Friday, June 1, 2018

The OSR is what you want it to be!

Just keep in mind when you read about what the OSR ought to be or ought to be doing that the widespread use of open content under the OGL means that the OSR is always what YOU think it is. Not what me or anybody else thinks.

 That the tools are there for you to show how the rest of us are doing it wrong (in a good way). Coupled with the low barriers enabled by digital technology, you can share as little or as much as you want in the matter you think best. Whether it is a comment, a text file, a full color hardback or god help you a boxed set.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Choose your own sci-fi stock art.

I like supporting other OSR projects. The more people we have doing this stuff successfully helps to keep this a thriving hobby with enthusiastic gamers. As many if you with my works know, I am partial to black and white line art and James Shield excels at drawing in that style. I was very pleased with what I got from his last kickstarter and now he has new one, Do It Yourself Science Fiction Stock Art.

This time the focus is on science fiction but what especially neat is that it is also a tool kit for making your own. You can see a preview of it in the image below and he explains it on his kickstarter page.

While the focus of the OSR has been traditionally on fantasy, but there is now a wealth of science fiction material built on the ideas behind classic DnD (White Star, Stars without Number, etc). Having resources like James' DiY Stock Art will make it take much easier for projects to get done and in our hands.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The first five maps and guidebook for the Wilderlands of High Fantasy is available for sale!

I am pleased to announce the release of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. This is one of four products covering the eighteen maps that encompasses the Judges Guild Wilderlands setting. This product covers five of the maps as detailed below. The four sets combined will cover a region equal in size to Western Europe providing years and decades of adventuring for you and your group.

Unlike many setting products, the Wilderlands sketches out the overview and history in light detail. Then presents a comprehensive list of local detail in a compact format that is customizable. This eliminates much of the tedious work involved in creating a setting and allows the referee to focus on the campaign and the grand adventures the players face as their characters.

This is presented at two products both in PDF and Print on Demand.

The first product is a 24 page guidebook containing a brief overview of and commentary on the first five maps of the Wilderlands along with lists covering details on Villages, Castles, Lairs, Ruins, and Islands.

Included with the Guidebook are letter sized blank map of the Wilderlands that can be used to take notes during a campaign. A PDF with the map legend. A letter size black and white guide to the placement of each of the 18 maps within the Wilderlands.

Finally a giant sized preliminary version of the master map that I used to crop the individual maps from. With the right printer this can be printed as a full scale map 5 feet wide and 8 feet long. With the PDF you can selectively copy out regions as complete maps that overlap the borders of the 18 maps. After the release of the final set of maps this file will be updated as a layered PDF allowing for custom maps of the Wilderlands to be copied or created.

The second product is a set of five maps: City-State of the Invincible Overlord, Barbarian Altanis, Valley of the Ancients, Tarantis, and Valon. When ordered via print on the demand they are printed in two overlapping halves each on a 12" by 18" poster. In addition each map is presented as a 22" by 17" PDF file.

The maps have been redrawn from the original in a color style. Instead of the distinct symbols of the original maps, terrain has been drawn as a  transparent fill and vegetation represented by colored areas. This allows both terrain and vegetation to overlap. Representing more accurately the complexity and diversity of the Wilderland's geography.

This release will be followed by the Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde in a few weeks covering the next five maps of the Wilderlands.

A preview PDF

The Wilderlands of High Fantasy Guidebook

The Wilderlands of High Fantasy Color Map

Friday, April 27, 2018

Dragon Heresy Kickstarter

My friend, Douglas Cole of Gaming Ballistic is in the final 48 hours of his kickstarter  for his Dragon Heresy Introductory Set.

Dragon Heresy is a Dnd 5e variant that is a gritter take on the fifth edition mechanics. In addition the setting he created for his RPG has an interesting take on Norse mythology and culture.

Currently I am running an Adventures in Middle Earth campaign. The experience had lead me to conclude that Mearls and his crew did an excellent job of designing an RPG that can be adapted, with tweaks, to radically different settings and sub-genres. Dragon Heresy is another excellent example of using that flexibility.

Head on over to the kickstarter and listen to Doug's pitch and see if it something that interests you.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Details on Faeries for the Majestic Wilderlands

Two years ago I made a post how I got a handle on how faeries work in my setting. The basic issue is that there are multiple interpretations of why faeries are what they are in myth and legend. This means in order to roleplay faeries there is no definitive source for the referee to use. Many of the major ones didn't click with me until I came with the approach I outlined below. I like it because it preserve the mercurial and seemly random nature of faeries but provides a consistent starting point for an encounter.

I collected the Faeries entries from the legendarium I am working on for my Majestic Fantasy RPG and posted it as a PDF here.

Magic in the Majestic Wilderlands is the force of creation made manifest. Before the creation of the Abyss and the Chromatic Crystals, the inherent level of magic was low. In order to be harnessed as a spell, it was laboriously gathered in a ritual and infused into a scroll, charm, or magical device. After the creation of the Chromatic Crystal, someone with a disciplined will could cast a spell without the use of a device.

Over the centuries magic did not turn into a science or craft because it was influenced by an individual’s emotional and mental state. What worked for one individual, often didn’t work for another. This susceptibility of magic to emotion had another consequence, the creation and evolution of faeries.

Faeries are creatures, and monsters born out of the ambient level of magic that flow throughout the Wilderlands. The emotional life of elves, men, and even plants and animals give birth to these creatures including the faeries that developed sentience. The nature of their birth has left all faeries with a singular drive to recreate the emotions that give them life. This typically manifests with the faeries using their abilities to recreate the circumstances of their birth. Using magic, to manipulate the environment and those around them into playing out certain stories and emotions, over and over again. This can led to dangerous situations when emotions like anger, hate, and fear are part of the faerie’s nature.

The key to dealing with the Faeries is to understand the emotions and stories that gave them birth.

The Elves and the Faerie
When the Wilderlands was created there were two sentient races; Elves and Men. The Elves were born as the glory of the Wilderlands, as a shining example of the potential of life. They were given great gifts however the price was that their fate was tied to the Wilderlands. One reason is the innate magic of the Wilderlands sustains their immortality and other gifts. Because of this, the elves feel kinship with the faeries, and in general will help them fulfill their nature. For the faeries that have the negative emotions as their nature the elves will still help them but try to do it in isolated locations far from the other races of the Wilderlands. Many elves realms have a large population of faeries.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Announcing the Wilderlands of High Fantasy Revised Editions

Wilderlands of High Fantasy Announcement 
In November I promised to revisit the issue of the Wilderlands maps if nothing has been released by March for the Judges Guild's City State of the Invincible Overlord Kickstarter. I was able to work out a publishing agreement with Robert Blesdaw II to release the 18 maps I drew for the kickstarter project. In addition I am permitted to publish a series of revised guidebooks to accompany the maps.

Each guidebook will be around 20 to 32 pages and will contain the original listings edited for known errata and corrections. To avoid the issues of cost that accompanied other releases of Wilderlands of High Fantasy, I am following the pattern of the original releases.

The maps and guidebooks will be divided into four products, the Wilderlands of High Fantasy,
Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde, Wilderlands of the Magic Realm, and the Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches. Unlike the original releases, Map 6 Viridistan will be included in Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde although edited down to the format of the other four maps.

The retail cost is yet to be determined as I am testing the various print options. I am targeting $20 per bundle of printed map and guidebook. The maps will be printed as two 12” by 18” sheets. There will be five maps in Wilderlands of High Fantasy and Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde, and four maps in Wilderlands of the Magic Realm, and Wilderlands of Fantastic Maps. The backer and retail costs will reflect the quantity of maps within a product.

The PDFs will be free to all kickstarter backers. The printed cost to backers for all 18 maps will be slightly less than $20. The printed cost of the guidebooks for backers should be around $3 to $4 depending on which print format works out the best. I am tacking on a one dollar charge so it will count as a sale on both OBS sites, RPGNow and DrivethruRPG. There will be shipping charges from One Bookshelf.

I am doing this because as a Judges Guild licensee, the problems of this kickstarter affect my sales of the Majestic Wilderlands along with other projects using the Judges Guild IP. The above is what I can do to help with the resources I possess. Robert Bledsaw II is aware of what is going on and has worked with me to come up with a solution to get a portion of the product you paid for into your hands.

I will have the package of the first five maps and guidebook released by mid April as the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. I am trying to have remaining maps and guidebooks done by the end of May so I can release them for North Texas Con, a convention focused on older edition gaming. But it may not be until June until I get Fantastic Reaches out. The PDFs will be done first and I will release preliminary copies as soon as I am able.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Minimal Dungeons Redux

Nearly eight years ago, I wrote a post about Minimal Dungeon born of an observation that various example we have of keyed dungeons from back in the day were very terse with little notes. As you can see from Judges Guild Tegal Manor and the well known photo of Gary Gygax with his Greyhawk binder attached to this post.

Rob's Note: You can download the dungeon referred in my original post from here the Elf Lord's Temple.

Now both +Peter V. Dell'Orto  on Dungeon Fantastic and Delta on Delta's DnD Hotspot wrote about their observations. Both have the opinion that the format is useful for a referee's own notes but not acceptable for print publication. I disagree in part.

First off I concur that what we see in the attached photo is too terse. Even the published Tegel Manor suffers from terse although there the uses of map notes, and room titles makes it more usable. My opinion the root of the problem is the long shadow of adventures formatted tournament style. An adventure with a keyed map, with each keyed location fully describe with a introduction that provides an overall explanation and general notes.

The problem with the tournament format that it doesn't scale. There a limit to the size of a locale that can be effectively described in this format. Beyond with people get lost in the detail or the project itself is unfeasible for publication.  Nor does the tournament format work well when the focus of the adventure is on the interactions between different NPCs rather than on the exploration of a locale.

So what is the ideal format? I would contend there is no ideal format. The focus should be on teaching you the reader on how I, as the author, ran the adventure. Whatever does the trick for that particular adventure is the right choice.

It starts with you imagining sitting down with another referee and explaining how to run the adventure. Then taking what you imagined (and perhaps practiced on a friend) and writing that up so the rest of us can learn how to run that adventure.

For example +Zak Sabbath excels at using his talent as artist and writer to explain his adventures and supplements through a unique combination of written and visual elements.

What about minimal dungeons specifically. Let's look at Tegel Manor by Judges Guild. It compactly details a fundhouse dungeon in the form of a sprawling manorhouse with a small four level dungeon beneath. It does this through a combination of terse text, some random tables, room titles, and above all the map itself.

To be clear I am not holding Tegel Manor as a great example. Having run it twice now, it just on this side of plausibility. Along with I get little sense of how Bob Bledsaw Senior ran it outside of the obvious "it is a funhouse.".  However I think it only a little more to turn it into a a great example of a minimalist dungeon. About double the page count should do it and most of that would be in the beginning where one explains how the place works overall, and give some specific on areas of the dungeon. Then add a sentence or two to flesh out the different room and leave it at that.

I think the advantage of the minimalist approach that is plays into the default mode of referee which is largely a matter of improvisation as the players attempt various things as their character. The only time that a complete description of C14 Butler's Room is needed is for product oriented towards novice referee. Otherwise it just take too long during actual play to read that much text. And beyond a certain point it is too much to retain even if you read it all beforehand.

But it tricky. It is a fine line between too much and too little. Which is why if you are terse it is best to use a combination of technique written, visual art, and maps to teach somebody how to run that adventure.