Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Level Ranges of Advanced Adventures

James over at Grognardia has just done a level analysis of the classic modules. He's come to the conclusion that there was an abundance of entry-level mods (1-3) and one of higher-level mods (9-12). This got me to thinking about the level ratio of our Advanced Adventures so I whipped up a spreadsheet and arranged them by level (please excuse the poor graph below, I don't know how to make tables at blogger).

Advanced Adventures #22: Stonepick Crossing                                  1-3
Advanced Adventures #1: The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom    2-4
Advanced Adventures #7: The Sarcophagus Legion                            2-4
Advanced Adventures #13: White Dragon Run                                   2-4
Advanced Adventures #5: The Flaming Footprints of Jilanth                3-5
Advanced Adventures #17: The Frozen Wave Satsuma                      3-5
Advanced Adventures #23: Down the Shadowvein                             3-5
Advanced Adventures #24: The Mouth of the Shadowvein                 3-5
Advanced Adventures #19: The Secret of the Callair Hills                  3-6
Advanced Adventures #9: The Lost Pyramid of Imhoptep                 4-7
Advanced Adventures #15: Stonesky Delve                                     4-7
Advanced Adventures #21: The Obsidian Sands of Syncrates          4-7
Advanced Adventures #12: The Barrow Mound of Gravemoor         5-7
Advanced Adventures #3: The Curse of the Witch Head                 6-10
Advanced Adventures #6: The Chasm of the Damned                     6-10
Advanced Adventures #10: The Lost Keys of Solitude                   6-10
Advanced Adventures #14: The Verdant Vault of Malakum           6-10
Advanced Adventures #20: The Riddle of Anandi                          6-10
Advanced Adventures #4: The Prison of Meneptah                        8-10
Advanced Adventures #8: The Seven Shrines of Nav'k-Qar           8-12
Advanced Adventures #16: Under Shattered Mountain                  9-12
Advanced Adventures #11: The Conqueror Worm                       10-14
Advanced Adventures #18: The Forsaken Sepulcher                    10-15
Advanced Adventures #2: The Red Mausoleum                           12-15

Breaking that down into low level (1-4), mid level (5-8), and high level (9+) we've got 4 low level adventures, 5 mid level adventures, 5 mid-to-high adventures, and 6 high level adventures. I termed mid-to-high as those that straddle the range, typically 6-10 for us.

What does that show? I think, more than anything, it shows that the writers (we have 8 different so far) who have been writing our adventures have a broad range of level interests but that they favor mid and high levels over low levels. What we do have is a noticeable lack of introductory adventures (1-3). Even though there are many classic adventures for that level (perhaps more than any other) I would still like to correct that weakness in our line.

This could become quite an interesting OSR study, were *all* of the modules from the many OSR publishers included to see how the OSR is providing support to gamers as compared to the original support. Hrm...

I'm 6th-Level

A 6th*-level blogger, that is. According to the famous listing at From the Sorcerer's Skull, I just made Maven level. Looking at that list, it looks like he needs to add a 10th-level now, perhaps name-level. :)

Thanks to all of you who read my wee blog. Hopefully I'll soon achieve 7th-level so I can get some 4th level spells. I really want Wizard Eye. :)

*I"ve been doing so much layout recently that I immediately looked for the superscript button when I typed this. Ha!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

8th Aniversary Sale Almost Over

Just wanted to remind everyone that our big PDF sale is almost over. If there was something you were looking at, now's the time to buy. Until the end of March, all our PDFs for sale for 50% off at Your Games Now, Rpgnow, E23, and Paizo. Only today and tomorrow left.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tome of Tomes

One more time, with feeling... :) Thanks to austrodavicus for pointing out I'd already posted the last one. *oops!*

Talbot’s Grimoire
Author: Arthur Talbot
Race: Human
Dimensions: 8x10x4
Weight: 6 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Very rare
Fields of Study: Supernatural & unusual
Special Knowledge Categories: Dweomercraft
Value: 1,000 gp; 1,500 gp with binding spell

Talbot’s Grimoire is a dark tome, sought by those who wish to deal with hell or the abyss. Written in code (requiring a 15 Intelligence to decipher) Talbot’s Grimoire contains within descriptions of all the layers of hell as well as several of the abyssal layers. Additionally, and in a code-within-a-code (requiring an 18 Intelligence to decipher) it contains the names of 10 greater demons/devils. Finally, complete and true versions contain the 8th-level magic user spell binding. As one would suppose, the 10 greater beings named within this tome are attempting to eradicate all copies of the work…

Tome of Tomes

Another in the series...

The Music of the Tribes of the Snawbileft Mountains
Author: Bylar Fundy
Race: Human
Dimensions: 6x5x1
Weight: 1 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Very rare
Fields of Study: Humankind
Special Knowledge Categories: Arts & music
Value: Version A, 650 gp; Version B, 250 gp; Version C, 150 gp

A rare and valuable volume, The Music of the Tribes of the Snawbileft Mountains is perhaps the only written record concerning the music of the many tribes of that mountain range most high. Bylar Fundy, a bard of great prowess spent most of his final years traveling throughout the Snawbileft recording the music of over 30 different tribes. There are three distinct lineages of the work, called versions A, B, and C. The A version is a true copy, version B has many errors in transcription of musical notation, and version C is as B with the addition of more songs of an unknown provenance by an unknown author.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Down the Shadowvein

Just put the finishing touches on Advanced Adventure #23: Down the Shadowvein. This one is a follow up to Advanced Adventures #1: The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom and precedes Advanced Adventures #24: The Mouth of the Shadowvein. AA#24 is about 20% done right now. I think people are going to have a lot of fun with these. They're a low-mid level descent into the underearth. My favorite area in #23 is called The Snide Dungeon

Here's a player's map. I think you'll see what paradigm the modules are designed under.

Death Head

Death Head
Mutated hyena (Ultra)
C7 A5 S8 F7 R2 I6 W12: Ego 54: Health 54: Fortune 47
Movement 15/132

Description & Information: Death heads are solitary creatures most commonly found on great plains or savannas. A truly  rare creature below the shattered moon, death heads are actively avoided by any reasonably-sane creature. Physically, they look like something between a lion and hyena, but their heads resemble an overly-toothy baboon with pearl-white eyes. Although possessing a powerful bite, it’s the eyes that sensible muties fear; for the eyes are death.

Intrinsic Powers
• Possess senses greater than human, +2 to sense conflicts.
• Death heads are preternaturally agile, reacting to reduce damage - all Health damage is reduced by 2 points.
• Death heads attack with a strong bite, dealing +6 piercing damage per hit and a +2/ rank 10 combat condition.

Limited Use Powers
• Death (6 per day): Six times a day, a death head’s eyes may flash with sizzling red targeting a living creature within 60 ft. If the attack is successful, the target must succeed on a rank 20 Willpower conflict or begin dying.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Un-seriousness

If you haven't had a chance to see That Mitchell and Webb Look, try and find it. It's a British comedy duo that, IMO, are quite brilliant. Below is one of my favorite clips of theirs, it just builds and builds.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Potions are consumable, one-shot artifacts in Sorcery & Super Science!. They’re often the first things a sorcerer makes after discovering his power, but they are also quite capable of impressive results when crafted by a master. Any liquid is suitable for making potions and many people believe that special, secret ingredients and preparations are required, but potions are made just like any other artifact with one special difference: a spirit can be transferred from any object containing a spirit into a potion during the potion-creation process. For example, a sorcerer has a normal black pearl in which he has placed two spirits with hopes of eventually creating the artifact called a black pearl. Instead of finishing his project, the sorcerer could transfer one of those spirits into a potion.

Potions contain no Fortune. Drinking a potion is an attack action.

Potion of Awareness (I) 5; Value 250
Spirit: P (I) 5
Description: For the next hour, the drinker of this potion knows that something bad is about to happen 10 seconds before it does.

Potion of Bountiful Harvests (I) 2: Value 100
Spirit: E (I) 2
Description: When poured over a plant, that plant produces twice as much food as normal without any ill effects. The bountiful harvest lasts for the life of the plant or 5 years, whichever is shorter.

Potion of Bubbly Mouths (B) 1; Value 10
Spirit: D (B) 1
Description: For the next hour, whenever the drinker speaks, masses of soap bubbles spew from his mouth.

Potion of Bushy-Tails (B) 1; Value 10
Spirit: E (B) 1
Description: This potion removes the need for sleep for 24 hours. If more than two of these potions are quaffed in a week, the user falls into a deep sleep, lasting 12 hours. The sleeper cannot awake during this period.

Potion of the Camel (B) 13; Value 130
Spirit: E (B) 13
Description: This potion removes the need for water for three days.

Potion of Chickens (B) 1; Value 10
Spirit: D (B) 1
Description: Those who drink this potion act like a clucking chicken for one minute.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Old School Renaissance Group blog and Gen Con GM support from XRP

Heya all, we have three things to talk about today. Busy day. :)

Firstly, I've started up an Old School Renaissance Group blog! This blog will have information concerning the OSRG booth at Gen Con. I'm very excited to be part of helping bring the OSR to GenCon and I thought a centralized location of information would best serve all of us. So drop by and subscribe to the blog to keep up-to-date about what's going on with the OSRG at Gen Con.

Secondly, Expeditious Retreat Press is looking for more tourney judges at our 1e Gen Con tourney this year featuring the Advanced Adventure The Obsidian Sands of Syncrates. We've got two GMs so far, but I'd love to have more, as there always seems to be more players wanting to play 1e at Gen Con than we've got GMs. Our tourney GMs get a free signed copy of the tourney adventure along with an additional free copy of an Advanced Adventure of their choice that they can pick up from the Old School Renaissance Group booth.

Thirdly, here's a deal if you're interested in running any other of our Advanced Adventures at Gen Con 2011. Let me know which Advanced Adventure your running and I'll send you a free PDF copy of that Advanced Adventure and we'll also give you a signed copy of the Gen Con 2011 tourney adventure, The Obsidian Sands of Syncrates when you drop by the Old School Renaissance Group booth at Gen Con.

So please contact me at and we'll get more old-school gaming going on at this years Gen Con.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Someone won the internets today...

The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope has just posted the most awesome picture I've seen in quite a while. Just epic win, IMO. I have to pass it on, in case anyone missed it. Put a smile on my face and hopefully it will on yours as well. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

8th Anniversary - 50% off all our PDFs!

8 years ago today, Suzi and I officially started this crazy rpg publishing business by releasing our first PDF, A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe. Throughout the next 8 years we've managed to create over 180 PDFs supporting 1e, 3e, 4e, Pathfinder, and last year we created our own game and system, Sorcery & Super Science. It's hard to express how much I love what I do. I'm immensely satisfied to be able to pursue what I enjoy as a vocation.

So, until the end of March, we've put all our PDFs for sale for 50% off! It's our thanks to all of you for all of your support throughout the years. You can buy them at Your Games Now, Rpgnow, E23, and Paizo.

Thank You!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Show, don't Tell? No, Tell, then Show.

Zak (at his blog *NSFW*) has made the assertion that he thinks writers of a campaign setting for an rpg should show the reader what is going on rather than tell the reader. The idea of show don't tell is one stemming from literature. For a workable history, check out the Wiki page about it. I'm going to disagree with Zak in this post. Please take it as just that - a difference of opinion about a subject that is, frankly, not really that important in the scheme of things, and not an attack on Zak. I hope that my differing opinion about the subject is of interest to the reader. If you haven't read Zak's post, please do so - it will make my comments make more sense.

My primary disagreement with the show, don't tell viewpoint stems from the fact that we're not writing literature - we're writing text books. RPGs are textbooks, instruction manuals, self-help guides.... not literature. There may be literary interludes to "set the mood" of the area under discussion, but in the end, the entire purpose of the work is to function as a source of instruction on how to perform an action - the gaming.

My secondary disagreement comes from his example using the Eye of Vecna "Seldom is the name of Vecna spoken except in hushed voice, and never within hearing of strangers, for legends say that the phantom of this once supreme lich still roams the earth..." To me, that's a perfect example of why you should Tell the reader about the setting. That's not a Show example, IMO. That doesn't "allow the reader to experience the story through a character's action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the narrator's exposition, summarization, and description." It is an exposition, summarization, and description.

My tertiary disagreement is with his using a table to world-build.  Every example of a table used to world-build would be greatly enhanced by a a few sentences Telling how the "Clanward Barrens are different than the Skarrblown Marches" before one Shows the difference via the encounter tables. Only showing the tables without a sentence or two can work, but it also can fail miserably, because of the nature of show vrs. tell.

Showing is used to make a situation more lifelike and dramatic. It does that because it relies upon the reader/viewer to interpret the information presented. The reader/viewer has to determine what's going on, what's important, because he is not being directly told. This makes a situation more life-like because this is what all of us do on a daily basis as we interact with the world. The only reason why Showing is preferred over Telling in the arts is because it is unclear. The deliberate use of subjective material in art provides the illusion of reality. It's the artistic version of the word often applied to rpg campaigns - verisimilitude.

I think Zak is really interested in embedded worldbuilding, building a world through piece-by-piece description around an object, monster, or location primary composed of rules. I think his real complaint is with "interchangeable mundanities" of a setting not with the medium in which they are explained. I think he wants an interesting setting explained in smaller pieces built around game-important information. He wants embedded worldbuilding, not multi-page descriptions. In this, I fully agree. I prefer no more than few pages of "overall" information before the setting is explored in small bite-sized bits around game-important information. It's my preferred method of world-building for many of the reasons that Zak elucidated.

However, I think that one should Tell, then Show. In the end, this may be more a semantic difference, but I think it's one worth pointing out. I think that telling the difference between the "Clanward Barrens" and "Skarrblown Marches" and then showing the difference is the best way to go. That is not unclear.

A Visual History of Science Fiction

I love maps. Although this (click on the below image at the linked site for the larger versions) is not really a map, it has that same feeling for me - tons of information tightly packed and easily readable. Even if one disagrees with the placement of some works, the illustration works wonderfully to get one thinking about how nothing exists in a vacuum. Except dust bunnies and a guy with an accent mumbling something about cyclones... :)

Monday, March 21, 2011


Another mount from Malevolent & Benign. Art by Claudio Pozas.


SIZE: Large (12 ft. long)
MOVE: 150 ft.
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Immune to poison
LEVEL/X.P.: 3 / 75 + 3/hp

General information: Droth’yar are swift, two-legged herbivores, used as mounts and beasts of burden. Droth’yar are highly adaptable, and several different breeds have evolved in different regions. Those found in arid lands are leaner and have longer legs than most, while droth’yar in areas with particularly harsh winters have been known to grow sleek coats of fur. All droth’yar are strict herbivores and regularly survive on plants poisonous to most species.

Droth’yar herds are usually led by a single dominant male. During mating season (the timing of which varies according to breed), droth’yar establish dominance by butting heads. Two competing droth’yar will fight until one dies or flees from the battle. In domestication, droth’yar are used to help plow fields, pull chariots, and transport goods between cities. They are occasionally used as mounts for soldiers, when more powerful exotic beasts are unavailable or too expensive. Droth’yar have a life expectancy of about fifteen years.

If encountered in their lair, there will be a nest for every two droth’yar. There is a 50% chance that there will be 2-12 eggs or young lizards of 25% to 50% maturity. The eggs are worth 25 gp and young droth’yar can be sold on the market for 50 gp each. An adult trained for riding typically sells for 100 gp while one trained for war sells at 200 gp.  Wild droth’yar only fight when cornered or defending their young. Droth’yar trained and bred for war are somewhat more vicious, but even they often require urging from their riders to fight.

Physical description: A droth’yar resembles an oversized lizard, bearing two thick legs but lacking forelimbs. Its head is vaguely draconic and sports a large horn which curves back toward its tail. Though a droth’yar walks upright, it keeps its neck lowered to help maintain its balance. Its tail drags behind it, nearly the same length as its body. An adult droth’yar stands about 6 feet high and is 12 feet long from its head to the base of its tail. Droth’yar have tough, mottled hides, colored in earth tones. They typically weigh in excess of 1,000 pounds.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Un-seriousness

Since a lot of us get older gaming material from e-bay, here's a wee ditty by Weird Al (a musical genius, FYI)...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tome of Tomes PDF for sale!

Tome of Tomes is now available at Your Games Now and Rpgnow. It contains 100 tomes ranging from the magical to the mundane, from the common to the unique. It is a compilation of books that could be found on a sage's shelf or on the shelves of a city library. Each tome is described and  classified  according to field of study and special knowledge category (if applicable).

I'm going to keep Tome of Tomes as a running blog feature, but for those who want all of them together along with a random generation table, the PDF's for you. The PDF is 18 pages long (over 11k words) and only $3.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blight Belcher

From Malevolent & Benign and suitable for all 1E games... Art by Claudio Pozas.


SIZE: Large (20 ft. long)
MOVE: 30 ft., swimming 120 ft.
DAMAGE: 1-4, 1-4, 1-12
LEVEL/X.P.: 4 / 230 + 6/hp

General information: Blight belchers are equally at home on land, in salt water, or in fresh water. Their powerful tails help them maneuver in the water, while their short stocky legs allow them to move through sand, soil, and mud. Though typically found in salt water, blight belchers enjoy bathing on beaches, rolling in mudflats, swimming up inlets, and hunting in fresh water as well. Blight belcher jaunts on land eventually lead to water, lest their scales dry out.

Blight belchers are typically docile unless they are hungry or other creatures threaten their territory. Besides attacking with bite and claws, blight belchers also unleash a noxious gas once per day that works equally well underwater or on the surface. The gas cloud is 10 feet in diameter. If a blight belcher uses its breath weapon underwater, it rises up to the surface and engulfs all within a 10-foot radius directly above the blight belcher. This causes small boats to capsize, as the water that was holding the boat is displaced by the gas. Any creature failing a save versus breath weapon falls to the ground retching and gagging, unable to act for 2-5 rounds. During this period they receive no shield or dexterity bonus and may be attacked at +4.

Young blight belchers can be trained to serve as mounts. The advantages of a blight belcher mount are threefold; they can be goaded into using their breath weapons against foes (25% chance for non-war-trained belchers); they can move on land as well as in the water; and they make excellent trackers due to their acute sense of smell, which is equal to that of a hunting dog. If encountered in their lair, there is a 10% chance that there will be 2-8 eggs or young blight belchers of 25% to 50% maturity. The eggs are worth 50 gp each, and young belchers can be sold on the market for 200 gp each. An adult trained for riding typically sells for 400 gp, while one trained for war sells at 800 gp.

Physical description: These 20-foot long amphibious  beasts look like a giant cross between a salamander and an alligator. They have green-brown scales, short, stocky legs, and muscular tails.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Singing Sand

This makes me want to write an adventure called The Singing Sands, in which the sand's singing the only non-mystical thing going on... :)

Time Weed

Another creature/danger below the shattered moon...

Time Weed
Mutated grass (Basic)
No statistics

Description & Information: A mutated form of dandelion, time weeds are endemic throughout the temperate areas below the shattered moon. These innocuous weeds disturb the time flow in their vicinity, rendering technology of Advanced or Ultra thresholds useless. Some communities work to destroy these plants, while others deliberately seed them as protection from technological weaponry. Drinking time weed tea is highly intoxicating, resulting in wild hallucinations for up to 6 hours.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blood Burrs

A new critter/danger below the shattered moon...

Blood Burrs
Mutated grass (Basic)
No statistics

Description & Information: These innocuous looking burrs are common during late summer and early autumn on the grasslands of the world below the shattered moon. They are large, roughly an inch in diameter and dark brown in color. Believed to be a mutated form of genetically-modified grass specifically resistant to pesticides, the blood burr is a constant worry to travelers. Traveling during the night through unknown territory is the most common cause of a blood burr infestation.

Any creature walking through a patch of blood burrs will find their legs coated by the clingy pods. If they are not immediately removed (within half a minute) they release an anesthetic and drill into their host’s body, sucking out the blood within. A mild infestation of blood burrs lowers the victim’s maximum Health by one per day. A more severe case can result in the loss of half a dozen or more Health points per day. After draining a total of 5 Health a single burr will drop from the host and germinate into a new blood burr plant.

Attached blood burrs can be burned off without injury to the host, but tearing them off results in 5 Health damage for a mild case and 10 for more severe cases.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Formula Folio

Here's two ink recipes for clerical scrolls.

Protection from Evil
For the ink required to scribe a clerical protection from evil scroll

1 oz. of giant octopus ink
1 oz. of holy water
1 oz. of silver, powdered

Perhaps the easiest of all clerical recipes, simply mix all three ingredients in a crystal vial upon the holy altar. That’s all. Makes enough ink for 2 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Purify Food & Drink
For the ink required to scribe a clerical purify food & drink scroll

1 oz. of giant octopus ink
1 oz. of holy water
1 oz. of gold, powdered
A tear from an honest man
A pot of urine

Over an oak flame, mix the ink and the holy water and bring to a boil. Transfer to a crystal flask and place in the pot of urine for 7 days. Remove, clean, and decant in a golden vessel upon the holy altar. Mix in the tears and the gold and return to the crystal flask. Place flask back into the pot of urine. Remove once all the urine evaporates. Makes enough ink for 2 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What Pi Sounds Like

As I'm sure many of you know, today is Pi day! To celebrate, below is a video of one musician's interpretation of pi. I think it's enchanting.

Tome of Tomes in PDF form

I've finished 100 of these books for stuffing libraries and am in the editing stage right now. Should have a Tome of Tomes PDF up for sale in a week or two. Hopefully this will good news for those who've asked for a compilation of these volumes. Another from the series...

The Noble Hippogryff
Author: Scowray Reeker
Race: Human
Dimensions: 8x10x1
Weight: 2 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Common
Fields of Study: Fauna
Special Knowledge Categories: Avians, mammals
Value: 50 gp if fake; 300 gp if real

This work always fetches a high price from nobility, for it provides insight and guidance upon the capture and care of the hippogriff. Scowray Reeker was the highest winning hippogriff champion at the great circus maximus in ancient Dafanas and his knowledge of the capture, care, training, and controlling of the noble hippogriff was unparalleled.  The great demand for the work has resulted in many fakes which, although marginally usable, are worth much less.

Reading and digesting the contents of this book requires a month’s time. After this time the reader may train a hippogriff for riding even if they never have before. For those possessing a real copy (Rare), the book grants the reader additional benefits: the reader is treated as if his AC was 1 better, as he is well aware of hippogriff combat and hunting tactics and it allows a hippogriff trainer to reduce total training time by two weeks.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Whispers of the Summoner

Another full whisper track for all the sorcerers out there below the shattered moon...

The Whispers of The Summoner

The Summoner’s Misty Servant (Basic): Activating this whisper calls forth a small misty figure about the size of a young child. The misty servant performs any actions as commanded by the sorcerer in both the spirit and letter of the command, and should be considered to have 1 in all primary abilities. The servant can fly at 5/44 and can carry up to 300lbs. while doing such, but anything over 50lbs. slows the misty servant down to 2/18. The servant lasts for 1 hour. Activating this whisper costs 2 Fortune.

The Summoner’s Smokey Messenger (Intermediate): Activating this whisper summons a smoky, flying form vaguely resembling a vulture. The smokey messenger will take a single message of up to 10 minutes length to any living creature within 1,000 miles in less than 5 minutes. The vulture cannot be harmed in any manner and can pass through all but air-tight barriers. The vulture lasts long enough to perform its task. If it cannot, it dissipates after 1 hour. Activating this whisper cost 4 Fortune and requires a source of smoke, although one as small as a cigarette will suffice.

The Summoner’s Radiant Steed (Advanced): Activating this whisper conjurers a radiant, winged steed. The steed performs any actions as commanded by the sorcerer in spirit and letter, and should be considered to have 2 in all primary abilities, excepting a Strength 8. The steed may carry two people and up to 1,500lbs. while flying at a speed of 30/264. The steed has difficulty hiding and is somewhat conspicuous as it travels. The steed lasts for 4 hours, but the last 20 minutes must be spent brushing down the steed, or the steed will demand twice the amount of Fortune for the next summoning. Activating this whisper costs 6 Fortune and requires the sorcerer have a hair brush.

The Summoner’s Demonic Advisor
(Ultra): Activating this whisper summons a demonic advisor who faithfully answers up to 6 questions providing the sorcerer supplies a pound of sulfur or a pound of flesh and two pints of blood from an intelligent humanoid. Activating this whisper costs 10 Fortune. Activating this whisper without the above offerings is not a wise idea…

Friday, March 11, 2011


A new Sorcery & Super Science! critter. Humorous, yet potentially deadly. Great gonzo post-apoc, IMO.

Mutated pig (Basic)
C2 A1 S1 F1 R-2 I0 W12: Ego 22: Health 10: Fortune 8
Movement 8/70

Description & Information: Fisherpigs are strangely mutated pigs that seem little different than the average wild pig excepting that they are rather spare and unhealthy looking and that their tail is completely different. Their once-curly tails are now long, thin members closely resembling a fly fishing rod with a line of 40 feet and a golden sparkly growth at the end. Fishermen are mostly herbivorous creatures, but they gain a significant amount of energy from scavenging those who fall prey to their terrible lure which they use mostly for self-defense. After flicking its tail and lighting its lure, a fisherpig typically runs away, returning after a few minutes to see if dinner has been served.

Intrinsic Powers
• Possess senses greater than human, +2 to sense conflicts.

Limited Use Powers
• Lure (3 per day): When a fisherpig chooses, it whips forth its tail like a man casting a fly fishing rod. This causes the sparkly growth at the end of its tail to shimmer with light. Any living creature viewing the glowing lure must succeed on a rank 12 Willpower conflict or believe the lure can grant them all they desire out of life if only a sacrifice was made to it. Those who fail the conflict spend the next 5 turns destroying their single most valued possession with the hopeful expectation of presenting the remains of their most valued to the golden light that promises more. If a creature does not have possessions to sacrifice, it sacrifices itself.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Characters Below the Shattered Moon - Volume 2 out now!

This short PDF provides a harried GM with new highlights, 7 new whispers, and 18 new powers, mutations or spells. Any of these additions should find a quick home in any Sorcery & Super Science game! It's the first "major" expansion to character abilities in the S&SS! game. 18 new powers and 7 new whisper tracks is a lot of new possibilities.

It's available at Your Games Now and Rpgnow. It will shortly be available at Paizo and e23 as well.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Two OSR Communities?

There’s been two recent conversations concerning the theory of two different parallel and overlapping OSR communities. The posts I’m referring to are those made at There’s Dungeons Down Under and at Mythmere’s Blog. Generally, I’m in agreement with both of their ideas of two communities as being one of the sources of conflicting opinions in the OSR, but like everyone else I have some of my own opinions about this.

In addition to what those two blogs have postulated, I think there’s also a “temporal preference” divide that’s driving much of the conflicting opinions. There are those who believe that the past is comparable to the present and should be viewed as such and those who believe that the past is effectively not comparable.

I think this difference isn’t unique to the OSR, not by a long shot. The easiest similar conflicting opinions can be found in sports. There are those who believe that the best of the old players are the best players ever while there are those who believe that the best of the new players are the best ever.

I think a core question is: “Do you judge things from past as if they weren’t part of the past (ahistorically) or do you include historicity in your judgment of quality?” The follow up question to that one is “No, really, seriously, think about it. When you make your opinions are you thinking about quality in terms of historical relativity or are you comparing things as if they were concurrently produced?” Honestly answered, I think everyone does a bit of both - it's just the ratio that's different.

The way you answer that question determines in what boat you tend to fall in. I’m a big believer in ahistorical judgment concerning rpg materials. In fact, I think that’s one of the core ideas behind the OSR - that a game’s enjoyably is independent of its historical context. Just because something is old, doesn’t make it bad. The opposite of that is also true however, just because something is old doesn't make it good. I think people who choose to self-identify as part of the OSR tend to lean heavily on an ahistorical preference towards the judgment of quality. I also think that those who play old-school games but choose to not self-identify as part of the OSR lean more towards a historical judgment of quality. To them, the old stuff really is better than the new stuff.

I view old products the same way as I view new products - some of the old stuff is a masterpiece, some of it is just a piece, if you know what I mean. I think that when Raggi’s post about the OSR being better than TSR made its big kerfluffle, it was mainly because of this divide over the importance of historicity in the judgment of quality.

Personally, I think the OSR is standing on the shoulders of giants. Whether or not you think that means the OSR is taller than the giants depends upon how you view historicity.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Congratulations to Suzi!

Suzi just found out that she's been awarded a yearlong full-tuition Fellowship for her 1st year of graduate study at Ohio State University. And it even comes with a monthly stipend!

I am happy as a clam. She worked very hard studying for her GRE (she got a 1450) and I am very proud of her.

Yeah Suzi!!!!!!!!!

1 on 1 Adventures #15: Cipactili's Maw

Just put out the PDF version of 1 on 1 Adventures #15: Cipactili's Maw. It is designed for a Wizard, level 4-6, powered by Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The Wizards of the Four Winds have enlisted the PC to find the legendary vault of the great Queen Huehaatl hidden deep in the jungle.

1 on 1 Adventures are for 1 player and 1 GM. Suzi and I came up with the idea when we were wintering in the Himalayas. Not much of a way to get a group together there, and we figured there would be other pairs of gamers in similar circumstances, even if they're on different continents. :)

You can pick it up at Your Games Now, RPGnow, Paizo, or e23.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Death of the OSR?

I would like to draw everyone's attention to an excellent series of posts concerning the "death" of the Old-School Renaissance at There's Dungeons Down Under. These posts, coupled with Matt Finch's posts about The Commercialization of the OSR are providing some excellent insight into the OSR and are worth the read, IMO.

And, for the record, I think the OSR is more vibrant than ever before, of course...

Last Day for the 50% off Sale

Just wanted to remind everyone that today is the last day of our sale at Your Games Now. Response has been nice so far and thanks for all the support!

50% off our entire 1E Advanced Adventures line!
50% off our 1E monster book Malevolent & Benign!
50% off our entire Sorcery & Super Science line!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tome of Tomes

Another tome...

The Healing Properties of Gem Stones
Author: Swack Soorlong
Race: Human
Dimensions: 8x8x1
Weight: 2 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Common
Fields of Study: Supernatural & unusual
Special Knowledge Categories: Metaphysics
Value: 25 gp

For centuries gem stones have been known to possess magical powers, and Swack Soorlong’s treatise on their healing properties can be found in most libraries. It details each part of the body and the corresponding gem useful in healing the ailments of that part. Whether or not the proscriptions within the tome actually work is up for debate, but the work has had a long and persistent presence in learned quarters.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Happy GMs Day Everyone!

Just wanted to remind everyone that today is GMs day! We've put several of our PDF products on sale at Your Games Now. Again, for those of you who don't know, we don't do many sales a year, perhaps one or two, so if you've been waiting for a bargain price on PDFs, now's the time to jump.

The sale ends on March 8th.

We've taken 50% off our entire 1E Advanced Adventures line!
We've taken 50% off our 1E monster book Malevolent & Benign!
We've taken 50% off our entire Sorcery & Super Science line!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Formula Folio

It's been a while since we had the last ink formula, so here's the continuation of the 1st-level cleric scroll inks...

For the ink required to scribe a clerical light scroll

1 oz. of fireflies
1 oz. of glowworms
1 oz. of holy water
2 drams of soot from an olive oil flame
1 carrot seed, powdered

One of the few recipes containing neither squid sepia or octopus ink. First mash the fireflies and glowworms into a paste using a gold mortar and pestle. Add in the holy water, the soot, and the powdered seed. Decant into a crystal container and place in all of the sun’s light for a full a high holy day. Makes enough ink for 2 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Mythmere is Blogging

I would like to bring attention to Matt Finch's arrival to the blogging world. I suspect his blog will be interesting to just about anyone who likes old-school gaming. Thanks to Bat in the Attic for the heads-up.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tome of Tomes

Again from the library...

An Introductory Dwarven Grammar
Author: Knoit Camstone
Race: Human
Dimensions: 14x12x2.5
Weight: 7 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Common
Fields of Study: Demi-humankind
Special Knowledge Categories: Languages
Value: 25 gp

Perhaps the most common of the Dwarven grammars, Camstone’s introduction lays out the language in precise, easy-to-understand terms. Each of the 25 chapters focuses on a particular aspect of the language and reading samples are included as well as a short Common-to-Dwarven dictionary. 5 months of studying this grammar provides a basic competency in Dwarven providing the student has at least a 10 Intelligence.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Of Halflings and Dreadlocks

I’m going to go behind the publisher screen for a while here. Normally I don’t much discuss my ideas behind why I do what I do for Expeditious Retreat Press, but I suspect that there are people who would like to know a bit about what I do and for what reasons. I believe that I am a leading publisher in the OSR and I think I may the least-outspoken of us all.

So two days ago I was editing an Advanced Adventure called Stonepick Crossing. It’s a 1-3rd leveler that takes place in a thorp called Stonepick Crossing. It takes place in a human settlement that is atop and within a 500 year-old dam built by dwarves. The dwarves have moved on. It was submitted to us under the name “Eltoran’s Crossing” but I changed that to Stonepick. The dwarf that had the dam built was named Eltoran Stonepick, so I think my name change is totally acceptable to authorial intent. I think the word “Stonepick” has a more accessible and visceral impact than “Eltoran.”

Authorial intent is something I value highly. Each of the Advanced Adventures is the work of a single author (beside the few I have personally co-wrote). Each is a reflection of what the author believes as First Edition Gaming. I value the opinions of those who write for us and believe that the primary goal of a good editor for the AA line is the one that mucks about with the manuscript the least when dealing with authors who have been playing this game as long as we have. Put simply, if the manuscript is something I have to muck about with significantly, I usually pass on it. This is not always true, of course (The Frozen Wave Satsuma is very different than what was originally submitted), but I think the exception only proves the rule.

Anyway, back to Stonepick Crossing. One of the halflings in the town was described as unique and with dreadlocks. I excised that out and replaced it with “Milo is a unique halfling with long hair dyed various colors.” Why?

First, why did the author want dreadlocks? I believe it’s because author wanted a unique character and wanted the hair to broadcast that uniqueness visually. A halfling with dreadlocks is certainly unique. I think that multi-colored hair is equally unique, so I feel I honored the authorial intent here.

Now, why the change? Because dreadlocks have a meaning which I don’t think the author intended when viewed from the history of the Advanced Adventures line. The line has traditionally been “vanilla” fantasy. I *love* vanilla fantasy. Vanilla is easy to add to anyone’s game. It’s easy to customize. It is, IMO, the best tool for a GM to have when crafting his game.

Dreadlocks are not vanilla. In the real world, dreadlocks are indicative of particular culture, or group of cultures. A character with dreadlocks means to me the same thing that a character with a top knot or a long mandarin hair braid, or a tonsure means. I wouldn’t want someone to have a tonsure that wasn’t associated with religion in some way, or have someone have a top knot that wasn’t from an “exotic” culture. Although dreadlocks are now very common throughout many different non-historical cultures, the Advanced Adventures line postulates a pretend world more in tune with the middle ages than the modern. It’s a world that is more about the historical than the modern.

But in the end, this change is utterly immaterial. The adventure reads the same, the game plays the same. What has changed is that the character of Milo the unique halfling is now demonstrating his uniqueness without any other potential message beyond being an individualistic sort. It’s a matter of line control, direction, and artistic view - something that individual authors have no real reason to care about.

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