Tuesday 28 February 2017

2000 AD revives British comic history

Lost classic children’s British comics from the 1970s and ’80s are to be brought back to life by 2000 AD, following its acquisition of the Fleetway and IPC Youth group archive from Egmont UK last year.

Ben Smith, head of books and comic books at Rebellion Publishing, which owns 2000 AD, described it as a chance to restore “a vital but largely overlooked piece of British cultural history”.

The new Treasury of British Comics line will launch in June this year with John Wagner and John Cooper’s “part Dirty Harry, part Judge Dredd” One-Eyed Jack, first published in 1975.

This will be followed in July by the first collection of Mike Western and Eric Bradbury’s “British Spider-man” series The Leopard from Lime Street.

The Watership Down-style tale of a lone fox’s desperate struggle to survive against wicked humans, Marney the Fox, by writer M Scott Goodall and illustrator John Stokes, will be published in hardcover in September, followed by Gerry Finley-Day and Eric Bradbury’s Dracula Files from the pages of Scream!, which saw ‘red peril’ meet gothic horror as Dracula stalked 1980s Britain in one of the 1980s’ most popular comics.

November will see the second volume of the classic 1980s ‘horror comic for girls’ Misty, featuring two stories: “The Sentinels” and “End of the Line”.

And in December, a collection of Ken Reid’s legendary Faceache from Jet and Buster will be published in hardcover. One of the all-too-forgotten greats of British comics, Reid’s work has been cited by Alan Moore and Pat Mills as a major influence.

All titles will be distributed through Simon & Schuster, which already distributes 2000 AD’s bestselling imprint of graphic novels in the UK and North America.

Ben Smith said: “The wealth of story and art from past decades is woefully unexplored and our experience with the 40-year history of 2000 AD was that, if curated in the right way, this material has a large mainstream audience and that classic comics represent extraordinary opportunity not only to satisfy contemporary readers but also save and reinstate a vital but largely overlooked piece of British cultural history.

“It’s an incredible way for parents and grandparents to pass on their own childhood to new generations in the same way that sharing The Wind in the Willows or The Hobbit with children and young people forges and reinforces bonds across families.

“The reprographic work is extraordinarily involved. Most pages have to be sourced from the original printed comics, as the film and artwork has been lost long ago. We have over a decade’s experience with a full time reprographics team, and we expanded the head count to take on the extra workload.

“We’re balancing material we have found to be of exceptional quality, with stories that readers have begun clamouring for as lost classics and little known gems.”

Sunday 26 February 2017

Initial sketches for Chronic Planet

Today I've spent a lot of time working on Chronic Planet, both on the art side and the words. I just wanted to share some sketches from the book to give you an idea of the art style.

Saturday 25 February 2017

Announcing Chronic Planet

I'm excited about a new roleplaying project I've just started work on called Chronic Planet. 

What is Chronic Planet?

Think A Princess of Mars meets stoner metal with a heap of 2000 AD. Chronic Planet is John Carter's acid trip to the sound of Orange Goblin. 

What's the system?

The game uses the rules from Romance of the Perilous Land, a spin on OSR. This is simple and can be used with existing OSR modules. 

Who's doing the art?

This is the most daunting part. I want a very specific style for Chronic Planet and I can't afford to pay anyone, so I'm doing it myself. I enjoy doing art but I've never really thought about doing it for a product. This Space Riders cover will give you an idea of the kind of look I'm going for.

Image: Black Mask

When is it out?

Erm, ask me in a few months. Because I'll be doing all of the art, writing and layout I can't imagine it will be anytime soon. 

Games of interest this week (18-25th February)

Welcome to Games of Interest - a weekly summary post of games and supplements that have caught my eye this week. 

Stranger Chrome
Published by John Banner
Price $2.50
Stranger Chrome is a short and simple story game inspired by the coming-of-age struggles from the characters in the TV show Stranger Things married to the near-future dystopia of cyberpunk stories like Burning Chrome. 
We play to answer questions about the world and our character's place in it, and explore how the setting makes our character's lives both easier and harder. It's suitable for 3-5 players and about an evening of play, and can use dice, tokens, or any kind of conflict-resolution system you like.

Published by Shield of Faith Studios
Price $1.99
Welcome to the 18th issue of Crawling Under A Broken Moon, a fanzine dedicated to bringing gonzo post apocalyptic content for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG from Goodman Games.

This issue contains: 

A new Interesting Place to Die: The Menfish Pyramid of the Bass Masters! 
The Hybird, A new alluring character class
New rules for underwater combat
New rules for watercraft creation and combat
And a passel of new anphibious (sic) beasties to encounter

Published by Lost Pages
Price $9.99
An historical supplement on pilgrimages, relics and religion in the European Middle Ages.
The Poor Pilgrim's Almanack is filled with painstakingly researched essays on religious life (and death) in the middle ages, it lets you use relics and pilgrimage as the basis of an alternative conception of clerical magic. Also included are details on travel, burial customs, catacombs, and the business of relic theft. A travelogue of shrines and other pilgrimage sites, detailed rules for relics and reliquaries, and a listing of historical miracles (corresponding to familiar clerical spells) make this 128 page sourcebook a treasure trove of inspiration. Dozens of adventure seeds and tables for generating encounters on the road, graves and grave goods, and randomized catacomb generation and stocking round out the contents. A new class, the Palmer, provides a novel take on religious adventurers.

Published by Trollish Delver Games (me)
Price PWYW
It's rayguns, aliens and swashbuckling amongst the stars! Astounding Interplanetary Adventures is a minimalist game of pulp sci-fi inspired by serials like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Using the rules-lite system introduced in In Darkest Warrens, these few pages have everything you need to play a fun romp through space, including aliens, rocket ships and setting information. 
All you need is some friends, some six-sides dice and an imagination to begin your life of heroism. Perhaps you want to be a daring pilot, a brave soldier or even a scientist who can build robots to help you out! With AIA it's quick and easy to get to the table and start playing. 
What's included:
5 classes: soldier, noble, pilot, scientist, and athlete Alien bestiary Roll random planets Factions Planets Thrills and spills!

Disclaimer: this is my latest game. Plug plug plug.

Herne the Hunter for Romance of the Perilous Land

Herne the Hunter
HD: 7(17)
HP: 7d6 (21hp)
Attack: Chain (d6+7)
Armour: 3

Special: Herne can blow his horn as an action. Anyone Near must make a Mind save or stop petrified. During this time they are unable to move, but they may take other actions. They can make a Mind save at the end of their turn to see if the effect wears off. In addition, normal weapons do half damage against Herne, while magical weapons and effects do double damage.

Herne the Hunter is a malevolent spirit who wears stag antlers on his head and rides a ghostly mare. The rattle of chains can be heard as he approaches, his eyes burn like hot coals. When he blows his horn a nightmarish wail echoes through the air, terrifying all who hear it. 

Herne has several ghostly followers collectively known as the Dark Hunters (use the stats for ghosts for these).

Friday 24 February 2017

Random thieves guild generator

Want a thieves guild on the fly? Roll below to discover it's name, leader and guild symbol.

First part of the name 1d10

1. Red
2. Broken
3. Night
4. Damned
5. Deadly
6. Shadow
7. Skulking
8. Dread
9. Black
10. Hell's

Second part of the name 1d10

1. Queens
2. Knives
3. Rats
4. Bones
5. Snakes
6. Chalice
7. Scourge
8. Crowns
9. Coin
10. Dogs

Guild leader first name 1d10

1. Tarvus
2. Aleena
3. Patch
4. Blades
5. Goja
6. Rita
7. Hungar
8. Sticks
9. Fingers
10. Olissia

Guild leader second name 1d10

1. Nightlord
2. Undercroft
3. The Reckless
4. Weaselway
5. Half-moon
6. The Demented
7. Winterwatch
8. Rotten
9. The Daring
10. Two-swords

Guild symbol 1d10

1. Black rose
2. Broken key
3. Grinning skull
4. Crossed daggers
5. Stabbed rat
6. Snake coiled around a sword
7. Two headed dragon
8. Hand with half a finger missing
9. Devil's head
10. Sole of a boot

Thursday 23 February 2017

The Druid class for Romance of the Perilous Land

The druid is among the highest ranked religious figure in society and as such are held in great regard. They are born leaders, physicians, diplomats and lorekeepers. They are masters of divination and lead important ceremonies, including sacrifices. 

HD: 1d6+2
Primary attribute requisite: Mind 12 Weapon Proficiency: Light ranged, light melee. 
Armour Proficiency: Light   
Skills: Religious Knowledge (Mind), Natural Medicine (Mind), Diplomacy (Charisma)

Class Features

Lvl 1: Druidic Magic - druids gain access to the following spells at first level: A Heavenly Light, The Voice of a Hound, Cause the Alert to Slumber, Replenish the Weary and Worn and On Calming the Raging Beast. 

Lvl 3: Sacrifice Evil - once per day a druid may use a sacrificial dagger (which they begin with) to kill an enemy. If they do this, all allies within 100ft gains advantage on their next attack roll. 

Lvl 5: Destroy Evil - once per combat a druid may do +1d6 damage to a malevolent spirit creature. 

Lvl 7: Stand with Me - allies within 20ft of the druid gain 2 extra points of armour. 

Lvl 9: Armour of the Gods - Once per day a druid may pray to the gods to bless them with radiant armour. Attacks against the druid have disadvantage for 10 minutes. The druid also gains 4 extra points of armour until the feature wears off. 

Converting B/X Vancian magic to Romance of the Perilous Land points system

One of the things that differentiates Romance of the Perilous Land from many other OSR games is that it doesn't use the Vancian magic system. Instead, it uses a points based system like in Tunnels and Trolls.

In order to convert Vancian to points based as a rule of thumb double the spell's level to get its points value. Everything else behaves in the same way. So a 7th level spell would cost 14 points unless the DM decides it should be a couple of points higher or lower.

That's it really - nice and simple. This makes it easier to run a wide range of OSR adventures with the RotPL ruleset.

Someone is Kickstarting a map-making storygame

I'm always intrigued when someone does something completely different in the tabletop space, which is why Companions' Tale caught my eye.

The premise is that players join together to create a map of a place, building it's lore, history and architecture through storytelling. Here's what the Kickstarter page says:

Companions’ Tale is a map-making storytelling game where you tell the tale of an epic hero, righting wrongs and saving kingdoms. The hero acts, and leaves others to tell the tale. You are those others: the hero's closest companions. Whose version of the heroic tale will become canon, and whose will be a footnote to history?

Companions’ Tale is a game is for 4 players and takes approximately 2 ½ hours to play. It uses evocative world-building rules, a deck of inspirational themes and art, and a series of rotating roles for shared storytelling. Together, you’ll build the history and culture of the realm, fill in a rich and changing map, and reveal your companions’ tales.

A map making game is something I've been tinkering around with in my head for a while, but this sounds better than what I was imagining. 

If this sounds like something you'd like to support, head over to the Kickstarter page

Wednesday 22 February 2017

2000 AD: Celebrating 40 years of zarjaz comics

2000 AD is one of the most influential and important comic books of all time. Not only did it give birth to such iconic characters like Rogue Trooper, Halo Jones and, of course, the law himself Judge Dredd, it became the crucible that produced some of the best writers and artists in the business.

This week 2000 AD celebrates its 40th birthday with a special anniversary issue. First published in February 1977, 2000 AD is a unique British success story – one of the most influential comic books of all time. Millions of youngsters have grown up on its diet of science-fiction action, punk-inspired irreverence, subversive comedy, ultra violence, and disturbingly prescient dark satire.

Giving some of the biggest names in the industry their first break, including Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, and Simon Bisley, these talents have gone on to not only forge geekdom in their own image, from DC Comics’ influential Vertigo imprint and the current storytelling revolution at Image Comics to Marvel’s billion-dollar movie franchise.

The comic has meant a lot to me personally for a long time now and I want to thank all the creators, editors and all involved for making such an amazing experience every week of the year. 

So here's to another 40 years.

Monsters using magic - Romance of the Perilous Land rules clarification

I've just realised that the rules for how creatures use magic isn't super clear in RotPL, so I just wanted to make a post to clarify. 

It's super simple, actually. Like a PC has to roll on Mind, the creature rolls on their Target Number and reduces that number by the spell level. Magic points are reduced as normal (remember, HD+10 equals magic points). Creatures do not have to reduce their TN by the PC's level as they would with a regular attack. 

I hope that helps with your game. If you're unfamiliar with Romance of the Perilous Land, you can pay what you want for the download.

Unearthed Arcana releases mass combat rules

IWhile many of us thought we'd get another class in this week's Unearthed Arcana, Wizards have produced some rules for mass combat.

Yup, bringing large battles into an RPG is often a contentious issue - much of the time it takes you right out of the game and can turn into a bit of a mess. So how does it work in 5e?

It's pretty damned simple, really. Creature CR is converted to a Battle Rating and a unit consists of 400 creatures. Morale is determined by the DM and the commander's charisma. Commanders must be in each of your units.

Attacking is as simple as rolling a d20 and adding a unit's battle rating, with the defender doing the same. Damage is done depending on the difference between these values. Terrain etc can provide advantage and disadvantage on these rolls. It's pretty bloody simple. Morale checks are rolled if a unit gets to half its original population.

There's a bit on bringing characters into it, with some advice working better than others. The rules say that you can resolve special character effects such as spells and kind of judge how that plays out on the battlefield. I prefer the tried and tested 'zooming in' method where we use a regular combat to resolve a specific event or objective. The rules list a few examples of these.

Overall, I think these mass combat rules are fine, but I probably won't use them. You're better off just cracking out some minis and playing a wargame with a bit more crunch.

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Mutant: Mechatron live on Kickstarter

That cheeky lot at Modiphius are Kick-starting again, aren't they? This time it's Mutant: Mechatron, an expansion chock full of robots. 

From the Kickstarter page:

From the devious minds that brought you Mutant: Year Zero, Mutant: Gen Lab Alpha, and Coriolis, comes the latest addition to the Mutant universe - Mutant: Mechatron.
Played either as a standalone or as an expansion to the other games in the Mutant: Year Zero franchise, Mechatron tells the origin story of the robots, and introduces them into the dawnworld of the apocalpse.

Features include:
  • New rules for creating and playing robots. A unique system lets you build your machine character part by part. The book includes all the rules you need to play!
  • A detailed description of Mechatron-7, the huge underground robot hive, including a beautiful full-color map.
  • The complete campaign Ghost in the Machine, putting the player characters in the middle of a conflict threatening the future of the entire robot hive.
  • An overview of how the robots can adapt to life in the Zone, and join the human mutants of Mutant: Year Zero.

Blast off with Astounding Interplanetary Adventures

I'm excited to announce the release of Astounding Interplanetary Adventures, a minimalist ruleset for pulp science fiction.

Using the In Darkest Warrens system, AIA is a quick and easy game that has everything you need to get started playing swashbuckling adventures chock full of rockets, aliens and thrills.

AIA is perfect for those wanting to capture the feel of the Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers serials. I've even included a short setting introduction containing the main factions and planets in the game.

Download and pay what you want.

Saturday 18 February 2017

Checking out Plane Shift Kaladesh for D&D

Wizards of the Coast has continued its series of Magic: The Gathering settings for D&D 5e with the new release of Plane Shift: Kaladesh, bringing an Eberron-esque dungeonpunkishness to the tabletop game.

Like previous entries in the series, like Zendikar and Innistrad, Kaladesh is a free supplement available to download from the Wizards website as a pdf.

Kaladesh is probably the most interesting and complete download we've had from Plane Shift, mainly because of the setting's technological concept of aether-powered devices. Essentially, after discovering a way to refine aether the world of Kaladesh has entered a golden age of automatons, air travel and warfare, where aether is a replacement for electricity. This is where the most intriguing part of the book comes in - rules for crafting aether-powered tech, which combines the rules for magic item crafting in the DMG and Kaladesh-centric rules requiring obtaining or creating a schematic for whatever piece of technology you're wanting to create. It's all pretty simple, requiring daily DC checks where the target number is informed by how uncommon the tech is. A group of players can come together to roll Arcana checks to make things a bit easier for them.

This crafting element is taken further with the introduction of special feats like Quicksmithing and Servo Crafting, both of which hone your character's ability to craft aether tech. The latter allows you to create tiny telepathic automatons that act as personal assistants - perfect for a tinkerer-style character to use around their workshop.

On top of that, we get five races - two of which are brand spanking new ones: Aetherborn and Vedalken, whereas the others are variations on Human, Elf and Dwarf. Aetherborn are sentient byproducts of the aether refinement process, popping into being through a mixture of alchemical wizardry and latent psychic impressions cooked up from those working on refining the material. They have the option, as long as the DM allows it, to harvest the life force from other beings in order to supplement their short lives. Whereas the Vedalken are the studious engineers - scientists who only really care about the big questions and tend not to get involved in politics. Basically, these guys make great Wizards.

At the end of the book we're treated to some new monsters, like the gargantuan Sky Leviathan that will swallow a poor bugger whole, and aether siphoning Gremlins. The rest, unfortunately, are just re-skinned giants, dragons, angels etc, with a bit of flavour and nothing else.

Kaladesh is a cracking little supplement chock full of absolutely stunning artwork (seriously worth the download just for the art) and some neat concepts. If you're thinking about getting a MTG style campaign brewing, this would seem like an excellent place to start.