Friday, September 11, 2020

One Day Left For Latest ACKS Crowdfund


Being the sort of person who usually prefers fighters and thieves to spellcasters in D&D-type games, I had initially not paid much attention to the latest Adventurer, Conqueror, King System* supplement to be crowdfunded by Autarch. I'm glad I finally did, though, because the magic of the Almanac of Unusual Magic is very unusual indeed.

The 56-page book covers four new ACKS classes, three of which - gnomish alchemists, dwarven geomancers, and warlords - slot in well to a fantasy milieu. The fourth, however, is the Terran Engineer - apparently riffing on a character option in Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu* for lost spacemen who, if the illustrations are any guide, basically hail from Starfleet. The Engineer class, then, reflavors magic to be the "jury-rigging" ability of an engineer like Scotty to create fantastic devices, albeit not necessarily temporary ones. Of course, being an ACKS product, this new class (as well as the others) is broken down into its component parts for further customization, in a very Engineer-like manner now that I think of it.

Still needing about $450 to fund at the time of this writing, the GameOnTabletop campaign for the Almanac also offers an opportunity to add on ACKS rulebooks at a discounted price. I've backed an Autarch project on this platform before, and for not being Kickstarter or IndieGoGo it worked very smoothly. I highly recommend giving the pitch a look if it tweaks your interest at all.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Sol Survivors

The terms "OSR" and "Hard Sci-FI" may not seem especially congruent at first glance, but they combine like peanut butter and chocolate in Termination Shock, a nascent setting from Niklas Wistedt, aka Paths Peculiar.

Set in the early 22nd century, Termination Shock is the story of the recovery of Earth's space infrastructure after a passing particle wave put all the ships and stations on the fritz. It's a constrained setting in some ways - mankind has yet to leave the solar system - and yet there's enough planets, moons, asteroids, and stranded ships to keep a group of space adventurers busy, and that's before they inevitably land on Orcus.

Although he hasn't yet written a lot for the setting - just the initial pitch and a description of a typical outpost - was is there is very evocative. It helps when the premise can be illustrated with such cool maps as this one, and there are several like it on the original post. Not to mention the occasional spaceship:

It'll definitely be worth keeping an eye on the Paths Peculiar blog to see how this setting develops. I'm especially keen to see what's on Orcus . . .

Monday, April 13, 2020

The AD&D That Wasn't Quite

Last week, Eric Fabiaschi of Swords & Stitchery pointed me at some fantastic cover mock-ups by author James Panarella, in the style of AD&D's Oriental Adventures*:

Most, like Oriental Adventures, focus on a particular ancient-to-medieval culture such as the Norse, the Aztecs, the Celts, or the Egyptians, although a few go further afield, including a couple posted a few days later that take their inspiration from the Wilderness Survival Guide*:


Thus inspired, Eric wrote up a few alt-history posts speculating about the series of events that might have led to TSR actually writing and publishing some of these. I, on the other hand, look at some of these and wonder why the themes they represent haven't been picked up by the OSR crowd. Some have, I know - there's a couple of powerhouse sci-fi rulesets, a smattering of pirate-themed content - but most of the most well-known OSR stuff seems to me to be some combination of Howardian sword-and-sorcery, Tolkienesque high fantasy, or Vancian dying-earth gonzo. Which is too bad - some of these covers are far too good to not have a book inside them.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Questing for OSR News

Ever since G+ went offline, the Old School RPG scene has been somewhat fragmentary, with different subgroups congregating at different places on the web. Ben Milton, author of Maze Rats* and Knave* as well as the Questing Beast YouTube channel, has announced his intention to try to alleviate this with a free newsletter:

To be named The Glatisant (top marks for consistent branding)the first issue has yet to be released, but can be signed up for here.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Adventure Lookup - Intriguing DM Tool

I'm a big sucker for lists and databases, and my recent discovery of Adventure Lookup is squarely in that wheelhouse. It is, in essence, a big list of adventures for the various versions of Dungeons & Dragons - from the Basic set to 5th Edition, with options for Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and various OSR rulesets. But not only is it possible to filter the list by system, but by player level, setting, publisher - even by what treasure is included or what kinds of monsters there are to fight.

Once an adventure is located, most entries will have some kind of indication of where it can currently be obtained - often a direct link to DriveThru or some other host (However, many that were originally from Dungeon magazine just have the issue number, and only a couple include a link to the Internet Archive Dungeon collection). After that, well, it's all up the the DM . . .

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A New Game for the New Year

A link on the Twitter #OSR hashtag recently led me to the Spanish-language RPG publisher grapas&mapas, and more particularly to their thus-far only English-translated work, Vieja Escuela Pulp! Translating roughly to "Old School Pulp", it is indeed a lightweight (48 pages, including the adventure) OSR take on early 20th-century adventure fiction, which is what is usually meant by "pulp". Now that the '20s are here again, it's the perfect time to check out some of the examples of this genre.

Like most other games that fall under the OSR banner, Vieja Escuela Pulp! uses the basic six-attribute, class-and-level, d20+ modifier system we're all familiar with, with some tweaks to fit the author's taste and to emulate the genre. Some of the changes that I especially noticed include:

  • A six-item skill list that largely replaces attribute bonuses as modifiers for rolls.
  • A simple mental health/sanity mechanic based on the Wisdom stat.
  • A Pulp! points mechanic to activate class talents as well as mystical and super-science devices alike.
  • A streamlined advancement system that automatically incorporates a degree of multi-classing.
All in all, my impression is that the rules take more than a few cues from more modern designs, but they are so well streamlined that they would be easy to integrate into other games, even ones from more traditional OSR genres.

The adventure, "The Swamp of the Snake God", is a nice, if a little sparse, search for a crashed WWII bomber that turns into a lost-civilization adventure. The final dungeon, in particular, could be easily borrowed from the South Pacific and re-used anywhere a small pyramid might be found.

And the best part of all? Vieja Escuela Pulp! can be found for free at the publisher's website, linked above. Happy New Year, everyone!