Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Apologies for the lack of updates, it's been a busy time here with Christmas prep, Accountancy exam, temp job and volunteering at the theatre.

RPG-wise, I'm putting together a G+ game of Chaosium's "Elric!"

Blood and souls and all that.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Progress Report

Gosh, that's a boring title. Anyway, I'm in the middle of creating experience tables for the Kitsune & Kensei classes - they're going to be scaled down somewhat from the ludicrously high amounts needed in the OA book. I need to flesh out the ninja and barbarian class descriptions with... descriptions.

Oh yeah, and write up the cat-people and tortoise-people. Screw all this humans-only rubbish going around the blogosphere. Dangerous Brian has done awesome stuff on the Spirit Folk and Korobokuru and I may have to steal some of it, if he doesn't mind.

I'm writing up lists of monsters from the following sources:

Oriental Adventures 1E
Kara Tur Monstrous Compendium (2E)
Oriental Adventures 3E
Asian Bestiary vol 1 and 2 (HERO system)
RuneQuest Land of Ninja
RuneQuest Land of the Samurai

Quite a lot to be getting on with!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Barbarian - Kitsune & Kensei

The barbarian has always been such a weirdo. Unearthed Arcana was his debut, followed by a reinterpretation in OA. 3rd Ed gave him the power to freak out and rage. 4E has him as berserker who channels primal spirits. All very cool, but I wanted to tone the OA barbarian down a bit, hence he loses his "I can smell magic and illusions" powers.


Requirements: Str 15, Dex 14, Con 15
Prime Requisite: None
Hit Dice: 1d10

Barbarians are warriors from outside what is generally regarded as “civilisation”, living in environments others consider inhospitable. The barbarian is hardened by his life in the wilds, and has the instincts of a predator. Each is a dangerous combatant, especially so in his native terrain.

Each barbarian must choose a terrain, from which he (and his clan) originate:

Weapons: Club, Dagger, Hand Axe, Lance, Shortbow, Sling, Spear, Sword, short, Sword, long
Armour: Up to Chain

Weapons: Blowgun, Club, Dagger, Dart, Hand Axe, Shortbow, Spear,  Sword, short
Armour: Up to Studded Leather

Northern Forest
Weapons: Dagger, Club, Hand Axe, Javelin, Spear, Shortbow, Sling, Sword, short
Armour: Up to Chain

Barbarians are surprised only on 1 on 1d6; they may surprise others on 1-3 on 1d6.

Barbarians are able to track creatures in wilderness and underground environments. The base chance is 90% when in the wilderness, with +2% for every creature more than one in a party to be tracked. There is a cumulative penalty of -25% for every hour of rain, or -10% for every day that has passed since tracks were made. In underground environments, barbarians must watch a creature to be tracked for 3 turns prior to tracking it, to observe its manner. The base chance in this case is 65% when underground, modified in the following manner:
  1. -40% if the creature enters a secret door
  2. -20% if the creature enters a concealed door or passage
  3. -10% if the creature enters a normal door or otherwise takes a deviation from a path
  4. No adjustment if the creature continues on a path without much deviation
Climb in Natural surroundings – chance reduced outside native terrain

Hear Noise: Barbarians can attempt to listen for noises, in a cave or hallway, and at a door or other locations but the barbarian must be quiet and in a quiet environment. Unlike the other thief abilities, this ability is rolled using 1d6.

Hide in Natural surroundings - chance reduced outside native terrain

Back Protection - detect attacks from behind

Leadership - improved Charisma with his own people

Call Horde - Get all Genghis Khan on yo' ass


Cannot have demihuman, wu jen or magic-user henchmen;
Hirelings level restriction - can't have hirelings before a certain level - 4th perhaps

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I have a new webcam, so time permitting, I can now join in the ConstantCon shenanigans. Carry on.

Monday, November 28, 2011

By This Axe I Rule!

Rosey (of Drama, Dice and Damsons) and I are in discussion about play-testing ChrisK (Hill Cantons) wargames rules By This Axe I Rule. And what better way to playtest it than with an elf wielding an axe and a severed orc head?

The last time this chap and his posse of archers saw battle was at Salute '07 in London in a game of Fantasy Warriors. They were slaughtered by barbarians in a corner of the battlefield and saw very little action. It was, however tremendous fun. Winning didn't matter (I was on the 'goodies' team), and the unfolding story was heroic and hilarious.

We who are about to die...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Artist Focus - Earl Geier

I shall try to format this one better, as the Dykstra post has gone all skewif. So, Earl Geier. Who he? Only one of the busiest artists in RPGs at one point. Well, I made that up, but he very probably was. I first encountered his art in the Elric! rulebook and was really struck by his ability to make creepy creatures with an economy of line and deft penmanship.

Both of these come from the Savage Coast Monstrous Compendium (used to be a free download from WotC - you'll need to look on Google to find it). That Geier is also a comics artist comes to the fore here - there's a sense of action (either present or imminent) that is missing from most monster illustrations.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Miniatures for Oriental Adventuring 4

Here we go again with more minis for your delectation!

First up, Dixon Miniatures:

The latter pic is wonderfully titled "Dai Oni in savage mood brandishing mallets". They have an enormous range of figures, both military and civilian, as well as fantasy. The only con is that they are quite squat and stocky compared to more "modern" ranges. Otherwise, this is a real treasure trove of variety.

Samurai Catalogue

Now The Assault Group:

Another large range, with a great mix of nationalities (including different Chinese dynasties - perhaps a way for you Kara Tur fans to distinguish Shou Lung and T'u Lung?). TAG have free worldwide postage as well, I think.

Medieval Asia range

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

5 Badass Pieces of Classical Music

Oh Fortuna - Carmina Burana (Carl Orff)

Mars, the Bringer of War - The Planets Suite (Gustav Holst)

The Rite of Spring - Igor Stravinsky

Montagues & Capulets - Sergei Prokofiev

Night on Bald Mountain - Modest Mussorgsky

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ninja - Kitsune & Kensei

Here she is, that most maligned of Asian archetypes/stereotypes, the ninja. She mixes bits of thief and assassin with acrobat, and was incredibly powerful, by Zeb's own admission, in the original OA. I've cut some abilities, as I still want thieves and assassins to be viable 'ninja'. The ninja character class represents one who has taken a mystical approach to the art of stealth.

At the moment I only have notes, so I will present these rather than a full write-up like the other classes (especially as I am working on compiling them).


Reqs: 14 Dex, 15 Int, 14 Cha

1d4 hp
No Prime Requisite
Use any armour and weapon. Penalties to thief skills for wearing metal armour.
Combat and saves as Thief
Thief Skills
Move Silently

Hide in Shadows
Climb Walls
Assassin Skills
Unique Skills
Pole Vault
Level based abilities
1st Level - Hold Breath
5th Level - Walk on Water
12th Level - Walk through Walls

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Barbarians at the Gate

Watching Mulan has made me more determined to have a go at adapting the barbarian. Shan Yu is a great villain.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Whaddya know?

I Am A: Lawful Neutral Human Wizard (4th Level)

Ability Scores:







Lawful Neutral A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs him. Order and organization are paramount to him. He may believe in personal order and live by a code or standard, or he may believe in order for all and favor a strong, organized government. Lawful neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot. However, lawful neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it seeks to eliminate all freedom, choice, and diversity in society.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Reversion Recursion

Zeb, you mad genius. What have you wrought? On re-examination of the xp tables for the various classes, I find I like them much more than my prior suggestions of "samurai use the paladin table". The dynamics of how the different classes progress is interesting and a subtle part of how he game works. Ninja, as an example need an incredible amount of xp to progress (more than twice as much as some classes). I think in that one case I may re-examine the xp cost. Likewise the bushi has a weird progression whereby they progress faster than fighters until 8th level but then slow down greatly until they fall a level behind. Odd. Not sure what to do with that one given the bushi "freak out" power. Something to ponder. So, sorry for lack of updates, but I have been reading and thinking lots!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Artist Focus - Terry Dykstra

Watch it, Frodo...
Get out of my shared imaginative space, get into my chariot

A proud banner-waver of the facial hair tradition of D&D.

Now, Dykstra seems to get a fair bit of stick from some people online. I must confess that I don't like some of his work, but I can say that about luminaries like Brom and DiTerlizzi as well.

Terry Dykstra's art provided my first exposure to the D&D game. The elf opposite manages to be beautiful and bad-ass (even if she is the super-short D&D elf). The halfling conveys that although he's not a fat hobbit, he's still not the greatest warrior.

Dykstra (or the art director for the Rules Cyclopedia) is to be applauded for the racial variety therein. That and super-hot thief chicks.

It ain't D&D without face fungus

Yes, your player is 14 years old

Now, the more po-faced grognards despise this picture, and yet I see laments day after day for more humour in the D&D game "like the old days". Seems you can't win. Well, anyway, it made me chuckle.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A brief word

Now I have your attention...
Just an info bulletin that the OA to Labyrinth Lord conversion has a name now, after extensive (cough, cough) market research. Henceforth, my vanity project will be known as Kitsune & Kensei. That is all, citizen.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Rise up, you Dead, Slain of the Hydra!

Rise from your graves and avenge us!

Evil High Priest Kutalik calls forth the Children of the Hydra

Hail the Hydra Creative Co-op!

The restless creatives arise...

Friday, November 04, 2011

Unearthed Hexmap

I recently (well, 6 months ago) brought up about half of my RPG stash from my parents to our house. Amongst the haul was the World Builder's Guidebook by Richard Baker (TSR 1996), which as the name suggests takes one through the process of creating a campaign mileu (as Gygax might say). The book comes with a thick pad of blank hex maps and grids: in this I discovered a map I drew up for part of a forest world setting (I seem to recall the basic set up was elves vs forest linnorms or something). I noted that each hex was 1 mile, and I have no idea if any of this is geographically feasible. I enjoyed drawing it all the same. Does this seem as though it could work?

November 4, 2011
(Click to embiggen, hmm ok, not by much)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Nine Men of Muriz

There are places where the Church does not hold sway, places where the missionaries never got the faith of Cooshboth to take root, or where the ancient powers have reclaimed the hearts of men. Such a place is the ring of standing stones known as the Nine Men of Muriz.

Who or what 'Muriz' is or was is unknown, despite various enquiries and folk etymologies. Suffice it to say it is a site of clear antiquity; references to it can be found as early as the first settlement by the Cristarubrae (who attributed the stones to the work of giants). Even then the stones were rightly reckoned to be ancient. In the words of Implicitus, "the great circle of stones is a mystery, even to the tribesmen here, who hold them to be a sacred place."

The nine megaliths are each 10 feet high and 4 feet wide; they are irregularly shaped pillars arranged in a circle, but (unlike some similar configurations) not aligned to any discernible celestial phenomena. Although they bear no resemblance to humans (or indeed any living form), most observers agree that the stones seem to possess a palpable aura, that is to say a feeling of malign intelligence. Residents of the nearby village of Muriz (named after the stones, not the other way around) will politely dissuade any visitors of such notions, "Tha's nobbut a numpty" they'll say with a convivial laugh, displaying the Mikelmercken forthrightness, "Merry meetings."

No matter who one converses with in the village, all will provide the same greeting and farewell - "Merry meetings".

This is not a normal thing to say.

For your D&D (and similar) game

In game terms, the entire megalith site will radiate as "evil" with Detect Evil, but the villagers themselves will not. The megalith site is also highly magical, being of great intensity; any caster using Detect Magic on the site will be dazzled by the brightness of the stones and the area encompassed by the circle, as well as being subject to a random insanity (although if you want to be less gonzo and more moody, inform the player that their ultimate loyalty is now to the stones and the village).

The stones are a focal point for the power of the earth, and allow the "grand receptor", the leader of the community's devotion to the stone circle, (currently a 6' 4" man of middle years and a gravelly voice called Yan Cooshbothsen [Cleric 10], who can cast Stone Tell at will) to use the following powers within the circle: Earthquake (1/day - the next day no damage will have been caused to the area and all is as if the spell had never been cast), Mass Charm (2/day), Conjure Earth Elemental (1/month)

The arrival of a group of strangers (like your PCs) will prompt the village to adopt a visage of utter normality, despite the fact that over time a few of them (5% chance) have been transformed into a stony form that radiates the same unease as the Nine Men themselves (treat as Stone Golems). Their guise of normality can be adopted or discarded at will, but at times of stress the facade may drop. Over the next few days, Yan will invite them to dine at his grand home, which offers hints as to the antiquity of the community's worship of the megaliths via tapestries, paintings and journal entries. Most of these clues will be hidden in some way in the form of symbolism in the work (spiral designs, images of robed figures processing etc). The Nine Men will begin to figure in the dreams of the PCs, silent and ominous. If the PCs do nothing over the course of this, they will eventually begin to feel drawn to the circle, where the village are gathered. Yan will greet them, welcoming them to their new family:


Monday, October 31, 2011

Books for sale

You lucky, lucky people, you get first dibs on the books I'm selling to make way for Runequest: Land of Ninja (GW edition). Much as I love the following rpg tomes, I will in all likelihood never use them. All are in excellent, nearly new condition. I'll consider sensible offers and will post to non-UK addresses.

Rogue Mistress (Stormbringer campaign)

Nyambe - African Adventures (d20)

Dire Spirits (Nyambe adventure) (d20)

And one non-RPG book:

Pigs Might Fly: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd

Rakasta for 4E

Yes, it's the cat-people again, as featured on Half-Blogre - more thorough than my post, and has 4E stats for rakasta. Rock. :)

(Image from House Longeye again)

Sohei Spell Progression

With apologies for the delay... a most exciting table.

Sohei Spells by Level

Sohei Spell Level
Level           1                 23                 4
1-6 - - - -
7 1 - - -
8 1 1 - -
9 2 1 - -
10 2 2 - -
11 2 2 1   -
12 3 2 1 -
13 3 2 2 -
14 3 3 2 -
15 3 3 3 -
16 3 3 3 1
17 3 3 3 2
18 4 3 3 2
19 4 4 3 3
20 4 4 4 3

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kensei - Labyrinth Lord

The kensei had a bonkers original write-up, including a completely unique method of calculating the kensei's AC. I've eliminated abilities that have no easy applicability to Labyrinth Lord.


Requirements: Str 12, Dex 14, Wis 12
Prime Requisite: Wis, Dex
Hit Dice: 1d8

The kensei is a master with one particular weapon (usually a sword, from the translation “sword saint”). Such a warrior has made it his or her objective to attain oneness of thought and action as well as attain moral purity.

Kensei cannot wear any kind of armor nor can they use shields. They are able to use any weapon, and must choose one weapon e.g. longsword to be their chosen weapon. The kensei gains certain bonuses (see below) when using his or her chosen weapon. Kensei use the Paladin Experience Table, Saving Throw Table and attack values. Kensei must be of Lawful alignment. Should a Kensei become Neutral or Chaotic, he or she ceases to advance in this class and advances henceforth as a Fighter (in this case the Kensei powers gained will not be accessible when wearing armor).

The Kensei receives a bonus of -2 to AC (in addition to Dexterity modifiers). His or her AC continues to improve by -1 at every 3rd Level (hence -1 at 3rd Level. -2 at 6th Level etc.) with a limit of -5 at 15th Level.

Kensei are immune to fear and receive a +1 bonus to all saving throws.

Once per day per level, the Kensei can focus his or her ki to cause maximum damage on a successful hit with his or her chosen weapon. The intention to use this ability must be announced before the to hit roll is made.

The intense dedication required of the Kensei's path places certain restrictions upon them:

  • Kensei avoid using magical weapons, as they wish to master their art without such aids. If a Kensei uses a magical weapon, the weapon's power eliminates any bonuses to hit or damage gained from the class (thus a 5th Level Kensei using a longsword +1 would add +1 to his or her attack and damage rolls, not +2).
  • Kensei cannot benefit from items that alter the character's natural AC (such as magical bracers). If a Kensei wears such an item, it has no effect on his or her AC.
  • The Kensei must practice for at least 2 hours per day. If a training session is missed, the Kensei must make up for any missed sessions before advancing to the next experience level. Thus, if a Kensei misses 1 day of practice, he or she must add a further 2 hours to a practice session before advancing. A Kensei can only practice for a maximum of 4 hours a day.

Reaching 2nd Level – The Kensei gains a +1 bonus to damage rolls with the chosen weapon. This increases by an additional +1 at 5th, 8th, 10th, and 12th Levels to a maximum of +5.

Reaching 3rd Level The Kensei gains a +1 bonus to attack rolls with the chosen weapon. This increases by an additional +1 at 5th, 8th, 10th, and 12th Levels to a maximum of +5. Note that this ability allows the Kensei to hit monsters that can only be hit by weapons of the specific plus needed (e.g. a gargoyle can be hit by a 3rd Level Kensei).

Reaching 4th Level – The Kensei can now meditate (as per the Shugenja ability).

Reaching 6th Level – The Kensei is now only surprised on a roll of 1. His or her allies are surprised as per normal (barring any special abilities).

Reaching 7th Level – The Kensei can cause fear (as per the Samurai ability)

Reaching 9th Level – 1d6 pupils (all 1st Level Kensei) are attracted by the Kensei's growing reputation. The pupils serve and study with their new master, and all have the same chosen weapon as him or her. There is a 5% chance per Level that the pupils gain that each will leave to pursue his or her own studies. Should the Kensei character be defeated in a duel, then there is a 50% chance per pupil that each will leave his or her service.

Reaching11th Level – The most famous and deadly ability of the Kensei is the Whirlwind Attack. This is another use of the Kensei's ki, and the character cannot have used any other ki powers that day. Using this power also prevents any further uses of ki powers for the next 24 hours. The Whirlwind Attack can only be made with the Kensei's chosen weapon. Using this power allows the Kensei to attack all opponents within 10 feet of him or her. This happens regardless of the number of attacks the Kensei could normally make. These attacks must all be made at the same time (i.e. the character cannot make some attacks, allow another PC to take a turn and then make further attacks).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mikelmerck - a North that never was

For the genesis of Mikelmerck see Drama, Dice and Damsons. Rosey and I have batted ideas back and forth about this setting for old school gaming for a little bit. It would be a good setting for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, or (with some adjustment) Small but Vicious Dog. We envisage that PCs are the kind of loveable losers that 3d6 in order produces, and the setting sort of wrote itself. PCs are oddballs, fortune-hunters, ne're-do-wells and rogues. If not then they are stupid and rich (and those ones are usually clerics).


The "Great Marchland" as its name translates to (not "The March of St Mikela", as some effete southern scholars would have it) is often given such appellations as "True North" and "God's Own Duchy". The latter, incidentally, is where the confusion with St Mikela crept in; as theologians will know, this feminine spirit is the Voice of the Head, and thus misguided schoolmasters Down South thought they were very clever to link this to Mikelmerck's nickname. The real root of it is that Cushboth Himself would be at home in this paradise on earth, if he didn't like it, then stuff 'im.

Much as people take pride in this godliness, there are still rites to the ancient powers of earth, some of which have no name bar a title, powers such as the Nine Men of Muriz, and the Drowned Ones of Sevenwaters. As well as these, Mikelmerck has the dubious honour of being a place of dimensional 'thin-ness' - the barriers between otherworldly realms are weak here, and many tales are told of kinsfolk vanishing and reappearing years later, stark mad. The folk rites of the common populace (so scorned by the gentry) are designed to act as seals against these incursions from the realms of the Fey.

For humanity, this would be nothing short of a living nightmare, the very touch of a Fey Lord is enough to warp the body or chain the spirit. Their presence alone would begin to turn this world into another version of theirs, one of constant change and mad whimsy. Fortunately for most people this remains undreamt of as they retain only enough of the ancient prohibitions to enact them, not understand their real purpose. For those few magicians who know the truth, each new piece of knowledge is like the opening of a small leygate into their brain, leading most to be somewhat touched.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sohei - Labyrinth Lord

I haven't done much with the Sohei, bar a smidgen of historical background (social class), and allowing them to use any weapon (my sohei in Ruins and Ronin was deadly with her shuriken). I've lessened the potential number of sohei troops as it would be a logistical nightmare to deal with 100 sohei all going ape. As usual, I've just tightened the writing in places. Have fun! Oh and I need to add their spell progression... Tomorrow. Honest.


Requirements: Str 13, Con 10, Wis 10
Prime Requisite: Str, Wis
Hit Dice: 1d6

Sohei are warrior monks, defenders of temples and monasteries, trained more in the ways of war but with basic religious instruction. Sohei are often members of the warrior class who have some form of physical handicap or have suffered an accident (such as being thrown from a horse) that has left them less able than before. The temple gives them training and a renewed social status.

Sohei can wear any kind of armor but cannot use shields. They are able to use any weapon, but the polearm (naginata) is their traditional weapon. Sohei use the Cleric Experience Table, the Cleric Saving Throw Table and Cleric attack values. Sohei cannot be of Chaotic alignment.

Reaching 3rd Level – The Sohei learns to focus his or her ki to attain a state of berserk energy in combat. This frenzy lasts for 10 rounds, and can be activated once per day. While in this state, the sohei gains 1 extra attack per round, his or her AC improves by 1, his or her movement increases by, and he or she gains +1 to hit, damage rolls, and saving throws. Furthermore he or she is able to dodge missiles with a successful save vs breath attack.

Reaching 5th Level The Sohei can fight beyond 0hp, gaining +2 to hit and damage, until he reaches -10hp or the enemy is killed (whichever comes first). Once either of these conditions is fulfilled the sohei falls down dead. This is one of the greatest acts a sohei can perform, and much (posthumous) honour is given to one who dies in this manner.

Reaching 6th Level – The Sohei is given command of 1d3x10 1st level sohei. More 1st level sohei are available from his or her parent monastery to replace those who perish. At each level after 6th, the command is increased by a further 1d10 1st level sohei. None of these sohei gain levels.

Reaching 9th Level – The parent monastery of the Sohei gives him or her commission to found a new daughter temple. This includes escorting shugenja and monks to the site, clearing the land, building the temple, and overseeing defenses. The Sohei character becomes the commander of the new monastery's sohei, and can try to recruit more in addition to those he normally gains at each level. The Sohei and his forces are still answerable to the parent monastery.

Like shugenja, sohei must abide by certain religious restrictions, although the sohei's are less strict. The sohei must refrain from:

  • Eating meat (fish is allowed)
  • Excesses of behaviour (drunkenness, gluttony etc)
  • Murder

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Games and the People Who Play Them

I'm nosy. What games do people enjoy playing/refereeing/reading?

Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nerd-Rage of the Rakasta

Just to get it out of the way, I'm talking about these guys:

Mystaran cat-dude chillin'

NOT these guys:

Evil tiger-spirit in the Temple of Doom

The rakasta first appeared riding their sabre tooth cats in X1 The Isle of Dread, and have become one of those breakout hits of D&D (albeit in a niche manner). They went on to get their own moon kingdom (Japanese inspired) orbiting the world of Mystara (the Known World and Hollow World of BECMI), as well as a kingdom on the Savage Coast (a Merrie Olde England parody). They have gone from B/X to BECMI to AD&D 2E and still have many fans online. Why am I going on about them?

Polyhedron 101. Roger E. Moore wrote a short article brainstorming an OA campaign set on the rakasta moon of Myoshima. It was a really fun thought experiment and although some people despise anthropomorphic animal characters, I think they can be interesting if done well.

Can I get the rakasta (or some very similar being with a name change) into my work on "OA for LL"? Just maybe.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I knew it must exist somewhere

Now I find this? Sounds good too.

Classes of the Far East

Is there a need for me to do this work? With this and Red Tide, I could be sorted. I guess I had better buy them. :D

EDIT: Just thinking out loud. I shall continue, as there are many classes that are not covered in either book.

"Oriental Adventures" for Labyrinth Lord

Just a status update to let interested parties know where I am with this project. I've scribbled down my notes for the sohei and kensei, and have had some more thoughts on things to alter or add to a potential Labyrinth Lord supplement, to whit:

Removing fox and racoon-dog from the hengeyokai and having them as either race-as-class under their correct designations of kitsune and tanuki, or shunting them to being monsters.

Finishing off the class conversions - except yakuza, as noted before. Maybe write up some outlines of how characters can fit into a yakuza or ninja clan.

Type up shugenja and sohei spell lists.

Convert spells not in AEC. My hope is that I can find them or equivalents in OSRIC or another clone.

Creating a setting outline... The urge to hexmap is strong in this one...

Putting weapons and armour notes into legible format.

House rule suggestions - rules "fixes" and genre emulation.

So, not much then!

What would be great is if any of you helpful readers had name suggestions for such a supplement. If so, please comment, thank you!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Corridor of Carnage

We continued with the raid on the drow hideout from where we left off last week, with my character Tarren, and his half-sister Chary leading the way. It all seemed in the bag, with most of us having a lot of special powers still to use and action points to burn. It didn't turn out that way.

I nearly saw the campaign I have been DMing for 3 years ended by a guest DM and a PC turned into a mind-flayer's thrall making mincemeat of the party. Once the dust had settled, Chary lay dead, the paladin and the wizard were unconscious and Tarren wept bitter tears at the loss of his sister. Out of character I hoped that the party had 5000 gold to resurrect her.

"I'm not sure I want to be resurrected after the lack of effort made to rescue me" her player harrumphed. She has a point in my case as i chickened out from running across the room to help her.

It was, however, a very tense, exciting encounter and I even considered running away at one point. It had an added frisson for me as, if it had ended in a TPK (Total Party Kill) then it would have wiped the character slate clean for the campaign.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Inspirational Art

Heck, yes, it's even lazier than yesterday's post... but I always like those posts that have a bunch of pictures that people like. So here are some fantasy illustrations that I think are cool.

Friday, October 21, 2011

TRON the Quickening

The most attractive woman in a film for a long time.
A break from RPG stuff, as the most I have done today is looked at the original Sohei and Kensai entries in OA.

Just watched TRON Legacy. Good thing I'd seen the original. What was going on with CLU's face? They can make Gollum but not younger Jeff Bridges convincing? Bruce Boxleitner is still a dude. Nice effects bar the aforementioned terrible work on Bridges' younger.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Miniatures for Oriental Adventuring 3

Thanks to Jagatai and Lowell Francis for the great links in comments to the last post! I should try to compile all of the links into one post. In the meantime, here's a great fantasy range, with oni, kitsune and other folkloric beings:

Bushido - the Game

Sorry, a brief post today. More cold, and filling in job application!

Good gaming, chaps.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More thoughts on an OA retro-clone

What does a retro-clone of 1E Oriental Adventures need? Let's break it down into content:

  • Races - hengeyokai, korobokuru, spirit folk
  • Classes - barbarian, bushi, monk, ninja, samurai, shugenja, sohei, wu jen
  • Weapons and Armour
  • Societal stuff - family, inheritance, Honour system
  • Martial Arts
  • Monsters
  • Events tables
  • Setting outline

There's a lot there if one is going to re-present, as it were, the original in a format that allows for the seamless use of old materials (adventures etc). Do we need all of this? I asked about Honour on Google+, and there seemed to be a variety of opinions, ranging from it being a necessary sub-system to such concepts purely being a roleplaying choice.

What are the objectives in creating such a retro-clone? Possible ones include:

  • Giving new players access to out-of-print material
  • A creative endeavour, in and of itself
  • Making money (yes, yes, I know, please keep the laughter down)
  • Taking the original and working out the kinks

Do we faithfully translate the original to OSRIC, warts and all, effectively doing for OA what OSRIC does for the PHB and DMG? Or is this an opportunity to utilise knowledge and insight gained over time to rework elements of the book that meet with the most contention (e.g. class power levels, martial arts)?

Do we take the AEC route for Labyrinth Lord and bring the power level down, strip out some elements of the classes, adapt others (which is what I've been doing on this blog)?

Or would such a retro-clone be a self-contained game, a la Ruins & Ronin?

Lots of questions! For myself, I am happy working on my conversions for Labyrinth Lord, but I can totally see why one would want to create a product for OSRIC (I just happen to prefer the former over the latter). So, to summarise, I think if a team were to assemble to create such a product, the decision would need to be between these three:

  • OSRIC supplement
  • Labyrinth Lord supplement
  • Self-contained game based on a retro-clone

Now, the retro-clone market has exploded but I am using the two most prominent names within it as examples. Swords and Wizardry would be there but it already has Ruins & Ronin. What game do you want to make?

Another thing to bear in mind is the OGL and what can be utilised from that. Matt Finch is the guru of retro-clones, indeed one of the founding fathers. Check out his blog for a discussion of copyright and the OSR.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Towards an OA Retro-clone

The stars are right... all the omens are propitious...

Jagatai at Ramblings of a Great Khan is proposing an OA retro-clone for OSRIC, and Lord Gwydion  at What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse is putting the final touches on a clone of Chris Pramas' 2E-inspired game Dragon Fist. I've started doing ports of the OA classes and races to Labyrinth Lord. As can be seen the swell of Asian fantasy is building both in OSR and 'new-school' circles. To break it down with the current products and their parent games:

Ruins & Ronin (Swords and Wizardry) - Mike D (Sword +1) created the high-water mark of recent D&D oriental shenanigans with this excellent work. If you can't tell, I love this book. The inexhaustible imagination of Matt at THE LAND OF NOD has created Mu-Pan, a sandbox setting encompassing folklore, myth, pop fiction and game lore for Ruins & Ronin. Both have produced amazing, inspiring work.

Red Tide (Labyrinth Lord) - Another Asian sandbox with elements of horror and culture clash built in. I don't have this book, but everything I hear about it screams "buy me!" and its by Kevin Crawford, author of Stars Without Number. Nuff said. It introduces new races and classes

Jade Regent Adventure Path (Pathfinder) -  I have mixed feelings about Paizo as a company and of their products, but I applaud their re-introduction of Asian tropes into 3.x gaming. Wayne Reynolds art - another thumbs up.

Heroes of the Jade Oath (Arcana Evolved) - This has been in development for several years, and I don't know much about how transferable its ideas are, but there are free previews of it to download at RPGNow, and DriveThruRPG.

So, there's lots out there right now that caters to the desire to break out of Western Europe and get down with the samurai and the wu jen (these are all quite Chinese and Japanese inspired, but I pass no judgement on that).

Regarding what there is for OSRIC, a key work if someone were to embark on OA for OSRIC would be this OSRIC Unearthed. It has conversions for martial arts, the ninja, the yamabushi (new take on the monk), and the barbarian. I think that it should be the first port of call for someone looking to write/play/run OSRIC OA.

What would I want in an OA retro-clone? That's for another post!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Miniatures for Oriental Adventuring 2

Ming Chinese from Cavalcade
I've been doing some more research into manufacturers as well as looking up US distributors, as so many of the mini companies making the stand-out collections are small companies based in the UK.

Hasslefree Miniatures - Scroll down for US distributors list

West Wind Productions - - their box sets look pretty good value but I haven't seen a US distributor yet, although they do ship to you colonials

Museum Miniatures (another UK company) -  make a fun little range of 28mm samurai and ashigaru, including a taiko drummer and a lord with war fan - again they ship to the US

Cavalcade Wargames - a Seattle based company with several great ranges including samurai goblins, samurai Minotaurs, samurai dwarves, Ming Chinese, Wako, and Kingsford Miniatures' range

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Get your game face on

Just got back from a session of Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition, a game I've been playing since its release 3 years ago, and am still not bored of yet :D

Usually I'm the DM; for some readers I'll clarify this as Dungeon Master, analogous to a referee. Today, however, I was a player, controlling an elf warlord (elves are not the fairy kind but more like those of Tolkien, and a warlord is a type of character who acts like a commander and cheerleader for the other players' characters). I came in as a 'guest star' portraying the long unseen older half-brother of the group's half-elf ranger. So we had plenty of good banter.

What made it even more fun is that I got to be a character in the continuing world I'd been running. It was interesting and amusing to see and hear Rev Rosey's take on the setting and the various creatures we encountered. Here's how we left things at the end of play: our heroes are investigating the disappearance of a dark elf trade caravan, but now find themselves confronting said dark elves (who are actually being mind controlled)...