The Midderlands Expanded Preview

 

Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood Design has very kindly given me a copy of the work in progress The Midderlands Expanded, which is currently on Kickstarter. So in return here’s a quick preview.

What is the Midderlands?

Put concisely its the slightly grimdark, slightly tongue in cheek version of medieval Britain that goes through collectively our imaginations as we visit the many historical sites peppered around this Green and Plesant Land of ours. The first book,  a full-colour hardcover, weighing in at 200+ pages A5, The Midderlands zooms in on the fantasy version of the area that Glynn lives in the West Midlands (Midlands to Midderlands get it?). Its one half setting guide and one-half bestiary of various goblin folk and spiky and foul creatures. It oozes playability and flavour and is copiously illustrated and has attendant maps throughout. While it uses the freely available Swords and Wizardry ruleset, which in turn is based on original D&D, it’s easily usable with the fantasy system of your choice.

If you didn’t get the original book you can pick it up as one of the pledge levels in this Kickstarter.

This New book: Midderlands Expanded

I could be lazy and say, come on its more of the same! But I’ll break it down a bit.

  • Guide to the Havenlands. One thing the original book immediately left me thinking about was what the rest of Havenlands (the wider Fantasy Britain) was like. Well, this section answers that, detailing both the land and its rulers (the Dukes and Duchess). It also looks at the islands overseas neighbours, such as the fearsome Serpent Lands.
  • NPCs. Several fully statted NPCs to drop in your Midderlands game, and some quick notable personages for the rest of the Havenlands.
  • More Creatures. Tentacled Middergloom horrors, Trolls, and more things of general spikeyness abound in this section.
  • The Witchfinder. Want to hunt witches, elves and creatures of the night, generally bringing an atmosphere of fear and anxiety to any village or town you visit? Now you can with this Swords and Wizardry character class.
  • Oddities. A collection of more magic items, and just downright odd special items.
  • Adventures and Adventure Hooks. The Midderlands has its own style, which is not exclusively dungeon crawling, and there is a large section showing this. This book adds a creepy horror adventure location in the form of the Rat Dog Inn, expands upon the rocky outcrop of land known as Brig Tor, and gives seven adventure outlines.

As well as the book itself the Kickstarter also includes a full A2 map of the Havenlands, a GM screen and a Dice Drop Card (or Gloomioom Randomiser Card as Glynn colourfully calls it).

Overall. The Midderlands is a living breathing imaginary version of Fantasy Medieval Britain, with a good dollop of uplifting humour that makes it a fun and easy read. The production values of the first book where high, not only because of the layout, illustrations and cartography but because Glynn choose to use a printing house rather than print on demand. I know he plans to do the same again here. I fully recommend the new book from what I’ve seen in the preview, not only based upon the high standards of the first book but as a wider zoom out on the setting overall and the all the extra meat that it adds to the original.

#midderlandsartbook

Midderlands Expanded Kickstarter

Crikey, Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood Design is at it again. Six months after the original Midderlands book, which focused on the small region of Gloomium soaked land of the title, successfully kickstarted and delivered (sometime before Christmas if my hazy memory is correct), he’s bringing us a sequel, The Midderlands Expanded.

This new book expands the setting to cover rest of the fantasy UK that is hinted at (and apparently expands some of the places I whimsically put in the Midderlands Crypts and Things Conversion Guide) as well as adding more “gaming juice” to the original Green and Unpleasant Land that is the Midderlands.  You can also get the original Midderlands book as part of this Kickstarter.

I can firmly recommend this. The original book was delivered on time to a high quality (full colour, properly printed not POD), and was one of my favourite releases of all time. The previews on the Kickstarter show more of the same. I’m in 🙂

Here’s the KS video.

Green is the new Black!

Rejoice fellow OSRians, Glynn Seal’s (aka Monkey Blood Design) The Midderlands, as previously Kickstarted and supported by this here blog, has been released;

As a stretch goal for the Kickstarter I promised a Crypts & Things Conversion Guide, so you could use the Midderlands (which uses Swords and Wizardry as its base) without much fuss with C&T.

I’ve just finished the conversion guide, which is on its way for proofing/checking before a quick layout and release as a freebie via DriveThruRpg.com and the D101 Webstore, which I anticipate will be sometime next week.

In the meantime, he’s a quick excerpt from the C&T Conversion Guide.

Gloomium

Gloomium is everywhere in the Midderlands. It seeps up from the Middergloom, an ambiguous underworld below the Midderlands. It is toxic and corrupting. It is green in colour and is the source of much strangeness, corruption and twisted magic. This section explains how gloomium works in the context of Crypts & Things magic system.

As a Source of Khaos

Crypt Keepers should assume that the seepage of gloomium is the source of Khaos monsters and mutations, for games set in The Midderlands.

Corruption

Whilst in the Midderlands, use the Gloom-touched rules (Midderlands page 10 and 11), instead of the standard Crypts and Things Corruption table on page 64 of Crypts & Things.

Green is the Brightest Colour of Magic!

While in the Midderlands there is only two colours of magic; Green and Colourless.

Green is the magic of gloomium; it’s harmful, toxic and glows a malignant shade of luminous green when cast. It causes corruption when cast, using the rules on page 84 of Crypts & Things. All the spells on the Black Magic spell lists (see page 50 of Crypts & Things) are Green.

In addition, the following new spells from the Midderlands are Green Magic spells:

Curse of Old Hobb, Gloomium Shield, Middergloom Missiles, Morgontula’s Vomit.

Colourless magic is everything else (i.e. Spells from the Grey and White Lists). It does not have a colour when cast and its effects are usually boringly beneficial or utilitarian in nature.

What Did That Do? (see Midderlands page 74) is a colourless spell.

While in the Midderlands ignore The Summons of Evil rules for casting beneficial (white) magic.

Also, ignore the rules for Blood Magic (unless you are using The Others from Crypts and Things or a similar body of Demonic beings who provide magic for blood sacrifice).

Sorcerer’s Magic Sensitivity to Gloomium

Gloomium is green-hot, radioactive stuff as far as a Sorcerer’s magic sensitivity ability (see page 23 of Crypts & Things) is concerned. It drives many Sorcerers ‘up to the wall’, with the constant throbbing of the temples when their magic sense is triggered by a pool of the green stuff in some swamp, or from a creeping feeling of unease because the house they are lodging in is built over a large gloomium deposit. This does have the benefit of sorcerors being great at finding gloomium.

Using Gloomium to Regain Magic

Since gloomium is nasty raw magical stuff, sorcerer’s may regain magic by ingesting it. This is a particularly dangerous and insane practice which is not recommended by the Royal College.

The procedure is thus:

For each ‘gulp’ of gloomium, a sorcerer regains one level of cast spell and loses 1d6 hit points, from the toxic and corrosive nature of the substance, and upon a failed Sanity Roll loses 1d6 sanity points.  It takes one combat round to take a gulp. They also glow bright glowing green for the number of gulps you took in days. All these effects add to each other, so for example, if you take four gulps you take 4d6 hit points of damage and potentially lose 4d6 Sanity if you fail your Sanity Test and you can remember up to a fourth Level spell or any combination of spells whose levels.

For example, Ned the Anxious, a rather foolish apprentice of the Royal College, finds himself in a spot of bother in Cairn Chase Forest. About to be skinned alive by some rather Unmerry Men, and out of spells, he decides to take two gulps of gloomium, from a readily-prepared flask of the substance. This takes him two rounds, during which time the Unmerry Men close on him and fire off bows. In round three, the gloomium kicks off. He takes 2d6 Hit Points damage, rolling a four and a five for nine points of damage, and successfully makes his sanity roll – so keeps hold of his mind. With his innards burning from the liquid, he rememorizes the 2nd Level Spell Web and wastes no time in firing off a sticky web of green stuff at the Unmerry Men. If he had not been so worried, he could have taken his time firing off one Magic Missile this round, and another the round after (two first level spells equalling 2 levels of spells remembered as allowed by two glups). If he survives, he will glow bright luminous green for the next 1d10 days, making sneaking about and hiding very difficult and becoming a magnet for any nearby witch hunter.

Chronicles of Erun now in Development

I’m developing the Chronicles of Erun, a game based off OpenQuest but written from the ground up.

It’s early days yet, I’m hoping to get it out the first half of 2018, but I’ve started giving details out at BasicRoleplaying Central, which now has a dedicated subforum (under OpenQuest).

The aim with the game overall is to have a very quick playing, pick up and play system, where you can play a very focused (and fun) campaign in about 10 sessions, with breaks for real life stuff.

All art will be by British Artist Jonny Gray.

The Chronicles of Erun cover by Jonny Gray

The Chronicles of Erun cover by Jonny Gray

Fever Swamp Kickstarter last 6 hours

As I type it Melsonian Arts Council‘s Fever Swamp adventure, which has funded and then some, is coming into its last six hours.

For Lamentations of the Flame Princess and other D&D clones, this is what Daniel Sell owner of Melsonian Arts Council has to say about it (although it’s worth noting that its now going to be in hardcover since reached that stretch goal).

The result of this fundraising effort will be an A5, saddle stitched, 30-something page book containing a geographically linked series of vignettes that explore the particular palette chosen by the author. Flavours of nihilism, questions of inherent evil, and the abject failure of civilisation. And dampness, so damp.

Check it out (but quick, quick!)

Something mysterious is happening on Furlong Down

I nearly missed this one due to being on holiday,  but John R. Davis is Kickstarting his latest 5ed adventure module, The Mysterious Happenings on Furlong Down, to pay for art by the extremely talented Jonny Gray as well as a bit of editing. It’s already met its modest goal and is now racking up the stretch goals.

John has a proven record of delivering Kickstarters, having done previously done two other 5ed/OSR modules (linked to in the Kickstarter description).  I can personally recommend this.

More info from the Kickstarter page.

The Mysterious Happenings at Furlong Down is an adventure landscape (mini campaign) for use with 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. It pays homage to early 1st edition modules such as Bone Hill, Sinister Secret of the Saltmarsh and Against the Cult of the Reptile God. It also draws specific inspiration from the following 1980s small press publications: Starstone by Paul Vernon & the Adventures in Tortured Souls Magazine.

There are at least 20 quests / plots / mysteries to resolve. There is plenty for the PC’s to do.

This Kickstarter is to raise funds to pay for editing and to add as much art, from the most excellent Jonny Gray,  as possible. Some draft illustrations are shown.

This publication will contain:

  • A rural village to investigate, and save?
  • 20 wilderness encounters to overcome.
  • 10 site based adventure areas (with 11 maps), containing about a 100 dungeon ‘rooms’.
  • A random encounter table for the various terrains.
  • A table of rumour, worry and gossip.
  • A map for Hexploration outlining the ranges of the many foul, and fair, creatures that roam the land.
  • Total 32-36 page count PDF in two column format. Size 11 font. Approximately 20,000 words.
  • Access to an at cost Print On Demand.

Christmas in July UK OSR picks

Here’s my personal list of picks from the UK publishers participating in DriveThruRPG.com’s Christmas in July sale.

Return of the Woodland Warriors by Beyond Belief Games
I loved the first edition of this simplified and tweaked version of Swords & Wizardry that only uses D6s and is suitable for children. The new edition has full-colour art which adds to the magic. Lovely cover by longtime D101 collaborator Peter Frian.

The Cthulhu Hack by Just Crunch Games
Rules light, courtesy of its use of the Black Hack engine, rules for Cthulhu investigative horror. It’s just been upgraded to version 1.5, which refines this already sharp ruleset. Oh and its supplements are also in the sale.

Mythras by Design Mechanism
If you’ve not got this behemoth of D100 goodness by now here’s your chance. As well as the core system, which is a complete thing and good to go running a wide variety of fantasy settings of various genres, all the formidable selection of adventures and setting books are in the sale.

My recommendations: Mythic Rome & Mythic Britain (including Mythic Britain: Logres, the supplement by D101 collaborator Paul Mitchener about the Anglo Saxons), and I’m going to use the sale to catch up with the Monthly Mythras adventures that I’ve woefully fallen behind on.

Crypts of Indormancy by Melsonian Arts Council
A nice self-contained, creepy as fuck adventure for Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Clockwork and Chivalry by Cakebread and Walton
The English Civil War as fought by Alchemical Cavaliers and Clockwork device using Roundheads.  One of my favourite settings of all time, and the D100 Renaissance system (an offspring of OpenQuest) makes me grin even more. Also check out the epic Pirates & Dragons, if you fancy a bit of fantasy Pirates in the vein of Pirates of the Carribean.

The Christmas in July sale is on until the end of the month over at DriveThruRPG.com, and all of D101 Games Books are participating with 25% off all pdfs.

Crypts and Things Conversion pdf for The Midderlands

I’m currently a big fan of Glyn Seal’s The Midderlands, which I previewed in an earlier post., which is currently on Kickstarter.

Ok if it reaches its funding goal of £12 k (and it’s already over halfway there at the time of writing), I will produce a 5-10 page conversion document.  This pdf will allow you to pick up and play the Midderlands (which already uses Swords and Wizardry) with Crypts and Things, that all Midderlands backers will receive. The Midderlands is a vile and dangerous Weird Land that fits in with the whole vibe of Clark Ashton Smith’s Averoigne Stories, whose tales of weird fantasy set in a fictional province of medieval France, which was a significant influence on Crypts and Things nastier side.

The document will contain sections on:

1. Characters. How to take C&T’s core character classes and drop them in the Midderlands. New Lifepath tables to reflect both characters from the Midderlands and the Savage North and Tame South from outside its borders. New Life path tables for classes to take into account the career opportunities in the Midderlands.

2. The Midderlands is a feast of creatures, but I will also give notes on Fiends from Crypts and Things that you can drop straight in with ease.

3.  Rules modifications for C&T, for example, the corrupting effects of Gloomium and the threats to characters’ sanity the land presents.

Just to be clear, I’m not getting paid for this. I’m doing this because it’s an excellent setting/creature/adventure book that’s got me all excited to do a conversion doc that lets me run it when the book comes out.

So if you are a Crypts & Things fan I hope I’ve given you a little bit of an incentive to go check it out and if you like what you see back it.

Into the Midderlands

A quick recommendation/preview here from me.

OSR Map maker supremo and all round nice guy Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood Design is Kickstarting his Midderlands Book.  This is a setting/creature book with a short adventure, which comes bundled with a gorgeous large map of the setting. The Midderlands is a fictional medieval fantasy version of the lands around were Glynn lives in English Midlands region.

Here’s the preview vid in all its green glory.

This book is going to be a 300+ hardcover, comparable in content and form to such OSR classics like Lamentations of the Flame Princess’s Carcosa and Red and Pleasant Land. But that a lazy comparison once you start delving into the content itself.

And what content it is. First, of its all clearly and logically presented, despite the spiky green theme that runs through the book. It would have been very tempting to present this as a ‘messy’ thing, especially with the huge dollops of Monty Python/Black Adder (tending towards the black humour of the later) that pepper the text. No Glynn has resisted that urge and has kept everything tidy and neat. It’s both highly enjoyable read, from what little I’ve have had the pleasure to read of the ‘nearly done’ draft he was so kind to provide me with for this preview. It’s also, and this matters at my gaming/scenario creation table, an easy to use reference book.

I’ll refer you to the Kickstart itself for a breakdown of the book itself. Since Glynn does a much better job than I could myself (with full page spreads), but my highlights from my skim so far are the numerous race as character classes, that cover the various species of goblins and other slimy/spiky things covered in the creatures chapter.  I can easily see myself running a short campaign or convention game based upon an adventuring group of these monsters.

As a Kickstarter project, I can firmly recommend this. It’s logically consistent, the price is right for what you are getting, and the stretch goals are focused on the book itself rather than endless additional supplements, which delay delivery. This book is ready to go, and the funds go straight funding production of a print run.

 

UK OSR Round Up for November 2016

Dragonmeet, the annual games day held in London this year on Saturday Dec 3rd, is nearly upon us. It’s being co-sponsored by Lamentations of the Flame Princess as well as Chaosium and there are many UK OSR publishers attending as well as us:

Among the guests are old school heroes Ian Livingstone & Steve Jackson of Fighting Fantasy/early Games Workshop fame and Joe Dever author/creator of Lone Wolf.

D101 Games is in attendance and I’ll have a big pile of Crypts and Things with me, as well as OpenQuest and River of Heaven among the pile of D101 goodness

The Design Mechanism  continues to surge ahead on the Mythras release front.

First off is the return of Mythic Rome by Pete Nash, originally released as an BRP version which won a Silver Ennies, in a time when the Ennies were dominated by D&D product, updated for Mythras with brand new art as a lovely hardback.  It covers Rome from its foundation to the end of the Republic. If you want to run games inspired by Steven Saylor’s Sub Rosa series or HBO Rome this is the book to get.

mythic-rome

And because Pete and Loz love you and want you to try out Mythras for the next couple of months they are going to putting out standalone adventures compatible with both Mythras and the free Mythras Imperative. The first one is a Sci-Fi (they’ve already taken Mythras in that direction with their Luther Arkwright book and check out M-Space by Frostbyte Books) called A Gift From Shamash ( in pdf via drivethrurpg.com and in print from Lulu ).

gift-from-shamash

Crypts of Indormancy for Lamentations of the Flame Princess and other OSR games funded recently and everything is on track for November release  according the latest backers report.  Keep an eye out for its release, it will be a good ‘un 😉

Grogmeet happened in my home city of Manchester….and I completely missed it. My excuse being a I was already signed heavy weekend of family fun, but hoping that this becomes a regular thing 🙂  Here’s a quick highlights movie they made.

Finally not strictly OSR (because its for 5Th Ed) but Cubicle 7’s Adventures in Middle Earth hit the shops this week, and I bagsied a copy. I must confess I usually by C7’s Tolkien stuff for the gorgeous art, and this book keeps up that tradition using the same smooth colourful layout with lashings of fantastic colour illustrations, but from a quick skim its a seamless version of 5ed blended with Tolkien flavour and the unique rules that made the One Ring so special ported over.  Looking forward to picking up the companion Loremaster’s Guide when it comes out. This one has a special place in many UK Grognards heart’s because Tolkien was very much part of growing up in the UK, for example many people read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings as part of their English education at school, and even though there wasn’t an official D&D adaptation many people played the game with a strong Tolkien flavour. So 30 years on its very heartwarming to finally see an licensed adaptation for D&D and see it get so right.

Adventures in Middle Earth by Cubicle 7, I has it my precious!!!!

Adventures in Middle Earth by Cubicle 7, I has it my precious!!!!

What D101 is up to?
I’m currently busy getting the adventures for the Crypts and Things Kickstarter together. Tombs of the Necromancer is getting some clean up work done, some extra bits by author Paul Mitchener, and Life and Death Zarth Edition is getting new art and layout. Its neck and neck which one will get released first. Blood of the Dragon/The Dark Path (new) and Fort Boneguard (new) are all getting put together along with a new scenario, The Lost City of the God Emperor, into one book called Under Dark Spires. Tournaments of Madness and Death is quietly trundling along.

I've got me nose in a good book :)

I’ve got me nose in a good book 🙂

David M.Wright who did the art for the main rule book is signed up to do the art for the adventures. David recently got his rulebook and was dead chuffed with it 🙂

“C&T encapsulates pretty much everything I love about classic 80’s RPG fantasy (which was all around when I was growing up as a lad), but with all the naff stuff removed!  It’s a 100% pure Sword & Sorcery game.  There are Barbarians, Warriors, Sorcerers and Thieves, all pitted against an ever expanding assortment of monsters, amorphous Hell-Spawed demonic crypt dwelling conglomerations, and the like (none of your wishy-washy elves, gnomes, and sappy fairies here!). There is Blood, there is Fire, there is Magic, Muscle, Mist, and Steel!  : )”

Oh and to keep us going until the adventures land I’m putting a C&T fanzine together called “From the Shroud”, a little A5 affair that currently has a couple of articles by me and a small introductory scenario called “The Secret of Skull Hill”, that I’m hoping will be on sale at Dragonmeet. If you are interested in contributing get in touch via newt@d101games.com. The deadline for submissions is tight however, this coming Sunday 20th November.

I’m also starting the playtest of Beyond Dread Portals (the new name of Paul Mitchener’s Empire of Ys ) this week, which will run into early next year with an aim of getting out in the first half of next year.

In non-fantasy-land I’m putting wrapping up the last bits of writing on the River of Heaven Companion, so that should be out early 2017 🙂

Remember my reporting on this UK OSR Update is only as good as my attention span on G+, so if I’ve missed anything just point it out in the comments below.