It’s that time of year. Most everybody does it and take it as time to get back on track and set some goals and make some plans for next year. So I go into a whole long rant in this week’s episode. You can subscribe on most platforms or just stream it here.
But here’s the highlights:
Cool stuff this year goes to Old Skull Publishing (and his great games Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells, Dark Streets & Darker Secrets, Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells). Also Old Essentials from Necrotic Gnome wonderfully organized and easy to use take on BX D&D. Then there’s Goodman Games. DCC Lankhmar. Hell yeah! And Frog God Games. Great Kickstarters like Tegel Manor and small print run Indiegogo campaigns for some neat adventures. And then there’s Skeeter Green and his new entry into publishing.
And then the misses of the year. Oh Ref Book where art thou? I’m not going to spend a lot of complaining. I just don’t care about it any more.
So now on to what I’m planning. First, expect more of the same here at the old blog but probably with more Swords & Wizardry. For Playing It Wrong, also expect more of the same but with more food and humor because blackjack and Hookers are just too expensive.
I’ve got some minor tweaks to do on the Patreon. That should be done before the end of the year.
I plan on doing about one video a month on the Youtube channel. Some reviews/unboxings and maybe a few little crafty/DIY type things.
Discord. Well. I keeping forgetting about that. I’ve tried to set aside a time for that. So instead, I’ll just be a random encounter there. I’ll show up and see what’s going on.
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Last month Frog God Games ran a contest for fan reviews. I did a couple and did garner some Frog Bucks to spend. I’m still shopping. The Blight was on my list of things review and I just didn’t have the time fully delve into it. But as luck would have it, I just did have some time and dove right in and wish I had done so earlier. Now, if you’ve follow me around social media I’ve mentioned the idea of mixing The Midderlands, Tegel Manor (which I backed), and The Blight. That idea still stands. One more disclosure for this rant. This is based on the 5E version of The Blight and I’ll only be talking about the Campaign Guide. I had grabbed it and a bunch of other really cool stuff from a 5E Humble Bundle.
Let’s start of with a general overview. So what is The Blight. It’s grim/dark, horror, gritty urban campaign location, namely the City-State of Castorhage. It’s mean and cruel place and it’s big. The campaign guide places the population at about 3.8 million. That’s roughly the size of Los Angeles. Not only is the city big so is the book. It clocks in at 890 pages or so. No easy feat reading this thing in PDF form. Castorhage is physically and morally corrupt. Countless alchemical experiments and a lot of sewage have polluted the the main river. The royal family is decadent and insane. To add to this already warped setting, there’s the Between. A nightmarish dimension that can sometimes be accessed through mirrors or other reflective surfaces. And to keep with horror theme sometimes the Between just pops up in those places.
Let’s do a little run down of the book itself. Like I said, it’s huge. It starts off with the usual overview. This can be most easily summed up with the Seven Prayers of Castorhage and the Seven Unspoken Prayers of Castorhage. Basically, the rules and philosophy of the city. One for the low born and one for the powerful. For Example: Only the wise know how to use the dangerous curse of magic, and only a fool would tamper with it./M agic is power, and power in the wrong hands is folly. Only those of high caste know how to use it wisely; the lowborn who dabble with it must be taught a lesson and cleansed as an example to others.
Next up are people. Some of the more important NPC’s as well as options for player characters plus quirks, and new equipment. Then we have a GM’s section with advice and suggestions on how to run the Blight. And there’s even more material about places and people. One of the interesting things about Castorhage is that there gods and Gods. Let me explain. The gods aren’t really gods. They walk around and inhabit the city. They don’t have real religions but they do have cults. They way the are presented in the book I’d call them urban legends to place blame or find cause for any mysterious or horrible thing that might happen. For the 5E version, they really missed the boat on this one. I feel that the gods would make great warlock patrons but alas nothing was written up so GM’s would be on their own.
Then there’s a whole section on the Between. Like I mentioned a nightmare dimension that personally reminds me a bit of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. But that just maybe me. I don’t want to say too much on this part since I feel it’s a good venue for GM’s to throw in some mystery and exploration in an otherwise urban based campaign. But it is detailed as basically it’s own world. Oh yeah and the Between can corrupt characters and so on. Nasty stuff.
Then come a huge bestiary. I’m seeing why this book is so long. All sorts of new and interesting monsters as well as some of the major NPC’s. Oddly enough, enterprising GM’s will find a few other player character options like the Undying. You’re only sort of undead.
Then there’s a very small section of inspirational random tables and then the books goes into another more detail breakdown of each of the districts of the city. There’s a ton of information and detail about these districts. It’s not as crazy as City-State of the Invincible Overlord but still there’s a lot. Almost too much for your average GM to digest and remember.
Finally, there’s an adventure path, The Levee. I don’t want to put any spoilers but looks pretty good and if you want a sneak peak of what it’s like then stop by and listen to Swords & Misery, an actual play podcast.
So what do I think? Overall, pretty god but it doesn’t mean there a few problems. First there’s a few editing errors that make the 5E conversion seem almost like an after thought. There’s a few places where the explanation of crunchy is worded more akin to the Pathfinder rules rather than 5E. Like I said before, there’s lots of information and I fell it wasn’t always presented in the most efficient fashion leading to page flipping and head scratching till find another bit of information to tie it all together. Also, some of the NPC’s have powers or abilities that are mentioned in the fluff text but not even mentioned in the stat blocks. For example, one powerful NPC “borrows” the skin of an underling when needed. Yeah. Nasty stuff. And I suppose I should mention that if you aren’t ready for a decadent, horror-filled setting then just walk away. Also, going through the setting if you are the type to doesn’t like the Cantina Scene type set up then you may just house rule the extra races and racial options out. However, I would say this, it all seems to fit without seeming forced or “let’s just make sure that any player can play whatever they want”. There may be prices and/or consequences based on the character’s race or class.
Do I still want to run it. Hell yeah. But I’ve got some thoughts on that. 5E: While the version I have of the Blight is for 5E. I just don’t feel the game as written doesn’t play well as for a horror/grim dark setting. There would have to be some house rules. Sure all the races are ready made but there’s nothing about Tieflings which fit well and would have their unique problems in the city IMHO. Swords & Wizardry/White Box/Old School Essentials/OSR: This could be done with little or no conversion and only some minor tweaking. I know there’s a Swords & Wizardry version available but it’s so easy to convert into Swords & Wizardry. There’d me minimal house rules plus there’s is much good old school stuff out there it would be easy to find other tools that would fit. Now, I can’t mention the old school games without thinking about Lamentations of the Flame Princess. The vibe fits almost perfectly but there’d still be some tweaking. The real gem in LOTFP is the spell list which could be easily substituted for the original or vanilla lists. Dungeon Crawl Classics: Lankhmar This already give a set up for running urban adventures with a more Sword and Sorcery flair. Conversion would be a little more difficult and then there’s the fact the magic can get really swingy. So that would be a consideration. Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells: It’s no secret that I love this game. It’s rules light and very easy to convert into. It would work great. If you want to add non-human races then that might take a little work. Zweihander: I admit that I haven’t played this yet but I do have the PDF. And it would work danged perfectly. It’s fits great with the tone and atmosphere of the setting. There are a couple of problems. First, it would be a pain in the butt to convert all the monsters and NPC’s. I’d also be faced with teaching the group a whole new game system.
I’ve rambled long enough on this. I haven’t brought it up the gaming group yet so we’ll see what they say. We’ll see what happens.
This is something I’ve done in my other old school games successfully. There aren’t any skills so to speak and most folks go with roll something versus an ability score. But in the past I’ve always what I felt was the best mechanic available. One good stat made a character great at a whole family of things. So I’ve gone to averaging.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the games put out by Old Skull Publishing and I’m working on a nice little review of Dark Streets and Darker Secrets, a campaign for it, and some other little goodies. The point of this is that I’m going to be adding that this to my game.
Like I said, instead of making checks against one stat, make a check against the average of two. I’ve thrown these checks into a few broad categories.
Athletics (Strength and Dexterity) or (Physique and Agility: Climbing, Acrobatics, Jumping and all that stuff.
Craft: (Intelligence and Dexterity) or (Agility and Intellect): This is for doing stuff with your hands. Skinning an animal, hot wiring a car, even first Aid.
Wits: (Intelligence and Wisdom) or (Intellect and Will): This isn’t about knowing stuff rote. It’s about understanding information and being able to parse that information.
And, of course< there are more options but use as you will. And you don't even have to add this to character sheets. It's just make check against and list them. My players already know what I mean.
And it works. It makes more than one stat important to preform an action. So min maxing is not your friend. It's easy. And generally works well with the existing system.
Like any rules hack, your mileage may vary. Remember the most important thing isn't the rules your using but the fun you're having.
This is how bad I am at self promotion. I forgot to post here. Well, it’s been a couple of years since I released anything and here it is.
That’s right. It’s finally released after years of messing around and months of editing and hesitating I finally pulled the trigger. Check it out on DrivethruRPG. You’ll need the core book and the addendum to Sharp Swords and Sinister Spells. Depending on the reception, I may do a hardcopy via Lulu. And oh yeah. Did I mention? It’s PWYW.
I mentioned this in the most recent episode of the pod cast and here we got the first What’s Cool Wednesday of 2019. Old Skull Publishing and the games of Diogo Nogueira.
I guess it was about a year ago that stumbled upon Sharp Swords and Sinister Spells. I had downloaded long before that but it took me a while to really look at it. And dang it’s a pretty cool game. I did a review a while ago on it and wrote up a bunch of house rules and other stuff plus I’m working on my own setting for it. Go ahead and read that over. I don’t need to go over the basics of the system again. But any way, Diogo is a pretty cool guy and has done a lot for his own games plus for Dungeon Crawl Classics. But he isn’t done yet.
He’s two more games coming out that run on the same rules chassis as Sharp Swords and Sinister Spells. There’s Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. A sort Buffy-esque modern urban fantasy RPG. And there’s Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells. What’s the best way I can describe this one? Heavy Metal Space Fantasy. That should be coming out soon too. A busy guy who can pretty much do it all; writing, art; and layout. A hell of a lot more talented than me.
Any way, you can look up his stuff on RPGNow and you can’t beat those prices. Or follow Old Skull Publishing on its MeWe Group or its Facebook Page.
There you go. It’s 2019 and let’s share the fun.