Category Archives: News, Rants & Reviews

Episode 20: Call Ins and Questions

And another on is on the air. Episode 20.
This time up. waves a little cash in the direction of podcasters. Should I take the bait?
Did you like Episode 19? That’s when I did the improv virtual “unboxing” of the Vigilante City PDF. Like it? Should I do more of those?
And think it’d fun to jump on the train as make up world for a Lamentations of the Flame Princess game?
You know the deal. Subscribe. Download the and leave a message. And as usual roll dice, kill monsters, take their stuff, and have fun.

Attack of the Mini-Clones!

Let’s see there’s Swords & Wizardry Light followed up by Swords & Wizardry Continual Light. And now James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games has come out with Untold Adventures.

So all these games are kissing cousins and largely cross compatible. And I’m sure somewhere out there that there is a a game that I missed. But since I’m a Swords & Wizardry fan, these hit my radar screen first. And yes I know Light and Continual Light have been out quite a while. Now that all the disclaimers are done. On to the meat.
These games are important right now more than any (IMHO). Why? Well, they’re cheap or even free. They’re great intro to folks who haven’t messed with any OSR games. Heck, their a great intro for kids and adults who have never picked up an RPG. For the more seasoned, they’re still great. Why? Well, sometimes the regular DM is sick or something and you need a quick pick up game. Or maybe you’re just tired of spending more time checking rules than killing orcs. These make a great change of pace and still have enough crunch to make them viable games.
So I know someone will ask. What are these games like? Well, they’re both based of Swords & Wizardry White Box. That means you only need a d20’s and d6’s. A single saving throw. Easy to read monster entries. And quick play that is very much free form. So what do I mean by free form. There’s checking if your character has the feat or the skill to do something. Just do it.
If you aren’t an OSR type but still like the D&D type games. Check them out. Enjoy.

DCC Lankhmar!

Yeah I know Kickstarter backers got the PDF’s a couple of weeks ago. Heck I backed it and am so pleased and I’ve been going over it as time allows. And yes for the few who have given the podcast a listen, I mentioned it there too. Now, I’m also going to mention here that I hate doing reviews and this isn’t going to be the normal review. Chances are if you’re a DCC fan then you probably backed the Kickstarter or you’re waiting anxiously for it to hit the shelves and your mind is already made up. This rant is more for the folks who aren’t DCC fans. Because the boxed set has stuff you can use not matter what your favorite set of rules may be.
Up first, there’s Lankhmar: City of the Black Toga. Coming in at 48 pages, it’s about 80% system neutral. Heck, a lot of could be considered setting neutral. It’s mostly various tables and charts for city events, street names, encounters, and the flavor text. So if you mix it with Vornheim, you’re going to have an interesting city for the players. Now there some NPC’s statted for DCC but it’s relatively a small section of the book. And because of DCC similiarites with other d20 based games conversion shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Next up! The Judges Guide. AKA GM/DM’s Guide. So yeah stat heavy. There’s still fluff but this deals with world overall. There’s some DCC specific spells and Patrons along with bestiary. The Carousing table is here and pretty good but does have links to DCC mechanics (but if you’re play something else that’s easy to ignore.) So if you don’t play DCC, this would probably be the least overall useful but could inspirational at least. As always, YMMV.
Finally, my favorite. The Compendium of Secret Knowledge. Why? Because it’s all the rules tweaks to DCC for a much down-to-earth and less gonzo type of Sword & Sorcery game. The big thing that’s been the buzz for a while is Fleeting Luck. Yes, it works the mechanics of DCC but once again can be easily adapted. My first thought is borrow Inspiration Points from 5E for games that don’t have a built in Luck mechanic. Oh and the thing about Fleeting Luck. It’s just that. Any of the PC’s roll that Natural 1 and they all lose it. There’s also an interesting take on the Unarmored Warrior. And nifty little thing called Benisons and Dooms. Benison is special extra for a PC. How a Magic-User that’s just a wee bit better with sword. A stealthy fighter and so on. And the Dooms. Well, they are called Dooms and there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. There’s Spell Stipulations which replace Mercurial Magic. For those who don’t play DCC, this is a catch or side effect when Magic-Users casts spells. Like I said, Lankhmar is less gonzo than your standard DCC. And of course, there’s Corruption too for when spell casting goes really wrong.
Let me say this again. YMMV. But for me, I can see using this for 5E, Swords & Wizardry, or any other retroclone. But deep down, I think really want to throw this stuff into Lamentations of the Flame Princess game. But hey. That just may be me.

Episode 18: Lots of stuff.

More congrats to the Ennnie winners. Damn I need to buy Midderlands, Harlem Unbound and Runequest (when the hard copy comes out).
A rant about Pathfinder 2.0. Won’t call it review. My brain started hurting too quickly.
And rant about World Building. This time Cities.
And fake call ins. Yeah, I do crazy stuff.
Give Episode 18 a listen.
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Expanded Vocations for Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells

Yep, I’ve ranted a lot about this game. Time for another one. Something that hasn’t been ranted about too much but does need to get a little shout out. And that’s Vocations.
Tracing the origin of this mechanic is pretty easy. And I’m pretty sure I’m on track here. The idea comes from FATE. One of its better ideas. Basically, there’s a thing called High Concept. You use it describe your character overall. And it works for SS&SS and can work for other games as well especially some OSR games.
In the case of SS&SS, it replaces the need for a long list of skills. But is should be for much more than that. And that’s how I’m going to use it in my game. Going back to FATE (and that time I ran the Dresden Files RPG), I learned a lot about dealing with this. So here’s what I’ve learned and how I’m going to apply it.
First, the Expanded Vocation should describe the character overall. This can include culture, “job”, personality, appearance, quirks and so on. Keeping with mechanics of SS&SS, the Expanded Vocation will not help the character in combat, to cast spells or do something that it the “thing” for another class. It sounds like there isn’t much left but there is. You’ve got the whole range of non-combat and professional skills, social interactions, reputation and so on. And here’s a hint for players and GM’s, take the Vocation both literally and figuratively.
Not only should the Vocation give the character a Positive Die when doing things, it should give a Negative Die for doing some things as well. I’m pull this basically straight from FATE. When the player (with the GM’s or other player’s assistance) designs a character’s Expanded Vocation, they should be able to think of three different ways they could use it to their advantage and three different ways it could be used to the character’s disadvantage. Now, I admit that this may take more time than it takes for the rest of character creation. That’s OK. One of our standard house rules is the Three Session Rule. Basically, you can change up your character if you don’t like but you can do that only for the first three sessions of a campaign. Like I said, the player doesn’t have to do it alone. The GM and the player’s should give some advice. Just don’t tell the player what they have to do. You know what I mean.
Moving right along on to bigger things. My campaign//play test begins on Thursday. Yep, you heard that right play test. I figure it’s time to let this cat out of the bag. I had a brief email exchange with Diogo and he gave a thumbs up. So after a couple years (my god has it been that long), I’m going to get something up on RPGNow. Don’t worry folks. Keeping with the tradition of SS&SS the pdf will be PWYW. The World of Skarynth is making a come back. I’ve played with this setting for a long time and SS&SS fits it and works (hopefully). I have faith that it’s going to work. Let me put it that way. Right now, we’re going to be play testing the new classes, races, spells, and monsters plus giving the setting a chance for contact with some players. So it’s play test, edit, lay out and publish. That’s the plan any way. So now that I’ve said it, I’m crossing my fingers. And don’t worry. More details will follow as things get finalized.

Episode 16: World Building Part 1

Here’s a pretty lengthy rant about how I’m going about making my D&D/OSR/whatever world.

And here’s the “working” map of Zoong including mistakes and other sloppiness. But it works for a DM’s notebook. Where are the Elves and Halflings from? Hasn’t came so haven’t worried about it yet.

And here’s the zoom in hex map from the 5E Campaign. You may recognize some thinly veiled hints about what modules I had on tap.

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