Friday, October 28, 2022

What's in a Label?

 This is yet another essay brought about by Twitter exchanges. There has been a lot of young new-school players lately taking shots at the idea that D&D is a war game or was ever such a thing.

And, of course, there are plenty of people willing to argue the other side as well, because on many levels D&D in particular continues to hold a lot of war game elements to it.

Personally, I find the whole debate, (if you can call it that as it is typical Twitter shouting,) misses a critical point. Which is that the map is not the territory. Genre labels are not solid objective measures of anything.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Silver Gull Campaign Update: Dungeons & Dentistry

 It's been a while since I have done an update on the Silver Gull campaign, but it is still going strong at 34 sessions since late January.

September 12th

After my players made a deal with a blue dragon to defend the Town of Orhan for a usurious fee, they decided to bail before the townsfolk really understood the deal. They took off in the Silver Gull and headed West towards the town where the campaign had begun.

While in the air, the players got to know the new crew members that their henchmen and hired. Among them was Linna, a new player character. Linna is a bard. I adapted the class at the players request from the Old School Essentials Advanced Fantasy version. Liina was intended to be a replacement for Reine who has gone into semi-retirement as she's maxed her level.

During their flight, the airship was attacked by a group of harpies who threatened to lure crewman off of the ship to plummet to their dooms unless they were paid a sum of 3,000 gold pieces.

With a new mid-level bard in the party, the harpies' song was easy to overcome. They even managed to charm one and get it to land of the deck after they killed a couple of the harpies and forced the others to land due to damage from their artillery... A fire breathing Zardoz head mounted on the bow of the ship.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Sourcebook Review: Trade Winds: An Items and Services Compendium

Trade Winds: An Items & Services 
. Art by David L. McLees;
©️2021 Faulty-Wire Games
: David L. McLees
Publisher: Faulty-Wire
System: Low Fantasy Gaming
Marketplace: DriveThruRPG

Trade Winds: An Items and Services Compendium is a source book for Low Fantasy Gaming written by David L. McLees It takes the concept of variable values for objects and expands on it to make those variable item values make some level of sense.

Trade Winds starts this by breaking down the currency in Low Fantasy Gaming into a more traditional set of coinages. Instead of the very basic copper, silver, gold, and platinum, we have copper pence, silver shillings, larger silver florins, gold crowns, and larger gold pounds

Objects are valued at a number of dice in particular currency.  For example, a battle axe might cost 4d8 florins. An object exceptional quality might add to dice, while one of poor quality subtract one or two dice. Exotic materials add a number of dice to the appropriate currency when used to make the object. Of you exceptional materials or enchantments increase the kind of currency expended, so a mythril  or adamantine dagger would be upgraded from 2d10 shillings to 2d10 florins.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Sourcebook Review: The Low Fantasy Gaming Companion

Cover to the Low Fantast Gaming
Companion; Art by Andreas Rocha
©️ 2019 Pickpocket Press
: Stephen J. Grodzicki
System: Low Fantasy Gaming
Marketplace: DrivethruRPG

The Low Fantasy Gaming Companion is a source book for Low Fantasy Gaming. It is designed to be played with a baseline of the game, and doesn't include much in the way of new options for the expanded classes from the Deluxe Edition like a monk or artificer. It does, however, include references and material from The Midlands Campaign Setting. Although, it does so in a way that is not intrusive and easy to work around. The Companion is designed to offer a range of optional rules for tweaking your campaign, and additional rules to keep the campaign moving after characters have reached high level.

The first section of the book is a huge menu of downtime activities. It includes rules for making magic items, brewing potions, running a business, purchasing items on the black market, carousing, doing research, making and working contacts, hiring henchmen and hirelings, training to gain levels, learning new languages, gambling, or practicing a trade. It also has rules for making new enemies, and tracking the activities of enemies the PCS have made.

Monday, October 10, 2022

What's in a System ?

 Last week the inimitable Travis Miller published an article called What Is A Tabletop RPG System? In it, he tries to define what is a role-playing system. It's the beginning of a longer theoretical investigation, It  really got me thinking.

I was hoping, as good communicators do, to rephrase it to see if I understand it, and then build on it.

So, the core idea that started Travis rolling was the tendency of role-playing hobbyists to call the rule sets that they tend to use "systems." But, if you consider what a system is, the game rules alone simply don't fit the definition. After all, the rule set is only an engine under which a lot of other things that go into the game runs on. And, if you consider how things are played in the Free Kriegspiel Revolution, then the rules may be almost unnecessary to role play.

The Impact of Setting Facts on Play

In the FKR, they say that you play the world, not the system. Whenever possible, players or the referee or both consider what makes logical sense given the fact established in play or the development sessions that built the world in the first place.

If, for example, you've established that the elves draw heavily on the darker aspect of Celtic lore as I have done in Xen, they will require blessed weapons, black Iron weapons, or possibly magic to kill them. In any other scenario, an elf might be overpowered and captured by a significantly more powerful opponent, but can only be completely removed from the story through a very narrow scope of means. That means when an elf meets a knight on the battlefield, or a giant, the results need to be interpreted in that context, never mind the rules. In an FKR game, it would probably be established at the knight would die a valiant death trying to take on an Elven swordsman, while the elf might end up trussed up for a century of torment before breaking free from a Giant's captivity unless rescued later.

Those facts are every bit as important to the game as how an attack roll is resolved. They are just as much a part of the system.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Game Review: EZD6

Cover, EZD6
Author: Scotty "DM Scotty" Mc Farland

Publisher: RUNEHAMMER Games

System: D6 variable target system

Marketplace: DrivethruRPG

EZD6 is a rules like role-playing game by YouTube's DM Scotty, and released through room Hankerin Ferinale's RUNEHAMMER imprint.

It is a straightforward fantasy / sword & sorcery dungeon crawler in the vein of Dungeons & Dragons. it definitely has strong OSR aesthetics, but is exceptionally rules light. I would say that is only slightly crunchier than Tiny Dungeon 2e.

The System 

Uncertain tasks are resolved by a d6 roll against a variable Target number by the "Rabble Rouser" (GM) between the two and six. Rolls of one always fail, sixes always succeed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Trying to Set Up Lulu Versions of my Books

 So, I got distracted this weekend setting up my books to meet Lulu"s print standards.

This is no mean task. I write my PDFs in Google Docs and do at least the minimum of layout as I work so that things fit in the spread. I suspect by Google Docs standards, I am doing élite Lev work.

But there is the rub... It is still Google Docs, which creates flawed .PDFs at the best of times. It downgrades image resolution, and is fiddly between devices.

At the end of the day, I am going to have to learn Scribus, I suspect. But I have ordered copies of Strange Ways and Deathtrap Lite to see if I can get an acceptable quality as is from Google Docs 

I will let you all know how that turned out.

It does mean that if you have either of those books, an u

pdated version is now available for you on DrivethruRPG or

In the meantime, I have started my third attempt at teaching myself Sctibus, in hopes of doing three or four pages a day as I go.

So far, just recreating the cover and inner cover rules summary has been a hassle. If anyone can point me to good Scribus resources, please do!