A (New?) Space Game.

Anything tremendously new in mind? Well, not necessarily. I mean, there are scores of games that do space sci-fi action. There are more space RPG titles than easily fit on a typed page. Everything from old school 1950’s rockets and rayguns all the way up to super-futuristic psionics and world ships is represented somewhere in TTRPG form. Do I have a completely new take?

Here we go again. Again…

I love space games. My all time, number one favorite without a doubt is still West End Games’ Star Wars. The D6 system is still one of the best of all time. But, time and trademarks being what they are, I’m not comfortable doing another Star Wars game although I do miss chopping up battle droids with a lightsaber.

I’ve noticed most space game franchises have a pretty specific universe mapped out. Babylon 5, Aliens, Galactica, Star Trek, Starship Troopers, and Star Wars are all super specific. The same is true of RPGs set in space. Look at Star Frontiers for example. There are almost as many named planets and lore for it to have its own movie franchise.

Reinventing the space wheel, so to speak.

I have a kind of interesting take on a setting that really hasn’t been done yet. It’s based loosely on modern Ufology with a little bit of anime thrown in. I don’t know exactly how unique my whole crazy plan is, but I’m going to take a stab in the dark at it. I’ve always been enamored with deep space mecha such as Robotech/Macross and the Clan storyline from Battletech (which is a riff on Robotech.)

Anything tremendously new in mind? Well, not necessarily. I mean, there are scores of games that do space sci-fi action. There are more space RPG titles than easily fit on a typed page. Everything from old school 1950’s rockets and rayguns all the way up to super-futuristic psionics and world ships is represented somewhere in TTRPG form. Do I have a completely new take?

Bits of other game concepts loosely joined.

My desire to create a brand new space RPG came from love and disgruntlement with multiple systems. Some games are too crunchy. Ever build a starship for the PCs in Traveler? May as well build it in my backyard. It would be easier. Anything Palladium? Miles of d00% skills and endless MDC vs SDC debates.

Some games don’t go far enough. I love Star Frontiers for its simplicity, but the skill system doesn’t quite get the job done. It’s good for beer-n-pretzels blowing off steam in the OSR, though. The skill system in Star Frontiers leaves a lot to be desired, however. The revision of the game in Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier just didn’t quite go far enough for me. That, and I prefer the Marvel d00% CS system for that RPG.

ICRPG is great, but same lack of skill system. I love FUDGE/FATE, but if I’m going to design my skills from scratch anyway? Yes, FATE has a solid Space sourcebook. It’s cool, but then I have to mash in all the mecha components, too.

I’d go the Anime route with BESM or something similar, but it’s more mecha and less a space game at that point. I dunno. I could go on ruling out systems and settings for days. I want a game that takes the BEST components from all of these other RPGs and settings and combines them for something truly amazing.

That actually gives me another idea for Arpeggio of Blue Steel meets Space Battleship Yamato, but we’ll come back to that later.

So, here’s going to be the start of my as yet untitled space game.

By the time I’m done, it will cover all the things one might expect in an action/space opera game with mecha. Seems a tall order. My kids may have to finish it twenty years from now, but I’m going to give it a solid attempt.

I’m going to build it on the site here as I go as a sort of portfolio project and then compile/format it into a full pdf for better distribution, possibly Print On Demand. I’m going to try to keep the price as low as reasonably possible for the finished product.

More to come as I post the design blog. Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you!

See you among the stars!

What to Write.

Just a short one today.

When you don’t know what to talk about.

I don’t know what to say. Just not a whole lot going on right now. As soon as I have something worth going on about, I’ll let you know. It’s been a pretty mopey could of weeks.

It’s not even “writer’s block.” I never really run out of things to discuss. I’ve always got an idea for something brewing. The problem is usually my idea in terms of text and stats far exceeds my artistic talent. And you can only use about so much clip art.

So, kind of a short ramble today. I hope everything is going well with you wherever you are. I appreciate you. See you tomorrow.

Would You Play in This Campaign?

What starts out as any other medieval forest fantasy game rapidly turns into a battle across dimensional planes to stop the Demon Emperor and his horrific army from rampaging across their world. The group will pretty much be all that stands between the dimensional conquerors and an innocent world full of otherwise good people. The PCs will also set the narrative for future campaigns.

Against the Shogun of Darkness

The first campaign set in my newest campaign world, but not the only one.

Campaign Pitch: What starts out as any other medieval forest fantasy game rapidly turns into a battle across dimensional planes to stop the Demon Emperor (Final name and title to be determined) and his horrific army from rampaging across their world. The group will pretty much be all that stands between the dimensional conquerors and an innocent world full of otherwise good people. The PCs will also set the narrative for future campaigns.

This campaign can be set in almost any fantasy world, but realize failure means the group sets a chain of events in motion that will undoubtedly rewrite canon and change the way the world develops.

The Emperor and his minions will introduce several new items and monsters to the game.

The entire campaign is planned for 12 episodes, with an episode lasting one to three sessions. The first two and the last two sessions are intended to be played in order, but otherwise, the DM is free to play the rest of the encounters in any order they wish. Episodes 11 and 12 can be moved up as needed. Episodes 3-10 can be skipped or shortened if preferred. There will be a lot of potential for character development lost in the middle, however.

The first two chapters included with the campaign will describe my world (to be named later.) This is intended to give the players some background and a feel for the world they will be trying to save. While monsters and evil things lurk in the shadows of dungeons and cities, there are good things everywhere. There are faeries, unicorns, good dragons and kind-hearted folk everywhere. Yes, there are bad people, as well, but fortunately, the hero populations keeps their numbers in check.

The PCs start out in the quiet village of Blooming Fern. It’s a quiet logging and farming community. It’s on a river which provides for commercial opportunities and plenty of fish. Daily life is quiet for the most part and other than the constable and a few night watchmen, a large police force is simply unnecessary. The mayor and the town council of elders make fair decisions and rulings, acting as both political leaders and judges for disputes and sentencing criminals. All are fair, hard-working, family fold with property and local businesses.

*Editor’s notes: This campaign idea was based off of some rough notes I scribbled into my calendar notebook. As I’m getting ready to switch notebooks, I found it and thought it might be cool to throw out there. Thank you to all who responded via #ttrpgTwitter

It’s pretty rough yet. Lots of revisions and changes before it would be a full fledged game.

A Moment of Silence Today.

No full article today. Please take time to remember and honor our fallen.

We Will Never Forget.

Photo by Lars Mulder on Pexels.com

If you served anywhere as a civil servant and you see this, THANK YOU for your service.

In honor of all of those who lost their lives that day and the millions more affected by that loss, there will be no article today.

Take care. Thank you for everything you do. I appreciate you!

What Are We Here For, Exactly?

We’re humble gamers. A lot of us were marginalized by our peers and picked-on while growing up. (“Nerds!”) There are a ton of emerging sociocultural topics that we are being faced with now that the hobby has grown from hundreds to thousands to an approximately 50 Million. I would go so far as to say we’re a subculture now.

Please bear with me, family. This one is as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s.

I see so much injustice in the world. I almost turned this into a poem just now because it goes deep fast. I see all these injustices, lack, and hate in the world. Is that what we’re here for?

I don’t want to come at this from a place of privilege. Yeah, I’ve had it relatively good. I’m super grateful that I got to grow up in white bread middle of the United States. It’s not like I had much of a choice.

I see so much negative crap in the world and it kinda breaks my heart.

Yes. Call me a pansy, bleeding heart, woke, socialist, or whatever. I empathize with a lot of people when they’re hurting. Politics aside, my heart really goes out to a lot of friends and family who have been stuck in the proverbial mud as of late.

Truth: Being poor sucks. Being homeless sucks. Being unemployed royally sucks. Abuse of any kind, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and hate in general are all seriously bad. I’m grateful every day that some of these circumstances don’t apply to me.

BUT, they apply to a lot of people I know and care about a lot in the real world and on social medial. I spend a lot of time in the #TTRPG sphere these days. Unfortunately, just as in almost every community on the Internet, there exists inequity, racism, and other forms of hate. It hurts. It really does.

I keep wondering what I can do to help, like really help.

Don’t get me wrong. I have my own share of health and psychological issues. But, I would really like to do more. I’m not sure what, exactly. I’m just a guy with a blog.

That isn’t to say I’m helpless. I do have a few readers according to my statistics. I love you folx. Honestly, you’re great! We need to spread the word more in the #TTRPG community when we see all these injustices.

More discourse!

The TTRPG sphere has had its share of controversies as of late. The issue with NuTSR’s extremely racist views recently came up again. Wizards of the Coast managed to shock the fan community with their recent Spelljammer flub known as the #Hadozee. Gatekeeping is becoming a hotter topic now, too. Finally, there seems to be a regular uproar on Twitter any time someone tries to give advice involving diversity and inclusion in the TTRPG workspace.

Here’s the catch: We should be discussing these things!

We’re humble gamers. A lot of us were marginalized by our peers and picked-on while growing up. (“Nerds!”) There are a ton of emerging sociocultural topics that we are being faced with now that the hobby has grown from hundreds to thousands to an approximately 50 Million. I would go so far as to say we’re a subculture now.

We should be working as a community to move closer together, not farther apart at least as a culture. We need to talk about our beliefs and values. Most importantly, we should be able to come together as a group and enjoy a roleplaying game for 4-6 hours at a time. Discuss!

We’re committing to spending time with one another once (one-shots, conventions games, etc) or possibly one night per week or whatever can be scheduled. We are going to have some different ideas as people outside the game. Public discourse is healthy for us all.

Maybe we don’t agree. Maybe we do agree. Can we compromise on something?

The Session Zero debate seems trivial enough.

Anyone mentioning Session Zero or inclusivity in their gaming group immediately gets shouted at “Don’t tell me how to run my game!”

Some of us think Session Zero is always a good idea. I like knowing what characters I’m dealing with and a little about their backgrounds when I GM. I like to talk about house rules. We discuss what might be sensitive subjects to some players. Simple enough, right?

Okay. Don’t run Session Zero. If you’ve been playing with the exact same group of people for 20 years, you probably didn’t need one in the first place. You know it’s going to be the same hot buttons and things to stay away from. Great.

Please believe me when I say, no one is trying to tell you how to run your game with your group at home.

Trouble starts when tabletop gamers start acting a fool in public or on social media (see also; in public.) Please don’t exclude people from a public game unless the group is jam packed. If you’re not running a system they like, they probably won’t stick around anyway. At least the offer was made.

Most pro level Dungeon/Game Masters know how to run for larger groups and still make it around the table to everyone anyway. (That’s a different article, though.) My point is- we’re all there to have fun. Please make it happen?

If you’re in a PUBLIC space, please remember there are going to be all kinds of people from different walks of life, countries, genders, preferences, races, and so on potentially present. It’s our job as GMs/DMs to make everyone feel welcome as hosts of a game in a public space. What you do inside your home with your own private group is none of my concern.

Back to my original question.

Why are we here? Is is to fight, bicker and complain about one another? Pffft! Absolutely not!

Are we here on planet Earth on the 4D plane of existence to discover love, peace, joy, compassion and prosperity together? Absolutely! How do we want to choose to treat one another? It’s up to us,

My final thought is, if 50 Million of us can figure out how to get along and coexist in spite of our slightly conflicting values, what’s to keep the rest of the world from following us. Please remember, no matter how bad one thinks one has it, someone else has it worse. Someone also has it better. So, please consider- Can we do it better?

Let’s please try to get along.

Sentient Beings in Hexcrawl 1d12 tables for Dungeon Crawl Classics

So, you’ve entered a new hex and civilization has been detected. Roll 1d12:

So, you’ve entered a new hex and civilization has been detected. Roll 1d12:

  1. Terrible News!
  2. Chaotic Inclined (Tyrannical Ruler.)
  3. Chaotic Inclined (From Another Realm.)
  4. Neutral
  5. Neutral (From Another Realm.)
  6. Neutral (Xenophobic.)
  7. Neutral (Welcoming.)
  8. Neutral (From Another Realm.)
  9. Neutral
  10. Lawful Inclined (Strict Ruler.)
  11. Lawful Inclined (From Another Realm.)
  12. Great News!

Explanation of Terms:

  • Tyrannical Ruler: Settlement is overseen by a devil, demon, dragon, lich, vampire or some other powerful monster. They will attempt to detain or even destroy outsiders
  • From Another Realm: Wherever these beings are from, they are not native to the current lands. Much like the village the group came from, strange pillars appeared all around the settlement and they woke up “here.”
  • Xenophobic: These beings might be willing to trade/negotiate/lend aid, but they are extremely wary of outsiders and might be considered hostile.
  • Welcoming: As the name suggests, these beings are happy to trade/negotiate/lend aid to outsiders with no second thought.
  • Strict Ruler: This settlement is lawful to a fault. It is ruled by a powerful (not necessarily kind) being who metes out strict punishment for breaking their laws. Could be any number of beings. (Judge’s choice.) Angels, dragons, sentient monsters of immense power, powerful wizards, possibly even a demon. Entry or negotiation with this settlement will likely involve adherence to all of their rules and regulations.
Terrible News!

The group has accidentally stumbled upon a settlement most creatures would tend to avoid. Extra time and care should be taken in passing through a hex with this result. The group will have to be very stealthy in order to avoid detection/destruction/capture.

  1. Demons! Obviously they are not native to the area, but they maintain a stronghold here and there are a lot of them.
  2. Dragon! This settlement is made up of like-minded dragons, dragonkin and their humanoid followers.
  3. Vampires: Safe during the day, minus the humanoids who are used as cattle. At night, it is not safe to go to sleep in this area. Many of the humanoids are sympathetic to the local vampire lords.
  4. Automatons: These beings look and act like regular humanoids. However, the ultimate goal of their creator is to extract information and conquer other settlements.
  5. Bandits: This settlement will take all of the visitors’ possessions and leave them to walk naked back to the next hex.
  6. Nuclear devastation! Whatever happened in this hex was not pleasant. Aside from mutants and irradiated flora/fauna, there is nothing stirring in this area. Whatever actual organized civilization was here is now extinct. Their buildings and irradiated “pets” remain.
  7. Dagon Worshippers: A cult dedicated to a member of the Great Old Ones has taken control of this settlement and formed a twisted theocracy. Join them, flee, or umm…
  8. You Hear Banjos: This matriarchal society is comprised mostly of cannibals. They consider men to be servants, breeding stock, or food.
  9. Necropolis: This settlement is very clean and very old. All of the beings within are ancient and presumably wise. They are, however, quite un-dead. They would love to add to the population.
  10. Dimensional Conquerors: These beings came from somewhere across the vastness of space and dimensions to raise an army and take over the rest of the region.
  11. Giants! This one will be obvious the closer the group gets to the outside of the settlement. There are giants afoot.
  12. Complete anarchy! Whatever happened prior to the group’s arrival has left panic and disorder in the streets. Lootings, chaos and violence are everywhere. It’s every living thing for itself. Just when it looks like things are quieting down, the temporal loop resets and it starts all over again.
Chaotic Inclined:

(We know complete chaos wouldn’t form an actual settlement, but these beings have aligned under a banner of similar goals and philosophies.)

  1. A single, powerful dragon has kept order and ruled for a couple of centuries. Failure to serve the crown may find one eaten or well roasted.
  2. Fel Gnomes: These primarily subterranean beings aren’t exactly known for their hospitality. They are more likely to loot interlopers and tie them out to bleach in the sun.
  3. Servants of the god of wine and song: This primarily human settlement travels regularly. They normally wish no ill will on anyone, but do have to pay for their wild lifestyle somehow. Those who encounter this settlement may be fleeced of their wealth, rations, and trade goods through more subtle means.
  4. Fanatical zealots! Roll 1d12 on the Gods of Chaos Table. This theocratic society is ruled by a high priest insisting on strict rules and constant sacrifices or taxes paid to the church. Failure to follow the deity in question may lead to dire consequences.
  5. Aelves: These are not the elves from the home realm the group came from. They are taller, muscular and far more warlike. They will negotiate safe passage and possibly trade IF they think there is advantage in doing so.
  6. Orcs: These will be run of the mill orcs per the rulebook. They may or may not tolerate the party of explorers who encounters their settlement. Consider the settlement to be a large band including a boss and a witch doctor.
  7. Reptile Men: Similar to Serpent Man entry in the rulebook. Humanoid body with the head of a Gila monster or similar lizard. Not from the group’s home plane. Mostly hostile toward interlopers, but may be willing to trade or negotiate if they have a distinct advantage. Or, they might just try to kill and eat the group.
  8. Humans: They may or may not be from the group’s plane of origin. They don’t seem friendly at all. Judge will determine disposition, outlook, and attitudes of the settlement. The settlement appears to be in a state of decline.
  9. Goat Men (See Subhumans Entry in the DCC book): Not from the group’s home plane. They are mean, nasty, and one might wonder how this “society” functions at all beyond brute force and iron rule. They should be considered hostile from the get-go.
  10. Deadites: This is an eerie settlement of the dead. It may have once been a town or village from another dimension. Now there are Ghosts, Skeletons, and Zombies instead of people. The settlement will usually be headed by one of the Hollow Ones.
  11. Troglodytes: These trogs are not from the group’s home dimension. Their attitudes and outlooks are more civilized as well as their clothes, weapons, armor and ability to walk unhindered in broad daylight. They inherently distrust outsiders.
  12. Servants of an Elemental Lord: These beings of mixed races may be very welcoming to outsiders. They serve an elemental lord. They come from all over and only to their ruler’s bidding beyond their day-to-day chores.
Neutral:
  1. Circle of Druids: A near-perfect natural society consisting of humanoids, centaurs, faeries, and other nature-oriented creatures. Usually led by a druid or council of druids.
  2. Humans: They may or may not be from the group’s plane of origin. They seem friendly enough. Judge will determine disposition, outlook, and attitudes of the settlement. The settlement appears to be a normal town or village.
  3. Elves: They may not be from the group’s plane of origin. They seem friendly enough. Judge will determine disposition, outlook, and attitudes of the settlement. The settlement appears to be a normal town or village of elves that have adapted to the environment they are encountered in.
  4. Ogres/Minotaurs: (See Ogrenomicon for more details.) This unusual pairing of two groups of creatures has thrived as a society for years. They are usually wary of outsiders, however.
  5. Dwarves: They may not be from the group’s plane of origin. They seem friendly enough. Judge will determine disposition, outlook, and attitudes of the settlement. The settlement appears to be a normal town or village of dwarves that have carved a settlement into whatever terrain they’re on.
  6. Sentient Insects. Judge’s discretion:half humanoid/half ants, beetles, centipedes, spiders, etc. They have different social views and settlement construction depending on the type of insect. They may view the group as friends or food depending.
  7. Barbaric Gnolls. These 7 1/2’+ tall shaggy hyena men value tribal loyalty, respect, strength and ferocity above all else. Fairly easy to get along with.
  8. Time Travelers. These beings may or may not be from the group’s plane of origin. They have come from some time in the far future. Their concern for paradox is the only thing tempering their generosity and kindness.
  9. Halflings/Gnomes/Pixies. This settlement of wee folk are happy to receive visitors. Kindness, respect, mindfulness, and gentleness are expected in return for their hospitality.
  10. Ape men. Perhaps born in a different age or even dimension, these ape men have adapted to the local surroundings and are quite adept at fending for themselves. They are explorers, too. They may have valuable information on the surrounding areas.
  11. Merchant caravan. Long ago, this caravan of interdimensional beings who are also merchants broke down here and decided to settle. Gold speaks with these beings more than anything else.
  12. Mercenaries. This settlement is actually a large mercenary militia camp. Money and trade will win favors, as will shows of strength and martial prowess.
Lawful
  1. Humans, but they’re a little too stodgy. It’s almost as if they’re being controlled by something or someone.
  2. Utopian social democracy of halflings. A settlement where everyone has a say.
  3. Mechanical Beings. This settlement is entirely made up of automatons.
  4. Advanced elves. Their technology and magic have surpassed that of most other beings. May or may not be native to this realm.
  5. Rabbit people. (Or some other Anthropomorphic animal of the Judge’s choosing.) Docile, calm, peaceful and easy to get along with.
  6. Mixed settlement where all are welcome as long as they obey the basic laws of the settlement.
  7. Broken Dwarves under an oppressive regime of an overly lawful tyrant.
  8. Orcs. Peaceful, democratic, highly advanced culture.
  9. Lizardfolk. Fiercely loyal to their leader. Very militant culture. Often refer to another home amongst the stars.
  10. Magocracy. All of the inhabitants of this settlement are magically inclined. Made up of various mages, witches, warlocks, and other spellcasting traditions.
  11. Theocratic society of humans. Worship the deity of the Judge’s choosing.
  12. Mixed agrarian medieval settlement. Farmers, hunters, fishermen, and/or associated trades under one ruler (baron, king, chieftain, etc.) Seems pretty harmless.
Great News!
  1. Settlement of powerful divine beings. Could be demigods or angels.
  2. Technologically advanced society. All kinds of wild new ideas to be discovered!
  3. A completely illusory city designed to test the group’s reactions to various situations. The being who created it is not from this realm.
  4. Very old mixed settlement. It’s been around the current realm for hundreds of years and has mapped the next two concentric rings worth of hexes. Trade is also very lucrative.
  5. A settlement built amid a gorgeous tropical oasis. Almost paradise. Every accommodation the party could ever want.
  6. High Aelves. A rare group of aelves from an age long past. Very old, very wise.
  7. Multidimensional Beings. These humanoids exist in multiple realities as well as the Astral and Ethereal planes at the same time. Freakishly wise and intelligent.
  8. A kind, Lawfully aligned dragon and her entourage. Wealthy, kind, civil settlement where all of the residents are provided-for.
  9. Arcane City. This settlement has attracted beings from all over. Everyone’s basic needs are provided by magical means. Some structures float in the air. There is magical healing for almost any condition. The council in charge is pleasant and somewhat forgiving.
  10. Extradimensional analogue version of the group’s own village. It’s from a timeline where the village has already been in the current realm for 6d12 years. they have adapted to different surroundings very well and have grown strong as a result.
  11. Necropolis Redux. This city of the dead is less fraught with death traps and evil un-dead. There is a great buried treasure below, and the Elven Lich may even allow the group to part with some of it in exchange for a favor.
  12. The Builders! These are the ones who brought the group’s village to the realm. They have the answers if the group asks the right questions. Settlement is similar to the characters’ village.

Giant Flying Spiders for Dungeon Crawl Classics

Picture if you will, a spider roughly the size of a horse with a massive skull on its back and wings like a locust. It paralyzes its victims with poison and cocoons them in a husk for later consumption in its lair. This carnivorous magical apex predator is a truly terrifying sight to behold.

Nightmare fuel, to be sure.

(More art to come.)

Picture if you will, a spider roughly the size of a horse with a massive skull on its back and wings like a locust. It paralyzes its victims with poison and cocoons them in a husk for later consumption in its lair. This carnivorous magical apex predator is a truly terrifying sight to behold. Worse yet, these arachnid beasts serve as consorts to the Spider Dragon.


Flying Skull Spider, Giant: Init +2; Atk bite +6 melee (1d8 plus poison)
or web (special); AC 14; HD 3d8; MV 30’ (climb any surface) or Fly 30′; Act 1d20; SP poison (DC 20 Fort save or lose an extra 3d4+4 hit points and 4 Strength temporarily; success results in loss of additional 1d4 hit points only), Web 1x/day (10’ range, DC 14 Ref save or –2 penalty on all actions until freed), stealthy (+10 to attempts to move silently); SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Will -1; AL C.

This creature is the unnatural fusion of demonic magic with an innocent forest arachnid. Afterward, nature took its course and a large clutch of baby monsters was born. Then they grew.

Samurai Crawl Classics? Nope.

Growing up in Iowa, I fell in love with First Edition AD&D. My favorite gaming books included Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures. Nowadays both of those books have some pretty ugly racial biases associated with them. I don’t love those books for the racist content, though.

I’m backing off of the idea.

The intent is to uplift and respect other cultures, or at least show a modicum of sensitivity.

Most of the changes I wanted to make were nominal. There are a few deviations from the regular Dungeon Crawl Classics rules, mostly new classes. I was basing bits and pieces off of the often maligned AD&D Oriental Adventures, but not entirely. The other question I was struggling with was an actual setting for the thing.

The base DCC setting is keyed more toward European medieval fantasy, maybe? I think that’s a fair statement. It’s certainly based off of a game that was clearly medieval European fantasy.

AD&D inspired me to explore another culture.

The often maligned Oriental Adventures.

Unfortunately, in this case, I was raised in the U.S. Everything about me screams “Midwestern white guy!” at 100 yards. I can’t change that, as much as I’d like to sometimes. I’m sorry to say I’m stuck with it.

Growing up in Iowa, I fell in love with First Edition AD&D. My favorite gaming books included Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures. Nowadays both of those books have some pretty ugly racial biases associated with them. I don’t love those books for the racist content, though.

Quite the opposite, actually. I fell in love with Japanese and Chinese culture as a result. I still want to visit Japan. I used to want to live there. Chinese food was the mainstay of my diet for many years. As a result of being so interested in Japan, China and other cultures I studied anthropology and sociology in college. Thanks AD&D for getting that particular ball rolling.

It makes me sad when I see people getting torn apart on Twitter and elsewhere for producing what are being considered racist materials. The post that brought the problem to my attention is here. I’m not directly involved with this product in any way, but it seemed okay at first glance. The product in question is an upcoming Kickstarter, so there’s still time for it to change although it’s not looking likely.

Sometimes I don’t think it’s entirely intentional. I’m not apologizing for blatant racism. But as has been said about AD&D Oriental Adventures and subsequent works, sometimes the intention is to emulate and show appreciation for those cultures. We didn’t have sensitivity readers back in ye olden days of the 1980’s.

How many other middle America white kids got introduced to other parts of the world through D&D? How many Dungeon Masters looked into ancient Egypt, the Aztecs, or Malaysian culture while digging for inspiration in their D&D games. Where is the dividing line between “This is really cool! Let’s include it in the game.” to “Let’s make fun of this ‘foreign’ culture?”

I wish to be considerate of cultures and the values of others.

So, what’s the solution?

I’ve put some thought into it. Regardless of what game system I decide to use, my next fantasy campaign world is going to contain specific elements from various other real world cultures presented respectfully. For example, there will be samurai, loyal to a code similar to Bushido. I intend to have a group of elite weapon masters somewhat similar to the way Kensai were presented. Priests will have Ofuda and carry staves with rings. Shamanism is definitely going to be a thing in my world. Magic Users will have an elemental tradition and possibly a code they have to follow. Yes, there will be ninja because I think they’re cool.

Some of the elements I loved from those old AD&D books are amazing for use as game elements. I love martial arts. The old OA build-your-own martial arts system was my favorite thing about that book. Monks are totally going to have access to that.

There’s a twist.

There’s an interesting old RPG called Skyrealms of Jorune. It was super creative both in presentation and system elements. The game had a lexicon all its own. I admire that game because they rewire the GM and players’ mindsets to fit their game. It’s completely unique among RPGs.

What if someone designed a fantasy RPG in that fashion? What if we change up the nomenclature entirely. What if I institute a blend of Chinese Imperial culture with a Japanese shogunate and call it something completely new?

What if we have katanas, but we don’t call them katanas? What if they’re Orcish Warswords? or Dwarven Honor Blades? The common sword of the realm is the Jian. (Chinese Longsword.) Hopefully I’ve made my point.

We’re not restricted to one culture.

I still intend to have some of the same old Tolkien-esque European fantasy elements. Oh, and dinosaurs in places. To top that off, we’re still going to borrow from a lot of the usual game references.

You know, monsters from the OG Monster Manual. I’ll still beg, borrow, and steal demons (Oni) from Warhammer Fantasy, D&D 3E and 5E. I’m possibly pulling in a couple of races from other games as well. I like Earthdawn. What can I say?

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a fantastic day! I appreciate you.

Spelljammer.

#hadozee controversy and a heap of bad reviews. One D&D is around the corner in 2024. Why would I want to buy the new Spelljammer? Space Hamsters?

I kinda saw this coming.

Why didn’t they learn from this?

I’ve heard multiple reviewers say, “Save your money.” Or, “Maybe look at buying other products.”

In other words, even some of the hardcore YouTubers and other Wizards of the Coast/D&D rah-rah reviewers aren’t into it. I mean, it looks cool. The art is amazing. But the content? Like the actual meat and bones of the campaign setting? Having a good concept does not make for a good game.

RPG family, I’m so sorry to tell you this, but the thing pretty much sucked the first time around. What made us think it was going to be better for 5E? The old content wasn’t that great. Fam, a turd by any other name is still… You can’t put a dress on mule. (Original) T$R made so many other good campaign settings.

If the first time around was bad, (and let’s be honest, it was BAD,) what made them think a remake would fix it? I’m sure someone will quote sales numbers, but I was big into this hobby when it came out and I seem to recall a lot of people panning it then, too. The new version seems to not have gotten any better.

Industry timing leaves a lot to be desired on this one.

New! In a shiny package.

It didn’t help that they announced that in 2024 One D&D is coming. So, basically here’s a new edition that is supposedly going to be retrocompatible with 5E, or at least that’s what they’re saying. They want us to keep being good consumers and continue buying things such as Spelljammer and Dragonlance. WotC also wants us to “playtest” the new rules and provide them with so-called feedback. (Anybody else’s bullshit detector going off?)

If I know WotC, they are eventually going to try to get us to switch completely over to this new edition like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Right now they (WotC) doesn’t want us to sell off our 5th Ed books because Half Price Books can only handle so much. DMsGuild has to stick around long enough for D&D Beyond to evolve.(*I have a feeling being a third party D&D creator is going to change.)

I feel bad for Dragonlance fans right now. Their book is going to be ill-timed at best. Lord only knows what 2023 is going to look like for D&D releases. I mean, we know physical products are no longer high on WotC’s release priorities as far as we’ve heard. Unless we’re talking about Magic cards, then yay physical stuff. Books? Pfft!

What’s the point of releasing products for 5E when it’s going to be on its way out at the end of the year in 2023? Is the next generation of fans going to want to convert all of the 5E material they own into this new shinier One D&D package? What does that say for Spelljammer, Dragonlance and whatever they do in 2023?

One D&D hasn’t even been released and they’re already contradicting themselves.

I know I’m pretty hard on WotC sometimes. They’re the leading company in the industry. With a few brief exceptions, they’ve always been top dog. D&D is pretty much the mother of all roleplaying games. Some would say the industry looks to WotC for direction.

So can someone at WotC or anywhere explain the whole debacle with the Hadozee? Please look up #hadozee on Twitter for the full details. Fair warning: possible racist content. This isn’t the only mistake that was made with the new Spelljammer, but this one came at a really poor time.

Anyone who has been following the sordid tale of Star Frontiers: New Genesis playtest documents knows this isn’t the time to get a bad rep for racism in game publications. It’s bad enough when certain nuts are our there trying to make the hobby look bad. Now the biggest name in the business has to show an utter lack of sensitivity to the topic? Really?

I thought WotC wanted to be progressive. I thought they wanted to set the industry standard. What happened to doing away with negative racial differences in D&D? #hadozee

Anybody remember this little gem from DriveThruRPG/DMsGuild?

Update: D&D Beyond revised Hadozee.

The Hadozee errata.

Good for Wizards of the Coast! They’ve heard the uproar around the slavery element of the Hadozee and removed it on D&D Beyond. At least they’re not completely oblivious to the rpg community. I’m not sure that goes far enough, but it’s a great start.

The only thing that I noticed right away is that it’s still out there in print. Digital media are easy to change. Push the delete button, rewrite a few lines, and poof. Fixed it. But several thousand print copies of the physical book? Oops.

Basically, they deleted all of the content that referred to slavery, removed some offensive art, and issued an apology. Good for them. Better than nothing. I’m sure a LOT of people would have been happy if the offensive text had never made it into the book in the first place.

The other catch is there are still hundreds of print copies out there. It’s still kind of a Public Relations nightmare. Yes, they apologized. The question remains: have they learned anything? At least they’re launching an internal investigation, though…
The apology statement can be found here.

I’m glad no one at WotC actually reads my blog.

Because I’m incredibly disappointed with that company right now. Say what you want about the Old School Renaissance in gaming. At least we knew mistakes had been made well enough to steer clear of them. Call me an “Old Grognard” all day, but I think the kids that put this latest Spelljammer together were seeing dollar signs and little else.

This mistake with the Hadozee has been in print since 1982 by their own admission! How could they have let it slide by? Yeah, I hope WotC’s internal investigation is fruitful.

What are they going to do? Fire the writer from 40 years back? Fire an editor that let it all go by? Pat themselves on the back for a job poorly done? Probably that last part. “Oh, well. Oops. Silly us. Hee hee. Now go buy Dragonlance.”

Editing failure.

I know I drop my share of typos, grammar and punctuation errors here on my blog. I’m not claiming to be perfect. And as an editor, I’m not… uh… Let’s just say dealing with people isn’t my strong suit.

But Spelljammer? C’mon. Really?!? WotC pays these people how much? These “design teams” are so effective. Someone could have walked in off the street and questioned the Hadozee, and yet…

If the McCorporate cultured world of WotC learns anything from this, it’s that the more crap you try to do in committee, the more likely it will FAIL outright. You can hold all the meetings you want. You and have all the little social gatherings in the office you can muster. You can hold hands around the campfire after work. Do you know what matters at the end of the day?

THE F*CKING PRODUCT!!!

It’s lucky for WotC that they have no worries about sucking a loss on Spelljammer. Yay for them. Any smaller company would probably be shitting bricks by now. Not our WotC. They can afford to sweep the whole ugly #hadozee incident under the rug, pretend it never happened, and put out the next piece of trash for all their people to hype up.

DID anybody on that staff stop to think, Hmm. Maybe it’s just possible “Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. ” because they like to remind us of it on DriveThruRPG every chance they get? Seriously? That doesn’t warrant some damn editorial review time??? Which “team” screwed that pooch on this?

I can’t do it anymore. I’m all but done with 5E.

I’m more ready than ever to embrace my old school roots. Pretty sure I have enough OG Dragonlance material to last me a long time should I decide I want to run with it. Don’t even come around me with that Spelljammer business. I’m really looking hard at Old School Essentials again. I think WotC can go a few years without my money again. See you next “edition” on that.

Star Frontiers is welcome. Alternity is welcome. Heck, I’d love to run Amazing Engine again sometime. I won’t be touching Spelljammer with a 10′ space pole any time soon. (*It’s like a regular 10′ pole, only in space.)

I want to find a nice, quiet, smaller company to work for where my work might be appreciated. Give me the peace of mind that I never have to sit in a meeting with a bunch of freakin strangers ever again. Oh, and never will I ever reprint something from the 1980’s without at least reviewing it first.

Onward and upward. Back tomorrow with more gaming excitement. Thank you for stopping by.

Mining Old Books for New Content.

This trick works for more than just the superhero genre. Fantasy games, such as D&D, have far more modules already produced. Sometimes it’s as simple as updating the monsters and loot to the most current edition, which could involve some number crunching. However, if one is to choose a rules lite system such as ICRPG or Easy D6, conversions go very fast.

I keep a lot of old RPG books around that aren’t in PDF.

Good old MSH Reap the Whirlwind.

GM Tip: Never throw an old RPG book away. The same can be said for old modules, even homebrew ones. Please believe me when I say, “Never underestimate the value of an old module.”

The old adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure applies in this case. Take an old Marvel Superheroes Module like, Reap the Whirlwind, take the word “mutant” and change it to however supers are referred to in one’s own campaign and convert/add stats accordingly. Viola! Instant adventure for a couple of nights.

It’s one reason I favor simpler superhero games such as ICONS. They’re much easier to convert old Marvel and DC modules with. Games such as Mutants & Masterminds or Champions are a lot stat intensive and porting in all the baddies takes time and temperance.

Excavate those buried gems!

This trick works for more than just the superhero genre. Fantasy games, such as D&D, have far more modules already produced. Sometimes it’s as simple as updating the monsters and loot to the most current edition, which could involve some number crunching. However, if one is to choose a rules lite system such as ICRPG or Easy D6, conversions go very fast.

The same can be said for converting non-D&D adventures into other game systems. I know someone who really likes the Warhammer Fantasy setting, but doesn’t care much for the rule system. Solution: convert everything to D&D by approximation. One of my current projects is pulling old Basic D&D modules over into Dungeon Crawl Classics for my own use.

I’ve seen the Star Frontiers Crash on Volturnus module used as a Star Wars D6 adventure. I’ve seen Call of Cthulhu modules run in Beyond the Supernatural and D20 Modern. (Call of Cthulhu actually has a D20 variant, but the modules were original system.)

Wait, there’s more!

If you really want to expand your horizons as a GM, you might consider running modules across different genres. Call of Cthulhu investigators stumble into what looks an awful lot like a D&D dungeon full of monsters, riddles, and deadly traps. Star Wars characters have to go up against a rogue group of stormtroopers that have broken off of the Empire under the leadership of a maniacal megalomaniac with a skull shaped red mask. D&D characters suddenly find themselves up against Cthulhu cultists.

The possibilities are truly endless. If you’re a low prep GM and you have become adept at “winging it,” then this style of grab-n-go module prep might work very well for you. I’m more of a high prep GM, but I keep a LOT of old adventures around, especially D&D, that I can pull into my current game to run as a side trek or maybe as a one shot if key players are missing.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found this useful. Happy gaming!

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