I freely admit that I have a thing for the Undead in the same way as some fantasy gamers have a big thing about orcs and other green skinned monsters.
Rather than splurge on the various Zombie RPGs that have come out since the 90s, I’ve always channeled my love of these undead through my own adventures. My upcoming re-released Life and Death Zarth Edition, for Crypts and Things and other OSR RPGs, really is my fantasy tribute to the films of George A. Romoro.
This first Zombie is encountered in the second adventure of this four adventure collection. He is recently deceased, like the rest of the Zombies encountered in the old Sorcerer’s Tower that forms the basis of Dust of Eternity, and like a cruel joke his previous personality and some memories linger in his now dead body. The Dust of Eternity is a low-level introductory adventure, but one I intended to show the principle of Monsters are People too even the Zombies who normally lack a personality. The inspirations came from the fact that I had recently been playing Bioshock – where in the the sunken city of Rapture its inhabitants have been turned into mockeries of their formerselves by the use of biogentics, yet still remember their former life and go around moaning and lamenting about the humanity and relationships they had lost.
Young Zombie by David M.Wright
The idea of a dead civilization that choked to death on its own evil practices thousands of years previously has always tickled my fancy. The third adventure Dead Pot Country explores this theme as the adventurers venture into dried up river valley and wander through the ruins of a once glorious civilization. A civilization that buried its dead in large pots in fields surrounding its main city…a practice that leads to minefield of danger when the undead inhabitants of said pot burials come back into the light of day.
Pot Burial Zombie by David M.Wright
I always liked the idea of Zombies as victims and embodiment of a viral plague, and this theme is played out in the final adventure, Life and Death, where the city of Miraz is in the grip of a plague whose victims are resurrected as shambling undead like the one pictured below. Miraz is in many ways is an ancient Mesopotamian city state complete with mudbrick houses and even a Ziggurat which is home to the God-Tyrant of the city. The plague is symptomatic of the collapse of order that the city is undergoing when the adventurers arrive in the city. Not only has the Tyrant lost control of a third of his city to the plague, but his sons are at war with each other and a rebellion amoung the peasants is brewing.
Plague Zombie by David M.Wright
Life and Death Zarth Edition is currently in the final phases of production and is due out April/May this year.
Got an idea for a short adventure or article for Crypts and Things?
With the success of the first issue of From the Shroud I’m looking for articles and adventures of no more than 10 pages in length for a second issue. In the first instance you should send a synopsis of what you intend to submit to me at email@example.com.
Payment is a print/pdf of the issue your work appears in.
From the Shroud Issue one is available in pdf form from DriveThruRpg.com
To make room for all the awesome new releases we are going to put out this year here at D101 HQ , I’m having a stock clearance sale over at my webstore.
Featured in it is: Crucible of Dragons, Life and Death, The Savage North, OpenQuest Adventures and if you are intrigued by River of Heaven (that runs off the OpenQuest system) it is available in both hard and soft cover.
Everything is 50% off normal cover price.
If you are interested, move quickly. Several titles are running low in stock (as in one or two copies).
Early next week I’ll be announcing what we are going to be releasing in annual State of D101 Games.
The Crypt Keeper by David M. Wright
Since the kickstarter I’ve planned to support those heroic and enthusiastic Crypt Keepers who run games at conventions, at their local gaming store and online, with a Disorganised Play Programme, of support documents, and a library of ready-made adventures.
Well we are now open for business. If you backed as a Convention Champion or Hero on the Kickstart you would have got an update about this and the Tournaments of Madness and Death book.
If you didn’t back the kickstarter but want to join the Graveyard Shift, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve thrown a hard cover copy of Crypts and Things +two runners up pdfs at Tenkar’s Tavern , the outstanding News blog covering a good chunk of OSR stuff daily, for their annual OSR Christmas giveaway.
To get in with a chance with winning simply go over to the Tavern and comment on this post, sometime within the next 48 hours 🙂
Just in details of fellow Brits Cakebread & Walton’s crazy Winter Holiday Sale 40%-60% off until 2nd January on DriveThruRpg.com. Remember they are publishers of the damn fine Clockwork & Chivalry and Pirates & Dragons, both based of OpenQuest. If you’ve not checked out these games now is the time 🙂
Here’s the announcement in full:
Don’t miss the MASSIVE Cakebread & Walton Holiday Sale! All our PDFs have 40% off until 2nd January! Pick up the titles you’re missing! Try something new! The sale that Oliver Cromwell tried to ban!
Also, don’t miss our super deal bundles!
50% off the complete OneDice bundle – everything for the OneDice system in the ALL FOR ONEDICE! ONEDICE FOR ALL! bundle.
60% off the complete Renaissance bundle – everything for the Renaissance system in the RENAISSANCE: LOCK, STOCK & BARREL bundle!
Note: if you already own some of the titles in the bundle, you’ll get a discount.
So here we go, hot on the heels of the main rule book comes this short, fun A5 zine, which is currently in layout.
This is the content’s list:
Achievements. A short system that sits alongside the experience system to reward characters for things they have done in their adventures, making them memorable events and useful benefits.
The Secret of Skull Hill. A short adventure of mystery and otherworldly delights featuring the schemes of an alien parasitic race and their attempts to reunite the body and soul of their host god.
By their Master’s Dark Command. The sad and short lives of Sorcerer’s apprentices revealed, and the useful things they become after death detailed.
Exotic Liquid Relief by Neil Shaw. Is your character bored with quaffing bog standard Blackmire’s Best whenever they need to regenerate 1d6 Hit Points? Well Neil Shaw provides details of a variety of brews to make your character’s life more varied and interesting.
Generic Life Events. This table is if you are overwhelmed by the sheer number of Life Event tables in the main rule book or simply after a OGL version you can base your own efforts off.
Useful Items of the Kindly Ones. Minor magical items left behind by the gods who used to care about Zarth.
Things to Find in Great Pots. A short random table for the harried Crypt Keeper for that inevitable moment when the players ask “so that pot you mentioned just now, what’s in it?”
Tea Party of Doom. A short encounter somewhere in the dark dismal woods with a crazy immortal Alchemist who has been playing with the psychoactive toads and their potential to provide tea.
Here’s the cover by David M. Wright
Jon Hodgson is a long time collaborator of D101 Games (he did all the covers for OpenQuest for example) and his nine year old son Rory has created this fun Card Game, which has plenty of fantasy elements…
Last seven days and its already funded and well into its stretch goals of additional cards and add on packs.
I’m backing it not just out of loyalty to Jon but because its a nicely packaged card game that my pair of Newtlets (Henry 8 and Evie 9 1/2) will enjoy and we can quickly play to get them away from the ‘screens’ (TV, Ipad, Laptop….you name it if it bleeps and has a controller our pair will grab it), especially before bedtime.
Most of Crypts and Things literary, comic and gaming influences are listed in the bibliography in the book but here’s some of the films that inspired me during the writing of the book.
Anything by Ray Harryhausen, especially Jason and The Argonauts. Don’t know about you but my skeletons are like this.
And The Golden Vogage of Sinbad for this ultimate ‘boss’ fight 🙂
Warlords of Atlantis, for all those lost cities under the ocean ruled by strange Sorcerer’s and their hybrid monsters.
Hammers’ ‘She’ for the ultimate of Sorceress ruling a lost city in the jungle vibe.
and while we are drifting off down the horror side, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and Nightbreed provided me with lots of inspiration for the demonic Others of the game, and hey the Puzzle Box (along with Elric’s Stormbringer) is the epitome of a C&T magic item.
finally the inspiration for the ghostly netherworld of the Shroud comes from the film Nightwatch (which I saw before I read the excellent novels upon which it is based upon).
If you are wondering if there is a the connection between the leaders of Serpent Men, The Mara, and the Dr Who episodes Kinda/Snakedance this trailer for the DVD release should confirm it.
Once upon a time in alien Other World there was a God called Ugsharak. As a deity that lived outside of time and space, he could be called upon to provide magical knowledge and power. Ugsharak was served by a race known as the Gizoni, who in return for blood sacrifice received potent black magic from the god. When he took form in the world it was as a monstrous 30 foot tall giant skeleton whom the Gizoni called the “God Who Walks in Bone”.
Over a span of a thousand years the Gizoni home world weakened and became a desolation because of the constant need for blood for Ugsharak. In response Ugsharak decided to leave, gathering his priesthood into his mouth and traveling to a new world to start the cycle of pain and suffering again.
Upon reaching the world of Zarth he materialised there in his physical form. However disaster awaited him. His body materialised in the earth, an element abhorrent to him, and he became trapped in rock up to his neck. His soul escaped to a place in the Shroud helped by a the Gizoni. In time the Gizoni priests, made a bridge via an ancient crystal Black Monolith not far from his body, which had now fossilised and with only the skull above the earth. Thus the legend of Skull Hill was born.
In time humans settled nearby, refugees from one of Zarth’s devastating wars. They were simple farmers and a superstitious lot. When they found the Black Monolith at the edge of their lands, they started leaving some of their crops as an offering at Harvest time. One day the Gizoni came out from behind it, as they had gated over from the Shroud to make sure the Zarth end of the portal was still intact as was their wont from time to time. The locals prostrated themselves before these new gods and soon they were providing human sacrifices to the Gizoni at ‘Harvest Time’ who would take them to the slumbering Ugsharak in the Shroud. Tragically though within a couple of generations the nearby human settlements were deserted due the strain put on their populations due to the annual sacrifices demanded by the Gizoni to reunite their god’s soul with its body. Not only was it tragic for the local humans, whose lands became the deserted Lonely Place, but for the Gizoni who were only a few sacrifices away from having enough stored magic reuniting their god’s soul with its body and freeing it from the hill.
To be continued in the “The Secret of Skull Hill”. An adventure in From the Shroud #1 eta December 2016.