Does OSR Create Imposter Syndrome?

I mean, nothing new here, right? The RPG industry isn’t the first to run into this particular dilemma. How many truly original plots are there for movies, TV shows, YouTube podcasts, video games, comic books, and cartoons can there possibly be? The RPG industry is just one of the fresher faces on the block compared to other print media, radio, movies and TV.

Man, I thought this was going to be a gaming article.

Looking at the many various websites that have converted the old D&D material into Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC.) I was looking for old D&D modules from B/X and AD&D 1E that had been converted to DCC. I was also on my side quest for OA material that had been converted to Old School Rules. Turns out there’s a LOT of stuff out there. Like, a shockingly large amount out there.

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I’m just wondering what am I even doing here any more? OSR already felt a bit like we were reinventing the wheel. Now it’s more like I’m trying to reverse engineer a Lamborghini. It’s like I’m way in over my head AND it’s all been done before only better. I feel like I showed up late for the game, in the wrong season, for the wrong team, not even the same sport.

I get that the definition of “retro clone” means it has been done before.

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But, I was really digging DCC RPG anyway. I still do. I will probably even put some stuff up on the site here. But getting paid for it?

I feel like I’m barking up the wrong tree, in the dark, in the neighbor’s yard, three blocks over, and I’m a canary. Imposter syndrome? This is like a whole freaking plague of imposterism. Imposterishness? Imposteritis? Imposterior?

The idea was simple at first. Find a game I like. Find an OGL I can work with. Create material. Put material up for sale. Advertise and promote the material. Get paid, even if it’s a pittance in credit on DriveThruRPG. I mean, I can still do all of that, I guess.

I don’t remember the part where I discover new information, and then mentally trip, fall, stumble, and hit my head on the wall repeatedly.

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I mean, nothing new here, right? The RPG industry isn’t the first to run into this particular dilemma. How many truly original plots are there for movies, TV shows, YouTube podcasts, video games, comic books, and cartoons can there possibly be? The RPG industry is just one of the fresher faces on the block compared to other print media, radio, movies and TV.

There are probably over 100 different fantasy RPGs alone. Sci-Fi RPGs, Supers, Cyberpunk and Post Apocalyptic games are not far behind. I really feel sorry for folks operating in the Horror genre in any medium, much less RPGs. (Horror- literally competing with campfire stories in verbal tradition since man began creating stories. Yeesh.)

Retro RPGs are not entirely new, either. GURPS and Mythras are two examples of games born from much older roleplaying engines. GURPS isn’t new, either. The RPG industry is chock full of examples of people taking older games and repurposing/rebranding them to make money for themselves. D&D itself was an outgrowth of the miniatures wargaming hobby.

Disclaimer: I want to clarify this is not about a specific product, but a category of RPG products. OSR and OSRIC are a line of RPGs that closely mimic rules of original fantasy and other games from the 1970’s, 1980’s and early 1990’s. Dungeons & Dragons is the main focus of many of these games, but not the only one.

So, why am I here, exactly?

I’ll be in a better mood later.

The whole thing makes me wonder what do I have to offer? Like, at all? Should I go back to mopping floors or pumping coffee? (My back can’t really handle either, but sometimes I speculate. ) I’ve been at this for almost a year now. The self doubt has gone from creeping in to a flash flood. I just don’t know right now.

I’ve been posting daily to this blog in one form or another for almost six months solid. I’m not making a ton of money off of it. (Read: none whatsoever, much to the chagrin of my missus.)

Do I stop writing material for RPGs and about them? Do I just go back to running a game or two on the weekend for a few close friends and family members? It’s frustrating, it’s uncomfortable, and it likely means positive growth is coming in some way, shape or form.

Tonight, I’m upset. Tomorrow, I’ll meditate and be in a better mood. My inspiration will return. It’s just a small setback.

Back to the original question.

Why do we have OSR, anyway? I mean, I know a lot of well-meaning Old Grognards have a hard time accepting new editions of D&D. Okay. Back when reprints weren’t as commonly available, I can see that. But now? I own originals, reprints, pdf printouts, and digital copies of lots of old rulebooks. I also have a ton of bookmarks to sites that still rock the old game.

So, why is OSR a thing? It’s much the same idea as a throwback basketball jersey or reproduction Air Jordans. The idea is to take an old concept or product and alter it slightly and sell it for money. In RPG terms, same old rules, same old game, new title, art, and trade dress.

Where does the creative license come in?

Where’s the creative freedom in copying/rewriting the same old rules and slapping a new coat of paint on it? People like classic cars, too. I’d drive a rebuilt 1984 IROC-Z if I could. BUT… I wouldn’t be able to haul my family in it. In RPG terms, many of us run a current system/ruleset because it’s more widely available, popular and accessible to find a game.

If I walk into a FLGS on a Saturday and say, “Who wants to play in my 5E game?” I’m far more likely to get some takers than if I walk in and ask, “Who wants to play Tunnels & Trolls?” Many times, old fashioned bulletin boards or online groups/apps will help someone find a game for a specialized RPG such as Lancer. Likewise, it’s easy to walk into a club meeting full of Old Grognards and find a AD&D 1E game, Castles & Crusades, or White Box Swords & Wizardry, because those guys probably won’t need any explanation.

Why do I love DCC so darn much?

I chose that particular retro clone of D&D because it’s flexible, reminds me of multiple editions, and is a lot of fun to run. There’s nostalgia, cool dice, and lots of fun charts for everything/anything. It’s like Warhammer Fantasy and Rolemaster had a love child.

I love DCC because I can (re)create classes and concepts that I used to love. I can pump out new and different monsters or port them over from other games, D&D editions, etc. I own a sickening number of old monster books, especially from D&D 3rd Ed. They happen to work very well with DCC/MCC. So does Gamma World, strangely enough.

I’ll admit, I also have a strong sense of nostalgia and that’s present in DCC more than other games. I would still run Basic D&D per the Rules Cyclopedia if I didn’t have to come up with 5 copies of the game to distribute to my players. DCC is relatively cheap and easy to find, so is D&D 5E. Either works. One is easier to explain thanks to Critical Role.

The “Old Grognard Effect” does more damage to new players than Matt Mercer ever could.

Old Grognards of the world, OG roleplayers of the world, hear me please. There is a very ugly tendency amongst older gamers to exclude or act as gatekeepers to the hobby. The ugly act of discrimination affects the gaming table the same as anything else. Simply put- please treat people with kindness and understanding?

I hear a lot of stories about OGs gaming in public. Why do you go play at a game store with the same old group and the same old game if you’re not going to let other people join or even watch? Go hang out in the DM’s mom’s basement for five hours and continue to ignore the new players entirely.

Part of the appeal of D&D 5E is its current popularity. Please, let them learn about the “good old days” elsewhere after they’ve had a few sessions under their belts. Keeping new folx excluded from the hobby is ultimately self-destructive toward the hobby and industry. Please, don’t do it. Gatekeeping is unnecessary and kinda stupid.

The homebrew factor.

People have been hacking the rules and creating their own material for games since the dawn of D&D. B/X and AD&D 1E were a glorious and wonderful proving ground for funky new game mechanics, previously unseen or unheard-of monsters, and freakishly cool magic items. Some of us feel like D&D 5E is tied very heavily to the rules, even when they’re broken and dysfunctional.

We never needed a “Rule of cool” back then because all you ever needed was DM approval. It was the DM’s table, his rules. (I use male pronouns because unfortunately ladies were rare in the hobby back then.) Likewise, DMs could cook up some new, weird idea for a class, spell, magic item, or monster they could run it. If it flopped, it could be gone the next week or revised.

Heck, back then we didn’t have “Based on X Edition” mechanics. If someone built a game based on D&D, but set entirely in space? It was a “NEW” game. Most designers had the sense to rename the attributes, classes, abilities, magic and add spiffy rayguns. They wouldn’t rip the game off directly, but they could definitely steal concepts to make money. Sounds like what OSR games do. Hmmm….

Plenty more to discuss next time. Thanks for letting me rant. Feeling better now. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you.

Otterkin for DCC RPG

These small creatures average 2-3′ tall. They are extremely nimble in the water and have keen senses both underwater and on land. In general they are kind and gentle in nature. They do not seek encounters with other creatures unless they appear friendly or playful. Their first reaction in most other situations is to flee to the water immediately.

This was inspired by a meme on Twitter.

I love otters!

Here’s the pic.

The Otterkin:

Init +1; Atk tiny staff -2 melee (1d3); AC 11; HD 1d4; MV 20’ Swim 30′; Act 1d20; SP infravision 100’ Keen Smell; SV Fort -2, Ref +0, Will -2; AL N.

Their native language is a series of squeeks, whistles, and chirps. Their mastery of Common is quite good in many cases even though it is rarely ever spoken above a whisper. They also have an affinity for communicating with other aquatic mammals.

These small creatures average 2-3′ tall. They are extremely nimble in the water and have keen senses both underwater and on land. In general they are kind and gentle in nature. They do not seek encounters with other creatures unless they appear friendly or playful. Their first reaction in most other situations is to flee to the water immediately.

Otterkin are often found in pairs, families of 3-7, romps of 6 or more, or villages numbering in the dozens.

Each village is led by an elder (Same stats as above except +2 Init; HD 1d6; SV Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +0)

Each village has a wise otterkin. (Can cast 1 Level 1 Cleric Spell. Heals as a Level 1 Cleric.)

Generally these creatures are non-violent and try to get along with everyone. They are extremely playful, especially in the water. Generally they wear minimal clothing and usually only trade for food and shiny trinkets. They are generous to a fault and will always attempt to accommodate friendly visitors to their tiny warrens.

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DCC or any other OSR compatible.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you!

Tankzor: A New Threat for Power Rangers RPG.

“We didn’t technically ‘build’ Tankzor. We tapped into a time/space rift and lifted it from another Earth where the Zord Alone Project succeeded. Unfortunately, we lost control of this one, too.” –General Corby

Lightning Force Rangers vs the Military. Round 3.

“We didn’t technically ‘build’ Tankzor. We tapped into a time/space rift and lifted it from another Earth where the Zord Alone Project succeeded. Unfortunately, we lost control of this one, too.” –General Corby

(Art forthcoming.)

Resilient THREAT LEVEL: 14
SIZE: Extended II/Extended II/Gigantic | HEALTH: 25
STRENGTH 15 | SPEED 15 | SMARTS *2 | SOCIAL *2
TOUGHNESS: 29 (5 Armor) | EVASION: 25
WILLPOWER: *12 | CLEVERNESS: *12
GROUND MOVEMENT: 50 ft. | RUN: 40 ft.
SKILLS:
Might +d10* Power Fists
Brawn +d12
Initiative: +d12
Targeting (*Main Gun): +d12
Stealth +d6
Pilot Tankzor: +d8*
Languages: Putty, English

PERKS:
Duranium Alloy Hull

ATTACKS:

Main Gun: (Targeting, 5x/scene): +d12*, Range 40/300 ft. (Evasion, 3 Explosive, Area, 15′ radius, Fire Damage) 360 degree vision.

Secondary Energy Cannons: +d12, Range 30/100ft; (Evasion, 2 Energy) 2 attacks per round OR 1 attack + Main Gun/Missiles.

Power Fists: +1d10, Toughness, 3 Physical Damage.

POWERS:
Super Durable.
Transformable.
Self Activated. Limited autopilot capabilities. (+d8* Piloting, Zord) Capable of defending itself and following orders if pilot is not present/unconscious.
Not attached to the Morphing Grid.
From Another Reality: If disabled, reverts to inert components unusable in Earth 129’s multiversal bubble.

Hang-ups:
Stolen from another dimension. Can’t be repaired or rebuilt on Earth 129.
No Pilot.
Triumvirate corrupted.

Rangers- the implications of this new threat are indeed disturbing. The military is in possession of a multidimensional portal device. General Corby may be working with the Triumvirate to steal technology and bring in monsters not native to our Earth. This is a very serious. We will need additional help to overcome this challenge.

Alpha- Access the Morphing Grid dimensional communications grid. Contact Billy Cranston, Blue Ranger of Earth Prime and inform him of our situation. Ask him to come here via the Morphing Grid.

Rangers- When Billy arrives, he will help us locate the Zeo Crystal. It contains power sufficient to defeat these new threats. Until then, it is up to you and your Megazord to defend Bennet’s Cove from Tankzor. Good luck. May the Power protect you.
— Zordon, Earth 129 (Lightning Force Rangers)

d12 Tables: Freaky Things Along the River Bank

Roll 1d12 when characters stop along a river or large stream.

Roll 1d12 when characters stop along a river or large stream.

  1. Dragon Turtle! It may leave you alone, or not.
  2. 2d4 Giant Crayfish. (Use lobster stats)
  3. Mud Hen? What at first appears to be a normal chicken turns out to be a cockatrice.
  4. Mud Elementals. 1d4 of them slide up to the group. Why aren’t they covered in mud yet? The elementals will soon see that they are.
  5. A small boat containing 3 small hamster-esque humanoids sails by. Disturb them at your own risk. They seem harmless enough.
  6. Dinosaur (Gm’s Choice.) How it got here is anyone’s guess. It’s thirsty.
  7. Is that a Catoblepas? A large cow-like creature larger than a giraffe with a grumpy disposition rolls in the mud and sand on the bank. If left alone, it may not take interest in the party.
  8. Nereid/Nixie. Playful water sprites or aquatic fey appear in the water.
  9. Several Beaver-esque humanoids are working hard to dam up the river nearby. Could get messy for the people downriver.
  10. Humanoids. 1. Troglodytes. 2 Lizardmen. 3. Orcs. 4. Sahuagin. 5. Hag. 6. Merfolk. 7. Trolls. 8. Hobgoblins. 9. Kobolds. 10. Elf: Aquatic. 11. Doppelganger 12. Gnolls.
  11. Green slime infestation. Several yards of the acidic green stuff along the bank.
  12. A kindly old man fishing. Could be a dragon in disguise? Could be an old wizard? Could be an angelic being of some sort? Maybe a demon? Only one way to find out. Might literally just be an elderly human who lives nearby.
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Zines.

People have come a long way from printing fanzines from their basement photocopiers or their local Kinko’s. I remember when that was a thing.

I’ve come back to this question countless times.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Will they sell? Do TTRPG fans still read magazines? Or fan zines? Anything like that?

We used to have Dragon as our number one resource for D&D. Okay, back in the golden years of Dragon, it was D&D, Marvel, Top Secret SI, Gamma World, Star Frontiers and a ton of fiction, comics and other cool stuff.

Dragon was a truly great print magazine. I still have fond memories of particular issues. Heck, I still have most of them around here in one box or another. (Pfft! My wife calls me a pack rat. Whatever…) I remember articles on bows and sword variants. The Ecologies articles were pretty cool. Marvel Phile was ahead of its time for that RPG.

Later on when WotC, Paizo, and then WotC got a hold of it again, Dragon became kinda the cheerleading mouthpiece for whatever they wanted everyone to buy next. They stopped including non D&D content altogether. The magazine began to lose its luster compared to online publications and blogs. I have the last print issue around here somewhere. <sniffle.>

Of course, Dragon has attempted more than one online reboot and is still running today as Dragon+ if I recall correctly. It is free over on the D&D site. It’s cool. Kinda reminds me of the way WotC ran print Dragon. It’s a lot of rah-rah for the newest and shiniest stuff that’s coming out. They occasionally drop some pithy interviews and other gamer stuff, too.

I could go all OG on Dragon+, but I won’t. It’s easy to be a Grognard and rail on the new stuff. “Those damn kids…” But really there’s not much point to it any more. Besides, some of this new stuff is worth checking out.

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Technically Polyhedron was the official fanzine of the Role Playing Game Association.

Ahh. The good old days…

Second only to Dragon Magazine was a lesser known publication called Polyhedron. I was a member of the RPGA back in the 1980’s and 1990’s until Wizards of the Coast took charge of it. The main draw of belonging to the organization was my monthly subscription to Polyhedron. That particular magazine offered more of an outlet to break into game writing. It was also a good source of short adventures and other crunchy gaming bits.

Some of my favorite articles in Polyhedron rarely had anything to do with D&D. Sounds strange, I know. but the articles such as a table of military unit names was really appealing to me. That little magazine dove into everything RPG and not just what T$R was running at the time, at least until later on. Not to dis the D&D content, either. There were some pretty awesome ideas for potions, magic items, character variations, dungeons. All kinds of cool stuff. I kinda miss it. (But I still have all of my back issues. 😁)

Speaking of Dungeons.

Dungeon Magazine was another popular fanzine back in the golden era of T$R and even later on. It gave us full on dungeons and modules we could run every other month. If nothing else, it was good for grabbing bits and bobs of encounters and characters. This is eventually where Polyhedron ended up. Maybe a little less newbie writer friendly, though.

Dungeon was also a playground for newer writers and accomplished T$R veterans alike. They even did things for AD&D such as Oriental Adventures modules and Battle System scenarios. Of course, the sales declined when the World Wide Web began to provide an outlet for unpublished authors and module sales in general declined a bit over time.

Print is, uh, kinda dead.

When I went to college, there was a saying going around. “Print is dead,” they’d say. It’s true to an extent. We live in a day and age when print magazines and other paper-based publications are rapidly becoming extinct.

Truly, why bother when I can carry entire volumes of books, magazines, and other publications that used to be printed on paper. I can hop on any given Internet browser and go to one of hundreds of fan sites for just about anything. My email inbox regularly contains at least one newsletter for someone or something I follow.

Things have changed a lot over the years.

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This is when I start to have doubts about zines in general. A lot of fan-based publications have popped up over the years in one form or another. I’ve seen blogs, like this one. There are any number of PDF publications. Some people put out email newsletters. I hear that Patreon thing is popular.

People have come a long way from printing fanzines from their basement photocopiers or their local Kinko’s. I remember when that was a thing. I ran articles for a little fanzine called Papyrus. Good times. Nowadays you can find almost anything those little fanzines ever offered on PDF, newsletter, or website. I’m deliberately avoiding any kind of forums or message boards.

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I occasionally read through Star Frontiersman and/or Frontier Explorer. I like to explore the blogosphere for some OSR content from time to time. There are a fantastic number of sites dedicated to Dungeon Crawl Classics and other OSR themed games. I also like to scroll around on DriveThruRPG for new (free) zines and content that interests me. There are so many options now.

I saw a couple of people on Twitter recently announce new zines.

If we’re being honest, I’ve considered it myself. I have the layout. I did that sort of thing in college. It’s a lot of fun. BUT, I have this blog. (Love you, family!)

More than that, I’m not sure how viable a zine would be financially. I encourage people to try that format out and see how it goes. A broader approach allowing for multiple systems and lots of non-gaming content besides might appeal the way Dragon and Polyhedron used to. Who knows? Maybe they’re onto something.

I want to keep my eye on these newly formed zines. I might even offer up an article or two, depending. (Probably for free or in trade for complimentary issues.) There’s a lot of potential in zines yet, but it’s also a LOT of work. I’ll be curious to see what happens.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you’re having a lovely week. I appreciate you!

Thank you for being here!

Building a Community vs Tearing Others Down.

Yeah, we have some bad actors in the TTRPG community and I’m not talking about role playing skills. I’m not naming any names. They know who they are. They know what they’ve done to get sanctioned, etc so there’s no point in me dragging their names through the mud more.

It has come to light recently that some members of the online TTRPG community tend to want to tear others down more than focusing on the good stuff.

I have to ask, “Why the hate?”

Yeah, we have some bad actors in the TTRPG community and I’m not talking about role playing skills. I’m not naming any names. They know who they are. They know what they’ve done to get sanctioned, etc so there’s no point in me dragging their names through the mud more.

However, we still have other well-meaning folx who seem determined to out and expose these same bad actors every chance possible. I have to ask again. Why?

I may sound a little preachy and I apologize in advance.

Try to keep it positive!

Again, not calling anyone specific out. If you feel compelled to act based upon what I’m saying, great. If not, well, it’s here for anyone who might need it.

We all channel energy with our intent and actions in this Universe. I am speaking as a spiritual being having a physical human experience. (This is NOT to be confused with religion. There is a difference.) IF/F all are bound by Universal Law, then the Law of Attraction dictates you receive what you are. This means you get what the vibration of your thoughts, feelings, and actions would dictate.

Aligning all of the thoughts, feelings, and actions to the greatest and highest good of all is considered a high vibrational state to move into. That’s how Jesus and The Buddha along with many other Ascended Masters were thought to operate. They brought many marvelous things into their sphere while they were on three dimensional Earth. They were thought to be friends to all and act in humanity’s best interest. (No, I’m not starting a cult.)

I’m simply trying to illustrate one of the main tenets of LoA. If you put out a lot of static regarding someone, a group of people, a company, or some other egregore then the Universe/God/Source is probably going to put something in your path that looks a lot like an obstacle or challenge in alignment with that wavelength. If the intention is negative enough, it many even lead to karma that will have to be “worked off” in other lifetimes.

Basically, you get back what you put out. Put out “bad” vibes, get the same back. Promote love, joy, understanding, peace, and prosperity and the Universe/Source/God will eventually respond in kind. Sounds easy enough. People have been doing it for centuries.

Why good vibes are important.

Again, sorry if that sounds preachy.

Focus on what lights you up!

I’m only trying to demonstrate the basic principle that if you work toward building whatever your jam is- whether that’s writing, art, gaming, sculpting, feeding the pigeons, or whatever, then you’re putting up positive waves. Right? Even if you satirize or criticize someone on video or in print for something they probably should change about themselves it’s okay. Tis a small thing and not an overall vibe. The Universe is surprisingly forgiving at times.

My point here is it is better to work on oneself and building a community in the name of the highest and greatest good of all than to repeatedly dis, trash-talk, cancel, or bash on other people. It really kind of is a What Would Jesus Do kinda thing. Or a Golden Rule moment if you prefer. (I’ve never studied Islam or Hinduism to know what their versions are.)

Basically, treat others in the way you, yourself, wish to be treated. I would hope that if I were to start acting like a -phobic, narrow-minded, bigoted ass that someone would call me out on my junk and ask me to make amends. Please do so because it is never my intent to offend based on age, gender identity, sexual preference, race, religion, creed, or politics (in some cases.)

Which is not to say we can’t have preferences.

Regular meditation helps with clarity. I really think so.

I prefer to experience fun things. I choose to game with my family. I enjoy taking naps and walks around the lake. I’d rather meditate if given a chance.

Freaky as it sounds, the Universe doesn’t understand negatives very well. So, I try to phrase things in terms of what I’d prefer to see in life. For example, “I don’t want to get hit in the head with a tire iron, ” becomes “I prefer to be safe and free from harm.” Again, nobody’s perfect. I still point things out to my kids to try to keep them safe.

I prefer to live and associate with communities that are free from hate, fear, and other negative influences. They’re still going to come up. I’m still scouring my Twitter feed for people who post racist, transphobic, homophobic, sexist, ageist comments. I simply prefer to live a peaceful existence and try to keep friends and family comfortable or safe from those things counter to my core beliefs.

It’s okay to drop a bad review sometimes.

Sometimes negative reviews can be good.

For example, if I bought a brand new suit and my wife asked me if I bought a clown costume at the party store, I’d take the suit back and try again before I ever wore it in public. Honestly can sometimes save others from a bad situation. I might drop a bad review on that suit or even the tailor in the vague hopes of saving someone else. But it’s a one and done deal.

Just because I love animals and I’m not afraid of bears doesn’t mean I want to get eaten today. I’m not giving the bear a bad review or even the park. However, I will tell friends and family not to feed wild bears because Mr Brown Bear doesn’t understand, “All out of hot dogs.”

No bears were harmed in the making of this blog.

Mr. Brown Bear does understand that a camper with no food to offer is basically a meat popsicle that screams a lot. It’s not the bear’s fault. He’s just doing what he knows and does best. Which is why we recommend not feeding bears to keep things safe for everyone. Again, that’s not the same as giving bears a bad review.

It’s okay to unapologetically state your beliefs.

I ❤ bears!

This has come up frequently in the United States since that incident with the US Supreme Court in June. (You know the one…) Stating, I believe in “X” is different that saying “everyone must believe in X” This is why I by and large vote my conscience and not by party. This is why I can’t do organized religion. This is why I’m about to have issues with the government in this country.

For a different example of this principle, I don’t care what music you listen to. You like country rap? Great. Listen to it all day, with your headphones on out it public, etc. But, if someone rolls through the neighborhood at 2:00 in the morning playing it at full volume? We’re going to have issues because I prefer other things at a different volume and the old people next door are trying to sleep. The person playing the music is forcing the issue. I’m just stating my preference. There happens to be a noise ordinance in town which is another issue entirely.

Here comes the “however.”

What I started this article about before I got a bit sidetracked, is the notion that dropping a bad review and/or stating your opinion is okay. Flogging it long after the fact? Psychologically, emotionally, and energetically the time could probably be spent in a healthier way doing things to uplift oneself and the community.

It’s okay to set it and forget it when it comes to pointing out others’ bad practices or shoddy goods. Learning to let go in LoA and with negative beliefs is okay. I’m going to come back to it again and again- do what’s best for yourself and the highest good of others.

One last thing to mention:

I will say “Thank you” for pointing out someone for acting like a psychotic, Nazi, transphobic scumbag. I’ll probably steer clear of their company and their product. Please show proof of the claim. And likewise, people should also look into the facts for themselves. If it appears to be true that X said “Y” about this group of loving, caring people over here, then yeah. Sorry. X has to go at that point.

Money is a carrier of energy. It speaks volumes in this country and most others. If there are people saying things you don’t believe in? (TTRPG community especially.) Then, please ignore their Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or whatever. It doesn’t hurt to say, “I’m not buying X’s product because of their track record with this organization that hates people.”

On the other hand, if someone does a good job, please let them know. Praise especially helps all of us writers, ttrpg community especially, know we got something right. That little pat on the back goes a long way!

Choose what makes you happy!

There still comes a point when you have done your due diligence with a person or even a topic of interest. Please, please, please friends and family- DO WHAT LIGHTS YOU UP! Choose joy, love, freedom, and prosperity. Rock your jam every day.

Please, stay safe. Stay healthy. Choose kindness toward others whenever possible.

Thanks for being here. I appreciate you a LOT! You guys are awesome!

Wolf Lord Shaman for Dungeon Crawl Classics Version 1.0

Call upon the forces from the spirit world to destroy your enemies and summon new allies.

Call upon the forces from the spirit world to destroy your enemies and summon new allies.

Alignment: N

Weapons: Dagger, Mace, Sling, Staff, Longsword, Shortsword.

Unholy Creatures: Lycanthropes, un-dead, demons, and devils.
(As a Demigod, the Wolf Lord may have less influence over more powerful creatures.)
Bonus: Clerics of the Wolf Lord may use their turning ability on any Mundane Animal to gain a neutral or favorable reaction. Such an ability can only be used on an individual creature once per day.

Example: A large bear has wandered into the group’s camp. Volkor, the cleric attempts to invoke the name of the Wolf Lord to calm the bear and discourage it from eating the group’s provisions or attacking the group. If successful, the bear will wander away. If unsuccessful, bears have to eat sometime, right? In this case, starting with Volkor.

Bonus Ability: Clerics of the Wolf Lord may pass unhindered through thick brush and other outdoor woodland terrain.

Casts spells as a normal Cleric.
New spells to follow at a later date.

The Bearowl for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

Xultich had other successes. One of the most frightening and abominable is the Bearowl. This ferocious supernatural predator combines the upper torso of a bear with the razor sharp talons and wings of an owl.

The Owlbear wasn’t Xultich’s only creation.

Xultich had other successes. One of the most frightening and abominable is the Bearowl. This ferocious supernatural predator combines the upper torso of a bear with the razor sharp talons, wings and tail feathers of a giant owl. This magical abomination lives to prey on anything made of meat.

Bearowl: Init +2; Atk bite +6 melee (1d10+2) or claw +5 melee (1d6+5 ) or talon +5 melee (1d8+5); AC 19; HD 5d8; MV 20’ or fly 30′; Act 3d20; SP spell resistance, swoop attack; SV Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +9; AL C.

If the Bearowl is in flight and lands 2 successful talon attacks in one turn on the same target, the intended victim (medium size or smaller) is lifted into the air An opposed Strength check against the Bearowl’s 20 Strength (+4) allowed once per turn wherein the target may attempt to break free. However, the Bearowl will pull the target upward and its prey may suffer falling damage. Once the Bearowl drags the victim to its nest, it will rend with bite and claw before feasting.

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(More) Hopefully better art coming soon.

Tentiklar, Threat from the Sea for Power Rangers RPG

An enormous creature lumbers into the bay of Bennett’s Cove. It’s up to the Lightning Force Rangers to turn the tide of battle and send the creature packing.

“Let me get this straight. This one’s not the Triumvirate?” –Brock, Black Lightning Force Ranger.

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Actual artwork forthcoming.

Tentiklar. Threat from the briny deep.

THREAT LEVEL: 14
SIZE: Towering HEALTH: 19 *If defeated retreats to the sea.
TOUGHNESS: 24 (+2 Tough Hide.) | EVASION: 19
WILLPOWER: 10 | CLEVERNESS: 10
GROUND MOVEMENT: 15 ft. WATER MOVEMENT: 40 ft.
SKILLS:
Targeting +d8
Brawn +d8
Might (Melee) +d10*
Languages: Common (?)
ATTACKS:
Eye Beams(Targeting): +d8, Range 90 ft.
(Evasion, 2 Fire Damage)
Tentikar projects blue rays from his eyes that burn through whatever they hit.

Ink Jets (Targeting): +d8, Range 30 ft.(30 ft x 30 ft Area, Poison 1, Temporary blindness. Evasion)
Tentiklar shoots ink from special ports in his belly 2/scene

Tentacle Arms (Might): Up to 6 attacks per turn. +d10*, Reach 30 ft.
(Toughness, 2 Blunt Damage each.)
Tentiklar uses his vine-like arms to batter his enemies. Instead of inflicting Damage, he may alternatively choose to grapple the target.

If defeated, Tentiklar breaks off from his attack and retreats to the deep ocean to regenerate 1 lost Health per day.

Non Player Characters: Everyone’s Best Friends.

Otherwise, their NPC druid becomes disposable. Sanji the loveable pack bearer runs off in the night with a bag of magic items and is never seen again. They let poor Jamir walk down the hallway and find all the traps for them. (Grim, I know.)

One of my favorite keys to a good adventure for many, many years has been memorable Non Player Characters that stick with the party.

Some of my favorite NPCs were introduced sometime around the first few sessions. I try to make them endearing enough (or healers) that the group will want them to stick around. Some rely on cuteness. (Cute goes a long way around here.) Others rely on a shtick like roguish charm or comedy relief.

I often go out of my way to obtain or read copies of various GM guides and how-to-GM literature. I watch Roll 4 Initiative as well as How To Be A Great GM on YouTube when I can. Back in my day before we had the World Wide Interwebs, we read a lot of books on the subject. Johnn Four’s NPC Essentials. (Available on Johnn’s website or DriveThruRPG.) There also used to be this neat thing in print called “Dragon Magazine” that many of us read for articles on good DM skills, including NPC development.

Having a solid stable of NPCs can be a real game changer.

Sometimes you just have to try.

If you’re a new DM/GM, please don’t panic! I can rely on a massive heap of characters, lists of NPCs, and a long history of running games. You don’t have to! It’s okay. There are so many tools at your disposal for creating NPC names, generating random personality traits, and even background generators out there. They’re easy to find and sometimes built into the various VTT platforms if you’re using one.

You don’t have to have a heap of combat statistics and skills listed for every character. If they’re going to get in a fight pick one or two things they might be good at and have them do it. Sometimes that might be hiding under the nearest tree or rock until the end of the fight.

Contrary to what some actual play podcasts would have you believe, you don’t have to be a trained voice actor or a master of improv. You’re fine as long as the group knows which character is speaking. It won’t hurt to try different tones of voice and rates of speech. A little experimentation won’t hurt. But if your group is cool, you don’t have to. As long as everyone is comfortable with it, you can do a lot of things at the gaming table or not, depending on your preference.

NPCs are an incredible role-playing tool on so many levels.

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Sometimes interactions with NPCs can make or break a campaign. NPCs are so useful for sparking conversations, getting the group back on track, lightening up the mood, or dropping subtle yet valuable clues or hints. Sometimes NPCs remain a topic of discussion long after the session has ended. (I’m enough of a method actor that I’ve had to drop into an NPC from something I ran and then go through all kinds of crazy stuff in character. It’s a hoot.)

NPCs are also helpful if the group is arguing amongst themselves and have come to a stalemate on a decision they have to make. A well-respected, stable NPC can sometimes settle the argument by making a neutral third suggestion the group didn’t consider, suggest a compromise, or tip the balance and get the group moving again. Other NPCs traveling with the group might be a source of quests. Or sometimes they put themselves in harm’s way and need to be rescued.

It all hinges on how much the NPC has endeared themselves to the players. Otherwise, their NPC druid becomes disposable. Sanji the loveable pack bearer runs off in the night with a bag of magic items and is never seen again. They let poor Jamir walk down the hallway and find all the traps for them. (Grim, I know.) The barmaid that is secretly a princess fails to convince the group to go to the next town to confront the bandit king.

All the advice books and articles aside, sometimes you just have to play through these things.

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I’m taking one of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever heard and turning it into a good practice. You can write down all kinds of information, history and stats on your NPCs. You can have all kind of plot hooks and diabolical plans made for the Warlock NPC to introduce. But if you can’t earn the party’s trust after the first encounter or two, does it do you any good?

Likewise, you can have a completely innocuous goblin randomly sitting in the corner of the tavern with nothing much more than a description and that’s the one the group latches onto and tries to get acquainted with. My point with this is: you have to know your group.

Quick fix for the above examples? Switch the plot hooks, some of the history, etc from the Warlock over to the seemingly harmless goblin “farmer.” OR have the goblin be the Warlock’s henchman. The group will never know what went on behind the scenes. OR have the goblin farmer be completely harmless, give her a name, and have the group meet her every time she comes to town.

If the group sees the plot wagon coming, some players will go out of their way to derail it. I’ve had this happen a couple of times when it was obvious the NPC was going to be with the party for a while. The sad part was both times the hapless, helpless NPC really was as innocent and cute as she seemed. The group just took their vanquished foes’ disdain as her being some kind of threat.

Once you build up a series of personality traits in your mind, it’s easier to drop a random NPC into any situation. I keep a list of names handy and then cross them off or make a note of who I used them for. It also makes for good roleplaying to know what kinds of characters are likely to build report with the PCs and who/what they’ll likely avoid if possible.

Sometimes it’s also fun to give the group something they need in an NPC package they don’t necessarily want.

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Opposites sometimes attract and other times annoy. But what if the group really needs something like gold to rez a friend or the unending favor of the Lord of Waterdeep? Suddenly that pain in the butt might be the group’s favorite character they love to hate.

Likewise, the really loving, caring, devoted cleric of the group might look a lot less friendly when they find out her father is known as the Butcher Baron of Barlow (not for his meat cutting skills.) NPC entanglements are so much fun to play out. They can be a wonderful diversion from the main plot for a session or two.

Good things can come to an end.

The amount of effort you put into an NPC can sometimes be exceptionally rewarding. However, one piece of advice I’ve always thought highly of stated, “don’t be afraid to kill a beloved NPC.” That “NPC” stamp on their forehead might mean a lot of things, but unkillable sure isn’t one of them.

Sometimes people leave from our lives in the real world, too. Not because of death necessarily. Sometimes an NPC outlives their usefulness. NPC’s are people too, so to speak. They fall in love and get married. They decide to pursue other career options. Sometimes they get tired of hauling loot around for the party and run off in the middle of the night with everything.

The heel turn.

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Poor Sir Allen.

Which brings me to another point. Many of us have had an experience at some point where an NPC turned out to be the diametric opposite in alignment and abilities. That innocent, sweet young elven lady that always followed the party’s druid around turns out to be a disguised succubus. Jamir the porter who was rescued from a dungeon several adventures back is actually a doppelganger. Oh, and that kindly old merchant on the corner is the head of the local assassin’s guild. Sorry.

The players have mixed reactions all over the table. Usually it’s raucous laughter. Some get a little miffed at the GM/DM. Some are a bit sad that their favorite NPC just can’t possibly be so evil. Sometimes there’s even hideous regret depending on the relationship between the character and the turncoat NPC.

Much like pro wrestling, where the term comes from, a heel turn can be a lot of fun. But please don’t overuse it! The first one is a hoot. But then the players are going to trust the NPCs a lot less for a while going forward. And every time someone starts getting interested in an NPC, there’s going to be the inevitable retelling of, “Remember the time Sanji ran off with all of our magical loot in the middle of the night?” Or, “Remember when Sir Allen’s girlfriend turned out to be a succubus?”

Be ready to write!

One last tip I like to give to any writer, especially GMs/DMs, is be ready to write down inspiration when it strikes. Carry a notebook, pad of paper, and a pen or pencil pretty much everywhere you go. That way when you meet someone who inspires you or if sudden inspiration hits during a movie, you can write it down. I once wrote down an NPC idea on a restaurant napkin with the waitress’ pen. (Luckily it wasn’t about her.)

As I mentioned above, it doesn’t have to be a full stat block, background, and everything else. Don’t write about a character’s lightning shaped birthmark if no one is ever going to see it. A first name, maybe gender, 3-6 personality traits and the reason the character is significant is all you really need. You can usually fill in the rest later.

Another NPC generation method I’ve employed in the past is to let the group create 1-3 characters for use as NPCs. Sometimes you get real gold. Other times you get real, uh what’s the opposite of gold? BUT if life gives you turds, plant flowers in them. (Okay, that was gross but better than making turd-ade.) You can always rework and reword the worst of a bad batch of NPCs into something useful.

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Wow! we covered a lot of ground today. Would you believe there may be a Part 2 to this article? I had so much fun discussing this topic.

Thanks for stopping by. Please give yourself a pat on the back if you made it this far. Thank you! See you tomorrow.



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