Showing posts with label DriveThru RPG. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DriveThru RPG. Show all posts

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Update for Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners!

Send out the criers and the messengers. Have the herald hoist the flag. Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners has been updated with several new classes, some campaign notes from history, and many rewritten sections for clarity.

Ever wonder what the difference was between a papermaker and a parchminer? How about a leather worker, a lorimer and a tanner? What is ostracon? What is the difference between amate and papyrus? All updated to answer your questions.

I was thinking of holding off on this until November, but had the chance to get things done this week.

Everyone who purchased the old product can download the new product from their Library on DriveThruRPG.

If you haven't looked at Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, let me tell you what it is and is not. In B/X and AD&D, characters were permitted professional skills to supplement their backgrounds, with nary a word on what those skills would be or how they would work. After decades of play and having my players want to have useful and memorable NPCs or codified professional skills, I wrote a set of rules to outline many common professions in historical times.

This expands in the information from D&D and AD&D, in a way that is very different than "skills" or "feats". Each commoner class member can advance up to 5 levels, from apprentice to master with hard work. Level determines the ease of success when operating as a professional class. Each class has distinct tools and skills, and where crossover exists, I have explained how these characters would work, while leaving the rules open to interpretation so they can fit into any D&D or AD&D campaign. 

There is commentary on economies, hiring, firing and all other aspects of gaining skilled tradesmen. Make no mistake, these are not alternate adventurer classes, they supplement the player characters, not replace them. It is not a sieve or character filter. In fact, this rule set can rescue hopeless characters and save you time at character generation.

It also answers some age old dilemmas about who can do what and why.

Price at PWYW, this rule set can enhance your campaign. Go ahead, give it a try.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Fighter, Cleric, Monk, Swashbuckler

I wrote up a character class for D&D and AD&D for Swashbucklers. What the heck is a Swashbuckler?

They are fighting men who have come down from on high to lead the masses of little people in the trenches. They are trained in sword fighting. Swashbucklers name their swords, their daggers and their junk. They like to drink and have high society type parties, even if they are not of that social standing. They might have tattoos of Payton the Runner, Pele the Asskicker, or other famous fighters on their person. They can dance around in combat, picking and poking people left and right, without killing anything. They can't be flanked or backstabbed when dancing about like this, nor can magic users concentrate when in close quarters with them.

In fact, the only way they can kill is by rolling a natural 20, monologuing for bit and if the person doesn't run away or surrender during "The Talk", they will stab them through the heart for double damage. On the off-chance they are forced to use lethal combat, they fight like thieves and clerics, without the backstabbing, heavy armor and magic.

So how does that compare to Clerics, Fighters, and Monks? Let's join the conversation, shall we?

Fighter: All that junk you do?
Swashbuckler: Yeah, pretty great uh?
Fighter: No, it's called sparring.
Swashbuckler: Really? That sounds like fighting words.
Fighter: No. Fighting words are said at the funeral. Better if they can't talk back.
Cleric: Both of you need to come to church.
Swashbuckler: Alleluia, brother!
Cleric: I'm a woman and I follow Kos. So, no on both accounts.
Fighter: Have you ever been on campaign?
Swashbuckler: I think so, was there booze?
Fighter: No, only watery ale and roasted smeerp. The ones with the 9 tentacles, not the ones with funny ears.
Swashbuckler: Sounds dreadful.
Fighter: Have you ever eaten iron rations?
Monk: Yes. I eat food, I just don't enjoy it.
Swashbuckler: So, brutha, what do you think of my moves? Pretty great, right?
Monk: It's all kabuki.
Fighter and cleric: Snort.
Monk: See this thumb? This one, not the other one.
Swashbuckler: Yeah?
Monk: This one goes in your eye and the other goes in your bum. Then I kill you.
Swashbuckler: How uncivilized.
Cleric: It's all relative.
Swashbuckler: You get it sister, we don't draw blood until we have to.
Cleric: Have you ever seen a flail?
Fighter and Monk: Snort.
Swashbuckler: I think the important thing is, we are all different and have our places in the world.
Fighter, Monk and Cleric: Chuckle.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Miniature Treasures - The Moldy Unicorn

Title: The Moldy Unicorn
Code: N/A
Author: Nate Treme
Rule Set: Angostic
Year: 2019
Pages: 6
Number of characters: As needed
Levels: N/A
Rating: ★★★★★

If a book has a good cover, I'll probably take a look. If it has that haute 70's look, the smash of day old banana and lime colored paste, I'll do a double take. If it has both of the above, plus the childish, rounded look of a composition notebook, my brain shuts down and the money comes out, no questions asked.

Well, that's what happened with The Moldy Unicorn a few days ago. I purchased one of a few physical copies based on a single image on MeWe.com. And then I forgot about it.

It arrived today.

I opened the envelope and was all disappointed. It was tiny. Really tiny. "I paid money for this?"

Then I opened the booklet. And the frisson hit. Suddenly, I was 8 year old me, standing in Walden Books, smelling nasty carpet chemicals and mall pretzels, looking a copy of the Red Basic D&D rule book. Gary, Dave and Tom whispered, "Go ahead, turn the page."

The thing is six g-ddamn pages, packed with amazing stuff. Pages 1 and 2 describe The Moldy Unicorn with a colorful map. Page 3 lists encounters for the Inn. The next page describes how to design a Demon, with 3 tables, conveniently labeled 1-12 for easy die rolling. The last two pages are a mini dungeon, Grotburk Crypt.

The artwork is excellent. It isn't excellent in the sense of a masterpiece, but the odd, brightly colored outsider art that masters cannot duplicate. The text is tight, it has to be in a volume this small.

While its only 6 pages (8 if you count the covers, the thing that made me **WANT** this 'zine), those pages are highly concentrated. Being so tiny, it is delicate. I already know that I am going to buy a special picture frame for this. I am just moments away from heading to DriveThruRPG and purchasing an electronic copy, to jealously protect the physical copy like mage protects his spell book.

It's been decades since I have been this happy with a purchase. Of course, I've read it cover to cover. But I'm going to do it again tomorrow. And the next day. This is great buy. This is well worth the $6.00 for the physical copy, $5.00 for the PDF.

To put some perspective on the Star Rating above, I review a lot of things. Computer hardware and software, novels, games, historical books, etc. If I'm not going to give something 3 stars, I'm not giving any stars. If you're not going to give at least 3 stars, its like trash talking people. This is the first time I have been compelled to give 5 gold stars, underlined. I've reviewed several of my mom and dad's books. I don't hand out gold stars. It is very rare that I am so enchanted with any product to completely rethink my rating system.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

New Product Launch - Swashbuckler Character Class for D&D and AD&D

I rarely create new character classes for my campaigns, but I felt I needed a different sort of character for seaborne adventures. The Swashbuckler character class was born.

This pamphlet was intended to add flavor to any campaign without creating overpowering skills or mechanics. Very often, new classes are game breaking and I have sought to avoid this.

Initially, the plan was to create one section for Basic D&D and another for AD&D. Since the Swashbuckler does not require extraordinary abilities, nor to they have level dependent skills, I was able to combine the two.

It had occurred to me to give the Swashbuckler some of the skills of thieves, paladins, monks and acrobats but these characters are not the type to engage in professional level skills. They are more charismatic enablers, they don’t develop useful professional skills, they capitalize on other people’s skills.

I would encourage DMs and players to play towards the humorous aspects of Errol Flynn shenanigans. Many times, this style of play revolves around the needed belief in success rather than the actual outcome. Swashbuckling success features going to Plan B, then C and D and so on.

This product contains two files, the character class description suitable for D&D and AD&D, plus a set of 6 pre-generated characters. This product would work well with both my AD&D Character Sheet and the book Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. 

Click here to purchase from DriveThruRPG, for a suggested price of $0.99 or PWYW.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Kobold Warren Folly

Update - This post has been expanded into a short book with 4 maps on DriveThruRPG. It's priced at PWYW, with a suggested price of $1.99.  

Like the Compass Rose Inn Mini-Setting, this set of maps and descriptions are rule set agnostic. 

And now on to the original post from my birthday, Jan. 17th, 2016. 

This map is of a folly in the southwest of Potamus Bay. Who built the folly is lost to time. There is a larger ruin closer to the Lake, but it isn't as well preserved or interesting as the folly.

The tale of the folly's preservation is very odd and owes its history to the river. The river is subject seasonal flooding and one of those floods brought the kobold's to the folly.

The kobold's had their own underground village, which made them very happy. They stole the best food, killed the prettiest animals and had wild political intrigues that often ended in bloodshed. One day, the ruling clan pushed the wrong buttons and were tossed in prison to await their doom, as soon as the method could be decided.

A chance rainstorm freed the rulers, but washed them deep into the cave system. The village rejoiced at the apparent deaths. They were very kobolds happy, indeed. The ruling clan was washed away into the cavern system under the folly. They were able to squeeze and claw their way into the basement of the structure. The family rejoiced when they discovered the ring of pear and apple trees, the fresh water and rabbits.

There are no furnishing, no details inside the Folly.
The kobolds keep the interior bare.
The ring of trees continues, but is obscured by the
upper two levels. 

Over the years, they have set themselves up a kings and queens of the folly. They do not understand the principle of a folly, they believe that human or elven kings hold court in an empty building. The six rulers have set themselves up as the High, Middle and Low Kings and Queens. They receive guests through the windows, as there are no doors except trapdoors between the levels. They keep the folly up, but they do not live in it. They live below in finely finished chambers. Recently, they have hung curtains in all of the windows of the folly, purple, yellow and red. 


The family plans on enlarging the chambers, but for now they are satisfied.


The lowest level is almost all natural, only the eastern side has any finished features. The western side is often flooded with fresh water and sometimes contains fish.

Folly Details:
One Square equals 5 feet.
Height: 45 feet.
Depth: 75 feet below ground, as near as anyone can tell.
Population: 17 adults, 33 children.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Unreview - The Gardens of Ynn

When I found this title, I fell in love with the concept of a procedurally produced adventure. I meant to write a review of The Gardens, but I never could capture the core idea. What struck me most was the author's (Emmy Allen) desire to break out of her writer's block. Wow. That was an amazing idea and the end result is spectacular.

Anyway, I have collected up 3 reviews of The Gardens of Ynn and added a bit of commentary on each review.

The Gauntlet Blog, called the book "evocative" and praises the use of all five senses in the area descriptions. The Gauntlet takes the point of view of White Hack players, which is a step removed from typical D&D. This perspective enhances the review as it leaves the typical D&D archetypes out. While I don't play White Hack,  Fraser Simons' review of The Gardens makes me wonder if I should.

Bryce over at Ten Foot Pole, stress the Gothic Horror aspect while digging right into the mechanics of how to use this setting. Bryce is right that this is a setting book as opposed to an adventure, which something that the reader could over look, something that Emmy Allen took a moment to confirm in Ten Foot Pole's comment section.

d4caltrops calls The Garden "elegant". d4 praises the binary aspect of "go deeper/go back" to control where the adventurers go in The Garden. Even better, he suggests easy ways to use this book as a means of transport for your characters. Talk about taking a great idea and making it better.

I was surprised to see that no one commented on the artwork of this piece, which I totally enjoyed. Its Gothic simplicity is wonderful. I love this style of art.

You can pick up The Gardens at DriveThruRPG for just a couple of bucks. You can also go an add the three blogs above for free. Why not do both?

Monday, May 27, 2019

Character Buffs - Zero to Hero

D&D and AD&D had a system of allowing characters to be buffed by adding some sort of skill to one of the regular classes via professional skills. Noticeably short on details, it encouraged DMs and players to think outside of the box. AD&D had the ranger and monk classes which featured two hit dice at first level while clerics were buffed with not just first level spells, but bonus spells based on Wisdom scores.

With the release of Unearthed Arcane, players received a model for having a character start below 1st level in the form of the cavaliers. Magic users received cantrips which hinted at powers before first level. Weapon mastery made fighting classes much stronger while pushing other classes into the non-combat skills.

Obviously, the cavalier and thief acrobat were nods to the cartoon. Clearly TSR wanted to change and update their product long before 2.0.

At the time, 2.0 wasn't available to me and by the time it was, I was already so invested in AD&D and Basically, I was unwilling to change. I had a large group of players, between 5 to 12 players per session, a few of them running 2 character at the same time.

What made this possible was an embryonic idea to codify low-level, non-combat oriented characters. While much of this was roleplay for my players, a bit of it dove into the skills possessed by these secondary characters.

Fast forward 33 years to 2018. That stack of notes, rules of thumb and memories of the fun were transformed into an actual pamphlet so that others could implement these types of secondary characters into their campaigns. Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners was born.

It started with a list of 50 professions from the middle ages. In January, the list increased by 9. The professions are broken into 3 groups: Sedentary, Active and Laboring which determines their hit points. The characters are average people, so they have ability scores generated by average dice, numbers 2-5 weight towards 3 and 4 or collectively as 9 to 12. Combat skills were limited to using the tools of the trade. Each new "class" has its own abilities, which are flexible and sometimes overlapping. The classes feature their own levels, from 1-5.

These rules were meant to flesh out NPC classes and include a table of modifiers for hiring them. But I also wanted to include rules from converting a non-player character to one the main classes in D&D and AD&D.

Once a professional becomes a fully fleshed out player character, I needed to include rules for the tools of the trade. Can a mason turned magic user use a hammer? Sure, why not. Within limits. Stats for mauls, hammers, woodworking axes, zaxes and various other implements were created. These improvised or unusual weapons were define in such a way so as to delineate them from traditional weapons of war. In the right hands, they are powerful tools, in the wrong hands they are poor cousins of their martial variants.

Due to the use of average dice for these characters, a path to "rescuing" a hopeless character was created. All of these rules were designed with the existing D&D and AD&D classes in mind. While not entirely balanced, because the regular classes are not balanced, they are not overpowering. The intent was to flesh out bit part NPC and color player characters with a background.

I hope you will take the time to read Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners and incorporate it into your game. I also have a character sheet for use with characters designed with Unearthed Arcana. Both are available at DriveThruRPG at a suggest price of $0.99 or PWYW.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Gotta love a sale! Rules Cyclopedia on DriveThru

Rules Cyclopedia is on sale at DriveThruRPG. This game was published back in 1991, long after I had abandoned my Basic D&D campaign. This set of rules brought me back to Basic.

Being a player from way back, perhaps 1977 or so, the concept of "edition" was not real clear. I had started with D&D and moved on to AD&D as it seemed like the expected direction. Transitioning from D&D to AD&D seemed expected, but felt unnatural. When second Edition appeared, I had little concept of what it was. It didn't feel like AD&D that I knew, so I did my best to ignore it.

I had difficulties ignoring 2.0 as Unearthed Arcana seemed to be the first indication that a new edition was coming. Back in the 1990s, it was possible to see all of the various sets, in pieces, on a store shelf and it was very unclear as to what was happening.

My campaign had evolved from D&D to AD&D without regard to the change in setting. Our band of adventurers absorbed new materials and tossed others aside. While I said I was playing in Greyhawk, our shared world was a mishmash of Blackmoor, Greyhawk, Mystara and Hollow World, with Mystara taking the lead place.

When I found Cyclopedia on the shelves of my local Waldenbooks, I was entranced. It expanded on classes and levels while adding a few new spells and most importantly, weapon mastery and character skills. It was exactly what I was looking for. Gone was the one paragraph explanation of skills.

I immediately incorporated it into my hodgepodge campaign with only a few tweaks to make it fit the AD&D rule set. All abilities were generated as per the AD&D methods while character classes of race could either be played as described in AD&D or per Cyclopedia's rules.

Technically, that combo of classes and races vs classes should have been very broken, but as players, we made it work. The RC Druid was a subclass of Druid from AD&D, Mystics became a subclass of Monk. The Racial Classes became the "default class" of those races, as if someone didn't pick a specific class to play.

And we loved it.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Title: Crash on Volturnus
Code: SF-0
Author: Mark Acres, Tom Moldvay with Doug Niles
Rule Set: Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn
Year: 1982
Pages: 30
Number of characters: 4-8
Levels: 1
Rating: ★★★★★

Crash on Volturnus is one of my favorite modules. The player start of as passengers on the Sierra Dawn, where they first encounter trouble en route to Volturnus. After an epic battle and escape, players move on to phase two, an incredible hex crawl on the planet of Volturnus culminating in a final(?) battle with the pirate forces on the planet. Aided by the local inhabitants of the planet, surely the players will win the day.

This module was released with the Alpha Dawn rules set and to my knowledge, was not released independently of that set. I received my set of Alpha Dawn rules peice meal and ended up with two copies of the module. The whole boxed set includes giant maps and wonderful counters, which makes SF-0 a snap to play.

Crash on Volturnus is the first module in the series and was followed up by SF-1 and SF-2. The other SF series modules are unrelated, but are valuable as they are set up for characters to continue their adventures in new settings. The series was also brought back to life by the Endless Quest book Villains of Volturnus in 1983. It was published in relatively short time frame making the series rock solid in game play and feel.

Having played SF-0 several times, there are few game breakers built in to the scenario. First, when the escape pod crashes, the characters only have time to get the survival packs. Several of my players started out with standard equipment packs and used the coveralls as a makeshift backpack tied across their chests before seating themselves. Since the equipment was attached to them, I couldn't justify taking it. The players also started with 4 medical kits, which made them neigh unstoppable in combat. They kept pulling back to heal. Of course, these were the same players who tied their equipment to their chests. I kept running them against random encounters to try to eat up resources, but that was unfulfilling. Eventually, I figured I'd let them run in god-mode and kill everything and everyone. Many of the challenges they faced were thinking scenarios and not fighting scenarios, so it really didn't change the outcome. 

All and all, I found this one module to be the best of the best for Star Frontiers. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

The whole shebang is available over on DriveThruRPG.

Alpha Dawn with SF-0
SF-1 Volturnus, Planet of Mystery
and SF-2 Starspawn of Volturnus

Monday, November 12, 2018

Taking Stock Part 2

Having established myself on MeWe.com and Pluspora.com, I started to clean my desk to get ready for more work. The first thing that stood out were all the books I download and printed from DriveThruRPG. I had purchased a number of ring binders and neatly hole punched them and added them to my shelf.

You can see the problem, I am sure.

What is in each binder? Might as roll 1d100 to see what I get when I grab one. I decided to print labels for them using Google Docs. Well, there is a horizontal but no vertical ruler.

Annoying.

In an effort to fix this, I made a template with an image of a ruler on each axis of the page. I trimmed the image down to read from 1/4 of an inch to 10 1/2 inches. On the other one, I ended at 8 1/4. It roughly takes into account a quarter inch margin all around and a 48 pt font.

It worked nicely and now I know what books I have.

You can download the template on Drive.

Speaking of books on DriveThruRPG, you could download my book: Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. It's pay-what-you-want and compatible with many OSR D&D type games. It contains over 50 commoner character classes, rules for using the commoner class as a professional skill for PCs and many other game ideas.

While you are there, why don't you leave a review. Feedback is always appreciated.



Saturday, September 1, 2018

What now?

Last week, I launched Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. Everything looks great! I have been very happy with

So, what's next? The Place We Will Stay. This will be a series of maps, places where commoners will be found. I've been roughing out some maps, exterior and interior art for many medieval and fantasy homes for our heroes to find NPCs, commoners and other background characters.


The Places We Will Stay will be in digital format, pay what you want and be between 25-50 pages. Coming soon in early October, 2018.

Again, thank you to everyone who took the time to download Zero to Hero.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners - Update - We are live!

Update we are live!

I've been a gamer since the Fall of '77. Rules sets change, but I keep coming back to D&D. It was my first experience as role play and it made huge impression on me.

In the past 4 decades, I have come to a realization that players don't need much NPC help. I still always include a NPC as a guide, or an extra information resource but when I ask my players who the best NPC was, they always point to the character I thought was a background character. The cook who spotted the enemy approaching, the herald who cracks meta humor, the stableboy who worships them. Never the ranger I put there to absorb arrows and tie up combatants.

Well, in light of that revelation, I started making 3x5 cards of every NPC. Except, they really didn't fit as a classic NPC character. No stats, no spells, no combat abilities. When my players demanded that these folks support them in the field, I started making up stats for NPCs, willy-nilly.

Not uber stats, just average guys and gals who came along for the ride. Tiny details for people who gossip about the characters as they make their way. I decided that maybe some of these people were not NPCs at all but fully blown characters in their own right but with decidedly different points of view from the PCs. I decided that these types of characters were commoners. Not lords, not adventures, but just citizens.

One of my favorite characters was a scullion named Delia. She was taken by a first level fighter who frequented the local inn and slowly made a move on him. While everyone else understood that she had eyes for the fighter, he didn't get "it". However, if there was danger, he was the first to ask about her. If he had a need for something, she was always there. So obviously, she was important. After 3 years, the campaign ended in a wedding.

But there was no "scullion" class of character. How to represent her caused me to sketch out some guidelines for all of my commoners so they could fit the character mold.

I would like to share that guide with you. I am launching "Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners" on DriveThruRPG.

The pamphlet is 24 pages, lists over 50 professions, how to evolve a zero level commoner into a full blown PC, how commoners interact with those above them, etc.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.






Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Book Review - A Brief Study of TSR Book Design

Title: A Brief Study of TSR Book Design
Code: N/A
Author: Kevin Crawford
Rule Set: D&D
Year: 2015
Pages: 26
Number of characters: N/A
Levels: N/A
Rating: ★★★★★

A Brief Study of TSR Book Design is one of those excellent finds for any game master or would be B/X author. In just 26 pages, Mr. Crawford covers the design element of decades of publications for Dungeons and Dragons books. He covers the ins and outs of fonts, margins and styles used in games from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Get your game on!

Mr. Crawford also gives sage advice on direct copying of styles for a variety of reasons such as technological updates, copyright issues and creativity. This is a surprising and useful find for the would be module author and at its price of free is unbeatable. Easily a five star rating.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Dramascape at Drivethru RPG

Dramascape is a group of arts and writers producing high quality maps and adventures for use with a variety of gaming systems. Dramascape's most recent offering is Fantasy 6 x 6 Tiles available at Drivethru RPG for the unheard of price of whatever you want. The suggested price is $1.99, which is a great deal on a quality set of tiles.

You can use the pay what you want model to give it a product a try and purchase it later. One of the advantages of using DriveThru RPG is their automatic system to deliver a product as a gift.


After going to checkout, all you need to do is enter your payment information and add the recipient's email address and DriveThru takes care of the rest. What a great way to share the gift of game.