Development Journal Update: Addendum – Answers and Clarifications

Greetings, this is a bonus follow up post to answer some questions that my last missive brought up. This is a prime example why I share my progress here and on Twitter, to get constructive feedback. Now I’ll jump right into answering the questions Kerc of Dice, Pencil Paper has for me, then answer any other questions that may come up.

  • Difficulty task modifiers are only +/- 9% variance, is it out of the question to make those higher/lower?

Since all Difficulty Tasks are rolled with 2d6, adding more/less than +/-1 to 2 will be too high or low. That said, if a referee wants to do so I care less, once bought it is your game to run as you please.

Also, should be noted routine tasks require NO roll. Players should role play and come up with tactics and solutions to mitigate the need to roll or lessen the difficulty of a given task.

Since non-combat tasks are roll under Attribute – which ranges from 2 to 12, a +/-1 to 2 can mean the success or failure chance is already going to be greater. If a Character has 2 Int and the task is Hard (+2) it is impossible – thus no roll for hard tasks (as well as moderate tasks).

Note: I am getting rid of the simple difficulty penalty/bonus modifier. The more I thought about it, it was unnecessary especially with Routine tasks requiring no roll.

  • Is Combat Prowess a negative modifier to the attack roll, or a target number?

An, character or their opponent’s Combat Prowess ability is a target number to be hit. Modified by both Wounds and Fatigue; plus, as you suggested (damn tired brain) a shield mitigates the chance for a hit to be struck.

  • Fatigue Pool: How do you determine the different Fatigue Levels?

A simple equation based upon your Fatigue Pool level. As with the Attribute Tests above, I am getting rid of the +/-3 modifier.

You divide your Fatigue Pool Max by three, round down. The Lesser Fatigue Level is the largest number of points in your pool, it doesn’t add a penalty to rolls.

The middle amount in the Max Fatigue Pool equates the Moderate Fatigue Level and adds an -/+1 modifier to the respective rolls.

The Lowest numbers of the Fatigue Pool Max equal the Severe Fatigue Level, and +/-2 from the given task roll.

Example: IF you have a Vigour of 11, your Fatigue Pool Max will be 11; so, the point spread will be as follows: 1-4 = Severe Fatigue Level, 5-8 = Moderate Fatigue Level, and 9-11 = Lesser or Light Fatigue, and apply no modifier. The lower your Vigour, the lower your Fatigue threshold will be, thus a Vigour of 2, means Severe Fatigue sets in at 1 in your meager Fatigue Pool, and a 2 = Moderate Fatigue, there IS no Lesser Fatigue for a character with a Vigour of 2. Fatigue DOESN’T go up with level, only one’s Wound Capacity does.

  • Do Weapons affect the chance to hit, or just do damage?

Here is how it works. I am using aspects of Chainmail to inform my combat system…minus the unnecessary fiddly bits.

  1. Polearms, Spears & Lances strike first in melee no matter who wins initiative.
  2. If a weapon is short or lighter/quicker to use, they depending on opponent’s weaponry grant multiple attacks…IF they can get within reach.
  3. A shield or secondary weapon can be used to parry attacks the defender IS aware of AND striking at the side or front of the defender. A shield or off-handed cannot parry IF the defender is unaware OR the strike comes from the back or other side. A parry IS possible from the main weapon arm IF the defender can afford to sacrifice an attack.
  4. Weapon size doesn’t affect Damage UNLESS wielded by Large, Huge or Gigantic opponents. These are special cases. Attacking Dragons, Trolls, Ogres and Giants are to be avoided IF possible…they are HARD to injure and ARE EXTREMELY deadly if they hit you. I am taking a Chainmail rules concerning “Hero” and “Superhero” equivalents with concerns for Dragons when flying.
  • Suggestion: Shields should probably decrease the chance of being hit.

You were correct. Sleepy brain not think right, error made. Thank you for the catch. I’ll edit the original post to correct the error.

  • Missiles: The attacker rolls to hit, or it’s just the target to save?

The Target rolls to save. IF the attacker has a High Dex, the a +1 is added to the defender’s save roll IF they notice coming; showing their high ability. Short Range adds a +3 to the Dexterity Test Save, a Medium Range adds a +2; while a long range adds a +1 IF wearing non-plate Armour.

Plate wearing targets w/o shield IF aware make an unmodified roll; whereas a plate wearing target w/ a shield IF aware do not have to roll, they use their shield to bat away the arrow or protect themselves with it. At extreme range no mods are made for targets in non-plate armour; whereas targets in plate with or without shields are without need to roll EVEN if unaware.

That doesn’t even account for cover…. but you’ll have to read the rules for that.

I need to eat, since no more questions were asked, I’ll end this post and publish it and go eat. Please take care, and be kind to each other. Fin.

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Development Journal for Adventures Grim & Perilous and the Xothun Setting

Greetings, in this post I’ll be giving you a development journal progress update – I have been getting plenty of wonderful and supportive feedback so far, which makes me stay motivated to continue developing this TTRPG and its setting supplements. What I’ll be discussing in particular is some of the design choices that I have made, as well as my plotted development direction for my Xothun setting expansion.

First, I’ll will be discussing Adventures Grim and Perilous Adventure Game, most know this already but there are a few new folks showing interest, so I figured that I should mention it again briefly. Adventures Grim and Perilous is an emulation of tropes found in OD&D, B/X D&D and 1e AD&D – dungeon delving and exploration. That said, instead of traditional Classes as presented in D&D (in all the various editions) I instead use thematic archetypes in the vein of Talislanta; which is a huge inspiration for me.

Though, there are six attributes in AG&P; they are different and most tests outside combat are rolled against them. The attributes are rolled 2d6, as such the numerical value doesn’t equate raw ability – a character with 2 Int isn’t stupid, they are simply are less knowledgeable about a broad number of things that a character with a 12 Int will be. Attribute tests are roll under so a natural 12 is only a success for a character with 12 in a given attribute being tested. Modifiers are rare and only grant either a +/-1 applied to a roll. So, a hard difficulty test increases the chance of failure with a +1, whereas a simple (NOT routine) tasks grants a -1 to a given roll thus increasing the odds of success.

Things are different with combat rolls are against an opponents Combat Prowess for melee, a successful “hit” minus 1 from one’s Fatigue Pool – once one’s fatigue pool is reduced to zero, a Vigour test is made with a bonus acquired by the Fatigue Penalty +1 to +3. Minor Fatigue = +1 Penalty to one’s Vigour Test; Moderate Fatigue = a +2 and a Severe Fatigue = a +3. On a failed Vigour Test, a character or NPC is winded, battered and sore. If hit again they take a Wound.

Wound Threshold begins at 1 at 1st Level and increases by 1 every level to a Maximum of 12. Weapons deal Wounds depending on Type, and Armour mitigates Wound Severity. Shields further mitigate Wound Severity IF the character or NPC IS aware of the attack. Conditions apply. IF a wound is scored (passing armour and other protections) the Referee rolls on the corresponding Wound Chart and applies the results to the Wounded Character or NPC. 

Missile attacks are simply a save against Agility. Roll an Agility Test, with the same Fatigue Penalties. IF unengaged in melee a character gets a Perception Test to notice incoming arrow or volley of arrows. If successful one rolls an Agility Test to dodge the arrow. If One has a shield as well, they add a -1 bonus for a Buckler, a -2 bonus for a Round shield or a -3 bonus if using a tower or long “tear” shaped shield. IF in melee on a d6 roll of 1-2 the opponent in the foreground if the target character is surrounded by 4 opponents, a roll of 3 the opponent to the left is hit, while a roll of 4 hits the character, a 5 hits the opponent in the rear and a 6 the opponent to the right. If only the character and opponent is in melee the character is hit on odds, while the opponent is hit on evens. Exceptions to the above count when fighting Large, Huge or Gigantic opponents.

Same rules apply for a missile hit that apply to melee hits.

Things are different for Non-Humanoid combat. As the above rules only apply to Humanoid-vs-Humanoid combat. Depending upon non-humanoid opponent the characters come into conflict with, the chances to being hit are far different and as are the ramifications IF hit by a non-humanoid opponent, especially if they are Large, Huge or Gigantic Category opponents and the kinds of attack and weaponry used. Adventures Grim and Perilous is named so for a VERY good reason – try to avoid combat ESPECIALLY with larger and more powerful opponents. But you’ll have to read the rules to discover that.

Now onto the progress update on Xothun.

Xothun as a setting is meant to emulate the Gonzoness of the implied default setting of OD&D – though not in a direct manner. For one, another company owns the TTRPG license for Edgar Rice Burrows’ John Carter/Barsoom IP; so, the Barsoonian creatures/races wouldn’t be able to be used when published. Also, any “Islamic” inspired aspects of the implied default setting are also excised from my emulation of the setting for obvious reasons – the setting isn’t OUR Earth.

Which leads to the mapping project I plan on taking up as soon as I get my new art tool and bring my projector from storage and/or I get my digital drawing skills developed enough to so digitally. This project is to utilise old maps of North America to create the map of the setting much like Gary Gygax did with his home campaign, though he used modern maps to my best knowledge. I will use the outline as the basis of the continental map and the Great Lakes Region as the core campaign region…the same as Gary did.

Beyond the mapping project, I wanted cover some of the design decisions and plans for it. First, I wanted to give my reasons for trying to emulate the spirit of the implied setting of OD&D in the first place. In order for one to understand the reasoning they have to read Wayne Rossi’s wonderful (& free) PDF discussing it (Link here). This PDF is inspiring, if I had to quibble about it, I would say the focus on the Outdoor Survival Game map was unnecessary, but I understand the reasoning behind the choice.

Secondly, I wanted to honour both Gary and Dave Arneson without whom we would have the hobby that we have today. I also wanted to celebrate the Gonzo nature OD&D and its implied setting hinted of as you read the pamphlets and sample wandering monster charts and other aspects of the game.

One of the disappointing aspects of Greyhawk as a published setting, it downplayed the gonzoness of D&D and 1e AD&D. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the Folio edition of Greyhawk – in fact I’ll be blogging about my revisions soon on a separate blog. But Greyhawk as written and published by both TSR and WotC feels too much as a generic Medieval Europe based fantasy setting with a few tweaks. You read the location descriptions like Caliphate of Ekbir and the real-world titles and Medieval European clip art just reinforces it.

As such it lost a sense of gonzoness and frankly it is too “full” of realms, whereas the default implied setting evoked memories of Land of the Lost, Ralph Bakshi’s Wizard, Flash Gordon and the art of Frank Frazetta and Mike Ploog. Even the original Forgotten Realms box set implied a far more gonzo setting than any edition of Greyhawk, barring some flirtations in the various adventure modules that is.

Now I will speak about the core aspects of Xothun, to give you dear reader an understanding on what I included that speaks of “Gonzo-ness” in context to the setting. I need to put up or shut up, right?

  • Xothun is a World of Portals – Not just to different locals within it, but also to other worlds and planes of existence. An enterprising referee using just the Adventures Grim and Perilous Adventure Game and Xothun core supplement and map can incorporate whatever they so desire to make Xothun their own. Want to add Warforged (or even…groan – Dragonborn)? Craft a thematic archetype for one and introduce them. Want to add Lankhmar to Xothun, do so…it is YOUR setting now. Once you buy it, I have NO say how you use it.
  • Xothun has sky islands and other mysterious floating objects of wonder – This is something most of my settings include. I love the idea and it feels “Gonzo” to me, in fact it was the only thing I liked about the 4e Forgotten Realms abomination – Earth Motes rule!
  • Xothun has Magic Powered Technology and Sciences – What kind of Gonzo Science-Fantasy setting doesn’t? None I say. Fantasy puritans can go kick rocks.
  • Xothun has BOTH Magic AND Psionics – Again, Fantasy purists can go kick rocks for all I care. What is Psionics? Magic. Magic is NOT just invocations, incantations and magical items, it is ALL supernatural abilities – just applied in another fashion. The “Space Wizards” of Star Wars are by definition psions – they do not utilise incantations to do “hold person” or “Force Lightening”. They utilise their mind and training to do “magic”. If you think “eewww no psionics in MY fantasy”, then Xothun is NOT the setting expansion for you.
  • Xothun has no Elves, Dwarves or Halflings – Xothun does have races that emulate aspects of each race as presented in OD&D, and yet they are not fully identical. You have Trogs, Ratlings and Cambions (Screw you I love Tieflings). That being said, once you own Xothun you can add Elves, Dwarves, Goblins ect to YOUR version of Xothun. I may even add them myself at one point…Xothun IS a world of portals, right? Anything is possible.

Enough extolling the Gonzo creds for Xothun, I earned the right to use the “Gonzo” descriptor. Now before I end this missive, I wanted to mention that Xothun is replacing Granand Wald as the default setting for Adventures Grim and Perilous Adventure Game. Does that mean that I am doing away with the Granand Wald setting? NO. I am just refocusing in default setting, to give me time to properly develop Granand Wald the way it deserves to be…not rushed. That does mean I’ll need to do some minor rewrites on the AG&P document to mirror that change.

Well I have things to do (and another personal blog post to compose) so I better end this and get it published before I leave. As always, please take care and be kind to each other. Fin.

Yet another TTRPG Project (Why do I do this to myself?)

Greetings, and as the title alludes to, yes “Yet another TTRPG Project”. Initially I had planned this project to be simply another setting supplement for Adventures Grim and Perilous; that idea was quickly as this project doesn’t fit the OD&D/Chainmail style of play that AG&P is rooted in. So, what is this mystery project and how is it different than AG&P you may as? I don’t have a proper name for it, so I will be referring to it as “Orwereald” for the time being.

What makes “Orwereald” different than Adventures Grim and Perilous? Though there are similarities between them both – such as an exploration focus and a deadly combat system. “Orwereald” is not focused on treasure hunters and acquisition of temporal power as AG&P, it is focused on exploring ones spiritual and magical power.

Whereas AG&P is a game for multiple players and a referee, “Orwereald” is a dual based game – one focused on the endeavours of a single character via one player and a referee. That being said, there are two modes in which multiple players are used – a Ordeal mode, where players compete to level up. The other is in which the “core player” goes exploring and is joined with henchmen played by other players. This mode the core player of a given “journey” plays henchmen for another player’s “core character”. This gives each player opportunities to play solo with a referee and two ways to play as a group.

It also gives the “Orwereald” referee opportunities to run games with one player and groups, with their own dynamic. It allows the referee to develop a variety adventure types depending upon the player or players participating during a given session.

So how will “Orwereald” be a game focused on spiritual and magical power?

As a novice Wicca(e), Vitki, Völva, Seaðarmann/kona or Galdarmann/kona – you will be thrust into a supernatural world beyond the safety of the village. Interacting with spirits of nature and even deities – discovering one’s path. Not only must one survive and grow one’s magical and spiritual power, they also must navigate a culture that is suspicious of those who truck with spirits and utilise magic, especially if male.

A referee must make the world both strange and yet real – populated mundane allies and threats as well as supernatural ones of the wilds beyond the village enclosure. “Orwereald” will give the enterprising referee plenty of tools with which to assist them in doing so. Some will be as follows:

  • Numerous thematic random tables.
  • Flavourful and thematic descriptions of the supernatural and divine beings and places that populate the setting.
  • Examples of how to create one’s one and thematic tables for supernatural beings and locals.
  • Rules for omens and divination.
  • Rules for trances and dream-walking.
  • Gritty combat and how wounds impact play.

Though there will be some similarities with AG&P combat, the differences outweigh those similarities. Advancement is rooted in one’s spiritual and magical development and the challenges one’s mentor imposes upon their apprentices. Accumulating treasure doesn’t play into the equation, magical prowess and one’s spiritual development is the primary mode of advancement.

Another major difference between “Orwereald” and Adventures Grim and Perilous is the mahical systems; whereas AG&P’s magic system is a tweaked version of the tradition “D&D” style “Vancian” Magic System – the “Orwereald” magic system isn’t one of Lightening Bolts and Fire Balls. It is rooted in divination, enchantment, charms and more insidious types of magic curses.

Well, I’ll end this post so I can get it published and shared, before I eat some pizza. Please take care and be kind to each other. Fin.  

Yet Another Project? Yes.

Greetings, as the title teases – “Yet Another Project? Yes”. If you follow me on Twitter last night (Jan. 9th 2021) I posted a few images that were VERY vague with the title “What ever is Ezra up to?”. At the time I was mucking about and brainstorming, yet at the same time a seed of an idea was forming. What initially began as a proper Sci-Fi expansion for my TTRPG – Adventures Grim & Perilous was slowly morphing into something quite different. A potential skirmish-based game with RPG elements. This project might sputter and die as others have, or reach fruition and be published.

Do we need yet ANOTHER Sci-Fi skirmish-based war-game? No. Does this stop new games being developed and released? No. Will mine succeed where others failed? Who knows? As with my TTRPG project this is a labour of love, not an attempt to make money or attempt to unseat Games Workshop as King of War-Gaming.

I am creating the game I want to play and hopefully play a few close geeky creative bohemian friends of mine. If others buy it and play, great…that is a wonderful bonus. 3D printing is such a boon.

Even though it is not technically an expansion of my TTRPG, it is a spinoff of one of its supplemental settings – ORD CHANOTH. ORD CHANOTH was designed with the POSSIBILITY for Skirmish level war-gaming in mind. You’ll play as either rival military factions of the Gaian Imperioum or Alien Survivor factions – think WH 40k Imperial Guard, especially if you’ve read Dan Abnett’s wonderful Gaunt’s Ghosts series of novels. Though part of the same Imperium, they often conflicted over petty one-upmanship or other nefarious reasons.

As I was composing the initial documents, I had tried to create military designations based on their specialties but it became redundant. I’ll be devising thematic meanings for the faction acronyms tying them into the ORD CHANOTH setting.

Also, I’ll be using my, soon to be acquired digital art skills – both in illustration, logo graphic design and 3D sculpting to experiment and hone those said skills developing the setting in a thematic manner. Whereas I’ll commission established artists for my other supplements I want to do the bulk of the work myself.  

I learn best if I have a personal goal tied to skill acquisition, it helps keep me motivated to learn and practice – so the skills stick. I have been inspired by Hankerin Ferinale of Runehammer Games and Diogo Nogueira of Old Skull Publishing in both their game design efforts and illustration output.

Whereas in ORD CHANOTH you simply play as group of survivors of various Imperial factions united in an attempt to survive and either get off planet or create a lasting community – this project on intact or largely intact squads from the various Imperial rival factions or Alien squads or native alien creatures or other hazards.

IF this project reaches completion and there is interest in it, I may develop a fantasy version rooted in one of my setting supplements and possibly another post-apocalyptic sci-fi setting and spinoff skirmish game.

Another aspect of this game that you may or may not have noticed – the choice in Imperial Faction names.

  • W.O.T.A.N. Jäger Korps – German
  • P.E.R.U.N. Spetnaz Korps – Russian/Slavic
  • M.A.R.S. Arditi Korps – Italian
  • H.A.C.H.I.M.A.N. Tokushusakusengun – Japanese
  • O.G.M.A. S.A.S. Korps – British

They are inspired by major factions during and after WWII (Yes, I’ll be including an American based Faction). This is rooted in my gaming inspiration – be it Mutant Chronicles, Heavy Gear, Konflikt 1947, Dust ’47 and the like. Another thing you may or may not have noticed is the deity base for the faction name. It just felt right to derive faction names from deities with a warlike aspect to them to represent them in the thematic flavour I was going for.

That said, not all factions will follow that naming pattern – especially the American, the escaped prisoner faction (they will be special) and of course the various Alien Imperial Factions.

Some folks may balk at the above because of their sensitivities, but for fans of my (work meagre as it is so far) and fans of the games that inspire it – I have no worries. I create for my own enjoyment and for those gamers that are openminded concerning such things.

Before I end this post and publish it, I wanted to introduce the running title of the project – ORD CHANOTH – STRIKE FORCE.

Well, I’ll end this as I need to eat and run errands. Please take care and be kind to each other. Fin.  

Update – Design Process & Philosophy

Greetings, in this update I want to focus on my design philosophy and process since my good friend Haven asked about it on Twitter today. As some of you know I have struggled with mental health issues my whole life. Things came to ahead in late 2019 after my mom passed away from ALS. Things spiralled going into 2020, with a health issue caused by a large build up of gallstones in my gallbladder. After it was removed, I returned to the hospital for a post operation complication and ended up homeless soon after. After I spent a few days with a dear friend I ended up in inpatient for self-harming and suicidal ideation.

Once I was released, I went into IOP (Intensive OutPatient) – which helped teach me the skills that I woefully needed to better cope with my depression, anxiety and yet to be diagnosed ADHD and PTSD (plus ongoing struggles with Gender Dysphoria). Those same skills helped me not only to better cope and manage my life better, but also apply those same skills towards my creative process as well.

Like all things in my life moving forward my creative output is managed by setting manageable goals and managing my expectations. I cannot just snap my fingers and acquire the skills immediately (that would be nice if one could, right?) and complete a project. Everything is a process – from living one’s life in general, to reaching one’s goals and finding a level of joy and inner peace.

The act of creation – be it drawing, writing, cooking or doing some craft…these things bring me joy and peace of mind and spirit. I also learned, that I needed to stop worrying about things that I cannot change and instead focus on those things that I can change.

I decided that I wanted to create my own TTRPG system and potentially market it IF there was interest in it. How was I going to achieve this goal?

  • I first decided what kind of TTRPG I wanted.
  • What I needed to do to make it.
  • Set manageable expectations for the project and a manageable timeline to complete it.
  • Once that was established, I needed find a way to keep myself motivated and on tract – thus sharing my progress on Twitter and here on this blog.
  • I decided that I must let my creative muse (I believe Wóðanaz inspires me) lead me to what I need to work on when I need to. So, no putting undo pressure upon myself to create in a linear way. Work on what piques my interest and then go back to other bits when so inspired.
  • Spend at least one hour if not more a day or night working on some aspect of the project. Be it writing, research on an aspect of a setting or musing about a mechanic or bit of setting that is stumping me at the time.

I think for me at least, sharing my progress has been a boon. I get wonderful feedback and often questions concerning mechanics that need to be either reworded or inspired a complete rewrite because just because they sounded fine in my head – maybe not so much for others.

Ultimately this is a passion project for me and as such that takes off A LOT of undo pressure. I don’t have to worry about project leads and editors breathing down my neck or unmanageable deadlines that I may not be mentally able to meet.

Beyond the above I did want to discuss some of my design philosophy – as those folks who follow my progress on Twitter know by now – I do things differently. I am a thematic writer. I need to paint a picture in words. It helps me tap into my creativity and frankly I wish more game designers took a more thematic approach to their design. Tis probably the reason I love Mörk Borg, it is thematic. A lot of folks say it is more style over substance – that maybe so; but I like it.

That said, I want people to get more from my game and settings than Mörk Borg offers. Plus, even though I love Mörk Borg I am not interested in emulating it. It is what it is and Adventures Grim & Perilous is what it is – a thematic emulation of ’74-80 D&D tweaked to my liking. It isn’t a retro-clone of any specific edition – though it began as such.

I had initially envisioned Adventures Grim & Perilous to hew closer to being a straight Chainmail Hack with bits from OD&D and 1e AD&D. That said, it morphed into its own beast, that simply happens to emulate Classic D&D style play instead of cloning it mechanically. Sure, there are strong similarities – how could there not be? I’ve been consuming OSR inspired content since 2008 – that is OVER a decade.

Though it was from early 2018 that I truly dove into the OSR pool head first and frankly never left. Sure, I made abortive protestations for a while but it didn’t last, clearly.

I do like where Adventures Grim & Perilous is going development wise.

Early on I decided that I wanted to:

  1. Self-Publish
  2. Initially publish in Zine/Pamphlet form as a series.
  3. Hand craft the game in both Zine and DIY Hardcover formats.
  4. Create a highly customisable system, with brief advice on HOW to do so and advocate for DIY creativity. Keep what you want, toss what you don’t. Add options that don’t needlessly complicate the game but create an add on feature that fits a campaign style of one’s choice.

Also, early on I decided that I would commission art for this project and my business identity; as well as hire an editor to go through it. I also decided that I will learn digital art and the skills necessary to self-publish. I am going to get an iPad Pro, Procreate and Affinity suite of programs to assist in this goal.

Art is important to me – as such my game will feature thematic illustrations throughout in black and white in Zine format, with potential full colour pieces for the deluxe hard cover collected tomes. My dream is to commission Max FitzGerald to do thematic frames for pages and spot illustrations for archetypes and creatures in the bestiary. I would also love to commission Adam Archer and Felix Miall for similar art for various supplements IF I can afford to.

As I am a big fan of GW’s Warhammer Fantasy and 40K settings, and the fact that the illustrations in many of their Army Books/Codices is awe inspiring and ever so thematic to me. Though OD&D, B/X and 1e AD&D inspire me mechanically (along with bits from Talislanta & Rolemaster) – art-wise GW’s products inspire my design choices in terms of art and layout.

Another difference is I am not beholden to Tolkien-esque or “traditional” D&D tropes when it comes to how I portray races. Though I do like the Hobbit and LotR trilogy, I am not a fan of Hobbits, Tolkien Elves, Orcs and Goblins. In the past I forced myself to include them to one degree or another because I thought I had to. That being said, for the community edition I am considering about incorporating generic D&D classes and races AS archetypes for public version. I am not sold on that idea yet, as part of me feels it is a disgusting copout.

Each setting will have race and class-based archetypes written specifically for use with a given setting in mind, though they can be easily plugged into other settings by simply reskinning the fluff. Again, customisation is a must.

My friend Haven has commented upon some of my choices – like drawing from religion (Lucifer, Nod, Sodom, Gamorrah) are brave – I frankly don’t care if I offend the religiously inclined. As I said above – this is a passion project and I won’t be censored b anyone. Buy it or don’t. Embrace it or spurn it? I don’t care. If a few people I like and respect choose to do so, I am good.

I draw from a wide variety of influences – be it music, art, games, comics, film and language and ancient cultures from around the world. As a creative I am an inspiration sponge – I absorb what I like from everything that I come in contact with, including nature. If you are a fellow creative, please do NOT close yourself off from ALL forms of potential inspiration. Internalise them all and allow your imagination to percolate and take bits from everything and fuse them together as part of your creative output.

Well, I need to publish this so I can go run errands and eat something. Please take care and as always be kind to each other. Fin.

Update: More Future Plans

Greetings, going into the new year I have a lot on my plate – be it getting work as a caregiver, starting Peer Support Specialist training and developing my TTRPG. I have a few other potential projects that I’ll be working on. One will depend upon how I take to learning digital drawing and painting – in order to either create my own comic or become a freelance digital illustrator/painter. Secondly, I am seriously considering developing another TTRPG.

The comic/illustrator/painter goal/project will depend on my ability to master Procreate and Affinity Designer and develop the necessary drawing and painting skills with them in order to realise those goals. The most likely goal that I’ll likely accomplish this year is complete my current TTRPG and work on another TTRPG alongside it.

The rub with developing another TTRPG – is what kind to design.

I do not create for others; I create for myself – IF others desire to play my games and support my passion projects that is a wonderful bonus. So, I have to decide what kind of TTRPG I would want to play or run. My current TTRPG is rooted in OD&D tropes – exploration and dungeon delving; so, I do not want to create YET another TTRPG to duplicate what my current TTRPG is designed for. As such, I do have a few basic ideas for potential TTRPGs percolating in my skull goo…they are:

  • A two-to-three-person investigation based TTRPG. The Referee creates a number of potential things to be investigated, giving the villain in each a personality, a reason for their crimes and a series of clues ranging from obscure ones that potentially leads to other more actionable clues. As the characters close in on the villain the Referee must run them as is, they are real people and have them react based upon their personality quirks. Dice rolls are rare UNLESS necessary for the situation (combat, awareness of threats and the like).  

  • A potential variant of the above TTRPG set in a futuristic setting but dealing with supernatural and potentially alien threats – think the Expanse and/or the Killjoys mixed with Beyond the Supernatural and potentially bits of Alien and Predator. There will be little if no Space-Combat ala Star Trek, Star Wars or Battleship Galactica. Whereas the above project is a primarily two-to-three person TTRPG, this variant is more for a Referee and multiple players, though can be played with just two or three.

For my comic ideas, I have three percolating in my skull goo…they are:

  • A slice-of-life comic with some erotic content – it is rooted in a small rural college town inspired by Sophie Campbell’s Wet Moon, and yet focused on a hyper-feminine androgyne and their small circle of friends. Though it is ultimately a slice-of-life tale, I want to incorporate some supernatural elements. Nothing to flashy or overt, as you may find in some Urban and Paranormal Fantasy fiction – like magic-using assassins, vampires and werewolves.

  • A Post-Apocalyptic Science-Fantasy series based in my Ord Chanoth TTRPG setting. This will focus primarily upon a group of newly crashed survivors forced to work together upon a highly dangerous frontier planet. This is still a very loose idea as I still need to develop Ord Chanoth more before I can decide who the cast of characters are. One thing that I am contemplating is potentially having this comic run in a zine supplement aimed at Ord Chanoth.

  • Lastly, I am seriously considering a gonzo hyper stylised comic inspired by Street Fighter and/or Darkstalkers. I grew up loving those Fighting Games, and though I have enjoyed their comics/manga – I wanted one that fit my own imagined Fighting Game. This one, is the one I’d likely have to raise money to hire an artist with my preferred style. Of the three ideas, this is the most unlikely to be realised as I am VERY particular on what art style I want and like my first idea above I’ll want some erotic content in it.

Well, I’ll end this post so that I can get it published and shared. Plus, I want to work on a post for my personal blog prior to dinner. Please take care and be kind to each other. Fin.

TTRPG Update II and another News

Greetings, in this instalment I wanted to discuss my TTRPG project and cover a few other bits of news I wanted to share. First off, I have decided to get an iPad Pro with Procreate, Affinity Designer and Photo; and once it is released in 2021 Affinity Publisher for iPad . As such I have a while before I can even consider publishing my TTRPG; this I have plenty of time to fully develop it and play test things to see what works and what doesn’t.

As I said previously, I plan to initially publish my TTRPG in a Zine/Pamphlet form. I also plan to have every thing completed and edited professionally before I consider potentially crowdfund it to recoup my initial investment and pay for shipping, printing (materials & ink) and the associated stretch goals of merch and such. If the support is great enough, I might add a basic box set (full collection of Zines, dice, sheets and landscape referee’s screen) and if again there is demand and support for it, I plan to do a multi-volume Deluxe Hard Cover collection with slip case and potential Deluxe Hard Cover Box Set.

Before I even get to that stage, I’ll likely start a Patreon to fund the editing and illustration work, by offering Patrons the right to play test the rules and get special perks depending upon Patron Level. The top tier will get a personal playtest run by me and the opportunity to run me in their play test; that way I can get the perspective as a player first hand. All Patrons whatever their level will get their name listed in each Zine and any combined HC volume published, while play testers will get their names listed as Champions.

I will be including various tools into the rules – such as my own version of Aaron the Pedantic’s grand idea of using Tarot as a generational tool. I may even design my own Deck and construct them or have them made locally. I am also considering utilising Tarot, Runes and Lots for in game mini-games for building potential events in the campaign as an optional rule for referee’s that want a more narrative tone to their campaigns.

Another thing I want to do is create genre expansions much like how Necrotic Gnome did with their Old School Essentials RPG. These genre books like the core rules will be first published as Zines/Pamphlets. I also do not want to layer on complexity to the rules but simply add more options for play in the same way Necrotic Gnome did as well; that way enterprising referees and their groups can customise the rules to fit the type of campaign that they desire.

I have already mentioned one idea in a previous post for potential expansion for my TTRPG;yet I have another one planned for a Post-Apocalyptic Science-Fantasy genre book and default setting; and another expansion will be a Sci-Fi based genre rules and companion default setting. I am not sure what other potential genre books I’ll develop for the TTRPG, but there will at least be three to four.

I might also eventually publish a zine series based on some of the settings that I’ve posted on my blog previously if I can muster the motivation and there is support for them, that is.

Beyond the TTRPG news, I want to potentially publish fan zines for skirmish war-games that I like and even potentially try my own hand at developing my own Skirmish based war games linked to my TTRPG and the core settings if there is a desire. Time will tell if this idea will bear fruit nor not.

Lastly, after having a discussion with my friend Sixth Scale Combat (Please checkout his Napalm Brothers via Amazon) about my desire to create comics. I’ve long have wanted to make comics as a creative or as a publisher. Since I am getting into digital art, I’m seriously considering creating my own comix. The first will likely be one set in a Post-Apocalyptic Science-Fantasy setting. My initial desire was to only create Black & White comix, but depending on how the project shapes up I may do it full coloured.

If the TTRPG works out and there is a desire I may even consider doing a Zine for it, with comics and some fiction, maps much like Inferno! (that zine was soooo inspirational to me). Unlike Inferno!, it’ll have articles of new optional content, adventures and maps. It’ll kind of be a fusing of Inferno! and the Black Pudding OSR Zine by James V. West.

Also depending on how the first comic develops and is received I may publish others of my own creation or with other creatives; and possibly publish for other creatives – at least for their US based customers. I’ll be hand creating my comics as mini-comics or standard size depending upon the needs of the art and story.

I’ll also be looking into creating pins, stickers and potential patches and posters. I am likely going to also design t-shirts as well as commission art for shirts, pins and posters and other potential merch.

These may seem as pie in the sky fantasies, but depending on my drive and if there are enough folks interested in my products this will all be manageable. As I have said before, A LOT of this is rooted on IF there IS a desire for much of the above. If not, I’ll create what there is a desire for. The core TTRPG and its initial Zine supplements are being developed purely as a passion project whether or not anyone buys it, I know of one person willing to buy it thus added motivation to complete this project.

Well, my wrist is getting sore and I am getting hungry, so I’ll be ending this post so that I can publish it tonight and do some reading. Please take care and be kind to yourself. Fin.

Future Plans for my TTRPG Output

Greetings dear reader, as the title hints at I have an update concerning my TTRPG and future TTRPG output. Fear not, I am not stopping my development of it – if you follow me on Twitter you know I am neck deep in the initial design process. This update focuses on 1) How it is progressing & 2) what future TTRPG plans do I have in mind. If you follow enough indie TTRPG developers you note one of two things 1) they are often one in a series of different themed games or 2) an expansion upon the original (or at least a sequel of sorts).

First things being… well First; I figure I should discuss the progress on my current TTRPG project.

It is growing great; I am pleased with the progress and I am almost down with the initial archetypes for the game and default setting. I might create a few more…just figuring what niche they need to fill. Once that is done, I’ll begin work either on the combat rules or magic rules; just depends on which fires off my creativity the most. Beyond those things, I’ll eventually move onto level progression rules, exploration rules, mass combat (?), as well as monsters.

Secondly, I’ll discuss my future TTRPG plans next.

Once the initial game is designed, play-tested, edited and layout is finalised I’ll move towards the production phase of the project. That being said, I am going to work on phase three as I move forward. I am taking a page from Necrotic Gnome’s playbook and develop genre rules that will mesh with the core without adding too much complexity.

As with the core game I am going to develop a default setting for it. The current setting is more of a serious one, and I want to try my hand at something a bit more Gonzo and be a love letter to early Games Workshop…. not the Warhammer/Warhammer 40k so much as the culture that surrounds it and the often-Gonzo creations of the hobby community.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s when I discovered White Dwarf and all things Warhammer and GW related, I was hooked. From buying and devouring the WHFRPG to the Realms of Chaos Tomes to 3rd Edition WHFB I was duly corrupted. Toss in my love of Punk & Extreme Metal, underground/indie comics and 2000AD (especially Slaine & Judge Dredd) and Heavy Metal Magazine…my view of proper fantasy was less influenced by Tolkien and Tradition Fantasy (Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony ect.).

I was instead reading Poison Elves, Elf Lord, Elf Warrior, Ninja Elite and Adventures comics as well as GW’s War Hammer Fantasy anthologies, David Eddings, Stephen Brust, Cyberpunk and Thieves’ World; as well as Leiber, Moorcock, Lovecraft, R.E. Howard, and Karl E. Wagner. Toss in the late 90’s Black Library novels, Warhammer Monthly comics and the oh so missed Inferno!

Though there won’t likely be a miniature spin off to my TTRPG (though I won’t rule it out) I cannot leave out the influence White Dwarf’s ‘Eavy Metal galleries influence upon me. I loved how gonzo many of the hobbyist fans of Warhammer/WH40k creations were. Enter late summer 2020 and I discovered the Inq28 and AoS28 community and it renewed my desire to embrace the more gonzo aspects of fantasy again.

Whereas my main setting IS inspired in part by Warhammer Fantasy…but it is more about the darker tone and my desire to have Max FitzGerald illustrate it than that gonzo aspects baked into a lot of the stuff found in Inferno! & Warhammer comics…especially the ones focused on Goblins.

Which is the LOOOOONG way of saying I want to have Hobs/Goblins with long noses and ears and a penchant for explosives, a love of fungus and such. I like the idea for a bit more darkly campy theme to it. Plus, I like the idea of some science-fantasy elements and a bunch of sky islands and the like. Though the rules will be based on the core, I have to think of what tweaks I will need for the setting. Magic will likely be beefed up since it is more thematic in tone in the core, whereas as the other setting will have more traditional D&D style magic. That said, that is all I have for now. Please take care and be kind to each other. Tis time for me to eat. Fin.   

Adventures in TTRPG design – Part I: Introduction

Greetings, it’s been a while. I had hit a bit of winter blahs induced creative block, so I didn’t get much done until recently. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working on a project that I have hinted at in past posts – I am developing my own Tabletop Role Playing Game and its default setting. If you follow me on Twitter you likely have seen and read my “What is Ezra up to?” series of posts, you know all about this – or at least what you could glean from my (at times cryptic) posts. So, in this post I will lay bare my plans for this project, which will be the focus of this blog until I am ready to publish.

For a few years I have debated on crafting my own rules, mainly for my own personal use, but also as a project to learn desktop publishing skills as I want to publish fanzines of various kinds. Things changed as I got closer to being able to buy my new computer – I decided, why not make it into a sellable product?

Another motivating factor is the fact that I survived a mental breakdown after my mom passed away and I became homeless. I only have one life to live, why shouldn’t I do something I have always wanted to do? There is no reason to not do so, so here I am…working on my very own TTRPG.

I am under no delusions that I will make a profit on this…frankly I have no desire to. All I want to do is create a fun game and publish it. If people buy and like it, that is a bonus. People will call Bullshit on that claim? I don’t care, it’s the truth. I want to be an artisanal publisher, crafting hand made zines and hard cover books. As long as I can get paid enough to cover my expenses (materials, labour and postage) I am golden.

But you are not reading this to listen to me prattle on about “artisanal publishing” vs. profiting, you are reading this to hear about this project, right?

What this project is, is my love letter to Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson and their creation that has inspired numerous other wonderful creatives to create their own games. It is also a love letter to everyone who has inspired me the last few months – Black Dragon Games, Griff (Secrets of Blackmoor), Haven, Aaron the Pedantic, Kerc, Phileas Fos, Brian (Deathtrap Games), Travis Miller, James V. West, Daniel (Primæval Fantasy), Gygaxian Cultist, Diogo (Old Skulling), Gygaxian Cultist, Ben, Henry Prince, Stephen (Purple Druid), Rob (Menion) and Sixth. Thank you all, for all your constant support and inspiration.

The past musings I had for this project were to be more of a retro-clone of OD&D and it’s still heavily influenced by it. That being said, I wanted something that speaks to me and the kind of game I want to run. I am sure Kerc and Diogo felt the same way once they began their own journeys as game designers.

I’ve been deeply influenced by Talislanta and its use of thematic archetypes based on the setting’s cultures. I figured why couldn’t I add similar thematic archetypes in an OD&D type game myself? I started to revaluate how close I wanted stay to OD&D? I knew that I still wanted the core pillars, that said I have had long standing issues with a variety of things in the D&D DNA. Some were very superficial things like the stats and how “races” were represented. Others were more pivotal to the game, such as classes and magic.

Another pivotal thing I had issues with was combat – I always preferred the combat matrices of 1e AD&D, so the ones in OD&D gave me a strong nostalgic thrill. That said, I was intrigued by the so-called “default” Chainmail system. I asked myself, could I emulate it? Would it work? Would anyone like it? Lastly, I was always bothered by the fact that Attributes were little more than a source for XP and other mechanical modifiers. Shouldn’t they mean more? I think so, so I am making them so.

I mentioned magic above, so how am I going to deal with my issues with the magic system in D&D in general? I prefer power points and having rituals as part of the system. Even when rituals are used, they don’t seem to be “rituals”. Rituals should take time and have complex requirements. Something you shouldn’t be able to do in combat and have some benefit from the complexity and for multiple magic-users combining their power to the ritual.

This means I need to work out how this will work and be quick and easy enough during play. I also want magic to be thematic in nature and be tailored to the specific spell-casting archetype using it, yet still be based on the core rules.

Monsters – now is where the changes will be radical.

Humanoid creatures will have stats like PCs and get wounds like them as well. Unlike the PCs they don’t roll on wounding charts, they just take the penalties. Non-Humanoid creatures depend upon their type and how powerful they are. There will be NO CR in my TTRPG; as such you won’t know how deadly a creature you encounter will be, thus diplomacy and combat avoidance are preferable strategies for players. This especially true IF a Referee doesn’t coddle their players and if they preferably treat their NPCs like PCs, with ability to use tactics and use moral rules properly.

I never understood why Goblins and Orcs were 1HD monsters, except with a few exceptions. This is something I learned as a player in Rolemaster campaigns and running Cyberspace and RMU, plus the various Palladium Books games. Yet I want to keep things simple and quick during play. I will run play-tests eventually once I get stable WiFi.

Beyond the above I wanted to mention how I plan to publish this game. I have a set plan, which is what follows:

  • First release will be in the form in Zine form. I like this format.
  • Second will be a boxset collecting the Zine series, plus character sheets and dice.
  • Thirdly will be a two & three volume HC collection with slipcase – the two volume Rules & Bestiary, and the three volume Rules, Bestiary & Setting collections.
  • Fourthly will be three volume deluxe boxset – Rules, Bestiary, Setting, character sheets, dice, Landscape Referee screen and maps.

Of note about the above, I plan IF possible, to make these by hand. I plan to learn how to make the Zines, HC books and boxes. The poster maps and likely the box sticker labels will be printed at a local print shop. As I said above, I plan to become an artisanal publisher, not just of my own games and Zines but potentially for others. Well, that is it for this instalment of my blog, now it is time to go to sleep. Please take care and be kind to each other. Fin.

Faerun – the Forgotten Realms the revisioning

Greetings, in this instalment I will be discussing my plans to revision Faerun, the first setting I bought and fell in love with. Opening the Grey Box for the first time was an awe-inspiring moment – it was when I knew I was hooked D&D and Fantasy for life. There is so much potential contained within those two books, I spent hours and hours pouring through those slim tomes and the maps contained within that box. It filled me with more wonder than even the Metzer Basic and Expert boxes did. I haven’t been filled with true wonder since then, except for when I discovered Warhammer Fantasy and 40k. I got close with the Known World Gazetteers, World of Greyhawk Box Set and a flickering of wonder by Eberron.

Outside GW’s Warhammer Universe, only Greyhawk and Faerun have pulled me back to them and inspired me as I develop my own settings. As you know Greyhawk is getting its own revision, so I will focus on Faerun moving forward in this post.

Unlike with Greyhawk, my revisions with Faerun are going to be light touches. That being said, it will not resemble what it became post the Grey Box set. The hinted at wonder slowly died as the regional supplements were released, especially after the wretched Time of Troubles reboot.

The wonder hinted at in the South – Chessenta, Unther and Mulhorand was crushed as TSR decided to make them stand ins for Sumer, Egypt and some wannabe Sword & Sorcery inspired land. The world lore was written in such a way as only hint at possibilities and the details though sparse, painted a picture full of magic and wonder.

Whereas Gary hobbled the sense of wonder with the weird names of some of the realms (Geoff!) and the pseudo-Islamic and other carry-overs from Greyhawks roots in the Great Kingdom and its war-gaming nomenclature, Ed Greenwood and Jeff Grub did a masterful job with The Forgotten Realms. Toss in the artwork of fantasy luminaries like Jeff Easley (though his black and white art in the box set is the only stuff I like of his) and Keith Parkinson… a truly masterful product.

Most of my revisioning of Faerun will be taking those sparse by evocative descriptions and build upon them and adding more of my own gonzo flavour to it. Most of my work will be set in the South (Chessenta, Unther and Morhorand; plus, the Shaar, Chult and surrounding region) and the “Southern Kingdoms” of Amn, Tethyr and Calimshan. Of the Forgotten Realms, those regions ALLWAYS drew me in most. I didn’t care for the Heartlands much or the North, the magical, grim and mysterious South interested me most.

One major change is to the Drow – not to be Woke, but they never made sense to me – at least as presented in adventures and art. One thing that you’ll notice in the Grey Box – there ISN’T a mention of Lloth…anywhere! I have no problem with them being black skinned with white hair and eyes. In my version of the Realms, Drow are mutants tainted by Chaos and the infernal Mythic Underworld.

Not only they do they have skin the colour of polished obsidian – that said there are a variety of obsidian colours – Greeb, Black, Smoky Grey and mottled. The Drow of my Realms with be split between the Black complexioned Aristocracy, Smoky Grey Warrior Caste, and Green Sorcerous Caste. There are no common Drow, only slaves taken from the surface often human derived mix breed folk, bred with enslaved surface Elves, Orcs and Goblins; so that they can be useful in the Underworld.  

Drow worship the Dark Deities of Faerun and various infernal beings. Another difference between my Drow and TSR/WotC Elves, is that they have various infernal physical attributes in addition to their obsidian complexion because of their dalliances and pacts with the infernal powers of Chaos.

Humans and other slave stock often serve as a source of magical experimentation for the Green Sorcerous Caste. This will give me opportunities to add new creatures and human derived bio-engineered folk for my dungeons.

Another change, is that Half-Elves have longer ears than described, plus Tyr will be Tiwaz, and be a God of the Sky, Justice and Oaths. I will likely add a few more deities inspired by proto-Germanic Language. I will also use fantasy fonts to expand the languages. Tolkien’s Sindarin and Quenya Language for Elves.

Beyond the above, I will be doing five things –

  • Fusing the Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk. The Red Wizards of They are a Western offshoot of the Scarlet Brotherhood. The Rashemen are western Oeridians, that developed their own culture. The Luiren and Halruaa are south of the Shaar and part of the South, but culturally different than Chessenta, Unther and Mulhorand, as the Shaar creates a buffer between them.
  • Kara-Tur will be greatly revisioned away from its Pan-Asian inspirations. Kara-Tur will be located south of the Sea of Dust (which extends to the west and called Raurin). It incorporates the realms of Semphar and Durpar (east of Luiren); among other lands of my own devising.  
  • Chult, Lappaliiya, Tashalar, Thindol and Samarach will ALL be greatly different than described in 2e AD&D and 3.5 D&D. I will have fun devising the cultures of this region as well.
  • Adding pulpy elements to Faerun as I will be doing to Greyhawk. Though magic is wide (as Keith Barker likes to say of Eberron), magic items are uncommon and spells must be researched or found and learned – there is NO free spells for going up in levels.
  • Lastly, I will be using 1e AD&D and OSRIC to run campaigns, modified with a few house-rules that fit the vibe I want for the setting.

I covered the core goals of this project above, now I will work on realizing them. I may start a separate blog to discuss this project so it doesn’t clutter up this blog. I want to get back to posting about a variety of things other than just tabletop roleplaying projects on here, such as Light Novels, anime and manga. I will still cover my previous ttrpg setting project and the Gary Gygax 75 Challenge, I just want to diversify my content a bit more.

I will focus on the setting stuff I want to move forward on going forward and use my new blog to chronicle my joint Greyhawk/Forgotten Realms project.

Well I need to eat and run a quick errand while there is a break in the weather. That said, I will publish this and share it, before I do so. Please take care, stay safe and please be kind to each other. Fin.