All posts by Chuck

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

Phylactery No 1

Let’s face it when Zine Quest 2 was running on Kickstarter, this cover sold me. While Phylactery No 1 isn’t available to the general public yet, Kickstarter backers have gotten the PDF. And boy am I glad I backed this one. Phylactery is an old-school zine with a fun grind house vibe. It’s weird. It’s quirky. And just enough grind house to be interesting and weird without going for an edgy ick factor.
So what’s in it? Since it’s a zine it’s set up to use whatever old-school rules you happen to favor with little or no conversion. I’m attempting to do without any spoilers. Let’s see off the top there’s a the Chaos Throne which is sort of like a Deck of Many Things but you get to sit down while things go crazy. There’s a whole host of magic items. Everything form holy relics to potions. Each with a neat little twist. Plus there’s NPC’s to help or hinder (some really nice bad guys in there) the player characters. And there’s a little dungeon and a small hex crawl. Plus more little bits and bobs to make things interesting in your campaign.
Here’s what I think is best about it. Everything has just enough description that a GM can easily fit the stuff in their own campaigns. And like I said before the stuff is weird and just off the norm enough to be really interesting. This really zine really fits my tastes and style. Pulpy, weird, and just enough out of the box that it’s different and interesting and still be familiar. So yes. Most definitely highly recommended.
I’m not sure when it will be available to the public so keep an eye out for Phylactery No 1 from Planet X Games. And oh yeah, planning is underway for Issue 2 already.
Remember folks. Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun.

Episode 13: Don’t Let Monsters Be Boring

I missed last week but here I am back with another episode. This time I’m talking about making monsters interesting. It doesn’t take much and you don’t have to make every one of them weird. Because if everything is weird then nothing is weird. The top three things are tactics, personality and location. I also delve into the Druid in Eldritch Sorcery.

And while I’m stuck working from home, I’m also doing bonus episodes. So if you’re not subscribed here’s the most interesting one from last week.

Thanks for listening. Remember. Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. Have Fun. And Stay Safe!

Things are crazy

Like so many others, I’m posting a little update. Yes, I’m working from home but at time when work is really busy and the current crisis didn’t alleviate any of that. Instead more work just from home.
I did get about half of Gazebo Gazette No 3 written last weekend but I’m not sure when that will get done. I just may quickly change gears and throw some other stuff out there for folks during this crazy time. I’m still adjusting to the new schedule so blog posts, podcasts, and videos might happen just not on the normal schedule. I may do some crazy ramble casts while I’m working from home. I dunno. We shall see.
Now more than ever, it’s time to take use for what’s it’s best for. Escapism. Stress Reduction. And just laughing with friends even if it is via an Internet connection. That’s been my plan with this blog and every other creative outlet that I employ.
So folks. Let’s have fun out there. Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!

Faraway Land Totally Awesome Revisted

Not only am I thinking about what run next for my group but it’s a good time talk about some pretty cool games that you may not be hearing much about.
Faraway Land is a rules lite and pretty darned gonzo and original fantasy RPG. If you’re a fan of Adventure Time then you’ll probably enjoy Faraway Land. The important thing to note is that Faraway Land isn’t Adventure Time with the serial numbers filed off. I see that way too many times. It has it’s own original setting but still has that some quirkiness and odd factor. I mean two-faced psychic nuns who ride grizzly bears into combat and worship the ancient robo-bear. Yeah, that kind of stuff. Way cool. But heck if want some more “normal” fantasy dungeon fare then you can do that too. No problem. The rules are lite and flexible.

Grizzle bear riding telepathic Agnun

About the rules. Just grab a few d6’s. That’s it. Characters have three stats: Brute, Dexterity, and Wits. Roll a number of d6’s equal to your stat and take the highest number. Boons let roll more d6’s. That’s it. Quick and simple. Characters are simple enough they could fit on an index card. This is one of those non-d20 based games that has a real old school vibe to it. COmbat can be very dangerous. Character creation and mechanics are quick, simple, and flexible. Monsters are weird and unique. It’s a game you could play with your kids, new gamers or grizzled grognards. This one gets a big thumbs up from this grognard any way.
You can grab it up at Drivethrurpg. Yes, pdf is a little on the expensive side for me but I thinks it’s worth it in this case.

But wait you want to stick to something that’s more OSR. Something with rules that you’re already used to. Got you covered.
So in case you missed it, there was a Kickstarter for an OSR version of Far Away Land. Far Away Land has been out for quite a while and uses it’s own system which is pretty cool.
It’s pretty sweet. Setting-wise it’s still the same but many of the creatures, races, and spells have been converted over to an OSR system. And yes I know there are many OSR systems. In this case, Dirk used White Box or more specifically Swords & Wizardry Continual Light as a base for the rules. So most of the rules should be pretty much familiar to many.
The biggest change for FALOSR is the magic system. It’s pretty simple in a useful sort of way. First, there technically aren’t clerics in the game. There are Light Mages which are sort of like clerics and Chaos Mages which are more like your standard blow-stuff-up Magic-User. Spells are broken down into three categories White, Gray, and Black. Gray spells either of the classes can cast. However, a Light Mage casting a Black Magic spell takes a penalty to casting. And vice versa for the Chaos Mage casting White Magic. They can do it but there’s a penalty. Also, the number of spells a mage may cast is simplified. It’s Level+3. And no preparation of spells. If you know it then you can cast it. Basically. Once again there is a little exception and difference. Spells are broken down by level which corresponds to character level. This makes what level a spell is totally different than other OSR games that mimic the original sources. So a 2nd level character can safely cast second level spells. They can try to cast higher level spells but it’s pretty dangerous. Like I said, the actual spell levels have changed because of this and FALOSR’s own internal logic. A prime example is that Sleep is an 8th Level spell. You read that right. But there’s plenty of new and interesting spells to play around with.
So in case you were wondering, the other two classes are Fighter and Thief. That’s it. Just the classic four classes. For races, you have the standards less Halfling and then the Far Away Land specific races: Agnun, Blonin, Clockwork,Exions, Glacerian, Numan, Orka, Poomkin, and Simian. Plus there’s a few of the monsters you can easily convert. FALOSR has a whole host of little rules tweaks and mini games as well. Want to do 0-Level funnel. No problem. Collaborative wording building? It’s there too. Plus there’s vehicles and naval combat. Special weird powers and training montages. There’s a ton of little useful bits in there.
And yes. It’s on Drivethru too.

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Episode 12: Boxed Text..?

This week I delve into the Boxed Text. The bane of many adventures. Be inspired by it but don’t get tied to it. You can even ignore it. And a very special call in. Plus, I also start on reading from Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry. There’s some pretty good thoughts in the beginning of the book.
As always, you can subscribe on most podcast platforms. Or heck just stream it right here.

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Write Adventures Like Lester Dent

I know I don’t mention it very often but I’m a big fan of the good old 1930’s pulps. This is fiction that I spent so much youth devouring and of course one of my favorites was Lester Dent’s Doc Savage. According to Wikipedia, Lester Dent cranked 159 of the Doc Savage stories and they averaged around 6,000 words. On average he wrote about one a month. That’s a pretty tough undertaking. But he had a formula that’s been widely published on the Internet. So why not take that formula and apply it writing adventures.
Published adventures are great and like rules I use them as guidelines and as starting points for adventures that the player characters get interested in. So that means coming up with a lot of adventures on my own or on the spot. Now, let’s look at this formula with my own little annotations and thoughts.
1. Villain is killing somebody/something in a odd way.
2. Villain wants something special.
3. An exotic location: Dungeon, ruins, pocket plane.
4. Personal threat to the player characters.

Just ask yourself these questions: Who’s the villain? What’s special about them? What weird thing do they want? Where is their lair and why is it cool? What allies and minions does our villain have? Does the villain have some connection with the player characters or an NPC that they are fond of?
Pull in at least two of these ideas. Maybe the villain wants something that the PC’s have? Maybe the villain is killing villagers to gain magical power to summon some boss monster. Maybe a strange monster is stalking the area and everyone thinks that it’s something else. Mix and match.
Now the normal formula breaks the fiction down into four 1,500 word blocks. Since as GM, you’re not really thinking about word count. We’re grab up the handy Four-Act Movie formula.

Start in the middle of things and introduce the main players of the adventure as soon as possible. You’re laying the foundation for the rest of the adventure. Make sure you end ACT 1 with some sort combat encounter.

Add complications for party. Use traps or other obstacles that party has to overcome that aren’t combat encounters.
Throw in a plot twist based on The Hook. The villain might take a hostage. Maybe a rival party. Or how about betrayal by an NPC?
And of course, another combat encounter.

The PC’s make some progress at resolving the plot.
But there are even bigger obstacles and/or complications than in ACT 3.
And as before. Another combat encounter.

The final conflict and obstacles and plot twists.
Keep the players guessing and heap more challenges on the PC’s until the very end.
Resolve the plot hooks.

And that my friends is a wrap.

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Playing It Wrong: Let’s Redefine Grognard

A crazy idea. Let’s redefine Grognard. Not the old grumpy gamer but gamer who’s about the game. New communities are forming and most folks are just getting sick and tired of all the negativity. Plus where I get my organic gummy bears. And I finish up on Supplement II: Blackmoor.

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