Wednesday 30 October 2019

Vote for Quill

German publisher System Matters did a great job localising a print edition of Quill in a lovely bundle containing Love Letters and Shadow and Ink. Quill us now up for a German award nicknamed that Golden Stephan. It's not just a roleplaying awards, it's for nerd culture in general. I'd love a vote if you please :)

Vote here

Sunday 27 October 2019

King Arthur is returning in our time of need

You might have noticed something in the air recently. As populism grips the western world, protests ignite around the globe and political divides become even more deeply entrenched, magic has begun weaving its way back into the world.

The Arthurian narrative has always been popular in the western canon. Chivalry, honour and leadership are the tenets expounded by these stories (though modern readings of texts like Le Morte d'Arthur don't quite stand up to moral scrutiny). After all, Arthur is the once and future king, promised to return when England needs him most.

The above is basically a flowery way of saying there's a bunch of Arthurian stuff out there lately. Venerable game designer Patrick Stuart has funded his Gawain and the Green Knight Kickstarter after the first rat attempt unfortunately fell short. This will be a beautifully illustrated poem and I'm really looking forward to it.

Screenwriter Thomas Wheeler and comics legend Frank Miller this month released their book Cursed (of which I'm two thirds of the way through), which attempts to tie the events of Arthurian legend together into a single cause, telling the story of Nimue and the Sword of Power. It really is an excellent read and Netflix will be putting out a series early next year.

Comic writer and pop culture savant Kieran Gillen and illustrator Dan Mora are in the middle of their run of Once and Future, a modern story that holds quite a different lens on the legend, turning Arthur into an undead leader of a fascist group. It's a fun read and I'm looking forward to seeing where he takes it.

Of course, my own roleplaying game interpretation of the legend, Romance of the Perilous Land, will launch in December. This puts Arthur at the centre of a war with the powers of darkness as Mordred and Morgan Le Fay try to conquer and destroy Camelot respectively.

There's also said to be a new Merlin Disney movie helmed by Ridley Scott waiting in the wings. And a few years back we had the Guy Ritchie adaptation King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which for all its problems (there were many) managed to produce a unique look at the tale. Also, David Beckham was in it for some reason.

Arthurian legend will always find a way to be relevant, even in the far future when everything is holograms and headjacks. It's a malleable tale of human nature, good and evil, and fate.

Saturday 26 October 2019

The Purple Hashish House launches - first Echoes of the Labyrinth adventure

You may remember I wrote a T&T adventure thingy right here on the blog called The Purple Hashish House. Well, I've converted it to Echoes of the Labyrinth, my T&T hack, and made it available as a pwyw download.

It's not a straight conversion - I've added a couple of new things: namely some setting info, a basic map and a treasure table. The rest is very much the same location romp it was before, crammed full of adventure possibility - a pressure cooker for Delvers to experience. This is the kind of adventure I most enjoy writing, because it's not an adventure per se. Instead, it's a load of hooks plopped into a location - in this case the Purple Hashish House. I've popped in a handful of adventure hooks, like guarding the ostrich vizier, joining a group of assassins and attempting to retrieve a wand.

The thing I love portraying is the possibility for adventure. Social locations like a tavern or, indeed, hashish house are great for this. Lots of characters doing things, having their own goals and personalities. In the Purple Hashish House there are 35 characters in 5 pages. Pelican masseuse, geckomen nomads, sarcastic sand golem, a sentient puppet, rat demons, a fat astrologer, a rhino crime boss are just some of them.

You can download Echoes of the Labyrinth for $2 and pwyw for The Purple Hashish House.

Thursday 24 October 2019

Quill scenario: The Haunting of Pettigrew Manor

You have recently moved into a fine manor house in the heart of Kent, England after inheriting it from an estranged uncle. Not long after you unloaded you boxes, you began to experience strange phenomena. First were the noises in the dead of night. Then, soon after, came the disturbing moans that echoed from the kitchen as you tried to sleep in your chamber. Recently, you've found objects lying around where you hadn't left them. But most concerning of all were the bloody red handprints on the bathroom mirror.

You are writing to a well known author and paranormal researcher in the hopes that she will come and investigate the strange happenings.

Rules of Correspondence

- Strange noises are occurring as you write, leaving you shaking. Take a -1 to all Penmanship rolls.

Ink Pot

Ghost/ Phantom
Room/ Chamber
Noises/ Unearthly reverberations
Picture/ Portrait
Red/ Scarlet
Fluid/ Ichor
Beg/ Beseech
Look/ Investigate
Underground/ Cthonic
Gust/ Squall

Less than 5 points: Your letter receives a response within two weeks. It is clearly written by the author's assistant, saying that while your story sounds quite interesting the investigator has far too much on her plate to visit. Best of luck! From that day, events spiral. You are forced to flee the manor, never to return. Oh the horrors you have witnessed.

5-7 points: You tear open the letter with a small knife and eagerly read it. It's the author, signed in her own handwriting. She is interested in your story and will be visiting in the coming months. By the time she arrives, you are naught but catatonic, babbling about the horrors of the night. Seeing you in this state, she packs up and leaves instantly.

8-10 points: Within a week there is a knock at your door. The author stands before you donning a black wide brimmed hat. She tells you she was struck by your extraordinary tale and decided to come post haste. She spends several nights in the manor, monitoring activity on a series of strange brass gadgets. One morning, she doesn't show up for breakfast. You meekly knock at her chamber door and hearing no answer you open it. Oh, you wish you had never opened it. Now, as you flee across the country you can only see her face. Her twisted face.

11+ points: Three people show up at your door not a week after sending your letter. One is the author, donning a wide brimmed hat. She and her associated begin at once to monitor the strange activity in the manor with a series of brass instruments. They stay for two weeks, documenting the phenomena. One of her assistants is found dead in the greenhouse, impaled on a statue. The author decides to leave and offers that you accompany her - the manor is not safe. In a year a book called The Haunting of Pettigrew Manor is released to the public and you reap the royalties. Perhaps the horror was all worth it in the end.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Trollish Delver has reached over 1,000,000 views

Well, it's taken more than 10 years, but the blog has reached over 1,000,000 views. Thanks to all my readers over the years.

That is all.

Against the Darkmaster Kickstarter live plus special announcement

Oh I've been waiting for this for a while now and now the hour has finally arrived. Against the Darkmaster, the MERP-inspired roleplaying game has now launched on Kickstarter.

I also happen to be a stretch goal on the campaign. That's right, if the campaign hits $35,000 backers will be getting an adventure written by yours truly. The Silence of Dawnfell will be a folklore-inspired adventure with the following teaser description:

"Silence has fallen over Dawnfell. The enchanted ringing of the sacred bell Frostchime, the bell that wards away the clan of wild trolls in the Biting Wood, has vanished. Now Dawnfell is open to vicious attacks, how long can it last."

Go back the Kickstarter.

Monday 21 October 2019

Quill scenario: The Horror on the Hill

As a very special Halloween treat, I've written a new scenario for Quill. It's a spooky one inspired by Lovecraft. You can use the normal Quill rules or the rules from Quill: Shadow and Ink.

Letter profile

- You are writing to friend and folklorist Abraham Cutler about a strange occurrence that happened two nights ago. You're trying to explain the horror that befell you in an attempt to gain further information.
- You live in a small house on Willow Hill, an abode you inherited from your father when he passed two years ago. Over time you've occasionally noticed lights in the sky after sundown. Recently you've heard a strange buzzing in the deep of the night, as if it were a voice calling out to you. The woods close by have been alight with odd fires and you've heard the din of drums in the small hours. Two nights ago you finally saw the thing that caused the buzzing and also the ones who were responsible for the infernal drumming.

Rules of Correspondence

- Cutler is an old friend. Gain an extra heart die.

Ink Pot

Night/ Starless twilight
Drumming/ maddening rhythm
Fear/ Disquietude
Cries/ Exclamations
Fire/ Conflagration
Weird/ Eldritch
Cut/ Rend
Horrors/ Abominations
Found/ Discovered
Sounds/ Buzzing


Less than 5 points: Your letter goes unanswered. You decide that you've clearly just hallucinated everything and you need to take some rest. In four days you are visited by a being like the one you saw previously. The world goes blank as it dismantles your skull with surgical precision.

5-7 points: Cutler responds within a week. He believes you're going through an episode and should seek help. He is concerned for your health. You see the lights in the sky again and laugh. You're fine. You're fine.

8-10 points: Cutler's response is swift. He's clearly alarmed, explaining a few different stories from the area. You both correspond further before he arrives at your doorstep. When he stays over, he too experiences the drumming and the buzzing, but he dares not look at its owner. He convinces you to leave your home and live with him for a while.

11+ points: Cutler pulls up at your home on the hill. He explains exactly what the phenomenon is, having read about it in the Dread Necronomicon. They are drawn to the house, something to do with it being built at certain angles. You both watch as th house ignites, the flames licking up high. In the nights after there is no drumming or buzzing in the area. You have started your new life in the city, but you still have no desire to look at the stars.

Elder Tunnels zine: Halloween 2019

By heck, it's been a while since a new issue of Elder Tunnels graced the interwebs, but here it is. ET started life as a Tunnels and Trolls zine, but has now evolved into a publication covering all sorts of indie games (along with T&T).

Here's what it's got in store within its 40 pages:

  • Introduction by Christina Lea
  • Crawlspace Adventure: The Clown in the Woods by Tom K. Loney
  • QUAGS Adventure: Dead and Breakfast by Ian Engle
  • Stay Alive! Adventure: Voodoo Dusk by Jerry Teleha
  • Tunnels & Trolls GM Adventure: The Horror on Bleakmoor, by Scott Malthouse

When Tom Loney asked me to contribute, how could I say no? Elder Tunnels was the first place I got an adventure published - it holds a special place in my heart. Plus you've got the likes of Jerry Teleha, Ian Engle in addition to Loney leading the charge.

If you're running a spooky one-shot, definitely check it out

Friday 18 October 2019

Customising characters in Romance of the Perilous Land

In Romance of the Perilous Land there are six classes: knight, ranger, bard, barbarian, cunning folk and thief. But your class is just the framework to hang your character on.

So how does a player customise their hero? After all, everyone in Romance is human.

First off, there's the background system. Both your class and your background offers a selection of skills. You knight may have been a farmer, which would give them a selection of different skills than if their background is an outlaw.

Secondly, there are talents, which offer new abilities that can be selected at certain levels, including first. I firmly wrote the game as OSR, but I did want to offer some customisation with talents. It means your thief could dabble in magic, or your ranger could become a trapper. This isn't about min-maxing, but instead creating a great character you really want to play. Whether it's a monster hunting bard, a spell sword cunning folk or a healing ranger.

Thirdly, there are the factions. Romance has a narrative and history and factions have a part to play. Factions give your character a series of rules to abide by. The Knights of the Round Table have to donate treasure to Camelot and live by a code of valour, while the Order of the Fisher King must find magic treasure to heal their monarch.

Finally, there are deities. Most, if not all, characters will worship a god or goddess, whether this is the thunder god Taranis or the horse goddess Epona. Deities give the player a steer on how a character will act in a situation.

Of course, as is often the case in roleplaying games, everything from the weapon you use to the languages you speak all come together to create a unique character.

Saturday 12 October 2019

Dungeon Gits - full pdf download (PWYW)

Earlier in the week I was knobbing around on the blog and came up with a little set of rules called Dungeon Gits. Because I can't let things go, I've expanded on the rules, cleaned them up and put them into a downloadable formatted pdf just for you. How nice of me.

You can PWYW for the DriveThru version. I've asked for at least $1 for the Itch version, so it's entirely your choice. If you're already a member of my Patreon, you will be able to download it from there.

DriveThruRPG link link

Friday 11 October 2019

Join my Patreon

I've given my Patreon a refresh, so if you fancy one or two monthly goodies go sign up. New backers now have access to Echoes of the Labyrinth.

Sunday 6 October 2019

Dungeon Gits - simple roleplaying

As you know, I love creating little systems. It's pretty much my favourite thing. So here's a really easy tiny game for a trad fantasy setting with low/ no magic. Inspired by Tunnel Goons by Nate Treme. I call this Dungeon Gits.

Two attributes: Bashing and Not Bashing. Bashing is used for anything strength related as well as all combat. Not Bashing is everything else you can do.

Split 3 points between them, with 0 being the minimum. HP is 10 plus Bashing.

Next, choose three Knacks. This is any skill your character has. It's up to you what this is, but run by the GM. A Knack gives a +1 bonus to a Test.

Name your character and give it a Class name based on its stats and Knacks.

Tests are rolled when an effort could end in failure with consequences. Roll 2d6 + an attribute + a relevant knack + any item bonuses. If you roll a 10 or more in total the Test succeeds. If you roll a natural 12 you get a Crucial Success, meaning you gain a Hero Die. You can only have up to 3 hero dice at any one time. You can also get a Crucial Success in combat. If you roll a natural 2 at any time you lose a Hero Die. If you can't lose one, nothing special happens.

Using Hero Dice: you may spend a Hero Die whenever you have to roll. To do this, roll your Hero Die in addition to you usual dice. You can spend as many Hero Dice as you like in this way.

Combat: When attacking an NPC the players rolls 2d6 + Bashing + Weapon bonus. The roll must exceed the NPCs defense score (DS). If it succeeds, damage is done to NPC HP equal to the amount the attack exceeded the DS. If if fails, no damage is done.

When an NPC attacks, the player rolls 2d6 + Bashing + Armour bonus. If it equals or exceeds the enemy DS they take no damage. If it doesn't, damage is done to player HP equal to the difference between the roll and the enemy DS.

Combat participants get one action each, including movement (30ft), attacking, using an item or doing a stunt. For initiative, players go first in order of highest Not Bashing first. Decide between you on a tie. Enemies go after in whatever order the GM wants.

You can only use weapons or armour with a bonus equal to your Bashing attribute.

Weapons: Dagger or sling (1), shortsword or bow (2), longsword or longbow (3)

Armour: Hide (1), Chain (2), Plate (3)

Start with 1d6+10 copper pieces. Weapons and armour cost 10 X their weapon bonus in copper.

Your Backpack is equal to Bashing + 5. This determines how many items you can carry. Anything bigger than a fist counts as 1 item. Anything bigger than a leg counts as 2 items. For every point you have over, reduce Not Bashing rolls by that much. Also reduce movement by 5 feet for every item over.

Levelling up: after 3 sessions, level up. Gain 1 point in one attribute and +3 total HP.  Cap out at level 5.

Bestiary example:

Goblin, DS6, HP 3
Skeleton, DS7, HP 5
Orc DS8, HP8
Giant, DS9, HP 10
Ogre, DS10, HP14
Dragon, DS15, HP25
Titan DS16, HP40

Example character:

Phineas Schneed
B: 2
NB: 1
HP: 13
Knacks: Sneak, Acrobatics, Thieving
Equipment: Dagger (1)

Saturday 5 October 2019

Delvecast episode 5: Romance of the Perilous Land

This episode I talk about Romance of the Perilous Land a bit more, seeing as though review copies seem to be landing on people's doorsteps.


Friday 4 October 2019

The Eye of the Beholder documentary

On Amazon Prime you can now watch Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons and Dragons, a great documentary covering the legacy of art in D&D as told by some of its greatest artists.

Definitely recommend.

Thursday 3 October 2019

We need to talk about Wendys' roleplaying game

I saw a teaser for something that fast food joint Wendy's was doing with roleplaying and today it seems the FAST FOOD COMPANY has dropped a nigh on 100 page fully illustrated roleplaying game for some reason.

Feast of Legends, a title that makes little sense, is a downloadable PDF that includes rules and a campaign that, if we're serious, nobody will play because it's garbage advertising.

It's pretty much D&D, but some of the stats are different and you roll 4d4 to generate stats because of something about $4, which I assume means something to people who eat there. Instead of classes you have Orders, where you get shit like this:

Adventurers who choose the Order of the Chicken Nuggets are often small and quick, but they pack an unexpected punch.Th ey bring great fl avor to the party and are a wonderful addi-tion to any combo of adventurers in Freshtovia.

Often overlooked at fi rst but always remembered after, those of the Order of the Chicken Nuggets are truly undeniable with their record-breaking reputation.

Aaaand this:

Tight, compact and packs a punch.The Order of the Jr.Bacon Cheeseburger is for the efficient warrior; no movement or moment is wasted.These characters appreciate the great flavor of many things coming together in one tight space.

What the actual fuck does that even mean? This isn't enjoyable - it's insanely on the nose advertising that's positively masturbatory about its own brand.

Hey, don't get me wrong - WORK went into this. There are lots of orders and the rules seem to work. Hell, I even quite like the Feast Mode mechanic that gives you advantage on a turn after a crit. But then there are mechanics like this:

As you’ve probably discerned, food is a major aspect of Feast of Legends. As such, what you’re eating in the real world will create direct buffs that affect your character in the game. Each of these buffs will go into effect for the entire 
duration of play for the day. So you might want to swing by your local Wendy’s or hit up delivery real quick.

Nope. No thanks. A mechanic designed to optimise conversion rate?

I've not run through the full adventure, it's a tonne of read aloud and full of stuff like this:

You come upon a huge stone door with three large dials on its face. The dials have the numbers 1-2-3-4 on them and face north, east, south, and west.Each dial currently has the “1” at the top.Upon further inspection, there is an inscription on the door below the dials that reads: “Thrice repeat-ing, nice for eating, a meal? A deal? A steal for certain"

Ohh, because it's that $4 thing again. That's what people want when they're playing games with their friends - to be advertised to at an astonishing rate. Every other sentence is an ad.

I'm not completely against a brand creating a roleplaying game, but understand that what people like about games is NOT your brand - it's good ideas.

Look, I admit that I'm putting on the rage a bit. I work in PR, I understand what this is. But at the same time, it's a roleplaying game that people are meant to play and I talk about roleplaying games. This is dire.

Wouldn't mind a chicken sandwich right now.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

English Eerie coming to Spain

I'm very happy to announce that English Eerie will be released in Spanish by El Refugio de Ryhope. I won't go into details at the moment, but it won't just be a translation of the English version.

English Eerie is my gold-selling solo rural horror storytelling game that allows you to create a story of terror based in the English countryside using a card-based mechanic. You can pay what you want for the download.

Tuesday 1 October 2019

A peek inside Romance of the Perilous Land

Last week Osprey delivered my advance copy of Romance of the Perilous Land and I've not stopped salivating since. It's such a lovely book, so I wanted to show some of it off.