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

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!)

Life and Death Zarth Edition is here!

Life and Death Zarth Editon for Crypts and Things and other OSR/Class-Level based games is now on general release!

Get it via

More info, see the three previews

All art in this version is by the extremely talented David M.Wright (who did all the art for Crypts and Things Remastered).

Pot Burial Zombie by David M.Wright

Pit Demon by David. M. Wright

The Chained King by David M. Wright

The Chained King by David M. Wright

New edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay from Cubicle 7

Just announced by Cubicle 7, they shall be releasing a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying later this year. Scant details so far, here’s the very brief announcement:

A new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay will be launched by Cubicle 7 Entertainment later this year. The new edition will return players to Warhammer’s grim world of perilous adventure, and takes its direction from the first and second editions of the game.

Cubicle 7 CEO Dominic McDowall said, “Like so many gamers I grew up on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. It’s an iconic setting and I’m thrilled to be working on this new edition of the game. Our team have a huge breadth of experience with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and I’m excited to be able to bring the Cubicle 7 approach to the Old World. We’ll be revealing more of our plans in the coming months, so subscribe to our newsletter and keep an eye on our website!

I’m chuffed to bits with this. I know that the game is in safe hands, because they have a strong track record of putting out great games with high production values and doing right by very popular licenses (Lord of the Rings, Dr Who etc).

You don’t get more British Old School than Warhammer Fantasy Rolplay.

Life and Death – Zombies!

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.