Tuesday, 31 December 2019

LIBRARY OF BABEL SPECIAL: THE TOP 5 POSTS OF THE YEAR

With the year drawing to a close in less than one minute (if you're on ICT, that is) it is perhaps germane to round things off with a summary of the blog posts that have really made me tick this year.

In case you haven't clocked it yet (and alarm bells should be ringing if you haven't), I'm making a number of "amusing" horological puns (in comedy timing is everything). There will be more: watch this space.

So here follows my top five blog posts of the 2019 OSR blogosphere.

First though, a disclaimer: this year marked a return to the hobby after a three year absence. My 2015 blogroll hadn't aged so well: some of them had become obsessed with making ill-mannered attacks against those with a passion for social justice, some had built paywalls around their content, others had simply given up. It took me a while to catch on, and I've still got a lot of catching up to do.

None of the blogs listed below were on my reading list at the start of the year, though this is obviously indicative of my own ignorance, as each is considered an OSR luminary. Indeed,  some even possess shiny awards.

Special mention should be made for https://www.google.com/amp/s/dragonsneverforget.wordpress.com/2019/10/16/3063/amp/ as it was their insane dedication to the art of RPGs in compiling this list if over 450 blogs. Incredibly, each entry has a description and, where possible, a current posting frequency. Such a labour of love can only inspire those who gaze upon it: it was this post that made me realise that I too should be doing my bit to develop the OSR blogging community, hence the birth of these Library of Babel posts.

But if we're going to talk about people with sincere dedication to the OSR blogosphere, it would be remiss of me not to mention Froth's Humpday Blog-o-Roma. Froth scours the blogosphere and records a weekly podcast summarising his own personal highlights, which are extensive to say the least. What's more, each episode is accompanied by a very thorough blogpost, with links to the material covered in the episode. The man is a champion of the hobby and deserves our respect and adulation! Or you could follow the blog and  also follow him at THAT OTHER PLACE

So, now that's all said and done, here are my personal highlights from the blog-o-sphere this year: no doubt you have your own, and I'd be delighted if you would share it with me below:

SECRET SANTICORN - A gift from Mr. Screw-on-Head to all of us....

Joining the OSR discord was definitely one of the best decisions I made this year, at least in this particular sphere of my life: it's been a wellspring of inspiration. Opportunities to cooperate and collaborate are constantly presenting themselves, most recently in the form of the Secret Santicorn: participants were invited to record their (RPG) heart's desire on a spreadsheet, then were randomly assigned other participants, for whom they attempted to fulfil said desire. As you may remember, I prepared not one but two GLOG classes (the JAzz Bard and the Aviator) for the (un)lucky Sherlock Hole, and you can catch up on all the enties thanks to Ancalagon, who has prepared a comprehensive (and still being updated afaik) list of this year's submissions here

The Saxons are coming! Argh!
So what did I ask for and which poor sap ended up with my ludicrous request? Well, one of my current "experimental" games is a mash-up of Spwack's Die Trying and my own OD&D house rules: sessions are short, and often disconnected forays into alien worlds (so far we've tried Ynn and the Stygian library and that's about it), and I thought it would be interesting to have them run around dark age Britain, prior to the Saxons but after the Romans fucked off: y'know, Arthurian times, but less shining armour and more wyrd faeries and mudmen (neither of which I mentioned in my request, because I'm perverted like that).

Mr Screw-on-Head did not disappoint.

Friday, 27 December 2019

X Edition of Library of Babel's Five on Friday

I say this each week without fail, in service to the greater blogger gods: read Froth's Humpday Blog-O-Rama and also Dragons Never Forget for the greatest OSR blogrolls currently available!

The Green Man. He is a man and he is green, which was fortunate for his parents who named him before he was born.
Yes, it's that time of year again, when we huddle together in our caves and praise the Green Man that the vengeful Ghost of Christmas Past has not risen from his grave to assault the Flying Spaghetti Monster with his heretical proclamations. You may have drunken the blood of your vanquished enemies from their own skulls, or you may have invited them for tea, biscuits and frank discussion: all told, this is my flippant way of saying that whatever faith (or lack thereof) you possess, I hope your celebration (or lack thereof) of the midwinter solstice (or the birth of Christ, or Hanukkah) has been suitably joyous!

The passing of one year and the advent of another is a time for reflection and contemplation, and I hope to submit a summary of my top five favourite posts of the year. For now, here is what I have been reading (and most enjoyed) this week:

Monday, 23 December 2019

Secret Santicorn 2019: 2 GLOG CLASSES

I entered the OSR discord secret Santicorn and was drawn Sherlock Hole of The Mimic's Nest. Their request was as follows:
Either a Jazz Bard (if Jazz is your thing) or something steampunk-y for a GLOG game- maybe an aviator class
Now, I don't run GLOG (I am, however, a public shill for its progenitor, Arnold Kemp), nor am I massively into jazz: nonetheless, I thought this would be a fun challenge.

Aesthetically though, I think I'm getting decopunk/ diesel punk vibes... apologies in advance Sherlock, Merry Christmas!


THE AVIATOR


You've seen their type before: always getting described as "handsome" or "dashing" regardless of their gender, in a tight fitting leather aviation suit, complete with goggles and flight cap. You've watched the facility with which they elide from one social situation to another. You've seen all the things that those others have seen, yet you don't swoon nor do you fawn over them; you have, however, seen something different in them... something that could be useful to you...

Friday, 20 December 2019

IX Edition of Library of Babel's Five on Friday

I say this each week without fail, in service to the greater blogger gods: read Froth's Humpday Blog-O-Rama and also Dragons Never Forget for the greatest OSR blogrolls currently available!

I googled Winter Solstice and got this.
Yule will soon be upon us (the winter solstice will be on the 22nd December). Just remember, it's always darkest before the dawn: a new year is coming. This is good: 2019 was the new 2016 for a lot of people...

MORE ANIMAL SPIRITS (continued)

Part 2 continued: Spirits in a Semi-Material World
series of posts about primeval spirits

I'm still looking to strike the right tone with all this animal spirits stuff, and I don't think I've cracked it yet, so brace yourself for some very rough around the edges stuff. As ever, your feedback is most welcome.

This is a follow up to my recent post about animal spirits. I thought I'd focus on a few individual animal spirits that PCs might encounter, corresponding with the kind of animals they will encounter in the fertile plains of the river valley.

There are just two entries, the Hyena Queen and Cat, with more to come. I've included stats and "dynamic" abilities to make them suitable boss monster encounters, if that's the kind of campaign you are running, but they might make better allies than foes for most parties.

HYENA QUEEN

This is a Magic the Gathering card designed by Winona Nelson

Of course, the spirit of the hyenas is female, though she is often worshipped as an androgyne  (owing to humans' poor understanding of biology, they often mistake the female hyenas terrifying clitoris for a penis). The hyena queen is aware of humans' clumsy categorisation and is indifferent: what she wants is for her pack to feed.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

SPIRITS IN A SEMI-MATERIAL WORLD: Animal Anima

Part 2: Animal/Anima
A series of posts about primeval spirits

A drawing of a fox in a cave in France from a really long time ago, before artists had patreon accounts.
ANIMA UBIQUITA
Everything has a spirit, everything has alive: even the cold, apparently dead rock has a soul. The pace at which the mountains move might be imperceptible to you, but to the sun and stars it is barely an eyeblink. Even the empty blackness of space has some kind of consciousness, it is said, by those who stare into the void for long enough to hear it speak.

So of course animals possess anima, it is barely worth mentioning. But the collective consciousness of dumb beasts can manifest as something much more interesting.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

SPIRITS IN A SEMI-MATERIAL WORLD

Part 1: Spirits in a Semi-Material World
A series of posts about primeval spirits


Real world animism: Dogon, an indigenous people of Mali,
ANIMA UBIQUITA
Everything has a spirit, everything is alive: and not merely in the way that you are used to thinking of things being alive. The stars move and respire, grow and reproduce: do they have life? Probably.

Friday, 13 December 2019

VIII Edition of Library of Babel's Five on Friday

Before we go on, just a public service announcement to say that Jeff Rients has let a lot of people down. I doubt that you have any idea who I am, but I've been a casual reader of your blog for about five years now and I'm incredibly disappointed in you. You're cancelled, Merry Christmas. 

You know who you DO need to read? That's right, Froth's Humpday Blog-O-Rama and also Dragons Never Forget for the greatest OSR blogrolls currently available!

It's Friday 13th! This is scary coz it's metal! This logo is Helsinki groove/thrash metal band XIII. I have no idea if they are good, but I'm 99% sure they're not fascists, which is good, right?
Here is the blog content you've been searching for. Little skewed towards classes this week...

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Ritual Magic - The Chosen Arrow - City of Ghosts

I have a lot of posts relating to City of Ghosts that are teetering on completion, sitting in the quantum draft state, neither alive nor dead. If this blog is not flooded with a surfeit of material over the festive season, may the spirits strike me down. One of them has to go first, and I decided it was going to be this one, probably the least complete of the lot.

It's about ritual magic, specifically the ritual of the Chosen Arrow.

Before Simba's dad became Darth Vader, he was a wicked shot.
It's super effective!

THE CHOSEN ARROW
A ritual

Friday, 6 December 2019

FIVE ON FRIDAY - LIBRARY OF BABEL VII

As ever, big shout out shout-out to Froth's Humpday Blog-o-rama and Dragons Never Forget's Great Blog Roll Call. Check them out if you want a more thorough example of what constitutes the vast osr blog-o-sphere.
Continuing the themed pictures, today is the day of St Nicholas.
St Nicholas was a 4th Century Greek Magic-User, pictured here with his spellbook.

Happy December, everyone... here's your weekly helping of steaming hot old school blog highlights:

Thursday, 5 December 2019

12 Reasons Your Tribe Doesn't Want You

Blogger, you officially suck. Luckily, this 19th Century female Fin warrior from the real-life historical Kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin) does not:


Play in City of Ghosts focuses on a band of pariahs forced to the very fringes of burgeoning human society by virtue of their exile. They are forced to seek shelter in the titular City of Ghosts, recently claimed by an individual calling himself "the first king of men", but shunned by many as it is believd to be haunted by the ghosts of its prior residents, the precursor civilisation of The Others.

Players control multiple characters, each one a pariah: after chargen, they have the opportunity to roll on this table to find out why their character was ostracised:

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Dawn of Worlds - Actual play, First Age

Dawn of Worlds is a world-building RPG available for free at the following link http://www.clanwebsite.org/games/rpg/Dawn_of_Worlds_game_1_0Final.pdf

HAVING RUN SEVERAL GAMES OF DAWN OF WORLDS, though never to "completion", the format has always struck me as being eminently suitable for play-by-post, and I had a few ideas about how that could be facilitated. I was fortunate in that Garblag Games graciously agreed to host one such game on their discord server, and was even joined by YouTube stars (!) Pete and Ben of Garblag.

The game fizzled out around the beginning of the third phase, but we managed to squeeze a lot out of the initial two phases, and I thought I would share some of those experiences here. The intention of this post is to detail the manner in which the game's rules were applied, as inspiration for others intending to run a game of Dawn of Worlds online, and also to initiate some discussion about the game.

Friday, 29 November 2019

FIVE ON FRIDAY - LIBRARY OF BABEL VI

I'll start with my regular shout-out to Froth's Humpday Blog-o-rama and Dragons Never Forget's Great Blog Roll Call. Check them out if you want a more thorough example of what constitutes the vast osr blog-o-sphere.

November 28th: International Mars Day
More weekly recommendations from the Library of Babel listed below. The current emphasis is on gameable content for the table, rather than actual play and theory. That may change in the future...

Friday, 22 November 2019

FIVE ON FRIDAY - LIBRARY OF BABEL V

I'll start with [what is to become] a regular shout-out to Froth's Humpday Blog-o-rama and Dragons Never Forget's Great Blog Roll Call.
20th November was Teacher's Day (here in Vietnam at least). This was a gift from one of my students.
More weekly recommendations from the Library of Babel listed below, now re-formatted so as to be contiguous with the first two post in this series. Emphasis this week, as with last week, is on gameable content.

I fucking hate the word content (noun... the adjective is nice).

Friday, 15 November 2019

FIVE ON FRIDAY - THE LIBRARY OF BABEL IV

Lest we forget - the November theme continues! Commemorate the dead but also let's build a peaceful future for the living;  also, remember that the majority of casualties of war are civilians, not soldiers.

AN EXCLUSIVELY "[the] DISCOURSE" FREE EDITION!

Friday, 8 November 2019

FIVE ON FRIDAY - THE LIBRARY OF BABEL III

Another November-themed image! This one is now a major motion picture! (and a weirdly right wing political pundit)
It's going to be short and sweet today, as owing to work I'm very late with this, but it is technically still Friday on Baker Island in the US Minor outlying islands.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

City of Ghosts: Character Generator

Currently working on a character generator using https://perchance.org/ for the ongoing City of Ghosts project. This  is hotlinked below, so changes will update here as they are made.


The main feature at present is the name generator, which I adapted into a vanilla fantasy name generator. The generator below currently just throws up a name, "true" name and the classic six stats, generated using 6 x 3d6.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Day 2, NaNoWriMo (apologies)

2

Jin proved to be neither as calm and collected nor as accomplished a driver as Mylar had originally surmised. The route which Jin had taken through the Steel City undulated up and down, and she seemed determined to drive the mule-rat just as fast on the upward slope as she did on the downward, causing the cart to lurch and jerk and stop and start and - occasionally - to pick up a great deal of speed. Whenever the beast reached the foot of a hill, it would slow down and pant, instigating frustrated lashings from its driver, as the cart seemed to become increasingly unresponsive to Jin’s desires.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Day 1, NaNoWriMo

1

It oozed out in a greyish-green cylinder before reaching a foot in length, whereupon it broke off and fell to the muddy path below with a loud splat. The stench of mule-rat faeces, while not unbearable, was certainly unpleasant, and Mylar wretched as she watched another cylinder of shit emerge from the creature’s anus. For the umpteenth time on her journey, she considered whether it would be more vomit-inducing to continue staring at the cart-animal’s rump or to look away and gag as the landscape around her rolled past at a steady trot. As the crown of yet another turd began to emerge from the mule-rat’s butt hole, she decided that yes, it was time to turn her face away.

FIVE ON FRIDAY - THE LIBRARY OF BABEL II

WHITE RABBITS!

by Ryohei-Hase



You don't follow the  tradition of praising the white rabbit at the beginning of each new month that contains the letter "r"? Well, now is as good a time as any to start: stare at the picture and say "white rabbits" and watch your worries wash away. When you're done, you may have a look at five blog posts I picked out as highlights this week:




Okay so one of the entries on my blog list is a list of blogs. What would really make this into a turtles all the way down type scenario would be if Monsters and Manuals then edited the list to include this post, and then some kind of toplogical paradox would be created, causing the internet to collapse in on itself and revert to its primordial form.
Failing that, this is a strong list: note that it contains Bat in the Attic's sandbox building post, which is perma-linked at this very blog (in "sandbox and worldbuilding resources" on the right-hand side), and has been since 2015, which is something like my own petty attempt to obtain some kind of validity in this ever-shifting landscape of creation and destruction.



GUNDOBAD GAMES
Looking for Feedback: Anybody Made a Setting Using My 'Settings with Strata' Method?

Speaking of sandboxes, Gundobad games is looking for feedback for their "Settings with Strata" method of building a fantasy sandbox. I've not tested it out yet, and I certainly don't think incorporating history into the worldbuilding process is especially original (see Bat in the Attic's method, above), but I do intend to try this out and provide feedback for the author. Gundobad Games is a blog written by a professional antiquarian historian, and their RPG output is strongly informed by their academic background. 
The author also produced Brazen Backgrounds, which contains twenty-four "period-appropriate backgrounds" and accompanying random tables, some of which I incorporated into myown sandbox campaign.
If the opportunity arises (and time is precious, owing to NaNoWriMo), Iwill attempt a run-through of the process and make a post on this site.


WHAT WOULD CONAN DO?
WARGAME DESIGN EXTERNAL BRAIN

This one gets a share because I'd be interested in seeing a few more people pick up this idea and run with it. I used to enjoy wargames, and it would be great to see it get the DIY treatment the way Old School D&D has over the past decade. I still have the chit-based wargame from Gazetteer Ten: Orcs of Thar (which I think may have used the same core mechanic as the naval combat game that came with Gazetter Four: The Kingdom of Ierendi, and no, neither of them used the BECMI mass-combat rules known as War Machine, although both gazetteers contained comprehensive army listings for their respective nations using War Machine Rules) and I may try to create a rip of that in the near future.
Anyway, have a look and see what you make of it. If it grants an extra incentive, this is the blog of the person who created Troika! which is suddenly ubiquitous, at least in the online spaces I currently patronise.


WAS IT LIKELY?
ORACULAR DUNGEON GENERATION AND THE PLEASURE PALACE OF THE MADMAN KING
https://wasitlikely.blogspot.com/2019/10/oracular-dungeon-generation-and.html

The random generation of dungeons has been at the forefront of my mind since my slowly-lumbering-to-completion project Keepers in the Dark began last month, and it was  with keen interest that I looked upon Was It Likely aka Screwhead McDuff aka Jones Smith's latest post about that very subject.
Unfortunately I have not yet been able to do a full run-through of the procedure (the author's example dungeon took more than three hours to create), but two facets that stand out are a) Jones Smith is keen for you to "...let... yourself become a medium [for/of] a creative process that exists outside of yourself " and b) the methodology pre-supposes a kind of user layering, which the author describes as a "force", and works in a similar way Gundobad Games strata method for sandboxes (in the very broadest sense).
Please have a look for yourself and let Jones know what you made of it. 

HMMM MARQUIS
DROW & LLOTH - A RETELLING OF THESE POISONOUS PEOPLE
http://hmmmarquis.blogspot.com/2019/10/drow-lloth-retelling-of-these-poisonous.html

To conclude, this week's juiciest offering comes courtesy of Marquis Hartis' brilliant mind. Here' he dissects worship of Lolth, the drow spider-goddess, in a sprawling text exceeding 6,000 words. If something of that length doesn't appeal to you, let's see if any of the following whets your appetite:

    1. A fresh interpretation of the drow, drawing thematically upon real-world Aztec culture (and I wonder if there was any inspiration from D&D BECMI Mystara's Hollow World Shadow Elves) , Patrick Stuart's Veins of the Earth, other (A)D&D Drow canon and (one suspects) the author's research into Babylonian magic (look upon thy list of miracles and weep!)
    2. An erudite interpretation of divinity the divine in a fantasy multiverse, extrapolated from the top down into cultural practices of a fantasy civilisation.
    3. Cool pictures of sexy scary dark elf ladies.
    4. Some of the most evocatively named magic to ever grace a spell list (actually, the author calls them miracles,a s their specifically for divine casters)
The last item is probably what really crowns this stupendous piece of work: if you want a quick taste, have another look at the same author's Bronze Age magic list http://hmmmarquis.blogspot.com/2019/08/commandment-magic-user-spells-based-off.html

Here ends the second Five on Friday. Have an inspiring weekend.

Sofinho
(DM in Exile) 

Thursday, 31 October 2019

November (National Novel Writing Month)

Samhain salutations!


A short announcement to warn you of what will be happening here throughout November.

Good new (If you enjoy reading this blog):
You will be treated to a post every day for the duration of the month!

Bad news (if you enjoy reading in general):
Each post will be the first paragraph of  that day's 1,666 word-splurge as I limp vainly towards the goal of writing my first novel.
Even worst news:
Most of the characters, setting and events remain undecided.

Slightly better news:
Many of those undecided factors will be determined randomly, using resources created by the OSR community! The "novel" will also be a dungeon delve, and though it's going to have a fairly vanilla arc (I'm not brave enough to spend a month writing everything completely randomly), it will have a hint of old-school flavour.

Not wanting to give anything away, I'll leave the obligatory see-how-the-sausage-gets-made post until after the event (December 1st). Until then, there won't be much gaming content here (apart from the Five on Friday and maybe the odd session report).

-Sofinho

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

City of Ghosts - A New Project


While work on Keepers in the Dark continues apace, another project is beginning to take shape and I want to jot some ideas here and now, in full public view, because I feel a frisson of excitement and wish to share that.

This new project is called City of Ghosts (working title) and is built upon the following core themes:

  • Dawn of a fantasy neolithic: humans transition from nomadic subsistence to sedentary settlements, all the while pillaging the ruins of a lost precursor civilisation (the titular city).
  • Troupe Play: Players control a band of outcasts, and work together to build a new community with its own customs, traditions and even language. The community building aspect was inspired by this post by Humza Kazmi
  • OSR GAME: At a tactical and exploratory level, play is very similar to OD&D or B/X, with some modifications. Significantly, it is classless and level-less, inspired in part by Spwack's Die Tryin' and Cavegirl's lateral character progressions, notably the wounded daughter and also wendigo sickness. However....
  • MULTIPLE TIERS OF PLAY: ...there are other levels to this game, which connect to the tactical level but operate with semi-independent mechanics, so in a sense they exist as their own mini-games. This includes the aforementioned community building game, but also negotiating with the spirit world, epic vision quests, and more mundane things like training a fledgling workforce (or working towards a world without work). All of this was inspired by the briefest of exchanges with Luka Rejec during a conversation about the 48 Hour Mega RPG Jam
  • One Stop Shop: Goal is to create a one-book game i.e. ruleset and sand box all together.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Keepers in the Dark: Lessons Learned (so far)

A recent post detailed the 48 Hour Mega RPG Jam, which this author entered. Voting has now concluded (Keepers-in-the-Dark placed 16th!), allowing me to update my entry for the jam.

I am going to keep posting this horrid logo until I make a different one.
This post was begun about a week ago so has undergone some revisions, as a consequence of  the psychic fermentation process. It is now skewed much more towards analysis of general design principles, which I think makes it more interesting (ha! as if I have any idea what is interesting!)

Sunday, 27 October 2019

GLAUCONS - (Creatures of a Darker Age No.1)

From the cold waters of the Old Sea to the murky depths of the Lake Ishmakh, legends abound of  aberrant creatures combining both dwelling beneath the waves and surfacing only to spawn and to feed. Across the known world, these legends take on my forms and terrifying shapes, yet none more frightening than the Glaucons... it is a terror born from a curious twist of fate: though these creatures despise humanity, their dependence upon us is total.

Illustration by Mani Vertigo

Friday, 25 October 2019

FIVE ON FRIDAY - THE LIBRARY OF BABEL

It's Friday!

It is where I am, anyway. After receiving some unexpected attention on Thought Eater's Humpday Blog-o-Rama it came to my attention that I probably wasn't doing enough to promote the material from which I regularly pilfer and steal ideas that I enjoy reading. This site does have a blogroll - the Library of Babel - but it's been sitting rather low down on the right hand column for some time now.

Left: google data centre thing; right: an illustration of Borge's Library of Babel, drawn by Erik Desmazieres.
Hahaha I'm joking! It's the other way around!
So, bearing in mind that I have no intention of replicating the humpday blog-o-rama's size, scope and level of detail, I thought it best to limit myself to reporting back on five posts each week. Obviously it would be contrarian to do this on Wednesday so... five posts every Friday? it's alliterative, which means it will be an instant phenomenon.  And to keep things mildly spiced, I'l make an arbitrary selection based upon the five most recent posts in the Library of Babel.

Actually, scrap that: if you want to view the five most recent posts in the library of babel, take a look at the right hand column of your screen. I've moved the blogroll up so that it's underneath the ARCHIVE IN EXILE and should be easier to find. If your blog isn't on that list and you feel as though it should be, let me know and I will add it.

INSTEAD, this new regular "feature" will highlight my five favourite bloposts over the past week, or between the current post and the previous post, whichever is most interesting. The plan is to make this a regular Friday occurrence but I have horrendous self-discipline when it comes to doing things that are actually enjoyable.

But before I continue... special mention must go to Dragons Never Forget for posting the most comprehensive and informative RPG blogroll I've yet seen. What sets this apart from the numerous google sheets and online lists (which have been very helpful, and I'm not disparaging them) is that the author has included A PARAGRAPH of descriptive text, alongside an approximate post frequency for 450 INDIVIDUAL BLOGS.

It truly is a thing of beauty. Read it here!


Okay, drums and bugles please! Hence commences the inaugural FIVE ON FRIDAY: BABELIAN LIBRARY!

~ ~ ~

CAVEGIRL'S GAME STUFF:
REVIEW - THE SHIVERING CIRCLE

This is the blog of award winning RPG writer Emmy Allen, the creative genius behind Gardens of Ynn, The Styggian Library and Wolfpacks and Winter Snow. Her blog, like all of my favourite blogs, is a showroom for Cavegirl's incredible imagination, as well as acting as an occasional devlog for her current projects.  
This post is different in that it is a review of an RPG resource by another author. It is a thorough and insightful review of a relatively obscure recent release, The Shivering Circle by Howard David Ingham. I won't go into too much detail, as I want you to follow the link and read it for yourself, then say "A mash-up of the occult and social realism set in contemporary rural Britain sounds fucking interesting, I'm going to buy that".  
This post was also one of three that I read this week that made me realise I should do more to promote the work of others to my burgeoning readership (the other two are linked above), so it is partially responsible for this post existing in the first place, which is not as elliptical as I'm trying to make it sound.
~ ~ ~

OF SLUGS AND SILVER:
PETIT ALBERT SPELLS: MORE TRANSLATED BY REQUEST
https://slugsandsilver.blogspot.com/2019/10/petit-albert-spells-more-translated-by.html?showComment=1571978222511#c8490327236513987903

This blog's author, Ancalagon, is quite active on the OSR subreddit and the OSR discord. Recently, they have embarked on a massive project: translating an eighteenth century French Grimoire of "real" spells once pored over by "real" practitioner of magic!
 The results veer between the fantastic and the mundane (many of them appear to be recipes) but a surprising quantity are "gameable". 
 This particular post details the making of a sleep lantern, a deadly miasma and a reliable travelling staff, amongst many others.
~ ~ ~

BOX FULL OF BOXES
DYING EARTH MONSTERS PART II - DEODAND
https://boxfullofboxes.blogspot.com/2019/10/dying-earth-monsters-part-ii-deodand.html

I'm cheating a little bit here as this post is over a week old but a) I am a big fan of Jack Vance's Dying Earth and b) the deodand has been randomly popping up here there and everywhere over the past few weeks, and if you've noticed this too, allow my confirmation bias to contribute to your Baader-Meinhoff effect! This post is about deodands, and when you've finished readung it, you should look up what a deodand means in Old English law: it's nearly as interesting as this post. 
 ~ ~ ~ 

GOBLIN PUNCH:
D6 DUNGEON MERCHANTS
http://goblinpunch.blogspot.com/2019/10/d6-dungeon-merchants.html

I will continue to advocate for Arnold Kemp for as long as he continues to write brilliant stuff and not be a dick, or until I am unable to do so. I have a weird notion that the latter will occur before the former. In other words, if you are yet to read his blog Goblin Punch (I seriously doubt that any of my readers fall into that category, but just in case), go there now and wallow in its grimy splendour.
 This post arrived as part of a cavalcade of October posts (as I write this, a fourth has just galloped in) after a quiet September. The post details six idiosyncratic encounters in the dungeon, ranging from scuttling dungeon bugs (possibly voiced by Gilbert Gottfried: someone said this online, somewhere, but I cannot retrieve their comment! Help me out!), to a sentient... rash(?) called Charlie Pox. 
It's fucking golden, is what it is. Treat yourself. 
~ ~ ~

THE HILL CANTONS
REGIMENTAL GOATS, BOUNTIES, AND FREE PASTURAGE FOR ALL: NEWS FROM THE HILL CANTONS RETURNS
http://hillcantons.blogspot.com/2019/10/regimental-goats-bounties-and-free.html

This morning I casually glanced at my feed and saw a new post by Chris Kutalik. The Hill Cantons blog was one of the first I started following, when I started this up nearly five years ago. Somehow recent posts from that blog have passed me by, so I actually hadn't realised it was still active: it was both exciting and nostalgic for me to witness a Hill Cantons post this morning. 
Chris Kutalik is the creator of What Ho! Frog Demons, Fever-Dreaming Marlinko, Slumbering Ursine Dunes, The MNisty Isles of Eld and, of course, the Hill Cantonsall available at this link. This post is an update of what is going on in the Hill Cantons at present, and gives a flavour of what is meant by pure Slavic/Vancian/Moorcockian acid fantasy.
 ~ ~ ~

Here ends the inaugural Five on Friday. Have a productive weekend.

Sofinho
(DM in Exile) 








Saturday, 19 October 2019

Creativity, Drugs,Temperance

WARNING: This is not going to be about drugs in RPGs. This is going to be about drugs in real life, or rather, what to do in their absence.

So here is your chance to walk away from a post that will be both a) deeply personal and b) barely mentions RPGs and the OSR. If you don't want to see life's dismal results, look away now!

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

The 48 Hour Mega RPG Jam

As I mentioned in this post: ...How Do you Guys All Know Each Other?, I recently took part in a 48 hour RPG design competition, failing miserably. However, it was a worthwhile exercise for the following reasons:
  1. I made a nice relationship generator, linked above.
  2. I was able to create my very own fantasy heartbreaker which, although I didn't finish, I'm continuing to work on.
  3. I got to find out about loads of interpreting TTRPG designers and have a glance at what they are capable of producing in a restrictive time period!
I set myself the task of reading and reviewing all 48 entries, and have elected to link them all below alongside a very short summary! Nearly all of these are free to download, but if you enjoy them or even get the chance to play them, give the designers a shout!

If you prefer an easier to read layout, try https://itch.io/jam/mega-rpg-jam/entries.

Monday, 14 October 2019

THE CRYSTAL SEAS, Episode 15:The Bishophtu Bath House Part Two

The party have travelled to the city of Nahemot on a mission of murder: Lila, the second wife Romani lord, Geta Shaoul, has ordered them to assassinate her former "friend", the wizard Kharzan. After a night of meticulous planning at the  local massage parlour and a morning spent staking out the bath house to formulate the perfect crime, the party instead decided to rifle through coat pockets in the cloak room resulting in ejection from the premises, bereft of clothing, and being pursued by a pair of angry guards. What now?
This instalment includes lots of material adapted or drawn directly from The Boswitch Bathouse by Arnold Kemp of Goblin Punch fame. Spoilers abound!  This post also summarises two sessions that took place on 15th and 22nd of September: apologies to my players, hope we can get back to the campaign soon!

22nd Sositi, Around Eleven AM
The party burst into the foyer of Madam Palfrey's Bathouse: Ursula and Analicia draped in modest bath robes (Analicia's being a stolen staff uniform) and Horace naked from the waist up, his modesty only preserved by a towel. Bolg has already rushed down the stairs to meet them, holding his magic cat, already aware of what has happened from his second floor perch.

Bolg is accompanied by a young girl, who urges them to follow her. They are led into a small, wood panelled room. The door shuts behind them. It is windowless and pitch dark. Ursula ignites a magical flame:

"What the fuck happened?"

No one says anything, the door opens, an unfamiliar young woman enters. She has brought their weapons from their room upstairs, and some dark-coloured robes. as the party thank her and get dressed, she seems impatient:

"Is it done?"

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

So uh, How Do You Guys All Know Each Other?

I recently tried - and - failed to write a complete RPG in 48 hourss part of Itch.io's MEGA RPG JAM. In fairness, I think I bit off a little more than I could chew, and wasn't able to devote as much time as I needed. Nonetheless, I had fun along the way and feel compelled to finish the task, and in doing so came up with a random party relations table that might be useful. 


The game is about humanoid minions trying to get by in a dungeon: carrying out tasks on behalf of their overlords, running rival lairs, feeding the monsters etc. If you want to take a look at the horrible incomplete mess I submitted, its here.

PCs begin as new arrivals in the dungeon, so I thought it would be fun to add a deceptively simple backstory generator to explain how the keepers know each other:

Saturday, 21 September 2019

THIEVES LIKE US (Humans: the character class, a WIP)

Really, there are only two classes: fighters and magic-users. They come in various flavours, shapes and sizes, but ultimately there are i) bags of hit points who are good at melee and ii) squishy one-hit-wonders who, given the right set of circumstances, might actually evolve into glass cannons.

"But what about ro-"

Shh.

I'm getting to that.

A picture by the creator of Dungeon Robber, the author of Blog of Holding

NORMAL HUMAN
Fighters and magic-users may be born or made, but they aren't lifestyle choices. One has to possess a very particular set of characteristics to fall into either camp, characteristics that most of us simply do not have. That does not preclude 'normal' humans from picking up swords or unlocking arcane mysteries, but they will always be journeyman rather than a master.

Monday, 16 September 2019

The Spectral City

This is not a mirage, though it is seen in the desert when one is desperate and weak.


Inspired by The Pilgrims in Jack Vance's Eyes of the Overworld.
Contains paraphrased passages and quotes from that work, not cited. Fair use etc.

First it comes for those on watch, whose eyes become uncontrollably heavy. They will close them - only for  a second - but that is long enough. When they open them again, they see that the desert is quite different from how they remember it.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

THE LOST CITY PART 9

Actual play adapted from module B4: The Lost City. Will contain spoilers.
Lost in the desert, the four foreigners (Luke, Kostas, Romulus and Xavi) have been whittled down to two by their fourth day in the pyramid above the city of Cynidicea: Kostas nurses an injured leg and Romulus has been inadvertently poisoned! The remaining members of the party were plotting with their allies when news came that the Cult of Zargon had cut off their supply lines to and from the underground city. Will they still proceed with their plan to depose Auriga? Will Xavi forgive Luke for the death of Romulus? Will Kostas ever drink wine again? Find out below (maybe)! Read the previous instalment here
Day 4, Continued...
After hearing the terrible news, Luke ventured that they call off their attack on Auriga and seek to unite against the common threat. The other two leaders were not convinced that Auriga didn't have something to do with it. The Madaruan ally, Helena, volunteered to scout out the chamber of worship, and to see if the Magi made an attempt to travel to the city, after Luke postulated that were AUriga behind the scheme, they would be able to do so unimpeded.

With time of the essence, Luke and Xavi escorted her through their secret entrance, and stood guard as the stealthy woman snuck into the chamber....

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

THE CRYSTAL SEAS, Episode 14... The Bishophtu Bath House part One

After a week of rest and recreation in Romani, the remaining party members are seeking the favour of the local lord, Geta Shaoul. They are to carry out the assassination of the sorcerer Kharzan, at the behest of Geta Shaoul's second wife, Lila. The party spent the night in a massage parlour with a good view of the local bath house, wherein they anticipate finding the wizard Kharzan.
This instalment includes lots of material adapted or drawn directly from The Boswitch Bathouse by Arnold Kemp of Goblin Punch fame. Spoilers abound! 



22nd Sositi

At dawn, the party decide to get breakfast at the local noodle house. They are shocked to see that the proprietors are the fat men they were spying on from the massage parlour the previous evening. They did not let the fact that they had already seen the men naked ruin their breakfast of fine noodle soup.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Old World Name Generator

I've been having way too much fun creating random generators over at perchance.org, having already begun the process of making a character generator for Garblag Games' GRIMDARK RPG.

I recently added a name generator to it, combining Saxon, German and Celtic names, not divided on gender lines (and many names being unisex), and thought I'd share it here.

Behold, the Old World Name Generator!

Saturday, 7 September 2019

GRIMDARK CHARACTER GENERATOR MK1

UPDATE: THE LATEST VERSION CAN BE VIEWED HERE
So here's a little experiment in random generation. This uses the GRIMDARK RPG system from Garblag gamesavailable free!


Image copyright © 2019 of Peter Lattimore.

Changelog:
08.09.2019 Background image and name generator added.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Three Peoples

A few weeks ago the perennial question of the role and nature of race in [fantasy] RPGs once more became prominent (mainly on Twitter but to a limited extent on the OSR discord), prompting this post. As someone with a background in social sciences, I have never been happy with the way the terms "race" and "class" are employed in RPGs: the latter term being a clunky legacy of OD&D that shows no sign of dying any time soon (and probably relates to the idea of "classifying" combatants, war game style), while the latter has a older provenance in fantasy literature, from JRR Tolkien's pen.

What follows is not an essay exhibiting any of my opinions on the subject directly: I think the two disparate currents in this debate are very well addressed by this Lyndsay Ellis video (Bright: The Apotheosis of Lazy Worldbuilding) and this reddit post by u/horcipotulree/
(TL/DR: The former is a dismantling of using fantasy races as real world racial analogues; the latter is an alternative approach to D&D's racial "essentialism")
..instead, I present three pieces of in-game lore concerning three entirely human races, and a conclusion which (I think) makes my opinion apparent.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

THE LOST CITY PART 8

Actual play adapted from module B4: The Lost City. Will contain spoilers.
Lost in the desert, four foreigners (Luke, Kostas, Romulus and Xavi) found refuge in the mysterious city of Cynidicea, joined the Brotherhood of Gorm and orchestrated a plot with the Sisterhood of Madarua. Now in their third day, the party continue to explore, in spite of losing Brother Theodosius to shapeshifting fox-people and Kostas nearly losing his leg.  The last instalment concluded with the bloody pulverisation of a pair of giant
tuataras. Read part seven here 

Aware of the sound of heavy breathing, the party dismiss the light cantrap and attempt to hide in the shadows. The heavy door flies open, trapping Luke behind, while Xavi and Romulus become aware of a dark lumbering shape squeezing through the door. Initiative is rolled!

Friday, 30 August 2019

THE LOST CITY PART 7

Actual play adapted from module B4: The Lost City. Will contain spoilers.
Lost in the desert, four foreigners (Luke, Kostas, Romulus and Xavi) found refuge in the mysterious city of Cynidicea, joined the Brotherhood of Gorm and secured an alliance with the Sisterhood of Madarua. Now in their third day, the party continue to explore in the hope of uncovering a way to get back to civilisation. In the large base of the pyramid, the party - accompanied by Brother Theodosius - happened upon a suspiciously charming pair of red-haired siblings praying before a statue of Madarua... read part six here.


DAY 3, END OF TURN 4 (just after dawn)::

The party rolls for initiative as the red-haired woman is evidently preparing some kind of spell!

Monday, 26 August 2019

THE CRYSTAL SEAS, Episode 13... Nahemot Nights Through the Eyes of Ursula

After a week of rest and recreation in Romani, the remaining party members are seeking the favour of the local lord, Geta Shaoul. They are to carry out the assassination of the sorcerer Kharzan, at the behest of Geta Shaoul's second wife, Lila. Ursula reflects on what they have gone through, and considers what they may yet face ahead.
(this "thirteenth episode" is actually our fifteenth playing session:
write-ups are sometimes smashed together when not a lot happens. 
Not a lot happened in this session...)

Like this but at night. Use your imagination, dammit.
21st Sositi
As the small sailboat glided across the dark of the Ishmakh lake, Ursula allowed her hand to trail in the water. Initially she had felt pangs of nausea: boarding the one-masted sail boat had reminded her of the unpleasant voyage across the Crystal Seas a month ago. Letting her fingers glide through the cool water somehow ameliorated her queasiness.

Looking to her demi-human companions in the faint light of the sailboat's sole lantern, she detected no outward signs of similar sickness. Indeed, her comrades seemed never to show much suffering at all. Perhaps it was in their blood. Like her, Analicia had been horrifically burned by the blue reptile (she hesitated to call it a dragon, it still seemed so unreal), and was still unable to wear clothing close to her body. Yet while Ursula had spent the week wallowing in pity at Rebekah's decrepit infirmary, Analicia had diligently plied her trade as a carpenter down by the harbour at Romani, and had hustled a handful of silver coins for her troubles.

Friday, 23 August 2019

THE LOST CITY PART 6 (LEVELLING)

Actual play adapted from module B4: The Lost City. Will contain spoilers.
Lost in the desert, four foreigners (Luke, Kostas, Romulus and Xavi) found refuge in the mysterious city of Cynidicea, joined the Brotherhood of Gorm and have been leading a recce into the pyramid in the hope of capturing agents of the fellowship of Usamigaras, teaming up with a party of prospecting gnomes. However, bruising encounters with spectres and gargoyles have left the party and their gnomish allies injured, and possibly trapped on the fifth tier of the pyramid... read part five here. 

Day Three - Goodbye Cicadia

When the party awoke, one of the injured gnomes was already looking fit and healthy. Xavi, too: though he was grateful for Luke's healing miracles. Romulus rubbed his eyes:

"Is it morning already? No blasted sun in this place."

"I would have though sun-up'll not be upon us fer another three hours at the very least son!"

After just two nights in the pyramid, the party's body clocks were beginning to get a little off kilter.

Friday, 16 August 2019

EZRA

The second in a series of city posts, begun with Nahemot.

For adherents of the New Temple faith, Nahemot is the most holy of cities: it was the site of his birth, and today houses his tomb. But the city that bears his name, Ezra, is home to far more of his followers, struggling to make his centuries old ideology in a changing world.

It is a fortified city with a strong military tradition. It stands at the crossroads of two major trade routes. It was once known as the city of 100 names. To foreigners it is known only as the city of noise, for it is a city without written language. To its inhabitants it has only one name, and that name is EZRA.

Egyptian Memphis Reconstruction - Ersatz Ezra


FIRST LOOK

The whiteness of it is blinding, especially on the southernmost side, where the albido effect has led to many a tired navigator ploughing his vessel into the whitewashed walls. They rise up to almost one hundred feet in places, even on the sides of the city facing the Inoko river.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

THE LOST CITY PART 5

Actual play adapted from module B4: The Lost City. Will contain spoilers.
Lost in the desert, four foreigners (Luke, Kostas, Romulus and Xavi) found refuge in the mysterious city of Cynidicea, joined the Brotherhood of Gorm and secured an alliance with the Sisterhood of Madarua. After successfully mapping the uppermost tiers of the pyramid, the party ran into a group of gnomes who agreed to assist them in a spot of tomb robbing. Sadly, one of the gnomes was slain by a mysterious shadow and the party are currently hiding in a secret storeroom on the fourth tier.... read part four here. 

Respite from the Undead
Luke convinced the gnomes not to retrieve the body of their fallen comrade until the coast was clear. Confused as to their location, which was the gnomes showed them the secret door in the wall by which they had initially entered, and led the party into a large, sparsely furnished chamber which now served as a bedroom. A white robe was draped over a single chair in front of desk, bereft of all but a wooden holy symbol of Usamigaras. 

The party conducted a thorough search, and uncovered a secret door in the same wall as the one by which they'd entered, on the far left. It opened into an identically sized chamber, but  contained a large tapestry of a desert scene and a treasure chest., which the gnomes immediately began to inspect for traps. One of the gnomes grew distracted...

"Is that tapestry.. moving?"

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Tactical Solo RPGs (Three Concepts)

Space Hulk I'm sorry, come back to me!
The box itself was fucking enormous.
So someone made this post in the RPG design subreddit today, which I have copy and pasted below:
Let's come up with some ideas for how to craft a tactically-focused RPG that an individual may play solo.
How do you get a player to feel like they have meaningful planning and execution options while still creating interesting and surprising resolutions? Tactical RPGs tend to require multiple brains working in cooperation and contest to make things interesting... Solo games tend to be theater [sic] of the mind / choose-your-own-adventure... How do we flip both those things on their head? How do you provide a tactical experience without overloading a solo-player that doesn't have a GM to bounce off of?
Rules: You don't have to design an entire system, just spitball some ideas for the concept. No real rules other than that.
...and immediately I thought of Space Hulk (pictured! above!) and how sad it makes me to think I no longer own that great big box and all the miniatures and interlocking corridors... because I spent many, MANY hours playing that game, by myself (admittedly with the rules for solo play provided in the Deathwing expansion boxed set) and I made this reply:

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Sorcerer of Thrane

This is a playable sorcerer class I have had running around my head for a little bit. If you would like to skip the fluff and bite down into the crunch (although I'm not sure that's how you eat cake), you can find a dedicated, B/X compatible page here: 


If you like the some of the fluff but play a more modern system (5e, Pathfinder etc.), consider using your preferred sorcerer class but with the bard spell list.

Special note: the hit dice as spell dice mechanic was in part inspired by the GLOG, and you can read the original notes on spellcasters here


SORCERY IS BLASPHEMY

Throughout the territories within the iron grip of the crusading New Temple, the practice of all magic is criminalised as witchcraft: it is devilish, blasphemous, and punishable by burning at the stake. However, many of the Thranian families of Nahemot continue to practice sorcery in secret, whilst outwardly professing obedience to the tenets of their Kyran overlords' faith. Like their Kyran cousins, the Thranes have a strong oral tradition and their arcane traditions have withstood the New Temple's purge of literature and literacy.