Coming soon Tales of the Sorcerer Under the Mountain

Its been nearly ten years since I actively joined the OSR, running games at cons and publishing adventures and rulebooks. Five or so years ago I got hold of the Swords & Wizardry complete ruleset in word doc and edited it down to fit an A5 softcover which I got printed via Lulu and took on holiday with me. The idea being to create a nice little portable version of OD&D, which I could take with me on my travels to read and perhaps run for people. I called it Tales from the Sorcerer Under the Mountain. While it had a condensed version of S&W its 100+ pages, it didn’t have an adventure, and I quietly put it to one side for a while.

Then about three years ago I wanted to run D&D 5th at a local games convention called Furnace, and wrote a dungeon that played heavily on the legacy of early Fighting Fantasy and White Dwarf adventures, called The Sorcerer Under the Mountain (sort of the adventure of this blog). While I eventually ran it using Black Hack 1st Ed, and it was a great success, it too was put to one side about 90% complete.

Fast forward to this year, Tales was kinda permanently shelved as publishing project and the adventure was going nowhere fast. It got a run at the inaugural Go Play Manchester, using 5th Edition which kinda got the brain cells working that it could be an initial  5th ed publishing adventure.

Then a couple of weeks my brain finally put it together. Putting the adventure in the back of the OSR rulebook (which now has a section entitled What is the OSR, and a selection of my house rules), could make a nice little all in one book that sums up my take on the OSR. And if you have no interest in the OSR, the adventure on its own is a nice 1st Level introductory dungeon adventure influenced by British Fantasy Role Playing games from the 80s.

So gentle people and wild things of all ages, I present not one but two books:

Tales from the Sorcerer Under the Mountain, a 6 x 9 OSR rulebook + adventure weighing in about 230 pages, black and white art throughout, cover by Jon Hodgson.

And The Sorcerer Under the Mountain, 5th Edition Adventure module in 8″ by 11″ format,  black and white art throughout.

Here’s the blurb for the adventure:

In ancient times the Sorcerer Khalack Maeki established a lair under Terror Peak Mountain. Being of an evil bent, he enslaved the local Goblinoid tribes and waged war against the Elves of surrounding Scarwood. It said that he was amassing a vast army when an alliance of nearby High Elf Warlords attacked his mountain stronghold. Khalack was killed in the final assault by powerful magic unleashed by the High Elves, although the legend macabrely states that his body was never found. The Ring of the Elements, a powerful magical item which was said to be the source of his power, also went missing much to the annoyance of the High Elven Archmages.

Khalack’s dungeon lair under the mountain lay deserted for hundreds of years. Keeping its secrets and treasures, since the Elves who now controlled the woods around Terror Peak shunned its lightless corridors. Powerful magical wards left by their warlords sealed the dungeon.

Your group of adventurers have assembled in the town of Goldrush, a town of human opportunists, traders and ner-do-wells which lies on the edge of Scarwood. In a local tavern, you met a charming young Half-Elf called Melanda, who claims to know where there is a secret entrance, long hidden from prying eyes by her kin, to the Sorcerer’s Lair. She owes no allegiance to the guardians of Scarwood and is willing to show you for a cut of the treasure. True to her word she has led you through Scarwood safely and you now stand amongst the trees in the shadow of Terror Peak.

An adventure for up to five players with characters of 1st Level, with obvious influences from 80s British Fantasy gamebooks.

This will be coming to Kickstarter soon (as early as next week) and will be available as soon as the campaign ends successfully. ie. the book is done (bar a nice map of the adventure dungeon by Glynn Seal and a bit of last minute editing all of which will get done during the month-long campaign if not before). There will be stretch goals, but nothing that holds up delivery of the main book, and there will be an opportunity to grab the rest of the D101 Games back catalogue at crazy low prices, including some out of print titles. Let’s just say I’m combining the idea of a Summer Sale with the Kickstarter 😉

If you want to know when this the Kickstarter opens, and also Beyond Dread Portals (which is next in the pipe after this one) join the D101 Games Newsletter.

Happy 10th Birthday AKRATIC WIZARDRY!!

Blain Neufeld’s AKRATIC WIZARDRY blog was one of a handful of blogs that I followed in the early days of me reading about the OSR via its blogsphere. Unfortunately, the others have disappeared due to their owners discounting them or in one case dying 🙁 He’s always had nice things to say about OpenQuest, and without his Swords and Wizardry S&S house rules, there would have been no Crypts and Things.

So happy 10th. Here’s to another decade! 🙂

OpenQuest Adventures Patreon Now Live

One of the biggest things that came out of the recent quick consultation here with people about what they wanted to see from me with respect to OpenQuest 3rd Edition, was new adventures. In fact, somebody said, get OQ 3 out of the way as quickly as possible and get on with releasing new adventures. It crops up every time I ask what do you want me to do next with OQ – MORE ADVENTURES!

So to give me a kick up the arse and some funds to lessen the risk of me spending time creating and publishing adventures for OpenQuest, I’ve started a Patreon to support this:

Obviously, the initial focus will be adventures that come out and support the OpenQuest 3rd edition, and when I release them they will come bundled with the latest playtest version of OpenQuest 3, but the patreon will go on beyond the release of OpenQuest 3 (which will get its own Kickstarter later in the year). Also if I get enough support I will commission other authors to write adventures. I’ve already got Paul Mitchener (Crucible of Dragons, Age of Arthur, Liminal) lined up to do an updated version of “Non Semper Erit Aestas”, his adventure set in the Roman Empire just after the death of Nero as well as some adventures set in his Clockwork Palace setting

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

Beyond Dread Portals part 2 – Beyond d20 System

Beyond Dread Portals cover by Jon Hodgson

Yesterday I looked at the Empire of Ys which is the setting for Beyond Dread Portals.

Today I jump right in and look at the system that powers the game.

Beyond D20, The System
A D20 fantasy system, significantly more straightforward than D20 D&D.

The basic rule: Roll d20 add modifiers over a target number.

Modifiers can come from

  • Ability modifiers
  • Backgrounds
  • Skill Rank (for Skill Tests)
  • Attack bonus (for combat)

So for example

Organo the Sly, a 5th Level Expert, doing a flying tumble over a large number of Mage-Guards of the Arcane Guild, rolls d20 with +5 for her Skill Rank, +8 for her background of being a member of a travelling circus and +3 for her Dexterity Modifier, for a whopping + 16 in total.

If Hargvard the Brute, a 5th level Warrior, is trying to do the same thing he doesn’t have any backgrounds that help acrobatics, so he would only get a + 1 from his Dex modifier. As a result, his player is far more likely to barge through the group of warriors, which allows Hargvard to bring in his background as a street thug and skills as a warrior into play for a much higher modifier. 

The target number is assigned by the Referee and starts at 10, +5 for each complication involved in the test.  Rolls can be opposed, so the target number can be a d20 roll generated by the opposition. So, in the above example, the Referee could roll a skill test for the Guards collectively and use the result as the target number.

Finally, if you can bring into play one of your character’s drives, which are written on the character sheet as short descriptions of what motivates the character, you get to roll twice picking the more favourable roll. However, if you fail, despite rolling twice, you land your character at great risk.

So in the above example, Organo’s player invokes her drive of “To live life to the full” and the Referee warns them that if Organo fails she will end up tumbling gracefully right into the middle of the crowd of Mage-Guards ready to pound her with their poleaxes.

Your character also has special class-based abilities. Such as fighting styles for warriors, spell casting and magic for magicians, various tricks of the trade for Experts. Some of these are expected D&D abilities, and some are from the setting.

Spell casting uses a familiar spell list, but casters have Magic Points, so it’s not the usual fire and forget system. All the spells from regular D&D that break a magic point system, such as Sleep and Charm Person, have either been removed or rewritten to fit in.

Dark, Deadly and Delicious part 3: Rewards

Part 3 of 5 excerpts from the C&T how to run convention games, deals with how to reward the players, both for good play and by encouraging them to have fun.

Reward Exploration and Interaction

Bearing in mind what I’ve just said above, encourage and reward players who explore and interact with their characters surroundings and the non-player-characters that they encounter. Reveal interesting secrets.  Most published Crypts and Things adventures have a special section called “Secrets” in adventure locations, which detail the special treats that can be found by inquisitive players. Dull and uninspired play should not serve up any additional information beyond the basics that are obvious to anyone entering the location.

Remember to let the players have fun

No overshadowing their characters with non-player characters. Let them use their abilities and have their moments (even if it seems trivial to you). Make this a priority and big them up. Unlike a home game where the players learn through trial and error what their characters can do, there isn’t time to do that. It needs to be more immediate.

Next part 4: Be the Monster Manager.

From the upcoming Crypts and Things supplement: Tournaments of Madness and Death.

Tournaments of Madness and Death cover by David M.Wright

 

D101 Games Winter Sale

By Krum, I’m having a 50% off Winter Sale over at D101 Games!

That means the following have had their cover price hacked and slashed:

Crypts and Things, OpenQuest, The Hollow West, Hunters of Alexandria, Gloranthan Adventures, Hearts in Glorantha, River of Heaven, Project Darklight and their associated adventures/supplements.

Seeing as I want to clear out some space for new stock, the large number of River of Heaven softcovers I have have been reduced to £5 ($7) each. Also its the end of the line for Project Darklight, so it’s your last chance to pick up one of the last five remaining copies of the game for £5.

Free Postage to UK addresses for orders over £10.

Sale ends Jan 31st.

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