Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The proposed OGL 1.1 is not an open license. Fight for your hobby.

 Today Wizards of the Coast on DnD Beyond released an article called OGLs, SRDs, & One D&D. It talks about Wizards plans for a new version of the OGL. 

The recap the OGL stands for the Open Game License. According to Creative Commons, an open license means the content is free to use how you want it. In practice, this has meant that content was shared to let people use the content in any way, including commercially, the main requirements being that there is proper attribution of the original content used, and that any modifications are released under the same license. With the author listed as the creator of the modification.

The current two versions of the OGL v1.0 (3.X) and v1.0a meet the above criteria except for specific elements. 

  • You are allowed to designate part of the work as product identity which basically saying I am not releasing this part of my book as open content. This is often used for licensed IP like Lord of the Rings or Star Trek. It is sometimes used when the author doesn't want to share their setting but wants to use and modify a popular system.
  • You also explicitly agree to give up your right to cite compatibility to a trademarked product. This is something that you normally have the right to do when releasing a work when it is your content. I could have done this with Blackmarsh as I mostly used common monster names rather than anything specific out of the DnD editions.
The Changes

So what are the proposed changes?

First, we’re making sure that OGL 1.1 is clear about what it covers and what it doesn’t. 

What OGL 1.1 will cover are electronic files like PDF, and printed books this right off mean that OGL 1.1 is no longer an open license as it restricts how you can use the open content. As the definition of open content means you can use it in the manner you see fit.

The next change

Second, we’re updating the OGL to offer different terms to creators who choose to make free, share-alike content and creators who want to sell their products.  

They list a number of requirements that amount to you having to report any sales of any products licensed under the OGL 1.1 as well as a description of what it is you are selling.  And if you make over a threshold ($750,000) then you will be expected to pay royalties by 2024. 

Wrapping it up

This will further bifurcate the third party publisher market. OGL 1.0 and OGL 1.0a content can't be used with OGL 1.1 content as a result of Section 12 of the current OGL.

12. Inability to Comply: If it is impossible for You to comply with any of the terms of this License with respect to some or all of the Open Game Content due to statute, judicial order, or governmental regulation then You may not Use any Open Game Material so affected.

Right now the world of 3PP is divided into those who use open content like Pathfinder, Cepheus, OSRIC, Old School Essentials, and those who publish in community content programs like the DM's Guild.  In fact, I predict there will be three major 3PP communities for Dungeons and Dragons, the ones that continue to use the OGL 1.0a license, those who use the OGL 1.1 license, and those who use community content programs.

I realize there is a lot of speculation and criticism out there that are made because OneDnD is the news of the days. I limited myself to what the article said. At various times in the history of open source and creative commons, unscrupulous companies and individuals tried to put out their own licenses including ones with terms very much like the above. Each and every time this has not ended well for the bad actors and their licenses. Either they reverted back to a traditional commercial license and ceased their use of the open content. Or they came into compliance. 

If you value your freedom to produce and more commonly share the content you create for Dungeons and Dragons then let Wizards know that you find these proposed terms unacceptable. Let them know that the community has the tools right now to fix the issue on their own and will do so as shown by what happen with DnD 4e, the GSL, and Pathfinder.

This is your hobby and your game now. Don't let Hasbro try to take that away from you.

Fight On!


I added some comments on Section 9 of the OGL which appears to be a point of attack by the Wizards' legal team to shut down the OGL.

Section 9 of the OGL

Concerning Bat in the Attic Games, Steady as She Goes and further thoughts on the OGL

For those who are new.

I have long been an advocate of open content released under the open license. Blackmarsh is free for any of use in any manner you see if. Likely the entire content of the Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG is open content. 

Some past posts.

You are free now so go enjoy it.

An OGL Primer

A tale of two OGLs

Zweihander, Open Content, and a reply to Daniel Fox.

Ryan Dancy on the Open Game License

Finally some practical effects of making Blackmarsh open content. I would not have had the time or skills to do any of these projects but now folks who read Spanish, French, Italian and Hungarian can enjoy Blackmarsh in their languages as well as fans of Heroes and Other Worlds. 

And because these were solely the work of their respective author who put the work into making a version of Blackmarsh, they get to reap 100% of the financial rewards. Something I am fine with when I shared Blackmarsh as open content.

Blackmarsh in Spanish!

Périlleuses contrées: Fangenoire (Blackmarsh in French)

Italian version of Blackmarsh

Blackmarsh in Hungarian!

Blackmarsh for Heroes & Other Worlds

Sunday, December 4, 2022

A Fantasy Sandbox in Detail Part XXIII

 Part XXII  Index Page

This is the twenty-third post in a series detailing the 34 steps I recommended for making a Fantasy Sandbox Campaign. 

Today's post will cover steps 29 to 32. 

  1. Pick the 12 most important NPC or Monsters 
  2. Write a paragraph describing each and fully stat them. 
  3. Pick the most six common encounter type. (City Guard, Border Warders, Bloody Hand, Orcs) Write a paragraph and fully stat them.
  4. Scan your description for any regional organization and write a paragraph on them. Fully stat the most common encounters involved with them.

My choice of using a small example like the Isle of Piall constrains my choices of what to pick for important NPCs, Monsters, encounters, and organizations. It does illustrate an important point about making a sandbox, its scope. 

The details increase geometrically with the area covered by the setting. Piall is five hex columns by five hex rows and has about 27 entries. Blackmarsh has 27 hex columns and 19 hex rows and has 94 entries. Finally my upcoming "Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms" has four maps each with 31 hex columns 41 hex rows along with 200+ entries each. The amount of detail grows geometrically as the size of the map grows. Make the map twice the size in terms of hex rows and columns, and you will have to put in four times the work. 

If you pick a smaller number of locales to flesh out on a larger map this will mean more to make up as the campaign progresses. For your first sandbox make it a size that you feel comfortable with. The time estimate that accompanied the first posts of this series was based on an area the size of Blackmarsh, a map the size of a regular piece of paper, with about 100 entries total.

What to Detail?

The most important NPCs or monsters on the Isle of Piall should be the ones that the players are likely to interact with. Once you determined this list then describe their capabilities and/or plans in detail. Given the limited scope of the Isle of Piall I opted to describe 14 individuals and their associated organizations.

The NPCs of Piall

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Now for the news about Space the Final Frontier

Updating everybody on the pressing irrelevant question of the day. What uniforms will the US Space Force pick?

A bit of background. So among world's aerospace units, the triangular delta symbol is somewhat popular. So when the US Space Force was formed they went with this. Whose popularity probably is no small part influenced by a certain beloved late 60s series

So the question now is where their uniform will come from? From which navy of American sci-fi they will draw inspiration from?  Well, we now have our answer.

Another beloved sci-fi tv series but not the original but the reboot version


Monday, September 12, 2022

Keeping Strict Time Records in Lord of the Rings

 So apparently J.R.R. Tolkien kept strict time records.

Chronology of the Lord of the Ring ($20)

Rob's Note: This is a link to a PDF purchase of an academic article. You can read the synopsis for free.

Rob's Note: I realize the sample image is hard to read. It was the best avaliable.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

1D&D: The 5E Skill System Is not broken, but it may not work out for you.

 On the Alexandrian, Justin Alexander writes a 2,500-word review that tears apart the DnD 5e skill system. This appears to have been prompted by the fact that the One DnD playtest added a rule that 1 is a failure on ALL d20 rolls and a 20 is a auto success (and grants a point of inspiration) on ALL d20 rolls. In the current rules natural 1's and 20's only matter on the to-hit roll. Although myself and others I know apply it to ability checks, saves, and skill checks. 

The review is quite detailed in goes into some of the math behind the DnD 5e skill system. 

And it misses the entire point of the skill system. 

First off for those interested, here is a link from back in the day explaining what bounded accuracy is about and includes a link to the original article from Wizards explaining it.

Are peoples' competencies really as flat in D&D 5e as its math suggests?

What it boils down to is what is the author's view of the fantasy genre? (since DnD 5e is meant to handle various fantasy settings). In DnD case the specific question, is what is a 1st level character is like? What is a 6th level character like? A 12th level character? And so on up to the maximum level the author wants to write about. In 5e's case that is 20th level.

It is not apparent from Justin's review what he views what characters should be doing in non-combat situations at various levels. He references low-level 3.X a lot but doesn't say why. I am left with the impression that he feels somehow the 5e target numbers should match those of low-level 3.5?

For me the 5e authors take is apparent. You start out so-so: 55% success for easy (DC 10), 30% for moderate (DC 15), and 5% for Hard (DC 20). With a +4 attribute bonus and a +2 proficiency, you can get those up to 85% success for easy, 60% for moderate, and 35% for hard. This is at 1st level. 

To me, this means the authors feel when it comes to non-combat tasks that 5e 1st level characters have some measure of competence. If your view of the capabilities of first-level characters is not the same then the above isn't going to work for your campaigns.

At 20th level for most characters, the odds shift. Now characters often have a +5 attribute bonus, and a +6 proficiency bonus.   You going to automatically succeed at DC 10 (Easy) task. 85% success for DC 15 (Moderate) tasks, and 60% success for DC 20 (Hard) tasks.

If these odds don't reflect what you think 20th-level characters are capable of then 5e isn't going to work out. 

Bards and Rogues along with two feats in the later books give expertise. Rogues also have Reliable Talent at 11th level. Expertise doubles the proficiency bonus for some skills. This shifts the odds of success in skill and ability checks considerably. 

At 1st level, we are talking about a +10% improvement with any skills that have expertise. At 20th level Rogue and Bards with expertise will automatically succeed on DC 10 (Easy), and DC 15 (Moderate) tasks, and have a 90% chance of success on DC 20 (Hard) tasks. 

With Rogues, when they get Reliable Talent at 11th level, the player can declare that they roll a 10 with a skill check. This means they will succeed with everything up to a Hard task? 

Justin fail to mention that there are two more task levels DC 25 (Very Hard), and DC 30 (Almost Impossible). A 20th-level Rogue with reliable talent will always succeed at DC 25 task (10 + 17 = 27).

Is this bad? Is this poor math on the designer's part? No, it fits with their view of what Rogues (and Bards) are capable of at 1st, 11th, and 20th level. This is why I put a reference to something that I and others have written back in 2014. To show why 5e authors wrote up the classes and mechanics the way they did.

As for the change in the One DnD playtest, it is more about making the system reflect how hobbyists like you and me actually play 5e rather than trying to fix a non-existent math issue.

If that is not how you view the capabilities of a Rogue or a Bard then 5e isn't going to work for you. 

And certainly not for Justin Alexander.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Stuff in the Attic updated with Faeries and Demons!

 I shared these PDFs on other forums but forgot to update my Stuff in the Attic page.

Demons and Divine Servants

This booklet contains how I handle demons using my Majestic Fantasy rules along with a first pass on what Divine Servants are like. It also has a short essay on the nature of evil and demons. Note that when it comes to my take on fantasy settings I am not a fan of Milton's approach where Lucifer is a anti-hero. Although I did thoroughly enjoy the Lucifier series. 

Demons and Divine Servants

Sometimes I like to do things because I find them fun like making a in-game religious document. This is the Scroll of the Beginning which is a version of the Bible's Book of Genesis for some religions of the Majestic Fantasy Realms. This also relevant to the origins of the demons. 

Scroll of the Beginning


For a long time, I struggled to come up with a "hook" that allowed me to roleplay Faeries. Faeries in the Majestic Fantasy are born from magic coalescing around strong emotions both positive and negative. In order to grow and thrive, they seek to recreate these emotions. The more emotions they master, the stronger they become. This booklet contains a short essay about their nature.


Wrapping it up
Hope you find both of these useful for your campaign. As for Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms, I am in the midst of southern mountains and deserts describing what I find. Currently, I am about 75% of the way through all four maps.

Friday, August 19, 2022

One D&D, Character Origins

 As part of their announcement yesterday, Wizards of the Coast released the first playtest document for One DnD, Character Origins.

One Dnd Playtest

The bulk of the document is about how they are going to handle Character Races and Backgrounds in the next version of DnD. Interestingly they include snippets of other sections of the rules to give some context for the other mechanics they mentioned in the section about Origins.

Rob's Notes: So folks understand where I am coming from I care far more that the mechanics reflect the nuances of a setting or genre than "game balance. I am a strong proponent that having a consistent view of the genre or setting is more important. As opposed to making Option A, B, and C have equal weight in the campaign. 

Character Origins

It looks like they want to bind Character Race and Background more tightly in One DnD. Emphasize roleplaying more by giving background equal weight to character weight. In core 5e, background is almost an afterthought. Later Adventures in Middle Earth ditched the idea that the two are separate and combined them into cultures. For example, a dwarf of the Lonely Mountain has some things in common with a Dwarf of the Blue Mountain and some things are different. Each has its own section in the AiME books.

Controversially they shifted some of the benefits around race and background. A character race still grants distinct special abilities but now the attribute bonuses are determined by the background the player chooses. For example, picking the Guard background will get you +2 strength and +1 wisdom in addition to a set of skill proficiencies, tool proficiencies, an additional language, and what they calling a 1st level Feat. 

I think this was a poor creative choice. In DnD fantasy it is well established that elves are more dexterous, dwarves are hardier, and so on. This change doesn't feel very DnDish to me. But my choice would have been to split the bonuses between race and background. Just like in AiME a dwarven guard would have of some the same bonuses as a Dwarven Pilgrim and some that were different.

My final analysis is that in comparison to 5e core, characters are going to get a tad bit more with Character Origins. Like AiME there is more emphasis on the roleplaying details. That the difference between the 5e Core and One DnD is small and incremental in this area of the rules.

Starting Languages

One DnD Character will know common, a language from their background, and a language from the list of Standard Langauge: Common, Common Sign Language, Dwarvish, Elvish, Giant, Gnomish, Goblin, Halfling, and Orc.

I find the addition of Sign Language interesting and plan to do some research into the historical use of sign language and incorporate that as an option for my Majestic Fantasy RPG. I also watched the movie Prey and the protagonists of the film, Comanches, also used a type of sign language.

Feat Description.

In my 5e campaigns, I didn't often use feats having a negative experience with the mechanic as a result of 3.X. But 5e's take on feat is far more laid back overall so sometimes when a player makes a good case that a particular feat fit his character background, I will allow the pick.

However when it came to AiME, they recast the feat mechanic as virtues. And it worked rather well and really enhances the feel of the system as a Middle Earth RPG.

This section includes feats like Alert, Crafter, Lucky, Magic Initiate, Musician, Savage Attacker, Skilled, Tavern Brawler and Tough. I find it to be a varied mix of combat and non-combat options that are somewhat laid back overall like the core 5e feats. Some like skilled may have to be tested in actual play to see if they are too generous or not. Skilled give three proficiencies in skills. 

Given the limited of 5e skills that could be overkill or maybe it is just right. I would judge this on the basis of "Does this make sense for the DnD fantasy genre that a character starting out to be proficient in this many skills?" compared to the overall skill list.

Feats also have a level requirement baked in as part of the standard description. Will have to see the full description of feats before making a call on whether this works out or not. 

Rules Glossary

The author explains some of the mechanics they referenced in the preceding sections.

Types of Magic

There are not three instead of two types of magic. Primal joins Arcane and Divine. Could be a good roleplaying flavor.

Tool Proficiency

They list Artisan's Tools, Gaming Set, Musical Instrument, and notes on Tool Proficiencies in general. Some observations.  

  • If you have proficiency in a relevant tool and skill you gain an advantage on the d20 roll
  • It appears One DnD is simplifying the price list and acquisition of equipment. 
  • Their attempt at terminology to avoid naming editions is to say "see 2014, Player's Handbook".

Creature Types

Like the 2014 rule books, there are creature types and certain ability may work differently for a specific type of creature.

D20 Test

One DnD will introduce D20 Test as a term to describe any use of the 1d20 high mechanics. Ability Checks,  Saving Throws, To-Hit Rolls, etc. It appears to be a way of consolidating the die rolling mechanics under a single header.


  • Rolling a 1 on anything a D20 Test is a failure
  • Rolling a 20 on anything grants inspiration.
  • Critical Hits rolling a 20 on a weapon or unarmed attack will double the damage dice. 
There is currently a lot of controversy over whether the last this applies to monsters or not. Ever since I have been involved with later editions of DnD starting with 3.0 in 2000. There have been two broad camps regarding the system. One side believes that X can happen only if it is explicitly allowed. The other side believes that unless it is specifically not allowed  X can happen. I happened to be part of the latter camp. 

The text in question says

As you can have NPCs with class and level taking this literally will lead to logical inconsistencies as to how the genre and setting are depicted. 

Grappled Condition
I think it is written up better in One DnD than in the 2014 rules. Speed is zero, attacks on anybody but the grappler are at a disadvantage, you can be moved except the grappler is considered slowed, and the escape conditions are expanded and explained better.

Incapacitated Condition
The original 2014 rule is intact and the following has been added; concentration is automatically broken, can't speak, and if you have to roll initiative while incapacitated then you roll at a disadvantage. 

Mentioning concentration is probably wise, while it stated in concentration that you lose it if you are incapacitated it makes the rulebook more user-friendly to mention it in the condition as well.

The can't speak part is stating the obvious in my opinion. 

I can see a point in mentioning the last. Combat can ensue when the character is already incapacitated and the 2014 rules taken literally would mean that the character makes a normal init roll.

Many aspects of Inspiration are the same as the 2014 rules. Spending it grants advantage on what is now called a D20 Test. It still can be awarded as a result of good roleplaying. You can only have one. There are now additional opportunities to gain Inspiration like the crit roll.  However, now you lose any Inspiration when you take a long rest.

Inspiration was a controversial part of 5e from the start. My view of this take it is that more akin to luck mechanics or system that give you some type of ongoing benefit as a result of a critical.

I used Inspiration occasionally as part of my 5e campaign. I don't see any particular issue incorporating this as an additional crit result. 

Long Rest
The same with a new addition that if you are interrupted over an hour in, you get the benefits of a short rest.

Slowed Condition
One DnD adds a new condition Slowed. 
  • spend 1 extra foot of movement for every foot you move using your Speed.
  • Attackers have advantage on you
  • Disadvantage on Dex Saves
A new sense has been added. Basically you can locate (but not see) anybody in a radius around you as long as they are in contact with the same surface as you are on.

Unarmed Strike
They combined the 2014 version of Unarmed strike, grappling, and Shove into a single ability with three choices for when you make a successful attack. Also to escape a Grapple is DC 8 + strength mod + proficiency bonus. Not the opposed skill check of the 2014 rules.

New Spell Lists
Take the cantrips and 1st level spells from the 2014 rules and divides them into the three categories of Arcane, Divine, and Primal.

Wrapping it Up
So far it looks like pretty much still 5e. If I had to guess I bet for most of you reading this it reads like somebody's list of house rules or even your own house rules. A bunch of tweaks and reformatted sections to suit the author's sensibilities. Still seems like 5e to me and more importantly doesn't alter how easy it is to hack or tweak 5e into the system you want to use. Plus some of it makes sense and would be useful like the Slowed Condition and the grappling changes. 

Next are some thoughts on DnD Digital.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

One D&D, The Announcement

So One D&D?

Today Wizards announced some details about what happening to DnD. 

The one thing they hammer on in the initial press release is that Wizard does not what you to think of it as the next edition. In the press release, they are stressing that One DnD is 100% compatible with 5e. Using Curse of Strahd as an example of something that can work equally well with the current 5e rules now and the One DnD core rules later.

I believe them. If the authors make that their goal it is totally doable given my experience dragging the Majestic Wilderlands through multiple systems. And we have actual examples of how this would work with Adventures in Middle Earth versus DnD 5e Core rulebooks. 

But there is a catch. 

A catch?
The feel of a campaign is determined by the referee's personal style, along with how the systaffand stuff work together. Using AiME as an example again, it uses the 5e system but with radically different stuff (classes, monster, abilities, etc.) that turns it into a Middle Earth RPG. 

An AiME campaign doesn't feel like a core book 5e campaign. Even if you were to use the same adventures for both. Which happened to me when I ran an adaptation of Scourge of the Demon Wolf for AiME at Con on the Cob a few years ago.

One DnD likely is 100% compatible by continuing to use the 5e system. It may have a completely different feel because of the stuff the authors choose to use for the RPG. If it is different enough my guess is that most hobbyists will consider it a new edition despite the marketing.

Another observation the closest analogy we have is the transition from 3.0 to 3.5. And that didn't go over well for 3.0 products and put the final nailing into bursting the d20 boom. But the Wizards as a company deliberately decided to design 3.5 so it is not quite compatible with 3.0.

Here the design team wants the system to remain 100% compatible limiting changes to the stuff (classes, skills, spells, etc.).

Wrapping it up

We will see how they do as they are having a somewhat open playtest on DnD Beyond.

I will have further comments later on DnD Digital and the initial playtest on Character Origins.

Next: Thoughts on the One DnD: Character Options.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Concerning Bat in the Attic Games, Voyaging into Strange New Worlds.

First I appreciate everybody's support! I wasn't expecting the amount of traffic and that the outstanding amount would be covered in only three days. I was going by past sales and I figured on triple the normal traffic. Instead, I got way more. Thanks and appreciate the business. 

What is still available?

I have Blackmarsh, The Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG, Quick Reference Cards for Swords and Wizardry, and Quick Reference Cards for the Majestic Fantasy Basic Rules at the Bat in the Attic storefront

I also have Stuff in the Attic. It is packed with a bunch of free downloads some of which probably should been released in their own right like Merchant Adventures.

What Next?

 So now that the Judges Guild license is over with, what is next for me and Bat in the Attic Games? 

I am fortunate in that prior to getting the Judges Guild license in 2009, I was working on a new setting that was built around the material that is original to me. Folks saw parts of this as Points of Light, Points of Light II, the Sunrise Sea from Goodman Games, and as well as my own Blackmarsh. Originally I was going to call it Lands of Adventures, but now it going to be the Majestic Fantasy Realms. 

The Majestic Fantasy Realms is going to build on the techniques I have learned over the past decade. Any regional map I make for the Majestic Fantasy Realms will be cropped from a much larger map that I do my drawing on. 

This map is roughly the size of the continent of Flaness in the World of Greyhawk. It has a 5 mile grid at full print size (roughly 3/8" per hex). The advantage of this will mean that all maps will align perfectly with each other. 

While I have a sketch and notes on the details of the different regions. I will be building this piecemeal at first. Basically in four map sets. When I get a couple of these done, I will probably release a World of Greyhawk style folio covering the entire setting from a high-level view. The firs 

I am doing this to keep the focus on local level detail, the part that matters for most campaigns.  Each map campaign set of four maps covers a region 300 miles by 400 miles. Enough to keep a campaign going for several levels.

The first four maps will be released as Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms and it is the main focus at this time. I am about halfway done with the writing and shooting for a fall release.

Some close up views

Currently, Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms will have 10 12" by 18" map sheets. Four referee maps, four player maps, and an additional one or two maps with town maps. Along with a guide book for the four maps. Each map will have an overall background and details on Terrain, Islands, Lairs, and Settlements keyed by hex number.

Wrapping it up

Again thanks for your support. Below is a brief list of what I have planned in the order that they will be released.

  • Scourge of the Demon Wolf, Revised & Updated (for the Majestic Fantasy rules and setting).
  • Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms
  • The Manual of Puissant Skill, a player's manual for the Majestic Fantasy RPG 
  • Deceits of the Russet Lord Adventure.
  • The remaining volumes of the Majestic Fantasy RPG (total of three more). 
  • Night's Bride Coven Adventure

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Concerning Judges Guild, To All Things an End

I appreciate the outpouring of support and patronage. As of 7:00pm eastern time, the amount of deferred royalties is enough to pay off the outstanding balance Judges Guild owes on the Wilderlands maps done by myself for the City-State Kickstarter. Accordingly, I have ceased sales of all Judges Guild licensed products.  A follow-up post will be up tomorrow. Again thank you.

Rob's Note: For what I will be doing next please see Concerning Bat in the Attic, Voyages into Strange New Worlds.

Currently, I have three main product lines two of which are produced under a license from Judges Guild. For a long time, I had a good relationship with Robert Bledsaw II, the son of Bob Bledsaw one of the founders of Judges Guild, and the current owner of the IP. 

In February of 2020, I learned that Robert Bledsaw II was making unacceptable social media posts after which I no longer wished to continue to have a business relationship with Judges Guild. The details of this can be read in the following two posts along with the sources they reference.

The problem I faced was that I was owed a substantial amount of money for the work I had done on mapping the Wilderlands of High Fantasy as a result of the issues surrounding the City-State Kickstarter. Prior to this, in March of 2018, it was resolved by Robert Bledsaw II offering to forgo his royalties until it was paid. I agreed to this and until 2020 it was working out nicely.

With much of the outstanding balance remaining, I decided not to end sales of the Majestic Wilderlands or the Judges Guild Wilderlands remakes. I did inform Robert Bledsaw II that I would no longer be producing any new Majestic Wilderlands products or asking to make another remake. That when the outstanding balance was paid, I will cease sales of all Judges Guild licensed products.

Right now the outstanding balance is less than $90. With royalty percentage for Judges Guild and DriveThruRPG percentage of sales, this is roughly around $1,500 worth of licensed products. Normally three months at the current rate of sales for me. I am aware that once I announce that sales are ending that there will be a last-minute rush. So I decided long ago that when the outstanding balance got this low that I would make the announcement then.

Accordingly, I will end sales of all Judges Guild licensed products by Monday, August 21st, 2022. That will give those interested two weekends in August to decide. It will end early if I reach $1,500 worth of sales. I apologize if this last point creates a gold rush mentality. Personally I intensely dislike sales gimmicks. Given the circumstances, it is what I am willing to do. 

Wrapping it up
Going forward I will be making another post concerning Bat in the Attic Games and the status of the projects I have been working on. 

As for the situation with Judges Guild and the behavior of Robert Bledsaw II, I will let my actions speak for themselves. I will only add that subsequent events have confirmed for me that I made the right choice in this matter.

There are two issues surrounding Judges Guild, the personal behavior of Robert Bledsaw II, and the business situation regarding the City-State Kickstarter. The reasons why both are still issues in 2022 are why I feel pursuing the Majestic Fantasy Realms and other original projects is the best course of action for me going forward.

I appreciate the support everybody has given and your kind words. Thank you for the feedback on my works and honored that you would buy my products. There is more to come that I think you will useful and above all fun!

Friday, August 5, 2022

Old School Solo Adventures for Old School Essentials

 The Fantasy Trip by Steve Jackson Games has a long tradition of offering solo adventures like Death Test. When Douglas Cole of Gaming Ballistic secured a 3PP license for TFT he and his authors continued that tradition with their own series of adventures.

Now he and his team of authors did the work into making these adventures compatible with Old School Essentials. Given that OSE is a hop and skip from a dozen other classic editions and close clones these adventures can be used by a wide variety of OSR systems. 

He has started a Kickstarter to fund the printing and final work on these adventures.

Old-School Solo Adventures

I was given Til Death do Us Part to try and I found it fun and interesting to play out. Its replayability is good as there are multiple paths with multiple outcomes to explore. I think leveraging the TFT community's experience with solo adventures  is a great idea and will create a fun niche for classic edition hobbyists to play with between sessions and campaigns.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Périlleuses contrées: Fangenoire (Blackmarsh in French)

While I enjoy getting the revenues I get from my sales as Bat in the Attic Games. The biggest reward is getting to share my material and doing in it a way that is professional and useful. Since the point is sharing, I like to release most of the material I make as open content. Why?

Part of it is promotion. Making it easy for others to share my stuff so people will seek out the other things I have. But the other important reason is to allow projects to happen that I don't have the resources or time to do, like translation into other languages.

So I am pleased to announce that Blackmarsh has been published in French!

This is due to the efforts of Philippe Tromeur and his team. They have a bunch of translations on DriveThruRPG for other products with open content. There will be a print version of this available in the next few months on Lulu 

I appreciate this and hope this makes Blackmarsh more accessible for those whose primary language is French. 

Important Rob's Note: I am perfectly fine with the fees charged by people who use my open content. A lot of work went into this and folks deserve to be compensated in the matter they see fit. If I had a problem with it I wouldn't have released it as open content. For Fangenoire, Philippe has opted to make the PDF free to download on DriveThruRPG.

Other Translations

Other Versions

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Multiple Fighter attacks revisited for Swords & Wizardry

Inspired by the classic edition rule where a fighter gets one attack per level when attacking 1 HD or lower foes (or in ADnD lower than 1 HD starting at 1-1 HD). I came up with the following rule for my Majestic Fantasy RPG.

Can use a melee weapon to attack a number of creatures with a total hit dice equal to the Fighter’s level. There is always a minimum of one attack allowed. If the creature has a modifier to their hit dice, round up to the nearest whole number. For example, a giant fire beetle has HD 1+3; treat this the same as a creature with HD 2.

In addition, Fighters are allowed to add their to-hit bonus (or the difference between hitting AC 0 at 1st level and their current chance of hitting AC 0) to the initiative die roll. 

The conjunction of the two has given fighting in my Majestic Fantasy campaign a much welcome boost in effectiveness without being overpowered in the way the ADnD multiple attacks and Unearthed Arcana options are.

One thing I did think of when I wrote the basic rules was writing about how I applied the multiple attack rule during play.

One thing learned from my career writing software for metal cutting machines is that folks find division harder. While I can do division pretty fast, I do subtraction even faster. So the way I apply the multiple attack rule is as follows.

  • The players pick a target and resolve their attack.
  • I subtract the target's hit dice from the character level and there is nothing left over. I see if it equals or exceeds the target's hit dice.
  • If it does then the character gets to resolve another attack on the target. 
  • If it does not then I look to see if anything is within melee reach or within the reach of a single five footstep. If there are I look at their hit dice. If equal to or less than the remaining total. I narrate the result by saying "You see an opening on targets to your left and right, which do you choose?" 
  • The player can elect to follow up with another attack or a step and attack. If they do they get to resolve that attack.
  • This is repeated until the players exhausted all the hit dice they can attack.
Since I need to know monster hit dice (or character level) anyway to resolve their attacks, it doesn't require me to come up with any more information than what is already there. Because it involves subtraction it is easy to keep track of the total.  Because the totals are small (for example 5 HD worth of attacks at the 5th level) it doesn't take many steps to resolve in most cases. 

The times where it is most decisive is when you have a leader type and a bunch of minions. This rule allows the fighter to attack the leader, but also takes out one or two of the adjacent minions.

I haven't applied these rules to monsters despite the multiple attack rule on page 5 of Monsters and Treasures from the original rules. I feel that this was in part superseded by the grant of multiple attacks in the Greyhawk supplement to various monsters.

However after a recent playtest of my Deceits of the Russet Lord adventure, I may add this as an explicit ability to certain monsters. For example, a Sidhe Lord with 10 hit dice would be able to target 10 HD worth of creatures or characters. But I would stick with the traditional three attacks that an Owlbear would get.

The cutoff would be if the monster hit dice is in part a reflection of skill as opposed to instinct, I would add this to the monster. NPCs are already taken care of as in the Majestic Fantasy RPG they are leveled characters. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

You too can own Harn for a $1

 Columbia Games is running a special called the Harn's Beginner Guide for $1. 

Link to Special

This consists of the core books of Harnworld. You get the HarnWorld article, the HarnDex (a mini encyclopedia of Harn), The Cities and Town article, and of course the map of Harn.

This effectively replicates and expands the material from the original release of Harn. Also note even if you don't wind up using Harn directly there is a lot of info inside that is applicable to most fantasy settings especially they are a fantasy medieval milieu. 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Your own custom RPG rulebook, mini binders

A couple of years back I found a mini binder at my local Staples. There was also various inserts including pouches and dividers you could buy as well. I realize this was the solution to a organizational problem I was having with running my campaigns. 

Often core rulebooks and supplements are too verbose to use as references during play. You have to read through a bunch of explanatory text before getting to the heart of the mechanics or details like the modifiers you need. 

So since the early 80s I been making cheat sheets for the RPG I used. Especially for GURPS. 

Binders were letter sized, often too big to be handy. So I shifted to loose sheets. But loose sheets get scattered.

So when I saw this

 I knew I could get the benefits of my old binders but in a convenient form almost as good as loose sheets and without the issue of things getting scattered. So I bought the above as well as some inserts. Then I started to make what I needed for my campaigns. The two that had the most work were for my Majestic Wilderlands using my Majestic Fantasy Rules (based on Swords and Wizardry) and for DnD 5th edition. Also included setting material from the Majestic Wilderlands and Blackmarsh.

Is is one of the binderx open showing the different pages, dividers, and pages.

The binder cover has interior pockets. I printed stuff on digest sized pages and used dividers to organize them. This was followed by a couple of pocket inserts. Then after I added some punched digest sized graph paper and digest sized punched paper with ruled lines. Then finally a pouch with pens, pencils, and index cards.

Here is what I put into each.

The Majestic Wilderlands

  • Pouch with Pens, Pencil and Index Cards

Rob's Notes: I am planning to replace my Majestic Fantasy Basic Rules in the binder with a even more terse reference. Followed by a character class reference so I can quickly answer player questions.

Blackmarsh/DnD 5e

This binder is also used when I run my Majestic Wilderlands using the 5th edition rules.

  • My favorite letter sized 5e reference charts, shrunk a tad, laminated and turned into fold outs.
  • A blank 5e character sheet
  • A terse combat summary

  • A letter sized foldout map of Blackmarsh
  • Pocket inserts with 5e monster stats printed on index cards.
  • Graph Paper
  • A pouch insert with pens, pencils, and blank index cards.
  • I also have 5e reference booklets that I used before this in the inside pockets of the binder.
Handy Amazon Links

Monday, January 17, 2022

Openquest SRD released!

Today the Openquest SRD was released by Newt of D101 Games. Openquest is an D100 RPG based on the open content of the Legends RPG released by Mongoose. It has a small but growing community of fans behind it.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year, Bat in the Attic Updates, and a bit of medieval trivia.

 Happy New Year everybody! Hope folks have a great 2022.

An update on my Bat in the Attic projects. 

Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms

I am currently working on Into the Majestic Realms which will be a four map set combining the Wild North, Blackmarsh and Southland. This will be formatted the same as Blackmarsh as well as set in the same world as Blackmarsh and the Points of Light series. 

The maps will be offered the 12" by 18" format that DriveThruRPG support. Unlike the Wilderlands where I had to divide the maps, Majestic Fantasy Realms maps will be designed around this size. In addition like my Wilderlands project these maps are cropped from a much larger whole. So as the series progresses in the coming years everything will overlap perfectly along with the option of printing the entire setting as a complete whole. The image is showing the four combined maps.

Scourge of the Demon Wolf Redux

Along with the above, I will be reworking the background of Scourge of the Demon Wolf to set it within the Majestic Fantasy Realms. Which is will hopefully address one of the common complaints of the original that the hexcrawl setting I included was a bit thin. This will also allow me to continue to offer the adventure after the Judges Guild license sunsets. 

The Majestic Fantasy RPG

After I get this out I will get the next volumes out for my Majestic Fantasy RPG. Unlike the basic rules this will cover all the levels and options. The volumes currently being planned are:

  • The Manual of Puissant Skill - covering character creation and combat.
  • The Legendarium of the Fantastic - a collection of monsters. 
  • The Domesday Codex - a collection of NPCs. 
  • The Tome of the Mundane, Strange, and Arcane - rules for campaigns along with magic items and other treasures. For example rules for playing merchants, and lists of herbs and potions.

Like the Basic Rules I will giving everything a sense of "place" that they exist as part of a larger world. 

Deceits of the Russet Lord

This will be the next sandbox adventure. Like Scourge of the Demon Wolf, it is a situation that can be resolved in a number of ways. What is it about?

The Deceits of the Russet Lord is an adventure involving star crossed lovers, corrupt monks, rebellious peasants, tyrannical lords, bloodthirsty orcs, and the one that orchestrated it all, the Russet Lord.

Further out

The above should occupy my release schedule for the next year and a half. I have several less developed projects most of them focusing on the Majestic Fantasy Realms. I do want try my hand at science fiction roleplaying at some point. I have a setting that I call the Majestic Stars centered around the idea that 65 million years ago the dinosaurs had a star spanning civilization that terraformed nearly every world in local galactic space. It was then wiped out leaving many of these planets including Earth to develop on their own.  I came up up with the idea to account why there were so many inhabitable planets when you use the Traveller world generation system.

Medieval Filing System

So recently I been watching a Discovery of Witches. Part of the series is set during 16th century Europe. Throughout this portion I noticed this in several places.

Letters hanging from cords or threads. So I dug into it and found that during that era and earlier, places that deal with a lot of paperwork and letters would punch a hole in them and thread along a cord. Related documents would go on the same cord. You can see some of this in this painting. Just zoom to the upper left corner to see the cord those letters are hanging off of.

Hopefully you find this useful as a bit of color when the PCs break into some medieval clerk's or noble's office.