River of Heaven Refreshed + To the Stars 20% off until end of July

Finally, the much-delayed River of Heaven Companion, To the Stars is now available from the D101 Games web store.

This 88-page book contains rules for organisations, adventure seeds and quick-start campaign outlines. It also includes two adventures by John Ossoway, The Last Witness and Message From Futhermost (which never been available in print before).

Also, to go with along with the companion is an updated version of the main rule book, River of Heaven Refreshed, which as well as another editorial pass and updated combat chapter, now has the introductory adventure Reunion included in the book. It’s also now printed on heavier paper, so Peter Frain’s most excellent illustrations are better reflected.
I’m expecting the final print books by the end of the month, so until then pre-order either book before then and you will get a 20% discount. Simply enter the code BLASTOFF20 at checkout.

Note if you are a previously bought River of Heaven via the d101 games webstore or drivethrurpg.com (this includes Kickstarter backers) simply redownload the pdf to get River of Heaven Refreshed.

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.

OpenQuest 3 Combat

Work continues on OpenQuest 3. I’m very close to finishing of the core of the game, which will be made available to patrons of my OpenQuest Adventures Patreon along with an updated The Road Less Travelled (the introductory adventure, last seen in OpenQuest 2 Deluxe).

Currently, I’m working my way through the Combat chapter. One of the big changes from OpenQuest 2 is that I’ve reorganised the chapter to include Social and Magical combat as well as physical combat. These two sections aren’t complete rewrites of what’s in OQ2, but as the following introduction to the current draft Combat chapter shows, the overall effect is to treat combat more as a complete whole where verbal and magical attacks are made force the opposition to bend to the character’s will as well as fighting, and that verbal and magical attacks can also form a big part of any physical combat.

“Combat occurs when one side, either the characters or the non-player characters, decide to use force, either physical, social, or magical, to get what they want. This chapter looks at all the offensive and defensive options a character has when things take a less peaceful path.

There are three combat sub-systems in OpenQuest.

Social Combat occurs when words turn sharp in meaning and at least one side of an argument is trying to get the other to do want they want.

Social combat can take three forms:

  • Fast talk, where an attacker tries to quickly sway a defender into accepting their course of action.
  • Oratory, where two sides field advocates for their position and try to get the other side to accept it.
  • Intimidation, where one side tries to threaten the other into submission. This type of social combat given its nature can be used as a sub-conflict in physical combat.

Physical Combat is when swords and axes go smashing through armour in Close Combat, bows shot at distant foes in Ranged Combat, and when it’s fist against claw in Unarmed Combat.

Magical Combat occurs when magicians attack targets with offensive magic, who then try to resist against it, when two magicians throw magical energy at one another and when hostile spirits attack mortals seeking to take control of their bodies.

The combat sub-systems are discussed in the order they are because it’s the order that players tend to go through when trying to get their way with non-player characters.  First, they will use one of the social combat techniques to talk it over with the non-player characters. Then if that doesn’t work weapons will be drawn and they will engage in physical combat. If they have a magician in the party who is actively supporting them with spells, or they realise that they need to use magic themselves to boost their combat abilities, they then engage with the Magic Combat techniques.”

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

OpenQuest 3rd Edition Current Status

Slowly but surely plans are being laid and turned into action to bring OpenQuest back to life. A Kickstarted new edition of the rules, and an ongoing Patreon to support the release of new and revised adventures.

I’m currently working on OpenQuest 3rd Edition, in preparation of a Kickstarter to be launched in Aug/Sept to tie in with its 10 year anniversary. It’s not as a radical revision of the system that I thought it would be at one stage but its enough to call it 3rd Edition.
Highlights so far:

  • Combat now has systems for Social (new) and Magic (revised spirit combat)
  • Combat order now based on highest modified skill.
  • Magic just one system (Sorcerers and Priests just become specialist caster types, but everyone uses one common magic list, spend magic points).
  • New rules for Organisations which replaces the cult rules and extend to guilds and less magical organisation.

I want a system that can support lots of new funky fantasy adventures (and other genres) that’s simple yet mega-fun to play but has a few more modern standards built into it.

As well as the Kickstarter there will be an ongoing Patreon called OpenQuest Adventures, to fund what fans really want ADVENTURES without me having to point out that these are quite risky releases for D100 systems,  When I get enough support for the Patreon I will commission other authors to write adventures. I’m putting the pieces in place of this to launch at the beginning of May, and the first release will come bundled with a playtest version of OpenQuest 3rd Ed.

The last thing on my current roadmap is playtesting, which opens up next week. I’ve already done a fair bit of playtesting, the social combat rules got a good run out a couple of months ago at one shot game at Go Play Manchester for example, but this will be the first time I’ve put everything together and see how it flows. A call for open playtesting will happen sometime in early June.

So OpenQuest 3rd edition dates for your diary:

  • Now: internal playtest begins, watch out for actual play-reports.
  • Early May: OpenQuest Adventures Patreon opens.
  • Early June, Public playtest.
  • Aug/Sept: OpenQuest 3rd Edition Kickstarter to coincide with the 10th Anniversary of the game’s original release.

The Road to Hell Now Available to Pre-Order

The Road to Hell is a Halloween themed adventure for early editions of D&D/OSR using the Swords and Wizardry ruleset.

The year is 1604 and a group of Elizabethan adventurers travel the road from the medieval city Chester to join the employ of Dr John Dee, the famous former court Astrologer know Warden of Christ’s Church College in Manchester. Little do they now that this journey that starts the night before Halloween is fated to be dangerous and full of the supernatural.

The Road to Hell, cover by Jon Hodgson