Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Roll Your Own

 With the OGL 1.1 leak, the non-apology from Wizards of the Coast, the surprisingly successful #DnDBegone campaign, the lies, and eventually  the sad walk-back on it all, there are suddenly a lot of people looking for a new system to play instead of Dungeons & Dragons 5e.

A lot of them are planning on going to Pathfinder 2e, , I can understand that. If nothing else, the ORC (Open RPG Creative) License has been a smart maneuver and made Pathfinder look pretty appealing.

But I think jumping from one crunchy fantasy TTRPG to another is a missed opportunity.

And, no... I am not about to tell you to try OSR games. (Though they are awesome...)

I'm going to tell you that you don't need to buy a new system. There is an even cooler option: make one that is tailored to your game world. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023


 I want to give a well-deserved signal boost to "Grim" Jim Desborough's latest project, PANZA.

Once the OGL 1.1 nonsense broke he sat down and spent two weeks rephrasing every section of the 5e SRD so that they were no longer copyrighted to WotC, and released them into the public domain.

That's right, the entirety of the 5th edition rules in a copy/pastable format. Free and remixable,


I am amazed at the sheer amount of work "Grim" Jim was willing to put into this project for a hobby that has not treated him well. Thanks Grim!

Giving Some Used Books Away

 I find myself at a point where I must downsize my life,. Since I started this blog I have amassed an amazing collection of indie and small press role-playing  games. They make for an exciting, vibrant shelf. I have tons of games on there I enjoy playing. 

But what of the big-budget, larger titles? I am not interested in playing them again, and many of them take up a lot of room. Those I am giving away.

If you live near the Durham Region of Ontario, and are willing to come out and get them, I would much rather see them go to a person who will love them as much as I do than donate them to a used goods store where they might just get tossed.

I am also willing to ship things if you are willing to cover the cost.

Below is the list of books available. If I have a maybe, I will mark that book with an hourglass (⏳). If it is spoken for, I will strike it. I'll organize them by game.

I will give priority to people who can swing by and pick up books over people who will need them mailed. Otherwise, it is first come, first served.


  • Monster Manual
  • Dungeon Master's Guide
  • Volo:s Guide to Monsters
  • Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes
  • Tales from the Yawning Portal
  • My PHB is also available, but it is in bad shape

Eberron (for D&D 3.5e)

  • Setting Book
  • Eyes of the Lich Queen
  • Dragonmarked
  • Magic of Eberron
  • Sharn, City of Towers
  • Five Nations
  • Player's Guide to Eberron
  • Explorer's Handbook
  • Faiths of Eberron
  • Races of Eberron

Pathfinder 2e:

  • Core Rulebook 

Pathfinder 1e:

  • Core Rulebook
  • Bestiary
  • Bestiary 2
  • Bestiary 3
  • Advanced Player's Guide


  • 5e Core Rulebook ⏳
  • Data Trails 5e⏳
  • Street Grimoire 5e⏳
  • Running Wild (4e)
  • Corporate Enclaves (4e)
  • Arsenal (4e)
  • California Free State (3e)

Eclipse Phase:

  • Eclipse Phase Core Rulebook
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Monday, January 23, 2023

Live Adventure Design

 The Lair of the Echthroi

Lair of the Echthroi Map, made with Dungeon Alchemist and Adobe Photoshop ©2023 Brian Rideout

Today, I am going to prepare my Swords & Wizardry adventure notes for my game tonight here on the 'blog just for fun. I will update the blog with every substantive change in information. I will be commenting on my decision choices as I go, as well. I will be watching Twitter if you have comments as I go

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

In Case You Missed It, volume 2

 In Case You Missed it is an irregular feature I intend to use to draw your attention to older OSR creations that, if you are a late-comer like me you may have missed  some pretty amazing content. Here's a couple more that I recently picked up that I wanted to share.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The Lo-fi Online Gaming Manifesto

The Lo-Fi Online Gaming Manifesto

"Lofi Girl" CC-BY-SA 2022 Firstman2507
How to play a TTRPG online game using only the technology that adds to your game.

The Disaster

Back in October of 2019, shortly before I started my blog, I ran a game of the 2017 edition of PARANOIA for friends online. I was hoping it would be the first of a series of events built around that game, and I really wanted to wow my players.

I planned on wowing my players. To that end I wrote secret journal entries for each player with their faction mission complete with graphics that would pop up.

I drew a map of the area I could slowly reveal using the fog of war using Roll20.

And then I spent nearly 5 hours sniffing, writing down, and programming in the various cards used in that edition of the game. Creating several unique card decks in roll20 is a nightmare at best.

The actual event was one of the worst sessions I've ever run.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Adventure Review: DNGN Weird Fantasy Megadungeon #1

Cover for DNGN Issue#1
Art by Chris Malec
© 2022 Vasili Kaliman and Singing Flame.
: Vasili Kaliman
Publisher: Singing Flame
System: Old-School Esssentials
Marketplace: Drive-thru RPG

When I saw DNGN released a few months ago, with its amazing art credits and cool concept, I decided that I wanted to grab it right away and give it a review. Once I started reading it, however, I decided that what I really wanted was to play it through as a solo play project.

DNGN is a very old-school megadungeon project. It is 10 floors with between six and twelve rooms each. The encounters are often strange and a little incongruous with each other at first. It feels like the old "funhouse" dungeons of early Dungeons & Dragons. As you delve deeper DNGN starts showing some interconnectedness: the weird encounters begin to make their own strange sense.

DNGN is intended to be a multi-issue affair, with each room adding an additional ten floors to an ever-deepening dungeon.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Open Culture OSR-ish Games

 I am not going to make too much comment on the folderol over OGL 1.1. I would rather develop a "wait and see"  approach. I've signed Grim Jim's petition on change.org, and opined a bit on Twitter.

Going forward, if OGL 1.1 is released, and looks like the io9 leaked document, I expect that some beloved OSR projects are simply going to be left as is, and no one will make further compatible material under their license, because their license requires inclusion of OGL 1.0a. Others will do a re-write to distance themselves a bit more from old D&D and put forward a new edition that is not under any version of the OGL, is released as a Creative Commons project, or with their own open license. After all, the OGL was always a voluntary inclusion.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Tool Review: Dungeon Alchemist

 Dungeon Alchemist by Briganti SV is a tool I have been watching since I first saw a Kickstarter for it a little over a year ago. It is a map drawing tool designed specifically for TTRPG mapping.

When I saw it was in early access on Steam, I put it on my wish list. My younger brother, Level 0 Luke, pulled through for me, and it is a lot of fun to use.

Here is a map I have designed with my son's as a larger-scale example of what can be done with it:

Much of this map is animated with sparkling water, crackling electricity, and turning water wheels when actively I. The program works a lot like Dungeon Scrawl: You choose an overall room style, such as castle, village, desert settlement, or ruin, and a terrain type. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Book Review: Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master

Author: Michael Shea ("Sly Flourish")
Publisher: Self-Published
System: Mostly System Neutral (w/ some focus on D&D5e)
Marketplace: Amazon, DrivethruRPG

 Here's a Confession for you: I have a hard time deciding how to best plan a session.

When I was in elementary and junior high I would occasionally draw a map and part-roll-, part-choose- a treasure hoard. I gave out more magic items than I should have, but they were usually the weirdest, most situationally useful, odd, or simply off-beat custom magic items I could choose. I ran a fusion of AD&D and BECMI D&D, with occasional forays into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Palladium Fantasy RPG.

In Highschool I ran mostly AD&D2e, RIFTS, and Shadowrun 2e. I did almost nothing for prep. I ran it off the cuff, and didn't sweat treasure. I just rolled on the treasure tables occasionally, but mostly ignored it.

When I was in University, I managed to create a more balanced approach of at least writing down the names of a few NPCs and the major points I wanted to handle. I prepped treasure that might tempt PCs in one hoard per session, and made sure the bad guys had some interesting loot. Of course, at that point I was running Shadowrun 3e most of the time, which, contrary to popular opinion, is a really easy game to run on the fly. And occasionally HōL, which is inimical to planning.

The Disease

But then, along came Dungeons & Dragons 3e... and the game was somehow a bit traumatic to me. D&D3e had a Challenge Rating System, and for some reason, I thought the idea was so cool (maybe because I had TPKed a few parties on too-hard encounters,  and made a few adventures that were way too easy early on) that it became my obsession in adventure design. I also had problems when my players fell way behind the power curve from lack of appropriate treasure. I spent a huge amount of time on the D&D forums trying to figure out how to make best use of CR and treasures by making sure I was keeping within the parameters of "game balance."

Whenever my players found treasure, I would grind the game to a halt as I rolled the treasure hoard during a break. I eventually resolved to pre-plan a lot more of the game to avoid that.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Silver Gull Campaign Update: "Fleshcrafting: Not Even Once!"


One of the things I love about my Xen campaign is that its history is so big and vague that I can put anything in  from the darker, stranger eras of the game, and as long as I bury them right, and give a context of which horrible age of the Empire's past it comes from, the players will find it all perfectly sensible.

For this round, I decided to use some bizarre monsters from the Creature Compendium by Richard J. LeBlanc. It worked wonders to freak my players out.