Category Archives: News, Rants & Reviews

Adventurer Conqueror King is in my hands!


Yeah, I’ve had the PDF of Adventurer Conqueror King for a while but I just my book the other day. Sorry, kids but nothing quite replaces the feel of a dead tree version. So I took the time last night to sit down and give it another look.
First, the basic core rules are pretty much your standard OSR game. Nice, simple, tidy. You’ve got the usual four classes (fighter, cleric, wizard and thief). In ACKS, they went with racial classes. I’m not a big fan of that but I do like that they added variation and options from the standard demi-human classes.
Monsters are pretty much your usual fare (But I do suggest looking at the dragons. They got a nice little trick.) and the same goes for spells. It’s just that the higher level spells are considered rituals and as such take longer to cast. Meaning you ain’t going to do it in the middle of a fight.
Now, there are a few things that just made me say, “Wow, that’s pretty cool”. I like the Proficiencies for characters. It’s a nice little tweak. Basically, it’s a little system that combines skills as well as bonuses similar to Feats from 3.X. Some may say that Feats aren’t Old School but I think they did a fine job of making a simple system that still has the feel of older editions. The system works very similar to Castle & Crusades or Saves as Skills in Swords & Wizardry. No keeping track of skill ranks and all that. Just a bonus and roll higher than a target number on a d20. Simple.
The cornerstone to ACKS and what really sets apart is all the other stuff. I’m talking about all those that usually aren’t normally in covered in detail in a core book. We’re talking ships, hirelings, mass combat and most importantly kingdom building. It’s not just you build a keep. It’s a whole system. I just finished playing through Paizo’s Kingmaker so I can’t help but make a comparison. My vote goes to ACKS, it’s much detailed and less abstract. And bonus you don’t have to build a whole mighty kingdom. Clerics can form their church or cult. Thief player characters can start their own guilds.
The real strength of Adventurer Conqueror King is that there’s plenty of awesome tools that you can use for whatever happens to be your rule system of choice. It’s going on the shelf of honor.
Just head on over to Autarch’s site and check it out.

mortal wounds and tampering with mortality

Hordes of Things

We all know that RPG’s got their start from war gaming and I have to admit that I’ve done my own little bit of virtual warmongering.
A lot of times in games, folks want to do a whole war thing. But the thing is it’s always been pretty much a pain in the ass. Just my preference but I like to step back and roll in actual war game rules then tweak them just a bit. I think it works better than bending an RPG to simulate a war game.
For fantasy war gaming, my favorite set of rules is Hordes of Things. A very simple set of rules for 15mm fantasy warfare. It’s not totally involved like Warhammer and work much better for larger and more abstract battles. It also doesn’t take a lot of table space and the learning curve isn’t that steep. Battles can be run very quickly. And now for the even bigger plus. You can grab the rules for free.
So go check them out. You really don’t have anything to lose.

Just Some Random Thoughts on The OSR

So I’m bouncing around the house with a ton little projects nipping at my heels and didn’t have the time transition some wonderful thoughts into coherent posts. But I did have the time wander around and catch up reading some nifty blog posts and something struck me.
The OSR isn’t afraid to be weird. I’ve noticed a lot of folks aren’t afraid to color outside the lines. It may be a little bit of the old timers doing the “been there done that” mantra. But much of it I think that so many OSR projects aren’t burdened by having to market to the masses. You can just to whatever crazy place your little imagination takes you. And that’s really cool. That’s not saying that other folks aren’t creative or imaginative. It’s just that quirky oddness. Maybe, it’s the same reason I like low budget independent movies.
I promise to hold your attention a little better later on.

Memories of The Empire of the Petal Throne

If you’ve kept an eye on the RPG world, you should know by now that M.A.R. Barker, creator of Tekumel has passed away.
I have to admit that back in the day I never actually played the game but it’s concepts and ideas greatly influenced my formative years of gaming. This was the first game game that slapped me upside the head and said, “Everything doesn’t have to be Tolkien.” It taught don’t be afraid to let your own imagination and creativity take over when creating worlds and settings. Go ahead make things memorable and interesting.
Thank you, Professor Barker. Rest In Peace.

Dungeonslayers: In English and In Print

Oh yeah, the English version of 4th Edition Dungeonslayers is going to hit the virtual streets soon. Now don’t confuse with it the 4th Edition of that other popular game. (That’s just a joke. Don’t start sharpening your pitchforks.)
I have to admit that is is one of my favorite rules lite games and it should get a lot more notice than it does. Personally, it’s my go to game when a someone who is a complete newbie to gaming asks, “What’s a good game to start with?” Simple rules. Simple math and not a lot of heavy math. A butt load of support and free adventures. And the best is that the PDF is free.
But this is also about how they finally struck a deal to have a dead tree version released. I’m not sure how easily it will be to get your hands on it if you happen to live this pond. It’s good news all around.

The OSR: Stagnation, Preservation or Evolution

Let’s start with the disclaimer that I know that I’m probably going to get some hate mail on this one. Such is life on the Internet.
With the recent announcement of DNDNext, I’ve been doing usual round of peeking on various forums, sites and blogs and as usual it’s pretty thought provoking. In case you’ve been living under rock, WOTC has offered the olive branch to the OSR with their announced design goals for the next iteration of D&D. Of course, even this hasn’t set well some folks.
There are some nay sayers who insist that the OSR is just stagnation of the hobby perpetuated by a bunch of nostalgic grognards. Yeah, OK. I admit that I’m grognard and I was pretty much a grognard before it was “cool”. I do hang my head in shame that I wasn’t wearing my gognard tag with a sense of pride. But the accusations of stagnation are just plain silly. For those who prefer the retro-clones that most closely emulate the original editions or still have copies of the original editions, they aren’t stagnating. If anything they are preserving the legacy of games of yor. Really, would want to live in a world where no one has heard of “Save or Die”.
It may sound silly to preserve a set of rules or a play style but really. The whole damned hobby was built because of the success of the original editions. You may not like the game but every gamer owes at least a nod of gratitude to that little white box. Hell, it should be rite of passage to play through one of the original adventures with the original rules, just for the experience. Now, I know that there many crazy rules in the old games. I’ll admit that. But on the flip side, just because a game is new doesn’t mean that it is good.
Over the decades, the hobby and the games have changed drastically. As far as OSR games go, I consider myself and evolutionist. There’s nothing wrong with games based around the theory of “What would Gary do?’. It doesn’t mean they are accurate. It doesn’t mean that they are right but dang it they are trying. For me, I have no qualms about pulling a rule or a concept from a modern game then tweaking it into an OSR game. If it works and keeps with the rulings-not-rules philosophy then it’s a good enough for me.
So there it is. The OSR is not about stagnation. It’s about preserving what has come to past and building on it for the future.

Classic Monsters for Castles & Crusades

So if you were a Kickstart backer then you should have your PDF by now. But for those of you didn’t, well, you’ll just have to buy it in a bit. The guys over at Troll Lord Games have put together a pretty darned selection of classic monsters.
So how many tomes of monsters do we really need? I’m of the opinion that you never have enough good ones and think this is pretty good one. All these beasts have already appeared somewhere before, hence CLASSIC monsters (Yes, even the mighty Flumph.) Plus you can never have too many versions of the Tarrasque just to keep the players honest. But what I do like is the slightly different twists to put monsters into the C&C framework. This isn’t a bad thing because it’s still pretty easy to translate stuff into your retro-clone of choice.
Like most monster books, each entry has its own bit of fluff text. Just that slightly different bit of perspective on creature is enough to give the inspiration to do some tweaking and then viola something the players won’t be expecting. Speaking of things players won’t expect the book has plenty of obscure creatures to challenge the players. There’s a good representation of monsters across levels and types. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a good outsider, evil fey, undead, abominations, elementals or whatever. Hell, there’s a great collection of lycanthropes to chose from (Were-Shark anybody?) There’s a damned good chance that there’s something that you use.
The only negative thing I have to say is that I wish there a few pieces of art here and there. Because my aged grognard brain may not always remember what a creature looks like (for example the Meazel) but that’s no biggie.
Overall, I’m really happy that I picked this up. Even more twists on familiar monsters are just a good spring board to create your own creature creations and besides not everybody has their old Fiend Folio laying around.