British Fantasy TV influences

As well as the standard gaming influences (Fighting Fantasy, White Dwarf etc.), there are various British TV series that have shaped my gaming habits over the years.

Mr Benn is a kids animation from the 70s where a mild-mannered banker called Mr Ben visits a magical costume shop and is given a costume by the Shop Keeper, who sends him through into the changing room from where he has an adventure. If that isn’t the very definition of Roleplaying, I don’t know what is 🙂

Chorlton and the Wheelies. Not going even to try to explain it. Here’s the music intro/outro, which does a bloody good job. Vibrant, imaginative and somewhat unsettling.

Finally, on the animation side of things is Trapdoor, a claymation epic of a master and overworked servant from the late 80s.

In modern times, we have Yonderland. It’s sort of a kid’s TV program, but in the good old tradition of British TV, it has lots of knowing references and depth for adults. By the same team who brought us Horrible Histories.

This is Jinsy, one of Sky’s first commissioned comedies, although the pilot was shown on BBC. Made by a duo, playing multiple parts, and based on a weird and wonderful fantasy version of Jersey. Each episode is a whos who of British Comedy actors in supporting roles.

Alas, they only did two series, which only seem to be available on DVD these days. But the creative duo behind it have continued making music, which was an integral part of the show, as the Jinsy Boys.

From back in the old days (the late 80s) comes ITV’s Knightmare. Basically D&D on TV if you wore a bucket on your head and relied on your mates to guide you.

And if I’m going to mention Knightmare, it would be amiss not to flag up the Adventure Game, and of course, the Crystal Maze.

Finally, good old Monty Python was an influence on many a British gaming table in the 80s, courtesy of the films and a well-timed repeat on BBC 2.  I know some groups who had a swear jar to avoid references to the show swamping actual gameplay. This scene, for some reason, comes to mind whenever I player RuneQuest 😀


The British Old School Review

#BOSR, you might have seen the hashtag on Twitter and wondered what the heck is it?

Must it be based on British Old School Roleplaying Games from the 70s and 80s?

I am beginning a personal research project where I revisit the games of my teenage years and a few that got away. I want to find out why I keep coming back to these games. Is it nostalgia, superior design, or simply because of cultural influences, these games have instant appeal and resonance with me?

I intend to revisit the following over the coming months.

Fighting Fantasy the Roleplaying Game, spawned off FF gamebooks.

UK TSR D&D Modules (All that Glitters, the Gauntlet, The Sentinel, etc.). There used to be a branch of TSR in the UK that put out a fine series of D&D Modules

Fiend Folio. This monster manual for AD&D 1st edition features a large selection of monsters by UK authors originally featured in White Dwarf’s Fiend Factory department.

White Dwarf magazine (up to issue 100) Games Workshop’s house organ and its fearsome legacy.

Imagine magazine. The house magazine for TSR UK had surprising gems amongst the adverts for games you’d already got.

Dragon Warriors. This RPG is a weird little game in a small paperback format built up through six books. I gazed for many hours in WH Smith, wondering whether I should take a chance on it or buy the latest Fighting Fantasy gamebook instead. By the time I decided I would, it had disappeared from the shelves. The one that got away now in my grubby mitts via eBay.

Maelstrom. Historical Fantasy roleplaying in the Tudor Age, again in gamebook format. Currently published by Arion Games.

Judge Dredd the RPG. Did you 2000AD’s famous lawman got his own RPG in the 80s courtesy of the same folks who brought you Warhammer? Despite being flawed rules-wise, it was a game that was a big draw at my table, due to a shared love of the comics.

What is Dungeons and Dragons? An 80s D&D and Dummies, with a much grimmer trade dress.

The Games Workshop editions of RuneQuest, Traveller and Call of Cthulhu. Along with D&D, these were the big four RPGs if you were growing up in the 80s. Game’s Workshop’s version of Stormbringer gets an honourable mention, and I’ve already covered my love for it previously.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition. In both size and appeal, it is a behemoth of a game that, for me, was the high point and the end of the British Old School.

Dragon Warriors Books 1 to 4

The original Dragon Warriors Books 1 to 4 from the 80s via the time machine that is eBay

The Dee Sanction Adventures

Creator Paul Baldowski has brought bringing five short adventures for his game of occult investigation in the Age of Elizabeth I, The Dee Sanction, to Kickstarter.

It’s funded successfully, and there’s also the chance to pick up the main rulebook and the special limited edition hardcover as well as other high-quality add-ons for the game. I’ve got my eye on one of the A2 cloth maps of Tudor London 😀


Until the Fearless Come

Dark November continues over at, with a post about my recent game set in the Savage North, entitled Until the Fearless Come.

This is part of a trilogy of adventures collectively called The Rites of Passage, that have played out at various online events over this year, and will be published next year in The Saga of the Savage North an adventure/setting book for OpenQuest 3rd Edition.

Till the Fearless Come by Jonny Gray

Untll the Fearless Come by Jonny Gray

This post is part of D101’s Dark November promotion. Follow @d101games on Twitter, where I’ll be holding prize draws and announcing flash sales.


Dark November is Here!

So I missed out on doing anything for Halloween because I was preoccupied with the end of my Gloranthan Fanzines, and before that, in Sept/Oct I was in full pimp mode for the OpenQuest Kickstarter which kind of blew up in my face.

So It occurred to me that my Dark Fantasy OSR/D&D stuff is not getting the love it deserves. So I’ve decided to run a month of promotions/competitions/new-releases for the Crypts and Things, the soon to be released Swords Against the Shroud as well as other OSR bits I do is in order.  This is what I call…

Oh, and It has a logo, that uses the most British Old School of fonts (Moria Citadel) 🙂

First Dark November competition is to get more minions…oops sorry followers over on D101 Twitter Account. When we reach 500 followers, I will do a prize draw for one of D101’s OSR/D&D titles in print.


Fantastic Online Games with D101 Games

I was going to set up online gaming to playtest various upcoming games from D101 Games, but the Corona Virus and the fact that many gamers are confined to their homes has accelerated this process.

I’m going to run two games weekly, for at least five sessions. Each session will last a comfortable two hours and run during the day 12-14 GMT (I’m in the UK, and for reasons of childcare/spouse care these times are inflexible).

Sky Raiders of the Sky Realms. (Tuesday 12-14 GMT) The zero edition of this D100 based fantasy adventure game of sky island-hopping recently funded. It uses the latest iteration of our D100 rule system, inspired by OpenQuest, but written from the ground up – which I’m casually calling the D101-System.

Lost Lands of Grungamesh using Swords against the Shroud (Thursday 12-14 GMT), which is a Black Hack version of the Crypts and Things. Lost Lands is a Swords and Sorcery game, with the tone set towards the more horrific end of things.

How to Join
I’m looking for four players in each game which.  I’ll be running over Google Hangouts because both are reasonably rules-light systems. I may upgrade to Roll 20 or another virtual tabletop if either game needs it.

In the comments below, let me know which of the games you’d like to play, and make sure you fill in your email address so I can get back to you.

Grogzilla now live on ZineQuest 2 on Kickstarter

Now on ZineQuest 2: Grogzilla, briefly seen at Grogmeet 2019 now getting a proper printing. It’s full of fire-breathing three-headed skyscraper-sized giant lizards  (stats for D100, OSR, and Monkey!), articles for Mythras, and a mini-adventure sequel to the Road to Hell (for Swords and Wizardry) amongst other things. And It will grow in page count as we hit stretch goals.  

Also, our other zines for Glorantha and Crypts and Things/OSR games are available in print/pdf as add-ons at a significant discount. 

Tales of the Sorcerer Under the Mountain now live on Kickstarter

From 1st August to 1st of September 12 noon BST

Want a handy travel-sized A5 book of old school fantasy rules with an adventure?  Or maybe you’d just like a D&D 5th adventure based off British Fantasy Roleplaying standards from the 80s? Or perhaps you would like both. Well, this love letter to my early days in the hobby is now Kickstarter until 12 noon on 1st September.

D101 Games Summer Sale!!!
Also even if you aren’t in the market for another Fantasy Roleplaying Game, you can back the Kickstarter at a £1 supporter level which then gives you access to most of D101 Game’s back catalogue at crazy low prices as add-ons. Also available for the duration are a couple of out of print titles (marked * below) Consider it a Summer Sale without getting dragged round the shops.

All the best

;0) Newt

Tales of the Sorcerer Under the Mountain KS launches tommorrow

The Tales of the Sorcerer Under the Mountain launches tomorrow, you can read more about this OSR Rulebook + 5th Edition adventure in this previous post.

A couple of weeks ago I got the map for the adventure from the uber-talented Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood Design fame. There’s a reason why he’s an award-wining cartographer 🙂



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.