Time to Get Your Ende On – NOD 23!

I remember when I knocked these out in two months …

Nonetheless, NOD 23 is ready for download on Lulu.com:

NOD 23 features the beginning of the India-inspired Ende hex crawl, the end of the Dungeon of the Apes adventure, a random list of weird things to do with wizard brains, Thor vs. the Monster Maids – a new hero and villain for Mystery Men! and four new mythic races inspired by Indian mytholody. 64 pages.

Selling for $3.99 folks – check it out if you have a mind to.

On the Bloody Basic front – Classic Edition is written and being edited. Blood Basic-Contemporary Edition is written and not yet being edited – it features different races – automatons, drakkars and tieflings – and some different classes – sorcerer instead of magic-user – and sub-classes – arcane archer, monk, warlock and shadowdancer, as well as a few different modern spells and a bunch of more modern monsters. I’m dealing with a research conference for the next few days, but I’ll try to find some time to edit it. I’m about halfway through writing Bloody Basic-Chaos Edition.

In other news – May is going to be devoted to finishing the Monster Tome and getting it published – super excited about it. Then I’ll focus on NOD 24 and Grit & Vigor. A full plate, but a happy one!

Also, I promise to get more gaming-related posts up soon – I have a ton of posts I need to finish up, so there’s more material coming.

It’s Bloody Basic!

Blood & Treasure Basic is going to officially be called Bloody Basic. I like the sound of it, and that’s all the market research I need (or can afford).

The draft is completed and the layout is finished. I’m now editing the text, and should be done by the end of the day (which is good, because I need to finish up layout on NOD 23 and then get my butt in gear on the Monster Tome – some of the art for that thing is so awesome I’m chomping at the bit to get it out there). The first publication will be the Classic Edition in blue. At the moment I plan to follow it up with the Contemporary Edition in red, the Fairy Tale edition in green and then maybe a the Victoriana Edition in brown.

All of these editions will be the same basic game, but the illustrations will be different and there will be slight alterations made to fit the rules to the theme. The Fairy Tale edition, for example, will be based on my “Mother Goose is My Dungeon Master” articles. The Contemporary edition might have automatons and tieflings as playable races, and sub-classes like shadow dancer and soulknife.

That’s the plan. This is probably the quickest I’ve ever gone from idea to publishing, so hopefully it won’t bite me in the ass (fingers crossed).

These covers are mock-ups – I plan to vary the cover images for the different editions – but they should give you the idea. Obviously, if these prove popular, I might other editions, assuming I can come up with a theme that can sustain an edition – the one that comes immediately to mind is a sort of “mirror-mirror” Chaos edition, where you play the monsters and the dungeons are actually human and demi-human fortresses.

Okay … actually, that sounds pretty good.

Blood & Treasure Basic

Yes, Blood & Treasure Basic. For now – I might change the name.

I took the last week off of work, and in between hiking, grilling ribs and a much needed massage, I found time to write Blood & Treasure Basic, as well as finish up NOD 23 (should publish by Monday).

What is B&T-B?

Ultimately, it’s that project I mentioned a post or so back in which I pondered doing different editions of a basic game using different public domain artists. While I thought of that, a couple ideas for simplifying B&T came to mind, so I started making notes, and notes led to writing, and a week later I had a game …

B&T Basic is kind of the same game as B&T, but also kind of a different game. One could easily make the jump from one to the other, but Basic isn’t just B&T with a bunch of material chopped off.

B&T Basic has the six traditional ability scores, with just a +1 or -1 modifier for high or low scores.

It has humans, elves, dwarves and halflings, with some multi-classing and level limits.

It fighters, magic-users, clerics and thieves, with some sub-classes that work like the variant classes in B&T – barbarian, paladin, ranger, assassin, bard, druid and cultist (the chaotic version of the cleric). Levels go from one to six.

The cleric and magic-user have spells from level 1 to 3, with the fewer spells than in Blood & Treasure (of course).

It has the basic equipment lists, the basic rules for dungeoneering (light, movement, tasks, combat, how to draw a dungeon, wilderness travel, settlements), all as simple as I can make them.

For monsters, you get all the basic monster types, with stats based on size and examples of monsters to make them more interesting. Why? I thought it would make it easy for TK’s to invent new monsters if they could just label something a Medium Aberration to get their basic stats, and then drop in an AC, attacks and special abilities.

For treasures, I keep it simple so you get the coins, the gems, the objects and the magic items.

I wanted to get a couple new things in the game, so I came up with a retainers system and super simple encumbrance. Since the levels only go to six so there are no rules for strongholds. In exchange, I decided that sixth level characters get a retainer, or sidekick. I also decided to roll them randomly, since I love random stuff! The retainer is a 1st level comrade for the adventurer, with whom they share some experience points. Honestly – I have no idea how well this will work. Maybe they should be higher level? Maybe second?

Anyhow – here’s the table …

At this point, the game runs about 30 pages without art – I figure when I add a title page, contents, index, and illustrations it will be around 35 to 40 pages, so not too shabby.

Who’s Under that Mask?

You’ve fought your way into the evil lord’s citadel or the inner sanctum of the chaos cult. You’ve eliminated the guards. You are locked in battle with the masked overlord of all evil and in a brief pause in the fighting reach out and snatch away their mask. You gasp as you see …

1-2. The Archduke or Archduchess

3-4. Your doppelganger (literally, a doppelganger in your form)

5-6. A faceless horror, or something with tentacles so the party can say, “Seriously, more Lovecraft?”

7-8. A goblin (he’s standing on another goblin’s shoulders)

9-10. Your old teacher

11-12. Your ex-lover or ex-mate or ex-best friend who always secretly resented you

13-14. Your mom!

15-16. The captain of the guard

17-18. The sergeant of the guard

19-20. Second man-at-arms from the left at the front gate who, now that you think of it, was giving you a funny look when you entered the city

21-22. The hunchbacked hedge wizard who hawks magic charms in the town square – turns out he’s a 15th level magic-user

23-24. The high priest of the local Law Cult

25-26. The pirate lord of the western seas

27-28. The queen of the gypsies

29-30. A sleestak

31-32. A mannequin [gasp]

33-34. The mummified face of some the ancient pharaoh on display in the museum

35-36. Nosferatu!

37-38. The princess royal

39-40. A ghoul [chomp]

41-42. Your evil twin brother or sister who was thought to have died in the barn fire

43-44. The head of the local merchant company

45-46. The local guildmaster of thieves

47-48. A bearded devil

49-50. A polymorphed fire giant, and that mask was what kept the spell in play

51-52. A brilliant light (choose a color) in place of a head that messes with your mind

53-54. A succubus – pucker up!

55-56. A tangle of vines and two emerald orbs for eyes

57-58. An elf lady knight from the far woodlands

59-60. A flesh golem with a psychic’s disembodied brain sutured to its head

61-62. A serpent man with a cobra’s ability to spit

63-64. The undying caveman

65-66. A grey alien with a headband of pain of dominance

67-68. A 15th level amazon

69-70. The wizened old magic-user you thought was your greatest ally

71-72. The dark pope of the holy assassins

73-74. A demi-god or goddess

75-76. A quasi-god or goddess

77-78. A primordial ooze thing that collapses into a blob of destruction

79-80. That dummy used by the seemingly harmless bard in the local tavern

81-82. A super-intelligent gorilla

83-84. A really stupid and confused gorilla

85-86. A heavily scarred visage

87-88. The twisted face of a maniac

89-90. A 15th level duelist who is actually left-handed

91-92. The emperor everyone thought was lost

93-94. The mad genius that designed the automaton palace guards

95-96. An astral deva that has taken Lawful Good to an unhealthy level

97-98. The Riddler (unfortunately, as played by John Astin, not Frank Gorshin)

99-100. The robe collapses, because the meme has been revealed

What If Arthur Szyk Illustrated a RPG?

One thing I’ve long wanted to do is to produce different versions of a role playing game – we’ll say Blood & Treasure since that’s my game to play around with – keyed to different artists. The rules would stay largely the same, though it might be fun to introduce a couple optional rules to bring the game closer to a particular artist’s style – i.e. rules that make the Arthur Rackham version of a game slightly different than the Frank Frazetta version of a game.

If I did this with Blood & Treasure, for example, I would create a “basic” B&T – much shorter, simpler, and make the layout serve the art (and be in color!). I think it would be fun to have simple games to play in books that mainly exist to be beautiful. Imagine something about 30 to 40 pages long, with maybe several nice illustrations in color.

Anyhow – I got to thinking about this again because I was perusing the artwork of Arthur Szyk today. Imagine a game with illustrations like these …




(No, I don’t know why the thief would wear a chef’s hat … just work with me here)

This might be something worth doing after I finish the NOD 23, Tome of Monsters, Grit & Vigor and the revision of some older works. Of course, the books would have to work off of stock art by modern artists or works  in the public domain (so no Szyk or Frazetta, unfortunately) to make them financially feasible, but it still might be fun. Maybe the basic version of Blood & Treasure could be called Blood Simple (crap, I think I’m starting to really like this idea …)

Images found at the following sites:

Arthur Szyk, The Alphabet of Illustrators

Lehigh University Special Collections

Power of Babel: Arthur Szyk: The Canterbury Tales