Wizards of the Coast Invites Creators.

The OGL Scandal of 2023 continues as Bob World Builder gets an email invitation to the first ever Content Creator Summit; a gathering of elite, cherry-picked YouTubers who talk about D&D. They get to hang out at WotC HQ, meet with the team, and eat on the company’s dime. Woot! Who wouldn’t want to go?

On March 8th, Bob World Builder received an invitation to the first ever “Content Creator Summit.”

Here’s Bob’s video in case you are wondering.

I gotta say, I’m pretty jealous. I mean, who doesn’t love to be wined and dined by a large corporation? Who wouldn’t want to go and hobnob with the D&D creative staff and/or the “Creator Relations Team” as they’re now calling it? Bob is right. The chance is too awesome to pass up.

I’m sure Bob won’t be the only one. Ginny Di is no stranger to WotC HQ. I wouldn’t be surprised if the other Kyle Brink interviewers get to go. I suspect Guy from How to Be a Great GM will be there given he’s basically on WotC’s payroll already. There will probably be a few other guests we don’t know about yet. Good for them, eh?

If WotC truly wants to get to know the whole community, they’re still not trying hard enough.

Obviously I’m just a guy with a blog. I have a small, but loveable number of readers. (*I love you all.) I’m pretty sure if Wizards decided they wanted to fly me out to Washington where I’ve always wanted to visit, put me up in a nice hotel, fed me, and let me hang out? I wouldn’t have to think twice. My suitcase is already packed. I’d even start a YouTube channel just for them.

We all know it’s not likely to happen. It’s kind of a shame they’re only limiting themselves to YouTubers so far. Does WotC know their fanbase extends beyond YouTube and Twitter? Obviously they never read my blog. (Prove me wrong. I DARE you!) In fact, my guess is they ignore the blogosphere and the hundreds of articles written about them the same way they pretty much ignore conventions.

If they were doing everything right, the Creator Summit would be completely superfluous and unnecessary.

I’ll echo the sentiment of a few others. If WotC was still sending a team to conventions and mingling with us peasants, they wouldn’t have to wonder what the TTRPG community thinks of them and some of their nonsense. People are dreadfully honest at conventions sometimes. WotC might actually *gasp* hear something “negative” about what they’re doing. (I think I just heard half of Kyle Brink’s team pee their pants in fright just now.)

Honestly, I don’t handle criticism well, either. I get it. For a dude with kind of a big ego, I really am pretty fragile and sensitive when it comes to criticism. Gonna have that chat with my therapist later again today. So I get it that WotC doesn’t want to hear the critiques of thousands of fans.

On the other hand, WotC is a large, faceless, unfeeling corporate entity under the thumb of an even larger, scummier corporation. We don’t really see much of a human face on anything they do despite the dozens of names in the credits. They’re only as good as the McPropaganda Kyle Brink is told to spew by the PR people. (Yeah, someone has to pick on Kyle a little. Mercer can tell you I’m a big softie, though. LOL!)

WotC can handle a bad review. They aren’t going to go belly up if a sourcebook or adventure flops. (All three core books selling like it was 4E all over again might be bad?) It’s like WotC has no concept of what it was like when they were starting out. This new team of leaders seems pretty daft when it comes to the history of their own products, much less the history of the hobby. Tis truly sad.

I’d run D&D in a castle if WotC asked.

I’d contribute to their books. Heck, if they want to send me a check, I’ll never speak about them again if that’s what they wanted. And mind you, I’m the guy that completely holds contempt and loathing for large corporations. I guess I can dream. I’ve said many times how cool it would be to actually work on official D&D content. Or any game, really.

Seriously. I want to be a game designer when I grow up. Please, pay me to write cool stuff for your game. Any roleplaying game, really. No joking. I’d love to have paid projects, convention visits, give interviews, write magazine articles, and so on. They’d probably have to tranquilize me and drag me out of the office at night. Security would have to boot me out of the hotel at the end of conventions.

Isn’t that sort of the definition of “dedicated fan?” Isn’t that sorta what being a content creator for D&D is all about? Honestly I haven’t published anything on DMsGuild or DriveThruRPG yet. In fact I’m not printed anywhere yet. I’m too fussy about my own work and there are attachment issues. (Talking to therapist about OCD and attachment disorder. 😅) It’s going to happen someday, though.

Am I any less dedicated? No. Am I any less of a content creator? No. Trust me, my filing cabinets, folders, and Word files attest to my content creation efforts.

WotC doesn’t get it. There are thousands, maybe over a million fans out there that actually do appreciate them and want to see them do well. We wouldn’t be critical of their efforts if we didn’t care and just wanted them to fail. WotC execs and designers would know that if they’d come down out of their corporate tower and mingled with non-corporate people for a change. But D&D Executive Producer Kyle Brink says he actually plays the game, so they must have some sort of clue what they’re doing. Right?

I’m going to send WotC an email.

Will it get anywhere or be seen by anyone before it gets deleted? Not holding my breath, but I’ll keep you posted. I want Wizards of the Coast to understand that they need to speak with more than just a cherry-picked cadre of YouTubers who are going to probably going to tell them what they want to hear. It’s readily apparent there are plenty of people in the corporate office who believe the WotC narrative. How about inviting some truly objective non-YouTube fans?

Where’s the rest of the “community,” WotC? Legit question. I want to know. Who else has Kyle Brink spoken to outside of YouTube? Anybody?

I promise I’ll be nice. I have gone this whole article without saying one four/five letter word or calling anyone specific by my nicknames for them. It’s been a challenge, but I made it.

Wish me luck. Thanks for stopping by. More on this situation as it develops.

Mutated Monsters Review

The writers of Mutated Monsters went all out when it comes to creepy in this book. The art is amazing and just adds to the feeling of dread players will have when dealing with some of these creatures. It was like the writers took an average 5E monster and asked, “What kind of creature can we merge this with to make it nightmare fuel?”

5E Compatible Sourcebook from Dice Dungeons.

Wayyy back in 2021 when I still had gainful employment, I backed a book from Dice Dungeons called Mutated Monsters. Link to the Kickstarter here. I have not seen this book available commercially yet outside of Kickstarter and DriveThruRPG.

Link to the book on DriveThruRPG HERE.

It took Dice Dungeons a while to get these books out to the backers. The wait was totally worth it and we did get the pdfs well ahead of the printed material. I suspect a lot of the printing and shipping delays were a mish-mash of Covid, cargo ships stuck sideways, shortages, etc. They did the best they could getting it out to us.

Nightmare fuel to make your 5E players shudder.

The writers of Mutated Monsters went all out when it comes to creepy in this book. The art is amazing and just adds to the feeling of dread players will have when dealing with some of these creatures. It was like the writers took an average 5E monster and asked, “What kind of creature can we merge this with to make it nightmare fuel?”

I was excited about this from some of the social media ads that Digital Dice ran prior to the Kickstarter. The mutated rat shown was enough to convince me to add this to my already large collection of 5E monster books. If a regular rat was made this terrifying, imagine what they could do to a T Rex or a Kraken? <shudder>

A few highlights.

This is a list of the things that stood out to me, but there is much more worth digging into on these pages.

  • Animated Topiary. I was overjoyed to see this monster return to 5E because it was one of my favorites from an old 3E supplement.
  • Annhilator Worm. It’s a Purple Worm, only made more Kaiju and harder to kill. This is one most adventurers are going to be able to just hack down. If low or mid level characters see one, their best bet really is to run away. The artwork alone is intimidating on top of the lore. The stat block almost seems superfluous.
  • Arachin. <shudder> Spider + animal, humanoid or other monster. Yeesh. I mean, awesome for a dungeon I’m working on, but definitely creepy.
  • Behir Mastermind. Let’s take something that was fearsome on it’s own and give it an oversized brain, some innate spells that resemble psionics on top of its usual Behir abilities. Frightening at any level. The art for this monster stands out.
  • Bulette variants. Amazing artwork. Absolutely devastating to run into either one. If properly combined with terrain or other monsters, either of these variations could spell doom for many adventurers. Why the wasp? (Cries for the PCs.)
  • Cockatrice of the Burning Sands. Thinly veiled Dark Sun reference? Maybe? Cool creature nonetheless. Beware ye caravans of the desert sands for ye may not return. Really would work in Athas.
  • Cricket Panther. Terrifying and strange. Definitely not something to underestimate. Fabulous art on this one.
  • Dragon, Mechanical. As the name suggests, a clockwork not to be underestimated.
  • Dragon, Vampiric. A writer after my own heart created this. I ran something similar in a 3.5E dungeon once. Ah, fond memories and now there’s a 5E version that can maybe get the job done.
  • Iron Aboleth. They took one of the most intimidating aquatic monsters (with psionics) and made it a huge construct. Because it wasn’t hard enough to kill before?
  • Naga, Scorpion. I gotta find me a way to work one of these things into a dungeon strictly for the intimidation value. Spells + multiattack + poison (OMG the poison…) + Lair actions = crazy dangerous.
  • Nature Guardian. Serious Princess Mononoke vibes on this one.
  • Owlbear, Fire Breathing. Hats off to whomever came up with this one. It rocks.
  • Remorhaz, Crystal. Another one of my absolutely favorite creatures made more deadly and far harder to kill. Oh, and more dangerous in its home environment than ever before. Great art all throughout the book. The picture for the Crystal Remorhaz is excellent.
  • Star Kraken. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water after seeing the Shipwreck Whale, there’s this Chaotic Evil CR 25 Titan. I can scarcely describe the amounts of damage this thing is capable of doing. Truly frightening.
  • Starved Lich. Because the well-fed kind weren’t undead enough? Interesting concept for many a DM’s favorite monster. It’s a soul vampire on top of all of the undead and spellcasting a lich would normally have.
  • Troll, Translucent. They turn invisible. They play pranks. Plus troll.
  • Turtle Shark. This book excels at giving me reasons to never put one of my own characters on a boat ever again. Megalodon with a shell. Abandoning ship is just like throwing fish food in the water for it.
  • Ventriloquist Snake. This particular danger noodle is capable of ruining an entire day’s travel for a group if encountered on the road.
  • Xorn, Flytrap. At least they’re not super aggressive. They lure unsuspecting adventurers in with the promise of a shiny jewel then slurp them down like a Venus Flytrap with a house fly.

These are just a smattering of the ones that stood out to me as a DM and a monster collector. I really have to say how much I really love the art for this book. It truly makes the creatures in this book come to life.

Another sweet, sweet feature of Mutated Monsters is the “Additional Loot” on many of the monsters. Look. You can make a +1 dagger out of this creature’s horn. You can use this creature’s scales for a Potion of Invisibility, etc. It’s so cool that they took the time out to put these little tidbits in the book. I wish Wizards of the Coast, with their overpaid writing team, would learn to do the same. But, hey, at least they let the indie creators do all the fun stuff.

It’s not just cool creatures.

There are some pretty epic lairs in this book, too. We like to talk about Lair Actions in D&D, but how often do we get cool lairs to go with them. This is enhanced further by each lair having regional effects and additional actions available to the lair’s owner or denizens. My favorite is the Demon’s Castle. It’s pretty much certain doom for adventurers before the proper dungeon is even built.

The Alterkin and new subclasses.

The Alterkin are shapeshifters of sorts and offer the only new Ancestry available to the players. There are also new subclasses for the Barbarian, Bard, Monk, and Ranger. My only criticism here is I wish there had been more options for this section. There is a lot of room for development of Clerics, Fighters, Paladins, and Warlocks. It felt like the creators ran out of time or energy in this section.

New mounts and new deities.

There are several mount possibilities throughout the book and toward the end there is a new taming system and more mounts. What character wouldn’t want to bond with a Sabertooth Rhino? Clockwork Elephant would be a pretty shiny cool mount if a character were to harness one.

The Gods of Mutation section is well crafted. I think it might take some work on the part of the DM to fit them into a preexisting pantheon such as Forgotten Realms. But if the DM is going to use some of the more profoundly frightening creatures in this book, why not have a god or demigod to go with them?

Wrapping up.

I’m happy and grateful to have backed this Kickstarter. The book is a good investment for game systems beyond 5E. I would recommend it for Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics as well as Pathfinder. It’s also easily adapted to any number of other fantasy settings in order to really challenge the characters. It might also be useful for throwing those know-it-all players for a loop once they get the regular Monster Manual memorized.

In conclusion, I have high praise for Mutated Monsters. Please check it out if you get a chance. Thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

Campaign World Design Diary Day 1.

Imagine the perfect world, heaven, Utopia, paradise. Now, picture it descending from that state down into the world of 13th or 14th century Earth. It seems like the change happened almost overnight. Now your character must cope with this frightening new reality.

Game stats be damned. Full speed ahead.

I’ve decided I’m going to stop ruminating on which system to use and just do the thing. Tentatively it’s going to be a Cypher System Game. The first few days of this project are going to be a massive lore dump, anyway. System doesn’t matter when we’re just writing some basic fiction and creating a setting bible.

My goal here is not to give too much of the setting away as I am planning on selling this thing. It’s part labor of love and part loving detachment. Part of the reason I think many of us have so many unfinished projects is because sometimes it’s hard to release something into the world after we’ve spent so much effort to make it cool. This series of articles is to share some of my thoughts about the design process and why I did some of the things I did. Maybe it will help a fellow Game Master/Dungeon Master somewhere along the way.

Starting premises. What is the 5th Dimension?

(*Apologies in advance. This first part is pretty esoteric.) Simply put: the 5th Dimension is a realm currently ascended and evolved compared to the one we live in here in the real world. Some believe it is a higher frequency, higher vibrational realm that overlaps the one we’re in now.

When people talk about the 5th dimension, one hears of great crystalline cities in the sky. Everyone has the ability to create or manifest anything they desire almost instantly in most cases. There is no toil or suffering. Beings are free to come and go as they please and get around by thought. Pleasurable endeavours such as art, music, literature, poetry, theatre, and dance are emphasized.

There is no need for currency. Everyone’s basic needs are met or manifested automatically as not to cause discomfort. It’s a Utopian vision of heaven. Every day is sunny and pleasant. There is no war, sickness, hate, lack or death. No worries, ever. Just thought, creativity, peace and comfort.

Picture a world where you can have any super power you could ever want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. *Not that anyone would ever dream of hurting anyone. There is literally no need to do so, ever. No governments, banks, currency or jobs to go to. Sounds wonderful, huh?

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

Nothing that perfect can ever stay that way.

Now, imagine what would happen if an enormous 5D world came crashing down gently into a 4D/3D state such as we see in most fantasy TTRPGs. What would that look like? What happens when an entire generation or two on this world live through a change from a perfect world to the one that existed on the real Earth in the 1300-1400s in Europe.

Imagine what a shock it would be to one’s system to go from manifesting a perfect dwelling out of the Earth itself to having to live in a crude wooden structure with a thatch roof. Imagine going from never being hungry to having to be a maid making just enough coins to buy bread on a given day. Imagine being friends with animals and trees only to find out they’ve changed. The trees are not as much a companion as a resource. The animals are doing terrible things to one another. (By eating smaller animals for sustenance for example.)

Survival became a major concern for the beings. Animals began attacking people. This was very confusing because the beings had always been friends with all in their surroundings. The split became more divisive as time came to a slower crawl. Some animals came to life as monstrous beasts. Soon creatures known as giants, dragons, hydras, and ogres roamed the land.

Courtesy of Openverse.

It’s all about the beings.

The most difficult part of the descent into this harsh physical realm for many is remembering the reality of being true, timeless, peaceful light and not being able to return to it. A veil of forgetfulness fell upon the physical plane for most. Beings on the spirit plane escaped this veil. Spirits of the plants and earth remember all too well which is why they speak very slowly and lovingly. The fae retained their own metaphysical corner of the new world, as did dragons.

Harsh new reality extended to some beings. They became twisted, evil, cruel, and inhumane in exchange for the powers on the 3D plane. They called themselves the “Old Ones.” Creatures from a much darker, negative space called “demons” and “devils” began to portal into the new world as it became solid. Other beings that came down from the 5D space were almost immediately subjugated or destroyed.

Destruction or death is such a double edged sword for the beings that descended from the higher plane. Most don’t remember the 5D realm They ALL return to 5D, but some choose to come back to experience these short, “mortal” lives all over again. Many choose different roles and agree to “forget” their immortal powers for a time in the mortal realm beforehand.

Fortunately, some remember a portion of their amazing abilities from before the descent. Some are gifted with what others would learn to call “magic.” It is strange and almost painful for those who still remember the higher realm. The descent was a massive blur. But they can still speak with the spirits and channel amazing energies.

Here’s where the TTRPG part comes in.
Courtesy of Openverse.

Your character is either one who remembers, or one who has come back with a tiny fraction of the divine power they once held. Your character could also be one of the ones born to the 3D reality who has managed to adapt physically to the harsh, brutal, new existence. Some are just born to explore.

All of the characters are Human. No one has ever seen or heard of Elf, Dwarf, or Gnome. Most beings have never run across the fae, the spirits, giants, or any negative entities. Stories of powerful beings circulate, but few have actually encountered one. The characters know they exist, along with the treasure they might happen to guard or secrets they might remember. (Cyphers.)

However, the PCs are like a magnet to the unnatural, unusual, and paranormal experiences of the world. The planet is enormous. Settlements are scattered far and wide. Riches and artifacts lie buried in cairns, caches, and even dungeons from the time before the descent. There is an enormous amount of land to explore outside of the village where the group starts out.

Other beings.

There are rumors floating around about beings trapped in their divine, Luminal forms. Some might be severely disturbed by the Great Descent, unable to process the crash into a plane of time and gravity. These beings might appear as Titans, demigods, or something much more malevolent if encountered.

Wow! Covered a lot of ground with not a lot of TTRPG stuff mentioned. This planet has existed in my head for so long, it’s almost like living there. Putting it all down on paper is like downloading a novel.

Thanks for stopping by. Much more to come. Have a great day.

The Pathfinder Dilemma.

Three different worlds potentially in the works. But which system? Create my own? Open Game License content? Which system to govern how dice are rolled and when.

I find myself at a bit of a crossroads.

I like Pathfinder 2E. It’s a solid system, as many have pointed out. I think most of us are burned out on Dungeons & Dragons 5E at this point following the OGL debacle in January and the Kyle Brinks Apology Tour 2023. I realize most of this affects creators, but every GM/DM is a creator in some regards. We create material.

*Side note: Kyle, buddy, I know you don’t read my blog. But, if you ever did, I’d tell you to STOP TALKING TO YOUTUBERS! All you’re doing is digging the hole deeper, my friend. Your comments about “old white dudes need to be fleeing the hobby” and “Dark Sun is too problematic,” are just making a case for boycotting anything you ever do again. Just stop.

I backed off of 5E a while back because the official material was kind of a turn off, One D&D is coming, and I was getting burned out. I turned to the OSR, maybe rightfully so. That’s where I cut my teeth on gaming and there’s a lot of good product out there. (*Certain OSR creators’ attitudes leave a lot to be desired, though.) I got back into Dungeon Crawl Classics and Basic D&D again. I still have everything I need to run Pathfinder 2E.

I’ve got two fantasy campaign settings I want to develop and at third kind of brewing in the back of my mind. The catch has always been finding a system I like that doesn’t have a specific setting attached. Maybe I’m too picky, but if I want to publish an entire world project and get paid for it, I have to be picky.

It’s not the game system for Pathfinder 2E that I take issue with at all.

Pathfinder 2E is to D&D 5E what Pathfinder 1E is to D&D 3.5 and 4E. It fixes and streamlines all of the bugs in the system. PF2E is like ordering from the gourmet menu at an upscale restaurant. 5E is like McDonald’s- corporatized, generic, and somewhat bland in comparison.

I have a ton of 5E Third Party content that is absolutely brilliantly written. I collect monster supplements for just about any game like a fiend. I seriously have a hard time saying no to a new monster book. They’re like candy.

Hi, My name is Jeff. I admit I have an addiction to monster books.

The good news is all of that tasty 5E material does convert into PF2E fairly well. Pathfinder is a solid, well written system. My poor wallet is praying it doesn’t blossom into the massive library of titles that PF1E had. The completist in me couldn’t handle it. #OCDsucks. But the number of books is not my issue, either.

Unless something has changed, PF2E (paid) creators are limited to Golarion or generic fantasy.

With the OGL flap and the ORC License coming, this may all change. Golarion is a good campaign setting. (Tian Xia is coming. Droool…) Kingmaker is kinda the Birthright setting revival I always wanted for 5E. Here’s my thing- Golarion isn’t my campaign world.

I’ve had two or three D&D campaign worlds running around in my head for decades. (My mind is a crowded place sometimes.) The stuff I want to make- really write setting books, class adaptations, even fiction to sell do not fit in Golarion at all.

I’m not joking. I have one campaign setting in my notes that has changed game systems upwards of nine times? Yeesh. I didn’t realize how crazy it was. The thing fits into three different subgenres quite nicely, so it’s a tough call. The really sad part is, the campaign exists on paper and not, um… okay I haven’t run it yet. (*At least I’m living in my own basement. Ha!)

But could the above campaign fit into the Pathfinder 2E system? Absolutely. But, then I’d have to treat it as “generic fantasy” That means my map would go out the window along with a ton of lore, NPCs, and other staple concepts that make the game unique.

Not another game system…

Every game designer in the TTRPG sphere is faced with the same challenge. Use an existing (OGL, ORC License, etc) system, create a brand new system and test it, squish it under “generic,” OR fit it into an existing campaign world like Forgotten Realms. If you want to use Dungeon Crawl Classics for example, Goodman Games is easy to work with, their game is beautiful. However, if you want to use the DCC engine, you also have all of the hiccups and restrictions that come with the gods and magic rules, too.

None of my fantasy campaign campaign concepts directly overlay onto DCC, PF2E, or 5E campaign worlds as written. Not to mention all three systems are based on D&D rules. (I know, 5E.) Which means all three games, while different and unique, all have some of the same drawbacks when it comes to combat, vehicles, character advancement, classes, etc.

The TTRPG market is soon going to be absolutely flooded with new game systems and settings. Wizards of the Coast dug themselves a hole with the OGL. Several hundred people took note and began cranking out their own game including me.

I like to say there’s room for everybody.

Unfortunately, we’re dealing with a capitalist system. This means potentially dozens of Kickstarters, new systems to learn, and new worlds to explore. Money is a limited resource in our economy. While I love learning new games, I can’t afford to buy them all.

Needless to say, creating one’s own new game system might not be amazingly profitable right now. At least we’ll be able to license a new TTRPG world with little to no difficulty at all now as long as it uses a specific ruleset. So, where does that leave me and my three campaign worlds?

I’m thinking about putting my notes for the one world back on the shelf. Campaign B will fit into Cypher and Godforsaken covered a lot of ground necessary for that world that maybe I can do it. Campaign C is probably going to be “generic” fantasy or possibly 5E. At least it’s adaptable.

Thank you for stopping by and listening to me rant. LOL! I do appreciate you. So much to do. At least I’m more coherent today.

Taking a day off.

*Please note I was so tired when I wrote this initial blog entry, it was incoherent. I apologize profusely. The brain fog/fatigue won that round.

Brief personal share. My hearing for Social Security is coming up this week. I’m kinda freaking out. It’s been a bumpy couple of months already this year. Oof.

*Please note I was so tired when I wrote this initial blog entry, it was incoherent. I apologize profusely. The brain fog/fatigue won that round. I’ve gone through and edited this entire post to make it sound like I was at least awake when I wrote it. Sorta.

Thank you for your support. You are all the best audience a guy could dream of. Thank you!

Be back tomorrow. Maybe I”ll have good TTRPG stuff to talk about. Thanks again for stopping by.

Three More Alternatives to Dungeons & Dragons.

I’m writing this series of articles because I want to put some fresh, Non-D20, Non-Wizards of the Coast OGL, fun fantasy RPGs in front of people.

Continuing our series on Fantasy RPGs.

I’m writing this series of articles because I want to put some fresh, Non-D20, Non-Wizards of the Coast OGL, fun fantasy RPGs in front of people. Many of them, not all, have creative commons sharealike licensing. However, I’m not a lawyer. Please check with the company and/or legal counsel before proceeding to create paid content for someone else’s game. Thank you!

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game

Warhammer Fantasy Role Play First Edition. The way I remember it.

Published by: Cubicle 7 Games
Full Confession. I’ve been running Warhammer FRPG since high school. I still have my copies of the first two editions sitting on my shelf. I might be just a little biased on this one. I think it’s a great game on top of being a fun and fast system.

I find it interesting that the Fourth Edition cover is very reminiscent of the First Edition cover of this book. I really like the art associated with Warhammer and the RPGs under their banner. Say what you want about Games Workshop, but they do put out some very nice looking products.

The biggest draws for me in this game are the character generation, a rich world environment, and a sort of break from the traditional Dwarf + Elf + Human in a party and they all manage to get along somehow. It is actually somewhat rare in WHFRP to see a group that includes anything other than humans and maybe one of the other races in any given party especially if you roll random at character creation.

Fourth Ed has all of the chunky, crunchy, meaty awesomeness I remember from back when. Fair warning: combat can end in immediate and horrible critical hits. Magic is likewise not without complications. Psychology is… um, a thing.

The world of Warhammer is filled with monsters, cults, Chaos, Skaven (Rat folk,) and all manner of interesting characters. Some NPCs are good, some bad, and lots of gray area built into lots of situations. Heck, even the Human politics can be sticky. Campaigns can range from campy and comedic to serious horror with Machiavellian intrigue.

Index Card Roleplaying Game

Published by: Runehammer Games

I’ve been playing Index Card RPG for several years now on and off. Anyone who truly knows me is aware of the fact that I won’t shut up about this game. (LOL!) And thank you, Hankerin Ferinale, for making a Print On Demand of the Masters version! I mean yay hardcover, but it’s a bit pricey.

I’ve been rocking ICRPG since Second Edition came out. The characters literally can fit on an index card. It’s that rules lite. Combat works either theatre of the mind or on the banana scale with minis. (You just have to see it.) Magic, exploration, even dungeons for fantasy worlds are streamlined. This game is amazing!

Fantasy is great straight out of the book, but ICRPG covers other genres nicely as well. I’ve drawn up two different worlds for this game if I ever get to run them. (They’re kinda specific.) But right out of the ICRPG book, one can run everything including Science Fantasy, Mecha, Supers, Horror, Wild West and much more. It does it all pretty well.

As a bonus, D&D players will recognize the basis of the system and character creation only ICRPG does it all faster and slightly better. It’s the perfect game for folx who like Old School games or want to just jump in and start playing. It’s an intuitive system to run built by a designer who knows how to run a game. (Seriously, you should see his Actual Play stuff.)


Published by: Runehammer Games

If ICRPG is a Runehammer masterpiece, EZ D6 is the work of art that lives up to the standard. I’ve written a larger review of this game and I still stand by it. This game is such a breeze to run, I’d be tempted to use it as a teaching tool for new Rabble Rousers. (*The term for Game Master in EZ D6.) The physical book is small and very portable.

Anything you’d ever want to do with an RPG, you can probably do with EZ D6. It’s so rules lite, the RR and Pushers-and-Shovers (*Player Characters) will be doing a lot of discussing what happens vs just rolling a skill check. The system itself begs for customization, but it doesn’t actually need anything but imagination. It’s almost too easy.

I also think EZ D6 is a fabulous jumping-off point for more advanced games such as the Cypher System, Savage Worlds, ICRPG, or even Cortex. On the other hand, players would also likely be comfortable with ICONS, FATE, D6, and the dozens of other games that run off of Six-Sided Dice. Old School gamers are also going to be at home in this system because of its simplicity and heavy reliance on describing one’s actions.

Thanks for stopping by. It’s been fun. I appreciate you. Have fun. See ya later.

Marching Forth.

March is going to be super crazy for me and my family. Lots of TTRPG plans in the works, too. Creativity is in the air.

Some very big days ahead this month for me personally, my family, and the site.

I have a ton of stuff going on this month here at home. Let’s pray it all goes smoothly? There’s also a very special day coming up in blog history if everything goes well.

My SSDI hearing is this month. Please send good vibes on March 7th? Thank you. It’s going to be kinda tense. Lots riding on it. We made it this far.

What happened to #Dungeon23 ?

Alas, tis not going to happen this year, I’m afraid. It was derailed when Wizards of the Coast dropped the ball and most of us lost the month of January trying to figure out how to salvage the Open Game License, our work, or help the people we care about.

I’m passionate about this hobby. I’m glad the OGL is going to live on as Creative Commons for now. I still maintain my theories as to why. Next year’s #Dungeon24 will have a better start as a Pathfinder 2E project.

There are so many things I want to do. Let’s hope WotC/D&D stays stable for the rest of 2023. Honestly, no news is good news to me on the Kyle Brink front. Hopefully things are going to stay calm until One D&D finally drops.

A lot of us have jumped or added systems.

Dungeon Crawl Classics has grown. I’m excited to still be making content for it. A lot of my stuff for DCC is going to begin to cross over into 5E or Pathfinder 2E territory as well. If Basic D&D gets some sort of Creative Commons SRD, I’ll be doing things for it as well. Quite honestly 5E is looking pretty good, just not the official licensed stuff.

I’m also still pretty enamored with Powered By the Apocalypse games. FATE also still looks good to me. And if I ever need to do something quick and on the fly, there’s EZ D6. I’ve also got plans for some things using the Cypher System.

Game reviews coming in the month ahead.

I have several product reviews for both 5E creators and other companies that I haven’t had a chance to flesh out yet. A lot of great things have rolled in and gotten pushed aside or neglected with everything else going on. I also see some exciting Kickstarter projects that are worthy of mention. I might not be able to back them, but I can discuss what I know.

I’m also going to do a bit of a Friendly Local Game Shop tour in March to a few locations in Minneapolis and here locally. It coincides with some family field trips, so it’ll be nice to visit up North again.

Lots of other loose ends to tie up this month.

We have some random tables to roll dice on. There are a fair number of things that didn’t make #FrighteningFebruary still to cover. I have several alternatives to D&D I’d like to bring up.

I have a lot of adventures and ideas for adventures in the works. Operation White Box is something I’ve been wanting to create material for. It’s distant cousin, the GI Joe RPG is another game I want to work with. Transformers RPG is also due for and adventure or two sometime yet this year.

My own game/game system.

I’m still tinkering around with my own set of rules and a couple of genres for people to adventure in. What started out as mecha in space has turned into a fantasy game. Truthfully, fantasy games are easier to work with, but even that project can go from zero to daunting in the blink of an eye.

I’m also still tinkering around with other various core rules sets. I’m torn between building the world and lore first, or putting out a system and then the flavor text. That’s why I like the dozens of core rules sets available.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Stay tuned. More to come.

Frightening February Day 27: The Hook.

This one is a bit messier than the others.
#FrighteningFebruary continues.
A Man Without His Hook
“Old Man Winters”
Barnacle Bill

The man with a hook for a hand is an Urban Legend.

CONTENT WARNING! Gore, Body Horror, Torture, Assault, Graphic Depictions of Violence, Occult, Demon, Blood. Reader discretion is recommended.

    Plot Idea 1: A Man Without His Hook.
    We all know the old Urban Legend about the teenager who goes on the date with the Sheriff’s daughter. Things get progressively scarier and the kids high tail it out of there. When they get home, the arm and hook are attached to the kid’s back bumper.

    Well, that’s how it went for Lacey (Sheriff’s daughter) and Amanda. They went out to have some time in the woods alone together and were chased by the stereotypical creep with a hook. Amanda was convinced they ran him over. When they got home, the hook and the arm were still hooked to the luggage rack. Police combed the area for the body, but never found one. Lacey was grounded to her room for life and Amanda’s parents were called.

    The story makes it back to the group and coincides with a rash of mysterious disappearances in the nearby countryside. Every town has its special teen makeout spot, a lover’s lane or Seventh Hill in this case. It borders on an old, rundown, abandoned apple orchard where a bunch of teenagers died in the 1970’s or so the story goes.

    The only survivor back then described being brutally hooked through the collar bone and pulled from her boyfriend’s car before being knocked unconscious. When she awoke, she managed to free herself and run away before the killer came back. She then received medical attention, witness protection, and moved far away from the area. Only recently has Kristy Potroff, now 67, come back to town, but the group can do the research on this if they need to.

    The group may have already heard about the missing persons, including four area teenagers, all last seen at Seventh Hill. An extensive search by law enforcement concluded nothing publicly. Off the record, a missing hunter was found in one of the sheds at the old apple farm, hacked to bits. Not wanting to cause a panic, the sheriff and his men all agreed to keep it quiet.

    Now that Lacey has narrowly escaped a brush with the killer, the Investigators have been called in, which also includes full police cooperation if they can capture or stop the killer before his reign of terror spreads. His implement of choice is a prosthesis baling hook, tempered and sharpened with a serrated back edge. From there, the killer uses a variety of farm tools from sharp knives to pitch forks.

    Can the group stop the Urban Legend Hook Killer before he strikes again? Is it the sheriff’s oldest son? Maybe even Lacey herself? Or Amanda? Or the 70 year old reverend that lives down the road and on the other side of the hill?

    This sets up nicely for multiple Urban Legend scenarios if done carefully. It is up to the Keeper as to whether or not there is an air of the supernatural in this case. Could the killer be making sacrifices in exchange for youth, invincibility, or some other nefarious reason?

    D&D 3E Hook Horror.

    Plot Idea 2: “Old Man Winters”
    This starts in media res after a long night of chasing, and being chased all around an old orchard by a hideous bipedal vulture horror with hooks for hands. The group has discovered that the creature is not supernatural at all, but a man with an animatronic suit. See it turns out Old Man Winters was going to sell the land to a Halloween themed amusement park chain, only the locals petitioned the city to have it made a public landmark. But no one would want to visit a place haunted by a hideous monster.

    They unmask the man in the suit, and as they already suspected, it’s Old Man Winter. After some denouement, he swears revenge on the Investigators. “You haven’t heard the last of me!” he spits while being hauled off in handcuffs.

    Things quiet down for a day or two. police order the area to remain closed until the bodies of two missing teens last seen near the area are found. Winters remains in custody with no next-of-kin to bail him out. The horror suit remains impounded in police lock-up.

    The next night, a report comes in from a sheriff’s deputy of something seen on the road near the orchard. He emptied the entire clip of his Glock 17 into the thing before running away. His patrol car was thrown off the road by the creature. The deputy barely made it to the nearest farm house before whatever it was stopped chasing him. Of course, this makes it back to the group immediately.

    Old Man Winters laughs in his cell. He keeps repeating, “It worked. It finally worked.” He was moved to a private cell after severely injuring another inmate and using the blood to draw a symbol on the floor. Later he was searched when a chalk circle and pentagram was drawn on his cell floor. He openly mocks the group when pressed. He has gone quite mad from captivity and knowing some ancient ritual.

    Can the group stop the horror before anyone else gets hurt? What did the deputy really see? Is it a hoax again or is there something more out there?

    Plot Idea 3: Barnacle Bill
    Bill Barkley came back from his stint in the Navy with a medical discharge and a prosthetic arm. His right arm was sheared off in a freakish accident. Seven of his crewmates were charged for negligence, gross misconduct, and Bill’s injury but were later let off the hook by the JAG office due to insufficient evidence. It didn’t help that is commanding officer didn’t like Bill much.

    Now all of the men have retired from the Navy. Ensign Whitley was the first one to turn up dead. He was flayed through the midsection and his skin held open by large fish hooks. Whitley was gruesomely disemboweled from there. Whitley, a 250+ pound Navy boxer would have been very difficult for one man to take down alone.

    Police are baffled. Then another body turns up. It’s the commanding officer. Lt Stephens is found gruesomely drawn and quartered on a sort of homemade rack with hooks through multiple limbs and his torso. Signs begin to point to something more supernatural. Symbols are found on the floor at the scene in an unrecognizable language.

    Can the Investigators stop Barnacle Bill before he strikes again? Is this the work of a cult or one man? Are there demons involved? What supernatural horror has Bill embraced in exchange for all of his power? (*Please don’t sue me, Mr Barker?)

    Thanks for stopping by. Sorry if this one was off the rails gory. Hope I didn’t scare anyone away.

    Frightening February Day 26: Potion

    #Frightening February
    Immortality Potion Number 9
    Elixir of Luck
    “I just wanted to grow some hair.”

    This trope doesn’t come up enough in horror movies, but it might come up in TTRPG use.

    We all know the story of how love potions work, especially in horror type situations, right? Obsessed guy goes to creepy witch for a love potion. He manages to give it to girl of his dreams. And then:

    Scenario A: She becomes super possessive to the point of murderous rage.
    Scenario B: For whatever reason she decides she can never be with him, so she uh, deletes herself. Tragic.
    Scenario C: He discovers he gave the potion to the wrong person and it becomes super obsessive and possessive. Passionate to the point of tragedy in dream girl’s life and that of others.

    So basically, love potions are right out. What else is there?

    Content Warning: Occult, Substance Abuse, Body Horror, Nazi, Gore, Dark Web. 

    Plot Idea 1: Immortality Potion Number 9.
    Meet LeAnn Ulbrecht, a woman obsessed with staying young and beautiful forever. She had a large cosmetic company built up around the local area. It was a large online mail order business that employed a couple of hundred people. While the company is still running strong, LeAnn is no longer a company figurehead.

    LeAnn hired a chemist, Michael Strock, to create a chemical formula that would grant immortality. Strock was more than the average chemist, however. He was more of an alchemist. And unfortunately for LeAnn, he learned of her rather sketchy social and political leanings.

    Given that Strock’s family suffered greatly under Hitler during WW2, he wasn’t about to grant immortally to someone with those sketchy political leanings and decided to alter the formula slightly. When LeAnn Ulbrecht drank the final product, she immediately knew something had gone horribly wrong.

    LeAnn’s face melted along with the rest of her skin, hair and muscle. She would live forever as a sort of un-dead abomination. She had given most of her assets to Strock who kept demanding more payments and more money as she grew more desperate with every promise of success. Strock laughed as he threw the match that set the lab on fire and walked out that night.

    But LeAnn was not about to be done. She hired a new chemist to work off of Strock’s lab notes she managed to salvage from the fire. Wearing a hood and mask, she planned to make a new army of undead beasts just like her. That’s where our Investigators come in.

    One of LeAnn’s newest test subjects has managed to escape and is running through the streets begging for help from anyone who will listen. Of course, being an alchemically animated walking corpse makes it a little hard to get medical treatment and no one believes him. The group will probably want to get the situation under control before moving onto the bigger problem posed by LeAnn’s lab experiments.

    Plot Idea 2: Elixir of Luck.
    Mike Ulbrecht was a down on his luck factory worker before he went to see Ms Leann the Psychic. His tarot reading was a frightful mess, including the Fool and the Death cards. LeAnn had such frightful news, but a solution, too. She sold him an entire case of her Elixir of Luck, which cost him an entire week’s worth of wages.

    Mike was told to only drink a little bit at a time for the magic to work. But his fortune reading was so frightfully bad, he drank half of the bottles in one night. The stuff tasted of black licorice and cheap vodka. He wasn’t sure how he was going to get lucky, but he could feel his fortune changing right away. Also, he felt slightly intoxicated.

    The next morning, things were looking up. He was on time to work. The floor manager even greeted him on his way in the door. His assignment of the day was in packaging, which everyone knew was a cushy gig. He checked his latest pay stub and there was a $1.30 hourly incentive bonus attached. Rhonda from dispatch slipped a note in his locker with her number on it. Things were great.

    After lunch, however, Ms Leann’s predictions started coming true. He discovered the sandwich he ate from the vending machine was over a week expired. His floor manager re-assigned him to trash detail after lunch Things were only worsened when he threw up all over the boss’ desk. On the way out of the parking lot, his car blew a tire. While changing it, the jack slipped and dropped the car on his foot.

    After discovering his spare tire was flat and borrowing a doughnut tire from one of the guys, he drove himself to the nearest emergency room only to discover his insurance was declined. Upon arriving at home he discovered his rent check bounced and rent was going up. He called Rhonda only to have her husband answer the phone. Desperate, terrified, and in pain, he puts out a call for help. That’s where the Investigators come in.

    Plot Idea 3: “I just wanted to grow hair and cure my baldness.”
    Meet Harvey Murray, a single used car salesman in his late 50s. He began going bald at the tender young age of 28 and has tried a myriad of products to cure it. Nothing works, or nothing works for long. In his desperation, he placed several inquiries on social media for help.

    An anonymous benefactor from a shadier part of the Interwebs offered Harvey a one-time special cure for only $500. Out of sheer desperation, Harvey paid. A few days later, a test tube full of an oily dark red liquid arrived in the mail. The handwritten label on the vial said, “Drink me.”

    The day had finally arrived. He would have hair again. The business would pick up. The girls would call him back. Hair to comb and go to the barber with. It was all finally real! Harvey eagerly popped the cork and consumed the contents of the vial. He could have never predicted what happened next.

    Harvey flopped to the floor as if an unseen force had thrown him down. He twitched and shuddered as handfuls of thick, dark, red hair sprouted from every part of his body imaginable. He cried out in agony as his limbs began to extend while his finger and toenails grew excessively. When the changes finally stopped, he stood up and carefully stumbled to the bathroom.

    He looked in the mirror, sobbing in shock. No tears came out. He parted all of his head/face hair and looked in the mirror. His eyes were sunken deep into his transfigured skull. His teeth were now sharp, pointed fangs in what appeared to be his large skull with hair growing from every pore in his face. Growling with dismay, he hobbled into the kitchen and grabbed a cleaver.

    He hacked his new, thicker, almost bony toenails and fingernails off to a functional length. His hands were no longer recognizable as human, looking more like long, bony, hairy claws. He couldn’t even open his lock screen on this iPhone to call for help. What would he even say?

    Gossamer, c/o Looney Tones on Pintrest.

    Unfortunately, his new hair made the decision for him. It stood him up, almost as if every hair were a strand of powerful muscle. Harvey had become a prisoner inside an 8 1/2 foot tall snarling monster. He burst through the door of his apartment and began a murderous rampage through his building.

    Can he be cured? Can the group get to him in time to stop a massacre? What will stop him or even slow him down? Who sold him the stuff? Will it happen again?

    Be careful what you buy from the shadier portion of the Internet, my friends. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you had fun. See you tomorrow.

    Frightening February Day 24: Vampire.

    Leech Man,
    The Orb.

    We’re well beyond, “I vant to suck your blood. Blah.”

    A lot of us are big fans of Vampire: the Masquerade or Vampire: the Requiem. As such, many TTRPG fans know the vampire TTRPG tropes with clans, social drama, freakish powers, and relationships with werewolves that go well beyond those on TV or movies. Today I want to look at life from the Monster hunter’s perspective ala Monster of the Week or similar games where vampires are not the protagonist. I also want to dive into vampires that aren’t the standard Transylvanian bipedal human magical parasites.

    Content Warning: Body Horror, Blood, Gore, Parasites, Psychological Horror, Violence

    Plot Idea 1: Leech Man. Recently several bodies have turned up next to a nearby lake completely exsanguinated. The evidence collected from the various bodies is that they’re all local residents, many of whom lived near the lake. All showed signs of physical trauma- each having been dragged or pushed to the lake. All had two concentric circles with small triangular marks inside them on the chest, under the arm, or inside the thigh.

    The group will hear about this through one of their police or coroner’s office contacts. The police are trying to keep the whole thing quiet because they don’t want widespread public panic. They’re also trying to keep it from becoming a federal investigation. With the death toll rising by the day, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to fend off reporters, concerned families, and bystanders as another body is pulled from the water. The bizarre condition of the bodies has the police concerned there could be an element of the paranormal involved.

    The Keeper will ultimately decide if the creature is some sort of alien, cryptid, weird science experiment, or some other explanation. The creature in question is a five and a half foot tall humanoid with pale skin, tentacles for arms and a human head. Its mouth is a large sucker, like that of a lamprey containing multiple rows of teeth that point inward, making it easy to stay attached to its prey.

    Will the group put a stop to the creature before surveillance footage is leaked to the press? Is the creature acting alone or are there more? Could the creature be working to feed its offspring?

    Plot Idea 2: Vamp-abetic? Hector was not an average run-of-the-mill vampire. He has a predilection for feeding on very specific victims. Surveillance footage from local convenience stores show him buying large amounts of sugary, caffeinated beverages for his victims. Sometimes energy drinks or other stimulants, but almost always lots of sugar. It should be important to note most, if not all Hector’s victims are people with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. Almost all of Hector’s victims survive, but remember very little beyond the sugar rush and the human bite marks on their neck.

    Despite the massive sugar and caffeine intake, all of the victims report low blood sugars after the incident. A few have been hospitalized with diabetic complications, but all have survived so far. Hector migrates frequently, never staying in the same town for more than a few weeks. He will leave town sooner if he thinks the police or local convenience store managers are growing suspicious.

    It has been shown that after Hector feeds, he is capable of moving at almost blinding speeds for a few hours. However, sustaining such speeds often requires him to feed again afterward. Unlike typical vampires, he is only mildly allergic to sunlight and has been seen in the early morning or early evening hours. The age on his driver’s license says 32, but he looks a lot younger. The few victims who remember him all say he’s quite charming and polite.

    Is Hector a vampire? Can the group contain him before he leaves town? What if his attacks suddenly become more deadly? What would happen if police were to intervene during one of his attacks? Can he be reasoned-with?

    iStock photo

    Plot Idea 3: The Orb. How this creature came about is a mystery left for the Keeper to decide. Is it intelligent ball lightning? Perhaps a UFO? Maybe it’s a paranormal apparition such as a Willow-the-Wisp in the modern era. Could it be mad science gone wrong, having escaped a nearby lab?

    The group is alerted to a large, glowing ball of lightning that is blazing a path through town. It’s absorbing every ounce of electrical energy, including bioelectricity, from every source in its path. Can it be stopped, detained, or diverted to somewhere harmless? What if it splits or grows to an incredible size?

    Is it intelligent? Where did it come from? Is there a way to survive contact with it?

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