Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Welcome to the Deathtrap Year 2 in Review

 Two years of W2tDT already?! Wow, the time has really flown! I am still enjoying this passion project of mine.

Big Projects

The Cyclopedia

I built a database of helpful OSR rules I call the Deathtrap Rules Cyclopedia that is updated very sporadically.

Crawling the Purple Isles

In the autumn of 2021, I started a project inspired by Tale of the Manticore: I am running a solo game of BECMI D&D with a few mods from The Dozen Dooms set in The Islands of the Purple-Haunted Putrescence. I've been blogging lurid, pulpy fiction based on it on another blog. I call it Crawling the Purple Isles.

This is a series that is definitely not safe for work. However, I use it to share tips and observations on solo gaming, campaign design, and DMing as I go.

Campaign Worlds

I have built three campaign worlds with detailed primer documents and discussed them as part of a series on world-building 

The Aldrune setting is designed for Medieval Romance and is set by default to use Castles & Crusades, although any AD&D or expanded OD&D system will work with practically no conversion.  I may yet try transitioning to Lion & Dragon one I finally get my hands on its corebook.

The setting is has incredibly detailed religions and pantheons in order to create a world and captures the transition between Paganism and Christianity in Europe and the transition between the middle ages and the early modern period at the same time. I use it for my home game.

Xen is more of a surreal sword and sorcery setting with a lot of Science Fiction accents. I am currently running two parallel campaigns in it using strict time tracking and I'm considering trying to run using actual one-to-one time. I'm also currently recruiting for a third campaign run in parallel to the other two. Xen draws heavily on Barsoom, the Dying Earth and Final Fantasy.

Xen uses a lightly tweaked version of Swords & Wizardry, with elements from my Oversix System. It is focused on diagetical ("rulings over rules") play over heavy use of dice.

The Golden Heresy is a setting I started as a doodle here on the blog. It is a sword-and-planet setting where a legion of plane-hopping spies break into fantasy worlds and destroy the barriers of reality so that their master and his legions can invade with heavily-armed starcraft and slay the local gods to free the people from the lies of false deities. It is a setting built with hopping multiple worlds in mind.

Also designed with Swords & Wizardry in mind, The Golden Heresy draws heavily on D&D3.5e psionics, Planescape, and Gamma World.


I have moved away from pamphlet adventures to longer format adventures.

In the Summer, I released Maze of the Screaming Heads: a metaphor for RPG Twitter, the PCs must navigate a maze of samey chambers where it is easy to get lost while insane undead heads shout, scream, and rave at each other, threatening to drive the characters violently insane. Escape requires facing a blob if toxic sludge, sifting truth from fiction in the heads' ravings, or making a deal with a demon price.

More recently, I participated in the OSR Supplement Jam on Itch.io, where I released The Queen of Decay for Low Fantasy Gaming using the custom ruleset for Stephen Smith's World of Wierth setting. Based on a discussion of the bizarre cover for The Princess Bride by Ted CoConis, it is a psychedelic adventure across a hallucinogenic swamp to save a princess for she is driven insane by a Necromancer that is forcing her to read the dreams of undead cultists.


I also have just released a sourcebook entitled Strange Ways, which offers six OSR character classes that use magic in radically different ways than standard Vancian magic, complete with easily hacked-in rulesets for each.

Three of these classes appeared here on W2tDT, another appears in The Golden Heresy, and another was designed for Crawling the Purple Isles. A final one has only been previously shared with the Low Fantasy Gaming community.

In each case the class has been edited, refined, updated to reflect play testing, and made compatible with a generic OSR game. All the details are here 

I am really proud of this creation, and I hope to make sourcebooks that look just as good, if not better in the future. I am currently teaching myself how to make printable PDFs in Scribus that will hopefully make that much easier.

Role-Playing Games

I also have produced One tiny game, and have too much larger games in production. 

The completed one is a game I call Square Dungeon. It is a simple system I designed for my son when he was 4 years old. I have played hundreds of hours with it. His design to be a kid friendly, diceless system. And while it drew some of its inspiration from a video game, it Bears almost no resemblance to the original Source material.

The point is to have a game that is easily run from memory, takes only a page to write, and even a preschooler can master. I used it on long road trips and long walks to and from school to help my son explore ideas.

I also am working on a pair of games based on an game engine I have developed called Over 6. I intend to release an open version of the engine once I have at least one of the games released.

The first game I have created using the system is my own fantasy heartbreaker Deathtrap Lite, that is perfectly compatible with any osr module, even though actual play uses radically different mechanics. It sits on the crunchier side of the spectrum. But the rules are very specifically designed to be modular and easily ripped out of my system and dropped into another osr game. Part of my hope is that it will be used as a toolkit for hacking D&D as much as it is played on its own.

The second is Midnight Zone, a cyberpunk noir game that has far less osr compatibility set at the bottom of the Southern ocean, where player characters are operatives in one of a handful of town-sized under sea colonies.

Midnight Zone is designed to emphasize clever, non-violent problem solving in a high-tech, surveillance heavy setting.

Both projects have been a bit stymied in development lately. I've had a lot of other demands on my time. However, I should have a full rule book for Deathtrap Lite in a month or two. Midnight Zone will follow shortly.


It has been my pleasure to do a lot of reviews of series this year. I have reviewed the first eight issues of Yum DM's free OSR zine D12 Monthly.

And it has been my immense pleasure to review Axian Spice's incredible Lands of Legend series.

I have also reviewed an incredible range of role-playing games, from the cheerful Ryuutama to the midnight-black Shadow of the Demon Lord.

My most read reviews this year were:

And I've had a lot of great responses to my  personal top 10 favorite OSR games and top 10 non-OSR indie games.


My articles this year have included series on open game engines you can use for your own games, (like Mark of the Odd, Knave, and Powered by the Apocalypse), and on a related topic of World-building, and playing adventure games with kids.

If there was a theme to my other articles, it was of trying to explain that there isn't just one TTRPG hobby, and different games and table cultures come from many different hobbies that use TTRPGs as a vessel for that hobby, but with very different goals 

None of my Top 10 of this year hasn't had the insane circulation of "Critters are the future of D&D" (3700 views and counting), but I have had a few very popular tools and theoretical articles.

Director's Cut

If there was anything I wished had gotten more attention this year,  is t was my piece on the Core Social Competencies of the GM, as I think I am on to something there, but I need Dialogue to figure out what.

I also wish that I could have spread the love for The Ultraviolet Grasslands and the Black City a little farther 

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