Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sliding back into things...

When any of the many bloggerkin I follow go more than their usual period without a post, I start to worry. So if any of you were wondering where old Rich has been for the last couple of weeks, the answer is, "I have been distracted, but little more." I am lucky my slow blogging has not been because of some of the job, family, or health issues that others in this OSR-blogosphere have had the misfortune to endure. Quite simply, my in-laws were moving, their closing on the new house got delayed, and I had them as unexpected house guests for a couple of weeks. Lump that in with what is traditionally my busiest work time of the year, and this blog's "darkness" over the last couple of weeks is easy to understand.

Other project updates and new content posts will kick back up in earnest in the next couple of days.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Appreciating How Good the OSR Has It

So I've been thinking about some things.

First, the term "Renaissance" is based on the French word for "rebirth." And from my P.O.V., there's no question that what we've been experiencing is a rebirth in the roots of the hobby. And I'm not just talking about going back to the original rules. I'm talking about going back to the original spirit.

Never before have so many people had at their disposal the tools to take their own ideas and bring them to the "global gaming table." No longer are our ideas (and their "by-products") limited to the local copy shop or our local gaming groups.

I know this has been the case for a while, but it's time we just took a step back and reflected on this for a moment.

The fact that we connect on a daily basis and share ideas with folks around the globe (like David Macauley in Tasmania, Catacomb Librarian in Italy, and Brendan in the UK) never ceases to amaze me, especially considering that 30 years ago, I hardly knew any gamers beyond the handful of people in my high school gaming group. Even the game I originally wrote in 1985 has landed on gaming tables in Brazil. (BTW, you'll have to hit the "translate" button on your browser to read the page at that link, unless you speak Portuguese.) Which brings me to my next point...

We also all have the ability to publish on a level heretofore reserved for those with pocketbooks as deep as their interests in gaming. I was lucky; in the early 80s, my dad had a "word processor" and a copier, and I was able to put together the first version of The System (something I'm still considering releasing in its original "low-tech" all-copy form, rather than the retro-inspired modern version I published). And in 1984, I had a friend with an early generation Mac. Sure, technology progressed pretty quickly past that, but there was a time not so long ago when RPGs were being shared through ASCII text files. But consider this... what would Christopher Brandon or John Stater have done 30 years ago? Possibly the same thing that Tim Shorts or Dylan Hartwell are choosing to do now. But the latter two are choosing to publish in the more "hand-made" formats. Regardless, from PDF to POD, there is just so much wonderful out there!!!

I really just wanted us all to take a moment before the first dice roll for this weekend's games... and give ourselves a moment to appreciate the age in which we live, the virtual connections it's allowed us to make, and the access its given us to the wonderful creativity of this fellowship of role-playing.

My personal thanks to all who follow this blog, as well as to all those whose blogs I follow!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Free "Adventure": The Lost Caverns of Azgot

First off, the reason I put the word "Adventure" in quotes, it's because it's not so much an adventure as it is a locale - a fully-described locale, but generally "empty" in regards to monster and treasure. This was an intended support piece for Valley of the Five Fires, and I still like the story it sets up, but it never really came together as an adventure. I think it's got a pretty cool backstory, but anything I would have stocked it with wouldn't really have fit well in the context of the module, so I dropped it.

Unlike the freebies I usually put up on the Free Downloads page, this one is available from RPGNow, since the last page is a pretty blatant promotion for the complete Valley of the Five Fires module (available in print from, and available in PDF from RPGNow).
BTW, the 5th page is not previewed below, but is pretty much the same as this.

Click here to go to the RPGNow page for
Old School Adventures™ Mini-Module VA1a:
The Lost Caverns of Azgot

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Really Old Old-School Artist: Harry Clarke

In pulling together today's images from illustrator Harry Clarke, I thought to myself, "Damn! I never realized how much Russ Nicholson's work reminded me of Harry Clarke's." And well it ought to. Nicholson remarked in a 2009 interview at Sci-Fi-O-Rama, " gods were such as Aubrey Beardsley, Harry Clarke, Edmund Dulac and Sydney Sime." Yup. I can TOTALLY see that. I think that's one of the reason I dig Nicholson's work so much.

I've featured Dulac here before, though the pieces I showcased were limited. I've never showcased Beardsley here, though I've mentioned his name several times, and his Merlin illustration graces the title page of the d30 DM Companion. Syndey Sime is someone I've been considering showcasing here, particularly his work for The Gods Of Pegana by Lord Dunsany's, with whom Sime had a long-standing partnership. But I digress.

Like a lot of the illustrators I've mentioned here before are from the "golden age of illustration" (approximately 1880-1920), Clarke was influenced by Art Nouveau. His father was a craftsman, and at that time, his profession was experiencing a rebirth with the Arts & Crafts movement (a reaction to the "cheap and nasty" mass produced goods of the Industrial Revolution), leading into Art Nouveau. That actually puts Harry Clarke a slight generation behind Aubrey Beardsley; Beardsley's influence on Clarke is obvious; but then, Beardsley was one of those guys that influenced a generation of folks. But again, I digress.

These first four are taken from the 1923 edition of Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

The one below left is from The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault,
and the one on the right is from Years at the Spring.

These final two are taken from an edition of Goethe's Faust.

Now, partially because you'll see the influence,
but mostly because I love his work, go check out Russ Nicholson's blog.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

d30 Sandbox Intro Finally Done!

Let me just say, I don't remember the last time I worked on something that required so much work and produced so few pages. But, especially thanks to Welbo, the introduction for the d30 Sandbox Companion is done!!! Really, I cannot impress upon you the amount of work the two of us put into crafting the pages you see below. We wrote, re-wrote, and re-wrote some more. We wanted to put as much information as possible, but at the same time, only that information which was truly necessary. It also meant tweaking pagination, as well as individual items (e.g., we made some updates to the Hex Crawl Worksheet to make it more scale-neutral, and the NPC Record Sheet to make it more system-neutral).

If all goes well, we'll finish up the individual page headers over the next week or so, then start to put the final polish on (e.g., there's a couple of illustrations I have left to complete).

It's so close to being done, I can taste it!
(Want to know what it tastes like? Then, click here to see what the tavern is serving.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013


With the code FALLSALE40

This offer is valid until the end of day, November 4th.
I believe it's "one use only," but I have not been able to confirm.

Might I suggest the following...

Old School Adventures™ Accessory AX1:
d30 DM Companion
(Print Edition)

Normally $8.95 - with 40% discount $5.37!!! -
- BUY IT NOW >>>

The d30 DM Companion is an indispensable OSR aid for any DM that wants to keep on top of his game and ahead of his players. Whether stocking a dungeon, looking to breathe new life into a campaign, or just struggling to keep up with players, this compilation of d30-based mechanics, charts, and tables will support and simplify the role of the DM/GM at the tabletop. Inside these 30-something pages you’ll find a host of d30-based resources for quickly creating characters and stocking dungeons.

While the majority of the charts and tables in the book are generic to dungeon settings, monster descriptions feature details for 1e and BX comparable games, including AD&D, BX D&D, Swords & Wizardry, OSRIC, and Labyrinth Lord.

Old School Adventures™ Module VA1:
Valley of the Five Fires
(Print Edition)

Normally $11.99 -
with 40% discount $7.19!!! (56 pp.) - BUY IT NOW >>>

This mongol-inspired module is designed for use with 0e/1e/BX and compatible retro-clones in a single edition. It supports sandbox style play but includes several traditionally detailed adventures. Includes: a history of the Lands of the Five Fires; an area map; hordes/tribes information; new steppe shaman character class; details on armor and weapons common to the area; 10-detailed NPCs & stats for 24 others; maps and details for the 2 major settlements; 4 new monsters & overviews for 29 others (+ a 1-page "monster index" with stats for the DM); wandering monsters by terrain; Quest of the Luuzhin Coins (including adventure seeds, maps and detailed encounters for 9 major locations in the quest); over 30 adventure seeds for other adventures in the area; 4 new artifacts/magic items; information to aid the DM in creating encounters throughout the Lands of the Five Fires, including nomad camps and religious sites (stupas and ovoos)... and more!

Old School Adventures™ Module TM1:
The Ogress of Anubis
(Print Edition)

Normally $5.99 - with 40% discount $3.59!!! - BUY IT NOW >>>

An old school RPG module for character levels 1-3; for use with 0e/1e/BX and compatible retro-clones.

Recently, children from the villages around the Temple of Ptah in the Lower Plains have begun to disappear. Rumors abound that the high priestess Azeneth is sacrificing them and cannibalizing them because she believes this will make her wealthier, more powerful, and more divine. The people of the villages have begun to refer to Azeneth as the “ogress of Anubis,”—believing it was Anubis himself that made this woman mad, and commanded her to consume the children she sacrifices. Someone must end this reign of fear and terror, and try to return the children alive—if it is in the will of the gods.