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Friday, June 9, 2017

Simple Cantrip Rules For Swords & Wizardry and OD&D

Cantrip is an archaic word originally meant to define a trick performed by witchery. Later it was used to mean a malicious trick or a sham. In recent years (at least since the publication of the AD&D version of "Unearthed Arcana") it has come into usage in fantasy role playing to mean a bit of minor magic. This is typically in the form of 0 level spells in D&D and it's simulacra. I like the idea of a magic user having access to spells that are useful little utilitarian spells that do not have major effects. That said, I don't believe that these effects should be individual spells themselves. I like the idea that a Vancian mage could memorize a spell and siphon off some of it's power without releasing the spell. This does not work with divinely granted magic like that of a cleric or druid.
How are we going to make this work? Well, this takes bargaining between the referee and the player. A mage can attempt to cause a minor magical effect based upon the effect of any spell currently memorized (or known spells not expended in the case of my sorcerer class.) For example, a mage with fireball written may want to light a pipe from his finger. A witch being bothered by a would be suitor may want to make him drowsy, heading off to bed, without expending the full effect of the spell and making him not off there and then. Likewise a sorceress with telekinesis may want to cause a bell that she can see ring, or wind chimes sound, without using the full effect of her spell. Minor effects like this might be allowed without question (possibly allowing a saving throw for the chap that is getting drowsy.)
Occasionally a player may want to make a cantrip a little more powerful. If this is allowed it should only be allowed once prior to expending the spell, and be possible to fail at. For an example, let's look at the fellow who lit his pipe with a fireball based cantrip. He may want to use that fireball for other things. He may want it to deal damage with it, to a lesser extent, than normal. Perhaps he is in close quarters and wants to reduce it to a 1d6 "firebolt" cantrip focusing on one enemy? Or maybe he and his companions are in a cold region and cannot light a fire. In this instance, perhaps he wants to use it to generate heat? These things are more game affecting than using the cantrip to light a fire or pipe. The referee can, of course, just rule that these sorts of things are not possible. Alternatively this could be allowed, but making an attribute check based upon the caster's prime requisite. My Power attribute could be substituted, if it were being used. If the check were successful, the effect could go off. Note that as stated before, more powerful cantrips should be of limited use. If the check fails, however, a saving throw should be made at a penalty of the spell's level. If the save passes, the effect does not occur. If the save is failed, the spell is expended for the day as if it were cast normally.
Let me know what you think. I've been playing around with this for a while.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Swords & Wizardry Picks From the OSR Extravaganza Sale

Seeing as I am a strong supporter of Swords & Wizardry in both it's "official" and third party formats, I thought I would drop a post to highlight some of the awesome products on sale during the OSR Extravaganza Sale! There is some good stuff, and some at a far deeper discount than the standard 15% that the sale is offering! So, what are my S&W picks?

First of all, let me highlight a couple of larger deals happening.

+James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games has the vast majority of his catalog marked at 20% off or better. That means that you can have a plethora of White Box and White Star goodness at a deep discount! Did I mention he just release issue #1 of Star Sword Magazine, the official magazine of White Star? You can see everything James has to offer right here!

The OTHER Spahn, that is to say +Pete Spahn, also has a really great deal in the White Box family of games right now. It's a great deal, if you have yet to pick up WWII: Operation White Box. If your itching for some World War II or Weird War II action, this is where you want to be. In this bundle, you Get OWB in hardcover, premium color along with a copy in softcover for table use, the pdf and three modules to kick off your campaign! About $65 of product for only $44.99. You can grab this deal here.

 Now let's take a look as some new classes for your S&W Game. These are pretty cool.

+Mark Chance, of Spes Magna Games, gives us The Magus, which I have been a fan of since it's release! It's a neat little class with some simple astrology rules to add into your campaign. It's well worth the look for only $0.84! You can nab it up right here.

Next up, +Timothy Brannan gives us his latest foray into the world of witchcraft. The Warlock  ports over the class from 3.X - 5E into S&W with Tim's special brand of witchcraft. With notes on using the class with Tim's other Witches, there is a real value here. The real value here is for those who want this in physical form, which is currently about 33% off. If you're looking for new spells or want to bring the Tiefling into your S&W Complete campaign, this is the book for you.

Next up is a full campaign setting, complete with some alternate rules.

Sherwood: The Legend of Robin Hood is a fantastic supplement/campaign setting. I backed this when it was a Kickstarter. I can tell you, it is well researched from a historical perspective, and that alone makes it worth the price of the book. You get a campaign setting, new classes, and some new options for your fighters. The historical data helps for setting the scene, even if you don't intend to use the book as written. The book contains information on running both a historical OR high fantasy version of the Robin Hood myth. Complete with historically based classes. This is a Swords & Wizardry book worth having!

Onward to Adventure!

The first adventure I would like to highlight is brought to us by Genius Loci Games. Pyramid of the Lost King is a low level campaign more than it is an adventure module! With a town, a plot and several dungeon/encounter regions, this could take months of regular play to get through. With professional looking layout and editing and terrific content, this is a steal at $8.50 for the pdf or $15.00 in softcover!

Ursined, Sealed and Delivered is a favorite of mine that I have both played and run. It's a great old school module that goes beyond just being a dungeon crawl. Published by the Frogs themselves and written by none other than veteran Dennis Sustare (creator of the OD&D Druid class!) and with a cover by Jennell Jaquays, this is an already an old school classic. In recent years it has become one of my all time favorite adventures along side the likes of Palace of the Vampire Queen and Dark Tower.

There you have it. Some of my top S&W picks from the massive sale that is soon to end! Remember, purchasing from my links helps Gamers & Grognards with a 5% commission from your sale.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Star Wars 40th Anniversary!

Star Wars was first released on May 25th, 1977. Today marks it's 40th anniversary. To show my gratitude for a thing that still inspires me and shapes my world today, I give you a collection of Hildebrandt Star Wars pieces to inspire your own Star Wars games and stories. Also, any old school gamer celebrating on this day would use the OSR Extravaganza Sale to pick up some of the great White Star titles that are on sale right now! Happy Anniversary Star Wars!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

OSR Extravaganza!

In case you've missed it. OBS (Drivethru RPG/RPG Now etc.) is having a HUGE OSR sale! Right now you can get AT LEAST 15% off on most OSR titles and HUGE savings of 80% on bundles. The bundles include official old school D&D products. There is and AD&D bundle as well as a Known World Bundle, featuring the Rules Cyclopedia and the Gazetteers. This sale goes on for the next 18 days!
Follow the links to savings. There isn't a better time to get in on any OSR products. Remember that purchasing through the links here helps to fund the blog and the future of Gamers & Grognards Studios.

OSR Extravaganza, Main Page - Saving of 15% or more on OSR titles!

AD&D Core Megabundle - $74.92 worth of AD&D Titles Now $14.95

The Known World Megabundle - Ever want to have ALL of the Gazetteers AND the Rules Cyclopedia? Well now you can for only $14.95

Planescape AD&D 2nd Edition Bundle - The Core Boxed Sets of the Planescape setting plus the three core 2nd Edition Books. All for $14.95
Help support your game, the OSR and Gamers & Grognards all at the same time!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Drawing Winners

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day  happened a week ago. I think it's time that I post the winners of the live drawing the occurred during the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day live broadcast last Saturday night, in case anyone missed it. I also find that it's helpful to give the winners direction as to how to claim their prizes. So, here we go…

The winners Hunter's Moon: Ghost the Machine pdf
for White Star by HAZARD STUDIO are

+Reece pc+Mick Reddick and +robert lambert 

The Winners of Goshahri: The City in a Cave pdf from Spes Magna Games are:

+Troy Tucker+Walt Robillard+Jayson Gardner+Andrew Moss+Ryan Hixson+James Shields+Sam Dimercurio+Jason Vines+Jonathan N.+Stephen Connor+Matt Stark and +John Anhaiser 

The Winners of Beyond the Ice Fall pdf from Raven God Games are:

+Gary Brown and +Michael Gross 

The winners of the physical Saturday Night Specials bundles are:

+Paul Go and +Vincent Jones 

Finally, the winner of the hardback copy of White Star is:

+Dave Kesler 

If you are on this list you may claim your prize by emailing me with your contact info (email for PDFs and mailing address for physical copies.) Make sure the subject is "S&W Appreciation Day Winner."

If you are one of the publishers, send me a new email so that we can get people their prizes promptly.

email: luxfaust@gmail.com

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Castles & Crusades Mega Bundle

I was so busy this month, with Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day, in addition to daily life, that I nearly missed this great deal from Troll Lord Games. They are currently offer $150 in PDFs for only $29.95! Inside you get The core rulebook, an optional magic system, a city book with a fleshed out city plus new spells and classes, and 10 modules! That's a good value, moreso if you are looking to check C&C out, but were on the fence about it. It's one of my "go to" games right after Swords & Wizardry. Definitely worth a look.

Note, a portion of sales through this link helps to support the blog.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day 2017 - Contribution Index - Sales! Blog Posts! Product Releases! Podcasts!

Happy Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day!  Updates will be made a couple times throughout the day as some folks will be working through the day to get several posts up.  Also, remember to tune in to the Livecast tonight on Drink Spin Run! A link can be found below, along with program information. Keep checking back!  The Index will be updated throughout the day! Don't forget to click the link below in the "Giveaway" section to register for tonight's drawings to win some free S&W goodness! Updates will be made throughout the day as more posts and sales go up!

Appreciate the Games! Download All Four Swords & Wizardry Rule Sets Free!
Swords & Wizardry Complete Character Sheets made by +Stacy Dellorfano for the well designed 3rd Printing of S&W Complete!

Download Swords & Wizardry: Light

Don't forget about the Swords & Wizardry SRD

Join the Legion!
You can join and get some free Light swag by joining via the Swords & Wizardry Legion Facebook page OR by emailing Bad Mike direct at mikebadolato@ntrpgcon.com.

The Free Compatibility Logos For Publisher Use:
Swords & Wizardry Compatibility Logo - Free
By Gamers & Grognards Studios

This Year's New Hot Logo
From +Charlie Mason of "White Box" fame, designed by Michael Clark.

Appreciate Sales and Products:

All Spes Magna Old School Products can be purchased at 30% off here in the Spes Magna Store on OBS.

Creation's Edge Games have all of their Swords & Wizardry compatible products available for 30% off! If you're looking for a short adventure that can fit into one session, these guys have them in droves. I've picked up most of them myself. You can pick them up right here.

The Inadvertent Wizard from Coach K is a new PWYW module. 

Three Sages Games will be having a S&W Appreciation Day sale. S&W PDFs will be 25% off,Print On-Demand will be 15% off, and we have two bundles which will be 30% off the normal price of the PDFs. The sale will go on until the end of next weekend. 

Okumarts have a plethora of Old School Goodness on sale!

Return to Fel'Valashar is a new PWYW Module from Sundered Blade Games. Written in celebration of Swords and Wizardry Appreciation Day 2017, Return to Fel’Valashar picks up where Dungeons of Fel’Valashar left off. In this book is a collection of mini dungeon adventures with a small region called Fel’Valashar that they take place within. Each of these adventures is written in such a way that they don’t have any ties to each other or to Fel’Valashar. This means you can easily drop them into your own world with no fuss. Includes: Details of the south-western region of Fel’Valashar. Four mini dungeon adventures. New monsters. New magic items.

The Snake's Heart - A Lost Age Adventure From Moebius Adventures is currently free in it's Swords & Wizardry Edition!

The Demon Stones (Swords & Wizardry) From MonkeyBlood Design is FREE in PDF today

The Swords & Wizardry Light Dropbox is filled with free goodness, including the new "Preserve the Feedbank" adventure by none other than Dr. Dennis Sustare

+Antonio Bravo's Free Index Card Character Sheet

Raven God Games has both "Beyond the Ice Fall" and "Dungeon Connections Pack #1" on sale at 40% off through April 24th!

"Journeys In The Land Of Khordesh" A rules supplement intended for use with S&W: Core and in the vein of Greyhawk or Blackmoor for OD&D. Free Download! by +Cameron DuBeers 

+Douglas Zielsdorf brings us two free adventures! High Caves Drifters and The Best Intentions...

The Dwarves of Copper Gulch by Ian McGarty FREE!


The Frogs are having a HUGE SALE for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day!

Appreciate the Blogfest!

Blood of Prokopius gives us the White Guard Mini Campaign

Dyansty Zero gives us four legendary weapons for villains.

Fantastical Beckelhimer gives us new races, classes and a free adventure: Classes and Races here and the module "The Tower of Skulls" is here.

Gothridge Manor +Tim Shorts gives us "The Temple Of Putrescence"

Halfling's Luck +James Spahn has a huge announcement!

Halls of the Nephilim  present the Bootlegger, a class for Swords & Wizardry

Hobbs & Friends of the OSR Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Podcast!

Monstrous Matters Alternate Character Classes

Mord Mar+Jayson Gardner (You probably know him as Rocky) gives us a new adventure.

Mord Mar Rocky gives us a free Weather Generator

The Other Side +Timothy Brannan introduces The Warlock class for Swords & Wizardry

Raven God Games S&W Appreciation Day Blogpost and Announcement

+Reese Laundry  has put out Teaser Classes For Chrome: Cyberpunk Roleplaying - Hard Light Edition

Spes Magna S&W Blog Post Index

Tenkar's Tavern +Erik Tenkar gives us a new class for the coinciding of S&W Appreciation Day with Earth Day

Tenkar's Tavern With S&W Appreciation Day Announcements

Tower of the Valkyrie presents Old Norse Old School Roleplaying

Appreciate the Broadcast and the Annual Drawings:

This year Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day will have it's third annual Live Broadcast, that you can tune into, watch and participate in. Once again the Broadcast will be hosted by +Adam Muszkiewicz and +Donn Stroud on Drink, Spin, Run. I will be co-hosting as in previous years. As far as the guests you can tune in and ask questions of we will have returning guests, creator of Swords & Wizardry +Matt Finch, White Star and The Hero's Journey creator +James Spahn. Additionally we will have +Charlie Mason, creator of the wildly popular "White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game. The Live Broadcast and Recording will be happening Saturday night (04/22) at 9:00 PM EST. You can tune in right here! During the show we will be doing a drawing for our annual giveaways.  You can learn how to enter the contest in this post. We hope to see you there!

I would like to thank everyone that participated in this event!  I hope you can all return next year to carry on the tradition!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day 2017 Giveaway!

Alright Folks, we have our Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Giveaways ready! Now is your chance to win some free stuff! We currently have a total of 18 prizes to dish out! We have a total of 14 pdfs and I will be donating at least three physical prizes. We have:

-Hunter's Moon: Ghost the Machine for White Star by HAZARD STUDIO - 1 pdf

-Goshahri: The City in a Cave the new release from Spes Magna - a generous 12 pdfs!
-Beyond the Ice Fall from Raven God Games - 2 pdfs

Gamers & Grognards Studios (myself) will be giving away some dead tree items.

2 copies of Frog God Games Saturday Night Special series of modules numbers 1,2 and 3! That's three physical modules in each giveaway.


1 hardback copy of White Star!


Comment on this post through G+ by 4:00PM EST on Saturday April 22nd. Better yet if you say why you love S&W in the comment!

Listen in on the Live Broadcast on Drink Spin Run, where I will be drawing names live! 

In the next few days I will get a post up with all winners listed and instructions for contacting me to arrange for shipment of your winnings!

Tomorrow Is Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day

So, the big day is tomorrow. Let me give you the updated lowdown on what's happening.
For the Blogfest and Sales index, check right here on this blog. I intend to publish an initial version early afternoon (est) and update it around 5:00 PM est.
1--If you are going to blog, product release or post a sale try to do so by 4:00 PM EST by emailing me at luxfaust@gmail.com. Make the subject of your email: "Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Post (or sale) and the blog/site title. PLEASE EMAIL. I have already seen folks putting up post online. I will not be scouring the internet, G+ or FB for posts and sales. If you want to be included in the directory, you must email me.
2--If you are running a game and want exposure, or just to get cred for running S&W on S&W Appreciation day, likewise email me.
3--If you are donating something for the free S&W product drawing, please email me TONIGHT.
4--If you want to enter the drawing that will be held on the live broadcast I will be putting a post up on the blog tomorrow (also likely early afternoon) asking for contact those who want to be entered to win products (pdfs and some physical.)
5--If you intend to watch to the Live Broadcast (which you can read about in this post) you can tune in tomorrow night at 9:00 PM right here on Drink Spin Run.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Podcast and Giveaway Drawing

This year Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day will have it's third annual Live Broadcast, that you can tune into, watch and participate in. Once again the Broadcast will be hosted by +Adam Muszkiewicz and +Donn Stroud on Drink, Spin, Run. I will be co-hosting as in previous years. As far as the guests you can tune in and ask questions of we will have returning guests, creator of Swords & Wizardry +Matt Finch, White Star and The Hero's Journey creator +James Spahn. Additionally we will have +Charlie Mason, creator of the wildly popular "White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game. The Live Broadcast and Recording will be happening Saturday night (04/22) at 9:00 PM EST. I will have a post up on Saturday with links to the show. During the show we will be doing a drawing for our annual giveaways. I will have a post up on Friday for readers to register if they want to be in the drawing.

Speaking of the drawing, do you want to get your S&W compatible product some love and attention this Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day? A good way to do that is by donating copy or two. Yep, if you give away a copy of your product on the Broadcast, you will get a link in the DSR show notes as well as here on the blog. Double Dippin' Marketing for you. You can donate by emailing me at luxfaust@gmail.com by 3:00 PM EST, Friday April 21st. Use the Subject "S&W Giveway." You can't lose. So if you want to donate, or if you plan to do something else to celebrate our favorite clone check out the details right here. Help us to make this the best Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day yet.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Jousting Season Is Upon Us!

Join our Joust Master (JM,) +Mike Davison and all of our knights in the OSR Jousting Community Jousting Fields of the Axe Lands for the SPRING JOUSTING TOURNEY!  Join us as we joust for glory and old school swag!  Mike has a wonderful set of variant jousting rules based upon the ones found in "Chainmail."  The rules are free and it's free to play.  Create a knight and join in "play by post jousting!"  It's easy and fun, plus the winners get some old school stuff! What more reason do you need? Click the link and join up now! The joust begins as soon as enough knights are submitted!  Your knight must be registered with Mike prior to this.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I Want You For Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day!

Saturday April 22nd is Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day! Therefore, we the Swords & Wizardry Community need you!

What do we want you to do? We need you to help in the grand celebration that is

So how can you celebrate?

  1. We want bloggers & podcasters to get posts and episodes up! You can submit them per the info here.
  2. We want publishers to get themselves exposure. The best ways to do this are to get sales going and submit them here. Alternatively, or in addition to you can submit a product for the annual Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Giveaway held on the annual livecast on "Drink, Spin, Run!" I will be doing the drawing throughout the livecast. More information on the drawing and time of the livecast will be up on this blog in the next week.
  3. We want Referees to be running games! If you are a Referee and plan to run a game at your local FLGS, Tavern or an open game on the web, email me at luxfaust@gmail.com with the information on where to find your S&W Appreciation Day game. If you do so by Wednesday April 19th, I will get a post up with all S&W Apprecition Day games listed so you are easy to find.
  4. In addition to this, if you are running S&W Light, you can go join the Legion! You can join and get some free Light swag by joining via the Swords & Wizardry Legion Facebook page OR by emailing Bad Mike direct at mikebadolato@ntrpgcon.com.
If you need ideas for what to do to celebrate the greatest RPG centered holiday of them all, here is last year's Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Index. Let's get moving on this!

Monday, March 20, 2017

UPDATED DATE! - Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day 2017 Announcement

Several regular contributors to Swords & Wizardry have brought to my attention that the third weekend of April will be Easter weekend. Some would not be able to contribute do to holiday travel and prepping for the holiday. In recognition of this, I am moving S&W Appreciation Day one week out to Saturday April 22nd. Thanks to everyone who brought this to my attention. I want to see the largest part of the community taking part in this.

Gary Con is nearly upon us! That means it's getting closer to April, and April means Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day in this neck of the woods! This year I took a poll on the Swords & Wizardry G+ Community and wound up with over 85% of membership desiring the day to be on the third Saturday in April rather than solidly sticking to April 17th. That means that S&W Appreciation Day will be Saturday April 22nd this year. I hope to have more posts out regarding special events, such as the annual livecast and more after Gary Con. Keep checking back here for news.
If you want to take part in the festivities this year, here is what to do:
- Write a post, article, free pdf etc. related to any version of S&W  OR, get a sale going with product you already have.
-Email me with a link to you blog, website etc. By 12:00PM Eastern Standard Time on Saturday, April 22nd. Email both your link and title/sale. 
-Make the subject of your email: "Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Post (or sale) and the blog/site title. Send email to: luxfaust_at_gmail_dot_com
-Make sure to have the actual post/sale by 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on April 22nd.
-I will have all links and titles posted here on the blog around 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on April 22nd. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thoughts on a Stamina Score for Swords & Wizardry and Other D&D Variants

In my little semi-simulationist world (which has recently had to take a back seat to my real world,) I've been thinking about stamina and endurance.  I like the idea of simulationist rules that are easy to track and also MATTER in the game. Simulation strictly to the point of book keeping that does not matter in actual play is pointless. If said rules have a true impact on the game and affect the way the that players play and/or how the game feels, THAT is when the rule is worth while.

So, with that said, my idea is to create a Stamina attribute. This attribute will differ from the 6 that are pre-existing in Swords & Wizardry. Rather than rolling for this score, it will be based on pre-existing scores. It is a simple process. A character's Stamina will be the average of their Strength and Constitution rounded up. So, a fighter with 16 STR and 13 CON would have a 15 STM. Determining STM for monsters is simple and can be done on the fly. A monster's STM is determined by it's size and HD. A creature's STM is equal to it's HD +7(small) +10 (medium) +13 (large.) The  size factor is up to the referee's discretion, but as a general rule creatures less than 3/4 the size of an average human would be considered small and creatures more than 1-1/4 the size of a human could be considered large. If a creature is particularly stocky the referee may want to give a small bonus to the score (ex. Dwarves, pack animals.)

What is the STM score used for? What makes it meaningful to the game? The STM determines the length of time (in rounds or turns) of strenuous activity that a creature can endure before becoming fatigued and needs a brief rest. This means that the fighter in our above example can fight, run at full speed etc. for 15 rounds (minutes) without being winded. When dealing with activities that are less strenuous, those measured in turns, the amount of time is double the STM score. A rogue with a STM of 10 would be able to carefully crawl along the dungeon, meticulously checking for traps and secret doors for 20 turns (3 hours and 20 minutes) before needing to stop for a quick break, a drink etc.

When a character become fatigued and needs rest they can continue to push on if they wish. A character who attempts to push on must make a STM check. This is done by attempting to roll below the stamina score on a d20 each round/turn they push on. If succeeds, they suffer no ill effects and must roll again every round/turn they persist. If the character fails this roll at any time the begin to suffer a cumulative -1 penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws and ability checks each round that they persist without resting.

Rest will always recover STM. For every 10 minutes a character rests they regain STM equal to their hit die type. This meaning a fighter in S&W Complete will recover 1d8 STM per 10 minutes of rest, while a Magic-user will recover on 1d4. Regardless of hit die type sitting at rest for 3 turns (30 minutes) will recover all STM that has been lost.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

AD&D and Appendix N RPG Titles On One Book Shelf

Well, time for a little advertisement and glimpse at things that I'm excited about over on Drivethru RPG. Full disclosure, if you follow the links here and make purchases from them, you will be contributing to the well being of this blog and it's blogger. Without further ado, here are some things that I'm happy, or at least excited, to see coming out in the "on demand" RPG market:

Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of

First of is the new "Conan" RPG from Modiphus Entertainment. Now, this was Kickstarted last year at this time, but I didn't back it, as I knew nothing about the 2d20 system. Now, however, you can buy the PDF, or check out the Conan Free Quickstart Rules. That is what I intend to do first. I've already downloaded them, but need some time to look them over (does anyone have any time they can loan me, I seem to be coming up short lately.) Now, even if I end up disliking the system, or don't think it captures the pulp adventure of Howard's stories, I might just pick up the core book anyway. Why? Because this sounds intriguing:
  • An extensive gazetteer covering the whole of Conan’s world: featuring fair Aquilonia, gloomy Cimmeria, magic-haunted Stygia, all the way to the far-off steaming jungles of Khitai.
This is cool. I can use this for games set in the Hyborian Age regardless of whether or not I like the ruleset. I've been looking for a nice sourcbook to run Jason Vey's OD&D "Age of Conan" supplement for a while now anyway.

  • Extensive guidelines for running scenarios and campaigns in the Hyborian Age, allowing gamemasters to create suitably Howardian adventures.
Er... basically repeat the above.

  • Developed in close consultation with award-winning Conan scholars, this is the most authentic depiction of Conan and his world ever published for games. 
This level of appreciation for the source material will typically have me sold on nearly anything.
Look at that list of artists. Just take a look at some of the names in there. The books in this line are going to look amazing.

Adventures in Middle-earth Loremaster's Guide

I like what I've seen in the "Adventures In Middle-Earth Player's Guide." Even if I don't ever use it to run Middle-Earth, it has some nice stuff. Plus this game feels more like Tolkien's Middle-Earth than anything other than "The One Ring" that has ever been published in RPG format. There's probably a good reason for that. Again, this is a work that has paid close attention to it's source material.

Lastly we come to some things that have been out for a while, but are now available in print again. I have been moaning about the fact that WOTC was not putting out their back catalog in POD format since they started selling it as PDF. Well, for over a month they have been making a (happy) liar out of me. Now, they are finally getting to the rule sets themselves. New players, and old, have a new option for table copies of the AD&D books. I will only be happier once we see the RC and the OD&D Library.
AD&D Player's Handbook

AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide

AD&D Monster Manual

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Thoughts On Alignment In Swords & Wizardry and OD&D

This week during the commute to work I was listening to the Glowburn Podcast #3 in which +Forrest Aguirre and +Bill Hamilton discuss alignment as it stands in D&D and Gamma World's Cryptic Alliances.  This got me to thinking about the origins of alignment, it's meaning and how it is looked at in various incarnations of "the game."

Classic Alignments

The Arrow of Law
The origins of alignment can be found within Appendix N. The two primary sources being Poul Anderson's "Three Hearts and Three Lions" and Michael Moorcock's "Eternal Champion" series. In fact, Moorcock's view of these seems to have been influenced directly by Anderson's works. Moorcock wrote that Law and Chaos are as opposed forces in the multiverse. Each of these has deities aligned to it in the Appendix N tales. Consequently, Clerics in D&D and S&W may not be Neutral.
In the Original game (and thus S&W) only these alignments existed. Law, Chaos and Neutrality (the balance.) One was either aligned with the creative, unifying powers of Law, the destructive and ever changing power of Chaos or else unaligned. Alignment did not dictate behavior in the same way that it later would. It was simple alignment was more alignment by definition. I have a few issues with the term alignment as it is used in later editions of the game.
The Scales of Balance

Later in the life of OD&D, prior to AD&D there was a change in the way that alignment was viewed. This was instigated by Steve Marsh. The same Steve Marsh that would later be partially responsible for the Expert edition of D&D. Steve Marsh discusses his views on alignment in a guest post on +Richard LeBlanc's Save Vs. Dragon blog.

In the post Marsh states, "Eventually, Gary agreed with me and migrated the game world to a 2-axis system where the law/chaos axis crossed with good/evil axis. It allowed for things to be feral without them being necessarily evil (old school “chaos”). It also allowed for characters to distinguish between the amoral (where being without morals = neutral) and the immoral (where those who are doing wrong = evil)."
The Arrows of Chaos

This change was first brought forth in an article by Gary Gygax in The Strategic Review. It would be made more "official" when it became adopted as the 5 point alignment system in the Holmes edition of D&D. In this time the waters of alignment begin to muddy a bit, and became muddier still as editions of the game progressed. With the advent of the 9 point system in AD&D we start to see alignment change into a system of morals and behavior more than an actual system of alignment. So, what is alignment then, and what should we strive to make it?

The Strategic Review Alignment Chart
Defining Alignment

 The Oxford Living Dictionaries define alignment thus:


  • 1 [mass noun] Arrangement in a straight line or in correct relative positions:
    ‘the tiles had slipped out of alignment’
  • 1.1 [count noun] The route or course of a railway or road:
    ‘four railways, all on different alignments’
    ‘present-day road alignments’

  • 1.2  Archaeology [count noun] A linear arrangement of stones:
    ‘there were originally at least four massive stone alignments running from west to east’
  • 2   A position of agreement or alliance:
    ‘the uncertain nature of political alignments’
Clearly the intent of alignment in Swords & Wizardry and OD&D is the second definition: "A position of agreement or alliance." It is also clear that if this is the definition of alignment in early gaming that the term and usage fell away with the addition of a second axis. I have come to dislike the 2 axis system, as it serves more to push a restrictive set of morals (or lack there of) onto the characters rather than serving as true alignment. Likewise, I enjoy the freedom of the linear 3 point alignment system. However, I believe that there is more that can be done with alignment than just this, things which can aid in roleplaying and add depth to both character and campaign! I was inspired by Gamma World's Crytic Alliances when reminded of these in the aforementioned podcast. If you are unfamiliar with this system of "alignment, see the link above. Clearly we can apply more than just a broad cosmic alignment to a character or creature in a game, in the same way that Gamma World did.
Broadening Alignment
 I do not propose that we remove the original 3 point alignment system. Swords & Wizardry and OD&D are based around this system, after all. Additionally the system originates within Appendix N literature, and I like to move the game closer to the original inspiration, not away from it. Therefore, this remains as the core alignment system. Let's call this "cosmic alignment." Next, let's look to religion, as many games tend to have a polytheistic worldview, this is not an issue. Third, we can look at the culture of the character. This is also easy. Is your human fighter from a pseudo medieval culture and from a noble family or perhaps a Nordic inspired culture and she was previously a shield maiden. These two pieces of background information already add a plethora of depth to the character. Or is your elf a high elf? Wood elf? This could make for very different roleplaying and decision making on the part of the player. Lastly, we can add an Organizational alignment, this being the most like Gamma World's Cryptic Alliances. Is the character a member of a thieves guild? Perhaps that character above from the noble family is part of a knightly order? Are they part of a town militia? Remember as well that a character could potentially have many Organizational Alignments. Certainly all of these things could just be background, but when given as alignments, rulings could be made more easily by the referee, especially if the referee is looking closely at the decisions being made by a player for their character.

So, we now have four alignment types to assign to a character:

-Alignment (Cosmic Alignment)
-Religion (Religious Alignment)
-Culture (Cultural Alignment)
-Organization (Organizational Alignment)

All of these things can add to the character and to the game in a broader sense.