Category Archives: DIY Projects & El Cheapo Gaming

Cepheus Light: Upgraded Thoughts

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Stellagama Publishing is offering up Cepheus Light: Upgraded as a free PDF on DrivethruRPG.

So where does this take my little mind? Well, Cepheus Light is a lighter version of the full Cepheus Engine rules but not any where near as light as Cepheus Quantum games like Barbaric! So why not start with something like Barbaric! and tack on more of the details skills and some other the other mechanics from Cepheus Light plus more tidbits from Sword of Cepheus. I will say this the Quantum games offer much less complex monster stat blocks and thus makes the referee’s life much easier.

And yes. I know Cepheus at its heart is a SciFi RPG and I keep ranting about Barbaric! and Sword of Cepheus. SciFi is sort of my GM blind spot. For some odd reason, I’m just not good at it.

I’m still gaming via VTT’s so anything that is more rules light with quick character generation is the sort of thing that I’m looking for right now. I’m still brainstorming this whole idea which is why I’m posting. I’m sure folks have an opinion out there.

First, Quantum games don’t really have Attribute scores for the characters. This is handled via Skills and Traits. So add Attribute score. Now, working via a VTT (and with gamers who have never played a Cepheus (or it’s progenitors) normal character generation would (IHMO) really bog down. Quantum games just give a pool of Skill points to distribute. Much quicker but there’s a very limited number of skills. So my initial thought is to run with a template approach for skills. Pick this career and boom there you go then use discretionary Skill points for additional terms in a career. I’d limit to only three terms and have something for changing career paths. And just do one big Events Table for anything interesting that could happen.

This is just the kernel of an idea that’s bouncing around inside my head. I don’t how far I’d run with it or maybe change up the whole thing. Just throwing it out there.

More El Cheapo Dollar Tree Finds

I managed to make another trip to the local Dollar Tree this weekend. Not much new but I did find these little wooden blocks.

As I mentioned before, I like wood as my go to material for DIY gaming projects. It hits that sweet spot of price, availability, weight, and durability plus it really doesn’t any really specialized tools to work with.

These blocks marry up well with mini Jenga sets also available at most dollar stores. So here’s a pci with some of those sections as well as some minis for scale.

Just like that pile of mini’s that I have. I guess I need to take some time to do some painting.

YARC Resurrected

Everybody has that fantasy heart breaker and I’m no different. I played around with YARC years ago and I think it’s to bring this back. In case you’re wondering, YARC stands for Yet Another Retroclone. Because we got enough right?

So why even do this? Well, there’s lots of retrocones that I like bits and pieces and there are bits and pieces that I don’t like. Plus since I started this whole thing, a lot more ideas have popped into my head. Most of this will be all player material. I want it to be pretty much compatible with what ever adventure or supplement that I happen to pick up.

This is going to be a slow process and there’s going to be a bunch of changes along the way I know that. Plus I’ve got so many other gaming projects that I’m working on. I really should get some of those done.

So I want to talk about Stats a little bit for this inaugural post. I think stats should be important and that dump stats can kill you. Of course, it’s pretty easy to think about Constitution and its effect on HP. And Wisdom and Dexterity help with a characters defenses (Saving Throws and AC). But why would a Fighter need Intelligence or Charisma? Those might not be their highest stats but they still should be important. I’ve done some games where I used Charisma as a measurement of Luck as well as personality. It worked well and with modifiers going to a random thing it made the characters fun and even more unique.

For Intelligence, well, I am thinking about a very simple skill system. I know. No SKILLS in old school games. Sigh. I just thinks it’s possible but don’t over do it. Don’t worry. I’ll rant about skills later.

So for overall here’s how I’m thinking about applying those ability score modifiers:

Strength: Damage with Weapons (not just melee)

Dexterity: AC, Initiative (more on this later), and To-Hit with weapons (not just ranged). That’s right Strength is just for damage but Dexterity is to hit and not get hit.

Constitution: Hit Points of course.

Intelligence: Something with skills but there’s some class specific tricks I have up my sleeve.

Wisdom: Resist Magic (Saving Throw)

Charisma: Randomly applied to something.

Ah yes. I know this is vague but this is the first post of many. So stay tuned and join my crazy ride as put this together. And wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

What’s Next? Part 1

Yes, it’s time again for me to start thinking about what to run next. I know that my little gaming group is only a few sessions into the 5E game but I always start planning months out. And there’s a lot reasons I’m doing it on this one.

It’s all about really coming to grips about what I really like. I’ve always leaned more towards Sword & Sorcery and coloring outside of the lines just a bit but never going full Edgelord. Never go full Edgelord. I really love house ruling, kit bashing, and just tweaking rules. And lastly. 5E is just really loosing its luster for me. Sure, when it first came out. I liked it. And I still think it’s a good game system for a vanilla modern D&D setting. But I just think it won’t work that well with kind of game this going to turn into.

I went a long time without going “Oh wow! That’s cool.” But a few publishers really sparked my imagination. Planet X Games with the Phylactery Zines and Magic & Shit; the wild and crazy adventures by Dark Wizard Games; the Black Label adventures by Art of the Genre; and finally the recent Kickstarter for Hypreborea. To put it simple, these folks are talking my language. A little pulpy, grind house, B-Move Inspired weird fantasy material with a dark sense of humor without going full on Edgelord. So I have to fully admit that this sort of thing is right in my wheelhouse.

My first step is come up with what game I want to use the foundation/chassis to build this campaign around then start adding bits and pieces to make the characters fit the setting/genre.

I know I’ve ranted a lot about Barbaric! And it has a lot going for it. It’s an easy system for new players to pick up. Character generation is very quick and easy. And it’s cheap. (I won’t need to be asking players to shell out a bunch of money). There a couple of things going against it. Most of my players are only familiar with d20 based games (especially 5e) and I have so much material that based on old school d20 games on hand. I suppose I could convert the adventures and stuff. But it add another layer to any GM prep time and, well, I’m lazy. And I’m not sure how well it would work for a long term campaign.

I’m also looking at White Box. So it fulfills the cheap for the players and d20 based. The rules are very simple and I’ve done plenty of hacks on them. The only minor thing is converting monster damage and spells from later editions like BX or even AD&D. It wouldn’t be that hard. So that’s a definite possibility.

Swords & Wizardry has been my go to old school game for a long time. Some of the group even played in Blight Campaign. Easy to house rule and convert on the fly. The monster stat blocks are really easy to use and there are ton of monsters available. So yeah there’s that one.

Old School Essentials/Labyrinth Lord OK, these two are basically the same game. I did run a Labyrinth Lord game for the group and they liked it. I do have to say that OSE is the old-school darling of the day and is laid out and organized much better. Lamentations of the Flame Princess also basically has many of the same rules and some interesting spells.

Hyperborea has taken a lot my attention of late and the setting itself is very close to whole vibe I’m going for. While there are some extras from AD&D era, I don’t think it’s anything really overwhelming.

These games for me start with the best frame works to start working from. Sure I do love me some Dungeon Crawl Classics and Castles & Crusades does have a special place in my heart. But so much of what I’m planning is a total Franken-Game. Grabbing the best bits from various games or just being inspired by them. So yeah there will bits and ideas from all of the above but right now I’m trying to think which one I’m going to hack apart and put back together with the extra ideas and inspiration. What’s strange is that I’ve already got 40 pages of notes that I’ve copied and pasted from old house rules, random ideas, and various inspirational material. So needless to say, the final setup will have a bit of a different vibe going for it.

So I guess this really long post is a gigantic teaser about what’s coming up here on the blog and maybe on my Patreon.


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He Man & Friends

Finally got lucky at the local Dollar Tree! For a while, the Dollar Tree thing going around RPG circles was the $1 set of dice. The new one is this set of He-Man figures.

And yes they are $1 each. Which still isn’t bad compared to the prices standard prepainted minis. Sure they are about 54mm scale making them bigger than your standard D&D mini. Which is OK by me. I’ve gathering cheap (at that time) off market minis from other dollar stores and grabbing up sets on Amazon before D&D was cool.

Remember; dice, paper, pencil, and imagination are more important than things with an “offical” label and a mark up. Also, it’s already starting gamers. Back to school stuff is hitting the shelves, so it’s time pick up those gaming essentials at good prices.