Friday, December 11, 2015

Grognardia Three Years Gone

The last post of Grognardia was three years ago today.

Like many my gateway to the OSR was this blog. I searched "Gord the Rouge" and found the blog.

I read and realized I was Old School.

Thanks James.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

City on the Hill

I love city maps, and I spend a lot of time downloading maps I find online, often at the This one was posted recently by Narolas and would make a wonderful addition to any campaign.
There are a lot of things to appreciate about this map, the city sitting on a hill with a large fortress on the top, the ruined wall running through it hinting at an ancient history and hidden secrets buried beneath the city, the little villages surrounding it begging for clandestine meetings at the small inns after a desperate midnight summons and a ride through the dark countryside.

Monday, November 2, 2015


I think that art is important to set the tone of a game, one of the reasons I struggle with Pathfinder is the ridicules art. Every time I see the barbarian in the main book with a sword made of 300lbs of iron I laugh a little. Conversely the classic black and white line art of 1E and 2E really hits the spot for me. I also think 5E did a great job of presenting more realistic art after the excesses of 3e and 4e.

In my original draft I used art pilfered from the B/X books and adventures of that era. I needed art as a place holder and to let my original play-testers know the style of play I was emulating. Obviously I have the financial sense to know that paying a competent artist to illustrate my vanity RPG is an unwise decision, but I also know a consistent art style is hard to achieve with public domain art.

I have limited artistic talent so I have gone the simple route of creating my own art using black and white silhouettes. This is time consuming as I use public domain pieces and slowly turn them into silhouettes in a often slow process. This is my latest piece, I am not entirely happy with the flail, and may change it to a mace, hammer, or sword.

My intention is this is not a werewolf, but a primal wolf creature, probably the terrible offspring of a titan and a she-wolf. I like the size of the wolf creature and the implied resolve of the crusading cleric bent on ridding the earth of this primal menace.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Spelljamming 5e Style

I have been working on finishing Appendix One: Sample Patrons, mostly just editing and adding art at this point. It is 44 pages long, 12 more than the main rule book, but I wanted to present plenty of options for player.

The project has dragged on longer than expected and I need to finish it so I can move on to Appendix Two: Arcane Magic. Realistically lets say 2018. Lets see if I can beat George R.R. Martin.

Meanwhile I have been playing a half-orc fighter in a 5e Spelljammer game. He is a smart ass swashbuckling scoundrel type who tries to talk his way in to trouble as often as possible. He is built for stealth and thievery, and I don't think he is optimized at all, but I am having fun playing him.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Never Tell Me The Odds

I ran a game of Star Wars “Birthday Game” for my friend I have been gaming with since 1990. We used d20 Star Wars as a basis for the system, but as all d20 based systems are alike we played by the spirit and not the exact letter of the rules. I have never GMed or played d20 Star Wars, and it is way too crunchy to be a go to system for me, but I didn’t have time to homebrew anything, and figured working on an adventure was more productive than building a system.
I hate what Star Wars has become, and this game is based on Episodes 4, 5, and 6 as the only cannon, all prequels, novels, and other content ignored. I set my game in Mos Eisley a half dozen years before the events of Episode 4 and described my game as Shadow Runners in a Star Wars Universe with a healthy dose of Dungeon Crawling. No Jedi allowed just down on their luck mercenary types getting pulled into the seedy underbelly of Tatoonie.
The characters purged the depths of an abandoned moister farm looking for a stolen surgery bot. A small dungeon that ended with the characters heading off in landspeedes for a three way show down between The Empire, the goons of a crime boss, and themselves as they speed across the desert. But that will be the next session. The they hit the real dungeon HERE as they try and evade the enemies they created.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rules Cyclopedia Charachter

This is an single session character from an online Rules Cyclopedia game, cut short by scheduling conflicts.

Halvard was rolled 3d6 in order with two rerolls and the addition of three homebrew stats. Comeliness was my downfall. I am not a fan of Basic one spell Magic Users so I went with a Fighter, a smart Fighter.

Halvard had a short but distinguished career. I will skip to the end of the adventure after we had barley managed to kill a demon. Returning to saftey low on food in the dead of winter Halvard and his adventuring band came across the one route over the river guarded by equally hungry bandits. Halvard seeing no alternative spurred his charger into battle, a battle that killed one of his companions and knocked the rest unconscious. Halvard killed bandits till they fled. Bandaging his companions I rolled a dice to see if Halvard was vengeful, he was. Hoping they would not freeze before his return he left his companion and tracked the bandits that fled then killed them.

We switch campaigns faster than underwear in high school, and Halvard will join the ranks of the hundreds of characters of mine who played one session before being retired alive and richer than they started. I will miss Halvard, and his potential, but he made it out alive and rich.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Charachter Sheet

My character sheet from a  campaign of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. This Campaign was unfortunately brief as I moved across the country.

I modified my Peril and Plunder sheet and was happy with the "Dice" for stat and skills.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Best Source for Spell Components and Magical Properties of Materials?

My work on finishing my Sample Patron’s book has been long stalled while I worked on ceremonies (complicated long lasting spells for casters using Piety). Writing the ceremonies was not really the problem, I only have 15, but I really wanted to include sample components for each as well as upgraded components that would reduce the costs of these ceremonies.
The 1E DMG has some suggested magical properties for gems and the real world medical application of herbs, but not a lot of magical effects attributed to these herbs and flowers in medieval times. Well after struggling with this as my resource I turned to my collection of RPGs looking for more inspiration.

I thought Ars Magica was going to be my savior, but it included little of this. I then spent more time reading it than I should, because I am somewhat fascinated by it as a concept. Warhammer and Pendragon were both of little help but again time thieves. Blood and Treasure had a small section which was better than expected, but I again reread part of this as I am playing in a B/X game right now.

Eventually I opened up my Chivalry and Sorcery 3rd edition and worked my way through the walls of tightly packed text to pages 9-129 thru 9-131 which has more tightly packed pages of the Magical properties of Herbs, Flowers, Woods, Gemstones, Metals, and Miscellaneous Materials.

Thank you Edward E. Simbalist, Wilf Backhaus, and G.W. Thompson for including this in your book.
I can say I am never going to even attempt to read or play Chivalry and Sorcery, but these pages where invaluable as a source of inspiration and reference. I have no idea who did the research, but it looks legit and was much better than anything I could find on the internet.

Here is an interesting blog entry on C&S from a blog I should pay more attention too

Here is a link to buy the 4th edition which I have no idea if it includes the same information

Here is a sample ceremony, about 75% complete but just editing at this point.

Animal Barrier 3 Any Non-Primal
Piety Cost: 60 (laity)
Casting Time: 3 hours Duration: 1 year
During this ceremony a line is traced using a mixture of sacred materials. The beginning and end of the line must meet, and the line can be no more than 600 feet long. Once the ceremony is successful completed no animals may willing enter the area enclosed by the line, and all animals within the area will seek to leave the area as fast as possible. The effects of this ceremony travel 100 feet above and below the line.
Sample Components: At least one gallon of animal blood mixed with primrose blossoms, mugwort, grave dirt, and ash made from burring juniper bark.
Reductions: Using a gallon of centaur blood reduces the cost of this ceremony by 20 PP. Adding soot from a forge or smelter reduces the cost by 10 PP. Dirt from the grave of a hunter reduces cost by 5 PP. Adding the powdered bones of a woman killed by a wild beast reduces cost by 20 PP. Adding snake tongues soaked in brine for 48 hours reduces the cost by 10 PP.  Gathering the Mugwort at dawn reduces the cost by 3PP.

Monday, May 25, 2015

What Can Mad Max teach us about D&D Adventure Design?

I saw Fury Road again on Saturday, wanted to see in in 2D after seeing it last week in 3D. I have seen Road Warrior more times than I can count. They keep the plot moving, why because

They Don’t Waste Time on Backstory

Max does not care how Lord Humongous became leader of the warlord of a band of raging bandits. Max just wants to fill up his tank and move on. Likewise we do not need to how Joe came to rule the citadel, or how the uneasy alliance between Bullet town, Gas town and the Citadel works, he just wants to survive. If your adventure has three pages of backstory on a guy who is never going to interact with the party outside of initiative you have failed.

I have some quibbles with the movie, mostly the end. Max is the hero who reluctantly helps and his reward is ending off worse than he was.  It should have ended with Max on the ground, beaten and battered and the enemy not wasting their time to finish him off. Thunderdome and Road Warrior share this ending to good effect. We don’t need to see Furiosa return to the Citadel. Just the ladies getting away with a voice over from one of them saying they won their freedom, found their green place. and never saw the one called Max again.

The beginning plays out like a typical RPG debate between a DM who wants to keep some semblance continuity in his campaign and a player who is being selfish.

DM: OK lets pick up from last time. You are battered and bruised on the ground barley haven survived. As Aunty leaves you pass out. When you awake you are being handled by men covered in white paint. In your weakened condition you can offer little resistance.
Player: Wait wait wati before we start I built this character to drive an interceptor, can I find one?

DM: No the one you had was “The last of the V8s”, besides you’re the one who set a bobby trap you were so proud.

Player: Come on you killed my animal companion, give me my car back.

DM: Noooo

Player: But last time I barley even drove a car.  I am playing a Road Warrior I should have gone straight fighter if I never drive anyway.

DM:  But it won’t make sense, your car blew up.

Player: It’s just us man who cares

DM: Fine you have your car. Men in vehicles approach at high speed, they look like they are covered in white paint.

Player: I jam the gas, I am pretty sure I can out run them…..

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A What If Product Pitch: Star Wars Mega Dungeon

The above is a still from the new Star Wars Trailer. As I watched this I thought wow, that’s a Mega Dungeon waiting to happen. On my run Saturday morning I thought more about it and formulated a half mad idea of what I would do if I could use Star Wars IP in a OSR dungeon crawl setting.
Pitch: A sandbox set around Mos Eisley with a crashed Star Destroyer serving as a Tentpole mega dungeon. The setting would be in the Star Wars universe, but would use only Episodes 4-6 as cannon and is set 20 years before them.

System: A Sci-Fi version of the Peril and Plunder, with an expanded skill system and magic removed. (maybe add force sensitive, but no Jedis) compatible with any OSR system. Gritty and dirty with only the smallest hint of Space Opera.

Scope: Levels 1-5 no more no less. A finite adventure that serves as a mini campaign that runs 12-20 sessions. The characters retire rich or die trying.
The Back Cover: You are not a hot shot pilot, a space princess, or a farm boy with magical powers. You are a dirt poor scavenger hoping you can scrape enough credits together to get off of this rock they call Tatooine.

During the Clone Wars a Star Destroyer attempted an emergency landing in the desert north of Mos Eisley.  Damaged beyond repair the Imperial salvage teams took what they could, buried their dead, released bio-spores to soak up the radiation, and abandoned the ship.

The Jawas tell you somewhere in the vessel is a Type 11 Yelton-Brahs Hyper Pump and they have a buyer that is willing to pay top credits for it. It is up to you to risk the Imperial patrols, Tusken raiders, and whatever radiation spawned monstrosities have made their home in the depths of the wreckage in the last 15 years. Unfortunately it’s only a matter of time before the Hutt’s find out about the buyer and send their own team to recover it…..

Includes: Conversion rules for OSR game sets, new races, equipment, rules for salvage, the Star Destroyer dungeon, the home base of Mos Eisley including the Hutt’s palace, random encounters and side quest in the Dune Sea, new monsters (Krayt dragons, womp rat packs, sarlacks, etc.).
Sure it never going to happen but it made the run go faster.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Third Patron Book and Test

I have added a third Patron Book to DrivethruRPG (link at the right). I have not yet made the files available for free in my downloads as I have limited access to internet. All my game work goes slow as I have been without internet at my new apartment for almost two months.

This one is for The Order of St. Asclepius, a traveling order of healing monks. The first two Patron Books were solid analogizes to the druid and the cleric, but this is a little different, it presents a divine caster with better healing spells, but less armor and weapon choices and stronger restrictions on actions. It is a more “advanced” choice than the first two or at least a variation to the standard cleric presented in early editions.

My next Patron book will most likely be Vordon, a Primal Patron for barbarian warriors, a patron that would be a good stand in for Thor and presents few restrictions but limited spells.

I have also been working on a random dungeon generator using hex-maps. I am toying with a solo play experience that plays similar to the “Dungeon” board game with a random map and longer play time. It would also have more “Old School” elements like henchman and resource management.
The first step is creating 8 inch hexs with squares in them. I used excel for these and they came out good enough for the test. Each hexs has exits, but will not always connect to the next hex. they are laid randomly as you explore and get progressively harder. a Work in progress and one that is keeping me from finishing what I need to do, the Peril and Plunder Patron Guide and Arcane Magic. both about 75% done.....

Saturday, February 28, 2015

More on Printing and Folding

I am 90% done with the latest Patron Book, but I have one more page of flavor text that I have been slowly working on that I just can't seem to get right.

I am include a link to a post by Matt Jackson on making booklets because it is inspiring and I didn't want to have no post in the month of February.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Do Not Let Your Players Watch This Video

I have no idea if this is real, but this video will have every player trying to convince their DM they can:
·         Jump in the air grab an arrow out of the wall and fire it before they land

·         Jump up into the air from behind their companion’s tower shield and fire at the enemy in front of them

·         Shot their bow at the poor sap across the table while seated in a tavern

·         Make 9 attacks in a five second combat round (or over a hundred in a AD&D 1 minute combat round)

·         Get an AC bonus for using a bow by splitting opponent’s arrows

Heck most of these were probably 4e abilities that I called ridiculous.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I am in the process of adding PDF versions of my books to DriveThruRPG.

the Patron books are free, and I am going to revise the PDF documents to make it easier for printing booklets like this. Make sure your PDF version has a blank page after the cover and before the back cover if not you have an early version and the below will not work.

This is a fairly simple process, though stapling can be a pain if you do not have a long reach stapler (check your office).

I have included screen shots from two different printers as my home printer and fancy work printer do this slightly different.

1. Load the paper you intend to use as the cover to feed first. I use thicker tan card stock for the cover and regular copy paper for the rest.

2. Select "Booklet" and Landscaping
or if you have a fancy work printer "Booklet Printing"
3. Make sure if you can't print double sided to pick "front side only"
or if you have a fancy work printer it prints both sides so hit print and your done.
5. Flip the paper over and you are ready to print the other side just pick "back side only", its ok if it shows a blank page this is the empty cover of the interior.
As you can see very easy. If you don't have a long reach stapler you can using two staplers, using one as the base and one as the stapler, I would suggest practicing on some scrap paper first. 
Best of luck and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Slow and Steady

Tonight’s game was postponed till tomorrow giving me time to work on the finishing touches of my second Patron Book.
This one is for the All Mother, a good equivalent for the druid. It required additional formatting due to the numerous sidebars with charts; stats for animated trees, summoned elementals, and animal forms. This has four more pages, but only two real pieces of “art”, plus some clip art of leaves and vines I took from and the cover I took from an open source piece on wikipedia.

I just finished, so haven’t printed a test yet, but I really need a better stapler to make my booklets. I also need to see if I can get my editor to take a pass over these.
Oh well tomorrow I game.