Category Archives: News, Rants & Reviews

My Brain Is About To Explode

If you’ve been following my mundane life, I just got a new day job and that means I haven’t been blogging or writing as much as I used to or as much as I want to. But I did give myself a couple of presents over the last couple of weeks that really enriched my limited reading time.
While I was at the FLGS, I noticed this little beauty sitting on the shelf. I have the PDF but a hardcopy was just too good to pass up.
Now I’ve been playing thru the 5E version of Ravenloft. It’s classic. It’s, well, almost normal. Red and Pleasant Land takes vampires and weirdness to whole new and wonderful level. If you’ve never picked this up or looked at it. Then you’re really missing out. I won’t bore you with another review. If you want you can check out my original review before I started doing all of my gaming posts on this blog.
And speaking of Zak S. Here’s his new. The Maze of the Blue Medusa. Just freaking wow.
To put it bluntly, this is most awesome mega-dungeon I’ve seen. I don’t say that lightly because generally I’m not too fond of mega-dungeons but this one hits all the right marks. It makes sense. It’s easy for the GM to use. Although in the basic PDF there aren’t any hyperlinks which is a bit of a drawback. It’s to the point without the corny boxed text. It take so many familiar ideas and twists them just enough to make them exciting and interesting. As far as the looks. If you like the vibe of Vornheim and Red and Pleasant Land. This one continues with Zak’s style. Much smarted people than me have done wonderful reviews, just google it. Any way check it out. Buy it.
And lastly. I’ve finally picked what has become yet another classic for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. World of the Lost.
What can I say? Rafael Chandler strikes again. Dinosaurs. Ray Guns. Aliens. All set in an African backdrop. It’s odd. It’s crazy. It’s just freaking genius. And it’s one of those adventures that just keeps on giving with all sorts of random tables that you can use again and again. Oh. and it’s a hex crawl. And I love hex crawls. That you can grab up on Drivethru.
I know that probably when you started reading this post you were expecting in depth reviews. Sorry. I’m just doing a bit of blog based brainstorming and throw stuff out there. You see. There’s a good chance that I might be running a little 5E game at the FLGS in the future and I’d like to throw something new and interesting at the players. Something that will entertain and challenge veteran players and something that can show the new players that the game worlds don’t start and end with the Monster Manual. There’s so many creative things that can be done and these are just three awesome examples.

So You Want To Be A Necromancer?

I know this debate has happened way too many times but for some odd reason it got stuck in my head.
In the later editions of the World’s Most Popular Fantasy RPG if you wanted to be a necromancer it wasn’t that difficult. If you were lucky you had the right splat book and boom you’re a necromancer. Maybe you had to go a slightly tougher route. Take a feat or two and then boom you’re a necromancer. Or you might have to take some feats. Gain some levels. And then take a prestige class. And boom. You’re a necromancer.
How does that fly in an old-school game? Well. First, you start off as a Magic-User. Then you explore libraries of forbidden texts. You research and experiment. You find out where the tomb is of an ancient necromancer and raid it for secrets. You find a living necromancer and either attempt to study under him or beat him up and take his stuff. Or you could strike up a deal with some lord of the undead for arcane. It’s all stuff done in game not with the rules and tweaks. And chances are if you survive you’ll have a cooler character than taking options off a menu.
That’s today’s rant. Keep those dice a rolling.

Introducing The Gazebo Gazette

I’ve meant to start up a little E-zine for quite some time and Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day seemed like a perfect time to start the old ball rolling. The Gazebo Gazette features mostly content from old blog posts. Yes, they’ve been tweaked and edited a little but it’s stuff you’ve already seen. But it also has new content as well. This first issue has a new mini-dungeon, “The Lost Crypt of Valcerak”.
My plan is simple. Do one of these on an irregular basis. When I have enough content then I’ll publish an issue. That’s my time table for it. Another thing, the PDF versions will always be PWYW. I’m thinking of this as sort of a reverse Patreon. You have a chance to pitch in after you’ve seen most of the stuff and then it’s however much you want. It’s just that simple.
I hope you enjoy this issue and future issues.
You can pick the premier issue over at RPGNow.
And thank you all again.

Black Hack

Time for another new little retroclone. This time it’s Black Hack. This is probably the lightest set of rules that I’ve seen in a long time. The whole PDF clocks in at 19 pages.
Black Hack uses a very simple roll under system. Roll a d20 and get less than the applicable attribute score. There are modifiers based on class, equipment, and such. But that’s it in a nutshell. This is also a game that they players do most of the rolling. A PC attacks then roll an attack. When the monsters attack, the characters roll to avoid. A character’s damage in combat is based on their class but two handed weapons do get a damage bonus. In general, a monster’s damage is determined by the monster’s hit dice. Armor acts like extra Hit Points for an encounter (If I’m reading the rules correctly.) Like attack and skill rolls, saving throws are based on rolling under the right attribute. As characters advance, their attribute scores can go up but it’s rolled for which is kind of neat. It also borrows the Advantage/Disadvantage system from 5th Edition.
The absolute neatest thing is the way consumables are handled. Things like arrows, food, torches ect. Each is assigned a die type (d4, d6, d8, d10 …), when you use roll the die if it’s a 1-2 then you’ve used some up and go down a die step. If it’s a d4 then it means you’re out.
The basics are covered in the book. You’ve got the four basic classes, the most common spells, and a basic list of monsters. All that’s crammed into this little PDF. I’ll go ahead and say this, because someone is bound to say something. It’s art free. No pictures at all. You have to rely on the words and your imagination.
Black Hack would make a great game for an experienced GM to use as an introductory game for new players or kids. It’s a game that’s pretty easy to hack any concepts you would happen to like into another game. After all, it is called Black Hack. And it would be nearly effortless to run an adventure from just any OSR game.
For just $2, it’s a pretty good investment. Go check it out on RPGNow.

Hero’s Journey

James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games does it again. After hitting it out of the park with White Star, he comes out with The Hero’s Journey.
In a nutshell, this is another hack of Swords & Wizardry White Box. While White Star was space opera, Hero’s Journey is back to fantasy. So it’s very, very similar to White Box but adds a few things. First, there’s a bunch more classes like the Barbarian, Duelist, Druid, Jester, and Cavalier. There’s a total of 14 classes. There’s the usual array of races including Half-Orcs. And there’s some nice additional rules like Luck, Professions, and armor as damage reduction. Do note some of the material is from Barrel Rider Games’ White Box Line. All in all, it’s a good retroclone. It has a little Umph than the regular White Box without going overboard. Of course, like most OSR games, you can pick and choose and blend the rules as you wish.
Here’s the cool part. It’s Pay What You Want. So really, there isn’t much reason not to. It can make a good addition to a collection, mine it for rules tweaks, add it on to an existing White Box campaign or just play it as is.