Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Weapons of Classified

Here's a pic of the weapons I've included in Classified. This has taken 3 days of effort - unsurprisingly, it's not easy to find out information on some of these (price in particular) and as I'm trying to price as if a non-governmental organization was purchasing, things are even more complicated. Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with the results and now I have to move onward to vehicles.

Sunday Un-Seriousness (wth? edition)

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Best of Bond...James Bond

Just bought The Best of Bond...James Bond cd and am greatly enjoying it. 23 songs from Bond movies up to the new Casino Royal. I'm finding it very inspirational. Goldfinger is best, IMO, but Thunderball, A View to a Kill, and Goldeneye are up there near the top.

Also, if you're at Netflix streaming user, it looks like many of the Bond movies are returning to streaming come the beginning of next month.

Tome of Tomes

One of the magical books in the series...

The Black Book
Author: Unknown
Race: Human (presumably)
Dimensions: 16x4x1
Weight: 3 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Very rare
Fields of Study: Supernatural & unusual
Special Knowledge Categories: Dweomercraft
Value: 4,000 gp

The Black Book is desired by many with foulness in their hearts. Those of at least an Intelligence of 14 who spend two months reading and studying the tome learn to animate dead as if they were a 20th-level cleric with the animate dead spell. The animation of these dead requires a ritual performable only during the depths of a moonless night. Each animation deals 1 point of cumulative hit point damage curable only through an atonement spell. Those killed by The Black Book rise as wights.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Formula Folio

Affect Normal Fires
For the ink required to scribe an arcane affect normal fires scroll

1 oz. of giant squid sepia
1 dram of powdered obsidian
1 oz. of ashes from a cooking fire

In a metal container, mix all ingredients. Bring to a quick boil and decant into a glass vial. Let fire cool and turn cold, place glass vial in center of fire and let sit for 3 days. Makes enough ink for 2 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

10 Pistols for Classified

After several hours of consideration, I've decided on the following 10 pistols to include in the Classified core book (always leaving in the possibility of a weapon/gadget book/series).

Beretta .25
Beretta M9
Browning Hi-Power
FN Five-seven
Glock 19
Heckler & Koch P30
SIG Sauer P229
Smith & Wesson Model 500
Walther PPK
Walther PPS

I think this group nicely covers much of what would be desired in a modern Classified game with players who aren't that concerned with having multiple specific options regarding weaponry. The PPK is out-of-date with many of the other weapons on the list, but I believe I *have* to include it - it's too iconic not to include, IMO.

Now, on to rifles, shotguns, and submachine guns...

Classified page 51 done!

Just a quick update, I've finished chapters 1-9 of Classified and am about to start on the equipment. I expect to slow down here as I'm going to be updating the equipment list to include new guns, cars, boats, and planes (as well as including some of those in the original game). I suspect this section will take a while as there's more decision-making going on.

After that I've got the GM help sections including NPC information like sample NPCs and other such. Then a character sheet needs to be made and a few locations frameworked. Finally, I'll need to put the Mission: The Bucharest Libretto together.

All that's going to take a while and I fear my speedy progress so far won't be repeated in the next phase of work.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Time in "The Zone"

I spend much of my time being creative in some form or fashion, either work related or otherwise. I've noticed that I tend to do my best work when I work intensively for about 30 minutes and then take a 5 to 10 minute break. It feels sort of like flushing the stress tubes, as when I concentrate I tend to tighten my neck and shoulders and upper body. These little breaks help me relax a bit before heading back to work.

Finding my natural working rhythm has been a nice side-effect of being self-employed. Were I to return to "real" employment, I know I'd find the two-hour-then-break of my past jobs difficult to adapt to. I think I'd end up phoning-it-in more than I should because of the disparities between my natural rhythm and the work-place rhythm.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tome of Tomes

For your Monday edification...

Bushes & Shrubs of the Low Mountains
Author: Saia Zoides
Race: Human
Dimensions: 16x16x2
Weight: 10 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Common
Fields of Study: Flora
Special Knowledge Categories: Bushes & shrubs
Value: 50 gp

The companion work to Bushes & Shrubs of the High Mountains, Low Mountains focuses upon the changing plant diversity found in the transition zone of the low mountains. Like its companion, it is a work of little depth, and instead explores the wide and varied breadth of foliage. It is also rightly considered a standard in its area.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Un-Seriousness

I just realized I've missed something like five months of Sunday Un-Seriousness. That can't stand. I must post a weekly nonsense to keep sane.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Trap Streets

Since I imagine most readers are interested in cartography, I thought I should share one of the cool things I learned about map making a few years ago: trap streets.

Although they may sound like streets right out of one of our rpgs of choice, they're really fake streets put on modern maps by mapping companies in attempts to protect the copyrights of their maps.

When you're at the wiki page, you should check out the See Also links... all cool stuff.

I'd Rather Not Be Working

Today is one of those gloomy lazy days when one wants to stay in bed and eat carb-o-riffic foods. But alas, I am self-employed, so although I'd rather not be working, I do like to eat, so...

I should finish the Chase section of Classified today if things go as planned. I'll be up to page 45 on the game then.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Formula Folio

Another from the Fomula Folio...

Speak With Animals
For the ink required to scribe a druidical speak with animals scroll

1 oz. of giant squid sepia
1 oz. of giant octopus ink
1 oz. of holly berry juice
1 oz. of blood from a bull’s tongue

In a bronze bowl, mix all ingredients and store within an animal bladder. Bury the bladder in the ground in a wooden contain and let sit for 1 year. Makes enough ink for 4 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

37 Pages of Classified Done

Just put the finishing touches on page 37 of Classified and the Combat section is now done! Next up is Chases. Seven of the Twelve chapters are finished and I'd estimate I'm about 40% done in terms of word count. I'm starting to think about cover design for Classified and I have two ideas I need to play around with to see how they look.

Thanks to a mention by reader Spawn of Endra, I've been listening a lot to SomaFM. The three channels I've been listening to most are Secret Agent, Underground 80's, and Illinois Street Lounge. There are other channels I'm sure I'll take a listen to in time, but that's where I've been hanging out most recently. Enjoying hearing music I've never heard before (of haven't heard in a very long time).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reprinting 1e AD&D Unearthed Arcana

Amazon has a listing for 1st Edition Premium Unearthed Arcana (D&D Accessory) [Hardcover] and I think that means that the re-prints of the first 3 1e AD&D volumes was a success. I'm also assuming that some of the profits from this reprint will be going to the Gygax Memorial Fund. Hopefully, they'll end up reprinting all of what Gygax penned (off the top of my head -MM II, the modules, Greyhawk folio/boxed set) and we'll have new copies of the all.

Nice news to wake up to this morning, methinks! February 19, 2013 will be here shortly...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Formula Folio

Let's have another ink recipe from the Formula Folio. For new readers, this series provides the ink recipe needed to inscribe scrolls with the indicated spell. If you like, just click on the Formula Folio link to the right and there's about two dozen more.

For the ink required to scribe a druidical shillelagh scroll

1 oz. of giant octopus ink
1 oz. of holly berry juice
10 shamrock leaves
Oaken mortar and pestle

In the mortar and pestle, grind the shamrock leaves down into a paste. Mix ink and juice in an oaken container and seal with beeswax. Smear shamrock paste over container and place in a hole in an oak tree. Let rest for 7 days. Makes enough ink for 2 scrolls. Use a quill made from a rooster.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tome of Tomes

Musical Notation
Author: Skanz Stanz
Race: Human
Dimensions: 14x12x2.5
Weight: 7 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Very rare
Fields of Study: Humankind, demi-humankind
Special Knowledge Categories: Art & music
Value: 425 gp

This work describes the multitude of different musical notations used by over thirty different human cultures and 4 demi-human cultures.  By some unknown artifice, the tome is enchanted to sound the musical notes within, perfectly translating the written to the aural.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spy Music

Just purchased the album this song comes from, Tell No One. I'm really enjoying the album. Sarah Tracey has a great voice and writes good songs. I've a few more albums in my wishlist that are spy-oriented. Always a good idea to have music to help you create. If you like this song, you'll like the rest of the album, IMO, so go pick it up.

A Solar Eclipse... on Mars!

Ok, so it's really a solar transit, but still... this is just awesome. :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mechanical Musings on Classified

IMO, one of the genius moves in the James Bond game is that actions are declared by the slowest character, than the next slowest, and finally the fastest declares last. This way the fastest has best information when deciding what to do

Couple that with the fact that the fastest goes first once the round begins... and that's one of the reasons why Classified is going to exist. :-)

Great design, IMO. Especially when the players get an idea of just how quickly combat can go against them... Be quick or be dead!

I'm a Twit

So, I've decided to try and be more active on Twitter. I'm Joseph_Browning there. I'm still not terribly comfortable with the art of short messaging and need to work out how best to get Twitter to work for me because I don't seem to have much going through my feed, but I know there's a lot going on. So if anyone would like to follow me, I'd appreciate it.

I think I should use Twitter to do brief little updates like "Just finished X section of Y game." or "Alright, poop time" Ok, not the latter. :-)  I'll have to figure it out.

Friday, September 14, 2012

28 Pages of Classified Done

Holy Carp, Fishman! I've already completed 28 pages on Classified. I've got the introduction, character creation, skills, reputation, hero points, and experience sections done. Next up is combat, chase, dealing with NPCs, and then equipment.

Happiness all around... :-)

Tome of Tomes

After the Blade
Author: Yemo Umijaz
Race: Stone giant
Dimensions: 6x5x1
Weight: 1 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Very rare
Fields of Study: Humanoids & giantkind
Special Knowledge Categories: Theology & myth
Value: 125 gp

After the Blade discusses the various theological and mythological afterlife beliefs of the various giants. Written in the stone giant language (and in rather poor grammar at that), it is an exceedingly rare work offering unique insights into the thoughts and beliefs of giantkind.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Classified Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

One thing that I'm doing as I go through Classified is making changes where I think appropriate to update the system to better reflect the modern period as opposed to the 1980's. For example, Photography is no longer an Ability as the digital revolution has, IMO, enabled everyone to be a passable-enough photographer without the need of specialized training.

In its place, I'm allowing the player to choose one Skill from a subset list of Skills and turn that into an Ability of choice. This provides a bit of customization to the player and can help create a good group dynamic where individual characters start with a rather high chance of success on one particularly chosen Skill.

Additionally, I'm adding Language as a Skill as I think the source material focuses very heavy on one particular style of spy/covert action movies wherein the protagonist never had language issues because of narrative construction. I think a more broad-based game should include languages (as does the real world, after all) and a beginning character starts with his or her Native Language as an Ability. Of course, the character could pick Language as their Skill choice for their pickable Ability and start the game with true fluency in two languages.

Both of these changes, IMO, improve the game and I hope that fans of the system are not disappointed by the changes. I suspect I'll have to make a few other such changes as I go along, but I'll never do anything that renders Classified incompatible with its source material and supplements. Time has just moved on.

And because the song's on my mind now...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Classified Update

I'm about halfway through the Skills chapter. I'm concurrently laying-out the book as I work and I have about 19 pages done. It's coming together nicely and I'll need to start looking for artists in a few weeks, I suppose.

Monday, September 10, 2012

And The New Retro-Clone Is...

Classified. It is a retro-clone of the James Bond 007 game. I've made a few changes (and will have to update much of the equipment to the modern-day), but it'll be eminently compatible with the old adventures and supplements. I've loved this game ever since it came out. It runs like a finely-tuned machine during play and does a great job of genre emulation. If you have not played it, it really plays like a dream.

I'm opening up the system a bit to include all sorts of covert operations, not just the super-spy genre. I think there are a lot of different things that the system works well for, and I'll be trying to make sure that it covers different takes on the subject.

I've been working quickly on this and hopefully it will see the light of day soon. I'm on the Skills section and only expect to slow down when I come to the equipment section. That could be a major slowdown area, so we'll have to see.

I've also started plotting out the first adventure, tentatively titled The Bucharest Libretto.

In 1787, right before the beginning of the Russo-Turkish War of 1787-1892, Antonio Salieri visited Bucharest. During his visit he composed the opera L'esaltato (The Exalted) celebrating the proud spirit of the Russians and Austrians. For the only time in his career, Salieri also wrote the libretto while residing in his hotel in Bucharest. Returning to Vienna a few months later, he put the finishing touches on L'esaltato and it was performed to moderate success. During WWII, the original hand-written copy of the libretto was “liberated” by the Soviets to Bucharest and it has remained there ever since.

The original copy of the Libretto has recently been stolen and the Austrians are very interested in returning the work of Salieri to the city that was his home, Vienna.

Secret Agent Man

Always loved this song...

New Blog Logo

To get in the spirit... :-)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A New Retro-Clone?

So what I've been working on the past few days is a new retro-clone. I'm not prepared yet to say of what, but I've been blazing away and have 12 pages done and laid out. I've never done a retro-clone before and I'm having a lot of fun. I'm working crazy-fast and I may even have the first draft done by the end of the month.

So wish me luck and hopefully I'll feel comfortable announcing the new clone shortly. It's for a game that hopefully many of us loved and is now out-of-print for more than 20 years with no foreseeable chance of it returning to print.

It's 4:00 am on Sunday and I'm Awake

Yay!?! Thanks to a particularly vivid nightmare, I'm completely awake. Time to make the donuts, I guess.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tome of Tomes

Another Tome of Tomes...

The Rivers of Industhan
Author: Drua Bhadakar
Race: Human
Dimensions: 16x16x2
Weight: 10 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Uncommon
Fields of Study: Physical universe
Special Knowledge Categories: Topography & cartography
Value: 350 gp

A beautifully illustrated work following the course of the major rivers of Industhan, Bhadakar’s work is a requirement for any interested in that distant land. Written in Industhani, it is largely incomprehensible for the majority, but its maps are a great treasure.

To Many Irons In The Fire

So, like I mentioned in the last post, I've started working on something new that's consuming all my time right now. Which is not the best decision, actually, since I've got about 5 Advanced Adventures to edit and product, a new game (Worlds Apart) that I should be producing supplements for, an older game (Sorcery & Super Science) that I should be producing another supplement for (The Bean Lords of Bad Axe), and quick-and-dirty game (One Shot) that I should be producing a new adventure for because they're short and fun to write, and a new book in our original series A Magical Society: India.

But what am I doing? Following my muse instead of my brain. I do that a lot unfortunately, because you don't make a lot of money in the game industry and doing what you really want to do is one of the big perks. Were any of the things I was putting off serious money-makers, I'd bite the bullet and get them done first. But seeing as how most things are relatively comparable in terms of income production, might as well do the thing that you're most interested in doing right now.

Eventually I'll tire of the the new thing, and get a bug up my butt for Advanced Adventures and then knock out all 5 ASAP, or start jonesing to work on a few more Worlds Apart Island Gazetteers, or even keep reading and jotting notes for A Magical Society: India. India's the big one. It will probably make the most money out of all of them, but it's also far-and-away the hardest to write. Magical Society books are supposed to kick all sorts of ass, and making that occur takes a lot of effort and actual scholarship rather than just creativity.

All in all, not a bad job to have. :-)

...and just because I can....

Friday, September 7, 2012

And the Front Cover As Well

Might as well put up the front cover as well. I think these two pieces have a great feel to them and work very well together to convey the module. They set a good tone.

Another Mullen Piece

The below illustration is from the back cover of The Conqueror Worm. It's a high-level adventure and things aren't looking the best for the intrepid group of adventurers. Perhaps they should have thought twice before entering a giant iceberg castle?

I've decided upon another new project and I'm about 6 pages in or so, but not yet quite ready to say what I'm doing. Hopefully in a month or so I'll be ready to announce, but it's something I've wanted to do for a while and finally decided it needed doing.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Head Down and Working At Full Speed

I'm working like a fiend on a new project (up at 4:30 am because I couldn't go back to sleep thinking about it), so I though I'd share the front cover illustration to Advanced Adventures #15: Stonesky Delve. I really like Stonesky Delve and think it one of the best adventures in the AA line. Of course, I'm biased because I wrote it, but I think the verticality of the cave system is something that isn't found in most OSR adventures and really adds a new experience into old-school gaming.

I love Peter's illustration here, especially the use of color to pick up on the shading of the Gamboge Hulk's muscle. I always caption this one, "Sometimes, you wish you would have just stayed on the surface..." or, more humorously, "Mmfl! Where has that hand been!?"

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I'll Send Out The Free PDFs Today

Thanks to everyone for the surprising response to the free AA PDF offer! I'll be sending out the PDFs today. If you don't get your copy by Thursday, please respond in this thread and let me know that I made a mistake and missed your message. I'll correct any errors as soon as I can.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

ORBIS - Travel Times in the Roman Empire

Okay, so this is just about the coolest thing since sliced bread. ORBIS!
ORBIS allows us to express Roman communication costs in terms of both time and expense. By simulating movement along the principal routes of the Roman road network, the main navigable rivers, and hundreds of sea routes in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and coastal Atlantic, this interactive model reconstructs the duration and financial cost of travel in antiquity. Taking account of seasonal variation and accommodating a wide range of modes and means of transport, ORBIS reveals the true shape of the Roman world and provides a unique resource for our understanding of premodern history.
If that doesn't get your History Nerd (tm) blood a'flowing, you've secretly been replaced by a zombie.

Now You Can Like Me, You Can Really Like Me

So it turns out that I'm one of the lucky bloggers who's check box to insert the like functions from G+, Facebook, and Twitter simply didn't work. After hunting down a fix, I had the enjoyable duty of editing my blog's Template HTML directly, which for an absolute non-programmer is [insert scary music]not a fun thing to do.[/end scary music]

But anyway, the fix apparently worked and all of you guys can like me (and my posts) at the various social medias.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tome of Tomes

For all the new followers, Tome of Tomes is a series of books that are suitable for a fantasy library. Most of them are non-magical, but are valuable nonetheless.

Codes of the Trees
Author: Roald Dwinar
Race: Human
Dimensions: 8x8x1
Weight: 8 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Common
Fields of Study: Supernatural & unusual
Special Knowledge Categories: Cryptography
Value: 45 gp

Years of lumberjacking, tracking, and eventual stewardship of Bifar Forest for The White Duke Calary of Willmote was the genesis for Dwinar’s Codes of the Trees. Within this work are all the known codes, symbols, and signs common among forest folk, including many of the fae races. It is a definite must when searching within the trees for a particular location.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Free Advanced Adventure Reminder

Just wanted to remind blog followers/subscribers that I'll be e-mailing out free PDF versions of an Advanced Adventure of your choice. Go to this post to learn more.

And thanks to Tenkar's Tavern for the Worlds Apart mention. I'm appreciative of anyone that helps me get the world out about the new games. Thanks!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Worlds Apart PDFs now For Sale!

I am stoked! Just finished uploading the 6 PDFs to We've got the Core Rules for $12, the free Core Rules sans illustrations, 3 island gazetteers (Awmrie, Deave, Gryce) for $2 each, and Suppliers-a list of pre-generated cargoes to keep the game moving swiftly when the PC decide to engage in a bit of unexpected trade for $3.

Thank to everyone for their patience and I hope you all check out the game! After the "losing the cover" fiasco, I created the below cover to get back to the real roots of the game. It's clear, direct, and I prefer it to the prior versions. I love the excitement I get when putting out something new, after 9 years it's still not gotten old... :-)

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