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: