Friday, November 20, 2015

More pig faced orcs (now in 15mm!)

Last year, I posted that I had found some nice, and relatively inexpensive, true 25mm pig-faced orcs, and some shots of them pre- and post-painting.

Well, something I've been looking for for years are 15mm pig-faced orcs, to use in miniatures wargaming. Well, Splintered Light Miniatures has finally come to the rescue, with a bunch of truly beautiful casts in 15mm. These figures really capture the feel of the orcs as they were originally in AD&D, down to the weapons and shape of the shields. The detail is really good for 15mm, and the lines are pretty sharp. All in all, these are excellent figures. 

By the way, BRW Games will also be carrying these figures at conventions. Not just the pig-faced orcs, but kobolds, bugbears, and a bunch of other figures from Splintered Light. They might just fit in with a product we have upcoming...

Here are some of the orcs straight out of the bag, before I'd done any cleaning up, so these will give you an idea of the flash and mold sprues that were attached. Not bad at all, and I was able to clean it all off of a total of 24 figures in about ten minutes. Only one figure had a base that needed filing to stand straight, so all in all I'm really happy with the quality of the casts. This is the "Pig Faced Orc Warband", which retails for US$20.

And here they are after I've cleaned off the flash, in the box ready to be primed. I'll be using a simplified version of the paint scheme I used with the 25mm figures, although I'll be able to use both mustard and purple cloaks, since there are several figures that have them.

Tomorrow, a unit of miniatures to paint, the Jessica Jones series to watch, and my wife and daughter out for the day at a concert. My Saturday is set. More pics when I'm done painting and basing!

Coming soon: Airfix the wargame

When I was a kid, I had a ton of World War II model figures. Infantry, jeeps, tanks, mostly in 1:72 scale, and mostly from Airfix. This was before I ad ever heard of wargaming or RPGs; I just liked to collect the figures, and (sometimes) paint them (not very well at all, me being about 7 years old).

So imagine my surprise when I see this come across my feed this morning:
Airfix is a fondly remembered part of every boy’s childhood and the company are famous for their line of injection-moulded plastic aircraft, tanks and soldiers.  The Airfix brand has been synonymous with model kits for years and now it’s back with a vengeance, with Airfix Battles bringing those adventures to life and its campaigns to a tabletop near you

Playable with all your existing Airfix figures and vehicles, Airfix Battles Introductory Set comes with everything you need to play exciting World War Two battles straight out of the box with the Introductory Set. 
This includes die cut cardboard counters for tanks, infantry and guns in case you don't have any figures to hand. Airfix Battles also lets you plan your army using the Force Deck. Draw the cards or select the ones you need to build an exciting army to challenge your friends.
You can sign up to be notified when the pre-order goes live. I'll definitely be in on this, if for no other reason than nostalgia. Although it's worth noting that you don't have to use figures to play the game, so at least I won't have to start haunting hobby model shops again.

(h/t Paint it Pink)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

We're Number One!

Wow! Thanks to you, the Golden Scroll of Justice is currently the number one best selling product on

Thanks, guys and gals. That sort of support means a lot.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Golden Scroll of Justice now available

The Golden Scroll of Justice lets you bring your old-school RPG into a whole new world of wuxia/kung fu action based on Chinese mythology, history, and folklore. The book contains:

  • Two new PC races: the shanxiao (monkey-man) and gouren (dog-man)
  • Two new character classes: the wu and the fangshi, along with guidelines on how to use your existing classes in a mythic China setting
  • Hundreds of new spells
  • Rules for kung fu that fit seemlessly into the existing combat and skill system, but still allows for cool "cinematic" moves
  • New weapons and armor
  • New magic items
  • New monsters
  • And much more!

The rules are designed to be completely modular; take what you like, leave what you don't. Want fangshi and gouren but not the kung fu system? No problem. Everything will still work fine. And it's compatible with just about every old-school RPG out there. You can find the book here, available in softcover, hardcover, and pdf. And as always, the hard copies come with the pdf version at no additional cost.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Another Golden Scroll art preview

With everything aligning so that I expect a November/early December release of the Golden Scroll of Justice wuxia/kung-fu plus mythic China old-school rule supplement, I just couldn't keep this beauty to myself...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore - more than half off today only!


Just wanted to let everyone know that A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore is the Deal of the Day today over at OneBookShelf. You can get the pdf for the ludicrously low price of $4.23!

So if you were interested in seeing the new character classes (bard, jester, mystic, savant, and mountebank) that are included in Adventures Dark and Deep, and all their spells, and the new combat system, and the rules for treasure and naval combat, and some of the new monsters, you literally won't have a better time than today. Ever.

And everything's modular, so you can plug in the pieces you like into your own old school game, and leave the rest. This book is designed to be a supplement for your already-existing game.

Really, how can you not?

Click here to get it!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Golden Scroll of Justice - art preview

My wuxia/mythic China book is right on schedule for a November/early December release, just in time for your Yuletide shopping needs. Most of the art is in hand, the editor is dutifully editing, and the rest of the art is on schedule to be delivered by the end of this month.

Thought I'd whet your appetites with a couple of pieces from the book. I give you the staff of kung fu, by the ever talented Christopher R. Conklin:

And the Imperial Court, by Khairul Hisham:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On Settings

There is something of a conversation going around certain corners of the OSRisphere about settings. Are they needed? Are they a good thing? Is there value in someone else's setting when you're doing your own? And so forth. Most of this discussion seems to have been inspired by a quasi-review of the RPGPundit's excellent Dark Albion book.

I was particularly struck by two comments in all the brou-ha-ha; "You don't need a campaign setting to play D&D", and "Rpg settings solve a problem I don't have", both not-so-coincidentally by Jeffro Johnson, whose original post about Dark Albion seems to have been the genesis of the current discussion.

There's little to disagree with in the first comment, on its face. Of course it's not necessary to have a campaign setting to play the game. Conventions are stuffed with one-shot games, the earliest published modules were pretty much stand-alone (with perfunctory mentions of outside events and places that had little to no impact on the actual adventure), and it can be argued that the first few Castle Greyhawk games that were played, that formed the genesis of the game as we know it, were set in a vacuum; the City of Greyhawk and broader World came later.

That said, even the most rudimentary dungeon crawl assumes a world. I've written about the implied setting that is baked into the rules. Doesn't matter if the DM hasn't detailed the leaders of the thieves' guild, the gods of the clerics, or the stats of the Grand Druid. They're out there somewhere.

And on a practical level, while it is certainly possible to play the game without a coherent campaign setting, outside of conventions and one-shots, nobody plays it that way. Whether they use a published setting, such as the World of Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms (or Dark Albion), or the DM has gone to the trouble of creating a new and unique campaign world, that's the way the vast majority of players approach the game.

So, while it's technically true, "you don't need a campaign setting to play D&D" is neither relevant nor helpful to the discussion. Indeed, in the context of the larger discussion, it seems a rather petulant attempt to knock Dark Albion, once it was pointed out that it is not a complete rule set so much as a setting with specific rule variations.

The second quote is actually the more interesting of the two, implying, as it does, that when a DM creates a setting, no other input is required (or welcome). Speaking as a DM who has used both published and homebrewed settings for going on forty years, I find that sentiment simply untenable (not to mention hubristic in the extreme).

Setting aside for the moment the simple fact that any DM who has read any fantasy novels or stories written in the last seventy years is, to one degree or another, building on those settings (and if you think a fiction setting is any different from an RPG setting in anything other than the level of systematic detail presented, you're deluded), the simple fact of the matter is that no one, no matter how clever, inventive, or well-read, can't benefit from someone else's ideas when it comes to devising or maintaining a campaign setting.

Especially in an environment such as D&D, and RPGs in general, where magpies are not only tolerated, but encouraged, taking bits and pieces from here and there is what we do as DMs. Do you honestly think there would be a Castle Greyhawk or Blackmoor without a Moria, or a Quarmall, or a Xuchotil? Pfft.

How many times have I found inspiration in someone else's setting, and taken something (whole or in part) and used it in my own? More often by far, I don't take things whole-cloth, but seeing what someone else has done in their own world sparks new ideas in my own mind, sending me down paths that I would never have gone otherwise. Just like a good fantasy novel.

So you don't have a problem that RPG settings solve? You have the absolute perfect campaign, incapable of any improvement, a godlike work of creativity that flows unstilled and unsullied by any outside influences? You're unique. And, I must say, I wouldn't want to play in your game, because your campaign sounds pretty boring. Why would I want to play in a game limited by the imagination of a single person held in self-imposed isolation, when I can play in a game borne of the imagination of a person whose creativity is sparked and prodded and pushed down avenues that it would never have been otherwise, simply by virtue of reading what other people have done in similar (or entirely different) situations?

But again, that quote does seem more than a little bit petulant in context. Just knocking the idea of settings in general, when caught on a simple factual point that Dark Albion isn't a rule set, but a setting with some rules. But hey, it did inspire my own imagination to start thinking about inspirations for posts, so it can't be a completely bad thing.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Iggwilv's Horn

I would like to think this photo taken in the Alps would have been the inspiration for Iggwilv's Horn (although I know it's not the case). The fact that the cloud makes the effect is just perfect.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mixing Module Styles

A question for the Peanut Gallery. When you're running or playing in an adventure module, do you like it to have a single consistent "tone" (role-playing, combat, exploration, dungeon crawling, etc.), or do you like to mix it up and have different styles?

For instance, I'm working on a project right now, and the way the outline is going, it's got:
  • Combat 
  • Investigation/detective work
  • Combat
  • Role-playing
  • Role-playing
  • Dungeon crawl
  • Infiltration/dungeon crawl
I'm a little worried that the investigative and role-playing chapters will frustrate folks who just like combat and dungeon crawls, and the reverse for the people who really enjoy putting role-playing first and foremost.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Darker Paths 3: The Demonolater now available!

And now, just in time for the festive Halloween season, a new addition to the Darker Paths line of evil character classes for your 1E-compatible game, the Demonolater.

Demonolaters are priests who serve demon lords and ladies. The character class is a sub-class of cleric, but each demon lord has priests with special powers and spells, nearly 40 of which are included (with names like dark offering, invite possession, and warp reality).

This supplement also includes rules for demonic pacts and statistics for the demon lord Dagon and his minions, the dreaded carcharo demons.

You can buy the Demonolater on its own for just $4.25, or if you've been holding out for a collection of all three Darker Paths books (the Necromancer, the Witch, and now the Demonolater), you can get a bundle for just $9.95 (that's around 30% off the individual price!).

Thursday, October 8, 2015

31 Days of Halloween: Grimoires

Grimoires, or magical books, are a tradition in European magical circles that goes back at least a thousand years (further, if one counts the Classical magical tradition). They are not merely spell books, although they do contain spells. They combine essays on esoteric knowledge, philosophy, and practical spell-casting. They were known all over Europe, from Scandinavia (where they were known as Black Books, or Cyprian books, after Cyprianus, their supposed author) to Italy and Spain. Some dealt with necromancy, some with summoning demons (a specialty known as goetia) and more mundane folk-magical practices such as the writing of magic symbols to attract love, discover the identity of thieves, etc.

I always like to have the magic books players discover in my game be more than simple spell books, and include other bits of in-game knowledge that might, or might not, be useful sometime in the future. And, since as an old-school gamer I'm all about random tables, I give you...

What’s so special about this grimoire?

  1. It’s inhabited by an evil spirit that will try to get the reader to commit evil acts using the knowledge within.
  2. It has a series of monster summoning spells that can only be used on one of the lower planes (Nine Hells, Hades, etc.).
  3. Its binding is made of tanned halfling skin.
  4. It has a version of the spell animate dead that creates special undead versions of lesser devils, but can only be used while in the Nine Hells.
  5. It is written in a code that requires the use of read languages as well as read magic to make any sense of it.
  6. The first half of the book has mage spells, the second half has illusionist spells.
  7. It contains the formulae to create three potions (determine type randomly).
  8. It appears to be a dry tome dealing with geometry as it relates to alteration magic. In reality, several high level spells are encoded in the text, and can only be discovered through intense study.
  9. It is from another dimension, and contains spells that will not work in this universe. (Just wait until someone wants to buy it from you very, very badly…)
  10. It is incredibly ancient, from a time when 10th and 11th level mage spells could still be cast. And it has several of them in its pages, including some with provocative names like “Ocean to Desert”, “Create Intelligent Race”, and “Destroy Moon”.
  11. It appears to be an ordinary spell book, but in secret pages between its regular pages is the exact process to become a lich.
  12. It is the diary of a deity from the last few months before its apotheosis into godhood. It contains profound spiritual insights.
  13. It is the prayer book for a deity no one has ever heard of before. In this universe, at least.
  14. It claims to have knowledge which is a mirror of reality; protective circles effective against the Angels of the Nine Hells, airy water spells that can't be cast underwater, protection from cold spells which claim to be proof against fireballs, etc. 
  15. You age one year for every page you turn.
  16. The book itself is sentient, and has a face on the cover that will speak to you. Its personality is… colorful.
  17. It is written entirely in inked mice paw prints, like some odd type of cuneiform.
  18. It is the Master Book of Law for the kingdom. Literally, as items are added or crossed out, the laws of the land change magically.
  19. If you flip randomly to a page, you'll find a spell that you will absolutely need within 24 hours, no matter how unlikely it may seem.
  20. It's written backwards, and even with a read magic spell requires a mirror to read properly.
(My 31 Days of Halloween series is happening over at my non-gaming blog; do pop over there to see more Halloween goodies that might not have a particular gaming slant.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Review: Empire of Imagination

Nice homage to the cover of
"Unearthed Arcana"
Note: This is a repost from June, but since the book is due out today, I thought it was worth another look.

Michael Witwer's Empire of Imagination (coming October 6, but available at Amazon) is a biography of Gary Gygax, an individual who will need no introduction to my readers.

Witwer's book covers similar ground to other books published over the last couple of years, such as Playing at the World, Designers & Dragons, and Of Dice and Men, but does so with a particular emphasis on Gygax himself, including a lot of non-game-related information not covered in most other works. That said, there's not much relating directly to D&D or TSR that you won't find in those other books.

Witwer's style is light and easy to read. I found his accounts of events compelling, and actively looked forward to picking the book up again each time.

Although the sub-title of the book, "Gary Gygax and the birth of Dungeons & Dragons" does telegraph that the period up to the mid-1980's will receive the most coverage, I found this to be the greatest deficiency in the book. What we have is not a biography of Gary Gygax, but only the first half of one. Everything past 1987 or so is mentioned almost as an afterthought, covering thirty years in thirty pages. Suddenly Gygax has a second wife, of whom we have not previously heard. His later work with other companies such as Troll Lord Games is given but a single sentence, and no word is given at all to his rapprochement with the publishers of D&D (by that time Wizards of the Coast) and his renewed series of articles in Dragon magazine.

I think a more balanced look at the whole of Gygax's life and career would have been both more interesting and valuable than yet another look at the intricate details of 1970-75. It should be taken as a compliment that the only major deficiency I find in Empire of Imagination is that it's not long enough. I could easily have read another hundred pages that went into an equal amount of detail on the post-TSR years of Gygax's life.

Note: I requested, and was sent, an advance review copy of this book by the publisher.

31 Days of Halloween: Dark Offering

For today's entry, here's a gruesome little preview of the upcoming Darker Paths 3: The Demonolater. Demonolaters are a sub-class of cleric, priests of the demon princes of the Abyss, with custom spells, special powers depending on their particular patron demon, and more. One of the new spells in the book is this one, that gives an in-game justification for performing human sacrifices in a ritual setting.

(My 31 Days of Halloween series is happening over at my non-gaming blog; do pop over there to see more Halloween goodies that might not have a particular gaming slant.)