All posts by Chuck

I've been a gamer, a geek and nerd for about 30 years. Any questions?

Low Fantasy Gaming Deluxe Edition

Let’s start off this bit with some full disclosure. Stephen J Grodzicki did pass me a comp copy of the Deluxe Edition. Also, I previously did do a review of the original free edition of Low Fantasy Gaming. Now I haven’t gone through each book with a fine-toothed comb to find every minor difference.

Now let’s get the low down on Low Fantasy Gaming. This game is geared towards a grittier and dare I say more Weird Sword & Sorcery type vibe. Magic is dangerous and mysterious. It uses as its base a set of rules that will seem familiar to anyone who has played just about any edition of D&D. Now there are some differences and I’ll go into what I think are coolest later but when reading through the rules of Low Fantasy Gaming, most folks will see the DNA of many other games. Because there are so many similarities, I’m going to stick with what makes Low Fantasy Gaming Cool.
Magic is Dark and Dangerous: IMHO even the original editions do that great of job of making magic mysterious. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun and that it ended up being as video gamey as later editions. In Low Fantasy Gaming, magic is dangerous. The more a magic-user casts spells, the more likely it is that something bad (and sometimes very bad) happens. I did notice that the Deluxe Edition did rename the spells as something more evocative and there’s a handy chart in the back to reference original spell names with the new ones. The Deluxe also adds the Cultist which is at its most basic is the replacement for the Cleric. Instead of list of spells, the Cultist gains a set of abilities that pretty much mirror the most common cleric spells. Like magic-users, there is some risk to their spell casting. Just like the cleric of Dungeon Crawl Classics, the Cultist can suffer the displeasure of their god and face some pretty mean consequences.
Unique Features: This is pretty cool. At 3rd level and three levels after that, player characters gain a unique feature. So what exactly is a unique feature? Well, much relies on the GM discretion and the player’s imagination. It’s basically any extra bonus for the character. What I like about this is that it’s one of the few times that I’ve seen a rulebook the suggestion to use inspiration from any other game. That’s right may be you like a feat or something from Pathfinder or 5E. Well, convert it and use it. So there’s no long list but some suggestions. Also, this little bit is sure to make all the characters and even the campaigns unique since this opens up so many options.
Luck: I like luck mechanics. While not a standard in many games, it is a standard in lots of fiction. So I got no problem with that. Luck is a save and a resource and it diminishes so make your choices wisely. It’s not just burning points for better results. This also is used in Major Exploits. These basically do something really, really cool. Not only would the character have to succeed on an attack, skill, or attribute roll but then they’d also have to make a Luck check to do the really cool thing.
For old grognards, I will say that the game has a skill system too. Now, it’s not as crazy as things were with 3.x but it a little more detailed than 5E. It’s a solid system that doesn’t inflate the skill levels and offers a new mechanic with a re-roll pool for characters attempting things that they are skilled at.
So do I recommend it? Well, yes. Yes I do. It’s a solid game that takes a lot different bits and pieces from various games and editions and puts them together in nifty little package. Am I actually going to play it? Probably not but I still recommend it. Like I said, lots of cool stuff from various other games which you can port into your game with very little effort. Plus there’s some handy pretty system neutral charts for GM’s like the NPC generator and as mentioned before Dark and Dangerous Magic.
The Deluxe Edition, the free version, and various other goodies are available on DrivethruRPG.
Also check out the Low Fantasy Gaming website for more good stuff.

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The Sword of the Damned

One of the characters in the Labyrinth Lord game made a bad wish. That happens in old-school games. To get himself out of the mess, he made a pact with a demon lord. Part of the pact is that he a nasty sword. Sure it gave him some neat stuff but it also let’s the demon lord keep tabs on the character. So here’s a slightly edited version of that sword for your game.
The Sword of the Damned
+2 Long Sword with the following extra powers.
When the character strikes the death blow to a living target, the sword draws the life force of the target into it. The sword gains a number of charges equal to the HD of the target. Here’s how the charges are used.
Heal Wielder: The character must use this power immediately after striking the death blow. The wielder heals 2 HP/HD of the victim.
Hide Alignment: 1 Charge. The alignment of the sword and wielder are hidden from detection for a day. Note: The sword automatically uses this power every day. The wielder cannot stop the sword from doing this.
Invisibility: 3 Charges. The wielder become invisible as per the spell.
Poison Blade: 6 Charges. The sword is coated with a vile demonic poison for one round. If the wielder hits a target then the target must Save or Die.
The only other addition from my game is that sword has the spirit of an imp trapped inside it. While it doesn’t follow the normal rules for intelligent swords, the imp does have its own personality and some knowledge of fiends. The little guy is more than happy to get the PC into trouble.

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YARC: Classes and Races

Now that I’ve gotten a few bits done, it’s time to talk about races and classes because with old school games you can’t talk about one without talking about the other. Since the first go around for YARC is going to be The Blight. characters may seem a bit under powered compared to your standard character. The Blight is grim and gritty so that’s why I’m going in that direction. And this is the point where inspirations from other editions and variants of Swords & Wizardry kick in.
I did an episode last year on Playing It Wrong about job versus class. To put it simply, just because it’s a character’s job that doesn’t mean that it’s their class. The big one is usually the assassin. I supposed technically any class can be an assassin but it takes somebody special to be an Assassin. The whole idea is if it’s a class is just a fighter who can track. Well, that’s not a Ranger. So the classes need have some distinct abilities that make them special.
Here’s the tentative list of classes:
Fighter: The most standard and yet IMHO boring class.
Cleric: Yes there will specialty priests.
Thief: Cat burglar or smiling con artist. I suppose later editions got it a little better by calling them Rogues.
Magic-User: Magic is supposed to be mysterious and interesting. Once IHMO even the original edition make them sort of video gamey. Cast the spell and boom. But things still need to be simple at the game table.
Assassin: Good at killing a single target. But still different than a Fighter or Rogue.
Druid: Hmmm. I don’t have any inspiration yet to tweak them.
Paladin: This isn’t you daddy’s prince charming noble knight. These guys are religious zealots hunting down the unclean and heretical.
Sorcerer/Warlock: Oh just check out Dice Roll Zine No. 2. That’s my primary inspiration.
I know. I always do a Bard and Barbarian. I think most of those class abilities can be easily wrapped into other classes. What about Monks? Once again I just don’t think they fit this setting. And lastly because I know someone out there is thinking it, what about Race as Class. I would say that I like both. It all depends on the campaign. If I’m emphasizing old-school play then I’ll do race as class. If there are only a few races then sure. But in this case there’s lots of possibilities for The Blight. So no race as class but races will be limited on their choices. I haven’t even gotten close finalizing that list but it will include the usual suspects as well as a few familiar faces plus a take on the one’s presented in the Swords & Wizardry version and just maybe a race or two that just captures my imagination. But more on that later when I get to races.

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Playing It Wrong: Swords & Wizardry The Gateway Clone

Another episode of the new and improved podcast is up. This time I return in force to my favorite retroclone, Swords & Wizardry or as I’m calling it the Gateway Clone. There’s plenty of mechanics and other little fiddly bits that can make the transition from current to old-school less frightening for the newcomers.
You can check out the episode here.
For more about Swords & Wizardry head over to Frog God Games or check out Matt Finch’s Patreon. For great actual play in The Blight, check out Swords & Misery.
Thanks and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform. And please check out the They Might Be Gazebos Patreon too. It’s just started. Who know maybe I’ll something else special for early Patrons.

YARC: Skills Part 2

Previously, I gave a little overview of how I want to do skills for Yarc and now it’s time to get down to brass tacks.
The overall mechanic is roughly skills as save. I won’t be using the character’s regular Saving Throw but instead it will be it’s own check. Roll a d20 equal to or greater than then you succeed. It’s that simple. Here’s the break down.
Skill Check
Level 1; Skill Check:18
Levels 2-3; Skill Check: 17
Levels 4-5; Skill Check: 16
Levels 6-7; Skill Check: 15
Levels 8-9; Skill Check: 14
Level 10; Skill Check: 13

First, why stop at Level 10? Well, it’s a nice round number plus lower level adventuring seem more fun than the really high level stuff. Characters can be heroic without being super heroes. Of course, the Skill Check will modified by a range of “skills” and further modified by race and class (but more on those modifiers as I do the races and classes). I’ve tried to limit the number down to it’s most basic based on what I’ve seen practically all character try to do. Each skill has rating. To determine this, average the ability score modifiers on the abilities noted for each skill. OK why average? I answered that in a previous post. Also, skills should be very broad. And here’s the list:
Appeal (CON & CHA): Seduction, Dancing, Performing
Athletics (STR & DEX): Climbing, Jumping, Acrobatics, Swimming, and Grappling.
Banter (INT & CHA): Fast talking, haggling, diplomacy.
Craft (WIS & DEX): Building things, hands on DIY type stuff and healing.
Instinct (WIS & CHA): Detecting secret doors, avoiding surprise, searching, detecting lies.
Tinker (INT & DEX): Locks & Traps and anything mechanical.
Skullduggery (DEX & CHA): Picking pockets, Disguise, Sleight of Hand
Stealth (DEX): Moving quietly, blending into the crowd. (The exception to the two ability scores rule.)
Survival (CON & WIS): Tracking. foraging, and so on.
Wits (INT & WIS): General knowledge, Education, Lore
There it is 10 skills to cover most situations and like I said races and classes will get additional modifiers but more on that when I start writing those up.

The Blight It Is!

If you’ve been following the blog then you know I’ve ranting about two possible campaigns. First, there was New Bay City using Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. It’s a modern horror/urban fantasy setting that I’ve run before just with different systems. And then there’s my sudden love affair with The Blight. Well, just follow the link. I put forth both to the gaming the group. They decided they wanted The Blight. And for system? Well, just like the survey I recently posted, they decided to try Swords & Wizardry. By coincidence, I’m also working on my YARC (Yet Another Retroclone) project which is basically house ruled Swords & Wizardry. So there will be a bunch of house rules.
With all that being said, I just can’t leave things alone plus like many GM’s I like to put my own spin on things. I base this on what I like and what I think the players will like. So I’m going to put a few little tweaks to make it a little more fun for us at the table and easier to use for me since the book is nearly 900 pages. Most of the changes are going to be player facing. By that I mean opening up some classes and races that aren’t normally an option. So stay tuned for all that. While the work begins now, it’ll be a couple of months. They’ve got a couple more adventures to survive in the Labyrinth Lord game.

Playing It Wrong: The Reboot Episode Plus Celebrity D&D, Gate Keeping, and Social Media

A very special episode. I’ve done a few tweaks here and there but you want to hear about the episode. Because as I said, it’s that time of year where already start planning and setting goals for the upcoming year.
So what’s this episode about? It’s about Celebrity D&D, Social Media, Gate Keeping, and the direction I plan on taking my own old-school projects. Like the title says. Give it a listen. It’s only getting better.

Playing It Wrong: The Reboot Episode Plus Celebrity D&D, Gate Keeping, and Social Media

And here’s that blog post I mention in the episodeThe OSR: Stagnation, Preservation or Evolution