Friday, October 16, 2015

Retro-clone Read-through: Character Creation Part IIb

Hey, it's been a bit since we had one of these - continued from Part IIa. Overall, I think the tweaks that each rule-set gives to the characters it generates - some have more choices for equipment, some have more combat options - reflects my impression of the overall game thus far. Only time will tell if this continues to be the case, however . . .

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Good News, Bad News

Bad news first: the Savage Mushroom Kingdom netbook I mentioned a couple years ago has gone dark. The good news is the reason for this, namely that the author - Jeremy Puckett of Blackwing Productions - has secured the necessary permissions to make his Land of Terra an official Savage Setting. There is, I understand, a Kickstarter planned for later this year, but in the meanwhile the rough draft of the Heroes of Terra Player's Guide - very similar to the old netbook - is now on DriveThru. It's even the Deal of the Day for the next few hours, but I'd say it's worth buying even at full price (a mere $5).

Also available are two short adventures, The Plumber's Dilemma and Down the Tubes, both priced as PWYW. They're well worth a look to see how the occasionally goofy Mushroom Kingdom setting elements - the second one alludes to Karting! - get translated. With all the elements thus presented, the full setting book is shaping up to be quite good indeed.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Detroit Delving

So, a group of explorers are plying their trade in an old building in a ruined city, and find a treasure big enough to retire on. The general plan of many a Dungeon Fantasy game, but not something that could ever happen in real life.

. . . right?

The ultimate swap shop! Urban explorers find $1MILLION-worth of collectable sports cards inside an abandoned factory in Detroit

No word on whether they had to fight a dragon or horde of zombies for them, but this is otherwise remarkably reminiscent of a successful dungeon crawl. The article even mentions one Urban Explorer who supports himself with repeated visits to the site, which is obviously kept somewhat secret (or was, until recently).

It sort of makes me wonder about the viability of an urban-exploration role-playing campaign. All the basic tools already exist, I think - dungeon maps, post-apocalyptic "found stuff" tables, that sort of thing. It could be quite interesting to tackle such a traditional RPG activity in a non-traditional - i.e., real-world - setting, if only for a session or two.

I have just one question - guys, what happens when you hit domain level? 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

An Interesting Observation

As most everyone in the hobby has probably heard by now, the Bones III Kickstarter from Reaper Miniatures is going strong, with just under a week left to finish and lots of interesting-looking stretch goals to fill.

Poking around some of the miniatures that were produced in the last go-around, I came across this guy, and it got me thinking:

(Possible Razor Coast spoilers beyond the jump.)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Swords For Wizardry (S&W Appreciation Day)

Art by RenMoraes
About a week ago, I was struck by the way that the title of Swords & Wizardry echoes the naming conventions of Fritz Leiber's classic sword-and-sorcery tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Indeed, the title of the fourth collection is Swords Against Wizardry, and both feature prominently in the adventures of Lankhmar's most famous adventurers, possibly second only to Conan himself in fame across the entire genre.

Naturally, such icons will have been adopted to RPGs before, and are indeed about to experience something of a renaissance, with versions on the horizon for both Dungeon Crawl Classics and Savage Worlds.

But today is not the day to appreciate those systems - today is Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day!

Happily, like most retroclone systems, Swords & Wizardry is pretty much built for running the sort of picaresque sword-and-sorcery adventures Fafhrd and the Mouser get up to. Really, the only thing that comes to mind that might need adjusting is the multiclassing system.

Fafhrd and the Mouser, you see, quite obviously go back and forth between being thieves and fighters, and of course Mouser started as a wizard's apprentice (Fafhrd, in one story, also took a level as a Cleric, but nothing much came of that). Timothy Brannan at The Other Side just posted some thoughts on multiclassing Swords and Wizardry characters, but I wonder how much would break if you simply removed the minimum ability score requirement and disability to advance in both - or all - classes from the as-written dual-classing rules. I'm sure it could result in slightly overpowered characters, but such things are not out of the ordinary in Lankhmar.

Anyway, slightly overpowered characters need slightly overpowered enemies, and recently I was inspired to recreate the titular creature from the Leiber story "The Cloud of Hate":

Summoned by dark cults lead by evil magicians, Hate-Clouds take the form of a silvery fogbank with a reddish tinge. Attacks made directly targeting the red tinge gain a +4 to-hit bonus. For each Hit Dice, it can ensnare one creature (as the Charm Person spell), which it directs to attack any and all passersby. The Cloud can also manipulate weapons directly. When defeated, a red and silver trail leads back to the summoners.

Hate-Cloud HD: 1- 6 AC: 1(18) Atk: Per Weapon, 1 for each HD not currently ensnaring somebody, Save: 9 Move: 9 AL: E CL/XP: 3-9/60-1100  Special: Accompanied by up to number of HD of ensnared victims (treat as Berserkers).

I hope you enjoyed this little Lankhmar-themed addition to Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day 2015 - a big shout-out to RJ at Gamers and Grognards for hosting this year!

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.