Friday, November 30, 2012

New Printing of Neoclassical Geek Revival on Indiegogo

ZZARCHOV of the Unofficial Games blog has launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the latest printing of his Neoclassical Geek Revival RPG.

"This is not a campaign to fund development work on the game. That is already guaranteed, as is release.

"This is a campaign to cover printing tanotex bound hardcovers with gold stamping and ribbons and nice high quality paper. Hell if we get lucky we might even be able to afford more art!
"But this isn't any kind of guarantee. If you've seen previous printings and liked them, this is your chance to get a copy of the upcoming 2013 edition."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Desk-top Books Meme

James Maliszewski started a meme on G+ and has expressed his wish to see it hit the blogosphere as well.

I don't have a desk-top at the moment, really and most of my rpg stuff is packed up. However, here's the stuff I have out for reference while working on my campaign:

A couple of close ups and a pic of the ones without spine titles:

My rather raggedy, reading/gaming copy of the DMG. It looks like hell, but the binding is still sound.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In which I play OSRIC for 30 years

So. Gearing up for a new campaign. Definitely a 1e thing, but I think I'm going to run OSRIC again.

Partly because I anticipate again having players new to old school D&D and want them to be able to download a free copy of the rules.

Also, the last OSRIC campaign I ran made me realize something.

While many folks write about their early 1e experiences as being a mash-up of B/X & AD&D, this wasn't my experience at all. No one in my gaming group, or any of the groups I knew of, played B/X. Or, even owned the boxed sets. It was 1e all the way.

We played the game pretty much by the book. I've always used segments and casting times. Weapon damage vs. L opponents. MR based on the caster being 11th level.

We didn't use weapon vs. ac or weapon speed. I imagine that probably was due to the influence of elder gamers who had disappeared into the halls of Valhalla, long before I met my initial gaming buddies. Don't really know for sure

When I look back on it, aside from houeruled individual initiative and lifting limits on single-classed demi's, the game I've played for 30 years looks a hell of a lot like OSRIC!

Monday, November 19, 2012

This Week's Conan Pic

A scene by Fabian, from Queen of the Black Coast:

"Over all brooded a silence as sinister as that of a sleeping serpent. Belit posed picturesquely among the ruins, the vibrant life in her lithe figure contrasting strangely with the desolation and decay about her. The sun flamed up slowly, sullenly, above the jungle, flooding the towers with a dull gold that left shadows lurking beneath the tottering walls. Belit pointed to a slim round tower that reeled on its rotting base. A broad expanse of cracked, grass-grown slabs led up to it, flanked by fallen columns, and before it stood a massive altar. Belit went swiftly along the ancient floor and stood before it."
R. E. Howard - Queen of the Black Coast
You can read the full text of Queen of the Black Coast, here.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Guide to Glorantha Kickstarter

For the KS wary:
"The book is designed, written, and ready to go. All we need to get it over the finish line and into your hands are funds for printing the main book, the Argan Argar color atlas, and also the 11 x 17 inch poster map set."
I've never been into Glorantha, but a high production, system neutral, definitive edition of the setting is something that's peaking my interest.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pacesetter Games & Simulations Cataclysm at the Acaeum Kickstarter

Bill Barsh of Pacesetter Games & Simulations has set up his first Kickstarter - Cataclysm at the Acaeum - A 1e/OSRIC Megadungeon box set that is also available in a Swords & Wizardry version.

The initial goal has been met, with 27 days left to get in on the backing.

"Cataclysm at the Acaeum is a megadungeon boxed set that is compatible with the First Edition game (as well as the OSRIC system). This boxed set will include four 36-page adventure books (each containing 4-6 scenarios), three 32-page adventure books (large scale adventure), 24+ cardstock maps and a poster map of the acaeum complex. There will also be a separate book detailing all significant NPCs, New Monsters and New Magic Items. When complete, this will be the largest boxed set produced for the First Edition game!
"UPDATE: I have recieved more than a few requests to create a Swords & Wizardry option. Therefore, all backers will have the option to choose either a First Edition version or a Swords & Wizardry version. For those who want both, you can pledge an additonal $55 (you save $10) on any addition boxed set purchases."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Pleasant Surprise in ICv2's latest Top 5 RPG's Bestsellers List!

From the ICv2 Website:

Top 5 Roleplaying Games – Summer 2012

Paizo Publishing
Dungeons & Dragons
Wizards of the Coast
Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader/Deathwatch
Fantasy Flight Games
Dragon Age
Green Ronin Publishing
Dungeon Crawl Classics
Goodman Games

No surprise that Paizo is still holding the #1 spot. WotC, FFG & Green Ronin are to be expected on the list, as well.

But breaking into the fifth position is none other than Goodman Games with the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG!

With the game already in its second printing and new modules being released every month, DCC is making its presence felt in the RPG world. I'm rather pleased to see an unabashedly old school game, doing so well!

The image on the left, is for the soon to be released alternate cover printing. Goodman is currently taking pre-orders for this one!

As you can see, Hugh of the Red and White Striped 70's pants, has met his end!

And speaking of DCC, if you haven't checked out CRAWL!, you're missing an awesome zine!

Delving Deeper from Brave Halfling and Immersive Ink is now available for free download!

The Delving Deeper free pdf version has been released and is available for download at RPGNOW.

The free version is split into three volumes, each of which features a cover illustration by the awesome Mark Allen!

Delving Deeper is a retro-clone of 0e, designed to hew more closely to the LBB's than previously released OSR RPG's.

While Brave Halfling Publishing initiated Delving Deeper, and will be fulfilling the box set pre-order shipments, support and publishing of the game is now under the aegis of Immersive Ink.

More info and discussion about Delving Deeper can be found at the ODD 74 Forum.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The S&W Kickstarter Ends this Evening

As I write this, the Kickstarter for the new sig stitched HC S&W Complete and Monster Books is at $76,440. It's ending at 6:00 PM EDT today.


Not bad, for a "Dead" System, from a "Dead" OSR!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

10 RPG Books Bandwagon - Zombie Apocalypse Edition

Tough! Real, real tough!

I'll pretty much jettison any Collector considerations. If I'm stuck on a desert island, or in a Zombie-Apocalypse proof underground shelter, I don't think I'll be worrying about my Collection. Just what I want to game with. Hopefully, I'll have someone(s) other than Zombies to play with.

10 RPG books I would fight and dodge Zombies for, to take with me into exile.

1. The AD&D DMG. Gary's Masterpiece! No way I'm leaving that for the Zombies.

2. OSRIC - Black Blade Pub. HC. I can only pick ten, so I'll make a sacrifice and kill two birds with one stone. I'll take OSRIC and leave behind the AD&D PH & MM. It hurts, but it's efficient.

3. World of Greyhawk Folio - Just found a copy on ebay, the cover of which, isn't totally ragged out! It's currently in the hands of the USPS, but for purposes of this list I'll assume that the zombie-virus thingie won't hit the general population for a few more days. Otherwise it's the 83 Boxed Set.

4. Matt Finch's Tome of Adventure Design. Maybe, the most generally useful RPG book I own.

5. DCC RPG. For when I want to shake things up a bit. Also, fantastic art and tons of swipeable content.

6. The Wilderlands of High Fantasy.

7. City State of the Invincible Overlord. These last two because, well, they're fucking awesome! The Zombies shall not have them!

8. Fight On! HC Compendium 1, comprising issues 1-4.

9. Fight On! HC Compendium 2, comprising issues 5-8. These last two give me the most bang for my buck, for awesome gaming and reading material.

10. The First Fantasy Campaign. Fascinating. Historically important. One of my favorites.

Ok. Maybe collecting considerations influenced my list, just a little.

I was going to grab my S&W HC, the printing with the cool, white, metal logo. But, I have to be practical. Zombies and all that. Combined with my own memory and ideas, I can Tailor OSRIC to whatever I want.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

D&D Inspiration Cinema: The Warriors - With Bonus Random Table

For those who haven't seen it, here's the set-up for Walter Hill's 1979 cult classic The Warriors.

The leader of the most powerful gang in New York, Cyrus of the Gramercy Riffs, calls a summit and invites most of the gangs operating in the city to attend. Cyrus wants everyone to unite and take on The Man. Cyrus has a lot of Charisma, if not Wisdom and when he intones "Can you dig it?" the majority of the assembled gang-bangers respond enthusiastically.

The Warriors are skeptical. But, they're not the only ones who aren't "Digging it." Luther, leader of the Rogues, decides to shake things up. Why?

"No Reason. I just like doing things like that."

So, being Chaotic Evil, he whips out a handgun and decisively ends the Summit. One of the Warriors sees what went down. The cops show up and in the ensuing chaos, Luther points and shouts, "The Warriors did it!" He then rushes Cleon, the Warriors' leader. Cleon takes him down, but just as Luther intended, other gang dudes join in and Cleon is overwhelmed. Word spreads. The Warriors killed Cyrus!

Far from their own "turf," the Warriors spend the rest of the movie trying to get back to Coney Island. While hundreds of colorfully dressed gang dudes, intent on vengeance, try to kill them all!

Wikipedia tells me that the movie is based on Sol Yurick's 1965 novel of the same name. Which, was based on Anabasis by Xenophon. The Warriors has since spawned two video games, toys and comic books.

So. Place Cyrus in a D&D type setting. Mid or high fantasy, with plenty of adventuring groups and mercenary companies. Maybe add some demonic backing and you've got a potentially campaign changing event.

Following the film more closely, we can set it in a major city and have some asshole like Luther kill the new messiah. Maybe a Disintegrate spell, or Sphere of Annihilation. Of course, the PC's get framed for it and now have hundreds of adventuring type dudes, henchmen and hirelings, chasing them through the city and out for blood!

Bringing us to:

Twelve Reasons the Rival Adventuring Party is Trying to Kill You All!

1. They want to kill you and take your stuff!
2. They do side work for the authorities, who think the PC's have gotten too big for their britches.
3. A PC bedded a Barmaid, who previously caught the eye of some other bad-ass adventurer.
4. "That Dungeon is Ours!"
5. Trying to make a name for themselves.
6. "No Reason. I just like doing things like that."
7. God/Devil/Space Alien told them to do it!
8. Hired by any one of no doubt numerous people, that the PC's have managed to piss off!
9. "Join us or Die!"
10. A PC looked at one of them "the wrong way."
11. Revenge. Possibly a Frame-Up.
12. "Let's you and him fight," orchestrated by a shadowy entity, seeking to remove potential threats.

Now, we'll see if I can manage to turn this into a series.

Friday, August 3, 2012

In which I Dust off the Blog, Pay Homage to the Iron Crown and Unduly Alarm Myself

Let's See if I can Get Back Into this Blogging Thing

I haven't gamed in months! Haven't really worked on anything game related either, though I've got a campaign idea, kicking around in the back of my head. More on that, anon. Bought some stuff, though.

I.C.E., I.C.E., Baby!

Rolemaster! It's not just an RPG...

It's The Law!

Boxed set, with the three main 2nd edition books, a setting module and a little something extra, the Creature & Treasure book.

Brisco: "Can we play it?"

Me: "Yeah, but I'd rather start you out with D&D."

Brisco: "Why? Is this more complicated?"

Me: "Yeah, you can say that..."

Brisco: "Well, I don't really have to know the rules, anyway."

True dat!

Oh, No!!!

So, I open up the box and start inspecting my new, used Rolemaster books. Part of said inspection being sticking my nose into the middle of the books and giving them the sniff test, just to make sure that...


It was fairly faint. Undetectable, unless you stuck your nose right up to the pages. But there was the unmistakable odor of... something. Something that smelled too damn similar to mildew, for my comfort level.


It wasn't damp, or musty, though. Real pungent. Faint enough that my olfactory apparatus quickly filtered the odor. I couldn't quite get a handle on it. The books themselves, looked fine! No moisture damage, or staining.

Still, mold can be invisible and on your RPG items, isn't something to take lightly. That shit can spread to adjacent items! 

Oh, the Horror!!!!!

I couldn't release the Rolemaster stuff into my general collection, until I was sure it wasn't some sort of moldy growth! So, with no other option, I sought an outside opinion.

Everyone has at least one Superpower

My ex-wife has a super-sniffer. Something that's caused me no small amount of consternation, over the years. So, I consulted her and her nose.

"Can you do me a favor?"

"What?" An ex-wife can imbue a staggering amount of wariness, into that one, simple sentence.

"Smell this and tell me if it smells like mildew. I don't think it is, but..."

So, she smells it. And makes the kind of face that someone with super-olfactory powers might make, after sticking their nose into a litter box. She sniffs it again.

"Cheap ink. And a little bit of tobacco smoke."

"Cheap ink?"

"Yeah. I used to be a typesetter, remember? That's cheap ink. Very, cheap ink."

Huh. Cheap ink I can live with. My own nose completely failed to detect the cig smoke.

Le Sigh

So. I now have Rolemaster. This means, there's no reason to put off my long-planned campaign, to collect the I.C.E. Middle-Earth supplements. 


Except, I plan on finishing Judges Guild, first. I'm getting closer. :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

WotC's AD&D Reprints Now Available for Pre-Order on Amazon

Amazon is now accepting pre-orders for the 1e re-prints. Estimated Delivery date is Aug. 6-10. Eligible for Free Shipping.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Of Death, Appendix N, and no Longer Being 12 Years Old


 On May 28, 2012 my father went into the hospital. At the time, I didn't know if he would make it back home. He was diagnosed with advanced Cirrhosis of the Liver (he was not a drinker.) The illness caused a massive fluid retention, which filled his stomach and left him unable to eat or drink. The medical team at Shelby Baptist Hospital drained the fluid, only to watch him fill right back up.

 On June 12, his overall state took an acute downturn. He contracted pneumonia, his lungs now joining in with the rest of his body, in drowning itself. By that point, there was little doubt about the outcome. Thursday, the Doctor advised in-patient Hospice care, after my father expressed his wishes not to be resuscitated. I went to the hospital to sign the necessary papers. My ex-wife brought my son to the hospital, to see his grandfather. We left.

 Friday, the 15th, I woke up, got my act together and left to go back to the hospital. I pulled into the hospital lot and as I parked my truck, I received the call. A nurse, a student and the hospice nurse were in the room, the first two asking me inane questions. Curt civility, seemed the most appropriate response to their inability to grok that 10 minutes into my father's death, as I was staring at his corpse, wasn't the most welcoming time to ask me about his tattoos and piercings. Or, if I were his only child and where did he grow up.

 After a few minutes, another nurse showed up and they were then empowered to officially pronounce my father dead. I asked them to leave the room. I wish I could tell you that he looked to be at peace, or something. Actually, he looked exactly like he did the day before. Pallid, drowsy, his eyes half-open, mouth agape, as he struggled for breath. No breath now, though my mind tried to tell me, on a couple of occasions, that his chest was rising and falling. A close inspection disabused it of the notion.


 To say that my father had a large media collection, would be an understatement. He loved books, movies and music, a love he passed on to his son. At the age of five, I was listening to his Rolling Stones, Kiss and Waylon Jennings albums, while reading his Marvel and DC Comics and waiting for HBO to begin broadcasting for the day.

 As I got a little older, 12 or so, Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, Heavy Metal and the Savage Sword of Conan became my go-to after school reading material. This led to his paperbacks. The De Camp Conan editions. Thieves World. Various and sundry fantasy, science fiction and horror novels. Then, the Direct Sales comics boom hit. Grimjack, Dreadstar, Sable, Alien Legion and many, many more.

 My father was taping damn near every movie that played on cable and building a soon to be obsolete collection of factory-made VHS tapes. A rather large pool, from which to draw my own Appendix N. I would be 14, before discovering Dungeons & Dragons.


 My father got rid of most of his books and comics, several years ago. Then, immediately set about collecting more. A lot of his attention, over the past 15 or so years, was spent on his DVD and CD collection. There's well over 1,000 DVD's and DVD boxed sets, though I haven't taken an exact inventory yet. About as many CD's. 2,000 books? Not as many as he used to have. Only a few boxes of comic books and graphic novels.

I just ran across a copy of the graphic novel of DC's Identity Crisis, which James Raggi posted about, a few days ago. Mr. Raggi says its good, so I'll keep it.

 My father's tastes were... eclectic. He was also a pack-rat. It'll take me a month to go through everything. It's weird. Trying to sort and organize all this stuff, brings back a lot of memories. Being twelve years old and in my father's room, discovering some new book, or magazine, filled with swords, sorcery, rocket ships and horrific monsters. Adventure. Titillation. Ideas to inflame my imagination.

 Except I'm all pensive, melancholy and don't feel like reading, watching, or listening to anything at all.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

CDC Denies "Zombie Apocalypse" is Immanent

From the Huffington-Post
"CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead (or one that would present zombie-like symptoms)," wrote agency spokesman David Daigle in an email to The Huffington Post.
"Nevertheless, recent incidents in which humans reportedly ate human flesh have the Internet in a firestorm, with "zombie apocalypse" being Google's third most popular search term by Friday morning.
"The zombie craze seemed to start with an attack in Miami on Saturday, when Rudy Eugene, 31, was killed by cops while in the process of eating almost the entirety of a homeless man's face off. The victim, Ronald Poppo, miraculously survived, but doctors are having a hard time figuring out how to put his face back together.
"Then, on Tuesday, 21-year-old Alexander Kinyua of Maryland allegedly admitted to dismembering his roommate and then eating his heart and brain.
"Cops in Canada are also searching for a low-budget porn actor who allegedly killed a young man with an ice pick, dismembered the body and then raped and ate flesh from the corpse. Luka Rocco Magnotta is being hunted after he allegedly mailed some of the body parts to Ottawa. He's also accused of killing cats on video and posting the footage online.
"Gawker fingered a "mysterious rash" breakout at a high school in Hollywood and other parts of Florida -- which hazmat and disease control teams still can't explain -- as further proof that zombies are taking over.

"Zombie-like characteristics have been confirmed in the animal kingdom, just not in humans. A newfound fungus in a Brazilian rain forest -- called Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzani -- is known to infect an ant, take over its brain so as to move the body to a good location for growth, and then kill the insect."

Well. Fuck me!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Obligatory 5e Playtest Materials Post

No worries. A good night's rest will take care of those
3rd degree burns!

Or, Why I Seriously Doubt I'll Ever DM 5e.

There's stuff I like about the fledgling 5e.

There's also shit I don't like, mind you.

Hypothetically, it could turn into a game I'd be interested in running.

If the feedback they receive isn't overwhelmingly in favor of ditching the stuff I like, in an attempt to turn it into 4e Take II.

If the majority of the feedback goes in the exact opposite direction, dumping a bit more of the 3e influences, as well.

Based upon my cursory reading of WotC's forums, as well as EnWorld, the company's current fanbase isn't too enamored of those features of the game which I find admirable.

And of course, they tend to favor many of the things which I don't like, at all!

I suspect that by the time it's said and done, 5e will have moved even further away from the kind of game I like to run.

I Don't Expect Too Many Old School Influences to Survive the Playtest

If WotC's current customers comprise the main playtest participants, then it's a fairly safe bet that the end result will be pretty damn far from suiting my tastes.

But, well...

So what?

I've already got enough D&D editions/printings/clones/variants.

I've got my DIY D&D magic wand.

And if I'm in the mood to run something different?

No Matter What WotC Ends Up With, There's No Fucking Way It'll Be As Groovy As DCC!

No. Fucking. Way.

And I don't feel the need to compromise, just so I can play the "current edition" of Dungeons & Dragons.

The Compromise Edition

So, some Old School philosophy, married to a stripped down 3e, a dollop of 4e, a healthy dose of 2e and C&C. A smidgen of LotFP. Overall, they didn't do a bad job. But, there are places where they're mixing oil and water.

In places, the thought process of the designers, the path of Compromise, is glaringly, obviously evident.

Some folks seem fine with that. They'll houserule it in the direction they want it to go.

Or, wait for the "module" from WotC, to move the game into their preferred style of play.

Many gamers seem genuinely happy with how things are developing. I hope they get the RPG they want.

So, will the "Old School" Module make 5e something I would choose to run?



Because anyone sitting at my table, who likes the idea of playing 5e with the "Old School" module, would in all likelihood be just fine with playing a TSR edition or Retro/Neo Clone.

In fact, they'd probably Prefer it!
My copy has the Keep, as well as the Caves.

And unless WotC can put out an edition that I like so much, that it breaks into my shortlist of faves, I have no real reason to run the game.

What little bit they've put out so far, is nowhere near that shortlist. That's not going to change. Not unless they want to totally alienate their current fanbase.


Got a game Friday. There's a chance the party might end up at a certain Keep, Bordering certain Lands.

A module I'd much rather run with OSRIC. Where Fighters don't do damage when they miss, Magic-Users don't have unlimited Magic Missiles and the PC's don't regenerate, without at least having a Ring, or something.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Valley of the Azure Ziggurat ... And Hope to be back soon

Studying for my State Agent License exam. I finished my 40 hr pre-exam course and passed the "practice" exam. It's a bear. Hope to be back to regular posting, soon. Got a game, Friday night. Woo-hoo!

Made a map.

Right Click and open for expandable pic.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Monte's Out, 5e Open Playtest Starts and 3.5 Reprints?!?

Monte's announcement. Some highlights:
"However, I want to take this time to stress that my differences were not with my fellow designers, Rob Schwalb and Bruce Cordell."

"Due to my non-disclosure agreement, as well as a desire to keep things on a professional level, I have no intention of going into further detail at this time. (Mostly, I just hate drama, and would rather talk about more interesting things.)"
Not mentioning Mike Mearls in the "goodwill disclaimer," speaks volumes.

Mike Mearls is saddened and surprised. He also announces May 24 as the start of the open playtest.

Joethelawyer has some interesting B&N pre-order links. 3.5 Core books, with errata.


Now, 3.5 core books sells like hotcakes on ebay. I sold a spare set of the three core books last week for $75.

$65 to $100 is typical. Consistently typical. A PH alone has been averaging about $35. Discounting odd outlying results, $25 to $45 is usual. And has been for the past year that I've been keeping up with 3.5 auctions. And we're talking a lot of auctions, every week.

Hell, the HC splats go for around $20+ a piece. This isn't just "collector's" scarfing these things up. I wonder how many non-Pathfinder customers have been playing 3.5? And spreading the game?

I think WotC may be hedging their bets. I wouldn't be surprised to see an OD&D anniversary type set and maybe a real BECMI box.

It is not a good sign, when one of the main designers of your new edition, jumps ship right before the open playtest. Especially when that designer has the profile of Monte Cook.

Good luck, Monte.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Random Table - Urban Mendicants

Submitted for your approval, 12 holy (or unholy) beggars, raising a ruckus in the streets.

1. Bomos the Mad - Chaotic-Neutral. An archetypal, crazy-eyed, wild-haired, filthy Prophet O' Doom, wearing a sandwich board declaring "The End is Nigh!" In the midst of his typically mad proclamations, he'll utter something only the PC's should know, or another secret, of relevance to their current doings.

2. Rafnk the Legless - F2. Chaotic-Good. A humble servant of his god, he's taken a vow of poverty. Rolls around on a crude cart, propelled by his mighty arms. A former adventurer, he has dated knowledge of the first three levels of the dungeon. Has a Dagger +1, that bestows 10% Magic Resistance.

3. Muad the Greasy - Chaotic-Evil. Claims to serve some god, that's completely unknown to everyone else. Wears soiled finery. Slick, oily and smarmy. Host to an alien symbiote, which grants him psionics. He murders and eats 1 beggar, or other homeless person, per week.

4. Whomis the Holy - C2. Neutral-Good. A benevolent, poor servant of a beneficent higher power. Cares for the sick and needy of the streets. If a PC donates 10 GP or more, they will receive a one-time blessing and the next Critical Miss they suffer, will become a Critical Hit.

5. Mahra of the Shadows - Illusionist L7. Chaotic-Neutral. Serves a vengeful, scary deity. Only seen at night. Stalks and murders the more parasitic denizens of the slums.

6. Mother Velvet - F3 Transvestite Half-Orc. Neutral-Evil. Bears the symbol of an ancient, near-forgotten deity of strife. Commands 20 or so orphan children, who collect information, which Mother sells to various clients.

7. Old Gideon - Lawful-Good. A polymorphed Silver Dragon, he's an amnesiac and has lost all knowledge of his former self. Wanders the streets, begging and telling stories about famous Paladins and other heroes.

8. Thak the Barbarian - FL4. Chaotic-Neutral. A barbarian prince, blinded in war. Stalks the alleys naked, demanding tribute for his patron demon. Which he spends on prostitutes and cheap wine. Will usually be carrying a makeshift weapon of some sort or another. Occasionally, will get his hands on a sword, eventually losing it after passing out in a drunken stupor.

9. Susannah of the Scarlet Sash - C4. Chaotic-Good. A Sacred Prostitute, Susannah became disenchanted with her religious organization, which showed more devotion to pecuniary concerns, than their mission of spreading... the word. Susannah has taken the good news to the streets! She wears a Scarlett Sash that's been blessed by her deity, confers a bonus of +2 on all her rolls and grants immunity to all diseases.

10. Ol' Bear - F3. Chaotic-Good. Reincarnated as a Bear. Something of a mascot to the people of the city, they'll be very sore if anything happens to this gregarious street preacher.

11. Toisim - A demon in human guise. Chaotic-Evil. HD: 6. AC: 4. # Att - 2. Dmg: 1-3. Aside from the usual characteristics of abyssal denizens (per the MM) he may cast Suggestion 1/day, Improved Phantasmal Force 2/day. He can implant false memories in others, a task which requires 1 full Turn of uninterrupted concentration, during which he must maintain line of sight with his victim. Save negates. He is building a small army, composed of the poor and dispossessed, who thanks to a whole lot of memory alteration, think him a reincarnated demi-god, capable of miraculous feats.

12. Baylam the Black - C2. Neutral-Evil. Hunted by the authorities, for fostering the cause of a blatantly forbidden deity, Baylam has no followers, no friends and sucks at begging, so he usually resorts to theft. Still has dreams of becoming an evil overlord.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In Which I Embark Upon a New Career

While engaged in starting a new post-divorce life, something occurred to me. Out of the several different things I've done to make a living, lo these many years, I enjoyed myself the most when I worked in the insurance field.

Yeah, that might sound strange. But the whole, convoluted mess of finance and esoteric formula can be rather fun. But, if I was going down that road, I wanted to do it right. And have the opportunity to help people, while doing so.

This afternoon, I was offered a position as a Life & Health insurance agent. Which, I'm accepting! I know quite a bit about Life & Health, Annuities, etc., already and I'm very familiar with how the business itself works. My prior time in insurance was on the underwriting side of things, so now I get to see how the other half lives.

My new boss and I really hit it off and seem to be on the same page. I like his style and approach to the insurance business and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to work with a gentleman, such as himself.

So. Phase II, complete. Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

This Week's Conan Pic - Conan Crucified!

I was loath to change that awesome pic of Conan and Belit, but when I found this little gem by Sanjulian, I decided it would be ok! As always, This Week's Conan Pic will be showcased in a widget on the left. A link to the full text of the story, courtesy of Project Gutenberg, is provided.

A Witch Shall Be Born isn't my favorite Conan story, but it does feature one of the most memorable passages in the series. Conan Crucified! And his savage battle, with the Vultures!

In his dulled ears sounded the louder beat of wings. Lifting his head he watched with the burning glare of a wolf the shadows wheeling above him. He knew that his shouts would frighten them away no longer. One dipped--dipped--lower and lower. Conan drew his head back as far as he could, waiting with terrible patience. The vulture swept in with a swift roar of wings.
R. E. Howard - A Witch Shall Be Born

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Black Blade/Usherwood Pub. OSRIC Imprint

ADDENDUM: The Black Blade website has an error and is quoting an inaccurate, overly high amount for shipping charges! Email Jon, address below, for a correct shipping quote. Priority mail to my address was $11.00, which may vary a bit, depending upon your location.

I'm reposting my pics of the Black Blade/Usherwood Publishing OSRIC imprint.

grodog had asked me if I could migrate the original post over, so he would have a ready reference to point folks towards, when they asked for some comparison pics. Unfortunately, I only recently found his request, which was made several months ago! Sorry! I hope this will still be of use.

A word, or two. The Black Blade/Usherwood version costs $26.00, which is a whole whopping .80 cents more than the Lulu version! The BB/U is thicker, wider, taller, has a sturdier binding and to quote Mr. Jon Hershberger:
-we've added additional art selections from John Bingham, Steve Robertson, Mark Allen, Peter FItzpatrick, Peter Mullen, Brian Thomas and Jim Holloway;
- Jason Zavoda's expanded index is four pages long, and there's now a two page index of tables and charts following the index; and
- we've upped the grade of paper for the book to 70# (not a sexy change to OSRIC, but it does add to the quality and the 'heft' of the book); the hardback OSRIC is going to weigh in at just over 3 pounds when it's done.
All of which is to say, as someone who owns both versions, I'd definitely buy the Black Blade/Usherwood edition!

What's more, it was packaged to withstand a nuclear explosion!

You'll need to email Jon if you want to purchase, as their checkout on the website isn't working. Shipping is via Priority Mail and Black Blade charges the actual shipping costs, so there ya go! :)

The pic compares the BB/UP version, on top, with the Lulu version, on the bottom.

Here's a side by side pic.

And a couple of pics showing one of the new pics, and then the snazzy red endpapers!

If you asked me what my favorite post TSR, RPG books is, I'd be hard pressed to come up with any one product. But, the Black Blade/Usherwood OSRIC imprint would be on my shortlist! It's all kinds of awesome and handsome as hell!

I Blame Michael Moorcock!

Neil Gaiman already snatched the perfect title for this Sub-Header

It's almost invariable. For almost 30 years, in almost every D&D campaign I've ever run.

The PC's end up travelling in time, or to another dimension, or plane, or another planet. Usually all of the above and on multiple occasions. Sometimes they come back. Sometimes, they never do.

I blame Michael Moorcock!

At 14 I was beginning my career as a DM, discovering Appendix N and shortly thereafter, scarfing up every Michael Moorcock novel I could find. For years, I named him my favorite author. He no longer holds quite so elevated a place in my literary pantheon, but I'll always love him for the Elric stories, the tales of Hawkmoon and most especially, The War Hound and the World's Pain. Still, while I appreciate authors whose work demands to be considered as a whole, instead of merely by its parts, I eventually tired of Mr. Moorcock. Feeling his work had become too derivative of itself, I still haven't read the last two Elric novels, The Skrayling Tree and The White Wolf's Son. I left off with The Dreamthief's Daughter.

As others have noticed,  I suspect that 14 is the perfect, or near perfect age to read Michael Moorcock. Perhaps, he's one of those authors, just subject to being outgrown.

That thought makes me a little sad.

Maybe I just have less patience for all the allegory, allusions and what-not. I've become... exhausted, when it comes to grappling with philosophical questions. Still, there's always been a belief in and hope for humanity, in Mr. Moorcock's work. I think I need to re-read him, through middle-aged eyes.

If you're going to steal ideas for your campaign, steal from the best!

All that trippy dimension-hopping and those Multiversal Conjuctions. The bizarre peoples, entities and worlds, were at the forefront of my Appendix N inner landscape. The Dark Ship and Prince Gaynor the Damned were only two of the ideas I swiped from Mr. Moorcock, for use in some campaign, or another. Foremost, I think, was the idea of frequent inter-dimensional and inter-planar travel.

It goes all the way back to my Kastmaria campaign. Around 4th level, the PC's traveled to an Ice Age world for a few hours, to rescue an absent-minded mage from his folly. They killed some cave-men and befriended a Silver Dragon, who was eager to escape its frozen hell and followed the PC's through the gate, back to their home world.

A few levels later, they accidentally ended up 150 years in the future and never went back. Then, there was the Bazaar, the city at the center of the Multi-verse (partially inspired by/swiped from Robert Asprin's Myth series as this was pre-Planescape.) They spent a lot of time off and on, there, having adventures, engaging in their war with the Magic-Users of Sorcerer's Isle. Saving the city from destruction, at one point, when a mad mage attempted to destroy the magical machinery that created the city's plane of existence.

Around 12th level, they went to an alternate Earth, where an evil Merlin released the Tarrasque on England, just to cover his tracks and rid himself of his failed attempt at creating a messiah, named King Arthur. At 14th, they took a 3 Turn trip to Avernus, to rescue that absent-minded mage again.

They went to a demi-plane to kill Merlin. King Balston was on some weird planar pocket, when he killed some weird, planar Dragon. I think Sir Alexian Balthafore was also in some weird, extra-dimensional space when he dueled with Pharj Mudast, all alone, at the end of the campaign.

Fortunately, he won! It would have sucked for Darren to end a campaign that spanned thousands of hours (Not 50, Mr. Mearls,) dying at the hand of his archenemy.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a few episodes.

"W" Interferes with my Plans

Decades later, in my long-running 3.x campaign, the PC's started on world A, quickly went to world B, ended up spending most of the campaign on world C, then, back to world B, but centuries before their first visit, for the last few sessions of the game.

Actually, its a bit more complex than that. That campaign was an amalgam of PC's from two different games, which became one campaign around 6th level, or so. All very convoluted and I'm too lazy to bother remembering exactly how that all came about, but  President George W. Bush's interference had a lot to do with it! He signed the order calling Josh back into service and shipped him off to Afghanistan for a year and a half, to fight terrorists.

I doubt that explaining to the President, that I needed Josh to fight orcs & dragons instead would have helped matters, so I didn't bother trying.

Oh, Shit! I Just Remembered!

The first branch of that campaign actually started in the Forgotten Realms! I have ran a published Campaign Setting! For about Two Sessions!!! I then, sent them elsewhere. I prefer discovering a milieu alongside my players. My psyche's intent, blazing a trail, far more fiery and personal than a published setting ever could be.

So, There's this Undead Apocalypse in The Black Mete

Well, what's gonna happen now? The PC's might have enough x.p. to make 3rd level. Might. Kinda doubt it. The civilized lands could muster about... 7,000 forces. Several Clerics. A few MU's. One Dragon would pitch in, to protect his investment. If, he absolutely has to!

Vs. 12k or so Zombies and Ghouls. That's tough. I'm thinking of breaking out Delta's Book of War. I owe him a review and wanted to make it a proper play-test.

I think a certain Lich is going to become involved. Still working out all the implications. The players want to do something. What can they do?

They need a few levels, I think. At least. Hmm...

You know...

I bet they would accept a quest, to find a way to stop all the undead madness. One giving them the opportunity to gain several levels.

Getting them out of the way for a little while, would work out pretty well. But, they need more time than that to gain some levels and prepare for what I've got brewing in the back of my mind.

Maybe the quest could take them to another world, for a while. Or, another plane. Or, backwards in time. Forwards?

My mind just wants to go there with it.

I blame Michael Moorcock!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Conan and the Cheap DM - Updated Repost

At the Underdark Gazette, I posted a series on running famous fantasy worlds, using only resources freely and legally available on the net. The first one was Conan and the Cheap DM, for which I later posted a 2nd part, after finding additional useful info.
I've consolidated those posts, updated the links and added a thing or two.

Conan and the Cheap DM: A Guide to Free Resources, for Running the Hyborian Age

A few years ago, the thought occurred to me that there were so many free resources available on the web, that enough material could be garnered to run several of the most famous fantasy worlds as RPG settings. So, with nothing better to do, I set about to see what all I could find. I started with R. E. Howard’s Hyborian Age and quickly found more than enough!

So, here’s a list of resources, for DM’s who might be interested in dropping a group of players into Conan’s world!

Our first stop, is Jason Vey’s Classic Edition Fantasy Resources Page. There, you will find his OD&D supplements: The Age of Conan and The Secrets of Acheron, as well as a DM screen for the set! These feature rules for running an OD&D campaign in the Hyborian Age and the main focus is on adapting the game to Howard’s setting. There’s not a lot of info on the milieu itself, but definitely of use. Contains an excerpt of Howard’s essay The Hyborian Age.

Next we come to The Hyborian Age page, by Thulsa. This site has everything you need! Gods, Demons, a Gazetteer and Maps! Plenty of Maps! Not to mention magic items, famous sorcerers and other personages. The crunch is d20, but if you’re playing an Old School game, it’s easy enough to make your own and truth to tell, you would probably prefer to anyway! The site also reproduces Howard’sThe Hyborian Age essay and a ton of other stuff I haven’t mentioned. Including rules for using Black Lotus!

Vincent Darlage’s Conan d20 site is another fantastic resource! Lots of info on important NPC’s and a ton of really, really cool Weird Tales artwork and covers!

I’m not sure how complete it is, but the Conan Wiki has a Gazetteer and more.Thulsa’s Gazetteer, above, looks to be far superior, but you still might find the Wiki useful. 

Speaking of Wiki’s, you might find the Age of Conan Wiki, to be worth your time. 

Amra the Lion has several goodies, including a Gazetteer, Maps, Audio of R. E. Howard Conan stories and more!

Mongoose Publishing has a free Map of the Hyborian Age available for download, here. Another version from Mongoose, can be found here.

For some scholarly information, you may find Mysteries of the Hyborian Age by Dale Rippke, to be inspiring.

This one looks fun! Someone put up the Hyborian Age Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe. It’s rather large and contains a ton of Marvel Pictures! For those who aren’t sticklers for purity, an excellent resource!

Hyborian War is an archive of an old Play-by-Mail game, which contains Kingdom Reports and what-not, which you may find useful. No idea if this is still going on or not. The various kingdom reports have some detailed maps of the regions and are in pdf format.

Dragonsfoot # 13 has an AD&D Conversion of Thulsa’s Tower of the Elephant adventure.

Conan: Savage Hyboria is a Savage Worlds Conan conversion, which might provide some useful tidbits.

Here's a Castles & Crusades fan made Conan Supplement by David Bell. I couldn’t find the hosting page, so it's a Direct Link. And here's a thread at the Troll Lord Games forums, with some more conversion work.

And check out Andrew Picciau’s page for his Hyborian Adventures True d20 supplement. A 34 page PDF. Also, there's a 16 page Bestiary, here. Not sure if it's by the same author, or not.

the venomous pao hosts a couple of BoL Hyborian Age adventures, written by G-Man.

Of course, Howard’s stories are the richest source of Hyborian knowledge. Scroll down this Project Guttenberg index, to find a ton of Kick-Ass R. E. Howard Adventures!

Another copy of R. E. Howard’s The Hyborian Age, at Manybooks. Read online, or download as a PDF. The Author’s Page for Mr. Howard, has more R.E.H. Goodness!

And if You Haven't Chosen a System, Yet...

There's always ZeFRS – The Retro-Clone of the rules from TSR’s old Conan RPG by David Cook. You can download it here.

Or, the free version of Barbarians of Lemuria, might just hit that sweet spot, system-wise!

Well, that was Easy!

There you go! Everything we need to run the Hyborian Age and then some!

Got any Hyborian Resources, I've missed? Leave a link in the comments!