Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Patron Monday (ish): Yephriel, the Iron Champion

I started this patron-a-week experiment two weeks ago... unfortunately, I haven't held to my schedule due to life-y kinda things. Anyway. Here's the second one. Not on Monday.

I also talked about patron generation methods -- a "process" to at least generate some ideas for invoke patron (and even spell) results over here and here.

Back when we were writing Angels, Daemons and Beings Between, Daniel and I were contemplating not just "lawful" patrons, but patrons of right and good. I came up with a couple, and Daniel's made it into the book: Lavariel, Angel of the Temple -- friggin' awesome lawful/good patron. I never finished either one of mine, but now I have.

Yephriel is directly inspired by a combination of the Colossus of Rhodes (in addition to being one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, it's also the subject of an interesting book by L. Sprague De Camp -- the Bronze God of Rhodes), the Iron Giant (because he's awesome), and general interest in
giant death-dealing robots.

Another little experiment with this one -- What if the particulars of the patron caused additional effects, both helpful and not so helpful, when spellburning? Dunno. Have a look see. Try it out. And as always, let me know what you think.

Yephriel, the Iron Champion

Monday, November 02, 2015

Patron Monday: Myrddin, Spirit of the Pits

Way back near the beginning of DCC RPG, I wrote a book with +Daniel Bishop called Angels, Daemons and Beings Between. I don't link the book here because, even though I'm proud of our work, I'm not going to enrich a publisher that left his customers high and dry. It was a book of patrons for DCC, and it was a lot of damn work. Rewarding work, but a lot of work, all the same. I wrote... fifteen patrons for that book, of which only a few made it in. There had been talk of a second book, but the publisher flaked, folks were pissed and so it goes.

About a year ago, I was resolved to publish another patron book, both as an apology to the folks that got stiffed and in order to do something with all this damn content I wrote. That fell through in maddening fashion before it ever got off the ground. So, here I am, a stack of patron content and no where to put it.

And thus, you benefit.

I may throw all of these into a single free PDF eventually, or not. Otherwise, you should see... about 22 patrons over the next 22 weeks or so.

I was contemplating "classes" of patrons while writing the first book. Not all patrons are all-powerful entities with universe-spanning powers. Some are local petty gods, spirits and demons with limited influence and power. These patrons are eager to see their influence grow through their cultists, and thus also may have certain secret rituals and artifacts that enhance or expand their power beyond their current limited range.

Myrddin was an example of a Minor Patron -- one with a limited geographic influence, only a few invoke patron results, no granted spells, etc.

As always, let me know what you think of this one. My goal is to publish one a week -- on Monday. Stay tuned for other weekly content (probably on Friday).

Myrddin, Spirit of the Pits (PDF)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

DCC RPG Class: The Brave

I got to play some Black Powder; Black Magic with +Noah Stevens a couple of weeks ago, and this class just came to me. A kind of warrior/cleric mix -- holy warrior without the spells, essentially. I have no idea who the Hollow Men are, but it sounded cool.

Looking forward to continuing to play in the world that +Eric Hoffman and +Carl Bussler conceived. You should definitely check out the 'zine, if you haven't, over on OBS: Issue 1; Issue 2.

The Brave

A warrior of the tribe, you run through the tangled eastern forests, slide down the dry choke canyons of the west or gallop astride your pony on the central plains. Your courage is unmatched and with a weapon or not, your enemies quail against your mighty war cry. The spirits guide your steps through the shadowed lands, where you seek out the Hollow Men – those that have died but yet wander. 

Hit Points: A brave gains 1d8 hit points at each level. At 1st level, a brave gains 2d8 hit points.

Weapon Training: Braves can use any melee weapon, as well as bows, pistols and long rifles. 

Alignment: Braves are typically Lawful, being seekers of the damned in the dark places of America. Those that have succumbed to the predations of evil embrace Chaos. 

Hunter of Evils: Braves seek out creatures cursed by the spirits. Demons, undead, unnatural beasts all are their enemies. When fighting these creatures, braves add a Deed Die to their attack, can execute Mighty Deeds and have an increased chance of scoring a critical hit on these creatures. Additionally, braves can track these creatures through spoor and scent.

Mighty Deed of Arms: Braves may use any Mighty Deed of Arms against opponents unholy to the spirits. In addition, they have a special Mighty Deed that drives away the evil creature(s).  

Repel Unholy
The brave’s force of will and skill at arms can affect the morale of creatures considered unholy to the spirits. If a successful hit and deed is rolled, the unholy creature struck receives damage as per the Mighty Deed and must make a Will save (DC 9+deed result) or be affected as described below. Others that may be affected for higher deed results make the same saving throw.

Initiative: When fighting against unholy creatures, braves add their level to the initiative roll.

Luck: A brave’s Luck bonus is applied to his or her attack roll against Unholy creatures.

Action Dice: A brave uses his Action Dice for attack rolls and skill checks.  

* Deed Die and increased threat range apply only to unholy opponents. 

Monday, October 05, 2015

Radiotapes Intercept #1 -- More Stuff for your OSR Sci-Fi Game


You may have noticed our recent obsession with the White Star(TM) RPG, a fantastic OSR-based sci-fi core rulebook by +James Spahn. There have been a number of great resources to come out of James' Compatibility License: Graveyard at Lus by +Jason Paul McCartan, several resources by +Chuck Thorin, Drongo by +Mark Hunt, and many others.

We threw our hat in the ring with a couple of one-page adventures, Bug Hunt and Last Transmission, set in a retro sci-fi setting just prior to World War II. We followed that up with an official Galaxy Wars 1939 adventure, Legacy of the Oros.

We introduced the campaign world without a lot of background or rules, because we feel like that such things should emerge during play. Legacy of the Oros was intended to be an introduction to that world, with support on this blog. We've posted a few articles related to the campaign -- The Spy character class (which is usable in any White Star(TM) or OSR sci-fi setting) and some clarification on the level of technology and FTL.

Now we present a free (as in beer) 'zine called Radiotapes. This is intended to collect rules, classes, new psionic powers and even a few adventures, as we get to them. While some of the content is focused on the Galaxy War 1939 campaign, the majority is usable in any White Star(TM) or OSR sci-fi game.

Take a look at Radiotapes Intercept #1 and let us know what you think. We also have it in 2-up and Booklet format.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Legacy of the Oros is Live!

Greetings from the ball turret of my Vickers space transport. 

Our first Galaxy War 1939 adventure, Legacy of the Oros is published. Click the image to purchase at OBS.

And check out this free preview!  Including the Disciple, a new character class. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Swords & Wizardry & One Ring & Darkest Dungeon

Our regular Sunday night White Star game didn't make last night, so I had to come up with something quickly for +Brenda Wolfe and +Jesse Wolfe. They won't let me rest if we don't game on Sunday. I had about 20 minutes to decide what to do. I'd spent Saturday re-organizing my gaming bookshelf, and forgot that I had the One Ring RPG. When I got it a few months ago, I flipped through it and decided against running it -- the system looks neat, but learning, then teaching a new system to gamers that are fairly casual didn't seem like something I wanted to spend time on at the time. And on Sunday night, I certainly didn't have time to teach it. We had probably 2 hours before everyone had to get to bed. But, my eyes lingered on the book and I made a quick decision: We're going to use the setting and D&D Rules Cyclopedia. We can do this.

 I've never run a game in Middle-Earth, but have enjoyed the books since I was 12. They were the first books I read to Jesse and he's very familiar with the movies, so there's a good precedent. Brenda read them for the first time when she was pregnant with +Lukas Wolfe. She used to walk a couple of miles every day, so she'd read them while she walked -- and she loved them. Decision made. Everyone knows BX D&D and everyone loves Middle-Earth.

I skimmed the introductory adventure - seemed pretty simple -- Balin and Oin (yes that Balin and that Oin) were off delivering an invitation to the King of the Eagles for the annual gathering of the Five Armies, but they had never arrived at their destination. Gloin (yes, that Gloin) was worried and put out a call for adventurers to track down what happened to them.

Zithras, apprentice mage and the hulking warrior Shren responded, got the low down from Balin and even needled out of him that he feared that the Elvenking may have the two dwarfs in his dungeons again. Zithras, being a wily sort, even got out of the old dwarf that he feared for his brother's life because of a prophetic dream of the younger dwarf drowning in dark waters.

The two set out  out to equip for the journey. While asking around in the local Lake-Town inn about the river path and other helpful information, they attracted four likely assistants. The boatman, Danel, weary of his boring life, Mara and Frazen, woman-and-man-at-arms respectively, and the hunched and stringy haired Gorin, a scholar of the secret ways and powers of the world. Equipped and fresh-faced, the party set out for the Stair of Girion and the boatman village, for portage down the falls. After a long day across the lake, the party spent a festive evening with the boatmen, teasing out clues to the dangers ahead in the Long Marshes.
We had to break for the evening because everyone had to be up early, but the players seemed to enjoy the two hours of basic interactive role-playing. A little bit of dicing, but no combat.

I took the One Ring books to bed with me and read through character creation again, thinking maybe we could run the system. Again, I thought it was too complicated to get without having ever played it -- and then teach it to my players, especially when we have only a couple of hours a week to game. But, it got me thinking. There are interesting and unique concepts to the Middle-Earth milieu. The threat of the "shadow" or corruption of all mortal things and how the Enemy exploits that. The concept of Hope as a mechanic to fight against corruption. And the stress of travel, fighting, killing, seeing death and destruction, strange magicks and foul beasts. It immediately reminded me of Darkest Dungeons -- but also, the designer did a fine job of capturing the idea of the adventurer as just a regular person facing all these horrors, with only his or her own will against the chaos.

I thought about this all day, and in my spare moments, jotted down how it could work in a B/X system. It just didn't fit. But Swords and Wizardry... I've been doing a lot of development and gaming with White Star, which is S&W Whitebox based and I thought it was a better fit. Beyond that, S&W Complete, with it's AD&D classes made a lot more sense in Middle-Earth, as well. Middle-Earth is low magic, but I saw a way to limit Magic-Users and other spellcasters with the shadow/corruption idea.

This is what I came up with as a start.

Shadow and Hope

Characters gain shadow points, which accumulate through fear, exposure to powerful magicks, great hoards, horrible monsters, tragedies, and other calamities. Shadow points inch characters closer to corruption. Shadow points can be burned by GM against the character to trigger fumbles and other unfortunate calamities. If Shadow points equals or exceeds hope, certain beings, items and situations cause characters to temporarily lose their minds. In addition, the character must make a Saving Throw or receive an affliction (see below).

Shadow points can be reduced by GM burn, rest in a safe place, magical healing, good things happening, etc. Additionally, shadow points are accumulated by spellcasters in two ways: Any spellcaster can take a Shadow point per level of the spell and cast that spell beyond their allotted number of spells per day. Anytime a magic-user attempts to learn a spell, he or she must make a Saving Throw, or accumulate 1 Shadow point per level of the spell.

Hope is the average of Int/Wis/Chr as a base score. Hope can be used similar to Luck in DCC -- 1 point of luck per point added to any roll. 2 points of Hope allows you to re-roll any roll. Three points of Hope allow you to roll two dice and take the best result.

Stress reduces Hope, as well. Hunger, fatigue, certain weather, getting lost, death or serious injury in the party, betrayal, etc. In these instances, the character must make a Saving Throw or lose some number of Hope, depending on the situation.

Successes increase Hope: Critical hits, defeating an enemy with HD > than the party average level, Every 1000 XP. Hope gained in this way cannot exceed the character's maximum. Hope increases each level and certain magicks or other effects can increase total Hope.

Afflictions occur when Shadow equals or exceeds Hope and a Saving Throw is failed. The Affliction is temporary -- the character makes a Save each day with a penalty/bonus depending on the Shadow/Hope level. If a character is afflicted and receives another affliction, the second affliction is permanent until magically healed or the character has a full week of rest in a safe locale. A Saving Throw is made daily after the first week with the same penalty/bonus based on the Shadow/Hope level. There are debilitating afflictions and "virtues" which present as beneficial, but give the GM an opportunity to force a character's hand.


  • Paranoid -- Cannot heal shadow with rest; -2 saves vs illusions, 1/day, forced to refuse aid from party member.(GM activated with Shadow point burn)
  • Coward -- -2 to attacks when party outnumbered or outclassed (HD), -2 to saves against fear, When at 1/2 hit points, attacks at -4. 1/day Character forced to flee from danger (GM activated with Shadow point burn)
  • Selfish -- -2 to Shadow checks when character has something to gain; -2 to saves against area attacks, 1/day refuses to assist another party member (GM activated with Shadow point burn)
  • Irrational -- ??? not sure yet, -2 to saves against poisons; 1/day performs random action when faced with a stressful situation (as a Confusion spell) (GM activated with Shadow point burn)
  • Hopeless -- Shadow point accumulation doubled; -2 saves against diseases; 1/day Character's ennui causes a Shadow Saving Throw for the whole party ((GM activated with Shadow point burn)
  • Abusive -- Acts last in combat; -2 saves against shadow creatures effects; 1/day Character's abusive attitude causes a Shadow Saving Throw for the whole party ((GM activated with Shadow point burn)
  • Greedy -- Attacks enemy with the most valuable gear; -2 saves against treasure-based shadow (dragon fever); 1/day Attempts to steal from another party member ((GM activated with Shadow point burn)


  • Powerful -- Damage +2; Saves +2 vs mind control; Shadow points can't be reduced
  • Courageous -- Shadow -2; Taking damage for another character reduces everyone's Shadow by 2; Must fight the most powerful enemy. 
  • Stalwart -- Shadow total halved; +2 to saves against affliction/corruption; Must stand and fight, last man standing
  • Vigorous -- Heal 1 HD; +2 saves versus disease/poison; Gains x2 Stress
  • Focused -- +2 to attack; Critical hit on 19; Saves +2 vs shadow creatures; Surprised on a 1-3

So, that may be too complicated, but I wanted to try it out. It definitely changes the D&D dynamic -- great hoards of treasure have the potential to corrupt. It provides consequences for murder-hobo actions. Codifying it with rules and things may not fit the S&W style. We'll see. I'm still mining One Ring for some other stuff, as well.

I have some ideas for alternate XP methods -- more "story awards" and roleplaying bonuses. +Brenda Wolfe 's character told a story by the lake-men's campfire, so I awarded her 100 XP. Nothing too innovative -- I've done this a bit in the past, but I think it may be critical here.

We played another short session tonight with the new rules. More on that later...

Monday, September 14, 2015

Galaxy War 1939: The Legacy of the Oros Preview

My first White Star compatible product is inching ever closer to release. I've changed the name of the thing three or four times, and may end up changing it again. What hasn't changed is the awesome cover art that +James Shields painted up for me. I've been futzing with the layout and composition (two words I barely understand, frankly). But I got a blessing from some folks that I trust, so here's the preview.

And to stay committed to posting gameable content to this blog, here's a further preview -- the typical Nazi patrol with its Light Hover Support Vehicle.

Weltkriegsmarine Squad (6)

AC: 5 [14]; HD: 1+1; hp: 6 each; Atk: Kar98k Rifle (1d6+1); or Grenade (3d6/2d6) SV: 18; MV: 12; Possessions: Medium armor, Kar98k Rifle, 3 grenades, 15 rounds ammunition; HDE/XP: 1/15

Weltkriegsmarine are the standard combat troops of the Deutschstern Reich. They are typically equipped with standard rifles, grenades and medium armor. Squads are composed of five individuals led by a Rottenf├╝hrer, or squad leader. Platoons (6 squads) are led by a Sturmscharf├╝hrer or platoon leader. These leaders have maximum hit points.

Art by ME! 

Sd.Kfz. 2250

Light Hover Support Vehicle

AC 4 [15]; HP 20; MV 15; Target +0; Atk MG34 machinegun (2d6; ROF 3) [crew-operated]; Other Equipment: Short wave radio; Crew: Driver and gunner (as Weltkriegsmarine above)

The Sd.Kfz 2250 is an armored hover vehicle used to provide fire and communications support for patrols of weltkriegsmarine in the rough highlands of Churchill IV. Though lightly armored, the vehicle takes no damage from light weapons. A squad of troops can ride on the back and sides of the vehicle, though it only provides a modicum of cover.