Friday, February 28, 2020

Can We Talk About The Dungeons & Dragons 3: Book of Vile Darkness Movie?

                  I know…..Believe me I know……I was there opening night in the theater for the first Dungeons & Dragons movie. I attended a watch party at a friend’s house for the second Dungeons & Dragons movie. At that point I tuned out of the entire process. I did not know that they even released a third movie until 2018 when I read a random blog that mentioned it. I made an immediate search for it and watched it that night. I remember telling my wife before watching it, “This will be shit, but I have to watch it.” She laughed and told me that I did not have to watch it, but I did. And……..

I did not hate it, in fact, I kind of liked it.

                Don’t get me wrong it is not an exceptional movie by any means, but taking into account a few factors, it is an actual home run in comparison with the others. I do not think the movie would be enjoyable to people outside the hobby, but people who enjoy D&D might be able to get some cool stuff from the movie. Some of the characters are quite memorable, the plot is very Dungeons & Dragons, the special effects, while not great, are evocative of the game. The acting has its limitations, but I can honestly say that they are trying. It is also a more adult story than the previous two movies. There is some nasty gore, orgies, and some really evil acts. What were expecting from The Book of Vile Darkness? The story feels like it actually has at least a modicum of weight to it and I like the situation that the main protagonist is placed into and what he must do. They throw in some obvious 4e references like what armor the main character should buy heroic or paragon. Cheesy, but it is not altogether ruining of the story.

Slight Spoilers Ahead

                I am going to try and explain bits of the movie without spoiling the whole thing. I will try and stick to information that can be gleaned from the trailer provided with this article. With that being said, here we go. The story is about a young knight/paladin that is in search of his father, who himself is also a knight/paladin of a sacred order. He learns that a group of foul mercenaries are working for his father’s abductors and decides to join them in order to learn the whereabouts of his father. The mercenary company is looking for pieces of the Book of Vile Darkness in order to reassemble it and rule the world. While working for the mercenaries the knight is forced to make decisions on how far he is willing to go in order to rescue his father. He is faced with interesting decisions and moral dilemmas that would be fun as a DM to make the players face. He is constantly faced with blowing his cover, or doing something against his code of honor.

The main characters are the following:
  • Grayson – A young knight/paladin who will do whatever it takes to rescue his father. His faith is constantly tested.
  • Akordia – A Shadar-kai witch who appears to have escaped from enslavement and now just wants to adventure.
  • Bezz – AKA The Verminlord This guy is great. He is a mustache twirling bad guy, but the performance is fun and the concept is interesting. He appears to be a wizard with the theme of plagues of insects.
  • Seith – A shadow assassin with a religious bent. He believes the world is basically those who kill and those that can be killed. The fittest will survive.
  • Vimak – A goliath barbarian who is in it for the wine, women, and song. He has a slightly interesting background that gets explored in one scene.

Lesson For Our Games  

                This movie is an interesting example of how you could in theory run an evil party without it going completely to shit. It actually has a paragon of virtue knight running with them as well and it seems natural. The evil party never quite trusts one another, but they need each other to accomplish their goals. Do I recommend running evil parties, in general, no. If you were going to do it though, and you had that one hold out that HAD to play a paladin, this is a way you could go about it. It would take a lot of maturity from the players, and accepting to precepts before the game even started. It could work, it has a lot of ways it can go wrong, but it could work.

                I also like the way that you could see alignment through this movie. The young knight was obviously a Lawful Good person when the movie begins, but he is forced or tempted throughout the movie to make interesting choices. I emphasize the word interesting. Many times, I am guilty of it too, DMs put players in situations that at stark good or evil, it is the gray decisions that are so much more fun though. I have a thing I do with my parties that I occasionally write them “Love Letters” as stolen from Apocalypse World RPG. These letters are basically downtime actions and situations that the players face. Since I am writing them ahead of time, I have plenty of time to make the situations “interesting”. Below is an example from my game.

Dearest Hera,
                You barely scrapped out of that last bit of fun didn’t you? You left the corpses of at least four followers and one companion on the field dead. You are finally getting some time to rest and recuperate in the fine town of Helix. One day Hendon comes up and asks to speak to you. He states that his son, Tamson, has been acting funny lately. He is extremely sullen and generally does not eat well anymore. He is worried about his son and was hoping you might take a look at him. He knows that Paladins often times have the ability to heal disease and he fears that he caught a nasty pox. Hera, your father taught you about such symptoms and they are often psychological. Your father said these people were suffering from “Soldier’s Heart”. Sometimes when a solider sees something they cannot comprehend, something inside breaks and they cannot function well in society.  Curing diseases of the mind is generally not the area of magics, but you have heard of men and women who work in the powers of the mind. They often gather in remote monasteries to practice their traditions.

Here’s the rub…..

Hendon believes this illness that has struck his child was cause by his overbearing nature in wanting to protect the boy. He feels great guilt about this and is desperate for a cure. You can alleviate that guilt by telling him the truth that you were using his child as a guide. This will solidify that he will not trust you or your crew ever again, thus not allowing you to help Tamson with his illness.


You can keep the secret to yourself an obvious lie of omission, and attempt the help the boy with the father continuing to feel guilt for a crime he did not commit.

Your call…..

Hugs & Kisses,

Your GM

The group had approached Hendon, the father, to act as their guide, but he refused not wanting an adventuring life anymore. His 15 year old son, Tamson, knows the area quite well and was guiding the group without his father’s permission. The group knew his father would not approve. They used him several times, but the adventure just before this the party was attacked at night twice by undead, and they lost several members of the party. The boy panicked and had never seen undead before, let alone them feasting on his companions. It broke him a little. Now the paladin has to make a choice, lie, in order to be able to help the boy in the future, or keep the secret, but let the father believe he is to blame. I think this is an interesting choice, and scrapes some alignment boundaries.


                Is it a great movie, no. Is it and interesting movie for some, yes. If you can check it out, I see a lot of reviews on amazon that say it is much underrated, and I would agree with that sentiment. To me this is the best “official” D&D movie we got, and I do still watch it on occasion for fun. Like just last night to prepare to write this today. I tried to stay brief on details to not spoil much of the movie, so if you can find it, give it a chance.

The DVD can be found here, it looks like it is region coded, but can be played on computers.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

3 Inexpensive Game Products That I Love

               I am frugal with my RPG dollars and you can see that these products meet that requirement. I love that we are in a time now when lots of price range options are around for RPGs. I hope you like these products and get lots of game time in with them. These are all products that I have personally used and enjoyed. They are a bit different in terms of theme, but each will give you things you can pull from for any campaign.

Machinations of the Space Princess

                This game to me radiates “cool”. It is self-described as “Sexy, Sleazy Swords & Sci-Fi” which really does fit the bill. I just like the overall theme of the game and the ruleset that goes along with it. The game comes with a BX-like rule system that has a bunch bells and whistles attached to give it a more space/sci-fi flair. The vibe the game is going for is much more Star Wars and Flash Gordon and less The Expanse or Traveller. It has all the neat robots, psionics, lasers, monsters, and cackling villains you could ever want for a setting like this. 
               It has an awesome Game Master’s section about GMing in general, and how to get the tone of the game just right. You get a section with a huge D100 chart of plot hooks, and tons of other random charts for creating space systems, planets, and creatures. These are like a much lighter version of version of Kevin Crawford’s Stars Without Number charts, with a HUGE amount of pulp sci-fi action. The tail end of the book has a short, but great starting adventure “The Siege of Proxima Bar” and after that is a metric ton of options and add-ons for the game. If you are into any Sci-Fi game, especially one that is using OSR mechanics like BX/OSE, this is a great product. You can easily port a lot of the content to another game, and the art is evocative of the genre. This is usually my most important factor in liking a game product, can I pull stuff from it for other games. With this game it is certainly the case.

You can find Machinations of the Space Princess here.

A Single, Small Cut

                I have previously posted about A Single, Small Cut but it was not one of my more popular posts, so I am going to rant about it again because I love it. It is an adventure made for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but is compatible with pretty much any OSR system. It is a micro-adventure weighing in at only 8 pages, but is perfect for two avenues. One, it is one of the best one-shots you can get for the price, and I have personally run it at least a dozen times and never had a group not like it. Two, it is a great start to a campaign if you wanted to go that route. The features and backstory that it introduces is fun and interesting and any GM worth their salt can make a game that revolves around the premise. It comes with a great layout/map of an old, medieval church which I have used in other games. The adventure is also perfectly suited to about a 4 hour timeslot for a convention, or a local games day. All of this, and it is only $2. Everyone should have this book in their collection.

            I am trying to avoid spoilers in this review, but if you want more details on the book see my link below. I go into a full description of how I actually use the module at the table and what pre-gens I use for the events. This makes it simple to jump right into the action and get to playing. I cannot stress enough that I have run this for roughly 100 people and to my knowledge, everyone has come out happy.

You can find A Single, Small Cut here.

Want to see how I run this at my table click here.


                Morgansfort is a modern sandbox adventure for Basic Fantasy. Basic Fantasy is easily compatible with any OSR system. The book is very inexpensive for what you get. I ran a weekly year-long campaign using BX with this book. The book provides good details on Morgansfort itself, the areas surrounding it, and three separate dungeon complexes within reach of the fort for the beginning party to explore. It heavily reminds me of Keep on the Borderlands, but it is filled out a bit more, with more areas to explore beyond a single cave network. I certainly have plans to use this again in the future, but a lot of my current players played in my previous games and the plot is ruined for them. A few more years when they all graduate, I am going to bust this one out again. The PDF is free, and the print copy is at cost because the designer does not want to make money on the project.

             This was one of the best campaigns I ever ran and my students still talk about it to this day. This gives you an amazing base to build upon, and Basic Fantasy has plenty of other cheap products to add to this adventure. You could expand this way beyond low levels, but keep Morgansfort as your home base. I think it is infinitely expandable and for the price is a steal. 

The physical copy of Morgansfort can be found here for under $4.

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Monday, February 24, 2020

Should D&D be Competitive?

(The article below discusses Tournament D&D, if you are unfamiliar with that concept, please click here for an explanation.)

              Something happened last week in my local area there was a 5e D&D tournament. I know this was a popular event in the D&D in the 70s and especially the 80s, but as far as I know seemed to start to die out with the introduction of 2nd edition. I joined the hobby right as 2nd Edition came out and was quite young so I was never able to attend any of these events in their heyday, but in reading and listing to interviews with some of D&D founding members, it was not only popular, but highly profitable. It seems weird that something that was this profitable (according to interviews) would not have continued with D&D in a bigger fashion or at least be picked up by someone else, unless the culture had changed dramatically. I know that there are still many versions of “organized play” i.e. Adventurers League, Pathfinder Society, etc, but I believe people would not classify those as competitive. I also know that tournaments still happen at major events, but from what I can gather, they are not nearly as popular. 

                I use to go to DragonCon every year before my son was born. I was there 1999 thru 2012, and there was an event that I played in a few times called “Cheese Grinder”. It appears that they are still running these up to today, but the goal was to live the longest in a series of death trap style rooms. You make the “cheesiest” character within the guidelines and try to not die. If you die you are immediately replaced by another person. I think it was $1-3 per character, and you waited in a bull pen for your turn. It was competitive D&D in a sense, because you were only out for yourself. These events were a lot of fun, I wouldn’t exactly call it a tournament, but it had some of the same elements that a tournament might have.

Responsible for tournaments in the past.

With the Old-School Revival being gaining a lot of traction, and 5e being super popular in the past few years it seems that these type of events might start gaining traction too. If it is though, I am unaware of it. It also seems that with the advent of computers and the technological revolution it would be easier to organize and get something like this running. Would people play in it though? Here is the kicker from the story above about the D&D tournament that was local here in town, it was a ghost town. There are several possible reasons, the store hosting is very new and this was an attempt to get people in the door. The city I am in has about 5 solid gaming stores with D&D Adventurers League running 5-10 tables per event, so players in the area is not an issue. I also run a D&D club at my local college with about 30 members, I offered to run a tournament at a games day we were having, and I received no interest in the idea at all. Competitive D&D was not accepted by newer generations in my group.

From Designers & Dragons, shows that AD&D was being developed for the tournament scene.

Could one of the Old School Publishers like Goodman, Necrotic Gnome, Goblinoid Press, or Frog God Games step up and organize these tournaments on a semi-regular basis? I know that they are often extremely small companies, but I believe they could get a lot of help from volunteers in the community. Or has the culture of D&D shifted over the years and the tournament scene could never get to the place it was before? The people that play D&D now are not into the idea of being competitive, and only want to play a co-operative experience. Could WotC create a new competitive scene with 5e D&D and promote it within the community? With Twitch and YouTube taking off it seems like you could find a possible wider audience for tournaments with D&D. ESports and D&D are popular on those mediums so maybe the tournament scene could flourish?

Sweep the character sheet, do you have a problem with that?

This brings us to the overall question, should D&D ever be played competitively? D&D has its roots in wargaming, and wargamers have tournaments all the time. Have role-playing games separated themselves so far from the roots that tournaments are no longer a viable option? I find it to be an interesting question. Have any thoughts on the matter? Post below with your opinions.

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Review of Times That Fry Men’s Souls

               This was a long time in coming, I have wanted to review this product for a while, but never got around to doing it. I want to get this out right in the beginning, I love this book. I think Sean McAnally did a fantastic job and I find it useful on many levels. The concept is something a bit rarer and different to the OSR scene being a historical hexcrawl. What exactly do you get with this purchase? It is a Hexcrawl set in the Revolutionary War that provides a rich setting with all the horrid twists you would want with an old-school product. For those that are familiar with the Deadlands role-playing game, this setting would be akin to that but about 100 years before. The main setting is still the Revolutionary War, but it has all the supernatural stuff that make it more interesting. The book makes no strong claims to historical accuracy and the author admits that the situations have been simplified for playability. For your average knowledge player this will be accurate enough, if you happen to be a history major or serious history buff, you will find the occasional issue, but nothing over the top. The book has stats that are easily transferable to any old-school type game. The book tries to make allowances for differences in style instead of listing AC in ascending or descending form, it list things like AC “as chainmail” so that you can easily figure out what it is in your game. A typical stat block is provided below.

What Do You Get?

                 The back of the physical book is an 80 hex map of the area surrounding New York. Each hex is labeled and most hexes have on average two encounters listed in the books with description and each page is a single hex. Encounters include everything from the super mundane like hunting a pack of white-tail deer, to meeting deserters from the war, to fighting ancient Native American monsters. The mix is quite good and allows you to have different encounters if the players return to the hex, or decided to spend a prolong period of time encamped. The biggest encounters get a large paragraph with the smaller ones having only a sentence or two. This is perfect for running on the fly because the core information is available and described in brief.

A typical encounter with stat block

The beginning of the book has a lovely list of the various plot threads and the different hexes that they are located in, this just makes it easier to know where your players might head in a given day. The plot threads are not a necessity for the players to follow, but something for them to do if they desire. There is no real ticking clock and the world will end if the players do not act. The players are free to get involved with whatever they desire it is an extremely open sandbox. One of the few nitpicks I have is I wish there was a GM’s map that put out all the locations without the texture. You could even print that on a transparency and put it over the map. This is nothing that cannot be solved with a printer and a marker though.
The next section of the book is entitled “Weird Tales of the Supernatural”. This is an amazing asset for any GM. These are 10 two page min-plots that you can add to the game, or not as you desire. The author gives some ideas on how to implement them, and possible where to implement them, but the decision is yours. Many of these plot threads I have pulled from this book and put into my regular Old-School Essentials games, often with little to no change. One of my favorite involves a woman and a “Devil-Child” that are on the verge of lynching in a town and the PCs have to decide to interfere or not.

Lastly you get a third section that is absolutely full of random tables. This will not only fill your games with a lot of authentic flavor for the period, once again many of the tables would be useful for any old-school game. Examples include period appropriate names for several different nationalities and ethnicity, random encounters, typical meals, weird items, periodicals & books, personal items and many more. This section also has a table for appropriate weapons and armor for the period with listed damages and effects. Most of these conform to the weapons and armor that are commonly found in the old-school games that we are familiar with and use.


                You can get the PDF here for $5, or the print version here for $10. For this little investment you are getting a large amount of material coming in at 144 pages. This is an easy to use supplement that works well with Old-School Essentials, Swords & Wizardry, AD&D, and especially Lamentations of the Flame Princess due to it already having firearms. If you want to read a great supplement that is different than your standard Hexcrawl, give this one a chance. I think you will be quite happy with it.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Was Old School D&D as Deadly as We Think?

               There is a perception that Old School D&D with the original players was incredibly lethal. If you run the game straight as the rules are written, it is hard for it to be anything but lethal. There is plenty of conversation in the OSR scene discussing the “intentions” of the original game designers and how the game was “designed” to be played. I teach about Government & Politics, and I find these arguments extremely similar to arguments about the US Constitution and the “intentions” of the Founding Fathers. People tend to want to read what the Founding Fathers wrote, and interpret those writings for themselves, then claim this is what the original “design” and how the game is meant to be played. The only issue that I have is the evidence I have heard or run across seems to completely disregard this idea.

                I want to be perfectly clear. I do not have ALL the evidence in the world, and some of the stories I have heard MIGHT not be true. This is not me claiming to know the CORRECT way things should be done. This is me asking a few questions that seem to not link up in my mind. I am actually hoping to get some answers. So please, do not post comments about how I am claiming to know everything, because I do not, nor is that my assertion. The three main concepts I will discuss that do not seem to match up to me are lethality, level drain, and leveling overall.


Melf, Bigby, Tasha, Murlynd, Mordenkainen, Robilar These are all characters that we have known about for years. Many of these characters were some of the first ever produced for Dungeons & Dragons. How did they survive? I mean with the lethality level that is presented in the books, and the fact that these people were the first to ever play the game, why didn’t they die at some point? I mean a single failed save vs poison would have killed them. Since these players did not have any reference to exploring dungeons, they had to make a few mistakes, right? Some of the characters like, Robilar, played solo with Gary….solo in a Dungeons & Dragons dungeon. How did they survive? Many of these well-known characters are Magic-Users a notorious character class known to die early. The idea that all of these characters, and many more, made it to extremely high levels leads to one of two conclusions. One, when the original D&D groups played, they did not go rules as written and the lethality was toned way down. Two, resurrection was readily available and not as punishing.

When I ran BX/BECMI with a rules as written approach, I believe I was often very merciful but still averaged about 1.5 deaths per session. These numbers and the stories I hear about older D&D just do not seem to match. I have slowly added some house rules into my games and the lethality has come down quite a bit, but it still happens with some regularity. It is possible that they played so many characters that died, that these just stuck out, but we know that many of these characters are the FIRST characters made for the game and odds are should have died. I cannot wrap my head around what seems to be a non-logical conclusion.

Level Drain

                I have read that the original reason that level drain mechanic was added to the game was that the parties were leveling so fast, and they had an overabundance of wishes. How fast were they leveling and how many wishes did they have exactly? The monsters created would drain levels to keep the PCs from advancing too fast, and the DM could drain the party’s resources, wishes, as they used the wishes to restore levels. What kind of treasure was being given out to the players? Oftentimes even getting a +1 sword in my game is a big deal, let alone multiple Rings of Wishes or Genie Lamps. I did write an article about giving players wishes, but so many that as a DM I need to create a way of burning them for the players? How much gold was being given out that leveling too quickly was becoming an issue?  I fully admit this tale could be apocrypha and maybe I am completely off-base, but this rumor about why it was started has been cited to me numerous times. Speaking of leveling…..


I watched a YouTube video with Tim Kask where he quickly talked about high level play. He mentions that D&D wasn’t really designed to go above about level 10. He mentioned that when your character got to about that level they carved out a piece of land and retired, then you rolled up a new character and went on with a new guy. That sounds amazing and I totally agree, but how many of your characters were getting to about 10th level? The way he made it sound this was like a regular occurrence. I have been running a group of characters since August of this past years. We play weekly, and my highest level character is about to hit 3rd level. What kind of XP were they giving out? I have been playing D&D since 1989 and the amount of characters I have that hit 10th level I can count on one hand and most of those were in later, non-THAC0 editions.

                You listen to reports of people playing nowadays discussing how most characters never make it out of levels 1-2. There seems to be a disconnect with the way things are written about in the books and the way they were actually played. That, or people nowadays are just worse at playing the game, which I do not believe to be the case.


                Odds are there are some simple solutions to the questions that I pose and I am more that open to hearing the explanations. I am just curious why these ideas that I have in my head, do not seem to match the stories that I hear. If you can shine some light on the situation, please comment on the post.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Why I Made the Switch to Death & Dismemberment

                Death and how it is played out is always a funny and contentious topic for people playing RPGs. Many people want to stick to the letter of the law in the rulebooks, and many others think that harsher rulesets spoil people’s fun. There is no correct answer to this little problem, but there is a correct answer for your particular table. In the past few years I have experimented with several types of systems regarding death in my Old-School Essentials games. We really need to ask, “What purpose does death serve in the game?” Death is a mechanic, just like AC, so why is it needed? We could just as easily have characters always get knocked out, and come back to the game right after the fight. Is it to “punish” the bad players for making stupid decisions? I’ve found that many players play the game extremely smart, but bad luck can kill a character, so is that fair? If a character can go down in combat and get back up with no consequences whatsoever, do they have a motivation to play in a reasonable manner? Answering the question of “why” we have the mechanic in our game can give us an idea of what type of mechanic to use.

The first thing that I did for a while was go back to my 2e roots and allow characters to go to -10 hit points before death. I had them bleed out at a rate of 1 hit point per round unless bandaged. The pros to this system are that it can create some form of desperation on the battle field as a companion is bleeding on the floor. Since the range is so big though, 10 points, I often found that people would say, “Don’t worry, I’m only at -2 I’ve got like 7 more rounds.” This kills suspense and is basically an abuse of the mechanics, but it is hard to avoid. Overall the system felt a little too generous and players could abuse it only really having to worry about death with an unlucky critical roll.
Next I swung the opposite direction and just had players who hit 0 hit points rolled a save vs death. If they succeeded they were knocked out, if they failed, they died. This certainly created a lot of death in the game. I was averaging 1.5 PC deaths per session. This definitely created a sense of caution in my players, but almost to the point of stagnation. Players would endlessly debate options because everyone knew they were a single roll away from death and PC reset. Life was cheap and so were the characters that my players were creating. This also gave an advantage to classes like the Dwarf who have a great Death Save versus other classes. Dwarves were downright unkillable, especially the one who got a Ring of Protection.

This caused me to really think about what I wanted out of the death mechanic and I decided that I wanted the death mechanic to serve as a PC clock. The PCs start the game fresh as a daisy, but as the clock ticks, they gain scars, injuries, and possibly death. I decided to use Goblin Punch Death and Dismemberment v.23 as my go to death mechanic. This has some of the best features of the previous two systems, and eliminates a lot of the things I did not like about them too. The other great thing is that it is compatible with almost any OSR system.
For those that are not familiar with Death & Dismemberment rules, characters who reach 0 hit points are not automatically dead. Up until that point they are taking superficial damage, once they hit 0 hit points they are taking massive hits. They now run the risk of losing limbs, becoming blind, gaining massive scars, etc. This also can lead to some cool moments, I had a character battling several enemies, and he lost the use of his shield arm, had a concussion, but still battled on. Characters don’t want to go below 0 because major injury can happen, so the fear is still there, but death is not assured. They still might bleed out over the floor, but the time frame is much quicker and desperate. I now have some heroes with some great war stories, and the wounds to show for it. Over time their characters are becoming richer, but also are becoming more mangled and might have to retire. My players love this system compared to the previous versions I have used and it is right for my table.

I would highly suggest taking a look at the death mechanic that you are using and does it do what you want it to do? What do you want out of a possible PC death? Do you want it to be more dramatic? More cut and dry? Or for it to have lasting consequences. I prefer the latter, but I believe there are situations where all 3 are viable.

Goblin Punch blog can be found here and has lots of great content.

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

3 Great Zines on Kickstarter Now

        I do not know how many people know about Zine Quest, but it is a cool challenge that is going on in the month of February. People are challenged to run a 2 week Kickstarter for a small zine with some form of RPG content. You have lots of creators out there creating new material at a low price point. The zine range from OSR zines with a ton of maps, to awesome new settings for multiple genres, to complete microgames. If you have not gone to Kickstarter and checked these out you should, and more will be coming as the month goes on. Just go to Kickstarter and search for Zine Quest. If you are possibly interested in publishing a zine for the contest, check out this link for the rules to the completion.

I have backed three of the zines so far, and I wish my wallet could afford more. Here are the ones I am getting behind, in no particular order. (Links provided to each below)

According to the Kickstarter:

                “Hunters in Death is set in the Komor Forest. A place that's consumed civilizations and birthed abominations. Yet there is a single outpost, Hounds Head, that holds back the darkness. It's a beacon for adventurers. Silver and blood are promised. And delivered. Some adventurers return with sacks overflowing with coins and jewels, but most fertilize the forest with their blood.”

            I dug the art on this one, and I can always use another forest location that is full of blood and treasure. Seems like I can plug this in just about anywhere, possibly in one of the forests surrounding Helix in the Barrowmaze Megadungeon. There is something in the full description of the game that appeals to me, I like the “don’t expect anything in the way of balance.” It had a goal of $500 and it is extremely close to $3000 at the time this was written.

According to the Kickstarter:

                “This zine will take players on a journey into a land of the never-dying, a dungeon where the worst fate in most adventures may seem like the greatest mercy. Players will have to navigate a starved, hostile land, where their minds will prove their greatest weapon for their survival.” 

                Again, art is so important and this one brought me to this one again. The style is vastly different from the previous campaign, but it has a style of its own that seems to match the theme. I also thought this was an interesting idea. What happens in a campaign if your PCs cannot take a “Kill my problems” away mentality? This also seems like it will be portable and I can place it wherever I want possibly in multiple settings. As of the writing of this article the project was about 70% funded with nine days still remaining. It is only about $100 or about 10 pledges from being fully funded.

According to the Kickstarter:

                “The Adventurer's Guide to the Yol'Najj Forest is an adventure setting for intrepid travelers in any fantasy table top RPG. Focusing on the Yol'Najj Forest and the surrounding mountain range, the area is known as one of the magical power centers of the world. Recently, a great explosion ruptured part of the mountain range and showered crystals upon the forest, causing chaos and unveiling long hidden mysteries. The region will change around you based on your adventuring party's choices!”

                Another plug and play setting that seems to have some interesting ideas, and the art looks cool and interesting again. Out of the three listed so far, this seems the most polished. There is no way this project was not started a few months ago and just launched a few days ago. In the full breakdown you are getting quite a lot for $10, it is shaping up to be a small book instead of a zine. As of writing this it has tripled its $800 goal, and several of the stretch goals are being ticked off the list.


                These all look great, and there are multiple others that look great too, but I have a limited budget. I am excited to say that I was asked to participate in a Zine for Zine Quest #2 that is being quickly put together. I don’t know how much I am allowed to say due to an NDA, but those familiar with my work might be a tad surprised by the content. Hopefully more to follow soon. Get out there and support these indie creators, they are the lifeblood of our community.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

New Class for OSE/BX - Troubadour


Requirements: Minimum CHA 9
Prime requisite: CHA
Hit Dice: 1d4
Armor: Leather, No Shield
Weapons: Missile Weapons, One Hand Melee Weapons
Languages: Common

                Troubadours are the grandest poets in the land often hopping from court to court plying their trade. They often take up with adventurers to gain some wealth, and more importantly stories to turn into their poems. What Troubadours lack in the physical realm they more than make up with in the social realm. Many an adventuring party has had the local bureaucracy smoothed over by the gentle graces of these songsmiths. Their knowledge of the comings and goings of the lands is expansive, and their ability to gain knowledge unmatched. Courts and towns alike all cherish the time they spend with a Troubadour and their creations.

Ear to the Ground
The Troubadour can attempt determine the validity of any rumor. The Troubadour must spend 10 GP and do an hour of carousing, at the end they roll d6. On a 1-4, they determine the truthfulness of the rumor. On a 5-6, they are unable to gather the information needed. This may only be attempted once per rumor.    

Troubadour Skills
  • Hear noise (HN): In a quiet environment (e.g. not in combat), a Troubadour may attempt to listen at a door or to hear the sounds of something (e.g. a wandering monster) approaching.
  • Hide in shadows (HS): Requires the Troubadour to be motionless—attacking or moving while hiding is not possible.
  • Move silently (MS): A Troubadour may attempt to sneak past enemies unnoticed.
  • Pick pockets (PP): If the victim is above 5th level, the Troubadour’s roll is penalized by 5% for every level above 5th. There is always at least a 1% chance of failure. A roll of more than twice the percentage required for success means that the attempted theft is noticed. The referee should determine the reaction of the victim.

Troubadour learn new languages as they advance in level. At every even numbered level (i.e.2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, etc.), the player may choose an additional language.

A Troubadour has a 2-in-6 chance of knowing lore pertaining to monsters, magic items, or heroes of folk-tale or legend. This ability may be used to identify the nature and powers of magic items.

Poet’s Blessing
People generally like Troubadours, or at least they tolerate them. The Troubadour receives a +1 to all reaction rolls they attempt.

After Reaching 11th Level
A Troubadour can establish a college. 2d6 apprentices will come to study under the character.

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