Thursday, November 27, 2014

RPGNow & DriveThruRPG

Secrets #1, Secrets #2, and The Basic Illusionist are live on RPG Now & DriveThruRPG as of yesterday. Have sold two copies of Secrets: Strange Races; one copy of Secrets: Omens & Artifacts; and 61 copies of That Basic Illusionist (it's free).
I'm happy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

King Cthulhu

I'm going to lay claim to the idea of King Cthulu, wherein Nimue, Morgan le Fey, and Mordred fight a desperate battle against the corrupt, demon-worshipping forces of King Arthur, who bears the loathsome sword Bruilacex.  :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Still here!

Just a short note to say I'm still here.

Somethings just take time. A year or two ago I finally put in the time and effort to make writing work more or less how I wanted it to. Since then, I've done the same with a few other hobbies. Each is starting to click in its own way. Now my job is to make them work together, and take care of some other business that's been sidelined for too long. It's not a fast process, but that's OK. I've gotten a lot more patient over the years.

I grew up outdoors, so I write more in the winter months, when it's dark. For now, I'm going out to enjoy the sun. I'll be back soon.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Strange Races update

I've finally managed to finish printing & assembling the last issues of Strange Races, aka Secrets #2. They'll be in the mail tomorrow. I'm very sorry for the delay.  :(

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Secrets is currently Sold Out!

Print copies of Secrets #1 & #2 are temporarily sold out.  I'll make more as soon as I can. Until then, I'm taking the paypal link down.  PDFs are still available!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

5e Leshii Race

A player in my brand-spanking new 5e campaign wanted to play a leshii. I also needed to fill up a half-page in Strange Races. So, here's the quick n' dirty Strange Races iteration of the 5e rules for the leshii race. I expect they'll be tweaked slightly as I become more practiced with creating and converting races, but I think it's workable now.

Update: This just got on En World's frontpage, so I'm putting some leshii info here rather than making you chase a link around. If you want more new player races, check out Strange Races: pdf available here, a print copy available on the sidebar. They're not 5e-mechanics, but I might do post conversions here on the blog later on.

The leshii are a race of humanoid nature spirits seemingly hewn from wood. Male leshii are six to seven feet tall, with nut-brown skin looped and whorled like the rings of a tree. They are lean and muscular, with rough, craggy features and a crown of branch-like horns. Leshii women are smaller, and their skin is pale and smooth, reminiscent of birch bark. They have long gold or ebony tresses and delicate features.

Leshii are, first and foremost, primal spirits of the forest and the hunt. Of the nonhuman races, they are the least human in manner, being guided solely by deep instinctual urges and their own whims. They only faintly understand the concepts of empathy, laws, and civilized society in general, and live solitary, nomadic lives avoiding other leshii when possible.

Leshii are curious and inquisitive, but well-tempered with a predator’s caution and cunning. They are patient and prefer contests of skill and wit to games of chance, and are adept at feigning weakness or passivity to lure an opponent in. They are territorial and protective of anything they consider theirs.

Adventuring leshii are rare but not unknown. Young leshii go abroad to find new forests or gain experience, while older leshii become bored, or simply never settle down. They seek out companions to protect and watch over, and live itinerant, mercenary lives for as long as it amuses them.

Leshii Racial Features
Abilities: +2 Constitution
Size: Medium
Darkvision: 60’
Woodlore: Proficient in the Nature skill
Unflagging: Leshii are less affected by exhaustion than other creatures, and have advantage on Constitution saves versus exhaustion.

Abilities: +1 Charisma
Silken Voice: Proficient in the Persuasion skill.
Cantrip: Friends

Abilities: +1 Strength
Durable: Advantage on saves versus Poison, and resistant to poison damage.
Hunter: Proficient in the Survival skill.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Secrets #2: Strange Races is here!!!

Q: What is Secrets #2: Strange Races?
A: Secrets is a fanzine for Swords & Wizardry and other OSR games. Strange Races is an issue dedicated to new (and slightly unusual) player races.

Q: What's in Strange Races?
A: No half-orcs, half-elves, or gnomes. They've been done. Strange Races has...

  • 25 new player races for S&W and similar games, including:
  • the avia, rulers of the Feathered Realm;
  • the khon, a pseudo-human race locked in a vicious evolutionary cycle;
  • the sekhm, a noble race of warrior-scholars;
  • the leshii, barbaric forest guardians;
  • expanded information on lesser-known OGC races like the dakon, mites, ubue, and valco;
  • S&W variants of the aasimar, teuflings, and clockwork characters;
  • and racial class information for each new race.
  • A Random Culture Generator, for your random culture needs;
  • Snippets of lore from the Feathered Realm setting;
  • An overview of the elves of the Shadowend.
Secrets is covered under the Open Game License, and 100% Open Game Content.

Prices n' Places

$1.99The pdf version of Secrets #2 is available at the d20PFSRD Store for $1.99

$4: The print version is available for $4 through the Paypal link in the sidebar, and each print zine includes one of ten different bonus content stickers. 

$6: Print + pdf. Order through the Paypal link to the right, and I'll email you the pdf ASAP and send you a print copy.

International orders are the same price (yes, really), but it's a little easier on me if you order the print + pdf, and then you can enjoy the pdf while waiting for the envelope (although it only took 3 days for it to get to Barcelona, which is pretty darned good - it took longer to get to some USA addresses.)

Greg Gorgonmilk snuck a micro-review of Strange Races into his OSR PDF Roundup post.  He calls the leshii and the clockworks "crazygood".

Monday, August 4, 2014

2 Quick Reviews

I bought a few items on RPG Now a week ago, and had ...mixed results. I don't normally do reviews, but felt I had to say something.  However, I'm going to quickly review all 6 items that I bought, rather than just the bad ones.

One Page Table Number Eight: Woodland Features and Hazards
One Page Table Number Eleven: Mountain and Hill Features and Hazards
PBE Games, written by Mark A. Thomas
Normally $1; bought for .75c apiece on sale.

These are pretty much WYSIWYG. Each  is a single table with 20 entries on a single page. The entries are system neutral, two or three sentences long, and describe a feature or hazard. They are varied and realistic, but not boring, and work well for someone needing to spice up a hexcrawl or overland journey.  I could see myself using them.

16 A grove of trees, all the same kind, breaks the usual forest mix. This place may hold special significance to local intelligent creatures, and its unique appearance makes it a useful landmark.

Layout is good. Not flashy, very functional. I wish the background were white instead of an off-white/light grey tone, for the sake of my printer ink, but they're still printable. At $1 I feel they're a little overpriced; .50c apiece would work for me, but at .75c I'm not disappointed in them.

Summary: 7/10 - Would buy again. Unlikely to buy more at current regular price; would consider buying more as needed at 25% off; will buy more at 50% regular price.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dalerain VIII: The Empty Queen

The Empty Queen, Crone Goddess, Lady of Despair
Power of the Dalerain
Major AoC: Curses, Despair, Disillusionment, Nightmares, Weakness
Minor AoC: Abandonment, Evil Witchs, Seduction, Summoning
Symbol: A gnarled staff, five withered fingers, a crow.
Allies: Malis, Tuar, Yilwyn
Enemies: Brigit, Catil
Avatar: Cleric 6 / Rogue 12 / Wizard 17
Kajalla appears as a wrinkled and decrepit old woman, though she can assume any shape or form that suits her purpose (any deity can do this, but Kajalla employs the skill more than most). Her clothing is worn and stained, her accoutrements scratched and dirty, and her manner foul and abusive. Those who meet her in this form and return the abuse are invariably cursed; those who treat her well without knowing her true nature earn at least a brief respite from her attentions.

Kajalla is known to be younger than Catil, but is otherwise one of the oldest and most secretive of the Dalerain. She is the head of a trinity of goddesses of evil, her companions being Malis and Yilwyn, and also allied with Tuar, the lord of the spaces below the earth. She was once a close patron and ally of Cheneitha, but that relationship has grown distant in recent centuries, and the Ice Queen is rarely found in the company of the Crone Goddess.

She is worshipped by witches and those who wish to bring harm to others, and she is appeased by nearly everyone. Her priests are manipulative and cruel, and often assemble small bands of like-minded individuals and monsters around them to further help them sow despair and and disillusionment. Many hags are aligned with Kajalla's faith, though few hags actually worship her -- it is not in their nature to acknowledge a power greater than their own.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Great Blog Roll Call 2014!

I made it onto the list!  :)

I tend to forget that this resource exists...I wonder if I can auto-email the link to myself once a week?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


So this is my backyard now.

And a pine and a spruce snapped off about 30' up.

The big 'un is a black walnut, which has a beautiful wood that was extensively used for furniture making. I have a friend whose father has an alaskan sawmill, so I'm hoping to get the walnut sawn into boards. Quite frankly, it's too big for me to do anything treehouse or playhouse with, but the spruce & pine have possibilities - sizeable trunks, and still well rooted.

The amazing thing is that not a single thing was damaged. I had parked my truck and trailer out back in the trees, and nothing fell on them. A very large branch landed next to our shed, but didn't damage it in the slightest. The wooden fence is unfinished, and the walnut squashed the black raspberries and the wire fence, but both will bounce right back up.The evergreens smashed the lilacs and forsythia I was going to cut back anyhow, and missed by 2-3' the baby spruce my daughter planted last year.

PS - Since everyone says it: I do not have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, and I have 3 brush piles already, so I'm good on bonfire material. I will probably use the softwoods to help construct some terracing on the south side of the garage for strawberries, and the walnut I'll split with the sawyer. The smaller branches I'll make spoons & suchlike out of.  The remainder I'm piling out back with the intent of letting it rot.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vacation Update and blog hijack

Staying at campgrounds and the occasional motel around the country has been horrible for writing (it's still almost done; I swear!  My cousin has read the rough draft and loved it!), but great fun for the most part. Two nights of rain and an overly bold raccoon have left us a bit tired of camping though, so we're in a hotel in Pittsburgh for the last few nights (it's undergoing serious renovations, which puts it in our price range.)

Awesome trip though.  Turns out I really like Ohio.  Who knew?

In other news, my housesitter is getting a bonus. A major storm through our town, and she sat in the basement with our pets (we've NEVER had to do this). She came up to find the storm had uprooted possibly the largest black walnut tree in our backyard: the hole alone is 10-12' feet across and at least 4' deep from the photos and her description.

I used to build houses, and I recently worked for a year building playgrounds. Incredible, amazing fun. I've built two custom treehouses recently that have gotten some attention. I have a masters degree in landscape architecture. And now I've got a giant tree trunk and root structure to play with and really do something amazing with no boss but myself and my daughter????  As much as I'm sad about losing the tree, I'm practically giddy with the possibilities.  :)

Pictures when I get home.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Secrets #2: Down to the Wire

On Saturday I'm headed out for two weeks.  I'm bringing a computer, but internet will be spotty (campsites, y'know).
Here's what I think I'm looking at:

  • Cardstocks pages are laid out. That means I can take my diminishing pile of cardstock to the printer and get the covers done, hopefully tomorrow. UPDATE: Yup, did 'em.
  • Stickers are almost all written. UPDATE: Printed two sheets of 10, so that'll get me through the backorders.
  • I've got one race left that needs a big writeup, and then I need to go through and check all the entries, but then I'm good to print. I'm doing that at home, and I'm stocked up on paper and ink, I'll just need time. I really prefer a full bleed print for the space, but that means I can't print duplex - I have to print one side x number of times, flip the pile over, and print the other side x number of times. Rinse and repeat, then assemble and staple. So the big factor is time. It's doable, but it's tight. I can pack and do this at the same time, though.
  • Envelopes for everyone who's preordered are already addressed. I do need to go through and grab emails, though.
  • Best case scenario, print and pdf will go out Friday night and Saturday morning.
  • Middle scenario, PDFs go out Friday but I assemble along the way and stuff gets mailed between here and Chicago. Frankly, this appeals to me just because I can drop them off at different towns and you can all get random postmarks.
  • Worst case scenario, I will take the covers and envelopes and stapler with me, and complete the printing when I get to Chicago around the 1st or 2nd. PDFs, which don't require printing, will go out sooner. The allure here is if I wait a few days to print, I get errata feedback in time to make a difference.
We're driving out to Chicago and back, stopping at a bunch of places along the way and seeing the heartland of America (you laugh, but I've got a masters in landscape architecture, I'm from New England, and I'm fascinated by how communities evolve - driving through middle America is AMAZING to me). I'm taking the computer and a few slim books, but I'm really going to try and work in my notebooks and do some actual longhand writing for a change. It's been quite a few years. I'm hoping to work on the OSR Superstar adventure, but that might end up being a casualty of timing.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Secrets #2: Strange Races update and previews

Basically, I'm not satisfied with my write-ups, so I'm going through and tweaking/revising/expanding or editing them. Artwork is also a drain on my time, although I think I'm about done there.

Here's the illustration for the bast.

And here's the revised & expanded writeup for the crabmen.

Crabmen (Armamen)
Crabmen, or armamen, are bipedal, humanoid crabs the size of ogres. They have an insect-like head, a thick exoskeleton, a large pair of pincers arms, and a smaller set of humanoid arms below those. Most armamen are reddish-brown or brown, but occasionally a crabman is born with a much more vibrantly colored carapace of blue, white, yellow, or purple. These chromatically endowed crabmen are smarter and wiser than their brethren, and can become spellcasters. They speak their own language of hisses and clicks, and adventuring armamen can speak the local tongue as well. Crabmen mature quickly but slowly.

Crabmen are somewhat stolid and conservative in their worldview. Uncertainly, indecision, and change make them uncomfortable – a happy day, to a crabman, is one just like the day before. They keep to themselves and are slow to trust strangers. Most crabmen avoid conflict if possible, but defend their territory vigorously.

Armamen live in small communities along coastal waters or large rivers. They are primarily scavengers and scour the shoreline daily for food. Their communities are led by the elders with the advice of the spellcasting crabmen. They worship a few simple gods that manifest as monstrous sea creatures. The pantheon is led by a monstrous lobster god; its foe is a titanic kraken. An oracular mollusk is the guardian of magical secrets; for this reason armamen magic-users etch their spells onto pearls, which they carry in small pouches.

Racial Abilities & Classes
Crabmen cannot wield weapons or wear armor (their pincers are too crude; their arms too weak), but they can attack twice in a round with their pincers, inflicting 1d6 points of damage with each attack, and have a natural AC of 3 [16]. They also begin play with an extra Hit Die (1d6). Crabmen can swim at a speed of 9 and breath water or air at will.
Crabmen can become Fighters (4th level). Crabmen with an Intelligence of 16 or higher can become Magic-Users (3rd level); those with a Wisdom of 16 or higher can become Druids (3rd level). A crabman with Intelligence and Wisdom scores of 16 can become a Druid/Magic-User; if both scores are 18 the crabman can advance to 5th level in both classes.

Secrets & Lore
  • Crabmen (like so many other races) were servants of the Aten Empire, used as longshoremen and fishermen and housed in a great ghetto in A’aten. Many crabmen have continued in those professions in the Feathered Realm, but others have spread out into the islet-studded estuaries around A’aten. Many of these small islands hold ruins abandoned by the aten for one reason or another.
  • Once in a great while, a confluence of tides and tainted water instills a temporary madness in the armamen, giving them an insatiable and almost uncontrollable hunger for violence and slaughter. It has been so long since the last confluence that only a few elderly sages even know of the armamen weakness. The aten had an antidote, but the secret of its manufacture was lost when they were driven from power.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Map: The Delphinian Crypts

Got bored late last night; gave mapping a whirl. Could use a few extras, but overall I'm very pleased with it

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Secrets 2 Cover

The details kill me. I hate spending 45 minutes online trying to find a non-watermarked version of an illustration that's out of copyright, and failing. Jessie M. King has some really nice work, but there aren't many people doing high quality scans of it.

Anyways, there are buttons and links to buy stuff and get stuff over in the sidebar there ----->, and here's the cover for Secrets #2. I was hoping to print the covers today, but I realized I can't do that until I finalize the layout so I can attribute the artists on the proper pages.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

$5 Sale and Secrets #2 Updates

I just got back from a weekend. The sale was amazingly successful, and I'm still too tired to make a new button, but I'm pulling the Paypal widget until I redo it tomorrow. Sale is over; you guys are wicked awesome!

Between the trip this weekend (an attempt at the Guiness Book of World Records record for longest contra-dance line in Rutland Vermont, which did not succeed but was still a wonderful party) and my hot water heater ceasing to work*, I'm not quite done Secrets #2. It won't be much of a delay, and it'll go out as soon as it's done.

If you bought the combo offering of Secrets #1 and #2 over the weekend, copies of #1 (both print and pdf) will go out tomorrow. Thanks for your patience!

*We then found out it's 27 years old, which is pretty good for an appliance with an average lifespan of 10-13 years. We've decided to replace it, but the logistics of our basement are making it very difficult to install anything noticeably more efficient, so we're talking to a variety of companies about a variety of options. In the meantime, my wife and daughter shower at the YMCA, and I pretend I enjoy cold water**.

**I work very close to home and don't go into town much whereas my wife and daughter are at the YMCA daily.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Race: Tieflings! (And still got the $5 sale on)

$5 sale for Secrets #1 or Secrets #2 pre-order is still going on for a little while longer. Go down a post to read the details; go to the sidebar to order!
UPDATE: I'm too damned tired to make new Paypal buttons, so the sale lives for another day.

I thought it'd be interesting to expand things like tieflings and aasimar to all races, not just humans. OSR rules normally limit nonhuman races through level and class restrictions, but that wasn't going to work here. Rather than impose an XP cap or penalty, I opted to take away the bonus XP from high attributes.  I still have to look at how it interacts with some other Strange Races races, but I think it works.

Here's a draft version of the tiefling.

Tieflings are related to the creatures of Chaos. Some tieflings are born to Chaotic bloodlines hidden in other societies; other tieflings are the result of curses, being favored by a creature of Chaos (often for no discernable reason), or because the tiefling was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s hard to tell with Chaos.

Racial Abilities
Tieflings have all the abilities of their normal race, but must have a starting Dexterity attribute of 13 or higher, and their Maximum Number of Special Hirelings (Charisma Table) is reduced by one. Tieflings can see in the dark (darkvision) with a range of 60 feet. They can cast darkness 15’ radius once per day, and have a +2 bonus to saving throws versus fire attacks. Tieflings advance as members of their normal race, but never gain bonus XP for high attributes, including Charisma.

Monday, June 2, 2014

5 Years! 5 dollars! And STRANGE RACES pre-order!

UPDATE 6/8/2014: I'm just got back from a weekend trip, and I'm again too tired to make new buttons...but long enough is long enough, so I'm just pulling the widget down for now. Sale is over. :(  It was WICKED successful, however, and I'm very pleased with it. Thank you everyone!

I'll keep this short and sweet.
  1. May 30th, 2009 was my first post on this blog, so this is the 5th anniversary of this blog, give or take a few days. 
  2. I made Round Two of the OSR Superstar contest. I didn't expect it, so that's pretty awesome.
  3. Secrets #2: Strange Races will be done this week.
  4. My long-arm stapler arrived: I can finally assemble the last copies of Secrets #1 I have around.
SO...I feel pretty good. And when I feel pretty good, I do things I might regret later on. But not much.

Which can now pre-order Secrets #2: Strange Races. PDF copies will go out as soon as things are finalized; print copies will go out middle or end of next week, when I have a chance to get the cover printed.

$5 SALE?
Secrets #1 (print & pdf version) is on sale for $5 instead of $6 for 24 hours. I've got envelopes, issues, and stamps, people. 
Pre-orders of Secrets #2 (print & pdf version) are $5 instead of $6 for 24 hours. Takin' names!
And there's a button to let you order Secrets #1 and Secrets #2 for $10. Because CONVENIENCE.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Tomorrow is June 1st. I love June. It's my favorite month. My birthday is exactly a week before the 4th of July, and I can often arrange my schedule to have two long weekends in a row, with a 3-day work week between.  June is spiced tea and rhubarb pie; finally getting to swim in the swimming hole after eyeing the water since the end of April; canoeing down the river; hiking Mt Kearsarge; and generally being outside and alive. June and December are the two times I miss New Hampshire the most (in December it's the snow and the New England Christmas feel).

Anyways. Tomorrow is June 1st. June is awesome and deserves to be celebrated. Tenkar's Tavern's 5th anniversary is today, which made me check my own blog calender, and lo and behold, I'm due a celebration too! I'm not doing it today because I don't want to be the girl who announces her pregnancy at someone else's wedding, to completely  steal that analogy. Plus, tomorrow I might have something else to announce, if I get my stuff together and put in some work tonight. AND, maybe there will even be a third thing. I dunno. Some stuff I have no control over.

Now go raise a glass at the Tavern!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Spell: Atomic Eye

I was playing with the spell name generator on Abulafia a while ago and came up with "Atomic Eye". It struck me as simultaneously the coolest and possibly least likely spell name in D&D - so I posted it on the S&W G+ community to see if anyone could handle the challenge. Jeff Faller and Reese Laundry could.

Jeff Faller:
Atomic Eye
Level 5 MU spell
Duration: 1/2 MU's level in rounds
Upon a successful casting, a flaming 3 headed flail appears in the hand of the MU. This item is weightless, and when swung with any amount of force will cause the chains to extend up to 10 feet. At the end of each of the three flame spitting chains lies what appears to be a swirling mass of flame and fire in the shape of an eye.
The MU may swing this around his / her head in a constant blurring motion of flame, anything w/in a 10' radius of the MU will be struck for 2d6 hp of fire damage, and be forced to save versus spell or shrunk down to 10% of their original size. This effect will last for 2d4 rounds.

Reese Laundry: "This plays off the Atomie being the smallest of the fey in S&W..."
Atomic Eye
Spell Level: Druid, 2nd Level
Range: 40 feet
Duration: 1 hour + 10 min/level
This spell grants the recipient the gift of second sight, allowing him to see through the glamour of any fey creature (fairy, pixie, etc) and recognize the creature for what it is, even if invisible, polymorphed or shapechanged.

New Race: Half Ling

Last of the ling sub-races. An overview of the ling race, and the brute ling PC race, can be found here. The first ling PC race is here. The advanced ling race is here.

Half Ling
Half lings are the rarest of creatures, a successful result of a union between an advanced ling and a non-ling, usually a human. They appear as a member of their non-ling parent’s race, but with a faint blue tinge to their skin, refined features, and white or silver-streaked hair.

Half lings feel an innate disdain and disgust for full ling. As children they are revered and spoiled by the ling, but they invariably seek to escape at the first opportunity. They are curious about the world and rarely settle in one place, preferring instead to keep moving and exploring. This also serves to keep them ahead of the first ling forces the advanced ling send out to retrieve their wayward children. Half ling can speak Ling and their non-ling parent’s native tongue, and live up to 150 years.

Racial Abilities
Half Ling have a +1 bonus to every attribute, and a +2 bonus to saves versus magic. They are adept linguists and can learn twice the normal number of languages.

Character Classes
Half ling can be Bards (unlimited) if such a class is available, Fighters (unlimited), Magic-Users (unlimited), Monks (unlimited), or Thieves (unlimited). They never earn bonus experience for high attribute scores.

Racial Class
Half Lings use the Fighter table for experience and the Cleric table for saves, Hit Dice, attacks, and spell progression. They choose their spells from the Magic-User list, but can only learn a number of spells of each spell level equal to the entry on the Number of Spells (By Level) chart in the cleric entry. They do not need to prepare spells; they select which known spell they want to cast as they cast it, and they do not need spellbooks or mundane spell components.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Race: Advanced Ling

An overview of the ling and the brute ling race can be found here. The first ling race can be found here.

Advanced Ling
Advanced ling stand between seven and eight feet tall, with blue-tinted skin and white eyes. Male advanced ling are entirely hairless, while female advanced ling have white hair around the sides and back of their heads. They believe themselves to be the most advanced creatures in existence, as far beyond the religious superstitions of the first ling as the first ling are beyond the struggles of the brute ling, and that all creatures exist to serve them. Their populations are rarely large, and they create magical enclaves in the mountain peaks, each home to one or two hundred advanced ling, several thousand first ling, and countless hordes of brute lings in the deepest chasms. Even in their paradises they are bored, though, and send out first ling to capture slaves for their entertainment.

Racial Abilities
Advanced ling can instantly understand and speak any language. They have a +4 bonus to their starting Intelligence attribute, but a -4 penalty to their Strength and Constitution attributes. They can use detect magic at will, and have a +4 bonus to saves versus magic.

Character Classes
Advanced ling can be Magic-Users (unlimited), Illusionists (unlimited), and Psychics or Psionicists (unlimited), if such a class is available. They do not need spellbooks or mundane spell components (valueless components, such as sheep’s wool or guano), and automatically learn a number of new spells at each class level equal to their Additional Maximum Languages number. However, advanced ling are also prone to crippling bouts of ennui that render their entire existence meaningless. To advance from 1st to 2nd level, the character must roll a 5 or higher on a d20. This repeats at each new level, and the target number increases by one at each level, maxing out at 15+ to reach 12th level. If the roll fails, the character succumbs to the belief that everything is pointless and loses a level’s worth of experience. They must then repeat the level they just completed (so an 8th level advanced ling who is about to move up to 9th level, but fails the roll, must redo 8th level). If the roll fails three times in a row, the character has reached the pinnacle of their ability and can never again earn experience.

Racial Class
Advanced ling use the Magic-User table for experience, saves, Hit Dice, and attacks, with the changes noted in the Character Classes section.

Monday, May 26, 2014

New Race: First Ling

The overview of the ling race, and the brute ling as a PC race, can be found here.

First Ling
First ling are human in appearance, with brown skin, black hair, and striking blue eyes. Their faces are broader than normal, and their hands are longer and larger than human hands. They are masterful builders and smiths, and excavate cavern-cities beneath the mountains, protected from the elements but close to the surface. Early first ling keep themselves isolated from non-ling, surrounding their settlements with brute ling warrens, but as the first ling population grows they increase contact with the outside world, often conquering lands near their mountain strongholds and establishing realms similar to others nearby. First ling speak Ling and Common, and live about 70 years.
The first ling believe themselves to be the first race of humanity created by the eldest god. The other, younger races and their gods were jealous of the first ling, and tricked the ling god into falling asleep. While it was asleep, the younger races killed all the first ling. The younger gods continue to keep the ling god from awakening, but his dreaming mind is powerful enough to keep recreating the first ling.

Racial Abilities
First ling have a +1 bonus to damage due to their natural understanding of weapons and fighting. They have a 3-in-6 chance to detect unusual construction and features in stonework, including secret doors, sliding walls, shifting rooms, pit traps, and so forth. They can create or repair weapons and armor with access to the proper tools.

Character Classes
First ling can be Fighters (8th level) or Thieves (7th level). A first ling with a Wisdom of 16 or higher can be a Cleric (7th level), but they must worship the sleeping ling god, and cannot receive spells of 3rd level or higher.

Racial Class
First ling use the Fighter table for experience, saves, Hit Dice, and attacks. They gain Strength bonuses to hit and damage as a fighter, but do not gain the Parry or Multiple Attacks abilities.

New Race: Ling & Brute Ling

The ling are an ancient, brutal race that live in the deep mountains. Ling exist in three forms: the brute ling, the first ling, and the advanced ling. Brute lings are hairy, apelike creatures that dwell in caves, caverns, and crude shelters. Periodically a “first ling” will be born into brute ling tribe; this marks the start of a rapid transformation in the tribe. The birthrate increases dramatically, and all of the children born subsequently are first ling. First ling are close to human in appearance, but with a broader face and longer fingers. They instinctively understand technology, and in the course of a few years construct weapons and fortifications; sometimes using these as bases from which to raid surrounding lands and capture slaves.

Eventually, advanced ling are born to the first ling. They are tall, nearly hairless creatures with blue-tinted skin and the unshakeable conviction that they are the pinnacle of life. Advanced ling understand magic and technology as the first ling understood construction, smithing, and warcraft. Advanced ling often create floating citadels and other wonders during their time, but are mostly interested in creature comforts and a life of leisure. They see brute ling as nothing more than guard beasts, and first ling as servants, roles both races are happy to play. Non-ling are fit for nothing more than slaves. Unfortunately, advanced ling cannot breed with other ling, and invariably seek other means of circumventing their fate, usually by kidnapping members of other races and using them to breed half-ling hybrids. Most of the results of these unions are brute lings, but monstrosities of various sorts are common. The advanced ling, frustrated by their failure to extend their line, fall into depression. Many commit suicide. Invariably the advanced ling civilization fails, the first ling die off, and the brute ling return to their caves and caverns until the cycle starts again.

Brute Ling
Brute lings are stooped, hairy, ape-like creatures with blue-tinted white fur. Their technology barely extends to fire; they cannot make armor and their most advanced weapons are crude spears and clubs. They lair in cavern complexes in isolated mountain ranges, doing little more than breeding and eating until a first ling is born. Brute ling barely communicate with each other, and concepts beyond “food”, “hit”, and “sleep” are beyond them. They live no more than forty years.

Racial Abilities
Brute ling can see in the dark (darkvision) with a range of 60 feet. They have a +2 bonus to their starting Strength and Constitution attributes, but a -4 to their Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. They are incredibly hardy, and have a +2 bonus to their saving throws against cold, disease, poison, and petrifaction. They cannot use ranged weapons or shields.

Character Classes
Brute ling can be Fighters (7th level). If a Barbarian class is available, brute ling are Barbarians instead.

Racial Class
Brute ling use the Fighter table for experience, saves, Hit Dice, and attacks. They gain a +2 to their hit points at each level, but cannot use armor, shields, ranged weapons, or any weapon that might be considered exotic or specialized.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Link: More Races

I don't really do reviews, but I will do suggestions.

If you're interested in races, Stuart Marshall has a great article in Footprints 21, with the following races.
Human Subraces: Amazon, Atlantean, Citizen of the Celestial Empire, Northman, Pict, Southman.
Gnome Subraces: Fir Bolg, Fir Domnan, Gailioin.
Dwarf Subraces: Domovoy, Leshiy, Vodnik, Vozdushniy
Elf Subraces: Polder elf, Warden elf, Liminal elf
Half-Elf races: Changeling (elf-brood), Changeling (man-brood)

These are obviously drawn from folklore for the most part, and are pretty interesting adaptations; much less conventional than most D&D races.  I'm not wholly convinced that there aren't good folkloric possibilities for halflings (that's what I consider domovii and related spirits, for instance), but that's a difference of opinion, not a flaw in the article.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Call and Response: The Basic Illusionist version

Tim Brannan wrote an incredibly nice overview/review of The Basic Illusionist on his blog here, and I thought it'd be fun to answer some of his questions, comments, and speculation.
(If you're feeling TL;DR: Tim gets why I made The Basic Illusionist and that makes me happy.)

"That is a cool ass cover. I am not sure what made Nathan Irving choose this piece ("Beauty and the Beast" by Edmund Dulac) but I love it."
Well, I loved it too. ;) I thought it had a nice sense of the fantastic and wonder without being really overt about MAGIC and ILLUSION and stuff, and leaving some questions. What is the illusion? Is she the illusionist or the illusion? It was illusion as ambiance, not attack, which is something that's not often portrayed in rpg literature.

The title works in seemlessly, like they were meant for each other."
The title font is called EddaCaps. I was introduced to it by an artist that did an amazing cover for a book I haven't yet written. It's got a nice art nouveau feel that works well with Dulac. Also (and here's a little trick) the color inside the title is sampled from the picture itself, so you've got the color palette working for you.

"The book starts off with a helpful FAQ. Personally I think Nathan should also put that FAQ on his blog as a page so every knows why they should get this."
Good idea.

"There is even an Illusionist variant class called the Mountebank. Which is more of a con-artist. Not sure how it compares to other classes of the same name."
Not really similar, I think. The "original" mountebank is more of a thief with illusion abilities; this mountebank is much more magical than the original.

"One of the best features of the book is a guideline on illusionist magic and how to play with illusions. Great even if you never play the class."

"What follows next is over 150 Illusionist spells. Many we have seen before and come from the SRD. That is not a bad thing. Having all these spells in one place and edited to work with the class is a major undertaking."
My goal here was a complete resource of illusions; no flipping between books. Spells were selected with the aim of including more or less every illusion spell from the core 1e, 2e, and 3e rulebooks. I streamlined and edited all of them, rewrote several entirely to make them better/more interesting, and added new spells to fill in gaps as necessary.

"I think Nathan has has actually fixed the classic Illusionist and brought it more in line with the Wizard."
That was the goal. :)

"Another great free product. Theorems & Thaumaturgy comes to us from +Gavin Norman and introduced his Vivmancer class. Vivimancers and Illusionists are about as different as one can get really. But Theorems & Thaumaturgy does have some things that the Basic Illusionist can use. For starters there some more Illusionist spells in T&T that the Basic Illusionist could use."
Ayup. For sanity's sake the goal for The Basic Illusionist was the spells that were in the core rules of earlier editions. I've got at least as many new illusions from various sources, including Theorems & Thaumaturgy. Someday!

"Witches and Illusionists share the ability to cast various figments and charms/mind affecting spells. I would say that in any game that has both classes that Illusionists should be limited to charm spells up to 5th level and witches any type of figments up to 5th level. Illusionists then get all (or most) of the Illusion spells and witches get all the curses."
When (not if) I finish The Complete Illusionist, it'll include guidelines for illusion-use by different classes, including witches. The FAQ in Basic Illusionist already covers magic-users.

"I would love a print version of this. It would really be awesome. At 34 pages it is a bit smallish for print, but that is easily fixed. Add a few more spells (plenty of OGC), some illusion based magic items, a couple more monsters (not a lot) an appendix for using this class in different retro-clones (LL, OSRIC, ACKS) and maybe even stats on adding gnomes as player characters. Call it "The Complete Illusionist" sell it for a couple of bucks on DriveThru and get a print copy made. "
That's pretty much the plan...if by "a few more spells" you mean 100-200 more. ;) Gnomes are in, as are a few other illusion-oriented races. Definitely an appendix for different rulesets. Magic items and monsters, absolutely. And some additional variant illusionists. Good 'nuff?

"Bottom Line: This is a great book. I loved the awesome art and the fact that it is free. Though I would have gladly paid for it."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Spells: Psychic Mist, Signet of Frost, Unseen, Evanescent Woe

It's hard to come up with a spell to replace invisibility that isn't just "invisibility with a different name".

Psychic Mist 
Level: 1
Range: 10’ radius around caster
Duration: 10 rounds
You create a protective aura that interferes with charms and other controlling spells. Anyone within psychic mist has a +2 bonus to saves against charm, sleep, fear, commands, and similar magical effects. If such an effect is already enjoined, the individual gets a second save to throw off the effects for as long as they are within the mist. Creatures that can see invisible or aetherial objects see the psychic mist as a shimmering cloud around you.

Signet of Frost
Level: Mage 1
Range: Touch
Duration: Varies
You create a small raised symbol that you can imprint on yourself or another target. The exact effect of the signet of frost depends on the target. If you retain the signet, you are immune to cold damage for 10 rounds. Placed on another creature, the signet of frost paralyzes them with cold for 1d4+1 rounds, or slows them (half movement and half attacks) if they succeed on a saving throw. Placed on a door or other operable portal, the signet lasts 24 hours and causes the portal to be stuck, or adds a -1 penalty to an Open Doors roll if the door is already stuck.

Level: 2
Range: Touch
Duration: 10 rounds
You cause yourself or another creature you touch to go almost completely unnoticed. If you take no overt action in a round, you are ignored by all creatures. If you move, creatures within melee range of you get a saving throw to notice you and act normally in that round. If you attack or cast a spell, anyone within melee range automatically notices you. If you inflict damage or otherwise affect a target, unseen ends against that creature.

Evanescent Woe
Level: 3
Range: Personal
Duration: 1 hour per level or until discharged.
You avoid the permanent negative effects of the next attack. Evanescent woe lasts 1 hour per caster level, or until you are subject to an effect that lasts longer than a single round, including physical damage, mental control, petrification, and so on. The round after you suffer the effect (or effects), evanescent woe negates the effect, returning you to the way you were at the beginning of the previous round. You cannot control when evanescent woe discharges or what triggers it. If the effect is ongoing, you suffer the effects again as usual.

Spells: Brilliant Burst, Moonsight, Mystic Shield, Staff of the Stars

Brilliant Burst
Level: 1
Range: 30 foot radius / 60 feet
Duration: Instant
You release a burst of light. Everyone within 30 feet of you (but not you) is blinded for one round and dazzled for 1d4 rounds afterwards. In addition, a powerful beam of light strikes one creature that you choose within 60 feet , inflicting 1d4+1 points of damage (save for half).

Level: 1
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 hour
You give a number of creatures equal to your level plus your Intelligence bonus the ability to see clearly at outdoors at night (nightvision).

Mystic Shield
Level: 1
Range: Personal
Duration: Concentration
You create a shimmering shield of force that gives you a +2 bonus to your AC. The mystic shield disappears if you cast a spell or make an attack.

Staff of the Stars
Level: 2
Range: Personal
Duration: 1 hour/level or until dispelled.
You create a faintly shining staff of energy. The staff of the stars inflicts damage as a quarterstaff and can hit creatures struck by magical weapons. It sheds light in a 10’ radius, and creatures with nightvision can see normally for 30’ around it.
The staff can be used to generate a mystic shield or brilliant burst; either use dispels the staff of the stars.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New Game / Campaign

We had the first session of the new game last night, and contrary to what I expected, we ended up going hardcore 3.5. Starting characters? 3rd level gestalts. I don't have a problem with this, although my brain was a bit more exhausted than I would have liked and poring through pdfs looking for just the right feat & spell (to overcome, at least in part, a Wisdom of 6) got old eventually. I won't be able to make the next session, so I've got two weeks to wrap up the little details. Suits me. I'm half-a-decade out of touch with this stuff.

Apparently my silence was stressing the DM out, though. I told him I'd talk more as I got accustomed to the character.

For those playing along at home, we're currently a party of 4, with a (lesser) tiefling beguiler/swashbuckler, a kenku (athasian) bard/?, a half-orc barbarian, and an aasimar druid. I'm the tiefling.

The interesting part is going to be translating the characters to Swords & Wizardry.  It's actually not terrible, but it should be interesting. The druid might be the most problematic - shapeshifting is a really big part of the modern druid, but a much smaller part of older druids, particularly mine.

I'm going to use a 13-15/+1, 16-17/+2, 18/+3 ability score/bonus scheme, with d20 knacks and skills swiped from Pars Fortuna.  Boons will be used instead of feats. Just need to write up a few classes to match the martial classes from last year.

We've also discussed playing Adventures of the Space Princess, but not quite yet I think.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Summertime and Table: Warriors I

Posting will be light throughout the summer. I've decided that last year is probably approximately accurate as to how this summer is going to go - I've got a lot to do, and a lot of daylight to do it in, which means not so much time inside by the computer. The inside time I do have I'm going to spend on finishing material for Secrets rather than try and split time between that and writing new blog material.

I'll still post stuff on here, but I'm not going to try and match the wintertime pace.

In the meantime, have more warriors of Arthur's Court

Warriors I
1. Moren Mynawc himself
2. Dalldav the son of Kimin Côv
3. The son of Alun Dyved
4. The son of Saidi
5. The son of Gwryon
6. Uchtryd Ardywad Kad
7. Kynwas Curvagyl
8. Gwrhyr Gwarthegvras
9. Isperyr Ewingath
10. Gallcoyt Govynynat
11. Duach
12. Grathach
13. Nerthach
14. The sons of Gwawrddur Kyrvach (these men came forth from the confines of hell)
15. Kilydd Canhastyr
16. Canastyr Kanllaw
17. Cors Cant-Ewin
18. Esgeir Gulhwch Govynkawn
19. Drustwrn Hayarn
20. Roll twice

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Races (draft synopsis)

The aten are an elegant race with silver-hued skin, violet hair, and golden eyes. Links between them and the jouri seem possible but nothing is certain. The aten were once the rules of the Aten Empire, but were overthrown and now live in isolated towns or ghettos, surrounded by fading remnants of their greatness. They worship a single deity, who they call The Singer. Should his song stop, the Earth would end, so the aten sing to accompany him.

The avia are humanoids with feathers in place of hair. They were once slaves of the aten, but overthrew their masters and established their own domain instead, the Feathered Realm. There are four avia lineages: the aristocratic aurad, the cunning craw, the gregarious magdel, and the high-flying syrin.

The ipotane are a bipedal humanoid race with horse-like legs. The travelling ipotane live in the high northern steppes and make their living as raiders and marauders, while sedentary ipotane live a more pastoral and agricultural life in the river valleys. The ipotane are industrious workers but somewhat dull conversationalists, and have a weakness for alcohol.

The jouri are a pale skinned race, with red hair and yellow, cat-like eyes. They are tall and lean, with grim expressions and an indomitable nature. They claim to have been the aristocracy of an great kingdom, but no trace of this land remains. They are rare in this age, and live only in the ancient city of Imre, in the desolate northern mountains.

The ordali are a delicate, almost waifish race of engineers and scientists. They are related to the nekali, and have pale skin and light hair, and slender tentacles where facial hair would normally grow. The ordali have come to worship the aten’s Singer, and the two races are natural allies.

The verex are a large, ogre-like race with spines in their scalp and arms. They are violent raiders that inhabit the western plains beyond the mountains. The most direct route to the rich fat lands of the east is through the north, but that way also leads beneath Imre of the Jouri, the only city and the only people to have repeatedly defeated the verex. The verex usually veer south through the Denjim Hills instead.Although verex raiding is frequent, the various tribes are scattered and disunified, so they rarely form hordes large enough to pose a serious threat. They worship an eclectic and bloodthirsty pantheon headed by a thunder god.

The tumae are a tall, slender race of people with golden skin, dark hair, and pale blue eyes. They are travelers and have an almost perfect sense of direction. Rather than towns or cities of their own, the tumae establish hostels, inns, and waystations that double as places of sanctuary and information to other tumae.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Race: Bast (Lynxkin)

Draft version of the bast.

Bast (Lynxkin)
Bast are bipedal felines that most resemble an upright lynx. The average bast stands 4’ tall and weighs 60-70 lbs. They have silvery-grey or silvery-brown fur that darkens in summer; some bast are spotted or lightly striped as well. They have golden eyes and tufts of black hair on their ears.

Bast are fickle, primal creatures most interested in satiating their desires to hunt, sleep, and mate, but with a healthy dose of curiosity and independence. Bast range where they please, but are most often found in the deep forests and small cities of the north. They do not form large settlements, but lead largely solitary lives, meeting occasionally to trade information or mate. Most bast keep several “dens” and move freely between them as the mood strikes. In dangerous areas, or places where they are greatly outnumbered, they sometimes form packs for protection, but memberships in a pack is fluid and ever-changing.

Bast are too self-interested to be Chaotic or Lawful, and prefer to live free in the wild or sneaking through the cities.

Racial Abilities
Bast can see in the dark (darkvision) with a range of 60 feet. They have a normal move of 12, but can drop to all fours to move at a speed of 15, and climb walls at a speed of 6. They Climb Walls as a Thief of their level, and their claws grant them two attacks a round, each inflicting 1d4 points of damage.

Character Classes
Bast can advance as Assassins (5th level), Fighters (5th level), or Thieves (unlimited). Thief bast have a +15% to their Climb Walls skill, +10% to their Hear Sounds skill, and +10% to their Move Silently skill.

Racial Class
Bast use the Thief chart for experience, attacks, saves, and Hit Dice. They cannot use weapons and only wear light armor. They have the ability to Climb Walls, Hear Sounds, and Move Silently as a Thief of equal level.

1d6 Random Reasons for Bast Adventurers
1. Bored;
2. Hungry;
3. Saw something shiny;
4. Because someone told you not to;
5. Want to buy something expensive to sleep on;
6. Slept on something expensive that wasn’t yours; ruined it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Table: The Sons of Erbin, Ermid, Iaen, Erim, and Nwyvre.

There are SOOOO many names in Culhwch and Olwen alone....  I want to do the whole list in an issue of Secrets, but it might be too big.  Will have to work on it.

The infamous Sons of Kaw are hungover from the riotous affair that is the Kaw's Mother's Day celebration. Who do you recruit at Arthur's Court instead?

1. Gwittart the son of Oedd king of Ireland
2. Geraint the son of Erbin
3. Ermid the son of Erbin
4. Dyvel the son of Erbin
5. Gwynn the son of Ermid
6. Kyndrwyn the son of Ermid
7. Teregud the son of Iaen
8. Sulyen the son of Iaen
9. Bradwen the son of Iaen
10. Moren the son of Iaen
11. Siawn the son of Iaen
12. Cradawc the son of Iaen. (They were men of Caerdathal, of Arthur's kindred on his father's side.)
13. Uchtryd the son of Erim
14. Eus the son of Erim
15. Henwas Adeinawg the son of Erim (With Henwas Adeinawg, no four-footed beast could run the distance of an acre, much less could it go beyond it.)
16. Henbedestyr the son of Erim (With Henbedestyr there was not any one who could keep pace, either on horseback or on foot.)
17. Sgilti Yscawndroed the son of Erim (With Sgilti Yscawndroed, when he intended to go upon a message for his Lord, he never sought to find a path, but knowing whither he was to go, if his way lay through a wood he went along the tops of the trees. During his whole life, a blade of reed grass bent not beneath his feet, much less did one ever break, so lightly did he tread.)
18. Gwynn the son of Nwyvre
19. Fflam the son of Nwyvre
20. Roll twice

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Appendix N

This is post #200 on this blog, and I thought I'd do something a little different - so here's my personal "Appendix N".  Most of my books are in boxes; I'll come back and update this post with additional names, titles, and commentary as they are unearthed.  The initial list here is fantasy, but I may expand it in the future to other genres.
Entries marked with a * are ones with a clear and sustained influence on my campaigns.

Abercrombie, Joe
*Anonymous: The Mabinogion, particularly CULHWCH AND OLWEN.
Brackett, Leigh
Bradbury, Ray
*Cherryh, C. J.: the "Morgaine" cycle; The Tree of Swords & Jewels
*Cook, Glen: "Black Company" series; "Dread Empire" series; et al.
Crowley, John: LITTLE, BIG
*de Troyes, Chretein: Arthurian Romances
*Dunsany, Lord
Eco, Umberto: Name of the Rose
Gaiman, Neil: Sandman comics, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), etc.
Hobb, Robin: "Farseer" trilogy, "Tawny Man" trilogy, "Soldier Son" trilogy; et al.
*Holdstock, Robert - Mythago Wood, et al
Hughart, Barry: Bridge of Birds et al.
*Jemisin, N.K: "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms" series; et al.
*Kay, Guy Gavriel: TIGANA; "Fionavar Tapestry" trilogy; et al.
Le Guin, Ursula K.: "Earthsea" series; et al.
Leiber, Fritz: "Fafhrd & Gray Mouser" series; et al
Keyes, J. Gregory: "Fool Wolf" stories; "Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone" series; "Chosen of the Changeling" series
McKillip, Patricia: "The Riddle-Master of Hed" trilogy; A SONG FOR BASILISK; THE BOOK OF ATRIX WOLFE; et al.
Mieville, China: "Bas-Lag" series
Moon, Elizabeth: "The Deed of Paksenarrion" Trilogy
Moorcock, Michael: STORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS; "Hawkmoon" series (esp. the first three books)
*Rohan, Michael Scott: "Winter of the World" series
Tolkien, J. R. R.: THE HOBBIT; "Ring trilogy"
Wells, Martha: The Ile-Rien series
Wolfe, Gene: "The Wizard Knight" duology; et al.
*Zelazny, Roger: JACK OF SHADOWS; "Amber" series; et al

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Secrets #1

This is the official information post for Secrets #1.

Secrets #1: Omens & Artifacts is a 24-page digest-sized fanzine from the Secrets of the Shadowend blog. Within these 24 pages are:
  • 24 spells for clerics, druids, and magic-users;
  • 24 magic items, including the infamous neverburning candle, the eldritch blade Sacnoth, and the much-sought-after Codex of Dungeons;
  • 3 new monsters: the cockerel-horse alektrequus, the amnesia-inducing alkonost, and the magic-seeking vouivre;
  • 2 adventure seeds: A Day at the Races (for the alektrequus), and The Village That Forgot Itself (for the alkonost);
  • the Shaman, a Druid class variant, and a complete spell list for the Shaman;
  • and an introduction to the Shadowend campaign setting.
Secrets is covered under the Open Game License, and 100% Open Game Content.

Prices n' Places

$0: Secrets isn't free, but The Basic Illusionist is, and it's moved to the d20PFSRD Store!

$4: The print version is available for $4 through the Paypal link in the sidebar, and each print zine includes one of twenty different magic items as a sticker insert. 

$6: Print + pdf. Order through the Paypal link to the right, and I'll email you the pdf ASAP and send you a print copy.

International orders are the same price (yes, really), but it's a little easier on me if you order the print + pdf, and then you can enjoy the pdf while waiting for the envelope (although it only took 3 days for it to get to Barcelona, which is pretty darned good - I think it took longer to get to some USA addresses.)

Tenkar's Tavern likes the zine and particularly the magic items. "Holy crap but there is some fun stuff here." He also calls this blog " awesome gaming resource." So I'm kinda pleased.  ;)

The Land of NOD says "It's a great compilation of spells, monsters, and magic items for Swords & Wizardry (hallowed be its name) that you can fit into your long-running campaign to throw your players a curve, or use to launch a new campaign for old timers who already know the best way to skin a gnoll." Personally, I don't remember putting new gnoll-skinning techniques in the finished issue, so John must have one of the ultra-rare draft editions.  ;)

Gothridge Manor just posted a compilation/summary of all the different zines he has, and Secrets is included. Tim says: "This one has new spells, old spells with a twist, a big batch of magic items, monsters and a cool addition, a unique magic item for each issue on the back cover. I'm really glad Nathan got into making zines. I'm already looking forward to issue #2."

What Would Conan Do? Conan would buy Secrets again, that's what he'd do. Daniel Sell reviewed Secrets #1. He particularly likes the monsters: "They're weird and charming and best of all come with a mini-adventure attached. These little vignettes place them firmly in the world and show you how the author intended them to be used." Writing the mini-adventures is awesome fun, so hooray!  :)

5-9-14: I just found out there's a font in the pdf that didn't embed; if you have a copy from before this date and want the pdf to look as it should, download and install the Verdict SF font on your system. It's free and available at lots of sites; but it's under what seems to be an antiquated (1990's) license that doesn't allow pdf embedding. Anyone getting the pdf after this date shouldn't have an issue, as I replaced Verdict SF with two Windsor fonts. (As of 5-18-14 I've replaced the Windsors with Fritz.)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dungeon of Lost Coppers map

Dyson ran a quasi-contest/giveaway a few months ago, giving away (something?) to a random person who finished the Dungeon of Lost Coppers map.  I started on it but didn't finish.

It's still not wholly done - I've rediscovered how much I hate hatching without a grid or a drafting table - so I need to roll back an iteration (scan often, kids!), add the grid back in, and hatch it properly. I like it, though.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fanzines, The Complete Illusionist, Norse God Classes, And More

Another update/round-up post. I think you'll like this one. It'll also be the last of its kind for a bit; I want to get back to gaming content.

Secrets: Omens & Artifacts has done...pardon my french...fucking fantastic. My plan was always to print twenty copies and reprint as necessary. I hoped to sell twenty in a month, at best. Right now, in less than a week I've sold 17, have one "on hold", and have two left. I'll gladly and gleefully print more, but...yeah!

(Paypal for the print version is in the right sidebar, or buy the black& white pdf here.

This means I've made enough to cover the costs I wanted to cover, AND I can buy the license for Scrivener. So what, you ask?  So...The Complete Illusionist, people!  Work on TCI has been stalled because I really love Scrivener, and all my illusionist stuff is in it, and I'm 3/4 of the way through the trial period, and I didn't want to use up the trial before I had a license ready. Well, no more worries, people! IT's handled! Because of you, The Complete Illusionist is FULL STEAM AHEAD!

What else? You know what would rock as the next issue of SecretsStrange Races. That's the official title, btw. The race compilation is more than half-done, and while I will be full-steam ahead on The Complete Illusionist, Secrets: Strange Races will almost certainly be the next thing out the door.

And, well... it turns out I really like this 24-page booklet format. Who knew, right? The wee little pages make me feel like I'm Making Progress every time I write something, and that makes me really enthusiastic. Also, I work in cycles, and while I'm kinda sick of monsters right now (but not too much), you know what I'm really getting interested in again? Norse Gods as Classes. Yeah. And it would totally rock as an issue of Secrets.

There are a few other things kicking around too. I've been keeping it quiet, but I've got a bestiary with 80+ monsters kinda sorta finished. But not. The monsters are all done, but the adventure seeds aren't. They're a wicked lot of fun to write, but take longer than I expected, so I work on them when I need a break from something else.

And the 24-page booklet concept has conflated in my head with Pars Fortuna and Jon Stater's recent musings about different versions of  Bloody Basic to create -another- sideline/can-I-do-this? project, so that's at least 3 issues of Secrets right there.

Oh, and the hexcrawl. I wanted to do a random hexcrawl thing. It was going to be the bonus pages in Secrets #1, but the outline alone was way too big.

And Secrets. I'm not doing the two-format pdfs again. I won't change it for Secrets #1, but I figured out how to do the layout that I wanted and not require people to print a ink-buster cover, although they can if they want to. I will keep doing the stickers for the prints because it's fun.

Here's the mixed news. I did Secrets to see if I could, and because I had a lot of the materials available and just sitting around, unused. Paper, cardstock, several new ink cartridges, envelopes, etc.  I'm hoping to do at least 5 issues right now, but we'll see. It looks like I'll be able to cover costs after that if I wanted to. What I'd really like to do eventually is migrate to a Patreon model, and make Secrets - at least the pdfs - free. Before I can do that, however, I need to prove to myself and everyone else that I can produce consistent quality and figure out how to package it. The two Patreon blogs I'm most familiar with are Dyson's Dodecahedron and Lapsus Calumni, but their primary currency is maps, which are a bit more consistent/discrete a unit than what I usually produce (but see below...). If I post 3 spells, is that worthwhile? A class? 5 spells? 10? How many magic items equal a PC race?  Do I only do it per issue of Secrets? How does that play for something larger, like The Complete Illusionist (or even The Basic Illusionist, which would clock in at roughly 70+ pages in booklet format).

Basically, if I can make enough for my wife to view this as a worthwhile endeavor, AND release it for free, I'll be happier than a clam. (My wife, bless her calculating soul, has not a whit of interest in gaming or what I do, unless it makes money or costs money.)

And finally finally....  I'm not a "natural" doodler. If you put a pen in my hand, I will scratch my head with it, and eventually start writing. I won't draw. My daughter's stick figures are more advanced than mine.
I have a masters in landscape architecture. I studied set design. I worked in construction for 12 years.
I can draft your ass off. And drafting is drawing plans. And plans are really maps. And I actually really really like drawing maps, but I forget it because when you put a pen in my hand, I write with it. So I'm going to try to remember that maps are awesome fun, and do more maps.

That's what it really boils down to. Those are my goals. Writing and mapping.  Stuff. Lots of stuff. Stuff I haven't even come close to mentioning yet. Awesome stuff.

Wicked cool stuff.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Table: Castle Encounters (Roll All the Dice)

First, a public service reminder that Secrets #1: Omens & Artifacts is available in PDF (at the store) or in print (see the sidebar).

Castle Encounters (Roll All The Dice)
(d4) Castle Lord
1. Magic-User (-1 on d10: Castle Type)
2. Cleric
3. Fighter
4. Fighter (+1 on d10: Castle Type)

(d6) Castle Purpose
1. Dwelling or None (folly)
2. Settlement Defense
3. Roadway Defense or Toll
4. Waterway Defense or Toll
5. River Crossing Defense or Toll
6. Border Defense

(d8) Castle Status
1. Ruined/Abandoned
2. Deserted (monsters)
3. Occupied (civilians/locals)
4. Fortified (monsters or bandits)
5. Fortified (outpost; -2 on d10: Castle Type)
6-7. Fortified (lord in service to local ruler)
8. Fortified (lord independent of local ruler)

(d10) Castle Type
1. Moat House
2. Tower
3. Monastery
4. Small Shell Keep
5. Large Shell Keep
6. Small Walled Castle with Keep
7. Medium Walled Castle with Keep
8. Concentric Castle
9. Large Walled Castle with Keep
10. Fortress Complex

(d12) Castle Surroundings Encounter
1-2. Castle servants
3. Castle lord or lady & entourage
4. Castle lord or lady sneaking out or in for secret rendezvous
5. Guardian monster
6. Beggar(s) looking for charity
7. Merchants or tradesmen
8. Knight
9. Pilgrims
10. Farmers bringing produce or livestock to castle
11. Castle patrol
12. Monster or force hostile to castle

(d20) Castle Features
1. Castle is magical or enchanted
2. Castle’s lord is magical or enchanted
3. Castle constructed of unusual materials (brick, living plants, iron, brass, horn, bone, crystal)
4. Castle is disguised as something else (different type, different status, natural feature, hidden by illusion, etc)
5. Castle is in conflict with another force (local conflict, rebellion, war)
6. Castle possesses notable feature or item
7. Castle has two or more lords (roll 1d6 and compare to Table 1: if result is 5-6, add one lord and roll again)
8. Castle has notable history, legend, or prophecy
9. Castle’s lord has notable history, legend, or prophecy
10. Castle’s lord is of a different race than expected (monster-fortified castle led by an elf lord; vassal hobgoblin lord in human kingdom; etc.)
11. A celebration is underway at the castle (birth, wedding, tournament, fair).
12. Castle’s lord is holding a hostage for political purposes.
13. Castle is a prison for a powerful creature.
14. Castle is laboring under a curse
15. Castle is a secret refuge for a persecuted sect, faith, clan, or race.
16. A tragedy is underway at the castle (murder, plague, flood)
17. Castle inhabitants are divided into different factions and engaged in a “cold” war just short of rebellion
18. Castle’s lord is absent and castle is in disarray.
19. Castle’s lord is not as seems (doppelganger; polymorphed dragon; monster)
20. Castle is actually a construct or living creature disguised as a castle (mimic; 500 stone golems; etc.)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Secrets #1 PRINT edition now available!! :)

Yes!  :)
The hardcopy, dead-tree, snail-mail version of Secrets #1 is ready!

Why should you buy? Because the hardcopy version has an awesome cover and you don't have to blow your ink cartridge on it.  Plus, you get a REAL piece of mail in your mailbox. That's cool. AND it comes with one of twenty different print-only magic items.  That's in addition to:

  • 24 spells;
  • 24 magic items;
  • 3 monsters;
  • the shaman, a variant druid class;
  • the shaman's spell list, including spells in this issue of Secrets;
  • and an introduction to the Shadowend.

The hardcopy alone is $4, or a hardcopy + pdf of the hardcopy edition (with the ink-blowing cover art, but no sticker on the pdf, they just clutter my screen) for $6. 
I will email  pdfs out regularly, but probably not immediately immediately as soon as you pay, because it's just me sending out emails, not some auto-return thing from Paypal, and I have to sleep n' work n' stuff. I do try to send them ASAP, though, so it'll probably be within 12 hours. I'm also online a lot, so it could be within 5 minutes.

INTERNATIONAL is the same price as regular. The cost differences are minimal, so I can swing it for now, particularly if you get the hardcopy + pdf, which will let you enjoy the pdf while you wait for the envelope.

To order, click on the Paypal button to the right.
Cover and first page of the revised version are pictured below.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Available Now! Secrets #1: Omens & Artifacts

Secrets #1 just went live at the Store. <--clicky de="" link="" p="">

There's a very good chance I'll have the print version ready to go sometime this weekend.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

30-minute map doodle

One thing I do is draw test maps. I have a concept in my head of how I want a particular area or region to connect and lay out, and I'll draw test maps until I can get how I want them. Usually those are doodles with circles and triangles, even more basic than the 15-minute from a few posts ago, but in this case I didn't think the details that I wanted to emphasize would show well in that style. I also wanted to test different ways of representing mountain ranges and forests; I haven't done most of this in years, so I'm a bit rusty.

The first image is the raw scan.

 The second image is after a few passes through Picasa to take the yellow out and tone down the grid.

If I were I "really" working on a map, I would've scanned this several times by now.  Somewhere in here I'd scan it, tweak it, and print it onto vellum for coloring.  Someday I'll learn photoshop coloring, but it's fast and easy to do it by hand.

This one isn't quite where I want it to be. The placement of almost everything is good, but I'm not sure about the mountain technique. I like the connected ridgeline, but I'm not sure it's quite conveying what I want. Time to browse the cartographers guild.  :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Zine - Secrets #1

OK, so here's what's up.  The races zine isn't done, but it's in good shape. I wanted to do _something_, though, so I pulled together the spells and magic items I've posted here in the past year or so, and made a zine out of them (this has been on my list too, just not very high up).

I added a few new magic items to get rid of white space, and my magic items from the OSR contest, and two creatures, including my submission for round #2 of the OSR Superstar.  With the OGL, it's a nicely stuffed 20 pages.

I'm going to put the pdf up for a small fee.

You can also get a physical, brought-to-you-by-a-mail-carrier, version.
Why? Because the physical zine will have MORE STUFF.
Why? Because it'll have a proper cover. Which gives me 4 extra pages: 1 for the cover, and 3 for more stuff. NEW STUFF.

I'm going to take a bunch (probably twenty) of new spells, or items, or somethings, and put them stickers. And then I'm going to put one of those stickers on a special blank space inside the zine. Because I think it'll be hilarious to have twenty different versions, and everyone can argue about whose is the best.

I need to figure out a few costs (postage, probably photocopying prices at Staples for the cover at least), and I might wait a little to see how long this round of the Superstar contest takes (since my entry is in the zine), but otherwise it's good to go. The pdf is done; I just need to finalize the bonus pages.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Table: Sons of Kaw

Presenting the Sons of Kaw. Because nothing says random NPC like the list of names in Culhwch and Olwen.

You arrive at the Court of Arthur seeking aid. Alas, everyone is out except for the sons of Kaw.  Which one(s) agrees to assist you?

Roll 1d4 to determine how many Sons of Kaw want to come. If a 4 is rolled, roll 1d4 again, subtract one, and add that to the initial result (4+ (0-3)). If a second 4 is rolled, roll a 3rd time (8+ (0-3)), and so forth.

  1. Dirmyg the son of Kaw
  2. Justic the son of Kaw
  3. Etmic the son of Kaw
  4. Anghawd the son of Kaw
  5. Ovan the son of Kaw
  6. Kelin the son of Kaw
  7. Connyn the son of Kaw
  8. Mabsant the son of Kaw
  9. Gwyngad the son of Kaw
  10. Llwybyr the son of Kaw
  11. Coth the son of Kaw
  12. Meilic the son of Kaw
  13. Kynwas the son of Kaw
  14. Ardwyad the son of Kaw
  15. Ergyryad the son of Kaw
  16. Neb the son of Kaw
  17. Gilda the son of Kaw
  18. Calcas the son of Kaw
  19. Hueil the son of Kaw
  20. Gwydre, the son of Llwyddeu & Gwenabwy (daughter of Kaw). 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fifteen-minute unfinished map.

Somewhere between a pictorial note to myself and a work-in-progress. Used to do a ton of these doodles, but haven't actually done one like this in years.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Best. Adventure. Ever.

A Fine Flerd Indeed

The small village of Fuly is renowned for its eels. Pies, stews, sausages – it seems like there’s no dish you can’t improve with a Fuly eel. In recent days, however, the flow of eels from Fuly has stopped, and the chefs of Amin are beside themselves. The Feast of St. Tondius is in a week, and without eels for the traditional dish, it’s just not worth the bother. Clearly something needs to be done.

The wizard Zurminus was a recent addition to Fuly. A plain and simple town, the people were duly impressed by the black-robed wizard and his hatchet-faced manservant as they strode around town acting mystical. Zurminus’s stone tower, a full three stories high, was erected over the course of a single month, with the assistance of a large band of ipotane laborers – clearly magically transformed giants, ogres, or dwarves. The tower stood for nearly six months until it was felled by a wizardly duel…or shoddy construction on a foundation of mud. In any event, the tower fell into the large moat-like ditch around the village, that separated Fuly from the fens, so no real harm was done...until the frogs appeared.

Zurminus, of course, was a hack. A low-grade mage with almost no ambition, his only talent and primary obsession was breeding frogs. He’d moved to Fuly to take advantage of the moderate climate and abundant insect life, and to raise frogs. The collapse of his cut-rate tower put an end to those dreams and his life (concerned characters may unearth Zurminus’s body from the bottom of the ditch, beneath the remains of his tower), but spelled trouble for Fuly as well. His frogs, a rare and mildly poisonous breed, were exposed to a combination of magical reagents and escaped into the wild. The reagents multiplied the quantity of frogs into the thousands before it became inert. As a result, Fuly is now isolated by a horde of tiny yellow and pink frogs that cause intoxication, hallucinations, and temporary skin discoloration (swirls of blue, yellow, and green). Eel fishing has ground to a halt.

The best and fastest solution is for someone to quickly bring in a flerd of ass-bitterns from the nearby village of Gibbil. The ass-bitterns are natural frog-eaters, hardy enough to resist the intoxication effects, and – as literal bird brains – don’t care about the odd and ephemeral skin markings. A flerd of 20-30 ass-bitterns can remove 90% of the delicious thumb-sized batrachians besiegers in a day, allowing eel-fishing to resume and salvaging the Feast of St. Tondius. But the Gibilians are hard bargainers, and they have want something in exchange for lending their flerd….

Asbittern: HD 2+1; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 bite (1d6), 2 hooves (1d3); Move 15; Save 16; AL N; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None.