Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Worldbuilding Monster Statistics

Some people think that there are several statistics in the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual that are not needed to play the game.

To that, I respond, "Yes, they are not needed to play the game, but they serve the purpose of building the world in which the game is played." These are the Worldbuilding Monster Statistics. Statistics such as Frequency, No. Appearing, % in Lair, Treasure Type, Intelligence, Alignment, and Size have primarily a world-building goal. Sure, there are bits and bobs of these statistics that can be interpreted as "game related," but they're primarily there to inform the GM about the world in which the game is played. Changing these statistics changes the game very little, but can drastically change the game world.

And a very interesting thing about rpgs is that, over time, the world around the game eventually *becomes* the game, because rpgs are about "what if" and how we react to different "what ifs."

Monday, October 29, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Formula Folio

Detect Magic
For the ink required to scribe an arcane detect magic scroll

1 oz. of giant squid sepia
1 pulped mugwort
A dram of imp’s blood

In a crystal container, mix the mugwort with the sepia. Seal container with beeswax and let sit for 18 days. Open at sunrise and remove liquid and mix with imp’s blood. Seal container again and let sit for 18 more days before decanting into a glass vial at sunset. Makes enough ink for 2 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tome of Tomes

Author: Corad Thindal
Race: Human
Dimensions: 8x10x1
Weight: 2 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Rare
Fields of Study: Humankind
Special Knowledge Categories: Langauges
Value: 165 gp

A work detailing the 1,000 most common hieroglyphs of ancient Kemet, Hieroglyphics is an invaluable resource for those investigating the ruins of that lost time. Using this book, most hieroglyphics can eventually be decoded, although it will take significant time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

20% Off Lulu Coupon

Thought readers would like to know that Lulu has a 20% of coupon up right now with code JEKYLL and a 25% off coupon on orders over $300 with code HYDE.

We have several products up at Lulu and there are many other old-school products there as well.

Formula Folio

Dancing Lights
For the ink required to scribe an arcane dancing lights scroll

1 oz. of giant squid sepia
1 oz. of giant octopus ink
8 glowworms

Make a mobile, hanging each glowworm equally apart from each other off a silk thread. Mix the two inks. Dip the worms into the mixed ink and shake the mobile, causing the ink to drip down upon a large silver platter. Repeat until all the ink has been used up and rests upon the silver platter. Decant into a glass vial. Makes enough ink for 2 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tome of Tomes

Author: Kilgar Krum
Race: Human
Dimensions: 8x8x1
Weight: 4lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, stoneboard, parchment
Rarity: Uncommon
Fields of Study: Humanoids & giantkind
Special Knowledge Categories: None
Value: 120 gp

Covering the entire breadth of troll-dom, Trolls was written by Kilgar Krum, a human polymorphed into a troll and only cured after a score of years. Krum writes of his experiences with the trolls, their biology, culture, and beliefs. Reading this work give a potential troll hunter a 1in6 better chance of surprising trolls and adds a +1 to hit and a +1 to damage in combat.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Seeking Manuscripts for 1 on 1 Adventures

Heya all, I'm looking for more manuscripts for our Pathfinder Compatible 1 on 1 Adventures - Adventures designed for one player and one GM. I'm looking for around 12k words. Please e-mail me at if you have ideas or manuscripts. The line has been defunct for a while and I need to get it going again, so please help me out.

Post-Apocalyptic Minis at Indiegogo

Not from us, I doubt if I'll ever do minis, but I think that those who read this blog may be interested nonetheless...

Sunday Un-Seriousness

Saw this in my G+ feed a few days ago and thought I should share... :-)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

About 4 Hours Left In The 50% Off Sale

I'll be turning the sale off around 2:00pm eastern time, so if you're looking for discounted XRP PDFs you've only got a few hours left. Drop by the store and load up.

Oh, and I've some other really weird dreams lately as well - slept 12 hour last night. Think I'm fighting off sickness.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Save Me From Space Pirates 50% Off PDF Sale!

Ok, I had a strange-ass dream last night where I was captured by a bunch of space pirates who held me in the brig and threatened to torture me if I didn't have a PDF sale. Yeah, my mind is strange.

Anyway, I've decided to obey the space pirates and have a PDF sale for the next 48 hours or so. So drop by the pdf store for Expeditious Retreat Press and keep me from the tortures of space pirates.

Formula Folio

Comprehend Languages
For the ink required to scribe an arcane comprehend languages scroll

1 oz. of giant octopus ink
A pinch of soot
A few grains of salt
A bit of a parrot’s tongue
A powdered human tooth

During high noon, coat the parrots tongue with the powdered human tooth. Throw upon the ground and tread upon with a hard-soled leather boot. Throw the salt over the left shoulder and the soot over the right. After this, the ink (if in a silver container) is ready. If in a non-silver container, the ink will not be suitable. Makes enough ink for 2 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Back to Classified!

Back to working on Classified now that the next Advanced Adventure is just waiting on art. I'll probably work on Classified for a few days and then turn my attention to AA #27. I need to get a backlog of ready-to-print Advanced Adventures ready if I want to release one every month for the first half of next year. I'm still looking for manuscripts, btw.

I've got a list of about 140 or so weapons and vehicles to work my way through on Classified before I start with the more exotic spy/espionage equipment. I'm going to do a brief description of each item to provide some framework for the GM who may not be familiar with the item. The descriptions will be brief, as I expect a GM to look to the net to find anything other than a general overview. Which, IMO, is one of the cool things about the internet - it frees up the need for framework-issues like this.

Advanced Adventures #26: The Witch Mounds

Just finished the lay out of The Witch Mounds and sent the art direction off to John and Daisy Bingham. This OSRIC and First Edition compatible adventure is for 6-10 PCs of levels 3-6 and should come out in January of next year (perhaps earlier in PDF).
Near the southern verge of the Yoros Forest, rests a series of grass-covered barrows arranged in a horseshoe shape. Ten smaller barrows and one known as the Great Mound sit facing inward at each other. The site is known as the Witch Mounds by the locals, and it is shunned, for evil lurks within, a place of old Maerling evil best left alone.

Will you brave the Haug-eldr, the greenish flame seen in the depths of night around The Witch Mounds to explore the dangers and riches that surely lie below?

Sorcery & Super Science Pathfinder Version

The Pathfinder conversion of Sorcery & Super Science! should pick up here shortly once we get in a signed contract from a freelancer. I'm a bit overwhelmed right now (I tend to jump from thing to thing) and I think hiring-out should help make sure this one sees the light of day. It's a big project and I've got a lot of irons in the fire. Just wanted to let everyone know that it's still an ongoing work - one which should hopefully speed up.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Inverse Dungeon?

David over at the Tower of the Archmage has an interesting post about the relative emptiness of hallways in comparison with rooms in the traditional dungeon. This observation has led me to speculate on how to design an Inverse Dungeon, wherein almost all the encounters take place in the hallways and the rooms are the transit areas from one encounter to another.

I wonder how long it would take a party to key on this fundamental alteration and change their behaviors to adapt?

Tome of Tomes

On the Generation of Clouds
Author: Widdle Thridbit
Race: Human
Dimensions: 8x8x1
Weight: 8 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Uncommon
Fields of Study: Physical universe, supernatural & unusual
Special Knowledge Categories: Meteorology & climatology, metaphysics
Value: 45 gp

On the Generation of Clouds provides a solid physical framework about the different land types and how they collect the moisture in the air, creating cloudy rainy areas as well as deserts. Additionally, Thridbit discusses the generation of magical clouds such as those upon which cloud giants dwell.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Formula Folio

Charm Person
For the ink required to scribe an arcane charm person scroll

1 oz. of giant octopus ink
A tiny pinch of powdered diamond
A dram of kohl

Mix all ingredients in a bowl made from the top of a human skull. Decant into a vial and let sit 24 hours. Makes enough ink for 2 scrolls. Use a quill made from a peacock.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Advanced Adventured #26: The Witch Mounds

Thought I should let people know that I've started laying out AA26: The Witch Mounds by Keith Sloan. I finished the maps earlier today and hope to be done with the layout in a few days. Then, to commission art and print. Looking for a January release.

Sunday Un-Seriousness

[Dr. Zoidberg Voice]Again, with the humor[/Dr. Zoidberg Voice]

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I Got Facebook Hacked

I want to let everyone know that I got hacked on Facebook sometime last night and apparently sent out private messages concerning iphones. My apologies to anyone I sent a message too. I've changed my password to something *very* strong and it should hopefully not happen again.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Big Monotreme Influence on Classified

In best Tom Jone's Thunderball style... :-)

The Goremont Grim

Good news on the Goremont Grim front: I've decided that it will be published, but probably not for at least two to three years. I'm going to do something special for this megadungeon - hopefully something that will be "socks-knock-off" worthy. Yeah, an update without much substance, but I'm just happy to know that it's going to be published.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Empty Rooms are Full of Talkie-Talkie this Week

Pardon the title, but it seem as if empty rooms are the subject du week in the OSR-verse after Joethelawyer's post about his recent experience with Dwimmermount (link to Grognardia's Dwimmermount tag). There's been a lot of talk about the importance of empty rooms in the megadungeon, mostly around two main ideas - space (for exploration, party camping ability, etc.) and weirdness (or fuck-a-diddle's as Stephan Poag termed it). Both, IMO, are spot on observations about the construction of the Megadungeon environment and play-style and I do think they are both necessary.

However, I think the responses I've seen from the OSR community as a whole seem to be focused more on explaining why Joethelawyer had a bad experience based on the assumption that he isn't aware of the empty room megadungeon framework. Which is fine-and-dandy, but perhaps there's a different reason. As a designer, I see something different in his post than a springboard to explain megadungeon design - I see a player's expectations not being matched to the game environment - and I'm not going to try and provide information regarding the different styles, I'm going to try and provide some help on making the different styles mesh together better.

His posts starts off with something that should key the reader in very quick that the Megadungeon environment is probably not a good fit.

Here's the thing--as a player, I want my character to kick some ass, be awesome, and have a tale to tell back at the tavern so he can get some action with the serving wenches.  You know, Conan, or Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser style.  That to me is the motivation to play an adventurer.

This, to me, is not the megadungeon style, and certainly not the style of Dwimmermount as I've come to understand it from Grognardia's posts over the years.To me, the root of the issue is in different play style preferences.

Assuming that I've said something of interest, what, as a designer, can be done to try and make Joethelawyer's apparent preference mesh better with a megadungeon environment like Dwimmermount? Below are a few thoughts/responses pulled from comments on his post.

Rooms with stuff that on its surface looks interesting, but in the end is just a needless distraction that doesn't lead to anything cool.  Ever.  Not even once in a while.  There was one room with ghosts around a table.  They gave no clues to greater mysteries,  they provided no combat opportunities, they were nothing but a waste of time

1. Provide a quicker way for players to place fuck-a-diddles into the greater context of the megadungeon. Provide these contexts quicker the closer the room is to the entrance to the dungeon to grab the attention of new players. Leave the majority of context-less fuck-a-diddles for deeper areas, which when encountered are based upon the idea that the player is already "hooked" into the environment and will find contextless aspects less frustrating.

There was a room with half dozen balloons.  No one is stupid enough to go into such a room, so we shot them from outside.  One exploded and caused the others to explode.  Would have done damage had we been in there.  Again, who would be stupid enough to be in there?
2. Provide the opportunity for players to utilize traps against enemies. I don't know if this room could be used in such a manner, but I think the room would be improved were players able to use the trap against lured enemies in some manner.

There was another room where nothing aged.  Why?  Who placed it there?  Why place such a massive investment of magical energy (time stop being a 9th level spell) into a room with not a goddamned thing in it worth anything?  At the end I just wanted to smash everything in the room out of frustration.
3. Another example of contextlessness providing frustration. Perhaps the Dwimmermount notes provide an explanation of the room to the GM, and if it does, providing a way for the *players* to find out the reason would be beneficial. If possible, finding a way for the players to find out that provides a material reward of some sort (treasure, intel) would be even better.

Then, random rooms with stuff in it for no reason.  In one room, in a corner, is a bag with 1000 gp.  Why?  Empty otherwise, except for the orcs we drove off.  Orcs, with 1000 gp.  Exactly 1000 gp.  It's a very exact dungeon.  Another room had debris in it.  After killing the rats in it, we spent 30 minutes looking thru rat shit and found 2000 cp.  Why?  Oh, and there was also some other crap like a pin and a comb worth some money.
4. This touches on one of my design preferences: generally avoid round numbers. Round numbers do not feel organic and the organic feeling is very important during play, IMO. This should be an easy fix and one that, IMO, would benefit even players who prefer the Megadungeon style of play already.

And to finish up this already long post....
Where's the grand tale of adventure in that?  Would it make a good movie?  Would you pay eight bucks to see it on the big screen?  Did we do anything awesome?  Did we encounter weird ass shit and survive by the skin of our teeth, using our wits and courage to overcome the obstacles?  Was there at any point an opportunity or a need to be creative with the stuff in the environment to further our ends?  Was the environment itself creative and mysterious, leaving us a with a sense of awe and wonder?  Did it make us want to explore further?  Did it open up further layers of a mystery?
This highlights where the different play desires don't mesh. Joethelawyer is thinking of the game in terms of a movie. IMO, the Megadungeon environment is not a movie - (at most) megadungeons are thematic tapestries in which various areas can explore different themes and these themes are usually not explored until deeper in the dungeon. Movies are narrative pieces with a purpose - Megadungeons don't have a purpose - they have many different purposes.

Would my suggestions have improved Joethelawyer's experience with Dwimmermount? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Regardless, I think they're useful things to think about when designing for an audience that is not your personal table.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Advanced Adventure Work

I'm going to be stepping away from Classified for a bit to focus on Advanced Adventures. I have some editing and a lot of mapping to do and I need to get the adventures into publishable format. With this in mind, now its a great time to send me manuscripts if you have them. I'm looking for 8k-12k manuscripts using only OGL material (ie anything in OSRIC is ok). I prefer site-based adventures and have no real level preferences, although levels 1-7 do seem to sell better than 8+ level.

I pay $0.01 a word and an author's copy for all rights, so if your work is your baby, don't send it my way. I want to own everything we publish and completely understand those who also want to own their own works as well. EDIT: I should also mention that I pay *upon acceptance* - meaning that the author is paid when I accept the manuscript rather than when the work is published, as it typical in the industry.

After I get some Advanced Adventure work out of the way I'll return to Classified and probably switch back and forth between them until all the AA are ready to go out the door. And because I can... here's a cool illustration by John Bingham. :-)

My Blog's Wordcloud

I'm happy to see that "magical" is the most used. :-)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Classified Water and Air Craft

Finished up the list and now onto brief descriptions. It's taken me a little over two weeks to make the weapons and vehicles lists. I'd hoped to do them a bit faster, but there's a lot of information to digest and translate into game terms.

To compare Classified to the original game, Classified has 177 weapons and vehicles while the original rules had only 34. I consider the long lists big time-savers for GMs and the time I've spent on them well worth it.

More WotC Reprints!

Looks like The Slave Lords and S1-S4 are being reprinted by WotC along with the 2nd Edition core books! I'm pleased to see this happen.

Tree Weaving

Stumbled upon some very cool images at Atlas Obscura that I think would fit right into most fantasy games. Something like the  Gilroy Gardens should make an appearance somewhere. I think geometric shapes, and especially angles that do not occur naturally very often (as in the second picture) would fit into an Elvish art garden.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What I'm Starting My Day Off With

Great song, great video. Hard to go wrong with Mad Max and Motorhead...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Classified Land Vehicles

Well, that took a good chunk of time. It's funny how you can find out X bit of information here, Y bit over here and Z bit over there. Oh, and A place has different information than B does about X bit. :-)

Anyway... here's the land vehicle list for Classified. I've yet to choose the watercraft and aircraft - that's next on the list.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Upcoming Advanced Adventures

I've got a slew of upcoming Advanced Adventures starting in January of next year. If things go as planned, I'll release a new AA every month until I run out.

Here are the upcoming titles... Note that we have our first 1-3 level adventures in the line coming up.

AA26 The Witch Mounds  (3-6)
AA27 Bitteroot Briar (2-4)
AA28 Redtooth Ridge (1-3)
AA29 The Doom of Red Rauthim (7-9)
AA30 To End The Rising (1-3)
AA31 Aerie of the Cloud Giant Strategos (8-12)

Formula Folio

Burning Hands
For the ink required to scribe an arcane burning hands scroll

1 oz. of giant squid sepia
1 dram of powdered obsidian
1 oz. of blood from a fire snake
1 oz. of rainwater

In a stone container, mix all ingredients. Bring ingredients to a boil and reduce until only a thick tarry substance remains. Add rainwater and stir widdershins until integrated. Makes enough ink for 2 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tome of Tomes

Another magical tome...

The Forge of the Sanctuary
Author: Dunrok Alebelly
Race: Dwarf
Dimensions: 16x16x5
Weight: 25 lbs.
Materials: White dragonskin-bound, woodboard, vellum, brass corners and clasps
Rarity: Very rare
Fields of Study: Supernatural & unusual
Special Knowledge Categories: Dweomercraft
Value: 9,000 gp

The Forge of the Sanctuary gives explicit directions on how to create, fuel, and use a dwarven cold forge. It is unknown what angered Alebelly so much that he would divulge one of his race’s greatest secrets, but a reader with knowledge of smelting and ironwork, and knowledge of dweomercraft can create a cold forge following Alebelly’s directions. The forge costs 10,000 gp to manufacture, requires over a year’s time, and consumes 1,000 gp of gems per month. When tended by 4 trained cold-forge smiths, the forge may produce a +1 weapon every month, a +2 weapon in 4 months, or a +3 weapon in a year. If also tended by a spell caster of at least 12th level (or a dwarven cleric of 8th-level, the forge can produce a +4 weapon after two years of effort.

The Forge of the Sanctuary is a book most hated by dwarves, and the possession of such can lead to bloodshed or even war. Conversely, a gift of the work to a dwarven clan is sure to bring rejoicing and even friendship from the normally insular people.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Britain's Royal Navy in the First World War

Came across this Animated Map this morning and wanted to share. It's a great visualization of WWI. I'd love to see a color-coded one done of WWII.

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