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Monday, January 31, 2011

Sword & Board Basic Companion progress

As stated, some of this is already available on this blog. Some of it is just conversions of existing OGL material. Some of it is new. I'm not trying to make anything ground-breaking, just compiling stuff I find useful and that others will hopefully like.

I'm up to 52 pages with no art added in yet. Waiting on two custom pieces, and have a bunch of RPGNow stuff.

Stuff so far:
New Races: Cambion, Drow, Goblin, Nephilim, Starborn, and Wildfolk.
Class Options: Clerics: Favored Weapon, Turn Undead, and Divine Protection.
Fighter: Professions.
Thieves: Hit Dice and weapons.
Magic-Users: Familiars and Minor Magic.
Equipment: New Armor, Barding, New Weapons, Oriental Weapons, Specialty Items like thunderstones.
New Spells.
Encounter: Ambushes, Energy Drain, and Two Weapon Fighting.
Monsters: Demons and other fun stuff. Not a direct conversion of the D&D Demon types.
Treasure: New magic items.
GM Info: A sample religion. City and Wilderness Encounter tables. Types of spellbooks.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Getting D&D rules mixed up

I bet I'm not the only one who does this. A lot of times I am thinking a game is using the old B/X or 1e rules, but something was actually changed in the current OSR rules.

Case in point: I was thinking of creating an alternate vampire for BFRPG that required them to bite a victim to drain a level, because I thought that just touching someone to drain a level made no sense, based on all the books and movies. Then I reread the vampire entry in BFRPG and found that Chris had already done just that.

I didn't even know this, as I had just skimmed the monsters in the book. They had looked similar enough that I was just adding in old rules from memory to fill in the blanks of what I hadn't read.

Friday, January 28, 2011

More stuff

I'm going with Digest size. I like it, and it provides a feel similar to many other OSR products. So far, I've got 39 pages of stuff, not including formatting, art, or the OGL (which will likely suck up several pages).  I'm not sure just how long this book will be to make it worthwhile for Lulu, but I'm guessing it will have to be at least 70 pages with art, etc.

I'm also probably not including the city setting. Instead, I will have a section on city encounters that can be dropped in anywhere. I think that would provide more utility. This would also allow the entire book to be OGL.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Front Cover

Why yes, I do have art :). Peter Fitzpatrick is graciously allowing me to use this picture. I've got a couple other pics gratis, and paid for a number of them, as well.

What to name book?

I'm kicking around some names for the BFRPG book, and not sure what I want to use. Some ideas:

Basic Fantasy Companion - I really like this, but it sounds "official" and Chris might want to use it someday.
Basic Fantasy Codex - This is also doable.

Any ideas or suggestions?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What font to use...

For my book, I'm currently using Century Gothic, since it reminds me of the old D&D modules. However, I wasn't sure if anyone who's published would recommend something else. Something really easy to read. Not Times New Roman, since I don't want the book to look like a business document.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Possibly doing my own BFRPG supplement

I already have a fair amount of the boilerplate RPGNow art, so other than the fact that most people will have seen it before, the book would have art. It would be a collection of stuff I've posted here, plus new stuff. If I do it, it would be a free pdf and an at-cost Lulu book. I'm not really sure of what all would be involved, so any pointers would be great, especially regarding the OGL and BFRPG.

Things I'd include:
New races. New monsters. My house rules. New magic items. New traps. A city setting.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sword and Board 6th (probably final) edit

I uploaded a pdf for my rpg Sword and Board. This is the sixth edit, and likely the final one. The game is roll 2d6, roll high. It is heavily influenced by Traveller and settings such as Carcosa and Planescape. I haven't really done much of anything with this since last February, so I figured I'd put it out there for people to look at.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Brave Halfling to cease publication of S&W White Box

The Announcement

Apparently, there was a big forum fight between the various parties involved with White Box, which has all been deleted so we have no reference point. Talk about a bunch of bullshit. Anyways, BHP will be making yet another clone, which will hopefully not just be S&W:WB renamed. Even the announcement is using WB art. Blah.

Honestly, I'm sick of this shit. Why are there so many schizo publishers involved in gaming? It's too bad this happened, and I'm damn glad I already have my box set, or I'd be really pissed.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tome of Spell-stealing

This large, obviously magical book is sometimes found in treasure troves. Characters looking it over will assume it is some kind of spellbook or even holy book. In fact, it is a clever trap.

If a mage or cleric reads this book, even just flipping through it, they immediately lose one random spell of the highest level they have currently memorized. The effect is as if they had cast the spell, so they cannot immediately just memorize another spell. If they continue reading, they will continue to lose spells at the rate of one spell per round of reading.

The book can be burned or otherwise destroyed, just as a normal book can be. Some spellcasters, after realizing what the book is, will keep it among their other spellcasting materials, to punish any would-be thieves.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I love Foxtrot

Pathfinder outselling D&D 4e?

Another RS Dancey quote a bit later on:

"The "red box" looks like a nostalgia product designed to be sold to 40 year-olds who want to relive a moment of their childhoods. I don't get the art or the font - neither will appeal to either kids or moms in CE2011. It doesn't look like any other products in the 4E line so how will people know that it connects? Doesn't even matter what's inside the box - this is one of those things that has to sell on its presentation on the shelf.

As to 4e as a product line, I'm equally confused. If I want to start playing this game today, what do I buy? How "Essential" is "Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms"? Is there still a Player's Handbook? Is it more or less "Essential" than the Rules Compendium? Wait, there's three Player's Handbooks? And 2 Dungeon Master Guides? Do I need to buy 5 300+ page books to play this game? And is the "Essentials" game the same game, or a dumbed down game?"

Very interesting stuff. I'm not sure if it covers every sales outlet, but I bet PF and 4e are neck and neck in sales. What this bodes for WotC and the hobby in general, I have no idea. Maybe 5e will get bumped up a year for release. And, if so, hopefully it will trim down more and require less minis, encounter cards, daily/encounter powers, etc.

I think he's hit the nail on the head. 4e is so fragmented you have to do research to even see what books you really need to buy. That's not good at all.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book covers

One of my frustrations with the OSR is that many of the games have very poor cover art. I like the S&W core rulebook, the black and white WhiteBox rules (and I admit that's not even super art, but I like it), and the deluxe red Labyrinth Lord covers. Pretty much all the others are amateurish, usually in some perverse desire to ape the originals. Newsflash, if TSR could have afforded really nice art for their covers, we'd have had it. Notice the improvements in cover art through the 1980's and 1990's. There's a reason the old art style was abandoned as soon as TSR could afford to do so.

Most of the OSR covers appear to be designed for a 12 year old from the 1980's. If I was still that kid, I'd be happy. However, me, and probably 90% of OSR gamers, are in their 30's and 40's. I think publishers should take that into account.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lulu sale

Through Jan 17, you get 20% off if you use the code TREASURE305. I recommend Fight On! and BFRPG.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spellcasters as NPC only...

I was considering going this route with my homebrew. I'm not sure I will, but it led to some interesting questions. The only big issue it would cause is healing. I do not want my game to be too grim and gritty, where anyone can die from a lonely orc. I'd rather it be real swords & sorcery, where a pissed-off guy with a blade is the equal of ten guards and their necromancer boss.

The two options that occur to me would be to either make healing potions easily acquirable, or add something like the  4e second wind abilities, where you regain your hp at the end of each encounter. Both annoy me for various reasons. Too many healing potions is kind of silly, so I think that would be out. The second wind is kind of appropriate, but I feel I would need to add some kind of injury system to the game. Here's a quick one I'm thinking of:

Injury System:  You recover all hit points at the end of each encounter. If you lose 90% of your hp in one encounter, you receive an injury. This injury will cause you to have a -1 to hit penalty until you can go to a healer of some kind and receive magical healing, or you take one month to recover naturally, during which you cannot adventure. Injuries stack, so if you continue on after receiving an injury in combat, and then defeat the necromancer, but get an injury during that fight, all your to hit rolls will be at -2 until you get magically healed or take a month off.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pact Magic Part 3 (Angelic)

Holy Spirit
Armor Class: 19
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1 Holy Fire (2d6)
Special: Holy fire, regeneration
Move: 20 (flying)
HDE/XP: 8/800
Holy Spirits are minor angels who gift mortals with magical ability. They usually appear as a floating ball of light. If attacked, they blast their opponent with holy fire. Undead and demons automatically take critical hits from this fire. Holy spirits regenerate 1 hit point per round, and cannot be permanently killed. They can be hit only by magical weapons or spells. They will not supply spells that are inherently evil, such as necromancy or demon summoning of any kind.

Holy spirits require mages to donate a tithe to a good church, and often manipulate the mage to either donate time helping the unfortunate or actively fight the forces of evil, such as evil sorcerers. If a mage deliberately desecrates a holy item or holy place, or helps a force for evil, the spirit will immediately leave and the mage will lose access to his spells. The mage can atone for misdeeds, but the atonement will be long and arduous.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Fighter so far for my homebrew

Heavily based off of S&W WhiteBox

The Fighter
The Fighter is a warrior, trained in battle and in the use of armor and weapons. Your character can be a knight, a mercenary, or a wild barbarian. Whatever his title, his main job is killing stuff.

Table 4: Fighter Advancement

Exp. Points
Hit Dice (d6+1)
Saving Throw

Fighter Class Abilities
Weapon and Armor Restrictions: Fighters are trained in warfare and, as such, have no weapon or armor restrictions.

High Strength: Fighters can use their Strength Bonus to modify their “to-hit” and damage results when using melee weapons.

Critical Strike: Fighters make critical hits on a natural 20 on an attack roll, unless they needed a 20 to hit. Critical hits automatically do maximum weapon damage.

Saving Throw: Fighters receive a +1 bonus on saving throws vs. death and poison.

Establish Stronghold: At ninth level, a Fighter who chooses to build a castle is considered to have the rank of “Baron” bestowed upon him by the local ruler or monarch. He may choose to attract a body of loyal men-at-arms who will swear fealty to him.

Fighter Profession: A fighter chooses one of the following professions during character creation and gains the associated ability:

Archer/Slinger: The Archer (or Slinger) gains +1 to hit with ranged weapons.
Assassin: The Assassin does 2d6 points of damage with a weapon when he attacks a surprised foe.
Berserker: During a fight, Berserkers can choose to gain +1 to hit and +2 to damage, at the cost of a -3 armor class penalty.
Blade Dancer: Blade Dancers gain a +2 AC bonus when fighting unarmored.
Crusader: Crusaders do an extra 2 points of damage on any melee attack against undead or demons.
Duelist: Duelists are skilled with the blade and gain +1 AC while fighting with a sword.
Harrier: Harriers gain a +1 to initiative rolls. They also gain a +1 bonus to hit an opponent who missed them in the preceding or same round of combat. They may not wear armor heavier than mail.
Hoplite: Hoplites may attack with their shield. If they hit, they do 1d3 points of damage and their opponent must make a saving throw or fall down. Creatures larger than the hoplite automatically pass their saving throw.
Noble: Nobles gain a +1 bonus to henchmen loyalty and may have 1d3 additional followers.
Paladin: Paladins are holy warriors that can heal a number of hit points equal to two times their level once per day.
Pugilist: Pugilists cause 1d6 damage with unarmed strikes. They must wear hand protection to fight armored foes.
Rogue: Rogues gain a +1 bonus to find traps, secret doors, or other hidden items.
Scout: Scouts gain a +1 bonus to avoid surprise. They detect ambushes on a 1-3 on 1d6.
Slayer: Slayers can make an attack with a -2 to hit penalty. If successful, they hamstring their opponent, who then suffers a -1 to all attack rolls.
Sniper: Snipers make critical hits on a natural 19 or 20 with ranged weapons.
Soldier: Soldiers gain a +2 AC bonus from shields, instead of the normal +1.

Attack Bonuses: Level 1 Fighters are +1 to hit, Level 10 Fighters are +10 to hit (it's +1 per level). 

I'm doing this because I want fighters to be bad-ass. The way I'm setting this up, 9 out of 10 players will be Fighters. The only other option is Mage, and Mages are usually evil, demon-worshiping bastards unsuitable for most campaigns. 

Some priests are mages, and actually good people, though most priests are normal men. There are no separate Cleric or Thief classes.

With regard to Professions, they should fit into any OSR game. OSR games that go to 20 levels should allow a second profession to be chosen at 10th level. 

Friday, January 7, 2011


This is a rule I made for my homebrew, but it should work well in S&W, BFRPG, etc.


If characters or monsters are aware of an enemy and have time to prepare, they can ambush their foes. The targets have a 1 in 1d6 chance of detecting an ambush. If they are actively searching for an ambush, they can detect it on a 1-2 on 1d6. Ambushing creatures do not have to check for surprise, and their foes are surprised on a 1-3 on 1d6.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hidden Door spell

Hidden Door
Spell Level: M1
Range: One door
Duration: 24 hours

This spell causes a door to appear as the surrounding walls. The door can only be found if detected as a secret door. The caster can see the door normally.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

D&D 4e is getting collectible cards

From the site:

Shadow Over Nentir Vale
Dungeons & Dragons Fortune Cards
RPG Staff
Encounter Fortune.
Dungeons & Dragons Fortune Cards, sold in booster packs of 8 cards, give players fun new ways to survive the challenges of the D&D Encounters in-store play program, as well as their home campaigns. These cards give characters fun, temporary benefits that feel different from the benefits gained from powers and feats, without adding undue complexity to the D&D game.
Item Details
Item Code: 316020000
Release Date: February 8th, 2011
Format: Booster Pack (8 cards)
Price: $3.99
ISBN: 978-0-7869-5795-8


I'd laugh if this wasn't so disappointing. I argued with several people that this was going to happen sooner or later, especially with the changes made in 4e, and now they have come true. I'm glad I got out of that treadmill. I hope it works well for 4e players, but I don't envy them.

Dungeon Crawl Classic pre-ordering

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
What It Is, And What It Isn’t
(as posted by Joseph Goodman)

What if Gygax and Arneson had access to the Open Game License when they created D&D? What if they spent their time adapting thirty years of game design principles to their stated inspirations -- rather than creating the building blocks from scratch? What if someone were to attempt just that: to immerse himself in the game’s inspirations and re-envision the output using modern game design principles?

That, in short, is the goal of the Dungeon Crawl Classics role playing game: to create a modern RPG that reflects D&D’s origin-point concepts with decades-later rules editions. For many years I have been a fan of old-school gaming, the history of TSR, and the lore of Appendix N, as reflected in many of the products I’ve published. When Dungeon Crawl Classics #1 appeared on shelves way back in 2003, Goodman Games and Kenzer & Company were the only publishers of “old-school” products. Over the eight years since, the “Old School Renaissance” has blossomed, and now a host of high-quality product lines and thriving communities offer “old-school” products. A subject of some controversy has been the proliferation and originality of “retro-clones”: is it enough to simply re-hash the past? Where my DCC modules once did just that -- dwell in a rosy-toned version of early-era D&D game style and art direction -- the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game goes much further. This is not a retro-clone: this is a re-imagining.

There is a lot to cover regarding DCC RPG, and in the next eleven months we’ll cover all of it. But let’s start with the basics. For those of you who have not read the various con reports and blog commentaries over the last year, this diary entry may be your first exposure to the game. Therefore, for this first designer’s diary, I’d like to establish the record on a couple basic facts. Here’s what the DCC RPG is, and is not:

It is not a retro-clone.

It is an OGL game.

It uses a rules engine derived from the 3E d20 system.

It is not compatible with 1970s/1980s D&D rules.

It plays like a 1970s OD&D session.

It is generally compatible with other d20-derived systems.

It does not include complexities like attacks of opportunity, prestige classes, feats, or skill points.

It does not utilize miniatures or a grid-based combat system.

It utilizes races as classes -- you can be a warrior, or an elf.

It utilizes six ability scores, including one called Luck.

It is built on the assumption that some characters will die.

It is built on the assumption that the strongest characters will provide long-term campaigns.

It is built for low-level, mid-level, and high-level play.

It does not require that you start at 0-level (though doing so is fun).

It does not use the traditional D&D spell system associated with memorizing spells.

It uses spellcasting rules influenced by the foundational authors of swords & sorcery.

It uses a Vancian magic system…if you use the term “Vancian” to mean “based on a reading of Vance’s original works,” not “what D&D does.”

It is grounded in the fundamentals of Appendix N.

It is a proud descendant of a long tradition.

It is an opportunity to showcase outstanding art in a classic fantasy style.

It is lots of fun to play.

It primarily uses the conventional dice suite: d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20. Most combat and spell checks are resolved with a d20 roll.

It also utilizes Zocchi dice. All of them. Including the d5, d7 and d24.

It is, in my humble opinion, a version of what D&D could have been, if the early pioneers had access to an existing, robust rules engine to which to adapt their Appendix N inspirations, instead of dedicating their energies to building the foundational blocks from scratch.

It is, as Harley described it early on, “pre-D&D swords & sorcery.”

That’s all for now. Next time: more on, pre-D&D swords & sorcery -- or, Brought to You by Appendix N…

Sounds pretty cool. The only hiccup is the Zocchi dice. I can't see a good reason to require them to  play. I think this is a mistake on Goodman's part. Which is too bad, because I know he will release a ton of modules for the game.

Pact Magic Part 2 (Faeries)

Armor Class: 8 [12]
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: Magic Missile (1d6)
Special: None
Move: 9/14 (flying)
HDE/XP: 4/120
Faeries are woodland spirits, and often appear to others as tiny, winged elves. They can shapeshift at will, and are very magical. If attacked, they cast magic missile (as an innate ability) every round, and do not need to roll to hit. Faeries gain a +4 to Save vs. Magic.

Faeries can grant spell access to Mages. They usually grant spells related to charms or wilderness adenturing. They will not offer access to necromancy or demon summoning. Faeries require that food be left out for them every night, but this should never be mentioned in conversation. Thanking them will cause them to leave the caster forever.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pillar of Madness

A pillar, about 30 feet high and 10 feet in diameter, is situated on a plain, hill, or large clearing in woodlands. It has been there for centuries. No one knows where it came from. It is inscribed with strange runes, that match no known language. Anyone who comes within 100 feet of it must make a saving throw vs. magic, or be compelled to approach the pillar. This saving throw must be made each round that the person is within 100 feet of the pillar. The pillar also affects animals, monsters, and even insects.

When the creature touches the pillar, it immediately goes berserk. It will attack anyone nearby, friend or enemy, with whatever is at hand. Affected people may not use spells, only melee combat. The berserker will continue to attack any living creature nearby until it dies. The berserker will not eat or drink, just wander out from the pillar, killing as it goes. A Remove Curse spell will grant the affected person or creature another Saving Throw.

No known magic has been able to destroy the pillar. Even wishes fail. It is a powerful artifact, that is truly too dangerous to use.

In some worlds, a paladin order or similar organization sets up a perimeter to prevent creatures from being affected. Unfortunately for them, birds, ants, bees, and other such creatures still reach the pillar, and then end up attacking the guardians.