Great Khan Enthroned

Great Khan Enthroned

Monday, December 29, 2014

I have some bad news.

So. I didn't really want to turn my OSR gaming blog into a litany of the various woes occurring in my, and my family's lives, but I feel I owe an explanation to everyone as to why I started blogging again and then abruptly quit. I have been thinking about this particular post for about a month, since my wife Mona's “surprise surgery”.

Her surgery was originally intended to stop a copious amount of bleeding. She was transfused 8 units of blood over 2 days and still left the hospital after her surgery dangerously anemic, but worse than that, they discovered and removed a tumor, which was causing the bleeding, and the tumor turned out to be cancerous.

Since then she has been waiting to see an oncologist to find out how bad it is. She finally got an appointment scheduled for Friday, January 9th. The delay has been really driving me crazy, so I can only imagine how hard it has been for her.

She has been super tired for weeks now, and she knows that she will have at least one more surgery in the future, and possibly chemo-therapy and/or radiation following that.

So, that's why I haven't gotten around to writing anything really since around Thanksgiving; well that and moving to the new house. It's been a really slow move, we still don't have all of our stuff here, but at least we own the place we left, so there's no real hurry.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I recently moved

I recently moved and had 4 days without any internet, it gave me a bit of time to read through some OSR stuff and the 5e DMG. I will most likely be blogging about all of them soon, the list of coming reviews is -

Swords & Wizardry White Box Rules
Swords & Wizardry Complete
Delving Deeper Reference Rules Compendium
"Realms of Crawling Chaos"
"Red Tide", "An Echo, Resounding" and "Scarlet Heroes" (lumped together because they all cover the same campaign setting)
"AX1 - D30 DM Companion" and "AX2 - D30 Sandbox Companion" (same author, similar subject matter)
"The Dungeon Alphabet" (expanded 3rd printing)
"Malevolent and Benign"
5th edition D&D "Player's Handbook", "Monster Manual" and "Dungeon Master's Guide" (complete system)
"VA1 - Valley of the Five Fires"

and last, but not least, "The Basic Fantasy Field Guide of Creatures Malevolent and Benign"

 I thought I should show everyone my new S&W campaign at Obsidian Portal too.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

5e edition D&D: My first impressions

Old School DM                                                          New D&D

I finally got around to opening up my Player's Handbook today and started reading. I had been putting that off for I don't even know what reason, but I figured I'd better familiarize myself with the new rules, as I am kicking off a new D&D campaign (probably) this coming Saturday. I decided to let my players vote on a rules set to use out of every RPG I own and 5e D&D seems to be a front-runner, it seems that some of them want to try something new (my inner grognard protests).

So, my initial impressions-

The art: I can't say I am a big fan, but I am only about 50 pages into the book, so that's one caveat. The art seems dark and somewhat uninspired. Technically the art is only mildly proficient, with many anatomy errors throughout. The subjects of the art range from mildly homely to butt-ugly, with only a few standouts that could be referred to as average looking. There is a distinct tone to the art that speaks to me as having a lack of inspiration among the artists, as though they were art directed to near death. I say all of this knowing that some of my favorite D&D art is somewhat amateurish at best, but in first edition AD&D and it's contemporaries (B/X, BECMI) the art was, at least, inspired; it was D&D fan art, and that made it subjectively good, despite it's technical imperfections. I know that art is subjective, so your mileage may vary. Zak S. was a contributor so why couldn't they have used him for some of the art?

The rules: I went through every phase of the public play-test, so I had an inkling of what to expect. I am not going to say I like everything about them, so far, but at least where changes were made they were either building upon the legacy of previous editions, or they were pretty well thought out. That said, I had an initially good impression of 3e, and I ended up hating it because it was a pain to DM and a playground for rules-lawyers. I have said before on this blog, probably more than once, that I don't like any rules set that takes away the power (and creative spontaneity) of the game master. I am a little gun-shy as a result of 3e, and that's probably why I have had this book for months and not cracked it open before now. All of that being said, I am willing to give it a shot, it still (despite the funky looking Gnomes, Dragonborn and Tieflings) feels like D&D. I just hope it retains the agency of the DM.

Funky looking

Too dark in the book.

See, I didn't even notice the Dwarf until I saw the lighter version

Poor anatomy, at best average looking people, dark and not inspiring.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

New Campaign Idea

Here is my latest idea for a new D&D or AD&D campaign.

This campaign that Starts in England in 1066. I know what you are thinking here- another military style campaign with a different historical period. That is only half true, my 1066 campaign would be set during the conquest period, but not really be a part of it. Just straight D&D adventures, with dungeons and all the other stuff (within the context of the setting); my thought is that the PCs are NOT members of either the defeated Anglo-Saxon or Norman armies, but rather the type of rogues and scoundrel that follow any military undertaking, opportunists taking advantage of the chaos generated by the multiple invasions of 1066. Maybe your character is a Norwegian that got stranded in England, for whatever reason, or maybe he's a Lithuanian trader with a taste for high risk, high reward opportunities

William the Conqueror's England was not really all that stable, pretty much for the rest of his life. In 1066 England was invaded by two major north/west European powers, major battles were fought in the north and south of England. Additionally, the Scots, Welsh and Irish made major raids into England that year. The Anglo-Saxon nobility had fled to the Scottish court looking for help, Edward the Aetheling was the last surviving real heir to the English throne; his sister Margaret would eventually marry Malcolm Canmore, the Scottish king, thus cementing a weak claim to the English kingdom for the Scots. Edward would go on to join the Byzantine Emperor's elite Varangian guard, like so many other defeated English lords and warriors, which changed the ethnic make up of the Varangians to mostly English from nearly totally Scandinavian within a generation. Anyway, it was a really chaotic period of time to be in England for more than two decades.

Now you are thinking “But there are no monsters in England!”, au contraire mes amis, England has a rich tableaux of mythology, tradition and history to draw upon, from the ancient Celtic Britons to the Romans that conquered them to Arthurian myth and legend surrounding the post-Roman period in Britain and the Nordic type religion of the old Anglo-Saxons, as well as the actually Nordic mythology of the Norsemen themselves who invaded and settled England in the preceding centuries. All kinds of Christian stuff can be thrown in there too, check out some of the stories about English saints.

Add to that flavorful mix of northwestern European myth and legend the fact that this is a D&D campaign world we're designing, and you can throw in pretty much anything from the Monster Manual if you want. Humanoids? My take on this is that they are just men that have been tainted by the chaos and evil of the Norman Conquest period. Petty, tricky men might become Kobolds; brawny, bullying scavengers might be twisted into Gnolls. Dragons are all over the British isles in myth, St. George the Dragonslayer is the Patron Saint of England (although not yet, he has to wait until the 14th century). Dungeons can be Roman ruins, or ancient Celtic sites, or simply a manifestation of the world reacting to the conquest itself. Then mix in the undead, plenty of reason for the unquiet dead to be poking their restless spirits around Conquest period England.

Plus, all of this stuff falls directly into the middle of my college major, History with an emphasis on the medieval period and my minor, Medieval Studies; so I think I can pull off the atmosphere of this campaign pretty well. Big Darryl always says that I majored in D&D at college and I don't think he's really wrong.

I might ditch some of the more anachronistic stuff, like plate mail, but maybe not, I can see an argument either way on that.

 See- They are wearing plate in this medieval depiction of the battle of Hastings :)

But not in this one :(

Lack of local players may necessitate  going a non-standard route to run this campaign, like PBEM or even Google+, despite my Luddite ways; anyone who is interested in going one of these routes should probably comment here with their preference or email me here

Even if you aren't interested in playing,I'd still like to see any commentary that might help me improve the experience for my prospective player, thanks!

Minor edit: I also wanted to mention that no one won the Celtic Halloween contest, because there were no entries. I noticed that as soon as I hit publish.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


So I was just checking my email and I saw the date, I am 20 days into my new contest and I don't have a single entry. I think to myself "I haven't posted on my blog since I announced the contest, maybe it's lack of visibility?"; then I look at my blog post announcing the contest and I see that I didn't tell anyone where to send their entries. I will rectify that now, send them here. I sincerely hope that this was the issue, and not just me being lazy about getting back to regular blogging.

I have been doing a lot of reading lately, I bought the new D&D- even though I said I wouldn't. Everyone blogging about it had such nice things to say. I haven't tried playing it yet though, so I am going to hold off on reviewing it until I have test driven it, so to speak.

I also have been prepping a pretty cool Carcosa campaign, it involves the Soviets using Tesla technology and Nazi occult secrets and their own ESP experiments. I set the whole thing in 1980, so it's kind of got a Twilight 2000/Carcosa crossover feel to it. KGB, Cosmonauts, Spetsnaz and Scientists on a wacky trans-planar adventure.

Now, enjoy this creepy banshee I found on the internet as inspiration for the adventures you all want to write!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A new contest

First, I'd like to say that falling out of the habit of regularly blogging blows; it's like taking a break from college, or quitting exercising for a while- it is so very hard to get back into the habit. Second, yet another apology to David, my wife has been driving around with your loot from my contests in the back of her minivan for something like a month now. Mea culpa, I should have taken care of it myself.

Art by Todd Lockwood.

Now, on to the contest, generously sponsored by Warlord Games (so far), I have a box of their Celtic Warriors, from their Hail Caesar line of products ready to send to the winner. I'll also throw in a copy of the AD&D 2nd edition "Celts Campaign Sourcebook" for 2nd place and, I guess, a pdf of same for 3rd place.

The contest, since it is October, is to get something Celtic and/or Horror themed (better if it's both), short adventure, long adventure, monster(s), anything that fits the theme and is OSR related, anything from B/X to AD&D to Call of Cthulu will be welcomed. Adventures will be judged by my small, elite group of players and myself, anything that can't really be classified as an adventure will be judged by the Council of Central NY Game Masters.

All entries should be received by midnight EST,October 31st and the winner(s) shall be announced sometime in early November. Authors retain the rights to their work, so feel free to publish it on drivethru RPG/RPG Now, I also make no claim to any art created for or used in your contest entries. Enter as many times as you want, at the end of the contest I'll put all the files together in a zip file and upload it to Dropbox or some other storage site.

Happy October!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I DMed some 1st edition AD&D today....

... And it was awesome. Thanks for pulling me out of retirement Darryl, I needed that. I really can't wait to DM again.

That is all.

Have a good rest of the week everybody!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What I have been doing lately...

Since last year, I've picked up a ton of OSR stuff in print- ranging from Expeditious Retreat Press' "Malevolent and Benign" to Lamentations of the Flame Princess' "Player Core Book: Rules and Magic", I also bought a whole lot of miniatures, mostly WWII and Ancient Romans and Gauls/Britons, for use with my B/X WWII game (still in early development) and 43 AD respectively. I also did something I expressly stated I wouldn't do, I bought the new Players Handbook (and the starter set, but even at 1/2 price I think it was a waste of money).  Oh, and I completed my 3rd edition Legend of the Five Rings RPG collection, and started on the 4th edition with the core rulebook.

Now, the new D&D surprised me, after Gen Con everyone was all raving about it, so curiosity got the better of me and I order it on Amazon, I haven't had a chance to look at really yet, because my lovely wife Mona has been reading through it.  Oh, and I also bought a ton of Pendragon stuff, from 1st edition through 5.1, I kind of felt like I had to when I found "The Great Pendragon Campaign" for a mere $60.00US in a game store in Germany, 1st (only?) printing, mint condition. I actually want to run some Pendragon now, but I haven't figured out how to go about it. I am considering PBEM because my gaming group has grown up and gone to college and moved out of the house. I only have my youngest, Ember, left here now and she'll be gone in a couple of years.

I suppose I should have seen it coming, this isn't the first time I've lost pretty much my whole gaming group because they grew up and moved away. The last time it was my brother Jon's friends, he's nine and a half years younger than me, so I was in my mid-to-late twenties when I ran AD&D (2nd edition, they were oddly reticent to play 1st edition) for those lads. Eventually I switched to 3rd edition, but they were mostly gone by then. I ran Hackmaster (4th edition)  for a while after I gave up on D&D, really it's the first retroclone though, right? Anyway, my oldest two children have moved on, although John is forced out of the dorm for holidays and between semesters, so I see him then. Ashli calls a couple of times a week usually.

 In theory I am still working on a super-hero genre RPG based on Joshua Guess' book Next (and it's impending sequels), but I haven't really been doing much of anything but playing "Civilization 5", "Mount and Blade" and the "Panzer General" clone "Panzer Corps", and by playing Civ5, I really mean working on a mod. "Mount and Blade" is great, because it's a sandbox RPG, but I became mightily peeved with it on Sunday when my saved game corrupted, why didn't I think to do alternating save slots? I tried starting over, but that kind of blows. I am accustomed now to being the most powerful lord in my Kingdom, who single-handedly  brought the other four Kingdoms (OK, one is a Khanate) of Calradia to their knees, commanding armies of 4-500 elite troops. I was an axe-wielding god of death, now bandits can beat my ass and take me prisoner.

"Panzer Corps" continues to please though, it has all of the good turn based strategy of "Panzer General"- even the maps look the same and the controls are identical, but the scenarios in the Grand Campaign are different enough from PG to be fresh and challenging.

Anyway, it's late here and I am rambling, so I'll just mention that I also got a couple of different flavors of "Swords and Wizardry" and bought everything available for the "Basic Fantasy" RPG. I am going to sign off for tonight and I'll try to start posting more again. Before I was blogging about gaming almost every day, but when you take year off the habit gets broken, now I have to reinstate it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It's been over a year...

It's been over a year since I wrote anything for this blog, and it was a sit spotty for about a year before that. I tried to keep things going for a while, but I was much more greatly affected by the death of my sister than I could have ever imagined. I've really screwed up my credibility by failing to deliver prizes to a bunch of contest winners, for which I have no excuse. I still have all of the prizes, and if I owe you one, and you are still reading my blog, contact me and I'll get them to you.

I haven't really gamed at all for roughly the same period of time, but now I am in a better place and want to DM again. I am thinking Lamentations of the Flame Princess, mostly because I want to step out of the generic quasi-western European fantasy D&D mold, while still actually using a game system I am familiar with. I picked up a couple of the modules for it, and I had a few more and a pdf of the Grindhouse edition (and Vornheim) but when my last computer finally died, at the age of eleven, I lost my LotFP stuff, but they have a free version available on RPG Now/Drive through RPG, so I guess I'll print that out. Anyone in the Northern Central NY area want to play?

I am also working on another RPG based on Joshua Guess' Next with my long time collaborator Darryl Cook and my lovely wife Mona AKA Saint Mona the Patient, who keeps me out of jail. It's good to be working on projects again, but Darryl really has the lead on this one. Baby steps back out into the world. Speaking of Darryl and me working on RPG stuff together, 43 AD is now available in print on demand format on LULU, we play-tested it and edited it, the author is Paul Elliot, the man behind Zozer Games.

James Raggi- my wife would like to do some art for you.

I guess that's all I have to say for now. I know it's been a while, and you'd think I'd have more, but I've had a rough couple of years. Be well everyone, and I'll try to make this a regular thing again, but I am a little out of the loop right now, so I need to do some catching up on OSR related news (I could really not care less about the new edition of D&D)