Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Finally got my artwork online...

So, thanks to Matt Finch, I finally got around to putting my artwork online. Everything in the current portfolio has either been produced specifically for or included in Fight On! Magazine, though soon there'll be some stuff from a couple of different projects I'm working on.

Doing artwork for the Old School Renaissance has really been a dream come true for me, with the current highlight being an Honorable Mention in the Erol Otus Art Challenge. Erol himself commented on my drawing. My 12 year-old self actually fainted.

My plan is to just keep adding 'em as I finish 'em.

If you'd like to talk with me about working on a project, please drop me a line!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hey, I get to PLAY!

So, I'm a lucky boy. The only player who's been to EVERY Otherness session, Will, aka "coffee", is all primed and ready to go running Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and I get to play! He's even got the deluxe boxed edition, which is, in a word, gorgeous. James Raggi, you've set the bar high.
If anyone wants to join in, the date set is Sunday, November 21st from 12-4 at The Source Comics and Games. You can let me know about it here, let Will know about it over at his blog (linked above), or just show up---we run things by the Free Campaign philosophy: whoever shows up gets to play.

I'll obviously be posting more about the session and the rules after we play, but I'll say this immediately---the free  Rules and Magic books available on the LotFP site are clearly written and thoughtfully laid out. I mean, I don't expect much when something's free, but even these free, art-less versions are laid-out, as opposed to just dumped from word processor into a pdf.

I dig it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Commit! Commit!

Based on Jeff Reints' acceptance of Rob Conley's say-so, I've committed to answer RPG questions over at Stack Overflow. I think this is a great way to use the IntraBrain, and I'm hopeful it'll help broaden the interest in and connection to the Old School Renaissance.

However, they need more people to commit to the RPG topic before it can go live---sign up! Commit! Share your experience (or admit your ignorance!)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Paying attention, or "Bertram the dungeon possum"

So, while playtesting the primordial_odd rules yesterday, my six year-old son, Max, began to get bored. Now, this isn't unusual, but while he initially said he wanted to know "when we're gonna fight something", he still wandered away even during combat.

At first I got irritated, mostly because I was trying to keep the playtest running as smoothly as possible after a delayed start of making/porting characters and other things, which didn't help. Luckily, however, the characters were exploring the Upper Caves of the Darkness Beneath from Fight On! 2, and that means eight-legged dungeon possums. I should also mention that Max was playing Rex, a large, three-headed talking dog he based off of an old miniature of mine.

Rex is the first to notice the possums, due to his sense of smell. When he bounds over to them, they understandably cower in fright. Max decides that Rex is going to try and talk to them "in animal language." Um, okay. Got nothing planned for that, but he's suddenly interested. After a bit it becomes obvious that Max would really like one of the possums to be his "minion" (yeah, we saw Despicable Me, which was actually pretty good...) Again, my initial reaction was "Ugh. No. Please no more stuff to keep track of!", but again, I thought, well, this is what he wants from the game, right now, as a player. So, again, okay. One of the possums, whom I name Bertram, wants to get out of this podunk cave and see "The Big Light in the Sky", of which his ancestors tell so many frightening tales, for himself. He jumps up on Rex's back, and away we go...

And that was it---Max was hooked for the rest of the adventure. He even talked about Bertram on the way home, and how since Rex and all his other characters (Mudskel, Fire Skull, Bloodarex and others) all lived together, Bertram would become friends with them, too, and so could always come along on adventures. This was for me a big reminder of paying attention to the players---as far as I'm concerned, most of my fun comes from paying attention to what they're grooving on at any given moment and making that thing manifest itself fulling in the game. Max's inattention made me pay attention; it let me know I wasn't doing my job.

Thanks, Bertram. I have no doubt you'll become an actual character some day---you know, when you finally learn to speak "human language"...

Friday, August 6, 2010

primordial_odd: A Work in Progress

Alright, here's the newest iteration of my attempt to write a simulacrum of the Fantasy Supplement from Chainmail:                                   


There are still lots of holes, but I've made a couple of breakthroughs that I'm pretty excited about.    

  1. I replaced the attack and defense terminology of Light/Heavy/Armored with Cunning/Fierce/Masterful. The more I studied the original tables, the more it became obvious to me that they really weren't so much about armor as they were a gestalt of force and skill. This is especially obvious when you look at the way the terms are used for monsters in the FS. That kind of abstractness appeals to me, so I just pushed it one step further. Armor as such still matters in the Dueling Table, but not at all in the Combat Table.
  2. Which leads me to my next breakthrough, which is the, well, not so much re-creation but interpretation of the three main combat tables in the FS, the Combat Table (kept the same name), Man-to-Man (now Dueling), and the Fantasy Combat Table (now Wondrous Combat). I made some significant changes, especially in the Dueling Table, but overall I think they closely adhere to the spirit of the originals. I can honestly say when I was madly designing "indie" games three and more years ago, I would laughed out loud if you'd told me I'd design a game with three good-sized, cross-referenced, combat resolution tables---the world is funny like that, I guess. :)
For the tables themselves, which still woefully lack any sort of instructions or examples, so here's a short crib:

  • The Combat Table uses single d6s, and the formula is dice/rank(target number to score a hit); e.g., 1/2(6) means one die/two ranks, with a 6 needed to score a hit.
  • The Dueling Table uses 2d6, and at least right now, the low rank in the duel is subtracted from the high rank. The high rank in the duel uses that "duel number" as the number of 2d6 combos he rolls. The low rank in the duel rolls their rank, unless it's higher than the duel number, in which case they use the duel number, too. Opponents of the same rank each roll one 2d6. E.g., a 4th rank character faces off in a duel against a 1st rank character. 4-1=3, so the high rank rolls 3 2d6s combos, while the low rank character only rolls 1d6. If the low ranking character was 2nd rank, then both opponents would roll 2d6.
  • The Wondrous Combat table uses single rolls of 2d6 for each opponent. Damage can be dealt in one of two ways: each successful roll equals one hit of damage, or a successful hit equals an actual kill---that'll learn ya' to take the Wondrous lightly! The scores needed to hit are listed, for instance, as "7/5". The character's score to hit is on the left, the monster's on the right.
  • Characters themselves have hits equal to their rank. They can actually be knocked down to zero hits and keep fighting. Once below zero, they make a Saving Throw---if they make it, they're unconscious, if they fail it, well, even heroes die. After a combat, all hits are restored. If knocked down past zero and only rendered unconscious, when revived, hits will go back up only to the character's rank minus one, until the Adventure's over (or they spend a few days resting.)
I'm happy to field questions, and if someone's willing to give the combat tables a spin, well, that'd be fabulous. I'll be playtesting it this Sunday for Otherness: Session 13. Already sounds like we're going to have weird characters, so stay tuned...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Best character sheet EVAR!

Tavis Allison, over at the The Mule Abides, just posted the character sheet (front & back) he created for his ODD game.

I. Love. It.

You. Will. Too.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Work in Progress: Fantasy Supplement Simulacrum

The working title for this document is PRIMORDIAL ODD. I started working on it, as the picture indicates, over two years ago, but now am finally primed to finish it.

Right now it's still written as if the user will be accessing the original Chainmail rules, but that'll change soon---I'm working on redoing the appropriate tables.

My goal with this is not to create a clone, per se, but instead a game heavily inspired by Chainmail's Fantasy Supplement. Some of the data and progressions in the combat tables will be modified, and I've thrown in a couple of things that have nothing to do with the original (like the characters' Stories, and Grit), but seem to fit the spirit of the whole.

I'm happy to field comments, questions, hate-mail, etc., either here or here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Fantasy Supplement Must Be Cloned

I started a discussion on the ODD board wondering what it would take to "clone" the Fantasy Supplement from the Chainmail rules. We'll see how much conversation it generates, but a lot of great archeological work has been done by the community, and collected, clarified and elaborated on by D.H. Boggs, Jason Vey, and Finarvyn.

However, right now I'd say the work can't go a whole lot further. To use any of the materials generated so far, you need the Chainmail rules, more specifically the three tables at the end of the Fantasy Supplement. And, of course, the legal pdf of Chainmail was discontinued along with the rest of the original D&D supplements when WotC decided that it was terrified of pdf pirates, which makes it pretty hard for anyone who's new to the discussion to follow along.

Which leads me to the title of this post: The Fantasy Supplement must be cloned. I mean this in the vein of the retro-clone explosion, as a continued way of exploring the hobby's past to generate a robust present and future, at least in part by drawing new players into the game. However, these rules aren't covered in WotC SRD, which is what has made so many retro-clones possible.

So, help me out. How do I clone the Fantasy Supplement in a respectful, non-litigious format?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

So, you want some monsters?

These are my new Monster Manuals. I'm not kidding. They are the most gorgeous, awe-inspiring works of monster art I've yet encountered.

Here are some images from Book 2:

They contain monsters from all over the world, some weirder than Hecuba, and some good 'ol Fantasy Gaming standards like bugbears, griffins, hydras, mermaids, basilisks, frost giants, kirin, weretigers, will-o'-the-wisps, minotaurs, succubi, vampires, werewolves, harpies, manticores, trolls, unicorns, gorgons, kappa, cockatrices and centaurs. And mongolian death-worms. And moth men. And reptoids. You get the idea.

Find them here: Beasts! (now in softcover!) and Beasts! Book 2

Sorry, oh my players, but the Long Tombs are going to be Terra Incognito indeed...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You are standing in a field...

Otherness: Session 12 was held this last Sunday at the Fantasy Flight Games Event Center, which is a really great place to game. The staff was friendly and accommodating, and someone actually took a picture of Will's whitebox and LBBs, along with my copies of Greyhawk and Gods, Demigods, & Heroes---they claimed their friends wouldn't believe that someone was still playing with these rules. :) Carl was, unfortunately, working there, but he was at least able to catch some of what was going on.

So, I had a last minute inspiration and started the group out "standing in a field, west of a white house." Those of you as old as me may well remember those opening lines to Zork, the venerable text adventure game from Infocom. I think Will was the only one who picked up on it right away, but it was worth it. I didn't stick slavishly to all the details, but the main stuff was in there (D&Dized, of course) as noted on the map above. Once they opened the trap door in the living room, it led, not into the Great Underground Empire, but instead the somewhat less-whimsical Long Tombs.

I created the map for the Long Tombs using this random dungeon generator. AFAIC, it's the best out there. And, we decided to give up on mapping, so I just plunked it down on the table, showed them where they were, and they chose where they wanted to go. I noticed no angst.

As for characters, Will played Aldmore, 3rd lvl MU; Susan played Sydney, 1st lvl Fighting Girl (or Battle Maiden, as we started referring to her); Jesse, returning to game with us again after an absence, played Treehorn the 1st lvl MU; Trevor played his 2nd lvl MU Narpet, as well as running Ashley's cast-off FG (whose name is currently escaping me), and Max played a 2nd lvl three-headed dog named, of course, Rex.

Some Highlights

  • The mailbox contained a mummified hand holding a piece of parchment that read, "Go not into the Long Tombs."
  • The characters found a brass lanthorn that, once polished, produced a warm, golden light that seemed to be the only thing that dispelled the oppressive darkness in the attic---all other light sources guttered out as the steps were mounted.
  • Trevor's FG was attacked by something in the darkness of the attic. A Grue? 
  • Sydney claimed a sword from the living room display case with old Elvish writing on the blade stating, Strike Once Slay Thrice.
  • In the Long Tombs, they ran into a hideous, giant, scarlet amoeba with three glaring eyes and a fanged sphinctermouth. This was rolled up using Geoffrey McKinney's excellent supplement Carcosa. I've been itching to use the random Spawn of Shub-Niggurath generator for some time now... Even at 7 HD, they managed to kill it AND take its eyeballs...
  • At the very end of our adventuring time, they ran into four dwarves, possibly another party of adventurers. Jesse decided to roll the Black Die of Fate (otherwise known as as 30-sided die given to me on my last birthday.) All were informed that a roll of one would be horrendous, and a roll of 30 would be wondrous. He rolled a 9, and another dwarf came around the corner, carrying a crossbow. He panicked at the sight of Rex, and fired. The bolt missed Rex; however, Treehorn was standing right behind him, and was hit for maximum damage (right between the eyes!), killing him instantly. Fate is indeed a fickle mistress...
  • Jesse has introduced four characters to Otherness in two sessions, and three of them have died. That's oldskool, baby!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Otherness: Session 12

Ladies and Gentlemen, we're back!

After several months without posting or playing, Otherness 12 will be happening this Sunday, June 27, from 10-2, at the (usefully local) Fantasy Flight Games Event Center

I'm not yet sure what Adventure will be had, but play we will. After a few past sessions of mucking about with rules, we're sticking with mildly house-ruled ODD. I'm actually working on assembling a single URTEXT of the three little brown books and some sections from Greyhawk (mostly monsters, treasure and magic.) I'm doing this using the handy, free, surprisingly formatting-friendly PDFtoWord service.

As always, this is a Free Campaign, which means anyone can show up and play at any time. If you live in the area, come on out and join us!

(we'll be the ones having the most fun...)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Boys and girls, here's your chance to own a piece of rpg history, and help out a good cause!

I've placed up for auction my copy of Bunnies & Burrows. All proceeds go to benefit the Gygax Family Memorial Fund, more of which can be read about here, and on the TARGA website.

Bid now: This is a 1st edition copy in close to pristine shape, including two, count 'em two copies of the two-sided goldenrod cardstock reference sheets. If you're curious, I have more images of the reference sheets, table of contents, etc. Just lemme know.

Why are you still here? Go bid!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I think I'm done with the big, sprawling accounts of play. I only end up delaying writing the posts until it's long past when we played. So, I'm now all about abridgment. I'm going to try smaller, more frequent posts.

In the spirit of abridgment, Otherness 11 was played with a rediscovered D&D simulacrum: Abridged Dungeons and Dragons. I have no idea how I first stumbled upon these rules, but I do remember that it was back maybe eight years ago when I was first getting interested in the White Box. I was cleaning out my games and there it was, so, since I hadn't had time to flesh out Level 2 of GRISTLEHELM, it seemed like a good session to try something different.

I have to say, it actually worked pretty well. It was low seriousness, with a Wizard (named Anton the Gloomy, Friend of Bats), one Hero (Melvin's twin brother), a dwarf, two elves, a goblin and...wait for it...a Ghoul named Ghoulio. Yes.

I took them through a dungeon I made a few years ago, The Lost Tomb of Frater Perduabo, Mad Alcymyst. No characters died, and I didn't really notice any imbalance from the elves being able to turn invisible or the Wizard having access to a big list of spells, including an innate ability to throw a fireball.

It'd need some tweaking for the long haul, but what game worth playing doesn't, right?

In case you're wondering, Ghoulio was discovered locked in a room full of mutated bats. On the fly (and this is what's so great about the oldskool mindset), I decided that since ghouls can't parlyze elves and so probably don't even LIKE to eat dead elves, there wasn't really any animosity between the two. I had a momentary vision of the King of Ghouls and the Burning Year having a diplomatic meeting in an overgrown graveyard lost in the forest. And really, Ghoulio was played (by Shelly, new gamer to our group) more like a Lovecraft ghoul, meeping and creeping, complete with very ghoulish finger-twitching...

Oh, in case you're wondering, it was Will's bday last week, and the cake arrived mid-session courtesy of his wife, Susan (playing Carol the Elf...) And it was tasty.

Happy Birthday, Will!