Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mystic Bull Roundup: Upcoming and Curse of Cragbridge in Print!

My blogging has been sparse lately. In addition to various life challenges, I've been working hard on two new releases. Hoping to see these in print by the summer, but it's slow going.

The first is a DCC RPG sandbox setting in a fantasy late-classical Japan. I've blogged about it before and I even have a lot of alpha material over in its own collection. I'm at the point where I'm running playtests -- testing and iterating -- so I think I'm close on that one. I'm collaborating with +David Fisher on this one.

In keeping with the chanbara theme, I'm working through a product for Swords & Wizardry called Lady Snowbird, set in the final death throes of the samurai era -- 1800's. The concept is based on a lot of the samurai cinema you've seen and loved -- peasants and disaffected samurai off on bloody roads of vengeance. I'm going back an forth on the system -- it's ideally suited for both DCC and Lamentations of the Flame Princess. But, Swords & Wizardry Whitebox is so damned easy to develop with. It may end up with versions of all three. I'll be playtesting some initial concepts (classes, mostly) in the next few weeks. Hit me up on Google+ if you're interested. 

Other than that, I have a stack of pre-approved projects for DCC. I have a mega-dungeon that I will someday finish (Curse of Cragbridge was the intro, actually). Finding the time is the issue at the moment. My focus has been on the two projects above for the last few months. 

In other news, the Curse of Cragbridge is now available in print for both Swords & Wizardry and DCC RPG. Go pick that up -- it's a steal at $6.50 for the print version, and includes the PDF. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Swords & Wizardry: The Curse of Cragbridge

The Swords & Wizardry ruleset has always been a favorite OSR flavor of mine. I've run a thief named Samuil Marco in +Jason Sholtis' Operation Unfathomable game for years now.

Here's ole' Sam, the semi-ex-junkie, planescaphe pilot, and the co-boss of a gang of thugs called the Axe of Douches. As envisioned by Chris Brandt (another player in the game) and Jason, himself.

Sam had some issues with some chaos stuff (thus his eyes are full of stars and his hair dances on end and flashes in psychedelic colors). I think Jason always forgets that Sam managed to wrest a magical trident from some big bad that we critted/backstabbed to death in one round. The trident auto-hits once per day for max damage. Sam's a thief. It's really ugly.

Art by +Jason Sholtis 
Art by +Chris Brandt 

Anyway -- I've played a lot of White Star by +James Spahn - which is sci-fi action based on the Swords and Wizardry Whitebox version of the rules. But you probably already knew that. You might not know that I wrote a couple things for White Star -- You can see them on the right there. Couple of one-pagers and a full adventure set in a futuristic early World War II.

All that to say, that S&W is a great ruleset. So easy to write for. So simple to run. I originally published The Curse of Cragbridge as a Labyrinth Lord adventure, but recently converted it over to DCC RPG. I had conceived the adventure as bringing the DCC RPG conceit to Labyrinth Lord/OD&D-esque rulesets. The original monsters, strange magic, and other weirdness with DCC RPG has always been the way I played and run my D&D games. Because, if I have to fight another goblin, stirge or giant rat, I'm going to off myself.

So, here's The Curse of Cragbridge for Swords & Wizardry.

This version has the same fantastic cover by +Gennifer Bone,  great interior art from +Jason Sholtis +Wayne Snyder as well as some additional art by Jacob Blackmon, Malcolm McClinton and Gary Dupis.

I hope you enjoy it and please let me know what you think!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Within the depths of Cragbridge, Horrors Await....

A couple of years ago, I wrote a Labyrinth Lord adventure called the Curse of Cragbridge. My intention with it was to take the same conceits as DCC RPG -- unique monsters, weird magic, and a doomed location -- back to the more hardcore OSR rulesets. My goal was always to bring it BACK to DCC, and it took a lot longer than I expected. Along the way, my home group played in it and I ran +Alex Perucchini+Tim Other and +Anthony Fournier through a bit of it online. Did the same with +Brenda Wolfe +Marc Bruner and +Tony Hogard at a local game store.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be adding some free content to support Cragbridge, including a couple of spells and the default mini-campaign setting that I used for playtest. Cragbridge was always intended to be the beginning of a mega-dungeon -- and I've written a lot of content for it. When will that see the light of day? That's up to you, gentle reader. If you like it, then I'll keep going. If you don't, I'll be weeping in the corner with a bottle of rot gut talking about how I used to be an RPG designer before I took an arrow to the heart...

Anyway, I finally got everything together, including cover art by +Gennifer Bone, interiors by +Wayne Snyder and +Jason Sholtis, as well as some additional art by Jacob Blackmon, Malcolm McClinton and Gary Dupis. I did the map, and I have no apologies. So, here it is.

As always, I hope you enjoy it, and I'd love to hear your feedback.

The Curse of Cragbridge, DCC Edition. 

Friday, January 01, 2016

The Bog God's Champion -- Free DCC RPG Adventure

Happy new year, and happy new free adventure!

The Bog God's Champion is an adventure for 1st - 3rd level characters and embroils the characters in the machinations of some of the patrons featured in our Patron Monday entries. To whit: Myrddin (the bog god), AKAS and the vile Nazhghad.

Cover art is by +David Fisher -- his illustration of Myrddin's icon.

The Bog God's Champion

Monday, December 28, 2015

Patron Monday: Entorpus

Like this one... by David Fisher
Another patron for +David Fisher's campaign -- this time I wrote it, though he conceived it. The idea of the relationship of entropy to heat loss/transfer was interesting to me. So, credit a lot of this to wikipedia and other reading.

David did all the art...


Thursday, December 24, 2015

DCC RPG Class: The Charlatan

Still loving Black Powder Black Magic by the guys over at Stormlord (+Eric Hoffman +Carl Bussler.) The Brave was the first class I dipped my toe in with. Now I present the Charlatan: part stage magician, part snake-oil salesman, and all hustler.

In addition to a few skills, the charlatan learns one "spell" per level that he or she can mimic with distraction, chemistry and the "belief" of the mark.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

The Charlatan

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Playing Star Wars with White Star

We had planned a night of gaming with some friends I hadn't played with in a while. These guys only get to game about once a year, which is tragic to me. I have an ongoing D&D B/X game running at home. We alternate between in-person games at the house and online games via Google+ and Roll20 -- just depends on whether my middle son is in town or back in Kansas. I had planned to break that out, start the guys at the Keep and let them hex-crawl their way through the evening. 

Then The Force Awakens happened. I hadn't even planned on seeing it until after Christmas, but the doom and gloom of long lines and crowded theaters just didn't materialize everywhere, and we snuck into a pleasantly packed theater on Thursday night before the official opening -- barely had to stand in line... it was weird. 

Anyway, like most of you, I immediately wanted to run Star Wars again. I never played the d6 version, but my kids' first RPG experience was Star Wars d20 -- it ended up being easier to introduce to younger children because they had a firm basis in the world and the capabilities of the characters. Plus, I mean, it's Star Wars. 

Of course, I had about 48 hours to game time. There was no way I was running d20 Star Wars. Hadn't looked at it in years. But, I had White Star by +James Spahn  and a scenario I had started for another campaign using the Graveyard at Lus by +Jason Paul McCartan. I spent an evening making modifications to that scenario and tracking down maps for various Star Wars ships. Spent another evening thinking about characters -- I pre-genned since I knew that would take time from gaming for these guys. So, in this post, I'll talk about characters for Star Wars using the White Star system. 

In future posts, I'll talk about the scenario, building the party ship and other ships, the Force, and finally talk about how the scenario played out. Short answer is that the players really enjoyed the simple system and how complex their interactions with the world could be -- without a lot of mechanics to weigh down gameplay. 

White Star is Whitebox Swords & Wizardry at its core, but James did a great job of building a generic sci-fi version of that ruleset. It leans heavily toward space opera (and Star Wars) with its "Star Knight" class, the "Way" and "Void Knights." I wasn't planning on running a "Prequel" style adventure, focusing heavily on Jedi and Sith. I much prefer the Dark Times of the original trilogy, with more common heroes affected by the machinations of larger forces, including their own destinies.

The other classes: Pilot, Mercenary, and Aristocrat are perfectly generic templates to build these types of "normal folks" of the Star Wars galaxy. I'd also already created a Smuggler class for my Galaxy Wars 1939 campaign (over here in the first issue of Radiotapes Intercept #1) -- it's basically the thief class for whitebox with a bit of a interstellar merchant and scoundrel about it.

What I wanted, though, was a little more specificity to the archetypes in the Star Wars universe. So, I took each one of the classes and added an "occupation" of sorts, that gave the characters a couple of extra skills relevant to the universe and the adventure. 

For instance, here's the two Smuggler characters -- the pilot and co-pilot/mechanic. Both are
smugglers, but with pilot abilities. 

I took the Aristocrat class and built a Merchant, Doctor, and Archaeologist -- all with similar "professional" abilities, but based on the Aristocrat class. Adding a "assess value" type skill for all three of them like I did with the Smuggler base class. I built the soldier directly off of the mercenary class -- just a couple of added spices for flavor.

I left the Species up to the players, so we had an Ewok mechanic, a couple humans, and one player who decided to play a "narwhal." We had no idea what that would look like, but a fat, humanoid narwhal she was. And since her character was female, it didn't have a horn... which seemed more convenient all around. 

I don't know if this complicates something that could just be emergent in play, but for the actual game I was setting up, I wanted the players to have the time to play without having to spend a lot of time before play developing character archetype concepts. The scenario I'd built was essentially a salvage mission, with the Pilot, Co-pilot and Merchant each owning a third of the ship, with the others being hired guns. I threw in a wild card character -- a "fringer" who's profession was mining. I really liked this catch-all class, as a concept, in the d20 Star Wars system, though I don't know that it was implemented all that well. 

You might also notice that I'm using a "Skill" -- this is a simple system similar to the Saving Throw to resolve actions that matter -- repair something under fire, resolve a tense negotiation, etc. I don't know if I'll keep it, but it was interesting to play around with it. I love the single Saving Throw, and I had been using that to resolve critical actions, but I felt like it made an actual saving throw against seriously deadly or weird attacks too mundane if I used the same mechanic for other critical actions. I'll talk more about the Skill Roll when I talk about the actual play. 

Next post, I'll talk about the scenario -- developed from Jason's excellent Graveyard at Lus resource.