Dynasty Zero

Monday, September 26, 2016

Grimmsgate Campaign

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0188/8152/products/Grimmsgate-cover_2.jpeg?v=1419816973So, here is my latest scheme to kick off a campaign with my boys.  It will be centered around the Swords & Wizardry module Grimmsgate and have sandbox elements.

The background will be that 1000 years ago, the combined forces of humans, elves and dwarves defeated the Dark Lord™ and his minions.  In the process, however, the kingdoms were shattered, barbarians invaded, chaos reigned and the world fell into a Dark Age™.  The world pulling itself out darkness but, unbeknownst to most, new threats have appeared and chaos is once again encroaching upon the newly re-civilized lands.

One who can see the new darkness is the mysterious wizard Eduran.  He will ask the characters to meet him at Grimmhold, the village near Grimmhold Keep.  Grimmhold Keep is the base of Lord Wulfric Grimmson, whose barony is the closest to Grimmsgate.  Eduran will tell the players he wants to speak with them for two reasons.  The first is that one of them has inherited a house in Grimmsgate from a previously unknown great uncle.  His second reason will be the encroaching darkness as explained in the beginning of the module.  This will be writ large however.  He will ask the characters to act as his agents and to fight the darkness and push it back.  The kings and rulers of the land are blind to the threats so until he can convince them otherwise he needs to work through freelancers, mercenaries and adventurers.  If the characters are successful they can then use a reviving Grimmsgate as a base of operations for other adventures I will plug into the surrounding area.  Eduran will also say he will send along other adventurers in a few days to supplement the party (as there will only be two players.)  He will send one of his apprentices to assist them also.  It will turn out, though, that this apprentice is an agent of chaos and will at some dramatically appropriate point betray the party.  This will be further down the line though.

So, that's my idea.  Once again riddled with cliches.

The first decision I need to make is which version of Swords & Wizardry to use.  Unfortunately, I think S&W White Box is out.  My players will want more choices, particularly for classes.  So that leaves S&W Core or S&W Complete.  However, I've really been grooving on the The Heroes Journey Fantasy Roleplaying by +James Spahn and would like to use that.  I'm going to do a mini-review of it soon but succinctly put it is a greatly modified version of S&W White Box intended for, well, heroic role-playing à la The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings.  The drawback to The Heroes Journey in this context is that I would have to do some conversion work.  And frankly I'm lazy.

So, any feedback on the setting idea or on which system to run would be appreciated.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016

White Box

I have recently become enamored with the Swords & Wizardry White Box rules-set due to a nifty little game called White StarWhite Star led me to the White Box rules-set which introduced me to a plethora of White Box derivatives, offspring and cousins.  Over the next several weeks (hopefully) I plan on taking a look at at least three White Box based games and giving a brief overview of each, pointing out similarities and, particularly, differences from the base rules-set.  Also, if a game has a stated goal, I plan on looking at if, in my opinion, the rules fulfill that goal.  These will not be comprehensive reviews but just highlights and thoughts.

The "Red" CoverFirst up is White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game authored by +Charlie Mason  of Seattle Hill Games.  To be frank, I bought this game because of the cover.  I don't buy hard copies of games frequently but I loved the Red Dragon cover by Eric Lofgren so much and the price point was so low that I did in this case.  If you don't want to buy a copy you can still get the rules because the PDF is free through DriveThru and LULU.  Hard copies are available through LULU and Amazon.

Of the derivatives I have perused, White Box hews closest to the source material.  It is not a straight copy of Swords & Wizardry White Box but it takes the bases rules and then adds modifications and clarifications.  For example, it has the same unified Saving Throw and Base Hit Bonus for ascending armor class as S&WWB, both of which I like for their simplicity.

The first noticeable addition is the inclusion of the Thief class.  The Thief caps at 10th level as the other base classes do and has a single Thievery ability for all thief-like actions.  Everything from filching items to disarming traps is resolved with  a single d6 roll equal to or under a number ranging from 2 to 5, which is determined by the thief's level.

Prices for goods and services appear to be the same as in S&WWB.  I still think armor is woefully under priced, particularly plate.  (Can you guess what one of my house-rules will be?)

Expansions include a page long discussion of dungeon doors and the difficulties one may face finding them and  trying to open them.  This section also includes a discussion of traps.  I particularly like the paragraph later in the book concisely detailing how magic is prepared and used without being overly technical.  Additions like these are helpful to the new gamer in a way the bare-bones nature of S&WWB isn't.

I like the physical book itself.  It is 6"x9" and the text is single column and, unlike some other books I have in this format, the text is large and thus easier for my aging eyes to read.  The internal artwork is black and white and to me very reminiscent of the artwork I have seen from the early days of RPGs.  One thing I particularly like about the PDF is that the margin on the side of the page that is bound is larger.  I often print PDFs and bind them with a comb-binding machine and this means I don't lose any text to the binding.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2012/02/17/lincoln-tower_custom-228b277b9309741265fa76533db1a07c3b74ab07-s300-c85.jpgI began updating my list of RPGs on RPGGeek.com.  The current number of items I have listed is 374.  However, I am only through the L's on my Drivethru library.  I'm glad most of the list are PDFs or I would be sleeping on the lawn.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Viking White Box Question

So, as some of you may know, I want to turn Swords & Wizardry White Box into what I've been calling my Viking Hack.  I'm taking the White Box rules and adding classes and ideas from various sources around the web, cutting things out and planning own "original" setting.  Throw in a handful of cliches, stir well, and voila!  Fun is had by all.  I'm doing this for private, not commercial, use and may post it for any of you who might be interested.  I've also considered tearing apart The Black Hack and doing the same thing.

But what if I surprise myself and actually finish the thing and it turns out to be decent?  What if I want to put it on DriveThru, even if it is just PWYW?  How does one do that?  Can someone explain to me in very simplistic terms how to do this?  Or, perhaps, point me in the direction of a website that can do the same?  What can I use from the rules set?  What can't I?  What items must be attributed?  What is OGL and Open Game Content and what does it all mean?   I know there are various games based on White Box such as White Star, The Hero's Journey (both by Spaaaaahhn!) and the upcoming WWII: Operation White Box by Pete Spahn.  (What?!?  Another Spahn!  Hurm....)  How does one go about this?

Any help would be appreciated.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I Blame James Spahn

White Star CoverI blame +James Spahn.  James Spahn and his nifty little game White Star.  It's all his fault.  See, I picked up White Star in March.  I read through it and really liked it.  It did science fiction in the simple way that I have grown to appreciate as I've grown older.  Yeah, it has classes and levels and such but I'm ok with that.  I like that it has ascending armor class and the base hit bonus.  That makes the game even easier.  No need to look up numbers on a chart.  Unified savings throw with bonuses under certain circumstances?  Nice.  And it is easy to play around with and to modify it.  For example, White Star has a very Star Wars vibe built right into it.  Star Wars not your thing?  That's cool.  Various supplements can steer you in a different direction.  Like Star Trek?  Pick up Five Year Mission and you are off and running with, dare I say it, years of gaming goodness.  How about pulp sci-fi based in the Solar System?  Have Death Ray, Will Travel is your supplement.

Great.  Cool game.  Flexible.  No problem.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-_KT24qT-Q0g/U9SHpEVsxII/AAAAAAAACfE/YwslcePbYBE/w1200-h630-p-nu/Swords%2B%26%2BWizardry%2BWhitebox.pngSo time passes and I decide to take a look at the game White Star is based on, Swords & Wizardry White Box rules.  I looked it over and thought it was neat how James modified the base rules and turned them into a science fiction game.  What a flexible set of rules!  Now here's where the problem starts.  You see, I have gamer ADD.  A serious case.  I was just looking at my order history for DriveThru.  I have placed 597 orders since 2008.  I kid you not.  Granted, the vast majority of the items I've acquired are freebies but I've still dropped a goodly amount of cash there.  Way too much if you ask my wife.  And that doesn't count the smaller number of games from LULU or the free ones I've grabbed from the internet.

So what's the problem?  White Box is made to be modified and tinkered with.  So now I want to modify and tinker with it.  You see, I was happy with B/X supplemented by Labyrinth Lord material.  A nice simple game that covered my D&D needs without any fuss or muss or extra complexity. I had been essentially ignoring Swords & Wizardry because I didn't need it.  B/X had me covered.  But then I started thinking about running a Viking campaign.  Well, Savage Worlds can do that easily.  But what if I wanted to use a D&D type game?  B/X could do it with a bunch of modifications.  Then I ran across a site that had already modified both Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry for Vikings.  You can find both at the Sword +1 blog in the links section to the right the page.  This and White Star made me realize just what a superb toolbox White Box is.

Now all I want to do is tear it down and rebuild it to meet my own vision and specifications.  Vikings?  I want subtle, low level magic that is out of the hands of the average PC.   Perhaps illusion based stuff.  So, in goes the npc Illusionist class.  I need to research magic in Norse culture more but I further modify things if I want to.  Demi-human PCs?  Nope.  Gone.  Elves and dwarves are things of legend and characters will be lucky to see them once or twice in their life.  Mike at Sword +1 has Berserker, Warrior and Thane classes.  I want a Skald class too.  Like a Bard but with no magic.  The music will work like a charm spell.  I'm sure I can find that somewhere or make my own.  And so on.

Now, I could take Barbarians of Lemuria and remove or tweak a few careers and change the setting.  Easy peasy.  Or I could put in a bit more work and use Savage Worlds.  No, not me.  I essentially want to make my own neo/retroclone based on White Box.  A project that if I get started I surely will not finish.  A project that will suck up what little free time I have.  A project that will probably leave me frustrated in the end.  And half way through I'll have another idea and want to work on THAT one.

So,  I blame James Spahn.  He showed me what was possible with Swords & Wizardry White Box and now my life is going to be very complicated..

So, imagine me standing on a rocky outcropping high above the land, raising my fist to the the heavens and shouting:  "SPAAAAAAAAHN!!!!"

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

BoL Hack

I finally picked up BoL Hack today.  I've only briefly perused it because I was at work.  (No, I'm never bored at work.  I always have something to do.  Seriously.  Hey, why are you laughing?)  What I saw was pretty cool.  It looks like a nifty fusion of the two system that keeps the simplicity of both systems while adding a twist to both.  And it's just as hackable as both original systems.  I'm hoping this will help solve the problem I have with D&D magic, too.