Wednesday, October 31, 2018

OSR Review & Campaign Commentary On The Castles & Crusades Codex Germania By Brian Young

"The Codex Germania unearths the mythological realms of the ancient Germans. From the murky forests of their beginnings rise the myths, the magic, gods, goddesses, monsters, heroes and legends of the ancient Germans, all brought to life for your Castles & Crusades game."

Let me go on record as saying that 'The Codex Germania'  is a big book for Castles & Crusades weighing in at 112 pages! That 112 is packed in wall to wall Germanic mythological goodness & its perfect for Halloween! With new PC classes such as the witch & variations on the slayer class not to mention the variety of horrid monsters waiting to chew on your PC?! But there's more here then simply that. Brian Young goes into the book's contents in the intro & it sets the tone for the entire book;

"This book allows both the Castle Keeps and the players to explore the breadth of early Germanic  mythologies and culture.For the sake of history and religion, the pre-Christian Germans are covered because their imagination and colorful beliefs hadnot yet submitted to a European commonality. By the time of Christianization, the Germanic world largely lost it imaginative heritage of wondrous sagas about divine heroes, other worlds,supernatural creatures, and magic. This codex attempts to capture some of that essence and places it into the hands of gamers"

But does the
'The Codex Germania' deliver on its promise of mythological Germany rife with new monsters, PC classes, spells, & more?! Well the mythological &  historical background is right on point with the beginning chapters;
'This chapter serves a twofold purpose in telling history. First, it will give a brief overview of early Germanic history in Europe, giving beginners in this field of study a basic understanding.
Secondly, it gives the creation mythos from the early Germanic  pagan religions as best as possible. Note, that due to the variations among the many tribes, those disparate but similar strands
of myth among Germanic peoples do have a commonality and a link to the Nordic sources that came later.' The book here is really on point & gives the dungeon master an actual usable thumbnail view of ancient Germany's history & mythology. The second chapter in we get even more background focusing on the peoples &  land itself after the first chapter with a an inter spacing of some mythological elements ;
The many descendants of Tuisto dwell in many lands throughout Europa, from east to west and have large tribes often numbering a 100,000 or more members. The three groups of peoples have covered a wide territory over time, from the boundaries of
the furthest south (Roman Empire and Spain) to Britannia to the west, Scandza to the North and the Black Sea to the east.
In this section, the many tribal confederations and regions across Europe, from east to west, will be given a detail that joins both the mythical and historical into a unified perspective for
game play. Germania, on the far side of the Rhine, was seen in Roman eyes as Germani Liberia (Free Germania) where the many tribes there were not under imperial control.
Mythical places in the Germanic Otherworld will also be describedas best as information can be gathered from the limited sources. Key locations in Germania and other settled (and invaded) regions by Germanic tribes are detailed here for places that CKs can use in their games. The mythical locations in the Codex Nordica can be used to enhance those listed here by the CK."
This sets everything up to come just as we've seen in  The Codex Celtarum because we  get a detailed history on the two ancient Germany's. Germania Inferior & Superior are brought to the forefront by Caesar Augustus;
'Caesar Augustus sought to have total control over all of Germania early in his reign before letting this wild and untamed part of Europe deluge the Empire. His designation was Germania
Magna or ‘Great Germania’, but this was cut short after the fatal Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 C.E.
It was deemed unrealistic that Germania would ever be completely in the Empire’s possession and so other strategies were employed to find means in which to incorporate this untamed land. The method of divide and conquer, which had been working well against the Greeks and Celts, was not so simple in the
face of this newly encountered people.'
You get a really nicely detailed semi mythological setting with lots of historical details & then the book jumps feet first into the mythological realms of Germanic mythology after detailing  swaths of history on kings, tribes, & gobs of history.  This material parells many of the Teutonic & Norse mythologies that I've seen over the years but its got a slightly different take here. Take for example 'ÆLFHÁM – Home of the Elves
This magical world exists outside of the reach of Middangeard normally and is bound tightly to the tree of Irminsul, as it is filled with its constant magical energies. The elves that live here are whimsical and frivolous acting among each other, but they turn sinister and devious towards strangers (specifically humans) if they are interrupted.
Fair beings, standing both short and tall, the ælf-kind are purely composed of magic. Their world is a large, wild forest-land filled with other magical beings and creatures that can be called faery.
These ælves can glow with a white light from within in a heavenly manner if needed to banish away evil or dark beings keepingthis world untainted by the presence of darkness.
 Wēland the smith (or deor) is their king (Ylfcynig), who dwells in a simple forest smithy away from the hustle and bustle of the court and palace. In his stead, he has many stewards and chiefs that function for him while he creates wondrous items at his
forge. Wēland’s crafts have been sought after by many across the worlds, and they have attempted many deceptive plots to do so.
To outsiders, the myriad rulers of Ælfhám will appear lofty and arrogant in manner, but this is due to the immortals’ difference from mortals, and the possession of their great magic. The land is largely untamed and filled with wondrous sights and beings beyond all comparison (CK can refer to the Codex Celtarum for faery abilities and extra beings not in this particular codex).
The inhabitants of this world choose to intrude on Middangeard often, becoming involved in the affairs of mortals and altering events to suit their own purposes. They do not, however,
allow mortals to meddle in their business. Mortals are looked down upon by the ælf-kind for their crudeness, vulgarity, and lack of refinement.
The goddess Frigge dwells here and is often seen riding in her chariot in the forests, surrounded by her faery entourage. It is wisest by mortals and invited strangers to never interrupt her ride. This world has never known the scourge of the giants or other invaders in its history because of the powerful enchantments possessed by its natives.'
These are the Elves I grew up hearing & reading about with my German neighbors in my home town. Yes they have some of the qualities of the Tolkein Elves but these are the origins & their every bit as alien & weird. The realms of Fairy & the Germanic gods are not to be treated upon by mankind.  The monster section folds neatly within the mythological places & realms of the gods starting with alp is a type of elf vampire & then finally ending with the Germanic dragons which we get solid guide line rules ala Beowulf.
The Germanic dragons are nasty pieces of work & this might happen to your PC's.

Myths and legends of all nations; famous stories from the Greek, German, English, Spanish, Scandinavian, Danish, French, Russian, Bohemian, Italian and other sources by Marshall, Logan, tr Publication date 1914
Not artwork from the book but these are the type of monsters in 'The Codex Germania' .

Chapter four In Wizardry & Enchantments goes into the magic PC classes, magicks, spells, & enchanted items of 'The Codex Germania';
'There are many new character classes included that are different from the normal wizard and illusionist classes in that their approach to spell-casting and enchantments are
not typical, the Erilaz or (rune master), and Wælcyrig/Halirúna
or (witch).
The many aspects of rune magic are detailed here and how they can be used in normal gaming. Runes in gaming have always been somewhat close to the ancient Migration Period attestation of runic magic and their later Viking parallels. This chapter
will outline a system that is closer to those mentioned previously." Yes I'm skipping over the ring oaths because there's a ton of background with these which are for adventures & I'll go into this later. This chapter is very well done in my opinion & really sets  'The Codex Germania' apart in its approach to handling the whole of Germanic mythological magick in Castles & Crusades. And this brings me to Serve the Gods which really dives deeply into the Germanic Pagan & Druidic traditions. It dives deeply into the Germanic mythological pantheon from the creator gods to the gods of warfare to hearth & home. Sacred groves & funeral practices actually get a solid style of use for Pagan cleric PC classes here.
Chapter six 'Skilled in Battlecraft' gives the PC martial classes something to use in the Germanic mythological world. We get more pseudo historical information on the Germanic warrior, further details of the ring oaths of a warrior, & more useful information on the martial affairs of Germanic warriors, soldiers, etc. Including historical information on women warriors of Germany. Deadly rules for ancient artillery & arrows along with the shield wall. Property, land, blood money, and more all used in ancient warfare in Germany. Then finally two new PC classes The Dragonslayer & the Wod or Germanic 'Fury' which is similar to Norse beserker but they have some of their own mythic or divine wrinkles. Both classes are very well done. The slayer & witch classes from the magic section are excellent foils for both of these classes & I can see using all of this to put together an adventuring party for ancient Germany.
Finally we get to the Castle Keeper's information about ancient Germany, its rulers, & society. This is a very well laid out chapter & has critical information about the whole of running a campaign. Again its very well put together.
'The Codex Germania' is a solid & well put together product. I like how accessible it is & how well put together all of the information is in this book. I think that the 'The Codex Germania' is a solid five out of five.

Now for the Amazing Adventures! rpg dungeon master this is another in my mind essential book. Why?! Because of the fact that there is so much to pillage & use. The Wod, the Dragon slayer, the slayer class,the witch, & more make excellent foils for the Pulp adventuring of AA!

But once again this is a solid case of using the Amazing Adventures companion & the Amazing Adventures Manual of Monsters especially because of the Dragon Slayer class.  The dragons & NPC witches of
'The Codex Germania' are solid evil & make excellent vile villains. They have motives, personalities, & out and out agendas that should they find their way to civilization would wreck havoc. The Monsterous Manual has a wide array of minor dragonic monsters that could also wreck havoc with the world of ancient Germany. The Wod could be used as the basis for a nasty PC class of fighter or adventurer. The use of 'The Codex Germania' for a World War two game is both intriguing & beyond the scope of one blog review & yes I will go into this more as my Amazing Adventures campaign continues!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Halloween Hyperborea Hustle - A New Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Kickstarter

'As though a thousand vampires, from the day
Fleeing unseen, oppressed that nightly deep,
The straitening and darkened skies of sleep
Closed on the dreamland dale in which I lay.

Eternal tensions numbed the wings of time
While through unending narrow ways I sought
Awakening; up precipitous gloom I thought
To reach the dawn, far-pinnacled sublime.

Rejected at the closen gates of light
I turned, and down new dreams and shadows fled,
Where beetling shapes of veiled, colossal dread
With Gothic wings enormous arched the night.'
Nightmare By Clark Ashton Smith

Halloween is fast approaching but any dungeon master worth their salt knows that October is Sword & Sorcery game time. The winds have been howling here at Casa De Fabiaschi & I've had tons of yard work as well as an enormous amount of sewing machine repair work heaped upon me. Jeffery Talanian posted on G+ & a wide variety of social media that we'd be seeing a brand new Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Kickstarter. On Halloween with a wide array of brand new brand expanding products.

This kickstarter is very important for fans of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition & first edition for that matter. Hyperborea began to change with the second set of AS&SH OSR adventures with The FORGOTTEN FANE of the COILED GODDESS. This was at the same time Beneath The Comet came out & Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes. All of these adventures ushered in the second edition kickstarter & material.

The games artwork got better, the setting details were revealed more, etc. The real add on here for me is the Rats in The Walls expanded edition. The cover speaks volumes for a Halloween adventure but there's more to it then simply that. This is going to be a 'Basic' adventure for AS&SH;

"Rats in the Walls and Other Perils also will include two more short adventures: Chainsaw’s “The Brazen Bull”, and “The Lamia’s Heart”, by Jeffrey P. Talanian. (An early draft of the latter was published in the AFS fanzine.) Edited by David Prata, all three adventures are set in the dismal City-State of Khromarium and designed for from four to six characters of 1st or 2nd level. Like our popular adventure module The Anthropophagi of Xambaala™, we think you will find this to be a great AS&SH campaign starter. It contains just enough mystery and danger to whet the appetites of your players, introducing them to the weird world of sword-and-sorcery role-playing in the City-State of Khromarium.
  • “Rats in the Walls”: A dockside tavern in Khromarium is plagued by rats of a most unusual breed. These abominable rodents have ruined the tavern keeper’s business and his life. The man is desperate, and he offers a substantial reward for the elimination of his horrific problem. 
  • “The Brazen Bull”: Whilst traversing one of the seedier neighbourhoods of Khromarium, your party are solicited by a greasy-haired Pict. He offers to sell you a sheaf of magical lotus that allows one to see the future or to brew potions that empower the imbiber with sorcery. He beckons you to follow him into a dilapidated building....
  • “The Lamia’s Heart”: Your party are contracted by the nascent master of an unsanctioned thieves’ guild. To earn his favour, you must steal a singular gem from the mansion of a prominent merchant. Purloining this gem, however, may raise the ire of the city’s official thieves’ guild; notwithstanding, the reward is significant."

This is super important because it helps to establish Hyperborea as a validated setting for the players. Any dungeon master worth their salt is going to take Rats in The Walls & Other Perils & customize the it to fit their own OSR campaigns in spades. Both the

are both perfect beginning points for an AS&SH campaign.
The Anthropophagi of Xambaala does an exceptional job f setting up the PC's at the cross roads of Hyperborea whist giving them an actual viable adventure location to spring board into more campaign action.
The adventure setting within this module  has lots of potential to help get old school players on board with AS&SH.

 The fact is that I keep seeing a bunch of lost Greyhawk or old school adventurers crossing the desert heat & ending up stranded on Hyperborea. The events of The Anthropophagi of Xambaala  unfold around them. This gets the characters spring boarded into the world of Hyperborea whist giving the DM the opportunity  to mix together two solid groups of adventurers. It could also act as a further opportunity to build a connection between the worlds. This give the players a few options to use existing characters to help build campaign cohesion.

 There are some solid campaign in roads that the Rats In The Walls adventures has to link up with the events of The Anthropophagi of Xambaala . This is especially true of the adventure “The Lamia’s Heart” which is inspired by Robert Howard & Clark Ashton Smith. PC's are going to have to be careful not to run afoul of the most dangerous elements of Hyperborea within these adventures. Make no mistake your PC's could end up not only on the menu but on the ingrediants table of some Hyperborean wizard. Happy Halloween folks & go here to help support the latest AS&SH kickstarter!

Friday, October 26, 2018

OSR & Campaign Commentary On The O edition version of Tomb of the Iron God for Swords & Wizardry By Matt Finch

"A temple destroyed by divine wrath... An ancient, imprisoned evil and a powerful idol. Mysteries abound in the tombs below the temple of the Iron God, protector of the dead. Discover the dreadful fate of the Iron God's priesthood and the reasons behind their downfall in this intriguing adventure designed for low-level characters. Tomb of the Iron God covers a large catacomb area on two levels, with 58 keyed locations and six new monsters. This is a Swords & Wizardry (0e) dungeon crawl for four to five characters of 1st or 2nd level, by ENNIE-award winning author Matt Finch"

October is Halloween for the kids but many of us OSR guys we know that's the prelude to the Sword & Sorcery OSR campaign time during the long Winter months. With the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea mega Kickstater going off,"New Kickstarter campaign launching on Halloween! Four new products for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea; Hyperborea Players' Manual, Hyperborea Player Character Folder, Hyperborea Referee's Screen, Rats in the Walls and Other Peril". Jeffrey Talanian let the cat slip out of the bag about twenty hours ago on G+  & other social media. What does this have to do with the O edition version of Tomb of the Iron God for Swords & Wizardry?!
Quite bit actually. First of all I had three tons of messages & what not about the fact of why hadn't there been any announcement about  The World of Jordoba?! Matt Finch was streaming  actual play episodes on Youtube & Twitch. . Go here for the YouTube Playlist of the series.

Again the layout here reminds me of a 70's Sword & Sorcery comic book ala Marvel's Conan or DC's various Sword & Sorcery titles. This is done with exactly the idea of putting spot light on the PC's as they are moved into adventure's central point on for the adventure. The Tomb of the Iron God does this right out the gate with mechanical timing;

"For centuries, nearby hillfolk have brought their dead to the Tomb of the Iron God, a
largely-forgotten minor deity of the underworld who guards the spirits and bodies of the
dead. A community of monks has maintained an ancient temple above the god's sacred underground catacombs since before recorded history,performing funeral rites and bringing bodies below to rest in
the Iron God's protection."
"However, the monks of the temple became corrupt and venal, and under the leadership of one monk, Ardarus, they began accumulating treasure  and secretly raising an army of undead to take control of the
villages surrounding the  Monastery. About a month before the adventure begins,the High Priest, who remained loyal to the Iron God's true commands, denounced the renegade monks and ordered
them to bring Ardarus before the statue of the Iron God for judgment. Furious, Ardarus
took and imprisoned him, seizing control of the temple to  declare himself high priest. But
On the very night the high priest  died of starvation, the Iron God visited a terrible vengeance upon these disloyal servitors.
Lightning struck from the heavens, lighting the dark skies for hours as every building of the temple complex was blasted from existence. The renegade monks were transformed into statues of living iron, still
conscious but trapped in their almost-immobile bodies for all eternity. The subterranean catacombs under the temple still remain, filled with the treasures accumulated by the avaricious monks. The god, also, remains living within his great Idol in the Sacred Catacombs where he guards the dead entrusted to him. One other being remains as well, an immortal evil imprisoned a thousand years ago by the god himself - the Eater of the Dead."

Everything in this adventure pairs the PC's against the forces of the Iron Priests & the monsters of the tomb. Factions & monsters that we heard about in the World of Jordoba Player's Guide. Here the rumors & threads of the player's guide come together in the form of the ruins of the tomb. Necroamancers are going to have a bad time at the tomb.
Even though this is a first level PC dungeon its a really nasty one & very dangerous. The adventure contains lots of new elements specifically for
Tomb of the Iron God for Swords & Wizardry. Why is this important?! Because they're keyed for this adventure but they have been adapted into the world of Jordoba setting. This places them squarely at the feet of the dungeon master to use elsewhere. Yesterday I mentioned that the world of Jordoba was like dimensional cheese cloth & rotting from within its own universe falling into the multiveral planar void.
This means that The Tomb of the Iron God can be upon
Jordoba while at the same time appearing in Greyhawk or Blackmoor. Imagine walking into one world for the dungeon & crossing the dimensional threshold unto another universe entirely. Walk across Jordoba & you might end up upon Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea's Hyperborean setting. 

This takes the adventure from the realm of Swords & Wizardry into the pull of appendix N style stories such as Clark Ashton Smith's Sword & Sorcery settings such as the Hyperborean cycle & the Zothique tales. The world's cycle of years has moved on & now its time. The Tomb of the Iron God belongs to a different order & a different older reality then that of
Jordoba. This makes the tomb a very dangerous location whose local space time could cross into other worlds & times. Solving the riddles, traps, & monsters  of the Iron Tomb maybe only the beginning. 
But is the Tomb Of the Iron God solidly done?! Yes its cartography is easy to read, the artwork & layout are easy on the eyes & the module is still a fine addition to any OSR Sword & Sorcery dungeon master's line up! Five out of five across the board. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

OSR & Campaign Commentary On World of Jordoba Player Guide by Matt Finch

"The World of Jordoba is the masterpiece swords & sorcery campaign setting written by ENNIE award-winning author Matt Finch. Jordoba is an ancient world populated by strange peoples and stranger monsters, physically fraying into the depths of the oceanic multiverse. Ruination has spread across the world, and the civilizations of the Sea of Khoramandu are pushed back to the very coasts. And yet, humankind has risen from worse threats in the past eons of its existence. Scattered villages remain in the wildlands, and new barons carve out freeholds in the wilderness, their names scribed upon new maps. Great wizards make sorties into the very shadows beyond reality, seeking forgotten lore and undiscovered frontiers of arcane scholarship. It is a world where unnatural things survive from ancient times, where nameless gods have turned their unfathomable intentions, and where even civilized regions must literally be re-explored.
This is … the Weirdling world of Jordoba!"

So once again I return to my first OSR love Sword & Sorcery with
Matt Finch's World of Jordoba Player Guide  which is done in the style of Seventies Marvel Conan or Sword & Sorcery comic book. This puts the reader in the product's mind set & campaign setting.

While this is about as system neutral a product you can get the whole affair reminds me of Marvel's Guide To The Conan universe .  The setting has the feel of a place about to come to the end of its act. There's a great deal of the Robert Howard or Clark Ashton Smith twilight's end of the world bit about
World of Jordoba.  The World of Jordoba Player Guide setting has the feel of a campaign setting on the last days as the setting bloated sun pulls the whole thing into the Abyss.  The dungeon master gets just enough detail to set adventurers onto the path of glory;

"MandrAknow  this, my fellow wanderer;The ancient civilizations around
the wine-dark waters of the Sea of Khoramandu arepressed back to the very
coasts. Do they not cling to the very coastlines against a  tide of beasts and barbarians
rising from the inland wilds?Even great kings upon their glittering thrones in the citystates
lie awake of nights,knowing that civilization may be in its last days!
Even the very fabric of the world is rent and frayed. Oh yes, There are places I know
of where you can walk straight through into another world than this, another time than
this, even into realms of shadow that lie behind the reality we see. Our world is parting at the seams,companion. The oracles know it. The great mages know it. Astrologers chart a path of ruin in the skies, and the wolves sing their triumph to the five moons.
Listen well, for what I tell you is little known and seldom spoken of. We talk of Goodness and of evil, we speak of law and chaos. But these are just the conceits of human morality, the way we order our little, insignificant place in the universe so that
we can understand it. In truth, however, there is a far larger conflict at work — the cosmic  forces of Order, Balance,and Ruination. This battlemight mean little to you now,
when your purse is shallow and your name means nothing.But as you claw your way
forward in the world, forces and destinies begin to coalesce  around you."

From here the
World of Jordoba Player Guide setting book jumps into religion, city states, numerous locations, the gods, astrological information, etc.. The whole book feels like Matt Finch's campaign setting notes & that's not a bad thing. What your getting is a thumbnail setting done right. That is to say a whole campaign world in fifty pages that you can make your own.
What really puts the world of Jordoba in a different place is how setting elements are used to draw the average Dungeons & Dragons or Swords & Wizardry PC in. The planar rifts element is used here ;
Rifts are areas of planar instability; the interior of the rift could be occupied by a
part of one of several different “worlds” at any given time. Most of Jordoba’s rifts have a native Jordoban interior that is the most common occupant of the rift. Passing through the border and back  while the native Jordoban region is resident in the rift is no different from ordinary walking. However, the native Jordoban region will often be replaced by part of some other world: possibly switching places with that part of the
other world, or perhaps sliding into one of the rift’s outlets in a third and entirely
different world. The  functioning of most largerifts is inconsistent: some astrologers can make good  guesses about the drift of  worlds through the rifts." This adventure campaign element allows the dungeon master to place the
World of Jordoba 
'where' & 'when' they want it. That's significant because it takes the pressure off of the dungeon master from ruining the flow of home brew campaign that's already in action.  The cartography is by Glynn Seal, the cover artwork by Adrian Landeros & the whole Sword & Sorcery affair has Matt Finch's writing & design all over it.
The dungeon master also is given a wide variety of factions, guilds, & brotherhoods to play with the PC's lives & use for adventure opportunity. They're well done & pretty solidly sketched out but not overly so. This same formula applies to the various locations around the setting such as;


Mbalamad, City-State of
Population (city): 60,000
Current Ruler: Her Eternal
Divinity Ralaibala II, God-Queen of
Mbalamad, Suzeraine of the
What people have heard:
- Vast Moon-Temple
- Sacred monkeys
- Rich dyes and pottery glazes
from Ghanzertes river clay.

Like I said the dungeon master is given just enough material to be able to customize Jorboda & make it their own for their home games. But what makes Jordoba is the idea of a multiveral cancer spreading across the world consuming the adventure setting as it goes. 

"Jorboda is  physically fraying into the depths of the oceanic multiverse. Ruination has spread across the world, and the civilizations of the Sea of Khoramandu are pushed back to the very coasts"
This gives the dungeon master all kinds of lisence to get use old school adventures & OSR material at will. The
World of Jordoba Player Guide's setting 
is solidly done & crams lots of ideas into fifty pages that many other OSR adventure settings take a very long time to do.
So for example if a dungeon master wanted to run the classic Keep on the Borderlands in this setting. The keep & all of its kit could be a short ride away. The idea of keeping Greyhawk intact & allowing the PC's to cross into another campaign setting makes this a brilliant adventure addition.

I can see using the World of Jordoba with other OSR game settings such as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. The planar rifts & feel of the campaign setting allows parties to make the cross over easily. The fact a myriad of OSR systems could be used to run the Jordora make this a prime candidate for Lamentations of the Flame Princess.
The idea of expeditions from a dark historical Europe into a decaying dimensional Sword & Sorcery hellhole has all kinds of appeal as an adventure campaign.

Are there certain things that I'd change about the World of Jordoba Player Guide? Yes right off the bat there's no print on demand option for Drivethrurpg. Secondly I'd love a large version of the map featured in the Player's Guide as a separate PDF and as another print on demand product. 
Now the reason why this is a concern is the fact that this product uses planar rifts as possible adventure & campaign hooks. Players love to have actual maps & physical products to interact with.
All in all I was really impressed with the way that Matt Finch managed to pack so many original ideas into fifty pages. I think that the
World of Jordoba Player Guide is worth your time & money.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

OSR & Campaign Commentary On The Calidar "On Wings of Darkness" Kickstarter By Bruce Heard

So Bruce Heard has been busy with the Calidar Wings of Darkness Kickstarter, but gasp the world of Calidar is D20!?! No this source book is actually system neutral & easy to adapt to the world's most  popular role playing game.

Bruce Heard really seems to have a winner on his hands here, this source book is going to be in the same style as some of his earlier efforts;"Along the same general idea, "On Wings of Darkness" blends a new skyship episode in a 132 pg. geographic Gazetteer packed with info about a realm of wizards and demons. The following chapters follow the introductory short story".

So the whole kickstarter is funded but their still in the midst of unlocking rewards & paying artists,etc;
"This Kickstarter's intent is to fund cover and layout artists, the illustrators, the project editor, and the cost of your rewards (print & postage.) Artist Brent Chumley  committed to producing the cover artwork needed for this book.  Steven Cummings, Joe Garcia, and Eric Lofgren will bring their talents to illustrate this gazetteer as much as our stretch goals will permit. Janet Deaver-Pack has staked her claim upon the project's editing, while Thorfinn Tait will pull all the pieces together, including new maps.  Most of us have have worked together before on previous Calidar projects. Like all previous Calidar projects, "On Wings of Darkness" will be printed on demand via DrivethuRPG, which eliminates mass printing, warehousing, and retail distribution."
"The core book itself is written and awaiting final editing. All floor plans and geographic maps (some of which are featured in the video presentation) are complete as well. Those of you who have backed my earlier ventures: Thank you! Many of you are familiar with my writing style and design abilities since the 1980s. My long-time partner in life, Janet Deaver-Pack, is a published author and a professional magazine contributor. She has produced and edited a number of anthologies along with much of what I’ve been writing during the past decade. We’re confident that “On Wings of Darkness" will be as good as or better than “In Stranger Skies.”
So that's some of the real world background & the kickstarter material, if you want to really get on board the just hope over to the Kickstarter & pledge.

But how are you going to incorporate 'On Wings of Darkness' into an on going campaign. I've been wracking my brains because this is a high fantasy setting. The answer came to me over lunch whist working my way through a ham sandwich. The answer of course is demons! I own one Pathfinder book & its CAL1 Calidar In Stranger Skies.
Even though this is a 'Pathfinder' book its in the same style as Bruce Heard's Princess Ark style but with a very nifty high fantasy setting. On Wings of Darkness is going to be using that same setting with a game system   neutral mechanism. Calidar is a setting where demons are being used for many of the settings tasks & infrastructure.

In the chapter Master & Servant of 'On Wings of Darkness' this gets a whole plethora of adventure hooks;
"Master & Servant: A nation where demons serve the spellcasting class, local laws, and tools of lordship are presented alongside a who's who of Caldwen's most notorious demons." Demons are not known to be easy to deal with at the best of times. A world where wizards are political & ethical rivals opens up all kinds of opportunities for the dungeon master. What if Calidar's plane/universe merges with other realities ala the worlds of Lord Dunsany. The sky ships  of Calidar already have a Spelljammer/boxed set Champions of Mystara: Heroes of the Princess Ark (1993) feel. This hook puts Calidar into the realm of Clark Ashton Smith, Leigh Brackett, or perhaps some of the other efforts of Robert Howard.

Heard's own articles from his blog entitled Masters & Commanders Pt. I 

not only suggest that this is the case but expand out NPC captains in BCEMI D&D stats.

"In the first of the articles intended to convert Star Phoenix crew members to D&D BECMI, I had detailed Captain Isledemer d’Alberran. Here’s the shyship’s first mate, Enna Daggart. She was first described in CAL1 “In Stranger Skies,” page 110, for Pathfinder. If you haven’t read the first article, click here for details, and familiarize yourself with Calidar’s peculiarities. Reminder: weapon damage listed here reflects the Weapons Mastery Table (Rules Cyclopedia, pg. 78-79)."

If your not following Bruce Heard's blog then I strongly suggest you do.
Much of the material for the setting of Calidar has appeared there. I've been following Calidar for sometime but there are not enough hours in the day to get all of this on the blog. Work has been taking great swaths of my time.

What does all of this mean? It means that player's PC's might be running into the skyships of Calidar in a wide variety of ports & not all of those ports might be a part of the waking world of your current campaign.
Reality in certain ports can be a bit fuzzy & highly dangerous so those attempting to make the crossing into the realms of dreams or the alien stars that shine down upon alien planes should remember how dangerous these journeys can be.

“Well did the traveler know those garden lands that lie betwixt the wood of the Cerenerian Sea, and blithely did he follow the singing river Oukranos that marked his course. The sun rose higher over gentle slopes of grove and lawn, and heightened the colors of the thousand flowers that starred each knoll and dangle. A blessed haze lies upon all this region, wherein is held a little more of the sunlight than other places hold, and a little more of the summer's humming music of birds and bees; so that men walk through it as through a faery place, and feel greater joy and wonder than they ever afterward remember.”
H.P. Lovecraft,
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

Monday, October 22, 2018

Review & Commentary Of Castles & Crusades ' The Codex Slavorum' By Brian Young For Your Old School Campaigns

"Norv & Galv crawled along the guttural entrance to the former Roman temple, its gods long replaced by something much worse. 'Did you bring the torches?!', the voice quivered & it wasn't the rime cold or the slime under Galv's backside. Norv made his way to the ruin's gated remains which had been bent years before by something it hitting it from inside with great force. The candle light arched around the rusted remains & Norv held his hand up for silence. He took the ox oil from his pack & literally applied it but neither warrior saw the spent made from darkness as thick as a man's thigh crawl from right over their heads. The monster was another limb of the thing of darkness that lived in the ruins of the temple. The village chief would keep his half of the warriors bargain & his daughter. Norv's son would marry another & he would mourn his father. There were no time for screams & only the wet sucking sound of flesh then silence played in the aqueduct. But this was the price to pay whist messing in the darkness in the affairs of wizards & demons. ."

There are a few OSR products & rpg products that use the Slav mythology & occult traditions as the basis for an rpg  setting.
The Codex Slavorum does exactly this & perhaps a bit more.

"The Codex Slavorum opens roads into the mythological realms of the ancient Slavs. Born in the shadow of Siberia their myths and magic, their gods, goddesses, monsters, heroes and legends offer an untouched wealth of material for your Castles & Crusades game.
New Classes! New spells! More monsters!
Bring the ancient Slavic worlds to life!"

I opted for the physical package & grabbed my order on Friday  from the mail.The books are beautiful with the cover art striking with a Chrenobog demon being confronted by a Slavic wizard in the spirit realm. Drivethrurpg lists three books in the Mythos line for Castles & Crusades by
Brian N. Young.   Young presents the Slav spiritual & mythological world as easily accessible & fundamentally usable to the dungeon master ( no I'm not nor will I ever be a Castle Keeper, I'm a dungeon master as Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson were).  I'm going to turn this book on its side because I'm planning on using this material in my campaigns. But I want you to see the quality of the layout & the black & white artwork.
Peter Bradley does a bang up job with his artwork.

Opinions about the
'The Codex Slavorum' vary wildly from Amazon 3 star rating by Chrytal Cartwright . Then there is  the five star rating on Good  Reads by

Oleg meets the volkhv.
Painting by Viktor Vasnetsov

Most folks think of the world of Slavic mythology being the world dragons, liches,a myriad of ghosts, spirits, etc. but its really the world of the vampire. The vampire of  The Amazing Adventures Manual of Monsters.

This isn't a slight on Jason Vey's work but when you want to have a party of adventurers meet the forces of the Slavic underworld head on. There's nothing like having the original source book in your hands to pull from in order to do it.Sure there's Wiki entries & internet what not but when you want your OSR source book to pull from when constructing then your going to want the