Friday, August 21, 2015

Rulings On Shields and Helm For Your Old School Fantasy Campaign

+Talysman the Ur-Beatle has recently posted some updated rules for shields and helms for use in old school RPGs. I like it. However, I would house rule a bit differently, and it's rather a shame that this wasn't thought of prior to the release of Goldenrod Guides: A Guide to Swords & Wizardry Combat. These rules may have made it into the document. So, allow me to riff on Talysman for a minute.


I have long been fan of the Shields Shall Be Splintered rule, though I have not used it in actual play when I am running a game. I also like Talysman's rule that shields absorb damage rolls of 1. HOWEVER, I am an asshole Referee and don't think this things should be automatically allowed. Therefore:

Any creature using a shield can attempt to fend of a blow with said shield absorbing damage dealt. Any damage roll of 1 (and only 1) may be absorbed by a shield with a 4 in 6 chance of success. This reflects successful blocking with the shield.

The wielder of the shield (upon being damaged) can attempt to splinter their shield, absorbing all of the damage dealt. This causes the shield to splinter and become useless. There is a 2 in 6 chance of success to absorb all damage. On a failed roll (3 - 6 on 1d6) only half of the damage dealt is absorbed.

Additionally, if a rule is used allowing a character to make a shield bash attack (such as the "Sword & Shield Combat Style" in the aforementioned Goldenrod Guide) the wielder of said shield can splinter it on a successful attack (again rendering the shield useless) causing it to deal an additional 1-6 damage.

If  a shield being splintered is magical it gains a 2 in twenty chance to survive per +1 point of magical bonus. Thus a +2 shield survives splintering (still absorbing damage) on a roll of  1-4 on a d20.


My rule for helms is far more specific and applies only in two specific situations (one requiring the use of critical hit rules.)

Any creature wearing a helmet may make a roll to avoid damage that would normally take them to 0 or fewer hit points. There is a 1 in 6 chance of success. Additionally if critical hits are being used in a game there is a 3 in 6 chance that a helm prevents the critical hit and only normal damage is dealt.

Well, those are my thoughts. And that, as they say, is that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

U-Con OSR Track Guest Announcement!

It is with great pleasure that I give this announcement. This year at U-Con our OSR Track has been lucky enough to get a sponsorship! For this my thanks goes out to +John Reyst and his company Open Gaming and website! John has given a great deal of support this year and thanks to that support we were able to bring in both a Guest of Honor and an Industry Insider for the track. Without further ado, I give you our guests!

First off, I would like to point you in the direction of our Guest of Honor, founder of both Necromancer Games and Frog God Games, as well as the author of famed mega-dungeon Rappan Athuk, Bill Webb!

Next I would like to introduce our Industry Insider, coming to represent Goodman Games, but also known as for being the creator of Mavin the Mage, author of the forthcoming Mutant Crawl Classics and a host of two OSR podcasts Save or Die! and Spellburn, I give you Jim Wampler!

Both will be participating in the OSR Track's panel this year on Friday night.  Additionally, any GMs with games on the OSR track will be able to participate in special events featuring this fine gentlemen. More information will be forthcoming!

Remember the convention is only a few short months away. If you have a game you would like to run, please click the link on this blog.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Returning To the Blog, Goldenrod spells, U-Con and MY Keep on the Borderlands

Wow. It has been nearly a month since my last post. Apparently the gaming hiatus took hold here as well.I had some vacation time in there. But really, I just haven't had the time. There was vacation, and some of it was a working vacation. In fact, I got several new spells completed for "Goldenrod." Some of these (previous OGL spells converted to S&W) will be released in the Goldenrod Guides: Sorcerer's Compedium through Open Gaming. Others are being saved for a later release.

I've also been working on/scheming things for the OSR Track at U-Con this year. I will have a full update posted this coming week on that. In fact, it looks like it's going to be a great track this year. It's only three months off at this point, so now is the time to think about your games and get submissions in! You can get information here. We have some excellent folks coming out this year, but more on that in my full OSR Track announcement this coming week.

In other news it appears that the gaming hiatus is over! In fact, Last week I began to run a new campaign (which will be run bi-weekly on Fridays.) I'm running Swords & Wizardry ("Goldenrod" options with Arduin Grimoire material included.) I am kicking off the campaign with a mashup of B1 and B2 on the Keep on the Borderlands map! The first session was fun, (though it almost ended in a TPK.)

In my version of B1/B2 that we are currently taking part in, Chaos looks similar to what one would expect out of a Warhammer FRP 1st edition game. The Keep is the last bastion standing between the lands of man and the waste of Chaos. The Caves of Chaos are only the beginning. Cults of Chaos war with eachother in the wastes. Demogorgan's worshipers fight against those of Orcus. The Slime Lord Juiblex's forces wage war against the Cults of Tsathagga in pestilence filled marshes. Pazuzu and Yeegnhu are fickle and turn against the others as quickly as they aid them. If all of these forces were united, surely the forces of Chaos would overrun the world of men, dwarves and elves. All of this the Jale God watches. And it schemes...

This is the world that the PCs have entered into. They journeyed far to get to the Keep, seeking fortune and glory. In less than one day the found that the Taint of Chaos is strong. The party nearly fell in the sewer beneath the keep to what should have been normal rats. The Taint touches all things in this forsaken wilderness. The rats beneath the keep were mutated into pestilence spreading creatures of the Glottkin. And if such terrible creatures can be found beneath the Keep itself, what lies in the Unknown and the Caves of Chaos?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Appendix Nspiration: Michael Whelan: Edgar Rice Burroughs "Mars" Novel Covers

Continuing our adventure into the art of Michael Whelan, we move on to another piece of Appendix N literature. That being the excellent "pulp" science fantasy of Edgar Rice Burroughs. In particular we will take a look at Whelan wonderful Barsoomian covers and illustrations from the "Mars" series. Enjoy, and hopefully these will offer some inspiration for your Warriors of the Red Planet campaign!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Gaming Involuntary Hiatus...

Summer is here again. With it came a wedding that needed performing and lots more time that the kiddo isn't in school (and therefore is up later at night.) That said, not much of it (outside of the wedding) should have interfered with gaming. But, gaming has been sparse since about mid May. 
In May +Crystal Summerfield and I decided we needed to kick off our relationship mentioned here. She also joined our Friday night group. I have since moved the Friday night group playing C&C in the Lost Lands to a bi-weekly game out of a desire to play. Every other week my good friend Jon is running a 5E game in which I play a paladin whose faith is strongly based upon medieval Moorish practices. 
This should all be well and good. Except... we have since played my game exactly once and played only one real session of the 5E campaign. Summer. Schedules. Bleh.
I also decided to run a Monday night game on G+ through the summer only. This was going to be Swords & Wizardry, plus Goldenrod and I was going to run Keep on the Borderlands (I shouldn't be using past tense here, as this is still happening.) Last night was to be our first session of this. Unfortunately we were faced with drama on two fronts. We decided to wade through the drama and begin playing anyway. Then we discovered that a player was sick and couldn't play. Three strikes and your out, right? Yeah. We cancelled. We SHOULD be playing this next week. Also on the 10th we SHOULD be returning to the 5E campaign, and the following week returning to C&C.
Additionally, many of the same issues that have withheld actual gaming, have also put a wrench in getting much writing done in the second installment of Goldenrod. I have some stuff. I need TIME to finish up new spells. This, I should be able to work on a bit the next few evenings, hopefully.
There were a couple of one off highlights in there. Crystal and I played a one on one session of TSRs old "The Gem and the Staff" module last week. A few weeks before that, she got to play through some of "Tomb of Horrors" for the first time. So, there has been some gaming goodness in there.
All said and done, I need to get back to a regular game pretty soon.
That's it. Just a rambling post about not much. Still, I got to post.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Appendix Nsipiration: Michael Whelan Elric Paintings

The next few inspirational posts (now called Appendix Nspiration, see what I did there?) will be devoted to the art of Michael Whelan. The first of these is truly drawn form Appendix N. Michael Whelan did a series of iconic covers for Michael Moorcock's Elric novels. Many of these are also recognizable by fans of 70's and 80's Metal, as they were picked up as album covers.
Elric himself holds a special place for me (though I presume this to be true of many old school gamers.) I have always identified strongly with the forlorn albino sorcerer, emperor of his people. He wasn't of the best health, needing special medicines to survive, when first we meet him. When I first read Elric of Melnibone I was young, and rarely in the best health. I was out of school several times a year for more than a week at a time with all manner of illnesses. I had an interest in the spiritual, the occult and all things fantasy. This character strongly appealed to me. Because of my interests, I was not looked on favorably by family or many of my classmates (though I had several loyal friends. Another common factor with this character. Elric's views were different than the dark society from which he sprang. My views were quite different from my peers as well. As I said, I strongly identified with this albino sorcerer. I love his exploits, and they shaped much of my early roleplaying experience, as much, if not more than Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander (more on these at another time.)
I was exposed to the art of the Brothers Hildebrandt at a very early age, though it wasn't until I was twelve that I truly began to discover (and devour) the are of Michael Whelan. Much of his art shaped my gaming at the same time as I was discovering Moorcock. So, it is that I give you a combination of the two, in today's Appendix Nspriration.


Friday, June 12, 2015

U-Con 2015 OSR Track and Event Submission Info

It's announcement time folks! It's official. The OSR Track at U-con in Ypsilanti Michigan is set to go this year! I will, again, be filling the roll of OSR Track Coordinator. Last year went very well and we had quite a draw for a first time track. I have been given permission to expand upon the old school gaming goodness that we can accept within the track this year (based partly on the discussion had during the roundtable that occurred in our seminar last year.) If you haven't listened to the seminar, go ahead right over here on Save or Die! 
With that in mind, I proudly announce that event submissions are officially open! Go ahead and register your events right here. If your event will qualify for the OSR Track (or any other tracks) please explicitly make that known in the comments box. I will be organizing the track events myself this year, so I will attempt to keep everyone's events precisely in the slot that they want to run in.
What qualifies as an OSR event this year? Well, let me tell you good people about the plethora of awesomeness that you can submit to me. Firstly we have D&D. But not all D&D of course (pssh, we have to have some type of integrity you know. Not to mention leaving some games for the other tracks.)
Official D&D:
All TSR Era D&D qualifies,
AD&D 2nd Edition
Rules Cyclopedia
Other TSR Era Stuff:
Gamma World (TSR editions)
Boot Hill
Metamorphosis Alpha
Star Frontiers
Top Secret
Alternity etc.
Other Early Era RPGs/Supplements:
Early Chaosium products (RuneQuest, Elfquest, Sandy Petersen era Call of Cthulhu etc)
RuneQuest (yes I know I mentioned it before)
Tunnels & Trolls (all editions)
Dragonquest (all editions)
Chivalry & Sorcery
Pacesetter System Games (Chill, Time Master etc.)
Did I mention RuneQuest?
Middle Earth Role Playing (I.C.E.)
Rolemaster (er... if you must?)
The Complete Warlock
Rapier & Dagger
Cyborg Commando (Did he really just say Cyborg Commando?)
WEG D6 Star Wars
WEG D6 Ghostbusters
The Fantasy Trip
Pre 2000s Palladium Games (TMNT, Palladium RPG, early RIFTS etc)
If I missed your favorite, contact me and make sure, but it will likely be fine to run.
Swords & Wizardry
Labyrinth Lord
Mutant Future
Dark Dungeons
Delving Deeper
For Gold & Glory
Spellcraft & Swordplay etc.
Near Clones:
Dungeon Crawl Classics
Adventurer Conqueror King
Fantastic Heroes & Witchery
Castles & Crusades
White Star
Adventures Dark & Deep
Warriors of the Red Planet
Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Roleplaying Game etc.
Again, this list is hardly exhaustive regarding all of the great Old School RPGs in the world. If you have one you want to run and it isn't here, just let me know. Let's make this thing huge. I want to give your favorite Old School game a place to live and breathe.