Wednesday 30 December 2015

Create a Cult - Random Table

I don't know about you, but I love having cults in my game. Sure, they're a pretty easy go-to villain, but I love them anyway.

Here's a simple table for creating your own cults.

First Part of the Name (1d6)

1. The Brotherhood of the...
2. The Cult of the...
3. The Shining...
4. The Maddening...
5. The Darkened...
6. The Burning...

Second Part of the Name (1d6)

1. Hand
2. Tempest
3. Serpent
4. Eye
5. Fleshgod
6. Gorger

Leader Title (1d6)

1. The Almighty One
2. The Chosen One
3. The Blessed One
4. The Majestic One
5. The Anointed One
6. The Enlightened One

What Do They Worship? (1d6)

1. Trexxlor, The Banisher - master of pain and domination
2. The Gaping Void - god of infinite
3. Verenshia - Undergoddess of the Black Pit
4. Loom - the mute angel of ancient dimensions
5. G'tol - enlightened being of entropy
6. The Walker of Stars - unknowable and eternal

Where Do they Meet? (1d6)

1. Cavern beneath a guildhouse
2. In a secret palace room
3. In the caves by the ocean
4. In the back room of a tavern
5. In a burned-out citadel
6. In the hollowed out carcass of a dragon

What is their Goal? (1d6)

1. To let their god loose upon the world
2. To ascend to the heavens
3. To bring a plague upon the world
4. For their leader to become an avatar of their god
5. To take control of the throne
6. To rid the world of a certain species of humanoid

Pay what you want for my new space opera setting, Somnium Void today!

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Goblin Tribe Name Generator

I think out of all the fantasy races, I love goblins the most. As a creature, they're pretty malleable - they can be dumb little chittering critter, great tinkerers or a terrifying force to be reckoned with.

If you're ever stuck for a name for your goblin tribe, then just roll 1d6 three times on the table below.

First Word
Second Word
Third Word


Image: Wizards of the Coast

Random Howl Encounter Table for Somnium Void

Howl is the homeworld of the Wulfen race - a species of humanoid wolves who have a culture similar to that of ancient Japan. On Howl you will find lush fields, trickling streams, mighty mountains, beautiful cherry blossom trees and large forests.

It is vital that visitors know what dangers lurk on Howl before they get there. The Wulfen are not fond of outsiders and will be reluctant to help - in fact they may be the ones starting the fight in the first place.

Here is a random encounter table for Howl. Further information can be found in the Somnium Void setting book.

Roll 1d10

1. 1d6 Wild Dogs
2. 1d4 Wulfen Brutes
3. 1d6 Gang Foot soldiers
4. 1d6 Engine Eaters
5. 1d6 Great Bats
6.  1d6 Gang Foot soldiers & Gang Leader
7. 1d6 Byzyks
8. 1d3 Kataran Spiders
9. 1d6 Terror Birds
10. Coosk

Saturday 26 December 2015

2015 Round-Up and What's in Store for 2016?

Well 2015 has certainly been a year. Since I'm literally trapped inside my flat at the moment because the canal near me has burst its banks, I have very little to do , so I've decided to write my round-up post a little earlier this year. I'll talk about what projects I got off the ground, what projects I started and others that I meant to start but never got round to them for reasons.

So what the hell happened this year?

I kicked off 2015 with the launch of Shadow and Blade: A Guide to Assassins in Tunnels & Trolls. I'm really proud of this one. It's the first non-adventure supplement I've written for the system and I'll be sure to release at least one more next year.

The spring was pretty quiet in terms of output and I wish I'd had the chance to get more stuff out. Next year, I'd certainly like to get at least a product out per season if I can.

But in the summer came Canary Overdrive, an original RPG to celebrate kick-ass women all over the world. It's a small, simple game, but people seem to enjoy it.

Soon after I released Canary Overdrive Missions: Mindmush, the first adventure for the game. I also uploaded an example character, Cutter.

As Summer began to fade I was on my way with the first of 2015's USR supplements. In September the Lovecraftian nightmare that is Beyond Fear was released on the unsuspecting public. Weirdly, unlike almost all my other products this one still hasn't been reviewed, so if you want to do that I'd be very grateful.

Sometime in Autumn I started putting together The Kremmsellion - a new adventure for Deluxe T&T. Should be a fun one.

Finally, today I released Somnium Void, which has been a long time coming. I've been knocking this one around for a couple of years, but as with a lot of things I do I've been chopping and changing it ever since. I've managed to get it out this year by the skin of my teeth.

What the hell is happening next year?

Good question. Hopefully early 2016 will see the release of Apocalypse in Your Hometown, so I'll be pimping that soon. Really excited about this one, as I haven't seen any of the other adventures in this omnibus.

I've also got a world exclusive for you right here. I'll be launching a line of systemless supplements called 'Imaginatum: Infinite Systemless Roleplaying'. If you've been reading the blog over the past few months you will have seen that I've been creating a lot of system free stuff and it turns out that I really love doing it. Imaginatum will have everything from larger settings to smaller books focusing on a specific aspect of RPGs, like equipment or places.

The Kremmsellion will also be released sometime in the first quarter of 2016, so watch out for that.

In terms of USR, I have plans for a line of sandbox adventures, the first of which will be released in 2016. I will also be working on a new setting.

That's as far as I've got with 2016 planning, but I'm absolutely certain that there will be other stuff.

As ever, thanks for your support this year. I think that Trollish Delver Games is now getting into a comfortable stride and that's down to everyone who has downloaded, played and reviewed my games.

Here's to 2016!

Hail the Black Ship - Get Your Hands on Somnium Void Today

One hundred billion citizens of the galaxy all saw it. The vision flashed before them for mere seconds, but what they saw stuck with them ever since. A black ship over a white moon. This seemingly innocuous image became burnt onto the brain of every man, woman and child across the galaxy. The event became known as the Somnium. Life would never be the same again.

Trollish Delver Games is pleased to announce the release of Somnium Void, a space opera setting and rulebook for Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying. 

This one's been a long time coming and I'm excited to finally get it out there. If you love simple rules and space opera, this should be straight up your street. Plus, it's pay what you want, so you don't have to break the bank to enjoy it. 

You can download Somnium Void here. Hail the Black Ship.

Thursday 24 December 2015

Harvestable Monster Body Parts Table

Damn, that title would make a great album name. There's almost no doubt that at some point in your game the players have wanted to roll up their sleeves, dissect a monster and remove whatever gland is worth 300 platinum.

Below is a random table of monster parts that can be harvested and used, along with their effects and how to prepare them.

Monster Part - roll 1d8

1. Eye
2. Tongue
3. Sweat gland
4. Gallbladder
5. Tooth
6. Heart
7. Lung
8. Brain

Effect - roll 1d8

1. For a day you can see music - you can clearly observe the notes floating through the air in a swirling, colourful vortex before your eyes. You are able to pick out and copy notes straight onto paper.
2. You lapse into a coma for five hours. While you are in the coma your spirit is able to step outside your body and move around as normal, except that nobody aside from the psychically-inclined can see you. You are not able to touch anything and you cannot smell anything either.
3. You are able to speak any language for a day, but you also go blind for the day.
4. You can read someone's thoughts. You can only focus on one person's thoughts at one time. There is a 20% chance that you will be overwhelmed by thoughts and fall unconscious for 2 minutes.
5. You gain the gift of speech eloquence. You are able to easily sway minds for a day.
6. For a week, you gain the ability to see within a body - the muscles, the skeleton and the organs. With this, you can identify any ailments that would be difficult to discern on the surface.
7. You are able to speak telepathically with someone anywhere in the world as long as you focus on their face in your mind's eye. This lasts a day.
8. You gain the ability to affect the weather for a week. This does not include extreme forms of weather like hurricanes and tornadoes.

How to use it - roll 1d6

1. Eat it raw
2. Cooked over an open flame and eaten
3. Dried, crushed into a powder and inhaled
4. Dried, crushed and smoked
5. Broken open to consume the juices on the inside
6. Lick the outside

Sunday 20 December 2015

Solo RPG Thoughts: Diversionary Play

I've recently started a solo campaign using USR and I'm posting the actual plays over at the Lone Wolf Roleplaying community on G Plus. Typically I like to use a mixture of sources to create a fun game - right now I'm using the following:

I've started thinking about the nature of solo roleplaying and how much the structure differs from group gaming. The following is a post I originally wrote on the Lone Wolf community page.

Solo play isn't the same as with a group, and I don't mean for the obvious reason. There's been a lot written about how solo should be focused more on detail and character, which is absolutely spot on. But I believe solo also offers you the chance to engage in what I call 'diversionary play'. 

In a solo, you're player and GM. You build the world that you play in. Usually a group game is linear in nature - the GM says something, the players react and so on. That structure doesn't exist in solo play and I think we need to take advantage of that. This is where diversionary play comes in. 

Diversionary play builds your game in a non-linear fashion. It fleshes out your character and world, giving you more inspiration for your 'core' game. So what constitutes a diversion?

- The Gazetteer: creating news in your world is a great way to make it feel like a living place. Aim for a front page story and two or three smaller stories. Hell, put some classified ads in there if you like. If your character has done anything noteworthy, they may appear in the gazetteer. For other stories, roll a few story cubes or use a generator of your choice to come up with a handful of headlines. You don't need to go further than headlines unless you want to.

- Flashbacks:  have your character evolve through crafting their past. Write about their childhood, their best friend, their favourite foods etc. Use a generator to flesh out the most minute detail. Just focus in one aspect per diversionary session, buy go to town on it. It can help the way your character is shaped in the present.

- Character thoughts: take some downtime to figure out, in detail, what's going through your character's head at this point in the campaign. Note their thoughts on the NPCs they have come across and the situation they are in. This can help you decide how they react to certain situations in future.

- Political/ Military manoeuvres: play out what might be happening in the seat of government. What Wars are happening. Do they directly or indirectly affect your character? Play a your favourite wargame to determine the outcome (this one comes from +John Fiore​)

The point of diversionary play is to supplement your core game. You can use the above play styles when you have a spare moment on the train or on your lunch break. It takes advantage of the fact that you are the player and GM, so the game doesn't begin and end at the table - it can be constantly in motion.

Friday 27 November 2015

The Quantum Burst Cortex is Melting! A Random Technobbable Table

Oh technobabble, how we love thee. Have you ever found yourself playing some White Star and realising that you're going to have to pull some random sci-fi jargon out of your arse? Well, this table should help. Just roll 1d6 three times to build your technobabble phrase.

First Word
Second Word
Third Word

Resurrection Complication Tables

Last night in my regular Pathfinder game we were  discussing repercussions to resurrections and what they should be. We were pretty much unanimous in our dislike for the raise dead rules had the PC gain 2 negative levels and also had the chance of losing a spell. However, we did think that there should be a negative side to coming back from the dead, either with a raise dead or a resurrection spell.

So, I've put together three tables. There are more mapped out for Pathfinder or D&D, but most effects with specific rules can be tweaked to whatever system you like.

The idea is that a recently resurrected PC will have a nasty disadvantage, a supernatural advantage (being sort of undead and all), as well as a way to cure both. Roll 1d6 on each table:


1. A demonic spirit has latched onto your soul. You must slake your bloodthirst on human flesh every 1d4 days.
2. You have recurring nightmares of the afterlife. Whenever you attempt to sleep, you have a 20% chance of staying awake the entire night.
3. Your body runs with black veins. You are vulnerable to necrotic damage
4. You have memory loss and are unable to use one random skill.
5. You have flashbacks at random points during combat. You have a 10% chance of missing an attack.
6. Your body is rotting. In 3d6 weeks it will have fully rotted away, leaving you dead.


1. You gain the ability to see perfectly in the dark
2. You gain +2 to perception when listening
3. You have an aura that does 1d4 necrotic damage to anyone within 5ft.
4. You are able to snuff out light within 40ft
5. You can scale a wall like a spider
6. The undead will only attack you if you provoke them


1. Killing a Lich while reciting a specified prayer
2. Eating the heart of an angel
3. Finding your soul fragment in the nether-realm
4. Making a potion from the eyes of a black dragon
5. Covering yourself in fresh royal blood
6. Ending the life of a loved one

If you want to be a little more hardcore, roll twice on disadvantages and once on advantages. Happy rezzing!

Sunday 15 November 2015

Gloomdark Scepter - d6 Random Effects

Are you tired of your boring old scepter? Do you long for something that will make your enemies wet their pants? You want dark, eldritch effects for a low, low price? Well look no further than the Gloomdark Scepter.

Crafted from the most disturbing umberwood from the Catorsis hell dimension, this top-of-the-range tool of evil is your best defense against goodness and light. Are you often set upon by scores of dumb paladins looking to take you down in the name of justice? The Gloomdark Scepter is just the thing to keep those god-loving dorks at bay.

Don't take my word for it - read some of our amazing customer reviews!

"I've been dealing with do-gooders my whole life and most of my intricately-designed death dungeons have been all but sacked. But now I have the Gloomdark Scepter, anyone who gets up in my business faces the terrible wrath of the unknown, blasphemous gods!" - Vendris Deathrattle, Lich of the Somberwoods. 

"I can't recommend the Gloomdark Scepter enough! I had a big problem with a local celebrity cleric up until recently, but she's now a thing of the past. Think you can desecrate my temple to the Lord of Pain, Anabelle? Not anymore. Now she's serving her time in an infinite hellcage in the center of a black star." Jelle Doomfucker, Dutchess of Carnage.

"I can't imagine life without my Gloomdark. When I'm not using it to turn my opponents into gibbering wrecks, I use it as a walking stick for my rambling." Xeeth the Vile, Chairperson of the Rambler's Association.

So what can the Gloomdark Scepter do for you? 1d6 random effects, that's what!

1. Target becomes enveloped in black tentacles, preventing the target from attacking or moving for 1d6 minutes.
2. Target is transported to the centre of a black star, caged for 10,000 years (time goes 1000 years to 1 real-world second). Target returns after 10 seconds, broken, silent and dead inside.
3. The target becomes an eldritch abomination who sprouts blackened wings and flies away to the moons of Svess.
4. The target is overcome with despair and cannot act for 1d6 days.
5. The target becomes the thing it fears the most.
6. The target's loved ones are immediately eradicated from existence.

Buy the Gloomdark Scepter now and we'll throw in a free dimensional pouch - for unlimited cash storage!

Wednesday 11 November 2015

The Mountain Metropolis of Nerintir

Hewn into the very rock of the Shimmerstorm Mountains is a city unlike any other - Nerintir. The blue ice and ivory snow covers the stone buildings, giving the architecture a magical sheen that twinkles in the moonlight and blazes during the daytime.

Nerintir is the bastion of the northern world and home to the Princess Azraela, a beautiful and wicked woman with a reputation for murder and trickery. Not that anyone in the city would dare admit this out loud - if you were to ask about Azraela in the streets and taverns of Nerintir the citizens would only gush about her beauty through strained breath.

While she has a vile reputation, men and women from far and wide come to seek her hand in marriage. If one wanders into the royal gardens they would see skeletons hanging from the trees - the bodies of each of her suitors that were unable to answer the princess' riddle - one that if solved would cement the relationship.

Deep within the Shimmerstorm Mountains lives a great ogre called Grunthern, a mighty creature who dwells in a hall coated in gemstones, strange mushrooms and glow-worms that illuminate his abode. Unbeknownst to the people of Nerintir, Grunthern has enchanted Azraela with a charm that makes her love him unconditionally. Most nights the princess slips out of her chambers, mounts her cold drake and flies high into the mountains to the great door leading to the halls of Grunthern. There, Grunthern advises the princess of her next riddle and in return receives the eyes of her victims which he relishes in a soup.

Outside the city walls lurk all manner of creatures, from ice skinks and cold drakes to bray wolves and the fearsome blue goblins. There might even be a goddess prowling the wintery slopes of Shimmerstorm....

The Blue Goblins

A tribe of blue goblins make their home close to Nerintir, waylaying travellers by assaulting them on the backs of small drakes. They are able to bury themselves in snow for a prolonged period of time only to jump up and catch people unawares with spears in hand.

Body: Average
Mind: Average
Disposition: Abysmal 
Spirit: Fair

Attacks: Spear (Average)
Skills: Stealth (Average)

The blue goblin leader is Glippa Goot, a fiery lady with a eye for trinkets. She became the leader after removing the heart of the previous leader - as is the tradition in blue goblin tribes. Glippa and her tribe are mortal enemies of Grunthern, who sends out his wolf minions to fetch him one of his favourite foods - goblins!

The Frost Elf

There are rumours of a legendary elf woman who stalks the mountainside with a bow and arrow, hunting bears, wolves and even goblins. She is said to have raven black hair with a blue streak. Some travellers say they have seen her in the mountain mist, but as quick as she appeared she had gone. Some people say that she is the embodiment of the mountain, while others say that she is the goddess of the hunt,

Body: Excellent
Mind: Good
Disposition: Good
Spirit: Fair

Attacks: Shortbow (Excellent)
Skills: Read Magic (Good), Set Traps (Good), Illusion (Fair)


A vile beast with a mighty beard who stands 8 feet tall. He has large black eyes and a huge nose with two cavernous nostrils. Grunthern has a foul temper, but can easily charm people with his magic.

Body: Good
Mind: Good
Disposition: Abysmal
Spirit: Excellent

Attacks: Club (Good)
Skills: Enchant (Excellent)

Princess Azraela

Body: Fair
Mind: Excellent
Disposition: Abysmal (enchanted), Excellent (non-enchanted)
Spirit: Poor

Attacks: Dagger (Fair)
Skills: City knowledge (Excellent), Bluff (Excellent)

Saturday 7 November 2015

Cover Reveal: The Kremmsellion

For the past couple of weeks I've been working on my first GM adventure for Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls called The Kremmsellion and I'm excited to present the cover.

I wanted to really delve deep into the history of magic in Trollworld and the formation of the Wizard's Guild. We know from the new rulebook that the elves were the first to use magic, so I wanted to really explore this first step into what would have been a complete revolution in the world.

Through the adventure, the players will come up against a sworn enemy of the Wizard's Guild, Vastervale Demetus, who plans to find the Kremmsellion - the first enchanted item - to bring the world to its knees.

Look out for this new adventure in the coming months.

Thursday 5 November 2015

These D&D Rulebook Doodles are Incredible

+Dyson Logos is currently running a series on his blog where he 'illuminates' D&D books. He's currently, in his own words, defacing the Monster Manual. However, he's not quite ruining the books.

I love everything Dyson does. He can do no wrong!

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Cover Reveal: Apocalypse in your Hometown

Well this is a nice surprise to come home to. +Jerry Teleha of Darkshade Publishing has just released a sneak preview of Apocalypse in your Hometown, with an amazing cover by Bill Bricker.

AIYH is a collection of adventures for Tunnels & Trolls: Stay Alive!, a modification by Mr Teleha himself. The idea of the scenarios is that each is set in the writer's own hometown - with one by myself set in Leeds, UK (it's a witch-pocalypse).

Expect to see this out sometime in the next few months.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Enchanted Item: The Tinderbox

This is a systemless inspiration post. To find out more about my, erm, systemless system have a gander at this.

The Tinderbox is a notable enchanted item found within the underground chambers beneath a large hollow oak tree. Within the chambers there are coins of copper, silver and gold guarded by three wolves, each of different sizes.

When the PCs meet the wolves, they have two options: subdue them nonviolently or attack them. If they were to subdue or bargain with them, they will gladly offer up the Tinderbox (the wolves are able to talk and are relatively intelligent). However, if they attack and the wolves are killed, the Tinderbox loses its enchantment (but can be used as a regular boring old Tinderbox).

Wolf #1
Body: Fair
Mind: Fair
Disposition: Average
Spirit: Fair

Attacks: Bite (Fair)
Skills: Fearsome (Average)

Wolf #2
Body: Average
Mind: Fair
Disposition: Average
Spirit: Fair

Attacks: Bite (Average)
Skills: Fearsome (Average)

Wolf #3
Body: Good
Mind: Fair
Disposition: Average
Spirit: Fair

Attacks: Savage Bite (Good)
Skills: Fearsome (Average)

The Tinderbox (Good)
Price: Expensive
Effect: When the Tinderbox is struck once, Wolf #1 is instantly summoned. If it is struck twice in quick succession Wolf #2 appears. If struck three times in quick succession Wolf #3 appears. Each wolf stays around until unsummoned by striking the number of times needed to summon the wolf. The wolves obey the user's command, even if it puts them in harm's way. They live to serve the master of the Tinderbox.

Monday 2 November 2015

Machinations of the Dragon Wizard

By Benjamin Baugh - used with permission
So +Benjamin Baugh essentially won Halloween with his home-made Dragon Wizard costume. I'd been following Ben's making-of posts leading up to the big day and I think it turned out amazingly. So much so that it's given me some systemless gaming inspiration.

B'augh N'jamin, Dragon Wizard of the Iron Castle

Beyond the Frostward Forest stands the mighty Iron Castle where, alone, the Dragon Wizard B'augh N'jamin lives. He was not always a dragon - he was once a handsome prince from the Saranen Kingdom who was well known for his wealth and spending habits. However, he was also uncharitable and cared not for the poor and destitute.

One day he was approached by haggard old woman with one eye, who held out her hand and requested a single silver coin. B'augh refused the crone and told her to leave at once before going on with his day of spending.

The next day he was approached by the same woman who pleaded with him for a single silver coin. Again, the greedy prince denied her the money and went on spending.

On the third day the woman stopped the prince and asked once again for a silver piece. This time, when the prince denied her the money she uttered a curse on him that he would become the creature that he feared most. The prince laughed this off and went on his way.

The next morning, the prince woke up with a start. He noticed that his skin had become scaly, his nose had turned into a snout and smoke poured from his nostrils. He cried out, for he had become the thing he feared the most - a dragon.

Upon finding the transformed prince in his quarters, the queen commended her guards to drive him away. He fled the palace into the countryside with no hope of returning.

As he journeyed across the land, he came across a wise man with a long red beard and a pointed hat. The man did not fear the dragon prince and asked him to stay with him in his tree house. The strange man was a wizard, and over the years he taught the prince the ways of magic. Being an inherently magical creature, the dragon prince was easily able to become adept with magic.

However, the prince was still greedy with a black heart and wanted to be the most powerful wizard in the land. While the wizard slept, the prince devoured him with his large jaws and long sharp teeth.

The prince, now with the power of magic, created an Iron Castle in the countryside and resides in it to this day. He cast illusion spells all through the halls that confuse intruders by conjuring illusory versions of their loved ones. There are all sorts of tricks and traps in the Iron Castle, and nobody has been able to get to the prince to end his reign of terror on the land.


Body: Average
Mind: Excellent
Disposition: Poor
Spirit: Excellent

Skills: Illusory Magic (Excellent), Fire Breathing (Good), Trap Setting (Good)

Equipment: Gold Staff, 4000 gold coins, various potions, a talking snake.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Systemless posts on Trollish Delver

I'm currently dabbling in some systemless writing at the moment, which has already started to leak over to the blog during Fear Week, and expect more of that from now on. I want to present game material that you can plug into whatever you're playing, covering fantasy, sci-fi, modern, horror, supers and so on.

Granted, most of the posts will rely on description, being systemless and all that, but in order to make it easier to adapt the material to your game I'll be using the following attributes and descriptors for characters/NPCs:

Body (covers athletic prowess, toughness, strength and essentially how well a character fights)
Mind (how intelligence and wise the character is, in either an academic or a 'streetwise' sense)
Disposition (how much willpower someone has, how charismatic they are and how well they do diplomacy)
Spirit (this is where magic/hyper abilities come into it. Spirit is also used for any kind of healing or empath abilities).

They will also come with a selection of broad skills, such as: Geography, Swords, Magic, Mechanics, Forging etc.

Each will be rated on the following descriptive scale:


For example, I could have a rogue magic-user that looks like the following:

Brianna Fleetfoot
Flame Rogue

Body: Good
Mind: Excellent
Disposition: Poor
Spirit: Good

Skills: Sneaking (Excellent), Knives (Good), Fire Magic (Average)

Equipment: Dagger, spellbook, rope, lockpicks, torch, leather armour.

Magic or special items will also be rated on the descriptive scale as well as a price rage: cheap, affordable, expensive, priceless. For example:

Neutrino-pulse Beacon (Average)
Price: Expensive
Effect: Creates an energy beacon that stretches above the planet's atmosphere, allowing orbiting ships to detect it. 

I'm hoping that these posts, along with published material, will help anyone playing their favourite games find further inspiration.

Thursday 29 October 2015

Fear Week: The Weeping Maiden

Sometimes it's not a monster that will kill you, but something altogether innocuous. Painted over 150 years ago by an anonymous artist, the Weeping Maiden is said to be cursed. There are records of the painting being the only thing to survive house fires that claimed the lives of the families who lived there. 

They say that sometimes, in the deep on the night, the woman depicted on the painting begins to cry fire. The flames trickle down her face and set alight the room she's in and consequently the building. All that has remained has been the painting, without a sign of a burn or a scratch on it. 

Some say that the spirit of the artist's long dead lover lives on in the painting, trying to find a way out. Others say that the artist asked the devil to curse the painting and bring pain on those that own it. 

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Fear Week: The Raven

Not much time tonight, so I'm going to leave you with some gothic inspiration from the master of the macabre himself, Edgar Allen Poe.

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
                Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
                Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
                This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door;-
                Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"-
                Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
                'Tis the wind and nothing more!"

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
                Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
                With such name as "Nevermore."

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
                Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
                Of 'Never- nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
                Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
                She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by Horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!"
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting-
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                Shall be lifted- nevermore!

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Fear Week: Esther's Mirror

Mirrors have always been tied to superstitions, with stories dating back centuries of curses and spirits residing within. But there is one tale that harrows even the hardest of hearts, a tale that is whispered in select places in the world.

It is said that two hundred years ago there lived a woman called Esther May. She was a lonely woman, being somewhat of an outcast, and lived only with her black cat. While people believed her to be an odd lady, nobody at the time realised that she was practising magic. They were fairly innocuous spells - cures for small ailments and luck charms, but nonetheless if someone discovered that she was doing this she would have surely been burned at the stake.

One day, Esther decided that she no longer wished to be alone, but did not want to risk the ridicule of trying to find a friend in the village. Instead, she enchanted her mirror to create a duplicate version of her when she looked into it. Sure enough, when she stared into the mirror, the Esther staring back began to reach out, at first with her hands and then with her feet. Esther was overjoyed to have a companion, but the mirror version had other ideas. She chopped up Esther with an axe and stored her body parts in the trunk of a hollow tree near her hovel.

People around the village noticed what they thought was Esther acting even more peculiar than usual, but they didn't think much of it. The mirror doppelganger would walk into the village and taunt the villagers  - shouting curses and spitting on the ground.

When a woodcutter discovered the dismembered body of the real Esther, he marched into the village and found the duplicate. Realising that she was an evil version of the woman, and that evil things hated the sound of church bells, he went to the church and asked the priest to sound the bell. The mirror Esther began to writhe in agony at the sound, giving the woodcutter chance to take out his axe and cut off her head.

Nobody knows where Esther's mirror ended up after that, but some say that it still retains its magical property that an evil duplicate will be created when a mortal looks into it.

In your game, the duplicate will have almost exactly the same attributes as the original, but will be stronger and have a fiercer attack.

These mirror people have a weakness to the sound of church bells, which sends them into a screaming frenzy, essentially paralysing them for a short amount of time.

Monday 26 October 2015

Fear Week: the Wendigo

Welcome to Fear Week, where every day I'll be posting a new systemless horror for your games, from fantasy to modern to sci-fi. Today, we take a look at the Wendigo - a fearsome creature that drives even the most sane people to cannibalism.

The dark woods echo the clicks and caws of the birds and beasts that exist within them. Travelers who walk the woods at night speak of a being with twisted antlers, the face of a deer with decayed flesh. It has deep, sunken eyes that reveal only small yellow, ever-watchful pinpricks.

They say that once one has encountered this creature they call Wendigo you will begin to experience a craving for human flesh. There have been tales of bodies found in homes - entire families who have been devoured by a husband, wife or even child - their bones picked clean.

These cannibals are said to be Wendigo-touched and they can only be killed through decapitation. Villagers living close to woods, especially cold ones, keep a fire burning outside their doors every night to protect from a prowling Wendigo.

If one is confronted by a Wendigo, they will be subject to a maddening scream. This scream is thought to be the cause of the eventual cannibalism.

The process the Wendigo-touched goes through is as follows:

Day 1: The Wendigo-touched feels disgusted by normal food and shuns it.
Day 2: The Wendigo-touched begins to have nightmares where they are wandering through woods. They often awake to find dirt on their soles.
Day 3: They begin to starve and gain a need for human flesh
Day 4: They are overcome with a ravenous hunger for flesh and must feed

A Wendigo is also capable of killing when it wants to feed on flesh. The creature itself is of a medium power level and has the ability to entice people into the woods when it wants to feed. It is stealthy, but when it is around there is the unmistakable smell of rotting meat. It attacks with its hooves, antlers and teeth, rending flesh and screaming out.

Wendigos are weak to silver, so Wendigo hunters always take at least one silver blade with them into the woods.

Sunday 25 October 2015

The Dance of the Waning Sun

"And for a full three days they danced the dance of the waning sun, and their laughs turned to wails and smiles became grimaces." - The Tolluven (Book of Dark Curses)

It takes only one to begin the dance for an entire town to soon become infected. The Dance of the Waning Sun is a vile curse that masquerades as a something joyful. The first to be cursed will begin to hear music in their heads within a day of the curse taking effect. The music is cheerful and it's almost impossible not to move your body to the sound.

Within two days the cursed dancer will be dancing in the streets and those that look upon them will themselves begin to hear the music and dance. After three days an entire town could be dancing this joyful jig without a care in the world.

As the sun sets on the third day the dancers begin to decay. Their limbs break away and the cheer is replaced by anguished screams and bloody gurgles until a only a black mass is left on the ground.

The curse can be lifted by dousing the dancer thrice in water blessed by a priest before breaking a harp in front of the dancer. However, the person lifting the curse must take precautions against becoming a dancer themselves by blindfolding themselves and plugging their ears. Alternatively, killing the cursed dancer will also get rid of the curse (for obvious reasons).

Placing the Dance of the Waning Sun curse requires three ingredients: the beak of a diseased crow, a cup of mortal blood and a song.

The song lyrics go as such:

When the sun swells on the horizon
and the night reveals the moon
bring music to this mortal flesh
and dance until its doom

The beak should be ground into a dust and added to the blood. This song must be sung to the blood cup so that it absorbs the words and melody. Then the curse must be directed at a specific person by thought. A full name must be known for the curse to work and it will only work if that person is within a mile of the ritual.

The dwarvern pocket universe of Khrenkalla

When the Grey City of Vunkorn was destroyed by the Red Orc hordes of the Simmerlands the Vunkorn dwarves had nowhere to go. If they were to delve further into the mountain, they would only be torn apart by the underbeasts of the Below, but leaving the confines of the mountain would see their remaining ranks decimated by the orcs and Ogrekin that now surrounded the mountains.

Their only option was to create a new world in which to live.

The Grand Magus Torkl Dwimdwinner used the ancient stones of worship to fashion a pocket universe within an obsidian cube. He named the universe Khrenkalla, which in the dwarvish tongue means 'New Society'. Using his power, he transported the remaining dwarves into Khrenkalla, but had to stay behind to ensure the cube was well hidden and protected. It is said he still remains as protector of Khrenkalla within the Grey City, hidden away from the orcs.

Because it was formed by magic, Khrenkalla is a haven for magic-users and even those without intrinsic magical abilities have found themselves able to cast some spells.

Over hundreds of years, the dwarves of Khrenkalla rebuilt and restructured its society. Among their kind, they became known as the Obsidian Dwarves, creating a kingdom in the Vastakara mountain range.

The Obsidian Dwarves are commanded by the Council of Dwimdwinner - named after the mage that gave them a new life within the cube. The council is lead by Grungrad Ymorg, who holds the power of ice and snow within the Staff of Blasted Frost that he crafted from the enchanted permafrost found in the Bitter Wastes to the north.

While life in Khrenkalla is generally peaceful, the magic of the world has formed new life within the cube. The most fierce of these creatures are the Slay, a race of demonic beings who feed on magical chaos. The Slay are deformed abominations who live in the Dire Outlands where they live on fear and decay. Many times the Slay and the dwarves have faced one another in battle, but each time the dwarves were barely able to defeat them.

A Slay Seer called Xerrin Doomsayer has had visions of an orb that can create a portal leading to another world that the Slay deem as the promised land. In reality, the orb will transport them to the mortal world that the dwarves originally fled from. With so much intrinsic magical power, the Slay would surely take over the mortal world and shape it into their warped image.

Getting to Khrenkalla

Transportation to Khrenkalla can happen in two ways. The first is to find Dwimdwinner and request passage to the universe, but this will be difficult as his role is to be a protector. If the party can prove that they are on the side of the Obsidian Dwarves, they are more likely to be able to gain passage.

The second way is to find a Dimensional Map. This is a living map that is updated whenever a new universe is created and it can also transport people to each dimension (with a magical sacrifice - usually the destruction of a powerful magic item).

The Khrenkalla Enviroment

The laws of physics are not the same in Khrenkalla and there are random effects that can happen. Roll 1d6 on the table below to see how the environment acts:

1. It rains glass shards
2. A purple fog appears that whispers ill omens to anyone within it
3. Chunks of the ground begin to levitate into the air 300ft before crashing down to the ground
4. A magical wind blows away recent memories
5. A soothing warm rain heals wounds
6. The world goes dark. All creatures gain a weakness to steel

Khrenkalla Encounters

1. A wandering nomad who phases in and out of reality
2. A band of Slay scouts armed with crossbows and knives
3. Slay warriors and a high priest
4. A Obsidian Dwarf hunting party
5. A pack of wild Ward Wolves with telekinetic abilities
6. Floating Mongo Heads who wish to eat magic

Saturday 17 October 2015

Pumpkin Demon for Tunnels & Trolls

'Tis the season to be scary, fa la la la la lala la laaa. Halloween is just around the corner for most, but if you're anything like me you're probably using October as an excuse to stretch that one day into an entire month.

To celebrate, here's a spooky dooky Pumpkin Demon for your Tunnels and Trolls game.

Pumpkin Demon

MR: 60 (7d6+30) [avg HPT: 51]

Special Spite Damage: The Roots Go Deep - If the Pumpkin Demon rolls 3 sixes, it gains control of the plant roots beneath the ground, commanding them to wrap around the enemy and drag them helplessly to the ground. 1d6 targets make a L4SR on DEX to avoid being grabbed by the roots. If they fail, their HPT is halved for 1d6 rounds and they are unable to move for the same amount of time.

Special Abilities: Shroud of Darkness - The Pumpkin Demon is able to cloak itself in pure darkness, making it difficult to attack. At the cost of 5 CON, the Pumpkin Demon becomes invisible to all. Any attacks against it are halved.

Treasure: Pumpkin Demon Seeds (500 gold).

Notes: The Pumpkin Demon is the dark lord of Samhain, a tradition celebrated across Trollworld every year. People around the world put out Jack-O-Lanterns carved from pumpkins to keep the dark lord at bay.

The Pumpkin Demon only rises if a blood moon falls on Samhain. A darkness falls over the world, when all stars are blotted out by a demonic shroud.

Monday 28 September 2015

Lords of Bone and Ash

A long time ago I was making a game called Demonlord, which was going to use USR. It was dark fantasy - like Diablo, Dark Souls and The Witcher. Demonlord fell by the wayside, but like most of my projects I generally pick them back up at some time or another.

So, after a name change and a different lick of paint, I'm writing a dark fantasy game called Lords of Bone and Ash. Unlike Somnium Void and Beyond Fear, which are setting supplements, Lords of Bone and Ash is a complete RPG using the USR system.

The game will come in three booklets a la White Box D&D, with a very 1970s aesthetic. Archetypes include Ravenguard, Stoutmen, Huldefolk, Shamans, Corpsers and Street Rat (yep, those are both "classes" and "races"). You'll get a complete setting too, all for a pay what you want price.

Not sure when it will be out - likely early 2016, but I'll keep you updated.

Sunday 13 September 2015

Beyond Fear, the USR guide to cosmic horror, is here

I'm excited to announce that I have released a new supplement for USR that focuses on Lovecraftian horror. Beyond Fear is a pay-what-you-want title, with all proceeds going towards Refuge, a domestic abuse charity.

Beyond Fear gives you ideas for character builds in a modern cosmic horror setting, as well as information on cults, secret grimoires, Lesser Beings and Elder Gods. It's perfect for that Halloween game you've been thinking of preparing.

Download Beyond Fear now.

Saturday 29 August 2015

An RPG on a Post-it: Stickynote Quest

I like weird projects so I sat down and created an RPG that can fit entirely on two sides of a sticky note. I've also included an equipment list, bestiary, setting information and a super tiny adventure.

I've tried, and I can fit all this on a regular sticky note.

I'm not saying it's particularly great - but I fancied a little challenge.

I can see myself writing adventures and setting material on sticky notes in the future.

Friday 28 August 2015

Somnium Void status update (and a chat)

It's been a while since I posted anything about Somnium Void, so I thought I'd share an update with you. Because only I solely work on my books, and I don't really have a set schedule like a fancy pants publisher, some books can take a while to get off the ground and change many, many times during the writing process. Also, I'm prone to having an idea and running with it straight away, so I'm always bouncing between projects. However, pretty much all projects I talk about get made in some form or another - whether it's Gauntlets and Goblins becoming Halberd Fantasy Roleplaying, or Slackers becoming a USR hack blog post.

That said, Somnium Void is almost finished. It looks like it's going to be between 40 and 50 pages, and while that isn't exactly a big book, for a micro-press like me it's a lot of time and effort.

Confession: when White Star was released I almost decided to completely can Somnium Void. Here was a simple game that did space opera effortlessly. How was I going to compete with that? The more I thought about it, the more I realised that it was ridiculous of me to think about these things in terms of competition. As I say, I'm not a business - I'm a one-man operation who loves creating roleplaying games. I make things because I love making. Besides, Somnium Void has a tonne of differences to White Star. The premise, for one, is unique and nothing like I've seen in games in the past. Plus, it runs on USR, which is a system that some people really, really dig, which is amazing. So, really, Void is absolutely for those people - for the fans who make new USR rules and run games every week with their friends.

Oh, and, take a look at the final cover.

The way that I work and my complete crippling worry that I'm going to produce something that people are going to dislike has given me pause about my Patreon. I've not yet taken any money for anything yet, and I honestly don't feel like doing it when Void lands. I don't know what it is exactly, but I just feel weird about it. It's the reason that I will never do a Kickstarter.

Maybe I'm being silly.

Anyway, this has been your Somnium Void update. As for a launch date, let's say it's going to be this side of Christmas. I'd love to use the buzz around Star Wars to launch it (ever the PR guy that I am), so it could be next month, or it could be December.

But expect new games, adventures and whatever else to pop up before then. I'd like to release a new Canary Overdrive mission in the next couple of months. I also want to completely revamp Halberd into something a lot more bad-ass, as well as get a Deluxe T&T adventure out of the door before 2016.

I'll also be releasing my Game Chef entry Dreams in Stasis on DriveThru soon and I'm toying with an arboreal-based freeform game.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Comics I'm reading right now

Oh comics, you never cease to entertain me. It's that time where I talk about stuff I'm reading as to help you determine what you might want to read. Kapeesh?

Wild's End (Boom! Studios)

What happens when you cross superstar Guardians of the Galaxy scribe Dan Abnett with anthropomorphic Yorkshirefolk and alien invasions? Well, you obviously get Wild's End, because you read the title. Wild's End is essentially War of the Worlds but in rural England with foxes, badgers, pigs and other jolly animals of our lovely English countryside. Arted by the wonderful N. J. Culbard, who you may know from the fantastic At the Mountains of Madness GN adaptation, Wild's End is just a damned fine book that really resonates with me, being a Yorkshireman and all. Clever, witty and sweet.

Red Sonja (Dynamite)

Yeah, yeah, I know this is old news, but I've finally got around to reading the first volume of Gail Simone's Red Sonja run - you know, the one everyone keeps yammering on about? I can tell you now that it's for bloody good reason too - Red Sonja is an amazing book. I don't think I've read an opening issue quite like this and the first story arc never lets up. Sonja herself is a fantastic character and I can't wait to dive into volume two to see what happens.

Shadowman (Valiant Entertainment)

I can't tell you how obsessed I am with everything that Valiant does. I've been making through all titles since the 2012 re-launch and now I've found myself reading Shadowman, a series about a paranormal hero who kicks the crap out of demons and suchlike. It's a really good read, but I think I've probably spoiled myself after reading the likes of Harbinger and X-O Manowar, which are masterpieces in my eyes.

Mystery Society (IDW)

I read this on a whim because it sounded bat-shit insane and that's the kind of thing I love. I wasn't disappointed. Mystery Society, written by Steve Niles with art by (be still my beating heart) Fiona Staples, is a story about an underground society dedicated to tracking down the weird and terrible, righting wrongs and kicking arse. When you have Jules Verne's brain inside a steampunk robot who wears a scarf, you know you're onto a winner.

I'm also reading the following, but it's been a while and I can't remember everything that's happening in them. They're all great though:

  • Elektra
  • Black Widow
  • Ms Marvel
  • Batman
  • Saga
  • Silver Surfer

Sunday 23 August 2015

Why I love Campaign Coins

I've never been one for using props in my games, mostly because I'm terrible at making things craft-wise and store-bought props can be expensive. But I've had a bag of Campaign Coins sitting in my sock drawer for a while now (what? Where else would I keep them?) so I decided to give them a whirl the other night. It's now safe to say that I'll always be using these guys from now on.

A note for the uninitiated. Campaign Coins is a brand of metallic fantasy coins for use with your fantasy RPG. They come in all shapes and sizes, colours and designs - and they're nicely crafted too. They feel weighty, like real coins, so giving your players a small pouch of these during a game when their character receives some coin will really add to the immersion.

I've found a really cool way of giving coin-based treasure to the party is by sticking my hand in the bag, grabbing a bunch of the clinky suckers and throwing them on the table in front of them. Since each has a different denomination, you're essentially rolling for random treasure with this action. The added bonus is that the players will scramble to count their horde in real life, which is so much better than just being told how much they gained. You can do this randomly, but this can lead to them getting a tonne more or less money than they should, or you can split the denominations and do it semi-randomly, picking a handful from the small, mid or high denominations.

But you don't have to use them for money. I started giving them out as tokens if they players did something particularly awesome. Different coins can mean different bonuses that they can use in an encounter, per day or whenever you feel like. For instance, a small copper denomination could mean a +2 encounter boost, while a big fat 1000 gold coin may mean an extra action or an extra roll per day.

Also, if you need something to represent an item or chest in a room, plop one of these down on your map. How about using one of the bigger and more impressive coins as a magic item or a quest item? The 5000 piece I have with a dragon on it could easily be something given to the characters if they need to infiltrate a dragon cult.

Campaign Coins are a great addition to your game, and from looking at the site you can also cutomise your own, which is pretty sweet.

Oh, by the way, this post is no way endorsed by Campaign Coins. As part of Trollish Delver's #positivegeekery initiative, I think it's important to highlight the businesses who help make our hobby better, no matter what their size. If I like your stuff, I'll probably write about it.

Saturday 22 August 2015

Want to improve your game mastering? Get up off the chair

When you're GMing a game, you're likely going to be sitting in one place for at least a few hours. This leads to a few things that I'd say weren't  great. Sitting down is super bad for your health - it's not the natural position that we as humans are supposed to be in, so whenever we're  sitting we're supposedly knocking hours off our life. Secondly, if you're using a screen you're creating a physical barrier between you and the players. Psychologically, I think, this creates a divide and in effect excludes you from the group. You might feel that to different degrees, but I definitely feel like that.

I believe that standing can be a literal game-changer for a GM and for the players. Standing can really enhance a game for everyone taking part, as well as keeping you active for a good few hours.

You're more included in the group

Standing removes the barrier the screen puts between you and the players. You're part of the gang again and they will see that too. You're putting yourself in a more approachable position to the players and vice-versa.

You have more energy

When you're sitting, you don't have as much energy and as a result you can start to get tired, which affects your game. Nobody wants a tired GM at their table. Standing, on the other hand lets the blood flow and keeps you animated. I find that when I stand I'm much more kinetic - I'm more inclined to act things out and gesticulate. What this means is that I'm putting more into my performances, which goes a long way to enhancing my game.

You have freedom of movement

When you're sitting, it takes that extra bit of effort to get out of your chair and move around. But when you stand up, you're free to move around the table, to pass things around, to whisper a secret in a player's ear and just get up in their grills. Talk about improving immersion!

You enhance your creativity

Research has found that standing up in meetings can help improve creativity which can only be a good thing for GMs. As tabletop overlords, we have to keep our brains in gear for when something unexpected happens, often having to improvise on the spot (personally, I love improvising, but that's a story for another post). So to get that creative boost, it could help to get up off the chair.

So next time you're GMing, consider getting off your arse and doing a standing session and see how much of a difference it makes. Plus, you'll be keeping active, which is never a bad thing.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Let's talk about REAL dungeons

Today I want to talk about dungeons. Yes, actual dungeons as they existed in history - the ones without the floating lava platforms and the arcane eyes dotted all over the place.

It's a bit of a misnomer that medieval castles housed areas for prisoners. In fact, the French don-jon was the name used for the Great Keep where nobles lived and contemplated this most secure of places. But as time went by, the nobles sought more luxurious abodes while priceless items and important prisoners were kept in the Great Keep on the count of its security.

Eventually, in the late medieval period, new prisons were built for political prisoners, which were called dungeons - reminiscent of the don-jons before them. Because people didn't really want prisoners near them in the castle, the dungeons were located in basements and dank places that, frankly, were pretty rotten.

Dungeons tended to be little more than a room with a trapdoor - nothing like the places we're used to in our fantasy roleplaying games. They were certainly claustrophobic - but they have nothing on the oubliette.

French for 'the forgotten place', the oubliette is one of the most unthinkably terrifying places you could imagine. The prisoner would be lowered into a space in which they could only stand - there was no room to crouch or move. There they were left, sometimes fed scraps, until they were let out - if they ever were. Surely this is one of the worst fates anyone could experience. I can imagine that if someone's character were put in there, the player would be affected somewhat.

One of the most infamous examples of the dungeon was the one located in Pontefract Castle, 35ft below the surface. It had a network of prison cells deep underground where prisoners were left to rot - a harrowing and unbelievable experience by today's standards.

So, dungeons in real life weren't exactly like the ones full of treasure and magic that we're used to at the gaming table, but if you want to really terrify your players - lock their characters in a real dungeon, in the dark, for the rest of their lives.

Sleep tight.

Thursday 13 August 2015

Ördög for Swords & Wizardry Whitebox

Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: Pitchfork [1d6]
Special: Shapeshifting, Magic Use, Immune to Charm
Move: 12
XP: 600

The Ördög is a black faun who carries the foul stench of brimstone wherever it goes. They are tricksters who make wagers with mortals - encouraging them to bet their souls on games of chance. Of course, the Ördög always cheats.

The Ördög is a shapeshifter who appears in the guise of of a fox or a shepherd. Once per day it may transform into one of these for 12 hours, with the ability to show its true form whenever it likes. A character with Intelligence 16 or higher notices that, in its shapeshifted guise, the creature has bright yellow rings for pupils.

The Ördög, a being from the hell dimensions, is innately magical and can cast Dimension Portal (which is often used to travel back to hell), Confusion and Charm Person.

When in combat, the Ördög will begin by casting Confusion on its enemies, attempting to force them to attack each other. As a last resort it will use its pitchfork in melee against its enemies, targeting magic-users before anyone else. If it finds that it is losing a battle, it will cast Dimension Portal and travel back to the hell dimensions.

The Ördög will not usually attack if unprovoked. It would rather use Charm Person to gain the trust of the unwitting soul, often under the guise of playing a game with them. They will then use Dimensional Portal to transport them into a massive cauldron in hell.

Friday 7 August 2015

Get Canary Overdrive: Missions - MindMush for free

The first in the series of Canary Overdrive: Missions has arrived. MindMush is a free adventure for your Canary Overdrive game, designed to be played in one session.

A mole has leaked a formula for an experimental drug called MindMush to a competitor corporation. The Canaries are hired to find out where the leak came from and to infiltrate the HQ of Zanwing to destroy the data.

Remember that the Canary Overdrive rules are pay what you want, with all proceeds going to Refuge, a charity helping victims of domestic abuse.