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)...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Riders of the Black Temple - Warband Rosters

Here are the rosters for the two forces in the Riders of the Black Temple skirmish. Admittedly, if one doesn't know Song of Blade and Heroes, it won't mean much. I'm going to try to make some notes on the setup and scenario. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to play it in the near future!

The Heroes

Ran Tan Kani (Korobokuru Barbarian)
Points 30Quality 3+Combat 3
Special RulesForester, Short Move
Shinko (Shugenja) - Personality
Points 80Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesCleric, Leader
Uchai (Wu Jen) - Personality
Points 46Quality 3+Combat 1
Special RulesFearless, Magic-User
Mamoru (Ninja) - Personality
Points 64Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesAssassin, Shooter: Medium, Stealth
Daidoji Yorinaga (Samurai) - Personality
Points 106Quality 3+Combat 4
Special RulesFearless, Hero, Leader
Jiro (Monk)
Points 42Quality 3+Combat 3
Special RulesFree Disengage, Steadfast
Tenko (Shinko's Dog)
Points 11Quality 4+Combat 2
Special RulesAnimal

Riders of the Black Temple

Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Points 52Quality 3+Combat 2
Special RulesLong Move, Mounted
Sohei Leader - Personality
Points 92Quality 3+Combat 3
Special RulesLeader, Long Move, Mounted