Monday, December 3, 2018

OSR Survey

Brendan S and Ben Milton are two hobbyists with a long history of participating in discussion related to the OSR and classic DnD. They have constructed a detailed survey that looks to be comprehensive.

The link to the survey.

Ben Milton (G-Plus)
Brendan S (G-Plus)

At the conclusion of the survey one can leave additional comments unfortunately I forgot to copy and paste my answer. But the following is the gist of what I wrote.


Irregardless of how people used the label OSR, think of the label OSR, or want the label OSR to represent there are several salient points.

1) There is a group of hobbyists who are interested in playing, promoting, and publishing for classic editions of DnD.

2) To ensure that no one vision or ideal stifles a hobbyist's creative vision the promotion and spread of legal open content is vital.

3) #2 pertains not just to classic DnD but to any system that hobbyists are interested in provided there is legal open content to use as a foundation for sharing.

4) Hobbyists interested in #1 are interested in other things as well. So hobbyists sharing or selling will often have a variety of works in addition to classic DnD including hybrids.


Open Content coupled with the low barriers of distribution enabled by the internet and digital technology ensures that anybody with the desire will be able to get their vision out there either commercially or just to share.

Keep in in mind that the consequences of creative freedom will be messy. Resulting in a confusing kaleidoscope of works along with conflicting visions of the source material. The key to remember irregardless of the results of the survey, that you are free to do what you think is best with the material in the form you think will work for your project. That thanks to the internet and other forms of digital technology you can't be stopped from sharing what you created.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Support OSR News


Collecting news and information about the OSR is often a thankless job. There is a ever-growing kaleidoscope of OSR publishers with new products being released every day either commercially or non-commercially on a variety of platforms and formats.

James A. Smith of Dreams of Mythic Fantasy has dedicated considerable time and effort into collecting various bits of information and news about what going on around the OSR. Now he would like your support to keep on doing this. He has established a Patreon page where you can contribute a few bucks every month to keep his OSR News continuing. I hope you will join me in supporting James.



Tuesday, November 20, 2018

PDF Piracy

Busy News day. So I logged on my publisher's page on RPGNow and found a warning from OBS about a pirate website with hundreds of RPG PDFs.

A couple of things

  • Don't lose your cool
  • See above
  • Don't use the DMCA link on that site. In the words of Admiral Ackbar. "It's a trap!"
  • Do a search for your products on Google and Bing. If a link appears to the fore mention pirate. Send them a DMCA request. I done it and it works relatively quickly. 
This is the link for the Google DMCA link
This is the link for Microsoft Bing DMCA

Understand software, video, and PDF piracy is semi-organized. The new pirate site is especially slick which is probably why OBS reacted the way it did. However it existed at least a year prior. In addition there are various underground directories floating around that are updated regularly. The links are coded so that they don't show up on the search engines text functions. So the key is to keep those links off of the first handful of pages of search results. And that is not so hard to do thanks to the above links.

It sucks but it not as bad as it could be. 



RPGNow folding into DriveThruRPG

OBS just sent a newsletter to all publishers that due to little growth RPGNow is folding into DriveThruRPG in February 2019. That RPGNow links will redirect to their DriveThruRPG equivalent.

Also metal rankings will merge which frankly is a good thing overall as the separate counts were always a pain.

The full text


Dear publisher,

Starting in February 2019, all elements of the RPGNow tool pages and storefront will redirect to similar pages on DriveThruRPG.

You most likely know this, but since RPGNow and DriveThruRPG first merged as businesses back in 2006, they have shared all the same tools and digital inventory. On the front end, they looked and behaved like two separate sites, but essentially they have just been two faces of the same site for many years. The only real differences were the color schemes and logos.

You might have some questions about the coming change, so we’ve done our best to anticipate and answer them below.

How will this affect me?

In most ways, you’ll be unaffected. Your entire catalog of titles from RPGNow is already listed on DriveThruRPG (as it always has been), and you can log in to DriveThruRPG using the same account(s) you’ve always used on RPGNow, just as you could before.

Even your old bookmarks to pages on RPGNow.com will still work: They’ll automatically be redirected to the same page on DriveThruRPG.

What about sales reporting? Will my past sales be combined?

Yes, as far as sales records and your titles’ metal rankings, we will be merging those together.

Starting in February, your sales records will show combined sales of each title across both the deprecated RPGNow site and DriveThruRPG, together. The number of unit sales will also be combined, so if you had metal rankings for titles on one or both sites, there’s a good chance you’ll find that your rankings on some titles will have increased on DriveThruRPG.

What about my Publisher Promotion Points and marketing impressions?

No worries. Your Publisher Promotion Points (PPP) are already shared across sister sites. They are compiled by publisher, not by site.

If you have used your PPP to purchase site impressions for banners or featured product messages on RPGNow, you will also be reimbursed, commensurately, for those expenditures on DriveThruRPG.

Why is this happening?

Here’s the big picture: In the 12 years since RPGNow and DriveThruRPG merged, the growth of RPGNow has tapered off constantly, while DriveThruRPG has continued to grow strongly, year over year, since it launched in 2004. We’ve reached the point where RPGNow rarely draws new customers or publishers and sells less than one-tenth the volume of titles purchased on DriveThruRPG.

To be honest, we have known this moment would come for years now. We’ve just finally decided it’s time to put the RPGNow brand out to pasture.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Blackmarsh Updated

Several years ago, I added the option of using the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license to Blackmarsh to make it easier for people to use it for RPGs that don't have open content. This was done with version 3.0. Since then Creative Commons updated to version 4.0. One of the major difference is an explicit waiver of moral rights.

In copyright over the past couple of decades there is the idea that in addition to rights to profit and control how the work is copied that there is a set of moral rights that protects the following.

1) the right of credit or association
2) the right of integrity
3) the right of anonymity or context

The grant or transfer of economic rights (i.e. the right to copy and use) is separate than a waiver of moral rights. To make it clear that my intent is for anybody to be able to use Blackmarsh for whatever purpose they see fit I updated the Creative Common license to version 4.0 which waives my moral rights in the text and maps for Blackmarsh.

In addition several publishers have introduced third party publishing programs that don't use open content licenses. Since my intent to share Blackmarsh as widely as possible and to make it easy to use for one's own work. I removed the Non-Commercial and Share-alike requirements. Now only attribution is required.

To be clear dual license means you can choose to use either license. Either as open content under the Open Game License or the Creative Commons BY Version 4.0. Use whatever one works best for your project.

You can download version 11 either from my website. Or from RPGNow if you obtained Blackmarsh there. If you bought a print copy there is no need to get a new one as the text remains the same.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Medieval Demographics Made Easy new host

In the mid 1990, S John Ross created an article about how to calculate the demographics of a medieval realms and the numbers and types of shops in a town.

The math behind the article was straight forward and didn't involve a lot of  table lookup. Although it didn't stop people like this one on the Donjon site, or this one on the d20SRD site from making automated tools using S. John Ross' math.

Medieval Demographics was hosted on S. John Ross' Blue Room for a long time. Recently he made changes to his website resulting in the original links becoming broken. As outlined in this blog post, he decided to run an experiment, to release the file to multiple hosts and let it wander on its own. He asked for volunteers and I was one of the people who stepped up.

So today I am pleased to announce that I am hosting a copy of Medieval Demographics for everybody to download. You can use the sidebar or this link.

To be clear this file is only free to download. It has not been made public domain nor has it been released under an open content license. The details are explained at the bottom of page 6 of the PDF

Fantasy Demographics
Several years ago, I dug into the data and math used by S John Ross and found the original source of the data he used to generate shops for his town portion of his article. From the that I generated my own take that fits better with the fantasy medieval setting used by various editions of DnD. You can download that file from the sidebar or from here. Note is only for the types and quantity in a town.

To see this in action look at my How to make Fantasy Sandbox articles starting at post XVIII

Accuracy
Keep in mind both Medieval Demographics and my own Fantasy Demographics are not meant to definitive treatments of historical circumstances. While neither sits on home plate, so to speak, instead they are meant to get you within the ballpark. Keep in mind the algorithm i.e. the process that S. John Ross uses is highly modifiable to fit your assumptions of medieval or fantasy life. For an example see my Fantasy Demographics article mentioned above.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Some bad news about Google Plus

Google Plus was Google's answer to facebook. It never got widespread adoption but among specific niches of internet it was heavily used compared to facebook. One of those niches is the OSR.

And now it appears the Google is shutting it down or at the least radically changing it.

Damn it. I really despise the Facebook interface and because of that I have not kept my Facebook account as clean as my Google Plus setup. I guess my wife, Kelly Anne will be happy as facebook is her primary home on social media.

Well it was good while it lasted.

The link to the annoucement



Saturday, September 1, 2018

Original Southlands Map redux

Back in 2009 I released my take on the Outdoor Survival Map mentioned in ODnD. Modifying the map using the guidelines found in Book 3 Underworld and Wilderness Adventures along with substituted Judges Guild icons in place of the original.

Since then it made the rounds appearing in projects like Autarch's Dwimmermount.

Recently +Nathan Jennings requested a version that didn't have the title block in the upper left. Since I still had the original files it was easy make a version that does just that.

So here it for everybody else to use for whatever project they have in mind. Just click here to get the full resolution version.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The next five maps are avaliable! Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde is released


I am pleased to announce the release of the Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde. 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.


This product is a 38 page Guidebook for the five maps of the Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde. The books has an introduction and commentary by Robert S. Conley who has used the Wilderlands as his main fantasy campaign for nearly forty years. Each map is detailed with the following listings: Villages, Castles and Citadels, Idyllic Isles, Ruins and Relics, and Lurid Lairs.

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. This guidebook covers the City State of the World Emperor Map Six, Desert Lands Map Seven, Sea of Five Maps Map Eight, Elphand Lands Map Nine, and Lenap Map Ten.


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 World Emperor Map Six, Desert Lands Map Seven, Sea of Five Maps Map Eight, Elphand Lands Map Nine, and Lenap Map Ten.. 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 Wilderlands of the Magic Realm in a few weeks covering the next four maps of the Wilderlands.

A preview PDF

The Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde Guidebook

The Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde Color Map


Monday, August 20, 2018

Updating the OSR Survey

For a long time I had this page attached to the blog. It is a survey of selected sites and links that promoted themselves part of the OSR or were about playing, publishing, or promoting a classic edition of D&D. It needs updating as it still get a significant number of hits

So  calling on the wisdom of the crowd for updated links and additional links to be included. The criteria is either it promotes itself explicitly as part of the OSR or the link is about playing, promoting, or publishing something based on the classic editions of DnD. This includes material like White Star or Star without Numbers.

I will look at the comments made for the next two weeks as well add in my own decisions.

My goal for the survey to give a novice a taste of the range of material and fuel further searches on their own. Along with selected items of personal interest that I wish to highlight.

With 3,000+ works identifying as OSR on RPGNow alone there no way a single individual can hope to present a comprehensive list unless that their primary interest. Even Guy Fullerton with Hoard and Hordes with a narrower focus on material supporting Gygaxian DnD, had to switch to a methodology of "stuff I am aware of" after 2012.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

SJ Games opens the door for The Fantasy Trip


In a very interesting bit of news, SJ Games announced they are going to instituted a limited publishing agreement where fans of TFT can publish on Warehouse 23 and earn royalties.

SJ Games is a pioneer in selling games and gaming PDFs on-line. At first through their e23 site and then later through their combined Warehouse 23 store. And both were open to other publishers and their games.

I had the opinion for a long time, that unlike other game companies their existing infrastructure allowed them open out their RPG and give them additional options than just throwing everything into the OGL or into the hands of another company. I am glad they are taking advantage of that for the The Fantasy Trip.

And hopefully if TFT goes well, GURPS is next. Expect a post breaking things down when the Limited Publishing Agreement is posted.

Monday, August 6, 2018

How much detail at the start of a campaign?

One thing many referee wrestle with is how much detail to give about the setting? The short answer is that as much as they need. Yet that not helpful because the execution can be challenging. Why? It not a one size fits all. Different players have different level of interest even within the same group.

What I been doing for the past five or six years is regardless of the system I am using I try to come up with a concise list of classes/templates, and races/cultures. I pitch possible areas of the setting where they can start at along with various initial situation. Through a back and forth conversation we arrive at a consensus.

Then I do a informal pre-game interview with each player to gauge want they want to play and their level of interest. From that I give them what they need to generate the character, write up a background giving what their character know from their point of view. Both presented as tersely as possible.

Example from a recent campaign
  • a halfling knight riding a pig as a mount from Limerick Shire. 
  • A cleric of Hamakhis, a death god, who left temple and the demands of his father to become a pirate on the high seas. Still wants to serve Hamakhis and eventually gain enough power to become the next Vecna (i.e. my setting's equivalent). for the greater glory of Hamakhis.
Two of the players had a greater interest in their character background.
  • A merchant adventurer striking out on his own from his merchant house. He is not one good terms with his father. This was followed by a two page write up of what he knew about the economics, merchants, and trade details of the region. Most of it was traveller style lists.
  • The second player wanted to play a full blood Viridian, a demonic race that part of my Majestic Wilderlands. He is essentially a underground mage. He was bought by his master and trained as a artificer, a type of magic user in my setting, eventually winning enough of his respect to win his freedom. They parted on friendly terms and have a patron client relationship. He got a page on how the underground magic society of black magic, demonic sorcery, etc of Viridistan the City State of the ex World Emperor (killed by PCs two decades ago in real time). 


I tweaked each of their backgrounds so they had reason to cooperate on their broad goals .

Beyond that all I gave them a concise write up of the larger world. i.e. City State of the Invincible Overlord to the east, Desert to the south, and so forth and so on. Try to limit to a paragraph or two.

Basically a even more concise version what I wrote in my Majestic Wilderlands supplement throwing everything that a inhabitant of Viridistan Region would not know.

Oh and there were maps accompanying all this just because I like doing that sort of thing.




Friday, July 27, 2018

My first Fantasy Trip Aid also useful for GURPS and Dungeon Fantasy

A long time ago I made a set of customized graph paper to use with GURPS after I purchased the Cardboard Heroes: Dungeon Floors.

As you can see from the image below, SJ Games cleverly squashed the hexes to allow them to align with a rectangular grid. I drew up some graph paper so I can easily draw dungeons for my Majestic Wilderlands when I used GURPS as the rules.

After pledging to the The Fantasy Trip kickstarter I found a copy of In the Labyrinth for a reasonable price on eBay and bought it. In there and in the original Wizard which I also have. The Fantasy Trip has the concept of magahexes, a larger hex encompassing seven small hexes. It is used to adjudicate long ranges, area spells and other effects.



So I pulled out the old file and added a layer with Mega Hex border.

You can download it from here.

It is layered with the border, hexes, megahexes, and grid on separate layers. The advantage of this is that you can draw or transpose dungeon laid out on a grid to use with the hex map format of GURPS or The Fantasy Trip.


Monday, July 23, 2018

The Fantasy Trip Kickstarter is live

The Fantasy Trip, Melee, and Wizard are among the first games designed by Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games. They fairly rule lite using 3d6 (roll low) to resolve combat and magic. It is also one of the first line of games to straddle the line between RPGs and Wargames. Melee and Wizard are two standalone wargames. Melee focuses on a quick system to resolving melee fights between combatants. While Wizards focuses on magical duels with spells.

Into the Labyrinth combines and extends these wargames into a complete RPG known as the Fantasy Trip using Advanced Melee and Advanced Wizard to handle combat and magic along with additional rules like talents.

It was originally published by Metagaming but went out of print when the company went under in the early 1980s. US copyright laws allows authors after several decades (30+ years in this case) to recover copyright to their work. Steve Jackson took advantage of this provision to acquire the rights to the original rules of the Fantasy Trip along with the right to other parts of the line he wrote like Tollenkar's Lair, and the two Death Test solo adventures.

Now Steve Jackson Games has launched a kickstarter to get all three games including Tollenkar's Lair back in print.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Perfect Storm

So the complications are stacking up in my friend Dwayne's Middle Earth campaign using his 3d6 house system.

At one particularly dramatic moment a NPC received shocking information from a PC. I quipped "You should roll percentile and if a 1 come up the guy has a heart attack".

Dwayne rolled a 1.

The NPC died of a massive heart attack right then and there.


Friday, July 13, 2018

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy and the Hall of Judgment

The latest from Douglas Code is a kickstarter for an adventure for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy called the Hall of Judgment. It is an adaptation and revision of his earlier adventure Lost Hall of Tyr for the GURPS system. It is noteworthy because in part it is an experiment by SJ Games to see how 3rd party publisher support will be received by the fans of GURPS and how it will work out in the long run.

So far the kickstarter has been a success and it is now in it's last 24 hours. If you are a fan of GURPS and fantasy I recommend checking it out. Doug has a passion for Viking myth and legend and it shows in his previous works giving them a distinct feel. He knows GURPS inside and out and the mechanics side of the adventure will be solid. Finally he mastered the tricky art of making full color layouts and his books are a treat to read.




Thursday, June 28, 2018

It goes where? An idea seed for a science fiction campaign.

In the late 21st century, humanity has a tentative foothold within the solar system. There are thousands of humans living off planet scattered throughout the Earth-Moon system and a few transitory outposts on Mars and various near earth asteroids.

On July 6th 2089, observatories and astronomical satellites start tracking a high energy source inbound into the Solar system. Within 5 years it was clear that it was decelerating and would soon enter solar orbit. Over a dozen probes were developed and launched. Finally in 2098, the object entered into a solar orbit between Neptune and Uranus and ceased emitting energy. What remained was a small localized area where gravity was distorted. Barely detectable as stars and planets moved behind the object and then suddenly shifted back to their normal position once they emerged from behind.

The first probes reached the object in May of 2101, what they detected amazed everybody, it was a mechanism of alien manufacture creating an opening to a stable Rosen-Einstein bridge or wormhole several hundred meters in diameter. Upon further investigation the first transit was attempted and when the probe return and its data was analyzed the results were electrifying. It was not just a bridge through space but time as well.

The other end of the wormhole was in the orbit around Earth, Earth of 65 million years ago.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Recommendations for the original Wilderlands of High Fantasy

On a forum I was asked for a list of what original Judges Guild supplements were useful for a Wilderlands campaign. So I made a list along with my recommendations.  I may have missed one or two.

You can read the details on each of these at the Acaeum's excellent reference site.

The City States
City State of the Invincible Overlord
City State of the World Emperor (includes Map 6)
Modron
Tarantis

The Wilderlands of High Fantasy
Wilderlands of High Fantasy
Map 6 is found in CSWE
Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde
Wilderlands of the Magic Realm
Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches


The Wilderness Series
Mines of Custalcon
Spies of Lightelf
Pirates of Hagrost
Shield Maidens of Sea Rune
Witches Court Marshes

Adventures
Book of Treasure Maps
Book of Treasure Maps II
Book of Treasure Maps III
Lost Man's Trail
Prey of Darkness
Tegel Manor

City State Adventures
Glory Hole Dwarven Mine
Wraith Overlord: Terror Beneath the City State

Supplements
City State Warfare
Fantastic Personalities
Sea Steeds & Wave Riders
Wondrous Weapons
Ready Ref Sheets

Pegasus Magazine
Each had a Wilderlands supplement/adventure

Dungeoneer/Journal
Some issues had Wilderlands info.

For a novice looking at the originals my recommendation is to get them in the following order:

  • CSIO
  • Wilderlands of High Fantasy
  • Ready Ref Sheets
  • Book of Treasure Maps
  • Mines of Custalon
  • Tegal Manor
  • Glory Hole Dwarven Mine

If you find them useful and fun then get the rest of the Wilderlands Maps, and whatever else interests you.
The hardest and most expensive to find will be the City State of the World Emperor which has Map Six CSWE,. Luckily my revised Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde will be out in a few weeks and will Map Six in it.



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.

FAERIES
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.



Friday, March 9, 2018

City State Map spotted in the wild.

Thanks to Allan, Jon, and the Black Blade Publishing crew, my color City of the Invincible Overlord map made it debut at Gary Con. Wish I could have attended. But still if you want a copy the map is available on RPGNow for $10 print + shipping (around $3 to most of the USA).

Thanks to +Allan Grohe and +Guy Fullerton for the photos.



Update: I just learned from +Allan Grohe of Black Blade that they just all sold today. That was quick! Again thanks to the Black Blade Publishing crew for display my books and maps.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Scot Hoover aka Kellri needs your help

The OSR operates at a variety of different levels in the hobby and industry. Ranging from people who only blog, to full fledged publishers like Frog God Games and Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Among these people are the folks that "really know their stuff" and are excellent at producing useful tools and reference.

One of these is Scot Hoover also known as Kellri. Since the beginning of the OSR he has operated a blog packed with useful information and most well known for the Classic Dungeon Designer Netbook series. Particularly for #4 Encounter Reference. The complete list of what he wrote can be found on the right edge of his blog. Currently he is midst of a massive multi-year project called Dangerous Dungeons. A open content update of the Encounter Reference that expands and extends that work for OSRIC.

Unfortunately he suffered a stroke Monday and needs help. He has two kids and lives in Vietnam teaching English. If you can help he has a GoFundMe page. He trying to raise $5,000 to cover the diagnostics and treatment he needs to recover from this. Hope everybody can help him reach his goal. As of Saturday he is halfway to his goal.





Monday, February 19, 2018

OBS Content Program is terrible and it is now not just an opinion.

My first post of 2018 was about how the One Bookshelf community content were a terrible deal for authors ... with one exception.In the discussion here and elsewhere commentors noted that much of what I said was opinion regarding a technical area of IP law.

So I submitted a series of question to One Bookshelf. The answers were all I suspected, and not favorable to the independent creator.


Me

If I created a 5e supplement about Daggerford in the Forgotten Realms. And in had some original magic items of my own creation (for example the Spear of Night). Does the DM's Guild license preclude me from using that Item in a product outside of the DM's Guild.
One Bookshelf response
Yes, if you released that content on DMsguild then you cannot release it again as part of an OGL product. You could theoretically put that same magic item repeated in another DMsguild product.

Me
Suppose several years ago I released the Spear of Night in a d20 product and then later incorporate a variant of it in a DM's Guild product.

One Bookshelf response
If you've done that then you should not put the Spear of Night in a DMsguild product.


Me
Slightly more broad, say I release Mongoose Traveller 2nd edition product based on an original setting of my own creation (for example of Majestic Stars). Then I turn around later and release the same material for a different system. Not using any Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition. Does the Traveller Aid Society license prevent me from doing that?

One Bookshelf response
Yes, the Traveller's Aid Society does prevent you from doing so.


Me
What if I released the Majestic Stars under another set of rules and then released a Mongoose Traveller 2e version under the TAS?

One Bookshelf response
No, you cannot do that.


Me
Understand I am talking solely about reuse of control original to me. I am concerned as the Community Content licenses grant rights to derived  works. If I released a hypothetical Daggerford supplement I am fine with that product as a whole remains on the DM's Guild for the duration of its copyright. What I am not fine with is not being able to reuse original concept and elements that are original to me and not based on publisher's IP.

One Bookshelf response
I understand your concern here. If you want to maintain control of the content you should not make it part of any Community Content program. 

Final Comments
What makes this bad are the consequences it implies for being successful. If somebody is successful with any of these community content programs, and has built a body of work that in part original to them, the license preclude not only ever use it elsewhere but also forbids preparing derivative works.

This is particularly problematic with programs like the DM's Guild and Traveller Aid Society, as they are not just about a specific setting, but also define much of what is fantasy roleplaying and science fiction roleplaying through their culture impact. The derivative works clause comes close to being literally shackled to a specific factory floor.

It understandable that publishers want to maintain control over their own IP. These community content programs are innovative in the IP holders giving up some of the traditional control over one's IP.

Incorporating a no derivative content clause into these agreements to the third-party creator or original content is unjust. The use of a publisher's IP and the publicity behind the program does not make this a fair deal, and Wizards, Cypher, Mongoose, and the rest should ashamed for including this as part of the IP agreement being used.

This is even more so when you consider that under current US Law there is a specific provision for author to regain the rights to the works they created between 35 and 40 years after publication. Steve Jackson used this recently to regain the rights to the Fantasy Trip, Melee, and Wizard.

This exists because Congress, in a rare moment of sanity, recognized that publishers all too frequently take advantage of new authors. The newbie authors are forced to sign draconian contracts that effectively surrender lucrative rights to the work they create. It not some theoretical or ephemeral problem, but something that currently exists throughout creative industries.

Shame on the publishers for doing this, and shame on One Bookshelf for enabling it. Don't force authors to wait 35 to 40 years to get back rights that are theirs. Change the agreements to eliminate the claim to derivative content, and until then, spell out ALL of the rights the authors will be giving up front and center of the agreement and FAQ.

Note: Thanks to Douglas Cole of Gaming Ballistic taking the time to edit my post.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Talking about Authentic Medieval Roleplaying

I been doing a series of podcasts with Brendan Davis, Nick Seidler and Adam Baulderstone.

The first was with Brendan as gamemaster and featured a trap dungeon.

The second was me using my Majestic Fantasy Rules (based on Swords and Wizardry) to run an adventure set in a fantasy medieval setting.

The live stream is here and the podcast where we discussed it can be found here.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

One of those days.....

Every have one of those days and then something happens that just puts a smile on your face.




Congrats to everybody at SpaceX for a hell of an achievement