Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Deal of the Day is Up!

Now's your chance, fans of post-apocalyptic gaming. Project Oasis is 50% off at RPGNow and DriveThruRPG for the next 24 hours. Grab it while the grabbing is good!

You can purchase Project Oasis here

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Let's Read: Greyhawk Adventures (Part 9)

Ehlonna's tits! Am I still doing this series?

Yes. Yes I am. Even though the last installment was a shade under two years ago. (Sorry!) My work on 5E Greyhawk has given me renewed incentive to look through the sources for material, and Greyhawk Adventures is one of them.

This time out we look at the Magical Items of Greyhawk, and in my estimation this is one of the weakest chapters in the book. Not only are the origins and names completely unimaginative (with such entries as the casket of Furyondy, or the necklace of Almor), but the in-setting details are sometimes suspect. For example, we are told of the Dark Crown of Aerdy:
This evil headgear was worn by one of the original Overkings of the House of Naelex [sic] in the ancient Great Kingdom.
The problem being, of course, that the original Overkings were from the House of Rax. And it wasn't called the Great Kingdom at the beginning; it was the Kingdom of Aerdy until the Battle of a Fortnight's Length more than a century later. And they weren't decidedly evil until much later.  And the House of Rax was succeeded by the House of Naelax, not Naelex (we are similarly told that the capital of the Horned Society was Malog, when it should be Molag). It's just sloppy writing and editing, but it speaks to the almost afterthought-like vibe I get in this whole section.

I find this an enormous missed opportunity to have brought in all the "missed" magic items from the original Greyhawk campaign that never made it into the DMG or UA. Things like the needle/spear of Zagyg. Of course, that would have been difficult at the time, with Gygax, et al estranged from TSR. But instead we have mostly mediocre magic items with names of geographic locales from the Flanaess tacked on seemingly at random. What else to make of the prism of Greyhawk, which casts color spray and hypnotic pattern once per day? There's nothing there that particularly ties the item thematically to Greyhawk; it's just another magic item that any DM in the 11th grade could have come up with.

In some ways, the ones that do convey the theme of their place of origin are worse, because of the heavy-handed and completely unsubtle way in which they are handled. Take the red armor of the Hellfurnaces. It's plate armor +4 made from the hide of a red dragon, and allows the wearer to save vs. fire attacks for half or no damage. Get it? Hellfurnaces. Fire. It's a natural!

Now, to be fair, there are some that are genuinely clever in my opinion, and actually add to the flavor of the place whence they come. The chalice of the Shield Lands, for instance, allows the user (who must be a fighter) to take a holy vow and become a paladin of the same level for the duration of a single quest. That's a nicely themed, non-generic magic item in my view. The black sails of the Schnai are another great one; sails for funeral ships that, when the final piece is burned, summon the spirit of the warrior whose funeral ship it was, to fight for you. It's a nice call-back to the archetypical Viking ship-funeral, and that goes well with the generally Viking tone of that part of Greyhawk.

If the flaw of this section could be summed up in a single word, it would be rushed. The whole seems like it was knocked off in a day or two, with insufficient thought or research into the lands in which the magic items were supposed to have originated. Take, for a final example, the anvil of the Lortmil Mountains, which is a dwarven magic item that can allow the user to make blades worth 100 times their normal value. That's all well and good, until one considers that the Lortmil Mountains were under the control of humanoid tribes until the Hateful Wars some 75 years prior to the timeline of this book (the FtA era, 585 CY). Is that enough time for such an item to have been created? Sure, but wouldn't it have been much cooler to have a humanoid-themed item from the Lortmils, that predated their expulsion, and which could be used in some plot to reconquer the mountains? A few more minutes of reflection on each item might have produced far greater results for this entire chapter. On the whole, I find it a disappointment.

Next up: Geography of Oerth

Project Oasis 50% off tomorrow!

Hey all!

Just a quick note that Project Oasis, my post-apocalyptic RPG setting, will be tomorrow's Deal of the Day at RPGNow and DriveThruRPG, for 50% off the normal price.

One Day Only!

Project Oasis is a gonzo PA setting that draws inspiration from the post-apocalyptic aesthetic of the 1960's and 1970's. Think Planet of the Apes (movie, TV show, and Marvel Comics' original stories like Terror on the Planet of the Apes), Logan's Run, Genesis II, Planet Earth, Ark II, A Boy and His Dog, Mad Max, and the Ultimate Warrior (a very underestimated film in my opinion!).

Toss all that up in the air and let the pieces settle all over a continent-wide map of North America, throw in a 36 page guidebook that's very rules light (although it does have appendices with new monsters and technology, statted for both Apes Victorious and Mutant Future, although you can use it with almost any old-school science fantasy rules), and you get Project Oasis.

And it'll be just $4.98 tomorrow. I guarantee it will never be that price again.


A thousand years ago, the world died.
Now, out of the ashes of the great nuclear-biological Devastation comes a new world. A world where intelligent apes hunt humans for sport. A world where subterranean mutant cyborgs serve great disembodied brains and plot world domination. A world where apocalyptic cults try to finish what the bombs started. A world where frightful artificial intelligences command armies of robot servants, and entire nations of clones lead peaceful and productive lives, unless you’re not of the right clone-lineage. 
And it’s also a world where mankind and his newfound fellow intelligent species try to pick up the pieces and rebuild civilization.
This is a world where a force for good, knowledge, and science works to help restore that which was lost, to guide this new world onto a path of justice and learning. That force is called Project Oasis.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Greyhawk update/designer's notes


So back in January I announced that I was working on some 5E Greyhawk products on the off chance that Wizards of the Coast would eventually open up my favorite setting to designers on GM's Guild. No, this isn't some announcement that they have done so. I just want to give a quick update and let you know about the approach I'm taking.

Specifically, I've been working on what was the Players Guide to Greyhawk, because the rest all hinged on having Greyhawk-specific 5th edition material to make it all work. Unfortunately, that turned out to be too large a task for a single book.

So now, what was the Players Guide to Greyhawk is going to be three different books.

Most of the crunchy bits will be in the Player's Guide. The class options, the backgrounds, the spells, factions, etc. There will still be plenty of color, but this will be where the majority of the rules-heavy stuff will be found. All new, but a lot based on things from the earliest days of Greyhawk and the 1st Edition rules. Because I'm a 1E nerd, and proud of it.

The DM's Guide, on the other hand, is going to feature the new monsters (mostly drawn from the Greyhawk Adventures book and the Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk volume) and new magic items (again, mostly from the GA book). But the majority of it is going to give history and the current state of the Flanaess circa 576 CY; the same era as the original Folio and Gold Box editions. It will have all the information in those books, plus a lot more gleaned from all the other products that have come after; history, NPCs, etc. from various adventure modules, sourcebooks, boxed sets, articles, and some more outré sources that I think you'll find pretty cool.

I was going back and forth between just having a brief entry for each country, and going on a full-bore in-depth recitation based on the sources, and have decided to go with the latter. It won't be completely comprehensive (the book would be a thousand pages) but it'll cover everything the DM needs to get things going in 576.

And the third will be something I've been writing about for years; the Great Greyhawk Campaign. It would have all the information a DM needs to take the Greyhawk setting forward in time up to 591 CY, a full fifteen years of game time. And in so doing, it would allow the DM to set his or her game in those other periods that have been extensively covered in the past; 585 CY (From the Ashes), or 591 CY (Living Greyhawk Gazetteer).

So anyway, that which was one is now three. It's really no more work for me than I had originally envisioned (other than maybe the GGC book), but as I go through the sources, it's really just a question of putting the information in the right place.


And hey! Don't forget that the GM's Day sale is still going on, and you can find almost everything from BRW Games on 30% off; if you ever wanted to check out Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, or nearly anything else, now's the time!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Playtesters Needed - 5E


I find myself in need of playtesters for some 5th edition D&D material I'm writing up. If you're a DM with an established group, preferably playing in a World of Greyhawk campaign (but that's not necessary, as long as you can use WoG-centric stuff in your campaign), and are interested in playtesting some new player options including class options, spells, backgrounds, etc. please send an email to

You and your players will be asked to sign an NDA, and will receive regular updates with new material to try out.

Thanks in advance!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

All my stuff is 30% off for the GM's Day Sale

Happy GM's Day!

You can get all my books, including my latest, Project Oasis, for 30% off at OBS's GM's Day sale this weekend. Just click here:


(Please note that Project Oasis will be on sale today only, so if you want to get it, don't dawdle!)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Project Oasis Now Available (updated)

I'm very pleased to announce that the latest BRW Games title, Project Oasis, is now available at

Project Oasis is a gonzo kitchen-sink post-apocalyptic campaign setting. It contains a complete overview of 30th century North America, including new creatures and equipment for both the Mutant Future™ and Apes Victorious™ games, more than a hundred adventure hooks, plus a giant poster map.

There are out-of-control artificial intelligences, mutant cyborg conspiracies, radioactive dinosaurs with cybernetic mounted energy weapons, clones, self-contained arcologies, high-tech enclaves working towards civilization (or conquest), and of course apes, all set in a post-Devastation landscape a thousand years in the future.

The guidebook is 36 pages and includes a huge full-color poster map of 30th century North America.

Buy it here!

Update: Someone asked for a sample page in the comments, because it's not available on RPGNow. Here you go! (Click to embiggen)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Attention Mutant Future and Apes Victorious fans!

I've been working feverishly on a little something for y'all...

I know... it's naughty of me to have something in the works and not let anyone know. Well, consider the cat out of the bag. The book is around 36 pages (and it's all written; I'm just polishing obsessively at this point), will accommodate both the Mutant Future™ and Apes Victorious™ rules from Goblinoid Games (but mechanics are very light, and it'll really be usable with any science fantasy rules, even that one with the Greek letter in the name... umm... Theta World or something?), and will also feature a huge poster map suitable for printing and framing. Here's a meager sample:

This isn't a typical post-apocalyptic setting where everything is ruins and wastelands; this is one with a semi-civilized world to explore and interact with. There are pockets of high technology trying to civilize (or conquer!) the rest of the world. It's very much a gonzo kitchen sink setting, think a mish-mash of every 70's post-apocalyptic theme you can think of (especially Genesis II/Planet Earth and Marvel Comics' Terror on the Planet of the Apes). 

I think it's safe to say that release is imminent. It'll be all pdf and print-it-your-own-damn-self, but fans of the original World of Greyhawk folio will find the book format very familiar. :-)

Look for an announcement that it's available soon. Really soon. Did I mention I was obsessively polishing?

What, you want more? Fine. Here's the back cover copy:
A thousand years ago, the world died.
Now, out of the ashes of the great nuclear-biological Devastation comes a new world. A world where intelligent apes hunt humans for sport. A world where subterranean mutant cyborgs serve great disembodied brains and plot world domination. A world where apocalyptic cults try to finish what the bombs started. A world where frightful artificial intelligences command armies of robot servants, and entire nations of clones lead peaceful and productive lives, unless you’re not of the right clone-lineage. 
And it’s also a world where mankind and his newfound fellow intelligent species try to pick up the pieces and rebuild civilization.
This is a world where a force for good, knowledge, and science works to help restore that which was lost, to guide this new world onto a path of justice and learning. That force is called Project Oasis.

Friday, January 13, 2017

BRW Games Greyhawk Product Announcements (sortakinda)

Going through the Great Greyhawk Survey really got me thinking about what might happen if my favorite RPG setting* is ever opened up in Wizards of the Coast's Dungeon Masters Guild. Specifically, there's a line in the FAQ that opens up the possibility:
Q: Is this going to remain Forgotten Realms only, or are other settings/IPs to be considered in the future??
A: We intend to open up additional settings and IP as time goes on. However, for the time being, we will remain focused on the Forgotten Realms.
So it's definitely possible, even likely (especially considering they brought Ravenloft into the fold), that Greyhawk will be an option someday. I have to reiterate that I have no idea when that will happen, or even if it ever will, but I am basing all this on the (admittedly speculative) idea that it will. Eventually. I'm guessing within two years, but it could be next week for all I know (in which case, boy am I behind schedule!). 

With all that said, here are the sortakinda product announcements, dependent entirely on whether or not WotC ever adds Greyhawk to the list of settings in the DMs Guild. Even if I just end up writing them for my own game, they'll get written.

Players Guide to Greyhawk. A collection of new class options, backgrounds, spells, magic items, etc. etc. etc. Basically fleshing out all the options the game currently has, with Greyhawk-specific material. This is more than half written right now, for my home game, and some of it has been published here on the blog.

Central Flanaess Gazetteer. A complete overview of the central Flanaess south of the Nyr Dyv in CY 576, from the Kron Hills to the Wild Coast, allowing sandbox-style play across the region. This has actually already been in the works for my own personal use for more than a year now, especially a very detailed, small-scale map of the whole region, and in the "mostly already written" category. I'll proceed to be much more systematic in filling in the pieces. Will have information on history, politics, and economics; notable NPCs; settlements and natural features; and of course plenty of adventure hooks. There will be stuff in there that sets up the Greyhawk Wars and beyond, but a DM wouldn't need to go in that direction by any stretch of the imagination. Would be written for 5E, because that's what the DMs Guild wants.

Temple of Elemental Evil 5th Edition Conversion and Campaign Expansion. This one is also mostly written, again for my own use. Not only would it include 5E stats for all the NPCs and monsters, but a revised (fixed) map and a brand-new dungeon level four, for DMs who want to end the adventure more in line with the original intention, including a link to the Elder Elemental God (and thus tie-ins to Vault of the Drow). Will also include brand-new material detailing other old Temple outposts (including the Watchtower at the border of the Suss and Gnarley forests), Sobanwych, which Temple agents have thoroughly infiltrated, and those two "danger, evil!" symbols on the High Road in the original maps:

Verbobonc. A complete sourcebook detailing this critical town and surrounding Viscounty commanding the Velverdyva River, set in CY 576. Will detail the city itself, with a large map, plus lots of separate adventure hooks too, of course. Obviously this city could loom large in a ToEE campaign, and so fits in nicely with the above. This is something I haven't started writing at all yet. 

Dyvers: City of Sails. A full treatment of Greyhawk's greatest rival (echoing the rivalry between Chicago and Milwaukee), standing at the western end of the Nyr Dyv, as of CY 576. Will include a full-sized map and sourcebook detailing each quarter of the city, notable NPCs, and the like. This is something I'll have to write from scratch. I've got a map roughed out, but that's about it. 

I might also do a couple of stand-alone adventures in the region, just to flesh out some of the potentialities.

But of course this is a weird situation, as I'm going ahead with the work of writing even before I know for sure that there will be able to ever sell the damn things. But the way I figure it, this is as much an excuse to sit down and get the work done for my own campaign; a 5E sandbox stretching from the Wild Coast to the Nyr Dyv, the Mistmarsh to the Kron Hills. 

Consider it being written "on spec" (and I have one or two projects that are on deadline and must be finished first), and setting me up to be ready out of the gate if and when WotC ever opens up the DMs Guild to Greyhawk products. Look for announcements about Kickstarters right after that happens (for art and editing, as always), but I've always had products written and in-hand before I went that route in the past, and I will want to do the same here.

* This blog isn't called Greyhawk Grognard for nothing. :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Great Greyhawk Survey - Results

First off, thanks to all of the 640 (as of this writing) people who took the time to respond to my little survey. It's great to see folks are still interested in Greyhawk after all these years of, shall we say, not being at the forefront of the official D&D game. Let's dive right in; for each graph, click to embiggen.

1. For which rule system would you like to see new Greyhawk material written?

The results here were unambiguous, if a little surprising given my (presumed) audience. 48% said they'd like to see 5E Greyhawk while 40% said 1E was their preferred system. Nothing else even came close, although there was a notable number of "Pathfinder" responses in the "other" category (but again, not even close to 5E or 1E). Nothing else broke the 17% mark.

2. What is your favorite Greyhawk timeframe?

Again, this wasn't even close. The 565 CY timeframe (the same as the original folio and gold box) was the runaway winner with just over 50% support. Nothing else came close.

3. What types of new Greyhawk products would you be interested in purchasing?

Here the results were a lot more diverse. Five answers broke 50% support, and most of the others were pretty strong, too ("non-rpg products" trailed definitively with 15%). Individual adventures (like “White Plume Mountain”) topped the list, followed closely by Mini-campaigns (like “Temple of Elemental Evil”), Regional sourcebooks (like “Iuz the Evil”), City sourcebooks, and Gazetteer-type books covering other regions of Oerth (which got almost 60% support).

Basically, folks want anything for Greyhawk to use in their RPG games.

4. What types of adventures would you like to see?

Pretty unsurprisingly, combinations of dungeon crawl, wilderness, and urban adventures were more popular than any of those individual choices, and combinations of RP, combat, and puzzle-solving adventures were more popular than any of those.

5. What regional sourcebooks in the Flanaess would you like to see?

This was intended to be a question only for people who answered "Regional sourcebooks" in question 3, but I was somewhat limited by the tool, so included a "not interested" option. Even so, 200 people who didn't say they wanted regional sourcebooks answered. Go figure.

The Central Flanaess had a slight edge, being the only option that broke 60%, but the Sheldomar Valley (Keoland, etc.), West-central Flanaess (Furyondy, Veluna, etc.), and Great Kingdom each beat 50%.

Given that Veluna, the central Flanaess, and Great Kingdom all had regional sourcebooks released (although the latter was a free release, as it was never actually published), I can only conclude that folks want to see pre-Wars versions of all those sourcebooks.

The Great Grinch-hawk Award goes to the guy who answered "none, no new products, thanks" to this and several other questions. I'm guessing he's also the person who left a rather... spirited... comment on the original post that I had to delete because it was little more than self-indulgent name-calling designed to insult any Greyhawk fan who didn't fit in with his personal idea of what the setting should be like. Nightscreed, you are missed. ;-)

6. Which cities would you like to see featured in a sourcebook?

Same notation as on question 5; I included a "not interested" option, but a ton more people answered anyway, despite saying they didn't want city sourcebooks in question 3. Greyhawk, Dyvers, and Verbobonc all broke 50%, and Irongate was a strong finisher as well.

7. Which other regions of Oerth would you like to see featured in a gazetteer-type book?

No question; the Sea of Dust was the clear winner here. Hepmonaland and the Baklunish Basin were somewhat distant also-rans, but folks don't really seem jazzed about western Oerik. Which sucks, because that's really what I want to see, personally.

8. What types of RPG rules supplements would you like to see specifically for Greyhawk?

All of the options here were pretty strongly supported, magic items/spells/monsters had a slight lead, character races/classes lagged a little behind, but everything was within 15% or so.

9. What sort of non-RPG products would you like to see specifically for Greyhawk?

I included this because it's something of a wish of my own to see board games and wargames and such set in Greyhawk, but as noted above, only 15% of respondents wanted non-RPG Greyhawk material in question 3. Fiction did clearly lead the list, with 30% support; still nothing to write home about (heh). Nothing else broke 12%. Alas.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Last Chance - Great Greyhawk Survey

The response to my Great Greyhawk Survey has been great, and I'm getting ready to post the results here, but I wanted to give everyone a last chance to make their voice heard. Just to reiterate, this is purely for amusement/informational purposes, and doesn't reflect any sort of insider knowledge of WotC's plans for the setting.

I'll be collecting and posting the final results on Wednesday evening, so you've got about 48 hours to get your results in. Have at it, and please feel free to spread the word in appropriate places.

You can find the survey here.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Thoughts on Post-Apocalyptic Games

I just received Goblinoid Games' wonderful Apes Victorious hard copy book today (I am a HUGE Planet of the Apes fan), and having looked through it, I find myself thinking of a post-apocalyptic sort of game that doesn't seem to be very current, although the concept was pretty alive in the 1970's, when I was earning my sci-fi chops.

I'm talking about the notion that in a post-apocalyptic world, civilization hasn't completely fallen. There are not only pockets of relative civilization (as we see in movies such as The Ultimate Warrior, where a handful of survivors is peaceful and develops new crop strains in the middle of Manhattan), but there are outright civilizations, usually single cities, sprinkled throughout the wasteland. Sometimes we see those cities or organizations sending teams out to restore civilization.

Logan's Run is a great example. We have the City of Domes, a bastion of civilization and high technology in and amongst the ruins of the holocaust. If one goes to the (in my opinion, underrated) television show, there are outposts of savagery and civilization across the blasted landscape.

There's also the pair of made-for-TV movies, Genesis II and Planet Earth, made by Gene Roddenberry as pilots for a potential new series that, alas, never happened. There we see the organization known as PAX, which sends agents to various pockets of savagery to try to elevate them, while at the same time subtly undermining more militant cultures.

Which brings us to Planet of the Apes, the TV series. That featured a planet Earth that was a bit more balanced than the one we saw in the original movie, Humans could still speak, although they were pretty much slaves (or at best serfs) in ape society. But there was also an underlying plot line where there was some technological society that still existed, and that was the hope of the astronauts Burke and Vern; to find that civilization and get their ship back into space, and thus back home.

And the kids television show Ark II, which featured a crew of suitably-multicultural scientists in a super-technological truck roaming across the post-apocalyptic wilderness bringing the benefits of science to the survivors. And they had an intelligent chimp and took every opportunity to use the jet-pack!

The Judge Dredd comics (I omit mention of the movies by choice) have the same set-up. There are the three Mega-Cities, and in between them are the radioactive wastelands (the "cursed earth"), full of anarchy, mutants, and untold dangers.

And let's not forget the Buck Rogers movie and TV show, where the gleaming city of New Chicago arose from the ruins of Old Chicago, where there were still packs of uncivilized survivors running around making trouble for the members of the spacefaring civilization that takes a stroll outside the confines of their enclave.

The Apes Victorious book makes me think along those lines, for some reason. A grand post-apocalyptic campaign where there's a bastion of civilization in and amongst various pockets of semi-civilization, separated by radioactive hellwastes filled with mutants.

I never got the impression from the original Gamma World that its default milieu was so organized. But I'm contemplating a campaign where there's a high-tech city in the Rocky Mountains, and blasted wilderness across most of North America filled with mutants, with an ape civilization in the northeast, a mutant civilization adjacent (with huge brains in jars!), the various Gamma World factions around as nation-states (or something akin to that), the southwest with genetically engineered dinosaur cyborg war machines, and so forth.

I am really liking this idea. Not only does it give opportunities for more role-playing goodness, but it's also a way to slide the apes' milieu into the whole Gamma World-esque post-apocalyptic world. It's just another piece of a huge jigsaw spread across North America. My idea for the Beanstalk could easily be fitted into this sort of concept; indeed, the Beanstalk could be the high-tech center trying to bring civilization back to the Earth.

I want to run this, damnit!