Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Darkest Magic Play Session Report - The Use & Abuse of Mayfair Games Role Aids Arch Magic Box Set

We've gone from doing campaign notes to a quick update on Steve's AD&D/BX/OSR game latest play session report! So I've been getting it right in the neck. Steve's game ended with Apocalypse right now because of yesterday's blog entry.

Mostly  because I've been using a variety of old school sources & combining them with OSR resources to create the type of super hero & pulp campaign that my players have wanted.   Now my original campaign notes are a B/X & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons hybrid which had its roots in deep mythology with some classic modules as backdrop. I've been using Mayfair games Role Aids to help with some of the heavy DM lifting & lets continue to look at the Archmagic box set which delves into some of the blackest of magics.Going all the way back into Ninety Three the Archmagic box by

Daniel Gelon, Julian Jackson, Mike Nystul, & Doug Tabb
set didn't seem like it was going to set the AD&D world on fire & it wasn't supposed to. The box set was supposed to fill in a very specialized niche of the fantasy gaming hobby. And it did; "Adds high-powered spells and items to any fantasy campaign, but is "presented for use with ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS".
Rules for Archmages, Artifacts, Grimoires and Archmagics are presented.
Includes an adventure utilizing the rules within. Also includes maps of various mystic places and props depicting various powerful items.
64 page rulebook
32 page adventure
48 page map book
12 loose single-sided sheets of props"
Now the thing about this box set is that it ports right into the Demons line of Mayfair products in a reverse screw sort of campaign adventure way. Now I've already heard the teeth gnashing from Steve my friend about there being no conversions for Archmagic into the Original Dungeons & Dragons rules set. The Vaults of Pandius site came through an Archmagic to  OD&D  conversion by Scott Moore

This means that about 90 percent of the box set of materials will work with the Godbound rpg by Kevin Crawford. For Troll Lord Games Castles & Crusades or Amazing Adventures! Rpg we'll be using the system straight on!
One of the reasons is for their to be Arch magicians guarding reality & dealing with the problem of necromancers & black wizards from beyond. Another is that arch mages are often the fulcrum in comics between the 'gods' & various super heroes as well as adventurers. They recruit local talent & parties of adventurers  to take on Herculean tasks. This is the whole cloth premise of Marvel's Seventies comic book group  the Defenders! Who often seem to act more like adventurers at the table top then some of the polished fantasy novels I've read.

Now I've already talked about the rise of the Primordial dragons yesterday but one of the things that Arch magic box set brought to the table was the ability of very high level magicians to create planes themselves. As my buddy Steve said this is a show of  'local talent' on the part of the arch mages & directly under the purview of the gods. This is sort of like  when Marvel's High Evolutionary went mad; after the Beyonders looked at his version of  Earth  & put it on display in one of their museums.  This was an example of local talent for Marvel's 616 universe.
This brings me to Chessboards By Dave Howell for the Primal Order cap system which is their book on planes. That's a bit simplified. The Planes book covers ;"covers such topics as the various types of planes and their relationships, planar growth cycles, ways to planes, and several varieties of interplanar travel.For those using The Primal Order, it also includes expanded guidelines on planar use primal energy, planar artifacts, and advanced interactions between planes and deities. Five samples metaplanes provide inspiration and illustrate important concepts. Usable with any roleplaying system, this reference work will give GMs the tools they need to create exciting new planes, run multiple settings in one campaign, or link several campaigns into one logically organized multiverse."

Much of what's in Planes bares a striking resemblance to some of the material in the Godbound rpg fannon & rpg resources. So its very interesting seeing the parallel design work across the table on this material. 
This all ties into me inheriting my co dungeon master Steve's game where the PC's have just taken an artifact of Luz back to their Earth! Things are quickly going to Hell quite literally. The dragons have awoken. The party has now got a major succubus from the Amazing Adventures! rpg Manual of Monsters on their behinds! Steve read yesterdays notes & played out the ideas there as an actual game.
Now I've got to pull two of my best friends in to help me co dungeon master my way outta this! So stay tuned! 

Its all pretty glorious! Thanks for reading & we've got more coming up! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

OSR Campaign Preparation Dragons & Divinities - The Rise of The Primordial Dragons

"A collection of powerful minions, monsters, and other entities. Divine servants to intercede between your PCs and their distant deities, mighty beasts to defy even your strongest party, or just a few fascinating creatures for your adventurers to glimpse and wonder about."

Once upon a time I traveled fifty miles to one of my best friend's house to buy a copy of The Primal Order's book Pawns. These creatures are the ones that I pull out when I want to shake up a campaign. But its been a long time since I've cracked open The Primal Order's Pawns book but then again its been a long time since players have challenged me this much. The biggest bugaboo has been trying to get players on board with a Thursday or Friday evening game.
The fact of the matter is that when your taking a variety of player personality types things can get very interesting very fast. I've been thinking about doing something very different for a long time now. Role Aids product line  from Mayfair games has been sitting on my shelves & now these books need to be used right along with The Primal Order Pawns book  by Nigel Findley

I've been toying with the ideas of using the Primorial dragons mythology & background for my campaign world. This mythology fits in with some of the draconic ideas presented in  the Teratic Tome by Rafael Chandler .
These are campaign leveling dragons and not your run of the mill wyrms but monsters capable of burning down Heaven itself. Many of these monsters are world enders  one of the reasons that you'll see the Teratic Tome mentioned in conjunction with high level divine campaigns.
So why do this?! I've been toying with using Luz for a while as an actual force of evil on the planes organizing chaos & sewing strife across the universe. His back alley cults have been hatching plans to awaken the dragon's nests across the Earth. He has knowledge of these through his maternal (by adoption)  grandmother  Baba Yaga,

These are not times to simply back down on heroes. The world really needs demi god heroes to step out of the shadows! But can it happen? That's going to depend upon if and when I can arrange for my players schedules to jive. Meanwhile I continue to pull out my campaign notes & the rise of certain mummy led cults of Orcus deep in the wastelands of the Empty Quarter. And what is it about those black eyed children who keep muttering the ram headed lord's praises on the fringes of society?

All of this comes from the Amazing Adventures Manual of Monsters & what  the effects that the rise of the Primordial dragons are having on the rest of the Earth's dragons?! What does the stirring of ancient evil have on Earth's heroes? Are they even noticing the increasing horrors around them?
Next I'm dusting off the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition  Fiend Folio for some of more dangerous & aggressive monsters to throw into the mix coming up! We'll get into those coming up! 

Monday, January 14, 2019

A Matter of Mayfair Games & Elves - More OSR Campaign Commentary

Way back in the mists of time in Nineteen Eighty Three Mayfair Games had the Role Aids line of products. They offered an inexpensive gap to help fill in some of the gap that was left in the mythology of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition at the time. Over the weekend I got together with some friends to discuss  Elves Book as a possible source for my upcoming OSR Castles & Crusades campaign. It was an interesting night to say the least.

Elves has a very innovative set up to its layout. The dungeon master is presented with different Elven adventure locations, NPC's, & adventure set ups that relate to the different Elven race variants that are presented in the book. Once again its got that classic AD&D pseudo Tolkein Dungeons & Dragons race out of pop culture legend.

Which is fine because it doesn't violate what I want to do in terms of my campaign mythology. According to the Wiki Entry on Mayfair games Elves; 
"Elves is a supplement describing elven characters and the various elven cultures, history, and gods. With six scenarios for elf characters, levels 4-7, one for each type of elf: wood elves, grey elves, dark elves, high elves, etc"I don't agree with the old take from Robert Dale review of  Elves for White Dwarf #57;"Robert Dale reviewed Elves for White Dwarf #57, giving the book a rating of 3 out of 10 overall.[3] He called Elves "execrable, excruciating and extortionate", stating that "the price should dissuade any self-respecting gamer" from buying it.[3] He felt that the purpose of the book, to aid roleplaying, is negated by the pseudo-scientific style in which the material is presented. He found that the adventures in the book were not specifically designed for elves.[3] Dale concluded that Elves was a "merely amateur" rehashing of "widely current material lacking the redeeming features of a coherent setting or adequate presentation."" This is a really harsh view of the 'Elves' product in my mind & given the varying quality of Mayfair material its easy to see his opinion. But remember that Elves was made in Eighty Three & we only had Dragon magazine to disseminate 'official' material to the dungeon masters.  This fits in with the overall history of Mayfair Games Role Aids of the time; 
"Elves was written by Cheron Fitzgerald Carr and Delbert Carr, Jr., with Daniel GreenbergAnne Jaffe, and Sam Shirley, with a cover by Janny Wurts, and was published by Mayfair Games in 1983 as a 96-page book.[1] A second printing was published in 1985.[1]
After the publication of Dwarves, the fourth Role Aids supplement, Mayfair Games published additional AD&D Role Aids supplements quickly and in volume. The line featured many adventures as well as an increasing number of source books, including race- and class-related books like Dark Folk (1983), Wizards (1983) and Elves (1983). Each product proclaimed its use with AD&D, though the disclaimer was soon moved to the back cover.[2]:"

In my games the Elves are the Huldra ("hidden being") from the  Scandinavian languages. They were bred as a slave race for the gods of Fairy. They are all that remains of a race of extinct gods that parished across the planes. They have spiritually degenerated in some areas but traces of their elder leaders remain; 

"The Old High German word alp is attested only in a small number of glosses. It is defined by the Althochdeutsches Wörterbuch as a "nature-god or nature-demon, equated with the Fauns of Classical mythology ... regarded as eerie, ferocious beings ... As the mare he messes around with women".[104] Accordingly, the German word Alpdruck (literally "elf-oppression") means "nightmare". There is also evidence associating elves with illness, specifically epilepsy.[105]
In a similar vein, elves are in Middle German most often associated with deceiving or bewildering people "in a phrase that occurs so often it would appear to be proverbial: die elben/der alp trieget mich ("the elves/elf are/is deceiving me").[106] The same pattern holds in Early Modern German.[107][108] This deception sometimes shows the seductive side apparent in English and Scandinavian material:[105] most famously, the early thirteenth-century Heinrich von Morungen's fifth Minnesang begins "Von den elben wirt entsehen vil manic man / Sô bin ich von grôzer liebe entsên" ("full many a man is bewitched by elves / thus I too am bewitched by great love").[109] Elbe was also used in this period to translate words for nymphs.[110]
In later medieval prayers, Elves appear as a threatening, even demonic, force. For example, there are prayers which invoke God's help against noctural attacks by Alpe.[111]Correspondingly, in the early modern period, elves are described in north Germany doing the evil bidding of witches; Martin Luther believed his mother to have been afflicted in this way" 

This fits some but not all of the basic adventure conceits of Castles & Crusades "The Codex Celtarum". The fact that many of the ideas of various Elven nation states & tribes being part of the roiling chaos of Fairy. Brian Young does a really good job of taking the various Celtic mythological elements & presenting them in a viable & yet playable way.


We seem to have this view point that Elves are at once familiar & yet utterly alien to the human race. The fact is that half Elves are a perfect example of the utter alieness of these creatures. They are like humans but simply better. Stronger, faster, better reflexes, more attractive, & much longer lived. All of these up point the fact that Half Elves don't fit into Elven or human society. Why would creatures who are almost immortal breed with humans?!  Half Elves are the perfect filter between Elves & humanity. 
Elves with their patience, longevity, emotional capacity for violence, interactions with humans, and how they treat half-elves all speak of a race on the ragged edge of extinction. Sure this might take another million years or so but this is the blink of an eye to a race that lives for two thousand or more years. 

To humans these beings were gods or at least lesser godly spirits. But one thing I'm not going to be doing is shedding a spot light on all of the divine mysteries of the campaign. The Role Aids products varied in their setting  background  material & divine gods. Why?! Because various authors & designers were used on the books. So many setting & campaign elements don't jive together coherently. I'm going to let the players fill in the details in the matter of the gods & their various wars with the Elves. The History & Lore of Elves in Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons  has me even concerned. But that's going to be put on the back burner. I'll be using the Elven race as a light snack for all kinds of horrors in the more modern age end of the campaign. But time & again I've seen Elven adventurers used as a part of some pulp or super hero group in various table top role playing circles. 

Now given Amazing Adventures! Rpg 's  Book of Powers is easily available its pretty simple to convert or create a wide variety of Elven & sub Elven races as needed. There are even more options on the table given some of the OSR titles on the market.

Sure it sounds like I'm offering a lot of great PC options at the table but actually what I'm doing is setting up the players for all kinds of future mayhem! There will be a price to be paid coming up!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

OSR Commentary - The Luz Dossier - A Paler Shade & Echo of Greyhawk - Campaign Notes

"In the Yatil Mountains south of Perrenland there is rumored to be a magical hoard of unsurpassed value, a treasure of such fame that scores f adventurers have perished in search of it. Find the perilous Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and you may gain the hidden wealth of the long-dead arch-mage -- if you live!"
There are certain modules that I've been obsessed with for years & S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth by Gary Gygax is certainly one of them. There's just something about this module that draws me back into it again & again. All of this is from my B/X  Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign notes & is not based on canon.

There are certain AD&D adventures that haunt my dreams & S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth by Gary Gygax is one of those. Perhaps it the fact that S4 fits like a puzzle piece into the bowels of  WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun (1e). Now according to the Drivethrurpg entry on WG4 this was done on purpose which makes perfect sense; 

 "In the early 80s, Gary Gygax tried to revive and expand Greyhawk, hoping to make it into the sort of better-defined campaign world that would become common in the 80s (but which was all but unknown in the 70s). He brought two people back to TSR to help him in this: Rob Kuntz and Eric Shook. Kuntz showed up in late 1981 and helped to polish and finish up S4: "The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth" (1982), while Eric Shook got his start doing the maps for "Temple."
This team would later put together three more major releases: EX1: "Dungeonland" (1983), EX2: "The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror" (1983), and WG5: "Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure" (1983).
The five publications (from "S4" to "WG5") fall within what's known as the "first wave" of Greyhawk publication, which extended from the setting's first adventures in 1978 through the last Gygax adventures reprints in 1987. However, what Gygax, Kuntz, and Shook started in 1982 really constituted a serious expansion of the setting. Before then, Greyhawk had been only lightly detailed through adventures like the infamous "GDQ" series and others, but starting with S4, TSR was now producing adventures that considerably expanded the setting's mythology and lore. So, let's call the period beginning with the publication of S4 the "one-and-a-halfth wave" of Greyhawk publication (or perhaps just a brief expansive interlude)."
 This makes perfect sense because it places some of the AD&D heavy weight designers of Gygax, Kuntz, & Eric Shook  right into the middle of  the  refinement of the Greyhawk campaign setting. But one question has always bothered me. 
Who the hell is maintaining these dungeon complexes?! The answer dovetails into how these modules used across the board. The article the  
"Original Lost Caverns of Tsojconth - found in Karameikos? by Paleologos" article from the Vaults of Pandius site places the adventure straight into the bowels of Mystara. But do these same ruins exist on Greyhawk as well as Mystara? I believe the answer is yes! They exist in Greyhawk & Mystara to murder adventurers as a sacrifice machine to their evil pantheons. 

 This gets into an interesting question that relates into a concept that is found in both the

Godbound: A Game of Divine Heroes Rpg From Sine Nomine Publishing  & Peter Adkins The Primal Order rpg is the concept of parasitic divinities. The idea here is that a pantheon of gods (demons) are feeding off of generations of cults & worshipers beliefs & lives. 

Whose the guy maintaining all of the frame work of this? That would be Luz from Greyhawk"Iuz is the half-fiend or cambion demigod son of Graz'zt, a demon lord of the Abyss, and the human witch Iggwilv. Originally described as very handsome, Iuz now appears either as an old man with poisonous spit, or a big, red, hulking demon like creature. His weapon of choice is the whip and greatsword.  He is referred to as "The Old One" or Iuz the Evil, and worshiped as the God of Deceit, Pain, Oppression and Evil.  He is considered the enemy of every sane and free person in the Flanaess and every religion, except his own and holds a particular hatred for ZagygVecna and St. Cuthbert. "

I don't care what edition your playing Luz is pure chaotic evil incarnate & he's a threat to any party of demi god adventurers. He makes most liches look like Mary Sunshine & I've been in two long running campaigns where he's been the main villain. A very hands on major villain who loves to destroy parties of higher level adventurers.

 Everything that happens in Grehawk has echoes across the planes & this includes what has happened in T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil. Adventurers start running into various threats from Greyhawk they better be prepared. There threats that can kill gods rather easily. I'm not talking about taking Deities & Demigods from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition & using it as a hit list. I talked about using Mayfair games Role Aids line 'Demons' in the other day's blog entry. I often used the fallen angels & demons from those as mercenary forces for Luz. 
 Both the Godbound: A Game of Divine Heroes Rpg From Sine Nomine Publishing  Peter Adkins The Primal Order rpg  are tool kits as well as rpg systems. In the case of the Primal Order the cap system works rather nicely for adding onto existing systems. Godbound: A Game of Divine Heroes Rpg From Sine Nomine Publishing does some exciting stuff but its got to be streamlined into an AD&D/BX campaign. But where's the backroom scheming for Jason Vey's Amazing Adventures!rpg 
Right now there are agents of Luz crawling through the back alleys of another Earth on their way to assassinating various heroes & divinities including some of the evil ones who would stop Luz from taking another Earth for his schemes. Oh I didn't mention Orcus which will be getting into next adventure. Hang onto your hats things are about to get weird!
Next time Castles & Crusades with a hint of the Planes


Thursday, January 10, 2019

More OSR Drama, Compromise, & Commentary - The Apocalypse Agenda & The Dungeon Master's Hidden Campaign Agenda

I've been gone for the day with sewing machine repair work & I've had to put the upcoming campaign on hold. I've been talking with my Steve's players via email & things have been moving along with an upcoming Castles & Crusades rpg campaign. Things are moving but I've slowed down because I started going over my old AD&D/B/X campaign notes. I want to use those notes for my C&C campaign.

So everyone with me? Let's jump right back into the deep end of the world of the table top hobby of role playing. I've been dusting off my campaign notes from back in the 90's when I used to use  Peter Adkins & Wizards of The Coast's The Primal Order  rpg supplements.  Now two things happened today that proved very interesting. The first of these was the fact that whist I was strolling down memory lane I kept running into references to Mayfair Games Role Aids throughout the note book. The reason is fairly obvious because of the fact that I used a lot of their products back in the 90's to throw off a variety of D&D players who had vast sections of the Greyhawk & Forgotten Realms books memorized. I'd like to extend my condolences to the family Darwin P Bromley the co founder of Mayfair Games whose recently passed. Mr.Bromley was partially responsible for the marketing & production of the Role Aids line of products for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition; "Attorney Darwin Bromley was a railroad game fan, so in 1980 he founded the company Mayfair Games to publish a railroad game of his own; the company was named for the Chicago neighborhood where it was founded.[3]:166 Bromley soon brought Bill Fawcett on as a partner in Mayfair Games, and together they designed the game Empire Builder (1980).[3]:166 Bromley was involved with the Chicago Wargaming Association's convention, CWAcon, where Mayfair's first fantasy adventures in their new Role Aids game line were run: Beastmaker Mountain (1982), Nanorien Stones (1982) and Fez I (1982).[3]:166 With Bromley's legal expertise, he felt that Mayfair could legally use TSR's trademarks as long as they were careful, so beginning with their Dwarves (1982) supplement Mayfair made it clear that they were not the trademark holders by printing on the cover: "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of TSR Hobbies, Inc. Use of the trademark NOT sanctioned by the holder."" So Mayfair Games's Role Aids  filled a need back in the 90's & even into the latter 00's. There is still a lot of rancor in D&D & OSR fandom & that's fine. For me as a dungeon master the Demon product lines filled a need at the time but will they come to help me fill a need in this campaign? That brings up the second thing that happened which is that one of my other players said, 'Do you know what's wrong with your blog?'. No I don't because you shouldn't be reading this blog. Here's why. Players shouldn't actually be reading this blog at all or unless I as the dungeon master specifically direct them to a game specific entry on this blog. This blog is for the blog subscribers & readers not the players of my game campaigns.
Now there are a wide variety of resources for converting Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition to the Castles & Crusades rpg system. Which brings me to The Primal Order which seemed to generate lots of interest in readers in the other day's blog entry. 

 I love math, gods, planes, etc. as well as combining them with super heroes & pulp elements years back I started a D&D  campaign at the end of a world! The player's PC's were the gods & demi gods who were escorting the survivors of the former world into the next Eden! This was an adventure campaign  hook I had hijacked straight from Norse mythology & DC's Crisis On Infinite Earths. See even today D&D & comic book fans remember this series. I started by killing on of the PC's favorite NPC patrons & things went way down hill from there. A Norse god acted to get the PC's into their godhood & for a very good reason Ragnarök was in full swing! That included the end of the Earth! 

I started with the Role Aids Apocalypse box set from Mayfair games & then kicked things into high gear! I've written before about my adopted uncle running a Norse Ring of Nibelung campaign AD&D/BX cycle before. So I've had plenty of experience on both sides of the screen using mythology. How did the 
 Role Aids Apocalypse box set come into play? 
"From cover:
The sky turns red as blood...
Fire rains down from the heavens...
The dead walk the land...
Don't let your tired gaming world just fall by the wayside. Bring it to a world-shattering climax! Apocalypse is a complete gaming source designed to help you bring your campaign world to a conclusion or move it into a new era.
The Apocalypse Sourcebox includes:
...the Apocalypse Game Master's Book, containing extensive details on all manner of apocalypses and how to incorporate them into your campaign, from the simple ending of an era to the complete and utter destruction of the world.
...Tumult and Tribulation, a massive adventure describing all the details of an apocalypse which you can end your campaign world with or run as a seperate, apocalyptic campaign.
...dozens of detailed maps, pre-generated characters and NPCs for your characters to encounter in their cataclysmic adventure.

The demons who responsible for the destruction of Earth weren't going to stop with the world. They were going to prevent the cycle of life from continuing across the planes! So Deities & Demigods for first edition AD&D came in very handy as well. But now I've got the Castles & Crusades Codex Nordica by Brian N. Young which has some very nicely done C&C mythology in it. Not only is it useful but very hands on for campaign design. 

Will I be using Mayfair Games product with this upcoming campaign?! More then likely but which ones will have to wait till I get deeper into it. But this campaign will involve other aspects of both the Ring Cycle & the mythic Ragnarok that we haven't covered in the past! Yes
 Sine Nomine Pubblishing's game Godbound rpg  will be a part of this! Yes the players won't be expecting & yes I have plans to screw with their PC's majorly! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

OSR Commentary & Review Meat In A Tavern By Matt Finch - A Jordoba Campaign Introductory Adventure For The Swords & Wizardry Retroclone System

"Meat in a Tavern takes place below the Happy Ending Tavern (also known as the Sign of the Cleaver), in the Grim Quarter of the City of Jordoba — or any fantasy city you might choose. The Grim Quarter is essentially a holding-pen type of neighborhood for the city’s most dangerous residents, the ones allowed to live here for their skills or strength, but only to reside within the walls of the Grim quarter. Hired ogres are the best example of the Grim Quarter’s populace, working for their employers by day as guards or heavy laborers, but not free to roam the streets at will after curfew. Jordoba has a long tradition of monster-related violence in its streets and alleyways, but exerts best efforts to at least keep it to a minimum. "
 Clocking in at thirty pages Matt Finch brings his latest efforts in adventure to the table in his strange campaign setting of 
Jordoba from his on line campaign play. The planes of  Jordoba are decaying & all kinds of strange horrors lurk just around the corner in this Sword & Sorcery world. This campaign is a part of the Swords & Wizardry line of retroclone adventures. Matt Finch sent the Meat In A Tavern adventure  over to me. 

The idea here is that the adventurers instead of the usual party of adventurers meeting in a tavern for adventure & dungeon crawl plunder. Instead here the player's PC's are prisoners as part of a very nasty group of ogres dinner plans & business in the campaign's city;
"This adventure is a good way of introducing characters to each other and starting them off as companions on their first adventure — and is also a good place to “imprison” the characters if they are taken down by what would otherwise have been a total party kill in some other adventure. I don’t advise using the adventure as written unless it’s a first adventure or the consequence of the characters’ actions (getting defeated and sold to the slugs) because otherwise yanking characters into an escape scenario is a slightly cheap trick. However, Meat in a Tavern also works as a rescue scenario, where the characters start on the outside and try to free a prisoner or have some other reason to be entering the slugs’ complex from the outside."

So already we've got a twist on the usual beginning or introductory adventure which puts the PC's right into the middle of the action. The layout is very well done & the text is done in the comic book style of the Jordoba line of projects. The writing is up to Matt Finch's standards & like some of the basic hooks & ideas here.
What I'm I talking about?! You've got ogres in a city supplying other monsters with a food network that Hannibal Lector would be envious of!  I forgot to mention the giant  slugs. There's a really nice monster ecology twist on the usual Dungeons & Dragons giant slugs. And the one thing I know is that every D&D player & dungeon master I know for some reason loves giant slugs?!  For some reason the artwork from Meat In Tavern wouldn't work but since this is a Swords & Wizardry module it will work with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition too.

Artwork for the AD&D first edition Monster Manual Used Without Permission. 

Trade Marked & Copyrighted to Wizards of The Coast. But com'n look at that adventurer running for his life. That's what's gonna happen in Meat In A Tavern. 

So why do I like Meat In A Tavern so much?! Because the best adventures are also tool kits & this is one of those. It provides the dungeon master with a dynamic adventure location that also doubles into the idea of an ogre run thieves network or guild in the background of this adventure. Backed by some very weird & dangerous muscle that will come to scare the crap out of & possibly haunt the PC's later on. Its really going to depend upon what a bastard the dungeon master is.
Can I see running this with Swords & Wizardry?! Yes I can leaning towards doing a 
 Jordoba Swords & Sorcery campaign. The PC's are the 'heroes in the making' but its if they survive the Meat In The Tavern adventure experience. How would I personally run this adventure?! For my own experience I can see throwing this adventure into Hyperborea with little to no modification. There are several reasons for this including some of the background elements & the fact that its so well put together. The fact is that with the elements of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition.

You could slot Meat In The Tavern right into Brigands Bay in Hyperborea.  Why do I say this?! Because of the fact that there are lots of abandon cities on Hyperborea after the Green Death. So you've probably got all kinds of variations of humanity rubbing shoulders with humans. An ogre run tavern in an inhuman quarter makes perfect sense.

Given the adventure subplots & weirdness this is also an adventure that I could see running with Lamentations of the Flame Princess or another Shot & Pike era game. The PC's of this sort of game are thrown into the prisons & weirdness of 
 Jordoba via Meat In The Tavern. Believe me this is easy given the number of planar doorways & dimensional holes in the setting. Black powder isn't going to make much of a difference in Jordoba. This sort of a fish out of water expedition idea where the characters travel into the badassery of Jordoba. They run afoul of the tavern & its ilk.

The other option here is to run Meat In The Tavern with a traditional original Dungeons & Dragons or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons firs editions set of rules. Here the PC's are again going to be a part of the frame work of the world of Jordora & know their in serious trouble in the clutches of the ogres.

So is Meat In the Tavern worth getting?! In a word - yes! The whole adventure works on a number of levels & actively encourages play. I like the design, the cartography, & layout. The ideas here are interesting & original.
Here are some important 
 Jordoba links: 

Main Jordoba Resources &
where Meat In The Tavern Adventure Will Be Available Here 


Jordoba You Tube Play  resources
and other great stuff from Uncle Matt’s RPG Studio

Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

OSR Drama, Compromise, & Commentary - Gods, Monsters, & The Dungeon Master

This morning I got a phone call I was dreading. Over the last twenty four hours there's been some descent in Steve's group of players over if they want to continue on Clark Ashton Smith's  Zothique using the Siege Engine system by Troll Lord Games or try Sine Nomine Pubblishing's game Godbound rpg. Now I've been reading over the last twenty four hours I've been reading Godbound & it reads like an epic & sweeping vision of its creator like Stars Without Numbers for mythology & demi godhood. I like what I'm reading. The problem is that the ball is in play already & the players don't realize it.
Over Christmas time my wife made a great investment in the form of grabbing me the whole Troll Lord Games  product catalog. The first thing as a dungeon master I needed to do was take care of all of this from the ground up & with boots on the ground. I made a call to everyone involved under the pretense of 'the player's schedule' & began feeling out the situation. Everyone really enjoyed the game but didn't want to stray too far away from the tradition 'Pulp Dungeons & Dragons' feel of our mini holiday game. Even with 'modern elements' there was was a cohesive whole to the mini campaign. 

Some folks also didn't like the idea of straying into a brand new gaming systems & the learning curve that it put on me as a dungeon master. Thanks for the concern guys but I've been playing Dungeons & Dragons style games for forty years. The biggest thing I've learned is the art of compromise when it comes to dungeon mastering.  Sine Nomine Pubblishing's game Godbound rpg isn't simply a game based on gods & demi gods. I've been reading Kevin Crawford's games for a very long time.  I've learned that his games are whole cloth tool boxes for designing & playing around in the sand boxes of the man's imagination. So even if your playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition or even Castles & Crusades there's a lot that you can get out of his games. Case & point are fantasy religions & cults.

So with that in mind I'm compromising using Steve's forty pages of  Zothique notes & looking at Godbound. Maybe even using some of it with Castles & Crusades. But further investigation has me dusting off  Peter Adkins The Primal Order as well. I love math, gods, planes, etc. as well as combining them with super heroes & pulp elements. Its been a long & many moons since I really sunk my teeth into a good & solid campaign like this.

I surprised the players who were expecting arguments & drama. Nope that's not what this is all about. The fact is that with a little elbow DM grease this has some real potential. Back in the 90's & early 00's when players got sick of the 'angst' of White Wolf, we always fell back into an AD&D/BX game campaign with the Primal Order backing it. Time to dust off the campaign notes & see where the Hell we are. God I do so love this hobby! 2019 is shaping up to be a great year! 

Divine Destruction & Possible New Gaming Group With An OSR Twist - Godbound Rpg By Kevin Crawford Campaign

Against my heart your heart is closed; you bid me go:
What ways are left in all the world for love to know ?
Desolate oceans, and the light of lonely plains,
Dead moons that wander in the wastes of ice and snow—

These, these I fain would see, and find the splendid bourn
Of sunset, or the Brazen deserts of the morn,
That I might lose this ever-aching loneliness
In vaster solitude; and love be less forlorn,

Faring to seek with alien sun and alien star
The strange, the veiled horizons infinite and far;
Spaces of fire and night, the skies of steel and gold,
Or sunset-haunted seas where foamless islands are.The Exile  (1922) 
by Clark Ashton Smith

So its two twenty A.M.  & I'm just getting back from saying good bye to my buddy Steve & his crew. Five of the seven players stayed on for drinks after the good bye/holiday party tonight. We all had a good laugh & sent Steve along with his brothers off in grand fashion. But there was more then the usual reluctance on the players part. There was a sense of uneasy in the air tonight. I hadn't seen some of these folks since 2016. That was three years ago but it might as well have been the blink of an eye.
So I took aside my friend Brian & wanted a word as to what the problem was?! Apparently folks had been talking & they were missing a regular gaming group. Now I'm already running a regular gaming group using Troll Lord Amazing Adventures! rpg. 'We know but there was an OSR  game that some folks want to try out that looks really good & we know that your familiar with the system.' Alright that got my curiosity up. 'The problem is that we know it might be outside of your comfort zone.
Well why is that?!
Because we'd like you to run Godbound: A Game of Divine Heroes by Kevin Crawford (Author), Jeff Brown (Illustrator), Christof Grobelski (Illustrator), Aaron Lee (Illustrator), Joyce Maureira (Illustrator), Tan Ho Sim (Illustrator), Maxime Plasse (Illustrator), Craigg Judd (Illustrator).

The Godbound rpg is one of those unicorn games for me. That is to say that back in 2016 I was getting ready to run this game & it went extinct on me in a mythical sideways situation. So I don't own the game in a physical hard copy nor on pdf. The basic premise sounds like something out of the mythological plot play book; 
"The Throne stands empty. Heaven has fallen, and the Words of Creation thunder from new throats. Undestined, unfettered, unchosen, you are Godbound, and your will is writ with fire. Godbound is a tabletop role-playing game of divine heroes in a broken world, men and women who have seized the tools that have slipped from an absent God's hands. Bound by seeming chance to the Words of Creation, these new-forged titans face a world ravaged by the mad ambitions of men and the cruel legacy of human folly." 
Basically you play demigods & children of the gods struggling to put right what has gone wrong in the with the planes & the Heavens. I haven't said yes or no to this campaign yet. But I did do a whole lot of research on about Godbound & if this was a game that was right for this group
Godbound is a game that uses Kevin Crawford's original style Dungeons & Dragons rules system but spun in very different directions then say Stars Without Number. But I want to focus on an original Dungeons & Dragons classic TSR era module or more modern OSR sources. 
For example I've been itching to use the Teratic Tome by Rafael Chandler  From 

Neoplastic Press. Yes I realize that many of the monsters in this book are world enders but that's sort of the point here. There are some very dangerous creatures capable of all kinds of mayhem. But what is the point of being the child of a god if you are not capable of defending against the forces of darkness. 

The dragons alone from 
 the Teratic Tome are worth the price of admission & perfect for a world shattering campaign. So my possible future players were able to get me a pdf copy of the Godbound rpg along with two of the supplements. The Lexicon of the Throne is one of the more interesting looking of the Godbound line"The Lexicon of the Throne is a sourcebook that contains not only a host of new Words of Creation for your Godbound game, but also extensive guidelines for creating new Words and gifts for your own campaign". The 'words' are the sort of divine foundation key powers for the gods & the PC's. They seem easy to convert on the fly  & use in game. 

 All I did flipping through both books was feel like I was reading a primer for a party of demi gods going to take on the classic  Temple of Elemental Evil By Gary Gygax & Frank  Mentzer. The characters get drawn into the sleepy town of Hommlet & everything starts go wrong around the PC's party. 

Could the temple & its evil be at the center of a group of god's pantheon greatest worry that  knows the threat the the mind bending & sanity shattering horrors that lurk in the Temple of Elemental Evil. For the moment I'm not yet committed to this campaign game.. yet but only time will tell if I can get everyone's schedule arranged for get together & character work shop. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Final Death & Depravity In The Zothique Wastelands - Clark Ashton Smith Inspired Zothique Actual Play Session Report Five

Deep in my heart, as in the hollow stone
And silence of some olden sepulcher,
Thy silver beauty lies, and shall not stir—
Forgotten, incorruptible, alone:

Though altars darken, and a wind be blown
From starless seas on beacon-fires that were—
Within thy tomb, with oils of balm and myrrh,
For ever burn the onyx lamps unknown.

And though the bleak Novembral gardens yield
Rose-dust and ivy-leaf, nor any flower
Be found through vermeil forest or wan field—
Still, still the asphodel and lotos lie
Around thy bed, and hour by silent hour,
Exhale immortal fragrance like a sigh.

Sepulchre  (1918) 

Steve our dungeon master had been playing with our party one by one Ten Little Indians style but this game was different. It was the end & there wasn't anything anyone could do. The end of the year game had come on the shores of Zothique! We were to face the wraith of  the dead necromancer king's whose tomb we had looted. He didn't want the treasures back he wanted revenge!

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual Lich artwork by Dave Trampier
Copy write & trademarked to Wizards of the Coast Used Without Permission.

We were face to face with the necromancer lich king himself. A few of us had survived but as noon approached a force of raiders  the likes of which we'd not seen before was upon us. The necomancer king's army was upon us!

We tossed fire balls & shot his way  but the endless stream of warriors was way too much for us. There was no coming back from this but then the words of power streamed from his decayed & swollen lips. Call down the wraith of Thasaidon the ruler of the Seven Hells onto our heads! It was glorious! The shifting sands opened upon our heads! The end came swiftly in the form of an Earth Element/storm conjured up by the wraith of Thasaidon. This thing tore through our party like tissue paper! 
earth elemental [Earth Elemental Design by Christopher Onciu]
artwork used without permission

Well that's it folks. My PC is officially dead & past the point of resurrection. The end of my PC came swiftly in the light of the red day on Zothique.  
There isn't a track of us or our modern equipment on Zothique. The whole affair took about three hours because we had thwarted Steve's plans with the ghouls that he was planning on sending our way earlier that night. But this was dungeon master wasn't going to be denied. So we were ready & our PC's were going to go out in style! Well no they weren't?! Everything that we'd done in the campaign had been wiped out in one swift sweep of the Liche's wraith!
But that wasn't the end! 

In all things, the people of Cincor performed the actions of life at the will of Mmatmuor and Sodosma. They spoke, they moved, they ate and drank as in life. They heard and saw and felt with a similitude of the senses that had been theirs before death; but their brains were enthralled by a dreadful necromancy. They recalled but dimly their former existence; and the state to which they had been summoned was empty and troublous and shadow-like. Their blood ran chill and sluggish, mingled with water of Lethe; and the vapors of Lethe clouded their eyes.

Dumbly they obeyed the dictates of their tyrannous lords, without rebellion or protest, but filled with a vague, illimitable weariness such as the dead must know, when having drunk of eternal sleep, they are called back once more to the bitterness of mortal being. They knew no passion or desire. or delight, only the black languor of their awakening from Lethe, and a gray, ceaseless longing to return to that interrupted slumber."

The Empire of the Necromancers

Clark Ashton Smith

We rose with the commands of power of the necromancer king & followed him back into the tomb to serve him for all eternity! Now we have to wait till June or July to see if we can put our PC's from their miserable undead existences! Can our heroes be freed from the yoke of undeath & depravity. Steve's direct inspiration was Clark Ashton Smith's 
The Empire of the Necromancers. The wraith of necromancers & liches is swift & very dangerous!