OpenQuest! RAR! RAR! OpenQuest!

Well I’m busy fighting off the winter blues. The tail end of my illness just before xmas ( I had a serious skin infection which had me laid off for a couple of weeks ) is still lingering, plus we have wonderful days like yesterday where the sun briefly shone through thick mist!  So safe to say my mood is on the side of murderous on most days, which is means the game is afoot to bring cheer to my strained psyche on a daily basis.  Between my own positive thinking and the innate cheer of my family I’m more than winning 🙂

One source of cheer to me is that my muse for OpenQuest has returned. I think I scared it away with big unrealistic plans post release of the book, and the seemingly never ending typo hunt end of 2009 that lasted until July’s Final edition last year. At the beginning of this year I was of the opinion that I was going to let it quietly die off and move onto other projects and let other people carry the torch.  I said as much to a publisher friend and my muse must have heard me. The other day it came back with a vengence and I’ve been quite happily writing an adventure (which is what I like doing best alongside light supporting backgrounds) for OpenQuest with numerous ideas for more! Safe to say you’ll see more Adventure packs, either as quick straight to PDF mini-releases or shorter Print books, from me.

So that’s me getting over myself.

Meanwhile author Nathan Baron is putting on the finishing touches of Empires Rising.

Co-Authors Simon Bray and Paul Mitchener have just submitted the text for their sandbox adventure setting “Here Be Dragons”. If you have found memories of Griffin Mountain, this will press your buttons 🙂

Here’s the map of the setting by Simon.

Map of Pherae Island by Simon Bray

Hardboiled D&D

What if the troupes of D&D where slightly different…….slightly more Grim Noir..

“I knew the dame was trouble when she walked in. I’ve seen her type before, an Elven Temptress, and this one was a right looker alright. Said she had a job for me and my party. Her ‘husband’ had got into trouble with Ginni Death face, a local loan shark, and needed rescuing from the Black Dragon Inn on the waterfront. Within minutes I was on the case and calling up my gang.  Micky No-Nose the Barbarian for muscle, Jarella the Charmer for that special feminine touch, and Hari Hairfoot for his light fingers. And then there’s me Jak Hardhammer, dwarfen hardboiled Detective.

Little did I know that I was heading out for another wild adventure in the “City of a Thousand Lights”, featuring Necromancers, Ninjas from Chi-Town and blasphemous cultists of the Forbidden God!”

A supplement for Old School first edition games, taking the adventure into the heart of the City that never sleeps.

Oh and don’t expect to see this anytime soon, its an idea I’m toying with after reading too much of old White Dwarf with its wacky Character Classes, such as the Detective  the Houri and of course the more “Conan in his Thief years” Barbarian. All of which, with the possible exception of the Barbarian would be crap in the usual D&D setting, but perfect for urban adventuring with a more investigative bent.

….perhaps after I get Albion Adventures up and going.

This is my Swords & Sorcery RPG!

I’ve spent alot of time recently reading the old school renaissance blogsphere and seeing the explosion of Sword and Sorcery/Weird stories/Barbarians vs Evil Sorcerers/Lovecraft meets D&D/”What ever the heck you want to call it” that is currently going on. Its all fun stuff, but I still find the Sword & Sorcery genre confusing at times, because when I was a lad it was either Tolkien (and inspired rip offs) or later on Micheal Moorcock and his Eternal Champion books (Elric/Corum/Hawkmoon/Oswald Bastable etc).  Like wise our D&D games were more Tolkien inspired with a large dollop of pseudo-medievalism, rather than Conan and company.   That was until Games Workshop put out their printing of Chaosium’s Stormbringer RPG.

Stormbringer 3rd Edition (Games Workshop Printing) cover

If I remember correctly I encountered the novel of the same name first. It was my late teens, angst was firmly taking hold and I was tiring of Books/Films/Comics where the good guys were the focus of the story, I wanted a book/film where the hero was a villain or at least various shades of grey. In film I quickly encountered the “Man with No Name” Leone/Eastwood Spaghetti Westerns. In book form this desire took shape and was fully fulfilled in Stormbringer. The main character, Elric, was a bad guy, the last Emperor of an Evil Empire of weird sociopathic sub-humans. Everybody else he meet was either equally villainous, or Good and  dead in short time. There was buckets of blood and sex, and by the end of the book everyone was dead and the world was destroyed. I loved it (and still do secretly).

The Games Workshop edition of Stormbringer, often called 3rd Edition, was a fab book. It is a fantastic example of a one-book rpg, where truly all you need is within its pages. It had copious and relevant art, and as well as the core-rules it contained the Companion which brought the adventure count up to 7 (including a solo adventure!). It was powered by the Basic Roleplaying System, a variant more deadly and straight forward than RuneQuest. Major highlights for me was a character generation system were your nation (most Stormbringer characters were Humans or sub-human species) mattered and gave you firm identity both in narrative and rules terms, the sharp and deadly combat system (which was a firm influence on the world of pain that is OpenQuest’s Combat system) and the magic system – which was available only to the a select number of depraved sorcerers and was a highly flexible system of summoning demons.

The Demon Magic system allows Sorcerers to summon and bind into their service Demons of Protection (armour), Weapons,  Assassin/Bodyguards, Knowledge and Transport (either teleportation or more traditional beast of burden). Combined with the elemental pacts system its vastly over powered and breathlessly deadly. To my 16 year self whose highest D&D level was 5th it was a real eye opener.

Kinda in keeping with the novel’s premise (which Moorcock deliberately made the mirror image of Conan), but also because the munchkin players will want to be either a Sorcerer or a Warrior (who is being provided with armour/weapons by the sorcerer), the players  are definitely not the “Good Guys”. At best they are “Man with No Name” style anti-heroes at worst they are one step away from the deepest parts of Hell. Which is probably why I’ve not played it as much as I should have done over the years; it requires a great sense of maturity from its co-players. Without it descends into a parody of itself, where rules lawyers exploit the ambiguities of the rules and some decidedly unpleasant sides of your fellow gamer comes out in the roleplaying

Its a game that you would have to prise out of my cold dead hands, except it notoriously falls apart , the pages being the prime offender here. I’m currently borrowing my mate John Ossoway’s copy, mine long disintegrated into nothing 😉