Post Kickstarter thoughts

Slowly recovering from the awesome that was The Road To Hell Kickstarter, and getting back to the more mundane housework and day-to-day stuff I have to catch up with.

One of the things that was Awesome about the KS is that I’ve wanted to play Lamentations of the Flame Princess for a good couple of years (5 or so?) and the playtesting of this scenario (which has had a couple of outings now and has an ongoing playtest at the moment to test last-minute encounter additions) gave that one a good going over on that front. I’ll post more about that later, I’m overdue an appreciation post about LoTFP.

Another thing that was awesome about the KS was the fact that it funded and then some, so I’ll be able to take my original idea, pay the artists, pay myself and deliver it in a short time scale.

And it’s a model I can use for adventure releases in the future as well. I’ve got another two adventures that follow up Road to Hell (which I’m calling the Jacobean Trilogy for reference) but I’m also thinking about doing something for Mythras, which I’ve also wanted to run for like forever.  As I develop the ideas I have for it (in what I call the Fun Phase), I’ll blog about it here. Look out for the tag #makemineMythras.

In the next couple of days, I’ll be finishing off some writing/publishing stuff for Road to Hell to keep it on track for a December/January fulfilment. But I’ll also be getting back into Crypts and Things with the last writing for Under Dark Spires and issue 2 of The Shroud. I’m going to be running The Lost City of the God-Emperor at Grogmeet next Saturday, so nailing that one down is high on the list of priorities 🙂

From the Shroud issue 2

Its been a while since issue 1, but issue 2 of the Crypts and Things fanzine, is nearly manifested in the world of flesh.

The contents are as follows:

  • My Dirty Little Secret – a quick table of dark secrets that player characters can have, and probably wish they hadn’t, at character generation.
  • The Pie Makers of Peoplolis – an adventure location in the Zarth’s City of Beggars (although they may have a franchise near you).
  • A Strange Thing Happened on the Way to the Ruins – an encounter table of weird and wonderful non-player characters to liven up otherwise dull and humdrum journeys.
  • The Place of Dark Hooks – a full Crypts and Things mini-module.
  • All Hail the Death Riders – they are death from above with these flying undead warriors, a new monster for the game.
  • Prince of Rona – a demonic Prince of an Otherworld, fit to become the character’s latest Nemesis.
  • Varna’s Travelling Caravan – Neil Shaw is back again with this group of travelling merchants who deal with the mysterious and harbour a dark secret.

Clocking in at about 48 pages in A5 format (which is ten pages longer than issue 1) I’m looking to get it out by by early November, when I’ll be at Grogmeet in Manchester running The Lost City of the God-Emperor, which is part of the Under Dark Spires mega-module I’m currently finishing off for release early next year.

If you want to get a print copy, there will be a pre-order that runs for a couple of weeks while it is passing muster with the printer, via D101 Games’ Web store, during which time you’ll have instant access to the pdf. PDF only will go on sale via DriveThruRPG.com after the print pre-order.

Here’s the cover for issue 2 by the talented Jonny Gray.

Beyond Dread Portals at Furnace 2018

If you are following the progress of Beyond Dread Portals, the upcoming game of post-D&D Multi-dimensional Fantasy Adventuring by Paul Mitchener, Mitch is running the following game at Furnace in October.

The Wizard’s Staff

By Paul Mitchener

Ys. A folded dimension filled with a vast city ruled by the undead Autarch and his vampiric agents. A city where the guilds and noble houses which once governed the city are fierce rivals, the Autarch stirring up the strife so his own rule goes unchallenged. Ys has portals to several different worlds, and is the capital of an empire with territories on each.

Nespo. A dead world, full of undead monsters where Ysian army and Guild of the Arcane has a tenuous presence. Explorations in the wrong places awoke the Autarch sixty years ago, and Ys has been his ever since.

You. You’re a group from the Guild of Explorers with a treasure map, seeking a magical staff which once belonged to a wizard who came remarkably close to defeating the Autarch. A staff which still, it is said, contains much of his power. You’re being paid very well to retrieve the staff, but when the time comes, if you succeed, if the rumours are true, will you give it up?

Beyond Dread Portals cover by Jon Hodgson

Tournaments of Madness and Death now available to pre-order

This the lastest Crypts and Things module, two convention/one-shot adventures and an article explaining how to run this type of adventure.

Crypts and Things is an OSR Swords and Sorcery game, with influences from the 80s British Fantasy RPGs (early White Dwarf, Fighting Fantasy etc). The module is easily usable with other OSR systems and modern D&D style games.

Get the PDF immediately upon purchase and the print version in a couple of weeks when it clears proof with the printers.

Please note: While the pre-order is running you can pick up the main rulebook in either soft or hardcover with ÂŁ5/$6 knocked off the normal price. Free postage for UK residents on orders over ÂŁ10.

Tournaments of Madness and Death cover by David M. Wright

 

Tournaments of Madness and Death is done!

Finally, Tournaments of Madness and Death is done!

PDF versions to backers who got it as part of the C&T Kickstarter many moons ago, then I’ll be opening pre-orders via the D101 Games web store, later today.

What started off as a pair of scrappy convention scenarios, have been polished up by the editorial of Paul Mitchener some playtesting via Julian Hayley , the inspirational art of Daniel Barker inside, the brilliant illustrative maps of Golden Ennie award winner  Glynn Seal (MonkeyBlood Design) and topped up by the insanely brilliant cover art of David M Wright. I lost the faith with this one, but these folks work has dragged me out of the creative rut and brought me to a place of immense satisfaction 🙂

Onwards to the next C&T adventure book…Under Dark Spires 🙂

Tournaments of Madness and Death cover by David M. Wright

Introduction to The Furnace adventure, art by Daniel Barker

Tournaments of Madness and Death cover

I’m so close to getting this one finished. Waiting for the last illustration and a quick layout check then it will be available for pre-order.

In the meantime, I’ve redone the cover – so its less TSR tribute and shows more of David M. Wright’s awesome art 🙂

Tournaments of Madness and Death cover by David M. Wright

Tournaments of Madness and Death in Layout

The next Crypts and Things release, Tournaments of Madness and Death, is currently in layout.

I’m waiting on the last couple of pieces of art from Daniel Barker, who is doing a marvellous job of catching the Swords & Sorcery feel of the game, without being tedious and predictable.

Here’s the introduction to The Furnace, the first of the two adventures in the book, which feature’s Dan’s illustration of the sorcerer Arksal.

Introduction to The Furnace adventure, art by Daniel Barker

ETA Pre-order should open within the next week or so. with a general release mid-late August.

Tournaments of Madness and Death – Coming Soon

If this adventure book was an old school metal release from the 80s, on some creaky little independent label it would be one of those quirky split singles, were two bands would each have a side of the vinyl record.

On Side A is The Furnace. The first convention adventure that I ran when I decided to run an Old School D&D adventure, initially using Labyrinth Lord, and was named after the convention it was run at, namely, Furnace which is held every October in Sheffield UK. I ran it on Saturday night, which is now my annual slot for running OSR games, and despite the naysayers at the bar beforehand, who seemed threatened by my decision to run a game using a system they had left behind years ago, and the my own almost paralysing bout stage fright we had a fantastic time. It was at this point I decided that it was well worth my time returning to the games of my formative years in the hobby. The precise details of the scenario have changed with time, and it’s a more compact and polished-up Crypts and Things write up that is presented here.

Tearing up side B is The Tomb of the Evil Emperor. This was one of my final outings with Crypts and Things as a convention game in my first phase of running the game at conventions, just after the release of the game in 2012. A slightly boozy game at Continuum, a summer affair held bi-annually at Leicester University, which saw the bold adventurers race across the ruins of the Grand Debris, through the buried Imperial Complex, to a final confrontation with the shocking surprise of the true form of the Evil Emperor.

Two sides of the Crypts & Things convention experience. Madness both in the sense that the locations that make up the adventures aren’t your typical garden dungeon. The Furnace takes place on an artificial iron moon held up in the sky by magic, while Tomb is in a city crushed by a vengeful god using a meteor. Death because it was what faced the doomed world of Zarth if the adventurers failed in their mission to stop the Ultimate Evil that threatened the world, and because it was a genuine possibility given the cast of horrors they faced. All “good friendly violent fun in store for all” as the thrash metal band Exodus once sang on their song Toxic Waltz.

Finally Dark, Delicious and Deadly is an insert, cunningly placed between the two adventures, that explains the method behind the madness about how I run convention games of Crypts and Things.

For 3-6 characters levels 4th-5th, explicitly written for Crypts and Things but usable with a host of retro-clones based on the early editions of the Worlds Favourite Fantasy Game, and heck even the modern 3rd to 5th Editions if you can be bothered to put the work in adapting the monster blocks.

ETA Sometime in July, pre-order soon.

Tournaments of Madness and Death cover by David M.Wright

That Black Hack Thing

So here’s a post that is long overdue, an appreciation of David Black’s The Black Hack.

Like Dungeon World this was a game that I blindly stumbled into on Kickstarter, following a bit of a buzz online. In fact, if I was thinking critically it should have been a big nope. The pitch for the game was a bit meh “this is my version of D&D I run at cons, and people have asked me to make a printed version” and list of changes/features. But what sold me was its logo:

How badass and metal is that 🙂

So What is it?

In short, it’s David’s Rules for running no-nonsense D&D games at conventions and short online games. You can spin campaign games with it since it still has level progression, but beware the experience rules amount to “characters gain levels when the DM says they do”. Which I like, as a middle-aged dad I’ve not got time to run the old week in week out experience point grinds of my teenage years.

Its roots are firmly in the old school, with four OSR four classes, each of which gets a page listing their restrictions and special abilities in the A5 booklet. Then it expands and refines the rules base with cool bits from other modern derivatives ( such as Dungeon World’s GM doesn’t roll, 5th Edition’s Advantage roll) and bits of the author’s devising (such as usage dice for keeping track of expendable items, the initiative system where you test against Dexterity on a D20 and if you fail you go after the monsters). Monsters and spells are no-nonsense, a short paragraph with essential stats. that fit in a couple of tables over two or so pages. For example, monsters are presented as Armour, Hit Dice, and quick special abilities.  And that’s the big thing about the Black Hack, it really presents the game in a very clean bare-bones fashion, with no unnecessary padding.  Apart from the game’s logo which also acts as the cover image, there is no art, just a very clean and effective graphic design and typography (are you beginning to see a theme here?) At the time it had me scratching my head thinking “is this actually an RPG?”.

What its good for

Using the Black Hack at Furnace 2016

I got to test the rules out at Furnace 2016 where I had initially offered to run a 5th Edition game but had failed miserably to get my head around the three books in the time that I had pitched the game and I was due to run it. So instead of panicking, I thought “why bring three heavy thick hardcovers to the table, when I can bring one slim a5 booklet” 🙂 So I ran a playtest with my home group, who as fans of various editions of D&D had it under a stern gaze, and it passed with flying colours! Same when I ran it at the convention, with a group of players of varying experience with D&D. It just worked and delivered Maximum Gaming Fun.

Which is the win with any role-playing game, and the point where the Black Hack became one of my “you’ll pry this from my cold dead fingers” games.

Hacking the Black Hack

But this wasn’t the end of my adventures with the Black Hack. The game’s text is completely Open Gaming Content and comes with its own Open Gaming License. It encourages you to remix and remake it in whatever image you want. So I’ve done this myself a couple of times. Once for a Dark Sun tribute called Black Sun (get it 😉 ) and more seriously for a British Post Apocalyptic Game set in the 70s, called Un-United Kingdom. Both these remain unpublished because they need polish and playtesting. But they were both fun to build and write, and Un-United Kingdom has had an entertaining trip out as a Convention game, and worked out of the box first time 🙂

Polished games out there

While I may not have got my efforts out there, there is a dizzying array of free and low-cost games and supplements for the Black Hack. DriveThruRpg.com lists 386 at present.

Three that come to mind that are a bit more developed and standalone games in their own right:

Cthulhu Hack by Paul Baldowski (Just Crunch Games).  Cthulhu done lo-fat style using the Black Hack. Fully suppported with a range of adventures and supplements.

Heroic Fantasy by Graham Spearing (Wordplay Games). If you want more classes, such as the Barbarian and the Bard, more monsters, races (Dwarf, Elf etc) a bit more guidance and a full adventure, this 89-page game delivers.

Kaigaku by Jacob DC Ross (Thunder Egg Productions). A slimline take on Samurai Roleplaying, that has all the flavour of the 90s classics that inspired it but none of the rules bloat.

Second Edition now on Kickstarter

Author David Black has decided to do a 2nd edition packed with more examples, art, and other cool stuff to make the game even cooler than it already is.  It’s currently on Kickstarter now, and its legions of fans have pushed it over the 500% funded mark already.