Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New OSR Titles at RPGNow/DTRPG — March 13th, 2018

Looks like the new version of TORG is out. I remember buying the original boxed set back in the day, but the game seemed designed to sell splatbooks, one for each cosm or whatever its called.


The World of Greyhawk (Folio) -  To me, the best part of this was and is the map.  I think it's always been up as PDF, but now has a POD option. Dunno if that's just for the folio or the map.


Frostbitten and Mutilated -  More a sourcebook than adventure, for LotFP (kinda obvious from the title) and by Zak S.  144 pages and $12.99

One Page Dungeon Compendium: 2011 - $3, 70 pages

Quests of Doom 4: War of Shadows - This seems to be a sequel to some of the 412 Quest of Dooms 4 adventures, but I'm not sure which ones since they aren't numbered. $7.99 and 36 pages

Saving Sujeira's Soul -  This is a historical adventure set in 1400s Portugal which interests me because my grandmother was Portuguese. 20 pages, $2.98, written for 3e but with conversion notes for OSR


Friday Enhanced Map 3-9-2018 -  New named for his enhanced version of his friday freebie map. $1

RPGPundit Presents #23: Uncanny Creatures and Objects -  17 pages, $2.99

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Print Edition of the 1st Issue of Echoes from Fomalhaut

If you've read Fight On! or other OSR zines, you have probably come across some Fomalhaut adventures by Melan. As Fomalhaut is a star system 25 light years away, that tells you it's a mix of fantasy and Sci-Fi, more the former, a lot like Tekumel.  He does a good job of making it strange, but not stupid or silly

Anyway, he's started a 'zine dedicated to it and the first issue is now available  for $8 + shipping

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

New OSR Products at DTRPG/RPGNow — March 6th, 2018

DTRPG/RPGNow is having their GM's Sale, lots of stuff 33% off.  Most notably Northwind AdventuresBeyond the Wall, Bruce Heard , and Expeditious Retreat Press (Advanced Adventures for Osric), Gallant Knight (Mazes & Perils Deluxe)


Quests of Doom 4: A Midnight Council of Quail -  I really don't understand this Quest of Doom numbering scheme. Why are they all 4? Why not 4.1, 4.2, 4.3? Or why not put them in one book/PDF instead of charging ridiculous amounts of money for them? 21 pages and $7.99

Quests of Doom 4: God of Ore -  I think his name is Ee. 33 pages, $7.99

Quests of Doom 4: In the Time of Shardfall - This might actually be good since it's by Michael Curtis. Still, $7.99 for 28 pages is out of my price range and it sounds sorta video-gamey (find 5 shards and destroy them, then kill the boss).

Quests of Doom 4: Pictures at an Exhibition -  I will be very disappointed if there's no Tarkus in this. Actually seems to be a real world adventure. $7.99 and 32 pages.

Quests of Doom 4: The Covered Bridge -  4th to 6th level adventure about a specter. 28 pages, $7.99


Dark Places & Demogorgons: Player Options and GM's Guide -  Add on book for the Strange Things inspired OSR-ish game. 125 pages, PWYW


RPGPundit Presents #22: 13 Cursed Artifacts - $1.99, 12 pages

Friday, March 2, 2018

GoFundMe for Kellri

If you've visited various OSR/old school D&D/AD&D forums you've probably come across or crossed paths with Kellri. He also put together several netbooks of tables and other random stuff on his blog

Well, apparently he's had a stroke and has started a GoFundMe to help pay for his medical bills and living expenses

He's an odd person, but he's one of us, so if you can spare anything, it would be helpful.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

New OSR Products at RPGNow/DTRPG — February 27th, 2018

Lots of adventures this week, including one by Shane Ward



Dark Places & Demogorgons Jeffersontown Survival Guide - Apparently it's for a game called Dark Places & Demogorgons which apparently came out in January and is an 80s horror RPG (I guess inspired by Stranger Things). Oops.   140 pages, $9.99

Dungeon of the Selenian Conclave -  Weird, I bought (and reviewed this) last year. But apparently it's being released by a new company and at twice the price. $4.00, 24 pages and a middling adventure.

Dusty Door - A Blueholme adventure from Shane Ward of the 3 Toadstools blog  12 Pages and PWYW

Quests of Doom 4: Between a Rock and a Hard Place -   7th level adventure about dwarves and hobgoblins. $7.99, 29 pages.

Quests of Doom 4: Desperation of Ivy -  Sounds like a soap opera episode, but seems to be a house crawl. By a pretty good author, though, Lance Hawersomething. For 3rd to 5th level characters, 24 pages, $7.99

RPGPundit Presents: Hecate's Tomb -  Sounds more like a mystery than a tomb crawl. 18 pages, $2.99

The Cracked Lantern - The 34th module from Creation's Edge games, this one is for 7th to 9th level characters. $1.50 and 11 pages.


Friday Freebie 2-23-18 -  A smaller dungeon this time. $1 for enhanced version

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Dark Fantasy Basic Review — New School Meets Old School. Or Vice-versa.

One of the things I dislike about the OSR movement is the repetition of OD&D and B/X clones, simply republished with minimal house rules (sometimes not even that). Another thing I dislike is the tendency toward simpler characters with no special powers in the assertion that is more "old school" and how the game should be played. Yet the rapid proliferation of character classes in both official magazines and fanzines in the early days argues to the contrary.

Dark Fantasy Basic from Eric Diaz isn't just a rehash of OD&D or B/X, but takes an old school framework and uses concepts from more modern incarnations of the game, particularly 5th edition, but beyond that, new ideas. The basics are the same, character classes, traditional abilities scores (using the B/X scale for bonuses) but most of the details are quite different, and it allows a good deal of character customization without the bloat or paperwork of 3e.

Firstly, character generation uses a curious method where you only roll 3d6 three times, called the yin-yang method. Each ability score is coupled with another (Strength and Intelligence, Wisdom and Dexterity, Constitution and Charisma). The roll is the ability score for the first one, but the second is that score subtracted from 21. So if a character has an 18 strength, he has a 3 intelligence. And so on.

Secondly, although it features the four standard classes (fighter, cleric, magic-user, thief, plus a special one) class abilities are largely built around a single skill system, with a d20 rolled and the skill added to the related ability bonus and compared to a target number based on difficulty (15 being "average" difficulty). The skill level is tied to the class level, with there being primary, secondary, and tertiary skills. Primary skills are at the same level as the class level (so 5th level is +5), while secondary is two-thirds, and tertiary at one third.  Each character has 1 primary skill, two secondary, and three tertiary. Some are mandatory for a class (combat is always) but many are up to the player to pick.

This skill system encompasses pretty much everything, from combat to spellcasting and of course, thief skills. There are about 10 skills in all. It uses the advantage/disadvantage system from 5e (rolling 2 d20s), and for that matter, saving throws also use the 5e method of ability checks (with a bonus of +1 per level).

Additionally, classes have feats to customize their character. These are not the minor ticky-tac things as found in 3rd edition, but essentially character class powers. For instance, fighters can take abilities that are normally associated with a paladin or ranger. There's also a small list of general feats any class can take, though they can also take feats from other classes with GM approval.

Hit points are fixed at 4 per level, plus constitution bonus. There is a feat to improve this by one per level (which the fighter gets). Armor class starts at 10 and goes up. Armor and weapons are handled generically. Light, medium and heavy for armor (improving AC by 2,4, and 6 respectively). Shields also come in sizes, but larger ones improve the armor class by 2. Weapons range from tiny (d4) through small (d6), medium (d8), large (d10), and great (d12), though specific types (sword, spear, axe, etc) get special abilities.

Magic is also tied into the skill and feat system. Each spell is a feat, which means characters don't have many. But it can be cast over and over without limit and encompasses more than a single spell as in classic D&D. Instead, it can be several different ones, depending on the power level being used. For instance, "Healing" is a spell, but it's not just healing wounds, if cast at a higher level it might instead cure disease instead of just hit points.

But casting at a higher level is not restricted by level, but simply a function of making a successful spellcasting skill roll. So a low level character could try to cast a higher level aspect of his spell, he'd just have a difficult time in succeeding (the difficulty is 10 plus twice the spell level). So an average ability 3rd level caster could theoretically cast a 6th level spell, but it would be tricky. And there is a price for failure, damage in hit points equal to the spell level being attempted. And if the roll is really blown (with a 1), the spell is lost until memorized (or prayed for) again.

As it's essentially just a player's book, there's no monsters or magic items or such. The rest of the book does have rules for advancement, encumbrance, languages, and the usual stuff. Advancement is pretty standard, except characters may or may not get a feat when they gain a level, it depends on if a character's abilities bonuses and current number of feats add up to the new level or not. If not, they gain a feat. They probably won't, since at start, all characters have a net ability bonus of 0 due to the yin-yang method.

The PDF is nicely laid out with a lot of illustrations. All old public domain (except the nice cover), but they do not clash with each other, as sometimes is the case, they all look quite nice. On the other hand, at least my copy (which the author actually sent me, not from DTRPG) did not have bookmarks, which made it hard to find what you are looking for, and character creation required a lot of flipping back and forth (to the skills section and the spells section). It would have been nice to have helpful tables at the end of the book.

While the author apparently intended it to be as concise as possible (or so says the introduction), examples would have been really helpful: a character creation example, a spellcasting example, examples of skill uses, etc. In the electronic era, there is no real reason to be concise at the expense of being clear. 

When it seems like every week has a new Swords & Wizardry hack with a smattering of house rules, it's nice to see something completely different, something more radical, but still clearly old school. Dark Fantasy Basic works really well for the most part and is cleverly designed. It's not without its flaws, though they are pretty minor and perhaps somewhat caused by my misreading of the rules.

For instance, some of the classes seem a bit less than optimal. The cleric is probably overpowered in OD&D and definitely AD&D, but here it's not terribly useful with its primary skill (turning undead) only being useful if you have a lot of undead. A third level cleric with one spell can basically only do that one spell (probably healing). Oh sure, it's neat that a low-ish level cleric can heal and cure disease and poison and maybe even petrification, but it's one dimensional.

Similarly one-dimensional, the thief can either be good at thievery or finding traps (perception) since the two abilities those skills uses are tied to each other yin-yang style.

I would probably fix this by letting characters pick feats for 2nd and 3rd levels. Then again, maybe that's supposed to be how it works.

Secondly, there's not enough skill variety and too many skills per character. There are ten skills. There are six skills per character. So there's going to be a lot of overlap among what characters can do. Maybe make some of the skills less broad.

Thirdly, the combat attack progressions mostly follows AD&D, but the hit points (and armor class) for characters follow D&D. This might seem somewhat minor, but basically it has the effect of D&D monsters being too easy (as DFB will hit them easier than same level D&D characters) and AD&D monsters being too tough (as they hit too hard for DFB characters to survive). This is especially exacerbated when you hae DFB characters fighting each other. They have very good "to hits", somewhat poor armor classes, low hit points, and possibly high weapon damages (if they use two-handed weapons)

I would just increase the hit points per level from 4 to 5 (or maybe even 6) to bring them more in line with AD&D.

And finally there's also the danger of the system being too streamlined. You basically just roll the same thing over and over, which gets monotonous. Especially for thieves. Thievery encompasses basically everything but climbing walls and finding traps. Maybe there doesn't need to be an separate skill for every aspect of thievery, but one skill is probably too broad.

As I re-read this, it seems like my complaints are longer than the praise, but that's just stuff that came up while playing in a one-shot. But it's a game you'd actually want to play (or run) and that's really the best praise a game can get.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

New OSR Products at RPGNow/DTRPG — February 20th, 2018

Slowish week, though many of the products are rather pricey. 


Quests of Doom 4: Awakenings -  1st to 3rd level S&W adventure from Frog God, presumably converted from 5e. 19 pages, $7.99

Quests of Doom 4: A Little Knowledge -5h level adventure. $7.99 and 29 pages.  By Tom Knauss, so presumably originally for 3rd edition.

SO7 Shrine of the Titans -  Apparently a giant (er, the tall humanoid) adventure, actually, not titan, but still probably for higher levels. 14 pages, $2.50

The Folio 16.6 Pirate Lords of the Dark Sargasso -  Side adventure for the Folio #16. $1.99 and 6 pages (yikes).

The Folio 16.6 The Ogre Magi of Jade Rock -  Side adventure for the Folio #16. $1.99 and 12 pages.


Keeps & Towers -  Very short (6 page) guide for costs and such. Probably covered in may old editions anyway. 99 cents.

Most Monsters  - I have to admit, this is a subject that hasn't really been covered. 10 pages, $1.99


Friday Freebie Enhanced Map 2-16-18 -  Looks like an underground shopping mall or something. $1 for enhanced version.

RPGPundit Presents #20; The City of Arkhome 2 -  21 pages, $2.99