Monday, March 27, 2023

Review of dB/dX

Title: dB/dX
Author: C P1R8
Year: 2023
Pages: 31
Rating: ★★★★★

I'm stuck, I don't know how to review dB/dX. It has no art. It claims to be a derivative of many B/X games but isn't. I don't know anything about the author except for the website Save vs Ennui and a thread on Reddit. It's version 1.0 and not all of it has been playtested. 

So... anything I've claimed to enjoy in the past does not exist in this product. Normally, that would not bode well for a review, but by evading my normal likes it has a very charming and engaging feel. I've flipped through the book page by page and realized it does have everything I like. 

This title is meant for web access and in being set up for that, it is excellent and makes a lie of my assertion that there is no art. Nowadays, we get glitzy full-color, glossy coffee table books as basic gaming material. This ain't it. The layout is sparse and elegant in a way only a web product can do. This is artful in its choice of fonts, symbols, layout, white space, and careful use of color. 

Bonus art stars, all around. 

I've already said the title is brilliant in a post and a comment to the author. I love the play on dx/dy, "the derivative of y was taken with respect to x". Here are the nuts and bolts of everything in dB/dX. Each and every section mirrors a great number of OSR products, except virtual every rule and mechanic has been reworked for the sake of brevity and simplicity. It creates this itchy feeling in my brain, where I feel like some sort of new idea has been unlocked and processed. 

It reminds me of one of my favorite OSR booklets, The Moldy Unicorn

I took a couple of hours to play around with this ruleset and it only increased my wonder at this elegant little book. 

There are no classes or races, just levels with one major twist. Characters have a background profession, something left over from their life before adventuring. The book lists a whopping 216 backgrounds, which impressed the hell out of me as I wrote a whole book on this one subject in twice as many pages with one-quarter of the professions.  

I have to be honest, I really dug into the character creation and combat mechanics over all other things. Since the whole system is classless and raceless, having good character-building and combat systems is necessary. While I know the author meant to omit demi-humans, nothing bad happens if you use them. You can have knights, peasants, dwarves, elves, or whatever you like. You'll only break a few things here and there but that can be patched over with any number of other rulesets. This happens a fair bit with OSR products, it's almost a design feature rather than a bug. 

One of the great features of this set is the imposition of morale on the PCs. It really changes the game dynamics. You exit combat rather quickly, so players had better be on their toes. 

I had a lot of fun with just the character and combat sections, but reading through the rest of the book just reinforces the author's original idea. This set can be a mini-hex crawl as much as a dungeon delve. Nearly every section of the old Basic-Expert set appears with a simplifying twist.

I really loved having this ruleset bust my rating system. In case the HTML broke, I give this five of 5 gold stars, a rating level reserved for just a handful of wonderful books. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Where Did I Go?

It's been a hectic month. My wife is traveling for her job, which makes me a single dad again for a bit. Somehow, it is already spring

and the outside desperately needs work. There will be a garden this year. 

I'm throwing out some goals for the next 50-90 days: 

  • Review of dB/dX (Done!)
  • Review X-Wing game
  • Review Classic Battletech  
  • Review Battletech: Alpha Strike
  • Complete artwork for POP-001
  • Review Kingpin Comics
  • Review Cosmic Comics
  • Review Pulp 716 Comics
Many game shops in my area are also comic book stores, hence the reviews. I will probably throw the local places into their own tab at the top of the site.  

Over the last 2-3 years, I've tried some other social media outlets and rapidly discovered that I don't have time for all of them. I'd like to save some of the content generated from them and pull it back here. What that means to you is, you'll see more garden, craft, and cooking posts. I have already exited Minds, Twitter, and Facebook and I am working on exiting Locals. I am still pulling good content from there. 

Once this step is complete, you'll only see me here, on Ko-Fi,, and MeWe. I have recently entered the world of Discord, so once I get the hang of it, you find me there, too. 

In July, I will post about various outlets for content. To that end, I might re-start sharing web and sales stats under The Tek tab. 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Blarg! The Information Please!

Historically speaking, books contain a lot of "non-content information". An example is the author's name, publication date, writing date if necessary, various titles, the publication city, page numbers, and hopefully a DOI or digital object identifier. 

Of late, many books and publications are missing these pieces of data. Typically they fall into two distinct classes: The author/publisher doesn't know better or the author does not ascribe to copyright in principle. The first is just a lack of knowledge, so considered yourself on notice to make this information available in your productions. 

The second is more complex because of an earnest desire to not participate in a convention that is traditional but not obligatory. My suggestion is to do it anyway, convictions be damn. Even if you make stuff up. 

Why? Because what if "Anonymous" pens a document that becomes a significant point of data in history. This means it is the primary point of data in a stream of data. It would become difficult to ascribe it to a title or location in the stream making events prone to confusion. 

Right now, I am looking at dB/dX for an upcoming review. The book is very nice but lacks a real name, and has a nom de plume which is easily confused with a DOI and lacks a date, publication city, etc. 

When citing or referencing such a work, I end up with this: 

C P1R8. (2023). dB/dX v1.0, 1-31,

If my citation looks like that, one has to wonder if I had a stroke. God damn, be kind to reviews and historians and put your name on your work, even if you make something up. 

Homosapien, Funky. (1999). dB/dX v1.0, Save vs Ennui, 1-31,

Anyway, I spoiled the surprise with annoyance. My next review will be of dB/dX v1.0. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

POP-001: Making a List and Checking It Ten Frickin' Times

I don't see why AI art is all the rage, but
boy do like it for blog posts.  

Revenants of the Lost Temple will be heavily themed, similar to but different than X-1 Isle of Dread. The climate is humid, very much like Veracruz, Mexico. It's not a primeval jungle, but a staged area. Populated regions run the risk of desertification. Abandon areas show their scars for decades and true wilderness is a riot of greenery. 

This creates an interesting scenario where getting lost on a road or trail is difficult, but leaving the beaten path can quickly shift the travelers into survivors. The Temple was lost due to a combination of environment, climate, and happenstance. Once abandoned, it was swallowed. Hundreds of years later and it is difficult to see the difference between abandoned and true wilderness. 

This flavors the sort of monsters the characters will encounter. Anything intelligent would have the ability to find the Temple. The Found Temple of the Revenants doesn't really ring. So much for my default idea of having the Kobold Tribe of Minwan wandering the area.  

I went through the monster's list from Old School Essentials and made a few choices based on the region and the challenges I wanted. I supplemented this list with animals native to Mexico. I suppressed everything I currently know about The Lost Temple and selected what seemed correct to the theme. 

Wilderness Monsters

  1. Bat, Giant 
  2. Bat, Normal
  3. Boar
  4. Cat, Ocolot
  5. Centipede, Giant
  6. Dryad
  7. Frog, Giant
  8. Green Slime
  9. Grey Ooze
  10. Harpy Eagle
  11. Horse, Wild
  12. Insect Swarm
  13. Jaguarundi
  14. Jaguar
  15. Living Statue, Stone
  16. Llama
  17. Mule
  18. Nixie
  19. Pegasus
  20. Rat, Giant
  21. Snake, Python
  22. Spider, Giant Tarantella
  23. Spider, Normal Tarantella
  24. Spider Monkey

I have a list of 24 critters. It's a bad wandering monster list because it includes a bunch of things that don't or shouldn't wander and more than a few would end in a total party kill. Many of these creatures should be static, events-type encounters. 

My favorite from the list is the normal bats. I've never killed a party with normal bats, nor would I suggest it. They are a perfect thematic encounter for setting the mood. Bats are nocturnal. Once a day the players should see them leave to hunt then hours later return to their caves, fat and satiated. It's not an encounter, it's a themed clock. 

The horses, mules, and llamas are more theming, they are lost, too. No one will die from these encounters but the sense of loss is reinforced by them. The pegasus and the unicorn give a sense of being out of one's normal place, a juxtaposition of the idea of being lost. 

The normal tarantellas, rats, ocelots, jaguarundis, and insect swarms are a part of the background environment, the living jungle. 

I'll have a whole post about the Living Statues, there is no intention of making the characters fight them. 

This leaves only 14 monsters on the wandering table and I think I will peel away 4 more to make the list 10 long. I think 10 monsters is perfect for a wandering monster list. At this link, I used 10 monsters for a whole campaign setting and I stole the idea from 3 Toadstool Blog over here

The goal of this product is to populate the Peninsula of Plenty with exciting, living places. In order to match X-1's page count, I need 15 more pages. Over on Ko-Fi, you can see more about this module. 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Shhhh.... A tiny hint of stuff to come (Update)

Welcome back. 

This could be a great thing... or all the sugar rockin' through my system. Anyway, it's the reason for the countdown timer to the right 


As you can see, this is a module for 4 to 8 characters. I accidentally covered up the "Levels 1-3" statement with the background color. Not counting retainers.