Friday, 23 September 2022

BECMI Intelligent Swords

During a recent discussion on the NSR discord server the subject of intelligent magic items popped up, and I was immediately reminded of the rules for generating intelligent swords in the Frank Mentzer Expert Set.

Drawing of a  magical—possibly intelligent—sword by Larry Elmore

There are other, similar rules for intelligent swords in Moldvay. Seeing as this is the go-to old-school ruleset (and likely the basis for any similar rules in OSE or Basic Fantasy), I'm ignoring those. Likewise—as with my [positively ancient] post about dwarf clerics— this is a paraphrasing of existing mechanics. I'm not adding anything original here.

...and yes, it's swordtember, so I suppose the timing is germane.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Villainous Sidekicks


A villainous sidekick if ever I saw one

This was supposed to be several 1d100 tables spliced together, but I ran out of time. Enjoy my villainous sidekick generator, available below.

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Friday, 16 September 2022

What I write about when I think about Zedeck Siew (a poem called pome)


The image above is a spread from Mr Kr Gr (Zedeck Siew, Centaur).
Illustration by Munkao

The people of the old world made these as prisons for their gods. They made them beautiful, so captivity would sting.

Wear your gold bells, o Lord of Dances, and leap for our pleasure! Cherish your ruby garlands, o Lady of Loves, chained to our bed!

The old world was drowned by the river. But its slaves could not be set free. So they wander buried hallways and vine-choked pavilions – maddened, hateful, plotting.

- Mr-Kr-Gr (Page 20) by Zedeck Siew

Friday, 9 September 2022

What has that wise one got on their head?

Wise-ones and witches, sorcerers and summoners, ghost-talkers and spirit-walkers...

...they've always got something on top of their head.

Text from wikipedia: The Sorcerer is one name for an enigmatic cave painting found in the cavern known as 'The Sanctuary' at the Cave of the Trois-Frères, Ariège, France, made around 13,000 BCE. The figure's significance is unknown, but it is usually interpreted as some kind of great spirit or master of animals. The unusual nature of The Sanctuary's decoration may also reflect the practice of magical ceremonies in the chamber.[1] In his sketches of the cave art, Henri Breuil drew a horned humanoid torso and the publication of this drawing in the 1920s[2] influenced many subsequent theories about the figure.[3] However, Breuil's sketch has also come under criticism in recent years.[4] A single prominent human figure is unusual in the cave paintings of the Upper Paleolithic, where the great majority of representations are of animals.
Sketch of a drawing of The Sorcerer, a 13,000 year-old cave painting

(Even as I write this I realise masks would be much more interesting, but I don't want to jump on the bandwagon of the latest psychedelic mesolithic RPG, Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland CW: images are "AI generated")

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Sunday, 31 July 2022

Atop the Wailing Dunes: A PARIAH adventure for Zine Quest 4

Since the publication of GENIUS LOCI in June, I've been "teasing" hexes from the sandbox adventure ATOP THE WAILING DUNES.  However, this has been something sitting in my slushpile since last autumn, and I think it now comprises enough material to publish as a complete set.

Partially completed hex map of the sandbox

My original intention was to have PARIAH: CITY OF GHOSTS ready in time for Zine Quest 4, but owing to the commitments of my collaborators it won't be ready in time. However, with so much work already complete on Atop the Wailing Dunes, I thought it would be a good chance to release my little sandbox.

Here's the link to the Kickstarter, now live:

Monday, 25 July 2022

The Ikau Mangrove (a hex for PARIAH)

A four-page pamphlet mini-hexcrawl, part of an ongoing series.

This will be the last of these small-format individual hexes: I'm finding that I want to go into more detail with the actual hex features, but can't because space is being taken up by information repeated from elsewhere. When I put them all together in ATOP THE WAILING DUNES I'll be able to avoid this problem!

If you want a PDF of this to print at home or to use with a text-to-audio programme, it's free to download via

If all goes to plan, all 24 hexes (with additional notes for sites of interest) will be compiled into a zine for Zinequest 2022. Hope to announce that soon!


Blogposts in this series:

All the PDFs:

Saturday, 16 July 2022

Valley of Mui Eiru (a hex for PARIAH)

 I've been working on making the larger map for Atop the Wailing Dunes more legible, as well as building it up into a more comprehensive sandbox. As I go through, 6 mile hex by 6 mile hex, I'm sharing them here as A4 double-sided zinis, which you can fold enough to make a 4-page pamphlet.

As with previous issues, there is a small map with key to the front, and several paths crossing the hex. The back page contains additional flavour for wilderness exploration, and might provide a template for additional hexes. This is designed to printed on two-sides of A4 and folded in half to make a zini.

Thursday, 7 July 2022

Pariah character classes for OSE or Basic Fantasy

Made by Igor Gadreaud 

If you prefer to explore the implied setting of PARIAH with a more faithful old-school system (as hinted at in my previous post, a design analysis of my own game, it's perhaps worth giving the players something they can sink their teeth into. I'm more than a little wary of doing this, but in the words (paraphrased) of Skerples of Coins and Scrolls:
Writing a... class is easy. It meets what I'd call the "minimum creativity threshold". To write a wizard you just need about 20 decent ideas. To write any other kind of class you need between 4 and 10. It's not difficult to make a class based on any random idea you've ever had. It's also a lot easier to think of elements of a class than it is to, say, a fill in a d100 table or write a dungeon.  
It is known.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

PARIAH design notes (part 1)

On 22nd May I posted a still image of the prospective cover for PARIAH: Volume 2 and I'm sorry to report that I don't have any dates for when that crowdfunder is going to happen. However, I did * hint * at posting "a long-winded post explaining the major changes to my RPG design philosophy"

Hyperbole aside, I thought it might be useful to reflect upon PARIAH Volume 1 and the lessons learned as I prepare for the next crowd-funded project.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Spire... in 24XX?

Jason Tocci's 24XX SRD is probably the most fun rules-light frameworks around and has led to a proliferation of superb games that can be played with practically zero prep. For my sins, I released my own interpretation of the format (obviously with a Pariah spin) which is free to download here:

Combining my new-found obsession with the format with my ongoing 3-year fixation on Rowan, Rook and Decard's Spire: The City Must Fall, I thought I'd produce a 24XX interpretation of the game as a design exercise, Flèche (/fleɪʃ,flɛʃ/):

There's also a back page:

Monday, 27 June 2022


Having recently shared an additional hex for the Atop the Wailing Dunes sandbox (title: randomly generated) it occurred to me that I hadn't posted the second hex in the series, despite it being up on itch already. Anyway, here it is in JPEG format:

Sunday, 26 June 2022

I heard a rumour: seeding a sandbox


3 panel meme showing scenes from Umbrella Academy. panel 1, Number 5 says: "The World's Ending in 3 days!" Panel 2: Allison replies "I heard a rumour that it's not." Panel 3: end credits, entire series concludes thanks to Allison's reality-altering powers
A very silly superpower, now on Netflix. You might be better off playing Molotov College by WH Arthur

This post has nothing to do with Umbrella Academy, and everything to do with how to randomise rumour-mongering in a TTRPG sandbox. Sandbox in this context refers to any open-world campaign where narrative is emergent rather than plotted, though writing that maybe it's better to say it's "character plotted" rather than "player plotted". Anyway, another discussion, for another post.