. A Horn Of Plenty:  This horn will feed 4 -6 individuals once per day.  It has 7 charges.
  4. A Golden Statue Of Hades
  5. A Skull With Two Silver Pieces stitched into the eye sockets.
  6. A Silver Spider Figurine: When the abdomen is pressed, strong silken rope (100’) springs from the figurine.  
  7. Brass Torch:  This torch will burn as long as you need it to.  A simple switch on the side shuts it off.
  8. Rusted Shield: his shield has a depiction of a multi headed serpent engraved on it.  It acts as a continual “protection from evil” spell.
  9. A pair of worn sandals: when worn the sandals allow a person to move silently.
  10. Silver mirror: this mirror has an intricate handle with carved vines intwined together.

Friday, March 2, 2018

You know what? I'm perfectly happy being a Grognard

Honestly I am.  I've been involved in a few discussions latetly that have led to the "Old school vs New school" thing.  As much as I understand both sides of an argument, and I am empathetic to were someone is coming from (and vice versa hopefully), I still have the view point of Old School being better.  I get it, it's not a contest obviously.

Here's a case in point:
At some point I'll probably have to run a game for the new 5e group.  I started writing out a adventure plot outline thingamabob. Thoughts running thru my head as follows:  Alright check the CRs, make sure they have time to rest safely, hopefully there is a bit of roleplay in here, but not too much because some people don't like it.  Obviously the CR thing is highly annoying coming from an old school guy stand point.  I have to make sure that the encounter is tough, and level wise it matches but they don't die? Why can't they die? Well first things first, it takes for fucking ever to create a character.

I had a discussion with a friend of mine about "balance", and he basically said "Your not going to chance my mind, I like balance".  Balance is a DM illusion.  In this new school game I can fudge the whole damn thing behind the screen.  However next time I DM I won't be doing that at all.  Roll in front of the screen and watch with glee when the terror strikes.

The simple gist is that I understand how to be a new school player/DM, but when I run a game it's going to feel like an old school game.  Because that's what I am.  Balance is getting thrown out the window.

"There is an old dragon who lives in a cave not far from here" says the Innkeeper.  "I've also heard that a bunch of kobolds have been robbing people a few miles from town".  

There's your two choices.  Now keep in mind that dragon is not a small youngling (like in lost mines of phandelver), nah he's a big ugly bugger who has the whole legendary stats, the ability to do things within your turn etc.

So if the players want to take the bait at first level, they can go right ahead.  There is a very good chance they will end up as a crispy treat.

I've recently been watching Venger's youtube channel and he's been talking a lot about the old school aesthetic and how to bring it to new games.  Here's the thing, it all comes down to how you want to play it, and every DM is different.  It seems that the games I've been involved in are very by the book.  Which I'm okay with, but if it's my game I intend to run it differently.

There was a good article about session 0, and I will probably do that at some point.  Once I get everything figured out first (house rules wise).

I also think that I'm going to stop getting into long drawn out conversations about this.  Because it's very hard and time consuming to sway someones opinion and honest there's no point.  Play the game the way you want to. 

The whole balance conversation started when I sent this video to my friend. The guy brings up some wonderful points, and he sells playing old school very well.

Anyways, long story short I'm a grognard and I'm totally fine with it.  And I think that how you learned to play the game will always affect how you actually run the game.  So you know what?  "It's a big world and some of the monsters are going to be above your pay grade".

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The toadstools is a bit quiet

The three toadstools is currently under renovations! (Well not the actual Inn, but my place of residence).  I'm currently in deep writing mode right now.  I had a wonderful time this afternoon surfing drivethrurpg for stock art, and I found a few gems! Here is a sample of one that I was looking at.

In the meantime, work continues on the "return of the blue baron".  It's getting there, I think we have about 20 or so rooms left to go.  If you are up to writing a room, jump on into the community and grab one!

I finished up version 2.0 of "dusty door" and its now available for download on OBS.  If you feel so obliged go on over and grab a copy! And if you like it, add a review or a few stars.

I am supposed to play some 5e this weekend, I however have a recording session so I won't be able to make it.  As far as old school games are concerned there's nothing really going on.  I am hoping to get up and running and maybe play a few one shots online as soon as our house is done. 

7 months of renovations is 5 months to long, we can however see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And in music news, the Ash Hats got together this past weekend and recorded a punk rock cover of Paul Abdul's "Straight Up" and Social Distortions "I was wrong".  Whenever those go up on soundcloud I'll let you know.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Not your David Bowie

In the back of my brain I've been slowly prepping a mega dungeon.  I finally decided on a system, after talking with my wife.  I said to her "do you want to play fifth edition or old school".  Her response "I like old school less adding!". Done.

So I think I'm going to use Swords & Wizardry Whitebox with the crit tables from the free rpg day DCC.  This gives me a basis to start work.  Alright mechanics aside.

I've long been a fan of the movie Labyrinth.  It's a master piece as far as I'm concerned.  I think playing DnD in a maze would be super fun.  The essential plan is to have a rotating table of characters, so basically whoever can make it gets to play, and the story moves forward. 

Enter The Goblin King.  And this isn't your 80's Goblin King.  He's a cross breed of The Goblin King from the movie & Freddy Krueger.

The premise:

All of the PC's walk up from a terrible dream.  They are all older, they have wives/husbands and they have children.  The dream is very vivid.  In the dream all of their children are taken by the goblin king, because of reasons (I'm working on it).  When they wake up, they are not their younger selves, they are trapped in a dream world, older & wiser (and let's say fifth level).  Sitting on their night stand is a letter and a large hourglass.  The letter details the location to the Labyrinth. Which coincidentally is right thru the door from their bedroom. 

I've obviously have to work on the premise a little bit.  Instead of one of the significant others wishing their kid away to the goblin king, maybe he knows that these children will complete a prophecy allowing him to return to the real world? 

My hope is to have this whole place filled with interesting tricks, traps and treasures and of course a few monsters for good measure.  The goblin king will have the ability to fuck with the players in their dreams.  Making them believe that things are really happening when they are not, and vice versa.  He is obviously the big bad at the end.

Obviously this also a wonderful premise for lotfp, so I may change the system we will see.

I'll leave you with this wonderful song. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Growing the hobby, and finishing a thought.

A very strange, and somewhat heated discussion last night lead me to write this.  The discussion started off innocently enough, a GM/Author was talking about the difference him and his players found between playing 2nd edition DnD and Pathfinder.

The discussion then got slightly de railed into a conversation about how people should only be playing NEW games, only new games.  That we should all throw our old games aside, and not teach them to people and just play new games. Basically we should be obligated to do so.  Specifically fifth edition.  (I didn't get a chance to point out that lotfp has been crazy popular kicking ass at awards show the last few years, and that the OSR in general has been kicking ass and taking names for awhile already.... but I digress).   

I'm not quoting anyone in this blog other than my own comments.  Long story short, my opinion is that, it really doesn't matter what game you play, it's a really good thing to introduce new people to the hobby.  End of story.

Here's my story of how I introduced people to the hobby.

A few years back my wife wanted to play out of the blue. Since I hadn't played in years, I was excited. I grabbed the only dnd I had. Second edition. Later I introduced her cousin to dnd, around the same time I discovered the osr and fell in love with blueholme. I realized quickly that this was basically the game I had been playing all along. Basically second edition with some rules filtered out or ignored.

The cousin went on to play in campaigns in osr, fifth and 3.5. He has since introduced and re introduced 3 people to RPGs.

I introduced all his friends (cousin) to basic fantasy, and then mutant future. After the first one shot game, they all showed up with their own dice. They have even played without me! Out of the eight people in that group three have DM'd there own games. I taught another guy how to play fifth, who wound up running a campaign for a pile of us (and still does). He's went on to teach some people.

All this because I played a game of second edition five years ago when my wife wanted to kill a few kobolds. All this is the small rock in the pond.

And if it hadn't been for that moment, I would never have gone down the worm hole of finding gplus and the OSR, and I would never have written a damn thing that got published, It would have been sitting in a notebook somewhere.

I should also note and this is totally off topic, but If I hadn't found the OSR, my dnd would still be 2nd edition (because I'm a cheap bastard and those are the books I have).

In the grand scheme of things, it does not matter one iota what rpg game you teach someone. If you are getting more people into the hobby that's a wonderful thing. If you are perfectly happy to play your game with a group of friends, that's also wonderful. Really it is whatever works for you. But if someone tells you that you are doing it wrong, you can tell that person to go suck on a lemon.

Friday, February 23, 2018

New stuff from BFRPG

I might be a bit late to the party here, but there are 2 new releases on the downloads page.  As always the good folks at BFRPG have open playtest documents for new releases, prior to releasing them as books.  Both of these are the case currently. 

The Basic Fantasy Field Guide Volume 2! Even more monsters for basic fantasy.  There's some pretty cool ones in here, check it out.  The pdf clocks in at 93 pages! 

The Adventure Anthology Number 2 is also available.  It contains 15 mini adventures, and is over 100 pages.  Just looking thru the pdf, there were a pile of them that caught my eye.  I love a lot of the maps in this!  There's quite a few hand drawn ones, and hex maps (also hand drawn).  Cool stuff. 

Another time when I'm thinking it would be a lot of fun to take a hexmap and start placing these adventures within it.  It would make being a GM super easy. 

As usual if you catch any typos, etc you can comment on the BFRPG forums or directly on the downloads page. 

As you may know Strongholds Of Sorcery is now available on createspace.  I also believe there was an issue with Morgansfort that has now been resolved, you can get that at lulu as well.  Morgansfort is one of my favourite modules.  It however needs some reviews! So if you have already purchased it, jump on over to lulu and give it some stars!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Room 40

40.  Deadly doppelgangers:   The door to this room is locked.
Inside is a masterpiece of engineering.  Large bronze tubes in a variety of sizes snake
the walls of the room.  Small clouds of steam erupt from the cylinders on occasion, and
there is a low whir emanating from below the chamber.  All of the tubes lead to a very
intricately designed metal chamber.  The chamber will fit one person (human or otherwise)
at a time.  Near the chamber is a large red button made from wood.

If for whatever reasons someone is standing in the chamber inside the chamber when the
button is pushed, a doppelganger of that character will be created in 1d6+2 rounds.
The doppelganger will then seek out the unknowing character and attempt to murder him/her
and take their place.  

BTW totally stole this idea from Family Guy.