Friday, September 09, 2016

The Daemons are Released!

I'm late on this one, but I wanted to trumpet the continued accomplishments of my co-authors on my second professional RPG project: +Daniel Bishop and +David Fisher.

Way back when, we got together with another fellow (who will not be named) and funded an indiegogo campaign for a book of DCC RPG patrons. Months (years) later, all of the rewards had yet to be delivered by the unnamed fellow. No one knows why -- maybe he over-promised without knowing how much things would cost, or maybe there was some "crowdfunding curse" involved (you know... every undelivered crowdfunding effort spurns some tragedy, madness, or otherwise will of the gods that prevent delivery), or maybe he planned to use the money for something else entirely. From my perspective, I only felt bad because these new friends of mine that plopped down their hard-earned gold pieces for some treasure that I'd had a part in, never got what they paid for. (Full disclosure, the unnamed fellow never fully settled up with me, either).

Anyway -- all that bad stuff behind us -- the badass David Fisher managed to get the license for the physical version of Angels, Daemons and Beings Between. And, along with some new content from me, Daniel and David, Mr. Fisher created an awesome new cover image for the book -- Dagon!

The important thing is, there are three versions of this book -- the hardcover, with Dagon, the softcover with Dagon, and the "classic" cover -- Hecate, also in softcover. I personally am not a "collect them all" kind of guy, but the great thing is, you have options -- the softcovers are a bit cheaper than the hardcover, and you have the variety of covers to choose from.

The main reason I mention this is that it's not readily apparent on OBS that there's three different versions.... Anyway -- here they are:

Hardcover Dagon version
Softcover Dagon version
Softcover Hecate version
Enjoy, and as always, let us know what you think of the book.

Monday, September 05, 2016

The Battle of Ravencrest Keep -- Dumb-assed Mass Combat for your B/X, OSR Games

Lusted for this book at aged 14-19
I'm a boring fucking gamer. It's true. When I was a kid, I had the following books/supplements for D&D/AD&D: Basic Set (Moldvay), AD&D Player's Handbook, AD&D Monster Manual, and (eventually) AD&D Fiend Folio. By the time I toodled off to the Army, I had Oriental Adventures, the "Survival Guides" and Unearthed Arcana -- basically trading in my McDonalds and Wal-Mart paychecks for D&D stuff. Never had a DMG. Had a couple of modules (I3-6 and some Dragonlance, which I never played or ran).

In most of that time, I had Keep on the Borderlands as the sole module for gaming fun. If I didn't write it, we were playing at the Keep. It's still one of my favorite modules, not because it's so well written or anything, but because it's completely open-ended and detailed enough that you can take it and make it your own.

For the last four or five years, I've run a home game with the Keep as a centerpiece. I've run this area with AD&D, B/X, Castles and Crusades, Rules Cyclopedia and DCC RPG. The campaign area contains +Greg Gillespie's Barrowmaze Complete content -- towns and the Barrowmaze -- as well as some elements of the U1-3 series, T1-4 series, B3, B4, B5, A1-4, +Michael Curtis' Stonehell dungeon  etc. And a healthy helping of stuff that I've developed (and the characters have never gotten to... to my dismay).

Total KotBL Nerd... I admit it.
But always, the Keep is the centerpiece. It's usually where the characters start. The reason, I think (thinking psychologically) is because MY characters always started at the Keep. Whether I was running a game for my sister and her best friend (they were halfling thieves that were more concerned with shopping for Member's Only jackets than adventuring), my Dad and my uncle (my Dad still gripes about how the Provisioner tried to chisel him on torches), or myself... yes, I admit it -- I was a masturbatory gamer. I solo'ed Keep on the Borderlands and later the I3-6 series...several times. In case it wasn't obvious, I lived in the sticks and my gaming circle often numbered in the single digits (often the number was less than 2 and more than 0).

Great adventure, even though it's 2nd Edition! 
Anyway, I digress. My cousin suggested that we get a game together on Saturday (he was the first person I gamed with back in 1982 with the Moldvay Basic the Keep on the Borderlands -- hey +Mike W. Erwin why did you kill the "traders" again?). He was sick of the 1st -> Dead slog that the home game is often plagued with. We went to see Star Trek on Wednesday and he dropped that he wants to play 12th level characters. So, I should "come up with something." Fucker. Of course, I was like "sure, buddy. No sweat."

I combed through my collection - looking for the perfect one-shot 12th level adventure. Yeah -- don't. It doesn't exist. I was all set to run Mud Sorcerer's Tomb by Mike Shel (Dungeon Magazine #37). I read through it and I wasn't totally sold. I dug through Dungeon Mags until I found Kingdom of the Ghouls (Dungeon Magazine #70) by  +Wolfgang Baur.  This adventure is...interesting. True ghouls. A "human centipede" undead battering ram. Drow, Ilithids and other powerful underworlders on the run from a marauding ghoul army. Fun.
bother looking.

Then I realized something about the home campaign.

One of the parties early on had gone to a lonely barrow near Ravencrest Keep (KotBL) and found a black metal sword. Later, they'd traveled to Barrowmaze and released Varghoulis, the Death Knight. Who promptly took the sword from the cold dead hands of a 2nd level character and marched his undead army off to the north -- stopping at the Temple of Evil Chaos (Area K) to subjugate the evil clerics there to the worship of Nergal. Then, his army proceeded off to a little known shrine of the Cock God to resurrect the fucker.

Tada! Merge. Squish. Develop an on-the-fly mass combat system. BAM! I had the game.

So, the situation was that fifteen 12th level characters are alerted through various means that the undead are on the rise in the area of the borderlands -- big bad juju is on the way. A quick hit through Wizard Dawn B/X Character Generator got me the characters. A three hour development session got me a mass combat system with PC interaction built in.

BAM!  Ghoul armies led by True Ghouls, and bolstered with Flying Ghouls, zombies and Damned
No skeletons in this one, but cool image; Don't search for human centipede...
Undead Battering Rams attacked. I had ghouls climbing out of a sinkhole in the keep plaza. Ghouls coming through the western wall in the inner keep, and the main gate and inner gatehouse in ruins by the end.

There were a few hitches (I kept forgetting to hit one of the wizards with an individual attack, in order to disrupt a well-placed Wall of Fire spell) -- but the game was a success. The players were begging for more. Also, the Wall of Fire spell really sucks in B/X. And Dispel Evil is really powerful!

But, alas, my beloved Keep on the Borderlands lies in ruin. Only 13 of the original keep defenders remained -- including the Castellan and a few of his lieutenants -- and seven F1 men-at-arms (I managed to kill three of the 12th level characters). With the remaining residents of the keep now refugees heading for Ironguard Motte, the fate of the keep and the characters hangs in the balance.  +Brenda Wolfe  (ever the mercenary) thinks that the keep now belongs to the characters... she still doesn't understand the political situation...but she soon will. A gaping hole to the underworld lies open in the main keep plaza (where the fountain used to be) -- beckoning for the characters to find the source of the ghoulish invasion.

Anyway, all that to say that I have a mass combat system that seemed to work pretty well. It was inspired partially by Kingdom of the Ghouls (thanks +Wolfgang Baur!) but modified to be a bit more detailed, account for PC individual actions, and have a more squad-level feel.

And here it is -- let me know if you use it and if you have edits. I think it worked out pretty well, but I'll let you be the judge.

Dumb-Assed Easy Mass Combat Rules for B/X and Other OSR Games

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Gamer ADD Wins Again

For me it strikes when I see a thing -- a movie, a blog post, an image... or read a book. And then, I'm in the throes of it. Regardless of the intensity of the latest RPG project that's sitting on my desk waiting for completion, I can't resist the draw. 

So in my first post since February, I will appropriately discuss some of the ADD that's seized my attention (and prevented blog posts...among other things). 

Whitebox Hacks for Various Things

It's a system you can't resist tinkering with. 

The Princess Blade

I have a late-Tokugawa Japanese thing... I may have mentioned it before. While I was unemployed earlier this year, I did what every good unemployed bum should do: Spent my unemployment monies on liquor, GaryCon, and fancy clothes and laid around the house watching Samurai movies. Lady Snowblood did it for me -- I immediately embarked on The Princess Blade -- A Chanbara hack for Whitebox S&W. Probably a mini-game, but I've got so much written for this thing, that I can resist releasing it either as an actual product or just a free-fun thing. Chanbara-style RPG'ing has always had a special place in my heart. I'll post a few things from the manuscript later this week. 

Twilight 1948

I blame +Eric Hoffman for this one. I've had a semi-developed WWII setting since the early 2000's, and never got to run/play it for anyone. It's based on the Jedburgh missions, late-1944 in Occupied France. There's an alternate history twist once the initial stage of the campaign unfolds that tries to mimic the look/feel of Twilight 2000, but with WWII-era equipment and political situations. The Amazon series Man in a High Castle didn't help me resist this one. I'm running a playtest with +Alex Perucchini+Jason Sholtis+Jason Hobbs+Cody Mazza and the aforementioned Hoffman. The rules are dead simple from the player's perspective. From the GM's it's a toolbox for building a mission-based sandbox in occupied enemy territory. I think it may be portable to different genres, and I liberally stole from +Paolo Greco's ideas with Gangs & Bullshit (further inspiration while at GaryCon. 


It's my system of love at the moment. Natural fits here. 

Dark Ages of DCC

I did a thing because someone else did a thing (scroll down to Dark Ages D&D posts. Fucker. I immediately re-tooled the Seven Saxons -- old d20 adventure by Bad Axe Games -- to a DCC funnel extravaganza for my invading Viking 0-levels. 

From there, I let it lie a bit, but now I'm back consuming research materials and writing. More stuff on this one to come. I'll post some of my stuff on this one. It's going to be fun, I think. I'm thinking a West Marches style recurring game online, if I can swing it. More news later. 

In-Flight Actual Projects

And I still have Ketsuin, the DCC-ified fantasy version of a late-classical era Japan. +David Fisher is hard at work on art for it. Expect an announcement soon. 

And the re-tool of Angels, Daemons and Beings Between. But you already knew about that one. 

So, gamer ADD has me in its clutches, in addition to a weekly B/X game, a weekly DCC game, and a bi-weekly Operation Unfathomable game (Whitebox S&W with a +Jason Sholtis twist). But, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Great day to be alive and a gamer! 

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