Showing posts from 2010

Buon Anno: Looking ahead to 2011

So, it's the very tip of the tail end of 2010 and instead of reflect on 2010 (which was a pretty good year), I want to look ahead to 2011. I've really started to give myself a kick in the ass in regards to my OSR projects. I seem to have many more ideas than time or energy. In 2011, I'm committing myself to focusing and actually working on a project. Afterall, you are only a writer if you write, right? Well, even if I don't come out with a finished project, I really am going to make big inroads on my OSR campaign setting (like perhaps come up with a campaign world name). To that end, I'm going to write a bit about the setting and some of the important places. Here's a brief snippet (not so much a tease as a place holder or reminder string for me to come back to and expound upon. This city is one of the more important areas of the campaign world so you can be sure I'll be going into more detail later: Dohnstanziea – also known as the Three Queens, the

Stormbringer and Elric! Question

I've been thinking a lot about Moorcock's worlds lately and am very curious about the early Chaosium versions of the eternal champion game. I don't have much experience and was wondering what the best edition to start with would be. I'm particularly interested in the summoning/sorcery rules as I'm thinking about incorporating a summoning system into my OSR setting.

Thought of the Day Thursday: On Home Brews

Damn, missed my blog post yesterday. But that’s OK, I spent my day in Venice, City of Canals. I never get tired of going there. It’s funny that even though it is only 45 minutes away, we haven’t been there in almost a year. Venice really screams out to have a fantasy setting based there. Rich history, very mysterious (what the heck is down this crazy twisting alley?), kind of reminds me a bit of Sigil in Planescape. It won’t be long before the Venetians are celebrating Carnivale. This year, my wife and I have resolved to go. They have some very incredible costumes that I’m sure will inspire some gaming ideas for me. This time next year I’m hoping to visit Istanbul, Marrakesh, or Tunis (maybe all three). I have a feeling those will inspire some gaming impulses… I’ve been think a lot about where the OSR is going and all of us hobbyists tinkering away like mad in our basements, garages, or kitchen tables to create our own rule sets, settings, etc. I know there have been some na

Live! Dungeon! Action!

So we've been having quite a bit of fun with Dungeon! at the Bingham household. I tell you, there is nothing quite like an Old School dungeon crawl to make fun for the whole family and Dungeon is about as basic a dungeon crawl as you can get (and quite a bit of fun to boot!). I took some video from yesterday's session. My three year old daughter really got into the game and as quite entertaining in her own right. My six year old son Bear really is into the game. Looks like I've got a few old school delvers in the making! Rosa finds the magic sword Here's Rosa showing off her awesome dice rolling technique: Rosa rolls the dice Rosa loses to a monster: Rosa loses to a monster Rosa beats a werewolf: Rosa beats the werewolf Many more adventures to follow I'm sure!

Quick Projects Update

Played a game of Dungeon! with the whole family today. My three and a half year old daughter won the day. Let me tell you, she has got what it takes to be quite the fearless delver. My son was quite a bit more reserved and calculating. My wife even had a lot of fun (she came in second). All in all, much fun was had by all. Eventually, I’d like to see if I can get the gang hooked into a game of Mentzner Basic D&D or Labyrinth Lord. Patience, patience… I worked on a campaign map today. I’m doing it entirely in Photoshop and learning about stuff alone the way. So it’s slow going but valuable since I’m learning some things along the way. Since I’m taking the week off (and I’m feeling better) I’m hoping to knock out quite a bit of art projects (as well as work on the Delve! Board game and Basalt Keep of Wilven the Yellow Labyrinth Lord Adventure). I’ve got a couple of new art projects that I’m really excited about. I had thought about trying to work up some more Petty Gods s

More musing on Fantasy Tropes: Fantasy Names

I have a tendency to some snarky, silly humor sometimes. Last night after watching Legend of the Seeker (see my last post), I couldn’t help but cringe and even though it was my wife’s choice, I found myself wanting to apologize to her for the hour and a half we spent watching the show. At the end, she asked me what I thought and I told her that I just wish that the people that write these shows would stop being so formulaic. We then proceeded to joke about some of the more clich├ęd elements. Names were at the top of the list. I can’t even recall the name of the major villain of the series but it started with Dark. Why is it that we (fantasists – the people that create the fantasies) feel that we need to fall back on such tired things? I’m weary of all of the fantasy place names/character names that are essentially some nonsensical mish mash that tries to emulate some imagined European language. Like Rogar, Zoldar, etc. So, as I mentioned, my wife and I joked about the names. I

Fishing for Fantasy Movie and Television Suggestions

I’m finally starting to feel a bit better after the annual Christmas cold. I hope everyone had a pleasant holiday. Another non-game related post today (and I suppose a bit of a rant). My wife and I settled in last night to watch a few shows on the tube after all of the holiday chaos. As I don’t have cable TV, all our TV watching is via DVD or Internet. We’d just finished watching the Dresden Files last week and wanted to try something new. My wife suggested that we try Legend of the Seeker (which is unlike her as she is usually bemusedly tolerant of my fantasy predilection). So we tried it. I guess it started off decent enough, but soon I found all of the tired fantasy tropes coming back into play. Essentially the first two episodes pretty much encapsulate the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I’m not sure why the heck anyone in TV or movie land can not get fantasy right. Superheroes took some doing and are still hit or miss sometimes, but by and large, they seem to get tha

Christmas Cheer

And a good Christmas was had by all in the Bingham household today. I hope everyone else had a great time surrounded by loved ones. My son was so excited about the Dungeon! Board game. It was good o squeeze in a game (we had a lot going on so that is all we could manage). Again, it goes to show that the older games may be older but they are no less entertaining! I don’t really want to run down a list of gifts as I think it is rather crass, but I do want to mention that I received a silk screen printing kit today. I have to say that I’m ridiculously excited about it! I remember reading a while back on one of the message boards (I think it was where someone had posted a topic stating that RPGs are not art. I certainly don’t think that every RPG or RPG product is a work of art, but I certainly think that there are some finely crafted games and support products that I would consider a work of art. I’ve been tinkering away for many years on several RPG projects that have

Merry Christmas!

It's midnight here in Italy and Santa has just about finished delivering his toys. The kids are sound asleep. Gotta get ready for an early start in the morning. Can't wait for my sessions of Dungeon with my son! Well, he'll be well and truly distracted though with all of the superhero/Harry Potter stuff he is getting. And of course my daughter is getting tons of princess stuff. Yes, I have a princess and aspiring wizard, what more could a nerd Dad wish for? I hope you all have a joyous day filled with friends and family, love and laughter!

Last Minute Christmas Prep

Almost done with the preparations for the big day tomorrow. I got my son a copy of Dungeon! off eBay and am excited to see what he thinks. We have the 1975 version and I purchased the New Dungeon! version from the 1980's. I think he will be pleased to have his own game. I'll try to post either later today or tomorrow and get back to my various OSR Projects (Basalt Keep needs some love on the maps). I hope everyone out there has a safe and happy holiday season!

Thought of the Day Thursday Redux

Ok, I'm not feeling any better, but I was bouncing around on the Interwebs and looking through the message boards. It seems that there are a few OSR related hot topics (no, I'm not going to include the term OSR as one of the hot topics in this post) going on out there. The one I want to address tonight is Knockspell abandoning the OGL format and eschewing OD&D material and going more AD&D. As I've said before, I'm a big time AD&D guy. 1e is where I got my start in the hobby and the edition that feels most like home to me. I really didn't get too much into the basic rules (because as kids, it seemed like we'd come across more sophisticated playing the adult "Advanced" version of the game) other than to convert some basic modules to 1e. I DID get the basic sets Moldivay and Metzner) but other than a few brief sessions, we stuck to AD&D. Matt Finch has stated that they'd continue to publish Swords and Wizardry content, but focus

Thought of the Day Thursday

Kind of a cop out today since I'm sick with a cold and can't really formulate a coherent thought. So, I'm going to borrow one: What game have you never played but always wanted to? There are several for me that would fit that bill. However, I think I'd have to say Stormbringer. I really enjoy the works of Michael Moorcock (Elric in particular). At one point, I actually had a copy of the Second edition (I think it is at my parent's house still). When I think about it, I've not played any of the Chaosium games (RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, etc) which is strange since I own all of the books and they appeal to me. It makes my gaming experiences seem somehow... deficient I suppose. I'm not much of one for New Year Resolutions, but I definitely would like to get at least one of those games going (and Stormbringer in particular) next year. Anyone else? What games do you really want to try?

Nongaming Review: Hellboy Seed of Destruction

A nongaming post, but one very much related to my creative inspiration for gaming and art. It might not be readily apparent but I like Mike Mignola’s work. A LOT. And then even more on top of that. The man is one of my all time favorites in the comics world. But Mike’s work can be something of an acquired taste for some people. I like comics. I like comics a lot. I like comics about as much as I like Mignola’s work…Now any way. When I was younger, I used to collect Alpha Flight. Mike did some covers (issues 33 and 34). For whatever reason, they just didn’t sit right with me back then (although looking at the covers now, I wonder what the hell was wrong with me. Especially Wolverine fighting the samurai). I was more of a John Byrne guy back then (which is funny since Mignola and Byrne collaborated on the first Hellboy story, which I’ll get to in a bit). At any rate, I’ve collected comics off and on my whole life. Actually at some points it seems to become a crazy addictio

Weekly Creature Feature: Asaen

Once again, it's time to plunder myth, legend and folklore for interesting beasts for use in Old School style campaigns. Note: My critters are statted out using Labrynith Lord Rules but since they are deemed Open Game Conent, feel free to adapt them to your campaign. This time the critter is the Asaen, based upon a Native American legend of a cannibal woman/girl called an Asin that would lure people (often children) to their doom. Having dreams of the Asaen bodes ill for those affected. Name: Asaen No. Enc: 1 Alignment: Chaotic Movement: 120’ (40’) Armor Class: 7 Hit Dice: 3 Attacks: 2 (claw, bite), special Damage: 1d4, 1d4, special Save: M3 Morale: 6 Hoard Class: XX Description: Asaen are forest dwelling creatures that dwell on the fringes of human habitation where they prey on the weak, foolish, and unwary. From a distance, an Asaen will appear to be a young girl. An Asaen will attempt to trap victims by calling for help and luring the victims dee

The Classic Fantasy and Hireling Generator Web Site

Thanks to Tim Shorts over at Gothridge Mannor for providing the link to Meatshields ! The Classic Fantasy Hireling and Henchment Generator by kiltedyaksman and cr0m. The interface is incredibly simple: specify if you are going to pay the five gold to hire a town crier, specify the town size from a dropdown menu, and just click a button. You get a listing of five potential recruits, recruiting cost, their type (torch bearer, man-at-arms, etc), race, Hit Points, Sex, weapons, armor, alignment, background, possesions and knowledge, and notable features. Here's an example listing that I got: Name: Cortik Type: Torch-Bearer Race: Human HP: 2 Sex: M Weapon: Dagger Armor: None Alignment: Chaos Background: Failed Temple Acolyte Possesions and Knowledge: Sock full of sling stones Notable Features: Dark eyes How awesome is that? It really simplifies the process of coming up with a bunch of unsavory folk that are willing to risk it all for a little gold. Than

Old School Gaming Outlook: Bob Seeger or Billy Joel?

I was looking through various message boards and it seems that there is a bit of flareup about the term Old School Renaissance and what that entails. Not that it is unusual for there to be flareups here on the Interwebs about gaming, play styles, editions, play balance, fantasy tropes, etc but it did get me thinking about my own gaming outlook. I've simplified the agrument (very much so - I'm sure I'm not capturing everything, but oh well) of the OSR debate into the Bob Seeger and Billy Joel camps. What I mean by that is, the Bob Seeger types want the Old Time Rock 'n Roll to the exclusion of everything. They don't really care for the retro-clones but tolerate them in as much as they allow new modules to be published. The Billy Joel Types are more accomodating and see the proliferance of new add ons, new takes, different directions as a good thing for the hobby. After all, it's still Rock 'n Roll to them. I tend to stay out of the edition wars or any

Delve Board Game Update

I finally finished stating out the critters for Delve! and am now working on the treasures. Like the monsters, I wanted to add a bit of variety over the treasure in Dungeon! Also unlike Dungeon, instead of each class having different treasure levels they need to attain before they achieve victory, I'm going to set the treasure level for all five of the current classes at the same level (I'm thinking at the 30,000 gold level). The mechanic will be 2d10 instead of 2d6 (or the 1d20 I had originally thought about). The reason for this is I want a 2-20 number spread to allow for more levels and different challenges. Also, 2d10 allows to do percentages easier. Certain creatures will have the capability to be bribed. This is a percentage chance. The player will have to give up a treasure for safe passage. Also, I'm including more magical treasure in the game (for instance, more magic weapons usable by various characters). Each character will have special abilities. The

Basalt Keep of Wilven the Yellow/Delve Boardgame Update

I didn't get as far this week as I'd hoped on my mapping for the Basalt Keep. I do think I've got the rough outlines for the above ground levels. There are essentially five levels to the keep and six or so for a tower that sits atop the keep. I'm pretty jazzed about the whole idea and it keeps flowing nicely as far as the mapping goes. Once that is done, I'll go back and flesh out the keyed areas. The intent is to have this place populated with entirely new critters. The Basalt Keep is a temporal/dimensional hopping location, so the whole will be populated not just by strange critters, but by strange and in some cases horrific locations, items, and events. Viscount Wilven D'Ava is essentially a hedonist/libertine with a character in the Alister Crowley/Marquis de Sade vein. Add to that the inhabitants that the keep and the island that it sits upon from the multidimensonal wandering that has gone on and you'll get the idea. As far as my work on Delve!

Old School Renaissance Art Book

Hey, it's my 100th post!!! Hooray for me! Ahem, alrighty then... in other news, Matthew Finch of Swords and Wizardry fame has made a call for OSR artists to take part in an art book he's putting together. Here's a link to the call on Knights and Knaves Alehouse Forums: link . He's under a time constraint so he needs the submissions quick. I encourage all of you Old School style artists to contribute. I am happy to get my work out there even if it's pro bono. Mostly cause I'm an attention whore like that, but if you don't promote, chances are that unless you hire someone, no one else will. Anyway, I'm looking forward to a good product. As an artist, I don't think that many of the good artists really get the attention they deserve (aside from Pete Mullen, and well, he deserves it). I tell you, art takes time to create, is a challenge to produce, and no matter what, you are never compensated nearly enough for the time and effort put forth.

Review Rating Scale

I finally got around to posting my Rating Scale for Reviews for anyone that is curious as to what completly subjective and capricious reason I assign my ratings. Check out the link in my header bar. Don't look for me to go thrashing products as that is not really my style. However, not everything is rainbows and lollipops so if I don't like something, I'll state that as well.

Parallel Lines: My Old School Campaign Project Update

Work continues on the Project that Shall Not Be Named (actually, I can't be bothered to give the campaign world a name yet). I'm still working on the Basalt Keep Maps. I've tweaked them a bit from my last posting. As I've mentioned, mapping really is something that I've struggled with but I think I'm begining to come around. As for the map of the campaign world, I'm still working it but I need to decide on the scope that I wish to encompass. I'll get back to that at some point, I just want to go with the Basalt Keep and flesh that out. At any rate, I was lurking around the message boards as I am wont to do and was reading up on some projects that are very much of interest to me. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea ( here's a link to the product and one for the thread at Dragonsfoot here ) by North Wind Adventures and Swords and Cthulhu: the World of Zultoom ( link ). These two projects are very similar in flavor to what m

Thought of the Day Thursday: World Building OCD

So, world building… yeah. Not really a thought of the day but more of an open question today. Yesterday I did a review of Holly Lisle’s Create a Language Clinic. Very good stuff that. Unless you are bipolar in your creative nature like me and then it just adds fuel to the creative nightmare that I habitually impose upon myself. Anyway, one of the biggest problems I have is to recognize when enough is enough and just let things go. On one level, the egoist in me aspires to be the next Tolkien – flesh out a world to the nth degree complete with languages, religions, and culture. On the other hand, my natural laziness overcomes my ambition in most cases and I end up wallowing in a morass of indecisiveness. The OSR has an entrenched mentality of “STFU and game already!” and is eschews lengthy character development, plot development, or any of the other fluff in favor of quick game play. I have no problem with that. In fact, unless there is a good hook, my eyes tend to glaze over

Non Game Review: Holly Lisle's Create a Language Clinic

I suspect that most role players and especially DM’s have a touch of world builder in them. Some are able to just wing it, while there are others that are completely obsessive and must account for every map, tectonic movement, weather pattern, solar cycles, cultural patterns, etc… Me, I’m rather bipolar about my world building. Sometimes I’ll just say screw it and delve in and make stuff up on the fly. Other times, I need to work out the various exchange mediums, the color of the atmosphere (and the reasons why it is that color), the magnetic fields and the effect on weather patterns, right on down to the last finicky detail. One thing that no matter which pole I happen to be at that remains consistent is language. You see, language is defined by culture and a reflection of culture. It binds cultures together and separates them from every other culture. You can trace the evolution of culture through language. It is pretty fascinating stuff. And the cool thing about it from a


I got my notice that all three of my Petty Gods submissions will be in James Maliszewski’s Petty Gods project. I love that I get to participate in something like this as I think it exemplifies the hobbyist DIY nature of the hobby. On occasion I read on various message boards that the hobby is dying, that 4e is a flop, or whatever the latest doom and gloom is. While I don’t think the hobby will get back to the glory days of the early/mid 1980’s, I think it has settled in and there are enough of us with kids that are passing the hobby along to the next generation. As long as there are hobbyist willing to continue to play and create new material, quite frankly it doesn't matter if the more commercial companies stop producing RPGs. But anyway, I digress. I am goofy excited to participate. It’s just a little validating to be able to contribute. Based upon what I’ve seen so far, It’s going to be awesome!

Weekly Creature Feature: Arepyiai

Once again, I'm going back to the well and corrupting myth and legend to make my own monsters for use with Labyrinth Lord or other Old School Retro-clones. Again, feel free to use this creature in your own campaigns or OSR Projects. The Arepyiai is another name for harpy and the name means render or slicer. In Old School fashion, I've corrupted that to make an otherworldly beast. Name: Arepyiai No. Enc: 1-4 Alignment: Chaotic Movement: 60’ (20') Armor Class: 5 Hit Dice: 4 Attacks: 2 (bite, sting) Damage: 1d6, 1d6, poison Save: F6 Morale: 11 Hoard Class: XIII Description: Arepyiai are horrific creatures not of this world. They are of up to 4' in length and combine features of an arachnid and mollusc. Arepyiai are slow moving and rely on unwary prey to come within range of their harpoon-like stings. The Arepyiai produce a pleasant sweet smelling odor that attracts prey. The Arepyiai will lie in wait and launch its harpoon at targets that come within 1

Basalt Keep Update

I finished four map levels and numbered the rooms for the map key today (I changed them a bit from the style below). I stand at three levels for the Basalt Keep with a total of 107 keyed areas and two sublevels with a further of 29 keyed areas. I have at least one more above ground level and at least one more level for the lava caves under the Keep. Then it will be time to write the keys and other stuff. It'll have a weird fantasy/horror feel (at least right now - I am pretty fickle so it's subject to change depending what I come up with when I'm fleshing out the keys). I'm thinking about sending this to Fight On! or perhaps going through and putting it out on Lulu. since I'm primarily an artist; I want to do quite a bit of art for this. Anyway, I'm tired so it's time to read a bit then off to bed for the evening.

Mapping makes me kinda crazy

OK, so I've been working on my map for The Basalt Keep of Wilven the Yellow. I love maps. I like to look at them and imagine all kinds of kooky things. However, drawing maps, well, like my son says "they make my brain go down". At any rate, here' my first scan of level one of the Basalt Keep. I also screwed around in Photoshop and here's another take: I kinda like the second one because, well, it has a feel like th keep is made of basalt. I'm getting pretty psyched about this. But then again, I've got multiple projects going and I'm pretty jazzed about all of them.

Swords and Wizardry Complete availiable from Frog God Games

I got my order for the signed and numbered hard back in a few hours ago. It is a limited run of 100. The first print of the softcover is limited to 200. Go here for more. The hard cover and softcover come with a pdf version so you don't have to wait. I've done an initial skim through and it looks great. The Frog God guys did a bang up job on the production values. In case you are wondering, Frog God Games is the remnants of Necromancer Games (the 3rd edition rules, fist edition feel guys). I'll take a bit of time to digest and then get a review up. I'm also working on a review of Savage Swords of Athanor. All I can really say is the Old School Renaissance just keeps getting better and better...

Delve Board Game Update 12/11/10

Happy 12/11/10! I've been listening to some Minutemen and Richard Hell, drinking a Heineken (Heineken, f*** that s***, PABST BLUE RIBBON!!) - sorry, flashback to a different time - and have been scribbling away at my Delve! rules. I think I've got my initial character set AND monster list for the initial Delve! playtest. For the playtest I'll be using the original Dungeon! board game board and testing the rules out through level six. Once I think it's working, I'll expand to levels seven and eight. Here's the character list so far: Mage Knight Warrior Princess Thief Cleric I'm leaving the Elf and Dwarf out of the initial playtest (mostly because they will combine elements of the listed classes anyway). The monster list is as follows: Level 1 Beserker Giant Fire Ant Giant Rats Giant Bats Goblin Orc Skeleton Zombie Level 2 Beserker Bugbear Ghoul Giant Lizard Giant Spider Giant Frog Pit Trap Zombie Level 3 Dire Wolf Gargoyle Giant Snake Giant Scorpion Har

Review: Carcosa Supplement V by Geoffrey McKinney

As with most things, I'm usually a bit late to the party and my perusal of Geffrey McKinney's Carcosa is no exception. In fact, there are many reviews out there already on this one supplement and I was a bit reluctant to do an essentially superfluous review. Mr. McKinney's work has brought about some strong reactions and controvery. In fact, due to the number of reviews, I'm going to take the incredibly lazy and seriously egregious breach of any sort of tact or class route and link back to Korgoth's review on dragonsfoot here so that I can lay the basic ground work and expound upon it because that review pretty sums up most of my thoughts on the matter. Did you finish reading yet? OK, good, let's continue. Let me go ahead and say that I want to completely avoid any of the morality agrguments surrounding the supplement and investigate its merrits as a gaming supplement. Carcosa really impressed me with some of the things it brings to the table, namely new

German Beer, Bacon Pizza and Rules Wrangling

It is Friday and that means pizza night from our favorite local pizzeria (Pronto Pizza in Tori di Arcugnano is some of the best pizza I’ve ever had – a bit different from the American idea of pizza – and I’m going to get Italian bacon, better known as pancetta on mine), a nice real German beer (Winkler Brau Dunkel Doppel Bock or a Heffe Pils – OOOOOOOooooo my lord, the ONLY beer better is the Beglian Trapist stuff), and a rousing game of Rifts (wait what?!?). Not really, but I am going to pull the Palladium Fantasy Game off the shelf tonight and do a little data mining. I don’t participate in the game bashing stuff because, well, it makes about as much sense to me as people fighting over baseball, football, water polo, tennis, bowling, golf, horseshoes, competition pie eating, lacrosse or basket ball being a better sport (and if you like the one I don’t then you must be a mouth breathing, slack jawed, slope browed degenerate). I’m particularly interested in the insanity rules, addic

Delve Board Game Update

OK, so I'm starting in on trying to figure out the monster list. I've come up with the following for the classes: mage, knight, warrior princess, cleric, dwarf, elf. The spell list is as follows: electric zap, cold blast, flame burst, web, and haste. I'll work out the details at playtest time. Anyway, back to monsters. I'm trying to decide what would have a good old school feel and give the feel of Dungeon! without being a direct clone. For first level, I want to keep the skeleton and giant rat and goblin. I'll do away with giant lizard at level one and introduce zombie, giant bat, giant ant. The way the cards are laid out, there are fifteen cards to a sheet. I'd like to have thirty monster cards per level to add some variety so I've got quite a bit of room to play around here. I'll go through the monster manual and try and come up with some more old school beasties that scream old school dungeon delve (like giant beetle, carnivorous ape, etc

Thought of the Day Thursday: Creature Extinction

In the development of my latest campaign project, I find myself tackling all sorts of theoretical issues. One that came to me the other day was the idea of creatures/monsters/entities as resources in a campaign world and what happens when those resources are depleted? Now I know the idea of monster ecologies is anathema to some in the OSR and that is fine. However, I want this world I’m crafting to have a specific feel and the idea of the creatures within that world being a finite resource and the depletion/extinction of that resource could possibly have a dramatic effect on the game world. For instance, I’ve been posting some monsters here on my blog over the past few weeks. There is a method to this madness, I’m not just creating or stating up random critters. Each of these creatures will be a denizen of the campaign world I’m working on. For instance, the Amarok is limited to a group of nine. These fierce creatures prey on those foolish enough to let themselves be caught out

My discovery of the d100 OSR

Another side of the OSR that I haven’t much experience is with the d100 games based upon the Basic Role Playing engine (I'm probably late to the party on this one - nothing unusual here). In my glory days of role playing, it was pretty difficult for me to come by any gaming material that wasn’t TSR which of course meant that we played a lot of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, FASERIP Marvel Superheroes, Top Secret, Star Frontiers, etc. Occasionally, someone would happen upon something else that we’d incorporate into our RPG cycle (back then we tended to play D&D on Saturdays, Top Secret Fridays, Marvel Superheroes almost any free moment we could squeeze in, and Sundays would be one offs). When I was gaming in earnest back in 1986-88, I was a military brat and lived in West Germany, so my exposure to games was pretty much limited to whatever the PX/BX happened to stock. This was pretty much limited solely TSR products, but on occasion you’d get some FASA Star Trek or Battlete

Pembrooktonshire Gardening Society Member 017 reporting for duty

I’m pretty pleased at the direction and sheer creativeness that the OSR seems to be taking. It would have been a simple matter to just rehash stuff from the old days or doing pastiche work. Indeed, in the early days of the OSR, it seemed that was where things were headed. However, several clever souls have been spending their free time crafting up some pretty inventive stuff. James Raggi of Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP) fame has been one of those who are taking the OSR in wildly divergent directions (I'll do a review as soon as I'm done reading through and reviewing Carcosa by Geoffrey McKinney - that should be up this weekend). Of course this is not without controversy, but hey, most people don’t take change and new ideas without grumbling. At any rate, I just received my official Pembrooktonshire Gardening Society membership kit in the mail (member 017 since October 2010). There is a certificate of achievement; a membership card and a very nice print of th

Weekly Creature Feature: Arassas

Once again gentle reader, it is that time. Yes it is the Weekly Creature Feature. Up this week is a creature from French folklore. Once again, I've adapted it and embelished a bit. As always, the creature nmae, stats and description are hereby designated Open Gaming Conent. The accompanying illustrations of the the creature is not Open Gaming Content and is copyright to Johnathan L Bingham (me) and cannot be used except with my express written permission. Name: Arassas No. Enc: 1-4 Alignment: Neutral Movement: 120’ (40’), Special Armor Class: 5 Hit Dice: 3 Attacks: 3 (claws, bite) Damage: 1d4, 1d4, 1d6, poison Save: F3 Morale: 7 Hoard Class: VI Description: A strange and hideous creature that has the body of a giant lizard and a rather feline head. The Arassas has an overall length of 6’ and is capable of scaling sheer surfaces (even upside down). This ability lets them surprise prey on a 1-4 on a d6. The Arassas has a poisonous bite; a victim must save versus

Review: Exquisite Corpses by Stefan Poag

It’s snowing outside and warm and cozy inside. I’ve got some hot spiced wine brewing on the stovetop. What a perfect time to kick back with an OSR book and do some imaginatin’. I have a rather large read pile that I am slowly picking my way through. However, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I got a few more things to add to the pile. The first thing I grabbed really has grabbed me back. I’m talking about Exquisite Corpses: A New Kind of Monster Manual for Old School Role Playing Games by Stefan Poag. Where to start, where to start… the book itself is digest size 5 ½” x 8 ½” with a spiral binding and a glossy, heavy card stock cover weighing in at 91 pages. Normally I wouldn’t get too much into the physicality of the product, but it is important here. You see, when Mr. Poag says that this is a new type of monster manual, he really means that – at least compared to the other compendiums of monsters out there. The binding actually plays an important role which I’ll get to in

Boxes o fun

You know, only a true freak gets excited about getting a box of Bristol paper and 750ml of fluid titanium white acrylic paint in the mail. Yeah, that freak would be me and I got my box o’ paper and paint today. Why am I excited? Because it’s been a long time since I did some good old fashioned acrylic painting and I got lots of ideas for some weird fantasy paintings I want to do. I can’t wait to start slingin’ some paint! I also received one of my Lulu orders in the mail today and I’m very excited about that as well. In it, I have Fight On! #5 (I’m a bit behind the power curve, but well, what are you gonna do?), Savage Swords of Athanor by Doug Easterly for use with the Swords and Wizardry rules (dinosaurs, planetary romance, laser guns, magic – oh hell yeah, this will be fun), and last but certainly not least is Exquisite Corpses by Stefan Poag (crazy mix and match folded paper manual of monsters in the weird fantasy vein for use with Old School Role Playing games – I’m gonna d

Basalt Keep of Wilven the Yellow maps for levels 2 and 3

Ok, here's an unedited peek at levels two and three of the basalt keep. I intend to add one more ascending level and then start on some underground levels. I've been ruminating on an OSR project for almost five years now (ever since my initial involvement with the OSRIC project). I've finally decided upon a hex crawl campaign world. The basalt keep will be one location. It's strange dimensional properties should make it easily incorporated into any campaign. I've also got an idea for another weird fantasy location involving a strange, sorcerous space/time tower that I've tentatively called the Strange Geometries. One project at a time...

Delve card art mockup two

And here's the mock up art for the Delve cards with a different font and border. My wife likes this one better. I'm not quite so sure, but do think I need to get on with it and stop obsessing about things like this ;). Next, on to the monsters and traps!

Thought of the Day Thursday: Demihumans and Humanocentric Gaming

One of the things that really has been bugging me lately about the fantasy games I’ve campaigned in is the proliferation of demihumans. I’ve been just as guilty as anyone of forgoing creating a human character for creating an elf, or dwarf, or some other crazy ass humanoid like a litoran. Why? When I sit back and think about it, the thing that really bugs me is that folks tend to play nonhumans as simply humans in costume with some bonuses and extras. Kinda falling into the whole Star Trek paradigm where all nonhuman species are typically a monolithic culture and highly stereotyped. Now don’t get me wrong, I feel that there is a place for that. However, I also feel like that kinda thing has been done to death (as I’m sure bitching about it has been – but here I go anyway…). At any rate, I’ve just plain had it with demihumans as playable characters in my campaign. They tend to be overdone as a stereotype, or are used as a min/max tool, etc. Now I know this could all just be cha

Delve monster card concept art

Ok, so here's my first mock up at the Delve! card art. I wanted to very much keep it in the vein of Dungeon! monster cards. They will be the same size 1"x2" so that I can mix them into the deck. As I said earlier today, I intend to borrow from Dungeon and then ultimately replace the underlying mechanic so that while remaining true to the spirit of the original game, it will be a new game in and of itself to include a new board. I'm pretty excited about this project. I haven't attempted a board game for quite some time. Even though it borrows ideas pretty heavy, it is still quite a bit of work!

Delve Board Game Project Progress Update

I’m still working on my reimagining of the Dungeon! Board game. I had a whole slew of classes and other things, but I think ultimately I want to trim it down. Here’s a list of possible classes: Warrior Princess, Dwarf, Elf, Knight, Wizard, Thief, Cleric. I threw the warrior princess class in there for my daughter so it’d be a good hook to interest her at some point (she’s all about the princesses right now). But seeing as she’s only three, it’ll be a couple of years before I get her going. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m going to replace the Dungeon! 2d6 mechanic with a 1d20. That is because I’d like to ultimately have eight levels instead of six with more monster variations and feel the d20 will better enable that. Initially, I’ll be play testing on the actual Dungeon! Board, but I do want to come up with my own board at some point. The plan is to have all of this fleshed out and a complete new game by May in time for my son’s seventh birthday. I’m going through the m

Late Fall Evening

Ah, it's cold outside with some chance of snow. A perfect evening for some mulled wine, pumpkin pie, and curling up in bed with the 1e DMG. I feel the need to generate some random tables!

Some excellent rule ideas (borrowed)

Reading through some of the various blogs that I subscribe to, I'm always amazed at the inventiveness of my fellow gamers and their ability to create exciting and functional rules that add to (rather than replace) rules from the existing D&D or AD&D (and simulacra). Two that just caught my attention have to do with shield functionailty and weapons rules for non-variable weapons damage (for the older systems where ALL weapons did 1d6 damage). First up are the shield rules from the blog Aeons and Auguaries Link which are in turn borrowed from rules created by Trollsmyth Trollsmyth . I found the shield rules of an exciting way to use shields in game to be more than a mere +1 to AC. In essence, it assigns shield points (hit points for the shield) which can be used to absorb the damage from a particular attack, at the expense of the shield's integrity. It is akin to Palladium Fantasy rules use of SDC to absorb damage. I know a lot of folks look at Palladium with much

Weekly Creature Feature: Angka

Once again, I peruse my tomes of legends, lore, folk tales, and whatnot to find interesting critters for use at the gaming table. I'm still combing through Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth by Carol Rose. This week I stumbled across a creature from Middle Eastern Myth: the Angka. Not much detail was given, so in true Old School form, I extrapolated and made stuff up. Filling a similar role as the cocatrice and the harpy, this beast can be used to spring on your party to change the usual suspect lineup a bit. As per all of my Weekly Creature Feature critters, this is designated as Open Content, so feel free to use it as you wish: Name: Angka No. Enc: 1 Alignment: Chaotic Movement: 60’ (20’) Fly: 150’(50’) Armor Class: 6 Hit Dice: 4 Attacks: 2 (bite, mesmerize) Damage: 1d4, mesmerize Save: F3 Morale: 6 Hoard Class: XX Description: Angka appear as vibrantly colored birds with human-like facial features. Angka are soli

Basalt Keep of Wilven the Yellow

I've been working on some location maps for a while now and figured I'd post some of them here. These are hand drawn and transfered rather crudely to Photoshop and had a grid placed over them. This is a standard 1 square = 10' map. The Basalt Keep of Wilven the Yellow exists on an island that exists in more than one dimension simultaneously. Also, it has the tendency to "blink" out of existence from time to time on some extraplanar jaunt. Viscount Wilven was a rather unwholesome character in the vein of the Marquis de Sade and surrounded himself with a cast of scoundrels, lunatics, libertines and hedonists. Ultimately becoming an outcast, Wilven tapped into the dark arts and created a rift that set his island home adrift on the planar sea. This has had some startling effects and has made the island and the keep a dangerous place to visit. Here's a map of the first level and two lower sublevels of the keep: I've started to key this level and have tw

The day after the day after Thanksgiving

No, I didn't participate in the Black Friday spending frenzy. Instead, we actually had our feast last night. Since I live in Italy and had a mix of Italians and Americans, it probably was better that we did it on Friday so the Italians could participate. Well, tonight w are actually having some more Italian friends over for a continuation of the feast. Yeah, it was a big turkey. At any rate, I've returned to working on my OSR project. Today I started to work on the outdoor hex maps for my campaign setting. I really want this campaign to have a pseudo Norse/Celtic/Germanic feel to it and thus taking place in a somewhat northerly climes. Not very original I suppose but go with what you love... As to scale, I've been thinking of doing one hex equals five mile (Wilderlands scale). That is tenative as I have to see how it actually works out.

Post Thanksgiving lethargy

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and that the Merry Gobbler brought everyone everything they wanted...wait, what? Anyway, it's late here in Italy and I'm too tired to make this much of a post. I did work on my revamp of the Dungeon! boardgame today. It went well. I'm mostly working on the monster and treasure cards right now. At some point I'm thinking of completely redoing the board and adding more levels as well as using a d20 mechanic instead of 2d12. This will of course be pretty much a completely new game but very much in the spirit of the original Dungeon! game. I've decided to not get too carried away with the classes, so I'll probably scale back the 12 classes I originally planned (maybe make that an advanced option). Since I have a daughter and I want to make this an inclusive family game (for my family at any rate), I'm going to add a female warrior princess class to the lineup. I've also decided to name my project DELVE! It&#

Thought of the day Thursday: Clerics

I’ve never really been able to get fully behind the idea of clerics as presented in Dungeons and Dragons games. For whatever reason, a traveling clergyman that wields the power of the gods really just leaves me cold. Now don’t get me wrong, I think that certainly there is a place for priests, churches, gods, myth and legend; but I can’t really get behind the combat medic position of the priest. Yes, I’m familiar with the Hospitaliers, the Templars, and other militarized orders of knighthood, but in my mind I just can’t resolve a traveling clergy member delving into the dungeon to act as an EMT for the party. I’ve never played a cleric, and in most of the games I’ve been in, clerics were usually not part of the part. Instead we’d use healing potions and visit the local apothecary for some healing. You know something? It seemed to work out alright. What about undead and the like? Well, actually, most of the times we’d just fight through them. Once we found a holy relic that was

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and much joy and time spent with friends and loved ones. This is by far my favorite holiday as it is all about being surrounded by those you love and reflecting on the things in ones life that matter most.

Ruminations on Magic part 2 - Charms and Rituals

Continuing my ruminations on the nature of Fantasy magic, I was curious as to how many folks utilize the magic properties of gems and herbs as outlined in the 1e DMG? I’ve been thinking of working up some low level magic such as charms, poultices, unguents, ointments, etc that would have either very limited applications or single use application. The Gygaxian Fantasy Worlds series produced by Troll Lord Games, actually has some pretty intriguing information on the subject. I think it is the book Living Fantasy (but I’ll have to go back and make sure) that is really a compilation of tidbits of information for use in a fantasy campaign (actually that is the crux of the whole series – system neutral so it makes handy reference). It’d be nice to work up little rituals that have minor magical applications such an example could be warding off a certain type of dark sidhe during a certain time of year and only under specific circumstances by standing on one foot, holding a sprig of mistle

Some Ruminations on Magic

I know this has been beaten to death, buried, dug up and beaten some more; however, I am really thinking about what makes magic so interesting and seductive in fantasy? Matt Finch's work Elditch Wierdness Books One Through Three has really gotten me thinking. Is it the flashy flying around, burning enemies to cinders type magic, or the more subtle and insidious sort? I tend to lean towards the latter. I know, it’s all subjective, but what really pulls me in are the stories where magic is not common and even the slightest use of magic is impressive. I have a horrible memory so I can’t site specific details form any text, but things like Gandalf’s smoke rings from Lord of the Rings , The various implied magic from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and more importantly, the various fairy tales and legends from all over the world. Sure, there are some fairy tales that have overt magic, but more often than not it is more of the - oh, I don’t really have a word t

Weekly Creature Feature (11/22/2010): Amarok

Here's this week's creature feature. This week is a creature that haunts the far north and stalks those foolish enough to venture into the northern wilds at night. Loosely based upon a Native American legend, this is the Amarok. As with my last creature feature, the Amarok is designated open content so feel free to use it as you wish (aside for the art which is not open content and is copyright John Bingham - me). Again stated out for use with LL, it should be a fairly simple matter for a DM to convert to suit the DM's needs. Name: Amarok (wolf) No. Enc: 1 Alignment: Chaotic Movement: 200’ (70’) Armor Class: 4 Hit Dice: 8 Attacks: 1 (bite) Damage: 1d12 Save: F4 Morale: 8 Hoard Class: None Description: An amarok is a monstrous wolf akin to normal and dire wolves. However, amaroks are much more cunning and malicious than even dire wolves (6’ at shoulder). Native to the coldest reaches of the northernmost tundra and woodlands; these beasts hunt

Strange Magic

In my last post, a review of Matt Finch’s Eldritch Weirdness Books Three through One, some pretty interesting possibilities are touched on in regards to the practice and nature of magic. There were some pretty exciting things hinted on that seemed to touch on the whole non-Euclidian aspects of the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos. I find all of this incredibly fascinating, but I have to admit, I always had a difficult time trying to wrap my brain around physics and mathematics (particularly the higher mathematics and quantum physics). These subjects just seem to go hand in hand with Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s adage that any technology of a sufficiently advanced nature would appear to be magic. Well, just how much do you delve into to these types of subjects from a fantasist’s perspective without being so completely wonky as to have others not being able to suspend disbelief? I say this because I’d like to touch on these subjects for a project I’m working on. I don’t want to try and crea

Review: Eldritch Weirdness Compilation Books Three to One

Matt Finch's Eldritch Weirdness Compilation Books Three to One is an accessory for Old School stle fantasy RPGS. IIt is fairly generic, so it is not a problem to adapt it to OSRIC, Swords and Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, or what ever your particular favorite Old School game of choice is. The print version of the books weighs in at 23 pages (of which pages 22 and 23 are given over to the OGL licensing info). While it may seem a bit light on the page count, it does pack quite a punch in giving DM's something to think about when it comes to using magic in fantasy games. Presented in reverse order, the three books present three different subject areas. Book one (the last in the compilation) presents a bunch of new spells for use in a fantasy campaign. I tend to agree with Matt, tht spells are usually one of the least interesting magic topics, being something of a recipe to be followed to gain a certain effect. There are some pretty imaginitive spells none the less. I really l

Dungeon boardgame update

I haven't had time to tweak the rule sets more as I've been working on a site based encounter (more on that later). At any rate, I just got a newer Dungeon! game off of eBay and it arrived yesterday. I'm thinking of springing it on my son for Christmas. However, Ive been thinking about the rules a bit more. I'll probably still plow ahead with the "advanced" rules with multiple classes, but I think for now, I'm going to rework the classic rules to keep them simple. I hink I'll tweak the existing characters a bit and perhaps add a thief and cleric. I need to draft up some new monster cards and print them out. Ultimately, that will entail printing out a whole new set as I think it best that the cards be uniform. More to follow...