Category Archives: News, Rants & Reviews

A few thoughts on OSR Clerics

I was thinking about clerics the other and how they’ve changed. No really. The modern cleric is there as a healbot. That’s their job. Keep ’em alive. However, in this gognard’s opinion, in the old days it was something else. Sure they could heal but that was a fringe benefit. The real reason that you wanted a cleric in your party was undead.
Let’s look at the class first. Clerics had armor just as good as fighter. Their weapons were meh. But they had the second best attack progression and hit points. And heck usually they didn’t did even start with a spell at 1st level. When to shambling hordes showed up, you pushed that cleric out front and yelled “Turn!” Why? Because old school undead were just freaking nasty and could screw up even a high level party. Let’s look at some undead. For this comparison, I’ll dig out my Little Brown Books, Basic, and 5E (cause that’s what all the cool kids are playing).
The big thing was Level Drain. A 3 HD Wraith drains a level. Spectres, Wights, and Vampires drained two levels. You didn’t get those levels back with an easy to find cleric spell. Nope. You sucked up it up and drove on. Adventured more to get those XP back. Generally, by going back to low level dungeons.
Let’s look at the Level 3 Wandering Monster Table. There it is 1 to 3 Wights. If your tanks were decked out with plate armor and shields, the wights would need a 15 to hit. Your Thief, they’d need about a 10 or so. You see where I’m going. Things would get ugly real fast. You push your 3rd level cleric out front and they’d need to roll a 9 or better on 2d6 to turn those wights. And that was your best chance at survival.
Now looking at 5E, the replacement for Level Drain is HP drain which at worst may take a couple of days to get over. That’s it. Dangerous but no where the consequences.
Am I saying one way is bad wrong fun? Nope. Just different.

The First Wednesday Rant: Give them your lunch money

When I originally started this blog, the idea was to do just content and put all the rants and every else on the other (now dead) blog. But since I’ve moved domains and consolidated, I figure what the heck. So the plan it to add in a weekly rant about whatever I happen to feel like ranting about. Don’t worry folks, I won’t completely loose my mind. So up first, there’s some folks that deserve your lunch money (in no particular order).

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons: Palace of the Dragon Princess: I’ve backed Dark Wizard’s other Kickstarters before. Yeah, I know I did miss a couple but each one has been cool and just right amount of crazy (sometimes bordering on gonzo). Now, $10 for a PDF may seem a little steep but their adventures have had a cool OSR vibe and their monster book, Monsters of Mayhem, is pretty darned awesome. Note to self, get a hard copy of this sometime.

Next up: There’s Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells. So if you’ve been to this old blog in the past, you know I like crazy stuff, I fell in love with this game’s predecessor, Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells. This going to be a fun and simple game. I’m so ready to go all crazy on it. For $15, you get the PDF and an “at cost” coupon for the soft cover.

And finally there’s Uncle Matt’s D&D Studio’s Patreon. Once again this is something that quickly ranted about before and it’s well worth ranting about again. First, Matt Finch is pretty darned cool guy. While I’ve only a few interactions with him online, each has been calm, cool, professional, entertaining, and educational. Yes, that sounds like I’m a gushing fanboy but there’s a couple things I may disagree on but that’s neither here nor there and not really worth going into or even worrying about. It’s nothing he did so don’t try to dig up dirt. It’s all me. Plus I would if there was one book that started my path to the OSR, I’d have to say that it’s Swords & Wizardry Core. After watching a few of the interviews and actual play episodes (Hey there’s OSR and 5E in the same world), I was hooked. It was enough for finally make a Patreon account.
Here’s the link to the Youtube Channel in case you want to see for yourself.
There go. Three folks who deserve your lunch money.

Some More Random Thoughts On O5R

Yeah, O5R or making Fifth Edition D&D a little more old School. The last post I did on this was all about mechanics and some are my DM is going to use in his next campaign. This post is more of rant about mind set and fluff.
So much of the OSR style of play centers around the players not being limited by the rules. That may sound crazy. Old School games don’t have every little thing spelled out on how to handle a character trying something. So the players tend to try crazier and more outlandish tactics. They will try to find new uses for anything including spells. This is where that whole rulings not rules thing comes in. Don’t let the rules stop you from trying something. Doesn’t mean you will succeed but try any way. The DM needs to learn how to wing it and when to yes or yes but.. And as a DM, keep your job simple. Don’t worry about every little bit of rules minutia (unless you have someone who just loves being a rules lawyer and that’s a whole other problem). Let the players have fun and try those crazy plans.
Now the other thing is fluff. Reading thru the Players Handbook, Monster Manual and the splat books, you’ll notice that everything is tied to Forgotten Realms. As DM, let the players color outside of the lines. If they want to have their character be something and there isn’t exactly that class. Find the closest mechanically and change the fluff. The same goes for things like spells. Don’t have change the mechanics just fluff. I had an idea for Yuan Ti Druid. For Good Berry, instead of conjuring berries; how about a handful of lethargic mice.
I don’t mean to say to anyone, “You’re playing it wrong.” And I know that YMMV depending on the group and its dynamic and the experience of the DM and players. But I do have these bits of wisdom. Roll dice. Have fun. And don’t be afraid to color outside the lines now and then.

Old School Gamer Radio

OK, so if you’re into the OSR and you haven’t been under a rock then you’ve already probably heard of Old School Gamer Radio.
Old School Gamer Radio is the brain child of Matt Finch of Swords & Wizardry fame. Since I’ve been moving blogs(yeah still working some kinks out to the new one here), you might not know I’m a big Swords & Wizardry fan in all it’s incarnations (Light, White Box, Core, and Complete). Any way, this post isn’t about the minor differences between the various flavors of Swords & Wizardry. It’s about the good thing that’s being done with Old School Gamer Radio.
This whole project started with a successful Kickstarter and continues on with Patreon support. The major goal of OSgR (because I’m tired of typing Old School Gamer Radio) is to create a content hub for OSR games. This is a good thing. My real life has been, well, pretty damned hectic of late. Social media has grown wearing, boring, and often toxic. I remember back when I first was drawn into the OSR. It seemed like every day there was something new and interesting. It just seemed like more stuff was being created and shared. To be honest, there’s probably the same amount of stuff being created but there’s so much other stuff to wade thru it makes it hard to find the gems. OSgR is evolving into that. But I can seen some great potential there. The site already has some blog feeds, podcast links and Uncle Matt’s D&D Studio Youtube channel. Really, check it out. Awesome interviews. And some great actual play of the Swords of Jordoba campaign. Trust me. I’ve gobbled up my mobile data listening to it work.
So why in the world do I think this is so important? Like I said, real life has been interesting (in the old Chinese proverb way). I’ve lost a lot of the old passion and excitement about gaming in general, and because of the above I’ve hit a real creative dry streak. OSgR has brought some of that spark back. That’s what I really need.
Thank you
Roll Dice, Kill Monsters, Take their Stuff & Have Fun

Sharp Swords & Sinister Sorcery

Sharp Swords and Sinister Sorc ery

Getting back into the whole blogging thing.  And one of the things I like to do is go back and find really cool stuff that isn’t exactly that new or the flavor of the day. So enter Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells (and it’s Addendum).

So what is it?  First it’s a low magic game that leans more towards dark sword & sorcery than your usual high fantasy.  There’s no non-humans or clerics and magic is dangerous and not a sure thing.  So that’s the vibe. But if really wanted to you could add those.

Mechanically, it takes a lot from Black Hack (and its Hacks) as well as 5E D&D, DCC, and Fate. So it’s a simple light game that focuses on ruling not rules and “if you don’t like then don’t use it”. Those are two things that I just love.

There’s four Abilities: Physique, Agility, Intellect, and Willpower and three classes: Warrior, Specialist, and Magic-User. It uses the basic roll under an Ability score mechanic. Vocations are akin to “High Concept” in Fate and uses Positive and Negative Dice which is similar to 5E’s Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic. And the magic system becomes a push your luck type situation with player determining how powerful the spell will be and hoping to roll enough to pull it off. So yeah. That’s the basic stuff why I like this game and think it’s cool.

Now here’s the bonus content.  Or at least that’s what I’m calling it. Because even if you don’t play the game, there’s some handy resources no matter what game you’re running a GM could use. From the core book, I plan using Complications for the upcoming resurrection of my DCC game. Plus there’s a pretty cool, Adventure Idea Generator in there. The Addendum is just filled with various charts and tables handy for a GM no matter the rule set they happen to be using.

All this goodness is crammed into a couple of tiny books. the Core Book is under 46 pages (plus character sheet and OGL) and the Addendum is 87 pages. But wait there’s more.  The PDF’s are PWYW. The Core Book.  and for The Addendum.

I don’t often do this but shortly after I grabbed the PDF’s, I just had to have some hard copies from Lulu.  After lugging around various other tomes to play other games, it nice to have such robust but light and efficient game.  It’s get a big thumbs up from me.

Pyramid of the Lost King

I had great time this last Saturday. I stopped by the FLGS to sit in on a little demo game of Pyramid of the Lost King with its creator Johua De Santo. So what the heck is Pyramid of the Lost King? It’s a cool sandbox for OSR games. It’s specifically written for Swords & Wizardry (Man, it has been too long since I’ve done anything with S&W.) but if you been around the OSR scene for even a little bit it’s easy to convert to the system of your choice. It’s also part of the Lands of Usarm series of adventures.
So what do you get in this 100 page book? Well, quite literally a desert sandbox. You’ve got an overview of the area. A city (Basq). Adventure hooks galore. Random encounters. Some really cool monsters. Three dungeons (The Charnel Keep, Temple of the Fallen Good, and (of course) Pyramid of the Lost King) plus some mini adventures just in case the DM needs something quick.
I like to keep my rants spoiler free. But here’s what I plan doing with it. It’d be a great start in creating the yet-to-be-named southern continent on the World of Zoong (which is my go to DCC/OSR/D&D world). In my little mind, this would be prefect addition for Crypts & Things. Pyramid of the Lost King has a really good Weird Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery vibe going for it without getting so weird that it’s totally alien. Greedy scheming merchants. Caravans. Lost ruins in the desert. Raiders. Mysterious ancient relics and monuments. Cults. You’re smart. You get the idea.
Like I said, I like to keep my rants about adventures as spoiler free as possible. So I won’t go into the details of the adventures. But this does got a thumbs and place in the queue to throw some unwary adventurers.
Go ahead and check out Pyramid of the Lost King over at RPGNow.