Monthly Archives: January 2016

This is one of those times when I feel it’s very important to use the SPOD to get the word out about something important to all of us.

Dungeons & Dragons is all about creativity. For more than 40 years, the folks who spent the bulk of their time creating amazing adventures, those noble Dungeon Masters, did not have a convenient outlet to share them with the gamers who weren’t sitting at their table. You either had to raise money to publish a physical book or zine on your own, or convince a publisher you had the chops.

Now, the Dungeon Master’s Guild puts the power to share that creativity firmly in the hands of the DM.

The Dungeon Masters Guild is a collaboration between Dungeons & Dragons and our friends at DriveThruRPG, and it is designed to support and reward you – whether you’re an experienced DM or just starting out. Today, you can upload your creations to the DMs Guild website, as well as browse submissions from some of gaming’s most esteemed designers.

Read more of the news at my friends’ site – Flames Rising – or click to logo to go straight to the Guild page.

“OK, so let’s try a new game this weekend. I’m going to run…”

“New character time! So, um… she’s going to be like… er… well, maybe I could try a character like… oh, crap, I dunno!”

We’ve all been there, probably more than once. Just not sure what the nature of our character is going to be. Sure, we can knock out our stats and special abilities and gear in no time, but – who is this person? What’s her story? What are her quirks? What am I going to do to make her distinct and interesting?

As with so many other elements of gaming, Ennead Games has you covered with scads of useful details and inspiration.

In 2012, the original Backgrounds and Details Kit from Ennead Games was released. Now, several years later, it has been remade, with more options and the original set of details expanded on and improved. Combining this publication with content from others that have been made over the years and new features added the BDK 2 was made. Designed for both players who want to flesh out their character and GMs that wish to make an NPC that little bit more believable.

This publication is divided into multiple parts; quick, detailed and life events.

The quick section is for when you want just the basics. It covers the characters age range, their gender, species, profession and personality – Make an NPC with only a few rolls.

Detailed is when you want more details for your characters or NPCs or to help flesh out an existing characters background. You may need a flaw, a secret or just can’t decide what colour the characters hair is. You probably won’t be using all these details on one character at once. This section gives you hair style, skin, friends & family, fears/phobias, motivations and much more.

Life events cover major events in the characters life, from birth, through adulthood and method of death, if needed.

When using theses tables, especially the detailed background ones, you may get what appears to be conflicting results. But don’t despair or re-roll these results as some of the most interesting characters can come from what appears to be conflicting information.

Inside you find tables for…

  • Character hometown details
  • Eyes details and other facial features
  • Parents details
  • Phobias and how character reacts to their phobia
  • Professions
  • Skin type/condition
  • Species
  • Typical clothing
  • Voice style and type

and many more!

Last week, I Picked the core Eclipse Phase book, as it was on sale and it’s an important part of the posthumanism genre of gaming.

And now, there’s a fantastic collection of fiction from the same folks. To get a feel for the genre in general, and for their setting in particular, I invite you take a journey to a possible – and dangerous, thrilling – future.

In a world of transhuman survival and horror, technology allows the re-shaping of bodies and minds, but also creates opportunities for oppression and puts the capability for mass destruction in the hands of everyone. Other threats lurk in the devastated habitats of the Fall, dangers both familiar and alien.

After the Fall is the first anthology from Posthuman Studios, set in the world of Eclipse Phase, their award-winning roleplaying game. The anthology will be a mix of old and new fiction, including stories by Eclipse Phase favorites—Nathaniel Dean, Jack Graham, Steve Mohan, and Rob Boyle and Davidson Cole. New fiction will feature science fiction rising stars Ken Liu, Madeline Ashby, Fran Wilde, Karin Lowachee, Wesley Schneider, and Andrew Penn Romine.

Straight from the DriveThruRPG folks –

New Year, New Game – the date may have passed, but the games are here!

d20 Future Bundle – Save 60%! – The future is what you make of it. With access to space travel, cybernetics, mutations, mecha, and more in d20 Future, heroes may battle across alien worlds, survive on postapocalyptic Earth, voyage to distant galaxies, and explore alternate dimensions.

Demon: the Descent Bundle – Save 62%! – They are under the everyday world, behind it, beyond it. They are sent by the God-Machine to enact its will through time and space, delivering messages, building infrastructure, protecting some people, killing others. You were one of those angels…

Mutant Year Zero Bundle – Save 61%! – The cities are wastelands, winds sweeping along streets turned graveyards. But among the ruins, the People live. You are the heir of humanity – but not quite human anymore. Your body and mind are capable of superhuman feats. You are mutant.

Shadow of the Demon Lord Bundle – Save 62%! – In the desperation of the last days, the world must take what saviors it can: heroes, blackguards, madmen, whoever is willing to stand against the coming darkness. Will you fight the demons, or will you burn it all down and dance among the ashes?

Conspiracy X 2.0 Bundle – Save 62%! – Conspiracy X takes place in a world of dark secrets and hidden agendas, where the only certainty is nothing is what it seems. The president might not be human… and the madman on the corner ranting about CIA mind control satellites may very well be right.

Dying Earth Bundle – Save 61%! – The sun is now a swollen maroon orb. It stutters and blinks. At any moment it may go out. Dig anywhere and find a buried city or the shore of a vanished sea. Deodand-haunted woods stretch from decadent Kaiin to the Land of the Falling Wall.

Want even more savings? Nearly 1,000 more core books, all on sale for 25% off! Click here!

Seriously, friends, these are some amazing deals. Do not miss out!

If your soul is stirred by the concept of using beautiful and effective language in writing, I’ve discovered a gift just for you. I’ve also discovered quite possibly one of the most original ideas I’ve ever encountered for a game – a solo-player game, at that! To get an understanding of just what it is – and what it can produce as a result of playing – check out this review.

It’s Pay What You Want, so you really have very little to lose. Just remember, as with all PWYW products, you should feel free to “buy it again” in order to support the creator if you discover it’s worth more than what you paid the first time.

To whom it may concern,

Quill is a solo roleplaying game with a twist. Instead of hacking goblins and looting caves, you are writing letters. Rather than having attributes like strength or dexterity, characters in Quill use Penmanship, Language and Heart. 

In a game of Quill you will write real letters, with the aim to craft the best, most beautiful missive possible in order to get a favourable response. You will use words from the Ink Pot to inspire your letter – but be warned, should you roll badly you could end up writing a bad letter. 

If you’re looking to kill some time, Quill is a perfect roleplaying distraction and something completely different from anything else out there. 

Due to the lovely response to the game online, Quill is now a living document. New scenarios will be added on a fairly regular basis.

Wow. Seriously, wow – this one takes me back. The “Against the Slave Lords” series was one of the truly great adventure series, and for me personally, it had greater meaning as it really refocused players away from dungeon looting and directed them towards acting like heroic adventurers, trying to do some real good in the world. Let’s face it – slavers make the best foes (like Nazis and ninjas…).

Interestingly, the product came out in a revised form during the D&D Next playtest period, which makes it pretty compatible with 5th Edition with just a little bit of effort on the DM’s part.

Against the Slave Lords is a collection of four classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure modules that form a series — A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity, A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade, A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords, and A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords — complete with original black-and-white interior art.

Added to the collection is an all-new fifth adventure — A0: Danger at Darkshelf Quarry — that you can use to kick off an AD&D campaign that pits a group of adventurers against the evil Slave Lords! Module A0, designed for levels 1-3, sets the stage for events that unfold throughout the remainder of the “A” series.

A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity: It is time to put a stop to the marauders! For years the coastal towns have been burned and looted by the forces of evil. You and your fellow adventurers have been recruited to root out and destroy the source of these raids—as hundreds of good men and women have been taken by the slavers and have never been seen or heard from again!

A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade: The battle against the slavers continues! You and your fellow adventurers have defeated the slavers of Highport, but you have learned of the existence of another slaver stronghold, and you have decided to continue the attack. But beware! Only the most fearless of adventurers could challenge the slavers on their own ground, and live to tell of it!

A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords: Into the Drachengrab Mountains! Hot on the trail of the marauding slavers, you and your fellow adventurers plunge deep into hostile Hills. Spurred on by your past success, you now seek the heart of the slaver conspiracy. But hurry! You must move quickly before the slavers recover from your previous forays and attack!

A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords: Trapped in the dungeons of the Slave Lords! The hardy adventurers must find a way out, with only their wits and courage to help them. But can they do it before everything is destroyed by the dreaded Earth Dragon?”

The book can also be run using the new D&D Next (or fifth edition) play-test rules, by encorporating the bestiary pdf in the June 7th, 2013 D&D Next Play-test document available from the Wizards of the Coast Website.

Product History

A0-4: Against the Slave Lords (2013), by David Cook, Harold Johnson, Tom Moldvay, Allen Hammack, Lawrence Schick, and Skip Williams, is a premium reprint of the A1-4 adventure series for AD&D 1e. It was published in June 2013. [click for more info]

Check out the faux plastic wrap for the cover!

If you’ve had any wondering about Eclipse Phase – arguably one of the leading posthumanism games in the gaming marketplace – now is a really good time to grab the core book. For the rest of January, it’s on sale from $19.99 to just $9.99.

The PDF file equivalent to the fourth printing of Eclipse Phase is available for download, complete with a fully-hyperlinked index!

Your mind is software. Program it.
Your body is a shell. Change it.
Death is a disease. Cure it.
Extinction is approaching. Fight it.

Eclipse Phase is a post-apocalyptic game of conspiracy and horror. Humanity is enhanced and improved, but also battered and bitterly divided. Technology allows the re-shaping of bodies and minds, but also creates opportunities for oppression and puts the capability for mass destruction in the hands of everyone. And other threats lurk in the devastated habitats of the Fall, dangers both familiar and alien. In this harsh setting, the players participate in a cross-faction conspiracy called Firewall that seeks to protect transhumanity from threats both internal and external. Along the way, they may find themselves hunting for prized technology in a gutted habitat falling from orbit, risking the hellish landscapes of a ruined earth, or following the trail of a terrorist through militarized stations and isolationist habitats. Players may even find themselves stepping through a Pandora Gate, a wormhole to distant stars and the alien secrets beyond.

ECLIPSE PHASE: THE SYSTEM

  • Eclipse Phase uses a d100/percentile system, with some twists. It’s fast and simple; streamlined so players can dive into the world and action without being burdened by complex rules.
  • Characters are skill-based, with no classes, so players can customize their team roles and specialize in fields of their choosing.
  • A focused set of psi rules enables some characters to enhance their cognitive abilities.

ECLIPSE PHASE: FOR PLAYERS

  • Play a role in a secretive and dangerous conspiracy that seeks to save transhumanity.
  • Switch your body at will, from genetically modified transhumans to synthetic robotic shells, optimizing your character for specific missions.
  • Back up your character’s mind and be restored from backup in case of death–a built-in system of “Save points” and functional immortality.

ECLIPSE PHASE: FOR GAMEMASTERS

  • A setting custom-built for numerous scenario types, from faction-based intrigues to high-tech dungeon-crawls, from mind-scarring mysteries to dangerous exploration of alien worlds via wormhole gates.
  • An eclectic assortment of intriguing factions, from techno-anarchists to future-chasing hypercorps, from soul-trading criminals to uplifted animals.
  • A range of NPC antagonists to choose from, including rogue AIs, extreme posthuman factions, standoffish aliens with their own agenda and transhumans infected and transformed by the virulent Exsurgent virus.

ECLIPSE PHASE: CREATIVE COMMONS

  • Eclipse Phase is available under the Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
  • This gives fans the ability to create and share free Eclipse Phase material. Whether it’s homebrew adventures or hacks and remixes of the Eclipse Phase rules–go for it!

ECLIPSE PHASE: AWARDS

  • Origins Award for Best RPG of the Year in 2010
  • ENnie Awards: Gold for Best Writing, Silver for Best Cover, and Silver for Best Product in 2010

I’ve played this game, and while it has some interesting, mechanically-fiddly things going on that aren’t my normal cup of tea (remember, I am a Savage Worlds kind of guy, so more complex rules sets aren’t my usual first choice), I readily see how the setting and experience is compelling. The game-setting has a legion of fans, in great part due to being something both unique and effective in a hobby where it pays to stand apart from the crowd.

HC SVNT DRACONES: Core Extended brings your HSD game up to the next level. Contained within this book are over two dozen new playable character options, new surgeries, new focus abilities and implants, additional playable races beyond Vectors, and lore detail to help players and Guides alike get a better grip on their world. All these features can slot into existing HSD games to provide greater depth and variety to your gameplay.

Core:Extended is an expansion to the HC SVNT DRACONES role playing game, and as such you will require the core rulebook to play. Rules included in C:E can be applied to existing campaigns immediately with no need to make new characters (though with all the new options, you may want to just to be someone new!) C:E also includes the C:E combat addendum, which changes the way combat works in HSD. 

It’s my birthday, running out the door, but this is a no-brainer Pick to be sure – pretty much vital for anyone wishing to maximize their enjoyment of Mage 20th.

Mage: The Ascension’s flexible and ambitious Sphere system has provided many questions and debates for over 20 years. Here, now, in this book, we answer the eternal question How Do You DO That? with hundreds of reality-altering feats – puppetry and possession, elemental command, martial arts prowess, illusions, and far, far more – all presented in simple, casual, and quite often profane English.  

For Metaphysical Mastery

Unlike any previous Mage sourcebook, How Do You DO That? strips away the series’ trademark ambiguities and deals straight-up with the raw rule systems behind Mage’s magick rules. Dividing a multitude of uncanny feats into 10 general categories, this book features rules for…

  • Conjuration & Transformation
  • Elemental Mastery
  • Energy Work
  • Enhanced Perceptions
  • Martial Arts
  • Mystic Travel
  • Necromancy
  • Summoning, Binding, Bargaining & Warding
  • Time Distortion & Travel
  • Uncanny Influence

Sphere magick will never be quite the same again…

And, as promised, today’s Bonus Pick, DramaScape’s hugely versatile downloadable figure-scale terrain maps. Usable for real tables and virtual ones, this set is under that amazing Pay What You Want scheme that let’s you grab the lot for what you feel it’s worth (and what you can afford).

Just a wine cellar? Sure. But I have heard the screams at night. There is more to that cellar than at first glance.”—The Butler

 Fantasy Tiles includes six unique modular 6” x 6“ tiles with two doors that can be used to make a small dungeon in fantasy games.

 Fantasy Tiles is intended for use in fantasy, horror, or medieval historical era games.

 Adventure hook for use with this map:

 What Lies Beneath: Attending a party at a rich noble’s mansion, the group enjoys a fully catered dinner, plenty of wine and ale, and entertainment. In a lull in the festivities or a trip to the bathroom, the butler tries to speak with one of the Player Characters in private. The butler wants them to investigate the wine cellar below. He says he hears screams at night when grabbing wine or ale from the cellar.  

It’s up to the Player Character to tell the group and investigate or ignore the butler’s request.

 As the party continues, more and more people start falling asleep as they consume more and more of the food and drink. Even the group starts to feel tired and sleepy. With each new slumbering guest, it becomes harder to slip away from the party.

 Eventually even the group succumbs to unconsciousness…