Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Looking All The Way Back...

 

I still own every single piece of anything I ever bought or created for role-playing games except the three 2nd Edition AD&D Core Rule Books. Not everything is in good condition, but most of it is.

I have binders and binders full of creations going all the way back to the beginning, which for me was the mid 80's, starting with the 1983 Red Box (technically my brother's at that time, later acquired by me in a trade as he moved beyond D&D to other games) followed almost immediately and concurrently with other BECMI sets (again, his originally) and AD&D hardcovers. My first was the Player's Handbook. For Christmas, 1985 (I believe), I got Unearthed Arcana and the Marvel Super Heroes Box Set (yellow box) and the rest is history...

My brother owned the Dungeon Master's Guide, this one:


I would eventually acquire it from him, but until that happened, I copied page after page after page for my own records, Spell Costs, Poisons, Traits, To-Hit Tables, Saving Throws, Treasure Tables, Magic Items...



 


But, way before any of that, when it was just the Red Box in our possession and perhaps a module or two, I had a strong desire to create my own stuff, and so behold, the first dungeon I ever made...


Two of the three levels...


This introduction...HA! And that cursive writing...I've literally almost forgotten how to write in cursive.



Of course I made another...


Maps already getting better...


I made many more, but eventually we got lazy and started creating quick, randomly rolled, one-page dungeons...


This one's something of a gauntlet...


And how many of you remember these Adventure Log Sheets...?



How about some cut-and-paste character sheets...


The pose on the sheets below, do you know where it came from?



That's it for memory lane.

Looking back is nice, but nostalgia can be a trap. The older you get, the less you have to look forward to and the more you have to look back on. You can, and almost certainly will, get lost in the fog of yesterday.

Do not neglect the present.

Keep creating.



Saturday, October 23, 2021

The DROW.S.R.


Know, oh, prince, why we fear the dark, why only fools venture into the tunnels of the deep, why it is the wise man, who, when discovering a hole in the earth, fills it with cement. Riches there may be, gold and jewels from ages past, secrets and glory, but none of it more valuable than the life-giving rays of the sun!

Praise be the warmth and the glory of the light!

Falsely does one believe that the Drow were driven from the surface. It was the forest-dwelling faeries that were driven from below! 

Flesh of pitch, darker than night. Sinister eyes, like stars in a merciless sky. Children of the Web! Mate of the Arachnid! A union so foul . . .

Cursed woods under a thick canopy of silk, blotting out the sun, perpetual gloom, this is the outpost of the dark elf.

In their wake, villages littered with bloated bodies, impregnated with the eggs of thousands. Those taken alive are not for labor, but for consumption and sacrifice. A feast for the spider!

Do not be taken alive! End yourself lest you enjoy the notion of cocooned terror, kept alive, knowing only the bitter taste of vile poison until the very last scrap of you is consumed by their eight-legged young, your remaining eye blinking out from the web to behold untold others also pleading with their God, as death is taking too long . . . 

Feast of fungus, blood of man, sacrifice and torture, the orgy of the arachnid! Yet a smile never crosses their poisoned lips. Of alien beauty, with spiders like the flea. If you are chosen as her mate . . . Not a spoken word, do not mistake this agony for pleasure, for what will become of you threatens even the sanity of an Elder God! Some will call you Drider . . . Pale where she is pitch, fanged maw gaped in a perpetual scream as you contemplate your new condition. Madness echoes inside.

Have you ever seen their young, my prince?

And their tongue . . . the clicks can not be unheard.

Their kingdom is far larger than ours, for theirs is the true earth! We are but dwellers in moss, a thin crust atop untold cubic leagues of empire. Every step we take, thousands step below. Believe not the charlatan who speaks of gleaming cities in the cavernous dark . . . their dwellings do not resemble our own . . . nor do their ways. They have a purpose incomprehensible to the light. 

Noble are the dwarves who hold their own!

There is no treaty, no discourse, no compromise, no exception, no understanding of something born of the true essence of Evil. 

Even Hell spit them out.  
 


Related post: The O.S.ORC


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Because...Why Not? Pixie Scratch Personal Notebook!

 Click the Picture!

Put this together just for the hell of it!

It's a 5.5 x 8.5 lightly-lined notebook, 104 pages with a cute pixie on the cover!

Yes, the same pixie featured in DATE OF EXPIRATION!

Anyhow, do you need it? 

Nope, but it's cool!

Keep Rolling Those Dice!!!


Sunday, October 3, 2021

3.5 OSR Style?

Let's just say you found yourself flipping through a more recent version of the game (as I did out of necessity for a past post) and found yourself missing parts of it...sort of

You wouldn't just pick it up as is though, after all, the more you read, the more you remember why you moved on. But you've learned so much since then. You could apply old lessons to the new. This is a topic that appears regularly on gaming forums -- how to play modern versions of D&D, OSR style.

Some say you can't.

But of course you can.  

For the purposes of this post I'm going to focus on D&D 3rd Edition (specifically 3.5.) 

The 3.5 Core Rulebooks to my eyes today

  • First off, the font is really small and harder for my aging eyes to read. This isn't helped by the fake lines in the background and the gold, full of words over sketches, first page of every chapter. Note to designers -- Stylized is good, readability is better, find the balance.
  • Art is mostly good, Lockwood, Reynolds, hard to go wrong. But, in this edition we begin to see hints of the super-colorful, silly armor, not very medieval or sword & sorcery looking style that is prominent today.
  • Physically, I like the way they feel. Solid. Dense.
  • The Monster Manual is very cool (great monster art and the last monster manual to have such, coolest Dryad, coolest Minotaur -- and I love the fact that a Minotaur does 3d6+6 points of damage with it's great-axe, such a beast would!) but feels crammed, yet the stat-blocks, surprisingly, aren't nearly as bloated as they came to be later on, especially with Pathfinder.
  • Books switch back and forth between 2 and 3 column layout, I love the 3 column aspect of that.
  • The DM's Guide was the last good one. Many useful tables and tons of Traps.
  • Expanded Psionics is a nice book that makes me wish magic worked that way, but too dependent on crystals and new-age type stuff.

Things that came to bother me about 3.5
  • Iterative Attacks. Without a doubt, the worst aspect of this edition. These weren't just extra attacks, they were extra attacks with a diminishing chance to hit. Which means, you have to roll them separately. Take a look at the multi-armed Marilith Demon -- Primary longsword +25/+20/+15/+10, and 5 longswords +25, and a tail slap +22. That's 10 attacks! But if she moves and attacks she only gets 1. Now, I expect a Marilith to enjoy some benefit from having 6 arms, but not at the expense of my fun. Now, in all fairness, iterative attacks is mainly a high-level problem, and I never even sniffed the higher levels, but the closer I got, I could see problems brewing on the horizon.
  • Too much "building" your character. I despise this. As much random determination as possible -- that's what I like!
  • Over time, way too many feats. This happens to almost all RPGs though. People want more options and eventually those options ruin the game. And they're hard to ignore.
  • Lots of useless and/or redundant skills like "knowledge this and knowledge that" and then there's the "perception" super-skill.

What I like about 3.5
  • Fort, Reflex, and Will saves. These are as iconic to me as the original five categories and can easily be reversed to the old school roll-over method (not a huge fan of the modern, goal-post moving, DC systems.)
  • Prestige Classes. Logical. Paladin, for example, should be a Prestige Class.
  • Options. Even though you had to "build" a character, two 1st level fighters could be quite different from each other.

Anyway, how I would OSR 3.5
  • Gold for XP. Keep some monster XP, maybe cut it in half or a third and/or use a slower XP progression table like the slow option in Pathfinder. As with any D&D, you never need to hit the really high levels.
  • Random skills. Yep, a little work would be needed here. Create random tables for each class based on their class-skills list. You get so many rolls on the list every level-up, each skill you roll goes up 1d4 points. One of the results would be "roll on the general skill list." How cool would this be!? Doing this with feats would be a little trickier, due to feat trees and such.
  • Or...eliminate skills all together.
  • Some feats would have to be simplified, re-written, or just done away with, like two-weapon fighting. And only core rules feats allowed, no splat books.
  • Mostly ignore monster feats and skills unless they're already baked in to the stats or vital to the situation. Seriously, I never utilized monster feats. I kept things as basic as possible. Check out how I wrote 3.5 monster stats:
  • Now that Naga also had spells which I recorded below that, but you get the point. I found monsters to be pretty tough in 3.5 (unlike 5th Edition.) 
  • Completely ignore Iterative Attacks. If anything, just turn them into extra attacks with the same bonus as the first one. The above mentioned Marilith would get 6 attacks at +25 to-hit whether she moved or not. And she can use any of those attacks to parry by rolling equal to or higher than a successful incoming attack. Done.
  • OK, wait a minute, +25 just sounds ridiculous! Another problem with 3.5. Reign is armor class and restore "to-hit" based on hit dice.
  • Completely ignore CR (challenge rating.) Tough traps and monsters can be anywhere for anyone to encounter. Learn an old-school trick -- run away!

Back when I ran 3.5, I pretty much played the way I always did, focusing on tough dungeon crawls. I've always ignored the extra bloat in monster stats, even back in 1st edition when certain monsters (mainly powerful ones) had class levels. It was too much work looking up or listing what spells and abilities this gave them. All in all, 3.5 is an excellent game at lower levels, and with some tweaks, it's just as fun as any OSR system. After all, OSR is more a "style" than a ruleset. Would I run it now? I could. But truth be told, my mind has moved on to other innovations & mechanics.

Anyhow, just thoughts. Carry on.

And check out DATE OF EXPIRATION to experience a dungeon unlike anything you've ever seen before!


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Pretty Dungeons Are For DMs

 

The art of the dungeon.

Literally, the ART of the dungeon...

...is for Dungeon Masters.

Not players.

A cool map is for inspiration. A cool map makes the DM want to run the adventure. A cool map makes the DM want to BUY the adventure.

The players never get to see the maps. They might get a glimpse. They might already be aware of the adventure's existence, but they never get to study the beauty of the maps and the maps can go a long way in conveying the feel of the adventure. But ultimately, it is up to the DM to translate that feel into a language that inspires the players. If you think about it, the only version of the dungeon map a player gets to see, is the one they draw for themselves. Now we've all played both sides of the screen, but I've never really pondered this before.

So why even bother drawing pretty maps?

Because we like to. 

Period.

There's just something about the maze. Creating that space. Perhaps you, as a DM, first have to inspire yourself.

There's the classic grid, the isometric, and the side-view vertical. Interestingly, I've only toyed with drawing isometric maps a few times. They're fun to look at, but not as much fun to draw, and they only travel in one direction, meaning, they're like stairs. A true 3-D dungeon isn't possible. And isometrics are a pain for players to map.

Lately, I've been into the side-view, vertical dungeons (not sure what the official term is.) They're just fun to draw and you can put stuff into the drawing that gives you ideas for what's going on, other than, statue in the corner, fountain in the center.

The picture above was the first doodle that I drew for DATE OF EXPIRATION. It was just a doodle, no pencils, just ink -- pens and markers. Had no idea what is was. But it was so satisfying to draw, that I drew another, and then another, and another, and so on until I started to develop a plan. Over the course of a month I drew 43 of these and pieced them all together into what is referred to as, The Sapion Structure. That was almost two years ago. 

In DATE OF EXPIRATION, I think I've constructed one of the most visually interesting dungeons ever. Hopefully what I've created will inspire DMs to run it.

Keep rolling...

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Date Of Expiration Is Now Available!

 You have never seen a dungeon like this before!!!

What happens when crazed mechanical beings from the future arrive on your fantasy world?

Designed for character levels 4-7, Date of Expiration, is made for the basic and advanced versions of the world’s most popular fantasy role-playing game, but can easily be adapted for play with later editions.

A challenging funhouse, this adventure fits the sword & planet sub-genre of science fiction. Be warned, there is no escaping technology here!

Date of Expiration, is a unique tale of discovery and doom. The few characters that survive will never be the same again. Good luck and have fun! 

  • 108 Pages
  • Unique Monsters & Treasure
  • All Original Art
  • Overland Journey & Vertical Dungeon Crawl

The PDF is available at DriveThruRPG here: DATE OF EXPIRATION PDF


Soft Cover Book at Amazon here: DATE OF EXPIRATION Soft-Cover Book 


Art and layout samples are below... 








Are these wires actually made of gold?

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Better Prime Requisite Perks

Still here folks...

Classic B/X Prime Requisite perks are a +5% XP modifier for scores 13-15 and a +10% XP modifier for scores 16-18.

I've always completely ignored this and never gamed with anyone that didn't.

The last thing we wanted to do was bust out the calculator when dishing out XP.

Try something like this instead. It's easier, more fun, and gives your character an equivalent and tangible edge during actual play as opposed to an end of the night calculation.

On the following tables, you get 1 roll if your Prime Requisite is 13-15, and 2 rolls if it is 16-18. These rolls take place at character creation and never again. These charts reflect positive Prime Requisites, but, can easily be reversed for negative scores. If your Prime Requisite increases or decreases during play, add or subtract these bonuses as needed.

Elves can roll on either the Fighter or Magic-User tables. 

Roll 1d4...


Fighters/Dwarves/Halflings/Elves

1. +1 to-hit

2. +1 to armor class

3. +2 hit points

4. +1 to damage


Clerics

1. +1 to turning undead

2. +2 hit points healed with curing spells

3. +1 hit point

4. bonus 1st level spell (when available)


Magic-Users/Elves

1. bonus 1st level spell

2. +1 save vs. spells

3. targets are -1 save against your spells

4. bonus 2nd level spell (when available)


Thieves

1. +5% to all percentile thief skills

2. +1 to-hit with back-stab 

3. +2 to back-stab damage 

4. +1 to a single saving throw category


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

RIFTS: She Will Kill You!...And The RIFTS 30th Anniversary Edition

She will kill you!

The Blind Warrior Women of Altara. Slaves of the Splugorth of RIFTS Atlantis. The Altarains were enslaved 2,000 years ago. Psionic, fit warriors, three quarters of them have been thoroughly brainwashed into happily serving the Splugorth, the rest yearn for freedom. There are no males and they reproduce by cloning themselves every 12 years. My drawing above portrays them as flirtatious...they are not!...but then again, it's your game.

A couple of weeks ago, this arrived...

Keith Parkinson cover painting, one of the most iconic images in the history of Role-Playing.

This is the original game reprinted in hardcover with a bunch of extras including concept art and several pages depicting all the RIFTS covers ever published. This is raw RIFTS before the multitude of expansion books. The thing I love the most is all the Larry MacDougall art, which for whatever reason is completely absent from RIFTS Ultimate Edition. There are a few samples of his high contrast art below. 

The black ink in this book POPS, I mean, the black is BLACK and crisp. 







Makes you want to play doesn't it?

You can purchase a copy here: https://www.palladiumbooks.com/

Once again, I have absolutely zero affiliation with Palladium Books, just a fan. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Wherein I Roll Up A Character For Gabor Lux's Helvéczia

István the 2nd Level Hungarian Soldier.
 
Helvéczia by Gabor Lux, is a picaresque fantasy role-playing game. What is picaresque? A blurb from the back of the book:

A re-imagination of old-school fantasy role-playing in a late 17th century Switzerland that never was, Helvéczia is a fast-paced and colourful game of guns, dames, deviltry and steel, based on swashbuckling tales, penny dreadfuls, local legends, and the strange stories of the Brothers Grimm.

There's no way to digest this game so quickly, but I did make a character...

Starting with stats,  I rolled using the recommended method of 4d6 drop the lowest, just one set, you're allowed to roll two sets and choose the better:

Strength: 17 (+2)
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 12 (+1)
Intelligence: 11
Wisdom: 17 (+2)
Charisma: 10

Strong and wise. 

Being a soldier (subclass of fighter) he gets a +1 to combat and the ability to carry over damage if his attack reduces someone to 0 hit points.

Melee Total: +7 (fighter, strength, soldier, Hungarian)
Ranged Total: +3

There are three saves: Bravery, Deftness, and Temptation. Bravery is his prime, the other two are secondary.

Bravery: +4 (con)
Deftness: +1 (dex)
Temptation: +3 (wis)

Hit Points: 20 (2d10 + con/ max 10 at 1st level)

Initiative: 0

Armor Class: 15(17 in Melee -- Hungarian) -- Cuirass. I put this poor guy into debt twice just so he could have a cuirass! Who does he owe? The Rotschilds? The Lehmanns? Goldmann-Sachs? Those names sound familiar?

I made him Hungarian as a tribute to the author. This gives him some combat bonuses but also some ill fate, -2 to a random save each adventure. 

Virtue: 11 (middle of the road, which way will István go?)

Skills: I chose Climb, Ride, and Medicine. They are soldierly.

Climb: +4
Ride: +2
Medicine: +4

A halberd for a weapon: 1d10+2 damage, critical: x3

Money Left: 3 Gold Thalor

And there you have it. István, the 2nd level Hungarian Soldier, in debt, off to adventure in the Switzerland that never was. Probably tired of the Ottomans.


A few days ago, after being gone from my house all day, I returned to find an upright package on my porch leaning against the siding. 

It had been raining ALL DAY.

It was one of the books I've been waiting on, but my heart sank, as in my gut I knew that it was Helvéczia! All thoughts exited my head as I quickly entered my domain to check the damage, for I have had a poorly packaged book, by a well known author, completely and utterly destroyed by rain before. It was promptly replaced by a better packaged one, and that creator will remain anonymous as I'm not trying to embarrass anyone. 

This package was soaked!!!!!

Miraculously, Helvéczia survived unscathed. What a relief!!! My mind was blown at my fortune!

And then it was blown again by the contents of the game. Just check out this spread...

Well done, Gabor, well done.

BTW you can purchase Helvéczia here: https://emdt.bigcartel.com/


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

DATE OF EXPIRATION -- Preview

Cover could change, but probably not.


This is the main project I've been working on...

Below are two sample pages (sans the actual info) the first of which includes the dungeon doodle that sparked this whole thing. There are 43 sections like these and each section usually has multiple rooms and corridors. After I drew them, I pieced them together, forming a massive tower complex, and then set about making sense of it all.






And from my first tease...




I've drawn tons of art for this; the dungeon itself is art. 

Stats will be generic OSR like I've done before, e.g., (Armor: as plate.) 

The book I tend to reference the most for stats, spells, and such is the Rules Cyclopedia.

Levels are tentatively 4-7.






Shooting for the Fall...


Looking All The Way Back...

  I still own every single piece of anything I ever bought or created for role-playing games except the three 2nd Edition AD&D Core Rule...