Category Archives: News, Rants & Reviews

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.

Tomb of Annihilation Minis!

So Wizards of the Coast has their adventure coming out and along with it a new collection of minis. So I gave myself a little treat. I grabbed the Tomb & Traps set for Tomb of Annihilation. Heck, I’ve got plenty of minis for monsters and player characters. However, when it comes to cool dungeon dressing, count me in. Let’s say that I’m happy, meh, and WTF? about this set.
First the good. I mean this why anybody is picking it up. THE GREEN DEVIL FACE! You know the one. Plus a nifty magical portal. A sarcophagus. And the “fire traps” are hand for torches of that party camp fire.

Well that was the really good bits. And there’s meh bits as well. The trap tiles and treasure. Handy but really nothing that would fall into the OMG that’s cool.

And finally, we have the WTF were they thinking. Hey let’s put some potion bottles and scrolls in there too. Good thought. But really. That’s the stuff piled on a dime. That’s right a dime. I had to use tweezers just to pick up the stuff to put it there. It’s tiny. Too tiny to actually use at a game table unless glue them onto something bigger.

That was special gaming treat to myself. And back soon for some crazy rants on Mutant Crawl Classics. Been running that game and it’s blast so far. Heck one of the characters is a two-headed wizard. But more an that later.

Toys & RPG’s

If go back the earliest days of D&D toys played a big part. Legend has it that the bulette, owlbear, and rust monster were all inspired by some cheap plastic toys. Heck, this blog started off about being cheapskate gamer and I’ve posted about various toys for gaming before. But I started thinking a little bit more about it and few more thoughts bounced in my head.

Use those crazy toys for inspiration. Let them be spark of adventures, encounters, and monsters. The weirder better. There’s a good chance some of these guys will end up in my Mutant Crawl Classics Game.

Say hello to the Poop Elemental. It just wants a hug.

Size don’t matter. Or should I say scale. I’ve gotten my grubby fingers on some cool 1/72 mini’s. Sure they are smaller than you normal D&D mini’s but if they are cool then use them. Judge them by their size. Dare you just before the level drain!

It’s OK to use mini’s. And in true OSR fashion is the rules are just guidelines then the grids are just guidelines too. Uh. No pun intended. OK maybe just a little bit of a pun there.

That is if you even bother to use grids.

Now I ain’t saying that there aren’t cool mini’s out there. I use both. Those nice prepainted ones, Reaper Bones, and whatever sparks my imagination of just looks cool. If a toy looks like it might make an interesting monster then go for it.
And you may call it nostalgia. And well it is. Breaking out these little toys brings a laugh to everyone at the table (mine anyway). It brings out the feeling of being a care free kid again. And we need more moments like that now more than ever. Take the time to giggle, laugh, and play with some toys.

One Day Left on OSR Sale. Here’s What I’ve Grabbed

Like many grognards I took advantage of that OSR sale going on and I grabbed only a few things since most of the stuff that I wanted I had already bought. I even splurged and grabbed some hard copies. And yes. I am on a Dungeon Crawl Classics kick.

Purple Sorcerer Games is really noted for the Crawlers Companion. It’s tool that everybody who runs or plays DCC needs to download and use. I’ve heard awesome stuff about their adventures so I figured it’s about time that I grabbed a couple of their classics up and I’m not disappointed.
Escape from the Shrouded Fen is a 0-Level Funnel/1st Level Hex Crawl. Like so many great adventures, there aren’t any stock monsters in it. Everything the PC’s are going to face is going to just different enough that there will be surprises. Also, this is a really tough adventure even by DCC standards. That’s not a bad thing. While there is some very strong and obvious “Go this or else” signs, the PC’s still have the freedom to make those decisions and will probably suffer a horrible death. Some might consider that railroady but this is a DCC funnel. You rolled up those 0-Level’s to go out and try to make it the deadly business of Dungeon Crawling not go back to gong farming. With all that being said, if the PC’s chose the wrong path, ignore some obvious clues, and miss the subtle ones, then there’s probably going to be at least one TPK. But wait there’s more…

I also picked up the Sunken City Omnibus. I’ll admit that I haven’t had time to sit down and read Sunken City yet (I’m busy gathering my resources for impending Mutant Crawl Classics release) but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Here’s what’s cool about both of these. The mighty Purple Sorcerer throws in some cool and useful extras into the PDF’s. Handout’s. Extra notes. Write ups for extra things list Patrons. And paper mini’s. So what can I say other than “Way cool”.
I’m very pleased with these adventures. And yes I’ll be buying more. Til next time. Roll Dice. Have Fun. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff.

DCC Aftermath

No, not the post apocalyptic game by FGU. I see how you could think that since Mutant Crawl Classics is just around the corner. Nope. This is a little rant about about the my recent running of DCC. Now most of the things I’m to talk about are going to be old hat to folks who have plenty of DCC play time under their belt. Hopefully, this might help someone new to the game to get the most fun out it. I’d also like to throw out a big thank you to all cool folks of the G+ Dungeon Crawl Classics Community. One way to judge a game is by the communities that form around it.
Let’s talk about the little things you should have. As the judge, you’ll need the rule book (of course duh). Just to keep you sanity go ahead and pick up the Reference Book over on Lulu. That thing is soo handy. Do you “need” the funky dice? Not really. You can use the normal polyhedrals or the Crawler’s Companion (more on that later). Plus a spare printer cartridge to print out character sheets, spell tables and whatever else you’ll think you will need. Other than that just use whatever normal mini’s, maps, and what have you that you would in any other game.
For players, the list is almost identical. However, if the players don’t want to invest in a rule book(even the PDf). They don’t want to get funky dice. Then encourage, bribe, and shake your finger at them like an angry nanny to get them to use the Crawler’s Companion. Hey if they’re going to look at their smart phones, at least let be something related to the game you are playing.
Now this is, what I think, is the most important thing. The mindset. As player be prepared to have characters die. Don’t fear it. Don’t whine. Embrace it. Your character will (probably) not be a perfect hero with wonderful stats. Your character will not be min-maxed to the perfect (insert whatever class here). And just because of all those things, still have a connection with the character.
As a judge, you should be used to player characters coming and basically flipping the table when it comes to your laid plans and plots. Guess what? In DCC, the game will do that too. Don’t avoid it. Jump right in and change the world and the plot as the dice may land. Adapt and be creative on the spot. I know that ain’t easy and chances are you just might make a silly on the spot decision. Don’t worry. Roll with it. Also don’t feel bad about killing characters. It happens. Also, try to beat into the player’s head that they can use Luck. Really, my players hung on to their Luck like it was gold. Heck, the dwarf died because he chose to take his chances with damage rather than burning some Luck. Really, a first level character’s chances of surviving a 100 foot fall are pretty damned slim. A few points of Luck would have totally avoided that.
Now, I said I’d talk more about Crawler’s Companion. And here’s that rant. Use every freaking tool you can from Purple Sorcerer Games. From the Companion. To the Zero Level Character generator. Have your players (or do it yourself) print out a Grimoire. You’ll be thankful. And as I said. Get the Reference Book and put some bookmarks in it for those special pages. Or even buy the PDF and the core book and print out those pages you need and create your own. There’s a lot charts and tables for DCC, keep the ones you need handy and keep the game moving.
To sum it up. Be prepared. And be prepared to improvise.
While our little group is going for a change of pace and doing a Savage Worlds Space Opera game. I’m already coming up with some ideas for that Mutant Crawl Classics game. So stay tuned for a few rants on both of those.

Meet the Band

Because it’s Dungeon Crawl Classics thing to do. So after a few sessions and many PC deaths here’s the motley crew of murder hobos.

Wedge: A warrior with a demon-possessed sword, a magical beserker cloak and a low Will Save. Yeah, things will end well with that one.

Gorgon: Shaman turned thief. If you ain’t sneaking, back stabbing, and looting the placer. You ain’t having fun.

Elle The Cleric of Cthulhu: Maybe I’ll heal you tomorrow, Cthulhu willing.

Boulder The Dwarf: He ain’t that great at fighting or much else but he’s really good at not getting himself killed.

And one more. Either a cleric but probably a wizard. Not sure, the player didn’t make it to the last game.

And yep they’re murder hobos. The finale of Doom of the Savage King: Set the Jarl’s house on fire and kill every body who runs out. Good plan except when people start running into a burning building during the fight to loot the place. We ended the session with the PC’s hightailing out of town and off to their misadventure.