Thursday, August 21, 2014

D&D 5E Basic Rules - Lulu Cover

Step 1: Get version 0.2 of the player rules and version 0.1 of the DM rules HERE. (printer-friendly versions)
Step 2: Remove the last page from each file (it's an advertisement) so that there is an even number of pages.
Step 3: Start your lulu 8.5x11 perfectbound project. Upload the two files for the interior of the book. You should end up with 174 pages total (114 player book and 60 DM book).
Step 4: Use the "Advanced one-piece cover designer", and upload this file for the cover.
Step 5: Order a few copies for your group, and enjoy!

Don't use this! Click the link above in Step 4.

The cover is simply a modified version of this one here. I started to make one based on the Moldvay basic book, which I still think is a cool idea, but I was struggling with it so I gave up on that for the time being. Got any other cool cover files? Link them in the comments!

(This is of course intended for personal use, not so you can resell someone else's IP. Just in case anyone missed that obvious point.)

And one final note: There will be further updates to the Basic Rules documents in the coming months if I'm not mistaken, so if you are only interested in the final-final version of the basic rules, you can ignore this for now.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

DCC RPG Reference Booklet - Revised and Expanded

Finally, after over a year of toil, I can present you with the updated version of the DCC RPG Reference Booklet. I expanded it out to include more of the useful charts, cleaned up the layout, and commissioned two of my favorite artists, Stefan Poag and Doug Kovacs to create some great art for it. I offer it to you now, free in PDF, or in print from Lulu at a small markup, in the hopes I can recover some of the cash I laid out for the art. I've ordered several rounds of proof copies to ensure that the thing is error-free, but if you find anything, please let me know. Enjoy!


One final thing worth noting... When I began work on this thing, I designed it around Lulu's 6x9 saddle-stitched offering, which at the time included thick, glossy pages and a really bright and durable cover. They've recently changed their 6x9 saddle-stitch book to use thinner, cream-colored pages and what appears to be a lower-quality printing process for the cover. By the time I discovered this, I was too far along in the process to be willing to put the time and effort into exploring other options. Although the book is not as rad as I initially planned, it is still quite serviceable, and the cost is less so at least I can offer it for a few bucks cheaper.

Okay, enough rambling. Here you go:

DCC RPG Reference Booklet - Free PDF

DCC RPG Reference Booklet - Lulu Print $6.66

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I'm not dead yet...

What's up suckas! It's been like 13+ months since I made a post, but I'm still around. I haven't played any RPGs since last December, when I passed the DM torch along in my game store group so I could take a class. But the itch has been coming back! My buddy has looked over the D&D 5E Basic PDF and is interested in running a game. That motherfucker better follow through!


I've also bought into The Chained Coffin and Peril on the Purple Planet kickstarters, and I've been itching to get a new DCC campaign going. I just have to organize all this stuff into something I could actually do:

  • I want to use the 5 sets of dwarven forge tiles I got from their first kickstarter. I can get my sister to come over and help me drybrush them. It will be a good excuse for us to hang out.
  • I also have a box full of D&D/Pathfinder plastic minis, not to mention the Reaper Vampire package I have (which I'm certain I'll never have time to paint).
  • I want to have a campaign on a weird planet (think Carcosa/Purple Planet).
  • I want to use a minimal set of materials to run the campaign.
  • I want to use a bunch of the stuff on my shelves that I've never gotten to use.
This is the problem with campaigns. I always have a bunch of things I want to do that conflict with each other. I want everything to be weird, but if I use minis, well that's all standard monsters. I want to keep things simple, but then I get the itch to use every shiny supplement that glimmers out of the corner of my eye.

Another idea I had was to just roll up some dudes and start working through some DCC modules. I have all except the very latest few. I could just grant a level upon completion of a module, and we could just hand-wave what happens between adventures. Seems like a fun and laid-back way to play.

I guess I just have to figure out what I want to do most, and start down that path. 

Anyways, I've been scrolling through my G+ stream and I'm glad to see the awesomeness is still flowing strongly out there. If there are any newer people/blogs from the past year you think I should know about, please leave a comment.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cover Files for B/X D&D

If you bought the Basic and Expert rulebooks from dndclassics.com, and want to get them printed up as a single book on lulu, you'll need to upload both PDFs, and then upload a cover file. Here's one I've made that you can use if you don't feel like making your own.

Note: This is not the file. Click the links below.
Note that these are made to fit over a 138-page interior, so you have 10 extra pages you can use to add house rules, custom indexes, or whatever. It should work fine if you use nothing but the two rulebook PDFs (128 pages), but I haven't tested that, so if it complains, just add a PDF of 10 blank pages to the end.

B/X Lulu Cover (Perfectbound)

B/X Lulu Cover (Hard Cover)

Note that you might see weird artifacts if you view it in google's preview thingy. Those don't show in adobe reader, and they also look fine printed.

Enjoy! If you make your own neat covers, I'd love to see them.


Friday, May 31, 2013

Skullfuck Mountain Wizard Magic

For Skullfuck Mountain (hereafter SFMTN), I'm using the Dying Earth Spells for D&D supplement. A magic-user's beginning spells are determined by rolling for them per the guidelines in the document:


So basically they begin play with read magic (which is the only 0-level spell in the supplement) plus three randomly determined 1st-level spells.

The magic-user has access to all spells known, but is limited in spells castable per adventure by the charts in the Holmes rulebook (and I guess for beyond level 3, I'll just use the charts for the wizard from the d20 SRD, since Men & Magic already has a discrepancy at 3rd level, and that bothers my OCD side).

Interesting that I'm using Dying Earth spells and not requiring memorization, isn't it? Do you see the irony? DO YOU!?!?!

So now the question becomes "How does the wizard advance the number of spells he knows?" Well, I figure all additional spells will be gained by learning them from scrolls or spellbooks found while adventuring. I've put together a pretty basic procedure for attempting to add a found spell to the collection of spells known. It is loosely built around Holmes' scroll creation rules, but I figure the time component will just always be one week. We generally assume one week of time passes between dungeon expeditions, so the magic-user will get one roll between each session of play. They can opt to wait additional weeks if they want, I guess, which reminds me, I need to make an events chart of stuff that happens in the dungeon and surrounding areas to make downtime matter. One event per week seems like too much, so maybe a 1 in 4 chance of an event each week, which would make things roughly monthly. Anyways, I digress. Here is the procedure for learning new spells:

Showing my true nerd colors with this flowchart
As far as limiting spells known, Holmes already has a chart for that, and if I find that too restrictive I could just use INT score as the maximum spells per level a magic-user may know.

Another thing I'm thinking about, but haven't quite figured out yet, is corruption. After playing DCC, I don't know if I could ever play without corrupting magic again. Just an idea off the top of my head that will require further thought:

X in 30 chance of corruption per casting, where X is the spell level.
Spell levels 1-2 = Minor corruption
Spell levels 3-4 = Major corruption
Spell levels 5-6 = Greater corruption

Then there's the cleric. Not sure what to do about clerics yet, but we currently don't have any, so I don't think I'll bother spending much brain bandwidth on that until we actually get one.

Skullfuck Mountain Rumors

Assuming the PCs made it back to town at the end of their previous adventure (and woe to them if they didn't!) each PC may attempt to gain a rumor concerning the dungeon at the beginning of a session by making a charisma check. The veracity of any of these claims is questionable, of course.

  1. There are hidden entrances to The Underworld scattered about the mountainside and environs.
  2. The Underworld is sentient, and despises uncertainty in those who enter. (Specifically, the phrase "I don't know.")
  3. When a corpse is abandoned in The Underworld, it can sometimes be found again, but with the skull missing. The skin of the head will be completely intact. How the skull is extracted is a mystery.
  4. Compasses are unreliable in The Underworld.
  5. Salt can be used to repel the unliving.
  6. All water found in The Underworld is either poisonous or magical.
  7. Blasphemous writings read aloud may be detrimental to your health.
  8. Burning sage will keep a cleared room free of new monsters for at least one year.
  9. Goblins' feet are the most sensitive parts of their body, much like a man's testicles.
  10. Iselda, the witch of the lake, is known to make deals with those desperate for a cure of some sort. Her price is always high, but it is never money.
  11. The League of Ordinary Gentlemen is secretly run by a mad hermit that lives in the woods on the NW side of the lake.
  12. Drunk Willy claims that he saw a periscope peeping up from the well one night last week. He swears it was a goblin, but no one believes him.
  13. Funzie Girt (of Funzie Girt's Gear Garage) is a failed blacksmith.
  14. Many denizens of The Underworld recoil from bright light.
  15. A ghoul-bear is said to haunt the swamplands on the east side of the lake, but no man has seen it and lived to tell.
  16. An ancient wyrm resides in one of the deepest parts of Skullfuck Mountain. She hasn't been sighted in over 100 years, nor will anyone utter her name for fear of waking her. Some say her lair can be reached through the volcanic crater atop the mountain.
  17. There are portals to other worlds within Skullfuck Mountain. Some say the original tunnels were built by alien beings.
  18. Those that go deep enough into Skullfuck Mountain will find themselves in Hell.
  19. Any who dare to sleep within the depths of Skullfuck Mountain will find themselves in a Dreamlands version of The Underworld, which is far more strange and horrible than the waking version.
  20. Somewhere within the eye-caves are a matched pair of gem-encrusted phallus-statues; one ruby and one emerald. Lady Sluthers (of Lady Sluthers' Home for Wayward Girls fame) is extremely covetous of these fabled items, and would give much in exchange for ownership of them.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Holmes Monsters Illustrated: Berserkers

Doug Kovacs - DCC #70
NO PRISONERS!

My personal image of berserkers will be forever be influenced by the ones +Evan Elkins killed one of my characters with in his Nightwick Abbey. I was one-shotted by one of these guys. They were wearing human skin skullcaps, and I think their "leather" armor was made of human skin as well. I learned that just because you're on level 1, charging in like a dummy is still charging in like a dummy.

Basically, berserkers are men who have been supernaturally corrupted by hanging out in the underworld way too long. They have become bloodthirsty leatherface-type guys who cannot speak or do much of anything except kill. Bright light, such as a torch or lantern held to the face, will usually stun them for a round if they can't make a save against stoning.

WHAT ARE THESE BERSERKERS YOU JUST STUMBLED ACROSS DOING? (if surprised)
  1. Eating a person
  2. Drinking blood from a skull
  3. Sewing some armor/clothes from human skin
  4. Sharpening bones into various stabbing implements
  5. Mutilating themselves
  6. Carving profane slogans into each others' backs and high-fiving each other
  7. Smoking PCP and playing Grand Theft Auto
  8. Having naked wrestling matches with a random dungeon monster from level 3.
WHAT DO THE BERSERKERS WEAR?
  1. Miscellaneous heavy metal concert t-shirts
  2. Naked, but body completely painted in blood; human skin masks
  3. Daisy Dukes, mesh trucker caps and wife beaters
  4. Jeans and jean jackets (i.e. "Canadian Tuxedo")
  5. S&M leathers
  6. GWAR gear
WHAT DO THEY WIELD?
  1. lead pipes
  2. spiked chains
  3. clubs, coated in resin and rolled in broken glass
  4. nothing. will charge and tackle opponents, headbutt, claw at eyes, bite faces, etc.
  5. iron spikes
  6. rusty glaives
WHAT HAPPENS IF THEY CRIT (19-20)?
Roll two exploding damage dice (d8s)

WHAT KINDS OF INCIDENTAL TREASURE CAN BE FOUND ON A BERSERKER?
  1. 1d12 black metal coins of questionable worth
  2. 2d20 teeth of various sorts (1 in 6 chance of a gold one)
  3. eyepatch
  4. 10' rope made of human hair
  5. lump of soul coal
  6. bits of metal suitable for body piercing (if santized)
  7. a half-rotted eyeball
  8. a pair of testacles
  9. butterfly knife
  10. spell scroll. 80% chance it has been used as toilet paper.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Holmes Monsters Illustrated: Basilisk


This thing seems pretty nondescript. None of that stuff about six legs and what have you. It's nice that we have both a bite and a gaze to utilize here, since normally what happens in my experience is that it's figured out (six legs is a big red flag), gazes are averted, and the monster is handily defeated.

Within The Underworld, there is large hall with neatly lined up statues around the circumference. Anyone making more than a cursory glance will notice that the poses are all peculiar, sort of like candid photographs, not like the stately or action-oriented poses one would normally expect. 1-3 large lumbering lizards tend to come investigate the sent of live meat, tongues flicking all about. (I interpret "rather small reptilian monster" to be in comparison to a dragon.)

When it's all said and done, any newly-minted statues will be neatly arranged near the outside walls by some unknown denizen(s) of the dungeon with a penchant for neatness and order.

Holmes Monsters Illustrated: Bandit

One of the neat things about Holmes Basic D&D is that it barely has any illustrations. We have nothing but the text to go on, so we get to exercise our imagination a bit (or perhaps our googling skills), and take some liberties.

As an exercise, I'm going to attempt to go through each Holmes monster entry, and find a picture or illustration to accompany it. I'll add some additional stream-of-consciousness notes wherever possible as well. It's really just a brainstorming exercise to help give my Skullfuck Mountain game a simplistic sort of depth, but hopefully you will find it entertaining as well.

So without further ado, I present you with our first specimen - the Bandit.


Bandits are usually encountered in smallish groups that work together to relieve passersby of any valuables they may be carrying. They are not true warriors, so they will generally only attack when they can stage an ambush and gain surprise.

These bandits you just encountered are (50% chance of each):

  • A ragtag group of 4-24 unskilled, out-of-work men who need to feed their families. They wear ill-fitting leathers and wield a variety of makeshift weapons (clubs, 2x4's, fireplace pokers, crowbars, brick-in-a-sock, segment of chain, modified pitchforks, and so forth). Their morale is generally low.
  • A smaller group of 2-12 sadists that just likes taking people's stuff for the sheer fun of it. Given the opportunity, they will seek to humiliate and possibly even torture their victims. These kind will generally be wearing studded leather armors and wielding decent-quality military weapons. The leader will usually have a whip and fine clothes from a previous victim.
In both cases, there is an 80% chance that one of the bandits will have a sixgun loaded with 3-6 bullets. This guy will attempt to stay hidden until the second round of combat, at which point he will emerge and begin firing (from behind cover if available) 2 shots per round, first at any wizards he can identify, and secondly at any fighter types.

Sixgun Mechanics
All shots are fired as if against leather armor.
The first shot fired always causes an immediate wandering monster check.
Hits on enemies 3 HD and up cause 1d6+1 damage.
For hits on enemies less than 3 HD, roll the hit location die (or just a regular d12) to determine effect.
  1. Right Arm: 1-3 damage, any held item dropped, arm disabled until magically healed or 1-6 weeks bed rest.
  2. Left Arm: 1-3 damage, any held item dropped, arm disabled until magically healed or 1-6 weeks bed rest.
  3. Right Hand: 1-2 damage, any held item dropped, hand disabled until magically healed or 1-3 weeks bed rest.
  4. Left Hand: 1-2 damage, any held item dropped, hand disabled until magically healed or 1-3 weeks bed rest.
  5. Head: Instantly killed
  6. Body: 1-4 damage. Disabled. Die in 1-20 rounds unless magically healed.
  7. Stomach: 1-4 damage. Only bare minimum of movement/actions possible. Any strenuous action taken, such as trying to attack an enemy, requires a save vs. death ray to avoid passing out from the pain. Die in 2-12 hours unless magically healed.
  8. Chest: 1-6 damage. Only bare minimum of movement/actions possible. Any strenuous action taken, such as trying to attack an enemy, requires a save vs. death ray to avoid passing out from the pain. Die in 3-18 rounds unless magically healed.
  9. Right Leg: 1-3 damage. Fall prone. 1/4 movement speed. Leg disabled until magically healed or 1-6 weeks bed rest.
  10. Left Leg: 1-3 damage. Fall prone. 1/4 movement speed. Leg disabled until magically healed or 1-6 weeks bed rest.
  11. Right Foot: 1-2 damage. Need assistance to walk. Foot disabled until magically healed or 1-3 weeks bed rest.
  12. Left Foot: 1-2 damage. Need assistance to walk. Foot disabled until magically healed or 1-3 weeks bed rest.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Welcome to Skullfuck Mountain!

In a far-off land there is a small lake. On the lake's south end, there is a small village that has a cozy inn, a few shops, and a well-regarded brothel. On the north end is a giant fucking skull-shaped mountain reputed to have monsters and treasures in it. What would you like to do?


Last Saturday my home D&D group of friends met up in my back porch to play. It had been over a month since we played, and I was hemming and hawing about whether we should continue our Gamma World game, or the DCC-based Demonland game we played last time we met. So I did what any good ADD-afflicted DM would do - I started a brand new game!

I've been drawing some modular maps in the style of Stonehell Dungeon, or the One-Page Dungeon if you prefer. The only difference is that I did mine 20x20 instead of 30x30, just as a matter of personal preference. I'd also been daydreaming about a Castle Greyskull/Gamma World-based megadungeon for a while, and the kicker was when I stumbled upon this old thread about the UK version of Holmes Basic. I found the artwork to be very inspiring, and it prompted me to break out my Holmes book and give it another gander. So I cobbled all these ideas together, keyed a few of the maps I made, and grabbed a few unused or lightly-used things from my regular Outland campaign that's been going strong for a while now. I linked everything together so I had levels for the eyes, nose, and mouth, and some extra stuff in case something crazy happened. The end result was maybe 10 sheets of notes and maps, roll up some ultra-shitty Holmes PCs, and off to adventure!

Phony alternate universe cover I made with FF art by Fangorn
It turned out to be quite a fun adventure. The dwarf fighter rolled 1 hp, so right away the thief kept trying to gank him and lost two characters trying. That fighter ended up being one of two survivors, and was able to make 2nd level after carousing. He then proceeded to roll an 8 for his next hit die. Pretty sweet if you ask me. That is the stuff of legend. There was judicious use of the mule for cover, and the super-deadly 2d8 Holmes firebombs. I typed up the house rules we used on the Smith Corona XE 6000 my mom dug up and gave to me after the game, and that was a fun exercise in itself. I really dig the finality of it all when using a typewriter (my correction ribbon is expired). The typewriter itself probably post-dates Holmes by 8 years or so, but who cares. Old and crappy is old and crappy, right? Anyways, I think this things has legs, so we'll be playing this again next time.*


PDF of the typewritten house rules, for those that might be interested.

P.S. - I finally got an excuse to use the magnificent Dying Earth Spells for D&D, so that's a big plus as well!

P.P.S. - This is totally ConstantCon/FLAILSNAILS-able, and I think these guys could use some competition.

* Unless I get struck by another bout of ADD

Monday, May 6, 2013

Alternative Combat System for D&D

If you're playing B/X or something similar, but perhaps you're a bit of a "roll player" (like me!), here's a quick little bolt-on system to bring some extra action into your combats. It is built on the basic principles of the DCC Mighty Deeds™ combat stunt system.


Step 1: Bump the thief up to a d6 hit die. Let's face it, he could use the boost.

Step 2: Use this for attack rolls:

1d16 + HD, i.e.

Fighter/Dwarf: 1d16+1d8
Cleric/Thief/Elf/Hobbit: 1d16+1d6
Magic-User: 1d16+1d4

For stunts, you have to declare them before rolling, get a 4+ on the hit die and a high enough total roll to score a hit. If you do not meet both conditions it's a miss. If you do meet both conditions, you can choose between scoring double damage (called shot), or scoring normal damage plus applying an effect, such as disarming, knocking down, pushing back, etc.

There's no advancement built in, so if you want the PCs to improve, you'll have to figure that out yourself. I figure a magic sword or whatever would allow you to replace the d16 with a d20 (more or less equivalent to a +2). I figure this is enough of an improvement over the regular system that we can just ditch the improvement over time. If you want to see the mathematical effect, check this graph.

For crits, you can do whatever, but I'd probably just do natural 16's for the sake of simplicity and giving a very minor bump to crit chances. Maybe even have fighters crit on 15-16 so they can be real murder machines.

If for some weird reason you don't already have several sets of zocchi dice, d16s can be bought individually.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Let's not talk about race

A few weeks back, I ran Austin Jimm's Contemptible Cube of Quazar, and I used these OD&D character generation rules, giving each player 10,000 XP to make as many or as few characters as they'd like, dividing the XP as desired. It ended in a glorious TPK, but that's not really the point of this post.

If you look carefully, you'll notice that race isn't referenced anywhere in the character generation document. I just didn't have room, and I figured we could handle it at the table. But an interesting thing happened that I hadn't anticipated. No one brought it up (with the exception of one player who said, "I want to be a black guy.") Now, this is a group that has a strong love for wacky character races, and I always get flummoxed by the race thing. I like to offer a wide variety of options, but I really don't like trying to sit down and codify special abilities for 30 different races, and that comes from the experience of having done it.

Another thing was this character I made and played at GaryCon. Since it was based off of Necron 99 from the wonderful film Wizards, I had no idea what race it was, and it didn't really matter.

So all of this has led me to believe that perhaps the question isn't race-as-race vs. race-as-class. Maybe it just doesn't matter. Maybe we can just toss race out the window entirely, at least as a mechanical game thing. Sure, you can be a kobold if you want, but it's more about how you look than how you function in the game. I think maybe next time I play a game with my home group where we make new characters, I'll just ask everyone to describe the appearance of their character, or even better - bring a picture! My hope would be that we would get some interesting things that are outside the scope of the traditional D&D stuff, like Necron up there, or something like the group on the title page of the Cook/Marsh Expert rule book, or perhaps something like this guy: