Thursday, August 25, 2011

Unholy Matrimony

Hey look, more Adventurer Conqueror King content!

As I was a "Visionary" contributor to ACKS' original Kickstarter funding project, I was given the opportunity to place an art order for an illustration I'd like to see in the final product. Not long after I pledged my support, Ryan Browning, the lead artist for the game, contacted me and asked what I'd like to see. I had recently read a section of the draft rules document that detailed the creation of crossbreed monsters -- something that high-level mage characters can attempt in the Adventurer Conqueror King system -- and asked to see some part of that process.

(By the way, the crossbreeding stuff is just one small example of how ACKS goes out of its way to explain and support the backdrop of classic fantasy RPGs in its rules system: we now know why there are all these bizarre composite monsters roaming the countryside.)

Working with Ryan to nail down the exact image we wanted was a pleasure. We ended up with the illustration you see above: a giant centipede/shark hybrid bursting from its creation vessel, lunging out at the viewer. A new terror unleashed!

The Autarch crew recently posted a detailed account of Ryan's artistic process. As you can see, he did a fantastic job of working from my vague guidelines and turning them into something fun and dynamic. I'm proud to be a contributor (in my own small way) to ACKS.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Selling More Stuff

The closet-cleaning continues. I've got more RPG material for sale. Much of it should be of interest to OSRites.

As before, prices are in USD. I recently learned the hard way that USPS charges more for media mail service than it once did, so I now have to ask for $5 for shipping. I will ship via other methods (or internationally) if you're willing to pay for it.

Dungeons & Dragons Creature Crucible series:
PC1 Tall Tales of the Wee Folk $12
PC2 Top Ballista $12
PC4 Night Howlers (cover has been neatly cut in two, along the spine) $10
buy as a bundle for $30

HackMaster Basic:
HackMaster Basic (rulebook, like new) $15
Frandor's Keep (big setting/adventure module, like new) $18
buy as a bundle for $30

RuneQuest II Core Rulebook (Mongoose Publishing hardcover, like new) $20

Fallout: New Vegas (Xbox 360) $12

Alternately, I'm interested in trading this stuff for a few things I'm interested in. Yes, I realize many of these are ridiculous long shots, but what the hey:

AD&D 1st Edition hardcovers (especially the Fiend Folio and Monster Manuals, but pretty much any of them other than the Manual of the Planes and "Adventures" setting books)
Lesserton & Mor
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Grindhouse Edition
Other OSR stuff (make me an offer)
Legends of Anglerre
A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplay: Campaign Guide
DC Adventures Hero's Handbook
DC Adventures Heroes & Villains
Crusaders of the Amber Coast
Barbarians of the Aftermath
Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide
Pathfinder Ultimate Magic
Pathfinder Ultimate Combat

Drop me a comment if you're interested in buying or trading, if you have any questions, or if you want to haggle. Thanks for looking.

I feel slightly ashamed (but only slightly) for temporarily turning Dungeonskull Mountain into a clearinghouse. I promise I'll go back to having actual gaming content on this blog one of these days.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

You Have My ACKS

I've mentioned Adventurer Conqueror King on this blog before, but I probably did a bad job of describing it. I'll let Tavis Allison tell you what the deal is:

The way the Autarch crew has involved all of its supporters in helping to critique and shape the game is a smart move and will certainly result in a better game. There are already supplements in the works, both from Autarch themselves and from luminaries like Chris Kutalik of the excellent Hill Cantons blog.

I'm happy to be a backer of this project and can't wait to get my hands on the book. (It doesn't hurt that backing it at practically any level gets you cool goodies.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Selling Some Old Stuff

I have some RPG things for sale. All are in that "neat but I'll never use it" category for me. These should be of interest to OSR-minded folks, which is why I'm posting them here first.

Prices are in USD. I usually charge around $3 to ship USPS media mail, but I'm happy to ship another way if you're picky and willing to pay more. Likewise, I'll consider shipping them outside of the US if you're willing to pay extra for shipping.

If you have questions, or want to barter, say so. Here's what I've got:

Central Casting: Dungeons (Task Force Games, 1993). An impressive dungeon generator in the fine, hyper-detailed Central Castings tradition. It's in good shape, though the cover has some corner dings and general buffing. $20. SOLD.

Cities, 2nd Edition (Midkemia Press, 1981). "A guide for all role-playing games - City encounters - City populating - Character catch-up". This book has seen considerable interest in the old-school blogosphere of late. I'd say it's in very good condition - the pages are slightly yellowed from age, and there is a very small stain on one corner of the cover. $15. SOLD.

Check the links for the details and articles compiled within. There's some fun stuff here, including some nice rules for ruins, demihuman gods, modern weaponry, and notorious character classes like the death-master. All of the Dragon collections are in very good condition. Volume V looks like it has some warping to the bottom of the pages from moisture, the other two are in excellent shape. I'll sell all three for $10. SOLD.

RuneQuest II Core Rulebook (Mongoose Publishing, 2010). Mongoose's acclaimed revision of a Chaosium classic. An excellent, near-mint condition hardcover; I did read it, but you'd never be able to tell. $20.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back to the Island

Courtesy of my good friend Bret Woods, here's the revised and beautified map of the Isle of Cosk, where most of the action of my campaign setting, The Bladed Earth, will take place. As you can see, the northwestern chunk of the island is a good deal more fleshed out than the rest.

(The original, ugly version is here.)

If anybody's interested in checking out what I've got written up so far, check out the Bladed Earth wiki. It's being worked out in a very haphazard fashion thus far, and it's sort of on hold while I figure out if I want to keep writing it with Labyrinth Lord in mind, or if I want to use the Adventurer Conqueror King system.

Since I became a backer of the game, I have to admit that I'm leaning toward the latter. ACKS looks like it's going to support the style of game I want to run a little more readily than Labyrinth Lord does. Obviously this means that most of the LL-based house rules I've posted to the wiki won't apply.

Anyway, if you'd like to have a look, feel free.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Adventurer Conqueror King

There's a new old-school RPG in the works: Adventurer Conqueror King.

ACK is a retroclone in the sense that Lamentations of the Flame Princess and the upcoming Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG are retroclones. That is to say that they take the mechanics of classic D&D as their starting point, and then tweak them to suit the style of play the game is intended to encourage. In this case, the focus is on "providing integrated support for play across all levels of a campaign". To put it another way, it's built from the ground up to support things like domain building and that old-school D&D "endgame" people love to talk about.

Autarch, the publishing partnership working on Adventurer Conqueror King, includes luminaries like Alexander Macris (of The Escapist fame) and Tavis Allison (of The Mule Abides and numerous D&D products). The game is currently in its Kickstarter phase but it's evidently well fleshed out already, rules-wise, and also looks like it's going to be top-notch in the production value department.

I recommend checking out the design blog for a better idea of what the ACKS (Adventurer Conqueror King System) is all about.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Meekrob the Multi-Talented

I'm not currently running Labyrinth Lord. In fact, I'm not currently running anything at all (though it looks like I'm going to be playing Pathfinder soon). OSR kids like to say that houseruling old school games before you even play them is usually a bad idea.

Too bad. I just spent several hours writing house rules for my as-yet unstarted Labyrinth Lord campaign, formerly known as Cosk but recently renamed "The Bladed Earth" when I started working on the wiki I mentioned a while back.

Specifically, they're multiclassing rules. Oh yeah. A lot of people hate multiclassing. I go back and forth on the idea, but I have to admit that in my youth I made plenty of multiclassed characters. (I also usually gave them goofy thematic names like "Jaxxus Two-Fisted". I think the example multiclassed character in the AD&D 2nd edition Player's Handbook had a name like that. I blame Zeb Cook.)

Anyway, a thread over at the New York Red Box forum got me thinking about multiclassing, so I started to write down the ideas I'd had when I started my wiki and before I ran out of steam. For the most part, it's all by-the-book Labyrinth Lord/Advanced Edition Companion multiclassing, which is not identical to the way it works in AD&D. My additions are heavily influenced (read: ganked unceremoniously, at least in part) from the AD&D 2nd edition-inspired-but-not-really-a-retroclone Myth & Magic RPG. My rules are slightly campaign-specific, but those bits are easily ignored, I think. They are also probably broken as all get out, which is why I'm posting them here. Tell me what needs fixing.

Multiclassing and Switching Classes


Human characters may multiclass using the rules in the Advanced Edition Companion. Note that in The Bladed Earth, demi-human characters cannot multiclass.

Switching Classes

Human and demi-human characters also have the option of switching classes. To do this, a character must meet all the requirements of the new class and must declare the intention to switch classes when reaching a new level of experience. At that point, the character does not progress in the original class - he is regarded as being "in training" for the new class. The character must still accrue enough XP to reach the next level in its original class, at which time he begins the new class at 1st level, gaining all the advantages of the new class.

For example, Farkas, a human fighter, accrues 8,125 XP, which would make him 4th level in that class. Instead of advancing to 4th level in the fighter class, his player announces that Farkas will switch his class to magic-user. He remains a 3rd level fighter (with all the abilities of such) until he reaches 16,251 XP. At that point, he becomes a 1st level magic-user, adding that class' advantages to his fighter abilities.

As when multiclassing, the saving throws and attack values of a character that switches classes are equal to the best values available for all of the character's classes. Likewise, the notes on conflicting abilities from the Advanced Edition Companion's multiclassing rules apply to characters that switch classes.

A character cannot go back to advancing in a previous class after switching classes.

Demi-human characters cannot switch classes until reaching the maximum level available to them in their current class. (For training purposes, assume that race-classes, such as "elf", reach the next level at half again as much XP as it took to reach their maximum level.)

For example, Goldfinch, whose class is elf, accrues 600,001 XP and reaches 9th level, the maximum for that race-class. He would have to train until he reached 900,001 XP to switch classes.

Demi-human characters cannot switch to classes forbidden to their race.

In all cases of multiclassing and switching classes, the Labyrinth Lord has final say on which class combinations are allowed.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Ultimate God and Others

If you haven't already seen the latest post on Monster Brains, do so now. Aeron Alfrey has put a much-deserved spotlight on the artwork of Sidney Sime.

Sime was probably one of the finest popular illustrators of the 20th century. He contributed his artwork to stories by luminaries like Lord Dunsany and William Hope Hodgson, among others. In a dream world, my fantasy RPGs would be illustrated by Sidney Sime and Ivan Bilibin.

Anyway, if you find yourself in need of inspiration, do yourself a favor and take a look.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Low Gaming

I'm suffering from low gaming.

I haven't played anything in months. Well, actually, I've played some video, board, and card games here and there, but no RPGs of any kind since I left New York in late January.

I've attempted to find a new gaming group here in Gainesville, but so far, haven't found anybody playing anything other than D&D 4E. I already know how I feel about that particular incarnation of the game. I've got no interest in playing it again.

It's tough to maintain anything like enthusiasm in a gaming drought like this one. I had intended to submit something for the random table contest I posted about not long ago, but ultimately I couldn't think up anything I felt was worthwhile. Likewise, the wiki I talked about starting up is, well, a non-starter.

Then to top it off, "Macho Man" Randy Savage died.

Ultimately, I have more important things to worry about right now. Finding a job is high on the list, as is concentrating on my graduate work. Still, I hope I can game again sometime soon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mountainskull Dungeon

I've been feeling pretty uninspired lately, so I'm lucky that there's somebody like scottsz out there. He's been going over classic modules with a fine-toothed comb in his Cold Text File series at the Lord of the Green Dragons blog. His latest post on Gary Gygax's classic module, The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, uses my header logo as a sort of instructional aid toward understanding the ancient language of the Aztec people, the ways in which it was recorded visually, and how it's used in an old D&D module.

Trust me, it makes more sense if you just read the article.

So, that logo my brother designed for me isn't just cool to look at, it's educational. Bet you can't say that about your header image.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fight On! Random Table Contest

I try to avoid posts like this one, but the idea behind this contest is too damn brilliant to ignore. Not just what it's about, not just the prizes, but the way the prizes are determined. I say again: brilliant.

Random tables are a big part of what I love about RPGs. I'm already trying to think up a decent submission or two.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wikity Wack

I haven't had a game session for a couple of months now, and I'm fiending for an RPG fix pretty badly. Since I'll be starting grad school (and hopefully finding work) soon, I'm worried I might not have time to play for a while. Still, I need some kind of creative outlet.

I'm thinking about writing up my D&D mini-setting, which I've been calling Cosk thus far, in some detail. I don't want to go overboard with it - as a more prolific blogger recently pointed out, providing a lot of setting detail is problematic at best. Too often, that way lies tedium for anyone involved besides the author. But occasionally a potentially neat concept or an interesting tidbit of information will pop into my head, and I want to start scribbling them down someplace.

At the moment, the best way to do this seems to be to create a wiki. New York Red Box's DMs use one to keep track of campaign notes, character stats, house rules, and setting info, and for the most part it works well. Scott Driver also put together an impressive wiki for his Wilderlands of Darkling Sorcery setting. The advantages of organizing setting notes (and the potential to keep DM and player information in the same place if I actually get to run a campaign with it someday) seem to outweigh any drawbacks.

Unless somebody knows of a better way to do it, I've more or less made up my mind to launch a wiki for Cosk (though I'll have to come up with a more impressive name for it than that). The real question is this: is anybody interested in reading the wiki material here on the blog, or should I just post a link to the wiki once and leave it at that? I seem to be gaining followers even though my posting has slowed, so obviously, somebody's interested in what I have to say, but I don't want to clog up the blog with the details of traditional swamp goblin ear-hair braiding in the Maggele Slough if people are just here for random tables and witty commentary on old module covers.


Friday, February 18, 2011


Over Grognardia way, James Maliszewski reminded us of the existence of a line of AD&D-branded stationery and binders produced by a company called St. Regis in the early 1980s.

It turns out these were illustrated by a man named Alex Nuckols. It's beautiful, classically rendered, and downright classy work that gives my beloved Greg Irons-illustrated AD&D Coloring Album a run for its money. I know many gripe about the merchandising of D&D in the early 80s, but in my opinion, some of the best (if not the best) D&D-themed artwork of the era wasn't being produced by TSR at all. Nuckols' work for St. Regis is a perfect example.

There's a gallery of several Nuckols-illustrated St. Regis products at the Tome of Treasures forum. A lot of the scans and photos are frustratingly blurry, but even this limited glimpse is well worth your time if you're into D&D fantasy art in the least.

(By the way, I'd be more than willing to bet that some of these images - including the one posted above - were originally intended to depict scenes from J.R.R. Tolkien's work. That looks like Bard of Laketown slaying Smaug to me, and I'd be shocked if the "Death Rider" art wasn't supposed to be one of the Ring-Wraiths seeking out Frodo and company.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Serpent Was Subtle

It appears I spoke too soon when I wrote of the untimely demise of the Dragon Warriors role-playing game:

Dragon Warriors, the classic 1980s dark-fantasy RPG recently re-released by Magnum Opus Press, is moving to new British publishing company Serpent King Games.

From 1st April the game will no longer be available from Magnum Opus, which had published Dragon Warriors through Mongoose Publishing’s Flaming Cobra imprint.

Serpent King Games will keep the existing Dragon Warriors books available, and will publish new supplements for the game. The first new release will be the Dragon Warriors Players Book, in July 2011, with another two releases planned for the first year.

It would be bad form to repost the entire announcement, so if you're interested, there's more detail at the Serpent King Games website. Considering the individuals involved, the game appears to be in very good hands, and I'm more than happy to help spread the word.

I won't directly benefit from any of it, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Dragon Warriors' previous publisher, Magnum Opus Press, is selling all of the PDFs of the game line at less than half-price, and that Mongoose Publishing (the game's former distributor) has also reduced the price of the hardcopy books significantly - including an "ultimate bundle" that includes all seven books released thus far for $79.99. All indications are that the new Serpent King Games material will be fully compatible, so if you're thinking of checking out one of the UK's finest old-school fantasy RPGs, now is the time.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cosmic Caprice

The last six months have been tumultuous for me. I relocated to New York, struggled to find work, and joined an excellent gaming group. Sadly, one needs more from life than fun and games, and as a result my wife and I eventually elected to return to our home state of Florida.

Before I left, I managed to cajole the esteemed Tavis Allison into running a playtest session of Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, which has been the subject of much blogosphere discussion of late. I had a blast rolling up and playing Mortigaunt the Necromancer (and his 0-level followers, Lucky Lorinc and Goodwife Cump). If you want to know more, you should check out Tavis' rundown of the session over at The Mule Abides.

I think people who are writing the game off as yet another retroclone are going to be very surprised with the final product. Mechanically, DCC was satisfyingly wild, and felt like a strange (and wonderful) amalgamation of classic Dungeons & Dragons and my beloved Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. In feel, it's much more like pulp fantasy or sword & sorcery than "vanilla" D&D. Magic (which followers of this blog know is one the areas where I feel D&D could use some extra spice) is refreshingly dangerous and exciting, and many of the concepts around which DCC's magic system is built mirror my preferences strongly. I'm very much looking forward to putting the game through its paces when it goes into open beta testing later this year.

(I signed an NDA which I believe keeps me from blabbing overmuch about the mechanics of the game, but suffice it to say that I was quite impressed with what I saw. Of course, my fellow players and I perceived a few wrinkles here and there, but I think we brainstormed several potentially useful solutions to them... which is the point of playtesting, after all.)

It's too bad my grand NYC experiment didn't work out, but now that I've relocated, I have a lot to be excited about. I'm looking forward to concentrating on my return to grad school, and, of course, finding another group!