Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Loot

Today I got Dungeon World.  I'm very interested in reading it to see how it works.
I also received a $50 "I don't know what to get you from your long Christmas list of games" gift certificate.  Any suggests for one or more games?  It can be print or PDF.  I have some ideas but other perspectives are appreciated.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Ryth Chronicle

Many of you may have seen this before but I just found an interesting slice of early D&D roleplaying.  It's called the Ryth Chronicle and it can be found at the Risus Monkey blog here.

Edit 5/20/22

The Risus Monkey blog seems to be defunct.  You can find the information at the old Smoldering Wizard blog here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Potentia Mundi - Blog Shout Out

I've been looking at the blog Potentia Mundi by Finn Cullen.  Finn has several cool BoL adventures posted there as well as a lot of material for the GUMSHOE system which includes Trail of Cthulhu.  He also posts under the name Finn at the BoL forum Champions of Lemuria.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Children of Galdren 2
In the beginning, Tuharis, the Lady of Light, formed the Land from primordial chaos.  She then brought forth the first people to inhabit the land.  She created the first elf, Elion, from the wood of the trees and the first dwarf, Galdren, from the stone of the mountains.  Elion lived in the Great Forest with her children, learning the way of plants and nature, sky and water and about all, magic.  Meanwhile, Galdren founded the first dwarf home and delved into the secrets of the earth, creating wondrous artifacts and grand structures from the stones and metals, minerals and gems.  The Land was harmonious and all were happy.

All were happy, that is, except for Ahtarr, the Lord of Darkness and the twin brother of Tuharis.  Ahtarr loved chaos and strife.  He reveled in the primordial chaos and resented Tuharis for changing it and taming it, even a part of it.  Thus Ahtarr began to scheme.  Afraid to confront Tuharis directly, he began to introduce bits of chaos to the world in order to ruin the happy Land.  He brought forth monsters to prey on the people and to bring them fear.  He fashioned Dark Magic from chaos to warp and twist the unwary users' minds and souls.  And he created the goblins to kill the first inhabitants and to ravage the Land.  The quickly reproducing goblins were a particular threat to the long-lived but less prolific elves and dwarves.

Thus, Tuharis created humans to counter the threat of the goblins.  Humans had neither the great knowledge and magic of the elves nor the endurance and industriousness of the dwarves.  And they short-lived compared to both.  But the humans were supremely adaptable and reproduced much more quickly and were therefore very successful.

The human/elf/dwarf alliance eventually won the great Goblin Wars and drove the goblins to the far north beyond the Northlands.  But the alliance paid a great price.  The Land was ravaged and the forests were burnt and many died.  Without a common threat the alliance dissolved as each people looked to their own needs.  And Ahtarr took advantage of the situation to sow discord between the three.  And thus, though the Land has recovered, when Flametongue flew out of the north, the dwarves could find none to aid them (even their southern brethren it turns out.)

Today, the Land faces its greatest peril since the advent of the goblins.  Disunited and fragmented in the face of Firetongue in the Northlands and the goblins throughout the mountains, the three peoples and the Land itself may be destroyed.

Will heroes rise to face the challenge?

Next up, a bit about the inhabitants of the Land, their beliefs and customs and their view of the world.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Children of Galdren

I have been pondering another setting/campaign/adventure, this one specifically for The Hero's Journey.  In fact, it was inspired by its cover and...well, you'll see.

Two hundred years ago the wyrm Flametongue descended from the North and attacked Goldhome, the great dwarven hold in the Northlands.  The dread dragon killed many and drove the few survivors from their halls and into the wilderness.  Many of the homeless dwarves tried to join Stoneheim, the remaining dwarf kingdom to the south.  However, their insular kin would not admit them.  With no support and little hope the survivors scattered to the points of the compass to find work and sustenance amongst the human kingdoms.  Dwarven metalwork was highly sought after and expatriates found good work in the smithies and foundries of man.  Though the dwarves found acceptance and work that they liked, few were ever truly happy.  No matter where they lived or how respected they were it was not and never would be their home.

Meanwhile, Firetongue settled onto his new hoard and rested.  With the bulwark of the dwarven kingdom removed and the dragon slumbering, goblins began to infiltrate southward through the mountains.  The trickle became a torrent when the goblins met no resistance and soon the mountains were filled with the wicked creatures.  Their eyes soon turned to the lowlands and they began raiding the petty human kingdoms and have managed to carve out small enclaves for themselves.  A few of the boldest have even ventured into the great forest of the elves.

This is how things stand today.  The human kingdoms, though threatened from without,  are too busy fighting amongst themselves to notice the plight of the border kingdoms, the elves turned their mournful backs on the world after the Goblin War of long ago and the remaining dwarf kingdom looks inward and downward, ignoring humans, elves and the goblin threat alike.  And, to make matters worse, there are rumors from the Northlands that the dragon is stirring.

All is not lost though.  A few astute humans, including one of the greatest wizards in the land, are attempting to raise awareness of the threat.  The elves have even sent an ambassador into the world to speak with humans on the matter.

And, some of the children of the exiled dwarves, raised on the stories of the glories of Goldhome, have started talking about taking "their" kingdom back.  Some even seek the advice and aid of the great wizard while trying to obtain the service human mercenaries and adventurers.  These young dwarves call themselves the Children of Galdren after the semi-mythical founder of Goldhome.

Adventure awaits.

Next time more history and a little cosmology.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sword & Wizardry GeekList

For some reason I made a geeklist on that lists as many of the Swords & Wizardry variants that I could think of.  I know it isn't complete so feel free to add to it.  You can find it here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Apes Victorious Games has released a Planet of the Apes type game called Apes Victorious.  It uses a system compatible with Labyrinth Lord and Starships & Spacemen.  You can play astronauts or apes or underdwellers.  You can pick the PDF up at Drivethru for less than $5.  Or, better yet if you are unsure about it, you can pick up the free, no-art version from Goblinoid's website.  Grab it here.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Thoughts on a Grimmsgate Campaign

I showed my previous blog post about a Grimmsgate Campaign to a coworker who is also a gamer.  She read it over and had some questions and suggestions for me.  Here are her questions and my replies.  The following may contain spoilers for Grimmsgate.

Who is the "big bad"?  The Dark Lord? It's funny that she asked the question this way because I don't usually use the term "big bad" but in my notes this is exactly the term I used.  I thought the main antagonist would actually be one of the most powerful minions of the Dark Lord.  When the forces of Law destroyed the Dark Lord's citadel during the last battle the minion was trapped inside when it collapsed and was entombed.  The minion's powerful magic put him into suspended animation and kept him alive for centuries.  About 200 years ago greedy goblins finally mustered up the courage to loot the ruined remnants of the Dark Lord's holdings.  Well, they got more than they bargained for.  The newly released minion gathered his strength for a couple of decades while he built his own stronghold with the newly enslaved goblins.  Then he began using his powers to disrupt the borderlands in order to weaken the kingdoms in preparation of attacking them.  One of his first acts was to compel a certain acolyte to touch a certain jar containing a trapped demon.

Do all races still co-exist in the shattered kingdoms?  Will they cooperate?  Will they help fight the darkness again?
My thoughts are that after the final battle the elves and dwarves withdrew to grieve their losses and rebuild.  They became reclusive and isolationist, particularly the elves.  I find it particularly tragic when elves die for some reason.  Maybe because they are effectively immortal and don't have to die unless they put themselves in harm's way.  On top of this they are slow to reproduce.  I think that death would hit elves particularly hard and make it harder for them to recover psychologically than it is for humans.  The one scene in the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers that particularly saddened me was the death of the elf commander, Haldir, at the Battle of Helm's Deep.

So I think that the dwarves and elves would be reluctant to join a new war.  Particularly because the elves would've been participants in the first one.  I think it would be interesting if later in the story-arc the characters are tasked with heading up a diplomatic mission charged with persuading them to join the battle again.

 The isolationist tendencies would also make dwarves and elves rare in the wider world and thus the object of curiosity and some fear.  Also, as is traditional, the dwarves and elves would be distrustful of one another, adding to the difficulty of any diplomatic mission.

I want to know more about Lord Wulfric's role.
I haven't put much thought into Lord Wulfric's role yet.  I see him as being self-interested but ultimately being on the side of Law.  But at first he will be a hindrance to the PCs because of his self-interest and his distrust of adventurers running around his lands potentially causing trouble.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Sword & Sorcery Inspiration

Some images from around the web to get the creative juices flowing:

8173346190_962cc33e82_o.jpg (1248×1600):
The Villain

rodney matthews - Google Search:
Another Villain

– Joseph Vargo
Oops.  I hate when that happens!

390250601b44664a530d5e59340b51e7.jpg (1234×1920):

Sword and Sorcery Mixture comp. i have alotta these so im dumping them here i have alotta these so im dumping them here.
This is just cool!
A Hero

Another Hero
My Hero!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Grimmsgate Campaign, 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 base 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

374 began updating my list of RPGs on  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. 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.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Vikings on my Mind

Crap.  I'm doing it again.  I can never focus long enough on one campaign idea to get any meaningful work done on it.  A couple of months ago it was White Star.  I actually got a little further on my idea than I usually do.  I drafted a five page background to my own setting.  Trust me, that's a lot for me.  But we never got passed making up characters because video games distract the boys and my attention wandered as it does.  I think it's a version of gamer ADD.

Related imageAnyway, I am currently mulling two campaign ideas.  The one that is foremost in my mind is a Viking themed campaign.  But as always I have a couple of problems.  The first is the historian in me.  I don't know much about Scandinavian history and society.  Much of my knowledge is through popular media, predominantly History Channel's The Vikings.  I want to research and research and research the snot out of it.  And this is one of the ways I end up losing interest.  But to help I'm going to try and get a hold of some gaming supplements on the topic like GURPS Vikings and the 2nd Ed. AD&D guide.  Hopefully that will be enough without being too much.

This leads me to my second problem.  What system to use?  I'm looking at three:  Savage Worlds, B/X (or S&W Whitebox) or Barbarians of Lemuria.  My oldest son would prefer Savage Worlds so I'm leaning in that direction but the other two are calling to me too.

What I'm looking at is a low magic setting with fantastic, myth inspired elements.  What magic there is will not be in the hands of the pc's unless it is an artifact.  And those will be rare.  There will be seers that can foretell the future in there veiled way.  There will be npc magic users but I want it to be consistent with the sagas and myths.  And that's another thing I'll need to learn about.  Urg.  So much to learn.  Oh, and every now and again a god might meddle.

So, anyway, each system has its advantages though I'm sure all could do it well.

Savage Worlds is flexible and action oriented and has a lot of official and unofficial support.  I got a peek at the campaign material a Savage Worlds gamer created for his personal game and it really helped solidify my thoughts.  I don't think I could pull off his game off but I am definitely going to borrow from it.

B/X was what I initially thought I would use.  I love the simplicity of it and it is easy to modify.  I figured I would borrow liberally from the Viking Campaign sourcebook from the AD&D 2nd Edition.  It would be easy to find B/X or Labyrinth Lord versions of the suggested classes.  I would have to figure out a way to mellow the magic because I have a feeling it wouldn't be what I would want.  Lately, I've become fascinated with Swords & Wizardry Whitebox and it has a bunch of home-brew classes out there and is easily modifiable.  I've found a couple of fan made supplements that will be very helpful.  One of which is at Sword +1.  If you poke around the site a little you can find a Swords & Wizardry version too.  I also found some related posts at the Magician's Manse.

Last but definitely not least is Barbarians of Lemuria.  I feel it would be very simple to modify it to suit my needs by fine-tuning the career list.

I am going to start the campaign by characters returning home to the cold north after hearing of the death of their father.  One will be a member of the Varangian guard in Miklagard and the other will one of Hrolf Ganger's men in what will become Normandy.  They return home to find that there father was murdered and the rest of the family was also slaughtered or sold into slavery.  This will give us several lines of play including revenge, the quest to find their kin and, of course, there will be various and sundry monsters ravaging the countryside and perhaps a few meddling fey.

So, this was a big word dump but any thoughts or comments are appreciated.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Searchers of the Unknown

As regular readers of my irregular posts know, I prefer rules-lite games.  Barbarians of Lemuria, B/X D&D and Mini Six just to name a few.  And with a strange obsession I continue to seek them out.  If they are free, all the better.  As a result, I've had a copy of the free Searchers of the Unknown by Nicolas Dessaux on my hard-drive for literally years now.  I glanced at it when I first got it and dismissed it as too light.  There seemed to be nothing there.  Well, sometimes I wonder about myself.  The other day I printed out a copy (all 1 page of it) after seeing it mentioned in the course of searching various forums and websites for an OSR/retroclone game that was low or no magic.  I decided to look at it again because it supposedly only had an adventurer class, no magic users or clerics.

I now think SotU borders on the superb.  The premise is that if the monsters in an old-school game only need one line for stats so do player characters.  And it works if you are looking for a light-weight, quick-playing D&D type game!  You can pick up any adventure or module, make a character in literally moments and be playing moments later.  The touch I like the best is that the to-hit roll is roll under armor class.  Descending armor class finally makes sense to me.

So, if you like rules-lite, quick playing D&D derivatives, take a look at Searchers of the Unknown.  And if you find that it is too lite or that you want magic using classes you can pick up Searchers of the Unknown Expanded free from Lulu.  SotU has also been hacked to other genres.  Here is a website full of them.  To top it off there is a compilation of every known version of SotU up to 2012 located here.  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

White Star Settings

White Star has been pretty well supported in the setting department.  The main rule book supports a quasi-Star Wars setting from the get-go.  There is Five Year Mission and the Space Cede adventure covering Star Trek.  Stark Space has dystopian/cyber-punk SF covered.  Galaxy War 1939 and Have Death Ray, Will Travel addresses the pulp/Flash Gordan needs.  These items scratch many of my science fiction itches.

It turns out Star Wars is the type of setting my son would like to play in.  When we were discussing options he said that he wanted to play a bounty hunter and capture "rebel scum".  Cool.  Got that covered.  I'm working on my own Star Wars rip-off homage that is set in the fallen Commonwealth of Worlds.  (People don't understand why Terrans laugh when others refer to it as CoW.  Although I haven't quite decided whether Terrans will be part of the mix or not.)  It is now ruled by the High Archon and is called the Archonate.  I'm working up a timeline for the setting which I will present in another post.  Suffice it to say that it will contain all of the Star Wars cliches. much as I like Star Wars and the default assumptions behind White Star, my mind immediately jumped to two literary settings upon my first read through of the rules (and more recently a third and then a fourth.).  The first was Battlestar Galactica.  More the new series than the old.  I didn't know it until a while later but BG has gotten a little love, too.  There is a little adventure called Colonial Civil War that is similar to BG.  It's not exactly the same and it is a single adventure but it is there for those who want to dip their toes in.  I would like to see a full blown treatment of BG though.  It would be really fun to be part of a "ragtag fleet" of humans trying to survive a robot onslaught and have tailored rules to do so.  The players could encounter the planet of the week or explore a single planet with an eye towards colonization.  Also, following the second series, the player may need deal with android infiltrators that are indistinguishable from humans.  However, those loving their star knights would have to look elsewhere to get their fix.  I haven't watched the entirety of the new series so I don't know if they slipped any psionic elements into it.

The second setting I flashed on doesn't contain star knights, either.  It is the Terro-Human Future History stories by H. Beam Piper.  Specifically Space Viking.  Raiding and trading and re-civilizing would be a blast.  The mercenary, pilot and aristocrat classes would all be perfect for this setting.

I think this encapsulates a Space Viking raid perfectly
However, there are few aliens to encounter in this universe, let alone be player characters.  Piper's aliens definitely take a back seat to humans.  Even Little Fuzzy was about how humans reacted to the Fuzzies and their potential sapience.  Also, there are no personal lasers or star sword type weapons either.  Combat tech is limited to 20th century type weapons.  The starships would have to be much larger, also.  The Nemesis, Lucas Trask's ship, is a globe 2000 feet in diameter.  That's big.  The largest aircraft carrier that the United States has is 1,092 feet long.  So take two aircraft carriers, stack them lengthwise and turn them into a globe and there you have it, a SV ship.  Heck, the world's largest oil tanker was only 1,500 feet long.  I can't remember if the book mentions the size of the crew complement but I imagine it is quite large so that would have to be adjusted accordingly.  Once again, a World War II battleship carried around 3,000 officers and crew.  I use a battleship as comparison because SV does not mention specifically an air or fighter wing.  Contragravity assault vehicles for the troops are mentioned but I didn't get the impression that it was along the of an air wing.  Robots were well developed and were used as servants amongst other duties.  However, I don't recall a sentient robot in any of Piper's stories let alone SV.

I think one of the advantages of this setting would be the sheer number of human inhabited worlds to explore.  Each would have a different level of technology and civilization.  One session could be occupied dealing with stone throwing primitives and the next could be spent doing desperate battle with a rival spaceship of comparable tech.  It could include exploring the ruins strewn about various planets as well as domain management if you take over a low tech world.  I would imagine that this, like other settings, would be SV with the serial numbers artfully removed.  This could lead to an infinite variety of worlds and situations.  Also, if you want to have a slightly different setup you could remove the Euro-centric nature of the Sword Worlds and substitute a Japanese, Chinese or some other model.  (I like the way it is so this wouldn't be one of my choices but, hey, it's there.)  And the political situation of the Sword Worlds could be modified to taste also.  The book does mention the first Space Viking-on-Space Viking world raid.

So, these are just some thoughts.  I would like to say I am going to create the Space Viking knockoff but I doubt that would ever happen.  Something about doing the actual works always seems to get in the way.  Sigh.  Oh, and by the way, Space Viking is available for free at Project Gutenberg.  You can download it here

Oh, the other two settings you ask?  Niven and Pournelle's The Mote in God's Eye universe (which includes the CoDominium books and King David's Spaceship) and Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga.

Friday, April 8, 2016


We saw Batman v Superman today.  I really enjoyed it as did my boys.  The references and similarities to The Dark Knight Returns made me enjoy it even more.  Oh, and spoiler, I really enjoyed seeing Batman kick Superman's ass.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


I had to chuckle.  I've been reading the Five Year Mission supplement for White Star.  This book allows the GM to modify their campaign to emulate Star Trek.  One of the new classes included is Expendables.  Oh, those poor, poor red shirts.  The thing that made me laugh is that one of the class abilities is Noble Sacrifice.  If the expendable is within full  movement distance from a character they can throw themselves in front of that character and absorb any damage dealt.  But the Expendable takes double damage.  Fortunately, the player controls multiple Expendables and has a large supply in reserve.

Long Live the Expendable!  Oops.  Long Live the Next Expendable!

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Future and the Past

I've bought two PDFs over the past several weeks.

The Future:

White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying

Yep, I did it.  Seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens got me in the mood for some good old fashioned SF roleplaying.  Never mind the fact that I own WEG Star Wars (1st and 2nd edition as well as a pdf copy of REUP), Traveller, BASH! Sci Fi Edition, Thousand Suns, Tales of the Space Princess, Stars Without Number, Rogue Space, Cosmic Patrol, HardNova 2 and Star Ace.  Plus more generic games such as D6 Space and Mini Six, amongst other, even more generic games.  Nope, I needed a new game and what do you know, DriveThru was having a gm's day sale.  I've given it a read-thru and I like what I see.  It is definitely old-school with its class based, Vancian magic d20 system.  However it is open and flexible in that way that I like.  The classes have been tweaked to fit SF.  Various SF sub-genres are covered briefly with suggestions on how to modify it to better fit each sub-genre, including what classes to leave out.  It appeals to me in the same way the B/X does.  Simple, yet with many possibilities.

The Past:

Blood & Bronze

Oh, I was excited about this one.  An RPG set in a fantasy bronze age version of Mesopotamia.  So, cool! I have been thinking about getting Valley of the Pharaohs but haven't pulled the trigger yet.  And I thought this would be cooler.  Well, I'm disappointed.  The book has evocative art but let me down in other ways.  First, the way the material was presented seemed a illogical and confusing to me.  Concepts were referred to but not explained until later and then sometimes not very clearly.  The system itself seems ok.  It relies on d6s, count successes, for combat and skill checks and a d20 for saving throws.  It also has a simple skill system with each skilled based on one of the six attributes, which go no higher than 12 for most characters.  It has a setting section that was interesting but seemed really sparse to me.  And no included adventures.  Overall, where White Star sparked my imagination, Blood & Bronze just let my sit there listlessly.  Which is a shame for an ancient history guy like me because I was so looking forward to a pseudo-historical game tailored specifically for the Bronze Age.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Belated Thank You

I have been very remiss.  In January I received a package in the mail that contained a copy of the outstanding  Creature Compendium by +Richard LeBlanc, published by New Big Dragon Games.  You see, I had entered a Christmas drawing at Richard's blog Save Vs. Dragon.  And because I never win anything, I had completely forgotten about it.  Well, Richard contacted me to make sure I knew that I had won.  I was pretty excited.  A few weeks later, I had the book in my hands.  And it is a pretty cool book.  It contains a large variety of new and strange creatures for your old school campaigns.  The best part is that he included stats for both Oe/1e and my preferred BX.

So, thank you Richard.  Though I am late I much appreciate the prize.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I finally got to see it.  And in a word:  Excellent.

Slightly predictable, action filled and filled me with an incredible sense of nostalgia.  I won't spoil anything for the two of you out there who haven't seen.  The movie rushed along with the same pace as the original and I appreciated that and the sense of wonder it invoked.  Also, as I explained to my son, I have known these characters since I was 9 years old.  I grew up with them and even when they weren't in the forefront of my psyche they were always there.  I think this movie did justice to them and stayed true to their essence.  The new characters grew on me quickly and I began to care about them before long, too.  To me it was an excellent movie going experience.  One that took me back to my youth yet moved me forward at the same time.