Sunday, March 29, 2015

It's Dangerous to Go Alone

Art by Tyler Edlin

Poking around the other day on the Giant in the Playground forum, I happened across a neat fan supplement for using the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons to run games set in Hyrule, the setting for Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series of video games. Presented in two books, the author - GitP poster "ninjadeadbeard" - has translated many of the races and items from those games into 5E terms (which are, to my eye, easily translated into the OSR game of your choice), as well as concocting a more group-centered version of Hyrule for your band of adventurers to explore.

This is presented as a post-Triforce era with a number of factions vying and intriguing for control of Hyrule - some inspiration from Game of Thrones is obvious, and probably inevitable. Still, the setting is reinforced with plenty of plot hooks, which are worth a look no matter what system you're using, and it's always interesting to see how somebody else interprets a setting like this. Particularly useful, I thought, were the Triforce-themed alignment system and the thoughts on using D&D classes in the world of Hyrule.

Monday, February 9, 2015

This New Conan Game Looks Promising


Earlier this morning, news broke from Modiphius that later this summer they will be releasing an officially licensed Conan RPG. Details are sparse, though it is described as using a "2D20" system, which I am not particularly familiar with (apparently it's the system Modiphius uses for another of  their games, Mutant Chronicles). However, it sounds like the writers are making an effort to hew as closely as possible to the original Robert E. Howard stories, which is good. The Hyborian setting has always struck me as an excellent one for roleplaying in - one almost suspects that Howard himself would have been an enthusiastic player, had such games existed during his life - and while there are any number of good games for playing in the genre, it's been a while since there's been an official Conan product. I'll certainly be keeping an eye on this game's further developments.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

'Zines Without Number

Well, perhaps not literally, but there are certainly a large number of fan-produced gaming publications that have started in recent years, many of which focus on one OSR game or another. I suppose this is no surprise, as it is my understanding that in the early days of RPGs that the Old School movement looks back to, this kind of thing was also common. Nowadays, of course, with desktop publishing and the Internet for distribution, it's easier than ever to do.

The other day, thanks to a tip from Tenkar, I picked up the latest entry into the field. The Sandbox #1 is a product from Kevin Crawford of Sine Nomine Publishing, which has produced such gems as the Stars Without Number sci-fi OSR game, the Spears of the Dawn and Red Tide fantasy settings (the latter incorporating the Scarlet Heroes solo-hero rules), and - most recently - the Silent Legions Lovecraftian game based on the same ruleset. The Sandbox, Kevin says, is a vehicle for passing along a "passing idea or small notion" that could work with any or all of these.

 In this inaugural issue, we find four items:

  • "The Last Prince", a custom class for Scarlet Heroes based on being the last survivor of a vanished people. Really, this is more of a background than a class, as it is "treated as a Fighter for all general purposes". It would be, I think, an interesting exercise to port over the more flavorful items onto other classes to create, for example, a Last Wizard or Last Assassin. The d8 Doom table looks useful for general backgrounds, as well.

  • "Kickstarter Production Guidelines", taking up more than half the issue's pagecount, offers an inside look at the process that has made Sine Nomine one of the most reliable crowdfunding brands in the RPG market.

  • "A Quick Backwater Spaceport" is a set of random tables designed for use with Stars Without Number or similar games (I get a very Firefly vibe from it) that, with just the teensiest bit of modification, could also be used for settings focused on regular ships - a pirate-era game, say, or a Pulp game based out of a tramp steamer.

  • What's That Abandoned Strucure?" is a similar set of tables for, well, abandoned buildings.
All in all, it's worth taking a look at (especially as it is being offered for free), and in spite of the announced production schedule of "irregularly" I await the second issue with great interest.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Yo-ho, Yo-ho . . .

Ah, pirates. In a way, the sword-and-cannon genre is even more appropriate for Dungeons & Dragons-type games than your more traditional fantasies, what with the ready-made adventuring parties/ship crews and the chests of treasure buried under X-shaped palm trees which may or may not be cursed. Long John Silver has, after all, been part of the popular consciousness much longer than Gandalf, and even Conan, you might recall, was a pirate a time or two.

It's no wonder, then that one of the recently-announced 2014 Ennie Award winners is Frog God Games' Razor CoastHeart of the Razor, an adventure series for their swashbuckling-fantasy mash-up setting.

It's a setting I've been intrigued with for quite some time, and there's no better time dive in, as FGG is giving away the Razor Coast Freebooter's Guide in PDF in celebration of the win (A tip of the tricorn to Peter at Dungeon Fantastic for passing the news along). It;s available for either the Pathfinder or Swords & Wizardry rule-sets - I'm looking at it in the later, but at first glance the setting is cool enough that I'd be interested even if it was only the former.

Friday, July 25, 2014

(Almost) d12 Reasons to Buy Dungeon Dozen: The Book

1) It's now Pay What You Want at Drive-Thru.

2) . . . Because it's good? I mean, Jason Sholtis' blog, The Dungeon Dozen, is page after page of inspirationally quirky and system-neutral* charts, whether for treasure, encounters, or world-building. The announcement says that the book will only by PWYW for a limited time, however - I wouldn't expect it to last much past Christmas in July. So, if you're a fan of Jason's work, this weekend looks like the time to take the plunge. And if not, let me whet your appetite with some of the subjects this book covers:

3) "Apocalyptic Visions in the Crystal Ball"

4) "Those Blood-Curdling Screams off in the Distance are Actually . . ."

5) "Dungeon Conspiracy Theories"

6) "Semi-Unknown Were-Things"

7) . . . OK, that's probably enough. Although many if not all of these tables are also found on the blog, the book adds some terrific art and the convenience of having them in one place. Plus, they're just fun to read, even if you don't need really need to roll for "Items of Moderate Interest in the Ogre-King’s Hoard."


*Albeit obviously designed with old-school D&D games in mind.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Retro-clone Read-through: Character Creation Part IIa

And, it's time for another exciting episode of the Great 2014 Retro-Clone Read-Through, where we calculate HP, note alignment and saving throws, and go on equipment-buying sprees! Actually, in terms of equipment my plan is to outfit each character with approximately the same items, arms and armor of course excepted. These will be:

. . . What? It's traditional.

Anyway, once completed the full character sheets can be seen on my new index page for the Readthrough, which also has links to all the posts in the series, and maybe a hint or two at what's ahead . . .

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Dungeons And Dragons - 1930 Edition

From Doug Anderson at Blue Boxer Rebellion comes images from the long-lost true First Edition of Dungeons And Dragons:


OK, that last bit is a fib, it's not actually a period product. It looks like it could be, though - the pulp-magazine aesthetic is right on. And as if that badass-looking T. Rex-inspired dragon wasn't enough, Doug imagines how the line would continue to develop, with some familiar-looking names attached - for example, we see an alternate versions of two classic adventures with the attached bylines of A. Merritt and Robert E. Howard:


You just know that second one was playtested with Conan as a PC. And finally, of course, it's not truly D&D until you have a Monster Manual:


One can only wonder what the rules looked like . . .