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Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays From Gamers & Grognards Studios! The Gift of Wishbooks

Merry Christmas from out gaming group to yours.

As my gift to you, here is full catalog of all of those old Wishbooks you used to circle your D&D wishlists in. Click right here.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Gear, Wear,Tear & Repair

Any post from me has been a long time coming. It's been a pretty busy month.

You all know from previous posts that I like my games to have a simulationist quality. As of late I find myself thinking about adventuring gear and the wear and tear that it takes. This, of course, includes weapons and armor. I believe that I've come up with a very basic rule that will help to keep things simple while still making them "feel" like they are real and happening. My objective is to bring a simulationist immersion to this part of play, while keeping the rule simple to use. Without further ado, here is a rough sampling of the rules.

The Rules
1. All adventuring gear can be in one of four conditions:
Good, Worn, Damaged and Ruined
This is called the condition track
These conditions are self explanatory.
2. All types of materials have a base saving throw:
Cloth - 15
Wood - 13
Soft Metal (Gold, silver etc) - 10
Durable Metal (Steel) - 7
Stone - 5
Extraordinarily Durable Materials (Mithril, Adamant etc.) - 2
Magic Items (case by case at Referee's discretion - not damaged under normal circumstances)

Referees may give bonuses or penalties depending upon situations or damage caused by specific hazards (i.e. wooden items catching fire) as they see fit.
3. To keep gear in good condition, PCs must perform maintenance or upkeep in between adventures/on the road etc. If it is deemed that the PCs possess the skill to upkeep their gear, they can (with proper tools) do so themselves. As a note, if a PC can use a given weapon, they know how to perform basic maintenance of that weapon. The same goes for armor. This include oiling and sharpening blades, oiling and cleaning armor, etc. If whetstone and oil are owned, this can easily be done while camping and on watch. If it is deemed that a PC knows how to upkeep other gear and has the proper implements to do so, that is fine as well, however, this must be kept track of by the Referee for time keeping purposes. It takes a great deal of time to take care of equipment.

Alternatively, players can also have items professionally repaired, replaced etc. while in town for 20% of the value of the PCs total adventuring gear, more at the Referee's discretion if any gear is in Damaged condition. Ruined items cannot be repaired.

4. Normal wear to gear: Gear will naturally deteriorate to lesser conditions if it is not upkept, per point three. Outside of this, all gear that is used during a session must make a saving throw at the end of the session. If the saving throw fails, that piece of gear moves down the condition track by one step.

Gear that specifically takes damage must make a saving throw or move down one or more conditions along the track as well. This is based upon a variety of conditions, catching fire, items specifically targeted or damaged by foes etc.

5. Weapons and armor are subject to the same rules as adventuring gear, but may also be subject to wear and tear from especially hard hits (giving or taking maximum damage etc.) at the Referee's discretion.

Monday, November 30, 2015

U-Con OSR Track Retrospectives

Well, both U-Con and Thanksgiving are behind us. U-Con was great this year. The OSR track did tremendously well. I'm not doing a full retrospective this year, but I'll let some of the attendees and guests give you their experiences, via links below. First, I would like to give many thanks to some of the folks that helped to make it a great weekend. I'd like to thank our guest of honor +Bill Webb for coming out and our insider +Jim Wampler as well. It was great having the both of you. I would like to thank both +Bill Barsh and returning panelist +Tim Snider for coming out and sitting on the OSR panel, which is now ready to be downloaded over on Save or Die! The panel/round table format did well again this year. I would also like to thank the Refs/Judges/GMs that came out, and I know I might not have everyone here, but here's a try. Thank you +Adam Muszkiewicz, +Clayton Williams, +Laura Rose Williams, +Andrew Moss, +Follow Me, And Die!, +Forest Ray (doubly so for making OSR Swag for the refs.) and all of the other OSR GMs. We can't run the track without you. I would also like to thank +Roy Snyder and +Doug Kovacs for coming out and setting up an awesome booth in the vendor room (and also for a fun time for the short while I played in Dougs spur of the moment game on Friday night.) Last, but not least, I would like to give a big thank you to our track sponsor +John Reyst of Open Gaming, without whom we wouldn't have had the funding to bring in Bill and Jim. Thank you all!
Below is a series of links to get an idea of how the weekend went!

Tales of Aeril

Tim Snider - Day 0

Tim Snider - Day 1

Tim Snider - Day 2

Tim Snider - Day 3

Larry Hamilton

From Clayton Williams G+ post:

We made it back from our first U-Con! We are exhausted, but fulfilled. U-Con left us with a warm sense of satisfaction and community provided by those who brought a wide breadth of personality, creativity, and kindness. I was impressed and glad to see the turnout from the OSR community at large.  It will be hard to summarize all the great experiences and people, but I will try!

1.) I was very happily surprised to join an impromptu session run by Bill Webb the night before the convention with comrades such as +Adam Muszkiewicz  (with support from mini Muszkiewicz), +Nicole Lindroos, +Tim Snider, +R.J. Thompson, and +Laura Rose Williams. It was a good time with a lot of laughs. Not every game features naked beetle riding checks and glow in the dark goo.

2.) A HUGE highlight of my day on Friday was being able to see a panel of OSR leaders and icons (Bill Webb, +Jim Wampler, +Tim Snider, Bill Barsh, +John Reyst) talk about past, present, and future RPG topics as they relate to cities and towns. The gleeful way in which they described how concepts have evolved over the years provided for both an interesting listen as well as a wealth of GM tools and resources. It made you want to be a kid again as they remembered old stories and players from the early days of gaming. Bill also subtly let us know there is a kickstarter that just started that relates:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/froggodgames/the-lost-lands-the-blight-richard-petts-crooked-ci. I would also like to thank the hosts +Adam Muszkiewicz  and +R.J. Thompson  for the event.

3.) I was able to participate in a playthrough of Titansgrave as GM’d by the talented +Nicole Lindroos  (Blue Rose -
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/504269797/blue-rose-the-age-roleplaying-game-of-romantic-fan). There was plenty of adventure, intrigue, and doughnuts to be found in the wastelands that day.

4.) I was also able to be a player in a game with +R.J. Thompson  He pitted brick, mortar, alligators, and much more against us in ..... It Lurks Below. You know it gets exciting when your thief kills your cleric (+James DeYonke)

5.) I made room for other players in a game ran by +Pete Schwab. I was happy to see his table overflowing with players. I will catch you next time Pete. This did allow me to jump into a Cryptworld game (Unquenchable) run by +Tim Snider . It was a great horror adventure that had us all on our toes for what was around the next corner. I would also like to think myself and +Follow Me, And Die! - Larry helped to keep Tim on his toes too. I mean who throws wolf carcasses. I also was happy with the d100/percentile roll system the game used. 1 chart and a pair of d10s is all you needed. If you like horror, post-apocalypse, and a simple mechanic system please check out more from Tim at

6.) We Hate Bards (
wehatebards.blogspot.com), what more can I say?! These are a great group of GM’s that put together fun sessions for all and bring PERSONALITY to the table. You will be challenged, You will probably die, but you will be smiling. I played 3 games (wished there was time for more), D20 Space Marines with Matt, Kobolds with Cris, Random Dungeon of Death with Luke.

7.) I got to check out Games-on-Demand, a new feature to U-Con that has potential. Roger introduced me to BEAR FORCE a Fate game that combines my love of the 80s cartoon GI-Joe and Bears!

8.) Every CON needs that crazy time, that time when you are pulled into something new. Something weird or strange and definitely out of your comfort zone. The CON AFTERDARK. Where you drink your drink and enjoy the ride wherever it goes. I had that (and look forward to it again).  I had an impromptu DCC session run by +Doug Kovacs  . I say run by, but what I really mean is Doug placed us in a world, a scene, too hardcore for HBO or anything you could or should film, but we rose to the challenge. We pulled up our pants (some of us) and faced off against the slutvonians and dredd sexbots to party another day. Doug also allowed for several GM swap ins by +Roy Snyder and +Andrew Moss. It was great! Fellow trippers included +Pete Schwab,  +Laura Rose Williams, and Kevin W. (See more into the mind and inspiration of Doug here
http://www.dougkovacs.com/ or in numerous DCC adventures.) (http://www.goodman-games.com/)

9.) I was able to run 2 playthroughs of my own DCC module, High Tide at GonGoLoor Bay. It was a great time! I was challenged, my players were challenged, and there was a lot of death. My highlight as a GM was when one of my players decided he wanted to go into the cave that was barred and locked tight with plenty of narrative that said this not the place to go, but when he rolls a natural 20 with a strength bonus as a peasant, you let him go. My players entered the sucking pit of nastiness (yes, title needs work, or maybe it doesn’t) where they we set upon by several leeches and I almost had a TPK which would have been great. So.. ok moving on….no wait... same player “I want to search”. (I have nothing written for the room to be found. It is just suppose to be a room of death) Ok, give me a search using your luck….1….its a 1 ….he beat his luck by 13... I roll up a  +1 intelligent short sword for him that is a holy sword to turn undead. This is all before the final big baddy battle. GM wipes forehead.
Players included +Edward Kabara

It was a great CON and I hope to see you all again there next year!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Swords & Wizardry Compatibility Logo Now Avaialble As A Free Download

In celebration of U-Con, today we are unveiling the downloadable version of the Swords & Wizardry Compatibility Logos, for publishers. All four versions now available for free, right here, at One Book Shelf.

Once U-Con is over, I will begin talking about 2016's Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day!

Friday, November 13, 2015

U-Con Special Release From Goodman Games!

Good afternoon! U-Con is one week away! Online Registration is now closed, but you can still show up and register at the door!
I'm happy to announce that we have a special U-Con release from Goodman that will debut at the convention. Dungeon Crawl Classic #84.2: Synthetic Swordsmen of the Purple Planet by our Goodman Games Industry Insider +Jim Wampler! The module will be available for purchase, and Jim will be available for autographs! Note that this is the same DCC game that Jim is running as Skymasters of the Purple Planet, so if you are playing Skymasters, you are playing this special release!
From Goodman Games:
Hello, Purple Planet fans!
There are many adventures still to be had on the Purple Planet. Such as this one! Visit the Goodman Games booth at U-Con (Nov. 20-22 in Ypsilanti, MI) to pick up your copy and have it autographed by author Jim Wampler!
Dungeon Crawl Classics #84.2: Synthetic Swordsmen of the Purple Planet
When even the native lifeforms of the Purple Planet begin to wither and die under the weirdling sun’s punishing rays, you and your party of interplanetary freebooters quickly conclude that something is going wrong with the very sky above your heads. What ancient mysteries lie in wait for you at the planet’s northern pole, as you explore the timeworn and failing biosphere plant found sprawling there amongst the ice peaks? Will you save your harsh but adopted home, or hasten its eventual doom?
This adventure features new background material that expands the campaign setting, including a new House of Ascended Masters, new weapons and ancient technology to plunder, and a surprising new species of Kith warriors.
Don't have a copy of DCC to play with? Check it out:
DCC RPG Core Rulebook Kickstarter: If you aren't already aware, you can get SIX free modules with the purchase of the DCC RPG core book in our current 4th printing Kickstarter. That's $100 in product for a $40 pledge. Even if you already have a copy of the core book, pick up an extra copy for your players just so you can get the free modules! Check out the Kickstarter here.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Goldenrod Guide To Combat Reviews, Designer Notes and Simulationist Rules

So, back on Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day 2015  +John Reyst of Pathfinder SRD and Swords & Wizardry SRD fame released my Goldenrod Guide: A Guide to Swords & Wizardry Combat (now available for purchase on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow) and it hit with little fanfare. Since then I have become aware of some reviews of the product, and feel that I should probably give some notes on my thought process in creating the guide.
First off, the reviews. I'm pulling the first from PFSRD itself, where the product was initially made available:
"Deadeye" wrote:
A good add-on for additional martial flexibility
This guide presents some new rules for Swords & Wizardry that are both useful to S&W GMs and also enticing to players of more mainstream fantasy games who might miss some of the granular nuance of modern d20 systems when they play retroclones. It's a great buy for the price if you enjoy the streamlined ease of play S&W offers compared
to D&D 3rd Edition or Pathfinder, but still want to include elements like individual initiative, more in-depth rules for two-weapon and two-handed fighting, combat styles that simulate the abilities of OGL martial classes, weapon specialization, and rudimentary attacks of opportunity. There is also a section on running archery and jousting tournaments. The editing of the product could be better, but the content is solid. If you want a slightly crunchier S&W experience when steel is bared and initiative is rolled, it's well worth the price.

+Follow Me, And Die! had a review directly on the blog:

Follow Me And Die!

Just yesterday, +Eric Fabiaschi wrote a great review. I think that Eric really gets the angle that I was coming at this thing from. You can read his review here on his blog:

Swords & Stitchery

Now to share a bit of how I came at this thing. Not much, but just to give a little taste of my process, which might help you to understand the work itself. It is likely clear that I don't like anything too crunchy in my games. My favorite RPG at present IS Swords & Wizardry, so it should be apparent. That said, I like my games to be somewhat simulationist. See, I'm that guy that actually likes the idea of encumbrance rules (I just don't think they have been done quite right... yet) and keeping track of consumable equipment. I like my games to simulate an adventurer's life in the setting that it is being run in. Therefore I like my rules to have a "real feel" to them. While combat overall would get too bogged down by feeling overly real (thus taking to long to resolve) I felt that it could feel a bit more simulationist in areas. Of course a feeling of simulation can come from descriptions in play by both referees and players, I like the mechanics emulate the action, in a way. This may be a part of why I was never quite comfortable with the mechanics of the D20 system. It was all the same, nothing was different, nothing felt like an emulation of what was happening in a game. It was too gamey and not simulationist enough.
As for common rules that already have this, one of the best examples is the ability to turn undead. Nearly all editions and clones have some variant on this, and it is almost universally it's own mechanic. The mechanic works differently than the mechanic for hitting a foe or the mechanic for picking a lock. It says "You hold up your holy symbol and..." You make your checks, and the mechanic has it's own "feel." You know and "feel" that you are holding up your holy symbol to avert evil when you make these checks, because they have their own little system. I borrowed this for using the elder sign, as the two are similar, and thus should feel similar mechanically. As for another rule I made free to the public, my lycanthropic ritual rule uses existing rules in concert with "fluff" to give a feel that a diabolical ritual is actually being performed.
So when it came to the Guide to Combat, I drew upon similar ideas. When you lock shields to form a shield wall, it should feel like you are in a shield wall. When you joust, it should feel like you're jousting, or tilting at rings or shooting at a target or anything else you can think of! Similarly, this is why I streamlined the AD&D idea of weapon proficiencies. They are slightly less fiddly than what TSR produced back in the day, but they give a real simulationist feel that your character has trained with something. As for the aforementioned jousting rules, I liberally borrowed from Chainmail, which already presented a great system for simulating jousts, and gave it a few tweaks. I believe that it is a very solid jousting simulation as it stands now.
So, if adding a bit of simulation to combat appeals to you, click the link I supplied above to DriveThruRPG and pick up a copy from John. It's less than $3.00 and I can almost guarantee that I have something in there you will be interested in lifting.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

U-Con OSR Track Guest of Honor Spotlight! FINAL DAYS OF PRE-REG


Hey there! Just in case you've missed it, +Bill Webb will be the Guest of Honor at the OSR Track at U-Con in just a few short weeks! Bill got really ambitious with his two evening games and opened them up to UP TO 20 PLAYERS PER GAME! That leaves a lot of room! If you're a fan for Frog God Games, and want the chance to play with Bill, get thee to the registry now! We are still in Pre-registry mode right now, and that means CHEAPER PASSES than you will get at the door. Pre-reg is open through Friday Nov. 6th, so now is the time to register, if you have not done so! Check out Bill's events below, along with some special news regarding AUTOGRAPH SESSIONS! Bill doesn't get out to Michigan ofter (er... ever) so this is a great opportunity if you can't get to the cons that he typically attends!
OSR Discussion Panel: Old School City Scapes Roundtable Panel, GM: Ryan Thompson, 60 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 6p-8p. Come gather round and take part in a round table style panel with the OSR Track's Guest of Honor Bill Webb (Frog God Games), Industry Insider Jim Wampler (Goodman Games), our track's sponsor John Reyst (PFSRD.com), along with Tim Snider (Goblinoid Games) and Michigan's own Bill Barsh (Pacesetter Games). We will discuss cities and their importance in old school gaming from the earliest days to the OSR as it is today. Time permitting discussion and Q&A will be allowed with the audience. Hosted by Gamers & Grognards' Ryan Thompson and RPG Podcaster Adam Muszkiewicz (Drink Spin Run). Family Friendly (7+) Free!
Swords & Wizardry Invades Michigan - The Maze of Eternity, GM: Bill Webb, 20 players, Some XP/Simple, Friday 8p-2a. There is no school like the old school! Late Night Swords and Wizardry with grognard GM Bill Webb of Frog God Games. Travel back to the dawn of the game where character generation took 2 minutes (which is good, because you die a lot!), there was no such thing as a spot check, dwarves and elves were classes, not just races, and a +1 sword was a wonder! In this session, expect a dungeon crawl adventure where you better bring your imagination and your thinking cap. Drawn from Bill’s devious mind, expect lots of puzzles, traps and unkillable monsters. The adventure this year is focused on solving a chess match of riddles of a lich’s tomb complex, hopefully defeating it and claiming the treasure. Oh yeah—most of the player characters are first level! You can roll up characters at the table. Rules (the very few that there are) will generally follow those in Swords and Wizardry White Box and Bill Webb's book of Dirty Tricks (available online at the Frog God Games website--and the rulebook pdf is free!). All character generation is 3d6 in order, although stats cap at +1/-1 on bonus and penalty, and are thus, mostly irrelevant. Bill's games are well known for having high fatality rates and extremely difficult puzzles and traps. If you play in both sessions, experience points and treasure carry over to the next night. If you have a character from Dallas or PaizoCon’s events (or bring yours from this year next year), the same applies. You never know who might show up at Bill's table. There are occasional special guests with names you just may have heard before. Games start promptly at 830 (800 if you need a character), and run until Bill falls over or runs out of whiskey. Kids are welcome (there will be a couple there already), as long as they can handle the time of night and have basic skills. Bring a 20-sided die, a few 6-siders and a miniature or three. All other materials provided (BYOB). Prizes: First to die, MVP (voted by players), Best Roleplayer, Best Rollplayer. Family Friendly (7+) $4.50
Dinner with Bill Webb, GM: Bill Webb, 10 players, Some XP/Simple, Saturday 6p-8p. It is our Guest of Honor's Birthday! Come celebrate with us. Attendees are responsible for their own meals/drinks. Family Friendly (7+) Free!
Swords & Wizardry Invades Michigan - Ragnarok?, GM: Bill Webb, 20 players, Some XP/Simple, Saturday 8p-12a. No school like the old school! Late Night Swords and Wizardry with grognard GM Bill Webb of Frog God Games. Travel back to the dawn of the game where character generation took 2 minutes (which is good, because you die a lot!), there was no such thing as a spot check, dwarves and elves were classes, not just races, and a +1 sword was a wonder! This session is a wilderness adventure that starts with the players landing their longship on a strange island for repairs, having been blown off course by a storm. What they find is beyond the worst terrors of anyone nightmares. What evil lurks in the heart of the forest? Dark shadows and stone beasts from the end of time lead the way! You can roll up characters at the table. Rules (the very few that there are) will generally follow those in Swords and Wizardry White Box and Bill Webb's book of Dirty Tricks (available online at the Frog God Games website--and the rulebook pdf is free!). All character generation is 3d6 in order, although stats cap at +1/-1 on bonus and penalty, and are thus, mostly irrelevant. Bill's games are well known for having high fatality rates and extremely difficult puzzles and traps. If you play in both sessions, experience points and treasure carry over to the next night. If you have a character from GenCon, Dallas or PaizoCon's events (or bring yours from Friday night's game), the same applies. You never know who might show up at Bill's table. There are occasional special guests with names you just may have heard before. Games start promptly at 8:30 (8:00 if you need a character), and run until Bill falls over or runs out of whiskey. Kids are welcome (there will be a couple there already), as long as they can handle the time of night and have basic skills. Bring a 20-sided die, a few 6-siders and a miniature or three. All other materials provided (BYOB). Family Friendly (7+) $3.00
Additionally Bill will be popping into the Open Gaming/D20PFSRD Booth to do book signings (free of charge is the word on the street) throughout the weekend! +John Reyst will have a huge catalog of Frog God Games product, and Necromancer 5E product available for sale at the booth!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Swords & Wizardry Compatibility Logo - Retouched!

Alright folks. Short post here. I retouched and made new versions of the Swords & Wizardry Compatibility Logo that we released back on Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day 2015. I intend to host the logo, in it's various formats, over at DriveThruRPG.com under the same Creative Commons Attribution we originally released the logo under. I've already gotten the seal of approval from +Matt Finch and we are ready to go. I'll have them hosted by the end of the week. Here's a preview of what will be hosted. Personally, I'm a big fan of the pencil and colored pencil look. Seems like I might have drawn something similar on a folder back in junior high while thinking about the campaign rather than algebra.


Creative Commons LicenseSwords & Wizardry Compatibility Logo by Christopher Arendt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Ghosts - The Incorporeal Undead From James Mishler Games - ON SALE THROUGH HALLOWEEN!

Well, I have finally gotten my hands on it and this is a great little piece of work. Designed for Labyrinth Lord, this will work great with Swords & Wizardry as well, based upon it's "do it yourself" style ghost entry in Monstrosities. I've only had the chance to glance at the PDF, but this has some great stuff for designing ghosts appropriate to you game. Various abilities for different types of ghosts and entries on things such as ectoplasm as a spell components are here! I'll try to get a full review up soon. If you ever intend to have incorporeal undead in your game, this book is well worth getting. If you grab it now, it is MORE THAN 50% off the cover price at $6.66 through Halloween! Grab it while you can get it at this price. It is well worth it. You can buy it right here! Here is a sampling of what you will get, from the DriveThruRPG listing:

On sale for $6.66 through Halloween!
Ghosts – The Incorporeal Undead includes everything needed to develop and use ghosts in your Labyrinth Lord campaign.
Deadly Details on Fear Attacks and Life Draining Touch!
Eerie Information on the Incorporeal powers of ghosts and other Undead Special Abilities!
Full disclosure on the Sinister Sixth Sense, Scary Sensitives, and Mysterious Mediums!
Ten different base ghostly types, covering each hit die from 1 to 10 hit dice, with countless thousands of combinations of 75 different ghostly special abilities!
Secrets of the uses and dangers of Uncanny Ectoplasm!
An expose of Eerie Enchanted Items!
Scads of rulings on Spooky Spells, new and old!
And a (relatively complete) Creepy Appendix N!
What more can you ask for?
How about protection from the Terrifying Table of Contents of…
  Fear Attack
     Fear Effects Table
     Spawn Ghost
     Powerless in Sunlight
     Weapon Immunity
  Life Draining Touch
     Spawn Ghost
  Undead Special Abilities Package
     Poison Immunity
     Silent as the Grave
     Susceptible to Turning
  Other Special Abilities
     Special Ability Notation
  Incorporeal Undead Summary Table

  Presence (1 HD Lesser Ghost)
  Apparition (2 HD Lesser Ghost)
  Lost Soul (3 HD Lesser Ghost)
  Wraith (4 HD Greater Ghost)
  Haunt (5 HD Greater Ghost)
  Spectre (6 HD Greater Ghost)
  Spirit (7 HD Greater Ghost)
  Wyrd (8 HD Greater Ghost)
  Phantom (9 HD Greater Ghost)
  Geist (10 HD Greater Ghost)

  Ghostly Special Abilities
  Uncanny Ectoplasm
  Eerie Enchanted Items
  Spooky Spells
  Creepy Appendix N

List of Ghostly Special Abilities
Acid Ghost
Alien Ghost
Ancestral Ghost
Animal Ghost
Animate Corpse
Armored Ghost
Blinking Ghost
Bloody Ghost
Chained Ghost [Earthly Remains]
Chained Ghost [Location]
Child Ghost
Create Remnants
Cursed Ghost
Damned to Walk the Earth
Demon Ghost
Dream Killer
Drowned Ghost
Drunken Ghost
Ectoplasmic Blast
Ectoplasmic Touch
Embodied Ghost
Entropic Attack
Environmental Ghost
Fast Ghost
Fiery Ghost
Fortean Apportation
Friendly Ghost
Frightening Ghost
Frost Ghost
Ghost Lover
Ghost Magician
Ghost Object
Ghost Priest
Ghost Ship
Ghost Sovereign
Ghostly Head
Guardian Ghost
Headless Ghost
Hungry Ghost
Keening Ghost
Laser Ghost
Lifelike Ghost
Lightning Ghost
Material Susceptibility
Monster Ghost
Nanny Ghost
Negative Energy Blast
Nightmare Ghost
Object Animator
Pipeweed Ghost
Plague Ghost
Poison Ghost
Possess the Living
Radioactive Ghost
Robotic Ghost
Shackled Ghost [Item]
Shrouded Ghost
Skull Thrower Ghost
Special Immunity
Spectral Music
Spectral Steed
Stuck in Time
Tasked Ghost
Thunder Ghost
Trickster Ghost
Unwitting Ghost
Vengeful Ghost
Wandering Ghost
Warning Ghost [White Lady]
Wind Ghost

Designed for use with Labyrinth Lord, compatible with most Old School style fantasy and science-fantasy RPGs

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Octhorrorfest: Possession and Obssession For Your Old School Fantasy and Horror Campaign

Let's get right to it and get into the nitty gritty of these things. The idea of possession has been fairly well understood since the release of The Exorcist in 1973. Possession, of course, is the act of a spirit (demon, ghost, etc.) dominating and controlling an individuals body. Obsession is an attack by a spiritual entity or magical creature from without the individuals body. This is often a form of mind control in which the entity holds sway over the victim. Often the obsessed will become literally "obsessed" with it's attacker, often falling into to cultus of said entity doing the entities bidding by accomplishing tasks that the obssessor cannot accomplish by itself.. This features prominently in many of the Hammer Horror Dracula films. In literature the character R. M. Renfield, from Bram Stoker's Dracula,  is an obsessed follower of Dracula.

Klove, an obsessed servant of Dracula - from Hammer Films Dracula, Prince of Darkness

It has always struck me as odd that these things are so often either neglected in D&D and it's simulacra, or simply cast aside by the use of similar spells (obsession, in the vampiric sense, being typically attributed to a charm person spell.) Here I present you with my house rules for possession and obsession.

Any spirit, demon or devil may attempt to possess a victim. To do so the spirit must first make a saving throw with a penalty of the charisma bonus (if any) of the victim. If the roll is a success the victim is allowed a saving throw to avoid the possession with a penalty equal to the spirit/demon's hit dice. Protection spells already in place may modify these rolls at the referee's discretion. If the possessor succeeds and the victim fails his save, the possession is successful and the spirit has full control of the victim's body. Once per hit die per day the possessed may attempt to stop his body from taking an action attempted by the possessor spirit. This attempt suffers are cumulative penalty of -2 for each week that passes. This does not break the possession. Only an action denoted as an exorcism by the referee may break the possession. The spirit may relinquish control as it sees fit, but after gaining control, may always take control again at any time, presuming that a successful exorcism is not performed.


An obsessed vampire cultist helps a new vampire rise - from Hammer Films The Brides of Dracula

Many creatures, from demons to greater vampires and any other entities that the referee deems may cause an individual to become obsessed. Obsession may be attempted in various ways dependent upon the individual entity. In some cases obsession is caused by a gaze, in others telepathic communication (powerful vampires and demon princes have this ability) or something as simple as a touch. An entity attempting for cause obsession in a victim  must first make a saving throw with a penalty of the charisma bonus (if any) of the victim. If the roll is a success the victim is allowed a saving throw to avoid the obsession with a penalty equal to the entities hit dice. Protection spells already in place may modify these rolls at the referee's discretion, just as in the case of possession. If successful the creature causing the obsession gains a telepathic link to the obsessed by which it's suggestions can be made, even over a great distance. In the early stages the obsessed can attempt to fight the suggestions. This is done by making a saving throw, modified by a penalty of the obsessors hit dice. This may be done once per day per hit die of the obsessed. An attempt to break the obsession may be made a number of times per week per hit die of the obsessed. Success is determined in the same manner as attempts to fight suggestions Each failed attempt adds an additional penalty of -1 to the next attempt. If the total penalty reaches the hit dice of the obsessed character, they become an utter thrall of the obsessing entity, unless exorcised.


Basic Psioncs Handbook Now On Sale!

Wow. The past couple of weeks have been horrible for my bank account. Normally I wouldn't throw out so much "advertising" but there are so many things I'm excited about right now, I have to share with other gamers. Two great Kickstarters between the Lost Lands Borderlands Provinces and the 4th printing of the DCC RPG Rulebook have kicked off! They both look awesome. Then a re-release of The Tekumel Sourcebook (a product that I have wanted for a looong time) was announced, and at a very affordable POD price!
Now +Richard LeBlanc has released a book I've been anticipating for about as long as he's been working on it. That's right the Basic Psionics Handbook is finally out! I love Richard's stuff. His D30 DMs Companion and D30 Sandbox Companion are among the best Referee resources available in gaming. His classes, as they appear on his blog, never fail to disappoint. He really gets B/X D&D. I have no doubts that his latest release is superb. I will absolutely be pick it up this week. If you want it in PDF, now would be the time for you as well, Richard had announced that it will be available at a discounted price of $5.99 for a limited time, over at RPGNow/Drivethru RPG!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mega Sale At One Book Shelf/RPGnow

I noticed today that RPGNOW/Drivethru RPG/One Book Shelf is having a HUGE Halloween sale. They currently have 33% off on over 2000 PDFs. There is a ton of Old School Goodness in there. Lots of Call of Cthulhu goodness, along with some great OSR titles, including Barrowmaze Complete at under $25.00. I'm pretty excited about that one, as I missed out on the Kickstarter. I'll definitely be taking advantage of this, and also grabbing a copy of Ghosts - The Incorporeal Undead from James Mishler Games, as I'm hearing very good things about it, and +James Mishler puts out great stuff. If I'm lucky, I'll have time to read it this week and get a review up before Halloween. But if you want to check out the sale in it's entirety, just click right here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Tekumel Sourcebook Is Back!

It's an exciting week in Kickstarters and releases! A piece of work that I have wanted for a long time (in an affordable format) has been re-released. That's right, you probably already know about it. The Tekumel Foundation has re-released  The Tekumel Sourcebook, Swords & Glory Vol. 1 in PDF and POD! AND it's only $29.95 for a hardcover. That's a good price for a hardcover game book these days. Not to mention that price is only $10.00 higher than the PDF. Need a PDF AND hard copy at the table? Only $5.00 to add the PDF to the bundle. Not half bad for such a great piece of gaming history.
From the The Tekumel Foundation
The Tekumel Sourcebook, Swords & Glory Vol. 1, is now available in PDF, hardcover and softcover printings from DriveThruRPG.com!  This edition is a reprint of the original Gamescience edition, with the following changes and additions:
  • The original full-color box cover art has been reproduced on the cover, instead of the blue single-color cover
  • Notes about the Gamescience and later editions have been added on the frontispiece page
  • A new index and glossary have been added
  • The original back cover art has been reproduced on the new back cover (see below)
The Foundation will be releasing the maps from the Swords & Glory, Vol. 1 boxed set in the near future, to go along with the re-release of The Tekumel Sourcebook.  The original maps from Empire of the Petal Throne may be used in conjunction with The Tekumel Sourcebook.  You may purchase the print version of the Sourcebook along with the PDF as a DriveThruRPG bundle (nb: you may need to log in to view the Sourcebook).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

More Love For the Lost Lands and The Borderlands Provinces From Frog God Games

So, I've said time and again that I LOVE the Lost Lands from Frog God Games. I've loved the setting since it was revealed in various D20 Supplements over 10 years ago. I've recently talked about it here. I love their house game, Swords & Wizardry in all three of it's wonderful flavors. I've even gotten some combat house rules for it published in Goldenrod Guides, A Guide to Combat (published by Open Gaming) which is now also available right here at Drivethru RPG. I like +Matt Finch and I like +Bill Webb. So, it should come as no surprise that I'm promoting another great product from these guys. This one, however, really feels like home to me.
When I got into roleplaying games D&D, both Basic and Advanced were at the forefront. There were definitely other influences there, as well. Chief among these was Games Workshop's "Old World." I probably first saw it through the lens of the Milton Bradley version of Heroquest, but it grew on me quickly. I loved the entire grimdark feel it had. I loved ideas that they wrote about in modules like "The Enemy Within" and "Something Rotten In Kislev." I loved the idea of Realm of Chaos and the Cults that were hidden right in the heart of The Empire itself! Artists like Gary Chalk influenced my D&D games as much if not more than Jeff Easley or Larry Elmore (who was splattered over half of every cover TSR put out in those days.) This grimdark world gave me a love for fantasy that felt like it. Every one of my cities had a dayside and a nightside filled with thieves guilds and shady transactions. That brings me around to the latest Kickstarter in the Lost Lands product line: The Lost Lands: Borderland Provinces.
The cover of the setting book looks like it could be "Greyhawk Dark" and that in and of itself isn't a bad thing. But the second book and the description being given to The Lost Lands setting is really where it's at. Take a look at this cover.

That, is the "nightside" I was talking about earlier. Couple that with this description, as taken from Matt's latest blog entry, "Dark Medieval" Fantasy in the Borderland Provinces :

What do people mean when they talk about “Dark Medieval” as a way of describing the Borderland Provinces, or the Lost Lands, or Necromancer Games books? At a surface glance, the world looks fairly traditional: there are elves, there are halflings, there are wizards … what’s the big deal? How is that “dark?”
Basically, Frog God Games offers a “film noir” version of escapist fantasy, in contrast to Tolkien’s epic and folkloric approach to the same genre. Our adventures tend to have lots of horrific elements underlying the apparent reality, which is why you’ll often see us saying, “All is not as it seems” when we’re talking about the Lands. Where the Forgotten Realms have a strong tendency toward high fantasy and heroism, our world is a bit … well … ickier.
One of the strong themes of the campaign is that beneath the civilized veneer of things, there is actually a seething mass of rot, evil, heresy, and supernatural threat. Again, “all is not as it seems.” The Borderland Provinces campaign book, as a supplement, has more focus on the actual veneer than an adventure book. What does the “normal” world look like when I’m not in one of these dungeons? So there is a lot of material about culture, history, trade, and government that would be a bit boring if it weren’t for the fact that it’s written in a way to best drive the game master’s creativity about what kinds of adventures arise from that context. And of course, it also reveals a lot of information about what’s beneath that veneer, a peek into the aforementioned seething mass of rot, evil, heresy, and supernatural threat.
The Adventures in the Borderland Provinces book, of course, is all about the dark underbelly and nothing about the veneer. I'll have more to say about that book later.
This has high appeal for me. This sits very well with what I like in my fantasy. I've liked it in the other Lost Lands products, but this seems like it may very well become my favorite. Plus, they're putting it out in the three big D&D flavors, 5th Edition, Pathfinder and (my favorite) Swords & Wizardry/OSR! What are you waiting for? Follow the link I have above and let's make this thing take flight!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Octhorrorfest: Appendix Nspriation, Michael Whelan, Lovecraft's Nightmare

Not a lot of time to get a post up this week, but the week isn't done. To ensure something for Octhorrorfest this week, I figured I would share one of my favorite Michael Whelan pieces, Lovecraft's Nightmare parts 1 and 2. When looking at weird fiction and weird fantasy, I find these macabre images highly inspirational. The tree in particular has produced many similar trees in my campaign worlds, one being the center piece in an adventure that some readers are familiar with called "Fear of the Dark.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Octhorrorfest; Curing Characters Afflicted With Vampirism For Old School Fantasy and Horror Games

Vampiric Affliction; How It Works

It is well known that those bitten by a vampire, shall rise as a vampire. There is often confusion about how this works. From a folkloric standpoint, the affliction/curse can be transferred from a bite or drinking the blood of a vampire. In many games, especially D&D and it's derivatives, anyone killed by a vampire will become one, under the Master's control. But how do the metaphysics of the affliction actually work?

When a vampire bites someone an unholy "venom" enters into the victim's  bloodstream. If the victim dies while this "venom" is still active, they will rise as a vampire under the control of the vampire who had originally cause the wound. This is what gave rise to the idea that a victim will become a vampire after being bitten a given number of times (typically three.) In these cases the vampire feeds upon the same victim night after night until they are drained of blood and die, then rising as a vampire themselves. Of course, dying in any way while the "venom" is in the victim will cause them to rise as a vampire.

Curing the Affliction

There are at least two ways to cure the affliction, if caught before death. In either case, a saving throw or constitution check (referee's discretion) to overcome the affliction. The first way to remove the affliction is to apply a poultice made of 3 parts garlic to 1 part silver to the wound every hour until the "venom" is neutralized. This would require a save/check each time the poultice is applied.

The second cure requires holy water. This method is demonstrated by Van Helsing in the film "The Brides of Dracula" from Hammer Horror.  First, the bite must be cauterized with hot steel. Following this holy water should be poured over the wound. The holy water instantly removes the affliction when this ritual cure is performed.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Octhorrorfest: The Elder Sign, Turning the Outer Dark For Old School Fantasy and Horror Games

We all know that the original cleric's "turn undead" ability comes directly from the famous scene in Hammer's Horror of Dracula in which Van Helsing creates a makeshift cross to drive the count back into the sunlight, destroying him.
Turning undead has become a staple in D&D starting at the very beginning. But there is something else, directly from the horror inspirations of Appendix N itself, that allows protection and, possibly turning. I am speaking, of course of the Elder Sign. At the moment, I am only going to focus on the hand gestures and the version of the sigil as referred to by H.P. Lovecraft himself. I am ignoring Derleth's pentagram version outright.

We know that some Elder Signs (yes there are likely multiple) are used to ward of the terrors presented in Lovecraftian fiction.

"In some places they was little stones strewed abaout—like charms—with somethin’ on ’em like what ye call a swastika naowadays. Prob’ly them was the Old Ones’ signs." H.P. Lovecraft, The Shadow Over Innsmouth

"At another house, where people were stirring, he asked questions about the gods, and whether they danced often upon Lerion; but the farmer and his wife would only make the Elder Sign and tell him the way to Nir and Ulthar." -  H.P. Lovecraft, The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath

Here we have a case for the ability of  an Elder Sign, or THE Elder Sign being able to ward off "evil" in some way. One of these is obviously a mark of some sort. It is referenced as being like a swastika. I believe that this means that it is runic in nature, as opposed to a more stylized sigil. The second is obviously a hand sign, and is mentioned as such in other works, though not in a protective manner. This again leads me to believe that there is more than one Elder Sign, but I digress.

One such Elder Sign, and I believe it to be a protective one, is actually drawn by Lovecraft himself in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith.

“Again thanking you in Tsathoggua’s name for the recent shipment, & hoping to see more items from your pen ere long, I append the Elder Sign & the Seal of N’gah, given in the Dark Cycle of Y’hu.”

He then signed his name as “Ec’h-Pi-El” and drew both of the figures mentioned above. We are here only concerned with the Elder Sign. Which he drew this way:

Interestingly, Lovecraft's Elder Sign, IS a way of writing a specific rune! See the chart of FUTHARK Runes below.
The 18th Rune, Berkanan/Bjarkan, when written as "tree script," is a clear depiction of the elder sign. This cipher makes hatch marks denoting the row of the rune on the left side of the "trunk" and the column of the rune on the right. This rune means "Birch" and as such is often related to birth, healing and protection/sanctuary. That's right. The rune that looks like the Elder Sign is a protective rune. Interesting, no? It is no stretch of the imagination to see this Elder Sign as one which can ward of eldritch horrors.
The hand sign (also due to the rune's placement in the FUTHARK "alphabet") is one, I believe which holds three fingers downward (row) and two upward (column.) There is, again, a real world parallel to this. This parallel is the Mano Cornuto, or "Sign of the Horns," which many will recognize as the "Metal Sign." In folklore this has long been believed to ward of evil and curses, such as the evil eye.
Turning the Outer Dark

So, we have this little bit of folk magic to drop into a game. How does it work and what is the ruling on using the Elder Sign for turning creatures of the Outer Dark? Very simple. Any character of any class may attempt to turn the outer dark. Use the cleric's turning table from your chosen game for this. 
When a character attempts to turn and eldritch horror they must first make a "fear save" (use save vs. magic with no modifiers) to pull it together enough to accomplish the task. If they succeed they make the Elder Sign (hand sign) To determine what level the turning is at, take the number that the save is made by and divide it by 2, rounding down. The turn attempt is made at this level. Example, a Shoggoth shambles down the hall toward your thief. The thief makes the Elder Sign and rolls her saving throw. Her save is 13 and she rolls 17. This is 4 higher than the required save. Dividing the result in half, we get a turning level of 2. Roll a D20 on the turning table to see how many hit dice are turned, just as a cleric turning undead. The thief in this instance rolls a 13, allowing her to turn 3 HD worth of eldritch horrors. The Shoggoth has far more hit dice, and is thus unaffected. Very unfortunate for your thief. Hope you had the will on your character sheet filled out.
 Graven Image: The Elder Sign
Now, on to inscribing the sigil form of the Elder Sign. Anyone can create this charm in exactly the same fashion that anyone can use the hand sign. Engraving stone, wood etc, with a successful check of course, will make the amulet effective for 1 day per level of the character who creates it. The Elder sign can be inscribed upon anything. If carried, no eldritch horror (of designated hit dice) may  attack the bearer (unless attacked first, thus negating the properties of the sign.) Additionally, if hung over a threshold, eldritch horrors may not enter into it. A magic-user capable of crafting amulets may also create such a talisman, but the hit dice affected are not rounded down, and the effects of the amulet are permanent unless dispelled.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Octhorrorfest: Lycanthropy Without Tears, A Rite of Lycanthropy For Old School Fantasy and Horror Games

It's that time of year again folks. To kick off the Hallows season, I'm going to give you something vile for your villains! The Rites of Lycanthropy! Where statistics are needed, Swords & Wizardry rules are used.
Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright. -The Wolf Man (1942)
Now it is well established in lore that one can be come a Were(insert animal here) through a curse or through infection, typically through the bite of a lycanthrope. What happens if a character (pc or npc) seeks in insanity, vengeance or greed, to become a lycanthrope through choice? Is it possible? Of course it is. Most things are possible through ritual magic, in a fantasy game.
If a character is so driven, and discovers this method, the ritual is quite simple, though there is a price to be paid. The desire to become a lycanthrope is, in itself a chaotic inclination. The Taint of Chaos is upon any who undertake such a rite. The ritual entails a magical ointment, a Demon Prince or Duke of Hell willing to offer their "help" as a patron in the transformation and an age old incantation. Needless to say, any undertaking this rite become chaotic in alignment.
First, the candidate must gather all of these ingredients and heat them in a cauldron to produce the ointment. How easy these herbs and other ingredients are to obtain is up to the referee. The gathering of the first ingredient itself is a vile and chaotic act.
* fat from disinterred children
* hemlock
* aconite
* poplar leaves
* soot or cowbane
* sweet flag
* cinquefoil
* bat's blood
* deadly nightshade
* oil
*a belt of the skin of a wolf (other animal) to be worn as the only article of clothing during the ritual
The candidate must then draw a thaumaturgical circle upon the night of the full moon and petition the dark patron that they have chosen to call upon, once the ointment has boiled. An offering appropriate to the patron should be used to entice the demon/devil. Then the incantation is given:
"Make me a werewolf! Make me a man-eater!
Make me a werewolf! Make me a child-eater!
Make me a werewolf! Make me a woman-eater!
I pine for blood! human blood!
Give it to me! Give it to me tonight!
(name of demon/devil)! Give it to me, and heart, body, and soul, I am yours!"
A saving throw is made. If successful the patron hears the plea. It is the referee's decision as to whether or not the otherworldly being actually appears and aids the candidate. If successful, at this point, a pact will be made between the candidate and the patron. If the patron accepts, it shall bestow the "gift" of lycanthropy upon the candidate.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

State of the Blog Address (Or Keeping Up With This Guy...)

So, many of you may have noticed a distinct lack of blogging over the past month or so. You deserve an explanation. This time of year gets pretty busy for me as it is, with my kid returning to school and U-Con scheduling, but this year we are also moving. For about a month we've been prepping, and in the past two weeks seriously prepping for the move. Painting the girls' rooms, tearing up old carpet, moving smallish things and odds & ends. For a while now my schedule has been, get up, go to work, go home, pack, move stuff/get new house ready. In between this I've been getting some level of work done for the convention. After having a few good sessions in the new Keep on the Borderlands game (more on that later) we had to go on hiatus again for the move. Luckily, the final move (furniture etc.) is this Saturday! After that there should be some adjustment/unpacking time and things should get back to normal.
What does that mean for the future? More time for games and more time to generate content (both game content and blog content.) For the blog, I intend to get an "Octhorror" post up at least once a week for the month of October, leading up to Halloween/Hallows. I've done it in the past with Hump-Day Hildebrandt stuff. This year I plan on some content and some Appendix Nspiration stuff. Be on the lookout for that. Additionally, expect some reports on how things are going in the B2 campaign, including some info I owe you from the past couple of sessions.
As far as actual content. Due to several things, I'm moving away from having things in the "Goldenrod Conventions/Guides" pdfs. There may be some PDFs in the future, but I'm now looking at a different sort of product. A bigger fuller product. It may be a while in coming, but I believe it will be called "Gateway to Adventure." I intend for this to be in the vein of "Goldenrod Guides: a Guide to Combat for Swords & Wizardry," But as a complete guide, with rulings for many applications including alternates and new classes, races etc.
If you want to see what you can expect from my optional rules ahead of time the Guide to Combat is still available and can be purchased direct through Open Gaming, using the link on the right hand side of this page OR if you have an account it can now be purchased at: