I’m looking forward to this: Sword and Sanity RPG

Alot of the OSR D&D blogs talk about Lovecraftian influcences on D&D and getting them into their games.

Shane Magnus of Swords against the Outer Dark, is putting his money where his mouth is and producing a game heavy on the Lovecraft based off the Labyrinth Lord rules.

Still in development but reveals certain aspects of it in this post on his blog.

Sword and Sanity RPG FAQ

Hobbits! bah! how we hates them my precious.

One thing I’ve been doing this week on and off in spare moments is writing up my quick pen pictures of the non-human player races for Erun. Halflings used to take a bashing in the letters page of White Dwarf every month, and were widely considered the comedy D&D race. In the gritty Kingdom of Erun, they don’t get an easy time of it.

Woe to the little people, for when the Demon War engulfed Erun in flames it was their homely hamlets that burnt first. Those not killed in the holocaust found themselves refugees in human cities and towns that were already flooded with humans fleeing the burning countryside. No place for the little people, with their strange customs of pipe smoking, silly dancing and gluttonous appetites. Whole clans went wild, hiding out in the wilderness away from warlords and monsters alike. But it is whispered amongst the campfires of the refuges that bold heroes will arise, to take them back to their comfort of Home!

The other races get a similiar make over. High Elves are better known as ‘War Elves’ since they actively attack the ‘enemies’ of their forests. Mountain Dwarfs are failed Imperialists dreaming of their old mountain empire. Half-orcs rather than being the product of Orc/Human interbreeding are the manufactured slave race of the Demon Underlords, freed once their masters where cast back into Hell, left to fend for themselves in the world and to find a sense of identity.

Here’s the pen picture for Gnomes which is a tribute to every player that I have met, who usually play them as an Illusionist/Thief of Chaotic Neutral alignment.

“Its all an illusion” a Gnome will tell you with a sly grin.
Crafty, tricky and mistrusted by other races, even their ‘cousins’ the dwarfs, they are regularly chased out of town. Or they have become so indispensable to the town, usually in a monetary sense because Gnomes are renowned money lenders, they couldn’t be shifted even if the local community tried.
Gnomes live in small clans often hidden away from the world and protected by strong magics , usually of an illusionary nature.
They claim that the ruins of the Ancient Empire were of their making. When it is pointed out the ruins are much bigger than they are, they only reply,
“We were taller then”.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Erun

From the setting document I’m working on for Albion Adventures.

Oh woe is the folly of mortal man!

The last king of Erun, Opus the Pious, was deceived by the purple robed priests of the Hidden Gods. They claimed their religion was for the good of all and that their Gods where only hidden since they needed to hide themselves from the attention of the jealous and impotent Old Gods. So it seemed for all and hundreds flocked to their temples to unknown gods, and thrived under their worship. The poor raised their lives up from the gutter, there was food for all! The Hidden Gods blessed all with good fortune.

So the King called a national day of celebration, upon which the purple priests said their Gods identity would finally be revealed. Thousands descended on the capital and in front of the Great Temple of Mysteries shouted out their adoration. Shouts of joy that turned to screams of anguish as the now red robed priests revealed their Hidden Gods before the assembled crowd. For there in terrible splendour stood the the Underlords of the Demon Dark. Great was the carnage that ensued that day as the assembled crowd became a mass sacrifice to the forces of Evil. The sky wept and great gates opened to hell its self in the dark deep places of Erun, forgotten underground ruins of the Ancients who predated the Kingdoms of Man and had mysteriously disappeared before their rise.

The hordes of Hell streamed out of the dungeons and the surviving armies of man fought alongside the battalions of Dwarfs and the living forests of Elven kind. The war was grim and terrible, with almost catastrophic losses on both sides. Finally the Overlords where driven back to the Deepest Dungeons and sealed in by the Grey Elf wizards.

In the aftermath of the Hell War, the Kingdom of Erun was in ruin, reduced to a handful of petty dukedoms, the countryside filled with bandits and monsters. Many of the old halls of the Dwarfs lie empty or have been taken over by foul orcs and goblins. The once great elf wood is a shadow of itself and the last few Elves either focus on its regeneration in hidden glades of power or bloody vengeance against those they perceive have done them wrong.

In these anarchic times a new class has arisen in Erun society. That of the Adventurer, more than willing to take up sword and spell and discover treasure and horror in the dark places of the world.

Introducing Albion Adventures

Ok after a triumphant game at Furnace, I’ve sat down and planned out what I’m going to be doing with Albion Adventures in the long term.

In short Albion Adventures is going to be D101 games line of adventures in the old skool British tradition using Labyrinth Lord as its base.

System compatiblity
I’m going to be using Labyrinth Lord with the Advanced Companion. It not only suits the way I play AD&D (which is Basic with the extra options from AD&D)  but also LL is strongly branded and recognised amoungst the OSR and beyond. If people wander up to me and ask how they get the core system, I can point them in the direction of it. I got my print copy via Patriot Games which indicates its available via conventional distribution. Of course I’ll be making  it clear that you can use certain ‘1st Edition systems with it’  and Osric/Swords and Wizardry compatiblity.

Adventure Modules
I’ve roughly got the got the following planned.

AA-UK1. The Furnace – write up of the Tournament game I’ve just run.
AA-UK2. Bone Valley – my tribute to Keep on the Borderlands, through a gritty UK lens. A valley filled with old tombs and caves, and at its head Fort Boneguard, a seedy town from ancient times that has seen better days and is an adventurers hang out. A sandpit for levels 1-3?
AA-UK3. Sorceror Under Mountain.– go to a mountain to get a long dead sorceror’s treasure. What could possibly go wrong?

Setting: The Kingdom of Erun.
My initial aim is to produce an internal doc that acts as a common setting for the modules, but when its bashed into shape I’ll release it. I want to keep this short and sweet hence the focus on a single kingdom.
Inspiration is the old  Pelinore setting, which was detailed in Imagine TSR UKs 80s magazine and the shortlived Games Master Magazine,  with a dash of Titan, the world of Fighting Fantasy, (which I picked up in glorious A4 format along with Out of the Pit at Furnace 🙂 ).

So eta on all of the above? Not a clue I’ve got a few things already in the D101 production que before it, but I’m quietly chipping away at the writting at the moment. I reckon Spring 2011 is not unreasonable 🙂

The OpenQuester issue 1

The OpenQuester is an irregular D101 publication, supporting OpenQuest and its derived games (such as The Company and River of Heaven).

Issue 1 should be out by the end of this year in both print and pdf format. Price To be Confirmed.

Lined up for this issue.

“Balstan’s Gatehouse” by Newt Newport, an old skool adventure which pays homage to a certain
Alternative Character Generation methods. by Newt Newport, new   rules for players and GMs who want random character generation in their games.
“Threat assessment” by   Rik Kershaw Moore, an article from the incoming The Company game.
“Is OQ Oldschool?” by Newt Newtport an article summing up the points for and against.
“Step daughter” John Ossoway an article from the upcoming River of Heaven game.
“The Hangman’s Daughter” by Nathan Baron, an   adventure set in the Empires Rising setting.

The Furnace – how it went

Ok the short version of this was that it Rocked mightily 🙂

It was a Saturday night game and fully booked with with six players.  I’d been running all day and had been on the beers the night before, so at game start I had hit the wall. Frankly I was almost “rabbits in headlights” scared, and the players were already there keen and looking up at me as I arrived.  But I pulled my boots up, made my introductions and got into it.

Characters where handed out, and we ended up with a nice mix of Fighters, Elves, Dwarfs and Clerics from the pile of ten characters which had all the permutations of 5th Level Basic/Expert. Obviously no one was in the mood to play a Halfling or Thief 😉

I did my grand introduction about the Mad Tzar, a fiend of immeasurable evil shaking free of his prison in the Iron Moon suspended over the City of Eternal Shadow. Then the players got into it role-playing and exploring the city, before getting into a fight with 20 Zombies. Now in any other system, the players would have either a) run away and let the NPCs deal with it (there was a group of local Clerics who were on hand to deal with such threats) or b) complained bitterly about how the game was going to descend into a big grinding fight. Not so here, the players got into with gusto and relish and an epic zombie fight was embarked on! It was a good wetting of the feet as regards the system, as I think every one was a bit rusty. Even the D&D regulars used it as an excuse to test out which version of D&D we where playing (Labyrinth Lord). Of course they were triumphant, but one of the Clerics ,played by Andy, took a huge pounding, so there was a nice edge of danger there.  Throughout the fight the banter and roleplaying continued in a relaxed manner which was good as well. In fact it must be said although admitly D&D is more combat heavy than alot of games I play, at no point did the players treat it as a figurine-less war game, which mightly heartened and impressed me.

Play then flowed from this fight as they made their way up to the Iron Moon via a masusleum dedicated to the 10,000 who died in the Mad Tzar’s previous reign of terror.  I won’t say any more about it here, because I’m planning to write up and publish the adventure and because I didn’t intend this post to be an ‘actual play’ post. More me mulling over how it went.

Couple of other points arising from the game.

  • Use of 5th Level characters, as suggested by Sacha, was bang on. Magic-Users and Clerics had enough spells and other classes where generally effective enough so that they had lots of things to do. Therefore no one sat arround bored.
  • The online character generator I used was a great time saver, I really created this at the last minute, but some of the characters created were a bit odd. Clerics with no heal spells and Magic Users with no effective spells in their spell books. I should have reviewed and chucked out these duds before the game. DOH!
  • Tournament adventures with a fairly set goal of “go here and save the world” can be very linear as the players spend less time exploring. In its current form they players only visited about 50% of the locations. Either I mix it up a bit and make the dungeon levels a bit more ‘twisty’ and less easy to navigate by taking a direct route, or I live with that. For a four hour con scenario it was bang on, who’s to say that a home group would explore more of the finer points. One to mull over and work out in play testing.
  • Fireball spells really are the dogs bollocks 🙂

Overall we had a grand time and I was really surprised how straight forward the fun was. Looks like I’ll be doing regular D&D con scenarios from now on in.

We played D&D :)

A quick post, post-Furnace convention (Sheffield UK last weekend just gone). My fuzzled brain is still recovering from the sheer awesome that this con was, but for now some pics from my FULLY BOOKED Saturday night of D&D (powered by Labyrinth Lord) – The Furnace.  More detailed analysis to follow, but it fully rocked 😀

From behind the DM's Screen

Labyrinth Lord powering the fun

Labyrinth Lord powering the fun

The Furnace – Progress report

As the con (Furnace, Sheffield UK) approaches this weekend, I’m taking a slow but steady approach to writing the Furnace.

Systems wise I’ve settled on Labyrinth Lord. Even though I’ve got printed versions of Swords and Wizardry and Osric, LL best sums up the way that I used to play back in the day from the old Red Box Basic/Blue Box Expert sets, with bits of AD&D thrown in when I finally joined the big boys club and got a set of books second hand.  Another big deal breaker was that there’s a truly marvelous online character generator which allows you to roll up fully formed characters of any level (I’ve chosen 5th) and save them as pdf’s using the official character sheet 🙂 I should really get round to doing a similar webpage for  OpenQuest. So in the space of 10 minutes or so a pile of ten characters where generated 😀

As far as the adventure goes I’ve made it a series of Micro-Dungeons, starting with the City that the adventurers meet up in, no more than 10 locations each. This is allowing me to get the grand “save the world” scenario that I have in my head done in the time constraints (this is very last minute) and that will play in 3-4 hours. I’m getting there, I’m currently a third of the way through, but this is against a backdrop of me sorting out other things for Furnace (which ends tonight). That third is fully stated up and written up. Theres’ a good chance that this will be our first release for Albion Adventures 🙂

The Age of Shadow

I feel like a proud Uncle, the first independently powered by OpenQuest game is out 🙂

Ladies and Gentlemen may I introduce you to The Age of Shadow, from Crooked Staff Productions


From the Game’s webpage
The Age of Shadow is a free role-playing game based upon the OpenQuest system (by Newt Newport of d101 games). As such the game uses a simple d100 rules mechanic to resolve tasks (i.e. roll 1d100 and compare it to the skill being used), and is set in a fantasy world of elves, men, and terrible foes.

Inspired by Tolkien’s Silmarillion, it has some cracking graphics and maps.
I recommend you check it out.

Influences for the British Old School Renassiance

When I envisioned this blog, I saw a big long post about what makes the formative Brit gaming experience different to the US one.

However fellow Brit Blogger The Fighting Fantasist summed it up back in April, much more eloquently than I ever could.


Some interesting stuff in there, like the reason why on we got art by such luminaries as Russ Nicholson and John Blanche (who I never knew did the cover for  UK version of the original D&D game see below, which also had different internal art) instead of the rather cartoony art that our US peers associate so strongly with the early days of D&D and lots of differing cultural influences (which sent me down a trip down memory lane 😉 ).

John Blanche’s cover of the Games Workshop version of Original D&D, First UK print (Dec 1977).